Thursday, March 26, 2009
House Republican leaders called a press conference Thursday to unveil their "alternative budget." While it was thin on specifics, it does include one major policy proposal: a huge tax cut for the wealthy.
Under the Republican plan, the top marginal tax rate would be slashed from 35 to 25 percent, facilitating a dramatic transfer of wealth up the economic scale. Anyone making more than a $100,000 would pay the top rate; those under would pay 10 percent.
"Two nights ago, the president said, 'We haven't seen a budget yet out of Republicans.' Well, it's just not true, because here it is, Mr. President," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), waving a blue document in the air.
"Today we're introducing a detailed road-to-recovery plan," he told the reporters. Other than the tax proposal, however, the plan was absent any details. Instead, it hammered the Democratic budget as too expensive.
Reporters -- mainstream, liberal and conservative -- greeted the Republican document with a collective scoff.
"Are you going to have any further details on this today?" the first asked.
"On what?" asked Boehner.
"There's no detail in here," noted the reporter.
Answered Boehner: "This is a blueprint for where we're going. Are you asking about some other document?"
A second reporter followed up: "What about some numbers? What about the out-year deficit? What about balancing the budget? How are you going to do it?"
"We'll have the alternative budget details next week," promised Boehner. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had wisely departed the room after offering his opening remarks. ("Today's Republican road-to-recovery is the latest in a series of GOP initiatives, solutions and plans," he had offered.)
A third reporter asked Boehner about the Republican goal for deficit reduction, noting President Obama aimed to cut it in half in five years. "What's your goal?"
"To do better," said Boehner.
"How? How much?"
"You'll see next week."
"Wait. Why not today? Because he asked you to present a budget."
"Now, hold on," said Boehner. "The president came to Capitol Hill and laid out his blueprint for his budget during the State of the Union. He didn't offer his details until days later."
"In general, where do you see cuts coming?" the Huffington Post asked.
"We'll wait and see next week," he said.
Another reporter reminded Boehner that he has "criticized Democrats for throwing together a stimulus quickly and nobody knew what they were voting on. Are you saying that your budget will be unveiled on the same day that the House is expected to vote on it?"
"No, I expect it'll be out next week," he said, though the House is expected to vote on the budget next week. "But understand that a budget really is a one-page document. It's just a bunch of numbers."
Though not today, of course.
As Boehner left, a reporter attempted to pin him down on whether the party would oppose all bailouts in the future.
"Mmm," he said, pausing at the door. "We'll see."
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is also unhappy with the friendly fire. Bayh…found himself targeted by an ad accusing him of “standing in the way of President Obama’s reforms.” “We literally have no agenda,” Bayh shot back. “How can they be threatened by a group that has taken no policy positions?”
Bayh’s claim that his group has no agenda is hard to believe. Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal explained yesterday, the group’s “stated goal is to…protect business interests.” Even before the group was officially formed, their efforts dampened a number of progressive policy proposals and they clearly have aspirations to expand their portfolio:
– Shrinking Economic Recovery: The group’s first significant “success” was “paring down the more than $900 billion economic stimulus bill to $787 billion,” reducing the government’s ability to spur economic recovery quickly. [Roll Call, 3/12/2009]
– Preserving The Bush Tax Cuts: Regarding Obama’s plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, Bayh said, “I do think that before we raise revenue, we first should look to see if there are ways we can cut back on spending.” [Politico, 3/3/2009]
– Delaying Cap-and-Trade: Bayh coaltion member, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), explained that the group might “push for a more lenient phase-in period for a cap-and-trade system and revenue-raising offsets to pay for expensive mandates.” [CQ Politics, 3/9/2009]
– Weakening Bankruptcy Protection: Centrist Democrats “forced changes to a House bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, ensuring that the legislation better reflected the concerns of the financial-services industry.” [WSJ, 3/25/09]
If Bayh is to be believed and his new group of moderates “literally have no agenda,” then what exactly are they doing? As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow explained last night, it appears that Bayh and his colleagues have found at least one niche to fill by helping Republicans obstruct the President’s agenda and deny voters the policies they endorsed last November:
Anyone voting against a Democratic agenda voted Republican. Those votes produced a very small Republican minority in Congress. A small minority that now has way more power than they otherwise would because of conservative Democrats deciding to give Republicans as much power as they can.
Kristol’s new “political organization” for neoconservatives is now a reality:
A newly-formed and still obscure neo-conservative foreign policy organisation is giving some observers flashbacks to the 1990s, when its predecessor staked out the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy that came to fruition under the George W. Bush administration.
The blandly-named Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) - the brainchild of Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, neo-conservative foreign policy guru Robert Kagan, and former Bush administration official Dan Senor - has thus far kept a low profile; its only activity to this point has been to sponsor a conference pushing for a U.S. “surge” in Afghanistan.
Though it’s not mentioned on their Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) bio page, Kristol and Kagan were co-founders of PNAC in 1997. Matt Duss writes at the Wonk Room that Kristol and Kagan seem to be re-naming their old organization because it became “inextricably bound in the public’s imagination to one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history,” the invasion of Iraq.
