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Hello

A late summer mishmash to follow.

ETA: Stimulus new report.

ETA 2: Rachel's piece about Credit Card Reform.

Politico published a story yesterday, centered around Democarts' complains that president Obama doesn't take a stand, and they urge him to, well, take a stand. Same Dems, from the entire spectrum of the big tent - who begged him not to touch health care reform last year, and left him to do it almost by himself (people should read 'The Promise', they'll realize how truly ridiculous the "Obama is not a fighter" memo is). Same Dems who now see the first black president being shred to pieces by a malignant, racist right wing hate machine, and none of them is having his back. Same Dems - from Harry Reid to Howard Dean - who can't even find the guts to stand by the First Amendment - they run whining to Politico of all places, in demand that the president will "take a stand".

While none of this surprise me anymore, it was still very good to read Joe Klein's response to this nonsense:
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The lead item on Politico--titled "Dems Urge Obama to Take a Stand"--is almost surrealistic. Take a stand? The guy passed health care, a stimulus bill that helped avoid a Depression, a groundbreaking financial reform bill that is too complicated to be popularly described, a bailout that enabled General Motors and Chrysler to survive. He nominated two estimable women to the Supreme Court. He restored America's image in the world. I can go on... But Dems are distressed? He's not populist or ideological enough? Oh please. There are several ways to go about the presidency. Ronald Reagan chose one way: he said one thing and did another. ...Barack Obama has chosen another way.

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He has pretty much done what he said he'd do. His achievements are historic. But he hasn't wrapped them up in an ideological bumper sticker--or provided some neat way for the public to understand it, or pretended to be a yeoman simpleton, noshing on pork rinds, clearing brush and excoriating the business community. That is a real political problem. He delivered a stealth tax cut to 95% of the American people; I've never seen a politician cut taxes and not take sufficient credit for it before. He made it impossible for Americans to be denied health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions or chronic problems; somehow this has gotten lost in the "socialist" shuffle as well.  He ended major combat operations in Iraq, on time and without much fuss--without using the word "victory" or denying the continuing problems involved in cobbling together a coherent government there. Another President might have hyped this "achievement" relentlessly.

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Sure, it would be nice if the White House were Reagan-savvy (that is, Michael Deaver-savvy) about public relations. But Democrats should not delude themselves by thinking that ideological purity, or a phony populism foreign to the President's character, is the answer. At a moment as complicated and unnerving as this, there are no easy answers.  At a moment as complicated and unnerving as this, it isn't hard to imagine a failed presidency--although, of course, it would be foolishly premature to do so. But it is not possible, at this point, to imagine a dishonorable Obama presidency; he has faced the national crisis in a manner that may be politically flawed, but he has not run from, or fudged or demagogued, the problems. He has done pretty much what he said he was going to do when he ran for office. That is something Democrats should be able to live with, proudly.

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Amen, brother. Amen.
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Stimulus boosted GDP by up to 4.5 percent in 2Q 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The massive stimulus package boosted real GDP by up to 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2010 and put up to 3.3 million people to work, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.
CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expect that revised numbers due out on Friday will show that the economy grew at an anemic 1.4 percent pace during that time period -- less than the boost of at least 1.7 percent that the stimulus provided, according the CBO estimate.

The stimulus package, passed in March 2009 in the midst of the deepest recession since the 1930s, raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs during that time period, CBO estimated.

CBO said the package, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, would cost $814 billion, down from its previous estimate of $862 billion.

With both the House of Representatives and the Senate up for grabs in November, Democrats hope voters will give them credit for breathing some life into the economy. Republicans, who almost universally opposed the stimulus, have criticized it as wasteful and ineffective.

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Man, this must have a been a truly painful article for The Economist to publish....
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The Economist: An apology is due to Barack Obama

"Many people thought this bailout (and a smaller one involving Chrysler, an even sicker firm) unwise. Lovers of free markets (including The Economist) feared that Mr Obama might use GM as a political tool: perhaps favouring the unions who donate to Democrats or forcing the firm to build smaller, greener cars than consumers want to buy. ... Yet the doomsayers were wrong..."

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VP Biden wasn't going to just let this apology go without notice:
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CNN: U.S troops in Iraq fall below 50,000

The number of U.S. troops in Iraq has fallen below 50,000 -- the lowest level since the U.S-led invasion in 2003, the military said Wednesday.

The drop comes ahead of President Barack Obama's deadline to bring down troop levels by August 31.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden said that the overall level of violence in Iraq has now declined to the point that some early U.S. veterans of the conflict "would not recognize" the country today.

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Obama is planning a speech on the situation in Iraq after he returns to Washington from vacation on August 29, a senior administration source said Sunday.

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BBC: US troops in Iraq 'below 50,000' ahead of August target

After taking office last year, US President Barack Obama set the August deadline to cut numbers below 50,000.

Last week, the last US combat brigade left the country, seven years after the US-led invasion began.

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"Today, in line with President Obama's direction and as part of the responsible drawdown of forces, US military force levels in Iraq are below 50,000," the US military said in a statement

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Washington Post: Last phase of credit card reform law in place, taking aim at penalty fees

The sweeping reform of the credit card industry was finally completed Sunday as the last pieces of the landmark federal law designed to stop unfair or deceptive practices took effect.

The final phase restricts how much card issuers can charge in penalty fees compared with the amount of the violation. For example, if you are late paying a credit card bill with a $10 minimum payment, the penalty charge cannot be more than $10. In addition, new rules governing gift cards also took effect Sunday that require them to be honored for at least five years and allow only one fee per month.

A study by study by Pew Charitable Trusts showed that the largest card issuers have complied with the new regulations. Nick Bourke, who led the research, said that the changes have made credit cards safer to use.

"In the long run, I think what we're going to see is the market become more transparent and pricing become more predictable for consumers," he said.

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President Obama's statement on the CARD act implementation:

Last year, I signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act into law to put a stop to deceptive credit card practices and hold credit card companies accountable to their customers. Yesterday, the final reform provisions of the CARD Act took effect. As of today, consumers will be protected against unreasonable fees and penalties for late payments, as well as unfair practices involving gift cards. This law will also make the terms of credit cards more understandable and puts a stop to hidden over-the-limit fees and other practices designed to trap consumers. It restricts rate increases that apply retroactively to old balances. And the CARD Act prevents companies from increasing rates within the first year an account is opened.

In addition, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act I signed into law last month will empower a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with just one job: looking out for consumers in our financial system. This includes making sure that credit card reforms are implemented forcefully and that big banks and lenders are living up to their responsibilities under the law. And in the wake of a terrible recession, these reforms and this independent consumer watchdog will not only protect consumers, they’ll strengthen our economy as a whole, leveling the playing field for responsible lenders and ensuring that families and small business owners are better able to make financial decisions that work for them.

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From the WH blog:

31,000 Low-Income Homes Weatherized in June

....Last week, we announced that during the month of June, more than 31,000 low-income homes nationwide underwent retrofits to use less energy. This month represents the largest number of homes ever upgraded – or "weatherized" – in a single month. Through the Recovery Act, more than 80,000 homes will be weatherized across the country this summer. By March 2012, that total will grow to nearly 600,000 homes – each with upgrades like better furnaces, insulation, and caulking. They will use less energy, perform better, and save homeowners money.

These energy-efficient upgrades are important to the thousands of Americans who are paying less for utilities, and they are also important to the 13,000 American workers whose jobs are supported by our weatherization program.

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Mmmmm, yea.
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And, yea.
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So, how about some of these?
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Online voter registration websites:

Rock The Vote: http://www.rockthevote.com/...

Raise Your Vote: https://www.raiseyourvote.com/

League of Women Voters : https://electionimpact3.votenet.com/...

Democrats Abroad: http://www.democratsabroad.org/

—————

The Federal Voting Assistance Program – http://www.fvap.gov

The Election Assistance Commission – http://www.eac.gov/...

The U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section – http://www.justice.gov/...

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Volunteer

Contact your nearby DNC office to: http://www.democrats.org/...

Network
Find & Network with other Democrats in your area:
http://my.democrats.org/...

Find or Create an Event
http://my.democrats.org/...

Write Letters to Congress
http://my.democrats.org/...

Write Letters to Newspaper Editors
http://my.democrats.org/...

Donations

The DNC: https://my.democrats.org/...

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee: https://secure.dlccweb.com/...

The DSCC: https://dscc.org/...

The DCCC: https://dccc.org/...

The Democratic Governor’s Association: https://secure.democraticgovernors.o...

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Spare yourself the comments section under this item, really.
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Barack Obama Elementary Opens in Maryland

The first school in the D.C. area named after the current president opens Monday morning as the school year begins in Prince George's County.

Barack Obama Elementary School opens its doors in Upper Marlboro, Md., for the first time Monday. The school is being touted as being an environmentally friendly "green" school. There have been other schools named after President Obama in the country, but this will be a first in his own backyard in the D.C. region.

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And, the first family is on a very low key vacation at Martha's Vineyard:
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Oooops, Major Garrett, please step into Rupert Murdoch's office...
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Obama book reading hints at continued opposition to Iraq war

President Barack Obama has picked up three weighty novels as his holiday reading - one is sharply critical of the Iraq war and two books that reflect on relationships between a father and his family.

Those wishing to psychoanalyse Mr Obama will have plenty of material from his choices of "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, "Tinkers" by Paul Harding and "A Few Corrections" by Brad Leithauser, all of which he picked up in Martha's Vineyard.

Franzen's new book, "Freedom" which coincides with his being hailed on the cover of "Time" magazine as the "Great American Novelist" has already been described by the "New York Times" as a "masterpiece of American fiction". In it, Franzen makes plain his disdain for President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the Iraq, referring to "the Bush-Cheney venture in Iraq" and the sinister role of Halliburton, Mr Cheney's old company, "whose former C.E.O. was now running the nation".

Mr Obama will be reading the 562-page novel as the last combat troops leave Iraq following a conflict that he was opposed to from the start, in contrast to his main Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Harding's "Tinkers", which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is centred around an old man, bedridden and dying, who hallucinates and returns to his impoverished childhood to join his long-dead father.

Leithauser's "A Few Corrections", published in 2001, begins with the obituary of a travelling salesman who had led an apparently respectable life. Gradually, however, his son uncovers evidence of the man's rampant womanising and neglect of his family.

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All these by AP:
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Finally, new Pete Souza awesomeness.
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Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Sasha's hole-in-one at Pirate's Island Golf in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 14.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Members of the U.S. Coast Guard at the U.S. Coast Guard Panama City District Office, Panama City, Fla, Saturday, Aug. 14.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Military Aide Lt. Col. Dave Kalinske and his family in the Oval Office, during Kalinske’s departure ceremony, Aug. 13.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Audience  at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, Aug. 9.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us President Obama jokingly puts his toe on the scale as Trip Director Marvin Nicholson, unaware to the President’s action, weighs himself as the presidential entourage passed through the volleyball locker room at the University of Texas in Austin, Aug. 9.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us The hallway of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House after, Aug. 3.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan's confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6.
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Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us The president autographs a banner following his remarks on the economy at Gelberg Signs in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6.
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Originally posted to blackwaterdog on Tue Aug 24, 2010 at 01:25 PM PDT.

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