Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sick at Home Saturday Open Thread

Dammit. I caught a nasty virus, so I'm quarantined this weekend. All my weekend plans have pretty much been shelved.

Have you had to endure a sick weekend lately? Doesn't it suck? I guess 'tis the season to feel really ill, fa la la la la yuck yuck yuck yuck.

So go ahead & chat away. I'll be around.

The President-Elect's Weekly Address

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two important decisions go Franken's way

The Minnesota Canvassing Board decided two issues today that will benefit Franken in the ongoing battle to count all the votes. The first of these two decisions was to include in the vote tally the 133 votes that were lost; this decision nets Franken an addition 46 votes. The second decision was the recommendation that counties should count absentee ballots that were wrongly rejected; polls showed Franken strongly led in the absentee ballots overall, so there is little reason to believe he would have trailed in this smaller but random sample of absentee ballots.

Illinois Attorney General Asks Supreme Court to Deem Governor Dead Meat Unfit

AP is reporting that Attorney General Lisa Madigan of Illinois has asked the high court in her state to deem Governor Dead Meat unfit to continue in his office.

TARP to Rescue the Automakers?

Hopefully. We can't handle any more collapse of our manufacturing base.

Hooray for Herbert Hoover!

Hoover lives! How wonderful that the GOP pols hold fast to their "values" of killing the economy by sitting on their hands & doing nothing. Are they aiming to make this recession into a depression?

Al Franken's campaign puts out a video

In the closest Senate race in Minnesota history, every vote should be counted fairly. But there are Minnesotans who had their votes thrown out, even though they did nothing wrong. They voted absentee, but their ballots were improperly rejected because of someone else's mistake. And in the closest Senate race in Minnesota history, their votes remain uncounted.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Keep Obama Honest on Civil Rights

Last month, we elected Barack Obama as our 44th President on the promise that he'll reverse course on the assault on people's rights and help our nation make progress again on advancing civil rights. Next month, Obama will take office. So how long must we wait to see those promises fulfilled?

Why should we wait much longer?

We shouldn't have to. Really, we can't allow inequality to persist any longer. That's why we must start working now to urge President Obama and the Democratic Congress to get working!

One great place where they can start is with repealing DOMA, the "Defense of Marriage Act". In reality, DOMA defends no one's marriage. Rather, it prevents same-sex couples from exercising what should be their rights as legally recognized couples. Now that issues of LGBT equality are on the forefront of the national agenda and most Americans believe gay & lesbian couples should have all the same rights as straight couples, we must make sure that DOMA is repealed.

Another important LGBT civil rights issue to tackle is workplace discrimination. Believe it or not, someone can still be "legally" fired in 30 states simply for being a "f*gg*t". We're in desperate need of a national anti-discrimination policy, and that's why ENDA must become law as soon as possible. That's also why "Don't Ask Don't Tell" must be repealed, as far too many brave people in the military are discharged simply for being queer. There should be no "heterosexual litmus test" to hire employees, so DADT must be repealed as ENDA becomes law.

Now of course, we don't just have work to do on LGBT rights. We also must work to advance women's rights, including women's reproductive rights. We can start by pushing for the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act, which will prevent any further erosion of the principle of freedom of choice originally decided in Roe v. Wade. Oh yes, and if the anti-choice forces really want to work with us to reduce the need for abortion, why don't they join us in protecting access to family planning & contraception?

OK, so choice shouldn't be the end of advancing women's rights. There's far more for us to do as well. Believe it or not, women are still not guaranteed fair pay for the hard work they do. And believe it or not, there's still no guarantee of equal rights for women in the Constitution yet. This must change, and we must change this soon.

It's about time that America treat all her citizens equally, regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Are you ready to make this change happen? I am. Now, we must demand that the new President & Congress make it happen!

Please tell President-Elect Obama to keep his word & support equal rights for all! Oh yes, and please ask the same of your members of Congress. They promised us change we can believe in, so now's the time to deliver.

Desperately Seeking Relevance


A Union at Wal-Mart?

In Canada, it might happen. O Canada...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yes, Obama Was Involved

The New York Times goes a long way to answer the questions we have on how involved President-Elect Barack Obama was in IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich's "Pay to Play" scandal. Here's a good example of how Obama was a part of the action.

Mr. Obama used leverage that he had seldom employed - publicly, anyway - and strongly urged Mr. Jones to bypass Mr. Blagojevich and approve the ethics bill, banning the so-called pay-for-play system of influence peddling in Illinois. When asked at the time how Mr. Obama had come to be involved, Mr. Jones replied, "He's a friend."

