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Archive for May 10th, 2009

Brit Scores ‘Best Job in the World’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:39 am by HL

Brit Scores ‘Best Job in the World’

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On Saturday, 34-year-old Ben Southall became the luckiest son of a gun in the world. As of July 1, Southall will become the guardian of tropical Hamilton Island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Duties include swimming, relaxing and blogging as part of a $1.7 million tourism publicity campaign for the area. Sorry ladies, he’s already taken.

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Mom’s Dreary Retirement Prospects

Not to ruin brunch, but Mom’s probably not doing very well. Not if she’s already retired, not if she’s a baby boomer approaching retirement, not if she’s a younger woman who hasn’t yet given retirement a thought.

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Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore At White House Correspondents’ Dinner (VIDEO)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore At White House Correspondents’ Dinner (VIDEO)
Hollywood has descended upon Washington D.C. tonight for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Journalists are escorting their guests, and Wolf Blitzer brought Ashton Kutcher…

White House Correspondents’ Dinner: Wanda Sykes Knocks Sarah Palin Over Abstinence
More coverage of the White House Correspondents Association dinner: watch complete speeches by President Obama and Wanda Sykes, and see a slideshow of celebs and…

Texas Charging Rape Victims For Rape Kits (VIDEO)
Via Think Progress comes this shocking CNN report that Texas is charging women thousands of dollars for the rape kits they use at the hospital….

Joe Cutbirth: How can Texas ask women to pay for rape kits?
On rare occasion, journalists shine a light on a public policy that is so disgusting it literally stuns you – just takes your breath away…

Melinda Katz: Mother’s Day Thoughts from a Political Mom
Like many women in New York and throughout the country, I’m all too accustomed to the challenges, trials and tribulations of balancing work with motherhood.


NY Times advanced GOP attack on Clinton-era renditions

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

NY Times advanced GOP attack on Clinton-era renditions

In a May 8 New York Times article on the continued fall-out surrounding the Bush administration’s controversial interrogation and detention policies, reporters Scott Shane and Carl Hulse wrote that “Republicans are now mounting an aggressive pushback on several fronts,” including “suggesting that the counterterrorism policies of President Bill Clinton violated human rights.” Shane and Hulse then reported: “At a hearing on Thursday, Republican senators pressed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about the practice in the Clinton administration of rendition, in which terrorism suspects captured abroad were delivered to prisons in other countries, including some that routinely use torture.” However, they did not note that Holder specifically rebutted those charges during the May 7 hearing, stating: “From my memory of my time in the Clinton administration, I don’t believe that we did that, that we had renditions where people were taken to places where we had any reasonable belief they were going to be tortured.” Holder’s statement corroborated Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta’s account of the Clinton administration’s rendition policy.

From the May 7 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing (emphasis added):

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): My last question is once we begin this process the question is where is the line drawn?

According to former intelligence officials, renditions — and by renditions we mean moving captured people from our country to another country where they might be interrogated or even worse — those renditions were used by the Clinton administration beginning in the mid 1990s to investigate and disrupt Al Qaeda. That’s the testimony before Congress. And Michael Shawyer, he said that it began in late summer of ’95, I authorized it, I ran it, I managed it against Al Qaeda leaders.

The Washington Post says that the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, said there were about 70 renditions carried out before September 11, 2001, most of them during the Clinton years.

Mr. Attorney General, you were the deputy attorney general from 1997 to 2001. Did you know about these renditions? Did you or anyone else at the Department of Justice approve them? What precautions were taken to ensure these renditions and any interrogations of such detainees, on, by, or behalf of the United States government complied with the law?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I think the concern that we have with renditions is renditions to countries that would not treat suspects with — treat them in a way that’s consistent with the laws via treaties that we have signed. If a person’s going to be — if there’s a rendition taking a person to a place where the possibility is that person might be tortured, that’s the kind of rendition I think that is inappropriate.

From my memory of my time in the Clinton administration, I don’t believe that we did that, that we had renditions where people were taken to places where we had any reasonable belief they were going to be tortured. And that would be the concern that I would have.

I wouldn’t want to restrict the ability of our government to use all the techniques that we can to keep the American people safe. But in using those tools we have to do so in a way that’s consistent with our treaty obligations and our values as a nation.

SEN. ALEXANDER: But I think you can see the line of my inquire, which is if we’re going to ask lawyers who were asked to give legal opinions, we’re going to investigate them, jeopardize their careers, second guess them, look back, then where does that stop? I mean, do we not also have to look at the people who asked for those techniques, at people who approved those techniques, at members of Congress who knew about and encouraged the techniques perhaps?

Or, in your case, in the Clinton administration we don’t know what the interrogations were then. Perhaps you do, and the question would be whether you approved them.

I prefer President Obama’s approach. I think it’s time to look forward and I hope he sticks to that point of view.

The Times quoted a portion of this exchange in its May 8 article — when Alexander asked, “If we’re going to ask lawyers who were asked to give legal opinions, we’re going to investigate them, jeopardize their careers, second guess them, look back, then where does that stop?” — but did not note that Holder directly responded to questions about renditions during the Clinton administration.

As Media Matters for America noted, in a February 6 article on Panetta’s confirmation hearing to become CIA director, The Washington Post similarly reported that Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) “noted that the Clinton administration had ordered dozens of renditions,” but did not mention that Panetta responded by distinguishing between Clinton-era and Bush-era renditions. Panetta stated that “extraordinary renditions” under the Bush administration, “where I think … we took a prisoner and sent him to another country for questioning and often times that questioning took place under circumstances that did not meet our test for human values,” are different than renditions in which individuals were returned “to countries of jurisdiction” or “rendered back to this country for purposes of trial.” Panetta called the latter types of rendition “an important tool.”

