Recently, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with some students at Stanford University, where she is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute. When a student asked whether Rice had authorized torture, she refused to take responsibility, saying only that she "conveyed the authorization of the administration." She added that, "by definition," once the president authorized "enhanced interrogations," they were automatically legal:
Q: Is waterboarding torture?
RICE: The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture. So that's -- And by the way, I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did.
Q: Okay. Is waterboarding torture in your opinion?
RICE: I just said, the United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.
In a ruling in Madrid today, Judge Baltasar Garzón has announced that an inquiry into the Bush administration’s torture policy makers now will proceed into a formal criminal investigation. The ruling came as a jolt following the recommendation of Spanish Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido against proceeding with a criminal inquiry, reported in The Daily Beast on April 16. [snip]
Garzón's ruling today marks a decision to begin a formal criminal inquiry into the allegations of torture and inhumane treatment he has been collecting for several years now.
Now, Garzón has announced a preliminary criminal inquiry into the Bush administration torture policy, specifying the evidence that a crime had been perpetrated against Spanish subjects, but not yet specifying the specific targets of the investigation. Judge Garzón’s decision revealed a deep engagement with documents which had been released in Washington in the last two weeks, particularly a group of memoranda prepared by lawyers in the Bush Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) a report of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a memo released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, making it likely that he would focus on the authors of the torture memoranda and other lawyers who worked with them.
This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-levelpolitical ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not seriouswhen offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert's political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.
Key Words: political entertainment • comedy • satire • political ideology • information processing
projection: An automatic process whereby contents of one's own unconscious are perceived to be in others. (See also archaic, identification and participation mystique.)~jung lexicon
marie louise von franz on the unconscious
The unconscious is not a demonical monster, but a natural entity which, as far as moral sense, aesthetic taste, and intellectual judgment go, is completely neutral. It only becomes dangerous when our conscious attitude to it is hopelessly wrong. To the degree that we repress it, its danger increases.
~C.G.Jung The Practical Use Of Dream Analysis, Collected Works Vol. 16
The psychic depths are nature, and nature is creative life. Whatever values in the visible world are destroyed by modern relativism, the psyche will produce their equivalents.
~C.G.Jung, Modern Man in Search Of a Soul
With apologies to Sesame Street:
Some of these things are a lot like the others…
Recall the scene in Chuck Dickens' A Christmas Carol where those engaged in caring for the unwanted in Ebenezer Scrooge's London are rebuffed by the miserable tightwad: "Let those poor go to the prisons and the Union workhouses," is Scrooge's reply to the plea for Christmas charity. "And if they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
1929 Depression – hunger, starvation
1940s World War
1950 – 1953 Korea
1957 Asian Flu
1965 -1973 Vietnam
1976 Swine Flu
1981 -1988 Civil war in Central America, Genocide in Africa, Recession, and Condiments reclassified as vegetables to eliminate fruit for school children
1991 Gulf War
1997 Hong Kong Flu
2001 -2008 The Bush Years - Iraq War, Famine in Africa, More Genocide in Africa, Outsourcing, Recession, Depression, Health Funding Cut, and Price increases while downsizing product.
2009 Swine Flu
It would appear that when we can’t kill off people in war, other slower methods just have to do…between wars! Has there been a major health epidemic DURING a war?
I’m beginning to suspect that nasty cold I had last year wasn’t just a natural happenstance! Then there was that Spring Day in 1995 when I got sick right after Newt declared his “Contract with America”...
Conspiracy? Of course not! Well, probably not! Ok, I don’t think so. But I could be wrong.
Wow, how clueless do you have to be? Of course the Dumocrats are going to screw up. Unfortunately for the Repubs it won't be as bad as they themselves have done in the last eight years. William Jacobson. a law professor from Cornell (I thought you had to be smart to attend there much less teach) sets out his reasons why the Specter defection will turn out to have a silver lining for the GOP.
So I'm not depressed about the long-term future of the country, although the next few years will be tough politically. The Democrats will screw up big time, as they did during the Carter years, and the damage they cause will be generational. But the clean-up is worth looking forward to, even if the mess is not.
How...kind of him. As if the problems created by the last eight years aren't going to be generational.
His first argument is no surprise because I've been saying the same thing for years. The first duty of a politician is to get themselves reelected, preferably to higher office but staying in the Senate is a no brainer if you can't be President. And just like any other party, if your date gets obnoxiously drunk it is better to go home with someone else. Especially if you plan on getting there in one piece.
Now, in regard to the torture hearings, if America sits on its ass and does nothing to rectify or show shame about the situation, it will give those who hate us even more ammunition, not less. As my father pointed out to me in 1967, the people in America have short memories and the people in the Middle East have extremely long ones. The Turkish-Armenian situation is but one sad example. Plus, and this is a big one, they are willing to die for their beliefs. The majority of Americans aren't and our recent behavior more than makes this clear.
To accuse the Democrats of being the isolationist party is one of the most laughable arguments I've heard in years. I was a Republican because I was an isolationist and a fiscal conservative until they lost their freaking minds. Republicans ran up the national debt, like they always do, and went nuts on immigration. If you were born brown and out of town you became the reason that everything went wrong in America. Sheesh, get a grip.
Last time I checked we were a Republic, not a dynasty. As history (there's that word again) has shown many times, the balance of power shifts across the globe pretty frequently. Maybe if we hadn't spent all our resources, wasted our good will and destroyed our military in two useless wars we wouldn't be in the position of having to watch other countries pick up where we left off before we had our mental breakdown. America is no longer a free society. Our phones are tapped, there are surveillance cameras in almost every town, the police become more like the military every day and while the Second Amendment is in no danger, the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth definitely are.
The national debt was way out of control before the Democrats were elected to power. It got that way while the Republicans held sway and decided that the rich needed to be richer at the expense of everyone else. Young people aren't stupid and since recent studies show that math scores are increasing they will be able to do the arithmetic. A simple math problem might consist of something like this. In 2000 there was a surplus and in 2008 there wasn't. By a wide margin. Yes, the deficit is going to be bigger for the next couple of years but that wouldn't have happened if the GOP hadn't engaged in a reverse Robin Hood scheme for the last eight years while at the same time increasing the size of government with duplicate agencies that contained their unqualified cronies.
Human rights, that's rich. And who says it's only three members of al-Qaeda that were tortured? It's much more widespread than that and everyone knows it. Pregnant women wouldn't have joined the cause to blow themselves up if they and their baby had something to live for. They don't. We have turned their homes, fields and farms into one gigantic war zone in an effort to get revenge on people who are already dead. Human rights belong to everyone, even if you're brown from out of town. Other countries, who are much smaller than us geographically, have survived terrorism for years. We have one instance of terrorism and now the nation wears diapers and cries for mommy. They aren't destroying us, we are doing it ourselves.
I've been buying foreign cars for years and Detroit has been the reason. As a woman I require that my car be dependable and affordable. As an example in 1987 my brother and I got new cars at the same time. I got a Honda CRX and my brother got a Pontiac Fiero. He sold his car at the end of six months because it had spent three of those months in the shop and still didn't run right. I drove the Honda for fourteen years and was grateful every day that I got over 40 mpg. Detroit's solution was to build bigger and more unstable gas guzzlers. And now there's no more Pontiac. The government certainly can't do any worse than the auto execs did. Unless it's run by people who say their goal is to drown it in a bathtub.
Health care. Don't make me puke. I grew up on Air Force bases using military healthcare. It was nowhere near as bad as going to the doctor today. Oops, I don't go to the doctor, I can't afford it and I don't qualify for health insurance because I have a preexisting condition called asthma. The emergency room is my fallback for when it gets out of control and I think I'm going to suffocate. We won't even go into that dental and vision thing, they don't seem to be on the radar of the entitled so why bring up another problem that those who have everything they need would like to ignore. Oh yeah, that argument about waiting months for a surgical procedure? Maybe you should talk to all the people who have health insurance and been denied procedures so the insurance companies can give their executives and shareholders enormous bonuses and dividends.
I'm black, there is racism, get over it. When you have black communities in states where local governments have built services around them and they didn't have running water like their neighbors did for the last fifty years, that's racism. When things like education and skills are equal and blacks and Latinos are earning less (provided they got hired) than their melanin impaired compatriots, that's racism. When you cut essential school programs in poorer districts that are predominately black and politically mrginalized, that's racism. When prisons are filled to the brim with people of color who have committed petty crimes against themselves while rich melanin impaired executives who destroyed the lives of millions go free, that's racism. Those are facts and they aren't going away.
The GOP is in trouble for a reason and the reason is this. They are out of touch with the average American. Their base consists of angry people who vote on single issues by claiming that the Bible disapproves of certain behaviors they deem immoral while ignoring the rest of the Bible teachings that encourage them to take care of their fellow man and to have compassion and pity for those who are suffering. The elite of the party are just that. Elite and as far removed from their base as they can get in their personal lives as they can manage and not get outed.
The party of Lincoln is falling apart and the more they scream about how unfair it is and the more rabid they are to return to a time that only exists in their imaginations, the further from the mainstream they will be. As so many other Republicans have said before me, I didn't leave the party the party left me.
Clearly, when Americans signaled that they were ready for "Change" these idiots turned a blind eye and refused to believe it. Collectively they fail to see they are now the "crazy fringe" rattling a saber against the bars of progress. They finally have shown themselves in a light that is not flattering; where lying, misinterpreting, and fear tactics are blindingly obvious and no longer scary. America took a very long time to wake up, but she is sitting up straight in the chair now and paying attention in the front row of the class. The Republican party has been hijacked by the most fanatical members. It has been relegated to ridicule by the majority of the nation, and the frothier Rush gets, the more the majority "non-republicans" just shake their heads in disbelief. You can almost hear the disapproving "tsk-tsk-tsk."
Welcome to the "new century" Dick Cheney! The century you ushered in and then corrupted with corporate greed, cronyism, and religious zealotry; all under the name of Republican. For way too long your shenanigan's went unnoticed by your constituents, those who thought that being a Republican meant small government, fiscal responsibility, and family values. Well those former Republicans, Arlen Specter included, now see that a "family value" is based in the most common bond of love, not the artificially hyped matter of who loves whom...And how! Former Republicans in increasing numbers, as Democrats are seeing that the party of fiscal intelligence is the one they are now members of, not the one you allowed to drive the nation into debt with. Americans in the vast majority are rejecting the hatred & anger of Rush, Rove, O'Reilley, and Cheney for the reasoned, controlled, and honest approaches of Obama.
The Republican party is one in its final death throws. The great party of Reagan destroyed in 8 years by lies for war, lies for profit, and lies for power. I have to say, it is great fun to watch them reap what they have sown. My faith in America and her ideals is restored with every switch in registration, with every story of "i always voted Republican before..." and with every un-protested marriage in Iowa. "As Iowa goes, so goes the nation." When protests of newly approved "gay marriage" in Iowa never materialized, you knew that the fringe is losing. The religious wrong are being relegated to the church shelves in a dark and dirty corner where they can be forgotten. They have the Republicans to thank for this too.
60 votes to block a filibuster. Finally a legitimate majority that sees the future and isn't afraid to confront it. It is time. It's my time. It's your time. It is time for progress and eyes to a bright American future. Death has come to the politics of fear, and life to the politics of HOPE!
I want to thank Rush, FOX News, Dick Cheney, and the Republican "leadership" for squeezing out the moderates in their party. I want to thank them for pushing so hard, lying so transparently, and for ranting so insanely. It is to them America owes it's thanks; for without them we might still live in a land where Americans believe Republicans to represent principles, ideals, and realities that were consistent with their heritage. Instead, we live in a land where Americans see the title "Republican" has been stolen, corrupted, and destroyed by those so greedy they would readily and without conscience sends citizens to War for nothing so valuable as life, but as base as a buck.
o, the spam one gets. I think, try to be creative with it sometimes, though mostly just delete.
I don't get so many telemarketers calling since we're all sliding into a dark hole here. But my favorite responses to telemarketers is to say --
"Don't call me here! My husband found out about us!" And hang up.
or -- on a really fine day, just pretend some horrible thing is in process:
"My dog! He's been hit by a car! My god! What can I do! He's not breathing..." and so forth. Crying is good. Can't do this to a woman.
Maybe it makes the poor telemarketer's day go a bit faster.
Anyway -- try this with spam maybe.
----- Original Message -----
From: martins bowen
Sent: Monday, April 27, 2009 9:07 PM
I am Mr.Martins Bowen Attorney and secretary to late Mr. Shamil Yunis of Gulf stream crude oil.
I have a business proposal which will be of great benefit to both of us, Please if interested kindly respond via my personal email.
I await your prompt response with your contact details
----- Original Message -----
From: Mr martins Bowen
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 9:54 AM
Thanks for your response to my email. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive, I am assuring you that everything will be well at the end if you cooperate with me. What are required are mutual trust, confidentiality and full disclosures.
The best full proof means of accessing the funds is to make you the next of kin to the late Mr. Shamil Yunis and this shall be effected by making an application to the probate registry putting you forward as the next of kin since he died intestate. The probate registry will thereafter grant me a letter of administration. Once the above is done the entire probate document will be sent to the Financial institution where the sum of $20.5M usd is deposited, they will be under a legally binding obligation to transfer the total deposit according to my instruction to your designated bank.
You will become the legal bonfire beneficiary of the funds and my understanding is that the funds will be shared 65/35. thereafter. I am getting involved in this transaction with all sense of responsibility, Mr. Kim Shamil Yunis has no blood relations and I have exhausted all means at great cost to trace them if they existed. I am satisfied they do not exist. To enable me make the application to the probate registry and the paper work I need the confirmation of the following from you; Your full names, physical address, Telephone numbers ,occupation, age and Marital status.
The letter of administration will be granted as a matter of course because I have done my homework very well. There is no risk involved at all in this matter, as all necessary documents will meet the test of any legal scrutiny, the grant of the letter of administration will confirm that all the necessary legal pre-requisites were adhered to upon the successful conclusion of this transaction I shall come over to your country and I will like us to invest on a lucrative business together. While I await the requested information, I implore you to be very confidential with this project for obvious reasons.
I would appreciate if you would also include your terms and conditions for our intended Partnership. The fund in question is deposited with a bank whose contact information I will forward to you as soon as you provide all the required information. As a matter fact we are going to share the proceed 65/35.
Attached is my identification, please provide your contact information.
Once again, I say thank you.
Mr. Martins Bowen. (Esq.)
Principal Partner (Martins Bowen & Associates)
----- Original Message -----
To: Mr martins Bowen
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: Urgent r
where did you find out a about me? does it matter that I'm in prison?
Wonder if he'll write back, this Mr. Martins Bowen (Esq.)
Here's another from a bit back. Maybe you got one of these e-mails. We liked playing with it on negcap:
I'm not sure what to make of the native tongue of the writer of the below marketing ploy... maybe mike and you linguists can tell by the anatomy. But wouldn't old William Strunk have loved to use it as an example in his chapter on elementary use of language. ("Sentences violating Rule 11 are often ludicrous." ) !
I just wanted to share with you the experiences I've had in the past year. As many men are familiar with, my wife was never really satisified with my size. This caused many problems within our relationship and made me feel very insecure.
Well, just like a lot of you out there, I was ready to do anything to make my wife happy. I tried everything, pum.ps, ex.cercises, pil.ls, but never found anything that actually worked until now. I was talking to a friend which recommended to a website that carried a new type of pill which I had never seen before. To my surprise, it actually worked. Now, i'm not going to lie and say that I grew a foot but it was definately a noticable increase, which has seen made my life a happier.
If your sick and tired of trying pro ducts that just don't work check this out.
(url to ad or maybe worse removed : wunna want ter tempt ya!)
i get hundreds of these every day. one of these days i'm gonna unwind my john thomas from around my thigh an' SHOW the buggers what a dickman really is.
but not yet...
don' wanna scare 'em...
What did I miss to provoke such a response? go on, show them, Mikey!
Republicans, about 10 years ago, were leapfrogging each other to slam the president of the United States with allegations about lying over a possible indiscretion with an intern. They said then that when a president lies, it's serious.
Somehow, now, Republicans are sprinting away from the lies of a president over torture, where people died, where our troops' lives were put in unnecessary danger, where we went against the core principles of our country.
Allegations about torture should rise above politics.
Wouldn't it be nice... if the White House would release a statement containing these words:
"Today, on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States declares its strong solidarity with torture victims across the world. Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law."
"The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment."
Those are the words of George W. Bush, according to the press release. Let's make them come true.
“It's important for people to understand that in a democracy, there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth. In our country, when there's an allegation of abuse ... there will be a full investigation, and justice will be delivered.”
April 27: MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe discusses the Republicans’ attempt to shift the blame for waterboarding and other forms of torture to Democrats who they say also knew about the enhanced interrogation techniques.
April 27: Sean Hannity has yet to respond to Keith Olbermann’s offer to donate money to charity for each second he can endure waterboarding. Olbermann talks with former Army interrogator and SERE school instructor Mike Ritz, who has actually performed this form of torture, about the effects of waterboarding
The out of touch with reality old fogies have struck again. My take on the Supreme Court determination that the FCC can fine television stations for unplanned "fleeting expletives"? Fuck 'em! I hardly ever curse on this blog but I do in real life. As do most people, especially those under pressure or who have had a little too much to drink. And have you heard the kids of today? They learned those words at home, not from watching broadcast television and if they are watching cable that's a parental problem, isn't it? Hearing the F or S word does not make me think about sex or using the bathroom, they make me think the person was either really surprised or really upset.
"It suffices to know that children mimic the behavior they observe -- or at least the behavior that is presented to them as normal and appropriate," Scalia wrote. "Programming replete with one-word indecent expletives will tend to produce children who use (at least) one-word indecent expletives."
Deadwood was not the issue, Cher and Nicole Ritchie were. I guess frak" isn't allowed either. A one off is not a show replete with one word expletives and if children are mimicking the behavior they see on television, then shows such as Survivor, 24, and the Power Rangers shouldn't be allowed. Or maybe their parents could pay more attention to them and what they're watching so they can explain that it isn't real and life doesn't really work that way.
So, it's okay to penalize a station for unplanned speech by an individual they can't control but not okay to penalize a station for inciting to riot, deliberately spreading falsehoods, encouraging intolerance towards others or lowering the IQ of the nation under the guise of "fair and balanced" news? What's next boys, strip searching 13 year old girls for Advil without their parents being notified? That smacks more of pedophiliac sexual tendencies on the part of those who think it's okay than expecting an accidental curse on live television to affect children for the rest of their lives. Big Brother, indeed.
After a day in which same-sex marriage was legal in Iowa, the sky didn't fall. The foundations of society didn't collapse.
The large, angry protests some had imagined never materialized in this city, the state’s most populous. Neither did the crowds of couples from all over the nation that some feared might create a carnival-like atmosphere captured in earlier images from other places.
By noon, no protesters could be found outside the marriage license office. Extra sheriff’s deputies assigned to keep order milled around the Polk County recorder’s office, looking bored. And an early-morning line of dozens of same-sex couples waiting to apply for licenses had dwindled into a few people discussing recent rainfall patterns.
By the end of Monday, more than 200 couples had applied and paid $35 for marriage licenses in Iowa.
The Des Moines Register is reporting same-sex marriage applications on Monday to be in excess of 380.
ARTURO FERNANDEZ/THE REGISTER
Chris Patterson, 36, and Jennifer Harvery, 37, both of Des Moines, applied for a marriage license Monday morning. With them is daughter Harper Patterson, 6 months.
