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.
As part of a continuation of his "COMЯADE UPDATE" segment he started near the beginning of his show, which became a YouTube sensation, Fox News host Glenn Beck is picking up right where he left off.
Beck, on his March 4 program took on a couple new targets, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and union labor.
"Comrades! Comrades, there is good news from the Western front," Beck said. "Our glorious revolution is starting to take hold on a global scale. Just listen as Comrade Brown pounded our propaganda into the minds of the clueless capitalist pigs today. Listen up."
Beck played a clip from Brown's address of a joint session of Congress, where the prime minister lobbied for the "world" to work together.
Here we go again - another Obama administration/media personality feud in the works.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has no problem addressing media critics of President Barack Obama - even on an individual basis. Since Obama was sworn in as president, Gibbs has addressed criticism from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, CNBC mercantile exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli and now CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
During the March 3 White House press briefing, Tom Costello of NBC News asked Gibbs to respond to remarks from Cramer, who was described as "not a conservative," made on NBC's March 3 "Today" show that he "thought the president's policies, his agenda had contributed to the greatest wealth destruction he's ever seen by a president."
Although an admitted Barack Obama supporter during last year's campaign, CNBC's Jim Cramer has certainly changed his view concerning our 44th president.
On Tuesday's "Today" show, the outspoken "Mad Money" host said: we have "an agenda in this country now that I would regard as being a radical agenda"; Obama's just announced budget "put a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life," and; "This is the most, greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president."
He also called Timothy Geithner "an invisible treasury secretary," and expressed hope that the next time he goes to Capitol Hill "he doesn't throw the drowning man the anvil like he did the last time he spoke" (video and transcript below the fold, file photo):
It was news media conventional wisdom during the 2008 presidential campaign: the worse the economy, the better it was for Democrat candidate prospects. But now that they have the legislative and executive branches and the burden of actually governing, that advantage is slowly being chipped away.
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, who first starting connecting that perhaps a Democrat-controlled federal government might not be the best thing for the United States earlier this year, gave something of a downbeat rant on Feb. 2 about Obama's handling of the economy so far.
"Until the Obama administration starts listening, until they start paying attention to what you're watching - to the stock market, until they realize that their agenda is destroying the life savings of millions of Americans - then all I can give you is caution," Cramer said on his March 2 broadcast.
Maybe it was just too easy to assume the worst of the news network most others in the press love to hate. Or perhaps it was deliberate.
Whatever the reason, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service's Wednesday story about reaction to Barack Obama's sort-of State of the Union Speech the previous evening spent four of its last five paragraphs pinning a report harshly critical of various claims in the speech on Fox News.
True, Fox News's web site carried the story ("Fact Check: Obama's Words on Home Aid Ring Hollow"). But it was actually written by the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn. (Yes, the AP actually wrote an Obama-critical story. More on that in a bit.)
Here are the four paragraphs in question from the AFP report, which otherwise lavishes praise on Obama's speech and rips into Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's GOP response performance:
"Listen, I think the government should stay out," Santelli said to Kudlow about the banking system. "I mean, look at the last plan where we put that money in there. There was talk about obviously the preferred shares and the dividend payments and paying it back, and now that's under review. You know, so we're revising the last plan. We're throwing more money in."
The resolution, according to Santelli, would be to protect the depositors, but let the institutions fail.
Will wonders ever cease? First, a NBC network airs its Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter making a call to action against all the populism that has inundated the political dialogue over the past six months. Now, the same reporter, Rick Santelli, has been invited by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to the White House.
On CNBC's "Street Signs" Feb. 20, Santelli told viewers he would accept Gibbs' invitation. And, although his critics thought he was over-the-top, he said he still felt good about his impassioned plea.
"Well, I tell you what Melissa Lee," Santelli said. "It's been a wild afternoon, but I do want to point out - I do believe I was invited to the White House by Mr. Gibbs and I want to let him know, I would love to. I would love to accept and the decaf sounds good, but I prefer tea, but thank you for bring this into the forefront. This is an issue that means a lot to everybody and I'm glad it's getting a high degree of introspection, debate and I think that's essential. I feel really good about that."
Updated below: Lucasfilm rep says Lucas backs Obama's economic policy, tax hikes on rich.
