Saturday, May 09, 2009

Just sayin'...

By Mustang Bobby

CBS golf analyst David Feherty speculates about the mindset and intentions of "any U.S. soldier" towards the Democratic leadership in Congress.
From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.

It's no secret that Mr. Feherty thinks that George W. Bush is the best president evah and that all of the troubles in Iraq and the rest of the world are the fault of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid.

Of course Mr. Feherty is entitled to his opinion, as is the magazine that published his article. Chances are that he knew what he was doing and that he knew that he would set off the discussion about his interesting points of view -- as he has. Aside from the fact that what he wrote assumes that all soldiers think like he does and that even joking about killing the Speaker of the House -- third in line of presidential succession -- and the Senate Majority Leader might get the attention of the United States Secret Service, Mr. Feherty demonstrates the smug arrogance of someone who thinks he's the only one out there with the guts to "tell it like it is" (channeling the late Howard Cosell), critics be damned. So there.

Chances are that Mr. Feherty will get a phone call from the folks at CBS and under the threat of his contract he will issue a non-apology apology along the lines of "I'm sorry if I offended," putting the burden on those who were offended, and then cash in on the whining circuit of right-wing talk-radio guest shots about how the P.C. crowd has made him a martyr to the cause of free speech, and can't anyone take a joke anymore? Yeah, well, when it's all about you, nothing else matters.

The point is that the people who complain the most about their restrictions of free speech rights are the ones who both abuse the right and have no compunction about restricting it for other people. They also don't get the basic concept of taking responsibility for your own actions. The right of free speech includes the responsibility for using the judgment to know when to not say something that might come back and bite you in the ass. A mature and responsible person would know that and not blame the consequences on someone else.

There's more to the right of freedom of speech than just saying something.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Friday, May 08, 2009

The Reaction in review (May 8, 2009)

By Carol Gee

A week's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By non sequitur: " 'Everyone cheated back then' " -- A baseball fan gives an excellent heads up to a piece of writing that explains fan feelings associated with the Red Sox and the steroid scandal.

By J. Thomas Duffy: "Top Ten Cloves: Things about Manny Ramariz taking banned substances (Fertility Drugs)" -- Duffy's again at his best with hilarious Top Ten Countdowns, this one and also "Possible Reasons Google Flu Tracker didn't pick up Swine Flu."


By Carol Gee: "South Asia over Middle East" -- Reflections and reactions about the "Trilateral" meetings of the heads of state of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Ed Gillespie: There was no woman quite like Samuel Alito" -- Michael's insightful post regards the SCOTUS nomination today as contrasted with the previous Bush nominations of Alito and Harriet Miers.

By Capt. Fogg: "Just what it looks like" -- This post observes Rush Limbaugh through the eyes of Dr. Freud.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "The Great Republican purge of 2009" -- Michael's analysis of the Republican Party's current state of disintegration and disrepute is spot on.


By Carl: "Cut the losses" -- Carl returns this week to his wonderfully lucid and helpful posting on the economic crisis, writing about the bank stress test results impact ; see also "Economic dodgeball," regarding corporate offshore tax evasion.

By J. Thomas Duffy: "A nothing sandwich, with everything on it" -- Duffy makes quick witty work of the great Dijon-on-a-hamburger Obama scandal.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Huntsman 2012?" -- This is an important post that introduces Republican Governor Huntsman as perhaps a real force with which Democrats must reckon.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Joe the Plumber, bigot" -- Michael exposes the amazing capacity of this Republican favorite for gay bashing and outright bigotry; the post drew a number of comments.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "I want you... to proselytize in Afghanistan (or, how the U.S. military is trying to convert Muslims to Christianity) -- This great post examines the possibility that we face opposition around the world and that, "part of it is that it at least seems to be not so much a political (and cultural) hegemon as a religious one, that is, that the essence of American power is theocratic in nature, that is, that it desires not just to conquer the world one market at a time but to convert it one soul at a time."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Iraqi militias targeting gays" -- This searing post looks at one of the most disturbing recent consequences of the misbegotten U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.


By Carl: "Doin' ninety and still flyin' " -- Carl's lovely birthday tribute to a favorite of many of us, activist and folk singer, Pete Seeger.

By Capt. Fogg: "Fox Nation - are you man enough?" -- Fogg exposes "a month old 'Conservative opinion' site" as one serving the intolerant and rabble rousing lunatic fringe.

Bonus Creature Feature: Celebrating some good things -- "No prayer day at the new White House," "Quote of the Day (gay marriage/Maine), "More Specter" (to the end of the seniority line).

(Cross-posted at Behind the Links.)

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"Everyone cheated back then"

By non sequitur

Not to overdo the whole Manny-testing-positive thing (which I think is a bit overblown), but this piece by Bill Simmons is really good. I usually just find Simmons annoying when he's writing about the Red Sox, but here I think he does a great job of capturing that peculiar moment in baseball history (now gone?) when all the players were using steroids and almost all the fans were pretending not to know (he also convinces me that Ortiz was using). But more than that, I actually think he's really successful in showing what the Red Sox' World Series, especially the 2004 victory, meant and will mean to three generations of Red Sox fans, now that the entire era is tainted (he also made me realize how deep an impression that World Series made on me--despite having been more annoyed by that team than anything else, I found myself feeling something like nostalgia while reading his description). And in doing that, he manages to illustrate the larger social and familial importance of the game. In particular, he actually does a surprisingly good job of conveying the mixture of innocence and skepticism a young fan will have looking back, and the ambivalence and regret a fan who lived through that era will feel about the highs he experienced (I also like the father-son dynamic he conjures up--who knew Bill Simmons could be such an insightful and subtle writer?). I haven't really read that much about the steroid era/"scandal," but this is definitely the best of what I have seen. I'm not really doing it justice; I suggest you just go read it for yourselves.

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Independent investigation, please

By Creature

Lets keep in mind, the same people who are trying to drag Nancy Pelosi down with them into the torture muck are the ones who knowingly destroyed evidence of their crimes. Until I know more, I'll trust Nancy Pelosi's side of the story. That being said, no Democrat, or Republican, should be left out of any investigation. Let the chips fall. This is about country, not party.

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By Creature

That's the percentage of Americans currently unemployed. Include folks who have stopped looking for work, or have settled for part-time work, and that number jumps to 15.8%. The good news here is that layoffs slowed in April as employers cut 539,000 jobs. Still a holy-crap number but yet it's the fewest jobs lost in the last six months. What kept that number low: "a burst of government hiring." But everyone knows those aren't real jobs. Isn't that right, Chairman Steele?

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Top Ten Cloves: Things about Manny Ramirez taking banned substances (Fertility Drugs)

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Dodgers' Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games after failing drug test

10. After living in "Red Sox Nation", wanted to, personally, create "Manny Nation"

9. The ol' "peanuts and crackerjacks" just wasn't cuttin' it

8. An inexplicable, "Manny-Being-Manny" bonding, and empathy, for Octomon Nadya Suleman

7. Puts a different meaning on old baseball saw, of "He got good wood on the ball"

6. Just trying to put "a little beef, in the ol' bullpen", if you know what I mean

5. Manny was just being Manny ... And, also being Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro...

4. Makes you wonder what Manny was doing when he was hiding in the scoreboard, in Fenway Park wall

3. Thought, by talking the substance, he could land one of those "bath tubs, watching the sunset with sexy woman" commercials'

2. Just wanted to live up to "Mannywood" (wink, wink)

1. Well, how should we say this ... Dodger Blue wasn't the only thing blue on Manny Ramirez

Bonus Riffs

Yahoo Sports: Ramirez’s drug used to stimulate testosterone

ESPN: Sources: Ramirez used fertility drug

MLB: Manny suspended 50 games for PED use; Ramirez biggest name to be penalized by MLB's drug policy

Politics and Sports Collide ... Paperwork Mix-Up Has Feingold Censuring Bonds and MLB Investigating Bush

Garlic Coverage of Baseball Steroid Scandal

Could You Please Tell Me, What Is This Thing Called Baseball?

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Please go away

By Creature

When Obama got elected I really thought there would be less Cheney, but, no, we've got more. Obama should prosecute this criminal, if only to get him away from the microphones.

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South Asia over Middle East

By Carol Gee

In the News -- With the "Trilateral" meetings at the White House yesterday, it seems apparent that the Obama administration's main foreign policy focus in on South Asia -- "Af-Pak," rather that Iraq or Israel-Palestine. That is not news, of course. These developments are right in line with the reality of events and with the President's priorities on diplomacy. The talks will have been successful if they get the Pakistani army to focus on the Taliban in country, rather than India. According to the report by, President Obama says he is "pleased" by the Af-Pak meetings. The Financial Times (5/7/09) has a particularly good story on the talks. Quoting the FT summary:

Islamabad on Thursday intensified attacks against Taliban militants in the northern Swat valley after Barack Obama, US president, welcomed the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to the White House.

Thousands of people took advantage of a break in a curfew in Swat on Thursday to get out of the region as government aircraft attacked Taliban positions. United Nations officials said the campaign against the Islamic militants in Swat had prompted 100,000 civilians to flee the area over the past two days. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a senior official in North West Frontier Province, where Swat is located, warned that 500,000 people might flee the conflict.

If Iraq is secure enough for the oil groups to return by the end of the year, despite the lack of an oil law, things must be getting more stable in that war-torn country with one third of the world's oil reserves. According to the New York Times (4/19/09), Iraq's parliament chose a new speaker after months of political infighting that stalled several pieces of legislation. He is a critic of PM Malaki. The commander in Iraq, General Odierno is certain that U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by late 2011.

Clearly President Obama has turned his attention to South Asia, and it is none too soon. The years of a Bush administration distracted in Iraq are somewhat behind us. The current administration is about the business that should have been finished with al Qaeda a long time ago.


  1. Terror tech -- from CQ Behind the Lines, by David C. Morrison (5/6/09): “In the old days, we knew where the enemy was; the problem was we couldn’t kill them fast enough. Now it’s almost getting them person by person, and technology can help us do that,” National Intelligence chief Adm. Dennis C. Blair tells The Baltimore Sun. The advent of robotic weapons of “indiscriminate lethality” promises to “lead to less physical risk to the combatants deploying them but greater moral risk,” a Global Media Forum essay assesses — while The New York Times quotes a Taliban logistician judging as “very effective” the CIA’s drone attacks in Pakistan.

  2. "Obama says Pakistan nukes in safe hands," from The Financial Times (4/29/09). Summary of an article that provides a lot of good answers to the questions I have had about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal:

    US president Barack Obama on Wednesday has backed assurances from Pakistan’s military, saying he believed the country’s nuclear arsenal of as many as 100 warheads was in safe hands.

    Speaking at a White House news conference late Wednesday night, Mr Obama said while he was “gravely concerned” about the overall situation in Pakistan, he added that Pakistan’s military recognised the hazard of the country’s nuclear weapons “falling in to the wrong hands”.

  3. "Almost 1 in 10 Afghans see the U.S. as the biggest threat to Afghanistan," from The U.S. News and World Report (4/15/09).

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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The New Justice...

By Carl going to be Michelle Obama.

Kidding! Although that would serve the dual purposes of putting a minority woman on the bench while torquing conservatives. To boot, how many Senators would want to question in depth and with hostility the wife of the man who sits in the White House?

Another idea that is sublimely ridiculous would be to nominate Ronald Reagan Jr. You don't have to be a lawyer to be a Justice, and think about the image of The Gipper's gay liberal son sitting in front of the Judiciary Committee, while Republican Senator after Republican Senator genuflect, unable to tear down the legacy of their great icon.

But I digress:
At this moment all bets seem to be in favor of New York appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor. She's an experienced jurist, a well regarded judge graduated from Princeton and Yale, a 54-year-old Latina, daughter of Puerto Rican parents, who rose from a life in public housing to be considered for the highest court in the nation.

The conservative fringe have already begun tagging her as a radical liberal, but that is also to be expected.

Indeed, it will be hard to tag a former prosecutor in one of the highest crime areas in the nation as "soft".

