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Archive for January 20th, 2009

Arrest Bush Now !!!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 12:31 pm by HL

Democrats.com

Sunday evening I spoke on a panel in Washington, D.C., about war crimes, and in walked a group of spirited activists led by Laurie Arbeiter wearing “Arrest Bush” sweatshirts and carrying “Arrest Bush” signs, and they were absolutely dumfounded by what they had just experienced. They’d spent the day at the train station in D.C. and on the streets of D.C. as excited Obama celebrators poured in by the tens of thousands, and they’d been unable to walk a dozen steps without people stopping them to have their photo taken with an “Arrest Bush” sign. If you’re not in DC, you can sign the petition yourself or print out a PDF to collect signatures in the real world at http://convictbushcheney.org. This is not a fantasy, boys and girls. The New York Times’ Scott Shane and Attorney General Mukasey agree with me that prosecution is now going to be hard to avoid. When even Nancy Pelosi has figured out where we’re going, you know the winds of change are blowing strong. That’s the dangerous thing about telling people that anything is possible: they’ll end up insisting on what they really want. And they want lots of new laws, but they very dearly want us to start enforcing the old ones too.
tags: bush, moron, insane, war criminal, obama


Front Row Seat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:42 am by HL

Front Row Seat

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What Can Obama Learn From Bush?

The Bush administration’s specific failures—in foreign and domestic policy and on matters related to civil liberties—are clear enough. Yet the deeper cause of the public’s disaffection goes beyond these specifics.

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August J. Pollak: Change

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:41 am by HL

August J. Pollak: Change
Never forget. To see more of August J. Pollak’s cartoon “Some Guy With a Website,” check out the archive….

John Tepper Marlin: A Breakthrough in the Presidency! (Now What?)
One year ago, the United States seemed likely to get our first woman president or our first non-lily-white president. It wasn’t clear which. Today we…

Sam Adams, Portland Mayor, Admits Relationship With Teen Following Year Of Denial
PORTLAND, Ore. — More than a year after denying it, the newly elected mayor of Portland has admitted having a sexual relationship with a male…

Jeff Chang: Notes On The Eve Of Day One
Barack Obama was born in Hawai’i only two years after my father’s generation voted for statehood, and that small fact illustrates the deep emotional cross-currents…

Obama’s Legoland Inauguration (VIDEO)
Legoland California swore in its Lego Obama last Friday and will recreate the historic inauguration through Memorial Day. The LA Times has the story: President-elect…


Will falsely claimed 2006 extension of Voting Rights Act “was based on the evidence used for the 1975 extension”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Will falsely claimed 2006 extension of Voting Rights Act “was based on the evidence used for the 1975 extension”

In his January 18 Washington Post column, headlined “Voting Rights Anachronism,” George F. Will falsely claimed that the 25-year extension in 2006 of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 “was based on the evidence used for the 1975 extension — that of the 1972 and some earlier presidential elections.” However, as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stated in a May 2008 ruling, before extending the VRA in 2006, Congress “held extensive hearings and compiled a massive legislative record documenting contemporary racial discrimination in covered states” [emphasis added]. Indeed, as their committee reports make clear, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees examined evidence of discrimination since 1982 — the year of the last major reauthorization — in extending the VRA.

Section 5 of the VRA requires certain jurisdictions — including several states — to “preclear” changes in voting procedures with the Justice Department or with the D.C. District Court before implementing such changes.

In its May 2008 ruling on Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Mukasey — the case Will discussed and which will be argued before the Supreme Court — the D.C. District Court stated that “given the extensive legislative record documenting contemporary racial discrimination in voting in covered jurisdictions, Congress’s decision to extend section 5 [of the VRA] for another twenty-five years was rational and therefore constitutional.” The court also noted that “[o]ne of the comprehensive reports Congress requested and relied heavily upon came from the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act. … The Commission held ten hearings around the country, heard testimony from more than one hundred witnesses, and compiled a record of several thousand pages.” The Commission’s final report, titled “Protecting Minority Voters: The Voting Rights Act at Work, 1982-2005,” examined “whether serious and widespread vote discrimination has continued since the Act’s last major reauthorization in 1982.”

A May 2006 report by the House Committee on the Judiciary, submitted by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), found that “vestiges of discrimination in voting continue to exist as demonstrated by second generation barriers constructed to prevent minority voters from fully participating in the electoral process.” The report stated that during oversight hearings, the committee examined evidence of the VRA’s effectiveness “over the last 25 years” and “assembled over 12,000 pages of testimony, documentary evidence and appendices from over 60 groups and individuals, including several Members of Congress.” From the report:

Prior to introducing H.R. 9, the House Committee on the Judiciary held ten oversight hearings before the Subcommittee on the Constitution examining the effectiveness of the temporary provisions of the VRA over the last 25 years. During these oversight hearings, the Subcommittee heard oral testimony from 39 witnesses, including State and local elected officials, scholars, attorneys, and other representatives from the voting and civil rights community. The Committee also received additional written testimony from the Department of Justice, other interested governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens. In all, the Committee assembled over 12,000 pages of testimony, documentary evidence and appendices from over 60 groups and individuals, including several Members of Congress.

