January 22, 2009 archive

Pontificating the Pelosi Pissedoffedness

It is still a world of WMDs, words of mass diversion in this case.  Ya, we get rid of Gitmo but I didn’t see APBs for Bush and Cheney.  Hey, but still, you got something out of the deal, better than nothing?

Is this going to be a meme lost in the compromise of “you got some of your wishes”.


Pelosi, continuing the meme of Homeboy Insecurity with retarded things like HR 1.

Divert… “Oh, we have so, so, so many OTHER, far more important issues.

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports President Barack Obama issues a directive to shut down Guantánamo. “We intend to win this fight,” Obama said, “We are going to win it on our own terms.” Most importantly:

    One of Mr. Obama’s orders requires the C.I.A. to use only the 19 interrogation methods outlined in the Army Field Manual, ending President Bush’s policy of permitting the agency to use some secret methods that went beyond those allowed to the military.

    “We believe we can abide by a rule that says we don’t torture, but we can effectively obtain the intelligence we need,” Mr. Obama said.

    However ominously, according to the Times, “Obama postponed for at least six months difficult decisions on the details. He ordered a cabinet-level review of the most challenging questions his administration faces – what to do with dangerous prisoners who cannot be tried in American courts; whether some interrogation methods should remain secret to keep Al Qaeda from training to resist them; and how the United States can make sure prisoners transferred to other countries will not be tortured.”

    But the Times also reported Dennis Blair, Obama’s nominee for the Director of National Intelligence, Pledges new approach to counterterrorism. “Mr. Blair called torture ‘not moral, legal or effective’ and said any interrogation program would have to comply with the Geneva Conventions, the Convention against Torture and the Constitution.”

Four at Four continues with protests in Iceland, Al-Qaeda and biological weapons, evidence of warming in Antarctica, and the White House’s technological dark age.

So who’s predicting economic collapse? And why?

This is a brief rundown of some recent doomsaying: although we might predict that the visionaries would suggest that the game is up, we’re also seeing this from portions of the mainstream.  This runs counter to the common wisdom that predicts economic boom in the hopes that such predictions will morph into self-fulfilling prophesies, and should be an indication that we’ve entered a new era in economic thought.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Levin To Holder: Appoint An Independent Investigator On Torture

From Think Progress

Responding to a question earlier this month, President Obama didn’t rule out the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to “independently investigate” the “greatest crimes” committed by the Bush administration. But he said that his “orientation” was “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” Congressional Democrats, such Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), have said that Congress should continue to investigate Bush’s torture policies regardless of Obama’s plans.

At the Progressive Media Summit on Capitol Hill yesterday, Marcy Wheeler asked Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, about congressional plans to continue investigating torture. “There needs to be, I believe, an accounting of torture in this country,” replied Levin. He then said that he had suggested to Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder that he appoint “an outside person who’s got real credibility” to continue to investigate:


LEVIN: We’re going to try to complete this investigation, at least on the DoD side, Ok. But on the intelligence, the CIA side, that’s going to be up to the Intelligence Committe. I know I suggested to Eric Holder, who will be the next Attorney General despite the delay that took place today, that he select some people or hire an outside person whose got real credibility, perhaps a retired federal judge, to take all the available information, and there’s reams of it.

And in all of the ‘debate’ over whether we should ignore torture and detention by ‘moving forward,’ nobody seems to be talking about one aspect….the victims….of the Bush Administration torture policy. It serves the purpose of the torturers to highlight KSM and other (still not tried and found guilty) ‘bad guys.’ But we need to remember always that MOST of the people swept up in their net SEEM (again, no trials) to be quite innocent. And thus have been released. Such as…

From Reza Sayah


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) – Muhammad Saad Iqbal is a free man after

serving more than six years at the U.S. military’s detention facility in

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – without any charge.

Now, Iqbal is suing the U.S. government for unlawful detention.

“I am angry in my heart,” Iqbal said in a recent interview. “It’s easy

for the U.S. government to say, ‘There are no charges found and he’s free.’

“But who will be responsible for seven years of my life?”

Plus, check out this amazing clip of a former detainee and former Gitmo guard talking together on BBC!

Obama and the New Terrain of Battle, Part 2: The Roadblock

This is the part 2 of a longish piece I finished right before the the inauguration. You can catch Part 1 here or the whole thing over at Fire on the Mountain, where there are a couple interesting comments. Part 3, up here tomorrow, will address the economic meltdown.

A Roadblock for the Anti-War Movement

The exception to this generally very favorable climate for struggle is unfortunately a crucial one: the wars of aggression the US government is locked into in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The anti-war movement has been the single most powerful opposition force in this country during the last six and a half years. The fact that 70% plus of the American people want the war over with, and pronto, owes much to the tireless and thankless work of tens of thousands of anti-war activists. In fact, the coalescing of broad popular sentiment against the war was perhaps the single most important factor in the Democratic Party’s 2006 victories and 2008 landslide.

The problem facing the anti-war movement now is a grimly ironic one. Despite its enormous contributions to the changed political atmosphere in this country, the movement’s demands –Stop the War! Bring The Troops Home Now!–seem today most unlikely to be met by the Obama administration.

The brutal underlying contradiction remains what it has been since the invasion of Iraq–the US ruling class cannot afford to stay in Iraq and they cannot afford to leave. To stay is to extend an insanely costly occupation indefinitely, in the face of popular hatred, with chaos always around the corner and the sketchiest prospects for a stable hegemony. To leave is to give up the prospect of a US hand on the world’s second largest oil spigot and to accept a drastic defeat for US military power and geostrategy.

We are left with two unknowns about Obama’s intentions regarding these wars, and one known.

Unknown #1 is how far he will go toward pulling out of Iraq. Obama’s goal, in practice, appears to be to finesse the contradiction, by pulling out a majority of the US troops and reducing the combat role of the tens of thousands who will remain. This risks further undercutting US ability to dictate what happens in Iraq, while leaving US troops, bases and other assets more vulnerable to insurgent attack or the re-eruption of civil war between Iraqi forces.

Unknown #2 is how far he will go in honoring his pledge to win in Afghanistan. The pledge was made, and repeated incessantly, to make Obama look tough and highlight the Bush administration’s failure to hunt down al-Qaeda’s leadership. Still, Afghanistan doesn’t have the same strategic importance to the US as Iraq and there are excuses aplenty to step back–corruption in Kabul, NATO allies pulling out, the need to conserve funds and rebuild the military.

The thing which we do know is a simple fact of political life: whatever his intentions, inside of six months, these wars will be Obama’s wars, not Bush’s wars.

It is remotely possible that he will actively try to end them both, but there has been no sign of this since Election Day. Appointees of his in the State Department,the national security apparatus and the military are all publicly saying that a too-rapid withdrawal from Iraq is risky and impractical. Continuing the occupation of Iraq or even dragging out its end will continue the bleeding, actual and economic, there and here.

Moving to double down in Afghanistan threatens major catastrophe. There are reasons that Afghanistan is called the Graveyard of Empires–25 centuries worth of reasons.

All of this leaves the anti-war movement off balance, with hard choices before it.

Should the anti-war movement attack Obama now, or not? There are some in the liberal wing of the movement who, in a touching combination of wishful thinking and denial, want to give him a long honeymoon as a chance to follow through on his promises. Most activists are far more skeptical.

Very sensibly, though, most are also reluctant to launch an all-out assault on him and risk alienating the great swaths of his ardent supporters who so far still believe that he will bring the occupation of Iraq to a close, who will keep believing it so long as troop levels are falling, and who don’t know much about Afghanistan.

With Iraq less and less visible on the country’s radar–none of the Big Three teevee networks even has a Baghdad correspondent any more–some argue that we should seek to end the war indirectly by directing our main attack on the bloated military budget. I think this is a mistake and plays into the hands of those, including those in the new administration, who want Iraq off the radar. People need reminding that there are still 142,000 US troops in Iraq, not help forgetting it.

