Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Got Change?

No. You've got Bush with a better vocabulary.

A key senior figure in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program, which used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage, remains in the same position today as a chief Obama Defense Department spokesman and the agency’s head of all media operations.

[...]

Barstow’s Times expose revealed a comprehensive, covert Pentagon campaign -- beginning during the lead-up to the Iraq War and continuing through 2008 -- that shaped network military analysts into what internal documents referred to as “message force multipliers” and “surrogates” who could be trusted to parrot Bush administration talking points “in the form of their own opinions.” Barstow’s reporting also detailed how most of the military analysts, traditionally viewed as authoritative and independent, had ties to defense contractors with a stake in the same war policies they were interpreting daily to the American public.

  Raw Story


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


Is This News?

The FBI’s release of portions of its internal manual for investigations is stoking fears among some civil liberties and Muslim organizations that the federal law enforcement agency is engaged in intrusive surveillance of political and religious groups with no connection to crime or terrorism.

  Politico

Not possible.


Pathetic, But Predictable

The Brits dropped some leaflets containing public guidance information in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, one box didn't separate in the air, and the whole box fell on an Afghan girl, killing her. I assume the next printing will contain information on taking cover when British flights are overhead.

The Brits are blaming the Afghan people, of course. The reason being that they took her to a local hospital. Apparently, they were supposed to contact the very Brits who dropped the bundle on the girl so she could be taken to a British facility, where, of course, her life would have been saved.

The girl is number 1,500 - give or take a few - in the list of innocent civilians killed so far just this year in Afghanistan.

“If her family request compensation, we will obviously give it consideration,” an official said.


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


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just a Possibility

Classified Bush-era documents on the administration's controversial interrogation and rendition programs are missing, according to a recent court filing submitted by the Obama Justice Department. But a Justice Department spokeswoman says the documents may not actually be gone; they may never have existed—even though Bush administration records say that they do. Welcome to the Case of the Disappearing Torture Documents. This is more than just a bureaucratic whodunit. There's a possibility that government officials purposely destroyed records pertaining to detainee abuse.

  Mother Jones


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


Steps in the Right Direction

Four Democratic senators have introduced a bill that would, if passed, repeal the legal immunity afforded the telecommunications industry for their participation in President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.

Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced the measure Monday.

  Raw Story

In lawsuits stemming from law enforcement and intelligence efforts after the Sept. 11 attacks, three federal courts have left open the possibility that former Attorney General John Ashcroft and a lieutenant may be held personally liable.

  Raw Story


Good luck to all. You'll need it.


Here's Your Tuesday Morning Surprise

The recession has hit middle-income and poor families hardest, widening the economic gap between the richest and poorest Americans as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.

  Yahoo


Monday, September 28, 2009

What Really Happened in Oklahoma City?

Video footage of the Murrah Building seems to have some missing moments.

The FBI in the past refused to release the security camera recordings, leading [Attorney Jesse] Trentadue and others to contend the government was hiding evidence that others were involved in the attack.

"It's taken a lawsuit and years to get the tapes," Trentadue said.

[...]

The tapes turned over by the FBI came from security cameras various companies had mounted outside office buildings near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. They are blank at points before 9:02 a.m., when a truck bomb carrying a 4,000 pound fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the building, Trentadue said.

"Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain't no such thing as a coincidence," Trentadue said.

He said government officials claim the security cameras did not record the minutes before the bombing because "they had run out of tape" or "the tape was being replaced."

"The interesting thing is they spring back on after 9:02," he said. "The absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn't want anybody to see."

  Raw Story


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


Good God Man!!

Do you not have more important things to be spending your time on???!!!!!

President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, projecting the highest-ever White House profile in lobbying for the international event.

  Raw Story

Doesn’t he have somebody he could send??? How about his wife? How about Freak Rahm? Anybody!

This guy has become a disaster. I wouldn't have thought there was any way he could be as lame as he turned out to be.

George Bush with a better vocabulary.

Here, take this information with you. And have fun in Denmark. The wars can wait. Health care for Americans can wait.

A sixteen year old [Chicago] student’s beating death in what authorities say was gang violence was caught on tape in excruciating detail.

  Raw Story


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


Sunday, September 27, 2009

It Takes a Special Arrogance

I thought the Bush group were experts at saying one thing and doing the opposite. Obama has been out-Bushing Bush since he took the office.

“No nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. “ -- Barack Obama in Cairo

The galling thing about [these lines] is that they are loaded with all the arrogance other nations resent in American conduct overseas, and it is an arrogance concealed as empathy.

  Daniel Larison at American Conservative

It’s disingenuous and insulting at best. Unless he has a radical change in mind. And judging from his campaign chant of change coupled with what he’s done so far, I’d say that’s not the case.


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


The Real State of the Union

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law and 11 months later seniors were receiving benefits. During World War II, virtually overnight FDR had auto companies making tanks and planes only. In one eight year period, America went from JFK's ridiculous dream of landing a man on the moon, to actually landing a man on the moon.

[...]

This generation has had eight years to build something at Ground Zero. An office building, a museum, an outlet mall, I don't care anymore. I'm tempted to say that, symbolically, all America can do lately is keep digging a hole, but Ground Zero doesn't represent a hole. It is a hole.

[...]

Of course we can't ban assault rifles - we're the first generation too lazy to make its own coffee. We're the generation that invented the soft chocolate chip cookie: like a cookie, only not so exhausting to chew

[...]

If America can't get its act together, it must lose the bald eagle as our symbol and replace it with the YouTube video of the puppy that can't get up. As long as we're pathetic, we might as well act like it's cute. I don't care about the president's birth certificate, I do want to know what happened to "Yes we can." Can we get out of Iraq? No. Afghanistan? No. Fix health care? No. Close Gitmo? No. Cap-and-trade carbon emissions? No. The Obamas have been in Washington for ten months and it seems like the only thing they've gotten is a dog.

  Bill Maher

I believe I was just saying that same thing. But Bill is better at it. Continue…

Even when we address something, the plan can never start until years down the road. Congress's climate change bill mandates a 17% cut in greenhouse gas emissions... by 2020!

We might pass new mileage standards, but even if we do, they wouldn't start until 2016. In that year, our cars of the future will glide along at a breathtaking 35 miles-per-gallon. [...]"What do we want!? A small improvement! When do we want it!? 2016!"

[...]

My TV remote has a button on it now called "On Demand". You get your ass on my TV screen right now, Jon Cryer, and make me laugh. Now! But when it's something for the survival of the species as a whole, we phase that in slowly.

[...]

Even if they pass the shitty Max Baucus health care bill, it doesn't kick in for 4 years, during which time 175,000 people will die because they're not covered, and about three million will go bankrupt from hospital bills.

[...]

[That’s] not reform, they're just putting off actually solving anything to a later day, when we might by some miracle have, a) leaders with balls, and b) a general populace who can think again.

[...]

We have a pretty good idea of the Republican plan for the next three years: Don't let Obama do anything. What kills me is that that's the Democrats' plan, too.


