Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama the Macho Man

Obama the Macho Man
by Mike Ghouse

When Bush took over the presidency, he was blinded by the idea of ridding Saddam Hussein at any cost. Now Obama is following the same strategy in Afghanistan-Pakistan; ridding of Talibans.

The Obama I know and cherish is a fresh thinker, his approach is refreshing, and he is endowed with a re-fresh button. Unfortunately, he has shown this dumber-than-dumb streak now to show off his macho manhood; killing and destruction.

Obama is still my hero, and those of us who admire him have an obligation to point out his mis-steps which could cost us dearly in economic and moral terms. If his policy in Afghanistan were to work, he will have the blood of millions of innocent people on him, and I hope he would not justify these massacres as collateral damage as the ruthless man before. He can be a macho man by bringing peace through goodwill.

Our silence will become approval to Obama on Afghanistan. It is our responsibility to speak up and make sure our republic is a full functioning democracy with checks and balances in place. We owe it to our country to break the Democratic monopoly and give the Republicans a majority in the Senate to prevent Obama from temptations of doing whimsical nonsense as his predecessor did. The amount of money Bush blew in Iraq is hurting our economy, his decisions killed nearly 5000 of our men and women and close to a million Iraqi's and caused civil war between their own people. It was dumb.

We were plainly destructive. We could have used a tenth of that money and supplied food and medicine to dying children, built schools, taught democracy, and worked on goodwill. Have we forgotten diplomacy? Within one generation we could have turned around Iraq into a working democracy without any bloodshed. The previous man in the White House did not get that. And now Obama is employing his dumb streak to work in Afghanistan. It will not work.

The arrogance of our military might will make us lose. We have a history of failures in every place we have employed our macho power except Russia and World War II. We should be arrogant of our goodness and goodwill which will make others want to honor, respect and listen to us.

Obama has been right on a lot of issues except Afghanistan, of course it suits Hillary.

Obama should call in the peace makers and hold conferences and find out the ideas that will work and earn respect in the community of nations and strengthen our economy. America is enriched with brilliant businessmen and peacemakers, who know how to make Afghanistan a thriving economy and a progressive society, bringing security and sustainable peace to that part of the world. Just dump the old idea of enslaving other nations with guns. Be macho enough to win them on equal terms. Mr. President, please wake up and be the good human that you are.


Mike Ghouse is a Dallas based writer, blogger, speaker and a thinker. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks offering a pluralistic perspective on issues of the day. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saudi Arabia; A change is in the making

Saudi Arabia; a change is in the making

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was perhaps the first head of a government, who was secure enough to initiate the Madinah pact, one of the first Pluralist documents in the history of mankind that respected and accepted God's intentional diversity to remain intact.I sincerely hope, that the Saudi King will pave the way to make the land of the prophet to once again become a beacon of pluralism, that Islam was and I pray that God help the King achieve it. Amen.

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Saudi-Arabia-change-is-in-the-making.asp

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks discussing these and the civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at GhouseMike@gmail.com

Pluralistic Societies, Saudi Arabia, World Muslim Congress, foundation for pluralism, Pluralist, Mike Ghouse Pluralist

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Does Qur'aan incite Violence - II

Does Qur'aan incite Violence -II

Qur’aan does not incite violence; those who are violence prone believe that it is, as their mind set is based on fear and violence. It is the propaganda of Neocons; those who are insecure about their extremist values, worry about similar people in other groups. Neocons are extremist literalists like the Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus. They are all mirror images of each other.

Religion, yes, and every religion allays fears of the unknown, mitigates the apprehensions, gives hopes and brings a balance to an individual and what surrounds him; people and the environment.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, Islam, Multiculturism and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks discussing these and the civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Does-Qur'aan-incite-Violence-II.asp

Is Qur'aan perfect?

Is Qur'aan Perfect?

It is the true and final word of God for the Muslims who believe in it, it is not for the Christians, Hindus, Jews or others who are not familiar with it. However, if one sincerely understands the Qur'aan, he or she will find the essence of Justice, fairness; truth and peace resonate in Qur'aan as they may find it in their own scriptures.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, Islam, Multiculturism and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks discussing these and the civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Is-Quraan-Perfect.asp

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Evolutionary Creation - 2009 Evolution Week

Evolutionary Creation - 2009 Evolution Week

Several Abrahimic Religious leaders 'assume' that evolution is in conflict with creationism. It frightens them about the unknown; which is human. They have an unquestionable need to believe that what they know is the final word of God; a different point of view is anathema to them. The non-Abrahimic faith followers need not gloat; a new idea is usually an abomination to someone or the other including some of them. Whether you are a believer in a God, or several or no God, you would still find a new idea bring insecurity, like some one has pulled the rug from under you and you are out of your comfort zone.

