Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Do you know Bobby Jindal?
The Daily Beast delves into the background of the GOP's Brown Guy Rising (hokey, Barney Fife speech the other day notwithstanding...)
... as the country gets acquainted with the Bayou’s boy wonder, the stranger details of Jindal’s religious or personal background remain largely unknown, even among the Republican grassroots. How many Americans know that Jindal boasted of participating in an exorcism that purged the spirit of Satan from a college girlfriend? So far, Jindal’s tale of “beating a demon” remains behind the subscription wall of New Oxford Review, an obscure Catholic magazine; only a few major blogs have seized on the story.

Born in Baton Rouge in 1971, Jindal rarely visited his parents’ homeland. His birth name was Piyush Jindal. When he was four years old, Piyush changed his name to “Bobby” after becoming mesmerized by an episode of The Brady Bunch. Jindal later wrote that he began considering converting to Catholicism during high school after “being touched by the love and simplicity of a Christian girl who dreamt of becoming a Supreme Court justice so she could stop her country from ‘killing unborn babies.’” After watching a short black-and-white film on the crucifixion of Christ, Jindal claimed he “realized that if the Gospel stories were true, if Christ really was the son of God, it was arrogant of me to reject Him and question the gift of salvation.”

So ... "Bobby" is so influenced by the teevee that he changed his name because of "The Brady Bunch" and came to Jesus because of a movie??? Yeesh. ... Okay, moving on. About that exorcism!

During his years at Brown University, Jindal pursued his Catholic faith with unbridled zeal. Jindal became emotionally involved with a classmate named Susan who had overcome skin cancer and struggled to cope with the suicide of a close friend. Jindal reflected in an article for a Catholic magazine (called “Beating a Demon: Physical Dimensions of Spiritual Warfare”) that “sulfuric” scents hovered over Susan everywhere she went. In the middle of a prayer meeting, Jindal claimed that Susan collapsed and began convulsing on the floor. His prayer partners gathered together on the floor, holding hands and shouting, “Satan, I command you to leave this woman!”

While under the supposed control of satanic demons, Susan lashed out at Jindal and his friends. “Whenever I concentrated long enough to begin prayer, I felt some type of physical force distracting me,” Jindal reflected. “It was as if something was pushing down on my chest, making it very hard for me to breathe… I began to think that the demon would only attack me if I tried to pray or fight back; thus, I resigned myself to leaving it alone in an attempt to find peace for myself.”

Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!

UPDATE: About that "go ahead and arrest me" story.

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posted by JReid @ 8:08 AM  
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Chris Matthews smackdown of the day
He hammers a hapless Republican (California Rep. Darrell Issa) for the idiotic, perennial put down of referring to the "Democrat Party." Transcript:

Issa: “What's scarier, though, President Obama proposed that these budgets -- these deficits created under a Democrat Congress, he's going to cut them in half over a long period of time…”

Matthews: “Well, I think the Democratic Party calls itself the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party. Do we have to do this every night? Why do people talk like this? Is this just fighting words to get the name on?

Issa: “No this isn’t intended to be fighting words…”

Matthews: “They call themselves the Democratic Party. Let’s just call people what they call themselves and stop the Mickey Mouse here - save that for the stump. Seriously…I want to get back to Congressman Frank and some English here…”

video:



P.S.: Barney Frank was pretty darned good, too.

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posted by JReid @ 10:44 PM  
When your biggest star is Joe the Plumber...
I didn't write much about the CPAC conference today because ... well ... it's so darned irrelevant. What's to say about a hotel ballroom full of right wing zealots, angry white guys, gun nuts, neocon leftovers and ... Joe the Plumber... (Sigh.) Yes, he's still hanging around (and he's still not a plumber) ... not selling many books, though... (Where is Human Events when you need them to buy in bulk??? Oh, right... they're having financial troubles because the evil conspiracy of the Commie Postal Service.) From an email appeal today entitled "We're in Trouble, We Need Your Help":
It pains me terribly to write a letter like this, but a crisis that threatens the very existence of HUMAN EVENTS forces me to ask for your help.

Let me explain...

You may recall that, just over a year ago, the federal government's taxpayer-subsidized mail-delivery monopoly -- aka the United States Postal Service -- hit us with a whopping 20 percent rate increase that drove up our annual delivery costs by more than $120,000. [Emphasis added]

Well, believe it or not, they've just done it again.

That's right: the USPS is hitting us with yet another postal increase that will jack up our annual delivery costs by an additional $51,568.

Together, this one-two punch of rate hikes amounts to more than $170,000 in increased annual delivery costs -- a staggering sum that we simply can't afford.

Now, it's outrageous enough that the USPS can continually jack up our rates without fearing any loss of our business to more cost-efficient competitors -- something it can do ONLY because federal law effectively protects it from private competition.

But what really burns me up is that these increases are part of a new rate system that was designed in part by lobbyists for liberal media giant Time Warner and other large publishers to benefit themselves at the expense of smaller competitors such as HUMAN EVENTS. ...

...Please send as large a gift as you possibly can. Our readers have never let us down in the past. We appreciate all your support over the years -- and thanks in advance for your generous assistance today.

Sincerely,

Tom Winter
President and Editor in Chief, HUMAN EVENTS

And of course, Joe was the biggest star at CPAC because the brown guy, since George W. Bush wasn't invited, Sarah Palin couldn't be bothered and Bobby Jindal ... is now persona non grata. Aw, shucks, fellers!

So CPAC was down to jokes about Obama not being a citizen, jokes from The Moustache about blowing up Chicago, and oh, yeah, the increasingly lonely intellectual, Newt Gingrich. Maybe they could get Michael Steele to come down and perform some hip-hop???

UPDATE: Check out this pretty nasty dis of Karl Rove and Dubya during the CPAC conference:

For all the sarcasm and accusations of socialism directed at President Obama, their immediate anger is focused on party purging before rebuilding. “Why is ‘the architect’ [Karl Rove] giving free advice, even as people like us crawl from the rubble of the collapsed structure built from his blueprints?” asks National Review contributing editor Deroy Murdock. “Imagine clicking on the TV and catching a show called Cooking with Typhoid Mary.”

Ouch!

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posted by JReid @ 10:27 PM  
Punkdified: Rick Santelli blames his wife for fearing Robert Gibbs
The former derivatives trader, who Gibbs pointed out, probably doesn't live anywhere near the "losers" who are going under after losing their jobs and homes, is what many wealthy Wall Street wags are: a punk who's better at sniping on television than answering questions. Watch Matt Lauer take him down, and catch him in a lie, as Santelli throws his poor wife under the bus; denying he accused the president's spokesman of threatening him, and then pawning the fear of a pudgy press secretary of on her:



Santelli, I think you're on about minute 14. Enjoy the last one.

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posted by JReid @ 10:23 PM  
Obama's budget: winners and loses
Politico breaks it down. My favorite "loser"?
George W. Bush

While Obama's proposed budget will hit Bush hard in the wallet, just like other wealthy Americans, the main blow may be aimed at his reputation.

The 134-page spending plan opens with a 10-page preamble entitled "Inheriting a Legacy of Misplaced Priorities" that lays blame for many of today's problems at the doorstep of the former president.

"It is no coincidence that the policy failures of the past eight years have been accompanied by unprecedented Governmental secrecy and unprecedented access by lobbyists and the well-connected to policymakers in Washington. Consequently, the needs of those in the room trump those of their fellow citizens," the plan says.

But others get blamed in a broad-brush condemnation: "For the better part of three decades, a disproportionate share of the Nation's wealth has been accumulated by the very wealthy," the budget says. It blasts "a legacy of irresponsibility," adding, "It's our responsibility to change it."
Yup.

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posted by JReid @ 10:11 PM  
Mining the WaPo: Robin Hood and the budget showdown to come
The House got cold feet on mortgage modifications. The key paragraph in the WaPo story:
Under the provision, a bankruptcy judge would be able to cut the principal on a homeowner's mortgage, lower the interest rate and extend the terms, provisions known as "cramdowns." Judges are already allowed to modify mortgages for vacation or second homes but not for a borrower's primary residence.
In other words, bankruptcy will continue to be rich man's relief, at least for now. This time, Democrats tied to the financial services sector also opposed the change.

Meanwhile, the right is howling about President Obama's budget proposal, which gives real world figures for our debt and deficit for the first time. And yes, it's not looking good. But Republicans will have a hard time running away from the record of the president and Congress who got us here. (Spoiler alert: Both of them are Republican.)

From Dan Froomkin, we get the coming GOP narrative: that Obama is playing Robin Hood:

"You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation," Obama said this morning "Today, we have to focus on foundations."

What he didn't mention was that he was also ripping out some of the foundations that were laid by the previous administration.

Obama's budget would dramatically increase taxes on the wealthy, while cutting payments and subsidies to insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness and defense contractors -- and mandating a system to charge polluters for their carbon emissions.

It would, in short, reverse the redistribution of wealth that took place during the Bush era. This time, the rich will be subsidizing the poor, not the other way around.

The revenue increases -- supplemented by staggering deficit spending -- would pay for tax cuts for non-wealthy Americans and hugely ambitious plans in the areas of energy, health and education that, as Obama insisted on Tuesday night are necessary to assure the country's long-term prosperity.

And the problem with that would be...? I recall that rich people did pretty well under the Clinton tax rates, which is what we're returning to.

Meanwhile, Bill Kristol, trying to reinvent himself at the WaPo, advises Republicans to try and smother the Obama agenda soon:




Obama's aim is not merely to "revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity." Obama outlined much of this new foundation in the most unabashedly liberal and big-government speech a president has delivered to Congress since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Obama intends to use his big three issues -- energy, health care and education -- to transform the role of the federal government as fundamentally as did the New Deal and the Great Society.

Conservatives and Republicans will disapprove of this effort. They will oppose it. Can they do so effectively? Perhaps -- if they can find reasons to obstruct and delay. They should do their best not to permit Obama to rush his agenda through this year. They can't allow Obama to make of 2009 what Franklin Roosevelt made of 1933 or Johnson of 1965. Slow down the policy train. Insist on a real and lengthy debate. Conservatives can't win politically right now. But they can raise doubts, they can point out other issues that we can't ignore (especially in national security and foreign policy), they can pick other fights -- and they can try in any way possible to break Obama's momentum. Only if this happens will conservatives be able to get a hearing for their (compelling, in my view) arguments against big-government, liberal-nanny-state social engineering -- and for their preferred alternatives.

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posted by JReid @ 5:37 PM  
Michael Steele: taking a bad thing and making it worse
It was bad enough that Bobby Jindal absolutely sucked giving the Republican response to President Barack Obama's address to Congress. Now, Michael "the hip-hop chairman" Steele has taken the critique to a new low, with the help of a true idiot, Curtis Sliwa. From Ben Smith at Politico:

In an interview with Curtis Sliwa on ABC Radio last night, the host and RNC Chairman Michael Steele jokingly linked Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to the film "Slumdog Millionaire." Steele offered Jindal "slum love.

Here's the transcript:

SLIWA: Now, using a little bit of that street terminology, are you giving him any Slum love, Michael?

STEELE: (laughter)

SLIWA: Because he is — when guys look at him and young women look at him — they say oh, that's the slumdog millionaire, governor. So, give me some slum love.

STEELE: I love it. (inaudible) ... some slum love out to my buddy. Gov. Bobby Jindal is doing a friggin' awesome job in his state. ...

Politico also has the audio.

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posted by JReid @ 5:12 PM  
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Line of the day: the party of Beavis and Butthead
Big up to Paul Krugman, who bitch slaps Country Bob Jindal's ridiculing of government spending on volcano tracking:
leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens. The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
Heh. He said "butt..."

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posted by JReid @ 9:36 PM  
Bobby Jindal and the perils of excessive folksiness

Jindal's folksy response to Obama, in which he calls himself a "pre-existing condition."

I know everyone wants to talk about President Obama's powerful performance last night in his non-SOTU SOTU address, but sorry, I just can't get Bobby Jindal's response out of my mind. Yes, yes, it was problematic in that it lacked specific remedies to our economic woes that could confer credibility on the party out of power or make America want to give the GOP another chance at leadership, which is the essential critique over at The Moderate Voice. Sure, it's insane and nihilistic, as David Brooks put it, to simply stand there and say "no, no, NO, let the country crash and burn while we pray for better days!" And yep, it "stunk on ice" in terms of delivery, as this booty-obsessed GOPer opined (one Republican strategist said watching Obama then Jindal was "like watching the Rolling Stones open for Air Supply." Ouch!) But WHY did it stink so badly?

In short: it's the GOP's obsession with appearing to be "just folks." They can't get enough of it. The party that since the late 19th century has represented big business, from Standard Oil to Halliburton to Lehman Brothers, has so denuded itself of a middle class message, that it is left to panhandle for lower middle class white voters in Appalachia and the rest of the NASCAR circuit. How to do it? By trying to marry the interests of poor whites to the interests of rich whites. Somewhere along the line, the GOP decided that the way to do that was to feign a king of false populism -- an "us against them" brocade that pits "real Americans" -- hardscrabble, indepedent folks who don't want no darned Social Security (as Joe the Plumber bravely asserted during the campaign) and don't need no government welfare disguised as "stimulus money" ... even though the states they live in are, to a one, net welfare states that take in more federal money than they pay in taxes.

The incredible trick of getting poor people to stand up for the rights of the rich -- sort of like getting the masses to storm the Bastille on behalf of Marie Antoinette -- is a neat one, performed in large part thanks to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which allowed people like Rush Limbaugh to own AM radio, a key transmitter of information to folks who still use rabbit ears on their television sets and prefer huntin' and fishin' to reading a newspaper.

The other way the GOP operates, is to create these characters -- people whose backgrounds suggest wealth, success and sophistication: a self-made governor of Alaska; a Rhodes Scholar, first generation American, 37-year-old governor of Louisiana; even the son of a president -- but whose demeanor suggests "aw, shucks, fellers, ahm just lahk you!" George W. Bush, Yale graduate, male cheerleader and scion of great wealth, purchased a ranch in Crawford just before running for president. Immediately upon leaving office? He and Laura moved into an exclusive, comfortable neighborhood of Dallas that had racial covenants in place just a few years ago. Nobody knows how intelligent Sarah Palin actually is, but during the campaign she came off as a cross between Ellie Mae Clampett and Donna Reed. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor Maryland, and now the Official Black Man of the 99 percent white Republican Party, feels the need to drop the word "baby" at the end of every sentence, and promises to give his party a "hip-hop makeover." And now, there's poor Bobby Jindal, an impressive man, if you read his resume, but whose demeanor and delivery last night were so stilted and ... hell ... just plain wierd ... that he has ensured only one thing: a cameo on South Park. Other than that? 2012 is a wash.

Watch: Bobby Jindal's Country Bear Jamboree:



Democrats have their folksy characters, too. Bill Clinton, who like Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar, is as folksy as they come. And even Barack Obama comes across as a purely suburban Mr. Rogers, which was part of his appeal to white voters. But both of these men were and are unafraid to flaunt their intellectual heft and command of policy. Meanwhile, the so-called "conservatives" of the GOP exhibit a disdain for anyone who sounds too smart or educated (essentially telling their least educated voters, "see, that guy thinks he's better than you...) And it seems, the Grand Old Party has developed a total aversion to actual ideas. Instead, what they're selling is the old salt of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! ... coupled with this strange, "aw shucks" pandering to a shrinking database of voters in a confined geographic area, and at a long-term demographic disadvantage. (Steele is even hinting that his RNC will sabotage the re-elections of the last remaining northeastern GOP Senators, as if a far right candidate could possibly win in Pennsylvania or Maine today.)

Unfortunately for the GOP, as one of the few authentic folksy guys in the party -- Mike Huckabee, who was rejected by the leaders of the right wing revolution -- might say, "that dog won't hunt." Not when most Americans realize that we desperately need more education, more intellectual curiosity, and less pandering to the lowest common denominator, in order to move the country forward.

Meanwhile: Malkin defends Jindal, her new Sarah Palin.

UPDATE: El Rushbo comes to Bobby's rescue.

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posted by JReid @ 10:01 AM  
From the wilderness: Bill Kristol
Poor Bill Kristol. Having embarrassed himself as an error-prone New York Times columnist, he's now reduced to doing his schtick on Fox News and posting snipey blogs on the WaPo. His beef with Obama? He didn't mention Kristol's favorite subject in the non-SOTU speech last night, and that subject is WAR, WAR, BEAUTIFUL, GLORIOUS WAR!!!!!!!

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posted by JReid @ 9:52 AM  
The federal dole: the common denominator in GOP stim opposition
Let's see... our folksy friend Bobby Jindal doesn't want the stimulus money ... nor does the equally folksy Sarah Palin of Alaska, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Sonny Perdue of Georgia, and even some Democrats, like Phil Bredeson of Tennessee. Most of them say they only object to giving their unemployed residents increased benefits. But since they have now been informed by Chuck Schumer that it's "all or nothing," perhaps some of them will stand by their "conservative principles" and not take any of the dough.

Still, as many observers, including political scientist Larry Sabato, have said, it would be a lot easier to listen to that kind of fiscal "discipline" from people who weren't feeding so heartily at the federal trough. Because see, it turns out, the states that are turning up their noses at the federal dollars Obama is offering, happen to also be the states sucking down far more federal pork than, say, Florida, Michigan, New York or California, which send more taxes to D.C. than they get back (and where the governors have said, "yes, please show us the money."

According to the Tax Policy Center, here's how the numbers shake out, in terms of dollars received per dollar of taxes paid, in the latest year they have records for, 2005 (states where governors or Senators have taken a yay or nay position on the stimulus in bold*)

State

Outlay to Tax Ratio

Ranking

New Mexico

$2.03

1

Mississippi*

$2.02

2

Alaska*

$1.84

3

Louisiana*

$1.78

4

West Virginia

$1.76

5

North Dakota

$1.68

6

Alabama

$1.66

7

South Dakota

$1.53

8

Kentucky

$1.51

9

Virginia

$1.51

10

Montana

$1.47

11

Hawaii

$1.44

12

Maine

$1.41

13

Arkansas

$1.41

14

Oklahoma

$1.36

15

South Carolina

$1.35

16

Missouri

$1.32

17

Maryland

$1.30

18

Tennessee*

$1.27

19

Idaho

$1.21

20

Arizona

$1.19

21

Kansas

$1.12

22

Wyoming

$1.11

23

Iowa

$1.10

24

Nebraska

$1.10

25

Vermont

$1.08

26

North Carolina

$1.08

27

Pennsylvania

$1.07

28

Utah

$1.07

29

Indiana

$1.05

30

Ohio

$1.05

31

Georgia*

$1.01

32

Rhode Island

$1.00

33

Florida*

$0.97

34

Texas

$0.94

35

Oregon

$0.93

36

Michigan*

$0.92

37

Washington

$0.88

38

Wisconsin

$0.86

39

Massachusetts

$0.82

40

Colorado*

$0.81

41

New York*

$0.79

42

California*

$0.78

43

Delaware

$0.77

44

Illinois*

$0.75

45

Minnesota*

$0.72

46

New Hampshire

$0.71

47

Connecticut

$0.69

48

Nevada

$0.65

49

New Jersey

$0.61

50

District of Columbia

$5.55


Note that of the state where governors or Senators are pooh-poohing the stimulus money, only Minnesota is a net tax payer. The rest, well, they're more like geographic welfare queens.

Go figure.

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posted by JReid @ 9:28 AM  
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Bobby Jindal lays an egg
He looked shell shocked. He spoke in a monotonous, hokey voice, that reminded me of one of those old fashioned "Your body and you" films we were forced to watch in seventh grade. And that accent! I mean, the guy sounded like an Indian Barney Fife! But what was truly lame about Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's commanding address tonight was the content. In short: there was none.

Jindal invoked Hurricane Katrina (which caused billions of federal dollars to be sucked into his state) to pooh-pooh government spending. He then waxed creepy, referring to an "old saying" about half of Louisiana being "under water" and the other half being "under indictment." Sorry, but even so many years after Katrina, that under water shit's just not funny, man.

He snickered at investments in a new fleet of federal government automobiles that would ostensibly be built in Detroit ... hence creating jobs ... and high speed rail "from Las Vegas to Disneyland," which even if it were true, would also ... wait for it ... create (in this case, infrastructure) jobs.

He told hokey story after hokey story, about his dad, about the wonders of the supermarket, peppering a terrible speech with "Americans can do anything." It sounded like he should end each sentence with "Ma" or "Pa." Truly, this guy is the male Sarah Palin!

He invoked the shop-worn GOP tactic for appealing to ... well I'm not sure who at this point ... by droning on and on about slavery. As if! Barack Obama is already president, dude. Moving on, now!

He claimed Republicans in Congress "went along with" big government spending during the six years they controlled EVERY BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, instead of allowing his buddies in D.C. to take responsibility. And then he talked about re-asserting personal responsibility. Somebody get me a hammer for my head!

And those eyes! Staring, unmoving, into the camera... I felt hypnotized, and not in a good way...

If that guy is the future of the Republican Party, all I can say is Barack Obama: four more years.

Rachel Maddow's review was priceless: "bah bah bah ... I know I talk for a living, but I'm not sure I'm capable of doing what I get paid to do right now. I'm absolutely stunned."

Yeah, take a number, sister.

Another review (pre-video), from Midwest Voices:

I just wish Jindal's speech contained more substance.

Instead, the governor stuck to the tried-and-true attacks on Democrats as the spend, spend, spend party. That's basically true.

But what's the alternative from the GOP? Exactly how do Jindal and the Republicans want to get America out of its fiscal mess?

Look closely, and Jindal's speech contained little that shows he and his party have a lot of good clues about how to do that.

Yeah, well you should have seen it, brother! Even before Jindall got started, Chris Matthews muttered "Oh God..." (with the mic still hot...) setting up the hilarity to follow.

