Thursday Mashup 10/18/12

October 18, 2012
  • I give you The Daily Tucker (here)…

    Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. No doubt, the billions spent on the act have improved overall water quality. Yet as someone who regularly rowed on Washington, D.C.’s Potomac River during college, I know that the Clean Water Act and the EPA are still in murky water.

    The author then goes on to lament the fact that storm runoff (i.e., trash) ends up in the Potomac, which he encounters while rowing. So, for that reason, he considers the Clean Water Act “40 years of inefficient solutions.”

    Seriously.

    Now I don’t know how culpable the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (DCWSA) is for this circumstance (that is where the author squarely lays the blame). However, the author also tells us that he’s a member of the Property and Environment Research Center (note the order of “property” and “environment,” by the way) which, as noted here, “(is linked) to a long list of the country’s most powerful right-wing foundations and organizations committed to deregulation of industry and to the privatization of public assets” (David Currie, the author of this piece, keeps harking back to “market-based solutions,” which for our purposes here is wingnut code for letting business do whatever it wants).

    However, I think it’s still idiotic to consider the Clean Water Act to be a “failure” focus solely on the ongoing pollutions challenges not addressed by the Clean Water Act (here); Obama Administration EPA head Lisa Jackson, citing the Act’s accomplishments here, said it “has kept tens of billions of pounds of sewage, chemicals and trash out of the nation’s waterways during the past 40 years. The federal law, which includes regulations governing drinking water and requiring improvements in the environmental health of rivers, lakes and seas, has dramatically improved both human health and the environment.”

    Also concerning the Act, this tells us that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has encouraged Congress to reauthorize the CWA; I guess Boehner, Cantor, Mikey the Beloved and their pals won’t do it because they consider it to be an unwarranted regulatory intrusion, or something. In addition, the National Clean Water Network tells us here what new assaults the life forms running the U.S. House are planning against the Act and the environment overall (with this Romney advisor telling us he, and by extension, his party’s presidential nominee, wants to “reverse this trend of ownership of public lands,” as if that’s supposedly so awful).

    I guess this is par for the Repug course when you consider that the law was originally vetoed here by then-president Richard Nixon because it was supposedly too expensive, which prompted a statesman-like response from Sen. Ed Muskie, asking what the “cost” was for our health and a safe environment.

    And while I wish Number 44 would distance himself from his electoral opponent on this issue, this tells us that “stim” funds were committed to cleanup of our waterways, and here, Dem Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, introduced H.R. 6249 – the Water Protection and Reinvestment Act in the House of Representatives, legislation to “establish a Clean Water Trust Fund, which is revenue neutral, does not add to the federal debt, (and raises) approximately $9 billion a year for the Trust Fund.”

    However, given this, do you honestly believe “Orange Man” and his pals will budge one inch in favor of doing the right thing?

  • Also, did you know that Mr. “Binders Full of Women” is supposedly better on LGBT Issues than Obama? The author of this piece says so anyway (sticking with The Daily Tucker)…

    While we applaud President Obama for supporting the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — a failed policy that Governor Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan have said they will not reinstate — and while we give President Obama credit for coming to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality, the truth is that Obama’s administration has been devastating for average gay people and their families.

    Really? Why, just stick a rainbow decal from that Toyota Sienna minivan on my forehead and Color Me Shocked!

    How can that be, given that Romney and his running mate, Mr. Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv, both support the ridiculous Defense of Marriage Act, as noted here (well, Mitt was better on this in 1994, as noted here, opposing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and supporting the Employee Non-Discrimination Act – I guess he “shook that Etch-a-Sketch” and came up with a new answer…and isn’t this interesting concerning DOMA?).

    This takes us to a Think Progress post asking Romney six questions on LGBT issues that he should answer (and answering in the affirmative would definitely go against his party’s platform, such as it is). But until Romney does answer them (and holds to that answer without changing his mind for at least five minutes), there’s no reason to take him seriously on this subject.