Noting that FPI’s first public event next week, Afghanistan: Planning For Success, features a heavy representation of Iraq war advocates, Duss suggests that a far better title for the event would be Afghanistan: Dealing With The Huge Problems Created By Many Of The People On This Very Stage.
From Think Progress by Ali Frick
Today, MSNBC cut away from its live coverage of President Obama’s web town hall to cover the House Republican press conference on its alternative budget. This afternoon, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer expressed her exasperation that the GOP still had not offered any real, specific plans. “Give me some substance!” she proclaimed:
BREWER: Here’s the thing. They say, We have a plan — and proceeded not to tell us what that plan is. They sent us some paperwork. It’s got no numbers attached. I understand, it takes time to do math. I would be content even doing without the numbers. I’m just saying, What are your ideas? You have my attention. We cut away from the president. Give me some substance!
MSNBC’s congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira said that the GOP website promised a “detailed plan.” “I guess details are in the eye of the beholder, but I don’t think most people would call this a detailed plan at this point,” he said. Watch it:
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
GOP Senators Who Used Budget Reconciliation To Pass Bush Agenda Items Now Calling It ‘Chicago Style Politics’
BOND: “In this post-partisan time of Barack Obama, we’re seeing a little Chicago politics. They steamroller those who disagree with them, then, I guess in Chicago, they coat them in cement and drop them in the river.” [NPR, 3/24/09]
Bond appears to be parroting his colleague Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who said any use of budget reconciliation by President Obama would be “regarded as an act of violence” against Republicans, and likened it to “running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.” Other GOP senators have chimed in against reconciliation, with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) calling it a “purely partisan exercise” and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) saying it “would be a mess.”
Despite their howls against Obama, Republicans employed the same procedure to pass major Bush agenda items (which were supported by all four aforementioned Senators):
– The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 1836, 3/26/01] – The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 2, 3/23/03] – Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 [HR 4297, 5/11/06] – The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [H. Con Res. 95, 12/21/05]
As ThinkProgress has noted, Gregg defended using the reconciliation procedure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for domestic drilling in 2005, arguing, “The president asked for it, and we’re trying to do what the president asked for.” Evidently, Gregg has lost the same sense of patriotic duty.
While Republicans seem to be experiencing a particular form of political amnesia from the Bush years, they ought to be reminded that budget reconciliation has been used by several other presidents, including Clinton and Reagan. In fact, Republicans — with Bond and Gregg among the leaders of the charge — were instrumental in pushing through key provisions of their signature legislative agenda, the Contract with America, using budget reconciliation.
A list of instances where reconciliation was implemented:
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1983 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 Balanced Budget Act of 1995 (vetoed) Personal Responsibility and Budget Reconciliation Act of 1996 Balanced Budget Act of 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 (vetoed) Marriage Tax Relief Act of 2000 (vetoed) Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005
The Huffington Post | Megan Slack
Tammy Bruce, guest host for Laura Ingram's radio show, had some harsh words for First Lady Michelle Obama.
Discussing the first lady's visit to a Washington D.C. classroom last week, Bruce incredulously recalled Obama's story about wanting to get A's in school and called out her use of a "weird, fake accent."
"That's what he's married to," Bruce said. "...You know what we've got? We've got trash in the White House. Trash is a thing that is colorblind, it can cross all eco-socionomic...categories. You can work on Wall Street, or you can work at the Wal-Mart. Trash, are people who use other people to get things, who patronize others, who consider you bitter and clingy..."
Friday, March 20, 2009
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he won't spend $700 million in federal stimulus cash.
Sanford's announcement Friday came soon after the White House rejected the Republican governor's second bid to use the money to pay down debt.South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he won't spend $700 million in federal stimulus cash.
Sanford's announcement Friday came soon after the White House rejected the Republican governor's second bid to use the money to pay down debt.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry also have turned down stimulus cash.
Sanford said the federal money would create "an unconscionable level of debt." He has said federal bailouts will lead to high national debt.
While Sanford has railed against the stimulus money, the state's mayors have implored him to take it. State lawmakers already have plans to use the cash.
In all, $2.8 billion in federal money is headed to South Carolina, which had the nation's second-highest unemployment rate in January.
The Observer has learned that MSNBC president Phil Griffin is in discussions with syndicated talk radio host Ed Schultz about possibly joining the network on a full-time basis. It is unclear what exactly the job would entail should Mr. Schultz and MSNBC come to an agreement.
On March 10, Mr. Schultz, who bills himself as the "most listened-to progressive radio talk show host in America," guest-hosted on MSNBC’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As The Observer reported at the time, the appearance touched off a wave of rumors among MSNBC staffers that Mr. Schultz was being groomed to join the network as an anchor.
Eight days later, on Wednesday, March 18, Mr. Schultz was back in the anchor chair, again, filling in for David Shuster on the 6 p.m. show.
One network source told The Observer that an offer has already been extended to Mr. Schultz. A network spokesperson denied that any offer has been made.
When reached by phone on Friday morning, Mr. Schultz also denied that Mr. Griffin had made him an offer. He said that he had received some kind words from MSNBC management on the heels of his guest-hosting gigs. But, according to Mr. Schultz, MSNBC brass has given him no definite word yet about his future—if he has one—at the cable news network.
