Tuesday, June 30, 2009

About Time!

Now that the Minnesota Supreme Court says he has to stop, Norm Coleman finally conceded to Al Franken. I think he should have to pay back all the money spent dragging that out. It was also a huge waste of time. It's not like Franken can balance out all the sell-out Democrats in the Senate anyway.


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


Saudi Protection for Al Qaeda

This will not surprise you.

When a truck bomb exploded outside a housing unit in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 US service members, the Saudis quickly concluded that the plot had been carried out by Hezbollah with the backing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

[...]

Gareth Porter reports that by 2003, it had become apparent that the Saudis routinely tortured terror suspects and coached them into making confessions that would not implicate al Qaeda.

  Raw Story


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


Meanwhile in Iraq - Part 2

A car bomb exploded in a crowded outdoor market in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, killing at least 24 people, police said, a deadly reminder of the challenges facing the Iraqi government even as it celebrated the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from cities.

[...]

It came hours after four U.S. soldiers were killed in combat Monday in Baghdad.

Despite the continued violence, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured Iraqis that government forces taking control of urban areas were more than capable of ensuring security.

  Yahoo

"Who are you going to believe - me or your lying eyes?" he may have said.


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


Meanwhile in the Oil Business

[Iraq's] Parliament has not yet passed an oil bill. Some observers have suggested that the decision to award service contracts, instead of the more common production-sharing contracts, was taken to make it easier to proceed without such a bill being passed.

Under a production-sharing contract, an oil company would recoup its costs and then be entitled to a proportion of the oil extracted, instead of being paid a fixed fee for each barrel.

[...]

Only one of the bidders for the eight contracts to run oil and gas fields in Iraq has accepted oil ministry terms.

Six oil fields and two gas fields were available in a televised auction that was the first big oil tender in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.

[...]

The auction was originally planned for Monday, but had to be delayed because of sandstorms in Baghdad.

[...]

BP and China's CNPC agreed to run the 17 billion barrel Rumaila field after Exxon Mobil turned it down.

Iraq has asked the rest of the companies to consider resubmitting bids for the other seven contracts.

The oil ministry is offering 20-year service contracts.

Other fields have failed to find buyers, either because there were no bidders or because terms were declined.

[...]

In the case of the Rumaila field, Exxon Mobil declined to accept the ministry's maximum payment, but BP and CNPC, which had originally asked for $4 a barrel, agreed to do the work for $2 a barrel.

They will also be able to charge the ministry for the costs of the work they have to do on the production facilities.

The contracts are subject to approval by the cabinet.

Other winning bidders declined to accept the ministry's maximum payments.

  BBC


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


About That Energy Bill

Never imagine for a minute that any administration is going to pass a truly progressive climate/energy bill. Never.

Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett found himself on the Obama Administration shit list. For these comments:

The real cap is on the public interest, and the trade is from the public to the polluters. It's too weak to spur new technologies and green jobs. An administration analysis shows that doing nothing actually results in more new renewable energy, electricity generation capacity than approving this bill.

Vital authority for the EPA is stripped, but two billion additional tons of pollution are approved....forever. Residential consumer protection, incredibly entrusted to the mercy of utility companies. Exempting 100 new coal plants, and paying billions to Old King Coal, does indeed leave him a merry old soul.

  FireDogLake

However, Doggett voted in favor of the bill. Why? Perhaps because he doesn’t like being on the WH shit list.

Now we wait to see what the Senate does. Dennis Kucinich agrees with Mr. Doggett.


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


Meanwhile in Iraq

Four U.S. soldiers were killed in combat shortly before the American military completed a withdrawal from Iraq's cities, and the prime minister assured Iraqis that government forces taking control of urban areas on Tuesday were more than capable of protecting the country.

[...]

It was the deadliest attack against U.S. forces since May 21, when three soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in a roadside bombing in southern Baghdad.

  Yahoo


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oh, More Change, I See

President Obama signed the $106 billion war-spending bill into law Friday, but not without taking a page from his predecessor and ignoring a few elements in the legislation.

Obama included a five-paragraph signing statement with the bill, including a final paragraph that outlined his objections to at least four areas of the bill.

  The Hill

Yeah, I don’t expect anything else at this point. Bush Light.


David Kurtz Nails It

Since 2006, when Democrats took control of Congress, the Senate has been the La Brea Tar Pits of progressive legislation passed by House Dems.

  TPM

Yeah, and why is that?


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


Read the Bill


Click the pic.


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


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Meanwhile in Iraq

Al-Maliki has declared June 30 a national holiday to celebrate Iraq's ability to defend itself as US troops leave its cities. Unfortunately, a wave of blast attacks has killed 200 in just the past week, leaving many Shiite Iraqi's in doubt and feeling not so very secure.


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


Friday, June 26, 2009

Next Stop - Pakistan

Pakistan's Prime Minister would like us to stop bombing its people.


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


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Army Is Stepping on Iraq Reporting

And I know you're surprised. 1CD reporter 'unembedded'. Jon Turley calls for an immediate Congressional investigation. And I'm sure that's going to happen.


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


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Giant Step Leap Backward

On Thursday, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision (.pdf), ruled that convicted criminals have no constitutional right to access the state's evidence in order to subject it to DNA tests which could prove their innocence.

[...]

The Obama DOJ aggressively argued before the Court that convicted criminals have no constitutional right to access evidence for DNA analysis.

  Glenn Greenwald

I don't know if we can survive all this change.


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


Meanwhile in Afghanistan

Rocket blast on Bagram air base.


Of Christs and Crackers

A new group is set to launch in the House of Representatives, made up of conservatives set on defending American power and interests against encroachment from international institutions: The Congressional Sovereignty Caucus.

Their kickoff meeting will be this coming Wednesday, featuring co-founders Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), plus Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) -- and special guests Oliver North, Frank Gaffney and Doug Feith.

  TPM

Now there’s a group we could do without.

Their first meeting sure will have an interesting line-up. North, for example, covertly sold weapons to the Khomeini regime in Iran and then wore his Marine uniform at a Congressional hearing in order to justify himself. And Gaffney has written opinion columns in which he's raised suspicions that President Obama might not be a natural-born citizen, or could be a secret Muslim.

And I’m sure we all remember Doug Feith.

"Sovereignty is vital for America because we are an exceptional nation," wrote Lamborn, "one uniquely blessed with a vibrant Judeo-Christian heritage, as demonstrated both through its founding documents and by the witness of history. For any nation, and I believe especially for America, to give up any degree of control of its destiny to transnational bodies is irresponsible and wrong."

Manifestly so.


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


Saturday, June 20, 2009

How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times?

The number of unemployed persons increased by 787,000 to 14.5 million in May, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 7.0 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 4.5 percentage points.

   Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some counties in Indiana are pushing up to 20% unemployment in actual reported numbers.

