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Hillary Clinton Speech To Northern Ireland Assembly

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Part 1




Part 2



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“...and Our Prosperity”

By Gary Hart
Matters of Principle

This little-noticed phrase in the Preamble to our Constitution has profound significance for laws and governing.  If taken seriously it could force us to think entirely differently about laws and government.

The Preamble justifies our Constitution as the basis for forming a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty "to ourselves and our posterity."  Most scholars, though not all, conclude that "our posterity" applies to securing the blessings of liberty.  Some believe we must take into account "our posterity" in achieving all of the Constitution's purposes.

Either way, the idea that future generations have a stake in carrying out the Constitution's objectives is profound.  When we go to war or even just buy weapons, when we act or do not act on climate change, when we do or do not reform health care, when we preserve wilderness or extract non-renewable resources, when we bail out banks and industries, when we do these and many, many more things, we do so not only for ourselves but also for our posterity, as far into the future as we can imagine generations.

Though political figures often acknowledge "our children and grandchildren" in their speeches, when you listen to political arguments today they almost always have to do with how will this or that affect me, right now, in my life.  Almost all of our concerns are about the impact of decisions on ourselves and our lives.

Assuming our Founders to have been serious people and most of all those who chose words carefully who knew they were writing for the ages, we can assume they meant what they said.  We are to take into account the impact on our posterity's achievement of the blessings of liberty, and perhaps much more, when we make important public decisions....(Remainder.)

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Bob Dole Was Told to STFU on Health Care by Mitch McConnell

By John Amato
Crooks and Liars

Bob Dole was told to keep his trap shut by non other than the odious Mitch McConnell, the man who has as an approval rating as low as Dick Cheney's.
The GOP’s 1996 candidate for president said he was asked by current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., not to issue a bipartisan statement calling for passage of health care reform legislation.

“We’re already hearing from some high-ranking Republicans that we shouldn’t do that — that’s helping the president,” Dole said. He later specified that the people he referred to included one “very prominent Republican, who happens to be the Republican leader of the Senate,” according to The Kansas City Star .Dole was also quoted as saying that partisanship by his own GOP was behind the delay in reaching agreement on a final health care bill..
I don't expect Dole to suddenly go on the air and rip into his party, but the fact that this much got out says a lot. The republicans have no plan for health care reform so any words that come from older republicans on the hot topic carries a sting to it.

Mitch will be on Face the Nation today and I wonder if Bob Schieffer will bring it up or read a David Brooks column. Maybe they'll just want to talk about the Nobel Peace prize. What do you think?...(Original.)

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Memo to the Media: Fox News is now the Opposition Party

By Eric Boehlert
Media Matters


Fox News has changed the rules. Now the press needs to change the way it covers Fox News.

Rupert Murdoch's cable cabal is now, first and foremost, a political entity. Fox News has transformed itself into the Opposition Party of the Obama White House, which, of course, is unprecedented for a media company in modern-day America. That partisan embrace means the news media have to expand beyond typing up Fox News-ratings-are-up and the White-House-is-angry stories, and it needs to start treating the cable channel for what it is: a partisan animal.

The press needs to drop its longstanding gentleman's agreement not to write about other news outlets as news players --not to get bogged down in criticizing the competition -- because those newsroom rules no longer apply. Fox News has exited the journalism community this year. It's a purely political player, and journalists ought to start covering it that way.

I understand Fox News still wants to enjoy the benefits of being seen as a news operation. It still wants the trappings and the professional protections that go with it. But it no longer functions as a news outlet, so why does the rest of the press naively treat it that way?

Fox News is now at the forefront of a political movement. As blogger Glenn Greenwald tweeted at the time of the Sept. 12 Washington, D.C., rally:
Seems like a fairly new phenomenon that we now have a political movement led by a TV "news" outlet -- that usually happens elsewhere.
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Big Vote for Health Overhaul in Senate Committee

By The Associated Press
The Raw Story


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's plan to remake the nation's health care system is about to take its biggest step yet toward becoming reality.

The pivotal Senate Finance Committee was poised to approve sweeping legislation Tuesday requiring nearly all Americans to purchase insurance and ushering in a host of other changes to the nation's $2.5 trillion medical system.

Much work would lie ahead before a bill could arrive on Obama's desk, but action by the Finance Committee would mark a significant advance, capping numerous delays as Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., held marathon negotiating sessions — ultimately unsuccessful — aimed at producing a bipartisan bill.

Four other congressional committees acted before August to pass health legislation, so for months all eyes have been on the Finance Committee, the remaining one. It's also the panel whose moderate makeup most closely resembles the Senate as a whole. And the committee's centrist legislation is seen as the best building block for a compromise plan that could find favor on the Senate floor.

With Democrats holding a 13-10 majority on the committee the outcome of Tuesday's vote is not in doubt. The big question mark is whether moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine will become the first Republican to support a health overhaul bill. The legislation that passed the other House and Senate committees did so without a single Republican vote. On Monday, Snowe still wasn't saying....(Remainder.)

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The $800 Billion Deception

Conservatives claim the stimulus has already failed. But it has barely started.

By Daniel Gross
Slate


From the moment it passed, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the stimulus bill—has been the subject of controversy. Many critics have deemed it a debacle, since unemployment has continued to rise in the months since its passage. The Republican Party declared the bill a failure over the summer, and House Minority Leader John Boehner recently deemed it a waste: "You can't spend $800 billion of taxpayer money and not create jobs when you say that's what the goal was." At a dinner several weeks ago, I heard a cable news reporter, one whose job is to report numbers accurately, declare that "we've already spent $800 billion and it was a waste." I suppose it's too much to ask political hacks and TV reporters to get the size and timing of the stimulus package right. But I expect better from my colleagues at the Washington Post editorial page, which on Sunday argued against further stimulus measures because they would add to the scary national debt and because "the government still hasn't run through half of the $787 billion in tax cuts and spending increases enacted this year."

Some things about the stimulus are indeed complicated. How precisely do you measure the number of jobs "saved" when the federal government cuts checks to states, thus allowing them to avoid budget cuts? But some things about the stimulus are quite simple, including its size and the amount of it that has been spent so far.

To begin with, the stimulus was $787 billion, not $800 billion. (Those of you who think there isn't much of a difference, please make out a check for the difference to Daniel M. Gross.) The more egregious error has to do with the timing. Many critics act as if the entire amount has already been spent. They're completely wrong. Even to argue that it's been half-spent, as the Post, does, is only half-right....(Remainder.)

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Levin Claims That Other Western Countries Have Lifted Military Ban on Gays

By Catharine Richert
PolitiFact


President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he plans to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule, which prevents openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military.
 
But so far, no go.
 
Meet the Press host David Gregory asked Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate's Armed Services Committee, whether Obama would follow through on his promise.
 
"I think he, he will and he can," Levin said on the Oct. 11, 2009, episode. "I think it has to be done in the, in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible. Other militaries in the West, the British and other Western armies, have ended this discriminatory policy. We can do it successfully."
 
Before we dig into Levin's claim that other Western countries have already repealed similar policies, some background: On the campaign trail, Obama wrote an open letter to the LGBT -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender -- community, stating that, as president, he would "bring about real change for all LGBT Americans." Chief among his efforts would be a repeal of the military's rule, one that was put into place during the Clinton administration.
 
That's easier said than done, however. Obama cannot simply undo "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," it must be repealed by Congress. So, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in March 2009 that the administration was not actively pursuing a rule change, we gave Obama a Stalled on our Obameter for his promise to overturn the policy.
 
The issue was back in the news Oct. 11 when Obama spoke at a gathering of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. He told the group: "I'm working with the Pentagon, its leadership and the members of the House and Senate on ending this policy."...(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck Goes to War

By Truthdig

Fox News personalities are so sensitive. After White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said that “we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave,” Glenn Beck grabbed his toys and declared war.

Dunn told The New York Times, “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent.”

Beck jumped on that phrase, making a mental leap to the war in Afghanistan.

We’re pretty sure Dunn meant political opponent, a role Fox News has worked hard to play, but apparently Beck took it as a threat to bomb his wedding party....(Original.)



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Why Do Conservatives Hate America?

By Eugene Robinson
Truthdig


Somebody explain this to me: The president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and Rush Limbaugh joins with the Taliban in bitterly denouncing the award? Glenn Beck has a conniption fit and demands that the president not accept what may be the world’s most prestigious honor? The Republican National Committee issues a statement sarcastically mocking our nation’s leader—elected, you will recall, by a healthy majority—as unworthy of such recognition?

Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?

OK, I know, it’s just some conservatives who’ve been exhibiting what they, in a different context, surely would describe as “Hanoi Jane” behavior. Others who haven’t taken leave of their political senses—and are familiar with the concept of manners—responded to President Barack Obama’s unexpected award with equanimity and even grace. Sen. John McCain, for example, offered his good-natured congratulations.

Some of Obama’s most strident critics, however, just can’t give it a rest. They use words like farce and travesty, as if there were always universal agreement on the worthiness of the Nobel peace laureate. Does anyone remember the controversy over Henry Kissinger or Yasser Arafat or F.W. de Klerk?

The problem for the addlebrained Obama-rejectionists is that the president, as far as they are concerned, couldn’t possibly do anything right, and thus is unworthy of any conceivable recognition. If Obama ended all hunger in the world, they’d accuse him of promoting obesity. If he solved global warming, they’d complain it was getting chilly. If he got Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu to join him around the campfire in a chorus of “Kumbaya,” the rejectionists would claim that his singing was out of tune....(Remainder.)

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Al-Qaeda 'Faces Funding Crisis'

By BBC News

Al-Qaeda is in its worst financial state for many years while the Taliban's funding is flourishing, according to the US Treasury.

Senior Treasury official David Cohen said al-Qaeda had made several appeals for funds already this year.

The influence of the network - damaged by US efforts to choke funding - is waning, he said.

The Taliban, meanwhile, are in better financial shape, bolstered by Afghanistan's booming trade in drugs.

According to Mr Cohen, the al-Qaeda leadership has already warned that a lack of funds was hurting the group's recruitment and training efforts.

"We assess that al-Qaeda is in its weakest financial condition in several years and that, as a result, its influence is waning," Mr Cohen said from Washington.

But he added that as the organisation had multiple donors who were "ready, willing and able to contribute" the situation could be rapidly reversed.

However, the assistant secretary for terrorist financing said that the Taliban were in a better financial position, despite efforts to control the movement's cash supply....(Remainder.)

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US 'Bolsters' Afghan Troop Presence

By Al Jazeera English

The Pentagon is dispatching an additional 13,000 US soldiers to Afghanistan beyond the 21,000 announced publicly by Barack Obama, the US president, in March, according to the Washington Post daily.

The additional forces are primarily support forces - such as engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police - the Washington Post said, bringing the total build-up Obama has approved for Afghanistan to 34,000.

"Obama authorised the whole thing. The only thing you saw announced in a press release was the 21,000," a defence official familiar with the troop-approval process told the Washington Post.

The report, posted on the newspaper's website late on Monday, comes as Obama weighs a request from General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in  Afghanistan, for more combat, training and support troops, with several options including one for 40,000 extra soldiers.

But the newspaper noted that the maximum number of US service  members expected in Afghanistan by year's end - 68,000 - would remain the same....(Remainder.)

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Prize for Hope

By Petar Pismestrovic
Kleine Zeitung (Austria)



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Gay Marriage Court Battles Heat Up This Week

By Shelby Grad
Los Angeles Times


Nearly a year after California voters approved Proposition 8, the court battles over the ban on gay marriage fight are intensifying this week.

Foes of Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage, are demanding access to internal campaign records and correspondence between the Yes on 8 campaign's leaders and their political consultants. A federal judge last week agreed some of those records should be released.

Supporters of the proposition say they will appeal the order, arguing it amounts to a violation of free speech rights.

Meanwhile, the two sides will be in court this week over a larger challenge to the legality of Proposition 8. On Wednesday, proposition supporters will ask a federal judge to throw out the challenge and essentially cancel an expected January trial date over the legality of the same-sex marriage ban.

Legal experts told the San Jose Mercury News that Proposition 8 backers have an uphill battle in having the case thrown out so early....(Remainder.)

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Federal Official Says Time is Right for Gay Rights

By Associated Press
365 Gay


(Orlando, Fla.) The climate for passing gay civil rights laws has never been better, but it could be a decade before another chance comes around, the highest-ranking openly gay official in the Obama administration said Friday.

“This is the best opportunity we will ever have as a community and shame on us if we don’t succeed,” said John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

A House vote Thursday put Congress on the verge of significantly expanding hate crimes law to make it a federal crime to assault people because of their sexual orientation. Later this year, Congress is expected to hold hearings on a measure prohibiting workplace discrimination – including decisions about hiring, firing and wages – based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The clock is against us,” Berry said in a speech at the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates conference in Orlando. “If we lose this, it could be years if not a decade before this opportunity comes around.”

He said a political climate like the current one – with the president, Congress and public opinion open to passing gay rights legislation – may not come again for a long time.

Berry oversees the agency that manages the federal government’s workplace. His speech at the Orlando conference came a day before President Barack Obama was set to address the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights group....(Remainder.)

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White House Talks DADT With Lieberman

By Kerry Eleveld
Advocate.com


Shortly after President Barack Obama pledged Saturday to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Administration’s highest-ranking LGBT official said the White House is speaking with certain senators about strategies for repealing the policy -- specifically Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“On ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ this administration is talking directly to the Hill -- we are in direct discussions with Senator Lieberman,” John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, told The Advocate.

A spokesman for Senator Lieberman confirmed that the senator had been speaking to the White House about the bill. “Senator Lieberman has had discussions with representatives of the Administration and others on the best way to reverse this policy, which he has opposed since it was first proposed in 1993,” said Marshall Wittmann, Lieberman’s press secretary. Wittmann gave no further information on the senator’s plans regarding the legislation.

A House repeal bill that was introduced in March is being carried by Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and currently has 177 sponsors.

Berry said on Saturday that the goal was to introduce Senate legislation with bipartisan support -- the same goal the late Sen. Edward Kennedy had always hoped to achieve.

People familiar with the strategy around Senate introduction say the discussions generally involve two different tracks: the bipartisan track, with at least one of the cosponsors sitting on the SASC; and a second track, which would be a Democratic introduction by someone who sits on the SASC.

Some reports have mentioned Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, as a candidate to sponsor the bill, but a source familiar with discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Reed was not a prime target....(Remainder.)

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For Columbus Day: Indians Say You Can Shove Your Apology

By Rude One
The Rude Pundit

That's an editorial cartoon from Indian Country Today by Marty Two Bulls, typifying a "yeah, hey, really, no" response from much of the Indian community to the Senate's passage of an apology to Native Americans for, you know, all that shit like genocide, treaty-breaking, etcetera, etcetera. The wording of it is, more or less, "Our bad." To demonstrate how seriously they took the effort to say America's sorry, the measure, sponsored by Democrat Byron Dorgan and Republican Sam Brownback, was passed as an amendment to a defense appropriations bill. The resolution passed the Senate last year, but failed to be signed into law. Now it looks like it's finally gonna make it through. Hey, look: bipartisanship when there's no consequences.

You should totally read the Native American Apology Resolution just for the line: "Whereas despite the wrongs committed against Native Peoples by the United States, Native Peoples have remained committed to the protection of this great land, as evidenced by the fact that, on a per capita basis, more Native Peoples have served in the United States Armed Forces and placed themselves in harm's way in defense of the United States in every major military conflict than any other ethnic group." It may as well say, "And thanks for the mascots, too."

While some Indian groups and others find it to be a step in the right direction, it's not inappropriate to say that in many quarters of Indian America, the resolution, which explicitly denies reparations or claims against the United States for, you know, genocide, treaty-breaking, etcetera, etcetera, has been met with, "Hey, fuck you. Howzabout some fuckin' help instead?" Like Kevin Abourezk, a Lakota journalist, who writes, "Each year, we watch the health, safety and education of our children erode like the sandy banks of a raging river. But rather than improved health care or justice programs, Native people get this: an apology from the Senate." To their credit, South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson, a Democrat, and John Thune, a Republican, said that this was a nice, if empty, start, and that more needs to be done for Indian communities....(Remainder.)

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And Now a Note from the Insane World of Glenn Beck: 45% Of Doctors Quitting If Health Reform Passes

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Schwarzenegger Creates Day Honoring Harvey Milk

By Don Thompson
Associated Press via Google News


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Slain gay rights activist Harvey Milk will get a special day of recognition in California, making him only the second person in state history — in addition to conservationist John Muir — to gain such a designation.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signing of the bill establishing "Harvey Milk Day" each May 22, Milk's birthday, was announced Monday.

The Republican governor vetoed similar legislation a year ago. In the interim, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in August and was the subject of a movie for which Sean Penn won the Academy Award for best actor.

Penn spoke out in favor of the bill last spring, saying he didn't want to insult Schwarzenegger's intelligence by assuming the governor would again oppose creating Harvey Milk Day.

"He has become much more of a symbol of the gay community than he was a year ago because of those things," Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said. "That made the difference from last year: he's really come to symbolize the gay community in California."

In his veto message a year ago, the Republican governor said Milk should be honored locally by those who were most impacted by his contributions. He did not write a signing message this year saying why he flip-flopped.

Milk was a leader in the gay rights movement who was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. The bill said he was the nation's first openly gay man elected to public office in a major U.S. city....(Remainder.)

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Morals Without God

By Frans de Waal
The Huffington Post


Without God, we will live like animals!


After listening to the debate between Bill O'Reilly and Richard Dawkins, it struck me again that the resistance to evolutionary theory largely stems from the illusion that without God there can be no morality. Some believers feel threatened by evolutionary theory not because the theory is right or wrong -- the evidence doesn't seem to matter much to them -- but because accepting it would mean accepting that we have been created by natural processes including our morality. The final part is what bothers them the most.

O'Reilly exclaimed that at least Jesus had "advanced the human condition in a moralistic way" and another believer, Reverend Al Sharpton, expressed the same sentiment in a 2007 debate in the New York Public Library:
"If there is no order to the universe, and therefore some being, some force that ordered it, then who determines what is right or wrong? There is nothing immoral if there's nothing in charge."
Similarly, I have heard people literally echo Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov, exclaiming that "If there is no God, I am free to rape my neighbor!"...(Remainder.)

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Breitbart's BigGovertment Attacks AARP, Others, as Part of "Organizing Too for the American Left"

By Media Matters

From an October 10 post on BigGovernment.com:



(Original.)

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