Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gibbons Loses, Domestic Partners Win in Nevada

Jim Gibbons has been called the "worst governor" and he's been making hay over Obama snubbing him.
On a 28-14 vote, the Assembly today overrode Gov. Jim Gibbons' veto of a bill to allow domestic partnerships in Nevada. With the override Saturday in the Senate, the domestic partners legislation will become law in Nevada on Oct. 1. The law allows same and opposite sex couples to secure domestic partnership contracts through the secretary of state's office. The contracts give couples the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. LVRJ

The Obamas Boost Broadway

See more video of the Obama night out in New York City here.

Operation Rescue Founder Says Tiller Mass Murderer

I'm telling you, this guy Randall Terry is a nut job. Terry is the same guy that led protests against Obama's appearance at Notre Dame. He called Obama an "agent of death." Language like that inspires the mentally unstable:
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, led protests against George Tiller's late-term abortion clinic in Wichita in 1991.
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue states, "George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.
"Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches." EM
Terry fails to call the murder of George Tiller murder. Earlier, Operation Rescue put out a statement saying they didn't condone violence. Read that here. But Operation Rescue is fairly radical and had a "Tiller watch" on their site, which is down now. This incident could be an example of right wing extremism, though we don't have a motive yet. 
Here is Obama's statement:
"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."
Eric Holder's statement:
"The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family "The murder of Doctor George Tiller is an abhorrent act of violence, and his family is in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic moment. Federal law enforcement is coordinating with local law enforcement officials in Kansas on the investigation of this crime, and I have directed the United States Marshals Service to offer protection to other appropriate people and facilities around the nation. The Department of Justice will work to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. As a precautionary measure, we will also take appropriate steps to help prevent any related acts of violence from occurring." USDOJ
The shooter is apparently Scott Roeder.

What Muslims Want to Hear From Obama's Speech

This story lays out the issues, ahead of Obama's speech on Thursday, pretty well:
Respect for Islam, a prescription for Palestinian statehood and assurances of a speedy U.S. pullout from Iraq - that's what Muslims from Morocco to Malaysia want to hear from President Barack Obama this week when he addresses them from this Arab capital.

His speech Thursday from Cairo University will try to soften the fury toward the United States among the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, ignited by the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the hands-off attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Obama's offer of a new beginning is seen as an attempt to stem the growing influence of extremists - particularly Iran, with its regional and nuclear ambitions - and to bolster moderate Muslim allies.
Obama "has to walk the talk," said social activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

But with rising hopes come the risk of disappointment. Obama isn't expected to present a detailed vision of a Mideast peace deal - potentially the most effective antidote to anti-Western sentiment - until later.

And there is doubt the U.S. president can change entrenched foreign policy, particularly what is perceived in the Muslim world as Washington's pro-Israeli bias. What Muslims see as America's repeated failure to hold Israel to its international obligations is a sore point. A construction freeze in Israeli West Bank settlements - Obama wants it, Israel rejects it - is shaping up as a major test. Read the whole thing at AP.
This is going to be a tough speech for wingnuts. After all, they've still got this ancient battle of the religions thing going on. I expect the rhetoric from the wingnut base to go into overdrive next week.
Check out an Arab opinion poll here.

Cuba Agrees To Talks With U.S.

Cuba has agreed to open talks with the United States on issues ranging from immigration to anti-narcotics cooperation and direct mail service , a senior State Department official said today, in a sign that the island's communist government is warming to President Obama's call for a new relationship after decades of tension.

The breakthrough came shortly before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left on a trip to Latin America, where she is expected to face pressure to make further gestures to Cuba, including allowing it into the Organization of American States.

A senior State Department official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, called the Cuban moves "a very positive development" and added: "It's our hope this will be understood in the region in a positive way."
Cuba had given mixed signals about how willing it was to respond to the Obama administration's overtures. But on Saturday, the State Department official said, the head of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, formally accepted a U.S. offer, made this month, to re-open talks on immigration that the Bush administration had halted in 2003. Those were the highest-level talks between the two sides.

Bolaños also expressed interest in an earlier U.S. proposal to work toward resuming direct U.S. mail service to the island, the official said. It has been years since such service existed.

In addition, the Cubans indicated they would like to explore the possibilities of additional dialogue on counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and disaster response, the official said. The U.S. and Cuban governments currently work together in an informal basis to stop drug runners.
Read more at WaPo

Wingnut Justice

To me, late-term abortions are horrible and shouldn't happen, unless the mother's life is at risk, but does that justify wingnut justice? No, it does not. What have the wingnuts accomplished? Absolutely nothing. They haven't furthered their cause. They've taken a life. Wingnuts are feeling emboldened, thanks to people like Rush Limbaugh being thrown up in clips by mainstream media. Apparently, there's been a long-running wingnut campaign against Tiller by O'Reilly and others. If wingnuts want to further their cause, they need to get a grip:
George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who was one of the few doctors in the nation to perform late-term abortions, was shot to death on Sunday as he attended church, city officials in Wichita said.

Dr. Tiller, who had performed abortions since the 1970s, had long been a lightning rod for controversy over the issue of abortion, particularly in Kansas, where abortion opponents regularly protested outside his clinic and sometimes his home and church. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion opponent but recovered.

