Verschärfte Vernehmung: Enhanced Integrrogation

Andrew Sullivan:

Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.


Using police to break up protest...

Chavez shows his true colors. Troops fire upon protesters in Venezuela. 2 students injured by rubber bullets. 20 treated for gas inhalation.

Putin's thugs squash Gay Rights protest. 31 arrested.

...and right here at home earlier this month: LA PD break up an immigration rights protest with rubber bullets and batons. 20 hurt, including several journalists covering the event.

Hell hath no wrath like that of a henchman scorned...

Irony: Hamas warns journalists against dissent.

It seems there is were a few Palestinian journalists who don't like the armed faction of Hamas firing rockets at the Isralies without the consensus of the government. Hamas, the ones doing the firing, says: If you criticize us, you are helping the enemy.

At the same time, Hugo Chavez just can't keep his mitts off of the last remaining television station in Venezuela.

Sound familiar? Thugs don't like it when the media fills it's natural role: Speaking truth to power.


Palast and RFK talk about elections, the media and education

Following up my earlier post, these are two incredible speeches. The first is by Greg Palast who explains some of his discoveries regarding how Republicans are engaging in very sophisticated voter suppression techniques to steal elections.

Oh by the way, he has 500 of Rove's lost emails. 70 of those emails refer to "caging" operations, in which letters are sent, first class and do not forward, in order. If the letter comes back, the vote associated with that name is challenged. Problem: Most of the recipients are Black, Hispanic or Native American. Some of those challenged were soldiers using their home addresses to vote absentee while they were deployed. 3.5 million votes were dismissed in 2004 through republican-led challenges received in this manner. It's a felony to do this, incidentally. Palast has the lists.

The next speech is by Robert Kennedy, who very clearly explains the consequences of the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, the importance of public education and why the increasing influence of corporations of the US government is dangerous in the extreme for our democracy.

The combined speeches last about an hour. It's worth it.

The real activities of the Gonzales DOJ: Election Fraud

Read Greg Palast's thoughts on the Goodlings testimony.


Breaking: It helps to be a republican in the DOJ

Goodling broke the law when she made her hires.


Fmr. Chief of CIA Osama Unit: Why They Attack Us

This is a letter from Michael F. Scheuer, former Chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit, to the editor of Antiwar.com, regarding Congressman Ron Paul’s exchange with Rudy Giuliani about why the al Qaeda network has targeted the United States.

It is revealing, to say the least.


Hitchens remembers Falwell

Hitchens rather acerbic eulogy to Jerry Falwell.

For the most part, I agree with him.

Ron Paul v. the rest of the quacking repubs...

I kind of like this guy...


Gonazles and Card: Grimm Reapers

Here's the thing: When Ashcroft isn't crazy enough for you, your wheels are off the tracks entirely. I never thought I'd say this - ever - but, "Well done, Ashcroft."

Gonzales and Card try to mug Ashcroft in his hospital bed to try to get him to approve illegal domestic spying. Ashcroft refused:

White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., were on their way to the hospital to persuade Ashcroft to reauthorize Bush's domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.

In vivid testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Comey said he alerted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and raced, sirens blaring, to join Ashcroft in his hospital room, arriving minutes before Gonzales and Card. Ashcroft, summoning the strength to lift his head and speak, refused to sign the papers they had brought. Gonzales and Card, who had never acknowledged Comey's presence in the room, turned and left.

Naturally, the guy they sent to break the law is now in charge of national law enforcement.


One half-hour of pain

The 1/2 hour New Hour, FOX's answer to the Daily Show continues to be spectacularly bad.

Honestly, I thought that thing was long gone. The weirdest thing about it is how they have people who aren't professional comedians doing the bits. Sean Hannity? Laura Ingraham? What on earth makes them think that political commentators spouting the same BS they normally spout would be any funnier than it normally is? It's just bizarre.

Need campaign advice? Hire the pizza guy.

This guys makes more sense than about 90% of the pundits and spin doctors from either side:

Hey: What are you waiting for?

With regards to impeaching Bush, I couldn't agree more.

His signing statements alone warrant it. And that's the smallest of his offenses.

Washpo: Rove writes hit list.

The Washpo continues to break more information about the Gonazales DOJ. The latest: Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals.

And guess who made up the bulk of the hit list? Rove.

