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Archive for March 26th, 2009

EU President Calls Obama Policies ‘the Road to Hell’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

EU President Calls Obama Policies ‘the Road to Hell’

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is currently the EU’s rotating president and, like a drunken sailor on karaoke night, he’s letting everyone know what’s on his mind. On President Obama’s economic policies, for example, he declared: “All of these steps, these combinations and permanency, is the road to hell.”

This could get awkward. Obama’s upcoming European tour includes a stop in Prague. Then again, Topolanek just lost a no-confidence vote, so he doesn’t exactly speak for his people at the moment. Just Europe.

Washington Post:

“All of these steps, these combinations and permanency, is the road to hell,” Topolanek said. “The United States did not take the right path.”

Topolanek’s critique came just one day after his government in Prague was toppled by a no-confidence vote by opposition lawmakers in the Czech parliament. Although he will remain prime minister for the time being, his shaky position at home raised questions about whether he could remain effective as the E.U.‘s president until his country’s six-month term expires at the end of June.

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Obama budget on the march through Congress

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Obama budget on the march through Congress
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Suggesting inconsistency on Obama’s part, Todd expands on his flawed “sacrifice” analogy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Suggesting inconsistency on Obama’s part, Todd expands on his flawed “sacrifice” analogy

Referring to a question he asked President Obama during Obama’s March 24 press conference, on the March 25 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, NBC News’ chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd suggested Obama was being inconsistent in not asking the American people for sacrifice — during a recession, with millions recently unemployed — after Obama criticized President Bush for failing to ask the American people for sacrifice following the September 11, 2001, attacks.

During the March 24 press conference, Todd asked Obama: “Some have compared this financial crisis to a war, and in times of war, past presidents have called for some form of sacrifice. … [W]hy haven’t you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?” Discussing the question the next day on Morning Joe, Todd stated that he asked the question because Obama had “criticized President Bush for … sort of wasting an opportunity when he had — when the President Bush had the whole nation listening, ready to do something, and the president asked nothing.” Todd did not acknowledge during the press conference or during his Morning Joe appearance that Americans have lost more than 4 million jobs and $11 trillion (18 percent) of household wealth since the start of the recession.

Indeed, in his response to Todd, Obama stated in part: “With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. They — you’ve got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You’ve got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day and entire day’s worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren’t laid off. I think that, across the board, people are making adjustments, large and small, to accommodate the fact that we’re in very difficult times right now.”

Todd’s question and subsequent remarks echo comments by Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman, who wrote on March 10 that “the establishment” has criticized Obama for “[t]he failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to ‘give up’ something.”

Other media figures commenting on Todd’s question at the press conference similarly made the flawed analogy between calling for sacrifice during a war and during a recession. Jonah Goldberg wrote on National Review‘s The Corner blog: “Maybe I missed something, but it sure sounded like Obama is simply unwilling to really call for sacrifice from the American people. George Bush was denounced for not calling for sacrifice after 9/11.” During the press conference, Jonathan Martin wrote in a Politico blog post that Todd asked a “[g]ood Question: Where is the call for sacrifice? Recall President Bush only asked that folks go shopping after 9/11. POTUS responds: ‘I think folks are sacrificing left and right,’ before citing the struggles facing many Americans right now.” In a subsequent post, Martin asserted: “Chuck follows and gets POTUS to rattle off what he expects of Ameicans [sic]: Work hard, look after their families, volunteer in their community and follow the debate in Washington. Not a very demanding request.”

From the March 24 press conference:

TODD: Thank you, Mr. President. Some have compared this financial crisis to a war, and in times of war, past presidents have called for some form of sacrifice. Some of your programs, whether for Main Street or Wall Street, have actually cushioned the blow for those that were irresponsible during this economic period of prosperity, or supposed prosperity, that you were talking about.

Why, given this new era of responsibility that you’re asking for, why haven’t you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?

OBAMA: Well, let me — let me take that question in a couple — couple of phases. First of all, it’s not true that we have not asked sacrifice from people who are getting taxpayer money. We have imposed some very stiff conditions. The only problem that we’ve had so far are contracts that were put in place before we took over.

But moving forward, anybody — any bank, for example, that is receiving capital from the taxpayers is going to have to have some very strict conditions in terms of how it pays out its executives, how it pays out dividends, how it’s reporting its lending practices. So we want to make sure that there’s some stiff conditions in place.

With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. They — you’ve got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You’ve got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day and entire day’s worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren’t laid off. I think that, across the board, people are making adjustments, large and small, to accommodate the fact that we’re in very difficult times right now.