Continued: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Articles/Evolutionary-Creation.asp

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Neocon Campaign to Crush Obama

Neocon Campaign to Crush Obama

The following piece caught my attention, and I bet it would any ones. It is hard to believe this and the possible silence of the press. I have asked the sender to share the link.

The following two sentences made me pause and review the idea contained in it;

"In its references to Africa, then, the “Zionist”/Christianist WASP/rightist-Republican campaign to destroy Obama voiced a hatred of Muslims and Arabs very like the old anti-Semitism of Europe."

"The liberal majority of American Jews, and of Anglos, were appalled to see the U.S. Zionists and Jewish micronationalists, with the Christianist white right, recycle the same hate-stereotypes that had harmed Jewries in Europe."

First, it is an every day affair, a few of my Jewish friends claim that all Jews are Zionists; it is about craving for the homeland. In fact, Mark Briskman, who heads the ADL (Anti-defamation league), insisted that all Jews are Zionists. Then on the face book Noah Gross from Israel made the same point and added that, there are extremists amongst Zionist and they are the one with exclusive ideology. I take their word on the face value.

But when I consistently hear Zionists to be an exclusivist mindset that believes in apartheid, believes in ridding of the inhabitants of the land as they falsify God to be a discriminatory idiot who gave them that piece of land and that they have the right to kill the Palestinians, it makes me shudder.

Here are a few historical statements, as I was given to read, if they are not true, I will make the correction, as truth should be most important aspect of any statement ascribable to history.

Herzl (12 June 1895, diary entry: "When we occupy the land, we shall bring immediate benefits to the state that receives us. We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. Let the owners of immovable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us something far more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back."

In a letter to his son Amos contemplating the transfer recommendation of the Peel Commission, Ben-Gurion wrote, “We must expel Arabs and take their places . . . and if we have to use force – not to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev and Transjordan, but to guarantee our own right to settle in those places – then we have force at our disposal.” (see Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 25)"

The Plan Dalet, 10 March, 1948 " These operations can be carried out in the following manner: either by destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially of those population centers which are difficult to control continuously; or by mounting combing and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled beyond the borders of the state."

I see the pattern of Neocons, a broad label for exclusive ideology, originally applied to Christian extremists, and now, I would like to use the term to include all extremists ideologies be it Christian, Jewish (since the word Zionist is still contested by many Jews), Muslims (Islamists)and Hindutva. They either dupe the public at large that God has come in their dreams and asked them to annihilate other people and or they are simply insecure control freaks who believe that they have superior unquestionable rights to dictate others. One thing common to all these gangs; they do not believe in dialogue to resolve issues and that re-confirms their insecurity and belief that they will lose it. Usually Neocons don't make much sense.

Coming back to the word Zionist, I had a conversation with a former member of one of the Jewish organizations and he surprised me with a statement "I am not a Zionist and I believe in social Justice", something similar is mentioned in the paragraph above to distinguish between Jews and Zionists as two different ideologies “….The liberal majority of American Jews, and of Anglos, were appalled to see the U.S. Zionists and Jewish micronationalists….”

Then when you hear the Jewish intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Rabbi Michael Lerner and a host of prominent Jews who distinguish between Zionists and Jews, you wonder what exactly Zionism means? By the way, some of those intellectual are simply called by the "Neocon Jews" as a Jew hater, or they are really not Jews and their test is support of Israel, right or wrong.

If Zionism is not an exclusionary ideology, if it does not subscribe to the idea that only Jews have a right to the land and other's have to be expelled from their own roots, as the settlers are claiming and the government of Israel is silently letting them. Then they need to declare that they are not for exclusion or annihilation of Palestinians, just as Hamas needs to declare that it is not for the annihilation of Israel.

