Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Mashup (6/29/09)

(This turned out to be long - and I also posted here.)

  • Over at The Hill, there’s a whole raft of Repug propaganda about the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act (HR 2454), which passed the House by a 219-212 vote last Friday. It has been called “an energy tax that will hurt Americans” (Rep. Dean Heller), “not serious” (Rep. Brian Bilbray), “more taxes for Texas” (Rep. John Culberson), a “national energy tax that will strain families’ budgets” (Rep. John Kline – and he cites data from The Heritage Foundation; who would know better about “working families,” right?), and here, the House Repug leader, none other than “Man Tan” Boehner, called the bill “a pile of shit” (uh oh, time for another blogger ethics panel).

    Well, it should be noted that there were actual Republicans who acted like actual grownups and supported HR 2454, and one of them was Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey (pictured), who tells us the following from here…

    The ‘American Clean Energy and Security Act’ is the opportunity to break the cycle of inaction and finally move our nation towards real energy independence.

    This is by no means a perfect bill but, for New Jersey businesses and families, many of the federal standards that will be created are mirroring state standards long on the books. For the past decade, New Jersey has been forward-looking in its energy policy and sought to establish diverse, renewable alternative sources of energy to meet the state’s needs. From the development of biofuels based on crop waste and planning for additional nuclear reactors, to building small and large-scale wind farms and countless solar panel projects, individuals and municipalities recognized opportunities and took action.

    In the process, new local businesses were founded and jobs were created in the emerging ‘green industry’ here in New Jersey. What must happen next is the growth of domestic manufacturing of the materials needed for alternative energy production, such as solar cells, wind turbines and environmentally-friendly buildings. This legislation rightly focuses on growing that manufacturing base, creating green jobs and finally establishing our energy independence. The positive effects will be felt nationally and here in South Jersey. These are objectives I have long believed and advocated for as part of a national energy policy.
    I have disagreed with LoBiondo (as well as Mike Castle and especially Chris Smith), and I will again, but for now, thanks to the three of them for doing the right thing.

  • I recently had the opportunity to read Jane Mayer’s fine article on Leon Panetta taking over at the CIA, when I came across this excerpt…

    Panetta, the son of Italian immigrants, grew up washing dishes in his parents’ restaurant. He is disarmingly forthright, with an easy laugh; he is also a stern disciplinarian and a workaholic. Colleagues say that Panetta, who attends Mass regularly, can be principled to the point of rigidity. It was partly Panetta’s rectitude that got him the C.I.A. job. During the Bush years, he decried the country’s loss of moral authority; in a blunt essay for Washington Monthly last year, he declared that Americans had been transformed “from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers.” He concluded, “We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don’t. There is no middle ground.”

    Panetta’s impassioned essay unexpectedly became an asset during the Obama transition, after John Brennan—the initial candidate for C.I.A. director—was pressured to withdraw. Critics accused Brennan, who had been a top agency official during the Bush years, of complicity with the torture program. (A friend of Brennan’s from his C.I.A. days complained to me, “After a few Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs voiced objections to Brennan, the Obama Administration pulled his name at the first sign of smoke, and then ruled out a whole class of people: anyone who had been at the agency during the past ten years couldn’t pass the blogger test.”)
    Well, you can just add this latest bit of ridicule to this collection from Glenn Greenwald, as well as this, in which David Simon, former Baltimore reporter and creator of HBO's The Wire, tells us that the state of the news biz is one in which "the parasite is killing the host" (not too hard to figure that one out).

    Oh, and by the way, Mayer (pictured) tells us that, despite this, Brennan eventually became “a senior official on the National Security Council.” We also learn the following…

    Brennan’s supporters have argued that he had no operational control over the interrogation program, and point out that his tenure as Tenet’s chief of staff ended in March, 2001, before the Al Qaeda attacks. But he was subsequently named deputy executive director, and served in that position until March, 2003—the period when the most brutal detainee treatment occurred. In addition, Brennan often briefed President Bush about daily developments in the war on terror. Brennan has described himself as an internal critic of waterboarding—a position that friends, such as Emile Nakhleh, a former senior officer, confirm. Yet, in an interview with me two years ago, Brennan defended the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques and extraordinary renditions, in which the C.I.A. abducted terror suspects around the globe and transported them to other countries to be jailed and interrogated; many of those countries had execrable human-rights records. He also questioned some people’s definition of “torture.” “I think it’s torture when I have to ride in the car with my kids and they have loud rap music on,” he said. Asked if “enhanced” interrogation techniques were necessary to keep America safe, he replied, “Would the U.S. be handicapped if the C.I.A. was not, in fact, able to carry out these types of detention and debriefing activities? I would say yes.”
    Gee, Mr. Brennan, if we water boarded you half as many times as say, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would you consider THAT torture too?

    But just remember, the outcry over Brennan is only because of “Cheeto-eating people in the basement working in their underwear who write blogs,” and not because we’re talking about a person who equates brutal interrogation techniques with listening to his kids’ too-loud music in the car.

    There’s all kinds of great stuff in Mayer’s story, also including the following…

    In April, Panetta fired all the C.I.A.’s contract interrogators, including the former military psychologists who appear to have designed the most brutal interrogation techniques: James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. The two men, who ran a consulting company, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, had recommended that interrogators apply to detainees theories of “learned helplessness” that were based on experiments with abused dogs.
    All done by Bushco in our name, people.

  • And during my little tour of pundit land, I happened to come across this item from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm, in which he alleges that the nomination of Mignon Clyburn for FCC commissioner (daughter of Dem House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina) is a “quid pro quo” for Mr. Clyburn’s support during last year’s presidential campaign.

    Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. But I think it’s important to note the following (from here)…

    (Mignon) Clyburn is a South Carolina public service commissioner…(and) she is currently the chair of the Washington Action Committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).
    So at least she has already served as a public service commissioner.

    Now, let’s compare the Mignon Clyburn nomination to some ACTUAL nepotism, Dubya style, in the case of Julie Myers (here)…

    Myers has been a controversial figure since the day that President Bush nominated her. She was widely criticized as being a crony hire, being the daughter of former Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and possessing almost no immigration or customs experience. During her tenure, ICE was heavily criticized for carrying out politically-motivated immigration raids.

    Myers’s resignation comes just days after a “federal law enforcement official” told the AP that Barack Obama’s aunt was living in the United States illegally. ICE officials, however, are “prohibited from commenting on any individual’s status or the status of any case.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has called for an immediate investigation into the matter. On Saturday, Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone questioned whether Myers may have been the source of the unauthorized leak.
    And as Think Progress also notes, Myers was involved in that untidy little incident where she was photographed with an ICE employee in blackface.

    Now, Malcolm, do you still want to talk about nepotism?

  • Charlie Savage of the New York Times has been reviewing about 150 hours of recently-released recordings from the Nixon White House covering January and February of 1973, as noted here. Some of what we find out is that Nixon encouraged abortions for “black and white” babies, and we also hear his ruminations on Jews and attractive Republican women (ugh).

    Also, The Sainted Ronnie R thought getting rid of special prosecutor Archibald Cox (in tandem with the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus) was just fine, which makes sense when you realize that he later would reward the solicitor general who made it happen with a Supreme Court nomination, and I’m talking about Robert Bork, of course.

    But we also learn the following in a discussion between Nixon, his Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, and secretary Rose Mary Woods (this is set up by a discussion of whether or not Harry Truman was a good president for firing Douglas MacArthur, who wanted to cross the Yalu River into China during the Korean War – I think Truman did the right thing, personally)…

    NIXON: In America, you can — even when the president is wrong, you cannot have disloyalty. ...

    HALDEMAN: And before it’s decided they should tell you what they think. After it’s decided they’ve got to be on your side.

    NIXON: Well, they ought to come in and try to buck you up a little. Say good point.

    WOODS: I wish we could try some of our senators and congressman for treason.

    NIXON: Don’t worry about that.

    WOODS: I really do. Some day we’ll write them up —

    NIXON: The story will be told, Rose, sooner than you think.
    Wow, Rose Mary Woods had a trace of Madame Defarge, people. Color me shocked!

    Yes, I knew that she was “fiercely loyal” to Tricky Dick, but I just never figured her for a co-conspirator to all of the machinations of the Nixon White House (in spirit anyway, if not in actual practice).

    Just thought I’d share that one, that’s all.

  • And finally, I journeyed online to the Bucks County Courier Times site, only to find that they’re taking note of the number of words in constituent replies from Patrick Murphy’s office (here) - wow, hard-hitting stuff!

    And I also came across the following from J.D. Mullane’s blog (once again, real rough going there, people)…

    I thought we weren't going to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. Maybe if the Honduran military had shot innocents on the streets, Barack Obama would have laid off the meddling.
    See, Bucks County, PA’s journalistic mistake alleges that Obama is at fault for not preventing the ouster of the president of Honduras (Manuel Zelaya), even though we apparently knew it was coming.

    But for background purposes, I think it’s important to note the following (from here)…

    Tanks rolled into the Honduran capital city of Tegucigalpa today and soldiers seized the national palace, just hours before the country was to hold a constitutional referendum.

    Zelaya had orchestrated the vote in hopes of changing the law to allow him to stand for re-election, which is prevented by term limits in Honduras.

    The country's supreme court had ruled the referendum illegal and congress -- as well as Zelaya's own political party members -- had opposed it. But Zelaya had pushed forward despite widespread opposition.

    Zelaya is a close ally of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has become a unifying force for strong, leftist political movements in Latin America.

    Roger Noriega, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, said Zelaya underminded his own government's institutions and now those institutions aren't there to protect him.

    "No one should applaud an illegal interruption of power. I don't think coups are good for institutions in the Americas and you need institutions to have stability and justice in these countries. Having said that, Zelaya was attacking these institutions," Noriega said. "The lesson I think we should get from this is that these populist strongmen really need to play by the rules."

    Local media reports say that Zelaya, who the Honduran military had flown to Costa Rica, is now making his way to Nicaragua where he's expected to meet with OAS officials later in the week.
    So now, we are in a position where we must work “behind the scenes” in an effort to help Zelaya return to power in some legitimate fashion (and in the meantime, make it plain to him that he does not have the authority to disobey the courts of his own country).

    And all of this is Obama’s fault as far as J.D. is concerned.

    Well then, let’s “compare and contrast” with how Obama’s predecessor chose to intervene in that hemisphere and take a look at the results (here)…

    The effort to engage Mr. Zelaya differed from Washington’s initial response to Venezuela’s brief coup in April 2002, when the Bush administration blamed Mr. Chávez for his own downfall and denied knowing about the planning of the coup, despite the revelation later that the Central Intelligence Agency knew developments about the plot in Caracas on the eve of its execution.

    After his return to power following the 48-hour coup, Mr. Chávez demonized the Bush administration, and the ties that frayed with the United States are only now being repaired in part by the decision last week by Washington and Caracas to return ambassadors to embassies from which they had been expelled.
    So, as he did in Iran, President Obama has chosen to follow the rule of law and let natural events play out within a sovereign nation (with a diplomatic assist), as opposed to interfering and thus consolidating anti-American support.

    When it comes to “meddling,” your hero Dubya was a pro, J.D., as opposed to that “piker” Obama, wouldn’t you say?
  • No comments: