Monday, February 1, 2010

High-Speeding into the Future

Despite Obama's pledge, America is on the slow train to high-speed rail

By Ray Wan
In his 2010 State of the Union speech, President Obama delivered an impressive salvo to our overseas peers:

There is no reason that Europe or China should have the fastest trains.

And with that, he seemed to have kick-started America into the race to develop the high-speed rail systems of the future. Except that in Europe and China, the future is already here.

While Obama's promise of $8 billion of federal spending on high-speed rail is nothing to scoff at, it really will only buy us the blueprints—not the trains and tracks themselves. Anyone who has been across the pond knows that Europeans already enjoy a highly-developed high-speed rail system. But with little fanfare, China has also begun building a vast network of high-speed rail, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

As CNN reported recently, China just unveiled the world's fastest long-distance passenger train service, connecting the booming cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou (that's roughly the distance from Portland to San Francisco). Racing at 350 km per hour, the new train service cuts the travel time from 11 hours to a record-breaking 3 hours.

The Wuhan-Guangzhou line is just part of China's gigantic network of 6,003 km of high speed rail,
which the government intends to double by 2012 to 13,000 km. China already has more miles of high-speed rail than all of Europe combined. In 2012, if all goes according to plan, China will have more high speed rail than the entire world combined.

As a recent editorial in the Christian Science Monitor quipped, we're gonna need a whole lot more than $8 billion if we want to win the high-speed race with Europe and China.

Plane lands on New Jersey motorway

A small plane has made an emergency landing on a highway in the US state of New Jersey, officials say.

Neither of the two people on board were injured in the incident on the New Jersey Turnpike, about five miles (8km) east of Philadelphia.

Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando said the plane was believed to be involved in traffic reports for radio and TV stations.

He expected police to move the plane on to a truck for removal, he said.

Woman Suicide-bomber Kills 41 Shia Pilgrims In Iraq

At least 41 people were killed and over 100 injured when a woman suicide-bomber detonated her explosives during a religious rally in north-east Baghdad Monday.

The woman attacker masquerading as a pilgrim joined a Shia procession heading for the holy city of Karbala as part of 'Arbaen' marking the end of mourning of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed.

The woman bomber standing near a refreshment stall set off her explosives vest as the procession passed her by.

Police said all the victims were Shia pilgrims. The blast did not deter Shias from observing 'Arbaen' that would last until Friday.

Heavy security was in place to protect the large number of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala.

The incident is being seen as an instance of growing tension between majority Shias and minority Sunnis in the run-up to next month's general elections.

Similar incidents had been reported during Shia festivals in the past also with Sunni ultras being blamed for the attacks. Last year, 32 pilgrims were killed when a female suicide- bomber triggered a blast at a checkpoint located in front of the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in a Shia-dominated locality close to Baghdad.

Lehman Book Author Bashes Hank Paulson

Larry McDonald slammed former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in a letter to the New York Post over the weekend.

McDonald, who wrote A Colossal Failure of Common Sense about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, is in Beijing for the Chinese release of his book. He says Paulson's book, which hits bookshelves today, is an obvious attempt to salvage his legacy.

Here's the letter (from the New York Post):

Hello from Beijing!

My thoughts on Hank Paulson's new book; "Saving my Legacy" I mean "On the Brink."

I think he is writing the book out of insecurity to salvage his legacy. He's a very private man, so why write the book now? Especially after he just spent most of 2008 in 14 hour days of tense workouts, coming up with new innovation after new innovation to help save a financial system he helped destroy.

Make no mistake about it, Henry Merritt Paulson was the man that pulled the trigger that launched a bullet into the forehead of Lehman Brothers at Point Blank Range. It was the decision that obliterated the world's economy.

They, Paulson, Geithner and Bernanke were so over their heads they started playing god and F.. the system. They disgraced the SEC, the FDIC and Congress time after time because they thought they knew better. This is the most slipperiest [sic] slopes [sic] in the history of democratic capitalism because once you go down that road, you're putting more and more power and the justification of deceit in the hands of Government. Right out of the Kremlin's playbook.

It's the 21st century version of Iran Contra, just add 6 more zeros to the price tag. Our grandchildren will be paying the price.

