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Archive for January 30th, 2009

Making Him Do It

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:42 am by HL

Making Him Do It

Intragovernmental squabbling probably makes the conflict-averse Obama uncomfortable. But the “make him do it” dynamic could finally bring the center of Washington’s political debate closer to the progressive center of American public opinion.

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Henryk A. Kowalczyk: Obama’s First Fault as President

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:41 am by HL

Henryk A. Kowalczyk: Obama’s First Fault as President
Most Americans are prepared for the departure of analog TV. Those lost in transition would start screaming on 2/18, and within 24 hours, 90% of them would be assisted by someone.

Harvey Wasserman: This President’s Day, Remember that George Washington Raised Hemp & Probably Smoked it
It is time to end Hemp/Marijuana Prohibition. With Bush gone and a new generation taking charge, we may finally have a chance to do it.

Obama’s Security Alarms Some VIP Donors
Downtown Washington resembled a militarized zone last week for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, but some major contributors who had direct contact with Obama…

Obama Allies Use Limbaugh To Hammer GOP On Stimulus
Key Democratic groups are launching a series of radio advertisements on Friday designed to tie Republicans to Rush Limbaugh and put pressure on GOP Senators…

Jane Hamsher: I Am Become Rahm — Destroyer of Bipartisanship
Seems the Republicans don’t like White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “We won the election, we wrote the bill,” said Pelosi as many…


Obama Should Act on Medical Marijuana

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Obama Should Act on Medical Marijuana
During the campaign, President Obama said he would stop federal raids of medical marijuana clubs in states (like California) that had passed medical marijuana laws. Yet federal agents raided medical marijuana dispensaries, including the Patient to Patient Collective in South Lake Tahoe, two days after his inauguration. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that agents seized between 5 and 10 pounds of marijuana. The Marijuana Policy Project, which wants to legalize marijuana, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of “defying” Obama’s position on medical marijuana and “called on the president to immediately replace Bush administration holdovers at DEA.

Dancing Among Landmines–The Obama Al-Arabiya Interview
President Barack Obama is being praised for choosing an Arabic TV network for his first formal television interview on the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel. I think we can all appreciate the thinking behind such bold outreach, given that the media at home has chortled to the world that our new guy’s unusual background, in sort of Zen-fashion, has befuddled the radical Islamic movement. The subtext of our satisfaction has been that Obama–African-American, son of a Muslim father, erstwhile resident of Muslim Indochina, with Hussein as his middle name–makes it far harder for the Arab Islamic world to typecast America unfairly as the Great Satan than would be true in the case of an evangelical, Texas-drawling, hard-core conservative Chief Executive like good ‘ole boy George Bush. True enough, no doubt.


Keying Off Obama, ACLU Asks For Bush Torture Memos

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

Keying Off Obama, ACLU Asks For Bush Torture Memos
Those directives issued by President Obama last week, reversing the Bush administration’s policy of secrecy, have really shaken things up. Earlier this week, the House Judiciary committee subponaed Karl Rove for testimony in the US Attorney firings matter. That move…

Salazar Could Reopen Interior Probes
Change may be coming to one of the departments of the federal government that was most damaged under the Bush administration. Ken Salazar, the new Interior Secretary, said at a White House briefing this afternoon that he would undertake a…






Families Demand Justice for Abuse and Deaths of Wrongfully Detained Sons at Guantanamo

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

Families Demand Justice for Abuse and Deaths of Wrongfully Detained Sons at Guantanamo

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Obama Gathering a Flock of Hawks to Oversee U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:34 am by HL

Obama Gathering a Flock of Hawks to Oversee U.S. Foreign Policy
Most of Obama’s key foreign policy appointments seem more committed to military dominance than international law.

Stop Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic and Nationalize the Damn Banks
It’s the best possible course to rescue our economy at this point; all the other options would be disastrous.

Hey Natalie Dylan, Here’s Some Advice for Selling Your Viginity
First off, let’s make sure some religious group doesn’t buy it and decide to keep it intact forever.

Will Bush’s Secret Legal Memos Be Released?
An interactive guide to the Bush administration’s classified legal opinions in the ‘War on Terror’ reveals how much we still don’t know.


Shovel This

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:33 am by HL

Shovel This
Transit is not stimulus. Sorry. If I was king, I’d spend about $200 billion for SUPERTRAINS. We could use high-speed rail lines in California, the Texas Triangle, Florida, the Midwest hub, and even Rep. John Mica’s (R-FL) ginormous D.C. to…

Poor Women are Not “Pork”
Responding to President Obama’s request, House Democrats cut a provision from the stimulus package that would expand contraceptive family planning for Medicaid patients–usually poor women and girls. He, in turn, was responding to Republicans’ opposition to expanding Medicaid family…

Why are the Feds Bailing Out the Highway Privatization Industry?
At Progressive States, we’ve highlighted the potential and actual taxpayer ripoffs hidden in the industry siren song of selling off public assets like highways. ?States gets what looks like an attratctive upfront payment, but lose in the long-term from lost…


Torture Lover John Yoo Excoriates Obama For Banning Torture

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:32 am by HL

Torture Lover John Yoo Excoriates Obama For Banning Torture
John Yoo, infamous author of the Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of torture on suspected terrorists, slams President Obama for banning torture in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, gravely warning that Obama “may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil.” Throughout the article, Yoo insists that torture is America’s […]

yoo-hands1.jpgJohn Yoo, infamous author of the Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of torture on suspected terrorists, slams President Obama for banning torture in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, gravely warning that Obama “may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil.”

