Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Other Job

Yes, I suppose if I had any readers, they're gone by now. I'm being worked nigh unto death here in my other life as an IT systems jack-of-all-trades. And just to give you an idea of the kinds of things that come under that category: The other day when I was dashing from one issue to another, one of the staff (been here for decades) stopped me and said she'd tried to print something, but the printer wasn't working. I told her to try the other printer she's connected to, and I'd get back to her as soon as I could. She then said, "Do you think it could be because it doesn't have any paper?" Ordinarily, that would be funny. But considering all the stuff I'm dealing with the last couple of months, it just made me want to sit down and cry. But I didn't have time.

There were a couple of comments on YWA that needed to be perused and published. I haven't checked in for a few days, so I don't know how long they've been there. Apologies to whoever made them. I do so like comments. But I am so brain addled at the moment that I didn't really read them. I just published them. Without checking to see what posts they were on. Further apologies.

Hope you are all doing better than I am. Maybe we'll get back together some time.

What Will Happen to Karl?

Following the 20-14 vote of the House Judiciary Committee to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress, it's not entirely clear what will happen next.


Not nearly enough, if anything.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Not to be Trusted

Britain can no longer believe what Americans tell us about torture, an MPs' report to be published today claims. They also call for an immediate investigation into allegations that the UK government has itself 'outsourced' the torture of its own nationals to Pakistan.

In a damning criticism of US integrity, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said ministers should no longer take at face value statements from senior politicians, including George Bush, that America does not resort to torture in the light of the CIA admitting it used 'waterboarding'.

  UK Guardian

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Support Our Troops

The stories are not uncommon: soldier serving in Iraq comes home and falls apart. They don't get the help they need. That help could take lifetimes and tens of thousands of dollars. So I guess we just leave them to their tragedies. This weekend I asked my son if the Army had any counseling or classes to prepare them for tours of duty in Iraq, and he said, "Well, my sergeant said, 'Okay, you have 207 days until you're deployed to Baghdad. Get your mind ready."

I guess that's not enough for soldiers like Joseph Dwyer, who recently died at home in his own feces and urine. You probably remember him from this 2005 photo that the Army/US Government/Media used as PR for our "Mission" in Iraq.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Appeasement Alert!

A U.S. decision to bend policy and sit down with Iran at nuclear talks fizzled Saturday, with Iran stonewalling Washington and five other world powers on their call to freeze uranium enrichment.



A decision to bend policy, eh?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, July 18, 2008

No, I'm Not on Vacation

Just working my butt off. Unfortunately, it's not any of my butt I'm losing - it's my mind.

Sister visiting this weekend. No posting likely then, either. If anybody's still here in a week or two, I may actually be back. Who knows? If you need to know what's happening in the wonderful world of politics and current events, check the excellent blogs and websites in the sidebar, as always.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Going Down

Addressing Cuba's parliament in its first session since lawmakers selected him to succeed his older brother Fidel in February, Raul Castro announced no major reforms, but suggested that global economic turbulence could lead to further belt-tightening on the island.

"Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of opportunities, not of income," the 77-year-old president said in a speech that was taped and later aired on national television. "Equality is not egalitarianism."


I bet George envies Raul’s ability to just come right out and say it.

This can’t be too pleasing for all those poor Cubans to hear. On the other hand, what belt?


The last thing the Bush White House and the rest of the country needed in these economically trying times was another financial crisis. But they got one.


The Bush White house may be perfectly okay with that. It does seem as though they’ve been trying to destroy this country.

The Republican administration and Democratic-run Congress now are facing the possibility that mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, once staid and stable, could need a bailout or even go under.

Their default would send shock waves through already distressed financial markets, drive the U.S. economy further into recession territory and make it even harder for people to obtain mortgages or refinance their homes.

Is there room in the third world for one more?

He's on a Roll

President Bush prodded Congress on Friday to allow oil drilling in offshore waters and in the Alaskan wildlife refuge, citing "tough economic times" for the American people.


And they’ll do it, too, won’t they, Congressman Wexler?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Congressman Wexler's Email to Me

And my reply, which he’ll never even know came to him, much less read.

----- Original Message ----

From: Congressman Robert Wexler

To: xxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:25:08 PM
Subject: Conyers Floats Inherent Contempt for Rove and Pelosi Shifts on Kucinich Impeachment resolution

Dear Xxxxxxxxxx,

Capitol Hill is buzzing today with major developments regarding our campaign for impeachment hearings for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Just today, in what could be described as a perfect impeachment storm:

• Karl Rove once again thumbed his nose at Congress and the American people by brazenly ignoring a lawful congressional subpoena to testify before the House of Representatives;

• Judiciary Chairman John Conyers indicated his willingness to use the power of inherent contempt against Rove if necessary;

• Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced another article of impeachment on Bush's lies regarding the Iraq war; and

• Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quoted today saying that the House Judiciary Committee should address the issues that Kucinich raises in the House Judiciary Committee.

After years of work by so many of you, the time appears ripe to finally hold Bush and Cheney accountable.


Conyers Opens Door to Inherent Contempt for Rove

Karl Rove has simply refused to appear, as he is legally required to do. His actions, endorsed by the Bush/Cheney Administration, are a challenge to our system of checks and balances and Congress must respond to this type of outrageous behavior with appropriate severity.

Today, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers courageously stated today that inherent contempt will remain an option for the House of Representatives so long as Rove and this Administration refuses to abide by the law.

We must now bring Mr. Rove (and other renegade Bush officials) in compliance with the law.

