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David Brooks: Cheney Lost to Bush/Rice, not to Obama

Condoleezza Rice, unsung hero of the Bush administration?
The Bush-Cheney period lasted maybe three years. For Dick Cheney those might be the golden years. For Democrats, it is surely the period they want to forever hang around the necks of the Republican Party. But that period ended long ago.

By 2005, what you might call the Bush-Rice-Hadley era had begun. Gradually, in fits and starts, a series of Bush administration officials — including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Jack Goldsmith and John Bellinger — tried to rein in the excesses of the Bush-Cheney period. They didn’t win every fight, and they were prodded by court decisions and public outrage, but the gradual evolution of policy was clear.

From 2003 onward, people like Bellinger and Goldsmith were fighting against legal judgments that allowed enhanced interrogation techniques. By 2006, Rice and Hadley brought Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in from a secret foreign prison to regularize detainee procedures. In 2007, Rice refused to support an executive order reviving the interrogation program. Throughout the second Bush term, officials were trying to close Guantánamo, pleading with foreign governments to take some prisoners, begging senators to allow the transfer of prisoners onto American soil.
Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.

When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.
As for the treatment of terror suspects, Jack Goldsmith has a definitive piece called “The Cheney Fallacy” online at The New Republic. He lists a broad range of policies — Guantánamo, habeas corpus, military commissions, rendition, interrogation and so on. He shows how, in most cases, the Obama policy represents a continuation of or a gradual evolution from the final Bush policy.
Obama has taken many of the same policies Bush ended up with, and he has made them credible to the country and the world. In his speech, Obama explained his decisions in a subtle and coherent way. He admitted that some problems are tough and allow no easy solution. He treated Americans as adults, and will have won their respect.
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Sri Lanka: Satellite Images, Witnesses Show Shelling Continues
(New York) - New satellite imagery and eyewitness accounts contradict Sri Lankan government claims that its armed forces are no longer using heavy weapons in the densely populated conflict area in northern Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said today.

Local sources have reported that more than 400 civilians have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded since May 9, 2009, as a result of artillery attacks on the thin coastal strip where fighting continues between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

"Recent satellite photos and witness accounts show the brutal shelling of civilians in the conflict area goes on," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Neither the Sri Lankan army nor the Tamil Tigers appear to have any reluctance in using civilians as cannon fodder."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today issued a preliminary analysis of commercial high-resolution satellite imagery of the conflict zone that shows craters from the use of heavy weapons and the removal of thousands of likely structures used by internally displaced persons (IDPs) between May 6 and May 10. The AAAS found that it was "certainly unlikely that the IDPs would have moved en masse, and so completely without a compelling reason." Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped in the conflict area.

UK, US plea over Sri Lanka crisis
The US and UK have urged Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels to stop fighting "immediately" and allow an evacuation of trapped civilians.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her UK counterpart David Miliband also expressed alarm at the large number of reported civilian casualties.
The US and UK have urged Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels to stop fighting "immediately" and allow an evacuation of trapped civilians.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her UK counterpart David Miliband also expressed alarm at the large number of reported civilian casualties.
Where is Stephen Harper? Where is Canada?

Tamils protest at the White House, ask "coalition of the willing" to intervene in Sri Lanka. Coalition of the wh-what? Sigh.
Accusing Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa of abdicating his responsibility to save civilians in restive north, Tamil Americans
here have asked US President Barack Obama to send his forces to the strife-torn nation to save the lives of innocent people.

"This is pure and simple genocide. We are asking Obama administration to intervene to save the Tamils of Sri Lanka
by sending its army there. The Rajapaksa government has abdicated its responsibility to protect its Tamil citizens," alleged Elias Jeyarajah, leader of the protesting Tamil Americans.
"We are asking unilateral action by the 'Coalition of the Willing' led by the US to intervene in Sri Lanka to stop the genocide that is going on right now," he said.

