Thursday, December 31, 2009

Working New Year's Eve For Obama

Obama's working tonight, reviewing reports on the attempted terror incident. He'll be meeting with his security team on Jan. 5.
President Barack Obama will review intelligence assesments Thursday evening on the failed Christmas Day airline bombing.

Obama had set a Thursday deadline for the initial assessment. Earlier on Thursday, the White House said Obama received briefings by both counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Obama, who is in Hawaii with this family, will huddle with his security team in person next week.

"On Tuesday, in Washington, I will meet personally with relevant agency heads to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations," he said in a statement released by the White House. The Hill

It's a working holiday for Janet Napolitano as well:
“As part of the ongoing review to determine exactly what went wrong leading up to Friday’s attempted terrorist attack, we are looking not only at our own processes, but also beyond our borders to ensure effective aviation security measures are in place for U.S-bound flights that originate at international airports,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement Thursday.
Senior Homeland Security officials will meet with leaders at major airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East in the coming weeks "to review security procedures and technology being used to screen passengers on flights bound for the United States," the department announced this afternoon. Napolitano said she would follow up on those meetings with her own "ministerial level" discussions.

Europe will be the first leg of the wide outreach effort, where U.S. officials will brief their European counterparts "on the findings of President Obama’s aviation security review," which he ordered last week, according to the department. The Hill

Happy New Year Wishes From Obama

Tonight is a once in a blue moon (about every 2.5 years) Blue Moon, when the moon is full twice in the same month.

Russia's Prez Dmitry Medvedev offers New Year wishes:

New Year Marks 50th Anniversary of Ruby Bridges

It's hard to believe that any person at any time in history could be so ignorant as to hate people because of race, or religion or whatever. But today, we still have wingnuts of all varieties.

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Obama Receives Preliminary Report on Airline Terror Attempt

Obama works on report in Hawaii with Denis McDonough

Obama had asked for a report by today. He's been briefed and will meet with security officials next week:
Vacationing in Hawaii, Obama received an preliminary assessment ahead of meetings he will hold in Washington next week on fixing the failures of the nation’s anti-terrorism policy. Administration officials said the system to protect the nation’s skies from terrorists was deeply flawed and, even then, the government failed to follow its own directives.

Obama spoke separately with counterterrorism adviser John Brennan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who announced she was dispatching senior department officials to international airports to review their security procedures. More at MSNBC

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The Obamas See Avatar in Hawaii

Bo in the Blue Room.
President Obama, the first family and friends finished watching a private viewing of the movie "Avatar" at Windward Mall and left at 12:32 p.m., emerging from a side door at Borders bookstore.
"A group of more than a half dozen children came out first, along with fathers Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt; the kids piled into a van while a grown up man we did not recognize did a head count to make sure they were all there," according to a media pool report by Peter Baker of The New York Times.

Obama stepped into the sunlight wearing sunglasses, a dark blue short-sleeve shirt, brown slacks and a BlackBerry on his belt. He was accompanied by his two daughters.

"A light cheer went up from the crowd of onlookers in the parking lot and Potus waved at them," according to Baker's report. Read the whole thing here

Now John Ensign is Focused on Doing His Job

Rick Sanchez ambushes the shameless John Ensign of Nevada, who should be embarrassed enough not to show up on TV, let alone criticize anyone. But lured by the opportunity to behave like one of the old men in the GOP coffee klatch, he falls into Sanchez's trap.

The Decade Poem

The decade in review in poetry form. By Bill Radke:

The problem began on New Year's Day,
The year 2000 -- "Y2K."
We thought the computer response would be rocky,
And then when it wasn't, I think we got cocky.

So when the dot-commers ran into their troubles,
Well, we weren't afraid of the danger of bubbles.
We told ourselves the ensuing recession
Was all about terrorists and their aggression.

Interest rates falling to practically zero?
Greenspan's a genius, a national hero!
Enron and WorldCom were cooking their books,
But U.S. executives mostly aren't crooks.

This is a country where companies fail,
But capitalism will always prevail.
It brought us the Kindle and PlayStation 3,
And YouTube and Gmail and Wiki and Wii. Read the rest at NPR
Russia already celebrating the New Year

Obama's Letter to CIA

In response to the recent deaths of CIA workers in Afghanistan:
To the men and women of the CIA:

I write to mark a sad occasion in the history of the CIA and our country. Yesterday, seven Americans in Afghanistan gave their lives in service to their country. Michelle and I have their families, friends and colleagues in our thoughts and prayers.

These brave Americans were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life. The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA. You have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country. You have served in the shadows, and your sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families.

In recent years, the CIA has been tested as never before. Since our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, you have served on the frontlines in directly confronting the dangers of the 21st century. Because of your service, plots have been disrupted, American lives have been saved, and our Allies and partners have been more secure. Your triumphs and even your names may be unknown to your fellow Americans, but your service is deeply appreciated. Indeed, I know firsthand the excellent quality of your work because I rely on it every day.

The men and women who gave their lives in Afghanistan did their duty with courage, honor and excellence, and we must draw strength from the example of their sacrifice. They will take their place on the Memorial Wall at Langley alongside so many other heroes who gave their lives on behalf of their country. And they will live on in the hearts of those who loved them, and in the freedom that they gave their lives to defend.

May God bless the memory of those we lost, and may God bless the United States of America.

President Barack Obama
Yesterday, Obama visited an old friend in Hawaii. The Obamas will head back to DC this weekend. See vacation photos here. There haven't been many vaca photos this time around. Either the press was extra respectful, or were just busy themselves or the Obamas didn't make themselves available to the cameras.
President Obama paid a visit to an old friend on O'ahu's North Shore yesterday, on Day 7 of his vacation here.

He arrived at the Mokulē'ia home of high school friend Bobby Titcomb yesterday afternoon following a drive that took him past Aloha Stadium and Pearl Harbor, then Schofield Barracks and up to Dillingham Air Field. HI

Terrorists Need to be Treated Like Common Criminals

Obama has this down. Why elevate the stature of a terrorist?
Obama's not giving the terrorists what they want, but republicans seem to want to elevate the status of a common criminal to "enemy combatant." Republicans don't think Obama is tough enough on terrorism, which has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with their own ignorance.
The GOP is behaving like small idiots, and frankly, I'm sick of their nonsense, especially when it comes to national security. Obama is the president. HIS foreign policy is the one that we voted for. Pete Hoekstra, Peter King, Dick Cheney, losers.
I don't want to see anyone pointing fingers. I want to see people fixing things. They need to be helping. If not, find something else to do. I still can't help seeing the GOP as a giant troll under the bridge.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to see someone like Hoekstra act like an adult and say, hey, what can I do?
Two good pieces today on the importance of treating terrorists, not as worthy enemies, but plain and simple criminals:
Nothing plays more right into the hands of Al Qaeda than glorifying them as some sort of special and unique class of warriors -- enemy combatants -- rather than treating them as the lowly, common, murderous criminals they are. When we deny them due process and imprison them without charges because they're something stronger and scarier than mere criminals -- when we pronounce that they are our enemies waging holy war on America -- we do more to elevate their stature and, in the eyes of their followers, justify their violence than anything they could hope to do themselves. The more fearful and extreme our reaction to them is, the better their cause is served. Is there anything they can do or say to make that clearer? Salon
From the Washington Post:
Mr. Cheney and others argue that Mr. Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to down Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas, should have been held as an enemy combatant and pumped for information, rather than read his Miranda rights and provided a lawyer. They further argue that the decision to shuttle him to federal court shows that President Obama is in denial about the dangers of terrorism.

This last claim has no merit. Just as it would be a mistake to approach all terrorist acts as a law enforcement challenge, so would it be imprudent to dispense with strong and available law enforcement tools, and to deal with all such incidents as acts of war. Recall that the Bush administration prosecuted shoe bomber Richard Reid in federal court for attempting to down a transatlantic flight using the same type of explosives allegedly found on Mr. Abdulmutallab. No one then questioned the Bush-Cheney administration's judgment or its resolve -- and rightly so.
So why not bundle the Nigerian suspect to a secure location for intensive questioning by the CIA? First, because he already has been talking to authorities about his affiliation with al-Qaeda and the possibility of other attacks. Second, because he is no Khalid Sheik Mohammed -- he is not a seasoned al-Qaeda operator but a disturbed young man whom the group tried to use as cannon fodder.

Most important, the Bush administration's own experience has showed that holding suspects as enemy combatants creates more problems than it solves, because of the lack of due process and legal accountability. WaPo

Good Sign for 2010: Jobless Claims Continue to Fall

See the Department of Labor release here.
The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week, a sign the job market is healing as the economy slowly recovers.

New jobless claims have dropped steadily since September, raising hopes that the economy may soon begin creating jobs and the unemployment rate could decline. That, in turn, would give households more money to spend and add fuel to the broader economic rebound that began earlier this year.

The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance fell by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 432,000, the lowest since July 2008. That's much better than the rise to 460,000 that Wall Street economists expected.
But the drop may have been because people were busy with the holidays or they were stuck in snow:
Analysts cautioned that the weekly data could be artificially low due to seasonal factors, such as the Christmas holiday and recent snowstorms.

