June 16, 2015 archive

Not quite dead yet.

The first thing that you need to realize is that no bad zombie idea in D.C. is dead no matter how many stakes you put through its heart and how much garlic and sunlight you expose it to if the Very Serious People have endorsed it.

But in a bit of encourging news time marches on and in this case to the benefit of normal folks like you and I.

Clearly there are not the votes to pass TPP (very bad zombie idea) and so they have done what they always do and extended the deadline.  The problem with that strategy in this case is that the other 12 nations are not dopes and they realize that if debate is extended through August (as seems entirely likely at this point) it will be consumed by the 2016 election cycle which would normally be the occasion for a Friday news dump distraction but under the current conditions will probably result in awkward, populist questions for the candidates.

Delay is defeat.  At least we hope so.

But the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and remember what I said about bad zombie ideas.  Next up, entitlement “reform” (that seems such a good thing, why didn’t we do that?).

GOP On Trade Deal: ‘No One Will Be Negotiating With Leader Pelosi On A Path Forward’

Ryan Grim and Jennifer Bendery, Huffington Post

Posted: 06/16/2015

For now, House Republican leaders simply don’t have the votes to pass the trade package and need more time to find them. They plan to take a procedural vote on Tuesday to give themselves until July 30 to come up with a way forward.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters on Tuesday that the vote was punted because the support isn’t there.

“Most of the discussion that occurred in the last few days had to do with cobbling together enough votes for TAA. I never thought that was going to be a very successful effort, and I think it proved not to be. So … it has now been abandoned, essentially,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks that was provided to HuffPost.

“The thought was if we could cobble together the votes to get enough [for] TAA that they would vote for it, and then send TAA and TPA to the president,” Hoyer continued. “But, I mean, that clearly ‑‑ I never thought that was going to work. And I think clearly they have concluded it wasn’t going to work because they couldn’t get sufficient votes from the Republicans. I don’t think they are going to get a lot of Democrats to change on TAA. There were 40 of us that voted for TAA, which meant the Republicans would have needed 100 and what, 78? And I don’t think there are 178 votes on the Republican side, as we saw, to vote for TAA.”

“It gives the Republicans time to figure out what they’re going to do,” Hoyer said of extending the vote deadline to July 30.

Great minds and so do ours.

Torture, the CIA and Helen Mirren

After much wrangling with the White House and the CIA, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released the 525 page executive summary of its full 6000 page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation better known as the Torture Report. After five years and $40 million, the bulk of the report remains classified. If the executive report is any sample of what the CIA did, the rest of the report is must be really damning.

In a laughable move today, the Senate today passed an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that would forbid the use of torture by any agent of the U.S. government and standardize certain noncoercive interrogation methods across the government’s military and intelligence arms. This is “laughable” because torture is already against the law in this country, President Obama chose not the enforce the laws.

Instead the Obama administration has kept hidden much of the evidence under the guise of “national security,” in clear violation of US and International laws. Even more laughable is President Obama’s statement after the release of the SSCI’s executive report when he said, “one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.”  It was nauseating to hear that statement praised. Without holding anyone accountable, by promoting and appointing to office those who authorized and ordered torture, Pres. Obama is complicit in their crimes.

Yesterday another CIA atrocity has been exposed:

CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation

By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

The Central Intelligence Agency had explicit guidelines for “human experimentation” – before, during and after its post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees – that raise new questions about the limits on the agency’s in-house and contracted medical research.

Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian on Monday, empower the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research”. The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency’s history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people.

CIA director George Tenet approved abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, designed by CIA contractor psychologists. He further instructed the agency’s health personnel to oversee the brutal interrogations – the beginning of years of controversy, still ongoing, about US torture as a violation of medical ethics.

But the revelation of the guidelines has prompted critics of CIA torture to question how the agency could have ever implemented what it calls “enhanced interrogation techniques” – despite apparently having rules against “research on human subjects” without their informed consent.

Indeed, despite the lurid name, doctors, human-rights workers and intelligence experts consulted by the Guardian said the agency’s human-experimentation rules were consistent with responsible medical practices. The CIA, however, redacted one of the four subsections on human experimentation.