But you know how the government counts unemployment. They leave off the people who have quit looking for work and the chronically unemployable. I don’t know how many that might be, but it’s bound to be a lot. So imagine what the true unemployment rate is in this country. Not pretty.


Taxation Without Representation

I've been seeing reports that Republicans (first and famously Pete Hoekstra) are comparing brave Iranian protestors to the GOP. Water Tiger has a screen capture of Senator David Thomas'(R-SC) Twitter tweet claiming that the protests are "Tea Parties mid East style."

Oh yeah. The plight of Iranian opposition to Ahmadinejad is just like that of our sorely oppressed and righteous GOP.

That tea party stunt the GOP pulled off was just more of the faux victimization so prevalent on the right. There is, however, an actual large group of people in this country who really are being taxed without representation: the progressives.


“Every time Obama tries to take on a progressive cause, there’s a major political party standing in his way: the Democrats. …. We don’t have a left and a right party in this country any more. We have a center-right party and a crazy party…who worry that Obama is a socialist. Socialist? He’s not even a liberal. …. I don’t hear actual liberals on TV, I hear Democrats. And occasionally, if you do get to hear Ralph Nader, or Noam Chomsky, or Dennis Kucinich, they’re treated like buffoons. …. Shouldn’t there be at least one party that unambiguously supports cutting the military budget? A party that is straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal health care, legalizing pot, and steep, direct taxing of polluters? These aren’t radical ideas. … What we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren’t being served by the Democrats. Because, bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans.” Bill Maher


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


Friday, June 19, 2009

P.S. on the NSA

James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed the NSA’s over-collection of data in an article for the New York Times on Tuesday, noting that one NSA analyst was even found to have been reading the private email of former President Bill Clinton.

[…]

“It sounded like, from the former NSA analyst that we interviewed, that it was rare to access the emails of celebrities or famous people,” Risen stated, “but that it was fairly routine, according to him, for people to access the emails of girlfriends or wives or other people that they might know.”

  Raw Story

No doubt, no doubt. You can't give many people secret power like that and not expect them to abuse it.


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


The Bush Administration Is Still There

More of that change you are waiting for has been tossed in the bin.

Obama administration lawyers are apparently trying another tactic to get the courts to back Bush administration arguments which never worked to prevent the release of critical documents. Forget Qaeda or North Korea, late night hosts who tell jokes are why the government should retain its secrets.

“A federal judge yesterday sharply questioned an assertion by the Obama administration that former Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s statements to a special prosecutor about the Valerie Plame case must be kept secret, partly so they do not become fodder for Cheney’s political enemies or late-night commentary on The Daily Show,” R. Jeffrey Smith reports for The Washington Post.

The AP reports, “Justice Department lawyers told the judge that future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could become available to their political opponents and late-night comics who would ridicule them.”

  Raw Story

I guess the DOJ lawyers are just doing their job, but for the love of Pete, they trot that tired old saw out for everything. And it always makes them sound like idiots and/or fascists. Maybe they are.

I’ve got a suggestion for the Cheneys of this world. If you don’t want to be ridiculed, don’t go into poltics.

Maybe we should just outlaw television. And radio. And newspapers. And the internet.


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


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Anti-Gay Murders Increase

The number of people murdered in anti-LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] bias incidents increased by 28% in 2008 compared to the previous year, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. The 29 murders represent the highest number documented since 1999 and, when compared to statistics for other anti-LGBT crimes, suggest an increase in the severity of violence.

  Advocate


The Spirit vs. the Letter of the Law

You know which one wins.

On Friday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will sneak around President Barack Obama’s ban on collecting money from lobbyists at fundraisers he attends by holding a morning-after event to mop up lobbyist cash, Jonathan Martin reports for Politico. President Obama speaks at a fundraising dinner tonight, and Congressional Democrats will hold their fundraising fete on Friday morning.

Invitations sent to lobbyists about the event aren’t subtle.

“Please note that the Friday Issues Conference is NOT subject to lobbyist restrictions, though the event is intended for personal contributions only,” a finance official from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee remarked in an e-mail sent to lobbyists and acquired by Politico Tuesday. “The Issues Conference is separate from the DSCC/DCCC events with President Obama.”

The entire sentence containing the phrases “NOT subject to lobbyist restrictions” is emphasized in bold.

Entrance to the event is welcomed with a gift of $5,000 per person.

[…]

One prominent Democratic lobbyist was quoted as saying, “It’s almost like the ugly girl that you want to call late at night — but don’t want to be seen with on a date.”

  Raw Story

Jesus H. Christ. The lobbyists are pouting!

Isn’t it nice to know that even the Democrats are able to find a way around the laws of their own leader?


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


A Step in the Right Direction

Since U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled late Friday in San Francisco that former “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla can proceed with his lawsuit against “torture memo” author John Yoo, the decision has been interpreted by many in the media as a broad vindication of detainees’ rights to sue former Bush administration officials.

In fact, the ruling’s implications are narrower than that, and could also be appealed. But, still, the opinion has heartened some civil rights lawyers because it rejects many of the claims made by former Bush officials that they’re not liable for their actions formulating policy in the “war on terror.” That could persuade judges hearing other claims against former officials as well. The ruling also allows the civil case to move forward against John Yoo, and could in the process reveal significant new information not only about Yoo, but about his interaction with the White House, and exactly how he reached the legal conclusions that he did. That information could, in turn, be used against him in future criminal or congressional proceedings.

[...]

Represented by private lawyers working with a Yale Law School clinic, Padilla and his mother are now suing Yoo, among others, for orchestrating the policies that led to his treatment by U.S. officials. (Padilla has a similar case pending in South Carolina against former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.)

  Washington Independent


Tell It to the Marines

Or is that, Talk to the hand?

More change for you to believe in...

The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.

[...]

The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said. Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

[...]

Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications.

In an interview, Mr. Holt disputed assertions by Justice Department and national security officials that the overcollection was inadvertent.

“Some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental,” Mr. Holt said.

Other Congressional officials raised similar concerns but would not agree to be quoted for the record.

  NYT

We've had 2 presidential & 3 Congressional elections since the NYT found out we were being illegally spied on. And they're still finding it.

  David Waldman

Every time new revelations of illegal government spying arise, the same exact pattern repeats itself: (1) euphemisms are invented to obscure its illegality ("overcollection"; "circumvented legal guidelines"; "overstepped its authority"; "improperly obtained"); (2) assurances are issued that it was all strictly unintentional and caused by innocent procedural errors that are now being fixed; (3) the very same members of Congress who abdicate their oversight responsibilities and endlessly endorse expanded surveillance powers in the face of warnings of inevitable abuses (Jay Rockefeller, Dianne Feinstein, "Kit" Bond, Jane Harman) righteously announce how "troubled" they are and vow to hold hearings and take steps to end the abuses, none of which ever materialize; (4) nobody is ever held accountable in any way and no new oversight mechanisms are implemented; (5) Congress endorses new, expanded domestic surveillance powers; and then: (6) new revelations of illegal government spying emerge and the process repeats itself, beginning with step (1).

