May 19 2008 show notes

Topics, guests, upcoming events, quotes, links to articles, audio clips, books & bumper music.

Monday 19 May '08 show

  • Jus cogens.
    "A peremptory norm (also called jus cogens or ius cogens, Latin for "compelling law") is a fundamental principle of international law which is accepted by the international community of states as a norm from which no derogation is ever permitted.

    There is no clear agreement regarding precisely which norms are jus cogens — or indeed how a norm reaches the status of jus cogens — but it is generally accepted that jus cogens includes the prohibition of genocide, piracy, slaving in general (to include slavery as well as the slave trade), torture, and wars of aggression and territorial aggrandizement.

  • "Article 2 (2) provides that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification for torture. Therefore, under no circumstances may any order from a superior officer, or circumstances in a state or threat of war, or internal political instability be a justification for torture."
    The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • "In light of the text, plan, and history of the Constitution, its interpretation by both past Administrations and the courts, the longstanding practice of the executive branch, and the express affirmation of the President's constitutional authorities by Congress, we think it beyond question that the President has the plenary constitutional power to take such military actions as he deems necessary and appropriate to respond to the terrorist attacks upon the United States on September 11, 2001. Force can be used both to retaliate for those attacks, and to prevent and deter future assaults on the Nation. Military actions need not be limited to those individuals, groups, or states that participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon: the Constitution vests the President with the power to strike terrorist groups or organizations that cannot be demonstrably linked to the September 11 incidents, but that, nonetheless, pose a similar threat to the security of the United States and the lives of its people, whether at home or overseas... In both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution, Congress has recognized the President's authority to use force in circumstances such as those created by the September 11 incidents. Neither statute, however, can place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make."
    The President's Constitutional Authority To Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists And Nations Supporting Them, John Yoo.
  • Memo from Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo to the White House Counsel on interrogation methods that do not violate prohibitions against torture, August 1, 2002.
  • Article: Memo: Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators. John Yoo memo dated March 14, 2003.
  • Clip:
    [Doug 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?"

    [John Yoo]: "No treaty."

    [Doug Cassel]: "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo."

    [John Yoo]: "I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that".
    December 1, 2005 debate in Chicago.

  • Article: Torture protests at UC law school ceremonies.
    "Some 50 protesters, clad in orange jumpsuits and black hoods to emulate the infamous photos of prisoners in Iraq, picketed UC Berkeley's law school graduation ceremony Saturday, demanding that the university fire Professor John Yoo for his authorship of the Bush administration's policies on torture.

    "We want to see him fired and disbarred for being a war criminal," said Anne Weills, an Oakland attorney who said she was with the National Lawyers Guild, one of the groups that protested. "Academic freedom stops when you intend to harm or injure somebody."

  • Thom sat at CPAC 2 years ago when John Yoo debated Bob Barr. John Yoo was cheered.
  • Article: The Torture Memos and Academic Freedom, Christopher Edley, Jr., the Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Chair and Dean UC Berkeley School of Law.
    "My sense is that the vast majority of legal academics with a view of the matter disagree with substantial portions of Professor Yoo’s analyses, including a great many of his colleagues at Berkeley. If, however, this strong consensus were enough to fire or sanction someone, then academic freedom would be meaningless...

    Assuming one believes as I do that Professor Yoo offered bad ideas and even worse advice during his government service, that judgment alone would not warrant dismissal or even a potentially chilling inquiry. As a legal matter, the test here is the relevant excerpt from the "General University Policy Regarding Academic Appointees," adopted for the 10-campus University of California by both the system-wide Academic Senate and the Board of Regents:

    Types of unacceptable conduct: … Commission of a criminal act which has led to conviction in a court of law and which clearly demonstrates unfitness to continue as a member of the faculty. [Academic Personnel Manual sec. 015]

    This very restrictive standard is binding on me as dean, but I will put aside that shield and state my independent and personal view of the matter. I believe the crucial questions in view of our university mission are these: Was there clear professional misconduct—that is, some breach of the professional ethics applicable to a government attorney—material to Professor Yoo’s academic position? Did the writing of the memoranda, and his related conduct, violate a criminal or comparable statute?

    Absent very substantial evidence on these questions, no university worthy of distinction should even contemplate dismissing a faculty member. That standard has not been met.

