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Gen. McChrystal, Grim Reaper: Obama's New Afghan Commander Will Send Death Toll Soaring

Friday, May 22, 2009

By Tom Engelhardt via AlterNet

Stanley McChrystal comes from a world where killing by any means is the norm and a blanket of govt. secrecy provides the necessary protection.

Yes, Stanley McChrystal is the general from the dark side (and proud of it). So the recent sacking of Afghan commander General David McKiernan after less than a year in the field and McChrystal's appointment as the man to run the Afghan War seems to signal that the Obama administration is going for broke. It's heading straight into what, in the Vietnam era, was known as "the big muddy."

General McChrystal comes from a world where killing by any means is the norm and a blanket of secrecy provides the necessary protection. For five years he commanded the Pentagon's super-secret Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which, among other things, ran what Seymour Hersh has described as an "executive assassination wing" out of Vice President Cheney's office. (Cheney just returned the favor by giving the newly appointed general a ringing endorsement: "I think you'd be hard put to find anyone better than Stan McChrystal.")

McChrystal gained a certain renown when President Bush outed him as the man responsible for tracking down and eliminating al-Qaeda-in-Mesopotamia leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The secret force of "manhunters" he commanded had its own secret detention and interrogation center near Baghdad, Camp Nama, where bad things happened regularly, and the unit there, Task Force 6-26, had its own slogan: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." Since some of the task force's men were, in the end, prosecuted, the bleeding evidently wasn't avoided....(Click for remainder.)


Cat Shit One


Siegelman's First Trial Judge Blasts U.S. Prosecutors, Seeks Probe of Unfounded Charges

By Andrew Kreig
The Huffington Post

One of the most experienced federal judges in recent Alabama history is denouncing the U.S. Justice Department prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham calls for a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors ─ including their alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman.

The Siegelman prosecution by the Bush Administration Justice Department is one of the most controversial U.S. criminal cases of the decade because of claims that Republican political appointees ─ sometimes using career prosecutors as public surrogates ─ unfairly targeted the Democratic defendant to prevent his re-election in 2006 as governor.

"The 2004 prosecution of Mr. Siegelman in the Northern District of Alabama was the most unfounded criminal case over which I presided in my entire judicial career," Clemon wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder last week. "In my judgment, his prosecution was completely without legal merit; and it could not have been accomplished without the approval of the Department of Justice."

The remarkable letter by Clemon requests that that Holder investigate misconduct by federal prosecutors arising from Siegelman's 2004 trial on bribery-related charges. Clemon oversaw that trial until prosecutors dropped the case. Prosecutors then shifted their effort against Siegelman to a different Alabama federal district. Prosecutors obtained Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery to preside over the former governor's trial. Fuller hated Siegelman because of his role in appointing an investigator for scandals arising from the judge's controlling interest in the military contractor Doss Aviation, according to on-the-record sources cited in my Huffington Post article published May 15....(Click for remainder.)


Blue Double Cross

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

That didn’t take long. Less than two weeks have passed since much of the medical-industrial complex made a big show of working with President Obama on health care reform — and the double-crossing is already well under way. Indeed, it’s now clear that even as they met with the president, pretending to be cooperative, insurers were gearing up to play the same destructive role they did the last time health reform was on the agenda.

So here’s the question: Will Mr. Obama gloss over the reality of what’s happening, and try to preserve the appearance of cooperation? Or will he honor his own pledge, made back during the campaign, to go on the offensive against special interests if they stand in the way of reform?

The story so far: on May 11 the White House called a news conference to announce that major players in health care, including the American Hospital Association and the lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, had come together to support a national effort to control health care costs.

The fact sheet on the meeting, one has to say, was classic Obama in its message of post-partisanship and, um, hope. “For too long, politics and point-scoring have prevented our country from tackling this growing crisis,” it said, adding, “The American people are eager to put the old Washington ways behind them.”...(Click for remainder.)


Creationist (heh) "Astronomy" (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!)

By Phil Plait
Bad Astronomy @ Discover

Now will 100% more bullshit!!
If it weren’t so freaking irritating, I’d laugh over the video called "Our Created Solar System" presented at a website called Creation Astronomy. As you might expect, it’s purporting to have evidence that the Universe isn’t 13.7 billion years old, but is instead some integrally-multiple number of begats old.