In my view, the best option is to keep on keepin’ on–continue to protest, step up outreach to our friends and neighbors and rattle the cages of elected officials, especially when appropriation-for-occupation time rolls around again. As Iraq becomes Obama’s war, Obama will increasingly be the one the people hold responsible for its continuation. Even if he should actually begin substantial troop reductions, as promised, that doesn’t oblige the movement to drop the demand that all the troops be brought home. Now.

Should we raise the profile of Afghanistan in anti-war work? The anti-war movement is playing catch-up, in a sense, after keeping its focus rather strictly on Iraq. But with the situation changing rapidly, the occupation’s outlook “grim” (according to the latest national Security estimate) and the promise of the US force there being doubled, to 60,000+ this year, we have no choice. And any step by Obama to escalate the US occupation of Afghanistan or to maintain the deadly status quo there should be opposed directly, with all the vigor possible, as education around that occupation is stepped up.

Confusion in the Press on Torture Plans (w/update)

An Associated Press story by Lara Jakes and Pamela Hess, released today, reports on President Obama’s intention to limit the CIA to interrogation techniques listed in the Army Field Manual. The pending Executive Orders on interrogation would also end the practice of detention by the CIA in secret prisons. But, in a potential sop to the Agency:

[Obama’s] advisers are considering adding a classified loophole to the rules that could allow the CIA to use some interrogation methods not specifically authorized by the Pentagon…

Such a “loophole” would be included as a classified annex to the Army Field Manual, which the article assures us doesn’t allow threats or coercion, while also banning physical abuse and outrageous torture techniques like waterboarding. The article does single out, without explanation, that there is a special AFM technique allowed “in some cases” — isolation.

Thank You Mr. President for Acting on Day 1


Speaking as a supporter who will cut you no slack when you are wrong, I am mighty proud to have you as my President.

The Suddenly Pertinent Case of Julius Streicher

Julius Streicher, Publisher and Propagandist

Why is this long-deceased German journalist relevant today? Let’s find out below the break.

The brilliance behind Obama’s call to public service

One of Barack Obama’s constant and primary memes has been a call for public service from the American citizenry. It is significant that he spent the day before his inauguration setting an example to follow – volunteering his time at a house for homeless teenagers in DC.

A noble and worthy goal in and of itself, it’s also an incredibly clever way to winnow the wheat from the chaff when it comes to discovering who TRULY loves this nation – to reveal who would be willing to work with him and his administration to fix what the shadowy cabal behind the Bush administration have spent not merely years but DECADES and ENTIRE GENERATIONS trying to destroy.

Never before in America have a “parcel of rogues” come so close to reworking our democratic ideals into a twisted blend of corporate feudalism and outright fascism. With so much to undo, Obama’s call to service acts as a sharp and well-aimed sword cutting through the Gordian knot left to him. Actions speak louder than words, and Obama’s call is a call to action. Those who are interested in deception will eventually be revealed. Their actions of public service – should such even occur – will be halfhearted, slipshod, done grudgingly and with a marked disrespect for those who have called for help.

This methodology is just and fair. It assigns no partisan value to service. In a single master stroke, it guts from nave to chops the runaway capitalist/imperialist monster created by the cabal over the last century – the greedy and irresponsible “FUCK YOU, I’VE GOT MINE” Ayn Randish mentality that America has become all too guilty of across the board.

The blogosphere is well aware of Democrats who pretend to public service but who in reality are all about “FUCK YOU, I’VE GOT MINE”. We are less aware of the Republicans who have chafed alongside us under the abuses of the Bush regime, writhing with embarrassment and shame as they perform their own forms of service, but not to acknowledge that they exist would be less than fair.

What also has me giggling no end about this call for public service from our new African-American President is what it will do to the head of the average white supremacist, but that – like the racists themselves – is a marginal issue. The real goal here is to find those willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. You love this country? PROVE IT! With your shoulder to the wheel! Get off the couch, turn off the goddamned TV or the video game or yes, t3h 1nt4rdn3tz and stir stumps! Put up or shut up, keyboard warriors!

Obama is laying the groundwork now to make it VERY, VERY EASY for anyone who wants to prove they love this country to do so. There’s a lot of messes to be cleaned up. There’s a lot of stuff that this administration broke.

There’s a lot of work to do. And there’s a lot of people who need work.

This isn’t rocket science. All the same… it’s brilliant. As simple, clear, and brilliant as truth, as the light of day.

Open Thread


A B C, it’s easy as 1 2 Thread.

The “Great Generation” Myth

Most of us remember our parents, our grandparents through the halcyon lenses of their own fictions.

“Back in our day…”

Really, we know it wasn’t all Wally and the Beav, yet we somehow long for that small town sense of community that we knew as children. Those “great” days, “great men” are our heroes and stories.

I’m sorry, but Rockwell’s America was a nightmare for everyone but white, religious men.

The same human flaws, failings and horrors that we see as the visage of this age existed then too, they were just hidden, covered up to protect the illusion of white male perfection.

I prefer to be blinded by the light to suffocation under the sounds of silence.

Docudharma Times Thursday January 22

Republicans Bipartisanship Lasts?

Never Mind It Never Started

Thursday’s Headlines:

Salmonella peanut product recall grows

Iceland’s coalition struggles to survive protests

Dutch MP to be tried for views on Islam

Robert Fisk: So far, Obama’s missed the point on Gaza…

Names of commanders to be kept secret as Gaza weapons inquiry begins

Life sentence for boss of tainted milk company

Fighting threatens Sri Lankan civilians

Will Rwandan troops help in Congo?

Competing Interests

In Ecuador, gang members trade guns for scissors and nail polish

Obama Starts Reversing Bush Policies

Guantanamo Order Readied; Lobbying Rules Tightened

By Michael D. Shear

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 22, 2009; Page A0

President Obama moved swiftly yesterday to begin rolling back eight years of his predecessor’s policies, ordering tough new ethics rules and preparing to issue an order closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been at the center of the debate over the treatment of U.S. prisoners in the battle against terrorism.

Acting to address several promises he made during his campaign, Obama met with top generals about speeding the withdrawal from Iraq and gathered his senior economic advisers as he continued to push for a massive spending bill to create jobs.

Under the border with Egypt, Gaza’s smugglers return to work

• Flow of goods begins after owners make repairs

• Key Israeli war aim had been to destroy network

Rory McCarthy in Rafah

Dozens of Gazan smugglers were back on the border with Egypt today openly repairing and restarting tunnels between the two territories after three weeks of intense Israeli air strikes.

There were deep impact craters in the soil just a few hundred yards from the border, but many of the tunnels appeared to be at least partly intact. Several tents covering tunnel entrances were still standing, though most were pockmarked by shrapnel. Bulldozers were clearing away sand as men dug for the wood-reinforced wells that descend around 15 metres from the surface into the tunnels.

Israel set as one of its war aims in Gaza the destruction hundreds of tunnels that have brought goods in from Egypt for several years. Most of what arrived was food, cigarettes, fuel, even farm animals – all intended to break Israel’s tough economic blockade – but some of the tunnels were used to bring in cash and weaponry for armed groups, including the Islamist movement Hamas, which runs Gaza.



Senate Republicans delay Holder vote over torture views

By David Lightman and Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Key Republicans delayed a vote on Wednesday on the confirmation of attorney general nominee Eric Holder in part over concerns that he views Bush administration interrogation practices as torture.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he wanted to know more after Holder sidestepped questions about whether he intends to prosecute officials who condoned or carried out the interrogations.

“He’s been very ambiguous,” Cornyn told reporters. “We need more clarification.”

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