When the Illinois Senate passed the measure by 55 to 0 on Sept. 22, with Mr. Jones reversing his position, Mr. Obama praised the move as one creating "a tougher ethics law that will reduce the influence of money over our state's political process." Mr. Obama's intervention deepened a rift between him and Mr. Blagojevich that had been growing for some time.

So does this now explain why Blagojevich called Obama a "motherf*cker" for not paying to play Blago's game? It does for me. Obama actually took a little time off the campaign trail in late September to line up the votes to pass the historic ethics legislation that proved to be Blago's downfall.

So will the Republicans stop telling lies about "Barky Hussein Soetoro's trail of corruption"? Obama actually worked to stop the corruption! If anything, we should thank the President-Elect for putting an end to this mess in Illinois & hope that he can do the same in DC!

Torture after Bush

Talking Points Memo has an excellent video out which, though it stops a little abruptly, speaks to the problems that the Obama faces in addressing the legacy of George Bush's torture regime. The caption at You Tube says about the video:
At a panel last week on justice in the post-Bush era, Scott Horton of Harper's explained to TPMtv why the Justice Department may not be the best venue to lead investigations of the Bush years. Also: Horton says members of the Obama transition team have asked him "penetrating questions" about his December cover story on how we should investigate -- and potentially prosecute -- Bush-era lawbreakers.

Senate Candidate 5

Several newswires are now reporting that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., is the now infamous "Senate Candidate 5" that FBI transcripts report was willing to "Pay to Play" to get a Senate appointment. Neither the FBI nor Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has confirmed that Rep. Jackson is "Senate Candidate 5," but ABC News claims that its sources have confirmed this. So is the mystery solved?

We'll find out when the next wave of indictments roll out.

Obama calls on Dead Meat to resign

Barack Obama has called Blagojevich to resign. Press Secretary-Designate Robert Gibbs said:
The president-elect agrees with [Illinois] Lt. Governor Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois.
Obama similarly called on the Illinois legislature to create a process to select a senator who enjoy the respect of the citizens of Illinois.

Mid-Week Open Thread

What's happening today? Anything good going on? Chat with us.

Governor Dead Meat Might be Removed by Illinois Supreme Court

The Sun-Times reports that the Illinois state Constitution is vague about the powers to remove a sitting governor from office. Impeach by the Assembly may be for "failure to qualify" or "disability," but even more vaguely, the seven justices of the Illinois Supreme Court may determine the "ability of the governor to serve."

Illinois's Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, The Sun-Times reports, is prepared to go to the Supreme Court to force Governor Dead Meat out of office.

Go, Lisa, go!

I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear


The Los Angeles Times reports that Barack Obama intends to use his full name, including his middle one, "Hussein," when he takes the oath of office on January 20. Obama said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times:
I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or another. I'll do what everybody else does.
Obama promises to make a strong pitch to the Muslim world. During the course of his interview, Obama observed that he thought the nation had a wonderful opportunity to shape the way non-Americans see it:
I think we've got a unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular.
Obama plans to deliver a speech in a Muslim capital early in his term as president.

Close Gitmo, yes, but that's not all

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tales of Blago

TalkLeft has a good rundown of what's happening in Illinois, including some brainstorming on who may be cooperating with the investigation of the IL Governor.

Governor Dead Meat doesn't plan to resign

Politico quotes Governor Dead Meat's attorney:
He didn't do anything wrong. A lot of this is just politics.
The lawyer said that Governor Dead Meat doesn't have plans to resign.

If you didn't hear Fitzgerald's press conference today

it's really worth a listen:

It's pretty sobering to hear Fitzgerald talk about this, and the comments by the Federal agent ought to send a chill down your spine.

Keep Obama Honest on Economic Justice

As we all know now, the economy is the one issue on the top of our minds. The US has now been in a recession for a year, and there are still concerns that we may slip into a depression.

Already, President-Elect Barack Obama has said he wants to take action on the economy as soon as he's sworn into office. But will he support the real solutions that our economy needs? Well, that's where we step in.

Now is the time for us to ensure that Obama's campaign promises come true. And now with everyone worried about the economy, now is the time to institute the real reforms and investments that are needed to fix what's broken. So where should we begin?

How about the one problem that is actually making our businesses less competitive? And the problem that is squeezing the working class, as people pay so much for so little? Yes, I'm talking about health care. Believe it or not, instituting universal health care can stimulate our economy. With businesses spending less on health care expenses, they can afford to hire more workers and produce more product. And with individuals spending less on inadequate health care, they can have more livable income. We must make universal health care happen, as this can do plenty to improve our people's and our economy's health.