This is a defining moment for Congress: Will we continue to allow legislative power to be eroded by an out of control executive branch that ignores the rule of law - or will we finally put an end to this congressional capitulation and properly force Administration officials to testify in full view of the American people?

It is time for Congress to hold Karl Rove in inherent contempt. I congratulate Chairman Conyers' positive move in this direction, and we must work to move other Members of Congress in support of the use of inherent contempt. Inherent contempt properly enables the House Sergeant of Arms to physically take custody of Mr. Rove and bring him to the House of Representatives to testify.

How do you think a state or federal judge would react to a witness refusing to comply with a legal subpoena? The wayward witness would be arrested.

Should the Congress of the United States be shown any less respect than any courtroom in the nation?
Should the Congress react any differently than how any American judge would react? Absolutely not.

We are long past the time for threats and negotiation. We must bring Mr. Rove in front of the full Judiciary Committee, under oath. No administration official - not even the President - is above the law. They cannot be allowed to redefine it at will. We must all appear when called or suffer the consequences.


Speaker Pelosi's Shift on Hearings and Rep. Kucinich's New Article of Impeachment

After stating unequivocally that impeachment "is off the table," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated to CBS News today that the House Judiciary Committee should address the issues that Rep. Kucinich's has raised in his impeachment resolution.

Pelosi's words provide genuine hope for our cause of accountability for this Administration. We must use Speaker Pelosi's openness to new hearings in the Judiciary Committee to pursue aggressively the serious allegations against Bush and Cheney relating to lies about the Iraq War, the illegal use of torture, the improper disclosure of the identity of a covert agent, the political firing of US attorneys, and on and on.

I again congratulate Congressman Kucinich on his continued leadership and work on behalf of this vital cause.

This issue now reaches far beyond the substance of the Judiciary Committee's original inquiry regarding the firing of US Attorneys for political purposes. The crisis at hand relates to our most fundamental laws and of our Constitution. It is, in many ways, more serious than the Constitutional crisis surrounding Watergate – yet the national media ignores the facts and ramifications of this renegade Executive.

Congress has a duty to protect the balance of powers. Mr. Rove, Mr. Bolten, and Ms. Miers have taken actions that severely undermine these powers, and we should not rely on a federal court alone.

The political tide begins to be turning and that is why I feel so strongly that we should aggressively push for inherent contempt for Karl Rove and impeachment hearings for President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Thanks you for your work and your commitment to our constitution.

- Congressman Robert Wexler


Dear Congressman Wexler,

I will not donate to any Democrat candidate until the Democrats consistently stand up for our laws and our Constitution. The recent FISA fiasco has absolutely convinced me, although I was already suspicious, that, with the exception of a tiny handful, they have no intention of doing so.

Impeach? Now that he'll be out of office before anything could possibly be done? It would be laughable if it weren't so depressingly predictable and disappointing.

Karl Rove again thumbed his nose at Congress. Well, what a surprise. And John Conyers again issued a sternly worded reprimand. Another big surprise.

You people are playing impotent political games, and the Democrats are not the opposition party, but rather the weak-kneed party, bowing and bending to the lawbreakers and petty tyrants in the White House, allowing our Constitution and our laws to be besmirched and shredded, and our national standing to tank.

Ask me for a contribution when you people actually start doing something besides just talking about it.

Sincerely, and most disappointedly and disgustedly,
Xxxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxxxx
A Democrat Party voter no more

You may think denying contributions to any Democrat is unreasonable and unfair, but maybe if none of them get any donations, the whole group will be persuaded to go the way of the handful.

....but hey, you do what you will anyway.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We're Drowning in Assholes and Pansies

Rove refused to appear under a subpoena. Conyers gives him extra time to comply.

Why don't they just stop the game and admit we've been sold down the river?

Impeachment Is Much Too Good

Thanks to LaBelle for keeping me supplied with horror stories. And this one does double duty as an enraging piece of news. Or it ought to be.

Bush at the G-8.

The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

  UK Telegraph

Is he actually going to be permitted to go to the Olympics? And we’re paying – a lot - for this son-of-a-bitch to travel around the world.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Police State? You Bet

You've heard about the 60-year-old librarian who was removed from a McCain townhall meeting - well actually, before she could get in - for carrying a sign that said "McCain = Bush" (They really don't want to be associated with him, do they?) Now you can see the mind-boggling insanity for yourself on video at Hullabaloo. (Thanks to LaBelle.)

La-La-La, La-La-La, We're Not Lisssstening

FISA Debate: The Senate Has Nearly Sucked Out My Soul.

Seriously, if one more senator talks about the need for immunity for future cooperation, I’m going to throw my computer out the window. For the 582nd time, FISA requires that telecommunications be legally compelled to hand over information if the proper legal requirements are met.

  Blog of Rightgs

SAdly, I guess that wasn't enough. It never is for the Gestapo.

Because, Hey, Business Is Business

U.S. exports to Iran […] grew more than tenfold during President George W. Bush's years in office even as he accused Iran of nuclear ambitions and helping terrorists.

Ever since I was a kid and the anti-communist rhertoric was in high dudgeon, when we were still selling wheat to Russia, I've always thought it was a little counter-message to sell supplies to people you call your enemy.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Bullshit Walks While Money Talks

Last night I posted a blog suggesting that Obama supporters who are angry about his about-face on the upcoming FISA legislation should take the money they would have given Obama this month and give it instead to Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), who is carrying on the fight that Obama walked away from. Apparently the idea struck a chord. The Feingold campaign told me at midday that money was pouring in. Campaign manager George Aldrich was reluctant to give out precise numbers, but reported that the morning's donations were "not a little blip but a massive spike" up from the norm.

