Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the civil rights act, and to commemorate, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library hosted in April a Civil Rights Summit
, featuring dozens of civil rights luminaries as well as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama. [more inside]
This morning, the Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation,
following the release of an independent review
detailing corruption in the reporting of wait times
and scheduling practices
, along with alleged patient deaths
in the Phoenix Health Care system. [more inside]
60 Words And A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History.
"Written in the frenzied, emotional days after 9/11, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force
was intended to give President Bush the ability to retaliate against whoever orchestrated the attacks. But more than 12 years later, this sentence remains the primary legal justification for nearly every covert operation around the world. Here’s how it came to be, and what it’s since come to mean." [Via]
A recent great pull
from White House
photographer Pete Souza shows Bush and Obama seeming to not just tolerate but actually enjoy each other's company. This is nothing new, however. Not only have Presidents always still been just as human as anyone else,
but they occasionally cross the aisle to have close relationships
that can be not only shocking, but endearing - including Barbara Bush referring to Bill Clinton as their "adopted son." Ridiculous
conspiracy theories abound, but a simpler explanation may serve: that even the most partisan of politicans have more in common with each other than they would like us to believe - a common background
, and often, common professions
False memories of fabricated political events [ABSTRACT]
. In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientation appeared to influence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely remember seeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to remember George W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-up study supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruent with a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events promote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions. [FULL TEXT PDF AVAILABLE HERE] [more inside]
"Why Obama Is Giving Up on Right-Leaning Whites
: For decades, Democrats shaped their policies around fears of the culturally conservative white voters to the GOP. But Obama’s winning coalition has altered that calculus."
: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people"
"The Future Of The Republican Party Is By The Pool At The Biltmore
: The talk at the Miami hotel where Jeb Bush works, and Marco Rubio works out, is of the next president. But can the young senator get out from under Jeb’s shadow?"
The New York Times examines
how American taxes have changed since 1980
Good Fighter, Can’t Cheerlead Worth A Damn.
The War Nerd writes an insightful piece on why Obama doesn't get much credit for military successes.
In 2008, the National Journal
released The Hidden History of the American Electorate
, an analysis of exit poll demographics conducted by multiple news organizations from US presidential elections between 1988 and 2004. The study looked for "pressure points in the electorate": trends which were likely to decide the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. They've released an update for 2012, by adding exit poll results from the 1980, 1984, and 2008 presidential elections
. It gives a more comprehensive look at voting trends over a 32 year period of the groups whom they believe are likely to influence the outcome in November. Charts: Voting Preferences of the American Electorate, 1980-2008
U.S. and Israel have been confirmed as the authors behind the Stuxnet virus
. The program — codenamed "Olympic Games" — was started under Bush and accelerated under Obama. The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted. (non-NYTimes link)
Andrew Bacevich on the war
: "So what tentative judgments can we offer regarding the ongoing [war formerly known as the global war on terrorism]? Operationally, a war launched by the conventionally minded has progressively fallen under the purview of those who inhabit what Dick Cheney once called “the dark side,” with implications that few seem willing to explore. Strategically, a war informed at the outset by utopian expectations continues today with no concretely stated expectations whatsoever, the forward momentum of events displacing serious consideration of purpose. Politically, a war that once occupied center stage in national politics has now slipped to the periphery, the American people moving on to other concerns and entertainments, with legal and moral questions raised by the war left dangling in midair."
In a 32 page report to Congress [pdf]
President Obama concludes:
...the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent
with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require
further congressional authorization, because U.S. military
operations are distinct from the kind of “hostilities”
contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision.
Now, the New York Times reports
that this legal opinion was reached by rejecting the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department. It is instructive to compare President Obama's actions
with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. [more inside]
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas,
spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously)
: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,"
and that the Jews "can go home"
to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else,"
sparked media outrage,
prompted her to issue an apology and retire
. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine
. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cartoonist Tim Kreider
) of The Pain
talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1
George Bush cancels a trip
to Switzerland citing “threat of demonstrations” . However
two victims of torture in U.S. detention have prepared a criminal complaint against Bush backed by a coalition of international human rights groups, two former United Nations rapporteurs, and two Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
His legacy continues
with the death in Guantanamo of Abdul Gul held without trial for 9 years.
The official cause of Mr Gul's death is "Heart attack during exercise"
The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison
without trial nearly 50 detainees at Guantanamo.
Newsweek has "four knowledgable sources"
who claim attorney general Eric Holder is considering appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Bush administration interrogation practices. (h/t Glenn Greenwald
Bill Maher's criticism of Obama? Be more like Bush. ...And just like Lindsey [Lohan], we see your name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're actually going to do something. Follow up
of his statements with Keith Olbermann. ...But where's the beef? And it's easy to make speeches; what's hard to do is stand up against corporations. Corporations and their incredible strength are what have ruined this country so far, and this president -- we thought -- might be the one to stand up to them. I'm losing hope. I still have audacity, but my hope is fading.
wants you to organize a protest on April 11th
to express your frustration and disapproval with how our elected officials have handled the economic crisis.
Endangered Species Act
by President Obama. Previous regulation
made it easier to start projects without consulting scientists.
The Obama Justice Department has released
nine legal memos
from the Bush administration that assert broad extra-Constitutional powers for the president. The memos assert that both the First and Fourth Amendments may be subordinated to the needs of wartime. [more inside]
In 2007, Dubya wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal
. Obama has followed suit with an op-ed article in the Washington Post. Both sites mention that
"is the president
of the United States." Have we entered a new era of the bully pulpit
"George Bush was not a conservative, but rather a curious hybrid of reactionary and progressive."
"The Obama presidency is not a revolution, but instead a restoration. The "values upon which our success depends", Obama reassures America, "these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout history". He asks for a "return to these truths". Nothing new is needed, neither fresh ideas about the human condition's betterment nor utopias; merely a return to and vindication of the past."
Wired: Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case. "The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants."
Bringing Justice to the War on Terrorism.
3 views on how the incoming administration should deal with the legal legacy of Bush Administration policies like torture, surveillance, and extraordinary rendition. Charles Fried
makes the case against criminal prosecutions, Dahlia Lithwick
makes the case for investigations followed by prosecutions, and Jack Balkin
argues for truth commissions. [Via]
NYT: "The White House has turned down a request from the family of President-elect Barack Obama to move into Blair House in early January so that his daughters can start school on Jan. 5.
" [more inside]
America has come a long way
. There is the official version
of history or the peoples' version
. There are artifacts
. They had some quirks
and were occasionally men of their time
. If you prefer audio
references those are available as well. Common knowledge
has it that one GW was our first President but the title of first is under dispute
. 230 years later another GW is making a run for worst
. That is also under dispute
by the nations best brains
. For better and worse, the story of the Presidency is the story of America
U.S. Presidents have had an uneven relationship
with technology. The Clinton Presidential Library
has more than 40 million White House emails on record (but only two
are from the man himself). The Bush Administration, on the other hand, junked the Clinton archival process and replaced it with a comically inept alternative
that has lost more than five million messages, many concerning official government business
. (President Bush, for his part, gave up his longtime address -- G94b@aol.com
-- just before his inauguration). Even the Reagan White House had its share of problems
with the digital age. Now, as tech-savvy
Barack Obama prepares to implement his technology plans
, does he have a shot at dragging the Oval Office into the 21st century
? Or will he have to surrender his laptop
, his email account, and his beloved Blackberry?
John Cleese talks Election 08 with Seesmic
) and discusses his views on American Politics, and americans in general. (via
The Art of Politics.
The 2008 election, regardless of the winner, has created opportunities for so many new stakeholders to take part in our national dialogue and
be seen. With only weeks left, let us pause to gaze upon the mainstream embrace of political street art
. At least we have Bush to thank
The family trees of American politicians
- There are those with very long blue blood pedigrees
, and there are those with very short and unknown pedigrees
. There are also some surprises, like a certain Democratic senator
and possible '08 Veep pick being somewhat closely related to the current Veep
, or that certain ex-mayors
have family trees that were apparently a bit inbred back in the old country. Other fun tidbits: Newt Gingrich
's father was illegitimate, John Kerry
is related to the rabbi who created the Golem of Prague, Pat Buchanan
is related to both FDR and Marilyn Manson, Wesley Clark's father was a Kohan
, Martin Luther King
was born Michael Louis King, and Gary Hart
was born Gary Hartpence, which was in turn derived from an ancestor named James Eberhart Pence. (more non-politicians here