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President Obama: Weekly Address (Crisis and Service)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

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The Worst Pollster in the World Strikes Again

By Nate Silver
FiveThirtyEight.com


Dirty little secret: I sometimes write material in the late evening that will be posted the following morning. This is one of those instances. The early word, however, is that a Zogby poll to be released today will show Barack Obama's presidential approval numbers at around 50-50.

As of this writing, the Pollster.com average has Barack Obama's numbers at 59.3 percent approve and 33.8 percent disapprove; the Real Clear Politics average is slightly more favorable to Obama, at 61.2 percent approve and 30.5 percent disapprove.

So a Zogby poll that put Obama's numbers at roughly 50-50 would be a significant outlier. Outliers are nothing new, however, when it comes to Zogby polls. They are, in fact, the rule and not the exception.

Let me qualify this a bit: Zogby International conducts two types of polls. One type are conventional telephone polls. Zogby's telephone polls, while prone to somewhat wild fluctuations and subject to their share of erratic results (such as predicting a 13-point win for Barack Obama in the California primary; Obama lost by 9 points), are actually not terrible, and did fairly well on November 4th.

Zogby, however, also conducts Internet-based polls. These polls are conducted among users who volunteer to participate in them, first by signing up at the Zogby website (you can do so yourself here) and then by responding to an e-mail solicitation. These Internet polls, to the extent they rely on voluntary participation, violate the most basic precept of survey research, which is that of the random sample. And as you might infer, they obtain absolutely terrible results....(Click for remainder).

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No Newts

By Joe Klein
Swampland @ Time.com


I've known Newt Gingrich for about 20 years now and I've always enjoyed him intellectually, but detested him politically. The reason for the latter is his now-anachronistic first resort to anger; again and again, he cheapens public discourse through exaggeration and wild claims. One imagines that if John McCain were President and Paul Krugman had said, out of the box, that he wanted McCain to fail, Gingrich would be leading the charge, calling Krugman "unpatriotic" and even, perhaps, traitorous.

As it is, I won't call Newt--or the other conservative hyperbolic baloney slicers--unpatriotic. Just graceless, boorish. And completely, demagogically out of touch with the national mood--which is concerned, serious and resistant to right-wing bullpucky. The latest was Newt's completely over-the-top reaction to Tim Geithner's new regulatory plan on the vile Hannity's program the other night:

We are seeing the biggest power grab by politicians in American history. The idea that they would propose that the treasury could intervene and take over nonbank, nonfinancial system assets gives them the potential to basically create the equivalent of a dictatorship.

You don't want to do what they want, they take over your company. You do what they want, Congress retroactively, and this is what made last week's lynch mob like a third world government when the Congress literally got out of control, panicked, panicked because people were mad at it, and it turned out that the Congress had passed the authorization in the stimulus bill for AIG to pay those bonuses.

The Congress had approved it, the people at AIG were acting what they thought was the rules set by the government. Suddenly they're being attacked, they are retroactively losing their money. Why would anybody want to invest in a country.
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Cramer Gets It Massively Wrong, Again

By Chris in Paris
AMERICAblog

I was worried he might not squeeze in "pitchfork" into his latest rant but yeah, it's in there at the beginning. His rant on Friday asked why everyone was picking on AIG? Why pick on them because there were so many problems for years with executive pay, yet none of us populists ever argued against it. Um, what? That's of course completely wrong because many of us have been fuming about this for years and writing about it.
Now that the AIG bonus debacle has passed, Cramer has a bone to pick with the pitchfork-wielding insta-populists that so railed against the company: Where have you been for the last eight years?

Executives padded their paychecks for President George W. Bush’s entire term, Cramer said Friday, but these critics were silent the whole time. Plus, there were tax cuts for the rich, wholesale deregulation, unchecked short selling – how come there were no congressional hearings then?

Well, Congress is the epicenter of this class war now, Cramer said. Just look at that bonus-tax bill. Executives of TARP-participating companies who make more than $250,000 have to pay 90% of their bonuses to the government. Strange, though, that not a hearing took place prior to the financial crisis. There was little regulation during the run-up to the meltdown, and even less enforcement of what rules there were.
Uhhh, Cramer may not have noticed, but there was an election that resulted in a change of power. No? The GOP never wanted to bother with regulations and in fact, they cut them back. To be fair to Cramer, the Democrats have rarely been known to have much of a spine in these situations out of fear of being called a communist by the Republicans. Even now, the Democrats are only doing something (however little that may be) because voters are furious. It's less Washington and more the voters who are pushing this issue....(Click for remainder).

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Senate Committee Report to Reveal New Details Implicating Bush Officials in Torture

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record


While Congress has focused primarily on the country’s economic turmoil and the lavish bonuses paid to Wall Street executives, a Senate Armed Services Committee report currently in the process of being declassified will force lawmakers to shift gears.

The Armed Services Committee will release--possibly as early as next week—its voluminous report on the treatment of alleged terrorist detainees held in U.S. custody and the brutal interrogation techniques they were subjected to, according to Defense Department and intelligence sources who described the report as the most detailed account to date of the roles senior Bush administration and Defense Department officials played in implementing a policy of torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention centers.

The full declassified version of the report is 200 pages, contains 2,000 footnotes, and will reveal a plethora of new information about the genesis of the Bush administration's interrogation policies. The investigation relied upon the testimony of 70 people, generated 38,000 pages of documents, and took 18 months to complete. The declassified version of his report will include a full account of the roles military psychologists played in assisting the Bush administration implement a policy of torture.

The committee released a 19-page summary of its investigation last year and voted last November to accept the full classified version of the report's findings. According to the executive summary, “efforts by administration officials to place responsibility for detainee abuses mostly on lower ranking military personnel as both inaccurate and misleading.”

The release of the full declassified version of the Armed Service's Committee report will also put additional pressure on the Obama administration to immediately launch a full-scale investigation into the Bush administration’s interrogation program. Last week, the ACLU called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to probe Bush administration officials who signed off on and approved the torture of prisoners.

But at his first prime-time news conference in February, Obama said in response to questions about the Bush administration's interrogation practices that no one is above the law but that he favored looking forward, not backward....(Click for remainder).

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Japan allows its citizens same-sex marriage abroad

By AFP

TOKYO (AFP) — Japan has given the green light for its nationals to marry same-sex foreign partners in countries where gay marriage is legal, a justice ministry official said Friday.

Japan does not allow same-sex marriages at home and has so far also refused to issue a key document required for citizens to wed overseas if the applicant's intended spouse was of the same gender.

Under the change, the justice ministry has told local authorities to issue the key certificate -- which states a person is single and of legal age -- for those who want to enter same-sex marriages, the official told AFP.

Gay activists praised the move.

"This is one step forward," said Taiga Ishikawa, who leads a gay support group. "Gay Japanese have suffered a disadvantage... although they should be able to marry in some countries overseas."...(Click for remainder).

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Querella española por la prisión de Guantánamo

La fiscalía examina la demanda criminal presentada ante Garzón contra el equipo jurídico de Bush. Los abogados esgrimen que la tortura es un delito contra la comunidad internacional.

Para Pere Rusiñol
Público


George W. Bush puede seguir descansando en Texas, pero deberá tener al menos un ojo puesto en España: un grupo de abogados ha presentado a la Audiencia Nacional la primera querella criminal contra algunos miembros de su Gabinete por el atropello de derechos básicos internacionales y torturas en la base de Guantánamo.

La querella, presentada el 17 de marzo, está ya en la mesa del juez Baltasar Garzón. Y aunque formalmente aún no la ha aceptado a trámite, ya ha tenido consecuencias: fuentes jurídicas explican que el juez ha emitido una providencia en la que pide a la fiscalía que examine la querella, que no va directamente contra Bush sino contra el equipo de abogados de la Casa Blanca y el Pentágono que construyó todo el andamiaje que justificó Guantánamo y el uso de la tortura en la "guerra contra el terrorismo".

La iniciativa fue registrada en la Audiencia Nacional el 17 de marzo

La querella está impulsada por cuatro abogados Gonzalo Boyé, Isabel Elbal, Luis Velasco y Antonio Segura con experiencia en causas de delitos contra la humanidad, que no se circunscriben al lugar donde se cometen sino que, por su gravedad, son perseguibles en todo el mundo. El equipo jurídico es el mismo que promovió la querella contra el ex ministro de Defensa israelí Binyamin Ben Eliezer por su responsabilidad en la muerte de los 14 civiles en un bombardeo en Gaza en julio de 2002. Esta última querella ya fue admitida a trámite por el juez de la Audiencia Nacional Fernando Andreu, lo que provocó la indignación del Gobierno israelí.

La nueva querella presentada obligará a la Audiencia Nacional a abordar el caso sobre Guantánamo en nombre de la jurisdicción universal al considerarse pisoteados principios fundamentales como el rechazo de la tortura. Pero los querellantes han encontrado una fórmula para encontrarle conexión también con España y reforzar así sus posibilidades: recuerdan que el juez Baltasar Garzón abrió procedimientos contra cinco personas por su presunta vinculación a una eventual célula española de Al Qaeda Lahcen Ikassrien, Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Reswad Abdulsam, Abu Anas y Omar Deghayes y que pasaron por Guantánamo. Los cinco fueron finalmente absueltos por el Tribunal Supremo al considerar precisamente que no podían tenerse en cuenta las declaraciones sonsacadas bajo tortura en Guantánamo....(Tecleo para el resto).

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Well I've Never Been to Spain, But I'd Love It If They'd Lock Bush Up, And They Might

By Scott Horton
After Downing Street


One of America’s NATO allies—which supported the Bush Administration’s war on terror by committing its troops to the struggle–has now opened formal criminal inquiries looking into the Bush team’s legacy of torture. The action parallels a criminal probe into allegations of torture involving the American CIA that was opened this week in the United Kingdom.

Spain’s national newspapers, El País and Público reported that the Spanish national security court has opened a criminal probe focusing on Bush Administration lawyers who pioneered the descent into torture at the prison in Guantánamo. The criminal complaint can be examined here. Público identifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith.

The case was opened in the Spanish national security court, the Audencia Nacional. In July 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a former Spanish citizen who had been held in Guantánamo, labeling the regime established in Guantánamo a “legal black hole.” The court forbade Spanish cooperation with U.S. authorities in connection with the Guantánamo facility. The current criminal case evolved out of an investigation into allegations, sustained by Spain’s Supreme Court, that the Spanish citizen had been tortured in Guantánamo.

The Spanish criminal court now may seek the arrest of any of the targets if they travel to Spain or any of the 24 nations that participate in the European extraditions convention (it would have to follow a more formal extradition process in other countries beyond the 24). The Bush lawyers will therefore run a serious risk of being apprehended if they travel outside of the United States....(Click for remainder).

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America Divided

By Sandy Shanks
OpEd News


It appears as though America is divided as much as ever. On one side we have the supporters of the charismatic President Obama who are so fervent in their loyalty to him the phenomenon can be likened to adoration of a rock star. On the other side we have his opponents who are just as fervent, fierce actually, in their opposition to the President. The opposition appears to be led by entertainers, not journalists, men such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Jim Robinson, and leading newspapers such as the Washington Post, and a popular news source, Fox.

Liberal and progressive writers and broadcasters heap praise on Obama to the point where they are no longer watchdog journalists but cheerleaders. At the same time, Obama's detractors are attempting to outdo themselves in expressing their distain for what they consider a socialist or communist President.

Before I go any further, I should point out that I am not a progressive nor a liberal. I am a card-carrying Republican, a self-described moderate conservative.

I have also been a strong opponent of President Bush since March 19, 2003, the day America invaded Iraq.

As a moderate, I recognize the need for some type of federal stimulus to the economy.

As a conservative, I am appalled by the horrendous spending of federal dollars we have to borrow, and that this spending is without proper constraints on the recipients of the largesse....(Click for remainder).

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UK Recession: 'It's even worse than we thought,' Says ONS


By Ashley Seager
The Guardian UK


New figures on the UK economy show that it fell even deeper into recession in the fourth quarter of last year than first thought, piling the pressure on the prime minister.

