Archive for January 28th, 2009

There’s a killer web graphic that was created back in the post-Republican Convention days while everyone was writing spasmodic, breathless “Obama should [fill in the blank]” blog entries and “Oh crap! We’re gonna lose!” newspaper columns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, really. The Obama campaign slipped in the polls during Sarah Palin’s very brief golden age — an era of roughly two weeks following the Alaska governor’s successful recitation of a convention speech without, you know, choking on her own vomit.

Very few of us were confident of an Obama victory at the time. After all, previous Democratic nominees had been riding bullet trains to victory in the polls, only to gradually and utterly bonk as the summer segued into autumn. Even candidate Obama was warning us about the Democratic habit of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Yeah. Anyone who claims to have been absolutely 100 confident of a Barack Obama victory in the first week of September 2008 is either lying or lying.

However, some people were more confident (hopeful, perhaps) than others.

The web graphic is actually a photograph of Barack Obama from his Invesco Field acceptance speech. In it, he’s looking directly into the camera with an expression of fierce determination on his face — his teeth gnashed in an Eastwood snarl, his left hand gesturing as though he’s kung fu fighting his way through an oversized cinderblock made of SlapChop-minced Republican skulls.

The large, white text superimposed at the top reads: “Everyone chill the fuck out.” The text at the bottom exclaims: “I got this!”

Sure enough, two months later, we watched as this liberal African American man with the noble yet politically unusual name “Barack Hussein Obama” defied the odds and won red states like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and the commonwealth of Virginia.

Fade out the roaring crowds at Grant Park. Dissolve to late January.

The economy continues to creep nearer to the crumbling ledge of yet another Depression — if it isn’t there already. And yet the Republicans who very nearly shoved us over the ledge are prancing around as if their collective Reaganomics don’t stink.


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Stimulus Package Passes With Zero Republican Support

Huffington Post- Ryan Grim

January 28, 2009 07:22 PM

A nearly $820 billion stimulus package passed the House of Representatives Wednesday without a single Republican vote. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it stands a better chance of picking up at least a modicum of bipartisan support.

Approval of the bill is a victory for President Barack Obama and comes only eight days after his inauguration — the swiftest passage of such a massive package in American history. The vote was 244-188, with 11 Democrats crossing party lines and opposing the measure.

Obama ventured to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and met separately with House and Senate Republicans in hopes of garnering their support. He invited roughly a dozen GOP moderates to the White House Tuesday evening for an extended discussion — and cookies and soda — with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. And before Wednesday’s vote, six House Republicans, five Senate Republicans and an equal number of Democrats gathered for a White House meeting.

Obama also persuaded House Democrats to remove provisions related to family-planning from the stimulus and — over the objections of many Democrats — inserted large tax cuts for businesses that Republicans wanted.

None of it was enough.


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Zombie Economy…

Unemployment Pain Spreading Fast to Every State

Joblessness is rising everywhere, while states tap out their unemployment compensation funds:

State unemployment rates increased across the country in December, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday that underscores how the recession has spared few industries or regions.

Joblessness was worst in the West and Midwest, indicating that the industries hit first by the recession — housing and manufacturing — continue to lose jobs. But Northeastern states, which have a heavy concentration of finance jobs, also saw a steep rise in unemployment, as did Southern economies, which for most of last year had been buffered by high gas and oil prices.

“The pace at which this thing has spread geographically and through industries is remarkable,” said Charles W. McMillion, president and chief economist at MBG Information Services, a Washington research firm.

The widespread rise in joblessness has led to steep state budget cuts and exhausted state unemployment resources. State aid will be a part of the economic stimulus plan President Barack Obama is pushing, and some legislatures have essentially put off budget negotiations until it is more clear how much money they will get and in what form. In the bill currently making its way through Congress, some $79 billion is designated to aid states over the next two fiscal years.

The Walking Dead Economy!

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Senate Committee Approves Holder


After weeks of delays, the Senate Judiciary committee has voted by 17-2 to send Eric Holder’s nomination to the full Senate.

In a statement, committee chair Pat Leahy said:

Mr. Holder has demonstrated that he is committed to restoring the rule of law, and, as President Obama said in his inaugural address ‘to reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,'” said Leahy. “I am more convinced than ever that Eric Holder is a person who will reinvigorate the Department of Justice and serve ably as a key member of the President’s national security team. He will pursue the Justice Department’s vital missions with skill, integrity, independence and a commitment to the rule of law.

