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Saturday, December 06, 2008

House Democratic leaders have decided to lengthen the congressional workweek next year as they try to implement President-elect Obama’s agenda and clear a backlog of priorities no longer subject to the veto of President Bush.

Obama "We won't just throw money at the problem,"

Treasury Department officials are laying the groundwork for seeking the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue package from Congress and have approached President-elect Barack Obama's transition team in an effort to gain access to the funds, sources familiar with the matter said.
With lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressing heated opposition to such a request, Treasury officials have come to realize that they need the president-elect's help to obtain the rescue money, the sources said.

Obama Pledges Massive Public Works Program (VIDEO)

Your Weekly Address from the President-Elect

CHICAGO — President-elect Barack Obama said Saturday he's asked his economic team for a recovery plan that saves or creates more than 2 million jobs, makes public buildings more energy-efficient and invests in the country's roads and schools.
"We won't just throw money at the problem," Obama said in his weekly radio address and Internet video. "We'll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve _ by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world."
Obama's remarks come after the Labor Department announced Friday that employers cut 533,000 jobs in November, the most in 34 years.
Obama said his plan would put millions of people to work by "making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s."

Obama vows Eisenhower-like infrastructure investment

Prosecutors obtained the indictment late Thursday and had it put under seal until it is made public, perhaps as early as Monday.

WASHINGTON — Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards have been indicted and a sixth was negotiating a plea with prosecutors for a 2007 shooting that left 17 Iraqis dead and became an anti-American rallying cry for insurgents, people close to the case said Friday.
Prosecutors obtained the indictment late Thursday and had it put under seal until it is made public, perhaps as early as Monday. All who discussed the case did so on condition of anonymity because the matters remain sealed.
Six guards have been under investigation since a convoy of heavily armed Blackwater contractors opened fire in a crowded Baghdad intersection on Sept. 16, 2007. Witnesses say the shooting was unprovoked but Blackwater, hired by the State Department to guard U.S. diplomats, says its guards were ambushed by insurgents while responding to a car bombing.
Young children were among the victims and the shooting strained relations between the U.S. and Iraq. Following the shooting, Blackwater became the subject of congressional hearings in Washington and insurgent propaganda videos in Iraq.
The exact charges in the indictment were unclear, but the Justice Department has been considering manslaughter and assault charges against the guards for weeks. Prosecutors have also been considering bringing charges under a law, passed as part of a 1988 drug bill, that carries a mandatory 30-year prison sentence for using a machine gun in a crime of violence.
The Justice Department has ordered five of the six guards to surrender Monday to the FBI, but details of where and precisely what time were still being worked out Friday, according to those people close to the case.
The remaining guard has been negotiating to reduce the charges against him in return for cooperation. If completed, such a deal could provide prosecutors with a key witness against the other five. Others in the convoy have already testified before a federal grand jury about the shooting.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined comment.

The refrain was a question: “What do we really know about this man?”

The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.
President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better.
Demonization, guilt by association, and the politics of fear did not triumph, not this time. Let’s hope they never will again. And let’s hope we might now assert that in our wildly diverse society, talking and listening to the widest range of people is not a sin, but a virtue.
William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the author of “Fugitive Days” and a co-author of the forthcoming “Race Course.”

"Once Upon a Time in America",

"In a crude sort of way, politically speaking, as Zanesville goes so goes the country. Like Ohio itself, roughly equal numbers reside either side of the political divide. Mayor Butch Zwelling is a Democrat, and in New Concord, a few miles east, the ace pilot, astronaut and 1984 Democratic presidential candidate and former senator John Glenn has lived most of his life. Drive the suburban streets and the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin signs populate lawns in about equal proportion, sharing the turf as they must with prospective senators, sheriffs, judges and the like, and various ‘propositions', all to be determined on the same day as the vote for president takes place."
In "Once Upon a Time in America", Don Watson reports on the last days of the American election campaign from Zanesville, a swing city in the all-important swing state of Ohio. Talking with locals and attending rallies, he captures the heightened mood of a country on the brink of change, and offers an eloquent analysis of Obama's success and McCain's struggle to engage the populace.
"‘I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,' Obama wrote. Not entirely blank, surely: change; hope; belief; cool, single-minded resolve - for his followers, Obama projects half a dozen qualities that add up to ‘Yes, we can.' But the big message is unity, binding a divided nation with a sense of common purpose. A blank screen he may wish to be, but there is no denying that he is also a saviour, not a preacher; a figure to believe in and around whom the sad and angry can congregate. People talk about how his campaign has revitalised not only democracy in America, but communities as well. You also get the feeling that, for the duration of the campaign at least, he is revitalising lives, souls."

