Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bush says sacrificed free-market principles to save economy

US President George W. Bush said in an interview Tuesday he was forced to sacrifice free market principles to save the economy from "collapse."

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

Bush's comments reflect an extraordinary departure from his longtime advocacy for an unfettered free market, as his administration has orchestrated unprecedented government intervention in the face of a dire financial crisis.

"I am sorry we're having to do it," Bush said.

But Bush said government action was necessary to ease the effects of the crisis, offering perhaps his most dire assessment yet of the country's economy.

"I feel a sense of obligation to my successor to make sure there is not a, you know, a huge economic crisis. Look, we're in a crisis now. I mean, this is -- we're in a huge recession, but I don't want to make it even worse."

At a G20 summit last month in Washington, Bush resisted some proposals for global financial regulation and argued free market principles still held true despite the global economic downturn.

And administration officials have also referred to the primacy of the free market when discussing a possible government bailout for the troubled US auto industry.

In the interview, Bush said that a "disorganized bankruptcy" of the carmakers could create "enormous" economic difficulties.

But the US president has yet to announce how his administration will proceed amid calls from Detroit automakers and Democrats for a bailout drawing on funds set aside for financial firms.

Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

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Their Own Obama

Bobby Jindal is in no way running for president. Or so he told Iowa.

Amanda Rivkin / Polaris for Newsweek
Jindal, second from right, during a tour of flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids, Iowa, earlier this year
By Andrew Romano | NEWSWEEK

Bobby Jindal is in a hurry. It was only an hour ago that the Louisiana governor, 37, landed near the town of Longville (population: 2,462) and descended from his helicopter, Pelican One, into an SUV bound for the local Baptist church. And it'll be only a little while before Jindal reboards the chopper and resumes a tour that will, by bedtime tomorrow, take him to Breaux Bridge, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Arcadia and, finally, New Orleans—a typical, 1,000-mile, midweek excursion for the boyish politician who rarely bothers to eat or urinate when traveling, which is almost always.

But in the meantime, Jindal must answer The Question. Ever since arriving at the Longville church for today's event, the governor has been sprinting through his "New Louisiana" stump speech, a self-promotional recap of his 10 months in office, at the relentless pace expected of a guy who graduated from Brown at 21, completed his Rhodes scholarship at 23, ran Louisiana's Health and Hospitals department at 25, presided over the University of Louisiana system at 28 and served in Washington as an assistant secretary of health and human services and two-term U.S. congressman before becoming the country's first Indian-American governor at the advanced age of 36. Swimming in his blue blazer, the 5-foot-11, 135-pound Jindal looks more like a bashful science-fair contestant than the latest successor to flamboyant Louisiana Gov. Huey Long, and if it weren't for Jindal's lavish Southern drawl, he'd risk sounding more like one, too; this morning's remarks, like nearly everything he says, have consisted largely of the phrase "a couple of things" followed by a flurry of details, statistics and multipart plans.

Now Clyde Dennis wants to know how hurried Jindal really is. "Tell me about your national aspirations," says the burly 65-year-old justice of the peace, rising from his chair. "Keep hearing your name on TV and all that kind of stuff. We want to keep you in state here. Don't want you to go to D.C." Having fielded The Question before—after all, Jindal frequently appears on cable to explain how the GOP should "right its ship"—the governor is ready with The Answer. "I've got the job that I want," he says. "I told y'all a year ago that we've got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change our state. I want to be a part of that. And if you let me, I'm going to run for re-election. I'm not running for president. I think the American people are tired of politics, they're tired of elections, they're tired of campaigns. Anybody out there running for president four years from now, eight years from now, they're not helping themselves—and they're sure not helping their country."

Three days later, Jindal, a Roman Catholic convert raised in a Hindu household, will repeat these lines, unprompted, at a gathering of nearly 1,000 adoring Christian activists. Which would be unremarkable, except that the event will take place not in Louisiana but in Iowa—the site, it just so happens, of the nation's first presidential caucuses.

There are plenty of rising stars in the GOP. But in the wake of Barack Obama's victory on Nov. 4, none has attracted as much speculation, curiosity and unapologetic hype as Jindal. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently called him "the most transformative young governor in America." Radio host Rush Limbaugh refers to him as "the next Ronald Reagan." John McCain eyed Jindal as a running mate, and Steve Schmidt, McCain's chief strategist, told The Washington Post in November that "the question is not whether he'll be president, but when he'll be president—because he will be elected someday." For his part, Jindal says he's uninterested in 2012—and given how his plan to run for re-election in November 2011 will make it near-impossible to prepare for the following January's nominating contests, he's probably telling the truth. But a veep slot—or 2016—is possible. "First of all, he's brilliant," antitax crusader Grover Norquist tells NEWSWEEK. "Two, he's from an immigrant community, so that speaks to immigrant experience, period. Three, he's a Catholic who lives his values instead of shouting at you about them. Four, he's a principled Reagan Republican. Five, he's from the South but doesn't look like a Southern sheriff. And he's got more successes as a governor, already, one year in, than George W. Bush or Obama had when they ran for president. He's exactly what we need."

This, of course, is the same sort of swooning that propelled a certain Illinois state senator to the presidency. So it's no surprise that "many prominent members of the GOP," as the Post noted, already consider Jindal their "own version of Obama"—the charismatic, nonwhite, Ivy League change agent destined to revitalize his party. Critics carp that Jindalmaniacs are simply jumping on the Benetton bandwagon, and Norquist admits that having at least one young, brown-skinned prospect is "helpful" in the age of Obama. But Jindal is no token. As his rise reveals, the governor shares with the president-elect something deeper—and, for Democrats, more dangerous—than age or color: the ability to walk between worlds. Immigrant and native, Brown and Baton Rouge, right and center, principle and pragmatism. The question now is whether Jindal can balance the dueling demands of Louisiana and Washington while preserving his fragile image as the future of the GOP. Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Brian Welsh, for one, isn't betting against him. "Jindal's a force of nature," Welsh tells NEWSWEEK after following the governor to Iowa. "That's why I'm here, man. He's for real."

For Jindal, navigating difficult crosscurrents is nothing new. Born Piyush Jindal on June 10, 1971, to one of the few Indian families in Baton Rouge, he suddenly announced at the age of 4 that he would answer only to "Bobby," in honor of his favorite "Brady Bunch" character. Asked by NEWSWEEK why he chose an American name, Jindal insists that "there wasn't a whole lot of great thought gone into it." But Jan Daly, Jindal's English teacher, recalls that her top student "wanted to be Westernized." As a teen, Jindal rejected his parents' loose Democratic ties to become a staunch Reagan Republican—in part, he has said, because the Gipper was "very popular" and "easy to identify with." By the time Jindal arrived at Brown in 1988, he was a regular Alex P. Keaton. Arshad Ahsanuddin, a close friend, e-mails that Jindal sported "penny loafers with actual pennies in them" on campus, claiming, when confronted, that "it was the traditional way to wear that type of shoe." Since narrowly losing his first gubernatorial bid in 2003, Jindal has rarely appeared in public without cowboy boots.

Some might see Jindal as a political opportunist. But the governor's history of self-invention, yet another echo of Obama, seems less a product of ambition than of assimilation. Early on, everyone expected Jindal to fulfill the wishes of his demanding immigrant father by entering medicine—including Jindal himself. So the idea that he spent puberty polishing his political persona is a tough sell. "I never thought Bobby would run for office," says Mary Beth Guillot, his high-school principal. "He just wasn't the backslapping, glad-handing type." Instead, he has always been the consummate Organization Kid, striving to meet or exceed institutional expectations. As a college intern, he impressed Shreveport Rep. Jim McCrery with a massive manuscript on Medicare reform; five years later, he asked McCrery to recommend him for Louisiana health secretary. "How about deputy?" McCrery inquired. "No," Jindal, 24, replied. He got the interview—and the job.

Jindal is hardly ashamed of his heritage; at Brown he once answered a professor's hypothetical question—"If a high school only took the brightest students, would it be mostly white or mostly black?"—by slipping Ahsanuddin a note that read "all Asian." But he's also been careful not to rock the boat by suggesting, as Ahsanuddin puts it, that he "[sees] himself as a minority"—much, in fact, like Obama. Even now, asking Jindal if he's ever felt out of place elicits an assurance that he's "an American … who had birthdays at McDonald's like everybody else." "Bobby's just logical and analytical," says Daly. "He sees what he wants to accomplish and knows how to do it."

