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Archive for June 2nd, 2010

Something I bet Neil Young would remember

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:52 am by HL

Something I bet Neil Young would remember
Angering the base, not the world’s greatest primary strategy.

Is the importance of not insulting your base while running the kind of campaign David Broder would recommend.

Meet this morning’s Exhibit A, Alabama’s Artur Davis.

Congressman Artur Davis, the man who hopes to become Alabama’s first black governor, is used to getting guff from other black leaders. First he was lambasted for being the only black member of Congress to vote against the President’s health care bill. Then he failed to get the endorsements of many prominent civil rights organizations, which instead backed his opponent, Ron Sparks, the (white) state agriculture commissioner. But as the polls opened this morning, his prospects, at least in the primary, are still looking pretty good.

Davis, running right and having a House seat also led to him having substantially more money than Sparks.

So how’d that all work out in the end?

Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks won the Democratic primary with 62 percent of the vote to U.S. Rep. Artur Davis’s 38 percent, with 96 percent of the precincts reporting

And, it was a bipartisan theme, as former Blue Dog turned Republican Parker Griffith ended up losing the GOP primary badly to a conservative who turned Republican when it was trendy several years ago, not just when the Teabaggers made him scared.



Obama Calls for Oil Spill Inquiry

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Obama Calls for Oil Spill Inquiry
President Barack Obama may not yet be able to contain the mess that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has become, but he’s ordering an investigation into the cause of the disaster, he announced Tuesday, and he’s charged two men with the task of heading it up.  —KA The New York Times: “We have an obligation to determine what went wrong,” Mr. Obama said, appearing in the Rose Garden after meeting with the two men he has appointed to lead an inquiry into the cause of the spill, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and William K. Reilly, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. “If laws were broken, leading to death and destruction,” Mr. Obama said, “my solemn pledge is, we will bring those responsible to justice.” Mr. Obama’s heightened rhetoric reflected deepening frustration within the administration at the inability of BP to stop the spill, along with wide concern that the government and Mr. Obama are appearing increasingly impotent as oil laps at the Louisiana shoreline with no end in near sight. Read more

Gulf shot

President Barack Obama may not yet be able to contain the mess that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has become, but he’s ordering an investigation into the cause of the disaster, he announced Tuesday, and he’s charged two men with the task of heading it up.? —KA

The New York Times:

“We have an obligation to determine what went wrong,” Mr. Obama said, appearing in the Rose Garden after meeting with the two men he has appointed to lead an inquiry into the cause of the spill, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and William K. Reilly, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

“If laws were broken, leading to death and destruction,” Mr. Obama said, “my solemn pledge is, we will bring those responsible to justice.”

Mr. Obama’s heightened rhetoric reflected deepening frustration within the administration at the inability of BP to stop the spill, along with wide concern that the government and Mr. Obama are appearing increasingly impotent as oil laps at the Louisiana shoreline with no end in near sight.

Read more

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Pelosi: House Will Pass COBRA Subsidies, State Aid

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:50 am by HL

Pelosi: House Will Pass COBRA Subsidies, State Aid
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday that the House would return to the debate over COBRA subsidies and aid to state governments when Congress…

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Hitchens attacks Kagan for brief on Vatican sex abuse case that she didn’t even file

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:49 am by HL

Hitchens attacks Kagan for brief on Vatican sex abuse case that she didn’t even file

Christopher Hitchens attacked Elena Kagan for a brief the Solicitor General’s office filed arguing that the Vatican should be treated as a sovereign government and therefore a sex abuse case should be dismissed. But Kagan did not even file the brief in question, and no one in the case argued that the Supreme Court should find that the Vatican is not a sovereign government.

Hitchens falsely claims that Kagan said Vatican should be immune from child sex abuse lawsuit

Hitchens’ falsehood: Kagan said Vatican should be immune from lawsuit over child sex abuse claims. From Hitchens’ May 31 article headlined, “Is the Vatican a Sovereign State?” and subheadlined “Elena Kagan and her colleagues in the solicitor general’s office say it is. They should be ashamed”:

Those scrutinizing the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court might want to pay some attention to the recent decision of her office — the office of the solicitor general of the United States — to take the side of the Vatican in the continuing scandal of child rape and the associated scandal of a coordinated obstruction of justice. Faced with a number of court cases in the United States that have named the pope himself as a defendant in the enabling and covering up of many rapes, the Vatican has evolved the strategy of claiming that the Holy See is in effect a sovereign state and thus possessed of immunity from prosecution. It has now been announced that the Obama administration will be advising the Supreme Court to adopt this view of the matter.