From slave cabin to White House, a family rooted in black America
Michelle Obama’s ancestors suffered slavery, segregation and humiliation. Her heritage embodies a dark past many would rather forget

Slave cabins still stand at the Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina. The whitewashed, wooden structures in Slave Street, a sandy track at the back of the plantation owner’s house, were once crammed with captive African labourers. No more than sheds really, the cabins have no heating, no glass and no indoor plumbing, and are propped up on brick pillars to keep out flood water and visiting snakes.
The Withers family relied on more than 300 Africans to bring in the rice crop from their fields along the Sampit River. Among their slaves in the mid-19th century was a tall, hardworking, God-fearing man named Jim Robinson. His remains probably lie in the slave graveyard in the swampy land down by the river’s edge and his fate might well have been to disappear from history, like so many other slaves, except he is the great-great-grandfather of America’s new First Lady.
Michelle Obama’s family embodies the tragic yet triumphant journey of African-Americans. Slavery is a bitter history that many would prefer to forget, but it continues to cast a dark shadow over a nation that was founded on the promise that “all men are created equal” and endowed with the “unalienable rights” to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Though it may seem like a phenomenon of an impossibly distant past, slavery is only just outside living memory. The last slave cabin at Friendfield was vacated in the Sixties and one of Robinson’s granddaughters, who heard stories about him from her father, still lives in a whitewashed, breeze-block bungalow on the edge of the Friendfield lands.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Maybe one of these suits will be coming to your state, very soon!

Yesterday, I made note of how one of these nutlog lawsuits alleging that President-Elect Barack Obama was not an American citizen had been appealed to the Supreme Court. Well, apparently, that's not the only lawsuit of this sort snaking it way through our court system. The Honolulu Advertiser has the news:

Looking for the Ideal Spot to Make a Speech. So where should he do it?

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama's aides say he is considering making a major foreign policy speech from an Islamic capital during his first 100 days in office.
So where should he do it? The list of Islamic world capitals is long, and includes the obvious --Riyadh, Kuwait City, Islamabad -- and the not-so-obvious -- Male (the Maldives), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Some wise-guys have even suggested Dearborn, Mich., as a possibility.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bush jokes about WMD's at white house dinner

Rove: We Wouldn't Have Invaded Iraq If We Knew The Truth About WMDs

In what was a remarkable admission that contradicted - to a large extent - the past statements from his onetime boss, former Bush strategist Karl Rove said on Tuesday evening that had the President known Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction, the United States would not have gone to war.
"In the aftermath of 9/11 the concern was about a tyrant accused of enormous human rights abuses," but who also possessed weapons of mass destruction, said Rove. "Absent that, I suspect that the administration's course of action would have been to work to find more creative ways to constrain him like in the 90s."
The remarks, delivered at a debate in New York on Bush's legacy, came amidst a vigorous defense by Rove on behalf of the war's purpose and outcome. At no point was it mentioned that the administration -- specifically Vice President Dick Cheney -- reportedly advanced faulty or poorly sourced information to fit the conclusion that Iraq possessed WMD, or that intelligence reports from the run-up to the war suggested that such a case was flimsy. Later in the event, Rove argued that Saddam Hussein was supporting terrorism, poised a grave threat to the region, and had systematically duped the international community into assuming he was armed.

Obama briefed daily on intelligence

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Barack Obama apparently has a hearty appetite for intelligence.
The president-elect is receiving intelligence briefings every day of the week, exceeding the six days given to President Bush, according to Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence.
At an appearance Tuesday at Harvard University, McConnell jokingly wondered aloud whether "there's a little bit of competition" between the men.
He said he was amazed at how much and information the two men absorb and how quickly they do it. "The speed with which these two particular gentlemen absorb information and move on is astounding," said McConnell.
Obama's briefings typically last 30 to 60 minutes and cover a "great deal of substance on any topic you can imagine" concerning national security and threats to the country, McConnell added.

