Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The Law is Not a Fringe Issue

Posted in Barack Obama, Bush, law, politics, torture, war crimes by allisonkilkenny on April 30, 2009

abu-ghraib-torture-715244Barbara Herbert, a course director at Tufts University School of Medicine, made a short, but compelling plea in today’s New York Times. Herbert argued that the United States government should convene a truth and reconciliation commission, using the one in South Africa as a model, to investigate into possible crimes committed by the Bush administration. 

Such a commission would allow a nation to (a) find the truth of what happened from multiple perspectives, (b) develop an understanding of how it happened and (c) heal.

A commission isn’t some kind of partisan booby trap thrown together in a frenzied quest for retribution as Harry Reid suggested last week. The formation of a nonpartisan commission also wouldn’t  act as a nefarious tool to dismantle the foundation of The American Way (corrupting the sweet “mysteries” of life,) as Bush apologists like Peggy Noonan claim

A truth commission would use the law as a compass, and its only goal would be to restore order in America. As Herbert wrote, “We need a chance for secular redemption and healing.”

On Tuesday, Jeremy Scahill reported that Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder officially requesting  the appointment of an independent Special Prosecutor to “to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute torture committed against detainees during the Bush administration.” In order to restore credibility to the Justice Department, Holder must adhere to the rule of law, and not partisan demands. He must investigate into possible crimes committed under the Bush administration.

The law is not a fringe issue. Progressives may be the ones demanding an investigative commission, but the issue at stake here is the law itself. That’s not a partisan issue. The law should be sacred to all Americans: Republicans and Democrats. And if Democrats are proven to have been complicit in torture, then they too must be punished according to the law. 

Otherwise, Americans will learn only one lesson: the law does not apply to our leaders. What a terrible lesson to teach young Americans.

Peggy Noonan, Shep Smith, and Jane Harman

Posted in Barack Obama, BTR, Bush, Citizen Radio, politics, war crimes by allisonkilkenny on April 29, 2009

Listen here: http://www.breakthruradio.com/index.php?show=6753

Citizen Radio discusses the human disaster known as Peggy Noonan, and her comments about not investigating Bush administration war crimes because life needs to remain “mysterious.” Wow.

Jamie talks about getting screamed at by a New Yorker at one of his Australia shows, and why Americans think they’re exceptional.

Jane Harman got busted trying to do AIPAC spies a solid, and she got caught by the very same wiretapping program she championed. Irony with a capital “I.”

Shepard Smith went crazy on FOX again, and Citizen Radio thinks that’s super!

Citizen Radio airs every Wednesday over on BTR, and episodes play 24/7 all week. Archived episodes here. Join us on Facebook!

Peggy Noonan Braces For Next Emotional Breakdown

Posted in Barack Obama, Bush, politics, torture by allisonkilkenny on April 25, 2009

john_wayne_toughThe American media has a shockingly short attention span and is prone to bouts of hysteria. Just as September 11th was a game changer that was the Event to Change All Events, so the media tells us that the economic downturn is the new Event to Change All Events. These are unprecedented times. The law must be cast aside in the name of our collective panic attack. Torture be damned! There’s no time for rules! 

We’ve been here before. We even have the same cheerleaders leading the frenzy. I wish I could dismiss people like Peggy Noonan as a silly blogger, but unfortunately she’s considered a “serious” political expert who frequently makes the rounds on Sunday morning panels. So her words are fair game for analysis. Here we go!

Peggy Noonan is a terrible columnist whose first response to tragic events is to rip open her shirt and throw herself at burly men who claim to have a “plan.” When there’s the slightest hint of an impending conflict, Noons practically shouts that she wants a penis inside of her. During the critical weeks after 9/11, she freely expressed her longing for John Wayne because he fits her image of one of those “burly men,” even though Wayne was a draft-dodging, woman-abusing drug addict. 

Now, the Noons chastises Democrats for not thinking critically enough, and falling victim to the “Leader Knows Best” syndrome under Obama’s reign. Fair enough, but Peggy Noonan can’t seriously be lecturing from a pedestal. This is the woman, who just said we shouldn’t investigate into possible war crimes because “some of life has to be mysterious,” and it’s important to “just keep walking.”

