From things I've read, the ISI is largely in league with the Taliban and actively assist it with intelligence information.
We are looking at a fractured country, with its intelligence services working in opposition to the government. Unfortunately they are still there because: (a) No smoking gun has been found to replace the service wholesale. (b) They (ISI) influences a whole lot of Political power in the Northern provinces which notably are not under the influence of the central government. (They are almost independent countries for all intents and purposes. They don't answer to Federal (national) law, only to their state law).
It does look like Obama is taking the stance of 'the enemy of my friend is my enemy,' more seriously than the Bushies did. Its beginning to look like we are discreetly helping the central government become more authorative in the northern provinces.
We are doing so without committing boots on the ground. We are making those who support the Taliban for whatever reason it is, Power, Money, or Religion, to look over their shoulders much more often, move much more cautiously, and raining in sudden death from above.
As the central government becomes stronger, they shrug their shoulders and say it's those new guys focused on hunting Taliban, which they're powerless to stop. If you are not Taliban, you have nothing to fear.
The last holdout for the budget was able to weasel a statewide referendum for CA having an open Primary into the compromise. Darrell Issa should be proud.
Meanwhile we have to educate convince people why a Closed primary is preferable. Since there are damm few Republicans who could win the election for dog catcher, they want to play spoiler in the Democratic primary contests.
Oil has already hit peak levels and will never recover to its previous highs. This seems to have happened in 2003. Peak oil was demonstrated by Matthew Simmons in his 2003 presentation (large but really nifty PDF presentation slideshow & lecture) to the Center for Strategic and International Studies
We will always need oil, look at your keyboard, it is made from oil derivatives. The real trick is to stop burning oil for transportation.
If we can reduce our oil imports by 50%, we automatically don't export $91,532,875,000 cash annually to the Middle East.
With a good alternative energy program focused on electrical production (generation and autos, both electric and fuel cell) we pay for the stimulus package, Obama's rescue package gets paid back in under 10 years in savings from oil imports alone.
I know it's not perfect, but it's really easy to explain to non political junkies and they get it! Go Green Rescue Package = Payback in under 10 years = yeah, we can do that! (Bonus: no dependence on the Middle East for oil).
This effectively ends the Tyranny of oil. Expect the Republicans to fight it tooth and nail every inch of the way because, we as a nation will be required to invest in our future, and not spend it away.
Daschle should fight on. First, they let Geithner have a pass on his tax issues. My understanding was that he was aware of the issue and ignored it until his name came up for nomination, at which point he rectified it. Unlike Geither, it seems that Daschle's issue was one of those judgment calls that could have gone either way, On review, Daschle decided to err on the conservative side and paid up. People make mistakes, this is why the IRS allows you to file amended returns. Daschle fessed up with his amended his return & paid before it became public knowledge.
Daschle brings to the table an almost unmatched influence in the Senate to get real reform going. IMHO, at this point in this fight, he is the most able general that Obama can put out there.
On Dean, I really like your suggestion of Dean. However, there is no guarantee that the Obama administration will pick Dean. In fact, there are many voices at Obama's ear that just HATE the name Howard Dean (such as Emanuel and Clinton to start with).
Face it, Dean broke barriers and pushed a lot of the current gatekeepers the wrong way in doing it. They still don't understand how successful he was, or why. But they still control who gets picked. There is going to be a lot of push back to any suggestion that Howard Dean be HHS head. Yes, Dean would be my choice, but I realistically don't see it happening.
This isn't as much of an attack on Reid as it is an attack on the recent Dem Gains made in Northern Nevada. Washoe County (which includes Reno) has media reach throughout Rural Northern Nevada except for the Northeast Corner (Salt Lake City ADI).
This past election in Washoe County, Democrats surpassed Republicans in voter registration for the first time in a whole lot of years. I think that this is a Republican effort to swing wavering voters into the R column through attacks on Reid. It won't necessarily undermine Reid, however, it can influence voting patterns down ticket. Although McCain won the Rural counties, the margin was not nearly as impressive as it has been in the past.
The trick is that this ad is only running on Reno Cable TV. Not Statewide. They have conceded Clark county with its 80% of the state's population. Reno Cable does not reach into Clark County, but it does reach Northern population areas such as Tonopah, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain and even Elko.
This is Republicans trying to salvage their base through the old Reid hate campaign. It's the only trick they have, the Republican Gov Gibbons is an incompetent ideologue (sound familiar), and any reasonable Republicans that might be a challenge to Reid won't because that means playing ball with the Gov, and he's long since stabbed them all in the back politically at one time or another. They would rather see Gibbons crash & burn than lend a hand for party unity. This Reid hate campaign is the only trick left in their book that they can agree on. Yes, this is a salvage operation.