Iowa is bracing for a possible swine flu outbreak; however there are no indications this is a result of the same-sex marriage licenses issued on Monday.
Alarm spreads as human to human infection confirmed, bug is an intercontinental mix of never-before-seen human, avian and pig viruses, top globalists stand to benefit from Tamiflu stockpiling
Clues that the virus may be a synthetic creation are already manifesting.
According to reports, the virus is a “never-before-seen form of the flu that combines pig, bird and human viruses” which consists of an intercontinental mix of viruses from North America, Europe and Asia.
“CDC officials detected a virus with a unique combination of gene segments that have not been seen in people or pigs before,” according to an Associated Press report.
Officials from the CDC and USDA will likely arrive in Mexico soon to help investigate the deadly new influenza virus that managed to jump from pigs to people in a previously unseen mutated form that can readily spread among humans.
One of the first things they will want to look at are the hundreds of industrial-scale hog facilities that have sprung up around Mexico in recent years, and the thousands of people employed inside the crowded, pathogen-filled confinement buildings and processing plants.
Industry calls these massive compounds "confined animal feeding operations," or CAFOs (KAY-fohs), though most people know them simply as "factory farms." You have seen them before while flying: Long white buildings lined up in tightly packed rows of three, four or more. Within each confinement, thousands of pigs are restricted to indoor pens and grain-fed for market, while breeding sows are kept in small metal crates where they spend most of their lives pregnant or nursing piglets. [snip]
This new strain making headlines and killing people contains genetic components of human flu virus, avian flu virus and - for the first time ever - two types of swine flu virus: American and Eurasian. "Such a combination of components (genes) was not found so far, neither among humans nor among pigs (as far as we know)," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said in an email. [...]
Hog CAFOs are supposed to be completely closed environments, in order to protect the pigs from outside diseases. Visitors are usually required to shower and don special protective clothing (again, for the animals' benefit) before going inside a confinement.
But these are not hermetically sealed environments, and pathogens can enter and exit a CAFO in a number of ways other than via swine workers (or flies, another proven vector of CAFO diseases).
To begin with, some swine CAFO's recover water from their waste lagoons and recycle it back into the animal housing, in order to wash out the barns while also cutting down on dwindling groundwater supplies (a particular concern in parts of Mexico, to be sure). But wildfowl routinely land in CAFO lagoons, where they can easily shed influenza virus into the water. This can also happen at facilities that use water from nearby ponds or rivers.
Large-scale swine producers in Mexico deny that their industry is the source of the deadly new influenza strain, saying the animals are all healthy, and that it is scientifically "not possible" for hogs to infect people with the illness. But lawmakers in the eastern state of Veracruz are now charging that large-scale hog and poultry operations are "breeding grounds" of infection that are making people sick and fueling the pandemic.
Remember way back in the day, President Obama delivered his Not Really The State Of The Union address, and the GOP trotted out Future Of The Republican Party Supra-Genius Bobbly Jindal to provide a rebuttal? Well, we all had some laughs, didn't we? Mainly because Jindal was all: "They want to spend stimulus money on volcano monitoring? Why everyone knows that the Hill Witch keeps tabs on our volcanoes by floating chicken bones in her own intestinal ichor!" And then Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupted, suggesting there might be something to this "let's monitor volcanoes with government-funded science" idea.
Well, as it turns out, volcano monitoring wasn't the only worthwhile public safety program that was deemed extravagant in the stimulus package, funding for pandemic preparation was axed as well. And playing a critical role was Susan Collins -- for whom the necessity of obtaining her vote is in inverse proportion to the intelligence she shows in policy making.
Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: "Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No, we should not."
Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate's version of the stimulus measure.
...Karl Rove, from his perch at the Wall Street Journal, criticized the inclusion of "$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control, and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations," on the grounds that "health care also added jobs" in the previous year. Such expenditures were, to Rove, "disturbing" and an example of President Obama's "lack of engagement and leadership."
It is, indeed, troubling that mainstream media journalists think it necessary to note that the Somali pirates our Navy SEALS killed were Black Muslims, and I find merit in your suggestion that we report the religion of any whack job who goes crazy and kills someone; but I see problems. Is it enough to report the religious choice, or should we be more specific. For example, suppose we have a Christian shooter. Is that enough to report, or should we go further and note that he (or she) was a Protestant Christian shooter?
"Ah, but what denomination?" the curious might ask.
Fine, the shooter was a Presbyterian. That ought to be enough information for the voyeuristic among the news hounds.
"Yeah, but hold on a minute," someone might snap. "Are we talking Presbyterian Church USA? Presbyterian Church in America? Orthodox Presbyterian Church? Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America? Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church?"
Sheesh. Okay, Presbyterian Church USA. Cripe.
"Now, just wait," insists another detail-oriented observer. "Was this guy just a member, or was he maybe a deacon?"
For God's sake, I don't know! I don't even know if the guy attended church regularly. Let it go. End of story.
"Uh, not quite," someone from the other side of the room pipes up. "You say he was a Christian, but how do you know he was really saved?"
GOD ALMIGHTY! The shooter was killed in the altercation! He wasn't saved! Certainly not by that stupid AK-47 he was brandishing.
"No, no! I mean, 'Was he saved by the Blood of the Lamb?'"
Yo, dude! The guy was a beef-and-potatoes kind of guy. Lamb is expensive. Have you seen the price of a leg of lamb at the grocery store? Why would this guy buy lamb when he could get beef at a third of the price per pound?
"You're an agnostic, aren't you?"
No, I had my circumcision done when I was about 14, as I recall. Things were a little too busy with keeping me alive when I was born, so I had to wait.
"That's not something the audience needed to know."
You're right. And neither is the shooter's religion unless the guy is into some whacko interpretation of it the way some so-called Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Animists, Atheists, scientists, politicians, and others get into twisted versions of otherwise relatively harmless, if sometimes rather strange, belief systems.
"Muslims scare me."
I agree. So do Mormons. Ditto for Episcopalians. Catholics don't, but that's because I'm not an altar boy.
"Seventh Day Adventist."
That was harsh.
"You're right, but I'm already forgiven by the Grace of God."
God had a girl named Grace? Was that by his concubine Asherah?
His concubine. Actually, Asherah might have been the generic name of any woman in his harem who rose to the level of wife.
Sure, but you won't hear much about them. All the idols were destroyed by soldiers of a certain Israelite king.
"I can certainly see why. Such blasphemy!"
Blasphemy wasn't the issue. That leader wanted to consolidate power within a single godhead represented by a single geographic location of authority. He even 'discovered' a 'lost' book of Moses that validated his claim; its authenticity was verified by a witch because his usual prophets weren't very much liked by the people, so he said they were out of town, and the only prophet available was the crazy lady. Apparently, she was okay with killing off the whole sex cult thing Asherah represented as an ancient female fertility deity widely recognized and revered among Semites and non-Semites, alike.
"You need to leave. You're arousing the Queen of Heaven. That's going to get those insane Dominionists from Joel's Army all worked up; they think they've had some kind of battle with the horny she-goddess."
So you think some Christians are whackos?
"No, the New Apostolic Reformation isn't Christian."
Their leader that guy Bentley says they are.
"Don't confuse the issue. You already got us off track talking about some tart who made her bed with Yahweh."
A hot-and-bothered goddess is never off topic.
"You're going to Hell."
I'm an economist.
"Damn! You're already there."
It's not as bad as you think. Satan leaves me alone; he's afraid I'll start doing Saturday night lectures on macroeconomics. He thinks that would turn his Legion of the Demons to the Dark Side.
"He's right. Some of them probably already listen to your Thursday night Internet radio talk show."
I need more listeners.
"You need a better theme for your radio show."
I'm working on it. Maybe a regular spot every week where I read select passages from Poetry for Fiscal and Sensual Stimulus.
"Dear God, you're a disgrace!"
Yes, I am an economist... and we finally agree.
So am I... Oh, that's right: I'm in Hell. I can't check out.
R. Hudson mentioned the black teenagers that were killed kidnapping a ship's captain. Specifically he mentioned "Black MUSLIM Teenagers.
I've seen this in other reports by the MSM, also. Why is it that they only identify the religion of the nuts if it's "Muslim?"
What if the media reported that Catholic Tim McVeigh or Catholic Poplawski or pick an American shooter and name his or her religion went crazy and killed a bunch of Americans or whomever?
Think Dobson and Donawhore and Robertson would get upset?
I suggest that anytime we report a story of some nut that goes crazy, we make it a point to report his religion.
You get the idea!
(simmering in my head...this post is my return to the blogsphere...hope I am still welcome here.)
It is time to return to vent my frustrations at my fellow Americans. And by "fellow Americans" I mean those who are so lost to prejudicial ignorance that they can no longer either recognize or realize rational thought.
To watch the right-wing fringe frantically genuflect before the alters of small government, high taxes, and economic conservatism is the saddest thing I have witnessed in such a very long time. Especially so, because I have "friends" whom I know to be otherwise intelligent and compassionate down on their knees before the false idle of the Republican Party.
Is it possible the "tea-bagger" had lost every ounce of reason, every shred of historical accuracy, and every piece of his or her own dignity? One must think the answer is "yes." How else could they stand up in such small, yet highly vocal, numbers and declare they believe in small government when it was their Savior, former President George W Bush, who allowed the government to grow rampantly out of control the largest it has ever been? How do they shun the entitlements of the FDA, Homeland Security, FEMA, Social Security Administration, and countless others? None are willing to give up anything, but all want to pay for nothing; how typical. How do they ignore the facts and waive banners about debt? How do they make history start on inauguration day?
"Human history becomes more and more a race
between education and catastrophe."
- H. G. Wells
How is it possible that the "base" of the Republican party, at the hands of Rush Limbaugh & Fox NEWS, can so easily distracted from historical fact by phony rantings so pitifully constructed to whip the faithful into a frenzy of ignorance and blinded hate? Are those faithful members of the base truly that ignorant of America? How do they miss that unless they make more than $250,000 annually, their taxes went down? I thought GOP'ers loved lower taxes!? Instead, when presented with the truth...The "booo?!" I thought that was one of their 10 commandments...Thought shalt pay less to the government. Well that is what they are getting, as the bills for the DEBT wracked up by George W Bush is shifted to those he made so rich on all our shoulders. How do these otherwise intelligent people ignore the reality of such incredibly recent & collectively accepted history? How do they make the debt something that happened in the last 100 or so days? How do they make history start on inauguration day?
"People demand freedom of speech to make up for
the freedom of thought which they avoid."
- Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
How is it possible that otherwise intelligent Americans can be swept up in the lies of political rhetoric based in fantasy, rather than the real actions of the new President. How can I have friends that say "Down with Obama," and "down with Socialism?" I know they are smart enough to know what socialism is, and to see the err in their own words. Besides that, how do they ignore their own hypocrisy in these cries? Same goes to the "gun freaks." Where the President just recently proclaimed he would NOT reauthorize the ban on assault weapons; somehow the crazed crew of 2nd Amendment supporters (as if as an American you can be anything but a 2nd Amendment supporter) still wish to say, with spittle falling from their lips that Obama will take their guns! I say, settle down there Sparky, that's not true. And in 8 years, I expect you to learn a few things. Top of the list, no politician will take your precious guns! Gun ownership in America is as American as Apple Pie. It is a political football they love to throw at Democrats, but no one takes the bait. Why? Cause nothing could be a clearer sign of political suicide than to suggest the ultimate heresy against our American souls...The taking of arms. And don't get started with Rendell today, he's a governor about to be replaced...Making waves before he leaves. No one in the legislature of PA will touch this, and you know it. Again, a football...A game. So...Try to learn not to fall for this. The Gun Lobby, the NRA, they are just corporations looking to make money by whipping up fear where no fear should exist. They are being played, like an AK47 at a Skeet Range. Yet, in spite of the facts; history is written from today?
"We are not retreating - we are advancing
in another Direction."
- General Douglas MacArthur
Bailouts...Without oversight...So unpopular. How do the frothiest of hosts on FOX ignore that those were authorized, and authored by the last President? The bailouts on Wall Street were given by George W Bush, not President Barack Obama. Worse yet, and clearly unpopular, they are working! Two banks have posted record profits, and are already starting to pay back the money from the taxpayers. I am mystified by the revisionists here...Where it all started on Inauguration day. How, in less than 100 days time, does an entire segment of the American populace forget who put us in this terrible mess?
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." - Galileo Galilei
I know they are the minority. But to be so blindingly ignorant of the truth, and arrogant in their ignorance is very unsettling to me. How can so many be tuned to one station, one set of impulses, and dialed in so hypocritically and completely to a set of beliefs that are so clearly fantasy? Surely the rapture has nothing on the hate of these few for all things progressive, democratic, and real; even if they work. How do they ignore the history of the last 8 years, and cling so powerfully to the myths of the Republican machine, when they machine no longer believes what they still do? Big government was the reality of Bush, even though he said it wasn't. Debt was the way of Bush, even though he said it wasn't. Economic disaster is the legacy of Bush, even though he told us "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." It is at his feet they pray, paying homage to the father of lies. It is your patron saint that you should blame for the disasters of your party, our heritage, and the American economy.
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than
sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
But no...That is a use of intellect that is beyond the "faithful" for faith has nothing to do with reality. Faith is about belief, and beliefs need not be grounded in fact. In fact, facts are almost exclusively at odds with beliefs. So it is no mistake that history is ignored. It is no mistake the frothy minority ignores the reality of their own religion. Just as the Catholics ignored the abuses of Priests against children, the GOP parishioners are somehow able to turn a blind eye to the leadership, actions, and deeds of their own. Rush tells them to pray, and to their knees they fall; mesmerized by the ideas of one who would like to be a God, and to them is the best priest they have ever seen. But this is a fringe religion, a right-wing conspiracy gone rabid, a cult if you will.
I think history demands and exorcism. History deserves an intervention.
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
- Arthur Schopenhauer
Republicans need a history lesson...Cause though history is made today, it didn't start on inauguration day. To dream of the future, fearfully or hopefully, one must first accept and understand what the dream is built on and from where it was made.
I am so tired of hearing that Bush kept us safe for seven years and four months after 9/11. If you look at the statement logically, the US was safe for 225 years and one month from terrorism (unless you count the actions of those dudes McVeigh, Nichols, and Rudolph) before Bush ignored warnings of an imminent attack on the United States by a known terrorist and 2,572 people lost their lives while he held a book upside down and the "Vice President" hid in an undisclosed bunker for several hours. And since when do two wrongs make a right?
Keeney in 1962 covertly set up a CIA front called MK-ULTRA, which used the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies to conduct tests on unwitting federal inmates, the overwhelming majority of whom were black, to chart the effect of hallucinogenic drugs.
All of this is reprehensible, horrible stuff. But it was generated by well-meaning American officers from what has been called “The Greatest Generation” to keep America safe.
I doubt that it was to keep America safe but if it makes you feel better to believe that, then you are no better than Josef Mengele and have no business having contact with normal people. And equating the release of the torture memos to the possibility of another attack on the US shows that one has trivialized and ignored the reasons why the terrorists hate us.
They don't hate us because of our freedoms, they hate us because we interfere in their beliefs, have no respect for their religion and willfully ignore their requests to remove ourselves from areas they consider to be consecrate. Oh, and that torture thing? Not helping our reputation but reinforcing the terrorists will to punish the oppressors.
Torture is wrong, it will always be wrong and saying that the end justifies the means is short-sighted and foolish. That's like saying that lying about a blowjob is worse than ordering people to be treated like animals and have their basic human rights removed. And Americans aren't really like that, are we? Because last time I heard, torturing animals was one of the early signs of antisocial personality disorder and maybe the people who wrote the memos, followed the memos or defend the memos should be evaluated and treated before they harm their own families.
While I am preparing a little more extensive exhibit of recent photographs for my flagship Website, The Dark Wraith Forums, I thought I would share a few of the photos with regulars and not-so-regulars here at Big Brass Blog. Spring is a wonderful season for colorful pictures of nature, and even a relatively modest camera can produce truly stunning shots. The photos below were all taken with an AF-S Nikkor DX 18-135mm ED-IS f3.5-5.4 lens mounted on a Nikon D60 I cobbled together from parts purchased on eBay, Craigslist, and photography forums. Scaling and minor touch-ups on the photographs below were done in Adobe Photoshop CS4. I hope you enjoy the visual art.
A new strain of flu virus never seen before is actually a combination of viruses, strains from different areas of the world. (Gee, how did that happen?) It's thought to be a variant of a human swine flu virus, and can be spread via physical contact, saliva, and also by airborne transmission. Flu viruses typically mutate fairly rapidly, which is why vaccines are always being developed, and why many years they don't actually work.
But for a virus to mutate into a hybrid of distinctly different strains would be quite the feat - if in fact it turned out to be a natural evolution.
Last year I read that some researchers had cloned the Spanish Flu virus, one that had been cultured from an exhumed corpse - the person had died in 1918. At the time I thought, why the hell would anyone do that? But I'm sure it's just a coincidence that certain folks were reproducing flu viruses.
"...Canada is working with Mexican and U.S. health officials to confirm that the virus in both countries is linked and is in fact a new strain of influenza A H1N1 human swine virus, he added.
"This is an interesting virus. It's a brand new virus, not only to humans but to the world," said Dr. Frank Plummer, scientific director of the Winnipeg lab.
"About 80 per cent of the virus is highly related to a North American body of swine flu that's been around for a number of years, but about 20 per cent of it comes from an Eurasian variety of swine flu first seen in Thailand, so it's recombined to create something totally new. How it did that, where it did it, when it did it, I don't think we know yet....." Read more.
The acting Director of the CDC in Atlanta says the concern over the virus has quickly increased: "Our concern has grown as of yesterday," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acting director Dr. Richard Besser told reporters in a telephone briefing.
It first looked mostly like a swine virus but closer analysis showed it is a never-before-seen mixture of swine, human and avian viruses, according to the CDC. [nN24420522].
"We do not have enough information to fully assess the health threat posed by this new swine flu virus," Besser said.
Humans can occasionally catch swine flu from pigs but rarely have they been known to pass it on to other people...."
Mexico says it has almost a thousand cases so far, and "Mexico's government cautioned people not to shake hands or kiss when greeting or to share food, glasses or cutlery for fear of infection". Entire story from Reuters.
Not to minimize anything that has happened, but this week has been sheer agony watching everyone tying themselves into knots either defending, advocating or being ashamed of the recently confirmed revelations of torture performed by US citizens against suspected, but not confirmed, terrorists. I asked mom, the woman who grew up under Hitler's regime and had her home bombed above her by the Allies when she was a child, if she ever thought that these issues would come up again in her lifetime and she said "NEVER!" quite loudly. She may have dementia and Alzheimer's may be robbing her of today, but she clearly remembered the travesties of her youth and the bogus arguments (I was just following orders) to justify the immoral behavior of the original Axis of Evil and was quite adamant about that these atrocities were never supposed to happen again.
Comedy isn't going to provide relief at this point but music doth soothe the savage beast. Or at least it did in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I love this album and when times were better I listened to it with a glass of champagne, some caviar and a bubble bath to start the new year off with a relaxing and sensual moment. If only this was all it would take to cleanse our national palate.
Harsh interrogation techniques, coercive tactics, enhanced techniques - These are the rebranding tools for torture. In order to avoid turning our eyes away or burying our heads in the sand, we grab politically acceptable words and terms to diminish the sting and shame of actual torture, so we can brag about being a moral society open to the discussion of stressful questioning of enemy combatants. Sterile words remove us from the very real sins of torturing human beings. And the more we become adept at anesthetic language, the easier it becomes to talk without vomiting when we speak our sins aloud. The easier it becomes to torture. The easier it becomes to maintain the nobility of torture as a tool of patriotism.
