The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama

Obama’s quiet gains against poverty

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Apparently, progress being made against poverty may prove to be the greatest gains in 40 years.
clipped from www.thenation.com

At a the forum “Obama at 100: A Progress Report from The Nation” held on April 21, 2009 Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change, lauded the early progress the Obama administration has made in reversing forty years of neglect for the poor.

While Bhargava, an editorial board member at The Nation, made clear that the devastating scope of the recession has mitigated the impact of the reforms, he concluded that, “Boy, it is a new day in Washington.”

Corbin Hiar

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That’s “the least, first.” And I believe it is what government exists to do.

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Bishop of Chicago: Immigration Raids ‘Immoral’

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Jim Wallis tells of a nationwide tour urging immigration reform that stopped in Chicago:
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

La Conscience (d'après Victor Hugo)

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Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops … used the occasion to call on the Obama administration to stop immigration raids and urged passage of comprehensive immigration reform [...]
[T]he cardinal

“… sought to cast the issue in moral terms, calling it “a matter of conscience” and an important step to creating a more peaceful society. ‘We cannot strengthen families when people live in fear from day to day,’ [...]

The continuing raids around the country [are] indeed a matter of conscience. We are taking parents from their children; we are separating families. This is not what in our tradition we should do. Protecting and supporting families and those relationships is crucial. The immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but it must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to “welcome the stranger.”

While I applaud President Obama for repeating his commitment to immigration reform last week, I join Cardinal George in also urging an immediate end to raids.

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It’s an excellent thought. Wrenching families apart is not only cruel, but unwise, even in practical terms. Hurt people hurt people. Strengthening families is, indeed, “an important step to creating a more peaceful society.”

If we’re kind – or even just smart – minimizing trauma will be part of immigration reform.


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NYT: ‘Taking on critics, Obama sets aside talk of unity’

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I never thought I’d feel good about “set[ting] aside talk of unity,” but this is hopeful.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Three weeks into his tenure, Mr. Obama acknowledged that his effort to change the political climate in Washington had yielded little. He made clear that he had all but given up hope of securing a bipartisan consensus behind his $800 billion economic recovery package, arguing that the urgency of the economic crisis had at least for now outweighed the need for unity.
“I’m happy to get good ideas from across the political spectrum, from Democrats and Republicans,” he said at the Monday night news conference. “What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested and they have failed. And that’s part of what the election in November was all about.”
“It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they presided over a doubling of the national debt,”
“I’m not sure they have a lot of credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility.”
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White House Press Se...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This could be called a “reality check” tour.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, decried what he called a “myopic viewpoint in Washington,” disconnected from the troubles of the country. “…there’s a whole different conversation in Washington than there is out here,” said David Axelrod… “If I had listened to the conversation in Washington during the campaign for president, I would have jumped off a building about a year and a half ago.”

There comes a time when obstructionism simply has to be out-voted. As the saying goes, “You can lead horses to water, but you can’t make ‘em drink.”  You sure can’t let them keep others thirsty.

Follow the Times link for the whole story.


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Written by Monte

February 10, 2009 at 10:37 am

What’s next, GOP?

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An exciting era of American history has begun.  Bipartisanship (even post-partisanship) is on the front burner.  The President is trooping down to the Capitol today to listen to Republicans.

Competence is in; cronyism is out.  Effectiveness is in; ideology is out.  Diplomacy is in; war is, well, less.  A new wave of young people have energized government.  A new wave of non-white participation has democratized government.

But the most powerful in the GOP read their recent trouncing as a sign that they’re not conservative enough.  As the thoughtful conservative David Brooks writes in the NY Times:

David Brooks

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In one camp, there are the Traditionalists, the people who believe that conservatives have lost elections because they have strayed from the true creed. [...]

To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are the most prominent voices in the Traditionalist camp [...]

Only one thing is for sure: In the near term, the Traditionalists are going to win the fight for supremacy in the G.O.P. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 28, 2009 at 10:48 am

Inauguration: a satellite view

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Drop over to the GeoEye satellite page, and you’ll find a wonderful shot of the US Capitol during the Inauguration of President Obama.  You can even download the whole thing, but it will take ten megabytes!

January 20, 2009; Satellite image by GeoEye

January 20, 2009; Satellite image by GeoEye

Worth a look!


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Written by Monte

January 27, 2009 at 2:13 pm

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture: US “has a clear obligation” to prosecute Bush, Rumsfeld

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Apparently, international law (which is, in this case, US law as well) is pretty clear.
clipped from thinkprogress.org
In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques:

bushrummyweb.jpg

Rumsfeld, Bush

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it. [...]

Indeed, a bipartisan Senate report released last month found that Rumsfeld “bore major responsibility” for abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and other military detention centers [...]

[L]ast week, a Bush administration official overseeing Gitmo trials said Rumsfeld approved the torture of one particular detainee.

Bush himself said last year that [...] he personally authorized waterboarding Kalid Sheik Muhammad [...]

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I wonder how the USA could demand compliance by any nation to any treaty obligation if it doesn’t fulfill its own solemn obligations in this case.

If we can look away when torture suits the leaders of the moment, can’t everyone? If we can find lawyers who’ll write opinions excusing our leaders when they feel torture appropriate, can’t everyone?

Robert Mugabe will see himself and the USA as birds of a feather.


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Obama, day 1: Intervention at Gitmo

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Only hours into his presidency, Obama moves to begin untangling the Gitmo debacle.
clipped from www.dailykos.com
President Obama requested a 120 day suspension in the military commissions trial pending this week.

The instruction came in a motion filed with a military court in the case of five defendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The motion called for “a continuance of the proceedings” until May 20 so that “the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically.” [...]

“We welcome our new commander-in-chief and this first step towards restoring the rule of law,” said Army Maj. Jon Jackson, a military defense attorney [...]
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BarackMichelleWalk_Inauguration
Image by dalesun via Flickr

This preliminary step would delay trials 120 days to give the Obama administration time to plan the next step. Judges are not obliged to grant the motion, but should rule quickly on it.

According to Kos, the ACLU is calling for “the withdrawal of charges and an end to the military commissions process, with cases that warrant prosecution proceeding in regular federal criminal courts.”

I am glad for this quick start.  Decisive action is an important step toward regaining an America that walks its talk: that all “are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”


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