Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bipartisanship Is A Dead Issue, The Center Is Impotent, The Crisis Complex, The Mideast Is A Burning Fuse, And We Are Arguing With Each Other ...

Bipartisanship Is A  Dead Issue, The Center Is Impotent, The Crisis Complex, The Mideast Is A Burning Fuse, And We Are Arguing With Each Other Over What Vehicle To Use To Get To Bush Co., “Progressives” Don’t Understand The Word Aggressive. Excuse The Analogy, But You Use Every Gun In The Cabinet.



He who straddles the fence is going to end up with a Gluteus Pin Cushion of slivers and Gored (And that’s not Al.) by the Oxen on both sides of the aisle.


The answers right now are not on the Right, They are not in “vital center”; they are going to be found on the left somewhere this side of radical.  The words: “Nationalization of the Banks” now bandied about ought to be a big clue.


"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then,
to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in
broad daylight!"

- Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) –

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude
than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask
not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed
May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget
that ye were our countrymen!”

-Sam Adams-





A Truth Commission to Investigate Bush-Cheney Administration Abuses


I have set up a petition at, and I hope you will sign it to urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration's abuses. We already have over 7,000 signatures, but we need to hit 10,000 signatures -- or more -- by next week, to build momentum behind this idea.

Patrick Leahy

U.S. Senator


Indict Bush

Camus Cafe Political Coffee House: Leahy Opens Petition Drive to ...
By Ed. Dickau 
Dear Ed. Dickau, Thank you for signing my petition at, urging Congress to consider the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-Cheney Administration abuses. 
Camus Cafe Political Coffee House -


And regarding the next title below; get real; we’re already in a totally partisan war and it is simply up to us to win it!  So forget about paying lip service to political peace, ignore all the rhetoric of :” Liberal Progressive  Fascists, the  Hate Monger Bigots , Socialist Tag Conspiracy Nuts, Secret Ties Non Citizenship Impeach Obama Sites and all of the rest of the bull that does not serve to solve a single problem. 


'Truth commission' could spark more partisanship

By LARRY MARGASAK – 6 hours ago


WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic-proposed "truth commission" to investigate the Bush administration is generating more partisanship in a Congress already filled with it.


Republicans are almost universally opposed, and President Barack Obama doesn't appear to be enthralled with the idea either, saying at his first prime-time news conference he would consider the proposal but wants to look forward.


Sponsors said the commission could investigate who — in President George W. Bush's inner circle — drove the harsh interrogations and warrantless surveillance programs, and probe White House involvement in politically motivated hirings and firings in Bush's Justice Department.


There is more to learn, since the Bush administration has kept many documents on these subjects secret and ordered three former White House officials not to testify before Congress. But Obama's Justice Department also is resisting pressure to release those documents.


If Democrats in Congress proceed, it would be one more bruising political debate in a Congress that's had plenty of them since convening last month.


Party splits dominated debates over an economic stimulus and equal pay for women, and were prominent in the confirmations of Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the decision by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to pull his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary, and a health insurance bill to cover more children.


The most outspoken champions of a commission to investigate the Bush administration are Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees. Both lawmakers plan to proceed, despite Obama's comment.


"Investigations are not a matter of payback or political revenge," said Conyers. "It is our responsibility to examine what has occurred and to set an appropriate baseline of conduct for future administrations."


There's "an oversight responsibility that has to be carried out," Leahy said, adding that he wants to discuss the idea further with Obama.


Obama stopped short of quashing the idea, saying he would look at Leahy's proposal.


"Nobody's above the law and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, then people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen," he said. "But ... generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking back."


Leahy, who came up with the "truth commission" label, and Conyers, who already introduced a bill for a "blue ribbon" panel, contended an investigative body outside Congress would take the investigation away from politics. Republicans countered it would do exactly the opposite — and they have the votes to kill it in the Senate with a filibuster.


Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked why Democrats need a commission to get information from a Justice Department now run by their own party.


"You just have to walk in and ask where the file cabinets are," Specter said in an interview.


Specter is anything but a doctrinaire Republican. He was one of three Senate Republicans who originally supported the Democratic economic stimulus plan. He supported Holder's confirmation. He voted for the Democratic children's health care bill.


Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who also voted for Holder, called the "truth commission" suggestion "this left-driven desire to prosecute people" over Bush's anti-terrorism policies.


Another Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said the proposal makes Democrats vulnerable to allegations that they're piling on after already spending years investigating the administration.


"This not only a bad idea, it is a diversion from the economic crisis we face," Cornyn said.


Leahy acknowledged that a commission would have to be careful in seeking immunity from prosecution for witnesses. The convictions of Oliver North, in the Iran-Contra scandal, were vacated in 1990 because witnesses in his trial might have been impermissibly affected by his immunized congressional testimony.


There's also the danger of interfering with a special prosecutor's criminal investigation of possible criminal wrongdoing in the firings of U.S. attorneys.


The House and Senate judiciary committees have spent several years looking into interrogation policies, warrantless surveillance and politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and several of his top aides lost their jobs for allowing politics to influence department policies.