Together, Jindal's adaptive instincts and intellectual drive fueled his conversion to Catholicism. At 12, an evangelical friend named Kent gave him a paperback Bible for Christmas. Raised in a "strong Hindu culture," Jindal considered himself "anti-Christian" and stashed it in a closet. But a crush, Kathy, soon convinced him to read the book "from cover to cover." Jindal gradually warmed to the Scriptures, and while watching a Passion film at Kent's church, he was suddenly "convicted" of his "sinfulness and [his] need for a savior." Most conversion narratives end there. But Jindal's doesn't. Ever the A student, he studied Kent's Bible "by flashlight" and even "learned bits of Latin, Greek and Hebrew." After a long stretch of soul searching, Jindal concluded that Protestantism lacked "scriptural cogency" and decided to become a strict Catholic instead. ("Bobby said he trusted God to put his own house in order," recalls Ahsanuddin.) Although critics have questioned the governor's motives—Hindu activist Ramesh Rao recently wrote that "Jindal knew well that [conversion] was the only way, as an Indian-American Hindu, he could achieve his political ambitions"—his deeply Catholic views, including a "100 percent" opposition to abortion "with no exceptions" for rape, incest or health of the mother, undoubtedly anger more voters than they attract. "If I wanted the aesthetics without the inconvenient morality," he wrote in 1998, "I could become Episcopalian."

Nowhere is Jindal's commitment to Christianity more evident than in the 15 essays, Obama-esque in their self-scrutiny, that he published in the New Oxford Review and other Catholic journals between 1991 and 1998. In the most controversial, he details an amateur exorcism he witnessed at Brown. One day, a friend—called Susan in his 1994 account—confessed that she'd started seeing "visions" and smelling sulfur when doctors discovered a cancerous lump on her scalp; soon after, she fell to the floor at a prayer meeting and started "thrashing about." As Susan screamed "Bobby," the group pinned her down and chanted, "Satan, I command you to leave this woman." But Jindal was too terrified to "confront the demon." Eventually, the struggle subsided; Susan claimed she felt "healed." A short time later, surgeons removed the bump—and, according to Jindal, "found no traces of cancerous cells." The account has already raised eyebrows among skeptics who find it difficult to reconcile the governor's Brown biology degree with a belief in demonic possession—liberal bloggers, for example, now call Jindal "the Exorcist"—but he seems unfazed. "It's important to share your spiritual experiences with people who might benefit," he says. "There are a lot of things in this life that we won't understand, and that's OK. How do you explain the Sacraments? How do you explain the Resurrection? Those are hard concepts. So I didn't try to interpret it or declare what happened, because I don't know."

Holding court at the Breaux Bridge city hall, Jindal isn't discussing "The Brady Bunch," or the Bible, or his encounter with "an evil force." He rarely does. Instead, the governor is repeating the sunny speech he delivered two hours earlier in Longville. The concept is simple: Jindal as both the embodiment and the architect of a "New Louisiana." In 2003, the story goes, the D.C. hotshot returned to Baton Rouge and vowed, if elected, to reverse Louisiana's brain drain by spurring growth and combating the state's storied corruption. Attacked as a bloodless bureaucrat, Jindal, then 32, lost to Kathleen Blanco. But after Blanco botched the response to Hurricane Katrina, voters developed buyer's remorse—and chose the competent wunderkind by a 37 percent margin in the next election. Shortly after assuming office in January 2008, Jindal convened two special sessions of the state legislature to kick-start his agenda, and he spends much of today's speech listing key accomplishments: sweeping ethics reforms that catapulted low-ranking Louisiana to the top of watchdog lists; tax cuts worth more than $500 million; a smooth, widely praised response to Hurricane Gustav; a major workforce-development program; and a new plan to control Medicaid costs and improve coverage for low-income residents. Local critics—on both the left and the right—often complain that Jindal, eager for national attention, claims more credit than he deserves, and he faces serious challenges in the near future, including a $1.3 billion budget deficit. But in person—and on paper—it's difficult to deny that he is an effective rookie.