And yes, there is some discontent with Reid, but not nearly enough to be a threat to him. The only way he does not run again is his choice voluntarily. Get it, Reid is in the drivers seat on this. In the end, if Reid is on the ticket, people will mouth off but still vote for him when it counts.
If the RSCC numbers show that the salvage operation is successful, look for it to expand. But they absolutely must have to make it work in the northern part of the state first.
I live in a betting State and I'm willing to bet he gets it. After Scooter Libby, it has become a race to get convicted so you could get pardoned by BushCo before he leaves.
I can only hope that with this new administration, they are the lucky ones, and the Obama Administration will subsequently investigate and enforce.
However, I fear that the Obama Administration will ignore and evade, in the 'spirit' of being bipartisan. (Hint: Being bipartisan is good only to a point and no further. Beyond that point, being partisan has greater rewards.)
First, Obama is not in charge yet. He still needs to tread carefully. He's not in the Bully Pulpit yet.
I think that he overweight the Tax Cuts portion of the plan he outlined knowing that the Dems in Congress would NOT be receptive to a plan with major tax cuts. (Cuts are a necessary part of the plan, see my comment below in this thread.) In fact, from Congressional comment so far, it seems like he won't get all of the tax cuts he's requested. However, by making it so large that the Dems Squeal in public, the Repubs have GOT to be happy about it (they're the minority, they don't have that much choice).
The Democrats are Yelling that the Recovery portion of the package is WAY too low. What do you think that they are going to do with that portion of the program? They're going to fight like cats to increase that portion of the program. They're going to insert earmarks for some pet projects because Obama does not have the line item veto, and won't veto a whole bill that is mostly his. But the bottom line is that Congressional Dems will make the recovery portion of the package bigger, much bigger, perhaps almost double what it is now.
Now, he already has the Repubs on board with the tax cuts (for the minority it doesn't get any better than this). He knows that the Dems in Congress will increase recovery (jobs creation) portion of the package. In the end, he gets a 1 to 1.2 trillion package that is hopefully enough, with lots of Republican backing too.
To repeat, I think that this guy is subtle. He's putting a skewed product out for debate, knowing that it will be messed with, and with a bit of behinds the scenes guidance, he gets what he wants. Smart.
To really do this recovery, you need both a short term and long term plan.
The effect of Tax Cuts is that it puts money in the pocket, Right away. Think about it, what if withholding tax was dropped by 50%, suddenly you got a substantial raise (R's hate that one btw). But the effect of tax cuts is going to be temporary, it's spent, it's gone.
However, there is no incentive to spend the money that we just got. It just goes under the mattress. But, it is a short term fix to the liquidity crisis (it's still there, small businesses that have taken a hit won't qualify with a bank for money, they have been juggling supplier payments to make payroll, or maxed out their credit line or were late on a credit payment for payroll, etc. etc. etc.).
Therefore, Tax cuts are an absolutely necessary part of a stimulus package. 37.5% tax cuts for the plan sounds excessive, but hey, anything that gets things moving is good.
Next Problem, Incentive: Let me repeat, with tax cuts there is no incentive to spend the money. No one is going to spend a dime of a tax cut unless absolutely necessary if they are unsure if they will have a place to live or work next week. The problem now is to motivate people that spending is good again. This is where job creation is so very important. Jobs convince people that there is opportunity and that they can spend to maintain a desired lifestyle.
The past (Friedman, aka Reaganomics) model is that private industry can create jobs without the government help (or regulation), of course with any such venture without controls greed takes over, and we have the boom & Bust cycle, welcome to bust.
The Tried but True (Keynesian Theory) model allows government to guide, influence, and participate where necessary to create an environment with steady, maintained, and reasonable growth. Thereby avoiding the boom & bust model.
This is why Jobs creation is so very important. Tax cuts don't mean jack unless there is a way in place to create jobs. Creating Jobs through massive infrastructure investment is an absolutely necessary component of a solution to the current crisis. The goal is long term Steady stable job growth, while ensuring a future controlled with reasonable growth through government guidance.
I think that Obama has a good strategy here. I think that he is counting on the Democrats in Congress to raise the ante on jobs creation (earmarks, like it or not - like Burris, he can't stop them), while the Republicans marry themselves to the tax cut mantra. He shot high on the tax cuts knowing that there is no appetite in a Democratically controlled Congress to do any more than absolutely necessary on that component of a Recovery package. Yeah, It seems high...for now.
Let Congress fight like cats about there not being enough incentive, more is needed, pile it on! The hidden message to the public during this fight is that Democrats are Creating Jobs. In the long term, the public is going to have much fonder feelings toward Democrats, because, as I said earlier, tax cuts are a temporary, not long term fix.
In the end, I think we'll have a Recovery package where the requested tax cuts pass, but the tax cuts comprise a more reasonable 25%-30% of the total package.