Sister Pat sends along this 1920 prediction from H.L. Mencken, who would have been not even a little bit surprised by last week’s GOP convention:
When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost … All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
Bet you thought an 88 was a German World War II anti-aircraft gun. Well, that too. But in some circles it signifies Heil Hitler, H being the eighth letter of the alphabet. Circles like the Fayetteville headquarters of the Trump campaign.
If there’s anything the Boomers have reliably bequeathed to succeeding generations, it’s the awareness of the fragility of life. And not life in general, the kind that’s easy to feel bad about the loss of, but your own personal copy, the one that matters to you. Growing up in the time of duck-and-cover videos, experiencing the crushing of the American dream with the assassinations of people who might have led us toward if not peace then at least less conflict, watching every new hope for the future gunned down on television, each death blamed on a lone nut with absolutely no connection to anyone in power, seeing images every night on Cronkite or Huntley/Brinkley of our soldiers slogging through tropical mud for reasons nobody understood: but most of all, being aware that the number of nuclear missiles in the world was such that were even a subset to be fired the result would be rubble, pretty much world-wide. That your physical ass was in the hands of people whacked enough to think that made sense. That your life could end in an instant, along with those of everyone you knew.
Nowadays, that end comes in a more personalized package. No longer does your entire city incinerate alongside you; now it’s just you and your coworkers, fellow restaurant- or concert-goers, or transit passengers. What we have is basically the democratization of the power of violence, which the nation-state has greedily claimed for its own from the moment of its inception. In fact that unitary right was almost its legitimization, given the incessant warring and destruction of the later Middle Ages up to the time when it became possible to forge artillery reliable enough to deploy in sieges. And with the easy availability of military-style weaponry around the world and most especially here in the US, it is inevitable not only that more San Bernadinos will happen but that worse is to come. Given the Senate’s craven refusal to prohibit watch-listed terrorists from buying guns, and the number of soldiers who have been trained in counterinsurgency techniques, it’s impossible to imagine that we’ve seen anything approaching peak terrorism.
Complicating the search for solutions is the purely gut-level response of much of the population, who as a result demand that the US do exactly what the terrorists are hoping we’ll do and as in Ted Cruz’s brilliantly creative formulation carpet-bomb them. How one might carpet-bomb a few tens of thousands of fighters amongst a population of millions, the lot spread among cities and rural areas across as many as ten countries, the good Senator and nobody else can explain because it’s a completely ridiculous concept. Yet this passes for reasoned debate in GOP circles!
In the end, though, this really is a clash of civilizations. Or perhaps more aptly it is a clash of civilization with the resistance to same. On the one side are fundamentalists everywhere, from Al-Raqqa to Alaska, for whom every interaction with anyone unlike themselves provokes the fear of learning something and is thus an excuse for violence. For such folks life is, or at least ought to be, black and white, good and evil, prescribed and forbidden. On the other side are relativists around the world, rarely concentrated enough to run a country by any system other than oligarchy, who see nuance and understand that judgments must be made rather than rules subscribed to. Civilization depends on nuance, but the human animal has evolved to promote superstition and fear. As a well-known movie Senator often said, we stand today at a crossroads… But we’ll muddle through, I imagine, much as we have over the last half-century, by daily denial of what we all know to be true: given our choices as a polis, at any moment someone might burst into the room clad in Kevlar, carrying assault weapons, and spraying bullets in our direction. And there’s very little we can do about it.
From The Guardian, another specimen of human filth from post-racist America:
The judge in Ferguson, Missouri, who is accused of fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city’s residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.
Ronald J. Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.
Brockmeyer, 70, was this week singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson’s strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues. The policy has been blamed for a breakdown in relations between the city’s overwhelmingly white authorities and residents, two-thirds of whom are African American.
Investigators found Brockmeyer had boasted of creating a range of new court fees, “many of which are widely considered abusive and may be unlawful”. A city councilman opposing the judge’s reappointment was warned “switching judges would/could lead to loss of revenue”.