Obama Firing All Bush-Appointed Ambassadors

Obama Gives Political Ambassadors Their Pink Slips

The incoming Obama administration has notified all politically-appointed ambassadors that they must vacate their posts as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, a State Department official said.
The clean slate will open up prime opportunities for the president-elect to reward political supporters with posts in London, Paris, Tokyo and the like. The notice to diplomatic posts was issued this week.
Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush's ambassadorial appointees.
Most ambassadors, of course, are foreign service officers, but often the posts involving the most important bilateral relations (such as with Great Britain, Japan and India) or desirable locales (such as the Bahamas) are given to close friends and well-heeled contributors of the president.

Gates: Military Looks To Accelerate Iraq Pullout, Shut Down Guantanamo

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled a willingness to forge ahead with two key priorities for the incoming Obama administration: accelerating the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
As the only Republican Cabinet member asked to stay on by President-elect Barack Obama, Gates told reporters Tuesday that military commanders are looking at ways to more quickly pull troops out of Iraq in light of the 16-month timetable that was a centerpiece of the Democrat's campaign.
He also said it will be a high priority to work with the new Congress on legislation that will enable the U.S. to close the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, where about 250 terrorism suspects are still being held.
In a blunt and occasionally personal briefing, Gates acknowledged his unique position in the new Democratic administration _ a job he said he did not want or seek but felt he could not turn down.
"I guess I would say that I was engaged in my own form of strategic deterrence," said Gates, who for the past two years has talked only of his desire to return home to Washington state. "It was my hope that if I made enough noise about how much I did not want to stay here and how much I wanted to go back to the Northwest that I wouldn't have to worry about the question ever being asked."
But Obama asked, and Gates said there was no way he could say no. And while there has been much speculation that his tenure might be somewhat short, in an effort to ease the transition during wartime, Gates said his agreement to stay on at the Pentagon is "open-ended" and that there is no timeline for his departure.

Private sector sheds 250,000 jobs in November

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Private employers cut 250,000 jobs in November, the most in seven years, a report by a private employment service said on Wednesday. LinkHere


WASHINGTON — Lawmakers want the Treasury to insist that banking institutions sharing in the $700 billion bailout comply with limits Congress imposed on executive salaries and use the money for its intended purposes.
In the first comprehensive review of the rescue package, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that the Treasury Department has no mechanisms to ensure that banking institutions limit their top executives' pay and comply with other restrictions.
"The GAO's discouraging report makes clear that the Treasury Department's implementation of the (rescue plan) is insufficiently transparent and is not accountable to American taxpayers," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The auditors acknowledged that the program, created Oct. 3 to help stabilize a rapidly faltering banking system, was less than 60 days old and has been adjusting to an evolving mission.
But auditors recommended that Treasury work with government bank regulators to determine whether the activities of financial institutions that receive the money are meeting restrictions on executive pay, dividend payments and repurchasing of shares.
"Treasury also has no policies and procedures in place for ensuring that the institutions are complying with these requirements or that they are using the capital investments in a manner that helps meet the purposes of the act," auditors said.
In a response to the GAO, Neel Kashkari, who heads the department's Office of Financial Stability, said the agency was developing its own compliance program and indicated that it disagreed with the need to work with regulators.
House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank said Treasury's response comes "very close to telling the institutions that they will be free to use the funds as they wish."
"The bad news was confirmation by the GAO in its first report about the program that Treasury has no way to measure whether taxpayer funds invested in banks are being used in accordance with the purpose of the law to increase lending," Frank said. "The much worse news is Treasury's response that it does not even have the intention of doing so."
The GAO is one of three watchdogs that Congress has assigned to monitor the extraordinary $700 billion financial rescue package, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. A congressional oversight panel is scheduled to issue its report on Dec. 10. In addition, Congress created an inspector general's office to oversee the program, but the confirmation of veteran federal prosecutor Neil M. Barofsky to the post has been blocked in the Senate by a senator who remains anonymous under Senate practice.
"This report proves the immediate need for oversight of the taxpayer dollars being expended right now as part of TARP," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said in a statement. "Because of one senator's anonymous block on this nomination, three weeks have been lost _ a key element of the TARP oversight program is not in place."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's the taboo subject you're not supposed to talk about

It's the taboo subject you're not supposed to talk about - Barack Obama's safety in light of the rise of white supremacists in America. ANP investigates in Memphis, Tennessee, where our cameras infiltrate the Stormfront.org Euro Conference. We probe the minds of the Anti-Defamation League, the Racist Skinhead Project and David Duke to assess legitimate threats to the next U.S. presidency.
I know, I know, Bush liberated the Iraqis. But when will we liberate them from Bush's liberation?
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Sarah Palin continues to draw throngs of Republicans while others wish she would simply go away.