Speculation about Mr. Schultz’s future role at MSNBC has focused on two time slots: the 6 p.m. hour (currently anchored by David Shuster) and the 10 p.m. hour (which currently features a repeat of Countdown with Keith Olbermann).
Since January, when The New York Times first reported that MSNBC might be considering a new 10 p.m. show, so many rumors have floated around New York and Washington about potential hosts that the subject has turned into something of a punch line among industry insiders. To wit: Last night during an appearance on Countdown, MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell joked that he would like to have an interview he did that morning sent over to Mr. Griffin as an "audition tape" for the 10 p.m. hour.
"Phil's ears just picked up," quipped Mr. Olbermann. "You mentioned him on TV. That would be likelier to get you the job."
For his part, Mr. Schultz has become a familiar face on MSNBC in recent months through a series of guest appearances on a range of programs.
"If you watched last week, you know I'm outraged with my health care bill," Mr. Schultz said, while guest-anchoring 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Wednesday. "But I guess I can't do the same story every time I come on this program."
We'll wait and see.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In the wake of Rush Limbaugh's defense of American International Group (AIG) on his March 16 and March 17 broadcasts, several conservative media figures -- including Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin -- have joined him in condemning criticism of the company's employee retention bonuses. In a March 18 post to his Washington Post Co. blog, Greg Sargent cited Limbaugh's and Hannity's comments in reporting that while "GOP Congressional leaders have roundly condemned AIG and its executives, as part of a strategy to position themselves as heroic defenders of the taxpayers and to paint the Obama administration as weak and ineffectual ... increasingly, leading conservative media figures are moving in a different direction: Defending AIG."
As Media Matters for America noted, on his March 17 broadcast, Rush Limbaugh -- "a great leader for conservatives" -- declared, "A lynch mob is expanding: the peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG, demanding heads. Death threats are pouring in. All of this being ginned up by the Obama administration." On March 16, Limbaugh challenged a caller who opposed the bonuses. The caller said, "I do agree with [President] Obama trying to get these bonuses back from the AIG execs because, I mean, that's our money." Limbaugh replied, "Let me ask you a question. ... You have a company -- let's take AIG out of this 'cause they're so emotionally charged. Let's say that the company being bailed out is the XYZ Widget Company. ... We need them to manufacture widgets and sell widgets and so forth. So why in the world -- or how do you get to the point where you're going to bail out the company, but you don't want the employees to get paid?" Limbaugh later added: "[T]his is not just executives, but executives are employees, too. And in many of these firms, Nathan, their salaries are pretty small. They work on bonuses, via contract based on merit."
Several other conservative media figures joined Limbaugh in defense of AIG. For example:
- On the March 17 edition of his syndicated radio show, Hannity aired Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) statement that if AIG employees do not voluntarily return their bonuses, "we plan to virtually tax all of it. ... [W]e'll put in place a new law that will allow us to tax these bonuses at a very high rate." Hannity then stated: " 'Tax all of it.' In other words, Chucky is coming for you. The government is coming to get your money." Hannity later added: "Whether you like the AIG bonuses or not, think about this: They're going to make a law, and they're going to tax every single penny of it, virtually all of it. In other words, we're going to just steal their money. And they're not going to be able to do a darn thing about it, because we're the government, and if we decide we can confiscate all of their wealth, we're gonna do it."
- On the March 18 edition of his Fox News show, Beck stated that by proposing to recoup the AIG bonuses, Congress is not "trying to solve this problem" but rather trying to "channel the outrage away from their roles" and "direct it toward the faceless bonus recipients at AIG." After stating that he doesn't "like the idea of failed businesses paying bonuses," Beck stated: "But what I really, really don't like here is the idea that we are willing to give in to mob rule, and that's what this is." He added: "I mean, the only thing they haven't said is, 'Bring out the monster.' It's mob rule. They are attempting to void legally biding contracts."
- Later on the March 18 edition of his Fox News show, Beck stated that "I think what these guys are doing in Washington is whipping up mob rule" and asked Malkin, "True or false?" Malkin replied, "Absolutely. Anybody who watched the horror that was the AIG hearing this morning saw the mob rule fomenting." Malkin went on to criticize Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), and Rep. Steven Lynch (D-MA) -- who she stated was "appropriately named" -- for "going after [AIG CEO] Edward Liddy and the employees of AIG, searching for names of the executives and their families for accepting these bonuses."
On the March 18 broadcast of his radio show, Sean Hannity blamed congressional Democrats for the AIG bonuses, falsely asserting that they voted for the bonuses when they voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Hannity stated, "Now, if you're upset about this, you need to understand something, that there's a reason this happened. Every single Senate Democrat voted for those bonuses. Every -- almost every Democrat in the House voted for those, because they voted for the stimulus bill. And by the way, Republicans did not." In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, the economic recovery act did not require that AIG pay bonuses. Rather, the relevant provision in the act, which was based on an amendment by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), restricted the ability of companies receiving money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to award bonuses in the future.
