Sunday, January 25, 2009

The New "West Wing"

grapesofwraith1066: I just thought this little mashup was a fun idea - I'm not trying to push a political agenda here! I just thought it'd be fun to imagine if we were to see the grandure of the idealistic "West Wing" in real life.
Now, we have the "Real West Wing." In this video, we have [with their TV counterparts]:
  • David Axelrod - Senior Advisor
  • Joe Biden - Vice President [Hoynes/Russell]
  • Rahm Emanuel - Chief of Staff [Leo McGarry]
  • Robert Gibbs - White House Press Secretarty [CJ Cregg]
  • Valerie Jarrett - Senior Advisor, Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs, Public Liason
  • Jim Messina - Deputy Chief of Staff [Josh Lyman]
  • Ellen Moran - Communications Director [Toby Ziegler]
  • Michelle Obama - First Lady [Abbey Bartlet]
  • Mona Sutphen - Depty Chief of Staff [Josh Lyman]
  • Barack Obama - President of the United States [Jed Bartlet - or maybe closer to Matt Santos!]
For all the people wondering why Hilary Clinton isn't in here (or any other cabinet members and secretaries), I was thinking about it, but ultimately decided to do it like the show "The West Wing," focusing on the behind the scenes White House staffers rather than cabinet-level members of the government. There were other people I would have liked to feature as well, but there was a lack of pictures or videos of those people. I was compelled to make one of the cabinet - but with 14 positions (plus Obama makes 15), that leaves 3 seconds for each person - which wouldn't be enough to make a quality video.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Finally, a President we can believe in!

White House Site Updated With Lengthy List Of Commitments To LGBT Rights has a new face. Within moments of Barack Obama's swearing in, the official website of the White House was updated with a lengthy list of commitments to LGBT rights.
Support for the LGBT Community
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect." -- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007
  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
  • Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
  • Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
  • Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

Obama's Speech At Lincoln Memorial

I want to thank all the speakers and performers for reminding us, through song and through words, just what it is that we love about America. And I want to thank all of you for braving the cold and the crowds and traveling in some cases thousands of miles to join us here today. Welcome to Washington, and welcome to this celebration of American renewal.
In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes; they're worried about how they'll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen table. And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future -- about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what's best about this country to our children and their children.
I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.
But despite all of this -- despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead -- I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.
What gives me hope is what I see when I look out across this mall. For in these monuments are chiseled those unlikely stories that affirm our unyielding faith -- a faith that anything is possible in America. Rising before us stands a memorial to a man who led a small band of farmers and shopkeepers in revolution against the army of an Empire, all for the sake of an idea.
On the ground below is a tribute to a generation that withstood war and depression -- men and women like my grandparents who toiled on bomber assembly lines and marched across Europe to free the world from tyranny's grasp. Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible.
And yet, as I stand here today, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you -- Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.
It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together -- Democrats, Republicans, independents; Latino, Asian and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not -- then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.
This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day when I walk into that Oval Office -- the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans -- that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.
It is this thread that binds us together in common effort; that runs through every memorial on this mall; that connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before.
It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds -- because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.
That is the belief with which we began this campaign, and that is how we will overcome what ails us now. There is no doubt that our road will be long, that our climb will be steep. But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard. I ask you to help reveal that character once more, and together, we can carry forward as one nation, and one people, the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today.
Thank you, America. God bless you.

Our 44th President

The full text of President Obama's inauguration speech is here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Keith Olbermann Special Comment: Prosecute Bush For Torture


LSB: ROFLMAO! Wanna bet FOX-News isn't running this ad? (In all honesty, no where but online will anyone in the US see this ad. I doubt even LOGO-TV, a subsidiary of CBS-TV, would dare run this ad.)

Jonathan Turley and Bush Admin War Crimes

LSB: If Eric Holder, the new AG, believes water-boarding is torture, he needs to prosecute! Let's see if Obama and his team have the courage of their convictions and live up to the oaths they swear.