Still, many economists saw the claims figures as a positive sign that employers could soon step up hiring. Abiel Reinhart, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, said in a note to clients that he estimates employers added a net total of 40,000 jobs in December, after cutting 11,000 the previous month. Read it all at the AP

2009 Twitter, Kindle, Obama, Billie Holiday, Greed, Sam Kass

It's almost the New Year. I think it's going to be a good one. Time for reflection.
2009 was the exclamation point on the Decade of Greed.
The past 10 years was a time when the rich rallied to accumulate and horde as much as they could and the middle class aspired to do the same, pretending that they too were wealthy, emulating the rich with fancy handbags, cars they couldn't afford, homes twice the size as necessary, Biggie-sized TVs. People didn't live in their homes, they used them as ATMs.
Wall Street and bankers took full advantage of home lust, giving us what we demanded, bringing the financial system to a near collapse.
If we don't want to be beholden to bankers and banker salaries, then we need to get out of debt.
Even the people who didn't have much of an income tried to emulate the rich.
In America, there's this belief that we are entitled to certain things. But in reality, we're not entitled to anything.
We may finally be reckoning with that. We're not even entitled to retirement after a full life of work.
Entitlement is another byproduct of greed. Maybe this will be the decade when we're a little more grateful for the things that we have, a little less consumeristic (we can find other ways to prop up our economy). Maybe this will be the decade when we're more open to sharing the things we have.
With that, here's a mish mash of predictions and "of the years:"

Wingnut of the year: Teabaggers

Over played story of the year: Sarah Palin

Underestimated person of the year: Barack Obama

Overestimated person of the year: Sarah Palin

Biggest coward of the year: Dick Cheney

Biggest threat to the nation: Wingnuts (ignorance), ideology

Person I respected more: George Bush for showing respect and not criticizing Obama

Biggest losers of the year: AIG and the rest of the Greed Mongers

Best trend of the year: People paying down their debt, cutting up credit cards, saving money

Politician to Watch: Olympia Snowe

Obama's focus 2010: Education reform

Person who will soar in 2010: Michelle Obama

Favorites within the Obama Administration: David Axelrod, Hillary Clinton, Arne Duncan, Joe Biden, Eric Holder, Bob Gates (likely to be leaving his post in 2010. He reported that himself in an interview earlier this year)

Best political site: Politico

Worst political columnists: Howard Fineman, Maureen Dowd, Charles Krauthammer

Best political reporters/columnists: Marc Ambinder, David Brooks, Political Animal

Best source of political news: NPR (bye bye to the voice, Carl Kassel) Realclearpolitics

Favorite politicians: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Harold Ford, Dianne Feinstein

15 minute fizzlers: "you lie" Joe Wilson, Joe the Plumber

Thorniest politician: Joe Lieberman

People who will keep bothering us in 2010: Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh (unless he retires)

Fools of the year: John Edwards, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Birthers

Most scapegoated: Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, Ben Bernanke

Biggest political football: Public option

Best moments in 2009: Sonia Sotomayor becoming a SC judge, Sully landing the plane, Navy Seals rescuing fisherman from pirates.

Best thing that happened in 2009: Obama takes office

Record of the year: John Frusciante's Empyrean & Warpaint's Exquisite Corpse

Song of the year: Empire State of Mind and Billie Holiday

Best foodie trend of the year: Nutritious food, gardening (thanks Michelle), local farming

Hottest White House foodie: Sam Kass, White House assistant chef

Favorite gadget of the year: Kindle. Love, love, love.

Social media of the year: Twitter

Show I wish wasn't canceled: Dollhouse

Best shows: Parks and Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock, Medium, Heroes, The Middle, Modern Family, Glee (it was a good year for TV)

One of my favorite videos of the year, Warpaint's Billie Holiday:

Other compilations:
Best and worst in climate change
Publisher's Weekly's best books

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vacationing Limbaugh Rushed to Hospital

Update: Looks like Rush is going to pull through. Let's hope it helps make him a better man.

Hope the fuzzball makes it through the night.
Rush Limbaugh, who went to the hospital with chest pains, is vacationing in Hawaii with "the elite" (Obama and Nancy Pelosi) he so often rails against. Rush is NOT in the same hospital that Obama was born in--Kapi'olani. Rush is at Queens Medical.
With all that hate that courses through his body, I'm surprised his heart hasn't bursted already. That's how hate works. It eats your insides. I hope that he's well:
Limbaugh suffered from chest pains, sources said. Paramedics treated him and took him to Queen's Medical Center in serious condition.
He was seen golfing at Waialae Country Club earlier this week. The country club is next to the Kahala Hotel and Resort. Read more

AIG Exec Quits After Her Pay is Cut

Anastasia Kelly must be someone special and precious if she's actually QUITTING a job. She's going to get $2.8 million in severance. I could live comfortably the rest of my days on half of that:
American International Group Inc. has lost a top executive due to the government's limits on executive pay.

