Bush Protects Bureaucracy, Rumor Patrol and Hell Freezes Over

Bush Administration Moves to Protect Key Appointees

November 2008 Bush Administration Moves to Protect Key Appointees

Between March 1 and Nov. 3, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management, the Bush administration allowed 20 political appointees to become career civil servants. Six political appointees to the Senior Executive Service, the government’s most prestigious and highly paid employees, have received approval to take career jobs at the same level. Fourteen other political, or “Schedule C,” appointees have also been approved to take career jobs. One candidate was turned down by OPM and two were withdrawn by the submitting agency.

The personnel moves come as Bush administration officials are scrambling to cement in place policy and regulatory initiatives that touch on issues such as federal drinking-water standards, air quality at national parks, mountaintop mining and fisheries limits.

A Conservative could rush to embrace the but Bill Clinton did it too defense, but that would be a public confession of yet another occasion where principled Conservatives prove to be as rare as the pygmy tarsier. There is a kicker, so these new career civil servants might want to keep an empty box by their desks,

career SES employees may be reassigned involuntarily within their current commuting area within 15 days, and beyond their commuting area within 60 days, but they retain their lucrative and permanent government posts…

President Obama, while thus far proving to be strangely absent the partisan vindictiveness we’ve had low these last eight years, could have these folks on rat patrol in Kabul or Baghdad.

Rumors Of Appointments. I’m trying to stay away from these, but it does look as though Eric Holder will be our new Attorney General,

“Eric H. Holder Jr., Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration, asserted in a speech to the American Constitution Society (ACS) that the United States must reverse “the disastrous course” set by the Bush administration in the struggle against terrorism by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, declaring without qualification that the U.S. does not torture people, ending the practice of transferring individuals involuntarily to countries that engage in torture and ceasing warrantless domestic surveillance.

“Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror’ have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe,” Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. “For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America’s standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights.””

Which to some extent is reassuring after reading Glenn Greenwald’s post about the possibility that John Brennan might be President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence. Holder does have one huge strike against him, his views on personal possession of marijuana, Eric Holder : Wanted Return of Mandatory Minimums and Tougher Pot Penalties. Obama at one time was for the decriminalization of pot, but changed policy positions during his run for president. Just what the country needs during a severe recession, using taxpayer funds to ramp up the prosecution of millions of pot smokers – small time users rarely see jail time, but its still a drain on judicial resources and can cost people their jobs if they have such an arrest on their record. Hopefully Obama will shift back to a more moderate view on simple possession when it comes time to actually govern.

Twenty years too late, but finally The Don of the Alaska Mob, Ted Stevens is out. Democrat Mark Begich, Not Palin, is the Future of Alaska.

Big Three CEOs Flew Private Jets to Plead for Public Funds

All three CEOs – Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler – exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM’s $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

I’m not pro bailout as much as a government underwritten bankruptcy – but it would not be called the B-word. And only on the condition that the entire cadre of top executives be shipped to exile on the Isle of Alba. I’m not sure what the reasoning was here – the private $36 million dollar jet uses less fuel?  For an interesting and maybe not safe for work take on the automaker crisis, see driftglass, How to save the U.S. Auto Industry

If that blogger American Power reads this he’s going to burst a major artery. Someone should check and see if hell hasn’t frozen over, Republican Kathleen Parker writes,  Giving Up on God

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

[   ]…Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here’s the deal, ‘pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party — and conservatism with it — eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs.

No political party can forcefully eject religion from the public realm. That has its positives and negatives, but Obama said something during an interview that puts religion and the way the Right has played on it or exploited it in perspective,

I don’t’ think it’s wrong. I think that political leaders are subject to all sorts of vetting by the public, and this can be a component of that.

I think that I am disturbed by, let me put it this way: I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God’s mandate.

I think there is this tendency that I don’t think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.

Two Holiday Wallpapers and The Culture Wars Continue

River Holidays wallpaper

Blue Holidays wallpaper

Santa Claus Express, taken from some 19th century holiday art.

A right-wing blogger called American Power in a post entitled Racist Backlash to Obama?, Monday, November 17, 2008 is upset at this post from OpenLeft, Republican Soul-Searching in Five Minutes. American Power says that Matt has over reached, casts his net too wide as it were in condemning all Republicans because of an “infinitesimal fringe of crackpots”. I’m not without some sympathy on that score. It would be better if Matt had not dished out his condemnation in such broad strokes. The Crooks and Liars story Matt was commenting on includes this from the Christian Science Monitor, After Obama’s win, white backlash festers in US

The election of America’s first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections.

[  ]…Though postelection racist incidents haven’t posed any real danger to society or the president-elect, law enforcement is taking note.

“Anytime you start seeing [extremist propaganda] floating around, you have to be concerned,” adds Lt. Gary Thornberry of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. “As far as it being an alarmist situation, I don’t see that yet. From a law enforcement point of view, you have to be careful, because it’s not illegal to have an ideology.”

[  ]…But postelection, at least two white nationalist websites – Stormfront and the Council of Conservative Citizens – report their servers have crashed because of heavy traffic. The League of the South, a secessionist group, says Web hits jumped from 50,000 a month to 300,000 since Nov. 4, and its phones are ringing off the hook.

