|New Civilization News: A Mournful Thanksgiving|
8 comments25 Nov 2007 @ 17:56 by quinty : Will our democracy unravel?
My knowledge of history is shallow and poor, so please correct me when I’m off? (I know Vax, we never had a democracy and there’s nothing to unravel. So I’ll set that aside attempting to go ahead.)
The Founders, as we all know, hoped a variety of different self interest groups would act as watchdogs keeping each other straight. This is called checks and balances. Here my knowledge of the past is poor, but I believe this was a novel and original approach to keeping government honest. Or hoping to keep it honest in spite of human nature, which, at its worst, gives us..... well, gives us George Bush. And Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, John Negroponte, Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Dick Cheney.
But many of the countervailing forces have come apart in recent decades.
The mainstream press, which should go after those in power like a bulldog, has become almost entirely profit driven. Corporate, and merely a shallow form of entertainment.
The Congress is often afraid of its own shadow or entirely beholden to the big money interests. To corporations, once again.
The American people, as a whole, are drugged on an electronic mass media (once again corporate) which often defines our self image as a nation and culture. And many Americans tend to be quite poorly informed. Reading, recent studies show, is way down.
And at the helm of this ship of state is a president who is unparalleled for his weaknesses and failings. And he has openly assaulted our Constitution, openly scorning the law to the point that it is not entirely paranoid to wonder if our democracy/republic is in peril? If this president may actually stage a national emergency and declare martial law, suspending the Constitution?
Will we have more of the same if Hillary is elected? I shudder at the thought of any of the Republicans succeeding Bush. Huckabee is at least (so he appears) a nice guy. But who wants a nice guy when something far larger is needed? Which would be someone with the ability to lead our country (and the world) away from the brink. Someone who can see that we are approaching it and cares, who won’t help shove us off.
I certainly agree with Galloway. The true story about the Bush years hasn’t been written yet. And though there are many fine books out there, dealing with parts of the overall picture, the complete story will be quite a read. It’s odd, too, that they (the White House) believed they could get away with so much without it finally coming out. It’s not as if running one of the biggest scams in the world is like embezzling a few bucks from your local credit union.
Good opinion pieces, Jazzo......
7 Dec 2007 @ 15:47 by jazzolog : "I Will Never Leave Guantanamo"
As the Supremes continue wondering if they even can make a judgment Constitutionally about our prison camps abroad, a sad piece appeared Monday in the Boston Globe, written by a lawyer trying to defend the inmates~~~
'I will never leave Guantanamo'
By Sabin Willett
December 3, 2007
"WE HAVE important news for you!"
Chained to the floor of a cell in Camp Six, Guantanamo, Joseph said nothing. But he had some news for us, too.
The Court of Appeals had decided what record - what pieces of paper - it would examine when it considered his "Detainee Treatment Act" case. This was big. For months, we urged the Bush administration to release its exculpatory evidence about Joseph. The administration fought back hard. And we'd won - a brilliant victory!
"What do they say - these papers?" Joseph asked.
An awkward pause followed. We didn't exactly have them yet. The government had moved for reconsideration, filed affidavits, more briefs. There might be further appeals. It was complicated. The order came down in July, and now it was October. They hadn't produced a page. But it was a great victory!
Joseph listened in silence. During six years of US imprisonment he's heard this sort of thing before. All this talk from American lawyers about American courts - in Camp Six a man can't be sure that American courts exist at all, but if they do, it is certain that nothing ever comes of them but essays. No one alleges that Joseph was ever a terrorist, or a soldier, or a criminal. The military told him in 2002 he was innocent. Again in 2003. Again in 2006. He filed a habeas petition in 2005. He would be gone if the military could find a country to take him.
When Senator Joseph Lieberman and the other guardians of freedom in Congress stripped his habeas rights, he filed a Detainee Treatment Act petition. That was 11 months ago.
For two years and three months he'd been asking the federal judiciary to hear a few simple facts. No judge ever has.
"I also have something important to tell you," Joseph said. "About my wife."
What came next was deeply personal. (It is why I use "Joseph," a pseudonym for this good husband.) A Muslim, he does not like to speak to me of such personal things. But he had no choice. Camp Six is complete isolation. The men call it the dungeon above the ground. He is held alone in a metal cell, denied any contact with companions, books, news, the world - with his wife or child.
North Korea used this isolation technique against our airmen in 1952. We know a good idea when we see it, so the taxpayers paid $30 million to Dick Cheney's former company to duplicate North Korea.
The bunks had to be filled. Joseph got one. And so a message through me was the only way he could do his duty by her.
