Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama's Op-Ed To The World!!!

A time for global action

By Barack Obama

March 24, 2009

When the heads of state of the G-20 countries gathered in Washington in November to address the world financial crisis, little was accomplished, as the delegates were awaiting then-President-elect Barack Obama's leadership.

Shortly after Obama took office, Nathan Gardels, the editor of the Global Viewpoint service of Tribune Media Services, approached White House press secretary Robert Gibbs with an idea:

If the president wanted to speak directly to people in advance of the April G-20 summit in London, he could do so through writing an "op-ed to the world." Global Viewpoint has 35 million readers in 15 languages through many of the world's top papers, from Le Monde in Paris to Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan to O Estado de Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The article was completed Sunday afternoon in Washington and then syndicated around the world on Monday for Tuesday publication. Today the article appears in papers ranging the Tribune to Corriere della Sera in Italy to the Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat to the International Herald Tribune.

We are living through a time of global economic challenges that cannot be met by half measures or the isolated efforts of any nation. Now, the leaders of the G-20 have a responsibility to take bold, comprehensive and coordinated action that not only jump-starts recovery, but launches a new era of economic engagement to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again.

No one can deny the urgency of action. A crisis in credit and confidence has swept across borders, with consequences for every corner of the world. We have learned that the success of the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, markets dry up—already we've seen the biggest drop in American exports in nearly four decades, which has led directly to American job losses. And if we continue to let financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, we will remain trapped in a cycle of bubble and bust. That is why the upcoming London Summit is directly relevant to our recovery at home.

My message is clear: The United States is ready to lead, and we call upon our partners to join us with a sense of urgency and common purpose. Our leadership is grounded in a simple premise: We will lift the American economy out of crisis and reform our regulatory structure, and these actions will be strengthened by complementary action abroad. Through example, the United States can promote a global recovery and build confidence around the world; and if the London Summit helps galvanize collective action, we can forge a secure recovery, and future crises can be averted.

Our efforts must begin with swift action to stimulate growth. The U.S. has passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the most dramatic effort to jump-start job creation and lay a foundation for growth in a generation. Other G-20 members have pursued fiscal stimulus as well, and these efforts should be sustained until demand is restored. We should embrace a collective commitment to encourage open trade and investment, while resisting the protectionism that would deepen this crisis.

We must restore the credit that businesses and consumers depend upon. We are working aggressively to stabilize our financial system. This includes an honest assessment of the balance sheets of major banks, and will lead directly to lending that can help Americans purchase goods, stay in their homes and grow businesses. This must continue to be amplified by the actions of our G-20 partners. Together, we can embrace a common framework that insists on transparency, accountability and restoring the flow of credit that is the lifeblood of a growing global economy. And the G-20, together with multilateral institutions, can provide trade finance to help lift up exports and create jobs.

Third, we have an economic, security and moral obligation to extend a hand to countries and people who face the greatest risk. If we turn our backs on them, the suffering caused by this crisis will be enlarged, and our recovery will be delayed because markets for our goods will shrink further and more American jobs will be lost. The G-20 should quickly deploy resources to stabilize emerging markets, substantially boost the emergency capacity of the International Monetary Fund and help regional development banks accelerate lending. Meanwhile, America will support meaningful investments in food security that can help the poorest.

While these actions can help get us out of crisis, we cannot settle for a return to the status quo. We must put an end to the reckless speculation and spending beyond our means, and to the bad credit, overleveraged banks and absence of oversight that condemns us to bubbles that inevitably bust. Only coordinated international action can prevent the irresponsible risk-taking that caused this crisis.

All of our financial institutions—on Wall Street and around the globe—need strong oversight and common sense rules of the road. All markets should have standards for stability and a mechanism for disclosure. A strong framework of capital requirements should protect against future crises. We must crack down on offshore tax havens and money laundering. Rigorous transparency and accountability must check abuse, and the days of out-of-control compensation must end. Instead of patchwork efforts that enable a race to the bottom, we must provide the clear incentives for good behavior that foster a race to the top.

I know that America bears our share of responsibility for the mess that we all face.

But I also know that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people. This G-20 meeting provides a forum for a new kind of global economic cooperation.

The nations of the world have a stake in one another, and the United States is ready to join a global effort on behalf of new jobs and sustainable growth.

Global Viewpoint/ Tribune Media Services

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Iraq War Six Years Old!!!

