Friday, March 02, 2012

Friday Funnies: Republican Edition


Copyright © 2012 Universal Press Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Universal Press Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Universal Press Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Copyright © 2012 Universal Press Syndicate

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Conservative Asshole Andrew Breitbart Has Died

   He died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 43, so that means that there will be no more doctored video’s from this slim who once was an editor with the Drudge Report .

Andrew Breitbart, the conservative firebrand and web publisher, has died, according to his Big Government website.
In a brief post, the site said he died at age 43 of natural causes. His death was confirmed to by the Los Angeles Coroner's Office.     MSN

Today in Congress: you people are gonna want your money back

Thu Mar 01, 2012  by David Waldman for Daily Kos

Recapping yesterday's action:

Less and less is happening on the floor every day. They're still going through the motions in the committees, with the appropriators and budget folks busily churning through their piles of paper in preparation for their busy season. But in the House yesterday, the only action was the party-line passage of the San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (plus the party-line rejection of every single amendment to it), and then the passage on voice vote of one suspension bill.

In the Senate, the official business was the continued debate of the transportation bill, but as for what actually got done, er, ah... umm... well, they declared February 29th "Rare Disease Day." Which I guess is fitting, since February 29th is a rare day.

Looking ahead to today:

It gets no better.

The House convenes at 9:00 a.m., considers a resolution authorizing the House historian to compile oral histories from House members involved in the civil rights movements. A worthy undertaking, no doubt. Though you'd perhaps prefer to see it considered as an interlude between longer and more substantive stretches of work. Instead, it's a prelude only to two votes on suspension bills delayed from yesterday, and a last vote before the weekend anticipated between 10 and 11 a.m.

And in the Senate, yet more stumbling around on the transportation bill, only today's stumbling will be punctuated by a vote on the very obnoxious Blunt anti-contraception amendment. What a day.

Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.

In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Democratic Whip:


On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.

First/Last votes: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

“One Minutes” (5 per side)

H. Res. 562 - Directing the Office of the Historian to compile oral histories from Members of the House of Representatives involved in the historic and annual Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, marches, as well as the civil rights movement in general, for the purposes of expanding or augmenting the historic record and for public dissemination and education (Rep. Sewell - House Administration) (Unanimous Consent Agreement, 1 hour of debate)

Postponed Suspension Votes (2 Votes):

  1. S. 1134 - St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act (Sen. Klobuchar - Transportation and Infrastructure/Natural Resources /Budget)
  2. H.Res. 556 - Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy, as amended (Rep. Pitts - Foreign Affairs)
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Senate Schedule for Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Senate will convene at 9:30am on Thursday, March 1, 2012.  Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of S.1813, the Surface Transportation bill, with the time until 11:00am equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees.

At approximately 11:00am, the Senate will proceed to a roll call vote in relation to the Blunt amendment #1520 (contraception and health care). We will continue to work on a path forward on the transportation bill.

2/29 wrap-up:
Senate Wrap Up for Wednesday, February 29, 2012




Adopted S.Res. 382, designating March 2, 2012, as “Read Across America Day”.

Adopted S.Res. 383, designating February 29, 2012, as “Rare Disease Day”.

Today's House committee schedule:

Interior and Environment Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Dept. witnesses.  B-308 RHOB.


Homeland Security Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for national protection and programs directorate.  Dept. witnesses.  H-405 Capitol.


Commerce, Justice, and Science Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for the Department of Commerce.  Dept. witnesses.  H-309 Capitol.


Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for military construction.  Dept. witnesses.  2359 RHOB.


Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for the Department of Agriculture.  Dept. witnesses.  2362-A RHOB.


Defense Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.  Dept. witnesses.  H-140 Capitol.

ARMED SERVICES-------------------------------------------------------10:00-Open

Full Committee.  On the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization budget request from the U.S. Pacific Command.  Dept. witnesses.  2118 RHOB.

ENERGY & COMMERCE---------------------------------------------------10:00-Open

Health Subc.  On the FY 2013 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services.  Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, HHS.  2123 RHOB.

ENERGY & COMMERCE---------------------------------------------------10:15-Open

Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subc.  On prescription drug diversion and abuse.  Public witnesses.  2322 RHOB.