More Youtube fun. Jindal repeats debunked claims on high speed rail. Watch those eyes and tell me you are not entertained:





UPDATE: ThinkProgress compiles the Jindal pannery (from the Fox News panel, no less) and throws in some choice clips from Jindal Fife's little talk with America (and yes, he did call himself a "what folks in the in-SUR-ance industry call a 'pre-existing condition'...") God help us all...



Meanwhile, The Corner quickly cleans up the email thread. I wonder if Ramesh Ponnuru will get fired for saying this:
I thought his delivery was weak. The content will play well with the party base but seems unlikely to expand it. . . . That said, it is hard for anybody to come out well from responding to a presidential speech to a joint session of Congress.

On the up-side, the Giant Fur Hat Lady, the Hair Tail off the Side Lady and Joe the Plumber's dad thought he was "exemPLARY." I suppose Frank Luntz can't afford to be picky these days...

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posted by JReid @ 11:53 PM  
Obama brings on the hope
President Obama's address to Congress and the American people tonight is being described as Reaganesque. I think it was more FDR than Reagan, but there you go. He made clear the challenges we face (the "day of reckoning" part.) but promised the nation that we will recover. So far, the reviews are great. From the AP:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama gave America the audacity to hope again.

After describing the U.S. economy in nearly apocalyptic terms for weeks, pushing his $787 billion stimulus plan through Congress, the president used his address to Congress on Tuesday night to tap the deep well of American optimism — the never-say-die spirit that every president tries to capture in words. And great presidents embody.

"We will rebuild. We will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," Obama said, echoing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

"The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach," Obama said. "What is required now for this country is to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more."

The themes of responsibility, accountability and, above all, national community rang throughout an address carefully balanced by the gravity of its times. Job losses. Home foreclosures. Credit crisis. Rising health care costs. Declining trust in government. Obama touched all those bases.

And that from Ron Fournier of all people! Oh, and nobody messes with Joe.

Read the full address here.


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posted by JReid @ 11:42 PM  
Obama speech preview: the day of reckoning
From the White House press office: excerpts of President Obama's speech tonight:

We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

On the stimulus bill and his soon to be dropped budget:

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.

The prez speaks in about 30 minutes.

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posted by JReid @ 8:29 PM  
Schumer to Jindal and Company: take it or leave it
The stimulus package is not an a la carte buffet, Bobby Jindal. Chuck Schumer informs the GOPers that if they don't want all of the money, they needn't take any of the money.



By the way, a Youtube commenter asks a salient question: since when is helping the unemployed "pork?"

Barney Frank added to the hardball tonight ... er ... on "Countdown" by mocking the Republican Naysaying governors by saying "some people define courage as a willingness to endure the suffering of others." He then asks what's with Jindal "denying working people who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own" unemployment benefits. He concludes: "if that's political courage, I hope they have more cowardice."

Hear hear.

Meanwhile, the Huffpo has Schumer's letter to the White House. Bottom line:
As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.

For instance, at least two governors have proposed rejecting a program to expand unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Economists consistently rank unemployment insurance among the most efficient and cost-effective fiscal stimulus measures; by one frequently cited estimate, it provides an economic return of as high as $1.73 for every dollar invested. Thus, by denying this provision for their residents, these governors are not just depriving some of the neediest Americans of relief in a dire economy; they are undermining the overall stimulative impact of the package.

So go ahead, Bobby. Reject the money. I double dare you...

Update: RedState overreacts.

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posted by JReid @ 8:11 PM  
A new life for the 'Slumdog' kids
From the London Daily Mail:

The poverty stricken child stars of Slumdog Millionaire are set to be property tycoons after being promised new homes by the film’s Oscar winning director Danny Boyle and by Mumbai officials.

Boyle and producer Christian Colson told the Daily Mail that Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali and their families will be moved to apartments worth £20,000 each in the coming months.

But in an astonishing turn of events, officials from the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority - a Mumbai housing association - have now also said they want to gift the children a new flat each.

There was a public outcry after pictures emerged of the child stars living in squalor, despite the fact the film had grossed £70million worldwide.

One showed ten year-old Azharuddin sleeping on a rotting makeshift mat - a bed he shared with his parents - while another featured him crouched down by rubbish, washing in dirty water.

The shack that Rubina, who plays the young heroine Letika, calls home is just yards from an open sewer.

Not anymore... Question: didn't the kids get paid for the film? I should hope so!


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posted by JReid @ 7:02 PM  
Chris Matthews ain't d**kin around!
Every so often, Chris Matthews gets Philly with it. Like today, for instance, when during the 5 p.m. iteration of "Hardball," in an interview with Howard Dean, Chris expressed his frustration with America's inability to get universal healthcare done.
CHRIS: We haven’t been able to do this in good times, we haven’t been able to do this, Republican, Democrats... we’ve been dickin' around about this thing for years, decades no. It’s just not gotten solved. Why do you think we can solve it during the worst economic crisis since the 30s?

DEAN: Because it’s the worst economic times since the 30s. people finally get this. The business community really has been in trouble for years because of this particular issue and finally they just can’t afford it anymore. Because we’re in tough ec times, a large number of middle class people are losing their health insurance or know somebody who’s losing their health insurance. ...
Oh, Chris also endorsed HoDo for HHS secretary on the show. Nice.

UPDATE: MSNBC scrubbed the audio for the 7 p.m. version (and they'll probably do the same with the transcript.) But this is Chris at his best, truly keeping it real. Enjoy the original, real muthaf**n South Philly version here:



F**in A, man.

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posted by JReid @ 5:28 PM  
Afternoon roundup: Steele stupid, Utah common sense, and Sully took a pay cut???
A bit of news for your afternoon enjoyment ... or not...

Michael Steele is at it again. The RNC chair (and officially the dumbest man in America,) has issued a threat to any elected Republican who would dare cooperate with President Obama:

Speaking of Senators Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Steele said that the Senators were likely to face primaries as a result of their vote for the stimulus bill.

Then Steele was asked by Fox’s Neil Cavuto: “Will you, as RNC head, recommend no RNC funds being provided to help them?”

Steele confirmed that he would “talk to the state parties about.” When pressed on whether he was open to it, Steele said: “Oh, yes, I`m always open to everything, baby, absolutely.”

This is obviously about throwing red meat to the base, but it’s pretty interesting, because it sets the RNC up to take a hit from the right if he doesn’t follow through with this.

Whatever you say, baby.

Meanwhile, over in the real world, the governor of Utah declares Washington Republicans irrelevant:

The Republican governor of Utah on Monday said his party is blighted by leaders in Congress whose lack of new ideas renders them so "inconsequential" that he doesn't even bother to talk to them.

"I don't even know the congressional leadership," Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, shrugging off questions about top congressional Republicans, including House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "I have not met them. I don't listen or read whatever it is they say because it is inconsequential - completely."

Oops...

And how's this for crazy: hero pilot Chesley "Sully " Sullenberger testified on the Hill today, and had this to say:

The pilot who safely ditched a jetliner in New York's Hudson River said Tuesday that pay and benefit cuts are driving experienced pilots from careers in the cockpit.

US Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger told the House aviation subcommittee that his pay has been cut 40 percent in recent years and his pension has been terminated and replaced with a promise "worth pennies on the dollar" from the federally created Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. These cuts followed a wave of airline bankruptcies after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks compounded by the current recession, he said.

The reduced compensation has placed "pilots and their families in an untenable financial situation," Sullenberger said. "I do not know a single, professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps."

And if they'd kneecap Sully...

Meanwhile, the doctors and nurses treating the Travis the chimp victim are so traumatized by what they witnessed, they now need therapy:

Much of Charla Nash's face was chewed off in the horrific attack, requiring a team of surgeons to operate for seven hours to save her life.

Now, those same surgeons along with other doctors and nurses at Stamford Hospital have a group of outside experts available to them for counseling.

"While Stamford Hospital is a level two trauma center, we typically don't see cases of this magnitude," said hospital spokesman Scott Orstad.

"The hospital felt it was possible that this could have an impact on them, and it may not be something they initially realized in the first 24 hours."

Orstad said counseling sessions were first made available to hospital staff in the day's following the tragedy.

The savagery of the attack on Nash, 55, even left seasoned EMTs stunned.

Stamford EMT Bill Ackley said Nash's head injuries "involved her entire face and scalp" and both of her hands were torn apart.

Nash's eyes were injured, but Ackley would not say how extensively. Her hair had been ripped out.

Still want a pet monkey? Oh wait, think again...

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posted by JReid @ 2:40 PM  
What the Fox!!? Rupert Murdoch ... (gulp) ... apologizes


I guess if you want something done right ... argh... you've got to do it yourself. Rupert Murdoch has personally apologized for that dead chimp cartoon. From today's New York Post:

As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages. The buck stops with me.

Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.

Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you - without a doubt - that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.

We all hold the readers of the New York Post in high regard and I promise you that we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community.

Could this have anything to do with Rev. Al's smart tactic: going after Rupe's FCC waiver? Well, let's be big about it and say that per many stories, the right pirate of news really has softened up in his old age. That said, if you go by Michael Wolffe, I think this means that editor guy is like, totally out of a job...

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posted by JReid @ 2:08 PM  
The 'look, we've got a brown guy, too!' strategy
Whether it's Michael "Bling Bling" Steele or Ken Blackwell or, for a moment at least, Sideshow Mel Martinez, the GOP is desperate to prove that brown people can be Republicans, too. The latest lone chip in the cookie: conservative superstar Bobby Jindal. Chris Cillizza tells of his wonders (and completely misses the story of how his swarthiness makes him more attractive to the GOP.) ... I wonder if Crazy as a Bedbug Alan Keyes ever feels shunted aside...

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posted by JReid @ 9:18 AM  
The other Obama poll
A new ABC/WaPo poll puts the president's approval rating at 68 percent. The GOP? Not so much.

Compared, the approval ratings fall this way:

President Obama - 68%
Democrats in Congress - 50
Republicans in Congress - 38 (wah wah waaaaahhhhh....)

And the Post writes:

Overall, 68 percent of poll respondents approve of Obama's job performance, a finding that puts him on par with the average for the past eight presidents at this point in their tenures. Ninety percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents approve of Obama's performance. Sixty-four percent said they approve of how Obama is handling appointments to the Cabinet and other top positions in the administration, despite tax problems and stumbles that have led to three of his top nominees withdrawing from consideration.

Although Obama has encountered near-unanimous GOP opposition to his stimulus plan in Congress and widespread criticism for a housing bailout plan that some say rewards people who have been fiscally irresponsible, 64 percent of those polled back the economic recovery package, and the same percentage support the mortgage proposal. The broad support for the recovery package comes as just 10 percent said the bill was too heavy on spending and too light on tax cuts, the primary contention of the Republican leadership in Congress.

Overall, 60 percent of poll respondents approve of how Obama is dealing with the economy.

About nine in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 independents said Obama is living up to the central promise of his campaign: bringing change to Washington. Most Republicans said he is not.

Half of all poll respondents said they approve of how congressional Democrats are doing their jobs, up 15 points from July and the highest marks they have received in nearly two years. Congressional Republicans also are being viewed more favorably, with 38 percent approving of their job performance, a 13-point improvement since the middle of last year.

Head to head, though, Americans put far more faith in Obama than in congressional Republicans: Sixty-one percent said they trust Obama more than the GOP on economic matters; 26 percent side with the Republicans in Congress. On that question, Obama's advantage is bigger than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush ever had over the opposition party in the legislature.

Overall, Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront "the big issues" over the next few years.

Sorry, wingers.

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posted by JReid @ 9:01 AM  
TDP: Bibi 'every bit as radical as Hamas'
The Daily Beast posts a scary piece by Reza Aslan. It concludes:

The true threat to peace in the region, and, consequently, to Israel’s future, comes from the prime minister himself, who, as recently as last month, declared his intention to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank in direct violation of the “Road Map to Peace,” put in place by the U.S., the EU, Russia, and the UN. This is the man that Israelis have once again elected to lead their country. A man whose Likud Party platform explicitly rejects the creation of a Palestinian state (“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River”), refers to the Occupied Territories by their biblical names “Judea” and “Samaria,” and pledges to continue building settlements in the West Bank, in violation of international law, as “a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”

Let’s be clear: A political party has just been freely elected in the Middle East whose charter rejects the two-state solution, whose leader refuses to implement previous negotiations, and whose constituency, indeed whose very platform, denies the existence of a sovereign Palestinian entity. One can only assume that, given recent American precedence, this new party will not be allowed to govern. Indeed, we all await the economic blockade that will inevitably be put in place in Israel until the prime minister’s party changes its charter to match international norms.

And guess who Bibi is forming his new government with?
Much has been made about the position that Avigdor Lieberman, the ultra-nationalist leader of the suddenly mainstream Yisrael Beiteinu party, will play in the new Israeli government being formed by Netanyahu. Yet Lieberman is nothing but a professional provocateur—an odious, racist, populist politician who has publicly called for the drowning of Palestinian prisoners, the execution of Palestinian-Israeli parliament members, the bombing of all Palestinian-owned businesses, the obliteration of Gaza “just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II,” and the expulsion of Arab citizens from Israel whom Lieberman deems “disloyal.”
My first introduction to Netanyahu were his frequent appearances on "Nightline" when I was a kid in the 1980s. Even then, he struck me as an extremist, a racist, and an expansionist who wanted nothing less than the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their native lands. With him leading the Israeli government, good luck with the peace process, everybody.

Read the entire post here.

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posted by JReid @ 8:41 AM  
Monday, February 23, 2009
The next fight: the Dem spending bill
$410 billion and this:

Apart from spending, the legislation provides Democrats in Congress and Obama an opportunity to reverse Bush-era policy on selected issues.

It loosens restrictions on travel to Cuba, as well as the sale of food and medicine to the communist island-nation.

In another change, the legislation bans Mexican-licensed trucks from operating outside commercial zones along the border with the United States. The Teamsters Union, which supported Obama's election last year, hailed the move.

Here we go...


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posted by JReid @ 11:49 PM  
The new adventures of 'Ordinary George'


A great story of the post-presidential life of George W. Who? From the Independent:

How fast they fade. Poor George W Bush decided that an unannounced visit to a Dallas hardware shop at the weekend would be a fun way to emerge from a month of post-presidential purdah and make a splash with his new neighbours. But the greeter who met him inside, a pensioner named Henry Long, didn’t recognise him.

It could be that Mr Bush looks smaller in real life than he does on TV. That, at least, was the observation yesterday of Andrea Bond, the marketing director for Elliott’s Hardware, who was there the moment the 43rd President of the United States pushed open the door on Saturday and asked Mr Long where he might find a torch and batteries. It probably didn’t help that Mr Bush was dressed not in a suit but, says Ms Bond, “sweatpants and a windbreaker”.

No one will fault Mr Bush for having kept a low profile – mostly at his Crawford ranch with his wife, Laura; it is just polite since someone else is in charge. But sweatpant obscurity is not something he can afford to contemplate. There are memoirs to sell – no luck so far – and lectures to give and he already has the serious handicap of having left office with some of the lowest approval ratings of any president in modern history.

Maybe he could get a job at Citibank? It would be kind of like being back in government...



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posted by JReid @ 11:40 PM  
Binyam goes home
The return of a Binyam Mohamed, a four-year Gitmo detainee, to Great Britain raises new questions about the Bush-era "war on terror," and the complicity of the U.K. in what are by all accounts illegal detentions in an American gulag. From the Guardian:

Senior MPs said they intended to pursue ministers and officials over what they knew of his ill-treatment and why Britain helped the CIA interrogate him.

In a statement released shortly after he arrived in a US Gulfstream jet at RAF Northolt in west London, Mohamed said: "For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence."

Once inside the terminal building he met his sister for the fist time in more than seven years and in the most emotionally charged moment of the day they both cried and hugged.

Mohamed, a British resident, was released after several hours of questioning by police and immigration officials and was last night being looked after by his legal team.

Clive Stafford Smith, his lawyer, spoke of a "fantastic day" after the long campaign to free his client, who spent weeks on hunger strike being force-fed at Guantánamo and looked "incredibly skinny and very emaciated". Binyam was "extraordinarily grateful to be back in Britain", said Stafford Smith, who said he had "zero doubt" Britain was complicit in his client's ill-treatment.

"Britain knew he was being abused and left him," he said, referring to his secret abduction to Morocco where Mohamed says he was tortured. The lawyer also said his client was subjected to "very serious abuse" in Guantánamo.

Stafford Smith said that while his family was not vindictive they wanted the truth to be known. Mohamed hoped to be allowed to remain in the UK. "What we in Britain need to do is to make up for some of the things in the past and if the British government was, as I contend, deeply involved in the torture that Binyam had to go through, the least we can do is offer him his homeland," Stafford Smith said.

Meanwhile:

The Guardian Editorial team tackles the potential damage to U.S.-U.K. relations.

The Beeb reports on U.S. Defense Department plans to "ease conditions" at Gitmo.

And the Independent delves deeper into Binyam's claims that he was the victim of "Medieval torture" at Guantanamo.

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posted by JReid @ 11:26 PM  
Santelli's scared... or: some revolutionary HE turned out to be
Um ... who could possibly be afraid of Robert Gibbs? Answer: Rick Santelli, the Bourgeois Baron himself, and would-be leader of the Chicago Tea Party. Now, our friendly neighborhood "real American" Wall Street capitalist says he's terrified ... terrified, I say! ... of the guv'ment:



Seriously, Rick? Seriously???

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posted by JReid @ 11:16 PM  
CBS buries the lead
A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds broad support for President Obama's mortgage rescue plan, though you wouldn't know it from CBS News' headline:

Poll: Public Wary Of More Bailouts

Really? Sounds grim (and this from the new home of an extremist like this.) But let's read on...
As President Obama pushes a $75 billion mortgage relief plan, sixty-one percent of those surveyed say the government should help homeowners, while just 20 percent oppose such help.
Hm... that doesn't match the headline...
But while 35 percent say Mr. Obama’s plan makes them feel relieved for people facing foreclosure, just as many are resent the beneficiaries of the program for needing to be rescued following what respondents see as irresponsible behavior.
Let's examine that, shall we? In the actual poll, rather than the story, 61 percent indeed say homeowners should be helped. But that includes 47 percent of Republicans (with just 31 percent opposed) and 59 percent of Independents, with just 24 percent opposed. Democrats approve of helping struggling homeowners by a wider 73-9 percent. As for resentment, the poll reads this way:
OBAMA’S PLAN TO AID HOMEOWNERS MAKES YOU FEEL…
Relieved for people facing foreclosure 35%
Resentful of irresponsible homeowners 35
Don’t know enough about plan yet 26
Not sure that means Americans are "increasingly resentful." It means that about one-third each feel relieved or resentful. Not exactly "public wary of more bailouts." What the poll does find is that a majority of Americans don't want to hand more money to banks: just 39 percent approve of that idea, versus 50 percent who disagree. The reason? 57 percent don't believe that giving money to the banks, who aren't lending the money (and who may actually be hiding it...) will help the economy.

On the other hand, a majority of Americans do oppose bailouts to corporate entities and banks, in other words, to the people they perceive as the villains in the economic collapse. Per CBS:
Fifty-nine percent say President Obama’s proposal to help banks would only help bankers, not all Americans.

There is widespread support for the president and Congress’ efforts to cap executive pay: Eighty-three percent say the government should limit executive salaries if companies get federal money. Just 11 percent say it should not.

Americans are even less supportive of a further bailout for the U.S. auto industry. (Automakers have already received loans from the government but say they may need more money to avoid bankruptcy.) Just 22 percent say the government should give more money to automakers, while 68 percent oppose any further aid.
But guess who isn't seen as the villain? That would be Barack Obama:
One month into his term, President Obama’s overall approval rating remains favorable, with 63 percent of Americans approving of the job he is doing as president. The figure is similar to the approval rating he received earlier this month.

Seventy-six percent of Americans are confident in Mr. Obama’s ability to make the right decisions about the economy, including nearly a third who are very confident.

More than half of Americans also approve of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy (57 percent) and Iraq (54 percent).

And 77 percent are optimistic about the next four years with Mr. Obama as president, including 57 percent of Republicans.
Meanwhile, the public appears to be tiring of the Republican political stunt-making when it comes to reviving the economy, and they are increasingly seen as partisan and obstructionist:
While the percentage of Americans who believe the president is trying for bipartisanship has slipped seven points from earlier this month, 74 percent still think he is trying to be bipartisan.

By contrast, just 45 percent say Congressional Democrats are trying to be bipartisan and 31 percent say Congressional Republicans are trying to do so.

Most of those surveyed say Republican opposition to the stimulus bill - it passed with the support of no House Republicans and just three Senate Democrats - results from politics.

Sixty-three percent say GOP opposition was for political reasons, while 29 percent say it was because the stimulus bill would be bad for the economy.

Americans say Mr. Obama should focus more on his positions than reaching across the aisle. Fifty-six percent say he should prioritize sticking to his policies, while just 39 percent say he should put bipartisanship first. Seventy-nine percent, however, say Congressional Republicans should prioritize bipartisanship.
In other words: throw the Republicans overboard. Back to the stimulus bill: the exact numbers are as follows:
IMPACT OF STIMULUS BILL ON ECONOMY (will make things)
Better 53%
Worse 13
No impact 24
And Americans have realistic expectations:
STIMULUS BILL’S EFFECT ON LENGTH OF RECESSION
Will shorten significantly 19%
Will shorten, not significantly 17
Will not shorten 50
Most of those surveyed assumed Obama's plans would improve the economy in 2 to 4 years.

BTW, the GOP has caught onto the public mood, and even Bobby Jindal was bending over backward to sound "bipartisan" during the governors' news conference today. Too late, my friend.

Meanwhile: New York's delegation tells the recalcitrant govs: give your stim cash to us!

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posted by JReid @ 10:54 PM  
The Republican crazy train: Shelby, Jindal and Sandford
The Republican Party has truly lost it, and it's not just the radio guys.

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby is still trying to sell the "Obama is not an American" meme. It's so bad, even WorldNetDaily is refuting him.

Meanwhile Bobby Jindal was on MTP this weekend, and still trying to convince thinking people that his state doesn't want to take the stim money. By the way, Jindal's argument is that he has to look out for the business owners and "taxpayers" of Louisiana, which is why he doesn't want unemployment insurance help from Uncle Sam. In other words: screw the broke. Jindal represents the "winners."

SC's Mark Sanford is trying to boost his GOP star power by saying he doesn't want the money either, (unless of course he DOES want the money...) to which I say, "make my day." (Paul Begala agrees. Any Republican governor or Senator who doesn't want the money should just leave it on the table (and good luck getting re-elected.) Arnold Schwarzenegger, who the Daily Beast reports nearly left the GOP over his insistence on pragmatism, said on "This Week" that the Obama administration can "give the money to Cali." And Charlie Crist, who did a great job on MTP and looked incredibly reasonable, hammered home the fact that he's in office as a public servant, not a party servant, and he answers to the people of Florida, not the GOP. If the Republican Party had any brains left (which it apparently doesn't,) it would be more Arnold and Charlie, and less Bobby, Mark, and crazy Shelby.

I won't hold my breath.

[Sunday shows guv recap here.) BTW, Sanford has offered a stimulus plan of his own: he will pray for the unemployed.


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posted by JReid @ 7:03 PM  
Obama's Israel problem
He's got Bibi Netanyahu to deal with, and that's just in Israel. Here at home, one of the big three networks just made a fascinating hire. Per TPMCafe, "the new CBS Vice-President, [is] a right-wing extremist, a supporter of the craziest settlers on the West Bank and all out opponent of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations." The details:

A few weeks back CBS's "60 Minutes" ran a groundbreaking piece by Robert Simon showing that settlements had destroyed the two-state solution. One thing the piece left out is that American extremists have played a crucial role in that destruction by supporting the settlements and quietly undermining the "peace process" (such as it is).

Well, last week CBS named one of those extremists, Jeff Ballabon, to a top job: its new senior vice president for communications. Ira Forman of the Democratic Party's Jewish caucus says that it's "astonishing" that CBS would name such a man to such a big job when Barack Obama is in the White House. Forman and I agree.

Why do I call Ballabon an extremist? He's well to the right of even George Bush; he's in the Sheldon Adelson/Doug Feith camp. Here Ballabon helped sponsor a fundraiser for the extremist Hebron settlers who have colonized and antagonized the second-largest Palestinian city. Here he says, forget about the two-state solution and return to a regional idea (hint: send the Palestinians to Jordan). Here he is advising a campaign that staunchly opposed Annapolis and any effort to divide Jerusalem or give up territory, and urging fellow Israel lobbyists to deluge the White House with phone calls to stop the Annapolis process:

And guess who he thinks is "dangerous"? On the up-side, Ballabon has apparently backed off the idea that all Democrats are evil (though apparently one really important one is "dangerous...")


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posted by JReid @ 6:01 PM  
Sign of the times: Rapper arrested at Fatburger
Rapper N.O.R.E. gets pinched in Florida:

The 31-year-old performer was formerly known as Noreaga. His real name is Victor Santiago and he is known for songs ''Nothin''' and ''SuperThug.''

Santiago, of New York, was arrested early Sunday after police said he caused a disruption at a Fatburger by yelling at another customer, ripping up a bouquet of flowers and throwing a drink at a customer.

Authorities said the rapper punched a man in the face, and yelled ''Do you know who I am?''
I'm guessing the guy said "no."
Santiago was charged with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct. He was taken to the Miami-Dade county jail and released.
Sure hate it.

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posted by JReid @ 4:26 PM  
The Oscars in 30 seconds
Slumdog rules the night with 8 statuettes, and that adorable little boy and girl from the film, flown in from Mumbai got to get on stage at the end.

Musical noms were great and put on a great show. A far cry from "it's hard out here for a pimp," and redeeming for the Academy.

The dresses were heavy on old Hollywood glamour. Very few I didn't like. Um, except this one...

Brangelina shut out (but they were careful to smile when the camera inevitably cut to them during Jen Anniston's stage bit) ... Jen and John had 2nd row seats ...

Lots of ethnic flavor (thanks to Slumdog, and Japanese short film winner who really said "domo arigato Mr. Roboto during his thank you speech.)

Ben Stiller did a funny send-up to Joaquin Phoenix's weirdness.

Queen Latifah's dress looked like gift wrap, but she sang beautifully (and depressingly) to the dead. Red wine necessary to get through number.

Hugh Jackman is a good song and dance man. So sick of Beyonce though...

All the expected people won the big awards (Nate Silver on point again except for Penelope Cruz) and the Best Actress nominees received touching intros, except for the makework one from Nicole Kidman to Ange... awkward... Sophia Loren looked great!

Sean Penn got political and called out Prop 8 people (surprise!)

Show ran til midnight, which was way too long.


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posted by JReid @ 8:55 AM  
Friday, February 20, 2009
Ideology first: Jindal fires the first shot for 2012
Per ThinkP - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just says no to $100 million in stimulus money for unemployed residents of his state. Now THERE's a great way to improve his changes of getting the 2012 GOP presidential nomination by ... ensuring he is not re-elected governor of Louisiana???

And other Republican governors are preparing to follow suit, even as the White House goes around their colleages in Congress, dealing directly with more amenable governors and mayors. But can someone explain how punishing the people of one's state improves a politician's political fortunes? The GOP has caught itself in a hell of a trap: they can either be hypocrites and beg for the money they voted against, or be ideologues and hurt their own constituents.

Nice.

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posted by JReid @ 11:00 PM  
Randi Rhodes set adrift...
This time, don't look at Ken. From Talkers:
Randi Rhodes Is On Her Own and Nova M Files for Bankruptcy. It comes to light now that the sticking point between Randi Rhodes and Nova M was her belief that her contract included helping her with legal costs which it did not. She is now rumored to be seeking a local radio gig and many believe she’s trying to get back to her old station – WJNO, West Palm Beach. As for Nova M, it was losing a lot of moolah — $100,000 per month. The founders and corporate officers — Sheldon and Anita Drobny — are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation for the company. Some of Nova M’s other talent — Mike Malloy, Nancy Skinner — continue in syndication as another person involved with Nova M from the beginning, Dr. Mike Newcomb, is reorganizing the network as On Second Thought Radio Network.

The radio business is in a tailspin right now, and Randi has had a lot of legal bills stemming from the lawsuit filed against her by Iraq contractor CACI. It's a big loss for the South Florida talk radio market, which frankly, wasn't that good to begin with. That say, let's all say a prayer for Thom Hartmann (number 10 on the Talkers "Heavy 100" and the number one non-winger show.) If he goes, I'm going to go back to listening to jazz CDs in the car.

Cross-posted at Reidblog.

UPDATE: Per astute reader Kurt, the rumor mill has it that 940 will flip to sports in March:
Though the station isn't confirming it, WINZ-940 will become a Fox Sports radio affiliate in March -- a move that will allow owner Clear Channel to reduce costs. WINZ now airs news, talk shows and live sports, including Heat games. The new lineup will include Fox shows such as Steve Czaban (6-9 a.m.) and Chris Myers (3-7 p.m.), Dan Patrick's syndicated program from 9 a.m. to noon and Jim Rome from noon to 3 p.m.

The good news: Dan Patrick and Jim Rome. The bad news? No more progressive talk in South Florida. And I also hear that more layoffs are likely coming at Clear Channel.

It's a jungle out there, folks!

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posted by JReid @ 3:45 PM  
Worth watching: Barack and Curtis
Filmmaker Byron Hurt has made a compelling short documentary on the subject of black masculinity, as represented by President Barack Obama, and rapper 50 Cent. Watch:



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posted by JReid @ 3:35 PM  
Sean Hannity's fraudster
Remember back in the day, during the campaign, when Sean Hannity would try like hell to tie Barack Obama to every potentially shady character in Chicago, including Tony Rezko, not to mention to "terrorist" Bill Ayers? Um ... Sean? We have a problem...

Mention 'Sean Hannity' to Stanford Coins & Bullion and get a free guidebook.

Yup, that's Stanford as in Stanford Financial Group, or Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire who is apparently on the lam after being charged Tuesday in connection with a multi-billion-dollar fraud.


I wonder if Hannity still thinks Stanford is as "good as gold...?"

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posted by JReid @ 3:21 PM  
Robert Gibbs fires back at the Bourgeois Baron (Rick Santelli)
Rick Santelli thinks the guys on Wall Street and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are the "real America" (as opposed to the "losers" who are out here getting themselves unemployed, getting sick, losing their healthcare and losing their homes ... losers...) Well, just watched Robert Gibbs' presser and apparently, the Obama White House begs to differ...
I’ve watched Mr. Santelli on cable the past 24 hours or so. I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgages, stay in their jobs, pay their bills, send their kids to school,” Gibbs said. “I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader that it was good for Main Street. I think the verdict is in on that,” the press secretary said, poking directly at the cable journalist, who reports from the trading floor at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Gibbs insisted Santelli was misinformed when he said Obama’s program would amount to a transfer of money from prudent taxpayers to those who had taken reckless risks.

“Mr. Santelli has argued, I think quite wrongly, that this plan won’t help everyone,” Gibbs said. “This plan helps people who have been playing by the rules….I would encouraged him to read the president’s plan….I’d be more than happy to have him come here to read it. I’d be happy to buy him a cup of coffee—decaf."
I wonder if Santelli has talked to Michelle Bachman. If not, he should. His band of brothers will soon be running low, since apparently we're running out of rich people. He may have to throw those derivatives into the Chicago River himself...

Meanwhile, Balloon Juice offers a sound rebuttal to Mr. Storm the Bastille (on behalf of Marie Antoinette...)

The most amusing thing to me about this Rick Santelli faux populist broker revolt is not his invocation of the Nixonian silent majority, but the utter lack of perspective it displays. Yes, there is a simmering discontent and anger out there, and clearly the Republicans are going to try to tap into it, but the problem for Santelli and his crowd is that the anger is not directed at the people who are losing their homes, but at the people Santelli spends every day rubbing shoulders with at the trendy Chicago restaurants the brokers go to these days.

The audacity of Santelli’s “revolt” is that a mere 75 billion is being spent to help struggling families repackage loans- a pittance in the terms of the gargantuan amount of money being thrown at the banks, the Wall Street wizards, and the rest of the rocket scientists who are the root of this problem.

Hello Santelli? The guys on that trading floor already got their bailout. And where were you when that happened?



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posted by JReid @ 3:06 PM  
The Rihanna pics
TMZ unleashes the pictures that could end Chris Brown's career, at least for the forseeable future. E! News reports the LAPD has launched an internal investigation and somebody could be in big trouble over the photo, if it turns out to be the real deal. And there's this:

A law-enforcement source close to the Brown investigation tells E! News that the leaked photo was one taken by a detective when officers first arrived at the Hancock Park scene of the alleged attack.

"There was another set taken at the hospital where the swelling is even worse," the source said.

Per the source, the fight began when Rihanna intercepted an incoming text message to Brown's cell phone from another woman. She later told police that this wasn't the first time Brown had been physically abusive.

But this time, the source said, "she may have thrown the first punch."

The insider also tells us that, within 48 hours of Brown's arrest, "a tabloid" offered "over a hundred grand" for a police photo of Rihanna.

"Internal Affairs is up in their butts over the leaks," the source said, adding that, even earlier today, LAPD staffers were being warned about leaking info. "They're threatening to administer polygraphs."

Brown has apologized (without getting specific about what transpired,) but that hasn't stopped the endless media whupping, although per E!, the media may be the least of his troubles:

At the request of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, the R&B star is being investigated for a variety of felonies, including domestic violence, assault resulting in great bodily injury and—based on specific allegations made by Rihanna—even attempted murder, a source close to the L.A. Police Department's investigation tells E! News.

But as they build their case, the source says, prosecutors fear that making any serious felony charges stick could prove difficult in a case where there are no direct witnesses other than Rihanna and Brown.

Yikes...

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posted by JReid @ 8:03 AM  
Sunshine hypocrisy
Charlie Crist expects Florida to benefit from his support of the stim. And that's all well and good. He did lend critical Republican support to President Obama when he needed it, and Florida does need the cash. But what's with the nine House GOPers who voted against the bill, and who are now clamoring for stim cash for their districts??? Hm??? From Politico's Glenn Thrush:
We're getting into broken record territory here on Republicans clamoring for stimulus money.
Indeed. The nine co-signed a letter with nine Democrats (all of whom voted "yes" on the stim" asking for a waiver so that Florida can receive the dough. The letter read:
“This critical funding is vital to protecting our schools from budget cuts and teacher layoffs. Because Florida has been hit especially hard by a rise in foreclosures, unemployment, and recent natural disasters, we are experiencing a crippling budget crisis. Now more than ever, we must invest in our state’s future,” said the letter.

The Republican co-signers: Adam Putnam, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Tom Rooney, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ginny Brown-Waite, Cliff Stearns, John Mica and Bill Posey.

The Dems: Suzanne Kosmas, Ron Klein, Alcee Hastings, Robert Wexler, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kathy Castor, Kendrick Meek, Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown.

It should be noted that the Diaz-Balarts, Hastings, Meek and Wasserman Schultz are longtime allies, and even had a non-aggression pact that kept the Dems from campaigning against the Repubs during the last campaign. But this is just unseemly.

Why the need for the waiver? Um... it's the cuts to education spending, stupid... In other words, Florida's notorious, constant education cuts, dating back to the Jeb Bush era, are now biting us in the butt. Florida may get a break, because part of the problem is a significant drop in enrollment in the state's schools. But we shall see.



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posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Post apologizes, in its own nasty little way, for 'that cartoon'
Vanity Fair's Michael Wolffe appears on "Countdown" for one of the more prescient interviews in recent memory. He opines that the increasingly liberal, pro-Obama News Corp head, Rupert Murdoch is not amused by the Chimp/stimulus cartoon, and that Col Allen, the Post's editor, will soon go quietly away, back to Australia. Watch:



And though Wolffe did say that News Corp doesn't respond to outside pressure, not long after, Keith announced that the Post has succumbed to outside (or is that Murdochian, inside) pressure, and issued the following non-apology apology, entitled simply: "That cartoon" ...
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

In other words: "we still hate you, Keith."

Well, it's a start.

And yes, a brand new Delonas cartoon did run today. It's decidedly, much more mild. Even still, Mr. Delonas has probably never, ever, gotten so much attention.

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posted by JReid @ 11:02 PM  
Michael Steele: idiocy unleased
Separated at birth: RNC Buffoon in Chief Michael Steele (left)

Fresh off his victories in defining the stimulus bill as "bling bling" and his declaration that "a job is not work," RNC chair Michael Steele has taken yet another step to cement his place as the most embarrassing figure in public life. His latest gambit? The GOP will get an "off the hook" muthaf--in hip-hop makeover. Okay, I added the "muthaf--n" part.
[H]e told The Washington Times:

"There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort" zones, he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. "We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section ... We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings."
You know, to get the kids involved... Read the original Steele interview with the Washington Times here. Be warned: there are midgets involved...

Related: The Steele pages


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posted by JReid @ 4:26 PM  
Rick Santelli leads the bourgeois revolution
CNBC's Rick Santelli -- the wingers' new star -- decries mortgage help for 'losers' and leads a mini revolt on the floor of the Chicago mercantile exchange:



Throw open the debtors prisons, why don't ya! And orphanages! What's wrong with orphanages??? You know, I'd be interested to get Rick's views on bailing out the "losers" at the Wall Street banks, since they're the ones who tanked the economy last time I checked.

UPDATE: Santelli last April on the prospect of bailing out Bear Stearns:
If this is how the U.S. government is going to operate in a democratic, free-market society, we might as well put a hammer and sickle on the flag.


Well, at least he's consistent.

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posted by JReid @ 4:15 PM  
Post employees distance themselves from the monkey cartoon
From the Huffpo:
On Wednesday, an employee of the paper told the Huffington Post that the phone lines had been inundated with complaints over what was interpreted as a racially charged jab at Obama. "As they f--king should be," said the source.

Today, meanwhile, the Post's Associate Editor, Sandra Guzman, sent out an email to other reporters distancing herself from the paper's cartoon and acknowledging that she has talked to management about her disapproval.

"Thank you for your feedback," reads the email. "Please know that I had nothing to do with the Sean Delonas cartoon. I neither commissioned or approved it. I saw it in the paper yesterday with the rest of the world. And, I have raised my objections to management. --Sandra Guzman."

Meanwhile, Robert Gibbs doesn't spend much time reading the New York Post??? Well what the hell is he doing all day, then?

Al Sharpton led a protest today (of course he did!) and is calling for a boycott of the Murdochian paper.

And the cartoonist, Sean Delonas' website is temporarily down. I suppose it does take time, pulling down all of one's previously offensive cartoons, doesn't it...

Oh, and before the wingers fall too hard for Sean, you might want to check out this one.

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posted by JReid @ 3:43 PM  
The little red hens of the GOP
Remember the story of the little red hen? The one who refused to participate in gathering the wheat, threshing it, making the flour, mixing the mash or baking it up, but was right ready to partake in eating the bread? Apparently, the little red hen was a Republican.

First, the House GOPers and all but three Republican Senators voted "no" on the economic recovery bill. Then, of course, we all found out that some of those same wingers are sending out press releases touting the goodies in the bill for their home districts. Hm. Nothing new. Well now, some governors, having caught on to the irony, are trying to de-hen themselves by turning down stimulus money. The better to be ideologically consistent (truthfully, I'd like to see Arizona and other states whose delegations opposed the bill get nothing, and then let's see what happens in 2010...) But here's the catch: many of the Republican governors (of some of America's poorest states, by the way,) are considering saying no to the money, knowing their states will get it anyway.
U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 House Democrat, said the governors _ some of whom are said to be eyeing White House bids in 2012 _ are putting their own interests first.

"No community or constituent should be denied recovery assistance due to their governor's political ideology or political aspirations," Clyburn said Wednesday.

In fact, governors who reject some of the stimulus aid may find themselves overridden by their own legislatures because of language Clyburn included in the bill that allows lawmakers to accept the federal money even if their governors object.

He inserted the provision based on the early and vocal opposition to the stimulus plan by South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford. But it also means governors like Sanford and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal _ a GOP up-and-comer often mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate _ can burnish their conservative credentials, knowing all the while that their legislatures can accept the money anyway.

Ah, hypocrisy.

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posted by JReid @ 3:31 PM  
Nice monkey ... niiiice...
So the victim the Travis the Chimp Xanax attack now has no nose, no eyes, and now jaw...

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posted by JReid @ 3:23 PM  
Crazy lady alert: chimp mama says Travis loved the lobster
Um ... chimps aren't supposed to eat lobster, fillet mignon and Xanax, right...? Travis' "mom" begs to differ...



And while we're talking crazy, you simply have to watch through to the end of this report. The stand-up at the end will be well worth the wait. Trust me.



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posted by JReid @ 1:20 PM  
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Do you find this offensive?
Rupert Murdoch's New York Post today ran this cartoon marrying the Travis the Chimp saga with the debate over President Obama's economic recovery plan. Take a look:


Mm-hm. In case you're having trouble reading it, the cop behind the one who just shot the Travis stand-in is saying, "they'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." One presumes that the Post, whose editorial stance is reflively, Fox-ily, anti-Obama (and who clearly don't have enough black people on staff in the editorial department, since surely if they did, one of them would have warned them...) wouldn't have been able to figure out in advance that anyone might take offense...

Okay. Well whether or not you are offended probably depends on who you think wrote the stim in the first place (Democrats in Congress or Obama,) since the cartoon seems to be sending the message that it was so bad it seems to have been written by a crazy monkey hopped up on Xanax.

So if you think Congressional Democrats are that crazy monkey, your outrage level is probably at about level 5 (if you're a Dem, zero if you're a Republican.) If you think Obama was responsible for the bill (and you're not one of those inevitable nuts on the Internet who compare every monkey on Youtube to a black person ... scroll down to the comments, you'll see what I mean...) then let's just put you down for 10. ... or maybe 12.

The National Association of Black Journalists? They're a 12:

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 18, 2009 - While the New York Post has long held a reputation for eye-catching headlines and startling exposes, it has now resorted to the lowest common denominator of taste and class.

How could The Post let this cartoon pass as satire? To compare the nation’s first African American Commander in Chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel.

The publisher and editors of The New York Post owe its readers an explanation.

I question the judgment of the editorial editors to move this to print as well as the diversity of its staff that would let them think this passes as comedy.

While I believe editorials questioning yesterday’s signing of the record economic stimulus should exist, there is a line that should never be crossed. Top among them is the assassination of a U.S. President.

Barbara Ciara, president

Rev. Al? (apparently out of hiding after being sidelined by Bar during the campaign) 12:

The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that "Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill."

Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?

Although the Guardian's Daniel Nawaw notes:
We at the Guardian America office in Washington don't get the humor, and I find the cartoon rather inane. It is worth noting that congressional Democrats wrote the bill, not Obama or anyone in the White House. If the conservative New York Post is calling Harry Reid, Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi a bunch of monkeys, is that worth Sharpton getting worked up about?
The AP headline will work even more people up:

NY Post cartoon seems to link Obama to dead chimp

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York Post cartoon that some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police drew outrage Wednesday from civil rights leaders and elected officials who said it echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

And now... the wingers:

Is the monkey Obama? That may be what Sean Delonas intended but the beauty of good editorial cartoons is you do not get a road-map. The Post subsequently attempted to clarify by stating that the primate merely represents the Washington Democrats collectively who produced the flawed Obama bill.