He had also been the subject of many efforts at prosecution, including a citizen-initiated grand jury investigation. In the latest such effort, in March, Dr. Tiller was acquitted of charges that he had performed late-term abortions that violated state law.

The shooting occurred at around 10 a.m. (Central time) at Reformation Lutheran Church on the city’s East Side, Dr. Tiller’s regular church. NYT
The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue says it doesn't condone violence:
Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue issued a statement denouncing the shooting.

"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," said Troy Newman, Operation Rescue's president. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning." MSNBC
I know not all anti abortion groups (or pro lifers) condone violence but Operation Rescue is suspect. Randall Terry of Operation Rescue is the guy who led all the protests of Obama's speech at Notre Dame. The guy, quite frankly, is an idiot. He called Obama an "agent of death." The organization uses hateful language. What do these folks expect to get with their rhetoric and their ugly protests?

A Glimpse at the New Economy Post Recession

It will be much saner. Fingers crossed. The future looks bright, except for California, which is suffering from bigger woes, and could take much longer to turn itself around. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt talks about California's unique troubles:

Entire Meet the Press show:

Xerox CEO Says GM Bankruptcy Only Path

GM is expected to file for bankruptcy on Monday.
On Meet the Press, Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, says GM has no other path but bankruptcy.
That's because the auto industry destroyed itself. It's interesting that people are playing it as if Obama destroyed the auto industry. These weren't companies just teetering on bankruptcy. They were companies teetering on oblivion. They ran an entire U.S. industry into the ground with bad management that wasn't able to work effectively with organized labor. The Obama administration is working on saving an industry, not a couple of companies.

Obama's Joshua DuBois on Speaking of Faith

Krista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith, talks with Joshua DuBois, who heads Obama's office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Obama kept Bush's office but has changed it in key ways. Listen or watch the conversation here. Speaking of Faith is a great program, by the way. As someone who, depending on the day, leans toward Humanism, as opposed to organized religion, it's fascinating to hear about all different faiths and beliefs and how they merge with our lives. Krista sometimes talks to atheists or non believers, as well. Her show, while speaking of faith, talks a lot about economics and politics.

Sessions and Leahy Debate Sotomayor on Meet the Press

Republicans just don't get it.
And Rush Limbaugh is ruining politics, or rather the media is ruining politics by giving him a platform. I guess maybe it's republicans who are ruining politics choosing Rush as their guy. Who shares his views? Very very few. Many people just listen to him because they love to hate him. I'm tired of seeing clips of Limbaugh. His opinion is worthless.
Republicans really lost this battle. Sotomayor has enough votes to be confirmed. They should've just taken the higher road. Calling Sotomayor a racist is just sickening to me.
Jeff Sessions agrees with Rush. He just wouldn't use the word "racist." Watch that in the first clip. David Gregory didn't catch what Sessions meant. He kept asking the question over and over.
Sessions doesn't get what empathy means. That word really threw everyone for a loop. It simply means someone other than a white guy will be making important decisions on behalf of the nation. In order to achieve justice and fairness, you need to have diverse people representing. This "justice is blind" stuff is crap. We all know justice isn't blind. Blind justice is THE IDEAL but until we're ALL EQUAL, justice can't be equal. Empathy is an advantage on the court, not a negative, because only empathy aspires to fairness. I think Obama realizes that most Americans get it. 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Obama Boosting D.C. Restaurants

Every Day Super Bowl For Secret Service

Terrorist Interrogated With a Cookie Tells All

It wasn't a quid quo pro kind of thing--give me the cookie and I'll tell you all you want to know. It was a cultural awareness and a human awareness kind of a deal. After all, even terrorists are human. I'm convinced Cheney simply preferred torture.

Read the Time story here.

Stiglitz, Welch, Goolsbee Discuss Economic Future

Bloomberg gets insight from Joseph Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, Meredith Whitney of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group, Oliver Sarkozy of Carlyle Group, Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO and Austan Goolsbee, an Obama economic advisor.
Goolsbee says: "I didn't know this was rigged against me." Indeed. He's last to speak and everyone, including Stiglitz on the left, criticizes Obama's budget and economic plan. Stiglitz says the stimulus was too small.
Welch feels better about the economy and Whitney says it feels "less worse." Sarkozy says things are better but we're not out of the woods.
Both left and right believe that GM should've been allowed to fail. Goolsbee reminds everyone that Wall Street got us in this mess and that government is trying to fix it.

Part 2

ABC's Profile of Arianna Huffington

Huffington is right about journalism. It's not newspapers that need to be saved, but journalism itself that needs to be saved and strengthened. I wouldn't call the Huffington Post model journalism, however. But it's good at what it does.

Kennedy and Baucus Affirm Commitment to Healthcare Reform

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the HELP Committee, and Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Finance Committee, issued the following statement affirming their commitment to seek common ground on health reform legislation, despite some media reports to the contrary:

"For both of us, reforming the nation's health care system to cut cost, improve quality and provide affordable coverage remains the top priority on our two committees. We have worked together closely over many months and will continue to do so. We intend to ensure that our committees report similar and complementary legislation that can be quickly merged into one bill for consideration on the Senate floor before the August recess."
Thank you.