  Glenn Greenwald


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


A Nice Surprise

Sometimes it seems (and the media try to convince us) that a majority of Americans are scared enough or mean enough to want indefinite detention for anyone we think (or have been told) "wants to harm us." Glenn Greenwald points to a poll that shows that seems to be very far from true.


P.A.T.I.E.N.T.S

Bullshit by any other name....

Paul Krugman makes quick work of a 3-GOP-sponsors hypocritical and deceptive medical proposal.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wimps

After the CIA director apparently told The New Yorker that he thinks the former vice president is crossing his fingers for another attack on America, Cheney said Monday he hopes his "old friend" didn't really say those words.

[...]

According to The New Yorker, Panetta said Cheney "smells some blood in the water" on the security issue.

"It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that's dangerous politics," he said, according to the piece.

[...]

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called on Panetta to "retract immediately" his statement, arguing that the director crossed the line.

[...]

"By the way, I hear morale is not at an all-time high over at the CIA under Mr. Panetta's leadership," he said.

  Fox

Oh, shut up, John.

"The Director does not believe the former Vice President wants an attack," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement to CNN. "He did not say that. He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama's security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone's motives."

  CNN

Well, he certainly did. But I get it. A person can’t say anything disparaging about the growly dogs of the GOP without having to issue an apology, a retraction or an "explanation". And, in particular, if Dick Cheney says he hopes his “old friend” was misquoted, any old friend would understand that to be a directive which may be followed by an invitation to go duck hunting.

It scared Joe Biden so much he quickly tossed out a statement that he didn’t question the Big Dick’s motives.

Wimps.


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


All This Change

Are you believing yet?

It's good to be king. I'm sure that's what George said to Barack on moving day.

The Obama administration has refused to release a Secret Service list of the names of White House visitors, prompting angry comparisons to the Bush administration. The White House is arguing that it sometimes needs to hold secret meetings on sensitive issues, but a federal judge already dismissed that argument in two Bush administration cases.

  Raw Story

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs refused to say if President Barack Obama would sign an executive order to prevent the release of detainee abuse photos Tuesday.

[...]

At Tuesday’s White House briefing, spokesman Gibbs said, “All I’m going to say on this is that the president has committed to all interested parties that he intends to do what is necessary to keep those photos from being released and that he intends to keep that commitment.”

[...]

The Times story added, “In order to ease Democratic concerns, the president on Thursday sent Congress a letter saying he would take ‘every legal and administrative remedy’’ to keep the photos sealed.

  Raw Story

Click ---------->


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


Monday, June 15, 2009

Not Good

If Obama thinks release of more torture photos can't be permitted, wait till the new British documentary comes out about a slaughter in Afghanistan based on false information provided by feuding locals, which includes the torture to death of an Afghan citizen by U.S. and Afghan forces.

Update: Debunking the excuse:

Defense Department data and independent experts confirm there is no clear link between the Abu Ghraib scandal and violence in Iraq. To the contrary, U.S. troop deaths were cut approximately in half in the month after the abuse photos broke in the last week of April 2004. Attacks on coalition forces were higher in the first weeks of April than they were in the 14 weeks after the scandal broke.

[...]

Drawing a connection between the Abu Ghraib photos and the lethal violence that occurred afterward in Iraq “is opinion, not analysis,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  CQ


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


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Meanwhile in Iran

Claims of fraud and protests over elections.


Thanks for the Change

The gay blogosphere lit up like a firecraker Friday on news the Obama administration was defending the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a federal lawsuit.

The 1996 law was signed into law by President Clinton (also angering gay groups). It allows states to ignore legal gay marriages performed in other states and defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies.

During the campaign Obama called the law “abhorrent” and promised he would repeal the law.

  On Top>

Yesterday, a Democratic President of the United States of America, in the year 2009, and an African-American child of inter-racial parents no less, gave his lawyers the go ahead to compare our marriages to incest on the same day that 42 years ago the Supreme Court ruled in his parents' favor in Loving v. Virginia. And these people, along with our President, are suggesting that the appropriate response is to shrug our shoulders and go home, since, after all, the law is the law?

[...]

I'm sick of being separate, but equal. And it's now clear that many of you agree. We demand our rights, and we expect this President, who promised them in exchange for millions of our votes and millions of our donations, to deliver. And so help me God, we will continue to hold this President accountable for his broken promises and his betrayals, to hell with the lawyers.

  Americablog

Yeah, nice going BO. I wonder how he’ll swing on that don’t ask, don’t tell military thing, eh? This guy is weightless.

But please remember that both of these homophobic laws are children of the Democrats.


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


Friday, June 12, 2009

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

The violence that has surged for two years in Afghanistan reached a new high last week, and more difficulty lies ahead, the United States' top war zone commander said Thursday.

  MSNBC


So Very BassAckward

House-Senate negotiators reached agreement late Thursday on a $105.9 billion wartime spending bill after last-minute assurances from President Barack Obama that he will use all his powers to prevent the disclosure of controversial photographs depicting the treatment of detainees held by the U.S. military.

  Politico

I have read that one of the reasons they are so keen to keep these photos from coming out is that they depict abuses at places other than Abu Ghraib and therefore show just how systematic our torture policy has been, and not, as officials want to portray, the aberration of a few soldiers at Abu Ghraib who have already been punished.

Meanwhile, I repeat…

A crucial CIA Inspector General’s report from May 2004 is expected to reveal some long-hidden truths about the Bush administration’s use of torture.

According to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “This report is sort of the big kahuna in terms of what we have been waiting to see from the government’s own files on torture. That report, which is long and has been described by people who have seen it as ’sickening,’ apparently stopped the torture program in its tracks.”

[...]

“There are three key questions to look for,” [Newsweek’s Michael] Isikoff explained. “Were there harsh interrogations that began before the … legal authorizations? … Did they go beyond what was authorized? … Did it go beyond just finding out about possible plots against the United States to provide other information, such as supplying possible evidence that could be used to justify the war in Iraq?”

[...]

Isikoff emphasized, however, that almost none of this information is being released voluntarily. It’s being slowly pried out through Freedom of Information Act requests, most of them filed by the ACLU, and “it’s become trench warfare — document by document.”

  Raw Story


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


I Bet You Didn't Know

The murder at the Holocaust Museum was committed by a leftie!

Oh, yeah.


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


Speaking of Joe the Plumber

Of the unforgiveable things Crusty McCain has done, I rate as #1 the foisting of Sarah Palin on us. Otherwise we might never have known anything about her and been the better for it. Or at least the happier.


Hooray for the ACLU

Please check out their website: Accountability for Torture

Meanwhile…

A crucial CIA Inspector General’s report from May 2004 is expected to reveal some long-hidden truths about the Bush administration’s use of torture.

