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    • Review of “Descarte’s Error” by Antonio Damasio
      This book is a bit long in the tooth now, having been published in 95.  The role it suggests for emotion in the use of reason is, in generalities, no longer controversial. But it was a landmark book for me, when I read it, and it’s still relevant and worth reading. There’s been a LOT […]
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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

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Thursday Morning at The Confluence: Going to Carolina in My Mind

Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshire?

Here in the Boston area, you can hardly tell day from night anymore. The gray skies and rain have been with us day after day for more than a month. July 2, and it’s 57 degrees outside my house. I had to turn the furnace on for awhile last night! What the heck is going on with our weather?

The Eastern U.S. was expected to continue seeing severe storm development on Thursday from a slow-moving low pressure system hovering over the Great Lakes region.

Widespread scattered showers were to continue across the Northeast and New England, with moderate to heavy showers over New York.

A slow-moving low pressure system? I’ll say it’s slow-moving. It’s been hovering over us since May. Will we ever see the sun again? That’s what I want to know.

So what else is happening out there?
BostonRedSoxLogo
This time the Red Sox stole a win from the Orioles, rallying in the ninth inning for a 6-5 win.

One day after the team had left shards of dignity on the field at Camden Yards, their best-in-baseball bullpen obliterated by 10 runs in two innings, the Sox were down by four runs with three outs to go.

But Dustin Pedroia worked a walk. And, as Orioles manager Dave Trembley said afterward, “If you’re going to walk people, it’s not the time to do it in the ninth inning.’’

[….]

It spiraled, spurred on by an energizing two-run home run by Kevin Youkilis, and ended two innings later on a redemptive single by Lugo that capped off a 6-5 triumph in 11 innings that turned the night before on its head, turned the series around, and left the Sox with a celebration for the plane ride home.

And the Red Sox still lead the Yankees in the American League East by 2.5 games. All right! It sure doesn’t feel like summer, but at least the Red Sox are doing well.

Politics

Moving on from New England-centric news, in politics, Chris Cillizza has a lengthy wrap-up of how Al Franken finally won the Minnesota Senate seat from Norm Coleman. Apparently Franken had good lawyers and consultants, and he was smart to stay out of the limelight during his long legal battle.

Right wing blogs are still buzzing over the Helen Thomas-led mutiny of the White House press against the Obama administration’s worse-than-Nixon efforts to control public perceptions. That Robert Gibbs sure is a smarmy, arrogant SOB, isn’t he? Continue reading

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “It’s the President’s Justice Department.”

I’ve been waiting for the W.O.R.M, but so far nothing. In his daily press briefing today, Robert Gibbs responded to a question by Jake Tapper on the Justice Department’s brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):

Q Does the President stand by the legal brief that the Justice Department filed last week that argued in favor of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act?

MR. GIBBS: Well, Jake, as you know, the Justice Department is charged with upholding the law of the land, even though the President believes that that law should be repealed.

Q I understand that. But a lot of legal experts say that the brief didn’t have to be as comprehensive and make all the arguments that it made, such as comparing same-sex unions to incestuous ones in one controversial paragraph that’s upset a lot of the President’s supporters. Does the President stand by the content, the arguments made in that brief?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, it’s the President’s Justice Department. And again, we have the role of upholding the law of the land while the President has stated and will work with Congress to change that law.

In other words, yes, the President agrees with the argument that essentially draws an analogy between incest and same sex marriage–the same argument used by the Bush Justice Department! Continue reading