Monday, September 28, 2009

"Moreover, the evidence that the new facility is part of a military program is compelling. According to unclassified U.S. government talking points, the clandestine facility near Qom is "intended to hold approximately 3,000 centrifuges" of an unknown type. In 2007, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, then head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said that Iran's target was to have 50,000 centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment facility. This number was needed to make "meaningful amounts of nuclear fuel" for one or two commercial-scale power plants to generate electricity.

Thus, by Iran's own admission, the Qom facility is too small for civilian purposes. It is not, however, too small to produce meaningful amounts of highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapons program."

The authors are way too optimistic about our chances to impose meaningful sanctions on the Iranian administration. We'll need the Russians and the Chinese to sign off on any new economically-crippling sanctions but the Russian president, German chancellor, and Chinese premier were nowhere to be seen when U.S. President Barack Obama, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy insisted that Iran comply with the international nonproliferation regime within a two-month framework.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not embarrassed by this disclosure. Iran tested medium-range missiles that could reach Israel. His timing couldn't be any better (or worse) depending on how one look's at it. In all likelihood these tests were probably scheduled long before Obama, Sarkozy, and Brown demanded Iranian compliance to the nonproliferation regime in place.

At this point in time, however, raising the decibel level would be counterproductive. Our Russian and Chinese counterparts have yet to sign onto, let alone enforce, a meaningful regimen so the Iranian administration will view any condemnations issued by the three said heads of state as unenforced bluster.

Iran's mullahs and Revolutionary Guards could, however, use any such condemnations from the West to rally the people behind them at a time when their legitimacy was visibly shaken by accusations of voter fraud and the brutal suppression of those dissidents who marched in Tehran's streets. Green Revolution backers and opponents alike, support Iran's right to nuclear technology. Condemning the Iranians for noncompliance can only help the Supreme Leader, the mullahs, and the Revolutionary Guards put the bad publicity surrounding the Iranian election results behind them.

For now the president and his European allies should make their case behind the scenes and deprive the Iran's theocratic regime of the publicity they may very well be seeking. The negotiations with the Iranians will continue and the president must, for his part, show them he is negotiating in good faith by hinting at (through lower State Department officials) what the Iranians could get for total compliance but at some point the negotiations will have to come to an end and sanctions will have to be imposed with or without Russian and Chinese cooperation. The United States will have to publicly assure our allies in the Middle East and the Israelis in particular, that we will defend them from any Iranian military attack. Moving our missile defense capabilities in the Mediterranean Sea will help in this effort.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The 4th Sexual Orientation

Asexuals. ENDA might have to be revised to include them and we may have to refer to the LGBTA movement as opposed to the LGBT movement.

Folsom Street Fair: Making Gay Americans Look Bad

The kind of photos our movement could do without. Don't they know that our enemies will direct their focus on these guys and then use their behavior to portray the rest of us in the worst possible light? Couldn't the National Organization for [heterosexual] Marriage use these in their campaign commercials to repeal Washington's domestic partnership and Maine's marriage laws?

The Washington Post Editorial Bard Gets One Thing Right

The unconstitutional war detention policies which this president appears willing to preserve. Unless judicial review is guaranteed to every prisoner we can be imprisoning falsely the innocent along with the guilty.

Conservativve Realist's Strategy for Afghanistan: Decapitation, Containment, and Competition

Another conservative realist rejects General Stanley A. McChrystal's troop surge counter-insurgency/nation-building strategy. His thought - targeted assassination of those tribal chieftains (among others) who swear their loyalty to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

I'm inclined to agree with his assessment that we cannot involve ourselves in this very expensive and ultimately fruitless nation-building campaign particularly since the Karzai administration's credibility has been tarnished by corruption and election fraud allegations.

The State of Our Education System

for New York City, like many urban communities, is in need a major reform. Charter school students apparently do a little better.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Great Coming Out Article

in tomorrow's magazine section of The New York Times.

The Man Whose Paid Not to Think

Some people feel you could close the U.C. budget gap by cutting administrative salaries, including your own.
The stories of my compensation are greatly exaggerated.
This interview with University of California president Mark Yudof is maddening:

When you began your job last year, your annual compensation was reportedly $828,000.
It actually was $600,000 until I cut my pay by $60,000. So my salary is $540,000, but it gets amplified because people say, “You have a pension plan.”

What about your housing allowance? How much is the rent on your home in Oakland?
It’s about $10,000 a month.

Does U.C. pay for that on top of your salary?
Yes, and the reason they do that is because they have a president’s house, it needed $8 million of repairs and I decided that was not the way to go. Why the heck would I ever authorize $8 million for a house I didn’t want to live in anyhow?

Why can’t you have architecture students repair the house for course credit?
Let me ponder that.

Do you raise a lot of income from private donations?
We don’t do it in the office of the president. The focus is campus by campus: Santa Cruz or U.C.L.A. or Berkeley or San Diego, Davis. They have their own development offices, and I’m there to — some of the things I do very well. I smile, I shake hands, I tell jokes.

Why can’t you raise money, too?
I’m out there hustling, but I go where the chancellors invite me. Otherwise they get upset.

He makes $828,000 and receives a $10,000 a month living allowance and excuses his failure to rennovate the president's quarters on campus because it would cost $8 million in repair. He did not, however, think he could do it for less by letting architectural students make some of the repairs for college credit. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Sue or Spend the Money on Voter Turnout

Don't know what to think about this maneuver. Would the fact that this case is being heard help the conservative anti-gay base rally enough to put them over the top or would this disclosure help us discern where we need to focus on voter turnout.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brzezinski on Israel and Iran

I think Zbigniew Brzezinski would need to do a little backtracking. Yes, no one with sound judgment would be pleased if the Israelis bombed Iran's nuclear sites but Brzezkinski went too far by suggesting, however indirectly, that we could shoot Israeli planes down when they enter Iraqi airspace on their way to Iran.

So let me get this straight. No one wants Iran building the nuclear weapon but do we really want to put our friendly relationship with Israel in jeopardy defending a hostile regime?

How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?
We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

What if they fly over anyway?
Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse. [Israeli jet fighters and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty in international waters, off the Sinai Peninsula, during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel later claimed the ship was the object of friendly fire.]
from The Daily Beast

PATRIOT Act Revisions

Leave it to Senator Russ Feingold to bring up the needed revisions that his colleagues won't dare vote for. and leave it to The New York Times for burying this story in the paper now that President Barack Obama is in power. A bad law is a bad law whether a Democrat is living in the White House or not. A bad law does not become a good law when you get the president you like.

Klein: Snowe is Serious

Ezra Klein thinks Senator Olympia Snowe has expressed a genuine willingness to compromise after examining her amendments to the bill. With that in mind I would urge the Democrats to hold off on any reconciliation threat and try to make a deal with Senator Snowe. We might get two for the price of one if Senator Susan Collins takes Snowe's cue and jumps on board. It's worth a shot. And given how bad the Baucus bill is for the middle class it really can't hurt, particularly when some of the very amendments Snowe is proposing would make the bill could make the bill more palatable for the average middle class worker.

Bush's Rare Moment of Privately Expressed Empathy

For a commencement address at Furman University in spring 2008, Ed Gillespie wanted to insert a few lines condemning gay marriage. Bush called the speech too "condemnatory" and said, "I'm not going to tell some gay kid in the audience that he can't get married." (Of course, Bush ran his 2004 campaign telling that kid just that.) a Huffington Post summary of one claim made by speechwriter Matt Latimer

One of those very rare and unfortunately, very private moments where the president acknowledged, let alone expressed any empathy for gay Americans. For the first time he acknowledged that his words could hurt the gay people who are were graduating that day. If only he had taken that position before he ran for re-election in 2004.

Hey No on 1 Guys, why don't you quote from the book in your ads. Have a gay Mainer introduce himself after that excerpt and then ask the public "Do you want to tell him he/she can't marry his/her loved one?" Then let the the gay Maine resident ask them to defend Maine's commitment to equality and fairness. Don't spit on him.