Revised data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that gross domestic product shrank by 1.6% in the last three months of 2008, rather than the 1.5% previously reported. Worse than previously expected output in construction and services was blamed for the downward revision.

It is the worst performance since the second quarter of 1980 and confirms Britain is in the middle of a deep downturn following a contraction of 0.7% in the third quarter of last year and zero growth in the second.

The annual decline was also revised lower, to 2% from 1.9% previously, the worst since 1991.

Opposition politicians claimed the data was another blow to Gordon Brown's authority.

The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Philip Hammond, said: "Far from being better prepared for the recession as Brown told us, the UK economy is shrinking more than the United States, and faster than in the previous recession."...(Click for remainder).

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Michael Reagan Falsely Claimed Dems' Law Told AIG to "Pay the Bonuses"

By Media Matters

On the March 26 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, radio host Michael Reagan falsely claimed that in paying retention bonuses, AIG was following a law "that was written by the Democrats" that said "pay the bonuses." While Reagan did not specify what "law" he was discussing, Republicans and media figures have advanced the falsehood that the economic recovery bill created a right for AIG to pay bonuses. In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did not create the right for AIG -- or any company -- to pay bonuses, much less require them to do so. Rather, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, and the Bush Treasury department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place. Furthermore, the relevant provision in the recovery act, which was based on an amendment by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to award bonuses in the future.

During the segment, Reagan also asserted that the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) -- which is intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods -- was among "all the laws that were in place that helped cause this." By blaming the CRA, Reagan was echoing the conservative claim that efforts to expand homeownership among low-income and minority Americans caused the financial crisis. But actions taken by banks to expand lending to underserved communities, the focus of CRA, did not cause the financial crisis, according to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who stated in a November 25, 2008, letter: "Our own experience with CRA over more than 30 years and recent analysis of available data, including data on subprime loan performance, runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties."...(Click for remainder).

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Hill Piece, Touted by Drudge, Advanced Gregg's False Comparison Between "Debt Levels" of U.S., EU Members

By Media Matters

On March 27, the Drudge Report linked to a March 26 post on The Hill's Briefing Room blog that advanced Sen. Judd Gregg's (R-NH) false comparison of the estimated deficits and increased debt under President Obama's proposed budget and the deficits and debt of nations in the European Union. The Hill reported that Gregg argued Obama's budget would lead to a higher national debt and annual deficits than the EU allows its member states, and confirmed this was the case with regard to deficits, according to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. But The Hill did not mention that the U.S. national debt had already exceeded the threshold permitted by the EU before Obama even took office, that some EU member states currently have deficits or national debts that exceed EU threshold levels, or that EU rules governing deficits include exemptions for circumstances such as "a severe economic downturn."

The Hill article was based on Gregg's assertion during the March 26 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe that Obama and the Democratic Congress will "take the deficit up to about 4 or 5 percent" of gross domestic product (GDP) and "the debt up to 80 percent" of GDP, and thereby leave the U.S. unable to meet the "threshold" required "to get into the EU." Citing Gregg's criticism of the Obama budget, The Hill reported that the EU requires "a budget deficit to be less than three percent, and requires a national debt beneath 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)" and further reported that "[a]ccording to the Congressional Budget Office, the [U.S.] yearly budget deficit would fall well beyond that threshold in coming years."

Article 104 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community prohibits member states' "ratio of government debt to gross domestic product [from] exceed[ing] a reference value, unless the ratio is sufficiently diminishing and approaching the reference value at a satisfactory pace." The Stability and Growth Pact set a "60% of GDP reference value for the debt ratio." However, according to the European Commission's report titled "Public Finances in EMU - 2008," as of 2008, "Eight Member States have a debt ratio above the 60% reference value," including Italy, which has a debt ratio of over 100 percent of GDP....(Click for remainder).

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CNN's Keilar, caption falsely claimed Geithner's financial takeover request was "unprecedented"

By Media Matters

On the March 26 edition of CNN Newsroom, congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar falsely claimed that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's proposal for Congress to pass legislation allowing the federal government to take over failing nonbank financial institutions was an "unprecedented ask" by Geithner. Similarly, during the March 24 edition of Situation Room, CNN repeatedly discussed Geithner's proposal while airing the caption "Unprecedented Request For Power; Admin. wants to regulate non-banks." In fact, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) chairman Sheila Bair -- both Bush appointees -- previously stated that the federal government needed and should have such power.

Additionally, several CNN correspondents, anchors, and hosts have reported that Geithner had requested "unprecedented" power, but did not note Paulson's or Bair's comments.

During a November 20, 2008, speech, Paulson said that "[w]e need a mechanism, essentially an amendment of the federal bankruptcy system, for the orderly wind-down of such institutions," and that with such "wind-down authorities" as part of a "new framework," "we could achieve again the proper balance between market discipline and regulatory oversight, and no institution should be deemed to be too interconnected or too big to fail." From Paulson's remarks:
In the Blueprint for Regulatory Reform that we developed prior to this financial turmoil and released last March, and which has proven to be remarkably appropriate, we recommend a U.S. regulatory model based on objectives that better align the regulatory structure with the reasons why we regulate -- to ensure stability, safety and soundness and to protect consumers while also supporting innovation....
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Ray Mabus, Obama's Pick For Secretary Of The Navy

By Emily Wagster Pettus
Associated Press via The Huffington Post


JACKSON, Miss. — President Barack Obama on Friday nominated former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus to be secretary of the Navy, choosing a political supporter with a two-year career in the service.

Mabus, 60, is a Democrat and campaigned extensively for Obama last year. He had been previously talked about as a candidate for a place in Obama's cabinet as secretary of education.

If confirmed, Mabus would succeed Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter. The secretary is the civilian leader of the service and is responsible for a wide range of duties, from recruiting and mobilizing to overseeing the construction and repair of ships, equipment and facilities.

"At this critical moment in our nation's history, I am grateful that these exceptional public servants have chosen to help my administration bring the change our country needs today," Obama said in a statement announcing Mabus' selection and other administration posts.

