Sunday, October 24, 2010

Last Call

Either you choose to give into firebagging the Democrats and hand the country over to the Republicans...

If Democratic candidates are counting on long-standing support from gay voters to help stave off big losses on Nov. 2, they could be in for a surprise.

Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry — at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy — and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates.

President Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago, with its large, politically and socially active gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, offers a snapshot of what some are calling the "enthusiasm gap" between voters who came out strong for Obama and other Democrats in 2008 and re-energized Republican base voters, including tea party enthusiasts who say they are primed to storm the polls.

...or you choose to realize that forfeiting your vote is pointless cynicism that plays into the hands of the GOP.

The message behind a short-lived but highly publicized ad was clear: Latinos, stay home.

Voter suppression isn’t usually marketed as voter empowerment. But in the ad by Latinos for Reform, an independent campaigning group led by career conservative Robert de Posada, the paradox was presented as plain sense: Because the Democrats haven’t delivered on immigration, exercise your right to vote by not doing so.

It’s advice that, if followed in Nevada, would all but assuredly play to the benefit of the GOP, which has seen Hispanics move away from the Republican Party as they grow in the state electorate.

But the fever-pitch backlash to this advertisement suggests the message could bring about just the opposite effect, by energizing a Hispanic voting bloc that may have been lethargic with a new and compelling reason to get out and vote — by and large, for Democrats.

If you don't vote, if you refuse to participate in order to punish one party, then you have no right to complain when the other party takes control and works to eliminate your rights even more.

Fragments Of Credibility

It's called "Fragmentary Order 242" and you're going to be hearing a lot about it over the next few weeks and months.  "Frago 242" is what the US Military in Iraq issued to look the other way on torture and possible war crimes, done in our name.

This is the impact of Frago 242. A frago is a "fragmentary order" which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, "only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ".

Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands. In effect, it means that the regime has been forced to change its political constitution but allowed to retain its use of torture.

The systematic viciousness of the old dictatorship when Saddam Hussein's security agencies enforced order without any regard for law continues, reinforced by the chaotic savagery of the new criminal, political and sectarian groups which have emerged since the invasion in 2003 and which have infiltrated some police and army units, using Iraq's detention cells for their private vendettas.

Hundreds of the leaked war logs reflect the fertile imagination of the torturer faced with the entirely helpless victim – bound, gagged, blindfolded and isolated – who is whipped by men in uniforms using wire cables, metal rods, rubber hoses, wooden stakes, TV antennae, plastic water pipes, engine fan belts or chains. At the torturer's whim, the logs reveal, the victim can be hung by his wrists or by his ankles; knotted up in stress positions; sexually molested or raped; tormented with hot peppers, cigarettes, acid, pliers or boiling water – and always with little fear of retribution since, far more often than not, if the Iraqi official is assaulting an Iraqi civilian, no further investigation will be required.

Most of the victims are young men, but there are also logs which record serious and sexual assaults on women; on young people, including a boy of 16 who was hung from the ceiling and beaten; the old and vulnerable, including a disabled man whose damaged leg was deliberately attacked. The logs identify perpetrators from every corner of the Iraqi security apparatus – soldiers, police officers, prison guards, border enforcement patrols.

There is no question of the coalition forces not knowing that their Iraqi comrades are doing this: the leaked war logs are the internal records of those forces.

If anything, WikiLeaks and Frago 242 have made very public what critics of the war and whose who demanded that the Obama administration investigate these Bush-era abuses were saying all along, that we turned a blind eye to torture in order to keep the country together as a whole...and the reason the country was flying apart was because we invaded them in the first damn place over non-existent ties to 9/11 and decades-old mustard gas artillery shells.

Frago 242 meant pretending none of this was happening.  But it did happen, and the documents are there to record the incidents.  This went on all over the wonder the Bush administration had no issues with doing much the same to our own captured "suspects" in order to "win" Bush's bloody mess of a war.

It is monstrous.  And now, the UN wants Obama's DoJ to investigate the human rights violations...and possible war crimes.

The United Nations' point man on torture is calling on the Obama administration to open a full investigation into newly-released documents that suggest the US may have turned a blind eye to torture in Iraq.

Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, told the BBC Saturday that the US has an "obligation" to look into reports of torture within the nearly 400,000 war documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday.

The documents chronicle numerous allegations of torture by Iraqi forces against their own citizens, as well as what appears to have been a standing order in the US military to ignore the allegations -- potentially a violation of international conventions on torture.

"There is an obligation to investigate whenever there are credible allegations torture has happened – and these allegations are more than credible – and then it is up to the courts," Nowak, an Austrian human rights lawyer, said, as quoted at the Telegraph.

I don't see how Obama has much of a choice here.   What's left of our credibility as a country is at stake here.  If we do nothing, then we're no better than all the rogue states we complain about. 

Probably why I expect him to do nothing.  No President would.

Oiled Up, Bend Over...Again

Don't look now, but the oil's still in the Gulf of Mexico, folks.

The oil was sighted in West Bay, which covers approximately 35 square miles of open water between Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the river, and Tiger Pass near Venice. Boat captains working the BP clean-up effort said they have been reporting large areas of surface oil off the delta for more than a week but have seen little response from BP or the Coast Guard, which is in charge of the clean-up. The captains said most of their sightings have occurred during stretches of calm weather, similar to what the area has experienced most of this week.

On Friday reports included accounts of strips of the heavily weathered orange oil that became a signature image of the spill during the summer. One captain said some strips were as much as 400 feet wide and a mile long.

The captains did not want to be named for fear of losing their clean-up jobs with BP.

Coast Guard officials Friday said a boat had been dispatched to investigate the sightings, but that a report would not be available until Saturday morning.

However, Times-Picayune photojournalist Matt Hinton confirmed the sightings in an over-flight of West Bay.
Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said if the sightings are confirmed by his agency, the area will be reclosed to fishing until it is confirmed oil-free again.

It never went anywhere, except out of sight and out of mind.  And we're going to be slogging through this mess for decades.  We can fish when it's oil-free?  Good luck on that.

Finding Old Ghosts

Arguably the largest news from Friday's WikiLeaks docu-dump is what qualified as WMDs in Iraq:  decades-old chemical weapons from the 80's and 90's discovered and filed away as the Bush administration made sure the military scoured the country for nuclear or biological weapons.  Danger Room has the details:

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.
In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base.
Three months later, in northern Iraq, U.S. scouts went to look in on a “chemical weapons” complex. “One of the bunkers has been tampered with,” they write. “The integrity of the seal [around the complex] appears intact, but it seems someone is interesting in trying to get into the bunkers.”

Meanwhile, the second battle of Fallujah was raging in Anbar province. In the southeastern corner of the city, American forces came across a “house with a chemical lab … substances found are similar to ones (in lesser quantities located a previous chemical lab.” The following day, there’s a call in another part of the city for explosive experts to dispose of a “chemical cache.”
Nearly three years later, American troops were still finding WMD in the region. An armored Buffalo vehicle unearthed a cache of artillery shells “that was covered by sacks and leaves under an Iraqi Community Watch checkpoint. “The 155mm rounds are filled with an unknown liquid, and several of which are leaking a black tar-like substance.” Initial tests were inconclusive. But later, “the rounds tested positive for mustard.”

Old mustard gas artillery shells are apparently all the justification needed for killing 100,000+ civilians.  As Sully points out:

I know of no incident when these weapons were actually used against US troops. And the irony, of course, is that it was the invasion that gave insurgents and Islamists access to these remnants.

Mission Accomplished!

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Still My Enemy

Steve M. catches this Peter Baker column in the NY Times this morning.

The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an enemy. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, they shoulder responsibility for the country’s troubles. No amount of venting about George W. Bush or the filibuster rule has convinced the public otherwise. But if Republicans capture Congress, Mr. Obama will finally have a foil heading toward his own re-election battle in 2012.

“The best possible result for Obama politically is for the Republicans to gain control of both houses,” said Douglas E. Schoen, a Democratic pollster and strategist who helped President Bill Clinton recover from his own midterm Congressional defeat in 1994 to win re-election two years later. “That’s what Obama should want.” 

Ahh yes, here it comes, the Golden Clintonian Path, as espoused by our old friend Doug Schoen again.  Steve M. reminds us that painting the GOP as the enemy did nothing for Obama in the first two years.

Attacks on the Bush presidency, and warnings that Republican successes in the midterms will bring us Bush 2.0, actually make it harder for the public to understand what's going on. Attacking Bush reinforces the impression that Republicans had power then; warning of a possible upcoming era of neo-Bushism suggests that Republicans could misuse power in the future. All of this makes it hard for voters who aren't politics wonks to grasp the fact that Republicans, using the filibuster and relentless party discipline, have a hell of a lot of power right now, and are abusing it.

Steve is correct.   But what Peter Baker's real job here happens to be is playing the Centrist Dalek card.

Mr. Clinton employed a triangulation strategy after Mr. Gingrich’s Republicans took control, trying to play off both his own party as well as the empowered opposition. He declared the era of big government over and cut deals with Mr. Gingrich on welfare reform, while positioning himself as a bulwark against Republican excesses during the budget battle that led to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

“The Republican victory in 1994 saved the Clinton presidency,” said Mr. Gillon, “because it freed him from the liberal wing of his party and allowed him to be more nimble and flexible, which he’s brilliant at. And it forced the Republicans to develop a governing philosophy. A campaign slogan may get you through Election Day but it doesn’t help you solve these very difficult problems.” 

THE OBAMA WILL TRIANGULAAAAATE!  or he will be blamed for all problems.  Assuming the Republicans will even attempt to work with Obama is asinine.  They will want 100% of what they want, if Obama doesn't sign it into law they will impeach him.  It really is that simple.  And as usual, for "Obama to win" he must lurch far to the right as he can...and still get impeached for it by the Republicans.

The Teabaggers will demand it.

The Ol' Sacrifice Play

Over at National Review, Andy McCarthy argues that if Republicans can't end NPR, there's no way you can believe them on ending Obamacare, so to prove they are serious fiscal gangsta badasses they have to kill a media outlet.

So here is the question: Why does a country that is trillions in debt, and in which people have unlimited options for obtaining information, need NPR? More to the point, why do we need to fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which keeps NPR afloat?  

The whole "we can't X with a deficit this big" argument is so much sophistry,  but that's just an excuse to flog his bigoted ignorance against Muslims to justify it.

Juan Williams said things anyone with an ounce of common sense knows to be true: “When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

So do I. So do most of us. This is not mindless, noxious prejudice. There is a context: Muslim terrorists used airliners to attack us. And as Williams pointed out, the terrorist convicted of trying to massacre New Yorkers by bombing Times Square just reaffirmed the oft-repeated jihadist promise that there is much blood left to be spilt.

But wait a second, the PC police tut-tut, Williams didn’t just indict terrorists; he smeared everyone who merely dresses like a Muslim. Yeah, right: Save that for the CAIR sensitivity-training class, just down the hall from the FBI’s next Citizens Academy — you’ll be sure to get an A+. To the rest of us benighted slugs, it seems fairly obvious that most Muslims in the West do not appear “in Muslim garb.” To the extent they concern themselves with scripture at all in this area, most American Muslims construe sharia simply to call for sartorial modesty — be dignified, but neither flashy nor slovenly.

For Islamists, on the other hand, clothing oneself is not about achieving modesty but announcing oneself, first and foremost, as a Muslim. To be sure, some such Muslims are just being pious, not exhibitionistic. Still, it is simply a fact that many men who don robes and skull-caps, and many women who shroud themselves in the niqab, abaya, or burqa, are making a very conscious statement that they reject the West. Though living in it, they have no intention of assimilating into it.

Only dangerous, evil, Islamist Muslims dress in "Muslim garb" and they're all baby-eating killers.  So, he's not prejudiced against all Muslims, just the really scary ones who don't wear Old Navy.  Clearly, anyone who actually would dress in "Muslim garb" hate America and want to crash airplanes into buildings, otherwise they'd dress like Americans, dammit!

Oh but he's not done yet.

Williams miscalculated. He figured that because he is a long-standing member of the NPR-certified Society of the Slavishly Right-Thinking, he could safely stroll a few steps off the reservation. Too bad he was wrong, but at least he got the chance to miscalculate. On the political right, we get no chance. In the NPR world Williams helped foster, we’re already condemned. It wouldn’t even occur to us to ask for the can’t-we-talk-about-this-face-to-face meeting that NPR denied to a stunned Williams despite his years of faithful service. Like the NPR news chief told him, there’s nothing we can say that will change their minds.

Yeah, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and other right-wing commentators get no chance when they clearly say anything racist, bigoted, inflammatory or just plain stupid.  Beck, in particular, gets fired five or six times a day and is flat broke, and El Rushbo lives under a bridge in Milwaukee.  Unlike Juan Williams, who was too stupid to see that African-Americans are kept "on the reservation" by the evil liberal media.  Hahaha, what a doofus!

So we have to get rid of the evil liberal media starting with the mind-altering propaganda machine that is Prairie Home Companion, or the Republicans are fiscal austerity poseurs!  Why, the CPB costs millions!

Oh yes, and while we're at it, their not fiscally serious unless we get those hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the richest 5% we can easily afford because tax cuts don't count.

That's being serious about fiscal restraint.  You know, like ordering ten thousand Chicken McNuggets and a Diet Coke.  Folks, the only thing that needs to be cut around here is Andy McCarthy's paycheck.
Related Posts with Thumbnails