Clem’s Chronicles: Economic Good News?/earmarks/women and booze

By Tom Johnson

Feb 24, 2009 9:34pm

Clem Lane here. Our nightly editorial note follows. Unfortunately, i don’t have hyperlinks to individual World News pieces. To the millions of you (okay, to my mother and father) who read this note every night, my apologies. But it’s a good read if i do say so myself.

OBAMA SPEECH-Reminder that ABC NEWS is on with live coverage of the President’s speech to a joint session of Congress. Terry Moran anchors NIGHTLINE and will provide a full wrap-up of the night’s events as will GOOD MORNING AMERICA(and of course our stellar overnight programs WORLD NEWS NOW and AMERICA THIS MORNING as well.)

OBAMA SPEECH/SECURITY-From Jason Ryan: "DHS is designating the President’s address tonight a National Security Special Event (NSSE).  Since 2000 the State of the Union and other major Presidential Addresses to congress have been designated NSSEs. This designation gives the US Secret Service the overall coordination role in planning and directing any security issues and response. The Secret Service will be working closely with the US Capitol Police, DC Metropolitan Police and the FBI. Also there will be a Civil Air Patrol up in the skies above DC with other assets coming from US Northern Command. Since 1998, the Secret Service has led federal security operations at 30 National Special Security Events including the 2009 Presidential Inauguration."

OBAMA SPEECH/WHO’S THE CABINET MEMBER WATCHING THE SPEECH AT DENNY’S?-Well maybe not Denny’s but Pierre Thomas tells us "Attorney General Eric Holder will be the cabinet member not present at the President’s speech before Congress tonight for continuity of government purposes should there be a catastrophic event of some sort."

WAS THAT GOOD NEWS COMING OUT OF BERNANKE’S MOUTH OR JUST WISHFUL THINKING?-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke appeared before a Senate committee today to talk about the economy. Betsy Stark listened and filed for WORLD NEWS: "The Fed Chairman said today if the government gets its multi-trillion-dollar economic rescue plan right, there is what he called a ‘reasonable prospect’ of the recession ending this year." While that’s a mighty big (and expensive) "IF", I believe there was actual good news in there. Wall Street must have thought so too. The Dow rose 236.16, or 3.3 percent, to 7,350.94. Broader stock indicators also rebounded. The S&P 500 index rose 29.81, or 4 percent, to 773.14. The Nasdaq composite index rose 54.11, or 3.9 percent, to 1,441.83, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 17.90, or 4.5 percent, to 412.48. Certainly helping the market’s mood? Stark says that "Mr. Bernanke’s assurance that the government has no designs on running the country’s banks came as welcome relief on Wall Street." Before you start breaking out the $3 buck chuck, Stark points us to "Another reminder of how hard it is to turn around the housing market. A new survey shows home prices declined a record 18 percent nationwide in the past year." And the news out of the private sector continues to disappoint with Home Depot, Macy’s, Radio Shack and Target all showing steep drops in earnings as the companies attempted to fight buyer apathy with deep discounts." But hey this is a good news day with Stark noting that "for today, however, stock market investors focused on the positive…a possible economic turnaround."

ROSES AND THORNS-Okay this is so absolutely adorable it makes me want to hug Red Sox fans. From George Stephanopoulos: " We learned at the White House lunch today that the Obama’s have a family tradition that I want to adopt at our house. At dinner, they play a game called ‘Roses and Thorns.’ Everyone takes a turn describing a good thing that happened that day (rose) and a low moment or tough problem they had to deal with (thorn).
When the President finished his turn after a particularly challenging day at the White House (we didn’t learn which one), Malia told her Dad: ‘You have a really thorny job.’ Smart girl!"

