Lynching Illinois

blago2This will be short and quick – it’s late. It’s hard to be disgusted by politicians in this world of “Barack the Magic Negro” – but Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has taken it to new level. He has nominated Roland Burris to become the Senator to replace Barack Obama in senate, ignoring the pleas from everyone, in and out of his party to not do so and yet here he goes.   He doesn’t want us to base our decisions on Blagojevich’s issues, but on Buris’ own resumé. Illinois Democrats are brazenly bringing up race to goad the Senate into approving him. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill actually said “I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer and separate the appointee from the appointer.”   We are being told that there are no black senators so we need a black senator.   As a black American this notion is appalling – that just any black man will do. Just as Sarah Palin isn’t a replacement for Hillary Clinton – Roland Burris is no replacement for Barack Obama.

I know I don’t know him – but earlier this month he had the following to say:

“I certainly applaud her actions,” he said of Madigan in a December 13 press conference, according to WBBM. “Illinois is too important to its 18 million citizens to have a chief executive who is now incapacitated.

“The evidence that’s been presented is pretty appalling, should that come out to be the case of what our governor is attempting to do,” he said, according to WBBM.

Today he said he has “no opinion on the governor’s problems.”

Wonder what changed – oh yes, now he’s been nominated to be a Senator. I wonder what passed hands.

Reprint: Bush’s Final F.U.:

Read this in Rolling Stone and it’s a must read.

Rolling Stone: Bush’s Final F.U.

Bush’s Final F.U.

The administration is rushing to enact a host of last-minute regulations that will screw America for years to come


Posted Dec 25, 2008 11:55 AM

With president-elect Barack Obama already taking command of the financial crisis, it’s tempting to think that regime change in America is a done deal. But if George Bush has his way, the country will be ruled by his slash-and-burn ideology for a long time to come.

In its final days, the administration is rushing to implement a sweeping array of “midnight regulations” — de facto laws issued by the executive branch — designed to lock in Bush’s legacy. Under the last- minute rules, which can be extremely difficult to overturn, loaded firearms would be allowed in national parks, uranium mining would be permitted near the Grand Canyon and many injured consumers would no longer be able to sue negligent manufacturers in state courts. Other rules would gut the Endangered Species Act, open millions of acres of wild lands to mining, restrict access to birth control and put local cops to work spying for the federal government.

“It’s what we’ve seen for Bush’s whole tenure, only accelerated,” says Gary Bass, executive director of the nonpartisan group OMB Watch. “They’re using regulation to cement their deregulatory mind-set, which puts corporate interests above public interests.”

While every modern president has implemented last-minute regulations, Bush is rolling them out at a record pace — nearly twice as many as Clinton, and five times more than Reagan. “The administration is handing out final favors to its friends,” says Véronique de Rugy, a scholar at George Mason University who has tracked six decades of midnight regulations. “They couldn’t do it earlier — there would have been too many political repercussions. But with the Republicans having lost seats in Congress and the presidency changing parties, Bush has nothing left to lose.”

The most jaw-dropping of Bush’s rule changes is his effort to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act. Under a rule submitted in November, federal agencies would no longer be required to have government scientists assess the impact on imperiled species before giving the go-ahead to logging, mining, drilling, highway building or other development. The rule would also prohibit federal agencies from taking climate change into account in weighing the impact of projects that increase greenhouse emissions — effectively dooming polar bears to death-by-global-warming. According to Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, “They’ve taken the single biggest threat to wildlife and said, ‘We’re going to pretend it doesn’t exist, for regulatory purposes.'”

Bush is also implementing other environmental rules that will cater to the interests of many of his biggest benefactors:

BIG COAL  In early December, the administration finalized a rule that allows the industry to dump waste from mountaintop mining into neighboring streams and valleys, a practice opposed by the governors of both Tennessee and Kentucky. “This makes it legal to use the most harmful coal-mining technology available,” says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. A separate rule also relaxes air-pollution standards near national parks, allowing Big Coal to build plants next to some of America’s most spectacular vistas — even though nine of 10 EPA regional administrators dissented from the rule or criticized it in writing. “They’re willing to sacrifice the laws that protect our national parks in order to build as many new coal plants as possible,” says Mark Wenzler, director of clean-air programs for the National Parks Conservation Association. “This is the last gasp of Bush and Cheney’s disastrous policy, and they’ve proven there’s no line they won’t cross.”