The next question is should the left by so vehemently outragedby the identification of our president as a chimpanzee. One suspects there are short memories at work here and tiresome partisan shouting. A frequent pastime of our liberal friends was to call Bush “chimp.” What is the difference? None. the New York Post cartoon racist?

I dunno, you tell me ... Smirking Chimp? What say you? Of course, they're not the only ones to have made a sport of comparing Dubya to a chimp, (and Powerline and other rightie bloggers are making a lot of hay out of the cartoon archives...) but see, here's the thing: there's no more widespread smear against African people than the monkey reference. Anyone who draws cartoons for a living ought to have a bit more historical perspective and cultural acumen, don't ya think? Media Matters meanwhile, responds to Powerline:


Here's the thing, the Post cartoon in question depicted the chimp shot through the chest and dying on the sidewalk. When Power Line finds a cartoon published in a major metro American newspaper that associated Bush with a chimp dead on the sidewalk and his body riddled with bullets, than Power Line might have a point. Right now, it's just defending the indefensible.


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posted by JReid @ 5:34 PM  
The jig is up
It was a clever play by Blago on his way out the door, and Roland Burris won his showdown with Harry Reid, but now? Well, now, it's not looking good for ole Roland.

The Chicago Tribune is calling for his resignation, on the following basis:
Let's see if we have it right: Burris had zero contact with any of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's cronies about his interest in the Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama—unless you count that conversation with former chief of staff Lon Monk, and, on further reflection, the ones with insiders John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma and, oh yeah, the governor's brother and fundraising chief, Robert Blagojevich. But Burris didn't raise a single dollar for the now ex-governor as a result of those contacts because that could be construed as a quid pro quo and besides, everyone he asked refused to donate.

The story gets worse with every telling.

Enough. Roland Burris must resign.
Burris tried to fight back today, but I don't think he did himself much good.

“If I had done the things I’ve been accused of, I’d be too embarrassed to stand up here,” Burris said.

"Stop the rush to judgment. You know the real Roland. I have done nothing wrong and I have absolutely nothing to hide," he told the City Club of Chicago, a gathering of civic leaders, politicians and businesspeople.

Burris said he would cooperate "in any way I can" with a perjury review by the Sangamon County state's attorney into his sworn testimony as well as the preliminary investigation opened by the Senate Ethics Committee.

"I welcome the scrutiny," Burris said.

But he also made a point of saying he won't cooperate with the media, saying their scrutiny has not been fair. And then he invoked the classic political response in announcing he would no longer take reporters' questions.

Yeah. There's a good strategy. Screw the media.

Bye, Roland.

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posted by JReid @ 12:50 PM  
Home plan incoming
The Obama homeowner plan will be unveiled today. Per the leaks, it's likely to contain substantial help for homeowners in trouble, which is great news for the economy (and the banks that got them there...) Says the WaPo:

President Obama will unveil today a $75 billion foreclosure prevention program, which the administration expects to reach up to 9 million homeowners.

"The plan I'm announcing focuses on rescuing families who have played by the rules and acted responsibly: by refinancing loans for millions of families in traditional mortgages who are underwater or close to it," Obama will say at a speech in Mesa, Ariz., according to an advance text released by the White House.

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan includes measures to allow homeowners to refinance into loans with cheaper payments, according to a summary of the plan. For example, if a lender agrees to lower a borrower's payment so that it comprises no more than 38 percent of his income, the government would pay to lower the payments further to 31 percent of income. The aim would be to make the payments affordable.

The plan offers incentives for lenders that modify troubled loans, with up to $1,000 for each modification and then another monthly "pay for success" fee as long as the borrower stays current, according to the summary. If the lender reaches an at-risk homeowner before they miss a payment and modifies their loan, the lender would be eligible for another incentive payment.

Homeowners will also be eligible for incentive payments. Those that stay current on their loans could qualify for a "monthly balance reduction payment that goes straight towards reducing the principal balance of the mortgage loan," according to the summary. The homeowner could receive up to $1,000 a year for five years.

The Obama plan does not include provisions to help investors and is focused solely on owner-occupied homes. Officials said the administration is trying to provide enough help to stem foreclosures while not rewarding borrowers who purposefully stop paying. At the same time, Obama's team wanted to risk only as much taxpayer money as absolutely necessary.

The plan "will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans," Obama will say, according to the text of his speech.

The administration estimates that the plan could stop the slide in home prices by up to $6,000 per home, simply by reducing foreclosures. "The effects of this crisis have also reverberated across the financial markets. When the housing market collapsed, so did the availability of credit on which our economy depends," Obama says in the prepared text. "As that credit has dried up, it has been harder for families to find affordable loans to purchase a car or pay tuition and harder for businesses to secure the capital they need to expand and create jobs."

And from WhiteHouse.gov, some of the fine print in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions thread:

Borrowers Who Are Current on Their Mortgage Are Asking:

  • What help is available for borrowers who stay current on their mortgage payments but have seen their homes decrease in value?

Under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, eligible borrowers who stay current on their mortgages but have been unable to refinance to lower their interest rates because their homes have decreased in value, may now have the opportunity to refinance into a 30 or 15 year, fixed rate loan. Through the program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow the refinancing of mortgage loans that they hold in their portfolios or that they placed in mortgage backed securities.

  • I owe more than my property is worth, do I still qualify to refinance under the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan?

Eligible loans will now include those where the new first mortgage (including any refinancing costs) will not exceed 105% of the current market value of the property. For example, if your property is worth $200,000 but you owe $210,000 or less you may qualify. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance.

  • How do I know if I am eligible?

Complete eligibility details will be announced on March 4th when the program starts. The criteria for eligibility will include having sufficient income to make the new payment and an acceptable mortgage payment history. The program is limited to loans held or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Question: what is the point of helping homeowners who have an acceptable mortgage payment history? Doesn't that mean they aren't behind on their loans? Just asking. More fine print, and a seeming contradiction:

Borrowers Who Are at Risk of Foreclosure Are Asking:

  • What help is available for borrowers who are at risk of foreclosure either because they are behind on their mortgage or are struggling to make the payments?

The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan offers help to borrowers who are already behind on their mortgage payments or who are struggling to keep their loans current. By providing mortgage lenders with financial incentives to modify existing first mortgages, the Treasury hopes to help as many as 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure regardless of who owns or services the mortgage.

  • Do I need to be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for a modification?

No. Borrowers who are struggling to stay current on their mortgage payments may be eligible if their income is not sufficient to continue to make their mortgage payments and they are at risk of imminent default. This may be due to several factors, such as a loss of income, a significant increase in expenses, or an interest rate that will reset to an unaffordable level.

Hm. I guess I'll just wait for the announce.

UPDATE: President Obama is presenting the plan now. It sounds much better somehow in his speech than it did in the WaPo. The plan is clear and straightforward: refinancing Fannie and Freddie backed mortgages to market value, reducing mortgage payments for those in trouble to one-third of their income, allowing homeowners who are "upside down" on their mortgages to refinance at lower interest rates, and he plans to move forward on allowing bankruptcy judges to reduce mortgage payments so that they reflect the fair market value of homes. Perhaps anticipating GOP objections to that provision, Obama pointed out that "that's already the rule for people who own 2, 3 and 4 houses, so it should also be the rule for people who own just one home."

Great point.


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posted by JReid @ 11:15 AM  
Morning starters: Robin Thicke
This isn't a new song, but it's one of Robin Thicke's best. A great way to start the morning (and he's as cute as can be, even though he really does look eerily like his father Alan...) Enjoy!



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posted by JReid @ 8:57 AM  
When Travis attacks: the 911 call
Connecticut authorities have released the 911 call in the Travis the chimp human attack. According to the NYDN:

The 15-minute recording captures the bizarre horror of Monday's attack, which left a 55-year-old woman critically injured and the 200-pound ape dead in a hail of police gunfire.

"Hurry, please! He ripped her face off," the ape's frantic owner, Sandy Herold, 70, is heard telling the dispatcher on the tapes released last night.

"Listen to me, you have to shoot him."

The terrifying screeches of Travis the chimpanzee are heard as he mercilessly pounces on Herold's pal, Charla Nash.

"He killed her!" Herold told the dispatcher. "He ripped her apart. He tried attacking me. How fast can you get here?"

The dispatcher sounds incredulous as Herold describes how she had to stab the burly ape and only aggravated him.

"He's eating her," Herold screamed. "Please have them go faster."

When cops arrived at Herold's Stamford home, she can be heard yelling for them to "Shoot him!"

Nash was so disfigured that a cop on the scene mistook her for a man, telling the dispatcher, "He's got no face."

Fighting back tears Tuesday, Herold mourned the death of her beloved chimp and expressed concern for her friend.

"He was all I had," Herold said outside her home.

Scary stuff! ... um ... question: WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU HAVE A CHIMP IN YOUR HOUSE THAT YOU FEED WINE AND XANAX TO???? (Ahem. ) My dog weighs about 3 pounds, is less than a foot tall, and HE would attack people if he got loose. Having a 200 pound chimpanzee in the crib just strikes me as, shall we say, short sighted.

Meanwhile, cue the Morgan Fairchild reaction:

"This is not at all the personality I worked with," Fairchild told the Daily News. "It was like having a very bright child on the set that wanted to be a part of everything. He was just an amiable little guy, friendly and just loved to be the center of attention."

Yep. We're going to hell in a handbasket. (Carrie Donovan, the fabulous former New York Times Magazine fashion editor who starred in the Old Navy commercials with Fairchild, passed away in 2001. Otherwise, she too would be devastated.)

Here's the audio of the 911 call. Is it just me, or does the dispatcher sound like he thinks its a joke?



Meanwhile, the truly stupid among us are calling in death threats to the chimp's owner because ... wait for it ... they're mad that Travis was killed. Seriously.

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posted by JReid @ 8:05 AM  
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Brandan Neely reader
The former Gitmo guard tells all about his time at the gulag, and clears his conscience on the Rachel Maddow show. Read his testimony here.

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posted by JReid @ 11:09 PM  
Finally! The Melinda Doolittle debut
The best vocal talent that "Idol" has produced (besides JHud) finally drops her album! A criticized Youtuber posts a cut ...

And now some things you didn't know (Jack Bauer alert!)



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posted by JReid @ 10:54 PM  
Assigning blame
TIME ranks the 25 most blameworthy people when it comes to the mortgage meltdown. (Hint: Phil Gramm, Alan Greenspan and the guy who founded Countrywide might not want to click here.)

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posted by JReid @ 10:36 PM  
Dubya to Dick: bug off!
More evidence that Dubya was dumb, but not that dumb...
In the waning days of the Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney launched a last-ditch campaign to persuade his boss to pardon Lewis (Scooter) Libby - and was furious when President George W. Bush wouldn't budge.

Sources close to Cheney told the Daily News the former vice president repeatedly pressed Bush to pardon Libby, arguing his ex-chief of staff and longtime alter ego deserved a full exoneration - even though Bush had already kept Libby out of jail by commuting his 30-month prison sentence.

"He tried to make it happen right up until the very end," one Cheney associate said.

In multiple conversations, both in person and over the telephone, Cheney tried to get Bush to change his mind. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the federal probe of who leaked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press.

Several sources confirmed Cheney refused to take no for an answer. "He went to the mat and came back and back and back at Bush," a Cheney defender said. "He was still trying the day before Obama was sworn in."

After repeatedly telling Cheney his mind was made up, Bush became so exasperated with Cheney's persistence he told aides he didn't want to discuss the matter any further.
And the NYDN's Tom DeFrank reports that the Bush-Cheney relationship became more "businesslike" than warm over time, after the WMD not turning up and the rosy Iraq scenarios not panning out and such. I suppose even George W. Bush could tell when his presidency was ruined, and who contributed most to ruining it.

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posted by JReid @ 10:17 PM  
The literal definition of 'going ape-sh*t'

Message: don't have a chimp in the house. No seriously, DON'T HAVE A CHIMP IN THE HOUSE!!!!

Aged 14, and weighing a formidable 200 pounds, Travis had been brought up to all intents and purposes a human. His owner, Sandra Herold, aged 70, who had raised him since he was an infant, trained him to water the flowers, drink wine, brush his teeth and watch baseball. "He loves baseball. He likes anything with action," Herold once told an interviewer.

He also appeared in adverts for Coca-Cola and retailer Old Navy.

Though he had no record of violence, he had escaped once before – an event that only adds to his fame locally as he jokingly held up the traffic for hours.

Yesterday, though, there was no joviality. Police reported that the animal had been behaving oddly at home, and Herold had tried to calm him with tea laced with a sedative. But he grabbed her keys and let himself out of the back door, then started banging on local cars as though signalling he wanted to go for a drive.

Worried, Herold called her friend Charla Nash for help. As soon as the neighbour arrived, Travis turned on her, maulling her and biting her face, causing serious injuries.

Okay, stop right there. The drug? It was Xanax. She gave the chimp Xanax. (sigh) and she taught him to surf the Internet. Too bad the "act like a human" lessons didn't include DON'T MAUL MOMMY'S FRIENDS!

And while it's totally not funny that a woman was mauled, you've got to admit the Travis the Xanaxed, Raging Chimp thing is a Comedy Central pilot waiting to happen. I mean it's hard not to write this funny. Example:

The Connecticut woman viciously attacked by a 200-pound chimp who inexplicably went bananas remains in critical condition this afternoon and faces "life-changing, if not life-threatening injuries" to her face and hands, officials said.

Okay, stipulating that that was the New York Post... In fact, staying with the Post, you simply can't beat the original version of the story:

Police aren't sure what triggered Travis' wild-in-the-jungle rampage, though Conklin said the ape had been acting odd in 70-year-old owner Sandra Herold's home, and neighbors claim he suffered from Lyme disease.

He said she gave him Xanax in tea to quiet him, but the chimp grabbed the keys to open the kitchen door, went outside and started banging on car doors to indicate he wanted to go for a ride.

"He's a very clever chimp," Conklin said.

To repeat: she gave him Xanax. (sigh). When will we humans learn?



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posted by JReid @ 10:03 PM  
Obama in Denver for stim signing
The president will sign the economic recovery bill in my former hometown, at one of the best places ever: the Denver Museum of Science. The Denver Post asked ordinary Coloradans what they want President Obama to know. The submissions are heartbreaking, and very real. The realest:

MAX GUEST, 18, DENVER

Unemployed. Formerly a baker.

"I'm curious to know how you are going to incorporate the unemployed into the stimulus. I'm broke as hell right now. I have $10 in my bank account. I've been out of work since October. No one is hiring. I just dropped off 30 applications today."

Make it plain, Max.


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posted by JReid @ 9:02 AM  
Hey, anybody want a suit of armor?
Don't feel bad, Donald, Jacko is in financial trouble too. So much so: he's hawking his Neverland stuff.

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posted by JReid @ 8:58 AM  
Trump Entertainment files for bankruptcy
Uh-oh...

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, according to court documents, wiped out by the recession and a mountain of debt.

The move was widely expected, coming days after the casino operator's namesake tycoon, Chairman and founder Donald Trump, walked away from the company.

I guess people are sick of gambling. Ivanka is stepping down, too.


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posted by JReid @ 8:44 AM  
Lift the ban
The Obama Pentagon mulls over the Bush-era rules on hiding our war dead.

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posted by JReid @ 8:40 AM  
Bybee and Yoo in the crosshairs
... of a Senate ethics investigation. Could prosecution be next? We did, after all, prosecute those who issued legal opinions leading to the abuses committed by the Axis powers during World War II. And whither Alberto Gonzales and Don Rumsfeld? Something tells me that no matter what the Obama administration wants, legal cases will find their way to Washington involving these men, if not their ultimate bosses (Dick and Dubya.)

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posted by JReid @ 8:38 AM  
In case you missed it: the president's day survey
Sorry Chris Matthews ... I mean the George Washington's Birthday survey. C-SPAN asked leading historians to rank the presidents (42 of them, since Grover Cleveland's two non-consecutive terms are counted as one...) Spoiler alert: Dubya was ranked number 36th overall: just barely better than Willian Henry Harrison, the guy who died a month into office, and actually two spots lower than Herbert freaking Hoover. Sure hate it...

Meanwhile, over at the top 10:
  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. FDR
  4. Teddy Roosevelt
  5. Harry Truman
  6. JFK
  7. Thomas Jefferson
  8. Dwight Eisenhower
  9. Woodrow Wilson
  10. Ronald Reagan
I mostly agree with the top ten, though personally, I wouldn't put Wilson or Reagan there, since the former failed with the League of Nations (and screened "Birth of a Nation" in the White House -- yes, he was that racist) and even practiced segregation within the federal workforce, supressed anti-war protesters and created the first federal "war on drugs" ... and the latter began the drive into the ditch that Dubya finished a generation later,) but that's just me. I suppose Wilson continues to rank high because he was a consequential president, whether it's the Federal Reserve, the progressive income tax, or World War I. So there you go.

Just outside the top ten, Bill Clinton scored 15th overall, moving up 6 places from 2000, and George H.W. Bush moved up two places to 18. Jimmy Carter also improved his position, moving up three points to 25. The biggest mover seems to be Ulysses S. Grant, who moves up a full 10 points to 23. I think he's being looked at more favorably these days because of his incredibly progressive views about racial equality in the post-civil war era.

Back to our most recent Loser in Chief...

Dubya was 36th in public persuasion, 25th in crisis leadership, 40th (second from the bottom, just ahead of Hoover) in economic management, 35th in moral authority (he beats Bill Clinton -- by two points), one up from the bottom -- 41st -- in international relations, 37th in administrative skills, and 36th in relations with Congress (any wonder, Andrew Johnson was at the bottom of that one.) On performance within the context of the times, he scores 36th. Personally, I think the historians were generous.

As for Barack Obama, he of course won't be ranked until 2004. But one thing is assured, and it will burn the righties to no end: he is already a consequential president, no matter what he does from here on in. And he will get that statue on the National Mall that Dubya fans can only dream of...

Some blog reaction?

Hot Air's not liking JFK and joins other righties in whining over Reagan's ranking.

Small Precautions agrees with me about Wilson.

Rightie Steven Reynolds is just glad Dubya wasn't at the very bottom, but he still wonders why historians "hate America..." and a good question it is (snicker...)

BTW, last night in honor of President's Day, we watched the Oliver Stone picture "W." Good film -- a little long, but I think it captured the essence of the man: gluttonous, jealous (of Jeb), self-centered and incurious, incapable of deep thought, and determined to best not only Jeb, but dear old dad. Oh, and manipulated completely by Dick Cheney and an even more gluttonous and thoughtless Don Rumsfeld. Lastly, Collin Powell comes across as weak and sputtering in the film, spouting objections to the Iraq war and then going along anyway, and Thandie Newton's Condi Rice immitation was an SNL parody at best. Other than that? Good film.

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posted by JReid @ 7:55 AM  
Monday, February 16, 2009
Poster child for the 'new' GOP: angry, old, bitter John McCain
John McCain: the world's most miserable politician

And some people thought he wasn't the party's ideal standard bearer... From the Huffpo:
Democrats are growing increasingly frustrated with the brash political attacks Sen. John McCain has launched against Barack Obama in the weeks since the new president took office. No one expected the Arizona Republican to be a legislative ally for this administration. But it was widely assumed that Obama's overtures to McCain in the weeks after the election would dull some of the hard feelings between the two. Now, they are realizing, it has not.

"He is bitter and really angry," Bob Shrum said of McCain in an interview on Friday. "He is angry at the press, which he thinks is unfair. He is angry at Obama and angry at the voters. He has gone from being an angry old candidate to being an angry old defeated candidate."

Indeed, McCain has been all over TV, seeming to go out of his way to dis President Obama - the man who defeated him for the White House (happy Presidents Day, everybody!) and the economic recovery bill that passed the Senate without him or his little sidekick Miss Lindsey "we're screwed" Graham.

McCain is not alone. Even fellow conservatives are starting to notice how bereft and old fashioned the GOP's "salt marsh mouse" strategy is. Not to mention the fact that it won't work, unless the country plummets even deeper into recession. What a thing to root for...

Meanwhile President Obama heads to McCain's backyard on Wednesday to talk up his housing initiative. McCain will, sadly, be "in another part of the state." Heehee...

And double meanwhile, maybe this is the real reason McCain is so grouchy these days ... well, let's just face it, EVERY ... day...
John McCain might be fan favorite during Phoenix Suns games, but Arizona’s senior senator sure didn’t receive a warm hometown welcome Sunday night in front a national crowd at US Airways Center.

McCain, who’s held his seat in Arizona for 22 years, was greeted with a smattering of boos and hisses when introduced with wife, Cindy, during a break between the first and second quarter of the NBA All-Star game Sunday night.

His presidential opponent Barack Obama was greeted more cordially after a short speech that aired during halftime on the stadium’s monitors and big screens.

Booooooo....

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posted by JReid @ 2:17 PM  
Friday, February 13, 2009
Tragedy near Buffalo: audio of flight 3407
50 people are confirmed dead in a fiery prop plane crash into a neighborhood near Buffalo, New York. The final interaction between Colgan Air flight 3407 and the tower at Buffalo Airport. Hat tip to The News Bizarre.



Meanwhile, it turns out that one of the 50 people killed in the crash (including one on the ground) was the widow of a 9/11 victim:
One of the passengers killed when a turboprop passenger plane crashed near Buffalo, New York, was the widow of a businessman who died in the September 11 attacks, relatives said today.

Beverly Eckert, 54, had been travelling to Buffalo for a weekend marking what would have been her late husband's 58th birthday, her sister told the Buffalo News. "We know she was on that plane," Sue Bourque told the newspaper. "And now she's with him."

