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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:18 pm 
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Aagragaah
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I've noticed that Obama's Twitterwent active again. I hope he continues using it!

Heh, I just signed up to follow him but declined to have him follow my Twitter. Feels good to say no to the President. :upsidedown:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:24 pm 
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That's funny, Frelga.

I've been as guilty about this as anyone, so I'm not throwing stones, but I hope that this thread doesn't just turn into a rah rah go Obama thread. People should feel free to post criticisms of his actions. I certainly intend to (as soon as I find something to criticize 8) ).

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:49 pm 
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I will, too. So far so good, though, for my money.

As for his economic proposals, being in a rush sure led to a mess last year. Maybe this is for the best, though I hope he doesn't delay too long.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:51 pm 
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It's a tricky decision. Too slow, and things go beyond hope of recovery. Too fast, and you can throw hundreds of billions in the wrong direction.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:18 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
People should feel free to post criticisms of his actions. I certainly intend to (as soon as I find something to criticize 8) ).


Why should we not be concerned about William Lynn's nomination as Deputy Secretary of Defense despite his prior role as lobbyist for Raytheon, seemingly in direct contravention of Obama's executive order banning lobbyists from entering government for two years in the particular issue area in which they were lobbyists (or with an executive agency which they lobbied)?

ETA Am fairly pleased with much of the other early stuff, particularly re: Guantanamo and prisons/detention camps in general, Iraq/Afghanistan, the lobbying executive order itself ... and waiting to see what stance Obama will take with respect to Hamas/Fatah in Gaza.

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I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:11 pm 
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nerdanel wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
People should feel free to post criticisms of his actions. I certainly intend to (as soon as I find something to criticize 8) ).


Why should we not be concerned about William Lynn's nomination as Deputy Secretary of Defense despite his prior role as lobbyist for Raytheon, seemingly in direct contravention of Obama's executive order banning lobbyists from entering government for two years in the particular issue area in which they were lobbyists (or with an executive agency which they lobbied)?


Because we didn't know about it? ;) We should be concerned. It will be interesting to see what happens. Here's one article about the issue:

Obama lobbying ban hits DC reality

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:30 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:47 pm 
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I should note that there are actually two nominations of concern. William Lynn's is the most egregious one, because as I understand it, there is too much overlap between his former and proposed roles for him to recuse himself from areas where he lobbied while still being able to do his job.

However, William Corr - Obama's pick for Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, is the executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. In his role as a lobbyist, he was responsible for lobbying Congress, the FDA, the CDC, and FTC with respect to his organization's anti-youth smoking agenda as described here. My understanding is that this is less problematic as he intends to recuse himself from tobacco-related matters at DHHS.

To me, this is a reason for concern -- but I'm not exactly sure on what grounds. In "The Audacity of Hope," (which I'm finally reading slowly), Obama does a good job of illustrating the shades of gray with which politicians have to contend (including a discussion of the lobbying issue). Lobbyists are of course neither inherently good nor evil. And the reality is that they are often extremely qualified individuals in their areas of interest -- in some cases, perhaps the most qualified to help an administrative realizes its policy objectives.

For me, the question is whether lobbyists are so routinely inclined to misuse the "revolving door" between the public and private sectors for their own personal gain (or the improper gain of their private sector organizations) that ethics demand a firm ban on the historic cross-pollination between the public and private sectors. If this is so, then a bright-line rule (without waivers and exceptions) must be established and followed, as per Obama's executive order. We will lose the benefit of some lobbyists' expertise, of course, but it's perhaps not too high a price to pay. If, on the other hand, lobbyists are sometimes but not consistently prone to misusing the revolving door, then more nuanced regulations should be developed. For instance, Robert Gibbs (Press Secretary) has said of Lynn's nomination that the waiver allows "uniquely qualified individuals" to serve the government. Perhaps an appropriate procedure would require some sort of bipartisan panel to determine when lobbyists are so "uniquely qualified" that there is no adequate substitute for their nomination to a high-ranking government position. Hopefully this would not often be the case.

