Evening Blues Preview 2-5-15

A few stories:

Judge orders action over photographs depicting US military abuse

Defense Department officials given a week to explain lack of progress over images documenting treatment of detainees after 9/11 attacks

The US Department of Defense has been given a week to explain why it has not yet complied with a federal court order to list the individual exemptions for the disclosure of over 2,000 photographs depicting military abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At a district court hearing in Manhattan on Wednesday, judge Alvin Hellerstein described the consequences of the government’s decade long court battle to suppress the photographs, as a way “to obtain a very substantial delay” on disclosure.

“I have a feeling where we are at this point – to make up a phrase – at a line in the sand,” Hellerstein said, instructing counsel for the Defense Department to submit in writing how long it would take to comply with the ruling made in August 2014, or to appeal the order.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been fighting a transparency case against the Defense Department since 2004. Some photographs, which document treatment of detainees in detention facilities after the September 11 attacks, are said to be more disturbing that the infamous images of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib uncovered in 2004. ...

The potential disclosure would follow the publication of a damning report into the CIA’s use of torture against high value detainees at ‘black sites’ following the September 11 attacks. The report found that the CIA’s use of torture – including waterboarding, rectal feeding, and the use of stress positions – was both brutal and ineffective, and that the CIA repeatedly misled Congress and the executive branch about its effectiveness.

Torture Advocates Outnumbered Critics 2-to-1 - FAIR survey finds torturers well-represented on TV news

A new FAIR study finds that torture defenders outnumbered critics of torture by nearly 2 to 1 in TV news coverage of the Senate Intelligence Committee report released on December 9.

FAIR surveyed the guests of nine news programs for the week of December 7 to December 14, when discussion of the torture report’s findings was most prominent. The programs included the Sunday talk shows (NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week, Fox News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union) along with four weekday news shows (MSNBC's Hardball, Fox's Special Report, the first hour of CNN's Situation Room and the PBS NewsHour).

Of the 104 guests discussing the topic on these shows, 53 expressed a discernible opinion either for or against the use of torture. Thirty-five of those who took a position, or 66 percent, were supportive of torture. This included a few individuals who claimed to be against "torture," but defended interrogation methods such as waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques” that are recognized as torture under US and international law.

Only 18 guests (34 percent) articulated clear opposition to the CIA's torture practices--about half as many as spoke up in defense of torture.

The President's Budget Proposal — Cuts to Spending, Cuts to Medicare

The Presidents budget accelerates the process of converting Medicare from insurance to welfare by expanded means-testing:

The president’s budget would collect $66 billion over 10 years by charging higher premiums to higher-income Medicare beneficiaries, for coverage of doctors’ services and prescription drugs. A relatively small number of high-income beneficiaries already pay more than three times the standard monthly premium.

If the powerful mainstream "left" — meaning people like Obama, Clinton and the broad swath of "centrists" (corporatists) in Congress — continue to convert social insurance programs into welfare, as this budget proposal does, it becomes far more easy for the right to insist these programs be reduced, privatized or cut entirely because the population they serve is no longer "us," but "them."The article mentions some good news for Medicare in the budget — small changes to drug pricing policy and continued support for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), for example. But overall, on the Medicare front, this budget offers more austerity for the many so the few won't have to pay taxes.

See what I mean? In this respect, the president is being true to his values, true to his 2006 self. As he said in the first clip at the link in this paragraph:

"Too many of us have been interested in defending programs the way they were written in 1938."

The dog-whistle reference is to Social Security, but as his new budget shows, he clearly means all social programs. An odd legacy for America's first black president, but there it is. Still, he's true to his values — I will give him that.

If we are killed as a nation by our billionaires, this is how they will do it, cynically using our Achilles Heel and appealing to our historical need to punish the "undeserving." Today, membership in the "undeserving" is much more broadly defined. No matter; as a nation we still want to "go there," to do the punishing.

Without saying so, the president's budget does much the same, if in a lighter way — it withholds from the modern "undeserving" to preserve the perqs of the wealthy. Punishing the "undeserving" is an odd legacy for America's first black president. Not a choice I would make if I were him, but there it is.

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gulfgal98's picture

everyone read the article on the President's budget proposal.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cordelia Lear's picture

In addition, the budget accelerates the process of converting Medicare from insurance to welfare by expanded means-testing:

That's a gentle descrption of what they want to do. Up next, medicare groupons.

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"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak." --Paul Wellstone

Tammany Tiger's picture

Hand jive was an $800 clue in the Double Jeopardy round Tuesday night.

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