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Pseudo Theologian Rep. Peter T. King Sounds Off

Saturday, May 16, 2009

By William Hughes
Media Monitors

“Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.”
-- George Carlin

He was just in time for April Fools’ Day, 2009! His name is Peter T. King and he’s a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Long Island, NY. And, for the last eight years, he was one of the prime enablers of the worst excesses of the Bush-Cheney Gang in the Congress. Now, with the financial meltdown ongoing, Rep. King has jumped onto the national stage to add unintended comic relief for the millions in shock over their fast-vanishing 401(k)s. He solemnly pronounced that the idea of Notre Dame U. granting President Barack Obama an honorary degree was a “tacit acceptance of the president’s abortion views.” Then, Rep. King, a la Thomas Aquinas, added that it would also be “antithetical to ‘Catholic moral teaching’ on the sanctity and value of human life.” [1] Thank you “Father,” I mean, Rep. King.

A writer of the wildest fiction couldn’t make this crap up. Rep. King’s politics have been to the right of Genghis Khan. He was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the immoral war in Iraq! He was also a gofer for the whacky Dubya on just about every U.S. Constitution-shredding measure the then-President dreamt up, including the torturing of detainees, NSA’s surveillance of citizens, and the enactments of the USA Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act. Isn’t torture a sin, according to Holy Catholic doctrine? It appears, too, that the notion of jailing, forever, a so-called “enemy combatant” didn’t offend Rep. King’s “Catholic” sensitivities. [2] Don’t forget, also, that his No. 1 hero, Dubya, ran up $10.3 trillion in debt before he left the oval office and was given a ceremonial “boot” by the outraged citizenry. [3]

So now, we have this self-appointed, pseudo-teacher of Catholic “morals,” and unrepentant War Hawk, Rep. King, instructing an institution of Higher Learning, Notre Dame U., that it shouldn’t give an honorary degree to President Barack Obama. I say: Isn’t this the height of hypocrisy? Rep. King also implies that since he attended Notre Dame, that gives him a license to pop off on this issue. Well, the popular talk show host Regis Philbin is a graduate of Notre Dame, too. You don’t see him acting like he’s a dogma-spewing, pompous prelate of the RC Church. The former Cardinal of Boston, the flawed Bernard F. Law, now in forced exile at the Vatican, comes to my mind in that category. [7]...(Click for remainder.)


Teabagger Rick Perry of Texas Apparently Can't Count

By John Aravosis

Teabagging Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has worked himself into quite a hysteria of late. First, talking about seceding from the union because, well, because apparently Perry feels he needs to buck up his butch bona fides. And now, suggesting that the solution to the Republican party's woes is to become even more conservative.
“We’ve been watching this liberal love fest that has taken over our country for about a year now,” he said, “and we need to take back our country.”

Both governors stressed that the Republican Party should not become more moderate as a way to regain power in Washington.

“If you look at this notion of what we are really about I would liken the Republican Party to nothing more than a brand in business,” Sanford said.

When great businesses face down times, Sanford explained, “they don’t expand the tent…they go back to what made those companies great.”

“I don’t think it is in the Republican Party’s best interest as some people have said to tack to the center,” Perry said. “I don’t make any apologies to anybody about being a true-blue conservative.”
A few points. First off, I'm not sure how they teach math down in Texas, but in the north we count January to May, the amount of time since a "liberal" took over the White House, as four months, not twelve months. But putting that aside, what we're seeing here is an attempt to by Perry to rejuvenate his conservative credentials. Perry, like Charlie Crist in Florida, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, and Aaron Schock in Illinois, have all been under some pressure to prove their manliness in a party that doesn't like clouds over its future stars. Perry must figure that the more red meat he throws to the party faithful, the less they'll remember those other rumored scandals....(Click for remainder.)


Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama

The 'Black Shirts' of Guantanamo routinely terrorize prisoners, breaking bones, gouging eyes, squeezing testicles, and 'dousing' them with chemicals.

By Jeremy Scahill

As the Obama administration continues to fight the release of some 2,000 photos that graphically document U.S. military abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, an ongoing Spanish investigation is adding harrowing details to the ever-emerging portrait of the torture inside and outside Guantánamo. Among them: "blows to [the] testicles;" "detention underground in total darkness for three weeks with deprivation of food and sleep;" being "inoculated … through injection with 'a disease for dog cysts;'" the smearing of feces on prisoners; and waterboarding. The torture, according to the Spanish investigation, all occurred "under the authority of American military personnel" and was sometimes conducted in the presence of medical professionals.

More significantly, however, the investigation could for the first time place an intense focus on a notorious, but seldom discussed, thug squad deployed by the U.S. military to retaliate with excessive violence to the slightest resistance by prisoners at Guantánamo.