Palin Milks Georgia Runoff
As Sen. Saxby Chambliss squares off Tuesday against challenger Jim Martin in Georgia’s runoff election, a certain Alaska governor has managed to work her way back into the spotlight. Stumping for Chambliss, Sarah Palin continues to draw throngs of Republicans while others wish she would simply go away.

Chris Wallace: Bush Is No Nixon

The President-Elect's Message on World AIDS Day

Major Shifts at Pentagon Anticipated in Obama Administration

Obama Ousting Top Bush Pentagon Officials... Besides Gates
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, Gates's right-hand man in running the Pentagon day to day, is widely expected to leave his post, said the officials, one of whom noted that England's speechwriter is reportedly taking another job.
Leading candidates to replace England include Obama campaign adviser Richard J. Danzig, who could eventually replace Gates; Pentagon transition review team co-leader Michèle A. Flournoy; and possibly former Pentagon comptroller William J. Lynn, said Obama transition officials and sources close to the transition.
The anticipated turnover of many key positions suggests that although Gates will help provide some continuity, the status quo will not necessarily endure at the Pentagon.
Continuity is likely to come in the form of Gates and military commanders leading the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, while a new deputy and team of undersecretaries would manage the Pentagon and focus on longer-range issues such as "the budget, the Quadrennial Defense Review, missile defense, relations with allies and preparation for the next crisis," said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The four undersecretaries of defense are also expected to leave, Pentagon and transition officials said. These include Undersecretary for Policy Eric S. Edelman, who has announced that he will depart by Jan. 20, with Flournoy also a candidate to replace him. John J. Young Jr., undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, is "without question" leaving, a source close to the transition said, noting that Gates has publicly criticized the Pentagon's unwieldy acquisition process as shortchanging U.S. troops in the field.

"We're all together. We're all dealing with a common problem."

Obama, Biden Governors Meeting Appearance
President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden met in Philadelphia Tuesday morning with a bipartisan delegation of governors from around the country hosted by the National Governors Association.

Obama had a conversation with rising GOP star Bobby Jindal. Obama asked of the governor's children: "How old are they?"

Jindal replied : "6, 4 and 2."

"You've got three of them!" Obama exclaimed, smiling.

Biden's prepared remarks were:

"And Governor Palin, your being here today sends a powerful message that when campaigns end, we are all partners in progress. Thank you."

But he actually said: "And Governor Palin, I want to thank you particularly. I might point out, as I told you, we walked in. Since the race is over, no one pays attention to me at all. So I'm -- maybe you will walk outside with me or something later and say hello to me," prompting laughs from all, but an especially loud one from Gov. Kaine.

"It's great to see you, Governor," Biden added. "And, by the way, I think it is -- I hope, you know, the whole country can see the sort of a metaphor for the fact that this election is over and here we are," he said. "We're all together. We're all dealing with a common problem."

$1 a year

Big Three CEOs To Take $1 A Year Salaries If Their Companies Get Bailed Out (POLL)
Now that Americans have footed the bill for more than a trillion dollars in bailouts, Congress is finally starting to clamp down on executive pay as a condition for a bailout.

Christopher Hitchens Battles Joan Walsh Over Obama's Foreign Policy Team On Hardball (VIDEO)

President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team today, and the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and Eric Holder as Attorney General made for spirited debate on tonight's edition of Hardball. Slate's Christopher Hitchens and Salon's Joan Walsh battled over the wisdom of Obama's choices, a debate which grew heated and personal.


Jon Stewart: MSNBC Is The New Fox News (VIDEO)

Jon Stewart declared MSNBC the new Fox News Monday night on "The Daily Show," saying MSNBC has stepped up to be "the mouthpiece of this new administration."
Stewart ran down a list of MSNBC's "foot-soldiers" and their Fox News equivalents:
Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly: "freakishly oversized, ruddy-faced Irish multi-millionaire still clinging to his blue collar roots — and it helps if he's quick to anger"
Keith Olbermann and Sean Hannity: "partisan ideologue who fears for the world if it's in any way touched by the hands of his political enemies"
Joe Scarborough and Alan Colmes: "token from the other side of the aisle, a good-hearted yet somewhat hapless fellow who exists purely to give drunks in bars a name to shout out when they're in arguments over your network's ideological purity"
Rachel Maddow and Steve Doocy: "complex eloquent even-tempered lady"
But as Stewart pointed out, citing their recent ad depicting a dark, change-filled world, Fox News won't go down without a fight. Stewart summarized the ad as follow:
"Stay with Fox News: we will protect you from raging fire, Iranian nut jobs, angry gay lovers, and the Jew whispering to the black man." LinkHere