BIG OIL  In a rule that becomes effective just three days before Obama takes office, the administration has opened up nearly 2 million acres of mountainous lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for the mining of oil shale — an energy-intensive process that also drains precious water resources. “The administration has admitted that it has no idea how much of Colorado’s water supply would be required to develop oil shale, no idea where the power would come from and no idea whether the technology is even viable,” says Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado. What’s more, Bush is slashing the royalties that Big Oil pays for oil-shale mining from 12.5 percent to five percent. “A pittance,” says Salazar.
BIG AGRICULTURE  Factory farms are getting two major Christmas presents from Bush this year. Circumventing the Clean Water Act, the administration has approved last-minute regulations that will allow animal waste from factory farms to seep, unmonitored, into America’s waterways. The regulation leaves it up to the farms themselves to decide whether their pollution is dangerous enough to require them to apply for a permit. “It’s the fox guarding the henhouse — all too literally,” says Pope. The water rule goes into effect December 22nd, and a related rule in the works would exempt factory farms from reporting air pollution from animal waste.

BIG CHEMICAL  In October, two weeks after consulting with industry lobbyists, the White House exempted more than 100 major polluters from monitoring their emissions of lead, a deadly neurotoxin. Seemingly hellbent on a more toxic future, the administration will also allow industry to treat 3 billion pounds of hazardous waste as “recycling” each year, and to burn another 200 million pounds of hazardous waste reclassified as “fuel,” increasing cancer-causing air pollution. The rule change is a reward to unrepentant polluters: Nearly 90 percent of the factories that will be permitted to burn toxic waste have already been cited for violating existing environmental protections.

Environmental rollbacks may take center stage in Bush’s final deregulatory push, but the administration is also promulgating a bevy of rules that will strip workers of labor protections, violate civil liberties, and block access to health care for women and the poor. Among the worst abuses:

LABOR  Under Bush, the Labor Department issued only one major workplace-safety rule in eight years — and that was under a court order. But now the Labor Department is finalizing a rule openly opposed by Obama that would hamper the government’s ability to protect workers from exposure to toxic chemicals. Bypassing federal agencies, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao developed the rule in secret, relying on a report that has been withheld from the public. Under the last-minute changes, federal agencies would be expected to gather unnecessary data on workplace exposure and jump through more bureaucratic hurdles, adding years to an already cumbersome regulatory process.

In another last-minute shift, the administration has rewritten rules to make it harder for workers to take time off for serious medical conditions under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition, the administration has upped the number of hours that long-haul truckers can be on the road. The new rule — nearly identical to one struck down by a federal appeals court last year — allows trucking companies to put their drivers behind the wheel for 11 hours a day, with only 34 hours of downtime between hauls. The move is virtually certain to kill more motorists: Large-truck crashes already kill 4,800 drivers and injure another 76,000 every year.

HEALTH CARE  In late August, the administration proposed a new regulation ostensibly aimed at preventing pharmacy and clinic workers from being forced to participate in abortions. But the wording of the new rule is so vague as to allow providers to deny  any  treatment that anyone in their practice finds objectionable — including contraception, family planning and artificial insemination. Thirteen state attorneys general protested the regulation, saying it “completely obliterates the rights of patients to legal and medically necessary health care services.”

In a rule that went into effect on December 8th, the administration also limited vision and dental care for more than 50 million low-income Americans who rely on Medicaid. “This means the states are going to have to pick up the tab or cut the services at a time when a majority of states are in a deficit situation,” says Bass of OMB Watch. “It’s a horrible time to do this.” To make matters worse, the administration has also raised co-payments for Medicaid, forcing families on poverty wages to pay up to 10 percent of the cost for doctor visits and medicine. One study suggests that co-payments could cause Medicaid patients to skip nearly a fifth of all prescription-drug treatments. “People who have nothing are being asked to pay for services they rely upon to live,” says Elaine Ryan, vice president of government relations for AARP. “Imposing co-pays on the poorest and sickest people in the United States is cynical and cruel.”