The force is officially known as the the Immediate Reaction Force or Emergency Reaction Force, but inside the walls of Guantánamo, it is known to the prisoners as the Extreme Repression Force. Despite President Barack Obama's publicized pledge to close the prison camp and end torture -- and analysis from human rights lawyers who call these forces' actions illegal -- IRFs remain very much active at Guantánamo.

IRF: An Extrajudicial Terror Squad

The existence of these forces has been documented since the early days of Guantánamo, but it has rarely been mentioned in the U.S. media or in congressional inquiries into torture. On paper, IRF teams are made up of five military police officers who are on constant stand-by to respond to emergencies. "The IRF team is intended to be used primarily as a forced-extraction team, specializing in the extraction of a detainee who is combative, resistive, or if the possibility of a weapon is in the cell at the time of the extraction," according to a declassified copy of the Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta at Guantánamo. The document was signed on March 27, 2003, by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the man credited with eventually "Gitmoizing" Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons and who reportedly ordered subordinates to treat prisoners "like dogs." Gen. Miller ran Guantánamo from November 2002 until August 2003 before moving to Iraq in 2004....(Click for remainder.)


Why the Caged Bird Sang

By William Rivers Pitt
The Smirking Chimp

"It's impossible to say to yourself how did we get there? Who are we? Who are these people that sent us there?"
-- Seymour Hersh

Dick Cheney has been doing a lot of talking lately. From his most recent barrage of public statements, we have gleaned that he loves Rush Limbaugh, doesn't much care for Colin Powell, believes President Obama is about to sell the Sixth Fleet to the Taliban for pennies on the dollar and thinks torture is a nifty and effective tool that saves lives and defends freedom. Really, this isn't anything we haven't heard before from our growly, snarly, face-blasting former vice president. But it does beg the question: What the hell is he up to? NPR's Ron Elving posited the question in a Wednesday article titled "What is Dick Cheney Trying to Accomplish?"

"The man whom many consider the most powerful veep in history had already been far more vocal and visible than most of his predecessors in retirement," wrote Elving. "This week in particular, the former No. 2 has been out there almost daily, doing talk shows and giving a formal address to the American Enterprise Institute on the importance of interrogation techniques widely considered to be torture. Along the way, he is also unburdening himself of opinions on everything else, from tax policy to the fate of the GOP to the choice of a commanding general in Afghanistan. Once known for his reticence and low profile, the man from Wyoming is suddenly his party's most prominent national figure and audible voice. He is having his catharsis, and having it abundantly."

As for his motives, Elving states his belief that Cheney's sudden whirlwind tour of every television, radio and newspaper in America has a three-pronged purpose: 1) He is a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool, neocon, true believer, who insists on defending the use of torture because he believes it actually works; 2) He is defending the legacy of the administration he basically ran single-handedly for eight years; and 3) He is now liberated from the constraints of White House PR concerns and can speak as freely as he likes.

Mr. Cheney is not the only one who has been out in the public eye defending the practices of the former administration. His daughter, Liz Cheney, went off like an old barrel of TNT on the cable news shows, going so far as to invoke 9/11 (like father, like daughter) and accuse Obama of supporting terrorism for even considering the release of photographic evidence of the American use of torture against detainees. "I have heard from families of service members, from families of 9/11 victims," she said, "when did it become so fashionable for us to side with the terrorists?"...(Click for remainder.)


The GOP Jihad

Leaderless and adrift, far-right Republicans purists are trying to purge the party of its last remaining moderates

By Time Dickinson
Rolling Stone

Arlen Specter didn't jump ship. He was forced to walk the plank.

On Tax Day, in a move timed to coincide with the nationwide tea-bag protests, outgoing Club for Growth president Pat Toomey announced that he would mount a primary challenge to Specter, a Senate veteran from Pennsylvania best known for securing Clarence Thomas' confirmation to the Supreme Court. His goal wasn't to take Specter's seat for himself; according to top GOP observers, the far-right Toomey had no real chance of winning in a state that saw 200,000 Republicans register as Democrats in the last election. The true objective was to knock Specter — an old-school centrist whom Toomey's rabidly small-government Club had named its "Comrade of the Month" for his vote backing the president's stimulus plan — out of the Republican Party.

The plan worked — though not as expected. On April 29th, Specter sidestepped Toomey's challenge by defecting to the Democratic Party, a move that could give the president a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Explaining the breakup, Specter denounced the end of the "Reagan Big Tent" that had ushered him into office in 1980. Given the GOP's far-right radicalization, he said, he could no longer cater to the embittered dregs of the party he had served for decades: "I was unwilling to subject my 29-year record in the Senate to the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate." In other words, he told Republicans, it's not me — it's you....(Click for remainder.)


