When Mr. Obama first proposed $800 billion in fiscal stimulus, there were two groups of critics. Both argued that unemployment would stay high — but for very different reasons.
One group — the group that got almost all the attention — declared that the stimulus was much too large, and would lead to disaster. If you were, say, reading The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in early 2009, you would have been repeatedly informed that the Obama plan would lead to skyrocketing interest rates and soaring inflation.
The other group, which included yours truly, warned that the plan was much too small given the economic forecasts then available. As I pointed out in February 2009, the Congressional Budget Office was predicting a $2.9 trillion hole in the economy over the next two years; an $800 billion program, partly consisting of tax cuts that would have happened anyway, just wasn’t up to the task of filling that hole.
Critics in the second camp were particularly worried about what would happen this year, since the stimulus would have its maximum effect on growth in late 2009 then gradually fade out. Last year, many of us were already warning that the economy might stall in the second half of 2010.
So what actually happened? The administration’s optimistic forecast was wrong....
...The timing of recent economic growth strongly supports the notion that stimulus does, indeed, boost the economy: growth accelerated last year, as the stimulus reached its predicted peak impact, but has fallen off — just as some of us feared — as the stimulus has faded.
Oh, and don’t tell me that Germany proves that austerity, not stimulus, is the way to go. Germany actually did quite a lot of stimulus — the austerity is all in the future. Also, it never had a housing bubble that burst. And with all that, German G.D.P. is still further below its precrisis peak than American G.D.P. True, Germany has done better in terms of employment — but that’s because strong unions and government policy have prevented American-style mass layoffs.
The actual lessons of 2009-2010, then, are that scare stories about stimulus are wrong, and that stimulus works when it is applied. But it wasn’t applied on a sufficient scale. And we need another round....
The House-Senate reconciliation process is still underway and some details will still change. But the broad contours of “financial reform” are already completely clear; there are no last minute miracles at this level of politics. The new consumer protection agency for financial products is a good idea and worth supporting – assuming someone sensible is appointed by the president to run it. Yet, at the end of the day, essentially nothing in the entire legislation will reduce the potential for massive system risk as we head into the next credit cycle....
...Simply claiming that the president is “tough” on big banks simply will not wash. There are too many facts, too much accumulated evidence, pointing exactly the other way. The president signed off on the most generous and least conditional bailout in world financial history. This is now widely understood. The administration has scrambled to create some political cover in terms of “reform” – but the lack of substance here is already clear to people who follow it closely and public perceptions will shift quickly.
The financial crisis of fall 2008 revealed serious dangers have developed in the heart of the world’s financial system. The Bush-Obama bailouts of 2008-09 confirmed that our biggest banks are “too big to fail” and the left, center, and right can agree with Gene Fama when he says: “too big to fail” is perverting activities and incentives.
This is not a leftist message, although you hear people on the left make the point. But people on the right also increasingly understand what is going on – there is excessive and abusive power at the heart of our financial system that completely distorts markets (and really amounts to a hidden, unfair and dangerous taxpayer subsidy).
This administration and this Congress had ample opportunity to confront this problem and at least wrestle hard with it. Some senators and representatives worked long and hard on precisely this issue. But the White House punted, repeatedly, and elected instead for a veneer of superficial tweaking. Welcome to the next global credit cycle – with too big to fail banks at center stage.
>Obama Thought That Drilling's Really Cool
Obama thought that drilling's really cool.
That was in March; in June he's thought the fool.
Oil'd like to see no regulations left;
They thinks controls on property is theft.
Emissions? Who should monitor their flow?
To them it's clear: their firm's own CEO.
So drillers drill. Here's what Interior's got:
a protégée of James (The Crackpot) Watt?*
Don't tear your hair, curse Bush, 'cause it's Obama:
Who's flip-flopped in the face of voter drama.
>Ask Dr. Data
Question: Dr. Data, a man from Double Trouble, N.J. writes: "Everytime I raise my arm over my shoulder, my elbow hurts. What should I do?
Dr. Data: "Don't raise you arm over your shoulder." Question: Dr. Data, here's another from a woman who holds a high office in the Department of Homeland Security: "Terrorists in Middle Eastern countries say they want to kill us because we keep ocupying their countries. What should we do?" Dr. Data: "Stop occupying their countries." Note: Dr. Data is not a real doctor, he just plays one at JoeBama Watch --Politex
>"Heck of a job, Barry!"
