Friday, May 30, 2008

An unsurprising "reaction" to the McClellan book

We have, of course, the standard RW foamer charges of "Traitor!!!":
The right wing is circling the wagons to go on damage control. National Review’s blog, the Corner, insisted today that McClellan was a Hamas apologist. Michelle Malkin derides McClellan as a “turncoat,” and Commentary’s Jennifer Rubin calls the book “catty” and its author a “hack,” and dismisses McClellan as “probably the worst White House press secretary in recent memory.”
And then there's the ol' "That's sooooo yesterday. Can't we just move on?" and "Boooooorrrrrinnggg...." pleas.

But someone had to trot out the ol' "When you diss the preznit, you insult the troops!" one:

Was it an act of bravery or betrayal?

Editor - The revelations from ex-White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan are a sucker punch to all Americans, and they especially violate the virtue and honor of our fighting volunteer soldiers who have borne every sacrifice asked of them. Whether true or untrue, to come out against his previous employer now, after thousands of soldiers are dead and untold damage done to military families, is a classic example of the cowardice of a political criminal. How many more Scott McClellans are employed by the Bush administration?


San Mateo

So when soldiers die for a lie (or worse, for partisan political ends), pointing this out damages the soldiers and their families, more so than the very fact they died for a lie?!? This damages the soldiers' "virtue and honor"?!?!? I think I just don't understand RW FoamerThink™....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The conversation we should be hearing....

McSame has decided to "invite" Barack Obama to visit Iraq to see what's really going on:
Speaking with evident condescension, Arizona Sen. John McCain needled Barack Obama on Wednesday by offering to travel to Iraq with the Illinois senator to help him gain a better understanding of the war and the consequences of withdrawing troops.

The attack by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was in line with his campaign's recent attempts to portray Obama as too young and inexperienced to lead the nation.
Here's how the conversation should have gone:

McSame: "Hey, Barack, you know, you oughtta go visit Ey-rack like me so you will know what's going on over there."

Obama: "Sure. Excellent idea. Can I borrow your armed escort of 100 American soldier with assault rifles at the ready, the three Blackhawk helicopters, two Apache gunships, and your bulletproof vest?"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Let the sliming begin -- Part Neuf

Well, here's an interesting twist on Barack the Secret Moooslim, courtesy of Digby over at Hullabaloo:
I must admit that even with my dark and unrelenting cynicism toward the media that I'm a little bit shocked to see op-ed pieces appear in quick succession in two of the nation's most prestigious newspapers calling Barack Obama a "Muslim Apostate." They don't make the assertion that Obama is a Muslim, which he certainly isn't, only that Osama bin Laden and other Islamic fundamentalists consider him one since his father was "born a Muslim." This apparently means that bin Laden will be able to rally the Muslim world against America because Obama has abandoned the true faith.

I'm sure I don't need to explain how silly this is. The last I heard bin Laden wasn't exactly enamored of any of us Murkins, so I find it hard to believe that this news will make him even more hostile than he already is. It's absurd on its face. So why are the Christian Science Monitor and the NY Times printing similar op-eds on the topic? I don't know.
Digby goes on:
Now, most people, even on the right, reject this stupid story about Obama being a Muslim (although they are picking up little pieces of it in interesting ways.) But this new twist is quite clever. It suggests that while Obama may not practice Islam, in the eyes of bloodthirsty terrorists he is a Muslim who has forsaken the religion and, therefore, is loathed even more than your average infidel.

So, for the email rubes, he is just a straight-up Muslim in league with terrorists. For the elites who read the Times and the Monitor, he's not a Muslim per se, but terrorists think he is and so they're going to unleash Armageddon on us and who needs that? Either way, that Muslim heritage is just a little bit too different for for us to be able to fully trust this man in these troubled times.
Do read Digby's whole article.

The mission is clear: "Take him out any way you can. Whatever it takes." Doesn't matter how absurd, fact-free, or even contradictory (as we saw, sadly, from the Kerry Swift-boating).

And it's just starting. Can you even imagine what it's going to become like, as the election nears and the RW tools get really desperate?

Friday, May 16, 2008

What was the "specific intent"?

The infamous Yoo/Bybee defence of torture contains, amongst other things, the claim that torture (under 18 USC § 2340) is a crime of "specific intent", and thus it is not torture if the "intent" was not to cause the severe pain or suffering prohibited by § 2340(A), but rather, let's say, just to have a friendly chat and extract a few confessions. Here's some commentary on that:

Numerous legal scholars have systematically deconstructed the shoddy reasoning of the Torture Memo. I will not restate their analyses. I will instead focus on the sections of the Torture Memo where Yoo and Bybee's advice appears to be reckless given the end to which it was to be used. Before doing so, however, I will explain the nature of the task in which Yoo and Bybee were engaged.

