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Wednesday: Does anyone on the left possess a sense of self-preservation??

Al Qaeda bombs the embassy in Kenya, 1998

Oh, My, GOD, sometimes I want to slap the shit out of the people in the left  blogosphere who let their ideology do their thinking and can’t help posting idiotic drivel.  Thank goodness the left is so good at expressing its total lack of self-preservation in hyperbolic parody or the right would have to do it for them.  We spare them the extra effort and they file it away for future use.  The latest nonsense comes from madamab, who never lets an opportunity pass to jump on the bandwagon and express her self-righteous comaraderie with the soft and squishy.  I don’t mean to single her out because she is not the only hand-wringer who is feeling profound sadness and despair over the death of Osama bin Laden but she is exquisitely good at setting my teeth on edge:

Sorry folks, there is no activism today (oh, drat, and I was on the edge of my seat, eagerly anticipating more activism). I’m still processing my feelings about the shocking developments of last Sunday evening.

What I’ve ultimately settled upon, after my initial excitement has faded, is a feeling of despair (FEEElings, nothing more than FEEElings).

What has happened to my country? Didn’t we used to be proud of our Constitution? Didn’t we used to think we were exceptional not because we killed more people than anyone else (our troops are the best in the world! USA! USA!), but because we didn’t treat terrorists and criminals with the lawlessness they had shown to us? Wasn’t the Unabomber, Ted Kaczyinski, tried and convicted? Wasn’t the blind sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, tried and convictedafter he attempted to destroy the World Trade Center? Didn’t this due process make us all feel good after the murder and mayhem they perpetrated upon us? Didn’t our consciences tell us we had, indeed, obeyed our laws and lived in accordance with our own preference for justice over brutal Bronze Age morality?

No more. The Feelings Police have spoken. No “decent” person could possibly do anything but celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death. Bullying, swearing and shouting will be doled out to anyone who dares say otherwise. As usual on the Internets, the loudest, least reasonable voices prevail. And so, mindless expressions of unadulterated joy are the plat du jour. It’s revolting to me.

It’s a tragedy alright.  I suppose the next time someone flies two jets into the workplace of thousands of people, we should send them a sternly worded letter and make them sit in time out.

Once again, our brothers and sisters on the left have opened their minds so far that their brains have fallen out.  For the record, there are more than two possible responses to the death of bin Laden.  Yes, you don’t have to be either offensively euphoric or fashionably maudlin. The left used to believe that the Republicans’ tendency towards black/white thinking was stupid and laughable.  Now, it seems to have adopted that mindset.  Fortunately, it is possible to be unmoved in either direction while at the same time acknowledging that a bastard like bin Laden set himself up for a brutal ending at the hands of some country’s military and intelligence apparatus.  It didn’t have to be ours.  Bin Laden was an equal opportunity murderer. Kenya and Tanzania in the 90’s?  London?  Madrid?  Check out this list of Al Qaeda attacks.  bin Laden and his droogs have been very busy.  If WE didn’t eventually get him, someone else would have.

Anger and the desire for revenge are perfectly normal feelings responses to outrages as serious as the ones committed by Al Qaeda.   We can argue whether it would have been more *effective* to the demoralization of Al Qaeda to try bin Laden and then erase him from history by burying him alive in a mountain cell in Nevada but killing him became a legitimate option when he was more than happy to take the credit for planning and executing the death of thousands of other people.

Bin Laden was a nasty piece of work, madamab.  Dispatching him had almost nothing to do with our loss of liberties since 9/11.  We can attribute THAT to the authoritarian impulses of Bush, Cheney and the Republicans and the cowardice of the Democrats who allowed themselves to be bullied into acting rashly when they should have been using their heads.  I suspect they were watching too much TV.

If you want a balanced response to the death of bin Laden, read the response of someone who doesn’t have a TV and was able to process the information without someone telling her what position to take.

Now, can we stop wailing about the unfairness of it all to the poor, poor mass murderer and get back to what is important??  Like finding jobs for the unemployed?

Here’s a much more interesting and relevant post from Corrente on the ways in which women are getting stiffed in the job market.  Take it from me, this is the real tragedy.