If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?...Before he left for vacation, Obama tried to shed his Spock mien and juice up the empathy quotient on jobs. But in his usual inspiring/listless cycle, he once more appeared chilly in his response to the chilling episode on Flight 253, issuing bulletins through his press secretary and hitting the links. At least you have to seem concerned....[Obama] seems mired in the past..., letting his hallmark legislation get loaded up with old-school bribes and pork; surrounding himself with Clintonites; continuing the Bushies’ penchant for secrecy and expansive executive privilege; doubling down in Afghanistan while acting as though he’s getting out; and failing to capitalize on snazzy new technology while agencies thumb through printouts and continue their old turf battles....
>Krugman "Profoundly Wrong" In Backing O's Vampire HC Reform
The most outrageous thing the health "reform" bill does is further consolidate the death grip that the insurance industry has over health care access and delivery in America. It does this by mandating that everyone buy health insurance, on pain of being slapped with a heavy fine by the IRS. Since most of the 47 million Americans without health insurance are younger and healthier than average, what this measure does is hand the private insurance industry a huge captive customer population who will be stuck with high-cost, low-benefit insurance that will generate huge profits for the industry. The industry will be further enriched by nearly half a trillion dollars in subsidies needed to help low-income people or small businesses buy their mandated health insurance--subsidies which will end up going directly to insurance companies, which will be offering in return wretched bare-bones plans that will only cover some 60% of actual medical costs....Adding insult to injury, the bill does almost nothing to limit costs. This is why doctors, hospital and drug companies and the insurance industry, all of which spend millions of dollars lobbying for this law, love it (health insurance company shares jumped on word of Senate passage). Indeed, the government's own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), predicts that the law, if enacted, will cause US health care costs--already the highest in the world on a per capita basis and as a share of GDP by a factor of almost two--to rise faster than ever....But surely the worst thing about this bill is that far from putting the US on a course towards some eventual humane national health system like those that exist in the rest of the developed world, and even in many countries in the less developed world, it actually locks in the power of the insurance industry even more solidly, making achieving true health reform an even more difficult challenge than it has been.
>Obama's Failed Leadership Rewards Bush Wealthy Next Week
Now in the majority, Democratic lawmakers have failed to stop yet another tax benefit for the richest of the rich from taking effect in 2010. The tax in question is the estate tax, which President George W. Bush and Republicans and some Democrats in Congress were determined to cut from the day Mr. Bush took office in 2001. Even then, the tax hit only a tiny portion of Americans, but estate-tax foes sold Americans a myth about a “death tax” that prevented average people from passing on hard-earned money.
The result was a measure that made big reductions in the federal estate tax, phased in through 2009, and then repealed the tax, for one year only, in 2010. After that, the tax is to be reinstated at pre-2001 levels. Writing the law in that convoluted way helped to mask the true costs. It also created an untenable situation in which a one-year repeal is followed by reinstatement....There was a giant catch, as well. In 2010, the one-year repeal of the estate tax is coupled with a new tax that will hit smaller estates. That tax could affect up to an estimated 70,000 estates next year, compared with the current estate tax law, which applies to about 5,500 estates annually. If that sounds wacky, it is. It would also be harmful to many small family businesses, precisely the group that estate-tax cutters say they want to help....Failure to act in a timely way is a disturbing display of intransigence and failed leadership. That bodes ill for the more daunting tax debates next year, when the rest of the Bush tax cuts are set to expire.
>Bush Years Swindled Us, Obama's No Help
It was a decade with basically zero job creation....Private-sector employment has actually declined....Zero economic gains for the typical family....Housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are roughly back to where they were at the beginning of the decade....Almost a quarter of all mortgages in America...are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth....Zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account...Potemkin corporations with facades built out of creative accounting, analysts and investors believed banks’ claims about their own financial strength and bought into the hype about investments they didn’t understand....Even after triggering a global economic collapse, and having to be rescued at taxpayers’ expense, bankers wasted no time going right back to the culture of giant bonuses and excessive leverage....Even now, it’s hard to get Democrats, President Obama included, to deliver a full-throated critique of the practices that got us into the mess we’re in. And as for the Republicans: now that their policies of tax cuts and deregulation have led us into an economic quagmire, their prescription for recovery is — tax cuts and deregulation.
