Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Knew It Was Coming

My local paper had an Editorial recently entitled, "Hillary's Shameful Silence." I bet I don't even have to tell you about what the Editors are speaking - you guessed it, human rights in China:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just returned from her first trip abroad. She said she chose to visit Asia because of its rising importance to the United States. China, after all, buys U.S. Treasury bonds. President Obama would have a hard time paying the government's bills without those purchases.

Mrs. Clinton frequently made the pitch that the bonds were safe, and that Asia needs a healthy American economy, making her, as one commentator said, the nation's leading "merchant of debt." But what she did not say was important, too.

She did not complain openly about China's human rights abuses, even though the State Department issued its annual human rights assessment just after she returned from Asia. The department's statement said, "The government of China's human rights record remained poor and worsened in some areas."

Mrs. Clinton must have known what was in the report before she went to Asia, but she remained mum in public, although the State Department said she raised the issue in private meetings with Chinese leaders.

As she explained to reporters on the eve of her visit to China, taking up human rights abuses like the recent jailing of Liu Xiaobo, organizer of a manifesto favoring democratic change known as Charter 08, "can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis."

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi purred that China's relations with the new U.S. government were "off to a good start."

But as Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch wrote in the magazine Foreign Policy, a "long-standing" theme of U.S. foreign policy has been "support for the brave individuals who are working within China to improve their country's rights environment." She noted that the Chinese government suppressed prominent government critics to keep them silent during Mrs. Clinton's visit. It will be a blow to the morale of democracy activists in China, she wrote, to hear "that the United States now considers them an impediment to progress on other issues."

That is sad — and unnecessary. China will continue to finance U.S. debt as it has in the past even though the United States speaks up for human rights, so long as U.S. Treasury bonds remain good investments. And no longer.

"I'm very proud that President Obama has made a total U-turn away from the policies of the last eight years," Mrs. Clinton told an audience at Ewha University in South Korea.

If that means keeping a closed mouth on human rights abuses, she and the president have regrettably chosen the wrong direction (emphasis mine).

Here's the thing - Secretary Clinton serves at the pleasure of the president She has to carry out HIS policies, NOT HERS. For the Editors to not even MENTION that this was Obama's policy until the very end, and vaguely at that, is disingenuous at best. Obama is responsible for putting human rights on the back burner, which is why a number of human rights groups were upset with him. How sad that they continue to participate in Clinton Derangement Syndrome, and are unwilling to put the blame where it should lie: squarely on Obama's shoulders. This is HIS policy, not hers. It is far past time for the media to actually do their job, and stop their coddling of him. His policy, his responsibility. Deal with it.

Along those lines of Obama backtracking on his campaign promises, just in case anyone was under the delusion that his MAJOR flip to support FISA, and not filibuster it, was a fluke (Hahahahaha - sorry - I couldn't help but laugh at the thought that someone could actually think that, but he - we've seen stranger things this past election season), check out this little story by the AP (they don't like it when others run their stories). I'll give you a hint Here is the first paragraph in the story:
The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program.

Oh, yeah, baby - Obama WANTED that ability, despite its being Un-Constitutional! He wanted all the same power, and more (remember Robert Byrd's recent letter about Obama's power-grab), that Bush had. It is time for his minions to get past their "disappointment" (as one of my family members referred to it) that he voted for it, and accept that he SUPPORTS having this ability for himself. Pull your heads out of the sand, and wrap your minds around it already. Obama is not the man you hoped he was. Deal with it.

Oh, and one more little backtrack while I am at it: Obama's Iraq withdrawal plan. Seems it is not exactly what people thought it was going to be. Seems it will take a lot longer, and leave a lot more troops in than hoped. Heck, even some of the Democrats in Congress are upset about it, according to THIS article. No immediate withdrawal, and leaving at least 50,000 troops in country. Oh, and sending a whole bunch more folks to Afghanistan. Since people seem to have such short memories, bear in mind that the Soviet Union was in Afghanistan for NINE years - NINE. And the Soviet Union ended up having to leave, never accomplishing their objective. Why? Because Afghanistan is a DIFFICULT country in which to wage a war. There are mountains, and caves, and all kinds of little hidey holes there, with some mighty strong factions there.

Now, I will be the first to say that post 9/11, I felt that if we were going to wage war against those responsible, Afghanistan was the place to be since that was where bin Laden was. But it is foolish to gloss over RECENT history and not understand how difficult this situation was going to be. It needed more troops to be sure, and it could have done with some oversight from the Senate.

Oh, wait - the person responsible for holding those subcommittee meetings couldn't be bothered to actually HOLD any meetings. Yes, Barack Obama was that person. For him to now claim that not enough has been done in Afghanistan would be LAUGHABLE if not so insulting. HE chose not to do his duty as a US Senator, and is now acting like this is his first opportunity EVER to actually do something about it. Pathetic.

Sheesh. It seems Obama is knocking off one campaign promise after another. I wonder which one will be next?

Friday, February 27, 2009

As the Economy Turns Down...

Other issues arise, as we know. We have heard a lot about people losing their houses, or losing their jobs. Those are terrible times through which to live. Anyone who has ever lost a job, or been laid off, or even fired, knows how frustrating, scary, and anxiety-producing that can be, much less to lose the roof over one's head.

But there is one issue that is not getting a lot of media attention as the economy continues to decline, and that is this: domestic violence is on the rise. Calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline are on the rise, and there is a correlation to the financial situation within the home.

The state in which I live, South Carolina, has the unfortunate statistic of now being second - SECOND - in the country for domestic violence deaths. It is a sad move up from seventh in the nation.

Which brings me to this unfortunate affect of the economy as reported in a local paper here. Apparently, because of losses of revenues in the two counties this paper serves, funds for prosecutors of domestic violence cases and DUIs are in serious danger. State lawmakers are looking to cut these positions to save money. According to the article:
Perhaps most affected by the change will be criminal domestic violence incidents. Several times a month, Charleston County cases are heard in a centralized magistrate's court in North Charleston.

Advocates say the court is effective because sentences can be tailored to require offenders to report back regularly to discuss their progress as they seek counseling.

If the positions are lost, it doesn't mean that prosecutions will come to a standstill. But it will mean prosecutors specifically assigned to pursue these crimes will disappear. In CDV court, law enforcement officials would become the prosecutors, instead of an experienced attorney.

As someone who has done a lot of work in the field of domestic violence, I can tell you from experience that having seasoned prosecutors, people who know the ins and outs of how offenders operate, and what it takes to keep the victim safe, are incredibly important when these cases come to court.

Sadly, as long as the economy continues its downward slide, it seems women, and children, will bear the brunt in more ways than one. And at the time when they need help the most, that help is being taken from them by budget shortfalls. Not just in states, but at organizations like the National Domestic Hotline. While calls have increased, donations have decreased. As a result, they are projecting that 44,000 calls could go unanswered if they are unable to meet their necessary budget goals.

This is a difficult time in the country. American citizens are losing their homes and their livelihoods. Sadly, some are also losing their lives. Who will help them? Who will speak for them?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm No Economist...

But Paul Krugman is. And he had this to say about the team Obama has put together to deal with the economy: All the President’s Zombies. Nice title, eh? Pretty much sums it up, but Mr. Krugman does go on to explain:
Ben Bernanke’s testimony over the past two days gives us our best clue yet about where the administration and the Fed are going with bank rescue. And the answer seems to be … nowhere.

Simon Johnson and James Kwak
read it the same way I do:
This is another sign of the serious brainpower that has been expended on finding ways to avoid or minimise government ownership of banks, and to avoid the slightest possibility of offending shareholders – shareholders whose shares have positive value primarily because of the expectation of a further government bail-out.

And The Economist’s Free Exchange puts it bluntly:
At this stage, I joked, I’d be just as happy with them just saying, “We have a strategy, we will continue to inject capital to prop up zombie banks indefinitely. That’s pretty much the whole plan and we’re counting on it bringing the financial sector back to life someday, somehow”. Is it just me or is that pretty much what Ben Bernanke said yesterday?

No, it’s not just you.

Well, that's good to know. I mean, it seems like a whole bunch of us have been saying this makes no sense, and we don't want our hard-earned taxpaying dollars going down the drain, but we felt like voices crying out in the wilderness. Perhaps we are not alone afterall:
I’d add a political-economy point. Here’s Noam Scheiber, in the new TNR economics blog:

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to a senior Democratic aide in the Senate who repeatedly emphasized that, the way things stand now, it would be almost impossible to get another cent for the banks. Congress has “bailout fatigue,” the aide said.

Indeed. As long as capital injections are seen as a way to bail out the people who got us into this mess (which they are as long as the banks haven’t been put into receivership), the political system won’t, repeat, won’t be willing to come up with enough money to make the system healthy again. At most we’ll get a slow intravenous drip that’s enough to keep the banks shambling along.

More and more, it looks as if we’re headed for the decade of the living dead.

I couldn't have said it better myself. But like I said, I'm not a major economist who won a Nobel Peace Prize. Krugman is and did, so I'm gonna listen to him.

So speaking of banks wanting more money, guess who is back at the trough asking for more money from us, the taxpayers I'll give you a hint - it's an alphabet company. Yep - you got it, AIG:

Hell freakin' yeah, they're back. Some nerve, too, if you ask me, especially after their lavish spending ways. They want us to continue to subsidize them when tey have not demonstrated any fiscal restraint or responsibility?? Are you kidding me?

And while I am on this topic, it is high past time for the Democrats to stop blaming this situation totally on the Republicans. I can understand WHY they are trying to convince everyone that they had absolutely NOTHING to do with this, but the reality is that they have been in charge of BOTH Houses of Congress for over two years now. Where was their oversight of the SEC, in its non-existent oversight of people like Bernie "Made-Off"? Where were they when Franklin Raines ran Fannie Mae into the ground (and Raines, who left in disgrace, was one of Obama's advisers)? Where were they when Jim Johnson ran Freddie Mac into the ground (and we know where Tim Johnson is - he was on Obama's Veepstakes Search)?

So, yeah - Bush was horrible - we know that. But for the past 2 years, the DEMOCRATS have been the ones in charge of the purse-strings and the oversight, so stop the blame game, start taking some responsibility, and STOP HANDING OUT OUR MONEY LEFT AND RIGHT!!! Enough already!!

And that ESPECIALLY goes for you, Nancy Pelosi, with this new $410 BILLION dollar package chock-full of pork the House is proposing!! ENOUGH!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Senator Robert Byrd Speaks Out

I became a huge fan of Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, during the Senate debate on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq resolution. He spoke with conviction and passion, particularly in regard to the U.S. Constitution. And so, when I saw this article, Byrd: Obama In Power Grab, I was reminded of this man whose "hands may shake, but (whose) heart throbs for the Constitution of the United States." It says something that Senator Bryd is willing to speak out, and speak out he does:
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

Well, I am glad someone is pointing it out. Our system of Checks and Balances have been sorely thwarted over the past 8 years. Sadly, Obama has demonstrated that he is all too willing to maintain what Bush has done (FISA, States Secrets, Extraordinary Rendition, to name a few), and as Senator Byrd points out, is expanding the power of the Executive Branch:
While it's rare for Byrd to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House. Byrd no longer holds the powerful Appropriations chairmanship, so his criticism does not carry as much weight these days. Byrd repeatedly clashed with the Bush administration over executive power, and it appears that he's not limiting his criticism to Republican administrations.

Byrd also wants Obama to limit claims of executive privilege while also ensuring that these White House czars don’t have authority over Cabinet officers confirmed by the Senate.

“As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president,” Byrd wrote. “They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability."

The West Virginia Democrat on Wednesday asked Obama to “consider the following: that assertions of executive privilege will be made only by the president, or with the president’s specific approval; that senior White House personnel will be limited from exercising authority over any person, any program, and any funding within the statutory responsibility of a Senate-confirmed department or agency head; that the President will be responsible for resolving any disagreement between a Senate-confirmed agency or department head and White House staff; and that the lines of authority and responsibility in the Administration will be transparent and open to the American public.”

Senator Byrd spoke out on this very thing in regard to Bush:

I must say, though, if Senator Bryd had been paying attention, he would have been well aware that transparency was never high on Obama's list. This president who has provided no legislative papers, no datebooks, no college transcripts, no graduate transcripts, no authentic birth certificate. To expect any transparency now is almost laughable. If it wasn't so disturbing...

So far, Obama has not chosen to distinguish himself from some of the more egregious decisions Bush has made, as noted above. There is still time for him to do so:
Obama faces a decision as early as next week on whether to support a claim of executive privilege made by former President Bush in refusing to allow Karl Rove, the former deputy White House chief of staff, to be deposed by the House Judiciary Committee on the White House’s role in the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

Bush claimed “absolute immunity” for top advisors in resisting such subpoenas, by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, filed a lawsuit over the issue. The case is on appeal, and the Obama administration is scheduled to file a motion next week laying out its stance on the issue.

I am glad Senator Byrd is speaking out on behalf of the Constitution. I am glad he is trying to keep Obama's attempt to expand Executive Powers.

How I wish Senator Byrd had stood with the people of his state this summer (Senator Rockefeller, too). How I wish he had been moved to listen to the majority of people during the Primaries who made their voices clear. How I wish he had supported with his vote the person who would not have participated in these Executive power grabs. But no. Despite his relationship with Hillary Clinton (and her husband), despite two-thirds of his state going for Clinton, he picked Obama. And now he is beginning to see what we saw. Now he is beginning to see the power grabs, the lack of transparency, the move away from Checks and Balances. Now he is beginning to see. I fear it is too little, too late...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rant Away!

Holy Toledo, some folks are getting mighty hot under the collar about the "Stimulus" package, and some of the groups who feel entitled to that money. First up, we have Stuart Varney, an economist who worked for CNN, now Fox News, and his discussion with a representative of ACORN:

Yowzer! Mr. Varney is right, though. Why should those of us who are RESPONSIBLE about our mortgages end up "rewarding" people who AREN'T responsible by giving them $1,000 a year if they actually make their payments?? I don't know about you, but I could sure use that toward my OWN mortgage payments (which I pay on time every time). Ironically, those of us who actually ARE responsible not only don't get rewarded, but we get punished by having to supplement those who are not responsible. Funny, this isn't how I was taught things were supposed to be...

Oh, but there is more on this whole issue of people being responsible or not with their mortgages. By now, you may have heard about the man who broke into his foreclosed house in Baltimore, supported by - wait for it - ACORN. Except they aren't using that whole "breaking and entering" and "arrest" language, but "civil disobedience." I am not kidding you. AND, it isn't the fault of the people who got the mortgages and defaulted, but the BANKS for giving it to them in the first place. Never mind that ACORN demanded those subprime mortgages - that's not the point!!!! Except that it is. Wow. Check out this interaction between Megyn Kelly and a spokesman for ACORN on this "civil disobedience":

Oh, boy...That is how they are characterizing "civil disobedience" these days? Having people squat in foreclosed homes because they didn't make their payments?? Holy cow. When I was in grad school, we engaged in a lot of civil disobedience, like sit-ins at places that built nuclear weapons, or against apartheid in South Africa. But this - supporting people in breaking into buildings, even encouraging it, as a way to "stick it to the man," the same one they INSISTED provide the mortgage in the first place, is such incredibly flawed logic, it makes my head hurt.

And I sure can't forget Rick Santelli, whose recent rant has created quite the buzz:

Uh, yeah! I should say, though, in the interest of fairness, that Jim Cramer, also of CNBC, disagrees with Santelli. SusanUnPC wrote a great post about it, "CNBC versus CNBC." I reckon I am naturally inclined to support Mr. Santelli since they referred to him as a "Rabble Rouser." What can I say?!?

Well, what I can say is that it seems more and more people are "mad as hell," and they aren't gonna take it anymore. And they are organizing now to make that point clear all across this land:

Amen to that. We must stand up for ourselves. It is quite clear our elected officials are not. When Nancy and Friends comes up with an ADDITIONAL $410 BILLION dollar package to add on top of the other gazillion dollars they have already passed. I might add, this one is just as full of pork and earmarks as the last one.

Yeah, that makes ME mad as hell. How about you?

Monday, February 23, 2009

At Long, Long Last...

My internet service has finally been restored. Yay!

And because it is so late in the day, I would like to share with you this interesting article, courtesy of "I'm A Linda Too," a regular reader at No Quarter yesterday. It is quite something. A bit late in coming, perhaps, but hey, better late than never, right? The title pretty much gives it away: Media Critic Blasts Chris Matthews’ ‘Man Crush’ On Obama:
It has become one of MSNBC host Chris Matthew’s most infamous lines of the 2008 presidential election:

“I felt this thrill going up my leg,” Matthews said the night Obama resoundingly defeated rival Hillary Clinton in the Virginia and Maryland Democratic primaries.

In case you need a little reminder, here you go:

If you feel the need to go take a shower, I understand. Blech. Apparently, Goldberg shared my sentiment:
And former CBS News Correspondent Bernard Goldberg, who has long alleged liberal bias in the media, highlighted that line as indicative of the media’s “slobbering” press coverage of candidate Obama during his campaign for the White House.

“That’s not commentary, that’s a man-crush,” Goldberg declared on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday.

Goldberg, the author of the new book “A Slobbering Love Affair,” credits the media coverage of the 2008 presidential election for ultimately resulting in Barack Obama’s victory.

He specifically faulted coverage of the prolonged Democratic primary campaign, during which two historic candidates contentiously squared off.

“I think in elite liberal circles, certainly inside the media, race trumps gender, and that’s why they slobbered over Barack Obama, and took Hillary Clinton to the back room and beat her with a rubber hose,” Goldberg said.

You'll get no argument from me. There is no doubt the media was biased in his favor, running far more positive articles than negative ones. Clinton, by contrast, had more negative press than positive. Surprise!! Um, not so much.

And then, Mr. Goldberg took the media to task for their lack of, well, journalism:
Goldberg also faulted political journalists for not digging up controversial sermons of the president’s longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, until Obama had already effectively captured his party’s nomination.

“These tapes were available, you didn’t have to be Woodward or Bernstein to dig them up,” Goldberg said. “If those tapes had come out six months earlier, certainly a year earlier, I don’t think Barack Obama would have been the nominee.

“I think Hillary Clinton would have been. And I think she would have been the president today,” he continued. “And in that sense, she’s the biggest loser in all of this.”

Uh, no kidding. Even Bernstein is no longer a Bernstein, having fallen into CDS (that's Clinton Derangement Syndrome, for those who don't know), and being a part of that negative press. Even when Clinton was beating the PANTS off Obama, you would scarcely have known it by the reporting...

I do take exception to one comment by Mr. Goldberg, and that is this: “And in that sense, she’s the biggest loser in all of this.

No, Mr. Goldberg. WE are the biggest losers. Our trust in the democratic process is the biggest loser. Our sense of fair play and decency is the biggest loser. The United States is the biggest loser.

But thank you for speaking up. It would have been nice had it been sooner, but I guess we'll just have to take later...


Technical difficulties with my internet provider today. I had big plans for a post for today, but am borrowing a wireless card, and only have a moment. If I get it back in a timely fashion, I will go ahead and put something up. If not, please come back tomorrow. It should be fixed by then.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"J. Edgar Moyers"??

I will just go ahead and say upfront that I was saddened by the following article, and the information contained therein (major H/T to Andy for alerting me to this piece), J. Edgar Moyers The TV moralist's government record. Why? Because Bill Moyers is someone for whom I had respect. His series with Joseph Campbell on The Power of Myth was just one of many outstanding series he has done in his long journalistic career. The manner in which he has conducted himself, portrayed himself moreover, made this pretty surprising coming from him.

As many of you may already know, Bill Moyers worked in the Lyndon Johnson Administration, and it is that period of time with which this article deals:
One of the darker periods of modern American history was J. Edgar Hoover's long reign over the FBI, as we have learned since he died in 1972. So it is more than a historical footnote to discover new records showing that prominent public television broadcaster Bill Moyers participated in Hoover's exploits.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Washington Post has obtained a few of the former FBI director's secret files. According to a Thursday front-page story, Hoover was "consumed" with exposing a (nonexistent) relationship between a gay photographer and Jack Valenti, the late film industry lobbyist who was then an aide to Lyndon Johnson. Hoover's M.O. was to amass incriminating personal information as political blackmail.

But as the Post reports in passing, the dossier also reveals that Mr. Moyers -- then a special assistant to LBJ -- requested in 1964 that Hoover's G-men "investigate two other administration figures who were 'suspected as having homosexual tendencies.'"

Sigh. Tell me that doesn't make you sad. It does me. I know, I know, it was a different time, but for someone who has long been considered to be above that sort of thing to have engaged in that sort of thing is just disheartening. Especially because:
This isn't the first time Mr. Moyers's name has come up in connection with Hoover's abuse of office. When Laurence Silberman, now a federal appeals judge, was acting Attorney General in 1975, he was obliged to read Hoover's secret files in their entirety in preparation for testimony before Congress -- and as far as we know remains one of the only living officials to have done so. "It was the single worst experience of my long governmental service," he wrote in these pages in 2005.

Amid "bits of dirt on figures such as Martin Luther King," Judge Silberman found a 1964 memo from Mr. Moyers directing Hoover's agents to investigate Barry Goldwater's campaign staff for evidence of homosexual activity. A few weeks before, an LBJ aide named Walter Jenkins had been arrested in a men's bathroom, and Mr. Silberman wrote that Mr. Moyers and his boss evidently wanted leverage in the event Goldwater* tried to use the liaison against them. (He didn't, as it happened.)

When that episode became public after Mr. Silberman testified, an irate Mr. Moyers called him and, with typical delicacy, accused him of falling for forged CIA memos. Mr. Silberman offered to study the matter and, should Mr. Moyers's allegations pan out, he would publicly exonerate him. "There was a pause on the line and then he said, 'I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?' And then he rang off."

How indeed, Mr. Moyers? Or to the rest of us who have developed a deep respect and admiration for you? Or is this just old news:
Memories are short in Washington, and Mr. Moyers has gone on to promote himself as a political moralist, routinely sermonizing about what he claims are abuses of power by his ideological enemies. Since 9/11, he has been particularly intense in criticizing President Bush for his antiterror policies, such as warrantless wiretapping against al Qaeda.

Yet the historical record suggests that when Mr. Moyers was in a position of actual power, he was complicit in FBI dirt-digging against U.S. citizens solely for political purposes. As Judge Silberman put it in 2005, "I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends."

