Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Be Gone


The snow, rain & ice even has our bamboo trees drooping. The holidays are over and spring feels like it will never come. It's that time of year when the winter doldrums have arrived.

So, when the call came last night, it wasn't just welcome news for my husband. My brother called to say that he had 2 tickets to the Super Bowl, and that means that he & my husband will be headed to Tampa this week-end to see the Steelers. My sister-in-law's family has connections and they managed to score tickets. My husband is, shall we say, ecstatic -- he's a big Steeler's fan, after all.

And I'm not staying behind, that's for sure! I'm certainly not going to the game, but we'll fly into South Florida and I'll be tagging along so I can spend a long week-end with my daughter, who's back in school in Miami. And I'll also get to visit my parents, who are there for the winter.

Ever since they won the playoff game, my husband has been rooting for Sixburgh:

(Cartoon via Rob Rogers)

Cartoon of the Day


Ed Stein, Rocky Mountain News

The Legacy Lives


One of my favorite bloggers (who is also a pretty good journalist, I might add) has just published a new book on the legacy of another former President, Ronald Reagan.

Will Bunch, who writes Attytood, is a daily read for me. Discussing his new book, Bunch describes his literary effort, in Why Reagan still matters: A sneak peek at "Tear Down This Myth":

Jan. 20, 2009, was such a transformative day in American politics that it was easy to forget it also marked a 20th anniversary as well. The inauguration of President Barack Obama also meant it was two decades to the exact day since Ronald Reagan last sat in the Oval Office. When he and his wife Nancy boarded the Air Force One jetliner – the one that was later decommissioned, de-assembled and reassembled at the Ronald Reagan Library (and mostly paid for by oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens) – for the long trip back to California, it wasn’t clear how the world would remember Reagan’s presidency.

For the majority of his second term, Americans told pollsters that the nation was on a wrong track, and in 1987 a 55-percent majority said we needed a new direction away from Reagan’s often divisive policies. But in little more than five years after leaving Washington, the Great Communicator would be silenced by Alzheimer’s -- and a new generation of neoconservatives would construct a mythologized, iconic version of the 40th president that increasingly bore little resemblance to the flesh-and-blood Ronald Reagan. It is that modern version – and warped policies that could be collectively called Reaganism – that has given us an unfathomable national debt, a wide gulf between the nation’s rich and poor, the denial of basic science on energy and the environment, and which was even used to justify an unjustifiable war in Iraq that the real Gipper himself would never undertaken.

Twenty years gone – but Reagan still matters. About this time one year ago, unceasing Reagan idolatry hijacked the race for the White House. Sometimes it was voiced in the name of policies on immigration or toward Iran that were the exact opposite of what really happened a generation ago. The power of this political fantasy – expressed mainly, of course, on the GOP side but occasionally even spilling over to the Democrats – caused me to begin work on a book about the Ronald Reagan myth.

As I've said before in another context: "I'm sure that it won't come as a shock to anyone who knows me that I've never been a fan of the Reagans. The Dear Departed Ronald Reagan was a so-so actor and he never rose that far during his presidency. See e.g., The Race Goes On and Truth is Complicated -- For Republicans. Of course, the fact that he suffered from Alzheimer's during at least a portion of his term in office didn't help." And then, of course, there's Reagan's racist legacy that somehow isn't part of the myth. See Hatefest.

For most people (even some Democrats, I'm afraid), however, Ronald Reagan has become this mythical, legendary figure. It's nothing more than the great myth at work.

Yet, as I read Bunch's words on Reagan, I was suddenly struck by the thought that the legacy tour that Bush began even before he left office is his attempt to adopt the Reagan model of mythology. As much as I've snickered about Bush's "history will judge my presidency" rap, I realized that the re-writing of history for Bush has only just begun, a la Reagan. Bush was able to sneer at us to the end because he knows the tendency of the American public to forget the past. And then it hit me -- it could happen with him as well if we aren't vigilant. Of course, the Republicans excel at telling tales. After all, the whole myth of modern conservatism is nothing more than a tall tale. See The Faustian bargain.

My husband is an advocate of remembering history and its importance to our future. As he would say, it's important for us to remember the real story. History is not merely a subject we study in high school. It's what happened yesterday -- and the day before.

I ordered my copy of Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future today.

Dear New-Me

I wondered if we'd every find out what was said. As is the tradition, ex-President Bush left a few last words for his successor, Barack Obama, in a letter that was left in the oval office desk drawer.

The Progressive got the exclusive on the letter left by GWB for President Obama.

As they said, in Text of George W. Bush's Letter to Barack Obama:

Just Released: Text of George W. Bush's Letter to Barack Obama, which Bush placed in the top drawer of the Oval Office desk, as is customary.

The letter:


Arlen, We Really Knew Ye

After all of the huffing and puffing & threats to blow the (white) house down, once again Arlen Specter ends up going voting with the current Administration, after creating his usual fuss and kerfuffle first. See, e.g., Puff the Magic Dragon.

As TPM so aptly puts it, Specter: Psych! I'll Back Holder:

It may be time to coin the phrase "pulling a Specter," because Sen. Arlen Specter (PA), the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, just did it again. After making a huge fuss questioning the independence of Eric Holder, Specter just caved and said he'll support the attorney general nominee.

"I can say with some confidence that there won't be a successful filibuster," Specter told reporters at a press conference gathered to share his thoughts on Holder in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary panel vote on the nominee.

Specter added that the strong recommendations Holder received from former FBI director Louis Freeh and former DoJ No. 2 James Comey were influential in swaying his vote.

"At no time did I challenge Mr. Holder's integrity," the Pennsylvania senator concluded. (But he sure came close, according to Holder himself.) "It was a question of judgment."

See also, Eric Holder Wins Backing of Key Republican.

Best of all, the Inky published a Letter to the Editor from Specter on the very day he announced his intention to vote for Holder, strongly suggesting that he would oppose him. See, Letters: Taking Exception.
FBI Director Louis Freeh said the Marc Rich pardon was a "corrupt" act. He, as well as the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons, objected to releasing from jail the FALN terrorists. As deputy attorney general, Holder recommended both. He also objected to the appointment of independent counsel to investigate Vice President Al Gore's fund-raising. Freeh said he "couldn't think of a more compelling case to go to an independent prosecutor." The American people deserve Holder's explanations.
Gee, if all that's true, you would think Holder would be a terrible choice for AG and that Specter should vote his conscience against him. But, of course, that presumes that he has a conscience. And Arlen, We Really Knew Ye, so we know better.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ta-Ta Toomey

The 2010 Senate race in Pennsylvania for the seat currently held by that piece of puffery Arlen Specter continues to provide interest and speculation. See Puff the Magic Dragon for my previous essay on the state of the race.

