Saturday, January 31, 2009
HERE’S a bottom line to keep you up at night: The economy is falling faster than Washington can get moving. President Obama says his stimulus plan will save or create four million jobs in two years. In the last four months of 2008 alone, employment fell by 1.9 million.
Do the math. The abyss is widening. Of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial index, 22 have announced job cuts since October. Unemployment is up in all 50 states, with layoffs at both high-tech companies (Microsoft) and low (Caterpillar). The December job loss in retailing is the worst since at least 1939. The new-home sales rate has fallen to its all-time low since record-keeping began in 1963.
What are Americans still buying? Big Macs, Campbell’s soup, Hershey’s chocolate and Spam — the four food groups of the apocalypse.
The crisis is at least as grave as the one that confronted us — and, for a time, united us — after 9/11. Which is why the antics among Republicans on Capitol Hill seem so surreal. These are the same politicians who only yesterday smeared the patriotism of any dissenters from Bush’s “war on terror.” Where is their own patriotism now that economic terror is inflicting far more harm on their constituents than Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent W.M.D.?
The House stimulus bill is an inevitably imperfect hodgepodge-in-progress. Obama’s next move, a new plan to prevent the collapse of America’s banks, may prove more problematic still, especially given the subpar record of the new Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, in warding off calamity while at the New York Fed. No one should expect the Republicans to give the new president carte blanche, fall blindly into lock step or be “post-partisan.” (Though that’s exactly what the G.O.P. demanded of Democrats with Bush: You were either with him or with the terrorists.)
But you might think that a loyal opposition would want to pitch in and play a serious role at a time of national peril. Not by singing “Kumbaya” but by collaborating on possible solutions and advancing a policy debate that many Americans’ lives depend on. As Raymond Moley, of F.D.R.’s brain trust, said of the cross-party effort at the harrowing start of that presidency in March 1933, Hoover and Roosevelt acolytes “had forgotten to be Republicans or Democrats” as they urgently tried to rescue their country.
The current G.O.P. acts as if it — and we — have all the time in the world. It kept hoping in vain that the fast-waning Blago sideshow would somehow impale Obama or Rahm Emanuel. It has come perilously close to wishing aloud that a terrorist attack will materialize to discredit Obama’s reversals of Bush policy on torture, military tribunals and Gitmo. The party’s sole consistent ambition is to play petty politics to gum up the works.
If anything, the Republican Congressional leadership seems to be emulating John McCain’s September stunt of “suspending” his campaign to “fix” the Wall Street meltdown. For all his bluster, McCain in the end had no fixes to offer and sat like a pet rock at the White House meeting on the crisis before capitulating to the bailout. His imitators likewise posture in public about their determination to take action, then do nothing while more and more Americans cry for help.
The problem is not that House Republicans gave the stimulus bill zero votes last week. That’s transitory political symbolism, and it had no effect on the outcome. Some of the naysayers will vote for the revised final bill anyway (and claim, Kerry-style, that they were against it before they were for it). The more disturbing problem is that the party has zero leaders and zero ideas. It is as AWOL in this disaster as the Bush administration was during Katrina.
If the country wasn’t suffering, the Republicans’ behavior would be a laugh riot. The House minority leader, John Boehner, from the economic wasteland of Ohio, declared on “Meet the Press” last Sunday that the G.O.P. didn’t want to be “the party of ‘No’ ” but “the party of better ideas, better solutions.” And what are those ideas, exactly? He said he’ll get back to us “over the coming months.”
His deputy, the Virginia congressman Eric Cantor, has followed the same script, claiming that the G.O.P. will not be “the party of ‘No’ ” but will someday offer unspecified “solutions and alternatives.” Not to be left out, the party’s great white hope, Sarah Palin, unveiled a new political action committee last week with a Web site also promising “fresh ideas.” But as the liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga observed, the site invites visitors to make donations and read Palin hagiography while offering no links to any ideas, fresh or otherwise.
For its own contribution to this intellectual void, the Republican National Committee convened last week under a new banner, “Republican for a Reason.” Perhaps that unidentified reason will be determined by a panel of judges on a TV reality show. It had better be brilliant given that only five states (with 20 total electoral votes) now lean red in party affiliation, according to Gallup. At this rate the G.O.P. will be in Alf Landon territory by 2012.
The Republicans do have one idea, of course, but it’s hardly fresh: more and bigger tax cuts, particularly for business and the well-off. That’s the sum of their “alternative” stimulus plan. Obama has tried to accommodate this panacea, perhaps to a fault. Mainstream economists in both parties believe that tax cuts in the stimulus package will deliver far less bang for the buck than, say, infrastructure spending. The tax-cut stimulus embraced a year ago by the G.O.P. induced next-to-no consumer spending as Americans merely banked the savings or paid down debt.
We also now know conclusively that the larger Bush tax cuts, besides running up record deficits and exacerbating income inequality, were also at best a placebo on our road to ruin. In a January survey of economists, including former McCain advisers like Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Mark Zandi, The Washington Post determined that the job growth the Bush administration kept bragging about (“52 straight months!”) was a mirage inflated by the housing bubble. Job growth — about 2 percent — was in fact the most tepid of any eight-year period “since data collection began seven decades ago.” Gross domestic product grew at a slower pace than in any eight years since the Truman administration.
But even if tax cuts alone could jump-start a recovery, they couldn’t do the heavy lifting that Obama has promised and the country desperately needs: a down payment on a new economy to replace our dilapidated 20th-century model and bring back long-term growth. The Republicans don’t acknowledge the need for this transformation, or debate it in good conscience, preferring instead to hyperventilate over the contraceptives in a small family-planning program since removed from the stimulus bill. All it takes is the specter of condoms for the party of Vitter, Foley and Craig to go gaga.
The Republicans’ other preoccupation remains Rush Limbaugh, who is by default becoming their de facto leader. While most Americans are fearing fear itself, G.O.P. politicians are tripping over themselves in morbid terror of Rush.
These pratfalls commenced after Obama casually told some Republican congressmen (correctly) that they won’t “get things done” if they take their orders from Limbaugh. That’s all the stimulus the big man needed to go on a new bender of self-aggrandizement. He boasted that Obama is “more frightened” of him than he is of the Republican leaders in the House or Senate. He said of the new president, “I hope he fails.”
Obama no doubt finds Limbaugh’s grandiosity more amusing than frightening, but G.O.P. politicians are shaking like Jell-O. When asked by Andrea Mitchell of NBC News on Wednesday if he shared Limbaugh’s hope that Obama fails, Eric Cantor spun like a top before running off, as it happened, to appear on Limbaugh’s radio show. Mike Pence of Indiana, No. 3 in the Republican House leadership, similarly squirmed when asked if he agreed with Limbaugh. Though the Republicans’ official, poll-driven line is that they want Obama to succeed, they’d rather abandon that disingenuous nicety than cross Rush.
Most pathetic of all was Phil Gingrey, a right-wing Republican congressman from Georgia, who mildly criticized both Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to Politico because they “stand back and throw bricks” while lawmakers labor in the trenches. So many called Gingrey’s office to complain that the poor congressman begged Limbaugh to bring him on air to publicly recant on Wednesday. As Gingrey abjectly apologized to talk radio’s commandant for his “stupid comments” and “foot-in-mouth disease,” he sounded like the inmate in a B-prison-movie cowering before the warden after a failed jailbreak.
“It’s up to me to hijack the Obama honeymoon,” Limbaugh soon gloated, “and I’ve done it.” In his dreams. He has hijacked what’s left of the Republican Party; the Obama honeymoon remains intact. The nightmare is that we have so irrelevant, clownish and childish an opposition party at a moment when America is in an all-hands-on-deck emergency that’s as trying as war. To paraphrase a dictum that has been variously attributed to two of our most storied leaders in times of great challenge, Thomas Paine and George Patton, the Republicans should either lead, follow or get out of the grown-ups’ way.
Friday, January 30, 2009
A revised version of an AP article made clear that the claim of a "top Republican congressional official" reported in the original version of the article -- that the economic stimulus package being considered in Congress "could steer government checks to illegal immigrants" -- is false. But at no point in the original article did the AP indicate that it had contacted or attempted to contact any Democratic officials -- or anyone else besides the single anonymous Republican official -- to confirm whether the legislation would permit undocumented immigrants to receive tax credits. Read More
On Fox News, Carl Cameron and Laura Ingraham repeated or uncritically reported the false Republican claim -- originating in an AP article -- that, in Cameron's words, the economic stimulus bill would allow "illegal aliens" to claim "tax credits of $500 per person or 1,000 per couple." Cameron and Ingraham advanced the falsehood even after a revised version of the AP article made clear that the bill excludes undocumented immigrants. Read More
The Fox Business Network's Elizabeth MacDonald and David Asman advanced Republican arguments, including those made by two senators appearing on the network, against the economic stimulus bill by promoting or agreeing with the false claim that the bill includes billions of dollars in funds for groups like ACORN. In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Additionally, the bill requires that the $4.19 billion it allocates for "neighborhood stabilization activities" be distributed through competitive processes. Read More
Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that the economic recovery bill, which the House recently passed, "would allow people who don't have Social Security numbers to be eligible" for the bill's Making Work Pay tax credits and would therefore make undocumented immigrants "eligible for checks." In fact, illegal immigrants without Social Security numbers are not eligible for tax credits under the stimulus bill. Read More
Fox News' Bret Baier asserted that Rep. David Obey is "under fire" because the economic stimulus bill provides more than $2 billion for the National Park Service, "the industry for which his son lobbies," and cited a Washington Times article reporting that, in Baier's words, "a spokeswoman for Congressman Obey's office says nepotism was not a factor." But Baier did not mention that the Times article also reported the spokeswoman saying the funding for parks "was included at the request of [Rep.] Norm Dicks." Nor did Baier note that Dicks has repeatedly made similar appropriations requests for national parks in previous appropriations bills. Read More
On Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski suggested that funding for "welfare programs" included in the economic recovery bill would not stimulate the economy. However, economists have said that programs that provide aid to state governments and individuals would, in the words of Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, "have a significant impact on GDP." Read More
Britain's new extreme porn laws could make some comics illegal
Three quarters of women don't orgasm during intercourse, and 12% never orgasm at all. London-based sex therapist Rachel Foux, thinks that men need some help [Web site]
askmen.com publishes its list of the 99 most desirable women in the world
Australian mini-series, Underbelly, has been criticized for its sexually explicit promotional viral video [More]
Kasadie gives 100 ways to tell whether you might be a swinger.