>Obama Paid Off To Rubber Stamp Corporatism Health Care
Though President Barack Obama hailed the bill's passage by declaring, "This will be the most important piece of social legislation since Social Security passed in the 1930s," it carries few of the universal qualities or public control of the Social Security legislation. For all the political theater associated with the bill, remarkably little in the bigger picture of healthcare in America has changed - private health insurers still run the system, Washington politicians are still gathering in the campaign contributions and millions will still be left without health insurance....The Senate bill is even weaker than the already comprised piece of legislation passed by the House of Representatives. The number of uninsured capable of gaining insurance will be somewhere around 24 million. With private plans as the alternative, estimates are that more than $450 billion in tax-payer money will be transferred to private insurers in order to allow the uninsured to gain coverage. However, that coverage will be something akin to the lowest form of car insurance - you get by before the eyes of the state, but get into an accident and you will find yourself facing massive debt. Estimates are that the low-coverage plans would only cover 60% of costs. Even worse news comes for the more than 20 million people who will likely remain uninsured. They will now also have to forfeit 2% of their annual income because of it. (*) A nightmarish scenario indeed - uninsured and penalized!...When candidate Barack Obama declared a goal of "universal healthcare coverage," little rebuttal was heard from the normally vocal insurance lobby. The fix was in and it was insured by some $2 million dollars in donations to his campaign.
(*)Some of the 24 million uninsured, like Native Americans, will be exempted. --Politex
>Revised: "Hands On" Obama Will Prevent Key Improvements In Senate/House Merger
The House bill is more generous to people at the lower end of the scale, while the Senate would offer more assistance at the upper end....[The House wants] a single national marketplace for people buying insurance, rather than 50 state-based exchanges, as the Senate prefers; and moving up the launch date of those marketplaces and subsidies to 2013....Many health policy experts are urging the House to press for its national version of the exchange, arguing that state officials would be less likely to enforce new insurance regulations and seek out the best deals for consumers....Obama told PBS's Jim Lehrer that he would 'absolutely' take a hands-on role in merging it with the House version."...The White House is working closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leading liberals to make sure the House does not push for significant changes to the compromise worked out in the Senate. This will force House Democrats, who often feel slighted by all the attention and influence the Senate gets, to swallow a compromise it did not write or advocate. --Politico
>Obama Has Flip-Flopped On Public Option, Mandated Purchase Of Insurance
Obama told PBS's Jim Lehrer...."As a practical matter, [a public option] is not the most important aspect to this bill -- the House bill or the Senate bill.”.....However, in this 7/17/09 video Obama specifically says that a public option "must" be included in any health care bill he signs and a purchase of insurance mandate is not "the solution": --from You
>"Linguistic Contortions": Obama Sets Back Green Movement At Copenhagen
The first big disappointment of the conference was that it failed to produce even a non-binding pact that everyone could live with—and this breakdown threatens the entire international climate process that was established with the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and which produced the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Obama's agreement was bartered after he burst in on a private meeting among leaders of China, India, South Africa and Brazil, without the participation of the remaining 188 members....(The "deal" that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world's biggest emitters: I'll pretend that you are doing something about climate change if you pretend that I am too. Deal? Deal. --Naomi Klein)... There was no formal UN sign-on of his accord (the Danish host government has agreed to coordinate official approval in the coming weeks). But because the document was not adopted unanimously, it has no real legal or formal bearing—it may never play a role in future UN deliberations. "We need to be clear that it is a letter of intent and is not precise about what needs to be done in legal terms," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of UNFCCC....On another key front—Convincing China to sign on to independent monitoring of emissions cuts—there was no real progress at all. The language explaining how emissions reductions would be verified and reported is more of a linguistic contortion than a plan of action. Given the accord's many omissions, none of the participants were happy with the conference's outcome.
