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Archive for May 26th, 2010

North Korea Cuts Ties to South Korea

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

North Korea Cuts Ties to South Korea
North Korea has announced it will sever all ties with South Korea, the country’s official KCNA news agency said on Tuesday. The country’s government also said its troops were bracing for war as tensions spiked over the sinking of a South Korean warship in late March.


Self-violating

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:50 am by HL

Self-violating
You would think at a minimum the regulators of theses lax agency’s could at least handle cleaning up a mess.

(Brown pelican being treated – photo via IBRRC at Flickr)

The response of the Obama Administration to BP’s attempt to turn oil into oilade has been, to say the least, underwhelming. I know the guy isn’t Red Black Adair but is it too much too ask to be “whelmed” occasionally?

But one thing is pretty clear about where this all starts, a lot of Republicans hate governing as much as they love loving themselves. In a report that covers the period 2000 to 2008 (who was President most of that time? Oh yeah, Dick Cheney) a pattern develops.

Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

Rubbing one out, instead of regulating, was not unknown of course.

…a new government report reveals that some high-level regulators have spent more time looking at porn than policing Wall Street…the report says most of these cases began in 2008, just as the financial system began to collapse.

I now shudder more to think what is actually in the minutes of Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force, in addition to what I have been shuddering over.


Alleged Chicago Torturer’s Overdue Day in Court

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Alleged Chicago Torturer’s Overdue Day in Court
Abu Ghraib has nothing over Chicago. Forty years ago, Jon Burge returned from Vietnam, joined the Chicago Police Department and allegedly began torturing people. By Amy Goodman

Abu Ghraib has nothing over Chicago. Forty years ago, Jon Burge returned from Vietnam, joined the Chicago Police Department and allegedly began torturing people.


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How They Passed Health Care: The Final Installment

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

How They Passed Health Care: The Final Installment
Nancy Pelosi was in the Old Executive Office Building when one of her advisers gave her a message: Obama wanted her next door, in the…

HUFFPOST HILL – MAY 25, 2010
Lawmakers turned their attention to the Gulf today: Robert Menendez had the uncanny idea that companies which get reckless with crude should pay for the…

Suzanne E. Spaulding: Saving the DNI from Extinction
Before any prospective nominee for DNI agrees to take the job, he or she should get a firm commitment from the President to provide the political backing for budget and personnel authority lacking in the legislative charter.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos: Rand Paul Drinks Tea, Turns Into Hawk?
Paul knew he needed the extraordinary muscle of the Tea Party to win the primary. Going forward, will his non-interventionist impulses prevail, or will the Tea Party demand certain reciprocities for its help in winning the seat?


Does “Reagan conservative” Hannity think Reagan should have been impeached for reported job offer?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Does “Reagan conservative” Hannity think Reagan should have been impeached for reported job offer?

Sean Hannity has baselessly claimed that an alleged job offer by the Obama administration to Rep. Joe Sestak would constitute a “de facto bribe” and “an impeachable offense.” However, the administration of Hannity’s political hero, Ronald Reagan, reportedly made a similar offer to a candidate.

Hannity baselessly suggests Sestak job claims constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors” for Obama

Hannity: “De facto bribe” to Sestak is “an impeachable offense.” Hannity asked Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, “This, at a minimum, we’re talking about a congressman offered a high-ranking job, this is a de facto bribe, no?” Morris replied, “It is,” later adding that the offer might be “a high crime and misdemeanor.” Hannity then asked: “That would be — in other words — an impeachable offense.” Morris replied, “Absolutely.” [Fox News’ Hannity, 5/24/10]

Hannity invokes Nixon resignation, asks if “Sestak scandal” could “drive [Obama] out of the White House.” After airing footage of President Nixon saying, “I will resign from the presidency at noon tomorrow,” Hannity asked, “If the Sestak scandal spins out of control, could it drive the Anointed One out of the White House?” [Fox News’ Hannity, 5/25/10]

