30 April 2009
26 April 2009
I have been trying to figure out a way to write this, so that I don't alienate or offend anyone, well anymore than I usually do...
"The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency."
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin
23 April 2009
CHENEY: Everything that was done in this program, as has been laid out and described before, are tactics that our own people go through in SERE training.
22 April 2009
21 April 2009
19 April 2009
18 April 2009
In 2002, Jay Bybee (now a Federal Judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) wrote a memo as part of his duties with the Office of Legal Council. This assignment became the infamous "Bybee Memo". It made a legal argument for moving particular interrogations into an "increased pressure phase". This memo dealt with the treatment of Abu Zubaydah. His name should sound familiar. He was sold to most of us as an al Qaeda mastermind, more recent evidence suggests that he was more of a hanger on and should have never been considered a high value target. However, operating under the assumption that they had a meaningful intelligence target the CIA wished to use techniques that weren't "approved". This memo gave them (written to John Rizzo, Acting General Council to the CIA) the fuzzy legal rationale for doing things that were not only illegal, but were against the ideals of this nation. Or at least I think it is. Others seem to not be so sure.
Just so we are clear.....
When this memo was written - Torture was ILLEGAL under the United States Code. (It still is, but the code has been tweaked a bit).
United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 113, Section 2340 -- Definitions
As used in this chapter --
(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from --
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, or mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) "United States" includes all areas under the jurisdiction of the United States including any of the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this title and section 46501(2) of title 49.
United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 113, Section 2340A -- Torture
(a) Offense.--Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.--There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if--
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender
Contrary to what Rush seems to think, the outrage over these memos and the conduct of these interrogators is not about them slapping people around - or in the case of Joe Scarborough, we aren't upset by them throwing a little water in someone's face. The outrage is over waterboarding, over convincing detainees that the would be killed if they didn't talk, sleep deprivation (that according to the memo could be as long as 11 days), stress positions for hours upon hours, being crammed into a small dark, dank box for hours on end....these are things that we would not want to be done to American soldiers/citizens and as such we should under no circumstances use these techniques, no matter what kind of legal "loop holes" can be found.
One of my biggest issues with this is that these detainees often were subjected to these types of tactics, without being proven guilty of ANYTHING. Warlords turned people in for money - and we took their word for it. People were rounded up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you would like more information on this subject: I highly recommend the film: Taxi to the Dark Side.
If this film doesn't make you sick and angry at the conduct depicted, please seek help from a mental health professional.
Many seem to think the disclosure of these memos some how "weakens" our country. I wholeheartedly disagree. Conducting ourselves and governmental affairs under the rule of law has been an important principle of our nation since its founding. We have not always lived up to that principle - but I do not believe we should ever abandon the pursuit.
The disclosure of these memos is a step in the right direction. We must purge this and the rest of the demented frat boy behavior that has permeated the military/contractor/intelligence ranks. Bottom line...if we wouldn't want it done to one of ours, we shouldn't do it.
I was distressed that President Obama stated that the interrogators would not be prosecuted for their role in detainee abuse and torture. I hope that this does not mean that the legal minds that perverted our law to allow this will get off the hook. These people KNEW this was wrong - they ignored the spirit and bent the word of law to allow this. They must be held accountable, if there was pressure from above to make the case, they should be held accountable as well.
I have only read the first memo - I'm still trying to get through the others and the Red Cross report - so this will probably end up as a bit of a series. I am very interested in your input on this issue, so please don't be shy!
16 April 2009
15 April 2009
Are you a fellow patriot?
That's how I was greeted today, upon arriving at my local area Tea Party. I answered "yes, I am". I knew that it was code she was using (are you one of us?), but well, why not use that to my advantage.
I do consider myself a patriot - I'm an honest patriot. I feel the way to be truly patriotic is to speak the truth about your nation.
Let me say that I completely understand how someone could be exasperated with their government. I understand the idea of being upset over unnecessary spending - I remember the stories of the $3,000 hammers and $500 toilet seats. I can understand being upset about huge deficits. What I'm trying to figure out about the Tea Party movement is: What exactly are they protesting? Higher taxes? The Bailouts? Huge borrowing? Pork Barrel Spending? or are they protesting the election of a Democrat to the White House?
On higher taxes, I guess they all must make a helluva lot more than I do. It seemed to me that only the highest tax bracket was going to get an increase and it was only about 3%. Or are they protesting the "possibility" of new taxes?
On the Bailouts, where were they last fall when the Bush administration was in charge of this?
On Deficit Spending, do they not remember Reagan? Do they not remember a hugely expensive war? Again, where have they been?
On Pork Barrel Spending, I saw many Democrats named - but where were the Republican names to go with them?
