In addition to this blog you’re reading, I’m also a featured politics reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle. At that space, I’ve often been criticized by readers for not being a native Texan. They say I’m a carpetbagging Yankee. Here’s how the subject was addressed by a Chronicle blog reader who goes by the name typical_white_man——-”TexasLiberal=Yankee nit-wit! The whole piece is [...]
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There really isn't very much positive news in the new IMF report. The best I could find is that the US won't be the largest financial loser as Europe is expected to lose slightly more. The IMF still sees a lot more problems ahead and hundreds of billions more to be written down.
Should global writedowns hit $4.1 trillion, as the IMF expects, it would mark a staggering further slump over the next 18 months, according to analysts, who pointed out that, in the current meltdown so far, financial institutions have written off only $1.3 trillion. The IMF called for a "thorough cleansing of banks' balance sheets of impaired assets, accompanied by restructuring and, where needed, recapitalisation".The problem is that we've been surpassing the "worst case scenario" time after time. Eventually this won't be a problem but it's important to avoid yet another worst case report.
The half-yearly report from the IMF is closely studied by markets, and will be discussed by the Group of Seven and Group of 20 economies on Friday.
Peter Dixon, an economist at Commerzbank, said: "This is a bleak number and there is clearly still some way to go, and the banks face much more pain." He added, however: "This number is the worst-case scenario."
Title: Hot In The CityArtist: Billy Idol
video details and more
For anyone else that's in LA, enduring the first excruciatingly hot days of 2007.
Today’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Court is outrageous and reprehensible. Though not applicable in Texas, I still hope it is appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and overturned quickly. The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite us as Americans and reaffirms what our nation stands for. Texas schoolchildren and all Texans should continue to recite the Pledge with pride and honor. Despite a ruling from a California-based court, we remain one nation – under God.
--Texas Governor Rick Perry's official statement on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's decision in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, June 26, 2002 (emphasis added)
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
--United States Pledge of Allegiance, 4 U.S.C. Chapter 1 (emphasis added)
Glad that's settled, then.
On the April 21 edition of Fox News' Special Report, while discussing the possibility that the Justice Department may prosecute Bush administration lawyers who authored memos authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees, Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol falsely suggested that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair supports such methods, while President Obama has "repudiated the use of them." Kristol stated, "What was even more amazing[...]
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Pap is right here about the antics of Asscroft and Abu G. (Mukasey was a loyal Bushie too, let's not forget), but the thing I don't get is why a Republican justice department would go after the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate (glad to highlight the tragic case of Paul Minor here; add him to the company of Don Siegelman, Cyril Wecht, and a whole host of primarily Dem politicians and politicos screwed over by our former ruling cabal...and I think Holder just made the plainly obvious calculation that it wasn't worth Justice Department resources to fight the appeal of the Stevens case - and by the way, let's not forget what originally got Stevens in trouble, shall we?)...
...and you have to bump up the volume a bit here, but this tune is worth it (lyrics here).
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Yesterday, Markos noted that:
Conservative criticism of Obama's foreign policy approach is so patently ridiculous, that he's now openly mocking the wingers freaking out over his handshake with Hugo Chavez.
Here's some more of that mockery on the same subject:
THE PRESIDENT: Dan from CNN.
DAN LOTHIAN (CNN): During the campaign you were criticized by some within your own party for perhaps not being able to be tough on foreign policy matters. Now you’ve had this friendly interaction with Mr. Chavez. Are you concerned at all about how this might be perceived back in the U.S. as perhaps being soft? Already one senator is calling this friendly interaction irresponsible. And as a quick follow-up, if I may, when you got the book from Mr. Chavez, what did you really think? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I think it was a nice gesture to give me a book; I’m a reader. And you’re right, we had this debate throughout the campaign, and the whole notion was, is that somehow if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness. The American people didn’t buy it. And there’s a good reason the American people didn’t buy it — because it doesn’t make sense.
Simple and to the point; the GOP attacks don't make sense.
In a feeble attempt to improve upon "teabagging," Newt Gingrich tries to twitter a joke about oral sex.[...]
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copyright ? 2009 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Philip Zelikow, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's policy representative to the National Securities Council (NSC) Deputies Committee offered an opinion that was counter to the accepted belief. "Individuals suspected of terrorism, can be legally tortured." A short time after the Office of Legal Council (OLC) issued judgments that allowed for officially permitted torment, Mister Zelikow, his superior, who was then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and her Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, gained access to the now infamous torture memos. Concern was stated. However, this apprehension was not shared publicly, that is, not until now.
Mister Zelikow writes of his silence, and the counter torture to terrorist position he took. He states, "In compliance with the security agreements I have signed, I have never discussed or disclosed any substantive details about the program until the classified information has been released."
Now that the memos are in the hands of the people, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, feels a need to address what for too long was avoided. In an article The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter The counter force to corruption within the Bush White House speaks out.
1. The focus on water-boarding misses the main point of the program.
Which is that it was a program. Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed "interrogation plans" to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.
The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion. Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc. Sleep deprivation is most important.
2. Measuring the value of such methods should be done professionally and morally before turning to lawyers.
A professional analysis would not simply ask: Did they tell us important information? Congress is apparently now preparing to parse the various claims on this score -- and that would be quite valuable.
