Sunday, January 31, 2010
One of the stranger news notes this week was Bin Laden taking sides in the Global Warming debate... guess which side he picked?
A new message said to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has blamed global warming on the US and other big industrial nations.
The audio tape, broadcast on al-Jazeera TV, urges a boycott of the US dollar "to free humankind from slavery".
It comes days after another tape said to be from Bin Laden was released, praising the attempted bombing of a US airliner on 25 December.
The authenticity of neither tape has been verified.
But IntelCenter, a US group that monitors Islamist activity, has said the voice on the earlier tape appeared to be that of Bin Laden.
"All industrial nations, mainly the big ones, are responsible for the crisis of global warming," the latest tape says.
"This is a message to the whole world about those who are causing climate change, whether deliberately or not, and what we should do about that."
The tape criticises the administration of former US President George W Bush for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on combating climate change.
"Bush the son, and the [US] Congress before him, rejected this agreement only to satisfy the big companies."
The tape also urges a boycott of the US dollar. "I know that there would be huge repercussions for that, but this would be the only way to free humankind from slavery... to America and its companies."
Responding to the earlier audio tape, also broadcast on al-Jazeera, US President Barack Obama said it indicated how weakened Osama Bin Laden had become.
"Bin Laden sending out a tape trying to take credit for a Nigerian student who engaged in a failed bombing attempt is an indication of how weakened he is, because this is not something necessarily directed by him," he said.
A Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is charged with attempting to blow up a transatlantic US airliner over Detroit on 25 December.
The Yemen-based regional wing of al-Qaeda has said it was behind the attempted attack.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I heard about this Annotated State of the Union Address at the Atlantic Monthly....here is how it starts. Read on at the link below.
CLICK ABOVE TO READ IT ALL...
Fallows has linked Obama's State of the Union Address to source and commentary that supports or under cuts the President's presentation.
"Still, by the test that usually matters about SOTU addresses – how they come across in real time, during the largest built-in TV audience a president usually has in the course of the year – I thought Obama did a good job. Details below, but in summary: "
By James Fallows
■He answered the threshold question of, “Is this man beaten? Is he shrinking before our eyes,” less by his explicit answers – “I will not quit,” etc – than with his calmly confident manner, from word one of the speech;
■He answered another question – what would a “populist” or “angry” or “fighting” Obama look like? – in the only way that could work in the long run, which was being “angry” on his own terms. A tremendous and underappreciated advantage for Obama, in my view, is that he is always the same guy. Things look good, things look bad, he’s provoked, he’s successful – but his tone on the stump and airwaves rarely varies more than 10 degrees in any direction. Some of his partisans complain about this when he doesn’t seem committed enough, fiery enough, etc. I think it’s the only way that an out-of-nowhere candidate, not to mention the first non-white candidate with a serious chance at the presidency, made himself seem “familiar” enough to win. It’s hard to think that there’s some “real” Obama we’re not seeing, when every view we ever have is of the same temperament. What this means in this speech: if he had sounded like John Edwards (at one time that would have been a compliment) about “two Americas” or like Bill Clinton in lay-it-on-thick pain-feeling, it would have rung phony.
■He gave his side talking-points for what they’ve tried to do, and still have to do, on the enmeshed questions of jobs/stimulus/health care/reform. In the eight days since Scott Brown’s victory gave Republicans their 41-seat “majority” in the Senate it was an open question of whether Obama would simply declare the health fight over for now. He re-told the strongest side of his case – if we don’t do anything, things will get worse – and laid down a marker for challenging Republicans to act as part of the responsible government again.
■He went on very long – at 70 minutes, about 10 minutes too long to my taste (will suggest specific cuts below) – but past experience suggests that audiences are more patient for SOTU detail than the pundit class generally assumes. AND:
■He did well on the minor stagecraft of the SOTU, including the always-amusing game of tricking the opposition into standing and clapping when they don’t really want to, or leaving them sitting in stony disapproval in ways that don’t look good. Details below.
■Three bonus stagecraft points: 1) No explicit “Lenny Skutnik” moment – calling out the citizens sitting in the First Lady’s box as exemplars of American virtue. The exemplars were there, but he didn’t name them. 2) Great dramatic moment with the Supreme Court, about which more later; 3) On the “purple” question, I am in the “it had to be on purpose” camp. Purple tie on Biden; purple outfit for Pelosi; purple dress for Michelle Obama. Just by accident they all have the color that melds red + blue? I don’t think so…..
Friday, January 29, 2010
DALLAS — U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and political activist Debra Medina ganged up on front-running Gov. Rick Perry on Friday in the final televised debate before the March 2 Republican primary.
Hutchison sought to undermine Perry’s record on the economy by criticizing his oversight of the Texas Enterprise Fund. She characterized the job creation program, created at Perry’s urging in 2003, as a failure and said it lacked transparency.
“These are jobs that mostly would have come here anyway,” she said.
Medina, meanwhile, said Perry had exaggerated the health of the Texas economy and had been unrealistic about the tough times Texans are facing.
“I think the governor has tried to paint with a broad, rose-colored brush to say that everything is great and rosy in Texas and I’ve been able to feel the pain, if you will, of Texans and to know that we’re hurting out there,” she said.