Every since Greys Anatomy featured a patient with a broken penis, the search engines have been busy helping searchers discover the truth
Sunday morning turns out to be the most popular time for people to watch "naughty movies" on cable TV
While Larry Flynt asked the government to bail out the adult industry, some sectors have reported an 87% increase in profits
A US law that tried to regulate porn sites, by making operators require credit cards as proof of ID, in order to protect children, has been rejected as unconstitutional to adults
The sex hormone oestradiol (a form of oestrogen), make some women feel more attractive, and open to serial monogamy
A clip of Gwyneth Paltrow's left breast has been leaked from her next film, Two Lovers [Images]
Money turns on women
Scientists have found that women get more pleasure from a partner who is wealthy
Police arrested a woman for chasing after her boyfriend with a knife, after thinking he was an actor in a porn film they were watching
Miss USA 1991, Kelli McCarty, has decided to quit mainstream movies and try her hand at porn
Obama, who won significant backing from trade unions in his Democratic presidential campaign, said there could not be a strong middle class, the focus of his economic recovery plan, without a strong labor movement.
He signed three executive orders to bolster unions in the workplace and strengthen workers' rights.
"I believe we have to reverse many of the policies toward organized labor that we have seen over the past eight years, policies with which I have sharply disagreed," Obama told a gathering at the White House.
"Labor is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution," he said to loud applause from an audience that included representatives of labor unions and business groups.
On Thursday, Obama denounced as "shameless" lavish Wall Street bonuses for senior financial executives.....
An angry U.S. senator introduced legislation Friday to cap compensation for employees of any company that accepts federal bailout money. Under the terms of a bill introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, no employee would be allowed to make more than the president of the United States.
Obama's current annual salary is $400,000.
The Rush Limbaugh Show
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121
Dear Mr. Limbaugh,
The Associated Press reports your new contract with Premiere Radio Networks will enrich you with at least $38 million a year over the next eight years. You are making this money on the public property of the American people for which you pay no rent.
You, Rush Limbaugh, are on welfare.
As you know, the public airwaves belong to the American people. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to be our trustee in managing this property. The people are the landlords and the radio and TV stations and affiliated companies are the tenants.
The problem is that since the Radio Act of 1927 these corporate tenants have been massively more powerful in Washington, DC than the tens of millions of listeners and viewers. The result has been no payment of rent by the stations for the value of their license to broadcast. You and your company are using the public's valuable property for free. This freeloading on the backs of the American people is called corporate welfare.
It is way past due for the super-rich capitalist -- Rush Limbaugh from Cape Girardeau, Missouri -- to get himself off big time welfare. It is way past due for Rush Limbaugh as the Kingboy of corporatist radio to set a capitalist example for his peers and pay rent to the American people for the very lucrative use of their property...........
$1.2 Billion Contract Won't Be Renewed Following Iraqi Refusal to License U.S. Firm
Blackwater has been fired by the State Department from its job protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq.
Executives of the controversial U.S. security company were notified today by the State Department that its five-year, $1.2 billion contract for services in Iraq will not be renewed in May, U.S. officials tell ABC News. The contract was signed last May and provided yearly options for cancellations.
In a statement, company spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, "The company has always said that the security services we provide in Iraq would be temporary."
The move by the State Department follows the refusal of Iraqi officials to license Blackwater to operate in the country. Officials cited "lingering outrage" over the Sept. 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards that left 17 civilians dead.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris asserted that the economic recovery bill "won't work," in part because "two hundred billion of it is just money to the state. That just stops taxes from going up, but it doesn't stimulate anything." However, economist Mark Zandi testified to Congress that "aid to financially-pressed state governments" is an "economically potent stimulus," and a table provided with his testimony indicated that aid to states would boost GDP by $1.36 for every dollar spent. Similarly, information that the CBO provided to Congress shows that aid to states produces a greater "cumulative impact on GDP" than do tax cuts. Read More
A Drudge Report headline falsely suggested that President Barack Obama is in the process of drafting a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; in fact, the Guardian (London) article to which the headline linked did not report that Obama was addressing a letter directly to Ahmadinejad; rather, it reported that "[t]he letter would be addressed to the Iranian people and sent directly to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or released as an open letter." Read More
USA Today claimed in an article that the "rising cost" of the economic stimulus bill "could be a challenge" for President Barack Obama, noting that a provision intended to "protect about 24 million Americans from paying higher taxes under the alternative minimum tax [AMT]" constituted the "major Senate addition" that increased the bill's cost. However, USA Today did not point out that the amendment was added by Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley. Read More
The Politico reported the GOP claim that "it may take years before the stimulus plan spurs real job growth" and highlighted a video showing "a Joint Committee on Taxation staffer tell[ing] Michigan Rep. Dave Camp that he can't promise that the $275 billion in tax cuts in the stimulus will create any new jobs." In fact, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf has stated of the bill: "According to CBO's estimates, the number of jobs would be between 0.8 million and 2.1 million higher at the end of this year, 1.2 million to 3.6 million higher at the end of next year, and 0.7 million to 2.1 million higher at the end of 2011." Read More
On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly claimed that the food-stamp provision in the economic recovery bill will not stimulate the economy. But economists, including the director of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office and a reported adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, disagree. Read More