It's fascinating that there is political will to gin up outrage at "voter fraud" of the type these firings revolve around, especially when there is near unanimous agreement by more neutral observers that there is virtually no polling place fraud. On the other hand, while Rove was busy striking matches to create smoke around non-existent "fraud," Republicans were busy ripping off democracy on a grand scale. I suppose it would be way too much to simply ask the highest law enforcement agency in the land to simply follow the evidence.


Does the DIGG community toss conservative stories in the "ghetto" the same way the Nazies tossed the Jews in the ghetto in WWII Warsaw?

Short answer: No. Long answer:

I got into a little online tiff over at DIGG today about whether or not DIGG's conservatives are oppressed in the same way the Jews were in Hitler's Germany. It started when a Digg user, "Analyze," submitted this little gem from his blog, in which he mewls that

Being a Conservative on Digg is analogous to living in the Warsaw ghettos of Nazi Germany.

He also whined that stories from a site called Little Green Footballs, one of the most active communities of mindless authoritarianism on the web, get consistently dugg down. I read his post, thought it was inane, and dashed off the following comment:

"Anybody gets dugg down for posting inaccurate claptrap -- which is most of the conservative voice in the media these days. The LGF view of the world is completely uncritical, ideological and false. The truth is neither conservative nor liberal. It simply is. Instead of blaming all the people who dugg down your stories down in mewling blog posts, why not spend your energy re-examining your simplistic world view?"

Then I forgot about it. Then a little comment spat erupted. A tiny skirmish on the ideological front. The short discussion quickly turned even more preposterous. Here's a couple of out takes from the comment thread from Analyze and another user named Web2Point0:

"This article is very much to the point, especially considering an ominous pattern that I have observed on Digg. I have noticed that articles that defend or speak positively about the Jewish people, the Jewish faith, or the State of Israel, are especially targeted for ugly ranting comments and rapid burial. The same is true of articles by Jewish authors with a conservative viewpoint, such as Debbie Schlussel.

As I have mentioned elsewher(sic), another category of articles that are buried instantly are those that might alert the public to the dangers of jihadism.

The activities of Digg's bury brigade are the electronic equivalent of the Nazi book burnings. I think it was Heinrich Heine who warned that if books are being burned, then people will be burned next. And so it was."


By the way, I myself have noticed an appalling amount of Jew-bashing and Israel-bashing on Kos and other leftist sites, and I can't help drawing the connection that the fans of
those sites on Digg tend to be the same ones who openly brag about burying conservative stories.


Instead of calling the stories you don't like "inaccurate claptrap" - why don't you get your facts and logic into a comment and make an honest attempt to refute whatever it is you don't agree with?

If you find it impossible to do that, then that means YOU are the one who is mistaken about the facts, and YOU need to re-examine your own negative emotional reactions to these articles.

Well. Well! It isn't every day you get Little Green Footballs, Nazis, Book Burnings, Jew Baiting, Social Software and Debbie Schlussel in one meaty package. So I decided to respond.

First, a little explanation. DIGG is a social news site in which users vote, or "Digg," the stories they would like to see on the front page. Alternatively, users may "Bury" a story they do not like for any reason. What the Analyze, and the other conservatives are complaining about is that their "conservative" submissions tend to get quickly buried, while "liberal" submissions get quickly raised to the top. With that in mind, let's argue.

First, there is only one central set of facts in Analyze's post. The author's submissions, which he claims are "conservatively themed," have x number of diggs and x number of buries. We can look this up. It's a fact. This, he posits as general proof that so-called "conservatively themed" stories are rejected by Digg users, prima facie. In fact, he uses the Digg Community's rejection of his analysis of the trend as evidence of his conclusion.

This is two logical fallacies for the price of one. The first, and most troublesome to his argument is called "Post hoc ergo propter hoc," or "After this, therefore because of this." You are falsely attributing a causal relationship between your political ideology and the rejection of specific stories by the Digg community. Your thinking completely ignores the content of those stories- clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound empirical evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth and fairness. It's like saying: The USA was attacked on 9.11. The USA invaded Iraq. Therefore, Iraq was responsible for 9.11. Who on earth would believe that? Oh, wait...