AIG said Wednesday that vice chairman and general counsel Anastasia Kelly has resigned, effective immediately.

Kelly left because of the reduction in her base salary that was mandated by the government's pay czar, Kenneth Feinberg, AIG said.

Companies like AIG that hold government bailout funds are subject to restrictions including limits on executive pay; in AIG's case, that's the insurer's 100 highest-paid employees. The government has given AIG a bailout package worth up to $182.5 billion in exchange for an 80 percent stake in the New York-based company. MSNBC

Suicide Bomber Kills 8 Americans Within U.S. Base

Update Dec. 31: CIA head Leon Panetta's statement on 7 CIA employees killed.
CNN is reporting that the 8 killed are CIA workers.

White House Shuts Down Cheney

Wackadoo! Setting Dick, the coward, straight (read Dick's critiques here): I'll start with the end part from the White House blog:
The difference is this: President Obama doesn’t need to beat his chest to prove it, and – unlike the last Administration – we are not at war with a tactic (“terrorism”), we at war with something that is tangible: al Qaeda and its violent extremist allies. And we will prosecute that war as long as the American people are endangered.
And that takes care of that. Of course, Dick or one of the other GOP coffee klatch members will surely fire back, but Dan Pfeiffer, a White House spokesman, pretty much sums it up.
There has been a lot of discussion online and in the mainstream media about our response to various critics of the President, specifically former Vice President Cheney, who have been coming out of the woodwork since the incident on Christmas Day. I think we all agree that there should be honest debate about these issues, but it is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers. Unfortunately too many are engaged in the typical Washington game of pointing fingers and making political hay, instead of working together to find solutions to make our country safer.

First, it’s important that the substantive context be clear: for seven years after 9/11, while our national security was overwhelmingly focused on Iraq – a country that had no al Qaeda presence before our invasion – Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda's leadership was able to set up camp in the border region of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they continued to plot attacks against the United States. Meanwhile, al Qaeda also regenerated in places like Yemen and Somalia, establishing new safe-havens that have grown over a period of years. It was President Obama who finally implemented a strategy of winding down the war in Iraq, and actually focusing our resources on the war against al Qaeda – more than doubling our troops in Afghanistan, and building partnerships to target al Qaeda’s safe-havens in Yemen and Somalia. And in less than one year, we have already seen many al Qaeda leaders taken out, our alliances strengthened, and the pressure on al Qaeda increased worldwide.

To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President. Read more at WH blog

White House Gets More Transparent with Visitor Logs and Declassification

Obama and national security team

According to Obama's policy set forth earlier this year, Obama is making good on his promise of transparent government, releasing names of visitors. These visitor logs have gotten wingnuts out of sorts because they've made stupid assumptions about the names on the list. But if you want to peruse the list for yourself, visit here. Remember, some of the names, such as Bill Ayres, isn't THE Bill Ayres. Don't jump to conclusions.
Today’s release also includes visitor information for the Vice President and his staff at the White House Complex. Consistent with the voluntary disclosure policy, the Office of the Vice President is releasing the names and dates of visitors to the Vice President’s Residence for official events between Sept 16 and Sept 30, and the visitors to the Residence who appear on the daily schedules of the Vice President and Dr. Biden. At this time, it is not possible to release visitor information for the Vice President’s Residence in an identical format to the White House Complex because the Residence is not equipped with the WAVES system that is in place at the White House Complex. The Vice President’s staff is working with the Secret Service to upgrade the visitor records system at the Residence. When the electronic update is complete, visitor information for the White House Complex and the Residence will be released in a common format.
Today’s release is only one example of the many steps the President has taken to increase government transparency over the past year. This Administration’s concrete commitments to openness include issuing the Open Government Directive, putting up more government information than ever before on and, reforming the government’s FOIA processes, providing on-line access to White House staff financial reports and salaries along with the President and Vice President’s tax returns, adopting a tough new state secrets policy, taking steps to improve policies concerning controlled unclassified information, reversing an executive order that could have previously limited access to presidential records, issuing an executive order to speed declassification and reduce over-classification, reaching an accord to restore White House emails from the previous Administration and webcasting White House meetings and conferences. The release also compliments our new lobbying rules, which in addition to closing the revolving door for lobbyists who work in government have also emphasized expanding disclosure of lobbyist contacts with the government. More at WH
Yesterday, Obama also moved to declassify certain government information:
President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered the federal government to rethink how it protects the nation's secrets, in a move that was expected to declassify more than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents and curb the number of government records hidden from the public.

