Saturday, January 31, 2009

Has It Been Two Years?

We miss Molly.

This picture and nice tribute here.

Thanks to Jean for pointing me to it and reminding me of the anniversary.

"Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory." -- Molly Ivins

My Thought Exactly

[In] a sure sign of desperation, the RNC, on their fourth vote, elected a black guy to head their party. A magic negro, if you will.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

An Honorable Man

Kudos to Shawn Crawford.

Shawn Crawford confirmed that he gave his Olympic silver medal to Churandy Martina, the sprinter who finished second in the 200 meters but was later disqualified for running out of his lane.

“I’m like, if a guy is 10 meters in front of me, I don’t care if he stayed in the middle of his lane,” Crawford told The Associated Press on Friday after finishing third in the 60 at the Millrose Games. “He was going to beat me anyway. He didn’t impede in anybody’s race.”


“It wasn’t about doing the right thing. It’s just me as an athlete—I feel like we all compete and train for four years to get to the Olympic Games,” Crawford said. “We got there, he was told he finished second after all that, he took a victory lap. I can understand his humiliation and embarrassment and all that.

“Me being an athlete, I know how he feels, so I feel like it was to me to give it up to him.”


Just How Screwed Are You?

For a true picture of the vast inequities in the American workplace, try comparing the pay of your company's CEO with your own. Here are two ways to find out what's in your corporation's executive compensation packages:


Check the database to see whether your company is listed.

How to Track Down Executive Pay

If your company is publicly held but isn't included in our database, you can still find out how much your CEO earned last year.

Read these instructions on how to find and use proxy statements.
Does the CEO Deserve that Big Pay Package?

Is your CEO raking in the big bucks while running the company into the ground? Here's how to find out.


Check it out. Links are embedded in the article.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Of Course!

House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers has agreed to a request from Karl Rove's lawyer to delay the deadline by which Rove must appear in response to a subpoena from his committee.

  Raw Story

We know by now that subpoenas from the Democrats mean nothing. Did we imagine Rove’s lawyer didn’t?

Four days before leaving office, and ten days before House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) subpoenaed him to testify, President Bush's White House Counsel instructed Karl Rove not to appear before Congress or turn over any documents relating to his time at the White House.


"Please advise Mr. Rove (i) that the President continues to direct him not to provide information (whether in the form of testimony or documents) to the Congress in this matter... and not to appear before Congress in this matter," then-White House Counsel Fred Fielding wrote.


At its heart, Fielding's letter reflects President George W. Bush's decision to continue to argue that "[t]he President and his immediate advisors are absolutely immune from testimonial compulsion by a congressional committee," even after leaving office, citing a 2007 memorandum the Justice Department prepared. Ironically, the memo was prepared by the very department that Congress is trying to garner information about.

  Raw Story

Not ironic. Positively Bushian.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Other Shoe Dropped

Forced to take down the shoe statue.

This week, the Iraqi government sent police to order the removal of a statue honoring the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who threw a shoe at former President George Bush. The statue’s removal in Tikrit appears to be an effort to show respect to the United States by denying the right of free speech to the Iraqi people.

  Jonathan Turley

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Buying the Bank

Leaving aside the fact that failing banks have been taking taxpayer bailout money and giving the CEOs huge bonuses, buying up other banks, and purchasing corporate jets, I’ve been hearing on the radio that our esteemed Congress (and Administration) are now considering having the taxpayers buy up the bad assets of the country’s privately-owned and mismanaged banks. What a fantastic idea. I was looking for worse places than Iraq to put my tax dollars.

One bit of discussion about what to do with the failing banking business explained that the taxpayers would own the bad debts and worthless paper while the banks themselves would remain privately owned and be run and managed by the people who are there now – the same ones who mismanaged them into failure. The other option, it would seem, would be that a new taxpayer-owned bank would be set up which would actually buy all the bad debt from the mismanaged banks, allowing them to keep only their profitable loans. Wow, what a deal we’ll be gettin’ either way!

Brad at Sadly, No! has a good post on the matter, but I especially like the following comment:

• jim said,

This idea is ugly & it needs to die.

Somebody needs to ask Obama how in hell he’s going to do any of the smart stuff he put on his agenda if he blows the Treasury on buying a big-ass trainload of diamond-studded fiscal buggy-whips. This “bad bank” crap is like vaccine for political common sense. Just be straight-up, don’t make yourself look dense pretending it serves any real function - & call it an Economic Incompetence Subsidy.

Alternative-energy plan? Toast. Infrastructure reboot? Boned. Job creation? Hooped. Tax cuts for poor & middle-class Americans? Confetti.

Yes, it so happens that I like pie … & I understand that there’s no such thing as an infinite one.

America needs to get the fuck out of Iraq, NOW … best first step toward financial sanity available. Then it’s time to subject the Pentagon to “Operation Hardcore Liposuction” aka “Black Budget, My Ass”.Tax churches next - sorry, godboys, free-ride-time is over … let’s see how well your vaunted faith stands up to a REAL test. Hack the eternal refuge of cretins that is American business law, so we’re not all paying some weak-fuck CFO’s for three-hour “business lunches” in which to hoover canapes & inhale martinis … or involuntarily subsidizing redundant mountains of neurotoxic ads that rape our souls & waste our time & space.

There - nobody had to die for it, & you just got a few cold hard trillion to play with. Don’t spend it all in one place.

And, P.S., Jillian, at Sadly, No!, has finally seen the light:

And if there’s one thing the last twelve years have taught me, it’s that the only purpose hope serves is to provide profit for the hard liquor sector of the economy - because hope exists only to be brutally dashed, leaving one more bitter and miserable than before.

  Sadly, No!

Speaking of Jillian at Sadly, No!

I stole this YouTube video from her post.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Oh Gee, Another Rich Lawmaker Who Doesn't Obey the Laws

What a surprise.

Thomas A. Daschle, nominated to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, did not pay more than $128,000 in taxes over three years, a revelation that poses a potential obstacle to his Senate confirmation.


