Archive for February 11th, 2009

That’s One…

Well, this is good news:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee cleared Hilda Solis’ nomination as Secretary of Labor today. The vote by the entire Senate will probably happen this week.

Only two Republicans voted against her — Pat Roberts and Tom Coburn. Even though Mike Enzi made a stink and said that she was not qualified to be Secretary of Labor because she supported labor, he ultimately voted for her.

Mike Hall of the AFL-CIO blog:

After eight years of the Bush administration’s Department of Labor under Elaine Chao—trashing workers’ rights, weakening workplace safety rules, ignoring wage and hour violations and siding with Big Business at about every juncture—the idea of a labor secretary siding with workers must be terrifying to some.

Cool as this is, bear in mind that it brings the total numbers of progressives in Obama’s cabinet to… one.  As compared to three Republicans and whatever Geithner is supposed to be.

February 11th, 2009 at 09:05pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Labor,Obama,Politics

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Turns out the repercussions of A-Rod’s steroid use are even farther-reaching than we thought:

Alex Rodriguez has admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs, and all the angels in the heavens above have wept as one.

“There’s nothing serious in mortality,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi in a statement.  “The wine of life is drawn.  All is but toys; renown and grace are dead.”

“We’re really hoping A-Rod will make a big effort to stay clean,” he added.

(…)

As the words of his admission echoed through space, a single celestial chorus exploded into a sorrowful harmony, and divine tears descended upon the earth like torrential rain.

“The very sun itself has gone dark in our eyes,” said Steve Grabowevich, an electrician and devoted Yankees fan.  “There’s no savor to our bread, no quenching to our water, no joy to our wine.  Love never shall return to me, never never never never never.”

(…)

For now, heaven and earth together await the final judgment: Will A-Rod still make the hall of fame?

I lived in New York for 20 years, and I had no idea Yankee fans were so… articulate.

February 11th, 2009 at 06:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

The Effectiveness Of Torture

TorinNelson’s diary about why Obama needs to establish a truth commission on torture contains an unintentionally revealing nugget about torture’s usefulness:

I do not believe that the use of these techniques was necessary or effective. I have come face-to-face in the interrogation booth with insurgents and Al Qaeda operatives. It is possible to make almost all of them talk using techniques that are lawful.

When I served as an interrogator, I did not mistreat detainees. For me, this was an issue of efficacy as well as morality. Everything I know tells me that torture is much more of a destructive technique than a useful “tool.”

I am aware of too many cases where torture – or abuse – backfired. Just to cite one: a previously cooperative and truthful detainee named Al-Libi was taken by the CIA to be tortured in Egypt. Under duress he claimed that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. This information was rushed to Secretary Colin Powell who used it in his speech to the United Nations as a justification to go to war with Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted, and all of his information – both when he was cooperative and later when he was tortured – were deemed tainted. It was determined that he made up the connection in order to make the torture stop.

Sure, from the perspective of someone genuinely interested in actionable intelligence, the interrogation of Al-Libi was an abysmal failure.  But from the perspective of an administration interested only in propagandizable intelligence, it was a smashing success.  Torture is a great way to extract fake confessions, fake intelligence, whatever the victims think their torturers wants to hear.  While most of us would consider that a pretty significant bug, the Bush administration viewed it as a feature.

February 11th, 2009 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Politics,Republicans,Torture

Go, Pat, Go!

This is promising:

The dialogue between the Vermont Democrat and the president’s office is a new phase in a delicate process concerning how best to handle potential crimes in the previous White House. Leahy proposed an investigatory commission on Monday, after which the president — speaking at his first news conference — said he did not currently have an opinion on the plan. Obama went on to say that he would rather look forward than backward, but he promised to prosecute any crime — whether committed was a former White House official or everyday citizen.

Asked about the President’s response, Leahy said that he believed the White House was right to maintain its focus on economic matters at this moment. “But I do intend to follow up and talk with him about this,” he said. “I’m not wedded to any part of the plan so long as we get all the facts out. I would hate to see us take the attitude that that was then and this is now, let’s not worry about any of the mistakes or the abuse of the law and give it a pass … because it is my experience that you continue to make mistakes until somebody calls you on it.”

Leahy did add an important ripple to the story in the interview with the Huffington Post: Congress will likely proceed with investigations regardless of whether Obama is on board.

“Oh yeah,” Leahy said when asked if he would go forward without Obama’s endorsement. “I think the Senate and the Congress as whole has an oversight responsibility that has to be carried out here anyway. Now it is much easier with the cooperation of the administration. A lot of things with the subpoenas I issued the past few years, we got a lot of information but a lot of it was held back.”

This path could create a curious situation for the Obama team, in which the president has committed his administration to prosecuting illegality and the Congress provides the evidence of such.

“What I would much rather see is to see us working together,” said Leahy. “We have a common interest, both the Congress and the administration to get this thing worked out … In this instance, this is so important that our common interest is to get the truth out.”

Leahy being willing to go forward without Obama’s encouragement is huge, because, well, he’s not going to get it.  All I ask is that Obama not actively oppose or stonewall any investigations into the Bush administration’s wrongdoing.  Ideally, I’d also like to see him give his DOJ the green light to prosecute any crimes Congress discovers, but frankly I’m not going to bet money on it unless it’s so evil and unspinnable that the public demand for prosecutions cannot be denied.

February 11th, 2009 at 07:42am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Obama,Republicans


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