Among the changes is a requirement that every record be released eventually and that federal agencies review how and why they mark documents classified or deny the release of historical records. A National Declassification Center at the National Archives will be established to assist them and help clear a backlog of the Cold War records by Dec. 31, 2013. More at MSNBC

Obama Gets a Hawaiian Rainbow

President Obama has begun his day, as usual, with a morning workout at Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s “Semper Fit” gym.

A media pool report from B.J. Reyes of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin said reporters were told first lady Michelle Obama was also there. More at HI

Media Surprised at Obama's Candor

The media is surprised at Obama's candor when he spoke yesterday, which is surprising. Obama is always candid.
Then they go on to criticize Obama for not speaking up soon enough. It took Bush six days to speak of the shoe bomber. No one complained.
Obama always waits to speak. He always waits to get facts, takes time to digest the facts and then he speaks. The republicans always criticize Obama. They criticize him for taking too long, for not being forceful enough, emotional enough. It's always the same thing.
The GOP is like an old man coffee klatch. They're not trying to help in any way. They just sit around and scheme until it's time to pounce.
It's also annoying that the media keeps harping on Napolitano's "the system worked" when clearly that's not what she meant. Yes, she should've spoken more carefully, but any fool could see that the system did not work. I despise the way the media creates chew toys. It's an endless game of gotcha.

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Obama Tops Most Admired of 2009

I hate polls.
Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are one point within each other and that clearly shows the ignorance of the American public or the bogusness of these polls. Hillary is a hugely accomplished person and is Secretary of State. Palin quit her governorship to write a book and is constantly being harassed by her daughter's baby's father. Come on.
President Obama is the man Americans admired most in 2009, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin are virtually tied as the most-admired woman.
The close finish by Clinton, named by 16% in the open-ended survey, and Palin, named by 15%, reflects the nation's partisan divide. Clinton was cited by nearly 3 in 10 Democrats but only 6% of Republicans, Palin by a third of Republicans but less than 1% of Democrats.

Obama dominates the field among men at 30%, though his support also shows a partisan split. He was named by more than half of Democrats but just 7% of Republicans. More at USA Today
Among most admired men, George Bush gets 4% of the vote and Glenn Beck gets 2%. It's a crying shame Beck's on the list at all.

At Last Cheney Offers Statement on Terror

I figured after Eric Holder's Newsweek interview, the loathsome Dick wouldn't be able to keep his pie hole shut, even though he should, given that it was the Bush administration that set free Gitmo detainees -- it didn't even bother to convict them in federal courts -- in Saudi Arabia for art therapy, after which they returned craftier than ever, making underwear bombs. There's no question, that this is about Dick's precious ego. He's very concerned that Obama isn't using useless worn out rhetoric such as "war on terror." I can't stand that phrase. It makes me sick to my stomach, mostly because it reminds me of how we invaded Iraq and killed scores of Iraqi women and children for "weapons of mass destruction" that weren't even there and how the U.S. engaged in torture. Torture. Disgusting.
But where's Sarah? She hasn't chimed in:
Cheney: Obama 'trying to pretend we are not at war' – says goal of presidency seems to be 'social transformation' -- The former vice president, in a statement to POLITICO: 'As I've watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war.
He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won't be at war. He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda trained terrorists still there, we won't be at war.
He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, 'war on terror,' we won't be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe. Why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? It doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation-the restructuring of American society. President Obama's first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.' Politico

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hypocrisy of the GOP on Terror

The reason the GOP is off the rails on this terror thing is because they're working off the theory that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer. Some of these conservatives even believe Obama was born in Kenya. They still haven't gotten over Obama's middle name, Hussein. They just don't believe that Barack Hussein Obama can be tough on terrorism. Ignorance is their shortcoming.
Rachel Maddow does a good job pointing out the hypocrisy between how the republicans behaved when Bush was confronted with the shoe bomber and how they're behaving now:

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Refuting the Healthcare Bill Killers

What was it I was saying about ideology?
Oh yeah, it's bad, no matter if it comes from the left or the right. Ideology means an unbending mind, one that can't see facts and evidence when they're presented. Ideology means defending what you believe, not because it's right but because you've staked your reputation on it. Having an ideology means a smaller world view, one that often misses subtleties and often the big picture at the same time.
Which leaves us with FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher, a kill biller or bill killer, sulking because the bill doesn't have a public option or exactly what she thinks it's supposed to have.
Fivethirtyeight answers back with 20 questions for those who say he bill should be killed.
18. Was the public option ever an attainable near-term political goal?

19. How many of the arguments that you might be making against the bill would you still be making if a public option were included (but in fact have little to do with the public option)?

