Will Obama clearly ban torture?

There is a lot of discussion right now about the ambiguous statements coming from Obama regarding Gitmo and past torture practices and policies going forward. A number of folks on the right seem to be arguing (no surprise) that any change in policy will result in unacceptable risk to the country.  Does Obama agree? Digby has a view:

But I would suggest that Obama contemplate one little thing before he decides to try to find “middle ground” on torture. It is a trap. If he continues to torture in any way or even tacitly agrees to allow it in certain circumstances, the intelligence community will make sure it is leaked. They want protection from both parties and there is no better way to do it than to implicate Obama. And the result of that will be to destroy his foreign policy.

Obama was elected to change policies, not to whitewash past abuses and continue them in any form.

Up

The next animated film from Pixar is called “Up.”  Here is a sneak peak just released by Disney. Looks terrific to me.

Oh, you can watch the trailer in HD here.

Bush admits approving use of torture

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This is amazing. I wonder if Bush has any plans at all for international travel after he leaves the White House. (Of course, he was not a world traveler before he became president.) He appears to have admitted ordering torture. This after denying repeatedly that the United States tortures anyone. He effectively throws the lawyers under the bus, but I doubt this would be a legal defense.

Dowd on Cheney

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Maureen Dowd has one of her better columns today in the New York Times. She is focused on Dick Cheney, and pulls no punches.

The first time [I saw Cheney this week] was Tuesday, when Cheney left the ceremony where he gave the oath of office to senators. The senators seemed thrilled, especially Joe Biden, who was getting sworn in for just two weeks and was excitedly showing off a family Bible the size of a Buick. But I thought it gave the ceremony a satirical edge to have the lawless Vice presiding over lawmakers swearing to support and defend the Constitution that he soiled and defiled — right in the heart of the legislative branch he worked to diminish.

The vamoosing Vice has no apologies about turning America into a country that tortured; indeed, he denies it ever happened. “Torture,” he told Barnes, “that word gets thrown around with great abandon.”

Frank Rich calls for Bush investigation

Frank Rich joins the call for some form of non-politicized investigation into alleged wrong-doing in the Bush Administration.

We could certainly do worse than another 9/11 Commission. Among those Americans still enraged about the Bush years, there are also calls for truth and reconciliation commissions, war crimes trials and, in a petition movement on Obama’s transition Web site, a special prosecutor in the Patrick Fitzgerald mode. One of the sharpest appointments yet made by the incoming president may support decisive action: Dawn Johnsen, a law professor and former Clinton administration official who last week was chosen to run the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice.

This is the same office where the Bush apparatchik John Yoo produced his infamous memos justifying torture. Johnsen is a fierce critic of such constitutional abuses. In articles for Slate last year, she wondered “where is the outrage, the public outcry” over a government that has acted lawlessly and that “does not respect the legal and moral bounds of human decency.” She asked, “How do we save our country’s honor, and our own?”

Bush's biggest success (UPDATED x 2)

I agree with Jacob Weisberg that George Bush has had one major success, buried among his large and numerous failings. That success was that his administration, for eight years, has kept secret the process of his decision making.

Probably the biggest question Bush leaves behind is about the most consequential choice of his presidency: his decision to invade Iraq. When did the president make up his mind to go to war against Saddam Hussein? What were his real reasons? What roles did various figures around him—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice—play in the actual decision? Was the selling of the war on the basis of WMD evidence a matter of conscious deception or of self-deception on their part?

Of course, part of that success, I think, has to do with the fact Bush’s decisions, especially the war in Iraq, were such collasal failures that no rational person will believe any explanation of the process of “decision-making,” even if such explanation is the truth.

Not be outdone by Jacob Weisberg, Fred Barnes rubs together his few thoughts, and lists what he calls 10 successes of the Bush Administration.  Steve Benen at Polictico pens the best response to Barnes.

UPDATE: More on this theme from the Libertarian Party.

UPDATE 2: Wonkette furnishes their own top 10 Bush list.

Bush’s biggest success (UPDATED x 2)

I agree with Jacob Weisberg that George Bush has had one major success, buried among his large and numerous failings. That success was that his administration, for eight years, has kept secret the process of his decision making.

Probably the biggest question Bush leaves behind is about the most consequential choice of his presidency: his decision to invade Iraq. When did the president make up his mind to go to war against Saddam Hussein? What were his real reasons? What roles did various figures around him—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice—play in the actual decision? Was the selling of the war on the basis of WMD evidence a matter of conscious deception or of self-deception on their part?

Of course, part of that success, I think, has to do with the fact Bush’s decisions, especially the war in Iraq, were such collasal failures that no rational person will believe any explanation of the process of “decision-making,” even if such explanation is the truth.

Not be outdone by Jacob Weisberg, Fred Barnes rubs together his few thoughts, and lists what he calls 10 successes of the Bush Administration.  Steve Benen at Polictico pens the best response to Barnes.

UPDATE: More on this theme from the Libertarian Party.

UPDATE 2: Wonkette furnishes their own top 10 Bush list.

A history of fraud

Why are instances of fraud seemingly everywhere these days? James Surowiecki, writing in The New Yorker, provides a good explanation: fraud rises in good times and is discovered in bad times.

An oversupply of credulity doesn’t last, of course; when the crash comes, and people get more cynical and cautious, the frauds are exposed. As Warren Buffett put it, “You only learn who’s been swimming naked when the tide goes out.”

Noonan and hero worship

Peggy Noonan’s latest piece for the WSJ argues that we should not idolize presidents, that they are just people who should be hired and fired by the voters based solely on their performance.  Hard to disagree with that view, actually. But has she always been consistent in this approach, or could it be related to the fact that a Democrat is now taking office, rather than a Republican?

Firedoglake examines the question. You can guess how it comes out.