While AmPo may have a problem with one blog the mainstream media seems to put the news in perspective. There have been a record number of threats and some white supremacists groups are enjoying a surge of interests. On the other hand law enforcement and at least one professor who studies these groups say there is cause for concern, but to be “careful”. There was at least one group of thugs that had a lame scheme to  assassinate Obama, but that was foiled. The bottom line is that AmPo is concerned about the truth, about exaggerations and innuendo. Where was this manufactured outrage when McCain-Palin were accusing President-elect Obama of being a socialists or “paling around” with terrorists or a multitude of other lies. AmPo signs off with this,

The extreme right wing has been repudiated, not just in American politics, but in the mainstream GOP today. It’s pretty pathetic, actually, but if the nihilist left thinks that some infinitesimal fringe of crackpots represents the Republican establishment, maybe the GOP’s road back from the political wilderness won’t be so long in coming after all. (emphasis mine)

Which is ironic since Republican and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich just yesterday let lose with this rabid tirade, Gingrich: “[T]here is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us”

“I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion.”

The rabid Right has the Republican party by the throat and will not let go. Gay Americans getting uppity and demanding they they have the same rights as any other American and that; and by the way, news to many Americans, all gay Americans are atheists according a prominent spokesperson for AmPo’s party of tolerance. But wait, its not completely fair to assume that Newt Gingrich – a paragon of values -and AmPo are joined at the hip. American Power, The Gay War on Religion, November 18, 2008

Sullivan sees himself as some kind of elder statesman of the gay movement, writing from his nasty little perch at the Atlantic, a magazine whose reputation he’s working steadily to destroy.

What he’s good at is taking anecdotal experience and distributing those examples as not only honest truth, but as representative of some kind of hegemonic anti-gay bigotry.

[  ]…No, leftist gay actiivists hope to destroy the moral basis for traditionalists, to enact a civil religion of their own choosing.

Then AmPo turns around and uses antedoctal evidence to refute Sullivan – some of his Mormon students seem quite reasonable and nice. I’m sure they are. That’s not the point. Sullivan said he respects the right of Mormons to practice their faith, he’d like a little return on that respect. Hypocrisy is thy middle name or is it simply the failure to think in the race to the keyboard to prove everyone that doesn’t drink the kool-aid   “hope to destroy the moral basis for traditionalists”, sure, like slaves wanted to be free to destroy the South’s economy and traditional way of life and gay folks are out to destroy religion. Words that will live in minor infamy “The extreme right wing has been repudiated”; no sir they’re just not in power anymore. Does this blogger have a mirror, has he ever heard of the concept of soul searching. Does this blogger realize that if he’s a Protestant of any denomination, according to traditional Catholic doctrine he’s a heretic. That some surveys estimate the U.S. has about 3000 organized religions. That there is an organization of gay Catholics, gay Methodists and even gay Mormons. Its the Right’s usual arrogance, they own God and you can’t be true Christian unless you’re a Republican.

Where’s Big Oil

Exxon, Shell Profit Records Cap an Orgy That Weakened U.S., World Economies, Says Group

ExxonMobil’s $14.8 billion third-quarter profit reports clear up one thing — now consumers know where their money went, said Consumer Watchdog. Exxon’s mind-boggling profit is again the highest quarterly profit ever reported by a private company, dwarfing even Shell’s record $8.45 billion, also reported today.

It looks like Big Oil could step up with a few billion to help out the industry that has been responsible for so much of their profits.

The Last Lighthouse wallpaper

Last Lighthouse wallpaper

H/T to the Sideshow for this article, Conflicts of interest in Bush v. Gore: Did some justices vote illegally?

If the media reports concerning Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices O’Connor, Scalia and Thomas are factually accurate, one would wonder whether statutory and constitutional recusal requirements were violated by one or more justices who formed the 5-to-4 majority in Bush v. Gore. This article explores the extent to which that might have happened. Part I examines the statutory and constitutional background of the judicial conflict-of-interest requirements governing federal judges. The heart of the article inquires into whether these requirements might have been violated by Justice Thomas (Part II), Chief Justice Rehnquist (Part III), Justice Scalia (Part IV), or Justice O’Connor (Part V). Part VI examines the extent to which conclusions reached earlier in the article might be affected by the quorum requirement in the Supreme Court, by the common law rule of necessity, by the principles of harmless error applicable to recusal issues, by waiver, or by timeliness requirements.

The Sideshow would like to see some justice, as it were for the Court’s actions in Bush v. Gore. Rehnquist and O’Connor are gone. Would it be nice to see Scalia and Thomas impeached for not recusing themselves for participation in the Bush v. Gore decision. Sure, but it will not happen. While there have been several justices that Congress has tried to impeach, only Samuel Chase in 1805 was successfully impeached and he was not removed from the court after his Senate trial. The House would have to start such proceedings and at this late date seems unlikely.  Justice Scalia had two sons with close ties to the Bush 2000 campaign, that is twice the reason needed to rescue oneself from the recount case.

Sarah’s Wisdom

The Moose Stops Here

Not that McCain was innocent in these exclusionary escapades. He strenuously sought the endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, even though Hagee had blamed gays for Hurricane Katrina, referred to the Roman Catholic Church as “the great whore,” and theorized that Hitler came about because God’s “top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.”