Competence, it seems, is the cornerstone of his post-Bush appeal—both within the party and, perhaps, beyond it. Satisfy the right with your personal convictions; sway the center by actually solving problems. "Jindal can play up the wonkier side of his résumé because he already has this visceral, implicit connection with rock-ribbed social conservatives," says journalist Reihan Salam, coauthor of "Grand New Party." "Everyone can see what they want in him: the reformers and traditionalists battling for control of the GOP, as well as the independents who will decide future elections." In Breaux Bridge, Jindal doesn't boast about the bill he signed allowing public schools to teach intelligent design. He doesn't have to. Instead, he can focus on more pragmatic achievements—and build chic postpartisan cred in the process. As Jindal finishes posing for photos, Gloria Kern, a blind, 83-year-old lifelong Democrat, saunters over and touches his shoulder. The governor leans in. "I didn't vote for you," she says. "But I've been impressed." Back in Baton Rouge that evening, Jindal attributes his 69 percent approval rating to "authenticity." "Even when the voters don't agree with you on everything," he says, "if they see that you have relevant solutions, they'll support you."

Three days later, an influential crowd fills the West Des Moines Sheraton: Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, evangelical activist Chuck Hurley, Washington Post reporter Michael Leahy, Amy Lorentzen of the Associated Press and hundreds of local Christians, who collectively paid $150,000 to behold the next Reagan. Onstage, Jindal jokes that "any of you [who] came to hear a political speech … might want to consider getting involved in some kind of recovery program," but organizers privately acknowledge that Iowa is Iowa, and tongues will wag. Aware, it seems, of the searing national spotlight, the governor avoids abortion, gay marriage and intelligent design in favor of less combustible topics like "the coarsening of our culture," the future of the GOP and, of course, bipartisanship. "It's time for us to work together," he says. "Whether you voted for [Obama] or not … [he's] our president, [and he] need[s] our prayers." As the Grand Ballroom empties out, most attendees don't seem to mind the omissions; after all, they're certain that Jindal "shares their values," as Michelle Fetters-Steen, 54, puts it. "He even reminded me a little of Obama," adds Kristen Anderson, a home-school mother. The day's only complaint, in fact, comes from retired physician Oscar Beasley, 81, who grumbles that "these people" are invading Iowa "a little earlier than usual." "Also, the guy talks too fast," Beasley adds. "He should probably slow down.

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5 Presidents Worse Than George W Bush

The majority of the American public seems to think George W Bush is the worst president of all time. Well that may be true someday, but not enough time has passed to make that proclamation. Maybe in fifty years Dubya is hands down the worst president ever. For right now, however, here are five presidents that were worse than George W Bush.

Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)

Franklin PierceThere were a lot of shitty presidents in the middle of the 19th century and Franklin Pierce was the first of them. In such a trying time in our country's history, it's amazing how many idiots we had holding the highest office in the land.

Pierce lived an interesting early life. He was only 27 years old when he became a congressman, at 31 he became a senator. He resigned in 1842 and decided to return to his home of Concord, New Hampshire to practice law, mostly because his wife, Jane Means Appleton, absolutely hated Washington. He turned down nominations to be Governor of New Hampshire and Attorney General of the United States, seemingly perfectly content to spend the rest of his life adhering to Jane's anti-political wishes. But soon after, Pierce up and decided to join the army and fight in the Mexican-American war. After serving in the war he decided it was time that he ran for President of the United States. Maybe he was just really sick of life with Jane.

Pierce faced one problem when he decided to run for President, no one knew who the hell he was. Pierce, however, had the ultimate trump card: he was good friends with famous author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne, who was writing best sellers like they were going out of style, penned a biography of Franklin Pierce that was embellished to an extreme degree. Hawthorne was so popular that no one cared to check and see how true this actual story of Pierce was, and Pierce won the Presidency in a landslide. While president-elect, Pierce's train car derailed and his 11 year old son was killed. Jane saw the accident as God's way of punishing Pierce for becoming President.

