Archive for July, 2009


Roundup – Ce Soir

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Line o’ the Day:

6. Ice Cream Sandwich. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Ice cream sandwiches are fucking tremendous, but the only bad part of eating them is when you’re finished and it looks like you just went three fingers deep inside someone else’s asshole. Little children are also vulnerable to the dreaded Ice Cream Sandwich Sanchez, in which the chocolate part of the sandwich gets encrusted around your mouth, giving you that freshly administered Rusty Trombone look.

16. Dippin Dots. You see Dippin Dots in ice cream trucks now, along with baseball stadiums, beach towns, and everywhere else. They’re fucking retarded. Oooh, it’s the ice cream of the FUTURE! In the future, all food comes in pellet form! Now I know how it feels to be a goat in a petting zoo. Get fucked, Dippin Dots. I’ll take my ice cream in non-ball bearing form.” [Big Daddy Drew via Deadspin]

Best of the Best:


Finishing Quote:

“Munk asked the hedge fund manager to look at Harvard’s finances and assess the extent to which its endowment will be able to keep pace with its immovable costs. The hedge fund manager’s conclusion: ‘They are completely fucked.’” [Vanity Fair on Harvard’s endowment troubles]


Off Topic: Glenn Greenwald on the Obama Betrayal

Glenn Greenwald has been one of the most vocal and salient voices on the Obama Administration’s backtracking on, and even the expansion of, the civil liberties abuses by the Bush Administration.  According to his Salon blog: “I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. I am the author of two New York Times Bestselling books: “How Would a Patriot Act?” (May, 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, and “A Tragic Legacy” (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy. My most recent book, “Great American Hypocrites”, examines the manipulative electoral tactics used by the GOP and propagated by the establishment press, and was released in April, 2008, by Random House/Crown.”

One would note this hardly makes him either a far left or far right ideologue.  He has, as detailed at the very bottom of this post, opposed many Conservative areas including gay rights (Greenwald is gay), drug laws, and the financial bailouts, particularly from bonus and profit perspectives.  He has also praised Obama in a number of otherwise controversial areas, such as the Sonia Sotomayor nomination.

The Obama Abuses (some articles are followed by money quotes from the post):

Civil Liberties:

  • Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability — resoundingly and disgracefully (2/9/09)
  • Obama and habeas corpus — then and now (4/11/09)
  • Obama’s kinder, gentler military commissions: “It now appears definitive that the Obama administration will attempt to preserve a “modified” version of George Bush’s military commissions, rather than try suspected terrorists in our long-standing civilian court system or a court-martial proceeding under the Uniform Code of Military Justice…It is plainly not the case that these “modifications” address the core criticisms directed to what Bush did, nor is it the case that Obama’s campaign position on this issue can be reconciled with what he is now doing.” (5/15/09)
  • · The NYT sums up Obama’s civil liberties record in one paragraph: Quoting the New York Times: “President Obama’s decisions this week to retain important elements of the Bush-era system for trying terrorism suspects and to block the release of pictures showing abuse of American-held prisoners abroad are the most graphic examples yet of how he has backtracked, in substantial if often nuanced ways, from the approach to national security that he preached as a candidate, and even from his first days in the Oval Office.” (5/16/09)
  • Obama’s embrace of Bush terrorism policies is celebrated as “Centrism”: “Obama makes a melodramatic showing of ordering Guantanamo closed but then re-creates its systematic denial of detainee rights in Bagram, and “[l]ast month Secretary of Defense Gates hinted that up to 100 suspected terrorists would be detained without trial.”  Obama announces that all interrogations must comply with the Army Field Manual but then has his CIA Director announce that he will seek greater interrogation authority whenever it is needed and convenes a task force to determine which enhanced interrogation methods beyond the Field Manual should be authorized.  He railed against Bush’s Guantanamo military commissions but then preserved them with changes that are plainly cosmetic.  Obama has been at least as aggressive as Bush was in asserting radical secrecy doctrines in order to prevent courts from ruling on illegal torture and spying programs and to block victims from having a day in court.  He has continued and even “ramped up” so-called “targeted killings” in Pakistan and Afghanistan which, as Goldsmith puts it, “have predictably caused more collateral damage to innocent civilians.”  He has maintained not only Bush’s rendition policy but also the standard used to determine to which countries a suspect can be rendered, and has kept Bush’s domestic surveillance policies in place and unchanged.  Most of all, he has emphatically endorsed the Bush/Cheney paradigm that we are engaged in a “war” against Terrorists — with all of the accompanying presidential “war powers” — rather than the law enforcement challenge that John Kerry, among others, advocated.” (5/19/09)
  • Obama’s civil liberties speech (5/21/09)
  • Obama, the Right and defendants’ rights: “This was yet another case where the Obama DOJ sided with the Bush administration and advocated the position that the conservative justices adopted.  The Obama DOJ aggressively argued before the Court that convicted criminals have no constitutional right to access evidence for DNA analysis.  Indeed, its decision to embrace this extreme Bush position caused much controversy and anger back in February.” (6/20/09)
  • · Establishment view of Obama’s civil liberties record: From a Washington Post Editorial: “President Obama has said that the state secrets doctrine should be reformed, and he has promised to be more measured. Yet when confronted with actual cases the Obama Justice Department has adopted the same legal arguments as the Bush administration.” (6/29/09)
  • The Obama justice system: “Spencer Ackerman yesterday attended a Senate hearing at which the DOD’s General Counsel, Jeh Johnson, testified.  As Ackerman highlighted, Johnson actually said that even for those detainees to whom the Obama administration deigns to give a real trial in a real court, the President has the power to continue to imprison them indefinitely even if they are acquitted at their trial. About this assertion of “presidential post-acquittal detention power” — an Orwellian term (and a Kafka-esque concept) that should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares at all about the most basic liberties — Ackerman wrote, with some understatement, that it “moved the Obama administration into new territory from a civil liberties perspective.”  Law professor Jonathan Turley was more blunt:  “The Obama Administration continues its retention and expansion of abusive Bush policies — now clearly Obama policies on indefinite detention.”” (7/8/09)

