January 26th, 2009


Paul Krugman: Bad Faith Economics

As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.


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Limbaugh against stimulus because its success could hurt GOP’s electoral chances.

On Friday, when President Obama met with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss his economic recovery and reinvestment program, he told GOP leaders, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” Asked for a response by National Review yesterday, Limbaugh said that Obama’s “plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters.” He added that passage of the stimulus bill would hurt Republicans electorally:

Obama’s plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR’s New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing “eternal” power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy.

Limbaugh’s argument echoes former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s recent claim that Obama’s stimulus plan “could create a major electoral advantage for Democrats at taxpayer expense.” “Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House,” said Blackwell.


  • bispo

Yay!! Best Line @ End: Will Obama Save Liberalism?

All good things must come to an end. Jan. 20, 2009, marked the end of a conservative era.

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.

They also have some regrets. They’ll have time to ponder those as liberals now take their chance to govern.

Lest conservatives be too proud, it’s worth recalling that conservatism’s rise was decisively enabled by liberalism’s weakness. That weakness was manifested by liberalism’s limp reaction to the challenge from the New Left in the 1960s, became more broadly evident during the 1970s, and culminated in the fecklessness of the Carter administration at the end of that decade.

In 1978, the Harvard political philosopher Harvey Mansfield diagnosed the malady: “From having been the aggressive doctrine of vigorous, spirited men, liberalism has become hardly more than a trembling in the presence of illiberalism. ... Who today is called a liberal for strength and confidence in defense of liberty?”

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This is William Kristol’s last column.
source: NY Times

14-year-old boy impersonates cop, police say

Teen goes on traffic patrol wearing real police uniform, but is unarmed, authorities say

Collapse ) At an afternoon news conference, police said the boy had no interaction with the public.

After his tour was over, a ranking officer became suspicious of the boy. Police said the officer discovered the teen was not a real police officer when he couldn't produce any credentials. The boy was wearing police-issued pants, shirt, vest, sweater and skull cap, police said.

He was missing his police star, but that was not discovered until after he returned from traffic patrol. Police said the 14-year-old's partner on the traffic assignment did not recognize the boy was underage.

The source said the boy had an empty holster and a newspaper in place of a ballistic vest in his vest carrier.

Police described the boy as a former "police explorer," which means he was part of a community program run through the Police Department's Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) that allows youths to interact with Chicago police officers. He was part of the explorer program in 2008 in the Englewood District.

"The boy was not armed, and the matter is under investigation with Internal Affairs," Bond said.

Bond also said that how the boy acquired the police uniform was under investigation. Police officers need to present identification while acquiring their uniforms, police said.

The boy "has identified an egregious breach in security," Deputy Supt. of Patrol Dan Dugan said.

The boy, whom authorities did not identify since he's a juvenile, is scheduled to appear in Juvenile Court at 10 a.m. Monday.


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Berlusconi once again shares his unique world view.

ROME (AP) — Premier Silvio Berlusconi is being criticized for suggesting that Italy's women are so beautiful they need military escorts to avoid rape.

Berlusconi made the comments Sunday, responding to questions about a proposal to deploy 300,000 soldiers in the streets to fight crime. A series of violent crimes, including a rape in Rome on New Year's Eve and another outside the capital this week, prompted the proposal.

But Berlusconi said even with added police, such crimes can happen, and that "We would need so many soldiers because our women are so beautiful."

Opposition lawmaker Giovanna Melandri said Berlusconi's comments were "profoundly offensive."

Berlusconi says he was complimenting women.


I don't even know where to start. "Complimenting"? Really? And all those poor men, who just can't help themselves around all those beautiful women...

ETA: There's more here. Choice excerpt:

Berlusconi, in an effort to explain himself, said he was complimenting Italian women "because there are only about 100,000 people in law enforcement, while there are millions of beautiful women."

He stressed that rape was a serious and "disgraceful" crime. But he added that people should never forget a sense of "levity and good humor" whenever his comments are concerned.
RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

WaPo asks: Is Reaching Out Futile?

