Friday, November 14, 2008



SCOTUSharpoonsWHALES copyright 2008 Cosanostradamus blog me no blogs


Judges Abdicate Responsibility Of Judicial Branch; Military Takes Up Slack

We might as well send those useless crypto-Nazi Supreme Court corporate shills home. They no longer have any legitimate function. The idiot Republicans have turned back the clock on our Courts to the 1800's. They live to strip away our most basic rights. They serve only as a rubber stamp for the powers that be. They justify and legally sanctify every heinous act of even a Bush Administration, regardless of the consequences.



This is the sort of thinking that created Guantanamo. And the Bastille. And Auschwitz: "National Security" trumps all other concerns, the Commander-In-Chief is above the rule of law, the military can do anything it wants without justification. There is a self-correcting mechanism. It's called "the Judgement of History." (See: "Hitler;" "Stalin;" "Tojo;" "Mao") Or just, "Morals." "Ethics." "Principles." Words to that effect.

Eh, the law is just words, after all. We don't have to take them seriously. Not if we have enough guns. Of course, we have to be in the military, first. Then we can do anything, and use "National Security" as a catch-all excuse. It's like being invulnerable, legally. It's what they had in communist Russia and China, and Fascist Germany and Japan. It's the banana in banana republic. It means that some people are on a higher plane than the rest of us. And the rest of us better watch out.

Of course, if human life is meaningless, why should other species be safe from our military? Why should it matter if a species is ancient, or intelligent, or endangered? If they're in the way of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard or the Post Office, for that matter, it's OK to exterminate them. Even if we could just as easily not do so. Even if their extinction will not advance national security one inch. After all, that's a decision left solely up to our military commanders. They're the best judges of all matters, from environmental science to comparative religion, including their own conduct, according to SCOTUS. Even judges don't get to judge themselves. But Admirals and Generals do. Welcome to the new America, the one ruled by violent men in tin hats.

"Supreme Court: National Security Trumps Whales, Environmental Law"
It's official: We now live in a National Security State.

' The NRDC produced graphic evidence of whales beaching themselves in distress, their brains and ears bleeding, or suffering from "the bends" — an affliction known to deep-sea divers who surface too quickly. Sonar appeared to have disoriented the whales, which rely on sound to navigate, in much the way that unrelenting and blinding light might make life difficult for people. On it went to the Supreme Court, where the Navy won by a 5-to-4 margin. Critically, the court didn't address environmental concerns: It ruled that federal courts had abused their discretion in ordering the Navy to stop sonar training, or at least finding a better place to do it. Formally dissenting from the ruling were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter. All the Navy had to do, they argued, is draft an environmental impact statement, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act — but the Navy didn't bother, and then called in the President to exempt them from the law, even though he had no legal standing to do so. Even if the Navy wouldn't admit in court to hurting whales, wrote Ginsburg and Souter, their own Environmental Assessment — a less-formal version of an environmental impact statement — predicted that sonar training exercises would drive entire whale populations mad. "This likely harm," wrote the justices, "cannot be lightly dismissed.... There is no doubt that the training exercises serve critical interests. But those interests do not authorize the Navy to violate a statutory command." '

"Defying Subpoena, DoD Orders Sexual Assault Program Chief Not To Testify Before Congress"
No Sir, No Sir!
' The Pentagon defied a Congressional subpoena yesterday by refusing to let the head of its sexual assault program testify at an oversight hearing about sexual assault in the military. An advocate for military victims of sexual assault tells TPMmuckraker that Whitley's office is under-resourced and reflects the Pentagon's lack of attention to sexual assault. '

"US general urges Obama to keep missile defense"
Shit-canned General gives new President his orders.
' The Air Force general who runs the Pentagon's missile defense projects said that American interests would be "severely hurt" if President-elect Obama decided to halt plans developed by the Bush administration to install missile interceptors in Eastern Europe. Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told a group of reporters Wednesday that he is awaiting word from Obama's transition team on their interest in receiving briefings. Obering, who is leaving his post next week after more than four years in charge, said in the interview that his office has pulled together information for a presentation to the Obama team, if asked. "What we have discovered is that a lot of the folks that have not been in this administration seem to be dated, in terms of the program," he said. "They are kind of calibrated back in the 2000 time frame and we have come a hell of a long way since 2000. Our primary objective is going to be just, frankly, educating them on what we have accomplished, what we have been able to do and why we have confidence in what we are doing." Asked whether he meant that Obama or his advisers had an outdated view of missile defense, Obering said he was speaking more generally about people who have not closely followed developments in this highly technical field. '

[Cross-posted on blog me no blogs.]