In addition, Republicans did not vote against AIG bonuses by voting against the recovery bill, as Hannity suggested they did, since continuing the status quo would not have limited AIG's ability to pay the bonuses. Indeed, if Republicans had succeeded in defeating the recovery bill, the clause restricting the ability of companies to award bonuses in the future would not have become law. Further, 37 of the 38 Senate Republicans who voted against the final version of the recovery bill previously voted against the Senate version of the bill, which contained the original language of the Dodd amendment. That language stated that companies that received TARP money had to agree to "a prohibition on such TARP recipient paying or accruing any bonus, retention award, or incentive compensation during the period that the obligation is outstanding to at least the 25 most highly-compensated employees, or such higher number as the Secretary [of the Treasury] may determine is in the public interest with respect to any TARP recipient" -- without regard to whether those bonuses had been agreed to prior to the enactment of the legislation.
From the March 18 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
HANNITY: And when you consider that AIG got $173 billion in your hard-earned tax dollars, over a thousand times greater than the $165 million in bonuses being reported ad nauseam, the point is more attention is being given to bonuses than bailouts in the first place. There never should've been a bailout of AIG. AIG is getting your money, and in turn billions of those dollars are going to foreign banks, $20 billion as we pointed out yesterday. It's going to foreign hedge funds, we find out. Goldman Sachs is getting $13 billion of this.
And I want to emphasize something here. And it -- Barack Obama with a straight face telling the American people that this is all for the benefit of you? How does this benefit you in any way? I don't see -- you know, Democrats for years have complained trickle-down economics doesn't work. So this is trickle-down socialism -- that's not going to work. The idea that we can give the elite few millions and millions of our dollars and that hopefully somehow they might go out and spend some of it? Is that the new trickle-down that they're advocating here?
Now, if you're upset about this, you need to understand something, that there's a reason this happened. Every single Senate Democrat voted for those bonuses. Every -- almost every Democrat in the House voted for those, because they voted for the stimulus bill. And by the way, Republicans did not, which provided -- by the way, this provided the legal protection to ensure that these bonuses would be paid.
You can also blame Barack Obama. He signed the bill, he insisted the bill be passed. He used all the fear-mongering he could muster to pass this bill in haste, and despite the fact that members of Congress hadn't even read the bill, despite the fact that Obama himself had never read the bill. Remember, he promised to go line by line and read these bills, and eliminate earmarks -- oh, that's right, the omnibus had 9,000 of them.
Now, if you think this is government you can count on, if this is the government you want running your health care, if this is the way you think we oughta run Congress, if you think this is a way to lead the nation, then you continue to support these guys. You know, the fact that these Democrats are now howling and feigning outrage about bonuses that they voted for, for a bill that they never read, that they protected as a matter of federal law is just an example of how socialism would work when implemented across the board in this country. And how putting the massive expansion of government is, you know, far and beyond what their top priority is. If you like Chicago politics, if you like European socialism, if you like incompetent government, if you like rewarding all the wrong behavior and punishing all the right behavior, then you've got your government. But this is not good government. This is not about fixing the economy. This is about grabbing as much power as possible and taking over as much of the private sector as they possibly can. And they're so obsessed with this that they're not even reading what laws they're passing. How sick is this? And then they attack as a matter of strategy anybody and everybody who dares to question what it is they're doing and how incompetent they are. All right. We'll get into all this. Got a lot more to get to here today. Mitt Romney's going to weigh in on it coming up at the top of our next hour.
—L.D. & A.H.S.
Late last year, some publishers were suggesting that Bush hold off writing a book, because of his dramatically low approval ratings. “[G]iven how the public feels about him right now, I think patience would probably be something that I would encourage,” Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity for Alfred A. Knopf, said.
Alright I have a question, who in the blue hell is going to buy this book? I know those knuckle dragging freaks that still worship the man will but I'm talking normal people. And why would anyone want a book of decision made by Cheney "written" by Bush? And honestly we all know Bush is going to paint the 300 pound turd, why pay 12.98 or whatever it's going to cost when you can watch or listen to that re-writing of history in the right wing media? And speaking of price how much money does Crown think they're going to make with this book? They will need every right wing think tank to bulk buy the book to break even if that.
The biggest single chunk of stimulus money that Palin is turning down is $160 million for education. There’s also $17 million in Department of Labor funds (vocational rehabilitation services, unemployment services, etc.), about $9 million for Health and Social Services and about $7 million for Public Safety.
During the press conference announcing her decision, Palin asked, “Will we chart our own course, or will Washington (D.C.) engineer it for us?” She also quoted Thomas Jefferson and complained about “the strings attached” to the stimulus funds. “What we think we need is kind of a time-out, where we back up, we pause, and we really think about what we’re doing here,” Palin said.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
On Sunday, former Vice President Cheney said that President Obama has already made America more unsafe. When Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked for his reaction to Cheney’s criticisms, Gibbs dryly said that CNN invited the former VP because “Rush Limbaugh was busy,” labeling him “the next most popular member of the Republican cabal.”
Apparently, Gibbs’s remarks were beyond the pale for Karl Rove. Yesterday, on the O’Reilly Factor, Rove denigrated Gibbs, comparing him to “some wise-cracking junior high smart mouth.” “These are real issues,” Rove urged, complaining about Gibbs’s “tone”:
ROVE: What surprised me was frankly the tone of Mr. Gibbs, who sounded like some wise-cracking junior high smart mouth. And it would have been better both for Obama and for the country if Mr. Gibbs had, if he felt it necessary to respond, responded on the merits of the issue rather than, you know, putting such a heavy emphasis on his little sarcastic flip comment. Because these are real issues. These are real issues.
