Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Stuff

Yeah, you knew I was going to include this, didn't you - kind of scuffling a bit at the moment, but it's early yet...

..."Still Bushed" (former Bushie Charlie Millard of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation moves $2 1/2 bil into the stock market just before it crashes, hitting about 44 million in this country, through Goldman Sachs and BlackRock - gee, wonder if that has anything to do with his attempts to get a job at those two firms?; Turd Blossom gets grilled for four hours over the U.S. Attorneys scandal before he's due to meet with a congressional committee over the matter; and Obama will proceed with "less than 20" of the 241 planned tribunals for the GITMO prisoners, this time with real courts and real due process, with information obtained through torture thrown out...for real - by the way, MSNBC, I'm getting pretty damn sick of that Applebee's ad I have to watch first before I grab these things)...

...and here's a clip from the new "WTF" segment about "Goodhair" Perry still threatening to secede (ha ha ha, what a maroon)...

...and lo, another weekend is upon us - a short week coming up for yours truly (more details to follow).

A "Bang Bang" Return For The Mittster

While Rick Perry hypes “Teabagg’n 2.0” (here), Mark Sanford finds himself forced just about at gunpoint by the South Carolina State Senate to accept stimulus funds (here), and Sarah Palin fends off more ethics complaints (here), it may be easy to forget about a certain Willard Mitt Romney still lurking out there somewhere, vying for a place in the 2012 campaign (yes, I apologize for noting that – I can’t deal with another national election campaign at this moment either).

But just to make sure that a few hangers-on who still pay attention to the Repugs (such as your humble narrator) don’t forget, Romney gave a speech today to the NRA full of the typical “red meat” bloviation you would expect to reach that values-voter “base” that his party relies on, and which is shrinking with the passage of time (and by the way, there are no policy proposals or ideas at all – for anyone who wonders how the Repugs became the party of near-irrelevance given what we currently face….well, here’s the proof).

Here are some choice excerpts from his speech (after the obligatory homage to The Sainted Ronnie R, who also never served in combat)…

There was a time when the right to bear arms was a lot better appreciated in the state that is home to Bunker Hill. No one questioned the importance of a responsible, armed citizenry back when Paul Revere was in the saddle and patriots were throwing the king's tea into Boston Harbor—except maybe a few Tories and King George himself.
If the right to bear arms was supposedly “unappreciated,” using Romney’s code language, then I would say that he has more than a little bit to do with that, as noted here…

In his 1994 US Senate run, Romney backed two gun-control measures strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups: the Brady Bill, which imposed a five-day waiting period on gun sales, and a ban on certain assault weapons.

"That's not going to make me the hero of the NRA," Romney told the Boston Herald in 1994.

At another campaign stop that year, he told reporters: "I don't line up with the NRA."

And as the GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2002, Romney lauded the state's strong laws during a debate against Democrat Shannon O'Brien. "We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them," he said. "I won't chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety."
And speaking of gun-related tragedy, don’t forget this Romney gem, saying that “pornography and violence” were responsible for the Virginia Tech slayings.


Four out of five NRA members have sworn to defend the Constitution in a uniform of the United States military, or have family that did so. That's an extraordinary record of service to our country. And that is why, on Armed Services Day, I'm proud to be with members of the NRA.
As noted here…

Before college, Romney earned a draft deferral by going to France for a two-year missionary tour with the Mormon Church. As such, he was able to avoid military service in Vietnam.
And it’s particularly crass for Romney to comment on the military, given the fact that he was a big Iraq war cheerleader, while none of his sons enlisted (alluded to here), to the point where Romney equated military service with working in his campaign (here).


The liberal Democrats who control our government also want to put Washington in charge of healthcare. The rest of us want to reform healthcare to make sure that every American has insurance they can afford, and that cannot be taken away if they change or lose a job.

But the best path to health care reform is to let the American people make their own decisions, not have those decisions forced on them by government.
From ’05 here (by Joe Klein)…

Massachusetts now spends about $1 billion a year to provide emergency health care for at least 500,000 uninsured citizens. About 200,000 of those are young people, predominantly male, who are making enough money to buy health insurance but figure they don't need it. They would be required to buy a relatively inexpensive health insurance policy, with higher deductibles and co-pays—that's where the "mandate" comes in. Another 100,000 are extremely poor people who are eligible for Medicaid; a concerted effort would be made to bring them into the system. The remaining 200,000 are the people who have been most neglected by the system in the past: the working poor, people who have low-end service jobs or work part time for employers who don't offer health coverage.

