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Several days before taking office, President Obama traveled to George Will’s home to dine with a handful of conservative media elites. The beltway conventional wisdom suggested that Obama’s aim was to “neutralize potential adversaries” by way of a “charm offensive.” After the dinner, Bill Kristol explained on Fox and Friends that while “no one’s mind was changed,” he would “end up supporting [Obama] on some things.” Charles Krauthammer joked about Obama’s apparent goals, “I am brainwashed entirely. I’m in the tank.”
Just one week later, Obama’s right-wing acquaintances have already shown the futility of engaging in a good-faith dialogue with them. While Obama pushes his vision for the economic recovery package — his first real battle against the conservative establishment — the dinner’s attendees are on a no-holds-barred offensive against it:
Charles Krauthammer: “Look, this is one of the worst bills in galactic history. … FDR left behind the Hoover dam and Eisenhower left behind the interstate highway system. We will leave behind, after spending $1 trillion, a dog run in East Potomac Park.” [Fox News, 1/24/09]
David Brooks: “It is an unholy marriage that manages to combine the worst of each approach — rushed short-term planning with expensive long-term fiscal impact.” [New York Times, 1/23/09]
Bill Kristol: “The stimulus has so much bad stuff in it. … They let the House Democrats get out of control in sort of writing a pork-laden bill. Politically, I think the Republicans have more room too argue for changes and ultimately vote against it.” [Fox News Sunday, 1/25/09]
Watch a compilation:
Markos Moulitsas, in what now appears to be among the most prescient of reactions to the Obama dinner, wrote, “[T]here’s no outrage or anger. What I feel is more like pity. Could you imagine wasting a perfectly good evening with that company?”
As for people who have provided — and continue to provide — informed support for Obama’s vision for economic stimulus, including Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, all they got was “some coffee in some styrofoam cups.”
By MAUREEN DOWD
I love Blago.
I love his beady little eyes. I love his Serbian shock of hair. I love his flaring nostrils. I love the way he jogs through the snow under indictment, like a stork in spandex trying to gallop. I love the way he compares himself in quick order to Pearl Harbor, Oliver Wendell Holmes and a dead cowboy.
I love the hurly-burly way the Illinois governor rammed through his choice for the Senate, compared with the namby-pamby way the New York governor strangled his best choice for the Senate.
So now we have an N.R.A. handmaiden in Bobby Kennedy’s old seat? Kirsten Gillibrand, a k a Tracy Flick, accepting the honor with her Republican pal Al D’Amato beside her on stage? Gross.
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Ahh...I love the smell of wankbait in the morning.
In case you think this sentiment is limited to fellow Irish-Catholic redheads of a certain age who may feel some kinship with the would-be senator, here's Lawrence O’Donnell quoted in the New Yorker:
“Paterson has no comprehension of upstate New York, absolutely none, and has chosen someone better at representing cows than people,” Lawrence O’Donnell says. “What you have is the daughter of a lobbyist, instead of the daughter of a former President or the son of a former governor. This is the hack world producing the hack result that the hacks are happy with."In other news on the Blago front: his lawyer quit because his client is fucking insane. Money quote: “I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require them to at least listen.”
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, after a defiant and incoherent Friday press conference, is taking his case to television. Lynn Sweet reports on the first leg of this media marathon, from the "Today Show" Sunday:
Impeached Gov. Blagojevich, on the first leg of his media blitz timed to the start of his impeachment trial, in an NBC interview broadcast on The Today Show Sunday compared himself to human rights heros Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gahdhi.
As he was taken from his home by federal agents on Dec. 9, Blagojevich told NBC, "I thought about Mandela, Dr. King and Gandhi and tried to put some perspective to all this and that is what I am doing now."
On Monday, Blagojevich will appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" and with his wife on "The View."
The sycophantic media and Hollywood elite can finally put away their fainting couches. The breathless hordes flocking to catch a glimpse of the new messiah can await their government checks, the reversal of global warming, and a new age of Aquarius; and the rest of us can look forward to an ever-growing tax burden.
I wish the new president all the best, I truly do, as he has inherited one mess of a republic. Much of our current condition is caused by out-of-control spending. His plan to resolve it? A trillion dollars in additional spending.
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Well, one of our eagle-eyed sources spotted the same discussion and was able to get within earshot just in time to hear Clinton warn Cornyn, "The Clintons don't forget." One day later, Cornyn's objections to Clinton's confirmation magically disappeared and the man who had set the roll call vote in motion voted in favor of confirming Clinton. Now let's see how she handles Hamid Karzai.
