Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did Holder just leave himself some Wiggle Room?

I got this from reading Andrew Sullivan (who was reading Marc Ambinder), so this is hardly a thought I can take credit for, but listen to what Ambinder has to say about Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement on the late and lamented Torture Prosecutions:

Here's what Attorney General Holder said today in his statement: "Holder also stressed that intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and relied in good faith on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department that their conduct was lawful, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not face federal prosecutions for that conduct."

The emphasis is Ambinder's.

Now, I work around Lawyers. I work around them every day. My Dad’s new wife is, in fact, a Lawyer herself.

I’m just saying, I know how these guys sound, and I know when they leave themselves wiggle room.

Folks, that ain’t wiggle room, that’s more like a tunnel in which large eighteen wheels can pass.

Sullivan puts it better than I can:

If evidence emerges of bad faith in torture sessions, then those staffers may well face legal consequences. Ditto if the legal advice was given in bad faith, along Nuremberg lines, Yoo and Bybee should start sweating. That's why the internal OPR report on the legal professionalism of the torture lawyers is so crucial and why it is being fought over so fiercely. If Yoo and Bybee's memos were so below legal standards that they can be objectively shown to be a means to get away with torture rather than good faith effort to apply the law to proposed torture techniques, then they too acted in bad faith. And they too are war criminals.

Now, all that said “wiggle room” isn’t a substitute for action (which I think we, the ACLU, Senator Russ Feingold, and civil libertarians would prefer). But it is something, especially when you couple this with action from the Congress. Either Chamber will do.

I think, in the wake of our most recent NSA Spying Story, the Congress might find itself a little more willing to act.

Granted, it has an air of “It’s one thing to have the mob get wiretapped, but now that it’s one of us…” but again, it'll do.

Oh, and in case your fingers were crossed, uncross 'em. Spain isn't going to help:

Despite recent reports to the contrary, Spain’s attorney general has now reportedly decided not to prosecute the Bush Six — the top legal officials in the Bush administration who allegedly approved the torture of terror suspects. Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpio said that the United States would be the proper forum for such a case.

We can only hope.

Originally posted at Fort McHenry.

News from the Teabag Front in Sacramento, CA

Kim, a 43-year-old homemaker, bellowed: "You hurt my family!" She argued that, thank to taxes and the stimulus package, "We've had to cut our long distance and caller ID." Her 22-year-old daughter, Ashley, with her baby sister strapped to her chest, cut in: "We even got rid of Netflix!" - War Room, Salon

Now we see why this astroturf movement isn't really connecting with, say, the average Somali.

Speaking of which, here's everything you need to know about how the situation in Somalia came to be, but couldn't find anywhere near the MSM. (Courtesy of Foreign Policy magazine, quickly becoming a favorite periodical.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This is who they are...

The following is intentional. I have collected a small smattering of images from today's Teabaggin' Parties from the Washington Independents' Aaron Weiner and David Weigel, as well as some stuff from Daily Kos.

These images, of course, show the worst of the worst. Protestors advocating violence, or racism, or toeing that fine line.

These images do not show all protesters. There were those who merely wanted to protest taxation and the deficit. I merely find these people deluded, not dangerous. And it is danger of which we speak here.

Yeah, let's link our deadly enemy, the one we might have to go to war with, with the duly elected President of the United States.

And yes, the sign says "While Some Kenyan tries to Destroy America". Forget the "In Living Color" quote.

Anything to make the President look alien and foreign.

And of course, my "favorite" for the day...

Apparently, it was from Chicago.

Are you sure you want to go there?

Originally posted at Fort McHenry.

"Mental Gymnastics..."

Even when I disagree with him, Taibbi is always fun.

And, right now, I certainly don't disagree with him.

