Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Cauterize This Wound"

From yesterday's

Cheney's painful war for torture

President Obama must fight back against the former vice president by launching investigations into the Bush administration's interrogation policies.

By Gene Lyons

Apr. 30, 2009 |

Having stampeded his ill-informed predecessor into a series of catastrophic blunders, it appears that Dick Cheney has declared open bureaucratic war -- the only kind he's ever known how to fight -- upon President Barack Obama. After decades of bullying the CIA and other intelligence agencies to affirm his crackpot worldviews, he's trying to pull the same routine on the White House to redeem his own shattered reputation. Or is it something more sinister?

As the longtime leader of the Republican Party's Chicken Little faction, Cheney's career testifies to his skill at backstairs intrigue. Longtime allies have speculated that his health problems, followed by the 9/11 attacks, drove him around the bend. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to two GOP presidents, told the New Yorker, "I don't know him anymore."

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff, was quoted in Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side" as saying that "Cheney was traumatized by 9/11. The poor guy became paranoid ... I can't fault the man for wanting to keep America safe. But he was willing to corrupt the whole country in order to save it."

A less charitable view might be that maneuvering his way into the vice presidency finally gave Cheney the power to bend the CIA to his will. He'd been pestering the agency to report that the sky was falling since the 1970s, first as an acolyte of "Team B," next the "Committee on the Present Danger" -- well-financed efforts to depict the decrepit hulk of the Soviet Union as verging upon imminent world domination.

After the Berlin Wall's collapse proved that the beleaguered CIA had actually dramatically overestimated Soviet might, Cheney, Rummy, Wolfie and the gang found a new obsession. Styling themselves the "Project for a New American Century," they urged Bill Clinton to invade Iraq in 1999. Next would come Iran, and an American empire from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas.

Perennially wrong, but never in doubt, Cheney and his circle first pooh-poohed the al-Qaida terrorist threat, then panicked after 9/11 -- quickly magnifying a band of stateless fanatics with an appetite for mass murder into yet another existential threat to the nation's survival.

They argued that the real threat to America wasn't Osama bin Laden, but Saddam Hussein, demanding that the CIA produce ironclad evidence that the attacks on New York and Washington were masterminded in Baghdad. Analysts who pointed out that Iraq and al-Qaida were mortal enemies were met with derision, bullying and threats.

According to Mayer's brilliantly reported book, Cheney and his staffers, particularly one David Addington, described by many as "Cheney's Cheney," badgered the CIA to endorse two fixed ideas: that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons and meant to use them on behalf of Osama bin Laden. The inconvenient fact that no evidence existed only caused them to redouble their efforts.

Thus, it increasingly appears to have been the cause of the United States' sickening descent into torture. Experienced FBI interrogators who'd extracted crucial evidence from captured al-Qaida functionary Abu Zubaydah -- including the identity of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhummad -- were unable to confirm Cheney's obsessions.

The result, beginning in August 2002, was Justice Department memos dismissing as "quaint" the Geneva Conventions, and authorizing waterboarding, sleep deprivation and beatings falling short of "organ failure and death," specifically against Zubaydah.

It's the timeline that's significant: All this took place precisely as the Bush White House began its 2002 pre-election propaganda campaign urging war with Iraq: "mushroom clouds," yellowcake uranium, and so on.

Was it truth or useful fiction Cheney's thugs were after? Authoritarian regimes have always used torture to secure false confessions.

The FBI, believing the orders illegal, actually withdrew from the investigation -- a development conveniently overlooked by establishment Beltway pundits now bleating like sheep that despite their shamefulness, the "memos on torture represented a deliberate, and internally well-debated, policy decision, made in the proper places ... by the proper officials."

That's the Washington Post's mincing arbiter of propriety David Broder. God forbid we should criminalize decisions made by insiders; better to junk the Constitution than create awkwardness at Washington dinner parties.

Ali Soufan, the FBI agent responsible for questioning Zubaydah, has broken a seven-year silence in a New York Times op-ed asserting there was "no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah."

Equally crucial, Soufan defends his CIA colleagues as "good people who felt as I did about the use of enhanced techniques: It is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security."

It's this last that's given observers like me pause. Prosecuting career CIA agents while Cheney does guest shots with Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh accusing Obama of weakening America's defenses, all but openly hoping for a successful terror strike with the potential to restore his faction to power, would be a grave moral and political error.

This isn't a fight Obama has wanted, but Cheney's making it one he cannot avoid. Nothing short of a full-scale investigation can cauterize this wound.

© 2009 Gene Lyons. Distributed by Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Hey, remember that fireball photo and the story of how I stood on Potrero Hill all day waiting to get the shot? Well, it seems that the staff at San Francisco Magazine saw it on Flickr and liked it a lot. They liked it so much they contacted me about publishing it in their next issue (and paying me for it, woohoo!!). Yesterday I got the brand new May issue, and in a huge spread across pages 26 and 27 is my photo, with credit.

