Archive for February 14th, 2011

14
Feb
11

‘reasons to cheer for obama’s budget’

Andrew Leonard (Salon): If enacted, the president’s spending plan would accomplish great things. So why are liberals so upset?

In light of all the complaints that progressives are making about the “spending cuts” in President Obama’s new budget, it might be worth remembering that Obama’s first budget added up to $3.6 trillion dollars, and pretty much everyone on the left, including Paul Krugman, thought it was just peachy, an amazingly ambitious statement of new government priorities.

Obama’s new budget totals $3.73 trillion. That hardly represents a slash-and-burn retreat from the federal spending front lines! It’s an expansion beyond the budget that blew minds two years ago. But whereas Krugman praised the first budget as setting a “fundamentally new course” for the United States, he is dismissing the new budget as “hardly something to cheer about.”….

…it seems to me, if you are looking for reasons to cheer, or rating the budget on pure symbolism, that you can find plenty of exciting line items worth getting hot and bothered about.

The president calls for an end to oil, gas, and coal subsidies and the expiration of tax cuts for the rich. There are some painful cuts, but there is also plenty of new investment in education and infrastructure – including high speed rail and a vast expansion of broadband wireless connectivity….

Maybe we aren’t cheering about any of that because we know none of it is going to happen. Congress writes the budget and passes it; what the White House proposes is just a suggestion. And House Republicans have no intention of ending oil industries subsidies or hiking taxes on anyone.

…Judged against the Obama’s previous budgets, the president isn’t asking for significant cuts. What he and his team are trying to do is to present themselves as just fiscally responsible enough to make Republicans look like the out-of-control party recklessly pushing for a government shutdown. That seems like the smart, sane way to do what you can to protect an economy that is slowly reviving, and slowly beginning to bring down the unemployment rate.

Read full article here

14
Feb
11

oh dear.

CBS: Sarah Palin has turned to Facebook and Twitter to criticize President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal. Here’s what she wrote on Twitter: “Here’s how minuscule the White House’s $775 million a year cuts are: less than 1/10 of 1% of this year’s budget deficit.”

And on Facebook: “If you want to know how minuscule their proposed $775 million-a-year budget ‘cuts’ really are, please look at this chart. The proposed cuts are so insignificant – less than 1/10 of 1% of this year’s $1.65 trillion budget deficit – that they are essentially invisible on the pie chart. That speaks volumes about today’s budget.”

Palin links in both places to a chart posted on The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s website, five days ago – before the budget proposal came out. It uses an op-ed by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew to suggest that Mr. Obama was proposing to cut $775 million from the budget, and goes on to mock that amount as insignificant.

The problem? Lew wrote in his op-ed that he was only discussing “a small fraction of the scores of cuts” in the budget proposal, not the total proposed cuts … the proposed cuts, in total, add up to about $75 billion … the simple fact is that Palin using an incorrect figure as the basis of her critique.

14
Feb
11

westbound

President Obama travels west on Thursday for a two day trip to meet with technology leaders, first visiting San Francisco and then, on Friday, Intel’s most advanced manufacturing facilities in Hillsboro, Oregon.

The President last visited San Francisco in October to campaign for Senator Barbara Boxer, then-gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. candidate Gavin Newsom, all of whom won their seats.

After attending a fundraiser at the Palo Alto home of Google’s Marissa Mayer the President walked across the street to greet a bunch of kids who were standing on the edge of the curb holding a sign that told the president how much they love him.

He bent down and shook their little hands. “I wish I was in my PJs,” he told one girl who was wearing hers. “Thank you so much for the sign,” he said to the kids holding it up.

….as Obama continued down the line, a boy piped up. “Show him your picture,” he said loudly. It was enough to encourage another, shier boy to produce two drawings he’d made for Obama. He handed them over to the president, who thanked him and held them out for inspection.

One drawing was of Obama as a stick-figure in a suit with a very red face … “Now, I’m a little red-faced,” Obama said playfully as he examined the rendering of himself. “This is after I’m talking to some of my Republican colleagues,” he concluded.

14
Feb
11

travels with the first lady

14
Feb
11

newsweek: right wing comic

I laughed today when I read a few articles on Harvard professor Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek attacking President Obama for his Middle East policy and his handling of the situation in Egypt (a “debacle”!). This, of course, was a bit of a contrast to the verdicts of Professor Marc Lynch (here), Fareed Zakaria (here) and Peter Beinart (here), amongst others.

Hardly anywhere did the people commenting on the piece give any background on Ferguson – which, when you have a look at it, is just a little bit relevant: to put it, em, politely, he’s a loathsome, stomach-churning, narcissistic piece of right wing manure who wouldn’t give credit to President Obama even if he single-handedly saved planet earth from destruction. And Newsweek have hired this creature as a columnist and made his rant their cover story?! Wow!

So, a little background on the guy: click here for Ferguson’s 2008 speech to the right wing Hoover Institution – entitled ‘Why America Needs McCain’ – during which he repeated all the usual right wing abuse of President Obama, eg that he’s a cult leader, bla bla bla. Snore.

This is the guy who thought he was being highly witty when he wrote: “President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat … Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky.” (He wasn’t being racist, he reassured us – after all, we were told, he’d left his wife of 16 years for a black woman).

This is the guy who said the US should “occupy Iraq for 40 years“. Seriously. This is the guy who is on the board of the right-wing British think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies. This is the guy whose political hero was Margaret Thatcher – he “adored” her. (Bucket, please).

This is the guy who “told the world to wise up and start being grateful for everything that the British Empire had done for it”. Honest, I didn’t make that up. This is the guy who was a columnist for the right wing British rag the Daily Mail (but wasn’t brave enough to use his real name when he spouted his right wing bile).

This is the guy who argued that “the First World War had not been worth Britain fighting – Germany should have been allowed a mainland European empire”. Yep, that would have worked well for Europe’s Jews, Niall.

I’m not always on Paul Krugman’s ‘side’, but I was this time: “Ferguson is a poseur who…. relies on snide comments and surface cleverness to convey the impression of wisdom. It’s all style, no comprehension of substance.”

I could go on and on ….. but I won’t. It just would be kind of nice if we were told about the ideological background and prejudices of opinion piece writers when their work is being commented upon, or when they are being introduced as authorities on a subject on TV. Ferguson’s agenda means he will always attack President Obama, regardless. And Newsweek gave that agenda pride of place on their cover? Two words: ‘good’ and ‘grief’.

****

Salon (2010): “Ferguson is a belligerent nut. The last time American policymakers listened to him, the United States invaded Iraq….”.

****

Some of the comments posted under Ferguson’s article on The Daily Beast (which, of course, has merged with Newsweek):

“Look at this piece for what it really is…another reich wing talking head trying to push his way through the crowd by throwing a pie at President Obama.”

“Newsweek needs to find some Brits who have views a little more advanced than George III.”

“He seems determined to become another extremist provocateur a la Coulter. Say outrageous things to sell books and get face time on cable. Too bad that most people who even know who he is are familiar with his claptrap and too smart to fall for his self-promotional rhetoric … The bigger disappointment is that Newsweek would put such a loaded article as its cover. Further into irrelevance it goes.”

“Professor Ferguson’s transformation from lettered, Harvard academic to conservative political hack is complete. He is the thinking man’s Glenn Beck … as his debates with Professor Krugman and his meetings with the Republican leadership pre-midterm elections have demonstrated, he has cast his lot in with the Tea Partiers and their politicians…. Don’t be fooled. Ferguson is just Glenn Beck in an academic’s cap and gown.”

“Articles like this make me so happy my Newsweek subscription is ending.”

Read Jeffrey Goldberg’s response in The Atlantic here

14
Feb
11

to baltimore and back

President Barack Obama returns to the White House from a trip to Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Baltimore, February 14

14
Feb
11

ah, republicans are suddenly worried about the deficit!

Source

The only president since Jimmy Carter to constrain out-of-control spending by Congress was Bill Clinton. But deficit spending during President Obama’s first term has so far only been in response to the recession, part of his administration’s expansionary fiscal policies which have included tax cuts and credits for most Americans.

14
Feb
11

Christian Mabiala, Heather McDaniel and Megan McDaniel wait outside Parkville Middle School to try to get a glimpse of President Obama

Nova Knoedler, 8 (from the Baltimore Sun)

14
Feb
11

investing in the future

14
Feb
11

reach out

President Barack Obama reaches to shake hands with 8th graders as he speaks at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology, in Parkville, Md., Feb., 14

Before making his remarks, the President toured an eighth-grade science class … he was told by kids in the class that he looked “different” in real life. “Better?” he asked. When the students said yes, he told reporters: “Make a note, people.”




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