Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

Healthcare vs

Healthcare vs
Torture

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

FOX NEWS, HISTORY MORONS

If you're getting your "news" from Fox, you're getting dumbed down. But we Liberals already figured that out years ago.

A nation-wide survey taken a few years ago confirmed that people who regulary watch Fox News were the most uninformed of any cable news watchers. Why? Because Fox never lets the facts get in the way of their Republican propaganda and disinformation.

Here just the lastest in their idiocy:

FOX NEWS Shows Frederick Douglass in reference to the Lincoln-Douglas Debates:



Hillary Clinton grabbed some headlines this past weekend by challenging Barack Obama to a "Lincoln-Douglas style" debate. Of course, she was referencing the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during their Illinois Senate race.

Watch it:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

Iraq War supporters drive around with yellow magnets on their cars to show that they support the troops. Magnets are cheap. And that gesture is even cheaper.

Take a look at this video to see how the "Greatest Country in the World" supports its troops after they've served 1, 2, 3, or more deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan. Look at the squalor and filth they come home to. This is how the "Greatest Country in the World" treats its troops who sacrifice for us.

The media have attacked Senator Obama and questioned his patriotism because he hasn't worn a cheap metal flag pin.

But the Conservative Media ignore the Bush Administration's disgraceful, unpatriotic treatment of our returning troops.

We pour billions of dollars into Iraq, but we treat our soldiers who serve there like vermin. The Bush Administration has been in power for 8 years, 6 of those years they were in control of Congress. There is no excuse for this.

I thought the Bush Administration couldn't get any worse vis-a-vis treatment of returning troops when the Walter Reed scandal was uncovered. But guess what? It can, and continues.

Support Our Troops. Words. Just words. And the Conservative Media still think Republicans are strong on supporting the military.

Yeah. Right.



Friday, April 25, 2008

WALT WHITMAN, THIS IS WHAT YOU SHALL DO:


Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men-go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families-re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

JOHN MC CAIN, FLIP-FLOPPER EXTRAORDINAIRE


McCain was against tax cuts for the rich before he was for them.


When John Kerry changed his mind, the "liberal" media screamed FLIP-FLOPPER! FLIP-FLOPPER!


When McCain does a flip-flop, it's "...learn[ing] from experience."


And the wingnuts call it a liberal media. Ha!



McCain Offers Tax Policies He Once Opposed
Reversal Includes New Support for Bush Cuts

By
Jonathan Weisman

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, April 25, 2008


On May 26, 2001, after then-Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R.I.) cast his vote against President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut, he trudged back to his office, convinced, he recalled, that he had been the lone Republican to oppose the largest tax cut in two decades.

But Chafee's staff told him that one other Republican, who had largely avoided the grueling efforts at compromise, had joined him in dissent. That senator, John McCain, was marching to his own beat, Chafee said, impervious to pressure from either side.

Now that he is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, however, McCain is marching straight down the party line. The economic package he has laid out embraces many of the tax policies he once decried: extending Bush's tax cuts he voted against, offering investment tax breaks he once believed would have little economic benefit and granting the long-held wishes of tax lobbyists he has often mocked


[snip]


To supporters, McCain has simply seen the light and now understands the power that business tax relief has to spur economic growth and innovation. Said J.D. Foster, a former Bush White House and Treasury tax policy expert, now at the Heritage Foundation: "It's logical that he wouldn't be repeating the arguments he made then. We all learn from experience."


To critics, it is political pandering.


[snip]


Holtz-Eakin urged skeptics to "wind the clock way back," saying McCain has supported lower taxes and a smaller federal government throughout his political career.

But McCain's conflicts with fellow Republicans over taxes date back well before his differences with Bush. In December 1994, after his party swept to control of Congress on tax-cut promises, he challenged Ronald Reagan's legacy when he warned, "I think we would be making a terrible mistake to go back to the '80s, where we cut all of those taxes and all of a sudden now we've got a debt that we've got to pay on an annual basis that is bigger than the amount that we spend on defense."




[snip]


"He's put himself in a position where a conversation about the economy is a conversation about Democratic tax increases and Republican lower taxes, and that's where any Republican wants to be," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who has clashed fiercely with McCain in the past.
But a change of position can always be used by the opposition, and Democrats have already begun.



"He's promising . . . tax cuts that he once voted against because he said they offended his conscience," Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) said Tuesday night. "Well, they may have stopped offending John McCain's conscience somewhere along the road to the White House, but George Bush's economic policies still offend ours."


Monday, April 21, 2008

POETRY BY NAOMI FEIGELSON CHASE

CLIMBING THE LADDER

When the bolts are shot,
the seals which lock the mind removed,
you will be tempered.
If you cannot prepare by day, then at night.
Choose a lonely hour and tell no one.
Wash your linen. Sit in your closet.
Withdraw from the seduction of your face,
your skin's anxiety,
the blast of your desire.
Take ink, pen and write.
When you begin imagining the Name,
discard your tablet.
Return to your body.
Eat, drink, put on white.
It fits to fear your journey.

Naomi Feigelson Chase
From Gittel, the Would-Be-Messiah
A Novel in Verse
Published by Turning Point, 2005



RETRIBUTION


This is the hour's coldest, the month's dog,
When pavement turns to frazil ice.