I watched the Jupiter video until all I could hear was a loud buzzing sound punctuated by the word "evolution". Last I recall, evolution was the change in allele frequency over time… Jupiter has chromosomes? Are creationists that confused?

Well, certainly many are, but why ascribe to ignorance what can be ascribed to misdirection? The creator of the video obviously uses the word evolution over and over again because it’s a buzzword likely to sway people predisposed against science to agree with the bizarre version of reality he espouses, even though he must know that evolution has nothing to do with astronomy.

Hmmm. Bear false witness much?

The nonsense pouring forth from those videos would carve the Grand Canyon in just days*. It would be interesting to debunk the garbage presented point by point– in the sense that it would be interesting to slowly push a red-hot knitting needle into my ear — but there’s no need. Debunking that video is like trying to cure chicken pox one scab at a time. It’s all "god of the gaps" nonsense, "science can’t explain this or that", with them always and forever forgetting the one word that changes everything:

"Yet"....(Click for original.)


Why Goldman Sachs is the Greediest and Most Dastardly of the Wall Street Pigs

By Jim Hightower

Goldman holds billions in taxpayer cash, plans for billions in exec bonuses this year, and has powerful friends in Obama's govt. up the wazoo.

No doubt you're going to feel terrible about this. Top executives of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street powerhouse, are in a pout about how they're being treated by you and me -- i.e., the public.

These execs are used to being revered as financial geniuses, but having taken a $10 billion bailout from us taxpayers last fall, they're now widely viewed as ... well, as welfare recipients. Like other welfare checks, the big one that Washington doled out to Goldman Sachs came with some strings attached, causing the chieftains to get all huffy. Especially galling to these princes of privilege is the limit on salaries and bonuses that bailed out banks are allowed to give to those in the executive suites.

Thus, Goldman recently threw a little hissy fit and haughtily declared that it will pay back our $10 billion to get the blankety-blank government out of its private business. Bold move! At last, Wall Streeters are reasserting their rugged, free-enterprise ethic, right?

Uh, not exactly.

What Goldman officials fail to mention is that they'll still be clinging to several other lifeboats floated to them by those skinflint meanies in Washington. For example, when insurance giant AIG was given some $200 billion last year to save it from total collapse, $12 billion of it was actually a pass-through payment to Goldman Sachs. Best of all, this quiet handout did not come with any of those nasty restrictions on executive pay -- so Goldman is happily hanging onto this backdoor subsidy....(Click for remainder.)


Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Dick Cheney's Lies


Fingerprinting Plan Will Dramatically Increase Deportations

'Secure Communities' Would Ensnare Minor as well as Serious Offenders

By Daphne Eviatar
The Washington Independent

The idea of deporting illegal immigrants who are also hardened criminals wouldn’t seem like a controversial idea. So when David Venturella, Executive Director of the Secure Communities Program at Immigration and Customs Enforcement testified to Congress in April, he proudly announced the expansion of his program as part of a “comprehensive effort to increase national security and community safety by identifying, processing, and removing deportable criminal aliens.”

But while there’s strong support for deporting dangerous criminals, federal programs such as this one are extending far beyond that goal and detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants for such minor infractions as running a stop sign or carrying an open container of alcohol.

The Secure Communities program, highlighted in a Washington Post story this week, started as a pilot program by President Bush last year. It requires local police to check the immigration status of everyone booked into a local jail. When suspects are fingerprinted, their identifying information is immediately sent to ICE to determine the suspect’s immigration status. (ICE maintains fingerprint data on all individuals who’ve had contact with immigration authorities.) Undocumented immigrants (and even some immigrants who are legal residents) can eventually be deported after their criminal cases are resolved and any sentence is served. If fingerprints from all 14 million suspects booked into local jails each year were screened this way, DHS estimates, about 1.4 million immigrants would be deemed “criminal aliens” and deportable. By contrast, only 117,000 “criminal immigrants” were deported last year.