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Iraq War Ends: Bush Indicted For High Treason

According to a New York Times Special Edition this morning, both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been finally brought to an end, and all US troops in both countries will begin returning home immediately.

Across the country and around the world thousands have taken to the streets to celebrate the culmination of years of progressive pressuring of the Bush administration and Congress.

Condoleeza Rice has publicly apologized on behalf of the Bush administration and admitted that the administration simply lied through it's teeth to justify the initial invasion, that she and Mr. Bush had known well before the invasion that Saddam Hussein lacked weapons of mass destruction, and that the hundreds of thousands of US Troops in the country in fact never did face instant obliteration.

"It was all complete and utter bullshit" Secretary Rice said tearfully, as she begged a weary nation for forgiveness, while she was led away in handcuffs by four burly officers.

George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, was indicted Monday on charges of high treason, took it like a man, and didn't even stamp his foot, or curl his lip.

In other news, the controversial USA PATRIOT Act was repealed by Congress by a vote of 99-1 in the Senate and 520 to 18 in the House, Congress has voted to nationalize the entire oil industry and place ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and other major oil companies under public stewardship to fund addressing climate change worldwide.

A bill to eliminate tuition at public universities is making its way through Congress and is expected to pass within days, and The United States National Health Insurance Act is expected to be signed into law by President Bush within days to undercut incoming President-elect Obama, leaving him with nothing to do for the next four years.

Wal-Mart is also being evicted from all low income neighborhoods throughout the nation, and an editorial in the paper today asserts that "lobbyists" are "people", too. More study is planned to confirm that however, as the paper has been able to find no one who will believe it, however.

The leaderless nation will turn it's efforts now to an Apollo Program scale effort to build a sane economy.

Henry Paulsen has announced that he will land on the moon before this decade is over. No one has offered to return him safely to earth.

Dick Cheney has been reported to be missing. Neel Kashkari was found this morning floating face down in the east river.


The following video is reactions of the public to the distribution of the New York Times Special Edition:

New York Times Special Edition Video News Release - Nov. 12, 2008 from H Schweppes on Vimeo.

I swear it's all true.

Just ask John Byrne at RawStory. He knows.

Would he lie to you?

There's more: "Iraq War Ends: Bush Indicted For High Treason" >>

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Will Afghanistan Be Obama's Iraq?

Now that it seems hostilities are simmering down in Iraq, we will be paying more attention to Afghanistan. Readers will remember Afghanistan, it is, after all where the United States first struck back in the War on Terror. We were successful back then in overturning the Taliban led government and routing the Taliban, who were known to have provided a safe haven to Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts. Then George W, Bush took his eye off the ball and headed out to Iraq for his next conquest.

Barack Obama, during the campaign season told us that one of his priorities will be to get back in to Afghanistan and finish the job that George W. Bush bungled. So as we draw down troops from Iraq, we will be sending replacement troops (likely troops currently recovering back home from their last deployment in Iraq) back in to the fray in Afghanistan.

Just so everyone reading along here can get up to speed on Afghanistan, and what we are in for, here are some of the recent headlines that were likely overlooked during all of the recent political coverage in the media (each of the headlines below are links to full aritcles):

G.I.'s in Remote Afghan Post Have Weary Job, Drawing Fire

War Casualties

Obama Administration Likely To Deploy Tens Of Thousands Of Troops To Afghanistan

Record opium harvest in Afghanistan threatens new heroin crisis in Britain

Afghan aid to insurgents alledged in attack on U.S. troops

Karzai Demands Obama End Civilian Deaths

Army Social Scientist Set Afire in Afghanisgan

Afghan war to loom large for Obama

Gunmen kidnap French aid worker in Kabul

More Troops Are Nice, but More Intlligence Needed to Save Afghan War

As Taliban Overwhelm Police, Pakistanis Strike Back

A Warning, a Blast, a Fight to Save an Afghan Life

Rudderless in Kabul

Airstrikes kill 27 in Pakistan

Suicide bomber attacks Afghan ministry

Gunfire brings down U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan

Neighbours meet to discuss how to tackle Taliban violence

Murdered aid worker buried in Kabul

US Commandos Rescue American Hostage Near Kabul

If the articles linked to above don't get readers worried, then I suggest they take a gander at the PBS Frontline documentary titled The War Briefing. A Frontline news documentary unit was embedded with U.S. troops deployed at an isolated outpost on the Afghan frontier, and the film clearly brings home the fact that we are barely surviving in a holding operation in the country, we are not wining hearts and minds, we are not routing the Taliban and we are not capturing or killing Al Qaeda. The central government in Kabul has virtually no power to protect the people of Kabul or in the countryside, and the Taliban has regrouped and is intent on taking back control of the country.