Noons opens her column citing the agenda-setter, Matt Drudge, who has sarcastically labeled Obama’s First One Hundred Days, the “Best President Ever Campaign,” something Noons describes being (my emphasis) “marked by an abandonment of critical thinking among otherwise thoughtful men and women who comprise, roughly speaking, the grown-ups of journalism, the old hands of the MSM who have been through many presidents and should know better.”

Sometimes, I wonder how Peggy Noonan doesn’t experience constant brain aneurisms from all of the cognitive dissonance rattling around in her head. Yes, Noons. We need critical thinking. We need investigations into the Bush torture memos. Bush officials need to be held accountable. We can’t just “keep walking.” You’re one of the grown-ups you’re writing about. Except, you’ve regressed to a childlike state (again,) and you’re trembling behind poppy’s legs. Grow up.

Suddenly, the Bush apologist is summarizing those glorious years of Bushie’s war as something that “angered major allies. For seven years there was constant agitation, and the world was allowed to make a caricature of U.S. leadership.” But wait, I thought the Noons loved caricatures. At least, she did in the wake of 9/11. She masturbates writes:

I missed John Wayne.

But now I think . . . he’s back. I think he returned on Sept. 11. I think he ran up the stairs, threw the kid over his back like a sack of potatoes, came back down and shoveled rubble. I think he’s in Afghanistan now, saying, with his slow swagger and simmering silence, “Yer in a whole lotta trouble now, Osama-boy.”

Make sure John doesn’t crack you across the face during one of his drunken stupors, Noons. You wouldn’t believe how fast the romance of saving you from a fictional burning building wears off. Now, Noons performs mental gymnastics to explain why we need critical thinking, but we mustn’t stir up too much trouble will any silly investigations. 

A problem with the release of the [torture memos] is that it opens the way—it probably forces the way—to congressional hearings, or a commission, or an independent prosecutor. It is hard at this point to imagine that what will follow will not prove destructive to—old-fashioned phrase coming—the good of the country.

Here we stare into the eyes of the beast. Yes, Noons. This very well could lead to independent prosecutions, and all kinds of truth-telling, and it could besmirch the names of men you’ve been shamelessly defending for close to a decade. And wouldn’t that be terrible for the country you?

It’s time all parties grow up and pay penance.

Posing as a Bidder, Utah Student Disrupts Government Auction of 150,000 Acres of Wilderness for Oil & Gas Drilling

Posted in environment by allisonkilkenny on December 22, 2008

decristopherwebThis is beautiful.

Democracy Now

In a national broadcast exclusive, University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher explains how he “bought” 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from drilling. The sale had been strongly opposed by many environmental groups. Stephen Bloch of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said, “This is the fire sale, the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry.”

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
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Shoe-tosser Tortured, Says Iraqi TV

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 15, 2008

 

Urgent, just reported: Al-Zaidi in U.S. run Camp Cropper prison
http://www.roadstoiraq.com/2008/12/16/urgent-just-reported-al-zaidi-in-us-run-camp-cropper-prison/
 75801_2
Iraqi TV al-Sharqiya just reported on the news that AL-Zaidi is transferred to Camp Cropper prison [the Airport prison, managed by the American forces].
The TV Channel announced that Al-Zaidi is in a difficult condition, with broken ribs and signs of tortures on his thighs. Also he cannot move his right arm.

What Wasn’t a Total Lie?

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008
LIES! ALL LIES!

LIES! ALL LIES!

Huffington Post is reporting that the Bush family plans to move back to Dallas in January, and not the Crawford Ranch as previously reported.

I see. What compels these people to pathologically lie about every minute detail of their existence? Okay, I get lying about the phone-tapping. I get lying about torture. I even get lying about WMDs. I’m not saying these lies are morally just, but I understand why someone would lie about these things. Torture and phone-tapping look bad, and the WMDs thing violated international laws.

But why lie about the ranch? It seems like a pathetic, last-ditch effort to finish a fairy tale that never existed. The poor, Texas cowboy becomes president of the United States. Except, it was never real. The poor boy is a rich, draft-dodging smartass, who has failed miserably at everything, including playing Commander in Chief. In 2000, his Neo-Conservative cave-dwellers, including Karl Rove, stole the election. He proceeded to oversee arguably eight of the worst years in the history of the United States.

The economy is in the shitter. People are losing their homes. Our infrastructure is crumbling and our educational system is gimped and wandering aimlessly in circles. America is also being left behind during the Green Technology Revolution. We’re coming in last place on all fronts.

And now, even the myth about Bush sauntering off into a Crawford Ranch sunset turns out to be a hoax.

What a big fucking surprise.

Bush Pushes Through Last-Minute Deregulations

Posted in Bush by allisonkilkenny on November 22, 2008

 george-bush-leads-the-us-towarDemocracy Now! 

As the media focuses on President-elect Obama and the transition of power here in Washington, the Bush administration is quietly trying to push through a wide array of federal regulations before President Bush leaves office in January.

Up to ninety proposed regulations could be finalized by the outgoing administration, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment. According to the Washington Post, the new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era. They include rules that could weaken workplace safety protections, allow local police to spy in the so-called “war on terror” and make it easier for federal agencies to ignore the Endangered Species Act.

While it’s nothing new for outgoing administrations to try and enact these so-called “midnight regulations,” the Bush administration has accelerated the process to ensure the changes it wants will be finalized by November 22nd. That’s sixty days before the next administration takes control. Most federal rules go into effect sixty days after they’ve been finalized, and it would be a major bureaucratic undertaking for the Obama administration to reverse federal rules already in effect.

We speak to Matthew Madia of the watchdog group OMB Watch.

See the video here.
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Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact

Posted in Barack Obama, torture by allisonkilkenny on November 11, 2008
Former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan, leader of Obama's intelligence-transition team. (AP)

Former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan, leader of Obama intelligence transition team. (AP)

Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.

Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques — which some consider torture — by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies.

Mr. Obama is being advised largely by a group of intelligence professionals, including some who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration. They say he is likely to fill key intelligence posts with pragmatists.

“He’s going to take a very centrist approach to these issues,” said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. “Whenever an administration swings too far on the spectrum left or right, we end up getting ourselves in big trouble.”

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush’s counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting “excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency.”

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA’s interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.

Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.

The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.

The intelligence-transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik, say officials close to the matter. Mr. Brennan is viewed as a potential candidate for a top intelligence post. Ms. Miscik left amid a slew of departures from the CIA under then-Director Porter Goss.

Advisers caution that few decisions will be made until the team gets a better picture of how the Bush administration actually goes about gathering intelligence, including covert programs, and there could be a greater shift after a full review.

The Obama team plans to review secret and public executive orders and recent Justice Department guidelines that eased restrictions on domestic intelligence collection. “They’ll be looking at existing executive orders, then making sure from Jan. 20 on there’s going to be appropriate executive-branch oversight of intelligence functions,” Mr. Brennan said in an interview shortly before Election Day.

The early transition effort is winning praise from moderate Democrats. “He’s surrounded himself with excellent people — an excellent bipartisan group,” said Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who is chairwoman of the House homeland-security subcommittee on intelligence.

Civil-liberties and human-rights advocates, who helped Mr. Obama win election, are seeking both a reversal of Bush administration policies and expanded investigations into possible illegal actions when the administration sought to track down terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“We need to understand what happened,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office.

Most of those being discussed as candidates for director of national intelligence and director of the CIA have staked out a middle ground between safeguarding civil liberties and aggressively pursuing nontraditional adversaries.

Mr. Brennan is a leading contender for one of the two jobs, say some advisers. He declined to comment on personnel matters. Gen. James L. Jones, a former North Atlantic Treaty Organization commander; Thomas Fingar, the chief of analysis for the intelligence director; Joan A. Dempsey, who served in top intelligence and Pentagon posts; former Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana, who served on the 9/11 Commission; and Ms. Harman have also been mentioned. Ms. Harman has also been cited as a potential secretary of homeland security.

“I’m very flattered that some folks somewhere think I would be qualified for a number of positions,” she said. “But I’m also looking forward to an eighth term in Congress working on many of these issues.”

None of the others could be reached for comment.

Another option for Mr. Obama would be to retain current intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who has said he would stay on for a reasonable time until a successor is named. CIA Director Michael V. Hayden also is open to considering an extension of his time in office, according to a senior intelligence official.

However, Mr. Obama voted against Mr. Hayden’s nomination as CIA director to signal his frustration with the administration’s warrantless-surveillance program, which Mr. Hayden helped launch as National Security Agency director.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks

Posted in Economy by allisonkilkenny on November 10, 2008

With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policyno-strings-bailout-1

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 10, 2008; A01

 

The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration’s request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill. When they found out, some legislators were furious. Some congressional staff members have privately concluded that the notice was illegal. But they have worried that saying so publicly could unravel several recent bank mergers made possible by the change and send the economy into an even deeper tailspin.