Hannity to Jay Sekulow: “High crimes and misdemeanors?” Hannity said that “if Joe Sestak is telling the truth that one of the president’s advisers did offer him a job, many have suggested that a senior administration official, and maybe even the president himself, is guilty of a crime.” Hannity then interviewed conservative legal analyst Jay Sekulow and Reagan administration deputy assistant attorney general Victoria Toensing, both of whom agreed that a crime was committed. During the interview, Hannity asked Sekulow, “High crimes and misdemeanors, Jay?” Sekulow replied that “Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution” — the section dealing with impeachment — “is there for a reason.” [Fox News’ Hannity, 5/25/10]

Hannity: “So Rahm Emanuel would risk going to jail to fall on the sword for the president?” After Toensing speculated that whoever supposedly offered Sestak a job would “fall on his or her sword” rather than put President Obama in legal “trouble,” Hannity asked, “Hypothetically, if it was Rahm Emanuel, does he risk potential criminal charges?” Toensing and Sekulow agreed that he would. Hannity then asked, “So Rahm Emanuel would risk going to jail to fall on the sword for the president?” [Fox News’ Hannity, 5/25/10]

“Reagan conservative” Hannity ignores Reagan administration’s reported offer of job for candidate to step down

Hannity identifies himself as a “Reagan conservative.” A chapter in Hannity’s book, Conservative Victory, is titled “Why I’m a Reagan Conservative.” In that chapter, Hannity writes:

Today, I believe we’re facing a crossroads in America’s future — a choice between, on the one hand, a disastrous path of socialism at home and weakness on the world stage, and on the other, free-market capitalism, moral authority, and steadfast security. In the upcoming elections, we will choose our path. And before we do, I believe we must remind ourselves of the example set by the most successful president in modern times — Ronald Reagan. [Page 134]

Reagan adviser reportedly offered CA senator a job with the administration “if he decided not to seek re-election.” A November 25, 1981, Associated Press article reported that President Reagan’s political adviser Ed Rollins planned to offer then-California Sen. S.I. Hayakawa a job in the administration in exchange for not seeking re-election. From the AP article (accessed from the Nexis database):

Sen. S.I. Hayakawa on Wednesday spurned a Reagan administration suggestion that if he drops out of the crowded Republican Senate primary race in California, President Reagan would find him a job.

“I’m not interested,” said the 75-year-old Hayakawa.

“I do not want to be an ambassador, and I do not want an administration post.”

[…]

In an interview earlier this week, Ed Rollins, who will become the president’s chief political adviser in January, said Hayakawa would be offered an administration post if he decided not to seek re-election. No offer has been made directly to Hayakawa, Rollins said.

Similarly, Hayakawa said in a statement, “I have not contacted the White House in regard to any administration or ambassadorial post, and they have not been in contact with me.”

AP: “Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common.” A February 19 Associated Press article reported: “Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common. Melanie Sloan, director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, described it as ‘politics as usual.’ “

Wash. Post: “This would hardly be the first administration” to offer a job to “clear the field.” A May 25 Washington Post editorial critical of the Obama administration’s response stated: “At the same time, of course, political considerations play a role in political appointments. This would hardly be the first administration to use appointments to try to clear the field for a favored candidate.”

Legal experts dispute claims that a crime was committed

Bush ethics lawyer calls claim that a job offer is a bribe “difficult to support.” In a post on the Legal Ethics Forum blog, former Bush administration chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter wrote: “The allegation that the job offer was somehow a ‘bribe’ in return for Sestak not running in the primary is difficult to support.” Painter also wrote:

The job offer may have been a way of getting Sestak out of Specter’s way, but this also is nothing new. Many candidates for top Administration appointments are politically active in the President’s political party. Many are candidates or are considering candidacy in primaries. White House political operatives don’t like contentious fights in their own party primaries and sometimes suggest jobs in the Administration for persons who otherwise would be contenders. For the White House, this is usually a “win-win” situation, giving the Administration politically savvy appointees in the Executive Branch and fewer contentious primaries for the Legislative Branch. This may not be best for voters who have less choice as a result, and Sestak thus should be commended for saying “no”. The job offer, however, is hardly a “bribe” when it is one of two alternatives that are mutually exclusive.