The Wall Street Journal printed an op-ed that falsely claimed that the Army Field Manual "prohibits ... good-cop bad-cop routines" when interrogating detainees. The op-ed was criticizing President Barack Obama's executive order stating that a detainee in U.S. custody cannot be subjected to interrogation techniques not listed in the manual. In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of "Mutt and Jeff" interrogations, which involve two interrogators "display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source." Read More
The Wall Street Journal uncritically reported congressional Republicans' criticism of the proposed economic stimulus bill on the grounds "that much of the money in the package wouldn't be spent until 2011 or later, when a recovery is likely to be already under way." The article did not mention that economists, including Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, have said that fiscal stimulus in 2011 or later would be effective in the current economic situation, in which economic output is projected to remain below its potential long after the technical beginning of the recovery. Read More
Karl Rove falsely claimed that the economic stimulus bill would amount to spending "$206,000 for each new job that [President Barack Obama] wants to get," becoming the latest Fox News figure to repeat the false calculation. In fact, by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the recovery bill by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- Rove ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and investments in education, health, and public safety. Read More
Fox News' Trace Gallagher and Brian Wilson cited the "irony" of snowfall in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the U.S. on the day Al Gore testified on global warming before a Senate committee, which Bill Hemmer stated was "making for an inconvenient forecast." But climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate. Read More
Fox News' Gretchen Carlson suggested that President Obama is more "concerned" with Limbaugh than with "the economy" and "Al Qaeda." But the concern Obama reportedly expressed was with congressional Republicans, who he said were "listen[ing] to Rush Limbaugh" and not "get[ting] things done." Read More
Echoing a Republican talking point, Rush Limbaugh asserted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that "[t]he average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they're left alone." But Limbaugh's claim misses the point and misrepresents the reason for the stimulus bill. Economists take the position that an economic stimulus package is necessary, both during the recession and after the economy begins to recover. Read More
On Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy repeated the falsehood that the economic stimulus bill includes "$4 billion for ACORN." In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Read More
CNBC host Erin Burnett asserted that there were "interesting ideas" in Rush Limbaugh's Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing President Obama's economic recovery plan and offering Limbaugh's own suggestions for what should be included in a stimulus plan. Specifically, Burnett said that Limbaugh's suggestions of "cutting the corporate tax" and "slashing capital gains [taxes]" are "serious things to say." But Burnett did not note that many economists do not view corporate and capital gains tax cuts as "serious" or effective methods for stimulating the economy. Read More
On MSNBC Live, Melissa Francis cited what she called the "legitimate" "complaints" of opponents of the economic recovery plan and stated, "Only 64 percent of the money is going to be spent within the next 19 months." Contessa Brewer replied, "And how do you justify that?" However, the CBO director has stated in congressional testimony that unlike ordinary "periods of economic weakness" that "are fairly short-lived," "CBO projects that economic output will remain significantly below its potential for several more years, so policies that provide stimulus for an extended period of time may be appropriate." Read More
Glenn Beck mocked the economic recovery package for including "$2.4 billion for carbon capture demonstration projects," adding, "I don't even know what the hell that is." Had Beck attempted to determine "what the hell" carbon capture is before ridiculing it, he would have learned that the provision funds the development of technology that he has previously criticized "liberals in Congress" for "block[ing]." Read More
A Drudge Report headline stated "HILL REPUBLICAN: STIMULUS GIVES CASH TO ILLEGALS" and linked to an AP article that reported that "[t]he $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants, a top Republican congressional official asserted Thursday." A revised version of the article made clear that the claim is false, but the Drudge Report did not remove the headline and link to the original version of the article until roughly four hours after the new version was available. Read More
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
With a Democrat back in the White House, Rush Limbaugh has wasted no time in hurling false and baseless attacks against President Obama, echoing his slanders and smears of President Clinton, his family, and his administration during the 1990s. Read More
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry asserted that the Congressional Budget Office's cost estimate of the economic stimulus bill "basically says that 52 percent of the money will be spent out over the next 18 months, that some 64, 65 percent of the bill will be paid out over the first two years." However, Henry's calculations are based on outlays only, excluding the plan's tax cut provisions. Including both outlays and tax cuts, the CBO estimated that about 64 percent of the recovery bill would be paid out within 19 months, and about 86 percent by the end of fiscal year 2011. Read More
In an article about the Minnesota Senate election recount trial, the AP reported that "voters testified Tuesday their ballots had been unfairly rejected as Republican Norm Coleman argued thousands of disqualified absentee ballots should be counted in the U.S. Senate race" and quoted one voter who testified that he felt his ballot had been improperly rejected. However, the AP did not note that the testimony of two of those voters reportedly showed that their ballots appear to have been properly rejected. Read More
The Drudge Report featured the headline, "Iran Nuke 'This Year'..." linking to an article on the British-based Sky News website. But contrary to Drudge's headline, the Sky News article did not report that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon this year; it reported that a study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies predicts that sometime in 2009, Iran "will probably reach the point at which it has produced enough low-enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb -- though it would first have to enrich it further." The article quoted the study's author saying that "being able to enrich uranium is not the same as having a nuclear weapon." Read More
