Monday, November 30, 2009

Truth we can believe in ...

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana says we should stop reforming health care so we can concentrate on killing Afghans. This is how monstrous the right wing mindset has become: killing is a higher priority than healing. We can borrow to wage war but we cannot borrow to provide access to medical care to our own citizens.

When Ronald Reagan was elected our national debt was about $900 billion. After almost thirty years of mostly Republican rule it stands at around $12 trillion. The sudden conversion by the GOP for fiscal restraint is admirable but their priorities are all screwed up. You use debt for economic recovery not for wars of choice. We should tax the people supporting the war and we should draft their kids to fight it. That'll end this charade quickly.

Verdict ... on the Senate.

Maybe it is time to stop treating the Senate like some great legislitive [sic] body, and start treating it like the terribly broken monstrosity it has become. Its love affair with its own unconstitutional, arcane rules and extremely abused “privileges” has made it a practically unworkable institution that threatens the long-term success of our nation. The Senate just spent almost half a year working on health care reform, and didn’t accomplish anything that couldn’t have been done in three weeks if they were a functioning legislative body.
Thanks so much, Obama, Reid and the rest of you ...

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh ...

Bayh wants to send other people into every proposed war he can find and keep them there forever without ever bearing any of the costs himself -- not in military service for him or his family nor even in higher taxes to pay for his glorious wars. Sacrifice is for everyone other than Evan Bayh and his friends. He runs around praising himself as a "deficit hawk" while recklessly supporting wars and indefinite occupations that the country can't afford and which drive us further into debt. He feigns concern over the "deficit" only when it comes time to deny ordinary Americans benefits which he and his family already possess in abundance. ...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Still torturing ...

In my mind this makes Obama a complete failure as a human being:

The Status of Torture in Obama's America

... The President began with a big series of presidential orders that supposedly ended the Bush administration's policy of torturing prisoners, and shut down the CIA's black site prisons.

But as we know now, not all the black site prisons were shut down. Nor was the torture ended. Whether its beatings and forced-feedings at Guantanamo, or the kinds of torture described at Bagram, it's obvious that torture has not been rooted out of U.S. military-intelligence operations. In fact, by way of the Obama administration's recent approval of the Bush-era Army Field Manual on interrogations, with its infamous Appendix M, which allows for much of the kind of torture practiced at Bagram, the White House has institutionalized a level of torture that was introduced by the previous administration, but which has been studied and devised over the last fifty or sixty years.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harry Reid, subversive or really, really stupid? ...

Reid Says “No Reconciliation,” ConservaDems Immediately Get Leverage

Ha, ha. Harry Reid care? Now that's knee-slapping funny ...

If Harry Reid truly cares about fighting for the good of the country over the good of Wellpoint, he will immediately dispense with the opt-out and move to reconciliation and allow a majority in the Senate to deliver to Americans what they want and desperately need.

Obama may sound more reasonable than Bush the Lesser, but ...

... Obama's unconstitutional imprisonment and kidnapping policies for anyone his administration doesn't like is the same. Maybe, perhaps they aren't torturing them. But secrecy and injustice lead to lies, so who knows. And any nation that regularly tortures its own citizens with Tasers is hardly to be believed on this issue.

As Glenn Greenwald writes:
Does that remotely sound like a "justice system"? If you're accused of being a Terrorist, there's not one set procedure used to determine your guilt; instead, the Government has a roving bazaar of various processes which it, in its sole discretion, picks for you based on ensuring that it will win. Even worse, Holder repeatedly assured Senators that the administration would continue to imprison 9/11 defendants even in the very unlikely case that they were acquitted, citing what they previously suggested was their Orwellian authority of so-called "post-acquittal detention powers." Is there any better definition of a "show trial" than one in which the defendant has no chance of ever being released even if acquitted, because the Government will simply thereafter assert the power to hold him indefinitely without charges?
and
The administration should have the courage of its convictions and defend jury trials as a linchpin of American justice, which would entail giving them to all Terrorism suspects not captured on any battlefield. But by refusing to do so -- by exhibiting the very cowardice of which Holder accused Republicans, i.e. denying Terrorism suspects a trial -- the administration has no cogent argument to make in its own defense. It's just another case of the administration wanting to bask in the rhetorical glory of "the rule of law" while simultaneously trampling on it for petty political convenience.
That is IF this administration has convictions. This Democratic Administration has become Republican Lite. Now that's really scary ...

The Republicans at least have a goal, a creed. Perpetual war, perpetual dominance of the world, ensuring the 'haves' have all and the 'have-nots' are effectually slaves. It's very direct, very simple minded. What you say today only applies to today. Justice is a word like any other.

Republican Lite, one the other hand, is an attempt to appease. A cowardly approach with no principals behind it that can be defended.

Is Obama trying to be Solomon? Now that the Thugs have demanded that he split the baby, and he's actually tried, what is he going to do next? I think the lesson of Solomon and the baby is one that the Thugs understand and Obama does not. Solomon wished to identify the real mother. Obama's actions are more like negotiating with the fake mother and pushing the real mother out of the way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't lose sight of the fact that if the Senate does not pass real health care ...

... it will be because they didn't want to!

This post explains why that is the case.

Reconciliation is only one possible solution. At any time, 50 senators plus the vice president could use the “nuclear option” to effectively eliminate the filibuster. The filibuster is a terrible perversion of the idea of allowing unrestricted debate in the Senate. The founders had no intention, that 200 years later, it would be warped into some gimmick used to permanently undermine the foundational constitutional power of the majority.

There is no need to compromise, there is no need to find 60 votes, and there is no need to win the support of Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, etc.; it is well within the power of Harry Reid and fifty other Democrats in caucus to pass at much better health care bill without some potentially terrible compromises. If the Senate Democrats don’t pass a decent health care bill–with a public option–it is because they did not want to, not because they were unable to. They decided that maintaining their special Senate privileges were more important.

Following in Bush the Lesser's footsteps ... till pretending we can fight unjust and unfunded wars without consequence to ourselves ...

The stories of Spec. Hutchinson and Major Hasan are joined by the thread of multiple deployments of sometimes unfit personnel with insufficient recovery time between deployments. Personnel are deployed without regard to the family situation. They are re-deployed when they are not mentally fit. This increases the mental toll at a time when there is not sufficient mental health support.

Lest we think that the crisis is confined only to the military, I would argue that the toll of unsustainable wars is now beginning to show on American culture as a whole. ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shouting into the void that is US political thinking ...

... At some point, a rational person has to wonder whether people like Jacob Weisberg -- who endlessly advocate policies that fuel Islamic extremism and intensify tension between the West and the Muslim world -- aren't desirous of exactly that outcome. After decades of pursuing this blatantly counter-productive approach, what else could explain such moral and intellectual blindness?
How could these people (like Weisberg) possible fail to imagine how they would respond to the injustices we have heaped on Iraq and Afghanistan? They couldn't! Which leaves us with Greenwald's conclusion that this is all deliberate policy to seek perpetually increasing death and destruction.

These are the same kind of people who also have such extreme and devastating effect on internal US law enforcement policies: wars on drugs, the three-strikes mentality, inhumane treatment, arbitrary penalties, prosecutions and incarcerations based on race and economic class.

All the money they want for war. A fight for any penny spent for jobs or health or education or the general well being of the citizens. After all why would the Weisbergs of this world spend money on the fodder for their wars.

The US government as war-machine, like Hitler's Germany, instead of government as the people's representatives. This has nothing to do with Obama or even Bush the Lesser. Eisenhower even warned us that the machine was already in place and building up steam. Bush apparently relished how powerful this war machine made him feel. Cheney spent his time servicing the machine. Obama, it appears, will do nothing against the machine.

I agree with what Steve wrote ...

except for the title which might be better as 'What Obama and his team wrought'

I've reached the point where I have no confidence in this team domestically. They have no use for principles or base convictions, and their policies aren't rooted in anything except deal-making. The health care reform bill does little if anything to deal effectively with costs, but it does manage to hand millions of middle class American taxpayers into the arms of the same bad actors who got us into this mess. Yet the House and Senate progressives are told that they have to support this historic opportunity, when in truth what they're being told is that they have to support this president even when he is a fool supporting bad policy.

I'll pass. This was an opportunity lost, but lost by the White House and its naivete about basic politics, and why policy matters. The next time the GOP rants about government involvement in health care, Democrats should point back to Big Pharma and these outrageous cost increases, and the constant GOP opposition to re-importation from Canada and allowing the government to negotiate for best prices, or any other active involvement on behalf of protecting the taxpayers. But for this White House to seize the high ground again, they would have to demonize and call out those who have bled this country dry, and that would be an old kind of politics that this team doesn't have the guts for.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

They're coming after your Social Security ... again.

An illustrious gaggle of Dem and Thug Senators plan to hold up health care, that is what little they are actually doing for health care, until Pelosi agrees to "turn the power to trim entitlement benefits over to an independent commission." Once the Dems and Thugs get such a thing in place they can claim they have nothing to do with the shrinking of SS or Medicare support (that we pay for with our tax and payroll dollars) while they will continue to fund, without question, endless war and crooked bankers.
Seriously, this is Shock Doctrine lunacy of the most obvious kind. Conrad and Bayh are out there saying it right up front. The government has poured trillions into the economy to save the banks and run useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the old people and the poor are going to have to pay the price. That's the way it works.
Don't expect Obama to care. He's one of them ...

Why does Obama hate us? ...

Because he loves the corporate Robber Barons?
As soon as the House passed its health care reform bill Saturday night, two things became predictable: (1) The President would praise Nancy Pelosi and the House for moving the effort further than ever before and (2) an "anonymous" senior White House official would plant stories about how the House bill wasn’t as good as the Senate Finance bill.

Christian, Muslim, Jew ...

Nothing changes.
If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong
We live in a twisted world, where right is wrong and wrong reigns supreme. It is a chilling fact that most of the world's leaders believe in nonsensical fairytales about the nature of reality. They believe in Gods that do not exist, and religions that could not possibly be true. We are driven to war after war, violence on top of violence to appease madmen who believe in gory mythologies. These men are called Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Osama bin Laden is insane. He believes God whispered in the ear of Mohammed 1,400 years ago about how he should conquer Arabia. Mohammed was a pure charlatan -- and a good one at that. He makes present religious frauds like Pat Robertson look like amateurs.

...

Glenn Greenwald writes again about hypocrisy (or deliberate blindness?) in "What do these religiously-motivated terrorist acts tell us? --Why are we so selective about lessons we draw from religious extremism?"

UPDATE: Also from Haaretz this week:

Just weeks after the arrest of alleged Jewish terrorist, Yaakov Teitel, a West Bank rabbi on Monday released a book giving Jews permission to kill Gentiles who threaten Israel.

...

Happy days. Back to the Crusades. It'll be all so romantic centuries later and oh the movies our descendants will make. Should this world still be inhabited by us ├╝ber beings, that is ...

Armistice Day ...

Quote from a Comment by aimei to this Post:
I, too, detest the transformation of Armistice Day into Veteran's Day. Where one memorialized the end of war, the other memorializes the soldier as victim and sacrifice without condemning the war itself. Its like the transformation of Mother's Day from a statement of grief and power against war into a chocolate box holiday of gift cards and flowers.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's quote ...

Health care reform is extremely likely to pass in some form. But let's not kid ourselves that it's passing because the Democrats and the public have seen the light and understand that we need to be a more decent society. It's passing because medical industry has been greedy to the point where it's now unsustainable. That presented an opening for liberals to enact some policies they have believed in for a long time. But they didn't do it by making the liberal arguments straight up and have created some kind of strange hybrid system for which the best argument is that it might lead to opportunities for more reform. It's better than nothing. But it isn't liberal and it wasn't designed to be. And just in case, the powers-that-be stuck it to the pro-choicers to make sure nobody got the idea that it was.

-- The Lesson by digby, Hullabaloo

Mac Monks? ...

Is Charlie Brooker on the up and up?
Better the broken Windows than life with the Mac monks
Or tongue in cheek?
... I vaguely prefer the clumping, clueless, uncool, crappiness of Microsoft's bland Stepford gang to the creepy assurance of the average Mac evangelist. At least the grinning dildos in the Windows video are fictional, whereas eerie replicant Mac monks really are everywhere, standing over your shoulder in their charcoal pullovers, smirking at your hopelessly inferior OS, knowing they're better than you because they use Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard. I don't care if you're right. I just want you to die.
Is Charlie's life excruciatingly difficult or absolutely hilarious?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Who's the cart and who's the horse? ...

Froomkin writes in Want Obama To Be Bolder? Take To The Streets!

Almost forgotten these days is the fact that in Obama's first address to Congress. In February, the new president served up a pretty darn bold agenda, backed up by a respectably progressive budget proposal. So what was the reaction? Obama looked over his shoulder and saw -- no one.

The talking heads on TV and in the newspapers tut-tutted about what a big gamble he was taking. And without any palpable expression of public support to worry about, the moneyed interests and their congressional lackeys in both parties went about nibbling everything to death.

If Obama didn't understand the current media climate then he is not all that astute, is he? The media supported him for President because he wasn't Bush and he wasn't McCain.

For Heaven's Sake, when people demonstrate in support of progressive programs they are ignored by the media. The other side is organized by the media. Doesn't Obama (or even Froomkin, on this subject) have any understanding of what's going on in this country.

When Obama starts by betraying one group of supporters after another, then he's not very concerned about his supporters' issues is he?

When Obama takes as his advisor and department heads the very people who caused the messes, then he isn't all that concerned about the problems other than in terms of cover ups, is he?

When Obama's words support one thing but his actions support the opposite, it's a little difficult to trust the man, isn't it?

When Obama is more concerned about his political enemies than his supporters, it's very difficult to have any sympathy for him, at least it is for me.

To me it looks like Obama set out from the very beginning to keep his supporters quiet, not work on their issues.

The UK just like the US, don't expect any help from them ...

British Government refuses to help 'torture flight' victim

Britain says it will not help Binyam Mohammed - who is facing trial by US authorities - because it has "no obligation under international law" to provide information that might prevent someone being convicted outside the UK on evidence obtained through torture.
Certainly not many still expect help, or even lawfulness, from the US anymore.
"I was absolutely stunned -- it changed my whole world view in an instant -- to be told that London knew [the intelligence] coming from torture, that it was not illegal because our legal advisers had decided that under the United Nations convention against torture, it is not illegal to obtain or use intelligence gained from torture as long as we didn't do the torture ourselves," Murray said. [link to this quote no longer active, came from C&L post: Former UK Ambassador: US Sent Detainees to Uzbekistan for Torture ]
Lawlessness has a way of escalating [just look at the Taser's progress through US Lawless enforcement]. Just think if Bush the Lesser hadn't wanted torture closer to home we wouldn't have Guantanamo and we could go on pretending that torture by proxy is not torture.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Obama's performance: as candidate astute and apparently deliberately deceptive; as President unbelievably short sighted ...

A Union Man Ponders the Democrats’ Collapse in the Virginia Elections
2. When the Obama campaign turned out the lights and went home just a couple days after the election last year that was it. The campaign was over. When the paid campaign staff operatives threw the switch to try to turn it all back "on" this year nothing happened. The Obama strategy of relentlessly and fruitlessly trying to coax support for its timid agenda from the Republican Congressional minority has left the rank-and-file with nothing to do but complain in frustration. The activists were largely missing in action, and the newly energized voters stayed at home. It was as if last year never happened. [emphasis added]

Today's quote ...

... This is a base problem, and this is what Democrats better take from tonight:
  1. If you abandon Democratic principles in a bid for unnecessary "bipartisanship", you will lose votes.
  1. If you water down reform in favor of Blue Dogs and their corporate benefactors, you will lose votes.
  1. If you forget why you were elected -- health care, financial services, energy policy and immigration reform -- you will lose votes.
-- Lessons by John Amato, Crooks and Liars quoting Tonight's big lesson by kos, Dailykos

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's quote ...

If this election serves as a reminder that pandering to right wingers is not a successful electoral strategy [for Dems], then Creigh Deeds will have done even more good for Democrats than if he had won the Governorship today.

-- What Happened in Virginia? by Ben Tribbett, firedoglake.com

Do you think you have rights protected by the US Constitution? ...

Think again.
Yesterday, the Second Circuit -- by a vote of 7-4 -- agreed with the government and dismissed Arar's case in its entirety. It held that even if the government violated Arar's Constitutional rights as well as statutes banning participation in torture, he still has no right to sue for what was done to him.
If the person elected as President under the US Constitution says he doesn't want your 'rights' protected because he's got a secret, seven judges agree that though you may have rights they will not deign to inquire into them because the President claims he has a secret. The President does not want you bothering him any further with all that US Constitution crap. The only part of the US Constitution that matters is any part that favors him.

After all it's only a piece of paper, why not cut and paste as his little secret heart desires ...

The article, by Glenn Greenwald, continues:
I want to add one principal point to all of this. This is precisely how the character of a country becomes fundamentally degraded when it becomes a state in permanent war. So continuous are the inhumane and brutal acts of government leaders that the citizens completely lose the capacity for moral outrage and horror. The permanent claims of existential threats from an endless array of enemies means that secrecy is paramount, accountability is deemed a luxury, and National Security trumps every other consideration -- even including basic liberties and the rule of law. Worst of all, the President takes on the attributes of a protector-deity who can and must never be questioned lest we prevent him from keeping us safe.

This is exactly why I find so objectionable and dangerous the ongoing embrace by the Obama administration of these same secrecy and immunity weapons. Obama had nothing to do with the Arar case -- all the conduct, and even the legal briefing, occurred before he was President -- but he has taken numerous steps to further institutionalize the core injustice ...
Obama has taken up the cause of that Monster, Bush the Inferior (not to mention that other Monster, Cheney the Deranged). Sorry, Dems, but that makes Obama a monster. He can parade his cute family all he wants. They do not prevent his monsterhood. Obama is accountable for his own actions and he has chosen to follow Bush's path. In Heaven's Name, WHY?

Monday, November 2, 2009

So LIE-berman is set to destroy any Public Option ...

Does Reid know just how much of a fool Lieberman makes him look. Or is it all done with Reid's cooperation? That is, is it an in-joke and Reid actually likes to look the fool?

Harry Reid has never really needed 60 votes to pass health care reform with a public option, or the public option in a stand alone bill. Fifty senators plus the Vice President can do anything in the Senate if they really want to. While it would be more difficult and would step on a lot of precious Senate egos, Reid can get a public option using reconciliation, or even the “nuclear option.”

Well, we're going to find out are we not ...

Lieberman makes Obama the fool also. Even if Lieberman is doing something Obama and Reid want done, given that Lieberman repeatedly undermines what both Obama and Reid claim they are working for or believe in and both Obama and Reid actually reward Lieberman each time he acts against them makes for a very sick relationship and/or a very corrupt relationship and/or a deliberately deceptive relationship.

Today's quote(s) ...

The general calling for more troops cannot be trusted. The Afghan government has no credibility. The Taliban are resurgent, and they are based in Pakistan, anyway. The only thing going well in Afghanistan is the opium trade. Which is going very well, indeed.

-- Afghanistan: With Democracy Dead, It's Time To Leave by Turkana, The Left Coaster
-------------------------------------------------------------

... we now have a killing un-declared at-war policy with Pakistan that very few Americans truly comprehend in a nose-wrinkling geopolitical coupling that produces horrifying gory deaths of innocents which Americans would not tolerate once, not for one second, on their own soil and people. Throw on a scary robotic era of death by machines on top of this nuclear enchilada and the result is not good. Not good at all.

-- A Pakistani Meander by paradox, The Left Coaster