Wow! That blowed up real good!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What He Says

I don't know who this guy is, but I agree with him one hundred percent. (Found on Glenn Greenwald's site.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Something the Teabaggers Conveniently Forget

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wingnut Tea Party

Looks like they're busy cranking up the crazy on the right again...

As you all know if you didn't just crawl out from under a rock or fall off the turnip truck, this past Wednesday was a day for a whole host of fucking brain-dead idiots conservative true believers to get out and protest, uh, something. Taxes, I think -- even though, from the looks of the pictures taken at these various tea-related events around the country, most of the participants have actually had their taxes lowered in the past couple months. That doesn't matter to them; FOX News and Sean Hannity and the rest of the right-wing noise machine told them to go out and protest, and they did. Really, they turned out by the millions hundreds of thousands dozens to toss teabags and listen to smart folks like Laura Ingraham tell them that they need to be angry, that they need to take back their government, that they need to, um, brew some tea. Or throw it away, I'm not sure how that works, exactly. Either way, you gotta love that populist grass-roots response to... something they don't like.

Whatevs, as people who don't yet need hip replacement surgery are apt to say.

Anyway, here, courtesy of Talking Points Memo, are just a few shots of some of the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet participants in that whole ridiculous teabagging thing.

The stupid... it burns!!

SWF into multiple teabagging, seeks SWM with friends into same.
I have no problem believing that this man probably deserves to be institutionalized.
Plant are innocent bystanders.
Anybody else get the feeling this guy's message is possibly tongue in cheek?
That does it -- I'm throwing my halo in the ring and running for President of Jesus.
(Some images even I can't caption... feel free to make up your own, if you'd like.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Indict Bush Now

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gathering Storm of Right Wing Homophobia

If you haven't already seen this over at Sadly, No!, well, here's your chance to see it here instead. Or, if you have, here's your chance to see it again. This is a brilliant mash-up of the ridiculous anti-gay marriage ad that some nutjob organization calling itself the National Organization for Marriage (or NOM -- as in "NOM, NOM, NOM, I eat your balls") is polluting the airwaves with right now and ads for '50s-style horror movies.

See also Rachel Maddow's take on it and another parody over at If I Ran the Zoo.

A gathering storm, oooh!! Dress warm, and be sure to wear your rubbers.

Teabagging Wingnuts

I thought I was going to hurt myself watching this last night, I was laughing so hard. You go, Limbaugh Party teabaggers!!

On Bringing Bad Guys To Justice

From Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post:

Torture Is a Crime That Must Be Punished

Posted on Apr 10, 2009

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Legalize It!

The Red State Update guys discuss an idea with some merit.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Some Changes I Can't Believe In

As most of you know, I voted for Obama for president. I'm happy that America has made a change away from the disastrous course that Republicans had set us on for the past eight years (actually more like 30, counting Reagan-Bush, and assuming -- as I do -- that Bill Clinton was decidedly more R than D in his administration of triangulation). He's done a number of things that needed to be done, and that I approve, not least of which are restoring our standing in the eyes of the world and renouncing torture as a policy (still need to bring those who perpetrated that policy to justice, though).

However -- and this, I think is a large part of what separates left-wingers from right-wingers; we are more than willing to criticize those in power who are ostensibly on our side, unlike the GOP stalwarts marching in lockstep with every disastrous policy The Worstest Li'l Preznit EVAR proposed -- this is not acceptable to me. Not at all. We, as a nation, soundly rejected the Bush administration and its policies, including the secretive, illegal, Constitution-defying practice of wiretapping American citizens. Why, then, is the Obama DOJ defending the indefensible by seeking to dismiss lawsuits challenging this practice? Why are they continuing to use the tortured logic of the Bush administration in claiming that any disclosure of this policy would cause "grave harm" to our national security? Um, dude, WTF?

I realize that this shouldn't -- and doesn't -- come as a complete surprise, given that Obama the Senator voted for the gutting of FISA that the Bush administration supported. Still... what is the point now, when the majority of Americans oppose this policy, and would be extremely gratified and supportive to see it eliminated? Honestly, I don't get it.

You know what else I don't get with this new administration? The continuation of Bush bailout policies that favor the rich and screw you and me and anyone else without a trust fund and a home in the Hamptons. You know, this bullshit. Why? Why, Mr. Obama, why?

Friday, April 03, 2009

BARBARians Unite!

To all BARBARians and wannabe BARBARians, this is just a reminder that we will be meeting Saturday, April 4th, at Zeitgeist in San Francisco, corner of Valencia and Duboce Streets. Festivities start about 1:00, lasting until all the beer is gone or they kick us out, whichever comes first. Come join the plunder, and remember to look for the helmet!

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