Mike Ghouse
Africa and the Failed Campaign to Crush Obama

by Dr Dennis Walker

I first became seriously interested in the Islamic aspect of Africa and the use made of it by Black American, Jewish-American, and Anglo-Christianist nationalists in the USA’s internal politics, and vis-à-vis the American state’s aid to Israel, during the nine years that I spent writing my book _ISLAM AND THE SEARCH FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN NATIONHOOD: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam_ (Atlanta City: Clarity Press 2005). In this 600-page book I traced recognition of Arabic and Islam as positive forces in African history by such early African-American nationalist historians and W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) and Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950). DuBois was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and poured forth specialized monographs as well as more popularizing books that attempted to survey the whole extent of the “Negro” experience in Africa as well as the New World. DuBois was an architect of four international Pan-African congresses held between 1919 and 1927: he died in exile in Ghana in 1963. He fostered the rebirth of Islam among African-Americans through his popularization of Arabic and the Arabic-speaking world as among the forces that had formed sub-Saharan Africa and its thought. Carter Woodson gained his PhD from Harvard University in 1912. In 1916, Woodson edited the first number of _The Journal of Negro History_, which under his direction for the next 30 years established the serious study of African-Americans and their past, long dismissed by Euro-American academics, in the institutions of U.S. higher learning. Woodson and DuBois together recycled Arabic writings by pre-colonial Africans and gave some African-Americans a qualified identification with the wide Arabo-Islamic world.

More African-American intellectuals have seen Arabs, Arabic, Islam, animist African cultures and Christianity as overlapping and running together in Africa below the Sahara: all are among the (distant) roots of the national identity that African-Americans have reconstructed since World War II. I believe that this inclusive way --- which is close to the truth of the matter --- is how Barack Hussein Obama, whose father was Kenyan, sees Africa.

Kenya’s population is only 10-20% Muslim. By the December 2007 elections, the regime of Mwai Kibaki --- which did have a Kikuyu “tribal” core that years in office had corrupted --- had passed its use-by date, and most members of most classes of Kenyans wanted to replace it through electoral politics. The mainly Christian Orange Democratic Movement, led by Raila Odinga, won a national election despite all the resources the governing forces had to rig and falsify the voting. The government or forces around it had in the leadup to the election printed and transmitted what purported to be a memorandum of understanding between Raila Odinga and the Kenyan National Muslim Leaders’ Forum. The forgery was an attempt to reduce the vote for Odinga among the minority of evangelical Christians in Kenya. The fake document said that Odinga undertook to turn Kenya into a Shari‘ah state that would ban alcohol and impose Islam’s “modesty” dress codes and hudud punishments. The United Nations pressured Kibaki and Odinga into forming a coalition government of national unity.

In the leadup to, and following, the Kenyan elections U.S. white-Christian fundamentalist and Jewish-nationalist bloggers and web-sites across the USA charged Barack Obama with orchestrating that invented campaign by his cousin Raila Odinga to impose Islamic rule on Kenya. Obama was “lending the prestige of his office to America’s enemies in the global war on terror” in his strategy to annex Kenya to Somalia and the Sudan to form a new Islamofascist super-state. [Joel Whitney, “Obama and the Kenya Deception”, Guernica 9 June 2008]. Advised by Obama, Odinga from opposition was the one who had falsified the elections: he had put his Luo Islamofascists into the streets of Nairobi to “‘protest’ by murdering, raping and maiming Kikuyu people, including the burning alive of a church full of Christians”. The “mainly Muslim” Luo tribe [who are really mostly Christian] were trying to take over Kenya from the Kikuyu and bring it under Shari‘ah law, then kick out Western investment from the country and replace it with Arab oil money [“Barack Obama, Kenya, his Cousin Odinga and Islamic Jihad”, _Cao’s Blog_ 27 January 2008].

In its references to Africa, then, the “Zionist”/Christianist WASP/rightist-Republican campaign to destroy Obama voiced a hatred of Muslims and Arabs very like the old anti-Semitism of Europe. The images of masked-Muslim conspiratorial Obama, even well before he moved into the Presidency, as wielding a Satanic power able to transform countries around the globe into Muslim states overnight, to put it mildly overrated the influence any U.S. president could ever muster in other countries. Very like 20th-century print-hate against Jews is the linking of the malevolent globe-circling [here Arabo-Muslim] enemy to high finance, in this case petro-dollars, and definition of its aim as economic conquest that leaves nothing for anyone else: religion and money together motivate the globe’s Muslims in one thrust to effortlessly expel the money and investments of Westerners from states, Kenya an instance, and then reduce each state into an economic extension or monopoly of Sa’udi Arabia. Portraying an enemy by fusing themes of (a) a malevolent world religion, (b) lack of loyalty of Jewish or Muslim minorities to the state of residence and the majority nationality there, (c) Semitic international high finance and investment fused together by one will to harm and grab, with (d) a Semitic or Semitized minority’s seizing of government from the majority through bought Christian puppets --- all these themes recycle the way that anti-Semites in Europe and America long branded Jews as a fearsome enemy that had to be stopped.

