Saturday, October 6

Tortured Logic of Dana Perino

Revelations about a new secret series of torture memos have gotten things really hopping at the White House.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.


Now:
Bush: 'This government does not torture people'


Then:
After the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the Geneva Conventions applied to prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda, President Bush for the first time acknowledged the C.I.A.’s secret jails and ordered their inmates moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The C.I.A. halted its use of waterboarding, or pouring water over a bound prisoner’s cloth-covered face to induce fear of suffocation.

But in July, after a monthlong debate inside the administration, President Bush signed a new executive order authorizing the use of what the administration calls “enhanced” interrogation techniques — the details remain secret — and officials say the C.I.A. again is holding prisoners in “black sites” overseas. The executive order was reviewed and approved by Mr. Bradbury and the Office of Legal Counsel.


Comey had assumed that these people are actually capable of shame, but from watching the Perino Parade of Obfuscation with the White House Press Corp, it appears not.

The following video is from C-SPAN 2, broadcast on October 5, 2007.





Full Transcript

Q I wanted to ask about the President's statement this morning on the interrogation method. He said -- he repeated, obviously, what he did yesterday, that the government doesn't torture -- the U.S. government doesn't torture people. But these memos make it sound like the definition of what's permissible is so expansive that you could say we don't torture and almost anything could be true falling into that. What do you say to that?

MS. PERINO: Well, what I say is the United States' policy and our laws is not to torture. We meet the laws and we also meet our international obligations. There's a public document that interprets the statute that is from the Office of Legal Opinion, from the Justice Department. It's on the website for anybody to read. Any additional documents are classified for a reason, because they have to deal with interrogation techniques.

What the President said today is, yes, we do interrogate al Qaeda terrorists. These are people who intend to harm us. We do not torture them. And the appropriate members of the Congress were briefed, and there has been no changes from that December 2004 opinion that everyone has available to them -- in addition to the briefings that the Hill has had.

Q Any of the briefing -- any of the members of Congress who have been briefed, are those the same ones who are complaining about the --

MS. PERINO: Intelligence Committee members were briefed.


The Intelligence Comittee members were briefed you say? Except that, they weren't.

From Intelligence Comittee Chairman Jay Rockefeller:

The Administration can’t have it both ways. I’m tired of these games. They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.

The reality is, the Administration refused to disclose the program to the full Committee for five years, and they have refused to turn over key legal documents since day one. As I have said from the beginning, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to determine whether the program is the best means for obtaining reliable information, whether it is fully supported by the law, and whether it is in the best interest of the United States.


We don't torture, but even "if" we did - so what right?

Q But, Dana, Republicans, like Colin Powell, John McCain, have said that if torture is going on, that could be detrimental to the United States around the world. So why leave any ambiguity out there? Why not let --

MS. PERINO: I think the key word is "if," and I don't think there is ambiguity. We are not torturing.

Q You said there's no shift in policy --

MS. PERINO: Well, what would make it better, what would make it better, that we should tell everybody exactly what we have?

Q Not everybody -- not everybody.

MS. PERINO: You want to know the techniques that we use so we can tell exactly al Qaeda what we're going to do? That's absurd.

Q No, but these members of Congress -- not us, these members of Congress have security clearances; they see classified information all the time.

MS. PERINO: And the intelligence community was fully briefed.


Right, the intelligence community was fully briefed. All of them were told that up until 2006 that Water-Boarding was part of U.S. policy until Gen Hayden removed it from the list of "approved" techniques.

Q They're saying that they did not -- they were not fully briefed. You're saying "fully briefed." That's your definition of fully briefed, just like it's your definition of torture. Jay Rockefeller, the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, is saying they haven't seen the memos. So how can they be fully briefed if they haven't seen the memos? And why did you keep them secret if there's nothing in there that you're trying to hide?

MS. PERINO: The memos -- they are applications that fall within the law, which is to not torture. It is absolutely important -- it's critically important that we keep this information secret. It is secret for a reason. We don't go around classifying things just for the -- willy-nilly. You do it for a reason. And I would object to anyone saying that this President would not do whatever needs to be done within the law to make sure that people are taken care of. And we have worked with Congress --

Q But you have questions by people in his own administration -- Goldsmith, you're got Jim Comey come forward and raise questions about whether or not it's been legal. It's not just Democrats on the Hill. People in your own Justice Department --

MS. PERINO: And I said that reasonable people can disagree on complex questions. But I will say, also, that we have paid scrupulous attention to the law, and we have made sure that we take the time that it takes in order to debate these issues.


The combiniations memo was signed by Steven Bradbury, who at the time was undergoing pressure as he sought to be confirmed for a promotion and an environment where those who spoke out like Comey were considered "weak".

“On national security matters generally, there was a sense that Comey was a wimp and that Comey was disloyal,” said one Justice Department official who heard the White House talk, expressed with particular force by Mr. Addington.

“We are likely to hear the words: ‘If we don’t do this, people will die,’” Mr. Comey said. But he argued that government lawyers must uphold the principles of their great institutions.

“It takes far more than a sharp legal mind to say ‘no’ when it matters most,” he said. “It takes moral character. It takes an understanding that in the long run, intelligence under law is the only sustainable intelligence in this country.”


Add to this the fact that if Bradbury's opinion were to strict it would put government agents at risk of potential prosecution for "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment.

“If Justice says some practices are in violation of the C.I.D. standard,” Mr. Zelikow said, referring to cruel, inhuman or degrading, “then they are now saying that officials broke current law.”


So naturally, Bradbury broadened the standard and gave legal carte-blanche to torturing al Qeada suspects. And now Dana Perino is running around trying to justify and excuse it all. How? Cuz Al Qaeda is so mean to us.

Q The American people and the President were horrified when they saw the photographs of really, truly sadistic moments a couple years ago.

MS. PERINO: In Abu Graib? As was the President.

Q And we did torture.

MS. PERINO: The President said that that was abhorrent. He said that it was absolutely inappropriate, and that anyone should be held to account.

Q How do we know that it's over now? How do we know -- there's testimony, there's still testimony, there's secrecy. Do you think that alleged terrorist is not going to know he might be tortured by the U.S.? Our whole methods are so abominable, horrific. And I think we're really a shame

MS. PERINO: What about the people who cut off the heads of American soldiers and put them on the video --

Q That's horrible. We're not --

MS. PERINO: Yes, really bad. We don't torture. We get the terrorists here and we interrogate them.

Q The Iraqis had nothing to do with 9/11, which you keep bringing up.

MS. PERINO: Helen, al Qaeda certainly is in Iraq, and they have murdered our citizens all around the world, and many of the citizens of our allies, as well. And the information that we get from these interrogation programs has not only protected people here, but in --

Q They're about 18 percent, and we brought them in.

MS. PERINO: No, Helen.

Q The Iraqis are fighting for their country.


If they're fighting for their country, just what is it that we're fighting for?

Vyan

Friday, October 5

Destroying American prestige, one stress position at a time

CNN Report on the Latest Torture Memos from Blitzer's Situation Room.



New documents indicate that under Alberto Gonzales, new harsh interrogation techniques were secretly authorized, such as detainees being placed naked in freezing conditions, stress positions, water-boarding, starvation and beaten in simultaneous combination. The documents also indicate that this was done simultaneous to the effort in Congress passing new restriction on these very same techinques.

During the report they speak with one British citizen who had been held in Gitmo and eventually released who says that he was willing to "say anything to stop the torture." He claims that he was "beaten, shackeled, stripped naked and hog-tied", was never associated with al Qeada and only said so to end the torture.

Wolf Blitzer then talks to WH Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend who trots out each and every wingnut talking point on this issue. I swear, this woman is like Baghdad Bob with an 80's flip and pink pants suit.

First there's the obvious old saw...

These programs stop attacks.


This she says while also claiming.

The United States does not torture.


Oh really, then just what are people doing in these programs?

I can't discuss specific techniques


No kidding. And then she naturally goes on to justify the torture that we don't do.

The program is very limited. The interrogators are highly trained. We start with the least harsh measures first, it stops when the subject becomes cooperatives. This program was used on Abu Zubaydah and resulted in actionable intelligence that led to the capture of abu Ben-Alzied.

Frankly Wolf, if Americans are killed because we failed to the hard things, Americans have a right to ask us why?


Abu Zubahdah? That would be the Ghost Detainee who was found to be mentally ill?

One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."


This is where we got "actionable intelligence"?

And the "Why" part isn't so hard - it's because it's against the law.

Townsend literally scoffs at the idea that our usage of these techniques might make Americans less safe (never mind what Colin Powell says, it's not like he knows anything about the soldiers after being Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) claiming that "these people don't wear uniforms, they're going to treat our soldiers the same way no matter what we do."

Or don't do, or do and claim we don't do, or something...

She naturally ignores that it doesn't just put American troops at risk, when America is an international leader begins trying to find wiggle room in the Geneva conventions and our own War Crimes Laws it's like a virus that starts to spread to all sorts of other nations like say - Myanmar.

What Ms. Townsend also ably dodges is the fact that these techniques were expressly prohibited under U.S. Law and the Uniform Military Code of Justice during the entire period of their use until the passage of the Military Commissions Act in 2006, which implemented the Bybee Standard. (Torture isn't Torture unless some is about to die or lose a vital organ)

It was only last month that it was revealed that CIA Director Michael Hayden officially removed Water-Boarding from the approved list of "alternative" interrogation techniques which were approved by the President in 2002 - long before passage of the MCA or the McCain Detainee Treatment Act.

It is beyond question that these techniques have often been ineffective and have produce inaccurate information (such as the claims from "Curveball" an Ibn Sheik al-Libi that there were WMD's IN IRAQ!), that they are illegal and immoral.

It's not about whether we do the "hard thing" to protect Americans, it's whether we do the right thing because so far nearly 4,000 Americans have already died in the Iraq War in part, because we used torture - because we did the wrong thing.

