April 10, 2008 archive

Crushing the Next 20 Years of Republicanism Now

Let’s get one thing straight, now.  There are no liberal Republican Senators.  But the GOP’s got a secret-play in its handbook: the media carte-blanche from being an “independent”-minded poseur.  And 2006 showed us it works for Republicans..

Four at Four

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports the Bush administration hopes to admit more Iraq refugees. “State Department officials, who have been harshly criticized for moving too slowly in allowing Iraqi refugees into the U.S., issued new immigration figures Wednesday and suggested they may reach a goal of admitting 12,000 refugees this fiscal year. Government figures show that 2,627 Iraqis have been cleared to enter the country since Oct. 1… The administration did not meet its 2007 goal… Between 2003 and 2006, about 5,000 of the estimated 2 million Iraqis who fled their country came to the United States”.

    Compare the 5,000 (to 6,000) we’ve allowed to move to the U.S. with the 40,000 Sweden let move to their country. But now, the Washington Post reports Iraqi refugees find Sweden’s doors closing.

    Sweden, which has one of the world’s most welcoming refugee policies, has become the new home of 40,000 Iraqis since the war began in 2003. Last year alone, more than 18,000 Iraqi refugees came to Sweden. According to the State Department, the United States has taken in roughly 6,000 Iraqis in programs for refugees and translators…

    The national government budgets $30,000 to help settle each person granted asylum. It pays for Swedish language classes, helps with housing and job training and pays a monthly allowance for living expenses…

    According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.5 million Iraqis have been forced out of their homes. Half of them are still in Iraq, and 2 million have fled to neighboring countries, particularly Syria and Jordan, where most live in poor and crowded conditions. For the Middle East, “it’s the greatest refugee catastrophe since 1948,” the year Israel was born, said Tobias Billstrom, Sweden’s minister for migration.

    The world has a “moral obligation” to help these people, Billstrom said. If the United States accepted as many people per capita as Sweden, a nation of 9 million, he said, it would have taken in 500,000 refugees.

    The U.S. no longer has the moral high ground, if it ever did.

More issues of morality can be found below the fold as Four at Four continues…

China Olympics, Summer 2008

China Olympics, Summer 2008

Elizabeth Edwards is Right (with Olberman video and more)

We need universal health care in this nation.  Nyceve has written about it extensively.  (Read the NYCEVE diaries here.)  Many kossaks, like myself, have long supported single payer.  Last year, John Edwards came out with a universal health care plan that was a road to single payer.  

Elizabeth Edwards spoke about universal health care on Olberman last night:

Elizabeth Edwards is right.

On Olberman last night:

I keep getting asked the difference between these two candidates and their policies and on health care, I prefer Senator Clinton’s to Senator Obama’s.

The difference-more important to me is the difference between Senator McCain’s proposed plan, I said plan, with the ideas of either of the Democratic candidates, and you’re talking about narrower differences between the Democrats and then this gulf that I was describing earlier, a solar system of difference between what Senator McCain is suggesting for health care and what these candidates are suggesting.

More, after the fold, including video on Elizabeth on Olberman and ABC, among other places.  

Help! We’re being outspent a trillion to one

WARNING:  Fund-raising appeal ahead.

When a handful of people decided to launch the Iraq Moratorium to take on the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex, we knew it wouldn’t be a fair fight.

We knew we’d be outmanned, outgunned and outspent by those whose interest seems to be to keep this nation at war.

But we didn’t realize that the Pentagon would spend as much on the war every five seconds as the Iraq Moratorium spends in a year to try to stop it.

We’ve done a lot with very little money.  Since September, more than 800 events, from Vermont to California, from Florida to Washington state, have joined under the Iraq Moratorium umbrella to call for an end to the war and occupation.  Tens of thousands have taken individual action as well on the Third Friday of each month.

But we really need your financial help to keep this national grassroots movement alive and growing.

The magnitude of what we’re up against really hit us with recent reports of the war’s cost — $5,000 a second! That’s more than double what we spend in a month.


Torture Conspiracy: Begin Impeachment Proceedings Now

The latest revelations from ABC News clearly point to a high level, willful conspiracy to commit torture:

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects — whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed — down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.  

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

From Human Rights Watch regarding laws against torture:

International and U.S. law prohibits torture and other ill-treatment of any person in custody in all circumstances. The prohibition applies to the United States during times of peace, armed conflict, or a state of emergency. Any person, whether a U.S. national or a non-citizen, is protected. It is irrelevant whether the detainee is determined to be a prisoner-of-war, a protected person, or a so-called “security detainee” or “unlawful combatant.” And the prohibition is in effect within the territory of the United States or any place anywhere U.S. authorities have control over a person. In short, the prohibition against torture and ill-treatment is absolute.