  Bob Ostertag – Huffington Post


Sending money to Feingold instead of Obama the week of the FISA vote is a reasonable and powerful step to take. Remember the election is in November and this is only July. We have months in which to give Obama more money. We are not so tightly boxed in that we cannot make this statement on behalf of the Constitution now.


That's a big chunk of change that should have gone to Obama. Predictably, this infuriated many Obama supporters, but those of us who redirected our donations to Fiengold are Obama supporters too. My interest is not to derail Obama's campaign from within, but to keep a place at the table for his activist base now that the chairs are being reshuffled to accommodate the heavy hitters of national American politics. This is the point in presidential campaigns where activists usually get sent to the kitchen to eat with the staff. But maybe with this new tool we have in the Internet, we can hold on to our seat in the dining room.

Well, we can try. I won’t hold my breath.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Official

Another arm band for the police state.

The Democratic-led Congress this afternoon voted to put an end to the NSA spying scandal by approving a bill to immunize lawbreaking telecoms, terminate all pending lawsuits against them, and vest whole new warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President. The vote in favor of the new FISA bill was 69-28. Barack Obama joined every Senate Republican (and every House Republican other than one) by voting in favor of it, while his now-vanquished primary rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, voted against it.


Prior to final approval, the Senate, in the morning, rejected three separate amendments which would have improved the bill but which the White House had threatened would have prompted a presidential veto.


The Senators […] voted for "cloture" on the underlying FISA bill -- the procedure that allows the Senate to overcome any filibusters -- and it passed by a vote of 72-26. Obama voted along with all Republicans for cloture. Hillary Clinton voted with 25 other Democrats against cloture. And with cloture approved, the bill itself then proceeded to pass by a vote of 69-28 (roll call vote here), thereby immunizing telecoms and legalizing warrantless eavesdropping.


Obama voted for cloture on the bill -- the exact opposition of supporting a filibuster -- and then voted for the bill itself. A more complete abandonment of a clear campaign promise is difficult [to] imagine.


With their vote today, the Democratic-led Congress has covered-up years of deliberate surveillance crimes by the Bush administration and the telecom industry, and has dramatically advanced a full-scale attack on the rule of law in this country.


The bill will now be sent to an extremely happy George Bush, who already announced that he enthusiastically supports it, and he will sign it into law very shortly.


What is most striking is that when the Congress was controlled by the GOP -- when the Senate was run by Bill Frist and the House by Denny Hastert -- the Bush administration attempted to have a bill passed very similar to the one that just passed today. But they were unable to do so. The administration had to wait until Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats took over Congress.

  Salon – Glenn Greenwald

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a new federal wiretapping law this afternoon by a vote of 69-28.


The bill approved includes sweeping and retroactive immunity for telecom companies that provided information about customers to government officials without a warrant as part of the Bush Administration's surveillance program imposed after September 11, 2001.


Moments before the final vote, a handful of senators voted to filibuster the vote, including Sens. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) voted against the filibuster and then voted against the law a few moments later.

  TPM Muckraker

So her votes against cloture and against the law were actually just bullshit. A filibuster might have done something. A vote against the law (and against cloture) was assured to be meaningless.

The U.S. Senate Wednesday defeated an attempt by Democratic senators to remove legal immunity for telephone companies from a bill reauthorizing the federal government's warrantless surveillance program.

The amendment only needed 50 votes to carry, but its proponents, which include most of the senior ranks of Senate Democrats, were unable to muster the requisite support.

The vote was 66-32 against the amendment.

  CNN Money

Glenn Greenwald suggests you watch this if you have any lingering doubts.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

ACLU, EFF will challenge FISA update in court

And good luck.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Company

Iraqi officials stepped up pressure on the United States on Tuesday to agree to a specific timeline to withdraw American forces, a sign of the government's growing confidence as violence falls.

  USA Today

We may have to withdraw some troops - or bomb another wedding - and teach them a lesson.

The tough words come as the Bush administration is running out of time to reach a needed troop deal before the fall U.S. presidential election and the president's last months in office.

Some type of agreement is required to keep American troops in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires at year's end.

Al-Maliki has instructed his negotiating team to harden its position in recent days because he thinks the Bush administration is eager to sign an agreement before the November elections, giving Iraq the chance to win a better deal, said a senior Iraqi Shiite official knowledgeable about the talks.

Pretty sad when you’re a “sovereign” country and you have to make a deal to get your “liberator” to leave.

Oh wait, we don’t need to worry. George the Bush is the king of the world.

The US administration can keep troops in Iraq into next year even after expiration of the UN mandate that governs operations there and without Congress' permission, says a senior State Department official in a letter to a Democratic lawmaker.

In the letter to Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman, David Satterfield said military operations can continue "beyond the end of this year under the laws passed by Congress and the president's authority as commander in chief."

Satterfield's statement reaffirms the administration's position that it does not need international or congressional approval to conduct military operations anywhere in the world, particularly when going after terrorists.

  China Daily

....and hey, do what you will anyway.

Can They Be Stopped? - Part 2

Sorry I didn't find this article sooner. My emails went to John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchinson. I'm sure they were moved.

From Daniel Ellsberg:

Please do the following: How I ask you to spend 60 seconds

1. ALL AMERICANS: Go to the EFF website here and put in your zipcode to find your Senator’s phone number. Call them and read the short script on the same page. If no answer, click the link at the bottom of the page to e-mail them. (Tell others verbally to go to “” and click “take action”)

2. OBAMA SUPPORTERS: Go to here and join the group requesting he oppose (as he did earlier) the amendment. This takes about 30 seconds. I suggest changing “ListServ” in the bottom right to “Do not receive e-mails.” (Tell others verbally to search “obama please vote no” on Google and will be in the top 3 results, currently #1)

A video of Daniel Ellsberg is on that page, answering questions about the FISA issue. Or, you can read the Q&A.