[…]

It will be a disgrace if the Supreme Court overrules the sane and legal finding of the 9th Circuit. It is already a disgrace that so many innocent victims and their families have had to seek redress on their own and fight for decades against a ruthless and cynical clerical hierarchy that on its own admission was more concerned to protect the predators than to do justice. Where were the nation’s law officers and policemen while all this was going on? Did they not feel it their bounden duty to represent the interests of the most vulnerable? Now at last the majesty of American law is being deployed in this matter — but on the side of an institution that has irreparably stained itself with crime. Kagan and her colleagues should be made to feel the shame of this, as should the president, who talks so glibly about human rights and equality before the law.

In fact, Kagan did not file a brief in the Vatican case. On May 17, Kagan notified the Supreme Court that, in light of her Supreme Court nomination, she was appointing her deputy, Neal Katyal to be acting Solicitor General and would not be participating in future Supreme Court cases. The brief Hitchens attacked — which the Solicitor General’s office filed after Kagan had recused herself — does not bear Kagan’s name.

Hitchens’ attack is based on the falsehood that the concept of Vatican sovereignty is controversial

Hitchens claimed that the argument that “the Holy See is in effect a sovereign state” is a controversial view. In his article, Hitchens attacked Kagan and the Solicitor General’s office for accepting the Vatican’s argument that “the Holy See is in effect a sovereign state and thus possessed of immunity from prosecution.”

The Ninth Circuit decision that Hitchens lauded also stated that the Vatican is a sovereign state. Hitchens lauded the Ninth Circuit decision holding that the Vatican is not wholly immune from a civil lawsuit over allegations of sex abuse against minors. But the Ninth Circuit did not hold that the Vatican is not a sovereign state generally entitled to immunity. Rather, the Ninth Circuit held that one of the exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) — which generally shields sovereign governments from civil lawsuits — applied to the case.

Furthermore, neither side argued in their Supreme Court briefs that the Vatican should not be considered a sovereign state for purposes of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act. The brief for the plaintiffs in the case — who argued that the Supreme Court should not hear the case — also argued that an exception to the FSIA applied. It did not argue that the Vatican does not generally have immunity under the FSIA. The briefs for the Holy See also discussed the issue of whether an exception to the FSIA applied, not whether the Vatican was a foreign state.

Solicitor General’s office has previously argued that foreign states should be entitled to immunity

George W. Bush administration argued that Iraq should be immune from lawsuits. In 1990, Iraq was deemed a state sponsor of terrorism, but following the coalition invasion in 2003, Congress enacted legislation that authorized the president to waive Iraq’s liability under any provision creating a cause of action against a state sponsoring terrorism. In Republic of Iraq v. Beaty, Gregory Garre, the solicitor general at the time, argued on behalf of the administration that Iraq was immune from suit against American citizens who were tortured and held hostage in Kuwait and Iraq. He argued that allowing suit against Iraq would “pose an ‘unusual threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” In a decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court agreed, and held that Iraq was immune from suit.

George H.W. Bush administration argued that Saudi Arabia should be immune from suit. In Saudi Arabia v. Nelson, the plaintiffs brought suit for injuries Scott Nelson suffered due to torture inflicted upon him while under arrest in Saudi Arabia. Kenneth Starr, as solicitor general, argued on behalf of the George H.W. Bush administration that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act did not allow jurisdiction over Nelson’s suit because their actions were not “based upon” a commercial activity. He stated that (via Westlaw), “[t]he commercial activity involved here — Saudi Arabia’s recruitment of Scott Nelson to work at its overseas hospital — does not provide a basis for the intentional injury and related spousal derivative claims that the Nelsons assert in their complaint.” The Supreme Court agreed to dismiss the case.


Report: U.S. Bars Flight With Somali Man From Entering U.S. Airspace

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Report: U.S. Bars Flight With Somali Man From Entering U.S. Airspace
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Gov. Sanford Sides Against Own Ex-Staffer On Haley Affair Claim
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Obama Administration Turns Focus To Homegrown Terrorism
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“Pirates of the Mediterranean” alert: One more ship is still sailing to Gaza

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:43 am by HL

“Pirates of the Mediterranean” alert: One more ship is still sailing to Gaza
Question: “When the Israel’s navy forcibly boarded an international fleet carrying humanitarian goods to Gaza last week, was this a justifiable military action or was it simply a case of hijacking on the high seas?” Answer: “I don’t know. I’m not Captain Jack Sparrow. If you want to know about the finer points of piracy, you […]


Sestak Takes Early Lead

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Sestak Takes Early Lead
A new Garin Hart Yang Research (D) poll in Pennsylvania finds Rep. Joe Sestak (D) with a seven point lead over Rep. Pat Toomey (R), 47% to 40%.

