Posts Tagged ‘Democrats


Fiscal Discipline and the State and Defense Departments


icon_digg  At the beginning of  May President Obama announced an across the board budget reduction for each federal department and a complete revamping of overdue change in the way Washington typically does business.  Throughout all forms of media we learned of the fifteen different departments, including the the overly expensive “Defense Department” revising and slashing their respective budgets as directed by the president.

Personally of course I do not possess the ability to carefully analyze, digest and render judgment on each department’s cost reductions and understand there value to the overall needs of there justifications.  However, the two budgets of most interest were the State and Defense Departments. The State Department in regards to Central Asia and the DoD’s as it  pertains to Iraq only.

It also requires mentioning that “I recognize the 2010 budget presented to congress was not of President Obama’s Administration, instead authored by the Bush Administration, which included numerous “earmarks”; regardless of this fact, my posting is basically unconcerned with the monetary size or the needless earmarks themselves, but only to suggest for consideration aspects of unfinished business within congress regarding the Department of Defense and the reckless “fat” that should be trimmed within the proposed State Department budget.”

Defense Department:

kbr_logo-smRegarding the DoD budget, I sincerely want to secure the recovery of all monies wasted and pilfered by KBR, the Army’s leading Iraqi and Afghan contractor who is linked to “the vast majority” of suspected combat-zone fraud cases that have already been referred to congressional and DoD investigators.  The total amount paid to KBR, for their services (or lack of services) by our government amounts to 13 billion dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defense Contract Auditing Agency as found KBR’s contracts for awarded work, accounts for forty-three percent of the Pentagon’s total audited Iraq contracting dollars.  Furthermore, according to the agency’s data, thirty-two cases are now under current investigation.

The Army has paid an additional $83.4 million in added “bonuses” to KBR, despite documented accusations of its inferior electrical wiring work that was incorporated into military facilities and the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which has been linked to the electrocution of at least four soldiers and one contractor (please review the reference sources below for details).

A Senate Democratic Policy Committee has determined that more than half of the aforementioned bonuses, $48.9 million, to be exact, were awarded to KBR after the DoD sounded an alarm in early 2007 regarding what was described as pervasive problems with KBR.

Let us not forget the Halliburton Company was the parent company to KBR where former Vice President Dick Cheney served as Halliburton’s Chief Executive Officer from 1995 to 2000 before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate.

While serving in the Bush Administration, some critics have charged Cheney’s received “deferred” compensation from Halliburton which represented a conflict of interest and questioned Halliburton’s winning of lucrative government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The contractual money awarded to KBR for work, unsatisfactorily completed, must be fully accounted for and returned before any additional contract is awarded to KBR.

State Department:

federal-reserve-smThe State Department is embarking on a $1 billion crash program to expand its diplomatic presence in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, which is another costly, long-term commitment in South Central Asia when this money could be used more effectively for other uses back here in America.

The White House has asked Congress for and seems likely to receive $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad,  with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital.  The request also includes funding for two additional Consulate Offices in other regions of Pakistan.

I seriously question this request and needless spending for the following reasons:

  • Financial burdens on our economy still remain an issue here within the U.S., especially at the state and local levels.  Most Americans know and subscribe to the notion that there’s only so much money to go around.
  • Pouring additional money into any country without knowing what the political outcome may be or the final implementation of how a free democracy will best be served, is money unwisely spent.  Currently it appears as if a civil war within Pakistan (pro-government forces versus a Taliban backed regime) could develop over the next three to six months.
  • It behooves me to comprehend why we need three “Super Embassies” within the Eastern Hemisphere; Cairo, Baghdad, and now the proposed expansion of the Islamabad embassy.  Three large embassies located approximately within less than four hours of flight time from one another.

Cairo, Egypt to Baghdad, Iraq is 800 miles,
Baghdad, Iraq  to Islamabad, Pakistan is 1,600 miles
Cairo, Egypt to Islamabad, Pakistan is 2,400 miles

  • How are we the American public going to benefit from this expense?

