Update at end: NBC5's Bob Sirott responds to this post
Persuading Americans that Barack Obama is an effective president won't be easy. So local news outlets are lending a hand when they can. This was obvious last night on Chicago's NBC5 News at 10. Anchor Bob Sirott reported:
And now to a sign the president's economic stimulus is working. Bank of American today announced a $2.8 billion profit for the first quarter. That report was much better than expected and followed positive results from other banks. It also comes after a loss of more than $2 billion for the last three months of 2008. Bank of America received $45 billion as part of the financial rescue package.
Sirott's positive assessment of Obama's plan isn't justified. The big profits he touted are largely illusionary. Andrew Ross Sorkin explained why in "Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air," which appeared in yesterday's New York Times:
The tween girls of the Washington area have transcended differences of race, class and wealth to reach a single, resounding conclusion: They really, really, really, really want to be friends with Malia and Sasha Obama.
They lap up every shred of information about the first daughters, dream about meeting them and strategize ways to make it happen. Minivan rides and dinner table conversations are dominated by questions about the girls: What's their favorite food? What kind of dog did they get? Where can I get a coat like Malia's?
"Sometimes I go up to my room and I just think, 'I want to meet them, I want to meet them, I want to meet them,' " says a desperate Sophie Metee, a fourth-grader at Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda.
Later we learn that fascination with the young ladies "may also have a great deal to do with President Obama's popularity in the country and the region -- he won an overwhelming majority of Washington area votes and enjoys significant approval ratings."
He's the director of the National Security Project of the Progressive Policy Institute.
You guys check on these things...
JIM ARKEDIS, PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE: We do.
SANCHEZ: ...to make sure the figures are right. So because you're down now in the middle, I'm going to ask you the question -- is Senator James Inhofe correct to say that President Obama is "gutting the U.S. military budget?"
Barack Obama promised to elevate the level of political discourse. Some of his apparent admirers didn't get the memo.
Take, for example, this user comment on the Washington Post's 44: The Obama Presidency blog today:
Considering how many people donated small amounts to his campaign, I imagine it would be difficult to find people who couldn't be considered "backers" in some way. I mean one of these guys donated a whopping $250. Yay Matt Drudge! Yay Rush Limbaugh! Way to be more retarded than Palin's down syndrome baby.
It takes courage to be a Catholic educator. In America's culture wars, abortion is the trump card of every moral discussion. Or so the righteous right requires us to believe.
At Notre Dame, the most Catholic of Catholic universities, a national protest is building over the decision by the school's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, to invite President Obama to give the commencement address on May 17.
Marin then goes on to write that Obama's done much more than advancing abortion and embryonic stem cell research. For example, he's "trying to stop the economy from going over a cliff." She approvingly quotes a former Catholic university administrator saying the role of those institutions is to "espouse academic freedom where people are allowed to research, teach and hear many voices on campus . . ." And what would an article mentioning the Catholic Church be without at least one reference to pedophilia? Marin doesn't disappoint in that regard.
You'd think Marin, who prides herself on journalistic professionalism, would at least have started the column with the facts. Obama was not merely invited to give a commencement address. Notre Dame's own Web site acknowledges he will also be "the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree."
Lights went out at tourism landmarks and homes across the globe on Saturday for Earth Hour 2009, a global event designed to highlight the threat from climate change.
From the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and London's Houses of Parliament, lights were dimmed as part of a campaign to encourage people to cut energy use and curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
Organizers said the action showed millions of people wanted governments to work out a strong new U.N. deal to fight global warming by the end of 2009, even though the global economic crisis has raised worries about the costs.
Four paragraphs later appears "BILLION PEOPLE TAKE PART." That isn't supported by what follows, which reports that the founding organization "is hoping one billion people from nearly 90 countries will take part."
But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.
After that come details of the connections between the questioners and His Messiahship.
When a former Alabama judge is indicted on 57 felony counts, including sodomy, kidnapping and paddling jail inmates, that's news. If the judge is a Democrat once under consideration for the Federal bench by Bill Clinton, that part isn't news.
Former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas has bonded out of the Mobile County Metro Jail after he was arrested Friday afternoon. Before his arrest, Thomas was indicted by a grand jury on 57 felony counts, accusing him of, among other things, sexually abusing Mobile County inmates in exchange for favors in his courtroom. Thomas is charged with ethics violations, kidnapping, extortion, sexual abuse and sodomy. The indictment against him includes graphic details of alleged paddling and other sexual favors. Eight victims are named in the indictment. All of the alleged victims are men.