New Mexico Will Have First Female Governor
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Campbell Pulls Ads in Final Days
California U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell (R) “pulled his television advertising Tuesday and in the closing days of the primary race will rely on Internet appeals and telephone calls to make his case to GOP voters,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The move creates an enormous hurdle for the former congressman at a time when his chief rival, Carly Fiorina (R), has loaned several million dollars to her campaign and, on the strength of a generous round of TV ads, has shot ahead in what was once a close contest to replace Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.”


We’re All Watching the BP Disaster, But Who Is Taking Action?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:41 am by HL

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Irish Aid Vessel Plans to Pass Through Israel’s Gaza Blockade — ‘Most Serious Consequences’ Promised If Passengers Harmed
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Glenn Beck’s Favorite Smear Tactic: Call What He Doesn’t Like ‘Nazi’
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No Free Pens But Pharma Influence Still Felt at Psychiatric Meeting

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The Items Israel Blocks — Plus Gaza and the Civil Rights Struggle

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:40 am by HL

The Items Israel Blocks — Plus Gaza and the Civil Rights Struggle
CHECK THIS OUT: The Economist reveals what Israel allows into Gaza and what it doesn’t. Amazing. Punitive, without rhyme or reason. America needs to demand an end to the blockade now. **** Has anyone else noticed? Israeli spokespersons are obviously…


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Representative Jason Altmire: Job Killing Deficit Hawk
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Limbaugh Is Right: The Gulf Spill Is ?Not Unique?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 2nd, 2010 4:39 am by HL

Limbaugh Is Right: The Gulf Spill Is ?Not Unique?
Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh has launched an incessant campaign to wish away the spill with outrageous rhetoric, claiming it’s “not a disaster,” explaining there’s no need to clean up the spill because “[t]he ocean will take care of this on its own.” But Limbaugh actually […]

Ixtoc Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh has launched an incessant campaign to wish away the spill with outrageous rhetoric, claiming it’s “not a disaster,” explaining there’s no need to clean up the spill because “[t]he ocean will take care of this on its own.” But Limbaugh actually got something right about the disaster on his radio show today, noting that the BP spill is “not unique” nor “exceptional”:

Oil is as much a part of nature as air is. Oil is as much a part of nature as water is. … If we didn’t do anything, it would recover. It might take a lot of years, but it would recover. The Earth is an amazing thing. Now, I’m not suggesting anything other than trying to present you a fact. More oil [is] spilled every year in Africa, in Nigeria, than so far in the Gulf. So it’s not unique, it is not exceptional, it is not the largest. Mexico had a spill that is larger than this. Nobody talks about it except apparently me. Ixtoc I, it went on for nine months.

Listen here:

Indeed, as the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson noted, “like the rest of the oil industry, BP has a long record of tragic, extraordinary environmental disasters, stretching from Alaska to Nigeria.” Limbaugh correctly noted that more oil is spilled in Nigeria’s terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the BP spill thus far. And in the Gulf, there have been dozens of oil well blowouts in recent years, including 39 since 2007 alone. The Ixtoc I spill, which Limbaugh mentioned, released an estimated 3.5 million barrels into the Gulf before the well was contained nine months later, making it the largest accidental offshore spill in history.

However, Limbaugh is very wrong when he repeatedly claims that the spill will take care of itself. “[The] Exxon Valdez spill is cleaned up and everything is back to normal,” Limbaugh claimed last week. In fact, numerous studies have found that “oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill is still being ingested by wildlife more than 20 years after the disaster.” “It just smells like a gas station,” Prince William Sound Science Center’s Kate Alexander told CBS News last month of the remnants of the spill. Moreover, the BP spill is especially pernicious due to its location in the fertile and fragile ecosystem of the northern Gulf.

Moreover, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow observed that despite the intervening 30 years, the techniques used to clean up the Ixtoc I spill were very similar to those used in the Gulf today (Ixtoc I’s cofferdam effort was called a “sombrero,” while BP’s was dubbed a “top hat”). The fact that this spill is not unique underscores what a growing number of Americans are realizing — that we need to curb our reliance on offshore drilling and our dependence on fossil fuel more generally.