Thursday, March 05, 2009

New Heritage Foundation Talk!!!

In my latest talk to the great think tank the Heritage Foundation entitled "Hating What's Right: How Modern Liberals Wind Up On The Wrong Side of EVERY Issue," I explain how America hatred and Jew hatred are INDEMIC to Modern Liberalism and delve deeper into why it is the otherwise good and decent people will INVARIABLY side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure3 over those that lead to success.

See the talk at Heritage.org. or wait until someone posts it on youtube.

PS -- There is a bootleg version already up on youtube. The quality is not good and it is only a short snippet of the entire talk.

Please feel free to pass on the link to others you think may benefit from seeing it.

All the best!

Evan

370 comments:

1 – 200 of 370   Newer›   Newest»
ToonsToughAsNails said...

Dear Sir
You owe me and unknown others on the bus to work new shirts and ties. I was listening to the podcast and your crack about the Arc de Triomphe made me spray coffee out my nose.

Respectfully

Serving the USA in Rome

Anonymous said...

Nothing is better than an ex-liberal. It's better than an ex-smoker. God Bless you Sir. A hero, you are.

Anonymous said...

Gone to go look for it...

Anonymous said...

There's only about a five minute bootleg segment on YouTube... but it looks great!

Larry Blivins said...

"...benefit from seeing it."

hahahahahahahahaha

I know some students of psychopathy who might benefit.

This moron hasn't learned a new line in a decade...even after the most disastrous administration in history!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"I explain how America hatred and Jew hatred are INDEMIC to Modern Liberalism..."

74% of U.S. Jews voted for Barack Obama.

Perlmutter said...

...and 99.9% of them can spell ENDEMIC...which is just one reason why they don't want anything to do with lowbrow, fascist weirdos like Evan Sayet.

P. said...

Oh, Toons doesn't really seem to exist. I heard this guy likes to "create" support for himself where none exists...like with all the imaginary Jews.

mutter unknown said...

Wow. Anon should really get a job as a "spell check" program. He'd probably make a great secretary for somebody some day, if he could ever learn to keep his worthless opinions from intruding upon his work.

Bosch Fawstin said...

Here's Evan's latest talk

Anonymous said...

I think the moron has finally struck gold. He failed as a comedian until he started doing his "serious" stuff. Now, everyong is laughing at the lunatic.

ba DUMB dumb said...

You're funny as all get out, too. But then, looks aren't everything.

NotANutter said...

Perlmutter,

Not being able to spell an uncommon word is far more forgiveable than not knowing the MEANING of the word FASCIST.

Anonymous said...

Evan, you are AWESOME! Keep fighting for logic and common sense.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,Evan.

Anonymous said...

NotANutter, Evan shoudn't use "uncommon" words if he doesn't know how to spell them. But I suppose that's too much to ask of a quarter-educated hack.

Hopeful said...

Evan, I just die everytime I see your image on the screen!!! Could we meet?...oh, please. You have such a fine intellect. My husband is a liberal and ...well, just sooo dull and unmanly...VEEEERY much unlike you!!

democrats winning class warfare battle vs rich said...

The financial crisis has weighed heavily on American households, and millionaires are no exception, according to a report released Wednesday.

The number of American households with a net worth of $1 million or more, excluding the value of their primary residence, fell 27% to 6.7 million in 2008 from an all-time high of 9.2 million the year before, according to a report from market research firm Spectrem Group.

"America has a lot fewer millionaires than when this economic crisis began," said George Walper, president of Spectrem Group, in a written statement.

Anonymous said...

Financials lead stocks to best week since November
03/13/09 17:28 EDT
ContentType:Spot Development; ContentElement:FullStory; Breaking:True;

By SARA LEPRO and TIM PARADIS

AP Business Writers

NEW YORK (AP) - A stunning about-face in bank shares handed the stock market its best week since November.

The market has shot up as much over the past several days as it might in some years, with major indicators chalking up gains of around 10 percent.

Friday's gains were modest compared with the huge rallies on Tuesday and Thursday, but investors welcomed the moderate buying and the market's ability to hold its ground. Several other recent rallies have ended with disappointing selloffs.

Fears have eased that the nation's major financial institutions would collapse or at least require additional government lifelines to stay alive. Market veterans were quick to rein in hopes that the market would chart an uninterrupted recovery but many still saw the four straight days of gains a good sign.

"The biggest question for investors now is, 'Have we put in the lows and is it safe to get back into the water?' " said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53.92, or 0.8 percent, to 7,223.98. The Dow hasn't put up four straight gains since late November.

For the week, the Dow jumped 9 percent, its best week since rising 9.7 percent in the week ended Nov. 28.

Other market indicators also gained. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.81, or 0.8 percent, to 756.55. The Nasdaq composite index rose 5.40, or 0.4 percent, to 1,431.50.

The S&P 500 index added 10.7 percent for the week and the Nasdaq rose 10.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, which reflects nearly all stocks traded in America, jumped 10.7 percent. That's a paper gain of about $900 billion.

Still, the Dow and the S&P 500 index are still down by about half from their peak in October 2007.

The turnaround began Tuesday as the head of Citigroup Inc. said the bank had managed to turn a profit in the first two months of the year. That helped lift the cloud of worry that has cloaked financial stocks since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September.

Traders who last week pounded Citi shares to be low $1 began buying the stock again. The gains in the beaten-down industry were enormous: Citi surged 73 percent for the week, Bank of America Corp. jumped 83 percent and Wells Fargo & Co. rose 62 percent.

Traders are often reluctant to hold on to large positions ahead of the weekend out of fears that bad news could be on the way. This coming weekend is packed of events that could have a great affect on trading next week.

Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 countries are meeting Friday and Saturday outside London, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will discuss the financial crisis in a rare interview to be broadcast on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday.

Energy stocks dragged on the market ahead of a weekend OPEC meeting on whether the cartel should adjust oil production. Health stocks rose, while financial companies and technology shares wavered after posting big advances this week.

Financial stocks showed uneven advances following reports that Citigroup Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons said the bank doesn't need additional government support. Word that Citigroup, which has received three rounds of emergency funding, was having its best quarter since 2007 touched off the rally Tuesday.

Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. also said this week that they have been profitable so far this year. The market has been quick to embrace the encouraging signs about the financial system after weeks of unrelenting selling spurred on by concerns that the government's efforts to break a freeze in lending weren't working.

Despite the glimmers of hope, analysts are still a long way away from declaring that the worst is over.

"We are going to remain cautious because the slightest bit of bad news could turn this thing around," said Joe Arnold, investment adviser at Dawson Wealth Management.

Analysts said technical factors that helped drive the market for the week continued Friday, including short-covering, when traders buy stock to cover "short" trades in which they bet a stock will fall.

Upbeat reports from companies in a range of industries lifted stocks after stocks finished at their lowest levels in more than 12 years on Monday. General Motors Corp. said Thursday it wouldn't need the latest installment of government bailout money, and a cut in General Electric Co.'s credit rating on the same day wasn't as bad as some had feared.

Also feeding optimism about banks this week was news that an accounting board may recommend an easing of financial reporting rules of tough-to-sell assets. Banks say a change in so-called "mark-to-market" accounting rules would help their bottom lines.

On Friday, Citigroup rose 11 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $1.78, while Bank of America fell 9 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $5.76. Wells Fargo slipped 1 cent to $13.94.

General Motors extended its gains on Friday, jumping 54 cents, or 24.8 percent, to $22.72. For the week, GM rose 88 percent.

More than 2 stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume came to 1.61 billion shares.

Bonds were mixed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.89 percent from 2.86 percent late Thursday. The yield on the three-month T-bill fell to 0.21 percent from 0.22 percent Thursday.

The dollar fell against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell 78 cents to settle at $46.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.1 percent, Germany's DAX index slipped 0.7 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average jumped 5.2 percent.

On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com

Anonymous said...

If Tax-Cut Lapsing Is Class Warfare, Let’s Fight: John M. Berry

Commentary by John M. Berry

March 11 (Bloomberg) -- If letting top income-tax rates go back to where they were in 2000 is class warfare against the rich, I’m ready to snap to attention with my old M1 rifle on my shoulder.

What a ridiculous label, class warfare. It’s hardly aggression against any class to have a progressive income-tax system in which fairness and ability to pay are important considerations in setting rates for different income groups.

As far as the top tax rates are concerned, what President Barack Obama has proposed in his comprehensive, tightly crafted budget is to leave current law unchanged. That’s right: The law already calls for today’s 33 percent rate to go to 36 percent and the 35 percent rate to rise to 39.6 percent, in 2011.

Why did a Republican Congress and President George W. Bush countenance the 2011 expiration dates in the 2001 tax-cut bill? It was one of several deceitful provisions that made rate reductions temporary to hold down estimates of revenue loss. Of course, the GOP intended all along to make the rate cuts permanent.

Obama would let the Bush rate cuts expire only for couples with incomes above $250,000 (above $200,000 for single individuals) and raise the rates for them on capital gains and dividends to 20 percent from 15 percent.

Unfair? I don’t think so, given these earners’ relatively greater ability to bear the added burden. There’s no doubt that a larger share of the nation’s income has become concentrated at the very top of the distribution.

Needed Revenue

The extra revenue would be used to help finance the government’s necessary role in dealing with the dangers of climate change and improving access to health care and control of its costs. And in a fortunate bit of timing, the resumption of higher taxes wouldn’t begin until 2011, when the economy is likely to be on the mend.

The Obama plan would give most taxpayers small reductions in tax liabilities, partly to stimulate the economy and partly to offset the increase in energy costs they will encounter following implementation of a new cap-and-trade emissions-control program. A direct tax on carbon emissions probably would be more efficient. Unfortunately, it’s a non-starter politically.

There’s a rare coherence to the Obama budget in that it simultaneously tackles many of the serious short-term problems the country faces, such as the need to stimulate the recession- wracked economy, and longer-term ones such as climate change.

Furthermore, it does what no budget proposed by Bush or Bill Clinton ever did: it treats the alternative minimum tax realistically. That is, it acknowledges that lawmakers would act every year to prevent the AMT from hitting millions of added taxpayers.

Real AMT Fix

This year’s fix has already been made. Instead of counting phantom revenue for the future, Obama wants to index the AMT brackets for inflation, a change that’s been needed for years. This would reduce expected revenue by $576 billion over the next 10 years, according to the budget.

The budget’s very coherence introduces an element of risk. Obama has to persuade Congress to deal with it as a package rather than cherry-pick the easy parts -- the middle-income tax cuts -- while rejecting the hard ones, such as a realistic emissions-control program.

It’s going to be a hard sell, and some key congressional Democrats are opposing parts of it, including limits on farm subsidies.

Some also are skeptical about a proposed limit of 28 cents per dollar on the value of itemized deductions by higher-income households, including those for mortgage interest and charitable gifts. They shouldn’t be.

Mortgage Deduction

The value of the mortgage-interest deduction goes overwhelmingly to taxpayers in upper brackets. Sooner or later it ought to be capped or eliminated, and this could be a step in that direction. Sure, the housing market remains in dreadful shape, though keep in mind the change wouldn’t take effect until 2011.

As for charitable gifts, when the top tax rate fell to 28 percent in the late 1980s, giving fell but hardly collapsed.

At least there’s room for disagreement on those issues. There’s no rational argument against Obama’s plan to treat so- called carried interest as ordinary income rather than a capital gain.

Carried interest is a managing partner’s share of gains when investments of private-equity or other funds are sold. That share, usually 20 percent, is just a management fee, not a gain on capital at risk, and should be taxed accordingly.

Unfounded Fears

When Clinton proposed raising the top rates to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in 1993, there were plenty of predictions that the higher marginal rates would hurt Americans’ willingness to work and invest. Some economists argued that so many people would opt for leisure instead of work that the higher rates would raise no additional revenue.

Instead, a boom ensued in the latter 1990s, and the Congressional Budget Office credited the higher rates with generating a great deal of revenue.

What did Bush’s lower rates produce? Mediocre growth, very large deficits and financial-market manipulation.

The reality is that tax rates aren’t nearly as powerful a force as some people think they are.

Nor is the degree of progressivity a moral issue, as some conservatives seem to think. Going back to the rates in effect just several years ago is hardly an act of immorality, or a declaration of war.

(John M. Berry is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Anonymous said...

Buoyed by market, Obama moves on small businesses

By STEVEN R. HURST

Associated Press

Building on the U.S. stock market's best week in more than three months, President Barack Obama planned Monday to commit billions of dollars to American small businesses _ a sector that will be key to restoring American jobs.
Bidding to minimize misgivings that his spending blueprint shorts small business owners, Obama has decided to announce a broad package of measures Monday that includes $730 million from the stimulus plan. This money will be used to immediately reduce small-business lending fees and increase the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent.

The government also will take aggressive steps to boost bank liquidity with more than $10 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, according to officials briefed on the plan who demanded anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president's announcement. Small business owners have complained about difficulties obtaining credit from struggling banks.

Summers confirmed the announcement was in the works but did not offer details.

"It's a huge step in the right direction," Giovanni Coratolo, director of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. "In this economy, having the least amount of risk for banks will incentivize banks to lend to small businesses. A lot of small businesses will benefit from this."

The announcement comes as Republicans have expressed misgivings over Obama's ambitious spending plan. In particular, opposition critics say Obama's budget proposal to raise taxes, starting in 2011, on individuals earning more than $200,000 and on households earning more than $250,000 will hurt small businesses.

Apparently buoyed by a nearly 10 percent gain in the stock markets last week, Christina Romer, chief of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said Sunday that the administration believed the fundamentals of the economy were strong "in the sense that the American workers are sound, we have a good capital stock, we have good technology.

She added, however: "We know that _ that temporarily we're in a mess, right? We've seen huge job loss, we've seen very large falls in GDP. So certainly in the short run we're in a _ in a bad situation."

But her choice of words raised partisan eyebrows in the offices of some Republican congressional leaders, where aides recalled their party's presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, saw his run for the White House seriously unravel after he declared U.S. economic fundamentals were strong late in the 2008 campaign. He issued that assessment as the country's financial system was on the verge of collapse.

While partisanship held sway across the Sunday television talk shows, there was general support for the remarks of the president's chief economic adviser, who called it "outrageous" that troubled insurance giant American International Group was paying out tens of millions in new bonuses after taking $170 billion in public bailout money.

Lawrence Summers said there was little the administration could do without "abrogating" existing contracts but that the matter should be dealt with in future regulations. AIG reported a loss of $61.7 billion for the fourth quarter of last year _ the largest corporate loss in history.

Adding to positive Obama administration language on the economy, Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that he believed there are signs the public's confidence is growing in the Obama administration's ability to tackle the financial crisis.

Biden said that he and the president have no doubt that the country will overcome its economic problems. And he feels the recent uptick in the stock market was a result of the "Obama factor." He said people are starting to understand the president has a plan.

"There is no doubt in our minds and there is no doubt in the president's mind that in fact we will overcome this. We will climb out of this hole," Biden told The Associated Press in an interview in Little Rock, Arkansas. "It just takes some real perseverance and you've got to have a guy as gutsy as the president who's willing to make some really tough decisions."

Biden noted: "Consumer confidence is slightly up. The market is slightly up. It'll go down again, but the people are beginning to figure out that the president's got a plan and he believes we can work our way through this."

Even so, Obama's political allies are not taking chances. Organizing for America, whose almost 14 million-person e-mail list is drawn from voters who supported Obama last November, plans to mobilize them this week to build grass-roots support for the budget on the Internet and on phone lines.

"We didn't fight to shy away from the tough long-term decisions Washington has ducked for far too long," Obama political adviser David Plouffe wrote this weekend to members of the group, which is overseen by the Democratic National Committee.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, meanwhile, said Sunday that Americans are less safe now that Barack has overturned Bush administration terrorism-fighting policies and that nearly all the Republican administration's goals in Iraq had been achieved.

Fulfilling campaign pledges, Obama has suspended military trials for suspected terrorists and announced he will close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as overseas sites where the CIA has held some detainees. The president also ordered CIA interrogators to abide by the U.S. Army Field Manual's regulations for treatment of detainees and denounced waterboarding as torture.

Asked on CNN if he thought Obama had made Americans less safe with those actions, Cheney replied, "I do."

"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," Cheney said.

"I think that's a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles," he said. "President Obama campaigned against it all across the country. And now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack."

Some Democratic lawmakers and other critics have denounced those and other Bush programs, such as warrantless surveillance, as counterproductive and illegal.

Summers appeared on ABC's "This Week" and CBS's "Face the Nation." Romer was on NBC's "Meet the Press." Frank spoke on "Fox News Sunday."

Anonymous said...

Wall Street cautiously optimistic this week

By IEVA M. AUGSTUMS – 7 hours ago

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Wall Street knows it shouldn't get ahead of itself.

So traders and investors are likely to go into the new week cautiously as they wait to see if last week's rally was a sign of a turnaround or just a blip.

The market has gotten used to false starts since stocks began their collapse last September. And as Wall Street ran up its biggest weekly gain since November, many analysts warned that this rally would soon fizzle, with stocks pulling back again rather than staging a lasting recovery. Rallies before it have evaporated — most notably the big comeback in late 2008.

Last week's surprising rally came on what looked like the start of something positive. Better-than-expected retail sales figures helped stocks, as did upbeat corporate news. First, there was word that Citigroup Inc. had operated at a profit the first two months of the year. There was also improving news from four other Dow Jones industrials: Bank of America Corp., General Electric Co., General Motors Corp. and Pfizer Inc.

"We have seen a positive change here," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group, of the market's sentiment. "It seems like the mentality has changed a little bit."

The coming week has a series of economic reports that aren't expected to show significant improvement. But the market may get another lift if there are more signs that the economy is at least not getting any worse.

Perhaps the greatest possible influence this week will be the Federal Reserve's assessment of the economy that will accompany its decision on interest rates after a two-day meeting that ends Wednesday. The Fed is widely expected to hold interest rates steady. Its federal funds rates is already almost as low as it can go, set at a range of zero to 0.25 percent.

"All the Fed can do at this point is be clear about the role they are playing and say that they are going to do anything it takes to prop up this system," said Tommy Williams, president of Williams Financial Advisors in Shreveport, La.

Last week, the Dow gained 9 percent, rising 597.04 points to 7,223.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 ended up 10.7 percent, rising 73.17 points to 756.55.

"We actually put some money to work this past week on this move to the upside," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in New York. "But we're certainly concerned about the potential for some reversal here."

The Citi news, which broke the market's long losing streak was a surprise for many investors, especially the short sellers who had been unloading stocks as they bet that Wall Street was going to keep falling. They were forced to quickly buy stocks back, and contributed heavily to Tuesday's 379-point surge in the Dow.

Technical buying also had a hand as stocks extended their advance to four days — the first such winning streak since the five day gain that ended in late November — but it was also clear that sentiment had, at least for the time being, turned.

"I think the propensity is to assume the (downward) trend is going to continue, but I don't think that's necessarily what's going to happen," said Don Hodges, co-portfolio manager of the midcap grown Hodges Fund in Dallas.

If a recovery is in fact under way, the market may become more of a stock-picker's market. Many stocks are oversold, and market experts say that makes them a good value.

The coming week will bring a flood of data for investors to consider as they try to decide their next moves.

Earnings reports are due from some of nation's big retailers and other companies including Nike Inc., Oracle Corp. and Discover Financial Services.

A Fed report on industrial production for February is due Monday, and the Labor Department delivers two inflation reports: its producer price index for February on Tuesday and the consumer price index on Wednesday. The department releases its latest report on weekly jobless claims comes out Thursday.

The Commerce Department is expected to release its report on housing starts for February on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the department reports on the current account trade deficit for the fourth quarter.

Wall Street has been able to take a lot of negative economic numbers in stride lately, understanding that the recession will take time to work itself through. But, Orlando said, "if any of these reports are less dreadful, we can only hope the market is going to take that positively."

Anonymous said...

NewsFed chief Bernanke: recession could end in '09

By JEANNINE AVERSA – 3 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — America's recession "probably" will end this year if the government succeeds in bolstering the banking system, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Sunday in a rare television interview.

In carefully hedged remarks in a taped interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Bernanke seemed to express a bit more optimism that this could be done.

Still, Bernanke stressed — as he did to Congress last month — that the prospects for the recession ending this year and a recovery taking root next year hinge on a difficult task: getting banks to lend more freely again and getting the financial markets to work more normally.

"We've seen some progress in the financial markets, absolutely," Bernanke said. "But until we get that stabilized and working normally, we're not going to see recovery.

"But we do have a plan. We're working on it. And, I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year."

Even if the recession, which began in December 2007, ends this year, the unemployment rate will keep climbing past the current quarter-century high of 8.1 percent, Bernanke said.

A growing number of economists think the jobless rate will hit 10 percent by the end of this year.

Asked about the biggest potential dangers now, Bernanke suggested a lack of "political will" to solve the financial crisis.

He said, though, that the United States has averted the risk of plunging into a depression.

"I think we've gotten past that," he said.

It's rare for a sitting Fed chief to grant an interview, whether for broadcast or print. Bernanke said he chose to do so because it's an "extraordinary time" for the country, and it gave him a chance to speak directly to the American public. (A transcript of the interview was provided in advance of the broadcast.)

Bernanke spoke at a time of rising public anger over financial bailouts using taxpayer money. Battling the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, the government has put hundreds of billions of those dollars at risk to prop up troubled institutions and stabilize the banking system.

Institutions that have been thrown lifelines include American International Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and others.

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have questioned the effectiveness of the rescue efforts and have demanded more information about how taxpayers' money is being used.

Bernanke's TV interview seemed to be part of a government public relations offensive. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS' "The Charlie Rose Show" last week, discussing the financial crisis and the Obama's administration's relief efforts.

The Fed chief on Sunday's broadcast repeated his ire over the AIG bailout, saying that over the past 18 months, that was the case that angered him the most. He says he "slammed the phone more than a few times on discussing AIG."

The government's four efforts to save the troubled insurance giant total more than $170 billion. A collapse of AIG would have wreaked havoc on the global economy, the Fed has said.

AIG ignited fresh outrage over the weekend with news that it's making $165 million in bonus payments to executives on Sunday, most of them in the unit that sold risky financial contracts that caused huge losses for AIG.

When the financial crisis intensified last fall, Bernanke and President George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson rushed to Capitol Hill for help. That led to the swift enactment of a $700 billion bailout package in October. Since then, banks have received billions in capital injections in return for government ownership stakes in them.

Looking back, Bernanke said the world came close to a financial meltdown. Asked how close, Bernanke responded: "It was very close."

Bernanke admitted that the Fed could have done a better job of overseeing banks. Critics say lax regulatory oversight contributed to the crisis.

Bernanke said he believes all the big banks the Fed regulates are solvent. Big banks won't fail under his watch, Bernanke said — though, if necessary, the government should try to "wind it down in a safe way."

Anonymous said...

News Hounds
We watch FOX so you don't have to.

FOX News Enables Republicans In Denying Their Earmark Addiction
Reported by Ellen - March 15, 2009

Just when I thought Fox News (and the Republicans) could sink no lower, they sank lower. The most recent babble from the Right (which, of course, includes Fox News, the Official Conservative Network) over those evil earmarks is stunning in its absolutely circular logic – or wait, not even circular – lack of logic altogether. Anyone tuned in probably knows that the Congressional Righties have quite an aversion to the earmarks in the $410 billion dollar spending bill just signed by President Obama – such an aversion, in fact, that they took all of theirs out, right? Not quite – 40% of the earmarks in this bill belong to the Republicans.


The striking thing about some Republicans’ attitude on the earmark debate – including their defiant attitude about removing their own from the bill – is not that they have them in there. The WTF moment is that their message, aided by Fox News non-reporting, seems to be, yes, we have our own earmarks in there, but it’s STILL PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAULT for not making us take them out! Oh, and let’s not forget that other little distortion, you know, how they continue to claim, with the help of Fox News, that President Obama promised on the campaign trail to eliminate earmarks altogether.

First up, on March 3rd, the Republican spin machine, with the help of Fox News business guy Neil Cavuto, cranked up. His guest was losing-candidate John McCain, to discuss the earmarks.

Cavuto said, “Well, you tried, and the President is going to sign this thing anyway.”

“Well, I think it’s disgraceful,” McCain commented, correctly pointing out that 40% were Republican earmarks, and that it’s a “bipartisan disease.”

But Cavuto (he got the memo), said, “The President said he would get rid of it, though, and would stomp it, and would stop the Senate’s fixation with it.” Stop me before I earmark again! Cavuto never asked the million-dollar question: Why did Republicans include the earmarks in the bill at all? Strike one for Fox News.

Next up, On The Record with "liberal"
Greta van Susteren hosted Newt Gingrich on March 10th, at which time he said, “I think it's a tragedy that this president is not going to keep his word and veto a bill that has 9,000 earmarks.” Yes, veto it, veto it, save us from ourselves! “Look, this president has made the decision that he's going to govern with the left wing of the Congress . . . He's going to do it even if it breaks all of his campaign promises . . . not to sign earmarks.”

As has been established, President Obama did not say he was not going to sign earmarks. His pledge was to reform the earmark process and eliminate wasteful spending. Van Susteren, of course, during this discussion never disputed Gingrich's inaccuracy, and never questioned why, if the Republicans were so opposed, they inserted their own -- numerous -- earmarks? Strike two for Fox News.

On March 11th, Bret Baier had a Special Report on the Omnibus spending bill (making a point of the fact that the President signed the bill without the "usual ceremony"). The report went on to say that the President did not call for "an end" to earmarks (implying that he should have) or set a target to reduce their number or the amount of tax dollars they consume. Special Report showed a clip of McCain spouting his now-familiar sour grapes: “You voted for change but you’re not getting any change today.”

Reporter Major Garrett noted that Republican leaders have many earmarkers in their own ranks before showing Republican Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner saying, “The question I have is, where’s the beef? Where’s the reform?”

Indeed, Boehner, where? At another time, Boehner said, “This legislation is loaded with 9,000 unscrutinized earmarks – the kind of secretive spending the president promised to oppose . . . .” Mr. Boehner forgot to mention that many of those “unscrutinized earmarks” were for Republicans.

Again, not a word from either Baier or Garrett asking why, if the Republicans were so opposed, their ranks claimed 40% of the overall number. Strike three, you’re out. Well, not actually, because there’s more.

Also on March 11th, Baier held a panel discussion with Jim Vandehei, executive editor of The Politico, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Though Krauthhammer was completely happy to say that the spending bill full of earmarks was [President Obama‘s, presumably] “hypocrisy squared,” not one word -- from any of the panelists -- about the Republicans’ own earmarks. Should we start over with strike one, or call the season?

Even the local Foxies got into the act. On March 11th, Fox4KC.com – the Kansas City Fox Network - reported that “there is controversy surrounding the bill.“ It noted, incorrectly, that “President Obama had promised during the campaign to get rid of earmarks." It continued by saying, "But, earmarks abound in the new bill. And, the administration had blamed these earmarks as being old business.” Mentioning only KC’s Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s earmarks, there was no reference to Republican earmarks at all.

On March 12th, the Washington Post reported some of the big-ticket items Republicans got for their states. Here are some highlights:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) - Total earmarks co-sponsored: $75.6 million
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) - $25.8 million
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) - $32 million
Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), ranking GOP member of House Appropriations Committee - $18.8 million
Rep. John M. McHugh (N.Y.), ranking GOP member of House Armed Services Committee - $5.4 million
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking GOP member of Senate Appropriations Committee - $470.9 million (the largest dollar amount of earmarks for any member of Congress)
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), ranking GOP member of Senate Finance Committee - $199.1 million
Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of National Republican Senatorial Committee - $86 million
Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), ranking GOP member of House Rules Committee - $17.2 million
Rep. Lamar Smith (Tex.), ranking GOP member of House Judiciary Committee - $24.6 million.

So, yeah, I guess the next spin excuse ridiculousness reason we’ll hear is that this was only a test for our new President -- yeah, we put ‘em in there to trick him, just to see if he‘d take ‘em out.

The bill was written sometime last year, the bill was filled with pork, the Republicans are railing against earmarks but they still left their 40% handprint on the bill.

FOX News is helping the Republicans divert attention away from that handprint -- and hey, if anyone notices, well, President Obama said he’d eliminate earmarks (even though he didn‘t), so it’s his fault Republican earmarks are left in there and that‘s a broken campaign promise (even though it isn‘t).

The earmarks make up a measly 2% of the budget. But Fox News seems to be on a mission, a mission to aid the right-wing finger-pointers in shooting slings and arrows at the Democrats while blatantly violating the very tenets they espouse.

wealth destruction is the DNCs mission said...

Wow, the economy sure is doing great now that Obama has reduced the number of America's millionaires by 2.5 million. The man certainly knows how to destroy wealth. And now that we're all uniformly much poorer than we were just three short months ago, we should all take heart that Obama's class war agqainst the rich has significantly reduced the "wealth gap" between rich and poor. And with higher taxes on the rich, that gap is going to STAY closed and nobody will be allowed to get rich!

Anonymous said...

The decline massive decline in wealth took place under Bush, not Obama, when the stock market collapsed in September. Obama has only been in office since January 20 of this year - less than 2 months. The wealthy are suffering just like everyone else from the Bush legacy. In the 30s, the first beneficiaries of the New Deal were the wealthy. As the economy recovered, they regained their wealth. With respect to taxes, Obama and the Democrats are not going to renew Bush's tax cuts for the 2% of the population who make over $250,000 a year. The wealthy will be paying what they did during the Clinton years. There will be tax cuts for everyone making under $250 a year. There were wealthy people before the Bush's tax cuts (which contributed to ruinous deficits) and there will continue to be wealthy people after they end. The stock market is doing better than at any time since November. The Republicans are responsible for the economic catastrophe and they have political investment in it continuing. They have only card left to play - that Obama's economic policies fail. If they succeed, the Republicans are finished. So they pray that the that Obama's policies fail. They not only pray, they act. The best all Americans can hope for is that the Republican Party disappears altogether. It is entirely bankrupt, intellectually and morally.

Anonymous said...

You are debating a moron.

They are just for kicking around.

obama sure did change the economy said...

The DJIA was at 9,500 when Obama was elected. The Congress had only pissed away $700B in bailouts. Since then, over seven trillion dollars have since been flushed down the Obama toilet in government handouts, and an estimated $75 trillion worldwide in equities have "disappeared".

Thanks, Barack.

Candy said...

For years the GOP has sewed the seeds of ignorance, fundamentalist religion, racism,homophobia, incompetence, greed, class warfare against the poor and middle class, anger, and the division of their fellow countryman. Now they reap their harvest of political failure and minority status.

It takes a Wide Stance to support a Big Tent.

That's the theme for the 2012 GOP convention.

Anonymous said...

I hear they're planning on making their big (empty) tent out of Limbaugh's shorts.

Anonymous said...

Republicans losing confidence in their leaders

Posted: 07:22 PM ET

From CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Republicans are losing faith in GOP congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Support for Republican leaders in Congress is tumbling — especially among Republicans.

According to a Pew telephone survey of 1,308 Americans conducted from March 9-12, just 43 percent of Republicans approve of their party's leaders in Washington — a 12-point drop from just one month ago, when their approval rating among Republicans stood at 55 percent.

In the month between early February and early March — a period that saw furious debate over the president’s economic stimulus package, followed by the bill’s ultimate passage — support for GOP leaders dropped 10 points among self-described conservative Republicans, and 12 points among moderate and liberal Republicans.

Among all Americans, support for the GOP is even lower. Just 28 percent approve of the job Republicans are doing, a six-point drop from last month, and slight majority of Americans say they disapprove of Republican leaders.

Meanwhile, 47 percent of Americans approve of the job Democratic leaders in Congress are doing, a rating virtually unchanged from a month ago.

The GOP also appears to be suffering from a lack of clear leadership. When asked who is leading the Republican Party, barely a quarter of Americans could come up with a name.


John McCain came up most often, with 11 percent naming him as the party’s leader. Five percent of Americans named Rush Limbaugh, while Newt Gingrich and Michael Steele were each named by two percent of those surveyed.

The party’s actual leaders in Congress — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner — were named by just one percent of Americans, a statistically insignificant number in a poll with a margin of error of three percentage points.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm!!! Republicans love that pork:

Hutchison: No on bill, yes on pork

By LISA FALKENBERG Copyright 2009

Houston Chronicle

March 16, 2009, 10:35PM

If only we could “export the good, old Texas common sense to the United States Congress.”

That was U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s wishful sentiment in a press release last week. But maybe our senior senator in Washington could use a dose of that good old Texas common sense herself.

Hutchison stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke out against the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. She advertised her opposition in a press release that bemoaned the long-term consequences of America’s irresponsible spending and soaring debt obligations.

Then, she dutifully voted against it.

But it passed anyway. And as soon as it did, Hutchison began taking credit for nearly $54 million in Houston-area pork she helped secure within the $410 billion, pork-filled bill she’d condemned.

One after another, eight press releases were issued announcing Hutchison’s victories. To name a few: $34.4 million for the Houston Ship Channel and Houston-Galveston navigation channels; $15 million for Houston Metro; $300,000 for Houston’s Julia Ideson library; $500,000 for something called a “Virtual Space Community.”

And $2.6 million for Houston-area projects benefiting institutions such as Rice University, MD Anderson and the Harris County Hospital District.

Hutchison did offer a disclaimer explaining that, although she was “pleased that she was able to secure significant funding for many deserving projects in Texas,” she voted against the final budget because it grew more than 8 percent from the previous year and included “duplicative and unnecessary spending.”

“At a time when American families are facing tough economic decisions, she believes Congress should show spending restraint,” Hutchison’s press release stated.

So, you might say she was for it before she was against it. Or maybe for it before she was against it, before she was for it again.

Either way, it’s the kind of logic you’d get from a stuffy Democratic senator from Massachusetts. Not a potential gubernatorial contender from Texas. It’s the kind of ammunition for which her likely opponent, Gov. Rick Perry, is waiting.

Twenty years ago, Hutchison might have been accused of Grammstanding, the term assigned to Texas’ former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm for his tendency of taking undeserved credit for legislation he didn’t help pass or sometimes that he opposed.

Hutchison’s tactics aren’t novel. Despite the outrage fueled by Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere, and more recently, the porkiest of pork projects, a study on why pigs smell, most people know how the game of congressional earmarks is played.

In Washington, the politicians complain about the pork. Back at home, most of them brag about bringing home the bacon. Indeed, many see it as their core mission. And the truth is, the evil isn’t really in the earmarks. It’s in a process still cloaked enough to allow corruption and waste. Many are worthy projects, and they make up at the most 3 percent of the budget.

Although Hutchison led Texas’ delegation with earmarks, at least 104 items work about $250 million in the House version of the budget, she was by no means alone. As my colleagues Stewart M. Powell and Richard S. Dunham reported, Libertarian-leaning Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, topped the House list with $96.1 million worth and Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, was second with $63.6 million.

Republicans don’t have the lock on earmarks, though. To secure the Metro funding, for example, Hutchison worked with several House Democrats.

But the hypocrisy and double-standards at play in the pork lottery are impossible to ignore. As Republican leaders gleefully seized on Obama’s backtracking on a campaign pledge to cut pork as he signed a bill with 9,000 earmarks, Republican congress members who voted against the bill were reveling in the fruits of their home-project spending sprees.

Talking out of both sides of one’s mouth is what Washington is about. But let’s see how well that strategy works for Hutchison back home.

Anonymous said...

Poll: Obama Leads Palin By 20 Points

By Eric Kleefeld - March 18, 2009, 10:49AM

A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) -- already looking ahead to the 2012 general election! -- pits Barack Obama against Sarah Palin.

The numbers: Obama 55%, Palin 35%. This margin is nearly identical to Obama's approval of 55% and disapproval of 37%. Palin's own personal favorables and unfavorables stand at 39%-50%.

The pollster's analysis has the obvious caveat that we can't know what might happen in the next few years, but these numbers would point to Obama winning over 400 electoral votes.

On the other hand, just think of the stability of our two-party political system, that somebody running against Sarah Palin would only lead by 20 points.

democrats running from toxic DNC said...

Republicans have the lead in the generic ballot in the Rasmussen poll and are running even in that question in the latest NPR poll. The Republican lead in Rasmussen is 41-39 percent, with Democrats at the low end of the 39-50 percent range they've been over the past year and Republicans at the top end of their 34-41 percent range.

Is this just statistical noise? Quite possibly. But if I were chairman of the NRCC I would sure be looking at targeting a whole lot more races than I had imagined I would three months ago.

Rasmussen tells me that he has been tracking this question since January 2004 and that "Occasional polls may have shown the Rs ahead, but it's been a long time." He agrees that this may just be statistical noise, but notes that the gap between the parties has closed since the November 2008 election, and that that is more the result of the Democratic number sagging than of the Republican number rising.

The NPR poll similarly finds party identification today at 42-42 percent, as compared to 51-40 percent Democratic in October 2006. Note that this also represents a decline for Democrats, not a gain for Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Interesting snippet from CNN poll:

"But if the economy doesn't improve over the next year, 54 percent would blame former President George W. Bush and the Republicans and only 32 percent Obama and the Democrats, the poll found."

Anonymous said...

March 17, 2009 6:30 PM

From the new CBS News Poll:

"When it comes to issues, Democrats also have an advantage, according to the poll. Americans prefer the Democratic Party to the Republican Party on a number of key issues, including improving the health care system (65 to 18 percent), ensuring a strong economic recovery (50 to 22 percent), and deciding how the government should spend taxpayers’ money (50 to 28 percent). Democrats also have a very slight edge on dealing with terrorism (41 to 39 percent), a traditional strength of Republicans."

"The poll also asked Americans which side of the partisan divide –President Obama or Congressional Republicans – was trying harder to reach bipartisan solutions to the nation’s economic crisis. By a margin of 42 percent to seven percent, Americans said they see Mr. Obama trying harder to reach out to Republicans than vice-versa. Twenty-six percent see both trying equally, and 18 percent think neither is trying at all."

Anonymous said...

Evan will love this - a classic specimen of conservative comedy from George Bush himself:

"I actually paid for a house last fall. I think I'm the only American to have bought a house in the fall of 2008," he quipped.

Anonymous said...

"...statistical noise."

The GOP is not even the second party any more.

LMAO...more like lies.

Democratic Lead in Party Identification at Highest Point
in 25 Years
Also Independents increase and now outnumber Republicans
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – March 3, 2009 – The Harris Poll ® has been tracking party
identification for 40 years. We do this by combining all the relevant national polls to
produce large samples and eliminate small survey-by-survey fluctuations. Our latest
numbers are based on 15,210 interviews conducted by telephone between January and
December 2008.
The results are bad news for the Republicans. The Democratic lead in party
identification has widened to ten percentage points, compared to five points in President
Bush’s first term in 2001, and three points in 2002.
This is the first time since 1984 that the Democrats have held a double digit lead (and
our latest data from two telephone surveys that are not included in these calculations
because they were conducted in 2009 show an 11 and 12-point lead).
More bad news for the Republicans is that, for the first time since 1983, there are more
Independents (31%) than Republicans (26%). This is the first time in 30 years (since
1979) that we have found so many Independents.
Other interesting findings from these surveys (since 1969) include:
• In the short term party identification has always been quite stable. It rarely
changes by more than a few percentage points from year to year.
• But over the longer term, changes have been substantial. Between 1973 and
1978 the Democratic lead in party identification was more than 20 points. In
1977, it reached 27 points.
• From 1977 onwards, the Democratic lead party identification fell to 11 points in
the 1980s, seven points in the 1990s and to three points in both 2002 and 2004.
• These Republican advances began to be reversed, with a six-point Democratic
lead in 2005 and a nine-point lead in 2006 and 2007. The latest data (for 2008
and 2009) show that this Democratic lead has widened a little more.

ytba said...

WOW! EXCELLENT NEW PRESENTATION!

I thought your first one was good, but you topped it.

YASHER KOACH!

You can tell how dangerous he is to the Left, from all the obscene intellectual runts trying to show him down, who are the same creeps that throw urine and feces in public.

ytba said...

DEMOCRATS, NOT BUSH, CAUSED THE FINANCIAL CRISIS

Anonymous said...

He is frightening, alright.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog, ytba...does it reflect the content of your pinhead?

See, how I'm attacking you?

That must mean you're, uh, like, rilly dangerous...or maybe it just means you're a grotesque, little piece of shit who makes a good target.

You decide.

Anonymous said...

AIG Tax Vote Exposes Hypocrisy of Eric Cantor and the House Republicans

March 20, 2009 11:30 AM ET

By John Aloysius Farrell

Yesterday's decision by Rep. Eric Cantor and 84 of his Republican Party colleagues to support a confiscatory tax on bonuses at bailed-out financial firms should give Rush Limbaugh and the party's titular leaders pause.

What do Republicans stand for?

I've always thought that, when you stripped away all the phony sermons about morality, at its absolute core the GOP was about freeing capitalists to rock and roll, unburdened by Washington regulators and oppressive taxation.

Think about it. It's pretty much the only reason to have Republicans at all. We have plenty of preachers, church ladies, moms and spouses to scold us. Why hire a Newt Gingrich or an Eric Cantor to tell us what's right and wrong if they are not going to make us rich?

But yesterday 85 Republicans took the plunge down a slippery slope.

It is now impossible for them to escape the question: If it is okay to micro-manage and soak wealthy Wall Street greedheads with a 90 percent tax after their bungling has caused a worldwide financial crisis, then what's the harm in regulating them before, and taxing them at a higher rate—say, 45 or 50 percent—when they are pulling in those gazillion-dollar bonuses in the good times?

And maybe prevent the kind of meltdown we're suffering through today?

And reduce the national debt, save Social Security or guarantee health care with their money?

Doesn't that make sense?

Not only did Cantor and the boys vote for a 90 percent tax, they pretty much trampled the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution along the way. The blatantly punitive tax was drawn just broad enough—maybe—to avoid the prohibition against bills of attainder.

Ninety percent! Granted, the Republicans are in a fix. They want Barack Obama to fail, don't have a coherent alternative to Obama-ism, and after messing things up so royally themselves, need a path back to popularity.

Populist outrage seems like a good, distracting bet. Maybe the public won't remember that it was George W. Bush and a Republican administration that okayed the AIG bailout in the first place, and sat idly by when the firm announced last November that it would be paying $469 million in "retention bonuses."

Poor Tim "Beaker" Geithner. He thought the public's silence at the time was acquiescence.

The Republicans can certainly choose to dump the economic libertarians and go-go capitalists in their ranks, and plot their comeback as down-home populists, with a coalition of affluent retirees, church-going Christians and die-hard Southerners.

But once you start telling the public that the saintly entrepreneurs need watching, aren't really risking anything (we are!) and are ripping off gobs of our money—well, Chris Dodd aside, you're sounding like a Democrat to me.

Anonymous said...

Obama Support Still Strong

By Dan Froomkin
9:47 AM ET, 03/17/2009

The new poll getting the most attention this morning is the one from the Pew Research Center, which shows President Obama's job approval rating down to 59 percent, from 64 percent in February.

But a look beneath the surface of that poll -- and at some other recent surveys -- suggests that the public is still solidly behind Obama and his overall agenda.

The complete report from Pew finds that: "In recent weeks, Obama has come under increasing criticism for trying to tackle too many issues in his first few months in office. A majority of Americans (56%) reject that criticism, saying he is doing about right, though 35% say he is trying to address too many issues at once. Most Republicans (53%) say that Obama has taken on too many issues, as do 36% of independents. Just 21% of Democrats agree....

"There is widespread support for some of Barack Obama’s key budget proposals -- particularly those dealing with changes in the tax structure. But opinion on other key proposals is more evenly divided.

"More than eight-in-ten (82%) of the public say it is the right thing for the government to reduce taxes for middle and lower income households compared with only 14% who say it is the wrong thing. A smaller majority (61%) supports raising taxes on people with incomes of $200,000 or more. Somewhat fewer (55%) has a positive opinion of limiting tax deductions upper income people can take for charitable contributions...

"The public is divided over whether Obama has proposed spending too much money or about the right amount to address the economic situation; 39% say he has proposed spending too much, 34% say about the right amount, while 13% say he has not proposed enough spending."

Interestingly, "somewhat fewer describe Obama himself as liberal than did so during the presidential campaign. Currently, 43% identify Obama’s ideology as either moderate (26%) or conservative (17%); about the same percentage says he is a liberal (44%). Last October, a few weeks before the election, a majority of the public (52%) identified Obama as a liberal."

One significant danger sign for Obama is that 48 percent of Americans say bailing out banks and financial institutions that made poor financial decisions makes them angry -- and another 39 percent said it bothers them.

