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President Barack Obama on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Friday, March 20, 2009

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GOP strategist admits Republican AIG attacks are just about politics

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Boehner: "There was no deregulation of anything"


By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos


Transcript (emphasis added):
BLITZER: He seemed to be saying, all those Republicans who want a free market, who want to deregulate, who want the government off the back of these huge corporations, look what they're -- look what we got as a result of all of that.

BOEHNER: Wolf, you have to understand, there was no deregulation of anything in the financial services industries. As a matter of fact, there was an increase in regulation.
How stupid must Boehner think we are? Has he forgotten completely about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which the conservative Heritage Foundation called "a major step toward financial deregulation." Heritage wrote:
Significantly, this means banks, securities firms, and other types of financial institutions could join together to offer their customers a more complete range of services.
Of course, Boehner doesn't need any lessons on Gramm-Leach-Bliley -- because he voted for it in 1999.

In other words, John Boehner voted to usher in the era of financial services deregulation, helping pave the way to our present crisis. Now, instead of owning up to the devastating consequences of the policies he supported, he's simply pretending they were never implemented.

It's idiotic, but you already knew that. The amazing thing here is that House Republicans don't think they've got anyone better to represent them than John Boehner.

What a joke.

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There was no "secret provision" to allow AIG bonuses

By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos


A storyline is emerging in Republican circles and throughout media land that Chris Dodd and the Treasury Department secretly inserted a provision into the stimulus bill that allowed AIG to pay its failure bonuses.

There's only one problem with this narrative: it is completely false.

With or without the stimulus bill, AIG would have been allowed to pay its failure bonuses. In fact, at no point in time was there ever a law barring the bonuses.

Given that the bonuses were never illegal, there was never any need to create a new loophole to allow them. They were allowed all along.

What actually happened was that the stimulus bill put new restrictions on bonuses, but only applied those restrictions on bonuses that were given out after the legislation passed.

Early drafts of those new restrictions were retroactive, and would have applied to the AIG failure bonuses, but by the time the final legislation was passed, the retroactive provisions had been eliminated. Chris Dodd, who wrote the restrictions, says he agreed to limit their scope at the request of Treasury.

Figuring out why the new restrictions didn't go far enough is a valuable exercise, but it's also important to get the basic story right, and so far, far too many people are getting the simplest of facts wrong.

Before they go wagging their finger in outrage, they ought to get the story right.

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GOP Hypocrisy Watch

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The President's Message to the Iranian People

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Keith Olbermann Special Comment: It's Time To Get Tough on Bankers

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The Octa-Rush-Baby, New The New Yorker Cover

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Army probes domestic use of troops in Alabama

By Rachel Oswald
Raw Story


Though the strained Samson Police Department was no doubt glad to have U.S. Army military police on hand to direct traffic during last week's tragic shooting spree, it appears that the troops were deployed without the proper authorization and in possible violation of federal law.

An inquiry by the U.S. Army has been opened to find out how and why 22 active duty troops from Fort Rucker, Ala. were placed on the streets of the town of Samson during the shooting spree, which took the lives of 11 people on March 10, reported CNSNews.com on Wednesday.

Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., told CNSNews.com on Monday that the military police soldiers, along with the provost marshal were sent to Samson.

“The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander’s inquiry--directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command," Perritt said. “In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed.”

Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Depatrment, told CNSNews.com that the troops “came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene” and that the department was glad for the help. “They weren’t here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene--so people wouldn’t trample all over (it).”...(Click for remainder).

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Some Truths About Guantanamo Bay

By Lawrence B. Wilkerson
The Washington Note


There are several dimensions to the debate over the U.S. prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba that the media have largely missed and, thus, of which the American people are almost completely unaware. For that matter, few within the government who were not directly involved are aware either.

The first of these is the utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the early stages of the U.S. operations there. Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.

This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, of the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and of the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to "just get the bastards to the interrogators".

It did not help that poor U.S. policies such as bounty-hunting, a weak understanding of cultural tendencies, and an utter disregard for the fundamentals of jurisprudence prevailed as well (no blame in the latter realm should accrue to combat soldiers as this it not their bailiwick anyway).

The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.

The third basically unknown dimension is how hard Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage labored to ameliorate the GITMO situation from almost day one....(Click for remainder).

Lawrence B. Wilkerson was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

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A.I.G. Sues U.S. for Return of $306 Million in Tax Payments

WTF? Seriously, what the 'f' is wrong with this damned corporation? Doesn't the US Taxpayer own 80% of this corporation? Isn't it time for the gov't to exercise its majority shareholder stake, and fire all these bastards. Nationalize the entire thing, and sell off the pieces. If a company is "too big to fail" then it's too big to exist at all.


By Lynnley Browing
The New York Times


While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens.

A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments, which stemmed in large part from its use of aggressive tax deals, some involving entities controlled by the company’s financial products unit in the Cayman Islands, Ireland, the Dutch Antilles and other offshore havens.

A.I.G. is effectively suing its majority owner, the government, which has an 80 percent stake and has poured nearly $200 billion into the insurer in a bid to avert its collapse and avoid troubling the global financial markets. The company is in effect asking for even more money, in the form of tax refunds. The suit also suggests that A.I.G. is spending taxpayer money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do. Its initial claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service last year.

The lawsuit, filed on Feb. 27 in Federal District Court in Manhattan, details, among other things, certain tax-related dealings of the financial products unit, the once high-flying division that has been singled out for its role in A.I.G.’s financial crisis last fall. Other deals involved A.I.G. offshore entities whose function centers on executive compensation and include C. V. Starr & Company, a closely held concern controlled by Maurice R. Greenberg, A.I.G.’s former chairman, and the Starr International Company, a privately held enterprise incorporated in Panama, and commonly known as SICO....(Click for remainder).

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Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza

What I'm going to say may not be in any way, shape, or form, popular. I think that it really needs to be said, however. It is time for the United States to tell Israel "NO more aid!" Zero. Zip. Zilch. Until Israel works fully and completely to solve the conflict with Palestine. I'm tired of the US capitulating to the brutal militaristic regime in Israel.

Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms

By Donald Macintyre
The Independent UK


Israel was last night confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.

The testimonies – the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military – are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation. In one of the testimonies shedding harsh new light on what the soldiers say were the permissive rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead, one soldier describes how an officer ordered the shooting of an elderly woman 100 metres from a house commandeered by troops.

Another soldier, describing how a mother and her children were shot dead by a sniper after they turned the wrong way out of a house, says the "atmosphere" among troops was that the lives of Palestinians were "very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers".

A squad leader said: "At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and – I call it murder – to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away."...(Click for remainder).

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