[  ]…At the risk of being so reviled, let me point out that in the marathon of Palin interviews last week, the single most revealing exchange had nothing to do with her wardrobe or the “jerks” (as she called them) around McCain. It came instead when Wolf Blitzer of CNN asked for some substance by inviting her to suggest “one or two ideas” that Republicans might have to offer. “Well, a lot of Republican governors have really good ideas for our nation,” she responded, without specifying anything except that “it’s all about free enterprise and respecting equality.”

I rememeber reading so many posts by right-wing sites early in the election cycle – much it concern trolling where they tried to sell the casual passerby on Senator Clinton being the better choice for Democrats etc and so forth, and by the way Senator Obama, former Harvard law Review editor and professor of Constitutional law – was gasp, just an empty suit. These same sites and their pundits just love Palin, a poster child for The Empty Suit Institute of Great Insights.

Why has U.S. allowed Taliban ‘free rein’ in Pakistan? – the short answer is that the neocon’s national security expertise is just as bad as their management of the federal budget. Enter Barack Obama to clean up the mess left by the amateurs.

Epidemiologist Les Roberts knew his tally if Iraq’s civialian dead would generate debate

But other recent findings suggest that Roberts and Burnham were on the right track. In the summer of 2006, the World Health Organization conducted a large family health survey along with Iraq’s Ministry of Health, interviewing about five times as many people as Roberts and Burnham had, and in a more distributed fashion. In August, Mohamed Ali, a who statistician, reported his preliminary results to colleagues at a Denver statistics conference: Nearly 397,000 Iraqis had died because of the war as of July 2006.

That number falls at the low end of Roberts and Burnham’s confidence interval, which ranges from roughly 393,000 to 943,000. But while epidemiologists and statisticians are still pondering questions raised by differences between the two surveys, there’s no longer much doubt among them that Iraq’s civilian casualties number in the hundreds of thousands.

Roberts and Burnham used the same statistical methods for Kosovo and Iraq. The Bush administartion and their tail wagging supporters said the Iraq numbers were suspicious. Odd since Bush praised Roberts and Burnham stats for Kosovo. “The death of one man is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.” Stalin, comment to Churchill at Potsdam, 1945.

Republicans Uncover Nefarious Plot by Unions

Republicans discover secret union plot

With 3 million jobs at stake Republicans are on the case. They and some Libertarians have discovered the culprit,

“The financial straits that the Big Three find themselves is not the product of our current economic downturn, but instead is the legacy of the uncompetitive structure of its manufacturing and labor force,” said U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). “The financial situation facing the Big Three is not a national problem, but their problem. I do not support the use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to reward the mismanagement of Detroit-based auto manufacturers in such a way that allows them to continue and compound their ongoing mistakes.”

Its nice that Republicans have discovered meritocracy after five decades of being the world’s biggest support network for rewarding crony based capitalism, when they weren’t shipping jobs off to Asia and India in order to, you know compete in the global market. Had to blame unions of course. These Republican and libertarians never explain why German, Japanese and Swedish car companies remain competitive with a union work force. let’s help them out. Ford makes a good example because they make fairly good, profitable cars on European and Asian assembly lines, but don’t have to worry about paying health-care benefits – national health-care takes care of one of biggest headaches of American business. The NYT’s David Brooks even mentions what a boost managed health-care will be here, even as he plays tough daddy and declares that letting Detroit die is all for the best. Some folks such as The Agonist are weary of giving Detroit a basket of cash. Though as tantalizing as forcing them into regular bankruptcy might be, it’s probably a mistake. The Big Three are a disgrace, but they still need our help

More significantly, Chapter 11 proceedings for GM would be far more complicated than that of a retailer, or of Lehman Brothers. Recent experience shows that for auto companies, Chapter 11 is like the Hotel California. You can check in any time you like, but you can never be able to leave. Auto parts supplier Delphi filed for Chapter 11 in October 2005, and still languishes there. Getting out of Chapter 11 can be tough when (a) the bankrupt companies are capital-intensive manufacturers; and (b) creditors are reluctant to give up on their claims. Among those with the biggest claims on the automakers, and GM in particular, are the United Auto Workers. It’s common, especially in the fever swamps of the right, to blame the UAW for the Big Three’s high cost structure and legacy costs. (Never mind that management for generations willingly entered into the labor pacts, consciously trading salary increases for longer-term liabilities like guaranteeing health insurance for retirees. Such pacts allowed the Big Three to report higher profits in the short term, and pushed the hard choices to the future.). Last year, the UAW and the auto companies set up a health-care fund that, as the New York Times writes, would “shift a $100 billion burden off the companies’ backs.” Would the UAW simply give up on the health care benefits and tell hundreds of thousands of 40- and 50-something members to just go out and buy their own health insurance?

What Daniel Gross at Newsweek is basically arguing for is a kind of bankruptcy, but one in which the government – taxpayers, including those 3 million car industry related job holders would hold a stake in GM and Ford (forget Chrysler – unless Ford for instance wanted to buy the relatively profitable Jeep label).  Almost shocking to read this from the usually looney far Right, IBD

More to the point, numerous studies have shown bankruptcy would ravage auto sales. Consumers say they would be far less inclined to buy from a company in Chapter 11. If they make a $25,000 investment, they want to know the manufacturer will be around to service the vehicle and honor warranties, notes Merkle.

“GM sales would probably be cut in half” in bankruptcy, he said.

The federal government, in theory, could use aid as a carrot for automakers and unions to agree to restructurings that typically occur in Chapter 11 — but without bankruptcy’s stigma.

OK they do take a wholly unsupported jab at Democrats and a President Obama, stating they would be unlikely to pressure unions into making the required concessions – see goofy cartoon above.

Already, GM has moved virtually abreast of Toyota in productivity, said Harbour.

With its new UAW deal and further improvements, it should be able to further trim costs by $1,000 per vehicle in the next few years.

All the things said about Detroit have a nugget of truth – pitiful management, lousy products and too many model lines that overlapped, the industry lobbying against higher CAFE ratings which has certainly come back to haunt them, not pushing Washington for health-care reform which does bring down the cost per vehicle. Moving toward a new improved viable American automotive industry will probably mean cutting its size by forty percent. That is the kind of employment and economic pain that we might be able to deal with until the credit crunch is over, new models hit the street and people start buying again. Did I mention that if the domestic auto industry goes down so does Michigan and Ohio and a good chunk of California. Nursing the auto giants back to health might be expensive, but a bargain as the ripple effects bring down other businesses and states. INSTANT VIEW: Jobless claims higher than expected

The number of U.S. workers drawing jobless benefits hit a 25-year high this month and imports suffered a record fall in September, according to reports on Thursday that underscored a rapid drop-off in the U.S. economy.

The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose by an unexpectedly steep 32,000 last week to 516,000, the highest since the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Labor Department said.

CIA Chief: Iraq Not Main Front

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday that al-Qaeda remains the single greatest threat to the United States but that Iraq is no longer the central front in the broader war on terrorism.

“Today, the flow of money, weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq is greatly diminished and al-Qaeda senior leaders no longer point to it as the central battlefield,” Hayden told an audience at the Atlantic Council, a bipartisan group that deals with international affairs. But he warned that al-Qaeda remains “a determined, adaptive enemy” that is resilient and operating “from its safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas.”

Iraq never was the front. Bush got us into Iraq, opening the door from foreign fighters around the world into his clever flytrap. They just used our troops for target practice while al-Qaeda reorganized in Pakistan and Afghanistan – Bush’s plan turned out to a giant tar pit rather then a plan to prevent the spread of radicalism and another 9-11.

Antique World map circa 1499

Stacked Stones wallpaper, Black and White Tampa wallpaper and news

Stacked Stones wallpaper

Ruy Teixeira, who co-authored the prescient The Emerging Democratic Majority with John B. Judis ( free first chapter excerpt here) a few years back has written a statistics geek guide to the Democratic sweep 2008, Digging into the 2008 Exit Polls

5. Women voted 56-43 overall for Obama.  Even married women with children, traditionally a difficult group for Democrats, supported Obama by 52-47.  Single women voted Democratic by 70-29, up from 62-37 in 2004.  And working women, who voted Democratic by a slender 51-48 margin in 2004, voted Democratic this time by an impressive 60-39 margin.

6. The march of professionals toward the Democratic party continued.  Using those with a postgraduate education as a proxy for this group (the exit polls have no occupation question), Obama received 58-40 support.  That figure includes 54-44 support among white postgraduates.

7. The youth vote of course was huge for Obama.  This is the first year the 18-29 year old age group was drawn exclusively from the millennial generation (those born 1978 or later) and they gave Obama a whopping 34 point margin, 66-32.  This compares to only a 9 point margin for Kerry in 2004.  The youth share of voters also increased from 17 to 18 percent across the two elections.

As much as many on the Right are hoping that America’s economy hits rock bottom and continues that way for the next four years, its very unlikely an Obama presidency or Democratic control of Congress will make the right-wing’s fantasies come true. If the public feels that Democrats are making progress on the economy, get the troops out of MessOpotamia, maybe even catch Osama BeenForgotten, there is every reason to believe that the trend toward moderation and away from the rabid, nationalistic Right will continue. Some on the Conservative side of the political side of the spectrum see their future in moderating their party’s extremes, others not so much, The GOP’s last chance: Become Democrats

In a morning-after National Review symposium titled “How the GOP Got Here,” L. Brent Bozell wrote, “The liberal wing of the GOP has caused the collapse of the Republican Party.” Richard Viguerie said, “Republicans will make a comeback only after they return to their conservative roots.” Other contributors echoed these sentiments. If only McCain had attacked Obama on red-meat issues like immigration or abortion or cloning. If only Bush had not betrayed Reagan’s legacy by expanding Medicare. If only conservatives had let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin.

Pat Buchanan argued on the right-wing site Townhall that McCain lost because he was too deferential to Beltway decorum and refused to take the culture-war gloves off.