Rove’s holier-than-thou attitude is particularly hypocritical. It is Rove who has launched characteristically sleazy ad hominem attacks on his opponents. It is Rove who is planning to “name names” and single out Bush critics in his new book. And it is Rove who makes “sarcastic flip comments” about his rivals that make him sound like a “junior high smart mouth”:
– Echoing a right-wing smear, Rove called Obama “almost Marxian.”
– Referred to then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) as a “big blowhard doofus.”
– Slandered critics of President Bush as “elite, effete snobs.”
Of course, when Rove called his political opponents “Marxian,” “doofus,” and “snobs,” he was talking about the “real issues.”
NEW YORK — Former President George W. Bush, who once famously called himself "The Decider," is writing a book about decisions.
"I want people to understand the environment in which I was making decisions. I want people to get a sense of how decisions were made and I want people to understand the options that were placed before me," Bush said during a brief telephone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press from his office in Dallas.
Bush's book, tentatively (not decisively) called "Decision Points," is scheduled for a 2010 release by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. It is unusual in a couple of ways.
Instead of telling his life story, Bush will concentrate on about a dozen personal and presidential choices, from giving up drinking to picking Dick Cheney as his vice president to sending troops to Iraq. He will also write about his relationship with family members, including his father, the first President Bush, his religious faith and his highly criticized response to Hurricane Katrina.
Instead of having competing publishers bid, Bush and his representative, Washington attorney Robert Barnett, negotiated for world rights only with Crown Publishers, where authors include President Obama and Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. Barnett used a similar strategy in working out deals with publisher Alfred A. Knopf for another client, former President Clinton.
"Proceeding in this way gets the project going promptly, avoids the time-consuming process of multiple meetings and multiple negotiations, and preserves confidentiality for all concerned," Barnett said.
Financial details were not disclosed, although publishers have openly doubted that Bush would receive the $15 million Clinton got for his memoir, "My Life."
Crown Publishing is a division of Random House Inc. and the deal was handled by Random House executive vice president and publisher at large Stephen Rubin. As head of the Doubleday Publishing Group_ a division recently dismantled in a corporate realignment _ Rubin released Dan Brown's mega-selling "The Da Vinci Code" and Kitty Kelley's "The Family," an unauthorized and unflattering take on the Bush dynasty.
Barnett said that Rubin and Crown had shown "great enthusiasm" and that a deal was made not long after Rubin and Crown officials met with Bush in Dallas.
The structure of Bush's current book is not unlike his "A Charge to Keep," published by William Morrow in 1999 as the then-Texas governor was preparing to run for president. In the foreword to "Charge," Bush noted that he had no interest in a comprehensive, chronological memoir.
"That would be far too boring," he wrote. "The book chronicles some of the events that have shaped my life and some of my major decisions and actions as governor of Texas."
Bush told the AP on Wednesday that he was not "comfortable with the first book, only because it seemed rushed," and that his current memoir would have "a lot more depth," thanks to his years as president. Although he didn't keep a diary while in the White House _ he "jotted" down the occasional note _ he said he began "Decision Points" just two days after leaving the White House and had written "maybe" 30,000 words so far.
Bush is working with research assistants and a former White House speechwriter, Chris Michel.
Once known for his reluctance to acknowledge mistakes, Bush said the book would include self-criticism, "Absolutely, yes," but cautioned that "hindsight is very easy" and that he would make sure readers could view events as he saw them.
"I want to recreate what it was like, for example, right after 9/11," he said, "and have people understand the emotions I felt and what others around me felt at the time."
Asked if he might write about the ouster of his first defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, or about his decision not to pardon Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, choices both openly disputed by Cheney, Bush said he didn't know.
"I made a lot of decisions," he said.
Libby was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in the investigation of the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Bush commuted Libby's sentence and saved him from serving time in prison, but Libby remains a convicted felon.
Bush said he has read other presidential memoirs, including Ulysses S. Grants' highly praised autobiography, a book he enjoyed in part because it was "anecdotal." He said he had "skimmed" Clinton's memoir and had yet to read either of Obama's books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."
Like Clinton, he is a fan of "Personal History," the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir by Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.
Presidential memoirs have rarely satisfied critics or the general public, with exceptions including Clinton's "My Life," a million seller despite mixed reviews, and Grant's memoirs, which didn't even cover his time in office. Bush's father also did not write a conventional memoir; he instead collaborated on a foreign policy book with his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft.
George W. Bush has been talking for months about a memoir, even while he was president, and has said he wanted to give people an idea of the world as seen through a president's eyes. Publishers, noting Bush's low approval ratings and questioning his capacity for self-criticism, have been less enthusiastic, urging him not to hurry. Still, Barnett said he received calls from several publishers about a possible book.