Historic Center of Venice Flooded

Andrea Pattaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
People walked on a flooded quay of Venice's Grand Canal on Monday. More Photos >
VENICE, Italy (AP) -- Venice could use a bailout. The city built on water has too much of it.
Residents and tourists waded through knee-deep water Monday as they navigated the city's narrow streets and alleys, and its historic St. Mark's Square was inundated. Boxes of tourist merchandise floated inside the flooded shops around the square and even the city's famed pigeons sought refuge on rooftops and windowsills.
One of the highest tides in its history brought Venice to a virtual halt, rekindling a debate over a plan to build moveable flood barriers in an effort to save the lagoon city from high tides.

Cheney, Gonzales indictments dropped

Anarchisto says:
Has anybody seen Justice? I'm looking for Justice.
Anyone Surprised.
A judge in Raymondville, Texas has dropped indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Judge Manuel Banales, after surviving a motion to have him removed from the case, threw out eight of the indictments brought by Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra, including those against two special prosecutors, two district judges, and a district clerk.
Judge Banales ruled the grand jury returned the indictments against Cheney and Gonzales unlawfully. Banales also tossed an indictment for corruption against State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr., a Democrat.
Charges were brought against Vice President Cheney and former AG Gonzales for blocking the investigation into a prisoner's murder in a private prison in Raymondville.

Lawmakers into a special session to address California's $11.2 billion deficit.

Schwarzenegger Declares Emergency: California "Is Headed For A Fiscal Disaster"
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency Monday and called lawmakers into a special session to address California's $11.2 billion deficit.
The state's revenue gap is expected to hit $28 billion over the next 19 months without bold action. The emergency declaration authorizes the governor and lawmakers to change the existing budget within 45 days.
The state is likely to run out of cash in February.
"Without immediate action, our state is headed for a fiscal disaster, and that is why ... I am wasting no time in calling a fiscal emergency special session," Schwarzenegger said in prepared remarks.
The Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers have proposed a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, but Republican lawmakers steadfastly refuse to raise taxes.

Monday, December 01, 2008

High-Stakes Showdown

In Courtroom Showdown, Bush Demands Amnesty for Spying Telecoms
Source: WIRED
SAN FRANCISCO — The Bush administration on Tuesday will try to convince a federal judge to let stand a law granting retroactive legal immunity to the nation's telecoms, which are accused of transmitting Americans' private communications to the National Security Agency without warrants.

At issue in the high-stakes showdown — set to begin at 10:00 a.m. PST — are the nearly four dozen lawsuits filed by civil liberties groups and class action attorneys against AT&T, Verizon, MCI, Sprint and other carriers who allegedly cooperated with the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program in the years following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The lawsuits claim the cooperation violated federal wiretapping laws and the Constitution.

In July, as part of a wider domestic spying bill, Congress voted to kill the lawsuits and grant retroactive amnesty to any phone companies that helped with the surveillance; President-elect Barack Obama was among those who voted for the law in the Senate. On Tuesday, lawyers with the Electronic Frontier Foundation are set to urge the federal judge overseeing those lawsuits to reject immunity as unconstitutional. At stake, they say, is the very principle of the rule of law in America.

"I think it does set a very frightening precedent that it's okay for people to break the law because they can just have Congress bail them out later," says EFF legal director Cindy Cohn. "It's very troubling."

Unfrikingbelievable, what a TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE

Bush to receive first-ever International Medal of Peace.»

To mark World AIDS Day, Saddelback Pastor Rick Warren is hosting a Civil Forum on Global Health at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Warren will present President Bush with the first “International Medal of PEACE” from the Global PEACE Coalition in recognition of his unprecedented contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The “International Medal of PEACE” is given for outstanding contribution toward alleviating the five global giants recognized by the Coalition, including pandemic diseases, extreme poverty, illiteracy, self-centered leadership and spiritual emptiness. The Bush administration reports that its AIDS initiative helped treat two million people this year living with HIV/AIDS.
President-elect repeats campaign promise during war cabinet unveiling.