But the large numbers of immigrants that could be swept up in the program’s snare is causing serious concern among immigrants’ advocates. Although ICE says its goal is to deport the most serious offenders, under the program, identifying information on all suspects arrested for any sort of alleged crimes will be immediately sent to ICE. If the person shows up in an ICE database as an undocumented immigrant, ICE can place a retainer on the individual — meaning they could begin deportation proceedings against him. So an undocumented immigrant wrongly arrested for a traffic violation could be deported under the Secure Communities initiative as easily as could a convicted felon....(Click for remainder.)


Glenn Beck's Witch Hunt Against ACORN and Barney Frank

By Ellen
News Hounds

Glenn Beck, the man who claims to love his country so much, he keeps bursting into tears at conveniently theatrical moments, went to great lengths to smear a large segment of America while pretending to “investigate” ACORN yesterday (5/21/09). His so-called investigation was more innuendo than information. He repeatedly questioned whether there might be a link between wrongdoing by ACORN's former CEO's brother, ACORN as a whole, the liberal Tides Foundation (which Beck denigrated as radical) and Barney Frank. And yet, Beck didn't even attempt to answer many of his own questions. With video.

During his recent appearance on The View, Beck insisted he's not a reporter but a commentator. But he was sure quacking like someone who thinks he's a reporter during what Fox News called an investigation of ACORN. Oddly, Beck began and ended the segment by attacking Rep. Barney Frank. I guess even Fox couldn't think of a way of working Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers or the ACLU into the smear – yet. Nevertheless, Beck, the incest-fantasizer, seems to take some kind of sadistic pleasure in jeering at Frank.

Beck started by mocking Barney Frank's lisp and then saying, “First, I want to take a look at the organization that he's in cahoots with.” But Beck never established any “cahoots” between Frank and ACORN other than the fact that Frank later said there was no grounds to hold a federal investigation into ACORN. Similarly, Fox subtitled its video (subtitle not seen in the embed below), “Is ACORN linked to Tides Foundation? Barney Frank weighs in.” Actually, no, he didn't.

Beck told about the embezzlement of $1 million dollars by Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder and CEO Wade Rathke. “Law enforcement was never notified. Why?” Beck asked. He didn't bother to try to find out. “Instead, an agreement was negotiated with the Rathke family to pay the money back,” Beck continued, claiming that nobody outside of ACORN would know about the theft so long as the money was returned. “Why?” Beck asked again....(Click for remainder.)


Ed Schultz Kicks Joe Scarborough's Ass

By Bob Fertik

It was a rare pleasure to wake up to Ed Schultz ripping Joe Scarborough to shreds. Ed was particularly good on the faux-controversy over Speaker Pelosi, demanding the name of a single House Democrat who thinks Pelosi should be replaced as Speaker. Of course Joe couldn't name a single one because (1) House Democrats credit Pelosi with putting Democrats in the majority, and (2) because they believe her when she says the CIA lied to her.

Joe (and Mika) continue to be shocked! shocked! that anyone could accuse the CIA of lying. Hey JoeMika - over 4,600 of our bravest sons and daughters are dead and 20 times that number are maimed because the CIA lied!

(Click for original.)


Time to Support the President and Close Guantanamo

By Sen. Patrick Leahy
The Huffington Post

President Obama said in his campaign and he has repeated since the first days of his presidency that we must keep our nation safe and secure, but we must do it in ways consistent with our values. Now that is a sentiment I share, and one that I voiced in hearings and statements for years as well. And to President Obama's credit and to the benefit of the Nation, he has worked since his first day in office to turn these words into action and to make our national security policy and our detainee policy consistent with American laws and American values. And that, in turn, makes us more secure.

I have supported President Obama in these steps, and I will continue to do so. That is why I have voted against amendments to withhold funding to close the Guantanamo detention facility and to prohibit any Guantanamo detainees from being brought to the United States. These amendments undermine the good work the president is doing, and they make us less safe, not safer.

I believe strongly, as all Americans do, that we must take every step we can to prevent terrorism, and we must ensure severe punishments for those who do us harm. As a former prosecutor, I have never shied away from harsh sentences for those who commit atrocious acts. I point out that at times, I've requested -- and gotten -- for people I prosecuted, life sentences where they served without parole.

