January 3, 2009The Half Empty Glass -- Change is relative. I am still breathing a huge sigh of relief that the population of America managed to push off the Bush administration and its proxy successor McCain, and we won't be seeing Bush or Cheney or Rove in the positions of ultimate power over the country anymore. It's a great thing to have a president who was elected. I didn't care for Reagan, but at least he was elected, which Bush never was. His regime just pushed itself and its ugly agenda on the people.
Now in 2008, the population certainly chose the candidate who represented the greatest range of change among those who were offered. America rejected those who had gone along with the Iraq war in favor of one who clearly opposed it from the beginning. The population clearly voted for a change of direction practically from the bottom up. And the evidence is strong that Obama actually won by a much greater margin than the official totals show. Now the question is how much change are we really going to see.
The country is so crippled by the actions and inactions of the current government that options are now extremely limited. Bush and the compliant Congress have brought us to a point of disaster, of having to struggle just for survival. But apart from that, the actions and inactions of Obama since the election seem to indicate increasingly that he is bent on representing the forces resisting change more than the forces supporting it. One after another the appointments that have come in seem to show Obama wooing almost every constituency other than those who want a clear break from the past.
What is still good is that the people pushed off the old in favor of the clearest statement of change in the political spectrum. It is the people who drove this election, who rejected Bush, McCain and the other establishment figures presented to them in favor of the one who represented the largest break from the past. It is the people -- us -- who must now lead the change from here. No one can say for sure what Obama's plans or intentions are, but if he plans to cozy up to the corporate establishment and assist its efforts to hold back the change demanded by the population, we have to see that he does not succeed in that.
The latest in Obama's list of disturbing appointments is former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack is a strong supporter of genetically engineered pharmaceutical crops, especially pharmaceutical corn (see gene.ch and organicconsumers.org). He was also the founder and the former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership. He's a favorite of agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto. According to the Organic Consumers Association, "While Vilsack has promoted respectable policies with respect to restraining livestock monopolies, his overall record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or factory farms and promoting genetically engineered crops and animal cloning. Equally troubling is Vilsack's support for unsustainable industrial ethanol production, which has already caused global corn and grain prices to skyrocket, literally taking food off the table for a billion people in the developing world." The association has posted a petition to block Vilsack's confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture.
Vilsack is only the latest appointment from Obama that strikes an off-key tone. My sense has been that he wants to build a strong base, bring opposition into the tent, focus on the big issues and succeed in them, then move forward from there. That may well be what he has in mind, but at the same time, the powers that he is cozying up to are entrenched corporate and big money interests, and we the people have to make sure that he gives us as much attention as he gives them.
In terms of his appointments I have tended to withhold judgment because, as he says, he will still be providing the overall leadership and setting the tone of the administration. He has not yet made any policies. He's not the president yet. The most disappointing thing to me so far has been his unwillingness to speak out against the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, the aggression against the people there, weakly justified by some pathetic aggressive acts by the Hamas group. Killing hundreds of innocent people seems to be okay as long as they are certain people, people with no political power and no one to come to their defense. Of course Hamas' launching missiles into Israel is also unacceptable, but it does not justify this heavy-handed response, including the killing of so many defenseless people.
Even though he is not yet in office, it should not be that hard for Obama to speak as an individual citizen in defense of helpless people, to speak against mass destruction and murder no matter who commits it. Obviously Obama is not Martin Luther King, but it would be nice if he adopted some more of the basic decency and humanitarian values of King instead of adopting the calloused acceptance of murder of the political class.
Meanwhile, after a week of air strikes on a people who have no defense, Israel is launching a ground invasion into Gaza. (New York Times) The U.S. stands aside, watching, providing weapons and support, not even protesting against the carnage.
This is the beginning of a new era. We the people have forced a change. It is a biological phenomenon. The Bush era is over, that is one sure thing. The next era is yet to be defined. Obama is as different from Bush as the political spectrum offers. He is a brilliant young man, with broad experience as an African American with immediate family in Kenya, living in the U.S. and Asia. He was a professor of constitutional law. He worked his way up from the bottom. He wrote an excellent memoir (Dreams from My Father) that shows a man of depth and sensitivity practically unheard of in the political sphere in America. He dedicated years of his life to community organizing, turning away from opportunities to make big money in favor of working for the improvement of the lives of poor people. He is not Bush. He is not typical. But what he is, or what kind of presidency he will have, we don't yet know. We the people just have to make as much noise and exert as much pressure on him as he is already getting from the corporatocracy.
With the election of Obama we are really thrust into existential politics. We have collectively taken an existential leap, that is, an action the results of which cannot be reliably foretold. We are making this moment in history.
Anything, no matter how disastrous, brings some good. What good the Bush administration brought is way down at the bottom of a barrel of body parts, but it has the potential to give birth to a great legacy, and that is that Bush got enough people pissed off that it forced people to rediscover the value of participatory democracy, and to realize the fact that it is ultimately the only deterrent to tyranny. We are in place. We have earned ourselves a renaissance, the right to move into more creative realms of human existence. But we have to continue this democratic action and evolve it to new heights. We have to create a vibrant new culture for a free society in the 21st century. It's a job we cannot abdicate.
Zinn's Advice to Obama -- Howard Zinn: Obama, with all of his, well, good will, intelligence, all those qualities that he has, and so on -- and, you know, you feel that he has a certain instinct for people in trouble. But still, you know, he wouldn't come out for a single-payer health system, that is, for what I would call health security, to go along with Social Security, you see, wouldn't come out for that; wouldn't come out for the government creating jobs for millions of people, because that's what really is needed now. You see, when people are -- the newspapers this morning report highest unemployment in decades, right? The government needs to create jobs. Private enterprise is not going to create jobs. Private enterprise fails, the so-called free market system fails, fails again and again.... So what stands in the way of Obama and the Democratic Party, and what stands in the way of them really going all out for a social and economic program that will fulfill the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Well, I can think of two things that stand in the way. Maybe there are more, but I can only think of two things at a time. And, well, one of them is simply the great, powerful economic interests that don't want real economic change. Really, they don't. The powerful -- I mean, you take in healthcare, there are powerful interests involved in the present healthcare system. People are making lots of money from the healthcare system as it is, making so much money, and that's why the costs of the healthcare system in the United States are double what the healthcare costs are -- the percentage, you know, of money devoted to healthcare -- percentage is double, administrative costs in the United States, compared to countries that have the single-payer system, because there are people there who are siphoning off this money, who are making money.... And Obama so far has not challenged those economic interests. Roosevelt did challenge those economic interests, boldly, right frontally. He called them economic royalists.... I'm giving advice to Obama. I know he's listening. But, you know, if enough people speak up, he will listen, right? If enough people speak up, he will listen. You know, there's much more of a chance of him listening, right, than those other people. They're not listening. They wouldn't listen. Obama could possibly listen, if we, all of us -- and the thing to say is, we have to change our whole attitude as a nation towards war, militarism, violence. democracynow.org
Stop the Attacks on Civilians -- The Jewish Voice for Peace posted this statement:
Jewish Voice for Peace joins millions around the world, including the 1,000 Israelis who protested in the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend, in condemning ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza. We call for an immediate end to attacks on all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli.
Israel's slow strangulation of Gaza through blockade has caused widespread suffering to the 1.5 million people of Gaza due to lack of food, electricity, water treatment supplies and medical equipment. It is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world.
In resisting this strangulation, Hamas resumed launching rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel, directly targeting civilians, which is also a war crime. Over the years, these poorly made rockets have been responsible for the deaths of 15 Israelis since 2004.
Every country, Israel included, has the right and obligation to protect its citizens. The recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza shows that diplomatic agreements are the best protection for civilian life.