From the May 8 New York Times article, “List Says Top Democrats Were Briefed on Interrogations”:

Republicans are now mounting an aggressive pushback on several fronts: highlighting evidence that at least some Democrats in Congress failed to speak out against the harsh methods; accusing the Obama administration of endangering Americans by emptying Guantánamo; and suggesting that the counterterrorism policies of President Bill Clinton violated human rights.

At a hearing on Thursday, Republican senators pressed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. about the practice in the Clinton administration of rendition, in which terrorism suspects captured abroad were delivered to prisons in other countries, including some that routinely use torture.

“If we’re going to ask lawyers who were asked to give legal opinions, we’re going to investigate them, jeopardize their careers, second guess them, look back, then where does that stop?” Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, asked Mr. Holder. He suggested that if Bush administration lawyers were to be investigated, perhaps those from the Clinton administration should get similar treatment.


With Impeachment Talk Swirling, Bybee Reaches Out to Nevada Lawmakers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

With Impeachment Talk Swirling, Bybee Reaches Out to Nevada Lawmakers
Via Think Progress: Jay Bybee may not be responding to Pat Leahy’s invitation that he testify before the Senate Judiciary committee. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to get out his side of the story behind the scenes….

Scenes From The Ninth Circle Of Financial Bureaucracy
We’ve been poring over the report — hit piece? — on the SEC issued today by the Government Accountability Office, and we’re starting to understand why Hank Paulson wanted to shut the place down and put all those “enforcers” out…






Bold Leaders Enjoy Dijon Mustard

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Bold Leaders Enjoy Dijon Mustard


Looking back at Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy’s views

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Looking back at Star Trek and Leonard Nimoy’s views
As a new Star Trek film enters our cultural landscape once again, I thought it might be interesting to remember what Star Trek meant to some of us, and, to Leonard Nimoy. In 1991, when Gene Roddenberry died and…

Sexual Inequality, Cultural Imperialism and Political Correctness
As Gloria points out, despite all the debates about feminism in this country, men and women alike have both basically incorporated the movement’s fundamental principals. “[W]e assume women should have equal educational and job opportunities, that women should be…

The Death of Jerusalem: Segregated Buses And Land Grabs
Yehuda Mirsky has a brilliant piece in the Jerusalem Post on what crazed Jewish religious fanatics have done to Jerusalem (the Jewish part, anyway). Mirsky is a brilliant scholar and writer, himself Orthodox, so he comes to his conclusion with…






Banks successfully lobbied Fed to make ?stress tests? less stressful.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Banks successfully lobbied Fed to make ?stress tests? less stressful.
This week, the government released the results of the stress tests performed on the nation’s 19 largest banks. According to the report, Bank of America’s $34 billion hole was the largest. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that the Fed Reserve initially estimated Bank of America’s figure at more than $50 billion. Over the last […]

bernankeThis week, the government released the results of the stress tests performed on the nation’s 19 largest banks. According to the report, Bank of America’s $34 billion hole was the largest. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that the Fed Reserve initially estimated Bank of America’s figure at more than $50 billion. Over the last few weeks, a number of banks successfully lobbied the Fed to make the stress tests less stressful:

The Federal Reserve significantly scaled back the size of the capital hole facing some of the nation’s biggest banks shortly before concluding its stress tests, following two weeks of intense bargaining.

In addition, according to bank and government officials, the Fed used a different measurement of bank-capital levels than analysts and investors had been expecting, resulting in much smaller capital deficits.

The Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo notes that one interesting element of the announcement last week is that the banks will now have the opportunity to convert government debt into equity if the need arises, leaving the taxpayer on the hook for a larger bailout of the banks.


With Little to Cheer About, Detroit Turns to Ex-NBA Star

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:31 am by HL

With Little to Cheer About, Detroit Turns to Ex-NBA Star
DETROIT — Before rising to national prominence as a standout at Syracuse University, before a stellar career with the Detroit Pistons earned him a spot in basketball’s Hall of Fame, Dave Bing shared a cramped bedroom with three siblings in a poor Northeast Washington neighborhood.


Friendship With Conservative Thomas Complicates Supreme Court Chances for Georgia’s Sears
One day in the early 1990s, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas telephoned Leah Ward Sears to introduce himself. She was a rising star in Georgia’s legal community, a relatively liberal black woman on the state’s conservative Supreme Court. Thomas had read about political attacks against Sears and…


In Court Pick, Obama Seeks to Be Bold but Not Provocative
As President Obama searches for a replacement for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, those who know him best think he is looking for a rare combination: a pragmatic barrier-breaker who will be a distinguished jurist and whose nomination will cool the partisan warfare that has marked recent…


Obama Delivers the Zingers at Journalists’ Dinner
When President Obama made his debut as the nation’s Stand-Up-in-Chief last night, the star attraction at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, no one in his administration was safe from his one-liners.



The Care and Feeding of Arlen

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 10th, 2009 4:29 am by HL

The Care and Feeding of Arlen
Gail Collins, New York Times

Missed Opportunity for Budget Sense
David Broder, Washington Post

Can This Rally Keep Going?
Dan Burrows and Will Swarts, SmartMoney

Religion and Our Civic Behavior
Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Who Lost the Economy & What To Do Next?
Robert Kuttner, Am. Prospect