Friday, September 29, 2006

Beyond Outrage!

George W. Bush has been described as the Worst President Ever, at first just by his opponents on the left, then increasingly by moderates. Lately even some self-described Republicans and many conservatives have grudgingly admitted this to be a fitting epithet. If a bill currently under consideration enters into law we will have to enter Bush and his administration into a whole new league. This bill will put Bush in a class with the worst leaders of any country anywhere, at any time in recorded history.
Move aside Gaius Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, Vlad the Impaler, Josef Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Give George Bush some room on history's stage of infamy. Take your hats off Marquis de Sade, Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot; you are mere pikers compared to this monstrous tinpot despot.
None of the above took a country with a two-centuries-old tradition of freedom, a nation defined by that freedom, "a nation of laws not men" and redefined it in the worst possible terms. For that's what this bill does.
Sold to the nation as yet another 'vitally necessary' anti-terrorist provision, it is better known as the detainee treatment act, but more accurately portrayed as The Torture Bill. Les Enragé's own Jump to the Left, currently 'too mad to blog', called it "The War Crimes Protection Bill", but I think she was just a little off the mark. Probably too mad. I think The War Criminals Protection Bill hits the bullseye.

What is it about this bill that makes it so heinous? Well, everything. Here, from a New York Times editorial, are the key provisions: to start, "a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies." A waiver that includes crimes already committed, an afront to the principle that a law cannot be made to apply to acts prior to its passage (ex post facto, in legalese.) Americans that include Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, and an undetermined number of war criminals to be named later. Let's see what else this preposterous bill provides for:
Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.
You may think me an alarmist, but the combination of allowing secret, coerced evidence is the part that scares me the most. That would mean you could be accused, arrested, held, tried and even convicted on evidence produced by torture. And the Bush administration would not even have to reveal that that is where the evidence came from. That is the scariest part.

No wait, this part is even scarier: "allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret." Think about it. You torture someone, but you want to have your methods remain forever secret. How does one accomplish that? In the dictatorial banana republics of South America such 'witnesses' came to be known as desaparecidos. You shouldn't need to know Spanish to translate that.
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LINKS: Glenn Greenwald: Legalization of Torture

Crossposted at Les Enragé


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Overdue Video Blog

The other night at Les Enragés an onthread discussion touched on Fenders, genders, and Leslies. Now anybody named Leslie knows that it can be a boy's name or a girl's, and that can cause some gender confusion. But we were talking about the Leslie Rotating Tremolo Speaker System that adds such a haunting tone to many a Hammond organ. We were also talking about a unique Fender Stratocaster guitar that was put together from a right-handed body, and a left handed neck. I can't imagine why.
Here's a great rock video from Steve Winwood, singing the hit he made with the Spencer Davis group at the tender age of 17, when he was no more than a mannish boy.

This tune, besides simply kicking serious ass on its own merits, manages to show off the Fender Stratocaster, the Hammond Organ, and the wonderful sound of the Leslie cabinet all in one go. Hattip to Blue Moonchild.
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coalition of the threatened

In an interview to be aired on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf claimed that US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage threatened to bomb his country if he did not join the war on terror. CBC News has the report;
"The U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan 'back to the Stone Age' after the Sept. 11 attacks if the country refused to help America with its war on terrorism, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says.
In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes to air on Sunday, the Pakistani leader said the threat came from then-deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage. Musharraf said it was delivered to his intelligence director. 'The intelligence director told me that [Armitage] said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age,' Musharraf said. 'I think it was a very rude remark.'"
Do ya think? I don't have my etiquette guide to hand, but my instinct says this goes way beyond 'very rude', all the way to PSYCHOTIC RUBBER-ROOM BATSHIT CRAZY. I'll get back to you on that after I've consulted Emily Post.

