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Archive for January 27th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: 15 Step

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: 15 Step
Amazingly good fan footage of the enigmatic Radiohead, Live in Prague, August 23rd, 2009

Amazingly good fan footage of the enigmatic Radiohead,
Live in Prague, August 23rd, 2009

What’s on your mind?

Your No. 1 Choice for Hypocrisy
American’s love the idea of Democracy for other people, as long as it doesn’t involve regimes we’ve underwritten to protect us from our phobias.

pic via Sarah Carr at flickr.com

In the wake of  Tunisia, and events in Egypt, the President said this in his State of the Union message:

“We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.”

Meanwhile:

Activists trying to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak played cat-and-mouse with police on the streets into the early hours of Thursday, as unprecedented protests against his 30-year rule entered a third day.

Siun posted last night about what is happening in Egypt but to me the most poignant portion was this:

It is 12:50 AM CLT now and our friends in Al Tahrir square are currently under huge attack from the security forces that are firing cannons of tear gas…these tear gas grenades are made in the USA

Husni Mubarek is liked by American policy makers. He placates our fears about the alternative (“Scary Extremists Muslims“) and he says the occasional non-hateful thing about Israel. Both Parties elites fall for it every time.

Of course, there’s also the bit particularly attractive to Republicans. He’s ruled by “emergency decree” for nearly thirty years after taking advantage of a national trauma and he’s grooming his son to replace him. How could a Bush, a Cheney, a Romney, a Kristol, a Podhoretz, a Goldberg, a Forbes, or a McCain quit him?

If he falls, look for the entire GOP-media complex to roll out the 1949 game plan, “Who lost China Egypt?”. After all a possible successor is the guy who said the Bush II Administration’s drive for wars in Iraq and Iran were dubious. Might as well be Chairman Mao.


9 Out of 10 Viewers Approve of Obama’s Proposals

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:42 am by HL

9 Out of 10 Viewers Approve of Obama’s Proposals
If these CBS News poll numbers are to be believed, the president had a very big night. According to the network, “91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.” The poll found that Obama did better than last year, when a mere 83 percent were on board. Of course the numbers could be skewed by any number of factors. For instance, people who can’t stand the president were less likely to watch and, therefore, be counted.  —PZS CBS News: An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the overall message in President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News poll of speech watchers. According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president’s address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved. Last year, 83 percent of viewers approved of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union remarks. Read more

If these CBS News poll numbers are to be believed, the president had a very big night. According to the network, “91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.”

The poll found that Obama did better than last year, when a mere 83 percent were on board.

Of course the numbers could be skewed by any number of factors. For instance, people who can’t stand the president were less likely to watch and, therefore, be counted.? —PZS

CBS News:

An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the overall message in President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News poll of speech watchers.

According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president’s address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.

Last year, 83 percent of viewers approved of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union remarks.

Read more

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Bachmann Eyeing White House Run?
Here are two words that ought to strike fear into the hearts of many Americans: President Bachmann. Although it’s definitely a long shot, and she’d be up against none other than Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann could have been positioning herself to represent the tea party movement in a bigger way than just her response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. John Nichols faces this alarming prospect, and critiques Bachmann’s speech, in his column for The Nation on Wednesday. John Nichols in The Nation: On style points and substance, Bachmann was shaky. At times, she seemed to be struggling to figure out which camera she was talking to. (Memo to SNL writers: Bachmann’s bumbles beat Palin’s anyday.) Nothing about her ramble through the standard talking points of the Republican right was going to appeal to wavering independents. And Democrats who tuned in for laughs and shock appeal. But the Tea Party base, which is a real force in the Republican Party now, got just what it wanted: wild ruminations about assaults on the Constitution, “Obamacare” and “job-killing” weatherization programs. Bachmann didn’t suggest that Obama was born in Indonesia, or that the president might be turning the White House into a Marxist reeducation camp. She didn’t need to. She was the champion of the edgy activists who actually show up at Iowa precinct caucuses on mid-winter nights, and she was sharing the national platform on State of the Union night. At NPR’s website, the headline read: “Transcripts And Audio: Obama, Ryan, Bachmann.” Obama, Ryan and not Sarah Palin. Obama, Ryan and Michelle Bachmann. With Palin’s star tarnished, Bachmann was exactly where she wanted—and needed—to be on the night that in so many senses the 2012 presidential race was beginning. Read more

Here are two words that ought to strike fear into the hearts of many Americans: President Bachmann. Although it’s definitely a long shot, and she’d be up against none other than Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann could have been positioning herself to represent the tea party movement in a bigger way than just her response to Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night. John Nichols faces this alarming prospect, and critiques Bachmann’s speech, in his column for The Nation on Wednesday.

