Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama to honor Buffett with medal of freedom

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment


WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — President Barack Obama will honor billionaire investor Warren Buffett with the presidential medal of freedom, the White House announced Wednesday. Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.b/quotes/nls/brk.b (BRK.B 79.53, -0.38, -0.48%) , will be one of 15 people to be awarded the medal, which is the country’s highest civilian honor. It is given to people who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.

Buffett is a longtime supporter of Obama’s. Buffett wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Wednesday thanking the government for intervening in the financial crisis.

My Comment:

The country’s highest civilian honor is being given to a man who launders money for the Mexican drug cartels. That 28,000 Mexicans have been killed by the drug cartels is of no concern to either Obama or Buffett.

Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter

November 25, 2010 1 comment


The New York Times

The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

Read full article


Biggest Corporate Profits Ever? We’re All Rich!

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Biggest Corporate Profits Ever? We're All Rich!The Way We Live Now: better than ever before. Ever ever ever! Burn your overflowing excess supply of $100 bills to celebrate the fact that we’ve just had the best quarter of corporate profits ever. Everyone is rich! Except Velma.

It’s true, friends: “American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter…That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago.” Wowza! That’s enough for every man, woman and child in the USA to get $5,500, free and clear! Pay off those debts! Stimulate the economy with silly putty purchasing! Or blow it on blow! It’s all for us, the proud Americans—proud of our businesses, the richest in the world!

So…we haven’t seen that $5,500 check yet, but as soon as we get it in the mail we’ll be celebrating along with everyone else. All you white shoe lawyers who got your bonuses today, the rest of America will be joining you in your fancy dining establishment shortly! All you “just in time consumers” who’ve been holding back on purchasing, prepare to clean out the stockrooms of department stores from coast to coast! You’ll be able to buy all of J. Crew just for your lonesome! Before you know it, Bhutan will be knocking on your door for an investment!

It’s all very exciting!

The only person who has to suffer for our sins: Velma Hart, the lady who became famous for a day after telling President Obama she was getting tired of defending him. Now she’s unemployed. Connected? We’re not saying. We’re just saying.

Velma, your mistake was not believing in American capitalism hard enough. You get unemployed on the same day that the rest of us are going to get rich, sharing in the profits of the American corporations that we all make possible! Capitalism worked out after all! As soon as that check hits the mailbox, I’m digging up Karl Marx—and killing him again! USA!

[Photo: Eric Skiff]

Send an email to Hamilton Nolan, the author of this post, at



U.S. aircraft carrier headed to Korea

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush welcom...

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush welcome South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his wife, K...

Top news: U.S. President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak have agreed to stage joint naval exercises as a first response to North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean military installation today. The exercises will include the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington.

The U.S. faces few attractive options in responding to North Korea‘s latest aggression. It’s clear from recent revelations of the progress North Korea’s nuclear program that sanctions have not been fully effective. But more aggressive responses, such as a naval quarantine, would require thousands of troops and could result in a new war with Seoul on the front lines.

North Korea has blamed the South for pushing the peninsula to the “brink of war” though satellite images show no major military buildup.


Why world leaders smacked down Obama at G20 summit

November 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Jewish World Review

By Howard LaFranchi | (TCSM) How do you say “shellacking” in Chinese? Or German? Or Korean?

Fresh from his self-described shellacking in this month’s midterm elections, President Obama has gotten pretty much the same treatment from foreign leaders as he has made his way through Asia this week.

Leaders at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Seoul, South Korea — China and Germany topping the list — made it clear that they feel freer than ever to stand up to the United States on global economic issues. And South Korea refused to bow to Obama administration demands for reworking a US-Korea free-trade agreement dating from the Bush administration, putting off conclusion of the trade pact until at least next year.

Mr. Obama’s drubbing at the polls Nov. 2 is no doubt one factor in these countries’ willingness to stand up to a US president who remains popular in many of their countries.

“It would be naive to say [the election results] don’t have an impact, because it does hurt him,” says I.M. Destler, who specializes in international security and economic policy at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. “I’m just not certain that if the election had been much more positive for Obama, he would have done much better” in winning global support for his economic views.

Another, bigger explanation for the global defiance can be found in the state of the US economy relative to that of some of the US’s largest trading partners, global economic analysts say. China this year rocketed to the No. 2 slot of world economies (behind the US), while Germany’s unemployment rate is already several notches below the US’s 9.6 percent as German exports have boomed — despite slow overall German economic growth.

But perhaps nothing played a bigger role in lining up international opposition to Obama than the Federal Reserve’s action last week — pumping $600 billion in new money into the economy. The world saw that move as devaluing the dollar to make American products cheaper, rather than as an effort to stimulate US economic growth.

“Remember that before the G20, there was much more pressure on China than on the US in terms of this question of global imbalances” of deficits and surpluses, says Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York. “But given the timing of the Fed’s actions,” just days before the summit, “it makes it look as if the US is behaving no differently,” he adds, “and China exploited that to the maximum.”

One result of the announced US plans? is that China and Germany suddenly found themselves on the same page in their opposition to global measures (as advocated by Obama) to address trade imbalances. “When the Chinese and the Germans find each other, you get a powerful coalescing of interests, and it emboldens them,” says Mr. Destler.

This rejection of the US vision of the way forward for the world economy is not new and certainly does not date from Nov. 2, some experts point out. But it is nevertheless easier for world leaders to tell Obama they do not agree with him when they believe the American people have just done the same.

Another explanation is that countries that early on in the global economic crisis rejected or mostly resisted Obama’s call for hefty stimulus spending to get the economy moving again believe that time has proven them right. German Chancellor Angela Merkel could rebuff Obama’s call for trade rebalancing measures in Seoul smug in the assurance that her nein to Obama’s stimulus prescription last year paid off — at least for Germany.

“Some of what we’re seeing, particularly in the case of Germany, is this feeling that ‘We were right,’ ” says University of Maryland’s Destler.

The G20’s final communique makes a bland reference to watching out for imbalances in trade accounts, but includes no triggers or mention of measures to be taken. And with countries watching out for their own bottom lines in a weak and uncertain global economy, coordinated economic action is not likely to flourish any time soon, international economists say.

“Prospects for common action are very tough at the moment and are unlikely to improve very soon,” says the CFR’s Mr. Steil. It will take a stabilizing of the value of the dollar — which remains the world’s major reserve currency — and a strengthening of the US economy for that to happen, he says.

It may also take a US president in a position of strength — which is not where Obama finds himself at the moment. “He looks very weak on the international stage,” says Steil. “You combine that with the US economy performing as weakly as it is, and it emboldens others to act in ways they might not have otherwise.”


16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe — And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them

November 16, 2010 3 comments

Rush Limbaugh at CPAC in February 2009.

Rush Limbaugh at CPAC in February 2009.

We’ve gone beyond Stephen Colbert‘s’ truthiness’ into a ‘truth-be-damned’ environment.

Americans are often misinformed, occasionally downright dumb, and easily misled by juicy-sounding rumors. But while the right wing is taking full advantage of this reality, the Left worries that calling out lies is “rude.”

Remember when Congressman Joe Wilson stood up during Obama’s State of the Union address and shouted “You lie”? He was chastised soundly by the pundit class. But mostly he drew heat for being impolite, and was compared to Kanye West and other famous interrupters.

Revisiting Wilson’s foolish tirade underscores the state of our upside-down political world. Wilson shouted “you lie” in the face of truth, but President Obama is hesitant to speak up when he’s being slandered with bald, glaring untruths. The dark irony will continue as the Republicans take over the House this winter and the rumors and insinuations from extremist right-wing pundits keep circulating. It feels like no one with a loud enough megaphone has the courage to call a spade a spade, or more accurately a lie a lie.

We’ve gone far beyond Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” into a more “truth-be-damned” environment; what Rick Perlstein described in the Daily Beast as a “mendocracy. As in, rule by liars.”

Here are some examples of recent ways we have made inroads in ignorance:

  • Polling data during and after last week’s midterm elections suggested that many Americans genuinely believe President Obama has raised their taxes — even though the reality is that our president actually lowered them for most of us. This means that people trust pundits like Rush Limbaugh, a major force behind spreading that lie, over the numbers on their own tax returns.
  • Another recent phenomenon? Half of new Congressmen don’t believe in the reality of global warming. It’s not that they don’t just disagree on the source or the severity of the problem. They flat out don’t think the world is getting warmer–despite the evidence outside their windows.
  • The new Congress will probably try to restore millions of dollars of funding for scientifically inaccurate, largely disastrous abstinence-only curriculum in schools, many of which have been shown to spread lies like “condoms don’t work” and “abortion causes cancer.”
  • News outlets picked up a wildly inflated and completely outlandish claim from an Indian blog that Obama’s trip abroad cost $200 million a day–and listeners have swallowed it. (In this case, the White House flat-out denied it.)

The scary thing is, these kinds of rumors have a way of taking root in the popular consciousness. Just as the election season began heating up earlier this year, Newsweek published a list of “Dumb Things Americans Believe.” While some of them are garden-variety lunacy, a surprising number are lies that were fed to Americans by our leaders on the far-Right. This demonstrates that media-fed lies can easily become ingrained in the collective memory if they’re not countered quickly and surely. Newsweek’s list included the following 12 statistics taken from recent and semi-recent polls and surveys. The first half are directly related to right-wing rumormongering.

  • Nearly one-fifth of Americans think Obama is a Muslim. Thanks, Fox news, for acting like this was a matter of opinion, not fact.
  • 25 percent of Americans don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution while less than 40 percent do. Consider the fact that several of our newly elected officials, specifically newly elected Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, share that belief.
  • Earlier this year, nearly 40 percent of Americans still believed the Sarah Palin-supported lie about “death panels” being included in health care reform.
  • As of just a few years ago, about half of Americans still suspected a connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11, a lie that was reinforced by none other than Dick Cheney.
  • While a hefty amount of this demonstrable cluelessness gets better as the respondents get younger, all is not well in the below-30 demographic. A majority of “young Americans” cannot identify Iraq or Afghanistan–the places their peers are fighting and dying–on a map.
  • Two out of five Americans, despite the whole separation of church and state being a foundation of our democracy thing, think teachers should be able to lead prayer in classrooms. So it seems those right-wingers clamoring to tear down the wall between church and state aren’t the only ones who don’t know their constitutional principles.
  • Many Americans still believe in witchcraft, ESP and other supernatural phenomena. Does that explain why Christine O’Donnell was so quick to deny her “dabbling”?
  • Speaking of antiquated religious beliefs, about a decade ago, 20 percent of Americans still believed that the sun revolves around the earth. That’s just sad, considering that even the Vatican has let Galileo off the hook for being right.
  • Only about half of Americans realize that Judaism is the oldest of the three monotheistic religions. Other examples of wild misunderstanding about religion and the separation of church and state can be found in this fall’s Pew survey on Americans’ religious knowledge.
  • This one made a huge splash when it appeared. In 2006 more Americans were able to name two of the “seven dwarves” than two of the Supreme Court justices. And that was before Kagan and Sotomayor showed up. To be fair, Happy and Sleepy are easy to remember.
  • More Americans can identify the Three Stooges than the three branches of government–you know, the ones who are jockeying over our welfare.


US austerity mandate will end Obama college spending spree

November 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Jon Marcus

Midterm elections will turn off federal financial tap to higher education for the next two years. Jon Marcus reports

The Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and a resounding mandate for austerity in last week’s US midterm elections has brought federal largesse for higher education to a screeching halt.

President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress have lavished billions of dollars on universities over the past two years: they simplified access to much boosted student financial aid; encouraged higher graduation rates to restore the US world lead in its proportion of degree-holders; and finalised regulations to protect students and encourage quality.

But in the next two years, even the Administration’s supporters agree, no additional money is likely for higher education, and some of the gains won by Obama may even be reversed.

The graduation initiative, for instance, while its goals may be achieved in some parts of the country, “just won’t happen on a national level”, said Ben Miller, a policy analyst at the Washington think tank Education Sector.

Generous increases in financial aid are also threatened. “Given the growing concern about the federal budget deficit, the likelihood is that there will be enormous pressures on federal spending,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice-president for government and public policy at the American Council on Education. “We are entering a period when budget will define policy.”

At the beginning of Obama’s term, the government gave $22 billion (£14 billion) in stimulus money to higher education, most of it to plug gaping budget holes left by the economic downturn. It also succeeded in eliminating subsidies to banks for making loans to students in favour of direct loans. And while the savings from this turned out to be far less than expected – $52 billion instead of the projected $87 billion – it was enough to bolster direct aid, known as Pell Grants, which don’t have to be repaid, to a record $43 billion.

Financial aid is typically a bipartisan cause. But as the amounts have grown larger than the budgets of eight cabinet-level federal departments, it also has become a tempting target. Mr Hartle said: “Anybody who looks at the Pell Grants has to think, if Congress do decide to cut the budget deficit, they will look at this programme and say, ‘Why has it expanded so quickly and what can we do about it?'”

Republicans have already pledged to return non-defence, discretionary spending to 2008 levels.

Even if they are left intact, the Pells are being outpaced by the tuition fees they are designed to cover – up 7.9 per cent for public and 4.5 per cent at private universities and colleges this year, according to the College Board, during a time when other consumer prices fell by 0.4 per cent. Now the flow may stop.

“The way you starve Pell Grants is by not raising the award level over the years as tuitions go up,” said William Zumeta, a professor of education at the University of Washington and president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

But there are other ways of driving higher education policy. “Not everything takes money,” said Professor Zumeta. It is “possible to share best practices and create national consortia” to press for things such as increased graduation and retention, he said.

One way is to organise a Bologna-style process to standardise academic credit, which is difficult to transfer between states and institutions, clogging the system with students who fail to earn degrees, said Robert Zemsky, founding director of the University of Pennsylvania‘s Institute for Research on Higher Education.

“The Administration can summon leadership,” Professor Zemsky said.

It can also continue to impose regulations, most of which seem to be aimed at fast-growing private, for-profit universities and colleges. Thirteen major regulations were announced the day before the election, including one that would measure the loan debt of students in vocationally oriented programmes as a proportion of their estimated annual income. Programmes with too high a rate of debt to income would lose their eligibility for federal financial aid, effectively shutting them down. Another would prohibit bonuses for recruiters or admissions officers based on how many students they sign up.

But however the Administration moves forward on its higher-education plans, it won’t have any new money to do it.

Even before the Republican victories, Martha Kanter, the US undersecretary of education for postsecondary education, said: “We’ve got our work cut out for us. Like everyone else in this country, we have to do more with less.”