Archive for February 21st, 2009

While there have been some disappointments, there’s no denying that Barack Obama has accomplished an amazing amount in his first thirty days in office. Considering the absolute clusterf&%k he inherited from his predecessor and how many roadblocks and petty games have been placed in his way, let’s give the man some props for getting the job done.

Rachel Maddow lists Obama’s presidential accomplishments:

Announced strict new rules for lobbyists
Paycaps for WH staff

Hillary Clinton confirmed Secretary of State
Signed an Executive Order closing Gitmo and secret CIA prisons overseas
Named George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke Special Envoys to Middle East
Made first agency visit to the State Dept, symbolically reviving diplomacy
Appeared on Arab TV network,
Signed Lily Ledbetter Act,
Eric Holder confirmed;
Signed S-ChIP legislation;
Canceled 77 land leases around Arches National Park;
Signed the Stimulus Bill;
Announced his home foreclosure prevention plan;
Took first foreign trip to Canada;
Banned budget gimmicks, like emergency funding for Iraq;
Met with mayors;
Signed Executive Order for Office of Gulf Coast Recovery.

Perhaps not everything we wanted, but a big list nonetheless. Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland, speaks with Rachel on just how quickly Obama is fighting the inertia of Washington.

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(h/t Heather for both videos)

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Love And Rockets- So Alive

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Obama: Tax Cuts Will Be Felt By April 1 (VIDEO)

AP |  LIZ SIDOTI   |   February 21, 2009 08:26 AM

WASHINGTON — The notoriously slow Congress passed the $787 billion economic stimulus package in a matter of weeks. President Barack Obama signed it into law less than one month into his presidency.

So, just how soon will Americans start reaping the benefits of tax cuts in it?

By April 1, according to the president.

“Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.

He said the Treasury Department has begun directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from people’s paychecks in accordance with the new law, and that in six weeks, a typical family will start taking home at least $65 more every month.

Obama says his signature “Making Work Pay” tax break will affect 95 percent of working families.

The $400 credit for individuals is to be doled out through the rest of the year. Couples are slated to get up to $800. Most workers are to see about a $13 per week increase in their take-home pay. In 2010, the credit would be about $7.70 a week, if it is spread over the entire year.


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Paul Johnson | Spectator | Saturday 21st February, 2009


During the Arctic weather I re-read that finest of winter pastorals, ‘Snowbound’ by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92). It gripped me, as it always does, by its combination of intense realism about the present and its imaginative sympathy for the past. Whittier describes heavy snow sealing off a household in the early 19th century, about the time Wordsworth first moved to Rydal Mount. He uses the situation to bring back to life the faces and characters of all his family and friends, now dead, who once sat around the blazing log fire in the snowbound wooden house. It is a powerful work, by no means short — around 770 lines — and many would rank it the most perfect poem ever produced by an American.

Oddly enough, in all the tributes recently paid to Robert Burns, on the 200th anniversary of his death, none I saw mentioned his influence in the emerging literature of America, which was profound. Whittier, in particular, was his grateful follower, in his strong attachment to rural life and patterns of thought, his rough, uncomplicated emotions and his decent simplicity. Whittier was very much a committed poet, devoting much of his life to anti-slavery campaigning, sitting in the Massachusetts legislature, editing newspapers and founding the Liberty party. I like editor-poets. When the head-printer tells them there is a ‘hole’ in the editorial copy, they can write a poem to fill it, as Kipling was to do, regularly, a few decades later in the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette. Not that I particularly like Whittier’s political verse, except of course ‘Ichabod’, his denunciation of Daniel Webster’s decision to support the 1850 compromise on slavery:

Revile him not, the Tempter hath

A snare for all;

And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,

Befit his fall!

This poem is almost the exact American equivalent of Browning’s attack on Wordsworth, ‘The Lost Leader’, and probably just as unfair. I prefer Whittier on snowscapes. (more…)

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