April 17, 2009 archive

First Amendment Friday 2 – Gitlow v People

Happy Friday and welcome to the 2nd in the Dog’s series on the Supreme Court Cases defining the boundaries of our 1st Amendment protections under the Constitution. Each week this series will look at one or two Supreme Court decisions. We will look at the facts of the case, the Majority Opinion and the Dissent Opinion. The Dog is not a lawyer so this is strictly a layman’s point of view, but the Dog believes there is value in looking at these things even if one is not a trained professional. If you find the Dog’s analysis to be wrong or you simply disagree, correct him in the comment. This is a learning exercise and the Dog wants to learn too! If you are interested in last weeks installment you can find it here:

Abrams v US

petition for special prosecutor

ACLU petition for special prosecutor

Firedoglake petition for special prosecutor

Amnesty International: Prosecute torturers

And….ours, with over 48,500 sigs, and each new sig is sent to the DOJ

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Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports the EPA proposes regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency is once again trying to protect the environment. Today, the agency issued a proposal “finding greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to the public’s health and welfare”. Six gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluorid, are identified as contributing to global warming.

    Lisa Jackson, the EPA administrator, said in a statement that “this finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations… This pollution problem has a solution — one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

    The finding states “in both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.”

    The LA Times notes this will allow for “broad emissions limits in all other parts of the economy, including power plants and construction sites”.

  2. McClatchy reports Chrysler and GM demand Canadians giveback pensions and benefits because they have state-sponsored health care.

    Chrysler and General Motors are demanding steep givebacks in pensions and other benefits from members of the Canadian Auto Workers union on the grounds that, unlike their American counterparts, they can count on generous government-sponsored health care.

    Autoworkers in Canada have long enjoyed a cost advantage over their American counterparts across the Detroit River because their health care isn’t paid for by their employers, but by all Canadian taxpayers through the government.

    That advantage is now being held against Canadian autoworkers in talks to prevent a GM bankruptcy and to promote a merger of Chrysler and Italian automaker Fiat.

    Tell me this isn’t a race to the bottom.

Four at Four continues with plans to have NSA monitor domestic Internet traffic, Taliban waging class warfare in Pakistan (and winning), and life found on earth that does not need oxygen or, which is simply amazing!

Justice vs Politics: Retribution

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. . . . But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.


My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him.

Obama, on Bin Laden

Capturing, or especially, killing Bin Laden would be certainly be retribution, would it not?


Why is retribution good in one case and not the other?


To be more specific, the politics of fear. The fear of…..retribution….for prosecuting. Retribution from who? Retribution from the people who supported the torturers. Fear that if justice is pursued, those who would “lose” in the prosecution (even if it is just losing face) would take their retribution politically.

Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

Obama, yesterday

Fear that pursuing justice would divide us. Those who would pursue justice are being divisive. We must instead of being a divisive force (by pursuing justice) come together on behalf of a common future….a future where the United States is allowed to torture with no consequences.

A common future where then, since we are allowed to torture, we cannot, honestly, condemn others for torture. A common future then, where torture is allowed. Because otherwise, if we stand up and say that torture is indeed wrong, that the cost would be that the United States would be “divided.”


As if that condition did not already exist.

For fear of a politically divided nation that is already politically divided, we cannot prosecute torture. Because those on the other side of the existing political divide would object and be more divisive than they already are?

THIS is a logical excuse for not prosecuting torturers?

And it is the people who are pushing for prosecution of our government torturing people to death….that are the divisive forces? Asking for the law to be enforced….is divisive?

Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.

Barack Obama

We are struggling against others, elsewhere, who intimidate, torture, and murder people. But if we struggle against the people in our own government who intimidated, tortured, and murdered people, it is divisive and retributive. Justice would be politically divisive. That is why we cannot pursue it. Politics. The same politics referred to here…

People are very hungry for something new. I think they are interested in being called to be a part of something larger than the sort of small, petty, slash-and-burn politics that we have been seeing over the last several years.

Barack Obama

We cannot trust our government to pursue justice when the only obstacle to justice is the retribution of it’s existing political enemies.

If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.


