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Wingnuts Getting Frenzied Over Grayson's 'Pay for Performance' Bill as it Passes in House

Friday, April 03, 2009

By Dave Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

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Alan Grayson's "Pay for Performance" bill is driving the Republicans crazy -- especially now that it's passed the House:
The bill adopted by the House on Wednesday would bar companies that received a capital infusion from the federal government from paying any bonus or other compensation that is “unreasonable or excessive” as defined by the Treasury, until they had repaid their bailout money to the government.

The companies would also be barred from paying any bonus that was not “directly based on performance-based measures.”

A spokesman for the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said his party would study the House legislation along with other proposals and would decide how to proceed “over the next few weeks.”
Michelle Malkin is so wrought up about it all that she called out the 10 Republicans who voted for the bill. Mebbe she'll sic Erik Erickson's Purity Patrol on 'em.

Ah, I love the smell of wingnut self-immolation in the morning....(Click for original).


Another G-20 Accomplishment: Tax Haven Crackdown

By Matthew Yglesias
Think Progress

Normally, a big international conference achieves nothing at all. So it’s really quite extraordinary that the G-20 meeting appears to have produced several significant achievements. One of them, as Mark Kleiman points out, is the success of France and Germany in pushing an agreement on tax havens:
I have no idea whether there’s any meaning behind the pronouncement from the G-20 summit that the era of banking secrecy and tax havens is over. But if there is, that’s extraordinarily big, and extraordinarily good, news. The ease with which the wealthy can evade taxes on unearned income as long as Switzerland and the Caymans and Macao are there to help puts a limit on the extent to which redistribution via taxation is feasible.
Back in November I was the beneficiary of a very generous junket to Switzerland during which time I was able to more fully familiarize myself with this issue. And while I’m pretty sure I was supposed to come away more sympathetic to the Swiss position, and am even willing to consider reversing my position on this in exchange for more business class plane tickets and another week at the Mandarin Oriental in Geneva, the Swiss position is totally wrong. I mean, it makes great sense for Switzerland. But there’s no good reason for the rest of the world to put up with it....(Click for remainder).


Fabric of America (National TV Ad for the Employee Free Choice Act)


Letter From Paris: Obama Nails It

By Beth Arnold
The Huffington Post

Political fallout of the world financial crisis rocked France this week. Another French executive, this the head of Caterpillar, was held hostage by his workers, and billionaire François-Henri Pinault, chief executive of luxury-goods PPR, was trapped in his car by a group of his own employees. Word was the billionaire was shaken. Why wouldn't he be? People are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. Not lying down. Not going down without a fight. Not to be screwed by the high and mighty while the band plays on.

That was then, and this is now. The French Old World Everyman is demonstrating how he's going to deal with his personal interests in this financial crisis. He's taking it to the grassroots. Vive La Marseillaise! This army of Everymen have become their own heroes, and they're not waiting for Superman to come down and save them. After all, it was the SuperMen of banking who said, "Let them eat cake," and I mean this worldwide.

So as G20 was starting in London, "some 4,000 anarchists, anti-capitalists, environmentalists and others clogged London's financial district for what demonstrators branded "Financial Fool's Day."...(Click for remainder).


Avigdor Lieberman: Already A Problem For Obama

By Helena Cobban
Inter Press Service via The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON, Apr 3 (IPS) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government was sworn in Tuesday - just one day later his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, set off a firestorm by saying he judged Israel was no longer bound by agreements reached at the late-2007 peace conference convened by the U.S. in Annapolis, Maryland.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit was one of the first to react. He said he would not shake hands with Lieberman until Lieberman reversed his position on Annapolis - and also retracted some public slights he had earlier voiced against Egypt. Given Egypt's close alliance with the United States, the verbal battle between the two allies spelled big trouble for Washingon's posture in the Middle East. Lieberman's words also increased the numbers of voices in the region calling for the U.S. to distance itself from the Netanyahu government.

In Ramallah, leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) continued to insist they would not return to the peace talks that were interrupted during Israel's recent war on Gaza unless Israel followed through on promises - made at Annapolis and elsewhere - that they would halt all new construction in the settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Lieberman also made several other diplomatically inflammatory statements in his first two days in office. He publicly questioned whether Israel had gotten anything of any value from the landmark agreement it concluded in 1993 in Oslo with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). And he said that Israel should base its stance toward Syria on a formula of trading "peace for peace" rather than the traditional formula of "land for peace."

On those issues, too, the new foreign minister was openly challenging policies long pursued by Washington....(Click for remainder).


Paul, Frank Introduce Hemp Legalization Bill

By Mike Lillis
The Washington Monthly

Yesterday, in fact.

Sponsored by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the bill would allow U.S. farmers to grow industrial, non-psychoactive hemp, which manufacturers use for everything from soap to shoes to car upholstery. Current law allows hemp to be imported, but not cultivated domestically.

Introducing the bill on the House floor yesterday, Paul says that prohibition is a mistake, particularly in a difficult economy.
It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers, including many who are struggling to make ends meet, competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that Federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited, restrained Federal Government.
Aside from Paul and Frank, nine other House lawmakers have signed on their support, seven Democrats and two Republicans....(Click for original).


DNC to Eric Cantor: Overreacting? Really?


TownHall: Economic Holocaust, Panic and Racial Programs Impending

By Gustav Wynn
OpEd News

My most embarrassing Bush-era souvenir is the $100 package of emergency "antidote" vials still sitting in my fridge, meant to be used in the event of a catastrophic flu pandemic. Essentially mixtures of common ingredients like echinacea and clove oil, massive volumes of these "rescue kits" were sold at a time our country could barely tell the difference between news and noise.

You may still have some extra duct tape laying around, or perhaps some Cipro? It may be funny to look back at scams past where news reports played into the hands of fear-profiteers by broadcasting ginned-up reports of impending calamity.

If you miss those days, a recent email issues a "critical, time-sensitive warning" that the US Government is underway preparing for "coming social chaos".

This ad was sent to TownHall subscribers describing itself as a "briefing" which purports to make a case America's economy is worse than we know and that government officials are not only secretly bracing for pandemonium in the streets, they have designs to detain citizens by the thousands because "so much financial mayhem lies ahead U.S. troops may have to impose martial law to deal with social unrest."

Written by the publisher of a monthly "advisory" called Independent Living, the author badly blurs the line between fact and salesmanship, hawking his timely "Social Chaos Survival Guide". Imagine an infomercial for a product that literally tells you your life depends on buying it. This is what Lee Bellinger is telling "think-outside-the-box, keep-out-of-the-herd, individualist" TownHall readers....(Click for remainder).


Don't Call Yourself Progressive If You Don't Support Sexual Justice

By Rev. Debra Haffner
The Huffington Post

You know when marriage equality comes to Iowa that lesbian and gay equality has become a mainstream American value. Yet the Iowa court decision recognizing marriage rights for same-sex couples arrived the very week that new articles appeared in Newsweek, the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report about which religious leaders in America can claim the progressive mantle. Sexual justice, the area in which I focus my ministry, seems to be the clear dividing line.