In the distorted fun house mirror inside the brains of Bozell, Buchanan, Coulter and Limbaugh they think they’re punishing Democrats by digging in and just repeating the same garbage they been dispensing. Only louder and and intensely more shrill, will win back an increasingly moderate America. Please, by all means continue to knock your heads against the wall hoping for a different result. Mainstream America would much rather watch the Right’s temper tantrums in defeat, then the Right’s maliciousness in victory. Governor Palin has become their poor sainted victim,

Limbaugh managed to refrain from comparing McCain to an insect, but he joined Coulter in anointing Palin the future queen of the Republican Party. Noting that a Rasmussen poll showed that 69 percent of GOP voters love Palin, Limbaugh sneered, “So all of you wizards of smart on our side, all of you intellectualoids who think that Palin was a drag, the party loves Sarah Palin. The vast majority of conservative Republicans love Sarah Palin.

Palin worship is alarmingly like Bush worship.  I encourage the hard Right to stick to that state of mind. As America glances back over its shoulder to see if the Right has changed, learned their lesson as it were, the Palin-mania will assure them that the kool-aid drinkers still don’t care about good governance and the common good.

Where’s the justice

Bush, Out of Office, Could Oppose Inquiries

“The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, who sits on two committees, Judiciary and Intelligence, that are examining aspects of Mr. Bush’s policies.

Topics of open investigations include the harsh interrogation of detainees, the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama, secret legal memorandums from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the role of the former White House aides Karl Rove and Harriet E. Miers in the firing of federal prosecutors.

Mr. Bush has used his executive powers to block Congressional requests for executive branch documents and testimony from former aides. But investigators hope that the Obama administration will open the filing cabinets and withdraw assertions of executive privilege that Bush officials have invoked to keep from testifying.

Having checked a round up of some of the Democratic legal blogs I can’t find one that has weighed in on this in from an expert’s perspective. Obama seems ready and willing to undo a slew of Bush executive orders, but the story at NYT quotes his desire not to pursue investigations that are too political, but would pursue cases of criminal conduct. I don’t think you can have real change, change that will last beyond Obama’s tenure unless he cleans house. That would include vigorously investigating and prosecuting wrong doing. It has turned out that Ford’s pardon of Nixon, to purportedly heal the country, was a terrible wrong turn in our history. Having prosecuted Nixon might have prevented Reagan’s Iran-Contra and Bush’s corrupt naked emperor presidency.

Update: Obama’s plans for probing Bush torture

The proposed commission — similar in thrust to a Democratic investigation proposal first uncovered by Salon in July — would examine a broad scope of activities, including detention, torture and extraordinary rendition, the practice of snatching suspected terrorists off the street and whisking them off to a third country for abusive interrogations. The commission might also pry into the claims by the White House — widely rejected by experienced interrogators — that abusive interrogations are an effective and necessary intelligence tool.

[  ]…Instead, a commission empowered by Congress would have the authority to compel witnesses to testify and even to grant immunity in exchange for information. Should a particularly ugly picture emerge, the option of prosecutions would still theoretically be on the table later, however unlikely.

The commission that salon references would be tasked with fact finding – another devastating blow to the Bush legacy or rather nightmare. One possibility is that Bush could pardon not just hundreds of individuals, but categories of people that could add up to a thousand or more – which would be no less then a public admission of guilt – much like Scooter Libby’s lies to protect the White House – blanket pardons of historic proportions would be both an ideological indictment of the Bush presidency and highlight once again the rabid extremism on which the Conservative movement is based. One scholar suggests that should Bush do that many people might then feel free to openly testify about criminal and unethical conduct, thus Bush and his comrades will be found guilty in the court of public opinion and as a matter of historical record.

Idaho students chant ‘assassinate Obama’ on school bus: Kids don’t wake up one morning and get ideas like this out of thin air, an adult has to plant those kinds of thoughts.

Obama’s Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani, about his religion.

A standard line in my stump speech during this campaign is that my politics are informed by a belief that we’re all connected. That if there’s a child on the South Side of Chicago that can’t read, that makes a difference in my life even if it’s not my own child. If there’s a senior citizen in downstate Illinois that’s struggling to pay for their medicine and having to chose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer even if it’s not my grandparent. And if there’s an Arab American family that’s being rounded up by John Ashcroft without the benefit of due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

I can give religious expression to that. I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, we are all children of God. Or I can express it in secular terms. But the basic premise remains the same. I think sometimes Democrats have made the mistake of shying away from a conversation about values for fear that they sacrifice the important value of tolerance. And I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive.

Do you think it’s wrong for people to want to know about a civic leader’s spirituality?

I don’t’ think it’s wrong. I think that political leaders are subject to all sorts of vetting by the public, and this can be a component of that.

I think that I am disturbed by, let me put it this way: I think there is an enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God’s mandate.

I think there is this tendency that I don’t think is healthy for public figures to wear religion on their sleeve as a means to insulate themselves from criticism, or dialogue with people who disagree with them.

Black and White Tampa Florida wallpaper

Automakers Need a Bailout, While McCain-Palin Try to Rescue Their Reputations

Automakers Seek Their Own Federal Bailout

The chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, and the president of the United Auto Workers union met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday to discuss billions of dollars more in financial help for the companies.