Rachel Maddow Says Goodbye To George W Bush


Dan Savage, The Stranger: I'm going to Barack Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C., on January 20. I've spent eight years, one month, one week, and one day waiting for this. (But who's counting?) However, I am looking for suggestions for a respectful way to protest the participation of Rick Warren. As a lifelong Episcopalian, I really don't want to engage in an antireligious protest. (FWIW: I was annoyed with some of the antireligious people at the anti-8 rallies. We need all our allies for this fight, so don't trash the engaged, progressive religious folk!)
While my friends want me to throw shoes, that ain't gonna happen. Ideally, I'd like a peaceful, gracious way to protest Warren's participation that won't undercut this great day, a way that can be picked up (and publicized) by folks on the Mall. Any suggestions? Faithful Obama Girl
Whatever you do, FOG, don't do those things you, um, already said you don't want to do. No one should boo or throw shoes or do anything disruptive. The American Taliban love to pretend that they're the persecuted ones around here, and booing or throwing shoes or even just turning your back on Warren—the gay-hatin', right-wing Christian bigot Barack Obama invited to give the invocation at his inauguration—will invariably be spun as an attack on people of faith, as a vicious assault on prayer itself, as the moral equivalent of a syphilitic rent boy pissing directly into the open mouth of a crying baby Jesus.
Instead, borrow a page from those long-suffering gay Catholics. To register their displeasure with the pope's revealing obsession with gay sex, gay marriage, and gay shoes (the douchebag wears Prada), some gay Catholics wear rainbow sashes to mass. Perhaps folks disappointed by Warren's participation could coordinate a similar sartorial protest? Everyone wear a button with that rainbow-striped version of the Obama logo? Wave little rainbow flags during Warren's remarks? Head to the Mall in nothing but rubber chaps?
And speaking of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life...
My life's purpose over the last week was reading thousands of proposed new definitions for "saddlebacking" sent in by my readers. As with the new definition of santorum crafted by Savage Love readers ("the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex"), the new definition of "saddlebacking" has to be some act that (1) needs a name but doesn't already have one (we can't just rename "reverse cowgirl," people) and (2) is naughty enough to discomfort, say, a Reverend Warren, but something that actual people might actually do because that's the only way the actual word will actually get used.
So I've disqualified proposed definitions that were too literal ("putting an actual saddle on someone's actual back and actually riding them"), too gross ("to crap on someone's back and then sit on it, moving forward and back while making horse-riding-related noises like 'giddyap!' and 'whoa!'"), too complicated ("one person on all fours with a strap-on strapped to their midsection, a second person riding said strap-on, and a third person hitting the first person from behind while holding on for dear life/giving a handjob to the second person"), or too bitter ("when you give someone some kind of basic human right, like marriage, and then take it away again after a few months"). Here are the proposed definitions that made the cut:
  1. "Logically, if 'barebacking' means having butt sex with no condom, then 'saddlebacking' should mean having butt sex with a condom."
  2. "Saddleback (verb): to submit someone to any kind of humiliating, unreciprocal sex act, either literally or metaphorically, consented to by passive partner due to submissive/masochistic tendencies, desire for approval, or other darker motive. E.g., 'I don't know why Obama is letting Rick Warren saddleback him into presiding over his inauguration.'"
  3. "The saddleback position involves placing your lubed dick between the butt cheeks of your partner. This position can be performed on your sides or on top of a facedown partner (maybe with a pillow under his or her hips). My favorite way of finishing up the saddlebacking is to lift up and come on my wife's sweaty back. The saddleback is a nice compromise position when your partner won't allow anal entry."
  4. "To saddleback is to rail against gay sex in public while secretly indulging in the same in private. Ted Haggard? Total saddlebacker. Larry Craig? Saddlebacker. Rick Warren? Probably a saddlebacker."
  5. "'Saddlebacking' should be the term for the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities. 'After attending the Purity Ball, Heather and Bill saddlebacked all night because she's saving herself for marriage.' Please, please adopt this definition!"
  6. "Saddleback (verb): to ejaculate on the back of a partner at the culmination of doggy-style anal sex."
  7. "Before being invited to give the invocation, Mr. Warren was most noted for his book The Purpose Driven Life. Therefore, 'to saddleback' is to fuck with a purpose, i.e., to procreate. A heterosexual couple asked if they're trying to have children could reply, 'No, we're not ready for kids yet, but we'll probably start saddlebacking next year.'"
Those are the nominees, ladies and gentlemen. But before we open the polls for a vote—you're going to pick the winning definition!—let me quickly handicap the candidates: (1) I like the idea that "sex" is understood to include condoms and that sex without condoms—bareback sex—needs a special term. But tons of people suggested that "saddlebacking" should be the opposite of "barebacking," so here it is. (2) Seems a bit tortured and unlikely to come into common usage, but I like the point the reader is making with this definition, so I included it. (3) Technically this kind of assfuckery—butt-cheek fucking à la titty fucking, with no actual penetration—is a form of frottage, but like a woman doing a man in the butt with a strap-on dildo (dubbed "pegging" by Savage Love readers), this particular brand of rubbing off could use a name of its own. (4) One of my favorites—but does a Haggard or Craig tumble out of the closet often enough for the term to come into use? (5) Hilarious—and an entirely appropriate way to honor Reverend Warren, who is a proponent of abstinence education, the "sex ed" that has convinced so many Christian girls and boys that buttfucking isn't actually sex. (6) A common move—and not just in porn—that could use a name. (7) Makes sense, so here it is. But I imagine Warren would approve of this definition—except when lesbians used it (even you, Melissa E.!).
Okay, Savage Love readers, "saddlebacking" is in your hands now. Vote for your favorite definition from the list of nominees by sending an e-mail to You must include "saddleback" and the number of your preferred definition in the subject line to have your vote count ("saddleback: 1," "saddleback: 2," etc.). Vote now!