Let me be clear: You cannot call yourself a religious progressive if you don't support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens, if you don't support women's moral agency regarding abortion, or if you don't support comprehensive sexuality education that gives our young people the life-saving information they need. But you won't hear certain self-described "progressive religious leaders" standing up or speaking out for these issues.

The growing rift between the religious left and religious progressives, which Dan Gilgoff explores in U.S. News, has been brewing for a while, and sexuality is at the heart of it. Many religious leaders who call themselves progressive believe there is much common ground to be found with conservative evangelicals. I agree, when the issues are poverty, immigration, Iraq and climate change. But they also contend (naively, in my view) that there is common ground on sexuality issues, such as abortion and LGBT rights, that will bring about what Newsweek terms "a ceasefire in the culture wars."...(Click for remainder).


Early Right Wing Reaction to Iowa Ruling

I LOVE the fact that these right-wing mouth-breathers are all up in a frenzy over this ruling.  These members of the Christo-fascist zombie brigade cannot stand it when the rule of law is actually used.  What a complete bunch of rubes.

By Kyle
Right Wing Watch

A short round-up of some of the earliest responses to the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous marriage ruling:

Rep. Steve King:
“This is an unconstitutional ruling and another example of activist judges molding the Constitution to achieve their personal political ends. Iowa law says that marriage is between one man and one woman. If judges believe the Iowa legislature should grant same sex marriage, they should resign from their positions and run for office, not legislate from the bench.

“Now it is the Iowa legislature’s responsibility to pass the Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman, to give the power that the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself back to the people of Iowa. Along with a constitutional amendment, the legislature must also enact marriage license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court’s latest experiment in social engineering.”
Family Research Council:
Today, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins condemned the decision by the Iowa Supreme Court striking down the state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and forcing same-sex "marriage" on the state. The ruling in Varnum v. Brien was the fourth in favor of legalizing same-sex "marriage" by a state high court. California's ruling was overturned by the people at the ballot box last November; Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states which currently give marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

"Same-sex 'marriage' continues to be a movement driven by a liberal judicial elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well. The casual dismissal of the facts of human biology and thousands of years of human history, simply to pander to a small band of social radicals, is bizarre and indefensible," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC).
(Click for remainder).


The Daily Left: Dems Dog GOP Budget


Maddow, Powell, and the Need for a Torture Commission

By Scott Horton
Harper's Magazine

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow presents Colin Powell, whom she clearly admires, with a series of very tough questions. Most of the Washington press corps could learn from this technique:

Powell doesn’t want to answer the questions, yet his response is neither dismissive nor evasive: These issues are extremely important; they should be the subject of a full and formal inquiry; he should answer them on the basis of a review of his own notes and the documents. “But that complete record will in due course come out,” Powell says. Powell’s statement, fully recognizing the need for an investigation, contrasts sharply with the unfortunate comments made by Senator Patrick Leahy on April 1. Here’s Charlotte Dennett’s report of her recent discussion with Leahy:
Halfway through the allotted 30 minute meeting (with him taking up much of the time explaining why he was not generally opposed to prosecution, since he had been a DA for eight years and had the highest conviction rate in Vermont), he told us that his truth commission had failed to get the broad support it needed in Congress, and since he couldn’t get one Republican to come behind the plan, “it’s not going to happen.”
Of course, John Conyers has found House Republicans to support his initiative. But why should the idea of a commission be subject to a veto by the Senate Republicans? Leahy should listen to Powell. He should recognize that the commission approach is the right thing, and that Karl Rove and John Cornyn should not be permitted to veto it....(Click for remainder).


It's a Depression

By Robert Reich
Robert Reich's Blog

The March employment numbers, out this morning, are bleak: 8.5 percent of Americans officially unemployed, 663,000 more jobs lost. But if you include people who are out of work and have given up trying to find a job, the real unemployment rate is 9 percent. And if you include people working part time who'd rather be working full time, it's now up to 15.6 percent. One in every six workers in America is now either unemployed or underemployed.

Every lost job has a multiplier effect throughout the economy. For every person who no longer has a job and can't find another, or is trying to enter the job market and can't find one, there are at least three job holders who become more anxious that they may lose their job. Almost every American right now is within two degrees of separation of someone who is out of work. This broader anxiety expresses itself as less willingness to spend money on anything other than necessities. And this reluctance to spend further contracts the economy, leading to more job losses.

Capital markets may or may not unfreeze under the combined heat of the Treasury and the Fed, but what happens to Wall Street is becoming less and less relevant to Main Street. Anxious Americans will not borrow even if credit is available to them. And ever fewer Americans are good credit risks anyway....(Click for remainder).


Presidents Obama and Sarkozy News Conference


President Obama Holds Town Hall in Strasbourg, France

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (Extended cheers and applause.) Hey! Thank you! Thank you so much. Good afternoon. Bon apres-midi -- (cheers, applause) -- and guten tag.

It is a great honor for me to be here in Europe, to be here in Strasbourg. I want to make just a few acknowledgments. I want to thank the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, for being such a terrific friend. I want to thank his wife, Madame Sarkozy. They just hosted us at the palace and could not have been more gracious.

I want to thank the charge d'affaires, Mark Pekala, and his wife, Maria, who are helping to organize this; Vincent Carver, who's the consul general in Strasbourg. And I want to thank the mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, for his hospitality. (Cheers, applause.)

It is wonderful to be here with all of you and to have an opportunity not only to speak to you but also to take some questions. You know, oftentimes during these foreign trips, you see everything from behind a window. And what we thought was important was for me to have an opportunity to not only speak with you, but also to hear from you, because that's ultimately how we can learn about each other.

But before I take some questions, I hope you don't mind me making a few remarks about my country and yours, the relationship between the United States and the relationship between Europe.

Strasbourg has been known throughout history as a city at the crossroads. Over thousands of years you've straddled many kingdoms and many cultures. Two rivers are joined here. Two religions have flourished in your churches. Three languages comprise an ancient oath that bears the city's name. You've served as a center of industry and commerce, a seat of government and education, where Goethe studied and Pasteur taught, and Gutenberg imagined his printing press.

So it's fitting, because we find ourselves at a crossroads as well, all of us, for we've arrived at a moment where each nation and every citizen must choose at last how we respond to a world that has grown smaller and more connected than at any time in its existence.

You know, we've known -- we've known for a long time that the revolutions in communications and technology that took place in the 20th century would help hold out enormous promise for the 21st century, the promise of broader prosperity and mobility, of new breakthroughs and discoveries that could help us lead richer and fuller lives. But the same forces that have brought us closer together have also given rise to new dangers that threaten to tear our world apart, dangers that cannot be contained by the nearest border or the furthest ocean.

Even with the Cold War now over, the spread of nuclear weapons or the theft of nuclear material could lead to the extermination of any city on the planet. And this weekend in Prague I will lay out an agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. (Cheers, applause.)

We also know that the pollution from cars in Boston or from factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, and that that will disrupt weather patterns everywhere. The terrorists who struck in London and New York plotted in distant caves and simple apartments much closer to your home. And the reckless speculation of bankers that has now fueled a global economic downturn that's inflicting pain on workers and families -- is happening everywhere, all across the globe.

The economic crisis has proven the fact of our interdependence in the most visible way yet. Not more than a generation ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that the inability of somebody to pay for a house in Florida could contribute to the failure of the banking system in Iceland.