Moreover, massive Israeli air strikes have proven an indiscriminate and brutal weapon. In just two days, the known death toll is close to 300, and the attacks are continuing. By targeting the infrastructure of a poor and densely populated area, Israel has ensured widespread civilian casualties among this already suffering and vulnerable population.
This massive destruction of Palestinian life will not protect the citizens of Israel. It is illegal and immoral and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And it threatens to ignite the West Bank and add flames to the other fires burning in the Middle East and beyond for years to come.
The timing of this attack, during the waning days of a US administration that has undertaken a catastrophic policy toward the Middle East and during the run-up to an Israeli election, suggests an opportunistic agenda for short-term political gain at an immense cost in Palestinian lives. In the long run this policy will benefit no-one except those who always profit from war and exploitation. Only a just and lasting peace, achieved through a negotiated agreement, can provide both Palestinians and Israelis the security they want and deserve.
Recipe for Endless War -- Rabbi Michael Lerner writes that "Israel's attempt to wipe out Hamas is understandable, but dumb. No country in the world is going to ignore the provocation of rockets being launched from a neighboring territory day after day. If Mexico had a group of anti-imperialist South Americans bombing Texas, imagine how long it would take for the United States to mobilize a counterattack. Israel has every right to respond. But the kind of response matters. Massive bombings of the sort that have thus far killed over 400 Palestinians and wounded 1,000 other civilians is a classic example of a disproportionate response." RD Pulpit Dis-imperializing the Presidency -- Obama criticized Bush's attempts to consolidate power in the executive branch. Now that he is taking that seat, will he still see things the same way? Will he willingly give up some of the power that Bush amassed? Christian Science Monitor Cheney's Wormy Legacy -- Evil Dick, the dark force of the universe incarnate, leaves office in disgrace, though he doesn't seem to know or care. According to Robert Sheer, "The Bush administration, with Cheney in the lead, did not so much fight the danger of terrorism as exploit it for partisan political purpose. The record is quite clear that the administration was asleep at the switch before 9/11, blithely ignoring stark warnings of an impending attack. But the hoary warmongering after 9/11 afforded a convenient distraction from the economic problems at home. As I asked in a column on June 26, 2002: 'Has the war on terrorism become the modern equivalent of the Roman circus, drawing the people's attention away from the failures of those who rule them? Corporate America is a shambles because deregulation, the mantra of our president and his party, has proved to be a license to steal. That is the true legacy of Dick Cheney and the president he ill-served.'" The Nation Bring 'em Home -- Congress' authorization of war in Iraq expired January 1. alternet.org Let Us Never Tolerate Outrageous Conspiracy Theories -- says George Walker Bush. youtube.com Lame Duck -- How Bush responded when told "the country is under attack." youtube.com Horror -- Here's the view you thought you'd never see, a security camera view at the WTC on 9/11 showing the first plane hitting the tower from inside the tower. youtube
January 6, 2009No Justification -- Linda Milazzo, writing on the butchery of Gaza at opednews.com: "I do not condone ANY circumstance that ends the life of a child or brings harm to innocents downed in the cross hairs of adult perversion. There is NO circumstance whatsoever that legitimizes the murder of children. The term 'collateral damage' ascribed to dead children or to the shredded bodies of living children is hideous." And there is no excuse for Obama's silence.