Why wait for a miraculous birth.

A collop of the sun, rouged for hours,
Freezes black.

The cat won't budge
From her kind hamper.

Fall into Greenland's water,
You won't come up again.

The horse of the sun comes riding.
The boy scrambles from his chamber.

I am the chamber, the boy.
It is not only my life I must answer for.

This is my last white coffee.
This is retribution.

White horse, your face is flushed.
There is black grease below your eyes,

Like an athlete's,
Blocking glare.

This story is made up as I go,
A silk lie, a stained

Wedding robe, a red lined cradle,
Black breath on a mirror.

It ends. It never ends.

Copyright, Naomi Feigelson Chase
Pubished in Harvard Magazine

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT JOHN AND CINDY


Sir Charles of Cogitamus asks some interesting questions:

Do you think if Barack Obama had left his seriously ill wife after having had multiple affairs, had been a member of the "Keating Five," had had a relationship with a much younger lobbyist that his staff felt the need to try and block, had intervened on behalf of the client of said young lobbyist with a federal agency, had denounced then embraced Jerry Falwell, had denounced then embraced the Bush tax cuts, had confused Shiite with Sunni, had confused Al Qaeda in Iraq with the Mahdi Army, had actively sought the endorsement and appeared on stage with a man who denounced the Catholic Church as a whore, and stated that he knew next to nothing about economics -- do you think it's possible that Obama would have been treated differently by the media than John McCain has been?

Possible?

My answer is: A resounding NO! The media would have been merciless on Obama had they drudged up those scandals.

But instead of concentrating on policy issues, the media would rather concentrate on fake (see Republican talking points via Drudge) character flaws, like not wearing a flag pin in one's lapel, like using the word "bitter" to describe how some Americans feel about how they've been treated by the government, like not being able to bowl well. This is more serious than having been involved in scandals, both personal and political, and being a rather confused politician who should be absolutely sharp on who the Sunni and Shiite are and if it is al Qaeda or the Mahdi Army that's in Iraq.

And -- this is fun to contemplate -- if Michelle Obama had been an adulteress, drug addict thief, -- do you think that she would be subject to slightly different treatment from the media than Cindy McCain has been?

Anyone?

*Holding hand in air and shaking it *

Me! Me! I can answer that!!

If Michelle Obama had been an adulteress AND a drug addict thief? Are you kidding? Would the MSM look the other way and politely ignore this juicy tidbit on a woman who may become the next First Lady of the United States of America! Where have you been living, Sir Charles!

We can overlook these huge character flaws and "mistakes" in women who are the pampered daughters of very wealthy men and the pampered wives of very prominent politicians.

But had Mrs. Obama done what Mrs. McCain did, the MSM would have destroyed her by now, as unfit to set foot in the White House. Believe me.

They've tried to label her as unpatriotic because she said for the first time in her adult life she was proud to be an America. Obviously meaning that she was proud that the political climate had changed so that an African-American could actually be in competition for the highest office in the land. And millions an millions of Americans and I totally agree with her.

But the wingnuts--overlooking adultery, addiction, and theft in Cindy McCain, will never, never let Michelle Obama forget those words, not matter how wrong they are in their interpretations.

IOKIYAR!

SENATOR OBAMA WINS "BLUE COLLAR" NEWSPAPER ENDORSEMENT, AND MORE...




Blue-Collar Philly Paper Taps Obama
Posted Apr 17, 08 12:25 PM CDT in Politics



The Philadelphia Daily News endorsed Barack Obama today, calling the Democratic choice one “between the past and the future” and saying the campaign season has been a great indication of eventual governing style. Obama's performance proves his administration will be “well-managed, inclusive … freer of the corrupting influence of big-money donors and corporate interests.” The paper says Obama’s vision is “badly” needed.


The editors asked, “Should Democrats choose someone who will employ hard-won—even bitter—experiences gained in a past Democratic administration, or reach beyond political truisms toward a new (and untried) model of governing?” The answer isn’t “obvious,” but it’s Obama.





And this:




(AP / PHILADELPHIA) — Barack Obama was greeted by the largest crowd of his campaign Friday night in Philadelphia.Some 35,000 people jammed into Independence Park to see the Democratic presidential candidate, four days before this state's crucial April 22 primary





And this:


Posted April 18, 2008 12:24 PM
by John McCormick

ERIE, Pa. -- Sen. Barack Obama has won the backing of former senators Sam Nunn and David Boren, his campaign announced today.

Nunn and Boren will also serve as advisers on Obama's National Security Foreign Policy Team. Nunn was a one-time chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, while Boren was the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
They are not superdelegates, Obama's campaign said. But they are influential and well-respected past members of Congress who could help sway other party elders.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

JAMES WRIGHT

April is poetry month. I'll be posting poems inbetween political posts for the rest of April.

I'm starting with James Wright, the Ohioan, with a bow to Progressive Eruptions' frequent commenter, Patrick M.

I never heard James Wright read in person, but I did attend a reading by his son, Franz Wright, with whom he had been estranged and had a difficult relationship. Franz Wright is also a poet, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004, and has had several books published.

In the bio I've linked to, you will read that J. Wright studied the poems of Georg Trakl . On a visit to Austria, I visited the home in Vienna, where he lived and wrote.