Stating that thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were being killed by the Sri Lankan government, Jeyarajah said that this is the time and place to enforce 'Responsibility to Protect' provision of the United Nations.

"We urge all other countries including Britain and France to join this Coalition of the Willing," he said, adding civilized nations have the responsibility to protect when genocide happens.

The protestors also alleged that India was not coming forward to protect the Sri Lankan Tamils.

"This is the reason why the Tamils world over are urging other major countries of the world to save and protect the innocent Tamils by sending their troops to Sri Lanka," Jeyarajah said.

The India part might have something to do with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, hmmm?

Sri Lanka: Repeated Shelling of Hospitals Evidence of War Crimes
(New York) - The Sri Lankan armed forces have repeatedly struck hospitals in the northern Vanni region in indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Commanders responsible for ordering or conducting such attacks may be prosecuted for war crimes.

Patients, medical staff, aid workers, and other witnesses have provided Human Rights Watch with information about at least 30 attacks on permanent and makeshift hospitals in the combat area since December 2008. One of the deadliest took place on May 2, when artillery shells struck Mullaivaikal hospital in the government-declared "no-fire zone," killing 68 persons and wounding 87.
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The Morning After ‘American Idiot’ - Good article on the new Green Day album.
Obama Is Nudging Views on Race, a Survey Finds.
Voices Reflect Rising Sense of Racial Optimism in the wake of Obama's election. (Companion article to the survey above)

On a more sour note, if you read French:
De la haine d'Obama à la violence armée -- From hatred of Obama to armed violence... Talks about the increase in the number of right-wing extremist and hate crimes groups, and hatred of Obama in general from the like.

Speaking of which, [ profile] springheel_jack reposts: A longshot Georgia candidate for governor who’s already admitted having sex with a mule before finding God says he’s ready to sacrifice his own son in an effort to get his state to secede from the union.

Bonus for [ profile] icecreamemperor: Leonard Cohen transformed 'Hallelujah' into a revelation
frandroid: Slavoj Zizek, the most dangerous philosopher in the West (zizek)
This fun Zizek interview has U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency recruitment ad at bottom:

Google Ad on Zizek interview


Q: Have you ever said 'I love you' and not meant it?

A: All the time. When I really love someone, I can only show it by making aggressive and bad-taste remarks.

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Bush's Secret Dictactorship:

The memo was one of nine previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel documents released by Obama's Justice Department yesterday, most of them making baldly spurious legal arguments to support any number of unprecedented tactics that were either contemplated or employed by the White House.
At about the same time the documents were being released, Attorney General Eric Holder was making a speech putting them in context: "Too often over the past decade, the fight against terrorism has been viewed as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties," Holder said. "Not only is that school of thought misguided, I fear that in actuality it does more harm than good. I have often said that the test of a great nation is whether it will adhere to its core values not only when it is easy, but also when it is hard....
"There is no reason we cannot wage an effective fight against those who have sworn to harm us while we respect our most honored constitutional traditions. We can never put the welfare of the American people at risk but we can also never choose actions that we know will weaken the legal and moral fiber of our nation.""This theory of presidential power argues, in essence, that when the President acts in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, he may make his own rules and cannot be bound by Congressional laws to the contrary. This is a theory of presidential dictatorship.

"These views are outrageous and inconsistent with basic principles of the Constitution as well as with two centuries of legal precedents. Yet they were the basic assumptions of key players in the Bush Administration in the days following 9/11."

Scott Horton blogs for Harper's: "We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it."

The article linked at the top has links to many more reactions.

If Obama's only success is to clean up this legal mess, he will already have accomplished great work...

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Percentage of Pakistanis and Indonesians who say that attacks on civilians are sometimes justified to defend Islam: 8
Percentage of Americans who say that attacks on civilians are sometimes justified: 24

Source: Harper's Index
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To quote Bill Hicks from 1992: The elephant beast is dead!!