Click the link for details on which laws have been violated.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. It is also clear that the officials in the United States Government whose duty it is to prosecute these crimes against humanity, these War Crimes, are failing in their duty. Let us not fail in ours, as American Citizens in whose name these acts were committed. It’s time to ratchet up the pressure on The Speaker of the House again to do her duty to the Constitution and begin Impeachment investigations and proceedings against the conspirators named above.

Please phone and e-mail (feel free to mail this essay) Speaker Pelosi and tell her that as an American Citizen you demand she investigate and prosecute these War Criminals.

Dalai Lama Defends Free Speech And Rudd Rides To The Rescue

While the protesters were being thwarted by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s high speed game of wack-a-mole with the Olympic torch through the streets of San Francisco, the Dalai Lama was en route to Tokyo and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was giving one of the most important speeches of his diplomatic career.

First to the Dalai Lama. In remarks this morning in Tokyo, His Holiness defended the right of protesters to voice their dissent, while returning to his calls for nonviolence:

Diarists’s note on the above YouTube: The Dalai Lama’s remarks this morning come immediately after the short clip of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The final part of this YouTube contains a photo that has raised no small amount of controversy on the web. I include this YouTube because it was the only one I could find with His Holiness’s remarks in English. I have no thoughts regarding the veracity – or lack thereof – of the claims surrounding the last photograph other than to say that this is just one example of why an impartial, international investigation into the riots in Lhasa needs to be held, so that the truth around these events can be discovered.

Secret Afghani Trials For Detainees

The New York Times this morning is reporting that Afghanistan is holding secret trials for dozens of Afghan men who were formerly detained by the US in Gitmo and Baghram:

Dozens of Afghan men who were previously held by the United States at Bagram Air Base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are now being tried [in Afghanistan] in secretive Afghan criminal proceedings based mainly on allegations forwarded by the American military.

The prisoners are being convicted and sentenced to as much as 20 years’ confinement in trials that typically run between half an hour and an hour, said human rights investigators who have observed them. One early trial was reported to have lasted barely 10 minutes, an investigator said. /snip

Witnesses do not appear in court and cannot be cross-examined. There are no sworn statements of their testimony.

Instead, the trials appear to be based almost entirely on terse summaries of allegations that are forwarded to the Afghan authorities by the United States military. Afghan security agents add what evidence they can, but the cases generally center on events that sometimes occurred years ago in war zones that the authorities may now be unable to reach.

“These are no-witness paper trials that deny the defendants a fundamental fair-trial right to challenge the evidence and mount a defense,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer for the advocacy group Human Rights First who has studied the proceedings. “So any convictions you get are fundamentally flawed.”

Join me below.

Pony Party, Lost Treasures

A new show opens today at the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago.  It’s called “Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past”.  Not coincidentally, today is the 5th anniversary of the looting of Baghdad’s Iraq National Museum.

From the Museum’s website:

The looting of the Iraq Museum was widely publicized in the international press. However, it is less well known that ongoing looting of archaeological sites poses an even greater threat to the cultural heritage of Iraq.

Can we stop or prevent genocide?

crossposted from dailykos at the suggestion of Jay Elias

The second paragraph of Nick Kristof’s piece, after recognizing Condoleeza Rice’s correct observation that we cannot simply invade a 3rd Muslim country, reads as follows:

But this week marks the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide – the last time we said “never again.” And while Ms. Rice is right that we can’t send in American ground troops, there are concrete steps that President Bush can take if he wants to end his shameful passivity

I am no expert in this part of the world, nor in military and diplomatic affairs.  I am also a Quaker, and prefer the use of diplomacy to that of force.  But I also refuse to stand silently by in the face of slaughter.  And I think Kristof’s Memo to Bush on Darfur should be mandatory reading, and the starting point of serious discussions.   Let me explain why.

Muse in the Morning

Art Link

On the Borderlands

The land

on the border

is fertile

The people

are kind



for the most part

until of course

the patrol comes by

to force everyone

to move to one side

or the other

That causes

great turmoil

on the borderlands

so sometimes

we move

the border

when they aren’t looking

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 3, 2006

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Rahm Emanuel Utters Stupidest Words of Year So Far

Ladies and gentlemen, a quote so vacuous and so blithely, blissfully immoral that it cuts through the armor one has against the nonsense of political expediency to take one aback with its brazeness.

Democrats moved to press Bush on another front, linking the sagging U.S. economy to escalating war costs. On a day when oil hit $112 a barrel for the first time, lawmakers said that energy-rich Iraq should be footing more of its own bills. “We’ve put about $45 billion into Iraq’s reconstruction . . . and they have not spent their own resources,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). “They have got to have some skin in the game.”

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