Here is one of J. Wright's most famous poems, followed by a little gem, titled "The Jewel":


LYING IN A HAMMOCK AT WILLIAM DUFFY'S
FARM IN PINE ISLAND, MINNESOTA

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

THE JEWEL

There is this cave
In the air behind my body
That nobody is going to touch:
A cloister, a silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind,
My bones turn to dark emeralds.

Monday, April 14, 2008

BITTER SMALL TOWN PEOPLE

Robert Reich:

I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 61 years ago. My father sold $1.98 cotton blouses to blue-collar women and women whose husbands worked in factories.

Years later, I was secretary of labor of the United States, and I tried the best I could – which wasn’t nearly good enough – to help reverse one of the most troublesome trends America has faced: The stagnation of middle-class wages and the expansion of povety. Male hourly wages began to drop in the early 1970s, adjusted for inflation. The average man in his 30s is earning less than his father did thirty years ago.

Yet America is far richer. Where did the money go? To the top.Are Americans who have been left behind frustrated? Of course. And their frustrations, their anger and, yes, sometimes their bitterness, have been used since then -- by demagogues, by nationalists and xenophobes, by radical conservatives, by political nuts and fanatical fruitcakes – to blame immigrants and foreign traders, to blame blacks and the poor, to blame "liberal elites," to blame anyone and anything.Rather than counter all this, the American media have wallowed in it.

Some, like Fox News and talk radio, have given the haters and blamers their very own megaphones. The rest have merely "reported on" it. Instead of focusing on how to get Americans good jobs again; instead of admitting too many of our schools are failing and our kids are falling behind their contemporaries in Europe, Japan, and even China; instead of showing why we need a more progressive tax system to finance better schools and access to health care, and green technologies that might create new manufacturing jobs, our national discussion has been mired in the old politics.

Blog: http://www.robertreich.blogspot.com/


Susan Bodnar:

"I was also born in Pennsylvania to a working class family. My grandparents were coal miners, mill workers and sometimes farmers and many of my relatives lost their lives to mine accidents and health to black lung, emphysema, and other cancers.

Mining companies made lots of money off those workers and that land and when the coal was gone they moved on leaving a barren scarred earth, and some very bitter people.

These workers gave everything they had to participate in an American dream that that left them far behind and without an opportunity to catch the tails of prosperity.

I can go on and on about all that came next - a Vietnam war that lured young men with college educations (like my dad and uncle), alcoholism, drug abuse, and now Iraq - but lets just say that Obama was completely correct to note and talk about the bitterness and [Robert] Reich is brave to stand behind his comments.

If the MSM is all worked up about the anger of black Americans, just wait until working America takes the lids of their resentment. I suppose that turning Obama into an elitist is far easier than coming to terms with his acumen. "

--Susan Bodnar, PhD psychologist in private clinical practice; Adjunct Faculty member Teachers College at Columbia University, The William Alanson White Institute, and The Mitchell Relational Center; Assistant Editor Psychoanalytic Dialogues

Blog: http://climatepysch.blogspot.com/

Blogger from "A Bag Full of Health and Politics:


I am one of those rural Americans that the Clinton campaign is trying to pass out "I'm not bitter" buttons to.

But I am bitter.

The failure of Washington politicians to truly reform health care has totally shattered my life. I've become a statistic.

Damn Right I'm Bitter. Shortly after remission I was invited to this bizarre Washington dinner for a few patients, nurses, and Congresspeople/big media people. Tony Snow and Bob Schieffer were there. The message of those people was so out of touch with the message of my experiences and of the experiences of the countless fellow patients I talked with in waiting rooms across Baltimore. The Washington set thought that once someone beat back a disease, that their problems were over and the sky was the limit. They didn't think about having to file endless appeals with insurance companies because of improper denials.

They didn't think about the staggering copays which bankrupt many patients.

They didn't think about the fact that a job might not be there for a person after a long illness. And they didn't think about the fact that employers don't like to hire people with resume gaps because it's a health red flag. Their system is different.

Tony Snow or Bob Schieffer would both have a job if they had to take a year or two off for medical reasons (they both have the same condition--Crohn's Disease/Ulcerative Colitis) as I do. Didn't work out that way for me. Of course, I'm bitter. And I absolutely have a right to be.

Blog: http://healthybagofpolitics.blogspot.com/


And one more:

I know Obama didn't mean to demean anyone who stands for 2nd amendment or abortion rights. He was responding to a specific question ("why do some in the middle and lower classes vote against their economic self interest?") His answer was spot on!

I grew up in a small town in Utah, and when Bill Clinton was discussing an increase in the minimum wage, all my coworkers in the restaurant where I washed dishes were opposed to it because Rush Limbaugh said it was a bad idea--and ALL OF THEM LIVED OFF MINIMUM WAGE!!!

Clinton was trying to give them more money and they told him to shove it. (These co-workers weren't Mormon, BTW, but rather the beer and shot huntin' crowd Hilary is currently courting in PA)...

Blog: http://www.xanga.com/n8ma

Sunday, April 13, 2008

ABOUT U.S. USE OF TORTURE




"The U.S. is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the U.S. and the community of law abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating and prosecuting all acts of torture."

