Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lame Duck?

President Obama is shattering the lame duck albatross normally associated with a two-term president's last two years. China climate control pact, end of auto bailout with a $15 billion profit, engaging Cuba, ending draconian demonization of undocumented; US now No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas, 57 straight months of private sector job growth (11 million jobs), ending criminal Afghan combat, 10 million hopeless with new hope and health care, confronting police profiling and racial injustice head on; and on and on. All that quacking you hear is from the Republicans in Congress fighting amongst themselves over this stunning record of accomplishment.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Torture report footnote speaks volume of Bush era skullduggery

It was never mentioned on mainstream media, but Torture Report footnote 857 should have been front and center. That's because it strongly hints at the real reason America tortured after 911: finding evidence of Iraq's connection to justify our attack.
"Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [Egyptian] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’...ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [redacted], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [redacted], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III."
While we'll never see Volume III for more details, there is much corroborating information to confirm that linking Iraq to 911 was the real thrust of America's descent into the torture game. The two gents tortured a total of 266 times, Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheik Muhammed, spiked the CIA's water bill between August, 2002 and March, 2003, the exact run up to the made up Iraq war based on lies and disinformation, some no doubt supplied by torture victims. In addition, a former high level former US intelligence officer told the McClatchy News Agency in 2009, " [F]or most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld were also demanding proof of the links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. … There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder."

To paraphrase a famous aphorism: "Oh what a tangled web we weave...when first we torture to deceive".

Thursday, December 18, 2014

FOIA no JOYA for Breuder

College of DuPage President Robert Breuder likes FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) except when it's used to uncover financial shenanigans at College of DuPage. Breuder told a group of local legislators "I think the law is a good law. It's well-intentioned. But like every law, it can be abused." He claims the FOIA requests received by COD "are pure harassment... an example of why we say there needs to be relief," Without substantiating the "pure harassment" charge, Breuder also charged the watchdog groups were "not looking out for the public interest." 

The COD public surely disagrees. Just attend tonight's COD Board meeting to see how appreciative the public is over information gleaned from those FOIA requests during the public comments section of the meeting. But bring along a portable cot to get catch some Z's while Breuder and the Board retire into closed executive session to encourage attendees to get tired and go home before the really substantive part of the meeting begins.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jeb Bush's presidential conflict of interest

The near certainty now that Jeb Bush will seek the presidency brings up an intriguing and highly personal conflict of interest. For rest of his life, Jeb's brother George will be subject to investigation and prosecution for war crimes. While many foreign countries would love the chance to do just that, George W. is careful about any foreign travel least he be arrested and whisked away to an international court of law.

But here in the US, Bush's successor has chosen to give him a pass. That is unfortunate and represents one of President Obama's biggest moral failings. The president still has two years to realize his legal and humanitarian responsibility to do the right thing. Though there is no Statue of Limitations for war criminals, action by Obama appears unlikely. So if Jeb puts his hand on the Bible come January 20, 2017, the torch for bringing George to justice transfers to brother Jeb.

I can imagine his answer the first time a reporter brings this issue up:

"Not gonna do it...wouldn't be prudent. Read my lips, no new war crime trials."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheney's favorite patriotic song

Though it harkens back to WWII, it's clear that former Vice President and Torturer in Chief, Dick Cheney's favorite patriotic song is: "We Did It before, And We Can Do It Again."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The difference between Republicans and Democrats

Republican Sen. John McCain, who was tortured, is the only Republican who has come out against torture. Every other Republican either supports torture or is silent. That's one big difference between Republicans and Democrats: Republicans have to be tortured to admit torture is torture. Democrats know instinctively, humanely, intuitively, that torture is torture.

Mr. Cosby, rape, censorship, and the power of art

I suspect that slow moving, decrepit looking, 77 year old Bill Cosby is past his serial seduction, or if necessary, rape days. Never a big fan of his Cosby Show, I'm not distressed about missing reruns on TV Land as I never watched. But I am concerned about the rush to erase Cosby from our cultural landscape. His art, whether as a stand up (now sit down) comedian, or as primal force behind one of the most successful sit coms e...ver, one with an uplifting boost for the black community, should not be censored from our culture. If we applied that standard across the board, some of our greatest artists would vanish from sight and sound. Knowing what we now know about Dr. Huxtable and Mr. Cosby, it actually heightens our sense of his artistry, astounded he could conceal his predatory alter ego for half a century before the floodgates of condemnation began ending, not only his career, but the historical record of his magnificent talent. I've been laughing at his early stand up comedy for most of that last half century on WFMT's Midnight Special. I trust progressive WFMT will not follow the foolish and shortsighted action of TV Land to banish Cosby from his legion of fans, his distressing predilections, notwithstanding.