I also watched the UT game with Ryan and Jamie on Saturday (we managed to score a win, but it stayed interesting. UT's defense still feels sort of shakey, in my opinion). Played a bit of music with Reed last night (which I enjoyed a lot).
President Obama has been taking a bit of heat for appearing on so many different talk shows and doing so many interviews (on Friday he taped inteviews for CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Univision- Fox News didn't get an interview, but they ran some dancing show instead of the president's address to a joint session of Congress, so screw 'em, and President Obama is scheduled to appear on David Letterman's show tonight) in support of health care reform. There are those who say that he's overexposing himself and diluting the power of presidential speech. Personally, I think he's probably doing the right thing.
With the American media landscape as fractured and divided as it is these days, and with the American audience picking and choosing from among many different outlets, I think the president doesn't have much choice but to spread his message across as many forums as possible. One of the president's essential duties is to actively support key pieces of legislation within his agenda and to go out and explain to the public why such legislation is needed and how it will impact them. In an era when there are many different media sources, a number of which have taken it upon themselves to consciously spin stories in support of different political agendas, I think it's more important than ever for a president to step forward and take a leadership role in helping to convey the message to the public about exactly how and why certain key initiatives are needed. The ability to articulate these thoughts (e.g., the reasons why reform is needed) and the desire to convey their importance in a meaningful way is part of what makes a president more of a leader and not simply a "decider".
I think President Obama is fairly media savvy. He's taken to his weekly YouTube addresses like a duck to water, and he's beginning to understand, I think, that there's just not much to really be gained from cooperating with Fox Media (they don't want to provide coverage of the president when he's giving speeches, and they've made it pretty clear that their primary goal in dealing with the president is just to try to spin whatever he says in order to make him look bad. He's just never going to get anything resembling a fair shake on that network, so why give them the raw material to reshape, twist, and distort?). And he understands that a tightly controlled message spread across as many outlets as possible is the best way to get his message out to the public (one of the few takeaways that Democrats can sort of adopt from the Karl Rove ministry of information). I hope that, ultimately, the use of such talking points doesn't take the place of a more full, open discussion, but in times when the Democrats really need to narrow the focus and stay on message in order to get things done, this might just be the way to go (and right now, most attempts to foster an open discussion about reform seem to have done nothing but provide opportunities for reform opponents to launch attacks- so if they're not listening to anything Democrats say, there doesn't seem to be a lot of point in trying to maintain a dialogue with them. Better to use our efforts to speak to people who are still more neutral).
Anyway, there may come a time when I think Obama really is overexposing himself, but I don't think now is that time. For pundits and people working in the news media (who watch every single piece of video shot of the president) it probably feels like the president is overdoing it. For the average American who only catches a moment or two of one or two of these interviews, I think the president is probably doing just fine.
Also, the Democrats are getting ready to try to pass legislation which would make it more difficult and less profitable for banks to assess overdraft fees when customers make purchases that push them past a zero balance on their accounts. The banking industry has been making big profits off of high interest overdraft loans and penalties in the last year or two (they stand to make about $38.5 billion in profits off of overdrafts in this year alone), and the banks typically make the loans without notifying customers that the loans are being made or without allowing customers to reject the transaction on the basis of having insufficient funds (this is a practice left over from the old days of paper checks when no one was sure what an account balance was at any given time, but it makes considerably less sense in this day of electronic banking, instant account access, and debit/check cards).
I think that customers should probably be responsible for keeping track of how much money they have in their accounts, but it seems crazy that banks, who rely on computer technology to instantly debit your account (and provide many other services) aren't also using that same technology to let you know if you don't actually have the cash available to complete your purchase. It's probably not worth buying that Kanye West CD at Target if you know that you have to pay penalties and really high interest on a loan in order to get it. Better to cancel the transaction and put the CD up on the shelf until later. It also seems kind of twisted that in this down economy (a situation which the banks helped create through bad lending practices) the banks are trying to use overdraft fees (which are occurring at a much higher rate than usual due to the recession) to bolster their profits. I think that, if possible, it would be good to allow customers to know whether they're going to be paying for an overdraft of individual purchases, and if that's not feasible, at least allow people to decide whether they want to set their account to accept or decline overdraft fees when they come up later (many banks, right now, just automatically do an overdraft when a purchase is made with insufficient funds).
Anyway, between this overdraft stuff, and the fact that bankers and other Wall Street muckety mucks are apparently already moving back to collecting their usual salaries (as the rest of the country still struggles with uninflation), it's hard not to be annoyed with big business these days.
That's it for now. Maybe more later. Peace!