Return of the Three-Point Shot

By Al Giordano

Last summer, prior to the Democratic National Convention in Denver and candidate Obama's choice of Senator Joe Biden as vice presidential nominee, we talked a lot here at The Field about what we called "the three point shot." Some of us had hoped that a VP would be chosen from outside the three point line (the Washington DC beltway) in order to allow nominee Obama to "run against Washington," and also because changing the ways that Washington operates has been wrapped up in the political DNA of Obama's rise from the start. It's what brought so much of the authentic grassroots to his army.

To the extent there have been some banana peels causing slips or stumbles along the path of the transition and early days of the Obama presidency, they've virtually all been due to the President's attempts to put the apparatus of Washington to work for him before that bureaucracy and system has gone through much change. The imposed withdrawal of former Senator Tom Daschle as health care czar and Health and Human Services Secretary came as a result o uot;> // --> f Daschle's own ballast that kept him too deeply stuck in that system and its trappings. The appointment of former Senator Clinton as Secretary of State, the retention of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and the resurrection of many figures from the 1990s Clinton administration, were understandable moves (and some - like Clinton at State - have already begun to work better than I, at least, had anticipated - more on that in a future post) in terms of removing some of those forces as obstacles.

But the delay in realizing that all-important part of Obama's campaign that had from the beginning signified a storming of the gates of DC has made the transition and nascent presidency, in key ways, less of a crusade. In two words: less fun. Then again, governing will rarely bring the adrenaline of the contests over who gets to govern.

And yet, here we are. The "fun" part came back today, in full glory. The President's visit to economically devastated Elkhart, Indiana put him back outside - in basketball terms - that mythic three point line. Peter Baker of the New York Times, the "pool reporter" covering the flight to Indiana, quoted White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod on the airplane ride out of DC:

"One thing that we learned over two years," Axelrod added, "is that there's a whole different conversation in Washington than there is out here. If I had listened to the conversation in Washington during the campaign for president, I would have jumped off a building about a year and a half ago."

He continued: "The American people are desperate for us to act. They understand that we're in crisis. They're living it every single day "Obviously the place we are going to today is one of the more severely hit communities. But all communities are. They're not into the machinations that folks in Washington are. They're not sweating this detail or that detail. They're certainly not buying into the argument that, you know, the New Deal was a failure and we shouldn't intervene."

In other words, now that the first step - co-opting those inside levers of power in Washington that co uld be domesticated without a fight - has been completed, the second step - harnessing the power of the people to get out its whip and discipline the insider stragglers - has begun anew.

The Elkhart "town meeting" was filled to capacity with 2,500 citizens. And Obama wasted no time in getting back to the acknowledgement of the divide between Washington and the people and organizing the latter to push upon the former:

We can no longer posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place - and that the American people rejected at the polls this past November.  You didn't send us to Washington because you were hoping for more of the same.  You sent us there with a mandate for change, and the expectation that we would act quickly and boldly to carry it out - and that is exactly what I intend to do as President of the United States...

I also can't tell you with one hundred percent certainty that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope.  But I can tell you with complete confidence that endless delay or paralysis in Washington in the face of this crisis will bring only deepening disaster.

We've had a good debate.  Now it's time to act.  That's why I am calling on Congress to pass this bill immediately.  Folks here in Elkhart and across America need help right now, and they can't afford to keep on waiting for folks in Washington to get this done. 

This is what Obama meant during the campaign in his oft-misunderstood and oft-distorted statements of admiration for the late president Ronald Reagan's governing style. Not since Reagan has any US president successfully "governed against Washington" in order to get Washington off its bloated lazy ass and moving. Those who saw it as a left-right dialectic were mistaken: it is a below-above dichotomy, or, better put, the return of the outside to put the inside back inside proper limits to its power.