Fox News' Carl Cameron falsely claimed of the economic recovery bills: "In both the House and Senate packages, more than half of the money is reserved for at least two years from now, and Republicans argue that that's simply not good enough." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 64 percent of the House version of the recovery bill would be paid out within 19 months, and about 86 percent by the end of fiscal year 2011. Read More
The Hill's Jared Allen repeated the false claim that ACORN is, in Allen's words, a "beneficiar[y] of the stimulus package," and uncritically reported NRCC communications director Ken Spain's false suggestion that the stimulus bill includes "a $4.2 billion bailout" for ACORN. In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Additionally, the bill requires that the $4.19 billion it allocates for "neighborhood stabilization activities" be distributed through competitive processes. Read More
Fox News' Glenn Beck falsely claimed that "[o]nly 3 percent" of the Democratic economic stimulus plan would be "spent in the next 12 months." Beck's figures were based on a partial Congressional Budget Office cost estimate that excluded faster-moving provisions in the bill. According to the CBO's full cost estimate of the bill, 11.2 percent of the $816 billion bill would be spent in the first seven-and-a-half months after the bill is enacted, and, when including the bill's tax cut provisions, $169 billion -- or 20.7 percent of the bill's total cost -- would take effect in the first seven-and-a-half months. Read More
Lou Dobbs falsely claimed on his radio show that "the Congressional Budget Office did a study on the president's so-called economic stimulus package. It says output would be increased somewhere between one and a half, three and a half percent." In fact, the CBO estimated that output would increase "between 1.5 percent and 3.6 percent" in fiscal year 2009 alone and estimated that output would increase as a result of the stimulus package in subsequent years as well. Read More
The Washington Times has recently published several articles misrepresenting a partial Congressional Budget Office analysis of the stimulus bill to support claims that most of the money in the bill would not be spent quickly. But in an article reporting former comptroller general David Walker discussing CBO's analysis of infrastructure spending and a separate article reporting that "[c]ritics say Obama's economic bill lacks stimulus," the Times ignored the conclusion of a more recent CBO analysis of the entire bill that 64 percent of the combined cost of the spending increases and tax cuts in the bill would occur by September 30, 2010. Read More
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh allowed Rep. Eric Cantor to falsely claim of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: "Even the Congressional Budget Office ... says it is not a stimulative bill." In fact, the CBO stated in its January 26 report: "CBO anticipates that implementation of H.R. 1 would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years," while the CBO director said that the bill would "provide massive fiscal stimulus." Read More
In numerous instances, the media have falsely stated or suggested that a CBO analysis of less than half of the economic recovery bill examined the entire bill, resulting in the false suggestion that the analysis, in the words of the Politico, "shows very little money will be spent in the first six or so months after enactment" of the recovery plan. But as the AP noted, the CBO analysis did not "cover tax cuts or efforts by Democrats to provide relief to cash-strapped state governments to help with their Medicaid bills." Six days later, some outlets were still making the false suggestion. Read More
During their coverage and discussion of the economic recovery bill supported by President Obama, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, media figures have advanced several myths and falsehoods relating to the details and effects of the plan. These myths and falsehoods include: the assertion that a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "study" found that the majority of the money in the bill will not be spent for a year and a half; that provisions in the bill to extend food stamps and unemployment insurance payments are "not stimulus"; that President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies failed to reduce unemployment during the Great Depression; that Japan's fiscal stimulus policy during the "lost decade" of the 1990s failed to help it recover from recession; that the bill would spend at least $217,000 for every job created; that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) would receive $4.19 billion from the bill; and that former Labor Secretary and Obama adviser Robert Reich proposed white males should be excluded from jobs created by the bill. Read More
The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Obama administration on Wednesday to release Justice Department memos that provided the legal underpinning for harsh interrogations, eavesdropping and secret prisons.
For years, the Bush administration refused to release them, citing national security, attorney-client privilege and the need to protect the government's deliberative process.
The ACLU's request, however, comes after President Barack Obama last week rescinded a 2001 Justice Department memo that gave agencies broad legal cover to reject public disclosure requests. Obama also urged agencies to be more transparent when deciding what documents to release under the Freedom of Information Act.
The ACLU now sees a new opening.
Union members accounted for 12.4 percent of employed wage and salary workers in 2008, up from 12.1 percent in 2007, said the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That increase meant the number of workers belonging to a union rose by 428,000 to 16.1 million, said the annual report.
There was a slight upturn in the union membership rate in 2007, to 12.1 percent from the 2006 level of 12.0 percent.
Despite two years of increases, unions still represent a much smaller proportion of U.S. workers than they did at their peak of power and influence in the mid-1950s, when about 26 percent of the workforce was unionized.
"It's been a pretty steady decline over the past three decades," said Steve Hipple, an economist at the bureau.
But the latest data represent "sort of a reversal of the decline over the past couple of years," he said.
The upturn in union membership comes as President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats in Congress move to push through pro-labor policy initiatives. Unions were major supporters of Obama and the Democrats in the 2008 elections...........
