Saturday, May 16, 2009

Busy, busy ...

Still doing stupid detail shit on the house that's major league time-consuming. We also booked our 20th Anniversary cruise for next year in August the other day. We'll be leaving Amsterdam and heading north, through the Baltic, ending up in Greenwich, England 14 days later aboard the same ship we took to the Med last year, Holland America Line's MS Prinsendam. We'll then be hopping a cab from Greenwich to Southampton to board our old friend RMS Queen Mary 2 for the Transatlantic crossing to Red Hook, Brooklyn. We'll probably retake our wedding vows before the Master of QM2 (still not firm on that yet).

The reason I put this out there now is that this is a pretty unique cruise and if anyone is interested in joining us for all or part of it, you got time to plan.

Heading out to dinner with our cruise pals Annie and Joe to plan this September's piracy and see if they want to join us next year as well. Any questions about the cruise, fares (prices are going down), or cruising in general, feel free to email us anytime. See yas tomorrow.

Saturday Flatpickin' Blogging

Hang on to yer hat!

Eclectic California flatpicker Dan Crary performs a medley comprised of "Fishing Creek Blues," "The Blackbird," "Turkey in the Straw," "Bonaparte's Retreat" and "Arkansas Traveller." From the DVD "Legends of Flatpicking Guitar." More info at

Thanks to GtrWorkShp.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Emmylou Harris & Guy Clark with Los Lobos ~ I Don't Love You Much Do I

Thanks to 1000Magicians (UK).

In Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of...

A song of true love. Sigh. The song ends a little abruptly. I guess love does too sometimes...

Jim's recent trip to Hells Canyon

David Allan Coe ~ That Old Panhead Of Mine

Thanks to gicheney. Sorry about yer name, bud.

Drip. drip, drip, DICK!

In case you missed this, here it is.

Shorter: First, the Bush White House, meaning Dick, has his shysters build a flimsy box within which torture is made to seem legal, then they operate outside the box.

Also, good post at Firedoglake:

I could, at this point, throw out the name George W. Bush—he was president at the time, after all—but we now have pretty good evidence that the real authority for waterboarding (to name but the most talked about of many illegally brutal “techniques”), the real orders to “do that,” and “do that again,” came from the vice president. The order to torture came from Dick Cheney.

Let me say that again: Dick Cheney ordered torture.

Not Nancy Pelosi; Dick Cheney.

Before there were any briefings of any Democrats, there was the torture—a violation in-and-of itself—and that torture was ordered by Republican Vice President Dick Cheney.

And to take it one step further, that torture wasn’t ordered up to save us from some imagined “ticking bomb” scenario (not that torture would even solve that particular problem, and not that, even if it did, it could be justified), it was ordered to make detainees produce a specific, desired piece of information (or disinformation). Dick Cheney wanted a connection between the attacks of September 11, 2001 and Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein, and so Cheney told interrogators contractors to torture detainees until they stated that there was a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. (my em)

They signed off on a reverse-engineered program designed to help US troops survive “brain washing,” and then used that program to elicit false confessions.

All at the behest of tonight’s big fucking elephant, Dick Cheney.

FDL also has a YouTube channel. Do not go there lightly. 875 videos as of now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quote of the Day


I don't get this idea that if Pelosi knew about torture it makes torture okay. It doesn't. It just makes Pelosi suck ...

And just something to consider: All the briefings Pelosi and the rest of them got were classified, meaning that even if she knew every sordid detail, she could say nothing legally. While I believe the moral answer should have been: she was willing to go to jail to expose this, she's a politician and saving one's skin comes naturally, as does the inclination to cover one's ass. None of them would willingly risk real jail time on principle.

Nancy Pelosi Restores the Natural Order of Things

I've been thinking along these same lines the last coupla days and The Rude Pundit, obviously a regular reader of my mind, expounds:

Thank Nancy Pelosi for at least one thing: she's making it okay to hate the CIA again.
... was odd, to say the least, to see the left praising and defending the very government entity that had been the cause of so, so many of the very clusterfucks that have plagued this country.

You want a list? Let's take the beginner's tour. For shit and giggles, start with the Vietnam War, work your way through Central and South America, pause to wave at the Contras and the graves of Pinochet's disappeared, take a walk through the School of the Americas, jaunt over to Afghanistan to meet the Mujihadeen, check out the failure to predict the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union, shake hands with Saddam Hussein, and then look over the many, many documents that did say there were WMDs in Iraq. And that's just the start, before we even get to the current "enhanced interrogation" scandal.

So when Speaker of the House Pelosi, finally sick of all the bullshit swirling around about when she was or wasn't briefed about waterboarding, said that the CIA lied to her in 2002 and that "They mislead us all the time," well, it was one of the ballsiest things we've heard from a top Democrat in Congress for a long damn time. Pelosi upset the motherfuckin' apple cart by breaching the ass-kissing we're supposed to be giving anyone who is remotely connected with fighting terrorism (at least since the 2004 report on pre-war intelligence failures).