According to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “This report is sort of the big kahuna in terms of what we have been waiting to see from the government’s own files on torture. That report, which is long and has been described by people who have seen it as ’sickening,’ apparently stopped the torture program in its tracks.”

[...]

“There are three key questions to look for,” [Newsweek’s Michael] Isikoff explained. “Were there harsh interrogations that began before the … legal authorizations? … Did they go beyond what was authorized? … Did it go beyond just finding out about possible plots against the United States to provide other information, such as supplying possible evidence that could be used to justify the war in Iraq?”

[...]

Isikoff emphasized, however, that almost none of this information is being released voluntarily. It’s being slowly pried out through Freedom of Information Act requests, most of them filed by the ACLU, and “it’s become trench warfare — document by document.”

  Raw Story


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


Glenn Greenwald Nails It

The predominant mentality in right-wing political rhetoric finds expression in this form: "I am part of/was born into Group X, and Group X -- my group -- is both better and treated so very unfairly." This claim persists -- indeed, is often intensified -- even when Group X is clearly the strongest, most privileged and most favored group. So intense is their need for self-victimiziation -- so inebriating is their self-absorption and so lacking are they in any capacity for empathy -- that, for all the noise and rhetoric, the argumets they make virtually always have this tribalistic self-absorption at its core.

[...]

It's a defining attribute of early adolescence to be incapable of seeing the world through any lens other than total self-centeredness, self-absorption and empathy-free self-obsession. If you watch for it (principally though not only in) right-wing discourse, you will see that this is really the central theme animating most of what they write: My group is superior. My group (political, national, religious, ethic, gender) is victimized and treated unfairly. The misery and suffering my group inflicts on far less powerful groups is irrelevant and always justifiable. They never advanced beyond the adolescent stage of tribalistic self-absorption and it's amazing how completely that lies at the core of most of what they believe and argue.

  Glenn Greenwald

And I think many of them don't actually admit inflicting any misery and suffering. They see it as taking care of business – doing what needs to be done to survive in a world that’s always persecuting them.


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


Ike Recovery

I wasn't in Galveston for the hurricanes before Ike, but there were a couple of others that were pretty bad in the recent past. I don't think any of them ate Murdoch's the way Ike did... ...but they tell me that Murdoch's has been seriously damaged before and always returns. I'm so glad.

They're working on it now with signs that say it will be open in the spring of 2010. I hope they have different contractors/subcontractors/laborers than we've got where I work. But, I'm going to be optimistic for them. Yippee. Murdoch's is rising from the ashes.

Sadly, the historic Balinese Room will not be resurrected. All that's left of it is the stubs of some support posts way out in the water. They've put up a plaque in its place on the street.

And sadly, many, if not most, of our old live oaks (I think I heard 60%) are going to have to be cut down. The island will look a lot different without them. Especially Broadway. I'm going to really miss these old beauties.

But, we still have our sunrises.


Sotomayor Nomination

I am quite confidant that after all the hoopla over Sonia Sotomayor's judicial qualifications - excuse me, her character - that she will be confirmed for the Supreme Court. The ridiculous GOP charges center on the fact that they see a female, and a Latina female at that, and freak out. That alone makes them afraid she's a LIBERAL!, but Jonathan Turley explores the accuracy of that assessment and finds it wanting.

It's similar to all the screeching they did about Barack Obama being the MOST LIBERAL! member of Congress, which was far, far from the truth. It sure sucked in all the Joe the Plumbers, though.

Speaking of Joe, Jean says that he's going to be speaking in Columbia, Missouri, tomorrow. Since I will be there, I will....no, no. I won't. Sorry. You'll have to get that news from somebody else. I will be visiting my newlywed son on leave from Iraq and other family. And even if that weren't happening, I would have to be doing something hateful to prefer to listen to Joe blow.


....but hey, if you want to, Joe's in Columbia, Missouri this weekend.


Meanwhile in Iran

John Kerry finally breaks the taboo in Washington to say what everyone already knows. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful, civilian energy purposes. The Bush administration's lame attempt to unilaterally revise the NPT to forbid Iran from this capability just made the US a laughingstock in the international community.

  Juan Cole

Oh, I think Mr. Bush may have only polished our international reputation to a fine sheen. At any rate, Iran votes today – Ahmadinejad may be out.

The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet. --Mark Twain


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Well, Good

In an order issued just a short while ago, the Minnesota election court has now commanded Norm Coleman to pay Al Franken $94,783.15 in itemized costs from the trial.

  TPM

It’s about time all this stalling dog and pony show cost Coleman something. But it’s not enough. Millions of dollars, exploitation of the election process and lack of representation for Minnesota have accrued in this blatant ongoing play to stop the Senate from seating a Democratic candidate. Where are all the Republicans who were screaming for Al Gore to have some integrity and go away and let the government get its business done?

I'm no Democrat, but I'm looking forward to seeing Al Franken at work in the Senate. At this rate, I may be dead by the time it happens.


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


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Politician’s Nature

For Democrats, "FOIA is as sacred as Social Security and Medicare." If Democratic members of Congress aren't willing to defend the decades-old transparency law which they long championed -- all because a Democratic President now wants the power to override it and two neoconservative Senators are spewing the rankest fear-mongering in order to compel its abandonment -- then what will they defend? Wasn't one of the main criticisms of the GOP Congress that they abdicated their duties to impose checks on the GOP President and instead capitulated to all of his demands, all because they were members of the same party? Why would the Democratic Congress want to replicate that behavior and allow a Democratic President to constrict their own long-standing transparency law?

  Glenn Greenwald

Uh…because they’re Congress?

For years under Bush, most Democrats in Congress were petrified about voting against war funding bills -- even when they contained unrelated amendments they found offensive -- because they were so scared that they would be accused of "failing to support the troops." Yet Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are perfectly willing to threaten to vote against the current war spending bill and hold up the whole Senate -- and the entire GOP House leadership (the same people who long equated opposition to war spending bills with a "failure to support the troops") also said they would vote against it due to their opposition to the IMF funding it contains.

Yep. That sounds about right. We surely are not expecting Congressmen to have any principles, are we? Yes, I know, there are a handful of exceptions. Barney Frank and Russ Feingold come to mind. But, they are rare.

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. --Mark Twain


Topsy Turvey

The Washington Independent's Daphne Eviatar has a good summary of yesterday's Senate hearing on Obama's proposed policy of indefinite, preventive detention. The hearing was shaped by an odd (though quite revealing) spectacle: the most vigorous defenders of Obama's proposal were a far right GOP Senator (Tom Coburn) and two of the most right-wing, Bush/Cheney-loyal lawyers in the country (former Reagan DOJ official David Rivkin and Ken Starr acolyte Richard Klinger). Meanwhile, Obama's proposal was vigorously criticized by the two Democratic Senators in attendence (Russ Feingold and Benjamin Cardin), along with the civil libertian and human rights advocates who testified and a former Bush DOJ federal prosectuor, David Laufman.

  Glenn Greenwald


Here We Go

First the abortion doctor killer. Now this...

An elderly gunman opened fire with a rifle inside the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday, gravely wounding a security guard before being shot. Authorities said they were investigating a white supremacist as the possible shooter.

  Yahoo


What She Said

A case was just decided in the Supreme Court 5-4 to the effect that a judge must recuse himself from hearing a case a party to which has given that judge a large campaign contribution. That seems like a no-brainer, but to this late date, it had not yet been carved in the stone of our laws.

The case in this case came out of West Virginia where, as I understand it, Massey Energy, with a $3 million campaign contribution, essentially bought a judge to put on the bench before a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the company went to appeal. Apparently four of the Supreme Court justices took issue with barring a judge to be bought for favors.

WIIIAI explains Chief Justice Roberts' reasoning.

Roberts argued that “sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.” The “disease” which he complacently suggests we just live with is judicial corruption. The lawsuits that will arise from this ruling, according to Roberts, “will do far more to erode public confidence in judicial impartiality than an isolated failure to recuse in a particular case.” This is the culture of secrecy; it is the language used by the Bush and, now, the Obama administrations to justify suppressing pictures of prisoner abuse. Roberts, like Obama, is unwilling to expose corruption because it would make the system look bad, and he thinks the exposure is the problem, not the corruption.


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


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

That Dog Won't Hunt

Obama didn't need Bo. He already had a dog: a wide ranging call for national security secrets.

CIA director Leon Panetta argued in a statement that releasing the material "could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security by informing our enemies of what we knew about them, and when, and in some instances, how we obtained the intelligence we possessed."

Panetta wrote that the "disclosure of explicit details of specific interrogations" would give al-Qaeda "propaganda it could use to recruit and raise funds." He called it "ready-made ammunition."

An ACLU lawyer told the Post that Panetta is in effect arguing: "The greater the abuse, the more important it is that it should remain secret."

  TPM

It was my understanding that the government is free to redact any specific language that would be a national security problem when releasing documents. I would think redacting specifics of how we obtained intelligence would be acceptable – unless the “how” was torture, in which case, “our enemies” are already well aware of that, so there's no need for redaction there.


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


Hmmmm...

The puzzling crash of Air France’s Flight 447 killed two of the world’s “most prominent” illegal arms trade and international drug trafficking foes, according to a little-noticed report.

  Raw Story

Well, that’s interesting, is it not? They probably shouldn’t have been traveling together.

Though the cause of the crash has not been conclusively determined, most experts have focused on speed sensors that may have affected the plane’s course when it was caught in severe thunderstorms.

And I’m sure that two prominent anti-drug/illegal arms trade guys were on it is just a coincidence.


We Have a Ticking Time Bomb

“I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal,” [accused murderer of abortion doctor Tiller] Roeder said. When asked by the AP what he meant and if he was referring to another shooting, he refused to elaborate further.

  WaPo

[W]hen do we get to start waterboarding this guy? Does he have any children whose testicles can be crushed? Will we keep him up for weeks on end in stress positions in extremely cold rooms to get him to break? Beat him? All the right made a very good show of how shocked and appalled they were when this man killed Dr. Tiller, so surely they will not object. So when do we get to start torturing this guy?

  Balloon Juice


In Re Boumediene

Those who voted for the Military Commissions Act of 2006 -- all GOP Senators (except Chafee) and Democrats Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar, Tom Carper, Mark Pryor, Tim Johnson, Bob Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, Ben and Bill Nelson, Debbie Stabenow, and Joe Lieberman, plus 219 GOP and 34 Democratic House members -- were in favor of keeping people like Boumediene at Guantanamo indefinitely without any right of judicial review. The only reason Boumediene was released is because the Supreme Court (by a 5-4 vote) ruled that law unconstitutional and he was thus able to have a court review the evidence (i.e., the lack thereof) against him.

Does anyone object to the term "moral depravity" being applied to those in Congress who voted to keep completely innocent people in cages for life without any opportunity to have a court review the accusations against them? If these members of Congress had their way, these completely innocent individuals would still be encaged at Guantanamo.

[...]

If Boumediene had been shipped from Bosnia to Bagram rather than to Guantanamo, then -- according to the Obama administration -- he would not have had any rights at all to any judicial review. As disgraceful as his plight is -- 7 1/2 years in a cage for no reason -- his case is actually one of the better ones when compared to those who have been shipped from far away places to be imprisoned in Afghanistan, where the Obama administration continues to argue they have no habeas rights of any kind.

  Glenn Greenwald


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


One Small Step

But a very important one.

According to sources on the Hill, the Lieberman-Graham detainee photo suppression amendment is out of the conference report of the supplemental.

For everyone who made phone calls -- pat yourself on the back.

   FireDogLake


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


More of That "Change We Can Believe In"

The Washington Post reports today that the Obama administration is now urging a federal court to keep concealed all evidence relating to the CIA's (almost certainly illegal) destruction of interrogation videotapes -- including documents showing who ordered the tapes destroyed, what the tapes revealed, the reasons why those decisions were made, etc. The administration's rationale for that concealment is exactly the same as for concealment of the torture photos: namely, the administration is "arguing to a federal judge that [disclosure] would endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts."

  Glenn Greenwald

Jesus, they use that argument for everything. I bet they have it on a rubber stamp. Okay, the Bush Administration had it on a rubber stamp. Obama’s people have it recorded as a macro.


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


Monday, June 08, 2009

Please, and Good Riddance

Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn is reportedly threatening dire consequences for both legislators and the Church if New York lifts the statute of limitations to allow victims of child sex-abuse to sue. The one-year suspension will, according to the Bishop, bankrupt the Church and lead to social and political backlash for legislators.

  Jonathan Turley

Ah yes, there’s the Catholic Church of yore. We knew she was still there. Money and politics right out front for all to see.

The Bishop has suggested that, if forced to bear the cost of all of its abuse of children in the past, the Church would have to close parishes, suspend social programs, and risk bankruptcy.

Good! Close down that global pedophile ring. Put social programs back on the shoulders of the entire country via state and federal governments where they properly belong. There ought to be prison sentences, too. And they ought to include the Bishop of Rome and anyone else who covered for these SOBs and moved them to new places to abuse again rather than face their crimes.

From the comments section of the article:

mespo727272 1, June 7, 2009 at 11:33 am

LeVerdad:

“The truth of the matter is that Trial lawyers across the country are pushing for this bill because they get a 33% cut of the millions that “victims” receive.”

