Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Stuff

Thanks to Marine Corporal Rick Reyes for his service and his courageous testimony on Afghanistan; his words are put along side those of a "soldier of discontent" from another era who was no less patriotic...

...and you can always count on Dave for some good tunes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Stuff

Aww, bad luck there on NY-20, Chairman Steele (h/t The Daily Kos - tee hee hee)...

...and the news kind of makes me want to put this up once more (hat tip again to Jack and Jill Politics)...

..."Worst Persons" (Bill Orally alleges some kind of corporate media conspiracy to inflate GE's profits, they being the parent company of NBC, MSNBC and other stuff, which is funny enough, except for the fact that the claim sounds a lot like the very means Rupert Murdoch - aarrgghh...shiver me timbers!!! - used to build his dark media empire at Fix Noise; Michele Bachmann tries to give us a science lesson on global warming, and hilarity ensues; but Debbie Marko of CCRT Properties takes it for suing the mother of Colin Byar for Byar's breaking of his lease - the reason Marko is going after Byar's mother is because her son was killed when he came to the aid of several women being harassed outside a bar - yep, this move by Marko is one of the scummiest I've heard in awhile also)...

...and it looks like a great weekend coming up in these parts, so enjoy.

Friday Mashup (4/24/09)

Yep, here comes another “grab bag” post because it’s a bright, sunny Friday and I don’t feel like doing a lot of writing (though I did manage to post here).

  • Part of the story involving Dem U.S. House Rep (and head of the House Intelligence Committee) Jane Harman of California, as noted here, is whether or not she leaned on wealthy AIPAC supporters to have them lobby Nancy Pelosi to reappoint Harman as head of the Intel committee, with Harman, in return, requesting that the DOJ go easy on Steve Rosen and Ken Weissman, two former AIPAC staffers implicated in the indictment of Larry Franklin, a former employee of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans accused of passing to AIPAC Bushco’s plans on Iran.

    Well, whenever I hear about Rosen and Weissman, I find myself asking the question I used to title this post. And I wonder what it’s going to take to make Rice put her hand on the Bible in this case and come clean once and for all.

  • I know Chris Christie is the Repug “flavor of the month” in New Jersey, currently leading incumbent Dem governor Jon Corzine in polling data, as noted here.

    And the Weekly Standard post also tells us (and don’t worry, I know where these cretins are coming from)…

    The latest issue in the race is the New Jersey ACLU's attack on Christie for authorizing tracking people through their cell-phones without a warrant. The practice, which is legal, began in the aftermath of 9/11, months before Christie became U.S. Attorney for New Jersey in January 2002. Documents reveal that the U.S. Attorney's office submitted 79 successful applications for tracking the cellphone info. Sixty-six resulted in criminal prosecution.
    Any word on any convictions?

    And Blue Jersey tells us the following here (with different numbers), on the matter of what Christie himself has to say about this…

    "There was no action of the U.S. Attorney's Office that was done without the consultation and approval of the court," Christie said Thursday. "Any suggestion to the contrary is ill-informed."
    And Blue Jersey replies…

    That's some good tapdancing. But if you look carefully, Christie appears to acknowledge he didn't always get a warrant. And it's a warrant he was supposed to get, nothing less. Here's the difference:

    The less rigorous standard of obtaining a court order rather than a warrant was used in 98 New Jersey cases since Sept. 11, 2001, resulting in 83 prosecutions, according to the documents. Two other New Jersey cases remain under seal.

    Here's the bottom line. Chris Christie authorized the warrantless monitoring of cell phones in almost 100 cases. Knowing he did not have a warrant, he chose to follow the Bush administration's lead to monitor and track New Jersey citizens. And now, he doesn't want to answer questions about it (another quality he learned at the knee of his Bush/Cheney mentors). Both the wireless monitoring and the refusal to discuss his possibly illegal actions to the voters are unacceptable. Chris Christie has some serious explaining to do.
    Well, he’s not doing much talking because of the suit, with the ACLU’s Catherine Crump echoing Blue Jersey as follows (from here)…

    Tracking the location of people's cell phones reveals intimate details of their daily routines and is highly invasive of their privacy. The government is violating the Constitution when it fails to get a search warrant before tracking people this way.
    But this shouldn’t be surprising coming from Christie, who, as noted here, filed a nuisance lawsuit against Jersey Dem U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in the waning days of his hotly contested 2006 election against Baby Kean, and also made sure that Essex County executive James Treffinger, a popular Republican, spent six hours in wrist and leg shackles for no good reason other than to serve as punishment for a remark about Christie’s “hulking frame.”