Not even a week has passed since he was sworn in, but already Obama is moving to create perhaps the most powerful staff in modern history – a sort of West Wing on steroids that places no less than a half-dozen of his top initiatives into the hands of advisers outside the Cabinet.
For all the talk of his “Team of Rivals” pick in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama last week handed the two hottest hotspots in American foreign policy to presidential envoys – one to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and the other to a man who knows his way around Foggy Bottom better than Clinton does, Richard Holbrooke.
"Czar" Carol Browner will head up Obama's fight on global warming, where once his energy and environmental chiefs might have stepped in. Tom Daschle scored a ground floor office in the West Wing not by running Health and Human Services – but because of his role as Obama's health-reform czar.
Pulling power close is something all recent presidents have done – and on the campaign trail, Obama spoke out against George W. Bush’s attempt to expand his executive authority.
But when it comes to building his own team, Obama is taking the notion of a powerful White House staff to new heights, leaving little doubt who will set policy and guide the politics of the his newborn administration.
The structure could pose an early test for Obama — whether he can referee turf battles and policy skirmishes between presidential advisers and his Cabinet, which contains some formidable figures as well. Obama comes to the job lacking the executive experience of his two predecessors, governors-turned-presidents.
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I hope this wasn't posted yet..
President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.
Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.
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(AP Photo/The Enterprise, Tim Correira)
This story was reported by John Ellement, Brian Ballou, Jonathan Saltzman, and Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff. It was written by Ellement.
BROCKTON, MA -- Maria DeSilveira stood on the front porch of a relative's home yesterday clutching a framed photograph of her handsome father as tears rolled down her face.
"My dad didn't deserve this,'' she said of Arlindo DePina Goncalves, 72. "There's too much racism in this world.''
Police said Goncalves was the third and final victim of Keith Luke, a 22-year-old Brockton man who authorities said devised an "evil plan'' fueled by racism to kill as many "nonwhites'' and Jews as he could before taking his own life.
Luke, authorities alleged yesterday, killed Goncalves and a 20-year-old woman, raped and shot the woman's 22-year-old sister, but failed in his plans to attack a Jewish synagogue and end his life.
Luke stood in Brockton District Court, hands manacled behind his back, his face scratched and bruised, the outcome of a gun battle, police chase, and car crash.
Luke pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated rape, and two counts of armed assault with intent to kill. He was ordered held without bail by Judge James Sullivan.
Sitting in court with tears in his eyes was the father of the two sisters he had brought from their native Cape Verde about a year ago for a better life here.
According to authorities, Luke, for reasons that are unclear, targeted the sisters and attacked them Wednesday afternoon in the Clinton Street apartment building where Luke and his mother had once lived. Relatives of the women said they did not know Luke and believed that the sisters did not know him, either.
One 20-year-old woman was shot and killed and her older sister was repeatedly raped and shot, but survived. She was listed in stable but serious condition at a Boston hospital yesterday.
The Globe is not naming the sisters because its policy is not to identify victims of sex crimes without their permission.
In court, First Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton described Luke's alleged rampage and how two men -- one white, the other described as a person of color -- braved gunfire to try to help the mortally wounded woman.
"Yesterday this defendant methodically began an evil plan of mass murder and rape in the City of Brockton targeting victims he identified as nonwhite,'' said Middleton. Luke wanted to "kill as many Jews, blacks, and Hispanics as humanly possible ... before killing himself,'' he said.
Defense lawyer Joseph Krowski Jr. asked that his client be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital, a request rejected by the judge. Krowski suggested Luke had a history of mental illness but did not elaborate.
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On a few other sites it was noted that he spent most of his time surfing websites touting racial propanganda. Sickening.
According to an account in the New York Post, President Barack Obama yesterday told Republican leaders, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." With George W. Bush now off the stage, it may be that Obama and some of his fellow Democrats view Limbaugh, and not John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, or any other elected official, as the true leader of the Republican opposition. This morning I asked Rush for his thoughts on all this, and here is his response:
There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier's plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.
Secondly, here is a combo quote from the meeting:
"If we don't get this done we (the Democrats) could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town."
To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.
Obama was angry that Merrill Lynch used $1.2 million of TARP money to remodel an executive suite. Excuse me, but didn't Merrill have to hire a decorator and contractor? Didn't they have to buy the new furnishings? What's the difference in that and Merrill loaning that money to a decorator, contractor and goods supplier to remodel Warren Buffet's office? Either way, stimulus in the private sector occurs. Are we really at the point where the bad PR of Merrill getting a redecorated office in the process is reason to smear them? How much money will the Obamas spend redecorating the White House residence? Whose money will be spent? I have no problem with the Obamas redoing the place. It is tradition. 600 private jets flown by rich Democrats flew into the Inauguration. That's fine but the auto execs using theirs is a crime? In both instances, the people on those jets arrived in Washington wanting something from Washington, not just good will.