First there was the "will he, won't he" chatter of Chris Matthews, dangling the possibility of a move back to Philly to enter the race on the Democratic ticket. Luckily for us, he decided to stay on Hardball, where we can just change to channel to avoid his jiber-jabber.

On the Republican side, Specter's biggest opponent was thought to be Pat Toomey. However, the Pennsylvania Ave blog of the Allentown Morning Call reports the latest, Toomey bags Senate run, takes steps in possible guv bid:

Former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey has decided against a repeat run for Senate in 2010, turning instead toward a possible bid for governor as he reaches out to Republicans statewide to assess his potential candidacy next year.

Toomey, president of the anti-tax group The Club for Growth, is scheduled to sit down with several influential and deep-pocketed Lehigh Valley Republicans in early February to “discuss his thinking of a possible gubernatorial run,” according to an e-mail invitation sent out Friday on behalf of Arcadia Properties founder Richard Thulin.

He has also put calls out statewide to supporters this week with the aim of raising money to do some preliminary polling.

At the same time, Toomey has dropped consideration of a repeat run for Senate in 2010.

In a statement, Toomey said he has had “several preliminary conversations with supporters of mine regarding a possible run for governor in 2010.”

“Given the state of Pennsylvania’s economy and the disastrous state budget deficits we face, there certainly is a need for major changes in Harrisburg,” Toomey said. “It is still very early in my exploration of a possible run but it is something I will consider.”

As The Politico notes, Toomey not taking on Specter:

This is welcome news for Specter, who is already facing the prospect of a tough re-election and didn't want to have to grovel to the GOP's conservative base to win the nomination. Specter still could face a primary challenger, but Toomey would have been the most credible opponent (he won 49 percent against Specter in 2004).

With the way this race is going, I wouldn't be surprised if the next name mentioned is Rick Santorum. He's definitely an ideological soulmate to Toomey, who can easily capture the diminished Republican vote in Pennsylvania during the primary, which is heavily tilted conservative, since the moderates abandoned the party in recent years.

Santorum has spent the last several years amassing hugh amounts of money since he was defeated during his last Senate run, Frick & Frack, but he has kept his name around in Pennsylvania, sullying the op-ed pages of the Inky. Wouldn't surprise me if the two former political friends engaged in a face-off.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Kirk Walters, Toledo Blade

Bush League Leftovers

The Bush White House went to great lengths to destroy the functioning of government in myriad ways and one of its crown jewels was the politicization of the Department of Justice. See RTAs 'R Us at Justice. Lawlessness was only law that the Bushies followed faithfully.

In typical Bush-speak, two of the most infamous partisan hacks in the DOJ have used their political vendettas as the very justification for them to continue.

Scott Horton has penned an excellent must read piece in The Daily Beast on these troublesome terrors, Why Two Bush Appointees Are Refusing to Leave, noting:

An internal report issued this week by the Justice Department brought attention to the Bush Administration’s efforts to “burrow” partisan ideologues deep in career civil service positions at the department. But even a few of Bush’s political appointees at Justice are giving the new Obama administration trouble. Though their lease may technically run out on January 20, U.S. Attorneys Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh and Alice Martin of Birmingham are resolved to stay in their posts. The Daily Beast has learned that both are arguing to the Obama transition team that their efforts to convict Democrats should guarantee them an extended stay into the Obama presidency.

In their scathing report, Justice Department investigators concluded that former Civil Rights Division acting head Bradley Schlozman attempted to purge the division of those suspected of liberal sentiments and to replace them with fellow neoconservative ideologues, whom he called “comrades.” During the Bush terms, nearly two-thirds of the professional staff of the Civil Rights Division left and new hires were—in violation of criminal statutes—carefully vetted for partisan political fidelity. Notwithstanding the Inspector General’s recommendation that criminal action be brought, Schlozman will not be prosecuted. Bush Justice Department officials continue their perfect record of impunity, refusing to initiate criminal actions against partisan Republicans found to have broken the law by politicizing the Department.

I've written about Mary Beth Buchanan before and her adherance to the GOP party line, The Devotee. In fact, the partisan prosecution of Cyril Wecht of Pittsburgh earned the ire of former Governor Dick Thornburgh, a Republican, who testified in Congress against conduct of Buchanan. The Party's Out of Step. And the fact that she's a crony of former Senator Santorum -- need I say more? She was, of course, in good company in a department stacked with the likes of Martin and other disreputible US Attorneys. See The Face of a "Loyal Bushie".

As blogger SusieQ explains, Loyal Bushies At DOJ Are In Denial…Refusing To Leave!:
George W. Bush will leave the White House for good on Tuesday, but two controversial U.S. attorneys appointed by him have no intention of leaving the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh, a member of the conservative Federalist Society who is close to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, pledged last month to remain in her post.

And U.S. Attorney Alice Martin of Birmingham, whose conduct has been the subject of repeated investigations by Congress and the Justice Department’s ethics office, several of which are still pending, will stay on in her post, The Daily Beast reported Friday.

“With the new administration approaching, [Martin] made clear her desire to hold on to her post as U.S. attorney for another year of prosecutions,” the Daily Beast wrote. “Her Kafkaesque argument: she is targeting corrupt Democratic politicians and investigating others. Therefore, her removal under these circumstances and replacement by an Obama appointee would be ‘unseemly.’”
Unseemly describes what the Bushies did to Justice. As UM Law Professor Michael Froomkin of Discourse.net says, People Unclear on the Concept:
Scott Horton, Why Two Bush Appointees Are Refusing to Leave, describes the incredible story of U.S. Attorneys Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh and Alice Martin of Birmingham — both highly partisan and dubiously ethical — who although they serve at the pleasure of the President refuse to hew to custom by tendering resignations, and either think they can bluff Team Obama into not firing them or see some partisan value in being fired rather than going quietly.

It had better not work. There is a place for holdover US Attorneys — when they’re really good and genuinely non-partisan. Patrick Fitzgerald, for example. But ladies, you’re no Patrick Fitzgerald.
Dan Abrams concurs. He notes in Obama Should Clean House at Justice:
[I]t's time to redirect and thoroughly disinfect the tattered department. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder had this to say about the DoJ a year ago: 'There is a crisis of confidence that the nation has with regard to the department.' Okay, so why not start anew when he takes charge?