What I’ve said here in Washington is that we’ve got to make some tough choices. We got to make some tough budgetary choices. What we can’t do, though, is sacrifice long-term growth investments that are critical to the future. And that’s why my budget focuses on health care, energy, education — the kinds of things that can build a foundation for long-term economic growth as opposed to the fleeting prosperity that we’ve seen over the last several years. I mean, when you have an economy in which the majority of growth is coming from the financial sector — when AIG selling a derivative is counted as an increase in the gross domestic product, then that’s not a model for sustainable economic growth.

And what we have to do is invest in those things that will allow the American people’s capacity for ingenuity and innovation, their ability to take risks, but make sure that those risks are grounded in good products and good services that they believe they can market to the rest of the country, that those models of economic growth are what we’re promoting, and that’s what I think our budget does.

TODD: But you don’t think there should be a specific call to action that you want the American public — I mean, this is — you’ve described this as an economic crisis like nothing we have —

OBAMA: Right.

TODD: — seen since the Great Depression.

OBAMA: Well, as I said, the American people are making a host of sacrifices in their individual lives. We are going through an extraordinary crisis, but we believe that taken — if you take the steps that we’ve already taken with respect to housing, with respect to small businesses, if you look at what we’re doing in terms of increasing liquidity in the financial system, that the steps that we’re taking can actually stabilize the economy and get it moving again.

What I’m looking from the American people to do is that they are going to be doing what they’ve always done, which is working hard, looking after their families, making sure that despite the economic hard times that they’re still contributing to their community, that they’re still participating in volunteer activities, that they are paying attention to the debates that are going on in Washington.

And the budgets that we’re putting forward and some of the decisions that we’re having to make are going to be tough decisions, and we’re going to need the support of the American people, and that’s part of why what I’ve tried to do is to be out front as much as possible, explaining in very clear terms exactly what we’re doing.

From the March 25 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Let’s go right now to NBC News chief White House correspondent —

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Let’s ask Chuck to chime in.

SCARBOROUGH: — Chuck Todd. Chuck, an epic battle right now —

TODD: I’m not chiming in on that topic.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. We’re going to go off of that topic, and —

TODD: Please.

SCARBOROUGH: — go to your question last night —

TODD: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: — to the president. Why did you ask it? And how do you think he responded?

TODD: Well, I asked it simply because we’ve heard a lot of — this is an unprecedented time, right? — and one of the things that the president, when he was a candidate, criticized President Bush for doing was sort of wasting an opportunity when he had — when the President Bush had the whole nation listening, ready to do something, and the president asked nothing. And so, that was why I was asking it.

You know, this is — they’ve — he’s described this economic crisis as something we haven’t seen since the Great Depression, so was there some sort of call to action? Is there some — you know, for some, that could be a sacrifice; for others, it could be something else that he was asking for, and I’ve been surprised that nothing has come out of this administration.

Somebody wrote last night — it’s sort of been — it’s been a topic that’s been sort of hanging over the head of this new administration. They kind of want to deal with it on one hand; on the other hand, they have to deal with all these fires first, right? They’ve got to put the fingers in all of these financial dikes. And then, at some point, you do get the sense that they want to do some sort of — OK, everybody needs to do X, or everybody should try and do Y, or we wish Americans would do Z, but they don’t seem to be there yet because he’s still got a lot of — a lot of — a lot of holes to fill.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, and, Jeffrey Sachs, that’s — again, that’s the point I’ve been making. If you want to talk about health-care reform, fine, but give us the tough choices on how we —

TODD: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: — restrain costs. Don’t just say we’re going to throw 650 billion more dollars in the system.

JEFFREY SACHS (The Earth Institute director): I think, especially, also, in the financial sector, you know, they just haven’t gotten this right in terms of, you know, asking, you know, for the sacrifice from those who caused the crisis in the first place and, obviously, they’ve taken a lot of political hits for that. But it’s a little bit understandable — just hasn’t been directed at what the banks, the bankers, the managers need to do, and they’ve not asked from them what’s necessary.

SCARBOROUGH: Chuck Todd, how do you think the president did last night? Just — let’s just talk pure style because —

TODD: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: — that sense of confidence is so important for presidents speaking to America.


Imagine if ‘President McCain’ Joked About the Special Olympics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Imagine if ‘President McCain’ Joked About the Special Olympics
President Barack Obama, in an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, made a self-deprecating but ill-advised joke, in which he referred to the Special Olympics. He quickly apologized. Crisis averted. Fair enough. But the real story is the media double standard: Imagine the uproar if a President John McCain made the Special Olympics comment.

Will Anyone Admit That Taxes Have to Rise?
WASHINGTON — The debate on the budget is phony, the howling on deficits a charade. Few politicians want to acknowledge that if you really are concerned about long-term deficits, you have to support tax increases. That’s why the most significant moment of President Obama’s news conference on Tuesday was not his dodge of a question on AIG, but his defense of the least popular tax increase in his budget: limits on the benefits wealthier taxpayers get for their charitable contributions and mortgage payments. It has been a long time since a president was willing to defend raising taxes. You have to go back to Bill Clinton and his 1993 budget. The consequences for Democrats who voted for that budget — no Republicans did — were grave. Republicans swept the 1994 elections and held on to the House for 12 years. No wonder politicians are so phobic about taxes.


