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"Summertime In England" - Van Morrison

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The economy, massive trade agreements, immigration, gun control.  In this article they admit that a president gets one year to do serious policy work.  Then everybody spends the following three years on getting themselves reelected.  First the midterms, then the second half of the term, two years spent on the upcoming presidential elections.  At least that is what they imply about how Washington works and what they focus on.  If we're looking for things that are wrong with this country, that has to be one of the things at the top of the list. And the fact that this SOTU speech is going to focus on the middle class is really kind of Orwellian.  I'm betting on some scary talk about cyberterrorism too.  

Legacy, political calendar frame Obama's State of the Union address

Just three months after winning re-election on November 6, the Democratic president has a narrow window to push through policy priorities on the economy, immigration reform, and gun control.
"He basically has a year for major legislative accomplishments because after the first year you get into the mid-term elections, which will partially be a referendum on his presidency," said Michele Swers, an associate professor of American government at Georgetown University.

Obama is also expected to call for comprehensive trade talks with the 27-nation European Union.
Obama's advisers argue that his push for immigration reform is also an economic issue, and momentum for change is stronger there than it is for the president's other policy priorities.

A follow up on the action items from last year's SOTU speech.
Obama’s 2012 State of the Union proposals: what flopped and what succeeded

Every president announces a slew of initiatives in his State of the Union address. Here, in order of delivery, is a summary of the key proposals, pledges or priorities announced by President Obama a year ago — and what happened to them.
Given election-year politics and conflicts with congressional Republicans, Obama’s success rate on legislative proposals in 2012 is relatively poor — at least until the year-end “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

Four Things to Watch For During the State of the Union

4. Who's In the Crowd?

Lawmakers and the president often make a political statement with the guests they choose to invite to the State of the Union, and this year is no different.

Among First Lady Michelle Obama's guests is Alan Aleman, a Las Vegas college student who was granted a temporary reprieve from deportation under President Obama's deferred action program. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is bringing Gabino Sanchez, a South Carolina undocumented immigrant who is fighting deportation.

House Democrats are also organizing an effort to invite victims of gun violence and their families at a time when Congress is considering gun-control measures. Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro will bring along Carlos Soto, the brother of teacher Vicki Soto, a victim of the Newtown shooting, ABC News reported last week.

Also in attendance will be Cleopatra Cowley. She is the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago student who was murdered only days after performing with her high school band during Obama's inaugural parade.

Big "Idle No More" demonstrations in Montreal.  Pictures here on Flickr from Karim Amar (Hat tip to Agathena for this).
Idle No More Protest Retraces History in Montreal Streets
Protest Route Maps Shared Native and Non-Native Landmarks

“The important thing is to make people notice we’re not finished with our actions,” said Idle No More Quebec founder Melissa Molin Dupuis.

The protest marked the 250th anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Paris, which recognized native treaty rights to land when it outlined France’s forfeiting of its North American territories to England.
Since it began last Fall, Idle No More has evolved from a teaching platform of four Saskatchewan women on native rights into a heterogeneous movement encompassing flash mobs, teach-ins, road protests and rail blockades.

This is a must read from Glenn Greenwald.  To me, it feels like that turning point during Bush's second term when everyone suddenly realized that the war in Iraq was a clusterf*k and that we were lied into it.  Cheney was on the outs.  Torture was at the forefront.  Domestic surveillance was revealed.  And in general everybody started waking up from the 9/11 shock and realizing just how much we'd been compromised as a result of it.  
DOJ Kill List Memo Forces Many Dems Out of the Closet as Overtly Unprincipled Hacks
Last week's controversy over Obama's assassination program forced into light many ignored truths that were long obvious