Mabus served in the Navy from 1970-72 as a surface warfare officer on the Newport, R.I.-based USS Little Rock. Before then, he was in the Naval ROTC while he was an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi.

He was governor of Mississippi from January 1988 to January 1992. He also served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994-96 under President Bill Clinton. Mabus' name surfaced as a possible Navy secretary soon after Clinton was elected president, but he was not nominated for the post. Mabus' term as governor overlapped part of Clinton's tenure as governor of neighboring Arkansas....(Click for remainder).

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The Hoover Dems Are Breaking...

By Hal Sparks
The Huffington Post


The new coalition of "conservadems" have decided that less than 3 months into Democratic control of the government that they have had enough. They have towed Obama's barge and carry his water far enough! I mean, What do you expect? It's been nearly seven weeks and aside from the stock market going up, first time home sales rising and a 68% approval rating... things are still horrible! Egads! (Clearly their leader Evan Bayh took the shock that he was not going to be VP a lot harder than we knew.)

And this is a serious group of Democrats by the way! I mean Joe Lieberman is one. Y'know the guy who sided with Bush, spoke at the RNC and sh*t-talked Obama every chance he got until 3 days after election day. This is a seriously principled group!

To make sure we new they were bubbling over with principles, they released a press release that they distributed as a WaPo Op-ed. It was meant to reassure Democratic voters and people in the blogosphere who would surely misconstrue their purpose, and view them as hostile, simply because they appear to want to jump up and down on any significant change until it stops moving or taps out....(Click for remainder).

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Republicans Pull a Boehner

By Michael B. Laskoff
The Huffington Post


Last fall, after Obama had won the White House, I took pity on the Republicans and tossed it the kindest gift I could muster, an idea. Granted, it wasn't one that they have taken to -- getting behind the gay marriage cause -- but it was nevertheless an actual idea. I did that with tongue in cheek, but I'm coming to conclude it was better than anything that the party can develop or present on its own.

Since then, the Republicans have gone from midlife crisis to senile dementia. Far from having any ideas, they have become deranged enough to pose a credible danger to themselves. As evidence, I would remind everyone that the RNC de facto leader is Limbaugh. The Great Bloviator -- The Axis of Reactionism -- may be entertaining, but demagogue and point man are not always the same thing. Meanwhile, the party's elected 'leaders' are so baffled that they don't even look smart on Fox News.

Clear evidence of this was provided abundantly yesterday in reaction to two historic but entirely predictable events. On one front, Republic leaders did little more that react with squeamishness when Geithner laid out his plan to expand oversight of previously unregulated financial markets. Other than describe the virtues of a free market, again, and rail about the dangers of over-regulation, they provided no specifics or alternatives. On the Senate side, the New York Times Reports that, "Republicans emerging from briefings at the White House and on Capitol Hill [regarding Afghanistan] withheld comment. Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Representative John A. Bohner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said in a statement that he 'had a constructive meeting at the White House' and that he would 'reserve public comment until the president makes his formal announcement.'" In other words, he has nothing to say, good or bad....(Click for remainder).

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Dick Cheney Was Right

Deficits don't matter -- and Republicans who are complaining about Barack Obama's spending are hypocrites.

By Joe Conason
Salon.com


March 27, 2009 | Dick Cheney once observed that "deficits don't matter," which may well have been the most honest phrase he ever uttered. His words were at least partly true, which is more than can be said for the great majority of the vice president's remarks -- and they certainly expressed the candid attitude of Republicans whenever they attain power. His pithy fiscal slogan should remind us that much of the current political furor over deficit spending in the Obama budget is wrong, hypocritical, and worthy of the deepest skepticism.

In our time, the Republican Party has compiled an impressive history of talking about fiscal responsibility while running up unrivaled deficits and debt. Of the roughly $11 trillion in federal debt accumulated to date, more than 90 percent can be attributed to the tenure of three presidents: Ronald Reagan, who used to complain constantly about runaway spending; George Herbert Walker Bush, reputed to be one of those old-fashioned green-eyeshade Republicans; and his spendthrift son George "Dubya" Bush, whose trillion-dollar war and irresponsible tax cuts accounted for nearly half the entire burden. Only Bill Clinton temporarily reversed the trend with surpluses and started to pay down the debt (by raising rates on the wealthiest taxpayers).

Republicans in Congress likewise demanded balanced budgets in their propaganda (as featured in the 1993 Contract with America), but then proceeded to despoil the Treasury with useless spending and tax cuts for those who needed them least. Even John McCain, once a principled critic of those tax cuts, turned hypocrite when he endorsed them while continuing to denounce the deficits they had caused....(Click for remainder).

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Obama Imposes Strict New Rules For Stimulus Lobbyists

By Alan Fram
Associate Press via The Huffington Post


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says lobbyists pushing for projects in the stimulus package can't utter a word about them to administration officials. But lobbyists are hardly staying mum about this latest affront and are looking for ways to cope with the extraordinary speaking ban.

The restrictions, which began taking effect unevenly this week, have angered lobbyists already upset with Obama's repeated shots at them for wielding too much influence. Critics contend it may be unconstitutional to bar certain people _ registered lobbyists _ from speaking to government officials.

"What disqualifies lobbyists from exercising their First Amendment rights?" said J. Keith Kennedy, a top lobbyist for the Washington firm Baker Donelson.

William Luneburg and Thomas Susman, co-authors of the American Bar Association's manual on lobbying laws, said they knew of no previous administrations curtailing lobbyists' conversations with government officials.

The new Obama rules bar lobbyists from conversations or meetings with federal officials about specific stimulus projects. They can talk generally about the measure's policies if projects are not discussed.

Lobbyists can submit written statements about stimulus projects that federal agencies must post on the Internet within three days....(Click for remainder).

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If a Financial Institution is Too Big to Fail, It's Just Too Big

By Robert Creamer
The Huffington Post


The Obama administration's new proposals to expand the Federal oversight of the nation's financial institutions represent a fundamental departure from the "hands off" policies of the Bush years that allowed last fall's financial collapse. They are critically important to the long-term financial security of our economy and working families.