Polis Statement on Vote Against 2009 Defense Supplemental Appropriations Bill

Washington, May 14 - Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) issued the following statement today on voting against H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009:

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)
Statement on H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009
Thursday, May 5, 2009

The Defense Supplemental funds a number of worthy and important projects, including international humanitarian assistance for refugees and medical assistance for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. I applaud my colleagues, Chairman Obey in particular, for addressing these priorities. Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this bill cannot hide its underlying premise—funding a misguided war in Iraq and Afghanistan—a policy that I believe must be changed.

At its heart, this bill is about increasing and prolonging US military involvement in Afghanistan, which I do not support. I recently traveled to both Iraq and Afghanistan and saw first-hand the very real challenges that our presence creates. Let’s be clear—President Obama inherited two wars and I know he is committed to ending both responsibly. I, however, do not believe there can be a military solution to the conflict and therefore cannot support this bill.

The occupation of Afghanistan will not help us defeat the very real threat of Al Qaeda. Although I am especially encouraged by the “diplomatic surge” and Special Forces’ efforts to defeat the threat of Al Qaeda, our resources could be better spent on diplomacy and targeted security operations, rather than continued occupation. I strongly support President Obama and his efforts to end our presence in Iraq. I believe that the best way to support the President is for me to use my vote to help force a discussion about our strategy and tactics in Afghanistan, and for that reason I am voting no....(Click for remainder.)


Navy Captures Pirate Mothership

By Noah Shachtman
Danger Room @


Our Gay Christian Neighbors

By Joel P. Engardio
On Faith at The Washington Post

Near San Francisco's gay center, past the hill where Castro becomes Divisadero Street, a portable sidewalk sign points to City Church. That's where evangelical Christians gather every Sunday for worship in a converted theater. They are true believers: Jesus saves, Satan is real, sex is for the married and marriage is for the straight.

I didn't think a market for such beliefs existed in San Francisco, but hundreds of people and a full balcony proved me wrong. There were back-to-back services the day I attended. The congregants looked no different than the employees I saw on a visit to Google's Bay Area campus. These evangelicals wore Skechers, watched hulu, twittered and composted. They were high-tech professionals in their 20s and 30s who were mostly pro-life and partook of the body of Christ each Sunday. Many even voted Democrat because, abortion aside, it was the party they said that focused most on what mattered to Jesus - the poor, sick and environment. Same-sex marriage wasn't a factor because Barack Obama was against it.

I visited City Church because I wanted to see who in San Francisco might have voted for Proposition 8, which banned gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California. Nearly a quarter of San Francisco voters favored the ban, and that surprised me. Sure, the Bay Area overwhelmingly supported gays marrying, but in Silicon Valley - home to Google, YouTube, iPhone and a number of churches like City Church - 44 percent of voters didn't.

Alabama has the highest percentage of evangelicals, but by sheer size California has the greatest number: Two million, according to the Christian research firm Barna Group. The votes over marriage in California last year totaled 13 million and gays lost by 52 to 48 percent. That means any fraction of evangelicals changing their mind in the next, close election could make a difference....(Click for remainder.)


David Shuster Grills GOP Strategist: More Concerned About Pelosi Than the U.S.


Lauer Helped Bond Advance Falsehoods About Actions Pelosi Could Have Taken to Stop Torture

By Media Matters

On the May 15 edition of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer agreed with Sen. Kit Bond's (R-MO) false claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could have "call[ed] for a closed hearing of the House or the Senate" when she learned of the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques. In fact, as a member of the then-minority party, Pelosi did not have the authority to hold hearings. Lauer also did not challenge Bond's false claim that Pelosi could have "cut funding," when, in fact, the minority party in the House has no power to enact legislation without majority support, and President Bush would have had no incentive to acquiesce to such a measure.

During the segment, Lauer asked Bond whether Pelosi is "right when she says, even if she had protested, there would be nothing she could have done about it at the time." Lauer continued: "Couldn't she have demanded hearings or would that have been out of line?" Bond replied, "Oh, that's flat wrong," before falsely claiming that Pelosi could have objected by "call[ing] for a closed hearing" -- to which Lauer interjected, "Right." Bond then added, "You can cut funding. There's a whole list of things, and she did none of those that I'm aware of."

Aside from the minority party's lack of power in the House of Representatives, as Media Matters for America has noted, Vicki Divoll, a former deputy counsel to the CIA Counterterrorist Center and general counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2001 to 2003, wrote in a May 12 New York Times op-ed: "[A]s a practical matter, there was very little, if anything, the Gang of Four [in 2002: former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), former Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), and Pelosi] could have done to affect the Bush administration's decision on the enhanced interrogation techniques program." She further wrote that "[t]o stop [the program], they needed the whole Congress," but that "[f]our members do not have the ability, on their own, to bring the great weight of the constitutional authority of Congress to bear."...(Click for remainder.)