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Russia's military has announced it will halt its plans to deploy short-range missiles in Kaliningrad, Russia's Interfax news agency has said.
A Russian military official said a change in US attitude had prompted the latest decision, Interfax reported.
President Dmitry Medvedev announced the plan in November last year, saying it was to counteract US plans for an anti-missile shield based in Europe.
Russia had said it saw the US missile shield plan as a direct threat.
The US has insisted that its plan to base radars and interceptor missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic is designed solely to guard against attack by "rogue states", such as Iran.
Mr Medvedev said in November that short-range Iskander missiles would be deployed in the western enclave of Kaliningrad, bordering Poland, to neutralise any perceived US threat.
Bu on Wednesday, Interfax quoted an unnamed military official as saying that "the implementation of these plans has been halted in connection with the fact that the new US administration is not rushing through plans to deploy" parts of its missile defence shield in eastern Europe.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Juan Williams again baselessly attacked first lady Michelle Obama, claiming that "her instinct is to start with this 'blame America' ... stuff." Williams asserted that Michelle Obama's "instinct" is to "blame America" or be "the victim," and said she has "this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going." Williams also said that she could be a "liabilit[y]" or an "albatross" for President Barack Obama. Williams previously claimed Michelle Obama sometimes uses "this kind of militant anger." Read More
Matt Drudge featured a report on his website under the headline, "Gore Hearing On Warming May Be Put On Ice," stating that "Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming. But Mother Nature seems ready to freeze the proceedings." However, climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate. Read More
A San Francisco Chronicle article reported the false claim that $4.19 billion of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan "would go to the liberal housing activist group ACORN." In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Read More
Sean Hannity asserted that the economic stimulus bill would amount to spending at least $217,000 for every job created, echoing a false calculation from a press release issued by the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee and repeated by numerous media figures. In fact, by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the stimulus package by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- these media figures ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and education, health, and public safety investments. Read More
Parroting GOP talking points, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed $4.19 billion of President Barack Obama's economic recovery package "is going to ACORN." In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding. Read More
Several media figures have likened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments defending a provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which would expand Medicaid funding for family planning services, to China's "one-child policy," eugenics, social engineering, and Nazism. In fact, the family planning provision does not mandate either limits to family size or eugenics but, rather, would expand "the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies." Read More
Accompanying the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate is the return of comparisons in the media between a female public official -- previously Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and now Gillibrand -- and the character Tracy Flick from the book and movie Election -- a character who has been described as "one of those people who manages to get very far in life while being thoroughly unlikable." Read More
Bernard Goldberg twice misfired in responding to two Media Matters items on his new book, A Slobbering Love Affair. Read More
On Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull, Campbell Brown and Ali Velshi repeatedly claimed that provisions in the economic recovery bill that extend food stamps and unemployment insurance payments are, in Velshi's words, "not stimulus." But the same day, the Congressional Budget Office director stated in congressional testimony: "Transfers to persons (for example, unemployment insurance and nutrition assistance) would also have a significant impact on GDP. Because a large amount of such spending can occur quickly, transfers would have a significant impact on GDP by early 2010." Read More
Rush Limbaugh may command a large following, but his caustic comments Monday about the GOP’s congressional leadership have at least one Republican House member defending his colleagues and offering an unusually candid critique of the talk radio powerhouse and his fellow commentators.
Responding to President Obama’s recommendation to Republican congressional leaders last week that they not follow Limbaugh’s lead, the conservative talkmeister said on his show that Obama is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He's more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn't say much about our party."
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., did not take kindly to this assessment in an interview with Politico Tuesday.
“I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach,” Gingrey said. “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell."
Asked to respond to Gingrey, Limbaugh, in an email to Politico, wrote: “I'm sure he is doing his best but it does not appear to be good enough. He may not have noticed that the number of Republican colleagues he has in the House has dwindled. And they will dwindle more if he and his friends don't show more leadership and effectiveness in battling the most left-wing agenda in modern history. And they won't continue to lose because of me, but because of their relationship with the grassroots, which is hurting. Conservatives want leadership from those who claim to represent them. And we'll know it when we see it.”
The back and forth comes as some on the right speak more openly about what they perceive as the lack of leadership in the Republican Party. Unapologetic conservatives, like Limbaugh would prefer to see elected Republicans confront the new president. But many GOP officials, daunted by the new president’s approval rating and what they believe is fatigue on the part of voters over partisan fighting, are loath to openly criticize Obama.........
The super-secretive National Security Agency has been quietly monitoring, decrypting, and interpreting foreign communications for decades, starting long before it came under criticism as a result of recent revelations about the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Now a forthcoming PBS documentary asks whether the NSA could have prevented 9/11 if it had been more willing to share its data with other agencies.
Author James Bamford looked into the performance of the NSA in his 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, and found that it had been closely monitoring the 9/11 hijackers as they moved freely around the United States and communicated with Osama bin Laden's operations center in Yemen. The NSA had even tapped bin Laden's satellite phone, starting in 1996.
"The NSA never alerted any other agency that the terrorists were in the United States and moving across the country towards Washington," Bamford told PBS.
PBS also found that "the 9/11 Commission never looked closely into NSA's role in the broad intelligence breakdown behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. If they had, they would have understood the full extent to which the agency had major pieces of the puzzle but never put them together or disclosed their entire body of knowledge to the CIA and the FBI."
