In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for a new era of innovation by saying "this is our Sputnik moment," referencing the 1960s-era space race that began after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite. Right-wing media attacked Obama's remarks by taking the metaphor literally and criticizing Obama's NASA policy.
Obama Calls For Investment In "Biomedical Research, Information Technology, And Especially Clean Energy Technology." In his State of the Union address, Obama called for a "level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the space race" and referenced the era of technological innovation spurred by the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957. From the State of the Union Address:
The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living. (Applause.)
Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS. Just think of all the good jobs -- from manufacturing to retail -- that have come from these breakthroughs.
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.
This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- (applause) -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people. [White House, 1/25/11]
Doocy: "I Think It's Ironic He's Talking About Our Sputnik Moment" After "Absolutely Decimat[ing] The Space Program." On the January 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed, "I think it's ironic he's talking about our Sputnik moment, you know, that started the space race where we wanted to beat the Russians, and yet, this president has absolutely decimated the space program." [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 1/26/11]
Doocy Again Cites Sputnik And Complains, "This President Has Actually Cut The Space Program." Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy continued attacking the president's Sputnik line, saying:
DOOCY: Something else that the president called for was, you know, he says we need to spend more on education, and he talked about this being our Sputnik moment. Which, of course, back in the '50s was when, you know, Russia sent that Sputnik up there and let's launch the space race, this president has actually cut the space budget and then, you know, kind of following along, it's going to transfer into jobs making solar shingles? How many of those can we make? [Fox & Friends, 1/26/11]
Johnson Calls Sputnik "An Inapt Reference" Because "We Don't Have A Space Program Anymore." Later on Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. also attacked Obama's Sputnik reference, claiming: "A lot of people, unfortunately, don't remember what Sputnik is. But if we're going to engage in the Sputnik race, what happened to our space program? We don't have a space program anymore. So I think it was an inapt reference as to what's going on." [Fox & Friends, 1/26/11]
MacCallum: "It Didn't Go Unnoticed That He's Defunded A Large Part Of NASA." On the January 26 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum said: "A lot of folks have said this morning that he talked about the Sputnik moment, referring of course to the space race between Russia and the United States back in the '60s and saying this is our moment. And yet it didn't go unnoticed that he's defunded in large part NASA, and that in that Sputnik moment recognition he failed to say -- to talk about, you know, our greatest enemy out there, which is what the Sputnik moment was all about." [Fox News' America's Newsroom, 1/26/11]
Erickson: Obama "Declared Our Present Economic Climate Our Sputnik Moment Then Proceeded To Ignore NASA." In a January 26 RedState post, Erick Erickson wrote:
President Obama declared our present economic climate our sputnik [sic] moment then proceeded to ignore NASA in his speech while defunding our space program. Nevermind that he did not identify an enemy hell bent on destroying us. He just wanted to use the metaphor without regard for its historic meaning -- something this President all too often does.
Barack Obama's bold leadership will not lead to a new race to space. Rather, in his own words, Barack Obama's "sputnik [sic] moment" is . . . wait for it . . . no seriously, wait for it . . . "solar shingles that are being sold all across the country." [RedState, 01/26/11]
Hoft: "Sputnik Fail. After Defunding NASA, Obama Uses Soviet Space Program To Rally Americans In SOTU." In a January 26 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote: "Last night President Barack Obama used the former Soviet space program to challenge Americans in his State of the Union address. ... Did you notice he didn't call it a NASA moment? He couldn't. Last year Barack Obama cut NASA funding." [Gateway Pundit, 1/26/11 (emphasis in original)]
Bradley Manning's detention conditions got worse this week. He is now being held in total isolation in the brig at the Quantico, VA Marine Base. As has been reported by his friend David House, the only visitor he is allowed besides his lawyer, Manning's[...]
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The speech the President gave shouldn't look this good by comparison. Sadly, it did.[...]
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Of course, so does the reporter, Michael O'Brien of The Hill, who wrote this story.
Entitlement reform will be tough as long as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) runs the Senate, the second-ranking House Republican said Wednesday.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) chided Reid, who's increasingly a target of the House GOP's barbs, for having said that Social Security is not facing a financial crisis.
Real action in Congress to address the deficit is a tougher climb as long as Reid holds that viewpoint, Cantor said.
"I think one of the problems is that you have Leader Reid in the Senate, who said there aren't any fiscal problems with Social Security," the No. 2 House Republican said on MSNBC.
Of course, Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit, something Cantor actually probably does know but refuses to acknowledge, and something every reporter writing about Social Security should know in order to report effectively. Additionally, what Harry Reid said about Social Security is absolutely truthful. Here's a reminder from his recent Meet the Press appearance.
MR. GREGORY: Social Security, how does it have to change? What they put on the agenda is raising the retirement age, maybe means testing benefits. Is it time for Social Security to fundamentally change if you're going to deal with the debt problem?
SEN. REID: One of the things that always troubles me is, when we start talking about the debt, the first thing people do is run to Social Security. Social Security is a program that works, and it's going to be--it's fully funded for the next 40 years. Stop picking on Social Security. There are a lot places we can go to...
MR. GREGORY: Senator, you're really saying the arithmetic on Social Security works?
SEN. REID: I'm saying the arithmetic on Social Security works. I have no doubt it does. For the next...
MR. GREGORY: It's not in crisis?
SEN. REID: No, it's not in crisis. This is, this is, this is something that's perpetuated by people who don't like government. Social Security is fine. Are there things we can do to improve Social Security? Of course. But don't, don't...
MR. GREGORY: Means testing? Raising the retirement age?
SEN. REID: ...don't--I'm...
MR. GREGORY: Do you agree with either of those?
SEN. REID: I'm not going to go to any of those back-door methods to whack Social Security recipients. I'm not going to do that. We have a lot of things we can do with this debt that's a problem. But one of the places where I'm not going to be part of picking on is Social Security.
David Gregory needs the lesson on Social Security, too. Yes, Social Security is in fine shape until 2037, and it's not going to take any kind of major restructuring to make it sustainable beyond that. And Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit. It seems like that can't be said enough. The only way in which Social Security could be used to reduce the deficit is if the contributions American workers currently make toward the program became a regular tax and that tax applied just to deficit reduction. But that would essentially be a new tax, and we know how much Republicans hate taxes, so that's not going to be happening either.
Crossposted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThe next part of my story centers around frauds 6, 7, 8, and 9 of 11 criminal frauds.AMBAC is a Monoline Insurer and they offer-Bond insurance is a service whereby issuers of a bond can pay a premium to a third[...]
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LAURA FLANDERS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
(This is an adaptation of Tuesday's F Word: the daily commentary from GRITtv.)
President Barack Obama delivered his take on the State of the Union last night and while Congress has bragged about bipartisan seating, it doesn't matter where anyone sat because the profiteers who define what's possible in our politics have already barred any serious solution to what ails us.
We know what the problem is: Jobs. 15 million still unemployed. A National Journal piece last week noted that the Great Recession wiped out what amounts to every U.S. job created in the 21st century. And jobs had already been leaving - for three decades.
That's a bipartisan problem - remember who passed NAFTA, which first opened the floodgates. As a commentator with the hardly radical Hoover Institute told the Journal - Instead of reinvesting the gains of globalization in improved plants or a higher quality of life work in the US, private companies privatized the profits and hired abroad. Driving down wages.
Now while cheap production's boosting profits again, as Heidi Shierholz reminded GRITtv yesterday, CEOs are smiling, but communities are frozen, cold as ice. And again big business is promoting trade.
Crossposted from The Stars Hollow GazetteAs I've pointed out before one of the confusing things about Bankster Fraud is that there are no less than 11 different criminal frauds that are all lumped together.In my next piece I'm going to examine one[...]
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The line-up of last night's dueling speeches was as good an illustration as any of why President Obama obviously chose to give a State of the Union Address that stressed themes of civility and cooperation while giving a heavy nod to such Republican-friendly obsessions as tort reform, corporate tax cuts and controls on government spending.
Despite all that has happened over the past two years, including the trouncing his party took last November, President Obama clearly believes he can still win the hearts and minds of the practical-minded American people if he can provide a contrast that gives Republicans enough breathing space to destroy themselves by exposing their unshakable extremism. Insta-polls taken right after the speech seem to bear out the President strategy, as 85% responded favorably to the address.
Tossing tradition aside by refusing to devote his address to a laundry list of legislative proposals unlikely to go anywhere in the current divided Congress, Obama instead gave a speech cleverly devised to reframe the political landscape over the next two years in ways that exploit the Republican's underlying vulnerabilities -- even at their moment of greatest triumph following their impressive victory in the 2010 election.
The GOP's structural deficiency was on glaring display last night as Republicans trotted out -- not one, but two -- speakers to give their party's rebuttal to the President's address.
The first was Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan, whose signature accomplishment is a draconian budget-cutting proposal so politically radioactive that not even the GOP's most right wing members will go anywhere near it.
Ryan's remarks were standard-issue anti-government boilerplate that Republican speechwriters have written countless times before over the past 50 years. While Ryan's speech was full of warnings about crippling debt, "painful austerity measures" and a looming "day of reckoning," Steve Benen notes Ryan's remarks tellingly avoided all mention of the famous Ryan "roadmap" itself, which Benen calls a "radical mess" likely to create a backlash against Republicans "if Americans fully appreciated its contents."
The Republican's other rebutter was the self-appointed, and seriously confused, leader of the Republican's new Tea Party caucus, Michele Bachmann.
Party leaders were unable to prevent Bachmann from delivering her own "unauthorized" response. After watching her performance, I'll bet there were more than a few Republican leaders who wished they'd tried harder, for at one point Bachmann brought out the iconic photograph of the 5th Marines raising the flag atop Mount Suribaci to announce the American victory at Iwo Jima. Enough said.
While the President's general theme was the need for Americans to work together as we look beyond the present crisis to a brighter tomorrow, he threw in just enough partisan defiance -- as when he declared there'd be no more extensions of the Bush tax cuts for the rich once they expire, again, two years from now -- to avoid looking like a push-over with all his mushy talk about bi-partisanship.