The liberal majority of American Jews, and of Anglos, were appalled to see the U.S. Zionists and Jewish micronationalists, with the Christianist white right, recycle the same hate-stereotypes that had harmed Jewries in Europe. Accordingly, Jews and other Euro-Americans in the media withheld documents on Obama’s Third World connections on which the campaign to crush Obama could feed. They made it impossible for Obama’s white political foes to make open use of Obama’s connections to Arabs and Muslims in respectable mainstream electoral politics --- save through smear and innuendo. John McCain could utilize such veiled smears only rarely, although we have to give it to him that he did so with a superb skill: his answer on television that Obama could not be a crypto-Muslim because he knew him to be a devoted family man tapped [here Islamophobic] anti-Semitism’s hatred of the non-Christian other as a lustful as well as concealed and conspiratorial enemy.

America passed a crucial test when it elected Barack Hussein Obama to be President of the United States. It showed that it is possible for a non-Nordic American who is probably a non-Christian, and maintains some (greatly exaggerated) links to parts of the Third World with which the U.S. has had strained relations, to soar to the top. The American people has it in them to give minority ethnics that, just as it ignored Zionist and Zionoid micronationalist uproar during the 1983-1984 presidential primaries against Jesse Jackson because he had accepted a small campaign donation from Libya’s Gaddafi. The election of Obama has cleared the way for America to one day have a Jewish president, which Jewish liberal-integrationists had grasped in full when they sidelined, marginalizied and inaudibilized the Jewish nationalists who tried to bring Obama down. And one day an Arab-American and a real Muslim will become Presidents in their turn in the United States of America.

[For pro-Arabic definitions of Africa by U.S. black intellectuals, and for conflicts between U.S. Jewish Zionoid micronationalists and black micronationalists see Dennis Walker, _ISLAM AND THE SEARCH FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN NATIONHOOD: Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam_ (Atlanta City: Clarity Press 2005) pp. 171-207, 286-397].

Friday, February 6, 2009

Obama's initiatives & Hurdles

This week about Obama:

1. Obama's Muslim toss
2. Obama: Wall Street 'Arrogance and Greed' Won't Be Tolerated
3. Obama finds that partisanship still lives in Washington
4. Guantanamo judge defies Obama

Mike Ghouse

Obama's Muslim toss

Wayne Brown
Sunday, February 1st 2009

As the reader may have noticed, what usually passes for the real world has wasted no time in brusquely overrunning the celebratory mood of Barack Obama's inauguration.

An hour before the new president was scheduled to meet with them last week, Senate Republicans put their heads together and vowed to oppose his all-important stimulus package, no matter what: a piece of bad faith that, at a stroke, disclosed as futile Obama's painstaking wooing of Republicans in the earnest hope of issuing in an era of bipartisanship.

Obama had early signed an executive order halting military trials at Guantanamo. But on Thursday a military judge defied the order, refusing to stop the trial of the alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer, the USS Cole.

(A Pentagon spokesman assured reporters that, notwithstanding the judge's defiance, there would be 'no ifs, ands or buts' about obeying the president's executive order and "no proceedings continuing down at Gitmo with military commissions.") And on Friday, Reuters reported (under the headline, "North Korea, trying to jolt Obama, warns South") that North Korea had announced it was scrapping all accords with South Korea, a move which seemed sure to ratchet up tension and the chances of a military clash on the North-South border.

Such setbacks almost obscured Obama's biggest toss of his brief tenure: granting his first post-inauguration television interview to an Arab station, al Arabiya, and the tone and substance of that interview.

In it, Obama promised "a new partnership" with the Muslim world; talked about the need for mutual respect; and avowed America's willingness "to listen". Careful to reiterate US support for its ally Israel, he nonetheless implicitly distinguished between Israeli hawks and doves and appealed to the latter, claiming that "there are Israelis who recognise that it is important to achieve peace [and who] will be willing to make sacrifices if there is serious partnership on the other side."