“The more words you have, the more you can twist them, but it’s not a bad definition,” said Scott Allen, an internist and medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights.

The agency confirmed to the Guardian that the document was still in effect during the lifespan of the controversial rendition, detention and interrogation program.

After reviewing the document, one watchdog said the timeline suggested the CIA manipulated basic definitions of human experimentation to ensure the torture program proceeded.

“Crime one was torture. The second crime was research without consent in order to say it wasn’t torture,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a former war-crimes investigator with Physicians for Human Rights and now a researcher with Harvard University’s Humanitarian Initiative.

In one more of his memorable segments, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” enlisted Dame Helen Mirren to read parts of the executive report.

We don’t need another law, we need the torturers brought to justice.


TBC: Morning Musing 6.16.15

Today I have 3 articles on that Sunday Times Ed Snowden hit piece.

First, Glenn Greenwald’s dissection of just how bad it was:


Unless he cooked an extra-juicy steak, how does Snowden “have blood on his hands” if there is “no evidence of anyone being harmed?” As one observer put it last night in describing the government instructions these Sunday Times journalists appear to have obeyed: “There’s no evidence anyone’s been harmed but we’d like the phrase ‘blood on his hands’ somewhere in the piece.”

The whole article does literally nothing other than quote anonymous British officials. It gives voice to banal but inflammatory accusations that are made about every whistleblower from Daniel Ellsberg to Chelsea Manning. It offers zero evidence or confirmation for any of its claims. The “journalists” who wrote it neither questioned any of the official assertions nor even quoted anyone who denies them. It’s pure stenography of the worst kind: some government officials whispered these inflammatory claims in our ears and told us to print them, but not reveal who they are, and we’re obeying. Breaking!


On This Day In History June 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

June 16 is the 167th day of the year (168th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 198 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1933, The National Industrial Recovery Act is passed.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), officially known as the Act of June 16, 1933 (Ch. 90, 48 Stat. 195, formerly codified at 15 U.S.C. sec. 703), was an American statute which authorized the President of the United States to regulate industry and permit cartels and monopolies in an attempt to stimulate economic recovery, and established a national public works program. The legislation was enacted in June 1933 during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislative program. Section 7(a) of the bill, which protected collective bargaining rights for unions, proved contentious (especially in the Senate), but both chambers eventually passed the legislation and President Roosevelt signed the bill into law on June 16, 1933. The Act had two main sections (or “titles”). Title I was devoted to industrial recovery, and authorized the promulgation of industrial codes of fair competition, guaranteed trade union rights, permitted the regulation of working standards, and regulated the price of certain refined petroleum products and their transportation. Title II established the Public Works Administration, outlined the projects and funding opportunities it could engage in, and funded the Act.

The Act was implemented by the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA). Very large numbers of regulations were generated under the authority granted to the NRA by the Act, which led to a significant loss of political support for Roosevelt and the New Deal. The NIRA was set to expire in June 1935, but in a major constitutional ruling the U.S. Supreme Court held Title I of the Act unconstitutional on May 27, 1935, in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935). The National Industrial Recovery Act is widely considered a policy failure, both in the 1930s and by historians today. Disputes over the reasons for this failure continue, however. Among the suggested causes are that the Act promoted economically harmful monopolies, that the Act lacked critical support from the business community, and that the Act was poorly administered. The Act encouraged union organizing, which led to significant labor unrest. The Act had no mechanisms for handling these problems, which led Congress to pass the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Still no Thursday)

You know, there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

Being a self hating misogynist…

Talking about self hating, tonightly Rachel Dolezal with our panel of Natasha Leggerro, Killer Mike, and Robin Thede.



Look, I… I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.

And what is that?

I… am a librarian.

Next week’s guests-

Judd Apatow is probably on to talk about Trainwreck unless, of course, he’s on to talk about children’s tv stars jerking off in porn theaters.

I’ll have to tell you about my friend the clown’s six months in stir and the best pickup line ever sometime (c’mon, he was totally innocent and the only relevance the line has is that it’s the best one ever and helps explain why he was innocent because if you have a line like that you pretty much don’t need anything else).

Oh, how it connects (I’m told I’m sometimes obscure).  He had a really fine bicycle.

What?  This makes perfect sense.

The real news below.