April 24, 2009 archive

Reclaiming America’s Soul

In “Reclaiming America’s Soul”, Paul Krugman rejects the arguments of torture apologists . . .

Isn’t revisiting the abuses of the last eight years, no matter how bad they were, a luxury we can’t afford?

No, it isn’t, because America is more than a collection of policies. We are, or at least we used to be, a nation of moral ideals. In the past, our government has sometimes done an imperfect job of upholding those ideals. But never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for. “This government does not torture people,” declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it.

And the only way we can regain our moral compass, not just for the sake of our position in the world, but for the sake of our own national conscience, is to investigate how that happened, and, if necessary, to prosecute those responsible.  These investigations should, where appropriate, be followed by prosecutions – not out of vindictiveness, but because this is a nation of laws. We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward – because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.  

Petition Delivered!!! Yay Us! Yay Democrats.com!

More Than 250,000 People Demand Accountability

There’s an old saying that goes, “early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize.” Well, we on the field team at the ACLU think it needs to be changed to “LATE to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize!” Who goes to bed early when there’s work to be done?

Boxes filled with the names of 257,961 people who signed our petition. The sign reads: “People say: Appoint a Special Prosecutor.”

You can rest assured we have been working hard to make certain that people at the highest reaches of our government hear our call that torture is wrong, and that we demand action to ensure our country never engages in these horrific tactics again.

Due to the wonderful support of our members and activists, and the collaboration with members of the Stop Torture Now coalition, we gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to examine torture and other government abuses. We delivered those petitions yesterday during a hearing on Capitol Hill that under normal circumstances, would have been a discussion of the budget of the Department of Justice. We pushed, prodded and pitched the media, contacted members of Congress and joined forces with other groups like MoveOn….


…. Faithful America, Firedoglake, the Center for Constitutional Rights and many others to ensure that when AG Holder was at this hearing, he was asked the tough questions about the recently released torture memos,and what he was going to do about this sad chapter in our country’s history.

The first speaker in the hearing was Appropriations Committee Chair, Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.). During his opening remarks he discussed the memos and said they definitely described torture. We knew right then and there that all our hard work paid off. As the hearing continued, member after member sought the Attorney General’s view on this issue and asked to hear his thoughts on what actions to take.

At one point, Holder said: “…it is my responsibility as the Attorney General to enforce the law. If I see wrongdoing, I will pursue it to the full extent of the law.”

Four at Four

  1. The NY Times reports Industry ignored its scientists on climate change. “A document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the “Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming”, “its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.”

    “The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

  2. The Taliban hold valley in Pakistan as they remove some forces, according to the NY Times.

    On Friday, local political leaders in Buner, home to about one million people, met with Sufi Mohamed, the Taliban leader who negotiated a February truce in Swat, and Mohamed Javed, the commissioner of Malakand, whose authority extends over both Swat and Buner, local residents reported.

    Mr. Javed, who travels with a dual security contingent of police and Taliban, has been criticized in the local Pakistani press for having sympathies with the Taliban and for helping the militants enter Buner.

    After the talks, a convoy of Taliban vehicles left Buner, but Amir Zeb Bacha, the head of the Buner chapter of the Pakistan International Human Rights Organization, called the withdrawal “a tactical show.”

    The militants remained in control, according to a Taliban fighter reached by telephone and local residents. “They will come back when they want,” Mr. Bacha said. “They are in the mountains where they have made bunkers.”

    Meanwhile, the NY Times notes Democrats have qualms over escalating war in Afghanistan. “Congressional Democrats are voicing increased concern about the Obama administration’s plans to escalate military involvement in Afghanistan and to try to stabilize the rapid deterioration in Pakistan”.

    “I’ve got the sinking feeling we are getting sucked into something we will never get out of,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts.

    No kidding!

    Meanwhile, “On Friday, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in the region, told members of a committee in the House of Representatives that the Taliban and other extremists who have set up sanctuaries along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan are eroding security in Afghanistan and threaten ‘Pakistan’s very existence.'”

Four at Four continues with the staying in Iraq forever, Guantanamo Uighurs may be allowed to live in America, the drug wars, and how Obama released the torture memos.

Friday WWL Radio Line Up: The Americas, Pirates, Torture and Wisdom

Join Ed Encho, Gottlieb 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:

We will be starting off with a brief mention of the Venezuelan Polo Horse Poisoning into a conversation on The Summit of the Americas.

Next we take a look at the Pirates of the Somalian.

Our main topic follows with trying to predict what will become of the Torture Memos with reasoned debate about whether or not any type, or which type of Accountability will result.

In closing, we ponder about the American Guidestones. To wit, are these the rules of wisdom?


   Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

   Guide reproduction wisely-improving fitness and diversity.

   Unite humanity with a living new language.

   Rule passion-faith-tradition-and all things with tempered reason.

   Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.

   Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.

   Avoid petty laws and useless officials.

   Balance personal rights with social duties.

   Prize truth-beauty-love-seeking harmony with the infinite.

   Be not a cancer on the earth-leave room for nature-leave room for nature.


