Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Sunday, April 26, 2009


McCain was just on Face the Nation and was pitching for us to just move on from trying to hold people accountable for torture. He says he's against torture and said it will never happen again. I started to think the old John McCain was back . . . and then he said our enemies will always follow the Geneva Convention because they know there will be retribution.

Does he not see that by not insisting on accountability for our people who ordered these torture memos to CYA, who ordered this torture, and who lied about it need to be held accountable will be held as precedence that torture can be done with impunity?

What's wrong with these people??!!

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Darcy Burner is Going to DC

Darcy Burner is going to DC! She starts work at a new job heading up the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation. I'm thrilled she'll be there as out voice! Congrats to Darcy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Isn't This a Confession?

From Karl Rove's Twitter:
Precautions taken 2 guarantee compliance w/ federal prohibition on torture. U might characterize diligence as overcautious. #TCOT #SGP #HHRS
about 13 hours ago from TweetDeck


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bring the Torture Authorizers to Justice

Every time one of these Republithugs talks about torture as a 'difference of opinion' or 'difference in tactics' they make the case even stronger for bringing the enablers to justice.

If it's just a political difference than the next time the Republithugs are in power we can go back to torturing with immunity. By not bringing them to justice we are condoning it and setting a dangerous precedence.

It is not too much of a stretch in my mind that Rudolph W. Giuliani would use torture. He's already on record supporting it.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Scott Horton's Essay on how the USA Became 1984

Revealing the Secrets in Room 101
By Scott Horton

On Thursday the spirit of George Orwell visited America, three times.

The first visit can be found in four memoranda prepared by Bush Administration lawyers which gave the actual go-ahead for the use of specific torture techniques on specific individuals, thus demolishing forever the absurd contention that the torture lawyers were ever only engaged in some abstract exercise without any direct application to incidents of torture. Here, we discover that Room 101 of the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) has been faithfully recreated by the Bush Team...

Orwell made his second appearance in a statement issued by Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair in which he drew a stomach-turning comparison between Americans who sacrifice for their country in uniform and those who perpetrated war crimes under orders from higher ups in the Bush Administration. But perhaps the first lines of Blair’s statement were intended to send a signal of the deceit that lay within. “We will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos and those guidelines,” he says, because they acted in the wake of 9/11, whereas “read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, [the memoranda] appear graphic and disturbing.” Blair’s name echoes Orwell’s actual name, Eric Blair; his words remind one of 1984: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Then Orwell visited us a third time. This time the message came straight from Miniluv, whose never-resting eye keeps watch over every enemy of the state, foreign or domestic, real or, far more often, the creation of paranoid delusion combined with political convenience. Eric Lichtblau and James Risen of the New York Times report:

The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, government officials said in recent interviews. Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to have been unintentional.

...Indeed, we learn that Miniluv even attempted to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant or any form of special authorization because Miniluv was convinced that the congressman was communicating with a person they distrust.

Miniluv’s voracious appetite is chronicled a bit further in a follow-up piece yesterday from Lichtblau and Risen in which we learn that it is on the verge of perfecting its ability to “collect and analyze every e-mail message, text message, and Google search” you’ve ever performed. But this is the least of it. They know your favorite pizza toppings, the medications you use, the color of your socks, the size of your t-shirt, the books you thought about buying on, and the movies your ordered from Netflix—as well as the ones you paused over, thinking to order. They will use all of this information to protect you. Unless, of course, some day you find yourself invited to Room 101.

I especially agree with Horton's conclusions:

Can anyone be surprised to learn that the new guardians of these vast and unchecked powers, while piously promising to reform and stop breaking the law, also feel that there is no really compelling reason to enforce the law–in the process breaking the oaths they just took a few weeks ago to uphold that very law? Is it not indeed amazing that these claims can be made on the public stage without being greeted with the peals of derision they deserve? Now comes the test of our democracy–will we close the door and walk away, or demand to know what’s been done in our name and hold those who guided any abuses to account for their misconduct? President Obama tells us there’s nothing to see here, just move along. But this will be a test of whether we have a citizenry worthy of that name.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Third Time Disappointed

Today Obama released the torture memos. In announcing their release, President Obama stated, in part

My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record. In one of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.

But that is not what compelled the release of these legal documents today. While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However, after consulting with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and others, I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release....

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

Torture will never be a "thing of our past" until there are consequences. He says our 'national greatness is embedded the America's ability to right its course . . . ' but the precedence is there. Torture can be used.

The memos make me physically sick. The intent issue is especially specious. Why else would someone want to engage in these activities besides to inflict pain so that the person will be motivated to talk? The lawyers seem to say since the end game or OBJECT is not to inflict pain but instead to gain intelligence, then you're covered and it's not torture since you have to have intent to inflict pain.

To follow that logic -- I want to be rich. That's my intent. So it's not bank robbery if I get the money from the bank -- I don't intend to rob them. I just want to be rich.

It is also offensive to have lawyers making determinations as to the level of sever pain or suffering. It is disgusting!

I am extremely disappointed in Obama for not holding these disgusting individuals accountable for this offense to all citizens. They tortured in our name and I am ashamed.

UPDATED 4-17-09

As usual Andrew Sullivan is eloquent on this topic. I especially like his hopeful conclusion:
Mukasey and Hayden complain that the president has tied the hands of future presidents in this. Yes, he has. What Obama understands is that what is truly vital is that this dark and shameful period not become a workable precedent. It must be repudiated at the very heart of the American political system, and removed like the cancer it is.

I hope Andrew is right and Obama is able to allow us to repudiate it even if it's without anyone being hels responsible or consequences. I fear that you need the enforcement or another president in the future will allow this to occur again.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Obama Continues Attack on Habeas-Corpus

Obama is continuing Bush's attach on our Constitution. This is so disappointing.

From the New York Times:
The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release. The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight.

In a court filing, the Justice Department also asked District Judge John D. Bates not to proceed with the habeas-corpus cases of three detainees at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Judge Bates ruled last week that the three — each of whom says he was seized outside of Afghanistan — could challenge their detention in court.

Tina Foster, the executive director of the International Justice Network, which is representing the detainees, condemned the decision in a statement.

“Though he has made many promises regarding the need for our country to rejoin the world community of nations, by filing this appeal, President Obama has taken on the defense of one of the Bush administration’s unlawful policies founded on nothing more than the idea that might makes right,” she said.

Where is the change and when will we see it?


Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Disappointed in Obama

In the heat of the presidential campaign, then Sen. Barack Obama cast his lot with major telecommunications companies -- and AT&T specifically -- by voting to give big telecom retroactive immunity for allegedly helping the White House illegally spy on Americans. It was one of the most disappointing moments of the campaign.

However, he did forcefully oppose the Bush administration's use of the "state secrets" privilege to get cases thrown out of civil court. According to the Obama/Biden campaign web site:

Secrecy Dominates Government Actions: The Bush administration has ignored public disclosure rules and has invoked a legal tool known as the "state secrets" privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.

But now, to the dismay of civil liberties groups, President Obama is using the "state secrets" defense to make the case that the United States government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying and can never be sued for surveillance that might violate federal privacy statutes.

That's what happened on April 2, when President Obama's lawyers invoked Bush's radical theory of executive power to argue for the dismissal of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans.

Of course, the government should be able to argue before a court that the public release of some information would unacceptably damage national security. But many courts have handled national security information with appropriate safeguards, and the mere assertion of "state secrets" without persuading a judge with evidence is just plain wrong.

When it comes to the abuse of "state secrets" defense, we agree with candidate Obama, not President Obama. If EFF's case against the NSA is dismissed, we may never know the extent of the Bush administration's illegal spying on Americans.

Obama isn't going to change things like I hoped. This is really disappointing. I thought he'd at least stand up for the Constitution.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Palin is (Still) Wrong

CNN story yesterday:
Sarah Palin weighed in on the North Korea missile launch. "I am deeply concerned with North Korea's development and testing program which has clear potential of impacting Alaska, a sovereign state of the United States, with a potentially nuclear armed warhead," she said in the statement. "I can't emphasize enough how important it is that we continue to develop and perfect the global missile defense network."

Sovereign!?? Who made her Queen??

Here's the dictionary definition:

Sov"er*eign\ (? or ?; 277), a. [OE. soverain, sovereyn, OF. soverain, suvrain, F. souverain, LL. superanus, fr. L. superus that is above, upper, higher, fr. super above. See Over, Super, and cf. Soprano. The modern spelling is due to a supposed connection with reign.]

1. Supreme or highest in power; superior to all others; chief; as, our sovereign prince.

2. Independent of, and unlimited by, any other; possessing, or entitled to, original authority or jurisdiction; as, a sovereign state; a sovereign discretion.

3. Princely; royal. "Most sovereign name." --Shak.

At Babylon was his sovereign see. --Chaucer.

4. Predominant; greatest; utmost; paramount.

We acknowledge him [God] our sovereign good. --Hooker.

5. Efficacious in the highest degree; effectual; controlling; as, a sovereign remedy. --Dryden.

So which of these definitions is she applying to Alaska?


UPDATED 4-16-09

The idiot from the Great North now has company. Both the Governor from Texas and the now the Georgia Senate want to secede. I say Great! Stop all Federal funding to the States. Pull our National Guard, troops, close the bases, fire the air traffic controllers, withdraw FDIC insurance of accounts, hold back FEMA when there's a disaster -- and of course re-assign their stimulus money to us patriotic States.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Michelle, Michelle, Michelle -- tsk, tsk

Here I go getting catty again!

I was a little surprized she arrives at 10 Downing Street in a sweater but I thought maybe she's dressing for stuff she's going to do later with the Sarah Brown.

But a SWEATER to meet the Queen!!!

Today's outfit is the WORST!!

I BEG you, Oprah!! Please, please, please loan her your stylist!!!

Bonnie Fuller is calling our beautiful Michelle a Fashion Disaster! This MUST change!

UPDATE 4-2-09:

Here's Carla Sarkosy at Number 10 -- Michelle is NOT going to compare favorably.

GAWD I'm awful!!! But our Michelle has it all over Carla -- successful lawyer who made it on her own vs nude model heiress?? So I HATE that her clothes don't reflect her status.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


The nuns told me that all the great mysteries of life would be revealed when I die. I certainly have questions about several mysteries! One of my questions I want answered is what on earth does she need a purse for in her own home???

h/t Huffington Post

Cigarette Taxes

Politicians are looking for ways to make up the difference in budgets by secretly raising taxes on those with the least amout of clout to object. I'm one of those paying more than an equitable share of taxes -- I smoke.

USA Today is touts that a raise in cigarette taxes causes people to quit.
"This is very historic," said Matthew McKenna, director of the Office of Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before the tax hike, cigarette prices averaged about $5 a pack. Now, tobacco companies are raising prices by different amounts. Some are absorbing part of the increase; others are raising prices more.

In the past, a 10% price increase reduced cigarette consumption about 4%, McKenna said. He expects the federal tax hike to prompt at least 1 million of the 45 million adult smokers to kick the habit.

"We expect this to accelerate the decline" in cigarette consumption, said Bill Phelps, spokesman for Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest tobacco company. He said consumption has been dropping 3% annually for a decade. "Some people may quit smoking," he said. "Others may cut back."

Nik Modi, a tobacco industry analyst at UBS, expects cigarette consumption to drop by about 9% annually. Tobacco companies won't be badly hurt, he said, because they've prepared for the increase.

But if we quit -- who pays for SCHIP? Who makes up the budget deficite in the state of WA? Politicians are gambling that we won't quit. They need the dollars too much.

And in my state -- Washington -- the politicians have gotten really greedy. We're 5th in the Nation for cigarette taxes. The raise will cause a pack of my Virginia Slims to go to $7.43. It will definately change my smoking behavior. So the politicians banking on my taxes will come up short again.

This is a piss poor way to finance a government.