They say that the first person in any political argument who stoops to invoking Nazi Germany automatically loses. But you can look it up: According to a 2006 article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, the English word “privatization” derives from a coinage, Reprivatisierung, formulated in the 1930s to describe the Third Reich’s policy of winning businessmen’s loyalty by handing over state property to them.
In the American context, the idea also began on the Right (to be fair, entirely independent of the Nazis) — and promptly went nowhere for decades. In 1963, when Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater mused “I think we ought to sell the TVA”— referring to the Tennessee Valley Authority, the giant complex of New Deal dams that delivered electricity for the first time to vast swaths of the rural Southeast — it helped seal his campaign’s doom. Things only really took off after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s sale of U.K. state assets like British Petroleum and Rolls Royce in the 1980s made the idea fashionable among elites — including a rightward tending Democratic Party.
From the New York Times:
On Fox News on Monday, a county sheriff in Texas said he had received reports that Qurans and Muslim clothing had been found on smuggling routes. He said that was evidence that Muslims had been smuggled into the United States.
“If they show their ugly head in our area, we’ll send them to hell,” said the sheriff, Gary Painter, of Midland County. “I would like for them to hit them so hard and so often that every time they hear a propeller on a plane or a jet aircraft engine that they urinate down both legs. When you do that, then you’ve accomplished a lot.”
Were you expecting great things from the man President Obama charged with getting at the truth of Michael Brown’s death by cop? As I wrote a couple of weeks back, don’t hold your breath. Some more reasons why:
As the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1993 to 1997, Holder was in charge of policing the local police. When police violence spiraled out of control, he did little to protect Washington residents from rampaging lawmen.
The number of killings by Washington police doubled from 1988 to 1995, the year 16 civilians died from officer gunfire. Police shot and killed people at a higher rate than any other major city police department, as a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post investigation revealed. The Post reported that “Holder said he did not detect a pattern of problematic police shootings and could not recall the specifics of cases he personally reviewed.” Holder declared: “I can’t honestly say I saw anything that was excessive…”
…from that mean old Congress:
WASHINGTON — Just after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted in April to declassify hundreds of pages of a withering report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program, C.I.A. Director John O. Brennan convened a meeting of the men who had played a role overseeing the program in its seven-year history…
Mr. Tenet, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has arranged a number of conference calls with former C.I.A. officials to discuss the impending report. After private conversations with Mr. Brennan, he and two other former C.I.A. directors — Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden — drafted a letter to Mr. Brennan asking that, as a matter of fairness, they be allowed to see the report before it was made public. Describing the letter, one former C.I.A. officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the former directors “think that those people who were heavily involved in the operations have a right to see what’s being said about them.”
…like a 78-year-old woman. More news from the United Police States of America. Read the whole piece by Emily DePrang from which this is excerpted.
Four of the fired officers were also indicted for misdemeanor official oppression. One was found not guilty — an all-white jury decided in May 2012 that Andrew Blomberg was not stomping on Holley’s hands but was trying to lift them with the back of his foot — one was found guilty and the other two pleaded no contest. All three received probation.
To Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, those former cops are the real victims. “If Chad Holley had been in school and not burglarizing a house,” he told me, “those officers would still be in this department.”
I asked Hunt how often the Chad Holley scenario — one suspect, multiple officers and “a question about force”— happens.
Hunt, who was a Houston patrol officer for 18 years, replied, “That happens a lot. And I can tell you—myself, two paramedics, my old partner and another police officer were in a similar type thing with a 78-year-old woman on a scene one time. And if that had been videotaped, I can only imagine what people would have thought we were doing to this person. All’s we were trying to do was make sure that her knife was gone and she was handcuffed. … But yeah, a lot of times, when you’ve got a citizen that’s fighting with officers, it may take seven, eight, nine officers to subdue that person. The adrenaline’s going, and it can be bad.”