Virtually all the top officials in the Bush administration, from Rice to political strategist Karl Rove, have either completed books or are in the midst of writing them. Cheney has said he plans a memoir and former first lady Laura Bush has a deal with Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Her book, like her husband's, is scheduled for 2010. Barnett, who represents both Bushes, said that Laura Bush's book would come out first.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today, in his “Twitterview” with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) shied away from condemning Ingraham’s gratuitous attacks on his daughter. Stephanopoulos asked McCain, “What do you think of Meghan’s feud with Coulter and Ingraham?” McCain first said, “I’m proud of my daughter and she has a right to her opinions.” When asked if he agrees with his daughter, McCain did not say, simply stating, “like any family we agree on some things and disagree on others”:
Stephanopoulos, seeing that McCain didn’t want to go any further on the matter, tweeted to McCain, “I know I’m not getting anymore on Coulter and Ingraham.”
It’s unclear why McCain wouldn’t directly admonish Ingraham, who has mocked his daughter’s voice, weight, and just yesterday, called Meghan a “useful idiot.” But in the past, McCain has courted the extreme right of the GOP, granting an interview to Ingraham as late as October 2008. Throughout the presidential election, McCain, long considered too liberal by the extreme right, frequently appeared on hate radio shows, and he has a history of defending the bigoted remarks of right wingers.
Is McCain placing right-wing politicking before his own family?
MCCONNELL: “Well, it is an outrageous situation. I wrote Secretary Paulson back in October complaining about the way AIG had been doing its business. […] This is an outrage.” [ABC News, 3/15/09]
SHELBY: “We ought to explore everything that we can through the government to make sure that this money is not wasted. […] A lot of these people should be fired, not awarded bonuses. This is horrible. It’s outrageous.” [AP, 3/16/09]
However, when Congress debated limiting executive pay last month, these same key Republican lawmakers stood firm in opposing such caps. McConnell argued against the “temptation” to “dictate” business practices when it comes to salaries and bonuses:
MCCONNELL: “I really don’t want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do. […] We have to resist the temptation to basically dictate to these businesses how to run every aspect of their operation.” [ABC News, 2/4/09]
Similarly, Shelby demanded a laissez-faire approach to executive compensation as Congress pressed Secretary Paulson for details of the bailout plan:
SHELBY: “It should be up to the board of directors of a private corporation to set the compensation of an executive; it shouldn’t be Congress’s role.” [Washington Post, 9/23/08]
Not all conservatives have backtracked from their previous positions on executive compensation. Rush Limbaugh, on his program yesterday, said, “I am all for the AIG bailouts, and I am all for the AIG bonuses. Well, I’m not for the bailouts, well, in a way I’m for the bailout because I’m for the bonuses.”
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), on the other hand, says he simply feels “outraged” but is not yet walking back what he said in September on opposing salary caps: “I’m not necessarily advocating going forward, that the federal government be able to set salaries across the board for any company.”
Earlier today, CNBC discussed a congressional proposal to create a systemic risk regulator for the financial industry. To analyze the feasibility and necessity of such a regulator, CNBC introduced one of its newest “contributors,” Tony Fratto, who most recently served as former President Bush’s Deputy Press Secretary. But rather than comment on the merits of the systemic risk regulatory plan, Fratto simply claimed that Congress is “dangerously” motivated to over regulate by a thirst for “vengeance” stemming from the current financial crisis. Watch it:
As Pat Garofalo explains at the Wonk Room, Fratto is far from a reliable voice on the economy. Last year, Fratto first claimed that no one was predicting a recession and then argued that admitting the U.S. is in a recession was “relatively irrelevant.” Garofalo asks CNBC, “Was Phil Gramm unavailable?”
The Huffington Post | Megan Slack
Martha MacCallum, co-anchor of the Fox News program "The Live Desk," apologized today after Fox News "inadvertently" used a six-month-old clip of Joe Biden talking about the economy.
The misleading segment featured splices of recent interviews with Obama administration officials discussing the state of the economy. One clip showed Joe Biden saying that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong." The Huffington Post reported yesterday that the clip of Biden was taken from a much earlier stump speech, and that he was repeating a statement John McCain made on the campaign trail.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Chuck Norris claims thousands of right wing cell groups exist and will rebel against U.S. government
From Think Progress
One of the most common topics amongst conservatives these days is who will be their “savior.” Names often tossed around include Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh. However, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) tells the Hill that he’s not sure if anyone is needed:
“I don’t know if we need to have a person who epitomizes the Republican Party right now,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who served under DeLay and Gingrich. “But the advantage is when you don’t have the prima donnas, you’ve got more teamwork.”
MCL brief comment: Laura Ingraham is one that should not even talk about somebody else appearance when Laura looks like Roger from "American Dad"
Meghan McCain sat down with the ladies of "The View" Monday, railing against Laura Ingraham's insult about her being "plus size," commenting on her parents' visit to the show last year and speaking about her father's feeling of vindication at Obama calling some fundamentals of the economy strong.
McCain, who said she'd never even heard of Ingraham before the "plus sized" comment, called it "terrible" and added, "When Tyra Banks went on her show in a bathing suit and said 'kiss my fat ass,' that's what I feel like. Kiss my fat ass!"
Asked by Sherri if her parents had been treated fairly when they were on the show last September, she hedged and said, "Obviously when you see the difference between my parents being on and President Obama and Michelle, I think it's obvious." But, she added, "I think we should move forward."
