The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 30th, 2015: Hello, Cuba!

Cuba has finally been removed from the “State-Sponsored Terrorism” list, leaving only 3 nations on the short list: Iran, Sudan and Syria.

And about fucking time. C’mon, we at least have to make some concession to the fact that OUR abomination of a hellhole, that stinking albatross around America’s neck that seems to get little notice anymore, that unholy, immoral “Pit of Despair” known as GTMO, occupies part of THEIR country. We – the United States of America – cannot claim much of a moral high ground when we are deliberately and indifferently crushing hundreds of souls, day by day, year by year, simply because the greatest nation on the face of the earth ever doesn’t want to admit to or clean up the horror it spawned.

Sorry, where was I? Oh, here’s a few articles on Cuba’s elevation in status:

As The New York Times’ Julie Hirshfeld Davis reminds us, President Obama gave official notice of his intent to Congress on April 14th, 2015, beginning the 45-day “Congressional notification period”, which expired yesterday. An excerpt:

“Cuba’s removal from the terrorism list was harshly criticized by several declared or prospective Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress, a sign that the détente may become an issue in the 2016 campaign.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who is widely expected to run, called the decision “further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them.”

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said the administration had “handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing.” He vowed that the House would ensure that sanctions on Cuba would stay in place.”

One Washington Post article mentions that Jeb also said “I call on Congress to keep pressure on Cuba and hold the administration accountable.” [Does he mean the Cuban “administration”, or the Obama “administration”?] On Congress’ role, the article says:

“Removing the terror designation lifts only some of the numerous U.S. trade barriers against Cuba. An economic embargo remains in effect, and reversing it requires a congressional vote. President Obama has said he hopes to work with Congress to get it lifted.”

Why does President Obama, after all this time, still hold out any hope that Congress will work with him towards any goal? I mean, to Congress, Obama is just continuing his communist/socialist/Muslim/dictator/America-hating/atheist agenda, right? (sigh) Moving on…

A very informative WasPo article by Ishaan Tharoor helps to explain how a country qualifies for the “State-Sponsored Terrorism List”, and why some nations that one would think belonged on the list aren’t. The article also discusses nations who were previously on the list but have been removed. i.e., Iraq (maybe because we totally fucked up their country and left it in no shape to sponsor terrorism?); Libya (maybe because we killed enough members of Mohumar Gaddafi’s family that he finally cried Uncle Sam?)

FoxNews.com has this article, which adds a bit to the Speaker Boehner knee-jerk bluster:

“The communist dictatorship has offered no assurances it will address its long record of repression and human rights at home,” Boehner said in a statement.”

Fair enough, but ONLY if Boehner promises to end the Republicans’ long record of repression and human rights violations in OUR country AND theirs.  Better ‘tend to that log in your own eye’, Boehner.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 2nd, 2015: “Just Say No To FRC” Part Deux

Last Saturday I wrote about how Faithful America, a group of more Christ-like Christians, were protesting against CBS’s Bob Schieffer having Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council on Face The Nation to discuss the gay marriage case currently being argued before the Supreme Court. On that Sunday’s show, Bob Schieffer told Tony Perkins about Faithful America’s request that the interview be cancelled, due to the fact that the FRC (NAMBLA) doesn’t represent the majority of Christians. Faithful America’s petition to CBS had mentioned that the FRC was considered to be a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. That mention of SPLC apparently was the dog whistle for the other crackpot faux-religious groups to attack, demanding that “CBS and Bob Schieffer” apologize on the air to the FRC. According to their complaint, and confirmed by various googled sources, the FBI had taken the SPLC off of their “hate crimes resources” list due to an incident where an “SPLC supporter” attempted to shoot people at an FRC office. Here’s the Conservative Action Project’s letter to David Rhodes, President of CBS News – unfortunately it’s a PDF, but I’ll just quote a little bit of it:

“The interview was more than sloppy journalism. It was an assault against Judeo-Christian people of faith.
The work that FRC and its President Tony Perkins do to promote healthy families and traditional values is irreplaceable in our culture. To suggest, as Schieffer did, that FRC doesn’t represent Christians flies in the face of reality. The millions of Americans that we, the undersigned, collectively represent are proof of that.”

~ and ~

“It is now clearer than ever before that the liberal media–including CBS–along with the radical left, aided by the Obama administration, will stop at nothing to use their power and the power of government to silence, shame, punish and fine Americans who embrace traditional marriage and other politically incorrect truths. This is an unacceptable trend in a free society with a “free press.”