In a review of Bamford's book, former senator and 9/11 Commission member Bob Kerrey wrote, "As the 9/11 Commission later established, U.S. intelligence officials knew that al-Qaeda had held a planning meeting in Malaysia, found out the names of two recruits who had been present -- Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi -- and suspected that one and maybe both of them had flown to Los Angeles. Bamford reveals that the NSA had been eavesdropping for months on their calls to Yemen, yet the agency 'never made the effort' to trace where the calls originated. 'At any time, had the FBI been notified, they could have found Hazmi in a matter of seconds.'"
Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer told PBS, "None of this information that we're speaking about this evening's in the 9/11 Commission report. They simply ignored all of it."
Not only was then-Director Michael Hayden never held accountable for the NSA's alleged failure, but he went on to oversee the Bush administration's vast expansion of domestic surveillance. In 2006, he was appointed as director of the CIA.............
There is plenty of debate about what President Obama's stimulus bill should look like -- as well there should be, given all that is at stake. But there is a growing consensus that the guiding principle in that debate should be Obama's call for a "new era of responsibility."
Helping fuel that consensus is the saga of the rise and fall of former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, the poster child for the era of irresponsibility. The condemnation of his behavior is completely bipartisan (although we haven't heard yet what John McCain thinks of one of his biggest fundrasing bundlers).
On this week's Left, Right, and Center, my conservative pal Tony Blankley made the perfect comparison: "Thain and these CEOs have been studying at the Marie Antoinette School of Public Presentation," he said. "The crassness and the stupidity are stunning... They ought to be boiled in oil."
Marie Antoinette and her "let them eat cake" became the symbol of Not Getting It -- of not realizing, until it was too late, that a new era had begun. And just like Marie Antoinette, Thain didn't get it, even as Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis was leading him to the corporate guillotine.
In fact, Thain had such a run of not getting it that TPM was able to compile a top ten list of his greatest moments.
The pinnacle of Thain's tone deafness, of course, was his over-the-top makeover of his office in early 2008, just as Merrill Lynch was already hemorrhaging money and preparing to lay off thousands of workers. So to soften the blow (on himself), he spent $1.2 million redecorating. Lowlights include $87,000 for an area rug, and $1,400 for a trashcan............
President Evo Morales won a decisive victory in a referendum designed to enhance his own powers and turn the country into a quasi-Socialist state.
The sweeping reforms, approved by a 60 per cent "Yes" vote, will allow Mr Morales to seek re-election in December.
Under the new powers, rich landowners may be targeted for dispossession as the state will allow private ownership of large estates only if that property is put to "social use". If not, the land may be seized.
Critics have predicted farm invasions of the kind seen in Zimbabwe. Decisions on whether the land is "socially useful" will be taken by the central government.
The powers will also extend state control over four key areas of the economy, notably Bolivia's vital reserves of natural gas.
The streets of the capital, La Paz, were quiet during the voting. But the underlying tension was shown by a 48-hour ban on sales of alcohol.
Mr Morales, overcome with emotion, wept as his victory was announced. "Brothers and sisters, the colonial state ends here. Now Bolivia is being refounded," he said on the steps of the presidential palace in La Paz. "Here we begin to reach true equality for all Bolivians."
Support for the president was strongest in the western mountains, where indigenous people form the majority.
"A new era is starting now in which indigenous people will be the citizens of this country," said Elisa Canqui, who represents an Indian community in La Paz.
Over the past year, Bolivia has been polarised between the indigenous Indians – including Mr Morales's own Aymara tribe – and the descendants of European settlers who are concentrated in the east.............
While interviewing Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity repeated the false claim that "[s]ixty-one" Guantánamo detainees who have been released are "back on the battlefield" to support his assertion that President Barack Obama is "an ideologue." Hannity and Giuliani also repeated the claims that fiscal stimulus packages were ineffective during the Great Depression and during Japan's "lost decade," but both those claims have been challenged by economists. Read More
Discussing President Obama's executive order stating that a detainee in U.S. custody cannot be subjected to interrogation techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual, Karl Rove falsely asserted that "[t]he Army Field Manual ... prohibits you from using good cop-bad cop in interrogating." In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of "Mutt and Jeff" interrogations, which involve two interrogators "display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source." Read More
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro falsely claimed that in a January 2008 paper, President Barack Obama's campaign economic adviser Jason Furman "doubted any infrastructure spending 'would generate significant short-term stimulus.' " In fact, in that paper, while stating that infrastructure projects are "difficult to design in a manner that would generate significant short-term stimulus," Furman also said that infrastructure spending "might be more useful if policies could be designed to prevent cutoffs in ongoing infrastructure spending (such as road repair) that would exacerbate an economic downturn." Read More
The Washington Post asserted that "a report from the Congressional Budget Office ... said the majority of money in the Democratic [stimulus] plan would not get spent within the first year and a half." In fact, a document described by The Huffington Post as being the "whole" CBO " 'report' " accounts for only approximately $358 billion out of the "more than $850 billion" that the Post reported is included in the Democratic proposal, meaning that the CBO analysis could not possibly reach any conclusions about "the majority of money in the Democratic plan." Read More
n an article about President Obama's economic stimulus package, The Washington Times reported that Rep. John Boehner "called for 'fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending,' in a ... response to Mr. Obama's weekly address." But the Times did not note that Obama's stimulus package proposes several tax credits and that according to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, "at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half." Read More