It's hardly radical to suggest that Obama replace these political appointees. Bill Clinton did it. So did Bush. But it's also not even remotely hypocritical to recognize the basic difference between the Bush team firing eight U.S. Attorneys because they had the audacity to retain their independence and refused to allow the administration to manipulate them, and a new President making a broad decision to name all new political appointees to new terms. One is corrupt, the other is, well, politics. (Assuming there is such a distinction at all.)
So far, they aren't budging and the new Administration has given them a stay. Local U.S. attorney staying on for now. I hope it's only until Eric Holder is confirmed as Attorney General. After all, of all people, they should be the first to go. As a Commenter to a piece by Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly said:
Aside from all the illegally hired Federalist Society wingnuts now borrowing into career DoJ positions, look at the jaw droppingly brazen attempts by Mary Beth Buchanan and Alice Martin, two of the most egregious of the politicized U.S. Attorneys, to remain in their posts past January 20. Although these are political appointments that almost invariably change as a matter of course with a new Administration, these two are refusing to submit the traditional letter of resignation. Their rationale? They are needed to conduct retrials of Democrats that juries refused to convict (in prosecutions that were so obviously politically motivated as to be almost comical). Buchanan and Martin are about as far from Patrick Fitgerald (who, in a break from tradition, almost certainly will be retained) as Kenneth Starr was from Archibald Cox. Should Obama actually summon the cojones to fire these two (and while a failure to do so should strike anyone familiar with these USAs' record as shocking, I would not put it past Mr. Post-partisan Kumbaya), expect the Rethugs to highlight this as not only a betrayal of Obama's campaign pledge of bipartisanship, but evidence of Democratic corruption. Utterly ridiculous, of course, but still prime fodder for our know nothing media.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cartoon of the Day


Tom Toles, NYTimes

Justice Blinked


45 days, less time served.

That was the sentence handed down in the case of Mia Sardella, the Drexel University freshman whose newborn son was found in the trunk of her car exactly two years ago. An anniversary gift, of sorts. It was also just one of many ironies in a case that many believe shows that justice is only blind if you are poor.

A sad ending to a sad case.


"Unconventional" is the way the Inquirer described it, in Woman gets weekend jail in infant death:

After listening to tearful, impassioned pleas for probation for a 20-year-old Drexel Hill woman accused of killing her newborn son, a Delaware County Court judge imposed an unconventional prison term: 21 1/2 weekends.

* * * *
[Judge] Jenkins sentenced Sardella to nine months to two years, less a day, on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. The judge said Sardella must spend 45 days in prison, in 48-hour increments, and will get credit for the two days she has served. The remainder of the nine months will be house arrest, followed by 15 months of probation.
As the Delaware County paper reported, U.D. woman sentenced to 21 weekends in jail:
Exactly what occurred to Sardella’s infant son at the time of his Jan. 1, 2007, birth remains a question mark, as prosecution and defense experts differ over whether the child was stillborn or born alive and died from asphyxiation.

The body of Sardella’s infant son was found by her mother stuffed in a duffel bag in a car trunk — exactly two years ago to the day Thursday.

The dark-haired, diminutive Sardella, 20, of Upper Darby, was sentenced Thursday to serve 21 weekends in jail to be followed by nine months house arrest, and two years of service helping girls so they avoid doing what she did.

Besides the weekend jail sentence, Judge Patricia Jenkins ordered that Sardella is to contribute time to Project Cuddle, a California-based organization that helps girls consider alternatives to baby abandonment or death.
The Inquirer provides a summary of the tortured history of this case, Woman sentenced in baby’s death:
Sardella was sentenced two years after police pulled a dead newborn male from a duffle bag in a Drexel Hill car trunk. Police said Sardella, who was a Drexel University freshman at the time, concealed her pregnancy and gave birth while she was home on Christmas break. She hid the infant's body in the trunk of her Volkswagen Beetle, according to police.

Sardella initially faced a first-degree murder charge after Delaware County Medical Examiner Fredric N. Hellman concluded in May 2007 that the baby was alive at birth and died of asphyxiation.

In October 2007, the District Attorney's Office backed off that finding and withdrew the first-degree murder charge.

She pleaded no-contest in December to involuntary manslaughter, abuse of a corpse, and concealing the death of a child.
I had predicted that Sardella would receive little or no time (other than the house arrest that she has been under) when all was said and done. See It's No Contest. A case of the right kind of Justice for Just Us. The case has received national attention -- and criticism over the handling of the case. the Inquirer noted,

"The outcome is appropriate," Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino said of the sentence.

Galantino said he believed his office could have proved the murder charge, but he said the evidence suggested "this defendant's conduct was more reckless than malicious."

Galantino and Donato denied accusations from police and the public that Sardella received preferential treatment because she is a granddaughter of Albert E. Piscopo, chief executive of the Glenmede Trust Co. The investment firm manages high-end portfolios, including the assets of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

I have followed this case from the beginning. See, e.g, Different Strokes for Different Folks, Momma Mia and Mini Mia. And I have said many times before that the case is heartbreaking. Not only because of the loss of life of her infant son, but the life of a young woman who make a tragic mistake that she will pay for well beyond the sentence served. Yet many others have done far less, but receive the harsh hand of justice, merely because they are less fortunate.

The moral of the story is simple: the quality of mercy is much better if you come from the right place.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

Reverend Joeseph Lowery


________________

This little song that I'm singin' about
People you know it's true
If you're black and gotta work for a living
This is what they will say to you

They says if you was white, should be all right
If you was brown, stick around
But as you's black, m-mm brother, git back git back git back

From Black, Brown And White (B. B. Broonzy)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day to Remember


It was most fitting that I watched the inauguration with the LLWL Gang, after all of our political discussions throughout the election season. We gathered at the home of one of our members, watched the swearing in, and we then enjoyed a lunch (natch) of ham, along with honey, cheese and fruit. We are the Lady Lawyers Who Lunch, after all. We ended the lovely day with a birthday cake for one of the gang, who shares a birthday with Michelle Obama.

Cartoon of the Day


Kirk Walters, Toledo Blade

The Alternative Invocation

As part of the Inaugural services today for the swearing in of President Obama, Rick Warren will deliver the invocation. Warren is a conservative mega-minister who spreads a message of God that is too often unforgiving and hateful. Of course, he is not alone in his religious belief and vision that is mean-spirited. These clergy preach a version of faith for the soulless.

Quaker Dave at The Quaker Agitator has set up a blog for The Alternative Invocation, asking bloggers:

We ask that you post a message of compassion, empathy, tolerance, diversity, and true Christian (or other) love to America. Post a message that stands in opposition to the messages that Rick Warren and those of his particular political persuasion use to divide our country.

Truly, the best Alternative Invocation is that of the Prayer delivered by Reverend Gene Robinson at the Lincoln Memorial.

And then there is this:



As we all know, the times, they are a changin'. Thanks to Blue Gal.

