Even Bin Laden ragged on Biden

WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden ordered terrorist teams in mid-2010 to blow up the planes of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, when they visited Afghanistan or Pakistan, according to a declassified letter released Thursday.

Bin Laden argued that assassinating Obama would put a “totally unprepared” Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the country “which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.”

Osama, Obama, Biden, Bin Laden…it’s just so easy to see why some consider the current president the real threat to the U.S….dyslexia. 
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Bin Laden ordered squads to try to attack Obama’s aircraft – latimes.com
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/05/osama-bin-laden-obama-planes.html

The Silly Season of Political Paranoia (and a dose of something else)

It seems as if a certain political sentiment has fully metastasized into the form it will take for the next 7 months.  It goes something like this…as Krugman notes on point..

And it’s not just gas prices, of course. In fact, the conspiracy theories are proliferating so fast it’s hard to keep up. Thus, large numbers of Republicans — and we’re talking about important political figures, not random supporters — firmly believe that global warming is a gigantic hoax perpetrated by a global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists, not one of whom has broken the code of omertà. Meanwhile, others are attributing the recent improvement in economic news to a dastardly plot to withhold stimulus funds, releasing them just before the 2012 election. And let’s not even get into health reform.

Why is this happening? At least part of the answer must lie in the way right-wing media create an alternate reality. For example, did you hear about how the cost of Obamacare just doubled? It didn’t, but millions of Fox-viewers and Rush-listeners believe that it did. Naturally, people who constantly hear about the evil that liberals do are ready and willing to believe that everything bad is the result of a dastardly liberal plot. And these are the people who vote in Republican primaries.

But what about the broader electorate?

Now before you think any of this (or the many, many other examples) are hyperbolic statements about what is passing for “policy discussion” among the dedicated Republican primary voters…here’s an update on what they think is going on…

Seriously…that’s an official Santorum ad.  Wild stuff….BTW…DID YOU NOTICE HOW CRAZY THIS IS?

About :40 seconds in…with the Iranian Boogeyman on the screen…they cut in a shot of the President of the United Stated.

Headshot of Obama interspersed into video of Iranian President

That’s how craaaazy these folks are.  Don’t believe me yet?  Here’s another one, of a thousand, of other examples.

And one that more directly affects real people…

On Monday, the Republican dominated Tennessee Senate passed an anti-evolution bill by a vote of 24-8. The bill, known as HB 368, is sponsored by Republican Senator Bo Watson and “provides guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects,” according to Knox News,  ”The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.” The bill basically encourages teachers to present scientific weaknesses of “controversial” topics.

[full story]

It’s come to the point of people just flat out not believing what is happening….which while not completely abnormal in political season…has gotten so bad that basic math has become partisan politics.

Thus making rational cost benefit analysis of said policies (while factually true) completely irrelevant.

Beginning in January 2011, the payroll tax withheld from employee paychecks was temporarily reduced to 4.2 percentage points from 6.2 percentage points. The cut was scheduled to expire at the end of 2011, but Congress has continued it through the end of 2012.

My calculationslast year, based on the proposed cut of 3.1 percentage points, suggested that the payroll tax cut “could raise employment by at least a million, albeit the duration of job creation is related to how long the tax cut lasts.”

On a seasonally adjusted basis, payroll employment was 130.2 million at the end of 2010, just before the payroll tax cuts took effect. As of last month, payroll employment was up 2 percent, or 2.5 million, to 132.7 million.

[full story]

And dealing with a growing and more well understood problem that much more difficult…

One of the main changes is the inclusion of more data from the Arctic region, which has experienced one of the greatest levels of warming.

The amendments do not change the long-term trend, but the data now lists 2010, rather than 1998, as the warmest year on record.

The update is reported in the published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

[full story]

And leading to some absolutely tragic decision making abilities…

It seems that this old lady believed many of the deliberate lies which were being put forward by the Fox News anchor, lies directed at President Obama and at his health care policy. She appears to have thought that if she had accepted medical care, following her fall, her medical information and her money would have been sent to Islamic extremists. This is of course completely false, but a reasonable deduction from the lies told by Fox News.

[full story]

Which happens while the system keeps chuggin’ along…

National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.