Can They Be Stopped?

Click picture for the ad running in the Washington Post.

The votes in the Senate on various amendments to the FISA "compromise" bill and to the underlying bill itself were originally scheduled for today, but have been postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday, July 9) to enable Senators to attend the funeral of Jesse Helms. Rejection of the amendments -- including the Dodd-Feingold-Leahy amendment to strip telecom immunity from the bill -- is all but certain, and final passage of the bill (with the support of both presidential candidates) is guaranteed.

Once passed by the Senate, the FISA bill will then immediately be sent by the Democratic Congress to an eagerly awaiting and immensely pleased President Bush, who will sign it into law, thereby putting a permanent and happy end to the scandal that began when -- in December, 2005 -- he was caught spying on the communications of American citizens in violation of the law.


[The] reality is that the Government and the telecoms broke the law not for weeks or months, but for years -- well into 2007. They continued to do so even after the NYT exposed what they were doing. They could have brought their spying activities into a legal framework at any time, but chose instead to spy on Americans in exactly the way our laws criminalize. Manifestly, then, national security had nothing to do with why they did it. The Bush administration chose to do so because they wanted to eavesdrop without oversight and to establish that neither Congress nor the courts can limit what the President does, and telecoms did not want to jeopardize the massive government surveillance contracts they have by refusing.


One of the pending Senate amendments -- the only one with any remote chance of passing -- is an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (co-sponsored by GOP Sen. Arlen Specter and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey). The Bingaman amendment would merely postpone the granting of telecom immunity until 90 days after Congress receives the Inspector General's audits of the President's NSA spying program which the new FISA bill mandates, and would freeze the telecom lawsuits in place until then.

The rationale behind the amendment is clear and simple: namely, members of Congress, the vast majority of whom know virtually nothing about what the telecoms did, shouldn't grant immunity unless they know what this illegal spying program entailed. If the IG Report reveals that the program (even though illegal) was devoted to a benign and proper purpose, then Congress (if it is so inclined) can grant immunity then. But if the IG Report reveals the spying program to be something other than what the President and the telecoms claim it to be -- if it entails far more invasive surveillance of Americans or was abused for improper purposes -- then immunity would obviously be wildly inappropriate.


Bush DNI Mike McConnell (who previously worked on behalf of the telecom industry to increase their government surveillance contracts) and Attorney General Michael Mukasey sent a joint letter to the Senate yesterday vowing that the President would veto the entire FISA bill if the Bingaman amendment were included.


Manipulative appeals to "national security" are, of course, exactly what has enabled the Bush administration to bully Congress into giving them everything they want for years -- "give us the powers we want and immunize our lawbreaking or be killed by Terrorists." That's how our country has been "governed" in the Bush era -- with heavy-handed, authoritarian decrees that we must comply with our Leader's secretly-formed judgments if we want to survive -- and it's likely how it will continue to be governed.


Those who support this bill, by definition, support both warrantless eavesdropping on Americans and the right of the President and private corporations to break our laws with impunity.


The political class has made as clear as can be that it is intent on supporting a limitless erosion of core constitutional liberties and the creation of a two-tiered justice system that exempts the political elite from the rule of law. Neither the "opposition party" nor the establishment media are the slightest bit interested in, or capable of, stopping any of that. Battling against that is the responsibility of citizens who find these political trends dangerous and intolerable.

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

  Salon – Glenn Greenwald

We Would Have Never Guessed

When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science.

But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney's office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC's original draft testimony removed.


I wonder - if BushCo hadn't so totally screwed up in the Iraq nightmare, would all these things that the press is now willing to print about what else they've done have gone unpublished?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Because Racial Profiling Alone Is Not Enough for Fighting Terror

Let me stop and back up to that fighting terror thing. War on terror. We must be approaching it with the "fight fire with fire" theory.

So, anyway...

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.

This bracelet would:

• take the place of an airline boarding pass

• contain personal information about the traveler

• be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

• shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

  Washington Times


Oh, well. With the escalating prices, I can’t afford to fly any more anyway.

Too bad human intelligence, morality and enlightenment have not kept pace with technology. Cave men with advanced weapons.

And people would voluntarily put those things on, too.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Less Lethal?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Thanks, I Needed That

Current events have been too depressing for too long. Sometimes you gotta take a break. Start here. You can even close your eyes and you won't miss a thing.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

9/11 Changed Everything

Didn't it?

The American colonel, troubled by what he was hearing, tried to stall at first. But the declassified record shows he finally told his South Korean counterpart it "would be permitted" to machine-gun 3,500 political prisoners, to keep them from joining approaching enemy forces.

In the early days of the Korean War, other American officers observed, photographed and confidentially reported on such wholesale executions by their South Korean ally, a secretive slaughter believed to have killed 100,000 or more leftists and supposed sympathizers, usually without charge or trial, in a few weeks in mid-1950.


Now, a half-century later, the South Korean government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is investigating what happened in that summer of terror, a political bloodbath largely hidden from history, unlike the communist invaders' executions of southern rightists, which were widely publicized and denounced at the time.


The brutal, hurried elimination of tens of thousands of their countrymen, subject of a May 19 AP report, was the climax to a years-long campaign by South Korea's right-wing leaders.