Dear Chairman Conyers | Let's Try Democracy
I really hate to bring this up, but do you recall the many times you told us that you couldn't uphold your oath of office and 
impeach Bush and Cheney because you were focused on electing Obama? Maybe you understood the ...
Let's Try Democracy - Writings... -


"Looking Ahead" or Overlooking Crimes Against Humanity?
NYU Washington Square News - New York,NY,USA
Or Speaker Nancy Pelosi taking “
impeachment off the table” in the face of some of the most impeachable crimes in the history of the US? ...


Siegelman To White House Counsel: Don't Compromise With Rove

Your Turn - Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009
Democrats became the majority party after the 2006 elections because the country was fed up with the
Bush-Cheney administration. But Democrats still feared Bush, so they would not consider animpeachment resolution against him. ... Opinion-Letters to Editor -


Judge won't drop Blackwater case charges 

(Does This Mean That “Mercenaries With Immunity” are in trouble; that maybe they’ll have to pawn their weapons to pay their legal bills, or better yet…jail cell bars instead of rifle sights?)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A federal judge refused to toss charges against five U.S. security contractors accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad last year.


INTERMEX POWER: Hold Them Accountable
By Ricardo Valenzuela 
We don't find out until
 it's too late that the intelligence professionals were right to begin with. The Jones bill would end this cycle of deception and make our officials think twice before they cite dubious "intelligence" to justify a war . ... The first hurdle, however, is getting this bill out of the House Judiciary Committee, where it is likely to die unless you act now. Here is a list of committee members and their contact information. Give them a ring. ...INTERMEX POWER -

CIA Using Pakistan Base To Hit Militants

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The CIA has been secretly using the Shamsi airfield in Pakistan to launch drone attacks against al-Qaida and Taliban militants, a British newspaper says.


Poll Shows No Gains In U.S. Standing

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Only 32 percent of Americans are satisfied with the United States' position in the world, a new Gallup Poll indicates.


Time: Israel Election "Dashes All Hope"

Israel’s elections on Tuesday ended in a near draw, with the two front runners — centrist Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni and hawkish Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu — each claiming victory. With nearly all votes counted, Livni’s party won 28 Knesset seats, and Netanyahu’s 27 seats, both falling well short of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.


The result could be the worst possible outcome for Israel, guaranteeing weeks of political turmoil ahead, and stalling any attempts by U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration to restart Middle East peace talks. Whoever comes to power in Israel is likely to be tugged in different directions by combative coalition partners. In the past, smaller parties have held governments of both the right and the left hostage to their narrow, self-serving agendas. 


With Kadima and Likud both far short of a majority in the Knesset, Yisrael Beitenu’s controversial leader, Avigdor Lieberman, has emerged as the key power broker. Speaking to his party supporters at midnight as votes were being tallied, Lieberman indicated that his natural inclination is to side with Netanyahu. "We want a right-wing government," he said flatly. Lieberman also took a swing at the outgoing Kadima-led government for entering into Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks with Gaza’s Islamic militants, Hamas. "We will not have direct or indirect negotiations with Hamas nor a cease-fire," he said, adding that he would join any government that had as its objective "the defeat of Hamas".


Political commentators and pollsters say that Israelis shifted back to the right out of dissatisfaction over the failure of peace talks with the Palestinians and a lingering sense that the Gaza war ended too soon, without crushing Hamas militants or ending their rocket fire into southern Israel.


The rightward tilt is a blow to President Obama’s hopes that a new Israeli government might be willing to make peace with the Palestinians and various Arab neighbors. Netanyahu and Lieberman are pushing for the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which Palestinians say is a main obstacle to peace, and are adamant that Israel should hang onto the Golan Heights seized from Syria in the 1967 war. Both Netanyahu and Lieberman also say that the army ought to return to Gaza and wipe out Hamas. During the campaign, Netanyahu said, "There will be no alternative but to bring down the regime of Hamas, a terrorist organization pledged to our destruction. Ultimately, Israel cannot tolerate an Iranian base right next to its cities." …


Israel's Parties Fight For Power
Daniel Levy discusses the power struggle among Israel's political leaders and Israel's move to the right 


Discussing the recent elections in Israel, Paul Jay speaks to Daniel Levy, co-director of the Middle East Task Force of the New America Foundation. Levy talks about the power struggle between Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni over the formation of a coalition government in the Israeli Knesset. He says "on paper, Netanyahu has a government, Livni does not. She can't form a majority of 61 without some very bizarre alliances that are not inconceivable but unlikely," adding she would have to form a coalition with center-left parties and some of the smaller right-wing ones. The current options in Israel, Levy says, include a narrow ultra right religious government led by Netanyahu, a broad coalition with Kadima, Likud, and some other religious or secular right parties, or a rotation agreement between Livni and Netanyahu, as Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres did in 1984.


Daniel Levy is a political analyst, and the Co-Director of the Middle East Initiative at the New America Foundation. During the Barak Government, he worked in the Prime Minister's Office as special adviser and head of the Jerusalem Affairs unit under Minister Haim Ramon. He also worked as senior policy adviser to former Israeli Minister of Justice, Yossi Beilin. He was a member of the official Israeli delegation to the Taba negotiations with the Palestinians in January 2001, and previously served on the negotiating team to the “Oslo B” Agreement from May to September 1995, under Prime Minister Rabin.

In the rubble of Jabal al Rayas
Gaza families struggling to survive in homemade shelteres  VIEW


Time’s Haditha Reporter: All Lost In Iraq


 There are no good options left in Iraq. To those who have lived through the daily carnage wrought by organized criminals, sectarian militias and jihadist terrorists, the idea that the U.S. can prevent a full-scale civil war—let alone transform Iraq into a stable democracy—has been dead for months. The main question is, How long will it take for military officials in Iraq and policymakers in Washington to concede that the whole enterprise is closer to failure than success?


[B]oth parties are hoping that the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic Representative from Indiana, will provide the White House with the political cover to abandon its now quixotic goals of creating democracy in Iraq in favor of a more limited focus on establishing enough stability to allow U.S. troops to leave without catastrophic consequences. "You can’t sugarcoat that. The Iraq situation’s not winnable in any meaningful sense of the word. What the U.S. needs to do now is look for a way to limit the losses and the costs," Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former member of the Administration’s foreign policy team, said last week. The question, Haass added, is "how poorly it’s going to end up." …


So what can still be done? Despite the consensus of gloom —Bush told ABC News last week that the violence in Baghdad "could be" compared to the Tet offensive in Vietnam in 1968-69, which helped turn many Americans against that war—few Iraqi or U.S. officials believe an immediate withdrawal is wise or likely. But paralysis could be worse. So the focus is on finding ways to bring violence down to a sustainable level, after which the U.S. can begin to extricate itself from the mess. At this late date,there’s nothing the U.S. or the Iraqi government can do to stop the bleeding altogether. Iraq’s most pressing problems may still take years to resolve. But quick and decisive action in a few key areas could at least help slow the inexorable descent into anarchy. Here are five of them:


Jeff Stein's Spytalk
US Puts Limits on Police Advisers in Afghanistan: American civilian advisers to Afghanistan's National Police, considered the linchpin in any successful effort against the Taliban, say restrictions on their movements are making their efforts basically worthless. READ MORE


Obama orders 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan

By Andrew Gray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama, in his first major military decision as commander-in-chief, has ordered 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan to tackle an intensifying insurgency, the White House said on Tuesday.


But in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Obama also said military means alone would not solve the problem.


U.S. officials have said Washington and its allies are not winning in Afghanistan, more than seven years after toppling the Taliban for giving sanctuary to al Qaeda leaders responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.


The extra 17,000 troops will increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by more than 40 percent.


"This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires," Obama said in a statement.


But in an interview with CBC Television ahead of a visit to Canada, Obama said: "I'm absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region, solely through military means.


"We're going to have use diplomacy, we're going to have to use development, and my hope is that in conversations that I have with (Canadian) Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper that he and I end up seeing the importance of a comprehensive strategy."


The new forces will include a Marine expeditionary brigade of some 8,000 troops and an Army brigade of 4,000 soldiers equipped with Stryker armored vehicles, the Pentagon said.  Continued...


Obama Orders More Troops to Afghanistan, but New Strategy Will Wait

By John M. Donnelly, CQ Staff


President Obama announced on Tuesday a significant increase in U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, eliciting support in Congress but also hard questions about the president’s strategy for using the troops.


In a statement, the president said he would reinforce U.S. forces in Afghanistan with two brigade-sized forces — a Marine Corps unit this spring and an Army one this summer, plus supporting troops. The additional forces would number more than 12,000 and would supplement the current force of approximately 38,000, a senior Pentagon official said. The president might add further to the buildup in subsequent months, perhaps ultimately nearly doubling the current force, officials have said.


In unveiling the long-anticipated start of a shift in forces from Iraq to Afghanistan, Obama acknowledged the need for a change in strategy in Afghanistan, which his aides in the National Security Council, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Central Command have been developing.


Saying the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan “demands urgent attention and swift action,” Obama said the strategy is under construction. The troop increase could not wait for the strategy, he suggested.


“This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires,” the president said. “That is why I ordered a review of our policy upon taking office, so we have a comprehensive strategy and the necessary resources to meet clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region.”


But the announced augmentation of troop levels will add to the pressure on Obama to articulate answers to questions about the policy those forces will be implementing.


The questions range from how much emphasis to place on securing populations and fostering development and democracy, versus limiting the focus to a mostly lethal exercise in attacking al Qaeda and the Taliban. Also of concern is the role of Pakistan and other regional powers and the extent to which tribal leaders, versus the central government, become a linchpin of security.


Complicating the picture further is the fact that the supplies needed for a growing allied force are increasingly imperiled by attacks on convoys in Pakistan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., anticipated the questions about the strategy in his statement.


“I support President Obama’s approval of a request from the ground commanders for more troops,” Reid said. “I also strongly support the comprehensive strategic review of our policy that is currently under way.”


Similarly, other members, including John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said more troops alone will not lead to success in Afghanistan.