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


Obama Wants Kids in School Longer

Fifth-grader Nakany Camara [...] doesn't want a longer school day. "I would walk straight out the door," she said.

Domonique Toombs felt the same way when she learned she would stay for an extra three hours each day in sixth grade at Boston's Clarence R. Edwards Middle School.

"I was like, `Wow, are you serious?'" she said. "That's three more hours I won't be able to chill with my friends after school."

  Yahoo

Not that more time would help.

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

American students must be chillin' with their friends while in school.


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


Racing Ahead Toward Armageddon

Iran tested two types of missiles and a missile-launching system Sunday, according to the country's state-run Press TV news service.

The tests come ahead of this week's landmark talks between Iran, Germany, and the five members of the United Nations Security Council (US, Britain, France, China, and Russia) and just two days after President Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran of building a secret uranium enrichment facility.

[...]

Although an Israeli strike remains a possibility, the tactical and political difficulties of pursuing a military solution will likely deter Israeli bombing runs over Iran, writes noted security scholar Anthony Cordesman in the Wall Street Journal.

  Christian Science Monitor

So where’s the easy target? That would be the CheneyBush approach. In fact, I believe it was.


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


Political Priorities

Republican Congressional leaders are continuing their witch hunt against ACORN, the grassroots community group dedicated to helping poor and working-class people. Their campaign has gained bipartisan legislative support in the form of the Defund ACORN Act of 2009, which has now passed the House and Senate. Yet the bill was written so broadly that, as Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post has pointed out, it could "plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex."

  The Nation

I’ll vote for that.

Perhaps one of the most jarring comparisons here is the fact that ACORN is being attacked. Yet the Obama administration continues to contract with Blackwater, the Bush administration's favorite mercenary company.

[...]

Blackwater has a $217 million security contract through the State Department in Iraq--a contract just extended indefinitely by the Obama administration. It also holds a $210 million State Department "security" contract in Afghanistan, running through 2011 and another multimillion-dollar contract with the Defense Department for "training" in Kabul. This is on top of Blackwater's clandestine work for the CIA, including continuing work on the drone bombing campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This also does not take into account Blackwater's lucrative domestic work training law enforcement and military forces in the United States at the company's compounds in North Carolina, California and Illinois, nor the private "security" work it does for entities like the International Republican Institute, nor the work it does in training "faith-based organizations." Nor does it include the contracts doled out to Prince's private CIA, Total Intelligence Solutions, which works for foreign governments and Fortune 500 corporations.

[...]

Blackwater was paid more than $73 million for federally funded, no-bid security contracts with the Department of Homeland Security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, billing taxpayers $950 per man per day, a spending decision the Bush administration called "the best value to the government." In the wake of the hurricane ACORN, meanwhile, only helped poor people who were suffering as a result of the government's total failure to respond.

[...]

Blackwater has been or is being investigated by Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Justice Department and the IRS, among other agencies, for a range of issues from arms smuggling to manslaughter to tax evasion. One of its operatives pleaded guilty to killing an innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilian, while five others have been indicted on manslaughter and other charges stemming from the 2007 Nisour Square massacre, during which seventeen Iraqi civilians were gunned down. The company is also facing a slew of civil lawsuits alleging war crimes and extrajudicial killings in Iraq.

[...]

Here is a question for the Democratic lawmakers that voted in support of the Defund ACORN Act: how do you justify making this a major league legislative priority while Blackwater continues to be armed and dangerous around the globe on the US government payroll? Where is the Defund Blackwater Act?

Lawmakers’ defunding of community activist group ACORN “means there is no spine in Congress when it comes to standing up against the real crooks and criminals in this society,” military-affairs reporter Jeremy Scahill says.

Scahill, a writer for The Nation who this summer broke the story that Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater, had been implicated in at least one murder, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that ACORN got “pennies” compared to military contractors who have been convicted of crimes but continue to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from US taxpayers.

[...]

Earlier in the program, Maddow had listed off a litany of criminal accusations against numerous government contractors, including murder allegations against Blackwater; the 2000 scandal involving DynCorp, in which 13 company employees were sent home from Bosnia for running an underage forced sex slave ring; and recent claims about ArmorGroup and its alleged links to fraud and prostitution.

“Not only have these contractors not been defunded by outraged members of Congress, they all continue to get spectacularly lucrative government contracts even after all these things have been exposed,” Maddow told viewers.

“If this isn’t just a witch hunt against ACORN … then we can all look forward to the explanation from the fake-outraged Republicans and the cowering Democrats about why nothing ever inspired them to defund anyone before ACORN,” Maddow said.

[...]

Scahill suggested that it’s relatively easy to go after a grassroots community group like ACORN, while pursuing much worse allegations against defense contractors requires actual courage.

  Raw Story

Sorry, there’s no funding for courage.


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


Isn't There a Law Against Incitement?

A part-time census worker found hanging in a rural Kentucky cemetery was naked, gagged and had his hands and feet bound with duct tape, said an Ohio man who discovered the body two weeks ago.

[...]

"The only thing he had on was a pair of socks," [...] "And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something."

[...]

The word "fed" was written in felt-tip pen on 51-year-old Bill Sparkman's chest, but authorities have released very few other details in the case, such as whether they think it was an accident, suicide or homicide.

  Huffington Post

Yes, from the description, I’d probably think it was an accident. Suicide is difficult when you have you hands and feet bound. But not impossible perhaps. You’d probably have to put the duct tape over your eyes just before you jumped off the limb.

Rural Kentucky. Meth heaven. Feds.

Or…

Flashback: Bachmann Spread Fears Of Scary Stalking Census Workers

[...]

Regardless of what the motive for the killing may have been, why would a murderer(s) take such pains to so blatantly convey anger, fear, and vitriol towards a Census employee? Perhaps because some on the right have created an impression that Census employees are terrifying.

Earlier this summer, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) waged a high-profile, wildly-dishonest campaign against the Census. The Minnesota congresswoman said she was so worried about the threat of the government asking “very intricate questions” and collecting information that she would illegally refuse to fill out the form.

[...]

Bachmann’s irrational diatribes about scary stalking Census workers quickly spawned a right-wing movement. During an interview with Bachmann, Fox News’ Glenn Beck said, “Ok, so let me talk about the Census because there’s a lot of people that are concerned with it because they don’t want to fill it out, they’re not comfortable with ACORN members coming to find out all this information, they don’t want to give the government all this kind of information.”

[...]

Conservative radio host Neal Boortz told a caller, “Most of the rest of the [Census] information is designed to help the government steal from you in order to pass off your property to the moochers. They’re looters.” Boortz urged his listeners to resist the Census workers.

  Think Progress

The 2000 Census was marked by a spate of violence. [...] A Denver census taker was hijacked and stabbed, and in Chicago, a census taker was thrown down a flight of stairs.

  WaPo

But I doubt it was an accident.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

A Galveston homeowner turns an Ike disaster into an artful monument:

You know they loved that tree.

The fire station on Sealy and 25th had a chainsaw artist create a sitting dalmation and a running fire hydrant out of two of theirs.


Could You Be Any More Obvious, Kit?

US Senate Republicans on Friday pulled out of a bipartisan investigation into controversial "war on terror" detentions and interrogations, including tactics widely condemned as torture.

The move by the opposition party dealt a sharp blow to the Senate Intelligence Committee's efforts to find out exactly what methods were used when and whether they paid off -- without prosecuting witnesses or agents thought to have committed abuses.

Senator Kit Bond, the panel's top Republican, blamed Attorney General Eric Holder's investigation into alleged CIA abuse of detainees, which he said made it impossible for current or former CIA officials to work with the committee.

"Had Mr Holder honored the pledge made by the president to look forward not backwards, we would still be active participants in the Committee's review," Bond said in a statement.

  Raw Story

That’s right. If we wouldn't actually look at the abuses, the GOP would be on board.

It would be nice if this ridiculous stance forced the Dems to actually set up investigations that do prosecute, bring about a measure of justice, and discourage continuing and future incidents. But I won't expect it.


I Should Hope So, and It's About Time

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency censured Israel for its estimated 200 warheads, acquiescing in a resolution introduced by Arab states. The vote was another sign, in the wake of the damning Goldstone report on Israeli atrocities in Gaza, that the international community is fast losing patience with unilateral Israeli policies.

  Informed Comment


Juan Cole Distills the Iranian Revelation

Ahmadinejad is correct in saying that by the letter of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has not done anything illegal, insofar as the site has not gone operational and Iran is giving 6 months notice. However, the Iranian government had additionally pledged to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2006 that it would alert the UN to any new new nuclear facility immediately. So Iran may not have broken the law but it has broken its word [which is] as serious as for it to break the law.

[... However, Friday's revelations] do not change everything, though Neoconservatives will hype them as though they do. Iran has been less than forthcoming, not for the first time, but it may just be within the letter of the law. And, if it allows thorough inspections of the Qom site, it is hard to see how it could produce tons of U-235 there surreptitiously (the inspectors would immediately detect that).

[...]

I am personally opposed to further sanctions on Iran unless they are very carefully targeted so as not to harm ordinary people. Regimes running oil states are not very vulnerable to sanctions. Moreover, sanctions against Iran are deeply unfair if Israel, India and Pakistan are held harmless for ignoring the NPT altogether and for developing their bombs. In fact, the way the UNSC is proceeding against Iran is such as to destroy the NPT, because any country in its right mind would prefer to withdraw from it and just do as it pleases, a la Israel, than to submit to it and have that submission be a pretext for sanctions, even where the signatory country had done nothing contrary to the letter of the law.

  Informed Comment


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


It's Just the Kind of Thing That Happens in a War

You have to expect some collateral damage.

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – An unmanned U.S. reconnaissance drone crashed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul early on Saturday, hitting the offices of one of Iraq's biggest political parties, the U.S. military said.

[...]

Major Derrick Cheng, a military spokesman in northern Iraq [...] said it was a coincidence that the drone struck the local offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab political group.

  Yahoo

Coincidental to what?

Nice.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Is He Batting 1000 Yet?

AP is reporting that the White House is acknowledging that President Obama may not be able to live up to his promise to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay by January.

  Politico


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


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting The Last Word

Drawing on 2006 remarks in which he compared former U.S. President George Bush to the devil, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, speaking at the United Nations Thursday, said, "It doesn't smell like sulfur anymore."

  CNN


Revolving

It's what makes the world go round.

This week, Mel Martinez accepted a lobbying gig less than two weeks after resigning from the Senate.

  Politico

And thought nothing of it. It was obviously lined up sometime ago. And no other Congress person sees anything wrong with it, either. They’ve got their own plans. Or are working on them.


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


US Demanded Swiss Govt Destroy Evidence?

Apprently in 2006 a documentary was released about Sibel Edmonds – in France.

The US government has taken some extreme measures to silence former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Among other reasons, they are obviously very nervous about information that Sibel has regarding the involvement of US, Israeli, and Turkish officials in supplying the nuclear black market.

Now we have this: The US Government apparently demanded that the Swiss government destroy all evidence - all 30,000 pages of it - related to the pending prosecution of the Tinner family. The Tinners were "very key suppliers" of AQ Khan's nuclear proliferation network, but their court case is now unlikely to proceed, given the destruction of the evidence.

  Kill the Messenger

Read the article. It seems Tinner was working for the CIA.

This whole mess is extremely convoluted and complex. I doubt we'd even get to the bottom of it if anyone ever did try.


Sibel Spoke; Is Anybody Listening?

Last year, Edmonds claimed that foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

[...]

However, Edmonds was under a gag order imposed in 2002 by Attorney General John Ashcroft, preventing her from naming the senior US officials who were alleged to have divulged state secrets to foreign agents.

  Daily Kos

Well, she has named them now. Even the “liberal” blogs I read haven’t picked up on it. This is from Daily Kos, so maybe the others will take hold of it eventually.

It makes the latest business of the Obama administration pulling out “state secrets” excuses for wiretapping and preventive detention all the more ludicrous when they have a woman who has for 6 years been trying to expose an entire ring of highly placed government officials who have actually been selling state secrets to the highest bidder.


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


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Living in a Police State Makes Me Feel So Safe

You?

A fast-growing FBI data-mining system billed as a tool for hunting terrorists is being used in hacker and domestic criminal investigations, and now contains tens of thousands of records from private corporate databases, including car-rental companies, large hotel chains and at least one national department store, declassified documents obtained by Wired.com show.

Headquartered in Crystal City, Virginia, just outside Washington, the FBI’s National Security Branch Analysis Center (NSAC) maintains a hodgepodge of data sets packed with more than 1.5 billion government and private-sector records about citizens and foreigners, the documents show, bringing the government closer than ever to implementing the “Total Information Awareness” system first dreamed up by the Pentagon in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks.

  Wired


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


We'll Be Watching

President Barack Obama's administration on Wednesday made it more difficult for the government to suppress information on security grounds, amid allegations the power was used to cover up Bush-era excess.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that from today he would personally review claims to state secrecy privilege, and vowed tougher standards would be put in place.

"Under the new policy, the department will now defend the assertion of the privilege only to the extent necessary to protect against the risk of significant harm to national security," a Justice Department statement said.


"The policy requires the approval of the Attorney General prior to the invocation of the states secret privilege, except when the Attorney General is recused or unavailable."

  Raw Story

Unavailable?

They always leave themselves a loophole, don't they?

And is he going to have to recuse himself on the matters where he already used the state secrets clause for continuing and extending the Bush administration outrages? Closing the barn door after the horse is out with this little footwork, isn't he?


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


UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald comments:

On a different note, the so-called "new state secrets policy" which the Obama DOJ is set to unveil is such a self-evident farce -- such an obvious replica of all the abuses that characterized the Bush/Cheney use of that privilege which Obama himself has spent the last eight months embracing -- that I couldn't even bring myself to write about it.