This is from today's Progress Report ... you just know that Dubya is sitting down in Texas with that smirk on his face, beer in hand, drawing a huge presidential pension, and not even thinking about all the lives that have been lost since he lied us into the war with Iraq:

Six Years Of War In Iraq

Six years to the day have passed since President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, a preventative war of choice based on "intelligence fixed around the policy." The purpose, according to Bush, was "to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger." Yet of course, there were no weapons to disarm and no "grave danger" to defend against. The war has spawned more terrorists and created deeply rooted resentment of the United States. Even including the billions of dollars Congress has authorized to bail out the nation's troubled financial institutions, this unnecessary war will most likely turn out to be "the largest spending bill in history," as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) called it. Billions have been lost in waste, fraud, and abuse. Private contractors who have raked in billions from the war have established solid records of endangering the lives of Americans and Iraqis in the country. More importantly, al Qaeda -- the main threat to the U.S. when the war was launched -- "has organized to pre-9/11 strength" because Bush turned his back on Afghanistan, a war in which the U.S. and its allies are not currently winning. However, the war in Iraq may be starting to draw to a close. Late last year, the Bush administration negotiated a security agreement -- or "withdrawal accord" -- with the Iraqi government, mandating that all U.S. troops exit the country by 2011. Last month, President Obama announced his own plan to speed up that process, ordering two-thirds of U.S. forces to redeploy by Aug. 31, 2010. The Progress Report has rounded up the significant developments surrounding the Iraq war over the last year -- some good, some bad, and others ugly.

-- Violence in Iraq is down to its lowest level since August 2003.
-- A new ABC/BBC/NHK poll suggests that Iraqi civilians are "more upbeat about the future," and for the first time since March 19, 2003, violence and insecurity "are no longer the main concern of most Iraqis."
-- U.S. combat deaths are at their lowest level since the initial invasion.
-- Iraqi leaders and U.S. troops have offered praise of Obama's plan to speed up the American withdrawal from Iraq.
-- Iraqi civilian casualties have been steadily dropping since 2007, and despite a slight uptick in February, January 2009 "set a record for the lowest number of Iraqi civilians killed" since the war began.

-- Through last Tuesday, 4,260 U.S. servicemen and women and hundreds more from coalition countries have been killed in Iraq since the war began. Tens of thousands have been physically and mentally wounded. In fact, suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans "may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care."
-- According to Iraq Body Count, nearly 100,000 (maybe more) Iraqi civilians have lost their lives because of the war. Nearly 5 million Iraqis have either been internally displaced or left the country.
-- A U.N. report released last month found that more than 25 percent of Iraq's young men are out of work, "a situation that is likely to worsen and threatens the country's long-term stability. ... Overall, the country's unemployment rate is 18%, but an additional 10% of the labor force is employed part time and wanting to work more."
-- A study released last month found that "Iraq accounts for 1,067 suicide attacks" anywhere since 1981, "a number that accounts for more than half (54.8%) of all suicide attacks" since that time.
-- The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate as precious American and allied resources are still being used in Iraq.

-- Being an architect of the war means never having to say you're sorry. Bush blames others for having to launch the war. Vice President Cheney is convinced the life and treasure lost to fight the Iraq war was worth it. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice actually said she is "so proud" the U.S. invaded Iraq. And major war architect Richard Perle now denies the existence of neoconservatism, the ideological basis for the invasion.
-- Despite zero evidence, Bush administration officials are still trying to link Saddam to al Qaeda. -- The British government released internal memos and e-mails last week that provide further evidence that the government dossier former UK prime minister Tony Blair used as the basis for which to justify the country's involvement in the invasion was indeed "sexed up" with unsupported claims of an imminent threat from Iraq.
-- Last July, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a resolution praising the success of the "surge" of U.S. forces into Iraq "against enemies who attacked America on 9/11." Rep. Steve King (R-IA) recently introduced a "Victory in Iraq" resolution (despite the fact that Gen. David Petraeus refuses to use the term) "chronicling the success of the troop surge in Iraq and warning the new Commander-in-Chief that if he changes strategy, he takes ownership of whatever happens on his watch."
-- The war has engendered so much hostility that during Bush's last press conference in Iraq, Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at the President in an attempt to avenge the humiliation Bush levied on the Iraqi people. "This is a farewell kiss, you dog," al-Zaidi said.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


This is from today's Progress Report ... WELL DONE, Mr. President!!!:

ENVIRONMENT -- OBAMA REVERSES BUSH RULES ON ENDANGERED SPECIES: In one of his administration's last-minute regulation changes, President Bush last December "eliminated 35-year-old regulations in the Endangered Species Act that required an independent scientific review of proposed federal projects to determine whether they imperil protected plants and animals." Yesterday, President Obama vowed to reverse that ruling, in a visit to the Interior Department to mark its 150th anniversary where he signed a memo requiring agencies to seek scientific advice and input before implementing changes that might affect endangered species. "In brief remarks, the president said he had signed the memorandum to 'help restore the scientific process to its rightful place' in the working of the Endangered Species Act. 'We should be looking for ways to improve it, not weaken it,' Mr. Obama said of the act." The New York Times notes that Obama's announcement "drew loud applause." "This is very good news for endangered species," said Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The regulations that President Bush issued were clearly illegal, and they were bad policy to boot."