Al Jazeera reports:
Police in Iceland said Monday they shot dead a gunman — the first time armed police have killed someone in the nation's history…
Former University of California, Davis policeman John Pike, who stirred public outrage by pepper-spraying peaceful student protesters during a 2011 sit-in against tuition hikes, has been awarded just over $38,000 in worker's compensation from the university for what Pike called psychiatric damage.
The ex-officer said he suffered mental distress after receiving more than 17,000 angry or threatening emails, 10,000 text messages and hundreds of letters when the video of the pepper-spraying went viral…
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Pike had earned more than $110,000 from his job in 2010, citing a database of state worker salaries from the last year for which figures are available.
First take a look at the video below, full-screen if you can. Have you seen it before? Probably not. And yet there was a time, some 20 years ago, when a similar video, of the beating of Rodney King, transfixed the entire nation. The only substantial difference between the King tape and the one below is that the Los Angeles police didn’t have Tasers. They had to torture their captive the old-fashioned way, with clubs and fists and boots. Those were primitive days…
It used to be that to torture a prisoner with electricity was a cumbersome process, requiring an electrical connection or a generator. Building on the principle of the cattle prod, however, science soon brought us the miracle of the portable taser, so that today any torturer in blue can deal out agonizing pain or death whenever and wherever the occasion presents itself. (“Death,” you say? Isn’t that going a little far? Not at all. Just this summer, just in Connecticut, police have Tasered two men to death. That brings our total to 13 since 2005.)
Here’s what happened to the Long Beach victim in the video, a 46-year-old man named Porfirio Santos-Lopez:
He underwent surgery at Long Beach Memorial Hospital for injuries sustained in the confrontation. “They broke two bones in his right arm. They collapsed his lung on the left side. He has two cuts on his right leg, a cut on his left, a cut on his head,” Santos-Lopez’ wife, Lee Ann Hernandez, said.
None of the officers involved in the incident have been placed on leave. No charges have been filed against Santos-Lopez.
Another difference between the torture of King and the torture of Lopez is the presence of a crowd in the latter case. The Long Beach police knew they were on camera. Cell phones were everywhere. People were shouting at the cowards to stop their torture. The cowards were indifferent. They knew, this being America, that they would never be punished. We just love our boys in blue all to pieces, as long as they confine their torture to the torturable classes. You’re never going to see John Yoo or Bernie Madoff on the ground, jerking and screaming.
I was there, on that historic day 50 years ago, yes I was. I was a young reporter for the Washington Post covering the March on Washington. Well, part of it anyway. The beginning. It was still dark when I showed up down by the Washington Monument, barely in the same time zone as the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where King and the others would speak.
My assignment was to cover George Lincoln Rockwell and his storm troopers in the American Nazi Party. The assignment of some 200 Washington policemen and National Guard MPs was to make sure that the constitutional right of the Nazis peaceably to assemble and freely to speak would be thoroughly abridged.
But neither the Nazis nor the cops had shown up yet. Only the marchers. Bus after bus was pulling in with out-of-state plates, headlights still on from driving all night. Dazed, sleepy, excited, confused people climbed out, carrying picnic hampers, lunch pails, shopping bags, blankets, umbrellas. Black and white, but mostly black. Negroes, we said then.
This was an amazing thing, this march that was assembling itself. Nothing like it had been seen before. Hatred, fire hoses, dogs, bombs, the bullets and clubs, these things we had seen. And now out of all this was coming courage and love and hope. In the dark I felt like crying, I was so proud of us at last. The next time I was to feel that way about my country was the night we elected Obama.
Back to the Nazis, though. There were 75 of them and my memory is that they wore their little Nazi caps and their little Nazi armbands and uniforms when they appeared at 6 a.m., but they didn’t. The story I resurrected from the Post archives yesterday says that the storm troopers wore mufti, and sneakers instead of jackboots. They were corralled into a space about 50 yards square, and the crowd outside the perimeter mostly ignored them. We were too far away to hear the early speakers, but the deputy commander of the Nazis tried to make a speech of his own at about 11. The police arrested him for speaking without a permit, and the whole bunch of them, my story says, “then trailed off single file across the 14th Street Bridge toward their cars.”
I trailed off myself for the paper, and wrote my story. It was about ten inches long. The headline was “Rockwell Nazis ‘Kaput’ in Counter Move,” which was the sort of failed attempt at cleverness or cuteness or something that was to be expected from the burn-outs on the copy desk.
My own attempt at cleverness had been, “The bridge rang from the shuffle of their sneakers as the storm troopers headed home to Virginia.”
“What the hell is this, Jerry?” the city editor said. “Shuffles don’t ring.”
“Yeah, but…” I started out. “Oh, Christ, Ben, go ahead. Change it any way you want.”
It must have been about that time, across town, that Martin Luther King was having his dream.
Here, via Naked Capitalism, is a Marine colonel on how to build a police state right under our cop-loving and soldier-sniffing eyes:
My best friend, who’s a SWAT officer in Nashua, who came to Iraq with me to train the Iraqi police, sent me an email with a picture of him in the media on the streets of Watertown, MA wearing the exact same combat gear that we had in Iraq, only it was a different color. And the way we do things in the military, it’s called task organization: You take a command, and then you attach units to it in order to accomplish the mission. What’s happening is that Homeland Security is pre-staging gear, equipment, consistent: What they’re trying to do is use standardized vehicles, standardized equipment. I saw a picture in the Boston Globe during the Marathon Bombing where there was a state police officer — Actually, there were two officers. They both had identical helmets, flak jackets, weapons, everything I wore in Iraq, only it was all blue. The officer on one side had a big patch on his back that said “MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE.” Another officer next to him, his patch said “BOSTON POLICE.”
And so what we’re doing here, and let’s not kid about it, we’re building a domestic army and we’re shrinking the military because the government is afraid of its own citizens. The last time more than ten terrorists were in the same place at one time was September 11, and all these vehicles in the world wouldn’t have prevented it, nor would it have helped anybody. So, I don’t know where we’re going to use this many vehicles and this many troops; Concord is just one little cog in the wheel. We’re building an Army over here and I can’t believe that people aren’t seeing it. Is everybody blind?
All I know about this nauseating video is that it comes from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas. The worst is not the weeping, baffled young victim nor the pig of a marshal. Not even the toddler crying for her mommy. The worst in this whole filthy mess is the family court judge who turns her back on the outrage in front of her to play, unconcerned, with the little girl’s teddy bear. Proof, once again, that scum rises to the top.
Robert Scheer on the duty to blow whistles:
As Principle IV of what came to be known as the Nuremberg Code states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
That is a heavy obligation, and the question we should be asking is not why do folks like Ellsberg, Snowden and Bradley Manning do the right thing, but rather why aren’t we bringing charges against the many others with access to such damning data of government malfeasance who remain silent?
Is there an international manhunt being organized to bring to justice Dick Cheney, the then-vice president who seized upon the pain and fear of 9/11 to make lying to the public the bedrock of American foreign policy? This traitor to the central integrity of a representative democracy dares condemn Snowden as a “traitor” and suggest that he is a spy for China because he took temporary refuge in Hong Kong.
Nothing lowers the level of public discourse more than playing the Hitler card. So let’s play it. (h/t to DownWithTyranny)
Here’s another of the many terrifying things that will never come up in the Presidential debates, or the campaign itself. Why should it? After all, the story can’t possibly be true, because we have the finest military in the history of the universe or any other universe now extant or ever to be born. Just ask any American politician.
Also troubling is the argument of how extreme ideology has been allowed into the military. British journalist Matt Kennard in his new book “Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror,” has tracked how the military has relaxed retention standards to maintain a fighting force for two wars — from raising the enlistment age and repealing the anti-gay Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to tolerating everything from drug abuse, corpulence, gang activity, and extremism. Misconduct discharges have also dropped, from a high of 2,560 before the wars to less than 1,500 by 2006.