This is a question of both character and morality. The question isn't whether America is willing to do the "hard thing", it's whether we're willing and able to do the right thing even when it does risk American lives to do so. Townsend's version of the question speaks to our cowardice, when we should be speaking to our courage.

And in this area it's long past time we we showed some courage and started doing the right thing.

Vyan

Thursday, October 4

4 Million Children Left Behind

Wednesday, October 3

Why do Rush, Fox and the Wingers Hate the Troops


When 380 tons of high explosives disappeared from U.S. custody following the fall of Baghdad - they blamed the troops. ("Lazy", "Incompetent"?)
When the Abu Ghraib torture story broke - they blamed the troops. ("Bad apples on the night shift")
When one soldier complained to Donald Rumseld about "Hillbilly Armor" they said he was being manipulated by the media to ask the question.
And now after General Eaton has stated that "Conservatives are the worst thing to ever happen to the military", Gen. Sanchez stated that "This War is Lost", CBS has fired Gen. Batiste for criticizing the Iraq War all of the Right-Wing is racing the Rush Limbaugh's defense now that he's been accused of saying veterans who criticize the Iraq War are "phony soldiers."
It's long past time we put this question to them directly.

Why do Rush, Fox and the Right-Wing Hate our Troops?

It's not like this is news to anyone that's been paying attention, but the blatantness of it has become truly stunning.

Rush Limbaugh is now claiming that he's the victim of a smear campaign, that when he said "Phony Soldiers" (not singular, plural - not soldier - soldierS) he wasn't talking about people like General Eaton, or General Batiste or General Sanchez or General Shinseki or General Zinni - or the 20 retired Generals who've all come out an opposed the surge and our overall strategy in Iraq (not to mention Admiral Fallon the current head of Centcom) - no, he wasn't talking about any of them. Nah. Don't be silly.

When he said this....

CALLER 2: What's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.


He didn't mean, y'know, what he said.

You didn't hear or read what you just thought you heard. It's just an illusion. A phantasm. A poltergeist playing tricks on your mind.

Rush meant something else entirely, and you're a fool if you don't know it. Fox News says so.


Rush originally used this term, "phony soldiers," when he was talking about a guy named Jesse MacBeth. Jesse MacBeth never served in Iraq, says Rush. He claimed to have a Purple Heart; he didn't. This guy was propped up by the left, because he opposes the Iraq war, as some sort of hero, as a talking-points guy, this Jesse MacBeth was, and Rush Limbaugh was making the point that this guy was basically a "phony soldier," and he was trying to say that sometimes people on the left use "phony soldiers" like this to make their points.


So this Jesse MacBeth guy who literally isn't a soldier and has been convited of fraud is what Limbaugh meant. See, no problem.

Some Soldiers do be phony.

So why is it that Limbaugh didn't mention this Jesse guy until almost 2 minutes later?

I guess that caller just knew what Rush was going to be thinking in another 1 minute and 50 seconds. Makes perfect sense.

You see, real soldiers - unlike the "phony ones" like Jesse who've never really worn a uniform - are proud of their service.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --


So it's not like you might have one of these "phony soldiers" who might have actually served is it? Never happen.

Ummmm.. how about John Murtha?

LIMBAUGH: You shouldn't hold your breath because there's no standard to hold me to, in the sense that you're -- I never said what you think I said, Congressman Pallone, Congresswoman [Jan] Schakowsky [D-IL], Sen. [John] Kerry [D-MA], or any of the rest of you in the drive-by media. I was talking about a genuine phony soldier. And by the way, Jesse MacBeth's not the only one. How about this guy Scott Thomas who was writing fraudulent, phony things in The New Republic about atrocities he saw that never happened? How about Jack Murtha blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?


So Murtha's apparently a "phony soldier" because he believes that some of our soldiers in Iraq killed innocent civilians at Haditha? (Mirroring false claims made by MacBeth) But Rush - Everyone Believes That because that's what happened. (via Time)

But one morning last November, some members of Kilo Company apparently didn't attempt to distinguish between enemies and innocents. Instead, they seem to have gone on the worst rampage by U.S. service members in the Iraq war, killing as many as 24 civilians in cold blood.


Blackwater deja vu anyone?

Others who felt that way? How about General Batiste.

I, however, see a direct link between Haditha, the national embarrassment of Abu Ghraib, going on four years now of uncontrollable chaos in Iraq, with the bad judgment, poor decisions of our secretary of defense back in late 2003 and 2004.


Note that Batiste isn't blaming the troops here, he's blaming the leadership, of which he was a member. Just as John Kerry didn't blame the troops either back in 1971, he blamed the leadership and John Murtha didn't blame the troops, he blamed the... oh you get it already.

Murtha's big issue with Haditha besides the massacre itself was actually the cover-up of that massacre by leaders at the Pentagon.

