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:
So you think Barack Obama has done nothing yet but coddle terrorists, kill unborn babies, and shove through Congress a spending bill of gargantuan proportions? Well, think again, Buster. The Associated Press reported in passing yesterday that The One also "has done wonders to bring the office of the presidency to life for young people."
Now precisely what those wonders are isn't detailed. We have to take the AP's word for it. Still, the piece titled "New e-book captures kids' hopes, dreams for Obama" is brimming with the hope and change we've come to expect in mainstream media accounts of Obama. The article begins:
NEW YORK (AP) — End war, forever. Make the planet greener. Please help my dad find work. Make it rain candy!
Thousands of kids detailed their hopes and expectations for President Barack Obama in letters and drawings as part of a worldwide project, with 150 chosen for a free e-book being released on Presidents Day.
Most had tall orders for the new guy in the White House.
Anthony Pape, 10, of DuBois, Pa., offered: "I hope that we will have no war ever again. I mean why are we fighting why can't we all be friends."
Fellow 10-year-old Sasha Townsend of Soquel, Calif., had a similar request, and then some.
"I would appreciate it if you would try to make this a greener planet and try to bring home the troops and end the war," the fifth-grader wrote. "I am very luckey because I am not part of a military family, but it saddens me to hear about all the people who die in Iraque and know that somewhere In the world people are greiving over a lost family member."
To be clear, we don't fit into any template here, Democratic or Republican or otherwise. I play it down the middle.
Anyone who's seen Sanchez at work knows how funny that is. Throughout his program posts from the microblogging service Twitter crawl across the screen. Known as tweets, the messages Sanchez selects to air come overwhelmingly from liberals.
SANCHEZ: So, by the way, among those participating these days, Rush Limbaugh. He was watching us again this week, when we broke the news about a breakthrough on the president's stimulus package.
And now, as you listen to Rush, see if you can decide who he's more mad at, me for reporting the news of an apparent legislative victory for President Obama, or the three Republicans who broke ranks with Rush Limbaugh and sided with the president?
HARRIS: Let's make a deal. Negotiators say they could agree on a final version of the massive stimulus bill as early as today.
Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is on phone from Capitol Hill.
Dana, really, by today? Is that possible?
DANA BASH, CNN NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Their cautiously optimistic. I think we should stress the word cautious. I'm sitting in the hall of the capitol down the hall from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office. And there is a huge meeting going on, it's even going on for 24 hours. The White House has said the budget director said many some of the key centrist Senators who really hold a lot of power between the House and Senate on the president's stimulus package.
SANCHEZ: You know, it's funny, but, as I hear him (President Barack Obama).talk, I'm just thinking, tax cuts are spending, right? I mean, they really are, because you have got to get it from somewhere.
VELSHI: Right. If you think about it, is -- your own budget, right? If you have less money coming in, you have to have less money going out.
The issue is that -- the argument is that, tax cuts, while it brings less money into the government, which means it lowers the amount of money the government has, which makes it the equivalent of spending, it stimulates the economy, because it lets -- people will use that money in another way.
The way tax cuts could be considered spending, a contention with which Velshi agreed, is if one believes that all income belongs not to the individual earning it, but rather to the government. It's then government's option to determine how much people are permitted to keep and if they're using it "appropriately."
The biggest story in local broadcast news Monday night had well-known names, controversy, plenty of TV reporters on the scene—and it didn't air on a single station that night.
WMAQ-Ch. 5 lead anchor Warner Saunders accused former Chicago Sun-Times TV/radio columnist Robert Feder of bias at the local American Federation of Television and Radio Artists chapter's annual meeting, where Feder was a guest.
Quinn comes in with a squeaky clean reputation at a time when the past two governors have faced serious federal charges.
An Illinois Democrat with a squeaky clean reputation? Now that is news. It also conflicts with assertions made by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in 1996, when he faced Quinn in the party's primary. The (Springfield, IL) State Journal-Register covered a February debate:
It looks like President Obama hasn't gotten acquainted to his White House surroundings. On the way back to the Oval Office Tuesday, the President approached a paned window, instead of the actual door -- located a few feet to his right.
Doors didn't open automatically for Obama’s predecessor either. While making a hasty exit from a 2005 press conference in Beijing, former President George W. Bush tugged on the handles of a door, only to find it locked.
Bush laughed off the blunder, but the pictures still live on as part of Bush's lame duck legacy. However, there was little note taken of Obama's rookie mistake.
But I'm being coy here. We all know what people mean when they say Obama is a "literary" president—and, sadly, it has less to do with our widely beloved new leader than it does with the apparently unloved man he replaced: George W. Bush. Bush became the poster president for the non-literary set, for people who not only don't read, but also seem to be rather proud of not reading. Reading, to certain people, is classified as a sort of prissy, fussy, sissified activity, equivalent to daydreaming or lollygagging. It's a sign of elitism. Of having too much leisure time and too little drive.