Ex-Astronaut is Top Candidate to Run NASA

By Kenneth Chang
The New York Times

Charles F. Bolden Jr., a former space shuttle astronaut and retired Marine major general, is the leading candidate for nomination as the next administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Asked whether an announcement of a nominee would be coming on Monday, the White House secretary, Robert Gibbs, said Friday, “I think you know that the president will meet with somebody that he hopes will — wants to meet with somebody about filling the important role of future NASA administrator.”

Mr. Gibbs then confirmed that General Bolden was the person Mr. Obama would be interviewing.

“He will meet with him on Monday, and we’ll see how that goes,” Mr. Gibbs said.

NBC News first reported the likely nomination of General Bolden on Thursday evening.

If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, General Bolden would become the first African-American to head NASA. He would begin work as the agency undergoes a major transition, finishing construction of the International Space Station in the next year and a half and then retiring its three space shuttles....(Click for remainder.)


Obama's Military Commission Disaster

By Shayana Kadidal
The Huffington Post

Astonishingly, today President Obama announced that, after two false starts, we are now about to embark on our third attempt at trying terrorism suspects in military commissions--a forum that has been proven not to work at delivering justice that is either swift or fair. Today's mindboggling announcement promised that the system created by one of the last acts of the 2006 Republican congress--the Military Commissions Act (or MCA)--would be revised by Congress to add procedural safeguards before any trials moved forward.

Candidate Obama told us "[a]s President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions." The Administration has struggled today to explaining its about-face, contending that as a Senator Obama had supported alternative versions of the MCA that provided more of the procedural protections he claims he is now adding to the MCA trials. But putting this supposed fairness to one side (and more on that below), the entire concept of military trials for alleged terrorists is a disaster from the standpoint of its impact on the public perception of the United States.

Military trials are, for people living in countries with histories of military rule, redolent of their own periods of dictatorship. Whatever Americans become convinced of regarding their fairness, no one abroad will regard them as any different than President Bush's two rounds of commissions.

That loss of confidence threatens to erode the willingness of ordinary people in foreign countries to work with American law enforcement as their eyes and ears on the ground--just as the same phenomenon happens in our inner cities. It also has the potential to erode the willingness of foreign governments to work with us. Recall that Spain announced after 9/11 that it would not extradite suspects to face trials in the first set of military commissions (the ones created by President Bush in November 2001), and that other European countries have delayed extraditions while assurances were sought that the defendants would be tried in the civilian criminal justice system. Contrast the experience immediately after 9/11, where the trial of the East African embassy bombers in the federal criminal courts in 2000 built the public record necessary to convince the world that simultaneous attacks were a hallmark of Osama bin Laden's organization--and thus allowed the United States to successfully assign blame to Al Qaeda and build a coalition rapidly to intervene against them in Afghanistan. In short, the use of military trial systems threatens our national security....(Click for remainder.)


Bill O'Reilly Raises Hypocrisy to an Art Form

By Ryan Powers
Think Progress

After the Wednesday edition of the O’Reilly Factor, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly complained on his daily “O’Reilly Factor Post Game Show” that, in his view, today’s technology means “we don’t have any privacy at all.” He warned his viewers, “Somewhere along in your life, somebody is going to come up and start snapping pictures of you. If you can, avoid that.” “Nothing good in this high-tech age comes out of anybody intruding on you in that way,” he added. Watch it:

(Click for remainder.)


Dobson on Hate Crimes: Whatever Happened to the 9th Commandment?

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Dear James Dobson:

After reading about your recent broadcast about hate crimes, I have a question:

Whatever happened to the Ninth Commandment?

You know, the one that goes: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

Because here's what you told your audiences about the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009:
The dangerous bill, awaiting Senate consideration, would create a new class of crimes based on the victim's "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Those who speak out against homosexuality, including pastors, could face prosecution for "inciting" violence against gay individuals.
No, they wouldn't. That's a flat-out lie. Here's what the bill says:
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.
The only "right" that this bill infringes upon is the "right" of violent yahoos to seek out victims based on their perceived status as a member of a minority group and commit criminal acts against them. That's the right Dobson is defending here.

You also said this about the bill:
Even more concerning, the legislation could create special protection for pedophiles. Democrats voted down an amendment to the bill that would have excluded pedophilia from the definition of "sexual orientation."
That's a lie too....(Click for remainder.)


A Hallow and Horrible Equivication

By John Cusack
The Huffington Post

If I had the President's Blackberry, I would send this.

President Obama,

On Wednesday you reversed your administration's promise to finally release pictures of detainee abuse.