FINANCIAL SERVICES-----------------------------------------------------9:30-Open

Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subc.  On understanding the effects of the repeal of Regulation Q, which barred banks from paying interest on corporate checking account balances.  Public witnesses.  2128 RHOB.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS-------------------------------------------------------10:00-Open

Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subc.  Markup of H.R. 3783 – To provide for a comprehensive strategy to counter Iran’s growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere.  2172 RHOB.

HOMELAND SECURITY----------------------------------------------------9:30-Open

Oversight, Investigations, and Management Subc.  On Department of Homeland Security management information integration.  Dept. witnesses.  311 CHOB.

NATURAL RESOURCES---------------------------------------------------11:00-Open

Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subc.  On H.R. 1272 - Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Judgment Fund Distribution Act of 2011.  1324 LHOB.

OVERSIGHT & GOVERNMENT REFORM-------------------------------------10:00-Open

Government Organization, Efficiency, and Financial Management Subc.  On examining the FY 2011 consolidated financial statements.  Dept. witnesses.  2154 RHOB.

SCIENCE, SPACE, & TECHNOLOGY-----------------------------------------9:30-Open

Full Committee.  On the FY 2013 budget request for scientific research and development programs of the Department of Energy.  Steven Chu, Secretary, Department of Energy.  2318 RHOB.

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE-----------------------------------10:00-Open

Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subc.  Markup of H.R. 2903 – FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2011, H.R. 3182 – To designate the courthouse in Anchorage as the "James M. Fitzgerald United States Courthouse”, H.R. 3556 - To designate the courthouse in Buffalo as the "Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse", and H.R. 4097 – The John F. Kennedy Center Reauthorization Act of 2012.  2167 RHOB.

WAYS & MEANS----------------------------------------------------------9:30-Open

Full Committee.  Markup the views and estimates submission.  1100 LHOB.

Today's Senate committee schedule:
9:30 am
Armed Services
   Hearings to examine U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command in review of the Defense Authorization request for fiscal year 2013 and the Future Years Defense Program; with the possibility of a closed session in SVC-217 following the open session.

10:00 am
Appropriations: Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
   Hearings to examine proposed budget estimates for fiscal year 2013 for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

10:00 am
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  Hearings to examine the semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress.

10:00 am
                Hearings to examine tax reform to encourage growth, reduce the deficit, and promote fairness.

10:00 am
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    An oversight hearing to examine the cruise ship industry, focusing on if current regulations are sufficient to protect passengers and the environment.

10:00 am
Foreign Relations
  Hearings to examine Syria, focusing on the crisis and its implications.

10:00 am
  Business meeting to consider S.1002, to prohibit theft of medical products, and the nominations of Andrew David Hurwitz, of Arizona, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, Patty Shwartz, of New Jersey, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, Jeffrey J. Helmick, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio, Mary Geiger Lewis, to be United States District Judge for the District of South Carolina, Timothy S. Hillman, to be United States District Judge for the District of Massachusetts, and Thomas M. Harrigan, of New York, to be Deputy Administrator of Drug Enforcement, Department of Justice.

2:30 pm
Appropriations: Subcommittee on Legislative Branch
    Hearings to examine proposed budget estimates for fiscal year for 2013 for the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Office of Compliance, and the Open World Leadership Center.

2:30 pm
Closed hearings to examine certain intelligence matters.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Fox Effect: The Book That Terrifies Roger Ailes And Fox News

by News Corpse for Media Watch  Tue Feb 28, 2012

A new book from Media Matters was just released that chronicles the history of Fox News and explains how a small group of wealthy, politically connected conservative partisans conspired to build a pseudo-news network with the intent of advancing the right-wing agenda of the Republican Party. And that network, known for its drooling anti-liberalism, is scared spitless.

The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine, was written by David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt (and others) of Media Matters. It begins by looking back at the early career of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and his role as a media consultant for Republican politicians, including former president Richard Nixon. From the start Ailes was a brash, creative proponent of the power of television to influence a mass audience. He guided the media-challenged Nixon through a treacherous new era of news and political PR, and his experiences formed the basis for what would become his life's grand achievement: a "news" network devoted to a political party, its candidates, and its platform.

When Ailes partnered with international newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch to launch a new 24 hour cable news channel, he was given an unprecedented measure of control to shape the network's business and ideology. The Fox Effect examines the underpinnings of the philosophy that Ailes brought to the venture. His earliest observations exhibit an appreciation for the tabloid-style sensationalism that would become a hallmark of Fox's reporting. Ailes summed it up in an interview in 1988 as something he called his "orchestra pit theory" of politics:

"If you have two guys on stage and one guy says 'I have a solution to the Middle East problem,' and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?"
That's the sort of thinking that produced Fox's promotion of hollering town hall protesters during the health care debate and their focus on lurid but phony issues like death panels. It is a flavor of journalism that elevates melodrama over factual discourse.

The book exposes how Fox was more of a participant in the news than a reporter of it. Through interviews with Fox insiders and leaked internal communications, The Fox Effect documents the depths to which the network collaborated with political partisans to invent stories with the intent of manipulating public opinion. The authors reveal memos from the Washington managing editor of Fox News, Bill Sammon, directing anchors and reporters on how to present certain subjects. For instance, he ordered them never to use the term "public option" when referring to health insurance reform. Focus group testing by Fox pollster Frank Luntz had found that the phrase "government option" left a more negative impression, and they were instructed to use that instead.

There is a chapter on the Tea Party that describes how integral Fox was to its inception and development. The network literally branded the fledgling movement as FNC Tea Parties and dispatched its top anchors to host live broadcasts from rallies. The Fox Effect also details the extensive coverage devoted to the deceitfully edited videos that brought down ACORN. Fox was instrumental in promoting the story and stirring up a public backlash that resulted in congressional investigations and loss of funding. The book followed the story from Andrew Breitbart's new and little known BigGovernment blog to Glenn Beck's conspiracy factory to the wall-to-wall coverage it enjoyed on Fox's primetime. This chapter is where the authors introduce what they call "The Six Steps" that Fox employs to create national controversies:

  • STEP 1: Conservative activists introduce the lie.
  • STEP 2: Fox News devotes massive coverage to the story.
  • STEP 3: Fox attacks other outlets for ignoring the controversy.
  • STEP 4: Mainstream outlets begin reporting on the story.
  • STEP 5: Media critics, pundits praise Fox News's coverage.
  • STEP 6: The story falls apart once the damage has been done.

This is a pattern that has played out with varying degrees of success. Fox used this blueprint to engineer the career-ending slander of presidential adviser Van Jones and Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod. But the strategy was less effective when used against Attorney General Eric Holder and Planned Parenthood, although not for lack of effort.

These, and other examples of deliberate bias, illustrate why most neutral observers regard Fox News as the PR arm of the Republican Party. The Fox Effect makes a convincing case to affirm that view and even offers admissions to that effect by Fox insiders. It is a damning exposé of how a political operative and a right-wing billionaire built a propaganda machine thinly disguised as a news network. The research and documentation are extensive and compelling.

For that reason, Fox News has mounted an unprecedented attack on Media Matters in advance of the book's release. [Note: Actually it's not so unprecedented. Fox set the precedent itself last year with a sustained campaign to do tangible harm by tacking an article to the top of the Fox Nation web site with a headline that read "Want to File an IRS Complaint Against Media Matters? Click Here..."] In the week prior to publication of The Fox Effect, Fox News broadcast no fewer than a dozen derogatory segments across all dayparts and on their most popular programs, including The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, Fox & Friends, etc. It was the sort of blanket coverage usually reserved for a natural disaster, a declaration of war, or a lewd TwitPic of a politician. The attacks never contained any substantive argument or even example of error on the part of Media Matters. However, they are brimming with the most nasty form of personal invective imaginable.