______________________

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not very religious. With that caveat in mind, here are my thoughts:

Hope & Change.

Those were the words upon which President Obama premised his campaign. Hope and change is what he promised us if we entrusted him with our faith in him to lead us going forward. Hope for the future and change in our ways.

Of course, many of the grave problems that we face today are the result of us having lost our way. Greed, power and self-interest became the mantra by which we lived. It has led to war, economic distress and a national depression in spirit and in deed. As we now know, that is not the way.

My prayer today is one of hope and change for the country, its people and its faith in God.

As the country has lost its way, so have many of its Churches. Religion has all too often become a microcosm of Wall Street, with a cross replacing the dollar sign. Greed, power and self-interest have replaced charity, mercy and love of fellow man.

Sermons of priests and ministers preaching that we judge our fellow man is not what God -- or Jesus -- asked of us. Forgiveness requires mercy, not condemnation. Dogmatism in the name of religion has fostered divisiveness and hatred. Christianity is no longer Christ-like.

I hope that we once again separate Church and state. As the country has been divided politically, so has the Christian religion. The Church has become as partisan as the nation. Politics is God, according to the sermons. We need change in our Churches and hope in our hearts and souls instead.


What is religion if not a belief and hope that we have the power to change -- for the better? Let us remember the true foundation of faith in God.

Love thy neighbor as thyself. Turn the other cheek. The meek shall inherit the earth.

Let us hope, and pray, for change.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Invisible Invocation




From Christianity Today, the video of Gene Robinson, who began the inaugural kick-off at Lincoln Memorial, Gay Bishop Kicks off Celebrity-filled Event. Unfortunately, the invocation was missing from the HBO broadcast of the event.

As the Huffington Post reports, Gay Bishop Gene Robinson Left Out Of HBO Concert Coverage:

Sunday's big Lincoln Memorial show was billed as the "We Are One" concert, intended to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama with a spirit of unity. But for those of us watching at home, one participant was excluded -- Gene Robinson, the "first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination." Robinson was on hand to deliver an opening prayer to the event, but this prayer went unseen by anyone watching on HBO, who provided and sponsored the coverage.
Although originally it appeared that HBO omitted Robinson, as the day wore on, both HBO and the Inaugural Committee have been blaming each other for the omission. I'm not sure we'll ever find out who was really responsible, but I have to wonder: if HBO had nothing to do with keeping Robinson off the show, then why did they neglect to identify the Gay Men's Chorus. Yet, they managed to name all of the other groups. Who could have prevented HBO from figuring out the name of the chorus?

And apparently, HBO is acting like the big bully, preventing any on-line videos of the performances at the Lincoln Memorial, claiming they have exclusive rights to the broadcast. Nice -- a public event celebrating the inauguration of our nation's new president belongs to some cable company? See Very Poor Choice.

In any event, here's the Prayer:
“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears – tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."
Finally, Gene Robinson spoke about his invocation at NPR.

This is for my peeps, the LLWL Gang.

(A final note. HBO says that the prayer will be included in future showings of the event).

Cartoon of the Day


Bill Schorr

That's All Folks


One.More.Day.

The Countdown to the end is over.

Political writer Dick Polman, who blogs at the Inky's American Debate, aptly scribed the final words for George Bush at Obit Magazine, No Glow:

The George W. Bush administration is slated to die by constitutional fiat next Tuesday, at the age of 8, after a long and debilitating illness.

Most Americans will either rejoice or voice relief. Some might even wish they could hurl their shoes at Bush's retreating helicopter. The former president will be interred in a suburban Dallas home, where, politically speaking, he is hoping to have an afterlife better than Herbert Hoover's.

The public's current anathema toward Bush is rare in contemporary history. Americans typically mourn their perishing leaders, even those who were not particularly good at the job . . . .

* * * *
It will take time to precisely pinpoint the nature of Bush's fatal illness, but most presidential health experts believe that it was multi-faceted psychological malady, a toxic mixture of hubris, arrogance, denial, excess machismo, and terminal prevarication.

There were, of course, extended episodes of robust political health, particularly in the days and weeks after the nation was attacked by terrorists; during the final runup to war in Iraq, and in the weeks following the invasion, when it is traditional for Americans to stand behind their commander-in-chief; and on election night 2004, when the president won the popular vote, a goal that had eluded him four years earlier. But his chronic illness, which afflicted him from the neck up, and which he nurtured among his top advisers, ultimately overwhelmed him. He spent most of his final three years on the wane - all the while insisting that it was his critics who were sick, not him.

* * * *
It is arguably bad form to speak ill of the politically dead, but certain statistics, from the realm of factual reality, do seem appropriate at this time. At the birth of the Bush administration, the jobless rate was three points lower than it is today; the Dow Jones average was 2,300 points higher than today; the number of families living in poverty was 1.2 million lower than today; the number of Americans lacking health insurance was 5.9 million lower than today; and the federal budget was $236 billion in the black, whereas it's $1.2 trillion in the red today.

Bush's political survivors include the members of the Republican party (271 House and Senate members at the dawn of the Bush era; 219 today), and his brother, Jeb, who still may nurture presidential ambitions, but who may find it difficult to bring the Bush brand back from the dead. There is no indication yet whether George W.'s soul will be passed to another politician, although some observers suggest that his basic approach, particularly the certitudes and propensity for denial, will be reincarnated in the form of Sarah Palin.
That great conservative Jon Swift also pens his treatise in honor of President Bush's Legacy: One of Our Greatest Presidents:
As I recently predicted, in few months, with the benefit of hindsight, historians will look back on the Bush presidency as an unalloyed success and consider President Bush to be one of our greatest presidents. Although the White House has sent around its own talking points highlighting the President's accomplishments, I don't think they go far enough. So I have put together my own list of talking points, which should convince anyone why George W. Bush belongs on Mount Rushmore, along with Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and the other guy.
Swift reviews not-to-be-missed highlights of the Reign, covering topics such as:
After Hurricane Katrina President Bush kept our cities safe.

After the October 2008 stock market correction there have been no Great Depressions.

After Iraq and Afghanistan took a turn for the worse, President Bush kept us from losing any wars.

After Iraq and Afghanistan took a turn for the worse, President Bush kept us from losing any wars.

After divisive elections President Bush united our country.

After Abu Ghraib, President Bush reaffirmed America's adherence to the Geneva Conventions and against torture.

After 9/11 President Bush kept America safe from terrorist attacks on American soil.
And finally -- and fittingly -- from Political Irony, he recalls that days before Bush took office in 2001, The Onion predicted:
Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

* * * *

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption.