Perry has taken credit for making Texas a bright spot in an otherwise dour U.S. economy. On Friday night he said the budget cuts and lawsuit reforms he has advocated as governor helped set the stage for the state’s relatively strong business climate, and he strongly defended the Enterprise Fund.
“I will defend that any day,” he said. “It is very transparent.”
The three Republican gubernatorial candidates began sparring at 7 p.m. at WFAA-TV studios in Dallas. The one-hour live broadcast, which touched on issues ranging from border security to transportation, was expected to be the last televised debate among the GOP candidates before the March 2 primaries. Early voting begins Feb. 16.
The GOP trio appeared at a televised debate earlier this month in Denton. Original plans for the WFAA event had excluded Medina, but organizers cited a public opinion poll showing the feisty conservative had enough voter support to meet their criteria for inclusion. The same poll showed Perry leading Hutchison by 10 points.
Medina promotes the view that Texas doesn’t have to put up with mandates from Washington and can assert its sovereignty more aggressively through legal “nullification” of federal mandates on environmental protection, health care, guns and other areas. She hasn’t ruled out Texas seceding from the United States and forming an independent nation.
Houston businessman Farouk Shami and former Houston Mayor Bill White are the top candidates vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The Democratic and Republican contenders who emerge from the primaries will face off in November.
The Late-Term-Abortion image motivates killing of abortionists and fuels the opposition to ALL FORMS of contraception that would have prevented it.
A jury in Kansas found Scott Roeder guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of prominent abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Roeder, 51, faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years. He testified that he shot Tiller in the head in the foyer of a Wichita church because he believed the doctor posed an "immediate danger" to unborn children.
What the story does not mention is that Dr. George Tiller was the only abortion provider in Kansas, so this was a major hit for the ProLife movement in Kansas.
Women don't have a ProChoice option in Kansas now. It does mention his role in late-term abortions:
"Dr. Tiller was one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions, and his Wichita clinic was the focus of many protests. It also had been under investigation by a former state district attorney who accused Tiller of skirting Kansas' abortion laws."
AND, it was Checkmate on Late-term abortion options in the United States.
I am sure that Scott Roeder thinks this death was worth 25 years or less of his life.
Lady Gaga's Lessons for the Music Business - WSJ.com:
"Pay attention to that woman opening the Grammys.
At Sunday's awards show, Lady Gaga is expected to play a duet on a single piano with Elton John. She is nominated for five awards, including record of the year, but that's less important than her broader impact on music culture in the space of a year, which has been seismic.
Her debut album has generated four No. 1 songs. She topped the digital sales chart for 2009 with 15.3 million tracks sold. Her dance hits, including 'Poker Face' and 'Paparazzi,' recalibrated the sound of pop radio with a spacey Euro vibe that's crept into songs by rock and rap artists. She grabbed attention beyond the music world with outfits that make her look like a refugee from a sci-fi film. In concert, on video and at past awards shows she has sported full facial masks, worn planetary rings around her head, and framed her face in what looked like a bird's nest.
'She's very vaudevillian,' says an admiring Alice Cooper, the rocker whose history of stage theatrics includes simulated decapitations. But he says Gaga's antics only work because 'she can really sing.'"READ MORE AT THE LINK ABOVE... Lady Gaga FREDDALLAS
Ten years ago, most homes relied on dial-up connections to access the Internet, and iPods, flat-screen TVs and the Nintendo Wii didn't exist.
As we begin 2010, consumers should expect to see more revolutionary products supplanting old mainstays.
In media, DVDs, books, newspapers and magazines will continue to lose ground to services like in-home movie rentals and gadgets like the Amazon's Kindle electronic book reader.
For big-ticket items, the push for energy efficiency will continue to influence consumer decisions on cars and home upgrades.
As a result, some consumer products appear poised for sales drops, which could be a prelude to obsolescence. Here are 10 items not to buy in 2010.
The days of going to a video store to rent a movie are near an end. Blockbuster has said it plans to close more than a fifth of its stores by the end of 2010. (The company didn't return calls for comment.)
Looking ahead, DVD purchases could turn cold as well. An average DVD sells for around $20. That's pricier than signing up for Netflix or renting movies from cable providers' on-demand channels. Netflix charges as little as $8.99 a month to rent one DVD at a time -- with no limit to the number of monthly rentals.
Time Warner Cable offers thousands of movies on demand for around $4.99 each. Verizon cable service charges $5.99 a month to download unlimited movies.
Home telephone service
It will probably take a while, but home land lines could become as rare as the rotary phone.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, more than one in five U.S. homes (22.7%) had cell phones -- and no land lines -- in the first half of 2009, up from 10.5% during the same period in 2006.
Ditching your home phone is easier now than it has been in the past, as cell phone companies compete for greater market share and alternatives to the home land line continue to grow. For example, magicJack provides phone service when it's plugged into a computer’s USB port and a home phone. It costs $39.95 and includes a one-year license for calls in the U.S. and Canada; after that, service costs $19.95 per year. (By contrast, Time Warner Cable's digital home phone service costs $39.95 per month.)