The report later stated in its findings section that the evidence “over the last 25 years” supported the reauthorization of the VRA’s “temporary provisions” (including Section 5) as “both justified and necessary.” From the report:

The Committee hearing record reflects the breadth of interests represented during the hearings and provides the Committee with insight into the voting experiences of minority citizens over the last 25 years. The direct testimony provided by the witnesses, together with the investigative reports submitted, support the Committee’s conclusion that the gains made under the VRA are the direct result of the VRA’s temporary provisions, and that reauthorization of these provisions is both justified and necessary.

The report stated of Section 5 of the VRA that evidence since 1982 demonstrated that “attempts to discriminate persist and evolve.” From the report:

Section 5, which requires jurisdictions covered by the temporary provisions to preclear all voting changes before they may be enforced, ensures that such voting changes do not discriminate against minority voters, and has been an effective shield against new efforts employed by covered jurisdictions. The Department of Justice reported that roughly between 4,000 and 6,000 submissions have been received annually from jurisdictions covered by the VRA. Since 1982, the Department objected to more than 700 voting changes that have been determined to be discriminatory, preventing such changes from being enforced by covered jurisdictions. The Committee received testimony revealing that more Section 5 objections were lodged between 1982 and 2004 than were interposed between 1965 and 1982 and that such objections did not encompass minor inadvertent changes. The changes sought by covered jurisdictions were calculated decisions to keep minority voters from fully participating in the political process. This increased activity shows that attempts to discriminate persist and evolve, such that Section 5 is still needed to protect minority voters in the future.

Like the House’s May 2006 report, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s July 2006 report also examined data and cases since 1982, in supporting the VRA’s reauthorization.

From Will’s January 18 Washington Post column:

That year, because they had used many tactics to suppress voting by blacks, six states and some jurisdictions in other states were required to seek permission — “pre-clearance” — from the Justice Department for even minor changes in voting procedures. In 1975, the act was extended to cover Texas and two other states. The act’s “bailout” provision, which ostensibly provides a path by which jurisdictions can end federal supervision, is so burdensome as to be often unusable. The pre-clearance requirements, which were originally intended to exist for five years, have been extended four times, most recently in 2006 — for 25 years. The Senate voted the extension to 2031 unanimously, which is evidence that genuflection had replaced reflection.

Now, however, a Texas utility district that did not exist until 1986 and that has never had a voting-related complaint says that the bailout provision has been virtually nullified by judicial interpretations. It further argues that the pre-clearance requirement — arguably the most intrusive law abridging states’ sovereignty — was a response to a vanished emergency and is, after 44 years of racial progress, an indefensible violation of the Constitution’s federal structure. The district argues that it “consigns broad swaths of the nation to apparently perpetual federal receivership” based on absurdly out-of-date evidence.

In 1966, the Supreme Court said the pre-clearance requirement was a “rational” response to that era’s crisis. In 1997, however, the court held that, to be justified, such an infringement of states’ self-government must demonstrate “congruence and proportionality” concerning the problem it addresses. The 25-year extension in 2006, which the Texas jurisdiction challenges, is incongruent and disproportionate because it was based on the evidence used for the 1975 extension — that of the 1972 and some earlier presidential elections. So the 2006 renewal is itself evidence that there are no contemporary findings of unconstitutional behavior proportional to the Voting Rights Act’s sweeping 1965 remedy. In 2031, which will be 59 years after the 1972 election, Congress probably will reflexively extend this receivership — unless the court insists upon the pertinence of evidence.


Russia Will Be a Troublemaker in 2009

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

Russia Will Be a Troublemaker in 2009
The world enters 2009 with Russia in play in a way it hasn’t seen in decades. The relevant comparison isn’t 1998, when the Russians engaged in default and devaluation but remained within the bounds of their existing political and economic system (as Lenin said, two steps forward, one step back). The history to consider is 1989–as key aspects of the Russian system could change for the worse. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin certainly isn’t a risk taker. The carefully managed “transition” to President Dmitry Medvedev and the extension of presidential terms to six years underscore that Putin prefers to leave as little as possible to chance. That’s more ominously obvious in the recent tightening of laws on treason.


DOD Pundit Report Finds No Wrongdoing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

DOD Pundit Report Finds No Wrongdoing
The DOD’s just-released report on its TV pundit hiring program finds that the department did not violate prohibitions on using public finds for propaganda by ceding the networks with retired military analysts (RMAs). Here’s the key passage: The Comptroller General…

Pentagon Releases Report On TV Pundits Program
It’s Friday at 4pm on the last business day of the Bush administration. So of course, the Pentagon has just released its report on its TV pundit program, which it used to promote the Iraq war, that the New York…


The Rise of Barack Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

The Rise of Barack Obama
The Washington Post has a must-read piece on the political rise of Barack Obama.

“There is improbability in the making of any president, some more than others, none comparable to Obama… Obama is the creation of restlessness, searching, odd connections. He springs out of this wide world, defined by disparate locations that together enfold many of the central themes and movements of modern times.”