>The Decade's Fakes Include Enron, WMD's, Obama
If there’s been a consistent narrative to this year and every other in this decade, it’s that most of us, Bernanke included, have been so easily bamboozled. The men who played us for suckers, whether at Citigroup or Fannie Mae, at the White House or Ted Haggard’s megachurch, are the real movers and shakers of this century’s history so far. That’s why the obvious person of the year is Tiger Woods. His sham beatific image, questioned by almost no one until it collapsed, is nothing if not the farcical reductio ad absurdum of the decade’s flimflams, from the cancerous (the subprime mortgage) to the inane (balloon boy)....After a decade in which two true national catastrophes, a wasteful war and a near-ruinous financial collapse, were both in part byproducts of the ease with which our leaders bamboozled us, we can’t so easily move on. This can be seen in the increasingly urgent political plight of Barack Obama. Though the American left and right don’t agree on much, they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger’s public image...
>Obama has lost his 2012 bid for re-election
He has made key decisions in three areas that, unless he alters his approach (not likely), could well guarantee a Republican victory: an embarrassingly rolled-out, badly-compromised health-care reform bill; his continuing slavish subservience to those on Wall Street that took the country into the economic toilet; and his sad imitation of CheneyBush's imperial campaign in Afghanistan....If Obama goes down to defeat in 2012, he could take with him any hope for a major revitalization of American democracy after eight years of wrack and ruin under CheneyBush. And Obama's own Democratic majority in Congress might well suffer, perhaps quite badly, at the polls in November of 2010.
>Obama's Three Strikes: Wall Street, Afghanistan, Healthcare
Obama is heading for a disaster. He’s betting that he can do like Bill Clinton did to us with NAFTA and the World Trade Organization – hand us a turd and tell us it’s gonna blossom beautifully if we’ll just wait a year or three or five. Rahm’s betting that if he can “deliver health care reform” – even if the fundamental system of gangster corporations standing between us and our doctors while skimming 40 percent off the top for their mansions and private jets is intact – we’ll be all excited at his “victory” and elect more Democrats in 2010 and reelect Obama in 2012. Ditto for cosmetic repairs of the banks, which is really just trickle-down Reaganomics on steroids. Rahm and his DLC buddies truly believe that this “change” brought to us by Bush’s man Tim Geithner or Clinton’s man Larry Summers is something we’ll “believe in.” We don’t....He’s wrong.
>Rush Limbaugh Says Poor Don't Deserve Healthcare
In a bizarre interview with William Shatner, on his show "Raw Nerve", Rush Limbaugh argued that there is no "morally superior aspect" to the question of the right to healthcare and suggested that it is entirely fair that if someone cannot afford healthcare, they should not have it. Limbaugh unbelievably argued that poor people should have no more right to quality healthcare than they have to purchase "a house on the beach"....(with video)
>Obama "Losing The War" On Human Slavery At Home
It may be hard to imagine that slavery exists in America, but trafficking victims are all around us....They toil in factories and massage parlors, on fruit and vegetable farms, and inside homes, hotels and restaurants from California to Maine. Stripped of their humanity, they’re often threatened with their lives, or their families’ lives, if they don’t submit to the traffickers’ demands....America declared war on human trafficking nearly a decade ago. With a new law and much fanfare, the government pledged to end such human rights abuses at home and prodded the rest of the world to follow its example.
But an investigation by The Kansas City Star found that, in spite of all the rhetoric from the Bush and Obama administrations, the United States is failing to find and help tens of thousands of human trafficking victims in America.
>Obama Has Sold Out America To Wall Street
Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside....
The extensive series of loophole-rich financial "reforms" that the Democrats are currently pushing may ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity, threatening to vastly amplify Wall Street's political power by institutionalizing the taxpayer's role as a welfare provider for the financial-services industry. At one point in the debate, Obama's top economic advisers demanded the power to award future bailouts without even going to Congress for approval — and without providing taxpayers a single dime in equity on the deals. How did we get here? It started just moments after the election — and almost nobody noticed.
>Orwell Revisited: War President Accepts Peace Prize
War is not peace. It never has been. It never will be....
As Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams pointed out, "Obama's position on land mines calls into question his expressed views on multilateralism, respect for international humanitarian law and disarmament. How can he, with total credibility, lead the world to nuclear disarmament when his own country won't give up even land mines?"...President Obama accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize while delivering -- to the world as it is -- a pro-war speech. The context instantly turned the speech's insights into flackery for more war.