Yet shortly before Bush left office, his closest adviser—Karl Rove, now a columnist for the Wall Street Journal—made a shocking revelation: Bush, it turns out, reads. He reads a lot. Two books a week, in fact. That, anyway, is the claim.
That George W. Bush reads would be a "shocking revelation" only to someone whose bias is so pervasive that he - or in this instance, she - spent little time researching the question.
PHILLIPS: Well, if anything, I think this just exemplifies how Barack Obama is going to be out of the box on everything, whether it's who he decides to have speak at the inauguration or what covers he decides to go on the front of or who he puts into his administration. It is all going to be about going out of the box and making people talk and bringing everybody together, whether it's gender, race, whatever it is.
Thinking out of the box, that's Obama alright. Mr. Originality's stacked his administration with loads of Clinton administration retreads. In terms of magazine covers, it's doubtful that he decides which periodicals feature him. Did he pose as Superman for Ms.? Not likely. That would have been a step down for his messiahship.
Then there is Phillips's belief that Obama is "bringing everybody together, whether it's gender, race, whatever it is." That's patently unrealistic. The notion that any politician can bring everyone - regardless of life experiences, political views, values, opinions, and traditions - together is a liberal pipe dream. And a selective pipe dream at that. After years of bashing President Bush and other Republicans, it's expected that magically all Americans will suddenly, joyously unify as one big happy family under Obama.
We've seen the mainstream media afflicted with Palin Derangement Syndrome. We've experienced the media in the throes of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Over at CNN, which modestly styles itself as the most trusted name in news, there's now an outbreak of Joe the Plumber Derangement Syndrome.
Meanwhile, something else to take note of today. I want to share with you the thoughts of Samuel Wurzelbacher -- you know, "Joe the Plumber" -- now Joe the war correspondent. Yes, he's been in Israel filing reports.
And here's his analysis, as reported by the Associated Press. You're going to love this: "I don't think journalists should be anywhere around war. I mean you guys report where our troops are at. You report what's happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it's asinine. I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting, war is hell."
There you have it.
Samuel, let me talk to you directly.
First, I was born in a communist country, so I'm familiar with people like you -- and Fidel Castro, by the way -- not to name drop -- who also think "that media should be abolished."
PHILLIPS: Oh, Lord, Joe The Plumber's got a new gig. It's got nothing to do with the pipes, it's got everything to do with Gaza.
And later again:
PHILLIPS: You've seen the last of this guy? Not. Now Joe The Plumber wants to flush out the truth as a war correspondent. I know, there are just no words. Stay here for details on his Middle East trip.
Minutes later she reported:
Hey, Joe, what do you know? No, seriously, what do you know? Since that whole plumbing thing didn't work out, I mean. Now, Joe Wurzelbacher is decamping to the Middle East. That's right, the plumber slash author slash singer.
His latest career gambit? War correspondent. He's going spend ten days in Israel reporting for the conservative Web site pjtv.com. And he says he hopes to air Israelis' views on the Gaza offensive. Lord, help us.
To some staunch conservatives watching President Bush relinquish the reins of power to President-elect Barack Obama, a few too many ardent liberals are now crashing the gates.
Some well-known Democratic activists are advising Obama on how to steer federal agencies, including a few whom conservative Republicans fought hard to keep out of power in the Clinton administration. They include Roberta Achtenberg, a gay activist whose confirmation as an assistant housing secretary was famously held up by then-Sen. Jesse Helms (N.C.), and Bill Lann Lee, who was hotly opposed by foes of affirmative action and temporarily blocked from the government's top civil rights job.
So who are these conservatives disturbed by the liberalism of Obama's aides? The Washington Post quotes one, Roger Clegg:
"The transition team as described to me was made up of nothing but people on the far left. Though Obama is more moderate, that makes you wonder what kind of advice the president is given, and what range of choices he'll be given when it comes time to make appointments."
In the sheer exhilaration of the impending Age of Obama, it's understandable that some stories are overlooked. One that might not be considered newsworthy is the fact that last year homicides in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago substantially exceeded the number of deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. As the AP itself reported:
According to a tally by The Associated Press, at least 314 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in 2008, down from 904 in the previous year.
Q Can you give us an update on Elian Gonzalez, the boy rescued off the coast of Florida in 1999, then returned to Cuba over the protests of his U.S. relatives?--Mark Larsen, Calhoun, Ga.
A Elian, 15, has been well taken care of by Fidel Castro. His dad was rewarded with a seat in Cuba's national assembly, and the family was given a spacious home. Says Ann Louise Bardach, whose Without Fidel will be published next spring: "Fidel has been known to forget the birthdays of his own children, but never Elian's."
Heartwarming, isn't it? That Fidel is such a sweetheart. So massive is his affection for the young man that he, with the complicity of the U.S. government, forced the terrified boy back to Cuba. Just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Cubans:
are preoccupied with staying afloat in a sclerotic economy where basics like toilet paper often disappear from store shelves and most people eat meat only a few times each month.