MURTHA: I can only tell you this, Charles. This is what the Marine Corps told me at the highest level. The Commandant of the Marine Corps was in my office just last week, so you know, I know there was a cover-up someplace. They knew about this a few days afterwards and there’s no question the chain of command tried to stifle the story. I can understand why, but that doesn’t excuse it. Something like this has to be brought out to the public, and the people have to be punished.

GIBSON: The commandant told you that this was a case of murder?

MURTHA: Charlie, don’t mince words here. The commandant said it was a very serious incident. He was not going to tell me it was murder, but everything looked to him just like it looks to me. He didn’t say that in so many words, but he told me exactly what happened.


So yeah, Murtha's deserves to be associated with a liar and petty crook who tried to rip off the VA - but Rush wasn't like calling him a "Phony" or anything. Except like when he was.

And it's not like Rush has ever called other servicemen phonies or anything. It's not like he's ever said that about John Kerr... oops.

(Reading From Washington Post article by Richard Cohen) "...during the campaign, the Republican ticket and its allies in the Swift Boat Veterans movement managed to paint Kerry as a quivering liar. The character attack was so bold, so outrageous, that it of course worked."

Rush: No, it worked because it was true! The guy's a fraud! He's a total phony, and people were able to see it!


Ok, so the only "phonies" are MacBeth, Scott Thomas, John Murtha and John Kerry.

That's not so bad, right? None of them actually served in IRAQ. It's not like anyone has taken up Rush's mantle and used it against troops who've actually served in the current war or anything. Anyone except Melanie Morgan that is.

A number of, of, soldiers who are fake, or who are embellishers, or who are posers. Who go out there, or soldiers like Jon Soltz from VoteVet.org who go out there and use their far left, anti-America agenda. Political agenda to undermine the real mission of our troops, our heros who are out there.


Thanks Melanie, you've really made Rush's point that he was only talking about Jesse MacBeth (and Scott Thomas, and John Murtha and John Kerry - and via proxy - Jon Soltz).

Then there's Tucker Carlson who said in response to an op-ed by 7 members of the 82nd Airborne who criticized the war...

Carlson: How the hell to [they] know, (if the vast majority of Iraqis want the U.S. in their country?)


Well, gee, I don't know maybe they got the hint after a few dozen IED attacks. And maybe that view was somewhat reenforced after two more of them were killed in action.

But nevermind them, let's get back to the real victim here. Poor Rush.

It's all been so unfair to Rush, I mean he's be so taken out of context that's why he's had to re-edit his own transcript to remove the comments just to make sure that's his real (edited) comments are properly understood.

And then when Capt. Jon Soltz of VoteVets got a might bit peeved with Limbaugh and launched an ad campaign against his comments...



Rush of course accused Brian McGough, the wounded soldier featured in the ad, of being used as a suicide bomb-thrower.

This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said and then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.


So tastefully stated, considering that particular vet was wounded by an actual suicide bomber. And who might that person who "armed this valiant soldier with lies" be?

Might it perhaps be Iraq War Vet Capt. Jon Soltz?

Time and time again, people like Rush, Morgan and Tucker demean exactly what it is our troops are fighting for - protecting our freedom. Our freedom to think for ourselves and speak our minds openly while their corporate overloads quiet look the other way, like Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays says he refuses to condemn Rush for his comments although Senator Webb, Senator Reid, Senator Harkin, Rep. Pallone, Rep. Udall and General Wesley Clark have.

After that big MoveOn kerfuffle about not "insulting the troops" not one single Republican Senator has signed on to the Reid Letter to Clear Channel against Limbaugh's comments. NOT ONE. Y'know with Rush being so misunderstood all all...

Since Rudy Guinliani thought it was perfectly fine to attack Hilliary Clinton for Not Attacking Move On, clearly they must think it's perfectly ok to accuse soldiers of being fake and phony liars (especially if they happen to support Democrats or simply oppose Republican positions or gasp - oppose our current war strategy). I mean c'mon, Democrats are "traitors" by definition right? Just ask Ann Coulter.

We can't like, have soldiers who think for themselves! How can we properly implement a Myanmar-styled military junta under the guise of a never-ending state of perpetual emergency and suppress all dissent and opposition to the current regime that way?

In their world the "real soldiers" are the ones willing to used as cannon fodder in a failed war, using a failed strategy with no questions asked. They fight without proper gear, in unarmed vehicles, have to drink contaminated water and then if they happen to be wounded instead of killed - have to live in rat infested squalor while government contractors from KBR to Blackwater cash-in to the tune of Billions.

They're nothing more than Sheeple ready for the slaughter.

In the real world, real soldiers who are certainly willing to fight and die for our rights when required, like those 20 Generals, like Jack Murtha, John Kerry, those seven members of the 82nd Airborne, Jon Soltz, Brian McGough and literally a million others have absolutely every right to question why their being asked to make these sacrifices, and every right - no, a RESPONSIBLITY - to say so when they think that we're going the wrong way.

And that's exactly why the right-wing hates our troops. Because all of them just might not be the unthinking lemming zombie jack-booted neo-facists that they might dream for...