The Top 43 Appointees Who Helped Make Bush The.Worst.President.Ever. Next week, “change is coming to America,” as President George W. Bush wraps up his tenure as one of the worst American presidents ever. He wasn’t able to accomplish such an ignominious feat all by himself, however; he had a great deal of help along the way. The ThinkProgress team heralds the conclusion of the Bush 43 presidency by bringing you our list of the top 43 worst Bush appointees. Did we miss anyone? Who should have been ranked higher? Let us know what you think.
  1. Dick Cheney — The worst Dick since Nixon. The man who shot his friend while in office. The “most powerful and controversial vice president.” Until he got the job, people used to actually think it was a bad thing that the vice presidency has historically been a do-nothing position. Asked by PBS’s Jim Lehrer about why people hate him, Cheney rejected the premise, saying, “I don’t buy that.” His top placement in our survey says otherwise.
  2. Karl Rove — There wasn’t a scandal in the Bush administration that Rove didn’t have his fingerprints all over — see Plame, Iraq war deception, Gov. Don Siegelman, U.S. Attorney firings, missing e-mails, and more. As senior political adviser and later as deputy chief of staff, “The Architect” was responsible for politicizing nearly every agency of the federal government.
  3. Alberto GonzalesFundamentally dishonest and woefully incompetent, Gonzales was involved in a series of scandals, first as White House counsel and then as Attorney General. Some of the most notable: pressuring a “feeble” and “barely articulate” Attorney General Ashcroft at his hospital bedside to sign off on Bush’s illegal wiretapping program; approving waterboarding and other torture techniques to be used against detainees; and leading the firing of U.S. Attorneys deemed not sufficiently loyal to Bush.
  4. Donald Rumsfeld — After winning praise for leading the U.S. effort in ousting the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001, the former Defense Secretary strongly advocated for the invasion of Iraq and then grossly misjudged and mishandled its aftermath. Rumsfeld is also responsible for authorizing the use of torture against terror detainees in U.S. custody; according to a bipartisan Senate report, Rumsfeld “conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees.”
  5. Michael Brown — This former commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association was appointed by Bush to head FEMA in 2003. After Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, Brownie promptly did a “heck of a jobbungling the government’s relief efforts, and was sent back to Washington a few days later. He was forced to resign shortly thereafter.
  6. Paul Wolfowitz — As Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005, Wolfowitz was one of the primary architects of the Iraq war, arguing for the invasion as early as Sept. 15, 2001. Testifying before Congress in February 2003, Wolfowitz said that it was “hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself.” Wolfowitz eventually admitted that “for bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction,” as a justification for war, “because it was the one reason everyone [in the administration] could agree on.”
  7. David Addington — “Cheney’s Cheney” was the “most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” As the leader of Bush’s legal team and Cheney’s chief of staff, Addington was the biggest proponent of some of Bush’s most notorious legal abuses, such as torture and warrantless surveillance, and is a loyal follower of the so-called unitary executive theory.
  8. Stephen Johnson — The “Alberto Gonzales of the environment,” EPA Administrator Johnson subverted the agency’s mission at the behest of the White House and corporate interests, suppressing staff recommendations on pesticides, mercury, lead paint, smog, and global warming.
  9. Douglas Feith — Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2001-2005, Feith headed up the notorious Office of Special Plans, an in-house Pentagon intelligence shop devised by Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz to produce intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. A subsequent investigation by the Pentagon’s Inspector General found the OSP’s work produced “conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”
  10. John Bolton — As Undersecretary of State, Bolton offered a strong voice in favor of invading Iraq and pushed for the U.S. to disengage from the International Criminal Court and key international arms control agreements. A recess appointment landed Bolton the job of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, despite his stringent animosity toward the world body. Today, he spends his time calling for war with Iran.
  11. John Yoo — As a lawyer for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Yoo authored a series of legal memosdetainee to be buried alive.
  12. Ari Fleischer — Bush’s first press secretary helped redefine the role as that of liar-in-chief rather than informer of the public, earning a reputation as “the world’s most dishonest flack.” Whereas his successors sometimes looked uncomfortable lying, Fleischer was having fun, spinning a cowed and gullible press corps through two massive tax cuts and the initiation of a war undertaken on false pretenses.
  13. John Ashcroft — In 2003, as Bush’s first Attorney General, Ashcroft approved waterboarding and other torture techniques on detainees. Ashcroft’s nomination was controversial, as he had a history of opposing school desegregation. The chief architect of the invasive Patriot Act, Ashcroft maintains to this day that Bush is “among the most respectful of all leaders ever” of civil liberties.
  14. Henry Paulson — Even as the financial system was crashing down around him, Treasury Secretary Paulson insisted for months that the banking system was “safe and sound.” Once he decided that the economy needed saving, Paulson requested nearly unfettered authority to send billions of taxpayer dollars to banks with no oversight.
  15. L. Paul Bremer — This Presidential Medal of Freedom winner took over the Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2003. Under his mismanagement, the insurgency exploded in Iraq. Bremer claimed he had all the troops he needed to secure the country, overestimated the strength of the new U.S.-trained Iraqi army, disbanded the Iraqi army leaving thousands of Iraqi soldiers with no income and no occupation, and enacted a de-Baathification law that barred many experienced Iraqis from government positions.
  16. Bradley Schlozman — As a recent DOJ Inspector General report demonstrates, Schlozman was a central figure in Bush’s politicization of the Justice Department. Violating civil service laws, Schlozman used political and ideological considerations to ensure that only “right-thinking Americans” received jobs. He eventually lied to Congress about his efforts.
  17. J. Steven Griles — A former energy lobbyist and no. 2 official in the Interior Department, Griles went to jail for lying to Congress about illegal favors he did for corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Griles also abused his position “to unlock nearly every legal barrier to exploitation” of our nation’s oil and mineral reserves. Before his conviction, Griles left the White House to become a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips.
  18. Condoleezza Rice — As Bush’s national security adviser, Rice was another strong advocate for invading Iraq, once famously warning that the U.S. should attack Iraq and not wait for solid proof of its WMD because “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Rice also ignored an urgent warning from the CIA before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that a strike inside the U.S. was imminent.
  19. Scooter Libby — Cheney’s former chief of staff was a key player in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame as part of the Bush administration’s quest to punish Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, for publishing an op-ed debunking one of the White House’s main justifications for invading Iraq. Libby was ultimately convicted of perjury and obstructing justice in a federal investigation into Plame’s outing but later had his 30-month prison sentence commuted by Bush.
  20. Monica Goodling — Goodling was the most notorious graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University during her tenure in the Justice Department. As the White House liaison at the DOJ, she based the department’s hiring of candidates on their sexual preference, GOP loyalty, and adherence to conservative ideology.
  21. Alphonso Jackson — As Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Jackson let the U.S. housing market crumble while he was busy giving lucrative contracts to his golfing buddies, retaliating against Bush critics, and erecting giant photo homages to himself.
  22. Michael Hayden — As director of the National Security Agency, Hayden ran Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program and misled Congress about the program’s legality. After moving to the CIA, he dismissed the destruction of evidence implicating the CIA in torture as “in line with the law.”
  23. Lurita Doan — The former head of the General Services Administration (GSA)who doled out a no-bid contract to a friend, Doan famously hosted a meeting of White House political operatives where she asked how GSA employees could “help ‘our candidates’ in the next election.” After the Office of Special Counsel called for her firing, she was forced to resign.
  24. Gale Norton — A former industry lobbyist and Bush’s first Secretary of the Interior, Norton pushed a radical ideological agenda “through regulatory rollbacks, suppression of science, preferential treatment, and collusion with industry” — including doctoring scientific findings on the impacts of oil drilling on caribou. After resigning under the cloud of ties to Jack Abramoff, she joined Shell Oil.
  25. Lester Crawford — After promising to act on the morning-after contraceptive pill during his confirmation hearings, the former FDA Commissioner “indefinitely postponed nonprescription sales of emergency contraception over the objections of staff scientists who had declared the pill safe.” Crawford resigned after just two months on the job and later pleaded guilty “to charges that he hid his ownership of stock in food and drug companies that his agency regulated.”
  26. Harriet Miers — Well-known for being Bush’s failed Supreme Court nominee, Miers also thought it was “important” to her as White House Counsel that Rove protege Tim Griffin was installed as a U.S. Attorney, making her a central figure in the U.S. Attorney scandal. She is said to have called Bush “the most brilliant man she had ever met.”
  27. Hans Von Spakovsky — Originally a political appointee in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, Spakovsky “injected partisan political factors into decision-making” and used every opportunity “to make it difficult for voters — poor, minority and Democratic — to go to the polls.” In 2008, Spakovsky withdrew his name from consideration for the FEC, following months of opposition from lawmakers and civil rights groups.
  28. Tommy Franks — As head of U.S. Central Command from 2000 to 2003, Franks oversaw Osama bin Laden’s great escape from Afghanistan, gave orders for the stabilization of Iraq via PowerPoint, assumed that the U.S. would draw down to 25,000 troops by the end of 2004, and had American soldiers stand idly by as chaos and lawlessness took hold after the invasion.