Did you see that California Republicans and Democrats finally reached a budget compromise? Salaries will be reduced for some state workers, and programs will be cut. But President Obama does not feel constrained by the Constitutional guarantee of federalism and states' rights: he has dictated that California won't get federal money because he doesn't like the plan that they themselves have agreed to.
I assume Romney is talking about this (from Tuesday)…

On Monday, the Obama administration said it has not finalized a decision on whether a budget provision that reduced California's contribution to wages for home health workers will jeopardize $6.8 billion in federal economic stimulus funds, the Los Angeles Times reports (Nicholas/Halper, Los Angeles Times, 5/11).

On Monday, HHS spokesperson Nick Papas said, "No final determination has been made. We are continuing to work closely with the state of California, and a legal review of the requirements of the Recovery Act (the stimulus law) with respect to this issue is ongoing."

(Obama’s) administration has won the favor of liberal commentators by pledging what it calls reform in the treatment of terrorist detainees. He's released top secret memos about interrogations, but we're still waiting for other top secret memos that tell us about the attacks prevented by those interrogations.
Really? And what attacks exactly were prevented by torture, Mitt?

I think this gives us the answer.


The President has also promised to close down Guantanamo, without giving the slightest indication of the next stop for the killers being held there now.

And for all of these decisions, he has received the predictable applause from the usual quarters.

But here's the problem. That is the very kind of thinking that left America vulnerable to the attacks of September 11th. And the approval of left-wing law professors and editorial boards won't be worth much if this country lets down its guard and suffers another attack.
Given the fact that Romney said here that “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch (bin Laden)," I would say that Romney has automatically forfeited the right to say anything at all about 9/11.

And frankly, I’m surprised that Mitt didn’t remind those in attendance of this promise, seeing as how you apparently love Guantanamo so much (and, as noted here, former governor “lighten up” has always been such a big fan of the president).

Romney more or less concludes with this…

The liberals may fool some of the people for some of the time, but that time will draw to a close.
We’ll see if you turn out to be right, Willard Mitt. But your time is already up; all that remains is for you to realize that and stop performing these “dog whistle” antics for the true believers, now distinctly in the minority as the remaining three-quarters of this country continues the epic chore of undoing the eight years of mess, overwhelmingly from your party’s ineptitude and malfeasance.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/15/09)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.

(I should point out that I really don’t have much to say this week, mainly because almost all of these votes pertain to a couple of bills, S 386 and S 896, about which virtually everyone was in agreement.)

(And one more thing – I also posted here.)


Predatory home lending. Voting 300-114, the House passed a bill (HR 1728) to outlaw practices associated with subprime loans and the U.S. housing meltdown. The bill requires lenders to keep a financial stake in loans they sell into the securities market; assigns legal liability to those who originate and securitize mortgages; bars loans to borrowers who show "no reasonable ability" to pay, and outlaws refinancings aimed mainly at generating fees for the lending industry.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.) Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
Of course this was Pancake Joe’s stupid “No” vote for the week, but I should say that the language about borrowers with “no reasonable ability to pay” and trying to determine refinancings solely intended to generate fees will probably be tough to put into the correct legalese; I have a feeling that will get worked on some more before the bill is voted on in the Senate or gets hashed out in a committee.

Financial crimes. Voting 367-59, the House passed a bill (S 386) toughening federal laws against mortgage and securities fraud and nearly doubling federal personnel for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes.

A yes vote was to send the bill to a House-Senate conference.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.
By the way (on an unrelated note), Patrick Murphy will appear tomorrow at Bucks County Community College from 10 AM to 1 PM for a Veterans and Service Members Benefits Fair that he is hosting in the Gallagher Room (Rollins 139) of the campus.


At-risk homeowners. Voting 91-5, the Senate passed a bill (S 896) revamping the 2008 Hope for Homeowners Program, which encourages lenders to refinance at-risk mortgages into 30-year, fixed-interest loans in return for Federal Housing Administration backing of the new loans. The program has fallen far short of its goal of stabilizing hundreds of thousands of mortgages headed for default.

A yes vote was to send the bill to House-Senate negotiations.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).

Bank stock dispute. Voting 36-59, the Senate refused to bar the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) from converting its holdings in U.S. banks to common stock. The amendment to S 896 (above) concerned a Treasury plan to convert preferred stock, the equivalent of a loan, to common stock, which is equity. Backers say this would give banks capital for lubricating the economy, while foes call it a dangerous step toward nationalizing banks.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting no: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

Foreclosed renters. Voting 57-39, the Senate amended S 896 (above) to prevent the immediate eviction of renters from foreclosed properties. Tenants in multi-unit buildings could remain until their leases expire, and tenants in residential homes would be allowed 90 days to relocate.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.
No word from the Inquirer on what transpired this week, by the way.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Stuff

I'm still pretty damn angry at Joke Line for his insulting post yesterday, but I'll let former Brigadier General Janis Karpisnki explain once more what an idiot he is, as well as those who feel as if they don't want to see the horrors committed in their name, and I realize that includes most of this country - dear God (and she's spot-on once more about having international representation on this)...