Oh, the Republicans went nutzoid, leading House Minority Leader John Boehner to make the idiotic statement that he couldn't imagine "anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress." This was followed by Senator Kit Bond, a man who lets other men call him "Kit," fanning himself and saying, in essence, "Oh, my stars and garters, I believe this has given me the vapors."

I was actually thinking Boner's attitude was more along the lines of "The CIA? Lie? I'm SHOCKED, shocked, I tell you!" but RP probably came pretty close on Bond.

The Rude One didn't go back far enough, but then I'm probably a lot older than he is. I would have started with Iran and Guatemala and that still probably doesn't go back far enough.

The CIA pretty much ran the operational side of foreign policy for this country from '47 'til the Church Committee reined 'em in a little in '75. They installed more right-wing dictators around the world on behalf of big business than they care to be reminded of, I am sure.

They're not quite as bad as they were, but they're still spooks.

And while some Democrats and some in the press wonder what the fuck Pelosi is thinking, getting into a fight with the CIA never being a good idea, the Rude Pundit's said it before and he'll say it again: you don't fuck with Nancy Pelosi. You might disagree with her (and there's a great deal to do so on), but she's mostly a straight-shooter, and when she's cornered, she is like a fuckin' rat on meth: she'll chew right through you to get out. And one of the things she's done here is to put the universe right again: the CIA ought to be feared, for its ability to fuck up the world, for its pettiness, and for its inbred sense of privilege, that it's somehow above oversight. C'mon - the only records of these briefings to members of Congress are from the CIA. As Bob Graham has already demonstrated, the CIA ain't exactly on its game with the record-keeping.

My ems. Heh. Yeah man, ol' Granma Nance'll burn ya down to yer socks, ya fuck with her! Yer toast, CIA.

Wait - the CIA engaged in subterfuge? Why, that's unthinkable.

I'm SHOCKED, shocked, I tell you!

Yeah, right.

Oldest Army soldier killed in Iraq

USA Today

PHOENIX (AP) — A 60-year-old reservist from Arizona has become the oldest Army soldier killed in combat in Iraq.

Better do some PT, Fixer. We're liable to go yet.

Dawn Johnsen's belief in the rule of law disqualifies her from Senate confirmation

Glenn Greenwald in Salon on the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to OLC. Links at site:

One of the best things Barack Obama has done since being elected President was selecting Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel -- the office of Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Stephen Bradbury, torture memos, and theories of presidential omnipotence. Johnsen expressed outrage over the extremism and lawlessness of the Bush administration not (like most political and media elites) in the last few weeks when doing so was easy and irrelevant, but did so loudly and continuously while those crimes were actually taking place. Her arguments were grounded in one simple belief: that the duty of the OLC is to tell the President when his desired policies are unconstitutional or otherwise illegal. But as a vivid reflection of how perverse Washington culture is, those attributes -- outrage over high-level government extremism and criminality, and a belief in the rule of law -- are apparently disqualifying:

The Senate that is refusing to confirm Dawn Johnsen is the same Senate that confirmed Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA Director -- with overwhelming Democratic support -- even after it was revealed that he oversaw Bush's illegal NSA spying program. It's the same Senate that confirmed Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General -- with substantial Democratic support -- even once everyone knew that he had played a key role in Bush's torture program. It's the same Senate that -- thanks to Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer -- confirmed Michael Mukasey as Attorney General even after he refused to say whether waterboarding was torture and endorsed some of the most extremist presidential powers ever asserted in the U.S.

And the Washington culture that finds Dawn Johnsen too inappropriate and extreme for their upstanding halls of power is the same culture that venerates as Serious centrists the "Blue Dogs" despite -- or, really, because of -- things like this:

Blue Dog Dems Rake in Health Care Contributions, Protest Exclusion from Debate

To recap the Washington hierarchy of Seriousness: Implementing an illegal spying program aimed at Americans is Serious, as is legalizing a torture regime, endorsing the President's right to imprison Americans without charges, and obediently carrying out the agenda of groups that stuff your pockets full of cash. But arguing that it is intolerable for the President to break the law in secret and that he must be held accountable when doing so is deeply unSerious, disqualifying from holding high political office, including when Democrats are in control of the Congress (the objections over Johnsen's involvement in NARAL are quite obviously pure pretext since NARAL's positions are squarely within the mainstream of abortion views and Johnsen was previously the acting OLC chief under Clinton without any objections; what changed, clearly, are both the tone and substance of her objections to Bush radicalism and lawbreaking {my em}).

