Red Lighthouse wallpaper

Red Lighthouse wallpaper

By way of Think Progress, Fox Analyst Suggests That Captured American Soldier Should Be Killed by Captors

Fox News Strategic Analyst Lt. Col. Ralph Peters appears to view trials as something of an unnecessary expense. Here was heard this week telling Fox News that, if captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, did leave his post — then “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles” by killing Bergdahl.

The clip indicates that there is more commonality between some Americans and Al Qaeda than previously assumed. What is really striking is how the Fox host tries to moderate the comments by saying that no one wishes harm to come to any soldier — only to have Peters tell her to think about the other soldiers.

If we assume the worse about Pfc. Bowe Bergdah, proceed with a trial by media pundits/analysts and a few right-wing blogers we could save the tax payers a few dollars by not gathering the facts and calling witnesses and use Fox News to send a message to the Taliban to do the Right a favor and carry out an execution. The very conservative Blackfive blog is suggesting people be patient about passing judgement, but this comment is typical of some of the far Right’ thinking (there are simlar comments at Michelle Malkins blog. Until she schrubs them anyway).

Froggy said…

This guy has already embarrassed the country by foolishly leaving his post without permission, and then getting himself sold to the taliban. There are many people over there risking their lives to find this guy, and if one of them is KIA trying to repatriate him, that would be a massive tragedy and a terrible waste. Many resources needed to support the ongoing offensive have been diverted to look for this jerk, and perhaps we have already lost some guys due to a lack of something they should have had at their disposal. I certainly hope not, but that is distinctly possible.

In Froggy’s world no soldier ever trips, loses an ammo clip, makes a wrong turn or makes any other human error, because if they do they deserve to die. All that stuff about Semper Fi is jettisoned by the Right as soon as a comrade in arms may or may not have followed the letter of the Uniform Code of Conduct. Some conservatives seem ready to mail the Taliban the bullets to get rid of Bergdah not only in lieu of a trial, but based on unconfirmed reports. These would be the same people that thought draft avoider Dubya and multiple deferments Cheney could do no wrong.

Washington Monthly puts Obama’s slight slip in the polls in perspective,

Economic conditions are still awful in much of the country; the president has not had a major legislative success story in a while; and it’s understandable that the public would start to feel anxious and impatient.

But in context, a 59% approval rating is quite strong under the circumstances, and Obama’s leads over the GOP should send a signal to policymakers about which direction the nation would prefer to go.

Public approval of Congressional Republicans is at 36%. Republicans that are doing the pee pee dance might also want to consider that Obama is slipping a couple points because progressive Democrats are very disappointed with Obama’s Wall Str cuddling economic plans and his Bush-lite policies on executive powers. So far Obama is a shoe in for reelection. The two things that will change that are a jobless recovery (10% or worse unemployment) and continuing to ignore the progressive side of the Democratic Party.

From last week, CIA Investigation Will Go Deeper Than Cheney’s Program

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, told the Huffington Post that the 9/11 secret counterterror program that is being characterized as “non-operational” was much more than it’s being made out to be.

The House intelligence committee’s investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency, announced on Friday by Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), will include probes by subcommittee chairs to penetrate deeper into CIA behavior.

Schakowsky’s subcommittee has been given the green light to investigate its legality and is already preparing a major document request.

Stand back, a Congressional investigation, someone is maybe, sometime in the indefinite future, going to get their hand slapped. Today, one of the minority of Democrats willing to stand up for the Constitution and rule of law slaps down Obama’s Intel Chief, Senator Russ Feingold Hits Obama’s Intel Chief: You’re Wrong, CIA Officials May Have Broken Law

According to a story on Thursday in the Washington Post, you stated that the failure to notify the congressional intelligence committees about a program recently cancelled by CIA Director Leon Panetta did not violate the law. I disagree and believe that the program in question fit squarely within the notification requirements of the National Security Act. I therefore request that you provide me with your analysis, and any analysis by the DNI General Counsel, supporting your conclusion.

Who knows, maybe their will be some actual consequences.

Virginia congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) has a great future in the Republican party. He’ll party, lie and distort just like they did in 2003, Eric Cantor’s Cant

Virginia congressman Eric Cantor may be a GOP rising star, but he sure is a hypocrite. How else to describe someone who’s a leading critic of President Obama’s Recovery Act and joins his congressional colleagues to urge Virginia’s Department of Transportation to apply for stimulus money for high-speed rail? If that isn’t two-faced, what is ?

He’s also a demagogue: ” Millions of jobs will be crushed by the Administration’s policies.” Say what? The stimulus may have been too small and overemphasized tax cuts, but it’s helped states, including his own, with longer unemployment benefits, expanded food stamps and subsidies for people who’ve lost jobs to extend their health insurance. It’s also kept teachers in the classroom, cops on the street and got workers rehired. Hours after Cantor delivered the GOP’s weekly radio address blasting the stimulus, Vice-President Biden announced that $ 1.5 million of the bill’s money would go to the Richmond Police Department to retain officers. And $20 million is going to Chesterfield County, a suburb of Richmond, to help 275 teachers from being fired. Virginia’s working men and women should remember that Cantor fought hard to cut a provision in the stimulus bill that was designed to help low income workers.