Today's Chicago Tribune, taking a cue from its hero Barack Obama, gave bracketeering a try. The contenders, all former Illinois and Louisiana public officials, were selected for a smackdown to determine the most disgraceful.
The rivals from Louisiana were former Governors Huey Long and Edwin Edwards, former Congressman William "Refrigerator" Jefferson, and former New Orleans City Council president Oliver Thomas (identified as Thomas Oliver by the newspaper.). Weighing in from Illinois were former Governors George Ryan and Milorad "Call Me Rod" Blagojevich, former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and former Chicago alderman Arenda Troutman.
The Trib gave the nod to Edwin Edwards, although I think the competition was marred by not having an Illinois Daley in the competition. Setting that aside, what was interesting is the Tribune didn't mention party affiliation in its bracketeering. Seven of the eight contenders, or 87.5 percent, were Democrats. Gee, what a surprise.
Don't tell them the race is over. Once volunteers for the Obama campaign...a vast grassroots network of supporters is back on the trail. Reactivated. This time, to sell the president's agenda. Michael Lafemina was one of hundreds of volunteers who went door-to-door from New York...to California on behalf of something called Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic Party run by remnants of the Obama campaign.
So in a matter of seconds, Acosta's supposed vast grassroots network was reduced to only hundreds of people. Initial reports in other media suggest the response to Obama's personal call to arms was less than overwhelming.
WHITFIELD: Well, that's interesting, because perhaps one other Republican whose name has been tossed into the whole could he run for president, but he can't, he did accept money for his state, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
STEINHAUSER: Exactly. That is very -- a very different case there, too, because Arnold Schwarzenegger is very much of a moderate Republican. He's kind of on the different end of the spectrum from Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford and Bobby Jindal.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is so bad that in January the government released a $50 billion note — enough to buy two loaves of bread. The unemployment rate has risen to more than 85%. In 2008, Mugabe agreed to hold an election, but it became clear that he would accept the result only if he won. His supporters launched attacks on the opposition, killing 163 and torturing or beating 5000. He ultimately signed a power-sharing agreement with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but since then Mugabe has broken its terms and installed his own people at the head of every ministry. Meanwhile, health conditions have reached crisis levels. More than 3800 Zimbabweans have died from cholera since August.
U.S. link: Although U.S. leaders have called for Mugabe’s resignation, imports from Zimbabwe (primarily nickel and ferrochromium, both used in stainless steel) rose in 2008.
There's actually much more of a U.S. link than that. Unmentioned is the role played by former president Jimmy Carter and other liberals. The Boston Globe reported in December, 1979 that "Carter Administration officials feel they have scored a major foreign policy success in Rhodesia." (Zimbabwe was formerly known as Rhodesia). The purported success was a settlement that set the stage for Mugabe's rise to power. This was months after the Washington Post described him as a "scholarly, avowed Marxist."
California congresswoman Ellen Tauscher is vacating her Bay Area seat to serve under Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
Tauscher, a moderate Democrat and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a message to her constituents that Clinton had asked her to serve as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.
Let's briefly examine the congressional voting record of the "moderate Democrat" Ellen Tauscher. According to interest group evaluations compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2007 the congresswoman received a zero from the American Conservative Union and the National Right to Life Committee, an F from the National Taxpayers Union, an F- from Gun Owners of America, and a 4 from Citizens Against Government Waste.
Barack Obama's optimistic campaign rhetoric has crashed headlong into the stark reality of governing.
In office two months, he has backpedaled on an array of issues, gingerly shifting positions as circumstances dictate while ducking for political cover to avoid undercutting his credibility and authority. That's happened on the Iraq troop withdrawal timeline, on lobbyists in his administration and on money for lawmakers' pet projects.
But just wait. Although it's true that Obama is breaking promises faster than he made them, we can't hold that against him. Sidoti explains:
MARTIN: Ron, in the Black History Month -- Ron, in the Black History Month speech he gave, he acknowledged yet when you talk about in terms of not reaching the Promised Land in this country right now. White women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to a white male. African-American men, 72 cents, black women, 68 cents, for the exact same job. So don't sit here acting as if somehow we have reached equality when it comes to gender and race. He was simply being honest.
And Martin would have been simply honest if he hadn't claimed women and blacks earn significantly less than white males "for the same exact job."
On a day when the number of Americans out of work reached a 25- year high, President Obama made a visit to a place where he could show just how in fact his stimulus plan really is saving jobs.
Bullet point number one tonight: the president in Columbus, Ohio, where two dozen police cadets whose jobs were saved as a result of the stimulus were sworn in as officers today. It's a story we have been following for some time now. The president insists today the nation is now on the right track.