This last point is of the utmost importance, since one of the primary reasons for the State Department’s justification of existence is to arrange and promote American business interests within countries.  How can this objective successfully be accomplished with an unstable and perhaps corrupt government in Pakistan.

Other major State Department projects are planned for an expanded embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan; and for consulate offices to be setup in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. In Peshawar, our government is negotiating the purchase of a five-star hotel that would house a new U.S. consulate.  Again, I wonder how this is going to go down with our thousands of already homeless, here in the states and aid our laid off auto workers desperately trying not to become homeless?

What’s my Point:

Tom-Serious-80x54After several of our embassies were destroyed or listed as targets for terrorist activity; our State Department requested much needed funding to enhance the security aspects of our embassies and consulates, which I agree, funding needed to be authorized and construction for security re-enforcement undertaken.

However, I feel there are defined limits to be adhered to and there should not be a blanket, coverall “card blanc” policy towards proposed State Department expenditures.

Our president who I believe comprehends the American people, more so, than any other president in the past thirty-five years has acted in a diligent prudent manner, requesting each of his fifteen departments, he oversees, to cut unnecessary items from their budgets.

This can be witnessed here, where the President as taken the following action (links added by myself for reference):

The programs in Terminations, Reductions, and Savings are ones that do not accomplish the
goals set for them, do not do so efficiently, or do a job already done by another initiative. They
include these ten:

  • LORAN-C, $35 million. This long-range, radio-navigation system has been made
    obsolete by GPS.
  • Abandoned Mine Lands Payments, $142 million. This program is now used to clean
    up mines that are already cleaned up.
  • Educational attaché, Paris, France, $632,000. The Department of Education can use
    e-mail, video conferencing, and modest travel to replace a full-time representative to
    UNESCO in Paris, France.
  • Los Alamos Neutron Science Center refurbishment, $19 million. The linear
    accelerator housed here was built 30 years ago and no longer plays a critical role in
    weapons research.
  • Even Start, $66 million. The most recent evaluation found no difference on 38 out of
    41 outcomes between families in the program and those not in it. Strengthening early
    childhood education is accomplished through significant investments in proven, more
    effective programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Early Learning
    Challenge Fund.
  • Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, $1 million. The Foundation would
    spend only 20 percent of its 2010 appropriation on the fellowships it awards.
  • Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit, $125 million. This program benefits very few
    taxpayers, and has an extremely high error rate: GAO found that 80 percent of
    recipients did not meet at least one requirement.
  • Javits Gifted and Talented Education Program, $7 million. Grants from this
    program go to only 15 school districts nationwide, and there are no empirical measures
    to judge efficacy.
  • Public Broadcasting Grants, $5 million. USDA made these grants to support rural
    public broadcasting stations’ conversion to digital broadcasting. That transition is now
    almost complete.
  • Rail Line Relocation Grants, $25 million. This program, duplicative of a merit-based
    program, is loaded with earmarks.

The efforts detailed in Terminations, Reductions, and Savings are part of a larger and longer
effort needed to change how Washington does business and put our fiscal house in order.

Rarely, do I agree with the media who have criticized the President for this small cost savings reduction or members of our legislative branch of government, who infer this is a small amount of the overall 2010 budget.  However, I feel the federal government should look again for additional cost savings measures and rescind programs and projects that may not be needed at this time.

I do hope in the coming four years both the Defense and State Departments act responsibly to fiscal spending along with both Congress and President vetoing  any and all requests for haphazard expenditures, at least until our country is relieved from some of its financial burdens.

Finally, consider authoring an e-Mail to both your House Representative and Senator, requesting an update on the status of where the KBR investigations presently are and your opinion regarding another expensive new embassy in Pakistan along with two new and additional Consulates offices in Lahore and Peshawar.