  29. Thomas Scully — As chief administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Scully was the White House’s head negotiator on the Medicare prescription drug bill. Scully threatened to fire chief actuary Richard Foster if he revealed that Bush’s Medicare Part D legislation “would cost 25% to 50% more than the Bush administration’s public estimates.”
  30. Julie MacDonald — A top Interior Department appointee, MacDonald “interjected herself personally and profoundly” and “tainted nearly every decision made on the protection of endangered species” over a five-year period, intimidating the staff with “abrupt and abrasive, if not abusive” tactics. MacDonald also leaked government documents to a young acquaintance whom she met while playing “internet role-playing games.”
  31. William Haynes — As the former general counsel at the Defense Department, he was part of a five-person team of high-level administration lawyers, dubbed the “War Council,” that tossed the Geneva Conventions aside and hatched out the legal framework for torture in secret meetings.
  32. David Safavian — Safavian was (twice) tried and convicted for his role in the jack Abramoff scandal. Safavian was found guilty of “lying and obstructing justice” in an attempt to cover-up “his many efforts to assist Abramoff in acquiring two properties controlled by the GSA.”
  33. James Connaughton — As chairman of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, Connaughton wrote EPA press releases downplaying the danger of the air quality in lower Manhattan following 9/11. “A former lobbyist for utilities, mining, chemical, and other industrial polluters,” Connaughton insisted “there’s a lot of disagreement” about humans’ impact on global warming, and he touted a bogus study purporting to show that the 20th century was not unusually warm.
  34. William Luti — A former Navy officer and Cheney aide, Luti was dispatched to the Pentagon in 2001 to work underneath Feith to find “evidence” to support his boss’s belief in conspiracy theories linking Saddam to al Qaeda. Luti was an integral component of Cheney’s campaign to pressure intelligence professionals to conform their judgments to administration policy rather than reality.
  35. Susan Orr — As Assistant Deputy Secretary for Population Affairs, this former Family Research Council officialIt’s not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”
  36. Christopher Cox — Under Chairman Cox, the Securities and Exchange Commission censored internal reports showing that it ignored critical signs pointing to Wall Street’s meltdown. Cox’s SEC also failed to detect Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme, despite a decade of warnings.
  37. Elliott Abrams — An Iran-Contra convict pardoned by Bush 41, Abrams was named by Bush 43 as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations. As a founding Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon into Syria and advocated a Fatah coup after Hamas won the February 2006 Palestinian elections.
  38. Philip Cooney — A former oil lobbyist who served as chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Cooney doctored climate reports to “soften” words and phrases linking greenhouse gas emissions to global warming. After his political interference was revealed, Cooney left the White House to become a lobbyist for Exxon.
  39. Colin Powell — Though Bush called him “an American hero” when he appointed him to be the first African-American Secretary of State, Powell placed an ugly “blot” on his record when he pushed the Bush administration’s faulty case for the Iraq war in a speech to the U.N. on Feb.5, 2003, using inaccurate information. Liberal hawks and the media rallied around Powell’s false case, calling it the “winning hand” for war.
  40. Elaine Chao — The Labor Secretary made it through all eight years of the Bush administration, driving morale at the Labor Department so low that staffers threw a “good-riddance party” to cheer her departure. She leaves behind a “deeply troubled department” that “spent eight years attacking workers’ rights, strong workplace health and safety rules, and unions while they carried the water for Big Business.”
  41. Julie Myers — After being hired as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement based on little more than her personal connections, Myers made herself famous by awarding “Most Original Costume” to an employee who dressed up in blackface and a prison costume for Halloween. She was also heavily criticized for conducting politically-motivated immigration raids.
  42. Wade Horn — As Assistant Secretary for Community Initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services, Horn funneled millions of tax-payer dollars into right-wing abstinence-only programs. Shortly before he resigned, it was revealed that he had given nearly $1 million “to the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), where he was the president for at least three years until joining the Bush administration in 2001.”
  43. George Deutsch — As a young, inexperienced press officer for NASA, Deutsch “told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word ‘theory’ at every mention of the Big Bang.” He resigned in 2006 after it was discovered he had lied on his resume, falsely claiming that he had a journalism degree from Texas A&M.
Dishonorable Mentions: Bush appointees who didn’t quite make the list included a child pornography aficionado, a patron of hookers, a shoplifter, a mail fraudster, an operator of an illegal horse gambling ring, and a CIA official who took bribes in the form of prostitutes.
LSB: I was going to keep just a short list and then link to the full list, but I figured these misfits ought to be recognized one more time for their disservice to the country before they slink off to their rat holes.

Nancy Pelosi Comes Out of Hibernation

From the Left: Hibernation, noun - the act of retiring into inactivity; “he emerged from his hibernation to make his first appearance in several years”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday” that she was open to pursuing investigations of abuses by the Bush Justice Department.
“I think that we have to learn from the past and we cannot let the politicizing, for example, of the Justice Department, to go unreviewed. Past is prologue. We learn from it.”
Pelosi told host Chris Wallace she thought the Obama administration would be open to scrutinizing the Bush White House, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has urged.
“I don’t think Mr. Obama and Mr. Conyers are that far apart. I want to see the truth come forward.”

Why Did HBO Censor Obama’s Openly Gay Bishop

From the Left: Did you enjoy seeing the Rev. Gene Robinson at the inaugural invocation at the Washington Mall today? Oh, what’s that? You don’t recall seeing Rev. Gene Robinson?
Well, that’s because HBO, who Obama sold the exclusive televised rights to the broadcast events, chose to censor the openly gay Bishop from the televised feed.
An unfortunate accident? Maybe. But after the fracas following Obama inviting the wildly homophobic Rev. Rick Warren to perform the inaugural invocation on Tuesday, one might think the president-elect and his team would be a bit more mindful about how this looks.
One thing’s for certain. Don’t expect HBO to censor out Rick Warren from the festivities this Tuesday.
Editors Note: I received an email from HBO’s PR folks who claim the diss was due to a “technical glitch.” Curious. The Gay Mens Chorus wasn’t shown by HBO either. I guess the HBO cameras just flip out when pointed at a homosexual.
Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend wrote: Remember, this was the supposed salve on the wound to the LGBT community for the upcoming high-profile appearance of Rick Warren at the actual inauguration on Tuesday, which will be seen by millions and will float out there on YouTube in perpetuity. I had no illusions that Robinson’s appearance would reach the same level of exposure as Warren’s, but damn — no broadcast of it at all?
The site contacted HBO yesterday, regarding the omission of Robinson from the network’s broadcast. HBO responded (via e-mail):
“The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show.”
Michael Jensen of AfterElton wrote that it was unclear “as to whether or not that meant that HBO was contractually prevented from airing the pre-show.”

Fuck You And Goodbye, Mr. 22%

From the Left: With approximately 72 hours until the inaugural, George Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in history, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing Mr. Bush’s final approval rating at 22 percent.
Seventy-three percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled his job as president over the last eight years.
Mr. Bush’s final approval rating is the lowest final rating for an outgoing president since Gallup began asking about presidential approval more than 70 years ago.
LSB: Good bye and good riddance, you traitorous fuck!

Obama's Speech at the Lincoln Memorial

This land is your land. This land is my land. Again. Finally.

Joe Sudbay (DC), Bruce, Pete Seeger and Seeger's grandson sang one of the classics at the Lincoln Memorial today. Everyone sang along, including Obama.
HBO has been busy. Not only did they pick a fight with the Obama Inaugural Committee over openly-gay Bishop Gene Robinson (HBO censored Robinson's invocation, so no one will be seeing it), they've been scouring the Internet to make sure no one sees evidence of yesterday's Obama inaugural event.
Yesterday, I posted a clip of Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing "This Land is Your Land" at the "We Are One" Obama inaugural concert. Perhaps you've heard of the concert - it's that amazing event down on the Mall set to kick off the inauguration of our next president. But that song is HBO's song. They took down my video claiming copyright infringement. That's the spirit, HBO. You own the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall which is is officially part of the swearing in of our next president. Nice.
I get that HBO has rights, but when they're broadcasting news -- and the concert was news -- they need to relax. It's not like I copied one of their stupid shows (and after "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City," most are pretty stupid.) And, the Presidential Inaugural Committee should have thought through the concept of letting a corporation own Obama's inaugural concert. Again, it was at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall and was an official event of the inauguration of our president. We all own that, not HBO.
YouTube sent this email:
This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Home Box Office, Inc. claiming that this material is infringing: This is Your Land: (
Class act, HBO. God forbid people get to see Pete Seeger sing "This Land is Your Land." And, doesn't this violate the spirit of the idea that corporate America doesn't own D.C. anymore??
Ben Smith at Politico has more:
There is something a bit intuitively objectionable about barring other networks and random citizens from pointing their cameras at a public event like this on the Mall, and effectively prevent the broadcast of a key public part of the event, though the Inaugural Committee argues that selling the exclusive rights were the only way to pay for the extravaganza in tough economic times.

10 Bush pardons to watch for

, As the clock ticks down on his presidency, George W. Bush has shown few signs he plans to indulge in the frenzy of last-minute pardons that marked Bill Clinton’s final hours in the Oval Office. ... [Still, he's under pressure from conservative allies, so here] is a list of 10 cases that could come under review by Bush:

  1. Military and CIA interrogators of war-on-terror prisoners [Politico Odds: 4 to 1]
  2. Former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. [Politico Odds: 1 to 2]
  3. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [Politico Odds: 1 to 1]
  4. Former American Israel Public Affairs Committee Lobbyists Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, Former Pentagon Analyst Lawrence Franklin [Politico Odds: Rosen/Weissman, 10 to 1; Franklin: 20 to 1]
  5. Former Justice Department official Bradley Schlozman [Politico Odds: 4 to 1]
  6. Former junk bond king Michael Milken [Politico Odds: 2 to 1]
  7. Former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean [Politico Odds: 3 to 1] GRANTED 01/19/09
  8. Former Governor George Ryan (R-Ill.) [Politico Odds: 4 to 1]
  9. Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard [Politico Odds: 20 to 1]
  10. Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) [Politico Odds: 50 to 1] CBS News reports Sen. Lisa Murkowski has called President Bush to ask that he pardon former Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted of seven felony counts in October for making false statements. Michael Brumas, the Communications Director for Murkowski, said a pardon request was made earlier this month. “He declined to give other details, including whether Stevens himself wanted the pardon and had asked Murkowski to pursue it on his behalf. ‘It’s just a very sensitive issue and a sensitive time — a couple days left,’ Brumas said. ‘We’re just not saying anything more.’”

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008: Bush’s Last Year By The Numbers President Bush issued a statement yesterday in which he heralded New Year’s day as “an opportunity to remember the events of the past and look forward with hope to the year ahead.” But as Bush looks forward to leaving office, the nation is stuck with the results of many of the Bush administration’s failed policies.
To mark the passing of Bush’s last full year in office, ThinkProgress rounded up statistics on some of the most significant effects of Bush rule in 2008:
Paul Krugman noted recently that the Bush administration’s failings have often been obscured in the short-run because the White House was particularly effective at inventing an alternate reality that it then “impressed on the public.” In 2008, however, despite its repeated attempts to wish it away, the reality of its domestic policy failures caught up with Bush administration and the nation.
LSB: With Cornyn, McConnell, Boehner and the other GOP obstructionists and game players, as well as the lack-luster leadership of Reid and Pelosi, Obama has his work cut out for him.

Former Iraqi Prime Minister: Bush An "Utter Failure"

Khalid al-Ansary, Reuters: Former U.S.-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has denounced the policies of President George W. Bush as an "utter failure" that gave rise to the sectarian venom that ravaged his country.
In an interview published on Saturday in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Allawi found fault with American management of Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 as well as the government of present Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Allawi ruled Iraq for almost a year after U.S. occupation officials handed power to him in 2004 as prime minister of an interim government. He was selected by a council hand-picked by Washington after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
"Yes, Bush's policies failed utterly," said Allawi, describing the U.S. administration that once backed him. "Utter failure. Failure of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, including fighting terrorism and economic policy."
"His insistence on names like 'democracy' and 'open elections', without giving attention to political stability, was a big mistake. It cast shadows on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt, and I believe this will be remembered in history as President Bush's policy," he said.
A former member of Saddam's Baath Party who fled into exile and agitated against the dictator, Allawi now heads a secular political movement which did poorly in elections in 2005. His bloc was part of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government but walked out last year.
Maliki's government was characterized by "weak performance, erected upon political quotas, major government corruption and infiltrated state agencies," he said. "Four years passed ... and they can't build the police, army, national institutions."
"Ending Saddam's regime was essential, but replacing the Saddam regime with extreme chaos was not right," he said. "I did not imagine the political process would eat itself from inside or that it would abandon the rule of law and establish political sectarianism."
Sectarian violence has dropped sharply in Iraq, but reconciliation and political harmony remain elusive even as the United States prepares to withdraw its 140,000 troops by 2012.
LSB: Thanks, but no thanks!

One Group That Still Is Getting a Raise - Congress

Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers: Members of Congress have at least one reason to ring in the new year: They've given themselves a $4,700-a-year pay raise starting Thursday. (Photo: AP)
With the economy in a recession and millions of Americans losing their jobs, however, members are under fire to rescind the pay hike, which will increase their base salaries to $174,000, roughly a 2.8 percent raise.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California will get a larger raise of about $6,100, though it's about the same percent increase. Her salary will rise to nearly $223,500. Pelosi's office declined to comment on the raise.
When Congress begins a new session next Tuesday, critics have an idea for the very first vote: Block the 2009 raise for all 535 senators and representatives.
"Certainly, the timing could be a lot better.... When you look at the rest of the country, people are hoping to hang on to their jobs, much less get a salary increase or a bonus," said Steve Ellis, the vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Other critics say that Congress has done nothing to deserve a raise.
"The general public can't help but think that lawmakers are patting themselves on the back, and padding their wallets, for presiding over the worst fiscal-policy blunders in recent history," said Pete Sepp, the vice president for policy and communications for the National Taxpayers Union.
The issue is always sensitive for members of Congress, who've designed a way to raise their pay automatically without even having to vote. They call it a cost-of-living allowance that takes effect each year, unless members vote to turn it down. Conveniently, it allows them to leave no evidence that could be used against incumbents in re-election campaigns.
"It's a gimmick to essentially avoid something that would be politically dicey," Ellis said. "And both parties are complicit in this system and benefit from it."
Members of Congress don't often snub an opportunity to make more money. It happened most recently in 2007, when the Democratic-led Congress decided to forgo a raise because it hadn't approved an increase in the minimum wage. Last January, members received an automatic increase of 2.5 percent.
Ellis said that Congress would be wise to delay its 2009 raise until the recession ended or unemployment declined. That would show that public officials are making a "shared sacrifice" during times of economic difficulty, he said.
While members of Congress will receive a raise, 12 percent of seniors are living at or below the poverty line, said Daniel O'Connell, the chairman of The Senior Citizens League. A senior who receives average Social Security benefits will get a $63 monthly increase in 2009, he said.
The congressional pay raise is expected to cost taxpayers $2.5 million next year.
"This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter," O'Connell said.
He said that members of Congress were increasing their salaries after questioning the multimillion-dollar compensation of auto executives earlier this month.
"As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain," O'Connell said. (More)
LSB: "Certainly, the timing could be a lot better...." Uh, you think? Does this expected $2.5 million budget hickey also include increases for other federal employees? "In a complex system of calculations, administered by the Office of Personnel Management, congressional pay rates also affect the salaries for federal judges and other senior government executives." I'm all for rewarding hard workers, and if you pay peanuts all you're going to get are monkeys. Many of our representative can (and someday will) earn more in the private sector by becoming lobbyists, so in order to keep good representatives shouldn't we have to pony up to keep those people working for us? In the giant U.S. budget scheme, this increase is a drop in the federal budget bucket - hardly even a blip on the radar screen; however, many Representatives (123 of 435 in 2005) and Senators (40 of 100 in 2003) are millionaires many times over, and the symbolism of awarding themselves a pay increase when the country is looking at massive layoffs and business failures just looks greedy. Those accepting this pay hike appear no better than the Wall Street executives taking those huge bonuses after collecting tax-payer bailouts.