Mr. Moyers told us through a spokeswoman that he "never heard of the Valenti matter until this story and had nothing to add to it." He also pointed to a 1975 Newsweek article in which he wrote that he learned of the LBJ-Hoover relationship in "the quickly fading days of my innocence." In the Nixon days, this was called a nondenial denial.

Well, my memory isn't short. And the "nondenial denial" just doesn't help matters much. I expected more, and better, from Mr. Moyers.

Oh - and just in case some folks have forgotten, J. Edgar Hoover was mighty good friends with Joseph McCarthy. As in the one from whom we have the term, "McCarthyism." I might add, that J. Edgar Hoover was notorious for spying on American citizens. So, bear that in mind as you consider the above, and all of the ramifications of this article. (There are tons of books available on the subject of McCarthyism, McCarthy, and J. Edgar Hoover, if you wish to learn more. A simple search will reveal a number of them, especially at

And I wonder what Mr. Moyers thinks of Obama's maintaining of some of Bush's more egregious policies, given how outspoken he was when Bush began them (FISA, anti-terror policies like extraordinary rendition, State Secrets, etc., etc.). Despite the disappointment of what this article reveals, I hope Mr. Moyers will continue to hold the powers-that-be feet to the fire. That he will hold Obama accountable for continuing so many of the more despicable policies of Bush II that he decried when Bush did them.

Still, the disappointment lingers.

* By the way, you may recall that it was on the issue of GLBT people in the military, Hillary Clinton always quoted Barry Goldwater who said, "You don't have to be straight to shoot straight." So, it doesn't surprise me that HE did not use the issue of homosexuality for political reasons. That the Democrats had no problems doing that, though, does...

Remembering The Past Is A Key To The Present

As you know no doubt know, Obama just took his first big trip abroad as president ... to Ottawa. That got me to thinking - it has been almost a year since Canadian TV reported that Obama's aide, Austan Goolsbee, was assuring Canada that NAFTA was safe and sound, despite Obama's campaign promises to renegotiate NAFTA while campaigning in the Rust Belt. Remember that? If you need a refresher, here it is:

Obama campaign mum on NAFTA contact with Canada
. Despite repeated requests, Barack Obama's campaign is still neither verifying nor denying a CTV report that a senior member of the team made contact with the Canadian government -- via the Chicago consulate general -- regarding comments Obama made about NAFTA.

- Snip -

On Wednesday, CTV reported that a senior member of Obama's campaign called the Canadian government within the last month -- saying that when Senator Obama talks about opting out of the free trade deal, the Canadian government shouldn't worry. The operative said it was just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously.

The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.

However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama's senior economic adviser -- Austan Goolsbee -- and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago.

Earlier Thursday, the Obama campaign insisted that no conversations have taken place with any of its senior ranks and representatives of the Canadian government on the NAFTA issue. On Thursday night, CTV spoke with Goolsbee, but he refused to say whether he had such a conversation with the Canadian government office in Chicago. He also said he has been told to direct any questions to the campaign headquarters.

During a candidates' debate Tuesday, both Democratic party leadership contenders -- Obama and Hillary Clinton -- suggested they would opt out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if core labour and environmental standards weren't renegotiated.

- Snip -

On Thursday, the Canadian embassy in Washington issued a complete denial.

"At no time has any member of a presidential campaign called the Canadian ambassador or any official at the embassy to discuss NAFTA," it said in a statement.

But on Wednesday, one of the primary sources of the story, a high-ranking member of the Canadian embassy, gave CTV more details of the call. He even provided a timeline. He has since suggested it was perhaps a miscommunication.

The denial from the embassy was followed by a denial from Senator Obama.

"The Canadian government put out a statement saying that this was just not true, so I don't know who the sources were," said Obama.

Sources at the highest levels of the Canadian government -- who first told CTV that a call was made from the Obama camp -- have reconfirmed their position.

- Snip -

However, Harper had a warning to anyone contemplating renegotiation of the trade deal.

"If a future president actually did want to open up NAFTA, which I highly doubt, then Canada would obviously have some things we would want to discuss," Harper said.

My, my - was that really only a year ago? Oh, yes - Obama was saying one thing to people in the Midwest, and apparently, saying something quite the opposite on the down low in Canada.

Lo and behold, it seems the Canadian report was right, at least according to this NY Times article regarding Obama's recent trip, Nafta Looming Over Obama’s Canada Trip :
As a candidate, Barack Obama courted votes in the Rust Belt by suggesting he might renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact he criticized as not “good for America.”

Now Mr. Obama is about to make his first foreign trip as president to Canada, the United States’ largest trading partner — and he is sounding a strikingly different message.

With Canadians up in arms over “Buy America” provisions in President Obama’s economic recovery package, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper warning the United States not to back away from its international treaty obligations, Mr. Obama, who will make a day trip to Ottawa on Thursday, is no longer emphasizing the idea of reopening Nafta.

Instead, he and his senior advisers are talking up the booming trade relationship between Canada and the United States — the largest trade partnership in the world, the White House says — and limiting their Nafta message to revamping side agreements on environmental and labor protections.

Well, golly gee. Yet another campaign promise proven to be a lie. Raise your hand if you are surprised! Yeah, I thought not.

The article continues:
In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday, the president said there were “a lot of sensitivities right now” about renegotiating trade pacts “because of the huge decline in world trade.” As he tries to right the struggling American economy, Mr. Obama pledged to do so in a way that would enhance, rather than suppress, trade between the two nations.

“It’s not in anybody’s interest to see that trade diminish,” he said.

Trade is an issue that has long bedeviled Democrats, and this is especially so for Mr. Obama. Trade has split the party along regional and economic lines, pitting those who see a globalized economy as inevitable and productive against those in economically depressed areas of the nation, like Ohio and Michigan, who see the price of free trade, in lost jobs and declining wages, as simply too high for the American worker to bear.

The last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, fought hard to pass Nafta, and made many in his party uncomfortable — including, eventually, his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who like Mr. Obama talked of reopening the pact when she was running for president.


Ah, yes, Obama continues to renege on campaign promises made, now that he's actually in the White House. His latest is yet another stand with a Bush Doctrine, Siding with Bush, Obama says Afghan detainees have no U.S. rights. Oh, what a surprise!!! Just like the Extraordinary Rendition and State Secrets part Obama kept - I have been saying this for MONTHS and months - Obama is Bush III. This is why he voted for FISA, too. He wanted all the same "tools" available to him that Bush managed to secure. Here's the nitty-gritty:
The 600-plus detainees at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their imprisonment, the Justice Department said today in a two-sentence court filing.

Last summer the Supreme Court gave al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects held at Guantanamo Bay the right to challenge their detention. But the Justice Department argues that Bagram is different: it's in a war zone and the prisoners are the result of continuing military action.

"They've now embraced the Bush policy that you can create prisons outside the law," said Jonathan Hafetz of the American Civil Liberties Union, who has represented several detainees.

"The hope we all had in President Obama to lead us on a different path has not turned out as we'd hoped," said Tina Monshipour Foster, a human rights attorney representing a detainee at the Bagram. "We all expected better."

The decision also disappointed Amnesty International, which issued a report calling for judicial review of the detentions.

Uh, yes. Again, groups are "disappointed" - the ACLU, Amnesty International, HRC, and on, and on. All "disappointed" that Obama is not doing what he said he would do.

They SHOULD be disappointed in themselves for believing his lies, for pretending that his "hope and change" message was a substitute for certifiable experience and an actual RECORD on which to base his claims. They're "disappointed." Yeah. Join the club. I'm "disappointed" that all of these groups bought this crap in the first place, and stuck us with this guy.

Sigh. Once again, though, there is one bright light, one adult in the room who DOES instill some faith. Oh, and she actually HAS a record on which to base her actions. Oh, yes, Sec. Clinton. She is winding up her first trip abroad as the Secretary of State, and has been doing a fine job of it. Here she is arriving in China:

And while in China, Secretary Clinton has been focusing on a number of issues, particularly Climate Change. Hopefully, this will be an issue on which our two countries can work together successfully (Sec. Clinton did mention Tibet, but for now, the Obama Administration is keeping a low profile on the issue of human rights).

Hmmm - I wonder what will be next on Obama's list of promises to break? Oh, that could be a whole new party game, come to think of it! We already have the drinking game Jon Stewart proposed (taking a drink whenever Obama pauses while talking), so why not have a "Which Promise Is Going Down The Toilet Next?" game? Hey, it's one the whole family can play together! What a uniter!! Which one do you think is next?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Action to Stop The War Against Women in the DRC

As a long-time member of Amnesty International, I would like to share an action alert email with you that I got recently (below). It is important for us to remember how women are treated in other parts of the world, and that we cannot allow it to continue. Secretary of State Clinton has consistently shown her commitment for the rights of women. Please take a moment to urge her to use her considerable talents to put an end to the War on Women in the DRC.

Help leverage U.S. influence for peace in the DRC: Tell Secretary Clinton to Stop the War on Women in the DRC

Take Action Now!

Dear Amy,

The ten-year tangle of alliances, invasions and proxy warfare centered in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made the region the world's deadliest killing ground since WWII.

Rape is systematically used as a weapon of war and children are forced to fight for armed groups. Peace in the DRC means putting an end to the institutionalized violence against women and children. Click here to watch a video of Congolese children speaking about their experiences as child soldiers.

The recent dramatic reversal of alliances between the DRC and its conflict-entangled neighbors, Uganda and Rwanda, combined with the withdrawal of Hutu rebels has opened a small window for peace in the region.

Your action today can help us make real progress on ending violence against women and children across the region.

The U.S. has considerable economic and political influence over both the DRC and Rwanda—no other country combines such influence. Sign our letter to Secretary Clinton asking her to leverage our voice to strenghten support for the UN peacekeeping mission and protect women and children in the DRC.

Rape is used in the conflict as a calculated strategy to destabilize opposition groups as well as promote fear and submission. It is not unusual for mothers and daughters to be raped in front of their families and villages. Human rights activists working to end violence against women often face grave threats of violence themselves.

Justine Masika Bihamba is one such activist. Because of her work to end violence against women, she and her family have been targeted.

Justine described the current situation in Congo as a war against women. "When two sides fight, the one punishes the other by raping women," she said.

Putting an end to the rampant sexual violence and the use of child soldiers is essential to ensuring peace in the region.

Secretary Clinton has said that women's rights are one of her top priorities. Make sure her promises become reality.

Add your name to our letter to Secretary Clinton urging her to take concrete steps to protect women in the DRC.


Larry Cox
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

"On the Frontlines" is a co-production of WITNESS and AJEDI-ka/PES.

Watch video now:

The Online Action Center has this additional information:

If the peace process in the DRC is to succeed, it requires, as a fundamental first step, an immediate end to sexual violence, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and the immediate and unconditional release of children from the armed groups. The US Government can play a key role in making these measures a priority via the International Facilitation Team and its own diplomatic relations with the DRC. Write to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and urge the US government to:

* Provide full support to MONUC’s Senior Adviser/Coordinator on Sexual Violence in the development of a comprehensive strategy to strengthen UN prevention, protection and response to sexual violence, in line with Security Council resolutions 1794 (2007) and 1820 (2008).
* Press and assist the DRC government to provide aid to survivors of rape and other sexual violence and former child soldiers through programs of medical and psychosocial care, community reintegration and social welfare, which should be free of charge.
* Ensure that elimination of violence against women and children and the ending of impunity are key priorities in any program to support security forces and judicial reform.
* Urge the DRC government to prioritize rehabilitation and reform of the DRC’s civilian justice system to enable effective and independent investigations and trying of cases of human rights violations, with special emphasis on sexual violence and violence against children.

Please take a moment to contact Secretary of State Clinton, and stand up for these women. Thank you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

If I may take a break from my 401 k plunging, and the DOW plunging again, and North Korea looking to blow us to smithereens, I'd like to share a story with you. Here goes:

A little over a month ago, the woman who cares for our horse called to say she had found the CUTEST dog at her place of employment, and I just HAD to see it. She thought the dog would be a good addition for my mother and her dog. As it turned out, I was getting ready to go stay with my mom the night before I had knee surgery. So, the dog stayed at the vets, got her shots, got all cleaned up, and started eating regularly. She was completely emaciated. Despite that, and the sores on her pads from walking so much, she was just as sweet as she could possibly be. Lovely dog.

Well, it was clear that Lucy's food obsession was going to be too much for my elderly mother to deal with, so we brought Lucy back home with us after my surgery. Here she is:

You can still see her ribs in this photo, even though she was eating three meals a day at that point.

Well, we got her down to two meals a day. But then we started to notice something. She was still getting bigger. Oh, you could still feel her ribs, and her spine, but she was getting bigger. And bigger. Here she is now:

Yep. She's pregnant (our dog, Sasha, is behind her in this photo). With AT LEAST (!) eight puppies. And she is due any day now. A friend asked if we knew who the baby daddy is, but he came along before we got her, so no clue as to his identity.


When I was growing up, I didn't really get that expression, "no good deed goes unpunished." Adulthood changed all that. Too many examples of that very thing happening over the years to get into, but this is one with very obvious, living, breathing, adorable, results.

We have her whelping bed all set up now. And we are keeping a close eye on her. But neither one of us has dealt with a pregnant dog since we were children (and it was our PARENTS who dealt with the mother dogs then). Fortunately, our vet has given us a ton of information, which we have both studied religiously. And to think that I was actually waiting for the day we could take her in to get spayed (she was too thin before). I guess I'll be waiting a while longer.

So, I have one question - anyone want a puppy?!?! How about a matched set?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Home And Abroad

Well, GM is back in our pockets, wanting more money. Bill Hemmer interviewed Rep. Thadeus McCotter about the Stimulus Package, as well as what GM is going to do differently. One point he made was this: GM offered 10,000 - that is TEN THOUSAND - options on cars to the car buyer. Toyota Camry and Honda Civic, the two most popular cars in the country, offered 15. FIFTEEN. GM is going to cut down the options to 1,000 - that's ONE THOUSAND. I am sure you can figure out that the more options made available, the greater the cost for the vehicle. Here's the video:

No freakin' WONDER they are doing so poorly. When this Representative says they have done everything they need to do, well, that clearly not. If they HAD, they would not be in this shape. It is insane for them to offer so many options. That is just poor, poor management on the part of GM. And WE are paying for their poor management. Even now, they are locked into discussions with the UAW again. Once again, they want OUR money to pay for their employees.

Here's the thing. My retirement fund is CRAP now with the stock market the way it is. My partner's retirement fund is CRAP now because of the stock market. We are having to COMPLETELY rework our retirement plans as a result, including when my partner can retire, as a result. That is the real world consequence. Yet, the auto companies want to pass those real world consequences onto US. They want to make US pay for them, so their employees DON'T have to face the consequences of making products people don't want to buy, and offering an obscene number of "options" that increase the costs of making the cars. It is absurd!! But here they are, back at the trough, wanting more and more of OUR money. Of course, we all knew this was going to happen, despite assurances to the contrary. Big surprise - not.

