December 8, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports for a Second consequtive day, the Pakistan-based Taliban destroy supplies bound for NATO in Afghanistan. Approximately 50 shipping containers of supplies were destoyed in the assult. “The militants struck a container terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar, in north-west Pakistan, just over a mile from yesterday’s attack, in which gunmen torched more than 100 trucks.”

    According to Mohammad Zaman, a security guard at the terminal on the Peshawar ring road, “The militants came just past midnight, firing in the air, sprinkled petrol on containers and then set them on fire… They told us they would not harm us, but they asked us not to work for the Americans.”

    Yesterday’s attack was the largest yet by the Taliban. The NY Times reports the Attacks expose the vulnerability of the route from the port of Karachi through Peshawar. “The United States relies on the route for an overwhelming proportion of its supplies for the war in Afghanistan.” 80 percent of U.S. matériel for the occupation of Afghanistan goes through Pakistan.

    The AP reports Taliban vows violent response to US troop increase. “The current armed clashes, which now number into tens, will spiral up to hundred of armed clashes. Your current casualties of hundreds will jack up to thousand casualties of dead and injured,” read a statement posted on a Web site attributed to Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban.

    The Taliban has a permanent presence in 72% of the territory of Afghanistan, up from 54% last year, and is expanding its control beyond the rural south of the country, the International Council on Security and Development, formerly the Senlis Council, says in a report today”, reported by The Guardian.

    An analysis, “Afghan Strategy Poses Stiff Challenge for Obama“, by the NY Times, surmised the occupation is pretty much another Bush failure.

    After seven years of war, Afghanistan presents a unique set of problems: a rural-based insurgency, an enemy sanctuary in neighboring Pakistan, the chronic weakness of the Afghan government, a thriving narcotics trade, poorly developed infrastructure, and forbidding terrain.

    I believe the United States should never have invaded Afghanistan. What do we have to show for seven years of war and occupation?

Four at Four continues with Bush’s lasting impact on federal courts, Blackwater mercenaries charged with voluntary manslaughter, and another sign of the decline of the American Empire.

Iowa Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Same-Sex Marriage Case

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday on a same-sex marriage case that challenges whether Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act enacted in 1998 is constitutional.  The case specifically challenges whether a ban on same-sex marriage violates the Iowa constitution’s “equal protection” clause (Article 1, Section 6) and “due process” clause (Article 1, Section 9).  Decisions from Iowa’s high court usually come two to six months after oral arguments.  

The case, Varnum v. Brien, was filed by Lambda Legal in 2005.  The plaintiffs in the case are a group of same-sex couples who tried to get marriage licenses in Polk County in late 2005 or early 2006, including Kate Varnum and her partner Trish, who has legally changed her last name to Varnum also.  The defendant in the case is Timothy J. Brien, the Polk County Recorder who refused to issue marriage licenses to the couples.  Brien informed the couples he could not issue marriage licenses to them by state law, citing the Defense of Marriage Act (Iowa Code, Section 595.2).

New Definitions: Unseemly Shamelessness.

BEFORE (unrepresentative and inaccurate):

PhotobucketMerrill Lynch boss seeks 10-million-dlr bonus

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The chief executive of troubled Wall Street firm Merrill Lynch is seeking a 10-million-dollar bonus this year in the midst of a financial crisis which plunged his company into dire straits, US media reported Monday.

The List of Crimes and Definitive Links

For anyone who hasn’t been around for a couple of days, we are discussing and trying to create a petition drive to appoint a Special Prosecutor in the continuing quest for justice (or as close as we can get) for the crimes of Bushco.

Time to build the list! Here is what we have so far, thanks to NL for the restructuring. Note the bolded section which is a bit of a rewrite, more below the fold.

Dear Attorney General Holder, we the undersigned citizens hereby petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to aggressively investigate and prosecute the many and various crimes that we believe have been committed both by, and under, the Bush Administration.

For eight long years the citizens of the United States have witnessed the President, the Vice President, and Bush administration officials commit crime after crime. In an atmosphere of deliberately politicized corruption that has shocked the conscience of our nation, all attempts at investigation and accountability have been blocked or deflected by the corruption and politicization of the Department of Justice itself; the very Department that you are soon to head.

The corruption of the most basic tool of justice and accountability, the subpoena process, has been particularly alarming. By refusing to enforce the Congressional power of subpoena, and thus their power to hold the Executive Branch of our government accountable, former Attorneys General Gonzalez and Mukasey have subverted the very concept of justice and the Rule of Law upon which our nation was founded.

