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John Stossel’s Lies About Middle Class Income

Sunday, March 15, 2009

By Matthew Yglesias
Think Progress


For reasons that have long escaped me, ABC News thinks it’s a good idea to have a fanatical libertarian pundit on their payroll and presented as a newscaster. They don’t balance him with any social conservatives. They don’t balance him with any liberals. They don’t even balance him with any opinionated moderates. Instead, ABC News puts out a product that’s mostly banal TV news and sometimes 100-proof “we should let corporations do whatever they want,” often riddled with errors. Apparently the pundit in question, John Stossel, has a special coming out later today and he’s been hyping it on various conservative media. Hence this exchange on the Bill O’Reilly show:
O’REILLY: Do you believe the middle class in 2009 is worse off than it was 20 years ago in this country?

STOSSEL: No, I think the middle class is much better.

O’REILLY: Because that’s the liberal line. The liberal line is the middle class get pounded and they need my money and your money. You make an enormous amount of money, Stossel. The middle class needs our money because they just can’t keep up. But what about the middle class?

STOSSEL: The middle class has gone from something like $25,000 average income in today’s dollars to $75,000 today.
The basic liberal line is that middle class wages have stagnated for decades while the rich have gotten richer. I think you can make a credible counterargument that since the CPI doesn’t properly account for “new goods” (nobody had an iPhone or a DVD player in 1988, etc.) that this factoid is unduly bleak and actually there have been modest improvements in living standards due to the improvements in available gadgets. Alternatively, you could argue that this is offset by things like the increase in commute times, the decrease in air travel quality, and other elements of quality of life that have been on the decline. What you can’t really argue with is this chart that shows that something’s gone amiss:



(Click for remainder).

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Will Everyone Grab a Bucket? This Thing is Sinking

By Robert Borosage
Campaign for America's Future


Last year we worried about homes below water; now it is the economy itself that is sinking.

Warren Buffett says the U.S. economy has "fallen off a cliff." And, as bad as the U.S. is, the rest of the world is worse. Germany's exports have collapsed; Japan is in free fall; much of Eastern Europe may join Iceland in bankruptcy. The Asian Development Bank estimates the loss to financial assets worldwide at $50 trillion dollars —the equivalent of a full year of annual global output. It's not for nothing that National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair announced that the economic collapse trumps terrorism and catastrophic climate change as the greatest threat to U.S. security.

After slogging through the stimulus, the banking mess and the foreclosure crisis, our besieged president now must turn his attention to organizing global cooperation to lift the world economy. Finance ministers of the group of 20 countries (G-20) meet near London this week; the heads of state gather on April 2. The agenda: whether to expand national stimulus plans, how to forestall a banking collapse and how to help the weaker countries that can't help themselves. Rhetoric won't cut it; real commitments have to be made. As the anti-Bush, Obama has been celebrated by much of the world as if he walks on water. Now, we'll see if they will follow the savior rather than crucify him.

We need every major economy—particularly those like Germany, Japan and China in the best position to do so—to help boost the global economy with bold national, deficit-financed, recovery plans. We can't do this alone. Our own stimulus—about 2 percent of GDP in 2009—is too small even to lift this economy. Everyone has to grab a bucket and start bailing.

Moreover, gaining this consensus will help put the world on notice that the old ways are gone. We're not going back to an economy in which the U.S. borrows $2 billion a day from abroad, while serving as the world's consumer of last resort. The Chinese, Japanese, Germans and other nations have to move away from export-led growth. The unsustainable trade imbalances—with the U.S. absorbing 70 percent of the world's savings—provided the flood of cheap capital that eventually capsized the global economy.

That world is over. U.S. consumers are already tightening their belts. Exports have collapsed. If we ever begin a recovery, the U.S. should seek more balanced trade. That means we will have to sell stuff beyond toxic financial paper to the rest of the world. Obama anticipates this with his drive for new energy, an industrial policy that may allow the U.S. to gain an edge in the green markets of the future....(Click for remainder).

