Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pink Floyd University: Voter Caging

Where to begin? So much infamy, so little time. So much truth in Art, and so many approaches. It's probably most wise to begin by quoting the Masters:

Did you exchange a walk-on part in the War
for a Lead role in a cage?"
Kris Kobach, Chairman of the Kansas GOP hopes you did as I learned from billw at Kobach had the unbridled temerity to send an email bragging about the fact that

To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!” […]
My worn out Outragemeter instantly popped into explodotron mode as I read through the article at C&L which I highly encourage you to do. Fortunately, there enough examples from the Pink Floyd cannon that capture some sentiments about Kobach nicely, among them:

House proud town mouse,
Ha ha, charade you are
You're nearly a treat,
But you're really a cry
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
Yes, those lines are all from "Pigs." (And I didn't use the most profane one either.) This sort of behavior is beyond swinish. It's not only illegal, it's positively un-democratic and anti-American, literally ANTI-AMERICAN as this endeavor seeks to rob other Americans of their Constitutional rights, not to mention the only opportunity we have in this representative system of ours to have ANY voice whatsoever.

It seems as if the lyrics to "Wish You Were Here" are no longer rhetorical, politically. Read/watch the following, substituting "Principled Leaders" for "you."

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

If you find you have 15 minutes to watch about how exactly voter caging works, you can see Greg Palast explain it here.

There are 3 things you can do about this.

1- Make YOURSELF bulletproof. Make sure you are accurately registered with your Secretary of State so that YOU cannot be caged. You do not want to leave your polling place next year having cast a "provisional" ballot.

2- Make others aaware, and encourage them to become bulletproof themselves.

3- Contact your congresscritter and tell them that Kobach's behavior is un-American, illegal and demand an FEC inquiry into violations of this consent decree. See, the Republicans have been caught doing this before.

UPDATE: dday has been posting at Digby's blog, and has some more on this issue

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lawless Thugs

...Paid With YOUR Tax Dollars

Perhaps you've heard the horrifying story of Jamie Leigh Jones. Here's an excerpt from ABC news:
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally." Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.
Outrageous as that first appeared, some new details emerge in this video from Countdown:
"Barbarian Invaders"

(h/t Fernando @ Rancho La Luna)

There is so much to be outraged about here, it's hard to know where to begin. First, how did this story escape the attention of the Corporate Owned Media (COM) FOR TWO YEARS?!? After all, it involves a young attractive white girl in distress in a foreign land. Doesn't that make it a top story? But wait, such stories only take precedent when they serve to bury a bigger story embarrassing to the government. This story only embarrasses the government further.

Seder's remarks should cause embarrassment to the COM as well. "In fact, that's the story of the entire occupation and invasion of Iraq. Complete lack of informed consent from the American public." And it is the COM who have assiduously avoided informing the public.

The main focus is and should be the question of jurisdiction. In trying to pursue justice, Mrs. Jones has found herself in a legal limbo created quite deliberately to shield KBR and its employees.
Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

"It's very troubling," said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. "The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don't have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice.
That enormous loophole is of course the infamous (or it would be infamous if only more Americans knew it even existed - thanks again COM) Rule 17, put in place by Paul Bremer, neocon extraordinaire.
(From Smirking Chimp):

On June 27 2004, the day before the United States was to grant sovereignty to a new Iraqi government and disband the coalition provisional authority, Paul Bremer, the US proconsul, issued a stunning new order. One of the final acts of the CPA, Order 17, declared that foreign contractors within Iraq, including private military firms, would not be subject to any Iraqi laws - "all International Consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process," it read. "Congratulations to the new Iraq!" Bremer said moments before flying out. His memoir, My Year in Iraq, neglects to mention Order 17.
Order 17's grant of immunity to contractors guaranteed that more than half of the foreign presence on the ground - for US-paid contractors outnumber US military personnel - would operate for all intents and purposes beyond the law. Order 17 also undercut the authority of the US military, frustrating command and control of the battlefield and upsetting sensitive counterinsurgency strategies. Order 17 meant that the monopoly of violence was fractured and outsourced to those not subject to the law. By unilateral fiat Order 17 uniquely created a red zone of impunity covering the entire country.

A radical break with US policy, such an order had never been promulgated before. Order 17 should not be confused with a status of force agreement negotiated with sovereign nations such as South Korea. Those agreements are subject to complex bargaining and mutual assurance. Nor are contractors subject to the uniform code of military justice because, after all, they are not in the US military. Nor has the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 been brought to bear on contractors in Iraq.
A brave and savvy undergraduate questioned pResident Bush about this very same red zone of impunity on April 10, 2006. His response tells the tale.

"I don't mean to be dodging the question."

"..although it'd be kinda convenient in this case.

I can't believe he actually said that! In public! That and the nervous tics, smirking and giggling indicate that he knows EXACTLY what jurisdiction applies to his hired thugs - none whatsoever, by design. Notice that the unidentified questioner has already queried SecDef Rumsfeld about this and gotten a similar runaround.

This is of course of a piece with the Bush vision of law and order - the laws simply don't apply to them or their enablers, because they run the DoJ as if it was a wholly owned proprietary interest, not a function of the people's government.

If that hasn't got you fuming fit to blow your stack, Jon Swift (a self-described 'reasonable conservative') blogs about the response from less reasonable neo-conservatives - "Jamie Leigh Jones Undermines the War Effort." Seriously, this is one of those occasions where I've wished I believed that there was an especially hot corner of hell for people like this to spend eternity. The players referred to are "Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report, Curt at Flopping Aces and former humor blogger Ace of Spades." (Standard warning: Don't Click on Wingnuts. (DCOW)
Ace, quoting his doppelganger the Church Lady, says Jones' story is "too convenient." Curt, who supports actor Fred Thompson for President, says it sounds "too movie like." Shackleford, no doubt wrinkling his brow and rubbing his beard thoughtfully as the wheels spin in his brain, if he has one (a beard, that is), writes, "It's perfect. Too perfect.
Update: Bob Owens, a.k.a. Confederate Yankee, the blogosphere's Miss Marple, is on the case. If anyone can find a link between Jones and the terrorists, he can."
With thinking like that governing the reight wing, one must ask; how the hell are they doing such a good job of tearing down democracy in America? The uncomfortable answer must be that people on the left are doing such a piss poor job of opposing them. There seems to be an assumption that, "this is America. The problem will correct itself."

Well, let me remind you - Richard Nixon went unpunished. The Iran/Contra traitors were mostly pardoned by Bush Sr., and some of them now have successful careers on right-wing talk radio for cryin' out loud. Many of those involved in Iran/Contra went on to serve in the current government, despite their criminal records. The system has failed monumentally to self-correct in the past.

Your options are limited. You can resolve to actively do everything in your power to stop this lawlessness (even if that means a loss of income or lowering of lifestyle expectations), or you can prepare to spend the rest of your days weeping over the demise of democracy. Your choice.
Addendum: Also from the Jon Swift post, an indication that this is far from being an isolated case.
Although there was a rape kit that confirmed she was sexually assaulted, it was lost and found again and the doctor who performed it doesn't remember doing it. "I have no idea which rape victim you are," the doctor told Jones, "because so many young contractor girls were raped after drinking with the guys…. I performed so many rape kits in the six months that I was stationed there that there would be no way to recall whom (sic) yours was."
Geez, Louise! Am I the only one who thinks that, I don't know, maybe something ought to be done about this?!?
"With every new revelation, I think, 'Is this it?
Will this finally shake people out of their complacency?' "
-- RevPhat --

I certainly hope so.

Read More at The Jamie Leigh Foundation

Cross-posted at Les Enragé and Ice Station Tango.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

CIA Interrogator Tells ABC He Supervised 'Necessary' Torture of Abu Zubaydah

TPM informs that there's a breaking story at ABC.

In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds.
Spencer Ackerman astutely notes:
... First, Kiriakou's televised confession undermines CIA Director Michael Hayden's stated rationale for the destruction of interrogation videos. Hayden has said the tapes were destroyed to protect the identities of interrogators from al-Qaeda reprisal. Clearly Kiriakou doesn't feel that his life is in danger.

Second, Kiriakou also doesn't think that the torture was right, even if he says it had some intelligence value. It can't possibly be an easy thing for him to admit, and he has conflicting feelings about what he did.
Methinks that we are witnessing the beginning of the crack in the walls of the nuthouse administration. Witnesses on the record re: torture, revised NIE, what else is going to happen this week?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Abuse of Executive Power Revealed

This morning in the Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse gave an extraordinary speech. In it, he detailed out his findings on previously secret Office of Legal Council (OLC) opinions, which the Administration goes to in order to support it's programs, in this case about FISA.
Here's a few things which "dismayed" him:
1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.
2. The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II.
3. The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.

Think Progress has the video. And emptywheel has some more.
Whitehouse, near the end of the piece, shoots entirely straight. In a nutshell, these three Bush administration legal propositions boil down to this:

1. “I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you when I’m breaking them.”

2. “I get to determine what my own powers are.”

3. “The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is, I tell the Department of Justice what the law is.”

When the Congress of the United States is willing to roll over for an unprincipled President, this is where you end up. We should not even be having this discussion. But here we are. I implore my colleagues: reject these feverish legal theories. I understand political loyalty, trust me, I do. But let us also be loyal to this great institution we serve in the legislative branch of our government. Let us also be loyal to the Constitution we took an oath to defend, from enemies foreign and domestic. And let us be loyal to the American people who live each day under our Constitution’s principles and protections.

Indeed, let them be loyal to the Constitution which they took an oath to defend.
UPDATE: The Courage Campaign is ratcheting up the pressure on DiFi to do the right thing about FISA too. H/T to Crooks and Liars who have the videos.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pink Floyd University: DOH

I am an utter MORON and I wouldn't blame anyone for never reading one of my posts again. Here's the thing:

I am quizzing about, looking to create another Pink Floyd University post. Shouldn't be too hard, right?


Anyhoo, I decided to look through the top Pink Floyd videos viewed in youtube. And the one at the top of the list just frikking slayed me it was so damn obvious.

I've been pussyfooting around, frankly, when it comes to how strong and viable Pink Floyd's politics are. I am not speaking for them. I am just speaking for what the band's output makes ME realize and want to articulate. What is particularly resonant in my opinion right now:

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home? (0:22 elapsed)

Come on, now.
I hear youre feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.

I need some information first. (0:43 elapsed)
Just the basic facts:
Can you show me where it hurts?

In my opinion, the first 22 seconds says most of it; ABDICATION OF RESPONSIBILITY by the adults (read Congress)

The next 21 seconds are the game plan. Extend your arm, and recieve. Only it happens not via a pinprick, but by the pixel, and the masses have been conquered by the minute.

So, GOODBYE 1st and 4th Amendments! We loved ya while we had ya, but we never really knew ya.

I never really got this so plain and simple at a gut level before. That people don't really know or care. They're not involved. They're comfortably numb. I always thought...nevermind.

Pffftt. You know I can't leave a post without hope.

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