Monday, August 04, 2014
Spooks Lying? What Next . . .
After five years of investigation, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is about to release a 6,300 page report that concludes that the CIA misled government officials and the public about its War on Terror interrogation program by downplaying its methods and overstating the value of prisoners and the intelligence gathered from them.
In some cases, the CIA credited “enhanced interrogation” methods for eliciting intelligence that detainees had provided willingly long before they were tortured.
Several officials who have read the document said some of its most troubling sections deal not with detainee abuse but with discrepancies between the statements of senior CIA officials in Washington and the details revealed in the written communications of lower-level employees directly involved.
Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 08/04/14 at 12:29 PM
Saturday, July 05, 2014
Immigration - Texas Two-Step Style
Normally, Texas governor “Crotch” Perry doesn’t venture too far off the reservation. Texans apparently “get him,” the rest of us, not so much. But this week his buddies on the House Homeland Security Committee transported themselves to Texas for something they call a “field hearing” titled “Crisis on the Texas Border: Surge of Unaccompanied Minors.”
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families recently announced that the U.S. had apprehended 24,668 unattended youths at the border in fiscal 2013, and officials expect the annual number to reach nearly 60,000 by the end of 2014.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said this week that more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico, with nearly two-thirds of them traveling through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
The discussion comes days after Obama signaled he has lost all hope of Congress overhauling the nation’s immigration laws this year. He announced Monday that he will redirect more resources to the border for enforcement efforts, adding that he would use executive actions to “fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”
The governor, of course, was invited to testify during this “field hearing” and plunged right into the deep end without his swimmies.
Currently Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is leading the government’s response to the influx of unattended children, with housing, medical treatment, transportation and other forms of assistance.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 07/05/14 at 10:54 AM
Sunday, June 01, 2014
Leave No Man Behind
Nothing makes Republicans madder than President Obama doing his job and succeeding. They’ve spent the last few weeks blowing up pseudo-scandals, like Macy’s parade balloons, that they hope to keep inflated through the summer.
Poor old Prosecutor Gowdy is still arm-wrestling with Judge Issa over witnesses and trying to get his “show horses” to finish reading Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies before the big trial.
And BOOM! along comes Obama saying I’ll see your Benghazi Special Investigation, your IRS and VA scandals and raise you a high-profile Imperial Presidency prisoner swap.
There! you want something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about.
But they’ll have to be smart to put points on the board with this one because no one really wants to hear any whining about a soldier’s homecoming . . . they’re not smart, though, are they?
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. They said Obama also is required to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.
The top Republicans on the House and Senate armed-services committees cautioned that “we must carefully examine the means by which we secured [Bergdahl’s] freedom,” warning that the U.S. had effectively reneged on its policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
Which is a curious statement since the US has not designated the Taliban a terrorist organization. But, by now, we should be used to our Congresspersons playing fast and loose with facts.
In addition, how is it that a Congress that has been one of the most shamefully ineffectual, abysmal flops in the history of American governance can get all snippy about being sidelined when something real needs to happen? If these people had to operate for one week in their beloved free market they’d be toast. All of them.
Perhaps, if Congress hadn’t been so anxious to stymie the president’s pledge to close Guantanamo and had been more inclined to provide those Gitmo prisoners with anything like due process they wouldn’t have still been been moldering away there to use in a swap.
And, about that 30 day notification law? It was attached to last year’s defense bill to prevent Obama from moving on Guantanamo closure. When he signed that defense bill last year, Obama said that “other provisions of the bill on military programs were too important to jeopardize” by vetoing it outright. Instead, Obama signed the defense bill but also issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.
And he did. Imagine that, a politician who means what he says.
The White House said it moved as quickly as possible given the opportunity that arose to secure Bergdahl’s release. Citing “these unique and exigent circumstances,” the White House said a decision was made to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement of 30 days advance notice to Congress “due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life.”
The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.
Especially since the alternative was to go hat-in-hand to the same Congress that already shut down Bergdahl’s release once, in 2012.
As Raw Story reports:
In addition to using congressional oversight, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman was told by Republican leadership that negotiating an exchange of Sgt. Bergdahl that involved detainees from Guantanamo Bay would be the president’s “Willie Horton moment.”
Does it get any more cynical than that?
Of course, Obama’s action in this case is not without precedent. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan faced a similar dilemma - seven Americans held hostage by Iranians in Lebanon. Ronald Reagan felt that, as president, “he had the duty to bring those Americans home.” He decided that giving Iran 1500 missiles was a fair trade. I’d say Obama did a much better deal trading five Taliban members and saving the missiles for another time.
Taliban is not al Qaeda. Taliban is not designated a terrorist organization by the US. Neither are these people being repatriated, they have been handed over to the Qatari government, an American ally in the region.
Meanwhile, while admitting they celebrate Bergdahl’s release, McKeon and Inhofe warned that the exchange “may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.”
“Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” they said.
If Congress would like to discuss presidential actions that “put our forces . . . around the world at even greater risk,” perhaps the time is right for a thorough investigation of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq . . . ? Or their cavalier abandonment of said Wounded Warriors when their medical care requires more funding than our parsimonious Congress is willing to dole out?
Posted by Bette Noir on 06/01/14 at 11:40 AM
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The Banality of Evil: Rumsfeld Edition
Seems like a lifetime ago, in the 1960s, philosopher Hannah Arendt gave us the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s demeanor during his war crimes trial in Jerusalem.
Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a “monster,” but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown. And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported (p. 55).
Arendt has always had critics of her thesis about Eichmann’s “ordinariness.” Still, I find her ironic notion of the “banality of evil” a very useful device for characterizing some of the inexplicable nuttiness afoot in 21st century America.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 03/26/14 at 12:36 PM
Friday, February 28, 2014
Noonan Haz A Sad, Channels Ophelia
Apparently Peggy Noonan took to her fainting couch recently, suffering from a touch of SAD, and found herself scribbling away and projecting her depression on all of America. I tend to avoid conservative propaganda outlets, such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, mainly because of their insalubrious effect on my blood pressure.
But this communique from the inimitable Nooners exploded across my desktop like a multi-car accident and I just had to become a gaper.
She had me by the first sentence, which reads:
The constant mischief of the progressive left is hurting the nation’s morale.
A bold premise but deftly supported by citing those experts on the American psyche—Gallup, of Gallup polls. Gallup found, in December, that a record number of Americans, 72% to be exact, feel that big government is a bigger threat to the future than big business and big labor.
This probably came as no surprise to the good folks of Gallup because so it has been, every single time that they have asked that question since the first time, in 1965. Indeed, Noonan, herself, points out that this is a fairly predictable data point.
None of these numbers are new, exactly, as they reflect long-term trends.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 02/28/14 at 04:24 PM
Monday, February 24, 2014
Tears Of A Clown
You know, I could run for governor and all this but I’m basically a media creation. I’ve never really done anything. I’ve worked for my dad. I worked in the oil industry. But that’s not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office.
In an interview with the Midland Reporter Telegram on July 4, 1989, quoted in Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential (John Wiley and Sons, 2003) by James Moore and Wayne Slater, p. 161.
The man above is either a) a sociopath, b) a masochist, c) dumb as a bag of hammers or d) all of the above.
Despite the fact that my life has spanned the 1960’s civil rights movement, America’s open season for assassins, the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration, I must admit that I have never seen anything on national television quite as nauseatingly abhorrent as the spectacle of George W. Bush shedding a gentlemanly tear over the thousands of lives he wrecked to remedy his Daddy Complex.
This is how “sad” Dubya’s “mistakes” made him in 2012:
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/24/14 at 12:15 PM
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
C’mon Truth, Get Your Damn Shoes On!
“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Brace yourselves, Roasters, it’s starting early this time around. You know what I mean, right? that goofy quadrennial American reality show called The Making of The President, in which a gang of nattering political nabobs join in a rousing cacophonous chorus of Me! ME!! Look at meeeee!
One of the talking points that seems to be developing legs, on the Right, is the Lawless Obama meme. Rallying round that notion, I expect the pundits of the courtier press to be donning their little amateur constitutionalist thinking caps, any minute now, and letting us in on what their “gut” tells them is unconstitutional. And we the people will commence quivering with fear because . . . ASSAULT ON LIBERTY!!!
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Posted by Bette Noir on 02/18/14 at 10:57 AM
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Dispassionate Conservatism On the Move
So. That sneaky Democrat-led Senate has forced the House to go on defense and produce a new installment in its efforts to put on a happy face and win some elections, dammit!