If Cantor really cared about helping working Americans and the Bush legacy unemployed he would adjust his agenda from trying to stop Democrats to trying to help Democrats help America. He’d have to be a grown-up to do that so expect more meaningless blather from one of the brightest stars of the Con Crew.

Black and White wheat field and horizon wallpaper

Black and White wheat field and horizon wallpaper

RNC Chairman Michael Steele with some help with Dubya and Cheney are determined to give the country economic whiplash. We know that Bush and Republicans spent money like there was no tomorrow because they, though certainly not America, won either way. A lot of the Bush-Republican spending was about pandering to special interest. As Bush was leaving office he even touted his Medicare drug benefit program as one of his great accomplishments. One could call it corporate socialism ( still a guiding principle of conservatism), corruption or just crazy, but that drug benefit was a huge burden on Medicare and working Americans payroll taxes. Having had six years to learn some math, the normal math the rest of us use, one would hope Republicans would improve. RNC Chairman Michael Steele, in the grand Republican tradition has embraced what got Bush through eight years, the big lie. Tell them big and often – RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s Fuzzy Math: Obama Administration Created $10 Trillion National Deficit

Steele proceeded to launch into a rambling answer that used fuzzy math to assert that, in only six months, President Obama has added “10 trillion dollars” to the national deficit, while President Bush is to blame for only “a trillion”:

[   ]…Steele is clearly confusing the difference between our national debt, which stands at roughly $11.4 trillion, and this year’s budget deficit, which just exceeded $1 trillion.

To help jog Steele’s memory, here’s a bit of a deficit recap: Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion in 2001. Budget experts projected a $710 billion surplus for 2009 when he came into office. But the deficit soon exploded, thanks largely to the Bush tax cuts — which accounted for 42 percent of the deficit. When Bush left office, he handed President Obama a projected $1.2 trillion budget deficit for this year, the largest ever.

As for the debt, when President Bush took office, it was $5.73 trillion. When he left, it was $10.7 trillion.

Just last month, the New York Times published the results of an examination from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The report, which examined federal spending stretching back almost a decade, found that Obama “is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits”

Putting aside the utter lack of integrity of the conservatives that belong to the big lie school of politics, there are some positive aspects. Steele reminds us that Republicans have no desire to reinvent themselves as the honorable opposition. Steele also gives us the opportunity to once again debunk this widespread and patently false talking point that is often repeated by the far right media. They conflate and distort  deficits and the national debt to make it look like Bush inherited a headache and left the country in great shape and some how President Obama managed to create the current economic crisis in six short months. Its ironic that Bush and Republicans had decided, despite tons of warnings along the way, to run our economic train off the rails before Obama was even a Senator. Steele and his comrades were the original steal from the future of the middle-class to make the wealthy wealthier party.

Lighthouse on Rocky Shore wallpaper

Lighthouse on Rocky Shore wallpaper

Cheney’s secret CIA program seems to be unraveling in small threads, CIA Assassin Program Was Nearing New Phase – Panetta Pulled Plug After Training Was Proposed

The plan to kill top al-Qaeda leaders, which had been on the agency’s back burner for much of the past eight years, was suddenly thrust into the spotlight because of proposals to initiate what one intelligence official called a “somewhat more operational phase.” Shortly after learning of the plan, Panetta terminated the program and then went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, who had been kept in the dark since 2001.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said that it was the administration did the right thing by canceling the program because of it’s “effectiveness, maturity and the level of control.”Yet also claims that the CIA did not do anything wrong by not informing Congress. According to the Intelligence Oversight Act intel agencies are required by law to inform Congress of any covert operations and the Hughes-Ryan Act. The the WaPo goes on to report uncritically,

Republicans say the allegations of CIA wrongdoing are false and harmful, and some accused Democrats of raising the issue to deflect attention from recent controversies surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who was heavily criticized after accusing the agency of lying to Congress about its use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.

The only controversy surrounding Speaker Pelosi and the CIA is the wholly contrived conservative gambit that the Speaker might have known about the torture, that these same Republicans supported. The Speaker, through some bizarre logic is guilty of something for not screaming loud enough to stop it. That is not a controversy, that’s called a right-wing talking point, a misdirection. Nice to see the media still going along and assisting Republicans with that disinformation.

The finding imposed no geographical limitations on the agency’s actions, and intelligence officials have said that they were not obliged to notify Congress of each operation envisaged under the directive.

It would not have violated the law to send such teams into Afghanistan. Just speaking for myself I always supported the use of the CIA and Special forces to carry out surgical strikes against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Besides the tactical victories, such successful strikes would have had a demoralizing effect on the al-Qaeda. Though it has been against the law since the days of the Church Committee to start sending out teams of assassins. In a report from the L.A. Times,

According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the CIA spent seven years trying to assemble teams capable of killing the world’s most wanted terrorists but could never find a formula that worked.

[  ]…But officials could not solve daunting logistical problems, including how to get teams close to their targets while keeping U.S. involvement secret and being able to extract them safely if they succeeded in killing a terrorist.