No it won’t. It didn’t stop the confirmation of Treasury Secretary fer Crissakes Tim Geithner.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. --Mark Twain

Friday, January 30, 2009

Precedence for the Bush War Crimes Trials

The Hague – The script was set for the first trial of the world's first permanent war crimes court this week:

Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo went after warlord Thomas Lubanga, charged with recruiting 30,000 child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying Mr. Lubanga's acts would "haunt a generation."

But 48 hours later, the prosecution's first witness, a child soldier, caused the entire court to gasp.

At first, the young soldier said he was snatched by Lubanga's militia on his way home from fifth-grade classes. The witness, now a teen, then threw the landmark case briefly into limbo when he recanted his testimony, denying that he'd ever been a child soldier taken to a military training camp, and that his testimony was prompted by an unnamed nongovernmental organization.

In the court, Lubanga, sitting behind the defense team in dark suit and tie, and in clear view of his alleged former child recruit, smiled.


We have ways.

God's Punishment, Sarah?

Monitoring earthquakes underneath the 10,200-foot Redoubt Volcano about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory warned that an eruption was imminent, sending experienced Alaskans shopping for protection against a dusty shower of volcanic ash that could descend on south-central Alaska.



No wonder those people at State were cheering Hillary like they had just been liberated from detention camp.

Christ on a cracker. Bush hubris knew no bounds. Hall of Glory, indeed. Hole of Glory more like.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coming Apart at the Seams

Unemployment lines stretched to the longest on record, the Labor Department reported Thursday, a sign that the U.S. labor market continues to worsen.

Continuing jobless claims rose by 159,000 in the week ended Jan. 17 to a seasonally adjusted 4.78 million, the most since the government's records began in 1967.


Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year.


North Korea announced Friday it is scrapping all political and military agreements with South Korea, accusing Seoul of pushing relations to the brink of war.


[The statement] comes less than two weeks after the North's army threatened an "all-out confrontational posture" against Seoul.

  Raw Story

President Barack Obama prefers diplomacy with Iran but preserves "all his options," the White House said Thursday, refusing to rule out military strikes despite promises of a new rapprochement.

  Raw Story

Oh, what the heck…

Original 1972.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Investigation Necessary

[In] a Thursday editorial published by the Wall Street Journal, John Yoo, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, explained that the Bush administration's torture programs, for which he co-authored the legal justifications, were initially designed to outwit crafty defense attorneys.


In the piece, titled Obama Made a Rash Decision on Gitmo, Yoo also directly states that President Bush ordered waterboarding "three times" after 9/11. [emphasis added]


Yoo also agreed with an analysis of executive power which posited the hypothetical situation in which Bush might order a boy's testicles "crushed" in order to affect a response from his parents.

On the legality of such an order, Yoo said, "I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that."


"The real reason John Yoo wrote this foolish, inaccurate piece is in the hopes of gathering around him some support for his illegal actions," writes RAW STORY investigative news editor Larisa Alexandrovna on her blog, at-Largely.

"You may wish to read his latest epic verbiage festival, but I would urge you not to waste your time," she writes. "The man is a liar, a coward, and now defends his illegal actions by using lies and discredited propaganda to justify the unjustifiable."

  Raw Story

Maybe so. But we need the investigation to find out.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


Driftglass posted a shorter clip of the following scene, reminding me of one of my favorite movies - And Justice for All - and this is the best scene in it. Take 10 minutes and watch.

"Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing wrong with this, except that it ain't so." --Mark Twain

Who Says They Don't Have a Sense of Humor?

A statue dedicated to the man
who threw his shoes at President Bush has
been erected in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.
NY Daily News

A different view.

Change Comes to Washington

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”


You know, I don’t know if it is okay. I hate the cold, too. That's why I moved to the Gulf. But, rather than turn up the heat when it's cold (and it does get cold, albeit not as cold as Washington), I have to put on a sweater – Jimmy Carter style – for two reasons: 1) I am trying to be conservative of energy, and 2) I can’t afford to keep it warm enough to grow orchids in either of my two rooms (and that’s without having a 3 trillion dollar deficit).

He reads several papers, eats breakfast with his family and helps pack his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, off to school before making the 30-second commute downstairs — a definite perk for a man trying to balance work and family life. He eats dinner with his family, then often returns to work; aides have seen him in the Oval Office as late as 10 p.m., reading briefing papers for the next day.

He reads.

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama’s first in office, his aides did not quite know how to dress. Some showed up in the West Wing in jeans (another no-no under Mr. Bush), some in coats and ties.

So the president issued an informal edict for “business casual” on weekends — and set his own example. He showed up Saturday for a briefing with his chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, dressed in slacks and a gray sweater over a white buttoned-down shirt. Workers from the Bush White House are shocked.

“I’ll never forget going to work on a Saturday morning, getting called down to the Oval Office because there was something he was mad about,” said Dan Bartlett, who was counselor to Mr. Bush. “I had on khakis and a buttoned-down shirt, and I had to stand by the door and get chewed out for about 15 minutes. He wouldn’t even let me cross the threshold.”

What a fucking asshole. But you already knew that.

Like Mr. Bush and other presidents before him, Mr. Obama typically begins his work day with a top-secret intelligence briefing on security threats against the United States. Mr. Bush received the “president’s daily brief” Monday through Saturday; Mr. Obama gets the briefing on Sunday as well.

OMG! He works on the Lord’s Day! Are you kidding me? George wouldn’t even receive the security threats briefings??? Well, I hope there isn’t anyone left after that tidbit who doesn’t realize George didn’t give a flying fig about the nation’s security.

There is also a new addition to White House cuisine: the refrigerators are stocked with the president’s favorite organic brew: Honest Tea, in Mr. Obama’s preferred flavors of Black Forest Berry and Green Dragon.

Yeah, well, George had his “tea”, too.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Reality Bites

And what has that bending over the aisle backward gotten Mr. Obama so far?

Zero Republican votes on his stimulus package.

The 244-188 House vote registered 177 Republicans unanimous in opposition.