"I want you to tell her that it is time for her . . .. to move on."
"You mean . . .?"
"Yes. I will never leave Guantanamo."
His affect was flat, his voice soft. He looked up only once, when he said to me, urgently, "She must understand I am not abandoning her. That I love her. But she must move on with her life. She is getting older."
We are all getting older. Guantanamo is now far older than any World-War-II POW camp. Hope fled the sunless gloom of Camp Six long ago.
Joseph slips with the others down isolation's slope. He stands in the twilight. Beyond, the darkness of insanity beckons. He seems ready to surrender to it.
Somewhere in a file drawer in Guantanamo is a copy of the memo that clears Joseph for release. But it was written in 2006, and is as forgotten as he is. So the good husband did the last thing a man in isolation can do. He set his wife free from her husband's prison.
Not to worry, Joseph! Our federal judges are at their posts! They are making important rulings in your case - earnestly debating the important question of which pieces of paper to look at!
Sabin Willett is a partner at Bingham McCutchen, which represents prisoners at the Guantanamo prison.
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
Hopefully to the rescue, Henry Waxman is tinkering around with the new Attorney General to see if he'll get the same song and dance. The Plame Affair is down at the bottom of the whole horrible mess~~~
Waxman Taps Mukasey in CIA Leak Probe
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 3, 2007
Filed at 6:49 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House committee chairman looking into the leak of a CIA operative's identity asked for Attorney General Michael Mukasey's help in getting transcripts of investigators' interviews with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and five White House aides.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the White House is blocking Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald from providing the transcripts, which are among the material the congressman wants from the criminal investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
In a letter to Mukasey, Waxman said that during the Clinton administration, Attorney General Janet Reno made an independent judgment and provided FBI interview reports to Capitol Hill, including interview summaries with President Clinton, Vice President Gore and three White House chiefs of staff.
''Unfortunately, the White House has been blocking Mr. Fitzgerald from providing key documents to the committee,'' Waxman stated. ''I hope you will not accede to the White House objections.''
The White House and Fitzgerald's office declined to comment.
The congressman's request comes less than a month after Mukasey, a retired federal judge, was sworn in as the nation's 81st attorney general, replacing Alberto Gonzales, a personal friend of the president who served as White House counsel before taking the top job at the Justice Department.
Waxman said his request has taken on new urgency following recently published excerpts from a book being written by Scott McClellan, a former White House press secretary. McClellan wrote that five of the highest-ranking officials in the government were involved in passing along false information to the public that presidential political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby were not involved in the Plame leak.
The five, McClellan wrote, included Bush and Cheney. On Monday, McClellan's publisher said the former White House spokesman was not suggesting in the excerpt that the president had lied. Rather, said the publisher, McClellan meant that Bush himself had been misled at that early point in the Plame investigation in 2003, just as McClellan had been misled.
Waxman said Fitzgerald has produced FBI interview summaries from questioning of CIA and State Department officials and others.
Besides transcripts, reports, notes and other documents from interviews with Bush and Cheney, Waxman wants documents from interviews with former White House chief of staff Andrew Card, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, White House senior adviser Dan Bartlett, Rove and McClellan.
Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is looking into whether the White House took appropriate disciplinary steps after the leak of Plame's CIA identity. In addition, the committee wants to consider what changes in White House procedures are necessary to prevent future breaches.
13 Jan 2008 @ 11:50 by jazzolog : Only 373 Days Until Bush Goes Home
I hate to ruin your Sunday with more ghastly news, but then 13 is an unlucky number. Or another way to look at it: here's something to pray about if you're somebody who goes to church on Sunday the 13th.
There's a terrible report in the Sunday New York Times about murders, man-and-womanslaughter and other violent crimes charged against returned Iraq War veterans recently. They're numbering into the hundreds. This is long, so it must be in the magazine...but it starts out~~~
"Late one night in the summer of 2005, Matthew Sepi, a 20-year-old Iraq combat veteran, headed out to a 7-Eleven in the seedy Las Vegas neighborhood where he had settled after leaving the Army.
"This particular 7-Eleven sits in the shadow of the Stratosphere casino-hotel in a section of town called the Naked City. By day, the area, littered with malt liquor cans, looks depressed but not menacing. By night, it becomes, in the words of a local homicide detective, 'like Falluja.'
"Mr. Sepi did not like to venture outside too late. But, plagued by nightmares about an Iraqi civilian killed by his unit, he often needed alcohol to fall asleep. And so it was that night, when, seized by a gut feeling of lurking danger, he slid a trench coat over his slight frame — and tucked an assault rifle inside it."
