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Netroots Nation recap

I wasn’t there this year. This is the second year in a row in which I missed the gathering. Sorry!! I was truly inspired by what I saw via streaming. My friend Marcy was there. Here’s her recap. (BTW, I completely agree. This thang has to be about the middle class. If we do right by the middle class we will do right by the county!):

Howard Dean at NN11

Sorry to be AWOL for most of Netroots Nation. bmaz says I’ve been offline for the last few days because we’ve been drunk and busy, but it seems to me I’ve just been incredibly busy for five days straight. There were a lot of conversations, but the overall theme seemed like a desperate conversation on saving the middle class.

Early in the week, I had some extended conversations with labor folks, including some interesting discussions about the UAW’s plans to organize transplants–I hope to do an extensive follow-up on that.

On Thursday, I had the honor to be on a podium between Howard Dean and Russ Feingold, two of my political inspirations. Though the speakers of the night were probably a Pakistani and Zimbabwean woman talking about how important blogs are to giving women voices in oppressive societies. American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten, also gave a great talk.

On Thursday, I joined the ACLU and Julian Sanchez talking about all the surveillance we’re under. I think we succeded in scaring a lot of people.

I had conversations with a number of elected officials: Luis Gutierrez on immigration, Keith Ellison on saving the middle class, Sheldon Whitehouse on saving the middle class. Alan Grayson talked about what he’s reading about our increasing inequality in Fed documents. While he’s not elected, Jared Bernstein and I had a great talk about the MI auto bailout (and the fact Republican leaders are now claiming credit for results of stimulus in the midwest). (more…)

By |2011-06-19T23:12:01-04:00June 19th, 2011|Party Politics|Comments Off on Netroots Nation recap

Wall Street Reform

I thought that this post hit the nail on the head.

From Political Animal:

It wasn’t easy, and it took a little longer than expected, but one of the pillars of the Democratic agenda — a sweeping Wall Street reform bill — cleared Congress today, and is poised to become law.

The Senate voted, 60 to 39, to approve an overhaul of the financial regulatory system on Thursday, heralding the end of more than a generation in which the prevailing posture of Washington toward the financial industry was largely one of hands-off admiration.

“We all know Wall Street isn’t going to reform itself,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)said today. “Those who vote ‘no’ are standing with the same bankers who gambled with our homes and economic security in the first place.”

The final roll found three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.) — joining the entire Democratic caucus, except Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), in supporting the bill. It now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

There’s some confusion, apparently, as to exactly when that will happen. The Hill reports that the president may sign the legislation into law today, while the New York Times reports it’s likely to benext week. Given the fact that Obama is in Michigan today, I’d be surprised if the signing ceremony were ready for this afternoon.

Either way, the reform package, formally called the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” represents the biggest regulatory change for the financial industry since the Great Depression. Kevin Drum had a good item recently, highlighting several of its key provisions. He concluded, “Given the alternatives, anyone who cares about financial reform should support this bill.”

In the larger context, Wall Street reform also gets added to the list of breakthrough accomplishments of the last 18 months, a list that now includes health care reform, an economy-saving Recovery Act, a long-sought overhaul of the nation’s student-loan system, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, and the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, among other things.

As Rachel Maddow recently observed, “The last time any president did this much in office, booze was illegal. If you believe in policy, if you believe in government that addresses problems, cheers to that.”

Of course, the president’s leadership made progress on this agenda possible, but kudos also obviously have to go to the House and Senate leadership, especially on Wall Street reform, which looked to be in deep trouble more than once. Time will tell what happens in the midterms, but Americans haven’t seen a Congress as successful as 111th in at least a generation.

By |2010-07-21T06:40:51-04:00July 21st, 2010|Economy|Comments Off on Wall Street Reform

Holder, the Senate and Domestic Spying

Attorney General Eric Holder testified on Capital Hill yesterday. He had a throw-down with Senator Jeff Sessions.

From TP:

This morning, Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) slammed the Justice Department’s release of Bush-era memos authorizing the use of torture on terrorist suspects, telling Holder that his “predecessor, Judge Mukasey, and Mr. Hayden,” the former Director of National Intelligence, “didn’t approve of that at all.” Holder reminded Sessions that Mukasey and Hayden were no longer in charge:

SESSIONS: Well it was disapproved by your predecessor, Judge Mukasey, and Mr. Hayden, the CIA, um, DIA [sic] director. They didn’t approve of that at all. … You were willing to release matters that the DNI and the Attorney General believe were damaging to our national security.

HOLDER: Well, one attorney general thought that. I am the Attorney General of the United States, and it is this attorney general’s view that the release of that information was appropriate, as well as the president of the United States. I respect their opinion, but I had to make the decision, holding the office that I now hold.

So, in my mind, this was a good exchange for Eric Holder.  On the other hand, it seems that Attorney General Holder had a very hard time saying that violating the FISA law was a criminal act.  I know why he wouldn’t say the obvious.  That would mean that he would have to immediately start prosecuting Bush officials.  He probably isn’t ready for that yet.

From EmptyWheel:

By far the most disturbing part of the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing today came when Russ Feingold asked Eric Holder whether he stands by a statement he made before the American Constitution Society last year.

In the midst of a speech that repeated “rule of law” like a Greek Chorus, after introducing this passage from his speech by saying certain steps taken by the Bush Administration “were unlawful,” Holder said, “I never thought a President would act in direct defiance of federal law by authorizing warrantless NSA surveillance of American citizens.”

When Feingold asked Holder whether he stands by that statement, Holder ignored the early part of his speech where he described all of Bush’s abuses to be “unlawful,” and instead tried to claim he was narrowly saying that Bush simply “contravened” FISA. (more…)

Finally, it looks as if the NSA has been looking at everyone’s emails… not just the terrorists’.  Former President Bill Clinton’s email was viewed by NSA trainees.

From NYT:

Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

Both the former analyst’s account and the rising concern among some members of Congress about the N.S.A.’s recent operation are raising fresh questions about the spy agency.

Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications. (more…)

Keith Olbermann has James Risen, reporter from the New York Times, on his show to chat about these latest developments.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

By |2009-06-18T06:16:55-04:00June 18th, 2009|Domestic Spying, Obama administration|Comments Off on Holder, the Senate and Domestic Spying
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