None of this is redounding well to Obama's political opponents, by the way: "In fact, approval of Republican congressional leaders has fallen from 34% in February to 28% currently, the lowest rating for GOP leaders in nearly 14 years of Pew Research surveys."

CNN's latest poll finds Obama's numbers down, but not as much as Pew. Paul Steinhauser writes for CNN: "Obama's job approval rating stands at 64 percent in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday. That rating is down 3 percentage points from mid-February.

"When asked about the economy, 59 percent of respondents approve of how Obama's performing, with 40 percent disapproving.

"'Most of the Americans who disapprove of Obama are Republicans,' said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director. 'His approval rating is 59 percent among independents and over 90 percent among Democrats, but two-thirds of Republicans have a negative view of his actions in office so far.'...

"'There's a lot of good will toward President Obama in this poll. Americans overwhelmingly hope he will succeed. They believe he will succeed, and they support his economic recovery program. But we're seeing growing doubt about some details,' said Bill Schneider, a CNN senior political analyst....

"A big political question is whether this recession will become Obama's. The poll suggests that the president may have some time on his hands. If the economy does not improve over the next year, 54 percent said they'll still blame former President Bush and the Republicans for the mess, with 32 percent pinning the blame on Obama and the Democrats who control Congress."

And Gallup's Frank Newport offers some context: "President Barack Obama's job approval rating, at 61% in the latest three-day average of Gallup Poll Daily tracking, is slightly above where George W. Bush's and in particular Bill Clinton's were at this point in mid-March of the first years of their administrations.

"Gallup's mid-March job approval rating for Bush, measured March 9-11, 2001, was 58%, with 29% disapproval. Gallup's March 12-14, 1993, approval rating for Clinton was 53%, with 34% disapproval. Both of these approval ratings are lower than Obama's current 61%. Bush's disapproval rating in mid-March 2001 was about the same as Obama's is now (28%), while Clinton's disapproval rating was significantly higher.

"These comparisons suggest that President Obama is holding his own compared to the two presidents who came before him, despite some decline in his approval rating since his inauguration on Jan. 20."

Looking at graphics from Pollingreport.com and 538.com, what becomes clear is that Obama's approval ratings haven't really declined that much -- it's his disapproval numbers that have gone up sharply. Call it the Limbaugh effect.

UPDATE: CBS News reports: "Despite the many economic problems facing the country now, President Obama’s job approval rating remains unchanged, at 62%, and a growing number of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction." The CBS poll actually finds that more Democrats and independents approve of Obama now than did when he took office. Fewer Republicans do, however, making it a wash.

Anonymous said...

AIG could start a trend in failure
By Victor Kamber
March 20, 2009

We all should have Ed Liddy's problems.

Ed's the chief executive officer of American International Group, the insurance giant and this week's "bailoutrage." Though AIG is being kept afloat by almost $180 billion in taxpayer dollars, Ed has one big worry that keeps him awake nights: How to retain AIG staff through all this turmoil. These are people whose derivative trading skills nearly sank the company and the global economy.

The answer: bonuses. Big bonuses. Tens of millions of dollars' worth of bonuses. By rewarding failure, AIG could start a whole new trend.



What about some of those Southern governors such as Texas' Rick Perry and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who are staving off efforts by the federal government to ease the suffering of their unemployed workers? While the jobless worry about having food on the table and a roof over the heads of their families, Perry and Jindal focus laserlike on a possible burden on business if their states accept money to provide extended unemployment benefits.

And we can't forget the recent rants against earmarks. There should be bonuses for congressional Republicans who claim they tried to save taxpayers billions of dollars. When the smoke had cleared after the $410 billion spending bill debate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his fellow Republicans "tried to cut the bill's cost" but their ideas were ignored. Never mind that six of the top 10 Senate earmark porkers are Republicans—McConnell had 53 earmarks costing $73 million.

And doesn't former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (remember him?) deserve a bonus for saving the state a costly special election by naming Roland Burris to Barack Obama's Senate seat?

Whitehouse Softball? said...

Maddow: Eight go from White House to 'big house'
03/19/2009 @ 8:40 am
Filed by David Edwards and Rachel Oswald

Advertisement
Do you know how many former Bush administration officials have been sentenced with jail time? The answer is a whopping eight, as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow pointed out Wednesday night.

Most recently there was Felipe Sixto, who served as special assistant to President Bush for intergovernmental affairs. He recently pled guilty to embezzling $600,000 from the Center for a Free Cuba, a government-funded program and received a 30-month prison sentence. Sixto left his job with the Bush administration when he learned that he was being investigated for embezzlement.

"That 'oops, I‘d better quit my job in the administration before I report to prison' phenomenon, that happened kind of a lot in the Bush administration," Maddow noted, going on to list in a brief segment titled 'White House to the Big House,' the seven other Bush officials who have received various jail sentences, most often on corruption charges.

*Most famously, there was former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff, Scooter Libby. He was sentenced to 30 months, though President Bush quickly commuted the sentence, for his role in the leaking and subsequent coverup of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to the press.

*David Safavian, chief-of-staff of the General Services Administration and the head procurement official of the federal government went to prison for 18 months on charges related to the Jack Abramoff lobbyist scandal.

*For obstructing the Senate investigation into Abramoff and for tax evasion, Italia Federici, a political aide to then Secretary of the Interior, Gail Norton, received a two month sentence in a halfway house.

*Fedrici's boyfriend, Steven Griles, who was the number two official at the Interior Department, also received 10 months in jail for his part in the Abramoff scandal.

*Bob Stein, the comptroller of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, received the longest sentence of any Bush official (as of yet) - nine years in prison for money laundering, conspiracy and bribery.

*Brian Doyle, a deputy press secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, was sentenced to five years in jail for attempting to use a computer to seduce a child.

*Former executive director of the CIA, Dusty Fago, received a three year prison sentence on corruption charges.

"[That] brings the total number of Bush administration officials who have gone to jail already to at least eight," Maddow said. "That is not counting all the other convictions that didn‘t result in jail time, all the other investigations. That is just the lucky Bushies who made it all the way to the crowbar hotel."

She joked, "They could like have a prison softball team at this point."

Anonymous said...

You're a fucking moron. Kill yourself.

deadheads 4 dumb democrats said...

The Geithner plan has now been leaked in detail. It’s exactly the plan that was widely analyzed — and found wanting — a couple of weeks ago. The zombie ideas have won.

The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system — that what we’re facing is the equivalent of a run on an essentially sound bank. As Tim Duy put it, there are no bad assets, only misunderstood assets. And if we get investors to understand that toxic waste is really, truly worth much more than anyone is willing to pay for it, all our problems will be solved.

To this end the plan proposes to create funds in which private investors put in a small amount of their own money, and in return get large, non-recourse loans from the taxpayer, with which to buy bad — I mean misunderstood — assets. This is supposed to lead to fair prices because the funds will engage in competitive bidding.

But it’s immediately obvious, if you think about it, that these funds will have skewed incentives. In effect, Treasury will be creating — deliberately! — the functional equivalent of Texas S&Ls in the 1980s: financial operations with very little capital but lots of government-guaranteed liabilities. For the private investors, this is an open invitation to play heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose. So sure, these investors will be ready to pay high prices for toxic waste. After all, the stuff might be worth something; and if it isn’t, that’s someone else’s problem.

Or to put it another way, Treasury has decided that what we have is nothing but a confidence problem, which it proposes to cure by creating massive moral hazard.

This plan will produce big gains for banks that didn’t actually need any help; it will, however, do little to reassure the public about banks that are seriously undercapitalized. And I fear that when the plan fails, as it almost surely will, the administration will have shot its bolt: it won’t be able to come back to Congress for a plan that might actually work.

What an awful mess.

Anonymous said...

The Big Takeover
The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution
MATT TAIBBI


It's over — we're officially, royally fucked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG's 2008 losses).

So it's time to admit it: We're fools, protagonists in a kind of gruesome comedy about the marriage of greed and stupidity. And the worst part about it is that we're still in denial — we still think this is some kind of unfortunate accident, not something that was created by the group of psychopaths on Wall Street whom we allowed to gang-rape the American Dream. When Geithner announced the new $30 billion bailout, the party line was that poor AIG was just a victim of a lot of shitty luck — bad year for business, you know, what with the financial crisis and all. Edward Liddy, the company's CEO, actually compared it to catching a cold: "The marketplace is a pretty crummy place to be right now," he said. "When the world catches pneumonia, we get it too." In a pathetic attempt at name-dropping, he even whined that AIG was being "consumed by the same issues that are driving house prices down and 401K statements down and Warren Buffet's investment portfolio down."

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Liddy made AIG sound like an orphan begging in a soup line, hungry and sick from being left out in someone else's financial weather. He conveniently forgot to mention that AIG had spent more than a decade systematically scheming to evade U.S. and international regulators, or that one of the causes of its "pneumonia" was making colossal, world-sinking $500 billion bets with money it didn't have, in a toxic and completely unregulated derivatives market.

Nor did anyone mention that when AIG finally got up from its seat at the Wall Street casino, broke and busted in the afterdawn light, it owed money all over town — and that a huge chunk of your taxpayer dollars in this particular bailout scam will be going to pay off the other high rollers at its table. Or that this was a casino unique among all casinos, one where middle-class taxpayers cover the bets of billionaires.

People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.

The crisis was the coup de grâce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve — "our partners in the government," as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.

The mistake most people make in looking at the financial crisis is thinking of it in terms of money, a habit that might lead you to look at the unfolding mess as a huge bonus-killing downer for the Wall Street class. But if you look at it in purely Machiavellian terms, what you see is a colossal power grab that threatens to turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — a huge, impenetrable black box filled with self-dealing insiders whose scheme is the securing of individual profits at the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders, previously known as taxpayers.

I. PATIENT ZERO

The best way to understand the financial crisis is to understand the meltdown at AIG. AIG is what happens when short, bald managers of otherwise boring financial bureaucracies start seeing Brad Pitt in the mirror. This is a company that built a giant fortune across more than a century by betting on safety-conscious policyholders — people who wear seat belts and build houses on high ground — and then blew it all in a year or two by turning their entire balance sheet over to a guy who acted like making huge bets with other people's money would make his dick bigger.

That guy — the Patient Zero of the global economic meltdown — was one Joseph Cassano, the head of a tiny, 400-person unit within the company called AIG Financial Products, or AIGFP. Cassano, a pudgy, balding Brooklyn College grad with beady eyes and way too much forehead, cut his teeth in the Eighties working for Mike Milken, the granddaddy of modern Wall Street debt alchemists. Milken, who pioneered the creative use of junk bonds, relied on messianic genius and a whole array of insider schemes to evade detection while wreaking financial disaster. Cassano, by contrast, was just a greedy little turd with a knack for selective accounting who ran his scam right out in the open, thanks to Washington's deregulation of the Wall Street casino. "It's all about the regulatory environment," says a government source involved with the AIG bailout. "These guys look for holes in the system, for ways they can do trades without government interference. Whatever is unregulated, all the action is going to pile into that."

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The mess Cassano created had its roots in an investment boom fueled in part by a relatively new type of financial instrument called a collateralized-debt obligation. A CDO is like a box full of diced-up assets. They can be anything: mortgages, corporate loans, aircraft loans, credit-card loans, even other CDOs. So as X mortgage holder pays his bill, and Y corporate debtor pays his bill, and Z credit-card debtor pays his bill, money flows into the box.

The key idea behind a CDO is that there will always be at least some money in the box, regardless of how dicey the individual assets inside it are. No matter how you look at a single unemployed ex-con trying to pay the note on a six-bedroom house, he looks like a bad investment. But dump his loan in a box with a smorgasbord of auto loans, credit-card debt, corporate bonds and other crap, and you can be reasonably sure that somebody is going to pay up. Say $100 is supposed to come into the box every month. Even in an apocalypse, when $90 in payments might default, you'll still get $10. What the inventors of the CDO did is divide up the box into groups of investors and put that $10 into its own level, or "tranche." They then convinced ratings agencies like Moody's and S&P to give that top tranche the highest AAA rating — meaning it has close to zero credit risk.

Suddenly, thanks to this financial seal of approval, banks had a way to turn their shittiest mortgages and other financial waste into investment-grade paper and sell them to institutional investors like pensions and insurance companies, which were forced by regulators to keep their portfolios as safe as possible. Because CDOs offered higher rates of return than truly safe products like Treasury bills, it was a win-win: Banks made a fortune selling CDOs, and big investors made much more holding them.

The problem was, none of this was based on reality. "The banks knew they were selling crap," says a London-based trader from one of the bailed-out companies. To get AAA ratings, the CDOs relied not on their actual underlying assets but on crazy mathematical formulas that the banks cooked up to make the investments look safer than they really were. "They had some back room somewhere where a bunch of Indian guys who'd been doing nothing but math for God knows how many years would come up with some kind of model saying that this or that combination of debtors would only default once every 10,000 years," says one young trader who sold CDOs for a major investment bank. "It was nuts."

Now that even the crappiest mortgages could be sold to conservative investors, the CDOs spurred a massive explosion of irresponsible and predatory lending. In fact, there was such a crush to underwrite CDOs that it became hard to find enough subprime mortgages — read: enough unemployed meth dealers willing to buy million-dollar homes for no money down — to fill them all. As banks and investors of all kinds took on more and more in CDOs and similar instruments, they needed some way to hedge their massive bets — some kind of insurance policy, in case the housing bubble burst and all that debt went south at the same time. This was particularly true for investment banks, many of which got stuck holding or "warehousing" CDOs when they wrote more than they could sell. And that's were Joe Cassano came in.

Known for his boldness and arrogance, Cassano took over as chief of AIGFP in 2001. He was the favorite of Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the head of AIG, who admired the younger man's hard-driving ways, even if neither he nor his successors fully understood exactly what it was that Cassano did. According to a source familiar with AIG's internal operations, Cassano basically told senior management, "You know insurance, I know investments, so you do what you do, and I'll do what I do — leave me alone." Given a free hand within the company, Cassano set out from his offices in London to sell a lucrative form of "insurance" to all those investors holding lots of CDOs. His tool of choice was another new financial instrument known as a credit-default swap, or CDS.

The CDS was popularized by J.P. Morgan, in particular by a group of young, creative bankers who would later become known as the "Morgan Mafia," as many of them would go on to assume influential positions in the finance world. In 1994, in between booze and games of tennis at a resort in Boca Raton, Florida, the Morgan gang plotted a way to help boost the bank's returns. One of their goals was to find a way to lend more money, while working around regulations that required them to keep a set amount of cash in reserve to back those loans. What they came up with was an early version of the credit-default swap.

In its simplest form, a CDS is just a bet on an outcome. Say Bank A writes a million-dollar mortgage to the Pope for a town house in the West Village. Bank A wants to hedge its mortgage risk in case the Pope can't make his monthly payments, so it buys CDS protection from Bank B, wherein it agrees to pay Bank B a premium of $1,000 a month for five years. In return, Bank B agrees to pay Bank A the full million-dollar value of the Pope's mortgage if he defaults. In theory, Bank A is covered if the Pope goes on a meth binge and loses his job.

When Morgan presented their plans for credit swaps to regulators in the late Nineties, they argued that if they bought CDS protection for enough of the investments in their portfolio, they had effectively moved the risk off their books. Therefore, they argued, they should be allowed to lend more, without keeping more cash in reserve. A whole host of regulators — from the Federal Reserve to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — accepted the argument, and Morgan was allowed to put more money on the street.

What Cassano did was to transform the credit swaps that Morgan popularized into the world's largest bet on the housing boom. In theory, at least, there's nothing wrong with buying a CDS to insure your investments. Investors paid a premium to AIGFP, and in return the company promised to pick up the tab if the mortgage-backed CDOs went bust. But as Cassano went on a selling spree, the deals he made differed from traditional insurance in several significant ways. First, the party selling CDS protection didn't have to post any money upfront. When a $100 corporate bond is sold, for example, someone has to show 100 actual dollars. But when you sell a $100 CDS guarantee, you don't have to show a dime. So Cassano could sell investment banks billions in guarantees without having any single asset to back it up.

Secondly, Cassano was selling so-called "naked" CDS deals. In a "naked" CDS, neither party actually holds the underlying loan. In other words, Bank B not only sells CDS protection to Bank A for its mortgage on the Pope — it turns around and sells protection to Bank C for the very same mortgage. This could go on ad nauseam: You could have Banks D through Z also betting on Bank A's mortgage. Unlike traditional insurance, Cassano was offering investors an opportunity to bet that someone else's house would burn down, or take out a term life policy on the guy with AIDS down the street. It was no different from gambling, the Wall Street version of a bunch of frat brothers betting on Jay Feely to make a field goal. Cassano was taking book for every bank that bet short on the housing market, but he didn't have the cash to pay off if the kick went wide.

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In a span of only seven years, Cassano sold some $500 billion worth of CDS protection, with at least $64 billion of that tied to the subprime mortgage market. AIG didn't have even a fraction of that amount of cash on hand to cover its bets, but neither did it expect it would ever need any reserves. So long as defaults on the underlying securities remained a highly unlikely proposition, AIG was essentially collecting huge and steadily climbing premiums by selling insurance for the disaster it thought would never come.

Initially, at least, the revenues were enormous: AIGFP's returns went from $737 million in 1999 to $3.2 billion in 2005. Over the past seven years, the subsidiary's 400 employees were paid a total of $3.5 billion; Cassano himself pocketed at least $280 million in compensation. Everyone made their money — and then it all went to shit.

II. THE REGULATORS

Cassano's outrageous gamble wouldn't have been possible had he not had the good fortune to take over AIGFP just as Sen. Phil Gramm — a grinning, laissez-faire ideologue from Texas — had finished engineering the most dramatic deregulation of the financial industry since Emperor Hien Tsung invented paper money in 806 A.D. For years, Washington had kept a watchful eye on the nation's banks. Ever since the Great Depression, commercial banks — those that kept money on deposit for individuals and businesses — had not been allowed to double as investment banks, which raise money by issuing and selling securities. The Glass-Steagall Act, passed during the Depression, also prevented banks of any kind from getting into the insurance business.

But in the late Nineties, a few years before Cassano took over AIGFP, all that changed. The Democrats, tired of getting slaughtered in the fundraising arena by Republicans, decided to throw off their old reliance on unions and interest groups and become more "business-friendly." Wall Street responded by flooding Washington with money, buying allies in both parties. In the 10-year period beginning in 1998, financial companies spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. They quickly got what they paid for. In 1999, Gramm co-sponsored a bill that repealed key aspects of the Glass-Steagall Act, smoothing the way for the creation of financial megafirms like Citigroup. The move did away with the built-in protections afforded by smaller banks. In the old days, a local banker knew the people whose loans were on his balance sheet: He wasn't going to give a million-dollar mortgage to a homeless meth addict, since he would have to keep that loan on his books. But a giant merged bank might write that loan and then sell it off to some fool in China, and who cared?

The very next year, Gramm compounded the problem by writing a sweeping new law called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that made it impossible to regulate credit swaps as either gambling or securities. Commercial banks — which, thanks to Gramm, were now competing directly with investment banks for customers — were driven to buy credit swaps to loosen capital in search of higher yields. "By ruling that credit-default swaps were not gaming and not a security, the way was cleared for the growth of the market," said Eric Dinallo, head of the New York State Insurance Department.

The blanket exemption meant that Joe Cassano could now sell as many CDS contracts as he wanted, building up as huge a position as he wanted, without anyone in government saying a word. "You have to remember, investment banks aren't in the business of making huge directional bets," says the government source involved in the AIG bailout. When investment banks write CDS deals, they hedge them. But insurance companies don't have to hedge. And that's what AIG did. "They just bet massively long on the housing market," says the source. "Billions and billions."

In the biggest joke of all, Cassano's wheeling and dealing was regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision, an agency that would prove to be defiantly uninterested in keeping watch over his operations. How a behemoth like AIG came to be regulated by the little-known and relatively small OTS is yet another triumph of the deregulatory instinct. Under another law passed in 1999, certain kinds of holding companies could choose the OTS as their regulator, provided they owned one or more thrifts (better known as savings-and-loans). Because the OTS was viewed as more compliant than the Fed or the Securities and Exchange Commission, companies rushed to reclassify themselves as thrifts. In 1999, AIG purchased a thrift in Delaware and managed to get approval for OTS regulation of its entire operation.

Making matters even more hilarious, AIGFP — a London-based subsidiary of an American insurance company — ought to have been regulated by one of Europe's more stringent regulators, like Britain's Financial Services Authority. But the OTS managed to convince the Europeans that it had the muscle to regulate these giant companies. By 2007, the EU had conferred legitimacy to OTS supervision of three mammoth firms — GE, AIG and Ameriprise.

That same year, as the subprime crisis was exploding, the Government Accountability Office criticized the OTS, noting a "disparity between the size of the agency and the diverse firms it oversees." Among other things, the GAO report noted that the entire OTS had only one insurance specialist on staff — and this despite the fact that it was the primary regulator for the world's largest insurer!

"There's this notion that the regulators couldn't do anything to stop AIG," says a government official who was present during the bailout. "That's bullshit. What you have to understand is that these regulators have ultimate power. They can send you a letter and say, 'You don't exist anymore,' and that's basically that. They don't even really need due process. The OTS could have said, 'We're going to pull your charter; we're going to pull your license; we're going to sue you.' And getting sued by your primary regulator is the kiss of death."

When AIG finally blew up, the OTS regulator ostensibly in charge of overseeing the insurance giant — a guy named C.K. Lee — basically admitted that he had blown it. His mistake, Lee said, was that he believed all those credit swaps in Cassano's portfolio were "fairly benign products." Why? Because the company told him so. "The judgment the company was making was that there was no big credit risk," he explained. (Lee now works as Midwest region director of the OTS; the agency declined to make him available for an interview.)

In early March, after the latest bailout of AIG, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took what seemed to be a thinly veiled shot at the OTS, calling AIG a "huge, complex global insurance company attached to a very complicated investment bank/hedge fund that was allowed to build up without any adult supervision." But even without that "adult supervision," AIG might have been OK had it not been for a complete lack of internal controls. For six months before its meltdown, according to insiders, the company had been searching for a full-time chief financial officer and a chief risk-assessment officer, but never got around to hiring either. That meant that the 18th-largest company in the world had no one checking to make sure its balance sheet was safe and no one keeping track of how much cash and assets the firm had on hand. The situation was so bad that when outside consultants were called in a few weeks before the bailout, senior executives were unable to answer even the most basic questions about their company — like, for instance, how much exposure the firm had to the residential-mortgage market.

III. THE CRASH

Ironically, when reality finally caught up to Cassano, it wasn't because the housing market crapped but because of AIG itself. Before 2005, the company's debt was rated triple-A, meaning he didn't need to post much cash to sell CDS protection: The solid creditworthiness of AIG's name was guarantee enough. But the company's crummy accounting practices eventually caused its credit rating to be downgraded, triggering clauses in the CDS contracts that forced Cassano to post substantially more collateral to back his deals.

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By the fall of 2007, it was evident that AIGFP's portfolio had turned poisonous, but like every good Wall Street huckster, Cassano schemed to keep his insane, Earth-swallowing gamble hidden from public view. That August, balls bulging, he announced to investors on a conference call that "it is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing $1 in any of those transactions." As he spoke, his CDS portfolio was racking up $352 million in losses. When the growing credit crunch prompted senior AIG executives to re-examine its liabilities, a company accountant named Joseph St. Denis became "gravely concerned" about the CDS deals and their potential for mass destruction. Cassano responded by personally forcing the poor sap out of the firm, telling him he was "deliberately excluded" from the financial review for fear that he might "pollute the process."

The following February, when AIG posted $11.5 billion in annual losses, it announced the resignation of Cassano as head of AIGFP, saying an auditor had found a "material weakness" in the CDS portfolio. But amazingly, the company not only allowed Cassano to keep $34 million in bonuses, it kept him on as a consultant for $1 million a month. In fact, Cassano remained on the payroll and kept collecting his monthly million through the end of September 2008, even after taxpayers had been forced to hand AIG $85 billion to patch up his fuck-ups. When asked in October why the company still retained Cassano at his $1 million-a-month rate despite his role in the probable downfall of Western civilization, CEO Martin Sullivan told Congress with a straight face that AIG wanted to "retain the 20-year knowledge that Mr. Cassano had." (Cassano, who is apparently hiding out in his lavish town house near Harrods in London, could not be reached for comment.)

What sank AIG in the end was another credit downgrade. Cassano had written so many CDS deals that when the company was facing another downgrade to its credit rating last September, from AA to A, it needed to post billions in collateral — not only more cash than it had on its balance sheet but more cash than it could raise even if it sold off every single one of its liquid assets. Even so, management dithered for days, not believing the company was in serious trouble. AIG was a dried-up prune, sapped of any real value, and its top executives didn't even know it.

On the weekend of September 13th, AIG's senior leaders were summoned to the offices of the New York Federal Reserve. Regulators from Dinallo's insurance office were there, as was Geithner, then chief of the New York Fed. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who spent most of the weekend preoccupied with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, came in and out. Also present, for reasons that would emerge later, was Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs. The only relevant government office that wasn't represented was the regulator that should have been there all along: the OTS.

"We sat down with Paulson, Geithner and Dinallo," says a person present at the negotiations. "I didn't see the OTS even once."

On September 14th, according to another person present, Treasury officials presented Blankfein and other bankers in attendance with an absurd proposal: "They basically asked them to spend a day and check to see if they could raise the money privately." The laughably short time span to complete the mammoth task made the answer a foregone conclusion. At the end of the day, the bankers came back and told the government officials, gee, we checked, but we can't raise that much. And the bailout was on.

A short time later, it came out that AIG was planning to pay some $90 million in deferred compensation to former executives, and to accelerate the payout of $277 million in bonuses to others — a move the company insisted was necessary to "retain key employees." When Congress balked, AIG canceled the $90 million in payments.

Then, in January 2009, the company did it again. After all those years letting Cassano run wild, and after already getting caught paying out insane bonuses while on the public till, AIG decided to pay out another $450 million in bonuses. And to whom? To the 400 or so employees in Cassano's old unit, AIGFP, which is due to go out of business shortly! Yes, that's right, an average of $1.1 million in taxpayer-backed money apiece, to the very people who spent the past decade or so punching a hole in the fabric of the universe!

"We, uh, needed to keep these highly expert people in their seats," AIG spokeswoman Christina Pretto says to me in early February.

"But didn't these 'highly expert people' basically destroy your company?" I ask.

Pretto protests, says this isn't fair. The employees at AIGFP have already taken pay cuts, she says. Not retaining them would dilute the value of the company even further, make it harder to wrap up the unit's operations in an orderly fashion.

The bonuses are a nice comic touch highlighting one of the more outrageous tangents of the bailout age, namely the fact that, even with the planet in flames, some members of the Wall Street class can't even get used to the tragedy of having to fly coach. "These people need their trips to Baja, their spa treatments, their hand jobs," says an official involved in the AIG bailout, a serious look on his face, apparently not even half-kidding. "They don't function well without them."

IV. THE POWER GRAB

So that's the first step in wall street's power grab: making up things like credit-default swaps and collateralized-debt obligations, financial products so complex and inscrutable that ordinary American dumb people — to say nothing of federal regulators and even the CEOs of major corporations like AIG — are too intimidated to even try to understand them. That, combined with wise political investments, enabled the nation's top bankers to effectively scrap any meaningful oversight of the financial industry. In 1997 and 1998, the years leading up to the passage of Phil Gramm's fateful act that gutted Glass-Steagall, the banking, brokerage and insurance industries spent $350 million on political contributions and lobbying. Gramm alone — then the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee — collected $2.6 million in only five years. The law passed 90-8 in the Senate, with the support of 38 Democrats, including some names that might surprise you: Joe Biden, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, Dick Durbin, even John Edwards.


The act helped create the too-big-to-fail financial behemoths like Citigroup, AIG and Bank of America — and in turn helped those companies slowly crush their smaller competitors, leaving the major Wall Street firms with even more money and power to lobby for further deregulatory measures. "We're moving to an oligopolistic situation," Kenneth Guenther, a top executive with the Independent Community Bankers of America, lamented after the Gramm measure was passed.

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The situation worsened in 2004, in an extraordinary move toward deregulation that never even got to a vote. At the time, the European Union was threatening to more strictly regulate the foreign operations of America's big investment banks if the U.S. didn't strengthen its own oversight. So the top five investment banks got together on April 28th of that year and — with the helpful assistance of then-Goldman Sachs chief and future Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson — made a pitch to George Bush's SEC chief at the time, William Donaldson, himself a former investment banker. The banks generously volunteered to submit to new rules restricting them from engaging in excessively risky activity. In exchange, they asked to be released from any lending restrictions. The discussion about the new rules lasted just 55 minutes, and there was not a single representative of a major media outlet there to record the fateful decision.

Donaldson OK'd the proposal, and the new rules were enough to get the EU to drop its threat to regulate the five firms. The only catch was, neither Donaldson nor his successor, Christopher Cox, actually did any regulating of the banks. They named a commission of seven people to oversee the five companies, whose combined assets came to total more than $4 trillion. But in the last year and a half of Cox's tenure, the group had no director and did not complete a single inspection. Great deal for the banks, which originally complained about being regulated by both Europe and the SEC, and ended up being regulated by no one.

Once the capital requirements were gone, those top five banks went hog-wild, jumping ass-first into the then-raging housing bubble. One of those was Bear Stearns, which used its freedom to drown itself in bad mortgage loans. In the short period between the 2004 change and Bear's collapse, the firm's debt-to-equity ratio soared from 12-1 to an insane 33-1. Another culprit was Goldman Sachs, which also had the good fortune, around then, to see its CEO, a bald-headed Frankensteinian goon named Hank Paulson (who received an estimated $200 million tax deferral by joining the government), ascend to Treasury secretary.

Freed from all capital restraints, sitting pretty with its man running the Treasury, Goldman jumped into the housing craze just like everyone else on Wall Street. Although it famously scored an $11 billion coup in 2007 when one of its trading units smartly shorted the housing market, the move didn't tell the whole story. In truth, Goldman still had a huge exposure come that fateful summer of 2008 — to none other than Joe Cassano.

Goldman Sachs, it turns out, was Cassano's biggest customer, with $20 billion of exposure in Cassano's CDS book. Which might explain why Goldman chief Lloyd Blankfein was in the room with ex-Goldmanite Hank Paulson that weekend of September 13th, when the federal government was supposedly bailing out AIG.

When asked why Blankfein was there, one of the government officials who was in the meeting shrugs. "One might say that it's because Goldman had so much exposure to AIGFP's portfolio," he says. "You'll never prove that, but one might suppose."

Market analyst Eric Salzman is more blunt. "If AIG went down," he says, "there was a good chance Goldman would not be able to collect." The AIG bailout, in effect, was Goldman bailing out Goldman.

Eventually, Paulson went a step further, elevating another ex-Goldmanite named Edward Liddy to run AIG — a company whose bailout money would be coming, in part, from the newly created TARP program, administered by another Goldman banker named Neel Kashkari.

V. REPO MEN

There are plenty of people who have noticed, in recent years, that when they lost their homes to foreclosure or were forced into bankruptcy because of crippling credit-card debt, no one in the government was there to rescue them. But when Goldman Sachs — a company whose average employee still made more than $350,000 last year, even in the midst of a depression — was suddenly faced with the possibility of losing money on the unregulated insurance deals it bought for its insane housing bets, the government was there in an instant to patch the hole. That's the essence of the bailout: rich bankers bailing out rich bankers, using the taxpayers' credit card.

The people who have spent their lives cloistered in this Wall Street community aren't much for sharing information with the great unwashed. Because all of this shit is complicated, because most of us mortals don't know what the hell LIBOR is or how a REIT works or how to use the word "zero coupon bond" in a sentence without sounding stupid — well, then, the people who do speak this idiotic language cannot under any circumstances be bothered to explain it to us and instead spend a lot of time rolling their eyes and asking us to trust them.

That roll of the eyes is a key part of the psychology of Paulsonism. The state is now being asked not just to call off its regulators or give tax breaks or funnel a few contracts to connected companies; it is intervening directly in the economy, for the sole purpose of preserving the influence of the megafirms. In essence, Paulson used the bailout to transform the government into a giant bureaucracy of entitled assholedom, one that would socialize "toxic" risks but keep both the profits and the management of the bailed-out firms in private hands. Moreover, this whole process would be done in secret, away from the prying eyes of NASCAR dads, broke-ass liberals who read translations of French novels, subprime mortgage holders and other such financial losers.

Some aspects of the bailout were secretive to the point of absurdity. In fact, if you look closely at just a few lines in the Federal Reserve's weekly public disclosures, you can literally see the moment where a big chunk of your money disappeared for good. The H4 report (called "Factors Affecting Reserve Balances") summarizes the activities of the Fed each week. You can find it online, and it's pretty much the only thing the Fed ever tells the world about what it does. For the week ending February 18th, the number under the heading "Repurchase Agreements" on the table is zero. It's a significant number.

Why? In the pre-crisis days, the Fed used to manage the money supply by periodically buying and selling securities on the open market through so-called Repurchase Agreements, or Repos. The Fed would typically dump $25 billion or so in cash onto the market every week, buying up Treasury bills, U.S. securities and even mortgage-backed securities from institutions like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, who would then "repurchase" them in a short period of time, usually one to seven days. This was the Fed's primary mechanism for controlling interest rates: Buying up securities gives banks more money to lend, which makes interest rates go down. Selling the securities back to the banks reduces the money available for lending, which makes interest rates go up.

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If you look at the weekly H4 reports going back to the summer of 2007, you start to notice something alarming. At the start of the credit crunch, around August of that year, you see the Fed buying a few more Repos than usual — $33 billion or so. By November, as private-bank reserves were dwindling to alarmingly low levels, the Fed started injecting even more cash than usual into the economy: $48 billion. By late December, the number was up to $58 billion; by the following March, around the time of the Bear Stearns rescue, the Repo number had jumped to $77 billion. In the week of May 1st, 2008, the number was $115 billion — "out of control now," according to one congressional aide. For the rest of 2008, the numbers remained similarly in the stratosphere, the Fed pumping as much as $125 billion of these short-term loans into the economy — until suddenly, at the start of this year, the number drops to nothing. Zero.

The reason the number has dropped to nothing is that the Fed had simply stopped using relatively transparent devices like repurchase agreements to pump its money into the hands of private companies. By early 2009, a whole series of new government operations had been invented to inject cash into the economy, most all of them completely secretive and with names you've never heard of. There is the Term Auction Facility, the Term Securities Lending Facility, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Commercial Paper Funding Facility and a monster called the Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (boasting the chat-room horror-show acronym ABCPMMMFLF). For good measure, there's also something called a Money Market Investor Funding Facility, plus three facilities called Maiden Lane I, II and III to aid bailout recipients like Bear Stearns and AIG.

While the rest of America, and most of Congress, have been bugging out about the $700 billion bailout program called TARP, all of these newly created organisms in the Federal Reserve zoo have quietly been pumping not billions but trillions of dollars into the hands of private companies (at least $3 trillion so far in loans, with as much as $5.7 trillion more in guarantees of private investments). Although this technically isn't taxpayer money, it still affects taxpayers directly, because the activities of the Fed impact the economy as a whole. And this new, secretive activity by the Fed completely eclipses the TARP program in terms of its influence on the economy.

No one knows who's getting that money or exactly how much of it is disappearing through these new holes in the hull of America's credit rating. Moreover, no one can really be sure if these new institutions are even temporary at all — or whether they are being set up as permanent, state-aided crutches to Wall Street, designed to systematically suck bad investments off the ledgers of irresponsible lenders.

"They're supposed to be temporary," says Paul-Martin Foss, an aide to Rep. Ron Paul. "But we keep getting notices every six months or so that they're being renewed. They just sort of quietly announce it."

None other than disgraced senator Ted Stevens was the poor sap who made the unpleasant discovery that if Congress didn't like the Fed handing trillions of dollars to banks without any oversight, Congress could apparently go fuck itself — or so said the law. When Stevens asked the GAO about what authority Congress has to monitor the Fed, he got back a letter citing an obscure statute that nobody had ever heard of before: the Accounting and Auditing Act of 1950. The relevant section, 31 USC 714(b), dictated that congressional audits of the Federal Reserve may not include "deliberations, decisions and actions on monetary policy matters." The exemption, as Foss notes, "basically includes everything." According to the law, in other words, the Fed simply cannot be audited by Congress. Or by anyone else, for that matter.

VI. WINNERS AND LOSERS

Stevens isn't the only person in Congress to be given the finger by the Fed. In January, when Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida asked Federal Reserve vice chairman Donald Kohn where all the money went — only $1.2 trillion had vanished by then — Kohn gave Grayson a classic eye roll, saying he would be "very hesitant" to name names because it might discourage banks from taking the money.

"Has that ever happened?" Grayson asked. "Have people ever said, 'We will not take your $100 billion because people will find out about it?'"

"Well, we said we would not publish the names of the borrowers, so we have no test of that," Kohn answered, visibly annoyed with Grayson's meddling.

Grayson pressed on, demanding to know on what terms the Fed was lending the money. Presumably it was buying assets and making loans, but no one knew how it was pricing those assets — in other words, no one knew what kind of deal it was striking on behalf of taxpayers. So when Grayson asked if the purchased assets were "marked to market" — a methodology that assigns a concrete value to assets, based on the market rate on the day they are traded — Kohn answered, mysteriously, "The ones that have market values are marked to market." The implication was that the Fed was purchasing derivatives like credit swaps or other instruments that were basically impossible to value objectively — paying real money for God knows what.

"Well, how much of them don't have market values?" asked Grayson. "How much of them are worthless?"

"None are worthless," Kohn snapped.

"Then why don't you mark them to market?" Grayson demanded.

"Well," Kohn sighed, "we are marking the ones to market that have market values."

In essence, the Fed was telling Congress to lay off and let the experts handle things. "It's like buying a car in a used-car lot without opening the hood, and saying, 'I think it's fine,'" says Dan Fuss, an analyst with the investment firm Loomis Sayles. "The salesman says, 'Don't worry about it. Trust me.' It'll probably get us out of the lot, but how much farther? None of us knows."

When one considers the comparatively extensive system of congressional checks and balances that goes into the spending of every dollar in the budget via the normal appropriations process, what's happening in the Fed amounts to something truly revolutionary — a kind of shadow government with a budget many times the size of the normal federal outlay, administered dictatorially by one man, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. "We spend hours and hours and hours arguing over $10 million amendments on the floor of the Senate, but there has been no discussion about who has been receiving this $3 trillion," says Sen. Bernie Sanders. "It is beyond comprehension."

Count Sanders among those who don't buy the argument that Wall Street firms shouldn't have to face being outed as recipients of public funds, that making this information public might cause investors to panic and dump their holdings in these firms. "I guess if we made that public, they'd go on strike or something," he muses.

And the Fed isn't the only arm of the bailout that has closed ranks. The Treasury, too, has maintained incredible secrecy surrounding its implementation even of the TARP program, which was mandated by Congress. To this date, no one knows exactly what criteria the Treasury Department used to determine which banks received bailout funds and which didn't — particularly the first $350 billion given out under Bush appointee Hank Paulson.

The situation with the first TARP payments grew so absurd that when the Congressional Oversight Panel, charged with monitoring the bailout money, sent a query to Paulson asking how he decided whom to give money to, Treasury responded — and this isn't a joke — by directing the panel to a copy of the TARP application form on its website. Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, was struck nearly speechless by the response.

"Do you believe that?" she says incredulously. "That's not what we had in mind."

Another member of Congress, who asked not to be named, offers his own theory about the TARP process. "I think basically if you knew Hank Paulson, you got the money," he says.

This cozy arrangement created yet another opportunity for big banks to devour market share at the expense of smaller regional lenders. While all the bigwigs at Citi and Goldman and Bank of America who had Paulson on speed-dial got bailed out right away — remember that TARP was originally passed because money had to be lent right now, that day, that minute, to stave off emergency — many small banks are still waiting for help. Five months into the TARP program, some not only haven't received any funds, they haven't even gotten a call back about their applications.

"There's definitely a feeling among community bankers that no one up there cares much if they make it or not," says Tanya Wheeless, president of the Arizona Bankers Association.

Which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what should be happening, since small, regional banks are far less guilty of the kinds of predatory lending that sank the economy. "They're not giving out subprime loans or easy credit," says Wheeless. "At the community level, it's much more bread-and-butter banking."

Nonetheless, the lion's share of the bailout money has gone to the larger, so-called "systemically important" banks. "It's like Treasury is picking winners and losers," says one state banking official who asked not to be identified.

This itself is a hugely important political development. In essence, the bailout accelerated the decline of regional community lenders by boosting the political power of their giant national competitors.

Which, when you think about it, is insane: What had brought us to the brink of collapse in the first place was this relentless instinct for building ever-larger megacompanies, passing deregulatory measures to gradually feed all the little fish in the sea to an ever-shrinking pool of Bigger Fish. To fix this problem, the government should have slowly liquidated these monster, too-big-to-fail firms and broken them down to smaller, more manageable companies. Instead, federal regulators closed ranks and used an almost completely secret bailout process to double down on the same faulty, merger-happy thinking that got us here in the first place, creating a constellation of megafirms under government control that are even bigger, more unwieldy and more crammed to the gills with systemic risk.

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In essence, Paulson and his cronies turned the federal government into one gigantic, half-opaque holding company, one whose balance sheet includes the world's most appallingly large and risky hedge fund, a controlling stake in a dying insurance giant, huge investments in a group of teetering megabanks, and shares here and there in various auto-finance companies, student loans, and other failing businesses. Like AIG, this new federal holding company is a firm that has no mechanism for auditing itself and is run by leaders who have very little grasp of the daily operations of its disparate subsidiary operations.

In other words, it's AIG's rip-roaringly shitty business model writ almost inconceivably massive — to echo Geithner, a huge, complex global company attached to a very complicated investment bank/hedge fund that's been allowed to build up without adult supervision. How much of what kinds of crap is actually on our balance sheet, and what did we pay for it? When exactly will the rent come due, when will the money run out? Does anyone know what the hell is going on? And on the linear spectrum of capitalism to socialism, where exactly are we now? Is there a dictionary word that even describes what we are now? It would be funny, if it weren't such a nightmare.

VII. YOU DON'T GET IT

The real question from here is whether the Obama administration is going to move to bring the financial system back to a place where sanity is restored and the general public can have a say in things or whether the new financial bureaucracy will remain obscure, secretive and hopelessly complex. It might not bode well that Geithner, Obama's Treasury secretary, is one of the architects of the Paulson bailouts; as chief of the New York Fed, he helped orchestrate the Goldman-friendly AIG bailout and the secretive Maiden Lane facilities used to funnel funds to the dying company. Neither did it look good when Geithner — himself a protégé of notorious Goldman alum John Thain, the Merrill Lynch chief who paid out billions in bonuses after the state spent billions bailing out his firm — picked a former Goldman lobbyist named Mark Patterson to be his top aide.

In fact, most of Geithner's early moves reek strongly of Paulsonism. He has continually talked about partnering with private investors to create a so-called "bad bank" that would systemically relieve private lenders of bad assets — the kind of massive, opaque, quasi-private bureaucratic nightmare that Paulson specialized in. Geithner even refloated a Paulson proposal to use TALF, one of the Fed's new facilities, to essentially lend cheap money to hedge funds to invest in troubled banks while practically guaranteeing them enormous profits.

God knows exactly what this does for the taxpayer, but hedge-fund managers sure love the idea. "This is exactly what the financial system needs," said Andrew Feldstein, CEO of Blue Mountain Capital and one of the Morgan Mafia. Strangely, there aren't many people who don't run hedge funds who have expressed anything like that kind of enthusiasm for Geithner's ideas.

As complex as all the finances are, the politics aren't hard to follow. By creating an urgent crisis that can only be solved by those fluent in a language too complex for ordinary people to understand, the Wall Street crowd has turned the vast majority of Americans into non-participants in their own political future. There is a reason it used to be a crime in the Confederate states to teach a slave to read: Literacy is power. In the age of the CDS and CDO, most of us are financial illiterates. By making an already too-complex economy even more complex, Wall Street has used the crisis to effect a historic, revolutionary change in our political system — transforming a democracy into a two-tiered state, one with plugged-in financial bureaucrats above and clueless customers below.

The most galling thing about this financial crisis is that so many Wall Street types think they actually deserve not only their huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles but the awesome political power their own mistakes have left them in possession of. When challenged, they talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40.

"But wait a minute," you say to them. "No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what's left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not throwing your ass in jail instead?"

But before you even finish saying that, they're rolling their eyes, because You Don't Get It. These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they're on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.

Good luck with that, America. And enjoy tax season.

throw the bums out! said...

In a letter issued today, two consumer advocacy groups called on President Obama to obtain Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's resignation.

The letter, from Harvey Rosenfield, the California-based consumer advocate who authored the state's insurance rate rollback Proposition 103, and Jim Donahue of the Washington-based WallStreetWatch.Org, asserts that Geithner has been unable to transcend his earlier role, while Chair of the New York Fed, as an architect of the failed Bush Administration Wall Street bailouts -- including the initial $80 billion AIG bailout.

Moreover, it appears the Treasury Department was aware of the latest round of bonus and retention payments but failed to announce them until after AIG issued $160 million in checks. Pointing out that the President has often called for "an open, honest government that would fight" for people, not special interests, it concludes that "In these grave days of national reckoning, the citizenry deserves better."

"It is clear that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cannot provide the requisite independence that is required in an environment in which financial institutions and other businesses are demanding trillions of dollars of taxpayer money," the letter to President Obama states. "With respect, we urge you to ask for his resignation."

Two weeks ago, WallStreetWatch.Org issued a 231-page report pinpointing twelve policy decisions by the federal government that led directly to the current financial calamity -- and how those policies were dictated by Wall Street through over $5 billion in campaign and lobbying expenditures between 1998 and 2008 by many of the same firms who are receiving American taxpayer dollars.

The letter calling for Geithner's resignation, and "Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," are available at: WallStreetWatch.org.

Anonymous said...

Palin Stumblin’ in Alaska

Sarah Palin is stumbling and backpedaling about the stimulus money geared for the needs of Alaskans, and it is beginning to look like her stance on the money is changing every day. Of course she is stumbling because she wanted a bold statement of refusal to boost her national political hopes. Alaskans aren’t happy.

#1 That had to be one of the stupidest political stunts so far. The GOP strategists were dinking some bad moonshine when they came up with this plan.
written by CwV since 3 hours 30 minutes
#2 Hasn't this really been the tactic of all the Republican governors who make noise about stimulus money? They stomp and pontificate, secure in the knowledge that the legislatures (who aren't getting up steam for 2012) will sensibly take the money. The talking points have been so similar that orchestration seems a forgone conclusion.
written by kladner since 2 hours 48 minutes
#3 Gov. Airhead Moose-olini's handlers and script writers have to get on the same page. She doesn't really understand what all of this complicated stuff means.
written by protect_democracy since 2 hours 32 minutes
#4 Hey, protect_democracy, if you had a husband who trains year round for a dog-sled race, five children, one of them a 20 year old with a drug problem serving in Iraq, and the second an unwed teenage mother , you wouldn't have time to understand basic economics either. Given all the facts about her personal life that we know, I'm surprised she even has the strength to get out of bed in the morning. Is it any wonder she doesn't read any newspapers?
It is only her dominatrix-like faith in her religion and belief that the American government is socialist and evil that keeps her going.
I did like the Airhead Moose-olini name, though, very descriptive.
written by PhilosopherJay since 2 hours 1 minute
#5 Someone pointed out that she reamed Obama for his "Special Olympics" comment right after refusing the funds for education, much of it dedicated for special education.
written by PatriotDem since 1 hour 52 minutes
#6 Special education funds are sorely needed in Alaska with the rampant fetal alcohol syndrome there. It is worth it to take the money, even if you fear it adds to the bureaucracy, for it pays in the long run getting kids better, functional, and eventually working. She is going completely against economic sense and the interest of her own Downs son.
written by Stingobuzzer since 1 hour 22 minutes
#7 My old Puritan, New England mom would have said, "Well, of course Bristol Palin's a slut; so was her mother." Sluts have poor powers of discrimination, and are likely to end up mattressbacking for the first available option, not having considered the consequences. I'd call her an airhead, but that denigrates airheads.
written by godistwaddle since 1 hour 2 minutes
#8 It gets better www.adn.com/palin/story/731157.html...
written by Pursang since 46 minutes
#9 Sounds like you have MY family, godistwaddle! :D

p_d - well, she's JUST smart enough, or I should say has the low animal cunning like all Rethugs, to understand the value of the soundbite and hypocritically taking a "courageous" (and ultimately pointless) position....
written by drdarkeny since 38 minutes
#10 Split up Alaska's share among the other 49 states.

Anonymous said...

Palin's legal debts
pile up...wants to use stimulus funds to defend corruption.

Gov. Sarah Palin owes more than a half million dollars to an Anchorage law firm that has defended her against ethics complaints, and she may create a legal fund to pay the bill, she said Friday.

Legal bills have mounted fighting complaints that she called partisan, false and frivolous, starting with "the politically motivated Troopergate probe," Palin said in a written response to questions.

She said the legal bills all stem from her actions as governor.

"I must defend against these baseless ethics accusations out of my own pocket as the use of public monies to do so could itself violate state law," Palin wrote.

The debt, amassed since she was catapulted into the national spotlight during the presidential race, was revealed in her annual financial disclosure filed this week with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

"On August 29, it seems the political landscape changed in Alaska. Now, it seems in order to do this job as Governor, with the political blood sport some are playing today, only the independently wealthy or those willing to spend their income on legal fees to defend their official actions in office ... can serve," Palin said in the written response to Daily News questions.

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The debt is owed to the Alaska law firm Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness, according to her financial disclosure.

The disclosure said only that she owed "hundreds of thousands of dollars." On Friday in the written statement, attorney Thomas Van Flein wouldn't give a precise number but said it was "a substantial debt." Palin said she didn't have an exact figure yet but "the debt is over a half a million dollars."

Van Flein represented Palin on the Troopergate controversy, which grew from her dismissal of the state's public safety commissioner, as well as other complaints alleging ethics violations, some of which have not been publicized. One was filed under the name of a soap opera character, Palin said. Another concerned the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute using her photograph to promote seafood.

Palin also faced a small claims case in Washington, D.C., that was dismissed when the plaintiff didn't show up for a hearing.

In all, Palin said, there have been 10 ethics complaints, counting Troopergate, though she did not provide a list. State ethics complaints are confidential unless a public accusation is filed or the accused person agrees in writing to make to make it public. State officials said they could not discuss any pending ethics cases.

Out of the 10 complaints, Palin said six have been dismissed, one had "concluded," and three are pending.

Last month, with Van Flein as her lawyer, she settled an ethics complaint over her children's travel by agreeing to repay the state for an estimated 10 trips. She said Friday that debt is still under review by the state.

Activists who have brought complaints against Palin said they don't consider their efforts frivolous.

Zane Henning, a North Slope worker, filed a complaint in November after the election, accusing Palin of partisan "post-election damage control" for talking to reporters about the campaign in her state office. He said he wanted to stop that sort of behavior, and it seems to have worked, but he couldn't talk about the complaint further while it was pending.

Andree McLeod, who has filed four ethics complaints against Palin and top aides, and made a number of public records requests, says she's doing exactly what Palin expects. When Palin was sworn in as governor in December 2006, McLeod recalled, she said "Alaskans, hold me accountable; and right backatcha. I'll expect a lot from you too."

"I'm unambiguously, steadfastly and doggedly holding Palin accountable," McLeod said in a statement. Her most recent complaint, filed this week, accuses Palin of using state resources to post a campaign message on the state Web site, and using her state spokesman to address confusion caused by her political action committee.

Van Flein initially was hired by the state under a $95,000 contract to represent Palin in a legislative investigation of Troopergate.

At issue was whether Palin pushed for the firing of her ex-brother-in-law, state Trooper Mike Wooten, then fired public safety commissioner Walt Monegan when the trooper stayed on the job.

But just after Van Flein was tapped, Palin landed on the national GOP ticket. Van Flein said the investigation "became part of the national campaign strategy against the governor." He never billed the state.

Palin said she knew the case had turned political when CNN reported that the Obama campaign had spoken with the troopers' union about Monegan. Meg Stapleton, spokeswoman for Sarah PAC, Palin's political action committee, said in an e-mail Friday evening that a CNN reporter who was live on the air Sept. 5 reported the Obama campaign reached out to Wooten through his union.

Palin said she didn't think it would be fair to "sacrifice public monies to defend against something that was so politically charged." Van Flein called the investigation a "political probe" and an "abuse of state money."

Asked for response, state Sen. Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat who directed the investigation, wrote in an e-mail that the state's bipartisan Legislative Council approved the investigation 12-0, with eight Republicans voting for it. The panel agreed to spend up to $100,000, mainly for an independent counsel, but spent $75,000.

"The investigation came in 25% under budget, which is clear evidence that the investigator was restrained and judicious in the work that he performed," French wrote Friday evening.

The legislative investigation concluded Palin abused her power by not stopping her husband, Todd, from trying to get trooper Wooten fired.

Palin didn't cooperate with that probe, but with Van Flein's help got the matter before the state Personnel Board by making an ethics complaint against herself. That investigation concluded the day before the election and found she didn't know what her family or staff members were doing regarding Wooten so she couldn't be held responsible.

Palin made $131,891 last year, counting her $125,000 salary and expense payments she collects when she's away from Juneau, according to the disclosure. Todd Palin made $86,150 from his two jobs, as a commercial fisherman and a BP production operator.

"Obviously we cannot afford to personally pay these bills -- and really no future governor should feel the sense of financial vulnerability at the hands of those with a political vendetta bent on personal destruction," Palin wrote. "Some have suggested a legal fund to pay these bills. We'll have to pursue that."

Anonymous said...

USA Today, LA Times continue to omit Bush Treasury's role in AIG bonus controversy

Summary: USA Today and the Los Angeles Times reported Republican criticism of the Obama administration over AIG's employee bonus packages but did not point out that it was the Bush Treasury Department that worked with the Federal Reserve in carrying out last year's bailouts and bought AIG stock notwithstanding the existence of these bonus contracts.


In March 18 articles, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times reported Republican criticism of the Obama administration over American International Group's (AIG) employee bonus packages but did not point out that it was the Bush Treasury Department that worked with the Federal Reserve in carrying out last year's bailouts and bought AIG stock notwithstanding the existence of these bonus contracts. On March 17, USA Today and the Times similarly ignored the Bush administration's involvement in the AIG controversy, as Media Matters for America documented.

USA Today reporters John Fritze, Mimi Hall, and Adam Shell reported on March 18, "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner -- who had come under criticism for his handling of the issue by Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. -- promised in a letter Tuesday night to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Treasury will recover all the money." They further reported:

Republican lawmakers including Shelby questioned why President Obama and Geithner did not take action to stop the bonuses earlier. Shelby told CBS' Early Show it was another example of Geithner being "out of the loop." Shelby asked, "Where was Treasury before this money was paid out?"

At no point did USA Today mention that the Bush Treasury Department also "did not take action to stop the bonuses" when it approved the bailouts.

Similarly, Los Angeles Times reporters Jim Puzzanghera and Janet Hook reported on March 18, "[Sen. Charles] Grassley [IA], the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, asked Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson to open an inquiry into the AIG bonus payments and determine whether top Treasury officials had some role in approving the payments, according to Grassley's office." Puzzanghera and Hook further wrote:

The inquiry could turn the heat back on the Obama administration, which has expressed outrage over the payments and wants to challenge them.

In a letter to Thorson obtained by The Times, Grassley asked whether Treasury officials made any previous efforts to block the bonus payments or demanded that the payments be waived before releasing taxpayer bailout funds to the company. Thorson also would examine whether there are contracts that compel the payments and, if so, when those legal obligations were created.

[...]

Democrats tended to blame corporate greed. Republicans harshly criticized Geithner, though they stopped short of calling for his resignation.

Geithner approved the bonuses last weekend after determining that they were contractual obligations by AIG that could prompt lawsuits if not paid. His decision came less than two weeks after federal officials agreed to extend AIG an additional $30-billion line of credit on top of the $150 billion in bailout funds the government had already sunk into the company.

"What I'd like a full explanation of is how the Department of the Treasury handed over $30 billion a mere two weeks ago and didn't have any idea that this outrage was going to occur," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

The Times did not mention, however, that the Bush Treasury Department "handed over" a greater sum to AIG without addressing the company's bonus contracts.

By contrast, in a March 17 Politico article, executive editor Jim VandeHei wrote that "[t]he bonuses were essentially a nonissue when AIG got its initial bailout money, almost $150 billion under President Bush in the two months surrounding the presidential election." As Media Matters noted, The Washington Post reported on March 17 that "AIG disclosed its retention-payment program more than a year ago, and the amount of the bonuses -- more than $400 million for Financial Products alone -- had been widely reported."

In a September 16, 2008, article about the initial bailout of AIG, The New York Times reported: "Fearing a financial crisis worldwide, the Federal Reserve reversed course on Tuesday and agreed to an $85 billion bailout that would give the government control of the troubled insurance giant American International Group." In a November 10, 2008, article, the Times reported that the Bush Treasury Department and Federal Reserve announced a "revised bailout" of AIG, under which "the Treasury Department will use the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP], the $700 billion financial system rescue plan, to buy $40 billion of newly issued A.I.G. preferred shares." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times article criticizing the Obama administration's recent handling of AIG, voted to pass the October 2008 TARP legislation -- a fact the Times article did not note.

From the March 18 USA Today article:

As new details emerged about $165 million in bonuses paid by insurance giant AIG, lawmakers and administration officials sought ways to recoup the money either by imposing stiff new taxes on the extra pay or requiring the company to return it in exchange for future taxpayer aid.

[...]

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner -- who had come under criticism for his handling of the issue by Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. -- promised in a letter Tuesday night to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Treasury will recover all the money.

[...]

Republican lawmakers including Shelby questioned why President Obama and Geithner did not take action to stop the bonuses earlier. Shelby told CBS' Early Show it was another example of Geithner being "out of the loop." Shelby asked, "Where was Treasury before this money was paid out?"

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama had "complete confidence" in Geithner.

From the March 18 Los Angeles Times article:

Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, asked Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson to open an inquiry into the AIG bonus payments and determine whether top Treasury officials had some role in approving the payments, according to Grassley's office.

The inquiry could turn the heat back on the Obama administration, which has expressed outrage over the payments and wants to challenge them.

In a letter to Thorson obtained by The Times, Grassley asked whether Treasury officials made any previous efforts to block the bonus payments or demanded that the payments be waived before releasing taxpayer bailout funds to the company. Thorson also would examine whether there are contracts that compel the payments and, if so, when those legal obligations were created.

[...]

Democrats tended to blame corporate greed. Republicans harshly criticized Geithner, though they stopped short of calling for his resignation.

Geithner approved the bonuses last weekend after determining that they were contractual obligations by AIG that could prompt lawsuits if not paid. His decision came less than two weeks after federal officials agreed to extend AIG an additional $30-billion line of credit on top of the $150 billion in bailout funds the government had already sunk into the company.

"What I'd like a full explanation of is how the Department of the Treasury handed over $30 billion a mere two weeks ago and didn't have any idea that this outrage was going to occur," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

In a contentious briefing dominated by the AIG issue, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Obama retained confidence in Geithner.

On Monday, Obama had ordered his administration to "pursue every legal avenue" to challenge the bonuses. Legal experts said that would be difficult and could lead to lawsuits.

Some lawmakers said they were concerned about the legality of a tax that would wipe out the bonuses in their entirety, but one tax-law expert saw no impediment to doing so.

—A.J.W.

Nyx said...

The best analysis of the left that I've ever seen! Evan Sayet is a genius!

Anonymous said...

Nyx?

Is that the way they spell nazi, now?

Anonymous said...

hahaha...yeah...now Psycho's got the support of some German fascist.

Damn...aint that a sooprize??!

leftist commies kill said...

Says the Commie troll. How many people died in the twentieth century under the Commies? They made Hitler look like an amateur.

obama wastes $5 trillion w/o stimulating squat said...

President Barack Obama's budget proposals, if carried out, would produce a staggering $9.3 trillion in total deficits over the next decade, much more than the White House has predicted, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

The office's estimates of deficits in the fiscal years 2010 through 2019 "exceed those anticipated by the administration by $2.3 trillion."

The deficits under the Obama plan would be $4.9 trillion more than the projected deficits if there were no changes in current laws and policies — what the nonpartisan budget office calls its baseline assumption.

Go, Steele said...

GOP chief Steele: ‘We lost our minds’
By Associated Press
Saturday, March 21, 2009

Republicans better stop whining and start thinking of new electoral strategies to return to prominence, the new head of the Republican National Committee said Friday.

"I’m tired of seeing the same old, same old," RNC Chairman Michael Steele told about 750 Republicans at a party dinner in suburban Denver. "I’m tired of hearing the same old arguments. I’m tired of hearing the complaining."

Steele, who took the helm of the GOP at the beginning of the year, said Republicans must stop complaining about ruling Democrats if they are to recover with voters.

"If you want to complain and moan and groan about everything going on," Steele said, "there’s the door."

Steele was frank about why Republicans did so badly in elections nationwide last fall.

"We started drinking from that wonderful Potomac River" when in charge of Congress and the White House, Steele joked. "We got that Potomac fever, and we lost our minds."

The results were punishing losses nationwide last year.

"They have every level of government," Steele said of the Democrats. "They control it all."

Anonymous said...

A time for silence


By Janice Kennedy, The Ottawa Citizen

Of all the wise observations in Ecclesiastes about seasons -- times to be born and to die, to weep and to laugh, to love and to hate -- the wisest for this moment in history may be the one about speaking and keeping silent. It's tailor-made for U.S. Republicans in the party's far-right wing, and for their fans at home and abroad.

In short, it is now time for the rabid right to shut up.

And yet, lacking the shame they have so richly earned, they are not doing so. Four months ago, they lost an election that gave a decisive mandate for change to the other side, to the hope for an antithetically different approach.

Four months ago, they were told unequivocally that their time in power -- the eight years they used so spectacularly to transform prosperity into ashes and peace into war -- was over. Finito. Goodbye.

But they don't seem to get it.

Barely into Barack Obama's early attempts to clean up their messes, they've re-emerged into the sunshine, crowing from the roof of the roost as if they still ruled it.

And so the U.S., along with the rest of a fascinated world, has been treated recently to the indecent spectacle of bully Rush Limbaugh, radio host and motormouthpiece of the extreme right, expressing the wish that his own president fail. ("Why would I want socialism to succeed?" he has said repeatedly, betraying the kind of embarrassing ignorance that would be side-splittingly funny if it weren't so dangerous.)

Last Sunday, former vice-president Dick Cheney appeared on television to declare that Guantanamo had been a good thing, torturing prisoners was fine and dandy, and Obama's opposition to both is making the U.S. less safe. (Which is pretty rich, coming from a man who helped propel his country into the obscenity of unnecessary war, though his old company, Halliburton, has made an absolute killing in Iraq.)

Two days later, there was George W. Bush himself, 43rd U.S. president and unarguably the worst, defending his presidency to an appreciative Calgary audience that gave him a standing ovation -- a standing ovation! -- for his celebrity, his genial folksiness and his gratitude for Canadian oil. Now, it's possible that the fine folks who paid a minimum of $400 a plate to rise to their feet and applaud Bush were of like mind. (Rape of the environment? Pshaw. A small price to pay in the face of such big profits.) All the same, the enthusiastic reaction in Calgary to Bush's first post-presidential speaking engagement was probably not one that caused hearts across Canada to swell with pride.

Since memories are obviously short, it may be useful to review the legacy of the recent adventure in lunatic right-wing extremism.

Its me-first market philosophy has tumbled us all into global economic disaster. Its reds-under-the-bed paranoia and jingoistic militarism have led to pointless war, to untold thousands of needless deaths, to massive levels of destruction and suffering, to the creation of millions of new America-haters around the globe -- and therefore to new terrorist threats.

The domestic politics of the extreme rightists, both the me-first social thinking and the anything-to-win pragmatism, have polarized an already fragmented society. And the political legitimization of the ultraconservatives -- with the stress on "ultra," since decent people with traditionally conservative politics must be as appalled as liberals by the fanatic far-right -- has legitimized not just the uninformed, but the defiantly ignorant. (Not only in the U.S., either, which explains why a Canadian science minister can say, with a straight face, that questions about his views on evolution are an inappropriate intrusion into religious belief.)

They have also reduced public debate to unprecedented levels of interpersonal nastiness, lionizing such creepy commentators as Ann Coulter (whose book titles all use the word "liberal" as a synonym for "something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe"), the terminally adolescent Tucker Carlson (who, way back when, described Canada as a "retarded cousin" -- which, yes, still offends) and all those rhetoricians from the right whose criticism of policy and ideas can only be delivered with smarmy smiles and personal attacks.

Mind you, they're also capable of internecine creepiness, as former Bush booster David Frum discovered recently when he criticized Limbaugh and had a startling array of noisome stuff flung his way. Citing Frum's -- gasp -- Canadian roots, mouthy radio host Mark Levin called him, in the same breath, an "a-hole," a "jerk" and a "putz."

Such nastiness is not trivial -- because it's not superficial. It betrays a profound lack of generosity, civility and regard for others. A lack of humanity, in short.

People who don't give a flying fig about any humanity beyond their front doors usually don't mind creating a desolation and calling it peace, justice or any other lie that catches their fancy.

Especially when they're rewarded handsomely.

So, for leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, do these clowns get to look forward to justice? Nope, not in this culture. What they get instead is unlimited soapboxes, fat speaker's fees and generous opportunities to rehabilitate reeking personal reputations.

In a just world, they'd be in some dark hiding place, grateful not to be in the slammer. In a just world, they'd hang their heads in shame.

In a just world, they'd realize the time had come for them to shut their malicious mouths.

Anonymous said...

Big Wall Street players see Geithner plan as a good deal

11:30 AM, March 23, 2009

For a change, Wall Street today is happy with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The stock market is broadly higher, reacting at least in part to Geithner’s long-awaited plan for the government to finance private investors’ purchases of rotten bank assets. The Dow Jones industrials were up 280 points, or 3.8%, to 7,558 at about 11:20 a.m PDT. Financial stocks were leading the charge.

Two huge money management firms, Pimco (Pacific Investment Management Co.) in Newport Beach and BlackRock Inc. in New York, quickly said they would participate in the asset-purchase program --which obviously means they think they can make money off it.

"This is perhaps the first win/win/win policy to be put on the table," Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer of Pimco, said in a statement. "We intend to participate and do our part to serve clients as well as promote economic recovery."

Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, told Bloomberg News that the program "is not a silver bullet. But will take some of the overhang out of the marketplace. It is incrementally a really good thing."

Some other early reaction from Wall Street:

-- Tony Crescenzi, bond market strategist, Miller Tabak & Co.: "The Public-Private Investment Program will likely draw in major players to a market where there is currently no market. It will start slow at first, but portfolio managers will want to participate in part out of fear competitors will be participating and earning returns that beat their own. Explicit language on compensation and disclosure rules will help broaden its appeal."

-- Marc Chandler, currency strategist, Brown Bros. Harriman & Co.: "Although the Treasury's plan appeared to find immediate support among a couple large private asset managers, many pundits remain skeptical. Many still can't get their heads around how the toxic assets will be priced. Meanwhile, there is a sense of relief that the private asset managers who participate in the plan will not face the compensation limits of other [U.S.] programs."

-- Jack Ablin, chief investment officer, Harris Private Bank: "The Treasury is taking strong measures to ensure that private investors will come forward and snap up illiquid and troubled bank assets that are sitting in our largest banks’ digestive systems like a chimichanga fried in two-week-old oil. However, investors are legitimately concerned that Washington will change the rules and impose a special tax after the launch. Given the risk and return opportunities to private investors, the programs are shaping up to be a good deal."




-- Tom Petruno

Anonymous said...

Mobius Says Bull Rally in Emerging Markets Has Begun (Update1)

By Chua Kong Ho and Michael Patterson

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Templeton Asset Management Ltd.’s Mark Mobius said the next “bull-market” rally in developing- nation equities has begun as stocks surged from Shanghai to Sao Paulo on the U.S. Treasury’s plan to revive the banking system.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index climbed the most this year, erasing losses for 2009, on U.S. plans to buy as much as $1 trillion of toxic assets. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose for a sixth day, the longest winning stretch in more than 17 months, as the government encouraged mergers in the auto and steel industries. Russia’s Micex jumped to the highest since October after Citigroup Inc. said the stocks are “dirt cheap,” while banks led Brazil’s Bovespa index to a 5.1 percent gain.

“You have to be careful not to miss the opportunity,” Mobius, who helps oversee about $20 billion of emerging-market assets as executive chairman at San Mateo, California-based Templeton, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “With all the negative news, there is a tendency to hold back.”

The 72-year old investor, voted among the “Top Ten Money Managers of the 20th Century” by the Carson Group, said there are bargains in every emerging market after the MSCI benchmark fell 57 percent from its October 2007 peak. Equity valuations tumbled as a collapse in U.S. consumer spending shrank demand for manufactured goods and commodities, while frozen bond markets curbed developing-nation companies’ access to credit.

‘Cash Rich’ Bargains

Templeton is looking for companies that are “cash-rich,” have low debt and high dividend yields, or those that can invest for future growth yet have cash left to pay shareholders, Mobius said. He cited Hong Kong’s Denway Motors Ltd., PTT Plc in Thailand, Indonesia’s Bank Central Asia, ICICI Bank Ltd. in India, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd. in Singapore.

The MSCI benchmark climbed 4.5 percent at 12:44 p.m. in New York, putting the index on course for a 2009 gain for the first time since Jan. 9. Today’s advance is the biggest since Dec. 10.

The gauge has rallied 16 percent in March, headed for the biggest monthly gain since December 1993, on speculation China’s 4 trillion-yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package will boost demand for commodities and as the biggest U.S. banks said they were profitable in January and February following $1.2 trillion in writedowns worldwide.

Obama’s Plan

The Obama administration’s plan is aimed at financing as much as $1 trillion in purchases of illiquid real-estate assets, using $75 billion to $100 billion of the Treasury’s remaining bank-rescue funds. The Public-Private Investment Program will also rely on Federal Reserve financing and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. debt guarantees, the Treasury said today.

Thirteen of the 23 emerging markets tracked by MSCI posted gains in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped 28 percent on forecasts infrastructure spending will keep economic growth near the government’s target of 8 percent. The Micex rose 37 percent, and shares in Brazil and Chile climbed more than 6 percent as prices for oil, iron ore and copper rebounded after the worst drop in the Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index on record last year.

The WIG20 index lost 13 percent and the PX index retreated 11 percent for the steepest declines. All 23 benchmarks fell in 2008, with the Micex and Shanghai indexes both losing more than 65 percent.

Citigroup analysts Markus Rosgen and Elaine Chu are among strategists who said recent Asian stock gains are a temporary “bear-market rally” because valuations have yet to plumb the lows seen in past recessions. Tal Eloya of Fidelity Investments, the world’s biggest mutual fund company, said today he’s skeptical of predictions about the timing of the market cycle.

‘Next Bull Market’

“No one can call the bottom in the stock market,” Eloya, a portfolio manager at Fidelity, said in a briefing in Seoul.

“You are going to see a lot of bouncing off the bottom because there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market,” Mobius said. “But I have a feeling we’re at the bottom and now we’re building a base for the next bull market.”

Anonymous said...

Wall Street Journal article omitted Bush Treasury Department's role from AIG bonus timeline

Summary: A Wall Street Journal article about Tim Geithner and his aides' involvement in decisions about AIG's bonus payments did not note that it was the Bush administration that negotiated a November 2008 stock purchase agreement with AIG through which the Bush Treasury Department injected $40 billion into the company without requiring that the bonus contracts be nullified.


A March 23 Wall Street Journal article about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his aides' involvement in decisions about AIG's bonus payments did not report that it was the Bush Treasury Department that signed a stock purchase agreement with AIG, whereby AIG received $40 billion in aid, without having to terminate those payments. The Journal reported, "As New York Fed president [at the time], Mr. Geithner was central to AIG's initial $85 billion bailout in September, which was carried out in a tumultuous four-day period." The Journal further reported, "One of Mr. Geithner's top bank supervisors at the New York Fed, Sarah Dahlgren, became the government's lead overseer of AIG. She sat in on AIG board meetings, joined at times by other top Fed staffers, and also participated in compensation-committee meetings. It isn't clear whether the issue rose to the board level until this month. AIG received an expanded government rescue in October and another in November, bringing the total to about $150 billion, including $40 billion in Treasury funds." But the Journal article did not make clear that it was President Bush's administration that negotiated a November 25, 2008, stock purchase agreement with AIG through which the Bush Treasury Department injected the $40 billion into the company without requiring that the bonus contracts, which AIG had signed with employees, be nullified.

As Media Matters for America previously documented, on March 20, FoxBusiness.com reported that in a November 1, 2008, email, a Treasury Department official wrote, "Have your benefits team made any progress on the 'soft' issues, or heard anything from the fed [sic] on the bonus situation?" The article further reported, "Despite their deliberations at the time, the Treasury and Fed officials, which were part of the Bush Administration, eventually decided to restrict compensation on just the top 75 company executives -- and some of them may still have received hefty bonuses." But in reporting on "how Mr. Geithner and his aides were apprised of the AIG bonuses," The Wall Street Journal did not report that, after deliberating over the bonus contracts, the Bush administration signed the November stock purchase without requiring AIG to nullify those contracts. Indeed, Neil Barofsky, a Bush-appointed special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), noted in March 19 testimony that the executive compensation section of the Treasury's TARP agreement with AIG limits compensation for "Senior Partners," including "all retention payments paid or payable to such Senior Partner under any retention arrangement between the Senior Partner and the Company for any period ending on or prior to March 31, 2010." But the agreement does not affect retention payments for other AIG employees.

From the March 23 Wall Street Journal article:

Since the fall, senior aides to Timothy Geithner have closely dealt with American International Group Inc. on compensation issues including bonuses, both from his time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and as Treasury secretary.

The extent of their involvement, which wasn't widely known, raises fresh questions about whether Mr. Geithner could have known earlier about AIG's $165 million in bonus payments. When the bonuses sparked a political firestorm last week, Mr. Geithner said he learned about their full scope in early March, just days before they were paid.

Mr. Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will be grilled by Congress on Tuesday in a hearing that is likely to focus heavily on AIG. The flap has prompted lawmakers to seek curbs on an array of bonuses, tested the Obama administration and undermined Mr. Geithner's standing as he attempts to implement measures to stabilize the financial system.

Treasury officials say the department's staff kept Mr. Geithner in the dark until March 10. "Secretary Geithner, who has been actively engaged in shaping and executing the president's broad economic agenda, takes full responsibility for not being aware of these programs" before that date, Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker said Sunday in a written response to questions.

This account of how Mr. Geithner and his aides were apprised of the AIG bonuses was based on interviews with government officials, lawmakers and congressional testimony.

As New York Fed president, Mr. Geithner was central to AIG's initial $85 billion bailout in September, which was carried out in a tumultuous four-day period.

After Edward Liddy took over as AIG chief executive, the company hired consultants to look at its payment plans around the world. One of Mr. Geithner's top bank supervisors at the New York Fed, Sarah Dahlgren, became the government's lead overseer of AIG. She sat in on AIG board meetings, joined at times by other top Fed staffers, and also participated in compensation-committee meetings. It isn't clear whether the issue rose to the board level until this month.

AIG received an expanded government rescue in October and another in November, bringing the total to about $150 billion, including $40 billion in Treasury funds.

In early November, the Fed, outside auditor Ernst & Young and AIG officials began examining through a committee the bonuses set to be paid to AIG's financial-products division, including those that sparked last week's furor. The committee concluded that the bonuses, which were in contracts signed before the government takeover, couldn't be legally blocked, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Obama administration has since agreed with that legal interpretation.

AIG cited the retention plan in a public filing in early November, and Fed officials were aware AIG planned to pay $55 million in bonuses to financial-products employees the next month. Mr. Geithner remained involved in major AIG matters, seeking updates from Ms. Dahlgren and other top Fed staffers. He recused himself from dealing with aid to specific companies around the time of his Nov. 24 nomination as Treasury secretary.

Fed officials declined to make Ms. Dahlgren available to comment on the bonus issue.

Lawmakers were also scrutinizing AIG's operations. Some raised the matter of the AIG bonuses at a hearing in December where they grilled Neel Kashkari, a Bush Treasury official who remains at the department.

—J.H.

Anonymous said...

Treason from the right:

Crazy Rep. Michele Bachmann Calls for Armed Revolution


When Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) casually refers to elected Democratic officials as the "enemy," and nonchalantly refers to keeping her supporters "armed and dangerous," it's probably a good time to remind Republican lawmakers of laws pertaining to incitement to treason.

Bachmann appeared over the weekend on the First Team radio show with John Hinderaker and Brian Ward, speaking about the horrible stuff that the Democrats are doing: "I'm a foreign correspondent on enemy lines and I try to let everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington."

Bachmann also spoke out against the cap-and-trade proposals currently making their way through Washington, and how she'll be distributing information against it at an upcoming event in the district. "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back," said Bachmann. "Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing. And the people -- we the people -- are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country."

This seems to fit in with a larger trend. We have one GOP lawmaker saying the party should emulate the insurgency tactics of the Taliban. We have another arguing the party should position itself as "freedom fighters" taking on the "slide toward socialism."

And now Bachmann is throwing fuel on the fire of right-wing rage.

Will Homeland Security weigh in on this?

jack green said...

The Right Plots Treason...let's hope they keep this up:





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As the nation creeps from recession to depression, the potential for civil unrest in every major city grows more likely. There has never been a more crucial time in our nation's history to make sure you are armed and trained for the protection of yourself and your family.

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another obamatron bites the dust said...

WASHINGTON -- President Obama's nominee for the No. 2 post at the Environmental Protection Agency dropped out, saying scrutiny of a group he was affiliated with was threatening to become "a distraction" for the administration.

The EPA announced the decision by Jonathan Cannon, nominated for the post of deputy EPA administrator, a day before he was scheduled to appear before a Senate panel considering his nomination.

In a written statement released by the EPA and attributed to Mr. Cannon, he said he was voluntarily withdrawing because "it has come to my attention that America's Clean Water Foundation, where I once served on the board of directors, has become the subject of scrutiny. While my service on the board of that now-dissolved organization is not the subject of the scrutiny, I believe the energy and environmental challenges facing our nation are too great to delay confirmation for this position, and I do not wish to present any distraction to the agency."

Mr. Cannon, a law professor at the University of Virginia who served as the EPA's general counsel during the Clinton administration, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. An EPA spokeswoman said the statement attributed to him "speaks for itself."

Earlier this week, aides to a Republican member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, Oklahoma's James Inhofe, questioned Mr. Cannon about a 2007 EPA inspector general report that alleged that during the period when Mr. Cannon served on the board of America's Clean Water Foundation, the group mismanaged about $25 million in EPA grant money and broke federal conflict-of-interest rules by awarding a contract to a company led by a member of the foundation's board of directors. The report made no mention of Mr. Cannon and stated that the foundation board member who received the contract was not Mr. Cannon.

$270M in Bonus for Chris Dodd's wife said...

No wonder Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) went wobbly last week when asked about his February amendment ratifying hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to executives at insurance giant AIG. Dodd has been one of the company's favorite recipients of campaign contributions. But it turns out that Senator Dodd's wife has also benefited from past connections to AIG as well.

From 2001-2004, Jackie Clegg Dodd served as an "outside" director of IPC Holdings, Ltd., a Bermuda-based company controlled by AIG. IPC, which provides property casualty catastrophe insurance coverage, was formed in 1993 and currently has a market cap of $1.4 billion and trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol IPCR. In 2001, in addition to a public offering of 15 million shares of stock that raised $380 million, IPC raised more than $109 million through a simultaneous private placement sale of 5.6 million shares of stock to AIG - giving AIG a 20% stake in IPC. (AIG sold its 13.397 million shares in IPC in August, 2006.)

Clegg was compensated for her duties to the company, which was managed by a subsidiary of AIG. In 2003, according to a proxy statement, Clegg received $12,000 per year and an additional $1,000 for each Directors' and committee meeting she attended. Clegg served on the Audit and Investment committees during her final year on the board.

IPC paid millions each year to other AIG-related companies for administrative and other services. Clegg was a diligent director. In 2003, the proxy statement report, she attended more than 75% of board and committee meetings. This while she served as the managing partner of Clegg International Consultants, LLC, which she created in 2001, the year she joined the board of IPC. (See Dodd's public financial disclosure reports with the Senate from 2001-2004 here.)

Dodd is likely more familiar with the complicated workings of AIG than he was letting on last week. This week may provide him with another opportunity to refresh his recollections.

obama put the world on the road to hell said...

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The head of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama's plan to spend nearly $2 trillion to push the U.S. economy out of recession as "the road to hell" that EU governments must avoid.

The blunt comments by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to the European Parliament on Wednesday highlighted simmering European differences with Washington ahead of a key summit next week on fixing the world economy.

It was the strongest pushback yet from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.

Anonymous said...

Learning Deficits

Robert L. Borsage

March 25, 2009


Will Obama's transformative budget survive? As his press conference last night illustrated, it runs a serious risk of drowning in a swamp of cant.

The budget is getting strafed by politicians in both parties for its deficits and debt. (the deficit is the annual shortfall between revenue and spending; debt is essentially the accumulation of net deficits over time).

Republicans, having joined Rush Limbaugh in betting that Obama fails, have done most of the ranting. Sen. Judd Gregg, lead Republican on the Senate budget committee, fulminates that if we pass Obama's budget, "this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt. Our dollar will become devalued."

Richard Shelby, top Republican on the banking committee, warns Cassandra-like that Obama's budget will put the country on "the fast road to financial destruction." Eric Cantor, the hyperbolic House Republican Whip, brings it down to his favored level, railing about wasteful spending like "money that goes to remove pig odor."

Conservative Democrats are chiming in also. Evan Bayh has formed what must be the twentieth new democratic rump group, arguing that "families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet -- and Washington should too." Kent Conrad, Democratic head of the budget committee, is pushing for deep cuts in spending on domestic programs. "Moderate" Senators are expressing growing opposition to the president's spending plans. Even the Chinese, America's biggest creditor, are wringing their hands about US deficits, suggesting perhaps a new international currency might be needed to replace the dollar.

Before this babel completely drowns out reason, a little common sense might be useful.

1. The newfound Republican fiscal probity is worth less than a drunkard's morning after regret.

For the last decade, they merrily embraced the Dick Cheney dictum that "Reagan taught us that deficits don't matter. They doubled the national debt when the economy was growing, exactly at the height of the business cycle when they should have moved budgets into balance and reduced debt burdens. Fully $1.4 trillion of the largest annual "Obama" deficit -- the $1.8 billion the CBO projects for FY 2009 that ends this October -- was bequeathed to him from George Bush; the remainder comes from worsening conditions and the Obama stimulus spending to put people back to work..

Now as the economy verges on a depression, Republicans are indicting Obama for raising spending and deficits. This is like a gambling addict squandering the family fortune in a Las Vegas blowout and then scolding his wife for borrowing money to keep the kids in college. Had Republican leaders any sense of decency, they would just shut up and let adults address the mess they have left.

2. The greater worry in the short-term is that the deficits may be too small, not too large.

We've just suffered what Warren Buffett calls an "economic Pearl Harbor." The accelerating downturn is turning into a global collapse. Consumers are cutting back; businesses laying off workers; exports have plummeted. The Fed has already cut interest rates to near zero. The only thing lifting this economy is deficit spending at the federal level. Senators intoning the comfortable mantras of the last years like Even Bayh can't seem to grasp that we're in a big-time trouble. If we took his advice, and cut federal spending and deficits, it would simply contribute to a downturn that is already the worst since the 1930s.

That's why the high-church of economic conservatism, the International Monetary Fund, is calling on countries across the world to borrow more to stimulate the economy, not less. And that's why all the talk about deficits in the out years -- six, eight, ten years from now -- is simply a dangerous distraction. The Congress isn't passing the budget for a 2019. It is passing one for next year, and it should be spending more, not less, to put people to work and get the economy going. Once the economy recovers, we can act to bring deficits down to a sustainable level.

3. We can afford to take on the debt

Before joining Judd Gregg in rending garments and mumbling darkly about the end of the world, legislators would be well advised to inhale deeply, calm themselves and look around. The Congressional Budget Office predicts budget deficits will total some $9.3 trillion over 10 years (Obama's budget which is more optimistic about the pace of recovery projects $6.97 billion). That's a lot of money.

But this is a very big economy at $15 trillion a year and hopefully soon growing again. Bill Gates undoubtedly carries more debt than I or you do. But the burden of that debt -- the carrying charges in relation to his income or the debt in relation to his assets -- is far less than mine or thine. He can afford to take on more debt.

After years of conservative misrule, the US isn't in as good shape as Bill Gates, but it isn't broke either, particularly in comparison to other industrial nations. The current US public debt is about 40% of our annual economic production (GDP). It's been far higher -- reaching as much as 109% of GDP coming out of World War II. Post-war growth brought the burden down to about 25% GDP until Reagan gave us over to the seductive supply-siders and doubled the debt burden to about 49% GDP. Clinton brought it down to 33% and Bush drove it back up to about 40% even though the economy was growing.

Under Obama's plans, the national debt will rise as a percentage of the economy to about 65-67%. That's a big change. But the reason countries carry low levels of debt is so they can borrow when trouble comes. And this is the mother of all trouble.

But what is notable about that increase is that it will leave the US carrying only about the same debt burden that Germany, France and Canada were carrying -before they began adding to it in the current economic downturn. According the analysis of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2008, Germany's public debt was at 65%, France at 66%, and Canada at 64%. The Italians, always somewhat more fiscally dissolute, were at 106%. Sober Japan, coming out of its lost decade, carried a public debt that was182% of its country GDP.


None of these countries are going bankrupt. The Euro isn't turning into toilet paper. The Japanese haven't boarded up the country. We are urging all of these countries to borrow and spend more to help counter the downturn. We can afford the Obama deficits and more if necessary to lift us out of what looks increasingly like a global depression. (And that's why if the Chinese are looking for a new currency to supplant the dollar, they'll have to invent it.)

4. The most dangerous deficit is our public investment deficit.

Fact is we can't really afford to cut the public investments Obama would make in education, new energy, health care and 21st century infrastructure. For too many years, we've starved basic investments to pay for adventure abroad or top end tax cuts at home. Now we have a national security imperative to invest in new energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and begin to address catastrophic climate change. We can't compete as a high wage economy in a global economy without providing our children with a world-class pre-K to college (or advanced training) education. We must make the changes needed to provide Americans affordable high quality health care while getting health care costs under control. And we've paid the costs everyday of allowing our basic infrastructure to decay -- from unsafe water to gridlocked roads to falling bridges to the outmoded electric grid.

Obama's budget and recovery plans run up deficits to put people back to work while making a down payment on investments vital to our future. His domestic spending plans are, if anything, already too austere, reducing domestic discretionary spending to a lower percentage of the economy than under Reagan or Clinton or the Bushes. He argues correctly that we have to make investments in these areas to move our economy to sustainable growth, and away from the disastrous bubble economy that has now exploded in our faces. It is notable that his Republican critics don't dispute him on this point. They simply stand firm against any tax increases on the wealthy, while calling for cutting spending to reduce the deficits -- without ever offering a budget of their own to let us know exactly what it is they think should be cut.

The lesson? Let's make certain we spend enough to get this economy going. Once we do that, we must guard against making Roosevelt's mistake of trying to balance budgets too quickly, driving the economy back into the pits, as he did in 1937. Ignore the hyperventilating about America's pending bankruptcy. But let's make certain we stop spending money on pig odor, or whatever it is goofy Eric Cantor is whining about.

ytba said...

"I explain how America hatred and Jew hatred are INDEMIC to Modern Liberalism..."

74% of U.S. Jews voted for Barack Obama.
-- stoopid anonymoid psychopath

That's why we call them "self-hating" Jews.

But then if you had been walking around with a target on your back that said "Kill Me" for 3000 years, you might be a little screwed up too. And speaking of "screwed up," just what's YOUR excuse?

Barney Fag - Porker of the Month said...

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has been named “Porker of the Month” by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) because of his criticism of bonuses for AIG employees while Frank himself has supported bailouts for failing banks and lenders.

The CAGW, a non-partisan government watchdog group, noted that Frank has said that AIG’s bonuses only “rewarded failure.” Yet Frank voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program, a financial bailout program with no enforceable strings attached, said the CAGW, and he defended Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while those lending institutions were in financial trouble.

The CAGW noted Frank’s defense of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the years, “even when it became clear that executives at the two giant government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) had manipulated earnings statements and gifted themselves with huge bonuses based on the bogus numbers, misled regulators, and steered the companies into such shoddy condition that they posed a systemic risk to the entire financial system,” said the CAGW statement.

