07/19/2011 archive

Secret Sites In Somalia

The Obama Doctrine: Drones, Targeted Killings and Secret Prisons

The Bush Doctrine was that the world was our battlefield-we were at liberty to carry out drone attacks and unlawful interrogations throughout the world. But many Americans may be surprised to discover that far from fading away with the former president, these policies have in fact expanded and intensified under President Obama.

As The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill explained on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, Obama has succeeded in normalizing and legitimizing these policies that were considered illegal in the extreme only a few years ago. Recounting his recent investigation of increasing CIA involvement in counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, Scahill says we have to decide, “are we a country that operates under the rule of law or do we believe we’re emperors who can wage war on the world?”

Obama contradicts his own executive order that supposedly closed these CIA sites and ended rendition. He is doing it without the same scrutiny or criticism from his supporters, giving him a pass for embracing and expanding the same policies for which we loudly condemned Bush and Cheney. I won’t give these Obama supporters the dignity of calling them the left, because they have gone over to the darkest side of the right.

H/T Naomi Klein via Twitter

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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”.

Robert Reich: The Dangerous Hi-Jinks of the GOP’s Juveniles

I’ve spent enough of my life in Washington to take its theatrics with as much seriousness as a Seinfeld episode. A large portion of what passes for policy debate isn’t at all – it’s play-acting for various constituencies. The actors know they’re acting, as do their protagonists on the other side who are busily putting on their own plays for their own audiences.

Typically, though, back stage is different. When the costumes and grease paint come off, compromises are made, deals put together, legislation hammered out. Then at show time the players announce the results – spinning them to make it seem they’ve kept to their parts.

At least that’s the standard playbook.

But this time there’s no back stage. The kids in the GOP have trashed it. The GOP’s experienced actors – House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McDonnell – have been upstaged by juveniles like Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann, who don’t know the difference between playacting and governing. They’re in league with tea party fanatics who hate government so much they’re willing to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States. Washington has gone from theater to reality TV – a game of hi-jinks chicken that could end in a crash.

Paul Krugman: Inflation Hawks Demand That Britain Leap Into Folly

The economist Adam Posen of the Bank of England gave a talk recently about British monetary policy that drives home a point I’ve been meaning to make: namely, that what’s happening in Britain on the monetary front right now is very much a teachable moment about monetary policy more generally.

The Bank of England faces the same kind of conflict between what it should be doing and what it’s under pressure to do that the Federal Reserve does, but in starker form. And if the Bank of England holds its ground, we should soon have a clear demonstration that one side is right and the other is wrong.

Eugene Robibson: GOP Candidate Cain Gets Away With Bigotry

It is time to stop giving Herman Cain’s unapologetic bigotry a free pass. The man and his poison need to be seen clearly and taken seriously.

Imagine the reaction if a major-party presidential candidate-one who, like Cain, shows actual support in the polls-said he “wouldn’t be comfortable” appointing a Jew to a Cabinet position. Imagine the outrage if this same candidate loudly supported a community’s efforts to block Mormons from building a house of worship.

But Cain’s prejudice isn’t against Mormons or Jews, it’s against Muslims. Open religious prejudice is usually enough to disqualify a candidate for national office-but not, apparently, when the religion in question is Islam.

Joe Nocera: The Tables Are Turned on Murdoch

You have to love the fact that when John Yates resigned on Monday as the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London – a k a Scotland Yard – he complained about the “huge amount of inaccurate, ill-informed and, on occasion, downright malicious gossip” that had finally forced his hand.

My first thought was: He didn’t really say that, did he? My second thought was: Can any human being truly be that unaware?

New York Times Editorial: Signing Away the Right to Govern

It used to be that a sworn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution was the only promise required to become president. But that no longer seems to be enough for a growing number of Republican interest groups, who are demanding that presidential candidates sign pledges shackling them to the corners of conservative ideology. Many candidates are going along, and each pledge they sign undermines the basic principle of democratic government built on compromise and negotiation.

Both parties have long had litmus tests on issues – abortion, taxation, the environment, the social safety net. The hope was that the candidates would keep their promises, and, when they didn’t, voters who cared deeply about those issues could always pick someone else next time. Human beings, after all, do not come with warranties.

Roger Cohen: The Cameron Collapse

Peter Oborne, writing in the conservative Daily Telegraph, recently suggested that the Conservative British prime minister, David Cameron, was not merely in a mess, he “is in a sewer.”

That seems about right. Cameron lost it over Rupert Murdoch. He showed staggering lack of judgment in hiring Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, as his first director of communications at Downing Street, a hubristic decision made against the best advice and apparently with a dual aim: to show he was not an old Etonian “toff” and to get favorable treatment from the 37 percent of the British print media owned by Murdoch.

He then spent a fair chunk of time during his first year in office in 26 meetings with various News Corp. honchos, including Rebekah Brooks, who was arrested by the British police Sunday.

John Nichols: Elizabeth Warren Says She’ll Consider Massachusetts Senate Run

On Sunday, when President Obama let it be known that he would not appoint Elizabeth Warren as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it was pretty clear that the Harvard law professor who has become a hero to progressives was going to need a new approach to Washington. It was equally clear that the logical approach was to consider making a run for Ted Kennedy’s old US Senate seat representing Massachusetts.

Warren agreed.

Asked Monday whether she would consider making a run for the seat now occupied by US Senator Scott Brown, R-Wall Street, Warren replied: “I’ve been working 14 hours a day on trying to stand this… agency up, really for more than a year now…. It’s time for a little vacation for me. When I go home, I’ll do more thinking then. But I need to do that thinking not from Washington.”

George Zornich: Who Is Richard Cordray?

When Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a liberal member of the House Financial Services Committee, heard over the weekend that President Obama had nominated Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he wasn’t sure what to think. Not because he was unsure about Cordray’s record- Gutierrez just didn’t know who he was.

“I am not familiar with Attorney General Richard Cordray, but a quick Google search was very reassuring,” Gutierrez said in a statement Monday. “He is the type of strong, experienced leader we need to get the agency fully up and running.”

Cordray may have a very low national profile, but in Ohio-where he’s been active in Democratic politics since the early 90s, and served as state attorney general for two years beginning in 2009-he’s much more of a known commodity.

Day 19: Support The California Prison Hunger Strike!


(Note: This is my second essay in support of the fasting California prisoners.  The first is here. The take away: prisoners on hunger strike for almost 3 weeks have requested your support in their struggle to end long term, 23 hour a day solitary confinement in California’s Special Housing Units.  I urge you to support them.  Details follow.)

Today is day 19 of the prison hunger strike.   This may be the most significant act of prisoner resistance in 40 years, since the Attica Uprising in 1971.

The LA Times reports:

Le Tour- Stage 16

Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Gap 101 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Today’s Stage is pretty much steadily up hill with a dip after the feeding station and a full fledged descent at the finish following the Col de Manse, so theoretically at least there could be huge deltas as back markers struggle up hill and front runners zoom down.

There’s also the crash factor that could come into play especially if the winds are tricky or the weather is bad.

After consideration I have no reason to change yesterday’s assessment that if you’re not in the top ten now it’s extremely unlikely you’ll get there barring a catastrophic breakdown by a lot of teams and riders.  The gap between 10th and 11th is a full 1:37 and it’s 8:20 to Voeckler.

Whether he can hang on is, I think, the question of the day.  He’s not known as a climber though he did pretty good in the Pyrenees so this is probably the last chance for him to put some seconds in the bank on a Stage suited to his style.

Vs. will join the race in progress at 8 am.

On This Day In History July 19

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.

July 19 is the 200th day of the year (201st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 165 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1848, a two-day Women’s Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, New York. There the “Bloomers” are introduced.