Then, Analyze makes things worse by begging the question. Rejection of his story making the assertion that the stories he submits will get rejected for being conservative is not proof that anybody rejects anything for being conservative. Though Begging the question is an informal logical fallacy, it is pillar of the kind of magical thinking that led this nation to war. Our intelligence is infallible. How do you know? I have an intelligence report that says so.

And then we get to the real prize at the bottom of the cracker jack box. It is beyond ironic that "conservative" commenters on the thread put forward allegations of antisemitism and "jew-bashing" while comparing their experience on a website to the holocaust. Yet, I cannot detect a single trace of humor in their statements. Can you?

In that context, untangling the assertion that the terminally fact-challenged and bigoted commentator Debbie Schlussel gets rejected because she's Jewish is likely to induce seizures. Here is a woman whose first response when hearing that the shooter at Virginia Tech was an Asian, was to claim that a "Paki was likely responsible", then, when learning the truth, saying," "Even if it does not turn out that the shooter is Muslim, this is a demonstration to Muslim jihadists all over that it is extremely easy to shoot and kill multiple American college students," and then when she felt the heat from the public for her revolting behavior, her response was to call her critics Nazisand take down her assertions without retracting them. So Debbie Schlussel gets dugg down. Why? Because she's a shallow, jingoistic creep who can't hear the truth over the sound of her own voice.

And Analyze gets dugg down, too. He gets relegated to the basement, not because of any label, but because he's convinced that his opinions are facts and that not accepting them as such is evidence of bias. He gets Dugg down because he submits "stories" that assert

"It is interesting that liberals are quick to espouse free speech and minority rights but when given the power, they become like Nazi Germany."

Now, normally, I would Digg Analyze down to the basement. Normally, I would say, "Shoo fly" and get on with it. But really, I think I have to re-evaluate. This kind of thinking deserves its own special day on the bozo throne. I am going to Digg this thread up. Most really corrosive belief systems die in the sunlight. Maybe someday, with enough exposure, the dawn will break over your head, Analyze, and you will realize that no, having your story buried on Digg isn't the same thing as being quarantined, starved and beaten for years in a Nazi ghetto. It's not the same thing at all.

Scott Ritter - "We stand for so much more."

Scott Ritter has written a very thoughtful, powerful response to those who maintain that speaking out against the war is harmful to the troops and the country. It's a personal, direct, must read.

Scandal sheet

Slate has put together a nice definitive primer on Bush Scandals. At 24 and counting, it's the tip of the iceberg.

If we the people were to impeach, it would be lancing a boil.

whole lotta religion collision

I just finished John Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven so maybe I am a little, teensy bit sensitive to religious kooks at the moment. It looks to me like Satan is perched on the tip of every politician's tongue. God is talking to well, God knows who. He must be whispering lines straight from wonderland. Some really funny stuff is coming out of the mouths of his representatives here on earth.

Al Sharpton kicked things off by telling Mitty that only true believers will win the race.

Then, Bill Keller, Florida Preacher and host of Live Prayer says a vote for Romney is a vote for Satan.

Well, that would be odd, since apparently Satan is busy making it possible for illegal aliens to stream into the United States. At least that's how one Utah Republican saw it as he proposed the beautifully composed resolution, Resolution opposing Satan’s plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion.


Creation Museum: A monument to the absurd

This is simply the most fascinating read ever. It's the website for the new $25 million, 60,000 sq. ft., Creation Museum located near Cincinnati, Ohio.

Here are some titles to some wonderful articles:

Dinosaurs and the Bible The T-Rex ate coconuts until Adam sinned, then developed a taste for chicken.

A new cosmology: solution to the starlight travel time problem During Creation Week, clocks on earth ran slower than clocks in the cosmos.

And my personal favorite:

How are Communism and Nazism based upon evolutionary thinking? How Darwin evolved in to Hitler. It's got a sweet little time line.


Gannon back at the White House

Can someone tell me what Jeff Gannon (yes that one) is doing back at the White House?.

Oh! That's right. He's leading the National Day of Prayer on the White House lawn. Of all the qualities you can assign to the Bush Administration - incompetent, freedom hating, corrupt, whatever, the greatest of these is simply this: They are really, really weird.

I mean, do they really think that the former gay escort they hired to lob softball questions to cornered spokespeople is the absolute best person they could find to host the National Day of Prayer service on the White House lawn?


Bill O a poster boy for propaganda

Content analysis of O'Reilly's rhetoric finds spin to be a 'factor' is a really fascinating look at Bill O.

Major finding: He uses name-calling more than once every seven seconds in 'Talking Points Memo'. More of the findings:

* Fear was used in more than half (52.4 percent) of the commentaries, and O'Reilly almost never offered a resolution to the threat. For example, in a commentary on "left-wing" media unfairly criticizing Attorney Gen. Alberto Gonzales for his role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, O'Reilly considered this an example of America "slowly losing freedom and core values," and added, "So what can be done? Unfortunately, not much."
* The researchers identified 22 groups of people that O'Reilly referenced in his commentaries, and while all 22 were described by O'Reilly as bad at some point, the people and groups most frequently labeled bad were the political left -- Americans as a group and the media (except those media considered by O'Reilly to be on the right).
* Left-leaning media (21.6 percent) made up the largest portion of bad people/groups, and media without a clear political leaning was the second largest (12.2 percent). When it came to evil people and groups, illegal aliens (26.8 percent) and terrorists (21.4 percent) were the largest groups.
* O'Reilly never presented the political left, politicians/government officials not associated with a political party, left-leaning media, illegal aliens, criminals and terrorists as victims. "Thus, politicians and media, particularly of the left-leaning persuasion, are in the company of illegal aliens, criminals, terrorists -- never vulnerable to villainous forces and undeserving of empathy," the authors concluded.
* According to O'Reilly, victims are those who were unfairly judged (40.5 percent), hurt physically (25.3 percent), undermined when they should be supported (20.3 percent) and hurt by moral violations of others (10.1 percent). Americans, the U.S. military and the Bush administration were the top victims in the data set, accounting for 68.3 percent of all victims.
* One of O'Reilly's common responses to charges of bias is to come up with one or two examples of "proof" that he is fair to all groups. For example, in October 2005, Dallas Morning News columnist Macarena Hernandez accused O'Reilly of treating the southern border "as the birth of all American ills." O'Reilly responded by showing a video clip in which he had called Mexican workers "good people." He called for a boycott of the newspaper if it did not retract Hernandez' column.


Bush to American people: "I am a fuckwad"

Citing ‘Rigid’ Deadline, Bush Vetoes Iraq Bill

President Bush vetoed the Iraq-war spending bill this evening, calling it a blueprint for failure and defeat and intensifying a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Mr. Bush said the bill was unacceptable because it set “a rigid and artificial deadline” for American forces to withdraw from Iraq, in that it demands that they begin leaving by Oct. 1.

“It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing,” Mr. Bush said at the White House, where he vetoed the bill after the signatures of Democratic legislative leaders were barely dry.

The president said the bill would demoralize the Iraqis and send them and the world a terrible message: “America will not keep its commitments.”

Instead, President Bush is going to bleed us dry. Bleed us of money (on projects that are crumbling), bleed us of... blood, the blood of our soldiers. A never-ending commitment to continued failure in Iraq. Why bother putting any pressure on the Iraq government, or the training of their soldiers? Why bother having any measure of accountability or success? "Give it a chance to spiral into deeper chaos," Bush says. "For I am a fuckwad."

Bush talks of what makes sense to the enemy. Has he seen their appointment calendars? Is this two thousand year-old animosity, now in a state of civil war, holding off on carnage until we get out of the way? No. About 80% of insurgent attacks are targeted against coalition forces, and the Iraqi population suffers about 80% of all casualties. Who benefits from this tragic state of affairs?


President Bush, you are a blueprint for failure. You're on the wrong end of democracy, and the wrong end of history. You're fired.


Four years of Iraq by the numbers

Here's the report card on "progress" in Iraq. Happy 4th anniversary of "Mission Accomplished."
May 1, 2003Today
U.S. Troops Wounded54224,912
U.S. Troops Killed1393,351
Contractors Killed69916
Journalists and Media Assistants Killed11167
U.S. Forces in Iraq150,000146,000
Size of Iraqi Security Forces7,000-9,000334,300
Number of Insurgentsless than 5,000~70,000 (Sunni only)
Insurgent Attacks Per Day8148.9
Cost toU.S. Taxpayers$79 billion$421 billion
Approval of Bush’sHandling of Iraq75%24%
Percentage of Americans who Believe The Iraq War Was “Worth Fighting”70%34%
Bush’s Overall Job Approval71%32%