White House dumps Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen withdrew her nomination yesterday for head of the Office of Legal Counsel, saying in a statement,

Restoring OLC to its best nonpartisan traditions was my primary objective for my anticipated service in this administration. Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength. I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly.
Sam Stein posted the full text of Johnsen's statement and commented,

The withdrawal represents a major blow to progressive groups and civil liberties advocates who had pushed for Johnsen to end up in the office that previously housed, among others, John Yoo, the author of the infamous torture memos under George W. Bush.

But the votes, apparently, weren't there. Johnsen had the support of Sen Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) but was regarded skeptically by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) -- primarily for her positions on torture and the investigation of previous administration actions. A filibuster, in the end, was likely sustainable. Faced with this calculus, the White House chose not to appoint Johnsen during Senate recess, which would have circumvented a likely filibuster but would have kept her in the position for less than two years.

A White House statement said the president is searching for a replacement nominee and will ask the Senate to confirm that person to head the Office of Legal Counsel quickly. I still think the Obama should have included Johnsen in a group of recess appointments he made last month. Jake Tapper quoted an unnamed Senate source as saying the White House "didn't have the stomach for the debate" on her nomination. It doesn't reflect well on Obama or on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Johnsen never got a vote in the Senate, even after it was clear there were 60 votes in her favor last year (before the Massachusetts Senate special election).

Just what the Gulf of Mexico needs: another oil well

Oil from BP's blown-out Deepwater Horizon well continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and will do so until August at the earliest. In response, the Obama administration extended a moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months

last week. However, the president also "quietly allowed a three-week-old ban on drilling in shallow water to expire" last week (hat tip Open Left). As a result,

 

 

Federal regulators approved Wednesday the first new Gulf of Mexico oil well since President Barack Obama lifted a brief ban on drilling in shallow water, even while deepwater projects remain frozen after the massive BP spill.

 

The Minerals Management Service granted a new drilling permit sought by Bandon Oil and Gas for a site about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana and 115 feet below the ocean's surface. It's south of Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve, far to the west of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the BP spill.

 

Chris Bowers put it mildly when he described the Obama administration's action here as "difficult to fathom." The president is giving a speech on the economy today and will talk about investing in alternative energy, but like all my parenting books say, actions speak louder than words. The greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP doesn't know how to stop it, but it's business as usual at the Minerals Management Service. Nor is today's permit approval an isolated case:

 

In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

 

The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Words fail me, so you'll have to share your thoughts in this thread.

There's more...

Just what the Gulf of Mexico needs: another oil well

Oil from BP's blown-out Deepwater Horizon well continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and will do so until August at the earliest. In response, the Obama administration extended a moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months last week. However, the president also "quietly allowed a three-week-old ban on drilling in shallow water to expire" last week (hat tip Open Left). As a result,

Federal regulators approved Wednesday the first new Gulf of Mexico oil well since President Barack Obama lifted a brief ban on drilling in shallow water, even while deepwater projects remain frozen after the massive BP spill.

The Minerals Management Service granted a new drilling permit sought by Bandon Oil and Gas for a site about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana and 115 feet below the ocean's surface. It's south of Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve, far to the west of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the BP spill.

Chris Bowers put it mildly when he described the Obama administration's action here as "difficult to fathom." The president is giving a speech on the economy today and will talk about investing in alternative energy, but like all my parenting books say, actions speak louder than words. The greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP doesn't know how to stop it, but it's business as usual at the Minerals Management Service. Nor is today's permit approval an isolated case:

In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Words fail me, so you'll have to share your thoughts in this thread.

Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots is not just another Obama book

My name is John Presta and my book titled Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it, is my first book and was released on January 20, 2010. The book has been released in the UK on March 20, 2010. I finally did it. I not only completed a manuscript, but I was able to get it published by the perfect publisher, the Elevator Group. The book I set out initially to write was a celebration of books, bookselling, and grassroots organizing. And I wanted to be sure it was not just another Obama book. But I must point out that when I started writing my book, there were only a handful of Obama books on the market.

I started writing the book in late 2006 and I had already assumed he would run for President of the United States and win. When I met New Yorker Editor David Remnick, he said my book, "John & Michelle, who knew long before with gratitude, David Remnick." I was also honored when Remnick cited my book in The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama and quoted several passages. During a time when so much is being written and said about "The Tea Party" and its alleged successes, it is important for us Democrats and progressives to get back to the basics. The Grassroots. Start planting more seeds. We have to show what we can do again. The President has lost touch with the grassroots (the subject of another posting), and we must help bring him and his White House staff back. As we did before, we must lead from the bottom-up. I am in the process of initiating a "Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots movement," in my own community and hope it will spread throughout the country. Again, I want to lead from the bottom-up. We did it before and it was wildly successful. What this book does not cover in any kind of depth are people such as David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Mayor Richard Daley, Rahm Emanuel. Rahm Emanuel is encountered briefly in the book. Emanuel was not a supporter of Obama in 2004 Democratic primary for the United States Senate and was "neutral" during the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary. The reviews of the book thus far have been encouraging here. And here. And I think this is my favorite here. I wanted the world to know about the achievements of this special group of people: your local independent bookseller. I hoped to bring attention to the great things independent booksellers do for their communities everyday and hope that an increasing number of independent booksellers will tell their stories. I wanted to do for bookselling what Barack Obama has done for politics. The book details the success of two independent booksellers, me and my wife Michelle, how we helped launched the political career of Barack Obama with a hands-on approach. In bookselling, we call it "hand selling." We hand sold Barack Obama to anyone that would listen. I wanted to inspire interest in books and in bookstores. I point out in my book the importance of several Chicago area bookstores to Barack Obama’s political life and his personal life. It starts with our own store, Reading on Walden Bookstore. There was his community bookstore, 57th Street Books, along with its sister store down the street, Seminary Coop Bookstore. Obama also love to visit Powells Bookstore (of Chicago), just east of 57th Street Books. Obama received the endorsement of Congresswomen Jan Schakowsky at Women and Children First Bookstore in December of 2003. The endorsement was huge for Obama and was likely, as author Malcolm Gladwell would say, the Tipping Point of that campaign. The back-story of the book is simple, how to overcome obstacles. An obstacle is a barrier worth overcoming. The barriers in Obama's way were plentiful and we worked to remove those barriers. It is about getting up after you have been knocked down. The obscure State Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, lost a Congressional race to an “entrenched incumbent,” Congressman Bobby Rush. Obama was knocked down and we were knocked down with him. We felt it as intensely as he felt it. In the early fall of 1999, we met Dan Shomon, campaign manager at that time for the obscure State Senator from Hyde Park in the Chicago area, Barack Obama. Shomon wanted our support for this man named Obama. Our initial response to Shomon was lukewarm. Because of Shomon’s persistence and tenacity, he was able to convince us to eventually support Obama and support him in a big way. We organized a candidates' forum for the Congressional race against Congressman Bobby Rush. The candidates' forum was a smashing success for Obama. 600 people attended the event and were introduced to Obama. The community came to love Obama. Unfortunately, Obama lost this race to Bobby Rush. He had “lost the battle, but he won the war,” in the words of long-time aide Al Kindle. Obama, in his own words, was “spanked” by Rush, but proceeded to pick himself up the next day because he believed in himself and his message. The book is about how my wife Michelle and I were emotionally effected by this defeat and how we picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off and helped Obama in future elections. The obstacle was this haunting defeat. For us it was the elephant in the room. Immediately after his defeat on March 21, 2000, we ordered a dozen copies (signed) of his book, Dreams from My Father, and placed them on the shelf. And they stayed on the shelf from March 2000 through March of 2004. We would not and could not remove them. On March 17, 2004, the day after Obama won the Democratic primary for United States Senate, the books vanished. They were bought quickly. There was another elephant in the room. This man Obama, we believed, would one day become President of the United States. Could Obama overcome a crushing defeat in a Congressional race and inexplicably, come back and win a statewide, United States Senate race against some of the most formidable opponents in Illinois politics. Then capture the White House? What are the odds? For us it was not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. We would stand by Obama, despite the loss. We stood by him in a tough primary fight in 2004 for a seat in the United States Senate, and this time he won. He personally asked us to support a local statewide candidate in 2006, as a test of his political muscle and political relevance and again he won. In spite of the opposition of the entrenched party leaders. Then in early 2007, he announced for the Presidency. And through a long struggle from lessons he had learned back in 1999, he won the Presidency. I started to write my story during this period. And two years later, a book is born. The book is a recording of American History of the Obama Presidency. The book explains why were we so heavily recruited by the Obama campaign. Why would a little child, Sofia Clute, call us “Obama’s bookstore.” She would say to her dad during that period, “Daddy, take me to Obama’s Bookstore.” In our community, we will forever identified with Obama. We were an ordinary bookstore run by ordinary people that made extraordinary achievements. We believed in ourselves and believed that books are not luxuries but essentials. We believed that books have transformative value and that books teach valuable lessons about life such as being physical health, spiritual health and financial health. This is the story of how our community involvement led the Barack Obama campaign to our little bookstore. We were reluctant to embrace this obscure State Senator and it was not until Dan Shomon, the Obama’s campaign manager in 2000, mentioned that Obama was an author. He wrote a book titled Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. That got our attention. It mattered little to us that the book had limited commercial success to that point. That is not what great literature is about but it is about the writing. And Obama’s book was well written. The book was a great introduction to this man, Barack Obama. It parallels the life of the book, Dreams from My Father, and the life of the man, Barack Obama. We reinvested a large part of ourselves into the community and as such our level of community involvement. We further extended that reach beyond the doors of the bookstore and into the streets of the community to help make the community a better place to live for all. Businesses not only should reinvest back into their communities, it is essential. We discuss our transformation from being just booksellers to community activists. How it all began after a series of break-ins at our store, which motivated us to not sit idly and allow these terrible things to happen to us and more important, to happen to our beloved community. The story is about how this bookstore transformed our lives and how the bookstore transformed other people's lives. We give examples of specific books that can help people transform their lives. It is, if you will, a book about books, a biography of books, a short history of books. The easy part for me was getting it all down in a readable form. The difficult part was finding the right publisher that would stand behind the book and be as enthusiastic as I was about the book and its content. Again, mission accomplished. I discovered, through the social networking site www.Linked.com, Sheilah Vance, President and owner of the Elevator Group. Sheilah started her own publishing company in 2005 and knows what it takes to win elections and keep the electorate energized. Sheilah is also learning what it takes to sell books. Sheilah is a former member of Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee and former press secretary to Robert P. Casey, Sr. when he ran his successful campaign for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1986. Sheilah recognized my story in Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots of how everyday people can make a difference that changes the country and the world will let the electorate see that they, too, could be the next Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Sheilah is planning a promotional campaign with buttons and rally signs at book signings, campaign style. This book will be a campaign. A political campaign. A political grassroots campaign to sell books. A great campaign would be to make the book number one and outsell Sarah Palin's book. This book has a better message and I actually wrote it myself, although my publisher, Sheilah Vance, did a great job in editing the final manuscript. Help me make this book a bestseller and recapture the narrative from the Republicans and the Tea Party. Let's help to rally the base of the Democratic Party. Yes, we don't like the health care legislation that was passed. It is just the beginning. Had McCain been elected, we wouldn't be having this health care discussion of a "bad bill." At best, some watered-down, non-binding, "patient's bill of rights." It is what we expect from the party of "no," the Republicans.