The basis for the Fox News broadcasts was a series of articles by the Daily Caller (TDC), the conservative web site of Tucker Carlson, who just happens to also be on the Fox News payroll. The gist of the story, as described by TDC, is that Media Matters is manipulating news organizations, coordinating messaging with the White House, and struggling to cope with the "volatile and erratic behavior" of Brock, whom TDC alleges is mentally ill. TDC never reveals from where they got their psychiatric credentials, nor when they had an opportunity to examine and diagnose Brock. Likewise, they never reveal where they got any of the other information for the allegations they make against Media Matters as every source is anonymous.

Media analysts have universally condemned TDC's reporting. Howard Kurtz interviewed author Vince Coglianese on CNN's Reliable Sources and assailed the absence of any evidence to corroborate the allegations of his anonymous sources. Coglianese could not even confirm that events alleged in the article ever occurred. He laughably argued that the absence of a denial from Brock was evidence of guilt, rather than a simple disinclination to raise the profile of a poorly written article. Jack Shafer wrote for Reuters that "the Daily Caller is attacking Media Matters with bad journalism and lame propaganda."

Media Matters was created to document conservative media bias and work to implement reforms that would produce more balanced reporting. Yet, Fox is confused by the fact that Media Matters' research is cited by progressive organizations and publishers. The grunt work of aggregating video and other reporting is appreciated by those who use Media Matters materials. Much of it is provided without any editorializing. The right has always been fearful of any entity that would simply record their disinformation, nonsense, and hostility, and then hold them accountable for it. But they have yet to criticize NewsBusters or their parent organization, the Media Research Center, despite the cozy relationship they have with Fox News. Brit Hume, the former managing editor of Fox News, however, was abundantly grateful:

Hume: I want to say a word, however, of thanks to Brent [Bozell] and the team at the Media Research Center [...] for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report, I don't know what we would've done without them. It was a daily buffet of material to work from, and we certainly made tremendous use of it.
Joining in on the assault is the Fox Nation web site that is engaged in a relentless barrage of critical articles with disturbingly insulting and hyperbolic headlines. For instance:
  • Is Media Matters' David Brock A 'Dangerous' Man?
  • Were Media Matters Donors Duped?
  • Inside Media Matters: Founder Believed to be Regularly Using Illegal Drugs, Including Cocaine.

But even those paled in comparison to what Fox News was posting on the screen graphics that accompanied their broadcasts:
  • MEDIA MATTERS' MONEY: David Brock is an admitted drug user
  • THE MONEY BEHIND THE MACHINE: David Brock committed to a quiet room
  • A LIBERAL INFLUENCE: Brock spent time in a mental ward

Note that the subjects of the broadcasts were financial in nature. Fox was reporting on TDC's discovery that Media Matters donors were largely progressive individuals and foundations (not exactly what one would call a scoop). However, Fox News appended assertions as to the mental stability of Brock, which had nothing to do with their topic. It was merely an opportunity for them to take swipes at a perceived enemy. And this mud-slinging occurred during what Fox regards as their "news" programming, not the evening hours that they designate as the opinion portion of their schedule.

In order to cement the impression that David Brock is a mental defective, unfit to lead any organization or to be given serious consideration, Fox News brought in their resident psycho analyst, "Dr" Keith Ablow. As a part of the Fox News Medical "A" Team, Ablow appeared on the air in a segment that painted Brock as seriously disturbed and even dangerous:

"If you are filled with self-loathing you will see demons on every street corner because you project that self-hatred. [...] He's a dangerous man because having followers and waging war, as he says, or previously being a right-wing hitman, this isn't accidental language. It's about violence, destruction, and he feels destroyed in himself."
This diagnosis was an invention by Ablow who has never examined Brock, or even met him. That in itself is a violation of the American Psychiatric Association's Principles of Medical Ethics, something Ablow does not need to concern himself with because last year he was compelled to separate himself from the APA due to ethical "differences."

This is actually the second time Ablow has appeared on Fox News with his absurd fantasies (or projections) about Brock. And Brock isn't his only pretend patient. A few weeks ago he published an op-ed on that praised Newt Gingrich's serial infidelity as evidence of traits that would help him to make America stronger were he president. Seriously! And who could forget his deranged psycho analysis of President Obama?