Why He Sucked

Pierce refused to be sworn into the White House, instead choosing to be affirmed in and placing his hand on a law book instead of a Bible, which almost every other president did. This doesn't bother me, but I am sure it caused a lot of people in the country to freak out. Pierce also appointed Jefferson Davis as his Secretary of War. Davis was, you know, only the most famous traitor in American history. Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repelled the Missouri Compromise and led to Bleeding Kansas, which was kind of like a "warm up" for the Civil War. Who was in his ear during this crucial time? Mr. Jefferson Davis of course.

Pierce holds the distinction of being the only incumbent President in United States history not be nominated for a second term. Hey, even Dubya got nominated for a second term. Upon leaving the White House, Pierce was quoted as saying "there's nothing left to do but get drunk".

He did have one victory in office though; he presided over the Gadsden Purchase. So if you live in the most southern part of Arizona, you can thank Pierce for being an American, sort of.

James Buchanan (1857-1861)

James Buchanon

America was still reeling from the Pierce administration, yet we got an even worse President to follow in his footsteps! Fresh off of telling Franklin Pierce to get the fuck out, the Democratic Party nominated James Buchanan because he wasn't around when the country was coming to blows over the Kansas-Nebraska act. He was in London at the time, and the Democratic Party figured that he was not tainted by either side, so he was the perfect candidate. The only problem was that Buchanan had no desire to be President, but he decided to accept the nomination anyway.

Why He Sucked

In his inaugural address, he said he wasn't going to run for a second term. Basically he was quitting before he ever started! I guess this is what you can expect when you nominate someone who doesn't want the job in the first place. He lobbied the Supreme Court to uphold the right of owning slaves in the Dred Scott Decision. He was accused by Abraham Lincoln as being a key figure of Slave Power, which was a movement to get slavery legalized in the United States. If that wasn't enough, he got into an all out war over control of his party with Stephen A Douglas, suffered through the Financial Panic of 1857 and went to war with Utah. By the time his turn as President was up, the country was ready to go to Civil War.

It was also widely believed that Buchanan was gay, but that had nothing to do with his crappy executive skills.

Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)

Andrew Johnson

We were finally blessed with a competent president after the Pierce/Buchanan fiascos with the election of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is widely considered as the best President in United States history. Sadly, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth and I am about 100% sure Booth did it because he knew Andrew Johnson would do his best to screw up anything good Lincoln did.

Why He Sucked

Andrew Johnson was all talk. He was once quoted as saying he would be in favor of hanging all Confederate traitors, but when he succeeded Lincoln he got all buddy buddy with them. He pardoned a ton of Confederate leaders, let them remain in control of the South and continue to fuck with black people. He passed the Black Codes, which made Freedmen second class citizens. He even welcomed back many prominent, ex-confederates into congress. His plan for Reconstruction was pretty much the exact opposite of Lincoln's.

Johnson was hated so much he was actually impeached twice, the second time he was only one vote shy of being the first President to ever be kicked out of office. His last act in office was to grant amnesty to all Confederates on Christmas Day in 1868, basically his way of flipping the bird to the North on his way out.

Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)

Warren G Harding

Warren G. Harding was a puppet. If you look closely at old pictures of him you can actually see the strings controlling his body. In all seriousness though, Harding was a puppet for big oil. He got into office behind the big pockets of Jake Hamon and Henry Sinclair. This was important for Harding because, like Franklin Pierce, no one had any idea who he was when he ran for President. He was kind of like Barack Obama, except nowhere near as cool or competent.

Why He Sucked

Well, I already mentioned he was in the pocket of Big Oil. Dubya used to get a lot of criticism about this, but he was nothing compared to Harding. Harding's right had man was Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior, but he basically ran the show. Fall was the Dick Cheney of his time, and used all his contacts to get fertile, federal owned oil fields into the hands of private oil, all while taking major kickbacks. Albert Fall ended up going to jail, and the mastermind of the entire project, Henry Sinclair, was found guilty was well.

Now Harding didn't do any of this, but like I said, he was a puppet and turned his head the other way as it was happening. So what was Harding doing in the White House? He was having a grand old time. He threw poker parties that lasted all night. The men at these parties drank a lot of alcohol even though Prohibition was currently in effect. This would be the equivalent of a modern day President hitting the bong while in office. He did everything short of turning the White House into one of those Old West brothels. If you are one of these people who are mortified over Bill Clinton's actions in the White House, your head would literally explode at some of the stuff Warren G Harding did.

Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

Hoover was part of the Harding Administration, serving as Secretary of Commerce, so we should have known what we were in for. As Secretary of Commerce, he faced a major crisis when the Great Mississippi Flood struck. Hoover gained national acclaim for how he handled the situation. What was overlooked was that Hoover and his relief efforts treated African-Americans terribly. But back in the 20s there was no Kanye West to go on MTV and say "Herbert Hoover doesn't care about black people". Hoover was able to keep the incident involving black people out of the public eye by promising African Americans unprecedented access when he was elected President.

Why He Sucked

Upon being elected to office he broke his promise he made with African-Americans, which caused almost all of them to defect to the Democratic Party. While Republicans continue to strategize on how to get the "black vote" today, they can thank Herbert Hoover for putting them in this situation in the first place.

Of course we all know why Herbert Hoover really sucked; he led the country into the Great Depression. Hoover is often, inaccurately, accused of being in love with Laissez-faire economics and doing absolutely nothing to stop the Great Depression. This is untrue, he introduced lots of different legislation to try to prevent the Great Depression, they just all failed. That leads us to the question: would you rather your President didn't try or would you rather him fail every time he tried?

Hoover also sent the military to fight civilians in the Bonus Army incident. He will forever be remembered for "Hoovervilles", which is what all the unemployed, homeless people called the shacks that they lived in. Give Hoover some credit though, he decided to run for re-election even though he didn't want to. He figured he was the best suited Republican to deal with the economic crisis. He was soundly defeated by FDR.

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Obama's e-mails raise cash, concerns

UPDATE: Longview Man Arrested Accused of Beating Obama Supporter

By Tania Francois

UPDATE 12/16/08:
Shreveport police arrested Jimmy Booth, 25, of Longview Texas accusing him of second degree battery against Kaylon Johnson, 32.
Police say Booth and three friends were in Shreveport partying and on their way back home, stopped at the Citgo on I-20 and the Bert Kouns Industrial Loop exit where the altercation took place.
Johnson, a volunteer worker for the Barack Obama campaign, suffered a broken nose, broken tear duct and broken eye socket. He says racial slurs were launched against him and President Elect Barack Obama.
Booth didn't appear to have a scratch on him when he was escorted into the jail by two Shreveport police detectives.
Booth is being held on a $50,000 bond. If convicted he faces a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $2000 fine.
The FBI's investigation is still underway.

Jimmy Booth, 25, arrested charged with beating Obama supporter
Jimmy Booth, 25, arrested charged with beating Obama supporter

Sources tell us the FBI interviewed Kaylon Johnson and are now investigating the beating. Our sources in the department confirm an investigation is underway.
Johnson said back on Monday that his attackers used racial threats against him. The 32-year-old will undergo two different rounds of surgery to repair his eye socket, nose and tear duct on Friday.

A fund has been set up for Johnson to help with his health care and legal bills. Donations can be made to:
Bank Name: Capital One
Account Name: Kaylon R Johnson Donation Account
Account Number: 5731909948

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A 32-year-old Shreveport man is now recovering at home after he says he was badly beaten at a west Shreveport gas station for wearing a Barack Obama t-shirt.

Kaylon Johnson says he now has a broken nose and eye socket after the brutal attack that he says was racially motivated and brought on by the t-shirt. "They were screaming "f" Obama, f***. Obama something about a n**** president, basically you know I was hit."

This all happened Saturday night around 11:30 at the Citgo on Industrial Drive off of I-20. He says he had already pumped gas and was walking out of the store with a drink when he was attacked. "Seem like some red necks, they're pretty big guys and they were blasting music or whatever, mean by the time I turned around and looked at him they were on me." Johnson says all he remembers after that was hitting his car door.

Johnson has been heavily involved in the Obama campaign and has even opened up a store on North Market where he sells Obama shirts. He says the beating will not distract him. "Things go on every day and all this seems is it shows that we do have purpose throughout the campaign and we still have work to do after the campaign."

Johnson was discharged on Sunday but he says he will still have to undergo surgery to fix his broken nose and fractured eye socket. He says he can't blow his nose which constantly drips blood because doctors fear it may be shattered and break even more.