...some of them, those willing to speak Truth to Power, are True American Heroes.

Vyan

Bush Vetoes SCHIP

From Thinkprogress.

President Bush’s veto of an SCHIP expansion was only the fourth veto of his presidency. AP reports that the White House “sought as little attention as possible, with the president wielding his veto behind closed doors without any fanfare or news coverage.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that they have not yet scheduled a date for an override vote, but it could be “next week” or “the week after.”

cnnschip.jpg

UPDATE: Families USA has released a “Bush v. kids” SCHIP ad. Take a look:

Chris Matthews Clowned on Daily Show



Stewart: I'm not trashing your book, I'm trashing your philosophy of life.

Vyan

Monday, October 1

Pelosi has not "Thrown in the Towel"

In today's rec'd diary by buhdydharma the arguement is put forward that Nancy Pelosi has completely given up on her promise to End the Iraq War in a recent interview with Wolf Blitzer.



In the midst of Wolf's talking points Pelosi lays out the sad reality that Republicans have now taken ownership of this war along with President Bush by obstructing Democratic attempts to end it.

As pointed out in the diary Pelosi hasn't given up...

BLITZER: So, are you telling your angry base out there in the Democratic Party that wants to see this war over with, wants to see the U.S. troops home, that you, as speaker, there's nothing you can do, you have to just throw your hands up and say...

PELOSI: No. I didn't say that at all.

BLITZER: ... given the legislative problems in the Senate and the president's stubborn refusal to back down, that there's nothing that you can do?

PELOSI: How could you have ever gotten that impression?

BLITZER: All right, well, tell us...

PELOSI: What I have said, for those who pay attention, is that we will hold this administration accountable time and time again for the conduct of this war in Iraq.


Buhdydharma argues that they she doesn't say that they will impeach to end the war- whereas I've long argued that we aren't ready to impeach yet. (Why not? Because we'd lose!)

Blitzer quotes John Edwards claim that Congress can simply continue to send Redeployment Legislation to the President, Pelosi explains why this isn't possible due to Republican Obstruction.

BLITZER: But you could in the House of Representatives use your power of the purse, the money, to stop funding the war if you really wanted to.

PELOSI: I wish the speaker had all the power you just describe. I certainly could do that. That doesn't bar the minority from bringing up a funding resolution. They have their parliamentary prerogative as well.


It's absolutely true that the House could create a bill that flat-out defunded the war or to refuse to send any bill that does fund the war in the same way that in 1995 Newt Gingrich refused to allow any bills on the House floor that didn't simultaneous include massive tax cuts for the rich and a date-certain balanced budget by 2002.

President Clinton's proposed budget for that year didn't meet that criteria as wasn't voted on, although some Blue Dog Democrats did come up with their own budget ideas and managed to get them through John Kascich budget committee.

The main difference today is that with it pretty much established that Bush will veto any date-certain resolutions on Iraq redeployment (just as Clinton did on a date-certain balanced budget) there are a great many Democrats who just might vote for a Republican measure that strips away any time-tables and benchmarks for redeployment and let it pass.

In short Pelosi refusing to bring up the bill isn't the end of the issue.

Pelosi: So what we have done is to send bills that limit the mission, to limit the time there, to redeploy the troops. And last week, I believe, was a turning point in the congressional debate on Iraq. I think we changed it going in by putting a bill on the president's desk.

Since May until now, we haven't been able to put something on the president's desk.

BLITZER: Because of the Senate. That's what you're saying.

PELOSI: Because of the Senate. The 60 votes.


Let's focus in on this a second. Since the Veto the Republicans have established a standing filibuster of any redeployment or timetable bills in the Senate. Edward suggestion that they keep sending the "same bill" to the President simply isn't possible if those bill can't get to the Senate floor without passing the 60 vote filibuster threshold.

But last week we were really optimistic that the Senate would at least support the readiness of our troops. The Webb resolution, Webb amendment to the defense bill was a resolution that said the guidelines of the Defense Department, the same amount of time in war, you have the same amount of time at home to regroup, to retrain, to recover, to be with your family.

BLITZER: It didn't have enough votes.

PELOSI: When they rejected that -- it had enough votes to pass and in a bipartisan...

BLITZER: But not to beat a filibuster.

PELOSI: But it did not have enough votes to be heard, to be heard so that a majority, a bipartisan majority of the Senate could have sent this to the president's desk. We have been trying to reach out, as the American people want us to do, in a bipartisan way, to build a bipartisan consensus to redeploy the troops out of Iraq safely and soon.

BLITZER: You know your base is really frustrated. Really angry...

PELOSI: I'm frustrated myself.


In order to resolve this many people including Edwards and Kucinich are suggesting a completely unworkable option. But just for a second let's assume that the Democrats could realistically take the position that they won't send any more funding bills to the President until he agrees he'll sign some type of serious redeployment and refocus of our mission in Iraq.

Eventually the existing funding bills will run out and we'll be right back into the same game of Governmental Chicken that the Gingrich Congress was forced to play with President Clinton.