“Did the Treasury Department have the authority to do this? I think almost every tax expert would agree that the answer is no,” said George K. Yin, the former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan congressional authority on taxes. “They basically repealed a 22-year-old law that Congress passed as a backdoor way of providing aid to banks.”

The story of the obscure provision underscores what critics in Congress, academia and the legal profession warn are the dangers of the broad authority being exercised by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in addressing the financial crisis. Lawmakers are now looking at whether the new notice was introduced to benefit specific banks, as well as whether it inappropriately accelerated bank takeovers.

The change to Section 382 of the tax code — a provision that limited a kind of tax shelter arising in corporate mergers — came after a two-decade effort by conservative economists and Republican administration officials to eliminate or overhaul the law, which is so little-known that even influential tax experts sometimes draw a blank at its mention. Until the financial meltdown, its opponents thought it would be nearly impossible to revamp the section because this would look like a corporate giveaway, according to lobbyists.

Andrew C. DeSouza, a Treasury spokesman, said the administration had the legal authority to issue the notice as part of its power to interpret the tax code and provide legal guidance to companies. He described the Sept. 30 notice, which allows some banks to keep more money by lowering their taxes, as a way to help financial institutions during a time of economic crisis. “This is part of our overall effort to provide relief,” he said.

The Treasury itself did not estimate how much the tax change would cost, DeSouza said.

A Tax Law ‘Shock’

The guidance issued from the IRS caught even some of the closest followers of tax law off guard because it seemed to come out of the blue when Treasury’s work seemed focused almost exclusively on the bailout.

“It was a shock to most of the tax law community. It was one of those things where it pops up on your screen and your jaw drops,” said Candace A. Ridgway, a partner at Jones Day, a law firm that represents banks that could benefit from the notice. “I’ve been in tax law for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

More than a dozen tax lawyers interviewed for this story — including several representing banks that stand to reap billions from the change — said the Treasury had no authority to issue the notice.

Several other tax lawyers, all of whom represent banks, said the change was legal. Like DeSouza, they said the legal authority came from Section 382 itself, which says the secretary can write regulations to “carry out the purposes of this section.”

Section 382 of the tax code was created by Congress in 1986 to end what it considered an abuse of the tax system: companies sheltering their profits from taxation by acquiring shell companies whose only real value was the losses on their books. The firms would then use the acquired company’s losses to offset their gains and avoid paying taxes.

Lawmakers decried the tax shelters as a scam and created a formula to strictly limit the use of those purchased losses for tax purposes.

But from the beginning, some conservative economists and Republican administration officials criticized the new law as unwieldy and unnecessary meddling by the government in the business world.

“This has never been a good economic policy,” said Kenneth W. Gideon, an assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy under President George H.W. Bush and now a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm that represents banks.

The opposition to Section 382 is part of a broader ideological battle over how the tax code deals with a company’s losses. Some conservative economists argue that not only should a firm be able to use losses to offset gains, but that in a year when a company only loses money, it should be entitled to a cash refund from the government.

During the current Bush administration, senior officials considered ways to implement some version of the policy. A Treasury paper in December 2007 — issued under the names of Eric Solomon, the top tax policy official in the department, and his deputy, Robert Carroll — criticized limits on the use of losses and suggested that they be relaxed. A logical extension of that argument would be an overhaul of 382, according to Carroll, who left his position as deputy assistant secretary in the Treasury’s office of tax policy earlier this year.

Yet lobbyists trying to modify the obscure section found that they could get no traction in Congress or with the Treasury.

“It’s really been the third rail of tax policy to touch 382,” said Kevin A. Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

‘The Wells Fargo Ruling’

As turmoil swept financial markets, banking officials stepped up their efforts to change the law.

Senior executives from the banking industry told top Treasury officials at the beginning of the year that Section 382 was bad for businesses because it was preventing mergers, according to Scott E. Talbott, senior vice president for the Financial Services Roundtable, which lobbies for some of the country’s largest financial institutions. He declined to identify the executives and said the discussions were not a concerted lobbying effort. Lobbyists for the biotechnology industry also raised concerns about the provision at an April meeting with Solomon, the assistant secretary for tax policy, according to talking points prepared for the session.

