Blogs

Andy Card Knows What Really Matters to the Constitution: Suit Coats

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 2:53 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 12:55 PM EST

card_andrew.jpg Andy Card has some serious nerve. When I heard he criticized Barack Obama for not wearing a suit coat in the Oval Office, I dismissed it without a second thought. Formal dress codes seem to me to be the product of little minds; anyone who thinks good work can't be done in casual or business casual clothes needs to visit Silicon Valley. And anyone who thinks that a building or space can be disrespected by whatever clothes are worn within it needs to get over themselves.

But then I actually read Card's comments. Get a load of this guy:

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Does the EPA Know Which Industry is America's Dirtiest?

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 1:57 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 1:57 PM EST

Today the EPA filed a laudable lawsuit against Kansas-based Westar Energy for violating the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. Laxly enforced by the Bush Administration, the rule requires power plants to install more advanced pollution-control technologies when they perform upgrades. The EPA action is part of what it bills "a national initiative to stop illegal pollution from coal-fired power plants." Sounds good to me, but unfortunately the EPA gets a bit carried away in its press release, which says: "Coal-fired power plants collectively produce more pollution than any other industry in the United States."

Obama Brings Affirmative Action To His Economic Recovery Advisory Board

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 12:43 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 12:43 PM EST

Would George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have sought economic advice from, say, James Galbraith, a well-known progressive economist (and Mother Jones contributor)?

That's a rhetorical question.

But look at the composition of Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which he unveiled on Friday morning. It's chaired by Paul Volcker, the former Fed chair, and includes, among others, Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, Jim Owens, the CEO of Caterpillar, Penny Pritzker, a businesswoman and philanthropist who chaired Obama's campaign finance committee, Anna Burger, chair of Change to Win (a labor group), Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, and Martin Feldstein of Harvard. Feldstein is a prominent conservative economist. He was resident Ronald Reagan's chief economic adviser and was a driving force behind George W. Bush's failed effort to partially privatize Social Security. (Imagine if that had gone through!) He also was a board member of AIG (whoops!). Talk about affirmative action.

A.Q. Khan Freed From House Arrest

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 12:33 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 12:33 PM EST
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Just last week I described A.Q. Khan, Pakistani nuclear trafficker extraordinaire, as "secret wrapped inside a riddle inside an enigma." I wrote of how he recently stepped into the online world with a new personal website, despite being under house arrest in Islamabad for his role in smuggling nuclear bomb designs and production materials to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

Well, it now looks like we'll be hearing a lot more from Khan. Today, a Pakistani court freed him from house arrest, enabling the 73-year old nuclear smuggler—at once a Pakistani national hero and international pariah—to move about freely within Pakistan's borders. Khan's wife told reporters that the Pakistani government has retained her husband's passport, suggesting that he will not be permitted to leave Pakistan, at least for now. (Then again, his sudden release is indicative of how quickly things can change.)

Bad News for Jobs, and Sanity

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 11:34 AM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 11:34 AM EST

You may have heard the big news of the day: the unemployment rate has risen to 7.6 percent. That's a product of the American economy losing 598,000 jobs in January, the worst monthly jobs loss since 1974 (I know, the workforce has grown since then). That figure means the economy has lost 1.8 million jobs in the last three months and 3.6 million jobs in the year+ since December 2007.

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Good News for Health Care

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 11:18 AM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 11:18 AM EST

A leading liberal Democrat in the Senate (Ted Kennedy) and a leading moderate Democrat in the Senate (Max Baucus) have written a joint letter to President Obama making it clear that they support attempting universal health care in the first year of Obama's presidency. "We must act now," they write.

This is great news. Text below.

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Obama Gets Partisan

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 10:51 AM EST | Scheduled to publish Fri Feb. 6, 2009 10:51 AM EST

As partisan as he's able, anyway. Politico has video of POTUS rallying House Democrats in support of the stimulus package, and it's fun to watch if you've been waiting for Obama to take the gloves off. Some choice quotes:

"When you start hearing arguments, on the cable chatter, just understand a couple of things," he said. "No. 1, when they say, 'Well, why are we spending $800 billion [when] we've got this huge deficit?' — first of all, I found this deficit when I showed up, No. 1."
"I found this national debt, doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office."
"What do you think a stimulus is?" Obama asked incredulously. "It’s spending — that's the whole point! Seriously."
More below, from CNN:

Honeybees!

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 10:21 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Thu Feb. 5, 2009 3:20 AM EST
HONEYBEES!....I'm back! Not really at a hundred percent or anything, but in good enough shape for blogging. And I have to say that my timing was pretty good: all I really missed was a fantastic amount of teeth gnashing (tooth gnashing?) over Barack Obama supposedly losing control of the stimulus bill. And I admit that my teeth were gnashing too for a while. But I have to say that with the benefit of thinking about this for a few hours rather than a few minutes, it's pretty obvious that people are overreacting. Yes, Republicans are acting like Republicans, and sure, Obama is going to end up making some compromises. But that's what he said he was willing to do all along. So really, what's the big deal? It's going to work out OK within the next few days, and I'll bet the Senate ends up adding about as much stuff as it takes out. So chill. But speaking of Republicans acting like Republicans, Michael Hiltzik has dredged up a good one. Apparently Neil Cavuto has been carrying on for the past week about an item in the stimulus bill he calls "honeybee insurance," and Mitch McConnell and David Vitter have joined in on the Senate floor to mock this disgraceful waste of taxpayer money. It's shocking! Now, you will be unsurprised to learn that the program in question isn't honeybee insurance at all, it's disaster insurance for all livestock producers. But that's not the best part. This is:

The provision simply continues a program enacted by Congress last year, overriding a veto by President Bush. In other words, the Senate voted on it twice in 2008 — once to enact and once to override. Connoisseurs of political comedy will see the punch line coming: McConnell and Vitter voted yea both times. So it turns out that McConnell isn't really against honeybees. He's only using them to pretend that he's got a principled objection to a stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the most severe recession in decades.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party. Country first, as always.

Support Transparency in the Stimulus!

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 5:41 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Thu Feb. 5, 2009 5:41 PM EST
sunlight_stimulus.jpg As we near the passage of the Senate version of the stimulus bill, I want to take a second to make a plea for strong transparency measures. Here at Mother Jones, and certainly elsewhere on the left, we spent tons of time calling for increased public oversight of the Bush Administration's myriad contractors. The nation's business is being privatized, we'd say. We have a right to know whether these fat cat contractors are spending the taxpayers' money well!

Well, the stimulus bill is a contractor's dream. If you work in construction and you have a connection to someone in government — good heavens, get on the blower and start working your connect. The taxpayers, the ones funding the new projects that we all agree are necessary to jump start the economy, have a right to know how their money is being spent and whether jobs are being created as a result. Proper government oversight is a must under both parties.

Spending vs. Tax Cuts: Everything You Need to Know in One Chart

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 2:49 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Thu Feb. 5, 2009 2:49 PM EST

This is pretty excellent. It's a chart, created by Paul Rosenberg at Open Left, that combines data from Moody's Economy.com and Dean Baker's Center for Economic Policy and Research. It shows the return on investment for different stimulus options.

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