If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of the trillion dollar debacle.
One more thing, Byron. Your publication and website have documented Obama's ties to the teachings of Saul Alinksy while he was community organizing in Chicago. Here is Rule 13 of Alinksy's Rules for Radicals:
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."
Attorney General Greg Abbott said that since Texas law prohibits same-sex marriages and civil unions, the men could not be divorced in Texas since their union is not recognized to exist in Texas.
The men, who have asked that their names remain private, were married in Cambridge, Mass., in 2006.
Peter Schulte, who represents the plaintiff, said he plans to argue that the U.S. Constitution dictates that states recognize contracts from other states.
According to Schulte, the couple could be legally divorced in Massachusetts but only after establishing residency. Schulte maintains that even though his client was married out of state, he shouldn't be treated any different than anyone else seeking a divorce.
While this case is a first for Texas, it is not the first nationwide. A gay couple seeing a divorce in Rhode Island were denied for the same reason as Schulte's client. Another gay couple seeking a divorce in Iowa were successful in their dissolution.
I don't get it. Doesn't the DOMA make their marriage not legal in Texas?
06:56 PM CST on Friday, January 23, 2009
By TERRENCE STUTZ / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN – State Board of Education members tentatively approved new science curriculum standards Friday that scrap a longtime requirement that students be taught the "weaknesses" in the theory of evolution.
The action came after board members aligned with social conservatives were unable to muster enough support on the 15-member board to retain the rule in a preliminary vote Thursday. The decision was a major setback for the seven Republican board members, who argued vigorously for keeping the "weaknesses" requirement.
However, evolution critics scored a minor victory when a majority of board members agreed to an amendment that calls for students to discuss the "sufficiency or insufficiency" of Charles Darwin's tenet that humans and other living things have common ancestors.
The Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based organization that sought to preserve the "weaknesses" rule, said the amendment and another similar change adopted by the board would make it easier for teachers and students to raise questions about the theory of evolution. The institute promotes an alternative explanation for the origin of man, one that says life on earth is the result of "intelligent design" by an unknown being or entity.
John West, an associate director of the institute, said the changes will let students analyze "some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory such as the fossil record and universal common descent."
Representatives for the Texas Freedom Network, which fought to scuttle the "weaknesses" rule, said it will seek to rescind the amendments by social conservatives when the board has a final vote on the curriculum standards in March.
The changes "could provide a small foothold for teaching creationist ideas and dumbing down biology instruction in Texas," said TFN president Kathy Miller, adding that science teachers and college professors will review the changes and make recommendations before the March board meeting.
She also called the board decision against requiring weaknesses of evolution to be taught "a very important victory for sound science education."
All three Dallas-area board members opposed the "weaknesses" rule, citing the recommendations of a review committee of science teachers and academics who contended it would undermine teaching of Darwin's theory. Those board members were Republicans Geraldine Miller of Dallas and Pat Hardy of Weatherford, and Democrat Mavis Knight of Dallas.
Approved on a voice vote, the new curriculum standards spell out not only how evolution is to be covered, but also what is supposed to be taught in all science classes in elementary and secondary schools, as well as providing the material for state tests and textbooks over the next decade.
Karl Rove, one-time Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush, spoke to a jam-packed Storer Auditorium at the University of Miami Thursday night.
After a brief opening speech, Rove transformed the event into an open forum during which audience members could ask him a question or engage him in a debate.
The “campaign architect,” as he is commonly called, built a case against President Barack Obama’s order to close Guantanamo, an overseas CIA detention center where terrorists and other “enemy combatants” are held. Obama’s order could enable terrorists to be tried in U.S. courts, to be given undeserved rights afforded American citizens and could cause damaging long-term effects, Rove said.
“One year from now, Gitmo won’t be closed,” Rove said. “If it is, there will be an uproar in the U.S. about where to put these people.”
Interrogation tactics used by the CIA during Bush’s term in office were not torturous, Rove said, but he did not deny that the CIA strongly pressed terrorists for vital information.
“You bet we squeeze them for information,” Rove said. “If we hadn’t, those same terrorists could have executed their plans to kill, and [people] would be asking why Bush didn’t protect American soldiers’ lives.”
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Pepsi rides O's coattails with new $1.2 billion ad campaign
Surely you've seen them. There's one that says "Fabulous" on I-35W North just before you get downtown. I saw one that says "Oh Boy" at a downtown St. Paul bus stop. One even takes up an entire LRT train, though I couldn't quite catch what it said (anyone?).With their robin egg and cotton candy backdrops, you'd think Pepsi was having a baby. And that's not exactly untrue. The sugar vendor has indeed given birth: to a new ad campaign. Its slogan? "Refresh Everything."
Having taken up with a new ad agency last fall, the company is reportedly set to spend $1.2 billion on the "Refresh Everything" campaign over the next three years.
Hence the blanketing of the Cities in its baby announcements.
Pepsi's message hasn't evolved all that much from the days when Michael Jackson hawked the soda as "Choice of a New Generation." There's one glaring omission though. Whereas Jackson openly endorsed the soda, Pepsi is using its "Refresh Everything" logo (which looks half Nike swoosh, half Obama logo) as if Pepsi was some kind of benevolent, direct vessel to the prez.
Pepsi's website (as well as YouTube) allow you to post your own video addresses to the President Obama. "What would you say to the man who is about to refresh America?" the site says, flanked by images of Eva Longoria Parker, will.i.am and others.
"No matter where you are or who you voted for, we want to hear from you."
25. Michael Pollan
Writer and journalism professor, University of California, Berkeley
The author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food,
Pollan has had more influence than any other contemporary writer on mainstream American thinking about what we eat.
His manifesto--"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants"--should now be in political vogue. (Obama likes arugula.)
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Sunday, January 25, 2009; 1:49 AM
CHICAGO -- Finding financial aid for college this year promises to be tougher than any final exam. The quest for money that begins for students and parents every January has taken on new urgency in 2009 amid fears that loans and grants will be scarcer than in the past due to the recession.
"The financing system for college is in real crisis," said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers. "Every one of the participants in the system is experiencing hardship _ higher education institutions, states, aid donors and families all are cash-strapped."( Collapse )
(by Nate Silver)
I hope you'll excuse the hubristic headline. Constitutional amendments are introduced all the time in the Congress. Most of them are used to make a political point of one kind or another and stand little chance of becoming law.
On account of the trouble that certain Democratic governors had with making their senatorial appointments this year, however, a new amendment to be introduced by Wisconsin's Russ Feingold may prove to be an exception:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, issued the following statement today on plans to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the Senate by state governors and require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.
“The controversies surrounding some of the recent gubernatorial appointments to vacant Senate seats make it painfully clear that such appointments are an anachronism that must end. In 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution gave the citizens of this country the power to finally elect their senators. They should have the same power in the case of unexpected mid term vacancies, so that the Senate is as responsive as possible to the will of the people. I plan to introduce a constitutional amendment this week to require special elections when a Senate seat is vacant, as the Constitution mandates for the House, and as my own state of Wisconsin already requires by statute. As the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this important topic soon.”
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Last week, Congressman Bill Young suggested that as the Obama administration closes Guantanamo Bay, it could send some of the detainees in need of a holding facility to Alcatraz, the famous former prison off the San Francisco coast.
On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reminded Young that his statement makes no sense.
"Perhaps he has not visited Alcatraz," said the San Francisco Democrat, appearing on ABC's This Week. "And let me say, Bill Young is a great member of Congress and I have a great deal of respect for his opinion. Alcatraz is a tourist attraction. It's a prison that is now sort of like a national park."
Indeed, Robert Kennedy (as Attorney General) shut down Alcatraz as a federal prison in 1963. The site was turned into a national recreation area in 1972 and became a national historic landmark in 1986.
One can easily imagine an ambitious Hollywood producer turning Young's suggestion into a sequel to The Rock -- Guantanamo detainees, dropped off at Alcatraz, hold tourists visiting the prison hostage as they demand Habeas rights.
Sauce on the Rock
9/11 Families Urge Obama to Continue Guantanamo Terror Trials
NEW YORK -- Three families of firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 want to meet with President Barack Obama to urge him to reverse his decision to suspend the trial of five detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who admit roles in the terror attacks.
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25 Jan 2009 06:19 pm
The Man Benedict Has Brought In From The Cold
Jim Burroway has looked at more statements from the now ex-excommunicated Bishop embraced by Pope Benedict. As you might expect from your average Holocaust denier, it's a vault of vileness, and another spur to Catholics not infected with xenophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism and homophobia to wonder at what their church has become. He's a 9/11 Truther, natch:
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None of you believe that 9-11 is what it was presented to be. It was, of course, the two towers came down, but it was absolutely for certain not two airplanes which brought down those two towers. They were professionally demolished by a series of demolition charges from top to bottom of the towers. …