The President looked, at least on live TV, absolutely thrilled to be out of Washington and back among the people. He facilitated a participatory question and answer session in that meeting of 2,500 people - even calling on raised hands up in the nosebleed seats. He made the point that the questions weren't screened. And when one woman asked him whether he would take up Fox News' right-wing screamer Sean Hannity's invitation to the President to have a beer with him, it was clear that there indeed had been no screening or planting of questions. Additionally, when some in the crowd sought to boo the woman, Obama defended her questions and her right to speak. (That, too, is "bipartisanship," also known as respect for "the other.")

I can't remember in my lifetime a president of the US that subjected himself to such an unscripted mass participatory meeting as Obama did today. And yet he was in his element. Intellectually curious people get bored when all chaos as been locked out of our realities, after all. He had the crowd at "hello." And he had them even more so at goodbye. More significantly, he positioned himself as with the people outside the three point line, as their moral representative to push their institutional representatives to, well, represent them, dammit.

This takes place of course in the context of the roll out of Organizing for America. The reports of last weekend's first 300 house meetings out of 3,500+ are beginning to trickle in. The Indianapolis Star reports:

For Peter and Mollie Williams, the election of Barack Obama might have been the culmination of their efforts as community organizers.

But they did not want it to be the end.

On Saturday, they opened their Lawrence Township home for a public discussion on the new president's economic stimulus proposal, one of about 3,000 such meetings scheduled this weekend throughout the country at the urging of Obama and the national Democratic Party...

About 16 similar meetings were planned in Central Indiana.

We don't yet know how many such meetings were held in Northern Indiana near Elkhart, but Politico has some relevant national numbers:

5,265 - Number of stories received in the last 24 hours in writing/video via the economic recovery hotline

3,587 - Number of total meetings in all 50 states plus DC 

2,328 - Number of different zip codes that had meetings

1,579 - Number of unique cities that had meetings 

429 - Number of congressional districts (435 in all) that had house meetings 

255 - Number of meetings in Florida (POTUS heads there tomorrow) 

149 - Number of meetings in Texas 
126-Number of meetings in Georgia 

63 - Number of congressional Districts that had 10 or more events

Sean Quinn of 538, not surprisingly, has the kind of details in his write up that reveal the important basics that traditional journalists almost always overlook:

I gathered along with 35 other people at Yvette Lewis' house in Bowie, Maryland for an incredibly well-structured "stimulus party." Approximately 2/3 were women, the majority African-American, and nearly all over age 30...

Economically, the Bowie house party took place in a well-off suburban setting, but there was a socioeconomic range among the attendees. Some, like Nannette Johnson, had recently lost jobs and spoke of children who had lost jobs. Most were Democrats, but a few were independents and "Obamacans." Many knew each other, most were local and had volunteered out of the Largo, MD field office during the campaign, but one woman, Tricia Barnett, had driven nearly two hours from St. Mary's County in southern Maryland "to be part of an active group."

Yvette Lewis played host and ringleader, and right off the bat she announced that this wasn't just a party, but "a working session." Most importantly she explained, while Lewis would provide the space and the meeting structure, the concept wouldn't work unless all took ownership, and all took action. Working together and feeding off each other's energy, individuals would make choices and ultimately do the work themselves.

The inane reports by some news agencies that these numbers are somehow underwhelming only underscore the media's lack of understanding about how organizing projects are built from the ground up. We've been over that in previous posts here. Just compare what is happening now with what usually occurrs with a change of the party in power at the White House. When Clinton became president in 1993, no such effort was made. Instead, local Democratic Party organizations - each with their own preexisting officers, factions and internal power struggles - became the only possible loci for anybody that wanted to be involved face to face with others from the campaign, and most newcomers that did attend a local party meeting probably wanted to run out screaming and in any case never came back.

By taking the locus of convocational power outside of the party institutions and onto the turf of the volunteers - their homes - Organizing for America has already pretty much assured its future successes. The instructions were not to make motions, seek seconds, debate resolutions or one-up-man-ship over superior grasp of Robert's Rules of Order, but, rather, for the participants to share their own stories of how the economic crisis impacts them and their families.