>Deal Breaker: Senate HC Legislation Exempts Industry From Anti-Trust Laws
...Nebraska Democrat [Nelson] already has won a major concession from [Dem majority leader] Reid, who agreed earlier that the legislation would allow the insurance industry to retain its exemption from antitrust laws. Several Democrats favor ending the exemption -- the Houses-passed version of the bill does so -- and would presumably be emboldened to try to remove it if Nelson decides to oppose the bill.
>Obama Tries To Pull A Fast One In Copenhagen
The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations. The document is also being interpreted [to mean] people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much [per capita carbon emissions as poor countries]. The so-called Danish text, a secret draft agreement... understood to include the UK, US and Denmark,...hands effective control of climate change finance to the World Bank [and] would abandon the Kyoto protocol....
>Today's American Fascism: Too Big To Fail?
"As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: 'A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.'" In 1944 U.S. VP Wallace wrote: 'The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power....They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead....They can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.' As Wallace's President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said 'It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction.... And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man....'"
>Public Option: O's Capitulation To Industry Compromises Liberal Dems
Mr. Rockefeller and other liberals have signaled a willingness to compromise, and they have little choice if they hope to pass the health care legislation. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, has said he would oppose the bill if it included a public plan. And several other senators have expressed reservations about the public plan included in the Senate bill by Mr. Reid. [Further, Obama's Senate silence on the issue speaks volumes. --Politex] --NYT
>Senate "Compromise" Really Means No Public Option
The public option in the Senate bill, it should be emphasized, is a compromise of a compromise already. The first compromise was to have the public plan negotiate its rates directly with providers, rather than set them based on Medicare's rates....The second compromise was to allow states that did not want to have the public plan operating within their borders to "opt out" with the passage of a state law....The "middle-ground" ideas that are currently flying around aren't in the middle at all. They represent abandonment of the public plan idea altogether. --CBS. Also, "compromise" = no new competition and no cost controls
>Good Cap, Bad Cap
in 1990 the United States went ahead...with a cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide. And guess what. It worked, delivering a sharp reduction in pollution at lower-than-predicted cost. Curbing greenhouse gases will be a much bigger and more complex task — but we’re likely to be surprised at how easy it is once we get started.--Paul Krugman Supporters of cap and trade point to the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments that capped sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal-burning power plants — the main pollutants in acid rain — at levels below what they were in 1980....Great success? Hardly. --James Hansen
>He'll Sign Anything: We're PO'ed at O's Senate Silence Re PO
Lieberman was beaming: "...When [Obama] outlined how far we've come on the [HC] bill, he talked about the cost-containment provisions; he talked about the insurance market reforms; and he talked about enabling 30 million more people to get insurance....He didn't say anything about the public option."...White House spokesman Bill Burton also mentioned insurance reform and affordability in his statement about the meeting, but neglected to mention the public option. --HuffPo
>Health Care And Bowl Games
There are 34 bowl games, stretching from Dec. 19th Through Jan. 7. But with all those games we'll still never know if the #1 and #2 teams, both undefeated, are better than the #3 and #4 teams, also both undefeated, because there is no playoff system. Why? We'll never even know if the BCS #3 team (Cincinatti) is better than the BCS #4 team (TCU) because they'll be playing in different bowls. Why? Because money, not what's right, controls the bowl system. Doesn't that sound just like what we're going to end up with Obamacare? The fix is in. Money is King. It's the American way. --Jerry Politex
>We'll Leave Afghanistan When O's Power Brokers Tell Him
The 18-month timeline references only the “beginning” of transferring U.S. troops out of Afghanistan; there was no reference to finishing transfer of all troops out of Afghanistan and ending the occupation. The words “exit” or “exit strategy” do not appear in the speech, and the word “withdraw” appears only in a reference to what the U.S. will NOT do. --Phyllis Bennis
>The Last Straw: Obama's Afghan Decision
Others I respect have given up on him before now. I can see why. His backtracking on the treatment of torture (and photographs of torture), his hesitations to give up on rendition, on detentions, on military commissions, and on signing statements, are disheartening continuations of George W. Bush’s heritage. But I kept hoping that he was using these concessions to buy leeway for his most important position, for the ground on which his presidential bid was predicated....He said that he would not oppose war in general, but dumb wars. On that basis, we went for him. And now he betrays us....If we had wanted Bush’s wars, and contractors, and corruption, we could have voted for John McCain. --Garry Wills
"More soldiers committed suicide this year than in any year for which we have complete records. But the military is now able to meet its recruitment goals because the young men and women who are signing up can’t find jobs in civilian life. The United States is broken — school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding — yet we’re nation-building in Afghanistan, sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each." --Bob Herbert
A group of about 100 people lined up at the corner of Quinn and Wilson Blvd., across the street from the small strip mall that is home to Youse Guyz Pizzas.