Which brings me back to my everlasting mantra... It's all ebb and flow, ebb and flow. We're cresting the wave tonight, let's hope it carries us a long way, and drowns the forces of darkness that now stand behind us.

I'd like to remind everyone that the electoral college numbers may give a mandate, but the popular vote is more nuanced: 52-47%. In spite of McCain's atrocious campaign, atrocious running-mate choice, in spite of his 90% voting record with Bush, in spite of his support of Bush's worst policy, in spite of all the negative campaigning, in spite of all that, McCain still got 47% of the vote.
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I dont need to be a global citizen
Because Im blessed by nationality
Im member of a growing populace
We enforce our popularity
There are things that
Seem to pull us under
And there are things
That drag us down
But theres a power
And a vital presence
Thats lurking all around
Weve got the american jesus
See him on the interstate
Weve got the american jesus
He helped build the
Presidents estate
I feel sorry
For the earths population
cuz so few
Live in the u.s.a.
At least the foreigners
Can copy our morality
They can visit but they cannot stay
Only precious few
Can garner the prosperity
It makes us walk
With renewed confidence
Weve got a place to go when we die
And the architect resides right here
Weve got the american jesus
Overwhelming millions every day
(exercising his authority)
Hes the farmers barren fields
The force the army wields
The expession in the faces
Of the starving children
The power of the man
Hes the fuel that drives the clan
Hes the motive and conscience
Of the murderer
Hes the preacher on t.v.
The false sincerity
The form letter thats written
By the big computers
Hes the nuclear bombs
And the kids with no moms
And Im fearful that
Hes inside me

(back vocals: "one nation, under god!")
frandroid: Stephen Colbert giving a thumbs up in from of the American Flag (Colbert)
The Audacity of Hopelessness, a New York Times article showing how Bush-like shock-and-awe thinking is what sank Hillary against Obama's grassroots organizing campaign. It's quite stunning.
frandroid: large crowd of indian women (south asia)

Free Burma!

I'm a day early, but whatever. Maybe it'll be the 4th by the time you read this.

Burmese military arrests more dissidents [from CBC]

I posted a note on my Facebook, linking to various articles providing background on the big international players in this struggle (or rather, against this struggle). has a petition. Schmetition, I say, but I signed it anyway.

It's interesting that it's aimed at China (at least, it's aimed at Hu Jintao in particular, not "the Chinese"). Ahh, China, the easily found source of all our troubles. Why not India (partnership on Nagaland insurgency)? Thailand (largest source of external income for Burma)? even Russia? Russia has vetoed the UNSC motion of Burma along with China. Also, there already are rumours that China is weighing behind the scenes on the Burmese generals, whereas Russia is probably doing jack all. Anyway. Don't fall in the easy [China = Evil] trap. It's not paradise, but it's not hell either. One must take into account that China's relationship with Burma has largely to do with the threat that the U.S. creates for China around the Strait of Malacca, its only sea passage for oil and goods. It is because of this choking threat that China has sought a safe passage though Burma for oil and goods.

Once again, I'll be working during the next Toronto protest (Oct. 6, 6pm, Chinese consulate, 240 St. George St.), so I won't be going. Maybe you will? Please post pictures.
frandroid: We are the Canadian Borg. Resistance would be impolite. Please wait to be assimilated. Pour l'assimilation en français.. (canada)
Passports needed to fly to U.S. starting Jan. 23


I have always made a point to travel to the U.S. on my birth certificate, just because I could. Travelling on a passport means that you need to be a reputable Canadian, i.e. you need to have the approval of your two (or one?) approved professionals; the fact that you are born in this country is not sufficient anymore.

When I moved to Toronto from Vancouver and needed my passport (to go to France), this was a major pain in the ass for me as I did not know any bloody professionals for two years; I had arrived just a year prior. I finally managed to convince some people to sign for me, but still. I was born here, and I was not going to travel to Québec City to get my documents signed. But what if I just wasn't a sick person? What if I hadn't needed the services of a lawyer? What if I brushed my teeth every day and didn't need a dentist? What if I didn't go to university (which I hadn't, at the time) and didn't know any professors?