Too, her experience in private practice exploring the nuances of intellectual property will put her in good stead as this issue grows in magnitude under Web 2.0 protocols.

Further, tagging her as a liberal will be made much harder by the fact that she was named to the Federal Bench by George Bush 41. Smear her, and you smear your own party's former leader.

Too, when her "promotion" to the Court of Appeals came up, despite an anonymous hold on her nomination (almost killing it ahead of a public outcry from the Hispanic community, when the GOP was still trying to court them), six Republicans voted for her advancement who are still in the Senate today.

So the confirmation process should go smoothly. And it will be fun to see a local girl from the NYC public school system make it big.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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Ed Gillespie: There was no woman quite like Samuel Alito

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On CNN yesterday, Bushie Ed Gillespie said this about the selection of Sam Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the SCOTUS:

I think that in the next round of the selection process, the person who emerged as clearly most qualified -- really head and shoulders above others -- was Samuel Alito, and there wasn't a woman who was of a comparable experience and skill and temperament and intellect.

The first round, of course, was the Harriet Miers round, which turned out to be a embarrassing disaster. But if Bush was all about merit, why not nominate Alito, supposedly some super-judge, in the first place? Because, as was abundantly clear, Bush wasn't looking for "the most qualified candidates," he was looking to reward a close friend who would protect him (if and when his abuses went up to the SCOTUS), qualifications be damned.

Alito was obviously a far more competent pick than Miers, but was there really no similarly qualified women? It is tempting to accuse Gillespie of sexism here -- sexism couched in the language of meritocracy -- but I suspect that he's actually quite right, at least in his own mind.

But let me explain: What Gillespie probably meant was that there was no suitably conservative (and, remember, Bush was, post-Miers, looking for a right-wing ideologue) woman with "comparable experience and skill and temperament and intellect" to Alito.

Was that really the case? Well, I don't know. And I'm not about to peruse the list of right-wing federal judges at this time. Maybe Alito really was "head and shoulders" above everyone else, men and women alike, maybe not. In the end, Alito was the right choice for the far right.

Just spare me the bullshit about merit. Given that Miers was nominated before Alito, merit had nothing to do with it, at least until some rationale had to be given for selecting Alito.

And, of course, lest we forget, merit had nothing much to do with anything in or about the Bush Administration, which was staffed to the rafters with unqualified, incompetent cronies.

As for what Obama should do, I'm generally opposed to selecting anyone for political office based on identity. (I generally find identity politics repellent.) I'd like him to pick a supremely qualified person, whatever that person's identity (sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.). And yet, given the diversity of America, it makes some sense that the highest court in the land should itself be somewhat diverse -- not a perfect mirror, but at least something other than nine aged white Christian men.

And, thankfully, in those terms (merit plus diversity), the pool of qualified candidates from which Obama is likely to draw is much, much deeper than the heavily straight white male Christian one from which Bush drew. There is genuine diversity among liberals and progressives, and it is a diversity that allows genuine merit to flourish.

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No prayer day ceremony at new White House

By Creature

Now, if only we could get god out of every other aspect of our public lives maybe this country could progress as our founders intended.

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Just what it looks like

by Capt. Fogg

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

-Sigmund Freud (attributed)-

Sometimes not

"So I always believed that if we’re going to have a recession, just don’t participate."

said Rush the other day at the President's Club Dinner, to appreciative guests like Justice Clarence Thomas, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and other self-satisfied plutocrats who thought it was funny that Clear Channel has had to lay off 12% of its work force while Rush has a $400 million dollar contract with them. Business for Rush has never been better and he's never had a better time either with his 51,000 square foot Palm Beach palace on the ocean, his $54 million dollar private jet and his "populist" radio program where he can tell the boys down at the corner bar why the Liberals are out to get them and then fly off to have dinner with the other plutocrats smoking cigars and laughing their heads off at his jokes about homeless children sleeping under bridges.

That's right Doktor Freud, sometimes it's a cigar, sometimes it's not, but with Rush it's always a way of saying "I've got mine and f*ck you!"

Cross posted from Human Voices

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The Great Republican Purge of 2009

By Michael J.W. Stickings

And the self-immolation of the Republican Party, much of it at the hands of Dear Leader Rush himself, continues.

Earlier in the week, Colin Powell, long a loyal Republican (even with so many of us wondering why) criticized the nastiness of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and those like them. They are, simply, polarizing figures who engage in the politics of polarization, and, as a result, the Republican Party is in "deep trouble."

In response -- and the response was nothing if not predictable -- Limbaugh called Powell "just another liberal" and told him, pretty much, to get the hell out: "What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican party."

Like so many Communist, Fascist, and otherwise ideologically extremist and absolutist parties, the Republican Party of Dear Leader Rush, which is to say, the Republican Party as it is right now (with some exceptions, but not many), is purging its ranks of those who don't toe the extremist, absolutist party line. Part of it is a response, post-2006 and -2008, to electoral defeat. Out of power, Republicans are dealing with crisis (insofar as being out of power amounts to a crisis, which it does for them, so enamored are they with power) not by opening up, not by seeking to expand their appeal, and hence their electability, but by closing down, by closing in on themselves, by narrowing themselves to ideological rigidity and intolerance, by suppressing (and eliminating) difference of all kind. Some of those who are different and who find themselves on the outside leave of their own volition -- like Arlen Specter. Some are openly ridiculed but remain -- like Meghan McCain. And some, just a few, stand firm, remaining in the party even as they are pushed and pushed out the door -- like Colin Powell.

With the party in shambles, struggling to rebrand itself, and almost completely bankrupt, we can expect much more of this going forward. What of those two moderates from Maine, for example, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe? How long will they remain in the fold? With secure seats in the Senate, they may just stay, but the purges will continue, and efforts to eliminate those like them, anyone and everyone who doesn't toe the line, will continue to define the Republican Party of our time.

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The Republicans' anti-gay litmus test for the Supreme Court

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Steve Benen posted yesterday on Republican Sen. John Thune's comment that a gay nominee for the Supreme Court just wouldn't be acceptable. Other Republicans, like Sen. Jeff Sessions, aren't nearly so dogmatic in their bigotry, but I suspect that Thune's position is a pretty common one on the right. Republicans may talk merit, but they are the real practitioners of identity politics, the ones who use identity, or identities they don't like, to divide America into demographics of "us" and "them."

It's disgusting, of course, not to mention deeply hypocritical, and it's pretty much business as usual on the right.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Cut the losses

By Carl

This headline is perhaps the scariest business headline of the past six months:

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Regulators have determined that Bank of America Corp. requires about $34 billion in new capital, the largest need among the 19 biggest U.S. banks subjected to stress tests, said a person with knowledge of the matter. Bank of America fell 9 percent in trading before U.S. exchanges opened.

Citigroup Inc.’s shortfall is more limited because the company already plans to convert government preferred shares to common stock, people familiar with the results said. JPMorgan Chase & Co. doesn’t need a deeper reserve against losses, according to people familiar with that company’s result.

The banks may outline their strategies to add capital, or in other cases buy out government stakes, after the Federal Reserve publishes the stress tests results tomorrow. Companies requiring more capital could raise all the funds through conversions of preferred shares if they choose, the people said.

Sources I've spoken to who have some limited knowledge of the results of the stress tests tell me that roughly half the banks tested will need further bailouts, but BofA is the largest eyesore on the horizon.

Mr. President, Chairman Bernanke, Secretary Geithner, the time has come for triage. Bank of America, for example, has already benefitted from bailouts to the tune of $45 billion dollars. It's clear that it cannot possibly raise another $35 billion on its own, it will rely heavily on government help.

And other banks similarly positioned will be chomping at the bit for a handout. It is time to look at a guided bankruptcy, similar to the one
Chrysler filed last week and GM will likely file before long.

This will mean, in the case of BofA, writing off the $45 billion dollars. Better to take the hit now, and work out an arrangement with the new owner of Bank of America for an equity stake over a longer term than anticipated.

Bank of America is a singular case in this instance. Had it not been greedy and purchased Merrill Lynch (
at the complicit urging of the Bush administration, we should point out), it likely would have survived its earlier greedy decisions to consolidate the purchases of MBNA, Fleet Bank, US Trust, and its most questionable purchase, Countrywide Financial, just ahead of the sub-prime mortgage crisis of which Countrywide was a, if not the, main player.

It's one thing when a bank gets its clothes dirty playing in the mud of securitized debt obligations and unhedged risk plays. It's another when a bank goes out of its way to collide with the earth.

Or to put it in a clearer idiom, it's one thing to get behind the wheel when you've had a beer, quite another to get behind the wheel drunk and carrying a six pack to consume on the way.

My sense is that Bank of America needs to be reorganized and then recapitalized with a different charter. Indeed, perhaps we ought to rethink the entire banking industry so that there is some safe place for the average American to put his money.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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A nothing sandwich, with everything on it

By J. Thomas Duffy

This is almost, nearly, worthy of Instant Ignorant Dolt designation.

Earlier this week, President Obama, and his VP Joe Biden, took a trip over to Virginia, to catch some lunch, at a place called Ray's Hell Burger, which the media, in particular, MSNBC, played up.


A President eats lunch - STOP THE PRESSES!

And, he eats hamburgers!


Well, William Jacobson, in the ranks of the Flying Monkeys, jumped all over this, at once, accusing MSNBC of "hiding" the fact that Obama prefers Dijon Mustard.

I mean, he is frothing-at-the-mouth of some nefarious conspiracy, posting multiple videos, noting the tape count of the exact moment that Obama says "Dijon Mustard", going to DefCon 7 with Updates, and, breathlessly boasting how "Dijongate" is spreading (among the Flying Monkeys, of course).

I wish I had graphic artists skills, so I could draw up a bottle of vodka, with the label "Absolutely Ridiculous!"

Ron Chusid, over on Liberal Values notes how "Barack Obama Has Great Taste In Mustard"

And, we will give the final word to Tbogg, from Firedoglake, which is hysterical;
Hawhawhaw. Dijon mustard! How metro! How gay!

Jesus. Between this and their obsession with arugula I sometimes wonder if we're actually talking about four year-old children who make "icky" faces when confronted with something new to the menu. What makes this worse is that Jacobson is Professor of Law at Cornell Law School and therefore, we assume, an adult or at least an adult-sized human. How embarrassing for his wife when they attend faculty dinners and she has to bring along chicken strips and ranch dressing so he'll have something to eat. Hopefully she has drawn the line, no matter how fussy he gets, over bringing a baggie of Cheerios for him to nibble on during cocktail hour.

Help Me Mr. Wizard!

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage." -- Gov. John Baldacci, making sense and making Maine the fifth state to allow same-sex marriage. Well done.

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Feudin' Kentucky: Bunning vs. McConnell

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Contrary to earlier reports, and we reported on them here, Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, one of the craziest and most embattled Republicans going, is apparently intent on running for re-election next year after all.

While state SoS and Mitch McConnell ally Trey Grayson has formed the obligatory exploratory committee, with Bunning's (genuine?) blessing (and Grayson claims he will only run if Bunning steps aside), Bunning has been busy heaping blame on the Senate minority leader:

Sen. Jim Bunning [yesterday] renewed his attacks on his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing him of selfishness and being responsible for lost GOP seats in the Senate.

"Good God, he wants to run everybody," Bunning said of McConnell during a conference call with reporters.


He said: "Do you realize that under our dynamic leadership of our leader, we have gone from 55 and probably to 40 (Senate seats) in two election cycles, and if the tea leaves that I read are correct, we will wind up with about 36 after this election cycle.

"So if leadership means anything, it means you don't lose... approximately 19 seats in three election cycles with good leadership."

Come to think of it, that's not crazy at all.

With Bunning hopefully running, the race is certainly winnable for the Democrats. For that reason alone, I wish him the best as he looks ahead to 2010. (Keep fighting, Senator. Don't give in, or up.)

In the meantime, though, maybe he can reinvent himself as a speaker of truth to Republican power.

It's nothing if not compelling political entertainment.

