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Huntsman to China: It's About Romney

Sunday, May 17, 2009

By Al Giordano
The Field @ Narco News

When, a day before the 2008 Tsunami Tuesday primaries, Michelle Obama visited with top apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, eyebrows were raised. What was the Obama campaign doing reaching out to Mormons, some said, who have long been a reliable voting bloc for Republicans? Mormons for Obama had, in fact, been formed a year before that, even as former Mormon Bishop Mitt Romney was pursuing the Republican nomination for President.

The nomination, yesterday, of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to be US Ambassador to the People's Republic of China - like Romney, a handsome and articulate boy-wonder billionaire of that faith - has those eyebrows wagging again. It speaks volumes of the outside-the-box tendencies of the President and his team that the thought would even occur to them to appoint such an unexpected envoy, that they would know that Huntsman - a former LDS missionary in Taiwan - speaks Mandarin, and that they'd be able to convince the Governor to switch jobs for a post that is not necessarily a promotion. They must have also had good enough intelligence to sense that Huntsman was bored at his current gig. That they made the sale is a head turner, indeed.

That they announced this shortly after Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele gaffed his way into another controversy, this time regarding the evident anti-Mormon bigotry in Evangelical Christian circles, is nothing less than political poetry. Steele said, on Bill Bennett's radio show, "Remember, it was the base that rejected Mitt because of his switch on pro-life, from pro-choice to pro-life. It was the base that rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism..."

What is a gaffe? Generally it's something that's true but that society doesn't want to admit....(Click for remainder.)


Bush U.S. Attorneys - Many of Them - to be Replaced in 'Next Couple of Weeks'

By Brad Friedman
Brad Blog

For those who have wondered (particularly when looking at the incredibly miscarriages of prosecutorial injustices and improprieties in cases like Gov. Siegelman's), no, Obama has yet to replace Bush's partisan U.S. Attorneys, incredibly enough. But he will, says AG Holder, according to Politico...
President Barack Obama plans to replace a "batch" of U.S. Attorneys in the next few weeks and more prosecutors thereafter, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.

"I expect that we'll have an announcement in the next couple of weeks with regard to our first batch of U.S attorneys," Holder said Thursday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing which stretched out over most of the day due to breaks for members' votes. "One of the things that we didn't want to do was to disrupt the continuity of the offices and pull people out of positions where we thought there might be a danger that that might have on the continuity--the effectiveness of the offices. But...elections matter--it is our intention to have the U.S. Attorneys that are selected by President Obama in place as quickly as they can."
Holder's comments Thursday came in response to a question from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) "Many jurisdictions are waiting desperately to see what is going to be done. As we understand it, the protocol has been that U.S. Attorneys would hand in their resignations and would give the new administration an opportunity to make new appointments, we don't see that happening quite fast enough," she said, pointing to complaints about prosecutors in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
(Click for remainder.)


Rachel Maddow Show: Tracing Torture's Trail

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

From The Rachel Maddow Show May 14, 2009. Rachel lays out the time line for how torture was used in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and to justify the invasion after the U.S. had already gone in.
MADDOW: But we begin with a major development in what we know about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his role in authorizing torture. Over the past three months, there has been a steady stream of new information released about the Bush administration‘s torture program. Today, the dots started to connect—all the way up to the office of the former vice president of the United States.

Within three months after the attacks on 9/11, the Bush administration began making the case for invading Iraq, because Iraq, they said, was connected to al Qaeda. Vice President Cheney went on “Meet the Press” and said that Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, met with Iraqi officials before the attack.


RICHARD CHENEY, FMR. U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, what we now have that‘s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that—which has been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.


MADDOW: It‘s been pretty well confirmed, said the vice president. In fact, that report turned out to be false.

But we now know that something else was going on in secret—inside government—while Dick Cheney was making those public pronouncements, like that one that you just saw from December 2001. According to the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Carl Levin, as far as back as December 2001, the Pentagon was seeking information from the agency that runs the SERE program. The SERE program trains U.S. troops to resist the kinds of torture that were used by communist forces to get false confessions from American troops for use in propaganda.

By July, the people who ran the SERE program had written to the Defense Department, warning the Pentagon explicitly that it would be a mistake to base an interrogation program on SERE techniques—since they were not known to produce reliable or accurate information. Despite that warning, the Bush Justice Department signed off on the techniques the very next month. At that time, U.S. officials are questioning their first known high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah.