Is Reaching Out Futile?
By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, January 26, 2009; 1:06 PM

In his first weekly address from the White House, President Obama on Saturday described his proposed $820 billion economic stimulus plan in more detail and appealed for public support.

"[I]f we act now and act boldly; if we start rewarding hard work and responsibility once more; if we act as citizens and not partisans and begin again the work of remaking America, then I have faith that we will emerge from this trying time even stronger and more prosperous than we were before," he said.

The public overwhelmingly supports him. According to Gallup, even a plurality of Republicans think he's doing a good job.

But, of course, it's not the public that must approve his plan, it's Congress -- that dysfunctional and widely despised institution that by all appearances still lives and breathes partisan politics.

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1. The public is more eager for bipartisanship. Congress? It's not that simple (or is it?)
2. Some Republicans really do disagree with the content of the plan (ex. amount of tax cuts, spending).
3. Other Republicans believe that a successful Obama plan = New New Deal = further screwing of future GOP political prospects. Ergo, hinging hopes on a failed Obama policy may be beneficial.
4. Senate Republicans may be more eager to cooperate than the House Republicans.
5. Obama has highest approval ratings since Kennedy. Makes it hard for Republicans to oppose Obama's stimulus plan without attacking Obama himself.
6. Obama needs to be more of a fighter. Krugman suggests to Obama to take his "I won" comment to heart and go on ahead.

Obama and Auto Emission Rules

Obama had signed a memorandum today, which asks the EPA to sign a waiver allowing California to set auto emissions rules.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama signed a memorandum Monday requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider an application by California to set more stringent auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards than required by federal law.

California and 13 other states would be permitted to set their emission standards under President Obama's plan.

California and 13 other states would be permitted to set their emission standards under President Obama's plan.

If the EPA grants a waiver allowing California to set its own emissions standards, the nation's largest state will be allowed to require automakers to produce trucks and cars that get better mileage than what is required under the current national standard.

Thirteen other states could take similar action.

"It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil," Obama said. Video Watch Obama discuss energy plans »

Increasing fuel efficiency, he said, is a key step in preventing the United States "from being held hostage" to hostile regimes and the threat of global warming. iReport.com: What should Obama do next?

"I am fearful that today's action will begin the process of setting the American auto industry back even further," replied Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, in a written statement. "The federal government should not be piling on an industry already hurting in a time like this."

Former President George W. Bush's administration rejected California's application, agreeing with automakers that the creation of another set of rules regarding pollution standards for some states would be confusing and unenforceable.

Besides the EPA waivers, Obama also called for automakers to increase their fuel efficiency standards nationwide.

The president also directed the federal government to make its buildings more energy efficient and to find new ways for federal agencies to save energy.

Source: www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/26/obama.emissions/index.html



Red Alert from the Obama White House: e-mail is down.

The crowd that texted, You-Tubed and Twittered its way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue struggled on Monday with a White House-wide e-mail breakdown that had President Obama’s aides distributing information on, of all things, paper. The press secretary, Robert Gibbs, began his daily briefing at 1:45 p.m. by apologizing for the outage.

“Apologies if you’ve e-mailed any of us in the last 2 and a half hours,’’ Mr. Gibbs said, adding he hoped the system would be up and running soon. It was still out of commission at 3 p.m.

No word on the cause of the outage, though many theories were being advanced. Perhaps the techno-savvy Obama team overloaded the system. Or maybe Mr. Obama’s top-secret Blackberry had thrown a kink into the works. Whatever the reason, Mr. Gibbs insisted it was no crisis, and seemed to see an upside in being disconnected – at least for the time being.

I’ve had the calmest morning I’ve had in about 5 years,’’ he said.

NY Times.

(no subject)

Obama in his first big face-off with Republicans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barely a week in office, Barack Obama is already embroiled in the first major political challenge of his fledgling presidency -- trying to persuade Republicans to back his $825 billion economic stimulus plan.

Obama has big Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, lawmakers who are likely to settle their differences with Obama over the plan and support it.

So why is he bothering with Republicans at all?


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(no subject)


White House: Obama thinks oil prices won't stay low

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama believes that oil and other energy prices are not likely to stay cheap for long, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Monday.

"The president believes that the price of oil and the price of energy is not likely to stay at the level it is now," he told a briefing.

"We can make the investments necessary and meet the demand in a growing economy for clean energy that reduces that dependence on foreign oil while at the same time creates a million clean energy jobs."


panda bear

(no subject)


United Nations — President Barack Obama's administration will engage in "direct diplomacy" with Iran, the newly installed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Not since before the 1979 Iranian revolution are U.S. officials believed to have conducted wide-ranging direct diplomacy with Iranian officials. But U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice warned that Iran must meet U.N. Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment before any talks on its nuclear program.

"The dialogue and diplomacy must go hand in hand with a very firm message from the United States and the international community that Iran needs to meet its obligations as defined by the Security Council. And its continuing refusal to do so will only cause pressure to increase," she told reporters during a brief question-and-answer session.

Her comments, reflecting Obama's signals for improved relations with America's foes after eight years under President George W. Bush, came shortly after meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on her first day in her new job.

Iran still considers the U.S. the "Great Satan," but a day after Obama was sworn in, said it was "ready for new approaches by the United States." Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country would study the idea of allowing the U.S. to open a diplomatic office in Tehran, the first since 1979.

Rice said the U.S. remains "deeply concerned about the threat that Iran's nuclear program poses to the region, indeed to the United States and the entire international community."

"We look forward to engaging in vigorous diplomacy that includes direct diplomacy with Iran, as well as continued collaboration and partnership" with the other four permanent members of the Security Council _ Britain, China, France and Russia _ plus Germany, Rice said.

"And we will look at what is necessary and appropriate with respect to maintaining pressure toward that goal of ending Iran's nuclear program," she said.

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  • bispo

Balloon Juice: Smearing their own

The race for the RNC chairmanship has taken an amusing turn (from Greg Sargent):

This image of a parodied USA Today cover is being anonymously blasted around among Republicans — it imagines what the front page of the paper will look like if South Carolina GOP chair Katon Dawson, who was a member of a whites only club, wins the RNC chairmanship:

Some candor from former RNC chair Jim Nicholson on the quality of the six candidates competing for the office:

Nicholson said the six candidates for chair appeared to be capable leaders, but admitted that he had approached higher-profile candidates about running earlier in the election process, including former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, who served as secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration. Both men had the communications skills to perform the job effectively, Nicholson said.


“That’s the field. One of them is going to be chairman and they may rise to the occasion,” Nicholson said. “Or they may already be there.”

Translation: you go to war with the RNC chair you have, not the RNC chair you would have if the party hadn’t scared off every sane person with half a brain.

Update: RSA notes the apostrophe in “white’s only”.

  • bispo

Fox Shows Photos Of Muslim Men: ‘Would You Want A Guy Like This Living In Your Backyard?’»

Since President Obama’s announcement last week that he would shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center within one year, Fox News has done its best to frighten its viewers about the rule:
SEAN HANNITY: That’s somewhat frightening, you’re going to close Guantanamo Bay, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know where you’re going to put these people. [1/23/09]
GLENN BECK: Somebody told me that if this goes through and we put 200 people into this system, that it will shut down our justice system. Our justice system just won’t be able to do it.[1/20/09]
BRIAN KILMEADE: You’re talking about the worst of the Taliban, the worst of al Qaeda, and we have to let them go, give them trials? Why do we need to do this and compromise the CIA and our intelligence bureau — a lot of the intelligence was built on these guys, was done using our clandestine operations. So we have to expose that for these trials? [1/22/09]
Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) said last week that the U.S. could hold the detainees in federal prisons, just like we hold thousands of other dangerous inmates. This morning, Fox and Friends responded by sending a reporter to Murtha’s district to flash photos of suspected terrorists — their only identification being Muslim headgear — and ask residents, “Would you want a guy like this living in your backyard?” Watch it:
Despite Fox’s suggestion that detainees could be pitching a tent in your backyard, Guantanamo detainees transferred to the U.S. for trials would be housed in federal prisons — where dozens of dangerous terrorists are already held. In fact, the United States has already successfully prosecuted 145 terrorism cases in federal court, a sharp contrast to the series of debacles in Guantanamo prosecutions.
Later in the segment, the Fox hosts repeated some of the right wing’s favorite myths about Guantanamo. They endorsed the “great idea” conservatives have been pushing of sending detainees to Alcatraz or a “haunted” prison in West Virginia:
CLAYTON MORRIS: We’ve got Alcatraz that exists. We give tours out there. Put them out on an island on Alcatraz, which is under our jurisdiction. What about Moundsville State Penitentiary? Someone from West Virginia wrote me and said it’s a haunted prison. It’s vacant.
In other words, Fox News and the right wing would prefer to send Guantanamo detainees to theme parks rather than to maximum-security federal prisons.

(Comm) Playing with prodigal sons

Controversial CBO Report On Stimulus Turns Out Not To Exist.

Reports of a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, showing that the vast majority of the money in the stimulus package won't be spent until after 2010, have Democrats on the defensive and the GOP calling for a pullback in wasteful spending.

Funny thing is, there is no such report.

"We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study," a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.

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RDJ - Ent Week Dec 2009

Obama's first formal Presidential interview on Al-Arabiya

Obama On Al-Arabiya: First Formal Interview As President With Arabic Cable TV Network
Huffington Post | Hanna Ingber Win | January 26, 2009 06:39 PM

Barack Obama will do his first formal interview as president with an Arabic cable TV network, ABC News reports. The interview is set to air at 11pm EST, it reports.

As special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell heads off to the region to begin work on negotiating a cease fire between Israel and the Palestinians, President Obama has sat for his first formal TV interview with the Arabic cable TV network Al-Arabiya, ABC News has learned.
Al Arabiya is a 24-hour Arabic news channel based in Dubai that broadcasts across five continents, according to its website.

With a global network of correspondents and bureaus in 40 major cities around the world, Al Arabiya has become a leading source of Arabic-language news throughout the world.


Al Arabiya is part of MBC Group, the largest news and entertainment broadcaster in the Middle East, reaching an estimated 130 million Arabic-speaking people around the world.

A 2003 BBC News profile of the network says it was one of the top-rated pan-Arab stations but "angered the US" for its coverage of the violence in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Donald Rumsfeld called the network openly hostile to US interests, it reports.

In August [2003], US officials strongly criticised al-Arabiya for broadcasting pictures of masked men who threatened to kill members of the US-appointed governing council.

US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker judged al-Arabiya's decision "to air the remarks of these masked terrorists to be irresponsible in the extreme".

[the colbert report] :D
  • imti

Obama is a miserable failure and a cheerful achievement

The googlebombs don't work anymore, but typing in "miserable failure" in Yahoo! and "cheerful achievement" in Live Search still works.

Source 1 & Source 2

EDIT: I didn't realize people would think the "miserable failure" googlebomb was on purpose. Once, the whitehouse.gov site got changed, Bush's bio link got replaced by Obama's. So in essence, Obama inherited the "miserable failure" from the Bush googlebomb. Searchengineland.com gives a better explanation of the whole redirecting thing.
  • bispo

Slate.com: The Obama Conspiracy

You've probably heard stories of swooning foreign reporters, breathless international coverage, fawning headlines in many languages—and I can confirm that it's all true. Having found myself at a London newspaper stand the day after the inauguration, I can attest to what many British and European newspapers chose to run on their front pages that morning: full-page photographs of President Barack Obama, most taken so as to show that crowd of 2 million people below him, all with triumphant headlines in large letters on top.

The rejoicing was not entirely unanimous, of course, not least because the frothy press coverage itself provoked some backlash. One British friend told me that while he'd enjoyed watching the inauguration, "this salvationist acclaim for a political redeemer worries me, since it shows the depth of the almost-universal despair." Similar rumblings were heard elsewhere, too.

Yet there was also another, more negative category of foreign response to Obama's inauguration that is worth noting, not so much because of what it tells us about our new president, but because of what it reveals about the responders. A number of international observers eschewed the general adulation and concluded, simply, that the entire event—the election, the inauguration—was a hoax.

Look, for a typical example, at Pravda.ru, the Russian Web site that succeeded the organ of the Soviet Communist Party. Writing in the spirit of the times past, one of its authors informed readers last week that Obama's presidency was a sham. After all, he "became the president because one needed a scapegoat during hard times of the crisis," and he will not last: "[I]f Obama does not manage to extricate the nation from the crisis in two or three years, the Republicans will unveil their real candidate, and Obama's presidency will finish earlier than expected." The American president is, in other words, merely a temporary placeholder—a description that makes him sound remarkably similar to the current president of Russia.


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dw | carbon prevails

Furious students protest higher ed budget cut

updated 10:28 a.m. PT, Sun., Jan. 25, 2009

A huge crowd and a desperate plea to save their school, students at UNLV say the budget bloodbath must be stopped. The call for action went out and students showed up in full force Thursday night.

It was the largest and loudest rally yet against the governor's plan. Students are upset about the proposed 36 percent cuts to higher education spending. But for UNLV, it amounts to a 50 percent cut to the university with the way the higher education budget is structured. News 3's Steve Crupi reports that it took a while, but students are showing they are willing to fight.

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This happened a couple days ago, but whatever. I just wanted to say this is why I don't want to go to my state school. It's seems like every year they are cutting our education budget. Hell, I have seen commercials basically stating Mississippi is doing better than Nevada when it comes to funding (though, that's more directed at the primary/secondary level but same difference).
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Political Wonkery Beware: CBO: The Full Report


Here is the full report on the House version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which should shed some light on the debate that has been raging over the leaked version last week. Overall the CBO estimates that more than two-thirds, 64%, of the bill will be disbursed into the economy over the next 18 months. Breaking it down, the CBO estimates that $318 billion would be spent and the government would lose $207 billion in revenues by the end of fiscal 2010 for a total of $525 billion or 64% of the $816 billion bill. The difference comes from a holistic look at the bill – adding in the money that would be spent helping the states, shoring up Medicaid, expanding unemployment insurance and Cobra and, of course, tax cuts: another $248 billion in spending over the next decade and a total of $212 billion in lost revenues for the same time period.

This figure, 64%, is more in line with the 75% OMB director Peter Orszag said would be spent over then next 18 months in a letter to Congress. But in looking at discretionary spending – the three-page portion that was leaked to the press, myself included, last week -- things look very similar. Only 41% -- up from the 38% in last week's version – of these funds, which involve the bulk of the infrastructure spending, will make it into the economy by the end of fiscal 2010, or $145 billion out of $356 billion. The stagnancy of these numbers shows that the CBO didn't redefine "shovel ready," and their definition is based on a narrow historical view as Scott Lilly explains.

At any rate, Paul Krugman perhaps made the best argument about why this whole debate is academic on ABC's “ This Week,” and again in Monday's New York Times, when he argued that spending money in 2011 and 2012 will be needed as much as spending right now. "One person's pork barrel is another person's necessary infrastructure investment. And there actually is a lot of necessary infrastructure investment. I think the theme that is particularly striking right now is, everybody's forecast calls for an extended slump in the economy. We are not looking for something what people call a V-shaped recession,” Krugman told George Stephanopoulos. “When some of these people say the spending won't take place till 2011, the CBO's baseline forecast is for 8% unemployment in 2011… So we're looking at a situation where even if some of the projects are continuing to add spending two years out, two-and-a half, even three years out, that's not such a bad thing. Because we are looking at an L-shaped recovery, which is hardly a recovery at all."

P.S. For those interested, here is the CBO's score of the Senate Finance Committee's portion of their version. Still awaiting the other half from the Appropriations Committee, which I assume will come tomorrow as they are due to mark it up.
source: Time's Swampland

(no subject)

Companies slash more than 50,000 jobs

From wire reports
More companies announced major job cuts Monday as they cut costs in the face of a struggling economy.

Even news of a major deal in the pharmaceutical industry had its share of bad jobs news. Pfizer will pay $68 billion for rival Wyeth.At the same time, Pfizer announced cost cuts that include slashing more than 8,000 jobs. After the deal closes Pfizer expects to cut more jobs. The company said it expects eventually to cut the companies' combined workforce 15%.

Companies planning cuts:

General Motors (GM) said it is cutting production at assembly plants in Lansing, Mich., and Lordstown, Ohio, resulting in 2,000 job losses.


In addition, the automaker plans to reduce its production of vehicles this year by adding various weeks of shutdowns at other company plants, said Sherrie Childers Arb, a GM spokeswoman.

She said 800 hourly and salaried jobs will be lost at the Lordstown facility and 1,200 at the Delta Township plant near Lansing.

"We need to right-size our production with our sales and inventory. We need to do that," Ed Peper, GM North America vice president of Chevrolet, said after a meeting with GM dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention Sunday in New Orleans.

Caterpillar (CAT) said it plans about 20,000 job cuts, including positions held by Caterpillar employees, contract and agency workers. The cuts will come through layoffs and buyouts.

The jobs announcement came as Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment, said Monday its fourth-quarter profit plunged 32% and that it expects sharply lower results this year as the world economy continues to contract.


Caterpillar said earnings slid as mining companies and other customers scaled back purchases amid slumping commodity prices, the credit freeze and tough market conditions. The results reflect the troubled state of the global economy as Caterpillar's products are used worldwide in a range of industries.

Caterpillar, an economic bellwether and component of the Dow Jones industrial average, earned $661 million, or $1.08 a share, during the three months ended Dec. 31. It earned $975 million, or $1.50 a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 6% to $12.92 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected Caterpillar to report earnings of $1.31 a share on revenue of $12.84 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. In recent weeks, analysts have forecast continued weak earnings for Caterpillar and other U.S.-based machinery firms, pointing to the weakening construction and mining markets and an infrastructure spending plan proposed by President Obama that may not boost equipment demand anytime soon.

Sprint Nextel (S) is eliminating about 8,000 positions in the first quarter as it seeks to cut annual costs by $1.2 billion.

WHAT SPRINT SAYS: Read the release

The nation's third-largest wireless provider said Monday it will complete the layoffs, about 14% of its 56,000 employees, largely by March 31. About 850 of the reductions are voluntary and the company said it expected a first quarter charge of more than $300 million for severance and other costs.

The company said it is also suspending its 401(k) match for the year, extending a freeze on salary increases and is suspending a tuition reimbursement program.

"Labor reductions are always the most difficult action to take, but many companies are finding it necessary in this environment," Chief Executive Office Dan Hesse said in a news release. "Our commitment to quality will not change."

Sprint spokesman James Fisher said the company is still deciding where the job cuts will come from but said officials will likely avoid significant reductions in its customer service and network quality divisions, where the company has focused on improvement in recent years.

Home Depot (HD) is cutting 7,000 jobs and closing its smaller Expo chain as the recession continues to batter the nation's housing market.

WHAT HOME DEPOT SAYS: Read the release

The nation's largest home improvement retailer said the cuts will affect about 2% of its work force.

Under the plan, the retailer will close its 34 Expo Design Centers, five Yardbirds stores, two Design Center stores and a bath remodeling business that has seven locations. Those stores will close in the next two months.

Its core Home Depot stores won't be affected.

In addition to the 5,000 jobs at the design center, the company also plans to shed 2,000 non-store jobs and freeze the pay of its officers.

Home Depot will record a $532 million pretax charge in the fourth quarter related to the closures and layoffs.

Texas Instruments(TXN), which makes chips for cellphones and other gadgets, said Monday that it will cut 3,400 jobs because demand has slackened amid a slowing economy.

The company said it will cut 12% of its work force — 1,800 jobs through layoffs and another 1,600 jobs through voluntary retirements and departures. Between those and another round of job cuts announced in October, the company expects annual savings of $700 million.

"We are realigning our expenses with a global economy that continues to weaken," said Rich Templeton, chairman and chief executive, in a statement. "By reducing expenses now, we keep TI financially strong and able to invest for future growth."

More cuts:

• Dutch bank ING unveiled a sweeping shake-up that will cut 7,000 jobs, about 5% of its 130,000 workforce, and see CEO Michel Tilmant replaced by board Chairman Jan Hommen.

Corus, Europe's second biggest steelmaker, is cutting 3,500 jobs worldwide, mostly in Britain.



Holy hell I could not get those cuts to work. -__- Sorry guys.

Obama auntie can stay

POTUS’s Aunt Zeituni Onyango can stay in the U.S. at least for now, as immigration proceedings are underway to determine her status. Onyango, who has been living in Boston, has been under a deportation order for four years, but the order to remove her was lifted after a motion to reopen her case was granted last month, CNN reports. Her attorney, Margaret Wong, told CNN that her client hasn’t received any special treatment because POTUS is her nephew, but she did get to go to at least one ball, and had tickets to the swearing in ceremony. She is due in court April 1.



Officials: Family planning money may be dropped

By DAVID ESPO and ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writers David Espo And Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writers – 11 mins ago

WASHINGTON – House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill, officials said late Monday, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama at a time the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.

Several officials said a final decision was expected on Tuesday, coinciding with Obama's scheduled visit to the Capitol for separate meetings with House and Senate Republicans.

The provision has emerged as a point of contention among Republicans, who criticize it as an example of wasteful spending that would neither create jobs nor otherwise improve the economy.

Under the provision, states no longer would be required to obtain federal permission to offer family planning services — including contraceptives — under Medicaid, the health program for the low-income.

Democrats considered the politically-potent change as congressional budget experts estimated it would take slightly longer for the overall legislation to achieve an impact on the economy than the administration projects.

The Congressional Budget Office said the economy would feel the effects of almost two-thirds of the money over the next year and a half. The administration claims 75 percent of the funding would be absorbed in that period of time, and Obama has pledged that the bill he signs will meet that target and either save or create up to 4 million jobs.

While the debate surrounding the overall impact of the measure pits economists and their statistics against one another, Republicans quickly seized on the family planning money as evidence that the Democrats were advancing an agenda that went beyond the economy.

"How you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives how does that stimulate the economy?" House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said on Friday after congressional leaders met with Obama at the White House. "You can go through a whole host of issues that have nothing to do with growing jobs in America and helping people keep their jobs."

Several Democrats said Monday night that Obama had spoken personally with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., about removing the provision. Waxman is chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over Medicaid and a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The Democrats who described the likely reversal did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to disclose developments not yet made public.

Obama's request to House Democrats underscores the administration's desire to signal a spirit of bipartisanship, a recurring theme for the president in his first week in office.

Whether it also succeeds in gaining votes is unclear, particularly in the House, where GOP leadership has advanced an alternative that consists almost exclusively of tax cuts. The only new spending in the Republican plan is to maintain the current system of up to 33 weeks in unemployment benefits for several additional months.

By contrast, the White House-backed bill includes about $550 billion in spending and $250 billion in tax cuts.

Much of the funding in the Democratic bill is ticketed for health care and education, as well as money to weatherize buildings and build highways and other transportation projects.

A companion measure is making its way to the Senate floor for a vote next week, and congressional leaders have pledged to have legislation ready for Obama to sign by mid-February.

White House Budget chief Peter Orszag said in an AP interview that he's confident that the more ambitious target can be met for getting money into circulation in the economy, especially with changes likely to be made in the bill before it reaches the White House.

"With appropriate attention and proper management, you can both get the money out the door ... and still have well-selected projects," Orszag said.

"I don't see how that's possible," said Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "They'll be just pouring money down on the ground if they achieve that goal."



President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. To send questions, comments, concerns, or well-wishes to the President or his staff


Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Blago's Balls: Still the Biggest

Impeachment trial to proceed without Ill. governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Though Illinois lawmakers are launching an impeachment trial Monday that could remove Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office, the governor himself will be far from the capitol building — instead chatting with Larry King and the women of "The View."

The Democratic governor is refusing to take part in his own trial, arguing that the rules are so biased that he can't possibly get a fair hearing.

"You can conceivably bring in 15 angels and 20 saints led by Mother Teresa to come in to testify to my good character, to my integrity and all the rest. It wouldn't matter," Blagojevich told "Today" in an interview scheduled to air Monday morning.

He also was to appear live on "Good Morning America," "The View" and "Larry King Live," part of an energetic public relations campaign after weeks of near-silence.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday that Blagojevich should be defending himself at the trial. "Barbara Walters is not on his jury," the Illinois Democrat said, referring to the "View" co-host.

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Ill. governor considered Oprah Winfrey for Senate

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod Blagojevich, taking his defense to television rather than his impeachment trial, lashed out at his accusers Monday and revealed he had considered naming Oprah Winfrey to the U.S. Senate.

The embattled governor told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the idea of nominating the talk show host came to him as he explored potential candidates for the job that federal prosecutors allege he tried to sell to the highest bidder.

"She seemed to be someone who would help Barack Obama in a significant way become president," he said. "She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators."

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And the Emmy goes to...Blago

So many journalists have already written about Blago-gate, but what about a TV critic's perspective? Here is Maureen Ryan from the the Chicago Tribune. Guest Starring: Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Grey's Anatomy, Clay Davis and Gaius Baltar.

Blagojevich proves that truth is much stranger than TV's fictions

As the scandal surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich has unfolded, one thought has come to mind again and again: If all of this happened on a TV show, no one would believe it.

The swearing. The hairdo. The poetry quotations. The florid protestations of innocence. The constant drama with attorneys. And finally, an impeachment trial that the politician sits out, having chosen to throw himself on the mercy of Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters.

If all this unfolded week after week on a prime-time drama, we’d be rolling our eyes. “Seriously?” we’d ask. “These writers expect us to believe that a politician would allegedly attempt to sell his office and engage in all of this narcissistic melodrama? And have Elvis’ hair?”

“Come on,” we’d say. “This is just not believable.” And we’d probably change the channel. Maybe we’d watch “Grey’s Anatomy” instead, where the prospect of a character having intimate relations with the ghost of her dead lover seems credible by comparison to l’affair Blago.
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' jules
  • schmiss

Oh bb, you know just what I like to hear.

Matt Damon: Bill Kristol "An Idiot," Bond A "Misogynist Sociopath"

Matt Damon gave an interview to his local Miami Herald speaking out against, among other things, Bill Kristol, torture and James Bond. Damon has done his research, having played Jason Bourne in the "Bourne" trilogy and starring in two CIA movies, "The Good Shepherd" and "Syriana."
"The small talk -- if that's the right phrase -- ranged from which New York Times columnist is the worst (conservative William Kristol, according to Damon: ''He's an idiot -- he wrote that we should be grateful to George Bush because he won the Iraq war. We! Won! The! War!'') to the proper place of torture in American foreign policy.

''Look, the best line about torture I've heard came from [retired CIA officer turned war-on-terrorism critic] Milt Beardon,'' Damon says. ``He said, `If a guy knows where a dirty bomb is hidden that's going to go off in a Marriott, put me in a room with him and I'll find out. But don't codify that. Just let me break the law.'

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Team America references to the left.

Oh and Kristol wants to debate Damon now. God, if you're out there, please let this happen.