House Republican leadership issued a new talking points memo, this week, in its series The Rebranding: How To Be. Close on the heels of their “How To Handle a Woman” memo, this latest one is directed at helping members to sound compassionate about the plight of the unemployed while denying a long-term unemployment benefit extension. Maybe the GOP will merge the two to create a separate memo for dealing with the “female unemployed”?
The hope is that a demonstration of caring will persuade the long-term unemployed to get out of their “safety net hammock” and get a job. Once that occurs, the newly employed person’s self-esteem will skyrocket and, in a show of gratitude, s/he will vote Republican.
The Washington Post, bless their hearts, obtained a copy of the actual memo which is every bit as odious as you might expect.
Read it and weep:
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 01/08/14 at 10:50 AM
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Bienvenue au Canada, Grand Dick
Now that Dick Cheney has a new heart, he’s ready to resume his role of international power-broker who leaps tall buildings in a single bound. As such, he’s taking his act on the road to renew old acquaintances with the global moneyed elite who might come in handy when La Lizzie starts campaigning hard in Wyoming.
It’s not easy, though, for a convicted war criminal to globe-trot. You are forgiven if you spend most of your time in America the Beautiful and that little-known factoid escaped your attention. But, actually yes, this all happened, last year.
Per Foreign Policy Journal:
In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.
Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their legal advisers Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, William Haynes, Jay Bybee and John Yoo were tried in absentia in Malaysia.
The trial held in Kuala Lumpur heard harrowing witness accounts from victims of torture who suffered at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They included testimony from British man Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi who was tortured in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors who were all convicted as war criminals for torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 10/30/13 at 11:07 AM
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
There are worse things than forgetting.
Via Gawker, here’s a candidate for the most crass corporate co-opting of 9/11 ever. With the exception of the event’s hostile takeover by Bush, Inc., of course.
As I was dropping my teenager off at school this morning, the radio announcer spoke the date, September 11th. The kiddo groaned, “Oh god, is it 9/11 today? That means we’ll have to watch boring movies and talk about 9/11 in every class. Again.”
She doesn’t remember 9/11, of course. She was a toddler at the time, and now she’s a lanky high schooler. 9/11 feels like a dim artifact of history to her, like the Kennedy assassination felt to us Gen Xers—an event that scarred our parents but was experienced by us kids as an iconic video. Maybe this is a good thing.
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 09/11/13 at 02:52 PM
Friday, July 19, 2013
Rubin Endorsement Dooms Cheney Senate Bid
It took a little over 24 hours for Jennifer Rubin to catch her breath, after the conservo-gastic news broke that the Cheney Dynasty lives and plans to run for public office. It was then, that a reborn Rubin tapped out her homage: Liz Cheney How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways to grace the pages of The Washington Post.
And what a load of fluffy crap it is. Rubin settled on the lazy journalist’s friend, the listicle-format, to sketch in her Top Ten Reasons that Liz Cheney is a great Senate candidate—and it’s pretty obvious that she ran out of steam (and nice things to say about Cheney) somewhere around Item #4. If these are her top ten, we really don’t want to see the rest of the list.
Also, I should note that Rubin knows she’s somewhat out on a limb with this particular viewpoint, here’s how she opens her
The clubby Senate and many in the press already are snickering at Liz Cheney’s run for the Senate.
But, of course, Rubin sometimes likes to be all maverick-y, despite her past slavish devotion to Willard Romney, the Wonder Bread of the GOP.
read the whole post »
Posted by Bette Noir on 07/19/13 at 09:46 AM
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Just Sayin’ . . .
When you look at the dark side, careful you must be.
For the dark side looks back.
Posted by Bette Noir on 07/10/13 at 03:07 PM
Friday, April 26, 2013
Too soon? Yep. Too soon.
As the push to rehabilitate the worst president in living memory proceeds apace, former Bushies are crawling out the woodwork to beg us to take another bite of the shit taco and experience anew the tasty goodness.
In a post entitled “George W. Bush is smarter than you,” someone named Keith Hennessey, the former director of the George W. Bush National Economics Council (which is like being the Emeritus Chair of the Sarah Palin Center for Teen Pregnancy Prevention—discuss!) invites citizens to “test your own assumptions and thinking about our former President” through a series of questions:
This is a hard one, for liberals only. Do you assume that he is unintelligent because he made policy choices with which you disagree?
Nope. I assume he is unintelligent (or evil, but I suspect mostly dumb because I’m charitable that way) because he made policy choices that predictably resulted in a series of world-historical clusterfucks which killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of people, looted the national treasury, subverted our moral authority, undermined our global standing and widened the wealth inequality chasm. Next?
If so, your logic may be backwards. “I disagree with choice X that President Bush made. No intelligent person could conclude X, therefore President Bush is unintelligent.”
Kind of surprising that the George W. Bush National Economics Council would appoint an eighth-grader fresh from an introduction to logic class as director. Oh wait…
Might it be possible that an intelligent, thoughtful conservative with different values and priorities than your own might have reached a different conclusion than you? Do you really think your policy views derive only from your intellect?
Uh-oh—Iooks like someone didn’t comprehend the straw man logical fallacy lesson! But let’s play along: The thing is that the aforementioned world-historical clusterfucks were predictable—and were in fact predicted in real time by many people.
It doesn’t matter if Bush’s policy views were derived from his “intellect,” Cheney’s colon or a Magic Eight Ball; they were not only wrong, they were disastrously and measurably so on virtually every important front – domestic, international, financial and social.
So a hearty “fuck off” to you, Mr. Hennessey, for having the effrontery to peddle what is demonstrably shit as Shinola while we are still digging ourselves from the reeking pile. It’s too soon for a rehab tour.
With a bit of luck, you might be able to sell this stinking load of horseshit to my great-great-grandchildren. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
[X-posted at Balloon Juice]
Posted by Betty Cracker on 04/26/13 at 10:45 AM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The Commander in Chief Does Not Get a Mulligan
Charlie Pierce has a great piece up detailing the efforts of the right to use the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library as an occasion to give Dubya a mulligan on 9/11 by repeating the mantra that “he kept us safe” afterwards.
Thus do we confront what we can call The Great Mulligan, which is granted by the dimmer lights in the chandelier to the president and to the national security team — Hi, Condi! — who presided over the most massive intelligence failure in American history, and over the greatest loss of life to an enemy attack on American soil since everybody hugged it out at Appomattox. This has popped up from time to time in the years since it became obvious what a complete and utter failure the Bush presidency really was. Sorry we lied you into a war, but we kept you safe. Sorry we demolished American values, and just about every shred of American moral credibility in the world, but we kept you safe. Sorry we let New Orleans drown, but we kept you safe. Sorry we allowed the national economy to blow up, but we kept you safe. In fact, if you sent C-Plus Augustus into his own museum, and had him take that interactive quiz, and provided he didn’t break a thumb trying to get a Diet Coke out of the exhibit, his answer to everything would be I kept you safe.
Go read the rest. You’ll be glad you did.
Posted by marindenver on 04/24/13 at 03:30 PM
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Jeb, This is Awkward
You know, I really don’t want to be back talking about 2016, but Jeb was all over the Sunday shows, and it was hard not to look at it as being possibly just as much about 2016 as about peddling his book. And yes, maybe it’s a little bit like being a “crack addict” to speculate about this—but really? Are we going to shrug off the legacy of big bro’ as “not baggage”?
Heavy sigh. The last quarter-century is all about Bushes. There is no escape here. How to explain?
That outsider artist reinventing himself as a premier puppy painter? Is forever linked with an Administration that oversaw a war in Iraq that will always be associated with gross abuse. (I wonder if there isn’t something in W that makes him uniquely suited to capturing the soul of puppies. They, too, are scolded for making messes they don’t entirely understand and aren’t sure what they should do to fix.)
But Jeb himself isn’t quite ready to articulate a vision for the future, at odds with his book, at odds with interviews of mere days ago. He can invoke the Reagan Administration of which his own father was a part as a time of less partisanship—but it doesn’t help him begin to explain how to arrive at a less-partisan future—anymore than his brother’s “compassionate conservatism” did. Not when the 1988 campaign of his father against Dukakis was one of the most wedge-issue-tainted smear-jobs. Not when the first Gulf War has so much to do with a very specific vision of power and patriotism. That is what W inherited—and it’s Jeb’s legacy, too, like it or not. Which is why he’s spinning like a tire in a damp rut over immigration. Does he, like his father, supposedly lack “the vision thing”? Or has he only seen too much?
No matter. Na’gonna happen. Not even if folks in the Beltway bubble want to make it happen.
(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged)
Posted by Vixen Strangely on 03/10/13 at 10:24 PM