Reference Sources and Documents:

Newswire Articles and Updates

Defense Department:

The Use and Misuse of Reconstruction Funding Affects the War Effort in Iraq and Afghanistan

Senate Committee Hearing Contractor KBR Misconduct in Iraq (pdf)

Senate Document Questionable Contracting Practices by KBR and the Pentagon (pdf)

House of Representatives Committee Hearing – Statement Thomas Bruni KBR Engineer (pdf)

Senate Document Request to KBR – Blackwater Payments (pdf)

Department of Defense base budget for 2010 (pdf)

Department of Defense Organizational Chart (pdf)

State Department:

State Department FY 2010 Budget in Brief (pdf)

State Department Organization Chart – May 2009 (pdf)

White House:

Remarks by the President on Reducing Spending in the Budget (pdf)

Budget Fact Sheet (pdf)

Fiscal Year 2010 budget overview (pdf)

Accompanying Video:

The President Announces Key Spending Cuts in His Budget

The President discusses his budget reductions a change in the way Washington does business. May 7, 2009.


The Torture Issue and 2010 Senate Elections


icon_digg When reviewing which senators are coming up for re-election in 2010 (posted here) and comparing with this list of senators who were briefed on the CIA’s torture techniques (posted here (pdf document)) we discover the following senators should be given serious consideration of our vote in 2010:


  • Evan Bayh – Senator from Indiana (D)
  • Russ Feingold – Senator from Wisconsin (D)
  • Barbara A. Mikulski – Senator from Maryland (D)
  • Ron Wyden – Senator from Oregon (D)


  • Richard Burr – Senator from North Carolina (R)
  • John McCain – Senator from Arizona (R)
  • Richard Shelby – Senator from Alabama (R)
  • Christoper S. Bond – Senator from Missouri (R) (retiring)

Understandingly being briefed under the blanket of congressional confidentiality and condoning torture are entirely two different issues; it is still a voter’s responsibility to request the candidate’s feelings regarding their position on torture.

Additional Reference Sources and Newswire Updates:

Related Newswire Articles on 2010 Elections

Related postings on the torture issue:

Is There a Need for Abu Ghraib II Photos

What Makes Guantanamo Bay Special

Change Starts by Correcting the Past

Torturing Democracy – The Film

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Armitage: ‘Maybe I should have quit’

Richard Armitage, the former US Deputy Secretary of State, tells Avi Lewis on Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines why he should have resigned from the Bush administration over its lack of respect for the Geneva conventions.

From Fault Lines, a new show on Al Jazeera English hosted by Avi Lewis and Josh Rushing.

The first episode examines the Obama administration’s emerging policies on detention, rendition and torture.


Looking Ahead to 2010 and the Senate


I dislike copying an entire page and presenting it in a blog, but there’s no other way to really to get an excellently written assessment of what’s in store for voters in the up and coming 2010 congressional seats.

This page is presented by Council for a Livable World at their link here:

An Early Look at the 2010 Senate Elections

18 Democratic seats up for election

Evan Bayh (IN)
Michael Bennet (CO)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Roland Burris (IL)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Russell Feingold (WI)
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
Daniel Inouye (HI)
Ted Kaufman (DE) (retiring)
Patrick Leahy (VT)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Patty Murray (WA)
Harry Reid (NV)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Arlen Specter (PA)
Ron Wyden (OR)

18 Republican seats up for election

Robert Bennett (UT)
Christopher Bond (MO) (retiring)
Sam Brownback (KS) (retiring)
Jim Bunning (KY)
Richard Burr (NC)
Tom Coburn (OK)
Mike Crapo (ID)
Jim DeMint (SC)
Chuck Grassley (IA)
Judd Gregg (NH) (retiring)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Mel Martinez (FL) (retiring)
John McCain (AZ)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Richard Shelby (AL)
John Thune (SD)
David Vitter (LA)
George Voinovich (OH) (retiring)

The landscape

1. Number of seats up in 2010: After the unexpected Specter party switch, Democrats and Republicans now both have to defend 18 seats, but the Pennsylvania contest now swings toward the Democrats.

2. Retirements: At this point, five GOP Senators have announced their retirement at the end of this term, compared to only one Democrat. Open seats are frequently highly competitive.

3. Newly-appointed Senators: There are four Democratic seats previously held by Obama, Biden, Clinton and Salazar. Their appointed successors will be much more vulnerable in two years.

4. Candidate recruitment: Both parties are searching for strong candidates to run as challengers or for open seats, but have suffered some disappointments as favored candidates declined to enter the races.

5. External factors: The decisive factor may be the popularity of President Barack Obama in November 2010 and his success in solving U.S. domestic and foreign problems, especially the recession. Many mid-term elections become referenda on the incumbent President’s party.

The early battleground states

California: The nation’s largest state becomes a battleground only if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) decides to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) . She will face spirited competition even if he does not run, perhaps from ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R), but should prevail.

Colorado: Political newcomer Michael Bennet (D) was appointed to replace Sen. Ken Salazar (D), who resigned to become the new Secretary of Interior. Well-regarded for his performance as superintendent of Denver public schools, Bennet is little known to voters across the state. Republicans are sure to mount a stiff challenge. Polls point to a close contest in the general election. Bennet raised $1.4 million in the first three months of 2009.

Connecticut: The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Chris Dodd (D) is in trouble. His sagging poll numbers are due to the banking crisis (he is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee) and to what the media describes as sweetheart real estate deals. While the state is strongly Democratic, polls show that Dodd will face a strong challenge from former Rep. Rob Simmons (R) or former state senator Sam Caligirui (R).

Delaware: Sen. Ted Kaufman (D) is Sen. Joseph Biden’s former chief of staff. He has announced that he will hold the seat for only two years, keeping it warm for Attorney General Beau Biden (D), one of Biden’s sons who is expected to announce his candidacy after he returns from his military deployment in Iraq. Republicans are hoping to nominate popular U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a veteran legislator. A March 2009 poll showed Castle leading Beau Biden.

Florida: This Senate contest for the seat of retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (R). took a dramatic turn when popular Governor Charles Crist (R) entered the contest in May. He will be challenged from the right by former Florida state Speaker Marco Rubio (R) and on the left by U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D). While Crist has his detractors, he is likely to win the seat easily.

Illinois : Former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s (D) appointment of Sen. Roland Burris (D) embarrassed state and national Democrats. It is not clear whether 71-year old Burris will run in 2010. State treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) is running and has raised over $1.1 million. The GOP is recruiting suburban Chicago U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R).

Kansas: Sen. Sam Brownback (R) , currently serving his second term in the U.S. Senate, has kept his promise to retire after two terms. Two GOP House members, Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran have indicated they will run in the primary. Now that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) has entered the Obama cabinet, the Republican primary winner is almost surely the general election winner. Democrats have not won a Kansas Senate seat since 1932.

Kentucky: Two-term incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning (R) won by only 23,000 votes in 2004, a strong Republican year, and is considered highly vulnerable. Indeed, some Republicans are urging Bunning to retire rather than risk defeat. He has responded by attacking Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell (R), also of Kentucky. Bunning had only $376,000 in the bank at the end of March. Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D), who ran in 2004, has declared he will run, as has state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) .

Louisiana: Democrats have been targeting Sen. David Vitter (R) (Mr. Family Values) since his name was found in the D.C. Madam’s list of prostitutes’ customers. Vitter may receive a primary challenge and will certainly face a strong opponent in the general election.

Missouri: Sen. Kit Bond (R) survived a series of credible Democratic challengers over the years. Now he has announced his retirement. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D), the daughter of a recent governor and senator and sister of a congressman, is the early Democratic frontrunner. Early polls show her with a narrow lead over potential Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and ex-state treasurer Sarah Steelman. This is a toss-up race.

