05/16/2011 archive

The Reason We Need Wikileaks

Now more than ever, the reason for Wikileaks to exist: the preservation of what remains of the rule of law and the US Constitution. From Marcy Wheeler at FDL:

SCOTUS: Govt Can Use State Secrets to Hide Crimes

SCOTUS just declined to take the Jeppesen Dataplan suit.

The high court rejected an appeal by five men who claimed that U.S. operatives-with support from Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing unit-abducted them and sent them to other countries where they were tortured. They alleged Jeppesen provided critical flight planning and logistical support to the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program. The men were seeking unspecified monetary damages from the company.

This effectively means that men like Binyam Mohamed, who the Brits have admitted was tortured after being rendered, cannot sue for redress. And the ruling is particularly egregious since a Jeppesen executive admitted that his company was flying rendition flights.

In effect, SCOTUS’ decision not to take this case leaves in place state secrets precedent that allows the government to commit grave crimes, but hide behind state secrets.

Update: The Brennan Center and a bunch of other crazy hippies who believe in rule of law wrote a letter in response to SCOTUS’ decision to DOJ reminding them that, per their purported state secrets policy, credible allegations of wrong-doing must be referred to the Inspectors General of the relevant agencies for investigation.


This is me officially holding my breath for the Obama Administration to do what they promised on this front.

Don’t hold your breath, Marcy. I have no expectations of the Obama administrations doing anything they promised regarding the rule of law and the Constitution. Dick Cheney must be proud.

2012 Senate Race (WI): Feingold v Ryan

As was speculated, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) will not be seeking reelection to the US Senate in 2012. This leaves an open race and a golden opportunity to bring back Russ Feingold to the US Senate. This also opens the door for Tea Party Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (R/TP-WI), to run and he is considering it. I would pay to see them debate, Russ would wipe the dais with Paul’s corporatist, Koch bought and paid for, bull pucks. Most likely, Ryan’s seat would also flip. Compared to Feingold, Ryan is no heavy weight and Wisconsin in ripe for the Democrats to win back. Certainly a win-win in the making.

Heavyweights Ryan, Feingold weigh Senate race in Wisconsin

The two candidates widely considered to be the top prospects to run for Wisconsin’s newly open Senate seat – GOP Rep. Paul Ryan and former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold – both left open the possibility of a 2012 bid on Friday.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement that he was “surprised” by Sen. Herb Kohl’s (D) announcement, and that he will “take some time over the next few days to discuss the news with my family and supporters before making any decision.”

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has become a focal point for national Democrats, who have slammed his proposed budget as the “end of Medicare.” Democrats are already framing the 2012 elections as a referendum on Ryan’s budget plan, a debate that would be further fueled by Ryan’s entry into the Senate race.


Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would likely be the first-choice candidate, according to one national Democrat. But Feingold isn’t likely to make a quick decision on the race.

In a statement issued through his Progressives United PAC, Feingold made no mention of the 2012 race, praising Kohl as someone who “has served the state with honor.”

But Feingold’s former chief of staff told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday that the former senator, who lost to Republican Ron Johnson last November, will come to a decision in “the coming months.”

Run, Russ, run. Please

The Donald Fires Himself

I know there were a few people who actually believed that Donald Trump was a legitimate candidate who will be disappointed by his decision to pull out before he was actually in the race. Most never took this ploy as anything but a publicity stunt by low class, wealthy charlatan. Lawrence O’Donnell was betting he would withdraw as the contract for his NBC show, “The Apprentice” was up for renewal. O’Donnell called it a fake campaign, he was absolutely right. It’s May 16th and The Donald is just fired himself as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Trump Ditches Prez Race

Donald Trump Is Not Running For President

Donald Trump has announced that he is not running for president in 2012. “This decision does not come easily or without regret,” Trump said in a statement, “especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run,” he said, “I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election.”

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Nicholas D. Kristoff: What Holbrooke Knew

When he was alive, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke was effectively gagged, unable to comment on what he saw as missteps of the Obama administration that he served. But as we face a crisis in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden, it’s worth listening to Holbrooke’s counsel – from beyond the grave.