On Obama - The hosts of our local event, stated that this was not a partisan movement, but I fear they do not realize they have been co-opted.
Over the past 8 years, I have been called a traitor, un-American, an America-hater, a commie - you name it. All because I voiced my feelings about my country and my leaders. Now the same people that harassed and scorned people like me - are protesting a President that has been in power for less than 100 days. But it's not partisan.
I guess my biggest issue - is when "protecting" the Constitution is mentioned. George W. Bush and his cronies used the Constitution to wipe their asses for 8 years - where was the outrage then? No, these were the same people that would tell you "I have nothing to hide" when it came to warrant-less wiretapping - or would say "I don't care what you do to the terrorists" when confronted about torture. I don't understand how that can be reconciled.
14 April 2009
NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE FIRST LADY'S CLOTHING!
This is a plea to all my media friends, please stop talking about what the First Lady is wearing. If she "recycles" outfits or pieces, or wears something that Oscar de la Renta doesn't like - IT'S NOT NEWS! Put that crap in Cosmo or People magazine, but please stop polluting my news sites with it.
We have a person, a real, breathing, thinking human being in the White House and he has a person, a real, breathing, thinking, human being as his wife. Instead of treating her like some Hollywood starlet, maybe focus on the things she's trying to do. The only story I've enjoyed ready about FLOTUS and her clothes, was the gardening story - where she had dirty kneed pants and velco sneakers. That was awesome...I can't imagine any of the other First Ladies that way.
The President and First Lady are not royalty - this idea that they are somehow breaching protocol by being human, is absurd.
*Yes I realize this is a fluff post about a fluff issue - but well, it happens (I have an excuse, I'm not a professional). I am hoping to get some video footage of my local Teabagger party tomorrow, assuming we don't get assaulted lol.
11 April 2009
I must admit I'm a fence-rider when it comes to the existence of God. I'm a skeptic, I think it's a story with some really good parts - but I also feel like there is way too much that has been tainted by the hands of men (the compilation of the Bible, for instance). But it was a bit comical this morning when I awoke to tapping on my screen door. Two Jehovah's Witnesses had chosen my house today. I wouldn't have really thought much of it if I hadn't posted my Blog Against Theocracy post last night - I thought the timing was funny. I guess I was being "punished". LOL.
On to other random things:
Notre Dame -
To those protesting the appearance of the President at Graduation. Please shut up. He's coming to address your commencement, not to become a Bishop. Your school has hosted several speakers who's views do not gel completely with Church doctrine...this is not a special circumstance. If you had an issue, you should have thought of that before you invited him to speak.
Arizona State University -
First off, it's an "honorary" degree...quit being stupid. While I disagree with the idea that the President is not "deserving" of an honorary degree, I have to admit I think the Scholarship program fits much better with what this President is about.
The Vatican -
Any one that knows me, knows that I am not a fan of the Vatican - it is nothing personal against followers of the Catholic faith, it is the Vatican itself. The repressive and regressive nature of it's doctrine, is something I can't agree with. Guess that's why I'm not Catholic. Anyway, the Vatican has decided that Caroline Kennedy is not worthy of being our Ambassador to the Vatican. My first thought is, why do we have an ambassador to the Vatican? My second thought is, fine - you don't like Caroline Kennedy because she's pro-choice, then well - you don't get an ambassador. Period.
Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying the Blog Against Theocracy, I realize that I'm not a very good writer when I read these posts...lol I have some work to do!
10 April 2009
Our founding fathers understood something...power corrupts everyone. To protect both the government and the church, they intentionally made sure to eliminate religious entanglements from our country's founding documents. So much of that wisdom seems lost now.
“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."
- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, 12/6/1813
"I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."
- Mike Huckabee, January 2008
What Mr. Huckabee and others like him do not seem to understand, is that our government was INTENTIONALLY created devoid of religion. Not just devoid of Christianity - but ALL religion. Aside from the date line, there is no mention of "God" in the document.
I have a feeling that Mr. Madison and Mr. Jefferson have been spinning in their respective graves, since at the very least the 1950s. Our money, our oaths of offices, our Pledge of Allegiance, offices of "faith based initiatives" - it wasn't supposed to be this way.
"Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and tese are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does not this involve the principle of a national establishment, applicable to a provision for a religious worship for the Constituent as well as the representative Body, approved by the majority, and conducted by Ministers of religion paid by the entire nation."
- James Madison, "Detached Memoranda"
Madison was concerned about Chaplains - and look where we are now.
During the Presidential elections of my lifetime, I cannot recall one where the candidate didn't feel the need to affirm his/her Christianity. Ask someone if they would vote for an Atheist for President - 53% of the time you'll get a "NO". So while we do not have a law that violates Article VI of the Constitution, we have a national attitude that does.