[full story]

And paying the low inegrity-bright smile types to say whatever it takes to keep it coming…

In February, Common Cause wrote to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking for an explanation about an apparently unreported $1,350 gift from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2009. Cantor’s office immediately responded, claiming our inquiry was without foundation, but last week his office quietly amended his financial disclosures to include the gift from ALEC.

At that time, I wrote about Cantor’s failure to disclose:

‘ALEC, the so-called “free market, small government” lobby group underwritten by some of the nation’s largest corporations, reported in its tax filings for 2008 and 2009, making “cash grants” to the recipients of several annual awards. Common Cause has identified 22 legislators who received ALEC awards in those two years, including Rep. Cantor, who ALEC records indicate received $1,350 in 2009 as part of their Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award.’

Cantor responded within hours, saying no cash changed hands, but that he received a bust of Thomas Jefferson from ALEC, pictured above. But, under House Ethics Rules this type of award can only be received by a Member of Congress if it is disclosed, which Cantor did not do. This appears to be a clear ethics violation, and we have asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate. Prompted by Common Cause, Cantor has now very quietly amended his 2009 Financial Disclosure Report to include the ALEC gift. He also amended his 2010 report to include another bust given to him by the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group. We had no idea about this second award, but now we do.

[full story]

Even as another does the math, and realizes that we simply cannot go on like this…

However, Dodd–Frank does not eradi- cate TBTF. Indeed, it is our view at the Dallas Fed that it may actually perpetuate an already dangerous trend of increasing banking industry concentration. More than half of banking industry assets are on the books of just five institutions. The top 10 banks now account for 61 percent of commercial banking assets, substantially more than the 26 percent of only 20 years ago; their combined assets equate to half of our nation’s GDP. Further, as Rosenblum argues in his essay, there are signs that Dodd– Frank’s complexity and opaqueness may evenbe working against the economic recovery. In addition to remaining a lingering threat to financial stability, these megabanks signifi- cantly hamper the Federal Reserve’s ability to properly conduct monetary policy.

They were a primary culprit in magnifying the financial crisis, and their presence continues to play an impor- tant role in prolonging our economic malaise.There are good reasons why this recovery has remained frustratingly slow compared with periods following previous recessions, and I believe it has very little to do with the Federal Reserve. Since the onset of the Great Recession, we have undertaken a number of initiatives— some orthodox, some not—to revive and kick-start the economy. As I like to say, we’ve filled the tank with plenty of cheap, high-octane gasoline. But as any mechanic can tell you, it takes more than just gas to propel a car.

It is imperative that we end TBTF. In my view, downsizing the behemoths over time into institutions that can be prudently managed and regulated across borders is the appropriate policy response. Only thencantheprocessof “creativedestruction”— which America has perfected and practiced with such effectiveness that it led our country to unprecedented economic achievement— work its wonders in the financial sector, just as it does elsewhere in our economy. Only then will we have a financial system fit and proper for serving as the lubricant for an economy as dynamic as that of the United States.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/dallas-fed-calls-for-breakup-of-big-banks-2012-3#ixzz1qF2hXi7T

And so the desktop is clear…to watch the world for another couple weeks.

Hope and Change vs Gloom and Doom

Most of Obama’s voters — 73 percent — say they are voting “for” him rather than “against” Romney (23 percent). The reverse is true among Romney backers: 54 percent say their support is more “against” Obama rather than “for” Romney (40 percent).

The poll also indicates why Republicans are going after low-information voters.  These are the ones that think approving a pipeline that will ship  oil out of the country will somehow lower prices here.

Update:  This has been flowing around…but recall what was said a mere four years ago…

Update2: The White House put up this page.   The most important graph, which is hidden about halfway down is the “Global Oil Consumption” one.  That’s the pressure on the demand side.  On the supply side, we have the Iranian tough talk campaign applying pressure, as noted here.

I’d also wager, rather safely, that oil company profits, when reported, will once again be approaching record territory.   A populace squeezed at the pump is looking to point a finger, and one particular media company in particular is more than happy to do so with every outlet at their disposal.   They do, falsely claiming the same thing was done four years ago.  I’ve already provided evidence that  it is they who have changed their story.