They also offer the opportunity for us to once again consider the overall structure of the financial services industry itself. Last fall's financial panic raises anew a long-running issue in American politics: how big should financial institutions be allowed to grow?

To most Americans the answer is clear: if a financial institution is too big to fail, it's just too big.

From Andrew Jackson to Williams Jennings Bryant to Teddy Roosevelt and FDR, the battle over size and power of banks and other financial institutions has been a theme that has run throughout American history. The reason is simple. The larger a financial institution becomes, the greater its power to control the lives and futures of ordinary Americans. Of course, that power is never demonstrated so graphically as in times of financial collapse, when the excesses of unregulated markets and supersized financial empires implode on the entire economy.

Elizabeth Warren, who chairs the panel appointed by Congress to oversee the bank bailout legislation, points out that the first "credit freeze" -- or American financial panic -- occurred in 1792, not long after the new country was founded. A credit collapse then occurred roughly every 15 years until the Great Depression, when at long last the Federal Government seriously intervened to regulate the private financial market....(Click for remainder).

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Britain Responds to the "Rule of Law" Nuisance

By Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com


One of the problems for the U.S. Government in releasing Guantanamo detainees has been that, upon release, they are free to talk to the world about the treatment to which they were subjected.  When the Bush administration agreed to release Australian David Hicks after almost 6 years in captivity, they did so only on the condition that he first sign a documenting stating that he was not abused and that he also agree -- as The Australian put it -- to an "extraordinary 12-month gag order that prevent[ed] Hicks from speaking publicly about the actions to which he has pleaded guilty or the circumstances surrounding his capture, interrogation and detention," a gag order which "also silence[d] family members and any third party."

Last month, in response to increasing pressure in Britain over reports of British resident Binyam Mohamed's deterioration in Guantanamo, the Obama administration released him back to Britain.  Ever since, he has been detailing the often brutal torture to which he was subjected over several years, torture in which British intelligence officials appear to have been, at the very least, complicit.  As a result, despite the efforts of both the British Government and the Obama administration to keep concealed what was done to Mohamed, the facts about his treatment have emerged and a major political controversy has been ignited....(Click for remainder).

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Get on Board or Get Outta the Way

By Lance Simmens
The Huffington Post

In the political world, hypocrisy knows no bounds. As I continue to listen to these self-righteous, sanctimonious, and preposterously hypocritical conservatives (and yes -- most of them are Republicans) pontificate on the horribleness, the insanity, the disastrous level of debt we are heaping upon future generations, I want to just puke. That is a technical term for abject disgust.

As I listen to New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg lay out in great detail charts and graphs depicting the end of the world I cannot help but think how in any calculus this man could have entertained the notion of serving in President Obama's cabinet. It certainly testifies either to the man's lack of judgment or disregard for principle.

I served as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee in the 1980's. I witnessed a conservative-fueled set of economic theories that came to be known as Reaganomics result in an explosion of debt. I witnessed the incredible hardships imposed on our citizens during the 1982 recession. I similarly witnessed the growing gap between rich and poor, so studiously enunciated by Kevin Phillips, a former Republican strategist, in "The Politics of Rich and Poor"(1990).

I witnessed the politically disastrous consequences of George H.W. Bush's ill-fated conservative proclamation of "read my lips, no new taxes" in 1992 in an attempt to satisfy a skeptical and intransigent conservative voter base. Had he based his campaign on a more honest and realistic assessment of the economic headwinds who knows what might have happened, but rather adhering to a political calculus he was forced to recant and face chastisement....(Click for remainder).

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Right-Wing PAC Behind Palin Poll Revealed

By Geoffrey Dunn
The Huffington Post


In a story first reported by the superb Alaskan web site Mudflats, there has been a series of robocalls made in recent weeks regarding Alaska governor Sarah Palin in both Iowa and New Hampshire, two key primary sates in the 2012 Republican presidential campaign. (There have also been scattered calls reported in Southeast Alaska).

According to the Mudflats, the calls went something like this:

1. Do you have a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin? 2. Governor Palin thinks A, B, C, D & E. Do you agree with Governor Palin? 3. Do you feel it is important that Governor Palin is reelected as Governor of Alaska?
I also received a tip this week from someone in New Hampshire, indicating that the call seemed more like a "push poll" to her, with the questions being asked in the second part of the survey focusing on Palin's positions on higher taxes, gun control, oil drilling in Alaska and gay marriage rights--clearly some of the core, conservative red-meat issues on which Palin intends to run for President in 2012....(Click for remainder).

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Expanding National Service...Right Wing Ass-Hats Are Apoplectic

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


The Senate easily approved legislation last night that would "broadly expand national community service programs." Naturally, the far-right is livid.

The bill will increase the number of positions available in AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000, and will create "new cadres of volunteers focused on education, clean energy, health care and veterans." The House is expected to endorse the Senate version next week, and will be signed into law by President Obama soon after.

What's more, this has become largely a bipartisan issue. While President Clinton's AmeriCorps initiative in 1993 was largely rejected by Republican lawmakers, last night's vote wasn't close -- 79 senators supported the expanded national service opportunities, including a majority of the Senate Republican caucus. Indeed, there were even a half-dozen GOP co-sponsors.

So, now that both parties see the value in national service, the issue can be added to the (short) list of policy areas where there's widespread agreement? Not quite yet.

Consider the reaction this week from right-wing bloggers. One compared community service programs to "Hitler youth." Malkin called this a "left-wing slush fund." WorldNetDaily said, well, the kind of nonsense WorldNetDaily always says....(Click for remainder).

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Bachmann and Beck Double-Down on Currency Conspiracy Theory

Oh! The stupid! It hurts so much!

By Matthew Yglesias
Think Progress


Michele Bachmann was recently on Glenn Beck’s radio show, so that two of the right-wing’s most prominent nutters could talk, inaccurately, about currency issues:
BACHMANN: Let me tell you, there’s something that’s happening this week in Congress that could be the eventual unravelling for our freedom, and it’s this. I had asked the Treasury Secretary and Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chair, if they would categorically denounce–

BECK: I know.