John Nichols in The Nation:

On style points and substance, Bachmann was shaky. At times, she seemed to be struggling to figure out which camera she was talking to. (Memo to SNL writers: Bachmann’s bumbles beat Palin’s anyday.) Nothing about her ramble through the standard talking points of the Republican right was going to appeal to wavering independents. And Democrats who tuned in for laughs and shock appeal. But the Tea Party base, which is a real force in the Republican Party now, got just what it wanted: wild ruminations about assaults on the Constitution, “Obamacare” and “job-killing” weatherization programs.

Bachmann didn’t suggest that Obama was born in Indonesia, or that the president might be turning the White House into a Marxist reeducation camp. She didn’t need to. She was the champion of the edgy activists who actually show up at Iowa precinct caucuses on mid-winter nights, and she was sharing the national platform on State of the Union night. At NPR’s website, the headline read: “Transcripts And Audio: Obama, Ryan, Bachmann.”

Obama, Ryan and not Sarah Palin.

Obama, Ryan and Michelle Bachmann.

With Palin’s star tarnished, Bachmann was exactly where she wanted—and needed—to be on the night that in so many senses the 2012 presidential race was beginning.

Read more

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Mark Sanford, Mistress Hit Uruguay Resort

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Mark Sanford, Mistress Hit Uruguay Resort
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A week after divorced South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford left office, he and his Argentine lover he called his “soul mate”…

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Breaking the Silence: FCIC Report Brings the Focus Back to Wall Street
At a time when the nation’s capital is convinced that CEOs need appeasing rather than policing, the FCIC report is a badly needed return to reality.

Tavis Smiley: My Conversation With Charlie Crist
I spoke with former Florida Governor Charlie Crist to get his reaction to the State of the Union and how the speech played with Independents like himself.


Predictable: Right-Wing Media Find SOTU “Boring”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Predictable: Right-Wing Media Find SOTU “Boring”

Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, right-wing media predictably declared his speech speech “boring,” “dull,” and “flat” — terms they have consistently used to describe most speeches Obama has given in the past two years.

Right-Wing Media Declare Obama’s SOTU “Boring,” Dull,” “Flat”

Krauthammer: SOTU “Flat,” “Uninspired.” During Fox News’ live coverage of the State of the Union, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said that although “this is a president who can give great speeches and has, this was not one of them. This, I think, was one of his weakest speeches. He tried hard, but it was a flat, I thought, uninspired [speech].” [Fox News’ live SOTU coverage, 1/25/11, via Mediaite]

Powers: “It Was Somewhat Flat.” During Fox News’ live coverage following the speech, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers referred to the “soaring oratory” of past State of the Union addresses and went on to agree with Krauthammer, referring to the speech as “somewhat flat.” [Fox News’ live SOTU coverage, 1/25/11, via Mediaite]

Power Line: “President Obama’s Speech Tonight” Was “Boring And Pedestrian.” Following Obama’s address, Power Line’s John Hinderaker called the speech “boring and pedestrian, the kind of State of the Union checklist that causes television sets to go off all across America. I thought the speech never developed any real momentum or consistency of theme.” [Power Line, 1/25/11]

Fox Nation Declares Obama’s Speech “Flat.” A January 26 post on the Fox Nation titled, “Flat,” included video of one of Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s “focus groups” and declared:

“Flat.” That was the verdict of some Fox News Channel analysts and Frank Luntz’s less-than-impressed focus group on “Hannity” on President Obama’s State of the Union Address. [Fox Nation, 1/26/11]

Hoft: “What A DEAD SPEECH.” In addition to posting multiple links to the Fox Nation story calling Obama’s speech “flat,” conservative blogger Jim Hoft wrote, “DATE NIGHT FAIL- Diluting the Democrats Drowned Out the Applause. What a DEAD SPEECH. Good grief.” [Gateway Pundit, 1/25/11, 1/25/11, 1/26/11]

Doocy: “I Thought It Was Dull … [And] Kind Of Rambling And Boring As Well.” While discussing the president’s State of the Union speech during the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said, “We were saying yesterday, why don’t they just say something bold in this speech, because otherwise people start nodding off and it’s just sort of the same sort of thing year after year.” Co-host Steve Doocy responded by saying, “I’ll be honest — I thought it was dull. I thought it was kind of rambling and boring as well.” [Fox News’ Fox & Friends, 1/26/11]

Buchanan: “I Think It Was Very Flat. … There Was Just Nothing That Was Very Memorable To Me.” On the January 26 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan said that he thought the president’s speech was “very flat” and said there was “nothing that was very memorable to me.” From the broadcast:

BUCHANAN: Well, I think it was very flat, quite frankly. … Even at Tucson with those kids, started responding, you can see this president responds to an audience. He draws from it, energy, but there seemed to be no energy, no inspiration. Frankly, I thought, is it me watching this thing? But you know, what came to mind was that phrase about Harding’s speech, the army of pompous phrases marching across the landscape in search of an idea. I mean, really, there was just nothing much that was very memorable to me. Except, I’ll tell you what was terrific, was at the end when he talked about that fellow with that business up there that got together and built that thing, and sent it down to Chile, and then came out of there without taking any credit. That was very American. But you know, I expected it to be much more uplifting, and it simply wasn’t. It seemed endless. [MSNBC’s Morning Joe, 1/26/11]

Rove: “President Obama [Was] Diffused, Flat, Sort Of Wandered Around.” On the January 26 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer invited Fox News contributor Karl Rove to comment on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) response to Obama’s speech. Rove claimed that Ryan had “a candid, adult-like conversation with the American people” while Obama was “diffused, flat, [and] sort of wandered around.” From the broadcast:

HEMMER: If you listened to Ryan’s speech, he really said one thing, and that was if we do not save ourselves now, this debt’s going to drown us. How did you view his response?

ROVE: Yeah. Well, I thought it was an effective response. His speech was one-quarter the length of President Obama’s, and yet Paul Ryan devoted half again as many words to the deficit and debt and spending then did President Obama, and I thought it was — you’re right, he had a singular message. He had to say, you know, introduce himself, he had to — he made very gracious comments about Congresswoman Giffords — but the vast bulk of the speech, 55 percent of the speech, was devoted to one subject and one subject only. And I thought it was a tale of two speeches; President Obama diffused, flat, sort of wandered around, and Ryan, in a candid, adult-like conversation with the American people, focused on one issue — what this deficit and debt and spending is going to do to our country. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/26/11]

Right-Wing Media Have A History Of Claiming Obama’s Speeches Are “Boring”

O’Reilly Complains That Obama Was A “Boring Professor” During Iraq Speech. On the August 31, 2010, edition of his Fox News show, Bill O’Reilly complained that Obama was “the boring professor” during his speech in which he declared the end of combat operations in Iraq. [The O’Reilly Factor, 8/31/10]

Right-Wing Media Declare Health Care Summit Was “Boring.” Following Obama’s February 2010 health care summit with congressional leaders, numerous right-wing media figures and outlets declared that the summit was “staggeringly boring,” “boring as sand,” and a “snorefest.” [Media Matters, 2/25/10]

LA Times Blogger Malcolm: “Professor Barack Obama” Gave “Anticlimactic,” “Droning,” “Somber” Speech On Stimulus. Following Obama’s second nationally televised news conference, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm declared in a post on March 25, 2009:

Tuesday morning The Ticket examined the White House’s current political strategy and asked the question of who would show up at Barack Obama’s second nationally televised news conference that evening: the president or the senator?

The answer: Neither.

Professor Barack Obama showed up.

And if you remember one of those required college lecture courses in the large auditorium at 8:10 a.m., listening to a droning don, and how it felt, slumped in the cushy seats having skipped breakfast for an extra 13 minutes of ZZZZs.

[…]

True, Obama created real problems in his first national news conference by promising Geithner would deliver too much the next day. And when the inarticulate bureaucrat didn’t, the markets plummeted.

But this news conference seemed anticlimactic. (See video below.) At times the president appeared to be mailing in his delivery.

[…]

The result for anyone who stayed for the entire presentation was another lengthy, somber less-than-animated sales pitch on the need to spend trillions to jump-start the economy, which he sees promising signs of already at least with one Pennsylvania company (though still not yet Caterpillar), and how we’re going to somehow move from an era of spending and greed to an era of savings by spending so much we’re gonna double or maybe triple the national debt by the time a two-term Obama would be two years into improving his retirement bowling at Sun City. [Top of the Ticket, latimes.com, 3/25/09]


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Presented By:

Report: Loughner Researched Lethal Injection, Solitary Confinement Before Shooting
Jared Loughner, the suspected shooter in the Jan. 8 attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, researched lethal injection, solitary confinement and political assassins in the weeks before the shooting.


