Saturday, March 14, 2009

President Obama's Weekly Web Address


Office of the Press Secretary

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Barack Obama Announces Key FDA Appointments and Tougher Food Safety Measures

WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Barack Obama announced the appointments of Dr. Margaret Hamburg as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as the Principal Deputy Commissioner, as well as the creation of a new Food Safety Working Group. This Food Safety Working Group will be chaired by the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture and it will coordinate with other agencies and senior officials to advise the President on improving coordination throughout the government, examining and upgrading food safety laws, and enforcing laws that will keep the American people safe.

In addition, the President also announced two other measures to protect the American people. The Department of Agriculture will close a loophole to prevent diseased cows from entering the food supply. And, the government will invest in the FDA to substantially increase the number of food inspectors and modernize food safety labs.

President Obama announced his appointments of the following individuals today:

Margaret "Peggy" Hamburg
Dr. Hamburg is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in public health and medicine, and an authority on global health, public health systems, infectious disease, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness. She served as the Nuclear Threat Initiative's founding Vice President for the Biological Program. Before joining NTI, she was the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, she served for six years as the Commissioner of Health for the City of New York and as the Assistant Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Joshua "Josh" Sharfstein
Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein is Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore. He also serves as chair of the board of four affiliated nonprofit agencies. He has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe jewelry and over-the-counter medication, and ensuring Americans with disabilities have access to prescription drugs. He is a member of the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine.

The full audio of the address is HERE. The video can be viewed online at

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Washington, DC

I’ve often said that I don’t believe government has the answer to every problem or that it can do all things for all people. We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can’t do on our own. There are certain things only a government can do. And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don’t cause us harm. That is the mission of our Food and Drug Administration and it is a mission shared by our Department of Agriculture, and a variety of other agencies and offices at just about every level of government.

The men and women who inspect our foods and test the safety of our medicines are chemists and physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists. It is because of the work they do each and every day that the United States is one of the safest places in the world to buy groceries at a supermarket or pills at a drugstore. Unlike citizens of so many other countries, Americans can trust that there is a strong system in place to ensure that the medications we give our children will help them get better, not make them sick; and that a family dinner won’t end in a trip to the doctor’s office.

But in recent years, we’ve seen a number of problems with the food making its way to our kitchen tables. In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives – a painful reminder of how tragic the consequences can be when food producers act irresponsibly and government is unable to do its job. Worse, these incidents reflect a troubling trend that’s seen the average number of outbreaks from contaminated produce and other foods grow to nearly 350 a year – up from 100 a year in the early 1990s.

Part of the reason is that many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. It’s also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people that it’s difficult for different parts of our government to share information, work together, and solve problems. And it’s also because the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed in recent years, leaving the agency with the resources to inspect just 7,000 of our 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95% of them go uninspected.

That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whom I am appointing today as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. From her research on infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health to her work on public health at the Department of Health and Human Services to her leadership on biodefense at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Dr. Hamburg brings to this vital position not only a reputation of integrity but a record of achievement in making Americans safer and more secure. Dr. Hamburg was one of the youngest people ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. And her two children have a unique distinction of their own. Their birth certificates feature her name twice – once as their mother, and once as New York City Health Commissioner. In that role, Dr. Hamburg brought a new life to a demoralized agency, leading an internationally-recognized initiative that cut the tuberculosis rate by nearly half, and overseeing food safety in our nation’s largest city.

Joining her as Principal Deputy Commissioner will be Dr. Joshua Sharfstein. As Baltimore’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Sharfstein has been recognized as a national leader for his efforts to protect children from unsafe over-the-counter cough and cold medications. And he’s designed an award-winning program to ensure that Americans with disabilities had access to prescription drugs.

Their critical work – and the critical work of the FDA they lead – will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Working Group I am creating. This Working Group will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them. And I expect this group to report back to me with recommendations as soon as possible.

As part of our commitment to public health, our Agriculture Department is closing a loophole in the system to ensure that diseased cows don’t find their way into the food supply. And we are also strengthening our food safety system and modernizing our labs with a billion dollar investment, a portion of which will go toward significantly increasing the number of food inspectors, helping ensure that the FDA has the staff and support they need to protect the food we eat.

In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch. Just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come.

Thank you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Clintons Buying a Home in Woodstock???

Kingston Daily Freeman: Former President Bill Clinton, right, poses with Minnie Kiruka, an employee of the Emerson Resort and Spa in Mount Tremper, during a visit to the inn in December. Clinton’s wife Hillary — then a U.S. senator and now the secretary of state — is at left. File photo

Bill & Hillary Clinton are rumored to be looking for a house in Woodstock, New York. Since you are a hip reader of mine you realize that the Woodstock Festival wasn't held in Woodstock in 1969; it was on Max Yasgur's farm in nearby Bethel. Woodstock is a charming little town and I'd hate to see it inundated with Secret Service and Clinton watchers.