Also, check out the photos, slide show, charts and other statistics. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/us/13vets.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
McClatchy put this story out on Friday~~~
In voiding suit, appellate court says torture is to be expected
By Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Friday, January 11, 2008
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court Friday threw out a suit by four British Muslims who allege that they were tortured and subjected to religious abuse in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a ruling that exonerated 11 present and former senior Pentagon officials.
It appeared to be the first time that a federal appellate court has ruled on the legality of the harsh interrogation tactics that U.S. intelligence officers and military personnel have used on suspected terrorists held outside the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The detainees allege that they were held in stress positions, interrogated for sessions lasting 24 hours, intimidated with dogs and isolated in darkness and that their beards were shaved.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the detainees captured in Afghanistan aren't recognized as ``persons'' under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were aliens held outside the United States. The Religious Freedom Act prohibits the government from ``substantially burdening a person's religion.''
The court rejected other claims on the grounds that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had certified that the military officials were acting within the scope of their jobs when they authorized the tactics, and that such tactics were ``foreseeable.''
``It was foreseeable that conduct that would ordinarily be indisputably `seriously criminal' would be implemented by military officials responsible for detaining and interrogating suspected enemy combatants,'' Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote in the court's main opinion.
Judge Janice Rogers Brown dissented with parts of the opinion, saying that ``it leaves us with the unfortunate and quite dubious distinction of being the only court to declare those held at Guantanamo are not `person(s).'
'`This is a most regrettable holding in a case where plaintiffs have alleged high-level U.S. government officials treated them as less than human,'' Brown wrote.
After being held for more than two years, the four men were repatriated to Britain in 2004, where they were freed within 24 hours without facing criminal charges, said Washington lawyer Eric Lewis, who represented them along with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
Three of the men — Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed — say they traveled to Afghanistan from Pakistan in October 2001 to provide humanitarian relief but were seized by an Uzbek warlord in northern Afghanistan the next month and sold to U.S. troops for bounty money. The three said they were unarmed and never engaged in combat against the United States.
The fourth, Jamal al Harith, said he'd planned to attend a religious retreat in Pakistan in October 2001 but was ordered to leave the country because of animosity toward Britons. When he tried to drive a truck home via Iran and Turkey, he says, his truck was hijacked at gunpoint and he was handed over to the Taliban, who jailed him and accused him of being a spy. When the Taliban fell after the U.S.-led invasion, he was detained and transported to Guantanamo.
The detainees filed suit in October 2004 against former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, former Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, and nine other senior military officers. They allege that the Pentagon officials violated the Alien Tort Statute, the Geneva Conventions, the religious freedom law and the Constitution with their harsh treatment.
In upholding a lower court's rejection of all the claims but those under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the circuit court said that the interrogation tactics, which Rumsfeld first authorized in 2002, were ``incidental'' to the duties of those who'd been sued.
``It is an awful day for the rule of law and common decency,'' said Lewis, the detainees' attorney, ``when a court finds that torture is all in a day's work for the secretary of defense and senior generals. . . . I think the executive is trying to create a black hole so there is no accountability for torture and religious abuse.''
Lewis said his clients intended to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling.
McClatchy Newspapers 2008
On Thursday The Wall Street Journal published a commentary by a person who calls himself Karl Rove. Remember him? Supposedly "retired" to be with his loving family (though I never believed that for a minute) he has stirred to respond to Hillary's victory in New Hampshire---and to do a little slamdunk on Obama. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119992615845679531.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
Fortunately the blogs went after him at once, the best being one called Cerebral Itch Scratch Pad, which I immediately bookmarked and will be checking often. I urge you to get to know this author, who writes brilliantly. http://cerebralitch.blogspot.com/2008/01/former-deputy-chief-of-staff-to.html
13 Jan 2008 @ 14:21 by mortimer : Non-confidence
Ohm… declare ‘’nonconfidence’’ while still can because soon might be illegal to say that.. Or.. Is it already?
If me understands this correctly, the. Citizens of the United States can petition ‘’nonconfidence’’ against any opposition in the hope of defeating or embarrassing any government.
i found this - http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/democracy-for-the-usa.html , i dont agree with all the typing but,perhaps, a better petition
14 Jan 2008 @ 10:56 by jazzolog : Interesting Idea
I've often thought I'd like to live in a country where a vote of No Confidence forces an election immediately. I'd like to see what it's like. Can you tell us at least where you live, Mortimer?