Throughout the article, Yoo insists that torture is America’s most effective weapon against terrorists and warns that without it, the U.S. will be incapable of intelligence-gathering:

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial. […]

Relying on the civilian justice system not only robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks, it provides an opportunity for our enemies to obtain intelligence on us.

Considering the Bush administration repeatedly insisted its use of coercive techniques was “limited,” it would be a far stretch even for loyal Bushies to suggest that torture is not the one and only method to obtaining information. And as ThinkProgress has made clear again and again, numerous intelligence experts and real interrogators agree that, far from being “the most effective intelligence tool,” torture simply doesn’t work.

Yoo continues his screed by making up facts about Obama’s ban:

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. … His new order amounts to requiring — on penalty of prosecution — that CIA interrogators be polite.

Yoo has no idea what he’s talking about. Nothing requires anyone to “be polite” — although the rapport building method has often proved to be interrogators’ most effective technique. And the notion that good-cop/bad-cop would be banned is simply false, Media Matters pointed out earlier this week:

In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”

It’s no secret that Yoo is an ardent torture enthusiast: He famously said that only those techniques that inflict pain equivalent to “death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions” constitute torture, and last year refused to agree that the president could not order a detainee buried alive. With Obama signaling a clean break from the Bush administration’s terrorism policies, it’s no wonder Yoo is desperate to restore his crumbling torture regime.

Who Are The 11 Democrats Who Voted Against Obama’s Economic Plan And Why Did They Do It?
Yesterday, Republicans rebuffed President Obama’s efforts at bipartisanship by refusing to deliver a single vote in favor of his economic recovery bill. Many Republicans appear to be clinging to the strategy of Rush Limbaugh, who has openly declared his hope that Obama fails. While Republicans stood united against Obama, 11 Democrats broke with the President. Although […]

Yesterday, Republicans rebuffed President Obama’s efforts at bipartisanship by refusing to deliver a single vote in favor of his economic recovery bill. Many Republicans appear to be clinging to the strategy of Rush Limbaugh, who has openly declared his hope that Obama fails.

While Republicans stood united against Obama, 11 Democrats broke with the President. Although there were some concerns about the stimulus plan expressed by progressives — such as Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who felt like the spending provisions did not go far enough — they still voted for the bill because the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. The 11 Democrats who voted no were almost exclusively from conservative districts:

Allan Boyd (D-FL)
Bobby Bright (D-AL)
Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Brad Ellsworth (D-IN)
Parker Griffith (D-AL)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
Frank Kratovil (D-MD)
Walt Minnick (D-ID)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Heath Shuler (D-NC)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)

Six of 11 (the italicized names) are members of Blue Dogs Coalition, which expressed concerns about the fiscal impact of the bill. But the Blog Dogs had extracted a pledge from Obama to balance the government’s checkbook, enabling most of them to support the economic stimulus plan. As for the others, here were some of the motivating factors.

Reps. Bright and Griffith — both freshmen congressmen from Alabama — voted along with many of their home-state colleagues against the bill. Rep. Artur Davis was the only Alabamian to vote for it. Both congressmen had been targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee before the vote.

Freshman Rep. Kanjorski had been a skeptic of the stimulus plan, claiming it was put together too quickly and wouldn’t help the economy in the short term.

Freshman Rep. Kratovil barely squeaked out a win in a conservative Maryland district. Just days before the stimulus vote, Kratovil’s opponent in the last election announced he was planning to run again.

And finally, freshman Rep. Minnick told the LA Times today that he comes from “a very conservative district” in Idaho and said many people in his district listened to talk radio. “They listen to everybody, of course, and I’m influenced by them,” Minnick said.


Gov. Rod Blagojevich Delivers Remarks at Impeachment Trial

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 30th, 2009 5:31 am by HL

Gov. Rod Blagojevich Delivers Remarks at Impeachment Trial
SPEAKER: GOV. ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, D-ILL. [*] BLAGOJEVICH: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Senate, thank you very much. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here today and present my closing argument, my chance to be able to talk to you, talk to the people of Illinois, and talk to anybody else who…

President Decries ‘Shameful’ Bonuses For Wall St. CEOs
President Obama yesterday scolded Wall Street bankers who received millions of dollars in bonuses last year, calling the payouts “shameful” and chiding the executives for a lack of personal responsibility at a precarious time for the nation’s economy.

Senate Passes Health Insurance Bill for Children
The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation yesterday to provide health insurance to 11 million low-income children, a bill that would for the first time spend federal money to cover children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants.

System to Verify Worker Legality Is Delayed Again
The Obama administration is delaying a planned crackdown on federal contractors that hire illegal immigrants to determine if the electronic system set up to check workers’ documents can handle the surge in workload, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday.