Top officials from the Bush administration have hit upon a revealing new theme as they retrospectively justify their national security policies. Call it the White House 9/11 trauma defense.
"I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities," Cheney said in his recent speech. But this defense does not stand up. The Bush administration's response actually undermined the principles and values America has always stood for in the world, values that should have survived this traumatic event. The White House thought that 9/11 changed everything. It may have changed many things, but it did not change the Constitution, which the vice president, the national security adviser and all of us who were in the White House that tragic day had pledged to protect and preserve.
Richard A. Clarke, the national coordinator for security and counterterrorism under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, is the author of "Against All Enemies" and "Your Government Failed You."
Sunday, May 31, 2009
After a long day of campaigning on July 8, candidate Barack Obama arrived at his Chicago headquarters for a three-hour brainstorming session about a suddenly hot issue: energy and climate change.Barack Obama
On May 5, as House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) was trying to cement support for the cap-and-trade bill, Obama invited 35 lawmakers to the White House. He said that it was a difficult issue but that dealing with difficult issues was the reason they were there. As the lawmakers were getting ready to leave, Obama said, "We have to do something more than symbolic here."
"It was a personal appeal," said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), who attended the meeting. "He's demonstrated . . . he's willing to put it on the line to get a bill done. You don't do heavy lifting like this without having a president who's willing to put it on the line."
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The two Senate Democrats leading the drive to overhaul health care say they will work together to come up with legislation.
Sens. Max Baucus and Edward Kennedy said in a joint statement Saturday they intend to cooperate so their committees pass similar bills that can be combined into a single piece of legislation before the Senate leaves for its August recess.
The statement appeared aimed at dispelling reports that Baucus and Kennedy were working at cross purposes in crafting legislation.
Baucus, D-Mont., heads the Finance Committee. Kennedy, D-Mass., is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Kennedy is expected to release a plan next week requiring all individuals to buy insurance and creating a a public insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
Finally, I'm happy to present the video to my tribute to Seattle, "Home". The song features MC's Vitamin D, Note, Maneak B and Ish, who have all been big influences in my music. Sir Mix a Lot brought out his orange Lambo and Nate Burleson repped the town and the Seahawks as well. Super Director Zia did a phemomenal job creating the perfect visual for the music and now its time for the world to see it.
Charles M. Blow (NY Times op-ed):
Someone pinch me. I must be dreaming. Some of the same Republicans who have wielded the hot blade of racial divisiveness for years, are now calling Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, a racist. Oh, the hypocrisy!
Until someone can produce proof of words and actions on the part of Sotomayor that even approach the scale of Rehnquist’s and Roberts’s, all I see is men throwing skeleton bones from class closets.
President Obama traveled to a Five Guys Burgers & Fries restaurant in Washington, DC and purchased lunch for himself and members of the press.Howie P.S.: It's amusing to watch Obama personally order a rather large burger assortment for his party complete with all the individual and various condiments. All the male members of his entourage leave their suit jackets on, while Obama is in shirtsleeves.
Des Moines Register:
Howard Dean was stumping again in Iowa on Thursday, but this time the former presidential candidate was campaigning for public health insurance.
Dean said Democrats controlling Congress should not compromise too much in trying to pick up Republican support for health reform.
"Look, we want to work with people who want to work with us," he said. "But there are a lot of people who don't."
Friday, May 29, 2009
Yet Carter and Gore served up vegan fare compared to the red meat Cheney is spewing. And yet because his de facto presidency was never fully recognized or admitted by the media—many of whose members felt the need to prop up President Bush no less urgently than did the White House Communications staff—his unprecedented assault on a sitting president just weeks into his first term goes unrecognized for the breach of protocol it clearly is.
Jane Mayer recognized this during the Bush presidency, explaining in a New Yorker profile of his aide, David Addington, that “the media focuses relentless attention on the president, on the premise that he is actually the chief executive. But for all intents and purposes, Cheney is chief, and Bush is more in the ceremonial role of the queen of England.”-from the post by Eric Alterman and Danielle Ivory on americanprogress.org.
Howie P.S.: Howard Fineman talks with Olbermann about the GOP's "Shadow RNC" and the effort to derail the Sotomayor nomination.
Greg Sargent: with video from Rachel Maddow (03:06):
There’s some important news about Dick Cheney and torture in a speech that Senator Carl Levin gave before the Foreign Policy Association this week.Howie P.S.: How many more of Cheney's fucking lies will need refuting before he drinks his final cup of STFU?
Specifically: Levin confirmed that he’d seen the classified CIA documents that Cheney has been asking the CIA to declassify and release — and said that they don’t prove Cheney’s claim that torture worked by any stretch.Networks such as MSNBC have given literally hours of airtime to Cheney and his daughter Liz to claim endlessly that these docs will prove Cheney’s torture assertions. These claims have gone almost entirely unchallenged, due to the classified nature of the documents. You’d think that a contrary claim from a well-respected Senator who has also seen the docs would merit a few passing mentions, too.
Salvador Castillo, head of Local 1488 of the Washington Federation of State Employees, holds the megaphone during a rally against budget cuts and custodial swing shift eliminations at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash.
Protesters hold signs in Red Square during a rally against budget cuts and custodial swing shift eliminations at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash.
Protesters walk down 15th Avenue Northeast during a rally against budget cuts and custodial swing shift eliminations at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash.
Salvador Castillo holds the megaphone during a rally against budget cuts and custodial swing shift eliminations at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash.
Howie P.S.: These photos by Clifford DesPeaux are not accompanied by a news story.
With this week's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court and a debate swirling around the relevance of her background to the bench, United State District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez figured he might get a few calls from local media.
Martinez is the Northwest's first Hispanic federal judge and the first Latino district judge in Washington state's history.
And yes, he said. That matters.
Martinez said he looks forward to a lively confirmation hearing.
"This partisan bickering -- I hope that that is kept to a minimum and you really are looking at the qualifications of the individual," he said.
"Ultimately all we want is someone who is going to make this country better."
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Via Glenn Greenwald (and one of his readers) comes a moment from Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings that will either silence Sonia Sotomayor’s conservative critics or expose their hypocrisy for what it is.
In an exchange with Sen. Tom Coburn, who had asked Alito to discuss how his personal experiences shows that "he cared for the little guy," Alito said that his family’s experience as immigrants influenced his outlook on immigration cases.
And that’s why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position…
When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.
So when Sam Alito said his family’s immigrant experience influenced his outlook, it was okay, but now that Sonia Sotomayor (who, like Alito, is an appeleta judge) has been nominated to the Supreme Court, she’s a "racist?"
Puhlease. The real issue for these guys isn’t what she said. They’re just pissed off about who said it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Here's an exchange from the segment (H/t to mcjoan):
MADDOW: She's the first Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court. It's a huge deal for the country, a huge deal for Latinas and Latinos. It's a huge deal of Puerto Rico. And, yet, we are sort of looking for the racial overtones in the criticism thus far. Do you think it's fair to look into the sort of anonymous sniping about her intellect and her temperament through a racial lens or would that criticism mean the same thing regardless of her race?
ROBINSON: I think that criticism is just bizarre, given her record. It is odd to hear commentary to the effect that her opinions are undistinguished or we're not quite sure she's up to the job or you know, in the few cases, flat out saying that this is an affirmative action hire. I mean, these are among the most sterling credentials for any nominee to the Supreme Court that I can recall and the most kind of establishment credentials. It kind of doesn't get any better than this.... It is a weird sort of route of attack given who she is and what she's done. So can you look at that through a racial prism? You know, I think if it continues I think you probably have to.
Media Channel,video (58:00):
Jane Hamsher, Lynn Paltrow and Jose Perez on the Sotomayor selection. Then will Obama's "common sense" credit card reforms change much of anything? Danny Schechter, Jose Garcia, Anne Sullivan and Jonathan Shamis discuss the new legislation. Finally, Jane Hamsher on efforts to audit the Fed.
Bill Clinton tried to create a Third Way. President Obama is doing it. This is exciting, but also disconcerting.Barack Obama
The establishment Obama is trying to build would make the country better -- more equal, more just and more conscious of the government's constitutional obligations. The far right is being isolated, and Republicans are simply lost.
But establishments have a habit of becoming too confident in their ability to manipulate people and events, and too certain of their own moral righteousness. Obama's political and substantive gifts are undeniable. What he needs to realize are the limits of his own mastery.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
bravenewfilms, with video (03:37):
Dick Cheney says that torturing detainees has saved American lives. That claim is patently false. Cheney's torture policy was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of American servicemen and women.
Matthew Alexander was the senior military interrogator for the task force that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq and, at the time, a higher priority target than Osama bin Laden. Mr. Alexander has personally conducted hundreds of interrogations and supervised over a thousand of them.
"Torture does not save lives. Torture costs us lives," Mr. Alexander said in an exclusive interview at Brave New Studios. "And the reason why is that our enemies use it, number one, as a recruiting tool...These same foreign fighters who came to Iraq to fight because of torture and abuse....literally cost us hundreds if not thousands of American lives."
Howie P.S.: Sam Stein covers "Where Policy Is Made: Sotomayor's Court Comment Explained" with video (00:35).
President Barack Obama announces federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor, right, as his nominee for the Supreme Court, Tuesday, May 26, 2009, in an East Room ceremony at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais )Howie P.S.: Jason Linkins tells us "How The Media Will Smear Sotomayor" while Sen. Patrick Leahy comments "On the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor."
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama named federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor as the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice on Tuesday, praising her as "an inspiring woman" with both the intellect and compassion to interpret the Constitution wisely.
Obama noted that Sotomayor would replace Souter as the only trial judge on the high court.
Cenk Uygur, with audio (17:21):
We interviewed Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, on The Young Turks and he had some very interesting things to say. Including:
"Cheney was co-president. I'd go further than that and say that for national security issues and other critical issues Cheney was the President."
"I found the incredible arrogance and lack of humility of the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to be stunning almost right off the bat."
Referring to the decision to abuse detainees:
"I don't think there's any question it goes to Cheney. I'm increasingly of a mind that a lot of it goes to Cheney and stops there. Not just because of the president's disinclination to do detail, but I also think that Cheney kept some things from the president.
Lawrence Wilkerson: They should have what I would call reference authority. In other words, they should be able to turn it over to the appropriate authorities for prosecution, and a recommendation should be rendered with that if they believe laws were broken and they believe the proper authorities ought to take action.
Cenk Uygur: Dick Cheney seems to have an equivocal answer on Face the Nation when asked, "Did the president know about this abuse?" and he said, "Well I think he should have known" or something along those lines. Is there some chance that Dick Cheney just flat out gave the orders and didn't tell the president?
Lawrence Wilkerson: Absolutely! In my mind I have no problem believing that. I have no problem at all believing that.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Politicizing national security is something everyone is supposed to be against. Naturally, it's impossible to avoid politicizing policies that you oppose and want to change, but no one really thinks it is in our interests to keep Guantanamo Bay's prison open. The Republicans know we have to close it, and they know that the president (and John McCain) campaigned on closing it. But, they don't care because they have polling data. I don't care where you put them. Just put them somewhere and be done with it. And stop letting the Republicans push you around. People ultimately respect leaders that get them to overcome their fear and accomplish something. I don't think a lot of soldiers appreciated serving in Patton's Third Army at the time. But they wore that distinction as a badge of honor for the rest of their lives because of what they managed to accomplish.Howie P.S.: Colin Powell said pretty much the same thing in his own way this morning on "Face the Nation," video (03:10).
It's time to man-up. Failure to do so will lead people, including me, to believe there is something fundamentally cowardly about the Democratic Party. The Republicans, remember, are only pretending to be afraid.
He was for so long the invisible man. Hunkering down in an undisclosed location, poring over the bureaucratic details that made him a master of manipulating the American ship of state, appearing only for military speeches or conservative fundraisers, the former vice-president Dick Cheney loved the shade.Howie P.S.: I don't like to give Cheney more attention than absolutely necessary but I missed this last week during my health care "vacation."
The only person who could really do that is Bush. And he is as silent as he is absent. Telling, don’t you think? And, from Cheney's point of view, ominous.
IF YOU CAN'T IMAGINE how President Obama intends to win the war in Afghanistan, you're not alone. The challenge is daunting: Along with a handful of war-plagued African states—Somalia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo—Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries. It's been racked by 30 years of war. Millions have fled into Pakistan and Iran; tens of thousands more have been killed since the US-backed jihad in the 1980s. "The reason we don't have moderate leaders in Afghanistan today is because we let the nuts kill them all," Cheryl Benard, Rand Corporation specialist and wife of former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, told me in 2004, during an interview for a book on political Islam.Howie P.S.: This article lays out the policy landscape in Afghanistan as clearly and concisely as I have seen. If it's done right—if America maintains a light footprint, if tribal leaders see improvements in security (as well as cold, hard cash), and if Afghanistan's meddling neighbors can be persuaded to help stabilize the country—then the loyalties of the Pashtun tribes may turn. If that happens, Jones says hopefully, "They can tip pretty quickly." Of course, if the surge causes more civilian deaths and further inflames anger at the United States, they could just as easily tip the other way. Therein lies the great risk of Obama's gamble.
The Senate voted last night by an 86-3 margin to approve a $91.3 billion spending bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The bill will now go to House-Senate negotiations, with an expected final passage some time in June. The three dissenters came from the left and right: Progressive Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, independent socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- and conservative Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.Howie P.S. I'm a day late with this post (the vote was on Friday), but yesterday was mostly taken up with moving my HQ back home from my undisclosed health care location.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The Obama administration's efforts to craft what it calls a "preventive detention" plan for suspected terrorists will face constitutional challenges similar to those raised against the Bush administration's policies.
On Wednesday, the president discussed outlines of such a plan with representatives of civil liberties and human rights groups at a meeting in the White House. These groups, including the ACLU, led the legal assault that won important court-ordered curbs on the legal underpinnings of the Bush administration's national security policy. They promise to the same to Mr. Obama's.
Friday, May 22, 2009
We are now living through the first reality-show presidency.Barack Obama
numbers would not be possible, obviously, unless people already backed Obama’s leadership and agenda. For Americans who don’t follow every policy address, however, the scenes of puppies and sports and gardening cast Obama in a positive quotidian light. After all, depressing news makes people want to change the channel. And that may be one more reason the media are working with the White House to change the news.