  • Guest: Professor Ward Churchill. Academic Freedom - Should John Yoo be fired, prosecuted or both? The Dean was saying that because Yoo was not a decider in the memorandum, it's ok. But the Nuremberg trials went after non-deciders. You can be be ousted for academic misconduct - he was, but on trumped up charges.
  • Bumper Music: Our Country, Jim Mellancamp.
  • Clip:
    "Soon afterward, Washington lead his soldiers across the Delaware River and onto victory in the Battle of Trenton. There he captured nearly 1000 foreign mercenaries and he faced a crucial choice.

    How would General Washington treat these prisoners? The British had already committed atrocities against Americans, including torture. As David Hackett Fischer describes in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Washington's Crossing, thousands of American prisoners of war were “treated with extreme cruelty by British captors.” There are accounts of injured soldiers who surrendered being murdered instead of quartered, countless Americans dying in prison hulks in New York harbor, starvation and other acts of inhumanity perpetrated against Americans confined to churches in New York City.

    You can imagine, the light of our ideals shone dimly in those early dark days, years from an end to the conflict, years before our improbable triumph and the birth of our democracy. General Washington was not that far from where the Continental Congress had met and signed the Declaration of Independence. But it is easy to imagine how far that must have seemed. General Washington announced a decision unique in human history, sending the following order for handling prisoners:

    Treat them with humanity, and Let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British army in their Treatment of our unfortunate brethren.

    Senator Hillary Clinton, September 28, 2006.

  • Article: Gender Issue Lives On as Clinton’s Hopes Dim .
  • Should Hillary be vice president? How many people will not vote for Obama? Regardless of her negatives, the ticket could win, like the JFK/LBJ mixture of young/old. 75,000 turned up to see Obama in Portland, Oregon yesterday, where 3 out of 5 counties voted for Bush. Thom beat Rush Limbaugh, whose station has twice the power, in the latest book for Portland.
  • Bumper Music: Suddenly I See , KT Tunstall.
  • As Howard Dean said, the most important person is the loser (transcript of previous riff). If Obama does not want her, he should get her to agree to decline, and make her leader of the Senate or put her on the Supreme Court.
  • During World War II the Germans surrendered to the Americans, not the Russians, because they knew they would be treated better. Treating prisoners well means the enemy is more likely to surrender, as well as being the right thing to do; it's more effective.
  • Bumper Music: A Country Boy Can Survive, Hank Williams Jr.
  • Contest. Before the last segment of the show, go to and post a comment in response to today's "On the Program" entry. The winner gets a signed copy of Walking Your Blues Away, a breakthrough book. walking your blues away.
    The winner was PacificCoastRon for:
    The short word you and Cliff Schecter were looking for to describe John McCain being "lobbied up" is ... " sold-out."

    The last 3 weeks, my car has been driving around with a big sign on the back: " McCain - Not just any old warmonger, a confused, sold-out ANGRY WARMONGER ! "

    No one's given my angry hand gestures yet, I am in Portland Oregon though ...

  • Bumper Music: Crazy, Gnarls Barkley.
  • Article: Schaffer's ad moved mountains (video).
  • Article: An Idea Whose Time Has Gone: Conservatives abandon their support for school vouchers, Greg Anrig, The Washington Monthly, April 2008.
    "In 1955, the libertarian economist Milton Friedman proposed what was, for its time, a radical idea: that schoolchildren be given government-funded vouchers to enable them to attend private schools...

    But in recent months, almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, the school voucher movement has abruptly stalled. Some stalwart advocates of vouchers have either repudiated the idea entirely or considerably tempered their enthusiasm for it. Exhibit A is "School Choice Isn't Enough," an article in the winter 2008 City Journal (the quarterly published by the conservative Manhattan Institute) written by the former voucher proponent Sol Stern. Acknowledging that voucher programs for poor children had "hit a wall," Stern concluded: "Education reformers ought to resist unreflective support for elegant-sounding theories, derived from the study of economic activity, that don't produce verifiable results in the classroom". ...

    Howard Fuller, an African American who was the superintendent of schools in Milwaukee when the voucher program was launched there, and who received substantial support from the Bradley Foundation and other conservative institutions over the years, has conceded, "It hasn't worked like we thought it would in theory".