"Musharraf also said the U.S. made some demands that were 'ludicrous,' including one to suppress vocal support in his country for terrorism in the U.S. 'If somebody's expressing views, we cannot curb the expression of views,' Musharraf said."
Can nothing be done to curb this mad-dog of a pResident? He has admitted to more crimes than Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer put together. He brings shame to the White House and to America every time he opens his stupid, smirking mouth. He's ruining the economy while enriching his small circle of fiends (not a typo). He cares nothing about the average American, as amply demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He calls himself a Christian while going against every article of faith. He has sworn to defend the Constitution, and uses it to wipe his ass. Would someone at least force him to take his medication?
Consider this an open thread. Express your views.
Links: BBC News Report
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arar Redeemed

After being kidnapped by the FBI in Sept., 2002 and held in a Syrian jail where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured, Maher Arar is now vindicated. After 127 days of public testimony, and many days of testimony behind closed doors, a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor concluded, "I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada."Obviously the 'post-9/11' FBI have failed to distinguish the difference between legitimate security operations and common thuggery, but it was not within the commission's mandate to assess the actions of non-Canadian entities. The commission did find considerable fault with Canada's RCMP, as reported in the Toronto Star.
"In the tense and suspicious aftermath of 9/11, the federal government foolishly rushed an in-experienced (sic) and ill-prepared RCMP back into the complex, shades-of-grey world of spying.
It was a mistake with sadly predictable consequences. Within months, the RCMP was stomping all over an innocent Canadian's rights as well as his privacy and, two years later, it was again hiding its actions from political masters...It wrongly identified him as an Islamic extremist, fingered him to the U.S., and then slowed Foreign Affairs efforts to rescue him from a filthy Syrian cell not much bigger than a coffin."
The ensuing actions show Canada approaching the brink of the same kind of tyranny characteristic of the American 'anti-terrorism' efforts under the BushCo™ reign of terror, but thankfully stepping back from that brink.
"Jean Chrétien's government blurred the critical line between intelligence-gathering and crime-prevention, with awful results for Arar as well as for public confidence in the RCMP...the RCMP brought that public humiliation on itself when it figuratively kicked down Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's door. Until that January, 2004, raid, the federal government stood steadfast against rising demands for a public inquiry into the Arar affair.
But what was widely seen as an attempt to intimidate the press was too much for a new Paul Martin administration, trying to distance itself from its predecessor. Martin publicly declared O'Neill innocent and promised to get to the bottom of the Arar case."
The result is in the report handed down by Justice O'Connor. The bottom of the Arar case has proven to be very low indeed. If we go beyond the Arar case to US activities of kidnapping, rendition and torture in general the bottom is lower still. At least in Canada we have a government that shines a light into their darkest places.
In America we see a government that continues to deny their own criminal activity. Then when it becomes undeniable, they deny that there is anything illegal about it. Then, when THAT becomes undeniable, they try to retroactively make legal the most egregiously despicable actions. Sickening. As Glenn Greenwald asks, "How can you be an American citizen and not be completely outraged, embarrassed, and disgusted by this conduct?"
Cross-posted to Les Enragés

Unclaimed Territory - "Moral Authority" under Bush.
BBC News - article.
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chris Rea - Workin' On It

Les Enragés Mobster HillCountryGal posted a fantastic music video on her blog last night, The Road to Hell, by British blues-rock star Chris Rea. It blew me away, but I find it a bit unsettling that someone this great gets no airplay in North America. Could it be the airwaves in America have become a little too corporatist? Anyway, I was thinking of posting it here too, but how would that give anyone the incentive to visit HCG's blog? Instead, I'm posting this other Chris Rea video, 'Workin' On It.' Enjoy!

The Lyrics:
Oh how I'd love it girl, just you and me
Take the day and fly
But oh this job, it's got the best of me
Tell you why, tell you why

Somebody above is in a desperate state
Some kind of urgency, the kind that won't wait
I say tomorrow, he say today
And the man in my head well he tell me no way
Keep working
I got eight little fingers and only two thumbs
Will you leave me in peace while I get the work done
Can't you see I'm working
Oh, oh I'm working on it
Oh, oh I'm working on it

Well they're coming from above me
And they're coming from below
Yea they're in there right behind me
Everywhere that I go
And my buddy, he's screaming down the telephone line
He say gimme, gimme, gimme
I say I ain't got the time
Oh, oh can't you see I'm working on it
Oh, oh I'm working on it
Yea, yea, oh tell 'em

How I'd love it girl, just you and me
Take the day and fly
But oh, this job it's got the best of me
Tell you why

Well they're coming from above me
And they're coming from below
Yea they're in there right behind me
Everywhere that I go
My buddy, he's screaming down the telephone line
He say gimme, gimme, gimme
I say I ain't got the time
Oh, oh can't you see I'm working on it
Oh, oh I'm working on it
Oh, oh I'm working
Oh, oh can't you see I'm working on it
I wish I'd had this video when I was posting for Labour Day!
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One Jackbooted Step

Closer to a Full-Blown Police State.
As the November mid-term elections approach, many Republican Congressional and Senate candidates will be trying hard to distance themselves from the unpopular occupant of the White House. Anyone who buys this poppycock should be carefully examined for a scar on the base of their skull where the control chip was implanted. That dog, as they say, don't hunt. But it will bite.
The ever-reliable Glenn Greenwald blogged on THIS STORY in the Washington Post today;
"A Senate committee today approved a bill supported by President Bush that would enable the administration to continue a warrantless wiretapping program that the White House launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The approval came after Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked an amendment by Democrats that would have limited Bush's eavesdropping program and required the National Security Agency to report more often to Congress on its surveillance activities.
...Bush has urged Congress to give him "additional authority" to continue his administration's warrantless eavesdropping program."
The repetitive theme in this article is notable; "enable the administration...expand Bush's authority...additional authority...continue warrantless eavesdropping...said he needs more power...authorizing the President...sweeping authorities...authorize his warrantless eavesdropping." Pardon me for jumping to the conclusion that Bush is making a power grab. In fact, what he is hoping is that Congress can somehow retroactively legitimize the illegal, unconstitutional, and criminal acts that he has already willfully engaged in for years. After key legal decisions against him, most critically the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision and the more recent decisions in Michigan and Oregon against the NSA wiretapping, our boy George is seeing his moronarchy crumbling around him.
Make no mistake, Congress cannot retroactively authorize the President to break the law. It is against the Constitution. The Supreme Court does not have the authority to allow such a law, should Congress pass it, to stand. That would be nothing short of treason. But let me get back to my opening point. As much as Republican candidates will try to distance themselves from chimpy between now and November, the vote in committee on whether to approve this odious bill was split along party lines. NOT ONE Republican voted to restrict Bush's illegal, unconstitutional and criminal behaviour in any way, shape or form. If you want checks and balances, vote them out of office.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Olbermann's 9/11 Address

It IS Beyond Shameful

This one is full of juicy quotes, Olbermann once again showing himself to be the one bright shining light in the black hole that is the MSM.
"Five years later, there is no memorial to the dead...Five years later, this country's mass grave is still unmarked. Five years later,this is still just a background for a photo op. It is beyond shameful.
...They promised protection, and then showed that to them protection meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken… a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did. The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war on the false premise that it had something to do with 9/11 is, 'lying by implication.'...The impolite phrase is, 'impeachable offense'."
A brilliant speech requires a brilliant closing, and Olbermann delivers.
"When those who dissent are told time and time again — as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus — that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American…
When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"… look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
You have.
May this country forgive you."
On this last point I disagree with Mr. Olbermann. I hope the country neither forgives, nor forgets the crimes of Bush and his evil minions.
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Path to 9/11: YouTube Videos

If you've been watching this blog you're aware of the unconscionable propaganda miniseries ABC has scheduled for this Sunday and Monday. Here are some reactions on YouTube. First up, from Countdown, Richard Ben-Veniste, who was on the 9/11 commission on which the series is supposedly based.
Next, from the C-span footage of the actual 9/11 commission testimony, Republican Fred Fielding questions George Tenet about the so-called opportunity to take out Osama bin Laden. Hat-tip to YouTube member ChurchCommittee.
Key Scene in ABC's 9/11 Docudrama is a LIE - Part 1
In this next clip, Republican Senator Slade Gorton tries the same stunt with witness Richard Clarke.
Key Scene in ABC's 9/11 Docudrama is a LIE - Part 2
Notice that in both these clips key Republican commission members try to act as witnesses, putting ideas into the public record that they know are not true, and trying to manipulate the testimony of the real witnesses. Further, they are trying to promote the same untruths that are presented in the ABC 9/11 'mockumentary.'
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Hardhat Atheism

Hat-tip to Boo at Boo's Tatoos (and Other Stories) for steering me to this Brit site, New, with their funny survey to find out what kind of atheist one is. Here are the results I came up with:


You are an atheist, a rationalist, a believer in the triumph of science and of reason over libido. You can’t stand mumbo jumbo, ritual, spiritual nonsense of any kind, and you refuse to allow for these longings in others.

Astrologers, Scientologists and new–age crystal ball creeps are no different in your view from priests, rabbis and imams. They’re all just weak–minded pilgrims on the road to easy answers. Nature as revealed by science is awesome enough for you, but it’s a nature that needs curbing and taming by us on our evolutionary journey to perfection.

Your heros are Einstein, Darwin, Marx and — these days — Gould, Blakemore, Watson, Crick and Rosalind Franklin. Could you be hiding a little behind those absolutist views, worried that, if you let in a few doubts and contradictory ideas, the whole edifice might crumble? Loosen up a bit and try to enjoy the amazing variety of human belief systems. Don’t worry — it’s unlikely you’ll end up chanting your days away in some distant mountain cult.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.


Bush Confesses Again

Publicly Admits to War Crimes
From BBC News:
President Bush has acknowledged the existence of secret CIA prisons and said 14 key terrorist suspects have now been sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The suspects, who include the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have now been moved out of CIA custody and will face trial.
Mr Bush said the CIA had used an "alternative set of procedures", agreed with the justice department, once suspects had stopped talking.
But he said: "The US does not torture. I have not authorised it and I will not."
Apparently his well-publicised signing statement virtually nullifying the McCain anti-torture bill went down the grossly overused memory hole into which the administration throws all official records, along with Alberto Gonzales' notorious declaration that the Geneva Conventions were 'quaint.' Let's examine the implications.

First is the obvious fact that this is a too-little too-late response to the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision, which declared last June that all detainees were 1) subject to the 'common article three' terms of the Geneva Conventions, and 2) NOT subject to the ill-conceived and patently unconstitutional military tribunals proposed by the administration to try the detainees. Most legal experts concur that this decision exposes Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and several CIA officials to criminal charges. Sorry, there is no constitutional way to retroactively make these crimes legal.

Second is the trap the Bushites have sprung on themselves vis a vis Judge Anna Diggs Taylor's ruling in the NSA wiretapping case. In that case, the administration was deprived of the use of the State Secrets shield because they had already admitted the existence of the program. How bad a lawyer is Gonzales that this fact escaped him? Up until this, I didn't think anyone was dumber than Bush. I stand corrected.

The third point was brought up by Sam Seder of AirAmericaRadio's The Majority Report. Some of these detainees are really bad people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The Bush administration may have set up a situation where any body making a decision as to the disposition of his case will be forced into a choice between two equally repugnant options. They can either accept the illegal nature of Mohammed's detention, and the use of torture in obtaining evidence against him, or they can let the mastermind behind 9/11 go free. If this issue were to come up in, say, an impeachment trial, it's hard to see even the most partisan Democrat ignoring this. What politician would want to risk taking the heat of being perceived as directly responsible for letting a 9/11 conspirator off the hook, no matter how principled and constitutional that decision was?
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Cross-posted to Les Enragés


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Path to Truthiness

Stealth Swiftboat Wearing Corporate Business Suit...
Today, Think Progress posted information on the “docudrama”, “The Path to 9/11” that will air on ABC on September 10 and 11. Written by conservative Cyrus Nowrasteh, the film is being promoted on ultra-rightwing sites across the web. (Part of a 9/11 TV blitz.) Director, David Cunningham, is hedging on the film's accuracy, asserting “this is not a documentary”, though it's being promoted as “based on The 9/11 Commission Report.” Very Truthy, indeed.

William Rivers Pitt's excellent perspective piece posted at Truthout, Clinton, 9/11 and the Facts, a MUST READ, sharply contrasts this “drama” with the reality of Clinton's aggressive anti-terrorism programs, revealing the truth of the GOP's castration of Clinton's efforts to protect the nation. A tiny morsel:
In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm's wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors. (Read the rest...)
Media Matters (posted 9/1/06, 7:24pm) has more. Furthermore, they plan to brainwash the children...

To Do List: Read the full article, and those that follow to get armed with the facts. Write to ABC-Disney. Call ABC-Disney. Tell them that Fox's nose-dive is contagious, and that you will boycott them and their advertisers forever if they deliberately mislead the American public by airing this “drama.” Keep your eye on Source Watch. And, keep your feet on “The Path to Democracy!”
Related Links:
Digby's Hullabaloo: Disney and the Dobsonites
Think Progress: ABC Plans Massive Free Distribution
Truthdig: Top Former Counterterror Official Blasts ABC 9/11 Docudrama
Open Letter to ABC -links to lots of action you can take! A super effort.



Ministry of Make Believe

When History Offends...Rewrite it!

In his novel, 1984, George Orwell portrays a time when, “History and memory are actively erased and rewritten so as to support the omnipotence and infallibility of The Party and its pronouncements” (plot summary, here). Orwell wrote:
“And if the facts say otherwise then the facts must be altered. Thus history is continuously rewritten. This day-to-day falsification of the past, carried out by the Ministry of Truth, is as necessary to the stability of the regime as the work of repression and espionage carried out by the Ministry of Love.”
We have been Ministried by Bush before:
  • The 2000 presidential campaign introduced us to Bush's family theatre ranch in Crawford. Despite the “family history” feel, it was an August, 1999 purchase. The newly built Bush theatre “ranch house” served as a stage and was scheduled for completion election night, November 1999--a place where Bush, the “windshield rancher”, likes to spend time. (Shhhhh, don't tell.)

  • Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued by U.S. forces on April 1, 2003 in a dramatic, heroic rescue. Lynch's recovery was later (5/15/03), revealed to have been staged.

  • On April 9th, 2003, we were presented with images of angry Iraqi citizens, pulling down a statue of Saddam. It was later reported (7/3/04) that the fall was “stage-managed” by the Army.

  • On May 1st, 2003, we were fed images of Bush's dramatic jet landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln aircraft carrier, with his costume flight suit and declaration, “My fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” The media fawned. We later learned that Bush's helicopter was in range, and the jet landing was an unnecessary, highly choreographed theatrical addition.
  • And we are being Ministried again:


    This propaganda is rewriting the history of the past to create a desired history of the future (maintaining control of congress to avoid checks, balances, accountability). I call this Disney's “Ministry of Make Believe.” Pure fantasy.


    Another Knockout From KO

    America's Last Living Journalist?

    Posting Keith Olbermann opinion pieces is becoming an obligatory function for progressive blogs these days, and I wish it wasn't so. I wish that we had something approaching journalism coming from other quarters, but it looks like Olbermann is America's last living journalist. WMV and QT versions available at Crooks and Liars, with transcripts.
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    Crossposted at Les Enragés


    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Olbermann Takes A Shot At Rummy

    From C&L via YouTube
    I was going to upload this to YouTube, and found I didn't need to - dozens of users had got there before me to do so. This piece is too good to ignore.