George W. Bush, U.N. Torture Victims Recognition Day, June 26, 2003

Images of Abu Ghraib:



About U.S. Use of Torture

Torture is prohibited under U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2340. The definition of torture used is as follows:


1. "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;


2. "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -


(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;


(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;


(C) the threat of imminent death; or


(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality

Since September 11, 2001, however, members of the Bush administration, including President Bush and former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, have made statements and issued memos, many of them classified, that signal shifts in that policy.

For example:

Descriptions of abuse, torture, and murder at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison match experiences of detainees in prisons from Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Brooklyn, and elsewhere around the world.

Most of the reported 108 deaths of prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan have been caused by torture and abuse.

Since September 11, 2001, the CIA has sent between 100 and 150 suspects overseas for interrogation. The U.S. government euphemistically refers to the practice as "extraordinary rendition," but it is commonly being called "outsourcing torture." The best known rendition incident is that of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian who was diverted to Syria for more than a year of interrogation and torture after changing planes at New York's JFK Airport while returning home from a trip overseas.

A March 19, 2005, article in The Guardian reported, "The floating population of 'ghost detainees', according to US and UK military officials, now exceeds 10,000." A March 2005 article in the Washington Post reveals that the U.S.


Army and the CIA agreed on the ghost detainees at Abu Ghraib.

The American public and the press overwhelmingly condemned torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment as morally wrong. Their use violates U.S. law and international treaties and endangers U.S. military personnel should they be captured.

Moreover, according to international law, testimony obtained by using torture is inadmissible. Information obtained via such methods is often false.


Consequently, in July 2004, the German government dropped charges against Mounir Mtassadeq, alleged to have been a member of al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell, because the testimony of Ramzi Binalshieb and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, both held by the CIA, had reportedly been obtained using torture.


FBI email messages from May 2004 that were partially declassified in March 2005 revealed that


(1) intelligence obtained at Guantanamo Bay using harsh methods was "suspect at best" and


(2) the FBI had made it known to the Pentago that it "has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques."



Saturday, April 12, 2008

"HISTORY WILL NOT JUDGE THIS KINDLY." America's Shame


In the late 1990s, the American public couldn't get enough of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and the cable and network news outlets ran with it 24/7.

In the early months of 2008, the American public learned that the highest officials in the US government actually plotted, in the White House, ingenious ways to break US and international laws and torture al Qaeda detainees in order to get information from them.

I don't hear 24/7 coverage of this scandal. Maybe if some of the principals were having sex at the same time they were discussing torture methods, America would be fascinated by this amazing piece of news.

The national chest-thumpers who bellow 24/7 that this is "The Greatest Country In The World" have no right to their bellowing. We are no longer "The Greatest." We have sunk to the level of our most execrable enemies and dishonored the men and women who have died protecting what this country stood for. Under this odious administration, we have betrayed our highest principles.

In a time of extreme danger and threat, this country gave up its moral authority.

We didn't have to do this.


From ABC news:


Bush Aware of Advisers' Interrogation Talks

President Says He Knew His Senior Advisers Discussed Tough Interrogation Methods


Highly placed sources said CIA directors Tenet and later Porter Goss along with agency lawyers briefed senior advisers, including Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Powell, about detainees in CIA custody overseas.


"It kept coming up. CIA wanted us to sign off on each one every time," said one high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. "They'd say, 'We've got so and so. This is the plan.'"


Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved. "These discussions weren't adding value," a source said. "Once you make a policy decision to go beyond what you used to do and conclude it's legal, [you should] just tell them to implement it."

Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.


According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."
The Principals also approved interrogations that combined different methods, pushing the limits of international law and even the Justice Department's own legal approval in the 2002 memo, sources told ABC News.


At one meeting in the summer of 2003 -- attended by Cheney, among others -- Tenet made an elaborate presentation for approval to combine several different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time, according to a highly placed administration source.


A year later, amid the outcry over unrelated abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the controversial 2002 legal memo, which gave formal legal authorization for the CIA interrogation program of the top al Qaeda suspects that was leaked to the press. A new senior official in the Justice Department, Jack Goldsmith, withdrew the legal memo -- the Golden Shield -- that authorized the program.



But the CIA had captured a new al Qaeda suspect in Asia. Sources said CIA officials that summer returned to the Principals Committee for approval to continue using certain "enhanced interrogation techniques."


Rice, sources said, was decisive. Despite growing policy concerns -- shared by Powell -- that the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources say she did not back down, telling the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do it."

Friday, April 11, 2008

WATERBOARDING IS TORTURE. PERIOD. THERE IS NO HONOR HERE


This extensive piece was written by Malcolm W. Nance for the eJournal "Small Wars Journal."

Malcolm W. Nance is a counter-terrorism and terrorism intelligence consultant for the U.S. government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security and Intelligence agencies. A 20-year veteran of the US intelligence community's Combating Terrorism program and a six year veteran of the Global War on Terrorism he has extensive field and combat experience as a field intelligence collections operator, an Arabic speaking interrogator and a master Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) instructor.

"...the Attorney General nominee Judge Michael Mukasey refused to define waterboarding terror suspects as torture. On the same day MSNBC television pundit and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough quickly spoke out in its favor. On his morning television broadcast, he asserted, without any basis in fact, that the efficacy of the waterboard a viable tool to be used on Al Qaeda suspects.