Dawn Johnsen is probably someone who is actually too good for Washington, or at least too good to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. It's still possible that her confirmation can be engineered -- Christy lists some phone numbers that might be worth calling -- but, at this point, at least, it looks doubtful. Examining Johnsen's apparent inability to get confirmed, and contrasting it with those who are hailed as the Serious centrists in Washington, reveals all anyone really needs to know about our political establishment.

Get the money, get re-elected, and don't derail the gravy train. The people and the country don't mean nothin'.

See also: this post from earlier today on how the term "Hard Left" is exploited by dishonest pundits in the torture debate, and this one on the mysterious collapse of the Right.

Go read those too. Mr. Greenwald hits both of 'em dead nuts.

UPDATE: I have one question for the great fighter-leader, Harry Reid: during Reid's tenure as Majority Leader, Michael Mukasey was confirmed as Bush's Attorney General with a grand total of 53 Senate votes. How come Dawn Johnsen "needs 60 votes" or else she'll be rejected?

Because he's a pussy, Glenn.


Tell me lies and the torture will stop...


The important thing to take away from Keith's report is that Cheney wanted interrogators to torture a legitimate Iraqi Prisoner Of War, not an al Qaeda terrorist, into giving a false confession to get the false Saddam/al Qaeda connection he needed.

Dear Chrysler,

It'd have been nice, during this tumultuous time for the auto industry, if you'd have thought about your parts supply chain before embarking on this 'reorganization'. I have 3 Jeeps in various states of repair because I can't get parts from you and they aren't available in the aftermarket. Get yer shit together, I'm running out of room.



Cross-posted at F&G.

It ain't the Abu Ghraib pix ...

That'll "inflame anti-American sentiment":


We're currently occupying two Muslim countries. We're killing civilians regularly (as usual) -- with airplanes and unmanned sky robots. We're imprisoning tens of thousands of Muslims with no trial, for years. Our government continues to insist that it has the power to abduct people -- virtually all Muslim -- ship them to Bagram, put them in cages, and keep them there indefinitely with no charges of any kind. We're denying our torture victims any ability to obtain justice for what was done to them by insisting that the way we tortured them is a "state secret" and that we need to "look to the future." We provide Israel with the arms and money used to do things like devastate Gaza. Independent of whether any or all of these policies are justifiable, the extent to which those actions "inflame anti-American sentiment" is impossible to overstate. [em in orig]


I'm trying to figure out what the fuck is going on in the White House and who's in charge there. Or is it that one succumbs to assholus contagiosa once they move in? What, does Barry now feel a dictatorship is good "so long as [he's] the dictator"? It seems, when it comes to war crimes and 'detainees', he thinks it's just fine to use the playbook left behind by the previous administration.

You know times are hard ...

If you're thinking about applying for this job.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Joke of the Day

I got this from my old school pal Steve, a retired Master Chief who still knows how to get a dig in:

[Four retired Chiefs are walking down a street in Norfolk, Virginia. They turn a corner and see a sign that says, 'Old Timers Bar - all drinks 10 cents.' They look at each other, and then go in, thinking this Is too good to be true.

The bartender says in a voice that carries across the room, 'Come on in and let me pour one for you! What'll it be, Gentlemen?' There seemed to be a fully-stocked bar, so each of the men asks for a martini. In short order, the bartender serves up four iced martinis...shaken, not stirred, and says, 'That'll be 10 cents each, please.' The four men stare at the bartender for a moment. Then look at each other...They can't believe their good luck. They pay the 40 cents, finish their martinis, and order another round.

Again, four excellent martinis are produced with the bartender again saying, 'That's 40 cents, please.' They pay the 40 cents, but their curiosity is more than they can stand. They have each had two martinis and so far they've spent less than a dollar. Finally one of the men says, 'How can you afford to serve martinis as good as these for a dime a piece?' 'I'm a retired tailor from Boston,' the bartender said, 'and I always wanted to own a bar. Last year I hit the Lottery for $25 million and decided to open this place. Every drink costs a dime - wine, liquor, beer, it's all the same.'

The four of them sipped at their martinis and couldn't help but notice seven other people at the end of the bar who didn't have drinks in front of them, and hadn't ordered anything the whole time they were there. One man gestures at the seven at the end of the bar without drinks and asks the bartender, 'What's with them?' The bartender says, 'Oh, they're all old retired Marine Gunny Sergeants. They're waiting for happy hour when drinks are half price.']

And yer point is...?

I got yer 'personal mobility'...

When you retire and go on Social Security, you get all kinds of interesting offers. Mrs. G got one yesterday. Her reply*:

Dear The Scooter Store,

Thanks, but this 'personal mobility device' is all I need for now:

You'll need yer goddam little electric cripmobile before I will.

I suggest you call the Social Security person who sold you my name and ask for your money back, suckers.

Mrs. G

*She mighta had a little help...

