Saturday, September 30, 2006

Games Today

Today is the day a friend has his own Scottish games. Drag out the kilt and all the paraphenalia and get dressed in the gear of my ancestors. It is usually a fun day and the games are kinda detuned, as it were, for us older types. Usually some good Scottish food and drink and a nice chance to enjoy the fall weather.
So, I 'll be all decked out in by highland garb today and enjoying the day. You guys have fun and we'll chat a bit later.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pardoning Himself with Help

12 Senate Democrats voted with the Republicans to grant Bush the power to torture and to strip us of the right of habeas corpus at his whim. This is a terribly sad day for the American dream.
President Bush has just about managed to pardon himself for his and his minions’ crimes Under the War Crimes Act. Violations of the Geneva Conventions are felonies, in some cases punishable by death. When the Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Convention applied to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, President Bush and company were then guilty of war crimes. This they have admitted. This act allows them the legal protection to continue to conduct criminal activities.
Our only hope is to have this immediately overturned by the Supreme Court.

Oh, if you are interested, here are the 12 Democrats that voted to rob America of its last shred of moral standing in the world. If you truly love your country and believe in the principles that have guided us for the last 217 years you will never cast a vote for these people again. Here is the link to the entire list of how the vote went.

Carper (D-DE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Clinton Speaks

This pretty much sums it up.

Clinton Speaks


The Senate is currently debating a bill on how we treat detainees in our custody, and, more broadly, on how we treat the principles on which our nation was founded.

The implications are far reaching for our national security interests abroad; the rights of Americans at home, our reputation in the world; and the safety of our troops.

The threat posed by the evil and nihilistic movement that has spawned terrorist networks is real and gravely serious. We must do all we can to defeat the enemy with all the tools in our arsenal and every resource at our disposal. All of us are dedicated to defeating this enemy.

The challenge before us on this bill, in the final days of session before the November election, is to rise above partisanship and find a solution that serves our national security interests. I fear that there are those who place a strategy for winning elections ahead of a smart strategy for winning the war on terrorism.

Democrats and Republicans alike believe that terrorists must be caught captured and sentenced. I believe that there can be no mercy for those who perpetrated 9/11 and other crimes against humanity. But in the process of accomplishing that I believe we must hold on to our values and set an example we can point to with pride, not shame. Those captured are going nowhere – they are in jail now – so we should follow the duty given us by the Supreme Court and carefully craft the right piece of legislation to try them. The president acted without authority and it is our duty now to be careful in handing this president just the right amount of authority to get the job done and no more.

Washington's Choice

During the Revolutionary War, between the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which set our founding ideals to paper, and the writing of our Constitution, which fortified those ideals under the rule of law, our values – our beliefs as Americans – were already being tested.

We were at war and victory was hardly assured, in fact the situation was closer to the opposite. New York City and Long Island had been captured. General George Washington and the continental army retreated across New Jersey to Pennsylvania, suffering tremendous casualties and a body blow to the cause of American Independence.

It was at this time, among these soldiers at this moment of defeat and despair, that Thomas Paine would write, "These are the times that try men's souls." Soon afterward, Washington led his soldiers across the Delaware River and onto victory in the Battle of Trenton. There he captured nearly 1000 foreign mercenaries and he faced a crucial choice.

How would General Washington treat these men? The British had already committed atrocities against Americans, including torture. As David Hackett Fischer describes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Washington's Crossing," thousands of American prisoners of war were "treated with extreme cruelty by British captors." There are accounts of injured soldiers who surrendered being murdered instead of quartered. Countless Americans dying in prison hulks in New York harbor. Starvation and other acts of inhumanity perpetrated against Americans confined to churches in New York City.

The light of our ideals shone dimly in those early dark days, years from an end to the conflict, years before our improbable triumph and the birth of our democracy. General Washington wasn't that far from where the Continental Congress had met and signed the Declaration of Independence. But it's easy to imagine how far that must have seemed. General Washington announced a decision unique in human history, sending the following order for handling prisoners: "Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren."

Therefore, George Washington, our commander-in-chief before he was our President, laid down the indelible marker of our nation's values even as we were struggling as a nation – and his courageous act reminds us that America was born out of faith in certain basic principles. In fact, it is these principles that made and still make our country exceptional and allow us to serve as an example. We are not bound together as a nation by bloodlines. We are not bound by ancient history; our nation is a new nation. Above all, we are bound by our values.

George Washington understood that how you treat enemy combatants could reverberate around the world. We must convict and punish the guilty in a way that reinforces their guilt before the world and does not undermine our constitutional values.

The Senate's Choice

Now these values – George Washington's values, the values of our founding – are at stake. We are debating far-reaching legislation that would fundamentally alter our nation's conduct in the world and the rights of Americans here at home. And we are debating it too hastily in a debate too steeped in electoral politics.

The Senate, under the authority of the Republican Majority and with the blessing and encouragement of the Bush-Cheney Administration, is doing a great disservice to our history, our principles, our citizens, and our soldiers.

The deliberative process is being broken under the pressure of partisanship and the policy that results is a travesty.


Fellow Senators, the process for drafting this legislation to correct the administration's missteps has not befitted the "world's greatest deliberative body." Legitimate, serious concerns raised by our senior military and intelligence community have been marginalized, difficult issues glossed over, and debates we should have had have been shut off in order to pass a misconceived bill before Senators return home to campaign for re-election.

For the safety of our soldiers and the reputation of our nation, it is far more important to take the time to do the job right than to do it quickly and badly. There is no reason other than partisanship for not continuing deliberation to find a solution that works to achieve a true consensus based on American values.

In the last several days, the bill has undergone countless changes – all for the worse – and differs significantly from the compromise brokered between the Bush Administration and a few Senate Republicans last week.

We cannot have a serious debate over a bill that has been hastily written with little opportunity for serious review. To vote on a proposal that evolved by the hour, on an issue that is so important, is an insult to the American people, to the Senate, to our troops, and to our nation.


Fellow Senators, we all know we are holding this hugely important debate in the backdrop of November's elections. There are some in this body more focused on holding on to their jobs than doing their jobs right. Some in this chamber plan to use our honest and serious concerns for protecting our country and our troops as a political wedge issue to divide us for electoral gain.

How can we in the Senate find a proper answer and reach a consensus when any matter that does not serve the Majority's partisan advantage is mocked as weakness, and any true concern for our troops and values dismissed demagogically as coddling the enemy?


This broken process and its blatant politics will cost our nation dearly. It allows a discredited policy ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional to largely continue and to be made worse. This spectacle ill-serves our national security interests.

The rule of law cannot be compromised. We must stand for the rule of law before the world, especially when we are under stress and under threat. We must show that we uphold our most profound values.

We need a set of rules that will stand up to judicial scrutiny. We in this chamber know that a hastily written bill driven by partisanship will not withstand the scrutiny of judicial oversight.

We need a set of rules that will protect our values, protect our security, and protect our troops. We need a set of rules that recognizes how serious and dangerous the threat is, and enhances, not undermines, our chances to deter and defeat our enemies.

Our Supreme Court in its Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision ruled that the Bush Administration's previous military commission system had failed to follow the Constitution and the law in its treatment of detainees.

As the Supreme Court noted, the Bush Administration has been operating under a system that undermines our nation's commitment to the rule of law.

The question before us is whether this Congress will follow the decision of the Supreme Court and create a better system that withstands judicial examination – or attempt to confound that decision, a strategy destined to fail again.

The bill before us allows the admission into evidence of statements derived through cruel, inhuman and degrading interrogation. That sets a dangerous precedent that will endanger our own men and women in uniform overseas. Will our enemies be less likely to surrender? Will informants be less likely to come forward? Will our soldiers be more likely to face torture if captured? Will the information we obtain be less reliable? These are the questions we should be asking. And based on what we know about warfare from listening to those who have fought for our country, the answers do not support this bill. As Lieutenant John F. Kimmons, the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence said, "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive interrogation practices."

Mr. President, I would like to submit for the Record letters and statements from former military leaders – including Generals Colin Powell and John Vessey, 9/11 Families, the religious community, retired judges, legal scholars and law professors, all of whom have registered serious concerns with this bill and its provisions.

