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Archive for January 22nd, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:43 am by HL

Worth a Thousand Words

The Boston Globe has assembled a stunning array of photos from Inauguration Day. Images from Washington, D.C., and from viewing parties around the world capture the excitement and wonder of that historic day. The subjects include Kenyans in Obama’s father’s home town, former Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos embracing, and crowds at the capital’s Mall as photographed from a satellite.

Click here to see the gallery.

(h/t Ryan Block of gadget blogging fame)

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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Dick Cheney Returns To Standing Ovation In Wyoming

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:42 am by HL

Dick Cheney Returns To Standing Ovation In Wyoming
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Former Vice President Dick Cheney has returned to the state that helped launch his political career more than 40 years ago. Cheney…

Judge David Young: “You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello”
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Andrew Kreig: Why the President
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Fox News’ Wallace falsely claimed “unemployment in 1937, 1938 was higher than it was in 1933”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:41 am by HL

Fox News’ Wallace falsely claimed “unemployment in 1937, 1938 was higher than it was in 1933”

During Fox News’ coverage of President Obama’s January 20 inauguration, in response to remarks by senior political analyst Brit Hume about stimulus spending and the role New Deal programs and World War II played in ending the Great Depression, anchor Chris Wallace falsely claimed that “unemployment in 1937, 1938 was higher than it was in 1933.” Hume responded: “That’s right, because whatever [former President Franklin D.] Roosevelt did by virtue of enlarging the American spirit, of giving people hope, his programs — while unemployment was reduced for a time, it went back up.” In fact, even without including “emergency” public employment under the New Deal, the unemployment rate in 1937 and 1938 did not surpass the 1933 unemployment rate. Moreover, according to several prominent economists, the unemployment rate — which fell every year from 1933 until 1938 — rose in 1938 not because New Deal stimulus spending failed but rather because Roosevelt did not go far enough in pursuing these policies.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data — which did not count those in work-relief programs as employed — the U.S. unemployment rate was 14.3 percent in 1937 and 19 percent in 1938, compared to 24.9 percent in 1933. As Media Matters for America has documented, after World War II, BLS began counting those in work-relief programs as employed.

Several noted economists have defended New Deal policies by noting that the 1937 recession coincided with Roosevelt’s implementation of more fiscally conservative policies, including efforts to balance the budget. As Media Matters has documented, these economists include Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker, and University of California-Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong.

Wallace’s false claim that unemployment was higher in 1937 and 1938 than it was in 1933 recalls other media conservatives who have cherry-picked unemployment figures during the 1937-38 recession to assert that the New Deal did not reduce unemployment, as Media Matters has noted.

From Fox News’ coverage of the January 20 presidential inauguration:

WALLACE: All right. Let’s talk, because — let’s pick up on what [Sen.] Lindsey Graham [R-SC] and [Fox News chief political correspondent] Carl Cameron were talking about. This economic stimulus package — $825 billion now, but I think most people think it’s going to grow.

Brit, do you think there’s going to be a fight, or given the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, that he basically is going to get what he wants?

HUME: He may get what he wants, but there will be a fight. And he will have a fight with Republicans over the composition of it, or at least the Democrats will have a fight because they — clearly, a great deal of what the Democrats are talking about in this bill that they have advanced, which Obama has not yet really endorsed, is stuff that is not stimulus.

It may be valuable in some ways, but it looks — a lot of it looks like just ordinary spending of the kind that members of Congress like. And whether it will be effective in generating the kind of instant economic activity or nearly immediate economic activity is very much open to question.

And there’s also this: If you look at this whole issue of fiscal — of stimulus — stimulus generated by spending — it’s fair to ask the question of whether it has ever worked — ever. You know, I remember when I was covering the Congress and there would be a downturn, and they passed what they intend to be a — the book on it always was that by the time the projects got up and running, the recession would be long over, and that’s what happened time and time again.

Liberals and Democrats often point to World War II, which certainly entailed a huge burst of deficit government spending, as having lifted us out of the Great Depression, which it certainly did. But that also involved the con — excuse me — conscription into the armed forces of some 12 million people. That got them off the unemployment rolls — that fights unemployment pretty effectively — and so on. And it was also a national mobilization.

WALLACE: The fact is that the economy and unemployment in 1937, 1938 was higher than it was in 1933.

HUME: That’s right, because whatever Roosevelt did by virtue of enlarging the American spirit, of giving people hope, his programs — while unemployment was reduced for a time, it went back up. And his programs are now seen, I think, widely as having failed to lift the country out of the Depression. The war did it.

That has become a kind of model in the minds of many that — who would argue with you that fiscal stimulus can work, witness World War II. But other examples do not abound, and World War II is not a particularly good analogy for where we are today.


Heritage and Age Are Why Obama Won

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Heritage and Age Are Why Obama Won
WASHINGTON — When Barack Obama declared in his inaugural address that a new era has begun and that “the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply,” it sounded like empty rhetoric. Politicians always tend to inflate the historical importance of their own victories and tend to forget that the large forces that shape our destiny are not subject to the whims of one election. That said, there are two reasons to think that Obama may be correct in claiming that his rapid rise from obscurity to the presidency may signal at least a cease-fire in the hyper-partisan warfare that has consumed Washington during the 16 years of the Clinton and Bush presidencies.


GOPers, Worried About Torture Prosecutions, Delay Holder Vote

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:39 am by HL

GOPers, Worried About Torture Prosecutions, Delay Holder Vote
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary committee are delaying for up to a week a vote on Eric Holder’s nomination to be Attorney General, with some saying they want more time to consider his record on torture. John Cornyn, Republican of…

DOD Pundit Report Finds No Wrongdoing
The DOD’s just-released report on its TV pundit hiring program finds that the department did not violate prohibitions on using public finds for propaganda by ceding the networks with retired military analysts (RMAs). Here’s the key passage: The Comptroller General…

Fired US Attorney To Prosecute Gitmo Cases
David Iglesias — the former US Attorney who was fired in 2006 for failing to prosecute politically motivated cases as aggressively as the Bush administration and its allies wanted — has a new job. Iglesias, a member of the US…






Kennedy Confirms She Will Not Seek Senate Seat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:36 am by HL

Kennedy Confirms She Will Not Seek Senate Seat
After a night of confusion, Caroline Kennedy released a statement confirming reports that she was no longer a contender for New York’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

The New York Times notes the leak of her decision appeared to catch Gov. David Paterson off guard, “throwing the Paterson administration into confusion and setting off conflicting news media reports. After frantic talks between the governor’s operation and Ms. Kennedy’s camp Wednesday evening, Ms. Kennedy appeared to waver on whether to withdraw, and was preparing a statement reasserting her interest in the job. But just after midnight, she decided to make clear she was taking her name out of consideration and released the statement saying so.”

The statement was one sentence: “I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate.”


Israel’s Bombing Campaign Will "Send Gaza Back Decades"

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:35 am by HL

Israel’s Bombing Campaign Will "Send Gaza Back Decades"
In the last days before declaring a cease-fire, Israel upped its assault. The objective? To destroy Gaza’s infrastructure and economy.

Someone Take Away Thomas Friedman’s Computer Before He Types Another Sentence
Reading Thomas Friedman is like listening to the man talking to himself. His latest book, <i>Hot, Flat and Crowded</i>, is no different.

Israel’s Bombing Campaign Will "Send Gaza Back Decades"
In the last days before declaring a cease-fire, Israel upped its assault. The objective? To destroy Gaza’s infrastructure and economy.

A Silver Lining to the Economic Crisis: Less Money for Prisons
As states grapple with record budget deficits, more politicians are looking toward criminal justice reform to cut costs.


Looking Toward the Mountaintop

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:34 am by HL

Looking Toward the Mountaintop
We have overcome. We have reached the mountaintop. We have entered a post-racial era. We are witnessing a racial thaw. For many Americans–especially whites–the Obama inauguration is a moment of self-congratulation. That 43 percent of white voters pulled the…

The Importance Of Political Cunning
Sitting here in The Nation’s London bureau watching Barack Obama take the office was a surreal experience. I’m still coming down from the thrill of hearing Aretha make “My Country Tis of Thee” a truly beautiful song–and the deep,…






U.N. special rapporteur on torture calls on U.S. to prosecute Bush and Rumsfeld.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:33 am by HL

U.N. special rapporteur on torture calls on U.S. to prosecute Bush and Rumsfeld.
In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques: “Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings […]

In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques:

bushrummyweb.jpg“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

Indeed, a bipartisan Senate report released last month found that Rumsfeld “bore major responsibility” for abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and other military detention centers. Just last week, a Bush administration official overseeing Gitmo trials said Rumsfeld approved the torture of one particular detainee. Bush himself said last year that he was aware of his advisers’ discussions on torture and recently admitted that he personally authorized waterboarding Kalid Sheik Muhammad.


Lobbying Rules Surpass Those of Previous Presidents, Experts Say

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 22nd, 2009 5:32 am by HL

Lobbying Rules Surpass Those of Previous Presidents, Experts Say
New lobbying and records rules issued by President Obama yesterday appear to go beyond changes implemented by previous presidents, and could usher in an era of openness in federal government, according to ethics experts and open-government advocates.

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Iraqi Voters Getting a Taste of Retail Politics
BAGHDAD, Jan. 21 — Facing a skeptical and sometimes hostile crowd, 13 candidates vying for seats on Baghdad’s provincial council passed around a microphone for three hours during a town hall debate this month as voters threw out questions and challenged their answers.