Kingston Daily Freeman: Clintons to Woodstock? Rumors are swirling

I Like My Jim Cramer Fire Roasted on a Spit with a Side of False Penitence

The skewering continues:

"Destroy Enough Dough?":

"Maybe You Could Cut Down On That?":

"But You Are Pretending That You Are a Dew-Eyed Innocent....It's Not a Fucking Game":

The not-so-funny last segment:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stewart Crushes Cramer in Round 3

I'll be watching the Daily Show tonight as Jim "Fuck You!" Cramer is appearing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I *Heart* Jon Stewart

More skewering of Jim Cramer and the rest of the CNBC morons:

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I'm With This Guy

President Obama's Weekly Web Address

"Toward a Better Day" is how headlines this week's address.


Office of the Press Secretary
SATURDAY, March 7, 2009

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Presses the Case for Bold Action to Address the Economic Crisis

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama used his weekly address to detail his plans to fix our ailing economy, noting that reforming healthcare is necessary to ensure our long term fiscal health. While ending this crisis will not be quick or easy, the President’s plans will take the swift, bold, and responsible actions needed for the United States to emerge stronger and more prosperous than before. And that is why reforming healthcare, jumpstarting job creation, restoring lending, relieving responsible homeowners, and making hard choices are all so critically important right now.

The full audio of the address is HERE. The video can be viewed online at

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Washington, DC

Yesterday, we learned that the economy lost another 651,000 jobs in the month of February, which brings the total number of jobs lost in this recession to 4.4 million. The unemployment rate has now surpassed 8 percent, the highest rate in a quarter century.

These aren't just statistics, but hardships experienced personally by millions of Americans who no longer know how they'll pay their bills, or make their mortgage, or raise their families.

From the day I took office, I knew that solving this crisis would not be easy, nor would it happen overnight. And we will continue to face difficult days in the months ahead. But I also believe that we will get through this -- that if we act swiftly and boldly and responsibly, the United States of America will emerge stronger and more prosperous than it was before.

That's why my administration is committed to doing all that's necessary to address this crisis and lead us to a better day. That's why we're moving forward with an economic agenda that will jumpstart job creation, restart lending, relieve responsible homeowners, and address the long-term economic challenges of our time: the cost of health care, our dependence on oil, and the state of our schools.

To prevent foreclosures for as many as 4 million homeowners -- and lower interest rates and lift home values for millions more -- we are implementing a plan to allow lenders to work with borrowers to refinance or restructure their mortgages. On Wednesday, the Department of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development released the guidelines that lenders will use for lowering mortgage payments. This plan is now at work.

To restore the availability of affordable loans for families and businesses -- not just banks -- we are taking steps to restart the flow of credit and stabilize the financial markets. On Thursday, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve launched the Consumer and Business Lending Initiative -- a plan that will generate up to a trillion dollars of new lending so that families can finance a car or college education -- and small businesses can raise the capital that will create jobs.

And we've already begun to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- a plan that will save and create over 3.5 million jobs over the next two years -- jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, expanding broadband and mass transit. And because of this plan, those who have lost their job in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage, while 95 percent of working Americans will receive a tax break beginning April 1st.

Of course, like every family going through hard times, our country must make tough choices. In order to pay for the things we need -- we cannot waste money on the things we don't.

My administration inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, the largest in history. And we've inherited a budgeting process as irresponsible as it is unsustainable. For years, as Wall Street used accounting tricks to conceal costs and avoid responsibility, Washington did, too.

These kinds of irresponsible budgets -- and inexcusable practices -- are now in the past. For the first time in many years, my administration has produced a budget that represents an honest reckoning of where we are and where we need to go.

It's also a budget that begins to make the hard choices that we've avoided for far too long -- a strategy that cuts where we must and invests where we need. That's why it includes $2 trillion in deficit reduction, while making historic investments in America's future. That's why it reduces discretionary spending for non-defense programs as a share of the economy by more than 10 percent over the next decade -- to the lowest level since they began keeping these records nearly half a century ago. And that's why on Wednesday, I signed a presidential memorandum to end unnecessary no-bid contracts and dramatically reform the way contracts are awarded -- reforms that will save the American people up to $40 billion each year.

Finally, because we cannot bring our deficit down or grow our economy without tackling the skyrocketing cost of health care, I held a health care summit on Thursday to begin the long-overdue process of reform. Our ideas and opinions about how to achieve this reform will vary, but our goal must be the same: quality, affordable health care for every American that no longer overwhelms the budgets of families, businesses, and our government.

Yes, this is a moment of challenge for our country. But we've experienced great trials before. And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper -- to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do. I'm confident that at this defining moment, we will prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifice of those who came before us, and the promise of those who will come after.