December 27, 2010

Historic START Treaty Wins Overwhelming Senate Vote, 71-26

Chalk this one up along with the rest of President Obama’s achievements – and more proof that he’s definitely earned the Nobel Peace Prize that he has (note people can’t complain too much about his global anti-proliferation goals anymore.) The START treaty was part of America’s “rebooted” relationship with Russia, which had been strained under President Bush for a number of reasons – his own ignorance and warmongering agenda notwithstanding.

That said, there were worries that congressional Republicans would oppose any advances in the peace process and in the push for the world’s major powers to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and sure enough a bunch of them voted against it partially because of old Cold War beliefs, and partially because of a desire to oppose any achievement of President Obama’s, and partially because of their own personal political agendas.

Even so, the START treaty sailed through the House and the Senate thankfully, and will make the world a safer place overall. When I heard the news, the first thing I wondered was whether or not the Doomsday Clock would be turned back a minute; it seems like this would be a great occasion to do so.

[ Historic START Treaty Wins Overwhelming Senate Vote, 71-26 ]
Source: TruthOut

September 20, 2010

The Obama Achievements Center

I know I ranted about this at length in my post, That “Change” is Working Out Great for Me, Thanks for Asking! but I wanted to drive it home a little more because memories fade so quickly and people forget exactly how far America has come in the few short months since Obama took office, and how quickly this American ship has managed to right itself and set a course for prosperity. Are we there yet? No. Is Obama perfect? Not at all – but has he accomplished a lot? Is he trying? Is he a hell of a lot better than who we had before – both in the White House and his cronies in Congress? Absolutely on all counts.

That’s why I’m really thrilled to point out the existence of the Obama Achievements Center, a great resource for people who want quick ammo to rebut the claims of history-rewriting conservatives who think that Obama hasn’t done anything, or at least hasn’t done anything good, and are basking in this kind of false reality where America has become a worse place since he took office. Quite the contrary, to fact. Here’s what the site’s builders have to say:

This site is the preview version of our new Obama Achievements Center. It’s a work in progress and a labor of love — for our country.
We’re building a crowd-sourced compilation of the achievements of the Obama administration, with documentation for each achievement linked to it. It
In today’s frenzied media zones, far too much time has been spent putting the spotlight on complaints while significant achievements are either ignored, not reported, or minimized.

The Achievements

Determined to change the media narrative to finally include the good works of this administration, a group of Twitter users got together under Shoq’s leadership and compiled a list of the achievements and promises of the Obama administration, with documented links to every item. It will be updated on an ongoing basis, as this President accumulates more successes and lasting reforms.
Defining what an achievement is in any administration, is itself an interesting issue. We decided that we would define it broadly to include executive orders,important legislation, and significant initiatives or outcomes of any kind, both foreign and domestic. We worked hard to screen out minor or subjective items whenever we had agreement on them. As anyone can see from this very impressive list, they weren’t needed.

Isn’t it beautiful? This is worth a bookmark, people, and includes everything I mentioned in my last post and then some. Best of all, it’s organized by topic and category, so if you have a favorite cause of topic, you can zoom right to it.

[ The Obama Achievements Center ]

August 9, 2010

That “Change” is Working Out Great for Me, Thanks for Asking!

I’ve never been a fan of bumper sticker politics: I find it overall relatively crude and demeaning not only to everyone involved (both the person idiotic enough to put something like “Miss Him Yet?” on their car and the person who has to see it while they’re headed to work or home from it) but there’s been one little trend of short-memory and revisionist history among conservatives and Republicans that I feel compelled to note.

Admittedly, the Right’s attention span has always been short, and their capacity to revise history to make themselves look glowing (see Ronald Reagan) has always been remarkable, but President Obama has been in office for 18 months and not only are conservatives trying to pretend that he’s not still busy cleaning up the messes of the past 8 years (“hurr when will you stop blaming the last guy for what’s happening now, hrurr”) but also conveniently shaping today’s issues in short-term language (instead of properly pointing at the near 30-year history of American conservatism as responsible for the deregulation of our financial industries, energy industries, and transportation industries to the point where they’re only accountable to their shareholders and the desires of their executives to line their pockets – at the expense of the American people.)

Bumper stickers like “How’s that change working out for you” and “Miss him yet?” have been appearing on the cars of the angry, who want you and I to believe that the world may as well have ended 18 months ago and now we’re all picking through the smoldering ashes of our civilization. To those questions, I have two very simple answers:

* That change is working out great for me, thanks for asking!
* No, I don’t miss him at all – in fact, I’m happily on my way to forgetting he ever existed.

Starting at the very bottom, I’m particularly glad that I have a President who, while he isn’t perfect, is leaps and bounds more perfect than the last guy, and a President who I don’t have to worry will lock me up and waterboard me if I disagree with him and don’t march in lock step behind. Now I have a President who, as a matter of policy, doesn’t strip American citizens of their rights and due process just so they can be thrown in a dark cell until the powers that be can think of what do to with them. Again – our current Administration isn’t perfect on this point, but at least they’re willing to listen to suggestions and open to changing course – the last Administration would have simply called you “un-American,” “un-patriotic,” and thrown you in a cell just for speaking your mind.

The last Administration listened in on the phone calls of American citizens without a warrant, and the last Administration locked up American citizens for no reason. The last Administration was responsible for the Patriot Act, which while it hasn’t been repealed, has been used with significantly more caution and judgment than it had been in the past. The last Administration was obsessed with the State Secrets Act and shutting down human rights lawsuits just by invoking it.

So no, I don’t “miss him yet” at all, and that “change” has been a huge breath of fresh air.

Let’s move on to some more tangible examples though:

Would Mad King George have appointed two women to the Supreme Court? Likely not.

Would McCain have signed the Lucy Ledbetter Act, mandating equal pay for equal work? Never.

Would Bush Jr. have committed to drawing down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, even if those plans are slow to take shape? Never – they would have said even talking about leaving would have emboldened our “enemy.”

Would the Little Bush or McCain ever strive to provide health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans, pass a Patient’s Bill of Rights, put Medicare on sound financial footing, and cut near a trillion dollars from the budget defecit over the next 10 years by reforming the way Americans get and spend on health care? It would have been a laughable proposition.

Would McCain or Palin have signed an executive order mandating that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” be repealed? Wouldn’t have even crossed their minds.

Would Bush Jr. ever thought to close Guantanamo, much less actually try? Never.

Would a Republican president ever have sought to re-vitalize the Civil Rights wing of the Department of Justice, ousting political appointments that sought only to minimize the amount of work the agency did by throwing out legitimate cases and complaints and marginalizing career lawyers who have fought for equal rights their entire lives? Nope.

Would McCain or Palin have fought to restore science and scientific analysis to its rightful place in American discourse, especially on such important topics as climate change, space science, and medicine? Never.

Would McCain or Bush Jr. be on nearly as solid terms with our allies as Obama is, and managed to completely turn around our antagonistic relationship with Russia the way he has? Never – we would have seen more bluster and saber rattling, and likely be in the middle of another war with another faceless enemy designed to make us afraid by now had we voted differently.

Would McCain ever have gleefully signed ethics reform into law that would ensure there were strong rules to make sure the the field day that Republicans had during their majority time in office prior to 2008 (remember the cascade of ethics and sex scandals coming out of Congress back then? Oh how soon the right wing forgets…) never happen again? Not a chance.

Would Bush Jr. ever have given woefully needed money to the American auto industry – even if it was unpopular – and then been able to stand behind them as, as happened last week, they all post revenue gains and profits as opposed to the record losses and debts they had over a year ago?

The economic downturn was in full swing when President Obama was elected, as were both wars and all of their issues – so blaming President Obama is only ad accurate as you can blame someone for not cleaning up someone else’s mess fast enough. Someone recently pointed to a story about the vast majority (something like 96%) of money slated for reconstruction in Iraq being unaccounted for, and snarkily commented about whether or not this was something that people would just blame President Bush for – to which I responded that yes, it is – it’s only the right that seeks to unload accountability for their own actions and leadership decisions onto the people that follow them. President Obama has accountability to cleaning up that mess, but he has no accountability for having made the mess in the first place.

To that end though, would Bush Jr. or McCain ever have pushed through legislation designed to stimulate the economy, fund thousands of new infrastructure projects, put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work, and, with time, eventually turn the job decline into a slow but steady job incline? Not at all – there would have been some tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans (like the Bush tax cuts being debated now in Congress – you remember, the ones that did nothing to stimulate the economy or create new jobs?) and the Republicans would have resorted to their old stand-by, that people who are unemployed somehow “want to be jobless” or “deserve it.”

Would Bush ever have had the gravitas or political will to push through a massive financial system reform bill into law that not only forces more accountability in the financial sector but also establishes a new government agency that the public can turn to for their own protection against those massive Wall Street entities? Never. Would McCain? Hardly – he may have handed over some more money to them, but never have fought on our behalf.