US to station 20,000 troops in US by 2011 to help with 'domestic terror.'

Napolitano A "Tough Cookie" ... Dems Expect "Zero Problems" With Confirmation

Napolitano: A Safe Pair of Hands for Homeland Security
At first glance, President-elect Barack Obama's pick for new Secretary of Homeland Security looks a lot like the person currently holding the job. Gov. Janet Napolitano is a former prosecutor who cares more about immigration and border security than almost anything else. But Napolitano will be very different from Secretary Michael Chertoff in two major ways: First, she is a notch to the left of Chertoff on immigration matters, having repeatedly criticized the building of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and having opposed state bills targeting illegal immigrants. Still, as governor of Arizona, she knows more about immigration than any other DHS fiefdom (and there are hundreds), so it's safe to assume that it will remain a top priority for the agency. And Napolitano is far from liberal on immigration: She was the first governor to call for the National Guard to protect the border at federal expense, and she has worked to penalize businesses that employ illegal immigrants.
Napolitano's other obvious distinction is that, as a governor, she can be expected to have much more sympathy for states, which have felt disrespected and excluded under a top-down approach to homeland security issues since 9/11. "The trust between federal, state and locals is just not there," says Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association. Governors, including Napolitano, have protested the costs of REAL ID, a 2005 law passed by Congress to upgrade the security of driver's licenses, as well as the failure of the Federal government to take a lead in repairing the country's immigration policies. (Napolitano declared a state of emergency in Arizona in 2005 to direct more funds to the state's border.)
And then there is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency that has been under fire ever since Hurricane Katrina. "Fifteen years ago, if I had surveyed every state employee and said, 'What is the one federal organization that you think does a great job,' it would have been overwhelmingly FEMA," says Scheppach. "Now, if I ask what is the one organization that is a failure, they would probably point to FEMA." Scheppach, who knows Napolitano from her time as chair of his organization, expects that she will work to rebuild the trust between the Feds and the locals, which will go a long way to fixing FEMA. "She's smart, she reaches out well, but she knows how to move things. She's pretty highly respected among governors on both sides of the aisle."

"Shadow Government"

Jeb Bush: GOP Should Set Up "Shadow Government"
Via ThinkProgress, in an interview with NewsMax, President Bush's brother Jeb says the Republican party should not cave to a Democratic majority. Rather, they should set up a "shadow government" to provide a counter-agenda.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tells Newsmax that the GOP must broaden its appeal to avoid becoming "the old white-guy party," and recommends that Republicans create a "shadow government" to engage Democrats on important issues as the incoming Obama administration seeks to enact its agenda.

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

Nancy Pelosi offered effusive praise for the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State on Monday, saying the New York Democrat was an ideal fit for the post, would faithfully carry out Barack Obama's policies and serve as an inspiration to woman, much like Pelosi herself.
"I got a call this morning from Hillary Clinton, saying the announcement will be made," Pelosi recalled. "What an exciting moment. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. Thomas Jefferson [and now] Hillary Clinton."
Speaking at a Hunter College forum on the role of gender in politics, the Speaker downplayed the suggestion -- put forth in the form of a question -- that Clinton might face misogynistic obstacles on the world stage.
"None at all," she replied, when asked if this would be the case. "I have traveled the world as Speaker of the House... and I have seen the treatment I have received in these places. And I know the respect that they will have for soon to be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton... What is important to world leaders is, 'Does the president listen to you?'... She is a force in her own right and anybody that might have that thought that you mildly suggested does so at his peril."

Obama Unveils National Security Team

Bush Administration Weakened Lending Rules Before Crash

Documents Reveal: Administration Weakened Rules, Ignored Warnings Before Crash
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.
"Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories," California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.
Bowing to aggressive lobbying _ along with assurances from banks that the troubled mortgages were OK _ regulators delayed action for nearly one year. By the time new rules were released late in 2006, the toughest of the proposed provisions were gone and the meltdown was under way.
"These mortgages have been considered more safe and sound for portfolio lenders than many fixed rate mortgages," David Schneider, home loan president of Washington Mutual, told federal regulators in early 2006. Two years later, WaMu became the largest bank failure in U.S. history.
The administration's blind eye to the impending crisis is emblematic of a philosophy that trusted market forces and discounted the need for government intervention in the economy. Its belief ironically has ushered in the most massive government intervention since the 1930s.
"We're going to be feeling the effects of the regulators' failure to address these mortgages for the next several years," said Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition, who warned regulators to tighten lending rules before it was too late.

Iraq’s Oil: The Greatest Prize Of All ?

...The subject of Iraqi oil is one which has fascinated me for a number of years, so in this post I’ll outline why I believe that Iraq probably has the world’s largest oil reserves - or, as Daniel Yergin once said of the middle east, it is "the greatest single prize in all history" (echoing a similar statement by George Kennan at the end of world war 2)....
continua / continued

End of Immunity Worries U.S. Contractors in Iraq

WASHINGTON — The thousands of American contractors in Iraq who have been above Iraqi law since the war began are suddenly facing a new era in which their United States passports will no longer protect them from arrest and imprisonment.
When the Iraqi government ratified an agreement last week setting new terms for a continued American presence in Iraq, private contractors working for the Pentagon faced the inevitability that they would be stripped of their immunity from Iraqi law. That immunity had been granted by the Coalition Provisional Authority before a postwar Iraqi government was established.
Now that the contractors’ legal protection is to lapse, officials in the defense contracting industry are trying to come to grips with how their operations will change in Iraq, how many of their American employees will be sent home, and whether the weak and often corrupt Iraqi judicial system will become an impediment to recruiting Western workers. If it is approved by Iraq’s Presidency Council, as expected, the agreement will go into effect on Jan. 1.
So far, no major company working in Iraq has announced plans to withdraw from the country. Some industry experts said that while the corporations would stay, they would be forced to rely much more on Iraqi employees, rather than on Americans and other foreigners who might fear working without legal protection.

How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me

I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq
Torture and abuse are against my moral fabric. The cliche still bears repeating: Such outrages are inconsistent with American principles. And then there's the pragmatic side: Torture and abuse cost American lives.
I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The publishing industry is betting on Barack Obama like no president in decades.

Publishers Bet Big On Obama
Since Election Day alone, more than half a dozen book deals have been signed to exploit Obamania.

Since July almost six hundred LDS Church members have expressed their disapproval and/or resigned.

Mormons Losing Members Over Anti-Gay Campaign
While the Mormon Church hierarchy was responsible for organizing millions of dollars and thousands of hours of manpower to pass California's Proposition 8 and Arizona's Prop 102, the church's tactics haven't sat so well with some of its members--including families, members with Mormon heritage going back 150 years, and gay members---who began speaking out in July on the website signingforsomething.org.
Many have public resigned from the church, citing reasons like these:
*I think the church has no right to assume the inner thinkings of its members and take such an open stand of any political issue.


Alaska Notebook: Palin's Georgia pal

This Alaska notebook will appear in Saturday's print edition, on the editorial page:
by Matt Zencey

Gov. Sarah Palin is putting her conservative Republican fame to work in Georgia, stumping for Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is in a tough runoff for re-election.
I wonder if she knows the true measure of the man she is eagerly helping.
Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 by running one of the most reprehensible campaigns of modern times. He was up against incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade during that conflict.
Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam. He got four student draft deferments, and when his number finally came up, he was medically disqualified with knee troubles.
In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism. Distorting Cleland’s votes about workplace rules for the new Homeland Security Department employees, Chambliss portrayed him as a tool of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.
Here’s how the Almanac of American Politics (2006) described it:“Chambliss ran an ad, much attacked in the press, showing pictures of Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Max Cleland, and saying that Cleland 'voted against the President’s vital homeland security efforts 11 times.’” (Those “vital homeland security efforts” Cleland opposed were intended to strip homeland security employees of union rights and other workplace protections.)
The man who couldn’t bring himself to serve in the military said a man who left three limbs behind in war was a weakling who would turn the country over to terrorists.
Chambliss was a congressman during the 9-11 attacks. Congressional Quarterly’s “Politics in America 2006” noted that Congressman Chambliss “quipped that one route to security would be for local sheriffs to 'arrest every Muslim that comes across the state line.’”
So there you have the fine American that Palin is trying to re-elect to the U.S. Senate.
Gov. Palin’s eldest joined the Army and has been deployed to Iraq. As a justifiably proud military mom, she might ask herself why she is using her conservative star power to support such a reprehensible Republican chicken hawk.— Matt Zencey
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