Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Its Tuesday, let's laugh at conservatives! (Torture Update)

John Yoo & Others: Europe calls for arrest for war crimes

Thanks to the Impolitic Blog & Jay McDonough for talking about this.

Those that have been following the Bush administration's legacy of war crimes through the use of legal memos written by John Yoo & others, giving the Executive Branch carte blanche to torture anyone, US Citizen or not, and throw them into a legal blackhole and deny any and all rights. In fact, those memos gave the Bush Administration (and any subsequent administration) authority to overturn Congress, the Supreme Court, and the US Constitution and its amendments in its search for terrorists, even if the suspects are US Citizens. Goodbye, habeas corpus, hello Gestapo!!

Anyway, Spain is just a little bit pissed off about the US committing these war crimes. Especially when the US tortured one of their citizens for information when he was charged with terrorism, but later realized he was innocent and sent him home. That didn't go over so well in Spain. They know torture when they see it, especially with their history blighted with the Inquisition. The Chief Magistrate in the case, Judge Baltasar Garzón, is Europe's best known counterterrorism judges. He has been involved in prosecuting the Basque terrorist group, ETA, as well as al Qaeda affiliated groups residing in Spain and Morocco, as well as the prosecution of former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

Under Magistrate Garzón, the Spanish court has forbidden cooperation with anything associated with Guantanamo Bay. After further investigation, Spain is likely to issue arrest warrants for many top Bush legal aids, including lawyer John Yoo and the Former Chief of Staff & Legal Counsel to Vice President Cheney, David Addington for drafting those memos. If those warrants are issued, John Yoo and David Addington would be barred from travel to Europe, since almost all of Europe is part of the European Extraditions Convention (and outside of that, most countries do formal extradition with Europe). If they were to step foot in Europe they would be prosecuted for war crimes.

Looks like we might finally be looking at some justice. Too bad no one has put Bush and Cheney on the list yet. That would be nice to see. We just might, though, with the news that even more damning evidence that the Bush admin tried to hide will be released. A New York federal judge has ordered the CIA to release all evidence about the torture that took place and the rationale for doing do. They have until April 9th to begin releasing the information.

Monday, March 30, 2009

In Memory of Benjamin J. Hawkins.

One year ago today, at 5:30pm on March 30th, Benjamin J. Hawkins passed away in a freak accident.

From the Newberg Graphic article released a few days after:

Hawkins and his wife, Rachel, both of Newberg, were traveling east on Bell Road around 5 p.m. Sunday, officials said. The road was covered with about one inch of ice and hail and, while coming over a rise in the road, Hawkins lost control of his vehicle and slid off an embankment...The 2001 Hyundai crashed into a tree on the property of Kevin and Nancy Kinney, between Wilkerson Way and Zimri Drive. Ben and Rachel Hawkins were not injured in the crash and got out of the vehicle. They were standing in the ditch, assessing the damage, when a second vehicle came over the rise, similarly lost control and traveled into the ditch, striking Ben Hawkins.

Kevin Kinney, a Newberg attorney, said he was downstairs in his house when he heard his wife "screaming to call 9-1-1." After placing the call, he filled his car with blankets and drove to meet her at the end of their long driveway. "I saw the two cars ... and somewhere in between the two there was a man laying on the ground and a woman screaming hysterically, `Help him, help him, help him,'" he said. Although "it had been awhile" since his CPR training, he dropped to the ground and began attempting to resuscitate Hawkins until the paramedics arrived...Although "his chest was going up and down" in response to the CPR, Kinney said, Hawkins "had a huge gash on his head (and) was never responsive physically." Kinney said paramedics were able to find a pulse and moved Hawkins into an ambulance, but "never drove off." Paramedics pronounced Hawkins dead at the scene.

One year later, it still hurts just as much as it did the day I found out.

Our hearts are heavy and light.
We laugh and scream and sing.
Our hearts are heavy and light.

One year later, our hearts show scars that will never fade.

One year later, his legacy still inspires us.

In Loving Memory of Benjamin Jay Hawkins
March 3rd, 1982 - March 30th, 2008

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Republican party is CLUELESS...

...and why I'm an angry (almost)ex-republican.

The Republicans are critizing Obama's plans for....well everything. They have nothing good to say about him or his policies, any of them. But when the President asks for any alternatives, they just complain futher about socialism or more tax cuts for the rich. WTF? Why?! Oh yeah, the rich that "create" jobs. That may have been true in Reagan's time...but now the rich only create jobs in India and other countries (can you say outsourcing?)

Oh wait, the republicans do have an idea! Impeach Obama and the Dems in Congress because their plans haven't worked yet! Its Obama's fault! Riiiiiiiight. Put the Republicans back in power. Because the last 8 years haven't been damaging enough. You know, two wars and a doubled deficit, and then a stock market crash. Right. Its all Obama's fault.

I'm not a Democrat, either. I don't like some of Obama's policies. But at least he's trying something new. Unlike the tired old "Reaganomics" that the Republicans keep proposing that only worked during Reagan's presidency. In fact, the Republicans let a short term solution that got the US out of a specific recession and turned it into a macro-solution for every problem. I used to like the Republican party. But now they have to blame a new President who has tried to reach across the aisle, who is trying some new things, and blame the economy on him, instead of looking inward and seeing that in the last 29 years, we've had a Republican in the White House for 22 years of them. And oh yea, didn't the deficit spending decrease under Clinton's budget proposals and the public debt increase only slightly (due to interest) while falling as a percentage of GDP? I'm no Clinton fan. I feel that he wasted a ton of his presidency fooling around with Monica and then lying about it. But at least, for a time, he did something and we prospered. But under the last Republican Presidency of eight years and Republican Congress of six, we have gone nowhere. (Except, of course, in doubled deficit-land, Afghanistan, Iraq, and a flooded Katrina superdome)...

What happened, Republican party? You used to stand for something. Under Reagan, you had some new ideas that got us out of a recession. You used to have leaders. Now what do you have? Rush Limbaugh, Jindal, and Palin?

I'm not a Democrat. But I'm sure as hell not a Republican anymore.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Obama: Nationalize AIG or let it fail.

I read a great editorial today by Jack Cafferty, in which he says regarding the bank bailouts that I believe is applicable to the current controversy over AIG:

"Either nationalize the big ones in trouble or let them fail. It doesn't seem that just continuing to hand them money is working."

So let's talk about this. Tao discusses how AIG is circulating a "Doomsday Memo" about how our economy would collapse if we let them fail. I'm not so sure, because we just keep pouring in money and nothing seems to be getting better. We already own 80% of it! If we own 80% of it, let's just buy it and fix the thing ourselves!

Tao continues:

"It was the government's job -- as the primary lenders and financiers of these essentially bankrupt companies -- to dictate the rules of the game. Of course, they could have put strings on that money. They could have capped bonuses, or salaries overall. They could have capped it for everybody, instead of just the top five or twenty-five executives. They could have taken these companies into bankruptcy, where the executives would not be legally entitled to their salaries or bonuses.Yet, they did none of these things. Instead, AIG executives will walk away with $450 million in bonuses -- at a company that was such a colossal failure that it lost $99.3 billion last year and required a $170 billion taxpayer bailout. Worse yet, the executives in the division that caused this epic meltdown will get $165 million in bonuses."

...if these corporations are too big to fail, then they are too big to exist: a proposition also agreed to by the populists and progressives of the late 1800s/early 1900s, by Abe Lincoln, by Teddy Roosevelt, by FDR, by Harry Truman....understood that corporations that grow too enormous threaten our economy and our democracy, and should be broken up into smaller entities that can't do so much damage when they are mismanaged. The era of bank consolidation has to come to an end, and these monsters need to be broken into smaller companies just like Standard Oil was in the early 1900s. Ironically, some of our tax dollars were actually used by these bank conglomerates to buy other banks, instead of, say, giving out loans to consumers and businesses trying to buy things or make investments that would create jobs...we can start by doing what our progressive forbearers did: breaking up the big financial trusts, regulating them with vigor, holding them accountable. When a class of people has screwed up as terribly as big bankers have, we should take away their power and watch them like hawks for the rest of their time on this earth."

We broke up Microsoft for getting too big. Remember that? Time to do it again, this time with big banks and Wall Street.

Thomas Jefferson said "If the America people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currencies, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their prosperity until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

Here's the case for the Government letting AIG fail instead of bailing it out.

According to this article from TIME, we don't need to bail it out. We don't need AIG. Our economy will recover and in fact be more prosperous if we let it fail. Here's an excerpt that I think illustrates beautifully what would happen if AIG were to fail:

"Think of the insured house. Many institutions hold insurance on the house; on the other side are insurance companies and the like making an opposite bet. If the house is destroyed, one group of institutions wins and the other group loses. Considering all institutions together, no money was truly lost..."

I've said it before. It AIG fails, something (or many somethings) will take its place and we will be okay.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cheney defends Administration

Paul Begala's commentary at Cnn.com talked about Dick Cheney's recent interview with CNN--the first post administration interview granted--and has put the hypocrisy of our previous administration in a great--albeit a little harsher than I would--manner. I'm just going to repost part of the commentary here, but if you want to read the entire thing, click here.

Cheney says U.S. can torture but can't heal.
Dick Cheney has finally found the limits of government power.

According to recently released legal memos from the Bush-Cheney administration, the former vice president believes that the federal government can ignore the First Amendment and suppress free speech and freedom of the press as part of its "war on terror."

An October 23, 2001, memo from Justice Department lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty said, "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully."

Former Vice PresidentCheney also believes, according to these same memos, that the federal government can send troops to burst into the homes of American citizens without a search warrant, despite the Fourth Amendment's protection against such unreasonable searches. He believes that the federal government has the right to arrest an American citizen on American soil and hold him in prison without charges. He believes that the federal government can listen in on your phone conversations without a court order.

Cheney believes that the federal government can ignore the Geneva Conventions, binding treaties largely written by the United States, signed by the president and ratified by the Senate. He believes that the federal government can commit torture, despite laws and treaties making torture a crime.

As the Washington Post reported, "Starting in January, 2002, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials."

The newspaper said, "Cheney and his allies ... did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government."
In fact, Yoo has said the federal government has the power to grab your young son and crush his private parts if the president thinks that will help the "war on terror."

Think I'm kidding? Here's the verbatim exchange from a debate between Yoo and Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel:
Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty ...
Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo ...
Yoo: I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.

...If the government can censor the free press, restrict free speech, listen in on your private conversations, burst into your home, take you away, hold you in prison without charges and torture you, it raises an interesting question: What on Earth does Dick Cheney think the federal government can't do?

Thanks to John King, we now know: Cheney believes that the government cannot help with health care, improve education or wean America off Middle East oil. I'm not kidding.

Cheney, whose authoritarian impulses run deep, is suddenly worried that the federal government might become too powerful under President Obama.

"I worry a lot," he told King, "that they're using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government, and much more authority for the government over the private sector. I don't think that's good. I don't think that's going to solve the problem."

...Set aside the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the greatest expansion of the federal role in health care since President Lyndon B. Johnson...

...Cheney is comfortable with a government that has the authority to torture, imprison, censor and kill. Just not a government that has the capacity and compassion to write a health insurance policy or take on Big Oil.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brightwood: band review.


Named after a small town in Oregon, this band is a local phenomenon quickly becoming a national sensation.

Currently touring promoting their full-length album, Wake, released July '08, Brightwood is impressing audiophiles and making new fans nationwide.

Led by frontman Andrew Brittell's soaring vocals, the band's sound is completed by guitarist Colin Schneider, bassist Matt Fosket, and drummer Stephen Brittell's percussion and vocal harmonies--yes, the drummer sings while playing the drumset. In fact, Andrew & Stephen are identical twins, so during both the recording of an album and live the band's vocal melodies and harmonies perfectly mesh.

Seriously, check them out at myspace.com/brightwood and http://www.brightwoodmusic.com/

Saturday, March 7, 2009

John Yoo Memos: Blueprint for a police state.

I have compiled this post from a few comments I've left on other's blogs, so if you see something repeated, bear with me.

The Yoo memos:

George W Bush and his administration were just a few steps away from a total police state, where the administration could spy on its citizens and suspend certain amendments.The Oct. 23, 2001, memo suggested the president could even suspend press freedoms if he concluded it was necessary to wage the war on terror. "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully," Yoo wrote in the memo entitled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States."Also in the memo was the question of if there were any restrictions on the use of the U.S. military inside the country in targeting terror suspects. The Yoo memo concluded there were nonem, that the country was in a "state of armed conflict" and "legal and constitutional rules" governing law enforcement—such as the Fourth Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable" searches and seizures—did not apply, and that the U.S. military could be used for "targeting and destroying" a hijacked airline or "attacking civilian targets, such as apartment buildings, offices or ships where suspected terrorists were thought to be." At another point, the memo advices: "Military action might encompass making arrests, seizing documents or other property, searching persons or places or keeping them under surveillance, intercepting electronic or wireless communications, setting up roadblocks, interviewing witnesses or searching for suspects."