In particular, officials said, ambitions for the program expanded to include creating teams that were made up not only of CIA personnel but counterparts from other countries, presumably Pakistan; and to be capable not just of killing high-value targets but also executing raids and other operations to gather evidence and intelligence that might lead to elusive Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.

In every report is the disclaimer that the program did not get very far, when obviously the concept had enough merit to be seriously considered over the course of seven years. Here a gin is the claim that it was about targeting terrorists on a sanctioned battlefield in Afghanistan. That would have been legal and hardly worth the VP of the U.S. to personally make efforts to keep the proper members of Congress from being informed. Without accountability and oversight we just have one or more people in a president’s administration in conjunction with the CIA carrying out a secret war. Iran-Contra redux. Only Congress has the power to authorize war, at least as far as the Constitution is concerned, even if our history has shown that has hardly stopped presidents from doing so.

One CIA official in the L.A. Times story mentions the Bourne movies. Its that aspect among the huge abuses of executive authority and secrecy that makes the story interesting. Republicans need not blow a casket worrying about any actual investigation. Even when we have had investigations as in the Iran-Contra scandal, many of those convicted : Admiral John Poindexter was found guilty of multiple felonies and was later hired by George W. Bush ( if the average citizen is ever convicted of a felony they become ineligible to work in sensitive government posts) and Elliot Abrams who plea bargained his Iran-Contra charges down to a fine and probation – also later hired to work for a time in the Bush 43 administration. While in recent history Scooter Libby was convicted on four federal crimes and soon had his sentence commuted by Bush. While former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards turned out to be a sleazebag in his personal life, no truer words were ever spoken when he said ( to paraphrase) there are two Americas. In one, average Americans have can have their lives ruined by stealing an apple, be arrested and thrown in jail for smoking a cigarette in a restaurant or be impeached for having an encounter with an intern. In the other America the elite can not only get away with grievous crimes against the American people, but be rewarded for it.

Fox Continues Promoting Birther Lawsuit While Ignoring Red Flags Indicating It’s A Hoax

So, Maj. Cook filed a request to serve the Commander-in-Chief in Afghanistan on May 8, well after Obama had assumed the presidency, but now, about two months later, is claiming that Obama is not qualified to be president. And instead of going through the administrative process to revoke his orders, which would seem to be a pro forma matter, he sued in federal court.

Per Newshounds even some rightie bloggers have pointed out how deeply sleazy Maj. Cook is being. The unit he would have been with will now either be short one commanding officer or someone will get obscenely short notice to pack and go to take Cook’s place.

Goldberg, Hannity, Palin and CNN Mangle the Facts

Maybe conservatives have been watching too many cheesy detective movies where someone edits bits and pieces of conversation together and always gets caught in their oh so clever black-mail scheme, Jonah Goldberg picks out bits of a Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in an New York Times Magazine piece to prove the Ginsburg is pro eugenics. Goldberg has displayed similar respect for the truth and nothing but the truth in his garbled history of fascism, a book in which the history of fascism in Spain, among other inconvenient facts ruined his narrative, so he left them out. This is not a new tactic on the conservative side of the spectrum. Its the guiding principle behind the vast majority of conservative web sites. It has moved to become a major attack technique among republican media. Sean Hannity cannot seem to make a an argument against President Obama without resorting to highly edited portions of video, Hannity again crops Obama’s comments abroad in order to smear him. Hannity’s audience is not exactly going to trouble themselves with fact checking. Hannity doles out what they want to hear. As a propaganda tactic how effective can that be. He’s convincing people that would hate Obama and Democrats regardless of showing the full video or quoting full comments within context. So Hannity cannot be interested in winning over more moderate and fair minded Americans. He seems to think there is enough of a rabid far Right base remaining, that given the proper motivation will return the country to the good old days of Bush.

Sarah Palin is trying her hand at punditry courtesy the Washington Post. One assumes this is the first step in becoming a powerful voice on national, rather then just Alaskan issues. That being the case wouldn’t it behoove her to learn something about energy policy, cap and trade and at least a layman’s knowledge of climate science. Energy Non-Savant Palin Blasts Obama Plan in Op-Ed

Still, for Palin ignorance remains no barrier when it comes to the search for ersatz gravitas. Decrying as usual “the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges,” Palin’s op-ed never once mentions terms like “global”, “warming” and “climate” at the center of the cap-and-trade debate. Conveniently ignoring studies detailing the minimal costs to American consumers and viewing the same kinds of employment transition provisions as typically found in trade deals as some kind of smoking gun…

Climate Progress notes that experience and facts are both wasted on Palin,

In fact, Palin is so ignorant of energy, so practiced at repeating falsehoods, that in September, during the campaign, the Washington Post itself gave her its highest (which is to say lowest) rating of “Four Pinocchios” for continuing to “to peddle bogus [energy] statistics three days after the original error was pointed out by independent fact-checkers.”

Palin and McCain seem to be out to undermine the old bromide that wisdom comes with age.

Committee for Justice : Obama Is Putting a Terrorist On The Bench! or is the Right remotely capable of making a point without sounding like shrill little mice,

Now they’re out with an over-the-top and nonsensical new TV ad that equates her with William Ayers and claims that she supported terrorism by serving on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF):

But as the Hispanic National Bar Association – which is mainstream by any standard – wrote last week on behalf of 26 prominent national Hispanic groups: “PRLDEF is a mainstream and respected civil rights organization that serves not only the Latino community, but the nation as a whole.”