The decisions they made, forcing Bank of America to buy Countrywide at double the price they should have paid, shooting Washington Mutual and creating a windfall for JP Morgan, saving Bear, AIG, Fannie, Freddie, putting Ken Lewis in a headlock and making Bank of America buy Merrill for $50 bln when they could have waited 7 days and had it for $20 billion, and letting Lehman go = schizophrenia.

When they let Lehman go it made the AIG bailout 7x more expensive, Merrill 2x, GM 3x, Chrysler 2x.

Not to mention letting Lehman go made AIG's liabilities to Goldman go up by 5x!

Only 9 pages of his new book devoted to his time at Goldman. Come on Hank!

If black kids fail their teachers should go to jail

Parents in Detroit are calling for their kids’ teachers to be imprisoned for their low test scores. And, frankly, it’s hard to argue with their logic if you believe that there are no differences in average intelligence between the races. We’ve tried everything we know how to do, no matter how costly or ridiculous, and the black/white achievement gap just keeps on chugging along like the Energizer bunny, even when adjusted for income, family status, etc. Everyone swears up and down that black kids are just as smart as white kids, but the average black kid graduates from high school 4 grade levels behind the average white kid. If we’re all equal, this can only be the result of some criminal mischief. Even “conservative” Newt Gingrich says that closing the Achievement Gap is THE civil rights issue of the 21st century. If that’s true, then why shouldn’t teachers go to jail if their black students do poorly in school, as it’s a violation of their civil rights?

Detroit parents want DPS teachers, officials jailed over low test scores

Bobb asking for 100,000 volunteer hours to help children with reading

Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News

Detroit — Impassioned parents demanded jail time for educators and district officials Saturday following the release of test scores that showed fourth- and eighth-graders had the worst math scores in the nation.

City students took the National Assessment of Educational Progress test this year, and 69 percent of fourth-graders scored below the basic level in math and 77 percent of eighth-graders scored below basic.

The Detroit scores on the progress test were the lowest in its 40-year history. The sample of students included 900 of Detroit’s 6,000 fourth-graders and 1,000 of the district’s 6,000 eighth-graders.

Sharlonda Buckman, CEO of the Detroit Parent Network, called for jailing and civil lawsuits against anyone in the city’s educational system that is not doing his or her share to help properly educate children.

“Somebody needs to go to jail,” she said in a tearful address to 500 parents gathered Saturday for the organization’s annual breakfast forum. “Somebody needs to pay for this. Somebody needs to go to jail, and it shouldn’t be the kids.”Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb told the crowd the test scores weren’t the result of children who were incompetent or parents who didn’t care. He blamed the scores on the district not doing its job.

“This is an abysmal failure,” Bobb said. “It is not the fault of our kids individually, and it is not the fault of our kids collectively. It is not the kids’ fault. It is the adults’ fault. It is a failure of leadership.”

The scores were so low that DPS parent Tonya Allen said she thinks students could have stayed home and done just as badly on the tests.

“No other city in the history of this test has done this bad,” said Allen, a founding member of the 7-year-old network. “They could have took this test in French and done just as bad.”

Celia Huerta, also a DPS parent, said the scores show how much work is needed in the schools.

“I am hoping and praying there will be investments in the schools, but I am not seeing it,” she said. “Our kids are smart, the problem is the way they are being taught.”

Bobb said he is going to announce a new reading initiative Monday in which he will be calling for 100,000 volunteer hours to help children with reading. Reading was one of the reasons cited for the low math scores.

This is what we get for 50 years of telling blacks that their problems are all white people’s fault.

And are there really 100,000 adults in Detroit who could serve as reading tutors?

Are there even 100,000 people in Detroit who are functionally literate?

Civil rights icon Joseph Lowery admitted to hospital

Famed civil rights leader and Atlanta legend Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery has been admitted to a hospital intensive care unit, but friends say his condition is not serious.

Enlarge photo Mikki K. Harris, AJC Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery enjoys his 85th birthday celebration at Morehouse College's King Chapel on October 19, 2006. Guests paying tribute and roasting Lowery included Harry Belafonte, Roy Barnes, Dick Gregory and Maxine Waters.

Enlarge photo JOHN AMIS, AP 88-year-old Rev. Joseph Lowery was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the signature civil rights group originally headed by Martin Luther King, Jr.

