Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Last Call For Done In Our Name

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on Bush/Cheney era torture of detainees by the CIA is out, and it details nothing short of absolutely Inquisition levels of physical and mental torture.

Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.'s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.'s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.”

The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water at the prison in Afghanistan commonly known as the Salt Pit — a facility where the C.I.A. had claimed that waterboarding was never used. One clandestine officer described the prison as a “dungeon,” and another said that some prisoners there “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”

And surprise!  Dick Cheney lied out of his ass about this program too.  Torture provided no useful, actionable intelligence whatsoever, but we did it anyway, and we kept doing it.

Monstrous.  Heads should roll for this, but of course they won't.

The release of the Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques prompted the Justice Department to say that it stands by its decision not to bring criminal charges after its own probe five years ago. "That review generated two criminal investigations, but the Department of Justice ultimately declined those cases for prosecution, because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain convictions beyond a reasonable doubt," the agency said in a statement Tuesday.
Oh well.  I guess that's that then.

Gitmo will remain open and CIA black sites will continue to hold detainees infinitely and nobody will ever be responsible for what was done in our name.

But the report dumps it all on the CIA, and not of course Bush/Cheney.  So we'll hear some paeans to "reform" and nothing will happen, and all this will happen again, if it's not happening now.

Same as it ever was.

Snake And Onions For Breakfast

After a dispute over diced onions on a breakfast sandwich, two men threw a snake over a counter towards an employee of a Saskatoon Tim Hortons. 
According to Saskatoon police, staff members “fled the store in fear” after the incident, which took place Monday around 7:30 a.m. at the Tim Hortons in the 600 block of 22nd Street West. 
“I’ve never heard of a snake being thrown at an employee by a customer … It was definitely a little chaotic,” said Saskatoon police spokeswoman Alyson Edwards.
“The staff was shocked and afraid and fled the store.” 
Staff told police that two male customers were arguing with an employee about their breakfast order – specifically that they wanted their onions diced. When the argument escalated, one of the men reached into the pocket of the other man, pulled out a garter snake and threw it behind the counter
No one was injured, said police. 
Officers quickly found the snake and determined it was not poisonous, said Edwards. Police found a temporary home for the snake until it can be released into the wild in the spring.

Now, I have questions about this series of events.  Specifically, how the two guys decided "I will win this argument over diced onions by throwing this garter snake I happen to have, even though it's December in Saskatoon."

I want to know, because I can't figure out of it's complete genius or the end of Canada.

It's Like A Whole Other Country

Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky has given up on the South after 2014 as far as Congress goes, and is tired of the Dems spending good money on races they will never, ever, ever be able to win.  Yes, NC, VA, and Florida are necessary for the White House, but...

At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there. This means every Senate seat will be Republican, and 80 percent of the House seats will be, too. The Democrats will retain their hold on the majority-black districts, and they’ll occasionally be competitive in a small number of other districts in cities and college towns. But they’re not going win Southern seats (I include here with some sadness my native West Virginia, which was not a Southern state when I was growing up but culturally is one now). And they shouldn’t try
My friend the political scientist Tom Schaller said all this back in 2008, in his book Whistling Past Dixie. I didn’t want to agree with Schaller then, but now I throw in the towel. He was a man ahead of his time. Look west, Schaller advised the Democrats. And he was right. Now it’s true that many states in the nation’s heartland aren’t winnable for Democrats, either. Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah will never come anywhere close to being purple. But Colorado already is. Arizona can be. Missouri, it’s not crazy to think so. And Montana and South Dakota are basically red, of course, but are both elect Democrats sometimes. (Did you know that both of Montana’s senators right now are Democrats?!) In sum, between the solid-blue states in the North and on the West Coast, and the pockets of opportunity that exist in the states just mentioned (and tossing in the black Southern seats), the Democrats can cobble together congressional majorities in both houses, under the right circumstances.

This is the crucial argument that the Left has had on the future of the Democrats: which is better, more Democrats, or better Democrats?   I've long been a proponent of more Democrats (Howard Dean's 50 state strategy) but considering how quickly that has disintegrated in just 8 years, leaving the GOP with the biggest House majority they've had since Hoover, I'm going to say that "more Democrats" isn't going to cut it.  The 50 state strategy isn't going to work anymore in Alabama or West Virginia or (and let's face it) Kentucky.

But it’s not just a question of numbers. The main point is this: Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats. As Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen recently told my colleague Ben Jacobs, the Democratic Party cannot (and I’d say should not) try to calibrate its positions to placate Southern mores: “It’s come to pass, and really a lot of white Southerners vote on gays and guns and God, and we’re not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.” 
Cohen thinks maybe some economic populism could work, and that could be true in limited circumstances. But I think even that is out the window now. In the old days, drenched in racism as the South was, it was economically populist. Glass and Steagall, those eponymous bank regulators, were both Southern members of Congress. But today, as we learned in Sunday’s Times, state attorneys general, many in the South, are colluding with energy companies to fight federal regulation of energy plants. 
It’s lost. It’s gone. A different country. And maybe someday it really should be.

And that's where Tomasky loses me.

Giving up on the South 100% is a recipe for repeating the last six years forever. It's the ultimate emoprog copout, not to mention it erases the political power of millions of people of color and treats us as what, hostages with Stockholm Syndrome, not to mention that there are millions of poor white voters in the South too.

But we need a new solution.  We need better Democrats AND more Democrats, and giving up on the South and handing it over to the GOP for the next 20 years only assures more of the country-destroying insanity we've seen since 2009.

The Tea Party is not going to magically go away once Obama leaves office.  We need to fight back on this crap and give people a reason to vote FOR Democrats and not just against the GOP. It's hard to say "we can't give up on the South" when Southern Democrats have given up on the Dems.  But at the same time, running Republican-lite candidates to win Blue Dog seats only hurts the Dems across the board.

So the fight is now "Since Southern Democrats told Obama to go to hell, what should we do to keep them?" The answer will define the party for the next generation. In 2014, "They're not Republicans!" was only good enough for what, 16% of the voting public? We've got to try something else, and now.

Something like "Actual Democrats as candidates".

Sorry.  We gave the Alison Grimes and the Mary Landrieus a shot, and they failed miserably.

New plan.


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