Its exasperating, but the bottom line is jobs and the ripple effect of the U.S. going out of the auto making business. There are a few things probably most taxpayers would like to see discussed. The UAW (United Auto Workers) have have tremendous concessions in light of the current auto maker crisis, what sacrifices are the executives of these companies going to make. Part of the Big 3’s problems are the credit crunch, people are not buying cars. The other problems have been an endemic part of the U.S. auto industry for some time. The resistance to making gas mileage a high priority and not making the adoption of Toyota’s hydrid technology an urgent priority – another string Congress should attach. The less then inspiring models – build quality has improved, but owner satisfaction surveys always have Japan and German cars as their top rated auto makers; and unions are not to blame – Japan and Germany have unionized auto makers. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm makes an obvious point, the additional $25 billion the car makers might need seems like a bargain compared to the $700 billion for the financial industry – AIG has received $143 billion in federal aid in two months. As Congress likely approves this money they might also consider not providing money for GM to use to acquire Chrysler. Buying Chrysler might actually cost GM jobs – if Chrysler is allowed to go out of business it would likely give the remaining two of the big three some larger market leverage and they would eventually start hiring again. Who knows when we’ll get the financial bailout money back. The auto industry is asking for a loan – one which auto makers, with some Congressional oversight, is capable of paying back. Then there are the approximately  three million jobs directly or indirectly dependent on the auto industry – those people not making their mortgage payments wouldn’t help the economy, taxpayers or the mortgage companies we’re already helping.

The McCain-Palin rehabilitation tour

Palin not ruling out 2012 bid

“Don’t let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is and even if it’s cracked up a little bit, maybe I’ll just plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don’t let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in ’12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door,” Palin said in an interview with Fox News Monday.

Run Gov. Palin, run, run like the wind. My dream Republican ticket in 2012, Palin as Prez and Mitt Romney as VP. But let’s have some respect for doors. They’re usually private or state property and can’t be put on your Neiman-Marcus charge card. She seems to have preference for revolving doors, first smearing President-elect Obama as someone who “pals around with terrorists” and now says “I’m Comfortable With Barack Obama As Our Commander In Chief”. Is she a person that says what she means and means what she says or someone more then willing to make egregious attacks on a good American’s character to score cheap political points. Her willingness to do so and her history of using attacks of convenience strongly suggests she is no more then the typical back stabbing pol, even as people in her own party describe her.

Transcript of McCain on “The Tonight Show”

Senator John McCain: Well, you’ve got to have a respectful campaign. And that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough. I mean, campaigns are tough, and they should be because you’re seeking the most important position 3 in the world. But there’s a difference between being tough and being personal or angry. And look, America right now — I don’t have to tell you — I don’t have to tell anybody out here, especially those members of the military — that we’re in two wars. We’ve got housing problems. We’ve got economic crisis. We’ve got all these problems. Now it’s time for America to join together and support the man who was just elected President.

“Respectful” campaign? Maybe on McCain’s home planet in the universe of denial. yet another opportunity to apologize to the American people and his political opponents and nada, nothing. McCain and Palin throw everthing, including the kitchen sink,

…what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.

By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.

That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family” was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.

McCain shouldn’t be allowed in the U.S. Senate much less president of a great country going through hard times. One more from the Leno interview,

Senator John McCain: Joe is one of the finest, most wonderful men I’ve ever known in my life. I have never known a finer man than Joe Lieberman, and I believe I won the nomination because right before the New Hampshire primary — and I know I don’t expect a lot of you to remember all the details — he came out to supported me.

Normal people look up and see the earth’s moon, McCain swears, in his parallel universe that its actually the light emitting from Joementum. Maybe McCain thought he was running for president of Mars. Is he capable of grasping reality?  Lieberman: Obama Has Not Always Put Country First

But as he introduced Mr. McCain at a campaign event here on Tuesday, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut made the attack a lot more explicit, calling the election a choice “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.’’

McCain has been in Washington almost a quarter of a century and has only excelled at one thing; keeping his identity as Superman a secret from everyone except Joe Screw Loose Lieberman. John and Joe have a lot in common, an egomaniacal love of the bull that comes out of their mouths. Both will best serve the future of the United States when they retire.

Palin and the Right Keep Tripping Over Their Narcissism

Palin’s reality problem

I’m done with ‘em

Supporters of Palin say she’s had it with the campaign staff.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the [campaign] plane,” a Palin insider told Politico. He says she would like to further ignore staff advice and do things her own way.

But CNN reports campaign aides say she’s a selfish renegade.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family, or anyone else.”

Palin blames Bush for GOP defeat

“I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years,” Palin said in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News at Wasilla Sunday afternoon, referring to the Bush presidency from 2000 to 2008.

Alaska Governor Palin made the remarks after former Republican candidate John McCain lost the November 4 election last week to President-elect Barack Obama.

Palin also criticized President George W. Bush’s war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“How did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration, how have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration,” she asked.

When asked about her political future, the Alaska Governor did not rule out a run for president or vice president in 2012.

One can see where Palin’s base – the name callers at her rallies and the Republicans that regard her as a “MILF”– might let her get away with being critical of Bush’s strategy or lack there of in Afghanistan, but Iraq. Iraq is the Right’s centerpiece of the neocon’s flytrap theory of preventing another 9-11; Just ask Fox’s Brit Hume who says us mere mortals just show some appreciation for Bush’s policy direction “an amazing one”. Maybe if Palin had made speeches to that effect rather then tossing out the vitriol about President-elect Obama, she might have been able to convince some moderate Republicans and Independents that she really was something other then Dick Cheney in heels. When Palin hasn’t been blaming McCain/McCain’s staff or Bush she’s been blaming the media, a tired old dog that the Right resorts to whipping when all else fails, Palin On Fox News: Couric Annoyed Me

For the record, Couric asked her, among other things, what type of news sources she turns to for information, which Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with, why Alaska’s proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy experience, her opinion of the bailout package for Wall Street, and where she thought Vice President Dick Cheney erred. Which one of those questions was designed to trip her up (as opposed to, say, give viewers a better sense of her character and views) is tough to ascertain.

The only one of those questions that an informed voter might be able to let her slide on was the Supreme Court decisions. Even then, as a college graduate and governor shouldn’t Brown V. Board of Education, or Miranda V. Arizona ring a bell or sense her son is in a modern sexually integrated military, maybe United States V. VMI. I watched a few minutes of the series The Today Show is doing on her this morning – very much a puff piece where she goes relatively unchallenged by Matt Lauer, thus far. She goes on at length defending herself against what she describes as attacks, but which in most cases were/are legitimate questioning of her qualifications, stands on issues and her ethics. She capable of being pleasant, of projecting a public persona, that more substantive qualities aside, one can see where in our acutely personality obsessed culture, she would be someone that low info voters would find appealing. It would be great if everyone on the political spectrum based their vote on something more concrete, but such is the nature of politics since Hamilton and Jefferson battled it out two hundred years ago. The most disappointing and goofy aspect of Palin’s 20/20 hindsight is that she thinks that she will be qualified to be president in 2012 and that she was not the one that dragged down the McCain campaign. October 23, 2008 Sarah Palin dragging down Republican ticket: polls

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that Americans are less and less convinced she is worthy to serve as the country’s number-two leader.

“Her numbers have plummeted in our poll … what’s more 55 percent think she’s unqualified to serve as president if the need arises, which is a troublesome number given McCain’s age,”

In exit polling Palin didn’t do well, Exit polls: Age v. race

GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin didn’t do well in exit polls. Sixty percent of those polled said the Alaska governor is not qualified to be president, if necessary; 38 percent said she is. That compares with the two-thirds of those polled who said Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden is qualified to be president…

Palin like much of the Right’s political leaders suffers from that peculiar brand of narcissism that just doesn’t allow for inward reflection. Its everyone’s fault, but Palin’s. Her qualifications to lead are, in her mind, spectacular. Her judgment, according to her and her supporters, is never in err and she can see Russia on a clear day, which practically makes her the Alaskan Benjamin Franklin.

Palin does have her defenders, McCain Owes Sarah Some Straight Talk

Where’s John McCain’s honor when we need it?

We’ll find out tonight, when the Arizona Republican appears on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. In the week since the election, Mr. McCain’s campaign team has leaked some nasty stuff about Sarah Palin. These leaks are personal, and they speak more to the character of Mr. McCain and the leakers than they do to Mrs. Palin. So it will be telling if Mr. McCain stands up for his partner and says how offended he has been by what some of his staffers have done to her.

Now the Right questions McCain’s honor. Where were they when McBush thought he could smear campaign his way into the White House.

Democrats are not without problems. Note Democratic ‘centrist’ Mark Penn’s Most affluent voters key to Obama sweep. Those voter’s post secondary education would be the more apt description of that demographic shifting liberal and Liberal Value’s observation that the religious Right has begun to scare educated Republicans and Independents.

Obama to mark Veterans Day with wreath-laying

President-elect Obama planned to honor fallen troops Tuesday, taking a short break from his primary task of mapping out his administration to mark Veterans Day.

The Democrat was slated to lay a wreath in Chicago, accompanied by Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq war veteran and 2006 failed congressional candidate who now is the Illinois governor’s veterans affairs director.

The Right Suddenly Discovers Class

GOP clowns

Harsh Words About Obama? Never Mind Now

That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.

Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”

But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”

And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”

But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”

There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.

But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.

As soon as McCain made his concession speech and the morning after the vast librul media had defined the speech as “classy”. I listened to it twice to make sure. At no point did McCain apologize for the outrageous slurs made by him or Palin ( who he wold not let be there). Human nature being what it is and McCain having certainly invested so much emotion, time and energy into the campaign – I let it slide – i tried on that momentous occasion to see what McCain said as a round about apology of a proud man. That is not to say that like many people i suffered the kind of rhetorical whip-lash that Jim Rutenburg refers to in this Op-ed for in the NYT- note that it is an opinion piece, not straight up reportage. Though like any good op-ed it is based on the facts. The right-wing Newsbusters will have none of that,  NYT Displeased With Gracious GOP Congratulations To Obama, By Noel Sheppard, November 8, 2008 – 19:56 ET

Quite the contrary, as the losers in this election showed extraordinary class while demonstrating perfectly how those that come in second should behave in a civilized society, the Times’ Jim Rutenberg found ways to spoil the moment in a piece slated for Sunday’s front page

McCain swore to run an honorable campign. With that declaration combined with running what turned out to be perhaps the most despicable and dishonest in modern political history excuse the heck out people like Mr. Rutenberg, me and at least one presidential historian take notice. The Right’s discovery of class is short by about fifty years. As to spoiled moments, for who exactly? – sites like Newsbusetr who pedaled the worse of the smears – Newsbusters, September 23, 2008 – Barack Obama and Bill Ayers: Stanley Kurtz Makes the Connection, Kurtz made no such connection, but try and find any apologies at Newsbusters, The Free Republic, Little Green Snot Balls, The Weekly Standard and other fringe Right site for lie after lie and innuendo after innuendo they made about President-elect Obama.