White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs'

From the Murdoch Street Journal

Kerlikowske Says Analogy Is Counterproductive; Shift Aligns With Administration Preference for Treatment Over Incarceration

"That the War on Drugs has been a complete failure is not even a question anymore."

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."

Well, up to now they certainly have been, particularly as a way of continuing the oppression of minorities since slavery and Jim Crow laws have gone the way of the buffalo.

Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports legalization of medical marijuana, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about Mr. Kerlikowske. "The analogy we have is this is like turning around an ocean liner," he said. "What's important is the damn thing is beginning to turn."

James Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest law-enforcement labor organization, said that while he holds Mr. Kerlikowske in high regard, police officers are wary.

"While I don't necessarily disagree with Gil's focus on treatment and demand reduction, I don't want to see it at the expense of law enforcement. People need to understand that when they violate the law there are consequences."

Change the fucking law, you idiot.

If this is a subject that interests you, it's not a bad article considering the source.

"Give Me a Water Board, Dick Cheney and One Hour..."

Thanks to heathr456.


More at Kos.

Socialism ...

As with everything they do, the Rethugs and their "base" (Big Insurance, Big Pharma) are trying to scare you out of demanding serious healthcare reform. Avedon (who lives with the British system) lends a little reality:

Depending on what poll you read, anywhere from 60% to 80% of Americans like the sound of single-payer, and the same is even truer of physicians. But every effort is being made to keep single-payer off the table. This is because, we are told, Americans want to keep paying insurance company bureaucrats to try to prevent them from getting healthcare rather than cutting out the middle-man and the profit motive (and get their health insurance from a less avaricious and cold-hearted source). And because some people actually believe the stories they hear about how bad all that "socialized medicine" in the rest of the world is. I'll tell you for free that there is nothing superior about commercial medicine in America to the genuinely socialized (not just single-payer) system in the United Kingdom. Yes, some UK hospitals aren't as good as they should be, and yes, some UK doctors are jerks, and yes, you might not get elective surgery scheduled within a week of asking for it, but that's even more true in America. Under the NHS, though, you don't have to spend weeks or months on the phone with the insurance company trying to convince them that they should deliver on getting you healthcare you actually need and have been paying for - and you don't have to worry about what it will cost. There is no arguing between your doctor and bean-counters, and there's no co-pay, either. You will get the treatment your doctor recommends in reasonable time. But, as with so many things, we've got the memes running in the other direction until we don't even know how many Americans are in agreement with us.

Pigsty ...

Just as we've shitted up our planet, we've also turned the space around it into a junkyard. How long before we can't launch anything for fear of hitting a piece of crap in orbit? I wonder if anyone ever thought about cleaning up after ourselves over the past 50 years?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This is why ...

My ass puckers every time the Mrs. flies in and out of little podunk airports (too often for my liking, thank you) on business:

The lack of experience, fatigue and low pay of the Buffalo-bound prop jet pilots involved in the worst U.S. plane crash in seven years created a "recipe for an accident," the government said Wednesday.


Transcripts of the flight's final moments reveal that Renslow, 47, and Shaw, 24, were chatting about their careers and her lack of experience operating a plane in icy conditions, according to the cockpit voice recorder.


Federal investigators hammered Colgan Air executives about the pay of their pilots — in [Copilot] Shaw's case, she made between $16,000 and $20,000 a year, according to testimony — as well as whether they were discouraged from getting second jobs and felt pressure by the company not to call in sick.


With those two in the cockpit, that flight was doomed as soon as the first ice crystals formed on the leading edges of the wings. How can these little shitbag commuter airlines expect to recruit quality people when they'd make a better living flipping burgers? The pilot should have never been in command of an aircraft and the copilot would probably have held nothing more than 'flight trainee' status in the Air Force. And I'm putting my wife in these peoples' hands? Time for the FAA to start squeezing some testicles.

Great thanks to Da Fez for the link.


We all Socialists now!

Blogger was dicked this morning. Back after I get the Mrs. from the train.

Repugs Set To Block Dawn Johnsen’s Nomination

No shit. She wants to investigate the crap out of them. Big job. Lotta crap.

Think Progress, with links, comments, and updates.

Roll Call reports that conservatives look poised to successfully block the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the White House Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declared that his hands were tied without the assistance of a few Republican votes:

“Right now we’re finding out when to do that,” Reid said, responding to a question about the status of Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to the Justice post. “We need a couple Republican votes until we can get to 60.

It’s unclear why 60 votes are needed to confirm Johnsen, considering her predecessor, Jay Bybee — who went on to authorize illegal torture — won easy confirmation in 2001 through a simple voice vote. Bybee’s successor, Jack Goldsmith, was also approved by a voice vote. Steven Bradbury served for three years as an acting OLC head, and so did not have to come up for a vote. Having a full — and filibuster-proof — Senate vote on Johnsen would be an unusual break with recent precedent.

Senators opposing Johnsen include new Democrat Arlen Specter...

It's very clear why 60 votes are needed to confirm Johnsen: Reid's a pussy.

Johnsen is eminently qualified to head the OLC. She has been an outspoken critic of Bush’s torture and eavesdropping programs, argues persuasively for accountability for wrongdoing, and has written passionately in support of checks and balances and against executive branch power grabs. She is a strong progressive candidate who could restore the tainted OLC to a place of legal professionalism and pride. And, like the majority of Americans, Johnsen thinks abortions should be safe and legal in most cases.

To Repugs, that's the resumé from hell.

Undersupplied US soldiers forced to steal water in Iraq

Raw Story, with video.

You thought the lack of armor-plated Humvees was bad.

US soldiers are now being forced to steal water in Iraq. With supplies tight, and the number of trucks carrying potable water even tighter, troops have resorted to stealing water from civilian contractors. Many have also reportedly suffered from dysentery because they were forced to drink untreated water from Iraqi wells.

The shocking news aired Wednesday on Houston-based CBS affiliate KHOU. (G's note - go read.)

It gets worse. Soldiers say the situation has become so dire they were forced to raid the United States’ own airbase in Baghdad for bottled water. They found the water stored in pallets held by civilian contractors, who were supposed to be distributing it.

Soldiers averred that they’d been given two to three liters of water per day by their commanders. But according to the Army’s own field manual, the human body can lose as much as four gallons of water daily in the desert.

Two to three liters isn’t enough, Robey said. “You’ll see guys throw up, you’ll see them pass out.”

Who’s supposed to be maintaining the water supply? At least in some parts of Iraq, it’s the US engineering contractor KBR. KBR is a spinoff of Halliburton, which it separated from in 2007.

KBR again. Plenty of 180 volt water for the troops to shower in and be electrocuted by, but not enough water for them to drink. We keep paying them plenty for their malfeasance. Bastards.

Not only should everybody at KBR be in jail, in Iraq if there's any justice in this world, but so should everybody at the Pentagon who keeps giving them contracts.

Postcard From Pipelineistan

Lest we forget what is really going on in the world amid the 24/7 distractions of Miss California's wind-blown nipples, The Dick's self-noosement, and the thoroughly enjoyable Repug circular firing squad, here's a postcard, first of a proposed series, from Pepe Escobar. Tomgram alert - take a lunch.

Knowing his proclivity for following energy flows the way normal tourists might follow the sun, I asked him if he might offer TomDispatch readers periodic "postcards" from the energy heartlands of the planet and what he calls the Tower of Babel of "nations, mercenary peoples, terrorists, dictatorships, tribes, nomad mafias, and religious outfits" that are in conflict upon them. This is the first of his postcards. More will follow. Tom

What happens on the immense battlefield for the control of Eurasia will provide the ultimate plot line in the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order, also known as the New Great Game.

Our good ol' friend the nonsensical "Global War on Terror," which the Pentagon has slyly rebranded "the Long War," sports a far more important, if half-hidden, twin -- a global energy war. I like to think of it as the Liquid War, because its bloodstream is the pipelines that crisscross the potential imperial battlefields of the planet. Put another way, if its crucial embattled frontier these days is the Caspian Basin, the whole of Eurasia is its chessboard. Think of it, geographically, as Pipelineistan.

Forget the mainstream media's obsession with al-Qaeda, Osama "dead or alive" bin Laden, the Taliban -- neo, light or classic -- or that "war on terror," whatever name it goes by. These are diversions compared to the high-stakes, hardcore geopolitical game that follows what flows along the pipelines of the planet.

Who said Pipelineistan couldn't be fun?

Yeah, sounds like a dream vacation to me. The quotes are from the introduction, the article follows. Go.

It's still all about oil.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Only in America ...

Or some Third World, tin-horn dictatorship toilet. Dday:

I almost have to get out of my seat and clap at the absurdity of this news: Torture lawyer John Yoo has been given a monthly column at the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Why Rush Limbaugh Ought to Be Force-Fed His Own Liposuctioned Fat (Cheney Reacharound Edition)

Guess Who. First and last paragraphs:

When former Vice President Dick Cheney paused in his sodomizing of Bob Shieffer's Face the Nation to give Rush Limbaugh a little reacharound hand job action (while shitting on Colin Powell's head - it's really quite a complicated move), you knew that Limbaugh would be as grateful as he is when the local Chinese buffet brings out a new tray of sweet and sour pork in the middle of his dining experience. His hand stretched around Limbaugh's girth like an elastic band on a sack of jello, Cheney needed only his thumb and forefinger to clutch the radio host's burnt wick of a cock and yank it as Shieffer spit out pubes to ask Cheney, between Limbaugh and Powell, "Where do you come down?"

And, yeah, Dick Cheney was motivated by love for "his" country. The problem is that Dick Cheney's United States is not the United States of the rest of us. In fact, it's not really the United States at all. His nation compromises every principle to reach an indeterminate end. Our nation believes those principles are what make us a nation in the first place.

The last sentence is the crux of the biscuit.

Please enjoy the rest.

Swiftboating Health Care

Rachel explains this better than I can imagine doing in any other way. Her guest is Howard Dean.

Would a torture investigation be Dick Cheney's final revenge?

P.M. Carpenter, obviously a regular reader of the Brain, follows up on Fixer's post just below.

Naturally, the GOP's bogeywoman of Nancy Pelosi seems ideal: "Republicans say new revelations about a CIA briefing Pelosi received in 2002 have given them their best shot yet at blocking a sprawling probe into Bush administration interrogation techniques."

That strategy, however, could very well backfire -- and the more strenuously the GOP pushes it, the more certain it becomes to accomplish just that: to blow up in their face.

In short, to protect her reputation Pelosi may move from strongly encouraging a "sprawling probe" to downright insisting on one. Sure, she'll say, I'd be happy to testify; but in that event let's haul everybody in, under oath, and a good 99 percent of those "everybodies" will be -- you got it -- Republicans.

Here's the kicker:

And as an investigative committee works its way up, it ultimately, as Dick Cheney so selflessly conceded on "Face the Nation," will land on the singular desk of George W. Bush, who "basically authorized" the stunningly illegal torture program (my em). George may have again sought the solace of drink upon hearing that one.

Furthermore, Mr. Cheney said he may even be willing to testify to that -- in fact all of it -- under oath. To which one can only speculate that hell hath no fury like a Scooter-loving vice president scorned.

It's a nice thought, but I think Cheney knows damn well he broke the law with the very thinnest of cover, which was all he could come up with and knows will not stand close scrutiny in a court of law, and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from an undisclosed location in front of an investigating body where we will all learn the Fifth Amendment word for word direct from his reptilian lips.

Cheney has a whole phalanx of desperate defenders, including his daughter and some right wing gasbags and pols, trying to muddle the issue. It is documentary evidence and the testimony of witnesses whom The Dick is busy pissing off right now, and perhaps his own words, that will ultimately convict him.

Bush? He deserves to go to jail because he bears responsibility as the president, but he didn't come up with the torture program. He's not that good(?) a thinker. He signed anything Cheney put in front of him. It's going to bite him on the ass big time.

Bush was a weakling and a witting pawn of evildoers he was incapable of understanding, much less foil in their attempts. That will be his legacy for all time. He's still young enough that he will get to enjoy that knowledge for years to come.

But ...

Contrary to Rethug screeching points, it seems Nancy Pelosi (and the rest of the Dem leadership) were not briefed on Bush "interrogation techniques":

Former Senator Bob Graham, who received a classified briefing on terror detainees during the same month in the fall of 2002 as Nancy Pelosi, was not briefed about the use of either waterboarding or enhanced interrogation techniques during the meeting, he claimed in an interview with me.

Graham’s assertion — his first public comments since the release of the intelligence document detailing torture briefings given to members of Congress — directly contradicts the document’s claim that he had been briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs. Graham is now the second Dem official to deny on the record the document’s contents and raises questions about its claim that Pelosi had been told, which she has denied.


It's time for a full, open investigation into Bush war crimes and let the chips fall where they may, regardless of who gets splattered with the shit. If they were involved (Dem or Rethug) they should be facing a federal judge or sitting in the dock at The Hague, period.

Thanks to Mr. Aravosis for the link.

Monday, May 11, 2009

We knew it would happen ...

Having been on that edge (though at the time, the only person I wanted to kill was myself), it sickens me to hear this:

BAGHDAD – An American soldier opened fire at a counseling center on a military base Monday, killing five fellow soldiers before being taken into custody, the U.S. command and Pentagon officials said.

Although it was unclear what prompted the shooting, the incident draws attention to the issue of combat stress and morale after six years of war as the mission of the 130,000-strong force transforms to one of training and mentoring the Iraqis.


After repeated deployments and iffy mental health care (a lot of our guys are on anti-depressants to get them through), these incidents will become more frequent, either by GIs in-theater or when they get back stateside. A couple months ago, our pal and regular commenter WKMaier informed us of an example that hit close to home:

... Fixer, just heard from a friend in the midwest, her granddaughter's husband just got back from Iraq, started drinking, and killed himself last night. He leaves behind a wife, baby boy, and extended family ...

It is a shame these boys and girls, who are willing to give their lives for us, are being used until they lose their grip. I spent 5 years of my life in a Jack Daniels' bottle with a coke spoon up my nose, and I didn't see anywhere near the action these folks have. We'd better buck up and get our guys the help they need before we have a large scale problem on our hands.


Our friend Lisa of RangerAgainstWar brings up a point in 'comments' I should have touched on:

Many soldiers are loathe to admit the need for psychiatric treatment, added to a system which looks askance at any possible PTSD case. It is a bad combination.

There should be a proactive effort on the part of the military to identify soldiers at risk of breaking and get them help instead of said soldier knowing when to seek treatment. Even when some do understand how close to the edge they are, there are plenty of reasons not to seek help (I'm not leaving my mates behind on the battlefield - I don't want to be labeled as 'crazy' - I can handle it until I get home and everything will be all right).

As I stated above, we're using these people up; their bodies, minds, and souls, and we owe it to them to make sure they're taken care of. It's already set in stone (mostly) that we're leaving Iraq by 2011 but we have to start helping these folks today, not when the war's over. We cannot wait until one of them has a pistol at his temple (or someone else's) because by then it'll far too late.

Olive branch?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad might be responding to Obama's words of respect toward Islam. Agence France Presse:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday she was "heartened" by the release of US-born reporter Roxana Saberi from a jail in Iran, but again attacked her conviction for spying.

"Obviously we continue to take issue with the charges against her and the verdict rendered, but we are very heartened that she has been released and wish her and her family all the very best," Clinton told reporters.

She said Saberi's release had been confirmed to the US government by the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which handles US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic ties between the two nations. [my em]


While the buzz on the networks is it is a bid by Iran to decouple negotiations over Saberi's incarceration (and possible execution) from the nuclear talks, this, I believe, is a message to the American people, just as Obama's Nowruz message was meant to tell the Persian people that we are turning over a new leaf from the Bush administration. This says that Iran is not the heartless, hard-line Islamic state that most Americans think they are.

While Iran has far to go in terms of human rights, especially in their treatment of gays (after Bush, we're no shining examples of morality either), this is a response, albeit small. It is an invitation to continue dialogue, and, as someone famous once said, "if they're talking, they're not shooting". We have a lot to learn from them (their culture is thousands of years older than ours) and they from us (our American ideals, when we decide to practice them) and any attempt to diffuse the tension in that part of the world is a good thing. It's not a breakthrough, merely a small step in a long negotiation. It's what diplomacy is all about.

Why Now, Dick?

El Rude-o

Now that it has realized that it can absorb sunlight without ulcerating too quickly, the acidic pollutant-made-flesh known as former Vice President Dick Cheney believes it can appear at will to forcibly spit forth fungal spores into the media atmosphere, parasitically attaching to those who it once spurned, feeding off them to hopefully infect them to make them rot. For, indeed, Dick Cheney is nothing if not an entity that wishes things to collapse from within, like a gutted corpse.

"What is Cheney's game?" the political prognosticators ponder. Why has he appeared now, so very often, to declaim the rightness of his administration's approach to interrogation and war? More than likely, it's just the ruminations of a bitter little man with nothing better to do with his time. But, still, the Rude Pundit's got a couple of other ideas:

Go see.

But mostly, Cheney's interview on CBS's Face the Nation with Vampire Bob was just a clusterfuck of self-aggrandizing and masturbatory impulses, with the former VP yanking it until he exploded cold spooge over Vampire Bob's nation-sized face. For, and here's the deal, if waterboarding did absolutely prevent that Dubuque nuke, then who the fuck cares if it was torture or not? Give someone a fuckin' medal.

Except it didn't. That's why he's scrambling so hard. All Cheney was peddling was the pathetic idea that the United States became so degraded under the watch of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that it was just one pour of the bottle, one detainee slapping away from apocalypse. If the purpose of Cheney's interview schedule is to prop up his legacy, then all he's succeeding in doing is making us see how far down they dragged us.

I have nothing to add to that.

Mexico's Drug Museum

A new cruise ship destination perhaps?

Video and article at the LATimes

Reporting from Mexico City -- Army Capt. Claudio Montane wants one thing clear from the start: This place is not not a narco-museum. The point is not to glorify drug traffickers.

"Its purpose is to show Mexico and the world the efforts and the good results that we have achieved," Montane said, opening a tour of a military collection officially called the Museum of Drugs.

But spend a couple of hours examining the exhibits with Montane, in his crisp dress uniform and spit-shined shoes, and you wonder if a better name would be the Museum of Mexico's Long and Unwon War Against Drug Traffickers Who Keep Finding Clever New Ways to Feed the U.S. Habit.

The museum tells the story of a cat-and-mouse battle, with prehistoric roots. Mexico's peoples used peyote and hallucinogenic mushrooms for rituals. Later, Spanish sailors showed up with marijuana seeds and Chinese traders brought poppy to Mexico's Pacific region.

Subsequent exhibits depict the global campaign to stop illegal substances. In one telling map, arrows showing the routes of various illicit drugs converge on the United States.

Well, duh. Of course they do. We're the ones with the habit and the money.

Certain to impress is a gold-plated Colt .38 Super, studded with tiny red and green stones and engraved on the pistol grip with the date of Mexico's independence: Sept. 16, 1810. (Who says bloodthirsty gangsters can't be patriots?)

Another .38-caliber pistol, seized last year when authorities captured suspected drug lord Alfredo Beltran Leyva, is adorned with emeralds, an engraving of revolutionary leader Francisco "Pancho" Villa and a proverb: "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees." (Who says bloodthirsty gangsters can't be cliched?)

It's fine with me if these gangsters die on their feet. Or on their faces with their hands tied behind them.

The Mexican drug war is not a nice thing, but it's there. There oughta be a better, more peaceful way for the U.S. to deal with drugs, but at present there's not. As long as there are loads of untaxed cash money to be made, criminals will fill the demand and compete for exclusivity in satisfying the demand for illegal products.

Not to mention the loads of taxpayer money for American law enforcement and the ever-expanding prison industry. No matter which side of drugs you're on, there's money to be made on the backs of users.

The crux of the biscuit.

Obama's First 110 Days

Will Durst

Neither is Barack getting what you would call your major assistance from either side of the aisle. "We want to work with the President." Mmm- hmm. The same way a starving coyote wants to work with a nest of baby ducks. One discouraging word circulating the Beltway accuses the Chief Executive of being arrogant, but you know what, at least he's smart. Because we tried arrogant and stupid and that didn't work.

Not to mention the economy being more fragile than a spun glass step- ladder, so pretty much everyone not named Rush Limbaugh is rooting for him to succeed. But with pirates and pandemics and Pakistan all set on High Menace, the job ahead looks tougher than untying a centipede's shoe laces while wearing oven mitts.

Much more.

The Dick Show

Hmmmmm. Maybe we're lookin' at The Dick all wrong by wanting him to STFU. Maybe F** Noise should offer him a show. Let him dig himself in even deeper.

It'd be pants-around-the-ankles stuff to see him get perp-walked outta the studio while he's on the air!


8 years of Binge
40 years of Putge


Details of Spain’s Indictment of Yoo, Bybee, et al.

From Zongo at Oxdown Gazette:

While I have not yet been able to locate a copy of the indictment itself, an article published today on the website of "El Mundo", a Madrid newspaper, does detail some of the allegations made in the indictment/complaint. The main part of the article was discussing the judge's request of the United States to state whether or not there was an existing investigation or prosecution of the relevant matters. The article goes on to provide some of the specifics contained in the indictment. With the caveat that I don't speak "Spain" Spanish, and also that translation is tricky even when it's not legalese being translated, here is a translation of the second half of the article.

My Spanish has never been anywhere near Spain either, but he puts each paragraph in Spanish with his translation underneath. It'll do.


La querella afirma que los denunciados "participaron activa y decisivamente en la elaboración, aprobación y puesta en funcionamiento de un cuerpo de derecho positivo o andamiaje jurídicos" que permitió privar de derechos a los prisioneros, poner en práctica técnicas de interrogatorio que incluían la tortura y dar cobertura legal a esa situación.

The Complaint alleges that the accused “actively and decisively participated in the development, approval, and enactment of a body of legal authority and support” that stripped prisoners of their rights, put into practice interrogation techniques that included torture, and gave legal cover to the situation.

Much more, but what we really need are indictments in plain ol' American English.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Karzai Picks Warlord Accused of Human Rights Abuses as Vice Presidential Running Mate
Calls him “my Cheney.”

Nation's Capital Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
Now secretly gay senators and congressmen who publicly oppose same-sex marriage can tie knot.

Republicans Begin Huge “Rebranding” Effort
Could cost billions, take years, necessitate military coup.

Tennessee: Bill Passes Allowing Loaded Guns in Bars
However, amendment requires armed drunks assign a designated shooter.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Heh ...

Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night:

Hannity and Lintball's heads are gonna explode.


Jill has Obama's routine.

Sunday Flatpickin' White Boy Blues Music Blogging

I owe ya something good before ya get ta the next two videos. Heh.

From the DVD "Legends of Flatpicking Guitar".

Norman Blake ~ Nashville Blues

Thanks to KoRt7, Germany.

Hillbilly douchebag

That's what TMZ called this asshole, and for once they're right. This is supposed to be on Sunset Boulevard, and given the lack of traffic, I am guessing the hour is late and that alcohol may be involved. It's no excuse. I further guess Mr. Chivalrous din't get none on this night...

Thanks to 1st5ive.

Diez de Mayo

It dawned on me that I let Cinco de Mayo completely slide by without a remembrance. To try and belatedly make up for my lapse, I offer a plaintive song of love and loss...

Deanace777 ~ There's No Tortillas