On his CNN show, Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that in an item criticizing a report by Ed Henry on President Obama's economic recovery package, Media Matters "tr[ied] to conflate the Office of Management and Budget numbers as somehow superior with the Congressional Budget Office." In fact, Media Matters merely pointed out that according to the OMB director, the CBO conducted only a partial analysis of the bill, which Henry did not report. Read More
Saturday, January 24, 2009
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry reported that a "study" from the Congressional Budget Office "was suggesting that a lot of the spending proposals in the original [economic stimulus] plan would not really take effect for a couple of years, so it wouldn't clearly help create jobs in the first two years of the president's administration." However, the director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a letter that his agency's "analysis indicates that at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half" -- which Henry did not report. Read More
The Washington Post reported, "Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, said he was skeptical of the stimulus package because much of the spending in it may come well after the crisis is over, as a report from the Congressional Budget Office has suggested." But the Post did not include a response from the Obama administration or the Democratic leadership anywhere in the same edition of the newspaper. Read More
Friday, January 23, 2009
Sex as an asthma trigger
Lots of things can trigger asthama, including sex, which has dropped to third place behind flu and colds
Kasadie investigates how the lifestyle treats people of all sizes
The lead singer of Aerosmith talks about sex and the band in an interview with Elle magazine
Talk2YourTeen is a UK county magazine, aimed at helping parents talk with their kids about sex [Online]
A lawyer at the world's sixth largest law firm, has been asked to remove extracts from her sex dairy, from the Internet [More]
After Larry Flynt called for government help for the US sex business, the Germany sex industry has now asked for state aid
Research from Newcastle University has found that a woman's frequency of orgasms is related to her partner's income
Research from Johns Hopkins University looks at sexual behavior of youngsters who take virginity tests, and conclude they do not work
The OhMiBod FreeStyle is a wireless vibrator for the iPod [More]
The Green Muze looks at how you can make your sex life more organic, orgasmic, and greener!
The porn film based on the TV series was made in 1990
New research suggests that female brains can detect sexual messages in male sweat [Paper]
Author Jerry Oppenheimer says that Barbie and Ken creator Jack Ryan was a "full-blown seventies-style swinger"
New technology claims to convert any regular DVD into three-dimensions
Thursday, January 22, 2009
On Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson asserted that in answering questions about his failure to pay social security taxes several years ago, Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner "kind of put the blame a little bit on a computer program." In fact, at his hearing, Geithner mentioned the tax software he used only after he was asked which brand he used to file his taxes. Read More
Ignoring the additional costs of security, transportation, and other expenses incurred by federal, state, and local governments in conjunction with former President Bush's 2005 inauguration, Fox News' Sean Hannity allowed former Gov. Mitt Romney to claim that "[President] Barack Obama spen[t] three times" what Bush spent on his 2005 inauguration. In doing so, Hannity allowed his show to become the latest media outlet to promote the false comparison between the costs of Obama's inauguration and Bush's 2005 inauguration. Read More
Rush Limbaugh responded to a caller's account of her own economic troubles as a homeowner and small business owner and her assertion that she "need[s] people to start believing that America is going to turn that corner" by stating, "Well, you might want to consult history," adding: "It was much worse than this 26 years ago." Read More
On Hannity, speaking of President Obama's reported plan to reverse the U.S. government's Mexico City policy restricting federal funding for international family planning groups, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed "[former President] Clinton imposed it." In fact, the Mexico City policy prohibiting the federal government from providing funds to international family planning groups that promote abortion or provide information, counseling, or referrals about abortion services in other nations was imposed by President Reagan, rescinded by Clinton, and revived by George W. Bush. Read More
In citing an op-ed by Marc Thiessen, President Bush's former chief speechwriter, in which Thiessen claimed that "the policies and institutions" Bush implemented in the name of national security after 9-11 "are succeeding," The New York Times and the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe did not note evidence undermining Thiessen's argument. Read More
The Associated Press falsely stated, "The Pentagon recently reported that 61 former prisoners at Guantanamo have returned to the fight against the U.S. and its allies." Similarly, on CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips asserted, "New Pentagon figures actually say 61 released detainees have been linked to some kind of terror activity." In fact, the Pentagon's figure includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but not confirmed as, having, in the AP's words, "returned to the fight." Read More
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris repeatedly criticized Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner for his failure to pay Social Security taxes several years ago. But Morris has his own history of tax delinquency; USA Today included Morris in an April 2008 report on "[b]ig names" who are tax delinquents. Read More
On NBC's Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans [...] thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner criticizing the stimulus plan. However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects. Read More
Fox News' John Gibson and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough each asserted that if President Obama abandons Bush administration policies and procedures "which kept us safe for the last seven, eight years," in Gibson's words, Obama will bear responsibility for any future act of terrorism. However, neither mentioned evidence that President Bush's policies did not eliminate the terrorist threat to America and that some Bush policy decisions, such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq, may, in fact, have aggravated the threat. Read More