And consider Skype, which is free when you communicate with other Skype users. The software application uses the Internet as a platform to make calls, hold video conferences and send instant messages.
Consumers who keep their computers for years and upload thousands of songs, videos, movies and photos at some point find that they need to get more space.
External hard drives are one option, but they can crash, too. An up-and-coming alternative might be simpler and save you another transition down the road. Online backup services, like Carbonite and Mozy, allow users to back up data over the Internet.
These services quickly become more expensive than purchasing an external hard drive, which typically starts at around $70. At Carbonite.com, a one-year subscription starts at $54.95, and at Mozy.com monthly subscription costs total $54.45 for a year (although you can get 2 gigabytes of storage for free).
In the past few years, several smart phones have hit the market with features similar to the iPhone and BlackBerry, but they haven't generated the same buzz.
As a result, fewer developers are likely to create applications and other products that cater to those phones.
Today, the BlackBerry dominates the smart-phone market with 40% market share, followed by the iPhone with 25%, according to data released by comScore in December. In the near term, both are expected to stay at the top. ComScore found that most consumers who will be shopping for a smart phone in the next three months plan to purchase a BlackBerry (51%) or an iPhone (20%).
By contrast, only 5% of respondents said they planned to purchase T-Mobile's MyTouch. The Palm Pre and Palm Centro received 2% and 1% of the vote, respectively.
Compact digital cameras
For nearly a decade, compact digital cameras were must-haves for most consumers. But during the past several years, another type of digital camera has been slowly rising in popularity: the single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, from manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Sony and Olympus. Although bulkier, these cameras produce pictures that more accurately represent what's in their viewfinders than those that use older technology.
They are also pricier. For example, Canon's digital compact cameras start at $110, while the SLRs start at $570.
The past few years have been unkind to the publishing industry.
In 2008, newspaper advertising revenues declined by 17.7%, according to the Newspaper Association of America. Meanwhile, average daily circulation at 379 newspapers fell 10.6% from April through September 2009, compared with the same period a year ago, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Magazines haven't fared any better. In 2009, more than 360 magazines shut down. During the first half of 2009, ad pages fell 27.9% when compared with the same period in 2008, according to Publishers Information Bureau.
The morning newspaper has been replaced by a growing online media presence -- much of which is accessible for free. Amazon's Kindle -- even with its price tag of around $250 -- and other e-book readers could increasingly become one-stop sources to access newspapers, magazines and books.
When was the last time you bought a CD or even walked into a record store?
The past decade has been devastating to the record industry. At its start, there was Napster. Then came iTunes, which was introduced in 2001 and offered affordable pricing and easy accessibility. Face it, CDs aren’t coming back.
Record stores are feeling the pinch. Most Virgin Megastores in the U.S. have shut down following declines in sales and revenues. In 2004, Tower Records entered bankruptcy, and by 2006 most locations had closed.
New college textbooks
Unless a student absolutely needs brand-new textbooks, she can use several alternatives to save.
Shop for used textbooks, which can help you save 70% to 90% off the retail price, says Mike Gatti, the executive director at the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a trade group. Check out Web sites like CheapestTextbooks.com, BooksPrice or Amazon. Many college bookstores also sell used texts.
Another option is downloading books online. Sites like CourseSmart sell subscriptions to digital copies of more than 7,000 textbooks. TextbookMedia allows students to download textbooks for free. You can also rent textbooks on Chegg.
Skyrocketing gasoline prices made headlines late in the decade, and they remain volatile.
The Energy Information Administration estimates that crude oil prices averaged around $77 a barrel for the fourth quarter of 2009, up from $42.90 in the first quarter. The EIA also projects prices will rise in 2010 to their highest point in more than two years: $81.33 a barrel.
Recent announcements by car manufacturers that they plan to mass-produce fuel-efficient cars could help push consumers away from gas-guzzling vehicles.
According to the Department of Energy, the most efficient cars include the Honda Civic Hybrid, which gets 40 miles per gallon in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, and the Toyota Prius hybrid (51/48 mpg).
Also getting good marks for their efficiency are the diesel-fueled Volkswagen Jetta and Golf.
Energy-inefficient homes and appliances
Ten years ago, shopping for home upgrades involved looking at a product’s functionality and aesthetics. Now, there's a third consideration: energy efficiency.
Today, the products most touted by manufacturers and retailers are those that are Energy Star-certified and those that meet new federal environmental standards.
Most of these appliances and other products come with higher price tags than their counterparts but help lower heating and cooling bills.
In addition, the government is offering a federal tax credit of up to $1,500 on energy-efficient home upgrades. Many of the tax breaks -- including those on eligible insulation, roofs and windows and doors -- are set to expire at the end of this year.
This article was reported by AnnaMaria Androitis for SmartMoney
Philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda Gates said Friday they would spend $10 billion to develop and deliver new vaccines over the next decade, highlighting growing concerns that the global recession and competing government priorities will stifle efforts to control diseases in developing countries.
The money, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, marks an increase from the roughly $800 million the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation now spends annually on vaccine work.
"Hopefully we'll have some breakthroughs," Mr. Gates said in an interview this week, pointing to funding from his foundation aimed at finding a vaccine for malaria.