“I believe the president must spell out for the American people what he believes victory in Afghanistan will look like and articulate a coherent strategy for achieving it,” McCain said in a statement. “Today, notwithstanding the administration’s ongoing policy reviews, there still exists no integrated civil-military plan for this war — more than seven years after we began military operations. Such a strategy should spell out the way forward, including the additional resource requirements for its execution.”


John M. McHugh of New York, the ranking Republican on House Armed Services, echoes that theme.

“While the deployment of additional U.S. personnel is welcome, our commanders on the ground and the secretary of Defense have consistently indicated that additional troops will be required in the future,” McHugh said in a statement. “However, President Obama should not assume that more troops are the complete answer to the challenges in Afghanistan. We need to involve all elements of national power in this struggle and develop a balanced, comprehensive strategy for the region and the issues involved.”


An advocacy group for military families articulated another concern afoot in Congress, particularly among Republicans: “We also cannot diminish the tremendous progress the surge has made in Iraq over the past two years by abandoning Iraq to fight in Afghanistan,” said Military Families United.


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., took another tack on that issue.


“Democrats have long said that the center of the war on terror is Afghanistan, and this renewed commitment to our fight there demonstrates the president’s appreciation for this challenge,” Hoyer said in a statement. “The conflict in Iraq has taken our eye off of a resurgent global network of terrorists, and this action responds to requests from commanders on the ground to increase their ability to effectively combat those who seek to harm us.


McCain and other lawmakers also suggested that U.S. allies need to respond to the president’s statement by adding their own troops in Afghanistan and by loosening restrictions on how they can be used.


“I hope our NATO allies will take our example to heart and provide more assistance as well,” said Ike Skelton , D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.


Matthew Johnson contributed to this story.


Israel ready to launch military offensive on Iran - From Lech Biegalski


A SENIOR Israeli diplomat has warned that Israel is ready to launch a military offensive against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.


In an interview with The Age, Dan Gillerman, who was Israel's permanent representative at the United Nations from 2003 until last September, said time for diplomatic efforts to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear capability might have already expired.


"The world cannot afford to live with a nuclear Iran," Mr Gillerman said.


The truth is that, after witnessing Israeli war crimes in Lebanon and in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories, the world cannot afford to live with nuclear Israel. As opposed to Iran, Israel has secretly developed hundreds of nuclear warheads and delivery weapons outside of any supervision by international community. Iran continues to run its nuclear program in cooperation with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  


According to the Press TV report of February 13,



Germany, France May Face Bailout of Nations, Not Just Banks

Germany and France may be forced to contemplate the bailout of entire nations rather than just individual banks as European government budgets buckle under the weight of recession. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck became the first senior policy maker to broach the topic this week, saying some of the 16 euro nations are “getting into difficulties†and may need help. French officials are also concerned about market tensions as the cost of insuring Irish, Greek and Spanish debt against default rises to records and bond spreads widen. (


Navasky on Obama Pt5
The progressive movement must push for the "left most side of the possible" 



Democrats have won the first month of Obama’s presidency but almost entirely because of Republican mistakes. Democrats will have to work harder to keep winning. 

 Much is going on in the American political world. Putting all of it in a larger, longer-term perspective is the antidote for the confusion one feels when trying to understand the currents and undertows of politics and policy. That is especially true given the human tendency to over-analyze political events that, even when important, rarely have the significance people attach to them. It’s equally easy to overlook things that seem small and not worthy of even a moment’s pondering. Such matters have context and it’s worthwhile to put them in their context.


The beginning of a new presidential administration is a good starting point. Nearly a month into President Obama’s administration, the excess by congressional Democrats is being more than offset by Republican intellectual calcification. Two other factors, Michael Steele and Judd Gregg’s respective behaviors are part of the backdrop.


 The potential legal problems of recently elected Republican National Chair Michael Steele, as reported in the February 7 Washington Post, are important politically. (It’s unlikely at this point that he will get into any serious legal trouble because of them.) Steele has no more than a month to prove in the court of public opinion that he has none nothing wrong. If he fails, he will be ousted as chair by the RNC. That move would have more impact on the Republican Party than on Steele, who was selected because the RNC Chair contest was a classic case of “You should have seen the other guys.” and because the Republicans thought their new chair should be the same race as the Democratic president.


That does not bode well-and will bode worse if Steele is removed-for a party that is philosophically and intellectually adrift. It will hurt Republican fund raising for 2010, a difficulty Republicans cannot afford and which will likely prevent them from gaining as many seats as they could in congress and the senate. Their fortunes will depend on Democratic mistakes and, though Democrats are good at making those, it is never good to leave your destiny in the hands of your opponents.


 The Democrats have shown a significant sign of overreaching by passing an overdone stimulus bill worth $787 billion. House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid have displayed tone deafness towards centrists and will have to be reigned in by the White House to strengthen Obama’s chances of being re-elected. The other side of the coin is that the Republicans’ stance in both the house and senate on the stimulus bill is a short-term political calculation and the odds are that it will also hurt Republicans’ fortunes in 2010.