As one of America’s finest strategic thinkers and special envoy to the Af-Pak region, Holbrooke represented the administration – but also chafed at aspects of the White House approach. In particular, he winced at the overreliance on military force, for it reminded him of Vietnam.

“There are structural similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam,” he noted, in scattered reflections now in the hands of his widow, Kati Marton.

“He thought that this could become Obama’s Vietnam,” Marton recalled. “Some of the conversations in the Situation Room reminded him of conversations in the Johnson White House. When he raised that, Obama didn’t want to hear it.”

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Lincoln would weep at the GOP’s 2012 field

Republicans are unhappy with their field of presidential candidates and yearn for someone who will come along to save them. But here’s what the GOP doesn’t want to confront: its problem lies not in its candidates but in itself.

The candidates appear much smaller than they are because the party’s primary voters and core interest groups insist upon cutting them down to size. To win a Republican nomination, a candidate has to move right, recant absolutely any past position that violates the current conservative catechism and never dare to speak the truth that solving our deficit problem will require new revenue – a.k.a. taxes.

Robert Kuttner: Strauss-Kahn and the European Left

Paris — The apparent self-destruction of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a New York hotel is emblematic of a European left that has ceased to be much of a progressive alternative, either in terms of lifestyle or policy alternatives. Strauss-Kahn was the Socialist front-runner to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy next year. Polls showed that Strauss-Kahn was the only socialist who could beat both Sarkozy and far right populist Marine Le Pen.

But even before this latest scandal broke, Strauss-Kahn didn’t seem like much of a socialist. Last week, the press caught DSK, as the local press calls him, and his wife tooling around in a borrowed $150,000 Porsche, which reinforced his image as wealthy playboy. In 2008, Strauss-Kahn barely survived a widely publicized affair with one of his IMF employees.

Bruce A. Dixon: The Black President and the Brown Vote

Can Barack Obama be re-elected without the overwhelming majorities he received in Latino communities across the country? The short answer is probably not. Detentions, deportations, raids, profiling and mass roundups of immigrants are at an all time high. The border wall that Obama originally campaigned against has been built with his endorsement, and generous federal contracts to jail detained immigrants have rescued the private prison industry. What happened, Latino activists are asking, to the president’s commitments to fairness, human rights and a path to citizenship? And what will happen to the Latino vote in 2012?

New York Times Editorial: Going Back on the Deal

Last year, Republicans refused to renew unemployment benefits unless the high-end Bush-era tax cuts were preserved. After the White House agreed to keep the tax cuts through 2012, they agreed to extend federal jobless benefits through 2011. Now, they want to renege.

The House Ways and Means Committee, on a strict Republican vote, recently passed a bill to let states use federal jobless money for other purposes, including tax cuts for business. This is a very bad idea at a time when the national jobless rate is 9 percent, and higher than that in 22 states. The $31 billion in yet to be paid federal benefits is desperately needed.

Amanda Marcotte: Men’s Health Cover Flashing GOP Congressman’s Tight Abs Reveals How Conservatives Worship a Cartoonish Hyper-Masculinity

Republicans fear that if they aren’t constantly shoring up masculinity and attacking the feminine, they might grow soft. This has dangerous effects.

At first, the June cover of Men’s Health seems par for the course for a magazine that aims to stoke male anxieties about physical perfection to sell products to men the same way that the beauty industry has done to women for decades: a half-naked man in ridiculously good shape, staring at the camera with eyes that dare you to look with awe, envy, and not just a little sexual interest. But if you look at the headline, the image becomes shocking. The man with the sort of abs that The Situation would kill for isn’t just some male model or athlete, but a Republican congressman from Illinois, Aaron Schock.

It’s a choice that suggests that the congressman intends to live up to his name. It seems incongruous for him to pose half-naked – not just because of his office, but because of his track record as an outspoken opponent of gay rights and an enemy of sexual liberation who voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Schock is constantly beating back Beltway rumours that he’s gay that spring up every time he shows up half-naked in public or wears turquoise belts with white jeans, a situation that would cause most people to rethink behaving in ways commonly associated with homoeroticism in public spaces.