BACHMANN: –taking the United States off of the dollar and putting us on an international global currency. Because as you know, Russia, China, Brazil, India, South Africa, many national have lined up now and called for an international currency, a One World currency. And they want to get off the dollar as the reserve currency.

BECK: Most people don’t understand what that means.
Here, for once, Beck is on the money. As we’ll shortly see, neither he nor Bachmann understands what that means:
BACHMANN: What that means is that all of the countries of the world would have a single currency. We would give up the dollar as our currency and we would just go with a One World currency. And now for the first time, we’re seeing major countires like China, India, Russia, countries like that, calling for a one world currency and they want this discussion to occur at the G20. So I asked both the Treasury Secretary and the Federal Reserve chair if they would categorically denounce this. The reason why is because if we give up the dollar as our standard, and co-mingle the value of the dollar with the value of coinage in Zimbabwe, that dilutes our money supply. We lose country over our economy. And economic liberty is inextricably entwined with political liberty. Once you lose your economic freedom, you lose your political freedom. And then we are no more, as an exceptional nation, as we always have been. So this is imperative.
This falsehoods here are coming so fast and loose that it’s hard to know where to start here. But to get to the main point, most countries hold “reserves” of various kinds—foreign currency and gold. Most countries, right now, primarily hold dollars. Euros are also popular, and Yen and British Pounds somewhat less so. The United States of America does not, obviously, hold any dollars in our reserves. We actually have quite a lot of gold. And different countries vary their practices in this regard. But most countries mostly hold their reserves in dollars. So the dollar is, in effect, the “global reserve currency.” The IMF also issues something called Special Drawing Rights that countries can use as a reserve asset. SDRs work as a kind of meta-currency, with their value based on a basket of major world currencies. A Chinese official suggested that it might be good for the world to tilt away from such a heavy reliance on dollars as the reserve currency of choice, since this leaves countries exposed to policy decisions in the United States, and toward something more SDR-like that would be balanced between dollars and euros and yen and pounds and so forth....(Click for remainder).

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A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


_______________________________________________________________

                           For Immediate Release                   March 27, 2009                                  


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON A NEW STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

 Room 450
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

 

9:40 A.M. EDT
 

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Please be seated.

Before I begin today, let me acknowledge, first of all, Your Excellencies, all the ambassadors who are in attendance.  I also want to acknowledge both the civilians and our military personnel that are about to be deployed to the region.  And I am very grateful to all of you for your extraordinary work.

I want to acknowledge General David Petraeus, who's here, and has been doing an outstanding job at CENTCOM, and we appreciate him.  I want to thank Bruce Reidel -- Bruce is down at the end here -- who has worked extensively on our strategic review.  I want to acknowledge Karl Eikenberry, who's here, and is our Ambassador-designate to Afghanistan.  And to my national security team, thanks for their outstanding work.

Today, I'm announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.   And this marks the conclusion of a careful policy review, led by Bruce, that I ordered as soon as I took office.  My administration has heard from our military commanders, as well as our diplomats.  We've consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, with our partners and our NATO allies, and with other donors and international organizations.  We've also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. And now I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people.

The situation is increasingly perilous.  It's been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily.  And most painfully, 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for American forces.

Many people in the United States -- and many in partner countries that have sacrificed so much -- have a simple question: What is our purpose in Afghanistan?  After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there?  And they deserve a straightforward answer.

So let me be clear:  Al Qaeda and its allies -- the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks -- are in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan.  And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban -- or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged -- that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.

The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan.  In the nearly eight years since 9/11, al Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier.  This almost certainly includes al Qaeda's leadership:  Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.  They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe haven to hide, to train terrorists, to communicate with followers, to plot attacks, and to send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan.  For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.

But this is not simply an American problem -- far from it. It is, instead, an international security challenge of the highest order.  Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and in Kabul.  If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it, too, is likely to have ties to al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan. The safety of people around the world is at stake.

For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people -- especially women and girls.  The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.

As President, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people.  We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future.  We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends and our allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.

So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal:  to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.  That's the goal that must be achieved.  That is a cause that could not be more just.  And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same:  We will defeat you.

To achieve our goals, we need a stronger, smarter and comprehensive strategy.  To focus on the greatest threat to our people, America must no longer deny resources to Afghanistan because of the war in Iraq.  To enhance the military, governance and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have to marshal international support.  And to defeat an enemy that heeds no borders or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan -- which is why I've appointed Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is here, to serve as Special Representative for both countries, and to work closely with General Petraeus to integrate our civilian and military efforts.

Let me start by addressing the way forward in Pakistan.

The United States has great respect for the Pakistani people.  They have a rich history and have struggled against long odds to sustain their democracy.  The people of Pakistan want the same things that we want:  an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security that can only come with the rule of law.  The single greatest threat to that future comes from al Qaeda and their extremist allies, and that is why we must stand together.

The terrorists within Pakistan's borders are not simply enemies of America or Afghanistan -- they are a grave and urgent danger to the people of Pakistan.  Al Qaeda and other violent extremists have killed several thousand Pakistanis since 9/11. They've killed many Pakistani soldiers and police.  They assassinated Benazir Bhutto.  They've blown up buildings, derailed foreign investment, and threatened the stability of the state.  So make no mistake:  al Qaeda and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within.

It's important for the American people to understand that Pakistan needs our help in going after al Qaeda.  This is no simple task.  The tribal regions are vast, they are rugged, and they are often ungoverned.  And that's why we must focus our military assistance on the tools, training and support that Pakistan needs to root out the terrorists.  And after years of mixed results, we will not, and cannot, provide a blank check.

Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders.  And we will insist that action be taken -- one way or another -- when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.

The government's ability to destroy these safe havens is tied to its own strength and security.  To help Pakistan weather the economic crisis, we must continue to work with the IMF, the World Bank and other international partners.  To lessen tensions between two nuclear-armed nations that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation, we must pursue constructive diplomacy with both India and Pakistan.  To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must make clear that our relationship with Pakistan is grounded in support for Pakistan's democratic institutions and the Pakistani people.  And to demonstrate through deeds as well as words a commitment that is enduring, we must stand for lasting opportunity.