The man they were waiting to see emerged at 1:06 p.m. after serving President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and won cheers from those in the crowd that could see him. Wearing white shirt-sleeves, Fat Tony Stromboli stood outside his popular strip center pizza shop and waved to the departing dignitaries who had just awarded him the coveted White House Pizza Prize in a simple ceremoney.
The crowd cheered and clapped loudly, and one person called for a speech. But Fat Tony was too busy waving goodby to Obama in the motorcade, departing from his shop at 1:08 p.m. The pizza joint’s owner was ecstatic after the visit, calling it "one of the greatest days of my life. I guess he was missing some good pizza from Chicago that he always talks about but never gets to eat," Fat Tony quipped.
The initial reaction of the other customers: "Madness," one said.
The crowd was unable to settle down, and went on to discuss watching Obama and Biden eat their large pizza on a spare table with condiments and a paper towel roll just under the period horror movie posters that line the wall.
Obama purchased pizzas not only for himself and Biden, but also for members of the press pool that tailed him to lunch across the Potomac. The President also deposited a $5 bill in the tip jar.
A few customers remained in the small, pizzas-only joint to savor the moment and finish their meal after Obama left. "I had lunch with the president," exclaimed Lou Mangeni to nobody in particular.
Another customer proudly showed off the cell phone camera shot he took of the jacket-less Obama and Biden awarding the coveted White House Pizza Prize to Fat Tony.
Later, Stromboli went back behind the counter to keep pushing out pizzas, but took the time to greet another store owner in the small Rosslyn strip. "That'll be good for the center, won't it?" he asked with a smile.
Enaged critics of Obama policy who were informed of the Pizza Prize were not so sure: Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said, “That pizza joint's only been open a few months." Glen Beck, a Fox pundit, wondered if Stromboli's pizza would be served at the Rio Olympics. Grimacing neocon John Bolton pointed his finger and suggested Fat Tony should have declined the prize. When asked for a comment, a red-faced Rush Limbaugh simply puffed out his cheeks and waved his arms as if he were a very large bird trying to take off.
"Letterman’s talent doesn’t give him a free pass — he described his own behavior as 'creepy' — and his wife (a former staffer at NBC) has a right to be deeply hurt and furious.
But it’s absurd to compare a jester (unmarried at the time) to Bill Clinton and other philandering pols. Officeholders run as devoted family men upholding old-fashioned values. They have ambitious public agendas and loyal acolytes whose futures depend on whether these leaders succumb to reckless dalliances.
"As Craig Ferguson, whose show is produced by Letterman, joked: 'If we are now holding late-night talk-show hosts to the same moral accountability as we hold politicians or clergymen, I’m out.'...Unlike Clinton, Letterman trusted the public — and his bond with them — enough to tell the truth."
Perhaps Dowd and the others, like Tom Shales, writing in the Washington Post have it wrong. Actually, it's absurd to compare a politician to a jester. Jesters become celebrities the old fashioned way: they work at their job to make people laugh until they get a big enough platform to be known to the nation. Politicians work at collecting enough money to become celebrities and get elected, then they work at their job: to get re-elected. Sometimes celebrities, like Ronald Reagan, become politicians, most of the time with bad results. Like Ronald Reagan.
One thing some jesters have in common with liberal politicians is that by the time their name becomes a houshold word, they're no longer funny. See Jay Leno. By the time liberal politicians become household words, they no longer act on their campaign promises. Take Barack Obama. Please. This rule does not apply to politicians who are puppets of industry. Unfortunately, by the time their names become household words, they ignore the fake moderation in their campaign promises and go for the nation's jugular. Like George Bush.
The jury's still out on what happens when jesters become politicians. Like Al Frankin. This seldom happens because most jesters know better than to tangle with professionals.
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