Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Category Archives: Politics and News

ACLU links Rice, White House to torture, as early as 2002

ACLU report:

NEW YORK – The results of an internal Justice Department investigation released today reveal that officials at the highest level of government — including the White House — received reports on the abuse of prisoners in U.S. military custody overseas as early as 2002. Congress called on the department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conduct the investigation after documents made public through an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request revealed FBI agents at Guantánamo had raised concerns about methods used by military interrogators. Today’s government report is the first to identify that then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice received complaints of torture.

More later, perhaps.

Mainstream media, are you paying attention yet?

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New compromise plan to seat Michigan delegates

The Detroit Free Press is reporting on a new plan to seat Michigan delegates at the Democratic convention. The idea is to give Clinton 69 regular delegates, and Obama 59. “The proposal also would seat the state’s 29 superdelegates.”

I suspect the hidden (Clinton) agenda is to seat the superdelegates.

Since these superdelegates were responsible for the mess we’re in, it would make more sense to me to split the delegates 64/64 between Clinton and Obama, and leave the superdelegates at home.

Bush personally approved meetings to arrange torture

Bush personally approved meetings to arrange torture, which were led by Cheney.

If you consider what the government did to be torture, which is a crime according to U.S. and international law, Bush’s statement shifts his role from being an accessory after the fact to being part of a conspiracy to commit.

A day off

I have a couple of days off, so I’m writing a bit on ‘a simple desire’, hanging out with Bess and Jane, uploading MP3 of the afternoon session of the 2008 Golden Gate singing to my website, and watching a waterboarding video.

Cost of the Iraq War and the Economy

More stuff worth reading: Joseph Stiglitz’s testimony before Congress on the cost of the Iraqi War (pdf):

I have, so far, emphasized the direct economic costs as well as the opportunity costs—the diversion of funds that could have been used in so many other and better ways. I would be remiss, however, if I did not note that there are other costs: in the long run, the squandering of America’s leadership role in the international community, the diversion of attention from critical global issues, including issues like global warming and nuclear proliferation in North Korea—that simply won’t go away on their own, and that cannot simply wait to be addressed—may represent the largest and most longstanding legacy of this unfortunate war.

Some have characterized the Iraq War as a “war for oil.” If so, we lost this war, too: oil was $25 per barrel before the war, and over $100 per barrel now. Stiglitz conservatively reckons the war accounts for $5-$10 of the increase (though, confusingly, he actually thinks it is much higher).

And there is a direct connection between the war and the credit crisis (which goes unmentioned, by the way, in the New York Times front page article “Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club“):

It should have come as no surprise that, when America’s great financial institutions, Citibank and Merrill Lynch, needed money quickly, there were no pools of liquid cash available here. High oil prices and high national savings in China and elsewhere have created huge pools of wealth outside the United States, and it was to these that our financial institutions had to turn. It is, and should be, a cause of concern.

Barack Obama on Race and Politics

Obama’s speech is well worth watching.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

McCain on torture restrictions, just to be clear

Update: Good comments by Fred Clark at slacktivist.

From the New York Times:

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been an outspoken opponent of torture, often referring to his own experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. In this case he supported the administration’s position, arguing as Mr. Bush did Saturday that the legislation would have limited the C.I.A.’s ability to gather intelligence.

So, McCain is in favor of allowing the US to practice such cruel and inhuman punishment and torture as:

  • controlled drowning (“waterboarding”)
  • sexual intimidation and degradation
  • leaving prisoners in cold cells naked
  • forcing prisoners to stand for days at a time
  • mock executions

In other words, the kinds of horrors practiced at Abu Ghraib.

Michigan's primary

Should Michigan redo its Democratic primary for president?

I think it was shameful, scandalous and grossly stupid that our Governor Granholm, Senator Levin, and the state Democratic and Republican committees disenfranchised Michigan voters.

Millions of dollars were spent holding a sham election in which the only Democratic front-runner on the ticket was Senator Clinton. Her presence on the ballot was itself a masterful bit of triangulation, allowing her to garner votes while not spending any money on campaigning in Michigan and publicly committing to honor the Democratic National Committee’s rules.

The only reasonable course is for Michigan to split its delegates evenly between Senators Obama and Clinton. This at least gets Michigan representation at the national convention, is cost-free, and would roughly represent the opinions of Michigan voters (although I don’t know of any polling to support that).

My biggest fear is that Clinton will win the nomination via back-room negotiations using Michigan’s ‘super-delegates’ claiming to represent Michigan; this will be bad for Michigan and bad for the nation. If Granholm deserts the state to join Clinton’s cabinet, I will be very disappointed, and our poor state will suffer even more economic and political hardship.

I still stand by my prediction that Clinton will win the nomination and the election, although this is not an outcome I want. When will a real alternative to the Democrats and Republicans appear?

The Iowa Caucuses

Hitchens on the Iowa caucus racket:

I was in Des Moines and Ames in the early fall, and I must say that, as small and landlocked and white and rural as Iowa is, I would be happy to give an opening bid in our electoral process to its warm and generous a

nd serious people. But this is not what the caucus racket actually does. What it does is give the whip hand to the moneyed political professionals, to the full-time party hacks and manipulators, to the shady pollsters and the cynical media boosters, and to the supporters of fringe and crackpot candidates.

Question: why does empire allow this? Is it a Caligulan, we can do anything we damn well please, spirit? Or some other less insane reason?

Republican words and Republican popularity

As a followup to my post on the correlation of the popularity of Democratic presidential debate, and the number of words they were allowed to utter, here are the results from last nights debates, using data in the New York Times interactive graph of the Republican candidates’ debate. As before, click on the headers to sort by that column:

The correlation between words and the amount of time they spoke is 97%; the correlation between the Zogby poll and the amount of time they spoke was 84%. There’s a 100% correlation between rank in the polls and rank in the time spent talking.