Now let’s see how many gullible folks they convince that while they were wrong then, they are dead-on right now, and gas prices are  actually singularly controlled by the President.  Probably with a little lever or dial.


Fox News Poll: President Obama Tops Republican Contenders In Matchups | Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/14/fox-news-poll-president-obama-tops-republican-contenders-in-matchups/

Ignoring the Media vetting a candidate is not the same as them ignoring vetting a candidate

Today, the website BuzzFeed published a clip of the speech along with an article explaining some past and current context for Obama’s remarks. The website claimed the clip was “not previously available online.” The editors at Breitbart.com responded that the video on Buzzfeed had been “selectively edited” and said that they would release the full footage tonight on Fox News.

But there’s nothing new about the clip or Obama’s role in the controversy at Harvard Law School. In 2008, as a part of our quadrennial election special The Choice 2008, FRONTLINE ran the same footage of the speech as a part of an exploration of Obama’s time at Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1991. It’s been online at our site and on YouTube since then. You can see that part of the film below.

Isn’t it curious how if you ignore that someone has done something, you can claim,  in good faith, they haven’t done that same thing.   Some people truly believe that their own perception is reality.  These people are largely ignorant idiots.

And in a complete coincidence, they don’t watch PBS.
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The Story Behind the Obama Law School Speech Video | Government / Elections / Politics | FRONTLINE | PBS
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/the-story-behind-the-obama-law-school-speech-video/

One again, time will tell…but this looks like yet another Foreign Policy Homerun for the Kenyan Muslim Usurper

WASHINGTON –  North Korea raised hopes Wednesday for a major easing in nuclear tensions under its youthful new leader, agreeing to suspend uranium enrichment at a key facility and refrain from missile and nuclear tests in exchange for a mountain of critically needed U.S. food aid.

It was only a preliminary step but a necessary one to restart broader six-nation negotiations that would lay down terms for what the North could get in return for abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang pulled out of those talks in 2009 and seemingly has viewed the nuclear program as key to the survival of its dynastic, communist regime, now entering its third generation.

via North Korea Says It Will Halt Nuclear Activities | Fox News.

The agreement, as per, includes the verification step so necessary to make this stuff happen.

It also opened the way for international nuclear inspections after years when the North’s program went unmonitored.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the agreement, which was announced at separate but simultaneous statements by the long-time adversaries, was a modest step but also “a reminder that the world is transforming around us.”

“We, of course, will be watching closely and judging North Korea’s new leaders by their actions,” Clinton told a congressional hearing.

I’m all for giving the new kid a chance to be decent and get NK back to being part of the human race.

The Boss makes a ‘eh’ case for the Boss

Obama hasn’t done bad, Springsteen says. “He kept General Motors alive, he got through healthcare – though not the public system I would have wanted – he killed Osama Bin Laden, and he brought sanity to the top level of government. But big business still has too much say in government and there has not been as many middle- or working-class voices in the administration as I expected. I thought Guantanamo would have been closed but now, but he got us out of Iraq and I guess we will soon be out of Afghanistan.”

I’m purty sure that’s all it will take vs whoever wins that Republican Reality TV 2012 show. 

m.guardian.co.uk
http://m.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/feb/17/bruce-springsteen-wrecking-ball?cat=music&type=article

President Obama: “Ask Bin Laden if I engage in appeasement”

“The president, for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, has had nothing but appeasement,” former Sen. Rick Santorum said.

“The Obama administration has confused engagement with appeasement,” Rep. Michele Bachmann said.

“President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy,” Mitt Romney charged.

Newt Gingrich said it was the State Department that “has consistently engaged in appeasement.”

via FARK.com: (6798763) President Obama: “Ask Bin Laden if I engage in appeasement”.

Why it’s not going to be close in 2012.

/comment stolen from thread.

Seems like a good week to end Wars

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday declared an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in U.S. history, announcing that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by year’s end.

Obama’s statement put an end to months of wrangling over whether the U.S. would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011.

“After nearly nine years,” the president, “America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

via Obama announces total Iraq troop withdrawal – seattlepi.com.

Wonder if this guy will ever get a prize for doing so much to bring peace and freedom to the parts of the world that long for it.

....aaaand done.