If Fox News wants to engage in "remote" psychiatry they ought to at least be fair and balanced about it. However they pointedly make no mention of the reported paranoia of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. No mention that he was cited as the reason that the NYPD provided police protection for the Fox headquarters at a cost of $500,000 a year to the people of New York. No mention of the obsessive fears described by Tim Dickinson in a Rolling Stone profile:

"Ailes is also deeply paranoid. Convinced that he has personally been targeted by Al Qaeda for assassination, he surrounds himself with an aggressive security detail and is licensed to carry a concealed handgun. [...] Murdoch installed Ailes in the corner office on Fox's second floor at 1211  Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. The location made Ailes queasy: It was close to the street, and he lived in fear that gay activists would try to attack him in retaliation over his hostility to gay rights. (In 1989, Ailes had broken up a protest of a Rudy Giuliani speech by gay activists, grabbing demonstrator by the throat and shoving him out the door.) Barricading himself behind a massive mahogany desk, Ailes insisted on having 'bombproof glass' installed in the windows – even going so far as to personally inspect samples of high-tech plexiglass, as though he were picking out new carpet."
I really have to wonder if even the Fox News audience is so intellectually comatose that they wouldn't recognize the feverish anxiety gushing from Fox in advance of the Media Matters book. A tree stump would notice that they are laying it on awfully thick. So the obvious question is what are they so afraid of? And the answer is that Fox News can no longer hide from their reputation as a dishonest purveyor of slanted propaganda and tabloid trash on behalf of a right-wing agenda and the political operatives who advance it and benefit from it.

The Fox Effect is a thoroughly documented investigation into the inner workings of both the organization and its principle managers and backers. It peels away the layers of the conservative cabal that has so effectively poisoned the public discourse on many significant issues. And like the fraudulent Wizard in the city of Oz, Fox wants us all to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain (Roger Ailes), or to the curtain (Fox News), or the corporation that controls it all (News Corp). And to that end Fox has embarked on a massive smear campaign to destroy the credibility of the book, its authors, and the organization that produced it. But Media Matters has already succeeded. As noted in the book's epilogue:

"Fox News will no longer be able to conduct its campaign under the false pretense that the network is a journalistic institution. There is heightened awareness in the progressive community and in the general public of the damage Fox causes."
And that is exactly what Fox is afraid of.
Originally posted to Media Watch on Tue Feb 28, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Obama forcefully rebuts Mitt Romney in speech to auto workers union

Tue Feb 28, 2012

by Laura Clawson for Daily Kos Labor

As Republicans watch and wait for today's Michigan primary to be decided, President Obama spoke to a Michigan crowd in Washington, D.C., where the UAW is holding its National Community Action Program Legislative Conference. Mitt Romney may think he has a Republican primary winner in attacking Obama's 2009 auto industry rescue, and especially his allegations that it was too generous to the auto workers union, but Obama certainly isn't hiding from the issue. In fact, he's taking it straight to Romney, saying:

With the economy in complete freefall, there weren’t any private companies or investors willing to take a chance on the auto industry. Anyone in the financial sector could tell you that. So we could have kept giving billions of taxpayer dollars to the automakers without demanding real change or accountability in return ... The other option we had was to do nothing, and allow these companies to fail. In fact, some politicians said we should. Some even said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Quoting "let Detroit go bankrupt" is an obvious dig at Romney, but he begins the paragraph with a subtler jab by saying that "anyone in the financial sector could tell you" that "there weren't any private companies or investors willing to take a chance on the auto industry." Because that is exactly what Mitt Romney continues to insist GM and Chrysler should have had to rely on instead of government money, and, as Obama points out, it's no secret that it wasn't possible.

Obama doesn't end with pointing out that Romney was wrong about whether to save the auto industry; he also takes Romney's claims that despite the success of the industry now, the rescue was done wrong because it was too generous to workers:

Because I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet. These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” Now they’re saying they were right all along. Or worse, they’re saying that the problem is that you, the workers, made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what. About 700,000 retirees saw a reduction in the health care benefits they had earned. Many of you saw hours reduced, or pay and wages scaled back. You gave up some of your rights as workers. Promises were made to you over the years that you gave up for the sake and survival of this industry, its workers, and their families. You want to talk about values? Hard work – that’s a value. Looking out for one another – that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together – that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper – that is a value.
It's not hard for Obama to make the case that he did the right thing by rescuing the auto industry in the way that he did—the results speak for themselves, and he's making that case not just in front of auto workers but far afield. But in this speech, he takes two important steps past that, hitting Romney's abysmal arguments from multiple directions, and affirming the value and importance of what unionized auto workers do and the often-overlooked sacrifices that they made in recent years.

See below the fold for the complete text of President Obama's remarks as prepared for delivery.

Hello, Autoworkers! Thanks Bob, for that introduction. Thanks to your International Executive Board and all of you for having me here today. I brought along my Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, too.  

I’m always honored to spend some time with folks who represent the working men and women of America. It’s unions like yours that fought for jobs and opportunity for generations of American workers. It’s unions like yours that helped build an arsenal of democracy that defeated fascism. It is unions like yours that forged the American middle class – the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever known.

You helped write America’s story. And today, you’re busy writing a proud new chapter. You’re reminding us that no matter how tough times get, Americans are tougher. No matter how many punches we take, we don’t give up. We get up, we fight back, we move forward, and we come out the other side stronger than before.

You are showing America what’s possible. So I’m here today to tell you one thing: you make me proud.

Take a minute to think about what you and the workers and families you represent have fought through. Just a few years ago, nearly one in five autoworkers were handed a pink slip. 400,000 jobs across this industry vanished the year before I took office. And as the financial crisis hit with its full fury, America faced a hard and once unimaginable reality: two of the Big Three – GM and Chrysler – were on the brink of failure.

The heartbeat of American manufacturing was flatlining. And we had a choice to make.

With the economy in complete freefall, there weren’t any private companies or investors willing to take a chance on the auto industry.  Anyone in the financial sector could tell you that. So we could have kept giving billions of taxpayer dollars to the automakers without demanding real change or accountability in return. But that wouldn’t have solved anything. It would have just kicked the problem further on down the road. The other option we had was to do nothing, and allow these companies to fail. In fact, some politicians said we should. Some even said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt.”

Think about what that choice would have meant for this country. If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler wouldn’t exist today. The suppliers and distributors that get their business from those companies would have died off, too. Then even Ford could have gone down as well. Production: shut down. Factories: shuttered. Once proud companies chopped up and sold off for scraps. And all of you – the men and women who built these companies with your own hands – would’ve been hung out to dry.

More than one million Americans across the country would have lost their jobs in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In communities across the Midwest, it would have been another Great Depression. Think about everyone who depends on you – schoolteachers and small business owners; the server in the diner who knows your order and the bartender who’s waiting for you when you get off. Their livelihoods were at stake, too.

And so was something else. How many of you who’ve worked the assembly line had fathers and grandfathers who worked that same line? Or sons and daughters who hope to?  These jobs are worth more than just a paycheck. They’re a source of pride.  They’re a ticket to a middle class life. They make it possible to own a home, to raise kids and send them to college, to retire. These companies are worth more than just the cars they build. They’re a symbol of American innovation; the source of our manufacturing might. And if that’s not worth fighting for, what is?

So no, we were not going to take a knee and do nothing. We were not going to give up on your jobs, your families, and your communities. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We said the auto industry would have to truly change, not just pretend that it did. We got labor and management to settle their differences.  We got the industry to retool and restructure. Everyone involved made sacrifices.  Everyone had some skin in the game. It wasn’t popular. And it wasn’t what I ran for President to do.  But I ran to do the tough things – the right things –no matter the politics.

And you know why I knew this rescue would succeed? It wasn’t because of anything the government did. It wasn’t just because of anything management did.  It was because I believed in you. I placed my bet on American workers. And I’d make that same bet again any day of the week. Because three years later, that bet is paying off for America. Three years later, the American auto industry is back.

Today, GM is back on top as the number one automaker in the world, with the highest profits in its 100-year history. Chrysler is growing faster in America than any other car company. Ford is investing billions in American plants and factories, and plans to bring thousands of jobs back home. All told, the entire industry has added more than 200,000 new jobs over the past two and a half years. 200,000 new jobs. 

And you’re not just building cars again. You’re building better cars. After three decades of inaction, we’re gradually putting in place the toughest fuel economy standards in history for our cars and pickups. That means the cars you build will average nearly 55 miles per gallon by the middle of the next decade – almost double what they get today. That means folks will be able to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, saving the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time. That means we’ll cut our oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day.

Thanks to the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law with you in mind, there will soon be new cars on the streets of South Korea imported from Detroit. And Toledo. And Chicago. And today, I’m creating a Trade Enforcement Unit that will bring the full resources of the federal government to bear to investigate and counter unfair trade practices around the world, including by countries like China. American workers are the best workers on Earth, and when the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.

Because everyone came together and worked together, the most high-tech, fuel-efficient, and good-looking cars in the world are once again designed, engineered, forged and built, not in Europe, not in Asia, but right here in the United States of America.

I’ve seen it myself. I’ve seen it at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Plant in Detroit, where a new shift of more than 1,000 workers came on two years ago, and another 1,000 are slated to come on next year. I’ve seen it at Ford’s Chicago Assembly, where workers are building a new Explorer and selling it to dozens of countries around the world. I’ve seen at GM’s Lordstown plant in Ohio, where workers got their jobs back to build the Chevy Cobalt, and at GM’s Hamtramck plant in Detroit, where I got to get inside a brand-new Chevy Volt fresh off the line.

I know our bet was a good one because I’ve seen the payoff first hand. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask the Chrysler workers near Kokomo, Indiana, who were brought on to make sure the newest high-tech transmissions and fuel-efficient engines are made in America. Ask the GM workers in Spring Hill, Tennessee, whose jobs were saved from being sent abroad. Ask the Ford workers in Kansas City coming on to make the F-150 – America’s best-selling truck – a more fuel-efficient truck. Ask the suppliers who are expanding and hiring, and the communities that rely on them if America’s investment in you was a good bet. Who knows, maybe the naysayers would finally come around and say that standing by American workers was the right thing to do.

Because I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet. These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, “you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” Now they’re saying they were right all along. Or worse, they’re saying that the problem is that you, the workers, made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what. About 700,000 retirees saw a reduction in the health care benefits they had earned. Many of you saw hours reduced, or pay and wages scaled back.  You gave up some of your rights as workers. Promises were made to you over the years that you gave up for the sake and survival of this industry, its workers, and their families. You want to talk about values? Hard work – that’s a value. Looking out for one another – that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together – that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper – that is a value.

But they’re still talking about you as if you’re some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten. Since when are hardworking men and women special interests? Since when is the idea that we look out for each other a bad thing? To borrow a line from our old friend Ted Kennedy: what is it about working men and women they find so offensive?

This notion that we should have let the auto industry die; that we should pursue anti-worker policies in hopes unions like yours will unravel – it’s part of that same old you’re-on-your-own philosophy that says we should just leave everyone to fend for themselves. They think the best way to boost the economy is to undo the reforms we put in place to prevent another crisis, and let Wall Street write its own rules again. They think the best way to help families afford health care is to undo the reform we passed that’s already lowering costs for millions of Americans, and go back to the days when insurance companies could deny your coverage or jack up your rates whenever and however they pleased. They think we should keep cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans so that billionaires can keep paying lower tax rates than their secretaries.

I don’t think so. That’s the philosophy that got us into this mess. And we can’t afford to go back. Not now. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a long way to go before everyone who wants a good job can find one. We’ve got a long way to go before middle-class Americans regain the sense of security that’s been slipping away since long before the recession hit. But over the last two years, our businesses have added about 3.7 million new jobs. Manufacturing is coming back for the first time since the 1990s. Companies are bringing jobs back from overseas.  The economy is getting stronger. The recovery is speeding up. And now is the time to keep our foot on the gas.

We will not settle for a country where a few people do really well, and everyone else struggles to get by. We’re fighting for an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony profits. We’re fighting for an economy that’s built to last – one built on things like education, energy, manufacturing things the rest of the world wants to buy, and restoring the values that made this country great: Hard work. Fair play.The opportunity to make it if you try.  And the responsibility to reach back and help someone else make it, too.