Article VI clearly states (emphasis added):
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
So what are we doing?
How is it that the same people who believe that the Constitution should be interpreted in the strictest manner are the same ones who focus only on the "freedom of religion" but ignore the "no law respecting the establishment of religion"? The people that believe in "intelligent design" can't see the intelligent design in our Constitution. The wall of separation between church and state is for the protection of ALL of us.
Our founding fathers understood this and they took measures to prevent religious arguments from damaging our Republic. We should be infinitely thankful for that.
Check out other Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm posts!
Awesome Art Courtesy of TheKarmicHammer
09 April 2009
1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.
So there it is folks, the new boogieman. This definition and those that might not see it as a bad thing are to be feared. They are coming for you. They are in your government. They wish to take your Plasma screen TV and put it up in the Town Square.
In case you haven't heard - our House of Representatives is besieged by Socialists! Now before you say "OMG! Our Country is Doomed!", please take a breath and realize, our country has ALWAYS had socialists. While not a card carrying member, I do have socialistic tendencies. I believe in Public Works, the Commons, the Government working for the benefit of its people (all of us - not just those of that can plunk down a giant donation). So the breaking news that we have socialists in our House - well, it didn't really bother me. What did bother me, was that someone felt the need to "flush" them out, make a list and then tell people about it.
I wasn't alive in the era of McCarthy, but from what I've learned in school and research, this should sound strangely familiar.
Republican Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama claims to be the listmaster...
Lets do the math on this folks...17 out of 435 members of the House...a whopping 4% of our House of Representatives MIGHT be Socialists!
"But he said he is worried that he is being steered too far by the Congress: "Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists."Asked to clarify his comments after the breakfast speech at the Trussville Civic Center, Bachus said 17 members of the U.S. House are socialists."
Here's the bigger issue are we really headed back to the days of interrogations and blackballing? Why can't we have a free flow of information and ideas? Why is it okay to have voices from the absolute right, but not from anywhere that is deemed "fringe" on the left?
Our Government, especially the House, should represent the people. That means Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Libertarians, Socialists....everybody.
I would like these 17 members of the House to come out and proudly proclaim their Socialism, but instead one of two things will happen. 1) We will find out that this guys idea of a Socialist is anyone that believes the Capital Gains tax is okay or 2) Fear will prevent it.
So to Rep. Bachus: Focus on the people of Alabama, the people of this country, not on grabbing headlines and furthering your political career - ya know, do your job!
08 April 2009
Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is "intensely secular" and "anti-religious," the former House Speaker's second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week.Well, Mr. Gingrich - our nation is secular. Our government is a secular entity. While I would not characterize the Obama administration as "intensely secular", I am happy to have a President that does not believe he was chosen by God to lead our nation.
In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama's choice of Harry Knox — an outspoken activist for gay rights — to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.
"I think their goal is to have a very secular America in which government dominates everything," he said. "Why wouldn't you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based group? It's a perfect pattern for this administration."
Here's some fun from tonight's Hardball on this subject:
This weekend is the annual Blog Against Theocracy! Make sure to check out all the great posts!
07 April 2009
I hope everyone is crafting their letters to their legislators! We have a RIGHT to healthcare! As much of a RIGHT as they do and it's time we show them!
I am requesting information from my readers, friends, family - their friends and family, random strangers - anyone.
What has your experience been with your health insurance? Did they deny services? Did they rescind your policy? Do they make you pay for pregnancy riders? What kind of problems have you had getting care? Are you uninsured and sick? Are you uninsured and scared?
I want your story!
Please email your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or if its something you don't mind sharing please leave comments!
TexBetsy at Relaxed Politics posted on Friday with more fun from Rachel Maddow - the problem of torture will haunt us for the foreseeable future, unless of course we have the intestinal fortitude to investigate and punish those responsible for this mess. The Capitol Beat has a good article on the need for investigation and prosecution.
It is time for the American people to make our elected officials understand that we will not have torture used in our names, we will not hide their skeletons in our closets and we have a need to know.
05 April 2009
As you know, I wrote to my Senators & to my Representative last week - regarding my feeling that they should forfeit their taxpayer funded healthcare, if they didn't support government funded healthcare for everyone. This is the response I got from Senator Roberts:
April 2, 2009
Well, here's my problem Senator Roberts, I wrote to you with a real concern and a real request, I did not request your position paper on Healthcare, I can get that on your website.
Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform in the 111th Congress. I appreciate your taking the time to get in touch.