The talking heads on television now preen and prep to define reality. Torture is not the issue, they say. The politics of torture is the issue and that is the shiny object we should all be focused on. This is political. Right versus left, not right versus wrong.
The Republicans tell us that torture is legal if the Justice Department and the president say it is. Nixon said if the president does it, it is not illegal. But the ensuing investigations and judgments proved him wrong. This time around, the president generated supportive judicial opinions, so that everyone could wave a paper in America's face and say, "See, it's all legal. The Justice Department says so. It is not torture in the strictest legal definition because there is no organ failure or death. God bless America. Amen." [snip]
For 60 years, America has denounced the torture tactics of our enemies as being criminal. From WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam to the Iraq War, torture was evil. We invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam because he was evil and tortured his people. We denounced the torture of POWs in Hanoi and pointed out that torture only served a propaganda purpose. And now, we say torture is not torture because we do it humanely. If America tortures, it is not the same as Communists and tyrants and Islamic fundamentalists. There is good torture and bad torture. America defines the difference.
And so, the great talking heads and pundits of the media village will inoculate us against guilt and anger by explaining the game of politics and morality. The game of semantics will numb our indignation if we just listen to their soothing voices in the darkness that has become America. They will calm our troubled hearts. They will ease our pain and whisper the words we so desperately want to hear, "There, there, you are America. You are good. You are special. You do not torture. You simply protect us from the monsters under the bed. Hush now, don't look in the mirror; just close your eyes and everything will be all right."
In the article just previous to this one here at Big Brass Blog, contributing writer Father Tyme tells the reading audience that MSNBC political commentator Keith Olbermann has pledged to donate to charity the sum of $1000 for every second that Right-wing FOX News torture apologist Sean Hannity sustains what is known as the "interrogation method" called "waterboarding." Earlier this week, Mr. Hannity stated on national television that he would actually volunteer for the treatment.
To the purpose of making this idea a real television event, I hereby volunteer to spearhead the waterboarding exercise on Sean Hannity.
No, I'm dead serious. I want to make sure that proper procedure is followed. It seems that the mainstream media sages have all settled on how waterboarding is done, and that method I've heard described and seen being simulated is most decidedly not the only way this particular "enhanced interrogation method" can be carried out. I would be terribly disappointed if the brave Torture Boyz we pay to do the real deal do not know all about the creativity and variation that are essential parts of the horror.
Context is hugely important, too: a prisoner who has been mistreated prior to the waterboarding, who knows his life will get no better after the waterboarding, and who is convinced that more waterboarding and other forms of violence against him are a certainty is a man who will surely become bent of mind as well as of body. As days stretch to weeks, weeks stretch to months, and months stretch to years, the concept of "will" becomes meaningless. Survival becomes an autonomous process separated from conscious thought, which itself, at best, reduces to encoded scripts, rituals, and other devices of mental defense in the all-consuming hopelessness of the situation. Training helps; so does fanatical dedication to cause. Essential features of up-bringing, blood, and beliefs play in, too.
People recover from such life-changing experiences: some reconstitute their highest cognitive, emotional, and empathic skills phenomenally well; others, not so well. At worst, only the shell of a human of high-order thinking, feeling, and other-connecting abilities endures.
Mr. Hannity can get waterboarded, and I want to help; but he and all the others who think they might be okay for the experience would remain, in the incidence of this form of torture, clueless.
They just would. When the show is over, they get to go home. They know they're not captives, and they know their handlers are not out to kill them.
Fortunately for them, they thrive in the protective enclosure of false light. Unfortunately for the civilized among the populous, the Right-wing cowards who listen to the false bravado of fellow Right-wing cowards will be emboldened to carry on under the delusion that they are in their sniveling individual lives and the putrefaction of their collective pack something other than unrepentant, clueless cowards who will run from any fight that is not staged and flee from any battle that is not a mere simplistic simulation of real life, death, and the bravery that compels warriors to risk the former in the blood currency of the latter.
To Sean Hannity: Contact me, son. I know a waterboarding method that will rock your world. Let me do that one to you.
Yes, you're going to be stripped naked, and then mocked and otherwise humiliated; but that's not the worst of it, junior: you don't get a blindfold. That's what makes this waterboarding technique so cool. You, yourself, get to watch the action. Some people have said they actually see themselves while it's happening.
Ten seconds in; then I pull you, ask you a question you will most definitely not want to answer on national TV, and if you don't tell me what I want to hear, you get 10 more seconds.
I promise, that first 10 seconds will be the longest of your miserable life. The second 10 seconds will make the first 10 seem like a walk in the park. We'll let the viewing audience do a call-in vote on when we stop if you haven't already cracked on one of the first two pulls. Most definitely, you're not the one who decides the parameters of this game. You have to be powerless, just like the detainees to whom we do these things. Maybe even if you tell me what I want, I'll tell you you're a liar and keep at it. That's how it works with state-sponsored violence.
When we're done, I'll share with you something really important. Even though you might be shaking, even though you might be blubbering like a baby, even though you might be soiling yourself, I'll tell you the big news, and I'll say it like this, right in your ear, just the way the drill sergeants used to tell it to all the boot camp trainees to tear them down so they'd die on command like so many pack animals:
"You, Sean Hannity, ain't nuthin' but a pussy."
But, then again, Sean, you and your fellow Right-wing authoritarians already knew that, didn't you?
I'll be seeing you down by the watering hole, boy.
There are a number of “Walks for Charity” or “Biking for Charity” events every year around the country. I propose that we get together for a national “Water Against Torture” for charity day.
Since so many on the Right feel that Water Boarding isn’t torture, we could get the top Right Wing Radio, TV, nearly all Fox Newsreaders (especially that bleached blonde on in the morning) and any Non Believers in Congress who feel water-boarding ISN’T torture, to participate by being Water Boarded for Charity! And we offer to pay a dollar for each second they endure of being WATER BOARDED! All proceeds go to families of injured Iraq/Afghan War Vets!
We broadcast it live on C-Span and at least two other major networks in prime time so the whole country can watch the Republican's prove water boarding is NOT torture.
And not to be left out, let’s add the Right Wing Bloggers, too, who blindly follow the dogma of their leaders. Let’s see how many are steadfast enough in their beliefs to put their own lungs and time up for it...so they can prove that water boarding isn’t the torture they claim. I’ll bet the excuses will flow like the recent Republican Chickenhawk Enlistment Excuses!
I'm in for a buck a second for Boehner and Rush, and the guys at World Net Daily and I'll even offer TWO Bucks a second for Joe the Plumber and Sarah Smile. How about you?
CNN has hired Right-wing extremist Mary Matalin as a political commentator, joining the ratings-starved station's whacko brigade of Bill Bennett, Alex Castellanos, and Ed Rollins. Sam Feist, CNN's 'political director' and vice president of Washington programming, hailed the acquisition of Matalin in the following words: "As one of the best-known and best-connected strategists in the country, Mary will join our line up of top Republican analysts... We are thrilled that CNN viewers will be able to tap into Mary's vast political experience advising candidates and presidents from both inside and outside of the White House."
Yes, this is Mary Matalin, late of the propaganda bureau of Dick Cheney's shadow government. Ms. Matalin is a genuine, 100 percent showpiece, inextricably and apparently quite proudly associated not only with the worst presidential administration in modern U.S. history, but also with the core of a criminal enterprise that engaged in lies to start war, torture, a rogue assassination squad, and political intrigue that included control of the entire Executive Branch by crazies of the Religious Right who think the world must soon come to an end in Rapture and neo-conservatives who took their orders from Tel Aviv and think the world would come to an end if the AIPAC doesn't own every politician and pundit inside the Beltway.
Is Matalin joining CNN bad news? Certainly not. CNN is losing its mainstream viewers, so it's going after the FOX News crowd, which means the two operations will now competitively beat each other into the ground as they desperately fight for the same, narrow, niche market. That is the power of free market competition at its very best: the dregs of an industry backing into the same corner of an identifiable, understandable, targetable, malleable demographic/psychographic cohort group; and there, they destroy each other... and themselves.
And by the way, for readers who don't believe me about how ludicrous CNN has become, watch the video below about the appalling arrest of a reporter and his cameraman by an out-of-control policeman. As shocking as the video of the incident is, CNN newscaster Rick Sanchez leads in with embarrassing, buffoon-like pomposity masquerading as an attempt at objectivity welling up from some deep reserve of extraordinary wisdom about such matters. Once the clip of the incident, itself, is finished, Sanchez picks right back up with his over-the-top, "I'm-a-serious-newsguy-type-of-person" schtick.
Yes, that was Rick Sanchez, who qualifies as a newscaster at CNN and who would, in an alternate life, serve as a role model for comedic parodies of news at The Onion. Throw that kind of wince-inducing reporter in with Right-wing windbags that include the likes of Bill "Gamble-'n-Tie-Me-Up" Bennett and Mary "Georgie Was a Great Prez" Matalin, and you've got all the makings of a news station that's going to give FOX News a real run for its money.
Let the good times roll, fellow citizens: the Forces of the EndTime are coalescing into a spinning sphere of Stupid at neutron star density.
The Dark Wraith will be available for on-air reviews of the show when the whole Stupid Thing hits critical mass and collapses into the vortex of a black hole that finally causes everyone to exclaim in unison, "YO, man. This reallySUCKS!"
I believe I know what valuable information Khalid Sheikh Mohammed finally revealed after that 183rd pretend drowning in March of 2003, he said:
The WMD are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad. And east, west, south and north SOMEWHAT.
I have all the evidence I need because on March 30, 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the World in a Televised Press Conference,
"We know where they [WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
If all of this hubris weren’t so tragic, it would be funny. Mitch, let's move on, McConnell leads the GOP Congressional Chorus in that old Dick Cheney torture diddy.
If One Hundred fake drownings don’t get what we want One-O-One fake drownings just might If we don’t get something to justify this. Those human rights people won’t think this is right. It is so strange that not very many Republicans want to go along with Rush, Bill, George and Dick and say this isn’t torture and in fact Rush and some of the talking heads on Fox say it is like going to Six Flags. I’ll admit I have been on rides where I thought I was being tortured and that it would never stop, but most men who have gone through one incident of waterboarding considered it torture and I don’t think you could get any of them to do it 183 times in a month.
BuzzFlash fully supports trying Bush, Cheney, and their band of fellow sadists for war crimes, but while they are in the courtroom, let's not forget Murder One. Apparently, many in the mainstream press and blogosphere already have.
The focus right now is on legal memos justifying the horrifying and numbing repetition of torture against "high profile" targets. We have a short memory in America -- and most of what was in these memos -- except for the diabolical excess of the waterboarding and the medieval torture by insects -- was, as President Obama has said, pretty much already known.
On holdover appointees from the Bush days, here is one that ought to get everyone on the phone to their member of Congress and the White House right now ---
Did you know that Panetta has kept John Rizzo as Acting CIA General Counsel? If you look at the newly released Justice Department memos, they were all addressed to John Rizzo. Truly unbelievable that he is still in charge of legal advice at the CIA.
Naughty, naughty. The crew without a clue continues to make the news long after they should have ridden off into the sunset. Condieliesalot gets caught in a biggie and is the first one being thrown under the bus, who could have foreseen that? Oh well, you lie down with dogs, you're bound to get a few fleas. Can you shop for shoes when you're in jail?
In written testimony she lied to the Senate Armed Services Committee and stated that she couldn't recall any specific details about the CIA requesting permission to use alternative interrogation techniques when she had already given verbal permission for waterboarding.
According to the new narrative, which compiles legal advice provided by the Bush administration to the CIA, Rice personally conveyed the administration's approval for waterboarding of Zubaydah, a so-called high-value detainee, to then-CIA Director George Tenet in July 2002.
Last fall, Rice acknowledged to the Senate Armed Services Committee only that she had attended meetings where the CIA interrogation request was discussed and asked for the attorney general to conduct a legal review. She said she did not recall details. Rice omitted her direct role in approving the program in her written statement to the committee.
A spokesman for Rice declined comment when reached Wednesday.
I'll bet they have a comment, it just can't be printed.
It's a good thing we defeated the Taliban when we did. Otherwise they might have gotten stronger and be on the verge of taking over Pakistan and its nuclear weapons. Does anybody really think that getting Saddam Hussein and the mythical WMDs was more important than getting Osama bin Forgotten? Or that it made the world safer for democracy? I think not and no matter how many times Cheney, who should be waterboarded until he STFU, says that Obama is making the United States less safe it will not change the fact that Bush and Cheney didn't capture bin Laden, they didn't defeat the Taliban, they didn't secure Afghanistan and now Pakistan is tumbling into the abyss. Good job boys, I feel safer already. Not.
Releasing the Justice memos opened a door and the contents repulsed many people. But these were not evil men who drafted the memos. These were not evil people who carried out the methods authorized by them. They were our fellow citizens who were trying to protect us from the real evildoers.
And they did a bang up job, didn't they? Too bad they didn't start working until after the damage was done. Perhaps if they had paid attention to a briefing memo entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US" or followed up on either of the two Clinton plans for al-Qaeda instead of dismissing their concerns as "chicken little" alarmists or ignoring the warnings from intelligence agencies all around the world we wouldn't have traveled to the dark side and compromised everything that America stood for.
I want my country back, with its head held high and our ethics intact.
"The new law authorizes the increase of Americorps to 250,000 positions from 75,000 by the year 2017, increases its education subsidies and creates a reserve of Americorps veterans to mobilize in disaster zones. To begin paying for it, Obama proposed $1.1 billion for Americorps in his budget plan, a 25 percent increase over last year, but Congress still must vote to pay for the expansion."
Gosh, ya' know; what with FEMA, the DHS, and now this, I feel so safe I'm about ready to run through the streets screaming in terr...,er, uh, ecstasy.
Janne Myrdal, State Director of Confused Concerned Women for America of North Dakota, mounted an intense and successful effort in the ND state legislature last month against a bill which would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.
At the core of this agenda is an effort to remove from our society all traditional notions of sexual morality and replace them with a post-modern concept of sexual relativism. That is to say, when it comes to sex, there is no right or wrong, all sexual preferences are “equal.” This then establishes a society, by law, wherein natural distinctions between male and female are dissolved.
Yes, that is correct, there is no right or wrong. There is only normal for each of us. And they are NOT, repeat: NOT, sexual PREFERENCES anymore than YOURS are. It is an orientation, and driven pretty hard by forces of nature I might add.
Yesterday I wrote an email to North Dakota State Representative David Drovdal, Republican, who represents district 39 in North Dakota where my spouse is from. Representative Drovdal, writing in a piece for the McKenzie County Farmer, spewed rubbish in his April 8th column, "District 39 Legislative Report."
Opponents of [SB2278] are concerned mainly about men being able to use women's bathrooms because they consider themselves gay.
Here's what I wrote the Rep. Drovdal...and I would like to apologize ahead of time to my transgendered friends who might take issue with my scantily-clad gloss-over as to the origins of gender identity issues. I'll confess I was distraught and in a hurry.
My partner, Sheldon Linseth, a native of McKenzie County, and I, just read your column in the April 8 issue of the McKenzie County Farmer and would like to point out a few facts regarding sexual orientation which might have been useful to other members of the state legislature as opposed to the packet of misinformation presented by the Confused Concerned Women of America.
Gay people have no interest in using public restrooms designated for the opposite sex. I’m a 49-year-old gay male and I’m quite content to use only men’s facilities. I have, however, known and seen a number of heterosexual woman using a men’s restroom for the sake of expediency in a crowded bar or club for instance.
Transgendered people (referred to as “gender confused” if I recall, by the CWA “fact sheet,” would prefer to use restrooms designated for the gender with which they identify. And this is not confusion. I know a number of transgendered individuals and they have no confusion about their gender whatsoever. The presence of a vagina or penis does not solely dictate ones gender or gender identity. There are hormonal issues which have been present since birth or earlier which contribute to this identity. It is nothing to be mocked or ridiculed. However, a bit of understanding as opposed to a knee-jerk opposition would go a long way. It’s a shame more lawmakers won’t take the time to understand an issue.
Opponents such as CWA love to drag out the sexual preference vs. sexual orientation argument and falsely claim that all gay people can be “corrected” and that being gay is not normal. On the contrary, it is normal or there wouldn’t be so many of us. I did not choose to be gay anymore than you chose to be straight. The idea of having a “normal” sexual relationship with a woman provokes the same reaction from me that a straight man might feel at the thought of having sex with another man. What’s natural for me isn’t natural for someone else and vice-versa. The point is, the definition of “natural” cannot be claimed by one side or the other. And it’s a shame the ones who try to legislate morality always use THEIR definition.
There are undoubtedly many bisexuals and I suspect those who stand as examples of such “correction” might merely have narrowed their bisexual playing field.
I wanted to take this time to give you some brief insight into these complex issues and hope that you and others in the future might be armed with more relevant and truthful data than what might be presented to you by opposition groups such as CWA.
By the way, Sheldon and I have been in a relationship for almost 19 years, completely unrecognized by the state in which we reside or by the US Government. That must, and will eventually, be corrected.
I have yet to hear back from The Republican Dude. You can also contact him at this email address:
The New York Times called today for investigation and prosecution of John Yoo and Stephen Bradbury, and impeachment of federal judge Jay Bybee:
We do not think Mr. Obama will violate Americans’ rights as Mr. Bush did. But if Americans do not know the rules, they cannot judge whether this government or any one that follows is abiding by the rules. [snip]
That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos, including John Yoo, who now teaches law in California; Steven Bradbury, who was job-hunting when we last heard; and Mr. Bybee, who holds the lifetime seat on the federal appeals court that Mr. Bush rewarded him with.
These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.
Will you join me please and Sign the petition? With the revelations that Jay Bybee was in the middle of trying to legalize torture for the Bush administration, particularly with the evidence that he penned the disgusting torture memo in 2002, I fully support all efforts to have this man impeached. The OLC is supposed to give sound legal opinions to the executive branch, not bend the law to fit their sick world view which makes this all the more egregious.
Salon's Joan Walsh has a thoughtful followup here.
Emanuel can't be the last word on that; he's the politics guy, and sure, there are political risks to pursuing the architects of our torture policy. But the political risks that come with ignoring what happened are so much greater. [snip]
I'm concerned about the relative silence from the Obama administration and Congress about what comes next. There clearly needs to be a torture investigation; personally, I'd prefer that it be led by an independent prosecutor at this point. I think there is more than enough proof that laws were broken, and we need accountability. But I'd support starting with a strong Congressional probe if there's more political will for that right now.
I believe that every step we take to learn more will only strengthen the case that someone must be held accountable for the lawless cruelty that marked the Bush-Cheney torture regime. We can start by impeaching Jay Bybee, but it can't end there.
April 20: Senate Judiciary Committee member Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., explains to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that the Justice Department is actively investigating the details of the torture of U.S. detainees. Among other reports, the Senate Judiciary Commitee awaits the results of the Office of Professional Responsibility inquiry which Senator Whitehouse says he has "every reason to believe this will be a devastating opinion."
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) renewed his call for full investigations into Bush's torture policies today: "It is simply obvious that, if there is no accountability when wrongdoing is exposed, future violations will not be deterred."
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), a Judiciary subcommittee chair, said she is " not comfortable with the fact that [Bybee] will be on the federal bench for a lifetime appointment."
Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, 1950.
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.
The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
(b) War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
(c) Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connexion with any crime against peace or any war crime.
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.
This convention bans torture under all circumstances and establishes the UN Committee against Torture. In particular, it defines torture, requires states to take effective legal and other measures to prevent torture, declares that no state of emergency, other external threats, nor orders from a superior officer or authority may be invoked to justify torture. It forbids countries to return a refugee to his country if there is reason to believe he/she will be tortured, and requires host countries to consider the human rights record of the person's native country in making this decision.
The CAT requires states to make torture illegal and provide appropriate punishment for those who commit torture. It requires states to assert jurisdiction when torture is committed within their jurisdiction, either investigate and prosecute themselves, or upon proper request extradite suspects to face trial before another competent court. It also requires states to cooperate with any civil proceedings against accused torturers.
Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
No statutory limitation shall apply to the following crimes, irrespective of the date of their commission:
(a) War crimes as they are defined in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Nurnberg, of 8 August 1945 and confirmed by resolutions 3 (1) of 13 February 1946 and 95 (I) of 11 December 1946 of the General Assembly of the United Nations, particularly the "grave breaches" enumerated in the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims;
(b) Crimes against humanity whether committed in time of war or in time of peace as they are defined in the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Nurnberg, of 8 August 1945 and confirmed by resolutions 3 (I) of 13 February 1946 and 95 (I) of 11 December 1946 of the General Assembly of the United Nations, eviction by armed attack or occupation and inhuman acts resulting from the policy of apartheid, and the crime of genocide as defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, even if such acts do not constitute a violation of the domestic law of the country in which they were committed.
(a) Offense. - Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction. - There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if -
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States,irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy. - A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy
(a) Offense. - Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
(b) Circumstances. - The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).
(c) Definition. - As used in this section the term "war crime" means any conduct -
(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or
(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.
The following is pure adulterated conspiratorial fiction (mostly).
White House: First Couple:
Saturday April 19, 2009 - 10:30 P.M.
As they retire to the bedroom:
Michelle: "Hon? What did you tell Rahm about those possible prosecutions?"
Barry: "I told him that we wouldn’t prosecute those who thought they were following legal orders."
Michelle: "How did that go over?"
Barry: "I think he understands my position. After all, I didn’t take anyone off the table that could have issued those orders. We left it open to possibly go after the higher ups who knew better."
Michelle: "Well, ok. But you know how Rahm is!"
Barry: "It’s ok dear. He knows who is in charge. G’night!"
Michelle: "Good Night!"
3:00 A.M. (Dramatic irony)
Barry: "Can you get that hon?"
Michelle: "Unf…Hello? Ok… Just a minute. Here he is."
Barry: "Who is it?"
Michelle: "I couldn’t quite hear, it was long distance…a Mr. de Burger, de Burg or something like that. William, I think he said his name was."
Barry: "Hello….(A few moments of quiet.) Yes! I understand. No. No problem. Thank you."
Michelle: "Who was that?"
Barry: "Just someone offering a suggestion on those prosecutions. G’night!"
Michelle: "Uh…ok, good night."
Sunday Morning – ABC’s This Week:
Rahm Emanuel not only told George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week that no field officers should be prosecuted over breaking the law when it comes to torturing prisoners, but he took it a step beyond and proclaimed that even the lowlife John Yoos and Jay Bybees shouldn't face any consequences for their actions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about those who devised policy?
EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes that they were -- should not be prosecuted either, and that's not the place that we go -- as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement -- not the letter, the statement -- in that second paragraph, "this is not a time for retribution." It's time for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
We have a lot to do to protect America. What people need to know, this practice and technique, we don't use anymore. He banned it.
Yesterday the FX channel showed A Few Good Men and while everyone remembers "you can't handle the truth" very few people remember the the pressure exerted on Marines to follow orders no matter what or the ending and the judgment rendered against the two Marines. It seems that back in 1992 following an illegal order was enough to have you kicked out of the military with a dishonorable discharge for conduct unbecoming a Marine. Just like it was when I joined the Army in 1974. It's almost funny that the crime took place at Gitmo.
On the charge of Murder, the Members find the defendants Not Guilty.
It's hard to resist the temptation to scream and shout, but they do.
On the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, the Members find the defendants Not Guilty.
RANDOLPH looks up. Then reads from the last slip of paper.
On the charge of Conduct Unbecoming a United States Marine, the members find the defendants Guilty as Charged.
A little of the energy drains out of the room.
The defendants are hereby sentenced by this court to time already served, and are ordered...
RANDOLPH clears his throat.
... And are ordered to be dishonorably discharged from the marine corps.
(pause) This Court-Martial is adjourned.
RANDOLPH raps his gavel.
SERGEANT AT ARMS
SERGEANT AT ARMS
The M.P.'s move to DAWSON and DOWNEY to unlock their handcuffs. KAFFEE is packing up his things, just another day at the office.
Harold, I'm sorry.
I don't understand. Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red.
I know, but--
Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red, what did we do wrong?
It's not as simple as--
What did we do wrong?
We did nothing wrong.
If it wasn't a viable excuse in 1992, it's even less of an excuse when you have a college degree (required to join the CIA) or a medical degree and are supervising torture. Waterboarding two men 266 times and receiving the same answers shows that torture doesn't work. Common sense dictates that if they haven't given any more information after the first or second time, they aren't going to cough up anything useful on the hundredth time. By then they know they aren't going to die from simulated drowning and that their captors are depraved idiots following illegal orders.
Interestingly, we weren't nearly as blithe about waterboarding when it happened to our own guys during World War II. Then, we considered it a war crime and a form of torture.
In "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts," Judge Evan Wallach of the U.S. Court of International Trade has documented the trials in which the United States used evidence of water-boarding as a basis for prosecutions. The article, still in draft form, will be published soon by the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.
Among the numerous examples, Wallach cites one involving four Japanese defendants who were tried before a U.S. military commission at Yokohama, Japan, in 1947 for their treatment of American and Allied prisoners. Wallach writes, in the case of United States of America vs. Hideji Nakamura, Yukio Asano, Seitara Hata and Takeo Kita, "water torture was among the acts alleged in the specifications ... and it loomed large in the evidence presented against them."
Hata, the camp doctor, was charged with war crimes stemming from the brutal mistreatment and torture of Morris Killough "by beating and kicking him (and) by fastening him on a stretcher and pouring water up his nostrils." Other American prisoners, including Thomas Armitage, received similar treatment, according to the allegations.
Armitage described his ordeal: "They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about 2 gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness."
Hata was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor, and the other defendants were convicted and given long stints at hard labor as well.
Wallach also found a 1983 case out of San Jacinto County, Texas, in which James Parker, the county sheriff, and three deputies were criminally charged for handcuffing suspects to chairs, draping towels over their faces and pouring water over the towel until a confession was elicited. One victim described the experience this way: "I thought I was going to be strangled to death. ... I couldn't breath."
The sheriff pleaded guilty and his deputies went to trial where they were convicted of civil rights violations. All received long prison sentences. U.S. District Judge James DeAnda told the former sheriff at sentencing, "The operation down there would embarrass the dictator of a country."
Hmm, so we have prosecuted our own law enforcement agencies for performing water torture but the CIA. the doctors and everyone else involved in these heinous acts against people in their custody are not to be punished? Right now President Obama is no better than President Nixon was when he had Lt. Calley removed from the stockade after a single weekend after being sentenced to hard labor for the rest of his life for killing innocent women and children at My Lai 4.
I love this country but I am not immune to its faults and lately they have been obvious to everyone but us. Whenever we feel threatened we feel we can use any means necessary to accomplish our goals but we want others to be punished (Mr. President, I'm sure you saw those documents as you studied for that law degree, they were in your college library) for using those same means. I guess this means that our motto is no longer "Land of the free, home of the brave" it's more along the line of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but do it first."
As John Adams said many years ago, we are a nation of laws. Mr. Obama it is your job to enforce them. Otherwise you, and by definition America, are nothing more than an empty suit.
When President Obama released the four of the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) Bush-era torture memos last week, he issued a statement promising not to pursue torture prosecutions against CIA agents who relied on the memos to justify their use of torture tactics on terrorist suspects in U.S. custody. [snip]
But in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Manfred Nowak, explained that Obama’s grant of immunity is likely a violation of international law. As a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is obligated to investigate and prosecute U.S. citizens that are believed to have engaged in torture:
STANDARD: CIA torturers are according to U.S. President Obama not to be prosecuted. Is that decision supportable?
NOWAK: Absolutely not. The United States has, like all other Contracting Parties to the UN Convention Against Torture, committed itself to investigate instances of torture and to prosecute all cases in which credible evidence of torture is found.
STANDARD: In other words, by making this announcement, Obama has violated international law?
NOWAK: Correct. It is a violation of binding international treaty law in this case, because this is an international law convention — and it provides unequivocally that states are not merely obligated to make torture a crime, but also to prosecute any incidents of which credible evidence can be found.
In announcing his decision to release the OLC memos, Obama also suggested that he is not inclined to conduct a full investigation into the government’s use of torture. Nowak, however, said the he believes that such an investigation ought to be Obama’s highest priority. “Most importantly, there should be a comprehensive investigation undertaken by an independent body.
However, Obama’s statement was carefully worded to include only “those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice” — not the Bush officials who actually gave out that advice. ACLU lead counsel Jameel Jaffer told Glenn Greenwald that Obama did not shut the door to all prosecutions:
I think it’s a mistake to read the grant of immunity too broadly. I don’t think that President Obama’s statement should be taken as a sign that there’s no chance that the architects of torture program will be prosecuted. And even with respect to the interrogators, it’s only the interrogators who relied “in good faith” on legal advice who are protected.
Indeed, Marc Ambinder reported yesterday that “senior administration officials have made it clear” to him that the immunity would not apply to those officials who “who did NOT act in good faith, or who did not act according to the guidelines spelled out by the OLC.” Obama himself seemed to indicate that some sort of investigations have already begun, telling CNN en Espanol, “I think that we are moving a process forward here in the United States to understand what happened.”
A Spanish judge considering possible criminal action against six former Bush administration officials for torture at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay defied pressure to drop the case on Friday.
But Judge Baltasar Garzon, internationally known for trying to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, accepted that he might not personally take charge of any eventual criminal investigation into officials including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
On Thursday, Spain's attorney general said Garzon should dismiss the complaint brought by human rights lawyers calling for the officials to be prosecuted.
In a ruling on Friday, Garzon ignored this advice but also avoided a direct confrontation with the attorney general's office by submitting the case to a lottery system which will now assign it at random to one of the six high court judges.
"Let it be assigned to the corresponding court," Garzon said in the ruling.
The judge who gets the case will now have to decide whether to go ahead of it. Under the system, Garzon will have a one in six chance of getting the case back.
Under Spanish law, jurisdiction can be claimed in the case because five Spanish citizens or residents who were prisoners at U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, say they were tortured there.
Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido said the case should not be accepted because if anyone should be investigated for torture at Guantanamo it should be those who carried it out.
The United States cannot condemn coercive interrogation techniques and other torture practices employed by other countries while saying that we are exempt from the same standards we impose on others. It is hypocritical and wrong. That this country would compromise its standards, reputation and integrity is not only an injustice to the people of the United States of America, but also to those in the rest of world.
America has an obligation to follow its own laws and international laws. It should not defer the rule of justice to another country for prosecuting these war crimes because it does not have the courage of practical common sense to do so itself. We do not have to move in a process to "understand what happened" when we already know and understand what happened.
Torture is wrong and is against the law. And war criminals should be brought to justice. It's that simple.
Below is a YouTube video of a drunken Erie, Pennsylvania, policeman talking about his work. Among other comments he makes during the video, Officer James Cousins II engages in an animated monologue about a murder victim, 31-year-old Rondale Jennings Sr.; specifically, Cousins describes what Jennings looked like as he lay dead on the ground.
Cousins has been suspended with pay while an investigation proceeds. The head of the Erie Police Department, Steve Franklin, is currently refusing to discuss the matter, ostensibly because of the on-going internal review. In the CNN video below, we hear from the mother of the murder victim who was the subject of the law enforcement officer's derisive, graphic monologue.
While this will ultimately be cast as merely an isolated incident involving roguish behavior on the part of a single law enforcement officer, readers are encouraged to consider the possibility that, far from being an aberration, Erie Police Officer James Cousins II represents the pervasive, callous norm of modern police, who consider that their work puts them not only above the rule of law, but apart from the essentials of common human decency.
While Mr. Cousins will likely be punished to one extent or another, citizens should consider that this will happen only because of the unusual circumstance that he was caught on video mocking the suffering and grief of victims and survivors.
Desecrations by law enforcement personnel will continue, just as they have throughout the past. The only difference these days is that police must watch out for the occasional, furtively held video camera capturing them in their moments of glib, if drunken, clarity.
It was just last week that Susan Boyle rocketed to world fame in her appearance on Britain's Got Talent with her amazing rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables. Millions of people have listened to that stunning performance on YouTube since then.
Now comes news from the Scottish Daily Record that Susan Boyle recorded a track for a charity CD, The Millennium Celebration, complied at Whitburn Academy back in 1999. Only 1,000 copies of the CD were made.
If you enjoyed hearing her TV performance from last week, I think you will really enjoy this song, too. Here is the first ever recording of Susan Boyle, singing "Cry Me A River"...
The Republicrat Administration has decided that we just ain’t prepared for the next great invasive conflict, Cyber War. So in the wisdom born of DAYS of agonizingly partisan decisions, an ex-Bush aid was hired to cure the problem! Yep! You betcha! Another ex-Bushie will be quite gainfully employed in the O’Bush Administration to help us all, just like how the others are currently helping.
President “George” Barack Obama appointed former Bush administration aide Melissa Hathaway to head the effort, and her report was delivered Friday, the White House said.
And what will these hackers turned government Cyber Saviors do? Why, watch for bad guys (whoever they are) trying to take over the All-American, Ted Stevens Intertubes! Because we must be prepared for another 9/B or 1001/1011 Cyber War, it seems our government ain’t gots enough people who knows about such stuffs. So they want the kids to come in and work hard to save them (I guess while those in charge have coke and sex parties in the server rooms).
And what will the job be of these “Ethical Gackers (Government Employed Hackers)?” Nadia Short, vice president at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, said the $60 million, four-year contract with US-CERT uses the so-called ethical hackers to analyze threats to the government's computer systems and develop ways to reduce vulnerabilities.
I wonder how long it will be before money (or changed orders) transforms “the so-called ethical hackers” into Orwellian Obamanites? And will the information eventually be diverted to much more important jobs such as making sure the RIAA and MPAA can more easily track down those real terrorists, the ones that download and pirate music and film? After all, how in the world can the struggling music and movie industry make trucks full of money like Wall Street if the government can’t keep those nasty American kids from downloading overpriced music, not to mention the fine quality movies of today?
Well, at least the Republicrat in charge or his RIGHT hand man, Rahm (sorry DW) is thinking a little farther along than his mentor in that there weren’t any hackers employed that could be fired like the Arabic Language Translators. This way, when the big one comes, at least we’ll have some people who may be able to tell us why we got screwed.
Hopefully though, there will be some liberal conditions in the employment of these hackers. I mean, I know a few who are very good…AND GAY…and can protect American Business and to some extent, if wanted, the government. But, gawd forbid we fire them for being gay.
a close friend, a nurse, asked me what i though about maureen's stuff. I wrote:
[...] What do I think? I think medicine for profit has its dangers. It's not patient centered. It's not even research centered. It's fettered. Hospitals know exactly how many cath infections they can tolerate before it eats into the their profits. It must be very hard to practice medicine.
(Another friend) is involved with detoxing vets, & I was doing research for her, some of the articles I sent that I know you're too busy to see. If you have to write proposals you need to take the pulse of how things are being presented to the public. What they buy; how informed or disinformed they are by it. What the army really would like is something to fix warriors up between duty hours, let them get a little rest, so they can be perky for more of those long drives in the Hummers, escorting the oil folk and Backwater warriors to safety, green zone to green zone. Of course, making life sane when they're out of uniform would be super-- and it would sure help save cash.
I think it's right and good to be cynical here, and experience has verified my shit detector enough that I sometimes listen to it. I think we take far too many drugs. I think we're just beginning to understand how much we have over-simplified the body/ mind, the genome, the feedback systems involved, the legacy of influences seemingly disconnected and beyond our accepted idea of logic. The whole paradigm. We're often as positivistic as 19th C Austrians, or Teller. Or my father-in-law who believed that in fifty years we'll know all there is to know.
As my father said when he was dying of cancer, if you have a broken leg, they're good at setting it. I have a medical record thick as phone book and it's all physical stuff, hereditary gut problems from my inbred English ancestors, and nothing as complicated as neurology or psychology. Still, my colon ruptured when I was twenty-three to everyone's surprise. I'd suffered a long time, but I was also that unexpected zebra. It helps to fit the profile. And now unless you do, insurance won't pay for things that are only mere suspicions. Three radiologists and a kidney specialists let my kidney cancer slip through. Even gross physical medicine is art.
Ultimately, there's evidence that drugs bury things deeper, which is why those vets with bad dreams don't respond as well to treatment. Turn the reasoning around, is all. The chemistry of long-term and short-term memory is being played with. Interesting research. Necessary research. But in this deregulated profit motivated environment, where it will take things is scary. We've seen where it's gone with mental illness. Reagan saying you don't solve a problem by throwing money at it. I was in nursing school back then, taking the same bio and chem with the docs and engineers. I was blown away. So we stop "throwing" money at problems? Less money? No money? That's the answer? Away go the halfway houses, my schizoid auntie (one of nine kids; Catholics! statistically bound to be one or two who imagine things) thrown out on the streets to make her way on her own. Millions like her. Pills were another sort of lobotomy, and she'd already had one of those.
(Did you get to read the rolling stone piece? bitter pill )
What Maureen writes about here is in hope of shedding light and giving shelter. it's made of pain and hope. it shouldn't be criminal. But that's where things are going.
What does it take to get justice for violating universal human rights and our Constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights, and for breaking the laws? Who is going to take the responsibility to correct and punish the wrongs?
April 16: The Obama administration released redacted version of the memos written during the Bush administration allowing enhanced interrogation tactics. Newsweek’s Howard Fineman discusses the political fallout. [4:54]
April 16: In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann makes one more plea to President Barack Obama to prosecute Bush administration officials who allowed the torture of prisoners to occur, to set an example for the future that America does not tolerate torture. [5:01]
The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. [snip]
While the N.S.A.’s operations in recent months have come under examination, new details are also emerging about earlier domestic-surveillance activities, including the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip, current and former intelligence officials said.
“Since 2001, I have spent a lot of time in the Intelligence Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and on the floor of the Senate bringing attention to both the possible and actual effects of legislation that has dangerously expanded the power of the executive branch to spy on innocent Americans. Despite these efforts, Congress insisted on enacting several measures including the USA PATRIOT Act, the Protect America Act, and the FISA Amendments Act, embarking on a tragic retreat from the principles that had governed the sensitive area of government surveillance for the previous three decades. Congress must get to work fixing these laws that have eroded the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding citizens. In addition, the administration should declassify certain aspects of how these authorities have been used so that the American people can better understand their scope and impact.”
moves do folks good. the locals here are quite, shall we say, fixed. the newspaper has op-eds about 'coon hunting and gun rights, for godsake. no regulation needed thank you. the rugged self-sufficient individual! no taxes for them. by god, the roads and bridges come by way of jesus!
which is what they work for. Theocracy. and if they pull it off, the real bloodletting will begin, as all the little mall-church princes fight it out to be the only true god.
very hard, living through this. and I take to heart like a life raft on a raging sea your words that all will be well.
In the US, the drug corp is right center forward and all exits covered in the problems of the current financial mess. Bush passed the only social welfare bill of his occupation by extending Medicare, and he passed it formulated to enrich the drugs corps, encourage over-intervention, and drown the common good and its war-depleted coffers. The usual greedfest, made to enrich the corporations rather than serve the people. Want to help small business? Pass well-regulated univesal heath care, and make them competitive with the rest of the world. Bush's Medicare is crafted for disater, something the FOX Party (once known as the GOP) will use to steer us from making the changes we need.
Theocracy, world wide: the last gasp of the passing age, a clawing patriarchy taking all it can down with it.
All I know is that I love the sun passionately. envision a better world, and the vision takes us there. music is the model.
What the heck is wrong with people? Are our math skills so poor that we can't do simple addition and subtraction? For a supposedly Christian nation we sure are harsh on those who have the least. A recent Gallup poll finds that even though the economy has tanked, that rental prices have risen as home prices have fallen, that food and medical costs have also risen high enough that families making $50K a year are visiting food banks to supplement their pantry and doing without medical insurance while hoping for the best and yet only 41% of Americans think that the poor are paying their far share of taxes and 16% believe that the poor pay too little. If you want the poor to pay more taxes, you should let them earn more money. As Warren Buffet pointed out a few years ago, his secretary and cleaning lady paid a higher tax rate than he did. In other words, a larger proportion of their income.
In California the minimum wage is $8 an hour. If your company hasn't forced you to take an unpaid vacation or cut your hours you will gross $320 per week, $1,387 per month and $16,640 per year. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Back in the day, the rule was that you were to spend less than one third of your income on lodging so living by yourself is out of the question if you plan on eating. Rents in Santa Clara for a one bedroom apartment hover between $950 and $1400 a month. These numbers can be reduced if you are willing to live in a high crime area on the wrong side of town or live so far away from your job that it takes you an hour to get to work. But what the heck, you're poor and don't deserve to live with the "better" members of society.
Federal and State taxes are taken out before you ever see your check, along with Medicare, State Disability and Social Security taxes, so that $1387 a month is really closer to $1000 which means you compromise and live in a house or apartment with several other people and rent will only cost you $550. That doesn't include utilities or telephone, be it a land line or cell. If you don't have a car there are no payments, repairs, registration or insurance to worry about but the bus pass for the bus that doesn't run on weekends or holidays that's a mile from your apartment on one end and a mile to the job on the other is $70 a month.
Now this job obviously doesn't have health insurance and if you are young and never been seriously ill, the premiums can be pretty low but heaven forbid you're over thirty because you are looking at premiums around $250 a month. I hear tell that you are supposed to buy new clothes occasionally so you had better be a Wal-Mart shopper, but not too often. No going to the dentist either and if you need glasses they had best be of the birth control variety. Fortunately they happen to be in style now.
You really shouldn't have pets, hobbies, own a television now that everything is going digital and you can't afford cable or satellite, go to the movies, smoke cigarettes, or enjoy a beer or latte because that money is coming directly out of your food budget since you gross over $1100 a month you aren't eligible for food stamps. And with the price for a decent loaf of bread coming in at over $3.50 you should be eating rice and beans. It doesn't matter if you aren't getting proper nutrition and are gaining weight because all you can afford are simple carbohydrates, you're poor and that's all the world owes you.
Now what happens if you stupidly fall in love and get married? That salary will not support two people but you will finally qualify for food stamps. According to the traditional view of Christian marriage a man is supposed to support the wife and she is supposed to stay home and take care of the kids you can't afford. Reliable birth control is out of the question and abortion is a no-no so you better not have sex either.
Unfortunately this recession is hitting all income levels and the ranks of the newly poor are swelling at the same time as all of the safety nets are being eliminated. For those of us who are either not knowledgeable or have too much knowledge, poverty is our future. It won't matter how much you have paid into the system over the years, your fellow Americans think you are a loser and abusing the system because they are positive you're lazy. Not that the job that required a Master's degree when you took it was shipped overseas and the only thing left in your area is working at Wal-Mart and they won't hire you because you're over qualified. Even though you had six months of savings that have run out and now can't pay your bills, it's all your fault now because you're poor. You should have planned better and gotten an advanced education. Oh wait, you did that and have the student loans to prove it.
What the heck is wrong with us that we must make ourselves feel better by demeaning those who can't fight back? The poor pay into the system in many ways (including the regressive sales tax) and then society determines that this isn't enough and that they aren't contributing as much as they should even though it's all they have. And then have the audacity to say that the poor should work harder and pull themselves up by their bootstraps when all they have are flip-flops. How messed up is that?
Teabagger day. O my. What a mixed and confused catchall of a bag it is, swollen and pumped up on hormones and righteousness.
Almost finished with Ken Follett's World Without End, England in the 1300's, the struggle to live, and the struggle to build a world one can live in. Their struggles brought us here, and like any dip into history, one is made aware of how our prejudices, hopes, laws were shaped. I wish every teabagger would read it, and get some sense of why we have laws and pass taxes and make regulations. Want to cross my street? Ride down my road? Then pay the toll, subject yourself to my mood and mercy. Enter at your own risk. Shoot first, find out what happened later. You really want to go back to that world? If you do, it's because you haven't imagined it. Only ignorance would court such disorder. Would give up the progress, bought with blood, with trials, with work that brought us here.
Want religious freedom? Sepration of Church and State protects your religion. It also protects me from your religion. It's worth it.
As for the why of taxes, we pay the lowest rate in thirty years. Why should the richest pay more? Once more, to all the Joe the Plumbers:
I read comments like this on the net:
All this talk about taxing big businesses is nothing more than (Obama's) way to get to the middle class. You see it's a downward spiral effect. Who's giving you that paycheck? Yeah, that's what I thought.
"Giving" me the paycheck? You mean -- pay for work is a handout?
Think. Who makes this money for big business? Who does the work, keeps things going, figures things out at the actual physical level? Who makes it so THE BOSS, the company, the stockholder gets paid? The worker. And happy they are to do so if they can live on their wage, put a roof over their head, food on the table, and care for their kids. Happy they are to commit decades to a company that responds fairly to them.
A strong, healthy, well educated workforce is essential to any business.
Joe the plumber wants to expand and grow his business, and worries he will have to pay more taxes under Obama once he makes over 250G -- which over 90% of small business don't. But if Joe the Plumber wants to expand, he has to hire workers. What kind of workers does he want? Healthy, educated, workers; people he can trust to do the work, who believe in his experience and leadership, things essential in a boss.
Naturally, Joe the plumber wants his crew to get to work on time. Rain, snow, sleet. So he, as well as they, depend on good transportation, good roads and good public maintenance of roads. Good health care delivery so that his workers can come to work strong an give him their best. Smart workers, well schooled workers. The best he can afford.
We could go on. But think about it, Joe. This is what taxes are about. Making the country run, making the good workers good so they can make all that wealth.
Makes perfect sense that the more wealth a company makes, the more it depends on all the things taxes go to pay for.
And this is what Obama told you about sharing the wealth, the three words that McPalin have blasted everywhere. Did you listen? Get the rest of that idea? Obama told you we share the wealth so we all can grow -- because, as a business, YOU NEED PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO PAY YOU FOR YOUR SERVICES(you and your worker, that is; the people who actually go out on the truck for you to the job and actually DO the WORK).
Socialism? Where? This is foundational, defining to whatever our country has been, what's made it grow. Is that socialism? Working together to meet our needs as a nation? What a big umbrella of a word you make it.
Country first? Sure! How can we spread Democracy to the world if we are not strong at home? The strength of a nation is its workers, not just its executives, its stockholders. Though they all -- by taking care in their investing, by not empowering things that do harm (such as? tech that pollutes, that takes its profits upfront and yet are not held accountable, for instance; mortgage brokers who make bad loans, thinking of profit only; we could go on, but you get the idea), pave the road to the future.
You know, money isn't equal really -- not in actual life. What's $1000 to someone making $20,000 a year? What's it to someone making a million? It's all relative, all changing, based on things that change.
Actually, most of our taxes go for arms. (Don't believe me? watch this. You'll like it.) But is it so bad to help take care of the needy, the wounded soldiers, the elderly (I know; it's not fair that we age and die, but what can you do?), the sick, ... the roads, the bridges, the schools that make life better for us all? Things that are necessary to live?
We're so disconnected from our needs, from seeing what shapes our world. I hope most of all that we connect with it again, plan and envision together. That's the strength of a nation. Of a whole planet.
Common consensus is that the Bush administration has been the most lawless in U.S. history. From its illegal invasion of Iraq to the corporate-assisted, warrantless wiretapping of its own constituents, the Bush White House seems never to have held a view of the law from below. [snip]
But if ever there was a stain on the fabric of American democracy that must be deserving of prosecution, it is the dark legacy of torture left by the Bush administration. From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to the CIA's "secret sites," proof abounds that the U.S. government engaged in systematic torture that was approved by top government officials. Ironically, a central laboratory for this corrosion of the country's moral and legal code was the very office charged with defending the rule of law: the Department of Justice.
"It is these attorneys -- Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, James Bybee, David Addington and William Haynes -- who provided the legal basis for much of the torture and abuse that occurred at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other U.S. detention facilities around the globe," Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, writes in the recently published The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book. In Ratner's view, the prosecution of these attorneys, as well as Bush, Cheney and the rest, is a critical part of not just imposing accountability on those who approved and carried out torture in the name of the American people, but in dismantling a legal framework that could lead to more torture in the future.
'This Was an Assault on the Law Itself'
Members of the legal and human rights community are currently grappling with the question of how to hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes. In a recent cover story of Harper's Magazine, human rights legal scholar Scott Horton lays out the rationale for pursuing the crimes of the Bush administration. [snip]
But a policy systematically designed to subvert the law should be intolerable to those who place any kind of faith in American democracy. Horton's article -- parts of which should be required reading -- discusses how, during the Nuremberg trials, "the Americans and Soviets … wanted to prosecute the people who had created the legal framework for the Nazi regime, but British and French leaders objected."
"Consequently, the United States, acting on its own, convened a separate Nuremberg tribunal to try lawyers, judges and legal policymakers," thereby establishing "the principal that policymakers who occurred the mandatory prohibitions of international law against harming prisoners in wartime could be prosecuted as war criminals, no matter how many internal memos they had written to the contrary."
This leads to a critical point: "The key issue that Scott pointed out in his article," Ratner says, "is that this was an assault on the law itself." If legal opinions that sanctioned torture are left untouched, it sets a dangerous precedent. As Ratner recently wrote on his blog, "If laws can be broken with impunity today, they can and will be broken with impunity tomorrow. Not just laws against torture and war crimes, but any and all laws; any and all limits on government."
"The only way to prevent this from happening again," he tells me, "is to have prosecutions that will send a deterrence message" to future administrations.
Let's just repeat two sentences. Turley: "President Obama is going to find it very hard to go around the world and say: 'we're now again a nation of laws,' if the first act he commits as President is to walk away from a confirmed war crime." Maddow: "And [people around the world] are going to view us as an outlaw regime for not arresting him on our own soil."
Americans, like most people, love to overlook their own hypocrisy, so many Americans, including many Obama supporters, won't view as inconsistent or bothersome: (a) Obama's attempt to tell the world that "American values are restored and we're now a nation of laws again" and (b) the U.S. government's deciding that confessed war crimes committed by its most powerful political leaders should go ignored, unpunished and protected.
But the painfully obvious contradiction between those words and those deeds will be -- as Turley and Maddow point out -- easily detected by most of the world, which doesn't actually believe that America is exempt from the same rules which govern everyone else (only a subscriber to American exceptionalism would tell the rest of the world: "unlike you, we Americans have too many important things to do to get caught up with the unpleasantness of holding our political leaders accountable for war crimes"). As Harper's Scott Horton documents, there is an expectation around the world that Bush should be and (one way or the other) will be prosecuted for those crimes:
As the final hours of the Bush presidency tick down, the expectation builds in Europe that Obama will do the right thing. That would, of course, be to prosecute the Bush Administration figures responsible for introducing torture as a matter of formal policy. As they all point out, this is what the United States formally committed to do when it adopted the Convention Against Torture, which was largely the product of American advocacy to begin with.
Those who argue against investigations and prosecutions -- no matter where they fall on the political spectrum -- are adopting exactly the same mindset that led Bush officials and Bush followers to invade Iraq: the U.S., and it alone, need not conform to international norms, including those which it has long imposed on others.
Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid. But the decision is likely to raise concerns with the human-rights community on other points: They will seek to have the case referred to a different judge.
The six defendants—in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith—are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in “the war on terror.” The case arises in the context of a pending proceeding before the court involving terrorism charges against five Spaniards formerly held at Guantánamo. A group of human-rights lawyers originally filed a criminal complaint asking the court to look at the possibility of charges against the six American lawyers. Baltasar Garzón Real, the investigating judge, accepted the complaint and referred it to Spanish prosecutors for a view as to whether they would accept the case and press it forward. “The evidence provided was more than sufficient to justify a more comprehensive investigation,” one of the lawyers associated with the prosecution stated.
A Spanish court has initiated criminal proceedings against six former officials of the Bush administration. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes and Douglas Feith may face charges in Spain for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay.
If arrest warrants are issued, Spain and any of the other 24 countries that are parties to European extradition conventions could arrest these six men when they travel abroad.
Does Spain have the authority to prosecute Americans for crimes that didn't take place on Spanish soil?
The answer is yes. It's called "universal jurisdiction." Universal jurisdiction is a well-established theory that countries, including the United States, have used for many years to investigate and prosecute foreign nationals for crimes that shock the conscience of the global community.
Susan Boyle of West Lothian, Scotland has become an internet sensation after her stunning performance on Britain's Got Talent. Her audition wowed the judges (Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell) with her powerful rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables, and drove the audience to their feet with a standing ovation and cheers as she finished the song.
From Allen Roland's blog at Salon.com: US House and Senate are about (in a week and a half) to vote on bill that will OUTLAW ORGANIC FARMING ( HR 875, and S 425). There is an enormous rush to get this into law within the next few weeks before people realize what is happening. Main backer and lobbyist is (guess who) Monsanto ~ chemical and genetic engineering giant corporation. This bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to "make sure there is no danger to the public food supply". This will include backyard gardens that grow food only for a family and not for sales ~ which would, of course, include Michelle Obama's White House garden. Under the provisions of this law you could NOT legally:
Buy heirloom seed and then harvest and re-use your own seed.
You could ONLY legally purchase governmentally distributed seeds (aka Monsanto’s zombie seeds)
You could NOT raise your own seed and sell, or even GIVE them to a neighbor.
You would no longer be able to take your kids down to the local “pick-your-own” blueberry or strawberry farms, or buy from the roadside backyard grower of garden vegetables, or even grow your own vegetable plants, fruit trees, or nut trees, for your own consumption!
...If this Bill passes then NO more heirloom clean seeds but only Monsanto genetically altered seeds that are now showing up with unexpected diseases in humans.
The name on this outrageous food plan is Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (bill HR 875). See entire original article and links here.
Here's a link to the actual HR, and I'm including some excerpts that will make it plain that the level of bureaucracy (including a whole new government agency) and red tape involved in this ridiculous scheme would make it nearly impossible for the small, independent grower to legally sell their products. HR 875.
What "Food Establishments" are they talking about?
"...(5) CATEGORY 1 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term `category 1 food establishment' means a food establishment (other than a seafood processing establishment) that slaughters, for the purpose of producing food, animals that are not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or poultry that are not subject to inspection under the Poultry Products Inspection Act.
(6) CATEGORY 2 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term `category 2 food establishment' means a seafood processing establishment or other food establishment (other than a category 1 establishment) not subject to inspection under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act, that processes raw seafood or other raw animal products, whether fresh or frozen, or other products that the Administrator determines by regulation to pose a significant risk of hazardous contamination.
(7) CATEGORY 3 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term `category 3 food establishment' means a food establishment (other than a category 1 or category 2 establishment) that processes cooked, pasteurized, or otherwise ready-to-eat seafood or other animal products, fresh produce in ready-to-eat raw form, or other products that pose a risk of hazardous contamination.
8. CATEGORY 4 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term `category 4 food establishment' means a food establishment that processes all other categories of food products not described in paragraphs (5) through (7). (9) CATEGORY 5 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term 'category 5 food establishment' means a food establishment that stores, holds, or transports food products prior to delivery for retail sale...
***(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term `food production facility' means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.
What measures are they talking about?
Required registration with the new food safety agency:
"(a) In General- Any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States shall register annually with the Administrator.
(b) Registration Requirements-
(1) IN GENERAL- To be registered under subsection (a), a food establishment shall submit a registration or reregistration to the Administrator.
(2) REGISTRATION- Registration under this section shall begin within 90 days of the enactment of this Act. Each such registration shall be submitted to the Secretary through an electronic portal and shall contain such information as the Secretary, by guidance, determines to be appropriate..."
Then, after a grower has "registered" with Der Kommandant:
"...(a) In General- The Administrator shall, upon the basis of best available public health, scientific, and technological data, promulgate regulations to ensure that food establishments carry out their responsibilities under the food safety law.
(b) Regulations- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall promulgate regulations that require all food establishments, within time frames determined by the Administrator--
(1) to adopt preventive process controls that--
(A) reflect the standards and procedures recognized by relevant authoritative bodies;
(B) are adequate to protect the public health;
(C) meet relevant regulatory and food safety standards;
(D) limit the presence and growth of contaminants in food prepared in a food establishment using the best reasonably available techniques and technologies; and
(E) are tailored to the hazards and processes in particular establishments or environments;
(2) to establish a sanitation plan and program that meets standards set by the Administrator;
(3) to meet performance standards for hazardous contamination established under section 204;
(4) to implement recordkeeping to monitor compliance with regulatory requirements;
(5) to implement recordkeeping and labeling of all food and food ingredients to facilitate their identification and traceability in the event of a recall or market removal;
(6) to implement product and environmental sampling at a frequency and in a manner sufficient to ensure that process controls are effective on an ongoing basis and that regulatory standards are being met;
(7) to label food intended for final processing outside commercial food establishments with instructions for handling and preparation for consumption that will destroy microbial contaminants; and
8. to provide for agency access to records kept by the food establishments and submission of copies of records to the Administrator, as the Administrator determines appropriate.
(c) Specific Hazard Controls- The Administrator may require any person with responsibility for or control over food or food ingredients to adopt specific hazard controls, if such controls are needed to ensure the protection of the public health...."
Please take the time to pick up the phone and call your congress critter NOW. The chemical giants are counting on public unawareness and apathy, so please help prove them wrong.
In comment to Father Tyme's recent post, "The Black Hole," at Big Brass Blog, his fellow contributing writer, Peter of Lone Tree, drawing from Edgar Allen Poe's story, "A Descent into the Maelström," quotes Anglican minister, philosopher, and merchant Joseph Glanville (1636-1680):
The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as our ways; nor are the models that we frame any way commensurate to the vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, which have a depth in them greater than the well of Democritus.
Anon, I must rejoin, and in so setting my thoughts to an epistle, carry good news back to Mr. Glanville, and thence forward, to Peter of Lone Tree and Father Tyme. I invite others to read that which follows and comment as they will.
The ways of God in Nature are such that our Religions, along with their cousins in obligating belief, the Sciences, cannot see them; yet, still, in our spiritual contemplations and our physical experiments, we seek to know, even to that which is on the other side of that maelström we call Death, itself. Surely, the magnificent Augustine, himself, called us to inquiry in necessary preface to the singular and last step of belief. I would dare to speculate that this iniquity of doubt, which might easily descend to sinfulness, is the very essence of the victory of the Prodigal Son and the sweet fruit of joy upon his return that his father felt. Should we be of no father other than ourselves, our joy will be no less as the pulp and juice of freedom flow from the fruit of the tree of knowledge which shelters us from the wind's hateful chain of inexplicable Fate.
It is when we mistake our journey out of ignorance for our arrival in certainty that we fail where that God of Nature resides, for it is in that awful blackness of eternal night that we are forever compelled to travel into a light we can only imagine but never see.
That, my fellow walkers through the unending night, is just and always what distinguishes us from that God of Nature so dear to holy men, philosophers, and fools, alike: as God stands still in the light of certainty about all things now, then, and forever, we that imperfect, mortal, and soiled Creation; that flesh falling inexorably into the maelström move on, animated by nothing but our dreams of that which we shall never find.
Rejoice in Life and in Death: the former is our journey; the latter is our Fate. In both, we are victorious over the maelström, even as we are consumed by it.
My good colleague, Father Tyme, down below referenced the "pirate situation" with some surprising claims. To wit:
"But maybe they are really responding to a situation in which the good guys (I guess that’s us, or rather business) have been dumping toxic waste into the ocean off the Somalian coast and screwing up their fishing livelihood."
Here's a sampling (bold emph. PoLT): "In his book “Villains of All Nations,” the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then - plucked from the docks of London’s East End, young and hungry - you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the cat o’ nine tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.
"Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the 18th century.”
"They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.
"The words of one pirate from that lost age - a young British man called William Scott - should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: “What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live.”
"In 1991, the government of Somalia - in the Horn of Africa - collapsed. Its 9 million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country’s food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Safely ensconced in our new apartment in Reno. It is beautifully located in an area that the tourists don't visit and convenient to all forms of shopping and living niceties. After I recover I will be able to walk to most of the places I need. Across a very quiet street that is one way until one stop sign from the apartment is an interesting strip mall that contains a pharmacy, my bank, Staples, Coldstone Creamery (thank goodness I'm not fond of ice cream), a Panda Express, a barbecue joint, a McDonalds so old that it still has the original arches, a Vietnamese Noodle house (yippee! I love that stuff) and a pub. I also heard that they are putting in a Smart and Final also. On the same side of the street as we are and right next door is a restaurant supply house. Not bad for picking a place off of Craigslist and renting it sight unseen.
We have a walk-in closet, a huge bathroom (with no heat at all) and a dishwasher in the kitchen. The refrigerator is smaller than my last one but it isn't bad. The big downside in the kitchen is that the cupboards were built for people about a foot taller than me. And as you might guess, all of the tall people who helped me pack didn't understand when I said I needed the step stool to be available when I first got here.
The physical move was a major clusterf*ck . I had wanted to sell my car and rent a U-Haul and then buy a beater with what was left over. Everybody was against the idea and talked me out of it for various reasons One suggestion was to rent a trailer and tow the stuff behind my car. The day before I was supposed to leave I went to pick up the hitch and it turns out that the moron on the other end of the phone was looking at the hitch ball and there were no hitches in stock. So, I ended up packing my car with as much as I could and putting the rest of our stuff in storage. In a few weeks, after mom is a little more familiar with her surroundings and I can leave her alone, I will make an overnight trip back to San Jose, rent a U-Haul and drive out the rest of our stuff.
The drive itself was absolutely beautiful after we left Sacramento. As we headed into Donner Pass there was a light snowfall but nothing stuck to the road. The trees were dusted with snow and the scenery looked just like all the paintings, spectacular. You could tell when you entered Nevada, the roads are in better condition. The dogs are a little discomforted by the changes and they sniff the air, as opposed to pollution, constantly. Now Shadow follows me even more than usual. I certainly named her right.
When I went to unpack the car, I tried to remove a box from the trunk that had taken two guys to wedge it in (I didn't pack it) and I herniated a disc getting it out. It must have weighed at least 80 lbs. I have a Lidocaine patch on my back but it is only slightly dulling the pain so I've been alternating between trying not to puke and whimpering. One of the things I could do to alleviate the pain is to do some exercises on my exercise ball or use the pain balls to work some pressure points on the muscles but they are, you guessed it, in San Jose. Mom and I don't have any furniture at all so I went and got two inflatable mattresses and a camp chair for mom at Wally World. Then I had to go back and get an air pump because quick did not mean open and the mattresses would inflate. Go figure.
Larry the Cable Guy was here right on time yesterday. I'm joking, his name was Marco, but Ron White will be appearing just down the street at the Peppermill on July 4. Foreigner is going to be there next weekend and Jay Leno performed last night. I think I might have some fun here. I shopped at Trader Joe's yesterday and will look for Costco later in the week. I am so excited, it already feels like home.
My landlady is out of town so she said she would come by on Monday and pick up the rent. Things are going to be very tight, not that this is anything new, until I find a job and receive some of the grants for taking care of mom. Her old doctor gave me paperwork with her official diagnoses of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia which will hurry things along. I'm sure things will work out eventually.
Overall this place seems a lot more friendly than where we were and I am looking forward to a new start. Plus, I get to bag on Harry Reid instead of Feinstein and the Governator.
"Chains We Can Believe In": Fed Said to Order Banks to Stay Mum on ‘Stress Test’ Results: April 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve has told Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other banks to keep mum on the results of “stress tests” that will gauge their ability to weather the recession, people familiar with the matter said.
The Fed wants to ensure that the report cards don’t leak during earnings conference calls scheduled for this month. Such a scenario might push stock prices lower for banks perceived as weak and interfere with the government’s plan to release the results in an orderly fashion later this month.
From the "Ethics" page of the Obama/Biden Campaign Website: Plan to Change Washington
"Lobbyists Write National Policies: For example, Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force of oil and gas lobbyists met secretly to develop national energy policy.
"Secrecy Dominates Government Actions: The Bush administration has ignored public disclosure rules and has invoked a legal tool known as the "state secrets" privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court."
Evidently the Catholic Church has conflicting precepts on murder, which state quite clearly as one of Catholicism’s immutable laws (number 6, 7 or 8 depending on which Reformation or interpretation you adhere to) that was hand delivered from their Spirit in the Sky by a duly appointed representative named Moses, violation of said transgression is punishable by everlasting torment…or worse. It seems the Spirit in Charge (according to the Catholics) frowns mightily enough on transgressors or as they affectionately call them, sinners! Murder by Catholic Church definition, like pedophilia, does not, however, preclude ascension to Priesthood, Bishop, Cardinal or Papal status so it comes as a bit of hypocrisy that denying a person who is merely pro-choice (not pro-murder, but simply wants to give a choice) is not fit to represent a nation to the Vatican. Yet a member of the Hitler Youth, whose ideals were to attain perfection through any means including genocide, may lead an entire religious sect.
Further, the Church took a stolid stand when G.W. Bush allowed the murder of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis in an illegal war. In fact, nary a contrary word was heard from the Church. It was mildly reminiscent of the “sternly worded “ letters the Democrats sent to Bush when they whiningly disagreed with Bush’s decrees. It seems it is only WHO you murder that’s the deciding factor. And just who would Jesus murder? Well, anyone but unborn babies according to the Catholic Church and its zealots.
Now to be fair:
“In April 2005 the media reported that Pope Benedict XVI had, as 14-year old Joseph Ratzinger, been an HJ (Hitler-Jugend) member. The German government's response was that compulsory membership of the HJ had little bearing on the pope's religious convictions or on his ability to lead the Roman Catholic Church.”
But that means the Cardinals who voted for this Hitler Youth ignored the indoctrinations that more than likely were instilled into the malleable brain of young Joey. They knowingly gave their blessing to a person who was involved in a group that hated Jews, hated blacks, went so far as to try to exterminate millions of innocent by birth, people who did them no harm in order to become Masters of the world. Says a lot about those who selected Joey.
But Joey and his ilk have turned their backs on pedophiliac priests. Wait a minute! The Catholic Church is totally opposed to homosexuality. Pedophiliac priests are excused by the church. Pedophilia is defined as sexual desire in an adult for a child. But the overwhelming majority of deviate sexual cases involving priests (males) is with young boys. Wouldn’t that make the priests not just pedophiles, but homosexuals? And what IS the Church's stance on homosexuality?
Interestingly, portions of the Nazi Regime were known to support an “alternate lifestyle” in their male only camps even encompassing homosexuality. Could this have been a precursor for the Hitler Youth since they were expected to follow in such footsteps ? And the Cardinals voted this guy in, yet are opposed to a person who simply wants to give women a “choice”, not force them to abort, just give them a choice?
Now that I think about it, I feel it’s a good decision on the part of the Catholic Church to deny Caroline her ambassadorship! The Church should stand up for its beliefs no matter how medieval those who represent it may be.
Good for them! In fact, I have a list of people who are more qualified in the eyes of the Church to be Ambassadors to the Vatican based on Catholic dogma.
With sincerest Catholic respect I nominate the following (though not a complete list by a long shot):
John Wayne Gacy (posthumously)
James Jones (posthumously)
David Koresch (posthumously)
George W. Bush
Richard B. Cheney
Newton Leroy McPherson (Gingrich)
Rush Hudson Limbaugh
Pastor Ted Haggard
Please give these pillars of society due consideration to represent their nation to the esteemed Vatican much as they represented their own lives. I’m sure you will find a suitable ambassador among them.
Should you need a more complete list, feel free to ask.
Yours in Xhrist,
(one who just followed orders…like Joey!)
Dave Weigel reports that a "chorus of groans sounded at the meeting" when it was announced that Alan Keyes -- a gift of Right-wing lunacy that never stops giving -- will speak at the April 15 "Tea Party" in DC.
April 9: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow dips into subject of conservative activists expressing themselves through teabagging. Air America Radio national correspondent Ana Marie Cox offers top-down analysis. [ 6:54 ]
Those of you who have read my musings at another blog understand my possibly warped penchant for humor. As that great American Right Wing Monthly states, “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” I think we’re in need of a massive overdose just to elicit one guffaw. With that in mind, I looked for things in the news that would make me laugh, things that I could pass on to you.
Hmmm? 5 American soldiers killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq! Are we still in Iraq? Nope! No funny there.
Somali pirates kidnap more people and ships. They’re bad (we're told)! But maybe they are really responding to a situation in which the good guys (I guess that’s us, or rather business) have been dumping toxic waste into the ocean off the Somalian coast and screwing up their fishing livelihood. Seems the “good guys” are putting all that nearly eternally lasting nasty into bio-degradable drums (probably imported from China and sold by Wally-World); drums that rust and leak under ocean saltwater, not to mention the pressure eventually crushing the cans. Now it's real nice and Right Green of those businesses to worry about those containers hurting the environment (the contents...not so much), but not really funny.
Monsanto is trying its best to eliminate those pesky problems associated with over population with their corn products. Was Thomas Malthus really that funny?
Using condoms causes Aids or so says the man in the funny hat. Not using condoms can shorten life spans thereby reducing the tithing the Vatican gets. Oops! Almost funny, but definitely ironic.
Perchlorates have been found in a lot of our drinking water. The tests used to say the amount we now find is dangerous, so the thing to do to make then not dangerous is to lower the standard of tolerance for danger and voila! It’s ok to drink the water here again (Just not in Mexico!) I mean, it’s not like it’s rocket science or anything! And about those other things they find in our water, they really aren’t that funny either.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) reminds us of the good old days of tail-gunner Joe (McCarthy not Scarborough) by telling of a secret list of 17 Socialists in the Congress. Maybe there are even some in Hollywood…or Wall Street? They might even be on Main Street...or the blogs! I’m sure he’ll keep us informed with all the facts he can produce, so long as he doesn't learn the definition of Socialism. But not really that funny. (I can't wait to see if I'm on the list. Damn Black Helicopters!)
There were a number of senseless killings across this hilarious land of ours this last month but the good news is that no relatives of Congressional, Senatorial, NRA Executives or Big Business People were among the victims. Phew! No need to worry! That could start some kind of anti-gun thing and the NRA sure doesn't want to spend any more of its money on ads and lobbying their marionettes in Congress. Maybe a little chuckle at the irony, though.
I used to think that the Fox Goebbels News Corp was funny but since they hired Beck (isn’t that a German name? Good beer, lousy person) away from the other Conservative News Network, farcical drollery has lost its meaning for me. And that O’Reilly guy used to break me up with his defense of Bush but all he does now is rerun the same tired old tripe. You'd think his producer could stalk better writers. There are a lot of unemployed Bush writers out there. Maybe Ari...Dana Perino? As Mike from “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” would say, That’s a funny once!”
Although I’ll keep looking for funny stuff, the only thing that really cracked me up was Dark Wraith’s Radio Program on blogtalkradio.com when he mentioned the new word from Gregarious Geithner or Sardonic Summers (I always get him confused with that Larry Sanders Guy from Showtime) or one of their minions. That wonderful new piece of political jargon is “de-liquification.” Think about the effort that went into coining that word. It’s geniusfyingly hilarious! Something that was solid being turned quite fluid being turned back into a solid! (Memo: Barry, you need a new department. How about the Ministry of Repetitive Redundancy?) Rather than “not liquefying liquidity” (???)” we’re now going to re-solidify that which we liquefied to remove the solids in the first place. Doesn’t get much funnier than that, unless you come up with another term perhaps more poignant. How about we “anti-diarrhea-fy” those ASSets? Wouldn’t that make more sense? They would "solid up", and we’d never have to concern ourselves with Republican trickle-down economics again. Besides, anti-diarrheafication is easier to clean up; bailout problem solved. Now that’s funny!
A short quote from the article announces, "Schumacher's article says, "Flood waters erode the soil. 'Gay marriage' erodes the soul."
I have consulted this a.m. with my ancient spiritual ancestors and they have reassured me that contrary to the pastor's belief, my soul is immortal. One of 'em, a ripshit-tearass floozie named Badb Catha even went so far as to say, "Ya' know, Petey, if I wasn't so busy gettin' ready for that Iranian bloodbath, I'd slide on over and slap the shit outta that poor dumfucker. Good goddess, can't you keep control of those idiots and what they say any better'n that?" "I'm doin' the best I can, Ma," I says to her. "HMMPH," she hmmphed. "Uh, Ma," I says to her, "That Iranian business, which side is gonna, you know...." "Petey," she says, "You're really pissing me off; you know damn well I am forbidden by the Spiritual Rules of the Universe to divulge that information. But I'll tell ya' what; if you're interested in booking the odds, each side will be more hideously defeated than the other." "Ma," I says to her, "That's the way these wars always come out." "By goddess, Petey, you're learning! I'm gonna tell my sisters there's hope for the human race yet!"
In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government's legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency's eavesdropping efforts.
In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by a civil liberties group, the Justice Department argued that the government was protected by "sovereign immunity" from lawsuits because of a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act. The government's legal filing can be read here (PDF).
For the first time, the Obama Administration's brief contends that government agencies cannot be sued for wiretapping American citizens even if there was intentional violation of US law. They maintain that the government can only be sued if the wiretaps involve "willful disclosure" -- a higher legal bar. [snip]
Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the government over the warrantless wiretapping program, notes that the government has previously argued that the government had "sovereign immunity" against civil action under the FISA statute. But he says that this is the first time that they've invoked changes to the Patriot Act in claiming the US government is immune from claims of illegal spying under any other federal surveillance statute.
"They are arguing this based on changes to the law made by the USA PATRIOT Act, Section 223," Bankston said in an email to Raw Story. "We've never been fans of 223--it made it much harder to sue the U.S. for illegal spying, see an old write-up of mine at: http://w2.eff.org/patriot/sunset/223.php --but no one's ever suggested before that it wholly immunized the U.S. government against suits under all the surveillance statutes."
Salon columnist and constitutional scholar Glenn Greenwald -- who is generally supportive of progressive interpretations of the law -- says the Obama Administration has "invented a brand new claim" of immunity from spying litigation.
"In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad 'state secrets' privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal -- you are barred from suing them unless they 'willfully disclose' to the public what they have learned," Greenwald wrote Monday.
He also argues that the Justice Department's response is exclusively a product of the new Administration, noting that three months have elapsed since President Bush left office.
"This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ's, and the ample time that elapsed -- almost three full months -- makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials," Greenwald wrote. "Yet they responded exactly as the Bush DOJ would have. This demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used -- not only when the Obama DOJ is taking over a case from the Bush DOJ, but even when they are deciding what response should be made in the first instance."
"Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ -- using an absurdly broad rendition of 'state secrets' to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity -- are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself," he adds.
Both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union say the "sovereign immunity" claim in the context of the case goes farther than any previous Bush Administration claims of wiretap immunity.
Writing about the changes to the Patriot Act last year, the EFF asserted that revisions to the Act involved troubling new developments for US law.
"Unlike with any other defendant, if you want to sue the federal government for illegal wiretapping you have to first go through an administrative procedure with the agency that did the wiretapping," the Foundation wrote. "That means, essentially, that you have to politely complain to the illegal wiretappers and tip them off to your legal strategy, and then wait for a while as they decide whether to do anything about it before you can sue them in court."
Moreover, they said, "Before PATRIOT, in addition to being able to sue for money damages, you could sue for declaratory relief from a judge. For example, an Internet service provider could ask the court to declare that a particular type of wiretapping that the government wants to do on its network is illegal. One could also sue for an injunction from the court, ordering that any illegal wiretapping stop. PATRIOT section 223 significantly reduced a judge's ability to remedy unlawful surveillance, making it so you can only sue the government for money damages. This means, for example, that no one could sue the government to stop an ongoing illegal wiretap. At best, one could sue for the government to pay damages while the illegal tap continued!"
Keith Olbermann's scathing criticism of Obama's secrecy/immunity claims
Several weeks ago, I noted that unlike the Right -- which turned itself into a virtual cult of uncritical reverence for George W. Bush especially during the first several years of his administration -- large numbers of Bush critics have been admirably willing to criticize Obama when he embraces the very policies that prompted so much anger and controversy during the Bush years. Last night, Keith Olbermann -- who has undoubtedly been one of the most swooning and often-uncritical admirers of Barack Obama of anyone in the country (behavior for which I rather harshly criticized him in the past) -- devoted the first two segments of his show to emphatically lambasting Obama and Eric Holder's DOJ for the story I wrote about on Monday: namely, the Obama administration's use of the radical Bush/Cheney state secrets doctrine and -- worse still -- a brand new claim of "sovereign immunity" to insist that courts lack the authority to decide whether the Bush administration broke the law in illegally spying on Americans.
The fact that Keith Olbermann, an intense Obama supporter, spent the first ten minutes of his show attacking Obama for replicating (and, in this instance, actually surpassing) some of the worst Bush/Cheney abuses of executive power and secrecy claims reflects just how extreme is the conduct of the Obama DOJ here. Just as revealingly, the top recommended Kos diary today (voted by the compulsively pro-Obama Kos readership) is one devoted to attacking Obama for his embrace of Bush/Cheney secrecy and immunity doctrines. Also, a front page Daily Kos post yesterday by McJoan vehemently criticizing Obama (and quoting my criticisms at length) sparked near universal condemnation of Obama in the hundreds of comments that followed. Additionally, my post on Monday spawned vehement objections to what Obama is doing in this area from the largest tech/privacy sites, such as Boing Boing and Slashdot.
This is quite encouraging but should not be surprising. As much as anything else, what fueled the extreme hostility towards the Bush/Cheney administration were their imperious and radical efforts to place themselves behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy and above and beyond the rule of law. It would require a virtually pathological level of tribal loyalty and monumental intellectual dishonesty not to object just as vehemently as we watch the Obama DOJ repeatedly invoke these very same theories and, in this instance, actually invent a new one that not even the Bush administration espoused.
To be clear: there are important areas in which Obama has been quite commendable, and I've personally praised him fairly lavishly for those actions (see, for instance, here, here, and here) but it is simply unacceptable -- no matter what else is true about him -- for Obama to claim for himself the very legal immunity and secrecy powers which characterized and enabled the worst excesses of Bush lawlessness. Yet in a short period of time, he has taken one step after the next to do exactly that.
The Olbermann segments, which are really worth watching, highlight the exact passages of the Obama DOJ's brief which I excerpted and posted on Monday, and underscore how intolerable the Obama administration's conduct in the area of transparency and civil liberties has increasingly become. Credit to Olbermann for highlighting this issue and commenting on it with such unrestrained candor. [snip]
UPDATE: Even better, Olbermann tonight will have on as a guest Kevin Bankston of EFF, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs suing Bush officials for illegal spying, which means Olbermann intends to cover this issue again tonight. Along with the ACLU and others, EFF has been truly heroic in defending the core constitutional liberties of Americans and serving as a key check on executive abuses. [snip]
UPDATE II: One of Obama's most supportive boosters in the liberal blogosphere -- Booman -- emphatically condemns Obama for what his DOJ is doing in this case, and says "it is extremely disappointing, it is unjustifiable, and it is dangerous." [snip]
April 7: Newsweek’s Howard Fineman talks about the Obama administration’s decision that victim’s of “illegal government surveillance” cannot sue “unless there is ‘willful disclosure’ of the illegally intercepted communications.” [ 6:59 ]
Justify My Bug
What’s a freedom-loving American do to?
April 7: Constitutional law Prof. Jonathan Turley discusses the legal ramifications of the Obama administration’s defense of former President George Bush’s wiretapping policy. [ 4:11 ]
President Obama, a goodly portion of the people who supported you and elected you to office are more than extremely disappointed that you would also seek to infringe upon our natural rights and further shred our Constitution. Mr. President, as a Constitutional scholar, you, of all people, should understand the basic principles of that document.
"Thus, the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written Constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument."
"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them."
~ Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491
"An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed."
~ Norton v. Shelby County, 118 US 425 p. 442
What you are doing, Mr. President, and what President Bush did, is not only wrong, it is against our rights to privacy, it is against our Constitution and it is illegal. There is no other way to reason this, Mr. President.
Mr. President, you ran on a campaign of hope and change and this continuation of acting outside our basic laws which guarantee our natural rights is not the change for which you were elected to office, it is more of the same, and worse.
When you were sworn into office as our 44th President, you swore an oath to uphold and defend our Constitution. Do it.
As if sending the men and women of our Armed Forces, Reserves and National Guard to fight a war under false pretenses wasn't disrespectful enough. As if sending those same troops to fight without the proper armor, intel or decent working equipment and then telling them that you go to war with what you have when you had been planning to go to war all along wasn't disrespectful enough. As if hiding the troops who have fallen fighting this war and sneaking their bodies back in the dark of night wasn't disrespectful enough. As if forcing the wounded to recover in hospitals that were falling down around their ears wasn't disrespectful enough. As if the veterans weren't homeless and joblesss after returning from active duty wasn't disrespectful enough. As if all the lies about the friendly fire deaths wasn't disrespectful enough. As if the troops being forced to live and work in 90,000 substandard and dangerous facilities in Iraq wasn't disrespectful enough.
As if all of those weren't disrespectful enough, Salon has confirmed (with audio for the doubting Thomases of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders) what those of us who really support the troops have suspected for some time. That the previous administration regarded injured troops as pieces of equipment that should be thrown away unmended as often as possible. If this soldier hadn't carried a tape recorder because of his PTSD and traumatic brain injury induced CRS (can't remember shit) disease we might still be waiting for the truth to come out. Again.
But what Sgt. X wants to tell a reporter about is one doctor's appointment at Fort Carson that his wife did not witness. When she couldn't accompany him to an appointment with psychologist Douglas McNinch last June, Sgt. X tucked a recording device into his pocket and set it on voice-activation so it would capture what the doctor said. Sgt. X had no idea that the little machine in his pocket was about to capture recorded evidence of something wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected -- that the military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that obligates the military to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments. And, as Salon will explore in a second article Thursday, after the Army became aware of the tape, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to investigate its implications, despite prodding from a senator who is not on the committee. The Army then conducted its own internal investigation -- and cleared itself of any wrongdoing.
McNinch added that he also received pressure not to properly diagnose traumatic brain injury, Sgt. X's other medical problem. "When I got there I was told I was overdiagnosing brain injuries and now everybody is finding out that, yes, there are brain injuries," he recalled. McNinch said he argued, "'What are we going to do about treatment?' And they said, 'Oh, we are just counting people. We don't plan on treating them.'" McNinch replied, "'You are bringing a generation of brain-damaged individuals back here. You have got to get a game plan together for this public health crisis.'"
When McNinch learned he would be quoted in a Salon article, he cut off further questions. He also said he would deny the interview took place. Salon, however, had recorded the conversation.
Hmm, they must have learned that trick from all the wiretapping stories.
As a taxpayer I am concerned that my dollars aren't good enough for the troops but are good enough to bailout highly paid and incompetent banking and insurance executives. As a veteran my heart is breaking that those who served faithfully under trying circumstances are being discarded as if they were trash. As an American I am flabbergasted that the troops are being treated this way after the Walter Reed scandal. As a human being I am disappointed by the inhumanity of it all.
Our troops and veterans deserve the best that we can give them, no matter what the cost. After all, isn't that what we ask of them?
I could spin a whole paragraph on how effective Foxworthy's humor is, and why it resonates with his audience, but I'll leave that to those who actually enjoy deconstructing humor. Hint: a fine sense of the ridiculous, a genuine sympathy with the audience, and a sense of inclusion: it ain't funny if those damn Yankees make fun of us, but it's okay if we make fun of ourselves.
Yeah, well, whatever. Instead, let's transform this into a meme, a frame if you will, that we can use to let some light into the darkness and confusion cast by our GOP buddies.
If you have ever...
· lied about the Democrats wanting to build a levitating train from Disneyland to a whorehouse in Nevada...
· advocated overthrowing the government as an attempt to sell tickets to your martial-arts show...
· lied about Democrats spending $30 million on a mouse in Nancy Pelosi's district...
· tried to accuse the Democrats of trying to spend $200 million on mowing government lawns...
· gone on Fox News and made fun of soldiers dying in Afghanistan...
· sent pictures of the White House lawn covered in watermelons to your black constituents...
· accused a black man supporting a black candidate for President of racism, and then gone on to call that same black man an Oreo and an Uncle Tom...
· advocated blowing the hell out of a small country but couldn't find the country on a map...
· promoted War as a solution for Peace...
· lamented the slipping morality of America while snorting cocaine off a gay male hooker's back while within eyesight of children while filming "Jesus Camp"...
· demanded people follow your "Contract with America" while breaking your marriage contract with two different wives...
· demanded that we give up our freedoms in order to defend them...
· prepared your personal budget without numbers...
· apologized to Rush Limbaugh...
· accused the MSM of being a "liberal machine"...
· advocated that your constituents become "armed and dangerous"...
· taken a "wide stance" in a public toilet...
· altered your teachings about the history of the world to include dinosaurs because they're a popular marketing tool for the kiddies...
· snidely suggested that no one could ever come up with a rationale or example of Greek 'exceptionalism'...
· didn't have a problem burdening our children and grandchildren with huge amounts of debt to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans today, but howl with phony outrage when Democrats spend money investing in health care, education and infrastructure to improve the lives of those same children and grandchildren tomorrow...
· sent troops in harm's way and then failed to supply them with adequate arms and armor, and cut their VA medical benefits when they come home wounded...
· made everyday people in your district the very last of your concerns...
· buried your own Presidential bid by looking into a videographer's camera and repeating a racial slur...
· run a campaign as a values conservative while crossdressing and kissing Donald Trump on a video played in front of several million of your constituency...
· thought starting a War was a GOOD way to boost the economy...
· photographed your cherubic mistress smoking a cigarette while she's pointing at a torture victim's genitals...
· chaired a committee on stopping Internet porn while propositioning teenagers on AOL...
· gotten popped for a DWI after serving as your county's Stop DWI official...
· wished for the President of the United States of America to FAIL in his efforts to lead the nation...
· allowed a gay, male hooker posing as a legitimate journalist to ask questions at a White House press briefing...
· claimed that the Science isn't in on global warming...
· ever shot a close friend in the face - and then forced your friend to apologize to you for your shooting him...
· had a hookers and pampers party...
· claimed that 4.9 million a year isn't rich...
· ever decried "trial lawyers" and bemoaned going to the courts to overturn democracy, but have vowed to use all legal avenues to prevent a lawfully elected US Senator from taking his seat...
· put letters on your face - backwards - to incite racial tensions...
· thought that filibusters are really good -- bad -- good -- BAD!...
· had shoes thrown at you...
· gone on television to mock science...
· mentioned that it's winter again to deny global warming...
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community.” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That's not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Got that? We may think there are real-world consequences to the policies of the president, real pain and real grief for real people. But to the White House, that kind of thinking is passé. The White House doesn't even recognize that kind of reality.
Pigeons are coming home to roost in the prestigious halls of the United Kingdom's Parliament building. Whether they make it across the Atlantic to the US Capitol is a matter that should be of interest to all Americans.
On March 19, Katharine Gun testified before British lawmakers, asking them to commit to a full public inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq. Gun is well-known to Members of Parliament. She was the young British secret service officer who was arrested for leaking an illegal US spy operation against members of the UN Security Council debating the decision for war. The operation, mounted by the NSA, targeted six nations whose vote for a preemptive strike was considered essential to winning broad international support for war.
"What we were being asked to do was to politicize intelligence, and we subsequently found out ... that policy was being fixed around intelligence," Gun said in her testimony last week.
The plot she revealed was conceived in America by an American intelligence agency whose director at the time repeatedly assured the US public - and the Congress - that the NSA "does nothing unlawful." Others saw it differently. Manipulating intelligence to fit policy was one thing, albeit both disgraceful and outrageous; manipulating people was tantamount to blackmail.
If Gun and others seeking a new and full Iraq war inquiry are successful, the NSA misadventure will once again be a matter of investigation, at least in Great Britain. Not a slap dash of whitewash, but true scrutiny. And, because the United Kingdom agreed to join in the illegal spy operation at the request of the United States, a related issue will once again be back on the front burner - that of American influence over British decision-making at the highest levels.
Five years ago, on the day following its collapse at the Old Bailey, members of Parliament hotly debated issues surrounding the Katharine Gun case. Especially troubling, and certain to be troubling again, was this question of whether the Americans led the British not only into spying against the UN, but also into an unpopular - and perhaps illegal - war.
The words of MP Colin Challen, spoken during that earlier, historic debate, will come back to haunt this time around:
"The substantive issue is whether or not we acted at the behest of the American government." The possibility of having been so seriously flummoxed by politicians across the pond was, and continues to be, painfully disturbing. The illegal spy operation and the preemptive strike against Iraq were linked in an enduring relationship by Challen and his colleagues. To reexamine one act is to reexamine the other.
Earlier investigations into pre-war intelligence issues, such as those reported by Lord Butler and Lord Hutton in the UK and by the Iraq Intelligence Commission in the US, have not answered the most compelling questions about how and why the US and the UK went to war without a clear UN mandate and with reliance upon egregiously flawed intelligence. Neither have they addressed the issue raised in the Gun case from the beginning - the legality of the war.
Hopefully, a new investigation into the how and why of it all will remind the world that "getting rid of Saddam Hussein," so often touted as the justification for war, ignores the existence of international accords prohibiting a preemptive invasion for the purpose of regime change. Thus far, few have taken notice of this inconvenient truth, especially in the mainstream US media - which essentially ignored the Gun case - and in certain high places on both sides of the Atlantic.
The US Iraq Intelligence Commission was empanelled to explore, among its other mandates, the quality and value of pre-war Iraq intelligence. The problem was the mandate the commission did not have - one that relates directly to what happened a few days ago in London, and to those pesky pigeons winging their way to the House of Parliament.
What the commission lacked, according to its own report, was the power "to investigate how policy makers used the intelligence they received."
And there's the rub.
It's going to take investigating decisions of the policy makers and intelligence manipulators, not the intelligence collectors - if the truth is to be revealed. Investigators need to knock on doors on Downey Street [Downing Street] and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Former UK diplomat Carne Ross, who left the UK Foreign Office over questions about the validity of pre-war intelligence and the legality of the war, agrees. He told Members of Parliament last week that, "There should be a full public inquiry ... into the decision-making that took place."
For the first time in 18 years, the Pentagon granted the news media access on Sunday night to cover the arrival of a coffin to Dover Air Force Base from overseas.
The coffin, draped in a flag and bearing the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va, was unloaded from a government aircraft by the military honor guard. Sergeant Myers, 30, was killed by an improvised explosive device near Helmand Province in Afghanistan on April 4, according to the Defense Department.
In the hours leading up to the transfer of Sergeant Myers’s corpse, Air Force officials received the consent of his family members — per the new policy — to grant members of the news media permission to be on hand.
The comment tells the real story on teh story about the halfbeatle reunion. So much for the NYDAILY NEWS and Jim Farber... and why did Googles News list it second in their choice of articles about the event? God knows The Beatles were never social activists! And what's so funny (or bad or sneer-eliciting) about peace love & understanding?
mrjones Apr 5, 2009 4:52:35 AM Congrats to all as we have just witnessed an inside the park homerun written by a an intellectual critic with an agenda on "what should be" as opposed to "what is" while p---ing all over his leg to feel warm about himself. First base: Open an article with a ridiculous thought on an obvious observation that belittles the appearance of a group that broke up 40 years ago. Second base: Trash the host who is enacting positive attitudes in a city dominated by news of continued abuse and violence all around it. Third base: Diminish those who are among the pillars of a movement that revolutionized the music world. Home plate: Bring out the old "trash the hippies" drivel that reveals a putrid smell emanating from Jim Farber's s--- for brains! Here's a recap of today's game, folks!: Ringo really sucks, especially his musicianship! David Lynch sucks! Cheryl Crow and Eddie Vetter suck! And Donovan isn't worth the eye of a newt! Mike Love and Paul Horn, Maharishi and "My S...
"Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay."
-- Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, 1770
We Americans must know by now that the Republican Party today is not only a Party of few ideas, but also a Party of few words. Socialism, terrorism, voodoo economics, and tax cuts are a few words we hear over and over again in their limited political lingo. Tax cuts are a Republican's idea of a frugal government, frugal only for them. The only spending a Republican is against is spending money on the American people. What we should cut out of US government are the salaries, unlimited benefits, and perks for those who think they represent main street America, or want us to think that they do.
Why should we Americans expect multimillionaires to have any idea of what most Americans are facing today? They can't, and what's worse, many don't care. If they cared, we wouldn't be in this financial mess we find ourselves in today, and we wouldn't be owned by China. If we Americans thought their (GOP) idea for a budget was a big laugh, we should hold our sides in, whenever we hear the word "socialism," coming from any member of the Bush GOP. [snip]
This last week we saw the firing of the CEO of General Motors. What we haven't seen is the firing of the officers of Wall Street and AIG. They all deserve to be fired. Just as those Republicans and Democrats who spent years supporting the criminal and treasonous actions by the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration should also be held accountable.
Aside from the type of socialism that these Republicans love to spew about, what we really have today are the billions of profit and perks held onto by the elite in this country, while the masses, the citizens of the US, are stuck with the debt they are responsible for. That's not socialism, but there is a name for it . . .
In a book called "Schott's Original Miscellany" by Ben Schott (2003), out of a possible 64 systems of government, he lists 23 of them, and one of those systems of government is a system ruled by the wealthy. It is called a "plutocracy."
I used to think that was what was wrong with US government, because, as of today, we still do not have US law in US government, instead, we have those who are responsible for the highest debt ever in US history, along with the deaths and destruction of millions of lives, all of them millionaires, with the best benefits this country can offer. Yet, this same Republican Party has spent the last 30 years in government, deregulating and privatizing our corporations and our government to the point that we Americans can be held hostage by our jobs and the cost of living. [snip]
I was wrong thinking that we had a plutocracy system of government, when there is another far worse system of government that Schott lists "as the worst possible," called a "kakistocracy." Thinking back over the last eight years of the Bush regin of terror, this system will look and feel very familiar to many Americans.
Government under the control of a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens.
This system fits what we have had for years under Bush GOP rule, and we have a broken system of government to prove it . . . a system that included all three branches of government, starting with our Supreme Court and a "ask no questions, but tell all lies" Bush GOP Executive Branch, plus their supporters in Congress, and many of these people are still hanging around trying to see that the Obama administration will fail to correct their failings. [snip]
These same people supported and sent our military and our National Guard into an illegal and treasonous invasion/occupation without proper equipment, benefits, healthcare, and are quite comfortable knowing that many of our military (those not killed or wounded) end up homeless on the streets of this country, and many without proper care are committing suicide after they come home.
To this day, due to the way they use and misuse numbers, we have no idea how many of our military are dead or wounded. How irresponsible is that? How responsible has it been these past years, to have the largest sum of the US budget for US military? And, who would believe such a country when they talked of peace after what this country has done to Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight hundred bases around the world. We are paying for those, while we have people here at home sick or dying from disease and hunger.
Socialism, if only that were the least we Americans had to fear. The real truth? That is the fear of the Bush GOP. A healthy, money clad citizenry. We have job loss, businesses closing, salaries cut, food costs up, gas up, no decent health care, a country with a decaying infrastructure . . . frankly, I don't want to hear anything coming from the mouths of the Republicans in Congress today, or from any of their supporters . . . they have lost their right to tell any of us Americans how we should feel or what we should be afraid of.
We should be afraid of any of them being reelected.
Hedge fund manager earnings remain, despite the global financial collapse, at absolutely stratospheric levels.
Not everyone in the international hedge fund industry is making millions. Not everyone in the hedge fund industry right now even has a job. Amid the worst global economic meltdown since the Great Depression, hedge funds are hemorrhaging positions. An estimated 20,000 will be gone by year's end.
But the hedge fund industry still does have something no other industry in the known universe can match: the best-paid top executives who ever lived.
"These are the highest earners," as Manhattan College financial historian Charles Geisst put it last week, "of all time."
That observation came right after Alpha, the hedge fund industry trade journal, reported that the hedge fund industry's top 25 managers added $11.6 billion to their personal fortunes in 2008, an average of $464 million each, the third-highest top 25 total since Alpha started keeping score in 2002.
How did the movers and shakers of hedge fund land work such magic? For the most part, we simply don't know. Hedge funds, as largely unregulated entities, don't have to reveal almost anything about how they go about their business.