McCain does nothing as supporter calls Obama a “terrorist”

McCain: Obama Campaign Has ‘Savaged’ Joe The Plumber. Liberal bloggers were critical of Joe,, but the Obama campaign never laid a glove on the guy.

McCain: Obama Socialist? “I Don’t Know”. This kind of attack is what passes for clever on the Right. McCain doesn’t point a finger and say “I accuse”. Turn it around and maybe it’s easier for some to see, Do you think that John McCain is a a two faced scum bag lazy gigolo fascist? Just asking. Fox uses this type of attack quite a bit – this site tracks them, Newshounds.

McCain also called Obama a decent family man. I got into McCain’s rhetorical schizophrenia here.

Of course Palin was ‘classy’ too, NY Times’ Harwood quotes Palin’s “palling around with terrorists” claim, but not Times’ own reporting otherwise

The troops sent America and John ‘100 years war’ McCain a message, U.S. Troops Deployed Abroad Reject McCain’s Iraq Plans, Donate 6:1 To Obama

In Iraq, some troops see Obama as best bet

Reporting from Baghdad and Washington — Presidential election exit polls showed that the economy was uppermost on the minds of most Americans. But when Baghdad-based Army Maj. Ian Howard cast his ballot, his top concern was whether this would be his last deployment to Iraq.

So Howard, a lifelong Republican, threw his support to Barack Obama, who has advocated a swift withdrawal of U.S. forces.

“I don’t want to come back here for another tour,” Howard said Wednesday. “Obama gives me confidence I won’t be back here in two, three or four years.”

Political Junkies Withdrawal and Other News

For political junkies: Now the withdrawal

Dr. Petros Levounis, director of the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, said such obsessions stimulate the pleasure-reward pathways in the brain, working in a similar way to drugs or alcohol.

“There’s no question that someone can develop a strong habit in following these political campaigns,” Levounis said. “And when the campaign is over, they get a sense of emptiness, or a letdown, something missing in their lives.”

He said doctors had seen similar reactions to TV shows such as “American Idol.”

I just felt such a sense of relief at the race being over, Obama winning and Bush leaving. Predictably the Right is bitter and angry. They didn’t just lose an election. Despite controlling government for most of Bush’s presidency, 24/7 right-wing pundits pushing lie after lie -smear after smear, newspapers dominated by far Right columnists – they lost the ideological war. Despite being having all the advantages – Weapons of Mass Media Deception – they couldn’t beat back moderate mainstream America. As much as many of us might be enjoying that, one hopes for the sake of the country and moving forward, the fringe Right learns to embrace an America that is far more moderate and liberal-center then their fantasies would have them believe. Or they risk becoming even more irrelevant – Wingnut revisionism: Oh, that ole time slavery was so much better than welfare

and Focus on the Family likens Obama and Democrats to Nazis

‘Obama Sale’ on Guns and Ammo – some gun owners and their unfounded paranoia. There is no rational reason for hunters or homeowners that have a gun for personal protection, have no reason to fear an Obama presidency. A comment at the link says a lot about what we’re dealing with regarding the rumors about Democrats in general and perceived threats to 2nd amendment rights. The commenter repeats a rumor spread by a gun rights organization to the effect California authorities went around confiscating guns. I know, doesn’t make sense. No such thing happened and there is no documentation to give the rumor any validity. That won’t stop rumors like that from continuing to be spread. I’m a gun owner and know gun owners that don’t buy into the paranoia, so its not all gun owners, just the ones with a certain mentality. Since gun shops seem to be benefiting from increased sales, they have an economic incentive to go along even if they think the gossip is just that, gossip. One gun manufacturer president was asked to resign for supporting President-elect Obama.

Gun owners late to the game

I agree up to a point with  Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) about forgiving Joe Lieberman. Let him caucus with Democrats and even let him chair some committee, but not the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. As chair of the HSG he was supposed to provide oversight of the Bush administration. A task at which he was a miserable failure – his failures cost money and weakened the people’s right to hold the president accountable. That is not the kind of behavior that deserves to be rewarded.

Let’s cut the nonsense. Reid offered Lieberman a chance to stay in the Democratic caucus, keep his seniority, and become the chairman of some other committee. Lieberman thinks that’s “unacceptable” and reportedly “begged” to stay on as chairman of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Lieberman is in no position to bargain, if he caucuses with Republicans, he will not be reelected to the Senate and he knows it.

Uncounted Votes May Push Begich Past Stevens

Although Ted Stevens currently holds a lead of approximately 3,200 votes in ballots counted to date in Alaska’s senate contest, there is good reason to believe that the ballots yet to be counted — the vast majority of which are early and absentee ballots — will allow Mark Begich to mitigate his disadvantage with Stevens and quite possibly pull ahead of him.

So as not to steal Five ThirtyEight’s thunder you’ll have to click over for the complete analysis.