I agree. The cost of health care is simply unbearable for many Kansas families. This is why I am working to provide access to quality, affordable health care for all Kansans. As a member of the Senate Health and Finance Committees, I have long supported efforts to give consumers better choices and more control over their health care. I support expanding tax incentives and health savings accounts to help individuals purchase health care. I am working to expand and improve health options for small businesses. I also support efforts to strengthen and improve the Medicare program for Kansas seniors.
We must also take steps to get at the heart of growing health care costs. One such improvement would be the adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT) by health care providers. Congress recently approved, and the President signed into law, P.L. 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which included $20 billion for HIT standards development and adoption incentives for providers and hospitals. Although I cosponsored HIT legislation in the 110th Congress, I have serious concerns about the HIT provisions in ARRA which were rushed through Congress so hastily that I fear the $20 billion for HIT will be wasted on initiatives that were not fully considered. In addition, many would argue that these funds, most of which will not be spent until 2011, are not sufficiently timely or targeted to stimulate the current economy.
Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) is another idea that many have advanced as a way to drive down health care costs. CER is the evaluation of the impact of different treatment options for a given medical condition and a particular set of patients. While I understand that CER holds promise for improving the quality of health care outcomes, I am concerned about the use of CER for the purpose of lowering costs. This strategy has led to the rationing of health care in countries that have adopted it. The ARRA included $1.1 billion for CER, with virtually no directions or restrictions on its intended use. I worry that such vague CER policies will ultimately result in fewer choices for patients and doctors. For these and other reasons, I could not support ARRA or the healthcare provisions contained within that bill.
Again thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at http://roberts.senate.gov. You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter that will provide additional updates on my work for Kansas.
With every best wish,
Tax incentives don't help people that are choosing between medicine and food, electricity, rent. It is easy to worry about "rationing" when you have access. Most uninsured people do not. The average doctor will not see patients if they know they can't pay. Isn't that "rationing"? Do you really need this explained to you?
Thanks for avoiding my request for you to forfeit your gold plated health care...nice to know you read your letters.
Who exactly is this man representing? Freakin' pathetic. Now of course I have to call his office.
Please take this seriously readers! Write/Call/Harass your legislators - until you get an answer!
04 April 2009
This morning, in Pittsburgh, PA - a disgruntled man shot and killed three police officers after they responded to what they thought was a domestic disturbance. The man was wearing a "bulletproof vest and armed with an AK-47, a long rifle and a pistol, Poplawski fired about 100 rounds during the standoff". Friends have been reported as saying the suspect (who is in custody) was convinced of a coming gun ban. (For the record, the only "gun ban" that has been mentioned is a ban on assault weapons sales).
Now, where would he get such an idea?
Think Progress has an excellent post this evening dealing with the right-wing hysteria and how it has resulted in an excellent sales for gun shops. The rhetoric coming out of the right has been at a fevered pitch lately. With Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann claiming that the world as they know it is going to end at the hands of the evil "liberals". It's no wonder that people get upset, these type of blatant lies and the campaign of misinformation has led to an entire section of the population being convinced of their truth. There are still people fighting the "Obama is not a citizen" fight, for pity's sake.
This reminds me a little bit of the militia activities after the Waco incident in the early 90s. It's always the same, "the government is coming for your guns, they are coming for your jobs and they are coming for you and your family". Then Oklahoma City happens - and it's all denials "Well, that guy was just crazy, I never meant anything like that..."
If I were to write on this blog repeatedly that I thought people who wear blue socks are bad and will be taking over the country and turning us in to a blue socks only nation* - and some lone nutjob read it and went out to kill someone wearing blue socks, I would expect some reprecussions for my rhetoric. But I fear many of the talking heads and a few Congresspeople - do not get that idea.
*This blog in no way endorses violence against blue socks, in fact I have a couple pairs. LOL
02 April 2009
Really this incident is just another in a string of disturbing occurances dealing with the rule of law. We had Justice Department lawyers - justifying torture, extraordinary rendition, warrentless wiretapping, permanent detention with out trial...why has no one been disbarred?
We can not claim to be the "shining beacon on a hill" while treating Lady Justice like a cheap whore. I think it's very important that Attorney General Holder establish a new beginning in the DOJ. Annouce publicly that these programs are unacceptable and illegal and will not be used anymore. While a lot of us will never fully trust the government - it's just our tin-foil hatted nature - I want to be able to trust in the intentions of my government and this would be a good place to start.
I did have one person point out that Republicans would be wise to forfeit their policies, because they have enough money to buy insurance and they would get political capital from such a maneuver.
My take on that would be, they would have to admit that they would take their ball and go home rather than share with the other kids. That type of attitude is not something we want in our elected government.
Please let me know if you have any ideas for getting the word out!