Another great way for us to stimulate the economy will be to invest in infrastructure. And if we want to solve the climate crisis and fix our energy problem while also stimulating our economy, we should start building our green economy infrastructure. Think about it. We need new American jobs, and we need renewable energy. So why not build the solar panels and wind turbines and geothermal plants here so we can accomplish both? Contrary to what the "conventional wisdom" says, good environmental policy can actually go hand in hand with good economic policy. And right now, we need both for the new jobs and the investment. Blue Green Alliance gets it, and so should the new Administration.

And finally, no economy functions properly without a functioning middle class. And for far too long, the corporate right has attacked the middle class. We need to change this, and we can begin by ending the assault on the unions that helped create the American middle class. We must ensure that the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law, so that workers will once again be able to choose to form unions. We also must reform the global trade regime to make "free trade" fair as well. Our trade policies must be fair to our workers so they can keep their jobs, but we also must make sure that they are fair to the workers in the developing world. After all, how good is "free trade" if half the world can't afford it?

So there you have it, a more well-rounded economic rescue plan. We need to remember that Wall Street "rescue funds" and Detroit automaker loans are only part of the solution, and so do the incoming President and Congress. Please tell President-Elect Obama to fulfill his pledge to us, and please ask your members of Congress to do the same. They promised change we can believe in, and now's the time for that change to be delivered.

Is Jesse Jackson Jr. "Senate Candidate 5"?

(Cross-posted at MyDD)

Marc Ambinder speculates that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is the unnamed "Senate Candidate 5" in the Blagojevich indictment, based upon the apparent timing of a recent meeting between Jackson and the Guv.  Since this speculation is being widely disseminated, I wanted to look more closely at it.  Even assuming Ambinder is right about that meeting, his argument simply makes no sense to me.

Ambinder even cites the paragraph of the indictment which leads me to draw the exact opposite conclusion as he does.  To put this excerpt in context, "Senate Candidate 1" is apparently Barack Obama's preferred choice for the seat:
102. Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife on "paid corporate boards right now." Advisor A responded that he "think[s] they could" and that a "Presidentelect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint "[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I'll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5]." (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and "picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever" it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as

In my reading, Blagojevich is saying here that if Obama won't do anything for him, then screw Obama, he'll appoint Senate Candidate 5 instead.  Ambinder agrees with my interpretation: "In other words -- if Blago doesn't get what he wanted, then he'd stiff the POTUS by appointing someone he didn't like -- Senate Candidate 5."

So then, how could Senate Candidate 5 possibly be Jesse Jackson Jr.?  Unless I'm missing something, there is no reason to think that Obama doesn't like Jesse Jackson Jr., or that appointing Jackson to the seat would be perceived as any kind of "slap" to Obama.  To the contrary, Jackson was a prominent surrogate for Obama during the presidential campaign, and I have never heard anything to suggest that Obama would be upset if Jackson took his Senate seat (although Jackson may not be his first choice).

To be clear, whether or not Jackson is "Senate Candidate 5," there are no allegations of criminal activity against Senate Candidate 5 in the indictment.  But the charges definitely cast that anonymous person in an unfavorable light:

On December 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke to Advisor B and informed Advisor B that he was giving Senate Candidate 5 greater consideration for the Senate seat because, among other reasons, if ROD BLAGOJEVICH ran for re-election Senate Candidate 5 would "raise[] money" for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, although ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5 to insure Senate Candidate 5 kept his promise about raising money for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. (In a recorded conversation on October 31, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH described an earlier approach by an associate of Senate Candidate Five as follows: "We were approached `pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.")
The indictment is unclear on this point, and whether or not Senate Candidate 5 did anything illegal necessarily depends on what exactly was said between him and Blagojevich - and by the sound of it, the Feds may not even have wiretaps of those particular conversations.  But I'm pretty confident that Senate Candidate 5, whomever he or she may be, is not getting the Senate appointment given the light this indictment paints them in.



Secretary-Designate Clinton and Secretary Rice Meet

The Associated Press is reporting that Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice ate supper last evening at Ms. Rice's apartment in the Watergate. Though they have know each other since the 1990s, this meeting was their first since Barack Obama named Hillary as his designated Secretary of State. AP reports:
Rice and Clinton enjoyed a private two-hour catered meal of sea bass, wild rice, mushroom soup and fruit.
The two women discussed the nation's foreign policy issues and challenges as Obama ascends to the presidency.

Another View on the Blago Arrest

Is this an opportunity now for Democrats to "clean house"? Perhaps so?