    And as long as we’re discussing the Repug presidential nominee, I think this column asks a very good question (and one that definitely should be discussed in the debates – maybe for the last one I hope), and that is how Willard Mitt feels about torture (he can even call it “enhanced interrogation” if he wants – I have to tell you, though, that I think the answer is here, and it’s not a good one).

    Related to that item, I give you this, telling us about some of the “war heads” who would likely comprise a Romney foreign policy team, including PNAC’s Eliot Cohen, “Baghdad” Dan Senor, and Cofer Black of the aptly-named (but no longer – currently “XE”) Blackwater, along with former Bushie John Lehman and someone named Pierre Prosper.

    But as far as Romney and foreign policy goes (and tied to his utter debate flameout on Libya), this tells us about more of Willard Mitt’s “do as I say, not as I do” BS.

  • Further, I give you “Pastor” Gerson of the WaPo, lecturing the Dems (Biden in particular) on “civility” here (a bit behind in the news cycle on this, I’ll admit)…

    At the height of a close election, it is worth a reminder that civility is the essential democratic virtue. Civility is not the same thing as niceness. The high stakes of politics can produce intense disagreements. But manners — even cold, formal ones — communicate a modicum of mutual respect and preserve the possibility of cooperation. John Stuart Mill called democracy “government by discussion.” Biden has left our discussion more toxic — and Obama’s task more difficult.

    Of course, this was written before the Tuesday debate, it should be noted.

    This is the same Michael Gerson, by the way, who once said here that President Obama was “delusional” and the reconciliation process (used by both parties and embraced by that fine, upstanding Roman Catholic Repug VP nominee) was “dirty.” Also, the same Gerson held up “Straight Talk” McCain as a supposed model of civility here, even though McCain once asked “how do we beat the bitch?” in reference to Hillary Clinton (when “Senator Honor and Virtue” thought she would be the ’08 Dem presidential nominee), and said that Chelsea Clinton was “ugly” because “her father was Janet Reno.”

    I give you another lesson in wingnut code; when Gerson and his ilk talk about “civility,” what that means is a Democrat is supposed to sit down, shut up, and let a Repug take charge.

  • Finally, turning to sports, this tells us that Spencer Hawes, who I believe is still with the Sixers (haven’t found evidence to the contrary), has taken to the Twitter thingie to endorse Romney.

    Which I would care less about, were it not for the fact that he did it like this:

    Hawes made it clear earlier this year that he is not a supporter of noted basketball fan President Obama, or of the president’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. When the Supreme Court handed down its ruling that the healthcare reform legislation is constitutional in June, Hawes tweeted: “Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave. We might as well be in Russia in 1983.”

    He went on to refer to the Obama administration as communist in several tweets, and added:

    Just drove by a bald eagle who appeared to be crying. Coincidence @BarackObama?

    Ha and ha, wingnut.

    Oh yes, Hawes is so “established” that they traded for Andrew Bynum and his questionable knees and signed the human punch line that is Kwame Brown (here).

    When it comes to playing center for the Sixers, if Hawes is the answer, then the question is too scary to contemplate (just add him to the list of failed centers for that team – Matt Geiger, Jeff Ruland coming off injury, etc.).

    In the meantime, tells Hawes to try driving the lane against Dwight Howard the next time he opposes the Lakers.

    And then let me know when I should call 911.

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    A Double-Barreled Dubya Disgrace

    September 14, 2009

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    Via HuffPo, this article from The Atlantic last Friday tells us the following…

    (Last) Thursday’s annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care-the Bureau’s principal report card on the well-being of average Americans-closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush.

    It’s not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride.

    On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush’s two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country’s condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton’s two terms, often substantially.