In one fell swoop, the Democratic Party has created a new and wider foundation for itself through this single weekend of modestly attended house meetings. The point wasn't to send all the troops into a frenzy of outraged phone calls to members of Congress, but, rather, to begin to build a lasting organizational muscle to shape public opinion and the polls that members of Congress slavishly allow to guide them: to bring the conversation outside of Washington and away from its conversation-killing habits.

Which brings us back to the "three point shot." When we talked about it last summer, it was often in the context of the possibility that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine would be a smart choice for vice president to keep that grassroots movement pushing on Washington from the outside. It didn't happen that way, and yet it is happening now. Kaine is now at the helm of the DNC and co-architect, with veteran campaign organizers, of the Organizing for America project.

So the exact path to outside of the three-point line was not something I or anybody else was able to forecast last summer. And yet here it is. Three points. Swish! Tomorrow it will be made anew from Fort Myers, Florida, with some real bipartisan backing from that state's Republican Governor Charlie Crist (does anybody really think that would have been possible had the president taken the advice of the nuclear war option enthusiasts of stale partisanship?). He shoots. He scores. And the folks in the bleachers have leaped a giant step closer to regaining our legitimate ownership of the stadium.

Tonight, starting in ten minutes, the President will hold a live prime time televised press conference. The drinking game that will assuredly get you tipsy will be to down a shot every time he answers with the words, "Elkhart, Indiana." (The opening statement is embargoed, but I can say that you'll have to down two shots just at that.)

My guess is that he'll pull the three-point shot out on another lethargic institution inside the Beltway - the White House press corps - making it visible to all that they, too, have to listen to the word of the vast American public out there. Wonder which boy on the bus will be slow enough to walk right into the path of the ball and get beaned on national TV.

Update: Some real time comments on the press conference... In response to the first question from AP, the President mentions Elkhart twice. Drink!

Update II: He makes the important point that the Stimulus Bill doesn't end the legislative work to be done. (More battles are upcoming.)

Update III: Third question on whether the President will now abandon "bipartisanship." Obama: His overtures "were not designed to get short term votes. They were designed to build up trust over time." Then he brings it back to "what's happening to the people of Elkhart..." (Drink!) Speaks of the "continuing efforts to engage with my Republican colleagues" and speaks to the "tone" in Washington. Notes that "we can deal with" some worthy programs not in the Stimulus package "later." "I'm going to keep on engaging. I hope that everybody is willing to give a little bit" (in the House-Senate conference committee on the Stimulus Bill).

Update IV: Paraphrasing the President, here: Part of the problem in Elkhart (gulp!) where they make recreational vehicles is that people who want to buy them can't get loans to buy them and companies that make them can't get loans in this credit slowdown. "If we get things right, starting next year we can start to see significant improvement." Cites as two biggest yardsticks of whether the Stimulus succeeds are, one, whether it creates or saves four million jobs and, two, whether loans and credit get moving again.

Update V: This is history making. The president calls upon a blogger - Sam Stein at the Huffington Post - at a nationally televised prime time press conference. Gate, consider yourself crashed.

Update VI: He brings out the bipartisan stick: "Some members of my party have thought that only money will solve problems." Whack!

Update VII: After the press conference, a comment on CNN: "The press has said he's 'explaining what's going on in Washington to the American people,' but I got the sense he was explaining the American people to Washington DC." Bingo. Meanwhile, over on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris is a bit tongue-tied trying to find holes in "what was obviously a very impressive performance." O'Reilly complains that Obama's answers to the questions were too long!



What a great post Al

it was a great townhall meeting


It is a great presser



President Obama is in TOP FORM

I am loving, loving, loving this.

An adult!

Who can think on his feet!

Who speaks intelligently, and thoughtfully.

Who speaks with passion and conviction.

And as far as him hitting the endless talking points of the past week-- phenomenal.

We need an Obama so badly here in California. Thank god we've got him in Washington right now.


Also very much like

the clarification on the "pork" meme.


Al, you write: "But the delay in realizing that all-important part of Obama's campaign that had from the beginning signified a storming of the gates of DC has made the transition and nascent presidency, in key ways, less of a crusade. In two words: less fun."


"The 'fun' part came back today, in full glory"

Once again, the shade of Alinsky smiles:  isn't one of his rules "A good tactic is one your people enjoy."?



Ouch. I wish he hadn't used RV sales as an example, even thought it was very apropos Elkhart. Jim Kunstler is going to have a fit.

watching a master at work

It is a pleasure to watch a master at work - and highly amusing to watch the MSM catch up with this administration. After two weeks of pissing and moaning and headlines about the end to the  honeymoon, Obama's fatal "weakness" in seeking bipartisanship, it's starting to dawn on some talking heads that Obama and his administration have been working to a master script all along. Was listening to Monday night's Olberman and their political correspondent came up with this nugget: there will be a compromise in the Senate. Senators will come on board. At the end of this process, Republicans have been backed into a split narrative: either they opposed the stimulus package all along because it was wrong, or they voted for a simulus package and can claim to have moderated the spending. Not both.

Nooooooo shit, genius. Some of us have been saying this all along, plus the fact that Obama wasn't even playing the Washington game, but rather showing the rest of the country what is possible and who is on side with the American people. All this without ever having to explicitly say it.

The economy is in meltdown...

...we are engaged in two wars and the globe is warming daily. I think this is a perfect time to talk about steroid use in baseball. That's what the American people really want to talk about!

helen hearst inaugural death trap by Helen Hearst...trying to get him to state that Israel has nukes. Interesting sidestep, talking about avoiding a nuclear arms arms race requires two participants.

@ Erin


some people are going to go beserk over...

the continued insistence that he takes bipartisanship seriously.

They'll go crazy over it, notwithstanding that he is simultaneously advocating very progressive positions.

All is well in America tonight ... be at ease

All ready this is a world record for me. Please, tell me the last time a president of the U.S. held a real press conference, being asked tough questions, intelligently, for this length of time.

Have to be honest though, everytime I watch these msm press cogs ask questions, reading notes they probably spent hours drafting, some of it during their potty breaks today, and Obama answering them in true stand-up form -- not prescreened like Bush was prone, hell, did -- makes Obama right away look good.

But, it's dragging right now. The heart of it is over. Everything now is sound bytes and clip quotes for tomorrow's papers [stenographers] looking for an inside story to take the pressure off that week's story quota, or by wearing him down, a slip-up, for a lead they can all banner.

Having been part of this dance, not with presidents, but at least with the winner of the Alice County Oyster Festival Queen Contest, I know the game well.....

His patience is admirable. But then, I get the sense he is the smartest man in the room, and talks like a saxophone.

Didn't like that punt on the "flag-draped coffins" question

This shouldn't need any review.  The right thing to do is to be transparent about the human cost of war.

I have the feeling

That The MSM present just figured out that the new Boss is not like the old Boss, and they might be better served asking more intelligent questions.

There was no hype or talking down to, we were just told, it's bad and I hear you out there.

I am so Happy to have This man in the drivers seat.


@ Russell

Russell - I think what will happen on that is they'll lift the cloak but he'll have Gates or someone from the high military command make the announcement and explain it in military terms. Not being a veteran himself, that would be the smart way to do it. To announce it himself would open an underbelly to attack and distortion: that this non-military guy doesn't understand what it is to be a soldier or family of one. Just like when he said he'll wait for his Secretary of Treasury to answer one of the questions on the bank bailout tomorrow, this is a question ideally answered by a member of the military command (under orders from the commander in chief, of course). But Bill Clinton, early in his presidency, caused multiplying problems for himself with the perception that a non-veteran was micro-managing the military (in his case, with Don't Ask Don't Tell).


Interesting how President Obama's comments on bipartisanship could be spoken to an audience of either the right or the left.  Almost like he's speaking to both of them....


