Glenn Greenwald on Presidential Assassinations

Glenn Greenwald:

“To say that the President has the right to kill citizens without due process is really to take the constitution and to tear it up into as many little pieces as you can and then burn it and step on it.”

From Greenwald’s blog at Salon:

What amazes me most whenever I write about this topic is recalling how terribly upset so many Democrats pretended to be when Bush claimed the power merely to detain or even just eavesdrop on American citizens without due process. Remember all that? Yet now, here’s Obama claiming the power not to detain or eavesdrop on citizens without due process, but to kill them; marvel at how the hardest-core White House loyalists now celebrate this and uncritically accept the same justifying rationale used by Bush/Cheney (this is war! the President says he was a Terrorist!) without even a moment of acknowledgment of the profound inconsistency or the deeply troubling implications of having a President — even Barack Obama — vested with the power to target U.S. citizens for murder with no due process.

As Dakinikat posted in the comments to Minx’s evening post, a second U.S. citizen who was not on Obama’s assassination list was also murdered along with al-Awlaki. From bmaz at Emptywheel:

Awlaki was killed by a drone delivered Hellfire missile, via a joint CIA and JSOC operation, in the town of Kashef, in Yemen’s Jawf province, approximately 140 kilometres east of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. But not only Awlaki was killed, at least three others, including yet another American citizen, Samir Khan, were killed in the strike.

That’s right, not just one, but two, Americans were summarily and extrajudicially executed by their own government today, at the direct order of the President of the United States. No trial, no verdict, just off with their heads. Heck, there were not even charges filed against either Awlaki or Khan. And it is not that the government did not try either, there was a grand jury convened on Khan, but no charges. Awlaki too was investigated for charges at least twice by the DOJ, but non were found.

But at least Awlaki was on Barrack Obama’s “Americans That Are Cool to Kill List”. Not so with Samir Khan. Not only is there no evidence whatsoever Khan is on the classified list for killing (actually two different lists) my survey of people knowledgeable in the field today revealed not one who believed khan was on any such list, either by DOD or CIA.

So, the US has been tracking scrupulously Awlaki for an extended period and knew with certainty where he was and when, and knew with certainty immediately they had killed Awlaki and Khan. This means the US also knew, with certainty, they were going to execute Samir Khan.

I can’t even begin to describe how sickened I am by these murders of American citizens. President Obama is a murderer and a tyrant who is destroying the last vestiges of the Constitution of the United States. At least I don’t have to live with the horror of having voted for this evil man.


Sky Dancing Friday Evening News

Good Evening…It’s Friday!!!!

Dakinikat gave us some good news today, the Sky Dancing Blog is number 83 on Technorati’s US Politics Top 100 List…awesome! That means we have moved up another 10 spots in US Politics blogs. We have also moved up in the Top 100 Politics blog list as well, we are currently at 103. That is up 22 spots since last week.

Okay, for today I have a few links for you that you may have missed. Today’s news that Obama can add another assassination to his list of accomplishments should give those on the left, who still support him, the final kick in the ass. Obama is not a progressive democrat!  Let’s see what justifications the Villagers come up for his latest “Bushesque” move.  On Tennessee Guerilla Women: Jonathan Turley: Obama Is Worst President Ever On Civil Liberties

Speaking of President Obama’s unprecedented order of the targeted killing of U.S. citizens, Jonathan Turley weighs in (before today’s report of the successful Obama-ordered due-process-free assassination of a U.S. citizen) on President Obama’s status as “the most disastrous president in our history in terms of civil liberties:”

One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. .. It’s almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama’s position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. . It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama’s policies have become secondary to his persona.

For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. . . In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term. He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.

This was before the assassination we saw today…Hey, I realize the target was dangerous, but as a US citizen he deserved his right’s to due process.  I think this sets a huge precedent, and I find it disturbing to see news and legal pundits gloss over this fact.

That embed is not working too well, here is the direct link: Is our government really broken?

Jeffrey Toobin’s take on the legality of this assassination is in the first minute, you can watch the rest of his interview…When I saw this live earlier today, my first reaction was Toobin you are an idiot.  (Check out the things he says about Clarence Thomas.)