Well, just wait a minute here, you, “the undersigned.” There’s a big difference between representing millions of Christians and representing “millions of Americans.” Especially when you read the list of “the undersigned.” Right near the top of the signatories is Frank Gaffney. Almost “’nuff said” right there, for those of us who are aware of Gaffney’s looney-tunes Islamaphobia. But take a brief look at the names and their groups, and you’ll recognize a few right off the batshit, er, I mean ‘bat':

Ed Meese (The Hon. Edwin Meese III to us peons)
Brent Bozell
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin
Tim Wildmon of the AFA (NAMBLA)
Herman Cain (“9-9-9″)
Gary Bauer
Joseph Farah (okay, I didn’t recognize the name, but he’s from World Net Daily.)
David Bossie, President, Citizens United

Since some names and organizations didn’t ring any bells, I took a look at one organization that had more than one name associated with it: Institute on Religion and Democracy. Apparently Right Wing Watch and another right-wing-tracking group, Right Web, know them even if I didn’t.

From the IRD’s home page:

“The Institute on Religion and Democracy is a faith-based alliance of Christians who monitor, comment, and report on issues affecting the Church. We seek to reform the Church’s role in public life, protect religious freedom, and support democracy at home and abroad.”

Maybe my dad’s big old family bible had had a page ripped out – you know, the page where Jesus instructed the Apostles to “support democracy at home and abroad.” Or, since it really was a big-ass door-stop bible, maybe I skipped that page? I always thought that Jesus wanted his followers to do good works, help the downtrodden, and give hope to the hopeless. I seem to remember some big speech that Jesus gave about “Blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – and no, NOT the CHEESEmakers, the PEACEmakers. (Thank you SO much, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam.)

I’ll leave you to peruse some of the IRD articles and the group’s blog (I recommend “An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change”) Their blog has the icky-weird name of “Juicy Ecumenism” – hmmm, I’ll bet we could make a “Santorum” out of that.

I wonder if Bob Schieffer will have something to say on tomorrow’s Face The Nation. Maybe a correction or elaboration on the SPLC’s status would be in order, but an apology? Just say ‘NO’, Bob.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy yourselves!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 7th, 2014: Torture

Over the past month or so, there’s been a lot of talk about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the previous administration’s CIA torture program (oh, excuse me, “enhanced interrogation techniques”.) Chair of the Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein has accused the CIA of accessing Congressional computers and deleting memos and other evidence. Last week brought the news that Senator Feinstein is pushing to have the results of the report made public, in order to “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted…”

Cue the attacks, specifically on FauxNews: First, former CIA Director Michael Hayden questions Senator Feinstein’s possible “motivation for the report” is “emotional.” An excerpt from the ThinkProgress article:

“Citing specifically Feinstein’s line about not using such techniques again, Hayden told Fox News Sunday host Chis Wallace, “Now that sentence that, motivation for the report, Chris, may show deep emotional feeling on part of the Senator. But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”

A surprised Chris Wallace asked,

“…You’re saying you think she was emotional in these conclusions?” Hayden did not respond specifically to Wallace’s question, but rather said simply that only portions of the report had been leaked but it did not tell the whole story.”

Despite whatever Hayden believes the “whole story” to be, the portions that have been leaked seem to be quite detailed and very damning, as discussed in this March 31st article from WaPo.

“Officials said millions of records make clear that the CIA’s ability to obtain the most valuable intelligence against al-Qaeda — including tips that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 — had little, if anything, to do with “enhanced interrogation techniques.””

It does not seem possible that Hayden’s “whole story” could in any way mitigate the fact that torture was systematically used, both here and abroad at “black sites”, supposedly in the name of our “security.”

From the Washington Post article on Hayden’s “emotional” characterization:

“Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden suggested Sunday that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) might have compromised the objectivity of a report on CIA interrogation techniques because she personally wants to change them…Hayden suggested Feinstein feels too strongly about the issue on an “emotional” level.”

Feinstein struck back at Hayden’s comments later Sunday by calling her committee’s forthcoming report “objective, based on fact, thoroughly footnoted, and I am certain it will stand on its own merits.”

In a statement, Feinstein noted that the committee’s investigation began in 2009 and the report’s conclusions “came from documents provided by the CIA and the result is a comprehensive history of the CIA program. The only direction I gave staff was to let the facts speak for themselves.”

“I believe last week’s 11-3 vote to declassify the report demonstrates that both sides agree that Americans should see the facts and reach their own conclusions about the program,” she added.

Raw Story tells it slightly differently:

“Yeah,” Hayden replied dismissively, noting that a Washington Post columnist had reported that “Sen. Feinstein wanted a report so scathing that it would ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation would never again be considered or permitted.” [Emphasis mine, in that I have been unable to find to which “Washington Post columnist” Hayden is referring, nor any such reporting that Senator Feinstein had directed how “scathing” the report should be.]

“That motivation for the report may show deep emotional feeling on the part of the senator,” Hayden opined. “But I don’t think it leads you to an objective report.”… ““You’re asking me about a report that I have no idea of its contents,” Hayden admitted.

[The notion that Hayden has “no idea of” the report’s “contents” seems pretty ludicrous; regardless of his professed ignorance, it didn’t stop him from attacking the Senator for one moment.]

Raw Story also provides us with cyborg former Vice-President Cheney’s reaction, which also sparked an invitation from Senator Angus King (I-ME) to have Cheney waterboarded:

“The accusations are not true,” Cheney told college television station ATV last week. “Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture.”

“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” he insisted. “The results speak for themselves.”

Sorry, the report’s results do speak for themselves:

“A report that has been completed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, has found that the CIA misled the government and misstated the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation program. The report concluded that the CIA lied when it said it had gotten “otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives.”

“I was stunned to hear that quote from Vice President Cheney,” Senator King explained. “If he doesn’t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go through what those people went through, one of them a hundred and plus-odd times.”

And finally Cheney’s spawn, Liz, reliably shouts “Benghazi!” Again from Raw Story:

“Fox News contributor Liz Cheney on Sunday argued that a United States Senate report on Bush-era torture was “political” and that lawmakers should spend more time investigating President Barack Obama’s role in failing to prevent terrorist attacks in Benghazi.

“If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,” the former vice president’s daughter said on a Sunday morning Fox News panel. “You’ve got to be willing to say how many American lives would you have been willing to put at risk because you didn’t want to waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”

“Fox News political analyst Juan Williams quipped that Liz Cheney was the “good daughter,” but the American people had a right to know what the CIA was doing in their name, and if the techniques were effective.

“I want to start by agreeing with Juan,” Liz Cheney shot back. “That we need more congressional oversight… of Benghazi, for example.”

She added that the Senate did not produce a “fair report” because it was “written entirely by Democratic staffers.”

“The Republicans wouldn’t participate!” Williams replied. “People not only wouldn’t cooperate, [the CIA] tried to spy on the U.S. Senate.”

Liz Cheney concluded by saying that she had “missed Juan” during her absence from Fox News for a failed Senate run in Wyoming.

[Yeah, how’d that work out for ya, Lizzie? Finally found out that no one in your home state likes you?]

A couple of the commentors on that Daily Kos thread could have helped Juan Williams bitch-slap that she-devil:

JW: I got a better idea Liz, why don’t we focus on the 22 embassy attacks that happened under your daddy’s watch.

bplewis24:

[Quoting Liz Cheney] “If you’re going to say that we should not have conducted the enhanced interrogation program, if you’re going to say that we shouldn’t have waterboarded three terrorists, then you’ve got to say that you’re willing to accept the consequences of that,”…Yes. I am fully willing to accept the consequences of that. Reports tend to tell us there are no real consequences of it, but even if there were, that’s the “sacrifice” I’m willing to make in order to live in a civilized world.

I think that I would just go with what Sheppard Smith once blurted out “emotionally”: “THIS IS AMERICA AND WE DON’T FUCKING TORTURE!”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 29th, 2013: Saint Ronnie? I Don’t Think So!

jimmycarter460
I have always had great admiration for President James Earl Carter. I confess that I did not start voting until 1988, after I married Wayne (so Clinton was “my first.”) But my parents were pretty staunch Democrats who voted for Carter, and in those times we actually did sit down to watch the evening news every night, and I watched the Sunday political shows with my dad each weekend – which, of course, usually ended with me taking a nap. So I was not completely ignorant of political machinations, especially with dad filling me in on the background issues.

President Carter’s administration covered some troubled times, but he always spoke to the nation in a unique combination of down-home-folksy Sheriff Andy and subtly eloquent professor. That he is still, and always will be, derided by Republicans as one of the worst Presidents in history, just proves how little the Republicans respect intellect and integrity.

President Jimmy (as I like to call him) differentiated himself from too many other former Presidents by, after leaving office, continuing for decades to serve his planet, his country, and humanity in general. Jimmy and Rosalynn remain wonderful examples of “public service” at its most noble.

Here’s a selection of interviews, articles, and videos, all from the last year or two, which include President Carter’s views on America’s dysfunctional democracy and the effect of Edward Snowdon’s NSA leaks; his speech at the Carter Center’s “Mobilizing Faith for Women” conference on June 23, 2013; and an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan from January 2012 on a wide range of topics, but mostly about the Middle East.

And saving the best for last, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of President Carter’s appearance on The Daily Show, April 9th, 2013.

In my opinion, no other President has acted so Presidential after leaving office as has President Jimmy Carter. The right-wing can criticize and ridicule him all they want, but Jimmy deserves beatification to sainthood much more than their much-vaunted but historically inaccurate Saint Ronnie.

jimmy and rosalynn

This is our Open Thread. What’s your opinion about President Jimmy Carter? Or on anything else, for that matter.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, November 29th, 2012: By the Numbers

For today’s post, here’s a mix of articles with one very minor common theme: they’re all numbered lists.

First, from Foreign Policy magazine, a list of “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers”, which includes Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (recently visited by President Obama), Bill and Hilary Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates, Malala Yousafzai, and (coming in at Number 7) President Barack Obama. As David Rothkopf says in a companion article on FP (titled “The Opposite of Thinking”):

“Once again, Foreign Policy has with characteristic humility compiled its list of leading Global Thinkers. How we could possibly identify the top 100 thinkers on a planet of 7 billion people when we’ve never met a fairly considerable number of those people is not something we dwell on when discussing our methodology. Suffice it to say, the list is impressionistic. (OK, it’s more than a little ridiculous. But this is a tradition, so let’s just keep that between us, shall we?)”

On a more aesthetic theme, from The Weather Channel, here’s “The World’s 20 Most Amazing Bridges”, several of which are located in the United States.

And, just for fun, visit cracked.com for “14 Photographs That Shatter Your Image of Famous People.” Try not to get lost at cracked.com, it’s an addictive site.

Enjoy!

This is our Open Thread. What’s up?

President Obama vs Mitt Romney: HWOCV? (How Would Other Countries Vote?)

While I haven’t quite been ‘all over the map’ on the internets last night and this morning, I have spent several hours overseas.

Once again, I started at foreignpolicy.com, where “Blue Planet”, by Uri Friedman, caught my eye. For a brief moment I thought it was going to be about climate change, then I saw the subtitle: “What if the world could vote in the U.S. election?” Well, let’s see:

“In a recent UPI/C-Voter/WIN-Gallup International poll, which surveyed more than 26,000 men and women in 32 countries, 62 percent of respondents said that the U.S. president has a high or very high impact on their lives, and 42 percent felt they should have the right to vote in this year’s contest for that very reason. When you call yourself the leader of the free world, you’d better believe the world is going to take an interest in who you are.”

“Obama is preferred over Mitt Romney in 31 out of 32 countries in the UPI poll and 20 out of 21 countries in another BBC World Service/GlobeScan/PIPA survey. Fifty-one percent of respondents in the UPI poll said they would cast a ballot for Obama, with more people saying they wouldn’t vote for either candidate (18 percent) than would vote for the Republican nominee (12 percent). In the BBC survey, 50 percent of respondents chose Obama and only 9 percent selected Romney.” [NOTE: The BBC survey did NOT include Israel.]

Mr. Friedman’s article goes on to describe the (as he designated them) “Red States” and “Blue States.” As one would expect, “Blue States” include “…France…Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.” Under “Red States”, Mr Friedman writes:

“There is really only one red (foreign) state in this election, and it’s Israel. In a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University last week, 52 percent of Israelis said a Romney win would be preferable for Israeli interests, compared with 25 percent who said the same about Obama. The divide was starker among Jewish Israelis, who backed Romney by a 57-22 margin, with support for the GOP candidate strongest among right-wingers. A plurality of Arab Israelis, by contrast, favored Obama (45 percent) over Romney (15 percent)…Benjamin Netanyahu hasn’t expressed a preference for Obama or Romney during his effort to get the United States to commit to clear “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program, but the Israeli press** has speculated that the prime minister’s meddling in the race could invite U.S. payback if Obama is reelected.”

Keep in mind that these surveys were taken during September and October. I’d be curious to know whether there would be any changes if those polls were taken now, after Hurricane Sandy has drawn attention to the differences between a very Presidential President Obama and the out-and-out opportunism and phoniness of Willard Mitt Romney.

**I’ll have more on some of the “Israeli Press” in another post that I’m working on, probably for sometime tomorrow. Stay tuned…

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 25th, 2012: Mixed Bag

I realize that I’m constantly posting articles from Foreign Policy Magazine, but they do provide some interesting items. Here’s a few that you may (or may not, I admit) be interested in.

First, a “who said it” article with fifteen quotes from either President Obama or Mitt Romney. Many of the quotes make the answer pretty obvious, but considering how WillardMitt has been trying to morph into a reasonable moderate like President Obama…well, see how you do on it.

Next, “In Praise of Apathy” discusses the American non-voter, as well as the two-party system, the electoral college, and the failings of the latter two. I was afraid that this article would be similar to the ‘Voting is a waste of time’ one on which I had previously written, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Speaking of the two-party system, here’s another FP article about the Third-Party Presidential Debate that was held on Tuesday night. Some of the topics in this debate are issues that many of us are more concerned about than those covered in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney: the use of drones, climate change, the war on drugs, etc.

Last, an article from “The Daily” that I found on FP’s sidebar, entitled “Unsolicited Advice: An Open Letter to Undecided Voters”, which I think you’ll all enjoy.

This is our daily open thread–let’s talk!