**********

Actually, we charge a third plus the costs just to be clear. I fail to see why that matters but maybe in your demagogical world it does to some. My point is that you hate both the victims and their advocates because it threatens your strongly held beliefs that somehow the Church was innocent of this criminal conspiracy. It wasn’t — as deposition after settlement after mea culpa has proven to those not blinded by the faith. And it wasn’t limited to the Country either — ask the Irish. My problem with folks like you is that you would damn to Hell anyone else who engaged in this type of behavior based on verse after verse of Christian holy text, but when it roosts at home, well, the victims are exaggerating or their lawyers are putting them up to it. Hypocrisy is truly the world’s largest religion. Lest you believe I am making this up, ask your parish priest what sort of punishment the Holy Church meted out to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law. You know the churchman who admitted he protected priests who engaged in raping children. Here’s a hint: he’s living in Rome at the Vatican in much nicer accommodations that the Church afforded Galileo.

Indentured Servant 1, June 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

why dosent the RCC remove these men and women when they commit these acts? They could send them to a convent or monestary and keep them away from the public.

Put them to good use brewing beer, pass that damn recipe from the Trappists in Belgium around so the rest of us can have some good bier.

mespo727272 1, June 7, 2009 at 11:42 am

Indentured:

“why dosent the RCC remove these men and women when they commit these acts? They could send them to a convent or monestary and keep them away from the public.”

***********

They tried that by sending them to the New Mexico diocese. It resulted in the highest incidence of child sexual abuse being exported out west.


But North Korea Actually Has Nukes

U.S. reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee have been sentenced to 12 years hard labor in North Korea after being captured while covering the misery of defectors along the China-North Korea border.

They were sentenced for the “grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing.” The grave crime included reporting on the conditions of the last Stalinistic regime in the World with its rampant starvation and abuses.

  Jonathan Turley

At a similar point in the Iranian arrest of journalist/spy Roxana Saberi freedom was negotiated within days. How long will these two actual reporters remain imprisoned?


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


Seven Years in Gitmo

In 2001, [Lakhdar] Boumediene, his wife and two young daughters lived in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He worked for the Red Crescent Society, having done stints for the organization in Pakistan and Albania.

He was arrested by Bosnian police in October 2001 and charged with conspiring to blow up the U.S. and British Embassies. He called the charges false and ludicrous.

"They search my car, my office, nothing. Cell phone, nothing. Nothing. Nothing," he said.

The charges were dropped, and the Bosnian courts ordered him and five others freed. But under pressure from the Bush administration, the Bosnian government handed him over to the U.S. military.

And his luck ran out.

Boumediene said the interrogations began within one week of his arrival at [Guantanamo]. But he thought that his cooperation, and trust in the United States, would serve him well and quicken his release.

"I thought America, the big country, they have CIA, FBI. Maybe one week, two weeks, they know I am innocent. I can go back to my home, to my home," he said.

But what he got instead was 7 -1/2 years of brutality.

As for Boumediene's allegations of abuse, the Pentagon said, "Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values, endangers our security and is not tolerated. All credible allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated and, when substantiated, individuals are held accountable for their actions."

Yes, we’ve noticed.


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


Sunday, June 07, 2009

As If the Iraqi Police Don't Have Enough on Their Hands

Iraqi security forces arrested five U.S. contractors suspected of playing a role in last month's slaying of an American in Baghdad's Green Zone, Iraqi security officials said Sunday.

[...]

"An investigation unit at the Interior Ministry investigated the murder and reached the conclusion that the Americans who worked with [the victim] . . . are suspected of killing him," [Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, Deputy Minister of Interior] said. "These people are under arrest and will be interrogated according to a judicial order."

[...]

[Jim] Kitterman, a 60-year-old Texan who owned a construction company, was found dead May 22. He had reportedly been stabbed, blindfolded and bound, and left inside his car.

  LA Times

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani, who supervises Iraqi police, said it appeared that Kitterman was killed because of an undisclosed "financial situation."

[...]

[An] official of Corporate Training Unlimited, a Fayetteville, N.C.-based security company, said the five included Donald Feeney Jr., 55, who founded the company in 1986, his son Donald Feeney III, 31, and three other employees.

"I think everybody is devastated by the loss, including the Feeneys. And they're cooperating fully with the investigation," company spokeswoman Sarah Smith said. "They've not been charged with anything. And we suspect that they won't be charged with anything."

[...]

CTU trains corporate officials on how to avoid terrorists while they are overseas.

[...]

Kitterman had also been working in Iraq since 2003 and founded a small construction company that operates from the Green Zone.The Iraqis have begun removing some of the protective blast falls around the Green Zone — part of a campaign to restore a sense of normalcy as violence in the city has waned.

Violence, however, continues.

  Yahoo

Kamal, who declined to release the names of the detainees, said Iraqi forces also uncovered unregistered weapons and drugs during their raid of the compound.

An FBI official told FOX News on Sunday that the bureau is assisting with evidence collection and other investigative procedures. Iraqi forces asked the FBI for help, the official said.

  Fox

The Iraqis have begun removing some of the protective blast falls around the Green Zone — part of a campaign to restore a sense of normalcy as violence in the city has waned.

Violence, however, continues.

  Yahoo

That story is just chock full of irony.


Torture: More Leakage, More Spin

James Comey emails have been “leaked” to the NYT.

As Marcy Wheeler documents, the leak to the NYT was clearly from someone eager to defend Bush officials by suggesting that Comey's emails prove that all DOJ lawyers --- even those opposed to torture on policy grounds -- agreed these techniques were legal, and the NYT reporters, Scott Shane and David Johnston, dutifully do the leakers' bidding by misleadingly depicting the Comey emails as vindication for Bush/Cheney (Headline: "U.S. Lawyers Agreed on the Legality of Brutal Tactic"; First Paragraph: "When Justice Department lawyers engaged in a sharp internal debate in 2005 over brutal interrogation techniques, even some who believed that using tough tactics was a serious mistake agreed on a basic point: the methods themselves were legal").

I defy anyone to read Comey's 3 emails and walk away with that conclusion.

[...]

The primary argument against prosecutions for Bush officials who ordered torture is that DOJ lawyers told the White House that these tactics were legal, and White House officials therefore had the right to rely on those legal opinions.

[...]

Dick Cheney, David Addington and George Bush himself continuously exerted extreme pressure on DOJ lawyers to produce memos authorizing them to do what they wanted to do -- not because they were interested in knowing in good faith what the law did and did not allow, but because they wanted DOJ memos as cover -- legal immunity -- for the torture they had already ordered and were continuing to order. Though one won't find this in the NYT article, that is, far and away, the most important revelation from the Comey emails.

[...]

The key excerpts tell the story as clearly as can be. Comey was vehemently opposed to a draft memo written by Acting OLC Chief Steven Bradbury -- ultimately dated May 10, 2005 (.pdf) -- that legally authorized the simultaneous, combined use of numerous "enhanced interrogation techniques" on detainees. This "combined techniques" memo was crucial because these were the tactics that had already been used on detainees, and -- after the prior OLC memos authorizing those tactics were withdrawn -- the White House was desperate for legal approval for what they had already done and what they wanted to do in the future.

