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‘I don’t think assigning blame is what our job is’

There’s an interview in the Columbia Journalism Review with David Leonhardt, the NY Times’ new Washington bureau chief. Go read it to get some idea of just how wedded these journalists are to getting it wrong.

On a roll

More Matt Damon:

“I’m so disgusted,” he told a reporter about the protracted negotiations. “I mean, no, I don’t know what you do in the face of that kind of intransigence. So, my heart does go out to the President. He is dealing with a lot.”

Still, despite any sympathy, he was furious with the negotiations’ outcome, as well as the greater thrust of American economic policy.

“The wealthy are paying less than they paid at any time else, certainly in my lifetime, and probably in the last century,” Damon said. “I don’t know what we were paying in the roaring 20’s; it’s criminal that so little is asked of people who are getting so much. I don’t mind paying more. I really don’t mind paying more taxes. I’d rather pay for taxes than cut ‘Reading is Fundamental’ or Head Start or some of these programs that are really helping kids. This is the greatest country in the world; is it really that much worse if you pay 6% more in taxes? Give me a break. Look at what you get for it: you get to be American.”

When asked whether he thought tax cuts helped create jobs, he was more than clear in his belief that they do not, and struck again on the inequality in the nation.

“I didn’t go start a small business with my tax break, and I don’t know anyone else who did. No, everybody’s socking their money away,” he said. “I was against those tax cuts. I thought they were ridiculous. So little is asked of the upper class anyway. I mean, what percent of them or their kids are fighting in any of these wars? What percent of their day is occupied by the fact that there are men and women in positions over the world, risking their lives. If you walk down 5th Avenue, there’s no sense of shared sacrifice.”

Damon has long been vocal politically; he campaigned with then-Senator Obama in 2008, though earlier this year he hit out at the President on education and economic policy.

“I really think he misinterpreted his mandate. A friend of mine said to me the other day, I thought it was a great line, ‘I no longer hope for audacity,'” Damon told Piers Morgan in March. “He’s doubled down on a lot of things, going back to education… the idea that we’re testing kids and we’re tying teachers salaries to how kids are performing on tests, that kind of mechanized thinking has nothing to do with higher order. We’re training them, not teaching them.”

And on economics, he told the UK’s Independent, “I think he’s rolled over to Wall Street completely. The economy has huge problems. We still have all these banks that are too big to fail. They’re bigger and making more money than ever.”

How can you not love the man who wrote these scenes for “Good Will Hunting”?

Virtually Speaking

Thursday, Aug 4 |
8 pm eastern |
5 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking A-Z | Stuart Zechman and Jay Ackroyd| This week in liberalism: a continuing conversation.

9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd | CW Anderson – Ethnographer and Assistant Professor of Media Culture at CUNY, Anderson’s studies concern changes within local journalistic ecosystems and their bearing on questions of media policy in the digital age.  In addition to his own blog, he writes at http://www.niemanlab.org/.

Sunday Aug 7

9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking Sundays

Digby & Avedon Carol

Pelosi: My members will protect benefits

Talking Points Memo:

The debt limit fight is over, but the fight over entitlement programs will continue for months. In the weeks ahead, the leaders of both parties in both the House and Senate will name three members each to a new committee tasked with reducing the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.

The ultimate makeup of that committee is key. It will determine whether this Congress will pass further fiscal legislation, and, thus, what the major themes of the 2012 election will be.

At a pre-recess press conference Tuesday afternoon, TPM asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) whether the people she appoints to the committee will make the same stand she made during the debt limit fight — that entitlement benefits — as opposed to provider payments, waste and other Medicare spending — should be off limits.

In short, yes.

“That is a priority for us,” Pelosi said. “But let me say it is more than a priority – it is a value… it’s an ethic for the American people. It is one that all of the members of our caucus share. So that I know that whoever’s at that table will be someone who will fight to protect those benefits.”
Continue Reading »

Things are bad

When even the NY Times knows it’s a shitty deal.

More fun with the FDA

I feel incredibly reassured to know that this process will be as untainted by bias, political influence and payoffs as the rest of their decisions:

A coalition of nearly 30 organizations in the animal agriculture industry sent a letter to the heads of the House and Senate on Tuesday, asking lawmakers not to intervene as the Food and Drug Administration considers whether to approve genetically engineered salmon as food.