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Huntsman 2012?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I tend to agree with Obama campaign guru David Plouffe that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (who makes Plouffe a "wee bit queasy") could be a formidable Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Bucking the rightward shift of his party, and avoiding its drive for ideological purification, Huntsman is actually something of an independent-minded figure, a moderate, relatively speaking (that is, by Utah standards), with potentially broad appeal beyond Dear Leader Rush and the right-wing echo chamber. (I have previously posted on his admirable support for gay civil unions and his admirable dismissal of Congressional Republicans.)

As WaPo's Chris Cillizza writes, Huntsman is on the rise, with former McCain adviser John Weaver feeding him "strategic guidance." And at a time when populist, anti-Washington rage is all the rage, not least among the right-wing teabagging crowd, Huntsman's outsider qualifications, even as the son of a billionaire and a rather wealthy man himself, could serve him well. Like Sarah Palin, he's the governor of an eccentric, solidly Republican state, but, unlike her, he actually seems to know what he's doing, seems to be fairly bright and sensible, seems to take politics seriously (and not as a vehicle for personal aggrandizement and the settling of personal feuds), and seems not to want to endear himself to the theocrats and libertarians who dominate the GOP (like Mitt Romney, who is clearly eyeing 2012, he's a Mormon, but his conservative credentials are far more genuine, and perhaps for that reason he's not nearly the sort of sucker-upper to the establishment that Romney is). Yeah, I'd say that should make us queasy.

Huntsman is still a relatively unknown figure (and it's not clear how he would conduct himself on the national stage). That can change in a hurry -- who was Bill Clinton in 1989? -- but long before a campaign against Obama, a campaign it's hard to imagine him winning, he would face the obstacle of securing his own party's nomination, and it's similarly hard to imagine the extremists who currently control the GOP taking to such an independent-minded renegade.

Huntsman may make us all a little queasy, but, thankfully, Republicans are just too stupid to know what's good for them.

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A Specter is haunting Congress

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Much ado on Tuesday about Arlen Specter's assertion, in an interview with the Times, that "[t]here's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner." (Creature recently posted on it here. For more Creature on Specter, see here.)

Specter has since claimed that he "misspoke." Sorry, but that's not good enough.

It's hard to get a sense of it from the transcript, but there seemed to be a certain light-heartedness to the interview -- and yet, it doesn't seem that Specter was joking. He said that the courts could still "do justice," which is pretty strong and decisive language. (Both the official recount and subsequent judicial rulings have declared Franken the winner. How is "justice" a Coleman victory?) Furthermore, when the interviewer, Deborah Solomon, noted, quite rightly, that the courts now handing the election to Coleman was as unlikely as Jerry Seinfeld "joining the Senate," Specter added that "it was about as likely as my becoming a Democrat." Which is to say: unlikely, but possible, if not, given Specter's recent conversion, desirable.

It is possible, of course, that Specter, a new Democrat, really did misspeak, that is, really did get it backwards -- and yet, he didn't correct himself, and he declared his support for Coleman even as he commented on becoming a Democrat. Given the context of his conversion, and the awareness of that context throughout the interview, can it really be that Specter forgot that he's no longer a Republican, or that he was just so used to backing Coleman, and Republicans generally, that he answered the question not thoughtfully but instinctively, knees jerking, that he's just not yet used to his "new teammates," that he just wasn't being "correct" or "precise"? (And what exactly does precision have to do with it? He was being pretty precise in his support Coleman, wasn't he? And it was only later, once his comments became a minor scandal, that correctness was the issue.) Hardly. He knew perfectly well what he was saying. He said it, and there's just no going back on it. And claiming that he just misspoke is blatant dishonesty.

As I explained here and here, I just can't welcome Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party with open arms. It's a huge embarrassment for the Republicans, which is indeed welcome, but the fact is, Specter just isn't a Democrat, and there's no reason to believe he'll be a good party man going forward. Sure, Specter found himself more and more marginalized in a Republican Party that has moved further to the right over the years, and I can understand why the Democratic Party may now be more to his liking, but he crossed the aisle not for policy reasons but for personal ones, that is, not to support, and to be a prominent part of, the Democratic majority, not to promote a liberal-progressive agenda for changing America, but to run for re-election next year as a Democrat, which is pretty much his only hope of winning, given that, as he admitted in the interview, his "prospects for winning the Republican primary were bleak."

I do hope that Specter is serious about "looking for more Democratic members," as he declared in his dishonest clarification, but he's got an awful lot to prove if he really wants to be a trusted member of his new party.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More Specter

By Creature

The Dems have unanimously voted to send Specter to the end of the seniority line in the Senate. Maybe that grass isn't so green on the (D) side of the aisle after all. Good.

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Specter rooting for Coleman over Franken

By Creature

Someone needs to explain to Arlen Specter what that little (D) after his name means. I didn't think it was possible, but I now despise him more than Joe Lieberman.

Update: Specter says he "conclusively misspoke." In that case, all is forgiven...

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Economic dodgeball

By Carl

This is
long overdue:

President Obama yesterday announced a major offensive against businesses and wealthy individuals who avoid U.S. taxes by parking cash overseas, a battle he said would be fought with new tax laws, new reporting requirements and an army of 800 new IRS agents.

During an event at the White House, Obama said his proposal would raise $210 billion over the next decade and make good on his campaign pledge to eliminate tax advantages for companies that ship jobs abroad.

"I want to see our companies remain the most competitive in the world. But the way to make sure that happens is not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores or transferring profits to overseas tax havens," Obama said, flanked by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman.

The nation's largest business groups immediately assailed the proposal, arguing that it would subject them to far higher taxes than their foreign competitors must pay and ultimately endanger U.S. jobs. Key Democrats were cool to the plan, and said Obama's ideas should be considered as part of a broader effort to streamline the nation's complex corporate tax code.

It's about time, says me.

The logic is very simple: if you incorporate in the largest economy on the planet and do not move your entire operation overseas (including the executive suites), then you should be subject to US tax on your income.

If you live in the United States and are a United States citizen, then you should be subject to United States tax on your income.

Period. End of discussion.