Shreveport police say they are investigating and the FBI may also get involved to determine if this is a hate crime.

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Colmes to Coulter: 'You are a hate crime'

David Edwards and Muriel Kane

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter suggested on Monday that she expects an apology from everyone who complained that her harping on President Obama's middle name, Hussein, was a hate crime. However, Fox's token liberal, Alan Colmes refused to oblige her.

Coulter began by telling Colmes, "Lo these many months, when you were accusing me of committing a hate crime ... [the truth about] our president-elect's middle name is that he likes it."

She was referring to Obama's recent announcement that he will use his full name when sworn in as president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Since at least June of 2007, Coulter has been calling the then-candidate as "B. Hussein Obama," a practice which she still continues. When Fox host Neil Cavuto asked her in February, "Why do you keep saying the 'B. Hussein Obama'?" Coulter replied, "Well, that's his name. ... He's probably going to be our next president, President Hussein."

"Not only do you owe me an apology," Coulter insisted to Colmes, "but Michelle Obama owes me an apology for calling it was a 'fear-bomb' we were dropping by calling him Hussein."

"I would like my apology now," she smirked, folding her arms and tossing her head pertly. "I'm ready."

"Not an apology," responded Colmes sternly. "He is following tradition in terms of how a president is sworn in. You purposely underscored his middle name, diminishing his first name, to point out that he had the name of a terrorist!"

Coulter, who had previously noted that Obama "also said that this was to 'reboot' our relations with the Muslim world," insisted in response, "It can not simultaneously be a hate crime to use a man's middle name and ... for him to say 'this is going to change our relations with the Muslim world.'"

"Ann," Colmes finally said in frustration, "I think you are a hate crime."

"Thank you," Coulter replied smugly.

Latest News: Shocker: Necon says 4,000 Americans 'had to die' in Iraq

This video is from Fox's Hannity & Colmes, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.

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ATF: Accelerant poured around Palin's church

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) An accelerant was poured around the exterior of Gov. Sarah Palin's church before fire heavily damaged the building, federal investigators said Monday. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the accelerant was poured at several locations around the church, including entrances.

Lab tests will determine the type of substance involved. Possibilities include gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel or even lamp oil, Agent Nick Starcevic said.

The blaze was set Friday night at the main entrance of the Wasilla Bible Church while a small group, including two children, were inside. No one was injured. Fire authorities were called to the scene at 9:40 p.m., unusually early for many arsonfires, Starcevic said.

"It's kind of odd to do in the evening hours," he said. "I can tell you that most of the arson fires I've worked on are late nighttime, usually when no one is there."

Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, was not at the church at the time of the fire but visited Saturday. Her spokesman, Bill McAllister, said Monday that Palin knew about the accelerants Saturday morning before a statement she authorized was released that day.

During her visit at the church, Palin told an assistant pastor she was sorry if the fire was connected to the "undeserved negative attention" the church has received since she became the vice presidential candidate Aug. 29, McAllister said.

Wasilla Deputy Police Chief Greg Wood said authorities had no immediate suspects or motive.

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Mr. Obama’s Internet Agenda

President-elect Barack Obama recently announced an ambitious plan to build up the nation’s Internet infrastructure as part of his proposed economic stimulus package. Upgrading the Internet is a particularly smart kind of stimulus, one that would spread knowledge, promote entrepreneurship and make this country more competitive globally.

The United States has long been the world leader in technology, but when it comes to the Internet, it is fast falling behind. America now ranks 15th in the world in access to high-speed Internet connections. A cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s agenda is promoting universal, affordable high-speed Internet.

Mr. Obama, who had notable success with online fund-raising and voter turnout, spoke during the presidential campaign about the transformative power of the Internet to improve Americans’ quality of life. He argued that it could, among other things, reduce health care costs, create jobs and make it easier for citizens to participate in government decision-making.

In a speech this month about his economic stimulus plan, he said that he intends to ensure that every child has a chance to get online and that he would use some of the stimulus money to connect libraries and schools. It is a critical goal. Children trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide are deprived of a fair chance to educate themselves and to compete for high-skill, high-paying jobs.

