Friday, January 04, 2008

Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Andy Olmstead, a blogger at Obsidian Wings as well as for the Rocky Mountain News. Major Olmstead died from small arms fire in Iraq's Diyala province yesterday. He wrote a blog post to be released in the event of his death, which you can read here. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. His voice will be missed.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Times gets one right

Unfortunately, the Times could open almost all of their editorials these days with this same sentence: "There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country."

50 Loathsome People

The Beast tallies America's most loathsome people of 2007. Pretty funny, if you ignore how unfunny most of the winners are. Sample entry:
31. Dana Perino

Charges: In a nation weary of White House press secretaries who feign ignorance, the Bush administration took an innovative step this year, appointing one who genuinely doesn't know anything. No more lies, America -- Dana Perino really can't answer your questions, honest! This slightly comely, over-promoted office wench not only didn't know what the Cuban missile crisis or the Bay of Pigs even were; she actually thought it was a funny story to tell on NPR.

Exhibit A: "This is an issue where I'm sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this, but it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals."

Sentence: Sent back in time to '62; Strapped to bottom of U2 spy plane for extreme history lesson.

Did Bush Watch the Torture Tapes?

“President Bush has no present recollection of having seen the tapes.” That's a non-denial perjury dodge. Scott Horton speculates that Bush watched the torture videos personally, and they were destroyed after discussions with his top lawyers because they are evidence of obvious war crimes that he personally authorized and witnessed. Larry Johnson thinks so too, and wants to know what Bush was snacking on at the time.

Welcome to the Dark Side

Tom Engelhardt discusses How Bush Took Us to the Dark Side, and just how normalized the whole sick mess has become.
No charges, no lawyers, no judge. This is increasingly the norm of -- and a legacy of -- George Bush's world. In this way, the snarl at the borders melds with the screams of terror in cells worldwide. . . . Americans have, since September 2001, been "embedded," largely willingly, in a new lockdown universe defined by a general acceptance of widespread acts of torture and abuse, as well as of the right to kidnap (known as "extraordinary rendition"), and the creation and expansion of an offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice, all based on the principle that a human being is guilty unless proven (sometimes even if proven) innocent. What might originally have seemed like emergency measures in a moment of crisis is now an institutionalized way of life. Whether we like it or not, these methods increasingly define what it means to be an American. In this manner, despite the "freedom" rhetoric of the Bush administration, the phrase "the price of freedom" has been superseded by the price of what passes for "safety" and "security."
Read the whole thing, a chilling summary of what we have learned so far about what is being done in our names.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007's Worst Legal Arguments

Dahlia Lithwick has compiled a list of the Bush Administration's most idiotic legal arguments this year:

10. The NSA's eavesdropping was limited in scope.

9. Scooter Libby's sentence was commuted because it was excessive.

8. The vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch.

7. The Guantanamo Bay detainees enjoy more legal rights than any prisoners of war in history.

6. Water-boarding may not be torture.

5. Everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege.

4. Nine U.S. attorneys were fired by nobody, but for good reason.

3. Alberto Gonzales, the "the lying-est attorney general in recent history"

2. State secrets, "a doctrine of blanket immunity for any conduct the administration wishes to hide"

1. The United States does not torture.

Click here for the full run-down.