Elisabeth then asked if Senator McCain felt vindicated at having called the fundamentals of the economy strong during his campaign, only for President Obama to use similar language recently. "Yeah, I think so," Meghan responded. "It's ironic it's the exact language and the exact terms he used earlier. I am sure he does feel vindicated."
However, Obama did not use exactly the same language as his former rival. "If we are keeping focused on all the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, all the outstanding companies, workers, all the innovation and dynamism in this economy, then we're going to get through this," Obama said last week. McCain simply stated that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong."
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama declared Monday that insurance giant American International Group is in financial straits because of "recklessness and greed" and said he intends to stop it from paying out millions in executive bonuses.
"It's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay," Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession.
"How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat," the president said.
Obama spoke out in the wake of reports that surfaced over the weekend saying that financially strapped American International Group Inc. was paying substantial bonuses to executives.
Noting that AIG has "received substantial sums" of federal aid from the federal government, Obama said he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole."
Said Obama: "All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multimillion-dollar bonuses. And all they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules."
"This isn't just a matter of dollars and cents," he added. "It's about our fundamental values."
The $165 million was payable to executives by Sunday and was part of a larger total payout reportedly valued at $450 million. The company has benefited from more than $170 billion in a federal rescue.
AIG reported this month that it had lost $61.7 billion for the fourth quarter of last year, the largest corporate loss in history. The bulk of the payments at issue cover AIG Financial Products, the unit of the company that sold credit default swaps, the risky contracts that caused massive losses for the insurer.
Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, earlier Monday charged that the move to pay bonuses amounted to "rewarding incompetence."
"These people may have a right to their bonuses. They don't have a right to their jobs forever," said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat.
Frank noted that the Federal Reserve Board, using a Depression-era statute, was the institution that gave AIG its initial government bailout, before Congress passed legislation providing for additional assistance and said that not enough safeguards were built into the deal.
It also was revealed over the weekend that American International Group Inc. used more than $90 billion in federal aid to pay out foreign and domestic banks, some of whom had received their own multibillion-dollar U.S. government bailouts.
Some of the biggest recipients of the AIG money were Goldman Sachs at $12.9 billion, and three European banks -- France's Societe Generale at $11.9 billion, Germany's Deutsche Bank at $11.8 billion, and Britain's Barclays PLC at $8.5 billion. Merrill Lynch, which also is undergoing federal scrutiny of its bonus plans, received $6.8 billion as of Dec. 31.
The money went to banks to cover their losses on complex mortgage investments, as well as for collateral needed for other transactions.
"We ought to explore everything that we can through the government to make sure that this money is not wasted," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. "These people brought this on themselves. Now you're rewarding failure. A lot of these people should be fired, not awarded bonuses. This is horrible. It's outrageous."
Frank said he was disgusted, asserting that "these bonuses are going to people who screwed this thing up enormously."
"Maybe it's time to fire some people," he said. "We can't keep them from getting bonuses but we can keep them from having their jobs. ... In high school, they wouldn't have gotten retention (bonuses), they would have gotten detention."
AIG has agreed to Obama administration requests to restrain future payments. Geithner had pressed the president's case with AIG's chairman, Edward Liddy, last week.
"He stepped in and berated them, got them to reduce the bonuses following every legal means he has to do this," said Austan Goolsbee, staff director of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Obama did note in his remarks Monday that Liddy "came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year."
In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did not address the bonuses but expressed his frustration with the AIG intervention.
"It makes me angry. I slammed the phone more than a few times on discussing AIG," Bernanke said. "It's -- it's just absolutely -- I understand why the American people are angry."
In a letter to Geithner dated Saturday, Liddy said outside lawyers had informed the company that AIG had contractual obligations to make the bonus payments and could face lawsuits if it did not do so.
Frank appeared on NBC's "Today" show and Shelby was interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Transcript of Obama's remarks on AIG:
But before I talk about the new steps we're taking to get credit flowing to small businesses across our country, I want to comment on the news about executive bonuses at AIG.
This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed.
Under these circumstances, it's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay. How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?
In the last six months, AIG has received substantial sums from the US Treasury. I've asked Secretary Geithner to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole.
I know he's working to resolve this matter with the new CEO, Edward Liddy, who came on board after the contracts that led to these bonuses were agreed to last year.
This isn't just a matter of dollars and cents. It's about our fundamental values.
All across the country, there are people who work hard and meet their responsibilities every day, without the benefit of government bailouts or multi-million dollar bonuses. And all they ask is that everyone, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, play by the same rules.
That is an ethic we must demand.
What this situation also underscores is the need for overall financial regulatory reform, so we don't find ourselves in this position again, and for some form of resolution mechanism in dealing with troubled financial institutions, so we have greater authority to protect the American taxpayer and our financial system in cases such as this. We will work with Congress to that end.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
On the March 11 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity misquoted President Obama in falsely claiming that Obama "promised the American people" to "eliminate all earmarks." Hannity claimed that "in the debate with [Sen.] John McCain, [Obama] said, 'I'm going to go line by line. I'm going to eliminate all the earmarks.' " Hannity went on to say that Obama "had a golden opportunity to stand up to his party and say, 'I'm a man of my word, I promised the American people, and I'm going to keep it.' " He added, "If you say, 'I'm going to go line by line, I'm gonna eliminate bad programs, I'm gonna eliminate all earmarks,' that seems to me like a broken promise." In fact, during the second presidential debate, Obama said that he wanted "to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper," not that he wanted to "eliminate all earmarks" [emphasis added]. Indeed, as PolitiFact.com and Media Matters for America have noted, during his presidential campaign, Obama actually promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending.