    Bush’s record on poverty is equally bleak. When Clinton left office in 2000, the Census counted almost 31.6 million Americans living in poverty. When Bush left office in 2008, the number of poor Americans had jumped to 39.8 million (the largest number in absolute terms since 1960.) Under Bush, the number of people in poverty increased by over 8.2 million, or 26.1 per cent. Over two-thirds of that increase occurred before the economic collapse of 2008.

    The trends were comparably daunting for children in poverty. When Clinton left office nearly 11.6 million children lived in poverty, according to the Census. When Bush left office that number had swelled to just under 14.1 million, an increase of more than 21 per cent.

    The story is similar again for access to health care. When Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million. By the time Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 per cent.

    The trends look the same when examining shares of the population that are poor or uninsured, rather than the absolute numbers in those groups. When Clinton left office in 2000 13.7 per cent of Americans were uninsured; when Bush left that number stood at 15.4 per cent. (Under Bush, the share of Americans who received health insurance through their employer declined every year of his presidency-from 64.2 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per cent in 2008.)

    When Clinton left the number of Americans in poverty stood at 11.3 per cent; when Bush left that had increased to 13.2 per cent. The poverty rate for children jumped from 16.2 per cent when Clinton left office to 19 per cent when Bush stepped down.

    So the summary page on the economic experience of average Americans under the past two presidents would look like this:

    Under Clinton, the median income increased 14 per cent. Under Bush it declined 4.2 per cent.

    Under Clinton the total number of Americans in poverty declined 16.9 per cent; under Bush it increased 26.1 per cent.

    Under Clinton the number of children in poverty declined 24.2 per cent; under Bush it increased by 21.4 per cent.

    Under Clinton, the number of Americans without health insurance, remained essentially even (down six-tenths of one per cent); under Bush it increased by 20.6 per cent.

    The article also provides comparative information on the presidencies of Poppy Bush and The Sainted Ronnie R, though I would argue that that doesn’t help Dubya at all (I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that real income grew under Reagan, though so did both childhood and adult poverty).

    Also, the New York Times published an extensive feature article yesterday on water pollution focusing on Charleston, West Virginia, though a series of articles will follow this one focusing on other states…

    Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

    In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

    Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

    “How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

    She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.

    “How is this still happening today?” she asked.

    An excellent question – basically, what we learn from the article is that we’d made a lot of progress in water cleanup efforts until about the last ten years or so, when everything started to slide backwards (we also learn about how politicians have taken their marching orders from the polluters to fire inspectors for trying to do their jobs; the story tells us about a man named Matthew Crum who suffered this fate – as far as I’m concerned, Crum is a great American).

    And a big reason why we’ve fallen down on water safety is as follows (you knew what was coming, didn’t you?)…

    Enforcement lapses were particularly bad under the administration of President George W. Bush, (E.P.A.) employees say. “For the last eight years, my hands have been tied,” said one E.P.A. official who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. “We were told to take our clean water and clean air cases, put them in a box, and lock it shut. Everyone knew polluters were getting away with murder. But these polluters are some of the biggest campaign contributors in town, so no one really cared if they were dumping poisons into streams.”

    The E.P.A. administrators during the last eight years — Christine Todd Whitman, Michael O. Leavitt and Stephen L. Johnson — all declined to comment.

    Of course – however, the following should also be noted…

    In statements, E.P.A. officials noted that from 2006 to 2008, the agency conducted 11,000 Clean Water Act and 21,000 Safe Drinking Water Act inspections, and referred 146 cases to the Department of Justice. During the 2007 to 2008 period, officials wrote, 92 percent of the population served by community water systems received water that had no reported health-based violations.

    The Clean Water Act, (lawmakers and environmentalists say), should be expanded to police other types of pollution — like farm and livestock runoff — that are largely unregulated. And they say Congress should give state agencies more resources, in the same way that federal dollars helped overhaul the nation’s sewage systems in the 1970s.

    Some say changes will not occur without public outrage.

    “When we started regulating water pollution in the 1970s, there was a huge public outcry because you could see raw sewage flowing into the rivers,” said William D. Ruckelshaus, who served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Richard M. Nixon, and then again under President Ronald Reagan.

    “Today the violations are much more subtle — pesticides and chemicals you can’t see or smell that are even more dangerous,” he added. “And so a lot of the public pressure on regulatory agencies has ebbed away.”

    And as noted here, The Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR has played a particularly nefarious role in all this, especially in the ruling linked to above which overturned a Court of Appeals verdict and allowed 4.5 million tons of lethal mining waste to be dumped into Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake, with the full knowledge that doing so would exterminate all life in the lake (somehow, though, The Supremes, by a 6-3 ruling… Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens dissented…determined that doing this was “less environmentally damaging than other options” – yep, you read that correctly).

    Fortunately, the Clean Water Restoration Act was introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold here; no vote has been scheduled yet, but one should be with all speed (so many Bushco screwups to fix, so little time, I know).

    Finally, in a Bushco-related matter, The Philadelphia Inquirer decided to give column space to Torture Yoo again today (the appropriate takedown from Will Bunch via Atrios is here).

    Bunch takes on the main issue of Yoo’s past culpability head-on, of course (with Yoo weighing in against the upcoming Holder investigation of course – pathetic that the Inky doesn’t realize that they’re allowing Yoo to, in essence, try to obstruct justice), though Yoo pointed out something of lesser significance in his column that I still want to address anyway…

    Henry L. Stimson, secretary of state under President Herbert Hoover, once explained the shuttering of the United States’ only code-breaking unit with these words: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” Unfortunately, we do not live in a world of gentlemen. Stimson realized this in his next cabinet post, as FDR’s secretary of war on the day of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

    In response, I give you the following from this interesting article about U.S. code breakers during World War II…

    Fifty years ago–and more than a year before Pearl Harbor–Americans scored one of their most brilliant victories of World War II.

    The commander was a Russian immigrant and sometime geneticist named William Frederick Friedman. The nature of the battle might be suggested by Friedman’s intense interest once in the 50,000-word novel “Gadsby,” which Ernest Vincent Wrigh wrote without using the letter “e.” Friedman’s troops were a motley assemblage of academics, math wizards and puzzle freaks. With a left-handed assist from William Shakespeare.

    Together, after 18 baffling months of dead-end days and floor-walking nights that temporarily collapsed Friedman into a mental ward, they broke the Japanese diplomatic code.

    Their collective genius did not foil, of course, the sneak Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States actively into the war. Crossed and sometimes disconnected wires in American intelligence enabled that. But code breaking by Friedman, et al., laid the groundwork for the pivotal victory of the U.S. fleet at Midway in June, 1942. Indeed, code breaking was an essential ingredient of the Allies’ ultimate triumph.

    Yes, the quote from Stimson is accurate, though how Yoo could claim to know what Stimson “realized” 78 years ago is laughable (and assuming some fault lies with Stimson for Pearl Harbor – which, to me, is debatable at best – I cannot think of a word for the egomania of someone criticizing past history who belonged to a regime that had its own problems with “crossed and sometimes disconnected wires in American intelligence,” to the point where the result of that circumstance was observed just about eight years ago today).

    Update 9/15/09: Yep, this egotistical jackass would know all about “five-spiral crashes,” wouldn’t he?

    Update 9/23/09: Of course…


    Monday Mashup Part 1 (8/31/09)

    August 31, 2009

    Terra

  • I guess you can file this under a new category for this site called “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.”

    With all of the back-and-forth from former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge about whether or not he was pressured by Bushco to mess around with the “color-coded alert” system (he admitted he was here, but more recently, he seemed to be “walking back” that one here), I realized that it was incumbent upon yours truly to be more aware of developments concerning this vital function of our government (and I feel much better about the fact that this is now under the control of Janet Napolitano versus Mike “City of Louisiana” Chertoff).

    So, to what corporate media outlet should I venture to satisfy my thirst for knowledge? Why, Fix Noise of course!

    And as I looked over their site’s special section on Homeland Security, I found the following:

    Dubya_DHS
    As you can see, they are stuck in a pre-1/21/09 time warp.

    And that reminds me of the quote that Jessica Lange, portraying the legendary country music singer Patsy Cline in “Sweet Dreams,” once uttered to her husband Charley Dick, played by Ed Harris: “Well, people in hell want ice water; that don’t mean that they get it.”

  • jeb21rq

  • And speaking of the Bushes, Michael Barone wrote the following today at creators.com about the Kennedys (there’s a connection I think, and I’ll get to it; the title of Barone’s piece is “The End of America’s Experiment With Royalty”)…

    Other political families — the Adamses, the Harrisons, the Tafts — produced multiple generations of national politicians but generated nothing like mass enthusiasm. The sons of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt set out on political careers but never got very far.

    The Kennedy boys — John, Robert and Edward — were different. They won three elections to the House, 12 elections to the Senate and one to the presidency. From 1960 to 1980, they were major presences, active or off to the side, in every presidential contest.

    The next generation of Kennedys has had mostly disappointing political careers. Joe Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy made it to Congress; Kathleen Townsend and Mark Shriver failed to do so; Maria Shriver made it to the governor’s mansion in Sacramento, but Townsend failed to do so in Annapolis; Caroline Kennedy will not follow her father and uncles in the Senate.

    I suspect the royal status the Kennedys temporarily achieved in our democratic republic will seem bizarre to future generations. Perhaps it already does even for those of us who can remember the 1960s.

    I realize that the whole “royalty” thing concerning the Kennedys is all “sooo sixties,” as Barone observes (as in the “Mad Men” era as opposed to the Woodstock era), but there are some who believe that there is still somewhat of a legend concerning another family that has lived in the presidential spotlight for twelve years, including the last eight. And it’s not as if Barone hasn’t done his part to perpetuate that “dynasty” also.

    This tells us of Barone urging Dubya to appoint his brother Jeb as a “special envoy to the Americas” (with Barone channeling Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council for the Americas), and this tells us of Barone urging Florida governor Charlie Crist to appoint Jeb Bush as a senator to fill the seat vacated by Mel Martinez prior to a special election (at least Ted Kennedy won his seat in ’62 in another special election without benefit of an appointment…I had some thoughts on Jeb Bush also here).

    I wonder if the fact that Barone has taken it upon himself to act as the Jeb Bush Employment Agency “will seem bizarre to future generations” also?

  • mccain_two

  • And finally, this story tells us that Sen. John McCain…

    …(said) his private comments about harsh interrogation methods were misrepresented by the Bush Administration in a recently released legal document intended to justify a six-day course of sleep deprivation for one CIA detainee in November 2007…

    The newly declassified memo by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel mentions a secret briefing McCain and other members of Congress received sometime before Oct. 17, 2006. The memo says the lawmakers were told about six CIA interrogation techniques, including prolonged sleep deprivation.

    The memo recounts McCain’s reaction this way: “[S]everal Members of Congress, including the full memberships of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and Senator McCain, were briefed by General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, on the six techniques that we discuss herein,” writes Steven G. Bradbury, a deputy assistant attorney general in the July 20, 2007, memo, which cites a CIA summary of the discussions. “In those classified and private conversations, none of the Members expressed the view that the CIA detention and interrogation program should be stopped, or that the techniques at issue were inappropriate.” (See TIME’s photos: “The (Mis)Adventures of the CIA.”)

    A spokeswoman for McCain said that contrary to those claims, the Arizona Republican repeatedly raised objections in private meetings, including one with Hayden, about the use of sleep deprivation as an interrogation technique. “Senator McCain clearly made the case that he was opposed to unduly coercive techniques, especially when used in combination or taken too far – including sleep deprivation,” says Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for McCain.