Why Romney will get the Republican nomination and lose handily to Obama

Video version here…

Suffice it to say…the Republican primary pool is exceedingly shallow, and the President (who killed Osama bin Laden mind you) has a long track record of *at least trying*.   While many partisan Republicans give him no credit for this, and blame Obama for Bush’s economic catastrophe, most people do not, and like the hyperbolic attacks on Bush that failed to land in 2004, they will fail to land on Obama in 2012, as the Republicans nominate their very own John Kerry, who will lose handily to Obama in about a year’s time.

UPDATE: D’oh, accidentally left the video as private.  Fixed that.

Six Months, No (domestic) Casualties, Freedom…what’s not to love?

Libya’s interim leader predicts Sirte victory by end of week – CSMonitor.com http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2011/1011/Libya-s-interim-leader-predicts-Sirte-victory-by-end-of-week

BBC reports that the NTC will declare Libya liberated once they fully capture Sirte, even in Mr. Qaddafi is still at large. Although the desert town of Bani Walid also remains in Qaddafi loyalist hands, the rebels do not consider it critical for declaring victory because it does not lead to any escape routes through which Qaddafi could flee the country. Rebel fighters incurred heavy casualties in the fight for Sirte. Loyalist fighters used snipers and mortar barrages to pick them off as they advanced on loyalist bastions in the city, such as the main Sirte hospital and the Ouagadougou conference center, which Qaddafi built for hosting regional summits, according to the BBC.

I’m pretty sure this is how a completely different scenario was *supposed* to play out.  Pretty wild what competent leadership can do.

Republicans Ecstatic Over Bad Jobs Report, Vow to Crush Economy/Obama, Lead Country to Freedom!

So this has officially reached sickening proportions.   Many didn’t think the Republicans were stupid/evil enough to push it this far, and then go for the throat of the country when it was exposed, but those folks haven’t actually been following what the Republicans have been doing or saying for the last little while.

To rewind a bit, the current Republican leadership voted 19 times to raise the debt limit under Bush.  They did so with no protest, no riders, no taxes (hence the constant need to raise the limit), multiple expensive wars, expanding “entitlements” (Med Part D), and with what could damn near be called enthusiam.   Over the 8 years of the Bush presidency, and all his tax cuts, we ended up with Zero (0, that’s none, nada, zilch) net jobs created.

That’s the big rewind.  The little rewind has Eric Cantor (R-Douchebag) walking out of the debt ceiling discussions after Democrats mentioned changing the tax depreciation limit for Rush Limbaugh’s jet from 5 years to 7 years (amoung many other loopholes that mostly benefit people who, from the amount of drugs and Haitian prostidudes they consume, seem to be doing just fine).  That was simply too much for Eric to stomach, so he had to walk out of the talks. (this was two weeks ago).

Now, after that spectacular failure of leadership,they want to double down and totally fuck the country.   What is the problem now?   Any compromise *at all*.

DES MOINES — The decision by House Speaker John A. Boehner to scale back budget talks with President Obama unfolded as Republican presidential candidates were campaigning against any outcome that smacks of compromise, underscoring divisions in the party over whether to raise the federal debt limit.

The action by Mr. Boehner, which was announced Saturday night, illustrated just how difficult negotiations had become in this political climate to reach agreement on a sweeping plan to lower the deficit without an infusion of new tax revenues.

Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota seized on the issue and used the first television commercial of her campaign to highlight her opposition to raising the debt ceiling. She drew enthusiastic applause on Saturday as she amplified her position.

“It’s time for tough love,” Mrs. Bachmann told supporters at a rally. “Don’t let them scare you by telling you that the country’s going to fall apart.”

So now the frontrunner in the Republican joke parade has crossed over completely into insano-parody.   One needs to realize the context of Mrs. Bachmann’s comments…her entire campaign is about scaring people about how the country is going to fall apart under Obama.

One of the quickest ways to do this, as pretty much everyone who has a rational understanding of world economics agrees, is for the U.S. to default on our debt.   Despite Mrs. Bachmann’s idiotic statements to the contrary (and her idiotic economic statements are legion), not raising the debt ceiling when government revenues are at historic lows (as perecentage of GDP),  and we are still trying to recover from a recession, is about the worst thing one can do for the economy.

