Obama says he’s ready for a fight to push his $3.5-trillion budget proposal through Congress.
Ugh. The economy shrank by 6.2 percent in the fourth quarter, which was worse than anyone predicted. The Dow slipped below 7000 for the first time in 12 years. AIG, the world’s largest insurer, just posted a $62 billion dollars loss, the largest quarterly loss ever. The government is going to float them $30 billion more, and it may not have much of a choice, according to Joe Nocera. “A quarter of a trillion dollars, if it comes to that, is an astounding amount of money to hand over to one company to prevent it from going bust. Yet the government feels it has no choice: because of A.I.G.’s dubious business practices during the housing bubble it pretty much has the world’s financial system by the throat. …A bailout of A.I.G. is really a bailout of its trading partners — which essentially constitutes the entire Western banking system.” A lot of big banks did a shitty job with their bookkeeping, meaning that “institutions claiming to hold the notes that back specific mortgages often cannot prove it.” Oh. More and more experts are beginning to use the d-word. Gulp.
The Drama Continues. A month into the Obama administration, and we’re still dealing with transition stuff. Sebelius is picked to head HHS, as the administration takes another crack at reforming health care. (Howard Dean really wanted the gig.) Some prominent pastors in the Chi rally around Roland Burris, but a gang of people are throwing their hats in the ring to replace him in the event that Illinois holds a special election that might remove him from the Senate.
Right Stuff. The conservatives attending CPAC went nuts over Rush Limbaugh’s speech at CPAC, even though he doesn’t say anything particularly surprising, explicitly rejects the idea of beating Democrats with better, alternative policy ideas and says he wants Obama to fail. Eric Cantor tries to pivot away from the ‘fail’ comment, but Rahm Emanuel ain’t having that, and tried to hammer home the idea that Limbaugh and the GOP are the same animal. Neither Sarah Palin of Bobby Jindal attended CPAC, and Mitt Romney won the straw poll again. (Really?) Also, there was a Republican rapper. (REALLY?)
Matt Bai profiles Newt Gingrich, who is again wielding huge influence in right-leaning D.C. It doesn’t shed much new light on the cat, but it gets a good feel for the bind Republicans are finding themselves in moving forward. “Is the Republican future going to continue to rely on country-club denizens and the rural bloc, or should it aim more for working-class Catholics or recent immigrants? Can a party trying to expand its coalition afford to make fundamentalist religious values a core tenet of its ideology? Or to assault the very idea of government? In many ways, as the most-blogged-about politician since the election, Sarah Palin has become a kaleidoscope through which to view these questions. For many Republicans, the Alaska governor and hockey mom is the new and galvanizing face of conservative America; to others, Palin personifies everything that’s wrong with the party, an approach short on intellect and long on cultural resentment.”
Thriving in the U.S. Muslims report that they feel they are thriving in America, but also report being the least content religious group in the country. Why? “Gallup researchers say that is because the largest segment of American Muslims are African-Americans (35 percent, including first-generation immigrants), and they generally report lower levels of income, education, employment and well-being than other Americans.”
Reports: Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together. People is reporting that Rihanna and Chris Brown have reconciled and spending time at one of Diddy’s homes.
Everything Else. More kids are opting for cheaper public colleges. Madea Goes to Jail wins the box office for the second straight week. The White House releases the official photo of Michelle Obama. Stevie Wonder plays the White House, which was also may have been sound politics. (Get it?) The Girl Scouts look to recruit more girls of color. Jamie Foxx’s new video features T. Pain…and Ron Howard and James Cameron. And what if the Peanuts were anime characters?