January 11th, 2009


Analysis: GOP urging restraint in stimulus debate

Analysis: GOP urging restraint in stimulus debate

Out of power, Republicans appear to be retreating to familiar old ground. They're becoming deficit hawks again.

GOP lawmakers didn't seem to mind enjoying the fruits of government largesse for the past eight years while one of their own was in the White House. Now they're struggling to regain footing at a time of economic rout, a record $1.2 trillion budget deficit and an incoming Democratic president claiming a mandate for change.
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Bush 41 chokes up over Bush 43’s legacy.»

In “an unprecedented joint interview” of both Bush presidents, Fox News Sunday guest anchor Brit Hume asked George H.W. Bush (”Bush 41″) how he regards his son’s presidency. “Very positively,” the elder Bush said. “Why?” asked Hume. Bush then began choking up as he responded, “Well, because he can make a tough decision and stay with it. I mean, he’s been tested unlike any other president — with this 9/11. So he passed the test.” Watch it:
Bush 43 then stepped in and said his father was also going to “be judged great.” He was “almost too humble to be president,” the younger Bush said of his father. “And when history finally gets objective, they will be able to say a lot of positive things about George Bush.”

Calvin & Hobbes

Obama's CIA pick inspired fictional CoS Leo McGarry!

When Leo McGarry met Leon Panetta


Northern Californians know Leon Panetta, President-elect Barack Obama's pick to be the next CIA chief, as the longtime Monterey Bay area congressman who once served as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff. But most Americans probably know him better as Leo McGarry, the staff chief for Joshua (sic) "Jed" Bartlet.

Bartlet, of course, was the fictional president in "The West Wing," the must-see series for political junkies that ran on NBC from 1999 to 2006.

The resemblance of Leo to Leon — both known as smart, savvy and often playful presidential aides — wasn't missed by Panetta's political friends or by Panetta himself.

Shortly after the TV series started, John Spencer, the late actor who played McGarry, met Panetta, and they exchanged compliments. According to Spencer's 2000 interview with PBS journalist Terence Smith, Panetta told Spencer: "Any administration that would have Leo McGarry as a chief of staff would be very, very fortunate."

During their encounter, Panetta once told IA, Spencer told him the character was modeled in part after him. That made Panetta curious to finally watch the show. And, boy, was he relieved when he saw McGarry in action.

Panetta, a sometimes salty-tongued politician with a wicked and often self-deprecating sense of humor, told IA with a laugh:

"I was so happy to find out that the guy wasn't an a----le."

West Wing scenario FTW!

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  • schmiss

From the Dept. of Awesome Juxtaposition

Obama Leaves Door Open To Investigating Bush, But Wants To "Look Forward"

The top question on Change.gov’s “Open for Questions” feature last week asked whether President-elect Obama will appoint a special prosecutor to “independently investigate” the “greatest crimes” committed under Bush. The inquiry, submitted by Bob Fertik of Democrats.com, has received over 22,000 votes. Today, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Fertik’s question to Obama:
Q: The most popular question on your own website is related to this. On change.gov it comes from Bob Ferdick of New York City and he asks, ‘Will you appoint a special prosecutor ideally Patrick Fitzgerald to independently investigate the greatest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping.’

OBAMA:We’re still evaluating how we’re going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. … My orientation is going to be moving foward.

Obama explained that he doesn’t want CIA employees to “suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering.” He did not specifically rule out a special prosecutor, saying, “That doesn’t mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law.” Watch it:

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Bush: I Personally Authorized Torture Of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

In an interview with Brit Hume that aired today on Fox News Sunday, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said he personally asked “what tools” were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:
BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.

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music | sleigh anne.

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Emine Erdogan, Sheikha Mozah and Queen Rania

Jordan’s Queen Rania and Sheikha Mozah of Qatar were among the several first ladies of the Middle East to gather in Istanbul to call for the end of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. The Queen and the Sheikha joined Syria’s Asma Assad, Lebanon’s Wafa Suleyman, along with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s daughter, Aisha, and the Pakistani prime minister’s wife, Fauzia Gilani, at the meeting, which was called “Women for Peace in Palestine.”

This gathering was set up by Turkey’s First Lady, Emine Erdogan.

“We, in the name of mothers who attach great importance to peace and human life, request that the international community press Israel to stop its attacks,” said the Turkish prime minister’s wife, reading from a joint declaration issued at the end of the meeting.

All the women in attendance wore white shawls over their shoulders which read “peace” in Turkish, Arabic and English.

Emine Erdogan, the Turkish First Lady, hosted the summit at the Four Season Hotel in Istanbul.

Guests include:
Esma Assad - Syria
Hamad Bin Isa El Halife's wife - Bahreyn
Mihriban Aliyev - Azerbaijan
Seyha Mozah - Qatar
Liri Berisa - Albania
Begum Gilani - Pakistan

Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, the wife of King Mohammed, was invited, but could not make it.

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panda bear

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Obama: 'Much more determined' to break Mideast deadlock

President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday the suffering on both sides of Gaza's borders has led him to ramp up his commitment to working for a peace deal in the Middle East.

"When you see civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, harmed, under hardship, it's heartbreaking. And obviously what that does is it makes me much
more determined to try to break a deadlock that has gone on for decades now," he told ABC's "This Week."

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Choice of First Dog Is Narrowed to 2 Breeds

President-elect Barack Obama said that his family is choosing between a Labradoodle, left, and a Portuguese water dog. (Phil Marino; Gordon M. Grant for The New York Times)

The Obamas are nearing a decision on one of the most closely watched appointments of the new administration: the breed of the First Dog.

As President-elect Barack Obama prepared to appear on ABC’s Sunday morning show, “This Week,” the Obama girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, who had joined him in the studio, asked the host George Stephanopoulos to slip the following question into his interview: “What kind of a dog are we getting and when are we getting it?”

Mr. Obama laughed when he got the question. “They seem to have narrowed it down to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound,” he said. The next step, he said, was to canvass shelters to see if they could find one of those breeds as a rescue.

“We’re closing in on it,” he said, adding, “This has been tougher than finding a Commerce secretary.” New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Mr. Obama’s original nominee for the post, recently dropped out, citing a federal “pay-to-play” investigation into his administration.



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Rights group: Israel uses white phosphorus in Gaza

Rights group: Israel uses white phosphorus in Gaza

Human Rights Watch said Sunday that Israel's military has fired artillery shells with the incendiary agent white phosphorus into Gaza and a doctor there said the chemical was suspected in the case of 10 burn victims who had skin peeling off their faces and bodies.

Researchers in Israel from the rights group witnessed hours of artillery bombardments that sent trails of burning smoke indicating white phosphorus over the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. But they could not confirm injuries on the ground because they have been barred from entering the territory.

The chief doctor at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza said he treated several victims there with serious burns that might have been caused by phosphorus. He said, however, that he did not have the resources or expertise to say with certainty what caused the injuries.
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Israel's Gaza war extends into psychological realm

Israel's Gaza war extends into psychological realm

At first it didn't seem unusual when the faces of the Hamas leadership turned up on the group's TV network. But then they were shot down, one by one, while a message warned that Hamas' time was running out.

Even as Israel's armor and foot soldiers push into the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop militants from launching rockets into Israel, the war is also being waged with psychological operations designed to sap morale on both sides.

Over at Islamic Jihad's Voice of Jerusalem radio station in Gaza City, broadcaster Kamal Abu Nasser said that at least once an hour, the Israeli military also breaks into his signal and broadcasts messages blaming Hamas for everyone's problems.

Hamas, for its part, said it has broadcast messages on Israeli military walkie talkies threatening to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers. The army said it had no information on such transmissions.

The fate of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas-linked militants in 2006 and whose whereabouts remain unknown, is repeatedly evoked in broadcasts and statements by Hamas, which has several times has threatened to nab more Israeli soldiers. Hamas tried to spread rumors that it had captured several. At least one actual attempt failed, the military said.

Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ilan Tal said he would not comment on Israel's psychological operations.
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PBS Releases Dreams of Obama

Available for viewing online. As Barack Obama prepares to assume the presidency on January 20th, 2009, FRONTLINE tells the story of how a little known state senator rose from obscurity to the White House in just over four years. Dreams of Obama draws on interviews with those closest to the next president to provide insight into how Obama might lead the country. A personal and political biography, the film begins with Obama's first appearance on the national stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, and follows his carefully choreographed and meteoric rise to prominence within the Democratic Party. Along the way, FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk examines how Obama's life experiences made him uniquely suited to launch his successful campaign to become the country's first black president. Obama's closest friends and advisors reveal how his time as a community organizer in Chicago, his election to the presidency of the Harvard Law Review, and rise to the top of Illinois politics taught him how to navigate America's complicated racial and political divides.
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    Watching Dreams of Obama & Playoffs at Sametime
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Joe the Plumber: ‘I think media should be abolished’ from reporting on war.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber,” is currently in Israel covering the war for the conservative site PJTV.com. When asked what he has learned from his new experiences as a journalist, Wurzelbacher said that he believes the media shouldn’t be allowed to do “reporting” on wars:
I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.
I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.
Watch it:
(HT: VetVoice)
cookie monster
  • capthek

I am always interested in stuff about generational change.

In Obama, many see an end to baby boomer era
By JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck, Ap National Writer – 2 hrs 54 mins ago

NEW YORK – When George W. Bush lifts off in his helicopter on Inauguration Day, leaving Washington to make way for Barack Obama, he may not be the only thing disappearing into the horizon.

To a number of social analysts, historians, bloggers and ordinary Americans, Jan. 20 will symbolize the passing of an entire generation: the baby boomer years.

Generational change. A passing of the torch. The terms have been thrown around with frequency as the moment nears for Obama to take the oath of office. And yet the reference is not to Obama's relatively young age — at 47, he's only tied for fifth place on the youngest presidents list with Grover Cleveland.

Rather, it's a sense that a cultural era is ending, one dominated by the boomers, many of whom came of age in the '60s and experienced the bitter divisions caused by the Vietnam War and the protests against it, the civil rights struggle, social change, sexual freedoms, and more.

Those experiences, the theory goes, led boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, to become deeply motivated by ideology and mired in decades-old conflicts. And Obama? He's an example of a new pragmatism: idealistic but realistic, post-partisan, unthreatened by dissent, eager and able to come up with new ways to solve problems.

"Obama is one of those people who was raised post-Vietnam and really came of age in the '80s," says Steven Cohen, professor of public administration at Columbia University. "It's a huge generational change, and a new kind of politics. He's trying to be a problem-solver by not getting wrapped up in the right-left ideology underlying them."
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Pro-Israeli protests in Britain

Thousands of pro-Israeli demonstrators gathered in London and Manchester today calling for an end to Hamas rocket attacks and condemning the British media's coverage of the conflict in Gaza.

Speakers at the two protests, one in Trafalgar Square and another outside Manchester town hall, accused Hamas of using Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip as human shields, and defended Israel's military action.

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Russia-Ukraine deal on gas for Europe in doubt

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A Russian-Ukrainian deal to restore Russian gas supplies via Ukraine to Europe appeared on the verge of collapse on Sunday after Moscow rejected handwritten additions by Kiev as a 'mockery of common sense'.

A Russian government source said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had proposed sending officials to the EU in Brussels on Monday to discuss the deadlock, that has choked off much of Europe's gas supply at the height of a bitter winter.

Ukraine, its own supplies cut off in a dispute with Moscow over the price it pays for Russian gas, signed an agreement on Sunday allowing monitors to oversee transit gas piping to Europe and ensure Kiev did not siphon off supplies for its own use.

The European Union was also party to the deal and EU monitors had already begun arriving when the new dispute flared.

"I cannot call such stipulations and additions other than a mockery of common sense and violation of earlier achieved agreements," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.

"These actions, in fact, aim to disrupt the existing agreements on monitoring gas transit and are clearly provocative and destructive in essence ... I therefore order the government not to implement the document signed yesterday."
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Here is a more detailed article about the pipeline drama from earlier today when everything still looked peachy :

Russia and Ukraine sign pipeline monitoring deal
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K-Box cartoon


So, how fucked is the Republican Party?

Well, a lot of people think the only thing keeping it alive at the moment is the fact that America has long had a two-party system, except that there's a third party out there that's actually positioning itself as a vastly more viable alternative to the GOP than the Reform Party ever did, not in the least because it's offering a political platform that seems tailor-made to meet the needs of a significant segment of modern America.

The irony inherent in that last part is the fact that this "new" political party is the revival of a party that hasn't been active, or even relevant, to any aspect of American politics since 1856.

Ladies and gentlemen, WELCOME BACK THE WHIGS.

Miami New Times - Republicans Are Bald, Put On Your Whigs

During the grueling Democratic primary, the Republican Party was more than happy to sit back and watch the Dems tear their own party apart from the inside. Ha. So much for that. Now it's the Republicans who are backstabbing each other, with conservatives blaming moderates for the loss and everyone trying to stake their claim for 2012. Seriously, though, the party is just about in disarray at the moment.

Political historians have divided American political history up into five distinct party systems. These things tend to follow a pattern with each lasting about 30 to 40 years, and we are just about due for another one. The last three saw shifts in the dynamics between the Republicans and Democrats, but earlier shifts saw entire parties go extinct and new ones rise from their ashes. So maybe instead of trying to re-engineer the inner workings of the Republican Party, voters should leave it en masse. May we suggest the Modern Whig Party?

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This was posted online all the way back in November. How could I not have seen this before now?
&#39; jules
  • schmiss

It's officially official-like

GOP officials: Sen. Voinovich of Ohio to retire

Two-term Republican senator George Voinovich of Ohio is telling associates he intends to retire rather than run again in 2010, according to officials inside the party.

A formal announcement is expected on Monday.

Voinovich would become the third Republican in recent weeks to announce retirement plans in traditionally competitive states, giving Democrats a chance to pad their already strong majority. Veteran Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri said last week he will retire at the end of his term. First-term Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida also has said he will not seek re-election.

Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas also has announced plans to retire, although his state is more reliably Republican than Ohio, Missouri or Florida.

The officials who described Voinovich's plans did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss them.


schmiss prediction: the Republicans will run Rob Portman, and the Democrats will I hope run Tim Ryan (he's somewhat anti-choice but a really promising & progressive Dem otherwise)
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