Drowning Our Sorrows, Lifting a Glass to Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:34 am by HL

Drowning Our Sorrows, Lifting a Glass to Obama
We’ll all sober up after inauguration day, but meanwhile let’s enjoy some fizzy relief over George W. Bush’s departure and a changing of the guard.

Migrant Worker at Inaugural Ball Shares the Gliteratti’s Hopes for Obama
Despite the disparities between her and the party-goers around her, one cleaner feels a sense of unity around Obama’s presidency.

War Crime Trials for Bush? Try Fat Fees on the Speaking Circuit
He’s the most loathed political figure since the advent of public opinion polling, but Bush is set to rake in big bucks on the rubber-chicken circuit.

Obama’s Team Signals It’s Taking the Taxpayer Ripoff Route to Saving Our Financial System
Obama’s team is talking a whole new economic voodoo: the belief that by performing elaborate financial rituals we can keep dead banks walking.


The Two Challenges Posed by Dr. King

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:33 am by HL

The Two Challenges Posed by Dr. King
As is perhaps appropriate, the press, the pundits, and our political leaders often turn at this time of year to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” as the touchstone of discussions of his life and work….

Barack Hussein Obama is Human
Barack Hussein Obama is human–he is also a young and ambitious politician that likely already has his eye on a second presidential term. This all may sound self-evident, but listening to the expectations Americans and much of the world have…

Helping Homeowners Without Helping Banks: The Economist’s Solution
Why is that every time people in Washington come up with a scheme to help homeowners most of the money ends up in the pockets of the bankers? Most of the latest plans center on the idea of buying up…






LGBT Community Upset That HBO Didn?t Air Bishop V. Gene Robinson?s Invocation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 20th, 2009 5:32 am by HL

LGBT Community Upset That HBO Didn?t Air Bishop V. Gene Robinson?s Invocation
Last week, progressives cheered the news that the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church in New Hampshire and the first openly gay priest ordained by a major Christian denomination, would be delivering the invocation at President-elect Obama’s opening ceremony. Yesterday, however, viewers watching HBO — which had exclusive coverage of […]

Last week, progressives cheered the news that the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church in New Hampshire and the first openly gay priest ordained by a major Christian denomination, would be delivering the invocation at President-elect Obama’s opening ceremony.

Yesterday, however, viewers watching HBO — which had exclusive coverage of the opening ceremony — didn’t get to see Robinson’s invocation; the network never aired it. Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend wrote:

Remember, this was the supposed salve on the wound to the LGBT community for the upcoming high-profile appearance of Rick Warren at the actual inauguration on Tuesday, which will be seen by millions and will float out there on YouTube in perpetuity. I had no illusions that Robinson’s appearance would reach the same level of exposure as Warren’s, but damn — no broadcast of it at all?

The site AfterElton.com contacted HBO yesterday, regarding the omission of Robinson from the network’s broadcast. HBO responded (via e-mail): “The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show.” Michael Jensen of AfterElton wrote that it was unclear “as to whether or not that meant that HBO was contractually prevented from airing the pre-show.”

Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today managed to shoot video of Robinson’s invocation. Watch it:

Robinson’s address yesterday was also marked by protesters from a group called “Brother Ruben and the Official Street Preachers” who shouted phrases such as, “Jesus doesn’t love homosexuals.”

Pam’s House Blend has a round-up of reaction from LGBT bloggers here.

Podesta: ?Let Barack have his Blackberry.?
In today’s Los Angeles Times, Obama transition co-chair John Podesta writes of his unique experience from being a keen eyewitness to Barack Obama’s decision-making over the past few months. “[Obama’s] politics are interactive, solutions-oriented and open to the citizens,” Podesta writes. He adds that Obama’s Blackberry enhances his decision-making by helping him reach outside his […]

In today’s Los Angeles Times, Obama transition co-chair John Podesta writes of his unique experience from being a keen eyewitness to Barack Obama’s decision-making over the past few months. “[Obama’s] politics are interactive, solutions-oriented and open to the citizens,” Podesta writes. He adds that Obama’s Blackberry enhances his decision-making by helping him reach outside his inner circle. “Let the man have his Blackberry,” Podesta told senior staffers. “An off-line Obama isn’t just bad for Barack. It’s bad for all of us.” He concludes:

oberry.jpgToday, thousands of reporters, pundits and bloggers will produce instant analyses of the president’s swearing-in. By dawn Wednesday, there will be a comprehensive document in President Obama’s in-box summarizing the reaction, highlighting key opinion makers and linking to original sources across the Internet. Obama will surely flip through them.

But I know that he will have gotten his first feedback hours earlier, from a friend, far beyond the Beltway. On the Blackberry he’s keeping. And knowing that gives me hope.

Obama recently told CNN that it looks like he’ll be able to “hang onto” his Blackberry. “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry,” he told CNBC. “They’re going to pry it out of my hands.” As Matt Yglesias argued recently, if the legal interpretation of the Presidential Records Act prohibits Obama from using a Blackberry, “then that means you need a new law.”