You guys remember who won that fight?

It wasn't the Congress.

There is no evidence - none - that repeating the confrontation that shutdown almost the entire U.S. government twice will end any differently this time than it did last time - and this time were in the midst of a war where cutting off funding for several weeks might literally mean cutting off supply lines and support services for our troops.

You think KBR is gonna work for free? Blackwater? Triple Canopy?

Democrats have already fought tooth and nail to get our troops proper equipment, uparmored Humvees and helmets only to now turn around and say sorry - we can't be bother to make sure any of that stuff actually gets delivered while we have a pissing contest with the President.

Yeah, that'll fly.

There is the possibility we might be able to pin the blame for this on President and Republicans, but again that strategy didn't work so well for Gingrich did it?

Some have already argued with this interpretation of things after I posted it as a comment:

Irrelevant comparison to Gingrich shutdown. (2+ / 0-)

And frankly, I'm sick of people making it. Gingrich shut down the government because he wanted to cut funding to Social Security, a popular program. How is shutting down the government (if that is indeed what it comes to) because you want to cut funding to an unpopular program, i.e., a war that two-thirds of the American people hate, an equivalent?


The popularity of the issue isn't at question, it's a question of willpower between the Congress and the President. Gingrich was certain Clinton would fold. He didn't. Does anyone think Bush is gonna fold?

I don't.

He's already vetoed against Stem Cell research that will help real people while on the theory that phantom snowflake people might be harmed twice. He vetoed the timetable bill and he's about to veto health care for children on the argument that we can't afford it while we're in the middle of spending trillions to kill people in Iraq!?!

You think he's gonna blink if our soldiers have to suffer the brunt of his stubborness and go without funding for a few weeks? Not even.


As to your second point, if there is a standing filibuster (whatever that is) in the Senate against any timetable/redeployment bills, the correct response is not to cave in to the minority when two-thirds of the American people are on your side. The correct response -- if you are sincerely against this war, which I doubt Democrats are -- is to counter with a standing filibuster against any bills without a timetable/redeployment component..



Which means that no bills at all will reach the President's desk (not even the fairly modest Webb dwell time amendment) and we're back into the mexican standoff scenario that Gingrich already attempted and failed at. Let me repeat - Twice!

Now, as to the arguement that Congress is otherwise "doing nothing" as Blizter alleges.

BLITZER: But holding the president accountable, I just want you to explain, what does that mean? Besides just complaining and holding hearings? Specifically, is there anything else you can do?

PELOSI: Well, holding hearings and the oversight that we have on the corruption in contracting in Iraq, the hearings that we're holding and the harm to the readiness of our troops that the president is causing with his obstinance in this war in Iraq.


Blitzer seems ignorant to the fact that Democratic pressure has already taken a dozen scalps from former DOJ and Whitehouse personell including Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling, Tim Griffin, Susan Ralston, Sara Taylor, Paul McNulty, Brad Schlozman, and the Fredo-of-Darkness himself - Alberto Gonzales.

Harriet Miers and Karl Rove are on the verge of Contempt of Congress charges - which could mean being jailed in the Capital until they answer questions on the DOJ purge.

Those are all accomplishments we should be proud of seem to be much more than just a bunch of "complaints and hearings." to me.

To all of this I've heard the response that the Democrats need to make a symbolic gesture of at least forcing Republicans to actually go through with the filibuster in the Senate over troop reductions. Now Bush has already - finally - agreed to troop reductions, but we need to make the Republicans go through the process of actually filibustering against not giving the troop anything - unless we have a date-certain timetable for bringing them all home, even though we all know damn well that the filibuster has practically no chance what-so-ever of being broken.

That my friends, is called one thing : playing politics with the troops.

How many troops are we willing to risk and possibly lose in order to save the troops?

There's a reason why it was abhorrent when the Republicans pulled this kind of grand-stand stunt over Terry Schiavo and over the Medicare Drug Bill and over the Bankruptcy Bill. That kind of crap is why we kicked their assses out! So us our improvement simply to have our own bunch of hardheaded left-wing pitbulls ready to destroy our country and use our own troops as hostages simply to have our own way on an issue?

No, that's not what we voted for, at least it's not what I voted for.

I know the fact that we've been outflanked, so far, is a bummer. I know that the options we have left aren't neccesarily glamourous, dramatic or sexy, but if we can't take the direct route of redeployment and defunding (and we can't anymore) you have to use a war of attrition at hit them where they're weakest. For example : Dive into the war contracting and rip Blackwater a new one.

Attacking the warprofiteers and contractors is a good strategy IMO, it completely undermines the powerbase that is pushing this war forward in order to line thown pockets with the coins soaked in American and Iraqi blood.

The President has now called for the begining of redeployment, bogus though they may be, the momentum has shifted our our favor - we simply need to do all we can to responsibly accelerate that process.

But we also have to recognize that we will have troops in Iraq at the start, and possibly even the end, of the next Presidency, even if it's a Democrat. The goal at this point needs to be laying the groundwork with a Diplomatic Surge and working with those in the region to make that footprint as small as possible.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy with the sitation - I just think that what so many people are demanding of Pelosi and Reid are very bad ideas which in the end still won't bring the troops home any faster.

I know many disagree, and that's fine. We all have the same goal, the question is how to get there rationally.

Vyan

Fox Cuts Mic of Family Member of Slain Blackwater Guard

After first making the excuse that Blackwater members who killed 11 civilian Iraqis earlier this month were suffering from the Fog of War when they fired without provocation they then talked to the family of those Blackwater guards who were killed in Fallujah back in 2003.



But instead of discussing the loss of their family member, Fox accuses them of trying for a money grab with a lawsuit "for millions". Grief is turned into Greed, and the family in incensed at the callousness.

Cavuto makes the SCHIP Veto an Immigration Issue

Fux News Neal Cavuto on the impending SCHIP veto claiming that the bipartisan bill is wrong because it might provide healthcare benefits for the children of illegal immigtants. Watch Video



It's goes along as it usual does, one talking head after another repeating one talking point after another.
  • Some kids who've been brought to the U.S. illegally would be covered.
  • SCHIP is a back door to give the government controlled of healthcare.
  • It's a trojan house toward socialized medicine
  • Universal Healthcare would hurt the country.
  • $83,000 is ridiculously high limit to provide children healthcare

Except that they happen to let one Fauxmacrat Strategist Regina Calcaterra in the studio without first giving her the script which says (Though shalt not make a salient point before the Lord and Master Cavuto!)

Oops.

She managed to point out that her own personal experience in foster care would have left her an her siblings dead if they didn't have access to healthcare via Medicaid. She also pointed out that the President said this to the UN General Assembly this past Tuesday.

When millions of children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we're not doing our duty in the world.

Malaria is another common killer. In some countries, malaria takes as many lives as HIV/AIDS -- the vast majority of them children under the age of five years old. Every one of these deaths is unnecessary, because the disease is preventable and treatable. The world knows what it takes to stop malaria -- bed nets and indoor spraying and medicine to treat the disease. Two years ago, America launched a $1.2 billion malaria initiative. Other nations and the private sector are making vital contributions, as well. I call on every member state to maintain its focus, find new ways to join this cause, and bring us closer to the day when malaria deaths are no more.
So while we're spending $1.2 billion to save children suffering from malaria around the world we can't do the same for children in our own country who don't have healthcare?

Of course Cavuto cut her off in mid-sentence and started drilling in:
  • Were you an illegal at the time? (No)
  • We don't have unlimited resources do we?
  • Good intentions also have a price?
  • We have a tough enough time taking care of those that are from here, right?
  • And there's a limit on how much we can afford to spend?
Interesting that no one on the right brings up these issues when we're discussing the $190 billion Iraq supplemental.

One other neo-commenter claims that children aren't dying because they can always go the "emergency room" - as if no one ever arrives too late, or that there's no such thing as preventative medicine which would help keep a cold from turning into pneumonia at a far lower cost than treating a chronic disease or condition. And it's not like people die in emergency rooms, because actually they do.

LOS ANGELES - A woman who lay bleeding on the emergency room floor of a troubled inner-city hospital died after 911 dispatchers refused to contact paramedics or an ambulance to take her to another facility, newly released tapes of the emergency calls reveal.

In the recordings of two 911 calls that day, first obtained by the Los Angeles Times under a California Public Records Act request, callers pleaded for help for Rodriguez but were referred to hospital staff instead.

“I’m in the emergency room. My wife is dying and the nurses don’t want to help her out,” Rodriguez’s boyfriend, Jose Prado, is heard saying in Spanish through an interpreter on the tapes.

“What’s wrong with her?” a female dispatcher asked.

“She’s vomiting blood,” Prado said.

“OK, and why aren’t they helping her?” the dispatcher asked.

‘They’re just watching her’
“They’re watching her there and they’re not doing anything. They’re just watching her,” Prado said.

The dispatcher told Prado to contact a doctor and then said paramedics wouldn’t pick her up because she was already in a hospital. She later told him to contact county police officers at a security desk.

His wife was on the floor bleeding from the mouth for 45 minutes and instead of helping her - the emergency room workers just ignored her. The janitor was cleaning the floor around her and left here there, the 911 Operator scolded her husband for calling since they were already in the emergency room, then called security on him. The police arrived and then arrested the unconscious woman for a parole violation. She died in police custody of a perforated bowel as they were taking her away to the county lockup.

That is the way that immigrants get treated at the emergency room in America. This is the way that Republicans feel is the way to treat your kids if you can't afford healthcare.

Vyan

Sunday, September 30

Bill Kristol: Bush assault on Children 'Is a Good Thing!"

Bush's impending Veto of the SCHIP bill which would cover an additional 4 Million more children seems to have really made Republicans happy. Almost giddy even. They really like the idea of denying health benefits to children, arguing that it shows that they are "fiscally responsible" and remain opponents to "big government."

(Opposed to "Big Government" except when it comes to killing and destruction via the Iraq War and the massive failure that is Homeland Security and FEMA that is...)

On Fox News Sunday Bill Kristol stated "I'm happy that the President is willing to do something bad for the kids..."

Are you now?

Kristol's core argument was that the Bipartisan SCHIP bill which has passed both the House and Senate represents a massive explosion of this health care "entitlement". This he feels is good thing for Republicans to argue against, and while they're at it he really didn't like how Democrats were using this situation to "exploit" children. Tsk. For shame.

KRISTOL: How pathetic is that, a twelve year-old kid giving the radio address? Nancy Pelosi "praying for the President"? You really wonder how stupid they think the American people are?

This was to cover children between 100% and 200% of poverty. Democrats are now expanding it up to 300% There are two ways, if you think you need to help people between 200% and 300% of the poverty line - you can do it two ways, you can expand government insurance or make it easier for people to by private insurance. Republicans want to make it easier, through the tax code, to by private insurance - Democrats want to expand government insurance.

To his credit Juan Williams (taking a break from his usual role as Bill O'Reilly's Favorite House Negro Black Guy Willing to Pander and Shill for the Right-Wing) pushed back hard on this point.

WILLIAMS: I’m surprised to hear you say, "Oh, how dare you use a child." What do Republicans do except use soldiers and everything else to bolster their arguments.

KRISTOL: Soldiers aren’t children.

WILLIAMS: Oh come on. Yeah, use uniforms and everything else. And in fact, put on — politicians get in uniforms and get on ships to talk about "missions accomplished." C’mon.

Williams is still a Spineless Faux News Token Democrat Doormat, but he does put up a good front sometimes doesn't he?

Here's a little factoid that the Right Wing doesn't want anyone to know - Private Health Insurance in America is far more expensive than any other health care in the world.

This graphic (which I orginally posted on "Michael Moore vs Sanjay Gupta: Part II") is taken from the latest UN Health Care Costs Per Capita report (pdf) on the Human Development Index (Top 10 Rankings for best quality of life standards by country).

Although the U.S. only ranks at number 8 on the Human Developement Index, the private portion of it's health care costs are literally through the roof, creating an overall cost for health care that is nearly twice that of every other industrialized nation.

With this in mind we can go back to Bill Kristol's claims that Democrats want to expand public health care so that people who are currently uninsured can find care and contrast it with Republicans who simply want to continue to line the overflowing pockets of the private health care providers.

This reality provides the answer to the question that Kristol dares not pose : How in the world is it possible that people earning $83,000 still can't afford health insurance for their children? His suggestion of tax incentives doesn't even address why the hell it costs so much, does it? The problem is that health care in this country is rationed, even the most elementary understanding of the economics of supply and demand tell us that when you have a constant and steady demand for a service the only way to increase profits is to choke off access to the supply.

Why is our private health insurance so expensive? Because it can be as long as the access and supply is limited. Mass production drives prices down, exclusivity keeps them high.

Beyond expanding access to public care, we also need to address the rabid profit incentives within the private health care industry to falsely deny claims, and create more and more barriers to care such as "pre-existing condition" clauses. It's not that turning a profit is wrong, it's just that doing it literally on the backs of the dying and suffering, particularly children, is just plain obscene and people like Kristol damn well know it.

They just don't care because Money Means All to them.

In addition, Factcheck.org has done an extensive debunk of the Bush Administration claims that the proposed expansion of SCHIP would provide health care for families earning as much as $83,000 a year.

President Bush gave a false description of proposed legislation to expand the 10-year-old federal program to provide health insurance for children in low-income working families.

He said it "would result" in covering children in families with incomes up to $83,000 per year, which isn't true. The Urban Institute estimated that 70 percent of children who would gain coverage are in families earning half that amount, and the bill contains no requirement for setting income eligibility caps any higher than what's in the current law. (The compromise bill that was released a few days after Bush's press conference does rescind an administration effort to block New York state from increasing its eligibility cap to that level.)

He also said the program was "meant to help poor children," when in fact Congress stated that it was meant to expand insurance coverage beyond the poor and to cover millions of "low-income" children who were well above the poverty line. Under current law most states cover children at twice or even three times the official poverty level.

Kristols claim that the Democratic expansion of SCHIP would provide health care for children at 300% poverty is bogus - the current law already provides for this depending on the state.

Media Matters also found that according to the CBO Bush's counter proposal to only increase SCHIP funding by $5 billion over the next five years would actually result in a $9 billion net reduction in funding and keep nearly 10 million children off the system.

So again we hear the mantra that "socialized medicine is bad", yet somehow throwing children either out of the health care system entirely, or forcing them to pay private insurance through the nose (using tax payer subsidies/incentives) is somehow an improvement? It remains amazing to me how this Administration can smile and giggle as they literally yank the health care from the mouths of babes - yet they do.

It's not the Democrats that are making them appear heartless, cruel and callous - they do a fine job of that all on their own.

Vyan