    It’s commendable that Sen. McCain voiced his objections to sleep deprivation as a “harsh interrogation method” (again, assuming his spokeswoman is telling us what really happened). However, as noted here from February ’08…

    …Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war, has spoken strongly in favor of implementing the Army Field Manual standard (for all intelligence agencies also…a standard that bans water boarding, by the way). When confronted today with the decision of whether to stick with his conscience or cave to the right wing, McCain chose to ditch his principles and instead vote(d) to preserve water boarding:

    I realize our corporate media would collectively wet its metaphorical pants, as it were, as opposed to calling out this man on such inconsistencies (I’d give fluffyhead David Gregory a picture of our 7th president if he ever did that), so it is up to us filthy, unkempt liberal blogger types such as yours truly to do so.

    McCain deserves our eternal thanks and gratitude for his sacrifice on behalf of our country. But that doesn’t mean that, when it comes to his votes in public service, the “hero” narrative should obscure some rather craven political calculation that ends up endangering our military, which would be more subject to the “harsh methods” we used on others in defiance of laws we signed ourselves years ago.


  • A “Tortuous” Cheap Shot On Patrick Murphy

    May 27, 2009

    baby,crying,tantrum-thumb(I know I just used this graphic a few days ago, but it fits again.)

    This item made the “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” section of the Bucks County Courier Times last Friday while we were away, but it was too pathetic to ignore….

    (Thumbs Down) To Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy, who seems to have lost the will or the ability to speak for himself. Pretty much every time a reporter calls Murphy for comment, we hear from a “spokesman” instead.

    The latest non-comment came in response to a question about Murphy’s reported attendance at two CIA briefings on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, otherwise known as torture. Our reporter called Murphy because of the firestorm raging over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s allegation that the CIA “lied” during briefings she attended with lawmakers.

    It would be nice to hear from Murphy on that raging national issue. His perspective would be appreciated, given his attendance at the CIA meetings and his experience in Iraq.

    Instead, Murphy’s spokesman confirmed only that Murphy attended “a number of intelligence briefings + but cannot disclose what was discussed.”

    No surprise there. Doesn’t seem like the congressman cares to disclose much of anything to constituents via his hometown newspaper.

    WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

    This is truly sad even by the wretched, Dem-liberal-progressive-bashing standards of this newspaper.

    Let’s back up for a minute and try to establish a chronology, OK?

    In September 2002 (according to an interview with Rachel Maddow), Pelosi said that she was told that “enhanced interrogation techniques” were being considered by Bushco, and there was a legal rationale in place for these techniques (here), and this (NY Times content) tells us that she was told in 2003 that those techniques were being used.

    And it bears repeating again that the briefings in which Pelosi and others learned of this were confidential; the only recourse for Pelosi and/or others who may have objected was to bring their concerns directly to a White House that considered Congress a subsidiary of sorts to the executive branch anyway.

    And was Patrick Murphy serving in Congress at that time? Uh, no – he was deployed to Bosnia in 2002 and Iraq in 2003 with the U.S. Army (as noted here).

    Who was serving in Congress at the time, representing PA’s 8th Congressional District? Why, that would be Repug Jim Greenwood, who, as noted here, served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in which he “led investigations and held hearings on a variety of issues within the vast jurisdiction of the Committee including corporate governance, bioterrorism, port and border security.” So, if anyone was also likely to be briefed on the techniques Pelosi mentioned, it would be Greenwood (or, at least, he should have been given his leadership position).

    Why doesn’t the Courier Times follow up with our former House rep to find out if HE wants to “disclose much of anything to (his former) constituents via his hometown newspaper” instead?


    Is the Repug Torture House Of Cards “Fallin Down”?