For far too long it's been way too easy for corporations and people to shelter income by offshoring it. That is, set up a foreign subsidiary (or bank account) and conduct business under that guise. You were exempt from paying tax on any of that income until you repatriated it.

Bollocks. There's a clear economic benefit from that income, even if it remains overseas, in terms of stock price and annual results. So either one of two things must happen: either that income doesn't count towards your annual results, or you owe taxes on it.

For you lay folks out there, please understand that there is little connection between a company's annual income as reported to shareholders and what it claims on taxes. This move is a major step towards what should be the ultimate goal: if you claim earnings to the public, then you owe taxes on those earnings and you should not be able to manipulate your taxable income so easily.

After all, if I tried to shelter American income offshore, I'd be hauled before a Tax Court in no time. But MicroSoft or ExxonMobil or Halliburton can pretty much with a straight face claim American income for the benefit of their shareholders and stock price, but suddenly hold out empty pockets for the tax man.

That's not right and it's not fair and must change. So kudos to President Obama for doing the right thing.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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Joe the Plumber, bigot

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Let's just call it like it is.

In an interview with Christianity Today, Samuel Wurzelbacher had this to say in response to a question about same-sex marriage:

At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary -- it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do -- what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they're people, and they're going to do their thing.

Right, because the worst slur he can think of is what you might call white people. He's the victim, isn't that his story? Isn't that how the right views itself? Isn't such perceived victimhood at the core of right-wing identity?

Right, because "God" is "pretty explicit" about everything. Just read the good Ol' Testament for some good ol' bloodthirsty bigotry. Is that what Joe would like, that sort of Biblical tyranny? And what are men and women for? To make babies? Is that the full extent of our humanity? Huh.

Oh, but we're supposed to love everyone. Well, not Joe. He has "some friends," but presumably he condemns them to hell, but not before not letting his children nowhere near them. How are they friends? Do they consider him a friend? If so, what sort of friendship is that?

But why bother trying to make sense of this. Joe is nothing if not an idiot who trips himself up in his own idiocy. That, and a shameless bigot. No wonder he continues to play so well among Limbaugh-Coulter conservatives.

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Top Ten Cloves: Possible reasons Google Flu Tracker didn't pick up Swine Flu

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Google flu tracker had trouble with latest virus

10. Having to accommodate Michelle Bachmann likely stressed the calculations

9. Coordinates, and program, set to track only a very, very small, very particular section of Palo Alto

8. It was in Beta Mode, Invitation Only

7. Had to throw out thousands of searches, from South Bend, Indiana, wishing Swine Flu on President Obama

6. Got sidetracked, tracking Arlen Specter's defection to Democratic Party

5. Couldn't decide , like it's cool logo, on the color palette for "Swine Flu"

4. An unusually high number of "I'm Feeling Lucky" Swine Flu searches skewed results of program

3. Because of Swine Flu, Google shut down its' bus services, so workers couldn't get in to read results

2. Got confused when they started calling it the "H1N1 virus."

1. Wasted weeks trying to find Swine Flu on Google Earth

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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I want you... to proselytize in Afghanistan (or, how the U.S. military is trying to convert Muslims to Christianity)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Ever wonder why the U.S. lacks credibility in the Muslim world, or why, more generally, the U.S. faces so much opposition around the world? Reasons abound, of course -- and I won't get into them here -- but obviously part of it is that it at least seems to be not so much a political (and cultural) hegemon as a religious one, that is, that the essence of American power is theocratic in nature, that is, that it desires not just to conquer the world one market at a time but to convert it one soul at a time. Officially, of course, the U.S. military denies, as it denies now, that it allows, let alone seeks, religious conversion. Unofficially, which is likely where the truth lies, well, that's a different matter, and you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to figure out what's really going on. And now there's some pretty solid evidence -- or, rather, yet more evidence -- of the unofficial aims of American power. Jeremy Scahill has the story at HuffPo:

New video evidence has surfaced showing that US military forces in Afghanistan have been instructed by the military's top chaplain in the country to "hunt people for Jesus" as they spread Christianity to the overwhelmingly Muslim population. Soldiers also have imported bibles translated into Pashto and Dari, the two dominant languages of Afghanistan. What's more, the center of this evangelical operation is at the huge US base at Bagram, one of the main sites used by the US military to torture and indefinitely detain prisoners.

In a video obtained by Al Jazeera and broadcast Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him."

There's a rule against such proselytizing -- it's called General Order Number 1 -- but apparently these crusaders are trying to get around it by calling the Bibles gifts. But that's nonsense, of course, and Scahill is right about how this will be perceived:

The fact that the video footage is being broadcast on Al Jazeera guarantees that it will be seen throughout the Muslim world. It is likely to add more credence to the perception that the US is engaging in a war on Islam with neo-crusader forces invading Muslim lands.

In other words, yet more self-inflicted damage for the U.S. -- in violation of official policy, perhaps, but does it even matter? The Pentagon can come up with whatever policies it wants. Ultimately, those policies are trumped by what happens on the ground -- and, clearly, some U.S. troops, spurred on by their religious higher-ups, are actively trying to convert Afghans to Christianity. Is it a war against terrorism, against the Taliban and al Qaeda? Is it a war for the security of the Af-Pak region? Is it a war for the Afghan people, for Afghan democracy? Or is it, as these crusaders would have it, a war for the souls of the Afghan people, a war for Christianity against other faiths? Even if it isn't, or isn't entirely, or even isn't mainly, a religious war, how, given the evidence, can doubters be blamed for thinking the worst?

Here's the video:

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Iraqi militias targeting gays

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A couple of weeks ago, Boatboy wrote about the horror Iraqi militias are inflicting on gays in that disturbingly violent country. NBC News has more on the recent "surge of violence":

Widespread violence is down across Baghdad, but not for one minority group.

Iraq's gay population is being targeted by militia groups in a wave of killings that has claimed the lives of up to 25 young men and boys in the past month.


Most of the attacks have happened in Baghdad's Shia neighborhoods, and many believe that religious leaders have used Friday sermons in Sadr City as a platform to incite hatred and violence toward homosexuals...

Posters and leaflets have been distributed in the Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shola, al-Hurya and Sadr City with orders to, "Cleanse Iraq from the crime of homosexuality."

Oh, what a lovely, lovely place, eh?

This sort of murderous abuse fills me with such rage I'm tempted to support a humanitarian war to liberate the people of Iraq from these thugs. (I'm not a pacifist, and I generally support the use of force for such purposes.) But, of course, a grossly mismanaged and utterly deceitful war was already waged (supposedly, at least in part) to liberate the people of Iraq (not to mention their oil reserves) from a certain thuggish dictator. How'd that turn out? Oh, not well, not well.

You see, the problem with the Iraq War and Occupation -- well, one of its problems -- is that it both unleashed the forces of violence and chaos in Iraq (which the warmongers should have seen coming, but didn't, or did, and didn't care) and restricted U.S. flexibility to respond militarily in future both in Iraq (where it is on the way out, as it should be -- there isn't much good it can do there) and elsewhere (it's sort of the Vietnam Syndrome revisited, as the war was waged so poorly that future military action, including humanitarian intervention, will be, initially at least, viewed with suspicion, if not objected to strongly even before the fact, even if initiated by Obama.)

So should the U.S. do something about the ongoing violence, including the humanitarian crisis, including what is being done to gays, in Iraq? Sure, but what can it do? It's an Iraqi problem now, and, of course, Iraq isn't at all prepared for it, let alone willing (one assumes) to do much about it. And it's an Iraqi problem now, a problem to which the U.S. is virtually powerless to respond, largely because Bush and Cheney et al. blew it.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Doin' ninety and still flyin'

By Carl

I remember the first time I heard
Pete Seeger. I was a young child, and he appeared on the TeeVee. Maybe it was Ed Sullivan. Maybe it was Hullabaloo. Knowing Pete Seeger, it was likely on the news at a protest.

He turned ninety this weekend.

Pete Seeger was one of the pioneers of the protest-folk music movement. Raised by a father who was a music professor at UC Berkeley, Seeger counted among his influences Lincoln Steffens, a muckraking journalist who worked tirelessly to cover corruptions of power in America, and also was one of the first ardent American socialists.

You've heard Seeger's music all your life: "If I Had A Hammer," "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" (still the only song ever lifted whole from the Bible).

Seeger sees injustice, and speaks out. He sees the tragedy of environmental degradation, and speaks out. He sees criminality from those in power, and speaks out.

And he sees dischord and strives for unity. His concerts have always featured bounties of sing-alongs, creating one voice out of many.

The list of people he has influenced is immeasurable, spanning American music from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against The Machine and Ani DeFranco.

I learned guitar playing his songs. I think I can still, 35 years after setting mine down, play "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" from memory.

I say all this, because I think it's important to note a shift in American culture. With the occasional exception (Springsteen, for one), no artist today has the power that a simple man with a banjo had to shape public opinion.

Sure, you had Bob Geldof and Band-Aid. That was a one-off, tho, a moment in time when the stars aligned and the world came together to unite against a famine in a terrible cauldron of pain and suffering.

And other artists have come together regularly to promote and publicize causes, like Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and the rest for Farm Aid.

Seeger, as well as Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and that whole gang or even John Lennon later in life, these folks could get up nightly and raise the banners of activism, and people were persuaded and went out and worked for a cause.

We don't have that attention span any longer, and I mourn a little the loss of that.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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Fox Nation - are you man enough?

by Capt. Fogg

Fox Nation -- do you have the stomach for it?
"It's Time to Say NO to Biased Media and Say YES to Fair Play and Free Speech."

is the curtain from behind which they spew out biased interpretations as freely as Fox News ever did. Fox Nation is a month old "Conservative opinion" site that is by their own description " for those opposed to intolerance," and of course intolerance means that gagging sound one makes when trying to swallow the allegedly conservative outrages against the misrepresentations they perpetrate -- just like Fox News itself.
"Why aren't white males being considered for the Supreme Court?"

asks this fine publication today. Of course the court always has been and still remains mostly white male, but it's good for readership to get the skinheads and Aryan nation idiots in an uproar about their being persecuted. I really don't have the stomach for it, but I'm sure they're opposing intolerance here in some obscure fashion.
"attempts to monopolize opinion or suppress freedom of thought [and] expression,"

are what they oppose as long as those thoughts don't include any objection to pointing an M1 Garand military rifle at Barak Obama and Jesse Jackson.
Coincidence? Only their psychiatrist knows for sure. Of course I've been thoroughly excoriated on right wing sites for suggesting that "heads should roll" in the hate radio business and it was interpreted in fair and balanced fashion that I was calling for themurder and ritual decapitation of Rush Limbaugh, so I really don't feel any inhibition in asking whether this is a subliminal thing, meant to make the bigots giggle and their trigger fingers wiggle or pure accident. It could be that, certainly and I'm being fair and balanced about it.

Cross posted from (fair and balanced) Human Voices

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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"The ARM recast implosion, the second major foreclosure wave, is on its way. I don't want to hear any of this 'nobody could have predicted' crap from Larry and Timmeh." -- Atrios, sending out warning flares, yet again, that the mortgage crisis is far from over.

President Obama missed a chance at stemming the crisis by not strongly backing the mortgage cramdown provision. Like it, or not, he now owns the next wave of defaults and the mess it leaves behind.

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By Creature

As the GOP launches one re-branding effort after another, let's remember that the election of Michael Steele to the top of the RNC perch was one of the first of these efforts (and we all know how successful that has been). Epic flail.

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By Creature

I don't want to be an ideological purist. I appreciate that not all Democrats come from liberal states. And, after watching the GOP eat themselves from the inside out based on purity, I don't want the Democratic party to devolve in the same way. However, after watching Arlen Specter's first week as a Democrat it's hard not to want some sort of purity. Or, if not purity, some sort of sign that he will actually support a Democratic plan. Is that too much to ask?

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Reaction in review (May 3, 2009)

By Carol Gee

A weekend's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By J. Thomas Duffy: "Top Ten Cloves - Reasons Arlen Specter became a Democrat" -- Duffy does one of his famous count-downs, ending with a priceless portrait of The new Dem Senator.