The bill also makes significant changes to the War Crimes Act. As it is now written, the War Crimes Act makes it a federal crime for any soldier or national of the U.S. to violate, among other things, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions in an armed conflict not of an international character. The administration has voiced concern that Common Article – which prohibits "cruel treatment or torture," "outrages against human dignity," and "humiliating and degrading treatment" – sets out an intolerably vague standard on which to base criminal liability, and may expose CIA agents to jail sentences for rough interrogation tactics used in questioning detainees.

But the current bill's changes to the War Crimes Act haven't done much to clarify the rules for our interrogators. What we are doing with this bill is passing on an opportunity to clearly state what it is we stand for and what we will not permit.

This bill undermines the Geneva Conventions by allowing the President to issue Executive Orders to redefine what permissible interrogation techniques happen to be. Have we fallen so low as to debate how much torture we are willing to stomach? By allowing this Administration to further stretch the definition of what is and is not torture, we lower our moral standards to those whom we despise, undermine the values of our flag wherever it flies, put our troops in danger, and jeopardize our moral strength in a conflict that cannot be won simply with military might.

Once again, there are those who are willing to stay a course that is not working, giving the Bush-Cheney administration a blank check – a blank check to torture, to create secret courts using secret evidence, to detain people, including Americans, to be free of judicial oversight and accountability, to put our troops in greater danger.

The bill has several other flaws as well.

This bill would not only deny detainees habeas corpus rights – a process that would allow them to challenge the very validity of their confinement – it would also deny these rights to lawful immigrants living in the United States. If enacted, this law would give license to this Administration to pick people up off the streets of the United States and hold them indefinitely without charges and without legal recourse.

Americans believe strongly that defendants, no matter who they are, should be able to hear the evidence against them. The bill we are considering does away with this right, instead providing the accused with only the right to respond to the evidence admitted against him. How can someone respond to evidence they have not seen?


At the very least, this is worth a debate on the merits, not on the politics. This is worth putting aside our differences – it's too important.

Our values are central. Our national security interests in the world are vital. And nothing should be of greater concern to those of us in this chamber than the young men and women who are, right now, wearing our nation's uniform, serving in dangerous territory.

After all, our standing, our morality, our beliefs are tested in this chamber. And their impact and their consequences are tested under fire; they are tested when American lives are on the line; they are tested when our strength and ideals are questioned by our friends and by our enemies.

When our soldiers face an enemy, when our soldiers are in danger, that is when our decisions in this chamber will be felt. Will that enemy surrender? Or will he continue to fight, with fear for how he might be treated and with hate directed not at us, but at the patriot wearing our uniform whose life is on the line?

When our nation seeks to lead the world in service to our interests and our values, will we still be able to lead by example?

Our values, our history, our interests, and our military and intelligence experts all point to one answer. Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities had this to say. "If Vice President Cheney is right, that some 'cruel, inhumane, or degrading' treatment of captives is a necessary tool for winning the war on terrorism, then the war is lost already."

Let's pass a bill that's been honestly and openly debated, not hastily cobbled together.

Let's pass a bill that unites us, not divides us.

Let's pass a bill that strengthens our moral standing in the world, that declares clearly that we will not retreat from our values before the terrorists. We will not give up who we are. We will not be shaken by fear and intimidation. We will not give one inch to the evil and nihilistic extremists who have set their sights on our way of life.

I saw with confidence and without fear that we are the United States of America, and that we stand now and forever for our enduring values to people around the world, to our friends, to our enemies, to anyone and everyone.

Before George Washington crossed the Delaware, before he could achieve that long-needed victory, before the tide would turn, before he ordered that prisoners be treated humanely, he ordered that his soldiers read Thomas Paine's writing. He ordered that they read about the ideals for which they would fight, the principles at stake, the importance of this American project.

Now we find ourselves at a moment when we feel threatened, when the world seems to have grown more dangerous, when our nation needs to ready itself for a long and difficult struggle against a new and dangerous enemy that means us great harm.

Just as Washington faced a hard choice, so do we. It's up to us to decide how we wage this struggle and not up to the fear fostered by terrorists. We decide.

This is a moment where we need to remind ourselves of the confidence, fearlessness, and bravery of George Washington – then we will know that we cannot, we must not, subvert our ideals – we can and must use them to win.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Serious Stuff

UPDATED: Republicans and a few Democrats hate America

The Senate passes the Torture Bill.

Got a few minutes respite while the client is in a meeting so I have a little time to get something off my chest.

I haven’t had much time to study all the details of the pending legislation to legalize torture and suspend habeas corpus but I have managed to think about it. What we have here is a misguided attempt to take our glorious and robust peace-time Constitution and morph it into a constitution based on military expediency.

While I am far from being qualified to analyze every legal nuance of the pending law I can see what will clearly be writ large upon the face of our democracy. This document will grant the President the legal authority and power to apprehend and hold every citizen or non-citizen at his whim with no formal charge and hold them with no recourse. This is a huge sacrifice. If you are so naïve to believe that this won’t be abused by the Cheney administration you are a fool.

This law is vulnerable to abuse in many ways. It sanctions torture for Christ’s sake and at the discretion of the government with no legal recourse on the part of the tortured. If our government clearly believes that torture is our most effective weapon against terrorism then I’m afraid we are most probably already lost. If our government truly believes that habeas corpus is nothing more than some historic relic that no longer has a place in the laws of civilized man in this new age of the GWOT then we are in serious danger of destroying everything that has been built over our last 217 years.

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said many months ago that any law passed by Congress must be one that the people of these United States can be proud of. It must be a law that the rest of the world will see as fair and humane and most of all it must be a law the Supreme Court can uphold.

This “band-aid” legislation haphazardly hammered together by the Congress (read GOP Senators) and the cabal in the Whitehouse won’t come close to meeting Mr. Warner’s smell test. Granted it probably makes it a little more difficult for Mr. Bush to take away the civil rights and torture those he may arbitrarily choose to call “enemy combatants” but it is still seriously flawed. If this bill passes with these flaws in place out treatment of foreign prisoners (and possibly citizens) will surely remain a source of global controversy and fuel the global jihadist movement and likewise the “war” on terrorism. Senators, Republicans and Democrats (woefully and disgustingly absent from the debate so far) alike should postpone any action on this bill. This is serious stuff and strikes at the foundations of who we are as a nation. This is not the time to rush something like this through Congress just because an election is imminent and because the Whitehouse is trying to cover for its war crimes.

Serious Stuff

Got a few minutes respite while the client is in a meeting so I have a little time to get something off my chest.

I haven’t had much time to study all the details of the pending legislation to legalize torture and suspend habeas corpus but I have managed to think about it. What we have here is a misguided attempt to take our glorious and robust peace-time Constitution and morph it into a constitution based on military expediency.

While I am far from being qualified to analyze every legal nuance of the pending law I can see what will clearly be writ large upon the face of our democracy. This document will grant the President the legal authority and power to apprehend and hold every citizen or non-citizen at his whim with no formal charge and hold them with no recourse. This is a huge sacrifice. If you are so naïve to believe that this won’t be abused by the Cheney administration you are a fool.

This law is vulnerable to abuse in many ways. It sanctions torture for Christ’s sake and at the discretion of the government with no legal recourse on the part of the tortured. If our government clearly believes that torture is our most effective weapon against terrorism then I’m afraid we are most probably already lost. If our government truly believes that habeas corpus is nothing more than some historic relic that no longer has a place in the laws of civilized man in this new age of the GWOT then we are in serious danger of destroying everything that has been built over our last 217 years.

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said many months ago that any law passed by Congress must be one that the people of these United States can be proud of. It must be a law that the rest of the world will see as fair and humane and most of all it must be a law the Supreme Court can uphold.

This “band-aid” legislation haphazardly hammered together by the Congress (read GOP Senators) and the cabal in the Whitehouse won’t come close to meeting Mr. Warner’s smell test. Granted it probably makes it a little more difficult for Mr. Bush to take away the civil rights and torture those he may arbitrarily choose to call “enemy combatants” but it is still seriously flawed. If this bill passes with these flaws in place out treatment of foreign prisoners (and possibly citizens) will surely remain a source of global controversy and fuel the global jihadist movement and likewise the “war” on terrorism. Senators, Republicans and Democrats (woefully and disgustingly absent from the debate so far) alike should postpone any action on this bill. This is serious stuff and strikes at the foundations of who we are as a nation. This is not the time to rush something like this through Congress just because an election is imminent and because the Whitehouse is trying to cover for its war crimes.

Home Soon

Good Day! Yes I am still in Tennessee but this is the last day this week and should be back in Atlanta late tonight. Haven't been able to see much of what is going on in the world this goes that way sometimes. Came back to the hotel last night and turned on CNNHN and Nancy Grace was obsessing over the Colorado thing and I just turned off the TV and went to bed. Goddess she iritates me.
Anyhow, off to see what culinary delights Holiday Inn Express is offereing for breakfast and then the drive to the client. It is always interesting to watch the client's reactions as we dive into their business and they discover how over time it has grown all kinds of inexplicable arms that don't bring a lot of value but exist for some reason that is no longer meaningful.
Probably won't hear from me until tomorrow morning when I should be back home.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What's Missing?

I know it has been pretty quiet here but that is what happens when the real job takes most of every day and sleep becomes the priority in your life. Just back from the client with a quick stop for dinner. If your interested Appleby's has a new menu that highlights some items purportedly designed by Tyler Florence of Food Network fame. Not too bad actually.

Anyhow, in the few minutes before I crash I have been trying to catch up on the day's happenings and one thing in particular struck me while reading the redacted NIE released today.

Even the "cherry-picked" parts declassified by the Bush bunch are damning and are complete in documenting the scope of the disaster of Iraq and it's contribution toward making us less safe and increasing world wide terrorism. One wonders if this is the stuff they will let us see, as damning as it is, what is it that we can't see? How damaging is what we can't see? There must be some really bad news in the unseen stuff if we can't even see it. Just a question...but logically one must assume that the really damaging stuff is still classified. We all know that Bush and company always play straight with us, don't we?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tennessee Again

Trying to get all my ducks in a row for another week in the wilds of western Tennessee. Have a flight at o'dark thirty in the morning(0745) so it will be an early night tonight. I'll have to roll out of bed at about 400a so I can be on the way to the airport by about 0530a. The only good thing about the early morning trips to the airport are the lack of traffic. I headed for the airport at 0700a last Monday and it took me nearly two hours to make what should be a 45 minute drive.

The client has decided that we need to start at 1100a on Mondays which requires us Atlanta based team members to get the earliest flight we can to Memphis which also means we have to fly the Delta Connection (ASA) which means a regional jet...most likely a CRJ-50 which is the 40 passenger version. Not my favorite mode of travel but it is only a 40 minute flight and there are no short runways in Atlanta to try and take off from.:-)

It is that time of year when packing the right clothes becomes problematical. Is it going to be cool or hot or somewhere in between? Last week was a little cool but should be a little warmer next week.

The length of this project should put us right in the middle of the changing leaves in Tennessee which will be nice. I only wish my camera would come back from the shop so I can get some pictures. I'll be able to spend a little time here in the evenings but, as usual, when I am on a client site my Internet wandering takes a back seat. Everybody have a great week.

Iran's Rising Star

If you think the saber rattling against Iran is about nuclear weapons - you're wrong.
If you think the war in Iraq is about spreading democracy or about WMD you're wrong.
If you think that the U.S. is about to have one ally left (Israel)- you're right.

I've said this before but I will repeat myself. If you are not reading Jeff Huber over at Pen and Sword then you are missing out on some informed commentary about the current situation in Iraq and the reasons and rationale (or lack thereof) for the run up to the war with Iran. In his latest series Jeff does an excellent job of giving the reader and understanding of the motivations of the Cheney administration and reason why it is doomed to fail. I highly recommend stopping by Pen and Sword often.

Jeff's latest series: Iran's Star Rising in the Next World Order is a must read

Part I examines the underlying motives of the push for war with Iran.

Part II discusses how the run up to a possible Iranian confrontation parallels what we saw with Iraq and examines how, if at all, we can arrive at a better conclusion than we did last time.

Part III discusses why U.S. military action against Iran would be the end of the "world order" as we know it.

Here is a bit from Part III

The ancient Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tzu said, "Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory."

The Dick Cheney neoconservatives who shaped the Bush administration's foreign policy are desperately looking for a victory to justify the defeats from their previous fights. Unfortunately, they don't think like Sun Tzu, so they still believe they can "win" by starting another ill-advised war, and they are unable to understand that they have already lost.

The prize in the next world order is control of global energy. That's what the Iraq invasion was really about. If there were a single enlightened, influential voice in or around the administration, it would tell young Mister Bush to reverse course immediately, and take steps to supplant China and Russia as Iran's energy partner (which is what Bush should have been doing all along).

Unfortunately for America, the influential policy shapers are the likes of Cheney, John Bolton, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, and the only thing they have in common with great Asian strategists like Sun Tzu is a fear of losing face. My fear is that if they manage to manipulate America into another act of military lunacy, our country will have squandered its gains of the last century before this one is a decade old.

The neoconservatives seem hell bent for Naugahyde to ensure that the United States goes out not with a whimper, but with a very big, very loud bang. My advice to young Americans who want to succeed in the next world order?

Learn Mandarin and Farsi.

Sumo Recommends

Sumo over at Sumo Merriment has a couple of links to worthwhile posts. The first by Shadow Monkey and the second by Tom Baker. Here is a taste of the two.

A Constant State Of Emergency by Shadow Monkey

"This vast range of powers, taken together, confer enough authority to rule the country without reference to normal constitutional processes. Under the powers delegated by these statutes, the President may: seize property; organize and control the means of production; seize commodities; assign military forces abroad; institute martial law; seize and control all transportation and communication; regulate the operation of private enterprise; restrict travel; and, in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens."

Fight Damn You, Fight by Tom Baker

I hate to say this, but I agree with President Bush that we are at war against an enemy that wants to destroy the very fabric of our civilization. We are at war with people who do not share our values, our ideals, and our morality. We are at war with people who believe that the ends justify the means, no matter how heinous, barbarous or uncivilized the act.



Athenae over at First-Draft has a good post up about security and how it is really our responsibility overall to insure our safety. It says some good things. I especially like the following two paragraphs. It really cuts to the heart of what I believe as a liberal.

Turn it around, look outward: that national security, true national security, doesn't mean a world in which no one can hurt us. It means a world in which no one wants to.

It means a world in which no one can blame us for the death of their children. It means a world in which the calls of radical fundamentalists to hate us for our privilege fall on deaf ears, because our only privilege is the limitlessness of our generosity and our compassion. It means a world in which we truly are the country even the worst of us, deep down, know we can be: light to the world, hope to the hopeless, give me your tired, give me your poor. It means a world in which that ideal is so undeniably our goal that those who would turn their desperate against us find no audience, find no one to believe. America, America, God shed its grace on all.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Voices Return

We are so lucky! Mandt has returned to the blogosphere at adgitadiaries. These guys were some of the first visitors to fallenmonk and when they went off the air last year we were very disappointed.

They have relocated from California to Vermont and have now decided to bring their much needed voice back on line. Sadly, their faithful companion Harry Hound is no longer with us and his humor and support will be sorely missed.

Please welcome two important voices back to the net. Their current post American Winter: In the Belly of the Beast will give you some idea of the quality of writing and beauty of thought we can expect from them over the coming months.
We have missed you and welcome you back.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm So Ashamed

Marty Lederman at Balkinization:

Here’s the language. It’s not subtle at all, and it only takes 30 seconds or so to see that the Senators have capitulated entirely, that the U.S. will hereafter violate the Geneva Conventions by engaging in Cold Cell, Long Time Standing, etc., and that there will be very little pretense about it. In addition to the elimination of habeas rights in section 6, the bill would delegate to the President the authority to interpret “the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions” “for the United States,” except that the bill itself would define certain “grave breaches” of Common Article 3 to be war crimes. [UPDATE: I hear word that Senator McCain thinks the definition of “grave breaches” covers the “alternative” CIA techniques. I hope he can make that interpretation stick somehow, but on quickly reading the language, it still seems to me as if it’s carefully crafted to exclude the CIA techniques. See, most importantly, the limiting language defining “serious physical pain or suffering,” which is carefully drafted to exclude the CIA techniques such as Cold Cell and Long Time Standing. Also, some Senators apparently are taking comfort in the fact that the Administration’s interpretation would have to be made, and defended, publicly. That’s a small consolation, I suppose; but I’m confident the creative folks in my former shop at OLC — you know, those who concluded that waterboarding is not torture — will come up with something. After all, the Administration is already on record as saying that the CIA “program” can continue under this bill, so the die apparently is cast. And the courts would be precluded from reviewing it.]