Republicans are gambling that the Americans oppose the stimulus because of excessive pork. That is a true but inaccurate reading of public sentiment. People only oppose pork barrel spending that benefits others but will gladly accept government money that benefits themselves and will overlook the other money to other people. (Pork is what everybody else gets; you get an “investment”.) 


More to the point, voters will accept the excessive spending in this stimulus package as long as something gets done sooner rather than later. The calculation that Republicans have missed is that if the stimulus works, Obama and the Democrats will get the credit but if the stimulus doesn’t work, the Republicans will get at least half the blame. The Republicans made that mistake because they decided to continue to engage in short-term thinking instead of looking at where they want their party to be beyond 2010. By militantly posturing and opposing the stimulus bill, Republicans have slipped back into their favorite role of angry nay-sayers who have not positive actions to offer.


Voters  will also notice that Republicans are for smaller government only when they are in the minority and they know government won’t shrink. They are doing now to Obama what they tried to do-and failed-with Bill Clinton: marginalize him and his party by arguing that everything he’s doing and will do is wrong. That’s a bad bet. Right now, Obama can afford a mistake; the Republicans can’t.


 The third leg of the stool is Judd Greg’s acceptance and then refusal of the position of Secretary of Commerce. One can, perhaps reasonably, believe Gregg’s explanation that he changed his mind because he has too many policy differences with the president. One also cannot reasonably discount that Gregg meekly succumbed to pressure from Republican senators determined to deny Obama any substantive demonstration of bipartisanship because they fear that doing so will credit him in the public’s eyes.


Republicans do not grasp that their electoral future in 2010 and 2012 is tied to their working selectively but productively with, rather than blindly against, Obama. If they persist in disagreeing with Obama simply to show that they can, the country will rightly see Republicans as obstructionists with no ideas of their own.


By picking and choosing the battles over which they can have some influence (Obama will, wisely, permit that influence), Republicans will gain stature in the voters’ eyes and they will pick up seats in the house and senate in the next two elections.


The immediate risk to the Democrats is that, in 2010, the economy will not have improved enough to satisfy the voters. The counter to that is that economic conditions will likely be at least good enough to give people hope that things will continue to improve. If, so Democrats will hold both houses of congress without much problem. Republicans’ problem is that they admit that they need new ideas but keep peddling the old ones that don’t work. The advantage lies with the Democrats but only for now. They will do well to keep their eyes open and their guard up.


Dick Graham     -Columbus Ohio-


(The only point I would take issue with at the moment is that “Progressive Centrists are brining nothing to the table of any value at the moment.  They are an impediment.)


Censorship Commissar for AM and Internet Talk Radio–Henry Waxman ...
By Raymond 
Kucinich Discusses Fairness Doctrine on Lou Dobbs ... Before his election to Congress, he served six years in the California State Assembly. With the Democrats’ victory in the 2006 midterm elections, Waxman became chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the principal investigative committee of the House. He was the committee’s ranking Democrat from 1997 to 2007. In 2009, he will begin serving as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce ...
Pronk Palisades -


Obama's International Socialist Connections in Real Time with Bill ...
Creamer's list of testimonials comes from such figures as Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Harold Meyerson, founder Wes Boyd, and David Axelrod, a "Democratic political consultant." ...
HBO Community Home: Recent Topics... -


This Change Isn’t Very Hopeful

By John Cranford, CQ Staff

The partisan polarization that has defined Congress over the past decade has not improved in the first weeks of the new administration — if anything, it has gotten worse.


Out of 62 roll call votes through Feb. 13 in the Senate (not counting the final vote on the economic stimulus bill), 52 pitted a majority of Democrats against a majority of Republicans — a whopping 84 percent that meet Congressional Quarterly’s definition of a party unity vote. The House was only marginally less polarized, with 61 percent of its 70 roll call votes splitting the parties.


President Obama has been philosophical about bridging this divide. “There have been a lot of bad habits built up here in Washington,” he said, “and it’s going to take time to break down some of those bad habits.”


It’s early, though, and the bulk of voting has been on issues such as the stimulus bill, guaranteed to test ideological fault lines. But the number is extraordinary. Since CQ began looking at voting patterns in 1953, the frequency of Senate party unity votes never before breached 69 percent for a single year. The House cast a higher percentage only once since 1995.


Moreover, Democrats are voting more often than ever with their caucuses on these partisan votes, and Republicans aren’t far behind.


On average, House and Senate Democrats have voted with their party more than 96 percent of the time this year — ahead of the record pace. House Republicans have hung together a record 94 percent of the time. Only Senate Republicans have trailed, voting with their colleagues just 87 percent of the time, well below their record of 94 percent. But that’s clearly because of the low scores of a few high-profile GOP defectors, particularly Olympia J. Snoweand Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who helped broker the stimulus deal. All three scored below 50 percent so far on party unity votes.


Lawmakers Lowest in Party Unity: Click Here to View Chart - 


New Team Repackages The Right’s Thinking


By Alan K. Ota, CQ Staff


In the past, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence have made it their business to advance the cause of conservative orthodoxy at the Capitol. Pence chaired the Republican Study Committee, the caucus of the most rightward thinking members of the House, for two years in the middle of the decade. And for the past six years, part of Cantor’s job as the appointed chief deputy whip was to placate the RSC, to which he also belongs.