Scarborough said, "For those who don't know, waterboarding is what we did to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the Al Qaeda number two guy that planned 9/11. And he talked …" He then speculated that “If you ask Americans whether they think it's okay for us to waterboard in a controlled environment … 90% of Americans will say 'yes.'” Sensing that what he was saying sounded extreme, he then claimed he did not support torture but that waterboarding was debatable as a technique: "You know, that's the debate. Is waterboarding torture? … I don't want the United States to engage in the type of torture that [Senator] John McCain had to endure."


In fact, waterboarding is just the type of torture then Lt. Commander John McCain had to endure at the hands of the North Vietnamese. As a former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the US Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, California I know the waterboard personally and intimately. SERE staff were required undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception. I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school’s interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques used by the US army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What was not mentioned in most articles was that SERE was designed to show how an evil totalitarian, enemy would use torture at the slightest whim. If this is the case, then waterboarding is unquestionably being used as torture technique.


The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt. Couple that with waterboarding and the entire medley not only “shock the conscience” as the statute forbids -it would terrify you. Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.



We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like “24”, are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks. Having been a rescuer in one of those incidents and personally affected by both attacks, I am bewildered at how casually we have thrown off the mantle of world-leader in justice and honor. Who we have become? Because at this juncture, after Abu Ghraieb and other undignified exposed incidents of murder and torture, we appear to have become no better than our opponents.


With regards to the waterboard, I want to set the record straight so the apologists can finally embrace the fact that they condone and encourage torture.

[snip]


Not A Fair Trade for America’s Honor


I have stated publicly and repeatedly that I would personally cut Bin Laden’s heart out with a plastic MRE spoon if we per chance meet on the battlefield. Yet, once captive I believe that the better angels of our nature and our nation’s core values would eventually convince any terrorist that they indeed have erred in their murderous ways. Once convicted in a fair, public tribunal, they would have the rest of their lives, however short the law makes it, to come to terms with their God and their acts.


This is not enough for our President. He apparently secretly ordered the core American values of fairness and justice to be thrown away in the name of security from terrorists. He somehow determined that the honor the military, the CIA and the nation itself was an acceptable trade for the superficial knowledge of the machinations of approximately 2,000 terrorists, most of whom are being decimated in Iraq or martyring themselves in Afghanistan. It is a short sighted and politically motivated trade that is simply disgraceful.



There is no honor here.
It is outrageous that American officials, including the Attorney General and a legion of minions of lower rank have not only embraced this torture but have actually justified it, redefined it to a misdemeanor, brought it down to the level of a college prank and then bragged about it. The echo chamber that is the American media now views torture as a heroic and macho.


Torture advocates hide behind the argument that an open discussion about specific American interrogation techniques will aid the enemy. Yet, convicted Al Qaeda members and innocent captives who were released to their host nations have already debriefed the world through hundreds of interviews, movies and documentaries on exactly what methods they were subjected to and how they endured. In essence, our own missteps have created a cadre of highly experienced lecturers for Al Qaeda’s own virtual SERE school for terrorists.


Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle need to stand up for American values and clearly specify that coercive interrogation using the waterboard is torture and, except for limited examples of training our service members and intelligence officers, it should be stopped completely and finally –oh, and this time without a Presidential signing statement reinterpreting the law.


Please read the entire post here:

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/10/waterboarding-is-torture-perio/

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BUSH ADMINISTRATION SHAMES AMERICA

UPDATE I: See below.


One has to laugh (cry?) at the Republicans--no not all Republicans, only the extremists who run the country just now--who were apoplectic over Obama's pastor when it was revealed he shouted in a moment of wild emotion "God damn America!" And yet these same hypocrites remain silent over what BushCo. has perpetrated in all our names. I hope what is stated at the end of this post that is over at ThinkProgress comes true.



ABC Report: Bush’s ‘Principal’ Advisers OK’d Torture


ABC News reported tonight that President Bush’s most senior and trusted advisers met in “dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House” beginning in 2002 to approve the use of “combined” interrogation techniques (the joint use of harsh interrogation techniques). Those tactics included whether detainees “would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.”


Members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee — Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft — approved the use of these techniques. “Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved.” According to ABC’s report, Ashcroft indicated he was troubled by the meetings:


According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”
Watch ABC’s report:



Bush’s former Secretary of Homeland Security — Tom Ridge — has said there is “no doubt” that waterboarding is torture.



Marc Ambinder writes, "[I]t remains one of those hidden secrets in Washington that a Democratic Justice Department is going to be very interested in figuring out whether there's a case to be made that senior Bush Administration officials were guilty of war crimes."


UPDATE:

Former Bush official: Waterboarding is torture

‘No doubt,’ says Tom Ridge, first Homeland Security secretary.

WASHINGTON - The first secretary of the Homeland Security Department says waterboarding is torture.

"There's just no doubt in my mind — under any set of rules — waterboarding is torture," Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.


"One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture," Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. "And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is — and will always be — torture. That's a simple statement."

[snip]

Ridge, a lawyer, wades into the waterboarding debate with both a military and civilian background. He is also a former Pennsylvania governor and congressman. He has since started his own homeland security consulting firm.



"As a former soldier, I will tell you that we go to great pains, and a lot of men and women, who serve in the military at risk of their own lives, do everything they can to minimize civilian casualties and certainly do everything they can to respect the Geneva Convention."


Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22735168/

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

MC CAIN'S OUT-OF-CONTROL TEMPER


This incident by McCain is reported in a forthcoming book "The Real McCain" by Cliff Schecter.


Much examination of Obama's character was given in print, on the internet, and on cable over what his pastor said. Not what Obama said.


According to the man who wrote and documented this, McCain shows an incredibly volitile temperament. Who'd want to associate with a man who so easily humiliated and defamed his wife in public? It's disgusting. War hero or not. He doesn't appear to be able to control his temper, nor his real feelings toward women.


He said it. Not his pastor.


John McCain's temper is well documented. He's called opponents and colleagues "shitheads," "assholes" and in at least one case "a fucking jerk."
But a new book on the presumptive Republican nominee will air perhaps the most shocking angry exchange to date.



The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, which will arrive in bookstores next month, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop. An advance copy of the book was obtained by RAW STORY.



Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.


The man who was known as "McNasty" in high school has erupted in foul-languaged tirades at political foes and congressional colleagues more-or-less throughout his career, and his quickness to anger has been an issue on the presidential campaign trail as evidence of his fury has surfaced.
As Schecter notes, McCain's rage is not limited to the political spectrum, and even his family cannot be spared the brute force of his anger.



Schecter, who also blogs at The Agonist, said in an interview the anecdote is "an early example of his uncontrollable temper." In the book he outlines several other examples of McCain losing his cool and raises the question of how that would affect a McCain presidency.



What should voters make of this pattern? In February 2008 Tim Russert succinctly described McCain on MSNBC's Morning Joe. A devilish grin spread from ear to ear as Russert, no McCain hater, leaned forward and spoke in a whisper, "He likes to fight." Russert got it right. But the big question isn't whether McCain likes to fight: it's who, when, and how.



The exchange between McCain and his wife was not reported anywhere when it happened, Schecter said (a LexisNexis database search confirms this). In 1992, McCain's mention in the national media revolved mostly around his involvement in the Keating Five scandal, and only local reporters closely followed his re-election bid.




McCain is well known for his rapport with the national media covering his presidential bid (he's jokingly referred to the press as "my base"), but Schecter said this incident was buried not out of fealty to the Arizona senator. Rather, it was uneasiness about how to get such a coarse exchange into a family newspaper, and he didn't fault the local press for not covering the incident.



"Members of the media are squeamish covering stuff like this so they let it go," Schecter told RAW STORY in an interview Monday. "Back in '92, when people use naughty words, [reporters] don't know as much what to do with it."
Much has changed since then. President Bush's reference to a New York Times reporter as a "major league asshole" was reported in at least 47 newspapers during the 2000 campaign, when the off-color remark was overheard, according to a database search. And more than a dozen newspapers have reported Dick Cheney's recommendation that Sen. Patrick Leahy "fuck yourself."





McCain and his aides have brushed off suggestions that his temper could impede his ability to perform the sometimes-delicate tasks asked of a president. The candidate was asked about his legendary temper last week on "Fox News Sunday," where he cited his ability to work "across the aisle" while in the Senate.




"You can't scare people or intimidate them if you're going to reach agreement with your colleagues and your contemporaries And I've worked hard at that, and that's what the American people want," McCain said. " The second thing is if I lose my capacity for anger, then I shouldn't be president of the United States. ... When I see the waste and corruption in Washington, I get angry."


Getting angry over waste and corruption is one thing, McCain, humiliating your wife in public is a whole other situation. Where were your controls? Do you have any? You want to be president? Whew!


Saturday, April 5, 2008

TWO CONSERVATIVES AT PROGRESSIVE ERUPTIONS ASSERT DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS HARMFUL TO AFRO-AMERICAN INTERESTS

Senator Barack Obama in his speech “A More Perfect Union” invited Americans into a discussion on race. In my last post, I featured E.J. Dionne’s April 4 Washington Post article “When Liberalism’s Moment Ended” and two of the three who commented on the post made some curious assertions.

One who goes by the name “citytroll” said this:

"And since the death of King his dream has been hijacked by the poverty pimps and blacks have been treated in the same manner as the house slaves of old."

And j_g confusedly comments and contradicts herself by saying this:

"the liberal has still kept the black man in his low position in the democrat party and society.

The many that now see that this has always been the case are lifting themselves up and away from poverty and the poverty pimp leadership. They see that being addicted to government handouts and having to rely on the government has done nothing but make their condition even worse."


Curious, isn’t it, that they both use the phrase “poverty pimp.” Must be some new conservative talking point.

No matter. As I thought about their reactions and comments, it occurred to me that both of these conservatives have exceedingly low opinions of Afro-Americans.

They state unequivocally that the Democratic Party has kept the black American down and addicted to government handouts, which have made their condition worse—to the unhappy point of being “the house slave of old.”

J_g purports two opposing things: 1) that “the liberal has kept the black man in his low position in the democrat party and society;” and

2) Somehow while the democrat party keeps the black man low in his position, some of our Afro-American citizens manage to lift themselves up and away from poverty and the poverty pimp leadership. Amazing.