Emptywheel comments:

Now why, lo after all these months, would the Administration suddenly announce their "new policy" at this instant? One reason certainly might be the fact that oral argument on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in the absolutely critical state secrets case of al-Haramain v. Obama are scheduled for this morning in front of Judge Vaughn Walker in the Northern District of California.

[...]

Tack in the distinct possibility that the government made material misrepresentations about their data mining and warrantless surveillance to the FISA Court and that illegally information thusly obtained inappropriately made its way into the affidavit for the search warrant executed on the al-Haramain Foundation in Oregon, and you see the veritable cornucopia of problems the government could be so determined to stop inquiry into in the al-Haramain litigation before Judge Walker.

[...]

There is a lot the government has to hide in al-Haramain, and they are desperate to do just that. It would be a perfect time to whip out a ruse in the form of a "new state secrets policy". Even if there is nothing at all new about it.

[...]

The Obama Administration has done nothing but put the proverbial lipstick on the existing baked pig.

Adam Serwer comments:

Eric Holder told Russ Feingold a long time ago that he shared Feingold's concerns about abuse of the state secrets privilege--the legal doctrine used to protect information vital to national security in court cases--but the administration continued to invoke the privilege to block entire lawsuits related to torture, rendition, and surveillance, rather than using it to block specific pieces of evidence, as it was originally intended. The Obama administration's abuse of the state secrets privilege mirrors the Bush administration's, and that's despite months of promises to reform its use.

[...]

The difference between the new policy and the old policy is that the old way was "more informal," according to Charlie Savage. In other words, the new policy seems to formalize the process by which we got the results that had civil liberties groups crying foul in the first place.

[...]

If anything, the "new policy" seems designed to obscure the fact that the government intends to invoke the privilege again very soon.


Gee, I Wonder

The FBI is investigating the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery. A law enforcement official says the word "fed" was scrawled on his chest.

[...]

FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is helping state police determine if Sparkman's death was the result of foul play.

  Google


Brilliant

Sleuth (2007)

Anything associated with Kenneth Branagh can be expected to be good. You will never be disappointed with Michael Caine, and he's at the very top of his game in this. But Jude Law outdoes himself.

If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favor.

Apparently, you can watch it in parts on YouTube.


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


Oh, Way to Go

This guy just gets worse and worse. Now he sounds like a cracker.

UNITED NATIONS — President Barack Obama bluntly prodded world leaders Wednesday to join the U.S. in solving pressing global problems, challenging them to move beyond "an almost reflexive anti-Americanism which, too often, has served as an excuse for collective inaction."

  Yahoo/McClatchy

I seem to recall an awful lot of American anti-UN-ism in the past decade. Maybe he should be looking in the proverbial mirror.

"Make no mistake: This cannot be solely be America's endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone," Obama said.

You don’t get cause and effect, O-man? That’s the price one pays for bullying one’s way on the stage, thumbing one’s nose at everyone else and arrogantly “going it alone.” It's called repercussions.

I don’t think this is the right attitude to take, dude.


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


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

Operating invisibly under the radar of media and public scrutiny, lobby groups and foreign agents have become the ‘epicenter’ of our government, where former statesmen and ‘dime a dozen generals’ cash in on their connections and peddle their enormous influence to the highest bidders turned clients. These groups’ activities shape our nation’s policies and determine the direction of the flow of its taxpayer driven wealth, while to them the interests of the majority are considered irrelevant, and the security of the nation is perceived as inconsequential.

  Sibel Edmonds

During the campaign, amid their state of elation, many disregarded Presidential Candidate Senator Barack Obama’s past record and took any criticism of these past actions as partisan attacks deserving equally partisan counterattacks. Some continued their reluctant support after candidate Obama became grand finalist and prayed for the best. And a few still continue their rationalizing and defense, with illogical excuses such as ‘He’s been in office for only 20 days, give the man a break!’ and ‘He’s had only 50 days in office, give him a chance!’ and currently, ‘be reasonable - how much can a man do in 120 days?!’ I am going to give this logic, or lack of, a slight spicing of reason, then, turn it around, and present it as: If ‘the man’ can do this much astounding damage, whether to our civil liberties, or to our notion of democracy, or to government integrity, in ‘only’ 120 days, may God help us with the next [(4 X 365) - 120] days.

  Just a Citizen

And then she tells us what she really thinks of Obama.


Sibel Bits

GIRALDI: And, of course, none of this has been investigated. What do you think the chances are that the Obama administration will try to end this criminal activity?

EDMONDS: Well, even during Obama’s presidential campaign, I did not buy into his slogan of “change” being promoted by the media and, unfortunately, by the na├»ve blogosphere. First of all, Obama’s record as a senator, short as it was, spoke clearly. For all those changes that he was promising, he had done nothing. In fact, he had taken the opposite position, whether it was regarding the NSA’s wiretapping or the issue of national-security whistleblowers. We whistleblowers had written to his Senate office. He never responded, even though he was on the relevant committees.

As soon as Obama became president, he showed us that the State Secrets Privilege was going to continue to be a tool of choice. It’s an arcane executive privilege to cover up wrongdoing—in many cases, criminal activities. And the Obama administration has not only defended using the State Secrets Privilege, it has been trying to take it even further than the previous terrible administration by maintaining that the U.S. government has sovereign immunity. This is Obama’s change: his administration seems to think it doesn’t even have to invoke state secrets as our leaders are emperors who possess this sovereign immunity. This is not the kind of language that anybody in a democracy would use.

The other thing I noticed is how Chicago, with its culture of political corruption, is central to the new administration. When I saw that Obama’s choice of chief of staff was Rahm Emanuel, knowing his relationship with Mayor Richard Daley and with the Hastert crowd, I knew we were not going to see positive changes. Changes possibly, but changes for the worse. It was no coincidence that the Turkish criminal entity’s operation centered on Chicago.

  AmCon

That's a little stronger than Brad Blog presented Sibel's comments about Obama & Emanuel.

Back in January 2008, Sibel was being told that the whole thing was a covert government operation. Let's see if that's the angle taken if and when the US corporate media decides to cover this. (Rupert Murdoch's UK papers covered it back when, but his vast US corporation did not.) She was in fact asked by the DOJ to falsify some translations. (Not for nothing. They offered her a "substantial" raise.) Her story also broke on 60 Minutes in August of 2004. And yet, nobody wants to talk about it. I'm not buying the covert operation. They would have just brought her into it if that were the case. This is a story of high treason in high places.

Sibel's website.


They Just Keep On Coming

Good for laughs. Good for laughs.

Remember Norman Hsu, the Hillary campaign donation collection bigshot who was found to be collecting fraudulent donations?

While Hsu was melting down in 2007 -- he jumped bail in Los Angeles, left a suicide note and was found in the fetal position on the floor of an Amtrak train in Chicago surrounded by pills -- the Clinton campaign rolled out one of its fundraising honchos to defend itself against the blowback from Hsu: a guy by the name of Hassan Nemazee.

  David Kurtz at TPM

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Hassan Nemazee, a top fundraiser for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton who was arrested last month, was indicted by a grand jury for defrauding Citigroup Inc.,HSBC Holdings Plc and Bank of America Corp. of $292 million.

  Bloomberg


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


Still Training Taliban?

Ann Jones at Tomdispatch.com suggests, based on her own experience in Kabul, that the Afghan army may not actually exist, and may, in fact be a scam whereby an Afghan joins, takes the basic training pay, and then disappears. Some may even go through it two and three times. She points out that when 4,000 Marines went into Helmand Province this spring, they were accompanied by only 600 Afghan troops, and she wonders where the others are. She has a dark suspicion that no such army tens of thousands strong even exists. The US may even have trained persons who then defected to the Taliban.

  Juan Cole

To whose surprise?

Sibel Edmonds claims that US agents were still supporting al Qaeda up to 9/11. Just thought I’d throw that in.


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


Did You Think He Said "Change"?

What? A black face in front of the Presidential seal isn't enough for you?*

Obama came into office with an ambitious agenda to develop alternative energy and cut US carbon emissions. So far Congress has done little on these issues, and no climate bill is expected from the Senate this year nor, perhaps, next. China's decision to set specific goals for its "carbon intensity" may leave the US behind as the world's biggest polluter that has no idea what to do about it.

  Juan Cole

That sounds about right. But back up. He said that was his agenda. It's not his fault if we believed him.

In January, Obama announced the most ambitious goal in the Mideast since Clinton, of finalizing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since then, aside from arranging some meetings for his special envoy George Mitchell, he has accomplished nothing worth mentioning on this front. Worse, he has been openly defied by the far rightwing Likud government of Binyamin Netanyahu, who has announced that he will build more housing on Palestinian land for Israeli illegal immigrants into Palestinian territory.
Status quo has always worked for previous Oval Office Offal.

Obama still has not gotten significant regulation and other reform of Wall Street practices enacted, so that all the shady dealings that caused last year's massive collapse are still licit. Moreover, bankers are still giving each other enormous multi-million-dollar annual bonuses to celebrate the jobs they've been doing (which look to the rest of us pretty piss poor, and, to boot, for which we are now often footing the bill).

But he’s been on late night TV a couple of times and had some pretty nice vacation digs. And got a cool dog.

*Hey, he's the one going on late night and talking about the race issue. I'm just responding. But don’t mind me. I’m still mad because somebody dropped a house on my sister.


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


What's All the Fuss?

We're acting like the big McChrystal report leak has some bearing on whether or not troops will be increased in Afghanistan. Where has everybody been? There was never any question. That's what Obama said when he came into office, and more to the point, that's the direction we have taken as a nation. We're not turning back.


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


Sibel

The AmCon article.

If there was ever a "must read", this is it.


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


Dream On

"It's not that Republicans are bad guys. This is just the bet they've made. They're going to put their chips on movement in the 35 seats in the House that have been traditionally Republican districts and trying to take them back," Biden said, according to the White House pool report.

"If they take them back, this the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do. This is their one shot," he went on. "If they don't break the back of our effort in this upcoming election, you're going to see the things we said we're for happen."

If Democrats can keep those seats, he said, Congress will finally see bipartisanship.

  TPM

You lie!

Pipe us up another dream, Joe. We are pretty gullible.

The GOP will never be bipartisanship. And they will never quit trying to break the Democrats, which shouldn’t be all that difficult given the Democrats’ limp weenies.

The thing that's sad in the whole mess is this: Obama seems like a guy who just wants to be a superstar. He’s happy with grand exposure. He made it to the top. No one who doesn’t suffer can actually be a “great man” and do “great” things, and Obama doesn’t strike me as someone who suffers. (Nor did George W. nor Slick Willie before him, and perhaps no one since Eisenhower. Our world has become too enamored of rock stars and entertainment. Politicians singing karaoke and partying on stage. Presidents doing late night TV and showing off guitar and saxaphone skills. Tom DeLay trying to act like a 'wild thing' on 'Dancing'!)

In the end, there doesn’t seem to be any real concern about America, or people, coming out of Washington. Politics is a team sport and winning is all that matters. The unfortunate result of that could be that Obama will piss away the opportunity he was handed to make some difference and go happily on to his future as an ex-president, and the US of A will continue its march forward as a machine that grinds up the world to enrich soulless men.

They're all bad guys.


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


Greenwald Update

It's worth noting that, almost invariably, the people who beat the drum for endless, debt-creating wars and a bankruptcy-inducing imperial foreign policy love to parade around as "fiscal conservatives" and "deficit hawks" when it comes to providing actual services to Americans. They support constant war and occupation which burns trillions of dollars and turns us into a debtor nation, and then run around lecturing everyone on the need to restrain spending.

  Glenn Greenwald

They have to. I wouldn’t expect anything else. Money spent on services to Americans is money unavailable for endless war.


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


Monday, September 21, 2009

Sibel

She discusses a well-organized foreign intelligence black market superstore, benefiting everyone from treasonous U.S. officials to operatives and governments in Turkey, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, al-Qaeda and beyond.

"No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds's revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files," Giraldi notes in the opening of his nearly-4,000 word article/interview. "As Sibel herself puts it," Giraldi writes, "'If this were written up as a novel, no one would believe it.'"

[...]

In 2002, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), then the ranking members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, co-wrote letters on Edmonds' behalf to Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and DoJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine, calling on all of them to take action in respect to her allegations. In 60 Minutes' 2002 report Grassley says about Edmonds: "Absolutely, she's credible...And the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story."

  Brad Friedman

And yet…where’s the reporting?

This Brad Blog post summarizes some of the major points of the AmCon article, including this little gem:

"The epicenter of a lot of the foreign espionage activity was Chicago." Hence the involvement of Hastert and Schakowsky, all of which leaves Edmonds with many concerns about Illinois' former U.S. Senator Barack Obama and his current Chief of Staff, the former U.S. Congressman from Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel.

I wouldn't want to hang that jacket on them just because of their proximity to the cancer, but there are plenty of reasons to wonder about those two. There's a lot of amazing info in this post. Check it out.


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


UPDATE: The AmCon article, which shows the Chicago remarks to be much more pointed. Check it out. You should know what the woman has to say.


The Course Is Set; Stay the Course

It's hard to overstate how aberrational -- one might say "rogue" -- the U.S. is when it comes to war. No other country sits around debating, as a routine and permanent feature of its political discussions, whether this country or that one should bombed next, or for how many more years conquered targets should be occupied.[...] For the U.S., war is the opposite of a "last resort": it's the more or less permanent state of affairs, and few people who matter want it to be any different.

[...]

In his 1790 Political Observation, James Madison warned: "Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded. . . . No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

[...]

Doesn't turning ourselves into a permanent war-fighting state have some rather serious repercussions that ought to be weighed when deciding if that's something we really want to keep doing?

  Glenn Greenwald

I’ve already decided, but who’s asking?


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


The American Conservative

Current issue:

Let's hope it generates some broad coverage. Pun unintended.


The Cult of Commander in Chief

George W. Bush left the White House unpopular and disgraced. His successor promised change, and it was clear where change was needed. Illegal acts should cease—torture and indefinite detention, denial of habeas corpus and legal representation, unilateral canceling of treaties, defiance of Congress and the Constitution, nullification of laws by signing statements. Powers attributed to the president by the theory of the unitary executive should not be exercised. Judges who are willing to give the president any power he asks for should not be confirmed.

[...]

The United States maintains an estimated one thousand military bases in other countries. I say "estimated" because the exact number, location, and size of the bases are either partly or entirely cloaked in secrecy, among other things to protect nuclear installations.The secrecy involved is such that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy did not even know, at first, that we had nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey.

[...]

The whole history of America since World War II caused an inertial transfer of power toward the executive branch. The monopoly on use of nuclear weaponry, the cult of the commander in chief, the worldwide network of military bases to maintain nuclear alert and supremacy, the secret intelligence agencies, the entire national security state, the classification and clearance systems, the expansion of state secrets, the withholding of evidence and information, the permanent emergency that has melded World War II with the cold war and the cold war with the "war on terror"—all these make a vast and intricate structure that may not yield to effort at dismantling it.

  

It would be nice if somebody actually tried.

Obama's nominee for solicitor general, Elena Kagan, told Congress that she agreed with John Yoo's claim that a terrorist captured anywhere should be subject to "battlefield law."[2] On the first opportunity to abort trial proceedings by invoking "state secrets"—the policy based on the faulty Reynolds case—Obama's attorney gen- eral, Eric Holder, did so. Obama refused to release photographs of "enhanced interrogation." The CIA had earlier (illegally) destroyed ninety-two videotapes of such interrogations—and Obama refused to release documents describing the tapes.

The President said that past official crimes would not be investigated—certainly not for prosecution, and not even by an impartial "truth commission" just trying to establish a record. He said, on the contrary, that detainees might be tried in "military tribunals." When the British government, trying a terrorist suspect, decided to use some American documents shared with the British government, Obama's attorney general pressured it not to do so. Most important, perhaps, was the new president's desire to end the nation-building in Iraq while substituting a long-term nation-building effort in Afghanistan, run by a government corrupted by drug trafficking and not susceptible to our remolding.

[...]

Gay military personnel, including those with valuable Arabic-language skills, were being dismissed at the same rate as before. Even more egregiously, the Obama administration continued the defiance of the Constitution's "full faith and credit" clause, which requires states to recognize laws passed by other states, when it defended the Defense of Marriage Act, which lets states refuse to recognize gay marriages legally obtained in another state.[...] [T]he Obama team, in June 2009, refused to release logs of those who come to the White House. (It later reversed itself, but only in response to a lawsuit.)


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




Saturday, September 19, 2009

Subtle

Wow. Politico didn't hide their hidden message today.


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


Click pic to enlarge.


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Sum of All Fears

We have a public computer lab under an automated system that assigns people to a computer as they arrive. We also have a lot of people who come in and don't want to sit next to another person when there are unused computers away from people. I understand, totally. However, the system is automated, and unfortunately written to assign seats contiguously. The fun part is the variety of plea reasons people use to get out of this order.

Today, a man told the lab attendant that he has rightophobia. I thought I might have the same phobia, but he said that means he cannot sit on the right-hand side of anyone.


Sibel Gets Traction

4,000 word cover story on FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds in The American Conservative to hit stands and web tomorrow, by former CIA agent Phil Giraldi.

  Brad Blog

So it's the far right wing of the mainstream American press that will get this story out.


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


Hold the Presses

A group of US Senators unveiled legislation Thursday aiming to strip telecommunications firms that took part in a hugely controversial Bush-era spying program of immunity from lawsuits.

  Google

And good on them.

I thought that had already been decided by a vote in which our esteemed leader and bastion of Constitutional protections supporter turned coat and sided with the weasels.


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


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Awash in Irony

Tea partiers complain that the DC subway system wasn't prepared for last weekend's rally and that some protesters were forced to rely on free market solutions (i.e., taxis) to get to the demonstration.

About What You Would Expect Update: The congressman complaining about the DC Metro voted against the stimulus package that boosted funding for the subway.

  David Kurtz at TPM


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


To Arms!

Rush Limpbowel is taking up Charlie Manson’s work. (Helter Skelter, remember? Or maybe you’re too young: Manson was bent on starting a race riot to set off the end of days.)

SEPTEMBER 15: "In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on," Limbaugh said.

  TPM

SEPTEMBER 16: In a remark extraordinary even by the standards of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio heavyweight declared on his program Wednesday that the United States needed to return to racially segregated buses.

Referring to an incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a bus, Limbaugh said: “I think the guy’s wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.”

  Raw Story


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


I Take It Back

I take it back. Apparently it was just chatter while preparing for a TV interview, and Obama doesn't seem to have really been personally aware of the MTV incident involving some (black) jackass and a cute (white) girl. Video at Raw Story. He still needs to stop horsing around and take his job more seriously. Like 24/7. IMHO.


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


Sometimes Politics Just Sucks

While we wait for the Rosemary Woods gap in the Nixon tapes to be recovered, we can check out the Clinton tapes.

They're unlikely to be as seminal or shocking as the Watergate tapes, but the long-awaited "Clinton tapes" are nonetheless certain to alter history's perspective on the former two-term president.

  Raw Story

Ha. Seminal. Nice choice of words.

Want another fun one? To hide the tapes, he kept them in his sock drawer.

But wait! There’s more.

Speaking of the Lewisnky scandal, Branch said: "What [Clinton] said was that it was a real lapse of feeling sorry for himself. He said it had to do with politics. ... I don’t know whether that’s true. All I know is that he said it happened when he thought he was doing a good job and got sucker punched."

If I recall correctly, punching isn't what the sucker did to him.

You didn’t ask me, but if you had, I’d say it was Monica who got sucker punched.

Actually, it’s difficult to decide between the two who sucked the most.


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


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Other Shoe

Hours after his release from prison, the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush said Tuesday that he had been tortured while in jail.

[...]

“I saw the chance and I seized it,” he said. “If those who blamed me knew how many destroyed houses I walked over with those shoes that I threw, and how many times those shoes mixed with the blood of the innocent, and how many times those shoes went into homes where the honor of those who lived there was disgraced, then it was probably the proper response.”

[...]

He said that he was beaten with pipes and steel cables, and that he received electric shocks while in custody. He added that there were many who would like to see him dead, including members of unidentified American intelligence agencies. Mr. Zaidi did not take questions after his brief remarks.

[...]

Not long after that, family members said, he fled the country in fear for his life.

  NYT

And on the following day...

An Iraqi man who witnesses said shouted abuse before throwing a shoe at a US army vehicle was shot dead on Wednesday in what the American military said was a suspected grenade attack.

Residents told an AFP reporter in Fallujah that Ahmed Latif, 32, whom they said was mentally disturbed, insulted the soldiers as they patrolled in the centre of the city, and then hurled a shoe at them.

The US military told AFP that a convoy in Fallujah had been attacked with a suspected grenade.

  Raw Story

Did they not notice that the "grenade" didn't go off?

Poor Fallujans. They don't stand a chance.


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


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Presto Change-O

It's now apparent that the biggest sham in American politics is Barack Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo and, more generally, to dismantle the Bush/Cheney approach to detaining accused Terrorists.

[...]

Yesterday, the Obama DOJ -- as expected -- filed a legal brief (.pdf) which adopted the arguments originally made by the Bush DOJ to insist that detainees whom they abduct from around the world and then ship to Bagram (rather than Guantanamo) lack any constitutional rights whatsoever, including habeas review. Apparently, what the Bush administration did that was so terrible, the heinous "shredding of the Constitution" they perpetrated, wasn't about the fact that they imprisoned people indefinitely with no charges -- but that they did it in Cuba rather than somewhere else.

[...]

Who knew that such grave Constitutional transgressions -- such severe denial of fundamental rights -- could be fixed so easily with a little change of scenery?

  Glenn Greenwald




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


Another Too Late in the Telling

In 2007 I finally made it to the Bush White House as a presidential speechwriter. But it was not at all what I envisioned. It was less like Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing and more like The Office.

[...]

In the first months I worked at the White House, I wrote any number of speeches praising America’s economic prosperity. There’d been month after month of uninterrupted job growth, after-tax income was increasing, exports were rising, inflation was down. “The fundamentals of our economy are strong,” we’d write. Because that’s what we’d been told. And as far as I could tell, the president was told the same thing by his economic advisers, led by Secretary Paulson.

[...]

Yet there were obvious signs that all was not well.

[...]

The economic team the president put together at first included his friend Al Hubbard. He may have been a competent adviser; I really didn’t know him. The only thing I knew about Al was that he went around putting whoopee cushions on people’s chairs in the West Wing.

[...]

I was in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with another speechwriter, a young man named Jonathan. (His last name was Horn; the president nicknamed him Horny.) We were chatting casually when the president’s favorite speechwriter came in. Chris Michel was in his midtwenties, with sandy blond hair. He was usually chipper, though at the moment his face was so pale he must have been the whitest man in the Bush White House. And that was no small accomplishment. Chris had just come from a secret meeting in the Oval Office, and without so much as a hello he announced: “Well, the economy is about to completely collapse.”

“You mean the stock market?” I asked.

“No, I mean the entire U.S. economy,” he replied. As in, capitalism. As in, hide your money in your mattress.

The secretary of the treasury, Hank Paulson, had sketched out a dire scenario. And Chris said we’d have to write a speech for the president announcing his “bold” plan to deal with the crisis. (The president loved the word bold.)

We had to reassure the American people that everything was going to be okay. As it turned out, Secretary Paulson had a plan that would fix everything: a $700 billion bailout of the financial system. The plan, like the secretary himself (who’d been pretty much a nonperson at the White House), seemed to come out of nowhere, as if it had been hastily scribbled on a sheet of paper in the secretary’s car on his way to work. Basically, it could be summed up as: Give me hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and then trust me to do the right thing.

There was no denying it. This plan was certainly “bold.”

You know there’s more.

Read.


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


Meanwhile in Iran

The legitimacy of fundamental institutions, including elections and the office of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is being questioned by a wider swath of the body politic than ever before in the Islamic Republic’s 30-year history.

[...]

Iran’s leverage is eroding, as is apparent in what the hardliners themselves are now asking Iranians to do: Forget about the principled argument, crafted carefully over many years, that Iran has a “sovereign right” to nuclear technology, and become consumed instead with fear of Western conspiracy and a fifth column aiming at a “soft” revolution. While the former argument was designed to bring the “Iranian people,” inside the country and in the diaspora, under a big tent of nationalism, presenting the nuclear program as part of Iran’s historical aspiration to take its rightful place in the world order, the latter zips the tent flap shut, depicting confrontation with the “enemy,” including alleged traitors inside the establishment, as the only way for Iran to maintain its sovereignty.

  Merip

Meanwhile, inside Iran, eminent cleric and thorn in the side of the Khomeini government, Husayn Ali Montazeri, on Monday branded Iran a "military-controlled" regime and called on the leading clerics to condemn repression. He argued that if all the major clerics (called maraji` or exemplars, i.e. people to be imitated in their views on the religious law) took on the regime, it would be forced to change.

Three of Montazeri's grandsons are said to have been taken into custody, in response.

  Juan Cole

And we would liberate them if we had any troops left. And we weren’t afraid Iran really can produce nukes. Or that Russia would step in.


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


You Are Welcome, Iraq

THE main book market, in Baghdad’s Mutanabi Street, was a hive of angry chatter this week. Bespectacled traders, complaining about new censorship laws, shouted, “This is not freedom of expression,” and talked of holding a demonstration like one last month, when journalists protested against new restrictions.

But would the booksellers dare? They said they were already worried that plainclothes policemen had been taking their names.

[...]

The Shia-led government has overseen a ballooning of the country’s security apparatus. Human-rights violations are becoming more common.

[...]

Old habits from Saddam Hussein’s era are becoming familiar again. Torture is routine in government detention centres. “Things are bad and getting worse, even by regional standards,” says Samer Muscati, who works for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby. His outfit reports that, with American oversight gone (albeit that the Americans committed their own shameful abuses in such places as Abu Ghraib prison), Iraqi police and security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating detainees, even those who have already made confessions. A limping former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said he saw that many had lost limbs and organs.

[...]

Moreover, sentencing is getting harsher, with more people sentenced to death. On a single day in June 19 people were hanged in Baghdad. In a recent report Amnesty International, a British-based group, says that more than 1,000 Iraqis face execution, often on the basis of confessions.

[...]

Journalists are prominent victims of Iraq’s judicial system. In July one was arrested for photographing a Baghdad traffic jam, after his pictures were deemed “negative” for mocking Mr Maliki’s assertion that life in the capital was improving. Last year Iraq dropped to 158th place out of 173—its lowest ranking since the American invasion—in a press-freedom table drawn up by Reporters Without Borders.

[...]

The government recently announced plans to censor imported books as well as the internet, saying it wanted to ban hate screeds and pornography.

[...]

In July the Baghdad police reimposed a nightly curfew, making it easier for the police, taking orders from politicians, to arrest people disliked by the Shia-led government. In particular, they have been targeting leaders of the Awakening Councils, groups of Sunnis, many of them former insurgents and sympathisers, who have helped the government to drive out or capture Sunni rebels who refused to come onside. Instead of being drawn into the new power set-up, many of them in the past few months have been hauled off to prison. In the most delicate cases, the arrests are being made by an elite unit called the Baghdad Brigade, also known as “the dirty squad”, which is said to report to the office of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

  Raw Story

Nicely done.


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


This Could Be Our Problem

"Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential," tweeted ABC's Terry Moran.