...and at this point, I usually include a video pointing out once more how the Repugs are corrupt idiots who want to do nothing except consolidate power for their "base" and wage war on the middle class, but I think that, at the moment, that would demean the importance of contemplating what former Brigadier General Karpinski said, so I won't do it for now - instead, I'll just include this vid, for the benefit of probably the ten people out there who didn't get my reference in the "Army Experience Center" post title.

The U.S. Army Asks, "Are You Experienced?"

Given that it’s Thursday, how nice it was to read something in the Philadelphia Inquirer and not find myself trying to control my gag reflex over more former-Senator-Man-On-Dog musings.

This column, written by John Grant of Veterans for Peace in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., discusses the so-called “Army Experience Center” in the Franklin Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia, which Grant quite rightly describes as “an effort to sell the Army as a brand, like Disney, and it could one day be replicated in malls all over America.”

Grant continues…

The center's violent video games and simulations of shooting human targets seduce vulnerable teenagers into an "us-versus-them" mindset. The goal is recruitment.

The Center takes up 14,000 square feet of mall space next to the Dave & Buster's game emporium. Dozens of video stations are available for adolescents as young as 13 to play a host of violent video games, such as "America's Army," which is designed around a mission involving simulated shooting at human targets with an automatic weapon.

Kids can strap into three large simulators and shoot human targets on huge, wraparound screens. There's an Apache attack helicopter, a Humvee with seven mounted machine-gun turrets, and a Black Hawk helicopter with four door-gunner positions. This gets excitable boys to bond with the military mission.

Questions about the history and context of conflicts are leapfrogged over, and kids get an adrenaline high linked directly to the Army and its mission in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army Experience Center is lulling these vulnerable young minds into an acceptance of the killing of others in far-flung places.

The retired and active-duty military staff at the Army Experience Center have claimed on NBC News and elsewhere that they don't employ a "hard sell." And, to their credit, the staff is always cool, professional, and "soft" on the sales pitch. But that's the point: Instead of a used-car-salesman approach, they rely on the electronic dazzle to entice kids already immersed in video-game culture.
I guess this is the second time today where I’m a little “late to the party” on an issue, since the Center opened last August, as noted here (and for the uninitiated, I should point out that the Franklin Mills Mall is a huge, sprawling complex, so the Center will never have a shortage of walk-through traffic).

And this tells us about the protest held outside the center earlier this month in which seven people were arrested (a nested link to the “Shut Down The AEC” site appears here, including pics from the protest and information on how to get involved in opposing the site).

Aside from the fact that this desensitizes the violence and horror of combat, a site like the AEC should not exist because it is utterly unnecessary; this post from earlier this year tells us that the Army is definitely meeting its recruiting and retention goals (credit goes to those who actually want to enlist out of patriotism, but this should also be attributed in no small measure to our wretched economy – full disclosure: I did not serve).

However, as long as the AEC is open (but please, not one penny more of our tax dollars on another monstrosity like this), let the kids come in and have at it, as part of the “Army experience.” And more than that, I think they should build a movie theater onto it, with Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, so they can show 70 mm theatrical releases.

So that anyone who enters the center, before they are allowed to play any video simulations whatsoever, will have to sit through every single second of “Saving Private Ryan” first.

So What Are "We" Supposed To Be About, Anyway?

(Note: I try to forego posts where I more or less “crank off” and leave that in the hands of my “A list betters,” but after some reading on this topic, I feel that I have to say this.)

You know, after hearing about the decision from President Obama to withhold more detainee abuse photos, as noted here, I really have to ask the question in the title of this post.

And I’ll admit that I was only mildly peeved for awhile because, though I knew this was another capitulation in the name of some political calculation (since, as noted here, most of this country is still pretty somnambulant on this issue), I was focused on other issues at the time, rightly or wrongly, and didn’t pay attention to this matter as I should have.

But then I read this post today from Glenn Greenwald, which, as is his usual style (to his credit), provided the literary equivalent of a cold slap in the face to your humble narrator. It made me realize anew that, yes, the photos Obama is holding back should be released. It will be even more tragic if our brave men and women in the military are endangered as a result, but we truly are fools if we think that a bare minimum of self-censorship will somehow provide cover for the betrayal of our ideals over the last eight years in the eyes of the world.