Journalist Alan Winnington … wrote that his witnesses claimed jeeploads of American officers "supervised the butchery." Secret CIA and Army intelligence communications reported on the Daejeon and Suwon killings as early as July 3, but said nothing about the U.S. presence or about any U.S. oversight.


Although MacArthur had command of South Korean forces from early in the war, he took no action on [a July report of mass killings], other than to refer it to John J. Muccio, U.S. ambassador in South Korea. Muccio later wrote that he urged South Korean officials to stage executions humanely and only after due process of law.


It was the British who took action, according to news reports at the time. On Dec. 7, in occupied North Korea, British officers saved 21 civilians lined up to be shot, by threatening to shoot the South Korean officer responsible. Later that month, British troops seized "Execution Hill," outside Seoul, to block further mass killings there.

To quiet the protests, the South Koreans barred journalists from execution sites and the State Department told diplomats to avoid commenting on atrocity reports.

  Raw Story

See also No Gun Ri.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day Declaration

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

They were reading the Declaration of Independence on NPR this morning, and I was going to link you to a copy of it, but Brilliant at Breakfast has a nicely “annotated” copy posted today, so I think I’ll send you there. Please go. And, come to think of it, this is another link you can forward your "patriotic" acquaintances.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


[Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)] has released an Independence Day message which invokes the words of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to urge support for impeachment and the restoration of the rule of law.

"Some Democratic leaders say impeachment's off the table," Kucinich begins. "So let's set a new table for our nation, upon which we place the Constitution, and where we demand that all those who've taken an oath to defend it keep their promise and protect our nation from the threat within. Please go to now and sign the petition which calls for impeachment. This is the one petition that will make a difference because I will be personally delivering it to your member of Congress."

  Raw Story

Go ahead. It’s a quick 2-part process. I’ll be here when you get back. And go ahead and forward the link to those people who are always forwarding you junk jokes and crap you don't want. Maybe it'll prompt them to remove you from their list. And anybody you think will actually sign the petition.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Freedom of Speech

President Bush delivered a July 4th address before a naturalization ceremony for new citizens at Thomas Jefferson's home of Monticello that was repeatedly interrupted by protesters who called out "war criminal" and "impeach Bush."

According to news accounts, "shouts from protesters were heard during Bush's remarks," while a transcript notes repeated occurrences all through the speech of "Audience disturbance," "Audience interruption," and "Audience interruption continues."

"Protesters made it hard to hear President Bush Friday," Fox News reported.

  Raw Story

He wasn't saying anything worth hearing anyway.

Is this a harbinger of a slight improvement in our situation? Usually in the Reign of George the Bush these people would have been relegated to “free speech zones” and not seen or heard in his presence.

The Bush Legacy 2

As chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael E. O’Neill helped steer the Supreme Court nominations of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. through the confirmation process. An expert on judicial nominations, Mr. O’Neill later spoke with pride to a legal magazine about helping place “some difficult federal judicial nominees” onto the lower federal courts.


President Bush nominated Mr. O’Neill to be a judge on the Federal District Court here last month, and there are signs that his nomination might be a difficult one as well.

Last year, a peer-reviewed legal journal, the Supreme Court Economic Review, issued a retraction of an article by Mr. O’Neill in 2004. “Substantial portions” of the article, the editors wrote, were “appropriated without attribution” from a book review by another law professor. In addition, at least four articles by Mr. O’Neill in other publications contain passages that appear to have been lifted from other scholars’ works without quotation marks or attribution.


A typical Bush nominee, what?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

The Bush Legacy

The US government is developing a "long-range plan" to empty its war-on-terror prison at its naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, and seeking help on what to do with inmates who won't be tried, The Washington Post reported Friday.


Because both Obama and McCain are threatening to close it down, George will now steal their thunder.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Calling Out Obama

Back in August, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination, Obama voted against the Protect America Act. Therefore, had Obama had his way, there never would have been any PAA in the first place, and therefore, there never would have been any PAA orders possible. Having voted against the PAA last August, how can Obama now claim that he considers it important that the PAA orders not expire? How can he be eager to avoid the expiration of surveillance orders which he opposed authorizing in the first place?

I asked [Obama adviser Greg] Craig that question several times and received completely incoherent replies, after which he started insisting that he already answered me and had nothing else to add (he then changed the subject to talk about the "improvements" the current bill achieves over the Rockefeller Senate bill). The fact is that there is no answer. In the past, Obama has opposed the type of warrantless eavesdropping which those PAA orders authorize. He's repeatedly said that the FISA court works and there's no need to authorize eavesdropping without individual warrants. None of that can be reconciled with his current claim that he supports this FISA "compromise" because National Security requires that those PAA orders not expire and that there be massive changes to FISA.

  Salon- Glenn Greenwald

....but hey, say what you will anyway.

The Criminal Class

A Bush-41-appointed Federal District Judge yesterday became the third judge -- out of three who have ruled on the issue -- to reject the Bush administration's claim that Article II entitles the President to override or ignore the provisions of FISA. Yesterday's decision by Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California also guts the central claims for telecom immunity and gives the lie to the excuses coming from Congress as to why the new FISA bill is some sort of important "concession." More than anything else, this decision is but the most recent demonstration that, with this new FISA bill, our political establishment is doing what it now habitually does: namely, ensuring that the political and corporate elite who break our laws on purpose are immune from consequences.

  Salon - Glenn Greenwald

And as my dear She-Bean says: It will ever be thus.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

You'll Be Shocked

When I got up this morning, had I known it was going to be Surprise Thursday, I would have dressed for the occasion.