Then Obama again quietly drew attention to the suffering of the Palestinians, an almost heretical perspective to America's pro-Zionist hardliners. "The bottom line in all these talks and all these conversations is," he told al Arabiya, "is a child in the Palestinian Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves?"

When the interviewer mentioned the peremptory attacks on Obama by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, Obama interrupted him saying, "Yes, I noticed this. They seem nervous" (an observation this column has repeatedly made).

Al Qaeda's "nervousness", Obama suggested, was due to its ideas being "bankrupt" (a welcome finessing of the Bush Administration's "They hate us for our freedoms"); to their understanding that if and when he closed Guantanamo and withdrew from Iraq, Al Qaeda would lose its main recruiting tools; and to the simple fact that "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But America was not born as a colonial power, and the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that."
Obama has long avoided the phrase, "the war on terror". Now he emphasised that "the language we use matters," and promised to "be very clear in distinguishing between organisations like Al Qaeda and people who may disagree with my administration or have a particular viewpoint in terms of how their countries should develop. We can have legitimate disagreements but still be respectful."

Lastly (and this, surely, was noted in Tel Aviv), Obama ducked a question as to whether the US would "ever live with a nuclear Iran," saying only that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons had not been "helpful". And he repeated the rhetorical construct from his inaugural address, that "if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us."

Obama's al Arabiya interview was clearly the start of a campaign to win the hearts and minds of Muslims the world over, already galvanised by the thought of a Hussein in the White House; and if Al Qaeda was nervous before, they had a right to be even more nervous now.

So too did Al Qaeda's mirror image, the US neocons with their fantasies of global domination, and their voices in the US media; and indeed the latter wasted no time in jumping all over Obama's performance. (Charles Krauthammer, "An Unnecessary Apology": "America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them [in Iraq]." Obama had indulged in "gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead."And so on.)

The acid test of Obama's foreign policy may well come, not in Palestine, after all, but in the Afghanistan/Pakistan mountains. It's hard to see how Obama will stop the Taliban there, given the badly depleted military and economic resources of the Bush-weakened America he now leads.

But among the great law-abiding masses of Muslims everywhere, last week's al Arabiya interview was likely to be a powerful pitch.



Obama: Wall Street 'Arrogance and Greed' Won't Be Tolerated

Says Administration Will Crack Down on Banks' Executive Bonuses
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2009—

President Obama, usually cool, was visibly angry in his weekly address, chastising corporate bankers for the second time this week for accepting taxpayer bailout money and then doling out $18 billion in executive bonuses.

"The American people will not excuse or tolerate such arrogance and greed," Obama said in the video and radio message released today. "Even as they petitioned for taxpayer assistance, Wall Street firms shamefully paid out nearly $20 billion in bonuses for 2008."

Administration officials challenged a report in The Washington Post that suggested Obama was unlikely to tighten restrictions on compensation for banks that accept bailout funds, saying the report was "simply untrue."

White House and Treasury officials said the president will soon crack down on those big bonuses, shareholder enrichment and overall accountability.

Banking executives have long argued that they need to pay bonuses to retain quality executives.

This week, ABC News asked all 26 banks that have received $1 billion or more in bailout funds if they gave executive bonuses for 2008. Of the 22 that responded, 19 said they've either paid bonuses, or might still.

Synovus and one other bank, which did not want to be identified because it had not informed associates, said they would not be paying bonuses for last year.

Yet government strings come at a cost. Several healthy banks have recently declined money from the bailout fund aimed at persuading them to loosen credit and foster lending to boost the economy.

Rick Adams, executive vice president of United Bankshares Inc. of Charleston, W.Va., told ABC News the bank has declined $197 million in government funds in order to keep the government out of the boardroom, citing the government's ability to change the rules unilaterally and limit dividends, which have increased at the bank for 35 consecutive years.

"That was one of the factors," Adams said. "We're in a position to weather the tough times ... but the terms of the conditions was also a factor."

Nevertheless, the laments of bankers have been pilloried on Capitol Hill.

"We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Friday on the Senate floor.

Wall Street greed has been panned on late night television, as when Jay Leno recently lampooned former Merrill Lynch and Bank of America executive John Thain, who spent $1.2 million redecorating his office.

