Tag Archives: biden

Episode 43 – Biden Time for the Economy


With unemployment reaching its highest level in 26 years and Vice President Biden’s recent comments that the administration misread how bad the economy was that they inherited, Jeff and Glenn, in one of their most passionate and provocative episodes ever, question why there is no consistent focus on the economy from all branches of government. Glenn offers a dramatic and creative idea to add an immediate stimulus to the economy, while awaiting the long-term systemic effects to kick in. Jeff wonders if we’re in a jobless recovery, where a select few — Wall Street, certain corporations like WalMart, McDonalds and Philip Morris and banks will do well while the rest of the economy stagnates. Always entertaining and informative, it’s PoliTalk — your weekly political podcast.

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An Interesting Case AGAINST Judge Sotomayor

Now is not the time to render judgment…so let me start this entry by rendering judgment:) As the nomination process unfolds for a new Supreme Court Justice, I know from my experience in the Senate and in working on Justice Souter’s confirmation hearing just how important certain qualities are. Intellectual curiosity, empathy and innate political skills — the ability to move votes — to work justices behind the scenes, to negotiate — are three qualities that need be prized in the next justice. There’s no doubt that whoever rises to the top will have the requisite legal credentials. But would you run the risk of compromising the aformentioned qualities in order to meet a quota? Or, given a choice, would you select someone who better fits this criteria who maybe didn’t fit a politically-driven quota, like, oh I don’t know, former Senator George Mitchell? or maybe even former Vice President Al Gore?  To better understand my point, a point I made in our most recent Podcast, you can read this excellent article from NPR.org by Jeffrey Rosen — a brilliant writer and legal scholar… 

The Taliban and Pakistan: An Unholy Alliance

With our economy in shambles, unemployment growing, AIG taking more in bonuses than already announced, automakers going bankrupt, troops going into Afghanistan, so much debate about torture in the last administration, there seems to be little focus in Congress on a true national security crisis: the growing relationship between the Taliban and the government of Pakistan. An odd relationship, one where I imagine each side wants to be rid of the other, but where each is equally co-dependently dysfunctionally relient on the other, like a cancer to its host.   To learn more, just read this excellent article in this week’s Newsweek by Fareed Zakaria, which can be found here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/173014. Until we can understand the problem, we’re just helping the cancer spread, and ironically, it may affect us. Congress needs to immediately stop all military assistance to Pakistan, and then pass the Biden-Lugar bill. — Jeff

Time to Channel Lincoln: There Really is a Crisis

$1.2 trillion was taken out of people’s pocket’s yesterday — not Wall Street Titans, but nurses, union laborers, teachers, carpenters — anyone who has a retirement account or an IRA. You lost money. You got screwed by Congress’ sheepish inability to see past the next election. To make matters worse, read the following story about how rates are soaring and banks aren’t lending money. In addition, the financial cancer is spreading globally and banks are now starting to fail in Europe. Meanwhile, in order to stay afloat and protect their own balance sheets, banks are calling loans. Not just mortgage loans, but business loans. I know. I’m seeing it happen in my own family. In order to meet those loans, businesses are starting to lay off people. Again, not just Wall Street Titans, but regular folks like you and me.

Congress had the opportunity to do something that was necessary but unpopular. Real leadership involves leading people — explaining to us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. This is unpopular because we have a Congress that talks of bipartisanship but doesn’t practice it, and we have Congressmen who are more willing to save their own backside than take a risk and really explain this. In addition, we have a President who is so unpopular and whose policies led us into this mess in the first place (Nancy Pelosi was right, just not right to say what she did when she did) that he can’t even convince his own party to do the right thing.

This reminds me of another moment in time: the abolition of slavery. What if Lincoln thought it was just too hard, too politically risky to confront a crisis facing our nation? Where is the political will? Where is the outrage? Where are those who will stand up and lead us?  Where is the President? What if Lincoln gave a couple speeches in the rose garden and just kind of mailed the rest in? Why isn’t the President out there fighting for this — visiting the districts of the two thirds of Republicans who voted against him complaining of this. This is his legacy. The Dow is now lower than it was when he took office. This is primarily a failure of Republican philosophy and Republican deregulatory infatuation. So now that we’re in this mess, they have a responsibility to help get us out of it. They, and everyone else who holds a vote in Congress. — Jeff

Kennedy-Nixon: Take 2

I’m struck by history repeating itself.  What strikes me substantively is how little time they spent discussing the most pressing issue of the day — The Bailout (talking about cutting spending was a smart anecdote, but not a serious policy discussion). I also think it will be impossible to credibly say that Obama doesn’t have command of foreign policy. He more than held his ground.

It will be shocking to see the difference between the initial reaction and the impression that settles over time. I strongly urge everyone to read the transcript Glenn posted and watch the debate. Like Kennedy-Nixon, I think most people reading the transcript will say that McCain held his ground, like Nixon did. If you listen, you may say it’s a draw. But if you watch with the sound off, or put another way, once you get past what you intellectualize and take in what you “feel” about the candidates, there’s no way you can ignore McCain’s fascinating body language. Even Nixon had the intutive smarts to look Kennedy in the eye — something McCain amazingly couldn’t do. McCain’s anger and Obama’s relative calm under pressure, his firm yet steady demeanor, will win voters over.

I don’t know much, but I’m willing to bet the farm on this one: the analysts will initially call this a draw — McCain seizing ground on the economy, Obama more effective on foreign policy, but the delayed reaction, and history, will view Obama as the clear winner.

— Jeff

P.S. If McCain thinks Obama doesn’t “understand,” and can’t appreciate things because he hasn’t traveled places, what in the world is he going to say about his running mate’s fitness for office now?