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By Barry Golson
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Tag: Congress

Guantanamo prisoner
AP photo / Lynne Sladky

A Truth Commission Beckons

The partisan firefight over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s incendiary allegation that the CIA lied to Congress about its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”—torture—is a blessing. It turns the compelling case for a public inquiry into the Bush administration’s policies toward terrorism detainees into an urgent necessity.

Posted on May 19, 2009 READ MORE


credit cards
ehow.com

Got Good Credit? Too Bad

Those credit card holders who pride themselves on paying their bills on time, and who have enjoyed rewards in the past for so doing, are in for an unpleasant surprise: They may soon be targeted by the very companies that used to ply them with perks.

Posted on May 19, 2009 READ MORE


Specter
syracuse.com

With Their Magic Bullet, Dems Have No More Excuses

As counsel for the Warren Commission, Arlen Specter described a “magic bullet” that changed America. Four decades later as a U.S. senator, Specter is providing another history-altering magic bullet—one Democrats will either fire off in a starting gun, or use in their suicide.

Posted on May 1, 2009 READ MORE


Disclosure of ‘Secrets’ in the ’70s Didn’t Destroy the Nation

Back in the Watergate era, the Senate’s Church Committee exposed government abuses. Of course some people tried to block its work. You may have heard of a couple of them—Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted on Apr 29, 2009 READ MORE


Sen. Arlen Specter on Switching

The Pennsylvanian is only the 21st active senator in U.S. history to switch parties. Here is what he had to say about his change of loyalties.

Posted on Apr 28, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Sebelius at Last

Just in time for swine flu, the Senate has confirmed Barack Obama’s pick to head the massive Health and Human Services Department, Kathleen Sebelius. Democrats were able to use the health scare to shake the upper chamber out of abortion-obsessed confirmation gridlock.

Posted on Apr 28, 2009 READ MORE


Look to the Law—Not to Whether Torture ‘Works’

The calls for an independent commission to investigate torture usually argue that a congressional investigation, or a Justice Department criminal investigation, would become so politicized as to be hopelessly compromised. I am not sure this is true.

Posted on Apr 28, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Enough With This ‘100 Days’ Nonsense

On what basis have the cable channels decided that President Obama’s first hundred days are the most important thing to happen in the history of the world? As in the case of FDR before him, much has happened in the beginning of the president’s first term—and there is much more to come.

Posted on Apr 28, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Obama Has Missed His Moment

The president had a fleeting moment to challenge the casino capitalism and financial recklessness of our economic and political elite. He could have orchestrated a state socialism that would have provided a safety net for tens of millions of Americans faced with dislocation and misery.

Posted on Apr 27, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / be_khe

U.S. Declares Swine Flu Emergency

The administration is taking the threat of swine flu seriously, as congressional Republicans’ main interest in the health arena seems to be roping the president’s nominee to head Health and Human Services into an abortion fight. The Centers for Disease Control and the Homeland Security Department issued an emergency declaration Sunday, while the World Health Organization and governments around the globe scrambled to confront the potential crisis.

Posted on Apr 26, 2009 READ MORE


Eric Holder
theblacksentinel.wordpress.com

Holder Says He Will Pursue Torture Wrongdoing

What to make of the administration’s policy on holding torturers accountable? Attorney General Eric Holder says he “will not permit the criminalization of policy differences,” but will pursue wrongdoing “to the full extent of the law.” The problem here is that when it comes to torture, policy differences just might be criminal.

Posted on Apr 23, 2009 READ MORE


‘Reform’ With No Reform

The defenders of the health care status quo have been frantically arguing these past few weeks that any coming reform of the health insurance system cannot include a public insurance plan, even if that’s the whole point.

Posted on Apr 23, 2009 READ MORE


Stop Thinking About Yesterday’s Health Care Debate

Because of the defeat of health care reform in 1994, there will be a temptation to treat every dispute as the first step toward the collapse of the process, ignoring the fact that times and minds change.

Posted on Apr 23, 2009 READ MORE


When Fascism Came to America

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis, the first American writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize, wrote a novel entitled “It Can’t Happen Here” to influence the 1936 presidential election. He was off by about 66 years.

Posted on Apr 21, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Committee OKs Sebelius Over Republican Objections

President Obama presided over his first formal Cabinet meeting Monday with a rather important chair left empty. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s pick to head the $750 billion Health and Human Services Department and spearhead his ambitious health care reform initiatives, has finally made it out of hearings and should be approved by the end of the week.

Posted on Apr 21, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Obama: Justice Could Prosecute Torture Lawyers

Responding to reporters Tuesday, the president walked back from his “torture is a thing of the past” policy. While the administration still doesn’t want to hassle the good Germans who carried out torture, or even the superiors who ordered it, Obama said the Justice Department may go after the Bush lawyers who tried to legalize such abuses.

Posted on Apr 21, 2009 READ MORE



Harald Dettenborn

Report: Rep. Harman Mixed Up With AIPAC, Espionage and Alberto Gonzales

Rep. Jane Harman agreed to go to bat for two AIPAC officials accused of espionage, in exchange for which an Israeli spy would try to get her appointed to chair the House Intelligence Committee, according to Congressional Quarterly. The NSA reportedly captured an exchange between Harman and the spy, during which the congresswoman allegedly said, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

Posted on Apr 20, 2009 READ MORE


Who Will Face Down the Gun Lobby?

Ten years after the Columbine massacre, our president stood in Mexico, where assault rifles from the U.S. are used to murder police officers, and said the American gun lobby is just too strong for him push a rational gun regulation through Congress. How sad.

Posted on Apr 19, 2009 READ MORE


Gitmo Stretcher
guardian.co.uk

A Decision Not to Prosecute

After key Bush era CIA torture documents were released by the Obama administration, human rights officials are dismayed at the news that CIA agents who ordered and conducted torture will not be prosecuted.

Posted on Apr 17, 2009 READ MORE


Don’t Underestimate the Tea-Baggers

The cool, cerebral White House might logically conclude that Wednesday’s decidedly uncool, uncerebral “tea bag” protests were intellectually and politically incoherent, and therefore not worth a second thought. That would be a dangerous mistake.

Posted on Apr 17, 2009 READ MORE



There’s No Place Like Home, Unless You’re Chris Dodd

Congressional fundraising numbers are in, and the Political Wire has teased out some interesting performances. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut managed to raise just 0.7 percent of his funds from contributors in his own state—all five of them. Roland Burris, the man appointed by Rod Blagojevich to replace Barack Obama in the Senate, pulled in a whopping $845. He’s $111,032 in debt.

Posted on Apr 16, 2009 READ MORE



abcnews.com

AIG’s War Business Draws Criticism

At least 30,000 private contractors have been injured in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the vast majority are insured by AIG. According to an investigation by ABC News, ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times, the insurance giant does about as good a job helping wounded contractors as gaming the derivatives market.

Posted on Apr 16, 2009 READ MORE


Armey’s Tea Party Army

At the apex of the tea party movement is FreedomWorks, headed by former Rep. Dick Armey. His past career should be instructive to any starry-eyed citizens who believe that they have at last found the true right-wing revolutionary path.

Posted on Apr 16, 2009 READ MORE


Tea and Ignorance

There is little anyone can do about the tax-protest rants except worry they will be believed by a wider public. So, on the theory that the truth will set us free, it is worth examining exactly what we’re all paying, and what for.

Posted on Apr 16, 2009 READ MORE


A Strange Dual Citizenship

Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez file state taxes as what they are—a legally married Massachusetts couple. But under federal law, they have to file federal taxes as what they aren’t—two single women.

Posted on Apr 16, 2009 READ MORE


Obama Tax Speech
Associated Press

Obama Talks Taxes

As “tea parties” tepidly brew in cities across the country to protest government spending and budget deficits, President Obama is on the offensive, maintaining that the tax relief of his administration’s nascent months is helping resurrect our fallen economy.

Posted on Apr 15, 2009 READ MORE



Library of Congress

Castro Hails Obama Actions, Wants More

Barack Obama is so good at making friends. First Iran, of axis-of-evil fame, embraced the president’s flirtations, and now Cuba’s revolutionary in chief has warmed to El Diablo del Norte. Fidel Castro on Tuesday praised Obama’s recent overtures, but said many other U.S. policy changes are needed. His brother and president, Raul, is open to negotiations.

Posted on Apr 14, 2009 READ MORE


Castro’s Racial-Paradise Myth

In 10 trips to Cuba, I have met Afro-Cubans who told me with conviction of their opportunities under the Castro regime. But I’ve also heard bitter complaints about deep-seated racism that many black Cubans believe is getting worse.

Posted on Apr 14, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / stan

You Can’t Teach an Old Predatory Lender New Tricks

Like an abused spouse, America continues to stand by the banks, hoping they’ll change their ways. TARP funds were supposed to trickle down to the average taxpayer, but Congress is now investigating complaints that bailed-out banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup are jacking up interest rates and engaging in predatory lending.

Posted on Apr 13, 2009 READ MORE


Pelosi’s Balancing Act

By comparison with her recent predecessors, she’s a strong speaker of the House. She has far more control than the previous Democratic speaker had, despite having to contend with a more conservative GOP and an ideologically diverse pack of Democrats.

Posted on Apr 8, 2009 READ MORE


F-22
dodimagery.afis.osd.mil

Backlash Over Defense Budget Cuts Begins

Although some in Congress applauded Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement that the Obama administration would be whittling down the defense budget for 2010, suffice it to say that not everyone is thrilled by this development—especially those whose districts will be directly impacted by the cuts.

Posted on Apr 7, 2009 READ MORE


It’s Now a ‘Soft War’ in Afghanistan, but It’s Still a Disaster

President Obama appears to have fallen for the oldest false dichotomy in the Pentagon repertoire, and the easiest one to sell to the American public. It goes like this: The world is divided between the Evil Folks and the Good. The Good Folks, being what they are, are naturally pro-American, once they get to know us.

Posted on Apr 7, 2009 READ MORE


Health Care Reform at Last

Yes, this is the year Congress will finally give every American access to health insurance. For the first time since the passage of Medicare in the 1960s, the forces favoring action on health care reform are stronger than the forces of cynicism and obstruction.

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / cursedthing

House Passes Mega-Budget ’09

Not a single House Republican voted for Barack Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget, but that didn’t stop the Democrats from passing it 233-196. The Senate is on its way to passing its own version, but the real clamor is over whether the final product will end up with reconciliation provisions that would filibuster-proof the president’s health care and energy proposals.

Posted on Apr 2, 2009 READ MORE


smoker
Flickr / NeilsPhotography

Big Tobacco Targeted by Bigger Government

The Food and Drug Administration may soon have control over the tobacco industry, if legislation survives Senate obstacles. The bill passed by a wide margin in the House, where its principal sponsor, Rep. Henry Waxman, said, “It has taken us far too long to get to this point.”

Posted on Apr 2, 2009 READ MORE


Kathleen Sebelius
AP photo / Susan Walsh

Another Nominee in Tax Trouble

This has gone from coincidence to self-parody to alarming. Another of Barack Obama’s nominees has had to apologize for not paying her full taxes. Kathleen Sebelius, the president’s pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department, has now paid off $7,918, a paltry debt compared with Tom Daschle’s $140,000.

Posted on Mar 31, 2009 READ MORE


Where’s the Outrage Over Workers Getting the Shaft?

The AFL-CIO spent $250 million in last year’s elections on behalf of Obama and other Democrats, yet a waffling president and a handful of senators have managed to kill the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, a cruel defeat for labor.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE


Not Limbaugh’s Crowd

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Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE


Frank and reporters
AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite

We’re Paying Congress for This?

Congress’ work has often offered us transparency and has usually led to useful, progressive legislation. And now comes Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank’s choreographed extravaganza in the House of Representatives, supported by an echoing committee, with sound bites worthy of a night in the Borscht Belt.

Posted on Mar 27, 2009 READ MORE


Going Postal

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Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE


The Right’s Twisted Blame Game

Listening to the president’s critics, it would be easy to believe that Obama is responsible for the deficits, bailouts, bonuses, nationalized institutions and careening markets. It would be easy to believe but it’s entirely false.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE


Daring to Utter the T Word

The most significant moment of Obama’s news conference concerned taxes: his defense of proposed limits on the benefits that the well-off get for their charitable contributions and mortgage payments.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Ken Lund

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land, Don’t Blow It

More than 2 million acres in nine states will be set aside as protected wilderness as soon as President Obama signs a bill just passed by Congress. Land in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia will be off-limits to development.

Posted on Mar 25, 2009 READ MORE


Lessons of the Exxon Valdez

Twenty years ago, the Exxon Valdez supertanker spilled at least 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s pristine Prince William Sound. The consequences of the spill were epic and continue to this day, impacting the environment and the economy.

Posted on Mar 24, 2009 READ MORE


Kill AIG Bonuses With a Tax? It’s a Lousy Idea

Obama needs to stop straddling and to threaten to veto any cockamamie tax scheme that emerges from Congress as retribution for the repulsive bonuses handed out at American International Group.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE


A Repairman, Not a Revolutionary

Timothy Geithner has not been a good performer, but he does have a vision. He sees an improved Wall Street, though one not fundamentally different from what we have now.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / M. Spencer Green

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. Our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE


Obama’s Fight Against the Politics of Evasion

Critics who argue that he is asking Congress to do too much are finding it far easier to talk about an overloaded system than to tell those without health insurance that they will have to wait a few more years.

Posted on Mar 22, 2009 READ MORE


If You’re a ‘Little Guy,’ a Contract Means Nothing

If only the contracts entered into by shop-floor workers at auto plants were as inviolate as those secured by the incompetent pirates of the American International Group.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE



Geithner image from Presidencia de la Nación Argentina

Geithner’s Bonus Plan as Perplexing as His Other Proposals

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has sent Congress an explanation of his plan to deal with the AIG bonus fiasco. Essentially, Treasury will dock the $165 million in bonuses from AIG’s next bailout payment. Here’s a question: If AIG can do without that $165 million, why were we giving it to the company in the first place?

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 READ MORE


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