    The Repug gubernatorial contender may be physically imposing, I’ll grant you, but all of this proves that, despite his prosecutorial success, he’s a moral lightweight (and as you can see from the pic, he keeps questionable company too).

  • Update 1 5/12/09: Yep, sooner or later, Christie will have to come clean on how he set up Ass-Croft with that cushy $28-$52 M gig, in return for the former AG's decision not to prosecute Christie's brother (here).

    Update 2 5/19/09: Soo...given the chance, Christie would "govern" like Perry, Palin and Sanford, huh (based on this)? Nice...

  • Oh, and one more thing – last Wednesday marked the ninth anniversary of the raid on the house of Lazaro Gonzalez, the paternal great-uncle of Elian Gonzalez, the little boy who was taken by federal authorities in compliance with an order from Attorney General Janet Reno. Four hours afterwards, Elian was reunited with his father at Andrews Air Force Base before they returned to Cuba.

    I guess I should say a couple of things up front: 1) I wish to God I could prove that the photo above was doctored, but I can’t, and 2) The issue in this case was, for me, reuniting the boy with his father, and not one other damn thing mattered.

    Also, it should be noted that the Gonzalez story continues to cast a long shadow; it yielded this utterly stupid moment of pundit wankery during the presidential campaign last year (uh, wrong again).
  • Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Thursday Stuff

    As I watched this, I found myself wondering why those who scream the loudest that waterboarding supposedly isn't torture are the ones also making the most noise about releasing any information about how we used that tactic and others (under the euphemism of "enhanced interrogation techniques") on those "enemy combatants" on the "global war on terror" (yes, I know the answer, but I'm keen to wonder why all the same - ya' think those yelling have more than a little to hide here?)...

    Update 4/24/09: If you wish to subject yourself to today’s nonsense from Christine Flowers on this (here), I would only ask that you read Glenn Greenwald’s response, not to her, but to wingnuts in general (here – h/t Atrios).

    ...and I have to admit that I never expected a moment of clarity, if you will, from John Boehner, of all people, on this subject, but there you are (have fun trying to spin your way out of this one, Rep. Man Tan)...

    ...and I think "holy mackerel" is a kind way for Rachel Maddow to describe this story of the deterioration of Pakistan here in her interview with NBC correspondent Richard Engel - "holy fracking crap" works for me... let's try to rock the blues away, people (h/t The Daily Kos).

    A “Re-Pete” Of Winger Torture Fiction

    Leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to jump to the defense of the deposed Bushco regime now that the Obama Administration has released details of the “enhanced interrogations” that took place during their predecessor’s watch, with House Repug Pete Hoekstra of Michigan “doing the honors” here…

    Reactions to this former CIA program, which was used against senior al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003, are demonstrating how little President Barack Obama and some Democratic members of Congress understand the dire threats to our nation.
    Nothing like a little “red meat” for the faithful (give me a break)…

    Last week, (Director of National Intelligence Dennis) Blair made a similar statement (about “enhanced interrogations” allegedly saving lives) in an internal memo to his staff when he wrote that "[h]igh value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa'ida organization that was attacking this country."
    Nice of Hoekstra to “clip” Blair’s quote here; according to this New York Times story by Sheryl Gay Stolberg yesterday, Blair also said…

    “We do not need these techniques to keep America safe,” said Mr. Blair, who added: “The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us, and they are not essential to our national security.”
    Hoekstra continues…

    Yet last week Mr. Obama overruled the advice of his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and four prior CIA directors by releasing the details of the enhanced interrogation program.
    The “four prior CIA directors” were part of Bushco, by the way. What else do you expect?

    And regarding Panetta, Hoesktra is basically right, but the following should be noted from here…

    On March 18, the Justice Department told CIA Director Leon Panetta — as he was leaving for a foreign trip — that it would be recommending that the White House release the memos almost completely uncensored, officials said.

    Panetta told Attorney General Eric Holder and officials in the White House that the administration needed to discuss the possibility that the memos' release might expose CIA officers to lawsuits on allegations of torture and abuse. Panetta also pushed for more censorship of the memos, officials said.

    The Justice Department also informed other senior CIA leaders of the decision to release the memos, and, as a courtesy, told former agency directors.

    Inside the White House, according to aides, Obama expressed concerns that releasing the memos could threaten ongoing intelligence operations as well as American officials. He also echoed the CIA chiefs' worries about U.S. relationships with always-skittish foreign intelligence services.

    The Justice Department argued that the ACLU lawsuit would in the end force the administration to release the documents anyway, officials said.

    Obama eventually agreed. The administration decided it would be better to make the release voluntarily, so as to not be seen as being forced to do so, the officials said.
    Hoekstra continues…

    Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.
    Since Blair did not serve as DNI under Bushco, I don’t know how he could be expected to provide such a list. Also, while I believe there’s more than a little bit of “fudging” going on between Congress and our intelligence services here on the question of who was told what and when, I think the following is noteworthy from this exhaustive column by Jason Leopold...

    In an interview with Newsweek last month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who now chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and has launched a “review” and “study” of the CIA’s interrogation methods, said, “I now know we were not fully and completely briefed on the CIA program.”

    Feinstein was reacting to a secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that was leaked, which described, in shocking detail, the techniques used to interrogate 14 “high-value” detainees.

    To cast further doubt on (former DNI Michael) Hayden’s claims (that Congress was briefed on the “enhanced interrogations”), Congress should speak to Mary O. McCarthy, a former deputy inspector general at the CIA.

    Three years ago, McCarthy said senior agency officials lied to members of Congress during an intelligence briefing in 2005 when they said the agency did not violate treaties that bar, cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of detainees during interrogations, according to a May 14, 2006, front-page story in The Washington Post.

    "A CIA employee of two decades, McCarthy became convinced that 'CIA people had lied' in that briefing, as one of her friends said later, not only because the agency had conducted abusive interrogations but also because its policies authorized treatment that she considered cruel, inhumane or degrading," The Washington Post reported.

    "In addition to CIA misrepresentations at the session last summer, McCarthy told the friends, a senior agency official failed to provide a full account of the CIA's detainee-treatment policy at a closed hearing of the House intelligence committee in February 2005, under questioning by Rep. Jane Harman (California), the senior Democrat," The Washington Post reported. "McCarthy also told others she was offended that the CIA's general counsel had worked to secure a secret Justice Department opinion in 2004 authorizing the agency's creation of "ghost detainees" - prisoners removed from Iraq for secret interrogations without notice to the International Committee of the Red Cross - because the Geneva Conventions prohibit such practices."

    In 2004, McCarthy was tapped by the CIA's Inspector General John Helgerson to assist him with internal investigations about the agency’s interrogation methods.

    "In his report, Mr. Helgerson...raised concern about whether the use of the techniques could expose agency officers to legal liability," according to a November 9, 2005 story in The New York Times published the same month the (torture) tapes were destroyed. "They said the report expressed skepticism about the Bush administration view that any ban on cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment under the treaty does not apply to CIA interrogations because they take place overseas on people who are not citizens of the United States."

    "The officials who described the report said it discussed particular techniques used by the CIA against particular prisoners, including about three dozen terror suspects being held by the agency in secret locations around the world," The New York Times reported.

    New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer wrote in her book, The Dark Side, that it is believed that the torture tapes were destroyed two years after Harman wrote her letter advising against it because Democratic members of Congress who were briefed about the tapes began asking questions about whether the interrogations were illegal

    "Further rattling the CIA was a request in May 2005 from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to see over a hundred documents referred to in the earlier Inspector General's report on detention inside the black prison sites," Mayer wrote in her book. "Among the items Rockefeller specifically sought was a legal analysis of the CIA's interrogation videotapes.