Taguba Says Telegraph Story on Rape Photos Partly Wrong

Robert Gibbs is pointing to a minor correction of a story by the Daily Telegraph that said the photos that Obama didn't want released were photos that included rape:
A number of you have asked about or reported on a recent article in the Telegraph that inaccurately described photos which are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. Both the Department of Defense and the White House have said the article was wrong, and now the individual who was purported to be the source of the article has said it’s inaccurate. Given that this false report has been repeated around the world, and given the impact these negative reports have on our troops, I felt it was important for you to see this correction.
Here is the Salon story Gibbs points to:
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba denied reports that he has seen the prisoner-abuse photos that President Obama is fighting to keep secret, in an exclusive interview with Salon Friday night.

On Thursday an article in the Daily Telegraph reported that Taguba, the lead investigator into Abu Ghraib abuse, had seen images Obama wanted suppressed, and supported the president's decision to fight their release. The paper quoted Taguba as saying, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."

But Taguba says he wasn't talking about the 44 photographs that are the subject of an ongoing ACLU lawsuit that Obama is fighting.

"The photographs in that lawsuit, I have not seen," Taguba told Salon Friday night. The actual quote in the Telegraph was accurate, Taguba said -- but he was referring to the hundreds of images he reviewed as an investigator of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- not the photos of abuse that Obama is seeking to suppress.
Taguba hasn't seen the photos that Obama doesn't want to release (Gibbs says those photos aren't characterized in the article) but Taguba's seen the other photos and the fact is prisoners were raped at U.S. detention centers, which is sickening. Anyone who defends torture is an arse.  
The Telegraph still has the story up with no corrections.

Obama's Walkback a Win For Newt and Limbaugh?

John Dickerson at Slate seems to think that Rush and Newt won the battle:
After calling some people in the administration, I've come to this conclusion: It doesn't matter that Sotomayor may still believe in better. The 32 words make sense in the context of the speech and the particular passage about sex and race discrimination cases, but we're in a political moment and there's no time for context. The full idea of her speech was not conveyed by those 32 words, and rather than have a long debate down in the weeds, the White House wants us all to have a nice weekend.
The walkback is a small victory for Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, who called Sotomayor a racist for her comments. These 32 words were not a surprise to the White House. If they'd anticipated a bad reaction, they would have issued today's walkback three days earlier. This doesn't mean that Sotomayor's nomination is in trouble. (Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who sits on the Senate judiciary committee, rebuked Gingrich today for his remark.) But the White House hedge means that the bomb throwers were effective on some level. Whether they succeed in snuffing out this debate depends on what Sotomayor says in her hearing. Has she given up on the idea that her experiences would make her a better jurist than a white male judge, more often than not, in sex and race discrimination cases? She'll have plenty of time to choose her words carefully.
But I don't believe that's the case at all, though I'm sure Rush and Newt have already added feathers to their cap. 

I think Obama was concerned that the level of conversation degenerated so much that he made a strategic move to effectively end that conversation so that we could all move on to another conversation. It was getting really ugly. Even republicans were calling on Newt and Rush to stop. Rational people know that Newt and Rush are off the deep end. They merely dragged their party deeper in the mud. 

Obama gave them a bone for the soundbite in question but not for Sotomayor in context. Newt and Rush really lost because they no longer have any ammunition. Who cares if they pat each other on the back. If we all stopped responding to Rush and Newt, they'd simply go away. But they know how to raise everyone's hackles and they're experts in using the media. 

Rational people know exactly what Sotomayor meant. Now, we'll get to hear about the stuff we should be hearing about, Sotomayor's cases and her professional life.

Republicans Wish Obama Well BUT

In the republican weekly address, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels says republicans really do wish Obama well (contrary to what Rush, Newt and the noisiest republicans say).

But this week, attacking the "Pelosi bill," (Henry Waxman introduced the bill) Daniels says the climate change bill is going to cost too much. He says it will double energy bills and cause major job losses.

Then he tries to appeal to ignorant people with the old: excuse me for being a practical Midwesterner who doesn't want to get run over by the liberals from California.

Cap and trade (read cap and trade 101) will cost us but not as much as republicans say. They've grossly exaggerated the costs (get a fact check here) because they still think Americans are mostly ignorant and will have a Pavlovian response whenever they mention taxes.

It will cost us more in the long run if we don't reduce our carbon emissions. Honestly, I don't think republicans have read any of the science because they simply don't believe in man-made climate change and those that do believe in global warming don't think anything can be done about it.

I don't think they've bothered to learn about environmental issues because it's just not their thing. Caring about the environment is NOT a core republican principle.

Read the latest version of the House energy bill here. The fact is we're going to have to have short term hurt for long term gain, something that Americans are still reckoning with. 

Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, calls republicans out on their scare tactics. In this case, he's responding to the republicans' new fear mongerer in charge, Dear Newt. Read about the 2007 cap and trade report Waxman talks about here:

Watch Waxman talk about the energy bill with Bloomberg News here.

Obama's Weekly Address May 29

This week's topic: Sonia Sotomayor


Friday, May 29, 2009

Obamas Visit New York to See a Play

Update: video below
The NYT says the Obamas are heading to New York City to take in a play Saturday night.
About the play:
The Lincoln Center Theater production of August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone, directed by Bartlett Sher, opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre (111 West 44 Street) on Thursday, April 16th.

The cast features Marsha Stephanie Blake, Chad L. Coleman, Michael Cummings, Aunjanue Ellis, Danai Gurira, Andre Holland, Arliss Howard, Ernie Hudson, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Amari Rose Leigh and Roger Robinson.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone, part of Mr. Wilson's ten-play Century Cycle, which depicts the African American experience in each decade of the twentieth century, originally opened on Broadway in 1988, receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Play and winning that year's New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Set in 1911, it tells the story of Herald Loomis who, after serving seven years hard labor, has journeyed North with his young daughter and arrives at a Pittsburgh boarding house filled with memorable characters who aid him in his search for his inner freedom. Rialto
The Obamas ate at the Blue Hill restaurant. See the review of the restaurant here. 

Following dinner at Blue Hill, a West Village restaurant touted by New York magazine as a "seminal Greenmarket haven" that features food grown by chef and owner Dan Barber on his upstate farm, the president and first lady were headed to the Belasco Theater to see "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

The play by August Wilson is about black America in the early 1900s, with residents of a boardinghouse recalling their migration from the sharecropping farms of the South to the industrialized North.

As the motorcade drove through the West Village, crowds of people gathered on the sidewalks of the blockaded streets to wave as he passed. The street in front of the Blue Hill was closed to passersby, with gates and security personnel keeping people away. MSNBC
Blue Hill's chef Dan Barber recently won a big chef award. Barber and Michelle Obama share the same desire to raise awareness of healthy eating:
Barber sees his cooking — which he calls American seasonal — as an effort to raise awareness about everyday food choices. At Stone Barns, which is set on a working farm, the menu is a simple list of fresh ingredients.
Barber, who was named one of the nation's best new chefs in 2002 by Food & Wine magazine, previously was recognized by the Beard Foundation as the top New York chef in 2006. He also was a finalist for the top chef last year.
The James Beard awards are the Oscars of the food world, and honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985.
Barber's award comes at a time when much is being made of the importance of reconnecting Americans with food at its source. For example, first lady Michelle Obama recently planted a vegetable garden at the White House, a move long sought by proponents of sustainable agriculture. NYDN
The motorcade en route to Blue Hill:

A photo montage of the Obamas' visit to New York City:

Obama Talks About Hurricane Readiness

Check out the hurricane ready website.

Michelle Obama Visits Bancroft Elementary School

Michelle Obama did some more gardening today at Bancroft Elementary School in D.C.:
She helped plant cucumber and red pepper seedlings in their garden, too.
Before slipping on the gardening gloves, Mrs. Obama listened as four students read from essays describing how much their relationship with her, their involvement with the White House garden and her message about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables means to them.
"It has inspired us to eat better, work harder and grow more vegetables," said fifth-grader David Martinez.
Involving the students in the White House garden was about more than just digging in the dirt, Mrs. Obama said.
"They've really learned some lessons about nutrition," she said, as the rest of their classmates and their parents listened from the sidelines. "They're making different choices because they're a part of the process of planting and tilling the soil and pulling up the food."
She held up the project an example of what can be done nationally with kids and nutrition, particularly at a time of rising obesity rates and illnesses in youngsters that have been attributed to being overweight. AP
See more photos here. I'll post video if it comes available. 
A photo montage:

Some Republicans Getting Sick of Rush, Newt

Reporting from Washington -- While prominent conservative activists are hurling epithets at President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, more and more Republicans are telling them to chill out.

Senior senators and GOP strategists are trying to steer the debate over Sonia Sotomayor away from the apocalyptic battle cries of conservative icons Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh in favor of a more measured conversation about the legal philosophy and qualifications of the first Latino to be nominated to the court.

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn (R- Texas), said in a radio interview aired today, condemning Gingrich and Limbaugh for calling Sotomayor a racist. "This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent." Read more at LAT
Even Michael Steele, in his very unique way, says some conservatives need to back off:
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele suggested Friday that Republicans hold off on "slammin' and rammin'" Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and instead recognize the "historic aspect" of her nomination.

While guest hosting the Bill Bennett radio show on Friday morning, Steele said he was "excited" to see a Hispanic woman in this position. CNN
Jeff Sessions says he's uneasy:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said today he was "uneasy" over allegations by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh that Sotomayor is racist. Sessions, who lost a 1986 bid for a federal judgeship amid concerns over his own racial sensitivity, said Republicans should focus on Sotomayor's legal record to try to divine what sort of a Supreme Court justice she would make.

"I'm uneasy," Sessions said in a 30-minute interview in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building. "I don't think that's good rhetoric. The question is, has the judge gone too far or not, given the established law of the land?" WaPo

Obama Pours Water on the Racist Rhetoric

Republicans have gone off the deep end, saying Obama hates white people and stoking all sorts of racial hatred. They're behaving in a despicable manner, especially Colorado's Tom Tancredo. What an absolute creep. 
But, as usual, Obama steps up to pour water on the situation and bring people back to reality.

