Saturday, May 23, 2009

Henry Waxman

Wins Texas Hold'em Challenge

Barton of Texas is

"All Hat and No Cattle!"

HatTip to ThinkProgress for this:

A week ago, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, bet he would have committee chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) “by the nuts” during the markup of landmark climate and energy legislation by the committee:

He has got a chance to get the votes. If you are familiar with Texas Hold ‘Em poker, he doesn’t have the nuts. It is not a done deal. Nor do I. … We will see which has the other by the nuts next week.

“This is not going to be one of those gentlemanly, pro forma markups,” Barton swaggered, while circulating a list of hundreds of poison-pill amendments. “We’re prepared for it to take weeks or months.”

Instead, business and industry joined President Obama and environmentalists to support the bill, leaving Barton’s fellow global warming deniers to anonymously snipe at each other. Waxman didn’t blink at Barton’s bluster, even hiring a speedreader to negate Barton’s threat to delay the process by forcing the reading in full of the 937-page legislation and every amendment.

As Waxman steered the markup and Obama announced groundbreaking limits on global warming pollution from automobiles, Barton talked about the CO2 in Dr. Pepper. Republicans were left flailing, accusing Democrats of engineering economic catastrophe one moment and of being the party of big business the next. As his defeat became certain, Barton whined about being “beat time after time after time after time”


Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy 79th Birthday, Harvey Bernard Milk

May 22, 1930 - November 27, 1978

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States (and only the second openly homosexual, after Massachusetts State Assembly member Elaine Noble). His tragic assassination in San Francisco's City Hall made him the American gay liberation movement's most visible martyr.

I ask my gay sisters and brothers to make the commitment to fight. For themselves, for their freedom, for their country ... We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets ... We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I'm going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives...
Stonewall anniversary speech 1978

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lifted entirely from our friends @Crooks & Liars

Joe Scarborough:

Unhinged Torture Apologist

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I think Joe Scarborough is attempting to make his show almost as unwatchable as Fox News. First he decides to attack Jesse Ventura for his comments on The View:

SCARBOROUGH: Perhaps Jesse should stop smoking whatever Jesse's been smoking and keep his mouth shut about things he knows absolutely nothing about. This is a guy who, by the way -- I must continue to say this -- that got paid two million dollars by this network, did one show and sucked so bad that they sent him back to Minnesota and said "we never want to see you again."

I wish I was that bad. Perhaps I am. Maybe they'll fire me and I'll take my money and go to Florida. [...] Seriously, that's the sort of stupidity -- it's just -- it should seriously be a crime to be that dumb and on TV. [mocking Jesse's voice] We only waterboard Muslims. Oh God.

Let's bring in Rudy Giuliani. Former Republican mayor of New York City, former presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani. This seems like a great place to start. [begin douchey sarcastic voice] Why is it that people like Jesse Ventura are so concerned about how we treat people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Why is that?

h/t to Bob Cesca for the transcript and apparently he was as disgusted after watching this as I was. I'll let him take it from here.

Jesse Ventura was a Navy Seal who survived the SERE program and served in Vietnam. He "knows nothing" about torture and war, Joe? And you do? That's rich.

As for your question to Giuliani, Jesse is worried about torturing people like KSM because it endangers our soldiers.

Scarborough then goes into an angry tirade when Carlos Watson dares to suggest that waterboarding doesn't work.

SCARBOROUGH: I’ve got to stop you right there. How do you dare come on this set and say that’s [waterboarding] not effective? That’s just not the truth! And if you have any evidence that it is not effective, let me know right now!

We're not the only ones who noticed Scarborough's angry defense of torture this morning.

Think Progress has taken up Scarborough’s challenge, with this comprehensive document explaining why Bush’s enhanced interrogation tactics were a failure.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finally, a Proper Framing of the Torture "Debate"

Daily Kos contributor, columnist David Waldman from Congress Matters recently on CNN

David Waldman, also known as Kagro X at DailyKos and Congress Matters, appeared on a CNN webshow and showed these mealy-mouthed Democratic Party talking heads how to really frame and control the debate on torture. Finally, someone on who has a firm grasp of the facts and will not allow the discussion to get sidetracked to pointless distractions. Jane Hamsher put it best:

The successful hijacking of the torture debate by its proponents obscures the underlying facts, as Kagro makes abundantly clear:

1. Private contractors were conducting torture
2. It was torture for political gain
3. Pollsters should be asking if Americans support using torture to extract false confessions for political purposes, because that's what happened

There were no "ticking time bombs" -- as former State Department official Lawrence Wilkerson and McClatchey have confirmed, torture was conducted to extract false evidence linking Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. It was ordered by Dick Cheney and George Bush just as it was during the Spanish Inquisition, to force political compliance.

The Washington Examiner's Chris Stirewalt objects when Kagro invokes the obvious parallel, shamelessly hiding behind the military when he says "On behalf of American soldiers, on behalf of American soldiers, that's not cool." In classic Yellow Elephant fashion, Stirewalt apparently never served in the military.

You know what else is not cool, Chris? Invoking some quasi-patriotic symbol to obfuscate over what should be patently obvious to even mouth-breathing Republican apologists like you: Torturing people is a crime against humanity. Torturing people for political gain is an even more despicable crime against humanity. It doesn't matter who commits it: Spain, the Catholic Church, Japan or Dick Cheney. It is a crime. And you are an apologist for it.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Drip, Drip, Drip

from From the Left blog


People have longed to find the proverbial smoking gun linking former Vice President Dick Cheney and torture. It appears we have found it.

CNN reports:

The main purpose of the torture program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, according to former State Department official Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary for State Colin Powell, started in then-Vice President Cheney’s office.

“Its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda,” Wilkerson wrote in The Washington Note, an online political journal.

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, says his accusation is based on information from current and former officials. He said he has been “relentlessly digging” since 2004, when Powell asked him to look into the scandal surrounding the treatment of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

“I couldn’t walk into a courtroom and prove this to anybody, but I’m pretty sure it’s fairly accurate,” he told CNN.

“The priority had turned to other purposes, and one of those purposes was to find substantial contacts between al Qaeda and Baghdad,” he said.

The argument that Iraq could have provided weapons of mass destruction to terrorists such as al Qaeda was a key reason of the Bush administration’s case for the March 2003 military invasion. But after the invasion, Iraq was found to have dismantled its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

Wilkerson says in one case, the CIA told then-Vice President Cheney’s office that a prisoner under its interrogation program was now “compliant,” meaning agents recommended the use of “alternative” techniques should stop.

At that point, “The VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods,” Wilkerson says.