Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Triumphant Return of Live Blogging!

There hasn't been an opportunity to live-blog since the election ... until tonight!!Ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnesssoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcited ... here we go!!

8:24PM - Oh dear, I turn on CNN and the first thing I see is something called the "Economic Real Feel Index", which is some utterly incomprehensible combination of unemployment rate, personal income, personal savings, and some other factors that they ran through MUCH too quickly. Could be useful to provide some context, but they need to spend more than 45 seconds explaining it.

8:36PM - Anderson Cooper has his hands in his pockets.

8:38PM - Cooper and Blitzer tell us that Bobby Jindal (governor R-LA) will be delivering the Republican response, and that he will probably say he'll be refusing some of the stimulus money. It's an odd game of chicken Jindal's playing. On the one hand, if previous reports are accurate, Jindal's only refusing 2% of the total aid to his state, which isn't exactly a staggering risk. On the other hand, if you advertise that you're not going to take stimulus money and your state's economy tanks, you can kiss your political future goodbye, even if you actually took pretty much all of it anyway.

8:45PM - One thing worth keeping in mind: as of today, Obama's been in office for a grand total of 5 weeks. People wondering where all the promised change is hiding need to take a deep breath and chill.

8:47PM - Kerry's hair got gray, almost silver even. Weird.

8:49PM - Some senators have been at the Congress since 8:30 this morning to stake out an aisle seat. Gives you an idea of just how anxious some are to be seen with him.

8:50PM - Candy Crowley's lost weight. Good for her.

9:03PM - Justice Ginsburg, who's recovering from surgery related to pancreatic cancer, is getting a standing ovation. Well deserved.

9:04PM - Laura Bush's dresses were always quite conservative. Michelle Obama's dresses decidely less so, but quite tasteful.

9:05PM - WHOA .... Hillary Clinton's pant suit is H-O-T-P-I-N-K. Is the attempt to draw attention to herself conscious, or unconscious, I wonder?

9:16PM - Obama messes up the start of his first congressional address by trying to talk over Pelosi. Whoops.

9:17PM - Pelosi's dress is very Californian.

9:18PM - Strong start. After acknowledging that we're in some pretty difficult times, he says "We will rebuild. We will recover." which only reinforces that there's something very wrong now.

9:20PM - Goes right into a laundry list of what else is wrong, like energy, healthcare, schools, etc. "Surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy." Heh, that's gonna raise some conservative hackles.

9:23PM - What's the shiny thing in front of Pelosi? Looks like some kind of intricate memo holder.

9:24PM - 57 police officers are on the streets tonight in Minneapolis that would've been laid off if not for the stimulus. Good piece of data.

9:25PM - Good line about tax cuts.

9:25PM - "Cause nobody messes with Joe." If that doesn't go on a mug somewhere, someone's not doing their job.

9:27PM - Spends just a little time reassuring that savings are secure, and that it's lending and credit flow, or lack of it, that's the real problem. He did it in a good way too, not dismissing it, but just matter of factly saying it's not a problem.

9:30PM - Says pretty clearly that he doesn't care if Wall Street goes down, no-strings-attached bailouts won't solve anything, and that banks will be held accountable. Standing ovation now for the dig at CEO's.

9:32PM - Obama does a much better job of talking to Americans instead of to Congress than his recent predecessors did.

9:34PM - Obama talks about the budget pretty frankly and openly, and that there are going to be tradeoffs. Eh. To be perfectly honest, I will believe that when I see it.

9:37PM - Good bit about how government isn't a problem, but has historically been a catalyst for all the major accomplishments in our nation's history.

9:38PM - Obama's first term theme: energy, healthcare, and education.

9:39PM - Electric cars built in Detroit ... that run on batteries made in Korea. Heh.

9:39PM - Sets a goal for doubling renewable energy in 3 years, plus thousands of miles of power lines. Wow, ambitious. Ahh, we will do that by putting some kind of tax on carbon, which Obama just asked for. That will definitely help, and provide a good boost to revenue as well.

9:41PM - Car stuff. Completely random though, but it occurs to me that I've been watching too much Stargate lately, and it's actually a bit of a shock to me to remind myself that we don't know of any civilizations in our galaxy besides our own, and we're working completely in vacuum.

9:42PM - Time for heathcare, both in the speech and policy-wise. Standing ovation for CSHIP, which covered 11 million children, and which only got through once Obama became president.

9:43PM - He plugs electronic health records. This is one thing that I really can't understand why we haven't done anything about yet. If you walked into a bank and asked to open an account, and they pulled out a giant book and started scribbling information into a ledger, you'd walk right out. Yet our health records, arguably the most important personal records in our life, are permanently kept in rows of file-folders with spidery handwriting that nobody can read, are frequently lost or damaged, and never around when you need them in an emergency. Why the information necessary to save your life isn't up to the standard of preferred-shopper key tags eludes me.

9:45PM - Healthcare legislation next week??? Dude, Obama, you're only human. Don't take too much on at once.

9:49PM - Plugs higher education. Lots of good stuff, including incentives for some kind of national service, which is explicitly NOT necessarily military.

9:51PM - Oooo... here we go with the debt. This should be interesting.

9:52PM - "With the deficit we inherited" got a standing ovation from the Democratic side. ZING!!!

9:53PM - $2 trillion in savings over the next decade? Wow, that's pretty good if true. Hmm, eliminate unneeded farm subsidies, no-bid contracts in Iraq, and Cold War era weapons systems. Each of which is necessary, and each of which has incredibly powerful interest groups opposed to any cuts. Cautiously optimistic on this one.

9:54PM - Taxes. Less than $250K, no tax increase, and actually a tax cut, with checks on the way. It was good that he called that out.

9:56PM - Tax free universal savings accounts. Congress, and I, don't know what exactly to make of that.

9:57PM - Yes, we are finally, finally, including the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget. A lot of people don't realize that they weren't included in the budget, and that Bush used an accounting gimick to keep their costs out of his deficit numbers by using emergency appropriations bills. This will start to make reality real again.

9:59PM - He says he will expand the size of the Army and Marines, but for what, exactly? If we're truly pulling back from Iraq we don't need a million plus soldiers, and we're already dredging the bottom of the barrel.

10:00PM - "The United States of America DOES NOT TORTURE." That simple statement, seemingly so incontroversial, needed to be said, and will do a lot.

10:06PM - Eh, he's getting sappy now.

10:08PM - The silver thing is an intricate paper in/out box!! When they did the shot from behind you could tell.

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