That’s who we are. That’s what we believe in.

I said I visited Chrysler’s Jefferson North Plant in Detroit about a year and a half ago. Well, the day I visited, some of the employees there had recently won the lottery. I’m not kidding. Now, you might think they’d all just kick back and retire. And no one would fault them for that. Building cars is tough work.

But that’s not what they did. The guy who bought the winning ticket was a proud UAW member who worked on the line. He used some of his winnings to buy his wife the car he builds, because he’s proud of his work. He bought new American flags for his hometown, because he’s proud of his country. And he and the other winners are still clocking in at that plant today, because they’re proud of the part they and their coworkers are playing in America’s comeback.

That’s what America is all about. When our assembly lines grind to a halt, we work together and we get them going again. Don’t forget I got my start standing with working folks who’d lost jobs and hope when nearby steel plants closed down, because I didn’t like the idea that they didn’t have anybody to fight for them. That still drives me today. So I’ll promise you this: as long as you’ve got an ounce of fight left in you, I’ll have a ton of fight left in me. And we’re going to keep fighting, right now, to make our economy stronger; to put our friends and neighbors back to work faster; to give our children opportunity even greater than what we knew; to make sure the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, God bless you and the work you do, and God bless America.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monday Mayhem: Rick Santorum Edition

Jay Leno: "Santorum says that Satan has his sights set on the United States of America. And today Satan said he tries to avoid politics because it makes him feel dirty."

“Santorum says that if he's elected, he's going to leave the interns alone and just screw the American people directly.”

"He is so conservative. When he goes to the market, he skips the household aisle, just to avoid making eye contact with Mr. Clean."

"He is so conservative that he won't masturbate because it involves sex with a guy."

"Rick Santorum said today that during his 16 years in Congress, he was an outsider the whole time. You know what? After 16 years, you're not an outsider. You're just unpopular.

“Rick Santorum also said that global warming is politics, not science. And he said he'll defend that position to the edge of the earth. "If I have to fall off..."

“This guy is really conservative. In fact, Rick Santorum is so conservative he won't even go down on an escalator.”

“Rick Santorum is so conservative that when he goes to KFC, he only orders the right wings.”

“This guy is so anti-gay, he won't even eat a Hershey bar if it has nuts.”

Jimmy Fallon: “Microsoft founder Bill Gates attended a fundraiser for President Obama on Friday. He wasn't invited, but in typical Microsoft fashion he crashed it.”

Bill Maher: Rick Santorum released his tax returns this week, and under withholding he wrote oral sex.”

“Rick Santorum doesn’t like sex. He doesn’t like the pill. He really doesn’t like condoms. He said if men are going to pull something on to prevent procreation, nothing works better that a sweater vest.”

Mitt Romney could lose his home state of Michigan. He keeps shooting himself in the foot. He wrote an Op-Ed in the Detroit newspaper reminding them that he opposed the automobile bailout. And then he kicked off his Wisconsin ‘f**k cheese’ tour.”

"Here's the good news for liberals. A new poll shows that Santorum and Romney are beating each other up so bad that
Obama is now ahead of both of them – another tragic result of white-on-white crime."

Craig Ferguson: “Everyone throws beads on Mardi Gras. The beads are paid for by local businessmen who ride on elaborate floats and toss little trinkets to the desperate masses in the streets. Which is also Mitt Romney's economic plan.”

Jimmy Kimmel: “Bob Morris, a state lawmaker from Fort Wayne, Ind., has decided not to support a proposal to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts. He believes the Girl Scouts is a, quote, radicalized organization that supports homosexuality and abortion. I'm all for freedom of speech, but that kind of talk might get you picked as Rick Santorum's running mate.”

“Girl Scouts sell cookies. They don't promote homosexuality. They promote obesity.”

"Rick Santorum said he believes that Satan has his sights on America. Apparently Satan is still upset about the time he went down to Georgia and lost that fiddle.

Conan O'Brien: “There are 8 million dead people who are still registered to vote. As a matter of fact, they're the group that's most passionate about Mitt Romney.”