Well, it's been more than eight years since we've had long, thoughtful presidential news conferences - this was a very good performance. I liked the long answers, the transparency of reason in President Obama tonight. Sure, he was long-winded at times - good! So was Bill Clinton.

My kids (16, 14, and 10) watched every minute - that's change I can believe in. We can each be critical of individual policies and decisions - I don't believe in political purity. But I liked what I saw tonight.

And how quickly is VP Biden becoming the comic foil to his boss, eh? Heh-heh.

We have a leader

How refreshing to have a president who can grasp issues, explain them and be honest about the challenge we face.

One thought I had while listening was: R's who are tone deaf to the mood of the people need to be prepared to be tossed out next time an election comes up. They may think they are safe in their DC world - voters can see and can be motivated to vote.

Obama is smart

I was so impressed with this display.  As he showed so many times in his campaign, the man just has a knack for explaining things in a way that convinces you that he actually knows what he is talking about, which is amazing for a politician.  That is why I argued with my friends so many times that I thought his skill set (professor, organizer) was superior going into the campaign, when people were locked into the debate on who had more time in government metric.  Anyhow, it's coming out in spades today, and it's awesome to watch.

I have to say, too, that I was equally impressed when he slipped into a conversation about baseball midway, showing that he is in tune with the regular peeps.  He took the question seriously and correctly pointed out how it is relevant for people, for kids who look up to these figures as role models (I'm not saying they should, I'm just sayin'). But that is some serious agility.

boxed in

I don't have the b-ball lingo down, but it's increasingly obvious that Obama has boxed in the Republicans. One big tell to the inside the Beltway crowd -- the Gallup poll revealing immense support for Obama re: the stimulus with W.-level support for the congressional Republicans. The Obama tone has won over independents and the Republican tone, well, the data tell the tale.

If you're a party leader, which would you prefer -- high approval or a unifed party that gets its voice heard a lot on cable news?

For Republicans to claim any win here is either delusional or an attempt to avoid admitting their severe errors.

And Obama and his team have maintained their tone of reaching out and have learned more about the DC game and the steps outside which will help in future fights.

''I...'' as in ''We...''

President Obama was transcendental tonight... He spoke from the ''I, the President'' so expressivily omniscient of ''We, the People''... One could not ask for more in a leader!

I am so proud to have a 'Really Smart' President

I have a theory about at least some of the nasty negative rhetoric from the GOP.  I think that they are really scared of President Obama because they have come to realize how SMART he is.  It actually petrifies them, then causes them to react irrationally.  They know that at least most of the populace can also see how smart and logical and fair and caring he is.  They know that he is so much smarter than they are, that it scares them silly. 

I cannot imagine how much trouble this country would be in if McCain had been elected.

Keep up the great work, Al.  Our President is going to need all the support and sanity you can muster.



I loved the press conference. Helen was hilarious with her follow-up agressiveness, though I wish she would have asked a domestic question. I thought the best question was about Afghanistan and the coffins. I hope that the admin overturns that soon, but I have no doubt they will overturn it.

Obama got to be quite "partisan" while the media gave him all the bipartisan questions. That label is helping him critique the bad Republican policies. He was quite fierce against some of the reporters revisionist history accounts, which I loved. Obama is no pushover and I can't believe so many libs don't get that yet.


All of you who said, a year and more ago, that this guy would handle things differently and better than the alternative aspirants, can feel a great wave of vindication tonight.

Just sayin'.

A wave

Al, I think some are feeling a wave of confidence they didn't have a year ago today.  I agree with Mary--I too am proud to have a really smart president.  Halfway through the press conference, I said to my husband, "This is really stunning.  I can't believe that almost an hour has passed."  Obama is so coherent, so agile, so respectful that, I don't know, it's just been so damn long since we've had a leader I can believe in.

I love my President

One thing that strikes me about the press conference was that they Press actually seemed to be learning something.  They seemed ineffectual and almost timid.  For the most part their questions were good, but in the end there was no doubt exactly who showed up in Washington ready to lead from day one.

And any time he can take Chuck Todd to economics school is okay by me! 

What was abundantly clear was that Obama has taken the serious time to truly understand the economy and distill into a lesson that doesn't talk down to the American people, but treats us like adults.  Most refreshing!

It was a masterpiece!

One word...


This is a repeat of my comment over at dKos, but this word was one I couldn't imagine being used by anyone in the previous administration, nor (as Al just pointed out above) by any of his rivals in the Democratic Party. 


Here's the context:

"I said during the campaign that Iran is a country that has extraordinary people, extraordinary history and traditions, but that its actions over many years now have been unhelpful when it comes to promoting peace and prosperity both in the region and around the world; that their attacks or -- or their -- their financing of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, the bellicose language that they've used towards Israel, ...


Speaking of three point shots

Last summer, when Obama went abroad and before the general election really got underway (pre-conventions), Obama visited an Army base in Kuwait. The meet-and-greet with the soldiers was set up in a gym. With the soldiers staring him down, the world watching on TV, and the pressure on, Obama was handed a basketball and - swish! - sank a three-point shot. It was like the entire general election was foretold in that moment. Here it is, in case you missed it:


This guy is just covered in Win.


Like drinking sweet nectar

after wandering the desert parched and gasping for eight long years.

America finally got one right.

Exactly, Allan

Your words are spot on.  This is what I was trying to explain to my Republican dad the other day.

I love your analysis, Al.  You always have a much bigger/wider field of vision than most.

Thx BR & Mary A. Got it. Watching now.



What an amazing press conference. If anybody on earth can pull us out of the fire, its him.

Another video link

Here's a Google Video archive of the press conference, since C-span's links often don't work...

What everybody has already said

Especially thank you to Allan, as always, the perfect words - nectar.  Reading Al's analysis, and the comments of fellow Field hands was an important part of my experience of this majestic moment.  O's first presser was another 3 pointer!  On his first try.

Bellicose.  I just looked it up, cuz, honestly, I didn't know the exact definition.  Thank you to all of us who worked, and worked and worked to create and appreciate this time.

We have a leader.  So many dimensions to his knowledge, grace, and ability to learn from past actions.  Right now only other person I can imagine standing there last night was Michelle!

Excuse Me

Excuse me, but with no interest in Chicken Little, no interest in the Yes, But platform and no argument about Obama being a consummate politician and campaigner, as well as being very presidential, I just do not see how the recent $700 B bailout or the new $800 B stimulus are supposed to move us forward. Look, I am 56 years old, and a life long anarchist who actually lives like one. I have no pension, social security, 401K or other investments, just some small area of arable land in the tropics, so really, I am rather distanced from the political day to day mess and in a personal state of voluntary economic collapse since about 1975. Yet, I do and have studied the economic events of the last 40 years assiduously and I really can't see where there is much point to the latest $800B plan {or even to the last $700B plan or the next plan after this one} unless we get to some other mentality about who we are going to be as a functioning society and move toward a reality based economic system, and get there very soon. I appreciate all the cheerleading that Al is doing now and I very much appreciated his play by play during the campaign, but PLEASE Al, there IS something happening here. Do you know what it is? Reading comment after comment from the choir is daunting when no one is paying any attention to the fact that our team is playing the wrong game.

@ RC

RC - First of all, you're not the only one out here that lives simply and spartanly in the tropics. Second, what I do is not "cheerleading" unless you consider any mention of good news to be such.

One thing we learned from the "back to the land" movement of the 1970s is its limited appeal even to the practitioners' own children, who often then went on to become hedge fund investors and such. Living voluntarily below the poverty line by itself - something I think is laudable (it seems the only difference between your lifestyle and mine is I don't own any property beyond this laptop and my guitars) - changes nothing: we still have the rest of the human race to deal with, which marches on just the same even if we ignore it, and eventually its bulldozers come to destroy any isolated paradise you or I might construct.

