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Sunday, Sep 25th

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Democrats scold Obama on signing statements

In a letter today to Obama, four senior House Democrats scolded him, saying he is being too much like former President George W. Bush in using the statements to ignore legislation he thinks oversteps the Constitution, the Associated Press reports.

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White House declines to disclose visits by health industry executives

Invoking an argument used by President George W. Bush, the Obama administration has turned down a request from a watchdog group for a list of health industry executives who have visited the White House to discuss the massive healthcare overhaul.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the Secret Service asking about visits from 18 executives representing health insurers, drug makers, doctors and other players in the debate. The group wants the material in order to gauge the influence of those executives in crafting a new healthcare policy.

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Bush Personally Ordered Visit to Ashcroft’s Hospital Bed

According to notes from Ashcroft’s FBI security detail, at 6:20 p.m. that evening Card called the hospital and spoke with an agent in Ashcroft’s security detail, advising him that President Bush would be calling shortly to speak with Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s wife told the agent that Ashcroft would not accept the call. Ten minutes later, the agent called Ashcroft’s Chief of Staff David Ayers at DOJ to request that Ayers speak with Card about the President’s intention to call Ashcroft. The agent conveyed to Ayers Mrs. Ashcroft’s desire that no calls be made to Ashcroft for another day or two. However, at 6:45 p.m., Card and the President called the hospital and, according to the agent’s notes, “insisted on speaking [with Attorney General Ashcroft].” According to the agent’s notes, Mrs. Ashcroft took the call from Card and the President and was informed that Gonzales and Card were coming to the hospital to see Ashcroft regarding a matter involving national security.

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Rove deposed — over eight hour period — in US Attorney firings

There’s “been speculation that he would decline to answer questions on Fifth Amendment grounds,” Luskin said. “That’s a personal privilege; he will not assert it.”

Last year, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Rove to testify about his knowledge concerning the prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, which they alleged was carried out on political grounds after a whistleblower said Rove had a hand in seeking the prosecution. In 2007, Rove was subpoenaed by the Senate about the firing of nine US Attorneys.

Both times, the Bush Administration asserted that Rove was protected by executive privilege; both times, Rove did not appear. Now, with a newly-installed Democratic president, the ice under Rove appears to have thinned.

Rove was subpoenaed in January and again in February b

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Instead of Real Financial Reform, Obama’s Plan capitulates to Wall Street

It is supposed to be the Treasury’s role to represent the public interest. Unfortunately, appointing Treasury Secretaries from the ranks of Wall Street management – or giving Wall Street veto power over the nominee – undermines this mission. Elsewhere in what is supposed to be the regulatory system of public-private checks and balances, the simple tactic of underfunding the criminal justice system, the FBI, state and local prosecutors – or actively blocking them, as George Bush did – leaves the economy without adequate protection against financial fraud and predatory credit. Putting the Congressional financial committee heads up for sale to the highest campaign contributors caps the process of transforming economic democracy into oligarchy.

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Obama Closes Doors on Openness

As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged "presidential communications." The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig's office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a "new era" of openness, "nothing has changed," says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. "For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies."

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Obama Pot Calls Iranian Kettle Black

President Barack Obama, referring to the violent attacks on protesters against the controversial election results in Iran's just-completed presidential election, this week lectured Iran's government, saying, "Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence."

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