Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daniel Larison on target

Larison is one of the best of the new conservative voices. Pointing out the imperviousness of the GOP party regulars and movement conservatives to their plight he notes they refuse to listen.

Nowadays, if they acknowledge mistakes at all, mainstream conservatives are keen to pin responsibility on anyone but themselves while tarring anyone who points out the obvious errors of the last decade as treacherous or some crypto-liberal eager to score points with the media.

Jim Manzi redeemed!

Mr. Manzi redeems himself with a powerful argument against Waterboarding.

Long, but very well worth the read:

GOP = Whigs

Not as crazy as it seems. This Death Spiral of the GOP is far more serious than the problems the Dems had with their crazy Left. If the Repuboicans don't shake out of it somehow then there may be an opening for a real Center-Right party to emerge.

Point made at
This leads to an opportunity for a new Party to emerge. What that will look like is very unclear right now, but we should not kid ourselves as Democrats that our electoral victories are all due to the public wanting to do things our way. When your choices are a Party you disagree with most of the time and the bat-shit insane, well that is not really much of a choice, is it?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cheney's legacy

Andrew Sulivan's devastating summary:

It is very rare to get someone with the same stratospheric levels of arrogance and incompetence as you find in Dick Cheney. Let's go to the tape: A war launched on false premises, a trillion dollar debt in a period of growth, a destruction of America's moral standing, the loss of one major city (New Orleans) and the devastation of another (New York City), two horribly bungled military campaigns that have trapped his successors for decades, a political party decimated for a generation, his closest aide in jail for obstruction of justice, his own daughter and grand-child targeted by his own party as second-class citizens in the state they live in. And a war criminal. Did I miss anything?

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's not torture if we do it.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, this seems to be the U.S. stance:

Does anyone believe that if Iran, say, captured an American soldier, kept him awake for eleven days straight, bashed his head and body against plywood walls with a towel around his neck, forced him to stand and sit in stress positions finessed by the Communist Chinese, stuck him in a dark coffin for hours, and then waterboarded him, that the NYT would describe him as a victim of "harsh interrogation techniques"? Do you think Mike Allen would give anonymity to a top Iranian official who defended these techniques as vital to Iran's national security?
The last seven years have revealed that almost the entire American establishment views itself as immune to the moral and ethical rules it applies to every other country in the world. Now we know, at least. And you can be sure they will protecting each other to the bitter end.

Thinking alike

Digby thinking along the same lines:
However, I have to wonder if by releasing the memos they aren't at least obliquely asking for the public to "make" them do it. They could have kept them secret, after all. If there were significant public pressure as well as pressure from congress, they would have enough cover to launch an investigation with the assurance they aren't going to go the Bad Apple route.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama's game

First off, the release of the torture memos is laudable and very, very important. And I think that Holder's assurances that CIA operatives not be prosecuted for war crimes they may have performed undeer guidance from the DOJ memos may be defensible for now. That's because the real targets for prosecution should first, and foremost, be the policymakers who ordered the torture. I don't want to see any more Lyndie England affairs, where some grunt takes the fall for official misconduct.

That said, Greenwald is critical of Obama's call for the following good reasons.:

The more one reads of this, the harder it is to credit Obama's statement today that "this is a time for reflection, not retribution." At least when it comes to the orders of our highest government leaders and the DOJ lawyers who authorized them, these are pure war crimes, justified in the most disgustingly clinical language and with clear intent of wrongdoing. FDL has a petition urging Eric Holder to immediately appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine if criminal proceedings should commence. Obama did the right thing by releasing these memos, providing all the information and impetus the citizenry should need to demand investigations and prosecutions. But it is up to citizens to demand that the rule of law be applied.

Here's what I think may be going on. I think Obama is in a very delicate situation here. The very last thing he wants is for this to be perceived as a partisan affair, mere retribution against the losing party using the legal system. Given the extremely toxic partisan atmosphere of modern US politics there will inevitably be some who will make this charge, but it is vital that it not stick. Obama seems to have the rare ability to look at the long-term and I think he's very, very reluctant to set any precedents down that road.

Therefore it's very important that he be seen as being forced to take action. He can't take the lead. That's why criticism from Greenwald and others is useful because it helps build that pressure.

If Obama had any interest in actually blocking the eventual prosecution of somebody for war crimes this would have been a good place to draw his line by redacting the hell out of the memos, as certain powerful elements apparently wanted. Instead nearly every damning word has been released.

Remember there is no statute of limitations for these crimes. I fully expect that prosecutions will come. Indeed, as more and more evidence comes out it the pressure will become irresistible. Remember that there are, apparently, videos and photos of much, much worse things that were done. "Murder and rape" were the words Sen. Lindsey Graham used.

By all means keep complaining. I doubt that Obama actually minds.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


From Robert Reich's blog:

An acquaintance from law school, now a partner in one of Washington's biggest and wealthiest law firms, explained to me one day over lunch how he and his partners use tax rules to create offsetting taxable gains and losses, and then allocate the gains to the firm's foreign partners who don't pay taxes in the United States. That way, they keep the losses here and shelter their income abroad. I noticed he had an American flag lapel pin. "You're supporting our troops," I said, referring to his pin. "Yup," he replied, entirely missing my point.True patriotism isn't cheap. It's about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

They are so stupid it hurts

As Greenwald points out as the Right Wing suddenly rediscovers the dangers of unbridled governmental power: All of the enabling legislation underlying this Surveillance State -- from the Patriot Act to the Military Commissions Act, from the various FISA "reforms" to massive increases in domestic "counter-Terrorism" programs -- are the spawns of the very right-wing movement that today is petrified that this is all being directed at them.

They are really so incredibly stupid that it hurts to even think of it. For years I have wondered why they thought this was a good idea. Did they ever stop to consider if they wanted Hillary to have this kind of power, for example? They're just lucky it's Obama.

Pirates misjudge

Evidently the reinforcing pirates turned back when it dawned on them what a monumentally bad idea it was to go near the Navy.

And Navy SEALS did what they do so well and we had a good outcome. Bravo to them and due credit to Obama. He made the policy call and then let the experts do the deed. This is a formula for success.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pirates summon reinforcements?

Curious development in the pirate standoff. Reportedly other prirates are heading to the scene to "show solidarity" and otherwise complicate things.

It's hard to see how this would work out well for the pirates. Exposing themselves in the opne to a naval flotilla seems like giving up their biggest strength, which is stealth.

Bears watching.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rush lets caller call him a "brainwashed Nazi"

Frankly, I'm surprised Rush Limbaugh lets this guy go for so long.

The caller really lets him have it for Rush's support for torture, which really seems to be the caller's biggest beef about the Republicans.

There's a lot about the Bush GOP's regime that I didn't like, but a lot of it I could have forgiven (it's not like the Democrats are any better on a lot of things) but the torture issue is the one I know I can't get over. The Republican Party will not be worthy fo support until the day it purges itself of the torture supporters.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Forever at risk

Meanwhile, (Phillip) Sands reiterated a warning that he made in his book. “If I were they,” he said, referring to the former officials in question, “I would think carefully before setting foot outside the United States. They are now, and forever in the future, at risk of arrest. Until this is sorted out, they are in their own legal black hole.”

The article:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Make them less willing to help us commit war crimes

Kevin Drum makes the excellent point that embarrassment is the reason why the torture memos ought to be released.

Brennan's argument is that release of the memos might embarrass allies who helped us torture prisoners. He might even be right. But if that makes foreign intelligence services more cautious about helping us commit war crimes in the future, that would be a argument in favor of releasing the memos, not against it.

Slate - Encyclopedia Baracktannica