19 January, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

On Bush's last day in office, it seems fitting we lead off with a story about those "hardcore" detainees he's still got locked up in Gitmo:

Describing the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Dick Cheney said last week, "[N]ow what's left, that is the hardcore." This is consistent with the line from the Bush White House, which has always maintained that those held at the facility are "the worst of the worst."

And yet, there's ample evidence to the contrary. Since November, at least 24 detainees -- roughly 10% of the population of the detention camp -- have been found to have been wrongly held by the Bush administration. The latest painful story is that of Haji Bismullah.

For nearly six years, Haji Bismullah, an Afghan detainee at Guantanamo Bay, has insisted that he was no terrorist, but had actually fought the Taliban and had later been part of the pro-American Afghan government.

Over the weekend, the Bush administration flew him home after a military panel concluded that he "should no longer be deemed an enemy combatant."


The United States kept this man detained for nearly six years. He was on our side, a fact that our allies were prepared to corroborate -- and did corroborate in 2006.

In 2009, on the way out the door, Bush finally gets around to admitting that, you know what, not everybody left in Gitmo deserves to be there.

I can't wait to see these assholes go.

But not everybody's happy to usher the new administration in:
Iowa Politics reports that tomorrow after President-elect Obama’s inaugural parade and swearing-in ceremony, Iowa’s congressional delegation will be hosting a reception in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Attending will be the state’s two senators and four of the five representatives — with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) refusing to participate:
That’s right, four — not all five. U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Kiron Republican known for his warning that the election of Barack Obama would lead to terrorists “dancing in the streets,” declined to participate, according to congressional aides.

He has a cute little bullshit excuse meant to make him look like the taxpayers' hero. Forgive me if I don't believe one fucking word.

And the idiot white supremacists are making as much noise as they can:

We're already aware that the white-supremacist crowd is already creating a higher level of security concerns surrounding Barack Obama's inauguration.

So somehow it probably figures that Sean Hannity's old pal Hal Turner would be out there leading the parade of nutcases making threats around the events.

According to Mark Potok at the SPLC, Turner has gone public this week with his threats:

On Friday, neo-Nazi threatmeister Hal Turner, amplifying on an earlier posting suggesting that it would be a good thing to use an unmanned drone carrying explosives to attack the crowds, said a mass murder of those attending the festivities “would be a public service.” “I won’t say what may happen Tuesday but I will say this,” Turner wrote on his blog. “After Tuesday, the name Hal Turner may live in infamy. Let it be known that I saw what was necessary and decided to do what had to be done. I make no apology to those affected or their families.”

That, my darlings, is called making terroristic threats. It is, oddly enough, not covered under free speech laws. I have a feeling Hal's about to get a visit from the Feds, and he's not going to enjoy it very much.

I hear there's an opening in Gitmo....

Of course, the Feds may be laughing too hard to take him in, as the above post assures us:
Well, fortunately, Turner is not someone to take seriously, any more than gay-basher Fred Phelps. He's made numerous threats in the past, and all have been just so much gasbaggery. Moreover, he has a nonexistent following, especially after it was revealed he had been doing federal-informant work, which pretty much destroys your cred in white-power circles.

Still and all, threatening to attack your new President and the crowds there to see him sworn in probably isn't going to win any friends in the law enforcement community. I hear the Secret Service rather likes Obama, which means they probably rather don't like people like Hal. Oops.

So aside from snivelling Cons who won't go to parties and white supremacists who want to bring weapons, how're things looking as far as peace and harmony in D.C. go? Ooo, not too good:

Senate Republicans, frustrated over the answers they say they're not getting from Rep. Hilda L. Solis, may try to block her confirmation as Barack Obama's secretary of labor.

"She answered no questions," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "If she won't answer the questions, how can you support the nomination?" During the California Democrat's Jan. 9 confirmation hearing, Solis repeatedly told senators that she could not speak for the incoming Obama administration on the card check bill, and she told Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that she was "not qualified" to speak about maintaining right-to-work laws that prohibit workers from paying union dues as a condition of employment.

"These aren't positions that you're allowed not to have an opinion," Wyoming Sen. Michael Enzi, the ranking Republican on the committee, told Politico. "These are extremely critical things that she was asked about. Each of the people that asked questions from the Republican side asked about different areas of labor law and wondered what she was going to do. And we still don't know."


Democrats dispute the GOP criticism, saying Solis has been forthcoming and that nominees typically have certain limitations on what they can discuss since they work at the behest of the president.

"Our Republican friends have posed numerous questions and the secretary-designate has responded quickly and thoroughly to each one," said one Democratic committee staffer.

Well, they haven't managed to start a stink with Holder, so I guess they figured they'd better start obstructing someone else. It's how they roll. Too bad for the obstructionists that there's plenty of other, somewhat more mature Republicans ready to vote in Solis's favor.

In last-minute pardon news, Bush gives a big fuck-you to the immigrant community:
I knew we'd see more pardons.

President George W. Bush has commuted the prison sentences of two former Border Patrol guards whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited debate about illegal immigration.

Bush's act of clemency on Monday for Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean was a victory for Democratic and Republican members of Congress and others who pleaded with the president to pardon the men or at least commute their sentences.

Ramos and Compean are each serving sentences of more than 10 years for shooting an unarmed illegal immigrant as he was fleeing an abandoned marijuana load in 2005, then trying to cover it up.

Of all of Bush's end-of-presidency clemency decisions, this is easily the biggest.

As Dafna Linzer explained a while back, Ramos and Compean "are serving sentences of 11 and 12 years, respectively, for the nonfatal shooting in the back of an unarmed Mexican drug runner in February 2005. A jury found the two border patrolmen then tried to cover up the shooting."

And also a big fuck-you to Scooter and his fans:

Today is President Bush’s last full day in office, and according to Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, he has decided not to pardon Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby for his role in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. The move has left many conservatives very disappointed:

“I’m flabbergasted,” said one influential Republican activist, who had raised the issue with White House aides, but who asked not to be identified criticizing the president.

Ambassador Richard Carlson, the vice chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neo-conservative think tank, added that he too was “shocked” at Bush’s denial of a pardon for Libby.

“George Bush has always prided himself on doing the right thing regardless of the polls or the pundits,” Carlson said. “Now he is leaving office with a shameful cloud over his head.”

Funny. I thought he was already leaving with a shameful cloud over his head. You mean to tell me the neocons are just now noticing that?

Silly, aren't they?

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