Nevada: In 2004, Republicans upset Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and hope to repeat that victory by defeating Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D) in 2010. Potential serious challengers are former U.S. Representative Jon Porter (R) and Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki (R). The GOP will almost surely mount a serious challenge to Reid. While Reid triumphed handily in 2004, he won by only 428 votes six years earlier. At the end of March, Reid had $5 million in the bank. The National Republican Senatorial Committee began running attack ads against Reid in January 2009. Reid may be vulnerable for re-election depending on the state of the national economy.

New Hampshire: This state has been voting increasingly Democratic as evidenced by the defeat of both Republican House members in 2006 and Sen. John Sununu in 2008. Democrats are optimistic about winning another Senate seat in 2010, particularly now that Senator Judd Gregg (R) has announced his retirement. Rep. Paul Hodes (D) has declared his candidacy. The other U.S. Representative from New Hampshire, Carol Shea-Porter (D), will not run.

New York: Gov. David Paterson’s selection of little-known U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) from upstate New York to replace former Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could lead to stiff primary opposition. U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D), who objects to Gillibrand’s pro-gun position, may contest the party nomination. Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King may run. Gillibrand is an effective fundraiser and a formidable campaigner, but not well known across the Empire state. The state’s Democratic leanings make her the early favorite, and she raised $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2009.

North Carolina: North Carolina was carried by Barack Obama in 2008 and elected Sen. Kay Hagan (D) over incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R). Democrats have turned their sights on Sen. Richard Burr (R) . State Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) is considering a challenge. Polling shows Burr only slightly ahead of potential challengers.

North Dakota: Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) will breeze to easy re-election unless Gov. John Hoeven (R) gets into the contest.

Ohio: Ex-U.S. Rep. and ex-Office of Management and Budget director Rob Portman (R) declared his candidacy immediately after the announced retirement of Sen. George Voinovich (R). He may run opposed for the GOP nomination. Democrats face a primary between Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and state Rep. Tyrone Yates. Both the primary and general election are wide open. Portman has over $3 million in his campaign treasury, well ahead of either Democratic candidate.

Pennsylvania: Incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R turned D) surprising party switch in April 2009 has totally shaken up this contest. Threatened with defeat at the hands of former Conservative Club for Growth president Pat Toomey (R), who almost defeated Specter in a 2004 primary, Specter has decided to run as a Democrat. The result is that Toomey is likely the GOP nominee and Specter the Democratic candidate, although the newly minted Democrat may still face primary opposition. However, Specter has $6.7 million campaign treasury.

Additional Reference Sources and Newswire Updates:

The Torturous 13

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Related Newswire Articles on 2010 Elections


Like Father – Like Daughter


icon_digg13 I to would like to see Donald Rumsfelt, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet face charges, but first I want to see how our current administration handles this black mark on our country’s history, without outside interference. Basically, whose going to align themselves on whose side.

Think about it for a moment – Here’s Dick Cheney with every opportunity he can get a hold of, to voice his displeasure with any and all of Obama’s policies with the media; what other former Vice Presidents has done that? Not a one!

Now his daughter is getting into the act:

Liz Cheney Defends Father ‘Dick Cheney’ Torture Legacy/Policies

So Why, easy, to confuse along with attempting to defuse the issue at hand, his own personal involvement with authorizing torture.

Unapologetic and Unrestrained: Cheney Unbound

In the three months since leaving office, Mr. Cheney has upended the old Washington script for former presidents and vice presidents, using a series of interviews — the first just two weeks after leaving office — to kick off one last campaign, not for elective office, but on behalf of his own legacy. In the process, he has become a vocal leader of the opposition to President Obama, rallying conservatives as they search for leadership and heartening Democrats who see him as the ideal political foil.

Rice, Cheney Approved Waterboarding
Associated Press

The Director of Central Intelligence in the spring of 2003 sought a reaffirmation of the legality of the interrogation methods. Cheney, Rice, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales were among those at a meeting where it was decided that the policies would continue. Rumsfeld and Powell weren’t.