Edit to add "not" that changed meaning

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


Last edited by nerdanel on Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:08 pm 
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Here is a good article from Politico about Seven Reasons for Healthy Skepticism. I thought it offered a good analysis of the mistakes that other administrations have made out of "good intentions" and how the Obama administration (it feels so good to say that :) ) can try to avoid them.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:15 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
nerdanel wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
People should feel free to post criticisms of his actions. I certainly intend to (as soon as I find something to criticize 8) ).


Why should we not be concerned about William Lynn's nomination as Deputy Secretary of Defense despite his prior role as lobbyist for Raytheon, seemingly in direct contravention of Obama's executive order banning lobbyists from entering government for two years in the particular issue area in which they were lobbyists (or with an executive agency which they lobbied)?


Because we didn't know about it? ;) We should be concerned. It will be interesting to see what happens. Here's one article about the issue:

Obama lobbying ban hits DC reality


I guess it depends on whether a standard of competence exceeds the presumption of "guilt by lobbying".

Failing to appoint someone who was previously a lobbyist is less of a problem than permitting someone to become a lobbyist after the fact, becuase you can have standards of conduct that you expect them to follow in the role in which you place them.

Lobbyist is a charged word.

When you write your congressman on a concern, you are "lobbying" for yourself, but you do not have much power or influence.

Now obviously, there is a distinction between such individual actions and the actions of registered lobbyists.

When businesses or other organizations, such as labor unions, lobby the government, there is a danger of undue influence; however, many businesses have to lobby the government just to ensure their own survival.

My own industry recently successfully lobbied the government with regard to dumping of steel below cost by Chinese firms, which has had a crippling effect on certain areas of the business, resulting in the loss of many manufacturing jobs.

Who else is going to stand up for that? Will the people who are buying the cheap steel?

If the government needed someone who understood the intricacies of the steel industry with regard to the import situation and the erosion of the manufacturing base, I would suspect that the folks who did the lobbying would be among those most familiar with, and most knowledgeable in, that area.

Similarly, William Lynn is familiar with the ins and outs of the defense industry due to his association with Raytheon. Would it be better to have someone who is not familiar with the defense industry?

I would rather have the ethics standard be something that allows for waivers after intense scrutiny, than to have it be absolute.

In other areas where absolute and arbitrary standards are applied (like 3 strikes laws, and zero tolerance rules in schools), you often have potentially harmful unintended consequences.

The same could happen here (in a different way) if the ethics standard serves as an effective blacklist on competent candidates. You could end up with someone who is less qualified in a position of extreme importance.

This could be resolved readily by improving the wording of the new ethics standard to include standards for when waivers can be applied, or when a candidate should receive extra scrutiny.

BrianIs :) AtYou

PS

Examples of absurdities when absolute standards are applied in other areas:

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jun/19/local/me-12244

http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/z ... eport.html

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Last edited by BrianIsSmilingAtYou on Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:25 pm 
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I know I'll never be fully satisfied with any of Obama's picks, but I find little to complain about over marty Lederman. He's replacing the rather horrible John Yoo. Lederman is anti-torture, and his views on the constitution are rather admirable for a Democrat. Yoo thought evidence obtained by torture was permissible in court and the constitution was toilet paper.

I'm also very pleasantly surprised by the actions taken in closing Gitmo. When he promised to close Gitmo I saw a massive loophole - all the CIA prisons around the world that serve basically the same function. Years of arguing with people who are deft at finding any loophole to avoid the topic under discussion has left me experienced at looking for loopholes. Obama didn't take the loophole - when he closed Gitmo he closed the CIA prisons too.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:48 pm 
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Or at least, he is taking the first steps to do so. We'll see how that comes out in practice.

Brian, I definitely hear what you are saying. At the same time, I see a real slippery slope when someone announces such a comprehensive policy, and immediately seeks to get around it. I find that a bit worrying

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:28 am 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
That's funny, Frelga.

I've been as guilty about this as anyone, so I'm not throwing stones, but I hope that this thread doesn't just turn into a rah rah go Obama thread. People should feel free to post criticisms of his actions. I certainly intend to (as soon as I find something to criticize 8) ).