"We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

Who said he didn't warn us about the economy:
On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.
I guess we can't say we weren't warned. The Onion knows.

(Cartoon via Cam Cardow at Syndicam)

Pardon Prognostications

As the hours wind down (no more days, it is finally mere hours to the end of the Bush era), thoughts of pardons-to-be are on the mind of many, myself included.

To date, the Screw-up-In-Chief has been stingy with pardons. For himself, he refuses to acknowledge error, for others, he declines to offer forgiveness. Although I would expect a few more pardons as he exits the White House, I would be surprised if there were many. He is not a man who has a capacity for mercy or compassion. Josh Gerstein of Politico has a rundown on the possible cases/odds on a few of the more likely ones. 10 cases Bush could review.

The real question is whether Bush will pardon himself and/or issue blanket pardons for those in his Administration who have flouted the rule of law -- for crimes such as torture and wiretapping. I have considered this issue several times, see Begging Your Pardon and Pardon Me!, and have fully expected him to do so as his last official act.

Asking Will Bush Pardon Himself?, Kenneth Roth wonders:

As the clock ticks down the last days of the George W. Bush administration, a long list of people are hoping the president might pardon them for their criminal acts. This year, it is possible the president himself, as well as members of his administration, might be on that list—for authorizing torture. On his way out the door, President Bush might be tempted to protect himself and members of his administration by issuing a broad pardon for any crimes committed in the course of fighting terrorism.

The Constitution allows the president to issue such a blanket, pre-emptive pardon. The only real impediment is the admission of guilt that such a pardon would imply. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said recently that there is no need for a pardon because everyone involved thought they were acting lawfully, and Vice President Dick Cheney has claimed that even his authorization of waterboarding was legal. But the president may issue a broad pardon anyway for fear that the Obama administration would reach different conclusions.

Roth recommends that Bush not pardon himself, since that is a course that has never been done before:
The president should resist the temptation to pardon, because a pardon would flout the principle that even the president is not above the law. No president, not even Richard Nixon facing possible Watergate charges, has ever pardoned himself. President Bush must be dissuaded from that course.
As though that ever mattered for Bush. But see, A Message for President George W. Bush, for the other view.

Charlie Savage of the NYTimes also ponders the question, in Bush Administration Does Not Rule Out "Pre-Emptive" Pardons:
As the administration wrestles with the cascade of petitions, some lawyers and law professors are raising a related question: Will Mr. Bush grant pre-emptive pardons to officials involved in controversial counterterrorism programs?

Such a pardon would reduce the risk that a future administration might undertake a criminal investigation of operatives or policy makers involved in programs that administration lawyers have said were legal but that critics say violated laws regarding torture and surveillance.

Some legal analysts said Mr. Bush might be reluctant to issue such pardons because they could be construed as an implicit admission of guilt. But several members of the conservative legal community in Washington said in interviews that they hoped Mr. Bush would issue such pardons - whether or not anyone made a specific request for one. They said people who carried out the president's orders should not be exposed even to the risk of an investigation and expensive legal bills.

"The president should pre-empt any long-term investigations," said Victoria Toensing, who was a Justice Department counterterrorism official in the Reagan administration. "If we don't protect these people who are proceeding in good faith, no one will ever take chances."

See also, Countdown: Possibility of Blanket Presidential Pardons. On the other hand, the WSJ seems to think that blanket pardons will not be issued. They posit Sweeping Pardons 'Unnecessary':

The White House isn't inclined to grant sweeping pardons for former administration officials involved in harsh interrogations and detentions of terror suspects, according to people familiar with the situation.

Some Republicans have been pushing for President George W. Bush to grant pre-emptive clemency to officials who fear being investigated by Democratic critics. White House officials have countered that such pardons are unnecessary, these people say. The officials point to Justice Department legal opinions that supported the administration's methods of detaining and interrogating terror suspects.

* * * *

Some former Bush administration officials have argued against a blanket pardon for post-9/11 activities, saying it would be tantamount to an admission that the Bush policies weren't legal.

* * * *

Mr. Obama has said he wants quick closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transition officials have indicated there may be a commission established to study Bush-era terror policies. One criminal investigation is already under way: a Justice Department probe into the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in a speech to a conservative legal group last Thursday, defended past interrogation policies. "Before conducting interrogations, the CIA officials sought the advice of the Department of Justice, and I am aware of no evidence that these DOJ attorneys provided anything other than their best judgment of what the law required," he said.

Mr. Mukasey told members of the Federalist Society that using criminal investigations to examine Bush administration policies would send a harmful message: that officials who "support aggressive counterterrorism policy based on their good faith belief that such a policy is lawful" may one day be prosecuted.

See also, Cheney: No Wrongdoing, No Need for Preemptive Pardons.

Of course, it's easy for them to take that position since Obama has given strong indications that he has no interest in pursuing the Bush bunch for criminal activities. But there may still be other reasons to act. After all, the Bush Administration has been the most secretive ever. The public has no idea what went on behind those closed doors (we don't even know who went in those doors, since the White House Visitors Log was kept secret). So Bush may still want to go the preemptive pardon route as a means of keeping his conduct hidden.

Based upon the flurry of activity that Bush has engaged in in his last days, such as issuing objectionable regulations, planting conservative career employees in government spots, etc., he could care less what the public would think about him. After all, his popularity is already in the "how low can you go, limbo" stage, so what does he have to lose? He can rationalize (to himself & his increasingly small base) that it was necessary to protect those who acted loyally on his behalf in the service of their country.

But what do I know? Interestingly, P.S. Ruckman at Pardon Power notes, Countdown: CYA Time Approaches:

Now, the final days of the Bush administration are here. The storyline is: Bush will grant an unprecedented preemptive blanket turbo pardon of 'war crimes' committed during his administration (and supported by Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi, John D. Rockefeller, Bob Graham, etc.). Bush will then pardon the Vice President Dick Cheney. While he is at it, he will then pardon himself. No, no, Bush will resign and then Cheney will pardon Bush. It isn't that this all 'might' happen, or 'could' happen. Oh no. The line is it will 'probably' happen. In fact, the probabilities are so high, none of us should even be surprised when it does happen. I mean, we will act that way, when it happens because righteous indignation plays well to the crowd. But right now, in the calm of reasoned analysis, it is all to be expected. Meanwhile, there are no clemency scholars 'expecting' any of this. No, not even one.

Luckily, either way, we'll have the answer to this in only a day from now. Because that's when George will be gone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Man Serpent



I think this is the only way that I can watch Ann "the Man Serpent" Coulter. A web-only clip from SNL.