While Obama was forced to accept Republican positions to do it, the President did a good job setting himself up to exploit Republican vulnerabilities down the road, according to seasoned observers.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz called the speech "a defense of the active use of government to prepare the country for the long-term challenge of global competitiveness." Even more striking, said Balz, "was his effort to frame the coming debates over spending and the role of government in ways that are designed to put Republicans on the defense as the fights begin. It was his latest effort to appeal to the center of the electorate."
By salting the speech with ideas Republicans agreed with, Obama was making a "calculated political argument" in an effort to "move the debates that framed the election to a different place," said Balz. He was also projecting "a new spirit of bipartisanship" likely to go over well with voters who refuse to commit to one side or another -- a spirit Republicans will almost surely be unable to duplicate given how fractured they were even responding to Obama's speech.
Ed Kilgore of Democratic Strategist said there was nothing new in the President's speech - and maybe that was the whole point: stick to the tried and true and familiar in order to engender a comfort level with an American public that's been through a lot of wrenching change in the past two years.
"He basically put together every modest, centrist, reasonable-sounding idea for public investment aimed at job creation and economic growth that anyone has ever uttered; and he did so at the exact moment that the GOP has abandoned the very concept of public investment altogether," said Kilgore. "He's thrown into relief the fact that Republicans no longer seem interested in any government efforts to boost the economy, except where they offer an excuse to reduce the size and power of government."
When compared with "Ryan's deficit-maniac response," Kilgore thinks "the contrast between a Democratic president with a lot of small, familiar ideas for creating jobs and growth, and a Republican Party with just one big idea, is inescapable."
Kilgore also thinks that the President's "constant invocation of bipartisanship at a time when Republicans are certain to oppose most of what he's called for" will remind voters of Bill Clinton's fights against an equally implacable GOP, which could redound to the President's advantage given that the public largely took Clinton's side in those disputes.
And since the far right Republican base makes it unlikely the GOP will be able to return Obama's favor and say nice things about programs that Democrats like, the President's game of " rope-a-dope" against Republicans puts him in a good position to "push back hard against the conservative agenda," says Kilgore.
"In a reversal of positions from the last two years," says Kilgore, "Obama looks like he is focused on doing practical things to boost the economy, while it's Republicans who are talking about everything else. Boring it may have been, but as a positioning device for the next two years, Obama's speech was a masterpiece."
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LESLEY DOCKSEY FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"We all have the right to absolutely everything." Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion
Language (excuse the pun) is a dead giveaway. In Hollywood and the War Machine (part of the Empire series aired on AlJazeera TV in December 2010) there was a fascinating debate on Hollywood's love affair with war and the Pentagon's love affair with Hollywood. Hollywood benefits by being given access to all the expensive military kits it needs to create larger-than-life heroic battle-pics. The Pentagon gains because it can write the scripts, rewrite history to suit itself and use the films as a recruiting tool for its endless wars.
This unholy relationship was debated by filmmakers Oliver Stone and Michael Moore and journalist Chris Hedges. Hedges suggested that to many Americans war has now become sacred, the Pentagon acting as the church and the soldiers the priests. Small wonder then that there is an appetite for films that portray war as a battle against evil, with courageous American heroes that always win against the odds. Hedeges then said this: "We believe that, because we have the capacity to wage war, we have the right to wage war." Chilling words, words that would seem to exaggerate the case ...
Except when you consider the attitudes displayed in the US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks. It is not that we learnt much that was completely new, but there it is in very inglorious black and white - the pressure amounting to blackmail to achieve the result the U.S. wanted at the Copenhagen climate talks; UK concerns about U.S. use of British facilities for spy planes and rendition flights resulting in Richard LeBaron, Charges d'Affaires at the London embassy, cabling Washington that human rights concerns could not be allowed to get in the way of counter-terrorism operations. Britain's demands were "not only burdensome but unrealistic," he said, proposing "high-level approaches" to call the British to heel.
Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) clashed over opening statements at the first hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
Both sides say Issa told Cummings 30 minutes before today's hearing that there would be no opening statements issued at the hearing, which focused on government oversight over money distributed under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).
Spokesman Kurt Bardella told TPM that Issa killed the idea of opening statements in order to skip the "political speechifying" which ate up time. "The American people wants Congress to listen more and talk less," Bardella said.
But Democrats on the committee say that Issa told them as recently as yesterday that there would be opening statements. They also say that Issa wouldn't allow them to have a representative of J.P. Morgan on the panel.
"You did not want the industry witness to testify here today," Cummings said in the prepared opening statement he never delivered. "But my understanding is that you are prepared to schedule another hearing next month to investigate these and other abuses by the industry. It's hard for me to understand how we can have today's hearing on the foreclosure crisis without anyone from industry at the witness table. Nevertheless, if that is your plan, I will accept your assurance that the Committee will conduct a thorough, bipartisan investigation of the industry's role in the foreclosure crisis."
Cummings interjected with several 'point of order' inquires while Issa prepared to introduce those testifying before the committee. Video below.