Excuses, excuses: Between working hard at this contract and experiencing a two-day internet outage at home, I haven’t been able to update The Picket Line much lately — which is too bad, because there has been plenty to write about.
There’s more news on the torture policy front:
- Fafblog weighs in as only it can on the confirmation of Alberto “Obsolete & Quaint” Gonzales and the torture of John McCain.
- And that links to The New Yorker’s in-depth article on “extraordinary rendition” in which torture policy architect John Yoo continues his post-election policy of believing that there’s no reason to hide behind euphemisms:
As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.” He continued, “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.” If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the constitutional remedy was impeachment. He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”
And yet there’s activism afoot:
- With the sort of astute planning that has made the U.S. peace movement so effective, Northern California War Tax Resistance held a workshop for prospective war tax resisters in the middle of the afternoon on . Still, the event attracted a dozen people who were determined to start resisting their taxes and were eager to find out how.
- Meanwhile, peace activists in Ireland are trying to encourage the thousands of U.S. troops who stop in Ireland on their way to the Middle East to desert and seek refuge.
The invitation for some of these troops effectively to desert comes from members of the Irish parliament and even a former Irish army commandant, Ed Horgan — who made it clear he wouldn’t make such a suggestion lightly.… ¶ Irish and international law on refugees makes it clear that soldiers are not excluded from making asylum applications, which can be made to any Irish police officer (Garda) or immigration official. Soldiers who face being forced to obey “unlawful orders” are explicitly mentioned in the refugee statutes.
And then there’s Stupid Budget Tricks:
- The Progress Report tells us:
The budget President Bush submitted to Congress yesterday imposes $5.3 billion in new, regressive taxes… that will increase the price of a six-pack of beer, an airline ticket and prescription drugs for veterans.… ¶ No matter which way you slice it, the administration’s budget is egregiously fiscally irresponsible — by its own estimates, it will result in a $390 billion deficit in . Worse, that figure is only arrived at through trickery. The budget includes over a billion dollars in revenue from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), even though Congress hasn’t authorized such drilling and has rejected President Bush’s proposal to open ANWR to oil exploration for … The Bush budget excludes all funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the administration’s $2 trillion Social Security package.
- The National Review remembers all the times Dubya has promised us fiscal responsibility before.
- And Salon tells us how Dubya plans to cut the deficit in half: “The budget deficit for was $412 billion. To cut that in half by , one might think that you have to reduce the deficit to $206 billion. One would be wrong, at least if the White House is doing the math. The White House doesn’t use the actual deficit for . Instead, it uses the deficit that [it] projected for — a much higher number, $521 billion.” It’s actually worse than that. Dubya isn’t promising to halve the deficit in terms of its actual size, but as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product — and of course he predicts a spectacular rise in the GDP in order to meet these numbers.
- You may have noted that the new budget request includes a record-breaking military budget — but as Slate shows, billions of dollars that the government will spend on the military this year are not included in even that grotesquely large sum.
And that’s just what I was able to filter from the krill while I was busy doing other things.