The letter comes more than a month after the House approved an amendment, by voice acclamation, to an appropriations bill that would strip the FDA of funding to study the salmon. On July 15, members of the House and Senate sent letters to the FDA asking it to abandon its consideration of modified salmon as food, and threatened to propose legislation to bar further study of the fish if the agency does not comply.

Calling themselves the “Animal Agriculture Coalition,” the industry groups did not take a side in the debate over genetically modified food, but instead implored Congress to respect the principle of science-based regulation.

In the letter, the organizations wrote to Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as well as House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), that the House legislation “would disrupt the FDA’s congressional mandate to base its assessments of human and animal drugs, devices, vaccines, and process applications on the best-available science underlying an application. Such a disruption would diminish the credibility of the FDA approval process at home and overseas. The global reputation of FDA’s science-based review procedure is based on the Agency’s objectivity.”

God I heart Matt Damon

He is my hero for this:

A reporter from libertarian rag Reason interviewed notorious Massachusetts liberal actor Matt Damon at this year’s Save Our Schools March and she tried to throw some business at him about teacher tenure and Ayn Randy incentive stuff and he wasn’t having it.

Watch as Damon, a multi, multi-millionaire, somehow comes across as in-touch with the needs of the working teacher. Observe with delight as not only is the reporter shamed, but so too is the cameraman! Behold Damon’s glorious bald head and adorable mom! It’s a fun video, is what I’m saying. [via Slog]

Of course, the main difference is, Obama wanted the showdown to rationalize his much-desired Grand Bargain on Social Security and Medicare! Jonathan Chait:

If you haven’t already read Kara Brandeisky’s story about how the Clinton administration handled the debt ceiling in 1995, you should definitely do it. As she notes, the circumstances were different in 1995. Republicans were somewhat less fixated on the debt ceiling, and also somewhat less destructive and crazy. But they weren’t that much less destructive and crazy:

“Nobody should assume we’re going to have a debt-limit extension,” John Boehner warned. “If the vote were held today, it would not pass.” Sound familiar? This was Boehner in November of 1995, when he was the House Republican Conference chairman and his party was refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless President Bill Clinton agreed to a package of sweeping spending cuts.

The biggest single difference is that the Clinton administration simply refused on principle to get jacked up on the debt ceiling:

Still, even though Clinton enjoyed political and economic advantages that Obama does not, his no-compromises strategy had some clear advantages. Unlike Obama, he refused to let the threat of default set the national agenda. Because he would not enter into negotiations over the debt ceiling, the issue barely roused the public consciousness. On November 9, 1995, a senior administration official told the Washington Post, “Our position is it does not matter what they put on this legislation, we are not going to accept anything but clean bills because we will not be blackmailed over default. Get it? No extortion. No blackmail. What you hear are their screams of complaint as they realize we are not, not, not budging on this.”

Kind of hard to imagine somebody from this administration talking like that.


Want to be the liberal version of right-wing media “journalists”? Have fun and influence people?

On Virtually Speaking Susie tonight, my guest is the amazing Spocko, the man who organized campaigns that brought down several right-wing radio hosts. Learn how to do it yourself! Tune in at 9pm EST.

Please call in with your questions and comments to 646-200-3440.

The Clean Air Promise

As someone who’s suffered from allergies all my life (I also had what they call “cough variant asthma”), I sometimes have to struggle to breathe — not as much as I used to, but it’s still there. And one of my kids suffered from childhood asthma, although he’s since outgrown it.

Gasping for breath scares the hell out of me, so to me, clean air is a very serious issue. And that’s why I was hoping, when NJ Gov. Chris Christie was taken to the hospital last week with an asthma attack, that he would rethink refusing to sign onto the regional emissions control pact with other area states. (Since I live a stone’s throw across the river from New Jersey and all.)

I see that Environment New Jersey also took note of Christie’s hospitalization. Doug O’Malley, their field director, released this statement:

We offer our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Governor Christie. An asthma attack can be a life-threatening event and that is a fact of life for over 163,000 New Jersey children who live with this chronic disease. We hope that the Governor will be sympathetic to the concerns of those children when it comes to measures to protect our kids from dangerous air pollution.

We encourage Governor Christie to support the Clean Air Promise launched by the League of Women Voters this week and to promise that he will protect our kids from dangerous air pollution. The new LWV campaign ad and Promise can be found at http://www.peoplenotpolluters.org/

Everybody knows at least one person who has trouble breathing in polluted air. For them and everybody else, go sign that petition!

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