The release of the photos was won by ACLU lawyers who have fought to bring to light the full extent of the brutality and torture that U.S. Army and intelligence services have perpetrated against human beings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and at CIA "black sites" around the world. Torture that was sanctioned and effectively legalized under the former administration, and that, if we are to be honest, most Americans knew -- or should have known -- was being carried out in our names.

Only now is the knowledge starting to give rise to the widespread outrage and calls for accountability that such crimes against humanity deserve. Growing numbers of citizens are demanding the independent investigation and prosecution of the members of the Bush administration responsible for the vitiation of fundamental legal principles like habeas corpus and the flagrant violation of both international and domestic laws against torture. The pundits, hacks and shills who dismiss these calls for investigation and prosecution -- integral to any serious definition of accountability -- disgrace themselves and their country.

The situation in which we now find ourselves is so bizarre, it's hard to fathom. New revelations continue to surface -- we learn that Vice President Cheney's office ordered and specified how a man was to be tortured, and mounting evidence suggests the United States tortured to extract false confessions that would justify preemptive war on Iraq. Yet a Democratic president leads a Democratic congress to whitewash institutionalized torture and in effect trash any conceivable notion of the rule of law, all in the name of "looking forward."...(Click for remainder.)


Dennis Kucinich: Democrats Were Elected on a Promise to End the War in Iraq


Obama Nominates Polluter Lawyer to Run DOJ Environmental Division...Another WTF Obama Doing Moment

By Brad Johnson
Think Progress

President Barack Obama has nominated a lawyer for the nation’s largest toxic polluters to run the enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws. On Tuesday, Obama “announced his intent to nominate” Ignacia S. Moreno to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice. Moreno, general counsel for that department during the Clinton administration, is now the corporate environmental counsel for General Electric, “America’s #1 Superfund Polluter“:
Number five in the Fortune 500 with revenues of $89.3 billion and earnings of $8.2 billion in 1997, General Electric has been a leader in the effort to roll back the Superfund law and stave off any requirements for full cleanup and restoration of sites they helped create.
This February, General Electric lost an eight-year battle to “prove that parts of the Superfund law are unconstitutional.” One of the 600-person DOJ environmental division’s “primary responsibilities is to enforce federal civil and criminal environmental laws such as” the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Superfund.

Before General Electric, Moreno worked as a corporate attorney at Spriggs and Hollingsworth. Moreno’s name is found in the Westlaw database as an attorney defending General Motors in another Superfund case, the GM Powertrain facility in Bedford, Indiana:
Historical uses and management of PCB containing hydraulic oils and PCB impacted materials has contaminated on-site areas as well as the sediment and floodplain soil within Bailey’s Branch and the Pleasant Run Creek watershed.
Although General Motors entered into an agreement in 2001 with the EPA to clean up the site, a number of local residents whose land has been contaminated by polychorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have sued for damages in Allgood v. GM (now Barlow v. GM), in a contentious and caustic dispute over cleanup, monitoring, and lost property values....(Click for remainder.)


Olbermann's WTF: Gov. Rick "Good Hair" Perry Refuses to Rule Out Secession...Again!


Obama Naming Utah's Republican Governor as Ambassador to China

By Mike Allen

President Barack Obama plans to name Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a rapidly rising star in the Republican Party, as ambassador to China, a senior administration official said.

The move is freighted with political intrigue. Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, quickly emerged after November as one of the leading moderate GOP voices.

Huntsman is often mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, although some of his advisers think the party primary voters will be more prepared to accept his moderate views on the environment and gay rights in 2016.

Huntsman, who met with Obama’s transition team to discuss energy policy, was in Washington on Friday night, ahead of a planned Saturday announcement by the White House, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Several Utah news organizations said the governor will resign and accept the appointment.

Huntsman, 49, served a Mormon mission in Taiwan. The governor and his wife, Mary Kaye, adopted a daughter, Gracie Mei, from China in 1999. In 2006, he led a trade mission to China "because of their prominence on the world stage and the way in which they are growing so rapidly," he told the Deseret Morning News of Salt Lake City.

During last year's Republican primaries, he endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), while his father — businessman Jon M. Huntsman Sr. — endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. It was a politically shrewd move by the son, because the family was covered regardless of which candidate went on to be the nominee. And Huntsman advisers calculated that Romney would be unlikely to install a fellow Mormon in his Cabinet....(Click for remainder.)