20. How many of the arguments that you might be making against the bill are being made out of anger, frustration, or a desire to ring Joe Lieberman by his scruffy, no-good, backstabbing neck?
Ezra Klein also sends kill billers on their way, refuting Hamsher's claims.

Eric Holder on Cheney

It's the rule of law, stupid (Dick).
Of course, since Eric Holder is speaking on Cheney, we'll likely have to hear from Dick shortly. Or maybe not.
I'm going to read a quote from President Obama. This is from the National Archives speech: "We uphold our most cherished values, not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national-security asset." By that definition, did Vice President Cheney's vision make us less strong and less safe?
I think we are strongest when we adhere to what has always made this country great, adhering to the rule of law, following our moral precepts, and we are weakest when we have failed to do that. Great presidents have sometimes deviated from that path. Roosevelt did, with regard to the internment of the Japanese. Lincoln did, to some degree, with regard to the whole question of suspending habeas corpus. And I think the past administration, though they were under enormous pressure after 9/11, made some mistakes.
The Constitution is strong and vibrant:
As you see it, what's the most important difference between this administration's approach to combating terrorism and the previous administration's?
I think that too often the past administration is now seen through the voice of one person. And that's not necessarily, I think, reflective of …
Are you talking about the president or …
No, I'm talking about the vice president. And I'm not sure that accurately reflects where the prior administration was. So there is that caveat. But having said that, I think that one of the things that distinguishes this administration is that we believe that our Constitution is a strong and vibrant document that, at the end of the day, is perhaps our best protection against those who would try to do this nation harm.
Dick baffles the thinking person:
How do you feel—how do you react, personally—when you see the former vice president going on about how this administration is not keeping the American people safe, or has abandoned important policies? Are you dismissive of it? Does it tick you off?
I frankly don't understand it. There's a part of me that doesn't really believe that he believes what he's saying. Read the whole thing at Newsweek

Nancy Fichtner on White House SAVE Award

The SAVE award rewards government employees for saving money.

Obama's Update on Failed Attack Dec. 29

Obama says the system didn't work and intelligence wasn't able to piece together the bits of information it received. Obama also reiterates Napolitano's clarification yesterday after soundbite mania took hold:
Moreover, as Secretary Napolitano has said, once the suspect attempted to take down Flight 253, after his attempt, it's clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems, and our aviation security took all appropriate actions.

But what's also clear is this: When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that totally unacceptable.
He spoke from the Marine Corps Base in Hawaii:


Buchanan Suggests Hostile Interrogation for Farouk

Ideology at its finest. In a Morning Joe chat (video below), Pat Buchanan is plainly scared out of his wits. "This is a War!" he says. He thinks that Farouk, the failed underwear bomber, should be subjected to "hostile interrogation." Farouk is talking. His family is talking and by all accounts, they feel horrible about what their son did. It also looks as though Farouk was an easy target for terrorists to turn. Al Qaeda shouldn't get any kudos for that.
But conservatives are very afraid because fear is what motivates them.
Washington Independent's reporter Spencer Ackerman says Al Qaeda is dangerous but they don't have "Muslim heat vision." Buchanan thinks they do. Ackerman explains the breakdown in security here.
Here's a great read on why we shouldn't be bullied into fearing terrorists. As Ackerman says, fear is what the terrorists want. They want Obama to be a little more Bush-like. To stop all that vacationing and react in chest-thumping horror. I'm so thankful. Truly I am. That those days are over:
The nation gets attacked by thugs on 9/11, nothing more than an organized gang based in Afghanistan, and the nation responds in fear, attacking a country that had nothing to do with the event and killing thousands of innocents, an act that not only does not make the nation any safer but puts it in greater danger. For eight years after that fear and terror was the administration's stock in trade. There were so many color coded terror alerts I had to get a new wardrobe just to make sure I didn't clash. Wouldn't want to wear Yellow or Red on an Orange or Green alert day. So many freedoms were handed over in the name of fear they may never be regained and Benjamin Franklin's head would have exploded.

We had to fear each other for eight years. Fear the evil gays, they may want to get married and then go in to schools and churches and convert you and your children and make them in to a gay. Fear women who want to make medical decisions with their doctors, they may be cold blooded killers of the unborn and must be stopped. Fear anything and anyone different. Fear the illegal immigrants, they're here to take your jobs and your health care dollars. Fear those Hollywood Liberals or they'll do terrible things like give you health care and better education. Fear Russia for whatever reason. Fear China for not giving us any more money and for our incomes drying up. Fear oil running out or the Middle East cutting us off. And most of all, fear the terrorists, because they are, in fact out to get you and you will die.

