Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Abyss

Moran:" How so, when it comes to cruel, inhuman-- What's the president's prerogative in the cruel treatment of prisoners? "

Cheney: "There's a definition that's based on prior Supreme Court decisions and prior arguments, and it has to do with the Fourth, Thirteenth, and -- three specific amendments to the Constitution. And the rule is whether or not it shocks the conscience. If it's something that shocks the conscience, the court has agreed that crosses over the line.

Now, you can get into a debate about what shocks the conscience and what is cruel and inhuman. And to some extent, I suppose, that's in the eye of the beholder. But I believe, and we think it's important to remember, that we are in a war against a group of individuals and terrorist organizations that did, in fact, slaughter 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11, that it's important for us to be able to have effective interrogation of these people when we capture them.

And the debate is over the extent to which we are going to have legislation that restricts or limits that capability. Now, as I say, we've reached a compromise. The president signed on with the McCain amendment. We never had any problem with the McCain amendment. We had problems with trying to extend it as far as he did. But ultimately, as I say, a compromise was arrived at, and I support the compromise."

Moran: "Should American interrogators be staging mock executions [and] waterboarding prisoners? Is that cruel? "

Cheney: "I am not going to get into specifics here. You're getting into questions about sources and methods, and I don't talk about that, Terry."

Moran: "As vice president of the U.S., you can't tell the American people whether… "

Cheney: "I don't talk about-- "

Moran: …or not we would interrogate… "

Cheney: "I can say that we, in fact, are consistent with the commitments of the United States that we don't engage in torture. And we don't. "

Moran: "Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in U.S. custody have died -- 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides -- people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in U.S. custody? "

Cheney: "No. I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the U.S., there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country. "

Mein Gott, doesn't that sound familiar? The day the United States lost the war in Iraq was the day American soldiers tortured prisoners to death to save Iraqis from Saddam Hussein, a monstrous tyrant who tortured prisoners to death. Either way, it doesn't work, it's barbaric, and it kills people. Civilization is left behind when sadists are given ugly toys to play with and the unspoken permission to use them. Those smiling faces we saw in Abu Ghraib were the same smiling faces saw in Nazi Germany, Burma, Somalia, Soviet Russia, and Latin America. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." Not only did America lose the moral high ground, it jumped willingly into the abyss, and it's a long way down.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Shoe Thrown Around The World

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge
I am kinda outraged at Chris Matthews today. Last night on Hardball, he lamented how Americans didn't like it when their leaders were treated badly abroad and how he didn't like Bush's treatment in Baghdad yesterday. I am not lamenting, not one bit. I rejoiced. I would have liked it better if the Iraqi threw monkey poo at Bush.

As I still see it, Bush stole the 2000 and 2004 elections and he is unworthy of being shown grace or dignity - at home or abroad.

In fact, it would suit me just fine if Bush was tried by the International Court, convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death by firing squad. I am typically against capital punishment because wrongful convictions are so easy to obtain. But the entire planet has given witness to the atrocities Bush has wrought in every corner of the globe. Torture, criminal use of military might, illegal war, abuse of the Geneva Conventions, abuse of all declarations of human rights and on and on the ugly list grows.

So, I am not at all bothered that an Iraqi threw his shoes at Bush. I just lament he missed.

Will Class and Race Make Caroline KennedyThe Next NY Senator

Not as far as New York activist Al Sharpton is concerned. He said in a statement that he is neutral but also defended Caroline Kennedy.

"I unequivocally disagree with those that say she is not qualified," he said, adding that Kennedy'sMore HERE I guess Al Sharpton feels that she deserves to be eased into a U.S. Senate seat because of her class and name? I guess her calls Sharptonblack folks hard hit in this economy. civic involvement makes her qualified. worked. Al must believe that she will fight harder NY residents and

Caroline Kennedy

AAPP: Hey, Rev. I understand that Caroline Kennedy is a very nice women. But Al, stop kissing up! You don't represent how all black people feel about Caroline Kennedy or for that matter Jesse Jackson Jr. There are many differing views.

Get this Rev. Al, as the New York Times reported, "She has not held a full-time job in years, has not run for even the lowliest office." More HERE Rev. Al you know here background, just as much as the NY Times who are reporting that she has no real work experience, aside from a 22-month, three-day-a-week stint as director of strategic partnerships for the New York City schools, her commitments generally involve nonprofit boards: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., the American Ballet Theater, the Commission on Presidential DebatesJohn F. Kennedy Library Foundation. More HERE and the

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg speaks at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Rev. Al, you know, News Day also reports that Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, JFK's only surviving child, has spent a lifetime on one podium or another, but has never sought elected office, a gap in her resume that is leading some fellow Democrats to ridicule the notion of naming her as Hillary Rodham Clinton's replacement in the U.S. Senate. More HERE

AAPP: Not everyone in Black NY or in Black Chicago are kissing up like Al Sharpton. But I will tell yah, the possibility of two or three black U.S. Senate seats seems to be over. It seems that black leadership in America is quiet of the Kennedy issue, or are kissing up... big time. There are many grassroot black folks who are concerned about the message being sent about Class and Race in the U.S. and whether OBAMA's CHANGE in his backdoor support of another Kennedy, or Biden, is just another day of old-school American politics that people are sick of. For me, I don't get this, is Carolyn Kennedy's only claim to fame, that she was raised on New York's Fifth Avenue after the assassination of her father, President John F. Kennedy?

Is there not more of a standard other than, "civic involvement," whatever that means. Why is it that Kennedy can be a front runner because of her name - with no experience, yet, a black person can have years of experience and be at the bottom of the list?

Is class and race involved? Of course it is. But guess what, Hillary Clinton is said to like the idea of Buffalo mayor Byron Brown. No idealist, he'd bring a hardball game to Washington. He'd be the first black Senator from New York. More HERE

As Karen Tumulty of the also noted, "The state has no shortage of more seasoned politicians who are also interested in the job. Among those who are being mentioned as possible candidates are Kennedy's former cousin-in-law, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo; at least four current House members, including Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney, Brian Higgins and Steve Israel; Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown; and Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi. Last week, New York Congressman Gary Ackerman said he didn't know of any qualifications that Kennedy has, "except that she has name recognition — but so does J. Lo." (See other possible candidates for Clinton's Senate seat.)" More HERE

Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and niece of another Kennedy who previously held the seat — the late Robert F. Kennedy — decided "after a series of deeply personal and political conversations, in which Ms. Kennedy, who friends describe as unflashy but determined, wrestled with whether to give up what has been a lifetime of avoiding the spotlight." That, according to the Times' Nicholas Confessore, who reports that Kennedy will ask Gov. David Paterson (D) for consideration for the appointment. Source: NPR's Political Junkie

Historic Kennedy family campaign buttons.

Two years after JFK was elected president, his brother Ted won a Senate seat in Massachusetts, and brother Bobby was elected in New York two years after that. JFK's grandfather John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston, failed in a 1916 Senate bid against Republican Henry Cabot Lodge. Source: NPR's Political Junkie

As NPR's Political Junkie notes, "There has been no shortage of names thrown in the mix of potential candidates for the Senate post. As we wrote on Dec. 2, the list is thought to include state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand from upstate, Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan, and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi." More HERE

As reported by Elizabeth Moore of Newsday, Kennedy campaigned with her "Uncle Teddy" to elect Hillary Clinton to the Senate. But it was Obama, not Clinton, who got her endorsement at a critical moment this year, in words that not so subtly slighted Bill Clinton as well.

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," she wrote in a New York Times op-ed in January. "But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president."

Elizabeth Moore notes that Clinton allies -- and those of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who is divorced from one of Kennedy's cousins -- were blunt last week in airing their doubts on Kennedy's fitness for the office. It's a debate that is fast becoming a proxy for the larger turf battles within the Obama-era Democratic Party. More HERE

Like the Political Junkie I also have to wonder how much warmth there is between Caroline and Hillary. The Clintons had lobbied hard for the endorsement of Sen. Ted Kennedy, and many in the Clinton camp were thrown for a loop when Ted and Caroline joined the Obama bandwagon.