I believe strongly that we can ensure our safety and security, and bring terrorists to justice, in ways that are consistent with our laws and values. When we have strayed from that approach -- when we have tortured people in our custody, or sent people to other countries to be tortured, or held people for years without even giving them the chance to go to court to argue that they were being held in error -- we have hurt our national security immeasurably. Our allies have been less willing to help our counter-terrorism efforts. That's made our military men and women more vulnerable and our country less safe. Terrorists have used our actions as a tool to recruit new members, which means we must fend off more enemies. Worse still, we have lost our ability to respond with moral authority if other countries should mistreat American soldiers or civilians....(Click for remainder.)


Sen. John Kerry: CIA Lied About Contra-Cocaine Connections

By Ryan Grim
The Huffington Post

House Minority Leader John Boehner pushed on Thursday for a bipartisan panel of lawmakers to investigate the veracity of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her about whether it was waterboarding detainees.

"Her allegation that the CIA lied to her and that they misled Congress ... is a very serious charge," said Boehner (R-Ohio). "The Speaker has had a full week to produce evidence to back up her allegations, and I'm frankly disappointed that she has not done so."

The Central Intelligence Agency would never lie to Congress about breaking the law, would it?

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) knows a little something about that. During the late 1980s, he led a two-and-a-half year investigation into the CIA, the Nicaraguan Contras and cocaine trafficking, and the senator was on the receiving end of CIA deception.

So, would the CIA ever lie?

"In the case of one person who was tried and convicted, they lied. He overtly lied and was prosecuted for it by the government of the United States," said Kerry just off the Senate floor. "He was the director of operations for the region."

The CIA's inspector general later opened a second investigation looking into the matter and also determined that the agency was aware of the Contra involvement in drug trafficking, did nothing to stop it and in fact interceded with the Drug Enforcement Administration to block investigations -- and then misled Congress about it.

Besides drug trafficking, the Contras were also funded by proceeds from illegal arms sales to Iran. The CIA lied to Congress about that too, numerous investigations found....(Click for remainder.)


Explaining the Nation's Non-Reaction to Gay Marriage

By Dan Pashman
The Huffington Post

If a state legalizes gay marriage and nobody notices, can gay people still get married? What if four states do it in six weeks?

As more states legalize same-sex marriage, the lack of outrage is striking. Forget the Armageddon we were promised. There's hardly even been a press conference. It would appear that gay marriage is just not that big a deal anymore and that the Christian right -- long the main source of opposition -- isn't either. Both are scenarios I find encouraging, but I question whether the nation's collective shrug can be fully explained by the natural ebb and flow of politics and social mores. What if neither the Christian right nor the issue of gay marriage was ever as central in American politics as the media or the far right would have had us believe?

There was a time when an inflammatory remark from one of the leaders of the religious right would spark a media feeding frenzy. (Remember when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson blamed 9/11 on gay people? That was leadership.) If you count New Hampshire, where a bill is awaiting the governor's signature, since the beginning of April four states (the other three are Iowa, Maine, and Vermont) have legalized gay marriage. Predictably, speaking on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Robertson reacted to Maine's legalization of gay marriage with an old chestnut: "What about bestiality and ultimately what about child molestation and pedophilia? How can we criminalize these things and at the same time have constitutional amendments allowing same-sex marriage among homosexuals? Mark my words, this is just the beginning of a long downward slide in relation to all the things that we consider to be abhorrent."

Yet nobody seemed to notice Robertson's comments....(Click for remainder.)


Obama vs Cheney: Future vs Past

By Darin Murphy
The Huffington Post

We couldn't ask for a better favor this morning than the one handed to us by Barack Obama and Dick Cheney. At no other time, not even during the election, have we been able to see such a clear juxtaposition between where we are now as a country and where we used to be. Election '08 was little more than a theater of the absurd that ended promptly on November 4th. This morning, however, was real life, a real opportunity to stand in the age of reason and look back vividly on the age of fear, spite and distortion. We saw a current leader and policy maker lay out every detail of what he stands for, what he has done, what he intends to do and refrain from doing and exactly why, whether you agree or not. He grounded his policy stance in his constitutional scholarship and took nothing personally. He made it absolutely clear that his policies will be made in accordance with the rule of law and not the other way around. We learned that Gitmo is not jot one problem but a series of problems, each of which have to be treated differently. He reminded America and the world of the simple truth that nothing is just that simple; that reducing issues to black and white terms while ignoring important details of color will do nothing but endanger us in the long run. And he did so with respect for our troops and our intelligence.

Immediately afterward, we got a healthy dose of nostalgia from 2004, a rehashing of a linear argument that was long ago lost. A man who claimed to have no political agenda opened his remarks with a barb about the length of the Commander-in chief's speech. Indeed, the former vice president's total time at the lectern was maybe a fourth of the president's, but the president had a lot more ground to cover, not to mention a lot more ground to stand on. Cheney's only goal was to defend his torture policies, and apart from that there wasn't really much else he could talk about. He couldn't talk about Iraq, which he only mentioned once in passing, brushing off the whole six-year debacle as "high and low points." He couldn't talk about the real reason he ordered the waterboarding of one guy over 100 times -- to get him to say that Iraq was linked to Al Queda and justify a bogus invasion. He couldn't talk about those things because they're political cyanide, so he had to fill his time with fear-induced anger, inaccurate claims, righteous indignation and cheap shots at Europe. From the outset he played his trump card: 9/11. He played it over and over again as if he and the other 19% of Americans who support him are the only ones who remember it. They aren't....(Click for remainder.)


President Obama Speech on National Security and American Values


Dickhead Cheney Claims Obama is Making the Nation Less Safe Because Torture, Gitmo Made Us Safer

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Darth Cheney spoke today in response to President Obama's morning speech about torture and Guantanamo Bay. As Dave Noon at LGM says, it was "a masterwork of dishonesty founded on the assertion that torture works, that Americans should be proud of and grateful for an administration that broke the law, and that such lawlessness did nothing to undermine the nation's values or moral standing."

Greg Sargent observes:
He called on Obama to use his presidential powers to declassify the intelligence that Cheney says will prove torture worked, ensuring that this debate will continue.

Cheney’s bid for that intel, you’ll recall, was denied by the CIA, because it’s at the center of a separate legal battle. ... This seems like an effort to try and keep this debate going beyond today and to keep the “Obama versus Cheney showdown” meme alive in the media. It’s only a matter of time before Cheney starts saying that Obama’s failure to declassify this info shows that the President has broken his vow of transparency and is refusing to release the info because it proves Cheney is right that torture works.
I'm wondering how Cheney can continue to claim that a torture regime and a horrific facility like Gitmo "kept us safe" when, in fact, we've seen many times over -- recently embodied in the brouhaha over the torture detainee photos' release -- the reality that it has made America less safe over the long haul, because it has inspired the recruitment of a fresh generation of America-hating terrorists. That 2006 National Intelligence Estimate made this point explicitly....(Click for remainder.)


Gretchen Carlson Smears Child Fund International? Again?

By Priscilla
News Hounds

Gretchen Carlson is a devout; but angry Christian. She’s still upset about how The Christian Children’s Fund changed their name and eliminated the word “Christian” from it. Now rather than just putting this under the blood of Jesus and moving on, good Christian Gretchen seems to be obsessing a bit over this – to the point where she, not so subtly, worked in gratuitous smears of Child Fund International during her interview with a man who is director of an aid fund that still, thank the lord, has “Jesus” in the title. On Monday, she interviewed a woman who was just so not going to contribute to Child Fund because of the egregious elimination of the word “Christian” from the group which was once the China Children’s Fund. I realize that there might not be any official commandment breaking here; but isn’t trying to defame a charitable organization, on national TV, a bit – ah – tacky? And not allowing anyone from the godless organization a chance to defend themselves – doesn’t that indicate that the Fox slogan is a lie – which is a commandment breaker. How could good Christian Gretchen work for such a news network?!

Once Fox gets a hold of a talking point, they reinforce it again and again. (Think "The Trouble With Textbooks!) Today’s Fox&Friends had a segement in which Gretchen Carlson was able to weave criticism of Child Fund International within the context of an interview with an appropriately Jesus loving aid group. She started off the segment with a direct hit on Child Fund: “The Christian Children’s Fund has recently decided to drop the word Christian from its name to SUPPOSEDLY broaden its outreach. Is that really necessary? Not for one organization. They’re proving that sticking with the name Jesus pays off.” (Memo to Gretchen: According to the Child Fund, the name change has nothing to do with money. Are you inferring that it did?) She then interviewed Mark Hanlon from Compassion International. The chyron read “Compassion International, Organization Keeps “Jesus” in Tagline.” (See, they’re not bad like the other group). Hanlon said that there have been some suggestions that they could change the name of the group; but they decided against it as it would work against their core values. Carlson found it “really interesting” as she did a prior story about the Children’s Christian Fund and “they felt the same pressure apparently and their board decided to take the word Christian out of their name” (second reference to the blasphemy) “as they said it would increase their donations.” Hanlon was very gracious as he did not use Carlson’s question to critique CFI; but rather discussed how his group functions. Once again, Carlson found it “interesting” and claimed that she has spoken to people who are “going to seek out a charity that did have “Christian” in it.” (Don’t give money to those other bad people!) The chyron read “Pride in Religious Roots, Keeping Jesus as Part of Tagline.” She asked Hanlon how much his donations have gone up during a recession and with "Jesus in your tagline." As he was speaking, the chyron read “Appealing to a Broader Base, Should Charities Drop Christian Ties.” (and the answer is…?) In case you didn’t get it the first two times, the chyron then read “Christian Children’s Fund, Charity Changes Name To Childfund.” As Hanlon spoke of how many children have been helped, the chyron read “Christian Charity Flourishes, Announces 1 Millionth Sponsored Child.” In case you didn’t get it the first couple of times, Carlson reinforced the message by thanking Hanlon and letting the audience know that he “refused to take the name Jesus out of their tagline.” (Not like the “other” one). The title of the video is “In The Lord’s Name.”...(Click for remainder.)


Geopolitics and Democracy

By Matt Yglesias
Think Progress

True, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was democratically elected. But you can discern his authoritarian tendencies in the fact that he had the constitution changed to allow him to run for a second term, and currently he’s working on changing the constitution again to allow for a third term.

Oh, no, wait . . . that’s not Chavez, that’s staunch American ally and brilliant democratic leader Alvaro Uribe in Colombia. The horror.

Which just goes to illustrate a longstanding and bothersome point. In the world you’ve got your countries that are clearly democracies—South Korea, Canada, Portugal. And you’ve also got your countries that are clearly despotic—Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Burma. But you’ve also got an extremely broad class of countries, typically “middle income” countries, where they have elections and competition between political parties but also have a lot of corruption, weak state institutions, and not much in the way of an entrenched tradition of liberalism....(Click for remainder.)


Obama KOs Cheney

By Bob Fertik

Dick Cheney decided to leave the safety of his secret bunker and declare war against President Obama. That was a very big mistake for Cheney, because he got his ass kicked more thoroughly than any politician in history.

Obama was precise, honest, serious, and thoughtful. Cheney was petty, vindictive, sneering, and utterly dishonest - just another Lying Sack of Dog Mess (LSDM).

Obama struggled to find the difficult balance between the Constitution and fighting terrorism. In response, Cheney repeated 8 years worth of lies.

He offered an aggressive defense of Torture, while insisting it was not Torture. He once again insisted it "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people," even though there is absolutely no evidence Torture prevented a single attack.

And he studiously avoided the centerpiece of the Iraq-Torture Scandal - that the main purpose of the torture was not to prevent future attacks but to manufacture lies to justify the invasion of Iraq. In fact Cheney studiously avoided Iraq, except to once again falsely link Iraq to Al Qaeda!
We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
Other reactions:

Josh Marshall: "I think the truest read on Cheney is his cutting and snide anger contrasted with his history of personal cowardice, ducking service in the Vietnam war he himself vociferously supported. Fear and anger are his defining emotions."...(Click for remainder.)


Obama Meets With Civil Liberties Advocates

By David Waldman
Congress Matters

Many of you are aware that President Obama convened a meeting with civil liberties advocates on the issues of the Guantanamo closure, military commissions, etc. The meeting was convened specifically for the purposes of varying the input the President was getting on those issues, in particular, opinion from civil liberties advocates who've been critical of some of his decisions.