Fear modified light brights used to promote a movie in Boston and shut down the city (remember the Aqua Teen Hunger Force debacle, that literally caused Boston to panic and nearly evacuate?) Fear a simple plane flying low over your city, as New Yorkers ran like Godzilla was coming out of the Hudson simply because Air Force One was having a photo shoot. Fear each other at airports, as every single person getting on a plane is treated as a potential terrorist. So, they could be, right?HP

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Fighting Ideology of Terrorism and Jim DeMint

Ideology is all the same.
It's bad, whether it's left or right, or violently extreme. We're fighting the ideology of terrorists and the ideology of Jim DeMint, who has prevented Obama's U.S. Transportation Security Administration's administrator nominee, Erroll Southers, from assuming his duties because of DeMint's ideological view on unions. He's concerned that TSA employees may unionize:
Two Senate committees have given their bipartisan blessing to Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert who is Obama's nominee. But DeMint has objected to a full Senate vote, saying he wants additional testimony to clarify Southers's stand on unionizing the TSA, a shift Democrats support. WaPo

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Southers bio:
Southers is assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence for the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department. He is also an associate director at the University of Southern California's Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, and he served as a deputy director of homeland security for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). WaPo

Failed Bomber Farouk1986 Sorely Confused

In stories that are coming out about the underwear bomber, we get the idea that he's a human being. I think the more these people can be humanized, the better off we'll be:
The 23-year-old Nigerian man accused of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner apparently turned to the Internet for counseling and companionship, writing in an online forum that he was "lonely" and had "never found a true Muslim friend."

"I have no one to speak too [sic]," read a posting from January 2005, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was attending boarding school. "No one to consult, no one to support me and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems."

The Washington Post reviewed 300 online postings under the name "farouk1986" (a combination of Abdulmutallab's middle name and birth year). The postings mused openly about love and marriage, his college ambitions and angst over standardized testing, as well as his inner struggle as a devout Muslim between liberalism and extremism. In often-intimate writings, posted between 2005 and 2007, he sought friends online, through Facebook and in Islamic chat rooms: "My name is Umar but you can call me Farouk." He often invited readers to "have your say" and once wrote, "May Allah reward you for reading and reward you more for helping."

A U.S. government official said late Monday that federal intelligence officials were reviewing the online postings but had not independently confirmed their authenticity. WaPo
What makes a terrorist? It's not poverty. It seems Al Qaeda gave Farouk the validation that he so obviously needed. (WaPo says Farouk's postings are here) The media is talking a lot about how people become "radicalized," which sounds like a complicated process. But in reality, it doesn't seem to be. Radicalization seems to be misinterpreting a religion. I'm just thinking out lout at this point. NYU Professor Irshad Manji:

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Pawlenty Says Ponzi on the Potomac

I used to think Tim Pawlenty was one of the smarter republicans. But he's proven himself to be more of the same. I can't stand this sort of gassy rhetoric. I guess I'm all wingnutted out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Reason for Cheney's Silence Amid Terror News?

I was wondering today why Dick was so quiet. Sarah Palin too. But she's on a book tour.
Perhaps this is why we've heard nary a peep from Dick. The Bush administration let go the very terrorists alleged to be behind the underwear bomb plot. The terrorists were released in 2007 in Saudi Arabia for some art therapy. People don't realize, especially the wingnuts, that Bush-Cheney let go hundreds, 270 to be exact, of suspected terrorists from Gitmo. I don't think we should be pointing fingers, because there's plenty of blame to go around, but republicans ought to be working with the Obama administration, not piling on. If there's one place where politics doesn't belong, it's in national security:
Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials. Read more at ABC

Rachel Maddow's show pretty much sums up the inanity coming from the GOP:

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Update Dec. 31: Video of ABC's Brian Ross' correction. Only one of the Gitmo detainees was free to claim responsibility for the underwear bomb plot. The other had been captured:

The Marine Sentries of the West Wing

Another video in a series that looks inside the White House. Only four Marines are selected to be White House Sentries. These are some snazzy uniforms:

Obama Speaks on Iranian Rights

In Obama's earlier remarks regarding the underwear bomber, he also talked about Iran:

Obama Family Friend Injured in Hawaii

Apparently, the rumor mill is running at full speed. Everything is fine. No one tried to kill the president or the First Family or anyone. A child, on vacation with the Obamas, was hurt but is fine:
President Obama abruptly left the golf course Monday morning and returned to the home where he is staying in Lailua after the child of a family friend was reportedly injured there.

"The first family is fine," White House spokesman Bill Burton told the pool.

The child, whose father was golfing with Obama, was hurt in a "run-of-the-mill beach injury" and will require stitches, an official told the pool. More at Politico

Obama's Hawaiian Roots

In Hawaii, everyone's a minority.