.Lowery, who last summer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, was scheduled to attend an African American achievement award ceremony Saturday, but didn't make it, longtime friend and fellow civil rights leader Andrew Young told the AJC late Sunday.

"He was having shortness of breath, and he didn't come to the Trumpet Awards last night," Young said, adding that Lowery "has been in and out of the hospital before. I have not heard that it was serious. I think he was having some respiratory problems."

David Stokes, another friend, said Lowery was admitted to Emory University Hospital Midtown Saturday and was placed in an intensive care unit as a precaution. "But he's better, and he's going home" Monday, Stokes said.

The 88-year-old Lowery was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the signature civil rights group originally headed by Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery was its president from 1977 to 1997. Last year, Lowery spoke at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Stokes, who was the SCLC spokesman when Lowery was president, said the last time he remembers Lowery being admitted to a hospital was when his blood pressure dropped a year ago after preaching a sermon. It wasn't serious that time either, Stokes said.

Lowery got so absorbed in preaching that he forgot to eat, Stokes said.

Men in Black Star Arrested Over Armed Bank Burglary

Elmore Rual Torn, Jr., better known as "Rip" Torn, 75 year old Emmy Award winning actor and bad-tempered boss to Will Smith in the 1997 blockbuster Men in Black, was arrested Friday night.

Police found Torn inside Litchfield Bancorp, a Salisbury, CT., bank, armed "with a loaded revolver" and "highly intoxicated." Though notorious for past volatility with police, he was arrested
Men in Black Star Arrested Over Armed Bank Burglary and booked without incident.

Charges include first-degree burglary, first-degree criminal trespass, third-degree criminal mischief, carrying a pistol without a permit, and carrying a firearm while intoxicated. He is currently being held on $100,000 cash bond.

The long time Broadway and movie actor is famed for his gruff yet usually friendly stage demeanor, starring in roles ranging from the popular Men in Black boss, Zed, to drifter Chance Wayne in the 1959 Tennessee Williams play Sweet Bird of Youth.

His appearance in that play won him a Tony Award and the actor would later find six Emmy nominations, one of which he won in 1996, among a bevy of other awards during his long career.

More recently he has appeared on NBC sitcom 30 Rock and appeared in 2004 comedy movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

For all his success the actor has encountered trouble with the law several times, including a 2004 Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrest for a traffic accident in New York City, and a drunk-driving accident in North Salem, NY. during 2006.

Though not convicted for the 2004 arrest, Torn encountered headache thanks to an explosive tirade directed at police and captured on video at the police station. The video subsequently made rounds across the Internet and television news.

His 2006 arrest led to a conviction, a $380 fine, and 90 days suspension to his license.

Africa and the cruelty of football

The 2010 African Cup of Nations will not be remembered for its football, but for the tragedy that befell the Togolese team. Angola's government and the Confederation of African Football have much to answer for

The 2010 African Cup of Nations concluded on Sunday night with Egypt beating Ghana 1-0 in Luanda. For the Egyptians—who took their seventh nations cup overall, and their third in a row—it was a wild night of celebration and confirmation that, despite failing to qualify for the World Cup, they are the best team in Africa. But there are thin football pickings for the rest of us. It was a tight, nervous final for most of the 90 minutes. A young Ghanaian team, depleted of its stars by injury, showed discipline and grit. In the earlier rounds Malawi and Zambia played above themselves, Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote D’Ivoire below. Algeria utterly and theatrically lost their heads against Egypt. The tournament, however, will not be remembered for the quality of its football or its tantrums, but for the tragedy that befell the Togolese team.

The widely-reported 30-minute gun attack on the Togolese squad’s convoy in the small town of Cabina, the Friday before the tournament started, saw three people killed and one seriously injured. The Togolese, not surprisingly, returned home and were accordingly disqualified from the tournament.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by a number of nationalist groups who seek independence for Cabinda from Angola. Cabindans have never accepted their inclusion in Angola; they certainly weren’t consulted when the Portuguese hurriedly departed in 1975. During the long and bitter civil war, a faction of the Cabinda separatist rebel group, the Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (FLEC) flourished. After 2002, however, when the main war ended, the government was able to turn its attention to this oil and gold rich province: Cabinda produces over a third of Angola’s oil. Almost none of the money this generates has been spent there, save for the very substantial military presence.

Over the next two years FLEC was militarily squeezed and a peace treaty signed in 2006. This, it seems, made the country safe for international football and so it was awarded the hosting rights for the 2010 tournament. It was clear at the time that the treaty was a complete sham: it was signed on behalf of FLEC by an ex-rebel, Antonio Bente Bembe, recruited by the Angolan government while in a Dutch prison. FLEC were not consulted and did not agree to the treaty, nor was there any process of amnesty, disarmament or reconciliation. Bembe meanwhile was rewarded with a ministerial post, while Cabinda was rewarded with a security crackdown, detentions and the use of torture.

The Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) senior members are good at politics; you don’t get a post like that without being a very sharp operator. So it was CAF’s responsibility when assessing Angola’s bid to make a call on the situation in Cabinda. And their failure to spot the illusory nature of the peace deal was compounded by their complete inattention to the mounting roster of human rights abuses by the Angolan security services.

The Angolan government are also culpable for making Cabinda part of the tournament in the first place. There was no logistical need to do so; indeed the enclave’s separateness and geographical distance were always going to complicate matters. But then simplicity was not on the agenda: instead, a very public statement over who runs Cabinda was. Given that the Angolan security forces are in charge of Cabinda and know exactly what is going on, it was extraordinary that they should have allowed the Togolese to travel by road rather than by air, whatever the price difference involved. The presence of Angolan guards with the Togolese buses confirms that the security services were aware of the risks involved, but chose to either ignore them or downplay them for fear of jeopardising the tournament’s profile.

The result is that the tournament has certainly acquired a profile—and one that threw the shortcomings of Angolan politics and African football administration into sharp relief. In a final flourish, CAF ensured that the tournament would leave a sour, bitter taste in the mouth: on the eve of the final they announced that Togo would be banned from the next two cup of nations contests for withdrawing from the event. Having fallen victim once to the naivety of CAF and the mendaciousness of Angola, the Togolese team are being punished for refusing to play through their trauma. Football administrators are often crass, but this verges on cruelty.

Ahmadinejad: Iran Will Foil Enemy Plots in Region

BY Cassy Fiano

Considering all the action the UN — action being nothing but UN sanctions and letters saying to stop, pretty please — has taken against Iran, shouldn’t this have been taken care of already? Shockingly, it looks like the all-talk-no-action approach is failing.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the nation will deliver a harsh blow to the “global arrogance” on this year’s anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

“The Islamic Revolution opened a window to liberty for the human race, which was trapped in the dead ends of materialism,” Ahmadinejad said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“If the Islamic Revolution had not occurred, liberalism and Marxism would have crushed all human dignity in their power-seeking and money-grubbing claws. Nothing would have remained of human and spiritual principles,” he added.

Ahmadinejad said that in the three decades of its history, the Islamic Revolution had inspired some great developments in the world.

Can’t say that I’m too surprised, really. France has been tougher on Iran than we have been. Ahmadinejad has been testing us and testing the world, and what have we showed him? We’ve showed him that we’ll negotiate and issue UN sanctions (that won’t be enforced) and send “stern letters” asking him to stop. Under the Obama administration, Iran has become bolder and bolder. They’ve become a bigger threat than ever. So what will Obama’s reaction to this new threat from Ahmadinejad be? Ask him to come to the US for a beer summit so they can work out their differences?

Obama has no understanding of the gravity of this situation, yet he’s our Commander in Chief. He holds the security of our nation in his hands. And when we are getting threatened by Iran over and over and over again, his response has been to basically do nothing each time. He’s got no courage whatsoever, and while Iran might not make us first on their list of countries to attack (I believe that would be Israel), they will attack somewhere and people will be killed that didn’t need to die. It might not necessarily happen on February 11th, but if Obama doesn’t start taking Ahmadinejad seriously and dealing with the situation now, then we’re going to have much bigger problems from Iran than stolen elections.

The Fascinating And Mysterious Death Of A Hamas Commander

Israel: Slain Hamas Commander Was Top Weapons Smuggler -- Voice of America

The killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai prompts threats from Hamas, increases tension between Israel and the Palestinians and could hamper efforts to free a captive Israeli soldier.

Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas are trading accusations and threats after the killing of a top Hamas commander in the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli officials say a Hamas commander who was found dead in the Persian Gulf city state of Dubai played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. But officials stopped short of confirming Hamas allegations that Israel's Mossad spy agency assassinated the commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Read more ....

Report: Detroit shootout with FBI that killed radical Mulsim cleric resulted in him being shot 21 times in 4 seconds

Luqman Ameen Abdullah was the imam of the Masjid Al-Haqq mosque in Detroit, was being arrested in a raid on a bunch of federal charges that include conspiracy, receipt of stolen goods, and firearms offenses. His last firearms offense, opening fire on FBI agents, got him to meet Allah and numerous virgins or something. The guy's picture looks like a SNL spoof:

Yet that is the picture that appeared in the Detroit News back in October '09. In any case, an autopsy was performed and the results finally released. But you have to cross reference articles in separate liberal publications to get the full story:

•Detroit Free Press: Report: Muslim cleric was shot 21 times in Dearborn raid•Detroit News: FBI shootout with Muslim cleric lasted about 4 seconds

Of course, liberals are already crying foul and asking for an investigation. So are friends and relatives of the cleric (and of course the terrorist enabling organization CAIR) who opened fire on the FBI first, killing a police dog. From the freep:

Concerning how his father was shot, Omar Regan, 34, told the Free Press today, “It’s so inhumane.”
He went on to ask, “How do you justify that? There’s no justification for that.”
Regan and others have called for an independent investigation because of concerns they have about how federal agents targeted Abdullah.

“It’s even worse than we thought,” Regan said of the autopsy report. “It’s ridiculous.”
Regan said he’s especially concerned that his father was reportedly shot in his genitalia region.
Regan said he wants the head of the FBI to take responsibility for what happened.

Uh - didn't the FBI take responsibility already? They went in, were shot at, and thus opened up a can of whupass and let the perp have it. The Detroit News piece indicated that each of 4 agents shot at least 5 shots each. Thus we can come to one conclusion - the FBI agents have awesome weapons training. That's like nearly a 100% hit percentage in 4 seconds. Pure awesomeness. As for CAIR and others, would 1 shot to the head have been better? I mean - it did all happen in 4 seconds. Could any of the agents have perceived a wound to the perp in 4 seconds before squeezing off a few more slugs?

Counter Revolutionaries

Today in Greensboro, North Carolina, the old F.W. Woolworth and Co. building, officially becomes The International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

On February 1, 1960, four 17-year-old freshmen at the all-black Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina , Joseph A. McNeil; Franklin E. McCain; David L. Richmond and Ezell A. Blair Jr. walked in the Woolworth store, sat down at the lunch counter and ordered some food. In accordance with the Jim Crow laws, food was refused, sitting at the counter was for whites only, if they wanted to eat, they had to stand at the of the lunch room.

They sat there mute. Came back the next day, and the next, after a week, hundreds of supporters and opponents packed Woolworth at lunch time. By March the silent protest had spread to 55 cities in 13 states. After six months the Woolworth food counter was desegregated. This non-violent protest became a strategy of the American Civil Rights Movement.

In 1993, Woolworth closed the store, and the building was bought with the idea of turning it into a museum. $23 million of mainly private donations and 17 years of very little community support, the museum opens today. The three surviving protesters will attended the official ceremony.

Is the Tea Party movement "showing better political judgment than either of the two major political parties"?

Glenn Reynolds seems to think so. Of course, the Tea Party movement doesn't have to do all the things the Republicans and Democrats need to do. It's a lot easier to be appealing when you aren't sitting in any positions of power. It's all free speech and reaction to what other people are doing.

By the way, I wonder how many people think "the Tea Party" is the name of a political party. Right now, you have to refer to "the Tea Party movement" if you want to talk about something more than an individual rally. (I think!) If it actually became a party, would it be the Tea Party Party?

The Tony Blair Trial

The British people are going into frenzy over the Chilcot Inquiry Blair saga. Everyone in the UK is almost shocked Blair did not offer an apology or show remorse. Everyone in Iraq I spoke to said ‘huh?’ or ‘what?’ and have never even heard of the inquiry which seeks to establish why their country was invaded in the first place.