Chicago City Hall Examiner and The Chicago Grassroots Political Examiner.

John is the author of an upcoming book, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. The book can be ordered from many places, preferably your local independent bookseller at Indie Bound. It can be ordered from another great independent, Powells Bookstore in Portland, OR. Or if you insist, from Amazon.com. Or Barnes and Noble. Or Borders. Or even Sears.

Miss Him Yet?!

There’s something terribly shocking taking place, and I can honestly say a never anticipated it this soon: the creeping rehabilitation of George W. Bush. He was a uniquely failed president; so miserable was he, his popularity collapsed (not over anything huge, except the negligent loss of an iconic American city) in less than a year into his second term. And it never recovered. Quite the contrary, on Jan. 20, 2009, minutes after his successor had been sworn in, millions of his erstwhile subjects treated the 43rd president with a pretty iconic farewell.

But sure enough, as a testament to our collective amnesia, people are actually beginning to pine for the semi-retarded ersatz cowboy. (Smooth, articulate, and fashionable was he.) And by people, this apparently includes establishment liberal voices like Peter Beinart, Mo Dowd, and Eugene Robinson.

Byron York is the fellow who noticed the trend in the Washington Examiner a couple of days ago:

"It's time for W. to weigh in," writes the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Bush, Dowd explains, understands that "you can't have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam." Dowd finds it "odd" that Obama seems less sure on that matter. But to set things back on the right course, she says, "W. needs to get his bullhorn back out" -- a reference to Bush's famous "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!" speech at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001.

 

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is also looking for an assist from Bush. "I…would love to hear from former President Bush on this issue," Robinson wrote Tuesday in a Post chat session. "He held Ramadan iftar dinners in the White House as part of a much broader effort to show that our fight against the al-Qaeda murderers who attacked us on 9/11 was not a crusade against Islam. He was absolutely right on this point, and it would be helpful to hear his views."

 

And Peter Beinart, a former editor of the New Republic, is also feeling some nostalgia for the former president. "Words I never thought I'd write: I pine for George W. Bush," Beinart wrote Tuesday in The Daily Beast. "Whatever his flaws, the man respected religion, all religion." Beinart longs for the days when Bush "used to say that the 'war on terror' was a struggle on behalf of Muslims, decent folks who wanted nothing more than to live free like you and me…"

Conservative ideologues seem to be having a blast in the Obama era. Out of power and free of the Bush albatross, they’re content with gleefully firing away at current failed crew. (Watch Charles Krauthammer the next time he’s on television snarking Obama; at times he looks like he’s going to burst out of his clothes with smug self-satisfaction.)

There's more...

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