April 28, 2009 archive

Justifying Torture: Scott Horton & Bruce Ackerman On Jay Bybee & His Torture Memos

Crossposted from Antemedius

Not a single Democrat questioned Bybee at the session, and the proceedings came to a quick conclusion. The following month he was confirmed by the full Senate. Just six months prior to the hearing, Jay Bybee had signed legal memos providing cover for CIA agents torturing detainees — yet Congress voted him to a lifetime on the federal bench. How did this happen? And what will become of Judge Bybee now?

American News Project via Real News Network – The Jay Bybee Problem

How did Jay Bybee breeze through confirmation for his appointment to the Federal Appeals Court?

Transcripts below…

Exposing two important myths about torture.

Torture apologists are shouting desperate arguments from the rooftops to justify their support for enhanced interrogation, and it is common to see people in liberal and progressive circles take a “no harm done” position regarding many of the techniques the US used on their political prisoners. Here, I want to discuss flaws in two common statements:  

Myth 1: It isn’t torture if the technique is psychological.

Myth 2: It isn’t torture because our techniques have no long term effects.

If we want to fight pushback — if we want to make sure that our country does not torture again — we need to understand what is wrong with these memes. In particular, we need to understand the popularized fiction that was created by the people who tortured in your name.  

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports Al Gore calls on world to burn less wood and fuel to curb ‘black carbon’. Al Gore “backed by government ministers and scientists, said that the soot, also known as “black carbon”, from engines, forest fires and partially burned fuel was collecting in the Arctic where it was creating a haze of pollution that absorbs sunlight and warms the air. It was also being deposited on snow, darkening its surface and reducing the snow’s ability to reflect sunlight back into space.”

    “The principle [climate change] problem is carbon dioxide, but a new understanding is emerging of soot,” said Gore. “Black carbon is settling in the Himalayas. The air pollution levels in the upper Himalayas are now similar to those in Los Angeles.”

    The soot “is accelerating the melting of ice in polar and mountainous regions.”

  2. The Washington Post reports Interior Secretary Ken Salazar seeks to vacate Bush-era mountain top removal mining rule. He “instructed the Justice Department yesterday to seek a court order to overturn a Bush administration regulation allowing mining companies to dump their waste near rivers and streams, calling the regulation ‘legally defective.'”

    “The government estimates that 1,600 miles of streams in Appalachia have been wiped out since the mid-1980s… Mining executives did not welcome Salazar’s move, saying they would explore legal options to keep the rule in place.”

  3. The Washington Post reports In Ecuador, high stakes in case against Chevron. Chevron is accused of having deliberately fouled a vast area of the northern Ecuadoran rain forest with pits filled with noxious sludge. The law suit against the oil company began in New York in 1993 and is being argued by lawyer and former oil worker, Pablo Fajardo, aand is his first case.”

    f the judge rules against Chevron, the company could face the largest damages award ever handed down in an environmental case…

    A report by a court-appointed team last year concluded that pollution caused mainly by Texaco’s Ecuadoran affiliate, Texaco Petroleum, had led to 1,401 cancer deaths in this stretch of Amazonian jungle. The team’s leader, Ecuadoran geologist Richard Cabrera, reported finding high levels of toxins in soil and water samples near Texaco’s production sites and assessed damages at up to $27.3 billion.

Four at Four continues with torture news below the fold.

The Reapublicans are DEAD, Jim

Only temporarily of course. Light cannot exist without dark, good cannot exist without evil, peanut butter cannot exist without jelly, etc.

But for now, just when we need it the most, they have reaped what they have sown.

They are just one good scandal away from being reduced ONLY to their base. And their base can only elect Reapublicans regionally. WHEN the torture investigations get rolling and the last Jack Bauer myths are stripped away, it is over for them.

Until the Democrats, sigh, screw up. And they will. And the cycle will start again.

No Arlen won’t be a GOOD Democrat, hell he was a lousy Republican too. I submit that this is far more important symbolically than politically. We certainly can’t count on his vote. Especially on truly Progressive legislation.

What this marks is the nadir of the radicalized irrelevancy of the Reapublicans pursuing the Taliban-like policies of the Radical Religious Right. Even Republicans are rejecting the Reapublicans.

This will make it easier for Snowe and Collins to cross over, this will make it easier for self preserving political hack Reapublicans to cross over on key issues. This will tempt other Weather Vane based politicians to escape the Bush fog and militant miasma of the …..now dead…. Reapublican party and vote the way The People want them to vote instead of the way the party wants them to.

It will, we fervently hope, make the remaining Radical Reapublicans rationalize even further and circle the wagons around their …now dead… “conservative principles.”

In other words…it is time for Obama and Harry Reid to….Not fear the Reapublicans.

Now our only obstacle to TRULY moving forward into a new progressive Era is the media, who will still find a way to worship them as somehow Serious People and a political force. because the media needs conflict, and only the oppositional force of the Reapublicans can provide that. Unless they have another story to dig their teeth into….

Such as nice juicy torture (and other Bush era scandals) investigations and trials. If that comes about, they will have a nice time picking apart the corpse of the Reapublicans.

Knock Wood.

Once we get over the hump of getting investigations started, we can start putting pressure on the Blue Dogs to …Go Left, Young Dems!

Breaking: Specter Switches!

Arlen Specter has released a statement that says he will change party affiliation to Democrat, giving Democrats a 60 – 40 margin in the Senate when Al Franken is seated.

This is no doubt due to polls showing that Toomey easily wins the Republican primary.

His full statement below.

Holy Filibuster, Batman! Sen. Specter Becomes A Democrat

In a move the Dog thought would never happen, Sen. Arlen Specter announced today that he will join the Democratic Party!

There had been lots of talk about this as Sen. Specter faced a very tough Primary challenge from the Club for Growth member Pat Toomey. This combined with the fact the Republican Party is shrinking and getting more not less conservative (more on that shortly) made it a good bet the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania would switch.

His last ditch effort to woo Republicans to rally to him by opposing EFCA turned to dust because Sen. Specter was willing to vote for the stimulus bill, if we cut somethings we kind of needed (Swine Flu anyone?)

Today Chris Cilliza of Washington Post is confirming Specter will change sides. When, not if, we seat Senator Franken that is the ball game boys and girls, we will have 60 votes in the Senate!

Sen Specter said the following:

“Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

That sound about right to the Dog. What do you think?  

The Republican Spiral, Down, Down, Down

There has been talk of the Republican Party becoming a regional party without much in the way of influence in the national debate, but until recently the Dog did not take this very seriously. After all, ours is a two party system. The few times where a third party has popped to anything like viability in the last 100 years it is has coalesced around a single presidential candidate (the Bull Moss with TR and Ross Perot with the Reform Party being the best examples) they have never managed to gain significant numbers of elected officials in State Houses or Congress.  

Playing For Change: Album Release

Songs Around The World CD/DVD In Stores Now!!



Docudharma Times Tuesday April 28

Republicans Filibuster

HHS Nominee Seleblius Over An Issue

That Has Nothing To Do With The

Cabinet Post In Question. Flu Epidemic?  

Not Important. Playing Politics More Important    

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Racial disparities persist in higher-paying jobs

Sri Lanka to end use of heavy weapons in war against Tamil Tigers

Pakistan snubs Brown in terror bust-up

The sunny corner of the Adriatic that is casting dark clouds over Europe

EU studying mission to Ukraine, Steinmeier says

After Iraq’s civil war, lessons in civility

Sick Gazans victims of Hamas-Fatah power struggle

Somali kidnappers free aid staff

Telecom sale tests Zimbabwe’s privatisation plans

Latin America Appears to Warm to IMF

Mexico outbreak traced to ‘manure lagoons’ at pig farm

From The Times

April 28, 2009

Chris Ayres in Mexico City

The first known case of swine flu emerged a fortnight earlier than previously thought in a village where residents have long complained about the smell and flies from a nearby pig farm, it emerged last night.

The Mexican Government said it initially thought that the victim, Edgar Hernandez, 4, was suffering from ordinary influenza but laboratory testing has since shown that he had contracted swine flu. The boy went on to make a full recovery, although it is thought that at least 148 others in Mexico have died from the disease, and the number is expected to rise.

News of the infected boy is expected to create controversy in Mexico because the boy lived in Veracruz state, home to thousands of farmers who claim that their land was stolen from them by the Mexican Government in 1992. The farmers, who call themselves Los 400 Pueblos – The 400 Towns – are famous for their naked marches through the streets of Mexico City.

Borders Are Tightened as Flu Cases Rise


Published: April 28, 2009

Countries around the world began tightening their border and immigration controls Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases of swine flu continued to rise.

The number of deaths believed attributable to swine flu climbed to as many as 152 on Tuesday – all of them in Mexico – as news agencies reported the number of confirmed cases of infection in the United States stood at 50 after further testing at a New York City school.

Other cases have been reported in Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California. In addition, The Associated Press reported that preliminary tests by health officials in New Jersey had identified five “probable” cases – four people who were recently in Mexico and one who had been in California.


U.S. Tries to Broker Sale Of Chrysler’s Loan Arm

Takeover by GMAC Is Meeting Resistance

By David Cho, Binyamin Appelbaum and Peter Whoriskey

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Treasury Department is racing to engineer the sale of Chrysler’s financing arm in a move the administration deems vital to saving the troubled automaker, but other federal agencies have not given their support, sources familiar with the matter said.

The Obama administration wants the nation’s largest auto-financing company, GMAC, to buy Chrysler Financial, which is the primary source of lending for Chrysler dealerships and car buyers, industry officials said. But GMAC needs a new round of backing to buy its longtime rival, sources said.

Treasury officials have not yet obtained the agreement of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve, sources said.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XXIV

Art Link



I hear and understand your song

I just do not choose to sing along

You say no one will win election

unless they believe in resurrection

In Jesus must the faithful believe

No different path can you conceive

My soul you tarnish, my heart is rent

Our country was not from Heaven sent

How will you make your restitution

for so flouting our Constitution?

It says our nation is based on laws

so release it from your greedy paws

This can never be the land of God

or our world will War grind down to sod

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 9, 2006

Late Night Karaoke

Just Listen

Torture and the “ticking time bomb”

This doesn’t seem to go away; pundits, ie, political idiots, that ultimately run to the “ticking time bomb” scenario to justify torture.

I have written about this before, but, will reiterate why this argument is pure idiocy again.  As a military-trained bomb disposal specialist (Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD) with 19 years experience in the field, having been to Iraq twice during wartime, and having worked as a bomb technician on, and after, 9/11 — you can be sure I know of what I speak.

So, let me explain why this is pure idiocy…

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