I.e., if you happen to be a healthy, working class person, it's harder for you to get a passport than if you are a higher-educated or higher-earning crook that just happens not to have been caught yet. I mean, there's something like a quarter or a third of Canadians that don't have a family doctor.

* * *

In an ironic way, this is going to make "terrorist" detection more difficult: If we follow the logic of racial/immigrant profiling, immigrants and second-generation Canadians are more likely to be terrorists. But being immigrants/2nd-gen, they are much more likely to carry a passport, since they are much more frequent overseas travellers than the average public. By making the passport mandatory, they are diluting the pool of people they have to profile from.
frandroid: The letter "L" followed by Mao's face, making the LMAO acronym. (lol)
"That neighborhood was one endless drunken football riot party deck date rape booze fest police state jock fraternity nightmare." --[ profile] commandercranky, comment in a locked post, talking about state universities.

What American accent do you have? meme )
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (great worm)
Timer Harper in the Star:
In Iran, a galvanizing of a splintered nation. An end to hopes for political reform, a rally-around-the-leader phenomenon common among the victimized, an ability to rebuild a nuclear program in two to four years.

The text in bold... You would think that a certain U.S. president would remember how he consolidated his power, eh?

But the cost of inaction could be even higher: a defiant nation with an apparently unstable leadership steeped in hatred for Americans in the heart of the Middle East with nuclear capabilities.

Swap around "Americans" with "the Middle East". Again, is anyone not reminded of what the political landscape was like in late 2001?

"It's going to be tough because they are led by ideologues who have a weird sense of history."

Once again...

Before he did so, he dismissed any influence of the United Nations, according to state media. "They know they cannot do a damned thing," he said.


And at the end of the article, someone actually does point out how Bush should look back on his own history to understand what the reaction would be:

But Pollack adds a sobering point. If the administration truly believes it cannot live in a world in which Iran has nuclear weapons, the military option may be the only way to prevent that.

But it would be seen as an unprovoked attack on a country that has attacked no one. It would be likened to Osama bin Laden's attack on the U.S., Pollack said, reminding his audience how the United States responded to that.


He argues, as many do, that Bush already has congressional approval and needs not go back to lawmakers.

This is of course a complete mockery of democracy.

The full article: U.S. strike on Iran could make Iraq look like a warm-up bout
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From the CBC profiles of Liberal leadership candidates:

As a Liberal MP, Godfrey co-sponsored a protest private member's bill in 1996 as a response to the American Helms-Burton Act. The U.S. law set up punishments on any business or person that profited from the seizure of property from American businesses and people during the 1950s Cuban Revolution, including a number of Canadian companies. The Godfrey-Milliken Bill was a tongue-in-cheek analogy of the bill, calling for Canadian descendents of United Empire Loyalists (Godfrey among them) who fled the American Revolution to be able to reclaim land and property that was confiscated by the U.S. government.

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From Harold Pinter's Nobel prize acceptance speech:
I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man's man.

'God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.'

* * *

I need a new Bush/imperialism icon.

* * *

Rumsfeld also took a swipe at Annan, saying: "He's never been to Guantanamo Bay," whereas representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross "stayed there, lived there 24 hours a day" to observe conditions.

"That place is being run as well as any detention facility can be run," he added, his voice rising.

"It's absolutely beyond comprehension," he said, that calls for closing Guantanamo Bay can be based on allegations of mistreatment and torture by the prisoners, whom Rumsfeld said are trained to lie.

A UN report issued earlier this week said some of the treatment of prisoners amounts to torture.

So since Rumsfeld is saying that Annan doesn't know what he's talking about since he hasn't been there, the U.S. will surely invite UN observers to visit the camp in order to observe that it is in concordance with all articles of the Geneva Convention, right?


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