Gallup To Poll On Bush Investigations!!!

Via Sam Stein

An official at Gallup confirms that the polling firm will be conducting a survey this weekend on criminal investigations into the Bush years. The survey, likely to be released on Monday afternoon, will provide one the first measures of public sentiment on this topic since Barack Obama suggested he would be open to an independent commission investigating the use of now-outlawed interrogation techniques.

Elizabeth Mendes, an associate editor at Gallup, says the survey will ask “how closely people have been following the news about this issue, if they think the techniques were justified, and if they think there should be an investigation.” There could be another question relating to the makeup of such an investigation, though that has not been finalized.

The last time Gallup polled this issue was on February 12, when the firm found that 62 percent of the public supported some sort of investigation into the “possible use of torture in terror interrogation.” Thirty-eight percent favored a criminal investigation, 24 percent favored an investigation by an independent panel, and 34 percent said they favored neither.

Obama To Congress….STFU

(Note to Obama supporters, please see the requisite disclaimer and loyalty pledge at the end of the essay)

Ah, for the good old days of having the three independent branches of government that made democracy thrive!

For anyone who questions whether the precedents or paradigms of Bushco and the Unitary Executive Theory of Presidential power live on, be reassured that they do! Not to mention using those powers for political purposes!

The big difference? Bush NEVER backed down to Democrats.

So no, for those wondering and ready to pounce, the preceeding sentence proves I am not engaging in the heresy of Obama=Bush.

President Obama does back down to his political opponents. Unlike Bush.

In a lengthy exchange with House  Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Obama appeared to back away from a statement earlier this week that suggested he could support an independent commission to examine possible abuses, according to several attendees who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could discuss the private meeting freely. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, also seeking to clarify the president’s position, told reporters that “the president determined the concept didn’t seem altogether workable in this case” because of the intense partisan atmosphere built around the issue.

Apparently he is willing to silence his own party, use his influence to politicize justice and exert undue influence on the other branches of government to advance his political agenda. Which brings us to another way he does not equal Bush.  

His policies are much needed and incredibly admirable. That does not in any way excuse him from attempting to tell Congress what they should do in order to advance them. Or excuse him from “knuckling under” to the Hard Right. (Read that link!)

As Gibbs said:

“The last few days might be evidence of why something like this might just become a political back and forth.”  



Uh-huh. CITIZENS push for justice, an incredibly damning bipartisan Senate report is issued that directly states that torture was approved at the highest levels is issued, on the heels of the government being forced to release incredibly damning legal memos by the ACLU, that came on the heels of the incredibly damning leak of the ICRC report that charges torture….

The press (finally) starts reporting on torture, public outrage grows…

But then the Republicans start making scary noises about all of this evidence coming out and the apparently ludicrously partisan idea that someone MIGHT ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT ALL OF THIS EVIDENCE.

And THAT is a political back and forth???”


These are my distractions for you on this Friday.

They are all of light overcoming the darkness we sometimes seem trapped in.

In the beginning there was nothing.

And God created light

There was still nothing

But now you could see it.

To honor therevolutionarysieve`s request, I open with this.

Hopes Dreams & Aspirations


At the age of reason, we begin to see ourselves as what we would or could be, in numerous fantasies. These are manifested in dreams sometimes & in daydreaming at others. It would seem natural, that these reveries would usually cast us in a good light & unintentionally, always steer one away from the dark side.It has always been my fantasy that the dreamers of the world, the young ones, with the purity of their aspirations & hopes, should have theirs fullfilled.

First Amendment Friday 3 – Whitney v California -Sedition

Happy Friday and welcome to the 3rd in the First Amendment Friday series. This is a series looking at the Supreme Court decisions which have given shape to our First Amendment protections. In this phase of the series we are looking at the way that seditious speech has been defined. If you missed the first two installments of this series, you can find them at the links below:

First Amendment Friday 1 – Abrams v US

First Amendment Friday 2 – Gitlow v New York

Cross Posted at Square State

High Flyin’, Bare Naked, Out The Window

I Shall Be Free

The day AFTER Earth Day

I try to eschew Earth Day hoopla, because for me every day is Earth Day and it’s a bit too much of preaching to my choir. I’ve been heathen all my adult life, and mysterious Nerthus who gave Her name to our planet is one of my Vanic Deities, the mother of Yngve-Freyr and His twin sister, my Matron Goddess Freyja. The tendency of some to do the right thing only on Earth Day (or worse yet, to do nothing but TALK about it!) makes about as much sense to me as locking yourself into a little box on Sunday for an hour and claiming that after you leave that little box your worship is done for the week. But being a live and let live sort in general, I figure if that’s what gets them their jollies I don’t have to be there to like it, I’ll just go do things my way anyway and it is sure to take me sufficiently away from theirs.

So for my own cynical amusement, I spent the day AFTER Earth Day wondering how much of a haul I’d bring in. The car is full. I am guessing I’ll get about five to seven bucks for what I picked up. Seems to me that there are enough people NOT doing the right thing on Earth Day to the degree that if someone’s going to go out there and pick up cans for an ego trip, I say LET THEM, because it really doesn’t matter WHY they’re doing the right thing so long as they’re bloody well DOING it. Perhaps I should be glad from a financial perspective that I don’t have as much competition out there but believe me, I don’t entirely welcome the opportunity to have a cynical laugh about it.

If I did, I wouldn’t say a single word about it. I’d just do what I do and keep silent and hope no one else would join in. More nickels for little me… right? Wrong.

But that ended up not being the focus of the day. I am occasionally given opportunities by these little trips into the Big Blue Room to learn something else. I have decided to share what I learned with the rest of you about the growing problem of homelessness in this country.

Bush’s revenge: Cheney exposed

A new plot possibility is becoming evident in the final fade-out of the Bush administration. The rift between Bush and Cheney, who have spoken only once since Obama took office, may be explained by the tardy realization on the part of Bush that he was played for a fool by Cheney. In his last sorry months in office, Bush may finally have realized that uncle Dick ruined his Presidency, his family name, and his place in history.

But payback is a bitch, especially when dealing with someone as mean and vindictive as Junior Bush. I believe that Cheney was rebuffed by Bush in the final days – not just in the matter of pardoning Libby, but that he was denied blanket pardons of Bush’s whole sick crew, including Cheney, Addington, Libbey, the torture lawyers, and the rest of the Bush White House gangsters who might face prosecution. In short, Bush has left Cheney twisting in the wind. This explains both Bush’s low profile since leaving the White House, and Cheney’s frequent CYA appearances. Cheney is fighting desperately to avoid being dragged into a criminal prosecution with no chance of a Presidential pardon. Cheney’s position is now very vulnerable. He was always a master of back-room maneuvering under the protection of a powerful public figure. Now he must fend for himself, and with each ugly, defiant display of his demeanor, he invites the prosecutors to draw nearer.

I believe that there may be enough surviving documents, emails, and supportable recollections to send Dick Cheney to prison for war crimes. Convicting Cheney would be a fitting repudiation of the loathsome Bush era if Bush was nothing more than a sad little puppet dangling from Cheney’s strings. Perhaps the puppet will have his revenge.

Docudharma Times Friday April 24

 Sri Lanka Is

What Happens When

The World Doesn’t Care  


Friday’s Headlines:

U.S. to reveal alleged prison abuse photos

US journalists to face criminal trial in North Korea

Pakistan scrambles to repel Taliban advance

Silvio Berlusconi wants G8 to be in earthquake-stricken city of L’Aquila

Ken Loach leads British line-up seeking to score gold at Cannes

Martyrs of the Iraqi marshes

New bombings in Iraq steal thunder from top insurgent’s arrest

South Africa’s ANC teeters on edge of supermajority

18 shabby pirate suspects appear in court

Venezuelan court orders arrest for exiled Chávez foe

In Obama’s Inner Circle, Debate Over Memos’ Release Was Intense

Some Feared That a Partisan Outcry Could Obstruct Larger Agenda

By R. Jeffrey Smith, Michael D. Shear and Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, April 24, 2009

As President Obama met with top advisers on the evening of April 15, he faced one of the sharpest policy divides of his young administration.Five CIA directors — including Leon E. Panetta and his four immediate predecessors — and Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser had expressed firm opposition to the release of interrogation details in four “top secret” memos in which Bush administration lawyers sanctioned harsh tactics.

On the other side of the issue were Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and White House counsel Gregory B. Craig, whose colleagues during the campaign recall him expressing enthusiasm for fixing U.S. detainee policy.

Sri Lanka war toll near 6,500, UN report says

At least 14,000 wounded over last three months, according to United Nations figures

David Pallister, Gethin Chamberlain and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Friday 24 April 2009 09.51 BST

The United Nations says nearly 6,500 civilians have been killed and 14,000 wounded in fighting in Sri Lanka over the last three months, according to a UN document circulated among diplomatic missions.

Two UN officials privately confirmed the figures to the Guardian today. At least 2,000 people are understood to have been killed in the last month but the death toll does not include all of those killed in this week’s intense fighting. The UN has declined to publicly release its casualty figures.

The quarter-century civil war has flared in recent months as government forces pushed to crush the Tamil Tiger rebels in their remaining territory in the north.

According to the UN figures, 6,432 civilians have been killed in the fighting since 20 January and another 13,946 have been wounded.


U.S. Said to Seek a Chrysler Plan for Bankruptcy


Published: April 23, 2009

DETROIT – The Treasury Department is directing Chrysler to prepare a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as soon as next week, people with direct knowledge of the talks said Thursday.

The company faces a deadline of April 30 to come up with a viable business plan supported by its creditors, the United Automobile Workers union, and Fiat, the Italian car company that wants to acquire a stake in Chrysler.

The Obama administration has told Chrysler it will provide up to $6 billion in new financing, on top of the $4 billion in loans it has already given the company, if Chrysler can complete a deal by next Thursday with a cost structure that gives it a chance of survival. The creditors have so far balked at the terms suggested by the Treasury.

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