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Liberal Outrage

Brennan out

I have not been commenting on all the appointments, and rumors of appointments, from the Obama administration. But this is good news.

Glenn Greenwald:

I think Obama is entitled to a lot of leeway on appointments and is entitled not to be condemned -- or praised -- other than for things he actually does. And while I have found some of his appointments questionable, Brennan was the only prospective appointment that, speaking only for myself, was completely unacceptable. Advocacy of Bush's interrogation and rendition programs should exclude anyone from consideration for any important position, let alone CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence.


Brennan's self-defense relies on pure strawmen. Contrary to his protestations, it was noted from the start that Brennan opposed waterboarding (as I wrote: "In fairness, Brennan, over the last couple of years, as he's become more attached to Obama's campaign, has several times said that waterboarding specifically is wrong"). Despite that, his lengthy, empathic statements made clear that he defended "enhanced interrogation tactics" and rendition -- grounds enough for making him unacceptable for any top intelligence post -- to say nothing of his strident advocacy for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty.

By fnord12 | November 25, 2008, 5:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Shame and anger

I'm going to quote this at length (no surprise) from Glenn Greenwald:

A federal district judge, Richard Leon, today ordered the Bush administration "forthwith" to release five Algerian detainees who have been held in Guantanamo without charges since January, 2002 -- almost seven full years. The decision was based on the court's finding that there was no credible evidence that the 5 detainees intended to take up arms against the U.S. The court found sufficient evidence to justify the ongoing detention of a sixth Algerian detainee.

When they were detained in 2001 in Bosnia, the Bush administration claimed that they were plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Buth once they were shipped to Guantanamo, the U.S. backed off that accusation and instead claimed they intended to travel to Afghanistan to fight against the U.S.

These 5 detainees were able to be heard in federal court only because the U.S. Supreme Court in the Boumediene case last June -- in a ruling John McCain called "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country" -- struck down as unconstitutional Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act, which had purported to abolish habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees and prohibit them from challenging their detention in a federal court.
The five men ordered released today have been imprisoned in a cage by the Bush administration for 7 straight years without being charged with any crimes and without there being any credible evidence that they did anything wrong. If the members of Congress who voted for the Military Commissions Act had their way (see them here and here), or if the four Supreme Court Justice in the Boumediene minority had theirs, the Bush administration would nonetheless have been empowered to keep them encaged indefinitely, for the rest of their lives if desired, without ever having to charge them with any crime or allow them to step foot into a courtroom to petition for habeas corpus.

In addition to every Republican Senator (except Chafee), those voting to authorize that repellent power include Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar, Tom Carper, Ben and Bill Nelson, Debbie Stabenow, and Joe Lieberman.

Judge Leon is a Bush-43 appointed Judge known as a right-wing ideologue and known for ruling in favor of the Government and for expansive executive power. He was Deputy Chief counsel for the Republicans on the Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, was Special Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee for the Whitewater investigation, and worked for both the Reagan and Bush 41 Justice Departments. That Judge Leon -- of all judges -- ruled that there was no credible evidence to suggest that these detainees are "enemy combatants" is as compelling a sign as one can imagine that there is no such evidence.
One of the detainees ordered released today had a wife who was pregnant at the time he was shipped to Guantanamo, who then gave birth to a daughter, now 6, whom he has never met. Another of the Bosnian-Algerians had an infant daughter at the time he was put in Guantanamo who died last year of congenital heart disease at the age of 6. Another of them "suffered months of facial paralysis from a brutal beating inflicted by Guantanamo camp soldiers." And then there's this, about one of the other detainees, Saber Lahmer:
When we last saw Saber in November, he was in his sixth month of solitary confinement. Since August, he has seen us, his legal team, twice and a psychiatrist on three brief occasions. For a few minutes each day, he sees the camp guards who bring his meals. He has had no other human contact. The glaring lights in his cell are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we left the cell, we could hear Saber shouting -- brief, truncated cries. We could not understand what he was saying.

According to Human Rights Watch, that detainee -- "a university-educated father of two who once taught at the Islamic Cultural Center in Bosnia" -- "continues to be housed 22 hours a day in a single cell, with nothing to occupy his time other than his Koran" and "now reports that he is going blind in his left eye, a result that he attributes to being housed in cells with fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day."

You know this won't be an isolated incident. Feeling angry at the people who did this, shame that i didn't do enough to stop it, and a little hopeless about the lack of ability i would have had to stop it even if i had tried harder.