Update 25 Apr 09:

Cheney Starts Pro-Torture Facebook Page
Andy Borowitz |

In his most aggressive public relations move since leaving office, former Vice President Dick Cheney today established a Facebook page for fans of torture.


Europe Back Off and Stay Out

Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Trials

icon_digg12 America, as all countries today, is undergoing a vast amount of change; however there exists a hopefully small number of individuals within our country who in essence mistakenly subscribe to the notion “the Bush doctrine on terror” was correct and righteous, which includes the use of torture to obtain supposed Intel information.

I believe our President is taking the right steps, as he promised during his campaign to “right the wrongs” of our country’s past eight years of injustice regarding our treatment of combative detainees.  First by releasing the Bush Administration’s memos condoning torture (listed here and here also here), which he followed up by insuring his release would not produce a witch hunt (as some want) by traveling to CIA’s Headquarters and assuring employees individual prosecution would not be presumed and finally, most importantly turned the entire matter over to our Justice Department and directly to Eric Holder, the Attorney General.

On this past Wednesday (22 Apr 09) an article in the Washington Post, authored by Craig Whitlock, of Washington Post’s Foreign Service Department and entitled: “European Nations May Investigate Bush Officials Over Prisoner Treatment” confirms my beliefs by the following excerpt:

On Tuesday, Obama for the first time raised the possibility of creating a bipartisan commission to examine the Bush administration’s handling of terrorism suspects. He also said he would leave it up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to determine whether to prosecute senior officials who approved waterboarding and other tactics.

This was further confirmed in a statement published by the American Civil Liberties Union, entitled: “Attorney General Holder Says He Will “Follow The Law” And Investigate Torture” where the following excerpt stated:

Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the Justice Department will “follow the law wherever it takes us” in investigating the U.S. officials behind the CIA torture policies under the Bush administration.

Europe, you have every obligation and right to legally pursue whatever action you feel is appropriate, but please let our present administration do what they can to correct these past “wrongs”; in our way of first and let America reestablish itself under the “Rule of Law”.

A.G. Holder: Investigate Torture

The people who authorized Bush’s torture program shouldn’t get off scot-free. It’s time for Attorney General Holder to appoint an independent special prosecutor.

Update 23 Apr 09:

Clinton Questions Cheney’s Credibility: “I Don’t Consider Him A Particularly Reliable Source Of Information”
Huffington Post    |  Nicholas Graham

The sensitive topic of the release of the torture memos came to the forefront when Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacker asked Clinton if she agreed with Dick Cheney’s request that documents ostensibly showing the efficacy of the torture programs should be declassified. Clinton ultimately replied that she believes “we ought to get to the bottom of this entire matter” and that it “is in the best interest of our country” to do so, but not before she took a shot at Cheney’s credibility, saying “I don’t consider him to be a particularly reliable source of information.”

Update 24 Apr 09:

Torture and the Problem of Constitutional Evil: The Way Forward
Howard Schweber: Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

A year ago, in a blog post at, Mark Graber discussed John Yoo’s role as an example of what he has called “the problem of Constitutional Evil.” Graber’s point is that the assumption that anything that is “evil” is therefore contrary to the dominant understanding of the Constitutional is simply wrong. This is not an argument he makes lightly; Graber is the author of Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil, a magisterial work that makes the case in historical context; orthodox, authoritative, widely accepted understandings of the Constitution may nonetheless permit actions that deserve to be described as “evil.”

A Quarter Million Americans Demand Torture Prosecutions
from ACLU Newsroom

WASHINGTON — A broad coalition of advocacy groups today will deliver petitions containing a quarter million signatures to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that he appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s use of torture on terrorism suspects. The petitions were gathered by the American Civil Liberties Union, Political Action, the Center for Constitutional Rights,, and other advocacy groups. The petitions will be delivered during Holder’s testimony before a House Appropriations Subcommittee.

Holder: No Torture Memo “Hide And Seek”

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Thursday he won’t play “hide and seek” with secret memos about harsh interrogations of terror suspects and their effectiveness.

What if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Had Died?
Cenk Uygur | Host of The Young Turks

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. We practiced sleep deprivation on him for 11 straight days. I don’t know how many times we smashed his head against a wall, slapped him in the face, put him in a stress position in a freezing room and/or put him in a coffin sized box in extreme heat. But the right-wing argues that it doesn’t matter because none of this is torture. They are adamant in saying that it is not even open to interpretation.

Update 25 Apr 09:

Judge Rejects CIA Attempt To Withhold Records On Destroyed Interrogation Tapes
from ACLU Newsroom

NEW YORK – A federal judge today rejected the CIA’s attempt to withhold records relating to the agency’s destruction of 92 videotapes that depicted the harsh interrogation of CIA prisoners. The ACLU is seeking disclosure of these records as part of its pending motion to hold the CIA in contempt for destroying the tapes which violated a court order requiring it to produce or identify records responsive to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records relating to the treatment of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.

Update 27 Apr 09:

Torture Debate Follows Holder To Europe

The Obama administration says it won’t look backward in the debate over harsh interrogations. On Attorney General Eric Holder’s first stop in Europe this week, he looked back centuries, visiting a historic torture site.


The Democratic Party is Finally Back


icon_digg7 In a Huffington Post article by Thomas B. Edsall, entitled “Permanent Democratic Majority: New Study Says Yes”, Mr. Edsall points out two areas of growth in the Democratic Party:

  • The increasing numbers of black and Hispanic voters
  • A decisive shift away from the Republican Party by the suburban and well-educated constituencies that once formed the backbone of the GOP

As quoted from the article:

In a March, 2009 51-page paper [PDF] “New Progressive America: Twenty Years of Demographic, Geographic, and Attitudinal Changes Across the Country Herald a New Progressive Majority,” Ruy Teixeira makes a strong case that “progressive arguments are in the ascendancy,” that demographic and geographic “trends should take America down a very different road than has been traveled in the last eight years. A new progressive America is on the rise.”

To further buttress his case, Teixeira has put together “a very cool interactive map that includes 7 levels of exit poll demographics and county-level vote shifts going back to 1988.”

The only slightly negative point in the report was stated: “The only circumstances that could bring back the Republicans is Obama’s failure to stem the recession.”

“Obama does have to succeed, and so far, he’s pretty much on the right track, and the Republicans are definitely not. That suggests to me that he and the Democrats will be able to solidify their majority in 2010 and 2012,” Judis said. “But again, I don’t fully understand what is going on in the world, and events could defy demography.”

Again a quote from the report:

Perhaps the strongest evidence in support of the Teixeira-Judis-Abramowitz thesis is, however, the current inability of the Republican Party to respond to market pressures. Defeat has, ironically, diminished the GOP’s capacity to respond to loss. As the elected leadership gets smaller, the strength of the most dogmatically rigid and least elastic faction has grown. On issues running the gamut from immigration to the economy, this dominant faction has yet to demonstrate “a wonderful corrective” in reaction to losing. Instead, they have retreated further inside an ideological shell that began to show cracks — Bush I in ’92, Dole in ’96, and Bush v. Gore — well over a decade ago.

The full report is available here progressive_america (pdf).

Update 15 Apr 09:

The Floundering Republicans Look for a Turnaround
from Top Stories

Essentially leaderless, lacking a cohesive message and fighting among themselves, Republicans appear to be in disarray, which begs the question — can things only get better from here?

Americans Most Confident in Obama on Economy
Gallup Pools

Americans are not overwhelmingly positive about either the Democratic or the Republican leaders in Congress. Still, the Democrats fare better on a comparative basis. Fifty-one percent of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the Democratic leaders, compared to 38% in the Republican leaders.


The Grand Old Party could be a Grand Old Memory

Continue reading ‘The Grand Old Party could be a Grand Old Memory’

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