10/26/2010 archive

Wikileaks War Log: Report from Kabul

The war crimes continue with more revelations about the lies that were told over and over to justify a criminal enterprise formulated by the Bush Cabal spearheaded by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. President Obama continues to use the criminal organization, Blackwater, to guard US State Department personnel while covering up and refusing to investigate or prosecute their crimes.

Jeremy Scahill, national security reoporter for the “Nation”, joined Keith Olbermann on “Countdown” to discuss the latest Wikileaks documents and their implications.

Obama has intervened to stop lawsuits against Rumsfeld and the command authority who gave the orders to torture detainees. . . .

They were systematically supporting death squads, turning a blind eye, to torture and torturing at the same time. . . .

Those people who were against the war from the beginning, who were saying that the war was based on lies, who said that civilians were paying the heaviest price, they’ve been vindicated. There were serious war crimes. They need to be held accountable by the Obama adminstration and that’s where Congress needs to put pressure on this administration.

(this is a rough transcript of some of Mr. Scahill’s comments. I apologize for any inaccuracies. There was no transcript from MSNBC.)

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Robert Reich: After the Midterms: Why Democrats Move to the Center, and Republicans Don’t

If Republicans succeed in taking over the House and come even close to gaining a majority in the Senate, expect calls for the president to “move to the center.” These will come not only from Republicans but also from conservative Democrats, other prominent Democrats who have been defeated, Fox Republican News, mainstream pundits, and White House political advisers.

After the 1994 midterm, when Democrats lost the House and Senate, Bill Clinton was told to “move to the center.” He obliged by hiring the pollster Dick Morris, declaring the “era of big government is over,” abandoning much of his original agenda, and making the 1996 general election about nothing more than V-chips in televisions and school uniforms.

It happened in the 1978 midterm when Democrats lost ground and Jimmy Carter was instructed to “move to the center.” He obliged by firing his entire cabinet, apologizing for the errors of his ways, and making the 1980 general election about absolutely nothing.

Johann Hari: The real reason Obama has let us all down

On the night he won, I too shed a little tear; but the people weeping today are those having their homes repossessed

For two years now, most of the good and honorable people who desperately wanted him to beat John McCain, as I did, have watched his actions through a distorting haze of hoping for the best. So when Obama set us all up for another global crash by refusing to reregulate the banks or stop even their riskiest practices, we looked away. When Obama set us all up for more terror attacks by trebling the troops in Afghanistan and launching a vicious air war on Pakistan that is swelling the ranks of jihadis, we didn’t want to hear it. When Obama set us all up for environmental disaster by refusing to put the brakes on his country’s unprecedented and unmatched emissions of climate-destabilizing gases, we switched over to watch will.i.am’s YouTube rejig of the President’s “yes, we can” speech. And when a week from now he is beaten at the mid-term elections, after having so little to show the American people, by a group of even more irrational Republicans, we will weep for him. . . . .

Yes, on the night Obama won, I too felt that great global ripple of hope, and shed a little tear – but the people weeping today are those having their homes repossessed in the Rust Belt and their homes blown to pieces in the SWAT Valley as a direct result of Obama’s decisions. They are the ones who deserve our empathy now, not the most powerful man in the world, who has chosen to settle into and defend a profoundly corrupt system, rather than challenge and change it. It’s long past time to put away your Obama t-shirt that and take out your protest banner.

Daphne Eviatar: Gitmo Guilty Plea Is a Sad Day for U.S. Rule of Law

This morning I sat in a U.S. military commissions courtroom in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and watched the first child soldier charged by a Western nation since World War II plead guilty to crimes he was never seriously accused of. If the guilty plea of Omar Khadr this morning was a face-saving effort by the U.S. government, it was a sad day for the rule of law in the United States. . . . .

For the U.S. government, the guilty plea was a way to save face. After all, the Obama administration knew that it was a political embarrassment for its first military commission trial to be of a child soldier – a contradiction of its obligations under international law to rehabilitate child soldiers rather than punish them. The administration also knew that the charges against Khadr were all legally dubious – invalid under international law and a violation of the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution. Khadr’s guilty plea allows them to rack up another “win” for the military commissions, pushing the total to a whopping five convictions in the last eight years. By contrast, U.S. civilian federal courts have convicted more than 400 terrorists in that same time period. This doesn’t exactly tip the balance.

Still, no matter how you look at it, this plea makes a troubling statement about the United States’ respect for the rule of law. Although as part of his plea agreement Omar Khadr has waived his right to appeal his conviction or to sue the United States for his confinement or treatment, a dark cloud continues to shadow this case. That cloud will continue to conceal the truth about Omar Khadr’s treatment at the hands of his U.S. interrogators; and it will ensure that the validity of his conviction, and the integrity of the military commissions themselves, remain in doubt.