But the argument that they gave us vital information, which readers can see deployed in the memos just as they were deployed to reassure an uneasy president, is based on a fallacy. The real question is: What is the unique value of these methods?. . .
3. The legal opinions have grave weaknesses.
Weakest of all is the May 30 opinion, just because it had to get over the lowest standard -- "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" in Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture. That standard was also being codified in the bill Senator John McCain was fighting to pass. It is also found in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a standard that the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 does apply to these prisoners. Violation of Common Article 3 is a war crime under federal law (18 U.S.C. section 2441), a felony punishable by up to life imprisonment. (The OLC opinions do not discuss this law because in 2005 the administration also denied the applicability of Common Article 3.)
The emotional debate surrounding the use of torture has been reignited by last week's disclosure of Bush-era memos outlining the harsh interrogation practices utilized against high-profile terror detainees, and the legal opinions used to justify them. Such approved techniques involved slapping, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions, cramped confinement, "walling" (in which detainees were slammed into a flexible wall), forced nudity, and placing a suspect in a small box with insects. President Obama believes that the tactics reflect America's loss of its "moral bearings," which is why he discontinued their use and released the memos. But a cadre of political commentators and former Bush administration officials refute that claim, insisting that the techniques should be permissible either because they don't actually constitute torture, or because they elicit valuable information - or both. We went through the commentary of the past few days to see who falls into this camp.
"One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort .... I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country." -Dick Cheney, speaking with Fox News' Sean Hannity
"The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA .... As already disclosed by Director Hayden, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations." -Former attorney general Michael Mukasey and former CIA director Michael Hayden, in The Wall Street Journal
"It is, yes, good that the U.S.A. is not doing this anymore, but let's not get too sanctimonious about how awful it was that we indulged in these techniques after watching nearly 3,000 innocent Americans endure god-awful deaths at the hands of religious fanatics who would happily have detonated a nuclear bomb if they had gotten their mitts on one. And let us move on. There is pressing business. (Are you listening, ACLU? Hel-lo?)" -Chris Buckley, on the Daily Beast
"If somebody can go through water-boarding for 183 times, 6 times a day .... it means you're not afraid of it, it means it's not torture. If you've found a way to withstand it, it can't possibly be torture." -Rush Limbaugh
"I don't see it as a dark chapter in our history at all. You look at some of these techniques - holding the head, a face slap, or deprivation of sleep. If that is torture, the word has no meaning." -Charles Krauthammer, on Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume
"I think it's really pathetic for an American president to do that, and to disavow, in effect, the good faith efforts of a previous administration to protect us in ways that I think were entirely appropriate." -Bill Kristol, on Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume
"I've been in hotels with more bugs than these guys faced, and they're tortured?" -Mike Huckabee, on Fox & Friends
"Ultimately though, apparently, according to the evidence, this stuff worked. And some of these guys spilled some beans that saved some lives. Next time we're in the same predicament, what's going to happen?" --Steve Doocy, host of Fox & Friends
"Khalid Sheik Mohammed, I understand, was waterboarded 183 times. Did anyone care about that? Does anyone in America walk around going, 'I'm really upset that the mastermind of 9/11 was waterboarded 183 times.' That makes me feel better." -Brian Kilmeade, host of Fox & Friends
"The idea that torture doesn't work - that's been put out from John McCain on down - You know, for the longest time McCain said torture doesn't work then he admitted in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last summer that he was broken by North Vietnamese. So what are we to think here?" -Rush Limbaugh
"If you go beyond posing questions in an even voice, you're torturing, according to the Times .... Most Americans understand, when life and death is there, you've got to do something more than the Army Field Manual." -Bill O'Reilly
"By reading this people will be reassured and they'll see the lunacy of the people on the left who say it's torture. You know, you can only the use the back of your hand you have t splay your fingers when you slap them in the gut. On the face, you have to sue your fingers splayed, and you have to do it between here and here, and close to here." -Karl Rove, on The O'Reilly Factor
"Far from 'green lighting' torture - or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees - the memos detail the actual techniques used and the many measures taken to ensure that interrogations did not cause severe pain or degradation." -David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey, Justice Department officials under George H.W. Bush, in The Wall Street Journal
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Rachel Maddow talks to former State Department lawyer under Condoleeza Rice, Philip Zelikow who says that the Bush administration attempted to destroy all copies of an alternative memo on interrogation techniques he wrote in 2005.
From Philip Zelikow's blog at Foreign Policy magazine The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter:
At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.
Stated in a shorthand way, mainly for the benefit of other specialists who work these issues, my main concerns were:
- the case law on the "shocks the conscience" standard for interrogations would proscribe the CIA's methods;
- the OLC memo basically ignored standard 8th Amendment "conditions of confinement" analysis (long incorporated into the 5th amendment as a matter of substantive due process and thus applicable to detentions like these). That case law would regard the conditions of confinement in the CIA facilities as unlawful.
- the use of a balancing test to measure constitutional validity (national security gain vs. harm to individuals) is lawful for some techniques, but other kinds of cruel treatment should be barred categorically under U.S. law -- whatever the alleged gain.
The underlying absurdity of the administration's position can be summarized this way. Once you get to a substantive compliance analysis for "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" you get the position that the substantive standard is the same as it is in analogous U.S. constitutional law. So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.
Part two below the fold.
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