By Carol Gee: "Rule of law issues explored" -- This post warns that a lack of accountability for the previous administration could provoke repeated Supreme Court rulings against the leftover Bush DOJ legal arguments.

By Mustang Bobby: "Mock stars" -- To quote Bobby's premise, "The larger issue here isn't just the fact that the right wing has this delusional idea that they've been playing nice while the liberals have been vicious; it's that they really hate it when they're made fun of."


By Creature: "First in Line" -- Creature concludes, "Under George Bush the American worker would have been at the back of the line getting mugged by the banks all the while, at least under Obama they were at the front and protected."

By J. Thomas Duffy: "It will never be a happy 'Mission Accomplished' Day" --
On the 6th anniversary of the original event, Duffy reminds us of the mainstream media's lame coverage back then, saying, "Dwarf, finks, phonies, and frauds, the bunch of 'em. . ;" includes Bonus Links.

(Cross-posted at Behind the Links.)

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Top Ten Cloves - Reasons Arlen Specter became a Democrat

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Specter: I did not say I'll be a loyal Democrat

10. Matter of practicality - Can learn using Twitter, and The Google, faster with the Democrats

9. Part of lobbying effort for Obama to name him to Supreme Court

8. Totally embarrassed by alternative budget PartyofNoicans turned in

7. Really, really wants to play on that new Swing Set Obama's bought for daughters

6. Was hoping to do it earlier in month, just so he could angle meeting The Grateful Dead

5. Just got caught up in all the "100 Day" hullabaloo

4. Only trying to get as far away from Michelle Bachmann as he can

3. Lost bet with Mitch McConnell - Doesn't agree meeting Rush Limbaugh is "Awesome"

2. Figured, going Democrat would bump him up in line for Swine Flu shot

1. "I did what!" ... Last time he has "more than a few" beers at a Phillies game

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Rule of Law Issues Explored --

By Carol Gee

Supreme Court Justice David Souter plans to retire after his successor is chosen and confirmed. President Obama has committed to have the new justice in place when the Supreme Court reconvenes. The nomination process will consume an enormous amount of time, media attention and legislative energy between now and October.


Early signs of back to Bush -- By the time the new court convenes, the Obama Justice Department should have its act together. Many of us have been very concerned as we get reports that the new government's lawyers have not stepped aside from many of the questionable Bush Justice Department court arguments.

Detainees at Gitmo -- Davis Cynamon, an attorney for 4 Gitmo detainees has been fighting for their due process rights, accuses the DoJ of "abandonment of the rule of law," according to TPMMuckraker's post, "Not Just State Secrets: Obama Continuing Bush's Stonewalling On Gitmo Cases, Lawyer Claims," (4/10/09). To quote:

"The Department of Justice has been doing everything in its power to delay and obstruct these cases," said Cynamon, whose clients were picked up in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in the period after the 2001 U.S invasion of Afghanistan. "They're not doing anything to move the case along, and doing everything to avoid it."

Asked whether he had observed a shift of any kind in the government's approach since the Obama administration came into office, Cynamon flatly replied: "None whatsoever."

This kind of leftover Bush court stance has been difficult for many of us to understand, given the high quality of President Obama's nominees for his key legal positions.

Nominations blocked by Senate -- The nominations of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and Harold Hongju Koh to serve as Legal Advisor to the State Department are being held up by conservatives in the Senate, says the Firedoglake post, "Legal wrangling: Why the fuss about legal nominees?" (4/9/09). To quote (emphasis mine):

The nominees themselves are so well-qualified, so clearly within the progressive political mainstream, and the attacks against them so frenzied, one is left scratching one’s head and wondering: what on earth is going on here?

. . . [Senator John] Cornyn castigates Johnsen for her “prolific and often strident criticism of the legal underpinnings of the previous administration's counterterror policies.” . . . Johnsen’s criticisms of the legal underpinnings of Bush’s counterrorism policies have been right on the mark. The Bush administration itself was forced to renounce some of the OLC memos Johnsen criticized because they were so profoundly flawed. And let’s not forget that the Supreme Court has had four opportunities to review Bush counterterrorism policies and has struck the policies down each time. That’s because Bush had a tendency to ignore the law. John Cornyn doesn’t care; Dawn Johnsen does.

. . . The bottom line is that the stakes here are thus much higher than whether Obama gets his first choice to fill these slots. And they go beyond how the rule of law will apply at the Justice and State Departments.

Most observers agree: the attacks on Johnsen and Koh are spring training for the coming attacks against Supreme Court and other judicial nominees (Koh himself may be one) who display a similar commitment to the rule of law. That’s why it’s so important to expose what’s behind the current attacks, and defeat them.

We can predict that Republican right-wingers and the like will stage protests in all forms against whomever the President nominates to the Supreme Court. They will get media attention, they will pressure senators, and they will be extremely visible. Those of us on the other side are demanding Constitutional stances from the new administration. We must also support for our opponents' right to speak freely, even if outrageously.

Citizens must act to make our wishes known to our President and to our elected representatives. These fundamentals are beautifully explained in Firedoglake's post, "Peaceable Assembly; Petitioning to Redress Grievances (4/8/09). To quote:

The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights and they became law in 1791. Among the first of these are the rights peacefully to assemble, to exercise free speech, and to petition the government to redress grievances. They are first because they are fundamental to the preservation of representative government.

. . . First Amendment rights have a kind of "Use 'em or Lose 'em" quality. We exercise them to protect us against their silent or notorious abridgment. We assert them to remind public officials of their public promises. Most of all, we use them to make our views known and to encourage others to adopt them, Congress and the President included. We do not use them in order to give an unruly government an excuse to abridge them further.

The rule of law was explored in today's post. President Obama will no doubt appoint a person to the highest court in the land of whom we can be proud. And it will inevitable spark a big fight. Between now and then it is my expectation that Attorney General Holder and his stable of lawyers will have gotten a handle on how they can roll back the most dangerous and destructive of the Bush legal positions. If they do not, the Supreme Court will be forced to rule against them over and over until they finally "get it."

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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