And if it manages to awaken this country to the point where most of us realize that we must fully face the evil conceived and carried out by Bushco in the name of the “global war on terror,” then something positive could come from releasing these no-doubt-horrific pictures.

While I sat and pondered this, a bit sobered by it all, I managed to come across this Swampland post on the subject by Joe Klein.

And as I read it, I felt my own sense of loss and futility over this slowly turn to rage.

See, Joke Line believes that the pix shouldn’t be released because…

“Thousands of American troops will be pouring into southern Afghanistan this summer. They will have their hands full with the Taliban. As it is, they have to overcome the disastrous impact of civilian casualties caused by aerial bombing, a tactic one hopes will become far less common with the new, counterinsurgency-based military leadership in Afghanistan.”
So…we as a free people don’t have the right to view incendiary pictures because it would endanger those in our military and foreign service?

Here’s a crazy thought: perhaps those we ostensibly are trying to aid half a world away would think more of us (or, short of that, maybe not hate us quite as much) if we were honest and contrite over this matter instead of secretive and deceitful. Or am I just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger for dreaming up such a silly notion?

Back to Klein…

I am sure the civil liberties absolutists will say that this impinges on the free flow of information. They have a point. But we've gotten the picture: we know what American torture looks like. And the distribution of these photos…constitutes something akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater.
I’ve asked this before of our punditocracy, and I’ll ask it again; exactly who the hell is this “we” you are referring to? “We” know what torture looks like? So “we” know there is nothing else that is worse than the Abu Ghraib pictures? Based on what, exactly? Your say-so?

Oh, but here comes more of Klein’s particularly foul rationalizations…

I oppose torture. I think Dick Cheney, the mastermind of this program, is pretty close to a criminal--and that his attempts to twist the U.S. Constitution to his purposes, based on, shall we say, an eccentric reading of one of the lesser Federalist Papers, is obscene.

I also believe there were mitigating circumstances. This was right after 9/11. There were 3000 dead. There was anthrax in the air. I can understand Nancy Pelosi's impulse to look the other way--if I'd been in a position of authority, I might have acted the same way...and you might have, too.
I realize it’s probably hopeless for me to follow up the well-made point by Jonathan Landay of McClatchy on “Countdown” the other night, namely, that the whole question of what Pelosi supposedly is fudging about on this (not that I think she is, I wish to emphasize) is utterly irrelevant because everything she was told was classified so she couldn’t go public with any complaints even if she wanted to (her defense that a new Congress and president was needed to rectify this is completely accurate). This is nothing but a red herring to provide cover for the ruling cabal that perpetrated these foul acts (those which President Obama is wrongly trying to sweep under the proverbial rug).

And 9/11? 3000 dead? The Anthrax attack (conveniently remembered now)? All beside the point.

Klein (no doubt speaking on behalf of the Friedmans, Cohens and every other war cheerleading pundit) STILL claims that the foul excesses carried out under Number 43 are justified because “I might have acted the same way…and you might have too.”

If “I” were the leader of the free world and had carried out acts that abrogated any of the Geneva Conventions, then “I” would completely and utterly expect to be held accountable in a court of law, whether that body existed in this country or elsewhere.

And Klein finishes with this…

We don't need to see (the photos), especially now.
Again with the collective “we” (God, what a toxic piece of refuse this post is).

Here is what I hope to see at some point in the future. I fervently wish for President Obama to reverse his decision and allow these photos to be published, so the whole world knows what was perpetrated by the jackals who formerly ruled us.

And when they are made public, I hope the president decides to call a news conference attended by Klein and every other pundit affiliated with a corporation with initials for names, as well as the few newspapers that will be left.

And I hope that the president calls Klein to the podium, opens a folder full of the photos, takes them out and, his voice rising in rage, shakes them directly in front of Klein’s face.

Because if Klein truly opposes torture as he says, he will then become as angry as I am at this moment, as I do everything I can not to break this keyboard from typing too violently over notions such as the one that the disgust of a person over half a world away can, in part, be measured by their literacy.

Update 1 5/15/09: The fact that Obama is being cheered on here by Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News over this is the only proof he needs that he is definitely on the wrong track.

Update 2 5/18/09: A great point made here given the latest revelations of Bushco nutsiness...

Update 3 6/1/09: Thank you, Mr. President.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Stuff

Thank you, Mr. Zelikow, for using the expertise you have and I don't to make the case for closing Guantanamo that I tried to make earlier today through criticizing Mitch McConnell...

...and oh noes!!! It's TEH SCARY GAY!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! (hat tips for these two to The Daily Kos)...

...and if that doesn't call for this response from Lewis Black (from "Red, White and Screwed" in '07), then I don't know what does - warning: bad words ahead...

...and after last night, I think I should keep it in a "family values" mode - won't say which "family," though; somewhere, I think Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill are smiling.

More “Ooga Booga!” Scare Antics From Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao

(And I also posted here.)

Yesterday brought us this from the U.S. Senate Minority Leader about the prisoners currently housed at Guantanamo, including the following...

These men are exactly where they belong: locked up in a safe and secure prison and isolated from the American people, where they can do no harm. America has not been attacked at home since 9/11 because of the hard work of our Armed Forces, dedicated intelligence officials, the men and women at the Department of Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement officials.
“The Anthrax Attack,” Mitch – remember???!!!

Apparently not; he continues…

But another reason we haven’t been attacked is because some men who are most likely to do so are locked up in Guantanamo. These inmates aren’t spectators. They’re the enemy. They’re the plotters, the planners, the funders, the ones who pull the trigger.
Really? Then why do we learn the following from this story published immediately after Obama’s victory last November (in which he quite rightly called for trials in this country for the detainees)…

Many of the about 250 Guantanamo detainees are cleared for release, but the Bush administration has been unable to find a country willing to take them.
Also, here is more on the Guantanamo detainees from this 2006 article in The Atlantic…

  • A high percentage, perhaps the majority, of the 500-odd men now held at Guantanamo were not captured on any battlefield, let alone on "the battlefield in Afghanistan" (as Bush asserted) while "trying to kill American forces" (as former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan claimed).

  • Fewer than 20 percent of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been Qaeda members.

  • Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the Qaeda campaign to murder Americans.

  • The majority were not captured by U.S. forces but rather handed over by reward-seeking Pakistanis and Afghan warlords and by villagers of highly doubtful reliability.
  • McConnell continues…

    One of the men who’s locked away safely at Guantanamo is Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the man who actually organized the 9/11 attacks. We captured him while he was planning follow-up attacks to 9/11, including a plot to destroy a West Coast skyscraper. If we hadn’t captured Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, he may very well have succeeded in carrying out the same kind of attack on the West Coast that he carried out on the East Coast.
    Uh, no – as noted here, the FBI broke up the alleged plot McConnell talks about in 2002, but Mohammed wasn’t apprehended until 2003 (that and other “inconvenient truths” are noted by Timothy Noah of Slate).

    McConnell continues…

    Another inmate who still declares himself a ‘terrorist to the bone’ is Ali Abd al-Azeez Ali, who served as a key lieutenant for KSM on several plots against the United States and the United Kingdom, including the 9/11 attacks. During what he describes as the, quote, ‘Blessed 11 September operation,’ Ali transferred money to U.S.-based operatives and served as a sort of travel agent for some of the hijackers. This man is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.

    Another terrorist at Guantanamo who is responsible for the death of Americans is Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri, who masterminded the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors in 2000. When he was arrested, Nashiri was planning new terrorist attacks, including a plot to crash an airplane into a Western naval vessel and a plan targeting a U.S. housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
    I will grant you that Ali Abd al-Aziz is a bad actor who probably deserves to be behind bars, and the same goes for Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri. However the following should be noted about the latter individual (from this story dated last February)…

    WASHINGTON: A military judge in Guantanamo Bay dismissed all charges against Saudi national Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, accused of being a senior Al-Qaeda conspirator.

    Al-Nashiri is accused of plotting the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors in the Yemeni port city of Aden in 2000.

    Judge Susan Crawford’s ruling brings the case into compliance with an order US President Barack Obama issued in his first week in office to suspend Guantanamo cases. The Obama administration could reinstate charges against Al-Nashiri at a later date.

    The move avoided a showdown between the US military and Obama. It canceled a hearing that had been set for Monday in the Guantanamo war crimes court despite the fact Obama had ordered a freeze in proceedings there. Had the trial continued in defiance of Obama’s request, reinstatement of charges may not have been possible.
    Here’s my question – how long have we held this guy for, anyway? And this Wikipedia article gives us the answer…

    In November 2002, al-Nashiri was captured in the United Arab Emirates.[2] He is currently in American military custody in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp,[1] having previously been held at some secret location. On September 29, 2004, he was sentenced to death in absentia in a Yemeni court for his role in the USS Cole bombing.

    The U.S. military put al-Rahim al-Nashiri in prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said March 14, 2008. He was held by the CIA for an undisclosed amount of time.[11]
    So this guy has been held by either this country or the UAE since November 2002, and even as it left office, the Bush Administration still couldn’t make a case??

    And now, we’re basically holding Al-Nashiri without a charge while we wait for the Obama Administration to refile the case.