By fnord12 | November 20, 2008, 4:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

I, for one, welcome our new Lizard People overlords

Go see how you would make decisions on the questionable ballots in the Al Franken/Norm Coleman senate race.

By fnord12 | November 20, 2008, 3:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

It's all so clear now

Click here for the simplest illustration of why i like Ta-Nehisi Coates. It's OK, it's not a long essay or anything. Just click.

By fnord12 | November 19, 2008, 4:17 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link

High Profile Lawyer challenges RIAA

Hope something comes of it:

A Harvard Law School professor has launched a constitutional assault against a federal copyright law at the heart of the industry's aggressive strategy, which has wrung payments from thousands of song-swappers since 2003.
Nesson argues that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional because it effectively lets a private group -- the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA -- carry out civil enforcement of a criminal law. He also says the music industry group abused the legal process by brandishing the prospects of lengthy and costly lawsuits in an effort to intimidate people into settling cases out of court.
Nesson is best known for defending the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and for consulting on the case against chemical companies that was depicted in the film "A Civil Action." His challenge against the music labels, made in U.S. District Court in Boston, is one of the most determined attempts to derail the industry's flurry of litigation.

Nesson's argument isn't that song swapping should be legal, of course. Only that the record industry shouldn't have the right to effectively enforce a criminal law.

By fnord12 | November 17, 2008, 8:56 AM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Link

Oh, Naomi Klein

I love you, but reading your writings makes me want to jump out of a window.

See if any of this sounds familiar: As soon as the bailout was announced, it became clear that Treasury officials would hire outsiders to perform their jobs for them -- at a profit. Private companies wanting to help manage the bailout were given just two days to apply for massive, multiyear contracts. Since it was such a mad rush -- after all, the entire economy was about to implode -- there was no time for an open bidding process. Nor was there time to draft rigorous rules to make sure that those applying don't have serious conflicts of interest. Instead, applicants were asked to disclose their conflicts and to explain -- and this is not a joke -- their "philosophy in fulfilling your duty to the Treasury and the U.S. taxpayer in light of your proprietary interests and those of other clients." In other words, an open invitation to bullshit about how much they love their country and how they can be trusted to regulate themselves.

There's nothing better than the ol' "We investigated ourselves and found no evidence of wrongdoing" line.

Remember how Treasury Secretary Paulson said all this money that Congress just had to let him have was going to be given to the banks so that they could continue lending and thus not crash the entire system? That wasn't so much with the true:

"There is no obligation for banks to lend the money one way or the other," Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman, tells Rolling Stone. "But the banks have the understanding" that the money is intended for loans. "We're not looking to control their operations."

Unfortunately, many of the banks appear to have no intention of wasting the money on loans. "At least for the next quarter, it's just going to be a cushion," said John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Gary Crittenden, chief financial officer of Citigroup, had an even better idea: He hinted that his company would use its share of the cash -- $25 billion -- to buy up competitors and swell even bigger. The handout, he told analysts, "does present the possibility of taking advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be closed to us."

And the folks at Morgan Stanley? They're planning to pay themselves $10.7 billion this year, much of it in bonuses -- almost exactly the amount they are receiving in the first phase of the bailout. "You can imagine the devilish grins on the faces of Morgan Stanley employees," writes Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil. "Not only did we, the taxpayers, save their company...we funded their 2008 bonus pool."

AIG is one example of how this whole thing has failed (or succeeded incredibly well, depending on which end of the bailout you're on). The federal government is supposed to now own 80% of AIG in exchange for the $85 billion. How is it that we own 80% of something and either cannot or will not stop them from going to spa trips or staying at luxury hotels instead of using that money to save them from the imminent collapse they were crying about? Clearly, for AIG executives, they have a different idea of what a crisis means. Apparently, it means having to stay at a Holiday Inn instead of the Waldorf.

Who needs some Hammer of Justice-ing?

Naomi Klein does offer an idea.

There is a better way to fix a broken financial system. Treasury's plan to buy up the toxic debts never made sense and should be immediately scrapped -- a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals -- and there will be more -- has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control -- from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment -- are limitless.

The only problem is nobody in power to do so will actually look into implementing such an idea. Though the free market laissez faire economic policies have brought us to this current low, many are unwilling to let it go. Afterall, those who have placed themselves in the right positions stand to make alot of money out of it. And that proves the system works.

By min | November 13, 2008, 9:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Why are we bailing out the auto industry?

Democrats, including Barack Obama, have been making a lot of noise lately about a bailout for the auto industry, setting them up for a "crash" with Bush. Amazingly, i'm with Bush on this one. I'm aware that the auto industry is still a source of good paying manufacturing jobs for a decent number of Americans. But this is an industry that has shipped a lot of those jobs overseas, and it is already planning for another series of layoffs that will happen no matter how much money the government throws at it. The auto industry for decades has resisted stronger regulation in terms of mileage, safety, and environmental standards. It also refused to adapt to a changing market; as gas prices have continued to rise, they have stuck to building gas guzzling cars and trucks, while using monopoly tactics to destroy small business electric car innovators. I recognize that it will "hurt" in the short term, but if these companies can't survive on their own, i don't see why we should be artificially propping them up. Something will come along to fill in that vacuum, and it can only be better than what we have now. We have to get rid of this "too big to fail" mentality. And if we absolutely must keep them running in order to prevent a depression, then the government should take them over 100%, and the break them up and sell them to new owners after the crisis is averted.

By fnord12 | November 12, 2008, 9:09 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

People Who Have Forums Who Shouldn't Even Be Allowed to Use Resources

Let alone get to host a radio talk show.

On the November 6 broadcast of The War Room with Quinn & Rose, co-host Jim Quinn compared "slave[s] in the Old South" to welfare recipients today, stating that the "difference" is that "[t]he slave had to work for" the benefits Quinn said they received. Quinn said: "You know, if you were a slave in the old South, what did you get as a slave? You got free room and board, you got free money, and you got rewarded for having children because that was just, you know, tomorrow's slave. So, you got a free house, you got free money, and you got rewarded for having children. Can I ask a question? How's that different from welfare? You get a free house, you get free food, and you get rewarded for having children. Oh, wait a minute, hold on a second. There is a difference: The slave had to work for it." The show then aired an audio clip of a buzzer sounding and a voice repeating, "Insensitivity!" Quinn then stated: "Ah, the truth stings, does it not?"


This on the heels of a conservative Polish lawmaker stating Obama's win of the presidency signals the "end of white civilization" (don't worry. he says he didn't mean that in a racist way) should decisively answer the moronic question of whether or not Obama's presidency marks the "end of racism".

By min | November 10, 2008, 3:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Making them do it


I was reading through the comment section of a few posts this morning (something I rarely can bring myself to do anymore) and I realized that I need to remind people of something that's very important for successful governance:

FDR was, of course, a consummate political leader. In one situation, a group came to him urging specific actions in support of a cause in which they deeply believed. He replied: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."

He understood that a President does not rule by fiat and unilateral commands to a nation. He must build the political support that makes his decisions acceptable to our countrymen. He read the public opinion polls not to define who he was but to determine where the country was - and then to strategize how he could move the country to the objectives he thought had to be carried out.

If Obama wants to govern as liberally as the political circumstances allow, then we need to work to make sure that the political circumstances include a strong liberal base. Mindlessly cheerleading out of a misplaced sense of loyalty will not help him. As Roosevelt understood, politics are interlocking interests and constituencies that have to be brought to bear to achieve certain goals.

In the current political world, I believe that Obama and the Democrats need a strong left wing that is out there agitating in order that we can continue to build popular support and also give them a political excuse to do things that the political establishment finds too liberal. Being cheerleaders all the time, however enjoyable that is, is not going to help them. Leaving them out there with no left wing cripples them.

By fnord12 | November 6, 2008, 3:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


By fnord12 | November 6, 2008, 2:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I'm Voting For Nader

Yes. That's right. I said it. I'm voting for Nader this year. He has absolutely no chance of winning. I'm still doing it.

But Obama's the best candidate we've had since FDR, you say. That may well be true. He's definitely intelligent (see my Is It Sexism? post for my thoughts on our current prez's little gray cell capacity). He's absolutely a fantastic orator. He seems on track with his stump speech on providing relief for the middle class and taxing rich people more. And ferchrissakes, it's a momentous occasion. He could be our first black president. I pretty much agree with all of this.

I'm still not voting for him. He's a centrist. I'm a liberal/leftist/progressive. Sure, he's been pegged as a liberal. Relatively speaking, when you're as far right as the Republicans have gone, the center would seem liberal. And that's really the crux of why i'm not voting for Obama.

For decades, the conservatives have been pulling the center further from the actual center and more to the right. Now centrists like the Democrats are labelled "liberals" and liberals are "radicals". Except, when you take abortion out of the equation, many moderate conservatives share very similar opinions on social programs, the economy, and healthcare with these supposedly liberal Dems. Where the majority of the nation share the same ideologies is where the center should be, not some contrived location on the GOP home turf that the GOP has browbeated everyone into excepting lest they brand you a "liberal" (dun da dun!). So, my vote is in one part an effort to tug back on the left to help bring it back to equilibrium.

Obama might be an inspiring candidate and definitely one of the best i've seen, but he doesn't share all of my ideals, and i'm not falling for the "lesser of two evils" mentality that we've been conditioned to believe with our two-party system. I want the Democrats to remember that there are people here on the left of center who have a voice and have the power to vote and that they can't just worry about appeasing the right of center voters, sure that we on the left will always vote Democratic because we have no other viable option. Yes, that's right, it's a protest vote.

For those of you confident that an Obama presidency will be a breath of fresh air, let me remind you that he supported reauthorizing the Patriot Act and voted for FISA.

Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay.

That's not a Bush operative saying it. That's your liberal, Democratic presidential nominee.

He voted in favor of building a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico and supports the guest worker program which sounded to me more like an indentured servitude program than anything.

Immigrants are still susceptible to exploitation under the bill at key points in their U.S. work experience: when they are first being recruited to work in the United States and must compete with other workers for a limited number of visas; when they fear losing their jobs because it means losing legal status in the country after a period of unemployment; and when they are asking an employer to sponsor them for early green card eligibility. The opportunities for employers to exert excessive power over immigrant employees at these junctures has the potential to shape their entire U.S. work experiences, rendering them unable to exercise their rights effectively and to advance in the workplace. So much for enhanced labor rights for immigrants, and so much for the effort to prevent exploitation that drives down wages and working conditions for U.S. workers.

Equally troubling is the way that, as a formal government program, McCain-Kennedy institutionalizes guest workers' second-class status, marking them as a group that, for all the attempts to enforce labor law, remains more vulnerable and less secure than the mainstream of American workers. While McCain-Kennedy creates a path to full citizenship for guest workers that is currently blocked off, the existence of the program ensures that there will always be more temporary, disposable workers to take their place.

Obama supports "clean coal" as a viable alternative to our oil dependence. What the hell is clean coal? How can coal be clean? Well, according to Wikipedia, it's using technology to clean up the emissions you normally get from processing/burning coal. This leads me to the question: and where does the waste go instead?

"Clean coal" methods only move pollutants from one waste stream to another which are then still released into the environment. Any time coal is burnt, contaminants are released and they have to go somewhere. They can be released via the fly ash, the gaseous air emissions, water outflow or the ash left at the bottom after burning. Ultimately, they still end up polluting the environment.

Obama has also claimed to be ok with offshore drilling. It's a statistical impossibility that offshore drilling could be 100% safe for the environment. Any drilling would have risks of spillage and leaks, not to mention wastes from the operation. Oh, and hey, what about hurricanes? At least on land, it can be somewhat contained. Oil can only seep through the soil and groundwater at a certain rate. You've got a) more time to react and b) some hope of recapturing most of what you spilled. In the ocean, your spill is going to be swept away by the current immediately. You may be able to contain some of it eventually, but it could never be enough. You could never recapture all of it.

Then there's Israel. Every politician knows it's political suicide if you don't show immediate and strong support for Israel. And Obama has done his best to vocalize how much he is a friend of Israel. Now, look, i'm not saying it's wrong to support Israel's bid for survival. I'm just saying they're not completely free of blame for the situation between them and Palestine. There's no reason why an Israeli shouldn't be able to sit down at a cafe and have a cup of coffee without being afraid a suicide bomber might run up at any moment. But i think it's a very complicated situation and there are no good guys and bad guys. I think each side has a legitimate claim and each side has done their share of heinous acts. So, to simplify it into "I support Israel" doesn't do justice to the complexity and seriousness of the situation, and it's disappointing to see yet another politician dutifully recite the meme.

And finally, universal healthcare. Obama's plan is better than what we have now, granted. But it's not healthcare for everyone. And my fear is that having been tossed this bone, the push for universal healthcare will die a quiet death. Like most things, when there is no pain point, there is no effort made to change.

In voting for Nader, i know i might have to suffer some criticisms of having "thrown my vote away" on that "spoiler" Nader. My response to that is what gives the Democrats the right to assume they have my vote without working for it? I'm not even being "brave". New Jersey is a safe win for Obama. I don't know what i would do if i lived in a swing state like Florida or Virginia. I don't know that i wouldn't get behind the "lesser of two evils" in order to help prevent a McCain win. In 2004, i voted for Milksop Kerry in the hopes of preventing a second Bush term. I've since regretted that i didn't vote for Nader then, as well, because that vote for Kerry went against all the reasons i stated earlier in this post on what i believe my vote means.

I know that the tiny portion of the votes Nader will win today will be nothing more than a blip when compared to the millions of voters coming out for Obama. It doesn't matter. What's important is that blip is there, and the Democrats know that the blip isn't going away, and there will be a pull from the left as well as the right, and we will not be complacent in our relief that finally we have someone in power who's not George W. Bush.

So, this year, i'm giving up my chance to be one of the many who cast their historic vote for the first black president in order to stick to my ideals, misguided or otherwise.

By min | November 4, 2008, 12:29 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life | Link

Is It Sexism?

For the last few weeks, there's been non-stop chatter about the backlash against Palin because of the moronic things she says. Her constant displays of ignorance have been cited as the reasons why public opinion polls are showing 59% think she is unprepared to be the VP. She's actually polling worse than Dan Quayle did back in the 80s.

Ok, she's pretty dumb and completely not interested in learning about the things of which she currently has no knowledge. She didn't even have the wit to make up an answer when Katie Couric asked her what she read. That's sad. And flubbing the "what does a VP do" question when anyone could have predicted she'd be asked (it had been highly publicized that 3 months earlier she'd said she had no idea what a VP's job was, ferchrissakes) - were her handlers trying to lose the election?

But what the hell? George Bush is a mental midget of similar proportions, and they let him be President! You think Palin's more incurious than Cowboy Brushbeater (henh henh henh)? I grant you that when asked what he reads, he was able to answer that "gotcha" question. I credit his having an answer more to his handlers having prepped him better than to any intellectual prowess on Bush's part. I don't actually believe he reads. As a member of the Bush empire, i would suppose he's been coached all his life on how to speak. Sarah's not stupider. She just didn't have as much tutoring.

Josh Marshall of TPM apparently disagrees on who got hit with the bigger stupid stick:

"What about George Bush?" Sorry but there's no comparison. Whatever else I think of him, he's not a moron. And while he appears to be astoundingly incurious, there's simply no comparison to Palin.

I don't see how there's no comparison. Just look at the man. In the face of disaster or crisis, he's usually somewhere else with a stupid expression on his face. In the face of rising fuel prices, he was surprised by what was, by that time, common knowledge.

"Wait, what did you just say?" the president interrupted. "You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?"

Maer responded: "A number of analysts are predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline."

Bush's rejoinder: "Oh, yeah? That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

That's interesting?? I hadn't heard that???

Really, Josh? Mr. Magic Wand is less moronic than Bible Spice? I'm sorry, but that dog won't hunt.

So, what is it that is making her so idiocy so unpalatable? It can't be that John McCain is old and there's a chance she might step into the presidency. As i pointed out, we elected the village idiot for president twice already. Been there, done that.

Is it because we've had 8 years of President Braintrust that the electorate is unwilling to go through it a second time? That would assume the population has the ability to learn from its mistakes. I'm not really willing to concede that it does.

Well, you say, Nukular George might be an idiot, but everyone knew he was going to be surrounded by people who knew what they were doing (see: Iraq Invasion), so no big deal. He's just the puppet leader. Wouldn't any McCain/Palin government be surrounded by the same types of geniuses? Wouldn't they also too have offices full of advisors to help them come to the "right" conclusions? Should anything untoward happen to McCain, Palin would have no less than five former Secretaries of State to advise her - Kissinger, Eagleburger, Schultz,....uh..... Roosevelt, Roosevelt......and Manny.

Thus, i'm left with thinking all the hoohah is because she's a woman. Mebbe they're more concerned about her ability to think because they have an underlying belief that women aren't as smart as men to start with. She's already got a handicap (hormones), so she can't also be dumb. It's ok if she's just window dressing (e.g. First Lady Laura Stepford Wife Bush), but if you're going to do something crazy like put a woman in charge, she's got to meet a higher standard of competence. Bush might be a moron, but at least he's a man, by God!

Mebbe the McCain campaign should be less concerned over the "sexism" of criticizing her $150,000 shopping spree and more concerned about the sexism that's making her idiocy more important than Bush's.

"Our Sarah's No Stupider Than W! McCain '08!" Woo!

By min | November 4, 2008, 10:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

SwiftJews for Truth

I'm not judging, i'm just saying...

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

By min | November 3, 2008, 8:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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