The two “no” votes were from conservative Republicans John Cornyn and Tom Coburn.

Leahy’s full statement follows after the jump…


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Joan Jett And The Blackhearts -I Love Rock And Roll

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Britain’s recession will be deeper than any other major country this year, the International Monetary Fund warned today as the banking crisis continues to send shudders through the rest of the economy.

By Jamie Dunkley | Daily Telegraph | Last Updated: 5:19PM GMT 28 Jan 2009

GERMANY FRANKFURT STOCK EXCHANGEBritish gross domestic product will contract 2.8pc this year, a sharper and more painful decline than the IMF now forecasts for America, the Eurozone or Japan. The new forecast compares with a prediction of a 1.3pc decline made in November.

The new forecast deals a blow to Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has insisted that the UK is no more exposed to the sweeping global downturn than other economies. Critics have argued that the intensity of the decade-long housing boom, a failure of regulation and the size of losses accumulated by UK banks have left Britain deeper in the mire.

Original Article

Taxes to soar by £20BILLION as IMF warns Britain faces deeper …

Elsewhere, the IMF said Britain’s economy will shrink 2.8 per cent this year. It added that global growth is expected to fall to 0.5 per cent this year as …

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Civil rights group to Obama: Release secret Bush memos

Raw Story- Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday January 28, 2009

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the Justice Department to release Bush administration documentation pertaining to torture, surveillance and other controversial national security policies.

The civil rights watchdog sent a letter today to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the same office that provided legal advice to the White House under George W. Bush.

The secret memos were essentially the legal foundation for many of the Bush adminstration’s questionable practices, says the ACLU in a news release received by Raw Story.

The Bush White House vigorously fought the release of such revealing (some would say, damning) documentation in the interests, it insisted, of protecting national security and other factors.

The ACLU’s filing of the Freedom of Information Act request follows President Obama’s recent directive to minimize federal secrecy and “usher in a new era of open government.”

The request is seen as a test of the freshly inaugurated president’s transparency policy. “The ACLU now sees a new opening,” writes Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers.

The new policy is a promise by Obama that the rights group hopes he follows through with. “President Obama should be commended” for his commitment to openness, said an ACLU director. “We’re eager to see this commitment put into practice.”

The release of the secret documentation will help the nation–and the world–move on from the “lawless conduct” of the Bush administration, the ACLU argues.

More details on the ACLU’s pursuit of the information release is here. Excerpts from their press release today follow…


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For Decades, Right-Wingers Have Pushed Paranoia and Xenophobic Politics and Called It ‘Moral Clarity’

By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America’s Future. Posted January 28, 2009.

Conservatives live in a world of seething aggression that most progressives can’t even fathom.

As he was prepared to slink off into the history books as arguably the worst president in American history, I actually sat down and watched George W. Bush speak.

There was one passage, in particular, that rang in my ears long after his final goodbye. It probably went over most Americans’ heads — but it went right to the heart of Our Problem With George:

As we address these challenges — and others we cannot foresee tonight — America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense and to advance the cause of peace.

That phrase “moral clarity” — conservatives use it a lot. And it always sounds absurd to progressive ears, coming as it does from members of an administration that shredded the Constitution, deprived people of due process, committed horrific acts of torture and lied the country into the worst military debacle in its history.

It’s always bewildering to listen to such people lecture the rest of us on “moral clarity.” What in the hell are they talking about?

They keep using those words. It turns out that they don’t mean what we think they mean.

This was brought home to me over the holidays, when I devoured J. Peter Scoblic’s U.S. Vs. Them as part of my vacation reading. Scoblic’s book looks at the way the conservative penchant for “othering” (a word I coined to describe their perpetual need for someone to project their own demons onto, and then hate on) has shaped U.S. foreign policy from the beginning of the Cold War through the Bush administration.

Throughout the book, Scoblic traces the roots of this recurring phrase — “moral clarity” — and discusses the very specific and narrowly defined meaning it has to conservatives.

The phrase first appeared in describing the Manichean worldview of the anti-communist right in the 1950s. To William F. Buckley, Frank Meyer, Whittaker Chambers and other National Review writers, “moral clarity” meant fully understanding and accepting the essential good-versus-evil nature of foreign affairs.


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