ANN COULTER: We need to listen to President Bush when he tells us history will judge this war. And it might take 100 years. And you won't be here. And George Bush won't be here. But I will still be here, thanks to a medical procedure I undergo twice a year at a Swiss mountain clinic....

SETH MEYERS: How do you feel about this administration's position on torture?

ANN COULTER : I love it. I love it. I do, Seth. I love torture. I think torture is good and Christian-y. And history will bear this out.

The Hopes in the Change

Unless he (or Dick Cheney) has a last minute surprise up his sleeve, it appears that GW Bush will actually be leaving us on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. And, at this point, I doubt it -- I think he'll be as happy to go as we are to see him bid us a fond farewell.

So, it's 2 more days.

With all of the talk of looking forward/looking back as we prepare for the transition, Nathan Gardels speaks of how we are approaching the transfer of power. The collapse of our economy, along with all of the other things that ail us, has changed how we view Obama's upcoming Administration in many ways. As he notes, Inaugural Hope, but America Is in Shock:

America is in shock. It is not because of the unusual sight of the first black president taking up residence in the White House. Barack Obama's profile, after all, is more familiar to the diverse population of today's ethnically and racially hybrid America than the fast-disappearing WASP identity of George W. Bush. Sooner or later, but always, politics codifies cultural change, not the other way around. America is in shock because our economic and financial landscape is suddenly unrecognizable.

In the space of a few short months, we have morphed from the citadel of free-market capitalism and freewheeling consumerism -- from a land of high-flying hedge funds, Hummers and homes that doubled as ATMs -- to a system in which the banks, insurance companies, mortgage industry and auto manufacturers are quasi-socialized. Adding to that shock is the fact that middle-class investors have seen their portfolios, upon which they depended for retirement, diminished nearly by half.

* * * *

The year 2008 is thus likely to go down in American history as an even more pivotal one than 2001, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, because the life of the average American is going to be shaped far more by the consequences. We're not talking about the inconvenience of lining up to go through metal detectors at the airport. We're talking about the transformation of the American model itself. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz was not exaggerating when he quipped to me earlier this year that "the fall of Wall Street is to market fundamentalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was to communism." Just like that, we're in a different era.

In this circumstance, Barack Obama will not be judged by the color of his skin, or even the content of his character. He will be judged by the quality of his leadership and the success of his policies in staving off depression and putting America back on the path to prosperity.

The reality of our economic crisis has taken a toll on the psyche of the nation. The hopes/fears that the country is facing brings about an unusual lack of expectation as Obama begins his new Administration. That is, although we hope he can somehow restore things, we just can't imagine how, as observed by Steven Thomma of McClathy News, With nation in historic funk, how will Obama inspire us?:
Many presidents have faced threats from enemies abroad. Many, too, have confronted economic peril.

However, few have faced what Barack Obama will have to address as president: a crisis of confidence that reaches deep into the country's soul.

Genetically optimistic and confident, Americans today are dismayed about their future. Retirement savings have been decimated. Jobs are disappearing. Those who are still working find their paychecks threatened. Houses are worth less. The U.S. auto industry, once the engine of middle-class security, teeters on the edge of collapse. Americans are hunkered down, refusing to spend money and inadvertently feeding the very crisis they're fleeing.

Even as more people look to Washington for help after trusting their money and their fate to the marketplace for a generation, they still harbor deep suspicion about a government, too often corrupt or incompetent, that's let them down from Watergate to Hurricane Katrina.

"It's the worst crisis of confidence in our political and government institutions since 1932," pollster John Zogby said.

* * * *

This corrosive pessimism could be as dangerous as any enemy the country or its leaders has faced. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said at his inauguration in 1933, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself: nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

As Roosevelt knew then, Obama knows now that restoring confidence and trust is crucial to restoring America. It will test every bit of the young president's skills and will require a broad array of responses, including a clear and convincing voice of optimism, bold proposals that tell people the government is doing something, and competence in governing that assures the land that there's a steady hand at the tiller.

But, as bad as things are, it could be worse. That's right -- Things Could be Worse: It could be President McCain in 3 days. Erica Heller reminds us:

These days, I feel caught in the strangest kind of limbo, suspended somewhere between euphoria and the most utter, bleak despair, and in speaking to the other people around me and even in hearing from friends all over the world, I know I am not alone. Everyone feels irritatingly and ominously hopeful and hopeless, ecstatic and morose.

We all held our collective breath for months, waiting to see if brains would triumph over bluster in the election. They did. Miraculously, we elected Barack Obama. Then, poised on the precipice of hope, the volcano of bad news started erupting and still it comes. We know now that the country Obama will take over from Bozo Inc. in just 3 days is, incomprehensibly, even more of a disaster than we could possibly have imagined. In fact, if I were Obama, I might well cry "foul" over the job description.

* * * *

Still, even in the midst of this gloomy, funereal muddle, perhaps it is worth noting that even with things as bad as they are, with no jobs, no money in our pockets and the forecast for things to get so bad that we are now at the proverbial picnic, things could be worse. Shouldn't we be counting our blessings right about now, and for longer than it takes to say the words "bankruptcy" or "foreclosure"?

It's worth trying to summon a bit of perspective, is it not? After all, if the cards had been dealt just a little bit differently, we would be counting down the days until President McCain's inauguration, just 3 left, not to mention Vice President Palin, you betcha. How grim would that be? Imagine Joe the Plumber preparing to reinstitute shuttle diplomacy right about now (or not), instead of Hillary Clinton. And who would have been Secretary of the Treasury, Howdy Doody Blagojevich?

Cartoon of the Day




Matt Davies, The Journal News

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Choo-Choo

The road to the White House starts in Philadelphia. President elect Obama began his whistle stop train route to DC via Philly, following Abraham Lincoln's journey.

See Obama Express Train Tour

Eight Years in Eight Minutes

Three days and counting.

From Keith Olbermann, a Countdown to the Countdown. The "legacy" of George Bush. 8 years in 8 minutes.



(Via Crooks & Liars)

Doggone It, What About Me?

Ever since the election, it seems like one group or another has been complaining about this appointment (too left, too right, too middle of the road) or that one (he didn't pick someone from this particular constituency) or else has been harping about the fact that Obama hasn't addressed this important issue or another.

After all, he's been President-elect since November 5th, so what's he waiting for? His inauguration? Please. After all, we're in an economic crisis, a health care crisis, 2 wars, a situation with Israel & Hamas, you name it -- so we can't wait until he's really the President.

Well, the latest faction that has become disillusioned with Obama is the doggie devotee crowd. As the Caucus reports, Doggone It, Just Get the Puppy Already:

In fact, President-elect Barack Obama’s search for a new family puppy is now breeding some ill will among dog lovers.