Pres. Obama Weekly Address: Two Pillars of a New Foundation


Chalmers Johnson on the Cost of Empire

By Chalmers Johnson

In her foreword to “The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts,” an important collection of articles on United States militarism and imperialism, edited by Catherine Lutz, the prominent feminist writer Cynthia Enloe notes one of our most abject failures as a government and a democracy: “There is virtually no news coverage—no journalists’ or editors’ curiosity—about the pressures or lures at work when the U.S. government seeks to persuade officials of Romania, Aruba or Ecuador that providing U.S. military-basing access would be good for their countries.” The American public, if not the residents of the territories in question, is almost totally innocent of the huge costs involved, the crimes committed by our soldiers against women and children in the occupied territories, the environmental pollution, and the deep and abiding suspicions generated among people forced to live close to thousands of heavily armed, culturally myopic and dangerously indoctrinated American soldiers. This book is an antidote to such parochialism.

Catherine Lutz is an anthropologist at Brown University and the author of an ethnography of an American city that is indubitably part of the American military complex: Fayetteville, N.C., adjacent to Fort Bragg, home of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School (see “Homefront, A Military City and the American Twentieth Century,” Beacon Press, 2002). On the opening page of her introduction to the current volume, Lutz makes a real contribution to the study of the American empire of bases. She writes, “Officially, over 190,000 troops and 115,000 civilian employees are massed in 909 military facilities in 46 countries and territories” She cites as her source the Department of Defense’s Base Structure Report for fiscal year 2007. This is the Defense Department’s annual inventory of real estate that it owns or leases in the United States and in foreign countries. Oddly, however, the total of 909 foreign bases does not appear in the 2007 BSR. Instead, it gives the numbers of 823 bases located in other people’s countries and 86 sites located in U.S. territories. So Lutz has combined the foreign and territorial bases—which include American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Johnston Atoll, the Northern Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands,and Wake Island. Guam is host to at least 30 military sites and Puerto Rico to 41 bases....(Click for remainder.)


Turdblossom Faces Questions Over U.S. Attorneys

By Nedra Pickler
Associated Press via

(WASHINGTON) — Former White House aide Karl Rove faces questions Friday from a special prosecutor weighing whether to bring criminal charges against Bush administration officials for the politically charged firing of U.S. attorneys, a lawyer familiar with the probe says.

Rove, the former adviser who engineered George W. Bush's successful campaigns in 2000 and 2004, has said he will cooperate with the prosecutor's investigation. The inquiry is being conducted to determine whether Bush administration officials or congressional Republicans should face criminal charges in the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. (Read "Karl Rove's Campaign for Himself".)

An attorney told The Associated Press that Rove will be questioned on Friday by the special prosecutor, Nora Dannehy. The attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to talk to the media about the case.

Rove's attorney Robert Luskin declined to comment on the timing of the interview.

Rove and other Republican officials refused to be interviewed in an earlier Justice Department inquiry, which concluded that despite Bush administration denials, political considerations played a part in the firings of as many as four prosecutors.

U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president, but cannot be fired for improper reasons. Bush administration officials at first claimed the attorneys were let go because of poor performance....(Click for remainder.)


The Public Record EXCLUSIVE: Documents Describe Prisoner Abuse Photos Obama is Withholding

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record

U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan took dozens of pictures of their colleagues pointing assault rifles and pistols at the heads and backs of hooded and bound detainees and another photograph showed two male soldiers and one female solider pointing a broom to one detainee “as if I was sticking the end of a broom stick into [his] rectum,” according to the female soldier’s account as told to an Army criminal investigator.

I found the documents that describes many of the photographs that were set for release at the end of the month on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU has been trying to gain access to the photographs for nearly six years. The ACLU obtained the files describing the pictures in 2005 as part of the organization’s wide-ranging Freedom of information Act lawsuit against the Bush administration seeking documents related to the treatment of “war on terror” prisoners in U.S. custody.

Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff attorney, confirmed that the photographs described in documents posted on the group's website were those that President Obama has decided to withhold fearing the disclosure would stoke anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops.

Last September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ordered the prisoner abuse photographs released. The Bush administration challenged the ruling, and in March the court denied that petition. The appeals court also shot down the Bush administration’s attempt to radically expand Freedom of Information Act exemptions for withholding the photos, stating that the Bush administration had attempted to use the FOIA exemptions as "an all-purpose damper on global controversy."

In April, the Obama administration had agreed to release the photos because the Justice Department said it did not believe it could convince the Supreme Court to review the case.

The appeals court panel ordered the 21 photographs taken in Afghanistan and in Iraq that depicts detainees being abuse to be released. About 23 other pictures taken at undisclosed locations in Iraq and Afghanistan were also subject to release....(Click for remainder.)