Today, what's difficult to imagine is that we did not act sooner to shape our future.

Now, there's plenty of blame to go around for what has happened. And the United States certainly shares its -- shares blame for what has happened. But every nation bears responsibility for what lies ahead, especially now. For whether it's the recession or climate change or terrorism or drug trafficking, poverty or the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we have learned that, without a doubt, there's no corner of the globe that can wall itself off from the threats of the 21st century.

The one way forward -- the only way forward -- is through a common and persistent effort to combat fear and want wherever they exist. That is the challenge of our time, and we cannot fail to meet it together.

We take for granted the peace of a Europe that's united, but for centuries Strasbourg has been attacked and occupied and claimed by the warring nations of this continent. Now, today in this city, the presence of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe stand as symbols of a Europe that is united, peaceful and free. (Applause.)

Now, we take this peace and prosperity for granted, but this destination was not easily reached, nor was it predestined. The buildings that are now living monuments to European union -- unity were not drawn from simple blueprints. They were born out of the blood of the first half of the 20th century and the resolve of the second. Men and women had to have the imagination to see a better future and the courage to reach for it. Europeans and Americans had to have the sense of common purpose to join one another, and the patience and the persistence to see a long twilight struggle through.

It was 61 years ago this April that a Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe helped to deliver hope to a continent that had been decimated by war. Amid the ashes and the rubble that surrounded so many cities like this one, America joined with you in an unprecedented effort that secured a lasting prosperity not just in Europe but around the world, on both sides of the Atlantic.

One year later, exactly 60 years ago tomorrow, we ensured our shared security when 12 of our nations signed a treaty in Washington that spelled out a simple agreement: an attack on one would be viewed as an attack on all.

Without firing a single shot, this alliance would prevent the Iron Curtain from descending on the free nations of Western Europe. It would lead eventually to the crumbling of a wall in Berlin and the end of the communist threat.

Two decades later, with 28 member nations that stretch from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, NATO remains the strongest alliance that the world has ever known.

At the crossroads where we stand today, this shared history gives us hope, but it must not give us rest. This generation cannot stand still. We cannot be content merely to celebrate the achievements of the 20th century or enjoy the comforts of the 21st century. We must learn from the past to build on its success. We must renew our institutions, our alliances. We must seek the solutions to the challenges of this young century. This is our generation. This is our time. And I am confident that we can meet any challenge, as long as we are together. (Applause.)

Now, such an effort is never easy. It's always harder to forge true partnerships and sturdy alliances than to act alone, or to wait for the action of somebody else. It's more difficult to break down walls of division than to simply allow our differences to build and our resentments to fester.

So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years, we've allowed our alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship.

In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.

But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.

On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.

So I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership, one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies, but where our friends and allies bear their share of the burden. Together, we must forge common solutions to our common problems.

So let me say this as clearly as I can: America is changing, but it cannot be America alone that changes. We are confronting the greatest economic crisis since World War II. The only way to confront this unprecedented crisis is through unprecedented coordination.

Over the last few days, I believe that we have begun that effort. The G-20 summit in London was a success of nations coming together, working out their differences and moving boldly forward.

All of us are moving aggressively to restore growth and lending. All of us have agreed to the most substantial overhaul of our international financial system in a generation. No one is exempt. No more will the world's financial players be able to make risky bets at the expense of ordinary people. Those days are over. We are ushering a new era of responsibility. (Applause.) And that is something we should all be proud of. (Applause continues.)

As we take these steps, we also affirm that we must not erect new barriers to commerce, that trade wars have no victors. We can't give up on open markets, even as we work to ensure that trade is both free and fair. We cannot forget how many millions that trade have -- has lifted out of poverty and into the middle class. We can't forget that part of the freedom that our nation stood for throughout the Cold War was the opportunity that comes from free enterprise and individual liberty.

I know it can be tempting to turn inward, and I understand how many people and nations have been left behind by the global economy.

And that's why the United States is leading an effort to reach out to people around the world who are suffering, to provide them immediate assistance and to extend support for food security that will help them lift themselves out of poverty.

All of us must join together in this effort, not just because it is right, but because by providing assistance to those countries most in need, we will provide new markets, we will drive the growth of the future that lifts all of us up.

So it's not just charity. It's a matter of understanding that our fates are tied together, not just the fates of Europe and America, but the fate of the entire world.

And as we restore our common prosperity, we must stand up for our common security. As we meet here today, NATO is still embarked on its first mission overseas in Afghanistan, and my administration has just completed a review of our policy in that region.

Now I understand that this war has been long. Our allies have already contributed greatly to this endeavor. You've sent your sons and daughters to fight alongside ours, and we honor and respect their service and sacrifice.

And I also know that there are some who have asked questions about why are we still in Afghanistan. What does this mean? What's its purpose?

Understand we would not deploy our own troops if this mission was not indispensable to our common security.

As president, I can tell you there's no decision more difficult, there's no duty more painful, than signing a letter to the family of somebody who's died in a war. So I understand that there's doubt about this war in Europe. There's doubt at times even in the United States. But know this: The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. We were attacked by an al Qaeda network that killed thousands on American soil, including French and Germans. Along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, those terrorists are still plotting today. And there -- if there is another al Qaeda attack, it is just as likely, if not more, that it will be here in Europe, in a European city.

So I've made a commitment to Afghanistan, and I have asked our NATO partners for more civilian and military support and assistance. We do this with a clear purpose: To root out the terrorists who threaten all of us; to train the Afghan people to sustain their own security; and to help them advance their own opportunity; and to quicken the day when our troops come home.

We have no interest in occupying Afghanistan. We have more than enough to do in rebuilding America. (Applause.)

But this is a mission that tests whether nations can come together in common purpose on behalf of our common security. That's what we did together in the 20th century. And now we need an alliance that is even stronger than when it brought down a mighty wall in Berlin.

That's why we applaud France's decision to expand and deepen its participation in NATO, just as we support a strong European defense. That's why we welcome Croatia and Albania into the fold. And that is why we must ensure that NATO is equipped and capable of facing down the threats and challenges of this new age. This is one of our central tasks.

We also know that in the 21st century, security is more complex than military power. This is the generation that must also stop the spread of the pollution that is slowly killing our planet, from shrinking coastlines and devastating storms to widespread misery of famine and drought. The effects of climate change are now in plain sight.

Europe has acted with the seriousness of purpose that this challenge demands. And in the last few months I'm proud to say that America has begun to take unprecedented steps to transform the way that we use energy. We've appointed a special envoy to help us lead a global effort to reduce the carbon that we send into the atmosphere.

But we all know that time is running out. And that means that America must do more. Europe must do more. China and India must do more.

Rolling back the tide of a warming planet is a responsibility that we have to ourselves, to our children and all of those who will inherit God's creation long after we are gone. So let us meet that responsibility together. I am confident that we can meet it, but we have to begin today. (Applause.)

And -- and let us resolve that when future generations look back on ours, they will be able to say that we did our part to make this world more peaceful. It's perhaps the most difficult work of all to resolve age-old conflicts, to heal ancient hatreds, to dissolve the lines of suspicion between religions and cultures and people who may not look like us or have the same faith that we do or come from the same place.

But it's -- just because it's difficult does not make the work any less important. It does not absolve us from trying. And to that end, America will sustain our effort to forge and secure a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

I've sent a clear message to the leaders and peoples of Iran that, while we have real differences, we also have mutual interests and we seek new engagement based on mutual respect.

And it is in that spirit that America and Europe must reach out to the vast majority of Muslims in our nations, and in all nations, who seek only hope of peace and partnership and the opportunity of a better life.

We cannot simply solve these conflicts militarily. We have to open our minds and we have to open our hearts to the differences among us and the commonalities between us. With every threat that we face, a new day is possible. We can't get there alone. As it was in the darkest days after World War II, when a continent lay in ruins and an atomic cloud had settled over the world, we must make the journey together.

We know that transformational change is possible. We know this because of three reasons.

First, because, for all our differences, there are certain values that bind us together and reveal our common humanity: the universal longing to live a life free from fear and free from want, a life marked by dignity and respect and simple justice. Our two republics were founded in service of these ideals. In America it is written into our founding documents as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In France, liberte --


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Absolutely -- (laughter, cheers, applause) -- egalite, fraternite.

Our moral authority is derived from the fact that generations of our citizens have fought and bled to uphold these values in our nations and others. And that's why we can never sacrifice them for expedience's sake. That's why I've ordered the closing of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay. (Cheers, applause.)

That's why I can stand here today and say without equivocation or exception that the United States of America does not and will not torture. (Cheers, applause.)

The second way that we can turn challenge into opportunity is through our persistence in the face of difficulty. In an age of instant gratification, it's tempting to believe that every problem can and should be solved in a span of a -- a week. When these problems aren't solved, we conclude that our efforts to solve them must have been in vain. But that's not how progress is made. Progress is slow. It comes in fits and starts, because we try and we fail, and then we try something else.

And when there are setbacks and disappointments, we keep going. We hold firm to our core values and we hold firm to our faith in one another.

The third reason we know that we can change this world is because of men and women like the young people who are here today. Each time we find ourselves at a crossroads, paralyzed by worn debates and stale thinking, the old ways of doing things, a new generation rises up and shows the way forward.

As Robert Kennedy once told a crowd of students in South Africa, it is a revolutionary world that we live in and, thus, it is young people who must take the lead -- (applause) -- because young people are unburdened by the biases or prejudices of the past. That is a great privilege of youth. But it's also a tremendous responsibility, because it is you who must ultimately decide what we do with this incredible moment in history.

We've just emerged from an era marked by irresponsibility. And it would be easy to choose the path of selfishness or apathy, of blame or division, but that is a danger that we cannot afford.

The challenges are too great.

It is a revolutionary world that we live in, and history shows us that we can do improbable, sometimes impossible things. We stand here in a city that used to stand at the center of European conflict, only now it is the center of European Union. We did that together.

Now we must not give up on one another. We must renew this relationship for a new generation, in a new century. We must hold firm to our common values, home -- firm to our faith in one another. Together, I am confident that we can achieve the promise of a new day.

Thank you very much. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. All right. Thank you. Thank you! (Applause continues.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! Thank you very much. (Applause continues.) Thank you.

Please -- (cheers, applause) -- thank you. Thank you! Thank you.

Please, everybody, have a seat. So the way this works -- do we have microphones in the audience? Yes? So just raise your hand if you want a question, and I will call on you.

I think we have some translators. If you want to speak French or German, my French and German are terrible -- (laughter) -- but we have people who speak very good French and very good German who will translate your question and translate my answer. And I will try to get as many questions as I can get in in the remaining 20 minutes or so that we have.

And I will start with this young lady right here. Yes, you. Right there. (Chuckles.) (Applause.) Please introduce yourself.

Q (Off mike.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hold on. I can't hear you yet. Can we -- can we increase the sound on the mike? Let's try again.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. (Off mike.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, I called -- now, I just want to say I did not call on the American on purpose. (Laughter, applause.) So --

Q (Off mike.) I'm going to ask, Mr. President, (do you ?) look forward -- (off mike) -- your vision for the future? And I would like to know what you envision your legacy or the legacy of your administration to be when your presidency is over.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, after only two months, that's kind of a big question. (Laughter.)

But -- but here's -- here's what I would like to see -- and -- look, you -- you aim high, knowing that you'll make mistakes and sometimes you'll fall short.

Number one, my first task, is to restore the economy of the United States, but, in concert with other nations, to restore global economic growth. That's my number-one task, because we are going through the worst crisis since the 1930s.

That means that not only do we have to fix the banking system, put common-sense regulations in place to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again; making sure that we are keeping trade relationships between countries open. But it also means helping developing countries and poor countries who, through no fault of their own, have been devastated by this crisis and, if we allow them to collapse, will ultimately be a drag on our ability to prosper.

You know, emerging markets have actually been the drivers of economic growth over the last several years.

They -- if we can get millions of Chinese to prosper, that is ultimately good for us. If we can get all the Indians in poverty to suddenly be able to buy a refrigerator or send their children to college, that will raise everybody's living standards, because those will be enormous new markets for all of us.

So -- so what I want to be able to do is not only fix the immediate crisis, but, working in partnership with other countries, create a path for sustainable, responsible growth. And I think we can do that.

You know, there are a lot of people who benefit from globalization, but there are also people who have been harmed by globalization. Globalization, in and of itself, can be good, but can also be destructive. If we create the right framework so that what happened in the banking system can't happen again, then globalization can be good for everybody and lift everybody's living standards up.

And by the way, history has shown us that we are most vulnerable to war and conflict when people are desperate economically. And, you know, nobody knows that history more than Europe.

So that'd be number one.

Number two is I would like to be able to say that, as a consequence of my work, that we drastically lessened the threat of not only terrorism, but also nuclear terrorism. And we can't reduce the threat of a nuclear weapon going off unless those who possess the most nuclear weapons -- the United States and Russia -- take serious steps to actually reduce our stockpiles. So we are going to -- (applause) -- so we want to pursue that vigorously in the years ahead. And I had an excellent meeting with President Medvedev of Russia to get started that process of -- of reducing our nuclear stockpiles; which will then give us greater moral authority to say to Iran, "Don't develop a nuclear weapon," to say to North Korea, "Don't proliferate nuclear weapons."

In my own country, what I think is very important is that we finally get a health care system that is reliable and cost-effective. That's something that -- (applause) -- you know, that's a social safety net that exists in almost all of Europe, that doesn't exist in the United States.

You have millions of people who work hard every single day, but if they get sick, they could potentially lose everything. And in a country as wealthy as ours, that's not acceptable to me.

So we are going to work hard to make sure that we have a health care system that won't be identical to what you have in Europe -- each country has its own traditions and approaches -- but that provides people quality affordable, accessible health care.

And then I would like to see us in the United States take the lead on a new approach to energy, because none of the developed countries are going to be able to sustain their growth if we don't start using energy differently, and the world cannot survive all countries using energy in the same ways that we use it.