Eckert's husband, Sean Rooney, was a Buffalo native and she was heading to the city from Newark airport in New Jersey to celebrate his birthday with family members, as well as to present a scholarship award at a local high school set up in Rooney's honour.

Rooney was working for Aon, a reinsurance and consulting firm, on the 105th floor of the World Trade Centre's south tower, the second of the two to be struck by a plane. He telephoned his wife to say he had made several attempts to escape using stairs but had been beaten back by heat and smoke. The couple talked about their life together before the call ended with the sounds of a loud explosion.

Eckert continued to live in their home in Stamford, Connecticut, and became joint chair of the Voices of September 11 group, which assists victims' families and collects testimony of the events of the day.
More on Eckert from the Buffalo News.

Continental Airlines, for which Colgan Air operated the flight, has put up links to additional information.

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posted by JReid @ 8:22 AM  
Video vault: Obama's Lincoln speech
Note the little shot he takes at Judd Gregg. Nice work, and a great speech that reminds Americans that there are some things individuals cannot do alone.



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posted by JReid @ 12:06 AM  
Don't tell Sarah Palin: scientists unlock Neanderthal secrets
A fascinating article in the UK Independent about our ancient cousins, the Neanderthals. Just have any Palinites nearby go into another room while you read it...

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posted by JReid @ 12:01 AM  
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Gregg on Gregg
Gregg tries to explain his sudden exit, not just from Commerce, but also from the Senate (he suddenly won't be running for re-election...)



It's "not his personality"??? That's the explanation? Come on, Judd. What's this really about? Some options:

Gregg withdrew because he discovered he could no longer use the position to blow up the Census... Actually this is a serious issue that came up almost immediately upon Gregg's nomination (or self-nomination, depending on whom you believe...) The issue is about Congressional apportionment after 2010:
In addition to not being a fan of the Commerce Department in the past, President Obama’s Commerce Secretary nominee, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, wasn’t a fan of spending a lot of money on the 2000 Census.

Especially given than Census undercounts tend to favor the GOP, The New York Times editorializes about whether or not Obama has thought through all the political ramifications of the Gregg nomination.

Good example. Texas is expected to gain as many as three House seats.

What if undercounts cost the D/FW Metroplex, or Houston, a seat, and a Democratic one at that?

Aha. In response to complaints from black and Hispanic leaders, the Obama Administration is pulling the 2010 Census out from Commerce control.


Oh, and option number two is that Karl Rove was about to out him as gay, or a tax cheat or something like that...

Previous:


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posted by JReid @ 11:34 PM  
Clever Charlie strikes again
Charlie Crist cultivates an old friend:
Crist names Fla. NAACP leader minority adviser
The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Charlie Crist has named Florida NAACP president Adora Obi Nweze as his special adviser on minority affairs.

Crist announced the creation of the position and appointment at a civil rights round-table discussion Thursday. It coincided with the 100th anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and President Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.

Crist said the appointment formalized a long-standing reliance on Nweze for advice on such issues as minority participation in state government and programs including equal access to education, health care and housing.
Yeah. He's running for Senate. Sorry, but Charlie didn't marry a lady just to stay around in Tallahassee, and moves like this scream "cross-over appeal..."

Previous:


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posted by JReid @ 11:28 PM  
I quit you
Barack can't buy a commerce secretary ... Judd Gregg jumps ship, and he does it in true GOP style:
Republican Sen. Judd Gregg abruptly withdrew his nomination as President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary Thursday, telling Politico that he “couldn’t be Judd Gregg" and serve in the Cabinet.

The harsh response from a White House caught off guard: Gregg was the one who asked for the job – and he repeatedly promised that, “despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the president’s agenda.”

White House aides described themselves as “blindsided” by what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs described as Gregg’s change of heart.”
Change of heart my ass. So what gives?

In an interview with Politico Thursday afternoon, Gregg said he “should have faced up” to the conflicts he felt earlier.

“I’ve been my own person, and I began to wonder if I could be an effective team player,” the New Hampshire Republican said. “The president deserves someone who can block for his policies. As a practical matter I can contribute to his agenda better—where we agree—as a senator and I hope to do that.”

“The fault lies with me,” Gregg continued. He refused to discuss any conversations he had with Obama, saying, “I may have embarrassed myself but hopefully not him.”

In a separate statement, Gregg cited his problems with the economic stimulus bill, as well as partisan disagreements over how to run the Census as reasons for pulling his nomination. He was quick to point out that there was nothing in the vetting process that made him yank his own nomination – steering clear of the controversies that killed the Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle and chief performance officer nominee Nancy Kileffer, who both withdrew after tax problems.

Ultimately, Gregg said he and Obama “are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.”
I'm guessing Gregg was getting slapped around by the wingerati, including this guy:
“Sen. Gregg made a principled decision to return and we’re glad to have him,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “He is among the smartest, most effective legislators to serve in the Senate—Democrat or Republican—and a key advisor to me and to the Republican Conference. It’s great to have him back.”

I'll bet...


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posted by JReid @ 5:27 PM  
Poll: Most Americans say, 'investigate the bastard'
Dubya flipped off the Constitution, too...

A new poll shows that Americans want at least for there to be an investigation of torture under the Bush regime.
Even as Americans struggle with two wars and an economy in tatters, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds majorities in favor of investigating some of the thorniest unfinished business from the Bush administration: Whether its tactics in the "war on terror" broke the law.

Close to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants. Almost four in 10 favor criminal investigations and about a quarter want investigations without criminal charges. One-third said they want nothing to be done.

The breakdown is as follows:

Regarding possible use of torture in terror interrogations:

Criminal investigation: 38%

Independent panel: 24%

Neither: 34%

Not sure: 2%

Meanwhile, when it comes to politicizing the Justice Department, even more of those polled want a probe:

Re possible attempts to use the Justice Department for political purposes:

Criminal investigation: 41%

Independent panel: 30%

Neither: 25%

And finally, regarding the "possible use of wiretaps without a warrant":

Criminal investigation: 438%

Independent panel: 25%

Neither: 34%

Read more of the Gallup poll here. Meanwhile, when it comes to torture prosecutions, civil libertarians like Jonathan Turley are not backing down:



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posted by JReid @ 1:38 PM  
Tank the oligarchs: don't call it a bailout!
The word for the day is "retention award":



Meanwhile, as KO might say, the bailout could soon be retitled "why daddy went to jail..."

And I think it's long past time to say: "thank you, Andrew Cuomo," from everybody except Merrill Lynch.

By the way, do you remember who pushed for BofA to complete the Merrill acquisition, effectively tainting its balance sheet with Lynch's toxic assets? You guessed it: the last-minute bank robbers of the Bush Treasury Department:
Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

Treasury, Bank of America reach bailout deal

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government has extended a new multibillion-dollar lifeline to one of the country's biggest banks as officials continue to struggle with a serious crisis in the financial system.

After a marathon negotiating session, the Bush administration reached an agreement early Friday to provide Bank of America with an additional $20 billion in support from the government's $700 billion financial rescue fund.

The administration, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. also agreed to participate in a program to provide guarantees against losses on approximately $118 billion in various types of loans and securites backed by residential and commercial real estate loans.

The bulk of these holdings were assumed by Bank of America when it acquired Merrill Lynch in a deal that closed earlier this year.

Bank of America had already been granted $25 billion from the bailout fund that Congress passed on Oct. 3, but found it needed more as it sought to cope with rising losses related to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch. ...

And what a wonderful deal it was.

Meanwhile: I'm with Capuano...



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posted by JReid @ 11:12 AM  
Politico flubs the stim story
Politico reports that our friends the "Do Nothing" Republicans will attempt to turn their economic recovery lemons into lemonade by airing anti-legislation ads in 30 Democratic districts. Fair enough. But then, the online mag commits the cardinal old media sin: writing the narrative, instead of the facts. And usually, the MSM narrative favors the Republican position, whatever it happens to be (remember the "is it spending or stimulus" debate?) Politico's Patrick O'Connor writes:
The party’s campaign arm will start airing radio ads Friday in approximately 30 Democratic districts to argue that the bill violates the lawmakers’ campaign pledge to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington.

Public opinion, though slipping, currently favors President Barack Obama and his package of spending and tax cuts to bolster the retreating economy. So Republicans are making a long-term gamble that opposition to the package will look prescient two years from now if the economy is still struggling.
Slipping? Really? No, not really. Actually, public opinion favoring the economic recovery package is growing. Per Gallup:
Obama Has Upper Hand in Stimulus Fight
Obama’s 67% approval rating on the stimulus is more than twice that of Republicans

PRINCETON, NJ -- The American public gives President Barack Obama a strong 67% approval rating for the way in which he is handling the government's efforts to pass an economic stimulus bill, while the Democrats and, in particular, the Republicans in Congress receive much lower approval ratings of 48% and 31%, respectively.
And more Gallup, which finds today that support for the plan is up among all party groups:
Public support for an $800 billion economic stimulus package has increased to 59% in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Tuesday night, up from 52% in Gallup polling a week ago, as well as in late January.

Most of the newfound support comes from rank-and-file Democrats, suggesting President Barack Obama's efforts to sell the plan over the past week -- including in his first televised news conference on Monday -- have shored up support within his own party. Last week, Gallup found 70% of Democrats in favor of Congress passing the economic stimulus package, but today that figure is 82%.

Over the same period, support for the stimulus package held steady among independents, with a slight majority in favor of it. The percentage of Republicans favoring the package rose slightly from 24% to 28%, but remains below the 34% support received in early January, before Congress began its formal consideration of the package.

So why is the GOP's "just say no" strategy not working? Let's ask U.S. News & World Report's Robert Schlessinger:
The problem for the GOP is that because they spent eight years repudiating these core principles, they have no credibility now embracing said principles. Without the protection of those principles, the GOP simply looks like it wants to oppose for the sake of opposition at a time when the country is crumbling.
Amen.

Meanwhile, USAT reports that Team Obama has learned valuable lessons from this fight.




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posted by JReid @ 10:55 AM  
An uh-oh for Florida Dems
A new Strategic Vision poll shows Charlie Crist demolishing the field if he gets into the Senate race (think he doesn't know that?)

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) looms hugely over his state’s open Senate race, holding 2-to-1 leads over all Democrats interested in the race, according to a new Strategic Vision poll.

The poll finds the popular governor, who will wait until after Florida’s legislative session to make his plans known, leading Democratic Reps. Ron Klein and Kendrick Meek by 34 points each.

He leads state Sen. Dan Gelber 58 percent to 27, and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio 57 percent to 29.

The independent poll, set to be released Thursday, was conducted by a GOP-leaning firm.
The Meek people will probably dismiss the poll as a GOP leaner, but the reality is, Gallup is a GOP leaning poll, and so is Mason-Dixon. Even if Strategic is off by 10 points, it's a tough poll to swallow. More details:

The poll shows Klein would lead a primary between the four of them, but with only 12 percent of the vote and with 66 percent of primary voters undecided. None of the four has a sizable statewide profile.

In a GOP primary with four other candidates, Crist is at 54 percent, while Rep. Connie Mack is at 16 percent.

Mack, who could benefit from having the same name as his father, a two-term senator, leads a Crist-less primary, taking 21 percent. Rep. Vern Buchanan takes second, with 11 percent, while former state House Speakers Allan Bense and Marco Rubio are at 8 and 5 percent, respectively.

Mack leads all four Democrats in head-to-head general election match-ups, while Buchanan, Bense and Rubio are all neck-and-neck with the Democrats.

“Buchanan and Rubio have problems despite being in the news a lot recently,” Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson said. “Buchanan could, with money, buy name ID, but would need to attack Mack. Bense could be a sleeper.”

Among the Democrats, Iorio and Klein run best in the general election.

In almost every race without Crist, though, about half of those polled are undecided.

Johnson said Iorio looks strong for the general election but could have trouble in the primary.

“Meek has a ceiling of support of about 25 percent, and it’s hard to see him winning the primary,” Johnson said. “Klein and Gelber have the most potential but could cross each other out.”
That's what you call an uh-oh... Here are the numbers:
1. Whom would you support for the Democratic nomination for United Senate, if the choices were Dan Gelber, Pam Iorio, Kendrick Meek, and Ron Klein?
Ron Klein 12%
Kendrick Meek 10%
Pam Iorio 8%
Dan Gelber 4%
Undecided 66%

2. Whom would you support for the Republican nomination for United States Senate, if the choices were Alan Bense, Vern Buchanan, Charlie Crist, Connie Mack IV, and Marco Rubio?
Charlie Crist 54%
Connie Mack IV 16%
Vern Buchanan 10%
Alan Bense 7%
Marco Rubio 4%
Undecided 9%

3. Whom would you support for the Republican nomination for United States Senate, if the choices were Alan Bense, Vern Buchanan, Connie Mack IV, and Marco Rubio?
Connie Mack IV 21%
Vern Buchanan 11%
Alan Bense 8%
Marco Rubio 5%
Undecided 55%

4. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Ron Klein, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 58%
Ron Klein 24%
Undecided 18%

5. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Kendrick Meek, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 60%
Kendrick Meek 26%
Undecided 14%

6. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Pam Iorio, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 57%
Pam Iorio 29%
Undecided 14%

7. If the election for United States Senate were held today and the choices were Charlie Crist, the Republican and Dan Gelber, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?
Charlie Crist 58%
Dan Gelber 27%
Undecided 15%

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posted by JReid @ 9:10 AM  
Michelle Obama's Vogue cover
Sorry, I couldn't resist. Here it is:


Hey, I'm not the only one who cares about MO's clothes.

The photo is by Annie Liebowitz, the dress is by Jason Wu, whose inaugural gown I wound up hating, and it was shot at the Hay Adams Hotel, where the Obamas had lived in exile before the nomination because the Bushes wouldn't let them stay in Blair House.

Meanwhile the LA Times has the word from Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley.

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posted by JReid @ 8:49 AM  
Lincoln logs
Today is the 200th birthday of America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln (born not in Illinois, but in Kentucky,) the man Barack Obama seems most influenced by (or perhaps a close second to FDR.) Expect lots of Lincoln trivia on TV and online, and endless questions about whether President Obama can hope to hold a candle to him (after 15 days of trying, no less.)

Oh, and just to make the wingers completely crazy, today is the birthday not only of the man who led the defeat of the traiterous confederacy, but also of Charles Darwin, the guy that makes the righties hate dinosaurs... and it's the NAACP's 100th birthday, too. Sorry, wingers...

But back to Lincoln, a few interesting things online today:

From the Herald Tribune, the story of a museum dedicated to examining Lincoln's famous address at Gettysburg (a speech that lasted just a few short minutes but has lasted an eternity):


The second-floor room that overlooks Gettysburg's town square was also where Lincoln put the finishing touches on his Gettysburg Address. The concise yet powerful speech dedicated a national cemetery at the site of North America's bloodiest battle and envisioned "a new birth of freedom" in a nation divided over slavery and states' rights.

On the eve of his historic address, Lincoln was the guest of David Wills, a wealthy 32-year-old lawyer who bore the burden of coordinating the town's recovery from the three-day Battle of Gettysburg and spearheaded the Soldiers' National Cemetery.

The house where Wills lived from 1859 until his death in 1894 is now the latest addition to Gettysburg National Military Park — a museum focused on the address and the aftermath of the epic Civil War battle. The David Wills House celebrated its grand opening on Thursday, Lincoln's 200th birthday.
Meanwhile from the L.A. Times, a breakdown of the Address, from the point of view of a surly sixth grader.

The Chicago Tribune details the challenges facing Illinois in preserving Lincoln's legacy, despite the tough economic times.

And Chris Cillizza at the WaPo says the president will do the Lincoln thing today:

The president has never been terribly subtle about his admiration for and interest in Abraham Lincoln. So, it's no surprise that Obama travels to Springfield, Ill. today to deliver remarks at the 102nd Abraham Lincoln Association Annual Banquet in honor of the Great Emancipator's 200th birthday. The Fix is something of a Lincoln buff (read: nerd) and, to our mind, the best Lincoln biography out there is David Herbert Donald's "Lincoln." Fred Kaplan, who wrote a GREAT summary of the must-read Lincoln books in the Post's "Book World" over the weekend, agrees.

Meanwhile, Republicans are practically shouting from the rooftops: Hey!!! Look at OUR BROWN PEOPLE!!!

Jindal vs. Obama: The news that Bobby Jindal will deliver the official Republican response to President Barack Obama's Feb. 24 address is evidence of two things: Jindal is THE hot thing in the GOP right now and Jindal wants it to stay that way. The choice, announced yesterday by congressional GOP leaders, is evidence, explained Republican Governors Association executive director Nick Ayers, of a new way of thinking within the party. "Republicans in D.C. finally understand our message can't come from D.C.," said Ayers. "This signals a change in tone and strategy for the Party, and its the right one." It also signals that Republicans understand the need to counter Obama's historic presidency with new faces of their own -- from Michael Steele, the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee, to Jindal, the Indian-American boy wonder governor. And, while Jindal continues to downplay any interest in a 2012 race, gigs like this one (and his keynote at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner in March) will put him at the front of the line when the next presidential cycle rolls around -- if he wants to reconsider.
By the way, here's the full text of the Gettysburg address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Given where his party is now, it's almost hard to believe he was a Republican...

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posted by JReid @ 8:11 AM  
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Why does Susan Collins hate school children?


One of the signature themes of the Senate Don Corleone, Susan Collins', lording of the economic recovery plan, is that she is dead set against spending money to reconstruct schools. What gives?
... after working most of Tuesday night, members and staff were plainly exhausted, and continued disputes over Obama’s school construction initiative delayed a planned meeting of the formal House-Senate conference on the bill.

“Like any negotiation this involved give-and-take, and if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an understatement,” said Reid. Down to the end, the school modernization funds were a bone of contention for Sen. Susan Collins (R.-Maine), whose vote is pivotal to the president.

Last Friday, she had successfully eliminated all such money from the Senate bill. Wednesday she agreed to allow $10 billion as part of a $54 billion fiscal stabilization fund but argued that the $10 billion should not be confined to this single dedicated purpose.

After Reid’s announcement, an administration official said the issue was resolved, as did Collins. But House leaders, who had grown resentful of the Maine Republican’s veto power over the bill, remained unhappy—forcing the delay.
So what is Collins' problem?
The constructions funds are especially sensitive in poor, often minority school districts less able to finance new schools. Among the many spending cuts made last week in the Senate, the school construction issue was perhaps the most ideological.

For the Obama camp, it brings back New Deal memories of the Public Works Administration creating construction jobs and building schools across the country. But Collins has always resisted arguing that, in today’s world, it represents an expansion of the federal role in state and local affairs.
Uh-huh... yeah, why help those poor minority kids, when you can just move to Maine, where there are no poor minority kids...

BTW it appears that the Senate has also screwed over urban districts, in favor of the rural folk who don't like Barack Obama anyway, and who from what I can tell, don't want an economic stimulus plan... and of course, they've also screwed over the poor.
... House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D., Cal.) said the tentative deal calls for 65% of the money to be distributed according to the Senate’s more rural formula; 35% as the more urban House wanted.

In the same talks, the House appears to have preserved its higher 65% subsidy to help laid- off workers meet COBRA payments to maintain employer-provided health insurance; the Senate had proposed 50%. But the House agreed in turn to drop its proposal to increase Medicaid coverage to help lower income individuals face the same insurance dilemma and can’t afford to pay even a subsidized COBRA payment.
ABC News has more on the school construction money dust-up:
One issue is that liberals in the House are objecting to the amount of money in the bill for school construction. Sources say the bill includes $6 billion for school construction. Negotiators worked hard to find a way to put the provisions back in after the Senate eliminated all $16 billion in school construction money. But some key House Democrats say that's not enough.

Another problem, sources say, is that some House Democrats say the bill gives states too much discretion on how to use some of the money intended for education. Some Congressman are concerned that governors will not use the money to help poor school districts.

Some Senate Democrats are unhappy, too. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says there is just not enough money in the bill for school construction.

"Every school in America will get 10,000 bucks if they're lucky," Harkin said, guessing that might be enough to buy two energy efficient windows. "And what's that going to do for them?" he asked. "We're trying to add new heating facilities. We're trying to add renovations. And doing it by formula doesn't do it."

Harkin says he'd ultimately vote for it, but he doesn't like the concessions made to get the support of the moderate Republicans.

No wonder Nancy Pelosi is pissed.



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posted by JReid @ 5:19 PM  
Deal reached on the economic recovery plan (and nobody's happy about it)
From MSNBC:
WASHINGTON - Moving with lightning speed, key lawmakers announced agreement Wednesday on a $789 billion economic stimulus measure designed to create millions of jobs in a nation reeling from recession. President Barack Obama could sign the bill within days.

"The middle ground we've reached creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the participants in an exhausting and frenzied round of bargaining.

The bill includes help for victims of the recession in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, health coverage and more, as well as billions for states that face the prospect of making deep cuts in their own programs.

It also preserves Obama's signature tax cut — a break for millions of lower and middle income taxpayers, including those who don't earn enough to pay income taxes.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was conspicuously absent from the news conference in which members of the Senate announced the agreement, and it was not clear whether she stayed away out of unhappiness or a scheduling conflict.

Officials had said previously that one of the final issues to be settled was money for school modernization, a priority of Pelosi as well as Obama and one on which they differed with Collins and other moderates whose votes will be essential for final Senate approval.

The WaPo reports on the new D.C. Don Corleone, Susan Collins' ... take:

"I'm particularly pleased that we have produced an agreement that has the top line of $789 billion," she said. "It is a fiscally responsible number that reflects our efforts to truly focus this bill on programs and policies and tax relief that will help turn our economy around, create jobs and provide relief to the families of our country."

Collins, one of three Republican senators whose votes for the bill yesterday gave it a filibuster-proof majority, also said that in the final version, "we were able to increase the amount of infrastructure spending," which she called "the most powerful component in this bill to create jobs." She said the bill contains about $150 billion for infrastructure including transportation, environmental, broadband and other projects.

More than 35 percent of the funding goes for tax relief, Collins said.

And a bit more on what they were fighting over:

Before the House-Senate conference, Democratic negotiators convened a final meeting with Senate centrists who had forced steep cuts in the spending portion of the stimulus plan -- which at one point last week had grown to almost $940 billion in new tax cuts and domestic spending.

Even after the Senate scaled down its version to $838 billion, approved 61-37 yesterday, the centrists continued to demand more reductions. Senate aides said the targets were reducing Obama's "Make Work Pay" tax cut of $500 a year for most individuals and $1,000 a year for most families, paring it down to $400 and $800, respectively.

Other reductions were likely in a $15,000 tax credit for all home purchases in the next year as well as a tax credit for the purchase of new cars, both of which were added to the Senate bill after little debate.

House Democrats have objected to wholesale deletions from their original bill during the Senate debate, but they appeared likely to see some return of aid to states that totaled $79 billion in their plan. The Senate reduced that figure to $39 billion. Senators also zeroed out a fund that would finance school construction, another priority for which House Democrats are pushing to restore funds.

The wrangling may be the reason that not just Pelosi, but also the White House, have withheld the kudos from what just might be a moderate mish-mash bill:

... in a bewildering _ if temporary _ turn of events, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House withheld immediate expressions of support, and the formal meeting of congressional bargainers who will need to ratify the deal was delayed.

At a news conference in the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, flanked by moderate senators of both parties, said agreement had been reached on a compromise that "creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill."

Pelosi had been frustrated going into the conference:

“Usually you go to conference and split the difference between the two houses — that may not be the case here,” Pelosi said. “At these conferences, my experience has been that the White House has a seat at the table — that they weigh in.”

Both Obama and Pelosi are hoping to restore significant stimulus spending eliminated by the Senate, especially $21 billion in school construction and technology grants, $10.3 billion in COBRA insurance and $8.6 billion in new Medicaid coverage for the unemployed.

Personally, I blame Harry Reid, who has given virtual veto power over the bill to Susan Collins.

Wimp.


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posted by JReid @ 4:59 PM  
Bringing out the best, and the worst, in America
The best thing about this country is that even with its faults, the goodness and decency of most people almost always outweighs the nastiness and callowness of the few. When times are toughest, Americans pull together to help each other, and to support our neighbors, whether it's helping to put the shutters up on the block during hurricane season, or crying for the victims of 9/11 from a thousand miles away. I suppose that's actually true of all human beings, American or not, but hey, let me have my gauzy, patriotic moment.

A prime example of the fundamental goodness of people: Ms. Hughes and her son now have a home. From the Huffpo:
If you were paying attention to Obama's stimulus push yesterday it was hard to miss Henrietta Hughes, a woman on the verge of tears who asked the President to help her with an "urgent need": homelessness. After the Florida town hall where Hughes talked to Obama, a local Fort Myers paper says she was offered a home by State Representative Nick Thompson's wife.
More of the story:
The house is in LaBelle, the first home Scere Thompson bought after law school. She told Hughes, “Just give me the opportunity to help you.”
Rep. Thompson, I should point out, is a Republican, Expect the wingers to try and use this act of kindness to prove that government can't solve problems, since the Rep's wife got to Ms. Hughes before President Obama could (ah, look! They're starting already...) They do that, because "conservatives," broadly written, believe that human beings are fundamentally evil. Everything else they believe proceeds from there. But the right can't have it both ways. They can't sneer at charity and simultaneously claim that charity begins at the GOP.

An interview with Ms. Hughes (before the gift) below:





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posted by JReid @ 1:30 PM  
Step one: take out everything House Republicans asked for
The negotiations are moving along on the House-Senate economic revitalization conference bill. Andrea Mitchell just reported that the gist of the changes are to add back in state grants that were stripped in the Senate (and we know the White House wants school construction money restored as well) and cutting back some tax cuts requested by Republican House members who wound up not voting for the bill. As Mitchell put it, the House GOP provisions were "the first to go." After all, Democrats got nothing in exchange for them.

You GO Nancy.

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posted by JReid @ 1:24 PM  
Happy birthday Phil, and what a history it's been
Had my mother, born Philomena Augustina Carryl, lived until today, her birthday, she would be 80 years old. (She always told us she was ten years younger than she was, because she looked young enough to get away with it...) [Photo at left: my mother graduating from NYU, sometime in the 1950s. Photo courtesy my godmother]

And what a different world she would have lived to see.

Calvin Coolidge was the U.S. president when my mother was born in Georgetown, British Guyana; and his successor, Herbert Hoover, was sworn in about a month after her birth, on March 4th ... Iran was still called Persia ... the U.S. Immigration law of 1924 (also known as the Asian Exclusion Act) was still restricting the number of Asians and Eastern Europeans who could come into the country ... Lou Gehrig was playing for the Yankees ... there had been 55 Kentucky Derbies, 33 Boston marathons and 64 British Golf Opens ... Palestinians and Jews were fighting in Jerusalem ... the Afghan government was being overthrown ... the Indian National Congress was spoiling for India's independence from Great Britain ... Bessie Smith recorded "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" ... the Harlem Renaissance was still going strong ... and a loaf of bread cost just 9 cents. The Great Depression began, and my mother's generation would live through that, and war, and Cold War, and the birth of the television age, and the assassination of one president and the resignation of another.

My mother died in 1986, so she missed out on Monicagate, Disastrous Dubya, and of course, Barack Obama. But she was born in an era of tremendous change.

More 1929 trivia, from BrainyHistory.com:
  • The U.S. and Canada agreed to preserve Niagara Falls (January 2nd)
  • William Paley became president of CBS at 27 years old (January 3rd)
  • Buck Rogers, the first sci-fi comic strip, and "Tarzan," one of the 1st adventure comic strips, both debut (January 7th)
  • Gun slinger Wyatt Earp died (January 13)
  • Popeye debuts in the comic strip "Thimble Theater" (January 17.)
  • "NY Daily Mirror" columnist Walter Winchell made his radio debut (January 18)
  • Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin proposed that Leo Trotsky be banned from the Politburo (January 18 ... Trotsky was expelled from the entire country, to Turkey, on January 31st)
  • On my mother's birthday, February 11, Eugene O'Neill's play, "Dynamo," made its debut in New York City, and Vatican City, the world's smallest country, was made an official enclave of Rome. Vatican City became a sovereign state June 7th.
  • Three days later, on February 14, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre took place in Chicago, leaving 7 mobsters dead.
  • American Samoa became a territory (February 20)
  • General Motors bought German auto manufacturer Adam Opel in March, which is interesting to me only because I briefly owned a Buick Opel in the early 1990s. Worst car I've ever had. It was a lemon from day one.
  • The 1st telephone was installed in the White House (March 23)
  • Louie Marx introduces Yo-Yo on April 1
  • New York Yankees become 1st team to wear uniform numbers (April 16)
  • The first regularly scheduled TV broadcasts begin 3 nights per week, for the few who can afford the sets (May 11)
  • The first Academy Awards take place, with "Wings," Emil Jennings and Janet Gaynor winning statuettes (May 16)
  • General Feng Yu-Xiang of China declared war on Chiang Kai-Shek government (May 19)
  • The New York Stock Exchange became the country's largest financial exchange, surpassing the New York Exchange in June, shortly after they installed an electronic stock quotation board (May 21)
  • The first all color talking picture, "On With the Show," was exhibited in New York City (May 28);
  • George Eastman demonstrated the first technicolor movie in Rochester New York (June 4)
  • The first color television set was demonstrated in New York City (June 27)
  • U.S. cartoonist Elzie Segar created "Popeye" (July 1)
  • U.S. currency shrunk to its current, smaller size (July 10)
  • Jones Beach in New York opens (August 4)
  • German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight (August 8)
  • Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs. He hit number 500 off pitcher Willis Hudlin of Cleveland (August 11)
  • The Dow Jones peaked at a record 381.17 (September 3)
  • The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes changed its name to Yugoslavia (October 3)
  • The stock market crash begins with "Black Thursday," as the Dow Jones plummets 12.8% (October 24)
  • Former Interior Sec Albert Fall convicted of accepting $100,000 bribe (October 25)
  • Wall Street suffers a second shock on Black Tuesday, as a 13% (38.33 point) drop in the Stock Market at the previous closing bell triggers the Great Depression (October 29)
  • In perhaps the worst case of bad timing ever, the Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City on November 7...
  • Salvador Dali has his first one-man show November 20)
  • Lt Cmdr Richard E Byrd sends "My calculations indicate that we have reached vicinity of South Pole" on November 29. (He was wrong)
  • The game BINGO was invented by Edwin S Lowe (December 1)
  • The first skull of a "Peking man" was found, 50 km outside Peking, China at Tsjoe Koe Tien (December 2)
  • The first known U.S. nudist organization, the American League for Physical Culture, was founded in New York City (December 5)
  • Turkish women got the right to vote (December 6)
... and the notion of a black president of the United States was, in 1929, totally unthinkable, to the point of being ridiculous.

Other people born in 1929:

Fats Domino, Anne Frank, Arnold Palmer, G. Gordon "Felon" Liddy, Burt Bacharach, Bob Newhart, Imelda Marcos, Martin Luther King Jr., William Safire, Christopher Plummer, Yasser Arafat.

BTW February 11 is also the 19th anniversary of the day Nelson Mandela was released by South African authorities after spending 27 years in prison (1990). Happy anniversary, Mr. Mandela, and happy birthday, mom.


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posted by JReid @ 10:28 AM  
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Barack and Charlie show
In Fort Myers today: President Obama and Charlie Crist team up

Let me say again, though I think I've said it before, that Charlie Crist is a very, very smart man. And ambitious. He neutralized lingering questions about his sexuality (at least in the press) by marrying a girl. And he didn't just marry any gil -- he married a rich socialite whose public image and net worth can only help his political fortunes.

He ran and won in 2006 as a moderate Republican, and succeeded in winning over a good number of Democrats (he also won 18 percent of the Black vote.)

He has somehow gotten away with flitting off to Europe for a $400,000 junket, having neutralized the story with ... the wedding to a girl...

When McCain ran for president, Charlie backed him instead of Uncle "Loser" Rudy, and even suffered the indignity of getting onstage with Sarah Palin AND shucking for oil derricks off the coast of Miami, all in an attempt to become vice president.

And when that didn't work out, he went back to being a moderate, and most recently stepped out publicly in support of President Obama and the economic stimulus package, becoming the most prominent governor -- and the first prominent Republican in the country, to do so. He did it early, and he did it at the same time El Rushbo and his former candidate, John McCain, were doing everything in their power to play spoiler.

Charlie got his reward today, in the form of a major big-up from the CIC:

I want to start by thanking your governor, Charlie Crist, for joining us today. Governors understand our economic crisis as well as anyone; they're on the front lines dealing with it every day. And Governor Crist shares my conviction that creating jobs and turning this economy around is a mission that transcends party. When the town is burning, we don't check party labels. Everyone needs to grab a hose!

Governor Crist and governors across the country understand that. Mayors across the country understand that. And I think you understand that, too. Which is what I want to talk about today.
Crist's embrace of the stiumulus is good policy and good politics, especially for a guy who may yet run for Senate (against, among others, Kendrick Meek, who press released his "accompanying" of President Obama to Fort Myers "aboard Air Force One" yesterday, but who didn't get much of a photo op out of it, while Crist got to introduce the president), and who already has crossover appeal among Democrats, who sometimes appear to like him better than his own base does. In a state that's trending blue, pissing off a few GOP hardliners probably helps Crist, rather than hurting him, especially since his actions, unlike his silly "drill here, drill now" fakery, will likely result in billions of dollars flowing into the state, while his opponents are only promising to say no, and say it often.

Related: Politico points out the similarities between Obama and Crist.

Also in Politico: Crist says yes, Mel says no. (And wouldn't that contrast be helpful for a would-be GOP Senator running against the tide of Democratic salivating over 60 votes in the Senate... what if the 60th vote could be a guy named Charlie...?)

Previous:
Related:

Check out the ReidBlog
Charlie Crist thread!


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posted by JReid @ 2:03 PM  
Monday, February 09, 2009
Obama nails it
In his prime time press conference tonight, President Obama laid into the opposition party with a velvet glove, that happened to have a pretty tightly clenched fist beneath it. He chided members of the other ideological party whose opening or final negotiation position is that government should "do nothing" while the economy continues to head off a cliff, saying they are alone in that ideological fixation, while most economists and people of common sense are with him. The bottom line is that something must be done, and that only government has the spending wherewithall to do it. The Republican formulation that if we just stand far back enough from the edge, we won't hear the screams as loudly as the cart carrying our economic future goes over the side.

Obama made a simple, succinct, and forceful case for his economic recovery plan, uttering the world "stimulus" only twice, and seemingly unintentionally. He gave complex, intelligent answers to economic and foreign policy questions, and even one on A-Rod -- a nice change after eight years of dumbass. Okay, sorry, that was partisan of me. Not very Age of Obama... but what is? Calling on Sam Stein of the Huffpo. Nice work if you can get it, Sam...

The president also answered a question that's been vexing me and many other Democrats: who the hell cares about bipartisanship??? His answer: "I didn't do [all of that outreach to Republicans] for a few vote this week. I did it for the long term," and to build good will that he can use for the next four years. Full answer:
You know, when I made a series of overtures to the Republicans, going over to meet with both Republican caucuses, you know, putting three Republicans in my cabinet -- something that is unprecedented -- making sure that they were invited here to the White House to talk about the economic recovery plan, all those were not designed simply to get some short-term votes. They were designed to try to build up some trust over time.
Obama didn't take the bait from Helen Thomas when she asked him if any Middle Eastern countries have nukes (read: Israel) and he wouldn't be pinned down on a timetable for Afghanistan, negotiations with Iran, or whether his administration will allow the media to view the flag draped coffins of our fallen troops. Not quite transparency, but I can live with it.

UPDATE: The Huffpo has the full transcript of the presser. Representative clip:

As I said, the one concern I've got on the stimulus package, in terms of the debate and listening to some of what's been said in Congress, is that there seems to be a set of folks who -- I don't doubt their sincerity -- who just believe that we should do nothing.

Now, if that's their opening position or their closing position in negotiations, then we're probably not going to make much progress, because I don't think that's economically sound and I don't think what -- that's what the American people expect, is for us to stand by and do nothing.

There are others who recognize that we've got to do a significant recovery package, but they're concerned about the mix of what's in there. And if they're sincere about it, then I'm happy to have conversations about this tax cut versus that -- that tax cut or this infrastructure project versus that infrastructure project.

But what I've -- what I've been concerned about is some of the language that's been used suggesting that this is full of pork and this is wasteful government spending, so on and so forth.

First of all, when I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then, you know, I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history. I inherited the deficit that we have right now and the economic crisis that we have right now.

Number two is that, although there are some programs in there that I think are good policy, some of them aren't job-creators. I think it's perfectly legitimate to say that those programs should be out of this particular recovery package and we can deal with them later.

But when they start characterizing this as pork, without acknowledging that there are no earmarks in this package -- something, again, that was pretty rare over the last eight years -- then you get a feeling that maybe we're playing politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the American people.

All I can say is, this guy's got extraordinar swag... And no, I'm not fantasizing (sick, twisted wenches...)



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posted by JReid @ 9:26 PM  
Michael Steele: Embarrasment to humanity
Separated at birth: RNC Buffoon in Chief Michael Steele (left)
and Digital Underground's Shock G as "Humpty Hump"


Michael Steele continues to humiliate himself, publicly. Fresh off his ridiculous appearance on "This Week" in which he contended that government and construction jobs aren't jobs, and allegations that he put his sister on the campaign payroll after her business went belly-up, now, he's using street slang to try and trash up the GOP image a bit. From Politico:

Just ran into new RNC Chairman Michael Steele who watched President Obama's town hall in Indiana and wasn't impressed.

The Obama-backed stimulus, he said, "is just a wish list from a lot of people who have been on the sidelines for years.. to get a little bling, bling."

(For the record -- we Nexis-ed "Ed Gillespie" and "bling" and found nothing)

You know how you felt the first time you saw your parents try to dance "cool" ...? Yeah. That's the feeling.

Previous:

Flashback:

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posted by JReid @ 6:44 PM  
Diluted Senate bill passes
The vote was 61-36, with Snowe, Collins and Specter being the three GOPers on board, as expected. Meanwhile, John McCain continues to snipe at the kids on his lawn...

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posted by JReid @ 6:39 PM  
A centrist disaster
Paul Krugman feels about the same way I do about the Senate "compromise" wrought by newly emboldened "centrist" Mafiosa Susan Collins of Maine. It sucks:

What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses?

A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.

Even if the original Obama plan — around $800 billion in stimulus, with a substantial fraction of that total given over to ineffective tax cuts — had been enacted, it wouldn’t have been enough to fill the looming hole in the U.S. economy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will amount to $2.9 trillion over the next three years.

Yet the centrists did their best to make the plan weaker and worse.

One of the best features of the original plan was aid to cash-strapped state governments, which would have provided a quick boost to the economy while preserving essential services. But the centrists insisted on a $40 billion cut in that spending.

The original plan also included badly needed spending on school construction; $16 billion of that spending was cut. It included aid to the unemployed, especially help in maintaining health care — cut. Food stamps — cut. All in all, more than $80 billion was cut from the plan, with the great bulk of those cuts falling on precisely the measures that would do the most to reduce the depth and pain of this slump.

On the other hand, the centrists were apparently just fine with one of the worst provisions in the Senate bill, a tax credit for home buyers. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research calls this the “flip your house to your brother” provision: it will cost a lot of money while doing nothing to help the economy.

All in all, the centrists’ insistence on comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted will, if reflected in the final bill, lead to substantially lower employment and substantially more suffering.
Krugman blames the Obama administration's seeming obsession with bipartisanship for the worsening of the bill, and I agree. It's time to stop trying to coddle the opposition and start recognizing that there's a reason they are where they are. Giving Susan Collins a veto over the proposal so that she can play Cruella de Ville, demanding that no more money be given to those awful poor people and children, is a hell of a rotten negotiating position for the White House to be in.

Meanwhile, over at Firedoglake, Attaturk places the blame not on centrists, but on southern conservatives, whom he says have managed to be wrong throughout the entirety of American history:
WRONG. ABOUT. EVERY. F***ING. THING. From holding back the economic development of the early nation, to slavery, to the Civil War, to Jim Crow, to Segregation, to the minimum wage, to maximum hours, to workplace safety, to workers compensation, to food safety, to child labor, to isolationism, to the FDIC, to Social Security, to the union movement, to Red Baiting, to woman's suffrage, to anti-intellectualism, to workplace discrimination, to State's Rights, to the Voting Rights Act, to equal pay, to religious fundamentalism, to loving guns more than life itself, to anti-Catholicism, to anti-Semitism, to Vietnam, to the War on Terror, to birth control, to not taxing while really spending, to homophobia, to clean water, to environmentalism, to making the rubble bounce on brown people, to supporting torture, to police abuse, to global warming, to outlawing precious and blessed foreplay between consenting adults, generation after generation, they've been the assholes of the nation.
Damn, he's right!


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posted by JReid @ 3:38 PM  
Making things worse
The New York Times recounts just one of the myriad ways the Israeli attack on Gaza has made things worse in the region. This time: the victims are Palestinian patients, whom their government are now refusing to fund into the care of Israeli hospitals.

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posted by JReid @ 3:33 PM  
Burning questions: The 2009 Grammys
Lingering questions from last night's Grammy Awards:

Is Rihanna the "unnnamed woman" Chris Brown was arrested for throttling, and is that why BOTH of them failed to show for the awards, rather than just him? Signs point to yes... and it gets worse, according to TMZ:
TMZ has confirmed Rihanna is the named alleged victim in the Chris Brown case and the allegation is that she was assaulted with a deadly weapon.

Law enforcement sources tell us the crime report calls the incident assault with a deadly weapon -- we do not yet know the nature of the weapon.

The crime report gives the victim's name as Robyn Fenty -- that's Rihanna's real name.
Another Q: what's with the Brit phenom M.I.A. performing on her freaking due date? And that polka dot outfit! WTF was that all about??? (BTW one of the funniest moments of the night was when the camera caught our friend M.I.A. scratching the bejeezus out of her wig ... er ... hair ... during the nominations for best new artist. Adele was chewing gum. She won.)



Worse, what the HELL was up with Kanye West's HAIR??? Was he trying to channel Rockwell from the 1980s with that mullet or what? I sure hope that was for a part in a movie...

And while we're on the hip hop tip, how in the name of God did the turtle-like Lil Wayne beat Jay Z (and Nas, for that matter) out of one Grammy, let alone THREE???

Jay Z had one of the best performances of the night, both with the "Rap pack" and with Chris Martin of Coldplay. Another good collaboration: Justin Timberlake and both Al Green and T.I.

All in all, I disagree with those who called it a horrible show, though it was a bit all over the place. But again, I could have done without the polka dot belly.

UPDATE: Chris Brown has been dropped as a spokesman for Doublemint Gum pending the outcome of the investiga... oh, hell, he's not getting that back.

Meanwhile, TMZ has updated their reporting to say that despite the police report, there was no weapon involved in the alleged assault, but that according to the law, a deadly weapon doesn't necessarily have to be a gun or knife (there may be an umbrella involved..) And get this:
One law enforcement source who has been dead-on so far claims Rihanna suffered contusions and bite marks.

Damn, Chris. What a way to go out.