We as citizens are subject to the Rule of Law, and we demand that our government and its officials be as well. We as citizens have lost faith in the credibility of our justice system due to its abuse, corruption, and subversion by the Bush Administration. Only you Attorney General Holder, can restore that faith. And it it is our belief that it may only be restored by the aggressive and unrelenting prosecution of those who have corrupted it by bringing to the light of day the crimes that have been covered up or rendered “legal” by that corruption.

The most important founding principle of America is that no man is above the law. Our Constitution itself is meant to guarantee that principle. Perhaps the most egregious crime of all has been to subvert the Department of Justice to place the President and the members of his administration above the law itself. That principle must be restored and we insist Attorney General Holder, that it is your responsibility to do so. As citizens of a democracy meant to be of, by, and for The People, we, your “employers,” demand that you do so.

The list of offenses is long, ranging from minor violations of the Hatch Act, to conspiring to wage aggressive, preemptive war. The most egregious, and we believe, prosecutable items:

(insert rest of list, which we shall build, here)

We also refer you to Representative Kucinich’s Articles of Impeachment.

These investigations and prosecutions that we so strongly urge you to undertake and pursue will have many consequences. Some of them could prove to be politically inexpedient for our new President and the Democratic Congress. To this end, we remind you that you work not on behalf of or for the President or the Congress, but for the People of the United States of America. We urge you to, unlike your predecessors Attorneys General Mukasey and Gonzales, ignore these political considerations and consequences in the pursuit of justice, no matter what, or to whom, the cost.

To that end, we petition you to appoint and fully empower an Independent or Special Prosecutor and to fully fund and support their investigation and prosecution of all the parties implicated therein.

Our justice system has been corrupted and compromised. Our standing as an nation that hews to the Rule of Law above all else has been gravely and perilously threatened.  Only one man, standing independent from all other considerations, can restore both the Rule of Law in our great nation and the integrity of the Department of Justice itself, Attorney General Holder. And that man is you.

Don Siegelman Needs Our Help

Don Siegelman’s fight for justice against the false charges made against him by elements in the Bush Administration reaches a critical point tomorrow.  His appeal goes before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday, 12/9/08.  We hope the 11th Circuit will throw out the false charges against Siegelman and clear this good man.

But Don needs our help.  He needs to raise another $30,000 toward his legal fees.  Not only for Don, but the magnitude of this case and it’s relation to the firings of attorneys across the country could blow the lid off the case for numerous Justice Department crimes of this past and passing administration.

Don Siegelman isn’t just fighting for his freedom — he’s fighting for the integrity of our democracy. I hope you’ll join me in supporting his legal defense fund today, before his appeal hearing tomorrow.

Al Gore has sent a letter on this.  Find:

                    “A Message from Al Gore regarding Don Siegelman”

                                         …below the fold–

Whining time is over, ladies and gentlemen.

Cross-posted from Progressive Independence

No, I’m not dead.  College and upcoming finals have eaten away at my time, but after next week I’ll have a few weeks to get back into the swing of things.  Now to business.  It’s no secret that since winning the recent presidential election, the left has been in an uproar over president-elect Barack Obama’s right-wing administrative-cabinet picks.  Complaints have been all over the blogosphere as well as mainstream news web sites such as Yahoo.

Obama’s creatures are pushing back, essentially telling people to shut up, drink the Kool-Aid, and line up behind the Obamassiah.  From the second link:

Responding to rising discontent on the left to President-elect Barack Obama’s centrist cabinet picks and early policy decisions, deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand has told progressive critics to take a deep breath.

With a long list of tasks ahead of him, Obama needs liberals to stand by him as he deals with a faltering economy, home foreclosures, an auto bailout and two wars, Hildebrand wrote Sunday on Huffington Post. Even so, Hildebrand added, Obama was elected “to be the president of all the people – not just those on the left.”

‘This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making,” Hildebrand wrote. “Some believe the appointments generally aren’t progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn’t the way he thinks and it’s not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn’t, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges.”

I’m inclined to tell fellow left-wingers to shut up and stop complaining as well, although for very different reasons.  It was obvious to many independent left-wing voters that Democrat Obama would govern no differently if elected than his Republican counterpart, John McCain.  More competently, perhaps, and with smarmier rhetoric, but such differences are in style, not actual policy substance.  Too many liberals, fearful of another four to eight years of GOP domination, cast their ballots for the first politician with a “D” after his name that looked like a winner, either in spite of, or many cases, ignoring, the Democratic nominee’s actual record as a legislator.

Well, guess what ladies and gentlemen: you got the president and Congress you wanted.  You who voted for Obama have no right to complain now that he’s doing the exact opposite of what you deceived yourselves into thinking he’d do.  YOU voted for this.  YOU are responsible for making it happen.

This is not to say that all is lost, or that because people voted for a right-wing Democrat he cannot be pressured into fulfilling the false hopes placed in him.  Everybody makes mistakes, and mistakes can be corrected.  The time for complaints is over.  The time for action, for marching on Washington and demanding genuine change, for not going away until we get it, is now.

What does it mean to help?

This is a question I think progressives need to spend more time contemplating. Our commitments tend to be about moving forward to correct the wrongs and injustices faced by people in the world. But the truth is, too many times our efforts either don’t help or create unintended consequences that can make the situation worse.

A co-worker and I spend quite a bit of time contemplating this question as we attempt to manage programs at a small nonprofit whose mission is the work with troubled youth and families. And I was reminded of the question last night while listening to a portion of Krista Tippent’s NPR program, Speaking of Faith. Her guest was Binyavanga Wainaina, editor of the Kwani? literary journal and a visiting professor of Africana Studies at Williams College in Massachusetts, for a show titled The Ethics of Global Aid, One Kenyan’s Perspective. Here’s a quote from Mr. Wainaina that was highlighted in the conversation.

A lot of people arrive in Africa to assume that it’s a blank empty space and their goodwill and desire and guilt will fix it. And that to me is not any different from the first people who arrived and colonized us. This power, this power to help, is just about as dangerous as hard power, because very often it arrives with a kind of zeal that is assuming ‘I will do it. I will solve it for you. I will fix it for you,’ and it rides roughshod over your own best efforts.


Tapper: SCOTUS Rejects Case from “Fringe Anti-Obama Activists”

Remember the “OMG! Obama’s Birth Certificate! OMG! He’s Still A Foreignur Regardless!” nontroversy?

The Supreme Court has now delivered the ultimate thumbs down to the Black Helicopter crowd, and as ABC’s Jake Tapper notes:

As is the custom, the court did not make any comments regarding the denial.


Open Thread


You’re in the thread zone.

War Crime! War Crime!

War crime!  That is what it is being called — a war crime.  

While this case isn’t breaking or new, the wording that is used, has been used, today hit me like a brick.

He committed a war crime!  

Rick Wagoner and Bush Disease

Each day brings us fresh evidence of the spread of Bush Disease, an irrational concentration of executive power in the hands of incompetents.

GM on Sunday expressed its support for Wagoner, who has been in the job since 2000.

“While we appreciate Senator Dodd’s efforts on behalf of the U.S. auto industry, the employees of General Motors, its dealers, its suppliers and its Board of Directors all support Rick Wagoner and are confident he is the person to lead GM through these difficult times,” GM spokesman Steve Harris said.

On Friday, GM board member Kathryn Marinello strongly defended Wagoner in an interview with The Detroit News. “He is the only person that can keep the automotive industry alive in America,” Marinello said.


Like Bush, the chairman of GM created a cult of leadership that aggrandized his power irrespective of his accomplishments. Rick Wagoner packed the board with his cronies, and now they refuse to remove him, despite the fact that his decisions to concentrate on building SUVs have effectively destroyed General Motors.

Wagoner intends to brazen this out and is effectively defying Congress to remove him. This will be a major test of the Obama administration. Will arrogant idiots continue to run American corporations into the ground – WITH TAXPAYER FUNDS? We shall soon know the answer.

Don’t Cry for the News

also posted at Kos

I do not feel any pity for Newspapers. They have done it to themselves. Gone are the days of the Muckrakers and the “yellow press”. Gone are the journalists. The Jack Andersons of yesteryear were replaced long ago by the Judith Millers. Even Bob Novak sold his soul(what little he had) for access to the White House. Newspapers are irrelevant.

So what if the Chicago Tribune has a decline in sales….what news is garnered from its pages? So what if I can subscribe and get the Sunday Trib and two weekdays for one dollar a week. What is the point? The news is already old by the time it is printed. And so what if the New York Times is having a cash-flow problem, aren’t we all? Suck it up, the shills for this Administration should all feel the pain!

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