Many of them involve what the Executive Branch can do on American Soil. Remember Jose Padilla? We tried him. He was convicted. But the Bush Administration tried to hold him without charge. They did for three years, designating him an illegal enemy combatant and transferred him to a military prison, arguing that he was thereby not entitled to trial in civilian courts. He was a US Citizen arrested in arrested in Chicago on May 8, 2002 and held as a witness in a criminal case, but then was just taken and held without charge by Bush. He was only released because the Supreme Court was getting suspicious and was going to rule that Bush had no authority to detain him, which would have permantly removed the President's power to do so in the future. Once in the criminal system, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorism and convicted.

Here's a "suspected terrorist" on the US Mainland held without charge: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/06/us/w05scotus-web.html?_r=1&hp. Again, what happended to habeas corpus? Even if you are for this in Guantanamo, how can any Patriot stand for anyone to be arrested and held without charge on the US Mainland?

Timothy McVeigh was executed for terrorism. Our system works. Lets put these terrorists from Guantanamo into a court martial and see the evidence against them. Then convict them.

Here are some of those memos, and many of them concern the Bill of Rights on the US Mainland and US Citizens: attempted Martial Law.

September 25, 2001 Memorandum for David S. Kris, Associate Deputy Attorney General, "Re: Constitutionality of Amending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Change 'Purpose' Standard for Searches" (signed by John C. Yoo). Claims the US's "right to self defense" authorized warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment.

October 23, 2001 Memorandum for Alberto Gonzales and William J. Haynes, "Re: Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States" (signed by John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty). Claims the military can ignore the Fourth Amendment, the Takings Clause, and can also override the First Amendment.

December 28, 2001 Memorandum for William J. Haynes, "Re: Possible Habeas Jurisdiction Over Aliens Held in Guantanamo Bay" (signed by John Yoo and Patrick Philbin). Sixth Amendment.June 8, 2002 Memorandum for the Attorney General, "Determination of Enemy Belligerency and Military Detention" (signed by Jay S. Bybee). Concludes that the military has the legal authority to detain US citizen Jose Padilla as a prisoner captured during an international armed conflict. Fifth and Sixth Amendment.

June 27, 2002 Memorandum for Daniel J. Bryant, "Re: Applicability of 18 U.S.C. 4001(a) to Military Detention of United States Citizen" (signed by John C. Yoo). Claims that statute flatly saying "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress" does not, and constitutionally could not, interfere with Bush's authority to detain Jose Padilla as Commander in Chief. Repudiated. Fifth and Sixth Amendment.

August 1, 2002 Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, "Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation Under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A" (signed by Jay S. Bybee) (the Bybee memo). Eighth Amendment.

And here’s another gem. Not Constitutional violation, just treaty violations (Geneva) and violation of Congress’ Anti-Torture Laws:

March 13, 2002 Memorandum for William J. Haynes, "Re: The President’s Power as Commander in Chief to transfer captured terrorists to the control and custody of foreign nations" (signed by Jay S. Bybee). "We conclude that as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, the President has the plenary constitutional power to detain and transfer prisoners captured in war. We also conclude that neither the GPW (Third Geneva Convention) nor the Torture Convention restrict the President's legal authority to transfer prisoners captured in the Afghanistan conflict to third countries. Although the GPW places conditions on the transfer of POWs, neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban prisoners are legally entitled to POW status, and hence there are no GPW conditions placed on their transfer. While the Torture Convention arguably might govern transfer of these prisoners, it does not apply extraterritorially."

Those of you on the conservative side arguing for less government: This was the exact opposite. This was the government authorizing itself to peek in your windows, go into your house, and wisk you away to torture you and hold you without charge FOREVER if they decide you might be a terrorist. Doesn't matter if you are a US citizen or not.

Those of you on the liberal side, you already know that this is wrong.

We can all agree that these memos were examples of a President seeking too much power. Let's do something about. Let's prosecute those responsible in the last administration. If we can show to our government that we will not stand for the checks and balances system being sidestepped, than the next president that tries will sure think twice. Obama and whoever comes after will know that the American people WILL NOT STAND for this kind of trash.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Recording Studio & Production Company

I finally got my recording studio up and running! I am so excited to start recording with clients and putting good music out there.

My production company, Embryonic Productions, is finally able to become something more than an idea on a piece of paper, but a reality.

I'll post on artists and projects I'm working on in the future.