A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone.  Al Qaeda's offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction.  We stand for something different.  So today, I am calling upon Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by John Kerry and Richard Lugar that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years -- resources that will build schools and roads and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan's democracy.  I'm also calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border regions to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued with violence.  And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part -- including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month.

I don't ask for this support lightly.  These are challenging times.  Resources are stretched.  But the American people must understand that this is a down payment on our own future -- because the security of America and Pakistan is shared.  Pakistan's government must be a stronger partner in destroying these safe havens, and we must isolate al Qaeda from the Pakistani people.  And these steps in Pakistan are also indispensable to our efforts in Afghanistan, which will see no end to violence if insurgents move freely back and forth across the border.

Security demands a new sense of shared responsibility.  And that's why we will launch a standing, trilateral dialogue among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Our nations will meet regularly, with Secretaries Clinton and Secretary Gates leading our effort.  Together, we must enhance intelligence sharing and military cooperation along the border, while addressing issues of common concern like trade, energy, and economic development.

This is just one part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the al Qaeda safe haven that it was before 9/11.  To succeed, we and our friends and allies must reverse the Taliban's gains, and promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government.

Our troops have fought bravely against a ruthless enemy.  Our civilians have made great sacrifices.  Our allies have borne a heavy burden.  Afghans have suffered and sacrificed for their future.  But for six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq.  Now, we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals.

I've already ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops that had been requested by General McKiernan for many months.  These soldiers and Marines will take the fight to the Taliban in the south and the east, and give us a greater capacity to partner with Afghan security forces and to go after insurgents along the border.  This push will also help provide security in advance of the important presidential elections in Afghanistan in August.

At the same time, we will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country. That's how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home.

For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training.  And those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq.  Now, that will change.  The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity.  And later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan security forces. For the first time, this will truly resource our effort to train and support the Afghan army and police.  Every American unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and we will seek additional trainers from our NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner.  We will accelerate our efforts to build an Afghan army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011 -- and increases in Afghan forces may very well be needed as our plans to turn over security responsibility to the Afghans go forward.

This push must be joined by a dramatic increase in our civilian effort.  Afghanistan has an elected government, but it is undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people.  The economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency.  The people of Afghanistan seek the promise of a better future.  Yet once again, we've seen the hope of a new day darkened by violence and uncertainty.

So to advance security, opportunity and justice -- not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces -- we need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers. That's how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn't dominated by illicit drugs.  And that's why I'm ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground.  That's also why we must seek civilian support from our partners and allies, from the United Nations and international aid organizations -- an effort that Secretary Clinton will carry forward next week in The Hague.

At a time of economic crisis, it's tempting to believe that we can shortchange this civilian effort.  But make no mistake: Our efforts will fail in Afghanistan and Pakistan if we don't invest in their future.  And that's why my budget includes indispensable investments in our State Department and foreign assistance programs.  These investments relieve the burden on our troops.  They contribute directly to security.  They make the American people safer.  And they save us an enormous amount of money in the long run -- because it's far cheaper to train a policeman to secure his or her own village than to help a farmer seed a crop -- or to help a farmer seed a crop than it is to send our troops to fight tour after tour of duty with no transition to Afghan responsibility.

As we provide these resources, the days of unaccountable spending, no-bid contracts, and wasteful reconstruction must end. So my budget will increase funding for a strong Inspector General at both the State Department and USAID, and include robust funding for the special inspector generals for Afghan Reconstruction. 

And I want to be clear:  We cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption that causes Afghans to lose faith in their own leaders.  Instead, we will seek a new compact with the Afghan government that cracks down on corrupt behavior, and sets clear benchmarks, clear metrics for international assistance so that it is used to provide for the needs of the Afghan people.

In a country with extreme poverty that's been at war for decades, there will also be no peace without reconciliation among former enemies.  Now, I have no illusion that this will be easy. In Iraq, we had success in reaching out to former adversaries to isolate and target al Qaeda in Iraq.  We must pursue a similar process in Afghanistan, while understanding that it is a very different country.

There is an uncompromising core of the Taliban.  They must be met with force, and they must be defeated.  But there are also those who've taken up arms because of coercion, or simply for a price.  These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course.  And that's why we will work with local leaders, the Afghan government, and international partners to have a reconciliation process in every province.  As their ranks dwindle, an enemy that has nothing to offer the Afghan people but terror and repression must be further isolated.  And we will continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans -- including women and girls.

Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course.  Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable.  We’ll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan security forces and our progress in combating insurgents.  We will measure the growth of Afghanistan’s economy, and its illicit narcotics production.  And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals.

None of the steps that I've outlined will be easy; none should be taken by America alone.  The world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos or al Qaeda operates unchecked.  We have a shared responsibility to act -- not because we seek to project power for its own sake, but because our own peace and security depends on it.  And what’s at stake at this time is not just our own security -- it's the very idea that free nations can come together on behalf of our common security.  That was the founding cause of NATO six decades ago, and that must be our common purpose today.

My administration is committed to strengthening international organizations and collective action, and that will be my message next week in Europe.  As America does more, we will ask others to join us in doing their part.  From our partners and NATO allies, we will seek not simply troops, but rather clearly defined capabilities:  supporting the Afghan elections, training Afghan security forces, a greater civilian commitment to the Afghan people.  For the United Nations, we seek greater progress for its mandate to coordinate international action and assistance, and to strengthen Afghan institutions.

And finally, together with the United Nations, we will forge a new Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan that brings together all who should have a stake in the security of the region -- our NATO allies and other partners, but also the Central Asian states, the Gulf nations and Iran; Russia, India and China.  None of these nations benefit from a base for al Qaeda terrorists, and a region that descends into chaos.  All have a stake in the promise of lasting peace and security and development.

That is true, above all, for the coalition that has fought together in Afghanistan, side by side with Afghans.  The sacrifices have been enormous.  Nearly 700 Americans have lost their lives.  Troops from over 20 countries have also paid the ultimate price.  All Americans honor the service and cherish the friendship of those who have fought, and worked, and bled by our side.  And all Americans are awed by the service of our own men and women in uniform, who've borne a burden as great as any other generation’s.  They and their families embody the example of selfless sacrifice.