Having lived through the war in Vietnam, observing the history of the Russians in Afghanistan, having lived through the war in Iraq, it gives one pause to contemplate just what kind of a quagmire are we getting ourselves in to in Afghanistan? And after viewing the entire Frontline documentary, one wonders when we will find our military forces drawn in to full scale hostilities in Pakistan.

I believe that president-elect Obama is an intelligent person, he is pragmatic, calculating and deliberate in his thought processes. I hope that some of the rhetoric that he used during the campaign was calculated to demonstrate his bonafides in terms of being a strong leader and commander-in-chief when necessary, but I am more hopeful that he will rely on his intelligence, his pragmatic and calculating mind and also listen to all voices that he can bring together who will present him with all facets of the issues, and only then will he and his staff and advisors and his subordinates think strategically and will act with all appropriate caution and deliberation, as they address the issues facing us in the region.

I am not ready for us to simply move our base of operations from Iraq to Afghanistan, I am not ready to see more of our blood and treasure expended because we have failed to learn from the past.

There's more: "Will Afghanistan Be Obama's Iraq?" >>

This Betrayal of American Values Is Unnecessary


"This Betrayal of American Values Is Unnecessary"
With those words, on September 28, 2006, Senator Barack Obama concluded a speech on the floor of the US Senate in reaction to Senate passage of S. 3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, one of the most heinous and hated pieces of legislation ever put forward by the Bush Administration, which approved US torture of detainees and stripped Constitutional rights away from detainees.

Senator Obama decried the placement of politics over human rights, and rightfully condemned S. 3930:
"This is NOT how a serious Administration would approach the problem of terrorism," thundered Senator Barack Obama last week on the floor of the US Senate, after it passed Bush Administration-supported S. 3930, Military Commissions Act of 2006, which approved US torture of detainees and stripped Constitutional rights away from detainees.

"And the sad part about all of this is that this betrayal of American values is unnecessary," Senator Obama continued.

"We could've drafted a bipartisan, well-structured bill that provided adequate due process through the military courts, had an effective review process that would've prevented frivolous lawsuits being filed and kept lawyers from clogging our courts, but upheld the basic ideals that have made this country great."
On November 04, 2008 Senator Obama was elected President of the United States, an election that was in large part repudiation of George Bush's unholy tactics in prosecuting his "war on terror".

Since the election Obama has begun putting together his administrative team of advisors.

His intelligence-transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik.

A Wall Street Journal article Tuesday, November 11, 2008 titled Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact describes new developments in the evolution of Obama's thinking since the election:

Former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan, leader of Obama's intelligence-transition team.
Mr. Obama is being advised largely by a group of intelligence professionals, including some who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration. They say he is likely to fill key intelligence posts with pragmatists.

"He's going to take a very centrist approach to these issues," said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "Whenever an administration swings too far on the spectrum left or right, we end up getting ourselves in big trouble."

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush's counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting "excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency."

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA's interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.

Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.

The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.

The intelligence-transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik
Brennan needs to go. Now.

Hat tip to Armando/Big Tent Democrat @ TakLeft: Obama Transition Team "Clarifies" Position On Torture: He May Be For It

There's more: "This Betrayal of American Values Is Unnecessary" >>

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Iraq vets ask Obama to end war and occupation

On Veterans Day, let's pause to consider the words of Iraq Veterans Against the War, in an open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama:
We appreciate your inspiring words spoken at Grant Park in Chicago on Tuesday night - words which should give all Americans hope for our future. But we also remember the hope your words gave to many Americans in an August 2007 speech - especially those serving in our military:
"Ending this war will be my first priority when I take office. There is no military solution in Iraq. Only Iraq's leaders can settle the grievances at the heart of Iraq's civil war."
Much has changed in our country since that speech, and the prevailing sentiment among Americans is that our faltering economy must now be your first priority. We understand and share their concern, but we believe that our faltering economy cannot be corrected if we continue the costly occupation of Iraq – an immense financial cost which is simply unsustainable. The American people are giving billions of dollars every week to continue an occupation that is draining our wallets, our respect, our security, and the lives of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi men, women, and children.
Of course it is all connected.