We could use an ad with Maine parents introducing their gay sons and daughters as well. It would beat those two lame ones they have posted on their web site.

FOX "News" Denied Themselves Access

Sorry Chris Wallace. FOX News did its viewing audience a disservice by refusing to preempt "Dancing with the Stars" with the president's address to Congress. On those rare moments when the president is going to speak to the nation reputable news agencies must air his speech so that it could encourage its people to inform themselves about the president's arguments. Then, a reputable news agency would "fact check" what the president had to say and let the pundits give their reactions to the speech (and/or press conference). You cannot deny the president his chance to make the case for his argument and then expect to come on your show so that you would have an opportunity to poke holes in his argument before he even has a chance to make it. By refusing to air the president's address to Congress for the second time in a row, FOX News forfeited whatever claim it had to being a "fair and balanced" or reputable news service and as such, it forfeited whatever respect the president owed its news correspondents.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sneezing Properly

So what's next? Instructing us to raise the arms and sneeze at a 45 degree angle?

SNL Thursday Premier

The opening on the behind-the-scenes Republican strategy and why U.S. Representative Joe "you lie" Wilson got screwed.

One-term Democratic presidential failure Jimmy Carter and the Republican's token black guy go at it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shift in Missile Defense Strategy Welcomed

In a dramatic break from his predecessor, President Barack Obama has decided to postpone, if not scrap, plans to station a radar facility in the Czech Republic and 10 ground-based missile interceptors in Poland. Secretary of State Robert Gates said these plans, which were made by his predecessor were designed to counter Iran's intercontinental missile program, a program the Obama administration fears less than its far more heavily developed programs on short-to-medium range missiles. For now, the president expects to deploy SM-3 interceptors on U.S. naval ships in the Mediterranean by 2011 and eventually deploy more in Europe.

Republicans on the Hill and their conservative champions at The National Review, accused the president of abandoning our allies, appeasing Russia, and putting this nation's security at risk to uphold liberal anti-missile defense program dogma. The National Review dismisses the shift in strategy "as an example of short term thinking." "A robust system of missile defense," the writers claim, "never has demanded such trade-offs. Instead, it calls for a sophisticated architecture that counters threats in different forms." They would have the president provide for our missile defense from both, intercontinental and shorter-range missiles. After all, the slow down in that country's intercontinental missile program may be attributed to the decision to deploy our missile defense program in Eastern Europe.

The conservatives, I believe may be overreacting and the Republicans, of course, will do and say anything make our president appear weak on security. Iran has no designs on, let alone poses a threat to, our European allies and any attack on any European nation would be counterproductive. Its NATO allies would respond in kind and the Muslim community could blame the Iranians for killing their brothers and sisters in European cities.

Iran's aspirations lie in the Middle East, and the nations that have the most to fear from Iran's rise are its immediate neighbors in the Middle East. Its known acquisition of a nuclear weapon may ignite a new arms race in the Middle East as the Saudis, and Egyptians try to restore the balance of power in the region. Providing our Sunni-populated allies in the Middle East with our missile-defense system might lead them to forgo the race for nuclear weapons and lead our Israeli allies to postpone any plans they have to bomb Iran's uranium enrichment plants (wherever they are).

I never believed the Bush administration's hype concerning the need to defend Europe from an Iranian attack. Those missiles, which were to be deployed in Poland, were designed to protect our European allies from a resurgent and overly aggressive Russian Empire. Our Eastern European allies were understandably upset. Polish and Czech citizen alike found themselves on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain and they don't want it to happen to them again.

But the Russians today have far too much problems holding their own country together to worry about Poland and states that had long been forgotten now stand in between Poland, which is a NATO ally (and thus protected from any outside invasion) and Russia. Within the past two weeks I have read an article which suggests that the Ukraine wants to align itself with the West. The Ukrainians, it is suggested, are pushing English as their second language while the Russian is dwindling in importance. Chechenya was preserved only by co-opting a ruthless dictator wannabe and the standoff within Georgia did not lead to the re-annexation of the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia or Abkhazia.

As such, the president's decision to relocate our missile defense program into the Mediterranean and shift our strategy for military defense can be viewed as a harmless gesture designed to repair the breach in the Russo-American relationship.

It should be noted that our president reiterated his and this nation's commitment to protect our NATO allies from foreign attacks and he noted that this issue can always be revisited in the future should the Russians continue to be the uncooperative and unreliable partner they have so far proven to be in our negotiations with the Iranians.

The Fortis Insurance Death Panel

"We find ample support in the record that Fortis' conduct was reprehensible ... Fortis demonstrated an indifference to Mitchell's life and a reckless disregard to his health and safety." - Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal of the South Carolina Supreme Court

What was that President Barack Obama? These health insurers aren't evil? Wouldn't you consider someone who demonstrated such a profound and "reckless disregard" towadrs one's "health and safety" evil?

Baucus Bill Objection #1

Individuals are Required to Purchase Health Insurance but Employers Are Not Required to Provide It.

So an employee who is forced to work for an employer who cannot provide health insurance is on his or her own. He or she must purchase a plan or face high penalties and they receive no such help from their employers since they are not required to purchase the plans for them. I don't think we have a problem of want here. Most workers would happily purchase health insurance if they thought they could afford it. The problem isn't that they don't want coverage so much as they can't afford to purchase it. A bill that merely includes an individual mandate does nothing to lower health insurance costs. In fact it adds to rather than subtracts from the individual employee's burdens. If Congress can't pass a bill with a public option it should insist that small businesses pool their resources together to pay for health insurance.

Access to affordable health care should be treated as a right for any legal resident who works and we must, as a whole, insist that employers treat their workers decently by providing them with affordable health care.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"What is She, the governor of Guam?"

First, the sexual/gender jokes from our former commander-in-chief:

"I was in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with another speechwriter, a young man named Jonathan. (His last name was Horn; the president nicknamed him Horny.)" Mark Lattimer, quoting former President George W. Bush

'The president, like me, didn’t seem to be in love with any of the available options. He always believed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. “Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk,” he once said (except he didn’t say “keister”).' - Mark Lattimer again quoting former President George W. Bush. I guess Mr. Bush's speechwriter hear is claiming that he actually used the B-word.

Bush on Palin:

"I was about to be engulfed by a tidal wave of Palin euphoria when someone—someone I didn’t expect—planted my feet back on the ground. After Palin’s selection was announced, the same people who demanded I acknowledge the brilliance of McCain’s choice expected the president to join them in their high-fiving tizzy. It was clear, though, that the president, ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called “interesting.” That was the equivalent of calling a fireworks display “satisfactory.”

'“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?

Everyone in the room seemed to look at him in horror, their mouths agape. When Ed told him that conservatives were greeting the choice enthusiastically, he replied, “Look, I’m a team player, I’m on board.” He thought about it for a minute. “She’s interesting,” he said again. “You know, just wait a few days until the bloom is off the rose.” Then he made a very smart assessment.

This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,” he said. “She hasn’t spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let’s wait and see how she looks five days out.” It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party."' - Mark Lattimer quoting former President George W. Bush on his reaction to former Governor Sarah Palin's pick as Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) running mate.

Make of it what you will.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama's Speech on Wall Street

mostly silence from Wall Street but that I guess was to be expected since the giants don't want their free ride to come to an end. Mr. Obama said what needed to be said. Companies should not have the opportunity to shop for the agency that would regulate them. Compensation packages should be redesigned so that long-term (as opposed to short-term) gains are rewarded. Gaps in regulation must be filled in and a resolution authority implemented to force an insolvent company's stock brokers and lenders to pay for its obligations.

The president could eliminate the companies' regulation shopping by merging the respective agencies into one. But oversight is only one part of problem. This systematic failure can't be solved unless compensation packages are redesigned so that salaries and bonuses are taken as freely as they are given. And these companies that "are too big to fail" should be broken up so that they could never put us through a crisis as monumental as the one we've been through ever again.

Andrew Sullivan and Race

"People project all sorts of stuff onto you, good and bad, when that happens; and the handful of us in the public eye had to just carry on, hoping that the full scope of our work would eventually overshadow one aspect of our lives, but that our gayness could be celebrated as well. Anything but lies. And as more and more people are openly gay, and as more and more of them seem completely like your next door neighbor, it becomes easier.