State Secrets

  • The 180-degree reversal of Obama’s State Secrets position: “What was abusive and dangerous about the Bush administration’s version of the States Secret privilege — just as the Obama/Biden campaign pointed out — was that it was used not (as originally intended) to argue that specific pieces of evidence or documents were secret and therefore shouldn’t be allowed in a court case, but instead, to compel dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance based on the claim that any judicial adjudication of even the most illegal secret government programs would harm national security.  That is the theory that caused the bulk of the controversy when used by the Bush DOJ — because it shields entire government programs from any judicial scrutiny — and it is that exact version of the privilege that the Obama DOJ yesterday expressly advocated (and, by implication, sought to preserve for all Presidents, including Obama).”   (2/10/09)
  • Marc Ambinder grants anonymity to “officials” to defend the Obama DOJ: This posts quotes from the New York Times editorial: “The Obama administration failed — miserably — the first test of its commitment to ditching the extravagant legal claims used by the Bush administration to try to impose blanket secrecy on anti-terrorism policies and avoid accountability for serial abuses of the law.” (2/11/09)
  • Charlie Savage on Obama’s embrace of Bush/Cheney “terrorism policies”: “These are not complaints that Obama has failed to act quickly enough to reverse Bush/Cheney policies.  Indeed, there are many areas where Obama has explicitly said he needs time before deciding what he wants to do — closing Guantanamo, proceeding with detainee trials; deciding if he wants to claim Bush’s power to indefinitely detain “enemy combatants” on U.S. soil;  responding to some FOIA requests, etc.  Very few civil libertarians — and certainly not me — have objected to his needing more time before he finalizes his exact policies.  That’s perfectly reasonable.   Some of these issues are truly complex, involve many moving parts, and require that many factions which he needs (e.g., inside the CIA) be placated.  Taking some time is reasonable.  The complaint is not that Obama has failed to move quickly enough to repudiate Bush/Cheney abuses.  Virtually nobody is arguing that.  Rather, the criticisms are grounded in the opposite premise:  these cases which have provoked objections are all cases where Obama has already taken affirmative actions to preserve and defend Bush/Cheney policies.” (2/18/09)
  • New and worse secrecy and immunity claims from the Obama DOJ: “the Obama DOJ filed the government’s first response to EFF’s lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush’s NSA program.  But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.” (4/6/09)
  • Keith Olbermann’s scathing criticism of Obama’s secrecy/immunity claims (4/8/09)
  • Major defeat for Bush/Obama position on secrecy (4/28/09)
  • Obama’s support for the new Graham-Lieberman secrecy law: “Obviously anticipating that the Government is likely to lose in court again (.pdf) — Obama wants Congress to change FOIA by retroactively narrowing its disclosure requirements, prevent a legal ruling by the courts, and vest himself with brand new secrecy powers under the law which, just as a factual matter, not even George Bush sought for himself.” (6/1/09)
  • The Obama officials blocking accountability for Bush crimes (6/15/09)
  • Obama and transparency: judge for yourself (6/17/09)

Illegal Spying:


Preventive Detention:

Viewpoints Opposing Conservatives:

In Praise of Obama:


Roundup – Mystery Team

“We should thank the hobo, so he doesn’t put a curse on us.”

Line O’ the Day (Double Dose of Athletes):

“PLAYING MR. NICE GUY IS OVER…From now on everything is going to be bad, the war is ready to begin and I play … dirty!” – Lenny Dysktra, in texts and emails to his wife [Ventura County Star]

“A lot of the guys will sit there and live football. Every Sunday they’re glued to the t.v. watching football. I don’t watch football. I’d rather watch two people fuck.” – Lawrence Taylor [Sports Radio Interviews]

Best of the Best:


Mish on Everything: