The Big “I”

by lestro

Impeachment is once again back in the news and once again not on the table for the Democratic leadership, although it sounds like Nancy Pelosi might be willing to talk, even if it is now almost too late:

Pressed on ABC’s “The View” about whether she had unilaterally disarmed, the author of “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters” said she believed the proceedings would be too divisive and be a distraction from advancing the policy agenda of the new Democratic majority.

Then she added this qualifier: “If somebody had a crime that the president had committed, that would be a different story.”

That assertion only threw fuel on the impeachment fire as advocates of removing Mr. Bush cited the 35 articles of impeachment compiled by Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, as well as accusations in a new book by author Ron Suskind of White House orders to falsify intelligence, an accusation that has been denied.

Kucinich, you crazy little bastard, God love ya!

But as the story points out, the Democratic leadership absolutely does not want any part of an impeachment battle:

Despite whatever resonance pursuing the president might have in progressive Democratic circles, it is not the message Democrats want to carry into an election where they need to appeal to swing voters to increase their Congressional majorities and win the White House.

They would rather devote their final weeks to pushing economic relief and health care, even if they thought Mr. Bush and the conduct of the war merited impeachment hearings.

And leading Democrats argue anyway that Mr. Bush has already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.

“He has been impeached by current history,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “He is going down as the worst president ever. The facts are in.”

To me, that is not enough. I think there needs to be a bitchslap in the historical record to let future generations know that what this president and this administration did were wrong and unamerican and violate almost everything we are supposed to believe in.

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Tenet admits to ‘efforts’ by the Bush Administration to fake Iraq evidence

by twit

So there’s a book out that claims that somebody in the Bush Administration faked a letter to show a link between Iraq and al-Qaida. In the mad scramble of denials that have followed, former CIA Director George Tenet makes an interesting dodge:

Tenet, in a statement distributed by the White House, also issued a denial about the supposedly fake letter. “There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort,” he said.

“It is well established that, at my direction, CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the administration to paint a picture of Iraqi-al-Qaida connections that went beyond the evidence,” Tenet said. “The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous.”

The White House is distributing a denial that says it is “well established” that ‘some people in the Bush Administration made efforts to pressure the CIA to distort the evidence.’

Wait, what? People in the Bush Administration were leading efforts to get the CIA to create and plant false evidence?

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The Bush Administration works hard to set the terrorists free

by twit

It has always been an indisputable point of logic that torture does not produce reliable confessions. A person subject to torture will say what they need to say in order to stop the pain.

For example, the Atlantic notes in October 2003:

Few support the use of physical pressure to extract confessions, especially because victims will often say anything (to the point of falsely incriminating themselves) to put an end to pain.

Enter the Bush Administration, and its voracious appetite for torturing suspected terrorists. I have little doubt that they got some great sounding stuff from the waterboarding and other tactics that have been reported on over these past few years.

The issue of whether torture is an effective interrogation method needs no high and mighty ideals of human rights and liberties to make it an unacceptable practice. It is a matter of simple logic, one that should have been obvious to anyone responsible with producing evidence for a criminal or war crimes trial.

As of today, logic and the rule of law prevails:

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – The judge in the first American war crimes trial since World War II barred evidence on Monday that interrogators obtained from Osama bin Laden’s driver following his capture in Afghanistan.

… The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said the prosecution cannot use a series of interrogations at the Bagram air base and Panshir, Afghanistan, because of the “highly coercive environments and conditions under which they were made.”

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Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Karl Rove Over

by squishmael

This kind of thing is what makes my stomach turn. Karl Rove has thumbed his nose at the law of the land and what is worse is that I don’t doubt that he’ll get away with it somehow.

I have no long-winded rant ready to unleash on anyone who might happen to stumble upon this post, but, the whole idea that the Bush administration can even entertain the prospect of getting away with this is, to say the least, disturbing.

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Biofuels are a crime against humanity

by twit

We should have known something was wrong the instant biofuels became so enthusiastically supported by the Bush Administration, but it still is something of a surprise that the World Bank has for months sat on a report that details the crimes against humanity caused by the biofuels industry.

Fortunately, there is someone with a conscience working at the World Bank who helpfully leaked the “damning” report to the media. Via the Guardian on July 4, 2008:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.

The World Bank report also includes an analysis of what this means for the world:

Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line, estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt. Government ministers here have described higher food and fuel prices as “the first real economic crisis of globalisation”.

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The Coming War with Iran

by twit

It looks like President Bush has had a hard-on for an invasion of Iran for awhile now. Way back on April 17, 2006, Seymour Hersh writes for the New Yorker:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped.

He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.”

He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

Indeed. But it may have something to do with the practice of “stovepiping,” described by Seymour Hersh on February 11, 2008:

It is possible that Israel conveyed intelligence directly to senior members of the Bush Administration, without it being vetted by intelligence agencies. (This process, known as “stovepiping,” overwhelmed U.S. intelligence before the war in Iraq.)

That’s right. The Bush Administration is so competent in the arts of war and intelligence gathering, they apparently often bypass the regular sources and methods to collect the information they then use to implement their policy goals.

This all sounds so damn familiar

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Dennis Kucinich is a sexy, sexy man

by twit

Rowr:

An Ohio Democratic lawmaker and former presidential candidate has presented articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to Congress.

Thirty-five articles were presented by Rep. Dennis Kucinich to the House of Representatives late Monday evening, airing live on C-SPAN.

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I’ll believe it when I see it

by twit

From thehill.com on May 28, 2008:

http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc173/jbl55/RovesFrogMarch.jpg

“Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said that the House Judiciary Committee would be willing to arrest Karl Rove if the former White House official doesn’t testify about his role in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.”

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In Golf We Trust

by twit

Olbermann has some choice words for Bush about his claim of sacrificing golf out of respect for families of soldiers lost in his wars:

via Buzzfeed.

nuclear fuses? what nuclear fuses?

by lestro

oh! you mean the ones we didn’t even know we lost?

“The U.S. Air Force mistakenly shipped fuses that are used in nuclear weapons to Taiwan in 2006, believing the crates contained helicopter batteries, officials at the Pentagon announced this morning.

The error — undetected by the United States until last week, despite repeated inquiries by Taiwan — raises questions about how carefully the Pentagon safeguards its weapons systems.”

I am at a complete loss on this one. Yet not surprised. Goooooo Romper Room!

and this is obviously a lie:

“There are multiple players, there are multiple parties involved,” said Ryan Henry, principal undersecretary of defense policy. “We’ll do a thorough investigation, and those who are found responsible will be held accountable.”

No one has EVER been held responsible for ANYTHING in the Bush administration. With the possible exception of Brownie, who was doing a heckuva job until a scape goat was needed.

But luckily, the US moved quickly when it realized its mistake, right?

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whatever the President says must be true

by lestro

the subhead says it all. From the Washington Post:

Ozone Rules Weakened at Bush’s Behest
EPA Scrambles To Justify Action

The EPA should never have to “scramble” to “justify” something. If they do, that probably means that it is a bad move that the EPA shouldn’t have supported but had to because of the politicization of every goddamn agency in Washington.

This is yet another example of how this administration has forgotten that they are supposed to be there doing the people’s business and not that of their buddies. Kind of like the AG forgetting he’s the country’s lawyer, not the president’s.

The EPA officials are supposed to be scientists, not politicians and their findings are supposed to based on fact, not on campaign contributions or ideology.

ITMFA. I mean, come on:

EPA officials initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under the law. While their proposal was less restrictive than what the EPA’s scientific advisers had proposed, Bush overruled EPA officials and on Tuesday ordered the agency to increase the limit, according to the documents.

“It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA’s expert scientific judgment,” said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The president’s order prompted a scramble by administration officials to rewrite the regulations to avoid a conflict with past EPA statements on the harm caused by ozone.

Solicitor General Paul D. Clement warned administration officials late Tuesday night that the rules contradicted the EPA’s past submissions to the Supreme Court, according to sources familiar with the conversation. As a consequence, administration lawyers hustled to craft new legal justifications for the weakened standard.

craft new legal justifications”? that’s fucking ridiculous. what that means, in basic english is “either make up the rules as we go along or change the rules to fit our needs.” and that’s no way to run a country.

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war is fun

by twit

Bush listens to military and civilian personnel on the front lines describe how difficult operations are in Afghanistan, and in a Ferraro-esque display of self-absorption and abandonment of reality, suggests they should quit complaining and instead be more appreciative of the ‘fantastic’ and ‘exciting’ experiences of war and reconstruction.

From Reuters on March 14, 2008, with emphasis added:

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/N/b/bush_finger_thumbnail.jpg

I must say, I’m a little envious,” Bush said. “If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.”

It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.

You’re really making history, and thanks,” Bush said.

The Raw Story notes on March 13, 2008 that an upcoming conference is going to highlight “some pretty fucked-up shit” from the experiences of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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yeah, can I get a grande torturecinno, extra foam?

by lestro

So as if it wasn’t enough last week for the Attorney General to admit to Congress that the Bush Administration no longer even pretends to obey the Geneva Convention or the US Constitution due to the use of the technique known as waterboarding (regarded as torture pretty much everywhere in the world except the White House), today we get absolute and definite proof of the United States using torture:

The admissions made by the men — who were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — played a key role in the government’s decision to proceed with the prosecutions, military and law enforcement officials said.

Starbucks?! Good god, I’ll talk! Just stop burning your coffee! The reason their lattes are so popular is because the only way their coffee is drinkable is to cut half of it with milk.

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Bush tries reverse psychology, fails miserably

by twit

Via Think Progress Feb 10, 2008:

In an interview with Fox News, President Bush argued that if his agenda and record are made central issues in the upcoming presidential election, then the Republican nominee stands “a better chance of winning” because the election won’t be about him:

My attitude is, so long as they’re talking about me, we have a better chance of winning because our candidate will — what’s going to matter is not the past but the future when it comes to campaigns.

If the Democrat Party feels like they can win an election by focusing on me, I think they’d be making a huge tactical mistake. But I hope they do that then because our candidate will be able to talk about the future.

Videos and the punchline after the jump…

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so long and thanks for the plankton

by twit

I realize it sounds like “good news” because for now, the Bush Administration just got smacked by a federal judge, but I’m not optimistic about how a constitutional showdown in the US Supreme Court might turn out.  November 2008 just seems a little too far away to make a difference to the world’s remaining whale population.

From the Associated Press via TBO.com on Feb 4, 2008:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Navy must follow environmental laws placing strict limits on sonar training that opponents argue harms whales, despite President Bush’s decision to exempt it, a federal judge ruled Monday.

The Navy is not “exempted from compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act” and a court injunction creating a 12 nautical-mile no-sonar zone off Southern California, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper wrote in a 36-page decision.

“We disagree with the judge’s decision,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “We believe the orders are legal and appropriate.”

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peace and serenity

by twit

bb.spiral.earthwork.1.30.08

pretty.

although according to Boing Boing, not if the Bush Administration has anything to say about it plans to develop the area for oil drilling continue.

Made in France – False Statements

by the squid

So finally, some poor graduate students were asked to over all the rhetoric leading up the the Iraq war. They found 935 false statements.

“The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.”

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better late than never

by lestro

The basic idea behind the American Constitution is as simple as it is elegant: checks and balances.

It was designed to prevent any one branch from getting too carried away with itself.  Congress makes the laws, but they need the President’s stamp of approval.  The president can negotiate treaties, but the Senate approves them.  The Judiciary plays referee, and those folks get appointed and approved.

With this and the very real memory and fear of a powerful tyrant who ruled above the law, they made sure to include in the power of impeachment, for the relatively vague phrase of ‘crimes and misdemeanors.’

But a look at Federalist Paper #65, by Alexander Hamilton, provides a better idea of what they mean by that:

The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.

(the emphasis on “political” is Hamilton’s.)

Because of this, however, he also acknowledges the danger that they become “regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

To help with that risk, they even split the power of impeachment again, with the House of Representatives bringing charges before the Senate, while the Chief Justice presides.

Two presidents have been impeached in our history, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.  Neither was convicted by the Senate and in both cases, the impeachment hearings were decidedly political and that, rightfully so, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

However, the very real purpose of impeachment, the check on the consolidation of power in one branch, is not one that should so easily be tossed aside. The Democratic leadership, in a seemingly political decision, has decided to take impeachment “off the table,” as they say, despite a multitude of offenses which very easily fit the criteria Hamilton so elegantly laid out.

True, President Bush would probably not be removed from office and the whole procedure would jam up the system in a year when the focus should be on the future, not the past.  But it is nearly the responsibility of Congress to at least try to acknowledge that the President has gone too far, consolidated too much power and needs to be taken out behind the woodshed and checked and/or balanced.

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