Caroline Kennedy, right, and Hillary Clinton wave to the crowd following a campaign speech for Clinton's Senate race on Oct. 17, 2000. Kennedy, from a famous political family, has decided to pursue the Senate seat of Clinton, who has been nominated Secretary of State.
Reuters file photo

AAPP: I have been reading a lot about Caroline Kennedy lately, and as John Mecurio recently wrote in the National Journal, "Caroline Kennedy seems like an intelligent, competent woman. Her family should be proud of how she has conducted her life: as a (relatively) private citizen who, unlike many of her more ambitious relatives, has never openly sought advantage, political or financial, from her famous family name. She's never shown any enthusiasm for a job that people work tirelessly to acquire. Which is why she would be a bizarre choice." More HERE

John Mecurio also notes, "The choice is particularly curious in the wake of Obama's victory last month. I've always found it awkward to watch Obama embrace the Kennedy legacy as part of his mantra for "change." In some ways, they couldn't be more different. The story of Obama, who spent the past two years calming Americans' concerns about his untraditional family tree, centers on the claim that anyone can achieve anything, regardless of race or class. The story of the Kennedys, meanwhile, is America's most beloved bow to political dynasties and inherited prominence.

Democrats can... Read MORE HERE

African American Political Pundit is a 2008 DNCC Credentialed Democratic National Convention Blogger, and writes for African American Political Pundit Blog.

Boob Tube Boobs


A terrible fall season at NBC is forcing the network to consider scaling back the number of hours it airs programming, Chief Executive Jeff Zucker told an investor conference Monday.

While NBC will continue to fund the creation of pilots, Zucker told analysts at a media investor conference sponsored by UBS that NBC is considering cutting the number of hours or perhaps even the number of nights it provides programming.
Less isn’t more, Mr. Zucker.

Then again, it’s cowardly, wrong-headed decisions like Zucker’s that perpetuate the vicious cycle of diminishing ratings in the first place. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then the same thing can be said about mediocrity. How many shows about cops, doctors, spies and lawyers can you do?

But the idea of doing something different terrifies Zucker and his herd of sheep taking up space at NBC’s executive offices. Originality turns them into Sir Robin screaming "Run Away! Run Away!" in Monty Python's Search For The Holy Grail

Still, NBC isn’t any different from the other two major networks in their disdain for anything that’s unique and groundbreaking. Any TV series that show even a molecule of originality are always at risk of either being canceled, switched around to different time slots on different days, put on "hiatus", or disfigured by clueless executives. (Whatever did happen to the gay woman on Gray’s Anatomy anyway?)

Sure, House, CSI, and Without A Trace aren’t bad, but The Big Three being what they are, network guys will keep these shows on longer than they should so they can squeeze the last drop of creativity that made us appreciate these shows in the first place. How watchable is Law and Order lately? When a generic, proud-to-be-stupid sitcom like The World According To Jim gets renewed for an eight season while Friday Night Lights teeters on the edge of cancellation every week, it’s no surprise that people will go someplace else to watch programs that won’t insult their intelligence.

To put it bluntly, the growing exodus of TV audiences from The Big Three networks is their own fault. I’d guarantee you that if innovative programs like Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Wire, In Treatment, Weeds, and others were brought to ABC, NBC, or CBS, they would have passed on every one of them. That certainly was the case with The Sopranos when David Chase shopped his mob drama for years before it found a home at HBO. We saw how that turned out, didn’t we?

You’d think Mr. Zucker would learn that if you make a better TV show, the viewers will come. He’ll probably ask the government for a bailout instead.

If The Shoe Fits

Iraqi journalist hurls shoes at 'dog' Bush
An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki's private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: "It is the farewell kiss, you dog," and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

Maliki made a protective gesture towards the US president, who ducked and was not hit.

The journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was frogmarched from the room by security staff, an AFP journalist said.

Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue's face with their soles.
That wasn't one Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at President Bush.

It was Iraq. An Iraq that was destroyed by the weak, smirking little punk who said (if you read between the lines), "Oops, stuff happens! But let's bygones be bygones, O.K.?"

Iraq saw a sociopath who didn't feel a molecule of guilt. Iraq saw a war criminal who would never be punished for his crimes. Iraq saw a greedy millionaire who got richer by looting the country until there was nothing left. Iraq saw the living breathing personification of the Great Satan. Iraq saw Death.

At that useless press conference, it was one man who spoke for Iraq by refusing to collaborate in a lie and expressed how he and his people and his country really felt about the ex-President of the United States.

This is your legacy, Mr. Bush. Get used to it.