It is not exactly like taking heat for his position on the Gaza conflict, but Mr. Obama is sparking criticism from those who spend time thinking about these things for his family’s drawn-out search, their “naivete” and their “conflicting public statements” on exactly what kind of pooch the family is looking for.

“I’m frustrated with the Obamas. Just get a dog already,” said Daisy Okas, a spokesperson for the American Kennel Club, who said she has heard from many angry dog owners in recent days over how the Obama’s have been handling what has become, to them at least, a politically charged issue.
The Obamas have said they are looking for a medium sized dog, most likely either a Labradoodle and a Portuguese water dog. Well, these pups aren't found in shelters too often (although with the terrible economy, forcing people to give up homes, more dogs of all kind are being abandoned) and aren't completely hypoallergenic. The waffling on the issue has created problems for Obama:

Even so, Mr. Obama’s public remarks about the dog have been exasperating to some. “He just keeps making statements that are incompatible,” said Ms. Okas, of the American Kennel Club.

The Obamas “seem to be exhibiting the classic behavior of first time dog owners,” added Ms. Line, who called the process “ a little bit confusing.”
Obama had better get his act together. After all, if you can't please the pet lovers, your Presidency is destined to fail.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cartoon of the Day




Holbert, Boston Herald

An Unconscionable Legacy



4 more days.

As part of the continuing countdown, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews Helen Thomas, the most senior member of the White House press corps. Thomas talks about the Bush "legacy," the incoming Obama Administration and journalism.

Thomas wrote of Bush in a recent column, History Cannot Save Him:

As he leaves office, President Bush is passing on to his successor two wars and a growing economic debacle. What a way to go!

Because of Bush's policies, the U.S. also is complicit in the Israeli attack on the Palestinians on the Gaza Strip by providing a 'made-in-America' high-tech arsenal for the assault and blocking a ceasefire for nearly two weeks, a move intended to help the Israelis consolidate their hold.

* * * *

It's true -- as Bush and company point at their proudest achievement-- there have been no new terrorist attacks on the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.

But they fail to acknowledge administration mistakes before and after that fateful day, starting with the fact that White House and security officials ignored significant early warnings of an imminent strike against the U.S.

The second half of the double 9/11 mistake was the trampling of our constitutional system and American values by the administration's infamous torture policies, illegal interrogation practices, including water boarding (simulated drowning), secret prisons abroad and U.S. run jails at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Post- 9/11 Bush strategy also nurtured a climate of fear that enabled the self-styled "decider" to lead the country into a senseless war against Iraq, a calamity still underway as he leaves office almost six years after the invasion.

Add the administration's pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and you have basis to dub Bush's eight White House years as the "Bush error."

He was to be the great "unifier" but instead he became a great polarizer.

At the end of her interview with Thomas, Goodman says:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Helen Thomas, I want to thank you for being with us. You’re famous for saying at the end of every news conference, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

HELEN THOMAS: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: I say to you, thank you, Helen Thomas.

HELEN THOMAS: Thank you, Amy.

But there will be no thank yous for George W. Bush.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Dad Day


Today is not only the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., it is my father's 84th birthday.

I may be sarcastic and snarky now and then, but I owe my generally positive, optimistic outlook on life to my father. As I said to my brothers a few years ago, we are lucky. We inherited Dad's happy gene.

Thanks Dad & happy day.

Pity Parties

So, following a recent tradition, Obama and Biden stopped by the Supreme Court to chat with the Justices yesterday. All but one, that is. As the LA Times notes, Obama, Biden make pre-inaugural visit to the Supreme Court:

President-elect Barack Obama paid a visit Wednesday to the Supreme Court and chatted in front of a fireplace with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a fellow Harvard law graduate whose confirmation he opposed three years ago.

The two will meet again at noon Tuesday, when the chief justice gives the oath of the office to the incoming president.

Wednesday's meeting was described as a relaxed, get-acquainted session. It included Roberts, seven associate justices and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

The absence of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was at the court Wednesday morning for arguments in two cases, was a mystery. He has, however, voiced lingering anger over Senate Democrats, including Obama and Biden, who voted against his confirmation three years ago. When walking on Capitol Hill, Alito has said, he crosses to the far side of the street whenever he nears the Senate Office Building.
See also, A Chat Around the Fireplace for Obama, Biden, and the Supreme Court.

Of course, I wouldn't expect anything else from the petty prince from Princeton, who tried to hide his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- a group with a racist and sexist history -- during his confirmation hearings. See Ivy Version of the CCC. Just the kind of judicial temperment that you'd want for the Supreme Court.

And then there's the news that a pre-inaugural, bi-partisan dinner bash will be missing one of the stars of the election scene. You could call it Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner. As Kevin Drum of MoJo writes, Palin to be No Show at Obama's Dinner for McCain:
On the night before Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's 44th President, his inaugural committee will host a series of dinners honoring public servants it deems champions of bipartisanship. To be feted are Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Colin Powell, and John McCain, whom Obama vanquished last November. At the McCain dinner, the GOP senator, who managed to suppress his bipartisan tendencies during the hard-fought 2008 campaign, will be introduced by one of his closest Senate confidants: Senator Lindsey Graham. But McCain's No. 1 booster during the last year will not be among those hailing McCain. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, his controversial running-mate, will not attend the dinner, Bill McAllister, a Palin spokesman tells Mother Jones.
Hmmm. Why would Palin miss the dinner of the political season? What could the matter be? Pressing state business in Alaska? Family matters? Or, as Mark Nickolas inquired:
Is she still moping and said no? Did McCain ask that she not be invited? Did Obama not invite her?
Palin Not Attending Obama Dinner For McCain, Santorum Says McCain Is Obama's 'Secret Weapon'.

My guess is that McCain's not feeling the love for Palin these days, since she's spending her time dissing him and his campaign, when she's not crying about the media (and those anonymous bloggers).

Finally, speaking of McCain, the last word comes from former Senator from Pennsylvania (how I love to write those words) Rick Santorum, who whines in his latest Inky column that he's afraid that McCain might go back to being mavericky and work with Obama in the best interest of the country, rather than holding firm in true GOP partisan fashion. Via Nickolas, Santorum expresses his displeasure:
In McCain's mind, however, losing the presidency will not be the final chapter of his life story. He knows the path to "Big Media" redemption. Working with the man who vanquished him in November will show them all the real McCain again.

Remember, it was this onetime prisoner of war who led the charge to open diplomatic relations with Vietnam. If that past is prologue, and McCain's legislative record is any guide, he will not just join with Obama but lead the charge in Congress on global warming, immigration "reform," the closing of Guantanamo, federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research, and importation of prescription drugs.

But McCain won't stop there in his effort to rehabilitate himself in the media's - or maybe his own - eyes. He will forge common ground on a long list of initiatives that go far beyond where he has gone before, including the stimulus package.
Not sure who wins the pity party contest -- Justice Alito, Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum, but they have all given excellent performances and each deserves an award.

Quote of the Day

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday:


“On Tuesday, Barack Obama warned that the country could face trillion dollar deficits for years to come, in an address many said was reminiscent of Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I Had a Bad Dream’ speech.”

-Seth Meyers

Heck of a Job, Bushie

5 days. But who's counting, other than every sentient human being on the planet.

As always the best take on George W. Bush -- soon to be Mr. X -- is provided by Jon Stewart:



In defending his record during his last press conference, Bush mentioned that despite the criticism he received, he thought he did a pretty good job with the Katrina response after all. As Dennis DiClaudio of Comedy Central's Indecision blog observes, in Hurricane Relief is Like Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades:

So, there you go. His record's not really all that bad. After all, he only presided over the destruction of one major American city. You know how many cities there are in the country? A lot! And only one was demolished due to an inept federal response.

And, really, he only allowed two Twin Towers to tumble into nothingness in part because of a complete disinterest in paying attention to urgent intelligence reports. And he only conceived of and jumpstarted one illegal war. And he only completely disregarded one Constitution of the United States.

In eight years? That's a pretty good record, if you ask me.

I noticed that George Bush's approval rating has inched up these past few days. No doubt it's due, in part, to the overall glee in knowing he's almost out the door. Luckily, it means that Richard Nixon is restored to his rightful place in history as the most despised President.

Cartoon of the Day


Patrick O'Connor, LA Daily News

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yes, We All Can

Getting ready for the inauguration.


We are all going to need a lot of this, considering what we are faced with as of January 20, 2009, thanks to George W. Bush (the real "that one").

And for the next generation, what I hope we leave them with.

You too can express yourself at Obamicon.Me.

(via The Quaker Agitator)

RTAs 'R Us at Justice

"Right-Thinking Americans" is how they referred to themselves. I think Righteous Toady Attorneys is more like it.

Lost in all of the pre-inaugural pomp and Cabinet confirmation news is the Inspector General report on the politicization of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division that was just released. DOJ IG Takes Down Schlozman.

As the NYTimes reports, Criticism of Ex-Official in Hiring at Justice Dept.:

A former senior official at the Justice Department routinely hired Republicans, Federalist Society members and “R.T.A.’s” — “Right-Thinking Americans”— for what were supposed to be nonpolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on civil rights cases, an internal department report released Tuesday found.

The former official, Bradley Schlozman, who helped lead the Civil Rights Division for about three years beginning in 2003, also gave false statements to Congress when he denied factoring politics into his hiring decisions, the report from the inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility at the Justice Department found. But last week federal prosecutors declined to bring criminal charges against Mr. Schlozman, who left the department in 2007 amid an uproar over accusations of widespread politicization.

In the Civil Rights Division, regarded as a cornerstone of the Justice Department since the days of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the investigation found that political supervisors charged with enforcing federal bias laws had illegally discriminated against job applicants seen as too liberal. The report said Mr. Schlozman’s superiors had ignored warnings about his brash management style and his political agenda.
The reports details the brazen politicization of the DOJ, which was pervasive. As David Kurtz of TPM notes, "Schlozman called career attorneys in the Voting Rights Section "mold spores" and in an email wrote, "My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs rights out of the section." See "Right-Thinking Americans".

The NYTimes also reports on the degree of illegal emphasis on ideology by Schlozman:

The report makes its case against Mr. Schlozman in his own words, drawn from e-mail and voice mail messages to colleagues and underlings, as he talked about reshaping the political makeup of the Civil Rights Division and doing away with “pinko” and “crazy lib” lawyers and others he did not consider “real Americans.”

In one e-mail message regarding a pool of job applicants, he wrote that “as long as I’m here, adherents of Mao’s Little Red Book need not apply.”

When a colleague reported that he had been given an office next to a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal affairs group, Mr. Schlozman responded in an e-mail message: “Just between you and me, we hired another member of ‘the team’ yesterday. And still another ideological comrade will be starting in one month. So we are making progress.”

The report found that Mr. Schlozman had selected conservative lawyers for prime assignments and transferred three lawyers out of the Civil Rights Division because they were seen as liberals who were opposed to his political agenda. All three later brought federal discrimination claims and returned to the division after Mr. Schlozman left. The transfers, the report found, violated federal civil service law and “constituted misconduct.”

The investigation found that among people hired by Mr. Schlozman, 63 of 65 were considered Republican or conservative, but that when he was not involved, “the results were more balanced,” with conservatives and liberals split about evenly.

In a 2003 voice-mail message to a colleague, Mr. Schlozman said experience in civil rights law was not needed to work for the division. “‘I just want to make sure we don’t start confining ourselves to, you know, Politburo members because they happen to be a member of some, you know, psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government,” he said.
One of the most egregious instances was not mentioned by the Times. That was the "Black and Bitter" incident. As TPM reports:

From a footnote to the IG's report on the politicization of the Civil Rights Division at DOJ:

In that incident in August 2004, Voting Section Chief John Tanner sent an e-mail to Schlozman asking Schlozman to bring coffee for him to a meeting both were scheduled to attend. Schlozman replied asking Tanner how he liked his coffee. Tanner's response was, "Mary Frances Berry style - black and bitter." Berry is an African-American who was the Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from November 1993 until late 2004. Schlozman forwarded the e-mail chain to several Department officials (including Principal DAAG Bradshaw) but not Acosta, with the comment, "Y'all will appreciate Tanner's response."

Tanner, whose disastrous tenure in the Voting Section we chronicled extensively at TPMmuckraker, was canned not long after claiming that voter ID laws have a disproportionate impact on the elderly and therefore could not have an adverse impact on minority voters: "Minorities don't become elderly the way white people do: They die first."

The IG report was originally issued in July of last year, but was not released until now because it had been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. Schlozman testified about the politization of the Department before Congress and his statements, in light of the IGs findings, were determined to be comprised of "false statements." However, the DOJ declined to prosecute Schlozman.

A TPM reader points out that when Roger Clemens lied to Congress about steroid use in baseball, a grand jury was convened to consider a prejury indictment. Yep, It Does Seem A Little Odd. But when the IG finds that Bradley clearly broke the law by considering political affiliations in career attorney hiring decisions and lied to Congress about it? What ya gonna do about it? According to the US Attorney for DC: Nada.

And it's something that's just Not Right To Allow!