Cheney: How The Grinch Stole Festivus!

• “I’m not talking about the actual country. I’m talking about the idea of America. The idea of America would never torture.” —Stephen Colbert

20 key findings about CIA interrogations from the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released December 2014 (NY TImes):
1 (torture) “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence”
2 “rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness”
3 “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented”
4 “conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher
5 “repeatedly provided inaccurate information”
6 “actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight”
7 “impeded effective White House oversight”
8 “complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions”
9 “impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General”
10 “coordinated the release of classified information to the media”
11 “unprepared as it began operating”
12 “deeply flawed throughout the program's duration”
13 “overwhelmingly outsourced operations”
14 “coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved”
15 “did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained”
16 “failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness
17 “rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable
18 “ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections”
19 “inherently unsustainable
20 “damaged the United States' standing in the world”
source: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/cia-interrogation-report/key-findings/

• Watch video below: “Dick Cheney's Mind Is 'The Scariest F--king Place In The Universe,' Says Jon Stewart” (after short ad)

• “(The CIA Torture Report confirms that) the CIA's actions a decade ago are a stain on our values and on our history.” —Senator Dianne Feinstein

• ”We didn't treat the Nazis like this. We didn't' treat the Vietcong like this. This is something that is without precedent in American history." —CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin

• “The Torture Convention (effective 1987) prohibits the United States from deporting an individual to a country where there is a reasonable expectation that he will be subjected to torture — physical, mental or otherwise. —Jonathan Shapiro

• “The purpose of torture is not getting information. It's spreading fear.” —Eduardo Galeano

• “There is still much debate about whether torture has been effective in eliciting information - the assumption being, apparently, that if it is effective, then it may be justified.” —Noam Chomsky

• “Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. —Late Senator Edward Kennedy

• Watch below: Former President George W. Bush interviewed by Matt Lauer: Bush: "Look, first, we used the technique on three people. captured a lot of people and used it on three. we gained valuable information to protect the country, and it was the right thing to do, as far as i'm concerned."

• “One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture.” —Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge

• “We are America; we don't torture. And the moment that is not the case, I want off the train.” — Fox News anchor Shepard Smith

• "We tortured some folks…We did some things that were contrary to our values." —Barack Obama

• “Torture didn’t just happen, after all – contrary to the president’s recent statement, “we” didn’t torture some folks. Real actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the U.S. government … It is bad enough not to prosecute these officials – but to reward or promote them and risk the integrity of the U.S. government to protect them is incomprehensible. The president needs to purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program. He needs to force a cultural change at the CIA.” —Outgoing Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Senate Intelligence Committee

• Watch below: Former VP Dick Cheney: "I have no problem (with torture) as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and to avoid another attack against the United States. I was prepared and we did, we got the authorization from the president and authorization from the justice department to go forward with the program. it worked. It worked now for 13 years. We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States ... I'd do it again in a minute".

• Watch below: Former POW, Senator John McCain speaks out against torture:

• Watch below: Senator Dianne Feinstein discusses release of the CIA Torture Report:

•” When you send the signal, as the Obama administration did, that torture is not a crime that ought to be punished, it's just a policy dispute that you argue about on Sunday shows, of course it emboldens torturers like Dick Cheney to go around and say, 'What I did was absolutely right.’” —Glenn Greenwald 

Rosa Parks Can't Breathe

• On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York after a police officer put him in a chokehold, a tactic banned by NYPD. Garner was initially approached by officer Justin Damico on suspicion of selling "loosies", single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. While lying facedown on the sidewalk surrounded by four officers, Garner is heard repeating "I can't breathe" 11 times. Garner was pronounced dead an hour later at the hospital. —wikipedia

• “The coroner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. He suffered from asthma, and Pantaleo’s chokehold killed him.” —Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

• “Garner’s death is part of a … trend: The ‘broken windows’ theory of policing, which holds that cracking down on minor, nuisance offenses — such as selling loose cigarettes — is key to reducing serious crime.'"—Eugene Robinson

 President Obama in Rosa Parks' seat on the historic Cleveland bus

President Obama in Rosa Parks' seat on the historic Cleveland bus

• President Obama has refrained from direct comments about the merits of the Eric Garner and Micheal Brown (Ferguson) legal cases, but endorses Attorney General Eric Holder's civil rights investigation into Garner's death. 

• "I'm being pretty explicit about my concern ... about the fact that this is a systemic problem … I’ll leave it for people to speculate on what I’m saying to myself or Michelle when we’re alone at night.” —President Obama, 12.8.14

• Watch 60-second video below: George W. Bush, Joe Scarborough and Charles Krautheimer agree the Garner tape is persuasive:

• “Only 1 in 20 white (police) officers believe that blacks and other minorities receive unequal treatment from the police. But 57 percent of black officers are convinced the treatment of minorities is unfair.” —David Brooks, New York Times

• Below: CBS News poll Dec. 2014: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/michael-brown-and-eric-garner-the-police-use-of-force-and-race/

• In the absence of official statistics, it is estimated there are as many as 1,000 police killings in the U.S. each year — compared to no fatal police shootings in Great Britain last year and only eight in Germany over the last two years. Canada, with its own frontier ethos and no great aversion to firearms, averages only a dozen police shootings a year. —Eugene Robinson (paraphrased)

Privacy Means Bupkis These Days

• “Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn't be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet.” —Gary Kovacs, Former CEO, Mozilla

• “I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” —Eric Schmidt

• “Anytime Facebook wants to change how it might use all that data about you, in any way, across any service it has within the Facebook ecosystem, all it has to do is change one privacy policy, tell you about it, and that's that.” —John Battelle, Tech journalist

• "Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds." —John Perry Barlow, Writer/Activist

• "Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" —Al Gore

• "It's become something of a ritual - every year, Google publishes its year-end summary of what the world wants, and every year I complain about how shallow it is, given what Google really knows about what the world is up to." —John Battelle

 “"Eric Schmidt likes to point out that if you recorded all human communication from the dawn of time to 2003, it takes up about five billion gigabytes of storage space. Now (2012) we're creating that much data every two days.” —Eli Pariser 

Calvin, Hobbes & Mitch McConnell

     Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  Senate Majority Leader  as of January 2015     Washington Post 11.4.14

    Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader as of January 2015     Washington Post 11.4.14

 Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

• "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."  —H.L. Mencken

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

• “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” —George Carlin

• “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” —wall poster by Despair, inc. 

 Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

• “Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?” —Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Watterson

• “Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.” —Albert Camus

Political Warning Signs

 fizzdom.com political warning signs politics boehner mcdonnell election republicans

Mid-term prognostications courtesy of Andy Borowitz/The Borowitz Report/New Yorker 10.29.14:

• With just one week to go until the midterm elections, a new poll indicates that billionaires are likely to retain control of the United States government.

• Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota, said that next Tuesday should be “a big night for oligarchs” and that both houses of Congress can be expected to grovel at the feet of their money-gushing paymasters for at least the next two years.

• Calling the billionaires’ upcoming electoral romp “historic,” Logsdon said, “We have not seen the super-rich maintain such a vise-like grip on the government since the days immediately preceding the French Revolution.”


Mid-term prognostications courtesy of www.vox.com 10.26.14

"What will the GOP Senate do?

  • According to forecasts, the Republicans have about a 68 percent chance of retaking the Senate.
    [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The case that it'll amount to absolutely nothing: "The political roadblocks that have made legislating all but impossible during Obama’s second term aren’t going away. The 114th Congress will probably look a lot like the 113th."
    [New Republic / Danny Vinik]
  • The case that it'll amount to something: "There's one big thing that changes the moment Republicans win Senate: nominations."
    [Vox / Ezra Klein]
  • The House's #2 Republican, Kevin McCarthy, wants to start before the GOP Senate's even in office: "He would like to use the lame-duck session to pass a long-term government-funding bill, so Washington can begin focusing on big-picture legislating, instead of just trying to keep government’s doors open."
    [Politico / Jake Sherman]
  • But Ramesh Ponnuru thinks that's nuts: "McCarthy will be asking Republicans to give up some of their control over the budget in that period by working with a Democratic Senate that's on its way out. Does that sound like something that conservatives in Congress will meekly accept?"
    [Bloomberg / Ramesh Ponnuru]
  • Jon Chait is doubtful: "As the Senate majority leader in 2005, McConnell himself threatened to eliminate the judicial filibuster when Democrats started blocking George W. Bush’s federal court picks."
    [NY Mag / Jonathan Chait]

  •  Meanwhile, anonymous Democrats are worried the GOP will lock up the House for the rest of the decade: "if the Republicans pick up 10 seats or more, then we will have no chance of getting the House back in 2016, and that means we are done until 2020."[Financial Times / Richard McGregor]"

(Thx Jim Palam for "Enough Already" no-bull signage)

Scary-As-Hell Creatures

 Above: “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park” (1962) by Diane Arbus. In 2005 an original print of the photograph sold for $408,000.

Above: “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park” (1962) by Diane Arbus. In 2005 an original print of the photograph sold for $408,000.

 www.marcjohns.com/

www.marcjohns.com/

 Source: TheFunnyPlace.net

Source: TheFunnyPlace.net

• Below: For Trick or Treaters who fail to wear an actual costume, are over 16, or fail to say "Thank you" or "No problem."

 Source: unknown from tumblr

Source: unknown from tumblr

  Atlantic.com photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder

Atlantic.com photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder

Churchill's Scathing Sense of Humor

 fizzdom.com winston churchill england british stafford cripps virtues vices sense of humor

Quotes by Sir Winston “Winnie” Leonard Spencer-Churchill (11.30.1874 - 1.24.1965)
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 1940-45, 1951-55

 source: notable-quotes.com

source: notable-quotes.com

"He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened." (re: Conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin)

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.”

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”

"He has, more than any other man, the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought." (re: Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald)

“I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

"If you wanted nothing done, Arthur Balfour was the best man for the task. There was no equal to him." (re: Conservative Prime Minister Arthur Balfour)

 With wife, Clementine

With wife, Clementine

“My wife and I tried two or three times in the last 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.”

"In defeat, unbeatable; in victory, unbearable." (re: Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery)

 Winston and wife Clementine (left), Lawrence of Arabia (3rd from left)

Winston and wife Clementine (left), Lawrence of Arabia (3rd from left)

"An empty taxi arrived at 10 Downing Street and when the door was opened Attlee got out." (re: Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee)

“A joke is a very serious thing.”

Bankers Too Big To Jail

• Below: Eric Holder testifies that some corporations may be too big to prosecute.

• As alluded to above, the so-called "Holder memo" written during his earlier tenure at DOJ allows wiggle room for corporate execs to dodge prosecution if that might cause "collateral consequences" to the national or world economy.

• Below: Eric Holder with NBC's Pete Williams (11.2013) in a Bill Moyers & Company video (10.4.14). White-collar criminologist Bill Black, author of "The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One," calls the DOJ's inaction "the greatest strategic failure in the history of the Department of Justice."

• Below: President Robert Weissman of watchdog group Public Citizen describes the poor track record of Eric Holder's DOJ regarding criminal prosecutions for corporate crimes.

• "(Eric Holder's) tenure has proven unhelpful to the five million victims of mortgage abuses in the US." —David Dayen, the guardian.com

• Below: Watch investigative journalist Matt Taibbi's reporting on the massive rip-off by white collar criminals "no longer appropriate for jail."

• “Friends and former colleagues ... say it would be no surprise if (Holder) returned to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he spent years representing corporate clients." —NPR

• "A large chunk of Covington & Burling’s corporate clients are mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of AmericaLanny Breuer, who ran the criminal division for Holder’s Justice Department, already returned to work there." —NPR

• "The Wall Street Journal found that the Justice Department only collects around 25% of the fines they impose ... The DoJ’s Inspector General ... found that DoJ deprioritized mortgage fraud, making it the 'lowest-ranked criminal threat' from 2009-2011."—David Dayen, the guardian.com

• Amy Goodman (host of "Democracy Now"): "Who was tougher on corporate America, President Obama or President Bush?"

 Matt Taibbi: "Oh, Bush, hands down. And this is an important point to make, because if you go back to the early 2000s, think about all these high-profile cases: Adelphia, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen. All of these companies were swept up by the Bush Justice Department. And what’s interesting about this is that you can see a progression. If you go back to the savings and loan crisis in the late '80s, which was an enormous fraud problem, but it paled in comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, we put about 800 people in jail during ... that crisis. You fast-forward 10 or 15 years to the accounting scandals, like Enron and Adelphia and Tyco, we went after the heads of some of those companies. It wasn't as vigorous as the S&L prosecutions, but we at least did it. ... We’re now in a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal."

Department of Whining:
"
One would be hard put to identify an Attorney General who so explicitly turned the Justice Department into a political weapon ... The financial settlements that Holder Justice squeezed out of major banks are Exhibit A. Massive fines were imposed on J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America explicitly as punishment for the 2008 financial crisis. No matter how unprovable the charges, the banks settled because they couldn't endure the continuing political risk of even more severe punishment. President Obama bragged about punishing financial institutions throughout his 2012 re-election campaign." —Wall Street Journal editorial, September 2014

• Latest news: JPMorgan whistleblower featured in new Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. Watch them interviewed by Chris Hayes on 11.10.14 below:

High Price of Free Speech

 Caricatured above: Jack Weinberg holding log; Mario Savio as Cal Man; thx 4 quote David Jouris

Caricatured above: Jack Weinberg holding log; Mario Savio as Cal Man; thx 4 quote David Jouris

• The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a student protest at UC Berkeley in 1964-65 resisting the ban against on-campus political activities and other archaic restrictions of the repressed post-WW2 era. FSM leaders included Mario Savio, Michael Rossman, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg —Wikipedia

• The FSM, an outgrowth of civil rights and anti-war activism, marked a revolutionary national shift from paternalistic oversight by college administrators to the current era allowing on-campus political activities, free speech and academic freedom. —Wikipedia

  Source: Thx L.S. and Curtis Mekemson — wandering-through-time-and-place.me

 Source: Thx L.S. and Curtis Mekemson — wandering-through-time-and-place.me

• Below: Major tipping point 10.1.64: Jack Weinberg's arrest for on-campus political activism: manning a table to raise funds for the Congress of Racial Equality. 

“The car was held hostage for 32 hours. With Jack inside, the police car became the platform for a continual rally. Art Goldberg and his sister Jackie, both experienced student activists, were the leaders of the United Front (campus activist coalition), but from the top of the car new people emerged who captured the loyalty of the crowd. Mario Savio, a junior who had transferred from Queens, New York the year before, was soon recognized as the most charismatic speaker.” —Jo Freeman, JoFreeman.com

  Jack Weinberg  under arrest. Photo:  Occident,  thx Curtis Mekemson

Jack Weinberg under arrest. Photo: Occident, thx Curtis Mekemson

• "We have a saying in the movement that we don’t trust anybody over 30." —Jack Weinberg (1965 interview with San Francisco Chronicle reporter; many others co-opted the phrase). 

• Below: Mario Savio (12.8.42 - 11.6.96), iconic leader of the FSM, most famous for his revolutionary speech (excerpted here, two months after his speech atop the police car) at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza 12.2.64.

A 1999 report revealed that Savio was followed and investigated by the FBI for more than a decade “because he had emerged as a prominent leader,” although there was not evidence he was a real threat. The FBI justified their pursuit “because they thought he could inspire students to rebel.” (SF Chronicle)

• Below: Overview of the FSM from the doc, "Berkeley in the Sixties"

• "The rights you enjoy on this (Berkeley) campus did not come easily. They had to be won by unrelenting agitation, by disturbing the peace, and much of the credit belongs to a generation of UC students often denigrated for their excesses." —Leon Litwick, activist, UCB professor emeritus of American history and Pulitzer Prize winner, who quit his campus library job in 1965 to protest the UC system's loyalty oath. 

 The  five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment  to the U.S. Constitution, shown on wall of the Newseum in Washington, DC. Photo: Cirt/ikipedia

The five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, shown on wall of the Newseum in Washington, DC. Photo: Cirt/ikipedia

• "You (President Obama) recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government. You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in. —Joint letter to President Obama from most major professional journalism associations, 7.8.14

• Example: "US Military Banned From Reading (Pulitizer-winning journalist) Glenn Greenwald's New Website" https://firstlook.org/theintercept/ — David Gilbert, International Business Times, 8.21.14

• “When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” —Thomas Jefferson

 Thomas Jefferson updated - from Ludwig von Mises Institiute

Thomas Jefferson updated - from Ludwig von Mises Institiute

• “No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, journalist and author (b. 1941) 

• “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” ―Oscar Wilde (paraphrasing Voltaire)

Speaking of the high price of free speech on campus:

• “Thanks to intense bank lobbying, student loans are uniquely punitive. Most can’t be refinanced, which means that people who borrowed at 8 percent in the 1990s are still paying 8 percent (when banks are paying almost zero). Unlike other loans, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, and a borrower’s salary, Social Security and even disability checks can be garnished.” _Barbara Gerson, SF Chronicle

  Wall Street Journal  Graphic

Wall Street Journal Graphic


Powerful Primates Misbehavin'

 • First four quotes from  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's book,   “Off the Sidelines,”  a "part-memoir, part rallying cry for women to get involved in politics." Final "f*ck" quote from Huffpost interview.

• First four quotes from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's book, “Off the Sidelines,” a "part-memoir, part rallying cry for women to get involved in politics." Final "f*ck" quote from Huffpost interview.

• "It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s," she says. "They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general." — Senator Gillibrand

• Below: Watch Jon Stewart on the Gillibrand revelations and reactions from female journalists:

• “We all had our stories of whom you’d not get in an elevator with and whom you’d protect your young female interns from.” —NBC/MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell

• “They know who they are.” —House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

• "After I had my son three years ago, I got some comments that would blow you away from male senators...talking about getting my figure back and things like that.” —CNN correspondent Dana Bash

• “There’s a lot at stake for men and women who come forward to talk about a hostile environment and workplace harassment. Retaliation is very real, and it could come in the form of losing your job altogether or your boss making life your life terrible by controlling which job assignments you get, and whether you get a promotion or the pay you deserve. It could even take the form of additional sexual harassment. That’s why some people don’t want to pay the price for speaking out.” —Fatima Goss Graves, National Women’s Law Center

• “Up to 60 percent of people who experience harassment in the workplace don’t report it … But the majority happen in low-wage workplaces like the restaurant and agricultural industries, where workers have the fewest protections and can least afford to lose their job. —Fatima Goss Graves