As for going abroad, yesterday I saw Secretary of State Clinton arriving at the Imperial Palace in Japan to engage in a tea ceremony with Empress Michiko. When they met, you could see how much affection these two women have for each other:

And you can see part of the ceremony here, as well as a brief report of her visit to Japan.

Clinton is now in Indonesia:
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here Wednesday on the second leg of her Asian trip that the United States and Indonesia would form a comprehensive partnership.

She said at a joint press conference after meeting with the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda that the United States had recognized the importance of Indonesia, which shares not only common interests but also common values with it.

Specifically, she was referring to democratic values.

It gives me some hope to have Hillary Clinton speaking for us around the world. It should be HER policies she is espousing and not Obama's, but still - her presence, her abilities, her knowledge all make her uniquely qualified to engage with other nations. She makes me proud.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

Well, Obama just got back to Washington, DC after his long weekend away in Chicago yesterday. Today, he is wheels up to go to Denver, CO to sign the $787 billion dollar Porkulus bill. Why Denver? Because CO was SO helpful to him during the Campaign, and that's where he got to play Greek Temple dress up. Oh, wait - that's the real reason. What HE claims is, besides it being the stage of the DNC Convention, it is to promote Green Jobs. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

You know - we ragged on Bush constantly for his little jaunts and vacations. Funny, I don't hear any of the Democrats talking smack about OBAMA already having taken TWO weekends away in less than a MONTH. Oh, right - Obama can do no wrong. I forgot. My bad. Ahem.

Getting back to the Porkulus Bill - once Obama signs it, the SECOND his hand finishes the signature, not only will we be in the hole for that $787 Billion, but we will have to borrow ONE TRILLION DOLLARS. Yes, I said one (1) TRILLION buckaroos. Yep! And where will we get that money? Who will lend it to us? Excellent question! Stu Barney said this morning that Japan is our biggest lender, but they are in the midst of a Depression, with a big "D." So, don't know how they will be able to pony up any more for our poor fiscal management.

And, the Stock Market has PLUNGED this morning as the Porkulus Bill is about to become law. Great. Way to stimulate the economy!

Oh, CRAP - maybe this IS their idea of "stimulus"!! To send it DOWN, not UP!! We are so screwed...

By the way, did you know that whole light rail thing in there is to have a high speed train go between Los Angeles and Las Vegas? Gee - I wonder who would have worked to get THAT in there. Hmm. Let me think. It couldn't be the Mormon, Senate Majority Leader, REID who pushed for the Sin Express, could it?? Oh, no - I'm sure not.

While my senator, Lindsey Graham, is raising some eyebrows with his "Nationalize the Banks" cry, he gets it right in the following video when speaking back to Seantor Chuck "Chattering Class" Schumer:

Bottom line? We're screwed. We're screwed because the Party in Power is taking advantage of US because they can. We are going to be in debt for ages to come because of this Porkulus Bill, and the ADDITIONAL $1 Trillion we are going to have to borrow on top of that. The kicker is that this bill will do very little to actually stimulate the economy. That has nothing to do with Bipartisanship per se - it has to do with the Democrats taking advantage in a massive way, with little regard for restoring our economic security. That there was no bipartisanship of which to speak is unfortunate - yet another promise broken by The One. Not surprising though.

The bottom line is that this bill, soon to be a law, will do nothing to kick-start our economy, certainly not any time soon. Hey, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Go look at the freakin' Dow - that tells the tale. And the tale it tells is a sad one - we're screwed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Life Imitating Art?

Oh, this is just too funny timing-wise. As you may recall, I just had a video done by the very funny Onion about a drug named Despondex, to help cure those interminably cheery people. Well, as it turns out, there is new research out about a drug that would essentially do the opposite, detailed in this article, A Spotless Mind? Blood Pressure Pill Could Erase Bad Memories, Study Says. I swear I am not making this up. And it is NOT from the Onion. It's for real!

But it isn't so much that the pill would make you happy (as opposed to no longer being "cheery"). Rather, it has farther reaching consequences than that:
A widely available blood pressure pill could one day help people erase bad memories, perhaps treating some anxiety disorders and phobias, according to a Dutch study published on Sunday.

The generic beta-blocker propranolol significantly weakened people's fearful memories of spiders among a group of healthy volunteers who took it, said Merel Kindt, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, who led the study.

"We could show that the fear response went away, which suggests the memory was weakened," Kindt said in a telephone interview.

The findings published in the journal Nature Neuroscience are important because the drug may offer another way to help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems related to bad memories.

Obviously, there is a lot of potential value with this drug, especially in terms of traumatic memories. And, since too many of our military personnel are returning with PTSD, it may be VERY helpful indeed:
Traditionally, therapists seek to teach people with such disorders strategies to build new associations and block bad memories. The problem, Kindt said, is the memories remain and people often relapse.

Animal studies have shown that fear memories can change when recalled, a process known as reconsolidation. At this stage they are also vulnerable to beta-blockers like propranolol, which target neurons in the brain, the researchers said.

Kindt and her team's experiment included 60 men and women who learned to associate pictures of spiders with a mild shock. This experience created a fearful memory, the researchers said.

Other participants saw the same picture but did not receive an electrical shock. For these people this established a "safe" association without a fear response or bad memory.

One day later people given the drug had a greatly decreased fear response compared with people on the placebo when shown the picture and given a mild shock, the researchers said.

"There was no difference to the fear spider and the safe spider," Kindt said. "This shows it is possible to weaken the underlying memory by interfering with it."

The next steps are to look at how long the drug's effects on memory last, and testing the treatment in people who actually are suffering from some kind of disorder or phobia, Kindt said.

Life imitating art, only with a pill as opposed tot he means used in the Jim Carrey movie. WOW.

In other news, Secretary of State Clinton has arrived in Tokyo on her first trip abroad in her new position. I don't know about you, but I know it makes me feel better knowing SHE is the one dealing with these countries, especially ones like North Korea. And that she has included issues of climate change and clean energy to her department. Her trip is pretty far-reaching, it would appear, though not without some concern. Apparently, human-rights groups are upset that the Obama Administration is not doing enough to address the issue, to which Clinton responded:
"We're not going to be shying away from talking about human rights issues, but we have a very broad agenda to deal with when it comes to dealing with China," Clinton said. "It's fair to say that this first trip will be one intended to really find a path forward to have as robust an engagement as possible on a range of issues."

I could be wrong, but I think that is one big difference right there between what we COULD have had, and what we have. Clinton has been committed to the issue of human rights for some time now. I doubt SHE would have relegated it to the "sidelines," as the article said.

Still, I am glad she is doing the heavy work in this arena. This is one of the few GOOD choices Obama has made (c'mon, really - starting with Biden on down, Clinton is clearly the best choice Obama has made). And I hope this is a successful trip for her, and the United States. I look forward to hearing more from Secretary Clinton as time goes on. That is definitely a bright spot during this tumultuous time...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In The "Better To Laugh...

Than Cry" department, I bring you the following Onion videos. Oh, sure, I thought about writing more about the whole Stimulus package, being hailed as a HUGE victory of "historic proportions" for Obama (I kid you not - check out this Washington Post article). As if it was COMPLETELY unexpected that the Democrats were going to get this pork-belly package, that NO ONE has fully read before voting on it, passed. What a SHOCK!! Please...

But I just can't do it. If you DO want to read an excellent post on this subject, I highly recommend Uppity Woman's post, "Congratulations Everyone! You've Been Stimulated!"

Instead, given how highly orchestrated everything has been around the Product Obama, I bring you the following:

Seems pretty likely to me! Ahem. Hey, Obama DID say he was going to let the scientists do more, so there you have it!