Of course the bill passed because the Republicans are outnumbered in the House. On to the Senate. Maybe reaching across the aisle is working better there, huh?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama v. Limbaugh: Game On

[January 26] President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

  NY Post

Conservative radio king Rush Limbaugh shot back at President Obama this afternoon - saying the new commander-in-chief is "not a unifier and not bipartisan" and is "more frightened of me" than he should be of Republican leaders.

"I think [Obama] wants me to fail."

  NY Post

The old gasbag pig in a poke must be trying out his comedy routine, since on his own January 16 show, he proclaimed the desire to see Obama fail: “I hope he fails….Somebody’s gotta say it.”

In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the [stimulus] proposal, the president shot back: "I won," according to aides briefed on the meeting.
"I will trump you on that."

  NY Post

Yes, well I guess that remains to be seen.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Many Democrats, including [President] Obama, have long-supported the strategy of empowering bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of primary mortgages to prevent foreclosures. But White House officials have said they don’t want the bankruptcy provision in the stimulus bill for fear of alienating Republicans, most of whom oppose the change.


Last week, Obama and Democratic leaders agreed instead to attach the bankruptcy provision to a large spending bill that Congress is expected to consider later this year, according to reports.

That stance has piqued some Democrats, who are beginning to wonder if the push for bipartisan agreement is worth the cost of waiting. For each day that Congress dallies, these lawmakers say, thousands of Americans lose their homes to foreclosure.

  Washington Independent

As the previous administration would say, “So what?”

....and hey, do what you will anyway.

Will He Or Won't He?

A little-noticed twist in an order issued by President Barack Obama the day after his inauguration may present problems for former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and other Bush Administration officials that have been targeted for their alleged role in various scandals.


"The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the exercise of their discretion and after appropriate review and consultation under subsection (a) of this section, may jointly determine that invocation of executive privilege is not justified," Obama said in his executive order Jan. 21. "The Archivist shall be notified promptly of any such determination."

  Raw Story

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) issued a new subpoena yesterday to former Bush White House aide Karl Rove, months after Rove deflected an earlier effort to compel his testimony about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys and other political disputes that swirled around the Justice Department.


Rove rebuffed the [May 22] summons, saying he was barred from testifying because of executive privilege.


"Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it," Conyers said. "After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk."

Robert D. Luskin, an attorney for Rove, said his client will "abide by a final decision from the courts." Luskin noted that Bush, in a letter to Rove, recently reasserted executive privilege.


Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, told TPMmuckraker that he had already forwarded Conyers' subpoena to the Obama White House, asking them to give an opinion as to whether President Bush retains his ability to assert executive privilege.

In other words, the Obama White House will decide, essentially, whether to back Rove's claim of privilege, or to deny it.


Obama's executive order on presidential records, issued last week, suggests that his White House believes that former presidents do not retain their right to assert executive privilege. But that doesn't mean it's a sure thing that Obama won't uphold Rove's claim, and/or Miers and Bolten's. Either way, we should soon find out.


White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was just asked at a briefing about Congress's subpoena, issued yesterday to Karl Rove, seeking his testimony on the US Attorneys firings.

Gibbs replied that the White House counsel's office "is studying those issues and will advise us when they have a recommendation."


Whether Rove can stay off the witness stand indefinitely is an open question. He could certainly plead the Fifth -- invoking his constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination -- and refuse to answer questions. But Obama's order opened the door to the release of presidential records the Bush Administration fought aggressively to keep out of the public eye.


Obama might also effectively protect Rove and President Bush by retaining a broad interpretation of executive privilege. Such an interpretation wouldn't be designed to save Rove from congressional investigators -- instead, it would allow Obama to protect himself and his team upon his own departure from the Oval Office.

  Raw Story

Which is most likely in my estimation, but stay tuned.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

And Speaking of Torture...

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN's Rick Sanchez that the US has an "obligation" to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

  Raw Story

Will President Obama claim that the US is above UN decisions and opinions like his predecessor?

Asked during an interview with Germany's ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: "I think the evidence is on the table."

At issue, however, is whether "American law will recognize these forms of torture."

Okay, if you had to guess….

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


A few weeks ago, George Washington University Constitutional Law professor Jonathan Turley, while appearing on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, essentially said that the Obama administration would "own" any war crimes -- such as the reported waterboarding of 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- if it chose to look the other way. On Monday's show Turley went a little further and suggested that if Obama impedes investigations or prosecution that he wouldn't just be an "apologist," but also an "accessory."

  Raw Story

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, January 26, 2009

No Exit

Schumer: The problem with the first [stimulus] package was that, for some mysterious reason, opening up the bellies of C-5s and indiscriminately dumping bales of untraceable cash on people doesn't work as either military or domestic policy.

So maybe this time we’ll try [to] keep track of this shit?


I doubt it.

Driftglass took in the Sunday talk shows yesterday. Quite a nice roundup. You should read it.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Let Them Eat Cake

Or they can always join the army.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s the word from the White House about the ailing economy.



Companies forecast almost 70,000 job cuts in a single day as the rampant crisis born in the banking sector struck workers in factories and offices across the globe and brought down a government on Monday.


In New York, construction equipment giant Caterpillar said it planned 20,000 job cuts worldwide to cope with plunging sales and US telecom operator Sprint Nextel announced 8,000 cuts -- 14 percent of its staff.

  Raw Story

Home Depot Inc. plans to eliminate 7,000 jobs while closing four dozen stores.


Pfizer said they'd ax 8,000 as part of a $65 billion deal to buy rival healthcare firm Wyeth.

  Raw Story

And it’s not just in the U.S.

Japan's top 12 automakers expect to cut a total of 25,000 jobs between now and the end of March to cope with an industry slump, a survey by Jiji Press concluded on Monday.

Dutch banking and insurance group ING announced 7,000 job cuts and a deal for the Dutch state to assume 80 percent of the risk on a 27.7-billion euro portfolio of troubled assets.

Dutch electronics giant Philips said it would eliminate 6,000 jobs.


The announcements by the two Dutch companies came ahead of confirmation that Europe's second-biggest steelmaker, Indian-owned Corus, said it would cut more than 3,500 jobs around the world, most of them in Britain.

