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Barack Obama

It's A Free Country ®

GE's Japan Connection May Have Financial and Political Ramifications

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stocks of GE declined in early trading on Tuesday because of concerns about the company’s connection to the nuclear reactors that are at risk of meltdown in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan.

GE designed the six reactors at the Fukushima Dalichi nuclear power plant, where a third explosion erupted on Tuesday morning, which may have breached a reactor's inner containment vessels.

Now, nuclear experts are watching closely to see how well the earthquake-battered containment systems are containing radiation.

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If Parties Want to Block Independents from Primaries, They Can Pay for Them

Friday, March 04, 2011

WNYC

I understand the logic behind the legal challenges that political parties have to primary rules allowing independents - and sometimes registered members of other parties - from voting in their primaries. While there really has never been any evidence that outside efforts have led to sabotaging of primary elections, there certainly is evidence that they've led to different candidates getting elected.

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Libya and Obama's Opportunity

Monday, February 28, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, continuing to punch out some of the best writing around as he battles with esophageal cancer, rakes President Obama over the coals in his latest op-ed at Slate. Hitch is right on here, taking the Obama administration to task for it's overly cautious response to uprisings in the Middle East, especially with what is going on now in Libya.

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It's A Free Blog

Credit to Bush for Pro-Democracy Movements? Not So Much.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

While America has a valuable role to play in supporting the cause of democracy around the world, it would be foolish to take credit for the events of the past two months. The months ahead will show us where this trajectory leads, and we can’t predict the future. But it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the past and know that George W. Bush wasn’t the inspiration for Tahrir Square any more than the Beastie Boys.

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It's A Free Blog

Defense of Marriage Act is Still Good Law...Until It's Not

Friday, February 25, 2011

Let's all stop and take a deep breath to reconsider the news of this week.

The Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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WNYC News

Public Workers and Unions Rally in New York

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nearly a thousand public workers and their unions massed at lunch time in front of City Hall on Thursday in solidarity with public employees in Wisconsin and other states that face the prospects of layoffs and pension and benefit rollbacks.

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It's A Free Blog

A Free Middle East? Blame George W. Bush!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

With protests sweeping the Middle East from Bahrain to Yemen to Jordan and, of course, to Libya, and with the departure of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak from Egypt, now seems like a good time to remind everyone: Bush was right.

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It's A Free Country ®

Even Liberal Experts Agree Obama Punts on Deficit

Thursday, February 24, 2011

WNYC

There are mixed signals coming from Washington about the deficit.

This isn't new, but at least the mixed signals include a growing number of lawmakers who are beginning to be more honest and hint at supporting real action on long-term debt.

Unfortunately, President Obama is not among them.

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The Takeaway

Libyan Author Hisham Matar Reflects on Uprising

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The uprising to end Col. Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year reign has been a bloody one, with the embattled leader refusing to step down and vowing to arrest or kill the people who continue to stream into the streets to fight for freedom. The uprising may lead the country to a more peaceful and democratic future; however, much is still uncertain, and the violence is nothing new. Libyan author and activist Hisham Matar says he hasn't slept at all since the revolt began. Matar's father was kidnapped in 1990 and is believed to be held in a prison in Libya ever since.

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It's A Free Blog

Stucknation: Our Debt Service Time Bomb

Monday, February 21, 2011

When President Obama released his 2012 budget proposal, he spoke of hard choices and investments. What he left out were the real jaw-dropping numbers contained in an obscure Department of the Treasury Report from the Office of Debt Management that was released two weeks earlier.

The 24-page document in charts and graphs dispassionately lays out the explosion in costs associated with just servicing the nation's rolling multi-trillion dollar deficit.

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WNYC News

Combined Impacts: Potential Federal, State and City Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs

Friday, February 18, 2011

It was a tough week for folks at the Community Service Society of New York, which has been serving New York City's poor since 1848. President Obama rolled out his budget proposal, which included significant cuts to Community Block grants and other poverty fighting programs. That was on top of bleak news from Albany. Then, Mayor Bloomberg released his budget. It included the elimination of 17,000 child care slots that the working poor and near poor rely on and cut a voucher program that helps the homeless get into housing.  

David Jones is the CEO of the Community Service Society of New York that has been serving the city for 160 years. He worries that President Obama's budget is the best it might get this year, since Republicans control the House of Representatives in Washington.

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WNYC News

Chris Christie's National Platform at Local Town Halls

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie goes to Washington to give a high profile speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

No doubt the national audience will hear some version of the stump speech that Governor Chris Christie has honed in more than 20 animated town halls that have become YouTube sensations.

The crowds have been building and they come for his bluntness and maybe for his form of roller derby rhetorical slam down.

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It's A Free Country ®

Highlights from Obama's Presser

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WNYC

President Obama's press conference on Tuesday focused on defending the annual budget he presented yesterday. Reporters used to opportunity to corner him on Egypt, the deficit commission, tax reform and "having an adult conversation" with Republicans.

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WNYC News

Obama’s Proposed Budget May Hurt New York Nonprofits

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

President Barack Obama's plans for cuts to domestic spending, as part of his $3.73 trillion budget for 2012, would directly impact local nonprofits that provide an array of social services. There would be less federal money to go around, and stiffer competition for a smaller pot of funds.

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The Empire

Poll: Cuomo more popular than Cuomo budget

Monday, February 14, 2011

Andrew Cuomo is popular, even if key parts of his budget face resistance, according to a new Sienea poll.

Also, GOP and Independent voters really like Cuomo's budget, even though members of his Democratic Party do not.

Cuomo
77-16 percent favorable / unfavorable among voters.
83-12 percent among Dems
70-20 percent among GOP
70-22 percent among Independents

Obama
62-35 percent favorable / unfavorable among voters.
82-17 percent among Dems
29-67 percent among GOP
55-39 percent among Independents

Cuomo's pledges to not raise taxes, not borrow, and cut spending all poll at 75 percent or higher with voters.

When it comes to cutting health care or education, things change.

Cut Medicaid by $1 billion:
51-45 percent support it.
41-54 percent among Dems
61-36 percent among GOP
59-36 percent among Independents

Cut SUNY / CUNY by 10 percent:
41-56 percent support it
33-65 percent among Dems
50-47 percent among GOP
49-50 percent among Independents

Renew tax on those making $200,000+ annually (which Cuomo opposes)
33-65 percent support
27-71 percent among Dems
45-53 percent among GOP
34-63 percent among Independents
61-37 percent among those making $100,000+ annually

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Transportation Nation

Obama's $53 Billion Rail Plan: Applause, Jeers, and Many Unanswered Questions

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)   The Obama Administration has announced its largest and most specific high-speed rail plan to date.  In proposing $53 billion for high speed rail in the next five years, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation of Ray LaHood began to put some muscle behind the administration's promise to made high speed rail accessible to 80 percent of Americans by 2036.  Up to now, the administration has invested just $10 billion, and $8 billion of that was in the economic stimulus.

This level of spending would be a significant jump -- and comes despite Republican criticism that high speed rail is a waste of money and would serve relatively few Americans.

Petra Todorovich, the high speed rail expert at the planning group America 2050,  said in an email:  "We've been waiting a long time for the Administration's surface transportation bill proposal, and this is the first taste it it."

Under the plan announced today, $8 billion would come from the budget.  The additional $45 billion could come from transportation re-authorization bill, though the administration isn't quite  saying. Still Todorovich and other planning groups saw the announcement as significant.  She sent over the following bullets.

"This shows the administration sees the high-speed rail piece as one of the most sellable and exciting aspects of the transportation program and thus has preceded their larger proposal with this announcement," Todorovich wrote.

"The administration has signaled high-speed and passenger rail should be part of the surface transportation bill which has never happened before," she added."  "Former Minnesota Representative (Jim) Oberstar had proposed this as well, but the Administration has been silent on it until now."

Todorovich's response was echoed by many groups, including US PIRG and Smart Growth America, who attended the announcement.

The administration is still being silent on some issues -- neither the Department of Transportation nor the Vice President's office would offer details of funding beyond that $8 billion would be included in the forthcoming budget. Administration officials would not say which projects would be funded -- -or how  -- given that the Highway Trust Fund is broke.

But the plan indicated a detailed level of thinking about how to prioritize corridors, including "core express," "regional," and "emerging."

But while advocates like Todorovich cheered,  House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL)  issued one of his most sharply-worded statements to date against the plan.  “This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio,” Mica said in a statement.  In the past, Mica has applauded high speed rail in concept, while criticizing the Administration's approach. “Rather than focusing on the Northeast Corridor, the most congested corridor in the nation and the only corridor owned by the federal government, the Administration continues to squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects,” he added.

Mica said he would be investigating how previous funding decisions on high speed rail had been made.

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The Lessons of Obama's Cairo Speech

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

You’ve heard the phrase, “lead, follow or get out of the way.” In these cases, we can do a little of each: leading in declaring unwavering support for democratic principles, following the events with support for proper process and the safety of local populations, and making sure we play no role in obstructing the astonishing show of popular expression or the subsequent march toward new, fair elections — whether in Egypt and or wherever people rise up next.

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It's A Free Blog

It's Time for America to Get Tough with Egyptian Government

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I don’t think it at all inappropriate to rescind any further military aid until a list of basic democratic reforms are in place, including freedom of the press. I don’t believe it grandstanding for the President of the United States of America to come out unequivocally for their right to democratic self-determination. Whether it has any chance of passing or not, it would not be an empty gesture to bring a motion to the United Nations to call for open elections, monitored by international observers.

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WNYC News

At Anti-Mubarak Rally, Anger and Optimism from Egyptians

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City Saturday, calling for the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They were optimistic about Egypt's future, though many complained that it was time for the United States government to start supporting the Egyptian people and not their dictator.

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It's A Free Blog

The Silence of Friends

Friday, January 28, 2011

As Americans, we have come to expect our leaders to stand up for the rights of those who want to be free—calling on other nations to foster democracy and not to squelch it. With the situation developing in Egypt, however, we need to hear more from the White House than labored fence-straddling between what is best for our national interests and the principles we profess to uphold.

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