The second oath taking (which is the official one) I noticed that there was no bible. Is this constitutional? Didn't they repeat this because they messed up the words on first one? Isn't this another slip up? You know I'm a Constitutional purist . :P

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:54 am 
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Lurker wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
That's funny, Frelga.

I've been as guilty about this as anyone, so I'm not throwing stones, but I hope that this thread doesn't just turn into a rah rah go Obama thread. People should feel free to post criticisms of his actions. I certainly intend to (as soon as I find something to criticize 8) ).


The second oath taking (which is the official one) I noticed that there was no bible. Is this constitutional? Didn't they repeat this because they messed up the words on first one? Isn't this another slip up? You know I'm a Constitutional purist . :P


No, there is no constitutional requirement of a Bible, which is well enough, as I hope that in future our Presidents will include people who are non-Christian or non-religious, who may want to swear on their own holy book or on none at all.

See here for the relevant constitutional text: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#A2Sec1

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:22 pm 
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It looks like the first official President Obama signing of a new law is on the horizon

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/art ... wD95SGVNO0

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:04 pm 
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Historically, there is no evidence that the presidents from John Adams to John Tyler used a bible. John Quincy Adams, in contrast, used a book on Constitutional Law. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:48 pm 
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What founding fathers didn't use a bible.... :shock: ;) :D

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:49 pm 
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axordil wrote:
Historically, there is no evidence that the presidents from John Adams to John Tyler used a bible. John Quincy Adams, in contrast, used a book on Constitutional Law. :)


I wish they stuck to that. I can see, though, how that was not an option for Obama.

ETA: re the new law - so far so good.

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‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:45 pm 
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On to other matters ... re: the closing of Gitmo, from the NYT:

Quote:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

His status was announced in an Internet statement by the militant group and was confirmed by an American counterterrorism official.

“They’re one and the same guy,” said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was discussing an intelligence analysis. “He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007, but his movements to Yemen remain unclear.”

The development came as Republican legislators criticized the plan to close the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp in the absence of any measures for dealing with current detainees. But it also helps explain why the new administration wants to move cautiously, taking time to work out a plan to cope with the complications.

Almost half the camp’s remaining detainees are Yemenis, and efforts to repatriate them depend in part on the creation of a Yemeni rehabilitation program — partly financed by the United States — similar to the Saudi one. Saudi Arabia has claimed that no graduate of its program has returned to terrorism.


To be honest, I've been remiss in following the Guantanamo closure debate until this past weekend. The last time I studied the issue was in my Federal Courts class in law school (in 2006), when I was given to understand that the alternative to Guantanamo was trying the detainees in American court (or an equivalent military court setup) with Constitutional guarantees or our military's equivalent. It was on this basis that I've been in theoretical favor of closing Guantanamo. If the alternative to Guantanamo's existence is handing the detainees off to Yemeni and Saudi repatriation programs, I'm not quite so sure I am in favor - and this latest news is a crystal clear example of why. (In that case, I would certainly support reform of policies and procedures used in Guantanamo, but might still favor its existence.) Could someone who has followed this issue more closely please enlighten me?

EDIT I haven't actually read the Obama executive order re: Gitmo, so if the answers are therein, feel free to slap me on the wrist and tell me to go read it.

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:59 pm 
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nel, the answers are not in the order, because they have not been determined yet. My understanding is that the intention is review each of the 250-odd remaining detaining's cases and determine whether they should be: (1) repatriated; (2) tried in federal court; (3) tried in some kind of court martial proceeding; or (3) held without trial at some location other than Gitmo. There has been some talk of some other countries (I have heard Switzerland and Ireland, I believe) taking on some of the detainees that need to continue to be held, though I don't know if there is any truth to that. It is certainly true that a good portion of the remaining detainees are dangerous characters who can't just be released, and I have seen no indication that the Obama administration is not cognizant of that fact.

As for whether or not "Abu Sayyaf al-Shihri" really is one and the same as "Said Ali al-Shihri" I can't say. It is certainly is possible. But it is also possible that it is a case of deception for some unknown reason. But it certainly highlights the danger of simply realizing terrorism suspects.

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