So when you ask me if that “change” is working out for me, I’m more than happy to say yes.

When you ask me if I “miss him yet,” I can answer with a smile and say “miss who?”

Because overall, there’s plenty of work left to be done, and we’re not out of the woods, and everything isn’t perfect, but I’m more hopeful now than I ever have been, and I’m confident that America is moving in the right direction under a leader who at least considers the best interests of the people and the nation over their own personal whim or delusional personal “calling.”

Yup, that change is working out for me just fine, thanks. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

July 26, 2010

Fighting Wars Won’t Make You a Hero

My father, who proudly served in the military (partially so I would never have to) has said this to me before: that not everyone who dons a uniform is a hero, and not every hero wears a uniform. And that just because someone’s served in the armed forces doesn’t make them a hero or someone automatically worthy of praise and respect – respect has to be earned by anyone to anyone, and the clothes they wear or the life they’ve chosen shouldn’t automatically grant that to anyone.

Part of the issue here is the gradual turn of our armed services into a “hero class,” where the civilian population automatically and immediately bows to any opinion offered by anyone who’s served in the military for any period of time for any reason. And while there is much to respect about someone who’s chosen to serve our country and potentially – at a moment’s call – put their lives on the line for our freedoms and liberties, that doesn’t automatically make them a “hero.”

William Astore describes this incredibly well, while balancing the appropriate respect and appreciation for the men and women of our military and the life that they choose to lead in service of their countrymen, with the immediate refutation of the “I was a soldier so I know how the world works and how things should be” mentality that I for one hear incredibly often from people on the political right.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone claim to have served during wartime as a way to not have to use facts or reality to base their political beliefs; someone who uses the fact that they either are in the service or were in the service as a way to automatically shut down a political debate.

I’ve said as much to people before: that being a solider doesn’t make you any more or less qualified to be a politician or even command a conflict any more than being a police officer makes you qualified to be a state governor or even be the police chief. Sure you have insight into one particular area of importance, but – as my dad would say – being a infantryman on the ground is admirable, but it doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to be a general.

It doesn’t preclude you from it, but it doesn’t automatically make you one – so saying “I know how the war should be fought/I know how all wars should be fought/I know whether war is right or wrong because I was in XXXX conflict” simply isn’t rational, or even remotely true, unless by saying “I was in XXXX conflict” you’re really saying “I was in command.”

Astore goes on though, pointing out that there’s more to the term “hero” than our culture has diluted it to be these days:

In local post offices, as well as on local city streets here in central Pennsylvania, I see many reminders that our troops are “hometown heroes.” Official military photos of these young enlistees catch my eye, a few smiling, most looking into the camera with faces of grim resolve tinged with pride at having completed basic training. Once upon a time, as the military dean of students at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, I looked into such faces in the flesh, congratulating young service members for their effort and spirit.

I was proud of them then; I still am. But here’s a fact I suspect our troops might be among the first to embrace: the act of joining the military does not make you a hero, nor does the act of serving in combat. Whether in the military or in civilian life, heroes are rare — indeed, all-too-rare. Heck, that’s the reason we celebrate them. They’re the very best of us, which means they can’t be all of us.

Still, even if elevating our troops to hero status has become something of a national mania, is there really any harm done? What’s wrong with praising our troops to the rafters? What’s wrong with adding them to our pantheon of heroes?

The short answer is: There’s a good deal wrong, and a good deal of harm done, not so much to them as to us.

To wit:

*By making our military a league of heroes, we ensure that the brutalizing aspects and effects of war will be played down. In celebrating isolated heroic feats, we often forget that war is guaranteed to degrade humanity. “War,” as writer and cultural historian Louis Menand noted, “is specially terrible not because it destroys human beings, who can be destroyed in plenty of other ways, but because it turns human beings into destroyers.”

When we create a legion of heroes in our minds, we blind ourselves to evidence of their destructive, sometimes atrocious, behavior. Heroes, after all, don’t commit atrocities. They don’t, for instance, dig bullets out of pregnant women’s bodies in an attempt to cover up deadly mistakes. They don’t fire on a good Samaritan and his two children as he attempts to aid a grievously wounded civilian. Such atrocities and murderous blunders, so common to war’s brutal chaos, produce cognitive dissonance in the minds of many Americans who simply can’t imagine their “heroes” killing innocents. How much easier it is to see the acts of violence of our troops as necessary, admirable, even noble.

*By making our military generically heroic, we act to prolong our wars.

I couldn’t put it better myself.

[ Fighting Wars Won’t Make You a Hero ]
Source: TomDispatch.com (via AlterNet)

March 22, 2010

Outrageous!

I don’t think this deserves much explanation. Art by Adam Zyglis, and originally published in The Buffalo News!

January 4, 2010

Top Republican Myths About the Crotch Bomber Affair

It’s funny – I actually haven’t heard a lot of these, but that’s likely because they’re circulating around the echo chamber of the right-wing blogosphere and/or Fox News. I don’t think any rational person holds any of these beliefs seriously, although I think there are definitely enough irrational people out there that they need to be clearly debunked:

1. President Obama did not speak publicly swiftly enough. In fact, Bush was silent for 9 days after the shoe bomber attack in 2001.

2. Bush would have tried Abdulmutallab as an enemy combatant. Well, he tried Richard Reid the shoe bomber in civilian courts.

3. Yemen is the issue. In fact, Yemen’s government is actively bombing al-Qaeda cells, and complains that the US never shared its info on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with Sanaa.

4. A US war on al-Qaeda in Yemen is next. This way of thinking is foolish. Yemen is not a cake walk, folks.

Col. Pat Lang, former Defense Intelligence Agrency head for the Middle East, is an old Yemen hand and delivers a blunt warning against the US getting militarily involved there.

I have been to Yemen twice, before and after unification, and have traveled outside Sanaa. I’ve spoken publicly in Arabic in front of big audiences and interacted with Zaidis, Salafis, Sufis. It is an extremely complicated society with multiple ecological zones. It is an arid, tribal (segmentary-lineage) system. Most of the scholars I know who work on Yemen have been kidnapped by tribes or thrown in jail by the government at least once. People are either Arab nationalists or Muslim ones. They have very little use for outsiders. If the US tried to establish a big presence there, they would make the Iraqi resistance look half-hearted and weak-kneed.

Juan Cole, writing for ReaderSupportedNews, notes that he’s heard all of these on television from a couple of lawmakers, including people like Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Sen. Joe Lieberman. Now frankly, I don’t expect much more from someone like Hoekstra, but Lieberman just continues to show his true colors day after day, doesn’t he? At this rate, I’m almost glad Kerry didn’t win so we didn’t have to have Lieberman as a Vice President.

[ Top Republican Myths About the Crotch Bomber Affair ]
Source: Reader Supported News

December 21, 2009

Bush White House Failed to Search for Libby’s “Missing” Emails

Remember the “Scooter” Libby case back when Bush was still President? The one where the White House essentially used its office to defame a very vocal voice against the war in Iraq and then outed his wife (Valerie Plame) as a undercover CIA officer? Yeah – when that federal investigation was ongoing, numerous emails were subpeonaed from the White House in order to determine if anyone in the White House was using their office or status to break the law by defaming a public official and outing a CIA officer.

At the time, we were told that all of the messages that the investigation was looking for were “missing,” and otherwise unaccounted for. A couple of years go by, and what we learn is that the emails weren’t missing at all – the Bush Administration simply never went looking for them:

Between late 2005 and January 2006, the Bush administration tried to recover “lost” emails from staffers who worked in the Office of the Vice President (OVP), an effort centered on a critical week – October 1 through October 6, 2003. That same week the Justice Department announced it was investigating the unauthorized leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert CIA status.

But one name was missing from the list of 70 individuals whose email accounts White House technicians searched in an attempt to recover and restore missing emails: I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

According to documents obtained by government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), it appears that technicians in the Office of Administration did not attempt to recover from Libby’s account emails he either sent or received during the week of October 1 to October 6, 2003. That was a week when emails from the Office of the Vice President were missing for entire days in some instances and were unusually low in others.

It was also during this time that Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, enjoined all White House staff members to turn over emails or other documents pertaining to Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had angered the White House by criticizing Bush’s case for invading Iraq. The directive came 12 hours after senior Bush White House officials had been told of the pending Justice Department investigation.

Now I’m more than a little familiar with enterprise IT, and the fact that one person’s e-mails were conveniently “missing” is just as suspicious as it sounds. Any off the shelf archiving product that can be run on any mail server would have caught these messages and backed them up either to archive, tape, or some other disk just like everyone else’s mail. But that’s the point – there’s a far more malicious reason why Libby’s mail went “missing,” they just never looked for it:

The search of individual email accounts was conducted after an internal investigation by officials in the Office of Administration concluded that emails from the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney between September 30, 2003 and October 6, 2003 were lost and unrecoverable.

The absence of Libby’s name on the list of individuals whose emails technicians were trying to recover from the Office of the Vice President raises questions as to whether the Bush administration fully cooperated with the criminal investigation into the leak probe, lead by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who had subpoenaed White House emails in January 2004.

In an interview, Anne Weismann, chief counsel of CREW, said she believes the documents show that “for unexplained reasons Scooter Libby’s mailbox was not searched while the mailboxes of 70 OVP employees were searched.”

“It is simply incomprehensible that Scooter Libby’s mailbox was not searched, yet that is what the documents suggest,” she said.

The rest of the story goes into some more technical detail around how it could possibly be that this one user’s mailbox wasn’t archived (as in, it’s not really possible) and how suspicious this must have been to the investigators but they could possibly have been running up against delays and lack of cooperation from the White House’s staff at the time. It’s a worthwhile read, especially if you have any interest or background in IT.

[ Documents Suggest Bush White House Failed to Search for Libby’s “Missing” Emails Subpoenaed in CIA Leak Probe ]
Source: TruthOut

November 16, 2009

15 Awful Things Republicans Would Do If They Had the Chance

Remember just a year or so ago, when people were dancing in the streets because George W Bush wouldn’t be their president anymore? When people were so thrilled that the Republicans were out of office that they couldn’t help but celebrate the future?

Sure, some of that euphoria has worn off, and the honeymoon is definitely over with President Obama, but if you ask anyone if they’d rather go back to the civil-liberties-stealing, war-funding, fear-mongering, terrorists-blaming days of a government run and managed by the Republicans, most Americans would visibly shudder in fear. Why? Because even though things aren’t perfect today and there are serious hardships at hand, people still feel like today is a better day than yesterday.

But what if the Republicans were still in control? Let’s take a look at what kinds of “change” we probably would have to deal with if they were still in power. Here are some of my favorites from a roundup at Alternet:

3) Stubbornly deny the existence of ominous climate change while blithely pumping more pollutants into the environment from lucrative, dirty industries and practices. Although reputable scientists say 350 carbon parts per atmospheric million is the safe limit for sustained life on Earth, Republicans dismiss the frightening fact that we’re already at a carbon level of roughly 390 ppm.

4) Remove “restrictive” regulations on everything from investment banks and credit card companies to a broad array of “profit-eroding” consumer protections, leaving the American masses exposed to a host of resulting abuses and dangers.

5) Continue to criticize and insufficiently fund public education, advocating private schooling instead, thus entirely ignoring that progressive public systems are used in every country that has education outcomes superior to our own.

6) Outlaw abortion, under a fraudulently moral guise, compelling the US to bloodily join those benighted, backward nations where thousands of already-born, living, breathing, socially functioning females perish because of sexist denials of their basic reproductive rights.

7) Continue to recite a Pledge of Allegiance whose last six words are “with liberty and justice for all,” while remaining numbly oblivious to the harsh hypocrisy of preventing our homosexual citizens from marrying.

8 ) Speak often and loftily of freedom, but engage in secret wiretapping, repression of domestic dissent, neo-McCarthyite witch hunts, Red-baiting name calling, and a panoply of Patriot Act transgressions against the Constitution of the United States…all under the misused rubric of “national security.”

Those are some good ones, but here are some shiners:

14) Give full vent to the intensely bigoted hatred that has crazed extremists dreaming of literally tearing Barack Obama to pieces and gassing all liberals…if only they could.

15) Place the livelihoods and lives of over 300 million Americans in the hands of incompetent ideological “purists” such as Sarah Palin.

Yeah, that sums it up nicely.

[ 15 Awful Things Republicans Would Do If They Had the Chance ]
Source: Alternet

October 12, 2009

30 GOP Senators Vote to Defend Gang Rape

The title isn’t hyperbole, and it’s not false. It’s absolutely true. 30 senators, mostly White, Republican, men, voted to protect corporations “rights” and financial interests rather than women from being gang raped. The measure passed regardless, and as much as the senators who voted this way can whine about how it was an amendment attached to a defense authorization bill (which frankly, I think it absolutely should have been because it dealt specifically with defense contractors and their legal accountability – if you’re going to authorize the money to pay for them, you should be able to make the rules that police them) but we all know that these men wouldn’t have voted for the bill even if it were stand-alone and made it through hours upon hours of committee and floor debate.

So then, here’s the scoop, lifted from MyDD.com:

It is stunning that 30 Republican members of the United States Senate would vote to protect a corporation, in this case Halliburton/KBR, over a woman who was gang raped. The details from Think Progress:

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.” (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Offering Ms. Jones legal relief was Senator Al Franken of Minnesota who offered an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

Seems simple enough. And yet, to GOP Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama allowing victims of sexual assault a day in court is tantamount to a “political attack” at Halliburton. That 29 others, all men, chose to join him in opposing the Franken amendment is simply mind-boggling.

In the debate, Senator Sessions maintained that Franken’s amendment overreached into the private sector and suggested that it violated the due process clause of the Constitution.

To which, Senator Franken fired back quoting the Constitution. “Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gives Congress the right to spend money for the welfare of our citizens. Because of this, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, ‘Congress may attach conditions on the receipt of federal funds and has repeatedly employed that power to further broad policy objectives,'” Franken said. “That is why Congress could pass laws cutting off highway funds to states that didn’t raise their drinking age to 21. That’s why this whole bill [the Defense Appropriations bill] is full of limitations on contractors — what bonuses they can give and what kind of health care they can offer. The spending power is a broad power and my amendment is well within it.”

God I love it when Senator Franken quotes the Constitution. Not every Republican was so clueless. Ten voted for the Franken amendment including the GOP’s female contingent of Senators (Snowe, Collins, Hutchinson and Murkowski).

“We need to put assurances into the law that those kind of instances [the Jamie Leigh Jones case] are not capable of being repeated,” said Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted in favor of Franken’s amendment. “I want to make sure that a woman, any individual who is a victim of a terrible act, knows that they have got protections.”

Murkowski said that she considered the arguments that Sessions made about the amendment being too expansive before she decided to vote for the legislation.

“I looked at it,” said Murkowski. “And, I tell you, you look at some of the things we do and you have to say, ‘OK, you have a specific instance we’re trying to address and does this go above and beyond?’ But when you have to err on the side of protecting an individual, I erred on the side of greater generosity, I guess.”

Republican Sen. George LeMieux of Florida echoed some of Murkowski’s sentiments.

“I can’t see in any circumstance that a woman who was a victim of sexual assault shouldn’t have her right to go to court,” LeMieux said. “So, that is why I voted for it.”

Although Franken chatted up LeMieux on the Senate floor before the vote, LeMieux said that he had already made his decision. But, LeMieux added, Franken’s talk didn’t hurt.

“I had decided to vote for it before I came here, but I was happy to hear his argument for it,” LeMieux said. “He did what a senator should do, which was he was working it. He was working for his amendment.” I’ll add, Al Franken is everything a United States Senator should be.

As for Jamie Leigh Jones, she was nothing but elated and thankful. “It means the world to me,” Jones said of the amendment’s passage. “It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it.”

And for the GOP, it is a new low.

Way to lay the constitutional smackdown, Franken. I mean wow – that’s amazing.

And because I didn’t want to let the list go by and get buried in the text of the article, let’s lay it out for you right here.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are the 30 men who voted against this amendment, who would rather a woman be gang raped and not be able to face her accusers or the company that allowed it to happen and protected the people involved, than at least let her have her day in court:

Here are those who vote to protect a corporation over a victim of rape:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Remember them when you head to the polls.

[ 30 GOP Senators Vote to Defend Gang Rape ]
Source: MyDD.com

August 24, 2009

Bush White House Pushed to Raise Terror Alerts on Eve of Re-election: Tom Ridge

Well it finally comes out, doesn’t it? The fact that we all essentially predicted for years and assumed was the case has finally come to light, and I somehow highly doubt that people within the Bush Administration will let this slide, but considering the source, I think we’re all but pretty solid on its validity:

Former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is releasing a book on September 1 titled, The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege … And How We Can Be Safe Again. U.S. News’ Paul Bedard reports that, in the book, Ridge reveals that he considered resigning because he was urged to issue a politically-motivated security alert on the eve of Bush’s re-election:

Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

Like many other observers, I have to admit, I’m not terribly surprised by this announcement. But I am impressed who the admission came from – the man at the top during the time. Sad, but true, and par for the course for the Bush Administration. Remember how far we’ve come when you’re nitpicking at Obama for little things – I’m not saying don’t nitpick, I’m not saying don’t call Obama out for the things he needs to be called out on, but just take a moment, fellow progressives, to understand exactly how far we’ve come.

[ Bush White House Pushed to Raise Terror Alerts on Eve of Re-election: Tom Ridge ]