The Michelle Obama Effect

J Crew is seriously up.

Ahead of Obama's Speech in Egypt: Arab Opinion Poll

Obama will address the Muslim world in Egypt with a major speech June 4. Ahead of that speech is a new poll, conducted by the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at University of Maryland, College Park, shows that Arabs aren't that hopeful about relations with the U.S., which gives Obama a lot of room for progress:
The most important consequence of their favorable views of President Obama appears to be expressed hope for American foreign policy in the Middle East. After a few weeks of the Obama administration, a majority in all countries, 51% (59% outside Egypt) expressed hopefulness about US Middle East policy, 28% were neutral, while only 14% were discouraged.

Expressed hopeful views, however, did not translate into immediate significant reevaluation of attitudes toward the US. 77% of Arabs still identify the United States as one of the two biggest threats they face (the other being Israel). But this is an improvement over 2008, when 88% of Arabs polled so identified the United States. Favorable views of the United States have not changed much since 2008, with the most important change being the decline of the number of people who have “very unfavorable views” of the US, from 64% in 2008 to 46% in 2009. Read more of the poll here.
They favor quick withdrawal from Iraq:
65% of Arabs polled (compared with 61% in 2008) believe that if the US withdraws its forces from Iraq as planned by the end of 2011, Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences. 72% believe Iraqis are worse off than they were before the Iraq war, but this is a decrease from 82% in 2008.
How they feel about Iran:
There are indications the criticism of Iran, particularly in Morocco and Egypt, is having some impact. 13% identify Iran as one of their two biggest threats (compared with 7% in 2008), and outside Egypt, 20% see Iran as one of the two biggest threats to them, compared with 11% in 2008.

58% believe Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, compared with 39% in 2008. Still, 53% believe that Iran has the right to pursue its nuclear program, while 40% believe Iran should be pressured to stop its program. But this marks a significant change from 2008, when only 22% supported international pressure to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
The leaders they admire most include Hugo Chavez:
The attacks on Hezbollah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah, especially in Egypt and Morocco, appear to be having an impact. In an open question to identify the leader they admire most outside their own countries, only 6% identify Nasrallah (in contrast with 2008, when he led with 26%). However, he maintains solid popularity in Jordan (21%). The net winner is Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, who was identified as the most admired leader with 24% of those polled (compared with only 4% in 2008).
They like Obama okay but are more thankful that he's not Bush:
Overall, 45% of Arabs polled have a favorable view of President Obama (50% outside Egypt), 28% are neutral, 24% have negative views. Remarkably, 79% of Saudis have a favorable view of President Obama and only 14% have negative views. Consistently, in all six countries, the negative views of the President are remarkably low.

These favorable views of President Obama, while remarkable in comparison to previous American presidents, do not yet indicate enthusiasm. Those whose opinions of the President are “very positive” are only 11%. When asked in an open question about leaders they admire most in the world, few choose President Obama as one of those leaders.

Views of President Obama appear to be at least in part personal, and not simply a reflection of “thank God it’s not Bush” attitudes. To be sure, President George W. Bush still shows up as the leader of the list of the two most disliked leaders, with 61%. But when asked about attitudes toward Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, more Arabs have negative views of her than positive views. Overall, 45% have negative views, 24% are neutral, and 22% have positive views.

Reporter Dragged Away Kicking From Air Force One

Brenda Lee, an Orange County, Calif. resident and reporter for the Georgia Informer, wanted to give Obama a letter railing against same sex marriage.
She says she was carried away because she's a woman and she's black. Hello? She sat down on the ground and protested. Read her letter here. Just another person using religion as a weapon of hate:
Same sex marriage is a GOD ISSUE not a Civil Right Issue. The pursuit of happiness and safety in the context of the law protects the human race not only individuals. GOD’S WRATHS, Aids and VD threatens the population at large. There has never been and never will be total happiness.
If only people practiced what their respective religions taught, we'd live in a wonderful world. Most of the world's conflicts are caused by people twisting and distorting religion for their own purposes. Ms. Lee is a hateful person. It's representatives like her that make people turn away from organized religion. I hope her White House credentials are pulled.

La Raza Defends Itself Against Tancredo's Idiocy

I think it's a fact, plain and simple, that some republicans don't like Hispanics. They've decided to blame the nation's ills on the Hispanic people.
La Raza in Spanish has a broader meaning than "the race," says Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza. Race means the people, the community, she said.

Noonan Tells Newt to Rest His Dancing Thumbs and Think

Haaaa Haaa! Hilarious. She's right. But Noonan's slap on the back of the hands will only serve to incite Newt, Rush, Beck and the republican "base."
And that's what the GOP should do right now: play grown-up.

The Democrats in the White House have been doing it since January, operating with a certain decorum, a kind of assumption as to their natural stature. Obamaland is very different from the last Democratic administration, Bill Clinton's. The cliché is true: White House staffs reflect their presidents. Mr. Clinton's staff was human, colorful, messy, slightly mad. They had pent-up energy after 12 years of Republican rule, and they believed their own propaganda that Republicans were wicked. They were oafish: One dragooned a government helicopter to go play golf. President Obama's staff is far less entertaining. They're smooth, impeccable, sophisticated, like the boss. They don't hate Republicans but think they're missing a few chips (empathy, logic, How Things Really Work). It is true they don't know what they don't know, but what they do know (how to quietly seize and hold power, for instance—they now run the American auto industry), they know pretty well.

But back to Sonia Sotomayor, which is my subject.

She is of course a brilliant political pick—Hispanic when Republicans have trouble with Hispanics, a woman when they've had trouble with women. Her background (public housing, Newyorican, Catholic school, Princeton, prominence) is as moving as Clarence Thomas's, and that is moving indeed. Politically she's like a beautiful doll containing a canister of poison gas: Break her and you die.
Barring extraordinary revelations, Judge Sotomayor is going to be confirmed. She's going to win. She does not appear to be as liberal or left-wing as others who could have been picked. She seems reminiscent of the justice she will replace, David Souter. She will likely come across in hearings as smart, spirited, a middle-aged woman who's lived a life of grit, determination and American-dream proving.
Axelrod reacts to some of the republican childishness over Sotomayor:

Obama Visits Five Guys Burgers With Brian Williams

Update: See  Inside the Obama White House June 2 here and June 3 here
Obama visits Five Guys. This is part of Brian Williams' A day in the life of the White House to be aired June 2 and June 3. 

Here's another snippet:

Obama Speaks On Cyber Security

Obama will appoint a cyber security official to oversee federal cyber policies. The person will be part of the economic council and the security staff. Read the cyberspace policy review here. Obama says he's committed to net neutrality, a free and open Internet.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gibbs Press Briefing May 28

Obama Wants to Know: What's Secret and What's Not

Obama has ordered a review of what documents are top secret and what can be declassified. His memo went out to national security adviser James Jones, Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano.
Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a private group that gathers and publishes declassified government documents and lobbies for more open government, applauded the memo.
"Sure, we could have hoped for the president to make decisions today," Blanton said, "but this is warp speed in bureaucratic terms." He noted that former President Bill Clinton took three years to revise the executive order on classification.
Blanton said the tasks assigned to the two studies and language in the memo make clear "the president's gut is in the right place. He's opting for transparency. This is about as clear a signal as you can get in a bureaucratic environment."
Among the tasks Obama set for Jones' study was to recommend whether to set up a National Declassification Center where officials from various agencies could work together on declassification of documents. Currently, there is a backlog of 51 million pages, scheduled for automatic declassification on Dec. 31, that have not been completely reviewed for release because the material had to be referred to as many as 10 different agencies for evaluation.
Obama also asked Jones to recommend whether to restore Clinton's "presumption against classification," that would bar classifying documents when there is significant doubt about the need for it. Bush eliminated that presumption Read the whole thing at AP

Obama's Conference Call With Volunteers

Everyone who participated in Obama's election campaign received an email notifying them of this call today. Obama gave a pep talk, touted the progress so far and stressed that healthcare reform needs to get done sooner rather than later.
Listen to the call here. Get involved here. The healthcare organizing kickoff starts June. 6

Obama and Abbas News Conference Video

Obama reiterates he's a believer in two-state solution.

Roxana Saberi Talks About Iranian Prison

Let me take you back just a bit to those interrogations in Evin prison. Can you describe what that was like? Was there any physical threat? Was it purely psychological threat?

I was under severe psychological and mental pressure, although I was not physically tortured. The first few days, I was interrogated for several hours, from morning until evening, blindfolded, facing a wall, by up to four men, and threatened, as I said, that I would be put in prison for 10 to 20 years or more or even face execution. And I was in solitary confinement for several days. The really difficult thing was they didn't let me tell anyone where I was.

For how long?

I never told anybody where I was. When I called my parents for the first time, my interrogators pressured me to tell my parents that I didn't know where I was, [that] I was somewhere in Tehran, but I didn't know where and that I had been detained for buying alcohol but that I would be freed in a few days. And they asked me to tell my parents, "Don't tell the media; don't announce it." They told me, "If your parents talk about it in the media, we won't free you." I later found out that the person who became my first attorney had gone to Evin prison and asked if I was there and was told no. So it took a long time for them to find out where I was. Listen to the whole interview at NPR

Gibbs Says Telegraph Lied About Torture Photos

Robert Gibbs says U.K.'s Daily Telegraph lied about the torture photos that showed rape of detainee soldiers. I posted that story yesterday and I've unposted it today. I don't want to be spreading malicious gossip. I'll wait til there's evidence. 

Obama to Attend G20 Summit in Pittsburgh

Robert Gibbs announced this at his press briefing today (I'll post when it's up).
The meeting will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Thursday 24 September and Friday 25 September.
April's G20 summit in London announced a $1.1tn (£691bn) rescue plan to help revive the world economy.
The September meeting is expected to monitor the implementation of the plan so far, and decide whether further measures are needed. BBC

GM to File for Bankruptcy June 1

A proposal by General Motors to let bondholders receive up to a 25 percent stake if they do not oppose its bankruptcy reorganization — a bigger share then G.M. offered the autoworkers union — has received the support of a group representing many of the company’s largest debtholders.