This is putting somebody who is starving on a diet, and then burning down their pantry.    It can only lead one direction, as we’ll note when we get to the jobs numbers next.

I mentioned that jobs reports.  The Republicans loved it.   It’s what emboldened them to push for an absolute destruction of the economy…because they now feel they can safely blame it on Obama. (yea, they campaigned on “jobs, jobs, jobs”…no they haven’t yet put forth an actual jobs bill (they claimed trying to repeal “Obamacare” was their “jobs” bill)…yes, it only shows what an evil/partisan/liberal I am to point this out…yes that quote from Boehner about “Where are the jobs?” should have resulted in him being struck down by lightning in a  just universe with an engaged God).

Here’s the jobs numbers….

WASHINGTON — Facing a dismal jobs report, President Barack Obama called on Congress Friday to end uncertainty over their debt standoff and pass a litany of administration-backed proposals, including a payroll tax cut extension and three free trade agreements.

Obama spoke from the Rose Garden shortly after the release of fresh figures that showed employers added just 18,000 jobs in June, the fewest in nine months, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent. The president said the numbers were yet another sign that a full economic recovery is still elusive.

[full story]

I want to talk about those numbers real quick, and the notion of “small government” the Republicans keep pushing.   That rising unemployment number?  It’s a reflection of a “smaller government”, literally.  Here’s what underlies those 18,000 new jobs…

The actual: private payrolls up 57,000; government payrolls down 39,000.

“It’s as if the economy hit a brick wall in May,” said [Nigel Gault of IHS Global Insight]. In the three previous months, payroll jobs had increased an average of 215,000; the May-June average was 22,000. Keep in mind that, with an expanding labor force, the economy needs 100,000 to 125,000 new jobs a month to prevent unemployment from rising. Reducing it requires even more job-creation.

It isn’t clear what happened. Standard explanations for the economy’s sluggish first half of 2011 cite three causes: bad weather (flooding in the Midwest); Japan’s earthquake, which depressed auto production by disrupting supply chains; and high oil prices, which sapped consumer buying power

[full story]

Yup, that’s right, it’s more teachers and government workers being laid off.  Same exact thing as I mentioned in June.

So…what…pray tell, was that brick wall the economy hit in May?    Oh yea….(and yes…I mentioned this when it happened)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — It’s official: The U.S. government hit the debt ceiling on May 16.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Congress he would have to suspend investments in federal retirement funds until Aug. 2 in order to create room for the government to continue borrowing in the debt markets.

[full story]

Yes, that’s right.  The Media (fuck them to hell) has been operating under this pseudo-lie for the last two months.  Every time they ever mentioned the debt ceiling, they should have mentioned how we hit it a couple months ago, and have been using tricks since then to pay the bills.  They should mention how China thinks we’ve already defaulted.  Instead they keep talking as if A) the “debt ceiling” is the same as the debt, or that not raising it somehow alleviates our debt and B) AS IF WE HAVEN’T ALREADY CROSSED IT.

That “brick wall” our economy hit in May?  IT WAS THE DEBT CEILING!!!

Let’s think about this for a second…hmmm…Republicans refusing to raise the debt ceiling (err,”brick wall”)…economy slows….Republicans add more bricks to the wall, saying how it’s all Obama’s fault…idiotic Media doesn’t explain two simple facts that expose this bullshit….the economy slows….Republican governors fire a bunch of people…unemployment goes up….economy slows….Republicans add more bricks to wall…the economy slows….unemployment goes up….and then the most important thing to Republicans happens…

Obama loses.

So to the Republicans it’s very much worth it to destroy the full faith and credit of U.S. debt, push unemployment up, and slow the economy, all because it’s good for them politically.   It’s about priorities, people, and every single one of you, by now, should know exactly what those Republican priorities are.   The Senate Majority leader laid it out, early on.

“Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office,” the Senate Republican leader will tell the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to excerpts of his speech provided to POLITICO.

“But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things,” the Kentucky Republican will say. “We can hope the president will start listening to the electorate after Tuesday’s election. But we can’t plan on it.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44688.html#ixzz1RjHfCQ8D

So that’s the only way they can end Medicare and Medicaid, and raise the retirement age and *extend those tax cuts for the rich*….get Obama out of office.  The only way they can do that…is for the U.S. to default on its debt (*or flirt with the idea long enough to screw up the global economy…which they’ve already done*)…and have the economy tank.