You say "there is something happening here" but you don't say what it is. It's hard to take that seriously.

@ RC

RC, I'm struggling with the issues you raised myself.  I went to a house meeting I found on the mybarackobama site.  There were 8 or so people there and three of us ended up getting in a conversation about the Federal Reserve.  I went there because I wanted to have a conversation with like-minded folks about the whole stimulus/bailout issue in general.  Some others at the meeting wanted to talk about how we can support Obama by sending letters/contacting Congresspeople. (Although with two D senators and a D rep who voted to pass the bill "with significant reservations," that seems like preaching to the choir after Mass is over).

I am so glad that Obama won and for many of the shifts in public discourse/awareness that have already started to occur. One of those shifts is the increased "buy-in" in the general consciousness--the growing interest in something resembling an actual participatory democracy.  I also see that "politics is the art of the possible."  And yet I have some of the same backround in anarchist politics as you, RC, (though I would not identify as such today) and perceive that the most forward thinking is looking towards things like food security and permaculture.  And while economics sometimes seems to me like an occult science, on a basic level when I think of "growth" as a constant in a living system, I think "cancer." What I start to learn about the money system we currently have makes me think that it isn't sustainable. Conflating with our misuse of the earth and some very basic tenets of culture since, well, at least the industrial revolution, makes me think it's time for a big course correction.

I'm not one of those who looks with something resembling glee to  a large-scale collapse, depression, and suffering in order to force the necessary changes.   I'm also not one who faults leadership for any compromise.  But my best hope for the stimulus  is that it could be a bridge to help us re-tool our way of life on a basic level. But no way is this government going to support a move towards increased local production, especially of food.  It does seem like there is some, perhaps significant, funding of "green" technology, and an awareness of the necessity for such.  And as a "possibility artist," I support that.  But I can't bring myself to echo the fellow at the house meeting I attended who said, "I support Obama, and I trust him and want to support his agenda" without thinking. My latest take on this for myself is that I support the stimulus bill, I'll do what I can to support the inclusion of the pieces of it I think are crucial, and put most of my efforts into the organized local efforts to support food security in the Willamette Valley, where I live, as well as continuing to learn and participate in the government.

Six months ago, I didn't know who all my representatives were. Now I know their names and have met them or seen them in person, from my county commissioner my rep in the state assembly to my new senator, Jeff Merkeley, and a handshake with Obama and Howard Dean.  I've gotten a little involved with the Western Environmental Law Center and the campaign to enact legislation against field burning, an important environmental issue here in our valley.

So, I guess for me it's a two-pronged approach, while I try to keep my house, which I'm in danger of losing like so many people!


Win one

My adult daughter has ABSOLUTELY  no interest in politics [sigh]. The press conference postponed "The Bachelor." I asked if she watched the President. "Yes: He put it in terms that I could understand." She wondered why so many were fighting what "has to be done." I got to explain.

She is a learning disabled individual who works as a dishwasher for a regional chain. Her hours have been cut. She wants to maintain her apartment for herself and her cat.

I am grateful our President can not only inspire chess players, but can also get through to those who do not grasp the larger issues. I vote for more evening press conferences!

The fun machine

Fun isn't the point...but it's damned useful every once in a while, so long as we remember--fun isn't the point.  This is serious, and worrisome, and our man is on the job.  And there's simply no one else I'd want to be out there doing it in his place.

I was particularly impressed that the President didn't crack a smile once during the whole press conference.  Serious business, deadly serious, and he's giving it the grave treatment Americans think it deserves.  It's one thing to crack a joke at the 'town hall' about having a beer with Sean Hannity, but he made it clear that what he's doing is all about the life and death of each one of us.


OT: Guitars! (plural)

Heck Al, I remember when you were saying it was just a laptop and a dobro.  Congats on your upward mobility!

Thanks for your sincere

Thanks for your sincere reply Al, I greatly appreciate your opinions.