In other news:

Democrats pick Senator from one of the most sparsely populated and conservative states in the nation to work on the budget with Republicans and are shocked, SHOCKED, when his proposals are more conservative than the White House’s.  From the HuffingtonPost (not exactly a progressive *media* outlet):

“The problem is the Republicans wouldn’t agree to anything. They just keep dragging it out,” the Democratic aide said referring to the Gang of Six talks.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said that Conrad gave no clear indication that the talks would result in a deal.

“He said that it was up and down, up and down, up and down. But I don’t know whether it was up or down the last time he talked to us,” said Cardin after being briefed by Conrad, who is retiring at the end of this session.

“I ask all the time,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) of the halting progress of the Gang of Six. “Every day is a different story. One day I hear, ‘It’s great, we’re going to get a deal.’ The next day, they’re not. So I don’t know. The answer is, I honestly don’t know.”

Democrats, yur doin’ it rong.  Here’s what’s supposed to happen: The Republicans propose some cruel and unusual punishment for the masses and cushy breaks for their friends and the *Democrats* say they won’t agree to it.  This is what Clinton did in 1996.  Gingrich took the government hostage and became very unpopular and whiny.  What is wrong with this current batch of Democrats?  Is it really the 2012 elections they are worried about where lots of Democratic Senators are in danger of losing their jobs?  Well, it’s a recession guys.  You can’t go wrong making the Republicans look bad.  Try harder.

In NJ, round trip to Manhattan from nearest station to my house- $28.50.  I love rail.  I’m a big supporter of public transportation in part because my grandfather was a bus driver.  But with the recent increase in NJTransit fares since Governor Christie took office (check out how he balanced the transit budget by $300bn, by reducing staff and shorting their 401K contributions.  Nice!), a trip to Manhattan and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Brook and me is out of the question.  If the cost were less, the inconvenience of taking the train, plus the transfer, plus buying a Metro Card for the subway might be an option.  But at more than $50 bucks, I might as well drive to Manhattan and park the car.  It’s funny how Christie couldn’t come up with the money to subsidize NJTransit but he can come up with a plan to salvage the plans of the developers of a white elephant mall called Xanadu.  I believe the amount we are handing over to developers is about the same amount we cut from the transit budget.

Well, we must have priorities.

And this from The Onion is just too funny: Pfizer Breaks Psychological Need to Always Seek FDA’s Approval.  Or it would be funny if the FDA weren’t always so effing negative all the time…

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Everyone Has Their Secrets

And Obama’s “State Secrets” are a real doozie. Glenn Greenwald covered Obama’s assasination program against Anwar Awlaki. Apparently Obama is sentencing him to death without a trial, without due process and without even convicting him of any crimes, invoking “State Secrets” as a reason, which means

not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate its legality.

This is so radical that even Bush supporter David Rivkin, one of the most far right, executive power loving lawyers in the country is disturbed.

The government’s increasing use of the state secrets doctrine to shield its actions from judicial review has been contentious. Some officials have argued that invoking it in the Awlaki matter, about which so much is already public, would risk a backlash. David Rivkin, a lawyer in the White House of President George H. W. Bush, echoed that concern.

“I’m a huge fan of executive power, but if someone came up to you and said the government wants to target you and you can’t even talk about it in court to try to stop it, that’s too harsh even for me,” he said.

And we thought Bush was scary?

Monday Morning News and Views: More Broken Promises

This morning I want to highlight the latest presidential broken promise: Obama’s failure to follow through on his executive order of January 22, 2009 to close Guantanamo. Last Thursday, the day before the promised closing date, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the White House still has no timetable for when the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will be closed, if ever.

This is an excellent essay by Stephen Handelman: The Guantanamo Conumdrum.

Civil liberties advocates warn the President’s failure to close the military prison, as promised, will lead to “grave consequences”

Will Guantánamo Bay ever close? On Jan. 22, 2009, President Barack Obama won worldwide praise when he signed an executive order pledging to close the controversial military prison “no later than one year from now.”

But on the eve of the anniversary of his promise last week, an anonymous “administration official” told The New York Times that up to 50 detainees would continue to be held at Guantánamo without trial for an indefinite period: they were, he explained, too difficult to prosecute, but too dangerous to release.

Last week, Dakinikat blogged about Scott Horton’s recent piece in Harpers about the “suicides” that were really murders. Andy Worthington, an activist and author of a book on the prisoners at Guantanamo also blogged about Horton’s article. Worthington writes that the knowledge of the cover-up of the murders of three prisoners

should lead to robust calls for an independent inquiry, but the problem may be that almost every branch of the government appears to be implicated in the cover-up that followed the deaths.

As Horton describes it, an official “suicide” narrative was soon established, and widely accepted by the media, if not by former prisoners and the dead men’s families. With extraordinary cynicism, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the commander at Guantánamo, not only declared the deaths “suicides,” but added, “I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” What was not mentioned were the rags stuffed into the prisoners’ mouths, even though this knowledge was widespread throughout the prison. Horton adds that when Col. Mike Bumgarner, the warden at Guantánamo, held a meeting the following morning, “the news had circulated through Camp America that three prisoners had committed suicide by swallowing rags.”

Truly, is there any hope for our country? Look how far down the road to fascism we have gone! In another piece, Obama’s Countdown to Failure on Guantanamo, Worthington writes:

Barring some frankly unattainable miracle, this will be the week that President Obama’s international credibility, regarding his promises to undo the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” detention policies, takes a nosedive.

The President began well, freezing the much-criticized Military Commissions trial system on his first day in office, and, on his second day, issuing executive orders requiring Guantánamo to be closed within a year, and upholding the absolute ban on torture that had been so cynically manipulated by the Bush administration.

and then he goes on to document the series of cowardly actions by the Obama administration that have led to this point. Will Obama ever do anything to change course from the Bush administration’s cynical policies? It doesn’t look that way. In fact, the latest plan is to hold 47 Guantanamo detainees indefinitely without trial. There were protests from human rights groups.

“If you close Guantanamo but leave individuals detained without charge or trial you’re just making a cosmetic change,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented several Guantanamo detainees in federal court cases, blasted the administration.

“Today was supposed to be the deadline by which President Obama would close Guantanamo. Now it will be the anniversary of the president’s decision to abandon our most fundamental constitutional principles,” the center said in a written statement.

Amnesty International USA chimed in with a stinging criticism.

“If the president accepts the DOJ task force recommendation to hold anyone indefinitely, this policy will not keep Americans safe; instead it will ensure that Guantanamo will continue to be al Qaeda’s top recruiting tool,” said Tom Parker, Amnesty’s policy director for counterterrorism.

I heard a rumor this morning that the WH is now backtracking on this, but I couldn’t find a link. It’s hard to see what they will be able to do at this point–especially as long as Obama wants to “look forward, not back” and continue using his Justice Department to protect Bush and Cheney from accountability for their war crimes. Continue reading

Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

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Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

Obama = Worse than Bush

Barack Obama in August, 2007:

Barack Obama today? Read it and weep, Conflucians. From Raw Story (h/t commenter iloveny)

President Barack Obama invoked “state secrets” to prevent a court from reviewing the legality of the National Security Agency’s warantless wiretapping program, moving late Friday to have a lawsuit that challenged the program dismissed.

The move — which holds that information surrounding the massive eavesdropping program should be kept from the public because of its sensitivity — follows an earlier decision in March to block handover of documents relating to the Bush Administration’s decision to spy on a charity. The arguments also mirror the Bush Administration’s efforts to dismiss an earlier suit against AT&T.

The Friday brief involves a lawsuit filed by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the NSA for the wiretapping program. The agency monitored the telephone calls and emails of thousands of people within the United States without a court’s approval in an effort to thwart terrorist attacks.

The Defendents in the suit the Obama Justice Department is trying to short circuit?

Vice President Dick Cheney, former Cheney chief of staff David Addington and former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

According to Glenn Greenwald,

the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.

In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad “state secrets” privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and — even if what they’re doing is blatantly illegal and they know it’s illegal — you are barred from suing them unless they “willfully disclose” to the public what they have learned.

Have you got that all you Obots who claimed Obama would restore Constitutional protections? Greenwald again:

Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ — using an absurdly broad rendition of “state secrets” to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity — are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.

At this point, I can’t say I’m surprised. Obama has already signaled he will follow Bush policies on continuing “extraordinary rendition” and keeping the torture programs secret. He’s handing over the entire treasury to the banks and wants to “fix” social security and medicare just like Bush planned to do. Exactly what was that “change” we were supposed to believe in? It’s a real crying shame that we couldn’t elect a Democrat in 2008. Exactly how would McCain/Palin have been worse?


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