What strikes the reader immediately upon reading these impassioned opinions is the fact that their opinion of the Afro-American population is 1) racist, and 2) very low.

Why? First of all, the Afro-American population is diverse and certainly a good portion of our fellow citizens with non-white skin is very well educated and quite successful—they are hardly “low in…position.”

Both citytroll and j_g rage at how the “Democrat” party keeps our fellow black Americans from attaining the American dream. But that is patronizing, isn’t it. If the Democratic Party were so sinister in keeping large groups of our Afro-American brothers and sisters “down” wouldn’t the Afro-American population notice this? And leave?

The fact that they stay loyal to the Democratic Party can mean only one thing:

THE AFRICAN-AMERICANS WHO BELONG TO THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY FEEL WELCOMED THERE AND ARDENTLY BELIEVE THEIR BEST INTERESTS ARE SERVED BY THIS PARTY.

The conservative Republicans, and j_g and citytroll in particular, engage in awful racism by implying that the African-Americans who stay with the Democratic Party are too dumb to know they are being exploited. What other explanation could there be for millions and millions of citizens to stay with a political party that j_g and citytroll insist is harmful to Afro-Americans’ interests?

Here’s where their patronizingly, Big Daddy Knows Best attitude kicks in. THEY see how terribly treated our fellow Afro-Americans are and don’t understand why they stay affiliated with the Democrats.

I would point out to j_g, that while she asserts that “The many that now see that this has always been the case are lifting themselves up and away from poverty and the poverty pimp leadership. They see that being addicted to government handouts and having to rely on the government has done nothing but make their condition even worse.”

These groups are still Democrats. In fact over 96% (maybe 98%) of voting Black Americans vote the straight Democratic ticket.

Do you, j_g and citytroll, want to tell this huge, diverse group of people that they don’t know what’s best for them and that you do?

Friday, April 4, 2008

WHEN LIBERALISM'S MOMENT ENDED



NOTE:

John McCain opposed honoring Dr. King with a holiday.

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2008, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/

John McCain today brought his effort to reinvent himself for the general election to a new low by misleading the voters on his full record on a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. McCain tried to suggest that his opposition to a holiday honoring Dr. King was limited to his 1983 vote against a federal holiday. In reality, McCain maintained his opposition to it until at least 1989, voted against funding for the commission working to promote the King Holiday in 1994, and used divisive language about state's rights to defend himself. McCain even supported Republican efforts to repeal a holiday in his state in 1987.

1983: McCain Voted Against Law Creating National Martin Luther King Holiday. In 1983, McCain voted against passing a bill to designate the third Monday of every January as a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That was the year the holiday was passed into law, supported by 338 members of the House and 78 members of the Senate. [1983 House Vote #289, 8/2/1983; 1983 Senate Vote #303]

1987: McCain Supports AZ Governor's Effort to Rescind Martin Luther King Day as State Holiday. In 1987, Arizona Governor Evan Mecham rescinded "what he termed an illegal executive order by his predecessor, Democrat Bruce Babbitt, to establish a state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr." Speaking to the Arizona Teenage Republican Convention, when asked about Mecham's decision to rescind the holiday, "McCain said that he felt Mecham was correct in rescinding the holiday." [Washington Post, 1/14/1987; Phoenix Gazette, 4/13/1987]


1989: McCain Urged Lawmakers to Create State Holiday, But Expressed Opposition to Federal Holiday. In 1989, McCain expressed his support for a state law recognizing an Arizona Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. But, McCain said, "I'm still opposed to another federal holiday... but I support the (Arizona) Martin Luther King holiday because of the enormous proportions this issue has taken on as far as the image of our state and our treatment towards not only blacks but all minorities." [Phoenix Gazette, 5/2/1989]


1992: McCain Endorsed Proposition Creating State Holiday. "McCain endorsed Proposition 300, which would establish a paid state holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr." [Phoenix Gazette, 10/28/1992]


1994: McCain Voted To Strip Federal Funding From the MLK Federal Holiday Commission. In 1994, McCain voted to prohibit federal funds for the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. The Commission was established in 1984 "to encourage the observance of King's birthday." According to Al King, head of the California chapter of the commission, the organization "helped keep 'senators' and 'representatives' feet to the fire to recognize the holiday." [1994 Senate Vote #127, 5/24/1994; Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/24/1995, 5/26/1995]

Source: foxbusinessnews.com

Ronald Reagan also opposed honoring Dr. King with a holiday. He recanted only after Congress passed the King Day bill with an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate). Remember--this is the man who opened his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered. Of all the places in this great country, why did he chose that place of dishonor?

In appearing at the fair, Reagan did something that neither conservative Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater or President Richard Nixon did. He was the first presidential candidate in the near century that the fair had been held to speak at the event. Indeed, he deliberately and calculatedly chose the Neshoba Fair to kick off his presidential campaign. When Reagan took the stage, with dozens of Confederate flags festooning the fairground, the crowd chanted, "We want Reagan." A beaming Regan shouted back, "There isn't any place like this anywhere." There was thunderous applause, and rebel yells.





Ronald Reagan was opposed to the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act and characterized them as "...humiliating to the South."