Yesterday, after the ACLU reminded Obama of his pledge on another topic, with a full page ad in the New York Times, the Obama team said he would keep his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Interestingly, a Google search of Obama and Guantanamo made it clear that is much bigger news abroad than in the US. British, Irish, Canadian and Australian newspapers and the BBC all carried more about it than US news outlets.

Yes, he made a lot of promises during that long campaign. And he'll have to prioritize; they can't all happen on Day One. The economy demands attention.

But it's up to us to remind him in no uncertain terms that a major reason he became the Democratic nominee was the belief that he was more committed than Hillary Clinton to ending the war in Iraq.

Obama assured us, when John McCain was suspending his campaign to focus on the ecoomy, that he was capable of doing more than one thing at a time. Let's make sure he does.

One way to send a message that we want the war and occupation to end quickly is to take part in Iraq Moratorium activities on the Third Friday of every month. It's a day to interrupt our daily routines and take some action to call for an and to the war and occupation. Join us. Do something. Keep the pressure on.

UPDATE U.S. Labor Against the War seconds IVAW's motion:
The Obama campaign was launched and gained momentum based on his pledge to end the war. That was what distinguished Senator Obama from all his major primary competitors. The election reaffirms the mandate given to the Congress in the election of 2006, but which the majority in Congress chose to ignore. It is a mandate to end the war and occupation in Iraq, to remove all foreign military forces and mercenaries, bring them all home, and truly care for them when they return.

There's more: "Iraq vets ask Obama to end war and occupation" >>

Obama's Foreign Policy Challenge

Eight years of George Bush has virtually destroyed America's clout as a diplomatic broker on the world stage, stretched the countries military might almost to the breaking point, thrown away her reputation as an honest member of the international community, and broken the back of the U.S. and the global economy, leaving the mess for a new president to clean up.

Can Barack Obama restore the heights of power of American imperialism? Should he even attempt to do so if he can or would that be counterproductive and merely postpone a day of reckoning, a day of a more realistic balance of powers in the world community?

Does Bush leave having set in motion an unstoppable series of events that when combined with the continuing collapse of the economy will finally lead to a multipolar world in which America is one country in an international community of power equals, at least diplomatically and economically?

After news of Barack Obama's electoral victory on Tuesday night, celebrations were seen worldwide and international leaders were falling over themselves to issue statements of approval.

Eric Margolis believes that that reaction is fueled by the view that the Bush administration has created a mess that the world hopes Obama can rectify.

In the first part of our interview, former GOP supporter Margolis explains why he is "elated" by Obama's victory and dismayed with his former party. Margolis outlines his belief that Obama's biggest challenge will not be in confronting non-state actors like Al Qaeda, but rather in deescalating the heightening tension with Russia which the Bush Administration has created with a series of recent provocations.

Secondly, he will have to put forward a consistent position on relations with China, something that Bush has yet to do despite China's meteoric rise in international influence during his tenure.

With respect to the economic crisis' impact on US foreign policy, Margolis offers that US power is projected to a greater extent through its dollar, as expressed through the strategic funding of allies within foreign countries, than through its military. As such, the US will have to acclimatize itself to a reduced level of influence in the world if the economy does not recover.

November 11, 2008 - about 10 minutes

Obama's foreign policy challenge
Eric Margolis: Bush admin has left Obama an international 'mess', with Russia at the top of the list

Eric Margolis is a journalist born in New York City and holding degrees from Georgetown the University of Geneva, and New York University. During the Vietnam War he served as a US Army infantryman.

Margolis is the author of War at the Top of the World –- The Struggle for Afghanistan and Asia is a syndicated columnist and broadcaster whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, Mainichi Shimbun and US Naval Institute Proceedings.

Margolis is an expert of military affairs, a former instructor in strategy and tactics in the US Army, and a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the Institute of Regional Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Eric Margolis' books have been published in the US, Canada, Britain, and India. He often appears and contributes to national and international news items for outlets such as CNN, ABC,CBC and Voice of America to the Wall Street Journal and Maninichi-Tokyo. He broadcasts regularly on foreign affairs for Canadian TV (TV Ontario and CBC), radio, and has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, and PBS
Power, or reputation?

Which is more important? Or are they mutually exclusive?

There's more: "Obama's Foreign Policy Challenge" >>

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama, Emanuel, and Foreign Policy

Rahm Emanual has accepted Barack Obama's invitation to join his administration as White House Chief of Staff, a position that has been described in the past by many as "The Second-Most Powerful Man in Washington", or The Gatekeeper who controls access to and the flow of information to the president.

Emanual voted for and has been extremely active in the past with Nancy Pelosi in Congressional arm twisting getting Democrats onside to support the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq, and has acquired the nicknames The Enforcer and "Rahmbo" in Congress.

In a profile of Emanual a few days ago, The Telegraph noted that:

Mr Emanuel, who received training in ballet as a boy, has shown no lightness of step in his political career: would-be enemies are advised to heed the story of a pollster who wronged him and promptly received a large, decomposing fish in the post.

Reflecting on his own foul-mouthed, attack-dog style, Mr Emanuel has said: "I wake up some mornings hating me too."
Ben Joravsky of The American Prospect asks: Does Rahm Emanuel's Pick Mean the Chicago Machine Is Coming to Washington?
So why is Obama hiring Emanuel as chief of staff? Probably for the same reason [Chicago's mayor Richard M.] Daley hired him way back in 1989. He's ruthless, cunning, and absolutely unafraid to be a jerk. In fact, I think Emanuel enjoys being a jerk. Moreover, by being a jerk, I predict Emanuel will do a great service for Obama. By the time Emanuel is finished irritating, humiliating, and infuriating folks in Washington, Obama will look like an angel. People will probably like him even more just because he's not Emanuel.
What will his appointment as Chief of Staff mean for Obama's foreign policies, particularly in the Middle East? Should Rahm Emanual be the prime target for progressive pressuring and advocacy from left wing bloggers, rather than Obama directly?

Real News Ceo Paul Jay talks with Consortium News founder Bob Parry about Obama's "partnering" with Emanual.

November 9, 2008 - 8 min 52 sec

Barack Obama's position on the Mideast conflict will be a strong indicator of his foreign policy agenda. After his speech at the AIPAC conference, Mr Obama left many doubts about the prospect for real change in US policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Real News Network Senior Editor Paul Jay talks with Robert Parry about the appointment of Rahm Emanuel, and whether this selection is symptomatic of things to come.
Andrew Sullivan this morning describes Emanual and his appointment this way:

If you were expecting Kumbaya from Obama, do try to remember where he learnt politics. It’s Chicago, where Emanuel also practised the dark arts of twisting arms, yelling in people’s faces and counting votes. As one wag put it, Emanuel as Obama’s chief of staff is “Change you can f****** believe in”.

Rahm comes from a remarkable family. One brother, Ari, is the Hollywood agent for Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Wahlberg and Larry David. If you’ve watched the television series Entourage, he’s the model for the character of Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven. His other brother, Zeke, is a Harvard bioethicist (and an old classmate of mine) who also manages to make the nuances of healthcare reform sound like a fax machine transmitting. None of them, it is fair to say, is known for pouring oil on troubled waters.

Rahm Emanuel himself explodes amusingly at regular intervals and uses language that might have made Richard Nixon blush. But as his friend Todd Purdum, the Vanity Fair journalist, has noted, he also lives by the Franklin D Roosevelt truism: “Keep all the balls in the air without losing your own.”

He gets things done. As the fourth highest ranking member of the Democratic leadership in the House, he has a very good idea of where the votes are, who the problem congressmen will be and how to corral, bully and pinion the wayward to get his way.
As Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times reported more than a decade ago: “Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table. ‘Dead!’ he screamed. The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: ‘Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!’”

Quite how his appointment will go down in the Middle East is an interesting question. The Emanuel family hails from Israel. They were originally the Auerbachs, but after their uncle Emanuel was killed in a clash with Arabs in Jerusalem in 1933, the family adopted his first name as their last. Emanuel, in other words, has serious Jewish and Israeli cred. But that doesn’t mean he’s a Likudnik.
In other words: he’s a sign of Obama’s seriousness about governing. He’s no suck-up like Andy Card, George Bush’s former chief of staff; and he’s no patsy. People will be scared of him – which can be helpful when you’re as congenial, if aloof, a man as Obama.

Who will be running who in the White House, especially where Foreign Policy is concerned?

There's more: "Obama, Emanuel, and Foreign Policy" >>