The military policy on extremism has evolved since the Vietnam War, Kennard explains to Yahoo!, and “an active-duty soldier must reject active participation in white supremacy groups,” but “tons of discretion is given to the commander” over discipline. His book brings up the example of a criminal Army investigation of a soldier who provided a military technical manual to an extremist group. No charges were filed, since the organization couldn’t obtain the explosives and the “action commander or prosecutor indicated intent to do nothing or at least only ‘action amounting to less than a court proceeding.’”
Even more frightening is how some nihilists recommend using the military to get skills: essentially, government-subsidized training for extremists. That was the advice given by supremacist Dennis Mahon, who spoke to Kennard before he was arrested and sentenced to 40 years for a bomb attack:
“[The military] are so desperate at the moment; they are going to let you in with a small swastika... The soldiers learn from unconventional warfare in Iraq and they realize that they can use that type of warfare in America, and it’s impossible to stop. I tell people to learn as much as you can to improve munitions capabilities, patrolling; I want them to learn sniping and explosives, the Green Berets. Once they go in they are not supposed to tell anyone who they are.”
Fifty years ago today, and I was there. Well, partly, anyway. I was a reporter for the Washington Post, assigned to cover George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party for the day. The Nazi contingent had been allocated a spot way down by the Washington Monument, discreetly remote.
I got there at dawn. Already busses were rolling in, carrying mostly blacks from all over the country. They were singing together, happy and excited. America’s ancient cancer seemed for that moment to be in remission. It seemed at last possible to hope. Tears came to my eyes, the only time I ever cried as a reporter.
Rockwell and fifteen or twenty of his silly Nazi wannabes finally arrived, to become a tiny white tumor in this huge, healthy and mostly black organism. They were dressed in khakis with swastika armbands, black neckties and black belts. In the place of jackboots they wore street shoes or black sneakers.
The crowd surrounding the make-believe Sturmbannführers seemed more curious than hostile. The March on Washington was intended to be a demonstration of nonviolence, after all.
The day was turning out to be hot and long, though. When at last the proceedings began, tiny unrecognizable figures far off at the other end of the Reflecting Pool seemed to be saying or singing things that were hard to make out over the loudspeakers.
The temper of the crowd around the Nazis began to change. Nothing overt yet, but a mutter here and there, a gesture or two. The Nazis began to take council with each other and with their leader. Master race or not, Rockwell’s troopers found themselves in the heart of darkness — a tiny handful against a quarter of a million marchers.
And so they headed out, to rouse the rabble another day. The crowd made way for them, and the ragged little column walked, not marched, toward their headquarters across the Potomac in Arlington. I went along for a while, in case anything happened. But nothing did. Halfway across Memorial Bridge I turned back and headed for the office to write my story.
Mahalia Jackson and Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Marian Anderson hadn’t even come on yet. And of course I missed Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as well. I missed practically the whole thing. All I had was the memory of those busses arriving from all over the country at first light, and the people getting off laughing and singing in the still-cool dawn, full of impossible hope. That wasn’t the kind of thing you could put in the paper, though.
The metropolitan editor called me over after I turned in my story and read a line back to me: ‘Memorial Bridge rang to the shuffle of the storm troopers’ sneakers as they headed for home.’
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” he asked. “Sneakers can’t ring.”
How could I feel but naked, unprotected and helpless when I learned this just now on Yahoo News? What’s an old white man to do when Obama’s Panzers come to round up his guns and haul him before the death panels?
There is no restriction on the sale of bullets in the United States, except for armor-piercing rounds, which can only be bought by law enforcement, said Ginger Colbrun, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
This is a letter dated 17th July 1902 to Mr. W.F. Clark of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, from George F. Baer, president of the Philadephia & Reading Railway Company. Mr. Clark had urged Mr. Baer to end an ongoing strike of his railroad:
I see that you are a religious man; but you are evidently biased in favor of the right of the working man to control a business in which he has no other interest than to secure fair wages for the work he does.