This year, however, each assumed a top elected House GOP leadership position: Virginia’s Cantor has the No. 2 post, minority whip, and Indiana’s Pence is in the No. 3 job, chairman of the Republican Conference, or caucus. That has put both former members of the conservative bloc — neither of whom used to shy away from criticizing the more pragmatic GOP centrists — in a politically complicated position. On the one hand, they are being called upon to make the case for reviving their party’s political fortunes through selective accommodation to popular Democratic domestic initiatives. On the other hand, they are advocating positions hard on the right on such issues as taxes and spending discipline with the aim of keeping the party’s base engaged.


Both lawmakers came into leadership as change candidates and were able to secure their elections with ease when Missouri’s Roy Blunt stepped down as whip and Florida’s Adam H. Putnam gave up the conference chairmanship. And in framing a new party platform for the Obama age, both men are crafting messages that curiously echo the popular new Democratic president’s appeals to pragmatism and bipartisanship.


“The country right now is not interested in conventions of conservative vs. liberal, East Coast vs. West Coast, Democrat vs. Republican,” Cantor said in an interview. “They want leadership in Washington, not partisanship.” Pence vows to press for compromise — and to showcase each member’s “unique brand of Republicanism” rather than pursue a ready-made, hard-right agenda.


Still, the generous bipartisan rhetoric also comes with risks — especially from the ideological home base of both lawmakers, the RSC, which has a reputation for trying to mete out tough discipline for leaders who get too comfortable in stoking bipartisan accords. It was a group of junior RSC members, most famously, who were instrumental in the failed coup against GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia in 1997.


So far, both Pence and Cantor have taken a cautious approach to building consensus — not around the RSC’s agenda, but on approaches to issues that have broader GOP support, including the economy, health care and immigration.


In the coming weeks, each will probably be signaling moves toward a new, “vital center” conservative approach in the House GOP. What’s more, Pence and Cantor both have ambitions that will require them to broaden their bases of personal political support: Cantor wants to succeed Ohio’s John A. Boehner as GOP floor leader, while Pence would like to move to the Senate if fellow Republican Richard G. Lugar decides to retire in 2012, when he’ll be 80. With these longer-term ambitions clearly in view, both House leaders will probably choose their battles shrewdly in Congress.


Before this month’s vote on expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, for example, Cantor and Boehner got 100 House Republicans to sign a letter to Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California pledging support for revamping the program “in a manner that puts poor children first, which was the original intent of the program.” The language signaled both general support for a popular bill and conservative alarm over benefits going to undocumented workers. (In the end, the GOP caucus split: 40 in favor, 137 opposed to the bill.)


But when Cantor and Pence need to make common cause with the RSC on such core GOP issues as lower taxes — the conservatives are pushing hard for an indefinite extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are on course to lapse next year — they will probably sound off unambiguously on the need to curtail government spending and shun broad political intervention in economic affairs.


Much the same rhetoric, indeed, attended this year’s first major test of the House GOP leadership: its approach to the economic stimulus package that was the first legislative priority of the Obama administration.


While the president pressed for quick action on the plan last week, Pence and Cantor fired up their base in opposition. “The way forward is to find compromise but not compromise on what you believe in,” Pence said after a town hall meeting in his hometown of Columbus, Ind., as the president stumped 230 miles to the north in Elkhart, Ind.


That blend of tough talk and appeals to principle has so far proven to be a unifying message. No Republican voted for the economic recovery legislation — neither the initial version the House passed last month nor the final, compromise version with the Senate that was cleared last week.


But the united front emerged only after a series of behind-the-scenes efforts by Cantor and Pence to bridge divisions between the 178-member caucus as a whole and the 100 or so within the caucus who belong to the RSC — while also keeping some RSC initiatives at arm’s length.


In one maneuver, Cantor, who headed Boehner’s working group on the stimulus legislation, had assembled a GOP substitute plan that included rate cuts for middle- and lower-income taxpayers. When it was unveiled in a bipartisan leadership meeting at the White House three days after the inauguration, Obama offered muted praise but stressed that he had won the election and insisted that his rebates and infrastructure spending would remain in the bill instead of Cantor’s version.


Still, Cantor’s package was more than just a pawn in that partisan standoff. In fact it had pointedly omitted items from the RSC playbook, such as an across-the-board tax-rate cut and reductions in the capital gains tax.


“We didn’t want to include things that Obama would stereotypically expect us to present,” said a senior Republican familiar with the consensus-building strategy pursued by Cantor and Pence. “We wanted things that he might accept.”


When the bill came to the floor, the two leaders stepped away from hard-core conservatives in still more maneuvering over another GOP alternative plan. On a procedural motion that would have added about $60 billion in infrastructure funding but reduced the bill’s overall price tag by about $100 billion, Pence initially voted “no” and took the side of 32 small-government conservatives, including Tom Price of Georgia, this year’s RSC chairman. But as Democrats flocked to defeat the motion, Pence switched to “yes” — joining most Republicans who had, by then, decided to seek some cover for opposing the Democrats’ plan for popular tax cuts and infrastructure cash.


The 2010 Challenge


Such early efforts are the prelude to the big task for Cantor, Pence and other GOP leaders: defining a pragmatic agenda that could help to reposition the GOP caucus, dominated by a growing conservative faction, in the wake of the party’s losses last fall.


Both leaders continue to attack Democrats for heavy-handed legislative tactics, but they also say they would like to find “tilting points,” or middle-ground compromises, acceptable to rank-and-file Republicans. “The journey to the middle starts with one step from both ends of the spectrum,” Pence said.


The GOP’s tilting point on spending could emerge when it offers its alternative to Obama’s fiscal 2010 budget blueprint, due out sometime in early spring. On immigration, Pence, an Irish immigrant’s son, is urging the GOP to move away from its strict opposition to granting eventual legal status to undocumented workers. “I broke from House conservatives to promote a compromise bill on immigration,” he said. “I still hope we can find middle ground.”


Pence argues that the GOP must likewise develop alternatives on other items at the top of Obama’s agenda, including measures aimed at providing health coverage to uninsured families. “Republicans have to be for something,” Pence said.


The party also has to be cultivating political growth strategies, meaning that it can ill afford the kind of rancor that would accompany a major internal rift. That’s why Cantor and Pence have so far put a premium on reaching consensus between the party’s social-conservative and business wings — a strategy that necessarily pushes questions of ideological purity onto the back burner.


Cantor led the credit-crisis working group for Boehner last year; he helped engineer a deal in last fall’s financial-industry bailout legislation to include a GOP proposal for insurance for some of the volatile mortgage-backed securities held by banks. But since backing the law’s enactment, he has joined conservatives who attacked the program for inadequate safeguards and opposed full funding for the plan. Pence opposed the bailout bill from its inception.


Now, the pair is out to align the business community’s K Street allies and their party’s conservative wing in time for the 2010 midterm campaign. Both say they will not be driving a hard-right agenda for the RSC at the leadership table. “Despite the fact people on the outside may view the RSC as fairly homogenous, it is not,” Pence said. “We won’t be working to fit members into any particular view of mine or of leadership.”


FOR FURTHER READING: Economic stimulus (HR 1), p. 352; SCHIP (PL 111-3), p. 309; conservative movement, p. 290, 2008 CQ Weekly, p. 3082; financial bailout (PL 110-343), p. 3270; GOP leadership, pp. 3086, 2998 2751; Gingrich coup, 1997 Almanac, p. 1-11.


William Greider on the Looting of Social Security « Dandelion Salad
By dandelionsalad 
The resounding defeat of George W. 
Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security in 2005 seemed to be the end of attacks against the program. However, William Greider argues that Wall Street interests are leading a new round of threats to ...
Dandelion Salad -


Arianna Huffington: It's Time to Treat America's Homeowners as ...
By Arianna Huffington

A bill to bring it back was approved by the House 
Judiciary committee in late January -- but only after chairman John Conyers agreed to key concessions to the banking industry, including making the legislation only apply to existing mortgages and not ..... They played the game of writing mortgages on bad risks, taking their cut, and then selling them off to unsuspecting buyers, or buyers so stupid they were buying back the same bad mortgages they unloaded on someone else. ...
The Full Feed from -


Foreclosure prevention plan to be unveiled

PHOENIX, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- With the economic stimulus plan signed into law, President Barack Obama turns to the second leg of his effort to right the U.S. economy: the housing market.


Stimulus Is Signed As Storm Builds | Carmakers Seek Billions More In Aid; Stocks Plunge


Obama unveils $75 billion mortgage relief plan

Associated Press Writers


Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 11:27 am

White House Releases State by State Numbers; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Save or Create 3.5 Million Jobs


Office of the Press Secretary | For Immediate February 17, 2009


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The White House today released state-specific details on the local impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy to compete in the 21st century. The compromise package of $789 billion will create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector.


Below are links to tables and fact sheets outlining the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The estimates are derived from an analysis of the overall employment impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act conducted by Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist for the Vice President, and detailed estimates of the working age population, employment, and industrial composition of each state.




















New DCorps Study: Public Affirms Obama's Vision, Direction

Democracy Corps has just released an important new study, "President Obama's Political Project," the first in-depth analysis of how the public perceives "the president's mission and larger mandate for the country." The study is based on data from two surveys of LV's, conducted for Democracy Corps by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner from 1/26-29 and 2/9-10. Among the findings (from the overview):


Not surprising, when forced to choose voters say that returning the economy to sound footing and creating quality jobs is Obama’s top goal. But more surprising, given the dominance of the stimulus story, is that voters see through this to other goals – which are seen as somewhat more important to the Obama project – and thus give the presidency definition beyond the recovery. For the public, at the heart of the Obama project is a turn away from greed and the super-rich and toward the middle class and its values, with greater opportunity, security and rising prosperity.


The PDF Analysis of the survey data indicates that 60 percent of voters support the Presdient's economic recovery plan, while "a cautious 40 percent" agree that "he is keeping his promise to create or save 3 milllion jobs." A remarkable 82 percent of survey respondents agreed that "making sure this country works not just for the super-rich. but that everyone has a chance to succeed and prosper" is Obama's "most important goal."


Interestingly, the public fervently supports Obama's efforts on behalf of "restoring respect for America in the world as a moral leader, restoring our key alliances and putting more emphasis on diplomacy," with 60 percent agreeing that "Obama is keeping his promise" in that regard. As the overview explains:


Equally surprising, given the focus on the economy, is the importance that voters say Obama places on restoring respect for America around the world. The view that he wants to change how America relates to the world is nearly as strong as the perception that he is committed to greater equity and restoring the middle class and ranks above short-term job creation. This response underscores the scope of what voters think Obama is trying to achieve.


Further, DCorps reports that,


...the public is very attentive to the larger character of his project and how it can change the American society and America’s position in the world. Over 60 percent of voters say Obama and the Democrats are making progress addressing the country’s problems, twice the number who say they are faltering, but that judgment and the character of the Obama political project will emerge in the struggles ahead.


Despite all of the fuss about cabinet appointments and other issues and distractions, the public sees a clear mandate for for President Obama with a high degree of confidence that he is doing his best to address America's critical priorities.


Posted by staff on February 13, 2009 02:12 PM


Obama Gains Support From G.O.P. Governors

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.


The contrast reflects the two faces of the Republican Party these days.


Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.


In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.


That was quick.


Less than a month into his presidency, Barack Obama has found that no one is really buying bipartisanship. His base hates it, as the blogs will tell you. His allies in Congress resent it, as Sen. Schumer signaled on Sunday morning. And while media outlets still prioritize a bipartisan process over actual policy substance, like this weird Washington Post editorial, even centrist pundits are souring on Obama's bipartisan bouquets. Time's Joe Klein, a fan of bipartisanship, has concluded that bipartisanship is currently impossible because there are no good faith partners in Washington:


Obama should now understand that the Republicans are not reliable partners--at least, not for the moment. Most are stuck in the contentious past, rutted in Reaganism, intent on taking a Hooverist course on the economy... The President's default position, after the stimulus fight and the Gregg fiasco, should be to appoint Democrats to significant domestic policy positions...


I don't happen to think Sen. Gregg's indecision qualifies as a fiasco, but it does add a personal flavor to the Republicans' political posture. Here's the bottom line: They're just not that into Obama.


Yes, the President can keep calling them and saying all the right things. He can woo them and invite them over, like that hyped White House "bipartisan super bowl party." He can go totheir home, like his trek to Maryland for two and a half hours oflamb chops and neocons. He can even add their ideas to his legislation and their nominees to his cabinet, as The Nation's Ari Berman recounts.


If Obama is taking all those actions based on their own intrinsic value -- for healthy debate and a wide circle of advisers -- then fine. The notion that this bipartisan process will yield more GOP support, however, has been officially shredded. If it doesn't work now, with Obama's recent election mandate, booming approval ratings and a public eager for government action to address the economic crisis, it's not going to work. And anyone who thinks the G.O.P. will get more cooperative is placing a bet on politicians growing less political as the next elections draw closer.


Team Obama is already recalibrating, naturally. Rahm Emanuel recently noted that an "insatiable appetite" for bipartisanship made Obama's team "get ahead" of itself. The President, for his part, clarified that bipartisan outreach does not make him a "sap." And throughout his career, Obama has pivoted deftly from the soft touch to knockout blows.


He explained this approach during a campaign interview back in 2007, in a clip which the blogger Jed Lewison recently flagged:


I don't like people trying to take advantage of that [outreach]. This is why actually if you watch my political interactions. I am always best as a counter-puncher. You know, somebody comes at me I will knock them out. If not, I will try to understand their point of view and that actually serves me well. I give people the benefit of the doubt; I try to understand their point of view -- if I perceive that they try to take advantage of that then I will crush them.


It's about that time, obviously.


Democrats' Slim Victories In Va. Build GOP's Hopes

Two surprisingly narrow victories for Democrats this year in blue-tilting Northern Virginia show that the party is vulnerable to complacency as critical fall elections approach for governor and the House of Delegates, party leaders said.  
(By Amy Gardner, The Washington Post) 



Freedom of choice: Government has no business meddling in talk radio

Bluefield Daily Telegraph - Bluefield,WV,USA




A burglar broke into a house one night. He shone his flashlight around, looking for valuables. He picked up a CD player to place in his sack when a strange, Disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, 'Jesus is watching you'.

He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flash light off, and froze.

When he heard nothing more after a bit he shook his head and continued.


Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, Clear as a bell he heard, 'Jesus is watching you'.

Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically,looking for the source of the voice.

Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot..

'Did you say that?' he hissed at the parrot.

'Yep' the parrot confessed then squawked, 'I'm just trying to warn you that he's watching you'.

The burglar relax ed. 'Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?'

'Moses' replied the bird.

'Moses?' the burglar laughed.. 'What kind of people would name a bird Moses?'

'The kind of people that would name a Rottweiler Jesus'.


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