The Utter Lack of Justice (a Bush Administration Trademark)

Report Sees Illegal Hiring Practices at Justice Dept. – NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used “political or ideological” factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes, a new report found Tuesday.

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Back Story With Eric Lichtblau (mp3)

The blistering report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general, is the first in what will be a series of investigations growing out of last year’s scandal over the firings of nine United States attorneys. It appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration.

“Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

The shift began in 2002, when advisers to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft restructured the honors program in response to what some officials saw as a liberal tilt in recruiting young lawyers from elite law schools like Harvard and Yale.

adsfasdf

In th elong run, I think this might be one of the wrost thing that the Bush administration has done.  I mean, when you think about going from Ashcroft, who was a horrid idealogue who set up these practices, to Gonzales, who ended up resigning from office because he got busted implementing these practices…what does that say about Bush’s concept of “justice”?

It’s more of a “political justice” kind of thing, and it becomes evident that everything these folks see if filtered through the lens of political leaning.  And I mean filtered at a base level.  Coulter and Rush are not, as it turns out, outliers.  For a while there, they were pretty mainstream.  No wonder we have gone so far off course.

More on this one later.  This is actually an older story, but I’m trying to keep up with everything on my desktop and this was sitting for a while.

The Old Rich White Curmudgeon Agrees, It’s Torture

Believe Me, It’s Torture: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com

The interrogators would hardly have had time to ask me any questions, and I knew that I would quite readily have agreed to supply any answer. I still feel ashamed when I think about it. Also, in case it’s of interest, I have since woken up trying to push the bedcovers off my face, and if I do anything that makes me short of breath I find myself clawing at the air with a horrible sensation of smothering and claustrophobia. No doubt this will pass. As if detecting my misery and shame, one of my interrogators comfortingly said, “Any time is a long time when you’re breathing water.” I could have hugged him for saying so, and just then I was hit with a ghastly sense of the sadomasochistic dimension that underlies the relationship between the torturer and the tortured. I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.

Master of the Bbvious (and with 20/100 hindsight) Chris Hitchens has officially weighed in on the waterboarding/torture thing.

This paragraph points out the fundamental problem..you can get anyone to confess to anything with the right pressure.

The other bad points get covered here.  This is from an expert in the technique, or at least training men to resist it.

1. Waterboarding is a deliberate torture technique and has been prosecuted as such by our judicial arm when perpetrated by others.

2. If we allow it and justify it, we cannot complain if it is employed in the future by other regimes on captive U.S. citizens. It is a method of putting American prisoners in harm’s way.

3. It may be a means of extracting information, but it is also a means of extracting junk information. (Mr. Nance told me that he had heard of someone’s being compelled to confess that he was a hermaphrodite. I later had an awful twinge while wondering if I myself could have been “dunked” this far.) To put it briefly, even the C.I.A. sources for the Washington Post story on waterboarding conceded that the information they got out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was “not all of it reliable.” Just put a pencil line under that last phrase, or commit it to memory.

4. It opens a door that cannot be closed. Once you have posed the notorious “ticking bomb” question, and once you assume that you are in the right, what will you not do? Waterboarding not getting results fast enough? The terrorist’s clock still ticking? Well, then, bring on the thumbscrews and the pincers and the electrodes and the rack.

And that’s it.

Waterboarding is torture.  Torture is wrong. Bush and Cheney should be impeached.  Why is this so difficult to make happen?

Permission to Spy Granted by U.S. House

UPDATE 3-US House votes to provide protection to phone firms | Markets | Markets News | Reuters

WASHINGTON, June 20 Reuters – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that could shield phone companies from billions of dollars in lawsuits for their participation in the warrantless surveillance program begun by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The White House-backed, compromise measure — which triggered a firestorm of opposition from civil liberties groups — would also overhaul U.S. spy powers and replace a temporary surveillance law that expired in February.

So this is how it works in the fascist countries…the governmnet works through private companies to violate the law.  Then the government protects those companies from prosecution and those companies spare the government from having to break its own laws.

The Senate is expected to give the bill final approval next week with the help of the two major presidential contenders — Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama — clearing the way for Bush to sign it into law.

Ahh, the joys of bi-partisanship.  Calling this bill something needed for national security is retarded.  We have a system in place, where you go and get a warrant, to spy on people.  To do so without warrants is wrong.  Even for private companies.  There should be a price paid for violating the law.  Instead, the power structure just changes the law to protect the companies from the people.  This is fascism.

“It will help our intelligence professionals learn our enemies’ plans for new attacks,” Bush said just hours before the House approved the bill, 293-129. “It ensures that those companies whose assistance is necessary to protect the country will themselves be protected from liability.”