    "Rockefeller wanted to know if the intelligence agency's top lawyer believed that the waterboarding of [alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu] Zubaydah and [alleged 9/11 mastermind] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as captured on the secret videotapes, was entirely legal. The CIA refused to provide the requested documents to Rockefeller.

    "But the Democratic senator's mention of the videotapes undoubtedly sent a shiver through the Agency, as did a second request he made for these documents to [former CIA Director Porter] Goss in September 2005."
    Aside from all that, though, I should note that I actually agree with Hoekstra; everybody from Bushco should testify under oath before Congress (with no shot whatsoever at immunity).

    Hoekstra continues…

    Any investigation must include this information (concerning torture) as part of a review of those in Congress and the Bush administration who reviewed and supported this program. To get a complete picture of the enhanced interrogation program, a fair investigation will also require that the Obama administration release the memos requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney on the successes of this program.

    An honest and thorough review of the enhanced interrogation program must also assess the likely damage done to U.S. national security by Mr. Obama's decision to release the memos over the objections of Mr. Panetta and four of his predecessors. Such a review should assess what this decision communicated to our enemies, and also whether it will discourage intelligence professionals from offering their frank opinions in sensitive counterterrorist cases for fear that they will be prosecuted by a future administration.
    Meeting any or all of the preconditions I highlighted above from Hoekstra would surely turn the investigation he seeks into the “show trial” that he decries.

    And finally…

    Perhaps we need an investigation not of the enhanced interrogation program, but of what the Obama administration may be doing to endanger the security our nation has enjoyed because of interrogations and other antiterrorism measures implemented since Sept. 12, 2001.
    This is the typical partisan garbage you would expect from a guy who claimed here last May with Former Senator Man-On-Dog that we finally found Iraq’s WMD, even though the Iraq Study Group said all such weapons had been destroyed in ’91 (I know Santorum is at it again today, but I have neither the time nor the desire – when he appears, the Inky isn’t just financially bankrupt, but intellectually and morally as well).

    And let’s not forget this episode from just about a year ago, in which Hoekstra refused to “carry the water” for Bushco on the question of a supposed nuke deal with North Korea, expressing his frustration with the “administration” and its failure to notify him for seven months on the matter.

    Oh, and remember how Hoekstra, in a particularly grotesque episode of “sock puppetry,” fed lies to Time’s Joe Klein in November 2007 here which Klein printed practically verbatim, where Hoekstra claimed that the House Democrats' version of the FISA bill (the RESTORE Act co-sponsored by the great Rush Holt of New Jersey…of course, the Dems as a party caved on FISA outright last summer) required warrants for every foreign terrorist's call and that the bill thus gave the same rights to foreign Terrorists as American citizens?

    Finally, Hoesktra claims in the Journal today that our nation has been secure “since Sept. 12, 2001.”

    I’ve asked this question many times before, and I’m sure I’ll ask it many more times (based on this); is Rush Holt the only member of our government WHO REMEMBERS THE DAMN ANTHRAX ATTACKS??!!

    Update: Sick bastards, the whole sorry lot of them (at Fix Noise here for sure, and elsewhere)...

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    Let us now pause and recall a certain R. Nixon who shed his mortal coil 15 years ago today - my own personal memory is getting called into work for half a day even though the market was closed for the observance, and we all gathered and went to Rafters in West Chester for a "liquid lunch" before going home; the damn place burned down a couple of months later.

    Yes, we all know what he did and we all know what he was. However, imagine a Republican Party today acting in accordance with a fraction of the grace and humility Nixon showed in this speech...

    ...Fmr. Brigadier Gen. Janis Karpinsi talks to K.O. about who approved torture under Bushco, making an impassioned appeal for the people formerly in her charge (sounds like, "game, set and match" to me; I know I was tough on England and Graner, and rightly so, but that's only more reason why "the usual suspects" should rot in jail also - great idea for international representatives looking into this, by the way)...

    ...however, short of that...

    ...and oh yeah, time to rock harder.

    Wednesday Mashup (4/22/09)

    (And I also posted here.)

  • I thought this was a nice post from Bill in Portland, Maine at The Daily Kos concerning Earth Day, particularly the following (in the category of "things he's never seen" - meant to emphasize that)…

    A bison throw a cigarette butt out a car window
    A flock of geese rip the top off a mountain
    A seal cause an oil spill
    A hippo drive a Hummer off a dealer's lot
    A lemur leave the faucet dripping
    A raccoon go out for the evening and leave all the lights in the house on
    A bobcat fight legislation to lower smokestack emissions
    A songbird sing "Drill Baby, Drill"
    A panda dump raw sewage into a river
    A pride of lions so dependent on oil that they're willing to wage war over it
    A slug (the real kind, not the George Will kind) claim that our biggest worry is global cooling
    A gorilla fail to keep its tires properly inflated
    A salmon pollute a stream with mercury
    An elephant claim that his God says it's okay to pillage the world's natural resources willy-nilly because pachyderms are the "chosen ones"
    A lizard mock public transportation
    A penguin claim that the melting polar ice caps are no big deal
    A crocodile think up new ways to go overboard on plastic packaging for portable electronics
    A Yangtze River dolphin (doesn't) do much of anything lately
    I would only add that I’ve never seen a polar bear learn to surf because Repug House Rep Joe Barton of Texas said that humans should “get shade” in response to global warming (here).

  • I never expected that I would give Dem U.S. House Rep Rob Andrews of New Jersey credit for much of anything given his failed primary challenge to Frank Lautenberg last year, but I have to give him kudos for offering to help Philadelphia Newspapers as they investigate alleged illegal taping of phone calls by institutions lending them money (as E&P tells us here, “Philadelphia Media Holdings Chief Brian Tierney express(ed) his dismay that senior lenders to the company allegedly taped calls to executives without their knowledge.”)

    Maybe this is nothing more than craven political opportunism, but for whatever reason, Andrews is doing the right thing, particularly commendable since the paper was hard on him (justly so) for flip-flopping on the question of whether or not Andrews would give up his house seat to “primary” Lautenberg (he claimed he would, but he later reneged and was re-elected).

  • Also, I really don’t have anything to add here, but I just want to publicize this story of Chinese tire dumping into this country and the subsequent loss of jobs; good for the USW for standing up…

    Leo W. Gerard, USW international president, declared: “American workers are struggling to make it through the worst economic crisis in 80 years. Our tire industry is collapsing under the weight of 46 million Chinese tires entering our shrinking market annually.”

    He said, “We are aggressively using America’s trade remedy laws to help workers and their employers combat an import surge from a country not playing by the rules. Section 421 is a tool to redress Chinese import surges that gets us through the current economic crisis and preserves a part of America’s industrial base.”

    The petition filed by the USW on behalf of its members employed in the U.S. tire industry was made under Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974. Documents submitted in the case show a huge surge of passenger car and light truck tire imports from China during 2004-08.

    The USW represents about 15,000 tire workers employed at 13 plants in nine states, which accounts for nearly half of the industry’s production capacity in 2008. The domestic tire industry consists of ten producers with 27 plants in 15 states.

    The consumer tire-producing states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
    Thanks once more to our “friends” in China, where the motto is “be happy – or else we’ll liquidate our debt holdings in your currency and watch your economy tank once and for all” (another testimony to the eternal stupidity of our politicians that allowed this circumstance to evolve over time).

  • Also (again), concerning this story of Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao complaining about the eventual closure of Guantanamo (another case of somebody being “late to the party” when it comes to fulfilling a promise Obama made during the campaign), the AP account by Andrew O. Selsky provides the point of view of a group called Military Families United, which opposes the closure and also opposed the release of Binyam Mohammed (more here, and a related post is here).

    I realize that this group has every right to advocate as it sees fit, but I guess it would have been too much trouble for Selsky to reference a story like this one, which states as follows (from last December)…

    Two dozen family members of Sept. 11 victims signed a letter Wednesday saying they don't believe in the fairness of the military trials of five men charged with orchestrating the terrorist attacks, and some suggested their opinions cost them attendance at the proceedings.