The Torture Memo begins by analyzing the definition of torture as implemented in 18 U.S.C. § 2340(A). To violate section 2340(A), the statute requires that (1) the torture occurred outside the United States; (2) the defendant acted under the color of law; (3) the victim was within the defendant's custody or control; (4) the defendant specifically intended to cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering; and (5) the act inflicted severe physical or mental pain or suffering. Yoo and Bybee were asked by the White House to focus on the fourth and fifth elements.

Yoo and Bybee first define "specific intent" very narrowly. They write, "In order for a defendant to have acted with specific intent, he must expressly intend to achieve the forbidden act . . . . [Knowledge alone that a particular result is certain to occur does not constitute specific intent]." Their definition presents a gross simplification of a complex issue. As the Levin memo -- which ultimately superseded the work of Yoo and Bybee -- notes, "[i]t is well recognized that the term specific intent is ambiguous and that the courts do not use it consistently." The prevailing view among criminal law practitioners is that a person acts with specific intent when he either desires the result of his conduct or the result is practically certain to follow from his conduct. In the Torture Memo, however, Yoo and Bybee equate specific intent with "purpose," without even acknowledging that their position could be perceived as legally controversial.

To be sure, lawyers can reasonably disagree about the meaning of "specific intent." More important is that in response to a request for guidance on interrogation procedures from the White House, Yoo and Bybee advised that "[e]ven if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite mens rea." In fact, Yoo and Bybee seemed to favor the infliction of pain on detainees when they note that information gained from suspected Al Qaeda personnel could prevent attacks equal or greater in magnitude to September 11th. Their implication is clear: because the Bush administration's goal is the security of the United States and not cruelty for cruelty's sake, good faith actions by interrogators to stop future terrorist attacks cannot be prosecuted as torture. Yoo and Bybee knew that their work would be used to shape interrogation policy, and yet they were indifferent as to how their legal advice would be applied in the real world by the Bush administration. The Pentagon ultimately relied on this advice to sanction extreme interrogation tactics including the use of deprivation of light, hooding, and even exposure to cold weather and water-boarding at Guantanamo Bay.
Then I saw this in today's S.F Chronicle:
A week after being paroled for bank robbery, Horace Bordelon returned to the same downtown Oakland bank and held it up again in 2004. His defense at trial? He robbed the bank only so he could return to the routine of prison life, so he didn't actually intend to steal any money.

The jury didn't buy it, and Bordelon was sentenced to 11 years in prison on a second-degree robbery conviction. A state appeals court rejected his appeal Thursday, saying his unique "institutionalization defense" was weak.

It also called Bordelon's first bank robbery "inartful" and said his second heist was done "ineptly."

"While defendant may have been hoping to get caught, he also might have been content to keep the money - a win/win situation from his point of view," Justice James Marchiano of the First District Court of Appeal wrote.

Marchiano said there was no evidence that Bordelon had planned to give the money back.
Further down:
Bordelon's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Tony Cheng, told jurors that the defendant "wanted to get caught holding the money so that he can go back to jail. He was not interested in keeping the money; he was not interested in getting away. He was interested in getting caught and getting arrested holding the money."

The attorney said Bordelon committed no crime and that his actions were "only a cry for help."
Looks like they can nail you for intent, even if you have different, more -- ummm, "benign" -- purposes as well. If you intended the forbidden result, other purposes don't matter.

But what was the point of the torture, as long as we're asking? DDay at Digby's Hullabaloo has some thoughts in this "MUST READ" article:
[R]ather than coming from a few bad apples at the various detention sites, there was a parallel process of improvisation and brainstorming happening at the highest levels. Before the activities were codified, the interrogators got to play Jack Bauer and draw up a wish list.
(Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo Diane) Beaver told me she arrived in Guantánamo in June 2002. In September that year there was a series of brainstorming meetings, some of which were led by Beaver, to gather possible new interrogation techniques. Ideas came from all over the place, she said. Discussion was wide-ranging [...]

Jack Bauer had many friends at Guantánamo Bay, Beaver said, "he gave people lots of ideas." She believed the series contributed to an environment in which those at Guantánamo were encouraged to see themselves as being on the frontline - and to go further than they otherwise might [...]

The younger men would get particularly agitated, excited even: "You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A wan smile crossed Beaver's face. "And I said to myself, you know what, I don't have a dick to get hard. I can stay detached."
However, an authoritarian Administration was not going to let the sexually aroused grunts drive this policy. In fact, proxies to the highest-ranking officials in the executive branch went on a field trip to carry out their boss' desires.
Dunlavey told me that at the end of September a group of the most senior Washington lawyers visited Guantánamo, including David Addington, the vice president's lawyer, Gonzales and Haynes. "They brought ideas with them which had been given from sources in DC." When the new techniques were more or less finalised, Dunlavey needed them to be approved by Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, his staff judge advocate in Guantánamo. "We had talked and talked, brainstormed, then we drew up a list," he said. The list was passed on to Diane Beaver." [...]

Beaver confirmed what Dunlavey had told me, that a delegation of senior lawyers came down to Guantánamo well before the list of techniques was sent up to Washington. They talked to the intelligence people, they even watched some interrogations. The message from the visitors was that they should do "whatever needed to be done", meaning a green light from the very top - from the lawyers for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the CIA.
The interrogators were allowed some jollies in the idea formation phase, but once the rules were put in place, it was Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush - their top deputies, sitting around and WATCHING live interrogations, and demanding that the most strenuous techniques be employed, going around Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers, whose bitterness suggests he was a key source for the ABC story.
So was this a "win/win situation" for Addington, Yoo, Haynes, Cheney, and Dubya?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The first "Stoopid? Or Evil? You Decide!" contest

All right, folks, let's give our two first contestants a big hand as they come out, vying today for the titles of "Evil" or "Stoopid":

* * * * *

Our first contestant is Sen. Joseph Lieberman ("CT-for-meeeeee" Party-CT):
On right-winger Bill Bennett’s radio show this morning, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) expressed his openess to bombing Iran, saying that there is “an appeal to it.” Discussing the West Virginia primary results, Bennett praised what he claimed was Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) transformation into his “style” of politician, which he said is someone who “throws down a shot of liquor and bombs Iran.”

Lieberman whole-heartedly endorsed the “appeal” of the hawkish caricature Bennett had created:

BENNETT: Listen, I give her credit. She has found her…three things. She’s found her voice. He is very much in the background now, it’s not this, you know, ventriloquial thing, it’s definitely her voice.

LIEBERMAN: That’s true.

BENNETT: And Joe, you know, this is my style. This is a girl who puts on her pearls, goes down, throws down a shot of liquor and bombs Iran, you know. This is…lookout Mrs. Bennett, this is my kind of girl.

LIEBERMAN: Hehehe, it does have an appeal to it.

(h/t to ThinkProgress for this nomination)

* * * * *

And in the other corner, we have the father of the eponymous FU, the "Friedman Unit", Mr. Thomas Friedman himself:

Today's a very exciting day in America. Our nation's most Serious foreign policy expert, the brilliant Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, has today declared our latest new war:

The next American president will inherit many foreign policy challenges, but surely one of the biggest will be the cold war. Yes, the next president is going to be a cold-war president -- but this cold war is with Iran.
So congratulations to us. After years of desperately searching, we've finally found our New Soviet Union. Nay-saying opponents of the New War (those who Tom Friedman, in March of 2003, dismissed as "knee-jerk liberals and pacifists") may try to point out that it's a country whose defense spending is less than 1% of our own, has never invaded another country, and could not possibly threaten us, but those are just small details. Iran is our new implacable foe in Tom Friedman's glorious, transcendent struggle -- which, in 2003, on NPR, he called "the beginning of World War III . . . the third great totalitarian challenge in the last, you know, 60 years," and which he today defines this way (featuring an amazingly disingenuous use of parenthesis):
That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today -- the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their non-state allies, Hamas and Hezbollah. As the May 11 editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan put it, "In the power struggle in the Middle East, there are only two sides: Iran and the U.S."
Friedman laments that "Team America" -- that's really what he calls it -- "is losing on just about every front."
(h/t to Glenn Greenwald for this nomination)

More supporting affidavits from Glenn:

There's a reason that Friedman occupies the place he does in America's foreign policy establishment. He's perfectly representative of it. It's an establishment in perpetual search of an Enemy and the next war. And finding it (or creating it) is the one thing they do well.

Friedman spent months before the invasion of Iraq continuously supporting and cheering it on based on righteous appeals to the transformational values of freedom and democracy. But once the invasion was complete, he unmasked himself, acknowledging in that NPR interview that the real purpose of the invasion was that the U.S. had to send a message to Muslims generally and "sometimes it takes a 2-by-4 across the side of the head to get that message."

That admission was accompanied by Friedman's 2003 "epiphany" on The Charlie Rose Show that the invasion of Iraq was "unquestionably worth doing" because "looking back, I now feel I understand more what the war was about."
* * * * *

So those are the candidates, folks. What will it be: Lieberman "Evil" and Friedman "Stoopid"? Or the other way around?