Harris and DeGeneres have helped a huge amount in this, but it still remains tough for these wholesome, white mainstream voices to strike the right balance. There is a personal toll to being the human bit in the cultural drill."
- Andrew Sullivan at his blog

I doubt Andrew Sullivan meant anything racist by his "wholesome, white mainstream" comment but it sounds so racially tone-deaf that he needs to add a clarification which I guess would require him to distinguish between the coming-out experiences of white gay Americans and the coming-out experiences of black, Hispanic, Native American or Asian gay Americans.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bob Barr: Cheney Doesn't Know We are a Nation of Laws

"Evidently, Cheney has never read of, or has long forgotten the fact that — as noted for, example, by our nation’s very first vice president, John Adams – ours is a ”government of laws, and not of men.” To our immediate past vice president, such sentiments represent nothing more than “partisan politics.” Thankfully, our current attorney general agrees with Mr. Adams." - for U.S. Representative and presidential candidate Bob Barr (Libertarian - Georgia)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sex Talk in the Microphone

And another eh-hem, "family values" crusader bites the dust. KCal9 and The Los Angeles Times have the details.

"Mission Accomplished" in Iraq

Yet one more sign that our troops cannot win this war in Iraq. Iraq's future can only be determined by the people who live in that country and the people who will ultimately get buried in that country.

Here's the key excerpt from The Los Angeles Times:

Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack, the bombing was likely the work of Islamic extremists, who regularly carry out suicide bombings in Iraq. Some districts in Mosul's province, Nineveh, are controlled by the Iraqi army and others, including Wardek, are policed by Kurdish forces from Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds wish to annex land to their semiautonomous region that they say was taken from them during Saddam Hussein's regime, while Baghdad and local Arabs are fiercely against such a move.

This is a political problem that can only be solved through political means (that is, at the negotiating table). Troops can uphold a truce. They cannot make peace.

Some Reax

The editorial writers at The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times offer the president mixed grades on his speech. Yes. He made the case for reform. No, he did not explain how it can be paid for. And yes, I concur with those who find Obama's claim that this is not going to add one cent to the deficit laughable.

I think the Obama administration will need to find more cuts or raise more revenue. Tort reform no doubt will help, though how much is as of yet unknown. Treating health care as income for tax purposes may help (sorry Ed). Raising the taxes on those making 7-to-8 digit salaries will help. And providing the public option would help (insofar as it would challenge the private insurance plans to lower their costs). Eliminating the waste and fraud in Medicare will prove difficult.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom, and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter – that at that point we don't merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.

What was true then remains true today. I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road – to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term.

But that's not what the moment calls for. That's not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it's hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history's test.

Because that is who we are. That is our calling. That is our character. Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America."
-- President Barack H. Obama, speaking about health care reform before a joint session of Congress held on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

Some Quick Thoughts:

There were no real surprises. He basically regurgitated or represented the outlines of a plan he laid out during the campaign season. The basic components are the same - a health insurance exchange, mandatory treatment without precondition discrimination, no health insurance mandates and some undefined cuts in medicare fraud.

Two things that are new - individual mandates and a relief fund for those who cannot afford health insurance until the new exchange is created.

The president's defense of the public option was forceful.I was most particularly impressed with his attempt to repudiate the socialized medicine claim by comparing the public option on health insurance to a public college or public university. Public colleges do provide students with an affordable (relatively speaking) means to obtain the four-year degree that was at one point. The president obviously will not let the public option stand in the way of a health care reform bill. It will be sacrificed in order to gain whatever votes are necessary to win final approval. Nevertheless I was pleased to see him make the case for the public option while demolishing the argument that he is somehow socializing health care.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Will: Get Out of Iraq

"No, we don't, even if, as Jaffe reports, the presence of 130,000 U.S. troops "serves as a check on Iraqi military and political leaders' baser and more sectarian instincts." After almost 6 1/2 years, and 4,327 American dead and 31,483 wounded, with a war spiraling downward in Afghanistan, it would be indefensible for the U.S. military -- overextended and in need of materiel repair and mental recuperation -- to loiter in Iraq to improve the instincts of corrupt elites. If there is a worse use of the U.S. military than "nation-building," it is adult supervision and behavior modification of other peoples' politicians." George Will, in his latest column found in The Washington Post

Second key quote from his column:

"If, in spite of contrary evidence, the U.S. surge permanently dampened sectarian violence, all U.S. forces can come home sooner than the end of 2011. If, however, the surge did not so succeed, U.S. forces must come home sooner."

Basically he says we are throwing American lives' away for a lost cause.

Broder's Column

seems to concede to the civil libertarians on the merits but then objects for pragmatic reasons:

"I understand why so many liberals who opposed the Bush administration are eager to see its operatives and officials forced publicly to explain their actions. The case that Robinson and many others make for seeking testimony is a strong one."

"I am not persuaded by former vice president Dick Cheney's argument that this is simply political revenge by the now-dominant Democrats against their Republican predecessors. For all the previously stated reasons, there is ample justification for seeking answers apart from any partisan motive."

so then why does he object to these preliminary hearings?

1. Trying a Prior Administration Establishes a Precedent
"Cheney is not wrong when he asserts that it is a dangerous precedent when a change in power in Washington leads a successor government not just to change the policies of its predecessors but to invoke the criminal justice system against them."

Well if there is something there then the prior administration deserves to be held accountable. If there is nothing to investigate then future administrations will have nothing to investigate. We cannot let a rogue administration get away with activities that are potentially illegal or unconstitutional just because future administrations would try to use the legal process to exact its revenge.

2. A drop in CIA Morale:

Whose morale are we speaking about? CIA officials who broke the law? CIA officials who did not break the law? And what does that have to do with the pursuit of justice? I'm sure many Catholic priests saw their morale go down when a few of their number were exposed for preying upon the children within their care and when the bishops, acting like your typical bureaucrat, took it upon themselves to protect their own. I'm sure there were Clinton officials who saw their morale drop when the president that they admired was caught in a lie concerning his sexual relationship with Monical Lewinsky and I'm sure there were Nixon officials who saw their morale drop when the president is impeached. We don't let the morale of the good people get in our way when pursuing legal justice.

3. The Lower-Ranked Officials Will Be Hanged While the Architects Go Free:

"What about those who approved of their actions? If accountability is the standard, then it should apply to the policymakers and not just to the underlings. Ultimately, do we want to see Cheney, who backed these actions and still does, standing in the dock?"

No argument here but this isn't a case to hide from an investigation but the case to instruct the prosecutor to investigate the vice president, the vice president's staff, the president, the president's staff, the CIA director, and the lawyers who drafted the legal justification for torture as well as those lower officials who "were just following orders" and those lower officials who went beyond the scope of approved methods.

4. President Obama doesn't want to see the Vice President et al investigated.

So what?

5. Investigating Prior Criminal Acts Will Divide us and Distract Us When We need to Come together and Solve our Problems (whatever they may be).

Note to Broder. Please refer to my response to point one. We cannot let those who may have violated their oath to uphold the Constitution blackmail us into getting away with their crimes by threatening to tie Washington down in gridlock. Besides which, it appears as if we have gridlock already.

Democrats Too Weak to Fight for Us

I really wonder if the Democrats are going to push through any legislation they were elected to pass. Where's the change? Where's the "yes we can" attitude? No public option on health care. No troop withdrawal from Iraq as of yet. No habeas corpus rights for war detainees. Rendition still permitted. No justice for those who were tortured. No investigations into who was tortured. A very weak cap and trade bill that may or may not even get passed. No stringent regulations forbidding the creation of businesses "too big to fail." CEO's still reaping a profit at our expense. The hate crimes bill has yet to pass or be signed. ENDA has yet to pass.