Here's Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show, reporting on the meeting:

I sat in on the meeting, and though the understanding was that the substance was off the record, the basics of what was discussed -- and some specifics about the discussion -- have obviously already been reported. The exchange was not unguarded, but I don't think there was any doubt left about where people stood, nor was there much shifting of the ground. As the President's speech this morning makes clear, he feels that the blight of Guantanamo needs to be erased, and the disposition of the status of the detainees needed to be brought as nearly into compliance with traditional practice as possible. But he was also firm in his insistence that there were certain detainees for whom trials in Article III courts were inadequate to the dual demands of justice and public safety. It was equally clear that this wasn't something on which he had universal agreement from the group. I think everyone knew that going in (and indeed, that was part of the purpose of the meeting), and it was still true when we left....(Click for remainder.)


Republicans Think Constitution Was Right to Count Blacks as 3/5ths a Man & Allow Slavery

By Joe Sudbay

I wonder whether Michael Steele agrees with his own organization on this one?

Today, Obama gave his national security speech at the National Archives, which houses the U.S. Constitution. Trying to be clever (which they're not), the RNC tweeted an attack on Obama for his belief that slavery was a "fundamental flaw" in our constitution, we learned via the Media Matters Action Network. Apparently the RNC does not believe that the Constitution was wrong to permit slavery:
RNC: as he prepares to deliver remarks in hall that holds the constitution, flashback obama: "constitution flawed" #RNC [Twitter, 5/21/09]

FACT: Obama Explains The Constitution's "Fundamental Flaw" Was Slavery. The out of context video the RNC links to contains audio from a September 6, 2001 program called "Slavery and the Constitution" on WBEZ Chicago. On the show, Obama explained that the "fundamental flaw" was "Africans at the time were not considered as part of the polity that was of concern to the framers." In addition, the framers did not " as a moral problem involving persons of moral worth." [WBEZ Radio, accessed 5/21/09]

As MMAN notes, George W. Bush, Colin Powell and Condi Rice all said similar things. But, they might not be considered Republicans anymore. It's hard to tell who is and who isn't these days....(Click for remainder.)


Reagan Slams the Oxy-Moron

By Dan Savage
Slog @ The Strange

Rush Limbaugh—drug addict, Viagra user—isn't in a position to mock other people's appearances. But that didn't stop him from suggesting that posting a photo of Nancy Pelosi in "every cheap hotel room in America" would cut the birth rate—because, hey, no man could get it up with Pelosi's ugly mug in the room, right? Ron Reagan Jr. bashes back:
Limbaugh hasn't had a natural erection since the Nixon Administration; think he's compensating for something? Now, I wouldn't pick on him for any of this stuff, not his blubbiness, not his man-boobs, not his inability to have a natural erection—none of that stuff—to me, off limits until! until! Mr. Limbaugh, you turn that sort of gun on somebody else—once you start doing that, you're fair game, fat boy. Absolutely, you jiggly pile of mess. You're just fair game, and you're going to get it, too.
Reagan added that Limbaugh looks like "the unholy spawn of Tony Soprano and the Michelin Man." I'm going to buy Reagan a nice bunch of asparagus the next time I see him at the Sunday Ballard Market....(Click for original.)


Dick Cheney is Crazy. Really.

By Jane Smiley
The Huffington Post

In 2002, my partner was driving his new van down a busy, but two lane, road near our house. He was slowly passing a major accident that crossed both lanes of the road, and it so happened that one of the tow trucks, which was going too fast, ran into the accident, was bounced off the vehicle it hit, and deflected toward my partner's van. It landed on the van. If my partner had been going any more slowly, the tow truck might have landed on him, but it didn't. The van was seriously damaged, but he drove home to tell the tale. And then there was the time, on the same road (though in a different spot), when a cop car making a U-turn in order to commence a car chase, hit him right in the front end. Nevertheless, and this is what I would tell Dick Cheney, we have managed to move on, to set aside our fears of automotive death, and go about our business.