Painter: “[D]ifficult to envision applying” bribery statute to Sestak job offer. In a subsequent blog post replying to a call by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate possible criminal charges, Painter wrote: “The Administration probably should provide the information needed to clarify what happened, but the bribery statute citied by Congressman Issa is, for reasons explained in my previous post, difficult to envision applying to this situation.”

CREW executive director: “I don’t see the crime.” CNSNews.com reported that Sloan, a former federal prosecutor, commented of the allegations: “I don’t see the crime.” From the March 24 CNS article:

“People offer members of Congress things all the time,” Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and now the executive director of the liberal government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told CNSNews.com. “I don’t think there is any issue. I don’t see the crime.”

[…]

If it is true, such a trade would be an indictment of the system, Sloan of CREW said, but not likely illegal.

“A quid pro quo has to offer something of value in exchange for something,” Sloan said. “If you agree not to run for the Senate and we’ll make you secretary of the Navy — that offers no monetary value. It’s just the unseemly side of politics.”

Wash. Post: “[E]thics laws do not seem designed for this circumstance.” In a May 25 editorial, The Washington Post stated: “Would it be illegal? Mr. Specter said so, but ethics laws do not seem designed for this circumstance. Ordinarily, bribery takes place in the opposite direction: Government officials aren’t usually the ones offering something of value. Other statutes prohibit officials from using their power to interfere in an election, or to, directly or indirectly, promise a job as ‘reward for any political activity.’ But these have been understood to prevent official coercion, not criminalize horse-trading.” The editorial continued:

Still, the White House position that everyone should just trust it and go away is unacceptable from any administration; it is especially hypocritical coming from this one. “I’m not going to get further into what the conversations were,” Mr. Gibbs said Sunday. “People that have looked into them assure me that they weren’t inappropriate in any way.” This response would hardly have satisfied those who were upset during the previous administration about the firing of U.S. attorneys. If there was nothing improper, why not all that sunlight Mr. Obama promised?

TPM: “[E]xperts seem to agree that there’s no legal wrongdoing — and very little scandal here.” Talking Points Memo’s Zachary Roth reported in a May 25 post that “several experts tell TPMmuckraker this is much ado about nothing.” Roth went on to report:

That may be fair as far as it goes — the White House certainly hasn’t been falling all over itself to be up front about what happened. But the experts seem to agree that there’s no legal wrongdoing — and very little scandal here.

“People horse trade politically all the time,” Stan Brand, a prominent Washington criminal defense lawyer told TPMmuckraker. “So I don’t put much stock in this, and I don’t think its gonna go anywhere.”

Even those who used to prosecute public corruption cases agree. “Talk about criminalizing the political process!” said Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor with the Justice Department’s Public Integrity unit. “It would be horrible precedent if what really truly is political horsetrading were viewed in the criminal context of: is this a corrupt bribe?”

And Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who as the head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington isn’t known for going on easy public corruption, concurred. “There is no bribery case here,” she said. “No statute has ever been used to prosecute anybody for bribery in circumstances like this.”

Sloan added that Issa’s move was more about politics. “It’s not at all about whether there was actual criminal wrongdoing,” she said. “It’s about how to go after Sestak.”