Mr. Obama has also been a strong supporter of “network neutrality,” the principle that Internet service providers should not be able to discriminate against any of the information that they carry. Net neutrality laws are necessary to ensure that Internet service providers do not block content they disagree with or give financial breaks to big tech companies, squeezing out smaller competitors and stifling innovation.

Mr. Obama will need to work with Congress — and fight against corporate lobbyists — to accomplish some of his goals. Some he can achieve on his own. With the right appointments to the Federal Communications Commission, he should be able to get good net neutrality regulations.

“This is the Eisenhower Interstate highway moment for the Internet,” argues Ben Scott, policy director of the media reform group Free Press. Restoring America to its role as the world’s Internet leader could be an important part of Mr. Obama’s presidential legacy.

Original here

Open for Questions: Response

Posted by Dan McSwain

We've launched several features recently that are opening up the two-way dialogue between the Transition team and the community.

The feedback has been encouraging and constructive. Each new feature gives us the chance to refine the ways we facilitate these discussions, and it allows readers to chime in on the process as we grow.

Last week, our Open for Questions feature was particularly well-received: more than 20,000 people cast nearly 1,000,000 votes on questions posed by the community. Overall, just over 10,000 questions were voted up or down and ranked by visitors to the site.

The result is a snapshot of the issues you're concerned about as the pieces for the next administration move into place.

Below are some of the top questions, and the answers that our transition team members have put together as part of the Open for Questions feature:

Q: "Will you lift the ban on Stem Cell research in your first 100 days in office?" James_M, Nashville, TN

A: President-elect Obama is a strong supporter of Federal funding for responsible stem cell research and he has pledged to reverse President Bush's restrictions.

Q: "What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?" Diane, New Jersey

A: President-elect Barack Obama does not believe an economic crisis is an excuse for wasteful and unnecessary spending. As our economic team works with congressional leadership to put together a plan, we will put in place reforms to ensure that your money in invested well. We will also bring Americans back into government by amending executive orders to ensure that communications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White House staff are disclosed to the public. In addition all appointees who lead the executive branch departments and rulemaking agencies will be required to conduct the significant business of the agency in public so that every citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet these debates.

Q: "What will you do to promote science and mathematics education to Elementary and Middle School students?" JasonWyatt, Raleigh, NC

A: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will put children first by investing in early childhood education, making sure our schools are adequately funded and led by high-quality teachers, and reforming No Child Left Behind. They will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. They will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.

Q: "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?" S. Man, Denton

A: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

Q: "What will you do as President to restore the Constitutional protections that have been subverted by the Bush Administration and how will you ensure that our system of checks and balances is renewed?" Kari, Seattle

A: President-elect Obama is deeply committed to restoring the rule of law and respecting constitutional checks and balances.That is why he has pledged to review Bush Administration executive orders. President-elect Obama will also end the abuse of signing statements, and put an end to the politicization that has taken place within the Department of Justice and return that agency to its historic and apolitical mission of fair and impartial administration of justice.

The next Open for Questions feature will go live in the coming days.

Until the next round of questions, check out some of the other features on the site: from community discussions and video responses, to behind-the-scenes video and a "Seat at the Table" with outside groups.

Original here

What Will Become of the Baghdad Shoe Thrower?

By Hamilton Nolan

Muntader al-Zaidi will probably never again do something as awesome as hurling his shoes at the US President during a press conference. But was it worth it, considering what came next?

Al-Zaidi is a 28-year-old journalist for Al Baghdadia, and Iraqi TV station. So what exactly is the penalty for throwing a shoe at Dubya?

[Iraqi Prime Minister] Maliki’s security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until “he was crying like a woman,” said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party, which is led by Mr. Maliki. Mr. Zaidi was then detained on unspecified charges.

Okay! And you can only imagine how his day is going today. It can only get worse. Sure, making Bush hit the deck twice on live TV is worth an ass whupping. But probably not worth a dozen years in an Iraqi prison while being tortured. Luckily, our hero president found a way to turn this into a teaching experience:

[Bush] also called the incident a sign of democracy, saying, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves,” as the man’s screaming could be heard outside.

[But don't worry because his Iraqi TV network "demands" his release so he'll be just fine.] [NYT]

Original here