Wait while we count the votes ... ummm, hmmmm ... hmmMMMmmm ... no, you can't vote both of them both "Evil" and "Stoopid"; I don't have enough trophies to go around....

"I have a dream...."

So McSame gave some speech this morning -- carried, of course, for free on all the cable news channels except the financially oriented CNBC -- and started talking of his vision for five years from now.

I think his speechwriters were trying to emulate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a dream..." speech.

But it didn't exactly come out that way. As one review commented:
Throughout the speech, McCain spoke in the present tense -- listing accomplishment after accomplishment, as if were giving the speech four years from now, at the end of his first term.
He kept imagining the wonders that would ensure if people would just vote for him (from the link above):
By January 2013, McCain envisions Americans welcoming home "most of the servicemen and women" who have served in Iraq.

McCain said the Iraq war will be won; Iraq will be a functioning democracy, and any lingering violence will be "spasmodic and much reduced." He envisions the disbanding of the Iraqi militias, the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq; a professional and competent Iraqi security force -- and a functioning and authoritative Iraqi government.

America will have a small military presence in Iraq, he said, but U.S. troops will not play a direct combat role.

(Editor's note: Much of the applause for McCain's speech seemed perfunctory. At some points, McCain paused, apparently waiting for the clapping to begin.)

By the end of McCain's first term, "there's no longer any place in the world al Qaeda can consider a safe haven," he said. There will be no major terror attacks in the U.S. during his first term, he predicted.

McCain said the U.S. and its allies will have made great progress in achieving nuclear security. "The prospect of nuclear materials in the hands of terrorists has been vastly diminished," he said.
... but not explaining how these wonders would come to pass thanks to his ascension.

More daydreams:
McCain also mentioned a "newly formed League of Democracies" that will act where the United Nations has failed to act -- in Sudan and in other places where gross human rights abuses are happening.

He predicted robust economic growth, a reduction in the corporate tax rate, a low capital gains rate. He said an elimination of tax loopholes and "corporate welfare" will "spur innovation and productivity and encourage companies to keep their operations and jobs" in the U.S.
The DNC wasn't impressed either.

My impression, listening to as much of this broadcast-for-free spew as I could stand, was that we ought to label this -- not McSame's "I have a dream..." speech -- rather the McSame "I'm on drugs..." speech.... Or perhaps the "Hey, you guys, I just had this really awesome 'wet dream' fantasy, wait till I tell ya about it..." speech.


ThinkProgress reports that others saw it exactly the same way:
One reporter told McCain that his speech sounded more like “a magic carpet ride.” Taking issue with that characterization, McCain said, “I don’t think it has anything to do with fantasy.”
Yeah. That's another way to describe it.... I think he was fantasizing about bin Laden being brought to justice somewhere in there as well. Why not two chickens in every pot too? That one worked real well last time....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Living your philosophy

The Rethuglicans are the "Party of Fear". So they ought to be able to handle this:
A Democrat won the race for a GOP-held congressional seat in northern Mississippi yesterday, leaving the once-dominant House Republicans reeling from their third special-election defeat of the spring.

Travis Childers, a conservative Democrat who serves as Prentiss County chancery clerk, defeated Southaven Mayor Greg Davis by 54 percent to 46 percent in the race to represent Mississippi's 1st Congressional District, which both parties considered a potential bellwether for the fall elections.

Democrats said the results prove that they are poised for another round of big gains in the November general elections, and they attacked the Republican strategy of tying Democrats to Sen. Barack Obama, the front-runner for the party's presidential nomination, saying it had failed for a second time in 10 days in the Deep South. Democrat Don Cazayoux won the special election for a GOP-held House seat in Louisiana on May 3.

"No one could have imagined the tsunami that just crashed on Republicans in Mississippi," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview after the victory. "There is no district that is safe for Republican candidates."

House Democrats now hold a 236 to 199 majority, up from 203 seats they controlled two years ago.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, sounded an alarm for all GOP candidates "to take stock of their campaigns and position themselves for challenging campaigns this fall" while lashing themselves to the presidential candidacy of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Go ahead, lash away. ;-)

We're gonna lash McSame to Dubya as well. You can all go swirling down together. Then you'll see what real lashing is....

Let the sliming begin -- Part Huit

Fuhhhh-neeeeee..... Not.

There's so much other stuff too, it's hard to keep up. But nice to see some people put their rhetorical robes on.

(h/t to ThinkProgress for bringing to people's attention this latest beautiful example of human nature)


Darrin Bell's insightful comic strip "Candorville" has the best answer to all that foofrah about the Rev. Wright "controversy" that the M$M has been peddling (doing yeoman work for the GOP race-baiters without even getting paid). It starts on the May 5th strip and goes on from there (click the ">>" icon for subsequent strips)

Update 2

Tony Blankeley puts on the robes too. He's just too stoopid to realise it.... Sadly, No! vivisects him expertly:

Tony Blankley, that “fish-eyed sack of loathsome bile and infamy,”1 is gracing the pages of the Moonie Times with a column arguing that one of the legitimate reasons to vote against Obama is because he’s black:

"In this unprecedented election year we run the risk of having two conversations: a polite, public one that uses euphemisms or evasions about race, and a nasty private one that is likely to dredge up the worst within us — the conversation that won’t be on television, but will be on the internet and on the subway and wherever people congregate to chat. I would argue that the more honest the public conversation is, the less virulent the private one will be."

I’m not buying this. Saying publicly that Obama is a scary Negro who will play hoops in the Rose Garden while the U.S. burns isn’t going to make the private conversations less virulent. Blankley is just looking for an excuse to say in public, with a smile on his face, that he doesn’t want a porch monkey in the Oval Office.

"And therein I respectfully dissent from the comments last week by my friend and former Reagan White House colleague, Peggy Noonan — who argued that it was 'vulgar' and destructive of the body politic to talk about race. … Vulgar? Yes, I will give Peggy that. But democratic politics is inherently vulgar."

And you thought I was exaggerating when I said the Blankley was getting ready to call Barack a porch monkey.

"[W]hat are we to make of the fact that Barack Obama’s African father causes him to be seen as the first African American or black nominee for president? … [F]or a larger number of voters there exists some extra resistance to voting for someone who — on the surface — seems different. This is race (or other demographic) consciousness — but not straight out bigotry."

Saying that extra resistance based on skin color isn’t bigotry but is “race consciousness” is like saying that putting blacks in the back of the bus isn’t racism but is simply a “passenger sorting technique.”

Like I said, these people just don't "get it". This all comes natural to them, like sh*tting, and they never sit and think about what their thoughts and actions mean ... or whether the stuff that comes out stinks.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday fishblogging

Posted by Picasa

Is the primary season over? Is it safe to come out?

For reference, arc-eye hawkfish, Moorea, July 7, 2007, Nikon D70s with twin Ikelite DS-125 strobes, 105mm macro Nikkor lens, 1/25th @ F/11 [click picture for larger image]

"Dumb and ... dumbest"?!?!?

... or is it just feeding red meat to the far RW foamer contingent....

With the "straight-talking" McCain, it's hard to tell whether it's pandering ... or just a "senior moment", ignerrence, sublime eedjitcy, or worse.

ThinkProgress reports that McCain's trying for foreign policy gutterballs:
McCain, seeking to make “his most comprehensive statement” yet on foreign policy, declared that Russia should be kicked out of the G8, of which it has been a member since 1997:

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia. Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

Why McCain thinks that sucking up to RW kooks is going to get him elected is beyond me.

And just for McCain's information, Russia is one of the world's biggest petroleum and natural gas producers ... not that this little nugget of actual fact has anything to do with the issue of whether we ought to go gratuitously dumping Russia from the G-8 because the RW foamers still think that Russia is ... well, Russia ... you know, Rooskies....

More from the ThinkProgress post:
But, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported, McCain is already backing away from that idea because it was “greeted with alarm by some Republican supporters and wariness by important U.S. allies.”
Hey! Over there! Looky! It's an angry black minister....

Go read the rest; it's pretty bone-numbingly stoopid.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A half a decade ago

We had "Mission Accomplished".

The lying, dissembling sack'o'sh*te that calls herself "Dana Perino" tried to pretend that Dubya didn't mean what everyone knows he meant. But her story (that Dubya was just talking about "mission accomplished" for the folks on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln as it returned to port) is easily demolished, as ThinkProgress points out (from the link):
In fact, regardless of Perino’s attempts to amend the banner, it’s clear what Bush meant. Just a month after his speech on the U.S.S. Lincoln, he also spoke to troops in Qatar: “America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished.”
So five years ago, May 1st, we had 140 dead soldiers in Iraq. Today, we have 4065. 96+% of the deaths have happened since that brave "photo-op".

I said during the first days of the Iraq war (on Mar. 30th, 2003) that we'd have more soldiers killed during the occupation than during the initial war. I said probably "many more". I was wrong. Wrong on the wrong side. Almost all of the soldiers have been killed during the occupation, after Dubya's stoopid "Mission Accomplished" blustering and posturing. Sometimes I hate being wrong. Today is one such day....