I remind everybody, the United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan.  Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on September 11, 2001, for doing nothing more than going about their daily lives.  Al Qaeda and its allies have since killed thousands of people in many countries.  Most of the blood on their hands is the blood of Muslims, who al Qaeda has killed and maimed in far greater number than any other people.  That is the future that al Qaeda is offering to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan -- a future without hope or opportunity; a future without justice or peace.

So understand, the road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days ahead.  But we will seek lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan that promise a new day for their people. And we will use all elements of our national power to defeat al Qaeda, and to defend America, our allies, and all who seek a better future.  Because the United States of America stands for peace and security, justice and opportunity.  That is who we are, and that is what history calls on us to do once more.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

 
END
10:02 A.M. EDT

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David Shuster's Hypocrisy Watch: Karl Rove

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Matt Taibbi: A Guy He Saw Huffing Glue Out of Paper Bag Made More Sense Than Michelle Bachmann


By Heather Friday
Crooks and Liars


Leave it to Matt Taibbi to tear into Michelle Bachmann in a way only he can. Matthews had to know what type of response he was going to get here and Taibbi didn't disappoint. His reply when asked about some of Michelle Bachmann's latest hackery.
Taibbi: You know it's funny this morning outside of Penn Station I saw a guy huffing glue out of a paper bag, and he was making more sense than Michelle Bachmann was making. I can't believe it. You need to pass a written test to drive a car in this country but I bet this woman can't even write her name in the ground with a stick. I mean it's just unbelievable to me that this person is in the Congress.
Political Base asks the obvious "elephant in the room" question: At what point should we start calling Bachmann "treasonous"?

(Click for remainder).

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Bachmann Blasts Obama's "Economic Marxism," Calls For "Orderly Revolution" To Save Freedom

By Eric Kleefeld
Talking Points Memo


Wow. Just plain wow. This past Wednesday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show, and sharply reiterated her calls for revolution in America, warning against the imminent dangers of tyranny under Barack Obama:


"We are headed down the lane of economic Marxism," said Bachmann. "More quickly, Sean, than anyone could have possibly imagined. It's difficult for us to even keep up with it day to day."

And then came this:
At this point the American people - it's like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And by that, what I mean, an orderly revolution -- where the people of this country wake up get up and make a decision that this is not going to happen on their watch. It won't be our children and grandchildren that are in debt. It is we who are in debt, we who will be bankrupting this country, inside of ten years, if we don't get a grip. And we can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer.
"If Tim Geithner is successful under President Obama, and they move us to an international currency," Bachmann warned, "Then we have no hope of standing on our own as a sovereign nation with our own economic system. It's over. We can't do that."

Bachmann also declared: "Economics works equally in any country. Where freedom is tried, the people rejoice. But where tyranny is enforced upon the people, as Barack Obama is doing, the people suffer and mourn."...(Click for remainder).

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DNC Web Ad: The Number Zero, Brought To You By The Party Of N-O

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BREAKING: UPS Announces It Will Stop Advertising On Bill O’Reilly’s Show

By Faiz Shakir
Think Progress


In response to our Stop Supporting The O'Reilly Harassment Machine campaign, UPS told us yesterday that it was investigating whether to continue supporting O'Reilly's show. "We are sensitive to the type of television programming where our messages and presence are associated and continually review choices to affect future decisions," spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg told us.

Today UPS announced it will stop advertising on O'Reilly's show. Here is the statement UPS emailed out just moments ago:
Thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O'Reilly show on FOX News. We do consider such comments as we review ad placement decisions which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show.
Here's a graphic of the email statement we received:

(Click for remainder).

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Why Immigrant Workers Will Fill the Streets This May Day

By David Bacon
Truthout


In a little over a month, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people will fill the streets in city after city, town after town, across the US. This year these May Day marches of immigrant workers will make an important demand on the Obama administration: End the draconian enforcement policies of the Bush administration. Establish a new immigration policy based on human rights and recognition of the crucial economic and social contributions of immigrants to US society.

This year's marches will continue the recovery in the US of the celebration of May Day, recognized in the rest of the world as the day recognizing the contributions and achievements of working people. That recovery started on Monday, May 1, 2006, when over a million people filled the streets of Los Angeles, with hundreds of thousands more in Chicago, New York and cities and towns throughout the United States. Again on May Day in 2007 and 2008, immigrants and their supporters demonstrated and marched, from coast to coast.

One sign found in almost every march said it all: "We are Workers, not Criminals!" Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they'd just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building or picking grapes. The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to the United States to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they've found here....(Click for remainder).

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Plutocrats to Meet in Greece

I'm not a tinfoil hat wearing, conspiracy theorist, but I found this article interesting.

By James P. Tucker, Jr.
American Free Press


Bilderberg will return to its 1993 crime scene when it attempts to meet secretly in Vouliagmeni, Greece, May 14-17. Bilderberg will return to the grounds of Nafsika Astir Palace hotels in Vouliagmeni, 20 miles outside Athens, and meet behind guards at the Westin Nafsika.

High on the Bilderberg agenda will be how to manipulate the global economic crisis for their selfish interests. They will pressure both European and North American nations to pull back from “protectionism” in the later meetings of heads of state. Since the international financiers and high officials of government see themselves as “citizens of the world” and scorn “nationalism,” their only loyalty is bankrolls, not their country. They love free trade, essential for world government.

Thus, they are determined that the United States and other nations refuse to impose tariffs that would equalize competition at the water’s edge. They want to continue shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas where cheap labor may be exploited. They want to continue importing products made by slave labor in China and Africa, underselling domestic products.

Bilderberg, a secret elitist group that meets each spring at posh resorts protected by armed guards, uniformed police, sometimes the host nation’s military plus a brigade of private, plain-clothes guards, tries hard to keep its deliberations secret. But, with help from the European media and with inside sources, their mischief is always revealed to this newspaper....(Click for remainder).

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