Disputations: Let's Find Out What Happened

By Rep. Jerrold Nadler
The New Republic

I agree with most of Jeffrey Rosen's commentary on how to proceed with a potential torture investigation ("Truth or Dare"; May 20, 2009), but take issue with some of his conclusions. Yes, indeed: In order to successfully prosecute the authors of the "torture memos"--Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury--a prosecutor would have the burden of proving conspiracy to torture and to contort the law to the authors' ultimate illegal goals. Yes, a prosecutor would have to prove that they were acting in bad faith. And, yes, this would require "smoking gun evidence" that may well be hard to come by. This is all true. And it is all irrelevant.

What this situation demands at this time is not yet prosecution but investigation. And anticipating a difficult case for the prosecution is no reason to forego an investigation. On the contrary, the facts that are already public are more than enough to justify--in fact, to require--a full-fledged investigation of the truth. The law mandates that where torture has been committed under American jurisdiction (which we now know, with certainty, has been the case), a criminal investigation and, where warranted, prosecution must be initiated. The investigation must be independent so that it is entirely removed from politics and freed from actual or perceived conflicts of interest that are inherent in the Justice Department's investigating itself. That is why the law demands the appointment of a special counsel in such a case....(Click for remainder.)


Teabaggers Attempting Train Robbery in Cincinnati

By Living in Gin
Daily Kos

Efforts to build a modest streetcar line in my hometown of Cincinnati are currently under assault by an unholy alliance of Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending or Taxes (COAST) — a vocal right-wing group affiliated with the laughable “Tea Party” protests last month — and the local chapter of the NAACP, whose president, Chris Smitherman, is a political rival of popular mayor Mark Mallory. (Local upstart blog The Phoney Coney reports that Smitherman has a financial stake in opposing the streetcar.) A coalition of these and similar groups are in the process of collecting petition signatures for a ballot initiative that would amend the city’s charter so that no public funds can be spent on rail transit within the city without holding a referendum.

There are some unconfirmed reports in the local blogosphere that members of this coalition are collecting signatures by verbally misrepresenting the nature of the petition, and harvesting hundreds of signatures in bars and nursing homes where people are either too drunk or too confused to know what they are signing. While I strongly encourage the city to pursue every means to challenge the legality of this petition, we have to assume that this initiative will end up on the ballot in November. It is crucial that it be defeated.

While such exercises in direct democracy sound good in theory, more often than not they devolve into mob rule as well-funded special interest groups are able to bypass elected representatives by whipping an ill-informed populace into a frenzy over any manufactured controversy. (See: Proposition 8 or any number of other ballot measures in California.) While other cities are aggressively pursuing federal stimulus funds to build and enhance their public transit, this charter amendment will make it impossible for Cincinnati to act quickly to secure federal funding, and the city’s efforts to rebuild its transit infrastructure — already sorely behind the times — will be set back even further.

And while this particular campaign is being fueled by the streetcar proposal, it will also impact the city’s efforts to build a regional rail system and serve as a destination for intercity passenger trains. A metropolitan area cannot compete in a global economy when its transportation infrastructure is being held hostage by an angry mob of teabag-waving troglodytes....(Click for remainder.)


Obama Renews U.S. Sanctions Against Myanmar

By Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday renewed U.S. sanctions against Myanmar's military government, saying its actions and policies continued to pose a serious threat to U.S. interests.

Obama informed Congress of his decision the same day the United States joined other Western critics in denouncing Myanmar's rulers for pressing what they called "trumped-up" new charges against detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in February the Obama administration was reviewing its policy toward Myanmar and looking at new ways to sway its entrenched military junta.

Washington has gradually tightened sanctions on the generals who have ruled the former Burma for more than four decades to try to force them into political rapprochement with Nobel laureate Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

The opposition won a 1990 election landslide only to be denied power, and Suu Kyi has been in prison or under house arrest for more than half of the last two decades....(Click for remainder.)


A Real Socialist Responds to 'Democrat Socialist Party' Resolution

By David Weigel
The Colorado Independent

I just talked to Frank Llewellyn, the national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, who was understandably nonplussed by the Republican National Committee’s “Democrat Socialist Party” resolution.

“It’s objectionable,” said Llewellyn, “because they’re giving socialism a bad name by associating it with the Democrats, who are the second-most capitalist party in the world. The election of this president, sadly, hasn’t changed that.”

Llewellyn read through the resolution and knocked Republicans for defining “bailouts to Wall Street” as socialism. “This is more evidence of the extremely shallow and surreal socialism that has surfaced in American politics,” he said. “It’s nothing more than name-calling. The authors demonstrate how little they know about what 21st century American socialism is all about. These people make the same mistake that their ancestors did during the New Deal. They mistake a president trying to save capitalism from itself for a president trying to transform capitalism into something different.”

All in all, said Llewellyn, it’s an example of how far Republicans have fallen and why “they’re not going to gain much in the next election cycle.”...(Click for original.)