Noting that "the cornerstone of American capitalism is that you can make as much money as you want when you work for a company," filmmaker George Lucas told CNSNews.com*, adding that he thinks salary caps for corporate executives should be decided by corporate boards of directors, not politicians:
I think it would be a good thing for shareholders to unite and say, "We are not interested in paying our executives this much money." That would work. But it's not the government's job to do that. It's the stockholders' job, but of course, they don't seem to mind [high CEO salaries]. I'm not sure why. I wouldn't pay somebody that much money.
Lucas added that he earns his pay based on the success of his movies:
Before today, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer was known for his outlandish statements and crazed antics that would land him in the public spotlight.
However, Cramer got one-upped today by CNBC's Rick Santelli, calling for something like a "Chicago Tea Party" revolt against the redistributionism that is plaguing our federal government. Cramer, in his "Stop Trading" segment on CNBC's "Street Signs" on Feb. 19, remarked it was odd no one was talking about Exxon-Mobil (NYSE:XOM) downgrade, overshadowed by Santelli's revelation.
"I'm sorry not be screaming about class warfare and how you should have your house ripped out from underneath you, but I actually get excited about stocks," Cramer said.
What's really revolting about this is the studio reaction. While it's maybe half-kidding at times, the fact that strong opposition to government policies expressed by Santelli and the traders makes these reporters instinctively think of the them being "putty" in Santelli's hands and of "mob rule" is very, very telling -- especially since I haven't heard a peep out of any reporter worried about "mob rule" in ACORN's civil disobedience campaign designed to prevent the carrying out of lawful foreclosures.
Here's a transcript of most of what was said earlier today (I would add bolds, but I would have to bold almost everything):
Everything is wonderful and peachy-keen in Obamaland if you rely on the reporting on the front page of The New York Times. Just ask CNBC's Jim Cramer. On his Feb. 12 program the "Mad Money" host dealt with the $789 billion stimulus package.
"Now if you were to believe what's in the papers, holy cow - except for the funny papers - you would think this package was wonderful," Cramer said he said of the reported agreement congressional leaders had reached on ironing out the package's details.
Cramer was referring to a front-page article by Richard W. Stevenson in the Feb. 12 Times, which gave a glowing account of this as a victory in the early stages of the Obama administration.
"Look at the front page of The New York Times today," Cramer said. "I love this one, ‘Measuring a Victory,' by this guy, Stevenson. He's a famous guy, you know? He's not Robert Louis Stevenson, he's Richard W. Stevenson. He writes - it's like a comedy routine - ‘It is a quick sweet victory for the new president and potentially a historic one.' Who edits this B.S.?"
If you needed an alarm to go off signaling President Obama's honeymoon with the press being over, you got it Thursday when former CBS "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather severely chastised the new administration for not doing enough to solve today's economic problems.
Writing for the Daily Beast, the man who once used a forged document in an attempt to bring down former President George W. Bush wondered why more people aren't outraged about how little has been done by Obama and Company to right what he believes is a sinking ship.
Caution -- you're about to enter a no kidding zone:
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.
How could anyone take a principled stand against the $789 billion economic stimulus bill? Any opposition to this massive expansion of the federal government must be sheer political posturing. Or so said Newsweek magazine's Jonathan Alter.
Alter said on MSNBC's Feb. 11 "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" that congressional Republicans oppose the stimulus bill based on an ill-conceived, low-percentage bet that the proposal would fail.
"Well, they're betting on the 30 percent chance, as Joe Biden put it, that it's not going to work," Alter said. "Then they can say, ‘I told you so, it didn't do any good.'"
Imagine for a moment an American newspaper publishing a column with the following opening sentence:
Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?
Not in a million years, right?
Well, on Wednesday, one of the most respected international publications, the Financial Times of London, published such an article written by its associate editor and chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.
In it was an astonishingly frank analysis of what the Obama administration has done and not done to solve the current financial crisis (picture courtesy FT):
The Obama-loving media might adore flowery rhetoric with little substance, but stock investors sure don't.
That's what traders and market professionals said was responsible for Tuesday's stock market collapse after Wall Street was tremendously disappointed with the lack of specifics in the highly-anticipated bank rescue plan presented by newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
As such, it's going to be fascinating to see how sycophantic press members spin the market's almost 400-point decline.