And as far as Obama is concerned, this next link should give you a laugh:  Chris Wallace Praises President Obama’s War On Terror During Fox News Segment | Mediaite

When news broke earlier this morning that a U.S. missile had reportedly killed Anwar al-Awlaki, most reporters were focused on the details (and ethical questions) surrounding the news. But by this afternoon, cable news analysts started to consider what sort of impact this story has on the world of politics. Case in point, Fox News’ Chris Wallace suggested to Studio B host Shep Smith that the so-called “war on terror” is a political strength for the Obama campaign, noting his administration has taken down the “two greatest threats to America.”

RELATED: Watch: President Obama Comments On Death Of Anwar al-Awlaki

Shep introduced the segment, and Wallace said of the president’s record on fighting terrorism in the context of a political strength or weakness (rough transcript provided by TVEyes):

Remember, this was the guy who, when he ran four years ago, Hillary Clinton was saying, “what happens if there is a phone call at 3:00 in the morning?” There was talk of his dealing with former terrorists and all of that and now when it comes to the war on terrorism President Obama legitimately looks like a tough guy stepping up involvement in Afghanistan and kept us in Iraq but he plans to have us out by the end the year, and he has greatly increased the number and the effectiveness of drone attacks and not only in Pakistan but now as we see in Yemen, and he has taken out, you could argue the two greatest threats to America, Osama bin Laden and al-Alwlaki.

Yes, Obama is getting praise from Fox News…what more can you say about that.

I also want to update you on a couple of PLUB news that was reported today.

Kansas – Judge Refuses to Block Abortion Law – NYTimes.com

A federal judge on Thursday declined to halt a Kansas law that limits the availability of insurance coverage for abortions. The American Civil Liberties Union had requested a temporary injunction against the law, which was approved by the Legislature this year, while the group fights the law in court. Judge Wesley Brown of Federal District Court said the A.C.L.U. of Kansas and Western Missouri had failed to prove its contention that the Legislature had approved the law to make it more difficult to receive abortions in the state. The law, which took effect in July, bars insurers from offering coverage for abortions as part of basic health plans. Exceptions are made if a woman’s life is at risk. A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled to be held next month.

I sure am glad I don’t live in Kansas…the PLUBs must be rejoicing this decision.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina: ACLU challeges new N.C. abortion law in court – latimes.com

The American Civil Liberties Union and four other groups sued to challenge a new North Carolina law requiring abortion providers to display and describe ultrasound images of a fetus.

The suit, filed in federal court Thursday, alleges that the statute violates the constitutional rights of women and healthcare providers and intrudes on women’s private lives.

“Politicians have no business forcing healthcare providers to push a political agenda on their patients,” Bebe Anderson, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which joined in the suit, said in a statement.

The statute, passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in July over the veto of Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, also requires a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

The suit seeks an injunction to block the law, which is set to take effect Oct. 26.

Sigh….

This last video link is a “feel good” story. Sarah Churman, 29, was born deaf and has used hearing aids all her life.  Deaf woman hears her voice with new hearing implant – The Feed – CBS News

Her husband shot this heartwarming video of activating her implant and “hearing myself for the first time.”

Sarah writes on her YouTube channel: “I had an implant put in 8 weeks ago called The Esteem Implant by Envoy Medical. I was born deaf and have worn hearing aids from the age of 2, but hearing aids only help so much. I have gotten by this long in life by reading lips. This was taken as they were activating the implant.”

The high-tech Esteem implant is embedded in her ear and works off of ear drum vibrations, unlike most hearing aids which use microphones and speakers. Sarah may have been able to hear some things before, but never like this. The joy and tears on her face can attest to that.

Have a wonderful Friday evening!


Today’s Successful Economies

Swedes are happier and more globally competitive than the US. Is this the real secret of blondes having more fun?

I wrote a blog post a while back about heaven having fjords. I’m very much interested in economics from a development standpoint so it’s always worthwhile checking out the top performers in the world for lessons.  It is also quite apparent when you do that Libertarian and Republican memes fail and fail badly.  It’s probably why we never hear these things in corporate media.

Societies are better when the pull together instead of pull apart.  The best performing countries in economics are the same countries that have a high commitment to public education and society at large.   The high performers–in economics, in health, and in education–are the Scandavian countries with their highly progressive tax rates, intense regulation of commerce and harmful activities and emphasis on making sure the rising tide rises all the boats rather than sinking a huge number of them to the benefit of the mega yachts.  These are also countries with parliamentary systems which makes them highly democratic. They’ve been winning consistently with the advent of the global economy.  The US has lost its position as leader of the developed nations and is moving way down into the losing positions below still developing nations. We could learn some lessons from Scandinavia.

Here’s Jeffrey Sachs at Project Syndicate with some things to think about in that vein. He has written a new book called The Price of Civilization which basically outlines the missteps that we’ve taken that were primarily started as a result of the election of Ronald Reagan. For some reason, many Americans don’t want to pay for some very simple modern facilities like roads, electric grids, airports, and railways.  They prefer to buy junk from China they probably don’t need in search of happiness in the form of hoarding and consuming.

Rather than respond to globalization with more government spending on education, infrastructure, and technology, Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980 by pledging to slash government spending and cut taxes.

For 30 years, the US has been going in the wrong direction, cutting the role of government in the domestic economy rather than promoting the investments needed to modernize the economy and workforce. The rich have benefited in the short run, by getting massive tax breaks. The poor have suffered from job losses and cuts in government services. Economic inequality has reached a high not seen since the Great Depression.

These adverse trends have been exacerbated by domestic politics. The rich have used their wealth to strengthen their grip on power. They pay for the expensive campaigns of presidents and congressmen, so presidents and congressmen help the rich – often at the expense of the rest of society.  The same syndrome – in which the rich have gained control of the political system (or strengthened their control of it) – now afflicts many other countries.

Sweden–as an example other than Norway who can use their oil to leverage their improvements–has been called an economic miracle.  After feeling the global recession, they are now growing GDP at rates that are twice to three times the averages of most industrial countries.  They are growing 5 times fasting than the US.   So, look at their numbers  there on the CIA Factbook and marvel where under the poverty rate comes the label: not applicable. Sweden blends capitalism with a social democracy in a way that makes the swedes the 6th most prosperous country on the planet.  They are above the US who is number 10.  They are behind  Norway, Denmark, Finland, Australia and New Zealand.  They are number 23 in GDP per capita  The US is number 11. They are also highly globally competitive ranking #3 in Global Competitiveness Index after Finland and Switzerland. The US is number 1o.

The Swedes are number 9  on the human development index.  We are number 4.  Norway is  number 1.  Sweden has high marginal tax rates (sometimes over 70%), very powerful unions, immigrants, and generous vacations and work weeks.  Under Republican fairy tales, Sweden and Norway should be worse off than Haiti.  Rather than looking at countries that are achieving great things and leaving us in the dust, we are grasping at a rigid ideology that is designed to tank us.

I haven’t read the Sachs book but I’m definitely putting it on my reading list. You may recall that this is also something Fareed Zakaria examines in his TV show, in books, and at TIME magazine. Here’s a good summary from a recent Time article.

The following rankings come from various lists, but they all tell the same story. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), our 15-year-olds rank 17th in the world in science and 25th in math. We rank 12th among developed countries in college graduation (down from No. 1 for decades). We come in 79th in elementary-school enrollment. Our infrastructure is ranked 23rd in the world, well behind that of every other major advanced economy. American health numbers are stunning for a rich country: based on studies by the OECD and the World Health Organization, we’re 27th in life expectancy, 18th in diabetes and first in obesity. Only a few decades ago, the U.S. stood tall in such rankings. No more. There are some areas in which we are still clearly No. 1, but they’re not ones we usually brag about. We have the most guns. We have the most crime among rich countries. And, of course, we have by far the largest amount of debt in the world.

We’re in the process of watching the Cat Food Commission Redux set our priorities for our future and its basically an agenda meant to downsize the American Dream for every one except the Mega Wealthy.  I hope that the Cheddar Revolution and the Occupy Wall Street movement turn into an American Spring Movement.  We have to regain the positive momentum towards modernity before the powers that be force us all back into a pre-civil war paradigm of laws, economic servitude, and society.

Meanwhile, as I write about these healthy economies, 90% of US citizens say our economy stinks and they are pretty unhappy about it. Its time to look at some best practices of other countries and dump the ideologues that keeping making the wrong decisions for us.


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I can hardly believe we’re headed into the last quarter of 2011.  Such  a year we’ve had!

So, the GOP is going after some of the things for which I will happily contribute tax dollars.  They’ve got some pretty whacked values as far as I’m concerned.

Setting a collision course with Democrats that could drag out for months, House Republicans on Thursday unveiled plans to cut federal money for job training, heating subsidies and grants to better-performing schools.

The draft measure for labor, health and education programs also seeks to block implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, cut off federal funds for National Public Radio and Planned Parenthood, and reduce eligibility for grants for low-income college students.

Democrats and tea party Republicans opposed the bill, blocking it from advancing through even the easy initial steps of the appropriations process on Capitol Hill. Instead of moving through the Appropriations Committee and the House as a whole, the $153 billion measure is instead expected to be wrapped into a larger omnibus spending bill this fall or winter that would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies.

Negotiations between Republicans controlling the House, the Democratic Senate and the White House are sure to be arduous. The measure is laced with conservative policy “riders” opposed by Democrats that would affect worker protections under federal labor laws and block the Education Department from enforcing rules on for-profit colleges that are often criticized for pushing students to take on too much debt.

“It looks like we’re in for a long, difficult process,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said excessive and wasteful spending over the years had put many programs and agencies on “an irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal path.”

Actually all of those Dubya Tax cuts and wars and letting Wall Street Run amok with speculation instead of investment is what put us on that “irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal path” and most of them voted for all of it.  I’m not willing to bail out any more of their donor base with my hard earned dollars by defunding the future of our children.  What on earth can we do about these evil people and the feckless dems that won’t fight them?

The court fights over the new health care law have been stepped up and SCOTUS has come into play in a big way.  Which of the justices are likely to uphold AEIcare-cum-ChafeeCare-cum-DoleCare-cum-RomneyCare-cum-Obamacare?

The four more liberal justices on the court — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Obama appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — should have no trouble reading the Constitution as bestowing broad powers on the federal government to regulate all manner of commerce. Although the court in recent years has pinched back congressional efforts to use the Commerce Clause to promulgate laws prohibiting guns near schools and those targeting violence against women, these were clearly non-commercial activities and quite different from the health-care law and its regulation of the medical insurance marketplace. Stronger and more directly applicable precedents remain, in which the court blessed the government’s regulation of wheat and marijuana production because these activities had an impact on interstate commerce.

The marijuana case (known formally as Gonzales v. Raich) may be particularly important because two of the more conservative justices — Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy — joined with their more liberal colleagues to uphold the law under the government’s Commerce Clause powers.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito — both George W. Bush appointees — shouldn’t be counted out either. Roberts and Alito joined an opinion in 2010 that recognized the government’s “broad authority” to enact a civil detention scheme for sexual predators under a different constitutional provision. This provision allows federal lawmakers “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” to uphold the powers assigned to Congress — including the power to regulate interstate commerce.

Michelle Bachmann’s campaign is running out of cash.  Even the NY Post thinks she may not make it to the Iowa Caucuses.

Will Michele Bachmann make it to Iowa? Insiders are whispering that the Tea Party darling’s financials are grim and she may be out of the race before she makes it to the Iowa caucus in February, even though she has a strong base in the state. Sources tell us say Bachmann’s skeletal staff are holding their collective breath until the deadline to disclose her fundraising report on Oct. 15. Meanwhile, we hear a computer vendor has called her campaign headquarters threatening to shut down the power due to an outstanding bill. Sources say she had about $400,000 at the beginning of September, but also stacks of bills. “She does not like to ask for money. She should have been focusing on big donors about three months ago,” a source said. “She’s only cultivated low dollar donors with direct mailings and that’s hurt her.” But at a rally in Virginia yesterday, Bachmann declared that she does not intend to back out of the race. “We intend to be the comeback kid in this race,” she said. Her rep said, “None of that is true.”

