Sunday, April 26, 2009

Last Call

64% of Minnesotans want Norm Coleman to frickin' concede already. Having lived in Minnesota, I can tell you that if 64% of Minnesotans are sick of your ass, then you really have overstayed your welcome and are really very much being a complete asshole. Other states would have kicked your ass out months ago. Sixty-four percent means a healthy chunk of people who voted for Norm Coleman are now freely admitting "Hey, you lost. Get over it."

Concede already, man. Your former constituents have spoken.

Another Good Guy

Add Nicholas Kristof to the list of Villagers who understand the concept of rule of law and exactly why a transparent public commission on investigating torture is absolutely needed.
There are three solid reasons for a national commission:

First, it could help forge a consensus against torture, for almost everyone in the national security world believes that the result would be a ringing affirmation that we should not torture.

It’s in Mr. Obama’s interest to reach such a consensus, because otherwise the next major terror attack — and there will be one — will be followed by Republican claims that the president’s wimpishness left America vulnerable. His agenda on health care, climate change and education will then risk a collapse into dream dust. The way to inoculate his agenda is to seek common ground through a nonpartisan commission.

Second, a commission could help restore America’s standing by distancing ourselves from past abuses. Alberto Mora, a former general counsel for the Navy, has said that some flag-rank officers believe that Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo constitute “the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq,” because they galvanized jihadis. An Air Force major and interrogator of prisoners who goes by the pseudonym Matthew Alexander told Harper’s Magazine that “hundreds but more likely thousands of American lives” were lost because of “the policy decision to introduce the torture and abuse of prisoners.”

Third, a commission could help counterterrorism efforts. Foreign governments have been wary of cooperating with us for fear of being tarnished by scandal. At home, Arab-American and Somali-American communities have been leery of reporting tips because they see the authorities as unjust and hostile to Muslims.

“Oftentimes, the communities from which we need the most help are those who trust us the least,” Robert Mueller, the F.B.I. director, told the Council on Foreign Relations recently. Last fall, a Somali-American was among a group of suicide bombers who killed more than 20 people in the northern Somalia; he may have been the first American citizen to commit such a suicide attack.

There’s no magic bullet to prevent that from happening in Minneapolis next time, but a truth commission would perhaps be one way to clear the air, build trust among American Muslims and improve counterterrorism.
There's a clear concept here: such a commission would only help America's efforts to stop terror attacks.

This is the best argument I've heard yet for convincing the Jack Bauer crowd that we need an investigation.

An Ounce Of Prevention

The White House is taking the swine flu outbreak very seriously.
In an unusual Sunday briefing at the White House, administration officials said a “public health emergency” is being declared in the United States in order to mobilize maximum resources to combat fears of a global swine-flu pandemic.

The term "sounds more severe than it really is," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who called the measure "standard operating procedure," adding, “I wish we could call it a declaration of emergency preparedness.” The same measures, she said, were taken for the inauguration and in cases of flood and hurricane.

Acting CDC Director Richard Besser said that health officials have reported 20 U.S. cases across five states – California, Kansas, New York, Ohio, and Texas – and expect the numbers to rise as doctors perform more tests to detect the illness, and warned that "more severe" cases are likely to surface here.

While the disease, which appears to have originated in Mexico, has killed more than 80 there and infected over 1,300, there have been no fatal American infections so far.

The government said it will release 25 percent of its stockpiles of the flu-fighting drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. Texas governor Rick Perry had previously requested 37,430 doses of Tamiflu be sent to his state from the Strategic National Stockpile.
And while this emergency is certainly concerning, it's also a major reminder that playing politics with something like a national health emergency is abhorrent. It's important to note that political actions have real world consequences. Right now, we have no Health and Human Services Secretary during this health emergency. Nor do we have a Surgeon General. Why? Republicans and religious conservatives have blocked votes and held up procedures and continue to do so.

So think about that. We have a national health emergency as of today...and nearly 100 days into this administration, no HHS Secretary or Surgeon General to lead America's response to it. Mexico went to Canada first to diagnose swine flu, NOT the United States, because America's health emergency response is being held up by Republicans more worried about controlling the uterus rather than controlling a pandemic.

Why, the Wingers are outraged at Obama's inability to respond to this health crisis with no HHS Secretary or Surgeon General, and of course that leaves Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security who the Wingers want fired anyway. It's his Katrina moment! (You know, just like his last Katrina moment.) I'm sure the lack of cabinet heads has nothing to do with the speed of our response.

Which party is endangering the country again? Here's a hint, it's not the Democrats.

[UPDATE] DDay points out the blinding speed at which Texas Gov. Rick "The Federal Government Should Stick Strictly To Its Constitutional Duties, The Rest Is The Clear Dominion Of Individual States" Perry is once again asking for federal resources on the swine flu issue.

Hey, secessionists? Is asking the feds for Tamiflu in the Constitution? No? Well then, I guess you're on your own, right? But I thought the Federal government was evil and run by a fascist usurper that we must resist with our last ounce of blood?

Zandar's Thought Of the Day

A WaPo poll finds Americans are pretty evenly split on the torture question, with 75% of Democrats wanting investigations and 74% of Republicans not wanting them. If wanting investigations of the Bush torture regime is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt that "assures another 9/11 attack", doesn't that mean by the same logic that NOT wanting investigations means this is a partisan cover-up that "assures another Watergate scandal"?

At what point does rule of law and the Geneva Conventions enter into the debate here? Oh wait, I'm sorry, terrorists never signed on to those, so it makes it okay for us to break them.

So, I guess a corrupt government is better than dead Americans! Take that, libtards!

Of course, that logic is a complete fallacy to begin with, but that's besides the point. When we've become more worried that the risk of doing justice now outweighs the possibility that we might cause harm or injustice later, then we're no longer a country of laws.

David Waldman has more.

A Wingnut Pandemic Of Stupidity

Naturally, the Wingers see the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico as unequivocal proof that we need 40 foot high electrified border fences guarded by turbolaser towers to keep the filthy, diseased illegals out of the country. Malkinvania and her ilk are quick to point out that the AFOP has now set us up for death by killer flu.

It hasn't occurred to any of these meatheads that the fastest path from Mexico City to Manhattan is called "an airplane taken by an American business traveler or vacationing family."

Sure, we could do a better job on the borders. Absolutely. Blaming Obama for this? Idiotic. Not to mention if the President made the same public safety moves that Mexican President Calderon is doing (advising all to wear face masks, closing schools, museums and other public places) then let's not forget Michelle Malkin would be the first person to go into an unrestrained screaming fit calling Obama the worst fascist America had ever seen, and that his Soviet gulag-era tactics to restrain American freedom would just be the beginning of the end of America.

Let's be honest here, people. If Obama doesn't say "Let's lock America down, nobody gets in, nobody gets out" he'll be blamed by these assholes for putting us at risk from FILTHY MEXICAN DEATH FLU on purpose, and it's proof Obama is a fascist dictator threatening our very lives and that we would need to rise up against the Kenyan usurper's illegal government and defend ourselves against enemies at our borders by whatever means necessary.

If he does implement public health and safety measures like this, of course that would mean Obama is implementing the policies of one world government by taking our guns and taking over the country to install himself as Leader For Life, and it's proof Obama is a fascist dictator threatening our very lives and that we would need to rise up against the Kenyan usurper's illegal government and defend ourselves against enemies within our borders by whatever means necessary.

He can't win with this crowd, so it's best to take anything they say with a ton of salt and cotton in your ears. Which is sad, because there is a real concern here for public health, and it's being used as a vehicle instead to attack Obama. Either way the Wingers get to have their WOLVEREEEEEEEEEENES! fantasy about shooting Latinos with the sniffles, or shooting jackbooted Gubment Thugs.

What a great bunch of people, huh?

It All Came Back To Iraq

Frank Rich discovers journalism again (and it is a glorious thing, truly) as somebody in the Village finally writes the torture memo column that needed to be written. Rich makes two excellent points on the torture of Abu Zubaydah:
In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee’s memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) “Downing Street memo,” in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” A month after Bybee’s memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on “Meet the Press,” hyping both Saddam’s W.M.D.s and the “number of contacts over the years” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.

But there were no links between 9/11 and Iraq, and the White House knew it. Torture may have been the last hope for coercing such bogus “intelligence” from detainees who would be tempted to say anything to stop the waterboarding.
Indeed, in the end, everything was about selling the Iraq War to America and the world. Should we be surprised that an administration that made lies up wholesale to get us into war with a country that didn't attack us, wasn't capable of hurting us, and will now hate us for generations?
Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.

Levin suggests — and I agree — that as additional fact-finding plays out, it’s time for the Justice Department to enlist a panel of two or three apolitical outsiders, perhaps retired federal judges, “to review the mass of material” we already have. The fundamental truth is there, as it long has been. The panel can recommend a legal path that will insure accountability for this wholesale betrayal of American values.

President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don’t need another commission. We don’t need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
From Frank Rich's computer to America's ears. Not everybody in the Village is completely corrupt, it turns out. Some of them still believe in America.

I only hope that Obama and Eric Holder are willing to do what has to be done. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but America has taken the easy way out once too many times. It's high time we started acting like America again.

"But Zandar," you say, "Rasmussen says 58% of Americans don't want further investigations of Bush. How can you possibly justify doing so? It will destroy the country!"

To which I say "We are either a country ultimately ruled by laws, or ruled by men. Choose wisely."
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