Oh God, No! George Herbert Walker Bush wants his other son -- Jeb -- to be president. He told the Associated Press that "right now is probably a bad time, because we've had enough Bushes in there." Really? You think? You think the country isn't in bad enough shape, maybe another Bush could take it down a few more notches, load a few more billion into the coffers of your friends? Please spare us. ( crooksandliars.com)
January 8, 2009Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
The Gaza Massacre Continues
Rachel Maddow interviewed a reporter from near Gaza yesterday on her MSNBC news show and explained that the reporter is not in Gaza because the Israeli government is not allowing journalists in Gaza. They talk about "fighting" and how the government doesn't want journalists in because they don't want to give away their "battle plans". But these words are entirely inappropriate. This is not a "battle", it's a massacre of defenseless people. The Palestinians have nothing to fight with. You hear about kids throwing rocks. That's what kind of "battle" this is. The idiots of Hamas are firing dopey little homemade rockets over the border that are barely more significant than the kids throwing rocks. This is not a war, it's what they used to call a turkey shoot, enabled with massive high-tech firepower on one side and nothing but bare flesh on the other. Of course Hamas should not be firing its homemade rockets, but let's get a sense of perspective. This massacre is entirely overblown and the killing of hundreds of inncent people cannot be justified. If one sets aside all humanitarian concerns and cares nothing about killing innocent women and children, then it still has no justification from a purely pragmatic point of view. This raining hellfire down on a population will of course inflame hatred and rally support for Hamas or anyone the victims see as standing up for them. The idea that if we just apply more force we will bend everyone to our will, as practiced by the Israelis for decades, is obviously not achieving anything but to prolong the cycle of violence for ever and ever. The U.S. government could do something, could have some influence because it arms Israel. It provides the killing machines. We as individuals may not know what we can do to stop the killing, but let's at least refrain from calling this a "battle", or "fighting". The lie makes us complicit.
January 8, 2009Some interesting stories too good not to pass on...
Healing America -- According to Consortium News, "In one of the first acts of the 111th Congress, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers proposed legislation to create a blue-ribbon panel of outside experts to probe the 'broad range' of policies pursued by the Bush administration 'under claims of unreviewable war powers,' including torture of detainees and warrantless wiretaps." Bizarre Encounter -- In one of the stranger events of our time, former presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton met with President Bush and President-elect Obama in the Oval Office. How strange would it have been to be in that room with those guys? Five of the biggest egos in the known universe. What a great idea for a reality TV show. AP Bush Secrets Exposed -- The new congress also overturned an executive order of Bush that made it so presidents could keep all their presidential papers as long as they wanted. They overturned it with a veto-proof majority of 333-93. Sorry George and George, gotta give 'em up. Cant' See -- According to the Washington Post, "The military judge overseeing proceedings against five of the men accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks signed an order designed to protect classified information that is so broad it could prevent public scrutiny of the most important trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." One of the few "legal" proceedings of any kind pertaining to 9/11 and the public is being kept out. That incident has no closure for the public and the survivors of lost family members and this act of secrecy just strengthens the sense that the government is hiding something. Many people dismiss "conspiracy theories" that they sum up under the broad category that "the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks." Actually such a generalization is so broad as to have little value, but even as broad as it is, it still does not encompass all the possibilities. What if the imploding of the three buildings of the WTC was the criminal act of the leaseholder. He certainly was one of the main beneficiaries of the crime. The Bush administration's efforts to thwart any investigation surely casts suspicion on Cheney and the Bush mob, but there are many possible scenarios. The public needs a thorough, real investigation not controlled as the last one was by the Bush administration. The jumping off point is the assertion of the 9/11 Commission that is easily demolished by scientific principles, the idea that three steel skyscrapers imploded upon themselves that day (the only time in history) because of some relatively small fires. It's a flaw that cannot be gotten around.
January 9, 2009Futile War -- Jimmy Carter in the Washington Post writes, "I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided."
January 11, 2009Breaking the Silence on Gaza -- Obama defended his relative silence on the attack on Gaza by saying, "The one area where the principle of 'one president at a time' has to hold is when it comes to foreign policy. We cannot have two administrations at the same time simultaneously sending signals in a volatile situation. But what I am doing right now is putting together the team so that on January 20, starting on day one, we have the best possible people who are going to be immediately engaged in the Middle East peace process as a whole, that are going to be engaging with all of the actors there, that will work to create a strategic approach that ensures that both Israelis and Palestinians can meet their aspirations." On ABC's This Week, Obama went beyond the cold acceptance of killing of civilians in Gaza. "When you see civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, harmed, under hardship, it's heartbreaking," he said. "And obviously what that does is it makes me much more determined to try to break a deadlock that has gone on for decades now." CNN
January 15, 2009George Bush, like Sarah Palin, leaves the stage with rancor. His last press conference (see C-Span), his attempt to aggressively take on his unpopularity is to no avail. Bush is Bush and is fixed in time. In his final days as he becomes sentimental, he becomes a caricature, maudlin as he comes down from his throne and shows the only real compassion he ever felt, self pity. The strange Bush mannerisms seem more pronounced now, but now that he has shed his power, he becomes pathetic. He never seemed to care what people thought, now he seems to be pleading for love. His lame attempts to yuk up the press corps, to create a connection, fall flat and they stare back at him coldly.
Exit Far Right
After indulging in a sort of farewell talk, he opens for questions. He gets a question about the $350 billion that is left in the bailout and whether he'll ask for it to be released before Obama becomes president. He's able to maintain his high-flown mood for a while, talking about the incoming president, the meeting of ex-presidents, and then he is asked about the Gaza massacre. Defensive anger flares in his eyes and breaks the mood he tried to engender. He's for a "sustainable cease fire..." and if Hamas doesn't stop firing rockets there won't be a cease fire, he shrugs, looks defiant. "I happen to think the choice is Hamas's to make..." But the innocent Palestinian women and children have no choice to make. They have no say. They have no protection. They must just stand and wait to die, or struggle to preserve life to whatever extent they can. It's all so simple to Bush, as is everything. The choice is Hamas's to make. It's a binary system. Israel, which "has the right to defend itself," and Hamas, who won't stop firing those ridiculous home made rockets. If a thousand Palestinians are killed and thousands injured or maimed, paralyzed, blinded, torn apart, well, that's not George Bush's problem. They elude his logical system, so their fate does not count. George's capacity to pity them is not nearly as great as his sadness over his own loss of the power and the glory of the White House. He shrugs off the question, smirks patronizingly as if the rightness of his position is so obvious as to be beyond question.
Americans learned the hard way not to "misunderestimate" Bush. He may not read. He may have trouble speaking a coherent sentence, really. But he is not stupid. He has a kind of intelligence, a kind of animal intelligence, if you will. He has the cold, calculating mind of a sociopath. But as he loses the trappings of power and is left denuded of all that, it's hard to avoid the fact of his shallowness. As his father acknowledged, his own biggest problem in trying to become an attractive candidate was his inability to deal effectively with "the vision thing." Like Palin, he was so uttely devoid of it that he didn't even have a clue what it was, or how to act like he possessed some quality of inspiration, something that moved him besides his own power.
When George W talks about profound things, he has the ability to make them sound mundane. He skates over the surfaces of everything, stays always on a superficial level. When he talks about the meeting of the ex-presidents he says one thing they all had in common was the experience of assuming the office of the presidency, getting sworn in, going to the inaugural festivities then walking into that Oval Office and ... it's all about the surface machinations, the pomp, the ceremonies, and it seems as though that was as far as he ever got into it. He saw his dad be president and he followed in his footsteps. He affected the mannerisms of a president, as he understood them, which wasn't very much.
He claims to have read about past presidents, but it's hard to believe he did much of that. He seems to fundamentally lack insight or even interest in much of anything beyond his own comfort and simple psychology. At this point he is almost pitiable. Almost. If you forget about the extreme damage he did, the harm be brought to so many people, you could almost feel sorry for someone in his position, so nearly universally despised, or at least written off. But he deserves it and much more. He deserves justice. He deserves to be held accountable for his crimes.