Is there anything which the Democrats are going to do to justify their control in Washington? And why should gay Americans, in particular, donate to the Democratic Party if they get nothing in return for their efforts? Why, for that matter, should any liberal donate their time and money to the Democrats? Even the Hispanics are getting restless!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Well, its one writer's opinion. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Left-wing priests, laypeople, and nuns who promote abortion, gay marriage, and the like are termites." Intellectual discourse from William Donohue. He still makes the absurd claim that Catholics face prejudice on an ongoing basis. Somehow I don't think the Catholics are rounded up or fired from their jobs for being Catholic anymore.

Ridge on Maddow

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was on Rachel Maddow's show to explain a passage of his latest book where he suggested there were some political calculations involved in a push to raise the terror threat level days before the Nov. 2004 presidential elections. Tonight he defended his former colleagues in the Bush administration from such charges.

"At no time, at no time, at no time did politics enter in my judgment anybody's equation," he said. "These were tough judgment calls."

None of this explains why he he "wondered" if there were any political motives for raising the terror alert. When he was in the room with his colleagues and the president he would have made his case against raising the terror alert while Ashcroft and Rumsfeld made their case for raising the terror alert. At that point Secretary Ridge would know whether the arguments Ashcroft and Rumsfeld were making were inherently political or not. If they weren't Mr. Ridge would have no reason to speculate about their motives. So Ride either lied to us in the book when he speculated about his colleagues' motives or he is lying to us now by vouching for their integrity.

Some Gray Area in Torture

Theo-conservative Rod Dreher offers his thoughts, which are somewhere between what the vice president is saying and what the president, liberal talk show hosts and civil rights activists are saying.

His post in full:

So says Caleb Stegall, who is no fan of Cheney, but who points out that Eric Voegelin told an uncomfortable truth about statesmanship . You should read the entire Voegelin passage in Caleb's post, but basically, the great political theorist taught that even the most beneficent political order exists on the basis of cruelty; the trick is to keep people from recognizing it. If you force them to confront their own guilt, you will suffer. Notes Caleb:

Cheney's chief sin is admitting these hard truths to public consciousness. If he had read his Voegelin, he would have known the fate awaiting him.

This is an extremely difficult position to be in, don't you think? I've always felt that Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men" had far more ugly truth on his side than I was comfortable admitting:

Do we all need Dick Cheney on that wall, like Col. Jessep? Though we can't stand to admit it, are we secretly happy that there was for a while men at the pinnacle of power who would stop at nothing -- and who felt unbound by any law -- to protect this country? Voegelin would say that it's not Dick Cheney's existence that really bothers us, but the fact that he (Cheney) forces us to acknowledge it. Because if we stare clearly at the principle Cheney stood for -- that is, the idea that no law, either statutory or moral, is higher than protecting the United States from attack -- then, if we are honest with ourselves, we are forced to reflect on how so much of what is good and honorable about our daily lives depends on the willingness to accept, however implicitly, injustice and immorality.

I think what Voegelin is saying is not that the ends justify the means as a principle of morality, but as a description of the way men and societies actually behave. To stand behind Cheney is to sanction the view that power elites have the right to break the law for the sake of defending the political and social order. Do we really want to admit to that? Most of us do not -- and if we do, imagine then your political opponents in charge of the government, and making the decisions about which laws need ("need") to be broken to protect our civilization. So of course we don't want to admit it. But if we don't believe that Cheney and Jessep need to be on that wall (so to speak), why aren't we moving forward to prosecute him and people like him?

Frankly, I would like to see some kind of prosecutions, because I don't want to live in the kind of country in which the leadership arrogates to itself the power to violate all laws in service of some higher ideal, chosen by itself. You let Cheney et alia get away with this, what kind of precedent have you set for future administrations? At what point does defending the order justify rounding up domestic political opponents, and invalidating the constitution? You know? We can't go down this road, or at least if we're going to be dragged down it, we have to fight every inch of the way.

Yet it must be admitted that many of us have a profound ambivalence about all this -- an ambivalence identified by Voegelin. My sense is -- and I accuse myself here too -- that for most of us, we really do want our leaders to protect us by any means necessary, but we simply don't want to have to know about what was done. I don't think this is anything unique to Americans. I think it's merely human.