    Anybody else out there besides me see something wrong here? You know, maybe the fact that the charges could eventually be thrown out because of a procedural screwup?

    And another thing – can we dispense with this ridiculous notion that “ZOMG, all of these people are going to hunt us down and kill us in our sleep, so of course we have to keep them out of this country??!!!”

    These characters are a threat to us by means of their ability to organize others sympathetic to their cause and communicate with them (and I realize even THAT claim could be a stretch, particularly in the case of Mohammed, who was a braggart before he was captured and has been water boarded so many times by now that I can’t see how we could consider him to be anything but a babbling, incoherent idiot).

    I’m more concerned about violent offenders housed at, say, Graterford, who, if they were to escape, could harm me or my family or friends, than I am about any of the people McConnell is talking about. Just monitor their contacts and house them; a cell has the same steel bars and gray walls anywhere in the world that you are unfortunate enough to find it.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    "Worst Persons" (well lookee lookee here, boys and girls, we have the Inky making the list for giving a monthly feature to Torture Yoo - by the way, and don't tell anybody, but I just went to the paper's Opinion page online, and Yoo still doesn't have a pic with a legend telling readers that he's a contributing columnist...I can't think of a word to describe how sad it is to see Harold Jackson, and especially Bill Marimow, who once won a Pulitzer for God's sake, toeing the Tierney line like this; Eric Bolling of the Fix Business Channel - heh - first criticizes K.O. and the like for "frat house humor" when justifiably lampooning the "teabaggers," but he then ranks his guests as if they're on a baseball team and says that Barney Frank should be the "catcher"...the laughs never stop with these cretins because they never begin in the first place; but Greta Van Susteren of Fix Noise takes it for criticizing The Politico for an ambush interview of Todd Palin...aside from the hypocrisy cited so well in the film clip, is the other joke here the assumption that Palin would actually have something interesting to say?)...

    Update 1 5/13/09: And here's something we can do about Yoo, by the way.

    Update 2 5/16/09: Wow, how's this for chutzpah? Bascially, the Inquirer says that "a blogger (who would be Will Bunch of The Daily News) incorrectly reported that The Inquirer had recently hired former Justice Department official John Yoo, one author of memos justifying the Bush administration's use of torture to interrogate terror suspects. Actually, Yoo's monthly freelance column began last October."

    Maybe Bunch was confused, as were we all, since the Inquirer themseleves didn't even tell anyone about that until last Sunday.

    Yep, I don't think those pigs will be flying again anytime soon, Inky.

    ...and this one goes out to the five "D" magazine writers I chastised earlier today; my guess is that this is about at their speed (to every other sentient life form in the world, I apologize for this clip).

    The Latest From The “Dubya Legacy Salvage Project”

    (And I posted here too - this is a recording.)

    I really went back and forth concerning whether or not I should even waste my time with this, but I felt I had to.

    Last week, CBS Golf broadcaster Peter David ( bad) Feherty quite rightly caused an outrage with a ridiculous, utter non-joke based on that tired remark about “suppose (insert your three most hated people here – usually ends up with a lawyer and two others) get out of an elevator, and you only have a gun with two bullets. What do you do,” and the punch line is that you “shoot the lawyer twice,” or something like that (ha ha).

    Well, as noted here, Feherty’s supposed quip involved the murder of the two Democratic Party leaders in Congress. And I must admit that it’s shocking that, to date, there has been no comment on the matter from the CBS broadcasting network.

    Feherty made his remark in a column that appeared in something called “D Magazine,” which I suppose has to do with the city of Dallas, Texas (I guess, though, that if you don’t just know that, then you’re not cool or something – kind of like in Philly where, if someone says “I’ll meet you at the clothespin” and you say “what?,” then it’s the same deal).

    Well, since I was so repulsed by that lone entry, I thought there might be more interesting stuff in this “D Magazine” piece, and boy, was I right (after a few paragraphs, I knew I would need the hip-waders, if you know what I mean). Feherty’s piece is actually one of five columns written along the lines of “Welcome home, George and Laura” included in this entire mess (Feherty’s column is the third of the sequence).