The whole thing is very quintessentially ‘British’. Who said what and why and how that changed who’s view on what which led to the invasion. They are very precise and technical and demand to know every single little detail. Iraqis on the other hand are asking their politicians very different questions. Namely how soon they can live in peace with no bombs going off and less money being stolen.

Tony Blair says he has no regrets for getting rid of Saddam, and that feeling is shared by tens of millions of Iraqis who are not asking Blair to apologise for toppling the brutal dictator.

The British people demand to know why Blair used the WMD line to con them into going to war. The Iraqi people on the other hand know what a WMD looks like, smells like, and feels like. The British people demand to know how UNSCR 1441 made it ‘legal’ for Blair to send in Armed Forces into a sovereign state and occupy it. The Iraqi people are grateful that Saddam’s Fedayeen can longer roam the streets cutting tongues off in public squares and hacking their victims’ heads off with machetes. 7 years on British mothers are asking why their sons have been sent to war on a lie. 7 years on Iraqi mothers can still remember having to pay for the bullets ‘wasted’ on their sons’ executions.

Say what you will of the chaos and destruction that followed the March 2003 invasion of my country. It was, and still is, nothing compared to the three decades of oppression and tyranny the Iraqi people had to put up with during Ba’ath rule.

If your family is being executed one by one by some psychopathic murderers, the last thing you want an armed police officer to think about is the ‘legality’ of his reaction.

The British people are of course not just obsessed with the legality of the war; they discuss its ‘morality’. We have heard the argument time and time again. It was the Western powers who supported him against the war with Iran. It was the Western powers who armed Saddam and gave him so many of his weapons. They seem to be confusing only themselves. Bush was not the President of the US when that was happening and Blair could not even get a seat at the Hackney Borough Council when the Iraq-Iran war started. To say they cannot correct the mistakes of previous governments because it would make them hypocrites is an argument that is fundamentally flawed.

A constant question they ask is 'was it moral to get rid of Saddam?'

The simple answer is that it would have been immoral not to.

Justice Alito's candid response to Obama's rebuke

By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Monday, February 1, 2010

The nation owes a substantial debt to Justice Samuel Alito for his display of unhappiness over President Obama's criticisms of the Supreme Court's recent legislation -- excuse me, decision -- opening our electoral system to a new torrent of corporate money.

Alito's inability to restrain himself during the State of the Union address brought to wide attention a truth that too many have tried to ignore: The Supreme Court is now dominated by a highly politicized conservative majority intent on working its will, even if that means ignoring precedents and the wishes of the elected branches of government.

Obama called the court on this, and Alito shook his head and apparently mouthed "not true." His was the honest reaction of a judicial activist who believes he has the obligation to impose his version of right reason on the rest of us.

The controversy also exposed the impressive capacity of the conservative judicial revolutionaries to live by double standards without apology.

Deficit Projection Hits $1.6 Trillion

by Alan

Watch for deficit hawks to hit the roof as President Obama proposes a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011 that shoots up the deficit to $1.6 trillion. According to this plan the red ink goes down to $700 billion by 2013. Deficits will average 4.5% of the economy.

Details of the administration’s budget headed for Congress include an additional $100 billion to attack painfully high unemployment. The proposed $3.8 trillion budget would provide billions more to pull the country out of the Great Recession while increasing taxes on the wealthy and imposing a spending freeze on many government programs.

Administration projections show the deficit never dropping below $700 billion, even under assumptions that war costs will drop precipitously to just $50 billion in some years instead of more than three times that this year and next.

But would conservatives want to overturn tax breaks for the middle class?

On the anti-recession front, congressional sources said Obama’s new budget will propose extending the popular Making Work Pay middle-class tax breaks of $400 per individual and $800 per couple through 2011. They were due to expire after this year.

And will they applaud the pay-as-you-go rules?

Also on the deficit front, the president has endorsed a pay-as-you-go proposal that passed the Senate last week. It would require any new tax cuts or entitlement spending increases to be paid for, and he has promised to create a commission to recommend by year’s end ways to trim the deficits. However, a legislatively mandated panel was rejected in a Senate vote last week. Republicans opposed establishing the panel because it might recommend tax increases to close the deficit.

Great. Oppose a panel because it might come up with a recommendation you don’t like.