Once that happens our corporate media will simply pass along the messages, the unlimited spending by the Koch Broth, et. al. during the campaign will turn everyone off with the ugliness, and we very well might end up with country of Michelle Bachmann’s dreams, where the only thing the Government does is tell you who you can’t marry, sleep with, drink with, abort, or die for.     Government “services” and taxes, will be a thing of the past.

We will finally have achieved the Tea Party paradise…no taxes, no government, only Freedom.

Just like Somalia.

UPDATE:  One final note on this, and it’s a phrase that has been chapping my hide.  Here’s the quote…

Before the meeting, GOP leaders took a hard line against tax hikes as part of any debt ceiling deal.

“Everything is on the table except raising taxes on the American people,” Boehner said. “We are not going to raise taxes on the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to help create jobs.”

That statement there, the part I bolded,  IS A LIE.  Everything, literally, is NOT on the table, if raising taxes is not on the table.  You have, in fact, said the only thing that’s on the table is the “other guy’s” food.   This is an absurd position, that’s is LITERALLY A LIE.

To further annoy my logic sensors, the jobs that the people he’s talking about create (Rush, for example) WOULD ACTUALLY EXIST if they were created for the reasons he is implying they do (that is…the wealthy have extra money and, naturally, spend it to hire people regardless of demand…yes, I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how he’s implying it works.    It’s “supply side” economics.   To understand why this doesn’t work, and why spreading the wealth a bit works much better under certain circumstances, watch this short video.  Short version…you run a store…do you need more employees to service one guy making $1B/yr buying one hamburger a year, or 10,000 people making $100K/yr buying 10,000 hamburgers.).

Obama’s Poker Face

I’ve noticed a few folks mentioning how Obama has one heck of a poker face.  After looking at the events of the past few days in hindsight, I find it very hard to disagree.

The best example came last Saturday night, as he sat through this joke by SNL’s Seth Myers…

Note that laughing smile when they pan back to the President…that’s an act.   Completely.   Not only did Obama know exactly where Osama was, but also that there was a kill-squad en route to that very location while the joke was being told.

That, my friends, is a serious poker face.

So I did a quick googling (the poor man’s Lexis-Nexis) and found this tidbit…the guy does play poker…and does it just like he presides.  BTW, this is dated 9/24/2007, so it’s well before things got real.

Obama was a regular at the low-stakes games — sometimes stud poker, sometimes draw — designed to break up the tedium of long legislative sessions. Poker, beer and cigars were staples; Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers and even the lobbyists who Obama sometimes rails against dealt the cards and placed their bets.

The traits Obama displayed around the card table those many nights are ones he brings to his presidential bid and are certain to be evident — and analyzed — if he wins the White House.

By his poker buddies’ accounts, Obama is careful and focused. He’s not easily distracted and doesn’t give away his intentions unless it’s to his advantage. He’s not prone to taking risky chances, preferring to play it safe. But he’s also serious and competitive: When he plays, he plays to win.

“It’s a fun way for people to relax and share stories and give each other a hard time over friendly competition,” Obama said by e-mail. “In Springfield, it was a way to get to know other senators — including Republicans.”

Obama, then a state senator, was a founding member of the group. He became known as a cautious player with a good poker face, someone who paid more attention to the game than to the chatter and laughter that accompanied it.

Obama studied the odds carefully, friends say. If he had strong cards, he’d play. If he didn’t, he would fold rather than bet good money on the chance the right card would show up when he needed it.

That reputation meant that he often succeeded when he decided to bluff.

“When Barack stayed in, you pretty much figured he’s got a good hand,” said Larry Walsh, a former senator.

More than one lawmaker teased Obama about his careful style of play.

“I always used to kid him that the only fiscally conservative bone in his body I ever saw was at the poker table with his own money,” said state Sen. Bill Brady, a Republican from the central Illinois city of Bloomington. “I said if he would be half as conservative with taxpayer dollars, the state would be a lot better off.”

Nice little dig in there at the end, but what you gonna do, it’s politics.   

And we have a master playing it for us.