Wed-Nov 25 2009
Seattle WTO Aftereffects
"But I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about something
else. I want to talk about the darker legacy of the WTO protests, the second
major change they set in motion. I’d like to talk about what people in power,
not social justice activists, learned from the WTO protests. And how and why the
WTO became a turning point for the increased militarization of public space
during the last ten years."
I hate to sound pushy, but this is a must-read.
The WTO Effect
Tue-Nov 24 2009
Glenn Greewald on Obama's Civil Liberties Record
Greg Craig and Obama's worsening civil liberties record
"So, to recap: we have indefinite detention, military
commissions, Blackwater assassination squads, escalation in Afghanistan, extreme
secrecy to shield executive lawbreaking from judicial review, renditions, and
denials of habeas corpus. These are not policies Obama has failed yet to
uproot; they are policies he has explicitly advocated and affirmatively embraced
as his own." emphasis mine
Britain Begins Iraq War Inquiry
"Military commanders are expected to tell the inquiry into the
Iraq war, which opens on Tuesday, that the invasion was ill-conceived and that
preparations were sabotaged by Tony Blair's government's attempts to mislead the
They were so shocked by the lack of preparation for the aftermath of the
invasion that they believe members of the British and US governments at the time
could be prosecuted for war crimes by breaching the duty outlined in the Geneva
convention to safeguard civilians in a conflict, the Guardian has been told.
The lengths the Blair government took to conceal the invasion plan and the
extent of military commanders' anger at what they call the government's
"appalling" failures emerged as Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry's chairman,
promised to produce a "full and insightful" account of how Britain was drawn
into the conflict.
Fresh evidence has emerged about how Blair misled MPs by claiming in 2002 that
the goal was "disarmament, not regime change". Documents show the government
wanted to hide its true intentions by informing only "very small numbers" of
Stay healthy George, I don't want you choking on a pretzel before you get your
day in court.
Leaked documents reveal No 10 cover-up over Iraq invasion
Fri-Nov 20 2009
Why Do They Hate the Constitution?
The Weekly Standard's ACLU smear indicts only itself
"The ACLU (with which I consult) not only defends the most elemental
American liberties (e.g., the State cannot imprison people without
charging and convicting them of a crime), but also renders Al Qaeda's
demonization-dependent recruitment efforts against the West far less
effective. By stark contast, the Constitution-hating, warmongering and
tyrannical template embraced by The Weekly Standard is precisely
what Al Qaeda needs -- and
desires -- in order to thrive. The more the U.S. is
represented by the warmongering and anti-due process face of Bill
Kristol, the better it is for Al Qaeda; the more it adheres to the
liberties and rights guaranteed by the Constitution and defended by the
ACLU, the weaker Al Qaeda becomes. Kristolian neocons want and need a
strong Al Qaeda in order to justify the array of wars and civil liberties
erosions they crave, and everything they advocate is designed to achieve that
goal -- or, at the very least, guarantees that outcome.
The greatest irony of the last decade is that the very people who most despise
core American principles and do more than anyone to fuel Islamic extremism have
anointed themselves the arbiters of American patriotism and protectors of
American security. The reality is that it is this very movement which
simultaneously advances definitively un-American political values and
strengthens anti-American Islamic radicals -- both by design and by
effect. The Weekly Standard's due-process-hating manifesto this
morning is a vivid exhibit for how that has worked."
Thu-Nov 19 2009
Sun-Nov 15 2009
Phineas and Ferb Song: "I'm Me"
I can do it, I can run, I can hunt you down.
You can try, but you can't stop me 'cause I'm gaining ground.
I'm light on my feet and I'm quick to the punch.
I had a heavy breakfast, but a real light lunch.
I'm a raging bonfire, a cherry bomb, I'm me.
I'm rough-and-tumble, I'm the one to beat,
I'm a fresh coat of blacktop burnin' up your feet.
I've got a poisonous sting, when I rain I pour.
I'm the best of the best, I'm the soup du jour.
I'm smooth as glass, and I'm sharp as a tack, I'm me.
I'm the last and best stick of gum in the pack, I'm me.
I'm a strong woman, fast-talking, big-bad-dog walking,
High falutin', drum-beatin', foot stompin', corn-poppin',
Speeding locomotive that just won't stop!
I'm a hot apple pie with a cherry on top!
I'm a crowd pleasin', head spinnin',
Winnin' in the ninth inning,
Black-tie party crashing!
Cyclone of fun, I'm an army of one!
I'm strawberry sprinkles on a hot cross bun!
I'm a big haymaker in a title fight.
I'm a cute black kitten with a nasty bite.
I'm an action double-feature on a Friday night!
I'm Me - Phineas and Ferb
- Baljeet: "I'm rethinking having you as my wall of meat"
- Phineas: "Hey Ferb, you've got to try this, I can't feel my brain"
(Phineas and Ferb Wiki)
Fri-Nov 13 2009
Wed-Nov 11 2009
Days of the Dead
Days of the Dead @ The Big Picture
"From October 31st through November 2nd, a number of festivals,
holidays and solemnities take place, all loosely related and revolving around
remembrance of the dead. Halloween, Samhain, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day,
the Day of the Dead and other festivals trace their origins back to Celtic,
Aztec, Roman and Christian traditions. Halloween is largely a secular
observation these days, All Souls and All Saints remain mainly Catholic
observations, and the Day of the Dead is still largely a Latin American
tradition, its roots in Mexico's Aztec heritage. Collected here are photographs
over the past week from the varied observations of the Days of the Dead around
Mon-Nov 09 2009
Sun-Nov 08 2009
Still Getting Away With Torture
A court decision that reflects what type of country the U.S. is
"Yesterday, the Second Circuit -- by a vote of 7-4 -- agreed
with the government and dismissed Arar's case in its entirety. It held that
even if the government violated Arar's Constitutional rights as well as statutes
banning participation in torture, he still has no right to sue for what was done
to him. Why? Because "providing a damages remedy against senior officials who
implement an extraordinary rendition policy would enmesh the courts ineluctably
in an assessment of the validity of the rationale of that policy and its
implementation in this particular case, matters that directly affect significant
diplomatic and national security concerns" (p. 39). In other words, government
officials are free to do anything they want in the national security context --
even violate the law and purposely cause someone to be tortured -- and courts
should honor and defer to their actions by refusing to scrutinize them.
Reflecting the type of people who fill our judiciary, the judges in the majority
also invented the most morally depraved bureaucratic requirements for Arar to
proceed with his case and then claimed he had failed to meet them. Arar did
not, for instance, have the names of the individuals who detained and abused him
at JFK, which the majority said he must have. As Judge Sack in dissent said of
that requirement: it "means government miscreants may avoid  liability
altogether through the simple expedient of wearing hoods while inflicting
injury" (p. 27; emphasis added).
The commentary about this case
from Harper's Scott Horton perfectly captures the
depravity of what our Government has done -- and continues to do -- to Arar.
His analysis should be read in its entirety, and he concludes with this:
I want to add one principal point to all of this. This is precisely how the
character of a country becomes fundamentally degraded when it becomes a state in
permanent war. So continuous are the inhumane and brutal acts of government
leaders that the citizens completely lose the capacity for moral outrage and
horror. The permanent claims of existential threats from an endless array of
enemies means that secrecy is paramount, accountability is deemed a luxury, and
National Security trumps every other consideration -- even including basic
liberties and the rule of law. Worst of all, the President takes on the
attributes of a protector-deity who can and must never be questioned lest we
prevent him from keeping us safe."
When the history of the Second Circuit is written, the Arar decision will
have a prominent place. It offers all the historical foresight of Dred Scott, in
which the Court rallied to the cause of slavery, and all the commitment to
constitutional principle of the Slaughter-House Cases, in which the Fourteenth
Amendment was eviscerated. The Court that once affirmed that those who torture
are the “enemies of all mankind” now tells us that U.S. government officials can
torture without worry, because the security of our state might some day depend
Wed-Nov 04 2009
Sun-Nov 01 2009
Oct 30, 2009: Fire Survivors
"A wildfire in Santa Barbara, California last month helped forge
some unlikely bonds. Rescued from the Jesusita Fire, a 3-week old bobcat kitten
and 3 day old fawn became fast friends. The animal rescue in California brought
predator and prey together. But these babies simply took comfort in each other's
company, snuggling under a desk at a dispatch office for