  • Article: School Choice Isn’t Enough: Instructional reform is the key to better schools, Sol Stern, City Journal, winter 2008.
  • Guest: Carrie Lukas, Vice President for Policy and Economics, Independent Women's Forum. Author, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism". School choice, voucher program and should we stop subsidizing colleges? It's about choice. Why is it so controversial? Sounds devious. Colleges compete, charge what they can. The market is distorted by local colleges and state universities. Thom said the problem is there isn't free college education in USA unlike Germany. She is offering some choice to some, particularly the rich, but diminishing choice where vouchers are not enough to pay for education in full. A recent poll showed that the majority of residents in Washington DC does not want vouchers. Former mayor of Washington, DC Marion Barry is for vouchers. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Delegate to Congress representing the District of Columbia, is against them. The evidence is that it is not the school, it is the wealth of parents that makes the most difference to kids. Thom said to tackle poverty.
  • Bumper Music: It Don't Get Any Better Than This, George Jones.
  • Vouchers provide the opportunity for private corporations to get in and take more of our tax dollars. Profiteering used to be considered bad.
  • Clip: "I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'." Ronald W. Reagan.
  • Article: Carlyle Buys Booz Allen Unit In Bid to Tap Boom in Defense.
    "Two of the capital's best-connected companies have reached a $2.54 billion deal that showcases the lucrative market for carrying out sensitive military and intelligence work on behalf of the federal government.

    The Carlyle Group, whose roster of advisers once included former President George H.W. Bush, is buying a majority stake in the U.S. government business of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. With its deep ties to the defense establishment -- the director of national intelligence is a former executive -- Booz Allen has become embedded in a wide range of military operations such as planning wargames.

  • Bumper Music: You've Got To Stand For Something, Aaron Tippin.
  • Bumper Music: How Did This Country Get So Bad?, Us the Band.
  • Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News. She's at a Republican walk through in Minnesota for the upcoming conference, then she's heading for Oregon. Craig bathroom, bridge, shoeshine guy. Today write ups about Senator Byrd to endorse Obama. He's a former KKK member. He was against the war. He's from WV. An email was left out of the Senate report on Abramoff, with governor Riley. McCain speech today in Obama's home town. Hillary and Obama on tax cuts. Lieberman wrote to YouTube, asked them to take off branded video. "Pelosi premium". Supreme Court decisions, the Kentucky supreme court said it was not ok to give tax free municipal bonds, 7-2 decision. 6-3 on longer prison terms for 3 convictions. 7-2 on child pornography. The special envoy of the UN and the Secretary General will be going to Myanmar shortly to talk to the government.
  • Guest: Cliff Schecter. His book, "The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn't". McCain became a beer magnate, sang in the Hanoi Hilton (for which he has not been swiftboated), his second marriage 6 weeks after the end of his first, his positions on the war. Schizophrenic. In 1990 he was against war. He was opposed to Lebanon, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti. He was very different in the past. Now flipflopping. Thom has seen Obama videos for single payer health care some years ago, but it's political suicide now. At least he knows the arguments, it could happen if he gets in. What if people see the old McCain, think he may change back? McCain depends on political calculus and who he hates at the moment. He was only ok for 4-5 years 1998-2003 because it served him, really he's much more right wing. How lobbyisted up he is. 66 superbundlers - Bush calls them pioneers. 112 with staff. Charlie Black lobbyist for Somalia, Marcos, Myanmar? Saudi Arabia. Relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Same for Keating. Corporate jets, lobbyists, letters for them. Never mind the personal relationship. He will be same as Bush, but more links to lobbyists, not suitable - temper, irrational, finger on bomb, people who pay him the most tell him what to say.
  • Bumper Music: You Really Got Me, the Kinks.
  • Bumper Music: Learning to Fly, Tom Petty.
  • Clip:
    [Stephanopoulos]: "The Democrats are having some fun at your expense this week because they look at your slogan, "The Change You Deserve," and say that's the slogan for Effexor, an anti-depressant. Here was Congressman Steny Hoyer, your counterpart. "

    [Hoyer]: (on videotape) " "The Change You Deserve", of course, is a trademark for an anti-depressant. It does have side effects. It can make you sick. 82% of Americans have indicated they are sick and tired of the policies that have been pursued by the Bush-Boehner administration."

    [Stephanopoulos]: "Shouldn't you have seen that coming?"

    [Boehner]: "Listen, I could have used an anti-depressant last week."
    Boehner Needled On This Week Over Effexor Slogan.

  • Warren Buffet just endorsed Obama.
  • Article: McCain: Fire Charlie Black,
  • Jim Webb for vice president? He's brilliant, military, but does not have much federal experience either.

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