Bush administration officials knew that a Texas oil company with close ties to President Bush was planning to sign an oil deal with the regional Kurdistan government that ran counter to American policy and undercut Iraq’s central government, a Congressional committee has concluded.


Bush Administration officials knew a Bush pal was slimey? How could they have?

....but hey, believe it if you want.

Hunt post last September.

Oh What a Great Idea!

How appropriate for the new Amerika.

The Justice Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups.


What Constitution? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Late to the Party

Although I read TPM daily, a couple of years ago I was much more impressed with Josh Marshall. The past couple of years he seems to me to have left critical reporting on Democrats behind him. In fact, I have been waiting for him to post anything about Obama's recent list of right-leaning maneuvers. At last, TPM at least takes up the FISA issue, but it's not Marshall doing the posting. It's David Kurtz. And Greg Sargent and Eric Kleefield lay out a timeline of Obama's statements on FISA at TPM Election Central.

Betha Can't Guess This One

A baited hook ad on Yahoo:

That's a tough one.

Jesse Jackon?

Ooh, Another Surprise

At a meeting Tuesday in Denver, about 100 conservative Christian leaders from around the country agreed to unite behind the candidacy of John McCain, a politician they have long distrusted, marking the latest in a string of movements that bode well for McCain's general election prospects among the Republican base.

"Collectively we feel that he will support and advance those moral values that we hold much greater than Obama, who in our view will decimate moral values," said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group, who previously supported Mike Huckabee's candidacy.


And Obama has been whoring himself to that group for nothing, then, eh? I think we could have told him that would happen.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Get FISA Right

Barack Obama supporters urging the Illinois senator to vote against a pending surveillance law have formed the largest group on the Democratic presidential candidate's social networking Web site,

The group, "Senator Obama - Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity - Get FISA Right," had more than 14,500 members as of Thursday morning. The group formed last Wednesday, June 25, making it perhaps the fastest growing user-generated group on the page. Sometime around 8 p.m. Wednesday, the group became No. 1 in overall membership, surpassing "Action Wire," the campaign-created group that is designed to fight smears and rumors hurled at Obama.

  Raw Story

Yeah, well, good luck guys.

Now There's a Surprise

The Pentagon has extended the tour of 2,200 Marines in Afghanistan, after insisting for months the unit would come home on time.


They’ve been given an extra 30 days.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Proud To Be An American

Mexican citizens are in an uproar over newly released videos which appear to show a U.S. contractor teaching Mexican policy how to torture suspects, including a crude variation of water boarding. The Mexican police have been repeatedly accused of torture and this video show them practicing such techniques as dragging people through their own vomit under the directions of a U.S. adviser.

The videos show a variety of torture techniques, including good old-fashioned brutality like jumping on a suspect’s ribs and dunking a suspect’s head in a hole said to be full of excrement and rats..

  Jonathan Turley

Well, I don’t want to see it, but there’s a link to the video in that article.

[H]ow could the Justice Department investigate the allegations when it is refusing to investigate the Administration’s own torture program? Likewise, how are Democrats going to call for hearings on torture when they have refused to take meaningful action against a torture program created and directed only a few miles from the Capitol building? We have finally reached a point of complete moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy on the issue. There was a time when we were the leading voice against torture in the world. We are now viewed as an exporter and practicioner of torture.

Viewed that way because that’s what we are.

Actually, I admit I'm a little surprised that torture is something Mexico needs to import U.S. "experts" for.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

This Should Make You Feel More Confident in Our SCOTUS

Dwight Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, has some crowing rights this week. He found a serious factual error in the majority opinion barring the death penalty for child rape defendants — a flaw that was missed by both the majority and dissenting justices in Kennedy v. Louisiana as well as all of the attorneys in the case.

In deciding last week that the execution of child rapists offends the “evolving standards of decency” of the country, Justice Anthony Kennedy relied on the fact that one six jurisdictions allowed for such punishment — and not the other 30 states with the death penalty or the federal government. For a copy of the opinion, click here. It turns out that recently that changed with regard to the federal government. As Mr. Sullivan pointed out, Congress added the such punishment in National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006. None of the attorneys for either side or any amicus caught the change. Nor did the dissenting justices.


This not the first time that facts relied upon by the Court have proven false. Indeed, a far more serious flaw was found in the Reynolds case where the Court established the military and state secrets privilege. At the time, many argued that the Air Force was lying about the classified information in the case and the risk to national security. The Supreme Court ignored these claims and rendered its decision creating the doctrine. Recently, material surfaced that showed that the Air Force had indeed misrepresented the facts to the Court, but when asked to reconsider the ruling, the Court refused.

  Jonathan Turley

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pick Your Poison - Part 3

It was actually worse than I thought.

The Democrat is expected to reveal his plans for assisting religious groups’ service programs during a speech in Zanesville, Ohio, later today. Before the speech, he will tour the Eastside Community Ministry, an antipoverty program that provides food, clothes and religious services to the area’s poor.

“We know that faith and values can be a source of strength in our own lives. That’s what it’s been to me. And that’s what it is to so many Americans. But it can also be something more. It can be the foundation of a new project of American renewal. And that’s the kind of effort I intend to lead as president of the United States,” Obama said in a statement.


Pick Your Poison - Part 2

Glenn Greenwald summarizes the post-primary Obama.