Yanks are confident. We're a confident people...to the point of egomania---and perhaps beyond. I think we might have a clash of semantics if we tried to dump this administration 372 days before he heads out to clear more brush in his desert.
22 Nov 2008 @ 11:41 by jazzolog : Bush's Amazing Nose
The normally staunch and staid London Economist published this week a farewell to the President of the United States. The article's author is Ann Wroe, identified as the obituary writer for the magazine~~~
End of an aura
Nov 19th 2008
The Bush administration will come to an end on January 21st
With Jimmy Carter it was the teeth, big, straight and white as a set of country palings. With Richard Nixon it was the eyebrows, surely brooding on Hell. Abe Lincoln had the ears (and the beard, and the stove-pipe hat); Bill Clinton had a nose that glowed red, almost to luminousness, as his allergies assailed him. But George Bush’s most extraordinary feature was his nostrils, and they will be missed.
It is not just that they were large, and lent his face a certain simian charm. They were also uncontrollable. When the rest of the presidential body was encased in a sober suit, and the rest of the presidential face had assumed an expression appropriate to taking the oath of office, or rescuing banks, or declaring to terrorists that they could run but they couldn’t hide, the nostrils would suddenly flare and smirk, as if Mr Bush was about to burst out with something outrageous or obscene, or flash a high-five, or hail his deputy chief of staff as “Turd blossom”.
Occasionally, a real gaffe was about to emerge. Watched closely, the nostrils no doubt gave advance warning of the moment when, addressing the Pentagon’s top brass, Mr Bush said: “Our enemies...never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” More often, nothing exceptional was on the way to being said. But the nostrils ran ahead, twitching like a bull in a rodeo or a frisking wild horse, hinting at danger to come.
When he was debating with Al Gore in 2000, Mr Bush’s language was polite and the policy statements well coined, but the nostrils declared they couldn’t take the whole thing seriously. With hindsight, when the 2000 election became the closest ever, the Florida shenanigans seemed prefigured in that sniggering expression, which less became the 43rd president than Alfred E. Neuman of MAD magazine.
Being bigger and better than most people’s, the presidential nostrils were also more acute. They could sniff out WMD in Iraq as snappily as hot dogs at a football game, though it took the UN many years to come up with nothing. Yellow-cake uranium could be nosed as far away as Niger, and Saddam Hussein’s connections to al-Qaeda were as odorous as a Texas feedlot. The nostrils could smell victory, too, especially on that morning in May 2003 when, standing on an aircraft-carrier with “Mission Accomplished” fluttering on a banner behind him, Mr Bush breathed in the tang of the ocean and of power.
Much else alerted those nostrils when others were indifferent. Oil, for example, even when buried under hundreds of feet of environmentally protected Arctic tundra. Cheese, as eaten by the feckless French and other effete gastronomes of old Europe. Red meat, when demanded by the right-wing base which so often found this president disappointing, in the form of tax cuts and suspended regulations. And danger, as personified by suspicious individuals from faraway countries, whose proper place was to be in orange pyjamas at
Guantánamo Bay, well out of reach of a lawyer.
An aroma of pork
Disloyalty, or the whiff of it, set off a particular quivering. When Paul O’Neill, Mr Bush’s ex-treasury secretary, revealed that Saddam had been targeted from day one of Mr Bush’s first term, and when Scott McClellan, his former press secretary, wrote that the Bush White House lacked both candour and competence, the nostrils assumed an air of outraged innocence: the same look, in fact, they had assumed on the worst day of Mr Bush’s presidency, when an aide leaned down to tell him of the attack on the twin towers and the president, busy reading “The Pet Goat” to a class of Florida children, could not for a moment engage either his brain or his mouth to take the news.
All the stranger, therefore, that the noble orifices had their shortcomings. They could not smell the putrid mud that covered the ninth ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina passed, or the stink of subprime mortgages leaching their poison into the financial system. They found nothing especially noisome about the presence of Dick Cheney and his oilman cronies in charge of the national energy task-force. Sensitive as they were, they were unimpressed by levels of arsenic in drinking water or particulates in the air. And though Mr Bush had sold himself as a lean-spending, small-government man, they could not resist the aroma of a trillion-dollar budget stuffed with choicest pork.
Most curiously, they failed to detect the poisonous atmosphere that swirled around him abroad. Granted, the most revolting protesters were kept away. But even so the nostrils, proudly set even when the eyes blinked and the mouth pursed and wavered, maintained an extraordinary belief in the wisdom of the president and the rightness of his cause. One day the rest of the world would wake up and be grateful. One day the Bush administration would come up smelling like a rose.
Copyright © 2008 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group
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