Comey begins by noting that OLC lawyer Patrick Philbin had expressed numerous objections to the Bradbury memo -- all of which were being ignored in the rush to give the White House what it wanted.

[...]

Comey then noted that he, too, had "grave reservations" about the DOJ legal opinion:

[...]

”I expressed my concerns, saying the analysis was flawed and that I had grave reservations about the [...] opinion.”

Does that sound to you like there was unanimity in the DOJ about the legality of these methods?

[...]

The following day, Comey noted that the loyalty of DOJ lawyers lay with the White House, not with the Justice Department, and they were thus willing to comply with the demands of Cheney and Addington even at the expense of their duties as DOJ lawyers.

[...]

”I had just said things to [AG Gonzalez’s] chief of staff that would have lit the prior AG’s COS’s hair on fire. [...E]veryone seemed to be thinking as if they still work at the White House and not the United States Department of Justice.

[...]

[My] job was to protect the Department and the AG and [...] I could not agree to this because it was wrong.”

  Glenn Greenwald

James Comey was the one Bush Administration official in the spotlight who showed some courage and integrity. Of all the Bush officials that Obama has seen fit to include in or nominate for his administration, James Comey stands out glaringly as the one passed over.

[T] those memos -- just like the pre-war CIA reports about The Threat of Saddam -- were coerced by White House officials eager for bureaucratic cover for what they had already ordered. This was done precisely so that once this all became public, they could point to those memos and have the political and media establishment excuse what they did. [...] That is the critical point proven by the Comey emails, and it is completely obscured by the NYT article, which instead trumpets the opposite point ("Unanimity at DOJ that these tactics were legal") because that's the story their leakers wanted them to promote.

[...]

Other journalists, too slothful to read the Comey emails themselves, will get the message and go forth and repeat it, and it will soon be conventional wisdom that "everyone" at the DOJ agreed these torture techniques were legal.

[...]

But that's how our media works: anonymous government officials tell them what to say; they write it down uncritically; and it then becomes conventional wisdom regardless of how false it is.

We call it propaganda. When other countries do it.

Now, Greenwald assumes that the leaker wanted the NYT to put this angle on the emails. I suppose it could be just as likely that the leaker wanted to make the points that Greenwald is making, but the NYT reporters themselves (and the NYT editors) decided to minimize the damage of the leak to the Bush Administration by painting it otherwise.

At any rate, here are the emails. Very interesting. Please read.


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


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Here's Your Change

President Obama's nominee to be U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis withdrew his name from consideration Friday after it became clear lawmakers would question his involvement in interrogation and detainee policies under President George W. Bush.

Philip Mudd, currently a top official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said he was bowing out because he knew "this position will require the full cooperation with Congress and I believe that if I continue to move forward I will become a distraction to the President and his vital agenda."

  ABC

We can’t have any more high profile questioning. THAT is not in the President’s agenda, for sure. And we certainly wouldn’t want the fact that we tortured people to death and are harboring dozens of war criminals to distract us.

Democrats on Capitol Hill had signaled their intention to probe Mudd's knowledge of and role in approving brutal interrogation techniques -- some of which qualify under international law as torture -- used by CIA officials against detainees.

Well, hey, good for the Democrats for once. What’s their angle on this one? They sure aren’t smoothing the path for their leader the way the Republicans do. No wonder they aren’t very effective.

Mudd is the second potential Obama administration official to opt out of what was looking to be a grueling confirmatiom process because of ties to Bush-era interrogation policies.

And for the love of Pete, why does Obama insist on nominating these people? Change. Oh yeah, big man. Lots of change you’re bringing. Please, let me hear some Obama apologists say that he’s nominating these people knowing they won’t make it, just to “out” them.


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


Good Times, Good Times

With jobs cuts continuing, we are now at an unemployment rate of roughly one in ten Americans — not including temp jobs or low wage service jobs.

The good news is that the loss of jobs is slowing.

However, we are now seeing the impact of our crushing deficit spending. The government has been pouring out money and it is now endangering recovery according to the Chinese who hold $768 billion in our Treasuries.

I’d keep on writing but the combination of these reports and the invention of a new robot teacher has led me to start a subsistence garden.

  Jonathan Turley

“Not including temp jobs or low wage service jobs.” Isn’t that most of our employment these days?


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


Continuing the Gitmo B.S.

A plan under consideration by the Obama administration would permit Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial, it has been reported.

  Raw Story

How nice!

This option would principally be aimed at a group of detainees accused of planning the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, five people who have already indicated they prefer this resolution of the case, The New York Times said in a story posted late Friday on its Web site.

Prefer it because….? Prefer it to military commissions? Prefer it to just hanging around pretending they might someday get a trial? I want to know the what and the why of this alleged preference.

One advantage of permitting guilty pleas by defendants in the Sept. 11 case would be that the government would not have to expose harsh interrogation techniques during full trials that would otherwise have to be carried out, the Times said.

No kidding. It has great advantage to the government. But what’s the advantage to the detainee?

It said the proposal to permit guilty pleas — which are not allowed in the legal framework the U.S. military uses in trials for its own personnel — would in effect permit the Sept. 11 defendants to achieve a self-proclaimed desire for martyrdom.

Ah. Well, if that’s what they want…they can always try to attack a guard.

The theory behind the ban on such pleas in trials for U.S. military personnel is that prosecutors would have to prove their case in court against any individual facing such a serious charge.

What a stupid idea. Jeesh. This is America, in case you forgot. But let me get back to the whole thing about not permitting guilty pleas. A defendant in a U.S. court can plead guilty and waive a right to trial. This article tells us that the reason we don’t permit detainees to plead guilty is that they could then be considered martyrs. There we go, mixing religion and civil rights again. But…why can’t our own military personnel plead guilty in military trials?

U.S. military law, which is the model for the military-commission rules, bars members of the armed services who are facing capital charges from pleading guilty. Partly to assure fairness when execution is possible, court-martial prosecutors are required to prove guilt in a trial even against service members who want to plead guilty.

  Denver Post

Partly to assure fairness makes little sense. If the defendant pleads guilty, where’s the unfairness? But, never mind…what’s the other part?

Update: Glenn Greewald Chimes in.

The primary reason to avoid trials upon a guilty plea is to prevent public disclosure of the details of the torture we inflicted on these detainees.

  Glenn Greenwald

Yes. So it makes me wonder whether their “preferences” for pleading guilty came about in a similar way as their confessions.


Change We Can Believe In

President Barack Obama has tapped an anti-abortion activist to a senior Health and Human Services "faith-based" position just a week after the murder of prominent abortion doctor George Tiller.

Alexia Kelley is executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), and will head the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to The American Prospect, a liberal magazine, "Kelley is a leading proponent of 'common ground' abortion reduction -- only CACG's common ground is at odds with that of Obama. While the administration favors reducing the need for abortion by reducing unintended pregnancies, Kelley has made clear that she seeks instead to reduce access to abortion."