The choices Obama makes about how he campaigns and the positions he takes are extremely consequential in how political issues in this country are perceived. In the last two weeks alone, Obama has done the following:

*intervened in a Democratic Congressional primary to support one of the worst Bush-enabling Blue Dogs over a credible, progressive challenger;

* announced his support for Bush's FISA bill, reversing himself completely on this issue;

* sided with the Scalia/Thomas faction in two highly charged Supreme Court decisions;

* repudiated Wesley Clark and embraced the patently false media narrative that Clark had "dishonored McCain's service" (and for the best commentary I've seen, by far, on the Clark matter, see this appropriately indignant piece by Iraq veteran Brandon Friedman);

* condemned for its newspaper advertisement criticizing Gen. Petraeus;

* defended his own patriotism by impugning the patriotism of others, specifically those in what he described as the "the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties" for "attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself" and -- echoing Jeanne Kirkpatrick's 1984 RNC speech -- "blaming America for all that was wrong with the world";

* unveiled plans "to expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and -- in a move sure to cause controversy . . . letting religious charities that receive federal funding consider religion in employment decisions," a move that could "invite a storm of protest from those who view such faith requirements as discrimination" -- something not even the Bush faith programs allowed.


There is no question, at least to me, that having Obama beat McCain is vitally important. But so, too, is the way that victory is achieved and what Obama advocates and espouses along the way. Feeding distortions against someone like Wesley Clark in order to please Joe Klein and his fact-free media friends, or legalizing warrantless eavesdropping and protecting joint Bush/telecom lawbreaking, or basing his campaign on demonizing and 1960s anti-war hippies, is quite harmful in many long-lasting ways. Electing Barack Obama is a very important political priority but it isn't the only one there is, and his election is less likely, not more likely, the more homage he pays to these these tired, status-quo-perpetuating Beltway pieties.


The ways in which Obama is superior to the Bush-following McCain are both numerous and substantial (unless you're excited to have Joe Lieberman and Bill Kristol running U.S. foreign policy and Ted Olson appointing more executive-power-worshiping, privacy-eroding Justices to the Supreme Court -- and if that's not enough, see this), and that's true no matter how many justifiable criticisms are voiced towards Obama. What Obama has done over the last two weeks will drain the enthusiasm away from many of his most intense supporters (as it has even with the intensely pro-Obama Markos Moulitsas), but that isn't the same -- not even close to the same -- as deciding that it's irrelevant if he wins.


Keith Olbermann Changes His Tune

Now challenging Obama to stand up to that "loophole" Olbermann wants us to believe Obama will be thinking about while signing the FISA "compromise".

And John Dean, whom Olbermann quoted in his earlier comments, clarifies what he was really saying about the bill.

General Clark

I was going to bypass this "story", because I think it's all a crock of blowhard shit - more distraction, but then I realized that pretty much all we are doing these days is distracting ourselves from the nightmare mess we have created of this world. So...
Sign our petition, thanking General Wesley Clark for his clarity and honesty on what it takes to lead this nation’s military and veterans.

  Do that here at VoteVets

And here’s a nice post on the issue from Robert at Brilliant at Breakfast.

You Can Have the Arsenic, Or You Can Have the Cyaninde

Pick your poison.

LaBelle sends a link to this Brilliant at Breakfast post.

In 2000, enough people voted for Ralph Nader, believing that there was no difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it put us on the path to the mess in which we find ourselves today.

In 2006, Democrats won a razor-thin majority in Congress, and its approval ratings are below that of George W. Bush -- not because the Democrats aren't conservative enough, but because they are still capitulating to the Bush Administration.

And now, between Barack Obama's capitulation on FISA (which is likely to persist, Keith Olbermann's hopes notwithstanding), his jettisoning of Wesley Clark as if questioning whether being shot down was a sufficient condition by itself to warrant a free pass to the White House, and now a pledge to continue George W. Bush's program of Tax Dollars for Jeebus, I'm starting to wonder just how much daylight there is between Obama and John McCain -- and just what the hell happened.

Truth happened.

From time to time, I still like to think that Al Gore really was different. But I keep wanting to think the same thing about Obama, when in the back of my mind, that knowing little voice keeps saying: “Not where it really counts.”

I just don’t get it – who thinks it’s a good strategy for Democratic candidates to keep going to the right? They’ll never get the die-hard Republican vote, no matter how far they go, because Democrat is a dirty word to those GOPers – it means liberal, and that means evil.

But what they are doing is driving away the progressive arm of the Democratic party. And then they cry about Ralph Nader “spoiling” the election. It’s not Ralph who’s losing them votes – it’s themselves.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would spend at least $500 million a year to promote community aid programs run by faith-based groups.

The proposal would expand an initiative put in place by President George W. Bush to aid religious organizations performing social service work, which Obama said “never fully completed its mission or fulfilled its promise.''


Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago, would create a new White House office for the President's Council for Faith- Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Among other things, the council would help train faith-based groups on how to apply for federal grants.


Obama, 46, an Illinois senator, called for rules to ensure that the council wouldn't breach the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. Federal money could only be spent on non-religious activities and groups couldn't discriminate when deciding who will get their aid.


So tell me then, why is this a Council for Faith-Based programs? Sounds like bogus hocus pocus to me. Why don’t faith-based folks just organize into secular organizations that help the poor? Why can’t they do their thing under a Neighborhood Partnership? Why do they need the faith-based coverage if they’re not going to be able to have anything religious in their activities?

And since Bush organized this affront on the separation of church and state without Congressional approval, is Obama taking advantage of a program so initiated?

I smell fish.

As today's Daily Twain (sidebar) reminds us:

History has tried hard to teach us that we can't have good government under politicians. Now, to go and stick one at the very head of the government couldn't be wise. --Mark Twain

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


And from the comments on that post:

FranIAm said...

Obama is really upsetting me. As a practicing Christian the last thing that I want is more faith based crap.