    May 15, 2009

    M_Fallin_92fallin1Yesterday here at The Hill, Repug Congressional rep Mary Fallin told us the following…

    The American Civil Liberties Union is outraged that President Obama has violated one of his campaign assurances to the left by declining to release photographs that purport to show terrorist detainees being abused. The planned release of the photographs was the result of an ACLU court action, and it is the ACLU’s clear position that the need to expose past wrongdoing entirely trumps any potential harm that such exposure might cause.

    That is nonsense.

    No one is condoning prisoner abuse. In fact, the Pentagon is taking appropriate steps to punish the very small number of troops who might have participated in such misconduct and to ensure no further instances occur. We can pursue justice, however, without releasing images that will surely be used as a weapon against the United States.

    In response, allow me once more to link to Keith Olbermann’s interview with former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who, for a time, was commander of three large U.S.-and-British-led prisons in Iraq, as well as eight battalions and 3,400 soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve. She makes it clear even to individuals such as Rep. Fallin that the supposed “very small number of troops” engaged in criminal actions received their orders directly from the top of what passed for the Bushco chain of command (and by the way, this is a follow-up to yesterday’s post here).

    And I took a closer look at Rep. Fallin as a result of her remarks, and though she’s pretty much emblematic of what passes for a Repug these days, there are still some interesting highlights:

  • This tells us that she aided and abetted the “teabaggers,” along with many others of her party.
  • This tells us that she went nuts over the DHS report on extremist groups from Secretary Janet Napolitano (hitting a little too “close to home,” I guess), without noting that the report included left wing extremist groups also.
  • This tells us that Fallin responded to the notion of the dollar being replaced as the major reserve currency in the world by supporting a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would disallow a foreign currency replacing the dollar as legal tender in the USA (hat tip to the blog “Kids Prefer Cheese”); even though the “global currency” rumor is admittedly silly (as was Fallin’s response), there are countries, most notably China, who are looking to valuate against a “basket” of currencies as opposed to the dollar, as Nouriel Roubini noted in the New York Times on Wednesday.
  • This tells us that Fallin was one of the House reps who changed her vote on the Wall Street bailout from “no” to “yes.”
  • This contains more about her voting record, noting that, among other things, she voted against the “cramdown” legislation to help people restructure their mortgages, the “Pay for Performance Act” in the matter of executive compensation, the stimulus (of course), SCHIP, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act, relief for the Alternative Minimum Tax, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act, extension of unemployment insurance, the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, and on and on and on.
  • I realize that all of this is pretty typical of a Repug, but Fallin does stand out in one way that many of them don’t.

    And that is over this from October 2006, in which Fallin “…kissed and had inappropriate contact with (a) state employee,” an Oklahoma State Trooper who eventually resigned (Some funny business from the “Family Values” Party? OMIGOD!). However, Fallin ended up winning election to Congress afterwards, and after a stint as lieutenant governor, is now a candidate in next year’s gubernatorial election.

    Oh, and one more thing: in her “Hill” column, Fallin notes the 1949 quote from former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson about the Constitution becoming a “suicide pact” in Jackson’s dissent concerning a free-speech case. As noted here, though, Judge Harold Baer added the following to that phrase, in a ruling against a New York ordinance banning the wearing of masks in public…

    “[T]he rational and measured exercise of jurisprudence must be zealously sustained even in time of war, including the war on terrorism.”

    Judge Baer, by the way, was, in essence, ruling in favor of the KKK’s right to demonstrate. And if the odious activities of that group are still permitted as long as they only intend to march and do no other harm (even though their very existence poses a threat of violence), then I would say that anyone opposing the release of the latest round of torture photos (claiming that violence would also ensue against our military or foreign service personnel) is standing on what is, at best, shaky legal ground.


    Russ Feingold Takes On “Deadeye Dick”

    May 14, 2009

    So “enhanced interrogation methods” work, huh? Try selling that to the senator from Wisconsin (h/t The Daily Kos).