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Obama's Remarks On Terror Attempt Dec. 28

Obama gives a briefing on what is known about the terror attempt so far and what's being done to prevent it from happening again. Obama's ordered a review of the watch list system and how it can be strengthened:

See photos of the underwear bomb here. Note, it's very repulsive.

Janet Napolitano Clarifies Her Statement on Terror Attempt

Janet Napolitano, who got ripped apart yesterday, clarified what she meant when she said "the system worked." I certainly didn't take it to mean that the system worked, especially after someone got through screening with explosives. Duh. But the media did and so did plenty of Obama critics. There are people with nothing better to do, who live day to day, just chomping at the bit to rip the Obama administration to shreds.
Napolitano got all kinds of criticism yesterday, from her hair to her gender. Sometimes Americans sure seem like common dimwits. People like Pete Hoekstra want the Obama administration to react with more emotion, to show some fear. But that's just not going to happen. Obama also gathers information before he speaks. He is expected to speak today.

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Republican Peter King is just scared. It's the conservative way. Hoekstra and others like him (wingnuts) simply believe that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer. They're nuts! I'm appalled that so many like King hold important positions in our government. He's just not helping the situation and his carping is making it worse. He's the ranking member of the Homeland Security committee! He's just as responsible as the Obama administration. He ought to be pointing fingers at himself. King says the administration is stonewalling but why would anyone want to provide information to these guys? For what purpose? How is King going to make this situation better? Obviously, he failed as a HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE MEMBER. After he gets done being a bore, he cracks a joke about Joe Scarborough:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Second Nigerian Man Arrested After Locking Himself in Plane Bathroom

Update: FBI gives the all-clear. A Nigerian businessman with a sick stomach gets dragged from the airplane bathroom, gets belligerent, but had no intentions of blowing up anything.
Investigators determine passenger was a businessman who became ill during the flight AP
All of the passengers are safe. The press doesn't know a lot at this time. CNN is reporting that a man locked himself in the bathroom for an hour on a Netherlands to Detroit bound Northwest flight. The man was questioned about his bathroom behavior and became belligerent. Apparently, the man said he was having stomach problems, which prevented him from leaving the bathroom when asked. No device was found on the passenger. At first glance, it looks like this guy could be a victim of heightened security:
Officials told NBC News the passenger refused to come out and may have had "stomach problems" that prevented him from leaving. The passenger became abusive when flight attendants opened the door and dragged him out, NBC News reported. MSNBC

Mousavi's Nephew Allegedly Killed in Iranian Protests

Security forces opened fire at crowds demonstrating against the government in the capital on Sunday, killing at least four people, including the nephew of opposition political leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, witnesses and Web sites linked to the opposition said.

"Ali Mousavi, 32, was shot in the heart at the Enghelab square. He became a martyr," the Rah-e Sabz Website reported. WaPo

Obama Isn't Giving Terrorists What They Want: Fear

Republicans like to elevate terrorists to worthy status.
They like their terrorists to be prominent. They like a good enemy. It goes along with their need to exploit people's fears. Conservatives seem to be motivated by fear. It rallies them to their causes. It's why they enjoy guns so much. It's a fake symbol of bravery.
Conservatives react to fear and they're just not getting the reaction out of Obama that they want. In light of a two-bit terrorist putting explosives in his underwear, they want Obama to thump his chest and proclaim the greatness of the United States.
They think Obama should end his vacation. Why should Obama give terrorists that sort of stature? That's exactly what the terrorists want. They want to command attention. They want the President of the United States to put all things aside and show some fear.
Instead, the Obama administration is doing the work of finding out what happened and fixing the problem. The Obama administration isn't giving the terrorists what they want.
I don't think conservatives are politicizing terrorism. Quite the opposite. I believe that they are genuinely fearful of the terrorists. They're afraid. It's their conservative nature. Folks such as Peter King and Pete Hoekstra are just playing into the terrorists' hands.

Gibbs and Napolitano on Meet the Press Dec. 27

Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano says the underwear bomber wasn't on a "watch list" as the media has been reporting. The media ought to be banned from providing information within the first 4 hours because they always get the facts wrong at the beginning of a story and then others build off the misinformation and the misinformation never goes away.
Napolitano says the underwear bomber was on another list that didn't trigger any concern. Gibbs says the list of various databases needs to be reviewed. I'll say, especially after his own father reported him as nutso. If the underwear bomber's name had only triggered a more thorough search at the airport, then this might not have happened. Watch Napolitano and Gibbs on This Week here.

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Gibbs on the underwear bomber:

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Gibbs on healthcare:

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