This past week has been a strangely clarifying political moment. It was caused by two related events: the leak of the Justice Department's "white paper" justifying Obama's claimed power to execute Americans without charges, followed by John Brennan's alarming confirmation hearing
Baker also noticed this: "Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama's hands, not Mr. Bush's."
That many Democratic partisans and fervent Obama admirers are vapid, unprincipled hacks willing to justify anything and everything when embraced by Obama - including exactly that which they pretended to oppose under George W Bush - has also been clear for many years. Back in February, 2008, Paul Krugman warned that Obama supporters are "dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality."
And exactly as Goldsmith happily predicted, polls now show that Democrats and even self-identified progressives support policies that they once pretended to loathe now that it is Obama rather than Bush embracing them. On MSNBC, Obama aides and pundit-supporters now do their best Sarah Palin impression by mocking as weaklings and losers those who think the President should be constrained in his militarism and demonizing as anti-American anyone who questions the military (in between debating whether Obama should be elevated onto Mount Rushmore or given his own monument). A whole slew of policies that would have triggered the shrillest of progressive condemnations under Bush - waging war after Congress votes against authorizing it, the unprecedented persecution and even torturing of whistleblowers, literally re-writing FOIA to conceal evidence of torture, codifying indefinite detention on US soil - are justified or, at best, ignored.

So none of this - Obama's assassination program, his general embrace of Bush/Cheney radicalism, the grotesque eagerness of many Democrats to justify whatever he does - is at all new. But for some reasons, the events of last week made all of this so glaring that it could no longer be denied, and it's worth thinking about why that is.

What made last week's revelations so powerful?

This is the NYT article that Glenn referred to.
Obama’s Turn in Bush’s Bind

WASHINGTON — If President Obama tuned in to the past week’s bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.

Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.

The debate is not an exact parallel to those of the Bush era, and Mr. Obama can point to ways he has tried to exorcise what he sees as the excesses of the last administration. But in broad terms, the conversation generated by the confirmation hearing of John O. Brennan, his nominee for C.I.A. director, underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces.
The Brennan hearing highlighted the convoluted politics of terrorism. Conservatives complained that if Mr. Bush had done what Mr. Obama has done, he would have been eviscerated by liberals and the news media. But perhaps more than ever before in Mr. Obama’s tenure, liberals voiced sustained grievance over the president’s choices.

“That memo coming out, I think, was a wake-up call,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union. “These last few days, it was like being back in the Bush days.”

Adam Serwer, last week.
Obama Released Bush's Torture Memos. Why Not Release the Targeted-Killing Memos?

Until Wednesday, the members of Congress charged with overseeing United States intelligence community had never actually seen the legal justification for lethal operations that have been taking place over the course of the last four years. Although members of Congress have occasionally made moves toward forcing the administration to disclose that legal rationale, they have always backed down.

Now civil liberties groups want to know why it's only a few members of Congress, and not the public, who are allowed to see the documents governing how and when Americans can be killed by their own government.

"The United States is not a nation of secret laws, and a memo authorizing the killing of American citizens is too important to keep from the American people," the American Civil Liberties Union's Christopher Anders said in a press release Wednesday evening. "Everyone—not just select members of Congress—has a right to know when the government believes it can kill American citizens."

Digby addresses another part of the Serwer article.
Just don't call it a double standard because that would be totally wrong

Adam Serwer points out that the same logic the Obama administration used in releasing to the public its predecessor's secret memos justifying torture almost certainly applies the the memos justifying the drone assassination program. [...]

Serwer observes:

The Obama administration, which was losing court fights over the torture memos, has so far succeeded in preventing the courts from compelling the release of the targeted-killing memos. But everything else Obama said about the torture memos—that there are exceptional circumstances (in this case, the deaths of American terror suspects), for example, or that the program is essentially public knowledge—also applies to his targeted-killing memos.

The key difference between the torture memos and the targeted-killing memos is that the torture memos were written during the Bush administration, while the targeted-killing memos were written during Obama's.

I'm going to guess that's exactly why the administration is so keen on keeping them secret.
Obama’s Drone Attack on Your Due Process

The biggest problem with the recently disclosed Obama administration white paper defending the drone killing of radical clerk Anwar al-Awlaki isn’t its secrecy or its creative redefinition of the words “imminent threat.” It is the revolutionary and shocking transformation of the meaning of due process.