    Before you get to Feherty, though, you encounter the first of these yokels, and that would be Wick Allison, who tells us the following about how popular Dubya supposedly is in Asia (all five columns can be accessed from here)…

    Ex-presidents seem to follow a protocol that requires them to disappear for a few years after they leave office. Jimmy Carter was barely heard from after being beat by Ronald Reagan…
    Wankery right out of the gate – yes, this stuff is THAT bad. In response, we learn the following about Carter from this Wikipedia article (about what he did when he was supposedly “barely heard from”)…

    In 1982, he established The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to advance human rights and alleviate unnecessary human suffering. The non-profit, nongovernmental Center promotes democracy, mediates and prevents conflicts, and monitors the electoral process in support of free and fair elections. It also works to improve global health through the control and eradication of diseases such as Guinea worm disease, river blindness, malaria, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis. It also works to diminish the stigma against mental illnesses and improve nutrition through increased crop production in Africa. A major accomplishment of The Carter Center has been the elimination of more than 99%of cases of Guinea worm disease, a debilitating parasite that has existed since ancient times, from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to fewer than 10,000 cases in 2007.[48] The Carter Center has monitored 70 elections in 28 countries since 1989.[49] It has worked to resolve conflicts in Haiti, Bosnia, Ethiopia, North Korea, Sudan and other countries. Carter and the Center actively support human rights defenders around the world and have intervened with heads of state on their behalf.
    And here are some of the awards Carter received while he was “barely heard from” (after recovering from a $1 million loss due to mismanagement of assets in trust while he was president)…

    • Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, 1981
    • Ansel Adams Conservation Award, Wilderness Society, 1982
    • Human Rights Award, International League of Human Rights, 1983
    • World Methodist Peace Award, 1985
    • Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, 1987
    • Edwin C. Whitehead Award, National Center for Health Education, 1989
    • Jefferson Award, American Institute of Public Service, 1990
    • Liberty Medal, National Constitution Center, 1990
    • Spirit of America Award, National Council for the Social Studies, 1990
    • Physicians for Social Responsibility Award, 1991
    • Aristotle Prize, Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, 1991
    • W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, 1992
    Also, Allison tells us that Dubya’s approval numbers in India supposedly range from the “high 50s to low 70s,” though of course he doesn’t provide a citation and I can’t find anything to support that online. What I can find, though, is a link to this 2006 story in which we learn that Former Commander Codpiece had planned to address the Indian parliament, but had to cancel because of the threat of being heckled by a not-inconsequential number of MPs (Dubya also got into trouble a year ago with a remark here about India’s middle class that was misinterpreted; he’s committed bigger offenses in my book, but since Obama regularly gets beaten up by Fix Noise and their acolytes for stuff like this, I’m applying the same standard to his predecessor).

    Besides, India feels more of a kinship with this country due to our assistance in dealing with the horrific Mumbai attacks last year. That is bound to give a boost in the approval numbers of anyone who is president at the time, regardless of political party.

    The next writer is Trey Garrison, who tells us the following (on the matter of what you’re supposed to do if you encounter Number 43 and Laura, hopefully not the latter in another vehicular accident)…

    When the former president is being driven around town, they won’t close down roads like they do for the current president. At most, you’ll see rolling roadblocks at intersections. A lower profile means better security.
    Really? This Think Progress story from February tells us…

    Police officers have been turning away vehicles trying to enter the Preston Hollow neighborhood, “explaining that it is closed to the general public.”
    To be fair, I should note the former first couple had not set up their private security service yet. And actually, the part about not closing down the roads is true, as it happens.

    They didn’t have to – they’d closed off the entire neighborhood.

    (And by the way, I’m trying to ignore the jibes at “the current president,” as well as the never-ending torrent of digs in all of these columns Bush “not grasping at every dollar,” like a certain former president from Arkansas supposedly did…at least Dubya didn’t end up going broke having to pay legal expenses to defend a prosecutorial inquisition as his predecessor did…as well as Carter being an “unwelcome gadfly” during 42’s term from ’93-’01, as well as the line about “future historians looking at Iraq as a blip on the radar screen” – as I said at the outset, you have to put your hip-waders on right away here.)

    And this leads me, at long last, to Feherty, who tells us the following…

    “(Dubya’s) two terms must have felt like the rest of the world had inserted the Washington Monument into him and it was his job to heave it out.”
    Pleasant – also (on the matter of some of Feherty’s “D” neighbors)…

    “I hate (the neighbors) that want to talk to me who aren’t doctors or gun dealers or who don’t have their own airplanes.”

    “When I make it home, I slam the door behind me and peak at the letterbox to see if I’ve been spotted by any of the bastards who live nearby.”
    And there’s an unbelievable amount of vitriol in Feherty’s rant along the lines of “poor George and Laura, being inconvenienced by their filthy rabble admirers,” and in that vein (in the category of more people who should avoid the Bushes)…

    “I’m talking to you, the guy with the champagne flute, the stupid grin, and the trophy wife who, if she has one more facelift, will be wearing a triangular beard.”
    Wow – this magazine actually printed that (time for another blogger ethics panel, my fellow prisoners).

    Oh, and did you know that, according to Feherty, people who don’t like Dubya are “self-righteous, indignant jerks”? And that Dubya was bad the same way as Donny and Marie Osmond (paraphrasing is close)?


    “If Dubya were to reappear at 92 years old, his first album would probably go platinum. And, anyway, it will be that long before any of us knows the truth about how and why he played some of the rotten cards he was dealt.”
    And right after Feherty writes that ugly sentence about Reid and Pelosi, he tells us this…

    “I’ve never met a soldier who didn’t love this president and this country, and I’ve met a bunch of them, at home and abroad, in hospitals and in theater.” (note: Feherty goes on relentlessly about how he "supports the troops.")
    In response, I have only this to say; David Feherty, meet Jon Soltz (here).

    I have to be honest with you – at this point, I really couldn’t take any more of this stuff (there were two other columns related to the Bushes, but I couldn’t even look at them - I'd had enough).

    So there you have it, probably more of a peek than you’d like through the looking glass at all the “dead enders” out there who think George and Laura deserve anything besides scorn and ridicule and actually deserve to be treated with anything approximating human dignity.

    And by the way, if you want to ask CBS president and CEO Les Moonves why Feherty is still employed as a golf analyst with the network, please click here and complete this form (pertains to CBS News I know, but all that stuff ends up in the same place regardless of its department of origin).

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    I think K.O. did something really special here in his methodical destruction of more stupid talking points by Bill Orally, this time about a certain Winston Spencer Churchill fellow (the wingers apparently feel a sense of kinship to the legendary Brit, and as usual, they're wrong on the facts yet again)...

    ...and oh yeah, it's another rockin' Monday (song ends about 30 seconds early, though).

    This Just In – Arlen “Conclusively Misspeaks” Again

    (And I also posted here.)

    The following appeared in yesterday’s interview with “Snarlin’ Arlen” Specter from yesterday’s New York Times magazine…

    Q: With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?

    A: I sure do. There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.
    Not to worry, though – the Times added the postscript of Specter saying that he flubbed the question based on the fact that he has new party allegiances now.

    Sure he does.

    And we also read the following…

    Q: Since the (essay Specter wrote in the current issue of The New York Review of Books) is a criticism of the Bush administration and its grab for power, why did you wait until Bush left office to publish it? It would have been forceful if you had published it when he was still president.

    A: Everything in that article I said years ago. I challenged the Terrorist Surveillance Program in Judiciary Committee hearings, which I chaired. I introduced legislation to stop signing statements and I pressed hard to subpoena the telephone-company executives on their participation in the program.
    You “challenged the Terrorist Surveillance Program”? You mean, as in “challenged it to become worse than it already was”? What else could explain S. 2453 which you sponsored in July 2006, which, among other things, stipulated the following…

    First, it required (if the Attorney General requests it, which he will) that all pending cases challenging the legality of the NSA program (which includes the EFF and ACLU cases) be transferred to the secret FISA court. Thus, the insufficiently deferential federal judges would have these cases taken away from them. Second, it would make judicial review of the administration's behavior virtually impossible, as it specifically prohibited (Sec. 702(b)(2)) the FISA court from "requir(ing) the disclosure of national security information . . . without the approval of the Director of National Intelligence of the Attorney General." That all but prevents any discovery in these lawsuits. Third, it quite oddly authorized (Sec. 702(b)(6)) the FISA court to "dismiss a challenge to the legality of an electronic surveillance program for any reason" (emphasis added). Arguably, that provision (would have) broadened the authority of the court to dismiss any such lawsuit for the most discretionary of reasons, even beyond the already wide parameters of the "state secrets" doctrine.
    Yes, I haven’t forgotten how the Democrats caved on FISA, though supporters of the flawed final bill, such as Patrick Murphy, insist that it has provisions to ensure that the data mining was not supposed to continue against citizens of this country (though it ensured retroactive telco immunity). My point is that it’s way beyond a joke for Specter to imply that he was anything but an accomplice here, particularly with his craptacular bill.

    However, I must admit that Specter is correct when he stated that he introduced legislation to ban signing statements by a president. However, as we learn here, he introduced it a few weeks ago after Dubya was already long gone (smooth move).

    Oh, and when it comes to “pressing the telephone-company executives” (and the whole question of phone surveillance anyway), I think we should view the following clip from Jack Cafferty once more (why the hell would Specter stand up to the phone companies when he wouldn’t even stand up to the White House regime from which he took his marching orders?).

    I just have three words to say in response to the ongoing farce of Arlen Specter’s wish to continue taking up space in the Democratic Party…

    Run, Joe, Run!