There’s a two part series at Bloomberg written by Collin Woodard on how the U.S. is really a country of regions.  Part One is here.   Part Two is here.  It’s a really interest read and something I have thought about for some time as I’ve tried to find some place in this country where I can live in peace.  For one, I’m trying to leave any region that’s described as bible buckle, bible belt, or bible anything!

Forget the state boundaries. Arbitrarily chosen, they often slash through cohesive cultures, creating massive cultural fissures in states like Maryland, Oregon and New York. Equally burdensome are the regional designations with which we try to analyze national politics — the Northeast, West, Midwest and South. They’re illusions masking the real forces driving the affairs of our sprawling continent: the 11 regional cultures of North America.

These 11 nations — Yankeedom, Tidewater, New Netherland, New France, Deep South, Greater Appalachia, the Midlands, First Nation, the Far West, the Left Coast, El Norte — have been hiding in plain sight throughout our history. You see them outlined on linguists’ dialect maps, cultural anthropologists’ maps of material culture regions, cultural geographers’ maps of religious regions, campaign strategists’ maps of political geography and historians’ maps of the patterns of settlement across the continent. I’m not the first person to have recognized the importance of these regional cultures. In 1969, Kevin Phillips, then a Republican campaign strategist, identified the distinct boundaries and values of several of these nations and used them to accurately prophesize the Reagan Revolution in his “Emerging Republican Majority,” a political cult classic.

More and more groups are joining the move to take on and occupy Wall Street. The New York Transportation Workers are the latest to announce they will join the protest today.

Occupy Wall Street has been picking up some decent support from unions in the past few days. Yesterday we reported that the Teamsters Union declared their support for protestors, and we also found out that the United Pilots Union had members at the protest demonstrating in uniform.

Today we learned the Industrial Workers of the World put a message of support on their website as well.

UPDATE: Verizon union workers have joined the protestors in NYC.

McClatchy reports that mortgage modification are still a mess even after four years. Quelle surprise!

Today there are at least 4.2 million homeowners who, like Palomo, are late on their mortgage payments or somewhere in the delinquency and foreclosure process. The first wave of foreclosures came during the 2008 financial crisis as subprime mortgages given to weak borrowers imploded. Now the subsequent economic downturn and high unemployment keep housing depressed.

The administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama both offered incentives for lenders to help homeowners modify their mortgages. Those efforts haven’t achieved much.

And four years into the housing crisis, banks and their bill collectors, known as mortgage servicers, are still under fire for their response to troubled borrowers.

“I would say they are somewhat better than they were three years ago, but still woefully inadequate to meet the demand, given the still remarkably high levels of distressed borrowers they are attempting to deal with,” said Paul Leonard, director of the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending, a Durham, N.C.-based advocacy group.

From December 2009 through June, more than 1.6 million government-backed mortgage modifications had been started, but only 791,000 became permanent. These numbers remain well below the goal of 4 million modifications that the Obama administration set for itself.

That should give you a few juicy bits to chew on with some coffee!! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Donald Rumsfeld’s Book Event Spurs Protests in Boston

Former Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stopped by Boston on Monday night to sell his book. The event was disrupted by protesters who heckled Rumsfeld and attempted to make a citizen’s arrest for war crimes. From WCVB Channel 5 in Boston:

Several protesters tried to disrupt a forum with Rumsfeld at the Old South Meeting House, shouting and holding up signs as most of the audience shouted and booed them down.

“I went down in front and looked Donald Rumsfeld in the eye and said, ‘I’m making a citizen’s arrest,’ said protester Nate Goldschlag, a member of the group Veterans for Peace, who had to buy Rumsfeld’s book to get into the event.

“He lied us into Iraq. He lied about weapons of mass destruction. He lied about Saddam Hussein being involved in 9/11,” Goldschlag said.

Four demonstrators were dragged out of the hall by police and one person was arrested outside the building for assaulting an officer with a bullhorn, police said.

The event was sponsored by right wing talk radio station WRKO, which explains why most of the 300 people there were supportive of Rumsfeld. Unfortunately for the protesters, they had to purchase copies of Rummy’s book in order to get into the event.

It did my heart good to learn about this little demonstration–sorry I’m a little late finding this story. Here are some videos from and about the event: