Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's not optional

When I see articles like this I feel like banging my head against the wall in sheer despair. I like Garrison Keillor, but jeesh - just the TITLE makes me want to scream: "Let war crimes be bygones"???? Gaaahhhh!!

What in God's name have we come to? Keillor appears to be saying that, Yeah, war crimes were committed and isn't that just terrible but we've got better things to do (trains and such) than to "round up a few symbolic suspects and throw the book at them and let all the others go free. Which is what would happen if we launch a criminal prosecution."

Yikes. Not a very rousing endorsement of our justice system, is it. I consider myself at least moderately cynical, but statements like this really jar me. We are talking about torture and war crimes, for crying out loud, not lying about adultery. And, indeed, the perps themselves are just as cynical as Keillor and are putting on the full court press - with Cheney in the lead - bragging about having made the "tough decisions" to torture people. Their confessions are a matter of public record. Well, hell, maybe Keillor is right that prosecutions would fail, but what does it say about us if we aren't even willing to try?

In the first place, it's not an option. It is against federal and international law for us to treat war crimes as "bygones" no matter how distasteful the whole sorry mess is.

And in the second place, is this what we want to tell the victims of these crimes and their families? That we've just got more important things to take care of than to pursue legal action against those responsible for torturing them? Oh yeah, there's the moral high ground.

This is not about "retribution" or "vengeance". Those charges are rightwing BS being thrown out to avoid being held accountable for their actions. It's blackmail, basically. (Think Nathan Jessep: "You wanna investigate me? Roll the dice! But don't think you can come down here, flash a badge and make me nervous.") They are threatening to pull out all stops if the Obama DOJ dares to attempt prosecution - and of course we know these are not empty threats, we all know what they are capable of. But the bottom line is that we have to. This is about having respect for our laws and ourselves.

See also Christy Hardin Smith.

UPDATE: Not just mandatory, but necessary.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mainstream Voices, Some

It's not just the DFH anymore; Paul Krugman:
Some of them probably just don’t want an ugly scene; my guess is that the president, who clearly prefers visions of uplift to confrontation, is in that group. But the ugliness is already there, and pretending it isn’t won’t make it go away.

Others, I suspect, would rather not revisit those years because they don’t want to be reminded of their own sins of omission.

For the fact is that officials in the Bush administration instituted torture as a policy, misled the nation into a war they wanted to fight and, probably, tortured people in the attempt to extract “confessions” that would justify that war. And during the march to war, most of the political and media establishment looked the other way.

It’s hard, then, not to be cynical when some of the people who should have spoken out against what was happening, but didn’t, now declare that we should forget the whole era — for the sake of the country, of course.

Sorry, but what we really should do for the sake of the country is have investigations both of torture and of the march to war. These investigations should, where appropriate, be followed by prosecutions — not out of vindictiveness, but because this is a nation of laws.

We need to do this for the sake of our future. For this isn’t about looking backward, it’s about looking forward — because it’s about reclaiming America’s soul.

"The Truth About Consequences"

A wonderful post from Sara at Ornicus. It's long but worth it.

Yes, it matters.

Andrew Sullivan:
Trying to find a consistently principled position among these people is hard. Why? Because their arguments, like those of Yoo, Bradbury and Bybee, are entirely designed to legitimize decisions already made.

As time goes by and we learn more and more, the clearer it is that the decisions to deploy torture and invade Iraq were effectively made by one man very shortly after 9/11. Everything else was cover for this act of will. Reality and morality be damned: this was about creating reality and enforcing Cheney's will - against all legal and moral precedent, against the facts on the ground, against the professional opinion of government institutions and experts, against the allies, against the Congress, against the State Department, and against anyone who dissented, from CIA officers to low-ranking grunts.

It was despotism cloaked by a faux constitutionalism and legalism.

It was an attack on this country's constitution. And that matters.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I think we can handle the truth.

I meant to post about this yesterday but got busy. A Few Good Men may be the only film with Demi Moore in it that I really like. It's not a great film, by any means, but it's one of those that I can watch repeatedly and always enjoy, probably because I feel like I personally know all the characters in it. My father was a JAG officer in the Air Force and I knew my share of Jesseps, Markinsons and Kendricks but also plenty of Jack Rosses, JoAnne Galloways and Daniel Kaffees, not to mention countless Downeys, Dawsons and Barneses.

I had a chuckle to myself not too long ago when I was wandering in the swamp that is TexasFred's blog and I noticed that he had a picture up with one of his many lunatic ravings that was a close-up of Jack Nicholson in his pivotal scene wherein he is screaming that Tom Cruise "can't HANDLE the truth!" I thought it was funny because poor ol' TexasFred appeared to be implying that he identified with Nathan Jessep in that scene and I wondered if he had even SEEN the movie he was referring to!

Well, Anonymous Liberal has obviously seen it and does a masterful job in this post of drawing the clear parallels between the movie's story and today's torture debate. He concludes,
Unfortunately, because this isn't a movie, it's unlikely that the culprits will ever truly be held accountable for their actions.
I hope he's wrong.

Chicago Ray hits the Big Time!

Oh goody - look who discovered Chicago Ray hereafter to be known as "Some Previously Unnoticed Cob-Nobbler". (Tho not unnoticed by US, I point out with no small amount of Am-I-Cool-Or-Whatishness) Hilarity ensues!

I love Sadly, No! whose writers may not have invented the "shorter" concept but they have certainly perfected it.

I guess the message is: "I Hate Everybody"!

Capconundrum sent me this picture of a homegrown intellectual at our local gathering of teabaggers:

Gotta love the suit. Yes, here in Texas, not all our wingnuts are colorfully porcine blowhards like TexasFred; some are well-groomed and wear Very Serious Expressions of Consternation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They're both war criminals

But I hope this gets plenty of media play when they go on trial.

Words matter

The rightwing in this country are NOT "conservatives", extra-legal is just a smarmy way of saying "illegal", and the next time I hear someone say "enhanced interrogation techniques" I think I might puke.

And it was....illegal.

CHS at Firedoglake, quoting the newly-released Senate Armed Services Committee Report:
The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of "a few bad apples" acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies and compromised our moral authority.
Please sign the petition. Please sign every petition you can find that urges our government to hold these war criminals legally accountable.

UPDATE: Digby "They gave themselves permission to become barbarians.":
That we now have even more proof they consciously sent these SERE techniques to Iraq to "Gitmoize" it --- a country which we invaded under false pretenses and which had not attacked us first --- takes these crimes to yet another level. If nothing else, allowing a bunch of low level grunts to pay the price while the men and women who gave the orders publicly pretended they were appalled at the behavior they themselves had sanctioned, makes all arguments that these leaders shouldn't be held accountable completely untenable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My, my...

Glennzilla is having way too much fun at Jane Harman's expense.

UPDATE: I should, of course, make clear that no one deserves it more. This is as rich an example of someone's malfeasance coming back to bite them as I've ever seen!

Monday, April 20, 2009

More than that

It doesn't just set a "bad precedent" - if the Obama administration refuses to pursue legal action against those who sanctioned torture, they will be violating international law and will become, themselves, complicit in war crimes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'm sure you all get tired of hearing me go on about this particular wingnut - I'm sorry. It's just that he seems so typical of that singular breed of wingnut that bears watching pretty closely. Pursuant to that DHS report that was recently released, there has been a definite ratcheting-up of creepy rhetoric beyond just the crazy secession talk. Notice this comment that showed up today on Fred's blog:
comment number 11 by: ChicagoRay
Today at 2:41 PM (1 hour ago)

“BO wants to be just like Lincoln. I guess that means succession and civil war too.”

Maybe if we’re really lucky he’ll end up being exactly like him when all’s said ‘n done if ya knows what I mean katie……..

Meanwhile this fed up ChicIjuana resident (Tijuana +Chicago) may head to Texas if BarryPalooza gets any worse…
To his credit, Fred told "ChicagoRay" to "calm down" - I think someone has made Fred aware of how out-of-bounds some of his own overheated ravings about "the blood of patriots" has been. But these guys are ignorant, angry, and mega-armed, a very dangerous combination.

Torture memos released

Greenwald (emphasis mine):
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.
Please. Sign the petition.

On the justice front

There's good news and bad news.

Time to feel good

There's plenty of bad news about to inspire pulling of hair and rending of garments, but we'll get back to all that later. Until then, here are a couple of videos to help sustain us in darker times:

A global take on an old favorite.


The Day After

Well, we weathered that storm! Anyone have any great teabagging stories to tell? For the sanity-oriented, Mike points us to this great rundown of truthyness about US tax policy.

On Texas Public Radio this morning, a woman who attended the San Antonio event told a reporter: "Why does Obama want to shred the Constitution? I mean, what gives him the right to spend money like that??" I guess she didn't get the memo:
His flyer also contains tips to keep protesters from embarrassing themselves in other ways. For instance, he warns potential attendees that "[n]etroots interviewers might ask leading questions about immigration, President Obama, etc., to bait you into making comments they can paint as racist [and] might also ask questions designed to show you are uneducated and ignorant."
Darn that crafty liberal media.

UPDATE: I think that, for most of them, the memo wouldn't do any good anyway.

Meanwhile, The Blogess (who I discovered to my eternal gratitude via the ever-wonderful World O' Crap) has a traumatic experience at HEB.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Things I Never Thought I'd Write

TexasFred is planning to be teabaggin' with his friends today.

UPDATE: For my more high-minded readers, publius has a kinder, gentler, and much less vulgar commentary.

UPDATE II: Further civilized analysis - and Mike, look who picked up your Firestarter analogy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simply put

Prosecute them. To say that Obama has been a disappointment on this issue is an understatement.

Ruth has more.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!

Steve Benen:
You don't suppose Rove has identified some of his (and Bush's) biggest faults, and is simply projecting them on to the Obama White House, do you?

I think one of the things I'll remember most about the GWB years is the emperor-has-no-clothes surreal experience of seeing such fawning press coverage of such an obviously empty suit. Even now, eight long years and massive carnage later, some are just beginning to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, Dub wasn't so great. Yet here we are, still subjected to the indignity of being lectured on the Art of Governance by the likes of Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich, fergawdsake.

It's peeps time!

Susan beat me to it, but my favorite peeps contest is over at the Washington Post.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On bad movies

On Turner Classic Movies the other night, the theme was Biker Movies. Not my favorite, to be sure, but I can sit through "Easy Rider" and be entertained and, to a lesser degree "The Wild Ones". But I had never seen "The Born Losers" before, and I'm here to tell you that I don't think I've ever seen a worse movie - and I saw "Billy Jack" when it came out in theaters. I love movies, even bad movies, but "The Born Losers" is unwatchable - I had to keep switching it off, but I'd come back just out of sheer curiosity to see how bad it could really get. Some bad movies are bad in a good kind of way (think "Plan 9 From Outer Space") but this combination of a horrible script, cringeworthy acting and (no?) directing is just excruciating. I suspect that "Wild Angels", which came on later, might be another contender for Worst Movie of All Time, but by then I was bad-movied out. What's the worst movie you've ever seen? Gayle, you're already down for "Eraserhead"!

UPDATE: No post on bad movies is complete without a reference to the definitive guide:
Better Living Through Bad Movies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Our global image

Some friends just got back from Argentina - Argentina, mind you - and snapped this picture:

I don't yet know the exact translation, but I think the message is pretty clear.

As good a description of Beck as I've ever seen

Seriously. The man creeps me out and not just because of his insanity. He looks like something that lives in the dark. H/T Atrios.

But it's good for Republicans!

The madness goes on.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Back to business

Republican scumbags, and shame on anyone, Republican or Democrat, who enables them.

When I Was Young

Moving on to the mid-to-late-teen years:

I was (still am) a big Eric Burden fan, both with The Animals and War, and a few years back I bought a Greatest Hits CD which I unwisely lent to someone who didn't return it. I need to see if I can find it again.

The props used in the above two videos are disturbing to say the least! Burden and his crew look quite like hoodlums which is probably why I liked them so much. I might add here that I do not know how my poor parents survived my adolescence.

And last, but not least:

Sunday, April 5, 2009


No, not Them!, Them:

Blame it on Donna and Mike, who have prompted flashbacks to my preteen years:

And what started it all (by "it" I mean this post):