Since Sotomayor is certainly going to be confirmed its good to see that the Right still knows how to waste money. Those ads will be a little less money used in another campaign against another decent mainstream American.

Glenn Greenwald is right about CNN’s incredibly sloppy journalism, CNN’s journalism on the Cheney story

Is any of that true?   CNN has no idea and doesn’t care.  Finding out what is and is not true is not the role of the establishment journalist.  They’re there simply to lay out the terms of the debate by writing down what other people say.  And what motives might these “two former officials” have to defend Cheney?  Are they blind Cheney loyalists such as Michael Hayden?  People who have a vested interest in shielding these activities from investigations?

True enough, but Glenn might be asking too much for CIA officials to go on record and allow use of their names. We’re probably not going to see that happen even in the very unlikely event of a Congressional investigation. Its CNN’s failure to question such a crazy narrative. Cheney’s program was important enough for the VP to tell the CIA to keep it off the record, but not important enough to inform the gang of eight in Congress. We also have another CIA source claiming the program was active and resulted in at least one assassination. professionalism and ethics should have compelled the Conservative News Network to provide a more balanced version of events.

Cheney’s Secret Program May Have Involved Dispatching Assassination Teams

The NYT is reporting that Cheney’s secret program was a plan to send small teams of assassins to various countries, C.I.A. Had Plan to Assassinate Qaeda Leaders

Officials at the spy agency over the years ran into myriad logistical, legal and diplomatic obstacles. How could the role of the United States be masked? Should allies be informed and might they block the access of the C.I.A. teams to their targets? What if American officers or their foreign surrogates were caught in the midst of an operation? Would such activities violate international law or American restrictions on assassinations overseas?

The program was supposed to replace or supplement seizing anyone they thought might be a terrorist. We know that seizing suspects turned out to have had questionable results, as some suspected terrorist such as an innocent taxi driver driver were abducted off the street and the Uyghurs Chinese that ended up at Guantanamo Bay detainment camp ( More here German Arrest Warrants for CIA Kidnapping, Torture of Khaled El-Masri Come as US Extraordinary Rendition Scrutinized Around the Globe). As morally reprehensible as acts such as those were, deciding on the spot that the suspect was guilty and to carry out an immediate execution would have been more so. That said some have made the argument that such squads would be no different then the CIA using drones to kill insurgents in Afghanistan. That’s arguable since Afghanistan would be considered a battlefield and any president acting under the authority of the original Authority to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress could order the CIA or Special Forces to take out specific targets. Spencer Ackerman in Drone Attacks Signal CIA’s Willingness to Assassinate Terrorists – Recently Uncovered Program Wasn’t Sole Approach to Agency’s Targeting Killings gets into the question of whether executive order EO 12333 comes into play

“Killing people during war is different from the U.S. government targeting specific persons, outside a battle zone, for killing,” said Vicki Divoll, a former lawyer for both the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “And even in the so-called war on terror, most lawyers who study this issue believe that targeted killing of a named terrorist falls within the ban in a presidential executive order that has been around since the Ford administration.”

The executive order Divoll referred to has come to be known as EO 12333, which President Reagan issued in 1981, building on the efforts of Presidents Ford and Carter. It states, “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

Anyone blogging on this issue might want to pause for a moment and reconsider using 12333 as the bulk of their argument. It is an executive order, not a legislative act. Presidents can make and break them. Bush trashed Clinton era orders by the dozens and Obama has already rescinded several of Bush’s executive orders. Then to reiterate, Clinton, Bush and and now Obama have used CIA drones to attack al Qaeda and its leaders in Afghanistan. Because of civilian casualties it might not be the best strategy, but is not illegal. Equally important is those strikes do not fall under the discretion of executive orders, but are done with Congressional authority to fight a foreign enemy on the battlefield. So all of this is legal so far, what’s the problem with Cheney’s program.

In 2005, the Pentagon publicly acknowledged a program launched in concert with the CIA to create mixed civilian-military “Strategic Support Teams” for the al-Qaeda hunt. Lawmakers at the time expressed some concern about the teams, but none called them illegal. Nor have any lawmakers assailed the legality of the CIA’s drone strikes.

“I think its taken for granted these are acts of war at a time of war,” said Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy expert with the Federation of American Scientists. “That’s why it seems to me there must be something more than that involved here.”

The Guardian gets a little more into the possible illegal aspect of the secret program, Dick Cheney ‘hid plans to kill al-Qaida operatives abroad’

Former counter-terrorism officials who retain close links to the intelligence community say that the hidden operation involved plans by the CIA and the military to launch operations, similar to those by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, to hunt down and kill al-Qaida activists abroad without informing the governments concerned, even though some were regarded as friendly if unreliable.

The CIA apparently did not put the plan in to operation but the US military did, carrying out several assassinations including one in Kenya that proved to be a severe embarrassment and helped lead to the quashing of the programme.