Monday Business Edition

From Yahoo News Business

Monday Business Edition is an Open Thread

1 Strauss-Kahn casts shadow over EU debt crisis talks

by Roddy Thomson, AFP

Mon May 16, 3:41 am ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The storm over the IMF chief’s sex assault case threw a giant cloud Monday over a European finance ministers’ meeting aimed at easing the euro debt crisis and considering a new bail-out for Greece.

Domininque Strauss-Kahn, who has played a key role in striving to tame Europe’s debt crisis, had been due at the talks that start from 1300 GMT.

Replaced by his number two John Lipsky as acting International Monetary Fund chief as he battles to clear his name, Strauss-Kahn’s arrest — just as he was leaving to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel — saw the euro wobble badly before recovering in Asian trade.

On This Day In History May 16

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 16 is the 136th day of the year (137th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 229 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1868, the U.S. Senate votes against impeaching President Andrew Johnson and acquits him of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In February 1868, the House of Representatives charged Johnson with 11 articles of impeachment for vague “high crimes and misdemeanors.” (For comparison, in 1998, President Bill Clinton was charged with two articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice during an investigation into his inappropriate sexual behavior in the White House Oval Office. In 1974, Nixon faced three charges for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.) The main issue in Johnson’s trial was his staunch resistance to implementing Congress’ Civil War Reconstruction policies. The War Department was the federal agency responsible for carrying out Reconstruction programs in the war-ravaged southern states and when Johnson fired the agency’s head, Edwin Stanton, Congress retaliated with calls for his impeachment.

Of the 11 counts, several went to the core of the conflict between Johnson and Congress. The House charged Johnson with illegally removing the secretary of war from office and for violating several Reconstruction Acts. The House also accused the president of hurling slanderous “inflammatory and scandalous harangues” against Congressional members. On February 24, the House passed all 11 articles of impeachment and the process moved into a Senate trial.

Six In The Morning

Cathay Pacific Airbus 330 makes emergency landing in Singapore

‘God, save our flight! Give us your protection!’ passengers pray

msnbc.com news services

Terrified passengers aboard a blazing jetliner prayed together before the plane made an emergency landing on Monday.

An engine on a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 caught fire in midair.

Cathay Pacific said the jet, bound for Jakarta with 136 passengers on board, landed back in Singapore “without incident” just before 2 a.m. It said the crew shut down the engine after receiving a “stall warning.”

Reuters photographer Beawiharta was aboard the aircraft with his wife, two sons and daughter. About 20 minutes after take-off, there were two sharp bangs, sending cabin staff scurrying to retrieve the meals they had only just begun serving.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 15, 2011-


Pique the Geek 20110515: Yams and Oral Contraceptives

Yams have served as staple foodstuffs in Africa for millenia, having been under cultivation for over 8000 years according to some authorities.  There are dozens of species, but only a relative few are suitable for agriculture.  Yams are members of family Dioscoreaceae and are all of the genus Dioscorea.  Most of them are tropical, but there is one North American species, Dioscorea villosa, aptly called Wild Yam.

Whilst a staple in many tropical areas, yams are not eaten very much in the United States.  What we call a yam is in almost all cases a sweet potato, not closely related to real yams.  It gets even more interesting, since the sweet potato is not a potato at all!  After the fold we shall discuss a different use for yams not involving food.  Since today is 5/15, I though we might start with a bit of music of that name.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Libya offers truce to UN as revolt enters 4th month

by Imed Lamloum, AFP

1 hr 21 mins ago

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Moamer Kadhafi’s prime minister offered on Sunday a truce to the visiting UN special envoy to Libya, Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib, in return for an immediate NATO ceasefire, as an anti-regime revolt entered a fourth month.

The head of Britain’s armed forces, meanwhile, said NATO should widen its bombing campaign to ensure Kadhafi is unable to cling to power, while Pope Benedict XVI called for negotiations to end the violence.

Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi, quoted by JANA state news agency, said after meeting Khatib that Libya is keen for “an immediate ceasefire to coincide with a stop to the NATO bombardment and the acceptance of international observers.”