And then, for good measure — and this is perhaps the worst part of the bill, for purposes going far beyond the questions of torture and interrogation — section 7 would preclude courts altogether from ever interpreting the Geneva Conventions — any part of them — by providing that “no person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas or civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States, is a party as a source of rights, in any court of the United States or its States or territories.” [UPDATE: I’ve heard some people argue that this language would retain the power of courts to construe Geneva in a criminal proceeding. That remains to be seen (the language is not clear). But even if that’s so, it’s not at all obvious how or why the question of the meaning and application of Common Article 3 would ever be one that a court would have occasion to resolve in a criminal proceeding.]

If I’m right, and if this is enacted, the only hope would be the prospect of the Supreme Court holding that both the habeas cut-off, and the “no person may invoke Geneva” provision, are unconstitutional.

[UPDATE: In the post above, I tentatively conclude that what’s most alarming and radical about the “compromise” is the statutory definition of “cruel treatment,” and the foreclosure of both judicial review and any judicial consideration of any question dealing with Geneva interpretation.]

There Can Be Only One

Well, the following exchange between Eric Brewer and Tony Snow sure is interesting and goes a long way into explaining the thinking at the Whitehouse when it comes to the Constitution. It basically says we only have one branch of government and that one is President Thumbscrews.

Via Atrios from BTC News

Me: But isn’t it the Supreme Court that’s supposed to decide whether laws are unconstitutional or not?

Tony: No, as a matter of fact the president has an obligation to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. That is an obligation that presidents have enacted through signing statements going back to Jefferson. So, while the Supreme Court can be an arbiter of the Constitution, the fact is the President is the one, the only person who, by the Constitution, is given the responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend that document, so it is perfectly consistent with presidential authority under the Constitution itself.

President Thumbscrews

Charles Pierce at The American Prospect pretty much sums up the events of the last week or so when it comes to the Geneva Conventions and how much we are allowed to violate them.

The New York Times has the right of it here, limning the pathetic gullibility at the heart of the "compromise." There is nothing in this bill that President Thumbscrews can't ignore. There is nothing in this bill that reins in his feckless and dangerous reinterpretation of the powers of his office. There is nothing in this bill that requires him to take it -- or its congressional authors -- seriously. Two weeks ago, John Yoo set down in The New York Times the precise philosophical basis on which the administration will sign this bill and then ignore it. The president will decide what a "lesser breach" of the Geneva Conventions is? How can anyone over the age of five give this president that power? And wait until you see the atrocity that I guarantee you is coming down the tracks concerning the fact that the president committed at least 40 impeachable offenses with regard to illegal wiretapping.

And the Democratic Party was nowhere in this debate. It contributed nothing. On the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution through adjectives -- "Aggressive interrogation techniques" -- the Democratic Party had…no opinion. On the issue of allowing a demonstrably incompetent president as many of the de facto powers of a despot that you could wedge into a bill without having the Constitution spontaneously combust in the Archives, well, the Democratic Party was more pissed off at Hugo Chavez.

This was as tactically idiotic as it was morally blind. On the subject of what kind of a nation we are, and to what extent we will live up to the best of our ideals, the Democratic Party was as mute and neutral as a stone. Human rights no longer have a viable political constituency in the United States of America. Be enough of a coward, though, and cable news will fit you for a toga.

h/t to Atrios

The Cowboy Code

I think it is time Gene Autry stepped in to remind our friends in Congress and the President what it means to be an American. This is especially appropriate since “All Hat No Cattle” wants us to believe he is just a good ole Texas boy and just follows “The Cowboy Way”. The following was published in 1939 but it still applies today and for true Americans always will. I keep a framed copy on my office wall.


The cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

He must always tell the truth.

He must be gentle with children, the elderly and animals.

He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

He must help people in distress.

He must be a good worker.

He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

He must respect women, parents and his nation’s laws.

The cowboy is a patriot.

Moral Bankruptcy Defined

Another dubious reason for invading Iraq shot to hell. It was always one of those little extra things like "and another thing Saddam tortures his people too!" Did you ever imagine that the US Congress would actually be sitting around and debating how much torture is OK as a matter of policy? I've read the Constitution several times and I don't know how I skipped over the part that allows the President to torture prisoners as long as it is supervised and approved by the Congress and in spite of any international agreements we have signed.

Our government, under the morally bankrupt leadership of the Bush adminsitration and the GOP Congress has squandered every moral standing that we used to have in the world. We are now no longer any better than a third world dictatorship. Read it and weep for what we have become.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, made the remarks as he was presenting a report on detainee conditions at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay as well as to brief the U.N. Human Rights Council, the global body's top rights watchdog, on torture worldwide.

Reports from Iraq indicate that torture "is totally out of hand," he said. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

Nowak added, "That means something, because the torture methods applied under Saddam Hussein were the worst you could imagine."

Some allegations of torture were undoubtedly credible, with government forces among the perpetrators, he said, citing "very serious allegations of torture within the official Iraqi detention centers."

"You have terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias. There are so many people who are actually abducted, seriously tortured and finally killed," Nowak told reporters at the U.N.'s European headquarters.

"It's not just torture by the government. There are much more brutal methods of torture you'll find by private militias," he said.

h/t to Americablog

Thursday, September 21, 2006

You Can Only Torture This Much

According to the NYT the wayward three of McCain, Warner and Graham have reached a compromise with the Whitehouse on the treatment of prisoners. McCain is saying the the Geneva Convention has been protected but Bush is saying that he got what he needs. We'll see.
Evidently the "terrorists" won't be able to see "secret evidence" and I wonder what the grand writ of habeas corpus suffered in the deal.

Frankly, in the current environment and with the last "signing statement" castration of the McCain effort to reign the the torture I won't be surprised to see the same effort on the part of the Whitehouse to use what they can to justify their dirty deeds and ignore the rest.

RFK Jr. Is Raising the Flag Again

Via Raw Story it looks like another episode the Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s investigation of electronic voting is going to hit the pages of Rolling Stone tomorrow. This one looks to be a doozy if the teaser is any clue.

In late July, to speed deployment of the new machines, Cox quietly signed an agreement with Diebold that effectively privatized Georgia’s entire electoral system. The company was authorized to put together ballots, program machines and train poll workers across the state – all without any official supervision. “We ran the election,” says Hood. “We had 356 people that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tabulated the votes. Diebold convinced Cox that it would be best if the company ran everything due to the time constraints, and in the interest of a trouble-free election, she let us do it.”

Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold’s election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a “patch,” a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. “We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn’t do,” Hood says. “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done.”

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox’s agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. “It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state,” Hood told me. “We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level.”

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties – the state’s largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. “We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11,” Hood says. “There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it’s easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way.” Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.

BRAD BLOG has more on the new RFK Jr. article

If you will remember 2002 was the year Diebold took over elections in Georgia and six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss – darling of the Christian Coalition – by five percentage points. In the governor’s race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote, and Perdue won with fifty-one percent.

Jane On Countdown

Wow! Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake fame was on Countdown with Keith Olberman. Crooks and Liars has the video. Watch it, she's not hard to look at.

She and Keith are discussing her meeting with the "Big Dog" Bill Clinton last week.

Keeping Them Uninformed

If there is any doubt about how we are being manipulated by the Bush misadministration this story by Paul Thacker in Salon out to put the last shred of faith in our current government to rest.