I beg of you not to be discouraged. The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for — not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests of the country, and upon the successful management of which so much depends. Do not be discouraged. Pray earnestly that right may triumph, always remembering that the Lord God Omnipotent still reigns, and that His reign is one of law and order, and not of violence and crime.
The Hearst paper in New York said, “The pious pirate is no new thing. Baer and the relations between a just God and the thieving trusts must be left to the pulpit for adequate treatment.” The Times said the letter “verged very close upon unconscious blasphemy.”
The religious newspapers went farther. From Chicago: “selfish ignorant cant that this captain of industry mistakes for religion. This is the sort of thing that makes anarchists.”
From New York: “A ghastly blasphemy.”
From Boston: “The doctrine of the divine right of kings was bad enough, but not so intolerable as the doctrine of the divine right of plutocrats to administer things in general with the presumption that what it pleases them to do is the will of God.”
Today these hostile reactions from the MSM of 1902 read as odd relics of the nation’s remote pre-Christian past. Today Mr. Baer’s views have become the guiding principle of one of America’s two large — I can’t bring myself to say great — political parties.
Ohio state legislator Nina Turner has decided to dramatize the War On Women: Contraceptive Theater of Operations by attempting to place an equivalent burden on men:
...the Democrat has become the latest in a series of female state legislators to give her male colleagues a taste of their own medicine by introducing a bill that limits men’s ability to get a Viagra prescription without meeting certain government conditions.
Not bad. But I suggest we think in different terms. This is a calculated burden on a settled issue of the rights of American citizens. I modestly propose we burden another settled right, to dramatize that fact. Therefore, no one should be allowed to purchase a firearm in this country without being required to watch a 30-minute montage of coroner’s photos of children who have been killed by firearms in this country. The montage’s soundtrack should include “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton and “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Remaining music should be left up to the states, in acknowledgment of the Tenth Amendment.
Undoubtedly we will hear that this violates the Second Amendment. But since it doesn’t actually prevent anyone from acquiring the means to slaughter additional children, that argument should be easily countered.
Sinclair Lewis famously observed:
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
It just took a few shootings at Kent State to shut that down for good.
Surely Ms. Coulter couldn’t have said that out loud, right where humans could hear it? Maybe the San Francisco Weekly was doing a Lazy American on her: maybe “shootings” referred to what photojournalists do and “that” referred to the Vietnam War. To be fair and balanced, which is sort of a religion with me, I went to the KFSO radio site and made myself listen to the whole interview. The Weekly had the quote right, word for word. In context, “shootings” referred to the 67 rounds fired by the Ohio National Guard at long range, murdering the four unarmed, nonviolent students pictured below. “That” referred to student protests by the SDS and other commie-loving surrender monkeys of the day.
Jamie Dimon has put a down payment on his own police force:
JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation.
The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD’s main data center...
“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” Dimon said. “We’re incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work.”
I thought us li’l old taxpayers were supposed to pay for those things. So that the police would, you know, protect all of us.
Silly me. That would be socialism...
…Dr. Stephen R. Keister reminds us:
“Tell big lies. Do not qualify or concede a point, no matter how wrong you may be. Do not hesitate or stop for reservations. The masses are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional natures than consciously, and thus fall victims of the big lie rather than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies but would be ashamed to resort to large scale falsehoods.” — Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
In the interest of knowing thine enemy, I direct you to this. Don’t laugh. These pre-Gadarene swine are behind you, and catching up:
…Even the most conservative evangelicals said they were “New Testament Christians.” In other words, they believed that after the coming of Jesus, the harsher bits of the Bible had been (at least to some extent) transformed by the “New Covenant” of Jesus’ “Law of Love.”
By contrast, the leaders of Reconstructionism believed that Old Testament teachings — on everything from capital punishment for gays to the virtues of child-beating — were still valid because they were the inerrant Word and Will of God and therefore should be enforced. Not only that, they said that biblical law should be imposed even on nonbelievers. This theology was the American version of the attempt in some Muslim countries to impose Shariah (Islamic law) on all citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
It was my old friend, the short, stocky, bearded Armenian American Rousas Rushdoony who in 1973 most thoroughly laid out the far right/religious right agenda in his book, The Institutes of Biblical Law. Rushdoony changed the definition of salvation from the accepted evangelical idea that it applies to individuals to the claim that salvation is really about politics. With this redefinition, Rushdoony contradicted the usual reading of Jesus’ words by most Christians to mean that Jesus had not come to this earth to be a political leader: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
According to Rushdoony, all nations on earth should be obedient to the ancient Jewish/Christian version of “God’s Law,” so that the world will experience “God’s blessings.” Biblical salvation will then turn back the consequences of the Fall, and we’ll be on our way to the New Eden. To achieve this “turning back,” coercion must be used by the faithful to stop evildoers, who are, by definition, anyone not obeying all of God’s Laws as defined by the Calvinist and Reconstructionist interpretation of the Bible…
… they’re even worse, Philip Green argues in Logos. Excerpts:
…Thus the extension of the rule of law to encompass governance over the destructive powers of the free market for labor has often been the most important arena of all for the protection of democratic citizenship. If the dogma of the market rules over all, there can be no democratic political equality: One law for the Lion & Ox is oppression…
As though to underline a reality that the commentariat prefers to ignore, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was followed by the abolition of all Ba’athist legislation: except for the outlawing of unionization in the dominant public sector — including the nationalized oil industry — which the American occupiers left in force. Capital’s class war knows no boundaries…
Put simply, the wealthy won’t pay for public goods or collective welfare, and the declining middle class can’t. To take but one of many examples: the aging of the population is a pending demographic and policy disaster, yet the only approach ever discussed publicly is the destructive idea of cutting back or worse, privatizing social security — presumably so it can share the same visible fate as private pension-dependency and home ownership…
As for opposition to “big government,” this has always and only referred to extensions of the social safety net, of the possibilities of truly equal opportunity, never to the bigness of militarism and empire; let alone “the enormous increase in continuous, centrally organized and controlled intervention” that made the free market for labor possible.
Like Macbeth, we Americans are by now “in blood stepped in so far that … returning were as tedious as go o’er.” The two torturers named below are psychologists. Their equally responsible enablers, to pick a few out of millions, are John Ashcroft, John Yoo, George Tenet, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and now Eric Holder and Barack Obama.
Joining these moral cripples are the millions who think torture may be regrettable but is sometimes necessary, and after all, Daddy knows best. Besides, waterboarding isn’t really torture anyway. For these last, I refer you to the world’s greatest expert, Henri Alleg. Waterboarding was not the first torture to which French army sadists subjected him. It was the last and most terrible resort, after beating, testicle-burning and electric shocks had failed to break their victim.
WASHINGTON — The CIA agreed to cover at least $5 million in legal fees for two contractors who were the architects of the agency's interrogation program and personally conducted dozens of waterboarding sessions on terror detainees, former U.S. officials said.
The secret agreement means taxpayers are paying to defend the men in a federal investigation over an interrogation tactic the U.S. now says is torture. The deal is even more generous than the protections the agency typically provides its own officers, giving the two men access to more money to finance their defense…
Mitchell and Jessen were recorded interrogating Zubaydah and al-Nashiri and were eager to see those tapes destroyed, fearing their release would jeopardize their safety, former officials and others close to the matter said.
They often contacted senior CIA officials, urging them to destroy the tapes and asking what was taking so long, said a person familiar with the Durham investigation who insisted on anonymity because the case's details remain sensitive. Finally the CIA's top clandestine officer, Jose Rodriguez, made the decision to destroy the tapes in November 2005.
Durham investigated whether that was a crime. He subpoenaed Mitchell, Jessen & Associates last year, looking for calendars, e-mails and phone records showing contact between the contractors and Rodriguez or his chief of staff, according to a federal subpoena. They were ordered to appear before a grand jury in northern Virginia in August 2009.