Its easy to imagine the outrage of the average American if Russia sent hot squads to America to target people they considered terrorists because they were making financial contributions to or cultivating dissent in the former Soviet state of Georgia. Or French special forces teams were hunting down some home grown terrorists that had fled to the U.S.

There also remains the issue of not informing Congress. Since we know that targeting al Qaeda figures has been going on without political opposition since the Clinton administration, if Cheney’s secret unit was only doing that, there would be no reason to use his questionable authority to hide a similar program from the gang of eight. The House and Senate intel committees were chaired by Republicans during the time Cheney started the program. The Right’s reaction has been it did not get off the ground ( except we now know about this incident in Kenya) and it was thus not important enough to inform Congress. Programs that involve assassination teams dropped into foreign countries with whom we are not at war makes that argument ingenuous and dishonest. Questions also remain as to whether 4th Branch Cheney and or Bush may have violated the National Security Act.

US Wilderness Detail Map wallpaper

US Wilderness Detail Map wallpaper

Of all outlets the Wall Street Journal seems to confirm the speculation that Cheney’s little CIA project was some kind of “targeted assassinations” project that begin in 2001 aimed at al Qaeda leaders. It never really got off the ground. Reports that new CIA chief Panetta ended it means that all he actually did was kill funding for something that had accomplished nothing in seven years. For the president to order the military to track and kill combatants is legal. The problem is the Iran-Contra aspect; creating an obviously controversial secret program to pursue assassinations and do so through the imagined authority of Mr. 4th Branch, Liz Cheney: Investigating My Dad Would Prove Americans ‘Can’t Trust’ Democrats With National Security

Of course, Cheney is dodging the issue of whether Bush and Cheney fulfilled their obligations under the National Security Act of 1947, which says that congressional intelligence committees must be “kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”

Moderate American speak about the rule of law, obligations to inform its elected representatives and the questionable authority of the VP to have his own little secret programs and Republicans pull out their classic deflection responses. The fact is Liz’s poor old dad and that other guy had seven years to get Bin laden and failed because their urge to get their Iraq war on blinded them to more urgent and consequential matters. If Dick felt he needed to break the law and violate the trust of the American people the very least he could have done is accomplish something. Back tracking for a moment, the WSJ article might not have the whole story, New Info Brings More Questions On Secret CIA Program

Perhaps most importantly, a program, launched immediately after September 11 to capture or kill top al Qaeda operatives just doesn’t seem sufficiently radioactive to have provoked the kerfuffle it has. To be sure, Congress outlawed targeted CIA assassinations in the 1970s in response to the excesses of 50s and 60s, and the issue played a key role in the move during the same period to give Congress greater powers to oversee the agency. And if the program allowed CIA to act without the consent or knowledge of liaison services in the countries where the targets were located, that’s obviously a big deal.

Still, the US military has openly been trying to get Osama bin Laden and other top Qaeda leaders “dead or alive” since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Would CIA involvement in that effort be so explosive that it would not only need to be kept from Congress in the first place, but would also have been shut down by Panetta as soon as he learned about it?

As I said above its not illegal or reason to hide the direction of say Special Forces to hunt down combatants so why would a secret program be required.  al Qaeda is estimated to have cells in 25 or more countries. If the secret program involved spiriting in agents to those countries, sans agreements with their government to start  being judge, jury and assassinating squad – that would be illegal.

E.J. Dionne Jr. on the inevitable though ultimately lame rightwing attacks to be expected against Sotomayer, The Real Court Radicals

If you wonder what judicial activism looks like, consider one of the court’s final moves in its spring term.

The justices had before them a simple case, involving a group called Citizens United, that could have been disposed of on narrow grounds. The organization had asked to be exempt from the restrictions embodied in the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law for a movie critical of Hillary Clinton that it produced during last year’s presidential campaign. Citizens United says it should not have to disclose who paid for the film.

Rather than decide the case before it, the court engaged in a remarkable exercise of judicial overreach. It postponed its decision, called for new briefs and scheduled a hearing this September on the broader question of whether corporations should be allowed to spend money to elect or defeat particular candidates.

What the court was saying was that it wanted to revisit a 19-year-old precedent that barred such corporate interference in the electoral process. That 1990 ruling upheld what has been the law of the land since 1947, when the Taft-Hartley Act banned independent expenditures by both corporations and labor unions.

To get a sense of just how extreme (and, yes, activist) such an approach would be, consider that laws restricting corporate activity in elections go all the way back to the Tillman Act of 1907, which prohibited corporations from giving directly to political campaigns.

It is truly frightening that a conservative Supreme Court is seriously considering overturning a century-old tradition at the very moment the financial crisis has brought home the terrible effects of excessive corporate influence on politics.

In the deregulatory wave of the 1980s and ’90s, Congress was clearly too solicitous to the demands of finance. Why take a step now that would give corporations even more opportunity to buy influence? With the political winds shifting, do conservatives on the court see an opportunity to fight the trends against their side by altering the rules of the electoral game?

Such an “appalling” ruling, Schumer said in an interview, “would have more political significance than any case since Bush v. Gore.” He added: “It would dramatically change America at a time when people are feeling that the special interests have too much influence and the middle class doesn’t have enough. It would exacerbate both of these conditions.”