WOMEN & ALCOHOL-A drink a day. We’ve heard over the years of the benefits in moderate drinking for women-it helps them lower their risk of heart disease. Today a study refuting that notion. British researchers surveyed middle-aged women at breast cancer screening clinics about their drinking habits, and tracked their health for seven years. John McKenzie, reporting for WORLD NEWS, said that “the study is huge. More than a million women. “ The results? McKenzie: “Alcohol consumption may cause 13% of all breast, liver, rectal and esophageal cancers.” But what about those benefits of the drink-a-day to lower heart complications? McKenzie: “Doctors say women don’t need alcohol” with one doctor quoted as saying “they can keep their weight down. They can exercise. They can avoid smoking”

EARMARKS-Earmarks are like cockroaches I guess. Even after the President has repeatedly shouted "Earmark reform", the darn things pop up in the best of places. Take Congress and their omnibus spending bill-over $400 million to fund the federal government. Jon Karl took a peek at that bill and SURPRISE, SURPRISE there’s a whole hell of a lot of stuff in there to make you reach for the Rolaids. Karl tells us tucked into the bill are "more than 9000 earmarks-that’s Congress speak for pet projects."
Karl says that "the bill is supposed to fund government operations, but it includes things like:
-More than $1 million for so-called ‘Mormon Crickets’ in Utah
-$200K for tattoo removal in Los Angeles
-$443K for Beaver Management and Control in Mississippi"
People have been bemoaning the lack of bi-partisanship in Washington over the Economic Stimulus bill. Does this bill count? It’s clear that folks on both sides of the aisle are packing the pork…from Chuck Schumer’s $2.2 million for the Grape Genetics Center in Geneva, NY to Republican Congressmen Saxby Chambliss and Jack Kingston getting some $3 million for poultry and blueberry research.
Karl tells us that "with the exception of the period right after September 11th, this is the biggest increase in federal spending since 1978" (are these folks on the same planet as those of us cutting back our expenses?)
Guess we’ll wait and see what "earmark reform" actually means off the campaign trail when President Obama weighs in.

HEY AVIATION INDUSTRY/SULLY’S WARNING YOU!-The pilot, crew and air traffic controller involved in the safe landing of Flight 1549 were on Capitol Hill today. They got lots of props from lawmakers but soon afterward the hearing got very serious, Lisa Stark said on WORLD NEWS. The heroes, Stark said on WORLD NEWS, "warned that experienced crew members are deserting an industry that they say once attracted the best and the brightest." Let’s take the pilots of Flight #1549. Stark tells us that "Sullenberger is a 29 year veteran. First officer Skiles 23 years. Like many pilots they’ve seen their pay slashed and pensions gutted. Both now work second jobs-Sully as a consultant, Sikes as a general contractor." Sullenberger told the hearing "my concern is for the safety and integrity of the air travel system." Me too!

OTHER STUFF-
–More bad news on the newspaper front. HEARST says the SF CHRONICLE is in trouble. Michael Kreisel sent a note to the Business News DL which read in part: " Hearst Corporation announced today that its San Francisco Chronicle newspaper is undertaking critical cost-saving measures including a significant reduction in the number of its unionized and nonunion employees. If these savings cannot be accomplished within weeks, Hearst said, the Company will be forced to sell or close the newspaper."
–Charlie Herman tells us it’s likely that the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S AUTO TASK FORCE will meet with auto execs this week.
–Pierre Thomas says on the CHANDRA LEVY front that "charges likely not coming until Thursday or Friday and could slide into early next week"
–Alaska Governor SARAH PALIN has agreed to reimburse the state of Alaska  nearly $7,000 for costs associated with nine trips taken by her children. That according to her attorney-Palin has 120 days to pony up the cash.
–Looks like he’s staying mum. Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’ personal trainer, was due in court tomorrow before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to tell her whether he would break his silence and testify in BARRY BONDS PERJURY TRIAL. The hearing was postponed until Friday at the request of Anderson’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, who is busy with another trial. About his client,  Geragos said. "I believe Greg is firm in his commitment" to not testify.

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