Will it resemble how Bloomberg reported the event:
Some quick takes on the very brief presidential press conference wrap-ups on ABC, CBS and NBC before each returned to entertainment shows a bit after 9 PM EST:
- ABC anchor Charles Gibson lauded how President Obama treated “each question almost as a teaching moment with long and expansive answers.”
- CBS anchor Katie Couric cited how Obama talked “about 'ideological blockage'” against the “stimulus” bill and wondered: “Do you think some of his Republican opponents on the Hill got the message with this news conference tonight?”
- On NBC, Brian Williams fretted Obama wasn't as tough sooner, postulating: “It may be said that if the President had used this voice -- some of the forcefulness we saw there at the top -- the result might, might have been different so far leading into this stimulus package vote.”
A little more on the barely minute-long, or less, post-news conference coverage:
It's a question we've all been waiting to hear answered. Unfortunately, it took a conservative talk radio host to ask it and didn't come from the mainstream media.
In an interview with Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, Pa., on Feb. 9, talk show host Laura Ingraham asked why he and Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are the only three out of 229 Republican members of Congress to support the stimulus. She inquired if it might have had something to do with being invited to the White House by President Barack Obama.
"Is it nice to be wined and dined at the White House?" Ingraham asked. "And, you're treated pretty well when you're a Republican bucking other Republicans, right Senator?"
Specter told Ingraham he wasn't being "wined and dined" by the Obama White House. Specter wasn't on the guest list of one infamous White House party that included several Republican and Democrat members of Congress, which included cocktails and wagyu beef. However, Specter did attend a Super Bowl party hosted by the White House on Feb. 1 as the only Republican member in attendance.
While Capitol Hill is working on a "compromise" I thought it fitting to take a look at how the usual suspects in the media are dealing with Republican leaders that dare speak out and identify elements of the stimulus package that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy. For this task I turned to Rolling Stone Magazine and quickly came upon an article headlined "The Unserious Opposition".
With the simple phrase "And look at what the GOP considers to be pork in this bill", Dickinson takes the common path of those that can't stop living in the past and sarcastically twists the list to portray the Republicans as "Cheneyite" ideologues. In his logic however we find a convoluted line of reasoning that is misleading at best. It exemplifies the typical approach taken by gushing media types that have forsaken their watchdog duties to become members of the Presidential fan club.
Say goodbye to hope and change. It's time to embrace the politics of doom and gloom.
MSNBC host Contessa Brewer, in an interview that seemed a lot like a lobbying campaign for the stimulus set for a vote in the U.S. Senate, quizzed Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., about the possibility that his vote against a stimulus bill could send the country spiraling into a Depression - and endanger the public's footwear.
"But if it fails, if it fails and our economy implodes and we see ourselves stuffing cardboard back in our shoes like they did in the Depression era, are you willing to put your name behind that?" Brewer asked.
"I'm willing to stay here and continue through the weekend, next week, the next week, to try to solve something and get it right - don't rush into something like this country rushed into the bailout program right before the holidays last year," Barrasso replied. "I think that was rushed. We found out that that didn't accomplish the goal."
"This economy requires support from the government, a check from the government in some form or fashion in the trillions as opposed to the hundreds of billions," Gross said to Bloomberg TV on February 5. "And I think President Obama was right - there is a potential catastrophe if Washington continues to focus on $100 or $200 billion. We need something in the trillions."
Gross' proposed amount includes a bailout for the banks, in addition to the stimulus to jumpstart the overall economy.
It's time to wave the white flag and surrender to "post-partisan" unity.
Yes, it's time for conservatives to abandon core principles and just allow the Pelosi/Reid/Obama pork-a-palooza, also known as the stimulus or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, to pass into law. At least that's what one Newsweek columnist would have conservatives do.
Now is not the time for political bickering in this "post-partisan" era, said Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh in a Web exclusive piece for Newsweek dated Feb. 4. Hirsh reflected on how Obama has lost grip on the "agenda in Washington," and complained how the debate on the stimulus has proceeded, "nitpicking over efficiency" instead of debating the size.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) participated in a blogger conference call Monday to discuss President Obama's stimulus package and its prospects for passage in the Senate.
NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard participated in this discussion, and had an interesting exchange with the Senator concerning current tax receipt projections by the White House and what they suggest about the economy.
Don't like the notion of Wall Street employees receiving bonuses? Shoot the messenger - as Adam Green at The Huffington Post has done.
In a Feb. 2 post on The Huffington Post, Green said it was bad form for CNBC "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett to even think about considering the other side of the anti-Wall Street bonus argument, since some Wall Street banks received TARP funds, courtesy of the taxpayer.
"There are, though - well, how should we say this - the taxpayer money is not being used to pay the bonuses," Burnett explained on NBC's Feb. 1 "Meet the Press." "I think people could understand if you work for a company - right? If the three of us worked for a company, your guests, and I lost $10 billion but Steve [Forbes] over there, he made a billion dollars. So overall the company actually loses money, but Steve went and did his very darndest for that company and he made money. So should he be paid for his work? That's essentially what we're talking about here."
ABC's "World News Sunday" found a new twist on the obesity crisis Feb. 1. Apparently, recession can "lead to a spike in obesity."
Anchor Dan Harris introduced the "counterintuitive" report saying, "Americans are cutting back on food spending which could actually lead to a spike in obesity." Why? Because "eating healthy can cost more," ABC's Stephanie Sy reported.
Sy worried about "cheap treats" "that many public health experts fear may cause obesity rates to rise in the recession."
Interviewing shoppers in Aldi, a discount food chain, Sy said "most folks are stocking up on processed foods high in fat and sugar." Acting as the food police, Sy teased one customer about cinnamon Danishes in his cart saying, "What are these about? Very high in fat, very high in sugar."
But like many other media reports about obesity, Sy did not present the argument that ultimately every person is responsible for his or her own food choices.
With all the populist sentiment generated from the economic slowdown by politicians, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is seeing eerie similarities with the comments of President Barack Obama and the words of a communist revolutionary.
Cramer, appearing on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe," drew comparisons between remarks between the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and Obama. Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking on Jan. 30, when he said there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them."
Cramer said that was similar to Lenin's writings. "Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said. "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
Reporter Jason DeParle garnered Monday's lead story slot in the New York Times with an investigation into how the U.S. welfare system, which went through enormous changes in 1996 after President Clinton signed a bill replacing cash entitlement with work requirements and time limits, is functioning state by state during tough economic times ("Welfare Aid Failing to Grow as Economy Lags)."
But DeParle might not be the most objective teller of this particular tale -- his reporting has always been opposed to the welfare reform bill pushed by the GOP and signed by Clinton. At the time, he called it "a bill that begrudges poor infants their Pampers" and warned of more homelessness, drug use, prostitution, and abortions, none of which came to pass.
DeParle doesn't acknowledge that in his story, which began:
Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year, and nationally the number of people receiving cash assistance remained at or near the lowest in more than 40 years.
The trends, based on an analysis of new state data collected by The New York Times, raise questions about how well a revamped welfare system with great state discretion is responding to growing hardships.
Several years ago, the Media Research Center joined with then-Cato economist Stephen Moore (now with the Wall Street Journal) on a book “Dollars and Nonsense” debunking the news media’s top ten economic myths. First on the list was the canard that government spending and deficits stimulate the economy, a premise demolished in an essay written by the Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman.
But as President Obama and the Democrats push a big government spending package that promises to “stimulate” the economy, journalists are once again accepting the idea that such spending can really cause the economy to grow. “How soon will jobs show up? And what kind of jobs?” ABC’s Diane Sawyer eagerly asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday’s Good Morning America.
NBC reporter John Yang also presupposed that the spending plan would boost economic growth. “The recession Mr. Obama inherited is deepening,”Yang intoned on the January 24 Nightly News. “And as the urgency for the stimulus package grows, the president promised the money would be spent carefully.”
As Milton Friedman pointed out, the government can only get the dollars it spends in one of three ways: taxing, borrowing, or creating new money. Taxing and borrowing take from the economy, essentially canceling out the effects of the spending or worse. Creating new money amounts to monetary stimulus, which could boost economic activity whether the new money is spent by government or by the private sector.