Al Gore: Cheney 'Shouldn't Be Talking'

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
The Raw Story

Former Vice President Al Gore appears to believe that Dick Cheney is out of line in his non-stop criticisms of the Obama administration for allegedly putting Americans at risk of another terrorist attack. However, he also insists that he doesn’t “want to get dragged into an argument” over the question.

“You talk about somebody that shouldn’t be talking about making the country less safe!” Gore told CNN’s John Roberts on Friday. “Invading a country that did not attack us and posed no serious threat to us at all!”

Gore compared Cheney’s behavior unfavorably with his own actions at at the start of the Bush presidency, saying, “I waited two years after I left office to make statements that were critical.” He later added, however, “That’s a judgment call, and he’s made his judgment.”

Gore insisted that he isn’t personally looking for a fight, because “I’m going to focus on trying to build bipartisan alliances around this country for American leadership to solve the climate crisis. And I don’t want to get dragged into an argument with Dick Cheney about what he’s getting into.”

“He can speak for himself,” Gore said of Cheney, “and I have a feeling that members of his own party wish that he would not do that. But I’ll let that be an argument between him and them. … He has become in many ways the leading spokesman for his party during this period of time — and the message is one that he’s deciding to deliver.”...(Click for remainder.)


Minnesota's GOP Governor Hates Poor People

By Dr. Colossus
Daily Kos

The Minnesota DFL and republican governor Tim Pawlenty are in a stalemate over the $4B budget shortfall for the next biennium.  The DFL wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and raise sin taxes.  Tim Pawlenty wants to cut spending, furlough state workers, and borrow from future payments from the tobacco settlement.  With his eyes set on the republican party nomination for president in 2012, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is planning on closing the states $4B budget shortfall entirely with spending cuts using his line-item veto.

Tim is a full on bush republican.  He's all about pretending to be affable on television while harboring a visceral hatred for the poor and anything the right has decided is "communist."  As a shot across the bow of the DFL legislators, who refuse to acquiesce to his demands to balance the budget with spending cuts, layoffs of state workers, and massive borrowing, he used his line-item veto power to start cutting programs that help the poor.

Specifically his first major cut happens to be for General Assistance  Medical Care, a program that provides very minimal health care to the childless working poor who are ineligible for federal programs.  Over 30,000 Minnesotans take advantage of this program.  Pawlenty used his line-item veto power to cut this $371M program which will now cease to exists as of 2010.  He is suggesting that there will be more cuts to medical assistance programs that provide minimal health care to over a hundred thousand Minnesotans and their children.

The teabaggers of the republican party here love to say that real Minnesotans don't use these programs.  They believe that these programs exist to attract "lazy people from Chicago" who only want to live here for the free handouts from the government.  If you are not from Minnesota you might not know that "people from Chicago" is "Minnesota Nice" for black and hispanic people....(Click for remainder.)


American Public Wants Climate Policy

By Anna Fahey

After reading earlier this week that only 24 percent of Americans know what cap and trade is (and in the same day, that 88 million votes were cast in last week’s round of American Idol), I needed a little pick-me-up. Luckily, it arrived today in the form of new Pew survey numbers indicating strong public support for the essential ingredients of a national cap and trade program. Who cares if people can name the policy—they know what they want.

So, just the US House Energy and Commerce Committee was sharpening their pencils to begin marking up the American Clean Energy and Security Act (a.k.a. Waxman-Markey), Pew Environment Group numbers demonstrate overwhelming support for decisive action on clean energy jobs, energy independence and reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.

To gain bipartisan perspective on American public opinion, Pew commissioned national surveys by The Mellman Group, a leading Democratic firm, and Public Opinion Strategies, a leading Republican firm.

A national survey of likely 2010 general election voters conducted from March 25-29, 2009 by The Mellman Group found:

Americans want action to reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming....(Click for remainder.)


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Obama Names Dr. Thomas Frieder as Director of CDC

By Mark Silva
The Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington -- President Barack Obama today named Dr. Thomas Frieden, currently commissioner of the New York City Health Department, to serve as director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Rich Besser, who has served as an unusually high-profile acting CDC director throughout weeks of government response to the emergence of a new strain of flu, will stay to run the Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, which he has overseen for four years, the White House said today.

"America relies on a strong public health system, and the work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is critical to our mission to preserve and protect the health and safety of our citizens,'' Obama said in a statement issued this morning.

Calling Frieden "an expert in preparedness and response to health emergencies,'' the president said that the New York health commissioner "has been at the forefront of the fight against heart disease, cancer and obesity, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS, and in the establishment of electronic health records'' as well as a "leader'' care in health reform.

"His experiences confronting public health challenges in our country and abroad will be essential in this new role,'' Obama said....(Click for remainder.)



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