Archive for January 21st, 2009

For the first time in nearly a decade, we have a chief executive who isn’t a raving coward.

And not a second too soon. President Obama made it clear on Tuesday that America is no longer in the business of selling-out the legacy of our Founders and the mandates of the Constitution for the sake of a little bit of extra security. From the president’s inaugural address:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. […] Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

In short: the national security of the United States is no longer going to be conducted by raving cowards. Not anymore. Contrast those historic words against the viral cowardice — the frightened pee-pants dance of the men who somehow infiltrated our highest levels of political power:

“You have no civil liberties if you are dead.” –Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.” –Senator “Big John” Cornyn, R-TX

“Our civil liberties are worthless if we are dead! If you are dead and pushing up daisies, if you’re sucking dirt inside a casket, do you know what your civil liberties are worth? Zilch, zero, nada.” –Rush Limbaugh

Never mind that you can’t “suck dirt” if you’re dead, either. But we’ll let that one slide because it was a figure of speech, and because Limbaugh was probably stoned at the time and hallucinating a trio of dirt-sucking zombies named “Zilch”, “Zero” and “Nada” wandering through his studio in search of brains. Regardless of how the remarks came about, they fully exemplify the national security policy of the old crowd: the guiding theory that a frightened population will and should acquiesce to the slow dissolution of civil liberties in the face of ambiguous threats from faceless (and mostly brown-skinned) villains.

As we’ve all observed, the easiest solutions — the most “expedient” solutions, as the president underscored in his inaugural address on Tuesday, are the most despotic ones. One of the most disturbing trends of the Bush years was the pervasive willingness at all levels of American life to abandon not just our liberty, but also our national reputation, in exchange for the illusion of safety.


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Hillary Clinton Confirmed As Secretary Of State

Via: HuffoPo/ANNE FLAHERTY | January 21, 2009 06:36 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state Wednesday as President Barack Obama moved to make his imprint on U.S. foreign policy, mobilizing a fresh team of veteran advisers and reaching out to world leaders. The Senate voted 94-2, with Republican Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and Jim DeMint of South Carolina opposing.

Republicans and Democrats alike said her swift confirmation was necessary so that Obama could begin tackling the major foreign policy issues at hand, including two wars, increased violence in the Middle East and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“It is essential that we provide the president with the tools and resources he needs to effect change, and that starts with putting a national security team in place as soon as possible,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.


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Velvet Revolver – She Builds Quick Machines

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by Geezer Power

Obama hits ground running

By Caren Bohan and Matt Spetalnick, ReutersJanuary 21, 2009 3:07 PM

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday plunged into Middle East peace diplomacy on his first full day in office and looked poised to order the closing of the internationally condemned military detention camp at Guantanamo within a year.

Acting swiftly the day after his inauguration, Obama — who had vowed a bolder pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace than his predecessor George W. Bush — called Israeli and Arab leaders to commit to “active engagement” and to promise help in consolidating the Gaza ceasefire.

“He pledged that the United States would do its part to make these efforts successful, working closely with the international community and these partners as they fulfill their responsibilities as well,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Obama’s packed agenda, including summoning his economic and national security teams to confront the financial crisis and the unpopular Iraq war, signaled his intention of meeting his promises to break sharply with the Bush era.

Obama’s quick foray into Middle East diplomacy coincided with circulation of an unsigned draft executive order that would require the closing by early 2010 of the Guantanamo prison opened by the Bush administration to house terrorism suspects.

The facility, which Obama had vowed to shut down, has been widely seen as a stain on America’s moral standing in the world because of harsh interrogation methods that human rights groups said amounted to torture.

The Obama administration would also start an immediate review on how to deal with the remaining prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, according to the draft order obtained by Reuters.

Critics had faulted Bush for taking a largely hands-off approach to Middle East peacemaking for much of his eight years in office.

Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah not long after he stepped into the Oval Office for the first time since his historic inauguration as the first black U.S. president.

He is expected to name a Middle East envoy soon.

The fledgling president, who has vowed strong action to deal with the worst U.S. economic crisis in decades and to hammer out an exit strategy from the unpopular war in Iraq, planned separate meetings in the late afternoon with economic advisers as well as with his national security team.