Later in the program, Hannity said: "[I]s it petty if Barack Obama says, 'I am going to go line by line and eliminate earmarks,' and the first bill he signs -- 50 days into his administration -- he signs a bill with 9,000 earmarks? That's a broken pledge."
As Media Matters documented, on his March 6 Fox News show, Hannity made the false claim that Obama made a "campaign promise" to allow "no earmarks." Hannity then aired a clip of Obama stating his desire to "ban all earmarks" from the economic recovery package, falsely suggesting that Obama was referring to banning all earmarks in general. Numerous other media figures have similarly misrepresented Obama's statements regarding earmarks to accuse Obama of breaking a promise.
From the March 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
ALEXIS GLICK (Fox Business News anchor): The president doesn't have a leg to stand on on this. This is why he stood behind closed door and signed off on it. Because you cannot stand there and say that corporations cannot go out and have conferences with their executives or fly on corporate jets or do all these things if you're not going to live up yourself and say to both Republicans and Democrats, "No pork allowed." I'm tired of hearing, "Well, it was the last administration's bill, and therefore we're just going to let this one pass through, and then we're gonna change the rules."
HANNITY: All right. You know what? I'm now getting to the point -- I'm going to have to give you a pass. Because that is very well said, and I am in full and complete agreement --
GLICK: [unintelligible] working on me.
HANNITY: -- with Alexis Glick. All right. But Barack Obama, in the debate with John McCain, said, "I'm going to go line by line. I'm going to eliminate all the earmarks." Now, I think politically speaking, Barack Obama had a golden opportunity to stand up to his party and say, "I'm a man of my word, I promised the American people, and I'm going to keep it." He didn't do that. Was that a big mistake?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA (financial correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America): Well, let me tell you. The people I talk to on Wall Street, of course -- because, you know, Washington, D.C., has now become the financial capital of the world -- and they care about taxes, they care about regulation. That's what they're really focused on right now. And the people I talk to are actually kind of relieved that Obama did this because they want pragmatic leadership. They want a leader that can change if he needs to, and not this idealistic symbolism that he ran on, you know, last year in his campaign.
HANNITY: Pragmatic, but this isn't exactly symbolic. If you say, "I'm going to go line by line, I'm gonna eliminate bad programs, I'm gonna eliminate all earmarks," that seems to me like a broken promise.
KIRSTEN POWERS (columnist and Fox News political analyst): I think that the thing that people have the biggest problem with is the bickering over stupid things. So maybe it's if you are, in fact, bickering over whether to go to war, that's one thing. But I think when you start to get -- I think a lot of times --
HANNITY: Wait -- hey, let me just add one little point to this.
POWERS: -- people don't like to be hearing little things that seem petty or insider-y.
HANNITY: So, wait. But is it petty if Barack Obama says, "I am going to go line by line and eliminate earmarks," and the first bill he signs -- 50 days into his administration -- he signs a bill with 9,000 earmarks? That's a broken pledge. I doubt [former NBA player] Karl Malone's -- did you say your father or your grandfather?
MALONE: My grandfather [unintelligible].
HANNITY: I doubt his grandfather would have broken that promise.
Meghan McCain: ‘I Just Don’t Understand’ The Economy, But I Think A Second Stimulus ‘Doesn’t Make Sense’
This morning on Fox & Friends, John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain railed against President Obama for signing the omnibus spending bill yesterday. “I think it’s so disappointing and it’s scary,” McCain said, referencing the earmarks in the bill. “Hope and change – what’s going on?” She added, “This second stimulus package that Nancy Pelosi’s talking about I think doesn’t make sense.”
Meghan McCain’s comments this morning are surprising, given that last night she was telling MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that she doesn’t know much about the economy. Here’s how McCain responded when Maddow asked her whether she agrees with her father’s call for a spending freeze:
McCAIN: Spending freeze? You know, econ – economic things, I said this last night on Hannity, I said is my — I didn’t even take econ in college. I don’t completely understand it so I’d hate to make a comment one way or the other. That’s – truly of all the things – I keep reading and I just don’t understand it.
Watch a compilation of the clips:
McCain should have stuck with her concession that she doesn’t know much about the economy. Instead, by coming out against a second stimulus, Meghan is contradicting the advice of Nobel Prize winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. “We need a larger and better designed stimulus,” Stiglitz said yesterday. Krugman adds, “It’s rapidly becoming clear that yes, the [first stimulus] was too small.”
The McCain family appears to enjoy commenting on economic matters without knowledge. Despite conceding early on that economics was “not something I’ve understood as well I should,” John McCain ran a presidential campaign trying to convince voters that the fundamentals of the economy were strong.
Um Meghan if you don't know anything about the economy then shut up, that's like the Joker giving lectures about the benefits of mental health. Just write about how you too pretty to get dates or repeat RNC talking points.