Saturday, April 25, 2009

Waterboard Hannity for Charity?

Hannity would undergo waterboarding for charity, at least he said so in jest:

Olbermann will fund it for charity:

A website has already been thrown up asking for donation commitments from anyone else willing to dare Hannity to undergo the waterboarding.

Way to go. Nice. Hannity makes light of waterboarding. Torture is funny, to Hannity. Too soon to open up the comedy routine regarding torture? Wow. Just jaw dropping wow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Elephant in the Room EVERYONE Is Talking About

The elephant in the room everyone is talking about is torture.

I've gone back and forth regarding the previous administration's use of waterboarding in obtaining intelligence and Obama's actions and words on the issue. (Is waterboarding torture? Ask Christopher Hitchens. Or John McCain.)

First, a brief preface: For a campaign and administration that so closely monitored and monitors the focus of its message and talking points on most every other issue, the lack of clarity and focus of the message regarding torture is confusing. Perhaps the message has been unfocused precisely because it is such a difficult issue with which to deal.

Regarding how the Obama administration has handled the torture question let me begin by stating that I believe it was a mistake for the administration to release previously classified memos regarding torture written during the previous administration. To do so sets a dangerous precedent. What will the next administration release that's damaging to the current? Furthermore, what was to be gained by releasing the memos? If Obama truly does not want to prosecute those responsible then the release was a monumental miscalculation. The release of the memos has only fanned partisan flames on the left and right. And to what end? Does anyone really believe that those that authorized the use of waterboarding will be legally held accountable? What about those that wrote the memos that supported the decision to use waterboarding? Or those that actually waterboarded detainees?

Or if they do want to prosecute those responsible where do you start and end? Those that waterboarded detainees were just following orders but, that hasn't been a good defense in quite a while (however, there has been an attempt to grant immunity to those that used "aggressive interrogation techniques" before it was declared illegal). Those that put together the memos? Keep in mind that I'm guessing the lawyers that wrote these memos were probably told by someone much higher on the food chain to write something for the administration to hang its hat on if the legality of waterboarding or other "aggressive interrogation techniques"(a.k.a torture) was ever investigated. Plus, this is a lesson for future White House attorneys, anytime anyone wants you to write a memo to give legal creedence to what they're already doing or about to do, think twice. Would they want and/or need a memo if legality wasn't an issue? In other words, if you're a lawyer, don't put stuff in writing that could get you in trouble later. And what about prosecuting those that authorized waterboarding? Keep in mind that those that approved or at the very least knew of waterboarding included House and Senate Democrats, such as Pelosi, as far back as 2002. And what about people like Condolezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld or even President Bush, are they some of the officials that requested the memos? All that said, it would be difficult, to say the least, to prosecute anyone in the previous administration.

The release of the memos and the insistence that waterboarding helped gain valuable intelligence by the previous administration (Cheney) may make future investigation inevitable. I wonder if Cheney calling out the Obama administration as weak on terror not even 100 days in had anything to do with the memos being released? The release of the memos perhaps was a way of demonstrating to the world what Cheney and the previous administration thought being strong on terror meant, being strong meant waterboarding detainees, some 183 times. Just speculation.

There are more finely acute questions that could be explored more closely. For example, if there was any question as to whether waterboarding is torture and/or illegal that question was presumably answered in 2006. In 2006 the Congress (and then the Supreme Court agreed) voted and said waterboarding is torture and illegal. Case closed, end of story right? Wrong. After Congress and the Supreme Court declared waterboarding torture and illegal the Bush administration declared that waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques could still be used (it's not clear if the coercive interrogation techniques were indeed used after the 2006 legislation, just that the administration thought they could be used). In doing so the Bush administration ignored the authority of Congress and the Supreme Court and flaunted its rogue, self declared expansion of executive powers. The Bush Administration, true to form, would decide what legislation to follow and how to interpret the law and it decided that the legislation didn't apply, ignoring the separation of powers.

I write "true to form" because the Bush administration had already decided, unilaterally and without authority from Congress or the Supreme Court, that it didn't need warrants to spy in the U.S. Previously the Bush Administration would seek a warrant from a special, secret court. That secret court had granted wiretap warrants for spying in the U.S. to the previous 5 administrations, including during the Cold War. This top secret court would even retroactively grant warrants, meaning that the Bush administration could start wiretapping and then seek a warrant. That wasn't good enough for the Bush administration. When the Bush administration's bypassing of the secret court came to light one of the judges of the court resigned in protest. To be clear, the Bush administration decided it didn't need warrants to spy in the United States. The courts eventually disagreed. But, I digress.