On This Day in History: October 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

October 26 is the 299th day of the year (300th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 66 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

On the morning of October 25, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury came into Tombstone for supplies. Over the next 24 hours, the two men had several violent run-ins with the Earps and their friend Doc Holliday. Around 1:30 p.m. on October 26, Ike’s brother Billy rode into town to join them, along with Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne. The first person they met in the local saloon was Holliday, who was delighted to inform them that their brothers had both been pistol-whipped by the Earps. Frank and Billy immediately left the saloon, vowing revenge.

Around 3 p.m., the Earps and Holliday spotted the five members of the Clanton-McLaury gang in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral, at the end of Fremont Street. The famous gunfight that ensued lasted all of 30 seconds, and around 30 shots were fired. Though it’s still debated who fired the first shot, most reports say that the shootout began when Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton point-blank in the chest, while Doc Holliday fired a shotgun blast at Tom McLaury’s chest. Though Wyatt Earp wounded Frank McLaury with a shot in the stomach, Frank managed to get off a few shots before collapsing, as did Billy Clanton. When the dust cleared, Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers were dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded. Ike Clanton and Claiborne had run for the hills.


The funerals for Clanton and the McLaurys (who were relatively wealthy men) were the largest ever seen in Tombstone, drawing over 2,000 people. The fear of the Cowboys caused many Tombstone residents and businesses to reconsider their calls for the mass killing of Cowboys. Although rowdy, the Cowboys brought substantial business into Tombstone.

The fear of Cowboy retribution and the potential loss of investors because of the negative publicity in large cities such as San Francisco started to turn the opinion somewhat against the Earps and Holliday. Stories that Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were unarmed, and that Billy Clanton and Tom McLaury even threw up their hands before the shooting, now began to make the rounds. Soon, another Clanton brother (Phineas “Fin” Clanton) had arrived in town, and some began to claim that the Earps and Holliday had committed murder, instead of enforcing the law.

The Spicer hearing

After the gunfight, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (the two men not formally employed as law officers, and the two least wounded) were charged with murder. After extensive testimony at the preliminary hearing to decide if there was enough evidence to bind the men over for trial, the presiding Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer ruled that there was not enough evidence to indict the men. Two weeks later, a grand jury followed Spicer’s finding, and also refused to indict. Spicer, in his ruling, criticized City Marshal Virgil Earp for using Wyatt and Doc as backup temporary deputies, but not for using Morgan, who had already been wearing a City Marshal badge for nine days. However, it was noted that if Wyatt and Holliday had not backed up Marshal Earp, then he would have faced even more overwhelming odds than he had, and could not possibly have survived.

The participants in later history

A few weeks following the grand jury refusal to indict, Virgil Earp was shot by hidden assailants from an unused building at night – a wound causing him complete loss of the use of his left arm. Three months later Morgan Earp was murdered by a shot in the back in Tombstone by men shooting from a dark alley.

After these incidents, Wyatt, accompanied by Doc Holliday and several other friends, undertook what has later been called the Earp vendetta ride in which they tracked down and killed the men whom they believed had been responsible for these acts. After the vendetta ride, Wyatt and Doc left the Arizona Territory in April, 1882 and parted company, although they remained in contact.

Billy Claiborne was killed in a gunfight in Tombstone in late 1882, by gunman Franklin Leslie.

Ike Clanton was caught cattle rustling in 1887, and shot dead by lawmen while resisting arrest.

Later in 1887, just over six years from the time of the O.K. fight, Doc Holliday died of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, aged 36.

Virgil Earp served as the “Town Marshal,” hired by the Southern Pacific RR, in Colton, California. He lived without the use of his arm, although continued as a lawman in California, and died of pneumonia at age 62 in 1905, still on the job as a peace officer.

Johnny Behan failed even to be re-nominated by his own party for the sheriff race in 1882, and never again worked as a lawman, spending the rest of his life at various government jobs, dying in Tucson of natural causes at age 67 in 1912.

Wyatt Earp, the last survivor of the fight, traveled across the western frontier for decades in the company of Josephine Marcus, working mostly as a gambler, and eventually died in Los Angeles of infection, in 1929, at the age of 80.

A legacy of questions

The issue of fault at the O.K. Corral shooting has been hotly debated over the years. To this day, Pro-Earp followers view the gunfight as a struggle between “Law-and-order” against out-of-control Cowboys; Pro-Clanton/McLaury followers view it as a political vendetta and abuse of authority.

A recent attempt to reinvestigate part of the matter aired on an episode of Discovery Channel’s Unsolved History using modern technology to re-enact the shotgun shooting which was part of the incident. However, the re-enactment did not use 19th century period technology (a late 19th century shotgun messenger type short shotgun, brass cases, black powder). The episode concluded that Doc Holliday may have triggered the fight by cocking both barrels of his shotgun, but was likely not the first shooter.

In April 2010, original transcripts of witness statements were rediscovered in Bisbee, Arizona, and are currently being preserved and digitized. Photocopies of these documents have been available to researchers since 1960, and new scans of them will be made available for public viewing online.

Howard Fineman is a moron

There are 10 types of people in the world, those who know binary and those who don’t.

What Happens Next? The Complex Post-Election Landscape

Howard Fineman, The Huffington Post

10-25-10 01:27 PM

In his simplistic way Howard Fineman has identified what he from his inside the Belt Buckle gonad licking perspective views as the 5 post election power blocks-

  • Karl Rove and the GOP “Establishment”
  • Palin and the Tea Baggers
  • Bloomberg’s Plutocrat Brigade
  • The “Union-Krugmanites” (you know, hippies)

Actually Fineman puts them all in ALL CAPS.  Must be new to blogging.

What particularly drew my attention to his “insight” are his descriptipns of the last 3 groups.  Here’s what he has to say about Bloomberg for instance-

This time, he would run in the manner of the landed gentry of two centuries ago: as an American patrician above it all, thanks to his vast wealth, with no partisan allegiance, eager to strike a national, centrist consensus on the debt, on the environment and foreign affairs. He’d draw on what’s left of moderate Republicanism (admittedly not much). But, more important, he’d draw on what’s left of Clintonism, which is quite considerable. Pro-business Democrats, which Bill Clinton was, are about to become an endangered species. Blue Dog Democrats — which Clinton was, sort of — are about to become extinct.

Can’t happen soon enough for me Howard.

This is what he thinks about hippies-

Next week’s results will decimate conservative Democrats, who won marginal districts in 2006 and 2008 in red or purple districts and states. As a result, the Left, or what’s left of the Left, will be in charge of shrunken Democratic ranks in Congress.

Well, that’s not so bad.  But Fineman goes on to identify Paul Krugman as one of the “few true, visible operational heroes at the moment.”  Why?  Because while “not radical, … in today’s context a true believer in the Democratic tradition of the New Deal and John Maynard Keynes seems like one.”

Good in a way, because I know a lot of people who are much farther to the left than The Shrill One, but bad also because Fineman dismisses out of hand, doesn’t even consider, that there are “radicals”.

We’re not “serious” enough for the likes of Howard.

But what’s truly alarming is his prescription for Obama-

(M)ore than acquiring new staff, the president needs to do something he has resisted. He has to become a Washington inside player and pretend to like it.

Like he hasn’t done that for 2 years already.

Howard Fineman is a moron.

We can only hope

Or changiness, I forget which.

Blue Dogs Face Sharp Losses in Midterms

By GERALD F. SEIB, The Wall Street Journal

October 26, 2010

WASHINGTON-More than half the members of the Blue Dog Coalition-the organization of moderate to conservative Democrats in the House-are in peril in next week’s election, a stark indicator of how the balloting could produce a Congress even more polarized than the current one.

The upshot is one of the great political ironies of the year: A national conservative wave will hit hardest not at the most liberal Democrats, but at the most conservative Democrats. The Democratic caucus left behind will be, on balance, more liberal than it was before the election.

Within the Democratic party, many expect this process to produce a vigorous, perhaps nasty, internal debate about the ideological direction of the party. Already some on the party’s left are complaining that the centrists who will lose didn’t support the party’s signature legislative initiatives, such as the health-care overhaul, and that their departure should be seen as a sign the party would be better off pursuing a more liberal agenda that would please and fire up its base.

“Shove It”

Anyone who “claims” to care about electoral victory is a liar.

Democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island Frank T. Caprio

You know, I’ve never asked President Obama for his endorsement, and what’s going here is really Washington insider politics at its worst. You have two former senators – Senator Chafee and former Senator Obama – who have behind the scenes tried to put, you know, together an endorsement for Senator Chafee. And who knows, maybe there’ll even be one coming, but I never asked for President Obama’s endorsement, uh, you know, he could take his endorsement and really shove it as far as I’m concerned.

The reality here is that Rhode Islanders are hurting. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We had one of the worst floods in the history of the United States a few months back, and President Obama didn’t even do a fly-over of Rhode Island like President Bush did when New Orleans had their problems. He ignored us and, now, he’s coming into Rhode Island and treating us like an ATM machine.

So what I’m saying to President Obama very clearly is, I’ll wear it as a badge of honor and a badge of courage that he doesn’t want to endorse me as a Democrat because I am a different kind of Democrat. I’m going to fight for big changes in the state. I’m going to fight for jobs every day. And this place could be such a great place. And we don’t need these Washington insider politics. It’s at its worst.

You know, he comes in here looking for big donations from Rhode Islanders when you know we’re hurting and we need jobs here. We need people who are really going to care about what’s going on Main Street here in Rhode Island. That’s the kind of governor I’m going to be. So, I thank the people of Rhode Island for all the support they’ve given me up to this point and, now, we’ve got to close this deal over the next week and we’re going to bring the state back.

Morning Shinbun Tuesday October 26

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Garry Trudeau: ‘Doonesbury quickly became a cause of trouble’


Republicans pull ahead in battle for key seats of power

Divide on U.S. Deficit Likely to Grow After Election


German Turks torn between old ways and integration

Middle East

Robert Fisk: Exodus. The changing map of the Middle East


A Top Terrorist Returns to Al-Qaida Fold

Chinese whistleblower faces hard road  


More peacekeepers couldn’t halt new Sudan war

HRW flays Morocco over detentions

Latin America

Drought brings Amazon tributary to lowest level in a century

EPA rules target truck emissions, fuel efficiency

The proposed standards would cut pollutants from heavy vehicles 20% by 2018.

By Neela Banerjee, Tribune Washington Bureau

October 26, 2010  

Reporting from Washington –

The Obama administration announced new rules Monday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants by requiring greater fuel efficiency for big trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles starting with 2014 models.

The regulations, the first of their kind, call for a 20% reduction in heavy-vehicle emissions by 2018, which would require boosting fuel efficiency to an average of 8 miles per gallon, compared with 6 mpg now, experts estimate.

How to Murder a Third Party

Cross-posted at Progressive Blue and several other places.

Actually the list of ways to kill off competition from Parties that represent the people is endless. When it comes to getting things done, taking out Third Parties has been one place where the two power parties has always preformed to the utmost of their ability and this is just one New York story.

Some states have evolved Fusion Parties in an attempt to get out from under the scrutiny of these power happy keepers of the plutocracy. One of these upstanding parties is The Working Families Party that has some presence in New York State. They stand for progressive values and labor union rights but this party has endorsed Andrew Cuomo. Reading Cuomo Vows Offensive Against Labor Unions it seems mysterious that the Working Families Party would place Cuomo on the ticket.

Andrew M. Cuomo  will mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions. He will seek to transform the state’s weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor.

By following the explanation of Celeste Katz who writes The Daily Politic at the New York Daily News the mystery is solved. Did you know that the Working Families Party has to receive 50,000 votes in the governors race this year to be on the ticket in 2010? Not getting those 50,000 (and it was because of Andrew Cuomo) was how the Liberal Party lost a column in New York State and later withered and died.  

The short version is that Andrew Cuomo used that 50,000 hurdle to blackmail the Working Families Party but below the fold I’ll follow the full explanation by Celeste Katz to understand how a union hating gubernatorial candidate got the endorsement of a party that is suppose to represent labor.

Prime Time

Some premiers.

Well, I don’t have anything to say, you’ve done the best you could. You really have, the best you could. You can’t expect to win em all. But, I want to tell you something I’ve kept to myself through these years. I was in the war myself, medical corps. I was on late duty one night when they brought in a badly wounded pilot from one of the raids. He could barely talk. He looked at me and said, “The odds were against us up there, but we went in anyway, I’m glad the Captain made the right decision.” The pilot’s name was George Zip.

George Zip said that?

The last thing he said to me, “Doc,” he said, “some time when the crew is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to get out there and give it all they got and win just one for the Zipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Doc,” he said, “but I won’t smell too good, that’s for sure.”


Dave hosts Charles Barkley, Gary Dell’Abate (why?), and Kings of Leon.  Jon has Austan Goolsbee (ugh), Stephen Nicholas Negroponte.  Double Alton, Molasses and Doughnuts.

BoondocksLet’s Nab Oprah (a real insight into Riley, Wuncler Jr., and Rummy)

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 43 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Canadian ex-child soldier pleads guilty at Guantanamo

by Virginie Montet, AFP

1 hr 12 mins ago

US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (AFP) – Canadian former child soldier Omar Khadr, arrested by US forces in Afghanistan at age 15, pleaded guilty Monday to war crimes in a deal that will see him avoid a life sentence and possibly be returned to Canada.

In a military tribunal at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, the Canada-born Khadr admitted to killing a US soldier with a grenade in 2002 during a firefight in Afghanistan, conspiring with Al-Qaeda and building roadside bombs.

During a one hour hearing, military judge Colonel Patrick Parrish read out the five charges against Khadr, including murder in violation of the laws of war, providing material assistance to a terrorist organization and espionage.