The money, combined with a call by Mr. Gates for continued investment in vaccines from other donors, comes amid growing worries at the World Health Organization and other health groups that funding shortfalls will stifle the distribution of promising new vaccines and allow diseases like polio to spread in new areas.
Those worries are particularly acute as health officials start rolling out new vaccines that prevent rotavirus, a cause of severe diarrhea, and pneumococcal disease. The new vaccines are fueling concerns in developing countries, many with decrepit primary health care systems, already struggling with how to deliver existing vaccines.
Many African countries, for instance, lack the refrigeration, or "cold chain," needed to keep vaccines fresh while they are being stored and transported.
Mr. Gates said the planned funding means that his foundation will spend a higher proportion of its total endowment on vaccines over the next ten years than it did in the past ten years. "Because of the impact we're seeing from vaccines we'll actually spend a higher percentage on vaccines," he said.
With an endowment of about $34 billion, the Gates Foundation is the world's largest private philanthropy. Since its inception about ten years ago, the foundation has spent $4.5 billion on vaccines, including work on vaccines for malaria, AIDS and rotavirus.
The funding announcement follows a public letter this week, in which Mr. Gates highlighted the need for governments to not to cut their foreign aid amid broader budget and debt pressures.
That threat is exacerbated, he wrote, by the competing priority of global warming, which is expected to tap more public money from nations over the next decade. "I am concerned that some of this money will come from reducing other categories of foreign aid, especially health," he wrote.
Write to Robert A. Guth at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I came across this article in the WSJ today... ProLife seems to mean only selectively for some, but not for all.
Speaking in a measured voice, Mr. Roeder told the jury he considered abortion to be murder. "It is not man's job to take life," he said. Scott Roeder, at his murder trial Thursday in Wichita, Kan., testified he killed Dr. George Tiller in May. A moment later, Mr. Roeder amended that slightly: "It is never up to man to take life. Only in the case of defense of self or defense of others."
Mr. Roeder's attorneys were seeking to prove that he killed the well-known physician out of an honest, even if unreasonable, belief that he had no other option but to use deadly force to protect others—in this case, fetuses—from an imminent threat.
Under Kansas law, that could fit the definition of "voluntary manslaughter," a less serious charge than first-degree murder.
But Judge Warren Wilbert ruled Thursday evening he would not let the jury consider lesser charges because Dr. Tiller posed no imminent danger to anyone as he stood in church that Sunday morning. The judge also pointed out that abortion was legal, and said there was no evidence that Dr. Tiller was in any way breaking the law in his practice.
The prosecution spent 3 1/2 days presenting evidence that Mr. Roeder purchased a gun, test-fired it and repeatedly visited Dr. Tiller's church in the weeks before the fatal shooting. Investigators testified that they found a calendar in Mr. Roeder's home that highlighted the date of May 31—the date Dr. Tiller was fatally shot with a .22-caliber handgun as he welcomed latecomers to the morning service at Reformation Lutheran Church here.
Mr. Roeder, who was the only witness for the defense, told the jury he did not dispute the prosecution's evidence.
"Why did you kill him?" asked Mark Rudy, the public defender.
"If someone did not stop George Tiller, he was going to continue as he had for 36 years," Mr. Roeder said. "The babies. They were going to continue to die."
In his opening statement, defense lawyer Steve Osburn said Mr. Roeder had grown steadily more frustrated over the years by the continued operation of Dr. Tiller's abortion clinic, which drew patients from across the country.
Mr. Osburn chronicled various efforts by antiabortion protestors to force Dr. Tiller to shut his practice, from protests and prayers to violence. The clinic was bombed in 1986; thousands of protesters blockaded the clinic in 1991; Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms in 1993—and none of this "stopped him at all," Mr. Osburn said.
Last spring, a jury acquitted Dr. Tiller on 19 misdemeanor counts of violating the state's late-term abortion laws. Mr. Roeder attended that trial, and after Dr. Tiller's acquittal, he "grew more and more frustrated with the situation," Mr. Osburn said, and began to believe that "if Dr. Tiller was going to be stopped … it was up to him."
But on cross-examination, Mr. Roeder acknowledged he had made up his mind as early as 1993 to kill Dr. Tiller.
Mr. Roeder said he considered various plans, including hiding on a roof opposite Dr. Tiller's clinic to pick him off with a sniper rifle, crashing his car into Dr. Tiller's, or trying to get close enough to the physician to chop off his hands with a sword.
He said he settled on shooting Dr. Tiller at close range in his church. He visited the church several times, first to scope it out and then to find Dr. Tiller, bringing along both his Bible and his handgun.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston also asked Mr. Roeder about his decision to pull over to the roadside as he was fleeing the church and bury his gun—which was still loaded—in a gravel pile in a small town about 100 miles from Wichita. She asked if he worried that children might stumble upon the gun and possibly get hurt. "No," he said. "It was very remote." The handgun has never been recovered.
Judge Warren Wilbert has said repeatedly that he would not let the trial turn into a referendum on abortion. Several times, when Mr. Roeder veered into graphic descriptions of abortion, the judge stopped him and instructed the jury to disregard the remarks.
But Judge Wilbert also made clear that he had an obligation to allow Mr. Roeder the chance to defend himself.
"He can certainly testify…[about] his belief system and how he moved to the point that he felt it was necessary for him to take the actions that he took," the judge said.
Supporters of legal abortion have protested that the court was allowing Mr. Roeder too much leeway; they argued that permitting the jury to consider lesser charges would have been tantamount to sanctioning politically motivated murders.
Abortion opponents have also been speaking out, arguing that the judge is unfairly limiting Mr. Roeder's right to present a full defense.
"Scott," Mr. Rudy asked his client, "do you regret what you did?" Mr. Roeder answered, "No."
Write to Stephanie Simon at email@example.com
It seems that we can all save money by just using LESS soap in the wash... we have over engineered landry.
In the laundry room, Americans are prone to overkill. They pour too much detergent into their washing machines.
Generations of consumers have washed clothes with the idea that more soap means cleaner laundry. But the sudsy habits are creating messy problems from dingy clothing to worn machines.
Learning to Do Laundry Right
Test your laundry skills by spotting the common mistakes in this illustration.
Making matters worse, the latest generation of detergents are concentrated and so require users to use less product-per-washload than ever before. And more consumers are buying high efficiency washers, which need far less water than older models. It's a combination begging for more careful measuring—something Americans stubbornly resist.
'Before it didn't matter as much,' says Mary Zeitler, consumer scientist for Whirlpool Corp.'s Institute of Fabric Science. 'But now you have to be much more precise in dosing.'"
Launch of iPad May Lift Asian Manufacturers - Wish we manufactured stuff in the USa that the world wanted like iPhones... anybody want to buy a gun?
"The iPod and iPhone devices have already been a boon to component manufacturers in Asia, and many are hoping for a repeat performance. The true component mix won't be known until Apple begins shipping the device and third-party analysts can disassemble it to see what's inside. However, analysts keep their own list of likely suppliers.
'NAND flash memory chip makers such as Samsung, Toshiba, and Intel Corp. and Micron Corp.'s joint venture will likely see more demand since the device carries up to 64 gigabytes of storage,' said Nam Hyung Kim, director of equity research at Arete. 'This will be a good year for the memory-chip suppliers thanks to Apple and the rush by competitors to match Apple-like products.'
Wanli Wang, an analyst at HSBC Securities, expects iPad shipments to be between 3 million and 10 million this year. 'But given iPad's competitive pricing, we expect Apple to be able to ship up to the higher end of that range,' the analyst said."
WARNING This is a 70 Minute speech!
It took too long to upload it...so here is the link:
Something For Everyone: It sounds contradictory, but President Obama's State of the Union address last night was an appeal to independents (stressing deficit reduction and fixing Washington), but also a populist battle cry (taking on the bank bailout, Wall Street, and even the Supreme Court).
He attempted to reach across party lines, but also reminded Republicans that he inherited many of the country's problems from them. And he stressed that jobs would be his No. 1 priority, but also maintained that he wouldn't give up on health care, although not in a very forceful way ("Let's get it done") and other priorities. So much of the speech was responding to frustrated independents and anger at Washington -- almost like he had read our new NBC/WSJ poll (or perhaps his own).
Indeed, a cynic might say last night's speech was the opening salvo in Obama's re-election in 2012. But it's also true that to regain his political standing from '08 and the first half of '09, he again has to win over independents, who broke for the Republicans in NJ, VA, and MA.
The question many Democrats in Washington might asking: Is what's good for Obama good for the party in 2010?
What was particularly fascinating was Obama listing all the GOP ideas he would support (cap gains cuts for small businesses, tax cuts, nuclear energy, off-shore drilling, free trade, earmark reform) for their backing on larger bills.
Of course, it's almost certain he won't get much support from his Republican counterparts, but it was almost a dare asking Republicans to list the Democratic ideas that they'd be willing to put on the table. From a P.R. standpoint, Obama's conciliatory talk appeared to score points -- at least early on. That Republicans were sitting on their hands when Obama was lauding tax cuts in the stimulus probably didn't play well with independents. But as the speech wore on, Republicans seemed like they got the message and became more engaged and loudly applauded when Obama talked about off-shore drilling and trade. (Did GOPers see the criticism they were receiving via Twitter? Or did the president's OWN shout out asking for applause nudge them?) You're probably going to hear some congressional Democrats criticize Obama's embrace of some of those GOP ideas.
While Obama stressed that job creation is his No. 1 goal this year -- and devoted more than half of his speech to the economy -- his also talked a lot about other priorities. Reducing the deficit. Finishing health care. Working on energy, financial, and immigration reform. And repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Yet that laundry list, in a way, risks contradicting his promise to focus like a laser on jobs. And it gives his critics the opportunity to say, again, that he's doing too much.
Your Cable Moment Of Zen: It wasn't the equivalent of "You lie!" but Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito apparently mouthing "That's not true" when President Obama scolded the Supreme Court decision for its recent campaign-finance decision will certainly get its share of attention on cable today.
"Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said. "Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."
A New York Times fact-check seems to side with Alito.
"The president appeared to have mischaracterized the Supreme Court's decision to overturn restrictions on corporate-paid political commercials by suggesting that the decision invited political advertisements by foreign companies, too."
White House folks push back and say it's possible their decision DID open the door for foreign involvement in campaigns. http://bit.ly/cHizIZ
Full Transcript of the Speech for those that want to read it:
Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address
9:11 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they've done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.
It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable -– that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.
Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.
One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted -– immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.
But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder.
This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades –- the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.
So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what I've witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana; Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children -– asking why they have to move from their home, asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.
For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it. Not now.
So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -– what they deserve -– is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills; a chance to get ahead; most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.
You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They're coaching Little League and helping their neighbors. One woman wrote to me and said, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged."
It's because of this spirit -– this great decency and great strength -– that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight. (Applause.) Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength. (Applause.)
And tonight, tonight I'd like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.
It begins with our economy.
Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it -- (applause.) I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal. (Laughter.)
But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular -– I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.
So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable. And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we've recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. (Applause.) Most but not all.
To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. (Applause.) Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. (Applause.)
Now, as we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.
That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.
Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. (Applause.) We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. (Applause.)
I thought I'd get some applause on that one. (Laughter and applause.)
As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime. (Applause.)
Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. (Applause.) Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. (Applause.) And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.
The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. (Applause.) That's right -– the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill. (Applause.) Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster. But you don't have to take their word for it. Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act. Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created. Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn't be laid off after all.
There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.
But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight. (Applause.)
Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses. (Applause.) But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.
We should start where most new jobs do –- in small businesses, companies that begin when -- (applause) -- companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they're ready to grow. But when you talk to small businessowners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small businessowners across the country, even those that are making a profit.
So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.) I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit
-– one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. (Applause.) While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment. (Applause.)
Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. (Applause.) From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.
Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. (Applause.) There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation's goods, services, and information. (Applause.)
We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities -- (applause) -- and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. (Applause.) And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. (Applause.) As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. (Applause.) They will. (Applause.) People are out of work. They're hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay. (Applause.)
But the truth is, these steps won't make up for the seven million jobs that we've lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America's families have confronted for years.
We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the last decade –- what some call the "lost decade" -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.
From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while.
For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold? (Applause.)
You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations -- they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America. (Applause.)
As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may become, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.
Now, one place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am not interested in punishing banks. I'm interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.
We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. (Applause.) We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.
Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. (Applause.) And the lobbyists are trying to kill it. But we cannot let them win this fight. (Applause.) And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. We've got to get it right. (Applause.)
Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause) -- an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.
But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause.) It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. (Applause.) And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. (Applause.)
I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. (Applause.) And this year I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. (Applause.)
I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation. (Applause.)
Third, we need to export more of our goods. (Applause.) Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. (Applause.) So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. (Applause.) To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. (Applause.)
We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. (Applause.) But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. (Applause.) And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia. (Applause.)
Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people. (Applause.)
Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city. In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. (Applause.) And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.
When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states. Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. That's why I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. (Applause.)
To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. (Applause.) Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. (Applause.) And let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. (Applause.)
And by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs -– (applause) -- because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.
Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle class. That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on middle-class families. That's why we're nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment –- their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.
This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. (Applause.) And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform. (Applause.) Yes, we do. (Applause.)
Now, let's clear a few things up. (Laughter.) I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics. (Laughter.) I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who've been denied coverage; families –- even those with insurance -– who are just one illness away from financial ruin.
After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.
And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier. (Applause.) Thank you. She gets embarrassed. (Laughter.)
Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office -– the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress –- our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades. (Applause.)
Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"
But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber. (Applause.)
So, as temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. (Applause.) Let me know. Let me know. (Applause.) I'm eager to see it.
Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. (Applause.) Let's get it done. Let's get it done. (Applause.)
Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. It's a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one that's been subject to a lot of political posturing. So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight.
At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. (Applause.) By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door. (Laughter and applause.)
Now -- just stating the facts. Now, if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis. And our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. That, too, is a fact.
I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.
Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. (Applause.) Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. (Applause.)
We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it. (Applause.)
Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.
Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. (Applause.) And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s. (Applause.)
Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- (laughter) -- when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand –- understand if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -– all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.
From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that's what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.
Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense. (Laughter.) A novel concept.
To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. (Applause.)
That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why -– for the first time in history –- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions.
But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform. Applause.) Democrats and Republicans. (Applause.) Democrats and Republicans. You've trimmed some of this spending, you've embraced some meaningful change. But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. (Applause.) Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent. (Applause.)
Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how we work with one another. Now, I'm not naïve. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony -- (laughter) -- and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy.
But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -– a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of -- (applause) -- I'm speaking to both parties now. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators. (Applause.)
Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government.
So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.
To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. (Applause.) And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. (Applause.) Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. (Applause.) So let's show the American people that we can do it together. (Applause.)
This week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. I'd like to begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait. (Laughter.)
Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. We can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I'm not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who's tough. Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let's leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future -- for America and for the world. (Applause.)
That's the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we've renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We've made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence. We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. And in the last year, hundreds of al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed -- far more than in 2008.
And in Afghanistan, we're increasing our troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. (Applause.) We will reward good governance, work to reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans -- men and women alike. (Applause.) We're joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitments, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am absolutely confident we will succeed.
As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. (Applause.) We will support the Iraqi government -- we will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and we will continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home. (Applause.)
Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world –- they have to know that we -- that they have our respect, our gratitude, our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home. (Applause.) That's why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades -- last year. (Applause.) That's why we're building a 21st century VA. And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families. (Applause.)
Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we're also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people -– the threat of nuclear weapons. I've embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. (Applause.) And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (Applause.)
Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons. That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions –- sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That's why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise. (Applause.)
That's the leadership that we are providing –- engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We're working through the G20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We're working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science and education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We're helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease -– a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.
As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That's why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. (Applause.) That's why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; why we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity. (Applause.) Always. (Applause.)
Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.
We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. (Applause.) We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. (Applause.) This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. (Applause.) It's the right thing to do. (Applause.)
We're going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws -– so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work. (Applause.) And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -– to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation. (Applause.)
In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America -- values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These aren't Republican values or Democratic values that they're living by; business values or labor values. They're American values.
Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions -– our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government –- still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.
No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment.
I campaigned on the promise of change –- change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change –- or that I can deliver it.
But remember this –- I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.
Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.
But I also know this: If people had made that decision 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.
Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going -– what keeps me fighting -– is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.
It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, "None of us," he said, "…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail."
It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, "We are strong. We are resilient. We are American."
It lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti.
And it lives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace they've never been and pull people they've never known from the rubble, prompting chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!" when another life was saved.
The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. (Applause.) Let's seize this moment -- to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. (Applause.)
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Let's now turn to Karl Rove to give the benedition... but not his blessing:
It was a tense moment in the West Wing. Less than a year into a new president's term, a Senate seat was slipping to the opposition and taking with it the balance of power in the upper chamber. The president's agenda was suddenly at risk.
If this sounds like Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in Massachusetts last week, it was actually Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords's defection in 2001. Mr. Jeffords's decision to bolt the party cost the GOP not the 60th vote, but a razor-thin majority. Yet following the defection, George W. Bush passed his signature tax-cut package, No Child Left Behind education reform, and a budget that cut in half the growth of discretionary domestic spending from the sizzling 16% rate of President Bill Clinton's last budget.
The Massachusetts defeat, Mr. Obama said on Sunday on ABC's "This Week," caused him "to try to reset the tone" in his State of the Union address because "we had lost some of that sense of common cause that existed a year ago."
But that "sense of common cause" wasn't lost. It was abandoned when Mr. Obama attempted to do things he hadn't prepared Americans for, such as a government takeover of health care, and when he failed to revive the flagging economy.
Now Mr. Obama wants to hit the reset button with his State of the Union address. But since World War II, presidential job approval ratings have dropped an average of 1.8 points after a president's first State of the Union speech. Over the past 25 years, presidents have experienced virtually no change—an average drop of 0.1 points in Gallup's job approval ratings—after giving a State of the Union address. That indicates that last night's teleprompter special is unlikely to stop Mr. Obama's decline.
Mr. Obama entered 2010 with 49% job approval, according to Gallup. That's down from 67% last January. Those who strongly disapprove of his performance outnumber those who strongly approve by 41% to 26%, according to Rasmussen's latest poll.
Mr. Obama's slide over the past year has been led by independents (whose support is down 17 points since last January), seniors (down 19 points), those making $60,000 to $90,000 a year (down 19 points), Republicans (down 23 points) and conservatives (down 24 points).
On the generic ballot, a measure of party strength, Republicans lead Democrats by five points in National Public Radio's latest poll and by eight points in Rasmussen's latest survey.
These numbers are worse than Democrats faced at this point in 1994. If Democrats fare better this year than they did 16 years ago, it will likely only be because they have fewer open seats to defend and because they are taking their challengers more seriously than they did in 1994.
One of Mr. Obama's first reactions to last week's Massachusetts debacle was to install his 2008 campaign manager as an über-election czar for Democrats. But the White House tried to boost Democrats running for governor in New Jersey and Virginia last year. They lost anyway.
About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.
Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states
Karl now writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is the author of the forthcoming book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).
Email the author at Karl@Rove.comor visit him on the web at http://www.rove.com/ . Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.
It probably didn't help Democratic morale when the White House complained it was blindsided by Mr. Brown's victory. Politico reports the White House had the Democratic Party spend $2.2 million on surveys and focus groups in just a 10-month span last year. That money was supposed to let Team Obama see these things coming.
Mr. Obama's problems are not political management, but policy. They won't be solved by faux fiscal restraint, mini-ball proposals for the middle class, and angry pretensions to populism.
By his own Office of Management and Budget numbers, Mr. Obama has raised the baseline of discretionary domestic spending by a total of $115 billion since his inauguration, bumping it up midway through the 2009 fiscal year budget and then increasing it again for the 2010 fiscal year.
Mr. Obama is now calling for a spending freeze to save $15 billion for fiscal year 2011. That's nice, but it freezes in place a 24% increase in discretionary, nonsecurity domestic spending. The president would also exempt from a freeze the $512 billion that has yet to be spent from last year's stimulus package. To present such a proposal as a serious attempt at restraining spending is to reveal a low opinion of the intelligence of ordinary Americans.