In September 2003, Frank told The New York Times that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “are not facing any kind of financial crisis.” Both Fannie and Freddie are now almost entirely owned by the government, and while Freddie Mac got $13.8 billion in bailout money last year, Fannie Mae is estimated to get $15.2 billion in 2009, according to the CAGW.

Also in 2003, Frank, in reference to the GSEs, said, “I want to roll the dice more in this situation towards subsidized housing.”

“Even in this global capital of hot air, bait-and-switch politics, and double-talk, Chairman Frank deserves singular recognition,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “It strains credulity to hear him rebuking anyone for rewarding failure after he helped create the disaster in the first place.”

Tad DeHaven, a federal budget analyst with the Cato Institute, said that when it comes to issues involving government bailouts of financial titans, Frank has “negative credibility,” so his claims of institutions rewarding failure should be questioned.

“I would call Congressman Frank getting reelected rewarding failure,” DeHaven told CNSNews.com. “If everyone else responsible for this mess in the private sector has to take the fall, I don’t understand why politicians are left out of the equation.”

DeHaven suggested that Frank is only one of too many Capitol Hill legislators eager to push the blame onto Wall Street while quick to dodge taking any blame themselves.

“They love blaming the private sector,” Edmunds said of lawmakers. “But to me, the private sector is barely private since you have this unholy relationship between these businesses and the government. That’s not capitalism, that’s crony capitalism.”

The CAGW says that its “‘Porker of the Month’ is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.”

Lorna Dune said...

Hmmm, what did I stumble in to?

Looks like an anti-semite, homophobic, wing bat operation.

Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Whore Loses Customer:

BREAKING: UPS Announces It Will Stop Advertising On Bill O’Reilly’s Show
In response to our Stop Supporting The O’Reilly Harassment Machine campaign, UPS told us yesterday that it was investigating whether to continue supporting O’Reilly’s show. “We are sensitive to the type of television programming where our messages and presence are associated and continually review choices to affect future decisions,” spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg told us.

Today UPS announced it will stop advertising on O’Reilly’s show. Here is the statement UPS emailed out just moments ago:

Thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O’Reilly show on FOX News. We do consider such comments as we review ad placement decisions which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show.


Thank you UPS! We need more corporate sponsors of O’Reilly to follow UPS’s lead. Let’s keep up the pressure. Please sign onto our campaign and tell your friends to do so as well:

Melvin said...

Typo! (I'm too lazy to find an email)

http://evansayet.com/home.htm#

"Watch as Sayet brilliantly proves that the modern Liberal invariably must choose: Evil or Good. Wrong over Right."

Love the original work. The insights are amazing. Congratulations on the well deserved success with it.

another corrupt democrat fails the sniff test said...

On March 25, yet another Obama administration nominee was forced to withdraw under a cloud of scandal. Jon Cannon had been President Barack Obama’s choice to become second in command at the Environmental Protection Agency. But the appointment has been scuttled by allegations of financial “irregularities” at the now-defunct America’s Clean Water Foundation, on whose board Cannon once served.


Two days later, the administration was hit with another personnel problem. One of the country’s main bank regulators, Scott Polakoff, was forced to take an open-ended “leave of absence” from the Treasury Department after internal audits suggested that he allowed financial institutions like IndyMac and AIG to exaggerate their balance sheets – in effect, to cook the books – a failure of oversight that contributed to the current financial meltdown. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Budget Committee on March 3 that American International Group (AIG) “exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system” and that “there was no oversight of the Financial Products division,” an indictment that would seem to fall on Polakoff, who was second-in-command at the Treasury Department unit known as the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).

time to "amend" her nomination said...

Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama's nominee to become Health and Human Services secretary, said in a letter obtained by the Associated Press that she made "unintentional errors" on her taxes and has corrected her returns from three different years.

In the letter, which was sent to senators and dated today, Sebelius wrote that she had made changes related to charitable contributions, business expenses and the sale of a home, according to the AP.

The wire service reports that she and her husband paid just over $7,000 in back taxes, along with $878 in interest, for the years 2005-2007.

CBS News has obtained Sebelius' letter to the Senate Finance Committee. She writes in it that she and her husband hired a Certified Public Accountant to review their returns after her nomination and that the CPA uncovered the errors, after which they amended their returns.

On the charitable contributions front, she writes that she could not locate three acknowledgment letters out of her 49 charitable contributions in excess of $250, and thus eliminated those three deductions.

She also writes that she had "insufficient documentation" for some of her tax dedications for business expenses, though because of the Alternative Minimum Tax they did not affect the amount owed. She also said she mistakenly paid off a home loan that included deductable mortgage interest.

koh's gotta go! said...

Former Clinton administration official Harold Koh, who has been dean of the Yale Law School since 2004, once wrote that the U.S. was part of an "axis of disobedience" with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Koh also has long held that the U.S. should accept international law when deliberating cases at home.

Obama nominated Koh on March 23 to become the State Department's legal adviser -- an appointment that, if confirmed by the Senate, will give Koh far-reaching influence over the extent to which international norms affect U.S. law.

Anonymous said...

Poll: Obama at 66 percent, Michelle at 76 percent

President Barack Obama holds a healthy 66 percent job approval rating in the latest national ABC News/Washington Post poll, but the president's positives trail those of his better half by 10 percent.

Michelle Obama scored a 76 percent approval rating in the survey, up 28 percent from last summer.

Despite the continuing recession, 60 percent of those surveyed approve how Obama
is handling the economy. Fifty-two percent approved of the president's approach to the deficit.

"At this early stage in his presidency, Obama continues to benefit from a broadly held perception that others should bear the bulk of responsibility for the severe economic problems that confront his administration," the Post concluded.

And despite concerted attacks by conservative media -- such as non-stop anti-Obama propaganda on Fox News -- only a quarter of those surveyed blame the president and his advisers for America's economic doldrums.

In assessing blame for America's economic doldrums, 80 percent of those polled said they put "a great deal" or a "good amount" of blame on banks and other major financial institutions for taking irresponsible risks. The same percentage blamed corporations for faulty management decisions.

Only 42 percent of those in the nationwide survey feel America is "on the right track." Still, the figure continues to climb.

The right-track figure stood at just 15 percent in December, rose to 19 percent in January, but has since risen to 31 percent (February) and is up another 11 points in the latest poll. Fifty-seven percent still feel the nation is moving on the wrong track.

According to the poll, 64 percent of Americans have confidence that Obama's economic policies will improve the sagging economy, a figure that is down from 72 percent before he took office.

A similar confidence figure for President Reagan, at this point in his presidency, stood at 52 percent.

With trips, town meetings, news conferences and interviews, Obama appears to have helped shape a positive image.

The ABC/Post poll asked which statement "comes closer to your view": a) Obama is an old-style tax-and-spend Democrat, or b) Obama is a new-style Democrat who will be careful with the public's money."

Sixty-two percent of those polled opted for the "new style" description, just 32 percent saying the president is "old-style."

The public split almost evenly on the question of whether America is making "significant progress" in Afghanistan. Obama has announced increases in U.S. troop strength as well as civilian advisers in the Central Asian country.

A total of 45 percent agreed the U.S. is making significant progress, while 47 percent said no. Eight percent of those polled had no opinion.

The telephone poll of 1,000 randomly selected adults. It was conducted Thursday through Sunday, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Anonymous said...

Norm Coleman's a sore loser. Why won't the press say so?

by Eric Boehlert

Any day now, a three-judge panel in Minnesota will rule on Norm Coleman's lawsuit to overturn the results of the state's Senate election recount, which was completed in January. The complete hand recount concluded that the incumbent Republican lost to challenger Al Franken by 225 votes. Coleman demanded a full court case; today, almost nobody, including Coleman's own attorney, thinks the Republican will prevail in the judges' upcoming ruling, which follows a tedious seven-week trial.

End of story, and after a drawn-out, 18-week process, Franken will finally be seated in the U.S. Senate, right? Wrong. If Franken prevails as expected before the three-judge panel, Coleman will then have 10 days to file yet another appeal, this one to the Minnesota Supreme Court. If Coleman loses there as well, Republican leaders in Congress are encouraging him to not give up his legal challenge and take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could create a scenario in which the Minnesota election might not get decided until the fall -- almost a year after voters went to the polls -- even if the Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal.

As we discovered in Florida back in 2000, the U.S. election system is hardly perfect. And when contests are extraordinarily close and invite unprecedented scrutiny, questions always arise. But states do their best to ensure accuracy, and in the end, even in ridiculously narrow contests, a winner has to be declared and the loser has to accept defeat.

Except, apparently, in Minnesota, where Coleman has adopted the rather unique strategy of litigating his case indefinitely, thereby preventing Democrats from seating their 59th member in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to cut off filibusters. Meaning, the battle for Franken's seat not only remains a news curiosity, but in terms of politics and power, it's a very big deal and has attracted nationwide press attention.

Coleman, of course, has the right to appeal his case, just as other suspicious second-place candidates have done in the past. What seems to be unique is this case, though, is how so much of the press coverage has politely refrained from suggesting that Coleman's a sore loser for adopting his marathon litigation approach.

Traditionally, candidates who lost and cried foul had a rather short window to prove their case before the media lost patience and started calling the candidate out as petulant and self-involved. Just ask Al Gore, who was hounded in the press by the specter of the "sore loser" label practically from the moment he withdrew his concession in the early morning hours following Election Day. I doubt a day went by during the Florida recount when there wasn't a "sore loser" reference to Gore in the press. (In Nexis, I found nearly 900 "sore loser" press mentions in Gore articles between November and December 2000.)

For some reason, Coleman has been able to mostly avoid the dreaded "sore loser" label, one that can be a career-killer for any politician. Instead, the press has largely given Coleman and his Republican supporters an open canvas on which to operate. (A Nexis search finds just a handful of "sore loser" media mentions regarding Coleman since November.) As Coleman and his attorneys look over their recount legal options, they in no way have to be concerned about or factor into play the potential "sore loser" meme that could do real damage to his effort. They can play hardball with impunity because they're getting a free pass from the press.

The strange part is that Coleman's getting that press pass even though some members of the Republican Party have been brazenly open in discussing the Minnesota case in terms of a blatant stall campaign specifically designed to thwart Democrats from securing the critical 59th seat in the U.S. Senate. (A quirk in Minnesota election law means Franken, the state's winner to date, cannot be seated in the Senate while Coleman's appeals process plays out in Minnesota courts.)

"The battle in Washington is real. Every day in the Senate without Al Franken is a great day," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently told a Tulsa audience. Politico reported that Republicans back the idea of Coleman appealing his case indefinitely because "a long fight is worth it if it keeps Franken from becoming the 59th Senate Democrat, which would give President Barack Obama a huge advantage over the next two years."

Even when Republicans cast the litigation marathon as a way to simply freeze out Franken, the press and its army of commentators remain distant, reluctant to cast aspersions on Coleman's rope-a-dope campaign. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article on the delays ("Minnesota Senate Standoff Plays Into GOP's Hands") seemed to tip its hat to Republicans for so effectively stymieing Democrats [emphasis added]:

Four months after Election Day, the fight over Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat drags on with no clear end in sight. And that may be working to the Republicans' advantage. Party leaders say they are digging in for a prolonged legal process, keeping Democrats from claiming a seat they think is theirs -- and hampering the majority party's ability to push through its agenda.

[...]

But Republicans can claim a kind of strategic victory by blocking the Democratic former comedian's path to the Senate, which requires 60 votes to pass controversial items.

Only in the article's final paragraph did the Journal even hint that Coleman's marathon appeal process might -- just might -- have a political downside.

I think the free pass from the press has emboldened the Minnesota Republican and his army of attorneys in recent weeks. It's emboldened them precisely because there seems to be nothing they can do that will spark a "sore loser" backlash. For instance, earlier this month, Coleman's lawyers, after suffering a number of courtroom setbacks, wrote to the three-judge panel asking it to take the extraordinary step of setting aside the November vote and basically having the state, four months after the fact, revote. Claiming it would be impossible for the judges to pick a winner, Coleman's legal team suddenly wanted to start from scratch.

The ploy was a stunner and may have redefined election season chutzpah: It would have been like Gore's attorneys suddenly asking for a complete Florida revote amidst their oral arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"[Y]owza!" Twittered ABC's Jake Tapper when reading the Coleman news. But interestingly, the Coleman call for a revote received very little attention (i.e. actual press coverage) inside the Beltway, and very few in the press treated the request as unusual, let alone borderline bizarre.

For the three days following Coleman's jaw-dropping request, the news received no coverage in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, or USA Today. Coleman's request was all the more amazing considering there is there no mechanism or precedent under Minnesota law to allow for such an event. (Only the U.S. Senate could approve a total revote for Minnesota.)

The Hail Mary received zero network television news coverage and garnered just a passing reference on cable news, which came on MSNBC's Hardball. (At least that was the only cable reference found on Nexis; not every cable show's transcripts are archived there.) Even more incredibly, while discussing Coleman's extraordinary do-over request, the Hardball guests focused on Franken's reportedly low approval ratings among Minnesota voters. In other words, they wondered how Coleman's drawn-out election lawsuit was hurting Franken's reputation.

But imagine if the roles were reversed and Franken, the Democrat and former comedian (the press loves to stress that fact), had pulled a last-minute, let's-change-the-rules stunt while his attorneys plotted out even more long-shot legal appeals. I suspect that not only would the story have been thoroughly chewed over by Beltway scribes, but the media disdain would have been unmistakable and unvarnished.

Just ask Al Gore. In 2000, during the contentious recount process in Florida, the press made it abundantly plain that Gore not only faced an uphill battle winning the recount, but that he ran the risk of being dubbed a sore loser, a risk that had to weigh heavily into his recount strategy. The legal action surrounding Florida lasted just five weeks -- compared with the almost 20 weeks already taken up by the Minnesota wrangling -- but the "sore loser" meme was everywhere:

"By energetically pressing that point, Republicans said they hoped to convey that Mr. Bush's ascent to the White House was inevitable -- and that sore losers in the vice president's camp were trying to steal the election from him." [The New York Times, 11/9/2000]
"Mr. Bush's advisers accused the Gore campaign of playing fast and loose with the facts of the disputed vote in Florida, and they came to a news conference here armed with voter registration statistics, visual aids and pointed implications that Vice President Al Gore and his allies were acting like sore losers." [The New York Times, 11/10/2000]
"In announcing that they would contest election results in Miami-Dade County (and perhaps elsewhere) in court, as allowed under Florida law, Mr. Gore's lawyers risked making Mr. Gore look, at least in legal terms, like the one thing he had struggled for days not to be seen as: a sore loser." [The New York Times, 11/24/2000]
" In blunt, often brutal language reminiscent of the rhetoric aimed at President Clinton during his impeachment and trial, Gore is portrayed as a win-at-any-cost sore loser with a penchant for lying and a death wish for his party." [The Washington Post, 11/30/2000]
"Republicans are already undertaking a public relations counteroffensive that will portray Gore as the ultimate sore loser." [The Washington Post, 11/27/2000]
"But the official said the manual recounts must show a steady, even if slow, net gain in newfound votes for Gore. Otherwise, momentum will fade and Gore's continued legal battles will seem the desperate grasps of a sore loser." [The Washington Post, 11/17/2000]
And that was just a portion of the Times and Post news coverage. Everywhere Gore turned in late 2000, the press was warning him about the dangers of becoming (or being seen as) a sore loser. Either that, or the press was constantly reminding the public about how Republicans wanted to portray the Democrat. (Via the press, of course.)

Yet in all of their Coleman coverage since Election Day, neither the Post nor the Times has ever published the phrase "sore loser" in connection to the endless Minnesota litigation. And that's been the media rule in print and television. It's simply not something that Coleman or Republicans have to concern themselves with, which in turn provides them with enormous wiggle room for upcoming appeals.

If Coleman soon suffers yet another recount loss and appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court, will the press finally dip its toe into the sore loser pool? What if Coleman loses at the Minnesota Supreme Court in April or May and then appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could then tie up the Senate seat into next year? Will the press then suggest Coleman and Republicans are sore losers?

Is there any point along Coleman's unprecedented litigious path at which the press will apply the same standard to a Republican that it applied to a Democrat?

truth in polling revelation... said...

WASHINGTON -- Most media polls are showing President Obama's job approval in the 59 percent to mid-60 percent range, but not pollster John Zogby, who says Obama's rating has dipped below 50 percent.

Contrary to many of the other major presidential surveys such as the venerable Gallup Poll, which puts Obama's number at around 60 percent or higher, Zogby's poll (mid-March) showed that Obama's job performance fell. His findings are significant for a number of definitional reasons and are worth a closer look.

In his most recent survey, the pollster said that "49 percent rate his job performance as excellent or good, and 50 percent as fair or poor (less than 1 percent were not sure). That is a dip of 3 points from the previous poll," Zogby said last week.

Anonymous said...

New poll spells doom for Obama?
Nah, not really…

By Jimmy Orr

“Put on your Sunday best kids, we’re going to Sears.”

Those were the words of Mike Brady to all the Brady bunch when they set out to celebrate. Perhaps that’s what some Republicans are doing this morning with word of a new poll showing President Obama’s number slipping — dramatically.

The Boston Herald, reports that a Zogby poll shows President Obama with only a 50 percent approval rating.

“The honeymoon is over, a national poll will signal today as President Obama’s job approval stumbles to about 50 percent over the lack of improvement with the crippled economy.”

Doom

That means doom and despair for the president, right? And for the terrifying news to come up on the day he addresses the nation. Perhaps he’s going to have to roll out the teleprompter after all.

Nah, not really.

Why? Four words: It’s a Zogby poll.

Wrong

Nothing against Zogby polls. But as Comedy Central wrote last year (and you can quote Comedy Central if they’re right), “Zogby polls are always wrong.”

The left and the right will tell you the same thing.

Right

Although Glenn Reynolds touts the poll with only minor trepidation today, last August he was more blunt in his critique of Zogby reliability.

“Bad news for Obama: McCain Makes a Move, Takes 5-Point Lead Over Obama. … The good news for Obama: It’s a Zogby poll . . . .”

Left

Oliver Willis, in his entertaining “Like kryptonite to stupid” blog, provides his perspective.

“A Zogby poll is like Jim Cramer telling you to buy Bear Stearns but even less accurate,” he writes.

Zogby

Although the poll hasn’t been released yet, Zogby told the Herald that Obama’s recent gaffes aren’t the reason for the dip. It was more of a “combination of high expectations and that things aren’t moving fast enough with the economy,” he said.

Other polls

To be fair, it could be right. Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. And inevitably his numbers will go down. They always do. This poll just doesn’t sync up with others.

Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll shows the president enjoys a 56 percent approval rating. Gallup and CBS show a 65 and 64 percent approval rating for the president respectively.

Anonymous said...

From the Weekly Standard:

"News of the low approval number in the Zogby poll spread quickly among bloggers. But Nate Silver over at Fivethirtyeight.com was not impressed with the new survey: “The Worst Pollster in the World Strikes Again,” he wrote. Silver penned his piece before the poll was released, but raises some questions about the methodology and Zogby’s track record with internet polls here.

Charles Franklin, writing at Pollster.com, puts the Zogby poll into a little more context. Franklin notes –- correctly I would add –- that the Zogby poll needs to be compared with daily tracking surveys like Gallup, Rasmussen and other non-daily national polls to get a fuller perspective. Looking at the chart Franklin constructs, Zogby is clearly an outlier compared to other polls."

Anonymous said...

Chris WeigantAuthor, Political
Posted April 1, 2009
Obama Declares Himself President-For-Life (no fooling!)

I, President Obama, have taken this opportunity to speak to all of America. Because I'd like to make a confession to everyone. While my efforts at reaching out across the aisle in Washington have been mixed, at best, I have to admit that my efforts at reaching out to the mainstream media have been somewhat less successful. So, in order to lay to rest some rumors and downright conspiracy theories, and in a sincere effort to shelter the media from the embarrassment their unfounded stories have undoubtedly caused them, I'd like to come right out and admit a few things to everyone.

To begin with, my Inauguration speech was horrible. Boy, that was an absolute stinker of a speech, huh? About the only thing worse was Aretha Franklin's hat, right? And when I gave the speech, although only a few right-winger pundits picked up on it, when I said I valued "hard work," that was actually code, which hid the fact that I am really a secret conservative.

Yes, it's true. As we all know, liberals never did a stick of work in their lives, and so I was truly speaking to my natural constituency there -- conservatives.

But that's not all. I am also a secret shill for Wall Street bankers, whom I love more than my own children. I personally approved each and every one of their bonuses, even the ones that happened before I took office. I also gave them all a personal and individual pat on the back for their efforts to destroy the American economy. Because, I am a secret Socialist, and want to destroy capitalism in America... by giving the capitalists more and more money.

If this sounds confusing, I'm sorry, but it truly is a grand design of a plan to secretly obliterate everything that every American holds dear. You will just have to bear with me, as I admit to all the sins the media has accused me of, in order to validate the media's own enormous and outrageous salaries and bonuses.

At the same time (I know this gets confusing, but please, bear with me until the end), I have moved forward on my secret plan to destroy all American business by signing a law which gave women the right to sue when they are paid less than men. This will bring American business to its knees, because -- secretly -- I am a Socialist.

Also, by the way, I am a stooge for former Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich. I get all my marching orders from him. And I bought and paid for the successor to my Senate seat from Blago. It was all worked out long before last year's election. I raked in a profit on that deal, as did Blaggy. See, we're such good friends that I call him "Blaggy," and he doesn't even mind.

I am also, I have to admit, a secret Populist. I have had my operatives fanning out across America, stoking populist rage amongst the people, which all fits into my Master Plan to pass a constitutional amendment to assure that CEOs get paid 500 times what an average worker makes, forever. If this is all a bit confusing, I beg you, bear with me until you can see the "Big Picture" here.

Part of this plan was to bankrupt the Treasury by replanting the grass on the National Mall in D.C. Again, this will all make sense in the end. The stimulus plan was actually a step towards the United Socialist Republics Of America. Also, I am secretly forcing all Republicans to kowtow to Rush Limbaugh, just to make them look silly. And you don't want to know how I have the leverage to do so, you'll just have to trust me on this one.

During the campaign, I secretly promised America that I would do nothing -- not a single thing -- unless it met the media's definition of "bipartisanship," which appears to be: "what Rush Limbaugh agrees with." I really did promise over and over again on the campaign trail (although you may not have noticed it, because it was secret) not to push for any bill in Congress that did not have at least 80 or 90 percent support from the Republicans, but you can't possibly remember this, because I have wiped all your minds with my anti-memory ray which our conquering overlords from Planet ZX-12 gave me.

Whoops! Wasn't supposed to say that... ahem... give me a minute here... [ZZZAP!] OK, forget you heard that last bit, OK?

As I was saying, I am moving forward on my plan to destroy the middle class of America by giving 95 percent of all workers a big tax cut. This will all become clear, I promise, by the end. You see, I'm secretly waging class warfare. By capping all executive pay in America, and secretly rewriting every single worker's employment contract, even though they are sacred for everyone (except auto workers, of course). Because I am a secret Socialist. Except, of course, for those who belong to existing unions. I know, this is confusing, and I apologize for it.

Except when I am a secret Capitalist, bailing out undeserving Wall Street CEOs, and forcing Joe The Plumber to pay for it all. Speaking of Wall Street, I am (of course) personally responsible for the market's fall. Except, of course, I am not responsible at all when the market goes up, since that is a subject which isn't even newsworthy enough to mention, in the midst of a recession. Because I am betting on the failure of the American economy. Yes, it's true, I am actually a Marxist.

I am also secretly working with Rush Limbaugh to insure the failure of the American economy. He has his reasons, I have mine. Mine are the total dismantling of American capitalism, and ushering in the horrible, horrible European-style Socialism (where nobody ever goes bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills -- what sort of Hell on Earth is that?).

I only appoint people to my administration who have never ever paid any income taxes whatsoever. Leona Helmsley is our model, when vetting important positions here.

I secretly hate bipartisanship. This may shock you, but I really do. I personally forced every House Republican to vote against my stimulus package, and had to fight hard with some of them -- who put America's economic future above partisanship -- but in the end, I had my way, and convinced them all to vote against it. My presidency is an abject failure because I keep passing bill after bill with no Republican support whatsoever.

Except on the bills half the Republicans vote for, but I don't worry about them -- because the media never points them out. Such massive, massive bipartisanship actually embarrasses me, so I'm quite happy that the media don't point them out. Whew! Because bipartisanship is "Issue Number One" for all Americans, rating consistently higher on poll after poll than "getting something done." American voters are actually insulted when Democrats pass bill after bill to put America back on track, because of the lack of bipartisanship. Ask around in any coffee shop in the country, you'll hear that outcry for bipartisanship over the laughably inadequate "getting something done" nonsense I and my fellow Democrats are peddling.

As president, my paltry poll numbers prove that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are truly the puppeteers who are pulling my strings. I can barely hold on to two-thirds of the entire country who think I'm doing a good job, which is just absolutely disgraceful, especially when stacked up against my predecessors' ratings. A mere two-thirds of the country agrees with what I'm doing! I look at poll after poll after poll, and that number refuses to change. It stays rock-steady at a pathetic sixty-percent-plus, much to my dismay. I hang my head in shame.

I am also ashamed at getting my stimulus bill passed so quickly. Republicans, those masters of bipartisanship, offered their sincere efforts to delay this bill for months and months, and -- I admit -- I ignored them. As a consequence, this bill was passed so fast that the media did not have time to fully rant and rave over it, as they are so used to doing. I offer my apology to them, for ruining their twelve-part series: "Why Obama is diminished and powerless as a president." Secretly, of course, I agreed with them and celebrate every job lost in America, since it will make it easier, in the end, to implement my master plan of Socialism-in-America.

Also, contrary to my public statements on my plan to institute some sort of safety net for the foreclosure crisis, I secretly want every American to lose their home. I am working night and day on this, secretly, with ACORN, who is also doing their best to destroy free elections across the country (in their spare time).

My health care plans, developed secretly, will bar one and all from ever seeing their family doctor ever again. We will round up anyone who has ever referred to themselves as "family doctors" in a camp in Wyoming, and it's best you don't ask what is going to happen to them. Because they our are biggest bar towards instituting not only socialized medicine, but government-run medicine, where you will have to fill out a twelve-page form every time any member of your family opens an aspirin bottle in your medicine cabinet.

I have been spending and (of course, just ask the mainstream media) actually losing political capital with every step I have taken. My political capital has gone from having two-thirds of the country behind me... to having only a paltry two-thirds of the country behind me. This reckless "spending" of my political capital will leave me "bankrupt" of political capital in a few weeks, because I put all my political capital in a fund run by Bernie Madoff. So (for all but the two-thirds of America who is behind me, no matter what inane story the media obsesses over), I am absolutely bereft of such political capital, and I had better follow the media's lead on what to obsess over from now on.

Speaking of losing political capital, the Democratic Party is in danger of disappearing altogether. There is absolutely no party unity, and there are massive, massive fights within the party, as evidenced by vote after vote in Congress where they all vote for my plans. The Republican Party is not -- I repeat not -- in a struggle of trainwreck proportions right now; it is actually the Democratic Party who cannot seem to agree on anything (other than when they all vote together in Congress for my agenda, of course).

I am secretly an ultra-liberal, I have to admit at this point. I am absolutely committed to abject failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, as evidenced by all those neo-cons who are now agreeing with me. I also secretly sabotaged Bobby Jindal's speech, by forcing him to talk about volcano monitoring. And I, heartless beast that I am, forced Sarah Palin to actually sell her Naughty Monkey shoes on eBay.

I am secretly a big fan of earmarks. Especially earmarks sponsored by Republicans who then vote against them. Secretly (oh, so secretly) on the campaign trail, I actually agreed with John McCain (although I did it secretly enough that nobody ever actually quoted me doing so) that I would veto any earmark ever presented to me. The American people are turning on me in big numbers, because of the blatant hypocrisy I showed in not living up to my opponent's promises on the campaign trail on earmarks. And I lost such a massive amount of political capital by doing so that my approval rates actually tanked, from two-thirds approval -- to a shameful and pathetic two-thirds approval.

I am also secretly plotting, daily, to pass the agenda that I hid from the American people by telling them exactly what I would do if elected, every chance I got on the campaign trail. This is part of my Grand Secret Plan for America, which I kept a secret by talking about it with every opportunity I had. I know this is mystifying to the mainstream media, since they never take any politician's words seriously, but this is (of course) all part of my Grand Design.

Part of this, of course, is forcing Republican governors (over their strident objections) to accept stimulus money so their states don't go bankrupt. I did this by waterboarding them, until they agreed to save their own rear ends by accepting this free money.

The next stage in my plot to usher in Socialism in America is Obamacare, where I allow government plans to compete with private health insurance. This will, of course, force all Americans to wait 18 months to get a doctor's appointment for a flu shot. All part of my plan.

My secret gay agenda is to force everyone (of same sex) in the military to have sex with each other, to destroy America's armed forces.

The media is correct, of course (how could they ever be wrong in any way?). I am simply trying to do too much. I am so incompetent that I cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. I want it all, and I want it now. I can never ever succeed with any part of any of my massively overwhelming plans, because it is all just too much for any man to concentrate on. Washington will never progress, especially if I don't take months and months on one single issue, giving the opposition plenty of time to shoot my ideas down and rally public support against me. It is foolish for me to try to do more than my opposition can handle, because the American people will be really really upset with me if I deliver on any part (let alone any major part) of the things I have promised them.

I'm truly, truly sorry for the bipartisan votes I have managed to get in Congress, because it goes against the media narrative that I secretly hate bipartisanship. I personally engineered this embarrassment just to make the media look bad, and not to actually get something done in a bipartisan fashion.

I cannot get my message out whatsoever, as the media has so accurately pointed out. While it may seem confusing, I am also dangerously over-exposed in the media, which means I run the risk of my message being heard by far, far too many people.

I am trying to do too much, most of which is secret. Part of this secret plan is to force the Republicans to become the "Party of No" so that they may reinvent themselves as the stalwart champions who are resisting progress and success at every turn. This may sound confusing, but it will all become clear in the 2012 election, trust me.

I am trying to do too much, and Americans hate it. They hated my Leno and ESPN appearances, and are getting tired of me. They can't stand me. Except, of course, for the two-thirds who still support me.

And it goes without saying that I hate the Special Olympics, and the entire Kennedy extended family.

In fact, I have a massive admission to make. I am actually a very bad public speaker. I cannot manage to put together an English sentence without the "crutch" of a TelePrompTer handy. This is proven out by my use of such in my last press conference, where I used a TelePrompTer for eight minutes -- eight whole minutes -- before answering questions off the top of my head, with no TelePrompTer, from the White House press corps for another fifty-two minutes, of course.

I am also guilty of secretly forcing Americans to do math, by releasing a budget with actual numbers in it. I now see that the Republicans are much smarter than I, since they released their budget plan with absolutely zero numbers in it. I am obviously asking too much from the country by using "facts" and "numbers" in my budget, and will refrain from doing so in the future.

And, contrary to my recent comments, I have a secret plan to legalize not only marijuana but also all other drugs, and sell them to your nine-year-old daughter. After offering her a free sample, of course.

I also have a secret plan to let Portuguese secret agents into the White House, in the form of our daughters' new dog. I apologize profusely for this lapse.

I can fully admit now that I stole the primary elections, and faked that whole "landslide" thing in the general election as well. Also, I wasn't both in Hawai'i, but rather in Kenya. I was college roommates with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, as well, and we're still good buddies to this day.

My wife also hates America, which she secretly semaphores by her sleeveless outfits.

Also, I'm secretly a Muslim. Death to America!

With the powers vested in me by George Bush's secret orders, I am now declaring myself "President-For-Life," and hereby order all those who voted against me to report to the following regional re-education centers (I completely reject the term "concentration camps," because it just doesn't sound "hopeful" enough) by sundown tonight...."

At this point, I really woke up. And, after shutting the clock radio off, I took a look at the calendar.

But, although another April Fool's Day had dawned, I thought about it, and wondered (since the media had pushed each and every one of these narratives, in some form or another, in the past few weeks), who really is fooling whom?

Anonymous said...

A few days before the election, Zogby said Mccain was leading Obama.

Anonymous said...

A quote from Zogby:

“I’m asked all the time will America ever have a third political party. And I say yes. Watch the Republican Party they’re on their way to becoming America’s third Party.”

Anonymous said...

Poll: Obama not blamed for sour economy

WASHINGTON, March 31 (UPI) -- The majority of Americans asked blame the financial industry, not President Barack Obama, for the economic turmoil, poll results released Tuesday indicate.

Eighty percent of those surveyed in The Washington Post-ABC News poll said they put a "great deal" or a "good amount" of blame on banks and other financial institutions for taking unnecessary risks. Roughly the same percentage blame large corporations for poor management decisions. About 7-in-10 said they blame consumers for overextending themselves financially and the Bush administration for not vigorously regulating the financial industry.

Two-thirds of Americans indicated approve of the way Obama is handling the country's top job, and 6-in-10 give him good marks his response to the flagging economy, the Post poll said. Although lower than in previous polls, 52 percent favor Obama on his approach to the deficit.

The percentage of Americans quizzed who said the country is on the right track is 42 percent, the highest percentage to say so in five years, pollsters said. Fifty-seven percent said they think the nation is moving on the wrong track.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Thursday through Sunday. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Anonymous said...

Poll Shows Anger at Business, Strong Support for Obama

By Peter Brown

Despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to calm the populist rhetoric, Americans remain mad as hell and want to vent their anger on corporations, the wealthy, and anyone else they see as privileged.

Given the public’s mood, it should be no surprise that the most recent Republican anti-Obama strategy isn’t working.

In fact, what we are seeing in public opinion polls is a wave of populism that shows no sign of cresting. It is likely to remain high, and perhaps grow, in the short term as the government goes ahead with expensive efforts to rescue banks and salvage auto companies.

Consider this: Four out of five voters think politicians in Washington, D.C., should limit the pay of executives at companies that get federal bailout money. Three in 10 voters embrace the historically un-American notion that government should control the pay for executives of firms that don’t get any cash from Uncle Sam — the kind of trust in government over the private sector that only a few years ago would have seemed laughable. The sentiment may be unprecedented, but so too is the federal assistance to private industries to keep them in business

Anonymous said...

House GOP Offers More Detailed Alternative Budget Plan
Revision Proposes Deep Tax Cuts and Slash in Medicare, Medicaid Programs

By Lori Montgomery

After getting blasted last week for presenting a budget plan light on details, House Republicans today unveiled a more complete proposal that would cut taxes for business and the wealthy, freeze most government spending for five years, halt spending approved in the economic stimulus package and slash federal health programs for the poor and elderly.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, said the plan would stabilize the rising national debt by requiring the nation to borrow about $6 trillion during the next 10 years, $3.3 trillion less than would be required under the budget request submitted by President Obama.

Annual deficits also would be slightly lower than under the revised budget plans that emerged last week from the House and Senate Budget committees. The revised Democratic proposals would require the nation to borrow about $4 trillion during the next five years, compared with $3.1 trillion in new borrowing under the GOP alternative.

Still, the national debt would continue to climb under the GOP plan, topping out at around 75 percent of the economy, Ryan said -- an improvement over Obama's proposal but a good deal higher than the 40 percent debt the nation was running before the recession began.


The proposal comes as the House and Senate debate Obama's $3.5 trillion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins in October. Leaders in both chambers expect the Obama plan to pass easily when final votes are held by the end of the week.

While the minority party in Congress typically offers an alternative budget plan that is widely ignored, this year's proposal has drawn fresh attention thanks to the scathing GOP criticism of Obama's budget plans and the president's challenge to the GOP to offer a constructive alternative.

Republicans cast their budget plan as just that, with Ryan saying it offers "lower spending, lower deficits, lower debt and more jobs." But Democrats argued that the proposal relies on massive cuts to social programs that even many Republicans would have a hard time approving.

"What they're proposing far exceeds anything proposed before and would require deep and eviscerating cuts," said Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Added House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): "It's hard to believe you can get to where they say they're going to get to without doing some things the American people would reject."

Anonymous said...

Big McConnell supporter is known as 'The Vulture'

The third-largest campaign donor for Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a $14 billion New York City hedge-fund firm led by a man — nicknamed "the Vulture" — who squeezes distressed companies and countries for their last dollars, and who boasted that the current U.S. economic crisis is "the opportunity of a lifetime."

Paul E. Singer and his employees at Elliott Management gave $87,500 to McConnell's campaign as of June 30, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. They gave at least $66,000 more to McConnell's political action committee, called Bluegrass PAC.

Only Louisville-based Kindred Healthcare, which runs nursing homes and hospitals, and UBS, a global provider of financial services for wealthy clients, gave more to keep McConnell in the Senate.

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McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, supported much of the agenda for which records show that Elliott lobbied Congress, including limits on the damages injured people can recover when they sue corporations; new bankruptcy rules making it harder for people to escape debt; and a bar against higher taxes for wealthy hedge fund managers.

another obama campaign lie exposed said...

WASHINGTON (AP) - One of President Barack Obama's campaign pledges on taxes went up in puffs of smoke Wednesday.

The largest increase in tobacco taxes took effect despite Obama's promise not to raise taxes of any kind on families earning under $250,000 or individuals under $200,000.

This is one tax that disproportionately affects the poor, who are more likely to smoke than the rich.

To be sure, Obama's tax promises in last year's campaign were most often made in the context of income taxes. Not always.

"I can make a firm pledge," he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

He repeatedly vowed "you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime."

Now in office, Obama, who stopped smoking but has admitted he slips now and then, signed a law raising the tobacco tax nearly 62 cents on a pack of cigarettes, to $1.01. Other tobacco products saw similarly steep increases.

Obama enslaves USA to China for 1 year said...

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.

New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Pay no attention to the GOP "power grab" behind the curtain

This week, conservative media figures bombarded the media landscape with accusations that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's proposal to allow the government to take over nonbank financial institutions amounted to a massive White House "power grab." A chilling accusation to be sure, especially when one considers the unprecedented abuses of power that occurred on President Bush's watch. In the words of Fox News' Sean Hannity, Geithner's plan is "the single biggest power grab and move toward socialism in the history of the country."

Others in the media uncritically cited such conservative claims, including House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) charge that Geithner's proposal constitutes "an unprecedented grab of power," despite the fact that the budget blueprint released by House Republicans, including Boehner, contained a call for "a process to address insolvent institutions that stops throwing good money after bad into failing institutions and places insolvent ones into temporary receivership." The GOP's proposal raises the question of whether the media, which reported ad nauseam on the charge that Geithner and the White House are engaging in a "power grab" by asking Congress for this authority, will now note that the same House Republican caucus that made the charge has now proposed giving the federal government similar authority. Hypocrisy, anyone?

Of course, the central question remains: How can it possibly be a power "grab" if the Obama administration is seeking this authority from Congress -- a coequal branch of government?

Where's W? The disappearing of a president

Like last week, much of the coverage this week of the AIG executive bonuses was devoid of any mention of the Bush administration's role in the controversy. A USA Today/Gallup poll question about who was to blame for the AIG bonuses conveniently left out the Bush administration as a possible response, despite the administration's decision to give AIG billions in aid without requiring that the company withhold the bonuses. Similarly, a Wall Street Journal article about Geithner and his aides' involvement in decisions about AIG's bonus payments did not note that it was the Bush administration that negotiated a November 2008 stock purchase agreement with AIG through which the Bush Treasury Department injected $40 billion into the company without requiring that the bonus contracts be nullified.

Worse yet, the conservative Washington Times took things a step further, reporting GOP criticism of Democrats over the AIG bonus issue and quoting a Republican strategist asserting: "This is not something [Democrats] can point to George Bush. ... They own the issue of giving bonuses to the AIG executives." Glaringly absent was any mention that the $53 million in AIG bonuses that the article mentioned were reportedly paid out under the Bush administration or that a Bush-appointed special inspector general for TARP has stated that the Bush Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their cancellation as a condition of AIG's receiving bailout money.

For the media, laughter is not the best medicine

Media Matters for America this week released a compelling online video, titled "Infectious Laughter: The Epidemiology of a Smear," that demonstrates in detail how the conservative echo chamber operates, using President Obama's interview with Steve Kroft on CBS' 60 Minutes from last weekend as a case study. Echoing a March 22 Politico article, discussion of Obama's laughter was hyped by the Drudge Report. Additionally, the March 23 editions of several morning news shows featured segments on Obama's laughter during the interview. The segments, which aired on NBC's Today, MSNBC's Morning Joe, MSNBC Live, and Fox News' Fox & Friends, are reminiscent of the media's echoing of the Drudge Report, among others, in seizing on Hillary Clinton's laugh as a new subject of attention in September 2007 following Clinton's appearance on all five Sunday political talk shows. Whereas commentators speculated whether Clinton's laughter -- which some described as a "cackle" -- was evidence of her "calculating" nature, according to the Politico article, Obama's "awkward laughter highlighted an issue Obama has faced dating back to the campaign, a sense that he sometimes is too 'cool' and detached to fully grasp the public anxiety over mounting job losses and economic worries." Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski, however, challenged her co-hosts' fixation on the topic, stating, "I don't care who's laughing. ... I want to look at the plan and really assess it fairly. Tone is one thing; we'll see what the action is."

Reading from Limbaugh's teleprompter

Almost daily over the past several weeks, conservative leader Rush Limbaugh has been fixated on Obama's use of a teleprompter. Despite the fact that such a device has commonly been used by media figures and past presidents of both political parties, Limbaugh presses on, day-after-day, taking every opportunity to lambaste what he refers to as "TOTUS," or the "teleprompter of the United States."

Apparently reading directly from Limbaugh's own personal teleprompter, several conservative media figures -- including Matt Drudge and Sean Hannity -- uncritically highlighted a March 18 SkyNews.com report that a "teleprompt blunder has led to Barack Obama thanking himself in a speech at the White House in a St Patrick's Day celebration." But as Toby Harnden, U.S. editor for the U.K.'s Telegraph, noted, the pool report of Obama's March 17 event with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen indicates that in saying, "First, I'd like to say thank you to President Obama," Obama was, in Harnden's words, making "a good-natured and well-received joke" at the expense of Cowen, who earlier in the event had mistakenly read from the teleprompter displaying Obama's speech. Indeed, as early as March 18, Fox News anchor Bret Baier reported that Obama had "jokingly" made the comments in question.

The ghost of George Will's presence

Last month, The Washington Post's George Will faced intense, widespread criticism for dubious global warming claims he made in two separate columns. It now appears The New York Times Magazine has been possessed by Will's science-denying spirit, as it is slated to run a profile of physicist and global warming skeptic Freeman Dyson this weekend.

The profile quotes without challenge Dyson's false suggestion that there was a scientific consensus in the 1970s that the earth was cooling. Unlike the current consensus that global warming exists, there was no consensus in the 1970s that the earth was cooling. A September 2008 article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (a peer-reviewed publication) investigated the "pervasive myth" that "there was a consensus among climate scientists of the 1970s that either global cooling or a full-fledged ice age was imminent." The article found:

A review of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979 shows this myth to be false. The myth's basis lies in a selective misreading of the texts both by some members of the media at the time and by some observers today. In fact, emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then.

Additionally, The New York Times Magazine sent Nicholas Dawidoff, whom Brad Johnson refers to as a "baseball writer" and who has not previously written about science for the Times, to profile Dyson. Dawidoff has published four books -- The Fly Swatter, a biography of his grandfather Alexander Gerschenkron; In the Country of Country, a collection of biographies of country musicians; The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life Of Moe Berg; and The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love, Madness and Baseball -- and began his career covering baseball for Sports Illustrated. Dawidoff not only allowed Dyson to advance the previously mentioned falsehood about global cooling, he also quoted Dyson accusing Al Gore of being global warming's "chief propagandist" and "an opportunist" and accusing scientist James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, of "consistently exaggerat[ing] all the dangers" of global warming.

Anonymous said...

Robert H. FrankCornell University

economics professor and New York Times columnist

Posted March 30, 2009 | 11:42 AM

Nonsense Pronouncements About Budget Deficits

Last month the Congressional Budget Office projected that President Obama's recently proposed budget would add more than $9.3 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. That's one third more than the administration's own projections. If the CBO is right, our national debt in 2019 will be roughly $20 trillion, almost double its current level.

On the heels of the CBO reports, cries of doom have been ringing out in the media and in Congress. The Washington Post's David Broder, for example, warned of the huge price that will fall on our children and grandchildren, "who will inherit a future-blighting mountain of debt." House minority leader John Boehner lambasted the president's fiscal irresponsibility and called for an immediate freeze in federal spending. Other doomsayers urge Congress to review the budget line by line, making draconian cuts on every page.

But although long-term budget deficits are indeed a serious concern, such hysteria is almost sure to make matters worse. The two critical steps for thinking more clearly about budget deficits are, first, to distinguish between the long run and the short run, and second, to examine how the borrowed money will be spent.

The consensus among economists is that the downturn may stretch well into next year and beyond. If they're right, the current short-run deficit is actually much smaller than it needs to be. Longer term, if failure to borrow meant forgoing productive investments in the post-recovery years, then bigger long-run deficits would again be better than smaller ones. But here the doomsayers have a stronger point. Long-run deficits rob us of money we could use to pay for things we value.

Spending cuts, however, are not the best way to eliminate long-run deficits. It would be far better, and not particularly difficult, to avoid them by using our own money to pay for those investments. And as I will explain, we could do that by simply changing the mix of things we tax.

Economists from both sides of the political aisle agree that the clear short-run imperative is to end the downturn. Herbert Hoover thought the best way to end the Great Depression was to balance the federal budget. And since falling incomes had caused tax receipts to decline precipitously, that meant deep cuts in federal spending. But as John Maynard Keynes explained in 1936, Hoover's strategy actually made matters worse.

We're in a deep downturn now because total spending is too low to purchase as much as our economy is capable of producing. Consumption spending, which was artificially propped up by home equity loans and credit card debt in recent years, will not reach its earlier levels any time soon. Nor are private investors likely to bridge the gap, since firms already have more than enough capacity to produce what people want to buy.

That leaves government. We need to increase government spending as quickly as possible. Much has already been written about how best to deploy the more than $2 trillion in stimulus spending that may be required. As even the most fiscally conservative economists concede, this effort will have to be financed largely with borrowed money, since higher taxes would simply delay recovery.

But even the Obama budget forecasts that deficits will persist well after the economy has recovered. That's because the president is reluctant to abandon his campaign pledge to revitalize the nation's infrastructure. He proposes to pay for some of that investment with higher income taxes on top earners and by selling carbon permits as part of his program to limit CO2 emissions. But because those revenues won't be enough, he proposes to bridge the gap with additional borrowing.

Perhaps the president chose that path because he believes the American public will not support additional taxes. If so, I believe he's wrong (more on this point in a moment). But surely no one who has studied voter reactions to proposed tax hikes in recent years could fault the president for holding such a belief.

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that the president rightly believes that additional tax revenue is unavailable. Should he then abandon his proposed revitalization program to bring the long-run budget into balance? If the investments he proposes will yield a high rate of return, the answer to that question is unequivocally no.

A simple numerical example illustrates why. At current interest rates, it will cost about $40,000 a year to service each additional $1 million we borrow. Suppose we use that $1 million to pay for a public investment that yields an annual return of 7 percent, or $70,000 a year in absolute terms. Compared to the alternative of not making this investment, we would be $30,000 a year better off by making it.

David Broder's dire pronouncements notwithstanding, making an investment like that with borrowed money would not impoverish our children and grandchildren. On the contrary, it would make them richer by exactly $30,000 a year.

Tax phobia in the United States has led to some three decades of profound neglect of our public sphere. As a result, there's a huge inventory of public investments that would yield rates of return larger than the interest rate we pay on borrowed money.

For example, because of bottlenecks that currently prevent freight trains from transporting double-decker cargo containers along the Northeast rail corridor, thousands of such containers must instead be transported by truck each day along Interstate I-95. According to one estimate, eliminating these bottlenecks would cost cost $6.2 billion and would return more than twice that amount in benefits, without even counting the value of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It's sheer folly not to make this investment.

Delayed road maintenance provides another compelling example. Blown tires, damaged wheels and axles, bent frames, misaligned front ends, destroyed mufflers, twisted suspension systems and other problems caused by potholes on U.S. roads generate an average of $120 worth of damage per vehicle each year. Adding to those costs is that when road surfaces are not maintained on schedule, the work ends up costing two to four times as much when we are finally forced to do it. If the only way to fix our roads on time were with borrowed money, our children and grandchildren would be much poorer if we refused to borrow.

President Obama could invest as rapidly as available materials and manpower would permit during his entire time in office and still not exhaust the list of projects whose rate of return substantially exceeds the interest rate on borrowed money. That making such investments is the right thing to do is not a difficult or controversial point. The pundits and congressional leaders who are urging us to abandon them need to rethink. And if they refuse, we must demand an explanation.

That said, we'd still end up much richer in the long run if we paid for the investments with our own money. As I argue in this month's issue of The American Prospect, there's actually a relatively simple and painless way to do that. Once the economy has again reached full employment, we should adopt a new tax system focused on behaviors that cause injury to others. Such behaviors are often profoundly wasteful. Because taxing them leads people to adapt in ways that curtail waste, it's a relatively painless way to generate additional revenue.

Taxes on pollution and congestion are familiar cases in point. When Congress attacked the problem of acid rain in the 1990 Clean Air Act by effectively taxing SO2 emissions, firms were able to reduce those emissions at a small fraction of the cost associated with traditional regulatory remedies. The president's proposal for a carbon cap and trade system is a further step along this path.

But there are many other promising steps he could take. Although gasoline taxes in Europe, for example, are more than $2 a gallon higher than in the U.S., motorists there have adapted in a variety of ways and actually spend less on fuel than Americans do, including taxes. And they seem no less satisfied with their driving experience than we are.

The centerpiece of my proposal is to scrap the income tax in favor of a more steeply progressive tax on consumption. Each family would report its income to the IRS and also its annual savings, much as many now document their annual contributions to tax-exempt retirement accounts. A family's annual consumption is then calculated as the difference between its income and its annual savings. That amount less a large standard deduction--say, $30,000 for a family of four--is its taxable consumption. Rates would start low, perhaps 10 percent, then rise gradually with taxable consumption, topping out at significantly higher levels than current top marginal rates on income. For instance, a family that earned $50,000 and saved $10,000 would have taxable consumption of $10,000 and owe $1,000 a year in tax.

The beauty of the progressive consumption tax is that it would essentially create new resources out of thin air. Contrary to the assumption of standard economic models, individual purchase decisions are heavily dependent on the spending of others. As the economist Richard Layard has written, for example, "in a poor society a man proves to his wife that he loves her by giving her a rose, but in a rich society he must give a dozen roses."

Similarly, the size of house CEOs feel they need depends on the houses that executives in similar circumstances have. Because salaries of top earners have risen so sharply in recent decades, they have been building bigger houses. This has shifted the frame of reference that defines what the near rich consider necessary or desirable, so they too have built bigger, and so on, all the way down the income ladder. The median new house built in the U.S. in 2007 was half again as large as its counterpart from 1970, despite the fact that median hourly earnings had scarcely risen during the interim.

To keep up, middle-income families have had to work longer hours, save less, and commute longer distances. They could escape some of this pressure by simply buying less expensive houses. But because of the link between house prices and neighborhood school quality, most families appear unwilling to take that step.

To see how a progressive consumption tax would slow this expenditure cascade and free up resources for more productive purposes, it's instructive to examine how the tax would affect top earners' decisions about how big a house to build. Suppose the top marginal tax rate on consumption is 100 percent and that top earners currently live in 20,000-square-foot-houses. A substantial increase in their income has led them to consider building additions onto those houses.

Each faces a choice between two designs, one at 5,000 square feet, the other at 10,000. If the pre-tax cost of the latter design is higher by $5 million, its post-tax cost will be higher by $10 million. Now suppose, plausibly, that this price penalty induces everyone to choose the smaller addition. Because it's relative house size that matters, people will be just as happy as if they'd all chosen the bigger one. (If we account for the hassle of recruiting and supervising additional help to maintain larger houses, they might even be happier!) The government gets $5 million in additional tax revenue, which it can use to hire the contractors who would have built pointless mansion additions to instead construct new overpasses on the Northeast rail corridor.

Before the current downturn, the United States was the richest country on the planet. We'll still be the richest country once the downturn's over. We can easily afford to pay for worthwhile public investments with our own money. The current tax system makes it difficult to do this, because higher tax rates on income discourage private savings, the lack of which helped provoke the current downturn.

The solution is to tax consumption instead of income. Higher tax rates on consumption not only do not discourage thrift, they strongly encourage it. Phased in gradually after the downturn ends, a progressive consumption tax would slowly shift the composition of spending away from consumption toward investment. Full employment would be maintained, and productivity would grow faster.

President Obama was elected in large part because of his ability to persuade people to share his vision of a better future. If I am right that painless ways exist for raising the tax revenue needed to finance his ambitious program, he ought to be able to persuade the American people to embrace them. But if he can't or won't, let's hope he'll at least resist calls by Broder and Boehner to abandon the worthwhile investments he has proposed.

Anonymous said...

GOP 'Won't let stimulus bill go'
April 1, 2009

I was watching Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" show on CNN on Sunday, and Republicans just won't let the stimulus bill go. They should shake the dust from their feet and "stop whining" as Phil Gramm, one of the chief architects of using derivatives badly, said. This UBS employee knows that he's talking about.



Newsweek Columnist Anna Quindlen reminded readers that John McCain confessed during the campaign that he didn't really understand economics very well. But believe it or not, McCain's biggest Republican sin wasn't only ignorance of economics, but also telling the truth about it; that is, "candor," plus the suspicion that a lot of his Senate colleagues knew no more about economics than he did, not to mention the House, where dumbing-down is the recipe for longevity.

When an endless line of Republicans stood at mikes on Capitol Hill to "whine" about not having a chance to read the stimulus bill, they were missing the point: If they had read the bill, they still would not have understood it.

I suspect this has always been so. That's why Rush and Sean, not to mention the Fox News Channel, are so important. Limbaugh, Hannity and Rupert Murdoch are very important; that is, they tell Republicans what's in those thousands of pages -- and what to think and say.

And Republican outrage over AIG bonuses on the Hill is a spectacle, but thank God for the required filings with the Federal Election Commission. Newsweek discovered, for example, that TARP firms had given money to GOP Whip Eric Cantor, the whiner-in-chief. Citigroup gave to Cantor as did UBS via AIG. Yes, the Dems got money, too. Stop whining and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

Diageo/Hotline Poll: Con-fidence Air
March 31, 2009 4:12 PM

As he embarks on his first overseas trip, Pres. Obama continues to enjoy strong job and personal ratings back home, according a new Diageo/Hotline poll. The survey, conducted 3/26-29, also shows a record number of U.S. RVs are concerned about the economy, while a majority are confident in the new admin.'s economic agenda.

Although both remain considerably high, Obama's job approval and personal favorability ratings each dropped 4% since last month's poll. Approximately three in five RVs, 63%, approve of Obama's handling of his job as POTUS, down from 67% in the survey conducted 2/28-3/2. Similarly, Obama's fav dropped to 64% from 68% in the previous poll. Over the same period, Obama's job disapproval rose 4% and unfav increased 3%.

What's more, a record number of respondents in the Diageo/Hotline poll now feel things in the U.S. are generally going in the right direction. Nearly two-fifths of RVs, 39%, feel positively about the direction of the U.S., up from 32% on 3/2. The previous high in the poll's four-year history was 38% in 2/05. Nearly half of RVs, 49%, feel things in the U.S. are seriously off on the wrong track -- the first time the figure has ever been less than 50%.

This newfound optimism mirrors the record number of RVs concerned about the economy combined with respondents' steadfast confidence in the economic policies of the Obama Admin. An all-time high 85% now feel the economy is the most important issue facing the U.S., up 15% in just one month. At the same time, 61% are confident Obama and his team of economic advisors will be successful in turning around the economy, and 57% are confident the economic stimulus package will do so.

Split sampling shows 51% have confidence Treas. Sec. Tim Geithner will be successful in turning around the economy -- 10% less than Obama, though still a majority. Another 39% are not confident Geithner will be successful. For all the criticism he's received since taking office, Geithner's fav/unfav of 37%/30% makes him the only official tested besides Obama and VP Biden with a net-positive rating.

The Diageo/Hotline poll, conducted 3/26-29 by FD, surveyed 800 U.S. RVs and has margin of error +/- 3.5%.

(MATTHEW GOTTLIEB)

Genius Alread Turns Economy Around said...

New signs emerge that recession may be near bottom

WASHINGTON (AP) - New signs that the recession could be nearing a bottom emerged Thursday, as factory orders were far better than expected and the Dow industrials surged over 8,000 for the first time in two months.

The Commerce Department said orders for manufactured goods rose 1.8 percent in February, reversing six straight monthly declines and easily beating estimates of another drop. Other economic indicators came in better than expected Wednesday, including construction spending and pending home sales.

Though the job situation remains grim, the labor market doesn't pick up until well after a recovery has started.




Financial stocks led a rally on Wall Street after the board that sets U.S. accounting standards gave banks and other companies more leeway when valuing assets and reporting losses. The Dow Jones industrial average added about 270 points, or 3.5 percent, to 8,035 in afternoon trading, the first time it has not risen above 8,000 since Feb. 10. Broader indices also surged.

An additional 1.5 million people received benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program Congress approved last year. That's as of March 14, the latest data available. Jobless benefits typically last 26 weeks, but the federal government is paying for an additional 20 to 33 weeks of compensation under the extended program, depending on each state's unemployment rate.




(AP) Chart shows new factory orders in billions of dollars
Full Image



The Federal Reserve has cut a key benchmark interest rate to nearly zero in an effort to jump-start lending and embarked on a series of radical programs to inject billions of dollars into the financial system.

The Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus package, approved by Congress in February, appears to be already countering the recession by providing money for public works projects, extending unemployment benefits and helping states avoid budget cuts.

Anonymous said...

GOP senator: Tax errors shouldn't bar HHS nominee

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

WASHINGTON (AP) — A $7,000 tax mistake shouldn't disqualify Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius from serving as the nation's top health official, a key Republican senator said Wednesday. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa told home state reporters in a conference call that he felt Sebelius made "a good-faith effort" to pay her taxes correctly in the first place, and errors discovered in a recent review should not count against her.

Grassley, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, said he is reserving judgment on Sebelius until confirmation hearings. But taxes won't be the deciding factor for him. The committee holds a hearing Thursday on Sebelius' nomination and must vote to send her nomination to the full Senate.

"I think we wouldn't be having this hearing if we didn't think the tax things were pretty well taken care of," said Grassley. He suggested he's more concerned with Sebelius' views on Medicare and Medicaid, and how her support for abortion rights might influence policies at the Health and Human Services Department.

Sebelius, now governor of Kansas, is expected to play a central role in trying to steer legislation through Congress this year that would overhaul the health care system to rein in costs and cover the uninsured. As a Democrat from a politically conservative state, she has a track record of working with Republicans.

But Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding "unintentional errors" — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee.

Sebelius said the changes involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses. In a letter to senators Tuesday, she said she filed the amended returns as soon as the errors were discovered by an accountant she hired to scrub her taxes in preparation for her confirmation hearings.

Sebelius and her husband, Gary, a federal magistrate judge in Kansas, paid a total of $7,040 in back taxes and $878 in interest to amend returns from 2005-2007.

Several Obama administration nominees have run into tax troubles, notably the president's first pick for HHS secretary, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. He withdrew from consideration while apologizing for failing to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., issued a statement Tuesday supporting Sebelius.

"Congress is going to need a strong partner at the Department of Health and Human Services to achieve comprehensive health reform this year, and we have that partner in Gov. Sebelius," Baucus said. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gov. Sebelius has the political experience, determination, and bipartisan work ethic to get the job done with Congress this year. She's the right person for the job."

Anonymous said...

Commentary: Obama has best day as presidentStory Highlights

James Carville: Obama is quite comfortable and confident at G-20 summit

Carville: At home, 38 percent say U.S. is headed in right direction, the most in 3 years

Meanwhile Carville says, GOP is mired in bickering over Limbaugh

It's so bad, he says, Newt Gingrich says a third party may form by 2012
Next Article in Politics »



By James Carville
CNN Contributor

Editor's Note: James Carville, a Democratic strategist who serves as a political contributor for CNN, was the Clinton-Gore campaign manager in 1992 and political adviser to President Clinton. He is active in Democratic politics and a party fundraiser.


James Carville says the president's trip to England was a success.

1 of 2 (CNN) -- If a statesman is one who looks to the next generation and a politician one who looks to the next election, a political consultant must be one who looks to the next tracking poll. Well, I'll go one better and just look at today -- April 2, 2009.

This has most likely been President Obama's best single day since inauguration.

His and first lady Michelle Obama's first foray onto the world stage since being elected cannot be dubbed anything but successful. Obama appeared to be quite comfortable and confident as president of the United States at the G-20 summit that produced an unprecedented global economic recovery package.

The president's polling numbers at home are coming in at an impressive rate. A Democracy Corps poll taken this week found that the percentage of likely voters saying the country is going in the right direction is up to 38 percent, the highest level recorded in more than three years.

His budget was passed Thursday by Congress. And the recent special election in New York's 20th Congressional District in which Democrat Scott Murphy initially trailed by more than 20 points -- but wound up slightly ahead before officials count absentee ballots -- shows that the GOP is making few, if any gains among voters.

To top it all off (at least for now), the financial markets are expressing confidence in the president's leadership as they are expected to close up for the fourth straight week.

However, the real measure of how well the president is doing is indicated by two stunning events in the Republican Party just Thursday. First, on Rick Sanchez's program on CNN, Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tennessee, completely dissed the de-facto leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, by referring to him as an "entertainer," which is the more common description only the left-wing blogosphere would dare to use.

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Wamp went on to say that he didn't pay attention to Limbaugh. I'll bet that the Zachster did a little polling in Tennessee and discovered that El Rushbo would be a pretty heavy load to carry around the Volunteer State in his run for governor.

Then my friend and a recent guest at my class at Tulane University, GOP strategist extraordinaire and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, became so frustrated with the Republican congressional leadership that Thursday in Missouri he opened up the possibility of a third party forming before the 2012 election. "If the Republicans can't break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012," Gingrich reportedly said.

Clearly a day does not make a presidency. But if President Obama has more like April 2, 2009, he'll be able to govern much more like a statesman than a politician.

Anonymous said...

FOX News Poll: Americans See Mostly Smooth Transition in War On Terror

Americans are fairly comfortable with the Obama administration's handling on the War on Terror, even though most disapprove of their dropping the term, according to a FOX News poll.

FOXNews.com

Thursday, April 02, 2009

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powered by BaynoteAs the Obama administration passes its 70-day mark, Americans are fairly comfortable with its handling on the War on Terror, according to the latest FOX News poll.

The national telephone poll was conducted for FOX News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from March 31 to April 1, 2008. The poll has a 3-point margin of error.

A slim plurality (36 percent) think the United States is safer today than it was under the Bush administration -- although a nearly equal share (31 percent) takes the opposite view. And, in a trend seen throughout this survey, independent voters are more likely to say the country was safer under George W. Bush than it is under Barack Obama (33 percent to 25 percent).

Almost seven in ten Americans (68 percent) think President Obama will continue fighting the global war against terrorism -- with even a majority of Republicans (51 percent) feeling that way.

Americans do not, however, like the Obama administration's decision to retire the word "terrorism" in favor of the more abstract "man-caused disaster" terminology. Fully three-quarters (75 percent) think "terrorism" better describes the threat to the country. Only 14 percent believe that "man-caused disaster" is a more accurate description of the threat America faces. Almost seven in ten Democrats (68 percent) agree that "terrorism" is the more appropriate term to use.

President Obama recently stated that the U. S. military had succeeded in Iraq and helped establish a sovereign Iraqi government. Without asking whether they believed the president's statement or not, we found that a majority of Americans think that -- if Iraq is characterized as a success -- George W. Bush deserves "most" of the credit for it. Only 16 percent believe President Obama deserves most of the credit, while about one person in seven (15 percent) says neither deserves credit.

While this question does not delve into the correctness of the Iraqi effort overall, these results suggest that -- in the long view of history -- President Bush's role may be looked on more favorably than it is today. On this note, it is instructive that Bush is given the "credit" edge even among Democrats (35 percent to 28 percent).

Rush Blows said...

O is the reich's nightmare.

Fannie and Freddie - Barnie Frank's lover bonus said...

WASHINGTON – Mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to pay more than $210 million in bonuses through next year to give workers the incentive to stay in their jobs at the government-controlled companies.

The retention awards for more than 7,600 employees were disclosed in a letter from the companies' regulator released Friday by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. The companies paid out nearly $51 million last year, are scheduled to make $146 million in payments this year and $13 million in 2010.

"It's hard to see any common sense in management decisions that award hundreds of millions in bonuses when their organizations lost more than $100 billion in a year," Grassley said in a statement. "It's an insult that the bonuses were made with an infusion of cash from taxpayers."

Fannie and Freddie declined to comment on Friday. Fannie had disclosed that it plans to pay four top executives at least $1 million each in retention payments that run through February. Freddie has yet to report on which executives are in line for the awards.

The two companies, hobbled by skyrocketing loan defaults, were seized by regulators last fall and operate under close federal oversight with new chief executives installed by the government. Since the takeover, Fannie Mae has received $15 billion in federal aid, while Freddie Mac has received nearly $45 billion.

The companies' federal regulator, James Lockhart of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, defended the bonuses in a March 27 letter to Grassley, noting that the collapse of the company's stock prices "destroyed years of savings for many" workers. The companies' stocks now trade below $1, down from more than $60 in fall 2007.

Lockhart denied a request Grassley made last month to release names of employees receiving at least $100,000 in bonuses, citing "personal privacy and safety reasons."

More than 70 percent of new loans in recent months have been backed by Fannie and Freddie. They own or guarantee almost 31 million mortgages worth about $5.5 trillion, more than half of all U.S home loans.

Keeping the companies "operating at full speed was best for the housing markets and best for the economy," Lockhart wrote. "That would only be possible is we retained the Fannie and Freddie teams."

But many lawmakers have little sympathy for that argument amid a public outcry over roughly $165 million in bonuses paid out last month by bailed-out insurance giant American International Group.

Earlier this week, the House passed a bill that aims to keep bailed-out financial institutions from paying their employees hefty bonuses after lawmakers had second thoughts about their vote two weeks ago to tax the bonuses away. The bill would allow the bonuses if the Treasury Department and financial regulators determine they are not "unreasonable or excessive."

Initially after the AIG flap, President Barack Obama had said he would "do everything we can to get those bonuses back." But the White House later backed down as it worked to ensure any restrictions on bonuses didn't alienate the banks and investors needed to help clean up the financial mess.

John Edwards (D) Indicted said...

The National Enquirer reported on its Web site that a federal grand jury in Raleigh is investigating whether former Sen. John Edwards violated campaign-finance laws in his bid for president in 2008 by making payments to Rielle Hunter, his admitted mistress.

U.S. Attorney George Holding said Thursday that he "was not going to confirm or deny any investigation" regarding Edwards.

A federal grand jury was convened in Raleigh on Wednesday. Grand jury proceedings are secret.

Such grand juries have the power to call and question witnesses and request documents. Prosecutors interview witnesses in front of jurors. At the end of the query, the grand jury has the power to bring charges.

Wade Smith, a prominent Raleigh defense attorney and Edwards mentor, declined to comment on whether he was representing Edwards.

"I'm at a place where I cannot make any comment to confirm or deny," Smith said. "I can't say anything. It's possible, at some later point, I can."

Time to indict Rahm Emanuel said...

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was the target of attempted extortion by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to a source and a federal indictment filed Thursday alleging a state grant for a Portage Park neighborhood school was used as bait for a fundraising demand.

Emanuel, a confidant to both Blagojevich and President Barack Obama, is described by prosecutors as "Congressman A," an identity confirmed by a White House aide.

The former North Side congressman, picked by Obama in November as his top staff member, was allegedly the subject of extortion in 2006 after he inquired about a $2 million state grant to benefit a school in his district. Prosecutors say Blagojevich instructed a top aide to block the release of the money, even though it had been included in the state's budget.

Blagojevich also allegedly told a high-ranking state official that Emanuel's brother needed to host a fundraiser for him. The indictment does not say which of two brothers was mentioned, but the White House aide said it was Ari Emanuel, a high-powered Hollywood agent active in political fundraising.

Michelle Obama's good friends said...

Former Illinois First Lady Patricia Blagojevich, whose foul-mouthed diatribes are the object of comedy show scorn, was more closely implicated in her husband's alleged corruption scheme Thursday by federal authorities who now say she took thousands in payoffs for real estate work she never did.

Patricia Blagojevich, who turns 44 next Thursday, was not charged along with her husband and five others, but the 75-page federal indictment handed down Thursday provides new details on a lucrative real estate career unmasked by the Tribune over the last four years.

As many of her husband's top aides, friends and supporters cut deals for federal leniency in exchange for information, the once-secretive inner circle crumbles around the disgraced ex-governor.

Federal authorities, armed with details provided by his former confidants, now allege Patricia Blagojevich accepted more than $150,000 in real estate fees—including $54,396 in commissions she didn't earn—from a convicted real estate mogul involved in her husband's long-standing scheme to sell his office.

A woman who answered Patricia Blagojevich's cell phone Thursday hung up after a Tribune reporter identified himself. Her attorney, Raymond Pijon, warned against rushing to judgment based on the word of alleged co-schemers who are rushing to cut cooperation deals.

Among them is Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a top Blagojevich fundraiser already convicted on charges he used his clout in an extortion scheme. Rezko, a developer who federal authorities say paid the bogus real estate commissions to Patricia Blagojevich as part of the conspiracy to enrich the governor, is among those cooperating with authorities.

"It is my understanding these new revelations are coming from Rezko," Pijon said. "It is important to understand that it is possible for individuals to be used as a conduit in a scheme without being involved in it."

Asked about allegations his client took money she did not earn, Pijon said it is common in real estate transactions for brokers to collect fees for little work. "Sometimes you don't do very much and you get a commission," he said.

The Tribune in 2005 first revealed financial ties between Rezko and Patricia Blagojevich's River Realty Inc. She acknowledged an eight-year business relationship, but declined to provide specifics. The new indictment revealed some of the details.

It says Rezko paid her $12,000 per month from October 2003 until May 2004 "purportedly for real estate brokerage services."

Federal authorities also allege the governor pressured a top lieutenant to get his wife a state job after Tribune reports that revealed much of her real estate income involved state contractors, political supporters and others with business before her husband's administration.

The indictment alleges Gov. Blagojevich ordered the job search after her real estate business "became the subject of critical media coverage."

Told his wife was unqualified to sit on the Pollution Control Board, the governor asked then-chief of staff John Harris to find other work for his wife, the indictment says. It also says he asked Harris to help her find work as a securities dealer. When prospective employers failed to hire her, the governor "told Harris that he did not want the institutions receiving further business from the State of Illinois," the indictment says.

The Tribune reported last year that Patricia Blagojevich touted her ability to land state business when she took a job at a Chicago investment firm, but left after three months when she brought in no business, a company executive said.

All told, the Tribune uncovered political connections in more than $500,000 in real estate commissions to River Realty since Blagojevich began running for governor in 2000. They include a $32,500 commission from a roads contractor who won three no-bid state contracts worth $10 million; $9,438 from her husband's then chief of staff, Alonzo "Lon" Monk, who also was indicted Thursday; and $113,875 from a Chicago banker and his wife, who operated a drug testing firm with a long-standing state contract.

Following Tribune reports, that firm was raided by state and federal authorities and its owner, Anita Mahajan, was arrested on charges she bilked the state for nearly $2 million in drug tests never performed. Her husband helped raise more than $500,000 for the governor.

Corrupto-convict and Barack Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko was one of Mrs. Blago's biggest clients of the last decade. Behind him stood his housewife-in-hot-water, Rita, who whiled away some of her time as a patronage appointee to an obscure Cook County government board before getting entangled in the land swap couples' deal between her husband and the Obamas -- the one the president-elect called "boneheaded."

Michelle Obama was apparently friendly with the sordid sorority, according to Chicago Magazine. Writer James Merriner reported on a fashion show/political back-scratching gala chaired by Mrs. Rezko and co-chaired by Mrs. Blago two days before the November 2006 elections:

"Michelle Obama, wife of the Democratic U.S. senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama, was a special guest that day (even though the news had just broken about Rezko's participation in a funky real-estate transaction involving the Obamas' Hyde Park home). The fashion show attracted little if any media coverage, which may have been exactly as its organizers and sponsors had hoped. Just three weeks earlier, Tony Rezko had been indicted on charges of extorting kickbacks from businesses seeking contracts from the Blagojevich administration."

Anita Mahajan, wife of Chicago Mutual Bank owner Amrish Mahajan. Hubby is the Obama supporter and Blago fundraiser who handled that boneheaded Obama land deal and loaned cash to Rezko. Mrs. Mahajan hired Mrs. Blago to sell properties for her. In 2007, Mrs. Mahajan was indicted on fraud charges related to a contract from the state Department of Children and Family Services -- awarded to her by the Blagojevich administration. Prosecutors say she bilked taxpayers out of $2.1 million. For the children, of course.

demokkkrats R working 4u! said...

Detroit --A top city official says democratic City Council President Monica Conyers (D) pulled strings to get her brother, an ex-con with a violent record, a job in the building department that was to last only 120 days but was extended for two years.

"She came up to me, handed me his resume and said 'You should hire him. He's a good guy,' " said Amru Meah, director of Building & Safety Engineering.

Reggie Esters, 38, was fired from the $30,500 job last summer on claims of chronic absenteeism. About the same time, he was charged with 10 felonies stemming from allegations he brandished a shotgun at two people, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to one count and faces sentencing April 17.

Erik said...

Thanks, Evan. I have your speech on my mp3 player and refer back to it whenever I need a refresher!
I have recommended you to like-minded family and friends!
Hear, hear!

Anonymous said...

TYPICAL REPUBLICAN THUGGERY:

Republicans Attempt to Disenfranchise Idaho Voters

A proposed bill would require photo ID to register and vote, eliminating mail-in voter registration.


By Sharon Fisher, 4-03-09



Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale


Idaho Republican leadership is reportedly putting forth a bill modeled after similar laws in Georgia and Indiana said to be “the most stringent in the nation,” intended to make it more difficult for Idahoans to vote – particularly the sort of Idahoans who might vote against Republicans.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, and Senate President Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs, eliminates the ability of Idahoans to register to vote by mail, and requires the use of a government-issued photo ID to register and to vote.

Voter ID laws had been passed in 2005 in Georgia and Indiana, and the Indiana law was taken to the Supreme Court, with opponents arguing that requiring particular government documents – which, though free in Indiana, required supporting documents that were not free, as well as the time required to obtain them – constituted a “poll tax,” which had been ruled unconstitutional in 1966.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the Indiana law was constitutional about a year ago. “In upholding Indiana’s law – considered the most stringent in the nation—the Court effectively blessed the statutes of the few dozen or so other states that insist on some form of photo ID, and emboldened still more states to proceed down this path,” said Vikram David Amar, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis School of Law.

Obviously, Idaho was one of the states so emboldened.

Without mail-in voter registration, citizens – including those not be able to drive—would presumably be required to go to the county courthouse to register, go to one of the early-voting areas and register and vote there, or register and vote on election days. People would not, presumably, be able to register to vote ahead of time and then request an absentee ballot.

Political parties would not be able to register people.

Two other developments underway make this even more of an issue. First is the attempt by some Republicans to close their primary to only registered Republicans. Second is the fact that, by the 2012 elections, Idaho will be redistricted in response to the results from the 2010 Census, which is widely believed will result in more districts in the urban areas – which are more likely to vote Democratic – and fewer in the rural areas – which are more likely to vote Republican.

In the Indiana case, the Supreme Court disagreed that requiring a government-issued ID was overly burdensome, but that individual voters could come back to the Court to prove that it was. However, the likelihood of that happening was low, Amar said. “[H]ow likely is that a would-be voter in Indiana who can’t afford the money it takes to get a birth certificate (which is necessary to get a government ID) or the money it takes to obtain transportation to the county seat (where she could explain her inability to get a birth certificate) is somehow going to have the money and knowledge to bring suit in federal court instead, to demonstrate the unfairness of the burdens created by the Indiana law as to her? And to do all that well in advance of the election in which she wants to vote?”

Ironically, part of the reason Idaho (as well as Montana) shot down the Federal government’s attempts to mandate a standard form for drivers’ licenses (the so-called REAL ID Act) in 2007 was because of the burden it would place on certain Idahoans – particularly the elderly – to produce the documents necessary to obtain such a license.

“[R]equiring voters to stand in one line at the [Bureau of Motor Vehicles] for the privilege of possibly standing in another line once they go to vote effectively imposes a tax on the voters’ time,” wrote Dan Tokaji in the Election Law blog at the Mortiz College of Law at Ohio State University, about the Indiana bill. “It’s a burden that many voters won’t bear, which is presumably why the bill was passed on a straight party-line vote: Republican legislators are banking that Democrats are more likely to lack ID and won’t go to the trouble of getting it… [T]he Indiana bill imposes a special burden on particular groups of voters—including seniors, people with disabilities, and those who are poor—with precious little evidence that its strict photo ID requirement is needed to curb fraud.”

Acceptable ID cards must include a person’s name, a photograph, an expiration date and be issued by the U.S. government, Idaho, or a federally recognized American Indian tribe. In addition to driver’s licenses, acceptable ID documents would also include identification cards issued for no charge by the Department of Motor Vehicles; a student card from an Idaho college or university accompanied by a fee statement showing the student’s address; or any document which contains the elector’s name and a valid address within the precinct where that individual is attempting to cast his or her ballot.

In Indiana, it was estimated that 10 to 13 percent of residents did not have such an ID, which would eliminate them from voting.

Idaho’s bill does allow students to use IDs issued by Idaho colleges and universities to vote – a change that was made to the Indiana law last year after protests by the universities themselves. Otherwise, numerous students – who typically are more likely to vote Democratic – would be unable to vote in Idaho as well.

Denney is reportedly bringing forth the bill to combat unspecified voter fraud, “even though proponents couldn’t cite specific examples of alleged voter fraud in this state, where the GOP holds all statewide elected positions and controls three quarters of the Legislature,” reported the AP’s John Miller.

“Denney told [Betsy Russell’s Spokane Spokesman-Review’s] Eye on Boise that he and Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes mailed out nearly 200 first-class letters to registered voters in a single district after the last election as a test, and about 30 came back showing “no one at that address.” Some of the addresses were vacant lots, he said. The letters should have been forwarded if the people and addresses were real, he said.”

This technique, known as “caging,” has been criticized across the U.S., and thrown out by some courts in which it was attempted. “In the week before last November’s election, The Nation reported that in some states, “the Republican Party has made plans to challenge the legitimacy of thousands of voters using a notorious, legally dubious technique known as ‘caging,’ whereby the party sends out nonforwardable mail to low-income or minority households (the people likely to move frequently or be victims of subprime mortgage foreclosures) and uses returned envelopes to question the eligibility of the addressees."”

A similar effort is also underway in South Carolina. “Now state Republicans are striking back with legislation designed to limit early and absentee voting and to require voters to have a photo ID,” reported Will Moredock of the Charleston City Paper. “Of course, they are doing this in the name of preventing voter fraud, though no one has demonstrated any systematic voter fraud in this state. What this legislation will actually do is limit voting access for the poor, elderly, and minorities. That is why the state branches of AARP, Common Cause, NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and ACLU are rallying to stop House Bill 3418 and Senate Bill 334.”

While in South Carolina, the move is mainly against minorities, “this is not an exclusively Southern phenomenon,” Moredock said. “For some years the national Republican Party has been engaged in an insidious strategy to suppress the votes of minorities, students, the poor, and elderly around the nation. Republican-majority legislatures in Georgia, Indiana, and other states have passed voter ID laws, ostensibly to protect the democratic process from voter fraud. What they have failed to do is prove that there is any widespread or systematic voter fraud which would merit such a remedy.”

The only type of fraud that an ID would prevent is impersonation fraud, which “simply does not happen,” said Deborah Goldberg, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, and who wrote an amicus brief in the Indiana case, who spoke at a panel on the Indiana law in January, 2008. Other types of fraud, such as vote buying, fraud on voter registration groups, ballot stuffing, and absentee ballot fraud, are not addressed by a voter ID, she said.

“Almost half the states have very minimal voter ID requirements that apply to a very small number of voters. And these states actually report that they have no greater problems with voter fraud or any of these kinds of issues than any other states,” said Tova Wang, a nationally recognized expert on election law and currently a democracy fellow at the Century Foundation, who spoke at the same panel.

Anonymous said...

NAUSEATING REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY REGARDING DEFICITS:

Media fail to challenge Republicans on past acts of massive debt creation

Summary: Television news hosts have repeatedly hosted Republican members of Congress who have attacked President Obama's budget, but those media figures have failed to ask these officials about their support of various legislation that contributed to the more than $2 trillion increase in the publicly held debt under President Bush.


In the past month, television news hosts have repeatedly hosted Republican members of Congress who attacked President Obama's budget proposal or other fiscal policies by arguing that they add too much to the national debt. However, these media figures have repeatedly failed to ask these elected officials about their support of various major laws and actions that contributed to the more than $2 trillion increase in the publicly held national debt under President Bush.

Indeed, in interviewing Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), Sen. Judd Gregg (NH), Sen. Susan Collins (ME), Sen. John Ensign (NV), Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL), Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), media figures did not note that each of them supported two or more of the following pieces of legislation:

The tax-cut bills of 2001 and 2003 -- the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA), respectively
The budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004, which provided for consideration of the 2001 and 2003 tax-cut bills under the budget reconciliation process.
The 2003 Medicare prescription-drug benefit
Examples of Republican members of Congress complaining about projected deficits under Obama's budget not being challenged by members of the media regarding their support for these and other debt-increasing measures include the following (all transcripts reprinted from the Nexis database):

Rep. Eric Cantor (VA)

Media figures did not note that Cantor voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, the 2002 and 2004 budget resolutions, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

From the March 25 broadcast of NBC's Today:

ANN CURRY (co-host): Do you trust the president when he says that he's going to tackle more fully this question of cutting the deficit once he's figured out a way to help this economy move forward?

CANTOR: Again, we've got to make the tough choices, just as people watching this show are trying to make every morning. They're getting ready to go -- to go and drop off their kids at school and go to work. They're worried about their family finances. We've got to do the same thing here in Washington. Now the bottom line is, the tough choices are not being made, and by amassing huge, trillions of dollars worth of debt on the backs of our children is not the way forward. It is not that we have to go and ramp up spending right now, we've got to address the critical problems facing the economy right now, and in order to do that, we've got to focus on the people who actually are out there that need to jump back into the game and create jobs.

CURRY: Well, one -- part of that group includes Wall Street and people who are investing, and one of the things that the president said last night, and I should ask this specifically of you as one of the 85 Republicans who voted with the Democrats for taxing executives who get bonus money up to 90 percent, I mean, what did you think about the president saying that it's time for Wall Street and Main Street to now work together, to calm -- create a common purpose, because that's going to be what it takes to fix this economy, Congressman?

CANTOR: Well, I mean, first of all, as to the direction of this budget and where we need to go, we've got to provide the relief to the job creators. The president's budget taxes the very employers that employ one in four jobs in this country, the small businesses. So you can't go and say you want to create jobs by taxing job creators. Our budget will come back and say, look, we want a growth-oriented economy. We want to provide tax incentives and tax cuts to small businesses and working families, something that this budget doesn't do. But if you look at the situation on Wall Street and the investors around this country who want to look to their 401(k)s and their IRAs for retirement security, we have got to go in and provide some more transparency. We cannot be using taxpayer dollars to bail out institutions that have failed.

CURRY: All right, Congressman.

CANTOR: And that is the real challenge facing many people today wondering how is that fair.

From the March 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): We heard from Peter Orszag, the president's budget guy, a couple of days of ago and he said: You know, whatever's going on up on Capitol Hill, the president's going to wind up with 98 percent of what he wants.

Do you think that's accurate?

CANTOR: Well, I sure hope that is not accurate, because Steve, I mean, what we've seen in the Obama budget is the largest expansion of government in history. And the way that they're expanding government is by increasing spending. We don't have the money to spend, so they're increasing borrowing to unprecedented levels.

And what that means for every man, woman and child is the doubling of the debt. Right now, each person in this country is responsible for $35,000 of debt owed. And now with the Obama budget, it will be $70,000 worth of debt.

You know, I believe, Steve, that this country is on the verge of a spending and borrowing revolt. And if the people speak out, we can stop this tremendous expansion of government.

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): Well, the Republicans are about to speak out, because yesterday you unveiled your alternative -- at least a blueprint for what the alternative will be -- to the Democrats' budget plan.

I found it interesting that it was only 19 pages, compared to the 142 pages of the Obama budget. Was there symbolism in that?

DOOCY: Were you low on toner?

CANTOR: (Laughs.) I think, Gretchen and Steve, you can take some symbolism in that.

I mean, obviously, our budget's going to be focused on job growth, on creating wealth, creating prosperity. And as we've seen in the Obama budget, it's all about wealth redistribution. And the most that you can get out of a government-spending plan is that.

And our budget says: Look, let's get a responsible spending plan that can match the needs of the families who are anxious out there. Every morning they wake up worried about their job, wondering of they're still going to have their health care. And our plan is a reasonable attempt to provide some fiscal sanity to the government.

DOOCY: Congressman, standby, because we've got an urgent pressing issue. We wanted to ask you about the Britney Spears concert you had to go to.

He's actually got a very good explanation or is it spin? You'll hear from him on the other side of this time out.

Sen. Judd Gregg (NH)

Media figures did not note that Gregg voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, and the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004. Indeed, Gregg was a member of the conference committee that hammered out the final fiscal year 2004 budget resolution.

From the March 26 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

JOE SCARBOROUGH (co-host): When did the federal government get to the point where it could do absolutely everything it wanted to do all at one time? Because that appears to be where the White House is, and people wildly applaud.

GREGG: Yeah, well, that's what people elected, obviously, a Democratic Congress, a Democratic president. And President Obama has said very clearly that what he intends to do is significantly expand the size of government, take it radically to the left and, by doing that, create prosperity.

I happen to disagree with that philosophy. I don't think you create prosperity by increasing the debt, increasing taxes, and increasing the burden of the federal government on the marketplace. That's the difference between my philosophy and his philosophy.

But he's in charge, and they've got the votes here in the Congress, and they're going to pass a budget which radically increases spending, taxing, and borrowing, doubles the debt in two years, triples it in 10 -- in five -- doubles it in five years, triples it in 10 years and puts us on a trillion-dollar deficit for as far as the eye can see.

And I don't think we can sustain it, but that's what we're going to get.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, Senator, you're not alone. The Congressional Budget Office and the new budget director that was appointed by the Democratic Congress says the numbers don't add up. It's unsustainable and, in effect, the Obama budget will bankrupt America.

Why isn't Congress listening to the Congressional Budget Office?

GREGG: Well, because they're listening to the president and the president and his party control the Congress.

The problem here is that they're going to take the deficit up to about 4 (percent) or 5 percent of GDP and keep that at that level for the next 10 years and then beyond. And that takes the debt up to 80 percent -- the public debt up to 80 percent of gross national product.

Now, you cannot, under any circumstances, sustain a system where the public debt is 80 percent of gross national product. To get in -- to try to put it in this perspective, to get into the E.U., a nation has to have its public debt at 30 percent or less of gross national product, and its deficit under 3 percent.

So essentially, we won't even be able to get into the E.U., if we wanted to -- which hopefully we don't. But that's the type of threshold which we couldn't meet because our government is going to get so large and the borrowing is going to get so huge.

And what you do -- the bottom line here, the real problem is you pass on to our kids a country they can't afford, because they either are going to be taxed at a level that makes the nation nonproductive in order to pay this, or you're going to have to inflate the economy and devalue the dollar.

SCARBOROUGH: Senator, let's underline that statement again. The European Union obviously doesn't want countries that are banana republics economically in their union, because it would be a drain.

[...]

GREGG: There's nobody -- Jim, nobody's arguing the fact that in the short term we're going to have to run these deficits up. We're going to have to put a lot of -- the last source of liquidity is the federal government.

And you're right; the European Union has not faced up to their problems, and they're totally dysfunctional on the issue of stabilizing their financial industry.

But it's not the short term that's the issue here; it's the long term. When you get past three or four years, we're not going to have this recession, and yet you're still going to be running trillion-dollar deficits and you're going to run the capital -- the cost -- the debt-to-equity ratios up to 80 percent.

Look, we can't tolerate that over the long run. In the short run, yes, but in the long run, you can't tolerate it.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): You make a lot of sense.