A controversial $410 billion spending bill hits a snag in the Senate. This is the bill we've been talking about with about $8 billion in earmarks. Republicans and a few Democrats are mad about all that pork barrel spending. That led members from both parties to push President Obama to veto the bill.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid says the measure will be opened up for changes next week in an effort to gain more support. The bill is a hold-over from the last administration.
First, let me try and set this up. You have heard the conversation on this newscast and on many other newscasts just a couple of weeks ago. There were many red state Southern governors who were on the record saying we're so angry about this stimulus package, we are so angry about the spending, that we don't want the money. We don't want the money in our states.
You heard that from people like Haley Barbour and Governor Sanford of South Carolina, to a certain extent, from Governor Jindal in Louisiana. What six states, I ask, that resisted the stimulus money are getting for what they're putting into the system now?
In other words, let me rephrase that. How much from every dollar that they get from the government are they giving back or receiving? We have got a brand-new statistic. I want to break this down for you. And these are the six states that we were talking about, six red states.
SANCHEZ: Since the administration of Barack Obama began in this country, has there been a heightened sense of any kind of hate? We first started discovering this last night in one of the interviews we did.
But before we do that, I want to show you something now. I want you to just write down some numbers. These are hate groups in the United States, all right? Let's start with the first year. I think we're going to start with the year 2000 -- 602 hate groups at the time in the United States, as counted by the best resource on this, by the way, the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Now let's go to 2007. Uh-oh. It's going up, 888. Now let's go to 2008. Uh-oh. Going up again, 926.
Minutes later, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
POTOK: Well, as you suggested in your intro, there have been quite a growth over the last eight years.
Until about a year ago, that growth was driven almost entirely by these groups pushing the immigration issue and especially the idea that people with brown skin are kind of coming to destroy our country. In the last year, though, we have seen several other factors come into play, you know, the assent, obviously, of Barack Obama, the announcement by the Census Bureau that whites will lose their majority in this country along about the year 2042, and the crashing economy and worsening unemployment.
PHILLIPS: And as we wrap this up and take it on to the next hour, I know Obama has inspired you tremendously on many different levels. Tell us why.
WONDER: He really echoes the spirits of so many voices that have come before him, talking about bringing us together as a united people of the United States of America. And to live in a time and space where we have a second chance to really make this, again, the great country that we deserve to always be. And I'm just very, very proud to have said to him about five years ago, when he was running for senator, I said, you know, I know that this is what you want to do and this is what your goal is for Illinois. But I really believe that if we pray on this, you'll become the president of the United States. And so we prayed in my studio, at Wonderland Studios. And then here we are in 2009. It's a wonderful thing.
The anchor congratulated Wonder again and then wrapped up her interview:
PHILLIPS: Yes, you are. And he's still got the innocent baby smile. Stevie, great to see you. Come back and see us again, OK?
Americans increasingly see the danger in Barack Obama's scheme to spend our way out of economic difficulty. So for the mainstream media, it's all hands on deck to bolster confidence in Obama and his decisions. The dependable Jonathan Alter reports for duty in the March 2 Newsweek, also posted on the magazine's Web site. Titled "America’s New Shrink: Chin up, everyone. This president is well poised to bring us back from the brink," the article is loaded with happy talk about Obama and his incredible attributes. A few examples:
. . . Because my take on Obama, based on conversations with him and his team stretching back more than four years and extending into the White House, is that he has a firm grasp of the psychological and substantive challenges of the presidency. Equally important, his 2008 campaign proved that he possesses a superior sense of timing. He knows that now is not the moment to cheerlead, not when the financial players are lying dazed on the field. There will be time for that, when the banks have been "restructured" (see, that sounds better than "nationalized") and the credit starts flowing again.
. . . It's early yet and much can change, but the new president is showing signs of carrying himself in a more naturally confident way, with the right blend of traits. He's bold enough to add a couple of zeroes to the conversation about spending, but humble enough to utter those three most unpresidential words: "I screwed up."
Obama's confidence is the product of an unusual combination of good early parenting by his mother and grandmother and his own search for racial identity. "The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment," he writes in "Dreams From My Father" of a moment of painful clarity when he was in high school. His white relatives, he now realized, could never understand him. "I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone."
It's Friday in the East Wing of the Obama White House, the realm of first lady Michelle Obama.
Many of the cream-colored walls are still bare. The Obama administration, after all, is just one month old.
But there is a growing photo collection in the hallways that charts the increasing activity of the first lady in the last two weeks as she settles in to her new role and starts expanding her portfolio of issues.
The newest item on her non-controversial agenda is healthy living. That's in addition to assisting military families, pushing work-family balance, national service, women's concerns and opening up the White House to the community.
Wow! Can you imagine one woman accomplishing so very much so quickly? But the fawning has just begun as Sweet moves on:
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. We do want to thank you for starting with us. It is the 21st of February, and we do want to begin with some breaking news.
HOLMES: Yes, and kind of a -- a shocker that went through the -- the newsroom this morning.
Yes, you remember that name and you remember that face in all likelihood. That is Chandra Levy, the 24-year-old who went missing some nine years ago now -- eight years ago, more specifically. An arrest, we're being told now, is imminent in this case. This is coming to us from our CNN affiliate out in the Bay Area, KGO. This is one of the most infamous D.C. cold cases out there. Again, some eight years old.
Just a little background on this case. You remember this young lady went missing in D.C. Got a lot of attention for one reason because of her relationship that it came out that she had with Congressman Gary Condit, who is no longer a congressman now. But a relationship that came out.
He was never -- there he is there -- never officially a suspect in the case.
HOLMES: But that was a reason this case got so much attention. And now, Betty, as we're hearing, an arrest...
HOLMES: ...is imminent in this case.
NGUYEN: The case not only ended Condit's career, but we are learning this morning that there is a suspect, a man who is indeed behind bars at this hour.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Americans named President Obama as their No. 1 hero, followed by Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King, in a new Harris poll.
Others in the top 10, in descending order, were Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, John McCain, John F. Kennedy, Chesley Sullenberger and Mother Teresa.
People were asked whom they admired enough to call their heroes. Those surveyed were not shown a list of people to choose from. The Harris Poll was conducted online among a sample of 2,634 U.S. adults by Harris Interactive.
This question was first asked in a Harris Poll in 2001. In that survey Jesus Christ was the hero mentioned most often, followed by Martin Luther King, Colin Powell, John F. Kennedy and Mother Teresa.
In a news story not covered by other major media, the Chicago Sun-Times today reported that the Democratic National Committee still hasn't paid Chicago for November's Obama victory celebration. "Obama victory bash owes city $1.74 mil." begins:
Chicago has yet to recoup the $1.74 million cost of President Obama's victory celebration in Grant Park -- despite a burgeoning $50.5 million budget shortfall that threatens more layoffs and union concessions.
"The Democratic National Committee has not yet paid us,'' Peter Scales, a spokesman for the city's Office of Budget and Management, said Thursday after questions from the Chicago Sun-Times. "We're reaching out to them this week."
Stacie Paxton, a spokeswoman for the Obama-controlled DNC, explained the reimbursement delay by saying, "We are still looking at various costs and bills.'' She would not say whether parts of the bill are disputed.
Maureen Dowd's New York Times opinion piece yesterday was "Cheney and the Goat Devil." The mainstream media are reveling in the purported falling out between former President George Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Supposedly the two disagreed over granting Cheney's previous chief of staff, Scooter Libby, a pardon. Dowd joins in the fun:
There were clues in the last couple of years that W. and Condi were trying to sidle away from Cheney by using the forbidden strategy of diplomacy in dealing with Iran and North Korea, and by cutting loose Rummy.
As one official who worked closely with both W. and Cheney told The New York Daily News’s Tom DeFrank the last week of the administration: “It’s been a long, long time since I’ve heard the president say, ‘Run that by the vice president’s office.’ You used to hear that all the time.”
The clearest sign of disaffection we have is Bush’s refusal to pardon Scooter Libby, the man known as “Cheney’s Cheney,” despite Vice’s tense and emotional pleading. It was his final, too little, too late “You are not the boss of me” spurning of Dick Cheney.
It may seem pointless for W. to worry about his legacy at this juncture, but he clearly did not want to add a Marc Rich blot to all the other gigantic blots on the copybook.
Approximating the Marc Rich case to that of Scooter Libby is akin to comparing Barney Frank to John Wayne. They have almost nothing in common, something even Dowd may have noticed.
A number of factors seem to have contributed to the bumpy homecoming: a residual anger among Democrats for the attack-dog role Palin assumed in the McCain campaign, lingering resentment from Republicans for the part she may have played in McCain's defeat, and a suspicion crossing party lines that the concerns of Alaska, at a time of economic crisis, will now be secondary to her future in national politics.
The claim that Sarah Palin hurt McCain's candidacy has been refuted by various sources including, coincidentally enough, The Washington Post. Chris Cillizza covers the White House for the newspaper. Shortly after the election he cited five election myths. One of them was that McCain made a mistake by selecting Palin as his running mate: