Truthout provides the transcript of President Obama's speech: "I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven't been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has - a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It's the job you thought you'd retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that's now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere. But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."
Truthdig.com editor Robert Scheer comments on President Obama's speech: "We are lucky to have Barack Obama as president. I write that even though I believe the content of his Tuesday evening speech deserved no more than a B+ / A-, for its failure to seriously address the origins of the banking crisis and for only hinting at the severe military budget cuts required to get close to his goal of reducing the federal deficit by the end of his first term."
Wired for Progress: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid
Bracken Hendricks writes for the Center for American Progress: "The United States stands at a crossroads. The convergence of a deep economic recession, high unemployment, energy insecurity, and a looming climate crisis demands decisive action. Our country is embarking on an economic recovery plan of historic proportions. Investments in our public infrastructure will be made to get the economy moving, but we need to make sure we get the economy moving in the right direction. Jump-starting economic activity is only the start. The future of our nation’s competitive economic advantage and our long-term prosperity rests on the choices we make now—in particular, whether we build a modernized infrastructure for jobs and growth that uses resources wisely, anticipates the coming demand for low-carbon energy, and captures new opportunities for innovation and improved productivity."
Read the full report (pdf)
Background: Energy grid 101Recommended Audio: CounterSpin for February 20
A new study from Think Progress shows that cable news stories about the stimulus debate were dominated by Republicans, with GOP guests outnumbering Democrats by 2 to 1. This isn’t an aberration says our guest, but a return to the status quo after a brief decrease in conservative media bias caused by Bush era failures. Robert Parry, the publisher of ConsortiumNews.com, and the veteran journalist who broke many Iran-Contra stories, will join CounterSpin to talk about current political coverage.
The Obama Code
George Lakoff writes for Truthout: "The pundits will stress the nuts-and-bolts policy issues: the banking system, education, energy, health care. But beyond policy, there will be a vision of America - a moral vision and a view of unity that the pundits often miss. What they miss is the Obama Code."
The US and Afghan Tragedy
Khushal Arsala and Stephen Zunes write for Foreign Policy in Focus: "One of the first difficult foreign policy decisions of the Obama administration will be what the United States should do about Afghanistan. Escalating the war, as National Security Advisor Jim Jones has been encouraging, will likely make matters worse. At the same time, simply abandoning the country - as the United States did after the overthrow of Afghanistan's Communist government soon after the Soviet withdrawal 20 years ago - would lead to another set of serious problems."
Right Wing Outraged At Chas Freeman’s Appointment To Head National Intelligence Council
Ben Armbuster writes for Think Progress: "Last week, Laura Rozen reported (and Politico today confirmed) that President Obama has appointed Middle East Policy Council President Chas W. Freeman to become chairman of the National Intelligence Council — which is responsible for producing national intelligence estimates. "
Foggo Addendum: In Their Own Words
Marcus Stern reprots for ProPublica: "Court documents released this week in advance of Thursday’s sentencing of former CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Dustin Foggo provide a remarkable glimpse into the mindset of the key players in a sordid drama involving corruption that reached the highest levels of the CIA and touched the agency’s most sensitive and secret covert operations in the war on terror."
Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama after Detailing US Weapons Used in Gaza
Rory McCarthy reports for The Guardian UK: "Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel. The human rights group said that those arming both sides in the conflict 'will have been well aware of a pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take responsibility for the violations perpetrated'"
Irresponsible, Thy Name Is Peterson
Bill Scher writes for The Campaign For America's Future: "In advance of Monday's 'Fiscal Responsibility Summit' at the White House, summit participant Pete Peterson and his foundation launched a $1 million ad campaign, irresponsibly peddling false information about the nation's budget. The ad begins: 'Everyone's focused on the obstacles now facing our economy. But there's a much larger threat: 56 trillion dollars in unfunded retirement and health care obligations.'"
Tough Times in Troubled Towns: America's Municipal Meltdowns
Nick Turse reports for TomDispatch.com: "When Barack Obama traveled to Elkhart, Indiana, to push his $800 billion economic recovery package two weeks ago, he made the former 'RV capital of the world' a poster-child for the current economic crisis. Over the last year, as the British paper The Independent reported, 'Practically the entire [recreational vehicle] industry has disappeared,' leaving thousands of RV workers in Elkhart and the surrounding area out of work. As Daily Show host Jon Stewart summed the situation up: 'Imagine your main industry combines the slowdown of the auto market with the plunging values in the housing sector.' Unfortunately, the pain in Elkhart is no joke, and it only grew worse recently when local manufacturers Keystone RV Co. and Jayco Inc. announced more than 500 additional job cuts."
Labor's Time Has Come, but Trouble Stirs Within
Evelyn Larrubia reports for The Los Angeles Times: "With a Democratic majority in Congress, an economy in meltdown and what many see as the most labor-friendly White House in generations, unions would seem to be poised for a comeback. Experts say they are at a defining moment to rebuild their forces by putting their strength behind an effort to revamp labor laws. So why are some of the most prominent and progressive labor leaders spending time and energy fighting one another for workers who are already members?"
New Report Reveals Why the GOP Hates Unions: They Raise Wages, Boost Economy
Art Levine writes for The Huffington Post: "The Hoover-like GOP has been working overtime to oppose President Obama's stimulus package while hoping he fails. Meanwhile, a report released yesterday by the Center for American Progress Action Fund essentially underscores the real reasons Republicans and the business community have taken another equally short-sighted economic stance: fighting workers' right to organize."
The Conflict Between American Energy Needs and Climate Change
Andrew Thomaides writes for Dissident Voices: "There’s a major conflict brewing between two policy objectives in Washington; energy security (relying on Venezuela and the Middle East for oil) and the Obama administrations commitment to stop global warming. These two stated objectives of the current administration were put to the test on Obama’s first trip abroad as President of the United States."
The Climate Change Lobby
Marianne Lavelle writes for the Center for Public Integrity: "After years of resistance from the Bush administration, global warming advocates are convinced the time has come for passage of major climate change legislation. But even with a sympathetic White House and Congress, the years of delay might well have complicated their task as an army of lobbyists assembled to do battle over the issue. A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms shows that more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in the past year, as the issue gathered momentum and a bill came to a vote in Congress."
Judge Questions Law Giving Telecoms Immunity
Bob Egelko reports for The San Francisco Chronicle: "A federal judge in San Francisco is raising questions about the constitutionality of a law designed to dismiss suits against telecommunications companies accused of cooperating with government wiretapping. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has asked President Obama's Justice Department to present its views by Wednesday on whether the law gives the attorney general too much power to decide whether a company is immune from lawsuits. Obama supported the measure as a senator when Congress approved it last year."
When Asked Whether He Would ‘Consider’ Gay Civil Unions, Steele Replies, ‘What Are You, Crazy?’
Think Progress reports that despite some well-publicized calls for a more inclusive GOP, newly installed Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele rejected the possibility of any kind of legally recognized civil union for gays and lesbians. Appearing on Mike Gallagher's radio show, Steele responded to a question on civil unions by saying, "No, no no. What would we do that for? What are you, crazy?"
Educators Fail Gay Students of Color
Deb Price reports for the Detroit News: "Imagine being a lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender teen who loves singing in the school chorus. Now imagine that experience being spoiled by a thoughtless, homophobic adult -- the music teacher who ought to be striving for harmony. 'My choir teacher constantly makes gay jokes,' a 12th-grade Latino student reported in a new national study. 'And he doesn't realize that he makes it so uncomfortable for us because it's choir. There's a large LGBT community in choir, and he sits there and cracks gay jokes all the time.' In its groundbreaking report, Shared Differences, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network captures what school feels like for America's LGBT minority youth.
The Great Broadband Scam
Dave Rosen writes for the Media Channel: "As President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan begins to be implemented, all the hoopla about infrastructure renewal has evaporated. Unfortunately, as the Associated Press estimates, only $7 billion of the estimated $789 billion stimulus plan (or less then 1 percent) will be targeted to expansion of broadband service and only in underserved rural areas. Other “infrastructure” spending topped $78 billion. These allocations are far below what advocates called for and what America really needs to address the specific requirements of infrastructure renewal, let alone to effectively stimulate the economy. [AP, February 12, 2009]"