  TPM

Now THAT’S stupid. Why does Obama have time to concern himself with VMAs when the country is going down the crapper? And why does a news man think that’s presidential?


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


UPDATE: Video at Raw Story. I take it back. Apparently it was just chatter while preparing for a TV interview, and Obama doesn't seem to have really been personally aware of the incident.


You'd Better Sit Down

Some of the most influential aides in the closed-door Senate Finance Committee negotiations over health care reform have ties to interests that would be directly affected by the legislation.

  Politico

Who could have imagined?


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


Monday, September 14, 2009

Failing Society

Friends of the Library Hawaii and 28 branch affiliates, along with the state Public Library System, launched a "Keep the Doors Open!" fundraising drive last week with a goal of raising at least $3 million to make up most and perhaps all of the shortfall.

[...]

Library closures have been proposed or instituted recently in Dallas, Philadelphia, Providence, R.I., and Norwich, Conn. In Seattle, where 80 percent of adults have library cards, the city shut down its highly acclaimed downtown library and 26 branches all of last week to save $655,000 in its attempt to cut the libraries' budget by 2 percent, or $1 million.

  Honolulu Star Bulletin

The public library in Philadelphia may be closing its doors permanently. [...] The library is the sixth largest public library in the nation, and its precursor, the Library Company of Philadelphia, created by Benjamin Franklin, was the first public library in the United States.

[...]

Come October 2nd, all 53 library buildings throughout the city will close. Books and DVDs will no longer be available for loan. Free internet access will cease. The community programs and meetings held in the libraries will have to find another venue, and the GED and English as a Second Language educational programs will end.

  ABC

All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009

[...]

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.

  Philadelphia Free Library

Yeah! Down with socialism!

But the city’s budget woes don’t end with the expected closure of the library. If the budget is not passed, the city is planning on closing all recreational facilities, laying off 1000 police officers and closing some fire department stations.

  ABC

Uh-oh.


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


Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's Sunday

I, too, am skeptical that humans have evolved.

Freedom Worship Baptist Church in Blanchester, Ohio wanted to demonstrate the fallacy of evolution of the human species and appears to have succeeded. The Church arranged for stunt driver Louis Re of New York to jump in a motocycle over a giant horseshoe crab — an example often cited by creationists to show creatures have not evolved since they were spontaneously created a few thousand years ago.

[...]

The event is called "jumping the crab." Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt explains “[t]hey paint it as a leap of faith – believe in Christ.”

  Jonathan Turley

The horseshoe crab splinters the evolutionary theory as it has not changed( as the fossil record shows) since it's creation on Day 5

  Freedom Worship Baptist Church

A motorcyclist was hurt Friday while practicing a jump as part of a promotional event for Freedom Worship Baptist Church, which is home to what is claimed to be the world’s largest model of a horseshoe crab.

[...]

“My guys told me he came up a little short on the landing ramp,” Reinbolt said.

  Cincinnati.com

Indeed.


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


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just Because You're Paranoid...

During my interview last night with 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern [...] the man who used to personally deliver the CIA's Presidential Daily Briefings to George Bush Sr., among other Presidents, offered an extraordinarily chilling thought --- particularly coming from someone with his background.

[...]

"Let me just leave you with this thought," he said, "and that is that I think Panetta, and to a degree President Obama, are afraid --- I never thought I'd hear myself saying this --- I think they're afraid of the CIA."...

  Brad Blog

Who with any sense isn’t?

McGovern went on to note "the stakes are very high here," in relation to Attorney General Eric Holder's recently announced investigation of the CIA now under the direction of Panetta. "His main advisers and his senior staff are liable for prosecution for war crimes. The War Crimes statute includes very severe penalties, including capital punishment for those who, if under their custody detainees die. And we know that at least a hundred have, so this is big stakes here."

[...]

"And so if you're asking why Obama and Panetta are going very very kid-glove-ish with the CIA, I think part of the reason, or the explanation is they're afraid of these guys because these guys have a whole lot to lose if justice takes its course.”

Which is why, in these situations, it never does and why it never will.


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


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Surprise, Surprise

Last week,TWI [The Washington Independent] first reported that the Department of Defense appears to have stopped releasing information about the deaths of detainees in its custody in Afghanistan and Iraq. (It has continued to release them concerning detainees at Guantanamo, most of whom are represented by lawyers.) Despite numerous daily requests for a response from the Pentagon since the middle of last week, TWI has still not received any information from the government about whether or why it stopped issuing these reports for its other detention centers abroad.

[...]

The international Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, requires each signatory country to report publicly the deaths of detainees in its custody. But because President Bush early on decided that detainees in the “war on terror” are not technically “Prisoners of War” entitled to the protections the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. military has not followed that requirement.

The Obama administration does not appear to have changed the reporting policy, although at least some officials in the administration have declared the “war on terror” over. Still, the Pentagon under President Obama has not resumed regular reporting on the deaths of prisoners in custody, says Miles. The system is “still shut down,” he said. “Obama hasn’t opened it up. It’s just mysterious to me.”

  TWI

Oh, I don’t think that’s too hard to understand.

Regardless of the DoD policy, however, the result of the suppression of this information is that no one seems to know how many detainees in U.S. custody have died – including how many of those have been murdered or tortured to death – since the “war on terror” began.

Bingo.




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


Single-Payer

Where do Dennis Kucinich and the GOP meet? On the value of a single-payer health plan, of course. With one small detail of difference.


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


Who's Telling the Truth?

Maybe neither Joe Wilson nor President Obama. Maybe it's Dennis Kucinich.

KUCINICH: Well, the president gave a great speech. No one gives a better speech that President Barack Obama. But when you look at the details of the speech, private insurance companies are going to get at least 30 million new customers mandated. People will have to buy private insurance — first time that’s happened in the history of America. And the government is going to subsidize those people who can’t afford it.

Now, what this means is inevitably the money’s going to go over to the insurance companies. We’re investing in the wrong people. We should be investing in a system where people have not just basic health care, but where they have vision care, dental care, mental health care, prescription drug, long term care covered. We could do that with the system we have right now.

Instead, the insurance companies are being given a huge break. The pharmaceutical companies are getting a windfall because we still haven’t dealt with the Medicare Part D problem, where the government doesn’t negotiate a price with the pharmaceutical companies for this program like Veterans does and knocks down the price of pharmaceuticals.

[...]

The costs are not going to be sustainable. Inevitably, you’ll be talking about cutting benefits to people. This system is another — it’s a bailout for insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

[...]

Wall Street created a crash — the government came back and gave Wall Street trillions of dollars. We rewarded the bad actors. The insurance companies have driven up the cost of health care with the premiums, the copays and deductibles that have wrecked the family budgets. They’re being rewarded.

It’s just the way our system works, but it’s the wrong approach, and we’re rewarding the wrong people, we’re investing in the wrong people. We ought to be mindful of the concerns of the American people and not the concerns of the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. They’re still in the game, and frankly with this bill, looks like they’re — they’re pretty much the game.

  Raw Story


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