This is not a Christian nation (I already believe this but I am also quoting my parish priest from a class he taught at church last night...)- it is a nation founded on religious freedom.


As he said - and I agree, if we want to be a Christian nation then fine. That would mean being compassionate to all, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, bringing justice to the oppressed, you know... Shit like that.

All the posturing is many things - it is not Christian.


Shaking Off the Bush Legacy

[In] crucial respects, the Bush era will not end Jan. 20, 2009. The administration's many failures, especially those related to Iraq, mask a considerable legacy. Among other things, the Bush team has accomplished the following:

• Defined the contemporary era as an "age of terror" with an open-ended "global war" as the necessary, indeed the only logical, response;
• Promulgated and implemented a doctrine of preventive war, thereby creating a far more permissive rationale for employing armed force;
• Affirmed - despite the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001 - that the primary role of the Department of Defense is not defense, but power projection;
• Removed constraints on military spending so that once more, as Ronald Reagan used to declare, "defense is not a budget item";
• Enhanced the prerogatives of the imperial presidency on all matters pertaining to national security, effectively eviscerating the system of checks and balances;
• Preserved and even expanded the national security state, despite the manifest shortcomings of institutions such as the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff;
• Preempted any inclination to question the wisdom of the post-Cold War foreign policy consensus, founded on expectations of a sole superpower exercising "global leadership";
• Completed the shift of US strategic priorities away from Europe and toward the Greater Middle East, the defense of Israel having now supplanted the defense of Berlin as the cause to which presidents and would-be presidents ritually declare their fealty.

By almost any measure, this constitutes a record of substantial, if almost entirely malignant, achievement.


Throughout the long primary season, even as various contenders in both parties argued endlessly about Iraq, they seemed oblivious to the more fundamental questions raised by the Bush years: whether global war makes sense as an antidote to terror, whether preventive war works, whether the costs of "global leadership" are sustainable, and whether events in Asia rather than the Middle East just might determine the course of the 21st century.

Have you ever watched first-graders play soccer? We can only focus our attention on the ball. Not the game.

Keepin' Us Healthy

The Defense Department, the nation's biggest polluter, is resisting orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up Fort Meade and two other military bases where the EPA says dumped chemicals pose "imminent and substantial" dangers to public health and the environment.

The Pentagon has also declined to sign agreements required by law that cover 12 other military sites on the Superfund list of the most polluted places in the country.


Actually, I’m surprised the EPA under Bush is ordering clean-ups. Maybe they know it doesn’t matter if you don’t enforce the orders.

Pentagon officials say they are voluntarily cleaning up the three sites named in the EPA's "final orders" - Fort Meade in Maryland, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

But they don’t want anyone checking to make sure.

At all three sites, the military has released toxic chemicals - some known to cause cancer and other serious health problems - into the soil and groundwater.


EPA spokeswoman Roxanne Smith said final orders were issued because the agency is worried about drinking water and soil contamination at Fort Meade, Tyndall and McGuire. "Under DOD's management, some of these sites have languished for years, with limited or no cleanup underway," she said.


Congress established the Superfund program in 1980 to clean up the country's most contaminated places, and of the 1,255 sites on the list the Pentagon owns 129 - the most of any entity. Other federal agencies with properties on the list include NASA and the Energy Department, but they have signed EPA cleanup agreements without protest.

But Superfund sites are only one aspect of the Pentagon's environmental problems. It has about 25,000 contaminated properties in all 50 states, and it will cost billions and take decades to clean them up.

The Pentagon poisons American citizens, and its own troops. I assume the brass drink bottled water.

Keepin' Us Safe

Intelligence reports for more than a year had been streaming in about Osama bin Laden’s terrorism network rebuilding in the Pakistani tribal areas, a problem that had been exacerbated by years of missteps in Washington and the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, sharp policy disagreements, and turf battles between American counterterrorism agencies.

[A] new plan, outlined in a highly classified Pentagon order, was intended to eliminate some of those battles. And it was meant to pave a smoother path into the tribal areas for American commandos, who for years have bristled at what they see as Washington’s risk-averse attitude toward Special Operations missions inside Pakistan.


But more than six months later, the Special Operations forces are still waiting for the green light. The plan has been held up in Washington by the very disagreements it was meant to eliminate. A senior Defense Department official said there was “mounting frustration” in the Pentagon at the continued delay.


American intelligence officials say that the Qaeda hunt in Pakistan, code-named Operation Cannonball by the C.I.A. in 2006, was often undermined by bitter disagreements within the Bush administration and within the C.I.A.


Current and former military and intelligence officials said that the war in Iraq consistently diverted resources and high-level attention from the tribal areas.


[It] is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world.


Just as it had on the day before 9/11, Al Qaeda now has a band of terrorist camps from which to plan and train for attacks against Western targets, including the United States. Officials say the new camps are smaller than the ones the group used prior to 2001. However, despite dozens of American missile strikes in Pakistan since 2002, one retired C.I.A. officer estimated that the makeshift training compounds now have as many as 2,000 local and foreign militants, up from several hundred three years ago.

  More – much more – at the NYT

Nice goin’ BushCo. And thanks.

The Same Failed Disastrous Recipe?

A former CIA operative who says he tried to warn the agency about faulty intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs now contends that CIA officials also ignored evidence that Iran had suspended work on a nuclear bomb.

The onetime undercover agent, who has been barred by the CIA from using his real name, filed a motion in federal court late Friday asking the government to declassify legal documents describing what he says was a deliberate suppression of findings on Iran that were contrary to agency views at the time.


....but hey, do what you will anyway.