    While the family members who attended this week's proceedings at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba expressed support for the tribunals, they also said "that many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve," according to the letter released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Robin Theurkauf, whose husband was killed at the World Trade Center, said she wanted to attend the proceedings but was denied a spot in a lottery for family members.

    "I testified for the defense in the (Zacarias) Moussaoui trial," Theurkauf said, referring to the convicted Sept. 11 conspirator. "I think I was skipped over because of that."
    This is the only polling data I’ve been able to find on closing Guantanamo, by the way; not too surprising that it is supported by a majority of Dems but opposed by a majority of Repugs, and McConnell wouldn’t be who he is if he didn’t know how to exploit that difference with “oooga booga!” scare tactics, conjuring images of terrorists transferred from GITMO to the mainland where they can wreak alleged untold havoc. It just means that Obama are AG Eric Holder are going to have to work harder making their case for what to do with these people after the facility closes.

  • I had to admit that I got a kick out of this story…

    As (Secretary of State Hillary) Clinton made her first appearance before Congress as the nation's top diplomat, California Republican Dana Rohrbacher asked if the administration planned to heed Cheney's call to release documents showing information gained as a result of the Bush administration's aggressive interrogation techniques.

    "Well, it won't surprise you that I don't consider him to be a particularly reliable source of information," Clinton said, to laughter from many in the committee room.

    Rohrbacher quickly hit back, saying, "Dick Cheney has asked for specific documents to be unclassified. We are not asking for your opinion of Dick Cheney. … If you want to maintain your credibility with us, what is your opinion on the release of those documents?"

    Clinton ultimately did not answer the question, saying, "I believe we ought to get to the bottom of this entire matter. I think it's in the best interest of our country, and that is what the president believes, and that is why he has taken the actions he has."
    “If you want to maintain your credibility with us”..???

    Screw you, Rohrbacher; I didn’t think much of your act on “Real Time” all those months ago, and I think even less of it now (and by the way, I’ve seen his name spelled “Rohrbacher” and “Rohrabacher” all over the place…nice for some consistency on that).

    Yeah, Dana, way to support the Afghan groups that eventually became the Taliban and forces loyal to bin Laden (and of course, you blamed Hillary’s husband for 9/11…creep). Also, like most Repugs, he wouldn’t be a “made man” unless he had ties of a sort to a certain Jack Abramoff, all noted here.

    Oh, and on the matter of encouraging Obama to release documents concerning “aggressive interrogation techniques”…well, I guess Holy Joe didn’t get the memo.

  • Update 4/23/09: Regarding Lieberman (tee hee hee)...

  • And speaking of the Clintons, I have to admit that I was a bit nonplussed, at the very least, to hear that “The Big Dog” had agreed to appear on the same stage with His Fraudulency, as noted here (h/t Think Progress).

    And by the way, get a load of some of the big-time wankery here from a member of the Great White North’s pundit class (didn’t know they had one)…

    Although both presidents demonstrated an ability to compromise in the interests of bipartisan consensus — Mr. Clinton toughened welfare rules while Mr. Bush expanded public health care and funding for education — their opponents saw them only as the personifications of the evil of the other side.

    So Mr. Clinton was impeached for abasing his office after lying about an affair with an intern.

    And the wild-eyed are still trying to get Mr. Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity for their handling of the war on terror.

    The meter doesn't exist to measure the time and energy that has been wasted on all of this.
    Oh really? It might be news to the author, then, that the whole “divide and conquer,” “politics of personal destruction” thing was raised to a fine art by the Repugs (beginning with Dick Nixon and his “southern strategy” in the late ‘60s), to the point where it framed our politics for the last 30 years (with the Democrats getting wise to all of this only fairly recently, maybe for the last 4-5 years only). So if all of this has been “wasted time” (partly true, I’ll admit), the Repugs have wasted more than the Dems.

    Also, I think it’s been chronicled pretty thoroughly here and elsewhere that Number 43, if anything, cut funding for health care and education more than anything else (John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail doesn’t cite his source for that claim, and I have no intention of doing his due diligence for him). And I’ll grant you that the poll cited here skews to the left a bit; it claims that 90 percent favored an investigation into the Bushco regime for war crimes, but I can’t determine Air America’s methodology – still, though, that’s a hell of a lot of “wild-eyed” people.

    And for good measure, Ibbitson also conjures up some faux equivalency between Drudge and The Huffington Post (and Fix Noise and MSNBC) which tells me that he really doesn’t know a whole hell of a lot about progressive politics in this country.

    Still, though, in my naïveté, I have to wonder what it will take for Dubya to be ostracized by his peers as the pariah that he truly is for unsuccessfully waging two wars, allowing our planet to continue boiling, shredding our Constitution and very nearly wrecking our economy.

    Did Bill think that, just because his little soiree with President Brainless is due to take place beyond our border, we wouldn’t be paying attention?

  • Update: It took a little while for me to do the "QA" I usually do to these posts for this one in particular, but I think I fixed the messed up links and the missing transition in the first item.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    Pap is right here about the antics of Asscroft and Abu G. (Mukasey was a loyal Bushie too, let's not forget), but the thing I don't get is why a Republican justice department would go after the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate (glad to highlight the tragic case of Paul Minor here; add him to the company of Don Siegelman, Cyril Wecht, and a whole host of primarily Dem politicians and politicos screwed over by our former ruling cabal...and I think Holder just made the plainly obvious calculation that it wasn't worth Justice Department resources to fight the appeal of the Stevens case - and by the way, let's not forget what originally got Stevens in trouble, shall we?)...

    ...and you have to bump up the volume a bit here, but this tune is worth it (lyrics here).

    McCain's Political Posturing On The Militia Mess

    (And I also posted here.)

    I would say that this story has a lot to do with this one; I mean, how late is it anyway in the news cycle for the senator from Arizona and Repug presidential candidate last year to be alleging that the report on militia activity from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was “insulting” to veterans? Particularly when Napolitano has already apologized (unnecessarily, I think) as noted here (from the WaPo)?

    And what of Chris Simcox, McCain’s just-declared primary challenger? Well, in addition to a history that includes a failed marriage, unemployment, 9/11 trauma and a three-month stint in the desert (reported by Max Blumenthal here), we also learn the following from Blumenthal’s article…

    There are those in Tombstone who say that the 41-year-old former teacher is an eccentric, an egomaniac and a threat to the local tourism industry. While Simcox says his militia has 600 members, others here say the number is far smaller. "Chris can only get a three-man patrol going," says Jeff, a bartender at the Crystal Bar on Main Street. "Basically, the kind of people who want to join his group can't even pass a background check."

    However quixotic his character, Simcox is a leading figure in a loose but committed alliance of anti-immigrant forces that have turned Cochise County into a national flash point for escalating tensions over illegal immigration. The alliance includes not only local ranchers, landowners and law enforcement officials, but also former high-ranking Border Patrol agents and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican. Quietly backing their efforts is the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a controversial anti-immigration group that in the 1980s and 1990s received more than $1 million from a shadowy group accused of white-supremacist leanings.
    Despite my own ideological disagreements with McCain, I’m not sure what else it says about the current state of the Repug Party that someone like Simcox could come along and wage a legitimate primary threat to a party elder (not quite what we have in PA, though, where wingnut Pat Toomey – a bit more established based on his prior campaign in 2004 – poses a real threat to Snarlin’ Arlen’s party nod).

    But returning to the matter of militia groups, I think this post from Dave Neiwert at Crooks and Liars has a lot of good information, including, among other things, the following quote from Thomas Jefferson…

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
    Of course, this was the quote on the T-shirt worn by Timothy McVeigh when he was arrested for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1994 (McCain mentions McVeigh in the story today – Neiwert’s point is that it’s part of the M.O. of hate groups to blend in with the rest of us as effectively as possible)

    Which, to me, leads us to the $64,000 question, which is this (echoed by Neiwert) – how can we deal with these crazies in a manner that is most effective from a law enforcement perspective (I should note that the outcry began over a report issued by the Missouri State Patrol about trying to identify trends among those who could commit violent acts as part of an extremist movement).

    Also, why should anyone feel defensive if veterans are targeted by these people? That is one demographic in particular that I believe, on the whole, would know how to respond appropriately if they thought they were being recruited (with McVeigh a tragic exception – I have no evidence at this point that indicates otherwise).

    Or, as McCain himself says…

    The last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans"…
    So why doesn’t McCain just let “sleeping dogs lie,” as it were, unless he were trying to serve his own opportunistic self interest against a primary challenger who makes common cause with those who would do harm to this country? And read Simcox’s dare to be arrested for representing those “who are protecting their own country” – and he said that in 2003 while Dubya was in the White House; would he be any less belligerent now with Obama in charge?

    Do you even need to ask?

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    This is all well and good, though I'm still not happy about this item...

    ..and given this story, this song has been much on my mind today.

    Update 1 4/21/09: At the very least, Harman owes John Kerry an apology for this (actually, she owes a hell of a lot more than that - h/t Atrios).

    Update 2 4/21/09: I don't care if Harman was being blackmailed by Bushco or not; kos is right here.

    A Columbine Anniversary Request

    A lot of what I had hoped to say on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre in Littleton, CO was already stated by E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post here, so I’ll merely provide the link and let him make the case (the absurdity of President Obama or any leader of this country basically doing a “Pontius Pilate” before the president of Mexico on the matter of assault weapons crossing our borders into that country, subsequently used to commit acts of violence here; the cowardice of members of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House who caved in response to the call from Attorney General Eric Holder to renew the assault weapons ban – if you’re a legitimate hunter and you believe you need an assault weapon, then as far as I’m concerned, you’re not a legitimate hunter; the fact that President Obama believes he owes some fealty to a group that constituted barely more than a third of voters who helped elect him last November; and on and on).

    Also, for good measure, Paul Helmke of Handgun Control provides more depressing statistics and context here as to how this country has suffered at the hands of those who grovel before that misinterpretation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution (and to the credit of the Inquirer, this editorial calls for repealing the Tiahrt Amendment, which prevents lawsuits by state and local governments seeking to acquire gun trace data…and this is positive also, I suppose).

    But you know what? Maybe I should use this solemn occasion as yet another opportunity to call for common-sense gun laws not just in PA but across the country, but I won’t, partly because I’ve done so numerous times and have run into nothing but the proverbial brick walls. Also, we should all spend every moment we can calling for such reforms not just on this day, but every day.

    Instead, I would direct your attention to the pic atop this post. As you can read from this Daily Kos post, it came from something called the “Shad Planking,” a political rally in Virginia (the post gets into a lot more of the particulars). There were Ron Paul supporters in attendance with those actually supporting George Allen for President in 2012, and the “stars n’ bars” were plainly visible everywhere. And so were the teabaggers.

    You remember the “teabaggers” of course. The people pandered to by Fix Noise as well as Baby Newton Leroy and Dick Armey, those behind this “spontaneous, grassroots” effort. Some secessionists, armed insurrectionists (one a cousin to the other), and mostly, a bunch of “straight up” racists, as Janeane Garofalo depicted them (with spot-on accuracy as far as I’m concerned).

    All I’m asking here is for any NRA member who may actually be reading this (a long shot, I’ll admit) to renounce the teabaggers. Please communicate to me that, in addition to educating others in the proper care and maintenance of guns and instructing law-abiding gun owners to become proficient with the use of these weapons, you would never want to see guns abused by individuals acting irresponsibly on behalf of some faction that seeks no recourse through the political apparatus of this country that encourages lawful, legal dissent and airing of grievances, but instead seeks to undo the democratically elected transformation of our government (particularly in the White House) last November any way that they can (and doing so with guns would be just fine with them).

    If you’re really all about nothing else but gun safety, then there really isn’t much to think about, is there?

    (Oh, and by the way, speaking of Tiahrt, I got a chuckle out of this.)