Author Archives: John Bachir

Paul Krugman tells it like it is.

Oh snap!

Krugman pulls no punches in his last column, Freezing Out Hope. Some choice excerpts:

After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?

On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.

So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.

…America’s long-run deficit problem has nothing at all to do with overpaid federal workers…employee pay is only a small fraction of federal expenses; even cutting the payroll in half would reduce total spending less than 3 percent.

So freezing federal pay is cynical deficit-reduction theater.

Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake. Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction

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Obama: a little bit greener than other presidents (other than Jimmy Carter and Teddy Roosevelt)

Obama is pushing forward science-based environment policy that sort of keeps us up to speed with other industrialized nations and that a republican president probably would not have done. Yay. I guess.

Climate regulations coming for trucks, buses

The Obama administration will propose the first-ever greenhouse gas emission limits for heavy trucks and buses next week.

The proposal will call for a 20 percent reduction in heat-trapping emissions from trucks’ tailpipes, according to Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign.

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What the f*#k has Obama sone so far?

You have probably all seen this website. If not, go take it for a spin.

Two comments:

  1. It’s overly abstract and vague on all its points. They all sound nice, but are they getting implemented? Did their passing require horrible compromise pork attached to the same bill? Simple example: Gitmo. The site basically claims that he closed it. Well, he didn’t.
  2. It’s a nice reminder that in spite of the administration failing to be the progressive administration we had dreamed of, and often also failing to be even competent at driving a marginally populist agenda, it is still way, way better than what a republican administration would have been.

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An amazing tweet on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

I haven’t been following the DADT issue super closely, but was surprised and pleased by this pointed tweet:

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A couple autumn Obama Letdowns

Read ’em and weep.

1. Government Seeks Back Door Into All Our CommunicationsAdministration Seeks Easy Access To Americans’ Private Online Communications

The Obama administration is seeking to expand the government’s ability to conduct invasive surveillance online, according to a report in The New York Times today. According to the report, the administration is expected to submit legislation to Congress early next year that would mandate that all online communications services use technologies that would make it easier for the government to collect private communications and decode encrypted messages that Americans send over texting platforms, BlackBerries, social networking sites and other “peer to peer” communications software.

2. Robert Gibbs, hypocritical transparency crusader

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Obama argues that his assassination program is a state secret

The tireless Glenn Greenwald:

I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration last late night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That’s not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate its legality.

I genuinely didn’t think it was possible for any President to concoct an assertion of executive power and secrecy that would be excessive and alarming to David Rivkin, but Barack Obama managed to do that, too. Obama’s now asserting a power so radical — the right to kill American citizens and do so in total secrecy, beyond even the reach of the courts — that it’s “too harsh even for” one of the most far-right War on Terror cheerleading-lawyers in the nation. But that power is certainly not “too harsh” for the kind-hearted Constitutional scholar we elected as President, nor for his hordes of all-justifying supporters soon to place themselves to the right of David Rivkin as they explain why this is all perfectly justified. One other thing, as always: vote Democrat, because the Republicans are scary!

Read the whole post here

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Obama Happinesses

I today coin ‘happiness’ the noun as the opposite of ‘letdown’. See other recent happinesses here.

FCC to Call for Government Data Overhaul

FCC official details broadband plan recommendations to drive civic engagement, including free online access to government documents such as court records, and a concerted push toward social media.

WRONG QUESTION, RIGHT ANSWER

STEPHANOPOULOS:I want to get to some of those broader issues [of nuclear proliferation]. Because you’re also facing criticism on that. Sarah Palin, taking aim at your decision to restrict the use of nuclear weapons. Your pledge not to strike nations, non-nuclear nations, who abide by the nonproliferation treaty. Here’s what she said. She said, “It’s unbelievable, no other administration would do it.” And then she likened it to kids on the playground. She said you’re like a kid who says, “Punch me in the face, and I’m not going to retaliate.” Your response?

OBAMA: I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the string of criticism has been out there among other Republicans as well. They think you’re restricting use of nuclear weapons too much.

OBAMA: And what I would say to them is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I’m probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But not concerned about her criticisms?

OBAMA: No.

Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report

Board members say the decision to drop the text was driven by a desire for scientific accuracy. The survey questions that NSF has used for 25 years to measure knowledge of evolution and the big bang were “flawed indicators of scientific knowledge because responses conflated knowledge and beliefs,” says Louis Lanzerotti, an astrophysicist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who chairs NSB’s Science and Engineering Indicators Committee.

The explanation doesn’t appear to have soothed White House officials, who say that the edit—made after the White House had reviewed a draft—left them surprised and dismayed. “The Administration counts on the National Science Board to provide the fairest and most complete reporting of the facts they track,” says Rick Weiss, a spokesperson and analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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