In a regulatory filing, G.M. also set Saturday afternoon as the deadline for other bondholders to support the plan. The company is expected to seek bankruptcy protection by Monday, the deadline set by the Obama administration.

“Unless a sufficient number of bondholders sign statements backing the plan, the amount of stock and warrants for bondholders would be “substantially reduced or eliminated,” G.M. said in the regulatory filing. A person briefed on the matter said G.M. was seeking support from investors holding about 50 percent of G.M.’s $27 billion in bond debt. The plan already has the support of about 35 percent, according to people briefed on the matter. NYT

Kucinich, one of five democrats who are disturbed by the auto task force (read about that here):

Wanda Sykes Talks About Michelle Obama on Leno

Wanda Sykes on how conservatives dance around racism.

Obama Speaks at DNC Fundraiser in Beverly Hills Video

Egypt Cites Change Under Obama Administration

Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit held a press conference. Hillary discusses North Korea as well:

Part 2: Hillary talks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process:

White Guys Like Newt Gingrich Don't Get Racism

Here's the statement that the White Guy Conservatives such as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh have shamefully glommed onto:
First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Read the sentence in context here.
Gingrich suggests if you flip the sentence to say "I would hope that a wise white man..." Gingrich would be called a racist. He would indeed.
But here's the thing. You can't just flip the sentence around because white guys rule the planet. White guy justice has ruled for centuries. That's not racist. That's truth. That is why there are laws AGAINST racism because the white population has been racist. That is why there are laws against hate crimes. That is why there are laws against pay discrimination. As times have changed and leaders emerge to enlighten us, our culture has changed, albeit slowly. But it's picking up speed because younger people don't see race or sex as barriers. 
Imagine if black judges, served on the courts when discrimination against blacks was the norm. Imagine how many court rulings might be different if Hispanic people, gay people, or people who had an other-than-white life experience sat on our judges' benches.
Justice would look a lot different.
People like to say justice is blind and that's true in the IDEAL world. That's what justice is supposed to be. But as a practicality, in modern world, we're still figuring out justice. That's why we need diversity on the Supreme Court.
Imagine if all of the Supreme Court judges were women when Lilly Ledbetter filed her case against Goodyear for not paying her the same as other male Goodyear managers. Women get it. They would've understood that, yes, males (white males) still make more money than women, all women, and that it was wrong for Goodyear not to pay her equally. Instead, the mostly male judges ruled that Ledbetter filed her case too late.
Unless everyone is on equal footing, you can't start at a point of blind justice.
The reality is, white guys rule but white guy rule is fading and instead of viewing that as progress, old white guys such as Limbaugh and Gingrich feel threatened. They're sort of clueless and they make the same reverse discrimination arguments that KKK members make, or as they like to call themselves now, advocates for "white pride." In fact, their lack of understanding is precisely the reason why the republican party is fading. They don't see the advantage of diversity. They don't understand what it might bring to the party. They talk a good game but for them, white guy rule is A-Okay.
They feel threatened, like a species on its way to extinction. Indeed, their kind of mentality is on its way to extinction. 
Instead of signing up to the reality of a changing world and sharing in the joy of black people, Hispanic people, gay people and others coming to power in a more equal society, they're fighting to hang on to power with all the might that they have, which unfortunately, is still considerable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Schwarzenegger on Gay Marriage, Budget, Rush, Governator

GM Bankruptcy Not So Bad

This is the first somewhat upbeat story I've read on the future of GM and Chrysler, which most people seem to think are doomed no matter what. This story is from Fortune mag:
Up until a few months ago, bankruptcy for the corporate giant was nearly unthinkable. Former CEO Rick Wagoner all but refused to utter the word, so convinced was he that it would be fatal to customers' confidence in GM's brands.

Now, maybe, it doesn't look so bad. GM (GM, Fortune 500) is still selling cars and trucks, despite all the bad news associated with the company. And Chrysler is on the verge of exiting from its bankruptcy in record time. Already, we are told, the new guys from Fiat are getting ready to make over the company and blitz consumers with new and improved Italian-American products. Perhaps bankruptcy is a good thing.

But let's pause for a minute and think about what a post-bankruptcy GM will actually look like. You must read the rest

FBI and Justice to Have Bigger Counter Terrorism Role

The FBI and Justice Department are significantly expanding their role in global counter-terrorism operations, part of a U.S. policy shift that will replace a CIA-dominated system of clandestine detentions and interrogations with one built around transparent investigations and prosecutions.

Under the "global justice" initiative, which has been quietly in the works for several months, FBI agents will have a central role in overseas counter-terrorism cases. They will question suspects and gather evidence to ensure that criminal prosecutions are an option, officials familiar with the effort said.

Though the initiative is a work in progress, some senior counter-terrorism officials and administration policy-makers envision it as key to the national security strategy President Obama laid out last week -- one that presumes most accused terrorists have the right to contest the charges against them in a "legitimate" setting. Read the rest at LAT

Children of the Taliban

This documentary was fascinating.
Correspondent Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy shows exactly how new Taliban are made. Essentially, these children (boys) of Aghanistan have no choice but to become Taliban when they grow up. They don't have any hopes of a job or any kind or any educational opportunities. They are brainwashed early. The Taliban views children as "sacrificial lambs." The girls and women are merely dirt. Taliban destroyed the girls' schools.
This video should be required viewing. Watch the whole show here. There are no easy answers in that part of the world. It's a nutty circle of extremism breeding extremism.

Gibbs Says North Korea's Saber Rattling Press Briefing May 27

Gibbs discusses Sonia Sotomayor, General Motors, North Korea and other stuff. The press corps tries to play gotcha. At the very end, Lester Kinsolving asks about Obama's birth certificate. Gibbs giggles. Silly birthers.

Joe Biden's Teleprompter Falls in the Wind

The media is calling this a "jab" at Obama but it doesn't seem that way to me. I think the media, in this case, Politico, is bored. They now seem to be trying to create a rift between Obama and Biden. I guess Biden is an easy target. Obama and Biden seem to get along swimmingly if you ask me. Frankly, all these petty little distractions, while North Korea is threatening to blow up the world and Pakistanis are living in refugee camps and Americans are recovering from an economic slump....., are maddening. 

Carville Vs. Rove

I don't like either of these guys-- Karl Rove or James Carville, but have at it. They're both sucking up too much air, not serving any other useful purpose other than pure entertainment: 

Obama's DNC Fundraiser in Los Angeles

Update 5-28: See the video here.
Following last night's fundraiser in Las Vegas and today's trip to Nellis Air Force Base, Obama is attending a fundraiser for the democratic party in Beverly Hills tonight and then he'll return to Washington. Next week Obama will be traveling to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere.
Jennifer Hudson is supposed to perform tonight.
The president will appear with some well-known celebrity hosts tonight at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for the Democratic Party expected to raise about $3 million.

"Obama promised to bring people together,'' the L.A. Times' Tina Daunt notes, "and he'll certainly be doing that tonight, when former DreamWorks partners Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen reunite to co-host dinner with President Barack Obama. Swamp
Gay marriage advocates are picketing in LA.

Hillary Welcomes Roxana Saberi Home

Hillary Speaks on North Korea

Read more at the state department here.
Russia favors strong consequences for North Korea:
Russia has come out in favour of a tough United Nations resolution against North Korea following its recent nuclear and missile tests. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the move was not designed to lead to military confrontation and that a diplomatic solution to the problem must be found.

Russia has traditionally joined China in refusing to criticise North Korea but has categorically condemned Pyongyang's latest nuclear test. The UN Security Council is discussing a new resolution on North Korea and the United States is pushing for tough sanctions to be imposed.

North Korea, meanwhile, appears to be ignoring the widespread international criticism and has resumed work at its Yongbyon nuclear plant. The plant can produce plutonium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Radio Netherlands

South Korea is playing down North Korea's threats. Apparently, they're used to it:
South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, lauded his people on Wednesday for their “mature response” to the North’s behavior. He noted that the North’s nuclear test and its six subsequent short-range missile launchings did not affect stock and foreign exchange markets beyond initial jitters.

Seoul, the South Korean capital, with a population of 10.4 million, is just 35 miles from the North Korean border and within the range of North Korean missiles and artillery. But most South Koreans and foreign investors here are accustomed to threats from the North and usually react calmly. NYT

Obama Talks Solar Power at Nellis Air Force Base Video

Peter Souza
See the recovery act report Obama talks about here.

Obama's Fundraiser Speech in Las Vegas Video

Obama is at Nellis Air Force Base today.
Read what time he'll speak here. Last night he headlined Caesars Palace to help out Sen. Harry Reid and tonight he'll be in Los Angeles for another fundraiser.
At Reid's fundraiser, Obama also took time to talk about Sonia Sotomayor: "Nobody can say she's not qualified to be on the Supreme Court."

The usual Obama's plane lands footage:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gibbs Press Briefing May 26

Gibbs announces Obama's stopover in Saudi Arabia with King Abdullah June 3 before moving on to Egypt, June 4. See Obama's travel plans here.
Friday, May 29: Obama will release a cyberspace policy review report.

Obama's Offensive on Sotomayor

If you haven't noticed, the Obama team is on an all-out offensive supporting Sonia Sotomayor's nomination. Republicans don't stand a chance and if you wanted, between now and August, you could sit out on the drama because she will be confirmed. See the announcement here.

Iran Condems North Korea's Nuclear Program

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned North Korea's nuke program but didn't want to comment on Iran's own. Also, Ahmadinejad faces strong opposition in his re-election bid:

RNC's Cute New Obama Card Ad

Who watches these ads? I only ever see them on youtube.

Let the Sotomayor Games Begin!

Can you believe controversies of all sorts are already swirling? People were armed and ready. Know that the republicans said they were going to be trolls even before Obama made his pick.
I've also heard people say she isn't Hispanic enough because she's Puerto Rican, not Mexican. Oh bother.
I'm not going to pay attention to all of this "controversy" here on out because in the end (unless she hasn't paid back taxes or some other skeleton pops up), she will be confirmed. So what's the point?

Anita Dunn will be pushing Sotomayor's confirmation:

Watch more controversy here.
Listen to Sen. Orrin Hatch vent his fears.
Watch a conservative call her "radical" and "not that smart."
At least Bob Schieffer approves.