Pam's House Blend
Gov. Sarah Palin named Anchorage lawyer Wayne Anthony Ross as her new attorney general on Thursday. We did not expect her to pick a gay-friendly AG, however his blatant prejudice expressed in a public letter to the state Bar shows that he is a poor choice for our top attorney:
"During a fight several years ago over gay rights, [Allison] Mendel helped organize Anchorage lawyers in support of an anti-discrimination ordinance. Ross wrote a nasty letter to the Bar Association newsletter, using words like "immoral", "perversion" and "degenerates." The language went way beyond reasonable disagreement, Mendel and others said." -- from Wayne Anthony Ross never a quiet force, Anchorage Daily NewsThe state House and Senate will hold separate confirmation hearings on his appointment.
Other interesting facts about Wayne Anthony Ross, known as WAR, the initials on his vanity plate:
- He was a founder of Alaska Right to Life and represented, without fee, anti-abortion protesters charged with trespassing. "I feel I have a good relationship with the good Lord (but) if I could overturn Roe vs. Wade, I figure I got my ticket," he told a reporter.
- He was the defense lawyer for former Rep. Vic Kohring, who is serving a 3 1/2 year sentence on corruption charges.
- He opposes Native subsistence rights and was the lead lawyer in the case that got Alaska's subsistence law declared unconstitutional. When running for governor in 2002, he said he would hire a band of "junkyard dog" assistant AG's to challenge the federal law that requires subsistence preference, or seek changes through Congress.
- He wrote for the Anchorage Times and the conservative Voice of the Times, and titles like "KKK ' Art' Project Gets' A' For Courage" are listed on the publications page of his Ross & Miner law office.
Noted climatologist George Will shifted gears to constitutional law yesterday, arguing that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) (i.e., the bailout) is unconstitutional. The specific claim is that it violates the nondelegation doctrine, which holds that "legislative" acts cannot be "delegated" to other entities, particularly the executive branch.
There are at least two interesting aspects of Will's column. First, it reminds us why it's always important to understand the logical implications of Will's (and his ideological comrades') seemingly innocent legal arguments. The column sounds reasonable enough on first read. The EESA, Will argues, is too broad, and it gives the executive too much power. Fair enough.
However, the doctrine that Will wants to use to kill the EESA would have the added benefit of effectively destroying the post-New Deal administrative state. It's always the New Deal with these people.
Today, the doctrine is essentially toothless -- and hasn't been used to invalidate a statute since the New Deal. (Good short summary on the doctrine here). But for decades, the more extreme elements of the legal conservative world have been trying to revive it from the dead. As the summary above indicates, both Thomas and Rehnquist have tried -- but no such luck thus far.
It's also no surprise that Will cites law professor Gary Lawson for support. In addition to being a "founding member" of the Federalist Society, Lawson thinks the post-New Deal administrative state is unconstitutional. And that's the whole point -- it's not about the bailout, but about federal regulation more generally.
In short, this is a doctrine with extreme implications that has been pushed by the most extreme members of the conservative legal community. (And, rather wankerishly, by Cass Sunstein)....(Click for remainder).
I Married an Illegal Immigrant: A First-Hand Account of How Screwed Up This Country's Rules for Foreigners Are
By Joshua Holland
Immigration is an issue that always spurs heated debates. There are some decent arguments floating around, some kooky ones and one that reveals that the person making it is utterly clueless about the issue. That argument, in a nutshell, is that the system's fine.
Sure, there are around 11 million people in this country illegally; sure, many toil away in horrific conditions without any legal protections; yes, we detain suspected illegal immigrants (children included) -- meaning some number of legal immigrants and citizens as well -- in obscene conditions that human rights groups say violate international norms and, yes, those citizens who employ undocumented workers do so with something very close to impunity.
But the system's not broken, according to these folks. That's just a liberal talking point bandied about by those with a perverse desire to actually fix it. (This is closely related to the even more ridiculous assertion that the government doesn't do much to enforce the immigration laws. It does -- much more than enough, in fact, given the nature of the offense in question.)