NATIONAL SECURITY  Under midnight regulations, the administration is seeking to lock in the domestic spying it began even before 9/11. One rule under consideration would roll back Watergate-era prohibitions barring state and local law enforcement from spying on Americans and sharing that information with U.S. intelligence agencies. “If the federal government announced tomorrow that it was creating a new domestic intelligence agency of more than 800,000 operatives reporting on even the most mundane everyday activities, Americans would be outraged,” says Michael German, a former FBI agent who now serves as national security policy counsel for the ACLU. “This proposed rule change is the final step in creating an America we no longer recognize — an America where everyone is a suspect.”
John Podesta, the transition chief for the Obama administration, has vowed that the new president will leverage his “executive authority” to fight Bush’s last-minute rule changes. But according to experts who study midnight regulations, there’s surprisingly little an incoming executive can do to overturn such rules. The Bush administration succeeded in repealing just three percent of the regulations finalized before Bill Clinton left office in 2001. “Midnight regulations under Bush are being executed early and with great intent,” says Bass of OMB Watch. “And that intent is to lock the next administration into these regulations, making it very difficult for Obama to undo what Bush just did.”

To protect the new rules against repeal, the Bush administration began amping up its last-gasp regulatory process back in May. The goal was to have all new regulations finalized by November 1st, providing enough time to accommodate the 60-day cooling-off period required before major rule changes — those that create an economic impact greater than $100 million — can be implemented.

Now, however, the administration has fallen behind schedule — so it’s gaming the system to push through its rules. In several cases, the Office of Management and Budget has fudged the numbers to classify rules that could have billion-dollar consequences as “non-major” — allowing any changes made through mid-December to take effect in just 30 days, before Obama is inaugurated. The administration’s determination of what constitutes a major change is not subject to review in court, and the White House knows it: Spokesman Tony Fratto crowed that the 60-day deadline is “irrelevant to our process.”

Once a rule is published in the Federal Register, the Obama administration will have limited options for expunging it. It can begin the rule-making process anew, crafting Obama rules to replace the Bush rules, but that approach could take years, requiring time-consuming hearings, scientific fact-finding and inevitable legal wrangling. Or, if the new rules contain legal flaws, a judge might allow the Obama administration to revise them more quickly. Bush’s push to gut the Endangered Species Act, for example, was done in laughable haste, with 15 employees given fewer than 36 hours to review and process more than 200,000 public comments. “The ESA rule is enormously vulnerable to a legal challenge on the basis that there was inadequate public notice and comment,” says Pope of the Sierra Club. “The people who did that reviewing will be put on a witness stand, and it will become clear to a judge that this was a complete farce.” But even that legal process will take time, during which industry will continue to operate under the Bush rules.

The best option for overturning the rules, ironically, may be a gift bestowed on Obama by Newt Gingrich. Known as the Congressional Review Act, it was passed in 1996 to give Congress the option of overriding what GOP leaders viewed at the time as excessive regulation by Bill Clinton. The CRA allows Congress to not only kill a new rule within 60 days, but to do so with a simple, filibuster-immune majority. De Rugy, the George Mason scholar, expects Democrats in the House and Senate to make “very active use of the Congressional Review Act.”

But even this option, it turns out, is fraught with obstacles. First, the CRA requires a separate vote on each individual regulation. Second, the act prohibits reviving any part of a rule that has been squelched. Since Bush’s rules sometimes contain useful reforms — the move to limit the Family and Medical Leave Act also extends benefits for military families — spiking the rules under the CRA would leave Obama unable to restore or augment those benefits in the future. Whatever Obama does will require him to expend considerable political capital, at a time when America faces two wars and an economic crisis of historic proportions.

“It’s going to be very challenging for Obama,” says Bass. “Is he going to want to look forward and begin changing the way government works? Or is he going to look back and fix the problems left by Bush? Either way, it’s a tough call.”

[From Issue 1068-69 — December 25, 2008 – January 8, 2009]

Three Days later, Obama’s victory speech is still amazing

How amazing? It nearly brought me to tears again, that’s how amazing. Now I get to look at it with a new eye. A comment I left in response to another person’s comment, seemed to sum up my feelings. Here is that comment (edited a bit to make sense contextually).

I just watched “the speech” one more time. And I was struck by the following passages:

“In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”

And this:

“But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

It is this very attitude that sold me on President Obama way back in January. The singular thought that if we as Democrats were able to win the White House, that it was our obligation to remember that as President, you are not the leader of the red states or blue states, but the United States (I know – his words).

The feeling of irrelevancy that the Bush administration forced me into, was the worst effect of his Presidency. So bad that I don’t wish it on Republicans. Assigning the status of irrelevant to half the country, is not good for us as a nation, and is among the many reasons we find ourselves in the situation we’re in.