Fortunately, as seen during John Brennan’s confirmation hearing for Central Intelligence Agency director, Congress is starting to notice.

Crickets, pretty much, in the media on the Hedges v Obama case.  Interesting, that.  Such an obedient media.  Oh, and... squirrel!!  This DemocracyNow clip is from the panel that was held the same night after the court date last week in NYC.  I had hoped to watch this but could not find any video streaming of it.  I hope to find more video from the whole event. A transcript would be great too!
Michael Moore, Chris Hedges on Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention and the "Corporate Coup d'etat" - The ability of the U.S. government to jail people without charge or trial is now back in court. A group of reporters, scholars and activists are suing the Obama administration over the controversial provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, saying it could allow for the indefinite detention of journalists and others who interact with certain groups. On Wednesday, the Justice Department asked an appeals court to reverse a judge's earlier decision blocking indefinite detention, saying the ruling would hamper its ability to fight terrorism. On the same day, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and the case's lead plaintiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, took part in a panel featuring some of those who were in the courtroom opposing the NDAA. We air excerpts of their remarks.

I found video of the panel discussion last week.  Did not find a transcript and suspect there is none, but one can hope.  There is a nice gathering of activists here, with some who are dedicated to different issues than this one, Aaron Swartz activists, some faces from Occupy -- a nice solidarity.  Better be careful... they might think it's a movement!
Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention Panel Discussion

Plaintiffs and supporters in the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit challenging the controversial indefinite detention provision set forth in § 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, NDAA Case Coordinator Tangerine Bolen, lawsuit counsel Bruce Afran & Carl Mayer, David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress, and journalist Alexa O'Brien, moderated by Natasha Lennard of and Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post.discuss the profound erosion of liberties cemented by the 2012 NDAA, a pattern of abuse and intimidation on the part of the Obama DOJ toward publishers, whistleblowers and activists, and the creative efforts of the widely disparate groups that have joined the lawsuit team and its supporters from around the world. Earlier in the day, February 6, 2013, was argument before the 2nd Circuit in which the US appealed the historic ruling by Judge Katherine Forrest in favor of the plaintiffs.

First panel: Alexa O'Brien, Bruce Afran & Carl Mayer, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Tangerine Bolen, David Segal

Second panel: Tangerine Bolen, Michael Moore, Chris Hedges, Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Daniel Ellsberg

Thank goodness for alternative media. Here are some wonderful photos from the demonstration before the hearing Hedges v Obama last week.  One of the pictures "the Magnificent Seven" sign, was mentioned in the panel discussion and I've included a crop of it below.
NDAA Courthouse hearing and protest NYC


At 12 Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.

What: The largest climate rally in U.S. history.

When: February 17, 2013, Noon - 4:00 p.m. (please arrive by 11:30 a.m.)

Where: The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Gather at the northeast corner of the Washington Monument
(Closest Metro subway stations: Federal Triangle and Smithsonian)

For more details about the rally -- including information about coordinating and riding buses to Washington -- please read our FAQ. Also check out the nearly 100 organizations leading and supporting this rally!

"Forward On Climate" Blogathon: February 11 - February 15, 2013
This week, you can find diaries for this DailyKos blogathon at the Climate Change SOS group.
President Obama: Don't cut Social Security

As part of the fiscal showdown negotiations, President Obama has proposed cutting Social Security for almost all current and future beneficiaries.

Social Security should not be a part of the negotiations. It does not contribute even $1 to the deficit, and according to even the most pessimistic projections it is 100% solvent for more than 20 years.

Send an email to the White House telling President Obama to immediately stop proposing any cuts to Social Security.

White House:
Phone:(202) 456-1111
Fax:(202) 456-2461

[This is an email campaign led by DailyKos]

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues

Van Morrison - Spirit.  Live at Montreux 1980

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 05:32 AM PST.

Also republished by Canadian Kossacks.

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