Banks Planning To Game Geithner’s Investment Fund By Swapping Toxic Assets
Last week, reports surfaced showing that bailed-out banks Citigroup and Bank of America were actively speculating on toxic mortgages with taxpayer money, potentially gaming the public-private investment fund that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has created to clean up the banking system.
Today, Financial Times highlighted another way in which financial institutions may be hijacking Geithner’s plan. Financial behemoths Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase are actually considering participating in the fund as buyers, in order to purchase each others toxic assets. This would drive up the assets’ prices and leave taxpayers liable for any losses, while not removing the assets from the system.
It’s all about using taxpayer money to create bids that are higher than what the market currently prices those assets at. And if it turns out those bids were too high and the cash flows never materialize then, oh well, it’s the taxpayer left holding the bag.
... Why should the very firms that brought the economy to the brink be allowed to profit off of the system aimed at clearing away their mess? This stands reason on its head.
Former S&L Regulator Tells Moyers: 'Absolutely' A Banking Bailout Coverup
This Bill Moyers interview is going viral so fast, I can't even keep up with it. And for a very good reason - former S&L regulator Bill Black explains exactly why the current banking bailout is a mistake. There's so much information, you simply have to read or watch the entire thing:
WILLIAM K. BLACK: I don't know whether we've lost our capability of outrage. Or whether the cover up has been so successful that people just don't have the facts to react to it.
BILL MOYERS: Who's going to get the facts?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: We need some chairmen or chairwomen--
BILL MOYERS: In Congress.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: --in Congress, to hold the necessary hearings. And we can blast this out. But if you leave the failed CEOs in place, it isn't just that they're terrible business people, though they are. It isn't just that they lack integrity, though they do. Because they were engaged in these frauds. But they're not going to disclose the truth about the assets.
BILL MOYERS: And we have to know that, in order to know what?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: To know everything. To know who committed the frauds. Whose bonuses we should recover. How much the assets are worth. How much they should be sold for. Is the bank insolvent, such that we should resolve it in this way? It's the predicate, right? You need to know the facts to make intelligent decisions. And they're deliberately leaving in place the people that caused the problem, because they don't want the facts. And this is not new. The Reagan Administration's central priority, at all times, during the Savings and Loan crisis, was covering up the losses.
BILL MOYERS: So, you're saying that people in power, political power, and financial power, act in concert when their own behinds are in the wringer, right?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: That's right. And it's particularly a crisis that brings this out, because then the class of the banker says, "You've got to keep the information away from the public or everything will collapse. If they understand how bad it is, they'll run for the exits."
In tough times such as these, it can be comforting to slip into nostalgia and fantasy, which has got me thinking about Congress in late 1999. Lawmakers were falling all over themselves praising the passage of the landmark Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which effectively repealed much of the Glass-Steagall regulations on financial institutions coming out of The Great Depression. [snip]
"The question is, 'How will it look 50 years from now when it has gone from infancy to maturity?' Obviously, after setting out a dramatic change in public policy, it is fair to set out a test for determining its success," Gramm said. "Ultimately, the final judge of the bill is history. Ultimately, as you look at the bill, you have to ask yourself, 'Will people in the future be trying to repeal it, as we are here today trying to repeal -- and hopefully repealing -- Glass-Steagall?' I think the answer will be no. I think it will be no because we are doing something very different from Glass-Steagall. Glass-Steagall, in the midst of the Great Depression, thought government was the answer. In this period of economic growth and prosperity, we believe freedom is the answer."
Thankfully, we didn't have to wait 50 years to find out what history would say about Gramm's "dramatic change in public policy." It only took a decade for our financial industry to show the weakness of his extremist deregulation argument.
Such fine upstanding business leaders! Triple-A ratings! All sham.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: The FBI publicly warned, in September 2004 that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud, that if it was allowed to continue it would produce a crisis at least as large as the Savings and Loan debacle. And that they were going to make sure that they didn't let that happen. So what goes wrong? After 9/11, the attacks, the Justice Department transfers 500 white-collar specialists in the FBI to national terrorism. Well, we can all understand that. But then, the Bush administration refused to replace the missing 500 agents. So even today, again, as you say, this crisis is 1000 times worse, perhaps, certainly 100 times worse, than the Savings and Loan crisis. There are one-fifth as many FBI agents as worked the Savings and Loan crisis.
"'liar loans" -- loans issued without verifying income, assets or employment — were a fraud, and the banks knew it."
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Fraud is deceit. And the essence of fraud is, "I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value." And as a result, there's no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites, and that's what we have.
BILL MOYERS: In your book, you make it clear that calculated dishonesty by people in charge is at the heart of most large corporate failures and scandals, including, of course, the S&L, but is that true? Is that what you're saying here, that it was in the boardrooms and the CEO offices where this fraud began?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.
BILL MOYERS: How did they do it? What do you mean?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, the way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better. Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you're a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there's going to be a disaster down the road.
BILL MOYERS: So you're suggesting, saying that CEOs of some of these banks and mortgage firms in order to increase their own personal income, deliberately set out to make bad loans?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Yes.
BILL MOYERS: Is it possible that these complex instruments were deliberately created so swindlers could exploit them?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Oh, absolutely. This stuff, the exotic stuff that you're talking about was created out of things like liars' loans, that were known to be extraordinarily bad. And now it was getting triple-A ratings. Now a triple-A rating is supposed to mean there is zero credit risk. So you take something that not only has significant, it has crushing risk. That's why it's toxic. And you create this fiction that it has zero risk. That itself, of course, is a fraudulent exercise. And again, there was nobody looking, during the Bush years. So finally, only a year ago, we started to have a Congressional investigation of some of these rating agencies, and it's scandalous what came out. What we know now is that the rating agencies never looked at a single loan file. When they finally did look, after the markets had completely collapsed, they found, and I'm quoting Fitch, the smallest of the rating agencies, "the results were disconcerting, in that there was the appearance of fraud in nearly every file we examined."
xposted at moon's favors (where i got my comments to work -- finally -- though you have to click on the individual blog title to get to the comment box!)
The following linked article is a classic, albeit unintended view into the delusional thinking of the financial industry elite. You may not have realized this, but these poor scapegoats are the real victims in this whole economic debacle - you know, the global depression that they caused?
This article from the Guardian UK reveals that "Bankers and hedge fund managers were furious yesterday at attempts by the G20 to cap their pay and regulate them for the first time, calling it a "witch hunt" by world leaders". Oh my. Someone's got a persecution complex...
And according to a prominent London banker, "Regulation is generally bad. You should let the market decide what the people will get paid," said Matthew Prest, managing director at Close Brothers investment bank. "Sometimes regulation has the opposite effect of what you want and I think bankers' salaries regulation would fall under that category. I don't hear anybody calling for Hollywood star salary caps. This is a trendy, fashionable thing to do, it will have bad consequences." Waah!
Gee, maybe that's because Hollywood stars didn't cause the global financial crash. Or scam millions of people out of their resources, costing many their life's savings while pretending to have assets and financial products that were just make-believe. At least when actors are hired to play "let's pretend" everyone involved is aware that it's a story, and it's a job that actually helps create other jobs. Unlike the big banking puppeteers, whose greed and mismanagement has caused the loss of millions of jobs worldwide.
Yes, the no regulations thing has worked out splendidly; we can see how well the banking industry does with self-control. But look, here I am being all snarky while these unappreciated millionaires labor in the financial salt mines - damn my callousness! Bankers rage at G20 'witch hunt' against bonuses and buccaneers...
Sponsors for this bill: MONSONTO, ADM, TYSONS, GARGILL.
The real problem with engineered crops, as this column has been pointing out for several years, is that they permit the big biotech companies to place a padlock on the food chain. By patenting the genes and all the technologies associated with them, the corporations are manoeuvring themselves into a position from which they can exercise complete control over what we eat. This has devastating implications for food security in poorer countries.
This is the reason why these crops have been resisted so keenly by campaigners. The biotech companies have been experimenting with new means of overcoming their
resistance. ~George Monbiot, The Covert Biotech War
Monsanto in your face, net trolling, incognito and insidious. Corporations posing as individuals, boarding blogs, pirating, arg! :
In a surprising show of unity, world leaders at the G20 summit meeting in London have pledged $1.1 trillion in loans to help poor nations weather the crisis. They also agreed to sell IMF-held gold to poor countries.
If you have a chance over the weekend, watch this documentary to see exactly how the IMF and World Bank REALLY work.
I saw this a few years back in a sociology class I took.
Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text "A Small Place" by Jamaica Kincaid, Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact.
Well, maybe the World Bank and the IMF will "handle" things differently this time?
With a bit of bookkeeping legerdemain borrowed from the Bush administration, the Democratic Congress is about to perform a cover-up on the most serious threat to America's economic future.
The real threat is the monstrous debt resulting from the slump in revenue and the staggering sums being committed by Washington to rescuing embattled banks and homeowners -- and the absence of any serious strategy for paying it all back.
The Congressional Budget Office sketched the dimensions of the problem on March 20, and Congress reacted with shock. The CBO said that over the next 10 years, current policies would add a staggering $9.3 trillion to the national debt -- one-third more than President Obama had estimated by using much more optimistic assumptions about future economic growth.
here's McCain's response to Broder's article:
"The Democratic Congress To Perform A Cover Up On The Most Serious Threat to America’s Economic Future"
Are they talking about Peter Orszag -- the Director of the Office of Management and Budget -- (and Tobey Keith Fan and Robert Rubin protege) ?
On a long day and night, the House was first to vote, and approved its version of the budget on a 233-196 roll call that fell largely along party lines. It calls for spending of $3.6 trillion for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, and includes a deficit of $1.2 trillion.
This evening, the House passed the FY 2010 Budget Resolution (H.Con.Res. 85) by a vote of 233-196. The 2010 Budget Resolution incorporates the four key priorities of the President’s budget. It makes strategic investments in education, health care reform, and energy independence that are necessary to restore our crumbling economy and put the country in a position to remain globally competitive. It also takes the needed steps to restore fiscal sustainability by cutting the deficit by nearly two-thirds by 2013. The budget provides the fiscal blueprint that will allow Congress to debate and adopt legislation that will reach these goals, but, by its nature, the Budget Resolution does not dictate the specifics of the legislation.
The Senate acted a few hours later, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding. The vote was 55-43 for a slightly different blueprint that calls for spending $3.5 trillion and forecasts a deficit of $1.2 trillion.
Agreed to S. Con. Res. 13 as Amended; An original concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2010, revising the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal year 2009, and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2011 through 2014.
The budget plans do not require Obama's signature, but the House and Senate will have to reconcile the two versions before they can move onto the next phase of the presidential agenda.
The bill at issue, authored by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), would cap executive compensation at bailed-out financial institutions and it puts the GOP in a tough spot: after expressing outrage over the AIG bonuses, it's tough to vote against the bill.
In announcing their opposition, Republicans such as Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) took to the floor to decry the fact that the stimulus allowed the bonus payments to be made. They excoriated Democrats for not reading the full stimulus bill but said they objected to the bill on the floor that would fix the loophole that had been in the stimulus.
By a vote of 247-171, the House passed the Pay for Performance Act [H.R. 1664] this afternoon. This legislation amends the executive compensation provisions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards at companies that receive capital infusions from the Treasury. [snip]
The Republicans took the bait, and the results have not been pretty. The first draft—more a statement of principles than a budget—was widelymocked. (GOP leaders now say it was more of a "marketing document" or a "blueprint" than an actual budget.) It also allowed White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to twist the knife on prime time: "The party of 'no' has become the party of no ideas."
The second draft, released Wednesday, is substantive but does little more than reiterate familiar GOP policies. It cuts entitlement spending, extends the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, simplifies the tax system so people pay either 10 percent or 25 percent on income, and imposes a five-year spending freeze. [snip]
That takes care of the "ideas" charge. But it doesn't mean the ideas are new, or popular, or that they make sense. (The budget makes projections all the way to 2080, prompting one liberal blogger to ask why it fails to account for the invention of warp drive.) Ryan said voters voted for Obama's personality, not his policies. But if Obama's policies are guaranteed health care, funding for education, and reaching out to unfriendly countries, then polls suggest that Americans do support him.
I realize that it doesn't afford me a lot of opportunities for personal or spiritual growth. But I'm nonetheless comforted by the fact that the Republicans running things in the House GOP caucus are still as clinically insane as in years past. We see today from their House GOP 'budget' that their new-found allegiance to fiscal discipline has them lowering the top marginal tax rate to 25% (it's currently 35%, with the Bush tax cuts), which for anyone who knows anything about the federal budget would pretty much inevitably lead to gargantuan federal deficits and the Treasury exploding probably some time early in the next decade. They manage to still have the deficits coming down by [a] bunch of nonsense hokum about oil rigs and other foolery.
By their own admission, GOP crafts budget that does nothing to stimulate the economy
The alternative budget introduced today by Rep. Paul Ryan somewhat suspiciously presents numbers as a fraction of GDP without specifying exactly what the GOP projection for GDP is under their budget and how it is calculated. However, one can extrapolate the calculated GDP from the figures for net receipts in terms of dollars and fraction of GDP. The result is surprising.
Under their favored budget, House Republicans project a GDP that precisely mirrors the intentionally conservative CBO estimate for the next decade. One would presume that given that the Republican budget posits that its large corporate income tax cuts, capital gains cuts, and income tax cuts (almost all for the rich - 84% to the richest 20% of Americans) will stimulate economic growth, that they would project some improvement. [snip]
By the logic used to sell the GOP budget (comparing deficit as a % of GDP to Obama’s budget), this budget is worse than doing nothing. The GOP budget increases the deficit at the expense of cutting a huge chunk of government spending with no benefit to the broader economy over the projected time period.
It only makes sense that a party currently being wagged by fringe crazy people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Michele Bachmann would release its alternative budget on April Fools' Day.
Not only does the Republican plan freeze discretionary spending for five years in the midst of a recession which, by most accounts and proved by history, will countermand any sort of economic recovery, but it also cuts taxes by 10 percent for the same Wall Street executives whose actions largely got us into this economic mess in the first place. In other words: Congratulations, Republicans, you just released a budget that rewards wealthy corporate executives while blocking any attempt to dig us out of the economic catastrophe they created.
The only bit of Republican legislation that'd be more ridiculous would be if Michele Bachmann were to introduce a constitutional amendment thwarting a fake plot to eliminate the dollar as the form of currency in the United States.
The marquee item, however, in the Republican plan is their inexplicably regressive tax cut for the super rich. Wealthy Americans in the top three tax brackets would see their tax burden cut to a flat 25 percent from previous rates of 35, 33 and 28. According to the Center for American Progress, CEOs from any of the top 800 corporations would receive a tax break of around $1.5 million a year. Meanwhile, if you earn $15,000 a year, your tax break will be around $0 a year. [snip]
Now you might be asking, given that the Republicans are all about fiscal responsibility, how much does this Republican tax cut for the wealthiest three brackets actually cost? Some estimates, according to Steve Benen, project upwards of a $4 trillion price tag. At the very least, according to their own projections, the Republican plan would run up a $500 billion annual budget deficit through at least 2080. Again, the Republican grasp of fiscal responsibility is about as firm as their grasp of reality and sanity. The subtext here being: The trillion dollar Bush tax cuts weren't irresponsible enough. Let's go crazy! WOOO!
And by the way, those are annual deficits that factor into the mix a completely insane five year freeze on discretionary spending -- a freeze that would surely plunge the American economy into a deep depression. To that point, the Republican plan doesn't account for such an economic catastrophe, and therefore doesn't factor such an inevitable consequence into their revenue and deficit projects.
All told, imagine if you will the Monopoly man running up and shoving you into a deep precipice. The Republican plan not only gives that Monopoly man a $1.5 million check for his trouble, but it also cuts the rope you were using to climb out of the hole -- provided you actually survived the fall in the first place.
Speaking of holes, did you see the graph Paul Ryan clearly yanked out of his? [snip]
It's insane. Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections only extend out to 2019. Yet the Republican chart somehow extends out to 2080. The steep upwards slope of the Democratic budget begins at around 2030 -- 11 years after the furthest CBO projections stop.
What does this mean? For starters the claim on the chart: "Out-years based on CBO's Long-Term Alternative Fiscal Scenario" is a lie. And the text: "Source: House Budget Committee Republican Staff" might as well say: "Source: Paul Ryan's Ass." In other words, that steep upwards slope is entirely made up.
Yippee! We're back! As if the Wraith doesn't have anything better to do than to chase down ghosts in the machine. And now for the post I was working on when the system went down.
Have you ever noticed that no matter how much we interfere in other country's dealings that within a short amount of time they revert to their old ways? We went to war with Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban and to capture Osama bin Laden. Seven years later and the Taliban are back in power and threatening us without impunity. And that crap about improving the lives of women? It was just that. Crap. Afghanistan's freely elected President, Hamid Karzai, rushed a bill through Parliament whose only goal was to keep him in office until they have their next election. Most world leaders wouldn't put pen to paper and legalise the rape of women, restrict their access to courts, and approve child marriage in this day and age but that didn't stop Mr. Karzai. Oh no, he rushed the bill through without it being read out loud or debated by the Parliament. And we keep supporting this guy. You know it's bad when Saddam Hussein had more respect for women.
For a country that revolves around its citizens buying things we aren't going to last very long if a majority of the people are unemployed and stuck in places that don't have enough jobs for the amount of people who would like one and therefore can't afford to buy anything. If people can't afford housing, food or clothes, how can they afford a new car or a refrigerator for the house they no longer have? The recovery needs to start at the bottom, the top has had help for years and look at the mess they made. Not that they're suffering. Yet.
This is my issue with working for a corporate employer. They require that you be at work at a certain time, eat and sleep at a certain time, dress a certain way, behave according to their rules and that if you break them, you can be dismissed. For complying they promise to pay you a certain wage on a predetermined schedule and years ago they offered benefits such as a steady job, health insurance, vacation and sick pay and a pension after committing a large percentage of your life to the company.
In the eighties they started spending company money to move production to another country to save costs and increase profits. When they figured out that the people they laid off could no longer afford their products they didn't discipline the people who had exhibited faulty judgment by eliminating the consumer base, they laid off more people in the States and moved production to even poorer countries where they wouldn't have to pay benefits or worry about workplace conditions and could still give the almighty shareholders their precious dividends and executives received bonuses. Then they set about systematically dismantling the pension and health insurance for the people who had already fulfilled their end of the bargain and worked faithfully for them for years by claiming that they couldn't afford to keep the deals they made with the employees. And then the Bush administration shifted large sums of money from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to the already unstable stock market. End result? The elderly will eat dog food and ketchup or die of starvation or they can hang on until winter when they can freeze to death. The middle aged live in their cars and earn just enough to eat a mini meal at Mickey D's once a day and the youth wander the streets aimlessly with no hope for the future and see crime as their only way of getting ahead. I know I'm a cynic but what's next? Lining the homeless up against a wall and shooting them so the rich aren't offended by all those lazy people?
At one time we were the greatest country in the world and now all we have is faded glory. The rich don't notice, they are too busy vacationing or buying homes in other countries while ensuring that they pay less and less to the country that made it possible for them to be a success. Heck, they even adopt kids from poor countries while forgetting about the ones in the land of their birth. The sad part is that those who aren't rich don't mind getting help to cut their own throat because they no longer have the skills to think critically, question authority before it goes too far and are willing to be spoon fed economic pablum by the pundits instead of looking at their own circumstances and seeing how screwed they are.
We may not be watching Rollerball but American Idol, Survivor and Dancing With The Stars make a nice substitute, don't they?