How can we put our trust in our government when our government puts politics above the Rule of Law and above Justice, Mr President? When even the good guys put political cynicism above doing the right thing. The cynicism that says that pursuing justice is merely retribution. The cynicism that paints those who stand and fight for justice itself as somehow …selfish and divisive?

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

Barack Obama

Please consider your own words, President Obama. If you use you power to thwart justice for political ends, even if those ends may be worthy, you are excusing the worst crime, torturing innocent people, torturing people sometimes to death, that humans can commit. You are saying that the ends justify those means. That the ends of political unity, are worth the means of ignoring the Rule of Law and allowing torturers to walk free. For political purposes. That is cynicism, Mr. President.

There is nothing more cynical than saying that we can excuse anything, even the worst crimes known to humanity, that our government does ….merely for the sake of some mythical political or societal unity.

There is nothing more cynical than avoiding doing what is clearly the right thing to do….out of fear of political retribution.

Are these people even human?

Very early this morning, I had a few beers in my and read the first torture memo. I posted this rant at Daily Kos and I am offering it here, too.

Thank you, President Obama, for releasing the torture memos. Now please have the DOJ do something about it.

I just got through the first one, with inspiration from noweasels’ excellent diary this evening. In that diary, I made the comment that I am reading the memos, not because I want to. The gods know I think this is abhorrent. I am reading them because I feel I have to.

South Africa has the shame of Apartheid. Russia has the shame of the Soviet purges. Germany has the shame of the Holocaust. Rwanda has the shame of the slaughter of Tutsis and Hutu moderates. Serbia has the shame of the Bosnian war.

Gitmo is our national shame.  

Tonights WWL Radio Line Up

Join Gottlieb, Ed-Encho and I tonight at 6pm EDT for WWL Radio!

Please call with any questions you may have, or respectful commentary.

The call in number is 646-929-1264

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

The live chat link will be active after 5:30-ish.


The Lineup:

(Handy links provided; add more in comments if you have some)

We will start off the hour with talking about Obama’s Economic Speech and if Nationalization stands a chance against America’s Financial Oligarchy.

Then we will discuss Obama’s !!New Rules!! for Cuba taken well with the grain of mind-boggling salty block disparity between the fast track of Cuban immigrants, vs the prosecution of Mexican immigrants, and the flat out shooting of Haitian immigrants. He has done no favors for the US or for Cuba by this action.

Next up will be the Torture Memos. As twitters @mikemadden puts it, with jaw-dropping irony, Memos: “The use of the waterboard constitutes a threat of immediate death.” But you feel better once it stops, so not torture. Keith Olbermann calls Obama on the carpet, speaking for me in a Special Comment last night about Obama’s failure to do the right thing. (Vid below the fold)

Then we move to the encroaching Domestic Police State, as highlighted in the Janet Napolitano Report (little napolean, heh) Of course, with segue’s into the Constitution-free border zones tazing, and the moral questions of brutality and security vs liberties.

Wow, so much to talk about.

We are for TX’s seceding, btw, sure to hit that if we have time. HEE!

See you tonight at 6pm EDT on Wild, Wild Left Radio. Will amend with links to show later.

FOX News Donated $ MILLIONS $ To The Tea-Baggers

Now that Tax Day has come and gone, we can take an objective look at what all the excitement over the so-called “grassroots” Tea Party movement has wrought.

For an alleged phenomenon that was sweeping a nation of angry revolutionaries, it has left us with no more than a resounding thud.

Nate Silver has produced what appears to be the only comprehensive estimate of national attendance, based on authoritative sources like law enforcement and local reporting. His figures conclude that about 262,000 people gathered in over 300 cities across the country to wave tea bags and denounce taxes. That is pretty close to the estimate by the conservative Pajamas Media (sources not disclosed), who place the figure slightly higher at 278,000. Considering the fact that twice as many people will attend a Major League Baseball game on a typical Saturday, every weekend, that doesn’t seem like much to brag about.

Fanning the Fools and Flames


I love my job. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs. After a while you don’t actually have to throw red meat at them they just start salivating, barking and going berserk merely by tinkling the bell of jingoist propaganda and flickering images of patriot-fairies dancing in their heads.

How ironic; each village was supposed to have one idiot and now we have entire villages full of them. It’s not their fault really. It’s like rats on a treadmill. You ever wonder why they use so many lab rats, mice and monkeys all because they’re working on a better life for human beings?

Do I have to connect the dots for you? Okay. You asked for it. But don’t take my word for it. I’m a propagandist and I work for them.

Open Random & Catch 22 Quotes Thread

“Where were you born?”

“On a battlefield,” [Yossarian] answered.

“No, no. In what state were you born?”

“In a state of innocence.”

and another, all from Joseph Heller

“You must try to look up at the big picture.”

Yossarian rejected the advice with a skeptical shake of his head. “When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.”

Sick Torture Memos Also Lie: A Closer Look at the Bybee Memo

Also posted at AlterNet and Invictus

Reading the just released August 1, 2002 memo by John Yoo (reportedly ghosting for Jay Bybee, then Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and now an Appeals Court Judge for the Ninth Circuit), to John Rizzo, then Acting General Counsel for the CIA, on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, is a surreal experience. There is so much that is strange and awful in it, it's hard to know where to begin.

But one thing that struck me right off the bat was the similarity of the statistics presented in the early part of the memo with the statement of Dr. Jerald Ogrisseg, a psychologist with Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, United States Joint Forces Command, before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on June 17, 2008.

Let's review some of the relevant text.

To Give Obama Some Small Credit Where Due

Crossposted from Antemedius

Yesterday was a very dark day. Most who know me know how hard and unmercifully I slammed Obama and Holder, but Obama especially since he is Holders superior, for their excusing and shielding of CIA torturers from prosecution based on nothing more than the universally repudiated Nuremburg defense of “just following orders”. Many may even think that I was and am being too inflexible in my criticisms and direct comparison of Obama to Bush over this matter with my opinion that he is also shielding Bush and Cheney with his actions.

Protecting and shielding war criminals.

That remains my opinion, and will remain my opinion unless and until a Special Prosecutor is appointed and George Bush and Dick Cheney are sitting in a prisoners dock charged with war crimes for which there is more than ample evidence, above and beyond their own public confessions and gloating, that they committed.

To be honest I really don’t care whether the CIA Interrogators are ever prosecuted. They will have to live with what they did, and they will probably be shunned for the rest of their lives by anyone with any remnants of humanity left in their souls.

It is one thing to shield the followers of orders. It is an entirely different thing to shield and protect the issuers of those orders. To do so is to be complicit in the crimes and no better and in fact worse than the perpetrators, in my opinion.

But to give Obama some small credit where due, he and Holder did leave themselves an opening, and in fact not only left an opening but created that opening with their actions yesterday. We can even speculate that perhaps did what they did yesterday they did in an attempt to create enough public anger and drum up enough public support to make it politically possible to prosecute Bush and Cheney.

If, and it’s a very big if that still appears very doubtful, If Obama and Holder did what they did yesterday as setup for future prosecutions of Bush and Cheney then they will earn a little of my respect back.

Bush and Cheney must be prosecuted.

Glenn Greenwald this morning:

In the United States, what Obama did yesterday is simply not done.  American Presidents do not disseminate to the world documents which narrate in vivid, elaborate detail the dirty, illegal deeds done by the CIA, especially not when the actions are very recent, were approved and ordered by the President of the United States, and the CIA is aggressively demanding that the documents remain concealed and claiming that their release will harm national security.  When is the last time a President did that?  

The Crusade for a Christian Military

Much has been stated, angrily, since a Homeland Security Department Intelligence Assessment {pdf} report was released the other day on Rightwing Extremism. The report gives a window into the “Possibilities” in one segment the Military Veterans, especially, who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, “May Be” Recruited by extremist groups, known to already exist and growing.

This report Does Not Label Military Veterans as Radical Rightwing Fanatics, as a security report it just points out the possibilities this country may be facing, and not only by the recruiting of a few of the tens os thousands who have served Honorably under orders of the CiC in these two occupations, Right or Wrong in policy they may be.

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