Is Probe Of AIG Bailout, Payments To Counter-Parties, In The Offing?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Is Probe Of AIG Bailout, Payments To Counter-Parties, In The Offing?
Is the momentum building for an investigation into the real beneficiaries of AIG’s latest bailout? Earlier this month, the Treasury Department announced it was rescuing the fallen insurance giant yet again, bringing the total amount of taxpayer assistance given to…

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Heaven: A How-To Guide

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Heaven: A How-To Guide


Obama Keeps Selling Budget

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Obama Keeps Selling Budget
“After several e-mail pleas and a nationwide door-knocking campaign, President Obama’s political arm will start airing a television commercial Thursday, urging voters to pressure Congress to approve his budget,” CNN reports.

Said a spokeswoman: “The ad will run on national and D.C. cable — primarily MSNBC and CNN. This is just one of the many tools we’ll provide our supporters with, to help them make their voices heard and send a strong signal to Washington that the time for change is now.”

Meanwhile, Obama will hold an online town hall meeting on the economy at 11:30 am ET in which over 30,000 questions have already been submitted.

Behind CQ’s Election Map
The new CQ Politics map showing the 2008 president vote by congressional district is a political junkie’s goldmine. But why was it released months after the election?

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Hemp Is Not Pot: It’s the Economic Stimulus and Green Jobs Solution We Need

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Hemp Is Not Pot: It’s the Economic Stimulus and Green Jobs Solution We Need
We can make over 25,000 things with it. Farmers love it. Environmentalists love it. You can’t get high from it. So why is it still illegal?

Hemp Is Not Pot: It’s the Economic Stimulus and Green Jobs Solution We Need
We can make over 25,000 things with it. Farmers love it. Environmentalists love it. You can’t get high from it. So why is it still illegal?

The Real AIG Scandal: How the Game Is Rigged at Wall Street’s Casino
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Hemp Is Not Pot: It’s the Economic Stimulus and Green Jobs Solution We Need
We can make over 25,000 things with it. Farmers love it. Environmentalists love it. You can’t get high from it. So why is it still illegal?


Taxes And Entitlements: Second Thoughts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Taxes And Entitlements: Second Thoughts
Even as recently as reading Matt’s terrific book, but before the furor over the AIG bonuses and compensation for execs of TARP-owned financial institutions, I shared Matt’s view that inevitably federal taxes as a share of GDP will have…





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Ford employee responds: ?I agree with you about the rantings of the hopelessly pig-headed Mr. O’Reilly.?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 26th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Ford employee responds: ?I agree with you about the rantings of the hopelessly pig-headed Mr. O’Reilly.?
Mark Schirmer, a spokesman for Ford Motor Company (which owns Lincoln and Volvo), contacted ThinkProgress this afternoon, in response to your emails calling on O’Reilly’s corporate advertisers to stop supporting the O’Reilly Harassment Machine. Schirmer — speaking for himself and not on behalf of Ford — said he agrees with the thrust of ThinkProgress’ […]

Mark Schirmer, a spokesman for Ford Motor Company (which owns Lincoln and Volvo), contacted ThinkProgress this afternoon, in response to your emails calling on O’Reilly’s corporate advertisers to stop supporting the O’Reilly Harassment Machine. Schirmer — speaking for himself and not on behalf of Ford — said he agrees with the thrust of ThinkProgress’ criticisms of O’Reilly, but explained that Ford advertises on the show because it has high ratings:

I agree with you about the rantings of the hopelessly pig-headed Mr. O’Reilly, recognize that I am just an innocent bystander in this email letter silliness. I work at Ford and support Ford, but have no idea how the decisions are made on where we advertise. Frankly, as a mainstream company, we advertise everywhere there are good ratings. That is not an endorsement of the show — that is recognition that people are watching the show. Don’t know why they watch that mindless ranting. But they watch in droves. Welcome to America, I guess.

Schirmer, again speaking for himself, added, “I saw the tapes of O’Reilly ambushing Hertzberg of the New Yorker a few month back. It demonstrated how moronic O’Reilly really is.” He concluded that “what Bill O’Reilly does or says is not important.” Getting Ford back on its feet though, “that is important.”

Keep up the pressure. Click here to tell O’Reilly’s advertisers to stop supporting the O’Reilly Harassment Machine.

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Update As of 5:30 pm ET, more than 1,300 of you have stood up against O’Reilly. Thank you! Please keep the heat on.

Update Mark Truby, Director of Corporate Communications at Ford Motor Company, tells ThinkProgress that Shirmer’s “comments don’t represent the view of Ford Motor Company.”