January 16, 2009Shifting Sands -- Al Franken and Norm Coleman, bitter foes in the contested race in Minnesota months after the election, were both invited speakers at a pro-Israel rally in the Twin Cities. Both pledged their support of Israel and even shook hands. (talkingpointsmemo.com) It was one of the few things they ever agreed on. But what does "support of Israel" mean? We hear a lot of people supporting Israel's "right to exist" or "right to defend itself". There are few countries in the world that have to make the point that they have a right to exist. And there are few where the question is actually contested. Obviously there are territorial issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians who were driven out when Israel was created as a Jewish state in a land where non-Jews were living. But in the present situation it is not the question of Israel's right to exist or to defend itself that is being contested by most of the civilized world. The question at this juncture is not whether Israel has a right to exist or to defend itself, but whether it has the right to launch a massive assault using a strong military against a defenseless population and kill and injure thousands of people, most of whom are nothing more than innocent bystanders. This is the question that is before us. We are past the point when anyone can justify killing hundreds of civilians. Hardly anyone imagines that this will accomplish anything. Whatever solutions may be found for this area will be found in spite of all this carnage, not because of it.
The behavior of the Israeli government has gone beyond a point where it is possible to support it just on the basis that it is a Jewish state. The point should be in the 21st century that some behavior is not acceptable, regardless of the race, religion or nationality of the person doing it. It should not be: I support them because they are Jewish. It should be: I do not support murder of masses of defenseless people regardless of who is doing it. For those who consider opposition to the militaristic actions of the Israeli government equivalent to antisemitism, it must be remembered that a rising number of Jews both in Israel and around the world are not inagreement with this murderousness. The times they are a-changin'.
Backlash -- The war on Gaza is pushing more young Jews to the left. nationalpost.com Change of Mind -- The assault on Gaza has led Israeli Avi Shlaim to devastating conclusions. guardian.co Generational Shift -- A new wave of progressive Jewish activists is challenging AIPAC dominance. alternet.org. Sea Change -- Unprecedented Numbers of Americans Question Israel's Actions in Gaza. alternet.org
January 20, 2009Hi ho the derrio, swing it high, swing it low, let them know the wicked witch is dead! Amazing. An amazing moment to behold. An extraordinary gathering and focus of human energy on a stunning moment in history.
January 21, 2009Day One -- I have plenty of people to remind me of all sorts of horrible things that are going on, of how short Obama will fall from the ideal, of how the corporate ruling class remains in place and shows little sign of loosening its deadly grip. But I am going to allow myself to enjoy the great relief of seeing Bush and Cheney go. Obama starts from the status quo. We are in the status quo and it will not become a utopia. There will be many many more battles to fight. But what a relief! What a joy!
January 24, 2009To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute -- According to Scott Harper in Harper's, "Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteurresponsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bush's head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bush's torture practices." As one commentator put it, if this was a bank robbery, we'd sound insane talking about whether or not to investigate or prosecute. The law is the law. Torture is against international law and by international treaty, against U.S. law. They did it. They admitted it. Now what?
Losing the Cold Feet -- Some prominent Democrats are moving toward the inevitable conclusion that the issue of torture is not something that can be avoided. See Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com: "Democrats Inch Toward Torture Probe". Let's Get Serious -- William Rivers Pitt, leads a return to reality. There are some fundamental realities that have not changed and should be confronted: corporate personhood, money as "free speech" and the establishment of a permanent wartime economy. truthout.org What's He Up To -- An Obama Diary by BBC. They Play for Blood -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: "If Obama as president of the United States does not obey the orders of the empire, they will kill him, like they killed Kennedy, like they killed Martin Luther King, or Lincoln, who freed the blacks and paid with his life." According to Reuters.com, "Until recently, Chavez had said he hoped relations with Washington could improve. But in the last few days, he has picked up on comments he attributes to Obama accusing him of obstructing progress in Latin America and exporting terrorism."
