“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Don't Let's Be Beastly to Al-Qaeda

Some things never change. More 24 carat horse shit from our rulers and masters.

US drops 'enemy combatant' term
The US is abandoning its use of the term "enemy combatants" to describe terror suspects - ending a key policy of the Bush administration.

It is the latest shift on Guantanamo Bay by President Barack Obama, who has announced the camp is to be closed.

The decision to drop the term is deeply symbolic, correspondents say.

President George W Bush argued that his status as commander-in-chief allowed him to hold "enemy combatants" indefinitely and without trial.

Announcing the end of the term's use, the Justice Department said suspects would in future be held according to legal standards set by the international laws of war.

Under the new definition, only those who provided "substantial" support to al-Qaeda or the Taleban will be considered detainable, officials said.


By using the term "enemy combatants", the Bush administration argued that they were not prisoners of war, the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says. International laws - like the Geneva Conventions - therefore did not automatically apply.

“ It is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values ” -Eric Holder US Attorney General

The Obama administration will, by contrast, hold prisoners under the authority granted by Congress, when it approved the Authorisation for the Use of Military Force "against nations, organizations, or persons the president determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the September 11 attacks, or harboured such organizations or persons" in September 2001.

"The government's new standard relies on the international laws of war to inform the scope of the president's authority under this statute," according to the Justice Department.

"As we work towards developing a new policy to govern detainees, it is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values, and is governed by law," said US Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

Around 250 detainees are still being held in Guantanamo, our correspondent says.

The Obama administration is currently reviewing each case before making a decision as to who should stand trial, he adds.

Harsh techniques

The detention centre was set up in January 2002 by the Bush administration to hold men captured in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taleban after the 2001 attacks on the US.

It later became notorious because of the harsh interrogation techniques used there, which many said amounted to torture, and because the detainees there were being held without trial and without many of the protections of international law.

During the presidential election, Mr Obama pledged to close the camp if elected, and in his first week in the White House, he issued the order to do so.

Some of the detainees are expected to stand trial in US courts, while others will be returned to their home countries.

But the Obama administration is likely to face difficulties prosecuting some inmates, because evidence against them may have been obtained using inadmissible techniques.

Other prisoners cannot be sent back to their home countries because they may face torture or execution if they return.

Mr Obama this week appointed diplomat Dan Fried to serve as a special envoy to persuade third countries to accept detainees who cannot be extradited to their home countries.

Story from BBC NEWS:

No more un-pleasant euphemisms for him.


  1. Oops,

    (o/t on first comment - I love it - even if the host doesn't :)

    Obama Signs Law Banning Federal Embryo Research Two Days After Signing Executive Order to OK It

    ( - On Wednesday, only two days after he lifted President Bush’s executive order banning federal funding of stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos, President Barack Obama signed a law that explicilty bans federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death."

    The provision was buried in the 465-page omnibus appropriations bill that Obama signed Wednesday. Known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, it has been included in the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services every fiscal year since 1996.

    h/t Small Dead Animals

  2. Rufus, I maintained once we might sign Alaska back to Russia, and not even know it, nobody reads these bills. But who writes the damned things is what I want to know.

    Obama Says We Got To Have Better Relations with the muzzies

    Screw Britain, it's Indonesia that counts.

  3. heh, o/t, but you find the oddest things in books--

    At meeting of the club, she encountered a shy young windower who, like her father, was a professor of theology and a minister. She married Calvin E. Stowe in 1836.....

    She was drawn to the abolitionist cause quite early.....

    Stowe's personal life remains something of a mystery, although various biographers have written about her at length. Her relationship with her husband rmains puzzling. They had many passionate interests in common, including a devotion to the abolitionist cause. Yet they struggled, as did many couples in this period, with the issue of contraception, spending a good deal of time apart--just to make sure Harriet was not always pregnant, as Joan D. Hedrick points out in her life of Stowe. The letters exchanged between Harriet and Calvin reveal the depths of their intimacy, and also betray a strain of unacknowledged bisexuality in Calvin. As Hedrick tells us, Calvin had many close relationships with men, and when Harriet was abroad or visiting spas or relatives, he would sometimes sleep with a friend. "When I get desparate," he tells his wife, "& cannot stand it any longer, I get dear, good kind hearted Brother Stagg to come and sleep with me, and he puts his arms round me & hugs me to my hearts' content." ( Stagg is well named) Another friend, one "Mr. Farber," also enjoyed sleeping with Calvin, who confesses to Harriet that "he kisses and kisses upon my rough old face, as if I were a most beautiful young lady instead of a musty old man. The Lord sent him here for my confort." He adds, "He will have me sleep with him once in a while, and he says, that is almost as good as being married--the dear little innocent ignorant soul."

    One must keep in mind that during this period it was not uncommon for men to sleep together and that sexual intimacy was not necessarily involved. Nevertheless, one can hardly deny the homoerotic undercurrent of Calvin's letters to his wife, and one must assume she did not think ill of her husband for his intimacies with Stagg and Farber, among others. She would have been less willing, perhaps, to have Calvin spend time in the sack with young women.



    Now this is an admirable good solution to a contraception problem. Just go off to the spa and allow hubby to indulge in his bisexual urges. And he's a Congregational (I think, Congregational) minister too, and she one of the leaders of the abolitionist movement, and the author of the best poorly written book in America, "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

    Who'd a thunk it....

  4. that was from "The Promised Land--Thirteen Books That Changed America" Jay Parini

  5. Whatever happened to
    Don't ask, don't tell?

  6. - Don't Bash Business Travel -
    Memo to Business: Let's Meet
    By J.W. Marriott Jr.

    When the Democrats held their national convention last August, 50,000 delegates, politicians, journalists and others descended on the Mile High City for several days. Forty thousand hotel rooms were booked. Restaurants and entertainment venues were packed. In the end, Denver benefited from more than $260 million in revenue, creating significant tax income for the city and state. Now that's what I call a great meeting.

    What would have happened if no one attended the convention? In real terms, a lot of Denver businesses would have suffered -- but their employees would have suffered more. Waitresses would have had no customers. Housekeepers would have had no rooms to clean. Taxi drivers wouldn't have had passengers to ferry.

    And instead of addressing 84,000 people when he accepted his party's nomination for president, Barack Obama would have been looking out into an empty stadium.

    The hotel industry confronts such a scenario today. As many as a million jobs are at risk because of attacks on business travel and meetings by members of Congress, the administration and the media.

    Companies -- even those not receiving government assistance -- are so afraid of being criticized, they'd rather cancel their meetings and pay the penalty fees. It's time to focus on the unintended consequences of this toxic rhetoric, which threatens not only our industry but also our employees and the communities where we do business.

  7. Was looking through the Cabelas catelogue. You can get tracer rounds for your .22.

    You ever hear of that, al-Doug?

  8. I'd rather have tracers for the
    .223 - THEM Varmints warrant any expense.

  9. Broder expresses his Man Crush for Freeman
    The Country's Loss
    Washington's lobbying machine deprived Barack Obama of a valuable adviser.

  10. (Kid just picked up 3 AR-1 receivers - already enjoyed more appreciation on them than any Wall Street Loser)

  11. 59. RWE:

    Interesting little item on Fox NEws the other night.

    70% plus of the jobs involved in GBreen energy production are from manufacturing. And almost all that manufacturing is done overseas. Using the Stimulus money on Green energy is going to yield maybe 30% of it being applied to U.S. jobs, largely related to installation.

    So, to get the full benefit of Green jobs (which ain’t much anyway) we are going to have to realign our tax structure, revise various regulations, and modify environmental laws to make manufacturing more attractive to do in the U.S., get the unions under control, and actually develop an educational system that teaches people useful skills as well as an appreciation for honest work. And I am sure that Obama will have all that done before COB Monday.


    61. Doug:

    The Chi-Coms use their profits from selling us Photovoltaic Panels to invest in new Coal Powerplants!

  12. The earlier urge to challenge the Obama administration was replaced by strange new respect, especially since David was given his very own talisman chart by his overseers which predicts events long after the President is gone from office:

    "The White House has produced a chart showing nondefense discretionary spending as a share of G.D.P. That’s spending for education, welfare and all the stuff that Democrats love. Since 1985, this spending has hovered around 3.7 percent of G.D.P. This year, it’s about 4.6 percent. The White House claims that it is going to reduce this spending to 3.1 percent by 2019, lower than at any time in any recent Republican administration. I was invited to hang this chart on my wall and judge them by how well they meet these targets. (I have.)"

    So either the four overseers of the White House were masters of manipulation or they had extremely pliable material to work with in the form of the "moderate" mind of David Brooks. I suspect the latter.

  13. The conversation has moved, doug.

  14. Despite his declarations of outright love for Obama, there is one minor caveat by Brooks:

    In short, Obama hopes to change incentives so districts do the effective and hard things instead of the easy and mediocre things. The question is whether he has the courage to follow through. Many doubt he does. They point to the way the president has already caved in on the D.C. vouchers case.

    They say that love conquers all and in this case it seems to have overcome any slight doubt that Brooks might have about the Loved One:

    Obama has, in fact, been shamefully quiet about this. But in the next weeks he’ll at least try to protect the kids now in the program. And more broadly, there’s reason for hope. Education is close to his heart. He has broken with liberal orthodoxy on school reform more than any other policy. He’s naturally inclined to be data driven. There’s reason to think that this week’s impressive speech will be followed by real and potentially historic action.

    House conservative David Brooks. A general leading his army of moderates to declare a love fest for Beloved Barack Obama as long as he gets proper attention from the White House overseers who give him nice ego enhancing tummy rubs.


  15. Truth has no special time of it's own.Its hour is now always.

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