JIM CRAMER (CNBC host): Yes, he does.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Senator, thank you for being with us. And I hope you'll come back, because we all agree we need to talk to you a good bit more.

BRZEZINSKI: We need more time with him.

GREGG: I'd be honored. Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Senator Judd Gregg.

From the March 22 edition of CNN's State of the Union:

JOHN KING (host): Let's move to the budget and your concerns. You just heard Dr. [Christina] Romer, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, she's not ready to give yet, but I know on your committee, the Budget Committee, you look at these new congressional projections and say, "Sorry, Mr. President, the math doesn't add up." What does the president have to give from his agenda, whether it be health care, education, the environment, what has to give to meet your bottom line?

GREGG: Well, first, I think your listeners have to understand how staggering the numbers are. We're talking about a deficit in the trillion-dollar range for as far as the eye can see. We're talking about deficits which are 4 percent to 5 percent of GDP, which is not sustainable under any form of government.

We're talking about a public debt -- this is the debt that people own of the federal government that will be around 80 percent of GDP. Historically, it's been around 40 percent of GDP in the out-years.

The practical implications of this is bankruptcy for the United States. There's no other way around it. If we maintain the proposals which are in this budget over the 10-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt; our dollar will become devalued.

It is a very severe situation. And I find it almost unconscionable that this administration is essentially saying, well, we're just going to blithely go along on this course of action after they're getting these numbers which show that they're not -- they're not sustainable, and they know they're not sustainable.

The way I've described it, it's as if you were flying an airplane, and the gas light came on, and said you've got 15 minutes of gas left, and the pilot said, "Oh, we're not going to worry about that. We're going to fly for another two hours." Well, the plane crashes and our country will crash. And we'll pass on to our kids a country that's not affordable.

That's not fair to our kids. No generation should do this to another generation; that's what this comes down to. The president keeps talking about how he doesn't want to pass the problems onto the next generation? What he's guaranteeing here in his budget structure are problems which our children aren't going to be able to survive with. They're just basically not going to be able to pay the price of the cost of the government.

And it is primarily a spending issue. The proposal in this budget is to take federal spending up to 23 percent of gross national product and keep it there. Well, historically, gross national product spending in this country has been about 20 percent of GDP or the federal government has taken about 20 percent of gross national product.

When you take it up 3 percent, it doesn't sound like much, but it calculates into massive deficits and massive debt, where it -- the budget as proposed doubles the debt in 5 years, triples it in 10 years, and basically puts this country in an untenable position.

So we've got to go back, and we've got to reorganize. And what I've said, and what Senator [Kent] Conrad [D-ND] has said, and what others in the Senate have been willing to say, let's go back, rethink this in a bipartisan way, let's take a look at where the real spending is, which is in the entitlement accounts, and figure out how we get them under control and get their growth rates into something we can tolerate so that we do pass on to our kids an affordable government.

KING: Senator, let me ask you lastly -- we're out of time -- but when you decided not to take the commerce secretary job and to remain in the Senate, you also said you would not seek re-election in 2010. Any second thoughts about that decision?

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of Fox News Live on March 25:

MEGYN KELLY (anchor): So here's the question for you, President Obama coming out forcefully last night and standing behind his plans to revamp health care, energy, education, you name it at a time when we're in a recession, saying now is the time and those items are inseparable from the efforts to turn this recession around.

Your response to that, sir?

GREGG: Well, I don't happen to think that you create prosperity by radically increasing the size and the burden of the government on the American people, and essentially running up the debt of the government to a point where it probably isn't sustainable. If you look at what he's proposing, he's proposing adding more debt to the American taxpayer through the government than any president in our history and, in fact, if you take all the presidents since George Washington through George W. Bush, he's going to add more debt than they did cumulatively in the first four years of his administration. He doubles the debt in five years, triples it in ten years, that's all because he wants to expand government dramatically because he believes prosperity is a function of having a larger government. We happen to disagree with that.

KELLY: Do you believe that his budget plan, Senator, could, in fact, bankrupt the United States of America?

GREGG: Well, if you look at the numbers that came out of CBO, it puts us on a path that's not sustainable; basically, you've got deficits that exceed four to five percent of GDP as far as the eye can see. You run up the public debt to 80 percent of GDP. Historically, countries which have those types of numbers do not survive financially; they're banana republics.

KELLY: Do you foresee because I hear you saying that, I think, that's never going to happen in the United States, come on, I mean, it's the United States of America, we're not going to go bankrupt, we're not going to be a banana republic and many of our viewers may be thinking of that now as well. How do you respond to that?

GREGG: Look at the numbers. Regrettably, if you look at these numbers, he's increasing the size of the government so quickly and to such a level as a percentage of the Gross National Product that he creates a situation which we can't pay for the government and if you can't pay for the government, one or two things happens, either you create huge inflation in order to try to pay the bills, it's called monetarizing the debt or else you default on your debt. Neither of those are acceptable alternatives, but if you stay on a course, which doesn't give you many options, they occur, I mean, that's just the way it works.

If you continue to run a deficit of four to five percent of GDP, $1 trillion a year, if you average out his deficit as a $1 trillion a year over the next ten years and you add $9 trillion of debt, how are you going to pay for it? Well, I don't think you can, I really don't think you can.

KELLY: You know, his message last night when asked about that was, look, for all those critics out there and particularly the Republican critics of this budget and there are some Democrats as well, we haven't seen an alternative budget from you, so you know, until you sort of put up, you ought to shut up. Those are my words; not his. But what about that? The Democrats have been trying to cast the Republicans as the party of no because they criticize what Obama does, President Obama and they don't offer a meaningful alternative.

GREGG: Well, the way we're going to address that is we're going to address it through amendments; we don't control the Congress, you know, we've got 41 votes here in the Senate. They only need 51 to pass their budget, so we're not going to be able to pass a budget, but we will propose a series of initiatives which are positive. We will propose, for example, that in the area of energy that rather than nationalizing our system and basically creating a national sales tax, which is his proposal on everybody's electric bill, that we rather drill for more American energy and conserve more energy.

We will propose in the health care area that instead of increasing health care spending by another $1 trillion, more than $1 trillion as he proposes, that we live within the health care numbers we already have. We're spending 17 percent of Gross National Product on health care, that's five percent more than any other industrialized country. It's a huge amount of money and we can pay for our health care needs for everyone using those types of dollars.

KELLY: What do you make -- sorry, Senator --

GREGG: And there are other proposals, there are a number of other proposals we're going to put forward which are positive and which will get us a better government at an affordable cost.

KELLY: I want to ask you before I let you go about Senator Kent Conrad's proposal because he's a Democrat and they've come up with a bit of an alternative to the president's proposal, it's a scaled-back version, but it still has a lot of his priorities in it. Is that something you could get behind?

GREGG: No. Regrettably, Senator Conrad, although he's tried and he's in a difficult position, of course, because he does want to do something about the debt, but he's been given a budget from the president which does just the opposite, it explodes the debt. Unfortunately, he's going back to a lot of what I call the old gimmicks for getting the deficit down. He's counting tax revenues, which we won't get. He's not counting spending, which we know are going to have to have in the fourth and fifth year. That's not really a very good way to get to the issue.

The issue is the government can't be allowed to grow as quickly as this president and this Democratic Congress wants it to grow and be affordable. You can't take government from 20 percent of GDP up to 23 percent of GDP and expect to afford it and so we've got to scale back on the size of government. We've got to scale back on spending, it's pretty much that simple.

KELLY: We've got to pull in the waists and tighten the belts. Good luck with that, Senator Judd Gregg. We appreciate you coming on as always. All the best to you.

GREGG: Thank you. Okay.

Sen. Susan Collins (ME)

On the March 22 broadcast of ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos stated, "They say the deficit will actually be $2.3 trillion higher over the next 10 years than the President estimates." He later asked Collins, "Can you support his budget?" Collins said, "No," and later added: "Because it brings our debt levels to an unprecedented level. ... It poses a threat to the basic health of our economy." Stephanopoulos did not note that Collins voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004, and the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

From the March 22 broadcast of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to the President's budget that's going to start to be considered in both the House and the Senate this week, and we all saw the reports on Friday from the Congressional Budget Office saying that the President's economic assumptions were a little too optimistic according to the Congressional Budget Office. They say the deficit will actually be $2.3 trillion higher over the next 10 years than the President estimates, and, Senator Collins, you supported President Obama on the stimulus package.

COLLINS: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you support his budget?

COLLINS: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?

COLLINS: Because it brings our debt levels to an unprecedented level. It would double the public debt in five years, triple it in ten years, the highest percentage of GDP since after World War II. CBO says by the year 2019, 82% of GDP. That's the equivalent of the public debt. That is not sustainable. It poses a threat to the basic health of our economy.

Sen. John Ensign (NV)

Media figures did not note that Ensign voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, and the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004.

From the March 28 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

ENSIGN: Well, listen, we all have to hope whatever, whether you're against something or not, you have to hope that it works. Because we want the economy to recover. I want people in my state to do better. I don't want them to lose their homes. I want them to be able to have jobs. But I am concerned at some of the things that they're doing will not work. We did have a proposal that at least the homebuilders in my state and a lot of homeowners thought would have worked as an alternate to the stimulus bill. And that $15,000 tax credit, the homebuilders are not coming back to us and say, why did that get stripped out? We said, you know what, Republicans weren't in that conference committee when that got stripped out.

WOLF BLITZER (host): Here's what the president said at his news conference. Listen to this.

OBAMA: We haven't seen an alternative budget item and the reason is, because they know that, in fact, the biggest driver of long-term deficits are the huge health care costs that we've got out here.

BLITZER: Talking about you, you're in the Republican leadership. Where is your alternative plan as far as the budget is concerned?

ENSIGN: Sure. Actually, what we're going to do is we're going to offer an alternative plan by amendment.

BLITZER: So no one formal plan?

ENSIGN: You don't need to do one formal plan. You take their basic structure and you radically amend it. We're going to have some huge amendments that will show a different vision forward that won't --

BLITZER: Give me an example.

ENSIGN: Well, first of all, we'll have an amendment as far as cap and trade is concerned. We don't want -- we don't want a massive electricity and an energy tax put on the American people.

BLITZER: Even if it's going to reduce carbon emissions and make the planet safer?

ENSIGN: I don't think the average family can afford an additional $3,000 per year being taken away from their budget. That's not -- that's not the right thing to do. The other thing is, is the massive amount of spending that goes into this bill. We end up running up our children's credit cards to the point where today we spend about $180 billion a year on interest per year. That's what we pay on our debt which is a massive amount right now. By the end of this 10-year president's budget, it goes to over $800 billion a year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: John Ensign, the Republican senator from Nevada.

From the March 25 edition of CNBC's Power Lunch:

BILL GRIFFETH (co-anchor): All right, Rick. Thanks very much. Quick question, Jesse, for the Senator.

JESSE EISINGER (Wall Street editor for Condé Nast Portfolio): Yes. Senator Ensign, you know, even David Brooks, conservative columnist from The New York Times has said that the Republican approach is insane when you talk about cutting spending, government spending, who is going to step in? So I'm trying to understand the GOP approach here.

What is the approach if you think that the budget is and the stimulus is the wrong approach?

ENSIGN: Well, first of all, I offered an alternative to the stimulus package. It would have fixed housing first. We had a three pronged approach where we would have lowered interest rates and it would set them to more of what the historic norm is about 130 bases points that would have floated with the ten-year Treasury. We would have given a $15,000 tax credit to anybody who wanted to buy a home and then we put money in there for mitigation, for those who are facing foreclosure.

We did that along with other business tax credits, whether it was the things like the NOL, the Net Loss Carryback that's very important for a lot of companies to be able to survive. We cut the two lowest marginal tax rates to make sure that more people had money in their own pockets to be able to spend and do the way that they thought best.

I was talking about spending in the long-term. You know, the president's budget has nothing to do with the short-term. It has everything to do with the long-term. His budget is actually spending huge amounts of money when the economy actually recovers and what he does, you know, the budget deficit goes from $1.8 trillion to over $1 trillion. It averages almost a trillion dollars the entire ten years.

GRIFFETH: Okay.

ENSIGN: Well, supposedly, we'll have recovered by then, that kind of debt, that kind of spending is not sustainable and what we're doing is we're mortgaging our children's future and that literally is a moral [sic: immoral] to do. We should be a generation that says, we want the next generation to have it better than we have it and you're not going to do that by piling this huge debt burden on them, which means that they're going to have pay a lot higher tax rates into the future.

GRIFFETH: All right. Senator, always good to see you. Thank you for your time.

ENSIGN: Nice to be with you all.

GRIFFETH: John Ensign of Nevada joining us today.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL)

Media figures did not note that Sessions voted for the EGTRRA, the JGTRRA, the budget resolutions for fiscal years 2002 and 2004, and the Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

From the March 30 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:

ANDREA MITCHELL (host): I know that your House colleagues, Mike Pence [R-IN] and others, presented a House version of the budget, their budget, alternative budget, last year. They were slammed, criticized for not having any details.

Do you in the Senate plan to come up with an alternative with a detailed program to counteract -- to challenge what the president and the Senate Democrats are doing?

SESSIONS: Well, you know, the president's got all the agencies and departments and all the -- and it's responsibility to submit a budget. An individual group of congressmen have a very difficult time writing a comprehensive budget for the United States.

The question is, how long will it take to pass this budget? It seems they have the votes. Moderates have really expressed, moderate Democrats, a lot of concern, but it looks like they're just going to go and vote for it.

So, yes, it's too much. If Republicans don't fight on this issue, then they really have failed, I think, the republic at this historic time. The surge in 10 years under the president's own budget to triple the entire debt of the United States, to raise the interest payment from 170 (billion dollars) this year to $806 billion in the 10th year of the budget -- eight times what we spend on education today just in interest in one year -- this is -- this is a budget that cannot be sustained. It really needs to be stopped, and somehow it needs to be slowed down. But right now, it's -- it looks like the train is moving.

MITCHELL: Let me ask you about this auto deal, because this obviously will have some budget impact. What do you think about what the president announced today?

From the March 23 edition of CNBC's The Call:

BOB PISANI (on-air stocks editor): Republican Senator Jeff Sessions is raising loud concerns about the president's budget plan, saying it sets the nation on a dangerous and unsustainable course. The Alabama senator joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Senator, welcome. I know you've been a critic of the president's budget plan, but before we get to that, let me ask you about [Treasury] Secretary [Timothy] Geithner's public-private partnership and your thoughts on whether or not it will be successful in helping out the banks' problems.

[...]

PISANI: Before we let you go, Senator, you called the -- you said the budget was setting America on an unsustainable course. Can you just give us 10 seconds on why you are so concerned about the budget?

SESSIONS: Well, it's unbelievable. In '07, the budget was 161 billion (dollars). This year, it will be 1.8 trillion (dollars) and according to CBO it will average a trillion dollars a year for the next 10 years. And there's no drop in the deficit. They continue, actually, going up in the outer years. It's an unsustainable budget. Our entire economy is at stake.

We've got to have Democrats push back, because they've got the votes to pass it. This week we'll have budget hearings. It's just critical that Democrats who say they believe in financial responsibility stand up and are counted this week.

PISANI: Senator Jeff Sessions, thanks very much for joining us.

Sen. John Cornyn (TX)

While interviewing Cornyn on the March 26 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell stated of Obama's budget: "[Y]ou've said spending is out of control. As you see the budget now emerging from House and Senate committees, it's scaled back somewhat. Do you think it is still out of control?" Cornyn responded, in part, "Under the president's budget, the federal debt would double in five years and would triple in ten years and then the last point I would make is that it does virtually nothing about entitlement spending, which is Medicare and Social Security for which there are currently $67 trillion in unfunded federal liabilities. So we have a huge problem here, and unfortunately, I think, this budget makes it worse and not better." Mitchell did not note that Cornyn voted for the JGTRRA, the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, and the budget resolution for fiscal year 2004 (Cornyn was not a member of the House of Representatives or Senate before 2003 and therefore did not vote on the EGTRRA or the 2002 budget):

From the March 26 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:

MITCHELL: Senator, one of the things -- I want to take you to the budget now because one of the things that you've said about President Obama's budget is that it is a series of missed opportunities and misguided priorities, which includes some new taxes on hardworking, middle class families and small businesses and you've said spending is out of control.

As you see the budget now emerging from House and Senate committees, it's scaled back somewhat. Do you think it is still out of control?

CORNYN: Well, Andrea, the main reason why it's scaled back is because it only is a five-year budget as opposed to President Obama's ten-year budget, but it still spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much.

We've seen, really, reckless spending here in Washington over the last couple of months with the stimulus bill that was printed and distributed at 11 o'clock on Thursday night and we were required to vote on it less than 24 hours later, which left a lot to be desired to say the least, part of which gave rise to the AIG bonus outcry because provisions were literally slipped in the bill that nobody had the time to discover on their own and which weren't identified beforehand. But what concerns me the most is the fact that all of this or virtually of this is borrowed money, borrowed from our children and grandchildren and we're seeing a mountain of debt.

Under the president's budget, the federal debt would double in five years and would triple in ten years and then the last point I would make is that it does virtually nothing about entitlement spending, which is Medicare and Social Security for which there are currently $67 trillion in unfunded federal liabilities.

So we have a huge problem here, and unfortunately, I think, this budget makes it worse and not better.

MITCHELL: All right. John Cornyn, thank you so much for joining us today. I suspect this is only the first round in the budget wars of this cycle. Thank you very much, Senator.

CORNYN: Thanks, Andrea.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)

On the March 25 edition of Fox News' Your World, Graham stated that Obama's budget "is going to kill the economy over time. It triples the national debt." But host Neil Cavuto did not point out that Graham voted for the JGTRRA and the budget resolution for fiscal year 2004, or that as a member of the House of Representatives in 2001, he voted for the EGTRRA and the budget resolution for fiscal year 2002.

From the March 25 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Stocks up as the economy keeps looking up. Orders for big-ticket items, those are big factory items that cover everything from refrigerators to airplanes, surging last month. New home sales up nearly 5 percent, mortgage refinancings soaring more than 40 percent just last week. Proof we don't need the nearly $4 trillion budget the president's pushing on Capitol Hill today? Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says yes. He sits on the Budget Committee.

Senator, you might have got some ammo here, huh?

GRAHAM: Yeah. Well, number one, this budget is going to kill the economy over time. It triples the national debt. In 2019 under the president's budget, we will spend $805 billion to service the interest on the national debt, more than the Defense Department's entire budget. So this is an economic disaster awaiting this country if we pass this budget.

CAVUTO: Now, the administration is going to turn around, Senator, and say, some of these signs of improvement are the direct result of our spending, so we've got to spend more. What do you say?

GRAHAM: Well, I say that home sales going up is probably a sign of better credit. And there are some good deals out there. But 5 percent, given how much home sales are off, is something to be happy about but not to overly celebrate. There are some good deals out there, but we've got to make credit available to the average American to get the economy going. And if you want to create jobs, cut the taxes of people who are hiring folks. The spending we're engaging in is going to bite us in the butt down the road, and it's going to create inflation. We're just throwing money at every conceivable aspect of the economy. And if you just cut taxes and lowered interest rates and sort of, you know, spent wisely, it would be better than what we're doing.

CAVUTO: You know, I spoke to a remarkable young man -- I call him a young man because he's a lot younger than me -- Daniel Hannan, a leading opposition figure in Parliament.

GRAHAM: Yeah, I heard him, I heard him.

CAVUTO: Many argue he could be the next prime minister there. But one of the things he said is it's very tough for government officials sometimes to acknowledge that they shouldn't do anything, and that in the middle of a crisis it takes maybe some courage to say, stand down. I'm paraphrasing there, but what do you make of that, that we, with the best of intentions, are making a bad situation worse?

GRAHAM: Well, I think those of us that voted for TARP I did it in spite of public support because we believed what [former Bush Treasury Secretary Hank] Paulson and others were saying about the imminent collapse of banks, and the Great Depression was an example of where people refused to act when they could. But his point is well-taken about this. You don't spend your way out of a recession. They tried that for about 10 years in the '30s and went nowhere. So what we need to do is keep our tax rates low so the job creators will have a chance to create jobs and create consumer demand by having smart government programs that stimulate the economy and get inventories down. But no, you can't spend your way out of the economy but you can't sit on the sidelines either and ignore what I thought was a very bad moment in American economic history.

CAVUTO: All right. Senator Graham, always good seeing you. Thank you very much.

Sen. John McCain (AZ)

In addition to the interviews of elected officials discussed above, media figures did not note that, while McCain voted against many of the debt-increasing provisions in Bush's first term, during his 2008 campaign for the presidency, McCain proposed making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent. He also proposed repealing the alternative minimum tax (AMT). In a March 14, 2005, letter to then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Congressional Budget Office projected that if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were made permanent and the AMT were adjusted to match -- an act less costly than the total repeal that McCain proposed -- the federal debt held by the public would surpass 140 percent of GDP by 2050.

From the March 8 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE (host): The stock market has dropped 20 percent since the Obama inauguration. Can this now fairly be called the Obama bear market?

McCAIN: No, I -- I think I'd leave -- like to leave that up to the experts. But I do believe that a $1.2 trillion stimulus package -- add that to a $750 billion TARP, add that to this $480 billion supplemental, add it to another TARP that's coming down -- massive deficits, and we are committing generational theft. We are laying a debt on future generations of Americans.

And we had proposal of spending $410 billion for a stimulus, yet after two quarters of economic growth, positive economic growth, we would have ordered a path to balanced budget.

What we're doing is phenomenal, not only as far as the debt is concerned, but the transfer of what the free enterprise system does over the government. It's -- it's the biggest since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

WALLACE: And do you think that is contributing to the decline in the market, the messages that the Obama administration is sending about its agenda?

McCAIN: I think so, but I -- I'm always a little nervous about allowing short-term market activity to drive our conclusions.

But I don't think there's any doubt, talking to friends of mine on Wall Street and people that I know, that this is not a positive signal. All of this spending, all of this debt, all of the policies that will now, in the long term, cause us to have a negative G.T. -- G.B ...

WALLACE: GDP.

McCAIN: ... GDP of growth according to the Congressional Budget Office over time ...

WALLACE: What do you think of Treasury ...

McCAIN: ... of GDP.

From the noon ET hour of Fox News Live on March 26:

JANE SKINNER (anchor): I know. I was just reading the transcript of a speech that you just gave in the last couple of minutes before the Heritage Foundation, about five pages worth of concerns about what we're seeing from the president in this $3.6 trillion plan.

How do you propose not being in the party of power to get changes enacted or at least to change the course that he seems to be heading in?

McCAIN: It's going to be tough; elections have consequences, but we've got to take our case to the American people. Already, there are rising concerns about what we're committing, which is generational theft by mortgaging our kids' and our grandkids' futures. This is a budget guaranteed to have trillions of dollars of deficits forever and we can't sustain it.

SKINNER: You know the reputation has been that the Republicans are becoming the party of no and that critics have said voters aren't going to be listening because you're not offering anything concrete. How do you go about changing that?

McCAIN: Well, I'm not sure because we did have an alternative to the stimulus package, $410 billion instead of $690 (billion), whatever it was. We did have provisions for moving to a balanced budget. We have alternatives and that's why I feel we have an alternative budget, but we have been proposing alternatives.

SKINNER: Senator, I want to move and play a sound bite for our listeners from what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to say about the border concerns and I know, obviously, a concern close to your heart being from the state of Arizona and the situation we're seeing with such violence involving these drug deals in Phoenix.

—R.S.K.

Anonymous said...

April 3rd, 2009 5:11 PM Eastern

BOB BECKEL: Thanks to Obama, America Is Coming Back

Far from looking like a rookie president on his first international trip, President Barack Obama took the G20 Summit in London by storm. He towered over our European allies who had been criticizing the U.S. for months by setting a forceful but graceful tone for the meeting. Obama accepted partial U.S. blame for the economic meltdown but refused to accept suggestions by France and Germany that this was primarily an “Anglo/Saxon” inspired crisis. Obama has made it clear that the US is still the most powerful economic force in the world, planned to remain so, but made it clear the US was not going to go it alone.

America is coming back as the dominant power on the world stage thanks to Barack Obama’s many skills — whether Republicans like it or not.

The president displayed the diplomatic skills of a veteran president and, thus far, has avoided mistakes the Republican peanut gallery back home had expected (and had been rooting for). Mr. Obama, in less than 24 hours, made significant diplomatic breakthroughs that won praise from the foreign policy community. In his first meeting with the Russians George W. Bush looked into then-Russian President Putin’s eyes and found his “soul” but accomplished little else. President Obama, on the other hand, met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and, in an unexpected breakthrough, agreed to restart negotiations on reducing Russian and U.S. nuclear stockpiles which might actually save millions of real souls.

Obama made enormous progress in restoring relations with China which had cooled considerably under President Bush. Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to negotiations on a range of bilateral economic issues and more aggressive joint efforts on the present economic crisis. Obama will visit Beijing this summer to follow-up on high level meetings between the two governments this spring. Did I mention that President Obama and President Medvedev also agreed to a Summit meeting this summer as well?

A Republican friend of mine, after seeing British citizens lining Obama’s motorcade route waving U.S. flags and cheering madly, suggested that the president was so popular in Europe that he could beat any of his counterparts in an election in their own countries. My friend did not say this with admiration but rather with disdain for Obama’s “luck.” It’s not luck. Popularity is earned in words and deeds by U.S. presidents. Between his election and initiatives in the first months of his presidency Obama has engendered popularity abroad, the kind of popularity that eluded George Bush. Instead of eggs being thrown at Bush during his too few European visits, Obama’s motorcade was showered with flowers.

Isn’t it nice to have an American president not only popular around the world but also the unquestioned leader among leaders? America is coming back as the dominant power on the world stage thanks to Barack Obama’s many skills whether Republicans like it or not.

obama's a baffoon... said...

LOL! The only ones who have restored relations with America are members of the US Press Corp. Come to think of it, they're the only one's who ever left...

Anonymous said...

Why Did Republicans Boycott the Senate Judiciary Hearing on Hamilton?

A few weeks ago, all 41 Republican Senators sent a letter to President Obama , threatening that they will use filibusters to prevent majority votes on any nominee who will not rule based on the political agenda of the Republican senator from their home state.

Just what is that agenda? To find out, just look at the record of the judges President Bush put on the federal bench with the enthusiastic support of these same Republican senators. Recent appointees to the courts of appeals found that:

Consumers can be required to pay for merchandise received in the mail even if they never ordered it.

Hospital executives could fire a nurse after she said publicly that she believed new staffing policies jeopardized the health of mothers and their babies.


An employee could be fired for complaining about serious racially inflammatory comments in the workplace.

Republicans were all in favor of a straight majority vote -- with no filibustering -- to support judges with that kind of political agenda.

With the appointment of Judge Hamilton, President Obama has signaled that he will nominate highly qualified judges who will uphold our Constitution and the law to provide equal justice and protect personal freedoms for everyone in America, not just a few.

The boycott is especially ironic given that Judge Hamilton not only meets those high standards, he is supported by the Republican Senator from his home state of Indiana, Richard Lugar (R-IN).

Still not sure that the Republicans are doing all they can to ensure the courts carry out their political agenda? What else explains the blatant hypocrisy of saying the Senate had no right to question President Bush's nominees, but President Obama must first get the Republicans' blessing before making his nominations?

Look at what Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) said to Democrats about President Bush's nominees in a statement on the floor of the Senate in 2006:

"We simply do not have the prerogative of deciding who it is we would prefer to see on the Court or who it is we might find more philosophically suitable to us or more to our liking."

The American people can't let the Republicans block nominees who don't support their political agenda. We can't continue to have a country where there is one set of rules for a few at the top and a different set for the rest of us.

Find out more about Judge Hamilton and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals at www.allianceforjustice.org.

Anonymous said...

Obama Gets Largely Positive Reviews On Trip

By Jim Malone
Washington

03 April 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama during a press conference at the end of the G20 Summit in London, 02 Apr 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama is getting generally positive reviews as he makes his first overseas trip as president.

As Mr. Obama made his international debut on the world stage, an unmistakable change in tone and attitude emerged about how the United States will deal with the rest of the world. "I don't come bearing grand designs. I'm here to listen, to share ideas," he said.

Mr. Obama promised a new era of cooperation with U.S. allies abroad during last year's presidential election campaign. And the new president renewed that pledge at news conferences in London where he attended the G-20 summit Thursday and at a campaign-style town hall event in Strasbourg, France where he was preparing for the 60th anniversary NATO summit.

"America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes. We are confronting the greatest economic crisis since World War Two. The only way to confront this unprecedented crisis is through unprecedented coordination," he said.

The president's first major trip abroad has dominated not only the U.S. news media, but international news coverage as well.

At a news conference in London, international journalists competed with one another to get the president's attention. "One correspondent not from America and then I will--(REPORTERS YELLING)--You know, we are not doing bidding here. Come on," he said.

First Lady Michelle Obama has also made a splash on the trip, whether meeting Queen Elizabeth or making an emotional visit to a girl's school in London. "All of you are jewels. You are precious and you touch my heart," he said.

To be sure, the coverage has not been universally positive. Some international journalists have described the president as aloof, and significant differences remain with some U.S. allies over how to handle the international financial crisis and the war in Afghanistan.

But Weekly Standard Editor Fred Barnes says in general the coverage of President Obama's trip has been noteworthy. "I've been through presidential honeymoons and early periods before, but I don't think anybody has quite dominated the media and everything else the way he has," he said.

Barnes is a guest on VOA's Issues in the News program, as is veteran Washington correspondent Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News. "I thought that the commentary and the rhetoric of these leaders about Obama was gushing in the extreme, but it is another indication that everybody wants to bask in the reflected glory of the new guy, who is not George W. Bush," he said.

World leaders have been eager to talk to and be photographed with Mr. Obama during the trip.

Political analyst Richard Wolffe told VOA that world leaders want some of Mr. Obama's popularity to rub off on them. "They are doing that because he is popular with their own people, which means that they get some reflected glory at home, and that is where you get (political) leverage, because this is an American leader who can speak over the heads of the domestic leaders, and that is powerful," he said.

Good reviews of the president's performance abroad could also bolster his political standing at home.

Pollster Peter Brown says that for now Americans seem patient as they await the result of the president's efforts to revive the ailing U.S. economy. "We asked, for instance, how voters felt about some of his programs and again, they are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt," he said.

Recent polls give President Obama an approval rating of between 58 and 64 percent, and some experts believe that number could rise depending on how the public reacts at the end of his overseas trip next week.

Anonymous said...

REPUBLICAN PARTY ON WAY TO EXTINCTION IN CALIFORNIA

California Dems target 8 GOP districts

Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer

Saturday, April 4, 2009

California GOP voter registration is "dropping like a rock," a new study shows, declining so fast that Democratic Party officials see an unprecedented opportunity to gain voters and House seats in the 2010 election.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted 35 districts across the country represented by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives - including eight in California - that were won by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, said Jennifer Crider, the committee spokeswoman.

The Democrats plan increased appeals to voters in those areas and will make aggressive efforts to recruit Democratic candidates to run against the Republican incumbents, she said.

A new study suggests that Republican numbers in California are falling precipitously, even in the historically strongest bastions of GOP voters.

"The big picture is that, currently, there is not one single state legislative or congressional district that has a majority of the voters registering Republican," says Allan Hoffenblum, who just finished an analysis for the California Target Book, a nonpartisan publication that regularly analyzes state congressional and legislative races.

Hoffenblum says he can't recall another time in state history when the GOP was in such a dire situation: "Republican registration in California is dropping like a rock.

"There's a large slice of voters there being turned off by the Republican Party," said Hoffenblum. "What's really hurting them there is an increase in middle-class Asian and Latino voters - and they're not voting Republican. They're registering decline-to-state."

The vulnerable California districts with Republican representatives that were won by Obama are those of Reps. Dan Lungren of Gold River (Sacramento County), Mary Bono-Mack of Palm Springs, David Dreier of San Dimas (Los Angeles County), Elton Gallegly of Thousand Oaks (Ventura County), Brian Bilbray of Solana Beach (San Diego County), John Campbell of Newport Beach (Orange County), Ken Calvert of Riverside and Howard "Buck" McKeon of Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County), the committee says.

Even Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed surprised this week at the number of Republicans her party's campaign experts are targeting.

"I don't know about eight seats. ... I do know there is a tremendous enthusiasm ... to enjoy the prospects of more Democrats in California," she told The Chronicle. "Some of this is coming from races for the state Legislature. Some of those districts are really becoming more and more Democratic. And so they're saying, 'Well, maybe there's an opportunity to spring from that.' "

But state Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro - who is considering a run for Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher's soon-to-be-vacated Contra Costa seat in the 10th Congressional District - said the GOP will have its own opportunities in the midyear cycle.

"Political trends come and go - and 2010 is not going to be a good year for Democrats," said Del Beccaro, who publishes the PoliticalVanguard.com Web site. "Between the unemployment and the exploding deficits, Republicans will be competitive if we have a strong message on the problems facing America. Big debt and big taxes will not sell."

Hoffenblum said his studies show a more complex problem facing the California GOP, which is confronting a base of voters that is crumbling under its feet.

He said Republicans held majorities in several state legislative districts in 2001 - when districts were redrawn and gerrymandered to protect the territories of both the GOP and Democrats in California.

But his latest Target Book tracked "significant drops in GOP registration," an average of 5 to 7 points even in those strong conservative districts. That's due to a one-two punch - legions of GOP voters who are reregistering as "decline to state" and the growing ranks of younger, ethnic voters, particularly Latinos, who simply are not drawn to the party's message, Hoffenblum said.

The Republican problems are dramatized in areas like Congressional District 3, the Sacramento district Lungren represents, which is considered a stalwart of GOP conservatism.

In 2001, the district's voter registration was 54 percent Republican, 34 percent Democrat, and 13 percent "decline to state," Hoffenblum said.

His latest analysis shows that the same district has lost nearly 30 percent of its GOP base and is now 40 percent Republican, 38 percent Democrat and 18 percent decline-to-state.

There, as in other regions of California, "Republicans can no longer be elected by Republican alone - they need crossovers," Hoffenblum said. "The decline-to-states will be a significant factor in the 2010 election cycle."

The Democratic campaign committee's Crider says: "If you just look at how close a race that Lungren had ... it tells you how far these districts have changed - and the members are not changing with them.

"There's a lot of strong Democrats who have expressed some interest in running," she said. "Right now, in the political calendar, we're in the recruiting phase."

California GOP state Chair Ron Nehring says Democrats won't find their work easy.

He notes that none of the eight districts will have an open seat in 2010, giving all eight GOP incumbents a huge advantage.

And 2010 "is on track to be a 'correction' election where the opposition party picks up seats ... as voters correct for Democrats' overreaching," he said.

Hoffenblum observes that Democrats will have an even tougher job if they fail to offer more centrist candidates to appeal to the all-important decline-to-state middle ground.

But California Republicans, he said, haven't shown they are focused on the job, either.

"They're too busy recalling all those (moderate Republican) legislators to do something about it," Hoffenblum said. "It's a sign of a party in decline - they're eating their own."

Anonymous said...

News Hounds
We watch FOX so you don't have to.

Bigoted Hannity Suggests Obama Not Thankful Enough For Being Elected, Harbors Deep Resentment “That He Just Hides"


Sean Hannity was full of smears and jeers for President Obama in Europe last night (4/3/09), all the while posturing as some kind of super patriot (who just happens to hate the large segment of Americans who call themselves liberal or support Obama). As part of his attacks, Hannity suggested Obama was not thankful enough for having been elected and harbors deep resentment “that he just hides.” Given Hannity's track record of animosity toward African Americans and friendliness toward bigots (including at least one white supremacist), there's little doubt, at least in my mind, that Hannity was suggesting that Obama's “resentment” was racially oriented. With video.


What Hannity was worked up over last night was Obama's remarks in Europe earlier in the day. Hannity began his show with the inflammatory headline, “Obama attacks America” and saying that Obama did “his best Dixie Chicks impression.” With utmost bullyboy Hanctimony, Hannity said, “Of a country I am proud of, Obama attacks America.” Funny how such an America lover spends so much time attacking it.

“Patriotic” Hannity then played a clip of Obama speaking, selectively edited to show Obama criticizing the United States, conveniently leaving out the part where he criticized Europe for their anti-American sentiments, calling them “not wise,” as well as the part where Obama said that America and Europe need each other. Media Matters caught FOX's new website making a similar edit.

Really wearing his love for country on his sleeve, Hannity took a swipe at another segment of it. “The liberal tradition of blame America first, well – that's still alive.” And who was blaming America first now, Sean?

He went on to attack a few more Americans. “Should we really be surprised, from a man who sat in Rev. Wright's church, from a man who launched his political career in the home of a man who bombed the Pentagon and is unrepentant?”

Then it was time for America-loving Hannity to lay some hate on Michelle Obama. “Mrs. Obama may not be proud of her country but I bet she's proud of her husband tonight.”

I'm sure Hannity's white supremacist former chum must have been proud of him.

Then, with laughably unintentional irony, Hannity hammily asked, “Gee, Mr. President, I wonder where people get the idea that Americans are arrogant.”

Moments later, Hannity swaggered up on his “more patriotic than thou” high horse where he could brag a little more about all the reasons he thinks America (excepting, of course, President Obama, his associates and liberals) is superior. Hannity said. “All we have done, just in the last century alone, to save Europe from themselves.” Hannity later said, “We're the most generous people on earth... We've advanced the human condition more than any other country on the face of this earth, while Europe has adopted socialism.”

Gee, Mr. Hannity, do you think that might be construed as just a tad arrogant?

Guest Mike Huckabee said, “This nation has been given a unique place in history. Now some people don't believe that.” We know who he meant by “some people,” and it wasn't the Europeans. Huckabee went on to say that even Richard Dreyfuss, “no conservative,” agreed. “He recognizes that America is special,” Huckabee said, with the clear implication that Obama did not.

Somehow those two patriots “forgot” Obama's election night speech in Chicago where he said, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

“He's diminishing ourselves,” Hannity said. “All that we've done for the world. Why doesn't he tell that story, the great American story, the great American sacrifice, the blood, the sweat, the tears? Why? Why didn't he say that?”

For the same reason you don't go bragging about your own house when you go to a friend's housewarming party, of course. But “patriotic” Hannity was so intent on suggesting that Obama hates America that he spent no time trying to get the answer to his question.

After chuckling derisively over Obama's call for a nuclear-free world, Hannity moved in for the race card.

“Here he is, he achieved in this country the highest office in the land,” Hannity began. “The American people elected Barack Obama. I think it says more about him that he didn't make the case... about the goodness and the greatness and the wonder of America, and he talked about Americans' arrogance... Didn't we see all of this in the campaign, and as I was bringing up. Didn't Rev. Wright give us a little insight into his thought process? Didn't, you know, Michelle Obama, 'America's a downright mean country'... Didn't we get some insight? When you sat on a board and give speeches with Bill Ayers, Do you think he harbors deep resentment that he just hides? 'Cause I believe he does.”

Hannity never directly stated any racial context but the suggestion was clear: That Obama was not thankful enough to have been elected the first black president and was harboring “black” resentment. What other kind of resentment would Hannity be referring to? Given Hannity's friendly associations with a white supremacist, with "most blacks are racists" Jesse Lee Peterson and with other notable bigots such as Mel Gibson, Duane “Dog” Chapman and Andy Martin, and given Hannity's obsession with black racism against whites (which was also reflected in a later segment favorably profiling a reverse discrimination lawsuit) the likelihood is great that Hannity had race on his mind when he said that.

But that wasn't enough smearing for one segment. Hannity went on to say Obama was “lowering our defenses and he's emboldening the world's enemies."

Funny, Hannity must have forgotten how he thought that criticizing our president in a time of war emboldened our enemies. I guess that was only when it was a Republican president.

How long can it be before “Great American” Hannity accuses Obama of being a traitor?

Anonymous said...

Conservatives are like weak children who can't look at reality and admit mistakes like adults. They're always perfect and everyone else is wrong...sick, weak, childish motherfuckers.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE how lefties know so little that they STILL insist on calling REpublicans FASCISTS when their messi-duh is creating the biggest damned government the world ever witnessed.
You can't make this stuff up.
Go back to school, leftists...maybe you can at LEAST get the terminology right. And, maybe, you can learn not to love Lenin? Thanks, it would really do America a HUGE FAVOR. geeeZ

Anonymous said...

Hey, what WAS obama picking up in front of the Saudi KING the other day, do you know?
OH, he was BOWING to the King? WHY, it's not protocol, especially for an American president. but.......no mention of that from the left.
Let's just slam Hannity, that's far more important.
And our lives are in the lefty hands......we should all be running scared. But, hey, maybe if WE put down OUR nukes, everybody else will say "OH, GOODY, let's put OURS DOWN, TOO!"

"Dope and Chains".........you voted for him, not me.

Anonymous said...

The First Shrink

Barack Obama grew up learning how to slip in and out of different worlds — black and white, foreign and American, rich and poor.

The son of an anthropologist, he developed a lot of “tricks,” as he put it, training himself to be a close observer of human nature, figuring out what others needed so he could get where he wanted to go.

He was able to banish any fear in older white folk that he was an angry young black man — with smiles, courtesy and, as he wrote in his memoir, “no sudden moves.” He learned negotiating skills as a community organizer and was able to ascend to the presidency of the Harvard Law Review by letting a disparate band of self-regarding eggheads feel that they were being heard and heeded.

As Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard law professor who mentored the young Obama, put it, “He can enter your space and organize your thoughts without necessarily revealing his own concerns and conflicts.” He can leave you thinking he agrees, when often he’s only agreeing to leave you thinking he agrees.

He privately rolls his eyes at the way many in politics and government spend so much time preening and maneuvering for credit rather than simply doing their jobs. Yet with that detached and novelistic eye that allows him to be a great writer, he is also able to do a kind of political jujitsu, where he assesses the bluster and insecurities of other politicians, defuses them, and then uses them to his advantage.

Gabriel Byrne’s brooding psychoanalyst on “In Treatment” might envy Barack Obama’s calming psychoanalysis in Europe. He may not have come away with all he wanted substantively. His hand was too weak going in, and there was too much hostility toward America, thanks to W.’s blunders and Cheney’s bullying. But he showed a psychological finesse that has been missing from American leadership for a long time.

“Each country has its own quirks,” he said at his London press conference, indicating that you had to intuit how much you could prod each leader.

W. always bragged about his instincts, saying he knew whom to trust based on his gut. But even with the help of psychologists putting together profiles of dictators and other major players for our intelligence services, Bush and his inner circle were extraordinarily obtuse about reading the motivations and the intentions of friends and foes.

How could it never occur to them that Saddam Hussein might simply be bluffing about the size of his W.M.D. arsenal to keep the Iranians and other antagonists at bay?

W. bristled at French and German leaders because he thought they were condescending to him. He thought he saw into Vladimir Putin’s soul until the Russian leader showed his totalitarian stripes.

W. and Condi were so clueless about the mind-set of Palestinians that Condi was blindsided by the Hamas victory in 2006, learning the news from TV as she did the elliptical at 5 a.m. in the gym of her Watergate apartment.

The Bush chuckleheads misread the world and insisted that everyone else go along with their deluded perception, and they bullied the world and got huffy if the world didn’t quickly fall in line.

President Obama, by contrast, employed smart psychology in the global club, even on small things, like asking other leaders if they wanted to start talking first at news conferences.

With Anglo-American capitalism on trial and Gordon Brown floundering in the polls, Mr. Obama took pains to drape an arm around “Gordon” and return to using the phrase “special relationship.” He gave a shout-out to the Brown kids, saying he’d talked dinosaurs with them.

He won points with a prickly Sarkozy when he intervened in an argument about tax havens between the French and Chinese leaders, pulling them into a corner to help them “get this all in some kind of perspective” and find a middle ground. Mr. Obama also played to the ego of the Napoleonic French leader, saying at their press conference, “He’s courageous on so many fronts, it’s hard to keep up.”

Soon Sarko was back gushing over his charmant Americain ami.

Having an Iowa-style town hall in Strasbourg with enthusiastic French and German students was a clever ploy to underscore his popularity on the world stage, and put European leaders on notice that many of their constituents are also his.

Like a good shrink, the president listens; it’s a way of flattering his subjects and sussing them out without having to fathom what’s in their soul. “It is easy to talk to him,” Dmitri Medvedev said after their meeting. “He can listen.” The Russian president called the American one “my new comrade.”

Mr. Obama, the least silly of men, was even willing to mug for a silly Facebook-ready picture, grinning and giving a thumbs-up with Medvedev and a goofy-looking Silvio Berlusconi.

Now that America can’t put everyone under its thumb, a thumbs-up and a killer smile can go a long way.

Anonymous said...

Fun with Evan's idol,the Hockey Mom:

"The Sarah Palin soap opera has swung into spring.

Palin was unceremoniously disinvited last week from her announced gig as headline speaker at Republicans' annual Senate-House dinner in Washington, D.C. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is replacing her.

Levi Johnston, teenage father of Sarah Palin's grandchild, is spilling beans on Tyra Banks' TV show today. Johnston indicates that he and Bristol Palin were humping like pistons in the governor's Wasilla, Alaska, home. "I'm pretty sure she probably knew," says the now ex-fiance."

Anonymous said...

The whole Alaska GOPig thuggery is at each others throats...kick in the ass.

Erik said...

God Bless you, Evan.

Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you look him up at the drunk tank and kiss his ass in person, Erik?

Anonymous said...

BAD NEWS FOR WINGNUTS

Optimism on U.S. economy up: poll
Tue Apr 7, 2009 9:35am EDT

Americans have grown more optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country since President Barack Obama took office in January, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll on Monday.

Two-thirds of respondents said they approved of Obama's overall job performance.

Just 31 percent said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, the lowest in the 25 years the question has been asked in the poll, The New York Times said.

The number of people who said they thought the United States was headed in the right direction jumped from 15 percent during the final days of Republican President George W. Bush's administration in mid-January, before the inauguration, to 39 percent today, the newspaper said.

The number of respondents who said the country was headed in the wrong direction dropped to 53 percent from 79 percent.

Thirty-four percent said the economy, already contracting, was getting worse, down from 54 percent just before Obama took office.

According to the poll, 20 percent of Americans now think the economy is getting better, compared with 7 percent in mid-January.

The national telephone poll of 998 adults was conducted Wednesday through Sunday. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Anonymous said...

U.S. public: Tanking economy? Blame Wall St., George Bush. President Obama is doing a good job
by Catey Hill
daily news staff writer
MORE BAD NEWS FOR WINGNUTS:

Tuesday, April 7th 2009, 9:48 AM

Take our PollPoll: Americans blame Wall Street, ex-president George Bush for economy. President Obama is doing a good job.

We're in the midst of a recession complete with skyrocketing unemployment, numerous home foreclosures, a credit crunch and many other sour economic factors.

So, who's to blame for this mess? Not President Obama, a new poll finds.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 80 percent of respondents blame banks, financial institutions or corporations for the economic meltdown, 70 percent blame consumers who took on too much debt and the Bush administration's lax regulation, Yahoo! News reports.

Only about 1 in 4 respondents think that U.S. President Barack Obama is not doing enough to combat the crisis.

Moreover, 60 percent approve of how the president is handling the economy, and 64 percent were confident that he would improve the economy - though this is a drop from the 72 percent who said so right before he took office.

The poll surveyed 1,000 adults on Thursday through Sunday. Sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Anonymous said...

More bad news for wingnuts:

Hefty support for Obama's Iraq withdrawal: poll
4 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — More than two-thirds of Americans support President Barack Obama's plans to withdraw most US troops from Iraq, a new poll said Tuesday as Obama paid a surprise visit to Baghdad.

A total of 69 percent backed the withdrawal plan while 30 percent were opposed, the poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp. said.

In February Obama announced he was pulling most combat troops out of Iraq by August 2010, although a force of up to 50,000 will remain until the end of the following year. The current deployment is more than 140,000.

A military accord signed last November between Baghdad and Washington requires all US forces to leave the country by the end of 2011.

The poll was released as Obama arrived for his first visit to Iraq since taking office in January, amid a new upturn in deadly attacks blamed by the Iraqi government and US military on the Al-Qaeda terror network.

The president told CBS television late last month that he would not speed up troop withdrawals from Iraq, arguing the war-torn country was "moving in the right direction" but still needed US help.

The CNN poll of 1,023 respondents was conducted by telephone from Friday to Sunday, and has an error margin of three percentage points.

HoHum, Today's GOPerv said...

Police: Focus on the Family Bible narrator tried to lure teen for sexStephen C. Webster
Published: Monday April 6, 2009





Print This Email This


A Colorado man who works for Evangelical group Focus on the Family has been arrested after he solicited sex online from an investigator posing as a teenage girl, police have said.

"Juan Alberto Ovalle, 42, thought he was corresponding with a girl under the age of 15, but instead it was undercover officers with the Jefferson County district attorney's office, according to court documents," reported the Denver Post.

"...Ovalle was arrested on April 3rd when he drove to an undisclosed location in Lakewood to meet the person he believed to be a teen for sexual purposes," reported Colorado's News Channel 13.

"Between April 2 and April 3 Ovalle is alleged to have made sexually graphic statements in a chat room to a person he believed to be an underage teen, police report," the channel continued. "According to court documents Ovalles also told the teen about the sexual things that he wanted to do to her and ultimately drove from Colorado Springs on April 3 to meet her with the intention of having sexual contact."

"He's scheduled to be formally charged Thursday with two felony counts of criminal attempt sexual assault on a minor and Internet luring of a child," reported the Colorado Springs Gazette. "He is being held in Jefferson County Detention Center in Golden on a $25,000 bond."

"We are all shocked to hear of these allegations and just beginning to look into them," said Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger on Monday.

Focus on the Family was an influential group during the Bush-era and its president, Dr. James Dobson, frequently met with President George W. Bush to lay strategy on how best to rally American Christians behind terror war policies.

Similarly, after Justice Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Dobson received a personal note of thanks from the conservative judge.

To listen in on some of Ovalle's work for Focus on the Family, click over to Audio Biblia.

Looooooooo-zers said...

CBS/NY Times Poll: GOP approval rating at its lowest in 25 years, Obama has 66% approval
April 6, 10:18 PM · 6 comments
ShareThis Feed

AP Photo/Steve ParsonsA CBS/New York Times Poll released today show that Americans are feeling somewhat more confident about the economy than they were before President Obama was inaugurated. In February only 8 % of respondents thought the economy was getting better while this weeks' survey revealed that 20% of respondents believe the economy is getting better.

President Obama is enjoying a 66% approval rating by respondents as opposed to 64% in March.

Republicans didn't fare as well in the poll. 63% of Americans feel the President is more likely to make the right decisions about the economy than the Republicans in Congress. Only 20% of Americans believe the Republicans in Congress is more likely to make the correct decisions.

Congressional Republicans got the lowest approval rating in 25 years with only 31% of respondents giving a favorable review of the GOP.

The Republican party is struggling and that is reflected in the New York Times/CBS poll. The poll mirrors a growing dismay over how the GOP is handling its affairs. The party seems leaderless and without direction. Republican ideology has lost its appeal for moderate Republicans and independents who are concerned about the unfettered fiscal spending that occurred during the Bush years. Moderates and independents are equally dismayed by what appears to be the hijacking of the party by Evangelical right wing conservatives.

The November, 2008 elections were devastating for the Republican party. The party's reaction has been to become obstructionist to the new Obama administration and they are now known as the "party of no."

In response to accusations that they didn't have an alternative plan to the President's budget proposals, the party hurriedly wrote out a Republican budget that relied heavily on cutting taxes for the wealthiest corporations and individuals even further than they were cut under the Bush administration.

The at best, haphazard, at worst, obstructionist, strategy by the GOP has only dragged the party down even further than it was in November. The Republican party had one chance, and only one chance in the first couple of months of the new Obama administration, to at least partially recover from the blow dealt by the November elections. During the campaign, President Obama reiterated time after time that he wanted to work in a bipartisan fashion should he be elected. He planned to reach out to the other side, the Republicans, not merely out of friendship, but for the benefit of the nation. It seemed that Americans wanted nothing more than for Republicans and Democrats to set aside their differences, both personal and ideological to work together to solve the economic crisis. As President, Obama fulfilled his promise and went to extraordinary lengths to show he was sincere once he entered into office. He appointed Republicans to cabinet positions, asked for their input, and listened. Items in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were changed as a result.

But the Republicans still hadn't learned what the November elections meant. They missed their single chance to redeem any shred of dignity or sincerity they had left. They had one opportunity to show that they were sincere about doing what is best for America but they chose obstruction over construction. At every turn since the new President was sworn in, the GOP has shown that they have no intention of working with Democrats and the President to address the needs of the nation. They have instead played bully politics like 12 year old boys on an extended recess. The nation was hoping for the Republicans and the Democrats to work together to fix the economy. Instead, the onus of the burden has been on President Obama and the Democratic Congress because the GOP has been busy kicking sand in the faces of those who would try to put people back to work. The Republicans in Congress didn't understand what the American people so resoundingly tried to tell them in November. America is in the midst of its worst crisis in 75 years and what Americans want is for the President and the Congress to work together to fix the problem. And it is clear that the President and the Democratic Congress is doing their part. But the Republicans have become the party of no, the party of obstructionism and nothing is more frustrating for Americans in trouble. And that is why they have the lowest approval rating they've had in the 25 years since the New York Times/CBS poll has been asking the question.

Anonymous said...

REPUBLICAN THUG PALIN TRYING TO CASH IN ON STEVENS DEBACLE:

There's plenty of guilt to go around in the Ted Stevens case

The charges were dropped, but the Alaska senator is far from vindicated. Prosecutors who blew the case are under investigation. And Sarah Palin's trying to score political points from the mess.
April 8, 2009

Just because a federal judge dismissed all charges Tuesday against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens doesn't mean he's not a crook.

For that matter, we're still trying to figure out which of the clowns in the courthouse circus presented by Stevens' corruption trial is the biggest disgrace: the prominent Republican senator himself, who is loudly trumpeting his vindication despite ample evidence that he accepted expensive gifts without disclosing them as required by law; the federal prosecutors who botched the case against him and committed serious ethical breaches, if not outright crimes, by failing to give evidence to the defense; or one of our least favorite Alaska politicians (and that's saying something), Gov. Sarah Palin, whose disingenuous calls for a new senatorial election are a transparent ploy to further her own political ambitions.


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Last week, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. moved to dismiss the case because new evidence of serious prosecutorial misconduct had emerged. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan not only agreed to do so on Tuesday but took the questionable step of appointing a watchdog to investigate the watchdogs. By the time all this investigating is finished (an internal review by the Justice Department coincides with the external review to be conducted by a Washington attorney), the team that won a conviction against Stevens five months ago might face its own criminal charges. They have plenty to answer for: damaging the credibility of the Justice Department's political corruption unit, wrecking a strong case against Stevens that might have been won without any cheating, and possibly swaying Alaska's senatorial race in November.

None of that gives Stevens anything to crow about. Setting aside the testimony tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, trial transcripts paint him as a man who lived lavishly off gifts from his political backers while concealing his allegiance to them. The loss of his long-held Senate seat is a fitting punishment, even if a court-approved sentence would have been more satisfying.

And then there's Palin. After Holder's decision last week, she called on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who defeated Stevens by fewer than 4,000 votes, to resign so that a new election could be held. Even football games, which are slightly less important than senatorial elections, don't get replayed after the fact because of a bad call on the field. Palin surely knows that no senator has ever resigned because his opponent got a rotten break during the election. Could she be throwing the GOP faithful some red meat in advance of a 2012 presidential race? Does a gut-shot caribou bleed in the woods?

Anonymous said...

Hints of Obama’s Strategy in a Telling 8 Days

DAVID E. SANGER

Published: April 7, 2009

VIENNA — In eight days in Europe, President Obama has started down the road to remaking the global financial system, reinvigorating the NATO commitment to Afghanistan and Pakistan, rewriting nuclear policy, and repairing relations with the Muslim world.

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So, 77 days into his presidency, is there an emerging Obama grand strategy?

Not yet, but that may have been the point. Pragmatic, conciliatory, legalistic and incremental, he pushed what might be called, with a notable exception or two, an anti-Bush doctrine.

There was no talk of pre-emption, or of the American mission to eradicate tyranny. From the Thames to the Bosporus, and at several landmarks in between, Mr. Obama barely mentioned his predecessor. But he emphasized one of their main differences: that the United States planned not only to give greater authority to international institutions that President George W. Bush often shunned, but also to embrace the creation of some new ones. Not surprisingly, these were the applause lines of his journey across the Continent.

When he described his strategy for grappling with nuclear disarmament and countering proliferation, where some of the biggest shifts since the cold war’s end appeared to be under way, Mr. Obama emphasized that treaties and legal norms could help accomplish what sanctions and military pressure had failed to achieve. In doing so, he veered toward a pre-Sept. 11 world order.

“This trip was more about reattaching all the cars on the train and convincing the other leaders that we’re no longer headed for derailment,” one of Mr. Obama’s senior advisers said in London.

But of course, his pragmatic tone was born of necessity: unable to persuade important allies to follow his lead on economic stimulus or Afghanistan, he decided to settle for relationship building over immediate results.

Looking for a grand strategy, a coordinated plan to use American power for broad goals in the world, is always risky. Anyone who tried to discern one 77 days into the Bush administration in 2001, months before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, would have gotten it completely wrong.

It was not until the following year that Mr. Bush declared “fighting terrorists and tyrants” to be the pre-eminent goal of American policy, and months later that he published a national security strategy that declared the United States would never allow the rise of a competitor that could challenge its sole superpower status. And it was not until his second inaugural, nearly two years after the Iraq invasion, that he fully articulated his doctrine that extending freedom to every corner of the earth would be the new American mission.

Tellingly, Mr. Obama talked about taking on terrorists but not tyrants. Al Qaeda had to be destroyed, he said, but Iran, North Korea and Cuba would all be engaged. Gone was Mr. Bush’s signature line that “freedom is on the march” or the insistence that democracy was a God-given right. In both his words and his omissions, Mr. Obama made clear that while he understood the import of secular democracy in places like Turkey, it would no longer be touted alongside iPhones and classic movies as a great American export.

In his first stop, in London, he made no pretense of having a grand strategy for the global financial crisis. He left it to Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain to declare at the Group of 20 meeting that “the new world order is emerging,” and he focused instead on the fixes that the leaders were able to agree on.

But the real significance of the meeting was that he was welcoming China, India, Brazil and others into central, permanent roles in deciding the world economy’s course, even if that made the decision-making unwieldy.

It was an acknowledgment, said Robert Hormats, the vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International, that the financial crisis “accelerated the transition, which was already under way, in which emerging economies broadly share the power and leadership of the global economy.”

Mr. Obama had more of a strategy in place by the time he reached NATO. In the days before the celebration of the alliance’s 60th anniversary, the new administration briefed the allies on a refocused strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, one intended to halt the establishment of a sanctuary for Al Qaeda and other terror groups while downgrading the goal of turning Afghanistan into a centrally controlled democratic state.

He found sympathy but little support. Mr. Obama was talking about new counterinsurgency tactics, a wiser combination of forceful military strikes and far more resources for nation-building, but most of his NATO partners were edging toward the exit. Their constituents, they made clear, were out of patience with the war in Afghanistan. It was when Mr. Obama turned to his vision of a nuclear-weapons-free future, during a speech in Prague, that strategic vision began to trump symbolism.

It is a strategy based on a bet: if the United States demonstrated a willingness to sharply reduce its atomic arsenal, and if it revived treaties that would ban all signers from conducting nuclear tests or producing new uranium and plutonium suitable for bomb-making, it would be far easier to rally nations to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions and North Korea’s presumed arsenal.

Mr. Obama was embracing a concept that the Bush administration had repeatedly rejected. To counter proliferation, he argued, the United States could no longer simply ignore the fact that some countries, like Iran, were signatories to international treaties and could correctly claim a “right” to produce nuclear fuel.

Mr. Bush’s approach was to declare that some countries could simply never be trusted. Mr. Obama’s approach is to tighten the web of treaties and amend the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to make it harder for nations like Iran to limit inspections or refuse to answer questions about suspect documents.

“For me, it is a different world,” Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in his office in Vienna on Monday. “When was the last time you heard a president talk about moving toward zero nuclear weapons? Or fixing a nonproliferation system that is clearly falling apart?”

He added: “We are beginning to see a strategy. What we don’t know yet is whether he can implement it.”

George Won't, GOP Can't said...

MEDIA -- WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST GEORGE WILL FABRICATES ENTIRE RESEARCH CENTER: On Feb. 15, Washington Post columnist George Will wrote an error-riddled, entirely misleading column denying the calamity of climate change. Yesterday, the Wonk Room's Brad Johnson confirmed another egregious error in the column: Will cited "the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center" to falsely claim that sea ice levels have not diminished -- but no such center exists. "The Arctic climate is a research area of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's [UIUC] Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and the informal group of researchers does go by the label of the Polar Research Group," Johnson wrote. "However, 'there is no such center at the University of Illinois,' the UIUC's Dr. John Walsh has informed me in electronic correspondence. 'There is a group of scientists and students working on Arctic climate, but no formal center.'" Despite the numerous outlets that pointed out Will's false claims in his original column, the Washington Post refused to run a correction. In fact, editor Fred Hiatt defended Will at the time, saying he was simply "drawing inferences from data that most scientists reject" and calling Will's critics "irresponsible."

Foostio said...

Has there ever been a bigger, crazier carnival than the GOP crackup? May it go on and on.

Anonymous said...

TRADITIONAL REPUBLICAN BULLY BOY TACTICS FAILING DISMALLY:

Eric Cantor's Pathetic Ambush Strategy Doesn't Even Interest GOP Congress

By Tommy Christopher

Apr 8th 2009 2:30PM


House Minority whip Eric Cantor's big idea to get the GOP back on top is to take a page from Biff Tannen: Pick on the freshmen. Politico reports that Cantor has been setting traps for the Dem frosh all year:
Foxx is part of a team of Republican members that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has put together to create embarrassing, YouTube-worthy moments for vulnerable Democratic freshmen.

Cantor's floor staff has created a photo album to help identify the 42 most vulnerable Democrats. The aides send daily e-mails to the members of the attack team and alert lawmakers when these targeted members are speaking on the floor. They even draft quick scripts to help focus the questioning.
It's a pathetic strategy, especially in light of the important work that needs to be done, but the most pathetic part isthat Cantor's YouTube "Gotcha!" moments haven't even drummed up enough interest to push their view counts beyond the number of republicans in Congress. A review of Cantor's Youtube channel shows that almost all of these videos fall well short of the 219 mark. You'd think they could manage to get even their friends and families to watch.

Anonymous said...

A MAJOR BLOW AGAINST ONE OF THE PILLARS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY:

A victory against tobacco

By Derrick Z. Jackson

April 7, 2009

IT IS an odious victory, yet a victory nonetheless. After millions of premature deaths from cigarettes since the first surgeon general's warnings on packs in the mid-1960s, the House voted last week, 298-112, to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco.

Discuss
COMMENTS (16)
Henry Waxman, the California crusader on this issue for nearly three decades, called the vote historic, though "it has taken us far too long to get to this point . . . FDA is the only agency with the right combination of scientific expertise, regulatory experience, and public health mission to oversee these products effectively."

The measure now heads to the Senate where it will be championed by Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who has declared tobacco "the most lethal of all consumer products." Kennedy will face some opposition by tobacco-state colleagues such as North Carolina's Richard Burr. But even the number one recipient of tobacco campaign contributions on Capitol Hill, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, acknowledged earlier this year the tidal wave of health concerns about tobacco, citing public no-smoking ordinances throughout his state. "While we are still an important tobacco state, it is not as pervasive as it used to be," McConnell said. ". . . The tobacco culture has largely ended in Kentucky."

The odious part is that tobacco culture is not going away anytime soon. Tobacco still has its tentacles reaching insidiously into state and local politics. Take North Dakota, for instance. Last month, a bid to ban tobacco products on state college campuses failed and last week, the North Dakota House voted down a bill to ban smoking in cars by adults if children under 16 are inside. The law was proposed by middle school children in Williston. One Republican, Representative Darrell Nottestad of Grand Forks, supported the bill saying, "An infant in a smoking car has no one to speak for it."

Congress and the Obama administration have done a great service by jacking up the federal cigarette tax this month by 62 cents a pack. As many studies have shown, raising taxes cuts smoking rates. But that still leaves plenty of poor countries to prey on and despite tobacco-control initiatives in many countries, smoking-related deaths are currently on track to rise from its current 5.4 million a year to 8 million people a year, according to the World Health Organization. The CEO of Philip Morris International, Louis Camilleri, earned $37 million in compensation last year, a 68 percent raise. Unlike Detroit car executives who were shamed out of their corporate jets, Camilleri's compensation includes personal use of the company jet, the Associated Press reported last month.

The bill passed by the House would limit more than ever outdoor advertising near schools, ban remaining sports and entertainment sponsorships, ban deceptive "light" and "mild" descriptions of cigarettes and allow the FDA to limit the amount of key ingredients such as nicotine and limit or reduce other ingredients such as menthol or candy-like flavors.

But in order to reduce political roadblocks that could easily be put up by an industry that has thrown $62 million in campaign cash at congressional and presidential races since 1990, the legislation would grant the tobacco industry nonvoting status on a new tobacco products scientific advisory committee. Tobacco manufacturers would get two seats and tobacco growers would get a third. Seven of the nine voting members would be scientists, doctors, or otherwise from the healthcare field.

That understandably rankled the most ardent of tobacco control advocates, but it was enough for Philip Morris to break ranks with lesser cigarette makers to support the legislation, and still retain the support of groups like the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. That Philip Morris or someone from the tobacco industry is about to become an official arm of the government is annoying, but it is better than the endless arms race of lawyers, false advertising, and feel-good cigarette sponsorships. The tobacco bill means of course that cigarettes themselves will not be banned. But America has moved one step closer to blunting the influence of Big Tobacco.

Anonymous said...

We should be so grateful. It looks like the end of the Republican Party is immanent. The Democrats will be without any meaningful opposition. Halleluleh!

John said...

Listen to blivious:

"...even after the most disastrous administration in history!!!!!"

lol

Listen to Perlmutter:

"...which is just one reason why they don't want anything to do with lowbrow, fascist weirdos like Evan Sayet."

Which means there are more. So what the hell are you doing here, pest?

What does "Don't want anything to do" mean to you?

Anonymous chimes in:

"Now, everyong (sic) is laughing at the lunatic."

What does "everyone" mean to you?

You're minds are garbage. You're nothing but useful idiots and deserve the worthless, miserable lives you lead.

blennie said...

Hahaha...did the poor, lonely dickhead get tired of his empty, little blog and come over here blithering some shit no one understands?

John said...

My blog is empty because I exterminated you cockroaches, "blinnie."

And what does "no one" mean to you, "blinnie"?

Same as "everyong" means to anonymous?

Try to enjoy your one term, fantasy interregnum.

I know B. Hussein and his clowns are making it difficult, if not embarrassing, for you to keep pretending that he's not just another lying, liberal lightweight who doesn't know what fuck he's doing, but you should really try, because he's been going downhill mighty quick.

Dismissed, shitling.

All Thave Got are Lies said...

Robinson: Will "Crossed the Line" With Climate Change Distortions

Add Eugene Robinson to the rapidly growing list of Washington Posties who are sick of George Will's efforts to mislead readers about global warming science.

Via Mathew Yglesias, Asked by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about the increase in "made up stuff" in the news lately, Robinson brought up his fellow Post columnist's string of distortions on climate change.

Here's the exchange:


Maddow: Eugene, I feel like factchecking politicians is a full-time job and it is a very fun one. But does it sort of feel like there is just more made up stuff in the daily back and forth of political news right now than usual?

Robinson: It certainly does, and it's distressing. I think there's a distinction here among the examples we cite. What George Will did was cherrypick a sentence in a report, be very persnickety in the way he parsed his sentences, and end up making it sound as if the report had said the exact opposite of what it actually said. He was persnickety enough that his editors, who happen to be my editors, felt he didn't cross the line. I thought he did. And the ombudsman agreed with me, actually, and wrote about it in last Sunday's paper

Yesterday, we told you about push-back against Will from Post reporters, editors, a blogger, and even the paper's cartoonist.

Anonymous said...

hahaha...he sounds sooooo angry...poor John is soooo lonely he has to come over here looking for attention from people who find him disgusting.

You'd think he'd at least try to make sense.

Keep clinging to that one term thing, weakling...it'll make life bearable for you for the next FOUR looooooong years.

There won't be a GOPig in the Whitehouse for fifty years.

Fabian said...

Atheists and socialists unite!!! The long reign of morons is over:



Land of the free sours on capitalism: US poll

Published: Thursday April 9, 2009

Bad news for those fearful of "creeping socialism" in the United States -- only 53 percent of Americans now believe capitalism is the better system, according to a new poll Thursday.

Fully 20 percent in the Rasmussen Reports survey said that socialism was their preferred economic system -- a startling number that suggests growing disaffection as the "land of the free" fights its worst recession in decades.

Republican critics fret that President Barack Obama's big-spending recovery policies amount to an un-American "creeping socialism," but Rasmussen said its findings pointed to even greater suspicion of business elites.

It noted that in another survey last month, two out of three Americans said that big, right wing government and big business often collude to undermine the interests of consumers and investors.

The telephone survey of 1,000 people was conducted April 6-7, and has an error margin of three percentage points.

Fabian said...

BTW, who's the nutcase troll? Does anyone know what he's talking...screeching...about?

or care?

F. said...

Oh, we're here for the great selection of liberal articles posted.

And maybe to kick a little troll ass...


Why else?

B. said...

OMG...This John guy is absolutely seething...sounds crazy enough to be the next one of these:


Thanks to some sleuth work on the Internet, we're starting to learn more about Richard Poplawski, the 23-year-old who killed three police officers yesterday in Pittsburgh, evidently out of fear that his guns were going to be taken away.

It appears that what police may be looking at is a budding white supremacist who frequented one of the most popular neo-Nazi websites and harbored an apocalyptic dread of the federal government...

[T]he Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has some corroboration from other sources that indicates he fits this profile:
Richard Andrew "Pop" Poplawski's ex-girlfriend said he dragged her by the hair and threatened to shoot her.

He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday.

"He was a violent, abusive man. He dragged me by the hair, pulling me across the floor. I saw him choke his own mother. He was controlling," said Melissa Gladish, 23, of Verona, his former girlfriend who received a protection from abuse order against him in 2005. She said she had no doubt he would kill someone.

I can't begin to tell you how frightened this makes me. The radical right wingers that were so prevalent during the Clinton administration went dormant during the Bush years. Now that Obama is in office, and irresponsible sociopaths like Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann are recklessly stoking the fires of paranoid rightwing victimization, I fear we will face countless tragedies like what just went on in Pittsburgh.

When right wing radicals get upset, they either shoot lots of people and or blow up a building with lots of people in it (see, e.g., the FBI building in Oklahoma City).

They stoke their followers’ paranoia with bullshit that, mostly, they know is bullshit, for ratings and a shot at political traction. Did they expect the American revolution?

In response to John’s famous Peak Wingnut post I pointed out that political irrelevance will hardly stifle rightwing victimology but feed it like CO2, manure and sunlight. I tend to call the relevant phenomenon ‘toxic victim syndrome’, or TVS. The feeling that one is a powerless victim has a corrosive psychological effect. It exempts self-appointed victims from normal moral standards. It justifies (in one’s own mind) an endless list of behaviors that an ordinary person would never consider.

How many people have to die before the right-wing media acknowledges their complicity in these kinds of attacks and voluntarily dials back their inflammatory rhetoric and incitements to violence?
Sadly, I think it's going to take a long time for that to happen -- and a lot more innocent people are going to die in the interim. I guess this is what "America First" means for the radical right under an Obama presidency.

And, of course, when you point out that certain individuals with all their talk about “revolution” and “armed insurrection” are inciting this kind of behavior in unstable people, you will get howls of protest about the 1st Amendment and what not. Sure, crazy people do crazy things. But that doesn’t make it responsible to encourage them, which is what a lot of really foolish people are doing right now for purely political reasons.

Update: One more final word from Andrew Sullivan:

Many of us have worried that the heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces might spill over at some point into violence in the hands of individuals prone to lashing out. We now have what seems to be a clear instance of that and three dead police officers. One wonders whether Fox News or the Second Amendment fanatics will chill it out a little. And then one realizes who we're talking about.

B. said...

Indictment of Bush Officials May Come in Days
Newsweek Breaks Shocking New Revelations About Disappeared Persons
From Pinochet to Bush, the Path to Prosecution

The imminent indictment in Spanish courts of former officials of the Bush Administration is being applauded by civil and human rights organizations and legal scholars. The popular wave of support for indictment of Bush officials will inevitably lead to Bush himself.

* Newsweek Magazine blew open more shocking news about Bush' system of kidnapping, secret prisons and torture. A secret Red Cross report indicates that many kidnapped and tortured people were turned into "disappeared persons" by the CIA under instructions from Bush and Cheney. A former Bush administration official told Newsweek's Michael Isikoff that the information had been hidden from the Red Cross. "The majority of the people in the CIA program are unaccounted for. We don't know what happened to them," a human rights investigator told Isikoff.

* Like Bush, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, thought his power would shield him from criminal prosecution when his regime kidnapped and tortured and assassinated individuals who became known as the "disappeared." It was when Spanish courts brought indictments against Pinochet that everything changed. As Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights said, "the importance of this investigation [in Spain] can not be understated. Contrary to statements by some, the Spanish investigations are not 'symbolic.' Just ask Augusto Pinochet, who was stranded under house arrest in England and who ultimately faced criminal charges in Chile because of the pressure of the Spanish courts. WHEN ARREST WARRANTS ARE ISSUED,24 COUNTRIES IN EUROPE ARE OBLIGATED TO ENFORCE THEM. The world is getting smaller for the torture conspirators.”

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General has called for the prosecution of Bush and other high officials in the United States, stating, "The greatest danger arising from impunity for President Bush and his cohorts would be that all subsequent officials will feel secure in committing the same crimes and the people, having failed to compel impeachment for such open, notorious and egregious crimes, will feel even more helpless to prevent them. Ultimately the power and the responsibility to prevent criminal acts by government is with the people."

B. said...

The John whined, "My blog is empty because I exterminated you cockroaches, "blinnie.""

So, is he saying that no one else comes to his silly, little site?

John said...

You're a projecting liar.

You evil assholes wrote books and made movies about assassinating an American president and excitedly blogged about a second civil war and secession of the blue states from the red states after Bush trounced the pathetic Kerry in '04, and for eight years loudly and proudly hoping that the American president would fail in any and every undertaking so as to justify your pre-existing hate for him and the "Worst President Ever!!!!" BULLSHIT you sniveling lowlifes have been insisting and circulating since '02 with that stupid "Bush Resume" crock of shit.

"he whole Alaska GOPig thuggery is at each others throats...kick in the ass."

Does saying that make you feel better after the charges were dropped against Ted Stevens, after you went ariound the blogosphere for months saying he was the most corrupt criminal politician since Richard Nixon and Tom Delay?

Go to hell.

Nevermind. You're already there.

To all the good guys and gals: God bless you, and Happy holidays.

And don't worry. Historically, we are overdue for a one-termer, and Obama fits the profile of one very well.

"It wasn't a bow!"

Pathetic.

John said...

The B sneered:

"John whined, 'My blog is empty because I exterminated you cockroaches, "blinnie.'"

So, is he saying that no one else comes to his silly, little site?"

Grammatically, I was saying that. But actually, it's just empty of you cockroaches after I sprayed the Raid.

btw, have you seen the polls lightly?

lol

Even Bush had less polarizing numbers than Obama does at the same time in his presidency.

That's not good. There's a lot more of us.

sinestio said...

Wow, this poor dope is seeeeeeeeeething. We'll be reading about him in the papers very soon.

And, yeah, I, for one, have seen the polls...O is in the clouds and the GOP is in the toilet with the lowest numbers in modern history.

What part of that don't you understand? And from those figures,the poor weakling can only survive by totally reversing logic and seeing that as good for the GOP!!

Even Newt is saying there'll be a third party if the GOP doesn't reform.

Duuuuuuuh!

Perlmutter said...

There are a lot more of them.

See, in the wingbat world 25% is more than 63%.

Now, you know why everyone had so much fun harrassing this poor fool before he was discovered soliciting sex from strangers and before even a cursory look at his archives found him hosting racists and homophobes.

At that point he did the fetal variation where they hide and stick their heads up their asses.

The few remaining Republicans are all such grotesques who can blame anyone for kicking them around.

Anonymous said...

Another big day for the Obama stock market.

larry blivins said...

Move over Rush, it's now Beck's Republican Party
Apr 10, 2009

Republicans Gone Wild
Back in late February, a month into the Obama presidency, GOP senators said some outlandish things -- first when Richard Shelby seemed to question Obama’s citizenship, and then when Jim Bunning predicted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg would be dead in nine months. Well, now some of their House colleagues are giving those statements a run for their money. Presumably doing his best McCarthy impression, GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus said there were 17 members of the U.S. House who are socialists but didn’t name names, the Birmingham News reported. And that came after the always-controversial Rep. Michele Bachmann called for an “orderly revolution” against Obama’s policies. (“We can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer,” she said.) Just five months after Obama’s decisive 53%-46% victory, we’ve got to ask: What is going on with some Republican elected officials? Are they watching too much Glenn Beck? Seriously, could the bizarre rantings of this new darling of the right have something to do with this? GOP lawmakers, when speaking to supporters at home, are getting more odd questions. Could this Beck phenomenon be the reason? He truly has a "middle of the night" am radio quality to some of his rants.

Conservatives are inviting their craziest to the table, and seating them at the head.

O'Reilly and Rush must be getting so jealous. They've spent so much effort trying to push their party to its right fringe, and Beck comes and laps them seemingly overnight. Great for Beck, fantastic for Fox, not so good for Republicans, as they continue becoming a national laughingstock.

Anonymous said...

American Jews Approve of Obama's Handling of Arab-Israeli Conflict

By Mohamed Elshinnawi

Washington, D.C.
09 April 2009


A new survey of American Jews shows strong support for a more assertive American role in Middle East peace efforts, even if that means exerting greater pressure on Israel to reach a compromise with its Arab neighbors.

The poll released by J Street - a Jewish-American political action group that describes itself as pro-peace - has some good news for President Barack Obama.

The survey shows that Jewish-Americans - who gave Obama 78 percent of their vote in last November's presidential election - solidly back his Middle East policies. Seventy-two percent say they approve of the way he is handling the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Pollster Jim Gerstein says survey results indicate American Jews believe a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the national interests of Israel and the United States
"This poll shows that American Jews support President Obama's initiatives to reassert American leadership in the region, as it relates to advancing the peace process," says Jim Gerstein.

Gerstein's firm, Gerstein/Agne Strategic Communications, conducted the poll for J Street after both U.S. and Israeli elections and the Israel-Gaza conflict. Gerstein says the new poll also shows solid support among American Jews for a central tenet of the J Street organization: that peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is key to a broader Middle East peace and is therefore in the national interests of both Israel and the United States.

Gerstein notes that when asked whether military superiority alone or a peace agreement with a strong military would provide better security for Israel, Jewish Americans favor a peace agreement, 49 to 36 percent.


American Jews favor a peace agreement with a strong military over military power alone for providing security for Israel. Click image to enlarge

"In our survey, by a 13 point margin, American Jews believe that a peace agreement is better for Israel's long-term security than military superiority," he says.

Gerstein adds that 69 percent of American Jews say they would support U.S. negotiations with a unified Hamas-Palestinian Authority government to achieve a peace agreement with Israel. Respondents were reminded before the question that the United States and Israel do not recognize Hamas leadership in Gaza because of its support for terrorism and its refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist.

With a new government about to take power in Israel that might not support the long-sought two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the poll reveals that most American Jews favor the idea of Israel and a neighboring Palestinian state peacefully co-existing.


Support for an active American role in the peace process remains strong. Click image to enlarge

"We asked people to react to a peace agreement that is very similar to where the parties - the Palestinian, Israeli and American negotiators - were eight years ago following the Camp David talks," Gerstein says. "That peace proposal included land swaps, land for peace, addressed Jerusalem, addressed the refugees, and by a 76 to 24 margin, American Jews supported that peace agreement."

The poll results are based on a survey of 800 self-identified American Jews conducted between late February and early March 2009. The responses also suggest that the J Street organization, now just one year old, is starting to gain traction with many American Jews.

Isaac Luria is J Street's campaign director. He says there has long been a need for a counterweight to the influential pro-Israel lobby in the United States, known as AIPAC, and other right-wing American Jewish organizations.

"I think there is a need for an alternative in Washington, because the people who have been really the ones influencing American foreign policy when it comes to Israel and the Middle East and speaking for the Jewish community on these issues have come from the far right, and they do not represent the majority of American Jews on these issues."

Luria believes the poll suggests that many American Jews believe it is possible to support Israel without being pro-war or necessarily agreeing with Israeli government policies. While there is a vigorous debate inside Israel itself about what is best for Israel's long-term security, Luria says similar debate has been lacking in the U.S. media, within the American Jewish community and in the U.S. Congress.

"We went up to Capitol Hill and met with lawmakers. We presented the findings [of our survey] also to the White House," he says. "We are showing that there is a broad…political support for these positions in the American Jewish community. That undermines one of the key points that those in the far right like to make."

Luria says the J Street organization hopes to contribute to the shift in American policy toward a more active, assertive U.S. role in Middle East peacemaking. He believes such a shift will be good for both Israel and the Palestinians and will help the Obama administration achieve its goal of better relations with the Muslim world.

Anonymous said...

Americans More Optimistic; Still Hate GOP

The latest New York Times poll is loaded with good news for the Obama administration and news that would be devastating for the GOP if it were ever able to penetrate the conservative-media echo chamber. While the public is still pretty pessimistic about the future, it's considerably less so than it was before Barack Obama took office. Thirty-nine percent of respondents in the Times poll think the country is going in the right direction and 53 percent say the wrong direction, a substantial improvement from January, when the numbers were 15 and 79, respectively. Similarly, 20 percent of those polled think the economy is getting better and 34 percent worse, versus 7 and 54 in January.

But it's the political numbers that are truly striking. Obama has a 66 percent approval rating, which is the highest this poll has recorded, while the GOP's favorability is at 31 percent, the lowest the poll has recorded in 25 years of asking the question. Arguably more remarkable still is that, asked whether Obama or the GOP Congress would be more likely to make "the right decisions about the nation's economy," respondents broke for Obama 63 percent to 20 percent. That means that even within the 31 percent rump that holds a positive view of the GOP, at least a third trust Obama's instincts on the economy equally or more. And why shouldn't they? Despite Rush Limbaugh's best efforts just 2 percent of respondents blame Obama for the state of the economy, compared to 33 percent who blame George W. Bush. (Wall Street and Congress come in for 21 and 11 percent, respectively.)


The Democratic Party, while not as popular as its leader, is still pretty popular, with 56 percent favorability. Moreover, 19 percent fewer respondents think the Democrats are too heavily influenced by "big business" than feel the Republicans are, and the Dems have a massive 35-point edge on the question of "which party is more concerned with the needs and problems of people like yourself." The poll also gives the Dems a 16-point edge in respondent self-identification, up from 10 points in February, and just a tick off the inaugural high of 18 points. (Without sifting through the figures too obsessively, this looks like the largest edge since 1992.)

There's more along these lines on taxes (74 percent of respondents think raising them on those earning over $250K is a "good idea"), health care (57 percent say they're willing to pay higher taxes themselves for universal coverage), foreign policy, and the like. The usual caveats all apply, of course--it's just one poll (though others seem to generally conform), public sentiment is volatile, etc., etc. Still, I encourage anyone interested to give the whole poll a look.

--Christopher Orr

John said...

Hey Lana. So are you going to come over and suck my dick, or what?

And what's this:

"And from those figures,the poor weakling can only survive by totally reversing logic and seeing that as good for the GOP!!"

What else? Pure projection.

Go fuck yourself, Perlmutter.

See?

John said...

And btw, Perlmutter, I hosted hard leftists, too, who are the lowest of the low.

Except you. You have the distinction of being the one and only troll I've ever booted and banned for life. I had to draw the line somewhere, see.

Congratulations. It takes a special kind of major league asshole to cross it.

Now what are you going to do about it?

Blennie said...

So, his blog imploded due to sexual perversion and bigotry? Haha...amazing...it sounds just like a mini version of the Republican'ts themselves.

Now, the poor guy is having a public breakdown right here in front of us.

Again...just like the Party of No itself.

We must have done something really good to deserve our own show like this. Sounds like Perlmutter tied the final knot in his straight jacker.

Go, John, show us some more hate and rage. You're registering way up on the Richter.

Blennie said...

"Pure projection."

hahahahahahahaha

So it's the Dems who are registering at 25%?

You wonder if even the slightest glimmer of reality ever reaches their poor, tortured brains.

I don't know...I'm thinking we should take it easy on this poor dope...sounds like some innocent people might get in the way of his -- no doubt heavily armed -- coming crackup.

Tiny, Tiny Old Pary said...

Tiny OLD Party...The GOP is also tinier than ever: Only 24 percent of respondents from one recent Pew poll identified as Republican, an astoundingly low number for a two-party country.

Sounds like it's withered and dying.

Good riddance.

(elite) LibGal said...

Marxist theorist Leo Panitch, a professor of political science at York University in Toronto, says that while the recent Rasmussen poll was "pretty remarkable," he attributed the surge more to Obama's critics.


The biggest danger to conservative values in America may be that Republicans are a walking "opposite day." What they praise becomes radioactive and what they decry quickly becomes the hot new thing. It's not just socialism that's gaining in the polls due to the GOP's cratering popularity. Many of the right's biggest fears are becoming self-fulfilling prophecies thanks to their backfiring attempts at activism. One recent poll, for example, showed a major increase in atheism and agnosticism, which have had their popularity numbers nearly double since 1990. It turns out that when incredibly unpopular politicians present elections as a false choice between god-fearing fundamentalists and godless heathens, people start thinking they just might not be so religious after all. And as for gay marriage, if conservative groups keep running ads like this one, gay marriage might become law all over the red states within months.

Anonymous said...

hahahahhahahahaha...check this out:

GOPig Crook's Campaign Fund Loses 700K in Stock Market...
April 10, 2009

Reports that the campaign accounts of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) have lost $703,500 in the stock market since last year are raising eyebrows. Barton is the ranking Republican member -- and former chair -- of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and several of the firms in which his campaign holds stock have a stake in bills handled by that Committee.


The potential losses -- based on the current value of the stocks -- include $85,000 in General Electric, $68,400 in General Motors, and $13,500 in Home Depot.

Barton, who was a consultant for Atlantic Richfield before entering politics, has always been known for his closeness to energy companies. They have regularly been his heaviest contributors, and questions about possible conflicts of interest have dogged him for years.

When Barton became chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in 2004, he quickly hired several energy industry lobbyists for the committee staff. The next year, he was the primary author in the House of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was widely criticized as a set of giveaways to the energy industry.

That same year, Barton launched an investigation of climate scientists who were warning against global warming. And when Citgo, the oil company owned by the Venezuelan government, began offering discounted heaving oil to low-income Americans, Barton attempted to launch an investigation of them as well.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in America is breathing a sigh of relief that they didn't let these thieves put SS in the stock market.

Anonymous said...

The Private Sector Fails Again:

Study: Privatized Philly schools did not keep pace
Public middle-grades schools placed under private management in 2002 as part of a state-run overhaul of the Philadelphia School District did not keep pace with the rest of the city's public schools, according to a study published in the American Journal of Education.

The study, which tracked schools through 2006, found that test scores had improved in the privatized schools, but scores in the rest of the city's public schools improved at a much faster rate, leaving the privatized schools in the dust.

"By 2006, the achievement gap between the privatized group and the rest of the district was greater than it was before the intervention," says study author Vaughan Byrnes, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University. "Both groups improved, but the privatized schools improved at a slower rate."

Philadelphia became a national proving ground for public school privatization in 2002 when Pennsylvania state government officials took over the city's schools. As part of the restructuring effort, 45 of the worst performing schools were turned over to Edison Schools Inc. and several other private education management organizations. The rest of the city's schools remained under the control of the Philadelphia School District, which instituted its own reform efforts.

Byrnes' study analyzed reading and math scores from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test from 1997 to 2006 at 88 middle-grades schools. Most of the schools had either grades 6-8 or a K-8 configuration. The data allowed Byrnes to look at trend lines before and after the state intervention in both privatized and non-privatized schools.

"The schools placed under private management were significantly worse off than the rest of the district in 1997," Byrnes says. "But our data show that they were gaining on the rest of the district from 1997 to 2002—before the takeover." After the takeover, improvement at the privatized schools accelerated, but the rest of the district accelerated faster. As a result, the privatized schools were further behind the rest of the district by 2006 than they were before the takeover.