We live in a valley. The road through our valley has been the scene of several horrific accidents since we moved here. We live north of Big Sur. Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast has seen its share of bad crashes, too. The one that sticks in my mind happened a few years ago, when an English couple forgot to pull back into the right lane after road construction and was killed at the next curve. There were accidents when I lived in Iowa, too -- four kids in the family sedan after prom, flipping over into a corn field. Every single person who survives or hears about one of these accidents could, in fact, go the Cheney route -- remain panicked and fearful about the next accident to the point of never driving (or of keeping a hazmat suit in his car, as Cheney was reported doing a few years ago), but most people recognize a couple of realities of modern life. The first of these is that life goes on. The second of these is that it doesn't.

Let's give Dick Cheney the benefit of the doubt. Let's say that he's terrified out of his wits that the US could be attacked again, like 9/11 (except there are no Trade Towers, so no attack like 9/11). What did we learn about 9/11? We learned that it happened (in large part because the Bush Administration ignored a clear warning that it could happen) and we also learned that we survived it. The other thing that most of us learned was in that in our fear and anger as a nation, we allowed our leaders (especially Cheney) to inflict on others, many others, much more death, pain, torture, horror, social disintegration, and gratuitous cruelty than was inflicted upon us. We learned that Cheney didn't know what the hell he was doing in his terrified effort to do something, anything, to respond to 9/11. And that's if we give him the benefit of the doubt....(Click for remainder.)


Gallup Polls Public Approval on Innocent Bystanders, but Not Torturers

By Marcy Wheeler
Emptywheel @ Firedoglake

You guys are all really smart people. So here's a quiz. What's wrong with this picture?

I know. Too easy: Gallup apparently decided to poll who was winning the battle of torture public opinion.

And forgot to poll public approval on the actual torturers!

I don't have the crosstabs or actual questions, but by all appearances, Gallup asked,
Do you approve or disapprove of how each of the following has handled the matter of interrogation techniques used against terrorism suspects?
  • Barack Obama
  • The CIA
  • Democrats in Congress
  • Republicans in Congress
  • Nancy Pelosi
I'm sorry to be crude, but was it Crazy Pete Hoekstra or Dick Cheney himself who sucked your dick, Gallup, to persuade you to do this poll?  Because there's really no other legitimate excuse for this poll. You didn't poll on approval on the "handling of interrogation techniques used against terrorism suspects" for:
  • Dick Cheney, the architect and main apologist of the torture program
  • James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the contractors who had no experience in interrogation, but nevertheless made big money off of torturing prisoners
  • John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, who wrote crazy legal opinions to pre-authorize torture
  • The torturer who said he used more water than legally permitted because that made the whole process "more poignant and convincing" 
  • Alberto Gonzales, who was giving daily, meticulous approvals for torture even before it had been declared "legal"
(Click for remainder.)


US Credit Card Debt

By R.J. Matson
Roll Call


Turning the Page

By J.D. Crowe
The Mobile Register


Obama says, "There will be NO prosecutions of Bush Administration"


Buchanan, Peters Calls Cheney Speech "Candid," "Accurate" Despite All the Discredited Bullshit

By Media Matters

Despite several discredited claims made by former Vice President Dick Cheney during his May 21 speech to the American Enterprise Institute, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan subsequently referred to Cheney's remarks as "candid." Similarly, Fox News contributor Ralph Peters said of the speech, "every single point he raised was accurate. I am 100 percent behind him on this, because he's right." During his remarks, Cheney offered discredited assertions with respect to the relationship between interrogation techniques used at the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and Abu Ghraib prison; whether detainees provided information without the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques"; and whether Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair supports the use of those techniques.

For instance, Cheney claimed that "there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations." He continued: "At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America's cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men."

However, as Media Matters for America documented, contrary to Cheney's claim that Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo were unfairly compared, a 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report released jointly by chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) concluded that "Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task Force (TF) interrogation policies were influenced by the Secretary of Defense's December 2, 2002 approval of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at GTMO [Guantánamo]. SMU TF interrogation policies in Iraq included the use of aggressive interrogation techniques such as military working dogs and stress positions. SMU TF policies were a direct cause of detainee abuse and influenced interrogation policies at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq."...(Click for remainder.)



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