January 25, 2009The Big Bad Power Structure wasted not a moment showing the world that even though the US has a new president, it is still as bad and nasty as ever and don't mess with us because we will still wipe you out. The US is launching missile strikes inside Pakistan. (See Al Jazeera.) Don't get any ideas, says the shadow government. Don't expect things to change too much. Not even a week can go by after Obama's election before the government is already launching attacks in other people's countries, showing that it respects no borders, no sovereignty, nothing whatever when its "interests" are concerned. While the inauguration is still the lead story on Entertainment Tonight, and the announcers are gushing about Michelle's great gown, the US is attacking inside Pakistan over the objections of the government. Why are we bombing in Pakistan? Oh yeah, because Al Qaeda allegedly was chased out a few years ago. So then why are we still at war in Afghanistan? And why does Obama say he wants to send more troops there? What is the objective. They like to get us conditioned to accept military action without ever having a clear explanation what the objectives are.
The Pentagon's New Media War -- According to a BBC report, "As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer. From influencing public opinion through new media to designing 'computer network attack' weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war."
January 28, 2009What Now Karl? Karl Rove, who has defied congressional subpoenas while Bush was president, is now being called back to the table by Rep. John Conyers. Karl's modus operandi may have run dry. Welcome to the post-Rovian world. See Scott Horton at Harper's, consortiumnews.com, Huffington Post.
Obama administration officials called Citi Bank and suggested the can a plan to invest $45 million in a corporate jet after getting $50 billion in taxpayer money.Huffington Post
January 30, 2009White Collar Welfare Bums -- Obama called bankers "shameful" for giving themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses while they were getting taxpayer bailouts after their companies failed. (See New York Times, Financial Times) At least he is calling this stuff, naming it, decrying it, unlike his predecessor who helped the white collar criminals pull their heists, then winked and smirked at them to show he encouraged them.
Build, Don't Destroy -- CodePink is leading an e-mail campaign to remind Obama that "your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy," and to therefore emphasize diplomacy over sending military drones into countries to kill people. See salsa.democracyinaction.org. Dying Like Flies -- According to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com, "For months on end, marked by bankruptcies, foreclosures, evictions, and layoffs, the economic meltdown has taken a heavy toll on Americans. In response, a range of extreme acts including suicide, self-inflicted injury, murder, and arson have hit the local news. By October 2008, an analysis of press reports nationwide indicated that an epidemic of tragedies spurred by the financial crisis had already spread from Pasadena, California, to Taunton, Massachusetts, from Roseville, Minnesota, to Ocala, Florida. In the three months since, the pain has been migrating upwards. A growing number of the world's rich have garnered headlines for high profile, financially-motivated suicides." See alternet.org. A Change in the Wind -- The new U.S. envoy to the United Nations said that Israel must investigate allegations that its army violated international law during its three-week war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. reuters.com Bow Down to King Rush -- Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia apologized to fat, felonious drug addict bigmouth Rush Limbaugh on his program for telling Politico.com the day before that "it's easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks," referring to their criticizing Republicans for not challenging the stimulus package. (sfgate.com). Then Obama told Republicans, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." SF Gate called Obama's "first tactical error" because it "elevated a talk show host to his level - the leader of the free world." Hard to see the logic of that, but in any case, now Phil Bronstein at SF Gate says that maybe Obama's move was actually a deft political stroke. Strike That -- Jane Mayer at The New Yorker looks at Obama's first wave of executive orders, nullifying some of the most nauseating actions of the Bush period. "Obama's bold legal moves were the result of a 'painstaking' process that started in Iowa, before the first Presidential caucus. It was there that Obama met with a handful of former high-ranking military officers who opposed the Bush Administration's legalization of abusive interrogations. Sickened by the photographs from Abu Ghraib and disheartened by what they regarded as the illegal and dangerous degradation of military standards, the officers had formed an unlikely alliance with the legal-advocacy group Human Rights First, and had begun lobbying the candidates of both parties to close the loopholes that Bush had opened for torture."
-- David Cogswell