So when conservatives try to paint Sotomayor as some sort of radical, consider that the real radicals are those who now hold a majority on the Supreme Court. In this battle, it is she, not her critics, who represents moderation and judicial restraint.

Liz Cheney Revives Better Dead Then Red Rhetoric for the 21st Century

Even if we exclude Halliburton, the Cheney’s have made quite a nice living courtesy the American tax payer. Add in some substantial fringe benefits like continued security protection and government subsidized ( socialist?) health-care and what do we get in return; a lack of honesty that would get most six year olds restriction and no ice cream for a week. Then there is there utter lack of humility. Cheney recently left office with one of the lowest public opinion ratings since we started measuring such things. So low that its obvious even most Republicans do not like him. Dick having recently used up a considerable amount of network time and filling the atmosphere with a considerable amount of noxious gas appears to be taking a break, leaving Liz to fill the void. Obama Rewrites the Cold War – The President has a duty to stand up to the lies of our enemies Most of the editorial consists of M’s Cheney waving her arms wildly in the air echoing the unofficial neocon Chicken-Little anthem – we’re all gonna die if we do not do things the neocon way. Considering the ocean of innocent blood that is the neocon legacy – which they blithely dismiss as an introduction to democracy – it seems unlikely that anyone who is not drunk on the kool-aid will pay Liz much mind. Liz finally settles down to something that resembles a point,

Mr. Obama has become fond of saying, as he did in Russia again last week, that American nuclear disarmament will encourage the North Koreans and the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions. Does he really believe that the North Koreans and the Iranians are simply waiting for America to cut funds for missile defense and reduce our strategic nuclear stockpile before they halt their weapons programs?

[   ]….Perhaps Mr. Obama thinks he is making America inoffensive to our enemies. In reality, he is emboldening them and weakening us. America can be disarmed literally — by cutting our weapons systems and our defensive capabilities — as Mr. Obama has agreed to do.

M’s Cheney, surely by accident leaves out what Obama actually said and did, Barack Obama urges Russia not to interfere in neighbouring states

“In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonising other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chessboard are over,” he said, speaking to graduates from Moscow’s New Economic School.

[   ]…Crucially, though, Obama indicated that Washington would not tolerate another Russian invasion of Georgia. Russia is winding up full-scale military exercises next to the Georgian border amid ominous predictions that a second conflict in the Caucasus could erupt this summer.

On Monday Obama reaffirmed Georgia’s sovereignty – severely undermined by last year’s war and Moscow’s subsequent unilateral recognition of rebel-held Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. Today Obama defended “state sovereignty”, describing it as “a cornerstone of international order”.

He also said that Georgia and Ukraine had a right to choose their own foreign policy and leaders, and could join Nato if they wanted.

In yet another chapter of imagine if: If Bush had made those statements the Right would have been rushing to their media outposts pounding their chests about the he-man toughness of the guy that thinks with his gut. Obama’s speech was almost out of a chapter of the old Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People. Tough talk punctuated with compliments. An arch of diplomatic tact that actually dates back to Franklin and Jefferson. President Obama’s new nuclear arms agreement made rather modest targets in the reductions of nuclear arms and their launchers. In future, as usual, The WSJ would probably publish any over the top doggerel Liz or Dick would like to have published, such is the nature of the librul press. That being the case the least the Cheneys could do is not look foolish and increasingly irreverent and read the WSJ. In a clever piece of concern trolling by Keith B. Payne (a member of the Perry-Schlesinger Commission which studies U.S. nuclear capabilities) in the WSJ wrote,

The Obama administration will undoubtedly come under heavy pressure to move to the low end of the 500-1,100 limit on launchers in order to match Russian reductions. But it need not and should not do so. Based solely on open Russian sources, by 2017-2018 Russia will likely have fewer than half of the approximately 680 operational launchers it has today. With a gross domestic product less than that of California, Russia is confronting the dilemma of how to maintain parity with the U.S. while retiring its many aged strategic forces.

So even a conservative expert, with a predictable agenda, admits that the number of launchers – bombers, subs, etc – the way nukes would be delivered in a nuclear conflict, is an area the U.S. would enjoy a considerable, maybe even two fold tactical advantage in strike capability if for no other reason then Russia’s economy will force them to reduce the numbers of launchers. Nuclear arms reductions is complex. The recent U.S.-Russia talks were only an opening round, Follow on to START

Well, we have a Joint Understanding for the START Follow-on Treaty.

I observe that Reuters, in one of those irritating self indulgent news analysis pieces, frames the question “Spin or Deep Cut?” (The article, by Guy Faulconbridge is actually pretty good; not as bad as the headline would suggest.)

I think this outline is neither spin, nor a deep cut. I view the START Follow-on as an interim agreement to preserve the verification mechanisms in START (which disappear with START in December) for a second agreement that will take two or three years to negotiate. Deep cuts will have to wait for this second agreement, to which the Obama Administration has committed publicly.

The key observation is

The new agreement will enhance the security of both the U.S. and Russia, as well as provide predictability and stability in strategic offensive forces.

Liz Cheney, like Charles Krauthammer and various cons are literally wearing their fifty year old Cold War mentality on their sleeve. Cheney quotes from President Harry Truman’s Cold War strategy,

The White House ought to take a lesson from President Harry Truman. In April, 1950, Truman signed National Security Council report 68 (NSC-68). One of the foundational documents of America’s Cold War strategy, NSC-68 explains the danger of disarming America in the hope of appeasing our enemies. “No people in history,” it reads, “have preserved their freedom who thought that by not being strong enough to protect themselves they might prove inoffensive to their enemies.”

Should someone tell Liz that Democrat Truman’s policies won the Cold War and the Soviet Union no longer exists. Its the 21st century, it is not in America’s interest to revive the use of the Civil War musket, the WW II carbine or the Cold War strategies of days long past. And don’t worry Liz we still have more then enough nukes to live up to that 50s slogan ‘better dead then red”.

4th Branch Cheney Hid Mystery CIA Program

Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Its unclear as extent of the vice-president’s role in issuing directives directly to the CIA. The VP is not referred to in organizational charts. Before the creation of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in 2004 only the president could direct CIA activities within guidelines that includes Congressional oversight. The creation of the DNI was a recommendation of the 9-11 Commission and its major advocates included Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockefeller. The DNI aside the CIA director still reports directly to the president. Even with the DNI in the mix the office of the VP has no explicit authority to direct CIA activities unless directed to do so by the president – in which case he/she would just being acting as an intermediary. The NYT mentions that “the amended National Security Act of 1947” has some leeway in regards to “exceptionally sensitive matters”, but the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991(reauthorized every year because of Congressional oversight of the CIA budget per the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 9) say that all covert activity must be approved by the president. To make what Cheney did legal, Bush would have had to authorize his activities. That would put Bush in the loop. If Cheney acted on his own, he did so in apparent violation of the Intelligence Authorization Act. If this other secret program – aside from the torture program and Bush’s Surveillance Program – was not an emergency and it appears that it was not, the president is required to inform the gang of eight ( a hold over nickname when prior to 1980 notification required eight ranking members of Congressional Intel committees.) Now only four people from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) are required to be notified. There is some speculation in the blogosphere that Cheney’s program was the same as the “executive assassination ring” written about by Seymour Hersh. Its just that sans further information. That Cheney was even running a secret bake sale through the CIA warrants investigation. We’ve been through related abuses of the CIA, claims of secrecy and urgent action required for reasons of national security threats with the Church Committee, the Hughes-Ryan Act and the Iran-Contra scandal. That 4th Branch Cheney thinks or thought he could act in any way he liked isn’t news. Cheney and Bush both had bizarre ideas about the extent of executive power. In their view, executive power was so extensive it made the legislative and judicial branch irrelevent.

Mainstream legal scholars across the political spectrum reject Cheney’s expansive view of presidential authority, saying the Constitution gives Congress the power to make all rules and regulations for the military and the executive branch and the Supreme Court has consistently upheld laws giving bureaucrats and certain prosecutors the power to act independently of the president.

One prominent conservative, Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, said it is “scandalous” for the administration to argue that the commander in chief can bypass statutes in national security matters.

“It’s just wrong,” Epstein said. “It is just crazy as a matter of constitutional interpretation. There are some pretty clear issues, and this is one of them.”

Laurence Tribe , a prominent liberal at Harvard Law School, said: “Nothing in the text and structure of the Constitution, or Supreme Court precedents, supports the Bush-Cheney assertion that Congress cannot limit or direct what government officials may or must do.”

Nonetheless, Bush has demonstrated that he is willing to put his legal team’s claims about his authority into action. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush authorized the military to eavesdrop on Americans’ international phone calls without a warrant, bypassing a surveillance law that requires warrants.

With the Bush-Cheney politburo in mind, to now listen to teabaggers, rightwing ideologues and the media’s conservative water carriers scream socialist or fascist every time President Obama says as much as good morning, is the height of absurdity. In light of very recent history in which presidential and vice presidential power was abused and pumped up beyond anything one would recognize as Constitutional, and cheered on by the very same people that are demonizing Obama, seems more like a circus side show then an informed national debate.

In the next few days to weeks one thing we can depend on from Cheney defenders, in where he could do what he wanted because there were no specific provisions in the Constitution or legislation specially forbidding him to do so. Besides being a lie that conveniently skips over quite a bit of legislation and legal precedent, its the babysitter house on fire defense; unless you specially tell the babysitter not to set the house on fire before you leave, if they do, its not their fault.

Jack Balkin has the perfect example of the kind of debate we should be having. Only we’re not going to because there are no actual Republicans left – Don’t Squander This Opportunity

The mere fact that Obama is now in the White House is not a justification for rejoicing or for thinking that we have dodged a bullet and forestalled a threat to our civil liberties. Presidents by their nature like to have power because they feel they need it to keep the country safe. Obama is no exception to this rule. The U.S. Congress, frightened and manipulated by George Bush, Dick Cheney and conservative demagogues, gave their blessing to lots of new surveillance powers with only vague limits. Whether those powers will be used well or badly will depend on Congressional oversight and executive branch implementation. That is where we should be focusing our attention now. If we do not use the release of this report to focus attention on these matters– the implementation of this powerful and important new surveillance statute– it will have been a lost opportunity.

Some think this is leading to clash between the DOJ and the White House, but it may give Obama some breathing room on public perceptions of any action belong pure partisanship, Holder Torture Investigation Likely

The probe would focus in part on whether CIA personnel tortured terrorism suspects after Sept. 11, 2001. Holder has said those who acted within the government’s legal guidance will not be prosecuted, but has left open the possibility of pursuing those who went beyond the guidance and broke the law.

Holder has discussed with his staff the possibility of a prosecutor, saying he needed someone with “gravitas and grit,” the magazine reported. In the end, the attorney general asked for a list of 10 candidates, five from within the Justice Department and five from outside.

“I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president’s agenda,” Holder told Newsweek. “But that can’t be a part of my decision.”

And lastly A.L.’s write up on John Yoo, The Case Against John Yoo

Yoo’s legal memorandum omitted any discussion of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952), a leading case on the distribution of governmental powers between the Executive and Legislative Branches. Justice Jackson’s analysis of President Truman’s Article II Commander-in-Chief authority during wartime in the Youngstown case was an important factor in OLC’s subsequent reevaluation of Yoo’s opinions on the legality of the PSP.

A troll in the comments section does an almost passable job of redirection. Yoo’s failure to consider the Youngstown was a malicious and ultimately juvenile attempt to ignore the five hundred pound legal precedent in the room.

River Stones wallpaper

Black and Blue City Skyline wallpaper

Black and Blue City Skyline wallpaper

Ensign’s parents paid mistress $96K

Sen. John Ensign’s parents shelled out big bucks to pay off their son’s mistress, the latest twist in an unfolding scandal that has upended the political career of the one-time rising GOP star.

The scandal has also touched Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), another prominent conservative, who revealed that he had confronted Ensign about the affair and urged him to end it, but says he will refuse to divulge any conversations with Ensign — even under inquiry from ethics investigators.

To move out and then occasionally do some laundry at the parent’s house is understandable, but getting your parents to pay off your mistress would be an imposition for most. Coburn’s claim there was some kind of “physician and an ordained deacon” confidentiality that prevents him from revealing more then he already has also adds to the bad reality TV aspect of what seems to be an ever unfolding melodrama.

Yet another Republican sex scandal. That aspect 0f of Ensign’s behavior probably bores most people at this point. Its the pay offs and probable lies that keep the story going.

Supermax prison: Obama’s books objectionable

The federal government’s most secure prison has determined two books written by President Barack Obama contain material “potentially detrimental to national security” and rejected an inmate’s request to read them.

The inmate that requested the books is Ahmed Omar Abu Ali who is in prison for joining al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate Bush 43. Thus the reason the FBI denied his request.

GOP Rep: Panetta Told Us Something CIA Hadn’t Told Congress

I just got off the phone with a GOP Congressman who was in that Intel committee meeting where CIA director Leon Panetta allegedly revealed that his agency had misled Congress for years. It was a cryptic conversation, but the Congressman did confirm Panetta revealed something to the members of Congress that the CIA hadn’t divulged to Congress before.

The Plumline and probably everyone else notes the careful parsing of words, but the indication is that Democrats were correct in claiming that the CIA had been less then candid from 2001 until June of this year.

10 Questions for Bill Keller ( That would be the Executive Editor for The New York Times).  Starting with the last question first,

Why is the Times so anti-American? Jim Main, ORLANDO, FLA.

Journalists at the Times love their country just as much as anybody else. We don’t see it as our job to be a cheerleader for everything America does.

Jim also frequently asks strangers how often they beat their wives. Question one,

Why do you think the press gave the Bush Administration a free pass on the misleading statements it made to get us into the war in Iraq? Randal Davis, PORTLAND, ORE.

It was partly the insatiable desire for scoops people in the Administration were feeding about the potential threat in Iraq. But a lot of it was just that we floated along with the conventional wisdom, the worst enemy of journalism.

Scoops aside we know that former NYT reporter Judith Miller basically took dictation from the Bush administration and the Times printed it as news. Not opinion, news. Judith Miller: Right Where She Belongs, With the Right to Lie

In the run-up to the Iraq war, Miller reported stories on the search for Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be untrue, some of which were cited in a Times editor’s note acknowledging the flawed coverage. Miller, now with the conservative Manhattan Institute, wrote when she left the paper that she had “become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war.”

In NYTs defense, they did a much better job of sorting out Miller’s ethical issues then the broadcast media did with the unchallenged expert opinions of military analysts who acted like extensions of White House fax machines.

Your tax dollars at work, Watchdog group: Dozens of active-duty troops found on neo-Nazi site

It is the Facebook for the fascist set, and the typical online profiles of its members reveal expected tastes.

Favorite book: “Mein Kampf”

Favorite movie: the Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will”

Interests: “white women”

Dislikes: “anyone who opposes the master race”

But there’s one other thing that dozens of members of, a white supremacist social networking website, have in common: They proudly identify themselves as active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces.

I come from a military family and spent a fair share of time around military personnel and it should go without saying, the vast majority of the enlisted military are decent working class folks, regardless of politics.Its that crop of now well trained nut cases ( with public provided health-care at that) that should be cause for concern.