    Cohen “Catapults The Propaganda” Of The “Past”

    January 27, 2009

    waterboarding
    Witness one of our premier corporate media hacks in action today in the WaPo, where he tells us this…

    “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” So goes an aphorism that needs to be applied to the current debate over whether those who authorized and used torture should be prosecuted. In the very different country called Sept. 11, 2001, the answer would be a resounding no.

    Around the same time, historian Jay Winik wrote about the usefulness of torture, how Philippine agents in 1995 got a certain Abdul Hakim Murad to reveal a plot to blow up 11 American airliners over the Pacific and send yet another plane, this one loaded with nerve gas, into CIA headquarters in Langley. After being beaten nearly to death, Murad was finally broken by the hollow threat to turn him over to Israel’s Mossad.

    It would behoove Richard Cohen to read this post from TomPaine.com, in which we learn the following (sourcing Cohen’s own newspaper, by the way)…

    Advocates of the ticking bomb (theory) often cite the brutal torture of Abdul Hakim Murad in Manila in 1995, which they say stopped a plot to blow up a dozen trans-Pacific aircraft and kill 4,000 innocent passengers. Except, of course, for the simple fact that Murad’s torture did nothing of the sort. As The Washington Post has reported, Manila police got all their important information from Murad in the first few minutes when they seized his laptop with the entire bomb plot. All the supposed details gained from the sixty-seven days of incessant beatings, spiced by techniques like cigarettes to the genitals, were, as one Filipino officer testified in a New York court, fabrications fed to Murad by Philippine police.

    Cohen continues…

    (The Murad case took place in) the other country called the Past. In the country called the Present, certain people are demanding that the torturers and their enablers be dragged across the time border and brought to justice.

    The best suggestion for how to proceed comes from David Cole of Georgetown Law School. Writing in the Jan. 15 New York Review of Books, he proposed that either the president or Congress appoint a blue-ribbon commission, arm it with subpoena power, and turn it loose to find out what went wrong, what (if anything) went right and to report not only to Congress but to us. We were the ones, remember, who just wanted to be kept safe. So, it is important, as well as fair, not to punish those who did what we wanted done — back when we lived, scared to death, in a place called the Past.

    I’m not the biggest fan of “blue-ribbon commissions,” especially since the purpose of this one would be to confirm the stupendously obvious fact that this country is not supposed to torture, now or ever, Cohen’s feeble equivocating about the “Past” versus the “Present” notwithstanding. But if that’s the best way to one day achieve closure on the abuses of the Bushco years in this regard, then maybe it should be considered.

    Oh, and just to reiterate more obvious points, torture is bad for at least two reasons: 1) It defies internationally agreed upon procedures and protocols of detainee treatment, to say nothing of standing in complete opposition to what we are supposed to represent as a country, and 2) As noted in the Murad example previously, it doesn’t generate good intelligence. And if you don’t want to believe me, fine; believe Susan Crawford, the “top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial,” according to Think Progress here, who told Bob Woodward that we couldn’t prosecute Mohammed al-Qahtani, one of the 9/11 plotters, because we tortured him (and Crawford is a Republican, in case you were wondering).

    Finally, I want to go “on the record” with the following statement, using the clearest language that I can, as long as Cohen has apparently tried to lump me into this amorphous group of people who, to his mind, “just wanted to be kept safe” and thus condoned torture:

    I have never condoned torture for any reason. I thoroughly repudiate the practice. It makes us absolutely no different from those who seek to defeat us. Besides, saying we accept it increases the likelihood that members of our military or others in our foreign service could be subjected to it one day were they ever captured and/or imprisoned (“waterboarding,” categorically – and correctly – described by Attorney General Designate Eric Holder as torture, is shown above).

    Torture is, now, and has always been wrong, and though I am not a lawyer, I cannot imagine how it could possibly be legal. And those who engaged it in under the disgusting pretext of “protecting us” should face the full force of the law for doing so.

    Update: God bless General James P. Cullen for this.


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