I did send you an email about some other points, but to be direct, what the bailout and the stimulus are about is corporate fascism, wishful thinking and being key components of the mass psychology of crowd panic management. They feed into a capital vortex that has already destroyed a record level of value over a very short time. The crashes are never about what is lost, they are about the far too late discovery of what was poorly invested and was indeed lost long ago. The funds now washing about and the funds spent last year {and please readers, understand that the amount spent and committed to date is in fact $9.7 trillion, NOT $350 Billion} would be much better applied to forming a new banking apparatus and totally abandoning the old, aiding the newly destitute and moving on to a post Wall Street capitalism. It is going to happen anyway, why continue to play the Wall Street Games with the same old shifty players? Again, thank you Al, and thank you readers. I apologize for any part of my message that may seem patronizing, and I assure you, the statements are fact based.

'3 Point Shot' thoughts...

If we do the research, we'll find that 'RC' is correct. Neither the 9 Trillion that's already been floated to the Banks so far, nor the 'Stimulus plan' ('Recovery & Reinvestment Act') address the core fundamental issue. But... addressing the core fundamental has to come slowly... and I believe that recent statements by Obama, to the effect that, "we have to get the Banks to reveal the troubled assets that they are now holding"... is the beginning of this process. 

The super wealthy that hold these 'stage 3' assets do not want to 'take the hit'. Instead, they want their minions in government (their bought and paid for 'old boy's network' of both parties) to craft 'economic recovery plans' (like:TARP) that bail them out by having the US taxpayer buy up these failed 'investments' (ie: 'toxic assets'. And BTW.. when is an 'asset' ever 'toxic' ? Isn't 'toxic assets' such a clever name for the pure trash that is now worth only pennies on the dollar ?)

These ‘stage 3 assets’(toxic assets) are not part of a regulated marketplace, so they’re not on the balance sheets of Banks. ‘Stage 3 investments’ are ‘derivatives’ that include: 'credit default swaps'[CDS], 'collateralized debt obligations'[CDO’s], tranched CDO's, etc. There are reportedly $680 TRILLION dollars of these ‘toxic assets’ hidden away from view in bank vaults all across the globe. There are reportedly $160 TRILLION of these ‘derivatives’  held by the big US Banks alone… and the entire USA Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is only $35 TRILLION dollars ! These hidden, ‘stage 3’ - ‘toxic assets’ are the real fundamental that is sinking the world economy, as the big banks hold more of this valueless trash than they have in real, tangible, assets... and as such, they are bankrupt. This just hasn’t been publicly acknowledged as being so yet. (See the ‘Village Voice’ article: ‘What Cooked the World’s Economy ?’ James Lieber 1/28/09 @… for a more detailed explanation.)   

The English Economists, Stiglitz & Buiter, are now calling for government financed 'Good Banks' to replace the, too overly laden with 'toxic assets' to be fixed, 'Old Banks'. These 'Good Banks' are new banks that would be financed with the funds that would have been used to prop up the already insolvent 'Old Banks'.  If the USA takes the same funds that would have propped up these 'Dead Men Walking' major US banks... and uses them to create new 'Good Banks', AND outlaws 'Credit Default Swaps' and other 'derivatives' (‘stage 3 assets')... then we will be on the right track to a true economic recovery.

I believe that the combination of an 'outside player' who CAN hit the 'outside (3-point) shot' and the outside of the mainstream financial 'Blog-o-sphere’, which is providing valuable info( are playing a new game here that is influencing events in a positive fashion. What’s happening is that the blogs are rolling out the info, the press picks it up, and then the cable news networks (MSNBC & CNN) picks up on it as well. THIS is a New Paradigm ! Maybe this is why Obama chose to take a question from the Huffington Post Blog guy ? I think that his doing so was a way of expressing acknowledgement & appreciation for this new paradigm.

Truly, 'Change' has come to Washington, and Washington doesn't like it. Too bad !

Keep up the good work Al... and keep working on your 3-point shots ! 





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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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