Yeah, I was meeting with the Indian prime minister yesterday, after the summit, a very good and wise man, Prime Minister -- Prime Minister Singh. And he was talking about how Indian growth rates have gone up 9 percent every year. They need to grow at that pace in order to bring hundreds of millions of people in their country out of abject poverty, desperate poverty.

Right? They have to grow at a rapid pace.

Now, he actually is committed to working towards dealing with the climate-change issue. But he made a very simple point, which is a point that I understood before the meeting and all of us should not forget. And that is that you cannot expect poor countries or relatively poor countries to be partners with us on climate change if we are not taking the lead, given that our carbon footprint is many times more than theirs per capita.

I mean, each one of us in the -- in the developed world, I don't care how environmentally conscious you are, how green you are -- and I'm sure there are some green folks here --


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes! I don't care how green you are, you are -- you have a much bigger carbon footprint than the average Indian or the average person from China.

And so we in developed countries, then, it's critical for us to lead by example by becoming more energy efficient. And we also have to harness technology and share scientific breakthroughs in order to find more sustainable energy patterns.

Now, I've got other things that I want to do, but that's a pretty long list. Let me go on to some -- a few more questions. (Applause.)

All right. Now, I know there are some other Americans in the crowd -- (cheers) -- but do me a favor, Americans; wait till we get back home, and I'll do a town hall there, because I -- (applause) -- because I want -- I want to hear from my French and German and European friends.

All right. And -- where, where, where -- this gentleman right here in the glasses.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Matthias Kutsch (ph). I'm a student from Heidelberg, Germany. (Cheers, applause.) And my mother tongue is German, but my French is not good enough, so I ask my question in English.

You mentioned in your speech that we are a lucky generation; we live in peace, we live in democracies and free states. And we are very pleased to have this situation in Europe. But this is not the case all over the world, even not in Europe. Look to Belarus, for example. There's an autocratic regime.

And so my question concerns the many children all over the world that live in poverty, under human rights violations.

They have hunger. They have no education and other problems. So what is your strategy, Mr. President, to solve this problem?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's an excellent question. And the -- first of all, I think one of the things that we should be very proud of, from the G-20 summit yesterday, was that we made a significant commitment to additional resources through the IMF and other mechanisms to provide assistance to emerging markets and poor countries that, as I said, are bearing the burden of a collapse in the financial system that they had nothing to do with.

The problem is so many of these countries had export-oriented markets. And when the economies contracted in our developing nations, it made them extremely vulnerable. You know, you have a country like Botswana, which is actually a well-managed country that has made enormous progress. But their main revenue generator is diamond sales. And they have literally seen the diamond market collapse, in part because they couldn't get trade financing, in part because the demand in developed countries has -- has dropped off.

So we started to make progress there. Our most important task right now is helping them get through this crisis. Over the long term, though, we've got to have a strategy that recognizes that the interest of the developed world in feeding the hungry, in educating children, that that's not just charity; it's in our interests.

There is not a direct correlation between poverty and violence and conflict and terrorism, but I can tell you that if children have no education whatsoever, if young men are standing idle each and every day and feel completely detached and completely removed from the modern world, they are more likely, they are more susceptible to ideologies that appeal to violence and destruction.

If you have no health facilities whatsoever in countries in Africa, these days a pandemic can get on a plane and be in Strasbourg or New York City or Chicago overnight. So we better think about making sure that there are basic public health facilities and public health infrastructure in those countries, because we can't shield ourselves from these problems.

So that means developed countries have to increase aid. But it also means that the countries who are receiving aid have to use it wisely.

And my father was from Kenya, and when I traveled to Kenya, I had just been elected to the United States Senate. Everybody was very excited and, you know, they greeted me and -- you know, as if I was already a head of state. And, you know, there were people waving and lining the streets. I went to speak at a university, and I had to be honest, which was, America has an obligation to provide Kenya help on a whole range of issues. But if Kenya doesn't solve its own corruption problem, then Kenya will never grow. It will never be able to provide for its own.

And so there's nothing wrong with the developed nations insisting that we will increase our commitments; that we will design our aid programs more effectively; that we will open up our markets to trade from poor countries -- but that we will also insist that there's good governance and rule of law and other critical factors in order to make these countries work.

We spend so much time talking about democracy. And obviously, we should be promoting democracy everywhere we can.

But democracy, a well-functioning society that promotes liberty and equality and fraternity, a well-functioning society does not just depend on going to the ballot box. It also means that you're not going to be shaken down by police because the police aren't getting properly paid. It also means that if you want to start a business, you don't have to pay a bribe. I mean, there are a whole host of other factors that -- that people, you know, need to -- need to recognize in building a civil society that allows a country to be successful. And -- and hopefully that will -- that approach will be reflected not just in -- in my administration's policies but in the policies that are pursued by international agencies around the world.

Okay. Good. (Applause.)

All right. Right up -- right -- well, I've got -- I've got two of you. So you have to choose one. Which one should I call on? I don't want to -- (laughter) -- ah, you're standing right next to each other.

Q (Off mike.)

Q (Off mike.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oops. Well, I'm sorry. You know what? He actually called on -- no, no, no, I -- I was actually pointing down here. I didn't see those two ladies back there. Here you go. This one right here. Go ahead.

Q Well, hello, Mr. President. I'm sorry. I'm from Chicago.

Excuse me. (Laughter.)


Q I'm also a student in the high school -- the International High School of Pontonniers. So --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, no, I'm sorry. If you're American, I can't --

Q I'm French. I'm also French. (Cheers, applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Hold on. She says she also French.

Q Yes.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What does that mean?

Q Double nationality.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Dual nationality.

Q Yeah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What do you think? Should we let her ask the question? (Cheers, applause.) Okay, go ahead.

Q Thank you. Do you think that the economic crisis is an opportunity to restructure our industries in an ecological and sustainable way? And also was wondering whether the dog was already in the White House or not. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The -- we -- we are getting a dog. This is a very important question in the United States, what kind of dog we're getting and when we're getting it. It should be there soon.

I do think that in -- in crisis, there's always opportunity, if it's used properly. So for example, in the United States, we decided to pass a large stimulus package to help growth at a time when, you know, the private sector was having a very bad -- difficult time.

Now, we could have just spent the money on the same old ways of doing things. But part of what we decided was if we're going to be spending a lot of government money anyway, why not spend it to double the amount of renewable energy? Why not spend it on retrofitting existing government buildings so that we drastically reduce their energy consumption?

Why not start building high-speed rail? One thing that, as an American who is proud as anybody of my country -- I am always jealous about European trains. And I said to myself, why can't we have -- (applause) -- why can't we have high-speed rail? And -- and so we're investing in that, as well.

So on the transportation front, on -- with respect to building construction, on a whole range of issues, we are investing in new technologies that will make us more energy efficient. And that is one of the building blocks that's needed in order for us to reduce our carbon footprint and to work with other countries to achieve the climate change goals that I think are going to be so important.

I'm getting the signal that I've only got time for two more questions. (Calls and whistles from audience members.) Oh! I'm going to -- I'm going to ask that young man in the suit -- you know, 'cause he got dressed up today. I know he doesn't usually wear a suit. Yes? (Cheers, applause.) Go ahead. Go ahead.

Q I just want to know, well, what do you expect from the French and the European countries regarding the war on terror?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good. That's a good question.

Look -- I think that over the last seven, eight years, as I said in my speech, a lot of tensions have developed between the United States and Europe. And one of the legacies, I hope, for my administration, is -- is that we start bringing our historic alliance back together in a much more effective way. (Applause.)

Now, that doesn't mean that we're not going to have honest disagreements. All countries have disagreements between themselves. But I think that we can work much more effectively and cooperatively and maintain that core trust that we have towards each other.

Nowhere have we seen more suspicion than around questions of war and peace and how we respond to terrorism. When 9/11 happened, Europe responded as a true friend would respond to the United States, saying, "We all -- we are all Americans."

All of us have a stake in ensuring that -- innocent people who are just going about their business, going to work suddenly find themselves slaughtered -- all of us have an interest in preventing that kind of vicious, evil act.

But after the initial NATO engagement in Afghanistan, we got sidetracked by Iraq, and we have not fully recovered that initial insight that we have a mutual interest in ensuring that organizations like al Qaeda cannot operate.

And I think that it is important for Europe to understand that even though I'm now president and George Bush is no longer president, al Qaeda is still a threat, and that we cannot pretend somehow that because Barack Hussein Obama got elected as president, suddenly everything's going to be okay.

It is going to be a very difficult challenge. Al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is -- you know, don't fool yourselves because some people say, "Well, you know, if we changed our policies with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or if we were more respectful to the Muslim world, suddenly these organizations would stop threatening us."

That's just not the case.

It is true that we have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect and changing our language and changing our tone. It is true that we have to work very hard for Israeli- Palestinian peace. But what is also true is that these organizations are willing to kill innocent people because of a twisted, distorted ideology. And we, as democracies and as people who value human life, can't allow those organizations to operate.

So here's -- here's the bottom line. The United States has reviewed and redesigned its approach to Afghanistan. We believe that we cannot just win militarily. We have to win through development aid. We have to win through increasing the capacity of the Afghan government to provide basic services to its people and to uphold rule of law. We have to work with the Pakistani government so that they are more trusted by their population and have more control, so that they can then go -- help us go after these terrorists. We have to encourage diplomacy in the region.

So it can't just be a military strategy, and we will be partnering with Europe on the development side and on the diplomatic side.

But there will be a military component to it. And Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone. We should not, because this is a joint problem, and it requires joint effort. (Applause.)

One -- one last point I will make. In dealing with terrorism, we can't lose sight of our values and who we are. That's why I closed Guantanamo. That's why I made very clear that we will not engage in certain interrogation practices.

I don't believe that there is a contradiction between our security and our values. And when you start sacrificing your values, when you lose yourself, then over the long term that will make you less secure.

When we saw what happened in Abu Ghraib, that wasn't good for our security; that was a recruitment tool for terrorism. Humiliating people is never a good strategy to battle terrorism.


(Laughter, applause.) Michelle definitely asked that question. (Laughter.)

You know, there are -- there have been times, certainly during the campaign, and there have been times over the last several months, where you feel a lot of weight on your shoulders. There's no doubt about it.

During the campaign, the biggest sacrifice, the thing that was most difficult, was that I was away from my family all the time. You know, in addition to missing -- in addition to being jealous about high-speed rail and the nice trains here, I -- I'm also jealous of the fact that campaigns here only last a few months, whereas in the United States we were running for two years.

So I was away from home all the time. And that was very difficult, because not only do I have a wonderful wife, but I have two perfect daughters. (Cheers, applause.) And so, you know, I missed them a lot. (Applause continues.)

But -- but the nice thing is, now that I'm president, it turns out I have this really nice office in my house called the Oval Office, and so -- (laughter) -- it only takes me a few seconds to get -- get upstairs, and I'm home for dinner every night. You also lose privacy and autonomy -- or anonymity. You know, it's very frustrating now -- you know, it used to be when I came to Europe that I could just wander down to a cafe and sit and have some wine and watch people go by, and, you know, go into a little shop, and watch the sun go down. And now I'm in hotel rooms all the time. And I have security around me all the time. And so just, you know, losing that ability to -- to just take a walk, you know, that is something that is frustrating.

But having said all that, I truly believe that there's nothing more noble than public service. Now, that doesn't mean that you have to run for president. (Applause.) But, you know, you might -- you know, you might work for Doctors Without Borders, or you might volunteer for an agency, or you might, you know, be somebody working for the United Nations, or you might be the mayor of Strasbourg.

Right? I mean, they're all -- (cheers, applause) -- you might volunteer in your own community.

But the point is that what I found at a very young age was that if you only think about yourself -- how much money can I make; what can I buy; you know, how nice is my house; what kind of fancy car do I have -- that over the long term, you -- I think you get bored. (Applause.) I think your life -- I think your life becomes -- I think if you're only thinking about yourself, your life becomes diminished and -- and that the way to live a full life is to think about, what can I do for others? How can I be a part of this larger project of making a better world?

Now, that can be something as simple as making -- of -- as the joy of taking care of your family and watching your children grow and -- and succeed.

But I think especially for the young people here, I hope you also consider other ways that you can serve, because the world has so many challenges right now. There are so many opportunities to make a difference. And it would be a tragedy if all of you who are so talented and energetic, if you let that go to waste, if you just stood back and -- and watched the world pass you by.

Better to jump in, get involved. And it does mean that sometimes you'll get criticized, and sometimes you'll fail, and sometimes you'll be disappointed. But you'll have a great adventure, and at the end of your life, hopefully you'll be able to look back and say, "I made a difference."

All right. Thank you, everybody. (Cheers, applause.)



Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage

Iowa Becomes Third State To Legalize Marriage Of Same-Sex Couples

By Amy Lorentzen
Associated Press via KMGH 7 Denver

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Friday finding that the state's same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making Iowa the third state where marriage will be legal.

In its decision, the court upheld a 2007 district court judge's ruling that the law violates the state constitution. It strikes the language from Iowa code limiting marriage to only between a man a woman.

"The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa constitution must be declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion," said a summary of the ruling issued by the court.

The ruling set off celebration among the state's gay-marriage proponents.

"Iowa is about justice, and that's what happened here today," said Laura Fefchak, who was hosting a verdict party in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale with partner of 13 years, Nancy Robinson.

Robinson added: "To tell the truth, I didn't think I'd see this day."

Richard Socarides, an attorney and former senior adviser on gay rights to President Clinton, said the ruling carries extra significance coming from Iowa.

"It's a big win because, coming from Iowa, it represents the mainstreaming of gay marriage. And it shows that despite attempts stop gay marriage through right wing ballot initiatives, like in California, the courts will continue to support the case for equal rights for gays," he said....(Click for remainder).


Republicans Just Lost the Debate Over the Economy

By Steven Benen
Washington Montly

Once in a great while, there are key turning points in a policy debate. This might be one of them.
GOP Whip Eric Cantor ... accused Democrats of "overreacting" to the economic crisis by embarking on a federal spending spree.

The Virginia Republican, speaking to reporters at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast Thursday morning, praised Rush Limbaugh for his "ideas" and for avoiding the Democratic error of "overreacting, as they often will, to crisis."

He went on to criticize Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's recent statement that the biggest danger was "doing too little" to deal with the meltdown.

"Doing too much has huge, huge pitfalls as well," he said.
This explains quite a bit. Why have Republicans refused to take the economic crisis seriously? Why have they offered the same tired, failed economic ideas they've been spouting for decades?

It's simple, really. As Cantor explained, the minority party is worried about "overreacting." Where most sensible people see a global, generational economic crisis, one of the leaders of the Beavis and Butthead Party see a regular ol' downturn. No wonder the GOP rejects the very idea of stimulating the economy, reforming the regulatory system, and addressing the pitfalls that created the crisis. As far as Cantor & Co. are concerned, there is no crisis.

Cantor's timing could have been better. While he was accusing Democratic officials of caring too much about economic growth and ending the crisis, the Labor Department reported that "initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 657,000. That total was above analysts' expectations and the highest in more than 26 years."...(Click for remainder).


The Evolution of a GOP Lie

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

John Reilly, the M.I.T. scientist whose cap-and-trade analysis has generated the #1 Republican talking point on the issue, is no doubt frustrated. GOP lawmakers have twisted his work beyond all recognition, and try as he might, Reilly, the source of the Republican lie, can't stop the lie from spreading.

Brian Beutler wrote up this helpful timeline:
* April, 2007: Reilly and several coauthors release a paper titled "Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals," which estimates early annual revenues from such legislation would run $366 billion

* Sometime between April, 2007 and March, 2009: House Republicans get a hold of his paper, divide $366 billion by the number of households in America, and conclude, erroneously, that the quotient ($3,128) will be the average cost per home.

* March, 2009: Republicans begin using this number in press releases, citing Reilly's study

* Shortly thereafter: The Obama administration gets in touch with Dr. Reilly and asks him to explain his study and the number -- he corrects the record.

* A week or so ago: Independently, a woman who says she's with the House Republicans calls Reilly -- aware of the number, she invites him to come testify against cap and trade legislation. Reilly informs her that her number is probably wrong, and that he supports cap and trade legislation.
At that point, the story should end. But it just keeps going.

Of course, the method Republicans used to get the $3,128 was itself absurd. Brad Plumer noted that the GOP's arithmetic "brushes off the fact that most carbon revenue would be rebated back to consumers, and that certain conservation measures could help reduce energy bills. But the actual MIT study implies that the welfare cost would be around $31 per person in 2015, rising to an average of $85 per person per year -- not including the benefits of cleaner air and a habitable planet."...(Click for remainder).


Maybe There's Something in the Water

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

If I didn't know better, I might wonder if the powers that be are distributing crazy pills in the House Republican cloakroom.
I was just talking to Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who's leaving Congress to run for governor of Michigan, about his proposed Parental Rights Amendment -- a constitutional change that would, among other things, prevent "any source of international law" to override parents' rights. He gave me an example of how open some Democrats were to handing over American rights.

"I'm watching Neil Cavuto," said Hoesktra, "and I see [Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner is talking about how he might be OK with a world currency. I don't think Americans are going to be comfortable with that. You're going to see things that people perceive as eroding American sovereignty -- this is something that's clearly un-American. I mean, here's the secretary of the Treasury, and instead of defending the United States and defending our currency, he's saying he might be open to a world currency. What does that mean? It means turning our currency over to the UN."
Hoesktra isn't some random, no-name backbencher. He's been in Congress for 16 years, he's the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and next year, he expects to be the governor of one of the nation's largest states.

And yet, here's Hoekstra spouting ridiculous gibberish about global currencies, American sovereignty, and turning our currency over to the U.N....(Click for remainder).


George Will Doesn’t Understand What a Trend Is

By Matthew Yglesias
Think Progress

Another doozy from George Will on climate change:
Reducing carbon emissions supposedly will reverse warming, which is allegedly occurring even though, according to statistics published by the World Meteorological Organization, there has not been a warmer year on record than 1998.
I really think anyone working at The Washington Post or in conservative journalism who has a shred of intellectual conscience has a duty to stand up to this kind of nonsense. As the Secretary General of the World Metereological Organization wrote in The Washington Post two weeks ago:
Data collected over the past 150 years by the 188 members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) through observing networks of tens of thousands of stations on land, at sea, in the air and from constellations of weather and climate satellites lead to an unequivocal conclusion: The observed increase in global surface temperatures is a manifestation of global warming. Warming has accelerated particularly in the past 20 years.

It is a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge to point to one year as the warmest on record — as was done in a recent Post column ["Dark Green Doomsayers," George F. Will, op-ed, Feb. 15] — and then to extrapolate that cooler subsequent years invalidate the reality of global warming and its effects.
(Click for remainder).


The Crisis of Credit Visualized

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

The Short and Simple Story of the Credit Crisis.

The goal of giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated. This project was completed as part of my thesis work in the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

For more on my broader thesis work exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world, visit

Support the project and buy a T-Shirt!

© Copyright 2009 Jonathan Jarvis


Should the Democrats Primary Chris Dodd?

By Nate Silver

The news is bad -- very bad -- for Senator Chris Dodd:
Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd trails former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, a possible Republican challenger, 50 - 34 percent in the 2010 Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today, as voters disapprove 58 - 33 percent of the job the Democratic incumbent is doing, his lowest approval rating ever.

Matched against two other possible Republican challengers, Sen. Dodd trails both State Sen. Sam Caligiuri 41 - 37 percent and former ambassador Tom Foley 43 - 35 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

In the Dodd-Simmons matchup, Democrats back Dodd by only 58 - 27 percent while Simmons leads 87 - 6 percent among Republicans and 56 - 25 percent among independent voters.

The incumbent's approval is down from 49 - 44 percent March 10.
While we have a long way to go until November 2010, it's fairly startling to see a four-term Democratic incumbent down by 16 points in a deeply blue state. And make no mistake: this is all about Dodd's negatives, rather than anything in particular that former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, the declared Republican challenger, is doing. Almost half (47 percent) of Connecticutians have yet to form an opinion about Simmons, and yet, he's leading Dodd among independent voters by better than 2:1, and even picking off 27 percent of Democrats....(Click for remainder).


Budgets Approved, With No G.O.P. Votes

Ah, nice to see that the mouth-breathers of the GOP still hate America.

By Carl Hulse
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The House and Senate approved budgets of about $3.5 trillion for the government on Thursday with no Republican support, a sign of deep partisan tensions likely to color Congressional efforts to enact major policy initiatives sought by President Obama.

On the heels of House approval of its spending plan for 2010, the Senate voted 55 to 43 shortly before midnight to adopt a similar budget after a day spent laboring over politically tinged amendments that did little to change a fiscal blueprint generally in keeping with Mr. Obama’s ambitious agenda.

Democrats said the two budgets, which will have to be reconciled after a two-week Congressional recess, cleared the way for health care, energy and education overhauls pushed by the new president. The Democrats said the budgets reversed what they portrayed as the failed economic approach of the Bush administration and Republican-led Congresses.

“This responsible budget will start cleaning up the mistakes of the past and make critical investments in our future,” Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats would like to find consensus with Republicans, but not at the expense of the infusion of federal money that the majority calls crucial in a time of economic distress....(Click for remainder).