Mr. Obama has squandered the "sense of common cause" he talked about on Sunday that many felt at his inauguration. In the week leading up to his State of the Union, he did little to rekindle that spirit or reverse his sinking fortunes ... Let's leave Karl Rove at this point and return to our normal lives.
I have yet to figure out where my cousin gets these and since she does not post'em on FaceBook... you get'tem here.
I checked this out on Snopes and it's for real!
AMAZING SIMPLE HOME REMEDIES:
1. AVOID CUTTING YOURSELF WHEN SLICING VEGETABLES BY GETTING SOMEONE ELSE TO HOLD THE VEGETABLES WHILE YOU CHOP.
2. AVOID ARGUMENTS WITH THE FEMALES ABOUT LIFTING THE TOILET SEAT BY USING THE SINK.
3. FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE SUFFERERS ~ SIMPLY CUT YOURSELF AND BLEED FOR A FEW MINUTES, THUS REDUCING THE PRESSURE ON YOUR VEINS. REMEMBER TO USE A TIMER.
4. A MOUSE TRAP PLACED ON TOP OF YOUR ALARM CLOCK WILL PREVENT YOU FROM ROLLING OVER AND GOING BACK TO SLEEP AFTER YOU HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON.
5. IF YOU HAVE A BAD COUGH, TAKE A LARGE DOSE OF LAXATIVES. THEN YOU'LL BE AFRAID TO COUGH.
6. YOU ONLY NEED TWO TOOLS IN LIFE - WD-40 AND DUCT TAPE. IF IT DOESN'T MOVE AND SHOULD, USE THE WD-40. IF IT SHOULDN'T MOVE AND DOES, USE THE DUCT TAPE.
7. IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES - NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS.
NASA confirms that Mars Spirit rover, stuck since spring, may not come back from the hibernation command it is issuing as Martian winter approaches. It's had an amazing six year run, so sadness is far less appropriate than celebration.
We knew that this day was coming. The impending sense that we would soon have to say goodbye has lingered for months.
But in spite of the potential for sadness on this occasion, the end of the red dusty road for the Mars Rover Spirit must be embraced as a cause for celebration. If there were New Orleans-style jazz funerals for space gadgets, this would be the perfect occasion, and I'd be the first to assemble my saxophone and step into marching formation with the band." READ MORE ON THE LINK ABOVE
My friend John McCain sent me an email about the State of the Union Address and his need to be Re-elected....
from John McCain.
Listen to his thoughts on the State of the Union.
My Friend Freddallas,
Tonight, during his State of the Union speech, President Obama laid out his vision for our nation's future. As you know, the President and I have differing views on the direction we should take the country, and I stand by my conservative values of reduced spending, low taxes, and a strong national defense.
I took a few moments to record a special message for you on the issues facing America and I hope you'll take a moment to watch the video by following this link.
During his first year in office, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have amassed a $12.4 trillion deficit that is growing each day. While the President advocates increased federal spending, I have actively advocated tax cuts, reduced spending and earmark reform to get our economy back on track.
The non-discretionary spending freeze announced by the President is a start, but what he also needs to do is promise to veto bills laden with pork barrel spending and begin creating jobs for the thousands of out-of-work Americans.
We currently face a national unemployment rate of over 10%, and it has only grown during President Obama's time in office. As we have seen, trillion-dollar, big-government stimulus packages are not the answer for creating jobs. To stimulate our economy for job growth, we need payroll tax cuts, tax incentives for small businesses and an assurance that Democrats will not raise taxes.
As a United States Senator, I fight each and every day for these and other conservative values. I won't settle for business-as-usual, behind-closed-doors politics. I'm not afraid to stand up and speak out for the majority of Americans who are angry at the current Democratic leadership in Washington.
But, to continue serving in this capacity, I must win reelection this year. You can help my campaign today by following this link to watch the video I've recorded for you and after, make a generous contribution of any amount to my campaign.
The people of Massachusetts confirmed last week what we have been saying for a long time - the American people want a change in Washington and an end to big government solutions to problems like health care. I was proud to be an early supporter of Senator-elect Scott Brown's campaign. It was a landmark victory and I look forward to working with him to block government-run health care, tax increases and increased federal spending.
I'm proud of my record and service to this country and would like nothing more than to continue serving as a voice for conservative values. Please take a moment to make a donation to my reelection campaign, so that we have the resources to continue fighting. Thank you.
Jobs...Healthcare Reform...Jobs....Energy...Jobs...Bank Regulation...Jobs...Bush's Wars...Jobs....Export Growth...Jobs...Budgets ... and MORE Jobs
In his first State of the Union address, President Barack Obama again pledged to change the way Washington works, after a bruising first year that saw his approval ratings drop and his ambitious agenda falter amid fierce partisanship.
With the U.S. economy struggling, the president devoted much of his address to Congress on how to lift the moribund U.S. job market. He asked lawmakers to act on health care and energy bills, and urged lawmakers to set aside Washington's divisive political atmosphere.
Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703410004575029642919149072.html