(I know just click through the ad and read it)

In February, there were several press reports about the Bush administration exercising message control on the subject of climate change. The New Republic cited numerous instances in which top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and scientists at the National Hurricane Center sought to downplay links between more-intense hurricanes and global warming. NOAA scientist Thomas Knutson told the Wall Street Journal he'd been barred from speaking to CNBC because his research suggested just such a link.

At the time, Bush administration officials denied that they did any micromanaging of media requests for interviews. But a large batch of e-mails obtained by Salon through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that the White House was, in fact, controlling access to scientists and vetting reporters.

Don't miss this:

When NOAA press officer Laborde was contacted to discuss the e-mails, he denied that interviews were subject to approval from White House officials. Confronted with his own e-mails, however, he said, "If you already knew the answer, why did you ask the question?"

I don't know maybe we just wanted to confirm that you would lie about something this serious.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Elvis Territory

Here I am in Memphis for the night. My colleague managed to get a flight back home late today but Delta wanted to charge me 180 bucks to change my flight from tomorrow morning to tonight and I decided that wasn't worth it. So here I am.
The Memphis International Airport is only 5 or 6 miles from Graceland so after I checked in I took a quick drive down Elvis Presley Blvd and called Madam Monk as I passed. One must pay homage to the King and so acted as proxy for her. The tourists were still being bused in at 5pm and more in waiting. It really is amazing.
Wolf is talking with Bush on CNN right now and feeding him the scripted questions so that Bush can continue his tirade against Iran. It sure sounds like he is committed to do the war thing again. We really have to figure out a way to put the skids on this but a lot of experts are saying it is a done deal after the midterm elections if the GOP manages to maintain it's hold. This should be the question you ask every likely Bush voter. DO YOU WANT ANOTHER WAR? If you don't then vote Democratic.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Too Late?

It’s getting late and I’m really tired but I think there is something missing from the dialogue about the President’s parade for torture and the resistance of a few Senators and a multitude of military heavy hitters like Colin Powel to permitting “clarification”.

Let’s cut to the chase shall we? There is nothing vague and needing clarification about Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. "Common Article 3 prohibits cruel treatment and humiliation, and is pretty clear on that and as such is a pretty inflexible standard. Ask yourself…why would the Bush cabal object to this? They have admitted to interrogation outside of this standard several times and are, in fact, asking for permission to continue to do so. Bush is saying that he needs Congress to approve and legalize the criminal acts that he and his administration have already admitted to.

Why would it be necessary for Bush to be so adamant and in such a rush to have this illegal behavior legalized?

"Time is running out," Bush said on Friday. "Congress is set to adjourn in just a few weeks." So what's the hurry?

Might it be that the next Congress might not be so amenable to giving Bush legal cover? Would a Democratic Congress with subpoena power be inclined to call Bush on his illegal behavior?

You bet your sweet ass. Karl Rove and the rest of his minions have told Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld that under present American law and International law they are all war criminals and that there is a mountain of evidence to support that claim. The Hamdan decision, if nothing else, was a statement by the court that the current and past behavior of the President has not been legal.

If they lose the cover of a rubberstamp GOP Congress then they are in heavy trouble. They have publicly admitted to war crimes and if their actions are not legalized by Congress before the wind changes then they can and will be tried as war criminals.

All the talk of “needing the tools to fight the GWOT” and “clarification” so that our interrogators know what is within bound is bullshit and the President is just trying to prevent his ass from being tried as a war criminal. He knows he is a guilty as sin and his only cover is to get his past actions “legalized” before it is too late.

He knows the axe could fall and is in a rush because he knows his only chance is when he has the entire Congress in his corner. It's now or never.

Worser and Worser

Lies and more lies. George Bush is telling us on a daily basis what progress we are making in Iraq and we get regular forecasts of troop reductions in Iraq but the head cheese in Iraq is telling us that it likely we will have to send even more troops to Iraq before too long.
Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said military leaders would consider adding troops or extending the Iraq deployments of other units if needed. Until sectarian violence spiked early this year, Bush administration officials had voiced hopes that this election year would see significant U.S. troop reductions in what has become a widely unpopular war.
If you think sending more troops into the hellhole of Iraq is a super good and really keen idea then why not vote Republican in the fall and show them Muslims what it is all about. They are probably getting ready to board their troop transports and head this way. Jeebus, they could interupt the Xmas shopping season.
If you think this is not such good news or good idea then maybe you should vote Democratic pretty soon. You have a chance to change things you know.

In the Country

At least I am in the country and mean "in the country". Two hours north of Memphis. Travel and meetings all day yesterday and into the night so no time to play here. Up early and off again. Not sure of access until I am back here at the hotel tonight.

Everybody play nice and keep a light in the window.

False Choice

Don't be lulled into believing that the McCain-Graham bill is actually a "better" solution than what the President is asking for. It suspends habeas corpus. The foundation of our “free” society.

Let’s be very clear. The McCain Graham Warner Bill will suspend habeas corpus for these detainees. It will allow the US to hold these prisoners indefinately without compelling them to be put on trial. It will bar these prisoners from any legal recourse for actions against their treatment including torture.

This bill should be titled the John McCain Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Torture Program, because, while maintaining the current interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, it bars victims of torture from any recourse.

When McCain says he can accomplish the same thing as the Bush approach without reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions, he is talking about revoking habeas corpus.

The American people are being presented a false choice. Both the Bush and McCain bills will not end torture by the US. They will BOTH effectively legalize it.

The question that this country has to ask is: “Are these times so dire that we need to throw away the cornerstone of US liberty and justice? Are we in such danger and do we trust this President so much, that we are willing to topple more than seven hundred years of hard won human rights and hand these protections over to him?”

Nine former federal judges sent a letter to Congress detailing their opposition to the legislation

For two hundred years, the federal judiciary has maintained Chief Justice Marshall’s solemn admonition that ours is a government of laws, and not men. The proposed legislation imperils this proud history by abandoning the Great Writ to the siren call of military necessity. We urge you to remove the provision stripping habeas jurisdiction from the proposed Military Commissions Act of 2006 and to reject any legislation that deprives the federal courts of habeas jurisdiction over pending Guantanamo detainee cases.

H/T to Susie

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Week

Off to Memphis in the morning to begin a new engagement. Should be doing the weekly round trip there for the next 5 or 6 weeks depending on how fast we can wade through the business definition and figure out how to get all the data we need.
Hope everyone had a great weekend and has an exciting week planned.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Spinach Update

Update on the spinach. It is not just Spinach labeled Natural Selection Foods but a whole bunch of brands, not all of which are listed below. Trust none and be careful of all these salad blends available today. I would trust nothing leafy in a bag. A lot of this stuff is probably packaged using the same equipment. Of course, there is always the chance of getting some bad bugs from fresh produce but in this case it might be prudent to avoid all this stuff. It is convenient but it is not very economical and you'll save some money if you buy your lettuce and leafy veggies "on the hoof" as it were.

From CNN

Meanwhile, Natural Selection Foods voluntarily recalled its products containing spinach and is cooperating with federal and state health officials to identify the source of the contamination. Its products are sold as Rave Spinach, Natural Selection Foods, Dole, Earthbound Farm, Trader Joe's, Ready Pac and Green Harvest, among other brand names.

Sadder Still

OSLO (Reuters) - Polar bears are drowning and receding Arctic glaciers have uncovered previously unknown islands in a drastic 2006 summer thaw widely blamed on global warming.


On a trip this summer "We saw a couple of polar bears in the sea east of Svalbard -- one of them looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted," said Julian Dowdeswell, head of the Scott Polar Research Institute in England.

He said that the bears had apparently been stranded at sea by melting ice. The bears generally live around the fringes of the ice where they find it easiest to hunt seals.

NASA projected this week that Arctic sea ice is likely to recede in 2006 close to a low recorded in 2005 as part of a melting trend in recent decades. A stormy August in 2006 had slightly slowed the 2006 melt.


Ian Stirling, a researcher with the Canadian Wildlife Service, said polar bears were finding it harder to find food, threatening their ability to reproduce.

"In 1980 the average weight of adult females in western Hudson Bay was 650 pounds (300 kg). Their average weight in 2004 was just 507 pounds," he said in a report this week. Numbers in the Hudson Bay region dropped to 950 in 2004 from 1,200 in 1989.

This really makes me sad. This is going to be a painful and slow death for these glorious creatures. It makes me even sadder to know that this is just the beginning of our slow and inevitable suffering because of Global Warming. Sadder still that we aren't even close to taking the steps necessary to slow it down and reverse it. Sadder still knowing that if Al Gore were President we would have been doing something for the last 6 years.

It's About Torture, Plain and Simple

I posted the following in the comments this morning over at Morning Martini and PoP suggested I repost it here. This is not the whole response but it is the meat of it.

It was in response to a commenter there who spent several paragraphs building the strawman (you lefties want to pamper the people who are trying to kill us or I am scared shitless of the terrorists and anything you want to do is OK by me) in response to PoP's post about the sorry state affairs with respect to Bush and Co. trying to "clarify" Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

The purpose of this "clarification" as they call it is to allow them to perform acts of interrogation that under the present understanding of Common Article 3 are, in fact torture. The following is what 33 military leaders including Colin Powell, Stansfield Turner and Generals John Shalikashvili and Joseph Hoar wrote in a letter to Congress...

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions provides the minimum standards for humane treatment and fair justice that apply to anyone captured in armed conflict. These standards were specifically designed to ensure that those who fall outside the other, more extensive, protections of the Conventions are treated in accordance with the values of civilized nations. The framers of the Conventions, including the American representatives, in particular wanted to ensure that Common Article 3 would apply in situations where a state party to the treaty, like the United States, fights an adversary that is not a party, including irregular forces like al Qaeda. The United States military has abided by the basic requirements of Common Article 3 in every conflict since the Conventions were adopted. In each case, we applied the Geneva Conventions -- including, at a minimum, Common Article 3 -- even to enemies that systematically violated the Conventions themselves.

We have abided by this standard in our own conduct for a simple reason: the same standard serves to protect American servicemen and women when they engage in conflicts covered by Common Article 3. Preserving the integrity of this standard has become increasingly important in recent years when our adversaries often are not nation-states. Congress acted in 1997 to further this goal by criminalizing violations of Common Article 3 in the War Crimes Act, enabling us to hold accountable those who abuse our captured personnel, no matter the nature of the armed conflict.

If any agency of the U.S. government is excused from compliance with these standards, or if we seek to redefine what Common Article 3 requires, we should not imagine that our enemies will take notice of the technical distinctions when they hold U.S. prisoners captive. If degradation, humiliation, physical and mental brutalization of prisoners is decriminalized or considered permissible under a restrictive interpretation of Common Article 3, we will forfeit all credible objections should such barbaric practices be inflicted upon American prisoners.

This is what this is all about [deleted] [ed.]. The above gentlemen are not "liberal appeasers" and I sure wouldn't call them "weak and dishonest" to their faces. These are men that can see beyond the petty "spoiled frat boy" motivations of George Bush and Dick Cheney and all of these men had the guts and morals to fight for their country. These are courageous men and brave enough to support what we as Americans have always held most dear.[snip]

To quote PoP "We must show this president that America is brave enough to remain free. We will not lose our souls to the enemy or to his administration."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fried Green Tomatoes

Steve of YDD asked me for my recipe.

You'll need:
Green tomatoes (duh!)
a cup or so of buttermilk (you can use plain yogurt thinned with a little milk but the buttermilk is best)
Stone ground corn meal (not self rising) about a cup and a half (I use white meal but yellow is fine)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp Seasoned salt or just plain salt, paprika and onion and garlic powder instead.
3 or so Tablespoons of all purpose flour
Canola or peanut oil for frying (enough to put about an 1/8 think film of oil in your pan)
I like to use a nice heavy non stick pan as well.

Get the greenest tomatoes that you can find. You can only get about 4 or 5 good slices 3/8 inch think out of them so plan accordingly.

Soak the tomato slices in the buttermilk for an hour or two or so before cooking. I usually put a few dashes of Tobasco in the buttermilk to give it a little punch

Mix the cornmeal, flour, cayenne, seasoning. You are going to have to adjust the seasoning depending on how much dredge you are making.

After the tomatoes have had their swim take them out one by one and dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, coating thoroughl, and set aside on a piece of wax paper. After all the slices have been through the dredge do it again. Not much will stick the second time but some will.

Fry them carefully in the oil making sure not to crowd them, cooking on the first side until nicely browned and then very carefully turn them and finish the frying. It is best to try and only turn them once. Do them in batches and keep the cooked ones warm in the oven on a pan with a wire rack so they will drain and not get soggy while the others cook.

You have to be gentle with these things as the breading will come off if you are too rough and if you let them sit stacked together in the oven...moisture is their enemy.

BTW this recipe also works with eggplant and catfish filets and probably anything else that you would like to cook this way.

Wrong In Every Sense

I have been quite busy today and just now (5pm) am wrapping up and getting an opportunity to blog around and see what has been happening on this fine Friday.

It appears that there are some sane people still left in the Senate and they teamed with the Dems and passed their own version of the military tribunal bill. Good for them.

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- A Senate committee, in a bipartisan rebuff to President George W. Bush, approved military tribunal legislation that would give more legal protection to suspected terrorists than the administration wants.

Four of the 13 Republicans on the panel joined the 11 Democrats to pass their version of the measure, rejecting Bush's proposal to bar defendants from seeing classified evidence prosecutors may want to use in court. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed the Senate approach, warning that the Bush administration is risking the safety of U.S. troops and worldwide opinion by permitting harsh treatment of detainees.

The committee acted just hours after the president made an unusual visit to Capitol Hill to urge support for his proposals on domestic eavesdropping and military tribunals. Meeting with House Republicans, Bush said he reminded them that ``the most important job of government is to protect the homeland.''

Giving Bush what he wants on this is not acceptable for a multitude of reasons. It is not American. It is not civilized. It is not the way we want our troops treated if and when they are captured. I am just sick that this whole concept of how we torture is even managing to be an ongoing dialogue. What has this country come to for this to happen?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bag 'O Spinach Warning

If you are in to Bag 'o Salad you might want to at least hesitate. Seems Bag 'O Spinach is not agreeing with some folks. That's a shame too since a lot of us small families with only two or so in the household use these convenience foods all of the time. Don't need an E.Coli sparring match though, so I intend to refrain.

Shoot Self in Foot--Reload

Interesting concept, If we protect ourselves from terrorism the terrorists win. Only someone in the Bush cabal could say this in public and keep a straight face.

The argument goes like this…OBL's goal is to bankrupt us, make us spend all our money trying to protect ourselves and then our economy collapses and then they win. This means that if we scan cargo coming into the US to make sure it doesn't contain nuclear material we’ll be spending money and that is just what the terrorists want us to. Therefore, the financial wizard and terrorist thwarting Chertoff is foiling Osama by not spending any money on checking for nukes in cargo containers. Brilliant! And we thought your Katrina response was your finest moment.

We are not, of course, supposed to notice or comment on the disastrous adventure in Iraq that's costing us nearly $100 billion a year. A couple of week’s worth of the spending we are doing in Iraq would cover the inspection of all the cargo.

It is the Constitution After All

Just taking a quick break from the mountain of stuff I have in front of me today.

There are some excellent posts over at Firedoglake today. Christy is especially fired up (it must her brush with the "Big Dog" yesterday) and as usual the commenters are kicking in some great stuff as well. Here is part of a comment that Christy reposted from Peterr

Dems need to plainly tell the truth about what we believe:

We believe that the Geneva Convention works. We do not believe in torture.

We believe in accountability and the rule of law. We do not believe in secret prisons or warrantless wiretaps, outside the scrutiny of the courts.

We believe that our morality is not dependent upon the morality of others. We do not believe in giving up our moral stature in times of war.

We believe that no one is above the law - not the president, not the CIA, not the Justice Department, not the Congress, not the courts, not corporations, not unions, not lobbyists.

We believe that no one is beneath the law - not the poor, not the non-English speakers, not the immigrant (legal or not), not the ill, not the outcasts of our society.

We believe that the military and the officers of the intelligence communuity are safer with the Geneva Conventions in place. We do not believe in cutting and running from the protections of Geneva.

Most of all, we believe in three branches of government that hold each other accountable as they do the people’s business.

We do not believe in King George. Not in 1776, and not in 2006. (emphasis mine)

I will second this in spades.

Ann Richards Died Yesterday

Sad news from Texas. One of the great ladies of Texas and even American politics Former Texas Governor Ann Richards died today. She had cancer. I liked this lady... she was tough and feisty and it was a tragedy that she lost the governorship to George Bush because Texas really suffered and in the long run we all did and are. Take the time to read her memorable speech to the 1988 Democratic Convention.

Condolences to her family.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


What does one say about this kind of thing?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

h/t to Susie

More School Paintings

Meanwhile, it's another day In Iraq:

Iraqi police say they have found in the space of one day 60 bodies of people bound, tortured and shot in the capital, Baghdad.

They were found all over the city, from Sunni areas in the west to Shia districts in the east - but most were found in largely Sunni west Baghdad.

Sectarian killings are not unusual in the city but this is a large number for one day, a BBC correspondent says.

Meanwhile, car bombs killed at least 22 people in Baghdad.

One device near the national sports stadium in the eastern Shaab district exploded in a parked car during the morning rush hour, killing 14 people including two policemen and wounding at least 57.

A bomb later went off near a police patrol in the Zayona district, also in the east, killing eight people and injuring at least 17.

Phony War

Good stuff in the current issue of Rolling Stone and just posted at

1159854111598547slarge The Phony War
President Bush not only created a fake "War on Terror" to scare voters into supporting his policies -- he is failing to address the real threat facing America


In August, even before the official announcement that some two dozen would-be terrorists had been arrested in London, President Bush and his top advisers swung into action. Their goal was not to stop the terrorists, who were already safely behind bars, but to use the threat to justify the president's seemingly endless "War on Terror."

Vice President Dick Cheney, who had known in advance about the pending arrests, hinted darkly about the threat posed by "Al Qaeda types." The president, standing on an airport tarmac in Wisconsin the next morning, warned that the arrests were "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." And that afternoon, Peter Wehner, the director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, declared that America is engaged in nothing less than a "civilizational struggle" with enemies who seek "to establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia."

Fortunately, Wehner added, the country has a leader who knows exactly how to combat terrorism: "George W. Bush understands, with extraordinary clarity, the great struggle of our time."

The problem is, almost everything that President Bush understands about his own war on terrorism is wrong.

Continue reading "RollingStone: Bush's Phony War"

h/t to Hoffmania

Boehner Gets Roughed Up

It's about time we were seeing a little "give 'em hell"

"I wonder if [the Democratic Party is] more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio. "They certainly do not want to take the terrorists on and defeat them."

Trading barbs, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who had criticized the president's speech as inappropriately political, called Boehner's criticism "cynical tactics."

"Rather than try to defend their own failed record, Republicans have resorted to the desperation politics of fear," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "It is long past time for Republicans to be honest with American people and stop questioning the patriotism of those who recognize that the president's Iraq policy has not worked, is making us less safe and must be changed."

Any Questions?

From the Sun Herald
WASHINGTON - Humans are largely to blame for the recent trend toward more powerful hurricanes, a group of 19 American and European scientists declared Monday.

In a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists claim to have established a solid chain linking human burning of fossil fuels, global warming, higher ocean temperatures, and the intensity and duration of recent hurricanes such as Katrina and Wilma.

The scientists' key finding was that as sea surface temperatures rise and fall, the maximum wind speed of hurricanes goes up and down in step with them.

"Human-caused changes in greenhouse gases are the main driver" of warmer waters in the tropical Atlantic and northwestern Pacific oceans, where hurricanes and cyclones are born, the paper says.

Its principal author was Benjamin Santer, a senior climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. Other contributors come from 11 different laboratories in the United States, Germany and England.

Monday, September 11, 2006

One Chance

Dear Leader tonight...
"If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons," Bush said. "We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world."
"We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations, and we are fighting for the possibility that good and decent people across the Middle East can raise up societies based on freedom and tolerance and personal dignity," Bush said. "By standing with democratic leaders and reformers, by giving voice to the hopes of decent men and women, we are offering a path away from radicalism."
"We will defeat our enemies ... we will protect our people .. and we will lead the 21st century into a shining age of human liberty," Bush said.

Once again Bush/Rove play the fear card. They want you to believe that without their diligence you are lost and without them a horde of Muslim fanatics will beat down you door and rape your daughter and eat your dog. It is them or us.

If you buy into this then I recommend you lock your doors and wait for the towel headed hordes to crash your door and ravage your family. Stop your life and crawl quivering into your basement. Just wait, because it is only a matter of time before the end draws nigh.

On the other hand you might reject this defeatist rhetoric and decide that America wasn't founded by lily livered cowards afraid of their own shadow and that the sacrifice of your self respect and personal liberties is too high a price to pay for the "Global War on Terror".

Either way, this November is the acid test. Do you want to cower in your closet or stand free and proud knowing that the price of freedom is real and requires a committment. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. You are either a proud American that believes in the founding fathers and their gift of our Constitution and form of goverment or you are a coward and not willing to face the responsibility of being free. Your's a free country.

Here is my recommendation...
Stay focused on one and only one thing and this is the message.
You, as a voter have one and only one opportunity to do your job. As a voter you have only ONE DAY to hold the Bush Administration accountable for what’s happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Graib and Guantanamo not to mention what has happened here at home with Katrina and everything else. You only have ONE DAY — election day. If you like the way things are going, vote Republican. If you think things need to change, VOTE DEMOCRATIC. Seize the day. It’s your very last chance.”

No Fear

I remember September 11, 2001. I remember where I was and what I felt. I was shocked and angry mostly. All my years of work in military intelligence were flashing before me and I was absolutely incredulous that this was happening. We should have seen this coming months and months before execution. It turns out I was right to be mad and disgusted in addition to being shocked at the tragedy. We did see it coming as did our allies. Bush and company were warned but chose to ignore it and we suffered an unneccessary attack and loss as a result.

That's water under the bridge and it can't be fixed so I remember and acknowledge the loss. What I won't do is be afraid it will happen again. I expect my government to take adequate precautions and I'll put up with the extra airport security but I refuse to live in fear that it will happen again. I can't do better than the following excerpt to explain...

"What has changed, grotesquely, is the aftershock," Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian, delivering a splash of cold reality. "Terrorism is 10% bang and 90% an echo effect composed of media hysteria, political overkill and kneejerk executive action, usually retribution against some wider group treated as collectively responsible. This response has become 24-hour, seven-day-a-week amplification by the new politico-media complex, especially shrill where the dead are white people. It is this that puts global terror into the bang. While we take ever more extravagant steps to ward off the bangs, we do the opposite with the terrorist aftershock. We turn up its volume. We seem to wallow in fear.

"Were I to take my life in my hands this weekend and visit Osama bin Laden's hideout in Wherever-istan, the interview would go something like this. I would ask how things have been for him since 9/11. His reply would be that he had worried at first that America would capitalise on the global revulsion, even among Muslims, and isolate him as a lone fanatic...

"In the event Bin Laden need not have worried. He would agree, as did the CIA's al-Qaida analyst in Peter Taylor's recent documentary, that the Americans have done his job for him. They panicked. They drove the Taliban back into the mountains, restoring the latter's credibility in the Arab street and turning al-Qaida into heroes. They persecuted Muslims across America. They occupied Iraq and declared Iran a sworn enemy. They backed an Israeli war against Lebanon's Shias. Soon every tinpot Muslim malcontent was citing al-Qaida as his inspiration. Bin Laden's tiny organisation, which might have been starved of funds and friends in 2001, had become a worldwide jihadist phenomenon.

"I would ask Bin Laden whether he had something special up his sleeve for the fifth anniversary. Why waste money, he would reply. The western media were obligingly re-enacting the destruction and the screaming, turning the base metal of violence into the gold of terror. They would replay the tapes and rerun the footage ad nauseam, and thus remind the world of his awesome power. Americans are more afraid of jihadists this year than last. In a Transatlantic Trends survey, the number of them describing international terrorism as an 'extremely important threat' went up from 72% to 79%...

"Bin Laden might boast that he had achieved terrorism's equivalent of an atomic chain reaction: a self-regenerating cycle of outrage and foreign-policy overkill, aided by anniversary journalism and fuelled by the grim scenarios of security lobbyists. He now had only to drop an occasional CD into the offices of al-Jazeera, and Washington and London quaked with fear. The authorities could be reduced to million-dollar hysterics by a phial of nail varnish, a copy of the Qur'an, or a dark-skinned person displaying a watch and a mobile phone."

To be able to live in absolute certainty that no terrorist will get another win the war on terror means that I/we will have to give up every freedom we have and all our privacy. I'm not willing to do that. There can be no secrets from government and the police if we are to be truly free of the threat of terrorism...think about what you are willing to give up to be totally free from the possibility of another attack.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sunday Chat

Nice day here in Atlanta. The news is reporting that we had an earthquake here at 10:56a but I can’t say that I noticed anything. The epicenter was down in the gulf off of Tampa but a lot of people reported it here in Atlanta, evidently. I think I was just finishing the paper at the kitchen table about that time so it must not have been too vigorous.

About the same time as the reported shake I was standing at the kitchen window watching an immature Cooper’s hawk sitting on the deck railing. He sat there for at least a half hour while a couple of brave squirrels twitchily ate sunflower seeds just a few feet away. He watched them closely but never really attempted to go after one. Finally he or she spotted its desired prey and shot across the yard and took a chipmunk I think. It was very fast and the action was blocked by azaleas and irises. We are overrun with the cute little guys and I think that is why the hawk is a frequent visitor to the yard that plus I think he or she also has a taste for mourning doves which gather here in droves. I keep all the bird feeders full year around with all sorts of goodies so I have a pretty much constant parade of wildlife in the yard. I can throw an ear of dried corn on the deck and a couple of chipmunks can have it clean in less than a half hour and hauled off and stored somewhere nearby underground. With dozens of them running back and forth from the feeders with their bulging cheeks full of sunflower seed or corn I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a couple of tons of stuff stored in my yard at any given time.

Getting some “honey do’s” done this weekend. Built two new platform feeders for the deck out of rough cut cedar and replaced the existing ones. Between the raccoons, squirrels and chipmunks I only get about six months out of them before they look so disreputable that Madam insists they be replaced. I also replaced all the light fixtures in the upstairs hall and stairway. Madam decided the globe fixtures had to go so now there are low profile things in their stead.

If the weather holds I think it is chicken on the grill tonight and probably some grilled baby yellow squash and red peppers along side. Last night we decided to do all veggie as the market had some beautiful organic green tomatoes so yesterday I surprised Madam with one of her favorites…fried green tomatoes. Don’t get me wrong I love them too but she had never had them until I made them once some twenty years ago and she decided it was one of her favorite foods. I must say that I have never tasted anyone else’s that are tastier than my FGT’s . If anyone wants my secret recipe just let me know. They are even better than the ones at the Whistle Stop Café in Juliette, Georgia where they filmed the Fannie Flag movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”.

Friday, September 08, 2006

It's Too Late

Blogger is eating posts today and I have lost two. I should know by now to keep a copy on the clipboard until I verify the post happened. I am slow, what can I say.
Now that it is over I will announce that I turned 57 today. There was little fanfare and only a few cards from faithful friends. Tragedy is best left unnoticed.

Madam and I did treat ourselves to a new bed today. I have noticed that I sleep better in hotels than I do at home and after checking found that the mattress we were sleeping on was 13 years old. Crikey!

We bought a new Beautyrest super-duper mattress and box springs for way too much money and it was delivered today. Madam is already asleep(watching TCM) so that is a good sign. I am about to indulge and will report in a couple of days if the mattress is as good as it's price. (I should sleep for days.)

Good Question

Thank the Goddess that Froomkin is back. He is on target today and taking apart the lies as only he can do.

A skeptical view on what Bush said yesterday suggests that under the cover of some impressive-sounding but fragmentary and in some cases dubious disclosures, the president was actually making some very controversial demands.

He was, in fact, calling for the CIA to continue to be allowed to use interrogation tactics that many people would reasonably consider torture; he was demanding retroactive legal immunity for American interrogators who used tactics that many people would reasonably consider torture; he was calling for the unprecedented admission of coerced evidence in an American legal proceeding; and after all those years of refusing to give Congress any role in this matter, he was insisting that they take action in a matter of days.

I especially liked the section of quotes from military lawyer types.

Richard Simon writes in the Los Angeles Times, quoting Brig. Gen. James C. Walker, U.S. Marine Corps staff judge advocate: "I'm not aware of any situation in the world where there is a system of jurisprudence that is recognized by civilized people, where an individual can be tried and convicted without seeing the evidence against him. And I don't think that the United States needs to become the first in that scenario."

David Welna of NPR reported the following priceless exchange between Rep. GK Butterfiled (D-N.C.) and Steven G. Bradbury, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel's acting chief.

Butterfield: "Would the administration find these procedures that you've put forward to be acceptable to one of our members if they were being tried by a foreign government?"

Bradbury: "I think probably not."

I guess the question that I have is why this question isn't the first question always asked when we start discussing the prisoners being held in Gitmo?

One More Thing

I overlooked this little tidbit in the last post. This is after the unprecedented security crackdown by American troops and Iraqi security forces last month. This kinda' flies in the face of what we are hearing from our side....

Washington Post
Baghdad's morgue almost tripled its count for violent deaths in Iraq's capital during August from 550 to 1,536, authorities said Thursday, appearing to erase most of what U.S. generals and Iraqi leaders had touted as evidence of progress in a major security operation to restore order in the capital.

This is Progress?

While Doofus Bush is wandering the nation telling us what a fine job he is doing on the GWOT the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq are continuing to devolve into deeper and deeper quagmires and/or civil war. Somebody needs to take him by the shoulders and give him a good shaking and try and wake him up.

"We're not leaving Iraq until we win." he says yesterday in Atlanta. Hello! For all intents and purposes we have already lost and are now just fighting a holding action and trying to minimize American casualities.

From Afghanistan...
As the American general heading up NATO forces issues a plea for help saying they underestimated the strength of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber sets off a huge explosion near the US embassy in Kabul.

The driver of a car packed with explosives rammed into a U.S. military convoy in downtown Kabul on Friday, killing himself and at least 18 other people, including two American soldiers. Two other American soldiers were among 31 people wounded.

But not to worry because Opium production is up 40% over last year.

Meanwhile in Iraq it just keeps getting worse...the following are from yesterday.

KIRKUK - A roadside bomb exploded on Wednesday near a police patrol in Kirkuk, wounding four policemen, including an officer, police said. . .

MOSUL - The bodies of six men with multiple gunshot wounds were found in the northwestern suburbs of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, sources at the morgue said. . .

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber killed 10 people and wounded 17 at a petrol station used by police vehicles in eastern Baghdad, police said. The casualty toll included police and motorists caught in congested traffic nearby. . .

BAGHDAD - Two bombs planted in a market killed two policemen and four civilians in Zaafariniya in southern Baghdad, police said. . .

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in Karrada district, central Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding two others, police said. . . .

BAGHDAD - Four people, including two policemen, were wounded when a police patrol was struck by a roadside bomb in al-Qahtan intersection, western Baghdad, police said. . .

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber targeting a police patrol killed three people and wounded 10 in a tunnel in Bab al-Sharji district, central Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said. . .

BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed two policemen and wounded four civilians when they attacked Shi'ite pilgrims crossing a southern Baghdad bridge, police said. . .

BAGHDAD - Two roadside bombs exploded in different areas of the mostly Shi'ite Amil neighbourhood in southwestern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding seven others, an Interior Ministry source said. The target of the bombs was unclear. . .

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives at an Iraqi police commando checkpoint in western Baghdad's Yarmouk district, wounding seven police commandos, an Interior Ministry source said. . .

NEAR SUWAYRA - The bodies of three people, including a beheaded woman bearing signs of torture, were retrieved from the Tigris river near town of Suwayra, south of Baghdad, police said. . .