Now, there is a significant group of people who would never, ever suggest that our immigration system is anything less than dysfunctional. That group consists of anyone who has ever had any opportunity to interact with it in any way whatsoever.
Although I am a U.S. citizen -- belonging to a fourth-generation immigrant family -- I count myself among that group. What I learned through the experience is that the difference between a "legal" and "illegal" immigrant often comes down to whether one can afford a decent, well-connected lawyer....(Click for remainder).
Rod Dreher has a very puzzling post about gay marriage. There are some bits I will not engage with -- for instance, while believing that gay sex is sinful might be part of Dreher's religious tradition, I do not think it's at all integral to the Bible; in fact, I have always thought that one could make a decent case for allowing gay marriage on the basis of Paul's claim that it is better to marry than to burn.
What interests me more is this:
"If homosexuality is legitimized -- as distinct from being tolerated, which I generally support -- then it represents the culmination of the sexual revolution, the goal of which was to make individual desire the sole legitimate arbiter in defining sexual truth. It is to lock in, and, on a legal front, to codify, a purely contractual, nihilistic view of human sexuality. I believe this would be a profound distortion of what it means to be fully human. And I fully expect to lose this argument in the main, because even most conservatives today don't fully grasp how the logic of what we've already conceded as a result of being modern leads to this end."Let's start with the "purely contractual, nihilistic view of human sexuality" that is supposed to be the danger here. I take it that there's nothing wrong with a contractual view of human sexuality -- that is, a view according to which sex is only OK if both parties consent. The problem has to be with a purely contractual view, according to which the only question one needs to ask before having sex is: has the other person consented? This is akin to the 'nihilistic' part: a nihilistic view of sex would be one according to which you don't even have to ask about the consent part. Anything -- literally anything -- goes....(Click for remainder).
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian UK
European leaders, led by Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, come to the crucial Docklands summit on Thursday believing they are winning or have won the argument about how to tackle casino capitalism.
The case pushed by Merkel repeatedly in recent weeks, and echoed by France and the European commission, is that there is no point now in more tax cuts and deficit spending to boost demand since it is not yet clear whether the huge fiscal stimuli packages already launched are actually going to work.
Rather, the Europeans argue, the focus should be on fixing a European and global system that is broke – through a new supervisory and regulatory regime. This option, Merkel declared at the weekend, offers the best chance of avoiding similar crises erupting once a decade, as has been the cycle since the 1980s.
"You are hugely mistaken if you think that this is just a storm and that we'll be back to the same old rules after a few difficult months," Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said at the weekend.
Ahead of the summit, the dispute has been about priorities. The Europeans have underlined their determination to prioritise regulation and supervision of the markets – a new "financial markets architecture" – over public spending and fiscal stimuli as the key to successful and sustainable recovery.
There is agreement on both sides of the Atlantic on the need for both regulation and public spending. The battle between the Europeans on the one hand and the US and Britain on the other for the past few months has been over emphasis and effectiveness and over which aspect should dominate – regulation or stimulus....(Click for remainder).
By Evan Thomas
Traditionally, punditry in Washington has been a cozy business. To get the inside scoop, big-time columnists sometimes befriend top policymakers and offer informal advice over lunch or drinks. Naturally, lines can blur. The most noted pundit of mid-20th-century Washington, Walter Lippmann, was known to help a president write a speech—and then to write a newspaper column praising the speech.
Paul Krugman has all the credentials of a ranking member of the East Coast liberal establishment: a column in The New York Times, a professorship at Princeton, a Nobel Prize in economics. He is the type you might expect to find holding forth at a Georgetown cocktail party or chumming around in the White House Mess of a Democratic administration. But in his published opinions, and perhaps in his very being, he is anti-establishment. Though he was a scourge of the Bush administration, he has been critical, if not hostile, to the Obama White House.