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posted by JReid @ 3:12 PM  
Sunday, February 08, 2009
The British invasion
Coldplay are multiple winners on Grammy night

Not since Soul II Soul took over my musical youth have I seen so many British acts rocking the U.S. charts! I hadn't realized that I was sharing my taste for British pop with like, the whole freaking world, or at least, with the Grammy voters. On the show tonight, there were no fewer than half a dozen British acts up for awards, performing, etc., including:

Sir Paul McCartney (who just about everyone bigged up onstage)
Coldplay (who won everything Robert Plant didn't get)
Robert Plant (who has a hit duet album with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss)
Adele (still chasing pavements ... great song btw)
Keith Urban (Okay, he's Australian, but close enough!)
Duffy (who won for something given off camera, apparently)
RadioHead (who just performed)

... and I know I'm forgetting others. So far, it's been a very British night (which the UK papers have of course noticed,) and a very eclectic one. I have to say I'm enjoying the show more than I thought I might, back when I was dubious about watching for fear of three hours of Miley Cyrus-level entertainment... Oh, and speaking of "chasing pavements"...
In a sign of the massive upheaval within the record business since the introduction of the iPod and iTunes, the record label with the most British nominees is not a big company, such as EMI, but a small independent outfit named XL Recordings. Its artists include Adele and MIA, and the label was also chosen by Radiohead to release the CD of In Rainbows.
Love that! MTV is liveblogging and has great pics. BTW the audio quality is TERRIBLE!!!! Not cute, CBS.

BTW, from what I could hear via the muffled audio, JHud did a great performance, and beat Al Green and Boyz II Men for best R&B album. Good for her!

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posted by JReid @ 10:14 PM  
Sunday best: Michael Steele says work is not a job
On "This Week" today, the RNC's new, black face, confused the hell out of the rest of us, telling George Stephanopoulos that a job created by the government isn't really a job at all. It's "work," and work is most definitely NOT ... a job ... Confused? Read on:
STEELE: You've got to look at what's going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's a job.

STEELE: No, it's not a job. A job is something that -- that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's creating...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn't count if it's a government job?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Hold on. No, let me -- let me -- let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we're talking about have an end point.

As a small-business owner, I'm looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It's a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work. And I'm -- either way, the bottom line is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I don't really understand that distinction.

STEELE: Well, the difference -- the distinction is this. If a government -- if you've got a government contract that is a fixed period of time, it goes away. The work may go away. That's -- there's no guarantee that that -- that there's going to be more work when you're done in that job.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year.

STEELE: But they come -- yes, they -- and they come back, though, George. That's the point. When they go -- they've gone away before, and they come back.
Huh? Watch it and see if it makes more sense that way...



Now it appears what Steele was trying to say is that government-created infrastructure jobs, i.e., construction, road and bridge engineering and planning, etc., aren't "real jobs" because they're temporary, unlike the permanent, sustainable jobs created by the private sec...tor ... which just laid off 600,000 people last month... ohhhh.... hmmm.... problemo...

And just in case you think Steele just made that up on the fly, think again. He has said it before, and added that government has never ... EVER ... in the history of mankind... created a job. Seriously.

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posted by JReid @ 6:46 PM  
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Gee, he really is the right man for the job
The feds are probing brand, spanking new RNC Chairman Michael Steele's shady 2006 Senate campaign. Teehee...

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posted by JReid @ 12:27 AM  
Crazy lady alert! The octuplet mom
See? Told ya Angelina Jolie was a bad influence...



I wonder which one of those octuplets is gonna take your man...???

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posted by JReid @ 12:19 AM  
Stimwinder: Two Maines, a Pennsylvania, and a side of bacon
According to MSNBC, the three Republicans who have pledged to vote for the stimulus compromise bill are Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. If Ted Kennedy comes back, which is shameful for him to have to do (as Atrios points out,) that would give the Democrats exactly 60 votes, which NBC says they need because the bill would raise the deficit. Not sure I trust them on that -- need to look it up. But there it is. Cue the food metaphors!

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said the agreement was a bipartisan effort and cited the work of Collins and Specter.

"We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows," Nelson said. He said the compromise included $350 billion in tax cuts that would reach 95 percent of all Americans.

Collins said negotiators cut more than $110 billion in "unnecessary spending" in the compromise package.

"Is it perfect? No. Every compromise reflects choices that are necessary to bring people together," she said.

Specter said he supported the deal even though parts of it "give me heartburn."
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posted by JReid @ 12:09 AM  
Friday, February 06, 2009
Economics 101 (plus, stim deal reached)
So it seems we have a deal. The punkdafied Democrats in the Senate, led by the compromise king, Harry Reid, have crafted a deal (apparently co-produced by Olympia Snowe of Maine and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.) The deal? Supposedly, it's 52% spending and 48% tax cuts -- up from the 30 percent tax cuts already forked over by the House.

So what's wrong with this picture? I can still remember taking the class dubbed "Ec 10" at Harvard, taught by former Reagan economic advisor Martin "Marty" Feldstein. One of the few tidbits of that course that I remember is this: people tend act, according to utility theory, according to what they think is best for them. And they can be made to act on what's best for others only to the extent that they see the good in an action for themselves. For instance: if you give a hungry person $100, they will probably buy food with it. If you give a full person $100, you will have a hard time convincing them to use the money for food. So why, pray tell, would you give a rich person a tax cut, putting more cash in their pockets, and assume that they will use the money to help out the jobless? What, I ask, is in it for them?

Answer: not much -- not in this economy. Tax cuts, even for the middle class, will likely be saved, not spent. Whereas, tax cuts to the poor are guaranteed to be spent back into the economy, because the poor need to spend.

Meanwhile, over on Capitol Hill, Republicans -- the losing party in the last two national elections -- have managed to scam more tax cuts out of the stimulus bill, by accusing Democrats, successfuly it turns out, of "spending rather than stimulating." Well, let's return to our "Ec 10" lesson, shall we? See, as it turns out, the definition of "stimulus" in ecoomic terms is ... um ... spending. Go figure.

As Media Matters points out, Republicans have succeeded in getting the media to frame the debate as either government spending or stimulation, with tax cuts placed in the column of stimulation. But the problem is, tax cuts are not stimulative. And spending is not just stimulative, it is the very definition of stimulation. As President Obama put it today, "that's the whole point! Watch:



And MM's Jamison Foser adds:
Fundamentally flawed stimulus coverageby Jamison FoserIf there's one fact that should be made clear in every news report about the stimulus package working its way through Congress, it is this: Government spending is stimulative. That's a basic principle of economics, and understanding it is essential to assessing any stimulus package. So it should be an underlying premise of the media's coverage of the stimulus debate. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. Indeed, reporters routinely suggest that spending is not stimulative.

Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explains: "Spending that is not stimulus is like cash that is not money. Spending is stimulus, spending is stimulus. Any spending will generate jobs. It is that simple. ... Any reporter who does not understand this fact has no business reporting on the economy.

"Unfortunately, many of the reporters who have shaped the stimulus debate don't seem to understand that.ABC's Charles Gibson portrayed spending and stimulus as opposing concepts in a question to President Obama: "And as you know, there's a lot of people in the public, a lot of members of Congress who think this is pork-stuffed and that it really doesn't stimulate. A lot of people have said it's a spending bill and not a stimulus."

That formulation -- "it's a spending bill and not a stimulus" -- is complete nonsense; it's like saying, "This is a hot fudge sundae, not a dessert." But nonsensical as it is, it has also been quite common in recent news reports. There's another problem with Gibson's formulation, though -- in describing the stimulus as a "spending bill," he ignores the fact that the bill contains tax cuts, too. Lots and lots of tax cuts. And those tax cuts, by the way, provide less stimulus than government spending on things like food stamps and extending unemployment benefits. It probably goes without saying that Gibson didn't ask if the bill would be more effective if the tax cuts were replaced by additional spending.

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, among others, has repeatedly suggested "welfare" provisions in the bill wouldn't stimulate the economy. This is the exact opposite of true; those provisions are among the most stimulative things the government can possibly do. There are some fairly obvious reasons why that is true, beginning with the fact that if you give a poor person $100 in food stamps, you can be pretty sure they're going to spend all $100 of it; but if you give a rich person $100 in tax cuts, they probably won't spend much of it at all.

But we needn't rely on logic and common sense to know that welfare spending is stimulative; economists study these things. One such economist is Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com, who served as an adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign. Zandi has produced a handy chart showing how much a variety of spending increases and tax cuts would stimulate the economy. According to Zandi, a dollar spent on increasing unemployment benefits yields $1.64 in increased gross domestic product, and a dollar spent on food stamps yields $1.73 in GDP. As for tax cuts, Zandi says the most effective form is a payroll tax holiday. A one dollar reduction in federal revenues as a result of such a tax holiday would produce a $1.29 increase in GDP -- far less than the benefit realized from extending unemployment benefits, increasing food stamps, providing general aid to state governments, or spending on infrastructure. ...

Now that a deal has apparently been done, let's hope that the 42% of the now $790 billion deal is tax cuts for the middle and lower middle classes.

Otherwise, it might be time to impeach Harry Reid.

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posted by JReid @ 11:08 PM  
Crazy lady alert: Etta James says 'ways out'


The singer, who looks for all the world like a geriatric Beyonce, says she was just kidding when she threatened to whip the younger woman for singing "her" ... ahem ... song, "At Last." But she really is pissed at Obama, as she told the NYDN:

"I didn't really mean anything," James said. "Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude. ... That's probably what went into it."

Still, James acknowledged being miffed she wasn't invited to perform her signature song for Obama's first dance with his wife on inauguration night.

James said she was "feeling left out of something that was basically mine, that I had done every time you look around."

She said she liked Beyoncé's performance, but when asked if she thought she could have done better, James answered, "I think so. That's a shame to say that."

As for why she never hit the "stop" button, even after declaring Obama "not her prez?" Because she was getting the laughs, man!

"Nobody was getting mad at me in Seattle," she said. "They were all laughing, and it was funny."

She said the jokes were "not from a vicious place."

James pointed out that she posed for a picture and spoke with Beyoncé last year before the premiere of "Cadillac Records," in which the young singer portrays the 71-year-old legend.

As for Obama, James said she "always thought he was handsome and he was cool."

"I still had my joke about him," she said. "That might be horrible. The President might not ever like me in life."

She questioned how upset Obama could possibly be about the barb: "He's got other stuff [to worry about] besides Etta James."

You know ... you're right!

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posted by JReid @ 5:16 PM  
Obama calls out the Obsructionists
The GOP continues to fiddle while the country burns. Today, Barack Obama continued his "calling out the losers" tour:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama decried as "inexcusable and irresponsible" the delay of his economic recovery legislation in Congress with an estimated 3.6 million Americans losing their jobs since the recession began.

Obama's remarks were some of his most direct and pointed in support of the massive economic package that the Senate considered Friday and tried to pare down below its $900-billion-plus price tag. Obama acknowledged it was not perfect and pledged to work with lawmakers to refine the measure, which he called "absolutely necessary."

"But broadly speaking, the package is the right size, it is the right scope, and it has the right priorities to create 3 to 4 million jobs, and to do it in a way that lays the groundwork for long-term growth," Obama said at a ceremony in the White House East Room.

The president named an outside economic team of advisers as the nation dealt with more bad news in the unemployment report for January. Employers slashed payrolls by 598,000, the most since the end of 1974, propelling the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. The rate is the highest since September 1992.

"These numbers demand action. It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work," Obama said bluntly. "Now is the time for Congress to act."

Meanwhile, the staggering job losses that aren't phasing the GOPers, apparently, continue to bite the hell out of the rest of us.

Most Americans remain confident in Obama, by the way, and most of us want the damned stimulus bill passed, including 70 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Republicans.


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posted by JReid @ 5:07 PM  
Shameless self-promotion: Joy on WPBT tonight
I'll be on with Ms. Helen Ferre on "Issues" again tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 2 (if you're local) talking about the Ray Sansom (Florida's disgraced, ex House speaker) debacle. Oh goody, our own private Blagogate...

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posted by JReid @ 5:02 PM  
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Etta James unplugged
The 60s singer threatens to putting a whipping on Sasha Fierce for covering "her" song, according to audio posted by Crown City Media (and cribbed by Youtubers everywhere...)



But according to TMZ, whether or not her snidery makes sense depends on what the meaning of "her" is...

Etta went on stage in Seattle last week and told the crowd she's gonna lay the smack down on B for "singin' my song" at Obama's Inauguration Ball. But not only did the 71-year-old not write the song, she wasn't even the first -- or second -- to record it!

Glenn Miller did it first in 1941, followed by Nat King Cole in 1957. Etta got around to recording it in 1961. In fact, Glenn's version ranked higher on the Billboard Pop Singles chart than Etta's ever did.

FYI -- neither Miller nor Cole ever threatened to beat Etta's ass -- although it's about time someone knocks some sense into that lady.


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posted by JReid @ 1:17 PM  
Obama's man on faith
Barack Obama today named 26-year-old Josh Dubois, his head of faith outreach during the campaign, to head his office of faith based initiatives, a relic of the Bush administration that will survive, apparently, though with revisions, including eliminating the green light on discriminatory hiring practices.

Dubois has a rich history of advocacy on civil and human rights that goes back to his college days, and did a great job during the campaign. I met him when he came to Miami toward the end of the campaign. Solid guy. More on the changes:
Joshua DuBois’ job as head of the Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is expected to differ from that of his predecessor in the Bush administration. Obama has indicated that in addition to advising local religious leaders on how to get federal funding, the role will now also include working with them on social service outreach and tying their efforts into the administration’s fights against problems such as poverty.
Dubois is a Pentacostal minister, in case you're wondering.

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posted by JReid @ 1:05 PM  
Obama finally fires back (Senate Dems, not so much...)
After taking weeks of crap from Republicans who are busy braying for more tax cuts for the rich, while the country literally falls apart, President Obama finally hit back yesterday, while signing the State children's healthcare bill Dubya vetoed twice. Said Obama:

"In the past two days, I have heard criticisms of this plan that, frankly, echo the very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis in the first place," Obama said, before signing a children's health insurance bill.

He took aim at the "notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems" and warned against the idea that the economic crisis could be tackled with "half steps, and piecemeal measures and tinkering around the edges."

Obama also faulted unnamed opponents he said believe "that we can ignore the fundamental challenges like the high cost of healthcare and still expect our economy and country to thrive."

"I reject these theories, and by the way so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change," the president said, in his most edgy partisan language in his two weeks in office.

Meanwhile, guess who is emerging as the face of the opposition in the Senate? John "Defeated in the Last Election" McCain. He had this to say about the bill:

"No bill is better than this bill, because it increases the deficit by over a trillion dollars," Senator McCain told CBS News, a day after Democratic leaders sent signals that they did not yet have the votes to pass the measure.

Really? No bill? And who might be blamed for the tanking economy if no bill passes? That's right: Republicans. Oh, and the spineless Democrats, led by the even more spineless Harry Reid, who purportedly form the Congressional majority. As this post by Tommy Christopher over at Political Machine puts it:

I had to chuckle a little when I saw Matt Lewis' similarly titled article (actually, it was less a chuckle, and more of a singular "Ha!"), because I was preparing to blast Senate Democrats for their utter lack of balls. As my trip to the inauguration proved, Democrats are more than willing to dance at them, but completely disinterested in having any of their own.

The Huffington Post reports that Senate Democrats are wandering around, decrying their lack of votes to pass the stimulus plan...

Only they don't need 60 votes. All they need is for Harry Reid to do his job and impose the old fashioned fillibuster rules. Which Republican will be willing to take the bait? And if they don't, the bill would pass on a straight up or down vote. Grow a pair, Dems.

Meanwhile, Obama floats an op-ed, reiterating his opposition to old, stale, failed tax cut policy.


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posted by JReid @ 8:12 AM  
The 'other,' quiet Obama whoopsie
Apparently, in addition to all the tax foul ups during the cabinet fill-out, Team O managed to dis General Tony Zinni... though the fault seems to lie in Hillaryland... The rub:
When retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni told the Washington Times that he was offered the job of U.S. ambassador to Iraq before being passed over in favor of diplomat Christopher Hill, he did not say that one of the outrages of the experience was that his friend of 30 years, fellow former Marine Corps commandant and now national security advisor James L. Jones, had offered him the job, and then failed to tell him when the decision was changed.
Oops. Apparently, there was cussing...

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posted by JReid @ 1:01 AM  
The madness of Dick Cheney
He has been described as a comic book villain, a character out of a Kafka novel, and even Darth Vader, but who would have thought he was also Punxtatawney Dick, rearing his ugly head on a chilly day in February and seeing the shadow of fear ... yes, lovely, beautiful, marvelous fear...!!! Cheney, who many former colleagues say they don't even recognize as the guy they knew from the Ford administration, jumps straight off the deep end in an interview with Politico, accusing the Obama administration of caring more about the comfort of terrorists than the safety of the country, and warning of dire consequences (yes, he means terror attacks) if Team Obama stops renditioning, torturing and spying on people. Watch, listen, and DESPAIR!



And enjoy some prime Cheney quotes:
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

And who can forget this gem:
“The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”

Oh, and Politico's team, which apparently emerged from the interview surprisingly unscarred by primordial ooze, reports:
He expressed confidence that files will some day be publicly accessible offering specific evidence that waterboarding and other policies he promoted — over sharp internal dissent from colleagues and harsh public criticism — were directly responsible for averting new Sept. 11-style attacks.

Not content to wait for a historical verdict, Cheney said he is set to plunge into his own memoirs, feeling liberated to describe behind-the-scenes roles over several decades in government now that the “statute of limitations has expired” on many of the most sensitive episodes.

I think I have a title for the book: "Burn Before Reading..."

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posted by JReid @ 12:34 AM  
Shalalawalla Washington?
With Tom Daschle out as HHS chief, it's going to be tough to find someone with his unique skill set (knowledge of healthcare plight plus knowledge of buried bodies on the Hill...) Rumor has it Team Obama may be considering bringing back yet another Clinton administration figure: University of Miami President Donna Shalala. She surely deserves to be on the short list, and UM is a premier medical educational institution. Apparently, HoDo and B.O. are not tight, to say the least, so there will likely be no Dean scream in the Health and Human Services department, which might not be so bad, since I'm not sure how effective Dean would be at wrangling the Hill. Still, liberals would love to have him.

Others apparently in contention include Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen.

The bigger problem, however, will be replacing Daschle's potential Cap Hill mojo. As TIME's Karen Tumulty puts it:
it is probably more important to watch what happens with the second job that Daschle had been slated to hold — that of head of a new White House Office of Health Reform. Thus far, Administration officials have not been willing to say if that White House job will even exist in the wake of Daschle's decision to end his bid for health secretary amid reports that he had failed to pay $128,000 of income taxes on time. But that White House office was where Daschle's expertise and clout would have mattered the most. While his former deputy Jeanne Lambrew is widely respected for her policy knowledge, no one still there has Daschle's savvy and connections for shepherding legislation through the Senate, where the likes of Ted Kennedy and Max Baucus have their own strongly held notions of what reform should look like. His stature and close relationship with Obama also would have helped fight the impulses of some in the Administration — including chief economic adviser Larry Summers — to delay the push for health reform until after the economy gets fixed.
In short, we may soon be thanking the New York Times editorial board for killing healthcare reform...

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posted by JReid @ 12:13 AM  
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
What's actually in the stimulus plan
Tired of getting your stimulus information from Rush Limbaugh? Here's what the stimulus package really contains, state by state. Download the file here. The Florida goody bag is as follows:
AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT PLAN:
THE IMPACT FOR FLORIDA


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy for the 21st century. Across the country, this plan will help businesses create jobs and families afford their bills while laying a foundation for future economic growth in key areas like health care, clean energy, education and a 21st century infrastructure. In Florida, this plan will deliver immediate, tangible impacts, including:

• Creating or saving 218,300 jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a
range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector.

[Source: White House Estimate based on Romer and Bernstein, “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” January 9, 2009.]

• Providing a making work pay tax cut of up to $1,000 for 6,890,000 workers and
their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President’s Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers’ paychecks. [Source: White House Estimate based on IRS Statistics of Income]

• Making 195,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide – and 195,000 families in Florida – new assistance to put college within their reach. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Census data]

• Offering an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to
761,000 workers in Florida who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing
extended unemployment benefits to an additional 170,000 laid-off workers. [Source: National Employment Law Project]

• Providing funding sufficient to modernize at least 485 schools in Florida so our
children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy. [Source: White House Estimate]

In addition to this immediate assistance for Florida, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will help transform our economy by:

• Doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years, creating enough
renewable energy to power 6 million American homes.

• Computerizing every American’s health record in five years, reducing medical
errors and saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

• Launching the most ambitious school modernization program on record, sufficient
to upgrade 10,000 schools.

• Enacting the largest investment increase in our nation’s roads, bridges and mass
transit systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s.
No wonder Miss Charlie is down for it...

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posted by JReid @ 3:57 PM  
Obama plan will limit executive pay
Score one for the fabulous Claire McCaskill. Obama has adopted her plan (which, to be fair, was first proposed by Bernie Sanders...) From the IHT:
The Obama administration is expected to impose a cap of $500,000 on the compensation of top executives at companies that receive large amounts of federal bailout money, according to people familiar with the plan.

Under new rules to be announced by the Treasury Department as early as Wednesday, executives would also be prohibited from receiving any bonuses above their base pay, except for normal stock dividends.

The new rules would be far tougher than any restrictions imposed during the Bush administration, and they could force executives in the months ahead to accept deep reductions in their current pay.

Executives at companies that have already received money from Treasury Department would not have to make any changes. But analysts and administration officials are bracing for a huge wave of new losses, largely because of the deepening recession, and many companies that have already received federal aid may be seeking more.

The rub:
Under the Treasury's $700 billion rescue program, most companies that have received money so far have been considered "healthy" rather than on the brink of collapse.

But five of the biggest companies that got federal aid – Citigroup, Bank of America and American International Group, General Motors and Chrysler -- were all facing acute problems. And top executives at those companies made far more than $500,000 annually in recent years.

Kenneth Lewis, the chief executive of Bank of America, made more than $20 million in 2007. Of that, $5.75 million was in salary and bonuses.

Vikram Pandit, who became chief executive of Citigroup in December of 2007 and previously held other senior positions at the bank, made $3.1 million.

Richard Wagoner, the chief executive of General Motors, made $14.4 million, much of it in stock, options and other non-cash benefits. He earned a $1.6 million annual salary.

"That is pretty draconian — $500,000 is not a lot of money, particularly if there is no bonus," said James Reda, founder and managing director of James F. Reda & Associates, a compensation consulting firm. "And you know these companies that are in trouble are not going to pay much of an annual dividend."
Not a lot of money? Get over yourselves. If you want tax dollars, no more free lunch. By the way, the plan is $100,000 more generous than what McCaskill or Sanders proposed, which was to cap the salaries of the hat in hand crowd at what the president makes.

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posted by JReid @ 8:54 AM  
Charlie Crist says: 'show me the money!'
Sheeeit, Florida's got a deficit, man! So Miss Charlie is backing (ahem) the stimulus plan, as are most of the nation's governors, R and D (and Ahnold, too.) See, governors are actually seeing the economic shitstorm close up, and many of them, including Crist, have balanced budget amendments that are forcing them to make deep cuts to things like education and health care. Bottom line: anything that puts money back into bleeding state coffers is welcome. Watch this MSNBC segment and by the way, tell me you don't think this guy is running for Senate...



Charlie Crist won the governorship with about 18 percent of the black vote, and a not insignificant share of white Democrats. Now that he's through auditioning to be John McCain's running mate, he has ditched the "drill here" crap and is returning to the bipartisan themes that got him in the door. Of course, Crist does have problems, including a certain European junket, and despite the wife, he's still gay. But the old model of red meat winger doesn't win beyond House races, and this guy has already proved he can win statewide. My take: he's running.

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posted by JReid @ 8:36 AM  
Obama: 'I screwed up'
Barack Obama mans up on the tax dodgin' nominees:



Refreshing candor, for what should at best be a one week story.

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posted by JReid @ 8:29 AM  
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Don't tell the wingers! ... '24' isn't real...


Keifer Sutherland responds to charges that the violent interrogations on the hit show '24' -- which most right wingers believe is a documentary -- are influencing real military people to do real torture. He tells the Guardian:

"What Jack Bauer does is all in the context of a television show," Sutherland begins, very slowly and deliberately, in the grainy register of a heavy smoker. He looks unexpectedly slight, and a little tired, but his engagement is direct and considered. "I always have to remind people of this. We're making a television programme. We're utilising certain devices for drama. And it's good drama. And I love this drama! As an actor I have had an absolute blast doing it. You sit in a room and put a gun to a guy's knee and say, 'Tell me!' Oh, you feel so amazing after that!

"But I know it's not real. The other actor certainly knows it's not real. And up until a year ago, everybody else knew it wasn't real."

Or did they...?

In 2007 it was reported that a delegation from West Point had visited the set of 24 to tell producers that their portrayal of torture was seriously affecting military training. Cadets love 24, a general explained, "and they say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24?'" A former US army interrogator told them he'd seen soldiers in Iraq "watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they've just seen". Their claims were corroborated by a book last year by Philippe Sands about interrogation techniques at Guantánamo Bay, in which military officials cited 24 as an inspiration for early "brainstorming meetings". Bauer, one officer admitted, "gave people a lot of ideas".

Sutherland is a Democrat and says he longs for the day when Bauer's interrogation techniques "go back to being a figment of someone's imagination, as opposed to mirroring things that are in fact happening across the world". Authenticity, however, has always been central to 24's appeal. Just a week before President Obama announced that he was going to close Guantánamo Bay, the latest series opened with the counter-terrorism unit disbanded, and Bauer facing indictment for torture. "The world is changing," Sutherland smiles, "and season seven deals with that. It deals with Jack Bauer in a world that's changing where he is obsolete."

But the charge is that life has been imitating art, mirroring what it saw on 24. When I put it to Sutherland, the smile quickly thins, and he begins to look annoyed.

"First off, I'm just going to tell you outright, the problem is not 24. To try and correlate from what's happening on a television show to what the military is doing in the real world, I think that's ridiculous." Does he mean he doesn't believe the reports of 24's influence? "Well I haven't read all those reports. But if that's actually happening, then the problem that you have in the US military is massive. If your ethics in the military, in your training, is going to be counterminded by a one-hour weekly television show we've got a really big problem." His growl grows heavy with contempt. "If you can't tell the difference between reality and what's happening on a made-up TV show, and you're correlating that back to how to do your job in the real world, that's a big, big problem."

Yes, a problem ... indeed... so let's get to the good stuff: is Jack Bauer a Republican? Oh wait, hold on ... let me make sure Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck aren't listening in on the George W. Bush listening devices embedded in my Mac screen ... okay ... we're good. Go on:

24's creator, Joel Surnow, who has described himself as a "rightwing nut job", has certainly given the impression of being not unhappy if 24 impacts on public opinion, saying: "America wants the war on terror fought by Jack Bauer. He's a patriot." The Fox executive who bought the show has said candidly, "There's definitely a political attitude on the show, which is that extreme measures are sometimes necessary for the greater good. Joel's politics suffuse the whole show." The essential message of 24 is not just that torture can be morally justifiable, but, more importantly, that it works. And in the absence of other more accurate sources of information in American popular culture, it's hardly surprising if the viewing public believes it.

Sutherland repeatedly invokes the phrase "in the context of a television programme", and stresses, "this is a drama", but there are moments when exactly who is confusing TV and reality is unclear. "Jack Bauer," he asserts, "is to me an apolitical character." Really? "Well, can you tell me if Jack Bauer is a Democrat or a Republican?" I would say he's clearly a Republican. "Absolutely not!" Sutherland flashes back triumphantly. "Not a chance." Why not? "Because I'm not a Republican, and I created the character." If Bauer is supposed to be pure make-believe, then surely Sutherland's personal politics are beside the point? I get the impression that the only really consistent thread in the logic of his defence of 24 might be an intellectual motto of "Whatever it takes".

Indeed... What is that saying about denial and a river in Egypt? The truth of the matter is that right wingers DO believe that '24' is a realistic depiction of the so-called "war on terror," or at least, a depiction of the way it should be. The love of torture, the really un-American embrace of it, has become a key component of the "conservative" ideology. Keifer can say whatever he wants, but the evidence is there, including the fact that the right's chattering classes fuel such beliefs among the dim Palinites who listen to them. Whatever it takes.

Read the whole Guardian article here.



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posted by JReid @ 6:06 PM  
Five things I admit I really don't care about
Call me a horrible person if you want, but these are the things I could do without, news-wise...

1. Tom Daschle's tax problems.
Sure, he was forced to withdraw his name from the HHS nomination spot, but why? Whether or not he paid taxes for a car somebody loaned him, has much less to do with the job he sought than Tim Geithner's tax problems had to do with his new job; in fact, they had nothing to do with it. Besides, Daschle was uniquely qualified for the job, which will involve muscling a universal healthcare plan through a Congress where he knows where the bodies are buried. Now that he's gone, next stop, (Dr.) Howard Dean? And does the New York Times now hold the whip hand over Obama nominations?

2. Michael Phelps' drug use. Oooh, a 23-year-old guy who used pot? Knock me over with a feather. His endorsers are right to stick with him. There's a lot worse he could have done, given the state of professional athletics these days. Besides, the guy who caught the winning touchdown pass in the Superbowl? He sold drugs for a short time in the tough neighborhood of Belle Glade. Does that make him any less a football hero?

3. Bank failures. President Obama issued yet another dire warning this week about more possible bank failures. Well ... you know where I am right now? I'm at the "let them fail" stage. Americans forked out $350 billion to banks who spent the last two decades creating liars loans, worthless, overpriced derivatives, and ephemoral, paper "wealth" that sucked in scads of pensioners and 401K holders. Now that they have our money, the bastards are hoarding it, giving it out in bonuses and dividends, and even partying with it. So you know what? The next time a bank comes whining to Washington saying they're on the brink of failure, I think Congress and the president should tell them, "see ya. Wouldn't wanna be ya."

4. Ann Coulter. Why are major news outlets like NBC and CBS paying a whit of attention to her? She's obnoxious, not very smart, not very interesting, and damned if she's not a really skinny bitch...

5. Bipartisanship. What's the point? Barack Obama has done everything but buy wedding rings for the House and Senate GOP, and all he's gotten for his trouble has been a Super Bowl party dis from Arizona jerks John McCain and John Kyl, zero GOP votes for the stimulus bill in the House, and endless warbling for more and more and more tax cuts. Republicans need to learn a valuable lesson that they themselves taught Democrats for six years, from 2000 to 2006: he who wins the election rules the day. A majority of Americans voted AGAINST the endless tax cuts for the rich that the GOP is still hawking. They voted FOR Obama's and the Democrats' policies. So guess whose "ideas" should be implemented? Hm? Come on... you know which ones...! Bottom line: let it go, Barack. As Rachel Maddow said last night, they're just not that into you.



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posted by JReid @ 4:42 PM  
Monday, February 02, 2009
Gelber gets a progressive nod
A banner ad right atop the Huffpo endorses Dan Gelber as the "progressive choice"(according to the folks at Down With Tyranny, anyway...) for Florida's soon-to-be-open Senate seat:
With all the ugliness and sleaze surrounding the appointments of new senators in Illinois and New York, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Delaware and Colorado, it's refreshing to see Florida cranking up for a good old fashioned election-- you know, where voters decide who the senator should be. In the afterglow of McCain's loss in the Sunshine State (plus the loss of two GOP congressional incumbents, a state legislature that is turning less and less red every year, and some sketchy-looking polls) conservative Republican incumbent Mel Martinez decided to retire in 2010.

The first choices among party Insiders-- Jeb Bush for Repugs and Alex Sink for Democrats-- have passed on the opportunity. That leaves the race wide open for both party primaries. This morning the hopes of Florida progressives was answered when state Senator Dan Gelber tossed his hat into the ring.

Dan isn't well-known outside of Florida but he is far better known in his state than most local legislators. That's because until November-- when he was elected to the state Senate-- he was the Democratic Minority Leader of the state House. And a very outspoken one at that. Before that he worked as a federal prosecutor, mostly on corruption and civil rights cases. He worked in the U.S. Senate as the staff director of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations under Sam Nunn (D-GA).
It's very true that Gelber isn't that well known, and that Meek will have the advantage of Steve Hildebrand's turnout machine (which he used on behalf of Barack Obama in the recent election.) It remains to be seen if the Meek people can turn the Obama excitement into excitement for them. (Personally, I rather doubt that the Obama phenomenon can be recreated for anybody but Barack, but I'll wait and see how they roll it out. BTW check out the comments at the bottom of the DWT post. Brutal...) As for Gelber, he seems like a longshot to me, but then again, in a wide open race, a progressive candidate will have a shot. Another disadvantage though, he will be up against two major political machines: the Meek machine, and the Clinton machine. The former president was in town last week raising $300k for Kendrick. And the campaign, according to sources, hopes to raise more than $25 million for the run. Can Gelber match that with the help of the left end of the blogosphere? We shall see.

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posted by JReid @ 4:33 PM  
Michael Steele's can't miss, surefire GOP rebuilding strategy
If he's true to his old form, he'll just smile a lot and pretend to be a Democrat... He could even send out deceptively cryptic voter guides to black people, and do commercials where he never says the word "Republican!"

Either that or he could just trot out the same tired Republican policies but start palling around with Sarah Palin...

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posted by JReid @ 4:16 PM  
The cost of 'liberation': about 1 million Iraqis dead
George W. Bush will probably go to his grave spouting neocon claptrap about being the great liberator of Iraq -- about the more than 4,000 dead from American forces alone (more than were killed in the World Trade Center and Pentagon, plus United 93 combined, on 9/11...) was well worth it because we, the Americans, "liberated" Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Well, I wonder how the Iraqis feel about their "liberation." And how will they feel as the death toll is counted?

The numbers are shocking, though not unexpected. Alternet reports that in counting the war's human costs:
We have a better grasp of the human costs of the war. For example, the United Nations estimates that there are about 4.5 million displaced Iraqis -- more than half of them refugees -- or about one in every six citizens. Only 5 percent have chosen to return to their homes over the past year, a period of reduced violence from the high levels of 2005-07. The availability of healthcare, clean water, functioning schools, jobs and so forth remains elusive. According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 percent of children in Basra, and more than 70 percent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

The mortality caused by the war is also high. Several household surveys were conducted between 2004 and 2007. While there are differences among them, the range suggests a congruence of estimates. But none have been conducted for eighteen months, and the two most reliable surveys were completed in mid-2006. The higher of those found 650,000 "excess deaths" (mortality attributable to war); the other yielded 400,000. The war remained ferocious for twelve to fifteen months after those surveys were finished and then began to subside. Iraq Body Count, a London NGO that uses English-language press reports from Iraq to count civilian deaths, provides a means to update the 2006 estimates. While it is known to be an undercount, because press reports are incomplete and Baghdad-centric, IBC nonetheless provides useful trends, which are striking. Its estimates are nearing 100,000, more than double its June 2006 figure of 45,000. (It does not count nonviolent excess deaths -- from health emergencies, for example -- or insurgent deaths.) If this is an acceptable marker, a plausible estimate of total deaths can be calculated by doubling the totals of the 2006 household surveys, which used a much more reliable and sophisticated method for estimates that draws on long experience in epidemiology. So we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million "excess deaths" as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war.

This gruesome figure makes sense when reading of claims by Iraqi officials that there are 1-2 million war widows and 5 million orphans. This constitutes direct empirical evidence of total excess mortality and indirect, though confirming, evidence of the displaced and the bereaved and of general insecurity. The overall figures are stunning: 4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows, 5 million orphans, about 1 million dead -- in one way or another, affecting nearly one in two Iraqis.
Meanwhile, the Iraqis are becoming more like us every day. Turnout in the recent national elections was only about 50 percent. According to AfterDowningStreet, the coming victory of Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa Party is seen by Iraqis as the best option to end the American occupation. But the turnout also reflected a dispirited nation:

Interviews suggest that the low voter turnout also is an indication of Iraqi disenchantment with a democracy that, so far, has brought them very little.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and the fall of a brutal dictator, Iraqis witnessed unprecedented violence in their nation and what they believe is humiliation under a foreign occupation. Even on Saturday, U.S. tanks could be spotted across Baghdad on largely empty roads.

Following elections in 2005 Iraq spiraled into a sectarian war. People cowered in their homes while others literally killed each other in the streets. Many here feel the people they elected were party to or were at least complicit in the violence. The security forces too were feared as sectarian death squads and Iraqis also believed that American raids or passing U.S. tanks sometimes resulted in innocent civilian deaths.

Many blame the U.S. presence in Iraq for sowing the seeds of sectarianism by bringing back exiles to rule them.
And still more evidence of the Bush-Americanization of Iraq:
Beyond the disillusionment, thousands of potential voters were unable to cast ballots Saturday because official voter lists did not contain their names. Street protests resulted.
Has anybody seen Karl Rove, and does he have an alibi...?

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posted by JReid @ 3:59 PM  
The right wing reader: the charms of the old slave south
This is what it's come to. The latest Human Events dispatch offers conservative readers the chance to relive the magic of the Confederacy, without the "politically correct" spin of the carpetbagger liberals up north. From my in-box this morning:

Dear Fellow Conservative:

The politically correct history that dominates our schools and universities today insists that Jefferson Davis was another Hitler, Robert E. Lee was another Rommel, and the Confederate States of America were our own version of the Third Reich - a blot on American history.

But reality was different: the Old South, as H. W. Crocker III explains in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War, had slavery, but also immense charm, grace and merit - not to mention a very strong Constitutional case.

So ... aside from the human bondage, forced breeding, rape and designation of a whole class of people as property, the south was a mint julep filled ... wonderland??? Read on!

Now, for a limited time, HUMAN EVENTS is making The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War available to you absolutely FREE in a limited-edition hardcover.

In your FREE hardcover copy of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War, you'll find among many intriguing items:

  • That secession was legal

  • That the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave

  • That leading Northern generals - like McLellan and Sherman - hated abolitionists

  • That bombing people "back to the Stone Age" got its start with the Federal siege of Vicksburg

  • That Stonewall Jackson founded a Sunday school for slaves where he taught them how to read [No, seriously, they actually put this in the email... seriously...]

  • That General James Longstreet fought the Battle of Sharpsburg in his carpet slippers

  • That if the South had won, we might be able to enjoy holidays in the sunny Southern state of Cuba

CLICK HERE to get your FREE hardcover copy of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War today.

Sincerely,

Thomas S. Winter
Editor in Chief, HUMAN EVENTS

Now see? If only the south had won the war! We'd have Cuba as our 51st state, and all those darling Negros would be learning to read in Stonewall Jackson Academies for the Betterment of Chattel instead of prancing around chainless, like they're better than you because one of "their kind" is president! Damned freedom. It ruins everything...


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posted by JReid @ 8:13 AM  
By the way... Jennifer Hudson rocked the anthem
Faith Hill was very, very good, so kudos to her. But JHud made one hell of a re-introduction to the spotlight after a tough 2008. Her version of the National Anthem may have just knocked Whitney's previously "best" version (which was vocally perfect, btw,) right out of the box. She improved on her terrific performance of the song in Denver (And she looked great.) Listen:



If that doesn't melt your face off, you're just dead inside...

Other faves: besides Whitney, Marvin Gaye in '83, baby.

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posted by JReid @ 12:08 AM  
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Dear Harry: Don't be a wuss. Make the bastards filibuster
If Republicans, led by the eyebrowless Mitch McConnell plan to try and derail the economic stimulus bill in the Senate to try and stick the Democrats up for more Bushian tax cuts for the rich, here's an idea, Harry: make them filibuster it, the old fashioned way. In other words, no wimpy cloture vote. If they want to filibuster, make the bastards stand in the well of the Senate for as many hours as they're willing to talk. Just like their Democratic forebears did in efforts to stop civil rights legislation in the 1960s (before they all jumped ship and became Republicans.)

Do it, Harry. Don't be a pansy.

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posted by JReid @ 11:31 PM  
CONGRATULATIONS, STEELER NATION!
Barack's team beats McCain's team in Super Bowl XLIII ... but barely ... going in I had called it Steelers 24, Cardinals 17. In the end it was 27-23. The Cardinals played a lot better than I expected. They were better on the pass rush, better offensively in general in my opinion, more in control during their possessions and their defensive and offensive lines were just superior to Pitt's. And what was with the officials??? They were on camera almost as much as the players! Waaaay too many calls guys... But no matter. In the end, as coach Mike Tomlin (a proud William and Mary College grad, and now the youngest man to coach in or win a Superbowl,) said after the game, it may not be pretty, and it may take a full 60 minutes of football, but in the end, the Steelers got it done, and they're now the winningest franchise in NFL history with six rings.

GREAT GAME! ... and what a spectacular catch at the end by Santonio Holmes!

Santonio Holmes, the game's MVP, celebrates the big win.

Call the Bolshoi! Holmes catch was a thing of beauty.

Big Ben Rothlisberger becomes the 10th QB to win multiple titles, and an all-but certain Hall of Famer. He now has two titles, as does my boy John Elway, who has a pair with THE Denver Broncos, plus Joe Montana (who has 4, with SF), Terry Bradshaw (also 4, with the Steelers,) Tom Brady (3, NE), Troy Aikman (3, Dallas), Roger Staubach (2 with the Cowboys), Bob Griese (2 with the Dolphins), Bart Starr (2 in the first two Superbowls ever, I think, with the Green Bay Packers), and Jim Plunkett (2 with the Oakland Raiders back in the 70s.)

Coach Mike Tomlin stayed calm all game long, then finally let loose.

Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who gave the then 32-year-old
Tomlin a shot in 2007, without the Rooney rule, btw, does some
much-deserved celebrating of his own.

Troy Polamalu with his adorable baby.
With all that hair, you definitely need a ring to go with it!


Kurt Warner played a hell of a game, and afterward,
sounded like a man ready to walk away for good. And
Yes, he should be in the Hall of Fame.

More pics at Yahoo! News.

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posted by JReid @ 10:48 PM  
Isn't it ironic...
That Michael Steele won the RNC chairmanship, after six ballots, by beating a guy who recently quit a whites only country club, where he had been a member for 12 years...? Hell, even the wingers saw the flaw in that...

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posted by JReid @ 2:18 PM  
Nice job, John Kerry
John Kerry did an outstanding job this morning on "Meet the Press," knocking down David Gregory's absurd "stipulation" that no one knows whether tax cuts or government spending make for superior stimulus (Kerry said "I won't stipulate to that at all," then pointed out that we've had eight years of Bush tax cuts plus neglect of our infrastructure and look what we've got to show for it...) and he slapped down Kay Bailey Hutchinson's talking points about the stimulus bill needing to incorporate Republican tax cut philosophy. Said Kerry: "we are not duty bound to accept something with which we fundamentally disagree." He added that when it comes to bipartisanship, President Obama has met with the GOP caucus, while he said he couldn't recall in eight years, President Bush meeting with Democrats on the Hill.

Waiting for the transcript to post.

Meanwhile, Gregory was true to form, quoting of all people, the right wing Heritage Foundation, for his facts on the deficit.

UPDATE: Here's the video:


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posted by JReid @ 12:57 PM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
Listen now:


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