Obama Doesn’t Mention Gun Control In State Of The Union
To the dismay of groups hoping the White House would take the lead on proposed legislation to ban high-capacity extended magazines in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), President Barack Obama did not mention gun control in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.


Absurd Republican Response to Obama’s SOTU

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:35 am by HL

Absurd Republican Response to Obama’s SOTU


Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:34 am by HL

Three Immigration Myths Meet the Facts
There is little apparent relationship between recent immigration and unemployment rates at the regional, state, or county level.

6 Good Reasons to Have More Sex
According to studies, sex helps with sleep, mood, and health.

Koch Brothers Feel the Heat In DC, as Broad Coalition Readies Creative Action to Quarantine the Billionaires Gathering in California Desert
The news that justices Scalia and Thomas have attended Koch strategy sessions is adding to the growing buzz over a planned demonstration against the billionaires.


Social Change Means Telling People What To Do

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:33 am by HL

Social Change Means Telling People What To Do
Michael, thanks for asking me to do this and for kick starting what should be an interesting discussion about the origins and power of what you’ve termed “persecution politics” as practiced by the contemporary right in America. Something that…

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Alito, Thomas Headlined Political Fundraisers Chaired By Leading Right-Wing Donor Paul Singer

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:32 am by HL

Alito, Thomas Headlined Political Fundraisers Chaired By Leading Right-Wing Donor Paul Singer

A few months ago, ThinkProgress launched a series of investigations into relationship of the right flank of the Supreme Court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Antonin Scalia — with corporate donors and Republican operatives. In October, we revealed, through a document obtained from Koch Industries, that Scalia and Thomas had attended secret right-wing fundraisers organized by Charles Koch to coordinate political strategy. ThinkProgress has now discovered more events attended by conservative Supreme Court justices.

The Manhattan Institute, funded by major corporations like CIGNA, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, is a conservative think tank in New York that produces right-wing policy papers as well as sponsoring speeches for judges and Republican politicians. In 2008, Justice Thomas headlined the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lecture; last October, Justice Alito was the headline speaker for the same event. According to the Manhattan Institute’s website, an individual must contribute between $5,000 to $25,000 to attend the Wriston Lecture. “To be invited to the Wriston Lecture,” Debbie Ezzard, a development official at the Manhattan Institute told ThinkProgress, “you have to give $5,000.”

During the question and answer period of the Wriston Lecture, Roger Hertog, a major neoconservative donor, asked Alito if he would attend the 2011 State of the Union. Ironically, Alito — while speaking at a political fundraiser filled with powerful conservative donors — said he would avoid the event because it has “become very political”:

HERTOG: My question has nothing to do with judicial philosophy. It’s a more mundane question. It’s a calendar question. Will you attend the State of the Union this year?

ALITO: I said in my talk that judges learn primarily from experience, and I’ve found the example of those with greater experience. For many years, the more senior members of the Supreme Court — Justice Stevens before he retired, Justice Scalia — stopped the practice of attending State of the Union addresses because they have become very political events and they’re very awkward for the justices. We have to sit there like the proverbial plotted plant most of the time and we’re not allowed to applaud or those of us who are more disciplined refrain from manifesting any emotion or opinion whatsoever.

Watch it:

Scalia, Thomas, and Alito ultimately refused to attend the SOTU last night. At the end of his question and answer period during the Wriston Lecture, Thomas pledged to the room of donors to meet with them on a more informal basis whenever they visit Washington, DC.

Notably, both Thomas and Alito were introduced at the Manhattan Institute by its chairman, Paul Singer. Singer is the manager of one of the nation’s largest hedge funds, Elliott Management, and has been one of the largest contributors to the Republican Party and conservative causes in recent years. An opponent of financial regulations, Singer’s hedge fund contributed 96% of Rep. Scott Garrett’s (R-NJ) campaign committee. Garrett is the new subcommittee chairman overseeing hedge funds, including regulations passed by Democrats last year which will affect Singer’s firm.