DeSouza, the Treasury spokesman, said department officials in August began internal discussions about the tax change. “We received absolutely no requests from any bank or financial institution to do this,” he said.

Although the department’s action was prompted by spreading troubles in the financial markets, Carroll said, it was consistent with what the Treasury had deemed in the December report to be good tax policy.

The notice was released on a momentous day in the banking industry. It not only came 24 hours after the House of Representatives initially defeated the bailout bill, but also one day after Wachovia agreed to be acquired by Citigroup in a government-brokered deal.

The Treasury notice suddenly made it much more attractive to acquire distressed banks, and Wells Fargo, which had been an earlier suitor for Wachovia, made a new and ultimately successful play to take it over.

The Jones Day law firm said the tax change, which some analysts soon dubbed “the Wells Fargo Ruling,” could be worth about $25 billion for Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo declined to comment for this article.

The tax world, meanwhile, was rushing to figure out the full impact of the notice and who was responsible for the change.

Jones Day released a widely circulated commentary that concluded that the change could cost taxpayers about $140 billion. Robert L. Willens, a prominent corporate tax expert in New York City, said the price is more likely to be $105 billion to $110 billion.

Over the next month, two more bank mergers took place with the benefit of the new tax guidance. PNC, which took over National City, saved about $5.1 billion from the modification, about the total amount that it spent to acquire the bank, Willens said. Banco Santander, which took over Sovereign Bancorp, netted an extra $2 billion because of the change, he said. A spokesman for PNC said Willens’s estimate was too high but declined to provide an alternate one; Santander declined to comment.

Attorneys representing banks celebrated the notice. The week after it was issued, former Treasury officials now in private practice met with Solomon, the department’s top tax policy official. They asked him to relax the limitations on banks even further, so that foreign banks could benefit from the tax break, too.

Congress Looks for Answers

No one in the Treasury informed the tax-writing committees of Congress about this move, which could reduce revenue by tens of billions of dollars. Legislators learned about the notice only days later.

DeSouza, the Treasury spokesman, said Congress is not normally consulted about administrative guidance.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Finance Committee, was particularly outraged and had his staff push for an explanation from the Bush administration, according to congressional aides.

In an off-the-record conference call on Oct. 7, nearly a dozen Capitol Hill staffers demanded answers from Solomon for about an hour. Several of the participants left the call even more convinced that the administration had overstepped its authority, according to people familiar with the conversation.

But lawmakers worried about discussing their concerns publicly. The staff of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, had asked that the entire conference call be kept secret, according to a person with knowledge of the call.

“We’re all nervous about saying that this was illegal because of our fears about the marketplace,” said one congressional aide, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “To the extent we want to try to publicly stop this, we’re going to be gumming up some important deals.”

Grassley and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have publicly expressed concerns about the notice but have so far avoided saying that it is illegal. “Congress wants to help,” Grassley said. “We also have a responsibility to make sure power isn’t abused and that the sensibilities of Main Street aren’t left in the dust as Treasury works to inject remedies into the financial system.”

Carol Guthrie, spokeswoman for the Democrats on the Finance Committee, said it is in frequent contact with the Treasury about the financial rescue efforts, including how it exercises authority over tax policy.

Lawmakers are considering legislation to undo the change. According to tax attorneys, no one would have legal standing to file a lawsuit challenging the Treasury notice, so only Congress or Treasury could reverse it. Such action could undo the notice going forward or make it clear that it was never legal, a move that experts say would be unlikely.

But several aides said they were still torn between their belief that the change is illegal and fear of further destabilizing the economy.

“None of us wants to be blamed for ruining these mergers and creating a new Great Depression,” one said.

Some legal experts said these under-the-radar objections mirror the objections to the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq.

“It’s just like after September 11. Back then no one wanted to be seen as not patriotic, and now no one wants to be seen as not doing all they can to save the financial system,” said Lee A. Sheppard, a tax attorney who is a contributing editor at the trade publication Tax Analysts. “We’re left now with congressional Democrats that have spines like overcooked spaghetti. So who is going to stop the Treasury secretary from doing whatever he wants?”

Yes We Can ________

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on November 9, 2008

319193018v1_350x350_frontIt’s a new day and a new slogan for Obama supporters. Overnight, the infamous “Yes We Can” transformed into “Yes We Did.” Voters proclaimed it from their Facebook statuses, their Twitter updates, and I even saw the affirmation branded across the chest of a baby’s jumper.

A strange thing happens when you ask an Obama supporter what the subject of their slogan entails. What did they do? Most reply that the “Did” means collectively supporting and electing the first African-American president. Anyone with a beating heart knows this is indeed a momentous occasion, and it’s very moving to see relatives of MLK celebrating the evolution in American society.

But by that definition of the “Did,” the journey is over. Yes We Did Elect A Black President. For some, the slogan means Yes We Did Elect Someone Better Than Bush. True, but by that definition, John McCain would have been better than George Bush, and I like to give Obama supports more credit than assuming they would vote for the lesser of two evils.

Other Obama supporters claim a massive overhaul of the executive agenda is their “Did.” And early signs are encouraging with the Obama camp claiming they’re ready to reverse the Bush administration’s stacks of ill-conceived executive orders. However, there is no collective citizen mandate rumbling from the people to help guide Obama’s fledgling White House.

If the people aren’t asking anything of Obama, then he owes them nothing in return. That’s like you right now being pissed at me for not having mailed you twenty dollars. You didn’t ask me for money, so why should I have sent you anything? (I’m not giving you money.)

Yes We Did What? Elect Barack Obama on good faith alone? It appears Obamanites think their journey is over, and that good people are at the helm, and all will be well.

But Obama is indebted to Wall Street for about $9.5 million. That amount of cash transforms into favors once your guy gets elected. Obama will be hesitant to strongly regulate the billions of bailout dollars if the people he’s dealing out the cash to are his donation buddies. On day one, Wall Street will thrust a litany of demands before president Obama, but the American people will not be represented in the Oval Office. Yes We Did Leave Our President with the Wolves.

Others claim the “Did” is a movement toward universal health care. It’s totally illogical to assume Obama will defy his insurance company friends and his past rhetoric, and suddenly adopt single-payer health care. Thousands of physicians have already gone on record to say that Obama’s idea for a hybrid of private health insurance plans and government subsidies will not work, and in fact has already failed in Oregon, Minnesota, Washington and several other states, including Massachusetts, whose second go-round at incremental reform is already failing.

It’s not enough to know in the warmest places of your little hearts that Obama really is a good man, and he wants to end Americans’ suffering. The American people have to swiftly demand single-payer health care, or the insurance companies will greet Obama at the White House and quickly neuter any plans for universal health care coverage.

Yes We Did Elect a Good Man. President-elect Obama does seem like a decent guy, and a good family man, but the government system doesn’t care if he’s a good man. It’s impossible for Obama to keep his fingers on the pulse of the nation when he’s living in a severed limb like Washington. It will take an engaged citizenry living in the real, breathing world to help him fight every step of the way.

Now is the time to outline a plan for the Big Four, four ultra-important demands that need to be addressed within the first 100 days. I would suggest something like: universal health care, strong regulation of the bailout cash, ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (enough of this Afghanistan is the “good war” silliness,) and serious movements toward building a green economy and ending our dependency on foreign oil.

Google the issue nearest and dearest to your heart, find a local group that shares your agenda, and get together. Your strength is in numbers. If you’re not really the go-out-and-change-the-world type, just add your name as a contribution, or open your wallet to an already established Progressive group like November5.org.

It’s not enough to simply watch over president Obama, either. As director Eugene Jarecki explains, the three branches of government are like the stand-off in a Quentin Tarantino film with each body aiming a gun at someone else. It’s not enough to change one part. We have to change them all. Obamanites must also monitor the behavior of their Congressional representatives and put pressure on them to implement the Big Four.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. But that’s the point. Democracy is a constant battle to suppress the evil motives of corrupt politicians. Or, in the words of our beloved Dubya: “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

He will be missed.

Add your voice to the Yes We Are forces. Yes We Are Living Wage Warriors. Yes We Are Congress Watchdogs. Stay alert, engaged, and don’t be afraid to offer Obama some tough love. He can take it. He’s already asking for help with his Change.gov website, so get working.

This is an exciting time. Unlike the bullheaded asshole playing Snood in the White House for the past eight years, Barack Obama is an intelligent, reasonable, open politician that we have the chance of influencing if we are at the negotiation table alongside Big Business. But we have to demand our seat the table. No one is going to come hand it to us.

So I would suggest the Yes We Did camp change their slogan to Yes We Will Be, or Yes We Are, but they can’t quit yet.