And just for the hell of it, and just in case you actually KNOW anyone like this, I bring you this video:

Hope you get a few laughs out of this.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Erudite? Hahahaha!

With so much hooey going on - the stimulus package that is primarily a laundry list of every pet project people could conceive, as well as paybacks for all of the "help" given Obama to get into the White House, I thought we could all use a little comic relief. Here, then, is Jon Stewart on Obama's first White House press conference:

As we were watching this video, my partner said, "Wow, this would make a great drinking game!" even before Stewart said it (it's even funnier that she said that since neither one of us drinks alcohol, and haven't for years). And it would! I recommend, though, that you either make sure you play this game at home, or at the home of someone with whom you can spend the night, because you will get SLOSHED. So much for him being erudite, huh? Yeah...

So, If you find youself thinking about General Motors getting an additional $3.2 billion tax break on top of all the other billions it received previously, or how it includes $1.2 billion for "youth activities" (as in Obama's Youth?) or that the amount for light rail is FOUR TIMES what it was in previous bills (now $8 billion) how the final bill included this provision:
Perhaps the worst part, however, appears in Section 1607 of the final bill. This section essentially says that if a governor refuses to accept stimulus funds allocated to his or her state, the state legislature can override the governor's decision by passing a concurrent resolution. It means that governors, such as South Carolina's Gov. Mark Sanford, who have said that they would not accept the money, could be overridden by their state legislative bodies.

You may just want to take another look at the video, grab a glass of your favorite beverage, and have at it.

Like they say, better to laugh than to cry, right?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Panetta and More On Rendition

Well, Leon Panetta has been confirmed as the new CIA Director. He has confirmed the position of this White House, same as the last White House, on rendition. And he has added this little bonus tidbit:
Obama has signed an executive order limiting interrogation techniques to the 19 outlined in the Army Field Manual, but Panetta conceded those might not be enough. He said he would not hesitate to go to the president and ask for additional authority if there was "a ticking-bomb situation."

Well, that's just jake, isn't it? Wonderful news.

I wrote yesterday about this issue, and thanks to truthtelling007, I have two videos to share with you on the continuation of this policy.

First up is a general overview from Fox news:

Then there is Obama Water Carrier, Rachel Maddow, on Obama's decision to continue this policy. Now let me say, I used to like her, but from the very beginning of the Primary, she made it QUITE clear that she supported Obama, and the vast majority of her reporting was skewed to support Obama. So here she is, discussing Obama's continuation of this Bush policy:

Once again, why she is surprised is BEYOND me. Here she is discussing with Russ Feingold the FISA vote this summer, and Obama's vote for these expanded presidential powers. Oh, and Russ, whom I also used to like, continues that meme that Obama is a Constitutional Scholar, that he'll restore the Constitution, blah, blah, blah, if he becomes President, that he would rescind a lot of Executive Orders (so far, only for unions), etc. I recommend having clear access to a bathroom or barf bag for all the GLORIOUS things Obama will do. Anyway, here it is:

So, yeah, Rachel - that, along with his flip flops on so many other issues, should have been a big, huge clue to you about what Obama was really going to do when he got into office. Hate it for you that you clung to your hopes and dreams rather than looking at the reality of who this guy is. Maybe now you'll actually try to engage in some actual freakin' journalism. That's MY hope, Rachel. That you'll actually take off the rose-colored glasses, stop drinking the damn Kool-Aide, and do the job of a true journalist.

Just to be clear - Obama and his new CIA chief, Panetta, are crystal clear on the policy of rendition. And it is exactly the same as the last guy. It's about damn time people started to deal with the REAL Obama, and stop trying to prop up the IMAGE of Obama you helped to create. Any time now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rendition and "State Secrets"

And I don't mean the movie. Well, yeah, I kinda do mean the movie, at least the theme of it. I received the following email from the ACLU the other day (and yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. Have been for years.):
Dear ACLU Supporter,

Yesterday, ACLU lawyers encountered a recurring -- and troubling -- obstacle in our lawsuit seeking justice for torture victims caught up in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. But this time, the objections were not coming from the Bush administration.

To our surprise and disappointment, the new Justice Department urged a federal appeals court to dismiss our lawsuit charging a Boeing subsidiary with providing critical support for the CIA’s rendition program based on the same “state secrets” claim that the Bush administration had repeatedly invoked to avoid any judicial scrutiny of its actions. During the course of the argument, one judge asked twice if the change in administration had any bearing on the Justice Department’s position. The attorney for the government said that its position remained the same.

This isn’t the kind of change we need if we want an America we can be proud of again.

If the judges rule in the government’s favor, our clients -- who were tortured as part of the government’s rendition program -- will never get their day in court.

We’re still hoping the court will rule in our favor and allow our case to move forward. But, in the meantime, we must do everything we can to end the abuse of the “state secrets” doctrine both in the courts and on Capitol Hill.

Senators Kennedy, Leahy, Specter and Representative Nadler introduced legislation in 2008 to narrow the scope of the state secrets privilege -- and open the courthouse doors to people who have suffered real and legitimate harm by the government. Clearly, this legislation is needed now more than ever.

Send a message
to these members of Congress to let them know you support the State Secrets Protection Act.

This crucial civil liberties bill recognizes the need to take precautions when it comes to national security. But, it also acknowledges that courts have been competently managing the balance between the security of classified information and the right to a fair trial in criminal cases for years. And, most important of all, it makes it much more difficult for the government to abuse the state secrets doctrine to escape accountability for illegal behavior.

We can’t allow any administration to invoke state secrets to hide a reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations.

Send a message to support the State Secrets Protection Act.

Yesterday, the Obama administration had an opportunity to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition. But, instead, the Justice Department opted to stay the course.

Now, we must hope that the court will assert its independence, reject the government’s false claims of state secrets, and allow victims of torture and rendition their day in court.

Thanks for standing with us as we work to pursue justice on this critical civil liberties issue.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

P.S. The ACLU has been working on this case for years. To learn more about rendition and the people impacted, watch our short video:

Yes - "disappointment" - that is exactly the word I would have chosen to convey my outrage that, once again, Obama reneged on a MAJOR campaign promise. Just like the "disappointment" people in my family felt when Obama voted for FISA, after promising to filibuster it and ensure it did NOT pass. No reason for him to have voted for it - Clinton sure didn't. Heck, even McCain didn't. But Obama? Oh, yeah - he threw that campaign promise away like yesterday's garbage. I can only assume it was because he wanted to make sure he got to have ALL the same abilities to spy on us and sneak people away in the dead of night that Bush had. How else to explain his readiness to do a 180 on something so important? Oh, besides his being a liar, that is. Ahem.

And the NY Times finally weighed in on this, too (you know this happened earlier in the week. You may not have known because the MSM is continuing its pathetic journalism when it comes to Obama - protect and divert.), in an Editorial entitled, "Continuity of the Wrong Kind." Ya know, I have been saying for months and months and months that Obama was another Bush. Nice of him to prove me right, isn't it? Though, for the sake of the COUNTRY, I would have been happier to be proved wrong...

Apparently, the Editors at the Times feel similarly:
The Obama administration failed — miserably — the first test of its commitment to ditching the extravagant legal claims used by the Bush administration to try to impose blanket secrecy on anti-terrorism policies and avoid accountability for serial abuses of the law.

On Monday, a Justice Department lawyer dispatched by the new attorney general, Eric Holder, appeared before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. The case before them involves serious allegations of torture by five victims of President Bush’s extraordinary rendition program. The five were seized and transported to American facilities abroad or to countries known for torturing prisoners.

Incredibly, the federal lawyer advanced the same expansive state-secrets argument that was pressed by Mr. Bush’s lawyers to get a trial court to dismiss the case without any evidence being presented. It was as if last month’s inauguration had never occurred.

Voters have good reason to feel betrayed if they took Mr. Obama seriously on the campaign trail when he criticized the Bush administration’s tactic of stretching the state-secrets privilege to get lawsuits tossed out of court. Even judges on the panel seemed surprised by the administration’s decision to go forward instead of requesting a delay to reconsider the government’s position and, perhaps, file new briefs.

And not to harp, but honestly - if the people who voted for Obama really, really believed he was a man of his word, it is their own fault. He made it abundantly clear, time and time again, that he would say or do whatever needed to be said or done, to get what he wanted. They just refused to believe their own eyes and ears.

Back to the editorial:
The argument is that the very subject matter of the suit is a state secret so sensitive that it cannot be discussed in court, and it is no more persuasive now than it was when the Bush team pioneered it. For one thing, there is ample public information available about the C.I.A.’s rendition, detention and coercive interrogation programs. The fact that some of the evidence might be legitimately excluded on national security grounds need not preclude the case from being tried, and allowing the judge to make that determination. More fundamentally, the Obama administration should not be invoking state secrets to cover up charges of rendition and torture.

President Obama has taken some important steps to repair Mr. Bush’s damaging legacy — issuing executive orders to prohibit torture, shut secret prisons overseas and direct closure of the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It would have been good if he and Mr. Holder had shown the same determination in that federal court, rather than defending the indefensible.

Um - do they realize Obama hasn't actually CLOSED Gitmo?? I'm just asking, because they seem to think it is a done deal. And given their frustration over Obama's actions in this very piece, WHY would they think that? It just defies logic! Sheesh!

And I do have a question - if the CIA can still carry out rendition, how is it that the secret prisons are shut down? I mean, isn't that just mincing words? Seriously, that seems a bit counter-intuitive to me.

How many times, and in how many ways, does Obama have to repudiate his campaign promises before the MSM and his followers stop carrying water for him? After three weeks, it is just laughable. Or it WOULD be if this wasn't such a serious issue. One widely decried when Bush did it. So where the hell are all the folks who screamed about it then? Sure would love to know. Maybe they have changed their minds now that Obama wants to do it, because obviously, if The One wants it, it has to be A-okay, right? Right?

Wrong. It just makes them hypocrites.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is He Kidding Or Just Unclear On The Concept?

You don't have to be a Yankees fan (which I am) to have heard the recent brouhaha over Alex Rodriquez (I'm a Derek Jeter fan myself), and his acknowledgment that he used steroids back in 2001 - 2003. It is disturbing, of course - I deplore the use of steroids in baseball (though at the time A-Rod used, there was no penalty for testing positive). It cheapens the game, is horrible on the bodies of these athletes, and sets a BAD example for our youth. I hope he is telling the truth that his use was limited to those two years, and that his apology is sincere.

I bring this up because this issue was raised to Obama the other night at the big White House press conference. His response:
The president's strongest answer was in response to the evening's fluffiest question, about Alex Rodriguez's confession that he had taken steroids. After an honest baseball fan's lament ("it tarnishes an entire era"), Obama jumped to a larger point that transcends sports--the lesson in A-Rod's downfall for the young: "There are no shortcuts; that when you try to take shortcuts you may end up tarnishing your whole career." (Emphasis mine.)

I about fell out of my chair laughing. Obama claims there are "no shortcuts"??? His ENTIRE political career has been one of "shortcuts"! He gets everyone else thrown off the ballot so he can run unopposed for the IL Senate. While in the IL Senate, the primary legislation that passed with HIS name on it was thrown on there by "kingmaker," Emil Jones. Obama did little, if any, of the work for the legislation passed in his name. His handlers exposed SEALED information on his Republican opponent in his run for US Senate, thus ending up with Alan Keyes thrown on the ballot at the last minute. And, he did not even complete his first term as US Senator! (All of the above information, and more, can be found HERE.) Could Obama BE any more duplicitous?

Well, it turns out the answer is yes! It seems that Obama is claiming there is NO pork in this humongous stimulus package he is traipsing around the country trying to sell. Perhaps he is unclear on the definition of "pork." Given how much pork Obama tried to get for IL while a US Senator, $740 MILLION, you would think he would know what it was. And he's supposed to be so smart and everything. But he claims that there is NO pork in this stimulus package. None. That's what he said. And right after he said that while in IN, he gave examples of some pork that would benefit IN! I'm not kidding:
OBAMA: "Not a single pet project," he told the news conference. "Not a single earmark."

THE FACTS: There are no "earmarks," as they are usually defined, inserted by lawmakers in the bill. Still, some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork — tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects.

For example, the latest version contains $2 billion for a clean-coal power plant with specifications matching one in Mattoon, Ill.*, $10 million for urban canals, $2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars, and $255 million for a polar icebreaker and other "priority procurements" by the Coast Guard.

Obama told his Elkhart audience that Indiana will benefit from work on "roads like U.S. 31 here in Indiana that Hoosiers count on." He added, "And I know that a new overpass downtown would make a big difference for businesses and families right here in Elkhart."

U.S. 31 is a north-south highway serving South Bend, 15 miles from Elkhart in the northern part of the state.

* Remember, that coal plant was shut down for being "inefficient," and they want to throw $2 BILLION at it.

There are numerous examples of the pork stuffed into this stimulus package, and I have detailed some in previous posts. But you can click HERE for a reminder. But there most definitely IS pork in this package, despite Obama's nonsensical claims to the contrary.

And speaking of pork, how about this little payback for ACORN? Ah, yes. ACORN - the organization under federal investigation for voter fraud. But hey - they did their job, and accomplished their goal, so no doubt, Obama has to "show them the money" (and this isn't the first time ACORN has found its way into one of these bills spending OUR money):

Bear in mind, your taxpaying dollars have already been shelled out to ACORN, despite the numerous investigations into its wrong doing over voter fraud/voter registration fraud. Yes, just as a reminder, back in April, ACORN and La Raza were the beneficiaries of $100 MILLION of your dollars in another Housing bailout. I'm sure ACORN and La Raza thank you. I'm CERTAIN Obama thanks you, since he most definitely benefited from the work of ACORN this past year. I'm going to bet Obama wouldn't consider this pork, either...

I realize I should have offered this warning earlier, but if you have high blood pressure, you may want to skip the following video of Senator Chuck Schumer, a senator I USED to like, but how can you respect someone who says this:

You know what is surprising about this? That Senator Schumer seemed to have no qualms about insulting American citizens who actually do care how our taxpaying dollars are being squandered on pet projects and paybacks. His arrogance is staggering, referring to us as "the chattering class" simply because we do not want to have our great-grandchildren paying for some 36 hole Frisbee golf course, or billions to an organization under federal investigation, or inefficient power plants, or any other of the numerous pet projects tucked into what is SUPPOSED to be a JOB stimulus package. "Chattering class" indeed.

Feel free to contact Senator Schumer and tell him how you, one of the "chattering class," feel about his contention that we do not care about the pork in this bill HERE. We, the "chattering class," actually care about the course our nation is on, and the path down which it is currently being steered. It's about damn time our representatives act like they care, too, especially when they are spending OUR money. We the "chattering class" care, all right - a lot. And we care when a US Senator dismisses our concerns about a tremendously flawed bill as if we should have nothing to say about it. That is not just hubris, that is condescension and arrogance toward the very people who gave this man a job. Senator Schumer has sure shown HIS true colors, and they are not pretty...Let him hear about it.