Automakers finalize turnaround plans for bailout money

It looks like the automakers will have plans ready for Congress by Tuesday, and the Big Three should be getting some concessions from the UAW as well.

The lamest of all possible ducks

Leave it to Joe Klein to sum up the sad spectacle of George W. Bush limping to the finish line of his failed presidency.

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George Washington were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what John Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks.

Watching Obama name a cabinet of all-stars is reassuring, though Bush also appointed heavyweights with impressive resumes. You can have the best team in the world, but that team will fail without strong leadership. I’m optimistic that Obama will fare much better than W.

Klein ends his column with a final indictment of Bush’s presidency.

In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one.

Obama’s appointments

So far, Obama’s appointments have been very impressive. A few liberals are complaining that he is picking too many moderates, but that’s just typical griping.

More importantly, liberals like Paul Krugman recognize that Obama is assembling a team of all-stars.

Seriously, isn’t it amazing just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing. For a bunch of people who were written off as a permanent minority four years ago, the Democrats look remarkably like the natural governing party these days, with a deep bench of talent.

That doesn’t mean they’ll succeed — this might be a good time to reread The Best and the Brightest. But what an improvement!

Democrats punt on auto bailout

It’s striking how inept Reid and Pelosi appear on this issue. The Bush administration isn’t helping matters, but someone needs to take leadership here. Obama is trying to stay on the sidelines, but at some point he needs to speak up and take a strong position.

Meanwhile, the stock market is cratering on the news that a bailout deal has not been reached.

Everyone here is playing with fire. This is not about the auto companies, the unions or whether executives came to Washington on private jets. This is about a fragile economy that could fall into chaos if GM goes bankrupt. Nobody knows precisely what would happen, but taking that risk seems insane at this point.

Someone needs to start actng like a grownup here.

Stevens loses in Alaska

The Democrats are now at 58 seats, with the possibility of getting two more. The AP has called the race for Mark Begich in Alaska.

Convicted Sen. Ted Stevens lost his re-election bid to Democrat Mark Begich after the last large batch of votes was counted Tuesday.

The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday’s count.

That’s an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.

Ted Stevens represented everything that was wrong with politics in Washington, as he steered millions of pork dollars back to Alaska. Oh, and he was also a convicted felon. It’s a disgrace that the race ws even this close, but at least he won’t be returning to the Senate. Also, we won’t have to face the potential drama of Sarah Palin appointing herself to this seat in the event that Stevens won and then was removed from the Senate.

More carnage in real estate market

Things keep getting worse in places like Southern California.

For the first time in the current housing downturn, the majority of Southern California homes sold in October — 51% — had been foreclosed, a real estate information service reported today.

The median sales price for homes fell to $300,000, a level not seen since 2003 and a 41% drop from the peak price set in the spring and summer of 2007, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego. Los Angeles County’s median home sales price was $355,000, down 29% from a year ago. Sales in L.A. County were up 56% from a year ago.

Low prices continued to draw bargain-hunting buyers. The total of 21,532 houses and condominium units sold in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Ventura, Riverside and San Diego counties was up 67% from the same month a year ago.

The good news is that buyers are coming in to snatch up homes at bargain prices.

Peter Schiff vs. Art Laffer and all the other cheerleaders

Peter Schiff has been calling the mortgage crisis and the recession for years. This video shows Schiff battling the likes of Art Laffer and Ben Stein, who were arguing last year that the US economy was in great shape and that there was no problem with inflated home values or the sub-prime mess.

Laffer is the same guy saying the sky will fall if Obama institutes his tax plan. Why should we listen to this guy?

For years we were told that tax cuts would solve everything. Of course, we were just living it up on cheap money, and now the bill is coming due. Watch the video, and ask yourself who you should be listening to now.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

Crazy Keith

23/6 compiled Keith Olbermann’s special comments in one crazy and hilarious minute.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

I’m a fan of Olbermann’s show, but I can see why some don’t like him much, and this clip shows him at his self-righteous worst. That said, he was one of the first in the media to call out the Bush administration for their more outrageous acts, so much of the bluster was more than warranted.

Also, there’s one big difference between Keith and other blowhards like Bill O’Reilly – he has a sense of humor and can laugh at himself. I first saw this clip on Keith’s show. He also showed the over-the-top SNL skit about him last week.

O’Reilly, on the other hand, would probably have put 23/6 on his enemies list, calling them left-wing radicals for questioning him in any way.

The Sarah Palin show

Obviously, it’s time to move beyond Sarah Palin, but she keeps inserting herself in the news by agreeing to do all the interviews that she should have done when she was a candidate for high office.

The results have not been impressive. She’s incapable of giving logical answers to most substantive questions, and she throws out more cliches than any politician in recent memory. That’s quite an accomplishment.

I was watching a panel of Republican governors today on C-Span, and it’s striking how impressive governors like Mark Sanford and Tim Pawlenty can be when discussing the future of the GOP. Sarah Palin just doesn’t measure up.

It’s fun watching Republicans argue about the future of their party, but they will not make much progress as long as many in the base remain fixated with Sarah Palin.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

Huh?

News outlets are reporting that Hillary Clinton is under consideration for Secretary of State. I guess Obama wasn’t kidding when he said he was considering the Lincoln model of a team of rivals.

There’s increasing chatter in political circles that the Obama camp is not overly happy with the usual suspects for secretary of state these days and that the field might be expanding somewhat beyond Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and maybe former Democratic senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.

There’s talk, indeed, that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) may now be under consideration for the post. Her office referred any questions to the Obama transition; Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment.

I’m a little puzzled by this one. I think she would be much better suited for a career in the Senate where she could work on issues like health care. She’s certainly up to the job, and she would have Bill Clinton as a resource, but it seems like there are many other options. On the other hand, it shows that he’s willing to bring in some of the best people in the party, and that he’s not afraid to have big personalities in his administration.

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