The Seneca Falls Convention was an early and influential women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, July 19-20, 1848. It was organized by local New York women upon the occasion of a visit by Boston-based Lucretia Mott, a Quaker famous for her speaking ability, a skill rarely cultivated by American women at the time. The local women, primarily members of a radical Quaker group, organized the meeting along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a skeptical non-Quaker who followed logic more than religion.

The meeting spanned two days and six sessions, and included a lecture on law, a humorous presentation, and multiple discussions about the role of women in society. Stanton and the Quaker women presented two prepared documents, the Declaration of Sentiments and an accompanying list of resolutions, to be debated and modified before being put forward for signatures. A heated debate sprang up regarding women’s right to vote, with many including Mott urging the removal of this concept, but Frederick Douglass argued eloquently for its inclusion, and the suffrage resolution was retained. Exactly 100 of approximately 300 attendees signed the document, mostly women.

The convention was seen by some of its contemporaries, including featured speaker Mott, as but a single step in the continuing effort by women to gain for themselves a greater proportion of social, civil and moral rights, but it was viewed by others as a revolutionary beginning to the struggle by women for complete equality with men. Afterward, Stanton presented the resulting Declaration of Sentiments as a foundational document in the American woman’s suffrage movement, and she promoted the event as the first time that women and men gathered together to demand the right for women to vote. Stanton’s authoring of the History of Woman Suffrage helped to establish the Seneca Falls Convention as the moment when the push for women’s suffrage first gained national prominence. By 1851, at the second National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, the issue of women’s right to vote had become a central tenet of the women’s rights movement.

“Bury Your Mistakes”

The problem with Rupert Murdoch’s “philosophy” is that eventually something starts to “smell” really bad and they start digging. The more they dig, the more bodies they find. Like peeling an onion.

David Carr, “Media Equation” columnist for The New York Times, taks with Rachel Maddow about the News Corps record of unethical bullying and illegal business behavior and looks ahead to Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks testifying before British Parliament Tuesday.

There is a possibility that Ms. Brooks may not testify because of her arrest on Sunday.

Troubles That Money Can’t Dispel

By David Carr

“Bury your mistakes,” Rupert Murdoch is fond of saying. But some mistakes don’t stay buried, no matter how much money you throw at them.

Time and again in the United States and elsewhere, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation has used blunt force spending to skate past judgment, agreeing to payments to settle legal cases and, undoubtedly more important, silence its critics. In the case of News America Marketing, its obscure but profitable in-store and newspaper insert marketing business, the News Corporation has paid out about $655 million to make embarrassing charges of corporate espionage and anticompetitive behavior go away.


Litigation can have an annealing effect on companies, forcing them to re-examine the way they do business. But as it was, the full extent and villainy of the hacking was never known because the News Corporation paid serious money to make sure it stayed that way.

And the money the company reportedly paid out to hacking victims is chicken feed compared with what it has spent trying to paper over the tactics of News America in a series of lawsuits filed by smaller competitors in the United States.


In 2009, a federal case in New Jersey brought by a company called Floorgraphics went to trial, accusing News America of, wait for it, hacking its way into Floorgraphics’s password protected computer system.


The complaint stated that the breach was traced to an I.P. address registered to News America and that after the break-in, Floorgraphics lost contracts from Safeway, Winn-Dixie and Piggly Wiggly.

Much of the lawsuit was based on the testimony of Robert Emmel, a former News America executive who had become a whistle-blower. After a few days of testimony, the News Corporation had heard enough. It settled with Floorgraphics for $29.5 million and then, days later, bought it, even though it reportedly had sales of less than $1 million.

Murdoch’s tactics are not a secret. In an article from Forbes written in 2005, Peter Lattman described the business practices by Paul V. Carlucci, then head of the marketing division of News America:

Paul V. Carlucci takes no prisoners. The head of a marketing division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Carlucci once rallied his sales force by showing a film clip from The

in which Al Capone beats a man to death with a baseball bat.

I wonder if Mr. Carlucci is friends with Carl Palladino the former NY State gubernatorial candidate with a penchant for solving problems with a baseball bat?

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