"Then he gave billions of dollars to former Merrill Lynch employees," Leno said, deadpan. "They're calling this the biggest Wall Street scandal since Friday."

Banking excess has been lamented in the labor movement.

"Giving themselves $20 billion for the worst year we've had sine 1929 flies in the face of anything that make sense," Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO labor union, told ABC News.

Trumka says excessive executive compensation contributed to the risk-taking that caused the collapse of the financial industry. With executive bonuses tied to revenue, he said, executives were encouraged to take bigger risks in particular on housing loans for risky borrowers who later defaulted.

"All of that contributed to the collapse," Trumka said. "We need to rein that in. We need to reregulate them and we need to arm investors with the tools to be able to control companies and manage this risk so investors don't get hurt in the long term."



Obama finds that partisanship still lives in Washington

As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged to change politics, to make it more civil, to reach out to Republicans and to find bipartisan answers to the nation's pressing problems.
Well, score a big one for civility. President Obama has met repeatedly with Republicans, inviting several for cocktails at the White House last week even after they voted against his proposed $819 billion plan to boost the economy. He's asked more over on Sunday to watch the Super Bowl.

He's batting zero so far in the quest for bipartisanship, however. After watching congressional Democrats move the stimulus proposal more toward spending and away from the tax cuts that Republican prefer, he failed to muster a single Republican vote for the package in the House of Representatives.

Does it matter?

Not when it comes to passing legislation. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, Obama has enough popularity, a nationwide hunger for action to address a crisis and big enough majorities in Congress to get pretty much what he wants with nominal bargaining in the Senate to reach the necessary 60 votes.

Lots of Democrats and their liberal supporters seem to want that. To the victors go the spoils, they say. "House Republicans? Screw them," said liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos.

Obama, however, wants broader support to help convince the country that the recovery plan will work, which is key to rebuilding shattered confidence and getting Americans to start spending again.

"A lot of it has to do with politics down the road," said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. "From the president's point of view, if it doesn't work, it would help if he could say there were more than Democratic fingerprints on it. It would provide him some political cover."

Some GOP support also would make it harder for the Republicans to hammer Democrats in the 2010 midterm congressional elections. Most important, Obama needs it to change the tone of politics as he promised to do.

"Old habits die hard in this town. We get that," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "But the president understands that changing the way Washington works isn't likely to happen in just 10 days."

No it isn't, and certainly not in these first 10 days.

Pressed in one meeting to add more tax cuts to the stimulus package, Obama joked that he didn't have to make concessions on that big part of the agenda. "I won," he told Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. "So I think on that one, I trump you."

Gibbs said later that it was a joke. "Everybody laughed," he said. "This wasn't cowboy diplomacy."

The fact, however, is that Obama's made only one symbolic bipartisan gesture, urging his fellow Democrats to drop a proposal to spend less than half a billion dollars on family planning.

After first urging $3 in spending for every $2 in tax cuts, the ratio changed, and neither the president nor the House Democrats budged on the plan's allocation of $2 in new spending to every $1 in tax cuts.

"Yes, elections have consequences, but where's the bipartisanship, Mr. Obama?" asked conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh last week as he led a high-profile campaign against the proposal - a profile raised all the more by Obama's persistent criticism of it.

Limbaugh pressed for a realignment of the stimulus proposal to match the 2008 election results, with 54 percent going to spending and 46 percent going to tax cuts. (He didn't propose such a bipartisan approach after the last change of power, when Republican George W. Bush got fewer votes than Democrat Al Gore did.)

Obama still could push for concessions in the Senate. His aides are confident that he'll win some Republican votes there, and then in the House when the measure returns there.

A student of history, Obama's keenly aware of what happened to his party the last time it took over the White House and pushed through new economic policies.

Bill Clinton pushed through tax increases in 1993 with a narrow partisan majority, punctuated by the taunts of House Republicans to Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania, the House Democrat who cast the final, decisive vote for the tax plan.

Republicans rallied against what they called the "biggest tax increase in history" as well as the rest of the Clinton agenda, defeating her and seizing control of Congress the following year.

Yet Obama also faces some pressure from his party's liberal wing not only to get what it wants, but also to punish the Republicans.

"Bottom line, there is nothing inherently good about bipartisanship," Moulitsas wrote on dailykos.com.