And there you have the argument for.   The argument against would be…1) that warrant thing mentioned in the Constitution, that 200+year tradition against spying on citizens, and the basic concepts of freedom and liberty enshrined in our culture.

Mere trifles, really.

And so the bullshit of government/business deals is illustrated clearly…

The bill would not provide the retroactive immunity that Bush had demanded for telecommunication companies that took part in the warrantless spying program he started.

Instead, U.S. district courts would be able to dismiss a suit if there were written certification that the White House asked a company to participate and assured it the program was legal.

And so Bush Co. gives the Telecoms a get out of jail free card, literally, and gross violations of liberty, privacy and freedom go unpunished.

Critics charge Bush, in authorizing his spy program, violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get approval from a secret court to conduct electronic surveillance on foreign targets in the United States.

The president maintains he acted legally, saying he had the wartime power to authorize the program. But he put it under FISA jurisdiction in January 2007. Terms remain secret.

That’s right.  Because Saddam Hussein bombed the WTC with WMD Bush gets to read your mail.  It all makes perfect sense…if you have a fascist government.

Yet Another Impeachable Offense

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships | World news | The Guardian

The United States is operating “floating prisons” to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained.

Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped.

As a pirate I can certainly understand the need, and use, of prison ships during pirate raids.  However, I don’t really see their use being moral for city-state.  They are great for pirates because they are tricky and untraceable, the exact opposite of what you want your government to be.

Unless, of course, you are governed by pirates, in which case the use of prison ships is perfectly normal.

The Cost of Stupidity Just Went Up

FARK.com: (3656470) As the national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline reaches $4, keep in mind that mere months ago President Bush accused a reporter who asked about $4 gas of liberal bias

Dr.Zom : 2008-06-08 08:22:47 PM
Electing an oil man president and complaining when the price of gas goes up is like electing a pimp and complaining about the rising price of vagina.

And the truthiness flows…this particular piece of it coming from this story.

NEW YORK – The average price of regular gas crept up to $4 a gallon for the first time over the weekend, passing the once-unthinkable milestone just in time for the peak summer travel season.

Prices at the pump are expected to keep climbing, especially after last week’s furious surge in oil prices, which neared $140 a barrel in a record-shattering rally Friday.

While Americans who have to drive will feel the biggest squeeze, the increased prices also translate into higher costs for consumers and businesses, who will be forced to shoulder increased transportation costs of food and anything else that needs to be transported.

[full story]

Really folks, is there any question left as to where the blame lies for this debacle?

Der Vassermeister Quote 2008-06-08 08:52:25 PM
Do you know the price per barrel of oil in February 200[3]? (For historical context, that would be the month before the Iraq invasion). The answer is that in February 200[3], the month before the Iraq invasion, the per barrel price of oil was [$35.87]. Thank you preznit numb nutz.
[note: had to edit for accuracy, but I liked the point. source]

The Worst

The Worst
by Jonathan Coulton (completed and retitled by Roy Taylor.  Originally “The Presidents”)

Washington came first and he was perfect.
John Adams kept us out of war with France.
Jefferson made Louisiana Purchase.
In 1812 James Madison kicked the British in the pants.

James Monroe told Europe they could suck it.
John Quincy Adams looked just like his dad.
Andrew Jackson got rid of all the Indians.
Van Buren served one term, but he wasn’t bad.

William Henry Harrison died early.
John Tyler annexed Texas from Mexico.
James K. Polk fought Mexico to keep it.
Taylor was a Mexican War hero.

Fillmore gave a boat to Commodore Perry.
Pierce appealed the Missouri Compromise.
Buchanan saw the Civil War’s beginnings.
Lincoln saved the Union, then he died.

Andrew Johnson just survived impeachment.
General Grant enjoyed a drink or two.
Rutherford B. Hayes ended reconstruction.
Garfield was assassinated in 1882.

Arthur suspended Chinese immigration.
Cleveland made the railroad people squirm.
Harrison signed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
Grover Cleveland served another term.

McKinley kicked the Spanish out of Cuba.
Roosevelt was handy with a gun.
Taft was big and fat and had a mustache.
Wilson kicked some ass in World War I.

Harding said “Let’s Laissez Fair with business.”
Coolidge made the roaring 20s roar.
Hoover screwed the pooch in the great depression.
Roosevelt beat the Nazis in the war.

Truman dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.
Eisenhower kept the Commies well in hand.
Kennedy was killed by a magic bullet.
Johnson murdered kids in Vietnam.

Nixon was a sweating, filthy liar.
Ford gave Nixon pardon for his crimes.
Carter lusted in his heart for peanuts.
Reagan won the Cold War, and lost his mind.

George Bush Sr. poked at Saddam Hussein.
Clinton gave an intern a cigar.
W copied daddy’s work.
And proved the worst so far.

Obvious News of the Day (Saudis, Oil, Israel)

Saudis see no reason to raise oil production now – Yahoo! News

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia’s leaders made clear Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until customers demand it, apparently rebuffing President Bush amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices.

It was Bush’s second personal appeal this year to King Abdullah, head of the monarchy that rules this desert kingdom that is a longtime prime U.S. ally and home to the world’s largest oil reserves. But Saudi officials stuck to their position that they will only pump more oil into the system when asked to by buyers, something they say is not happening now, the president’s national security adviser told reporters.

This was a big part of Bush’s mideast trip. The funny part that the other part was to go and praise Israel and everything they do.

JERUSALEM – President Bush said Wednesday that 60 years of Israel‘s existence is cause for optimism for democratic change throughout the Middle East. “What happened here is possible everywhere,” Bush said, opening a trip divided between ceremonial duties and a new push for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“I suspect if you looked back 60 years ago and tried to guess where Israel would be at that time, it would be hard to be able to project such a prosperous, hopeful land,” Bush said during a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres. “No question, people would have said, ‘We’d be surrounded by hostile forces.'”

Yet Bush’s message of optimism was immediately offset by troubling realities in the region.

Israel confirmed plans to expand settlement activity in the West Bank, a development likely to undermine peace talks with Palestinians. A weakened Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert fended off corruption allegations. And another burst of violence erupted in the Gaza Strip just ahead of Bush’s arrival in Israel.

[full story]

I’m not sure if a country dominated by a particular religion, having a 40-year occupation of another religion, having secret nuclear weapons, a history of pre-emptively attacking her neighbors, and occasionally assassinating whoever they want is exactly the example we are looking for here. Yes, sure, people get to go out and party (which is a big deal), but to act like Israel is the end-all be-all of Middle Eastern civilization is a bit of stretch.

And that’s a decent part of why the Saudi’s and like “meh” when it comes to sending more oil (and they are bathing in cash right now, which tends to silence the pleas of others).

Some of The Reasons I Can’t Vote for McCain

The Associated Press: McCain outlines vision of Iraq victory

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won,” he told an audience of several hundred here in the capital city of a general election battleground state.

I though we were going to be done with the “it is the way I say it is, reality be damned” attitude. Bush and the Neocons tried that “we make reality” thing, and we’ve seen the horrific results.

If he was saying, “By 2013, I expect oil to cost $201.30.”, then maybe I would believe in his prognostication skills. And for some reason I still don’t personally understand how it is my freedom being defended in Iraq (i.e. the frontline of the War on Terror). We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iraq was completely incapable of posing a mortal threat to the U.S. A mortal threat is the ONLY type of type for which pre-emption is even a slight, remotely possible useful strategy. Self-defense only works after the guy pulls the gun, not while he’s looking at the catalog.

And above all else about his “2013 or Defeat” stragedy (yes, that is spelled correctly) is that the Iraqis adamantly want us out by 2011.

Later, as he drove to the airport on his “Straight Talk Express” campaign bus, McCain was peppered by reporters with questions about the timetable. He and his aides insisted there was a difference between ending the war and bringing troops home and, as they criticize the Democrats, announcing a withdrawal upfront without regard for the military endgame.

“It’s not a timetable; it’s victory. It’s victory, which I have always predicted. I didn’t know when we were going to win World War II; I just knew we were going to win,” McCain said.

When this guy talks about World War II in the present tense, like he was there…it’s because he was. How old is this dude again?

The Vietnam veteran added: “I know from experience, you set a day for surrender — which is basically what you do when you say you are withdrawing — and you will pay a much a heavier price later on.”

Yes, much like how when we finally pulled out of Vietnam, Communism swept the world and now we are on our knees in front of the Global Communist Domination of SouthEast Asia, and there are Vietnamese blowing themselves up here nearly every day in their quest to kill the U.S.

Oh, wait…you mean we are at peace with them, and have good relations?

(CNN) — Visitors to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam are struck by its frenetic pace, by the modern skyscrapers, by stores bulging with goods and by streets teeming with industrious Vietnamese.

At night young men and women cruise the neon-lit streets of the former Saigon on shiny Honda motorbikes, gathering in coffee bars, discos and restaurants where they are serenaded by the beeps and chirps of their cell phones.