  Raw Story

What gives? I thought we were going to be a reality-based country now.


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


All God's Children



Friday, June 05, 2009

Disgusting People - Part II

Glenn Greenwald indicates that a Dem refusal to pass the war funding bill might have more to do with the fact that that particular bill had the amendment granting Obama the right to suppress war crimes photos from Abu Ghraib. I'm still going with my original reaction to it - I think the story I quoted had it right - they're withholding votes in an effort to get something they want. I long ago gave up the idea that they might do something because it's the right thing to do.


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


Go Cindy

Cindy Sheehan, who gave the Bush-era's peace movement a proper kick-off by camping out in a ditch down the street from the former president's ranch after her son died in Iraq, is still honing her protest craft.

Because really, to her, the Bush administration will never truly end until its key players are prosecuted.

On Monday, June 8, Cindy and friends will march on former President Bush's new home in the well-to-do Dallas suburb of Preston Hollow.

  Raw Story

And I have the day off. I should probably be there. But, Cindy, I’m more concerned about being sure I make it to meet my son who will be home on leave from Baghdad. Sorry. And good luck with that.

"Go away," resident Kathie Taub said. "Go back! Leave us alone!"

Taub said Sheehan had already protested and should "now leave everybody alone."

That’s the American spirit, Kathie. I defend your right to say something once. You had your say, Cindy. You lost. Go away.

I’m afraid Kathie, in her upper class womb, doesn’t understand the spirit of struggle. She probably never had to.

Of course, Cindy is quite comfortable being ridiculed by practically all sides (including her own). The "Peace Mom," as she became known, was hit by the right for criticising the invasion of Iraq and, eventually, by the left for being a perpetual spotlight-seeker.

Apparently “the left” doesn’t understand it either.

In spite of the sympathy I feel for her cause, I can't help but wonder what this is meant to accomplish ... Aside from, ah, annoying the neighbors. Looks like a lot of Dallasites feel the same.

Apparently neither do Stephen C. Webster and/or David Edwards who put together the Raw Story article.

Happily, there are a lot of comments to their article that set them straight about the right and reason to continue protesting when a war criminal goes unpunished and is allowed to live in luxury amongst us. I feel a bit encouraged.


Disgusting People

US House Democrats said Thursday they would not vote this week on a war supplemental spending bill after Republicans balked at funding for the International Monetary Fund.

  Raw Story

The terror of war, the great loss of life – and worse - that it is causing is nothing more than a bargaining chip to the House Dems.

Update


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


Again, I Let Somebody Else Do the Hard Work

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It

“I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.” [...] I’m not sure if all this talk about the relationship between the US and Islam treats Islam as a nation or the US as a religion.

  WIIIAI

Precisely. The whole approach is offputting and erroneous. And sadly ubiquitous around the globe.

“Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed.” George Washington, War of Independence, ring a bell at all? “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding.” Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, ring a bell at all? Really, did he just tell us that slaves shouldn’t have resisted slavery with violence?

That’s what I heard.

Jesus.

Please read the whole post if you didn't hear the speech.


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


Meanwhile in Pakistan

A suicide bomber killed 30 people attending Friday prayers at a mosque, while a roadside bomb left four soldiers dead in Pakistan's tribal belt — the latest violence to rock the country's northwest as the army says it is beating back the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

The attacks came as U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke met with top Pakistani officials after evaluating the plight of some of the nearly 3 million Pakistanis made refugees by the Swat offensive. Hundreds trying to return home to Swat on Friday were stopped by troops.

  Yahoo

I'd say it's pretty well entrenched.


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


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Yep, That's My Galveston

Galveston's Judge Kent to quit next year

Prison- bound U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Kent told President Barack Obama on Tuesday he fully intends to keep his $174,000-a-year post for another year — a notice that further fueled the angst of members of Congress who vowed a fast-track impeachment.

“I hereby resign from my position as United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas effective June 1, 2010,” Kent wrote the president, putting the effective date in italics. Until that date — or his impeachment — he will continue to draw a salary from taxpayers.

[...]

The 59-year-old jurist admitted in the plea deal that he had non-consensual sexual contact with two female court employees between 2003 and 2007.

[...]

Kent was sentenced on May 11 after pleading guilty in February to obstruction of justice for lying to a judicial inquiry looking into allegations that he had repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted a court employee.

[...]

Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, said Congress will impeach Kent “well before the end of that year because he’s taking up a position on the bench and we need a judge sitting on that bench.”

  Houston Chronicle

Well, I hope.

The date is designed to milk the system of as much benefits as possible — only to resign shortly before any completion of impeachment.

Absent a voluntary resignation or impeachment, Kent can continue to receive his judicial salary. To engage in such open pilfering of the public fisc adds yet another ignoble fact to Kent’s disgraceful end to his judicial career.

[...]

[Kent’s lawyer Dick] DeGuerin insisted that Kent wanted to avoid a “spectacle” and had decided “to try to save the embarrassment that these useless hearings would have. That’s embarrassing for the judicial system as well as everybody involved.” Hmmm, and milking the system to the very last minute is testament to the judicial system? Of course, since Judge Kent is himself the spectacle, the best way to avoid the embarrassment is for him to resign immediately and go off to jail.

  Jonathan Turley

Kent and his lawyer are both Dicks.


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


There Goes the Neighborhood

New Hampshire's governor has signed legislation making the state the sixth to allow gay marriage.

[...]

The revised bill added a sentence specifying that all religious organizations, associations or societies have exclusive control over their religious doctrines, policies, teachings and beliefs on marriage.

  Yahoo

They were afraid the gays would try to make laws that forced them to give up their prejudice and dogma? I guess "God-fearing" people just naturally live in fear.


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


P.S. It's nice to see that human rights are alive and well somewhere.


Well That's Just Great!

The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.

[...]

President Obama sent the document to Congress on May 5 for Congressional review and possible revision, and the Government Printing Office subsequently posted the draft declaration on its Web site.

[...]

[The document] presents what appears to be an exhaustive listing of the sites that make up the nation’s civilian nuclear complex, which stretches coast to coast and includes nuclear reactors and highly confidential sites at weapon laboratories.

[...]

Each page is marked across the top “Highly Confidential Safeguards Sensitive” in capital letters, with the exception of pages that detailed additional information like site maps.

  NYT

So how did they accidentally – or “mistakenly” – publish that on a website? They didn’t notice the page headings?


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


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Shut It Down

A Guantanamo detainee has died in what the military are calling an "apparent suicide" -- and civil liberties groups are calling for action.

[...]

Al-Hanashi, a Yemeni, had been held without charge at Gitmo since February 2002. Medical records released previously indicate that at one stage he joined a long-running hunger strike to protest his confinement. In December 2005, he weighed about 86 pounds.

  TPM