"The only thing that matters is whether a solution is good or not. Consider that two of Bush's biggest disasters, his tax cuts and Iraq, were bipartisan affairs. Getting votes from the opposite party doesn't make the underlying legislation any more likely to succeed. If anything, our nation would've been better served with more partisanship during those times."


Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 won approval for the National Industrial Recovery Act, a keystone of the New Deal, with overwhelming Democratic support and a small fraction of Republican votes. In the Senate, for example, he got four of 28 Republican votes. Democrats went on to gain even more seats in both the 1934 and 1936 elections.

In 1981, Republican Ronald Reagan got his massive tax cuts through Congress with wide bipartisan support, including a majority of the Democrats voting in both the House and the Senate. The Republicans went on to lose seats in the next elections.

Republican George W. Bush in 2001 won his tax cuts with bipartisan support, including 12 Democrats in the Senate and 28 in the House. He went on to gain seats in the 2002 midterm elections, though those were influenced much more by the 2001 terrorist attacks, not the tax cuts.

(McClatchy Newspapers correspondent David Lightman contributed to this report.)


Guantanamo judge defies Obama

Army Col. James L. Pohl rejects the president's request to stop proceedings at the military tribunal. He says the proposal is 'not reasonable.'
By Carol J. Williams

January 30, 2009

The chief judge at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court Thursday rejected President Obama's call to halt the prosecution of terrorism suspects, ruling that a delay in the case of a Saudi accused in the Cole attack would "not serve the interests of justice."

Army Col. James L. Pohl said the government's request to postpone until May the Feb. 9 arraignment of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri was "not reasonable."

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case already had agreed to Obama's request for a four-month suspension in the proceedings to review the military commissions process created under former President Bush.

Legal scholars and Pentagon officials said Pohl's ruling was not insubordination because Obama's proposal was a request, not an order.

Pohl pointed out that the rules for military commissions adopted by Congress in 2006 gave the military judges "sole authority" to grant delays once charges had been referred for trial.

"Technically, it's within the judge's discretion to treat this as a request or a motion on the part of the prosecutors and the government," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. "We like to think that even military judges are independent, to some extent, of the commander in chief.

"But given the clear message in the executive orders of last week, it's difficult to understand why that request wouldn't be granted," Tobias added. "If the issue is really forced, the judge would probably have to yield."

One factor in the judge's decision to proceed with Nashiri case could be that some evidence against the Saudi would not be admissible in U.S. federal court, where critics of Guantanamo want the war crimes cases moved.

Nashiri is one of the terrorism suspects the Bush administration admitted waterboarding, an interrogation method in which a person is made to feel he is drowning. Eric H. Holder Jr., Obama's nominee to be attorney general, called the technique torture during his confirmation hearing last week, and Obama has signed an executive order banning torture.

"Judge Pohl's decision to unabashedly move forward in the Al Nashiri military commission case shows how officials held over from the Bush administration are exploiting ambiguities in President Obama's executive order as a strategy to undercut the president's unequivocal promise to shut down Guantanamo and end the military commissions," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Legal analysts said they doubted the standoff between Obama and Pohl would be allowed to mushroom.

The top official in the tribunal, former Pentagon judge and Bush appointee Susan J. Crawford, has the authority to step in and drop the capital charges against Nashiri, said his Navy defense lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Reyes.

Crawford recently indicated a desire to distance herself from the legacy of Guantanamo by refusing to prosecute Mohammed Qahtani, a prisoner suspected of aiding the Sept. 11 plotters, on the grounds that his treatment under interrogation amounted to torture.

She also dropped charges in October against five prisoners connected with Al Qaeda recruiter Abu Zubaydah without explanation, stirring speculation that the government had been relying on evidence produced by "enhanced interrogation techniques" that wouldn't be admissible even in the war crimes court.

Still, Guantanamo's supporters in the Pentagon have continued to push ahead with trials. Just days before Obama's inauguration, military prosecutors filed new terrorism charges against three of the five men Crawford dropped charges against.

A Pentagon spokesman insisted that Obama's call for a halt in the proceedings would be honored.

"The Department of Defense is currently reviewing Judge Pohl's ruling. We will be in compliance with the president's orders regarding Guantanamo," said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Gordon, a public affairs officer.

Military judges presiding over two other cases at Guantanamo, including that of alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others, agreed to suspend those proceedings last week after Obama made the request.