  Raw Story

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Zero Sum

Hooray for a return to science and reality-based decision making.

U.S. President Barack Obama told the Environmental Protection Agency Monday to reconsider California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, reversing the climate policies of former President George W. Bush.


The president also directed the Department of Transportation to move forward with setting vehicle fuel efficiency standards for 2011 by March, giving automakers an 18 month period to impose them.

He also instructed the U.S. government in general to become more energy efficient.

"The days of Washington dragging its heels are over. My administration will not deny facts. We will be guided by them," he said.


Except where it concerns Israel.

In addition, Glenn Greenwald quotes R.W. Appple in the New York Times back in the Bush I presidency as saying that “most American leaders since World War II have felt a need to demonstrate their willingness to shed blood to protect or advance what they construe as the national interest. . . . - all of them acted in the belief that the American political culture required them to show the world promptly that they carried big sticks.

Obama will be no exception.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Plight of the Blogger

Barack Obama has fucked with my blog, and I don’t appreciate it. The redesign of the White House website has broken every single link to the site that I (and, less significantly, everyone else) made during the Bush years. That’s thousands and thousands of dead links, with no help from the Obama in finding the archived versions. For the record, the way to find the archived versions is to replace in the URL with


Thanks to WIIIAI. We get by with a little help from our friends (other bloggers).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Big But

New York Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday that he could support prosecution for Bush officials that participated in torture or broke other laws.

"If there are egregious cases, I don't think you can say, blanket, no prosecutions," Schumer told Fox's Chris Wallace Sunday morning. "If there are egregious cases, yes, you have to look at them."

Last Sunday on the same television show, Pelosi signaled that she's open to backing prosecutions of Bush administration officials, telling Wallace that "you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law..."

But Schumer was far from aggressive, repeating President Obama's comment earlier this month that "we should be looking forward, not backward."

  Raw Story

So don't get your hopes up that justice will be done or that future officials will have any qualms about breaking the law because they know that in this country, justice prevails.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Ahhhhhhh..That's Better

Friday, January 23, 2009

And Another Giant Step Backward

I heard about this this morning, but forgot it by the time I got to my computer....

About those lobbyists whom Obama has precluded from working in his administration? He'll just waive that ban if he wants one of them.

“The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has removed an obstacle to the confirmation of [Raytheon lobbyist] Bill Lynn to be Deputy Secretary of Defense by waiving the provisions of President Obama’s Executive Order on Ethics Commitments that would have precluded Mr. Lynn’s service.

  Washington Independent

Indeed. As Spencer Ackerman says: “Why put this rule out if deputy cabinet secretaries are exempt from it? Appropriately, this release was sent out at 4:46 p.m. on a Friday. Change we can believe in!”

"The decision of the Administration to impose an additional set of requirements, and then waive them for this nominee, does not change the standards to which we hold all nominees," [Carl] Levin said.

  The Hill

Standards which are at least as high as the ones the administration is using, eh?

Crossways with the WH Press Already?

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' second White House press briefing started with a series of questions on economics and the stimulus package, but it wasn't long before a reporter asked about alleged US missile strikes in Pakistan which reportedly killed 15 early Friday morning.

But Gibbs refused to answer the question by NBC News' Chuck Todd, saying, "I'm not going to get into this matter."


"There are many things that you should be justifiably curious about," Gibbs responded, perhaps taking a knock at Fox News in general, "but I'm not gonna get into talking about this."

"If other members of the US government are confirming this, why is it that you can't?" Todd wanted to know.

"I'm not going to get into these matters," Gibbs said with a smile.

Raw Story

And why the fuck not? Do we have another Bush press secretary? What happened to that transparency business? That’s not a very good way to start with the White House press.

At least seven people were killed, most of them foreigners, in a suspected US missile strike in northwest Pakistan, bringing to 15 the number killed in such attacks on Friday, officials said.

"Two missiles fired by a suspected US drone hit a house in Wana," a senior security official told AFP, referring to the main town in South Waziristan district and a known hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists.

Three Steps Forward, One Giant Step Back

A couple of weeks ago, Obama said, “The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern to me and after January 20, I’m going to have plenty to say about the issue.” And today in a speech at the State Dept, we got that plenty. He said, “we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats.” As opposed to the illegitimate threats, presumably. He went on, “For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people”. “I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza.” So the loss of Israeli life is attributed to Hamas rockets, the loss of Palestinian life and the substantial suffering etc is attributed to... well, I guess he forgot to attribute it to anyone. Funny, that. Giant meteorite? Volcano eruption? Giant robot invaders from Alpha Centauri?


I would say I’m disappointed, but that could only be if I had been expecting otherwise.

Elsewhere in the speech, he used the phrase we’d been told was no longer operative, “the war on terror.”

Well. Not so good.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Obameter

Jean sends this link to PolitiFact's measure of Obama's campaign promise action. So now you can keep track.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Another Step in the Right Direction - Part 3

President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that promote or perform abortions, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Had to Steal This

From Undie Lib at WTF.


You might think State Department personnel weren't unhappy to see the Condoleeza leave, judging by the reception they gave Hillary. Impressive. And I don't mean Hillary - she is so uninspiring. It seemed like another campaign stop to her. I don't think she realized the awesomeness of the situation - if indeed these were all State Department employees, which I assume they were. Or maybe she's just not human. But they were thrilled to get her - or perhaps just euphoric over getting rid of Condi.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


The reaction of State Department employees as Hillary Clinton arrived this morning apparently bears comparison to the liberation of Paris at the end of World War II.


I met last week with a number of career State Department employees and was surprised when one said she was looking forward to the “Glinda Party” next week. I asked her: if Hillary was Glinda, the Good Witch of the South from the Wizard of Oz, did that make Condoleezza Rice the Wicked Witch of the West?

“You’re on to it,” she said. Another person pointed out to me that after Rice’s arrival in 2005 the tone of official State Department publications changed; they began to praise and glorify Rice. “No prior secretary,” said the twenty-year veteran, “did anything like this.”


Last Parting Shots

George W. Bush was widely expected to grant a large number of pardons during his final days in office, but almost none were forthcoming.

  Raw Story

You know, we probably shouldn’t be surprised. George is not the forgiving type.

According to conservative columnist and Cheney biographer Stephen F. Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, "Bush's decision not to pardon Libby has angered many of the president's strongest defenders. One Libby sympathizer, a longtime defender of Bush, told friends she was 'disgusted' by the president. Another described Bush as 'dishonorable' and a third suggested that refusing to pardon Libby was akin to leaving a soldier on the battlefield.”

Hey, he was your weasel, folks.

Hayes quotes Cheney himself as saying, "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and honorable men I've ever known. He's been an outstanding public servant throughout his career. He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision."

And some of us think the miscarriage of justice was that Cheney didn’t go down, too.

[Jan 12] Bush said he didn't know what to expect immediately after he leaves office but …..


”I just can't envision myself, you know, the big straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt sitting on some beach," he said.

  Market Watch

I don’t even want to envision it, but is there maybe a little dig intended by mentioning a Hawaiian shirt? We haven’t forgotten that he was the president who by far and away spent a large amount of his time on vacation. Clearing brush. Hah. He could sure envision himself on a golf cart a lot.

Speaking of spending time on some beach…

Barack and Malia Obama

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

GOP Brand

Via The Daily Dish. (Click to enlarge.)

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Another Step in the Right Direction - Part 2

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. prison camp for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closed within a year and banned intelligence agencies from using the harshest interrogation techniques.

The president also formed an interagency task force to recommend options for the detention and questioning of enemy combatants.


One of Obama’s orders directs all government personnel to follow the Army Field Manual guidelines for interrogations. The manual bans the use of threats and physical abuse during questioning.


Just during questioning?

What damage can be done in one more year? And do we really trust the CIA to honor the directive to follow AFM guidelines? And there are still a lot of details to work out about what's going to happen to the "detainees."

Well, at least it's a step.

The Order also prohibits reliance on any Department of Justice or other legal advice concerning interrogation that was issued between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009.

  Dependable Renegade

Pic from UK Telegraph.

About Your Privacy..

Hasn't the big excuse and rationalization been that the government could only "tap" your conversations if one of the persons involved were in a foreign country? Think again.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Off to a Rocky Start with China

Chinese state television dropped the broadcast at this point in Obama's inaugural speech:

"Recall that earlier generations faced down communism and fascism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions," Obama said in his 18-minute inauguration address on Tuesday.


And while I do think on the whole it was a very good speech, I think that was totally uncalled for and just plain wrong. Communism may not be our cup of tea, but it is (ideally practiced – which nothing ever is) an economic model for government, not a threat to our safety. It is the attacks of other countries one could argue that we “face down”, and he should have chosen more appropriate words to state that. Unless, of course, he intended to cast other economic models as evils we need to guard against with military might.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Geithner Says He Should Have Been More Careful

About paying his taxes. He even said he's sorry.

One would hope he thinks he should have been more careful. Especially for somebody we're supposed to believe is the right person to handle the entire U.S. treasury.

I'm not convinced. I'm not convinced he's the right person. And I'm not convinced it was a lack of being careful that caused him to avoid paying a lot of taxes.

He says he made "careless mistakes", "avoidable mistakes", but that they were unintended. While I don't for a minute believe that (check out the details for yourself), even if it were true, I don't want somebody making careless and avoidable mistakes with our treasury. We're in a deep enough hole as it is.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Okay, Now We Got That Out of the Way

After the flub heard around the world, President Barack Obama has taken the oath of office. Again. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath to Obama on Wednesday night at the White House — a rare do-over.


Or maybe not...

Where's the Bible? You know that's going to be an issue.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Step in the Right Direction

On Nov. 1, [2001] with no announcement, President Bush signed Executive Order 13233, overriding the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which provides that a president's papers will be made available to the public 12 years after he leaves office. Bush's new order gives the White House, as well as former presidents, the right to veto this release of documents, thereby taking the responsibility for administering presidential papers away from the archivist of the United States. By forcing citizens to go to court to obtain the right to view an administration's records, the order effectively blocks access to information that enables Americans to hold our presidents accountable for their actions.


Executive Order 13233 directly subverts the intent of the Presidential Records Act by placing ultimate responsibility for decisions regarding access to presidential papers not only with President Bush, but with any sitting president in the future, as well as every ex-president, and, even further, the family members and heirs of former presidents, apparently without limit.


In one of his first official acts as president, Barack Obama has overturned a controversial executive order in which former President George W. Bush limited public access to presidential records.

The order, No. 13233, was issued by Mr. Bush in 2001. It expanded the power of current and former chief executives — and their heirs — to restrict access to their official records. Last year the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would have gutted the order, but the measure ran into resistance in the Senate. The House took up the issue again this month.


The news that Mr. Obama had overturned it was reported by the National Coalition for History, an advocacy group, on its Web site this afternoon.

  Chronicle of Higher Education

Resistance by that noble Senate of Democrat opposition to Bush. Well now.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

We Need Some Assurance Here

It appears the GOP wants to make sure Eric Holder won't be trying to prosecute anyone other than the front line GIs who've already gotten their hand-slaps for the US torture tactics before they'll confirm him as AG.

Let's see how long he holds out.

Watch the Obama Reaction

Joltin' Joe poked at Justice Roberts.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

So Much To Do

President Barack Obama's first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House and to freeze the salaries of high-paid aides, in a nod to the country's economic turmoil.

Announcing the moves while attending a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to swear in his staff, Obama said the steps "represent a clean break from business as usual."


"Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington," said the new president, taking office amid startlingly bad economic times that many fear will grow worse.

  Huffington Post

Yes, that’s going to be rough on those aides – it applies to those making over $100,000 a year – now they’ll know what it’s like for the rest of us, eh?

Obama's new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted.


The new rules also require that anyone who leaves his administration is not allowed to try to influence former friends and colleagues for at least two years.

All very nice. And believe me when I say they’ll find a way around these new limits.

He also said that all government agencies were to try to provide as much information under the Freedom of Information Act as they could, rather than trying to find ways not to provide the information.

"For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city," Obama said.

He said the orders he was issuing Wednesday will not "make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be" nor go as far as he would like.

"But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country," Obama said. "And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people, in the days and weeks, months and years to come."

Well, we hope so, too. And what’s keeping him from issuing orders that would take things “as far as he would like,” I wonder.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Gitmo Tribunals

David Iglesias -- the former US Attorney who was fired in 2006 for failing to prosecute politically motivated cases as aggressively as the Bush administration and its allies wanted -- has a new job.

Iglesias, a member of the US Naval Reserve JAG corps, has been reactivated as part of a special prosecution team for Guantanamo detainees.


And he signaled what seemed to be a change in tone from the Bush years. "We want to make sure that those terrorists that did commit acts will be brought to justice -- and those that did not will be released."



The US president, Barack Obama, has ordered a suspension of the controversial Guantánamo Bay military tribunals, in one of his first actions after being sworn in yesterday.

Within hours of taking office Obama's administration filed a motion to halt the war crimes trials for 120 days, until his new administration completes a review of the much-criticised system for trying suspected terrorists.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

First Day Business

"This morning, the President placed phone calls to four Middle Eastern leaders: President Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term, and to express his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership. In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict, he emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the ceasefire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza. He pledged that the United States would do its part to make these efforts successful, working closely with the international community and these partners as they fulfill their responsibilities as well. The President appreciated the spirit of partnership and warm nature of these calls."

  WH Press Secretary via TPM

I am not finding this on the White House website.

That Pesky Oath

Several constitutional lawyers said President Obama should, just to be safe, retake the oath of office that was flubbed by Chief Justice John Roberts.


In giving the oath, Roberts misplaced the word "faithfully," at which point Obama paused quizzically. Roberts then corrected himself, but Obama repeated the words as Roberts initially said them.

A do-over "would take him 30 seconds, he can do it in private, it's not a big deal, and he ought to do it just to be safe," said Boston University constitutional scholar and Supreme Court watcher Jack Beermann. "It's an open question whether he's president until he takes the proper oath."

The courts would probably never hear a challenge, and some might argue that Obama automatically took office at noon because that's when President Bush left the office. But because the procedure is so explicitly prescribed in the Constitution, Beermann said if he were Obama's lawyer, he would recommend retaking it, just as two previous presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur, did under similar circumstances.

"The Constitution says what he's supposed to say," Beermann said. "... It's kind of surprising the chief justice couldn't get it right."

The only reason not to retake the oath would be to prevent further embarrassment of the chief justice, he said.


Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, was hosting an inauguration party at his home in McLean, Va., Tuesday and did a mock swearing-in of 35 children. When Roberts erred, one child shouted: "That's not right!"

"He should probably go ahead and take the oath again," Turley said. "If he doesn't, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn't meet the constitutional standard. I don't think it's necessary, and it's not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice's version of a wardrobe malfunction."


Did Roberts really flub? Was it intentional? Don your beanies, folks.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Candid Camera

Saw this at Rising Hegemon. And it really is a great picture. (Click to enlarge.)

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

An Inconvenient Truth

What I think the new Barack Obama -- President Obama -- is going to find it very hard to do is go around the world and say: "we're now again a nation of laws," if the first act he commits as President is to walk away from confirmed war crimes.


All they have to do is say: "we're going to allow the law to be enforced." That's not a very difficult thing to say. But it's going to be inconvenient.


The status of George Bush is not that different from Augusto Pinochet. They've both been accused of running a torture program. Outside of this country, there is not this ambiguity about what to do about a war crime. There are four treaties that make this an international violation. So if you go abroad, and try to travel, most people abroad are going to view you not as "former President George Bush" -- they're going to view you as a current war criminal.

  Jonathan Turley via Glenn Greenwald at Salon

But I don’t imagine that will hamper George’s future plans. Other than Mexico, he never went anywhere outside the U.S. before he became president. He won’t be interested in going anywhere now. The only way that might happen is if the Dems did what they should do, and then he might be slipping out of the country in the dark of night to some hide out in the jungles of South America.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rahm On the Job

White House officials tell CNN Obama Chief Staff of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent a memo Tuesday to all agencies and departments of the federal government. The memo halts further consideration of pending regulations throughout the government until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration.


"The Work of Remaking America"

If you did not get a chance to see/hear the inaugural speech Obama gave, you should do so. Let us hope he was sincere and that we can meet some measure of succeeding

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


I learned yesterday that after Hurricane Ike blew through here, the Obamas sent a check to the recovery fund. Nice.

Without segue,we need to do something about our TV culture, pronto. Everything is done for the benefit of and to fit in with the programming of television. HBO bought up the rights to Sunday's pre-inaugural concert. That Neighborhood Ball tonight was a crock of mediocre TV fare unfit to watch, rights owned by ABC, of course. I'm sorry our biggest political affair since anyone can remember was co-opted by TV. Reality TV may be the second worst thing that ever came from humankind. After religion.

...but hey, do what you will anyway, and this is a nice picture (which I stole from The Sun).


Now that is style.

The New White House Website

Here It Is

HBO has pulled it from YouTube and it's down from Rising Hegemon and Brilliant at Breakfast.

This performance made even an old cynic like me stand up.

Until they snag it...

Pass it around quickly. Note the verses they chose to include:

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office, I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there whistling
This land was made for you and me.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
A great big sign there said private property;
But on the other side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

Just Go Away

More great moments...

And when I think of the Rikki Lake family we might have had moving in behind this clown...

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Quick Look Back

Think Progress lists the top 43 appointments that helped Bush 43 nearly destroy this country.

Obama Has a Hard Climb Ahead

In an article published on Townhall today, RNC Chairman candidate and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell urges congressional conservatives to oppose the reinvestment and recovery stimulus plan promoted by President-elect Obama.


”Creating 600,000 new jobs might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House.”


The bottom line is that, in an economy that lost 1.2 million jobs last year, Blackwell’s biggest concern is to block the creation of new jobs because those newly-employed Americans might vote Democratic.

  Think Progress

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


More than 200 protesters led by a Maine activist marched to the front gate of the White House today and tossed their shoes at the fence as a farewell gesture to outgoing President Bush.

No one was injured or arrested in the protest, which made its way from DuPont Circle down Connecticut Avenue to the president's residence.


"We were determined to make a statement and the police let us make it," she said.

  Maine Today

Perhaps even secretly wanting to join in.

Day of Service

Well, I know that Barack Obama painted a room (blue) in a teen shelter for his National Day of Service service. What did the Chimperor do? Did he pardon somebody for his service?

Oh, here it is: he made phone calls all around the world.

What's Up?

The wife of Vice President-elect Joe Biden let it slip to Oprah Winfrey Monday that her husband had a pick of two jobs in the Obama administration.

Jill Biden said President-elect Barack Obama gave Biden the choice of being secretary of state or vice president. The vice president-elect tried to hush his wife as soon as the words came out of her mouth, with a loud "shhh!" that sent the audience into laughter.

The vice president-elect said he only accepted Obama's offer to be his running mate after talking it over with "Jilly," his pet name for his wife. Mrs. Biden said she told him vice president would be better for the family.


Joe Biden's office just put out this statement, doing some quick messaging/damage-control on Jill Biden's declaration today on the Oprah Winfrey show about how Joe was offered either the Vice Presidency or Secretary of State:
"Like anyone who followed the presidential campaign this summer, Dr. Jill Biden knew there was a chance that President-elect Obama might ask her husband to serve in some capacity and that, given his background, the positions of Vice President and Secretary of State were possibilities. Dr. Biden's point to Oprah today was that being Vice President would be a better fit for their family because they would get to see him more and get to participate in serving more. To be clear, President-elect Obama offered Vice President-elect Biden one job only -- to be his running mate. And the Vice President-elect was thrilled to accept the offer."


....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Better Hurry

HBO is going over Youtube with a fine tooth comb and having all clips of the event pulled under copyright claims. Want to see the special moment where an 89 year old Pete Seeger sang This Land Is Your Land on the footsteps of the Lincoln Memorial? Tough luck.


They pulled the John Mellencamp and Stevie Wonder videos I had linked in my earlier post already. The Obama speech is still there. Maybe it's just the music performances they're wiping. You can still see the whole thing at

Mistake In Scheduling

HBO says the Obama people are at fault for the non-airing of the invocation before the concert yesterday. Obama's people say that's not true. I don't know who to believe, but I say this is the invocation that should have been planned for the inauguration tomorrow.

Why We MUST Investigate & Prosecute

Glenn Greenwald spells it out as to leave no doubt that the new administration is bound by duty and law to prosecute the Bush Administration for the practice of torture. And that will be their big test as to whether they will uphold the law. Of course, Bush could thwart even an attempt to do so with one act before he leaves. (I doubt he'll need to.)

Inauguration Celebration Kick-Off

Update: 6:30pm - links fixed.

Did you get to see the National Mall inaugural celebration “We Are One” yesterday? If not, HBO has it up online here: (Unfortunately, I didn’t see a way to make it full screen.)

It seemed like a Christmas special. Nice music by the military bands. And it seemed like a great time was had by all. The crowd pretty much covered the mall area, and they seemed to be singing and “dancing” throughout. But how creepy that they thought they needed to put a Downs Syndrome kid (who was sleeping through most of it) on the stage behind Obama for the cameras . Does Sarah Palin really have that much influence over the rest of our lives now?

Bettye LaVette and Jon Bon Jovi did a great duet of “A Change Is Gonna Come”. James Taylor with “Shower the People You Love” wasn’t quite on his game, but I always like James Taylor, and John Legend, who sang with him, did a really nice job.

John Mellencamp (just when did he drop the Cougar?) seriously got down. And Garth Brooks?! Now he had the whole mall rockin’ (and Obama himself singing along). He took off his cowboy hat to salute Barack Obama, and at the end of his number, he said, “God bless America. God bless the world. Love one another.” I wonder how many rednecks are burning his albums.

Big Fat Stevie Wonder had the Obamas on their feet. They must really like him, because I think he’s lost what he used to have, and he didn’t even do his number by himself.

U2 performed a couple of songs, one with very interesting lyrics which they said Obama chose to put on some album (sorry, I didn’t quite get that) – City of Blinding Lights - and between songs said that this wasn’t just an American dream, “It’s an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream…..[pause just long enough to make you have to hear it, Mr. Obama, and World]….and a Palestinian dream.” Way to go, U2.

All-in-all, I liked everybody, with the notable exceptions of Renee Fleming (hell, even Gerry and the Pacemakers would have been better, IMHO), and the trio of Herbie Hancock, Will.I.Am and Sheryl Crow. I expected much better from them.

I would have put dear old Pete Seeger along with his grandson and Bruce Springsteen as the last number for the evening with “This Land Is Your Land” (George Lucas in the audience singing along), but they kept that spot for “America the Beautiful” sung by everybody who performed anything in the show, led by Beyonce, who, sadly, did not do the single ladies dance.

When Obama gave his short speech near the end, he was standing directly beneath the Lincoln Memorial statue. Does Mr. Lincoln always wear such a startled expression? Obama asked us to recognize ourselves in one another in order to right things. Wise and sound advice.

Or, if you don’t want to (or can’t) watch the whole celebration, then you can click the embeds in this post for (poor quality) YouTube videos, and then at least click on over to Rising Hegemon* where Attaturk says, “…how nice to see Pete Seeger out there with the boss singing a Woody Guthrie song the GOP would like to have banned for all time,” and see the video of the penultimate number of the evening.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

*Since HBO has sucked up the rights to show these clips, I think I should point out that these guys restored some of the "radical verses" for this performance:

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office, I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there whistling
This land was made for you and me.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
A great big sign there said private property;
But on the other side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

Update: TPM seems to have kept the video.

P.S. I almost forgot - tucked into the noble sentiments from dead presidents portion of the show where actors and actresses got their little spots was a Ronald Reagan quote. I can't recall which poor actress had to deliver it with a straight face, but the quote was about all men being equal. I'm sorry, but Ronald Reagan talking about all men being his brother just rings exceptionally hollow. That was obviously back in the day when the GOP was still trying to pretend. That they have even managed to get Ronald Reagan thought of as one of our great presidents is a testimony to the lack of reflection or intelligent analysis on the part of our citizenry. I guess the show's producers were trying to stay in keeping with Obama's promise to reach across the aisle. Very risky business that. From what I've seen, when a Democrat reaches across the aisle, the Republican cuts off his hand and pawns his rings.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

8 Years in 8 Minutes

It is to weep.

Keith Olbermann's recap of the Bush years via WTF via FireDogLake.

And SIGH,but thankfully, Tuesday marks the End of an Error.

And Now That He's Going...

I'm sure we'll have lots of stories. Like this one from a gay boy's visits to the White House as a friend of not-Jenna, describing the George you just knew was there 9/11, and always.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Rebirth of a Nation

Once again, we have the opportunity to throw out the king and turn to a president.

Is This Going to Be a Problem?

This week, at his confirmation hearing, Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general-designate, did not hesitate to express a clear view. He noted that waterboarding had been used to torment prisoners during the Inquisition, by the Japanese in World War II and in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.

“We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam,” Mr. Holder said. “Waterboarding is torture


Yet his statement, amounting to an admission that the United States may have committed war crimes, opens the door to an unpredictable train of legal and political consequences. It could potentially require a full-scale legal investigation, complicate prosecutions of individuals suspected of committing terrorism and mire the new administration in just the kind of backward look that Mr. Obama has said he would like to avoid.Mr. Holder’s statement came just two days after the Defense Department official in charge of military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, said in an interview with The Washington Post that she had refused to permit a trial for one detainee there, Mohammed al-Qahtani, because she believed he had been tortured.

Together the statements, from a current and an incoming legal official, cover both the Central Intelligence Agency, which has acknowledged waterboarding three captured operatives of Al Qaeda, and the military’s detention program.


Two obvious obstacles stand in the way of a prosecution: legal opinions from the Justice Department that declared even the harshest interrogation methods to be legal, and a provision in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that grants strong legal protections to government employees who relied on such legal advice in counterterrorism programs.


And a third obstacle: Obama’s recent remarks that he wants to look forward and not back.

And a fourth obstacle: Only a handful of people who could bring about an investigation want one.

Still, Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch, said, “It would be contrary to the principles of the criminal justice system for the attorney general to say he believes a very serious crime has been committed and then to do nothing about it.”

Well, those were principles of the criminal justice system before the Bush Admin.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


At any rate, I don't think anybody in the Bush Administration or the CIA need lose any sleep over their criminal activities:

At his confirmation hearing, Mr. Holder was asked by Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, whether he would pursue a criminal investigation of the interrogation programs.

Mr. Holder hedged his response, saying, “Senator, no one’s above the law, and we will follow the evidence, the facts, the law, and let that take us where it should.”

But he added, quoting Mr. Obama, that “we don’t want to criminalize policy differences” and finally pleaded for time to study the matter.

“One of the things I think I’m going to have to do,” Mr. Holder said, “is to become more familiar with what happened that led to the implementation of these policies.”

After which time, he will undoubtedly find that there were "extenuating circumstances" and everything is okay. Move along.

Dare We Hope?

Will the Obama Administration's pick of Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security bring a little common sense to the table?

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary-designate Janet Napolitano promised at her confirmation hearing on Thursday to step up pressure on companies that hire illegal immigrants, and key senators said they would move to approve her nomination swiftly.

"You have to deal with illegal immigration from the demand side, as well as the supply side" by working with the Justice Department to prosecute companies that hire illegal workers, the Arizona governor said.


Napolitano, 51, was roundly praised by members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, who said they would move to confirm her as soon as possible after Democratic President-elect Barack Obama takes office on January 20.


Napolitano has criticized the federal program to build a fence along the border with Mexico. "I don't think I would be giving good advice to the committee if I said that's the best way to protect our border," she said at her confirmation hearing.

  LA Times

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

I'd Like to Say I Can't Believe It

But I can.

“It’s a never-ending sinkhole of taxpayer money into major financial institutions without [attaching] some major strings,” Allen Sinai, chief global economist at Decision Economics, a private consulting firm, told lawmakers on the Senate Budget Committee Thursday. “[TARP] is the status quo,” he added later. “I wouldn’t support that.”

Sinai’s comments came just hours before the Senate voted to release the second half of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout with virtually no restriction on how it’s spent. The count was 52 to 42, with five Republicans supporting the release and eight Democrats, along with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), opposing it. [Emphasis mine.]

  Washington Independent

Isn’t the lack of oversight what they’ve been whining about and why they are upset with what happened to the first half of the bailout money? Christ on a cracker.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Col.), who voted against TARP as a House member last year, said he supported the release of the second $350 billion “because I am confident that President-elect Obama will use the money in a way that will stabilize our financial system and strengthen our economy.”

Confidence is great. But, Senator D-umbbell, President-elect Obama isn’t the one who will be using the money. President Bush-the-Lesser used the money to have banks issue loans to bail out the mortgage crisis, and what did they do with it? They bought other banks and gave their executives huge bonuses.

Christ on a cracker.

House Democrats weren’t in such a trusting mood. This week party leaders debated legislation to restrict Obama’s bailout spending. Sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, the proposal would rein in executive compensation and shareholder dividends under TARP; direct at least $40 billion toward foreclosure mitigation; and force the bailed-out banks to detail their spending plans. House Democratic leaders said the bill would place important checks on how the White House will administer TARP spending.

Well, I should think.

The Senate, however, has no plans to take up the Frank bill — or anything similar. Instead, Democratic leaders in the upper chamber are ready to take Obama’s economic team at its word.

And I seem to remember Obama saying something to the effect that unchecked executive power is okay as long as the executive is someone good and responsible like himself.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.