ROTFLMAO: Bill O'Reilly says CrooksandLiars 'fears' Jesse Watters

By John Amato
Crooks and Liars

You have to love Bill O'Reilly. Amanda Carpenter tells him that we posted a video compilation of Jesse Watters ambushing tactics and he says we're all just a tad bit afraid of the big-bad-Jesse Watters. And Amanda knows me, because we debated each other on MSNBC, so she shouldn't try to hide that fact from Bill.
O’Reilly: Now. The far-left websites fear greatly the vicious guy Jesse Watters. Jesse Watters is now the subject of far-left angst because he goes out and talks to the bad guys. Tell us about that.

Carpenter: Well, basically, there’s been a site, Crooks and Liars, that compiled a bunch of videos of Jesse Watters ambushing a number of people for your segments, and they call this harassment, they say it is absolutely harassment – you know, they’re very frightened at the prospect of a Fox News producer coming after them with a camera and asking them to explain what they write on the Internet or in various newspaper columns.

O’Reilly: It's interesting...They didn’t say anything – we’ve been doing this, I guess, for six or seven years, until the far-left websites got involved. Then they got really nervous. This is, of course, a legitimate brand of journalism, it’s been practiced ever since television news was invented in the ‘60s. When the bad guys won’t comment,* when they run and hide, we will find them.

… You know, it’s funny, one of the people that he talked to [showing Amanda Terkel] – ‘Oh, he yelled at me, and he ran –‘ And then you see the tape. And there’s Jesse being as polite as possible. They’re having a conversation anybody could have. But you know, we don’t expect honesty from these people. Their whole game is deceit. That’s what their game is.
(Click for remainder).


Gov. Sanford Gives in on Stimulus, Will Seek Funds for S.C.

By James Rosen
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Gov. Mark Sanford will comply with a midnight Friday stimulus deadline and become the last governor in the nation to seek millions of dollars in federal economic-recovery funds for his state, aides said late Thursday.

Sanford will continue contesting $700 million in education and law enforcement money for South Carolina, but his 11th-hour move to meet the deadline buys time for schools fearing mass teacher layoffs and draconian cuts.

Sanford's month-long fight over stimulus money placed South Carolina in the national spotlight and put him at loggerheads with President Barack Obama.

"Tomorrow the governor is going to send the (Section) 1607 certification for everything except the stabilization funds," Sanford's spokesman, Joel Sawyer, said Thursday evening. "The governor will apply for that (additional) money if the General Assembly is willing to compromise and pay down some debt with it."

Obama has twice rejected Sanford's written requests to use $700 million in State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money to pay off state government debt instead of its stated use to help school districts retain teachers and modernize old schools or build new ones.

White House officials confirmed for the first time Thursday that a 45-day deadline in the $787 billion stimulus bill, which Obama signed into law on Feb. 17, applies only to governors' initial requests for the money — and not to states' formal application for it.

State leaders in Columbia and Washington had thought that midnight Friday was the deadline for actually claiming the $700 million in disputed funds....(Click for remainder).


Truth, Crimes, Commissions, and Hope

By David Swanson

Good news is being taken as bad. Vermont constituents of Senator Patrick Leahy report that he's finding very little support for his proposed truth and reconciliation commission from Republicans or Democrats in the Senate. Numerous people have taken this as bad news and cause to despair. I disagree. Here are ten reasons why.

1. The idea was never reconciliation with Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, torture victims, spying victims, victims of political prosecutions, or anyone other than the commission members themselves. Real reconciliation is years away from even being comprehensible to, much less supported by, the U.S. Senate.

2. There are very useful things that Congress or an outside commission could do, but most of them have nothing to do with punishing or deterring crimes, or reconciling victims and abusers. The only thing that can deter future crimes of the sort that have been committed is criminal prosecution. Any commission begun before a special prosecutor is appointed would risk serving as a substitute for what is most needed, and risk having its requests and subpoenas ignored as Congress's have been for the past two years. But once a prosecutorial investigation is begun, Congress will be able to take up related issues without creating a substitute for prosecution and with better public understanding that there are advantages to complying with subpoenas and other legal obligations.

3. A commission dedicated to truth would have a hard time ignoring ongoing criminal investigations in Spain and Britain, and likely indictments there and elsewhere. The reconciliation would almost inevitably develop into opposition to international law, which is of course exactly the offense we most need to correct and deter, not encourage.

4. A nonpartisan commission would be a bipartisan commission, with half of the members named by each of the two parties into which our government is now more fundamentally divided than it is into three institutional branches. Both parties would favor a commission designed to coverup congressional complicity in crimes. And if there is some hope that a congressional committee might be motivated to restore Constitutional powers to Congress, an outside commission would not be as likely to have that interest.

5. A commission unable to compel witnesses could be designed to bribe them with immunity for their crimes. But unless there are prosecutions and the serious threat of prosecutions, that immunity is not a valuable bribe. And the granting of immunity is not justified by the circumstances. Our justice system is not overrun by too many defendants to be processed. It is simply refusing to prosecute a small number of individuals against whom there is extremely powerful evidence and for whom trials could potentially be very, very swift.

6. While we will never have the complete "truth" about anything and should not encourage the false belief that we lack probable cause to prosecute, obtaining more information about crimes and abuses is certainly desirable. But more information is likely to be obtained by a criminal prosecution than anything else. And more information is likely to quickly be made public by demanding the release of memos, Emails, minutes, reports from the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility, from the CIA, from the Senate Armed Services Committee, etc., than from any hearing or panel or commission. If Congress wants the truth about the treatment of prisoners, it should demand their release and listen to them. If it wants whistleblowers to speak, it should legislate protections for them. If it wants new stories to break, it should bust the media monopolies....(Click for remainder).


Tell Congress to Repeal REAL ID, NOW!

Take Action! Tell Congress to Repeal REAL ID

The federal government is trying to force states to turn your drivers license into a national ID. Unless you tell your state legislator to push back, the Real ID Act will create grave dangers to privacy and impose massive financial burdens without improving national security in the least.

Signed into law in May 2005 without meaningful debate, the Real ID Act states that drivers licenses will only be accepted for "federal purposes"—like accessing planes, trains, national parks, and court houses—if they conform to certain uniform standards. The law also requires a vast national database linking all of the ID records together.

Once the IDs and database are in place, their uses will inevitably expand to facilitate a wide range of surveillance activities. Remember, the Social Security number started innocuously enough, but it has become a prerequisite for a host of government services and been coopted by private companies to create massive databases of personal information. A national ID poses similar dangers; for example, because "common machine-readable technology" will be required on every ID, the government and businesses will be able to easily read your private information off the cards in myriad contexts.

Real ID won't just cost you your privacy. The federal government didn't give the states funds to implement the law and overcome its many administrative burdens, so the billions of dollars in costs will be passed down to you in the form of increased DMV fees or taxes.

And what will you get in return? Not improved national security, because IDs do nothing to stop those who haven't already been identified as threats, and wrongdoers will still be able to create fake documents. In fact, the IDs and database will simply create an irresistible target for identity thieves.

It's not too late to fight back—state legislators can still resist implementing the Real ID Act and force Congress' hand. Learn more about Real ID through the links below, and tell your representatives to oppose the Real ID Act.



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