I support prosecuting 9/11 suspects in federal court[click to send your own]
Dear [Decision Maker],
Your administration made the correct decision when it announced that the 9/11 suspects would be brought to justice in our federal courts. Reversing that course now due to political pressure would be a grave mistake.
Unlike the military commissions, which fail to ensure basic due process guaranteed by U.S. and international law, our federal courts are capable of handling sensitive security issues while preserving American principles of justice and fairness. Our federal courts have successfully tried and convicted more than 300 international defendants on terrorism crimes -- before and after 9/11.
The Constitution does not include an on-off switch. I am writing to urge you to stand by your administration's decision to try all alleged 9/11 conspirators in federal courts -- where they belong.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Democrats shouldn't expect much cooperation from Republicans the rest of this year, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned Monday.[more]
McCain and another Republican senator decried the effect health reform legislation has had on the Senate, a day after the House passed the upper chamber's bill.
GOP senators emerged Monday to caution that the health debate had taken a toll on the institution, warning of little work between parties the rest of this year.
"There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year," McCain said during an interview Monday on an Arizona radio affiliate. "They have poisoned the well in what they've done and how they've done it."
A leader of the House liberals' caucus said Monday she'll introduce new legislation to revive the public option.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), the co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she plans to unveil legislation to add the government-run option to the national healthcare exchange established by legislation President Barack Obama is to sign tomorrow.
"We will introduce a robust public option bill on the very day the president signs the reconciliation bill into law," Woolsey said Monday during an interview on MSNBC.
The public insurance option had been a part of the healthcare legislation first approved by the House in November, but Senate Democratic leaders were forced to abandon the provision after it became clear that they wouldn't be able to get all 60 Democrats (at the time) to sign onto legislation containing that provision.
Woolsey and her co-chairman of the caucus, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), had pushed for the public option throughout the different stages of the health debate, but still ended up voting in favor of the legislation in the end, despite some threats to do otherwise earlier in the process.
CHICAGO – The once mighty community activist group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues — six months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.
"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said.
Several of its largest affiliates, including ACORN New York and ACORN California, broke away this year and changed their names in a bid to ditch the tarnished image of their parent organization and restore revenue that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal.
ACORN's financial situation and reputation went into free fall within days of the videos' release in September. Congress reacted by yanking ACORN's federal funding, private donors held back cash and scores of ACORN offices closed.
Earlier this month, a U.S. judge reiterated an earlier ruling that the federal law blacklisting ACORN and groups allied with it was unconstitutional because it singled them out. But that didn't mean any money would be automatically be restored.
Bertha Lewis, the CEO of ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, alluded to financial hardships in a weekend statement as the group's board prepared to deliberate by phone.
"ACORN has faced a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era," she said. "The videos were a manufactured, sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress."
ACORN's board decided to close remaining state affiliates and field offices by April 1 because of falling revenues, with some national operations will continue operating for at least several weeks before shutting for good, Whelan said Monday.
For years, ACORN could draw on 400,000 members to lobby for liberal causes, such as raising the minimum wage or adopting universal health care. ACORN was arguably most successful at registering hundreds of thousands of low-income voters, though that mission was dogged by fraud allegations, including that some workers submitted forms signed by 'Mickey Mouse' or other cartoon characters.
Last night, as the clock approached midnight and the long House debate on health care reform was finally winding down, Rep. Bart Stupak stepped to the microphone on the floor of the chamber to deliver his remarks. As the famously anti-abortion congressman was denouncing a measure to kill the deal he'd struck earlier in the day for President Obama to issue an executive order reiterating that no federal funds would pay for abortions, a voice suddenly shouted "Baby killer!" from the GOP side of the House floor.[more]
just out of curiosity, is stupak a viet vet?
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Republican attorneys general in at least 12 states warned on Monday that lawsuits will be filed to stop the federal government's healthcare reform bill from encroaching on states' sovereignty.[more]
The lawsuits were widely expected with announcements coming from the states' top legal officials less than 24 hours after the House of Representatives gave final approval to a sweeping overhaul of healthcare.
State officials are concerned the burden of providing healthcare will fall to them without enough federal support.
Eleven of the attorneys general plan to band together in a collective lawsuit on behalf of Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.
"Congress' attempt to force Michigan families to buy health insurance -- or else -- raises serious constitutional concerns," said Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox. "We will fight to defend the individual rights and freedoms of Michigan citizens against this radical overreach by the federal government."
The state attorneys general say the reforms infringe on state powers under the Constitution's Bill of Rights.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who plans to file a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, said Congress lacks authority under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce to force people to buy insurance. The bill also conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance, he added.
"If a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person by definition is not engaging in commerce," Cuccinelli said in recorded comments. "If you are not engaging in commerce, how can the federal government regulate you?"
Forrest McDonald, a retired University of Alabama history professor who has written a book on states' rights, said Congress has no power to make someone buy something.
"You can stretch it all to hell and you're going to find a lot of power, but you can't find the power to make me buy a car or anything," he said.
But Mark Rosen, a Constitution scholar at Chicago-Kent College of Law, said the states do not really have a constitutional leg to stand on.
"Congress has clear authority to pass this type of legislation and under the supremacy clause that makes federal law supreme," he said.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, blasted the lawsuit, saying: "It's a waster of taxpayer money and it's nothing more than political grandstanding," he told reporters.
you know, a lot of folk thought the SCOTUS would declare school vouchers unconstitutional, but it didn't. dems might be wrong on whether law can force folk to buy insurance too.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Obama argues for health care effort on Fox  News
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Wednesday took to the Fox News Channel, derided by his White House as a wing of the Republican Party, to sell his embattled health care overhaul in an interview punctuated with interruptions from the host and chiding from the guest.[more]
Obama sat down with "Special Report" anchor Bret Baier in the executive mansion's Blue Room to talk about a health care plan that is inching toward final passage. Several times Obama chided Baier for breaking into his lengthy answers with follow-up questions.
WASHINGTON (AFP) – A Japanese-American lawmaker took offense Wednesday after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham likened the Democrats' drive on health care to a Japanese suicide attack in World War II.my first impression of lindsey graham comes from when he asked "is this watergate or peyton place?" during a house of representatives impeachment hearing a dozen years ago. he was trying to look like a moderate who would consider all the evidence before passing judgment. he wound up voting not quite in lockstep with his fellow gops and so succeeded in projecting that judicious and impartial image that he moved to the senate four years later with a 10-point victory. his online bio says he is "known as a leader who never abandons his independence or strays from the conservative reform agenda."
Graham, in a radio interview in his home state of South Carolina, lashed out at the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, over her efforts to bring Democrats in line to approve health care reform, a top priority for President Barack Obama.
"Nancy Pelosi, I think, has got them all liquored up on sake and you know, they're making a suicide run here," Graham said.
Representative Mike Honda, who spent part of his childhood interned due to his Japanese origin, asked Graham to "show respect for our fellow Americans."
"I am disheartened that Senator Graham chose to use racially tinged rhetoric to express his opposition to health care reform," said Honda, who heads the Asian-American caucus in Congress.
"There is a way to engage in healthy debate without alienating Asian-Americans, who are an important part of this democracy and health care reform," he said in remarks that he partially posted on Twitter.
Honda, a Democrat from California, is a strong proponent of the bill which aims to extend coverage to at least 31 million uninsured Americans and end abusive practices by insurance companies.
Graham replied that he was making a broader point -- that he believed there was already too much government involvement in health care.
"My comments really reflect the fanaticism of the Democratic leadership. And I don't know whether (it was) sake or moonshine, but no sober person would do this," he said.
"What I would ask the congressman to do is stop this process (so that) all Americans, Japanese-Americans included, do not need to lose their choice in health care," Graham told Fox News.
The explanation did not assuage Honda, who hit back that health care reform would in fact open up choices for Americans by "putting the health care industry in its place."
"For the senator to add 'moonshiners' to an already unsavory sake and suicide statement does a disservice to the underlying issue," Honda said.
"I question who has, in fact -- to use the senator's words -- lost their political mind."
The row comes a year after another Republican senator, Charles Grassley, upset some Asian-Americans by suggesting that executives of bailed-out insurer AIG should commit suicide after accepting millions of dollars in bonuses.
"In the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology," Grassley had told a radio station in his home state of Iowa. He later said his remarks were "exaggerated."
a few years later he got involved in hamdan v. rumsfeld, whose wikipedia article contains this paragraph:
An unusual aspect of the case was an amicus brief filed by Senators Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham, which presented an “extensive colloquy” added to the Congressional record as evidence that "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act would strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear cases brought by the Guantanamo detainees. Because these statements were not actually included in the December 21 debate, Emily Bazelon of Slate magazine has argued this was an attempt to mislead the court.more recently graham exploited dem desires for bipartisanship to get senators kerry and lieberman to agree to modify climate legislation so as to promote offshore drilling, along with nuclear energy and "clean" coal technology.
considering where he's coming from, i guess suicide's not that big a stretch after all.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
NOW do you believe me?
The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to "save the country from trending toward socialism."
The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”
The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.
In neat PowerPoint pages, it lifts the curtain on the often-cynical terms of political marketing, displaying an air of disdain for the party’s donors that is usually confined to the barroom conversations of political operatives.
The presentation explains the Republican fundraising in simple terms.
"What can you sell when you do not have the White House, the House, or the Senate...?" it asks.
The answer: "Save the country from trending toward Socialism!”
Manipulating donors with crude caricatures and playing on their fears is hardly unique to Republicans or to the RNC – Democrats raised millions off George W. Bush in similar terms – but rarely is it practiced in such cartoonish terms.
One page, headed “The Evil Empire,” pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.
The document, which two Republican sources said was prepared by the party’s finance staff, comes as Chairman Michael Steele struggles to retain the trust and allegiance of major donors, who can give as much as $30,400 a year to the party.
Under Steele, the RNC has shifted toward a reliance on small donors, but the document reveals extensive, confidential details of the strategy for luring wealthy checkwriters, which range from luxury retreats in California wine country to tickets to a professional fight in Las Vegas.
The 72-page document was provided to POLITICO by a Democrat, who said a hard copy had been left in the hotel hosting the $2,500-a-head retreat, the Gasparilla Inn & Club. Sources at the event said the presentation was delivered by Bickhart and by the RNC Finance Chairman, Peter Terpeluk, a former ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush.
The RNC reacted with alarm to a question about it Wednesday, emailing major donors to warn them of a reporter’s question, and distancing Steele from its contents.
“The document was used for a fundraising presentation Chairman Steele did not attend, nor had he seen the document,” RNC Communications Director Doug Heye said in an email. “Fundraising documents are often controversial.
“Obviously, the Chairman disagrees with the language and finds the use of such imagery to be unacceptable. It will not be used by the Republican National Committee – in any capacity – in the future,” Heye said.
The most unusual section of the presentation is a set of six slides headed “RNC Marketing 101.” The presentation divides fundraising into two traditional categories, direct marketing and major donors, and lays out the details of how to approach each group.
The small donors who are the targets of direct marketing are described under the heading “Visceral Giving.” Their motivations are listed as “fear;” “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration;” and “Reactionary.”
Major donors, by contrast, are treated in a column headed “Calculated Giving.”
Their motivations include: “Peer to Peer Pressure”; “access”; and “Ego-Driven.”
The slide also allows that donors may have more honorable motives, including “Patriotic Duty.”
A major Republican donor described the state of the RNC’s relationship with major donors as “disastrous,” with veteran givers beginning to abandon the committee, which is becoming increasingly reliant on small donors.
The party’s average contribution in 2009, according to the document, was just $40, and the shift toward a financial reliance on the grassroots may help explain Steele’s increasingly strident tone toward the Obama Administration.
While the crude portrayal of Obama may be - as Steele ‘s spokesman put it - “unacceptable,” other elements of the presentation may be of equal interest to close political observers.
The RNC plans to raise $8.6 million from major donors alone in 2010, less than 10% of its total 2009 fundraising take, which was primarily from small donors."
The center of that plan is an extensive, and colorful, schedule of events. Along with traditional fundraisers with conservative luminaries including Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, the party plans to raise $80,000 for a trip to London to meet David Cameron, the British Conservative Party leader, on September 17.
The RNC’s “Young Eagles” – younger major donors and the only group, according to a major donor, continuing to pull its weight financially – are invited to a “professional bull riding event” in October, expected to raise $50,000, and to a no-holds-barred Ultimate Fighting Championship fight in Las Vegas the same month, expected to raise $60,000.
The RNC’s aim, according to one section of the document: “Putting the Fun Back in FUNdraising.”
National GOP leaders are doing damage control today after a Politico scoop lifted the curtain on the party's plan to tap voters' "fear" in the coming campaign season. The PR problem started when an absent-minded attendee at the Republican National Committee (RNC) confab on February 18 in Boca Grande, Florida, left a 72-page document from its 2010 strategizing session in a hotel room. Today, Politico reporter Ben Smith's expose is making headlines.
The memo tracks the fundraising presentation that RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart delivered to the RNC's $2,500-a-head annual retreat. The best path to victory in 2010, the document advises, is for Republican candidates to depict themselves as the best hope for resisting the "trending toward socialism" taking shape in a Democrat-dominated Washington.
And the document doesn't shy from making its points graphically. MSNBC showed the images this morning on "Morning Joe".
The presentation portrays the Obama administration as "The Evil Empire," including the now-infamous image of President Obama made over in the makeup Heath Ledger used in his performance as the Joker in the 2008 Batman movie "The Dark Knight." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears as Cruella De Vil from "101 Dalmatians," and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the witless cartoon dog Scooby-Doo. The memo candidly confirms that the aim of such caricature is to amp up "fear" among the GOP's conservative base. The memo also makes fun of major RNC donors, categorizing some as "ego-driven" and easily pacified with "tchochkes" (a Slavic word for toys).
The embrace of harsh rhetoric and the swipes at the large donor set seem to signal the GOP establishment's growing comfort with employing tactics associated with the activist Tea Party movement—and with plying Tea Party sympathizers for cash. Of course, it isn't unusual for parties out of power to court controversy and play with fire to rile up donors and grass-roots activists. The RNC has caught heat for fundraising tactics in the past, most recently when it was caught sending out fake census forms to raise money. And Democrats have shown a demagogic streak in the past, depicting George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as Bond-like supervillains and playing up alleged GOP plans to kill Social Security to rally voters behind a popular entitlement program.
When asked by Yahoo! News if the leaked presentation reflects a coordinated effort to appeal more to the Tea Party movement, RNC spokesman Doug Heye replied that the group's chairman, Michael Steele, "was recently invited by Tea Party activists to a meeting, which he was happy to do. Following the meeting, it was clear those in the meeting shared a common goal: stopping the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda." As for plans to further that alliance with the inflammatory material in the memo, Heye reiterated what he'd told Politico earlier: "The language and the imagery will not be used in any capacity in the future."
There's no question that the Obama-as-Joker image—long a familiar icon at Tea Party rallies—is a toxic association for the GOP establishment. Oddly enough, though, that image's origins can be traced to the activist left. As revealed by the Los Angeles Times last year, the image was created by a supporter of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a University of Illinois student named Firas Alkhateeb, who told the Times that he uploaded the photo onto his Flickr page, and a conservative activist promptly snatched it up.
Such are the odd convergences of movement politics. However, the RNC may have more trouble distancing itself from the equation of Democratic policy with socialism, however, since Michael Steele is credited with originating that meme in the health care debate.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Dim lights can make it seem as if no one is watching, triggering moral transgressions in many people, a new study suggests.[more]
Past research has shown that when people are concealed from view by others, say when they are wearing hoods, these individuals will be more likely to commit criminal acts and other bad behaviors.
But what about times when we're not actually anonymous - people can see us - yet we feel like we're hidden? The researchers of the new study describe it as the adult version of hide-and-seek: Kids often believe no one can see them when they cover their eyes even though they are hiding in plain sight. Turns out, a dark room can have a similar psychological effect on adults.
WASHINGTON – The filibuster — tool of obstruction in the U.S. Senate — is alternately blamed and praised for wilting President Barack Obama's ambitious agenda. Some even say it's made the nation ungovernable.[more]
Maybe, maybe not. Obama's term still has three years to run.
More certain, however: Opposition Republicans are using the delaying tactic at a record-setting pace.
"The numbers are astonishing in this Congress," says Jim Riddlesperger, political science professor at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
all i know is, it's shameful to politicize health care, national security, or unemployment!