This is the man whom the Conservatives have conferred sainthood on. Some saint. He was a calculating politician who knew how to play the Southern voters' fears and prejudices for votes.

Don't tell the Republicans. They're too busy worshipping a lie.

***********************************************

When Liberalism’s Moment Ended

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, April 4, 2008;
Washington Post






Forty years ago, American liberalism suffered a blow from which it has still not recovered. On April 4, 1968, a relatively brief but extraordinary moment of progressive reform ended, and a long period of conservative ascendancy began.






The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the ensuing riots that engulfed the nation's capital and big cities across the country signaled the collapse of liberal hopes in a smoky haze of self-doubt and despair. Conservatives, on the run for much of the decade, found a broad new audience for their warnings against the disorders and disruptions bred by reform.

A shrewd politician named Richard Nixon sensed the direction of the political winds. When President Johnson's commission on urban unrest released its report in early 1968 and blamed the previous year's rioting on "white racism," Nixon would have none of it. The commission, he said, "blames everybody for the riots except the perpetrators of the riots." He urged "retaliation."

Nixon knew that his call for law and order was drawing working-class whites away from their alliance with the New Deal and the Great Society. "I have found great audience response to this theme in all parts of the country," Nixon wrote to former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It is easy to forget that the core themes of contemporary conservatism were born in response to the events of 1968. The attacks on "big government," the defense of states' rights, and the scorn for "liberal judicial activism," "liberal do-gooders," "liberal elitists," "liberal guilt" and "liberal permissiveness" were rooted in the reaction that gathered force as liberal optimism receded.

From the death of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 until the congressional elections of November 1966, liberals were triumphant, and what they did changed the world. Civil rights and voting rights, Medicare and Medicaid, clean air and clean water legislation, Head Start, the Job Corps and federal aid to schools had their roots in the liberal wave that began to ebb when Lyndon Johnson's Democrats suffered broad losses in the 1966 voting. The decline that 1966 signaled was sealed after April 4, 1968.

Liberals themselves share blame for the waning of their movement. Just because right-wing politicians used "law and order" as a code for race did not mean that concern about crime was illegitimate. On the contrary, the country was in the opening stages of a serious crime wave and had good reason to worry about rising violence.






Liberalism itself was cracking up in 1968. Liberals had turned on each other over Johnson's Vietnam policy. The old civil rights coalition splintered as advocates of racial integration warred with defenders of Black Power, a slogan voiced in 1966 by a young activist named Stokely Carmichael.






Martin Luther King left this earth at a moment of gloom, at least about the short term. "I feel this summer will not only be as bad but worse than last time," he said, four days before his death, in a sermon at Washington's National Cathedral. He was referring to the urban riots of the previous summer. And then came the days of chaos that followed his assassination.






"For those who had dreamed the dreams of the New Frontier, and shared the hopes of a Great Society, this was perhaps the darkest moment of the entire decade," wrote Godfrey Hodgson, a British journalist who stands as one of the wisest chroniclers of the 1960s.









Forty years later, is it possible to recapture the hope and energy of the days and years before that April 4? Has liberalism spent enough time in purgatory for the country to revisit how much was accomplished in its name and to acknowledge that the nation is better off for what the liberals did?






In "The Liberal Hour," an important new history of the '60s that will be published in July, Colby College scholars G. Calvin Mackenzie and Robert S. Weisbrot note that for all its deficiencies, the period of liberal sway "demonstrated what democratic politics can produce when public consensus crescendos, when coherent majorities prevail, and when skilled leaders provide direction, inspiration, and relentless energy."






For decades before the 1960s, conservatism was held in contempt by large swaths of the intellectual and political class. It was one of the great achievements of William F. Buckley Jr., whose death we mourned a few weeks ago, to insist that respect be paid to the great tradition whose cause he championed.






Now is the moment to put an end to our contempt for liberalism. There was business left unfinished on that fateful day in 1968, and it is time to take it up again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

CHRIS MATTHEWS SAYS AFRICAN-AMERICANS NOT REGULAR PEOPLE

I read this over at Atrios' blog:

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about how he -- how's he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?

Watch it here:




What Matthews doesn't understand is that light brown, brown, dark brown and black people who were born in this country ARE REGULAR AMERICANS.

Also, Matthews has a college degree, so that puts him in the category of a "non-regular" person. Matthews thinks that regular people are undereducated or noneducated white folks. A little racism and reverse elitism there?

This is exactly the unspoken but very much in evidence racism that Senator Obama talked about in his speech "A More Perfect Union."

Matthews, and I'm sure others like him, see nothing wrong with what he stated. They don't see the huge insult and condescension to all people who don't fit his idea of what a "regular" American is.

What if a black teevee commentator had said this about George W. Bush when he was running for president:

"OK. Let me ask you about how George W. Bush -- how's he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the white community and from the people who have no college or advanced degree?"

Huge insult to those who would have been George W. Bush supporters. Huge.

And the idea of expecting a man or woman running for president to be anti-education is absurd. Who are these Americans who disparage college degrees? Every parent I know--especially those not well off--want their children to get a college education. Why do people like Matthews think a well informed intellect would be an impediment to attaining the presidency?

How does Matthews keep his job?

Wait. I know. We Americans admire stupidity.