With all that – Obama has so many hopes riding on his Presidency. He has lesser room for failure than any President has every had. But he has something else no other President since JFK can claim – he’s captured the imagination of people that have never felt part of anything ever before. It’s that passion that he must take advantage of if we are to succeed at this stated mission.

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President elect Barack Obama

Up until the moment where it was announced that Barack Obama would become the 44th President of the United States, I remained doubtful. I remember 2000 and 2004 all too well. I told Grace not to put the champagne back until we know for sure – it’s the sports fan’s superstitious  streak that got me. I remain thoroughly amazed and impressed with America as we seemingly got this one right. I quickly wiped a tear from my eye and Iooked forward to a day where my country can return to form and begin to fulfill on the promise that we’ve put aside for eight long years.

Yesterday I volunteered and it allowed me to see people passionately go about their civic duty. It was satisfying to see so many people look past our candidates race and his Muslim sounding last name, to make an inspired choice. A choice that is all about fixing what’s wrong than it is about keeping things the same. It shows that this country is ready for the woman, muslim, jewish, hispanic, asian, or other candidate. It is the example that we all needed to show what is possible.

I have no doubt that there will be times that President Obama will disappoint me. It will be those times that I remember that he is there because he has the daunting responsibility of ruling to a divided country, but that it was this divided country that made him President. It was this very point that made me an Obama supporter – that after eight years of a  administration  that ignored half of the country, it was time to have a President that respected all opinions, regardless of whether or not he agreed.

Change starts today – Voting information

After almost two years of talking, now the candidates get to sit back and hear what we have to say. I’ll be so glad to not see another political commercial for awhile.  

Here’s some election information. Be prepared to wait – I’ve heard first hand of some long waits especially in swing states. Going midday, if you can, is recommended but if you can’t, bring something to pass the time, your iPod, a book, a newspaper, etc.  If the weather is poor in your area, then bring an umbrella or wear a poncho.

As Michael Penn stated in song “The line is long but worth the ride”.


Election 2008 Voting Information

Today, November 4th, is Election Day! Remember to vote—not just for Barack Obama, but for Congressional, state, and local candidates as well.

Where and when do I vote?

Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information by checking out these sites and the hotline below. These resources are good, but not perfect. To be doubly sure, you can also contact  your local elections office.

What should I do before I go?

  • After you’ve entered your address on either  Vote For Change  or  Vote411, read the voting instructions and special rules for your state.
  • Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it.
  • Check out all the voting myths and misinformation to look out for:

What if something goes wrong?

  • Not on the voter list? Make sure you’re at the right polling place, then demand a provisional ballot.
  • If you’re voting on an electronic machine with a paper record, verify that the record is accurate.
  • Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
  • If you encounter a problem, try to videotape the situation and submit it to

Want to do more?

  • Text all of your friends: “Vote Obama today! Pass it on!”
  • Volunteer at your local Obama office. Find an office  here  or  here.

Now, everybody go vote!!!

Not Spencer: Michael Penn Exclusive song – The Count of Pennsylvania

The Not Spencer political series is being extended by one for a special contribution by one of the best singer songwriters of our generation, Michael Penn.  Michael has provided the following song: “The Count of Pennsylvania”, exclusively to A Rubber Door. I think you’ll find the song a worthy end.

Michael and I have talked all through this election – all the way back to the very early primary days and here we are a day before we finally get to have our voice. You have one more day to make a difference – call your friends – volunteer to make calls – write something on your blog. Any or all of the above will help put an end to 8 years of mediocrity and start to recover from the damage done to our economy, our world standing, and the fabric of this country: the citizens of this great country.

When you get into the booth tomorrow – pull the lever for Barack Obama and Joe Biden and as Michael states: “Get in on the landslide”


[audio:The Count Of Pennsulvania.mp3]
the-count-of-pennsylvania (right click and "Save As" to save an MP3 to your computer)

The Count of Pennsylvania

by Michael Penn

The Count of Pennsylvania never left the commonwealth
he loiters in the alley like a shadow of his former self
cast against the brick and mortar
through smoke from pipes and stacks
one more for the listmakers
a statistician’s artifact
a victim of amphetamines,
of cogs and things that let off steam
a market for a cold machine that left him in-between
the customers and soldiers you divide
but it’s rising up, a high tide
stretching out so far and wide
the line is long but worth the ride
so get in on the landslide
get in on the landslide

Michael Penn’s best of can be found here: Palms & Runes, Tarot And Tea: A Michael Penn Collection
Links to the rest of the Not Spencer 2008 campaign series can be found here.