Read more here

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by betmo

president obama’s speech has been seen and heard around the world and picked over and disected by everyone.  what struck me was the american people.  for one brief moment, americans around the nation were truly united.  for one brief  moment, millions set their egos aside and joined as one.

but there are still are those fringe bigots and obstructionists who listen to hate radio and walk the halls of congress.  my mom heard on limbaugh that several schools in the midwest- green bay in particular- piped limbaugh instead of obama’s inaugural address.  i didn’t link to limbaugh’s site but google it if you want.  these folks aren’t interested in moving forward, they are interested in holding power.  they are regressive.  they are desperate.  they are cornered rats.

i think that keith olbermann hit the nail on the head when he called for prosecution of bushco:

we still have all of the same problems facing us. the new administration may have ushered in change, but that didn’t erase the reality confronting us. what i see is that our perceptions of how to tackle these heavy issues has changed. the hopeless despair of ever seeing the light at the end of the tunnel has been replaced by an optimistic, albeit somewhat grim, determination to roll up our sleeves and get down to business. make no mistake, the 20 percenters and the ultra rich corporates and old monied elites- are not interested in change. they have never cared about the greater good. and as we work to fix our ailing country and planet, we still have to do battle with the same people we have been fighting for over 8 years.

these folks don’t go away- they just go underground. we must be vigilant.

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Obama takes first step toward closing Guantanamo Bay

Via: Raw Story/Associated Press
Published: Wednesday January 21, 2009

True to his word, President Barack Obama has taken the first step to closing the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay, asking military prosecutors to suspend legal proceedings for 120 days.

A military judge agreed to suspend one case immediately Wednesday morning, and the fate of other cases are expected to be determined quickly.

More details follow.

Judge OKs 1st suspension in Gitmo cases

Judge OKs 1st suspension in Guantanamo cases; puts Canadian case on 120-day hold

AP News

Jan 21, 2009 09:14 EST

A military judge has agreed to President Barack Obama’s request to suspend the Guantanamo war crimes trial of Canadian Omar Khadr.

It is the first in a series of delays sought by Obama as his administration reviews the legal system for prosecuting alleged terrorists.

The written order came Wednesday in the Khadr case. He is accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan in 2002.

Army Col. Patrick Parrish, the judge in the case, issued a written order granting the 120-day suspension without a hearing.

Later, a judge is to consider suspending the case of five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — Military judges will consider Wednesday whether to halt the Guantanamo war crimes trials after President Barack Obama ordered prosecutors to request a 120-day suspension during a review of the system used to try suspected terrorists.


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President Obama’s first order: Halt pending regulations

Raw Story- Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday January 20, 2009

Obama declares Jan. 20 a ‘national day of renew and reconciliation’

Even as President Obama and family come to grips with their new status, the hours-old administration is already fast at work.

In his first act as President, Obama approved a memo by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel which orders all federal agencies to freeze former President Bush’s pending regulations until the new administration has a change to review them.

On his new Web site, WhiteHouse.gov, the President also issued a proclamation that Jan. 20, 2009, is to be a “national day of renewal and reconciliation.”

President Obama called upon all Americans to “serve one another” as a way of helping to “remake this nation.”

No further action was expected from the new administration on the eve of Obama’s ascendancy, as the President and First Lady will be attending 10 separate inaugural balls.

Obama’s first official proclamation follows, as published by WhiteHouse.gov on Jan. 20.


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Nasir @13:20 CET

By Jim Lobe | Inter Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (IPS) – Speaking before a record crowd estimated at between two and three million people at his inauguration here Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama promised a foreign policy of “humility and restraint” and “greater cooperation and understanding between nations”.

In his first address as president, Obama also said he will take “bold and swift” action to address the deepening economic crisis designed to roll back the excesses of the market and “lay a new foundation for growth,” and to ensure that, in dealing with terrorist threats, he will seek to protect the rule of law and human rights.

“As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” he asserted in an implicit rejection of the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush, that received the strongest applause of a 15-minute address delivered shortly after he was sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on the balcony of the U.S. Capitol.

“Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generation. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

Obama’s swearing-in, which took place at noon in bright sunshine but frigid temperatures, was preceded by 90 minutes of pomp, music and circumstance, as the nation’s governors, congressmen, senators, past presidents and vice presidents all filed in before Bush himself was announced – to scattered booing and then an embarrassing silence, followed by Obama, who drew waves of cheering.

But most impressive was the immense crowd that gathered for the occasion. It stretched from the base of the Capitol Building down the stately National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial some three kms away. The previous record for an inauguration was 1.5 million in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson was sworn in for his first full term.

The celebration was clouded shortly later Tuesday afternoon as news spread that Sen. Edward Kennedy, who was diagnosed with brain tumor last year, reportedly suffered a seizure during a lunch reception held for Obama in the Capitol by the Congressional leadership after the swearing-in.

Obama’s speech, delivered in the same confident oratorical style that has become his trademark since he first emerged into the national spotlight at his keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, was both grim and determined, noting that Washington is not only “at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred,” but also that the U.S. economy is “badly weakened”.

Continued >>

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