Singer is also a “seven figure” contributor to Crossroads GPS, a front group managed by Karl Rove that has taken advantage of the new campaign finance landscape post-Citizens United. As ThinkProgress has reported, it’s not the first time Alito or Thomas has headlined a political fundraiser with corporate donors:

– In November, shortly after his Manhattan Institute fundraising appearance, ThinkProgress interviewed Justice Alito as he entered the annual fundraising gala for the American Spectator, attended by then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele and top Republican donors. Alito told us that his attendance to the fundraiser was “not important.” However, as we noted, Alito was the main draw for donors when he headlined the same event in 2008. The American Spectator is nominally a magazine; in the 90s, it served as a slush fund for wealthy donors to pay opponents of President Clinton, and recently, it organized a lobby group called the “Conservative Action Project” to orchestrate opposition to President Obama.

– In 2009, while the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Citizens United case, Justice Thomas was featured at the annual fundraiser for the Heritage Foundation — and sat at a table for donors with investment banker Thomas Saunders and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). After the Citizens United decision, Heritage created a new nonprofit called “Heritage Action” to run attack ads against Democrats.

– In 2009, while the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Citizens United case, Justice Alito headlined a fundraiser for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) — the same corporate front that funded the rise of Republican dirty trickster James O’Keefe and anti-masturbation activist Christine O’Donnell. According to the sponsorship levels for the event, Alito helped ISI raise $70,000 or more from law firms like Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. ISI is run partially by lobbyist James Burnley, who also is on the board of FreedomWorks.

– Last year, Justice Thomas helped headline a fundraiser for the National Association of Broadcasters, a lobby group representing News Corp, Cox Media Group, and other media companies. The event raised hundreds of thousands for NAB’s charity from a host of corporate sponsors, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PhRMA, and CBS Corp.

Pursuant to our reporting, the good government group Common Cause found that Thomas had also failed to report more than $686,000 in income from his wife on his ethics disclosure forms. Monday evening, Thomas filed letters with the Supreme Court amending the gap in disclosure.

Insurance Company Drops Cancer Patient And Veteran Because He Accidentally Underpaid By Two Cents

One of the worst abuses of the private health insurance industry is the practice of denying claims to pay for necessary care or revoking the coverage of policyholders for frivolous reasons. A Vietnam veteran from Thornton, Colorado, is the latest victim of this practice.

Vietnam vet Ronald Flanagan has been battling cancer for more than two years. Two weeks ago, Flanagan was getting prepped for a bone biopsy at the local Exempla Rock Creek Medical Center. But at the last minute, his wife called the hospital and told them to stop the procedure because she had just received notice that they no longer have insurance. The reason why? The couple had accidentally underpaid their insurer by two pennies and it decided to drop them from their plan:

Two pennies. That’s the difference between a potentially life-saving surgery, and a dropped insurance plan. Those two cents could cost Vietnam veteran Ronald Flanagan everything. “Everybody we talk to is very surprised that two cents is enough to do this,” said Flanagan.

It was an innocent enough mistake, according to Ron’s wife, Frances Flanagan. “If I only had just hit the nine instead of the seven,” Frances said. When she was paying their monthly health insurance premium online in November, Frances swapped a 7 for a 9, leaving their $328.69 payment two cents short.

In a statement provided to a local news station, the couple’s insurer, Ceridian Cobra Services, explained, “Since the payment was not full, it fit into the definition in the regulations of an ‘insufficient payment’ … Ceridian understands nothing is more important than one’s health.” Local station ABC 7 interviewed the Flanagans about their plight. “I felt that it was all my fault,” said Mrs. Flanagan, who made the accounting error, choking back tears. Watch it:

The recently passed health care law — which congressional Republicans are unanimously trying to repeal — includes a whole host of protections that would rein in the ability for health insurers to drop patients for frivolous reasons like this. If Republicans are successful, these protections would disappear.

However, in the long run, it’s worth noting that one of the best ways to prevent the situation that the Flanagans are in is to offer them access to a public, not-for-profit system like Medicare, which has a higher approval rating than private insurance, runs more efficiently than any private insurer, and that most Americans want to be able to join.


The Fix: Beyond the State of the Union

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 27th, 2011 5:31 am by HL

The Fix: Beyond the State of the Union
President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night laid out a broad blueprint for his legislative agenda for the rest of the year.

Ezra Klein: Can we win the future if we lose the present?
Mike Konczal says that “in a non-crisis time, [Obama’s State of the Union] would have been a great vision of the role of government in the economy.” But this isn’t a non-crisis time. Unemployment is stuck above 9 percent, we’ve not yet hit our peak rate of foreclosures, recent job growth hasn’t e…

As Arabs protest, Obama administration offers assertive support
The Obama administration is openly supporting the anti-government demonstrations shaking the Arab Middle East, a stance that is far less tempered than the one the president has taken during past unrest in the region.