It requires serious mental gymnastics to describe the Obama administration — particularly the Obama administration of recent weeks, which has given away billions to Wall Street and bent over backwards to avoid nationalization and pursue a policy that preserves the private for-profit status of the bailed-out banks — as a militaristic dictatorship of anti-wealth, anti-private property forces. You have to somehow explain the Geithner/Paulson decisions to hand over trillions of taxpayer dollars to the rich bankers as the formal policy expression of progressive rage against the rich. Not easy. In order to pull off this argument, in fact, you have to grease the wheels with a lot of apocalyptic language and imagery, invoking as Beck did massive pictures of Stalin and Orwell and Mussolini (side by side with shots of Geithner, Obama and Bernanke), scenes of workers storming the Winter Palace interspersed with anti-AIG protests, etc. — and then maybe you have to add a crazy new twist, like switching from complaints of “socialism” to warnings of “fascism.” Rhetorically, this is the equivalent of trying to paint a picture by hurling huge handfuls of paint at the canvas. It’s desperate, last-ditch-ish behavior.


But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated.

Originally posted (such as it is) at Fort McHenry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Are The Tea Parties Racist??

I was flipping around Daily Kos today, and they posted a question that’s been on my mind for the last couple of days.

These…Tea Parties (I’m going to avoid calling these people Teabaggers)…

are they for white people only?

‘Cause I’m looking at the photos, and…I ain’t seein' no people of color


Jim Crow Protest Rallies?


Are you kidding me?

Fortunately, I am not the first to have this thought. It turns out that a site called Jack & Jill Politics has been on this way before I was.

I'm not 100% percent convinced in the arguments they present in their piece. Still, I think they're onto something.

Are these the same people who were yelling "Terrorist" and maybe even "Kill Him" at some McCain-Palin Rallies not than long ago? To paraphrase the Governor of Alaska, you betcha.

Did we expect these people to simply engage in the debate and suddenly accept the fact that Barack Obama legitimately won the election? If Norm Coleman is any measure...

Does anyone…anywhere see any people of color in any of these photos in a participatory capacity, and not acting as Security Guards, Cameramen...or worse, picking up after these people?

Couple this with a report from DHS says Right Wing Extremism is on the rise thanks to the Economy (and blaming the Black President for it), there is always reason to be concerned.

Whatever reservations I have about their particular arguments, they did offer a handy guide to sniffing out an undercover racist attack on the President. It goes as follows (with corrections for grammar):

1) Is [said attack] unique to Obama. Is it a phrase we’ve never heard before applied to any other president or is it something we haven’t heard in recent memory?

For example: he’s not an American citizen or he’s a socialist who’s planning re-education camps for young people.

2) Is [said attack] illogical or impossible. Does the assertion plainly contradict the facts?

For example: not an American citizen, socialist, tax raiser, re-education camps for young people.

3) Is [said attack] repeated, over and over, by a desperate person whose team lost badly in the last election and who adopts a wide-eyed, credulous, nodding stare pronouncing the lie slowly, precisely, with a watchful eye to see if the listeners are buying it.

For example: not an American citizen, socialist, elitist, drug seller, tax raiser or terrorist. (aka, the entirety of the Glenn Beck Show)

Optional: Does the assertion cause nervousness, embarrassment or confusion among non-blacks (who are listening to said attack)? When other white people such as Tom Brokaw or John Stewart sense something wrong and start to ask questions like "Do you really believe that?," you know for sure you’re in the racist attack zone.

UPDATE 4:49PM Pacific: Michelle Malkin does not count. She started these damn things, and besides, I'd put her personal racially sensitivity quotient at about zero.

Originally posted on Fort McHenry.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Something Deni Will Love

I know I like it: Obama to announce plans focusing on regional high speed rail.

This on the heels of the trip to Europe and the Middle East, and making moves towards establishing long-overdue relations with Cuba, O is batting .666. Not bad really, and I do like where he is going on a large number of issues; but until he does right by his constituents on the whole DOJ/Wiretapping business, where he's actually behaving worse than W/Cheney, he's not gonna get anywhere near 1.000...