In his twice-a-week column and his blog, Conscience of a Liberal, he criticizes the Obamaites for trying to prop up a financial system that he regards as essentially a dead man walking. In conversation, he portrays Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and other top officials as, in effect, tools of Wall Street (a ridiculous charge, say Geithner defenders). These men and women have "no venality," Krugman hastened to say in an interview with NEWSWEEK. But they are suffering from "osmosis," from simply spending too much time around investment bankers and the like. In his Times column the day Geithner announced the details of the administration's bank-rescue plan, Krugman described his "despair" that Obama "has apparently settled on a financial plan that, in essence, assumes that banks are fundamentally sound and that bankers know what they're doing. It's as if the president were determined to confirm the growing perception that he and his economic team are out of touch, that their economic vision is clouded by excessively close ties to Wall Street."...(Click for remainder).
Remember those days of not that long ago when Allen Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve? Recall that the well known student of Ayn Rand objectivism was called The Bubble King?
Bubble King! What a ring it has and how the name was deserved since Greenspan richly earned it. America marched in lockstep to the bubble scheme of the moment.
America had the dot com bubble at one point. There were those cheerleaders on CNBC from Wall Street who kept telling us that only the doomsayers were saying that those dot com stocks were overvalued, urging Americans to buy more.
As is the case with bubbles, they turn into busts, and those alleged doomsayers were correct. Just ask Bill Gates about the plummet that his Microsoft stock took after the smoke puffs vanished and the cold, harsh wind of reality set in.
So what do you do if you are Bubble King and one bubble bursts? You move on to the next bubble, and so it was with those home mortgages.
In fact, why not make it risk free for certain folks and send off speculative junk packaged with fancy names? There’s nothing like good old swaps and derivatives to substitute for what used to be a manufacturing base.
Those super hot mortgage deals that looked too good to be true it turned out really were “too good to be true.”
The Huffington Post
I fear that these columns have been too polite. They have directed criticisms at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and national economic policy chief Larry Summers. Lord knows, they richly deserve the criticism. But let's not kid ourselves. The man they work for is named Barack Obama.
President Obama has promised to run an administration of unprecedented openness. And in some respects, such as the ground rules for spending stimulus funds, he has. But in the most important area of all, the financial rescue, the administration is making trillion dollar decisions relying on the Federal Reserve and a small Wall Street club of advisors, with no transparency or public accountability.
In normal policy-making, an administration comes before Congress to request a law; one or more Congressional committees hold hearings; a broad range of witnesses are called; and then the legislation is drafted, enacted, and funds are appropriated. Criteria for spending the public's money are explicitly legislated; and Congress gets to conduct oversight hearings after the fact to see whether the money has been well spent.
But compare that process with the bank rescue, a policy with all the transparency of J.P. Morgan. The current approach to the bailout began last October when a panicky Hank Paulson, then George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary, met with Congressional leaders and told them if they didn't cough up a blank check of $700 billion in a matter of days, the economy would collapse. It took Congress three weeks, but Paulson got his blank check. There were no hearings, no expert witnesses, and no serious discussion of alternative approaches. But at least Congress legislated the funds, and added as a condition the creation of both a Congressional Oversight panel and an independent inspector general....(Click for remainder).
The Huffington Post
The president that Tim Geithner works for is making policy, and he didn't ask Paul Krugman or Rush Limbaugh for their permission! So Krugman and Limbaugh are building personal Obama-Will-Fail, media-based ego empires to hedge their anti-Obama bet.
Yes, I know that open discussion, a "loyal opposition" and all that play a part, and that the strength of the Democratic Party is the free exchange of ideas, as opposed to the top down ideological "purity" of the folks in the Republican Party. However the Obama critics to the left criticize some members of his team for being beholden to the "Wall Street mentality." Well, what about the ethos they are beholden to? These commentators live in a media news cycle bubble, wherein after only 8 weeks they already expect miracles, or they are academics who live in the academy bubble where it's all hot air all the time with no personal buck-stops-here accountability.
Enough is enough! Some of us -- including this life-long Republican and now independent voter -- voted for Obama, and, guess what?: we will back him! We trust Obama more than we trust his detractors. We actually believe in him and are ready to think in years not sound bites.
The Krugman/Limbaugh legacy now depends on Obama (and America) failing in order to vindicate these (and many other) naysayers. Luckily for Krugman/Limbaugh, their "predictions" get a big hearing so they can help guarantee the outcome of their Obama Is Wrong prophecies; sort of like God. Maybe not even "sort of," because together Krugman/Limbaugh make the perfect team: the smart white lefty and the stupid white righty together at last!...(Click for remainder).
Limbaugh Challenged: In LA Times Op-Ed, Klavan Claimed He's "Never Heard" Limbaugh "Utter A Single Racist, Hateful or Stupid Word"
On March 29, the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by Andrew Klavan, a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute's quarterly magazine, City Journal, in which Klavan claimed of Rush Limbaugh: "I listen to Limbaugh every chance I get, and I have never heard the man utter a single racist, hateful or stupid word." Klavan then issued to "liberals" what he referred to as "the Limbaugh Challenge," writing: "Listen to the show. Not for five minutes but for several hours: an hour a day for several days. Consider what he has to say -- the real policy material under the jokes and teasing bluster. Do what your intellectual keepers do not want you to do and keep an open mind." Media Matters for America, however, listens to the entire Rush Limbaugh Show everyday and has documented numerous examples of Limbaugh spewing offensive commentary and basic misstatements of fact. Media Matters recently launched the Limbaugh Wire, providing hour-by-hour coverage of and commentary on Limbaugh's program.
Below are some examples of offensive commentary and falsehoods by Limbaugh that Media Matters has documented in just the last month, complete with audio:
(Click for remainder).
- Limbaugh on the flu: "[A]nything you can do to stop it or to arrest it or to retard -- sorry -- to 'Special Olympic' its duration, then it -- you should do it"
- Limbaugh uses Red River flooding to make "dike" jokes
- Limbaugh: "They know [Obama is] lying through his teeth and they still support him. It just means this: what women have always known, 'cheat on me, just don't tell me about it' " (subsequent "apolog[y]" here)
- Limbaugh on Obama: "It's like I said yesterday: cheat on me but don't tell me ... He's a cult leader. Battered liberal syndrome. Cheat on me, just don't tell me"
- Limbaugh on "bogus statistic that 1 of 50 American children are homeless": "Would somebody tell me the last time you saw a kid sleeping under a bridge?"
- Limbaugh refers to "Barack Ogabe," drawing comparison between Obama and Robert Mugabe
- Limbaugh confuses Constitution's Preamble with Declaration of Independence
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Canadian researchers have uncovered a vast electronic spying operation that infiltrated computers and stole documents from government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
In a report provided to the newspaper, a team from the Munk Center for International Studies in Toronto said at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries had been breached in less than two years by the spy system, which it dubbed GhostNet.
Embassies, foreign ministries, government offices and the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York were among those infiltrated, said the researchers, who have detected computer espionage in the past.
They found no evidence U.S. government offices were breached.
The researchers concluded that computers based almost exclusively in China were responsible for the intrusions, although they stopped short of saying the Chinese government was involved in the system, which they described as still active.
"We're a bit more careful about it, knowing the nuance of what happens in the subterranean realms," said Ronald Deibert, a member of the Munk research group, based at the University of Toronto.
"This could well be the CIA or the Russians. It's a murky realm that we're lifting the lid on."
A spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York dismissed the idea China was involved. "These are old stories and they are nonsense," the spokesman, Wenqi Gao, told the Times. "The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cybercrime."...(Click for remainder).
The New York Times
Ten years ago the cover of Time magazine featured Robert Rubin, then Treasury secretary, Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Lawrence Summers, then deputy Treasury secretary. Time dubbed the three “the committee to save the world,” crediting them with leading the global financial system through a crisis that seemed terrifying at the time, although it was a small blip compared with what we’re going through now.
All the men on that cover were Americans, but nobody considered that odd. After all, in 1999 the United States was the unquestioned leader of the global crisis response. That leadership role was only partly based on American wealth; it also, to an important degree, reflected America’s stature as a role model. The United States, everyone thought, was the country that knew how to do finance right.
How times have changed.
Never mind the fact that two members of the committee have since succumbed to the magazine cover curse, the plunge in reputation that so often follows lionization in the media. (Mr. Summers, now the head of the National Economic Council, is still going strong.) Far more important is the extent to which our claims of financial soundness — claims often invoked as we lectured other countries on the need to change their ways — have proved hollow.
Indeed, these days America is looking like the Bernie Madoff of economies: for many years it was held in respect, even awe, but it turns out to have been a fraud all along....(Click for remainder).
The Smirking Chimp
I was talking with an old friend recently, a self-described "conservative, but not a Republican". Eventually, of course, politics and current events found their way into the conversation. This included the economic crisis and government bailouts. And my friend shared his two cents' worth on the subject.
"It's not just the banks," my friend explained. "The Democrats think all businesses are evil, and they'll try to take them all over."
That assertion is, of course, ridiculous. The Democrats do not think all business are evil. And the Democrats don't want the government to take over all businesses. We just see this current recession as an example of the problems that can result from unregulated business run amok.
You wouldn't want a toddler to run free around the house without rules -- for his own protection and to protect the house and its other residents. Likewise, we don't want to allow businesses to pursue their self-centered agendas without some protections in place in the form of rules and accountability.
But there is a big difference between setting some rules and adopting the whole child.
And, while we have had to "adopt" some financial institutions that are allegedly "too big to fail", that doesn't mean that the government is going to take control of all businesses. Such a thing would likely never happen in this democratic republic. That rumor is the result of a ridiculous stretch of the imagination. Such is the power of the right wing's newest fright word: Socialism (which they wrongly equate with Communism)....(Click for remainder).
WASHINGTON — This week's congressional budget fight will reveal a lot about how Congress is likely to proceed this year on President Barack Obama's agenda.
As long as Obama remains popular, most Democratic members of Congress will likely be loyal and only occasionally show flashes of independence, while most Republican lawmakers will be shut out of any meaningful role.
The Senate plans to begin debate Monday on a $3.55 trillion fiscal 2010 budget that's close to what Obama sought. The House of Representatives will consider its version later in the week. It too differs little from Obama's vision. Final votes are expected on Thursday, and negotiators from the two chambers plan expect to craft a compromise by late April.
The budget will set the stage — and in some ways set the rules — for bigger fights to come on health care, carbon emission reduction and tax policy.
Since Democrats have strong majorities in both houses, their moderates hold the keys to success, and they showed last week that they are unwilling at this point to defy Obama or congressional leaders.
As long as Obama's approval ratings stay high, "He can make things happen if he wants to," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Last week's budget deliberations raised a big question about how congressional Democrats measure success: They talked about making big changes to Obama's budget, but in the end didn't, and then both they and Obama declared victory. How do they figure they won?...(Click for remainder).
The Public Record
Alexander the Great couldn’t do; Queen Victoria couldn’t do it; three successive Soviet general-secretaries from 1979 to 1985 couldn’t do it. Both his writings and his first two months in office indicate that President Obama is a man of great confidence and persistence. Unfortunately, he is likely to join his predecessors in failing to stabilize the political and economic foundations of Afghanistan.
Obama’s persistence, in this case, will lead to persistent warfare. Added to this, he has taken on the Sisyphean challenges of strengthening Pakistan’s democracy with $7.5 billion in economic aid over the next five years; forging economic and military cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan; and stabilizing relations between India and Pakistan. Afghanistan will now become Obama’s war, and Southwest Asia may well become his briar patch.
In March 1985, President Mikhail Gorbachev acceded to power; within several weeks he repudiated his predecessors and gave a secret speech to the Politburo that referred to Afghanistan as Moscow’s “bleeding wound.” In December, the Politburo made the political decision to withdraw. Gorbachev went public with the decision in February 1986, and a year later offered to specify a withdrawal timetable in exchange for US support for a coalition government in Kabul. Unfortunately, Secretary of State George Shultz’s refusal to cooperate delayed Soviet withdrawal to 1989 and set the stage for the ultimate triumph of the Taliban in the 1990s. President Bush abandoned the struggle in 2003, when his administration invaded Iraq. Once again, Taliban forces are positioned to triumph in Afghanistan.
Rather than emulate Gorbachev’s decisive withdrawal, Obama has endorsed a compromise plan that combines good advice from Vice President Biden, with bad advice from General David Petreaus, and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Petreaus, who has been given too much credit for his counterinsurgency doctrine and his support for the surge in Iraq, clearly favors a long-term commitment in Afghanistan, an effort to protect the Afghan population, and a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the populace.
Holbrooke, who cut his teeth on a failed Vietnam policy in the 1960s as a junior Foreign Service Officer, wants to widen assistance programs to corrupt and incompetent governments in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Only Biden appears to understand that our only objective in Afghanistan is making sure that al Qaeda does not gain another sanctuary in Afghanistan for planning operations against the United States and that it does not require a stronger military presence in Afghanistan to achieve such an objective. Rather, a stronger military presence will undermine our broader objectives....(Click for remainder).
The Guardian UK
The beginning of the end came with a banquet, a marching band playing under grey skies, and a jewel-encrusted golden fish.
After six years in which Britain has been regarded as friend and foe, liberator and occupier, the army's formal withdrawal from Iraq began yesterday when it handed over its last remaining command post in Basra, the base at the Shat al-Arab hotel.
Tomorrow, the army will surrender its main base to the US army, clearing the way for a full withdrawal by early summer and bringing to an end one of the army's most testing operations since the end of the second world war.
Yesterday's ceremony included a Royal Marine band flown in from Cornwall, playing for an audience of sheikhs and security chiefs, and an exchange of gifts.
The magnificent golden salmon was given to Major General Andy Salmon, who transferred power to an Iraqi division, which the British army has mentored for the last two years. He paid tribute to the recent provincial elections in Iraq which were hailed as a democratic success, despite claims of vote-rigging and a new inquiry into the conduct of some candidates by the Iraqi integrity commission....(Click for remainder).
Associated Press via Google News
BONN, Germany (AP) — For environmental activists, the message was clear: Earth Hour was a huge success.
Now they say nations have a mandate to tackle climate change.
"The world said yes to climate action, now governments must follow," the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said Sunday, a day after hundreds of millions of people worldwide followed its call to turn off lights for a full hour.
From an Antarctic research base and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, from the Colosseum in Rome to the Empire State building in New York, illuminated patches of the globe went dark Saturday night to highlight the threat of climate change. Time zone by time zone, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries dimmed nonessential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
WWF called the event, which began in Australia in 2007 and grew last year to 400 cities worldwide, "the world's first-ever global vote about the future of our planet."
The United Nations' top climate official, Yvo de Boer, called the event a clear sign that the world wants negotiators seeking a climate change agreement to set an ambitious course to fight global warming.
Talks in Bonn this week are the latest round in an effort to craft a deal to control emissions of the heat-trapping gases responsible for global warming. They are due to culminate in Copenhagen this December....(Click for remainder).
By Andrew Clark
The Guardian UK
The chief executive of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, is to resign at the request of the Obama administration under an agreement to secure further government support to keep the cash-strapped US carmaker afloat.
Wagoner's departure is expected to be announced today as President Barack Obama makes public his strategy to restructure Detroit's ailing automotive industry, which has already received more than $17bn (£12bn) in emergency loans from the US treasury.
A GM veteran, Wagoner, 56, has led the biggest US carmaker for eight years. He has spent his entire career at the company, having joined GM's treasury department straight after leaving Harvard University with an MBA in 1977.
White House officials told Reuters that the administration had asked for Wagoner's resignation and that he had agreed. GM declined to comment.
Delicate negotiations have been under way towards a financial rescue for GM with the government pressing for concessions from the company's creditors and unions.
Faced with a collapse in demand for new vehicles as customers struggle to secure car loans from paralysed banks, GM has told the treasury that it needs a further $16.6bn in aid to avert bankruptcy. Its smaller, but equally troubled, rival Chrysler wants $5bn....(Click for remainder).