A couple of segments from Bill Maher's appearance on Larry King Live, Feb. 12, 2009.
In this second segment, someone tell me what the hell is up with Maher not supporting funding for the National Endowment for the Arts? Are you kidding me? You'd think he'd be the last person saying something like this. Maher always manages to give me a reason to laugh and cheer, and then in the next breath disappoint or vice versa as he did here.
David Shuster talks to Mark Benjamin about his series at Salon, Coming Home.
"Coming Home" is a weeklong investigative series on preventable deaths at Fort Carson, a U.S. Army post in Colorado, among troops who have returned from combat tours in Iraq.
Salon national correspondent Mark Benjamin and Colorado-based journalist Michael de Yoanna reviewed more than two dozen incidents of suicide, suicide attempts, prescription drug overdoses and murder involving Fort Carson troops and examined 10 of those cases painstakingly. They interviewed troops, their families and survivors of suicide attempts, studied thousands of pages of medical and Army records and conducted a prison interview with a soldier convicted of being an accessory to the murder of one of his comrades. They learned that much of the violence could have been avoided if the Army did a better job of recognizing and treating the symptoms of PTSD.
After listening to a report on a ruling by the a three judge panel that CA may have to reduce their prison population by as much as one third, Lou Dobbs throws this bomb out there:
ROWLANDS: And, Lou, this tentative ruling says one way to release this amount of prisoners would be to completely overhaul the parole system. Instead of bringing parole violators back into prison, to figure out some other way to do it. They say the savings could be hundreds of millions of dollars. So you can create a way to handle that. The state is very firm, saying this is a potential public safety issue. We're not letting anybody out unless the U.S. Supreme Court tell us to.
DOBBS: Well, which court is it, Ted? Because first of all, on its face this is outrageous legislation from the bench, whether it be the appellate court or whatever.
ROWLANDS: Well, this has been simmering to the court's defense, this is in response to a case that was filed in 1995. And there have been many decisions against the state throughout this period that haven't been addressed. This is a three-judge panel, a federal judge panel, this is a tentative ruling.
DOBBS: Of the Ninth Circuit?
ROWLANDS: One member of the Ninth Circuit is on this panel, as you might imagine. But this is a tentative ...
DOBBS: By the way, so everyone knows what we're reacting to. The Ninth Circuit is the most reversed appellate court in the United States judicial system, the most liberal, and frankly, they do address each other as comrade in the Ninth Circuit, I believe.
Barney Frank visited the set of the Rachel Maddow Show to talk about the TARP hearings and at the end of the interview he said something that was music to my ears.
Maddow: Should they be constrained from doing those things by rules rather than just being shamed for when they don't do it?
Frank: There's no question about it for the future. Look there's a problem in the American system and we as liberals should be honoring this. The principle that you don't go back and do things retroactively is a very important liberal principle so some of the things that the Bush administration let them do we can then undo. We can prevent them from going forward and this I can guarantee you.
We will very soon be adopting a set of regulations. We're going to be doing essentially now what Franklin Roosevelt had to do in the New Deal, what Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had to do around the turn of the last century. There is a whole lot of new financial activity that's going on and it's caused some damage and done some good, but it's gone on without rules and the one thing I am most confident about is we know how to stop this from happening again. Banning the bad subprime loans. Restricting the excessive kinds of leverage they've had.
Yeah, this is a very high priority for us and I think by the summer we're going to have a set of rules in place. It's going to be comparable I think to what FDR did with the New Deal, with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other rules. We will not depend on their good will. We will put some tough rules in place.
All I can say is I hope he means it, and that he follows through on what he said tonight. I don't know much about economics. It frankly bored me and was just never something I took an interest in. But I'm not a stupid person and I know after watching the 60 Minutes segment A Look at Wall Street's Shadow Market that if we didn't do something to regulate Wall Street that nothing was going to improve in our economy because there would be no trust of our current system.
I make that assumption because I don't trust it now and I'm probably like a lot of other people out there who thought they were spreading their risks in their 401(K)s, if you were lucky enough to have one, and watched it tank by close to forty percent over the last year. For anyone close to retirement age like a lot of my co-workers, those sort of losses are just devastating. You think you're doing the right thing and trying to prepare for retirement and poof, years and years of savings just vanished in a matter of a few weeks or sometimes a few days. I watched friends walking around in what was close to a state of shock when the market crashed.
So I welcome Barney Frank's talk of regulating these markets. I think it's overdue, and this summer could not come fast enough if that's when they try to get it through. For contrast, here's your standard talking head on the "news" saying 'thank goodness Tim Geithner didn't come out with any crazy talk about regulating this mess'. Yeah, that's the ticket, Joe Johns. Forget any regulation that might stop these industries from continuing to cook their books and leverage themselves in a way that would put a regulated insurance company out of business.
Lindsey Graham on The Situation Room saying he's sorry he could not work with President Obama on the stimulus bill. Sure you are Lindsey. Not sorry enough apparently to say that South Carolina should not take some of the stimulus money.
Blitzer: Doesn't South Carolina need some help?
Graham: Yes but there's only one tax payer. This is not money we found under a tree in Washington. The money we're sending back to the states came out of the same wallet that the money going to the states came from. So yes, South Carolina needs help. I'm all for infrastructure spending. But it's got to be shovel ready. I'm for helping people sign up for Medicaid. There's ninety billion dollars in this bill. All you need to get people eligible for Medicaid in terms of new enrollees is eleven billion. I'm not for a seventy five billion dollar slush fund for states that can be spent on anything they want to spend it on including budget problems because we've got our own budget problems and you're rewarding states that have done very little to clean up their own budgets and punish states who have done things at home.
Blitzer: South Carolina will get money out of this bill. Should South Carolina take the money?
Graham: I think, yes. From my point of view, you don't want to be crazy here. I mean if there's gonna' be money on the table that will help my state, but I've got a job to do up here and that is try to help people and not damn the next generation.
He goes on to say how big the hole is we've got to crawl out of that our "gubment" has created and how ooohh sooo sorry he is that he hasn't been able to work with President Obama on the stimulus bill, but here's this big list of things he does want to work with him on because he really does have President Obama's best interest at heart. Can't you just feel the love? Yeah. You're sorry alright Senator. Where was the concern over that hole you've been cheerleading that is a bottomless money pit called Iraq?
Getting the stimulus bill passed is one thing, but before we break out the champagne we might want to see if it works. And nobody is offering a guarantee on that. In fact, there are folks out there who are suggesting that if the economy doesn’t show some signs of life pretty soon, the American public might begin to sour on the euphoria surrounding the man from Illinois.
For example, here’s a headline: “Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?” That’s a rather startling question posed in the Financial Times by columnist Martin Wolf. He writes how in normal times, this would be a ludicrous statement. But because we’re living in times of “great danger”, it’s worth taking a look.
He says that right now a lot of the blame is still being heaped on the previous administration. But if the Obama administration doesn’t act swiftly and strongly enough, it will inherit the blame. He says “doing too little is now far riskier than doing too much” and suggests that if the president can’t fix the economic meltdown, the rest of his presidency is pretty much over.
According to Wolf’s column, both the stimulus package and Tim Geithner’s banking plan seem to be hoping for the best, when what they really need to do is expect the worst. Wolf says he’s surprised that the new president let Congress pretty much write the stimulus package, and he sees the new banking proposal as too indecisive and optimistic.
Meanwhile, a CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll out this week shows an American public looking very favorably on the new president, with an approval rating of 76%. That includes a whopping 97% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans.
But people aren’t nearly as fond of the president’s stimulus package, with only 54% supporting the Senate bill. If more and more Americans continue to lose their jobs, it’s unclear how long Mr. Obama can keep those numbers up.
Here’s my question to you: If the economy doesn’t start to improve, how long does President Obama have before the public turns on him?
Apparently many of the commenters at his blog felt the same way I did about the question.