Byrnes says his results are consistent with previous research on Philadelphia school reform efforts.

Supporters of privatization have responded to previous critical findings by arguing that improvement in the privatized schools is stunted because these schools were the worst in the district. But this study casts serious doubt on that argument, because according to Byrnes' data, the privatized schools were not the district's worst.

"Five of the absolute worst schools in the district were restructured but remained under public control," Byrnes said. "Those schools did much better after 2002, outpacing the privatized schools, and perhaps even the rest of the district. That rules out the argument that the privatized schools improved more slowly because they were worse to start with."

U think that was funny? said...

More Hilarity from The Implosion:

A Wilting Posey
by BarbinMD
Sat Apr 11, 2009 at 05:02:04 PM PDT
Poor Rep. Bill Posey. It seems the delicate flower is wilting under the ridicule he's gotten since introducing a bill designed to appeal to the extreme wingnuttia:

In March, Rep. Bill Posey, a far-right Republican freshman from Florida, introduced a bill to require presidential candidates to present a valid birth certificate before seeking national office. It was, of course, legislation driven entirely by ridiculous attacks on President Obama.

Posey was widely mocked for his foolishness, and even Posey's conservative colleagues declined to endorse his bill or sign on as co-sponsors. Most notably, Stephen Colbert mocked Posey, arguing that questions about the president's birthplace are about as legitimate as questions about the Florida Republican's background: "To quell the persistent rumors about Posey himself, I am demanding DNA tests to determine whether Florida congressmen are part alligator. I have had enough with the reckless whispering.... This is just something I've heard: Bill Posey's grandma, allegedly, [had relations with] an alligator."

Apparently, the freshman lawmaker isn't enjoying the ridicule.

"I expected there would be some civil debate about it, but it wasn't civil," Posey said. "Just a bunch of name-calling and personal denigration. ... There is no reason to say that I'm the illegitimate grandson of an alligator."

And Posey is absolutely right! I have no doubt whatsoever that he is the legitimate grandson of an alligator. So stop the smears and bring on the DNA test

Anonymous said...

MORE REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY:

Then? Slow Down. Now? Hurry Up!
History repeats itself, but not without a few wrinkles. We make the comparisons, then pick them apart.

By Jesse Ellison | NEWSWEEK
Published Apr 11, 2009

The Comparison

Reacting to GOP Sen. Norm Coleman's dwindling hopes in the Minnesota Senate race against Al Franken, Texas Sen. John Cornyn groused about the "blatant hypocrisy" of Democrats who insisted on exhausting all legal options in the 2000 presidential race's Florida recount—but are now pushing for a swift end to the Minnesota mess. Fair point?

Why It Works
Shades of 2000: the AP and Fox News called the race for Coleman on election night; hours later, they uncalled it. Razor-thin margins and ballot-counting disputes: out of nearly 3 million votes, Franken is now up 312; Bush took Florida by just 537. And Coleman's recount lawyer is Ben Ginsberg—the same attorney who argued for Bush in 2000.

Why It Doesn't
The size of the prize: big difference. Bush v. Gore was settled in about a month; the Senate battle has dragged on for more than five, with no end in sight. While the presidency was never vacant (Clinton was still in office), Minnesota has had just one senator since November. Also, don't expect the Supreme Court to step in this time.

Perlmutter said...

Five corrupt right wing thieves stole the election for Bush and he destroyed the GOP for good. They didn't know they were doing the country a service at the time.

Here's a crazy fuck admitting defeat said...

Sunday, April 12, 2009
James Dobson: We've lost the culture wars

In a farewell address to the staff of Focus on the Family, James Dobson conceded that evangelical conservatives had lost most of the recent so-called “culture war” battles. Attributing the right’s recent failures to the “internet” and the election of Bill Clinton, Dobson said, “Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost.” He added that the nation is now “absolutely awash in evil“:

The battles that we fought in the Eighties now, we were victorious in many of those conflicts with the culture, trying to defend righteousness, trying to defend the unborn child, trying to preserve the dignity of the family and the definition of marriage. We fought all those battles and really it was a holding action. […]

[W]e made a lot of progress through the Eighties but then we turned into the Nineties and the internet came along and a new president came along and all of that went away and now we are absolutely awash in evil. And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?


Right as you can get. Far right.

LibGal said...

What's hilarious is that they think the loss of their "values" is a bad thing.

D. Simes said...

What The International Media Aren't Telling You About Somalia Pirates
By Susie Madrak Sunday Apr 12, 2009 6:30am Johann Hari from The Independent:

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." William Scott would understand.

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.

You can read the United Nations report here.

I wonder which principled member of our corporate media will point out that, in the big picture, the Somali pirates are acting in self-defense?

blennie said...

Paranoid Republicans are projecting their own evil ways onto liberals

The best example I have found of Republican paranoia about what the evil liberals are going to do to them comes from Michael Steele, the titular head after Rush Limbaugh, of the Republican party. Steele says that, "radical leftists"- will "falsify the U. S. Census and manipulate elections in their favor."-

Republican representative Michelle Bachmann says that the Obama administration's volunteer program for people to work to improve the United States are designed to be "re-education camps"- set up to pervert the minds of innocents to evil liberal values.

Michelle Malkin says that Republicans must be careful not to sign anything presented by anyone at something they're calling a Tea Party rally, since it will be an evil liberal saboteur trying to fool Republicans into signing a petition to promote evil liberal policies.

Where does this kind of paranoia come from? It never occurred to me that only radical leftists signed up to work for the census and that their purpose is to falsify the census to manipulate elections. I don't think that is even possible. You have to be thinking how much you would like to do that yourself before you can falsely accuse someone else of doing it. That accusation defines Steele as wanting to do exactly what he accuses others of doing.


Likewise, Michelle Bachman reveals her innermost desire to indoctrinate people into the far, right wingnuttery that she is so accomplished at by setting up re-education camps to save the world from evil liberals.

And, only a clinically paranoid Michelle Malkin who is so far out of touch with reality that she would even think it possible that evil liberal saboteurs would want to go to a wingnut rally, much less try to fool a wingnut into signing a petition. Liberals would never think of doing that. They're too smart to fall for that. Malkin doesn't think her fellow wingnuts are as smart as liberals and have to be warned not to do something really stupid.

Only people such as Steele, Bachmann, Malkin and the other wingnut Republicans would think of these attempts at perversion of the census, indoctrination in ideology and sabotage of a political rally. The reason they are obsessed with their opponents doing this to them is that they are obsessed with thinking about doing this to their opponents.

Where does this kind of weird, perverted thinking come from? Since it comes from the far-right, Republican wingnuts , it has to have been there within them all along. They are revealing their own wishes about what they would like to do, projecting their own desires on to their opponents. What they are saying says more about them than it does about liberals.

If you want to see what these Republicans would do if they were in power, just listen to what they are falsely accusing their liberal opponents of doing. They are giving us a clear picture of how they would go about gaining and retaining Republican power.

LibGal said...

A new right wing, monster reveals itself everyday:

Palin's Latest Disaster

The governor is reeling after nominating for attorney general a man who allegedly defended the right of men to rape their wives. Now, Max Blumenthal reports, she may dump him to save herself.

While priming her political machine for a likely 2012 presidential primary run, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has fomented a scandal that threatens to further erode her reputation in the Last Frontier. In March, Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general. Ross, a colorful far-right lawyer and longtime Palin ally who sports his initials, W.A.R., on his Hummer’s vanity plates, was once considered a shoo-in for confirmation. However, his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” hailed the “courage” of a student who lionized the Ku Klux Klan, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and allegedly defended men who rape their wives. According to two sources close to the confirmation hearings, Palin may ask Ross to withdraw before his appointment comes to a vote.

According to Burton, who detailed the allegations for me, Ross allegedly declared during a speech before a 1991 gathering of the “father’s rights” group Dads Against Discrimination, “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?”

Palin’s hopes for a swift confirmation process were dashed April 10 when Leah Burton, a veteran lobbyist on children’s issues and domestic violence, submitted a letter to the Alaska State Judiciary Committee claiming that Ross publicly defended spousal rape. According to Burton, who detailed the allegations for me, Ross allegedly declared during a speech before a 1991 gathering of the “father’s rights” group Dads Against Discrimination, “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?” (In a subsequent letter, Ross denied the remark and claimed, “I don’t talk like that!”)

Burton said Ross’s statement was consistent with his overarching attitude toward women’s issues. She claimed that he once said during a debate on the Equal Rights Amendment, “If a woman would keep her mouth shut, there wouldn’t be an issue with domestic violence.” Burton also maintained she has been in touch with “a number” of domestic-violence victims who witnessed Ross make “horrible” statements, but are too intimidated to speak out. “Alaska is a very small state and it’s terrifying for these victims to come forward because they’re afraid of retribution,” Burton told me.

Since Burton’s testimony, her father, former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Richard Burton, wrote a letter of his own demanding to Ross that he withdraw his nomination. “You sir, speak and act like the kind of bully I met many times when responding to domestic-violence calls, some of the most dangerous situations police officers are often in,” Burton wrote. Ross reacted with characteristic fury to the Burtons’ broadsides, barking to reporters that if “anybody said that to me, we'd have a little confrontation because that's a bunch of crap.” At the same time, a grassroots group raising support for Palin’s presidential bid called Conservatives4Palin; he attacked Leah Burton as an anti-Christian “fringe nutcase.”

But as pro-Palin forces attempted to push back against Ross’s critics, dozens of op-eds Ross authored during the 1980s and 1990s surfaced as key exhibits in the case against his confirmation. Among them is a 1993 piece entitled, “KKK ‘art’ project gets ‘A’ for courage,” in which Ross cheered on a local college student who had offended an African-American classmate by creating a statue of a Klansman with a cross in one hand and a flag in the other. “It might have been fun to see [the African-American student] try to remove the display,” Ross wrote. “Then she could have been arrested and her future as a student of the university could have been resolved through the university disciplinary proceedings.”

During the early 1980s, while Anchorage residents grappled over renaming the city’s 15th Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and state legislators mulled establishing a state holiday honoring the assassinated civil-rights leader, Ross wrote several manifestoes attacking King as a communist subversive, according to University of Alaska-Anchorage music professor and local progressive activist Phil Munger. Munger also told me Ross has routinely appeared at public events beside his friend, Don Tanner, a white nationalist who moved to South Africa for a period during the 1980s to support its apartheid government, and who reveled crowds of conservatives with anti-black “South African jokes” upon his return to Alaska.

A glance at Ross’s published archive shows he never limited his resentment to minorities. He taunted environmentalists (“It is time we quit crying over the oil spill” was the title of an editorial he wrote in the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster); he denounced homosexuals as “degenerates” during a 1993 legal fight over a local gay-rights ordinance; and announced that his final wish before dying was to overturn Roe v. Wade. While rising through the ranks of the NRA’s national leadership in the 1980s, Ross published a piece in the mercenary magazine Soldier of Fortune, defending the right to form antigovernment militias.

“Ross’s profile fits where Palin wants to go after the current legislative session ends,” Munger remarked to me. “She seems to be planning some behind-the-scenes movement to stir up the crazies, especially by convincing them the federal government is going take their guns away. So nobody here is surprised by this selection.”

While Ross sustained withering criticism for his views on social issues, Native American tribes denounced his vociferous opposition to their subsistence rights. The tribes were especially disturbed by his vow during a 2002 gubernatorial debate to “hire a band of junkyard dog” attorneys to gut federal laws guaranteeing natives subsistence preferences. “It almost looked like she was rubbing our face in Anthony Ross’s appointment,” said Tim Towarak, co-chairman of the Alaska Federation of Natives, told The Bristol Bay Times. “Like rubbing our face on the ground, saying ‘Here, take this.’” With increasingly powerful tribal groups mobilizing a united front against Ross, Palin was compelled to defend her own record, pleading, “Obviously I am not anti-Native and would never appoint anyone who is.”

If Palin withdraws Ross’s nomination, she could end another embarrassing political spectacle before it registers on the national press corps’ radar. Alternatively, if she manages to ram his appointment through, Palin can begin implementing a hard-right legal agenda that will appeal to the elements she is cultivating as the base of her likely 2012 presidential campaign. However Palin decides to proceed with W.A.R., by nominating him, she has staked out the culture war as the fuel for her national ambitions.

Anonymous said...

This John guy sounds like the next one of these!!!

Keep an eye on him.

Lately, the news has been flooded with reports of citizens arming themselves to the teeth, egged on by right-wing media personalities prophesying doom, the rise of socialism, and that a Marxist dictator now sits in the Oval Office. This frenzy has been spilling from talk radio and television out into the streets for weeks now, and has recently metastasized into acts of outrageous violence. It smells like a new beginning of something this nation has not been forced to endure for nearly a decade.

Last Monday, a man named Richard Poplawski ambushed and murdered three Pittsburgh police officers and tried to kill nine others. Poplawski's motivations, according to friends and family, centered around his belief in the existence of a vast government conspiracy to destroy American freedoms while establishing a left-wing dictatorship under President Obama. Poplawski came to believe all this after listening to and reading the paranoid rantings of right-wing luminaries like Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Last July, a man named Jim Adkisson walked into a Universalist church in Knoxville and began blazing away with a 12-gauge shotgun, killing two people and wounding several others. He had 70 shotgun shells with him, and fully intended to massacre as many people in the church as possible before police killed him, but he was tackled and disarmed by members of the congregation before he could complete his task.

Eric Boehlert, writing for Media Matters [1] on April 7, said, "When investigators went to Adkisson's home in search of a motive, as well as evidence for the pending trial, they found copies of Savage's 'Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder,' 'Let Freedom Ring' by Sean Hannity, and 'The O'Reilly Factor,' by Fox News's Bill O'Reilly. They also came across what was supposed to have been Adkisson's suicide note: a handwritten, four-page manifesto explaining his murderous actions. The one-word answer for his deed? Hate. The three-word answer? He hated liberals."

"The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil," wrote Adkisson, "is kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather. I'd like to encourage other like minded people to do what I've done. If life aint worth living anymore don't just Kill yourself. Do something for your Country before you go. Go Kill Liberals!"

Describing the Pittsburgh incident, Boehlert wrote, "In the wake of the bloodbath, we learned that Poplawski was something of a conspiracy nut who embraced dark, radical rhetoric about America. He was convinced the government wanted to take away his guns, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Specifically, Poplawski, as one friend described it, feared 'the Obama gun ban that's on the way' and 'didn't like our rights being infringed upon.' (FYI, there is no Obama gun ban in the works.) The same friend said the shooter feared America was 'going to see the end of our times.'"

"Hysterical warnings of government gun grabs and a socialist takeover of the US are no longer the sole proprietary interest of fringe players like Jones," wrote Max Blumenthal on Wednesday [2]. "In the Obama era, Jones's conspiracy theories have graduated to primetime on Fox News. And radicals like Poplawski are tuning in. Indeed, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the alleged killer posted a YouTube clip to (neo-Nazi web site) Stormfront of top-rated Fox News host Glenn Beck contemplating the existence of FEMA-managed concentration camps. ('He backed out,' Poplawski wrote cryptically beside the video.) Three weeks later, Poplawski posted another YouTube clip to Stormfront, this time of a video blogger advocating 'Tea Parties,' or grassroots conservative protests organized by Beck and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich against President Barack Obama's bailout plan."

There have been more stories like this in recent months, and if history is any guide, there will be more to come. The timing of all this is deeply troubling, and the media players involved are all too familiar. There is something sinister at work here, something malevolent, something sly.

Consider the curious historical synchronicity of all this: after the inauguration of a new Democratic president, there has been a sudden upsurge of right-wing polemicists agitating right-wing citizens into right-wing-motivated acts of violence. The last time things came together like this was back in 1993, after the Waco and Ruby Ridge debacles, combined with the passage of NAFTA and the Brady Bill, detonated into a militia movement that was wildly active, and exceedingly violent, throughout the entirety of President Bill Clinton's two terms.

Dozens of militia-related incidents, including the Oklahoma City bombing, took place during those years. In 2001, however, these incidents stopped almost completely, and for the entirety of George W. Bush's two terms as president, hardly a peep was heard from the militia movement that had been so robustly vigorous during the administration of Bush's predecessor.

A Democratic president takes office in 1993 and the militia movement explodes, egged on by a whole host of right-wing media voices.

A Republican president takes office in 2001 and the militia movement, along with those media voices who sponsored it, all but disappear [3] from the American political landscape.

Anonymous said...

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:

Cold Calculators

Virginia's let-'em-eat-cake Republicans spurn a stimulus and stiff the jobless.

Monday, April 13, 2009; Page A14

THE POUND-foolishness of Virginia's Republican lawmakers -- who would rather give lip service than genuine financial relief to the state's unemployed -- was on display in Richmond again last week. The GOP-controlled House of Delegates rejected $125 million in federal stimulus money that would have provided unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Virginians. The reasoning, in the shortsighted eyes of all but two House Republicans, was that accepting the federal assistance would undermine the state's business-friendly reputation. Instead, the party faithful managed to bolster Virginia's dubious reputation as a provider of some of the lowest unemployment benefits in the country.

Virginia employers pay an average of $98 per worker per year for unemployment insurance. The national average is $258. The federal stimulus proposal would have changed Virginia's unemployment system to allow thousands of residents who work part time or are enrolled in approved job training programs to be eligible to receive benefits. That's serious help for a state with 300,000 unemployed people and a jobless rate of 6.7 percent. At least the only two Republican delegates who voted for the proposal understood the need for relief; in their Southwest and Southside Virginia districts, unemployment rates are in double digits.

The GOP naysayers argued that once the stimulus funds were exhausted, state businesses would be stuck with the tab, which they claim would lead to fewer jobs and other world-ending consequences; it's better, they insist, to serve up more business incentives and hang on for the prosperous days to come. Helping businesses certainly should be a part of addressing lean times, but the federal stimulus relief plan pushed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) would not have wrecked the business climate. As he said, there are "an awful lot of people who are hurting in Virginia, and the message to them seemed to be: 'We don't care. Fend for yourself.' "


As reported by staff writer Anita Kumar, Mr. Kaine has hinted that he might try to find another way to accept the federal assistance. He should.

I have a file, the fat man said...

GOPigs fighting in public...too funny:

Karl Rove accosted by ex-GOP chief of staff

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove was verbally accosted Thursday evening by an ex-chief of staff to former Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.).

Rove was quietly having dinner at the tony restaurant Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill when he was aggressively approached by Jason Roe, the former Feeney staffer. Roe, now of Federal Strategy Group, was "loud and boisterous" toward Rove. He was apparently (still) upset over the following comments Rove made on Fox News, the day after the election, in which Feeney — along with many other Republicans — went down in flames.

From FNC:

Rove: "It was a big night, no doubt about it, but look, the people who got defeated last night were people who had not done their homework and hadn't gotten ready for a tough race.

"You know, like this guy Feeney in Florida."

Colmes: "Tom Feeney, yes."

Rove: "Tom Feeney, who — who had a bunch of ethical issues raised and then voted against the rescue package. You know, voting against the rescue package was supposed to be a sure thing to get you elected in some quarters."



Shortly thereafter, Roe had to be escorted away from the table. Charlie Palmer Steak management remained typically mum and wouldn't even confirm Rove's appearance to Shenanigans, but when asked if there was a fight, the reply was, "Noooooo, this is a quiet family establishment."

Rove, when contacted, had "no comment."

Roe, when contacted, also had "no comment."

UPDATE: According to people familiar with the back and forth, we hear this was the conversation between Roe and Rove:

Roe walked over to the table, "I'm Jason Roe."

Rove: "Oh, the famous Jason Roe."

Roe: "I don't know that I'm famous, but I'm Tom Feeney's former chief of staff, and I'm offended by your comments on Fox about Tom. You guys wouldn't be in the White House without Tom. And you made these really degrading comments about him that offended a lot of people."

(Sidenote: Tom Feeney was the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives during the whole Bush/Gore 2000 recount.)

Rove: "Well, I have a file on the things Tom Feeney said about George Bush."

Roe: "That says more about you than me that you kept a file on Tom Feeney. This guy was so restrained in his desire to criticize the president — even against this staff's advice."

Rove: "I have a file."

Roe: "I'm right here. Tell me to my face what's in that file."

Rove: "I'll send you the file."

Roe: "Well, I hope the file is the beginning of the conversation and not the end. I would love to disabuse you of whatever you think of Tom Feeney's loyalty from this file."

Rove: "If you keep talking over me, this conversation's going to end right now."

Then a lady came over to fill up Rove's water glass, breaking up Roe and Rove, and Roe returned to the bar. Rumor has it Rove was waiting to have dinner with former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.

Anonymous said...

This is probably why Clarence Thomas rarely opens his mouth:

The evening was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives.

‘Today there is much focus on our rights," Justice Thomas said. "Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights."

Gee! The teabaggers' second-favorite Justice (we know they prefer the lighter-skinned version, Scalia), like some kind of robed Abe Simpson, shouts at the clouds, "There are too many rights nowadays!"

How does this uncontrollable proliferation of rights square with the teabaggers' claimed march of tyranny?

It doesn't. They're all fucked in the head. That's how.

Anonymous said...

Poll shows 71% trust Obama to fix the economy

The Gallup survey also finds that 51% of respondents say they have confidence in Democratic congressional leaders when it comes to the economy.

By Mark Silva
April 14, 2009
Reporting from Washington -- As President Obama continues to express confidence in the U.S. economy, many Americans say they have confidence in his ability to steer the nation's fortunes in the right direction.

A new Gallup poll found that 71% of those interviewed said they placed "a great deal or a fair amount" of confidence in the president to bring about an economic recovery.


That puts Obama ahead of some of the country's leading economic experts: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke had a 49% rating in the poll and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner drew 47%.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said they were confident in Democratic congressional leadership on the economy.

Thirty-eight percent felt that way about Republican leaders.


Obama -- who has won passage of a $787-billion economic stimulus package and advanced multibillion-dollar plans to aid homeowners, the auto industry and other sectors of the economy -- has said tough times are ahead, but he is seeing signs of improvement in an economy that has been mired in recession for more than a year.

"The economy is still under severe stress," Obama said last week after meeting with economic advisors and Bernanke at the White House. "We're still seeing a lot of job losses, a lot of hardship . . . so we've still got a lot of work to do."

But, the president said, the nation was starting to see "glimmers of hope."

Bernanke, who became Fed chairman in 2006 during the Bush administration, was instrumental in convincing Congress before Obama took office to provide a $700-billion bailout of financial firms.

And Geithner pushed for federal assistance for the financial markets and homeowners while demanding concessions from automakers -- forcing the resignation of the chairman of General Motors as the company sought additional aid from the government.

"It is unlikely that many Americans have a highly sophisticated understanding of the complex economic policies enacted in the last several months by either Bernanke or Geithner," said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. "Yet only 17% and 14% of Americans, respectively, are not able or willing to give an opinion on confidence in these two men's actions on the economy."

Lodi said...

Irony of the Day:

FOX News headline reads, "Homeland Security Warns of Rise in Right-Wing Extremism

Let's hear it for the boy, she said...

I think we should all thank Evan Sayet for providing this marvelous liberal forum.

And, it appears we've gotten rid of that sick, little troll, John.

He was paddled pretty good.

Lodi said...

Oh, mustn't forget this:

Stunning: Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantanamo.

Perlmutter said...

hahahahahahaha...they're killing each other...best carnival in ages:

Right-wing pundits fall out: Limbaugh eviscerates Goldberg

The infighting among conservatives has been notched up another degree, with Rush Limbaugh attempting to blast Jonah Goldberg out of the water for daring to suggest that President Obama deserves congratulations for the successful rescue of an American captain from Somali pirates.

Goldberg wrote on his blog at the National Review on Sunday evening, "Good For President Obama. He approved the rescue. It was the right thing to do, with no small amount of risk. And God bless the SEALs."

By Monday morning, however, Goldberg was beginning to realize he might have put his foot in it. "My morning in-box is full of snark and bile from some folks who think I shouldn't have congratulated President Obama for the rescue last night," he admitted ruefully. "But you know what? Congratulations anyway. ... I think my credentials as a critic of Obama are pretty solid. But I find the idea that I have to be critical no matter what Obama does to be exhaustingly unappealing."

But that was before the really big guns came out. By midday, it was clear even to Goldberg that Limbaugh had been letting him have it with both barrels.

Limbaugh began his Monday show by saying -- every word dripping with extreme sarcasm -- "I want to single out today, Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online for being the first that I saw to have the proper reaction to the rescue of Captain Phillips from the merchant marine organizers, and that was to congratulate President Obama for a job well done. And I think we all must agree, folks, that when Obama does something right, we gotta go out there and we've got to acknowledge it."

Limbaugh's assault might be considered ill-natured, given that Goldberg had defended him just last month -- when Limbaugh came under fire for saying he wanted to see Obama fail -- and had condemned the attacks on Limbaugh as "a tired rehash."

However, Limbaugh apparently felt no need on Monday to reciprocate for Goldberg's earlier support. After going on for a while about how the rescue should be made into a movie starring Will Smith as Barack Obama and himself, Sarah Palin, Eric Cantor, and Bobby Jindal as the pirates, Limbaugh returned to invoking Goldberg's name over and over, each time twisting the knife just a bit deeper.

"We just can't be constant critics," Limbaugh purred. "As Jonah Goldberg has pointed out in National Review today, we must, when we see brilliance in action, decisiveness -- the SEALs? ... SEALs couldn't have done diddly-squat were it not for the decisive, cool under pressure, first test passed President Obama. ... And he deserves praise. Jonah Goldberg at National Review was first to point out, he does the right thing, we gotta say so."

Even when a caller suggested, " I think that you're just rattled because it worked out. ... If it didn't work you would just be peeing yourself with joy," Limbaugh insisted, "I'm not upset about it. ... I was second out of the box telling people when he does the right thing we gotta -- just like Jonah Goldberg said."

"And you are out of your mind," the caller retorted. "And I only check back ... just to make sure that you are still as crazy as I think you are. ... And you are, and you prove it every time I listen to you."

Goldberg, meanwhile, has posted again, but merely to say, "I'm not listening" and to insist, "The idea that I am sitting by computer waiting for an opportunity to congratulate president Obama is, frankly, absurd."

The betting window is still open for wagers on how long it will take before Goldberg is forced to issue an active apology.

Anonymous said...

Al Franken is winner of Minnesota Senate race, court rules

The Associated Press

Tuesday, April 14th 2009, 4:00 AM

Al Franken is one step closer to finally claiming Minnesota's contested Senate seat.

A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Franken, a Democrat, won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Franken actually gained more votes from the election challenge than Coleman, who brought the legal action in the first place.

Coleman immediately announced plans to appeal. His petition could further delay the seating of Minnesota's second senator for weeks.

"It's time that Minnesota, like every other state," has two senators, a jovial Franken said outside his Minneapolis townhouse.

After a statewide recount and seven-week trial, Franken stands 312 votes ahead. Nearly 3million votes were cast in the race.

Anonymous said...

Obama leaves Republicans biting dust on economy
44 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Americans have twice as much faith in President Barack Obama's handling of the economy than they do in Republican plans to end the recession, according to polls published this week.

Nearly six in 10 Americans -- 58 percent of respondents -- said the president has "a clear plan for solving the country's economic problems," while 42 percent said he does not, according to a poll by CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation polling firm released Tuesday.

But only about a quarter -- 24 percent -- said Republicans have a clear plan for the economy.

The poll pointed to significant public support for Obama as he attempts to piece together an economic rescue "puzzle" that justified unpopular bailouts for the banking and finance industries.

The Republican opposition, still reeling from devastating losses in the 2008 elections, voted against the president's 2010 budget.

Despite the apparent animosity between Republicans and the White House, 62 percent of respondents said Obama was "doing enough to cooperate with the Republicans in Congress," compared to 37 percent for Republican cooperation with Obama.

In a separate poll, conducted by Gallup and released Monday, 71 percent of Americans said they have a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of confidence in Obama to do or recommend the right thing for the economy."

Congressional leaders, especially Republicans, do not enjoy the same public confidence. Democrats were also not spared in the survey.

Some 51 percent said they had a "great deal" or a "fair amount" of confidence in Democratic leaders on the economy, compared to just 38 percent for Republican leaders.

The Gallup poll of 1,027 people was conducted April 6-9. CNN surveyed 1,023 people by telephone April 3-5, and its poll had an error margin of three percentage points.

The surveys came as Obama said Tuesday he saw "glimmers of hope" for the American economy, which is battling its deepest economic slump in decades, but also warned of painful choices and more deep job cuts to come

Anonymous said...

A new poll by The Politico has some good news for Democrats and President Barack Obama and some bad news for Republicans and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in particular:

It finds:

*President Barack Obama has emerged as the most trusted figure in American politics.

*Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has emerged as the political figure perceived as the most untrustworthy.

*More people trust the Democrats to come up with solutions than the Republicans.

This poll is significant because it’ll be hard for GOPers to discount it as coming from a leftist or Democratic publication or from a polling company suspected of skewering the poll in favor of Democrats. It also fits in with other polls that continue to show Obama with a high poll rating which is partially due to him having pieced together a coalition of Democrats, independents and Republicans who aren’t into the talk show political culture (in other words: Republicans who won’t be attending tomorrow’s tea parties..). Here are some details from the poll:

Three months into his presidency, Barack Obama stands out as perhaps the most trusted figure in American politics.

In a new Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO national survey of 1,000 registered voters, Obama outdistances figures on both the left and the right in earning the public’s trust, with two-thirds of respondents saying they trust the president “to identify the right solutions to the problems we face as a nation.”

Of those who said they trust the president, 31 percent said they trust him “a great deal.” An additional 35 percent said they have “some” trust that Obama will find the correct solution. Thirty-one percent said they trust Obama either “not very much” or “not at all.”

Voters were asked the same question of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Republican Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and the two major political parties. Among those choices, only the Democratic Party was trusted to find the right solutions by a majority of voters, 52 percent to 40 percent. Forty percent of those surveyed said they trusted the Republican Party, compared with 54 percent who did not trust the GOP.

The bad news for the Republicans is that they are not trusted by a large number of Americans that means a large number of Americans are tuning out their message. And looking at Pelosi and Palin? The Politico found this:

Only 26 percent said they trust Pelosi, the lowest total in the group. Palin attracted the highest percentage of those who did not trust her at all to identify the right solutions, topping Pelosi 33 percent to 32 percent. Romney got a mixed reaction, with 38 percent of voters saying they trust him and 39 percent saying they don’t.

So far there are no indications Pelosi is eying the White House. And there are indications Palin is. So Palin has a lot of work to do since imagery counts in politics and just winning over part of the GOP won’t suffice.

John said...

"Lately, the news has been flooded with reports of citizens arming themselves to the teeth, egged on by right-wing..."

"This John guy sounds like the next one of these!!!

Keep an eye on him."

Right. Because I said this:

"If McCain loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me."

No, wait, that was Erica Yong, and except for this part: "If Obama loses..."

"Limbaugh began his Monday show by saying "I want to single out today, Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online for being the first that I saw to have the proper reaction to the rescue of Captain Phillips from the merchant marine organizers, and that was to congratulate President Obama for a job well done. And I think we all must agree, folks, that when Obama does something right, we gotta go out there and we've got to acknowledge it."

Agreed. So?

Oh, right, the sniveling weasel made sure to slip this in: "Limbaugh began his Monday show by saying-- *every word dripping with extreme sarcasm*-- "I want..."

And not just plain ol' sarcasm, mind you, but "dripping with EXTREME sarcasm* (something very, very evident but which nevertheless had to be pointed out in case one of you mindless goons missed it).

Liberals.

John said...

Fathead Perlmutter gloated:

"hahahahahahaha...they're killing each other...best carnival in ages."

This one's better:

March 2, 2009 – 9:37 p.m.

Democratic Revolt May Slow Obama Agenda
By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff

Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona have joined a quiet revolt in the House that could slow some of President Obama's fast-moving priorities.

The two are among 49 Democrats from congressional districts that backed Republican Sen. John McCain 's 2008 presidential race and whose support for the Democratic majority's progressive agenda is increasingly not assured.

A dozen of them were among 20 House Democrats who voted against the $410 billion discretionary fiscal 2009 spending package (HR 1105) on Feb. 25. Another group later forced House leaders to sideline a contentious bill (HR 1106) to allow bankruptcy judges to modify home loans.

Although only a handful of moderate and conservative Democrats abandoned their leaders during party-line votes on the economic stimulus law (PL 111-5), the group of vulnerable Democrats branded the omnibus spending bill as a budget buster and questioned whether the mortgage bill would raise interest rates on average home-owners and cause some struggling homeowners to rush to bankruptcy.

The defections could cause heartburn for Democratic leaders charged with ushering through Obama's three biggest priorities: a health care overhaul, a cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions and his fiscal 2010 budget blueprint. The president might also have trouble winning their votes for an anticipated second financial bailout package.

"My job is not to be a rubber stamp for the president or Democratic leadership, but to be a voice for the people that elected me," Giffords said. "I voted for the stimulus, but found I could not vote for the omnibus." She faces a tough 2010 campaign in a state that will be dominated by McCain's expected re-election to his Senate seat.

For his part, Matheson echoed Giffords' concerns about an increase of $31 billion, or 8 percent, in discretionary spending in the nine bills contained in the omnibus measure. Like Giffords, he also has raised concerns about the mortgage bankruptcy bill, which many banks oppose.

"A lot needs to be done to help people keep their homes. But I'm just not sure about this bill," Giffords said.

John B. Larson of Connecticut, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said party leaders would respond to recent defections by trying to slow the pace of bills to allow more time for hearings and debate. "Everything's coming at them fast and furious. The more that people get an opportunity to go back and forth . . . the greater the comfort level they will have," Larson said.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer , D-Md., acknowledged the defections, saying: "We have a very diverse party, with diverse opinions. We're working on it."

Many of the 49 Democrats in the group have particular concerns about Obama's call for allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy families to expire.

"I don't agree with the administration about letting all those tax cuts expire for upper-income families," said Harry E. Mitchell , D-Ariz. He argues for retaining the current 15 percent rate on capital gains and for permanent reductions in the estate tax.

Republicans are eyeing the group of 49 as prime targets in their party's push to expand the 178-seat minority in the 2010 elections. They are betting on "bailout and stimulus fatigue" and ramping up pressure by launching early attack advertising in their districts and daring them to line up behind Obama's ambitious to-do list.

"All Republicans voted 'no' on the stimulus. Almost all Democrats voted 'yes' on the stimulus. They own it. And before it's over, the public is not going to like the stimulus,'' a senior House GOP aide said.

Kevin McCarthy , R-Calif., who heads recruitment efforts for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said: "We are looking for candidates that fit these districts. We think we have a good chance to win some of them back.''

Matheson could face a special challenge in coming days over his vote on a bill that would give the District of Columbia a full voting member in the House. House Democratic leaders are pushing for fast action on its version (HR 157), which would leave Utah's three existing districts alone and create an at-large seat in Utah.

But the Senate version (S 160), passed Feb. 26, would create a fourth congressional district in Utah, a largely Republican state, and could force Matheson and two home-state GOP colleagues to run in reconfigured districts in 2010.

Regardless of what happens in Utah, GOP strategist Grover Norquist urged loyalists at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference annual convention to step up attacks on the Democrats "in districts that actually want to elect Republicans."

"We need in 2010 to win 40 House seats held by Democrats, some of them masquerading as conservatives but every one of them a [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi liberal in their voting and their impact," he added. Norquist serves as president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative watchdog group.

GOP leaders are optimistic that Republican Jim Tedisco, minority leader of the New York Assembly, can defeat Democrat Scott Murphy in a March 31 special election to fill the vacancy created by the Senate appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand , D-N.Y. "After the March 31 election in New York, we'll need 39 seats," Norquist predicted.

With the 2010 midterm campaigns off to a fast start, Matheson, Giffords and the other vulnerable Democrats face tough choices.

Still, Democrats gained some leeway last fall by winning what temporarily were 257 seats: They can lose as many as 37 Democrats on a given bill and still see it pass.

Now, there are three House vacancies, created when Gillibrand moved to the Senate, former Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois became Obama's chief of staff and former California Rep. Hilda L. Solis became Labor secretary.

But signs of trouble loom. Just seven Democrats — six from districts carried by McCain plus liberal Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon — voted Feb. 13 against Obama's biggest early priority, the $787.2 billion economic stimulus.

But a day after the 20 Democrats voted against the omnibus spending bill — including 12 from districts carried by McCain — a larger group of conservative Democrats forced party leaders to pull the mortgage bankruptcy measure. In a symbolic protest, a group of 26 dissident Democrats — including 18 from districts carried by McCain — sided with Republicans when the House narrowly adopted, 224-198, a procedural motion (H Res 190) that had the effect of postponing action on the mortgage bankruptcy bill. A modified version of the legislation is likely to go to the House floor this week.

Greg Giroux contributed to this story.

John said...

And then there's this:

"Obama's online 'transparency' stymied by web 'trolls.'"

That's poetic justice right there, don't you think, fathead?

And there's this, too:

"President Obama's most liberal supporters say they are dismayed and disgusted because this administration is invoking the 'state secrets' privilege -- just as former President George W. Bush did -- to shield eavesdropping programs from public exposure."

Ouch.

"'I wasn't happy when George Bush asserted that he could do these things and I'm not happy that President Obama is now agreeing with George Bush,' said Jane Hamsher of Accountability Now."

I "rilly" hope Janey isn't hoping that Obama fails in carrying out policies she disagrees with.

That's be treasonous.

"'Other than being flat wrong, the Obama administration's position is seriously disappointing to those Americans who listened to candidate Obama's promises of a new era of government accountability and transparency,' said Kevin Bankston, senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation."

Golly, he shore sounds like Rush Limbaugh ta me, pa.

Fools.

Anonymous said...

Einstein said the first sign of senility is losing the ability to recognize sarcasm. Then, there's the poor troll's anger problem...that's typical...they tend to get very angry when they sense they're completely losing control.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha...poor guy is in the middle of a long crackup...and grasping at straws. Oooh, do Dems disagree on some things? Duh...that's what makes us Democrats as opposed to lockstep morons. An entirely different thing than the crackup of the remainder of the GOP. You mindlessly follow the leader over the cliff, then eat each other alive at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:

The Rundown

Obama's Cuba Shift Shows Confidence

By Ben Pershing
Twenty-three weeks ago today, Barack Obama won Florida, marking the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has taken the state since 1996. Obama succeeded, in part, by capturing a larger-than-expected portion of the Cuban-American vote. And now he's doing something previous administrations of both parties have either opposed or been afraid to do -- softening U.S. policy toward Cuba.

Obama is lifting spending and travel restrictions for Americans with family on the island, and he's also allowing U.S. telecommunications companies to get into the Cuban market. (OMG -- maybe the country will be freed by Twitter!) Reaction in South Florida yesterday was mixed, with some critics complaining that Obama should at least have extracted some concessions from the Cuban regime before "unilaterally" making the change. The administration's move did represent a middle ground, since Obama did not lift the 47-year-old trade embargo.

Obama's move signaled that he is unafraid of being called "soft" on dictators or communism, or having his policies more generally pilloried by Republicans. And why should he be? Though some of his individual moves -- particularly in dealing with the financial crisis -- have been controversial, the president retains strong support in the polls across the board. In a new Public Strategies/Politico poll, 66 percent of respondents said they trust Obama "to identify the right solutions to the problems we face as a nation." So when he speaks today on the economy at Georgetown University, Obama will be addressing a national audience still more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

John said...

BHO is no JFK.

Perlmutter said...

Did the poor pinhead actually think Limpballs was being sincere?
haha...tell that to Goldbrick (LBJ's illegitimate son, btw)and the dittoheads who've been slicing him up.

What a dink this poor, stupid troll is.

P. said...

Is the simp worshipping JFK?

There heroes are always great Democrats from the past. Who else would they worship?...Hoover, Harding, Nixon?...god, what a piss, poor lot they are. And they imaging simple old Popcorn John, Raygun, to be something other than a senile, old sociopath!

John said...

Your reading comprehension abilites are abysmal, fathead.

So's your writing.

That's what happens when you pickle and prune your brain in Kool Aid.

"Blah-blah-blah (insert ass-backward projection)! PEABRAIN! Hahaha! GROTESQUES! Blah-blah-blah (insert upside down inversion)! GROTESQUERIES! Hahaha! SIMP! Hahaha, we win!"

Orc.

John said...

You goons are either mindless Kool Aid carriers who don't fact-check the sploshing buckets of lies you're dispatched to widely splash on the walls of commentary sections at right wing blogs, or you're fucking liars yourselves (of course, there's no reason why it can't be both, as is most evident).

Yes, Limbaugh was sincere about greenlighting lethal force against the pirates (which he was legally bound to do, anyway).

The criticism that "dripped with extreme sarcasm" was Obama's speech on economics at Georgetown.

Your gurus intentionally conflated the two.

Snakes.

LibGal said...

Two words, troll...anger management. Or be the next right wing gun nut gone crazy.

Or, maybe just give up on the lost, trog causes...they're history, medieval history.

Also, lying for Limbaugh must be a little frustrating.

John said...

I said:

"The criticism that 'dripped with extreme sarcasm' was Obama's speech on economics at Georgetown."

Correction:

"The criticism that 'dripped with sarcasm' was *about* Obama's speech on economics at Georgetown."

Yes, this 'dripped with sarcasm':

RUSH: Boy, oh, boy, oh, boy, President Obama out there with a brilliant, brilliant speech, ladies and gentlemen. He's at Georgetown University. We gotta give him credit when he deserves credit. We gotta be willing to acknowledge when Obama does something right, and he's giving a great speech. I think the students are falling out of their chairs there, so mesmerized. I found myself unconsciously drooling near a coma state while listening to Obama's speech, brilliant speech, making anybody listening to it think that not only does he have a grasp of all the economic issues but that they do, too, brilliantly conceived, flawlessly executed. One teleprompter glitch, President Obama appeared to lose his place. But, man, he's good, he snapped right back in there like it was hardly anything at all."

This was sincere:

"I want to single out today, Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online for being the first that I saw to have the proper reaction to the rescue of Captain Phillips from the merchant marine organizers, and that was to congratulate President Obama for a job well done. And I think we all must agree, folks, that when Obama does something right, we gotta go out there and we've got to acknowledge it."

What apparently has to be pointed out to you illiterate bozos is that the only opiece of sarcasm in there, btw, was this part:

"I found myself unconsciously drooling near a coma state while listening to Obama's speech..."

Rush was fully sincere wghen he said that it was a well-delivered speech (except for the teleprompter glitch, which he pointed out).

What your invidious guru did was seize on the common wording this has:

"We gotta give him credit when he deserves credit. We gotta be willing to acknowledge when Obama does something right, and he's giving a great speech."

...with this:

"And I think we all must agree, folks, that when Obama does something right, we gotta go out there and we've got to acknowledge it."

Rush is being perfectly consistent, and sincere.

And what the shameless (and not clever enough) Kool Aid mixer did--with his panties bunched up by Rush's RIDICULING of the spell Obama is able to cast over the Obamatized students (who listen in rapt attention like shrooming concertgoers at a Dead show)--was simply conflate the two and lie his through his teeth.

He's a lying piece of shit. And you're smearing that shit around, smacking and licking your fingers, and squealing "MMM! TASTES GOOD!" like Clinton squealed after tasting the cigar he inserted into Ms. Lewinsky's noisome netherparts.

And you've done that so many times, you are now literally full of shit.

Dismissed.

John said...

Nice try, "Lib Gal," trying to turn the tables and portray the right as the subversive radical who uses violence to get their political way, like Obama's buddy Ayers.

Coulter didn't say the this about Obama. Erica Yong said this about McCain: "If McCain loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me."

Go to hell.

Anonymous said...

Although the dittohead universe has now marked hapless Goldberg as a blood enemy-- couldn't happen to a more deserving imbecile-- other right-wing Republicans are taking his side and telling Limbaugh to shut up already and stick to his trained seal act.

It's all over the internet, idiot...try a little REALITY. And, please, have someone take your guns away. Haven't you rabid freaks killed enough innocent people already?

Anonymous said...

Can you believe this peabrain is taking one statement by EJ predicting exactly what the wingos would do as THE CAUSE for their violent insanity?

John said...

Who's the "rabid freaks," anonymous?

Take a look at the commentary sections here for years running.

And you're the one with the lying, murderous ideology, asshole.

And what are you gibbering about now, fathead? Put the bong down and try to be sensible for once.

Klissie said...

I don't think he even knew what his "point" was...he's just blathering out anything that comes into his tiny, lying mind...he makes no sense at all most of the time.

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