Mojo - February 2009

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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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.

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:

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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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I Am Woman, Hear Me Cower

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 1:40 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Thu Feb. 5, 2009 1:40 PM EST

From Alternet, via Salon's Broadsheet: This just in—women want to be oppressed.

This October, more than 6,000 women gathered in Chicago for the True Woman Conference '08: a stadium-style event to promote what its proponents call “biblical womanhood," "complementarianism," or—most bluntly—"the patriarchy movement."...
The Associated Baptist Press explains the relationship of biblical womanhood to feminism, highlighting an ambitious initiative that arose from the meeting: a signature drive seeking 100,000 women to endorse its “True Woman Manifesto," which, the ABP writes, aims “at sparking a counterrevolution to the feminist movement of the 1960s.”

Obama Needs To Get Outside the Beltway

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 1:17 PM EST | Scheduled to publish Thu Feb. 5, 2009 1:17 PM EST

President Barack Obama needs to get outside the Beltway.

Not necessarily by hopping on Air Force One (which he has yet to use), but by reaching out to the millions of Americans who are rooting for him in order to obtain their active support for his economic stimulus plan. In the first fortnight of his presidency, Obama has mainly played an inside game, as he has tried to win congressional approval of an economic recovery package. When the nearly $900 billion measure was being considered in the House, Obama largely deferred to House Democrats, who shoved many long-yearned-for spending initiatives into the bill. Thus, a 647-page creature was born, which included provisions easy for Republicans and conservatives to deride and oppose.