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Michael "Savage" Weiner: "It seems that the Obama appointees actually have almost the same exact policies as the Nazi Party did"

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Chris Matthews Slams Bush Apologist Fleischer's "Keeping Us Safe" Malarkey

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Open Letter to the Republican Traitors (From a Former Republican)

By Frank Schaeffer
The Huffington Post


Dear Republican Leaders: The Republican Party has become the party dedicated to sabotaging the American future. Check out the sermon I just delivered about the Republican Party on CNN when being interviewed by D.L. Hughley -- and/or read on.



You Republicans are the arsonists who burned down our national home. You combined the failed ideologies of the Religious Right, so-called free market deregulation and the Neoconservative love of war to light a fire that has consumed America. Now you have the nerve to criticize the "architect" America just hired -- President Obama -- to rebuild from the ashes. You do nothing constructive, just try to hinder the one person willing and able to fix the mess you created.

I used to be one of you. As recently as 2000 I worked to get Senator McCain elected in that year's primary. (McCain and Gen. Tommy Franks wrote glowing endorsements regarding my book about military service, AWOL.). I have a file of handwritten thank you notes from Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush I and II. In the 1970s and early 80s I hung out with Jack Kemp and bought into his "supply side" myth and even wrote a book he endorsed pushing his ideas.) There's more, but take it from me; my parents (evangelical leaders Francis and Edith Schaeffer) and I were about as tight with -- and useful to -- the Republican Party as anyone. We played a big part creating the Religious Right.

In the mid 1980s I left the Religious Right, after I realized just how very anti-American they are, (the theme I explore in my book Crazy For God). They wanted America to fail in order to prove they were right about America's "moral decline." Soon after McCain lost in 2000 I re-registered as an independent in disgust with W. Bush. But I still respected many Republicans. Not today.

How can anyone who loves our country support the Republicans now? Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan defined the modern conservatism that used to be what the Republican Party I belonged to was about. Today no actual conservative can be a Republican. Reagan would despise today's wholly negative Republican Party. And can you picture the gentlemanly and always polite Ronald Reagan, endorsing a radio hate-jock slob who crudely mocked a man with Parkinson's and who now says he wants an American president to fail?!

With people like Limbaugh as the loudmouth image of the Republican Party -- you need no enemies. But something far more serious has happened than an image problem: the Republican Party has become the party of obstruction at just the time when all Americans should be pulling together for the good of our country. Instead, Republicans are today's fifth column sabotaging American renewal....(Click for remainder).

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Sen. David "Diaper" Vitter still acting like a jerk: 'Do you know who I am?'


By John Amato
Crooks and Liars


Fresh off his foray into the world of diaper-based prostitution, Sen. David Vitter still thinks he's above the law. We all know how difficult it is to fly these days and security does not mess around, but this bozo thinks airport security doesn't apply to himself.

He missed his flight and tried to open a jet way door after the gate had been closed and then got into a confrontation with airport security, trying to intimidate the security person with his importance: "Do you know who I am?" (Would've been funny if the security worker had replied: "Sure, you're that senator who likes to wear diapers with hookers, right?")

He says he walked through the wrong door and it was all a big misunderstanding. That's a joke, especially for someone who flies as much as he does. If it was anyone else the police would have been called in and he would have been taken away in handcuffs....(Click for original).

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Obama Creates Women's Council

By Foon Rhee
The Boston Globe


In his latest gesture on women's issues, President Obama signed an executive order this afternoon creating a White House Council on Women and Girls.

“The purpose of this council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy,” Obama said in a statement. “My administration has already made important progress toward that goal. I am proud that the first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. But I want to be clear that issues like equal pay, family leave, child care and others are not just women’s issues, they are family issues and economic issues. Our progress in these areas is an important measure of whether we are truly fulfilling the promise of our democracy for all our people. I am confident that Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen will guide the Council wisely as its members address these important issues.”

The council, the White House says, "will provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families."

It will be led by close Obama adviser and friend Valerie Jarrett.

"I sign this order not just as president, but also as a son, a grandson, a husband and a father, because growing up, I saw my mother put herself through school to follow her passion for helping others," Obama said. "But I also saw how she struggled to raise me and my sister on her own, worrying about how she would pay the bills, educate herself and provide for us."

He said he signed the order (read it here) to honor all the women who came before him, such as his grandmother who was a bank vice president but was denied promotions because of her gender. He and said the fight for gender equality is far from over, citing pay disparities, domestic violence, and the relatively few women in Congress and in the executive offices of major companies....(Click for remainder).

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A Head With a Heart

In this time of extreme financial and economic uncertainty, it's nice to see a story like this.



By Kevin Cullen
The Boston Globe


It was the kind of meeting that is taking place in restaurant kitchens, small offices, retail storerooms, and large auditoriums all over this city, all over this state, all over this country.

Paul Levy, the guy who runs Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was standing in Sherman Auditorium the other day, before some of the very people to whom he might soon be sending pink slips.

In the days before the meeting, Levy had been walking around the hospital, noticing little things.

He stood at the nurses' stations, watching the transporters, the people who push the patients around in wheelchairs. He saw them talk to the patients, put them at ease, make them laugh. He saw that the people who push the wheelchairs were practicing medicine.

He noticed the same when he poked his head into the rooms and watched as the people who deliver the food chatted up the patients and their families.

He watched the people who polish the corridors, who strip the sheets, who empty the trash cans, and he realized that a lot of them are immigrants, many of them had second jobs, most of them were just scraping by.

And so Paul Levy had all this bouncing around his brain the other day when he stood in Sherman Auditorium....(Click for remainder).

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Pres. Obama Weekly Address: Food Safety



Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Washington, DC

I’ve often said that I don’t believe government has the answer to every problem or that it can do all things for all people. We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm. That is the mission of our Food and Drug Administration and it is a mission shared by our Department of Agriculture, and a variety of other agencies and offices at just about every level of government.

The men and women who inspect our foods and test the safety of our medicines are chemists and physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists. It is because of the work they do each and every day that the United States is one of the safest places in the world to buy groceries at a supermarket or pills at a drugstore. Unlike citizens of so many other countries, Americans can trust that there is a strong system in place to ensure that the medications we give our children will help them get better, not make them sick; and that a family dinner won’t end in a trip to the doctor’s office.

But in recent years, we’ve seen a number of problems with the food making its way to our kitchen tables. In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives – a painful reminder of how tragic the consequences can be when food producers act irresponsibly and government is unable to do its job. Worse, these incidents reflect a troubling trend that’s seen the average number of outbreaks from contaminated produce and other foods grow to nearly 350 a year – up from 100 a year in the early 1990s.

Part of the reason is that many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people that it’s difficult for different parts of our government to share information, work together, and solve problems. And it’s also because the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed in recent years, leaving the agency with the resources to inspect just 7,000 of our 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95% of them go uninspected.

That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whom I am appointing today as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. From her research on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health to her work on public health at the Department of Health and Human Services to her leadership on biodefense at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Dr. Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure. Dr. Hamburg was one of the youngest people ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. And her two children have a unique distinction of their own. Their birth certificates feature her name twice – once as their mother, and once as New York City Health Commissioner. In that role, Dr. Hamburg brought a new life to a demoralized agency, leading an internationally-recognized initiative that cut the tuberculosis rate by nearly half, and overseeing food safety in our nation’s largest city.

Joining her as Principal Deputy Commissioner will be Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. As Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Sharfstein has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe over-the-counter cough and cold medications. And he’s designed an award-winning program to ensure that Americans with disabilities had access to prescription drugs.

Their critical work – and the critical work of the FDA they lead – will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Working Group I am creating. This Working Group will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them. And I expect this group to report back to me with recommendations as soon as possible.

As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don’t find their way into the food supply. And we are also strengthening our food safety system and modernizing our labs with a billion dollar investment, a portion of which will go toward significantly increasing the number of food inspectors, helping ensure that the FDA has the staff and support they need to protect the food we eat.

In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch. Just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.

Thank you.

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Pres. Obama Weekly Address: Food Safety



Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Washington, DC

I’ve often said that I don’t believe government has the answer to every problem or that it can do all things for all people. We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm. That is the mission of our Food and Drug Administration and it is a mission shared by our Department of Agriculture, and a variety of other agencies and offices at just about every level of government.

The men and women who inspect our foods and test the safety of our medicines are chemists and physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists. It is because of the work they do each and every day that the United States is one of the safest places in the world to buy groceries at a supermarket or pills at a drugstore. Unlike citizens of so many other countries, Americans can trust that there is a strong system in place to ensure that the medications we give our children will help them get better, not make them sick; and that a family dinner won’t end in a trip to the doctor’s office.

But in recent years, we’ve seen a number of problems with the food making its way to our kitchen tables. In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives – a painful reminder of how tragic the consequences can be when food producers act irresponsibly and government is unable to do its job. Worse, these incidents reflect a troubling trend that’s seen the average number of outbreaks from contaminated produce and other foods grow to nearly 350 a year – up from 100 a year in the early 1990s.

Part of the reason is that many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people that it’s difficult for different parts of our government to share information, work together, and solve problems. And it’s also because the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed in recent years, leaving the agency with the resources to inspect just 7,000 of our 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95% of them go uninspected.

That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whom I am appointing today as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. From her research on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health to her work on public health at the Department of Health and Human Services to her leadership on biodefense at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Dr. Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure. Dr. Hamburg was one of the youngest people ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. And her two children have a unique distinction of their own. Their birth certificates feature her name twice – once as their mother, and once as New York City Health Commissioner. In that role, Dr. Hamburg brought a new life to a demoralized agency, leading an internationally-recognized initiative that cut the tuberculosis rate by nearly half, and overseeing food safety in our nation’s largest city.

Joining her as Principal Deputy Commissioner will be Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. As Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Sharfstein has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe over-the-counter cough and cold medications. And he’s designed an award-winning program to ensure that Americans with disabilities had access to prescription drugs.

Their critical work – and the critical work of the FDA they lead – will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Working Group I am creating. This Working Group will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them. And I expect this group to report back to me with recommendations as soon as possible.

As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don’t find their way into the food supply. And we are also strengthening our food safety system and modernizing our labs with a billion dollar investment, a portion of which will go toward significantly increasing the number of food inspectors, helping ensure that the FDA has the staff and support they need to protect the food we eat.

In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch. Just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.

Thank you.

Read more...

Secret Emails Show Iraq Dossier Was 'Sexed Up'

Intelligence chiefs criticised 'iffy drafting' of key document

By Nigel Morris
The Independent UK


Secret Whitehall emails released yesterday provide damning new evidence that the notorious dossier making the case for invading Iraq was "sexed up".

They disclose that the intelligence services were sceptical over the "iffy drafting" of government claims that Saddam Hussein could mount a missile strike on his neighbours within 45 minutes of ordering an attack.

Officials privately mocked assertions that the Iraqi president was covertly trying to develop a nuclear capability and wisecracked that perhaps he had recruited "Dr Frankenstein" to his supposed crack team of nuclear scientists.

The release of a series of confidential memos and emails, following a protracted Freedom of Information battle, reignited the controversy over accusations that Tony Blair's government "spun" Britain into war.

Last night both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats renewed their demands for a full public inquiry into the decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The 45-minute claim – presented to MPs in a notorious dossier on 24 September 2002, six months before military action began – was central to the Blair government's justification for war.

But a memo sent 13 days earlier by Desmond Bowen, head of the Cabinet Office defence secretariat, to John Scarlett, who was head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, suggested he had grave reservations over the threat. His comments were copied to Mr Blair's press secretary Alastair Campbell and to his chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell.

Mr Bowen wrote: "The question we have to have in the back of our mind is: 'Why now?' I think we have moved away from promoting the ideas that we are in imminent danger of attack and ... intend to act in pre-emptive self-defence."...(Click for remainder).

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John Dean: Cheney and Bush Committed War Crimes and Murder

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