As horrid as the past administration's usage of "aggressive interrogation techniques" may have been, in my opinion, it's time to move forward. Why? I don't recall any previous administration's actions being the subject of prosecution or congressional review after that administration had left office. There's no precedent for it. Furthermore, this issue, in my opinion, is an old one to most. The populace is past it or at the very least wants to be past it. Moreover, prosecuting officials from the previous administration may be barred by laws passed as recently as 2006 and otherwise, prosecution would be extremely difficult. Lastly, there's another good reason to move forward. Because it may turn into a witch hunt and witch hunts don't end well. Innocents are usually accused and become victims. Witch hunts consume not only those accused but also the accusers.

But that's just my opinion and that's all it is, an opinion. Others have their own opinions. It's not my decision whether to prosecute or not, or if the U.S. is going to prosecute, who. President Obama will have well formulated reasons no matter which way he comes down on this decision. But it may be a no win situation/decision. If he chooses not to prosecute someone/anyone, some (the left), will say that he's not even attempting to seek justice. If he chooses to prosecute, some (the right), will say that he's doing so for political reasons and should be mindful because they have long memories and he'll eventually leave office or may not have both the House and Senate on his side. Obama says it's the Attorney General's decision but, last I checked the Attorney General serves the President, so I'd consider it still President Obama's decision, and I don't envy him it.

Lastly, and most problematic to me, is that the mantras after 9/11 emanating from the previous administration were, to paraphrase, that "we cannot let the terrorists win", that "the terrorists want to make us afraid" and that they "hate our freedom". How does the executive branch ignoring the other branches of government, unilaterally deciding what is and isn't the law and interpreting the law to its own liking "defeat the terrorists" or make us "unafraid" or preserve our freedom? The Bush administration ignored the rule of law. We should not forget that or let it happen again.

The United States is, or at least should strive to be, "a nation of laws not men". People throw that quote around all the time. What does that quote mean? It's supposed to mean that those in power are not to bend or break laws to serve or suit their desires or will, no matter how well intentioned that desire or will may be. The previous administration may have forgotten what type of nation we are, a nation of laws, not feeble, fallible, ordinary people.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Judicial Recusal Bill Pending In Texas House

Would you want a judge hearing your case on appeal when that judge has received campaign contributions from your adversary or your adversary's attorney? I wouldn't. I would hope you wouldn't either.

Pending in the Texas House is a bill that would require justices/judges on the Texas Supreme Court/Court of Criminal Appeals (the highest appellate civil and criminal courts in Texas, respectively) to recuse themselves from a case if that justice/judge received $1,000.00 or more from someone involved in the case. (text of bill here)

House Bill 4548(H.B. 4548) is still in committee, and we'll have to see if it gets out. After that, there's no assurance that it passes the Texas House and Senate. Why? Who could be against a bill like this? Surely it would pass with little or no opposition. Well, some folks might like having judges in high places to whom they've paid money. But, I don't know how anyone, organization, or business entity could be openly against this bill without looking like they just wanted to line the pocket of justices and judges that would be hearing their cases.

Of course I'm all for the bill.

Want to let your Texas representative and/or senator know how you feel about this bill (whether you agree with me or not) or any other piece of legislation? Then, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Betty Brown, Let Your Ignorance Shine!

Betty Brown (who recently appeared on my list of terrible Texas politicians), a member of the Texas House of Representatives, recently suggesed that Asians and Asian Americans adopt names that are easier (for people like her?) to deal with:

Betty Brown just suggests, like it's no big deal, that all Asians and Asian Americans adopt Americanized names. ALL of them! Wow! I wonder if Ms. BETTY BROWN has trouble with any of those other crazy languages like Spanish or Portuguese or German or Italian or Polish or Russian. Maybe ALL of those from and descended from countries that speak languages other than English and with ethnic names should adopt Americanized names so it's "easier" for folks like her.

The respectful speaker at this hearing should have suggested that instead of Asians and Asian Americans adopting names that are easier for Ms. Brown to understand maybe Ms. Brown should change from being an ignorant talking head to a thoughtful policy maker.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ron Paul Pro Secession, Anti U.S. Entering WWI, Anti Wording of Pledge of Allegiance

Below is a clip of Ron Paul defending the idea of secession and Gov. Perry:

Ron Paul defends secession as American and at least at one time grounded in constitutional principles. I'll disagree with Ron Paul when he says that secessionist talk isn't treasonous. There was a Civil War about it. When we revolted from England the only reason it wasn't considered treason was because we won. But, because the U.S. won the Revolutionary War it was historic and brilliant. Had we lost, it would have been treasonous, at least according to Britain. In other words, history is written by the victors and thankfully the U.S. won both the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Revolting because of lack of representation is one thing. States seceding in defense of the states' right to allow slavery is another. Threatening secession and defending secessionist talk because you disagree with tax policies, tax policies elected officials from each state voted on, is ridiculous. Of course these are just my thoughts on the subject.

Please note however that I may not be alone in my thinking, polling suggests that the vast majority of Texans are not in favor of seceding. The fact that we have polling on the issue is sad. Furthermore, over 60% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing.

Of course let's put Ron Paul's comments into perspective. Ron Paul gripes about the Pledge of Allegiance's wording regarding the United States being "indivisible", and implies Woodrow Wilson should not have entered World War I.

So lets add Ron Paul to the list of Texas politicians that our great state has supported and given to the nation:

1. Tom Delay
2. Dick Armey
3. Dick Cheney
4. W.
5. Gov. Rick Perry
6. Betty Brown (more on her later)
7. Karl Rove
and now....
8. Ron Paul

Friday, April 17, 2009

Delay Defends Gov. Perry's Incorrect Assertion That Texas Can Leave the Union If It Chooses

First here's Gov. Perry's comments regarding Texas secession at a "Tea Bag" demonstration:
Next is a clip of Delay on Chris Matthews defending Gov. Perry's secessionist comments:

It is sad that this is even a topic of conversation (using the word "conversation" in the loosest way). I only offer the following observations:
1) The bailouts and record spending began under the previous Republican administration yet there was not this outcry and demand that people "tea bag" D.C. or understanding from Republicans regarding some fringe Texans advocating secession from the Union.
2) The hard core Texas secessionists are out there (even though, thankfully, they are a fringe movement) and they are dangerous. Leaders of the movement have been convicted of threatening to kill political leaders.
3) Many understand secessionist talk as code for racism.
4) Questions: Is actively advocating and working towards Texas secession treason? If so, does Perry and Delay's "understanding" of secessionists make them, at the very least, sympathetic towards traitors?
5) Lastly, I sarcastically applaud Gov. Perry and Delay for again making Texas look oh so good when in the national spotlight.

Again, this secessionist talk is so inane that it's troubling the amount of media attention it is receiving. However, these "red herrings" continue to be rolled out, whether promoted by Republicans or Democrats, and distract from the very real problems at hand.

Some recent "red herrings":
1) tea parties
2) tea bag D.C.
3) Obama bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia
4) Steele
5) Limbaugh hopes Obama fails and is leader of conservative movement
6) Levi Johnston calls Palin a liar regarding living with Palin's family before birth of child (really, who cares about this?)
7) Chuck Norris being taken seriously by anyone, including Glenn Beck

I'm sure there are more red herrings. Keep in mind, the above distract from serious issues facing the nation including, but not limited to, two wars, economy losing half a million jobs per month, recession and failing businesses. So, when folks talk about tea parties and secession I wonder why, especially given the gravity of the multiple dilemmas we face.

Superfriends Funny

Again, combine funny with comic book super heroes and I'm there:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Tea Parties" Gather Sore Losers

Last month I posted the below regarding the "Tea Party" protests planned for today, tax day. For multiple reasons I think these protests fall somewhere between comedic and sadly misinformed. Remember, the American revolutionaries had their Tea Party because they had no representation in England's parliment. As far as I understand our elected officials, from local to state to national, have been elected, for the most part, fairly by the electorate. That's a small yet remarkably important difference between then and now. These folks protesting at these supposed "Tea Parties" that are upset by tax day have a recourse the revolutionaries did not, they can vote out their elected representatives. However, something tells me that most of those protesting are the "real Americans" Palin spoke about during the election. They feel that they somehow unfairly lost the White House and the Congress this past election cycle. In other words they're just sore losers. But that's just my guess.

I Don't Want to Do That to the White House!
The intrepid Fox reporter featured in the clip below tells us that the organization "Re Tea Party" wants people to do to the White House what I can only imagine has been done to some unsuspecting fraternity members that are sleeping or passed out. Wait for it, he really says it at about 1:55 in this clip:

Then read what this organization wants you to do to Washington D.C. by visiting their website (click here) and reading their third headline next to the map of the USA. They want you to "tea bag" DC and the White House.

What does this term mean to most? Click here to find out.

The organization "Re Tea Party" may be:
(1) a grass roots group that's very conservative but has no clue or
(2) a grass roots organization in name only funded by wealthy conservative groups that has no clue or
(3) the rare and thought extinct conservative group, grass roots or not, with a great sense of humor.

Personally, I think it's all a bunch of number 2, see above.

I know I don't want to do that to Washington D.C. or the White House and neither should you! Or maybe you think it'd be funny and you want to. Either way, tell them what you think of their desire to commit this heinous/hilarious act on D.C. and the White House by emailing them (click here).

Spread the word about this comedic, intentional or not, political organization by clicking the envelope below.

On a serious note, the Boston Tea Party was an event in United States history that took place because the American colonists were being taxed and generally governed without representation in the British Parliament. Parliament first forced Brits and colonists to only buy heavily taxed tea from Britain and the East India Company. This led to smuggling of tea by Dutch and colonial merchants. Then, Parliament essentially granted the East India Company a monopoly regarding the importation of tea to the colonies when it repealed customs and duties the company owed Britain therefore, undercutting the prices smugglers could offer. Those living in Great Britain couldn't really complain much because they elected Parliament. The colonists had a beef because they had no representation in Parliament.

Why the history lesson? Because this "Re Tea Party" group makes little or no sense unless they're made up of colonists of the United States and have no representation in Congress. Maybe they're all residents of Washington D.C. (D.C. doesn't have a vote in the House or Senate). Or maybe "Re Tea Party" has no knowledge or sense of history, maybe.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

MST 3000 Is Back, Kinda

Some of the folks who brought you Mystery Science 3000 have a website,, where you can download their commentary in the form of an MP3 and sync it to old and new movies on DVD or download the whole thing from their site. A little cumbersome but, they're still funny. Here's a sample of "X-Men" MST 3000 style:

And here's a sample of "Jurassic Park" MST 3000 style:

More "Hi I'm Marvel & I'm DC"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Colbert Tackles Glen Beck (For a Loss)

One of Comedy Central's dynamic duo (Stewart and Colbert) has struck again, going where other traditional media types either aren't smart enough to venture or brave enough.

This time it was Colbert on a solo adventure taking on Glen Beck, making Beck looking like a hysterical hypocrite. Of course does Beck really need any help looking like a hysterical hypocrite?
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The 10/31 Project
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Who are "them"? How will Beck scare people into helping Beck help them (the good, scared them) help him against them (the bad scary them)? What will Colbert's 10.31 project be? Does Beck think the show "24" is real? Will Beck understand that Colbert's making fun of him? Stay tuned for more of the dynamic duo versus "Those That Fear 'Them' " true believers.

Letterman vs. O'Reilly; Letterman vs. Limbaugh

Letterman talks about Limbaugh with O'Reilly. Check back here soon for more about Limbaugh being in charge of the Republicans/Conservatives.

Obama Depressed After Series Finale

Some funny stuff from The Onion:

Our Pets #32: Feel the Love

American Executives Should Be Glad They're Not French

Of course the economy is not doing well in France either. Angry French workers at a Caterpillar factory are holding executives hostage after the company announced layoffs. The CEO's and executives of American companies laying off hundreds of thousands of workers each month here in the United States should at least be glad they're not French executives being held against their will by the very workers they are preparing to lay off. Otherwise we'd have had executives being held hostage every other day at companies like AIG, Chrysler, GM, Ford and Lehman Brothers to just name a few. But, we're American, we take our lumps and move on. When Americans get angry about the economy and/or losing their jobs they send off some strongly worded emails, maybe in all caps, and go to the polls. Lucky for American executives that we're Americans and not the French.

Of course the French historically have also done away with lying, self-serving, authoritarian governance (monarchy) by employing the guillotine. Granted that was over 200 years ago and I'm not suggesting the French would do anything like that to deceitful, power hungry politicians nowadays. But it's interesting to speculate about what the French might do now to lying, self-serving, authoritarian-like politicians. Maybe the French, through their government, would arrest and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, the same laws that those same politicians chose to ignore. Of course that's only what the French hypothetically might do. And we're Americans, we take our lumps and move on. When Americans get angry about the bad politicians they send off some strongly worded emails, maybe in all caps, and go to the polls and vote them out. Lucky for some American politicians that we're Americans and not the hypothetical French I described.