Category Archives: Politics

Specter Actually A Democrat Now!

Old news by many standards, but Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has wisely jumped off the sinking, gun-clinging, bitter white ship that is the modern Republican Party.

Specter isn’t exactly Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but with Al Franken’s seemingly inevitable victory in Minnesota, this makes the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority at least attainable now.

The one thing I will say is that I do like Specter’s honesty about wanting to be re-elected. Plus, he’s always been “a moderate,” so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

More on Torture and Stupidity

Here’s Yglesias on the dreadfully faulty logic of the Bush-Cheney Regime during their torture days.

And note that when people say that “torture doesn’t work” as an intelligence-gathering method, the point isn’t that it never produces an accurate piece of information. The point is that its application doesn’t systematically enhance the quality of your intelligence. In this case, for example, not only does torture appear to have vastly eroded key elements of America’s strategy of self-presentation in the world, it contributed to our undertaking a massive policy blunder that led to much more loss of innocent life than occurred on 9/11.

The more I think about this, the more I think that prosecutions, tribunals, reconciliation committees and the impeachment of Jay Bybee are essential to solve this problem.

Adm. Dennis Blair: FAIL

Guh. Apparently, Obama’s national intelligence director is not all that smart. Adm. Dennis Blair wrote in a memo last week — on the very same day that Obama made public for the first time the Bush “torture memos” — that harsh interrogation techniques (I’m pretty sure Blair was talking about, um, torture) actually yielded results!?

“The information gained from these techniques was valuable in some instances, but there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means,” Admiral Blair said in a written statement issued last night. “The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”

“Hurt our image around the world?” Well, yes, obviously. Second only to Ayman al-Zawahiri, George W. Bush did more to radicalize Islamists during the last decade, because he was such a stupid, despicable man, but it seems that Blair has forgotten the simple fact about torture: it’s a morally bankrupt and evil thing to do on any level.

Beyond Adm. Blair’s inability to speak intelligently about the subject, and his inability to sufficiently cover his ass, let’s now look to the fact that he put his idiotic statements in writing in a goddammed memo. Did someone not tell this guy about leaks? What the shit was this guy thinking?

Rep. Jane Harman LOVES Spying

Um, this is real awkward. California Democrat Jane Harman is said to have promised to help two AIPAC employees who were accused of spying for Israel some time before March 2005. We know this because Harman said so on a secret NSA wiretap, and because the CQ Politics had this story today.

Harman’s agreement to “waddle into” the thrilling espionage mess as a quid pro quo that AIPAC lobby hard for her to become house speaker in 2006 instead of Nancy Pelosi. Um, again, we know this because Harman was caught on tape saying so…

From the CQ story:

It’s true that allegations of pro-Israel lobbyists trying to help Harman get the chairmanship of the intelligence panel by lobbying and raising money for Pelosi aren’t new.

They were widely reported in 2006, along with allegations that the FBI launched an investigation of Harman that was eventually dropped for a “lack of evidence.” What is new is that Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington.

And that, contrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for “lack of evidence,” it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.

This item is particularly awkward for The New York Times, because the CQ story alleges that Harman effectively lobbied the paper’s Executive Editor, Bill Keller, to stop The Times’ famously delayed story about the Bush Administration’s illegal surveillance tactics, which the paper held for an entire year between 2004 and 2005.

Keller, not surprisingly, denies this outright in The Times story about Harman, which makes you wonder a little about the CQ story’s claim. Still, not good news for anyone involved. Also, is it just me, or does Harman look slightly terrifying? (Not to mention a lot like Cloris Leachman).

Obama = Bush on Habeus Corpus

This is exceptionally disappointing.

With his decisions to eventually close GitMo and, you know, ban torture, you’d think that he’d go for the hat trick and offer habeus corpus to foreign detainees. But, alas, he’s no better than his predecessor on this.

Hat tip to JP Fellows for keeping me honest.

Obama to Increase Taxes on Himself

Fair is fair.

He and First Lady Michelle Obama paid $855,323 in federal taxes, while making $172,050 in charitable contributions to 37 different charities. The largest reported gifts were $25,000 to both the United Negro College Fund and the relief organization CARE.

“The president sold a lot of books last year, no doubt, and paid a hefty amount in federal income tax,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. As president, Obama now is paid $400,000 a year.

At least he’s putting his money where his mouth is…or something.

CNN Reporter Gets Tea Bagged

I don’t know this reporter’s name, and I hope I never do. This is embarrassing for all parties involved, with the weird tall guy holding the baby and shouting about Lincoln and the fat guy trying to awkwardly stretch a timely pirate metaphor. But the reporter here takes the stupid cake.

This is why the media shouldn’t have covered these things in the first place.