[full story]

I wonder if McCain forgot all about that stuff and has some sort of alternate history in mind when he used Vietnam as a good reason to stay in Iraq.

And speaking on 9/11….

In particular, he sees a world in which the Taliban threat in Afghanistan has been greatly reduced.

He added: “The increase in actionable intelligence that the counterinsurgency produced led to the capture or death of Osama bin Laden, and his chief lieutenants. … There still has not been a major terrorist attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.”

We’ve already killed about 7 number threes, so this has happened already. I wonder if McCain was napping. The fact that he’s still talking about the Taliban points to serious issues regarding how bad Bush sucked…and why McCain sticking with Bush’s war policy is retarded at best.

There is one place McCain divides from Bush however…

McCain also pledged to halt a Bush administration practice of enacting laws with accompanying signing statements that exempt the president from having to enforce parts he finds objectionable.

You mean the Bush administration practice of wiping its ass with the Constitution? Yea, we should certainly stop doing that…I’d have more respect for the “Maverick” if he intended to prosecute them for those indiscretions, but my guess is a pardon is much more likely. And that’s why I can’t vote for him.

The Joys of Re-Selling Your Digital Rights

PC World – Business Center: Comcast Sets its Sights on Peer to Peer Apps

Comcast, one of the leading providers of broadband cable Internet access in the U.S, has your rights at heart. Of course, exactly what rights you have remains to be seen. But Comcast plans to let you know, just as soon as it’s decided what they are.
That was the gist of Comcast and Pando Networks’ joint announcement yesterday, calling for a “P2P Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.” But skeptics worry that such a plan is likely to be light on the rights, heavy on the responsibilities

This is the next step for the telecom companies.  In order to increase profit margins, the telephone companies are now going to start taking away what you thought were your digital rights and then re-sell them to you at a discount.  Yea, sure, the discount is still going to be more than you are paying for now but at least you’ll be getting a “discount”!

The funny part is that they are going to sell this whole bait-and-switch routine as if they are doing you a favor.  The really funny part is their argument that the government protecting the rights of people to use bandwidth for their speech how they see fit is now called “government interference”, while the concept of telecoms themselves deciding which packets get delivered by the dumptrucks is actually a service people want.

Because we all know that you should give AT&T a call before uploading that video of Cheney rimming Rumsfeld.  And we all know that they never censor anything….

The controversy surrounding AT&T’s alleged censorship of a Pearl Jam Lollapalooza show that AT&T webcast as part of its Blue Room series continues, despite AT&T’s Statement that Eddie Vedder’s anti-Bush lyrics were excised from the show footage by a third-party webcasting service provider.

SavetheInternet agrees with Pearl Jam that the situation could indicate how AT&T might act if net neutrality laws are not passed, and posted the footage on YouTube:

[note the part you can’t hear in the first version]


 Update: here’s the unedited version, as shot by a fan:

(update via futureofmusiccoalition)

 [source of censored songs]

The Best Way to Become a Target…

Putin scores major diplomatic victory by blocking NATO’s expansion plan – International Herald Tribune

BUCHAREST, Romania: By scuttling the NATO membership bids of two of Russia’s westward-looking neighbors, Vladimir Putin won what is arguably his biggest diplomatic victory even before he arrived at an alliance summit.

NATO’s plan to expand further into former Soviet turf collapsed Thursday when leaders — anxious to avoid angering Moscow — opted not to put the strategically important ex-Soviet nations of Ukraine and Georgia on track for membership.

The Russian president has strongly warned the military alliance against moving to bring Ukraine and Georgia aboard. He even threatened that Russia could point its nuclear missiles at Ukraine if it joins NATO and hosts part of a U.S. missile defense system.

Putin has succeeded in driving a wedge in the alliance. The United States, Canada and Central and Eastern European nations strongly backed the bids of Ukraine and Georgia. But Germany, France and some others resisted it, fearing that the move would damage ties with Russia, a key energy supplier to the continent.

…is to paint one on your chest.  This reality was mentioned a while back in this post.

NewsFlash: Torture is Actually Self-Defense

Memo: Laws Didn’t Apply to Interrogators

Sent to the Pentagon’s general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president’s inherent wartime powers.

“If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Yoo wrote. “In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.”

Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a “national and international version of the right to self-defense,” Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations — that it must “shock the conscience” — that the Bush administration advocated for years.

I used to use this argument to calm my conscience as a pirate.  It really didn’t matter what I did when I could argue that I was above any and all law and all my actions were blessed by my own desires.   Yea, didn’t work out so well for me, but that was the argument.