Through normal FBI interrogation techniques, Zubaydah is spilling all sorts of information. He identifies Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11. He tells of a supposed dirty bomb plot leading to the arrest of Jose Padilla. He‘s singing, but what he‘s not providing is that link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

An order then comes from somewhere that Abu Zubaydah should be interrogated by other means. And in August 2002, Abu Zubaydah is waterboarded 83 times in one month—despite the warning from the people who train American soldiers to survive waterboarding that that technique was developed to produce false confessions.

Now, around the same time, October 2002, out in public, the Bush administration is stepping up the case to the American people that the link exists between Iraq and al Qaeda.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy—the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high level contacts that go back a decade. We‘ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.


MADDOW: The following month, in November of 2002, President Bush continued to hammer away at this Saddam-al Qaeda link.


BUSH: He‘s a threat not only with what he has. He‘s a threat with what he‘s done. He‘s a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda.


MADDOW: Still unable to prove this link that they are now repeating over and over and over again, the Bush administration gets what they think could be a gold mine. On March 1st, 2003, they capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11. By this point, the administration‘s march toward invading Iraq is unstoppable.

And in that month, the same month of the invasion, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is waterboarded 183 times—six times a day. And while he admits to everything from kidnapping the Lindbergh baby to shooting JFK on the grassy knoll, KSM fails to provide one thing the Bush administration desperately needs at that moment.

The White House is launching its invasion of Iraq without any clear evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. On March 20th, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq. They‘re still waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed at that time. Shock and awe—the war begins.

The Bush White House has two huge problems on its hands. One, it still hasn‘t proven a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. And two, it needs to find the weapons of mass destruction that they said were in Iraq. Enter Charles Duelfer, a former U.N. weapons inspector who is sent to Iraq after the invasion to help locate those weapons.

In April of 2003, the month after the invasion, Duelfer is involved in the questioning of a high-ranking Iraqi, who was an intelligence officer for Saddam Hussein. Duelfer and the rest of the team are getting information from that officer. He is, as they say, being cooperative.

But at some point during the process, a message comes from Washington. Quote, “Some in Washington at very senior levels, not in the CIA, were concerned that the debriefing was too gentle. They asked if enhanced measures, such as waterboarding should be used.”

Duelfer says he considered the request to be reprehensible. He believed the rationale for the order was political. The request it seemed was to use waterboarding to find the Iraq-al Qaeda link, a link the White House had failed to prove for more than two years despite even using methods known to provide false information.

U.S. officials were being asked to waterboard not to prevent some imminent attack, but to justify an attack that had already been launched by us—against Iraq.

Today, the bombshell news from former NBC News investigative producer, Bob Windrem, that the suggestion to torture this Iraqi source, to use torture not to prevent an attack but to find that link, that suggestion came directly from the office of Vice President Cheney.
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The Significance of Huntman's Move

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) was supposed to be spending quite a bit more time in New Hampshire and Iowa, not Beijing. And yet, Huntsman appears to have scrapped his 2012 plans to give up his governorship and become President Obama's U.S. Ambassador to China.

I was speaking earlier with Michael Cohen via email, and he compared Huntsman's move to Arlen Specter's party switch.
"Specter is a hack who switched parties for his own cynical reasons -- but for a guy like Huntsman in a safe state with a bright political future to basically say, 'To hell with the GOP. I'll spend a few years carrying water for a Democratic President' ... well, it just speaks volumes.

"Not only does it suggest that the GOP is alienating non-dogmatic conservative politicians, but it suggests that Huntsman basically considers the Republican Party, in the near-term, a lost cause. This is the kind of guy who could move Republicans to a more sensible middle ground and he doesn't seem to have any interest at all. It's the political equivalent (sort of) of Bill Clinton joining the Bush Administration in 1989."
That sounds right to me. Huntsman has clearly been eyeing the 2012 Republican presidential race -- he brought on John Weaver as a leading advisor for a reason -- and even leading Dems like David Plouffe saw him as a pol to watch. Now, however, he's not only giving up his job to serve overseas, he's doing so for a Democratic president. "Rising stars" in Republican politics just don't do this very often....(Click for remainder.)


Barack Obama: A Highly Logical Approach

By Jon Meacham

In a 30-minute interview aboard Air Force One en route from Washington to Phoenix last Wednesday, President Obama talked with NEWSWEEK's Jon Meacham about Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Dick Cheney—and Star Trek. Edited excerpts:

Meacham: The theme here is what you've learned. What's the hardest thing you've had to do?

The President: Order 17,000 additional troops into Afghanistan. There is a sobriety that comes with a decision like that because you have to expect that some of those young men and women are going to be harmed in the theater of war. And making sure that you have thought through every angle and have put together the best possible strategy, but still understanding that in a situation like Afghanistan the task is extraordinarily difficult and there are no guarantees, that makes it a very complicated and difficult decision.

Can anything get you ready to be a war president?

Well, I think that it certainly helps to know the broader strategic issues involved. I think that's more important than understanding the tactics involved because there are just some extraordinary commanders on the ground and a lot of good advisers who I have a lot of confidence in, but the president has to make a decision: will the application of military force in this circumstance meet the broader national-security goals of the United States? And you can't do that without understanding, let's say in Afghanistan, how that connects to Pakistan and what the nature of the insurgency there is, and what the history of the Soviet invasion was. So having some context, I think, is critical.

The other thing that's critical, I think, is having spent a couple of years on the campaign trail and then a number of years as a senator, meeting with young men and women who've served, and their families, and the families of soldiers who never came back, and knowing the price that's being paid by those who you're sending....(Click for remainder.)


Nancy Pelosi and the Republican Orgasmathon

By Andy Ostroy
The Huffington Post

It had to happen. It was just a matter of time before someone, somewhere in the Democratic party would trip up and provide the GOP with the kind of controversial fodder they've been fantasizing about. And to Republicans, the Nancy Pelosi saga this week is the stuff wet dreams are made of.

Seems House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can't remember being briefed by the CIA back in the Fall of 2002 about the specific use of torture on terror suspects in U.S. custody, in particular the technique known as waterboarding. Yeah, she remembers meeting with the spy agency, but claims waterboarding never came up. The issue here is that Pelosi's been very critical of the Bush administration's use of the illegal torture tactic, so it's important to know if in fact she knew it was taking place and when. Adding to the complexity of this mess is the fact that she's admitted to knowing about it through briefings just 6 months later, but kept quiet because she felt "powerless" being in the Democratic minority at that time. That is perhaps the most lame excuse since "the dog ate my homework."

I'm no fan of Pelosi. I think she's terrible as the face of House Democrats. She's shrill, combative and speaks like a teenager trying to explain why she's late for class. There are some people who project sincerity and integrity, but Pelosi's just the opposite. She comes across as a duplicitous partisan hack. A Tom Delay with tits, yet lacking the balls and efficiency. Whereas Delay was ruthless and resolute, Pelosi's simply an ineffective trainwreck. If she's found to be lying about what the CIA told her and when--former CIA Director Porter Goss claims she in fact was briefed in 2002 about the waterboarding of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah--then she should be prosecuted along with Bush, former VP Dick Cheney and everyone else who authorized the use of illegal torture tactics.

But let me stop being the objective Democrat for a second and acknowledge the multiple orgasms rippling through the Republican Party right now over the Pelosi saga, which right-wing radio and TV host Sean Hannity said is "blossoming into a Watergate like cover up and scandal." On his radio program, a near-hyperventilating Hannity repeats the mantra "what did she know and when did she know it" every three minutes, literally....(Click for remainder.)


Gov. Huntsman to Resign and Join Obama Admin. as Ambassador to China

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

Looks like another GOP moderate may be out of the running as a potential Presidential candidate in 2012.
President Barack Obama reached across the political divide Saturday and named Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a potential Republican presidential contender in 2012, to the sensitive diplomatic post of U.S. ambassador to China.

Fluent in Mandarin Chinese from his days as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan, the 49-year-old Huntsman is a popular two-term governor who served in both Bush administrations. He has made a name for himself advocating a moderate agenda in one of the nation's most conservative states.

Huntsman made headlines recently for encouraging the Republican Party to swing in a more moderate direction if it wanted to bounce back from the 2008 elections, angering some conservatives.

Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, said Huntsman is a Republican who "seems to understand the party has to adjust — not stubbornly believe that everything is OK and it is the country that has to change." Huntsman's positions have led some to consider him a potential contender for president in 2012. But Obama's decision to name him ambassador probably rules out the possibility he would run in 2012, writes NBC's First Read. As Politico notes, it's the equivalent of George W. Bush hiring John Edwards or Hillary Clinton in 2001-2002.
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Earth's Enemies: GE, Monsanto and Obama's AG Pick, Ignacia Moreno

By Rady Ananda
OpEd News

With Obama’s Department of Justice pick to head the Environment and Natural Resources Division, there can be little doubt the man of "hope" and "change" shills for the worst corporations on the planet. Not only has Obama chosen:
  • Monsanto's Michael Taylor to captain the corporate takeover of our food supply;

  • Iowa's Biotech Governor, Tom Vilsack, who promotes genetically modified organisms in our food supply, as Secretary of Agriculture;
But now he has nominated Ignacia Moreno, defender of environmental terrorist General Electric, as Assistant Attorney General.