Man Who Killed Arkansas Police Officers Had Anti-Government Views (VIDEO)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:46 am by HL

Man Who Killed Arkansas Police Officers Had Anti-Government Views (VIDEO)
On Thursday, two police officers pulled over a white van in West Memphis, Arkansas, for a traffic stop, and the driver opened fire with an AK-47, killing the officers, according to police. The driver of the van was Jerry Kane,…

Even CREW Says Sestak’s Claim Of Job Offer Is No Scandal
Republicans have been launching a full-court press to trumpet the claim by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) that the White House offered him a job in exchange for dropping out of the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate, in an effort to clear the field for its favored candidate, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). One GOP lawmaker has called for a criminal probe, alleging possible illegal conduct. But several experts tell TPMmuckraker this is much ado about nothing.


White HouseJoe SestakArlen SpecterRepublicanUnited States Senate


Oil fouls coast of Louisiana, no end is in sight

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Oil fouls coast of Louisiana, no end is in sight
Author’s note: This is bad…really bad. Anyone else having nightmares about this? Excerpt: For weeks, the magnitude of the oil disaster in the Gulf has been something people have read about. Now it is reality for the residents on the coast of Louisiana. Even CNN, between sound bytes of the latest celebrity and entertainment news, reported that “there […]


Favored GOP Candidate Loses in Upset

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Favored GOP Candidate Loses in Upset
Raul Labrador (R) won an upset primary victory in Idaho’s 1st congressional district last night, defeating military veteran Vaughn Ward (R), the favored candidate of the Washington Republican establishment, Politico reports.

Labrador will face Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID) in the general election.

The Fix: “Ward becomes the latest establishment favorite to go down in defeat, although his loss will more likely be chalked up to his campaign’s myriad gaffes.”

Obama Approval on the Rise
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that 48% of American voters approve of the job President Obama is doing, while 43% disapprove.

It’s the first time since December that more voters give him a thumbs up rather than thumbs down.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “The increase in President Barack Obama’s job approval is a welcome step for the White House. His ratings have been in the no man’s land of just below parity for some time and now the question is whether this is the beginning of an upward trend or just a blip.”

Democrats Grab Back Lead in Generic Ballot
A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters prefer a Democrat over a Republican in this year’s midterm elections by a 42% to 36% margin, reversing a 44% to 39% Republican lead just two months ago.


It’s Conference Time in Progressive America — Will You Be Attending?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

It’s Conference Time in Progressive America — Will You Be Attending?
Summer is the season when American progressives gather to assess the political moment and mobilize their troops for the ongoing battle.

Summer is the season when American progressives gather to assess the political moment and mobilize their troops for the ongoing battle.

The Corporate Stranglehold: How BP Will Make out Like Bandits from Its Massive, Still Gushing Oil Disaster
The existing $75 million cap on damages for offshore drilling companies is a bailout every bit as disgusting as those recently bestowed upon Wall Street.

The existing $75 million cap on damages for offshore drilling companies is a bailout every bit as disgusting as those recently bestowed upon Wall Street.

How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane
For huge numbers of dedicated right-wing Americans, November 5, 2008, was the end of the world. Or at least, the end of America as they knew it.

For huge numbers of dedicated right-wing Americans, November 5, 2008, was the end of the world. Or at least, the end of America as they knew it.

The Tea Party: At Last a Citizen Movement the Corporate Media Can Love
The hateful, ignorant, haphazardly-organized Tea Party movement receives a level of press coverage few progressive citizen groups will ever see.

The hateful, ignorant, haphazardly-organized Tea Party movement receives a level of press coverage few progressive citizen groups will ever see.


Blogging & The Brain

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 26th, 2010 4:39 am by HL

Blogging & The Brain
There are two serious critiques of Internet culture circulating in the academy these days. The Internet is shortening your attention span, making it harder for you to do deep thinking. The Internet is turning us all into tribal denizens, only…


Social SciencesPsychologyNicholas CarrWall Street JournalLondon

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Nukes: How Low Can We Go?
In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Gary Schaub and James Forsyth make the case for a greatly reduced U.S. nuclear arsenal — a reduction of 4,802 warheads, to be exact. That would leave the total at 311. Their…