Unadorned Corruption

Governor Blagojevich of Illinois has been arrested for attempting to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat for financial consideration. Imagine it: the governor of Illinois actually said:
I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.
Kurtz at TPM calls it, "serious chutzpah." Todd Beeton opens his description of the breaking news with a sardonic, "Greeeeaaaat." Josh Marshall at TPM expresses wonder with a single word at both the daring and denial of the governor: "Amazing." BarbinMD at Daily Kos sums it up with, "What an ass."

Somehow, the lack of a blue dress with a stain and the failure to claim there were WMDs when there were none makes the scandal a little refreshing. Everyone can understand trying to sell a public benefice for private gain. No one can argue that this is anything other than just bad. You don't need to call in an ethics philosopher or a moral theologian to do the analysis on this one.

Hot Damn...

And this guy wants to appoint Obama's successor in the Senate? Hell, no! Hopefully, someone with good sense will be able to get IL Gov. Blagojevich to resign so someone clean can take over & appoint a clean successor to the Senate seat. I only hope Illinois Democrats have the good sense of letting him face these serious charges in court.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Late Nite Open Thread

What's happening?

The Greatest Gift of All

(Originally posted at The Liberal OC)

Love. Love is a many splendid thing. Love is awesome. Love feels good.

But what if you couldn't be with the one you love? What if you couldn't have the one you love? What if you weren't allowed to love the one you love?

Think I'm crazy?

If we allow discriminatory initiatives like California's Prop H8, Arizona's Prop 102, and Florida's Amendment 2 to stand, it would only be the start. It would start a new effort to attack the LGBT community and the rights we have. But you know what's even worse?

The forces behind H8 don't really care about "protecting marriage". They mainly want to "divide and conquer" the progressive coalition that elected Barack Obama as our next President & sent more Democrats to Congress. They want to rekindle "the culture wars" and make LGBT people into just another "wedge issue".

But you know what? Our love isn't a "wedge issue"! People's civil rights shouldn't be a petty political game. It's high time we say "Enough!" to this attempt to make equality into some ugly "culture war".

That's why I'm giving the gift of equality to everyone I love. Because after all, isn't this about the right to love? And what better gift can I give than the right to live and love?

And yes, the beautiful struggle for the right to love goes on. We have a strong case in the California Supreme Court to overturn H8, as the forces behind this initiative didn't actually follow the constitutional guidelines to try to revise the state constitution. And no matter what happens in court next spring, we'll be prepared to win marriage equality on the California ballot in 2010. And believe me, we're not giving up on Arizona or Florida or any of the other states with marriage bans to repeal.

Hey, isn't love worth fighting for? That's why I'm giving to my friends and family the gift of a strong Courage Campaign effort to repeal H8. Meanwhile, a couple friends are giving me a great Lambda Legal effort to fight for our rights in court.

Love isn't cheap, but love is so worth it! So please, please give the gift of equality to the ones you love. Trust me, this will be a holiday present that your loved ones will absolutely love!

In this season of giving, reach down deep

Won't you please consider sponsoring a sad and broken executive, especially at this particular time of the year.

Obama Seat to Jackson?


The Associated Press is reporting that Governor Rod Blagojevich plans to sit down with Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. to discuss the possibility of Jackson's appointment to Obama's unfinished term as a United States Senator. The Governor described Jackson "as a 'very strong' candidate. The son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson is among several Illinois politicians mentioned as contenders."


A Timeline of H8

Sad, but true.

Religious Freedom?

Is this a "demand for religious freedom"... Or a demand to curtail religious freedom? You decide.

Obama/R & McCain/D Districts

Yes, it's for real. And yes, it can be frustrating. But now, we're getting a good idea on who did the ticket split this year & how they did it.

Supreme Court lays to rest absurd case of Obama's citizenship


The Associated Press reports that the Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that proposed Barack Obama did not meet the qualifications for citizenship to be elected president of the United States. The Court declined to hear the case without comment. One more case on the question of Obama's natural citizenship remains unsettled, but it has met stiff judicial resistance to date. These cases remind me of the Wing Nuts' insistence that Hillary Clinton murdered Vince Foster. Where do these cuckoo birds come from?

Decider is what they sell in a little jug

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The House Is Now in Order

C4O All-Star Mary Jo Kilroy has just been announced as the winner in the OH-15 House race! This means that the new House will open next month with 257 Democrats & 178 Republicans. Hooray! :-)

Btw, Ohio now has a majority Democratic Congressional Delegation. Isn't that great? This certainly makes up for the recent news of Louisiana growing redder. Ohio's bigger, and it's growing bluer. ;-)

Remember Pearl Harbor

Let's remember those who fought to defend us some 67 years ago.

Lazy Sunday Open Thread

What's happening today? Tell us about it. Chat away.