January 12, 2009 archive

Obama Improving Stimulus based on Progressive Feedback

I wrote about progressive criticism of the stimulus plan last week:

Sen. Harkin: Obama’s Plan looks like “trickle-down”; Summers: “Message Heard, Loud and Clear”  (also, an earlier version on docudharma: https://www.docudharma.com/show…

The message was heard and is being acted on.  Barack Obama and his administration-to-be has been listening to Democrats and now is revising the stimulus plan.

Emerging from a two-hour meeting in the Capitol with Obama advisers Lawrence Summers and Jason Furman, Senate Democrats praised the President-elect’s team for agreeing to make changes to its stimulus proposal based off of concerns senators raised last week at a meeting with the president-elect’s senior aides.

Politico: Big changes to Obama stimulus plan

More, after the fold

Four at Four

  1. The Miami Herald reports President-elect Barack Obama says early closing of prison camp unlikely. Yesterday “marked seven years to the day that the first 20 detainees” from Afghanistan were transfered to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Worldwide, protestors “donned trademark orange jumpsuits to condemn the prison camps” and held signs: “Obama: Keep Your Promise. Close Guantánamo”.

    Meanwhile, Obama was interviewed on “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” and said Closing Guantánamo Bay is more difficult than people realize. Obama indicated it would not be closing within the first 100 days of his administration.

    “I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do,” he said. “But I don’t want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution.

    Here’s how the Center for Constitution Rights says how to go about Closing Guantánamo and restoring the rule of law. “The three simple steps are: 1) send those can go home home, 2) secure safe haven for those who cannot, and 3) charge those who can be charged and try them in ordinary federal criminal court.” So what’s Obama’s problem?

    The NY Times reports Obama is reluctant to look into Bush programs like domestic spying and the use of torture. Obama said there should be prosecutions if “somebody has blatantly broken the law”, he believes “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

    This is the relevant part of the interview: Obama leaves the door open (a bit) on prosecuting Bush officials.

    Stephanopoulos asked Obama about Dick Cheney’s view of “extraordinaty” interrogation methods, to which Obama answered “Waterboarding is torture“.

    “Vice President Cheney I think continues to defend what he calls extraordinary measures or procedures and from my view waterboarding is torture. I have said that under my administration we will not torture,” Obama said.

    Since he believes that, how can Obama morally not investigate the Bush administration?

Four at Four continues with Afghanistan != Iraq, U.S. port security, and a walking fish house.

VVA, et al vs CIA, et al – Edgewood Testvets

Morrison & Foerster Files Suit Against CIA, DoD, and U.S. Army on Behalf of Troops Exposed to Testing of Chemical and Biological Weapons at Edgewood Arsenal and Other Top Secret Sites

Press Release: 01/07/2009

What: Complaint Filed-Vietnam Veterans of America, et al. v. CIA, et al.

Where: United States District Court, Northern District of California

Politics vs. Justice: An American Absurdity


Bush: I Personally Authorized Torture Of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed»

In an interview with Brit Hume that aired today on Fox News Sunday, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said he personally asked “what tools” were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:

   BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.


The President admits torture, a war crime, on national TV.

In a rational country, he would be charged. But America is no longer a rational country. It is a country where rational people are held hostage by the political culture created by the Republicans and their torturing President. It is a country where politics is more important than the Rule of Law.

ONLY politics is preventing justice from being done.

And lest you buy his bullshit…

….the torture of Abu Zubayda and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed provided next to zero useful intelligence, as a recent Vanity Fair article revealed:

  But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”

In fact, the article explained that the “intelligence” gleaned from Zubayda was false information about non-existent links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein – information the Bush administration seized on as a major part of its argument for the Iraq war, as a former Pentagon analyst explained:

   “The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.” […]

   “The White House knew he’d been tortured. I didn’t, though I was supposed to be evaluating that intelligence. … It seems to me they were using torture to achieve a political objective.”


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

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

So have you heard about Soaplox recently?

Thought you might like the most recent update from Open Left (who are co-ordinating).

You Are Saving Soapblox!

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 18:41

The efforts of the netroots over the last six years have been a remarkable testament to what a group of dedicated grassroots activists can do. Right now, it is hard not to feel excited, and hopeful for the future. We have the organizing energy. We have the growing numbers. We are making change happen, and turning the country bluer. The remarkable efforts of this community over the past week are just another example. In a time of great need for 100 progressive blogs around the country, you are coming through. Again, thanks to all, and let’s keep it going!

US media campaign promotes military strike on Iran

Original article, by Patrick Martin, via World Socialist Web Site:

Front-page reports in two leading US newspapers Sunday signal a ratcheting up of US pressure on Iran and the preparation of American public opinion for a new round of US military aggression.

Open Thread


$1 Trillion stimulus thread.

Chimera Obama


Not Chimera in the first sense – “a fire-breathing she-monster” – ouch – but the second sense: “an impossible or foolish fantasy.” Double-ouch.

Is the dream of an “Obama” more than reality can bear? Is fundamental and decisive change impossible in a rigid State system riddled with both the desperate bureaucratic mind-set which views change as Al Qaeda and the corruption, cronyism and secrecy meant to combat reform at every turn?

Were we fools to buy Obama’s hope of change?

I Want to go to America!

Welcome to my blog. I’m skankhatergirl. I can’t use my real name but I know my friends at my school who read this will know who that means.

I’m kind of a myspace, facebook junkie, and I love reading American blogs from other kids like me. But really, they haven’t got much to complain about compared to me.

That’s not me, my hair is shorter, but I really like the picture. I hope they are writing “Peace” but the prints too small to tell.

Being a teenager in Israel sucks. Especially when your parents are not what you call mainstream.

In a couple of years, I have to do my military service. It sucks. My parents don’t want me to go either, but a lot of people they work with are very hard line.

I guess, like Americans hate their neo-cons, my parents are really getting sick of the war party leading our country.

Docudharma Times Monday January 12

Joe the Plumber  I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war.

Joe the Plumber Should Be Nowhere Near Journalism

Monday’s Headlines:

Guerrilla Tactics at Oil-Lease Auction

Russia-Ukraine gas deal hit by last-minute hitch

Victory for baroness in art feud

Gaza’s burn victims add to pressure on army over phosphorus

What’s the endgame for Israel and Hamas in Gaza?

Jacob Zuma faces fresh corruption battle in run-up to election

In Congo, signs that rebel group is splitting

China: Lunar New Year without a bribe?

New Thai PM hails election boost

Venezuela deepens trade, military ties with China

‘Soon we’ll have nowhere left to run. Nowhere in Gaza is safe’

Our correspondent and pregnant wife forced to flee Israeli onslaught

By Fares Akram in Gaza city

Monday, 12 January 2009

We’ve left our home. Like 60,000 other Gazans, we’ve taken our belongings and fled. Once again, we’ve become displaced people. Soon, there will be nowhere to run to, since nowhere in Gaza is safe. In the early hours of Saturday, the bombing got louder and closer to our home, and the rattle of machine-gun fire became more intense. The tanks were not far off.

As I lay in the dark, I heard the sound of small-arms fire and voices in the street outside. Since the Israeli offensive began, our city streets have been deserted during the hours of darkness; even the dogs that usually annoy us with their all-night barking have vanished.

Crisis in Gaza Imperils 2-State Plan



Published: January 11, 2009

CAIRO – With every image of the dead in Gaza inflaming people across the Arab world, Egyptian and Jordanian officials are worried that they see a fundamental tenet of the Middle East peace process slipping away: the so-called two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel.

Egypt and Jordan fear that they will be pressed to absorb the Palestinian populations now living beyond their borders. If Israel does not assume responsibility for humanitarian aid in Gaza, for example, pressure could compel Egypt to fill the vacuum; Jordan, in turn, worries that Israel will try to push Palestinians from the West Bank into its territory.



In His Emphasis on Economy, Obama Is Looking to History



Published: January 11, 2009

WASHINGTON – It is still a week before he takes office, yet President-elect Barack Obama is everywhere: on the Sunday talk shows, on radio and YouTube, on Capitol Hill, drawing on the techniques he employed during the campaign and lessons from predecessors as he seeks to shape public attitudes about the economic downturn.

His aides said Mr. Obama had studied the way Franklin D. Roosevelt approached the first 100 days of his presidency, and in particular had seized on the notion of Roosevelt having a “conversation with the American public” to try to prepare it for a difficult time. He has, aides said, even looked at the words Roosevelt used and the tone he struck.

Sunday Funnies

Greenwald, Crooks and Liars, and Firedog Lake

Obama’s allegedly “new” centrism and his ABC interview today

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Sunday Jan. 11, 2009 08:23 EST

Update II: Regarding Obama’s apparent desire to have a new process created where torture-obtained evidence can be used (and/or where the standards of proof are lowered), the U.S. Supreme Court, in the 1935 case of Brown v. Mississippi, addressed the question of whether the U.S. Constitution allowed the State of Mississippi to use a confession obtained by beatings and other forms of coercion to convict African-American defendants of murder (h/t lennonist).  The Court invalidated the convictions because they were secured by coerced confessions and said (emphasis added):

In Fisher v. State, 145 Miss. 116, 134, 110 So. 361, 365, the court said: ‘Coercing the supposed state’s criminals into confessions and using such confessions so coerced from them against them in trials has been the curse of all countries. It was the chief iniquity, the crowning infamy of the Star Chamber, and the Inquisition, and other similar institutions.  The Constitution recognized the evils that lay behind these practices and prohibited them in this country. . . .  The duty of maintaining constitutional rights of a person on trial for his life rises above mere rules of procedure, and wherever the court is clearly satisfied that such violations exist, it will refuse to sanction such violations and will apply the corrective.’

There’s absolutely no good reason for Obama not to close Guantanamo immediately and simply try the detainees in our already-extant courts of law.  That’s how we’ve convicted all sorts of accused terrorists in the past.  The only reason not to do so is a desire to disregard — violate — these long-standing American principles and instead create a new process that allows torture-obtained evidence to be used.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The Lure of the Gold


Shouldn’t entitlement

be an increasing function?

Should not our children

be entitled

to more freedom

liberty, joy

and happiness

than we were?

Shouldn’t their children

if they have any

deserve still more?

Or do you speak

of material things?

Do you look to me

as the reason

you don’t have more?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 14, 2008

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