How cozy to have Monsanto and GE lawyers working together! Now we can all eat frankenfood produced by corporations that poison the environment. Don't you love corporate-run government?

According to the Housatonic River Initiative:
"Monsanto produced PCBs at plants in Sauget, Illinois and Anniston, Alabama until 1978. PCBs were used in capacitors, transformers, hydraulic fluids, lubricants, carbonless copy paper, inks, pesticide extenders, sealants and flame-retardants.

"Several different trademarked names for PCBs are used by various polluters. Westinghouse called its product Inerteen. Monsanto used the trademark Aroclor, while GE used the trade name, Pyranol, to denote its version of Monsanto-produced PCBs. Pyranol was used by GE from 1932 until 1977."
Ed Bates served as the Manager of Tests for the Power Transformer at the GE plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Acknowledging a 3% loss of PCB product, he estimates that GE dumped "about a million and a half pounds of PCBs" into the Housatonic River. The EPA reports only 40,000 pounds. Thirty years later, the river basin is still toxic.

OEN member, Jesse Robinson, writes: “I live near Pittsfield and my grampa lives in Pittsfield. When I go rock climbing near there, it would be great if I could go swimming in the Housatonic afterwards, but I can't because it is filled with poison.”...(Click for remainder.)


The Oxy-Moron, aka Limbaugh, Thinks Pelosi Should Resign

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

So the wingnuts are having their fun this week with the Nancy Pelosi Pinata, including the Flaming Gasbag himself:
Limbaugh: We are going to learn very soon if women can finally break the glass ceiling. You know what the test is? Let me tell you what the test is. Will Nancy Pelosi resign as Speaker of the House? That's the test. Come on now, we've had two men resign -- maybe even three! -- we've had Fort Worthless Jim Wright resign as Speaker, we've had Mister Newt resign as Speaker, we had Bob Livingston resign as Speaker-elect, before he became Speaker. So if women really want equal treatment, if they really want to crash through that glass ceiling, there is no better benchmark than Nancy Pelosi taking herself and her place right alongside two men who resigned -- Fort Worthless Jim Wright, and Mister Newt.
Gee, no latent animus toward women there, eh? Whatever. Let them have their fun -- it's what they do, and somebody's gotta be the pinata. They'll eventually move on when it all becomes lifeless enough, usually when the realization there's not much there there dawns on their dim horizons. It's even sometimes useful for "bipartisan" Democrats of the Pelosi mold to have to endure this treatment, since it reminds them just who their friends really are.

Because ultimately, as we've said, this sideshow is irrelevant. Indeed, what right-wingers seem to have virtually guaranteed is that we'll have the Truth Commission that this whole diversion was about avoiding in the first place. Rather than establish that Pelosi had no standing to call for one, all this foofara has done is demonstrate the real need for having a thorough and dispassionate examination of the matter that sets the record straight and plays no partisan favorites....(Click for remainder.)


Giving Some Love to the Inquisition

By Robert Parry
Consortium News

At a Senate hearing this past week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, rallied to the defense of ex-President George W. Bush’s torture techniques by implicitly endorsing the Spanish Inquisition’s brutal treatment of Jews, Muslims, Protestants and other alleged heretics from the 15th to 17th centuries.

“One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work,” Graham said on May 13 in the latest Republican justification of Bush’s authorization of tactics such as forced nudity, sleep deprivation, painful stress positions and the near-drowning of waterboarding.

In a normal world, one might have expected national outrage over a prominent U.S. senator speaking favorably of the Spanish Inquisition, which pioneered innovations in torture that encompass many of the techniques – including the water torture now known as waterboarding – that Bush used against “war on terror” detainees at the start of the 21st Century.

Beyond the inhumanity of the Inquisition, there is the troubling fact that the torture tactics did “work” only in the sense that they extracted many false confessions and got victims to implicate other individuals who were, in turn, persecuted, tortured and put to death for their religious beliefs.

But Graham’s praise for the efficacy of the Inquisition’s torture tactics passed largely unnoticed -- and without any perceptible criticism -- in the American news media. The Washington Post article on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing didn’t even mention Graham’s extraordinary remark; a brief New York Times article about the hearing mentioned it only in passing....(Click for remainder.)


Mother of U.S. Marine Who Was Waterboarded Rips Cheney, Others

By GregMitch
Daily Kos

As the usual rationalizations for U.S. torture (it works, it's not so bad, we didn't do it anyway) have come under increasing attack in recent days, a relatively new defense has emerged, from GOP members of congress, columnist Charles Krauthammer, Fox News' Jim Angle, and many others: Waterboarding can't be torture because we used it on "thousands" of our own troops as part of their training!

Of course, some have questioned the degree of waterboarding (was it the lite version?) and, of course, none of the military personnel were subjected to it 83 times. But the argument remains out there.

This week, I received a letter from a woman from Florida, mother of a young Marine, who has corresponded with me before about her military background and her son joining up, at Editor & Publisher. Her latest letter was extremely disturbing and also extremely relevant to the latest torture excuse. Here is it is, with her name omitted for obvious reasons.
Dear Mr. Mitchell,

I have been so profoundly upset for the last few days that I can hardly express it, so I decided to write to you again. My son is ok physically, thank God, but what was done to him by his own leaders sickens me beyond belief.

My son was in a field that required that he attend SERE [Survival Evasion Resistance Escape] school. He was trained as a member of a flight crew that could potentially go behind enemy lines, so SERE was required. I'm a veteran, I thought I had an idea of what was ahead for him, so I gave him a maternal pep talk and told him that it would be very hard but these people were on his side and were trying to prepare him for all possibilities and this would help make him prepared and tough.

I didn't know how naïve my encouragement was. I thought they would teach him how to escape, and how to survive. I had no idea that it would be a sadistic exercise in dehumanizing and terrifying him. He was 19 at the time. I am sickened by this, and outraged.

My 19 year old son was water boarded, among other despicable things, and I had encouraged him to succeed at SERE. They did more to him that he has yet to explain to me, one thing that went on long enough for him to start hallucinating and to think he was dying....

Now we all have found that the two men who came up with this program were using my son and everyone else who went through SERE as guinea pigs for their sick, sadistic torture program. Then they sold their torture program to the sadists in the Bush Administration and became overpaid military contractors who spread this poison throughout our military.

My son is not reenlisting. He is getting out soon. He has been depressed for a long time now and can't wait to get out.

This is why I'm writing to you: Yesterday on TV I saw some Republican mouthpiece, some ex-Cheney aide, who has never worn a uniform and has NO idea what the hell he is talking about, say that we never tortured anyone because we did it to our own troops and they volunteered to serve; therefore it isn't torture. His statement was allowed to stand unchallenged.

My son did NOT volunteer to be tortured. He was NOT told what would be done to him at SERE. He was told he would be taught to survive. Instead he was tortured, humiliated, degraded, shamed, and told to keep quiet about it. How in God's name would that prepare any of our troops to survive capture? It won't. It will only make them break quicker in the hopes of not having to go through more torture.

Who will speak up for my son and the others like him who joined the military to serve and who were subjected to sadistic torture, not by the enemy, but by the war criminals ostensibly on our side? These people, Cheney and his talking heads, everyone of them chicken hawks who avoided serving, should NOT be allowed to use torturing our troops as rationalization for their crimes.

There is NO excuse for this. People need to go to jail for this, and I don't mean the Lyndie Englunds and other low-ranking troops who were led into this. I mean the people who ordered it at the top. The people who are still trying to justify their crimes and are now having their mouthpieces use my son and others who were tortured as their cover. And for what? So the sadists who came up with this, and they are sadists, can keep themselves out of trouble? They all stood by silently, including Cheney, while lower-ranking troops went to prison for the evil they ordered done. Now they want to use my son's torture as their rationalization? No!

This must NOT be allowed to stand unchallenged.

I can't stand feeling so helpless. I WANT A VOICE. I want to confront those evil people who are still selling this torture as if it were our only defense against terrorists, and who now are attempting to use our troops to defend their indefensible, morally corrupt, war crimes.

My son was not given a choice, he was not made aware of what would be done to him, he was ordered not to talk about it. He was tortured - by sadists, for bigger sadists.

Who will stand up to those responsible for this?
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Michael "Token" Steele: Marriage Equality is Bad for Small Business

Photo: ABC News

By Stephen C. Webster

The Raw Story

RNC Chairman Michael Steele wouldn't have risen to his position if he weren't a pretty sharp tack. ... But you wouldn't know it listening to him argue against marriage equality.

From the Associated Press:
Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.

"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. "So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money."

As Steele talked about ways the party could position itself, he also poked fun at his previous pledge to give the GOP a "hip-hop makeover."

"You don't have to wear your pants cut down here or the big bling," he said.
Gee, does this mean the Republican party will stop claiming marriage equality will lead to people marrying animals? Or have we not yet heard the last from the "homosexuality is worse than pedophilia" crowd?...(Click for remainder.)


U.S. Economic Uptick Doesn't Mean Crisis is Over, Says Top Economist

By Agence France-Presse
The Raw Story

FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil – A few recent glimmers of economic hope emerging in the United States do not mean the global crisis is over, a top economist who advises US President Barack Obama said Saturday.

The crisis “is certainly the worst that I have seen in my career,” Martin Feldstein, a 69-year-old Harvard economist and member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board told a world tourism conference in Brazil.

“The evidence simply doesn’t support” the conclusion that the United States is on its way to a sustained recovery, said the academic, who also served as an advisor under former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

He added that Europe’s economy is “equally bad if not worse than in the US,” and “Japan has been hit even harder.”

While some US observers and media in recent weeks have struck an optimistic tone on the back of a rebound in the stock market and positive results from big US banks, Feldstein said that was “temporary” because the bad news far outweighed the good.

He stressed that a “one-time rise in GDP due to the stimulus package” implemented by Obama’s administration was being extrapolated across the rest of the year.

But he said that stimulus package, headlined as an 800-billion-dollar initiative spread over two or more years, in fact equated to just 300 billion dollars for this year.

That, Feldstein said, was less than half the 750 billion he estimated had been sliced out of the US economy by dramatic stock market losses, home price declines and a drop in residential construction caused by the crisis....(Click for remainder.)


Cheney, Master of Pain

By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times

WASHINGTON - Dick Cheney has done many dastardly things. But presiding over policies so saturnine that they ended up putting the liberal speaker from San Francisco on the hot seat about torture may be one of his proudest achievements.

Nancy Pelosi’s bad week of blithering responses about why she did nothing after being briefed on torture has given Republicans one of their happiest — and harpy-est — weeks in a long time. They relished casting Pelosi as contemptible for not fighting harder to stop their contemptible depredations against the Constitution. That’s Cheneyesque chutzpah.

The stylish grandmother acted like a stammering child caught red-handed, refusing to admit any fault and pointing the finger at a convenient scapegoat. She charged the C.I.A. with misleading Congress, which is sort of like saying the butler did it, or accusing a generic thuggish-looking guy in a knit cap with gang tattoos to distract from your sin.

Although the briefing was classified, she could have slugged it out privately with Bush officials. But she was busy trying to be the first woman to lead a major party. And very few watchdogs — in the Democratic Party or the press — were pushing back against the Bush horde in 2002 and 2003, when magazines were gushing about W. and Cheney as conquering heroes....(Click for remainder.)


Gore on the Climate on CNN


First Analysis of Full Waxman-Markey Climate Bill

By Teryn Norris & Jesse Jenkins
The Huffington Post

The landmark Waxman-Markey 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act was introduced in the House yesterday (May 15, download PDF here), and the Breakthrough Institute has performed a preliminary analysis of how it would invest over $1 trillion in cap and trade revenue between 2012-2025. Our key findings for this period include (all numbers are approximate -- download spreadsheet here):
  • Polluting industries: 57.3% of allowances would be freely distributed to polluting industries, including 36.7% for the electricity sector, 12.3% for energy-intensive industries, 6.5% for local natural gas distribution companies, and 1.8% for oil refiners

  • Direct consumer protection: 16.5% of allowances would be used for direct consumer protection , including 15% for low and moderate-income families and 1.5% to benefit users of home heating oil and propane

  • Energy efficiency and clean energy technology: 12.2% of allowances would be used to fund energy efficiency and clean energy technology development and deployment

  • Adaptation and technology transfer: 4.7% of allowances would be used for domestic and global climate adaptation and technology transfer

  • Workforce development: 0.6% of allowances would be used to fund worker assistance and job training

  • Deficit reduction and other: 8.6% of allowances would be used to fund deficit reduction and other public purposes

(Click for remainder.)



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