Last month, Durham closed the tapes destruction investigation without filing charges.
This just in from Santa Fe (h/t to Everett). We are all doomed.
SANTA FE — Students in Santa Fe have to wear ID badges to class, complete with a built-in tracking device.
The Smart Badge program started this school year, and is getting mixed reviews from parents and students. Patrick Mann is a senior and said he feels like he’s in prison. “Normally, the only people you would track are say prisoners or somebody that’s done something very wrong,” Mann said.
All students at Santa Fe Junior High and Santa Fe High School have to wear the radio frequency IDs. The sensors are in the ceiling on campus, but Mann said they keep tabs of you off campus too…
From the Portland Press Herald:
Late Friday afternoon, as Maine’s Republican State Convention fanned out from the Portland Expo to county caucuses at nearby King Middle School, GOP loyalists from Knox County found themselves directed to Classroom 110 — the domain of eighth-grade social studies teacher Paul Clifford…
When he went home for the weekend on Friday, one of Clifford’s most prized teaching tools — a collage-type poster depicting the history of the U.S. labor movement — was affixed to his classroom door. Clifford uses it each year to teach his students how to incorporate collages into their annual project on Norman Rockwell’s historic “Four Freedoms” illustrations…
Details are sketchy — as they often can be when political passion gives way to apparent criminal activity. But this much we know: When Clifford returned to school Monday morning, his cherished labor poster was gone.
In its place, taped to the same door, was a red-white-and-blue bumper sticker that read, “Working People Vote Republican…”
[Republican callers] also objected to the contents of a closed cardboard box they found near Clifford’s desk. Upon opening it for a look-see, they found copies of the U.S. Constitution printed and donated to the school by (gasp) the American Civil Liberties Union.
Back when I worked for the United States Information Agency, manning freedom’s ramparts in Casablanca during the Vietnam war, I had a poster in my office that read, “Fuck Communism.” Those were the days, my friend… And in those days, my friend, another popular bumper sticker said, “Fuck Hate.”
This rant from today’s BLCKDGRD is along similar lines:
I remember our time in Deale [Maryland], when we had our friends Henry and Donna to the marina house for a weekend, being told the minute they drove out of the parking lot by four cracker boat owners that if I ever let that nigger and his white skank race traitor bitch back they’d lynch my ass too. I told them to fuck off; my tires were slashed that night.
It’s obvious with my constant cracker this christer that I’m a stone bigot, but I’ve never said I was tolerant. I try to be intolerant to everyone, but I’m not large enough, I’m weak, I haven’t a reservoir of endless hate, I haven’t endless time to hate, I need to focus what hate I can summon on a few select targets — Arcade Fire, Raymond Carver, Terry Fucking Vaughn — that don’t affect the quality of anyone’s life but my own, and on a few large targets that affect the quality of my selfish insignificant life as a happily complicit home-owning, tax-paying, law-abiding, bloody-handed cog in capital’s race to ingest everything, and motherfucking crackers nostalgic for 1920’s Alabama and motherfucking christers jonesing for white jeebus, well, it’s delicious to hate them, it’s delicious to demonize them, it’s delicious to organize to keep them out of our schools, out of our state houses, to keep their hands off our wives’ and daughters’ uteruses, to keep them as marginalized and mocked and furious and ugly as possible.
And yes, I know crackers are funded and encouraged to be ugly to keep rubes like me busy hating them rather than hating what needs hating more, to keep me nostalgic for an America that will never be. I’m working to make my hate more copious, more all encompassing.
Meet Mike Vanderboegh of Pinson, Alabama, who was:
“…unapologetic in a 45-minute telephone interview with The Washington Post early Thursday. He said he believes throwing bricks through windows sends a warning to Democratic lawmakers that the health-care reform legislation they passed Sunday has caused so much unrest that it could result in a civil war…
He said his call for people to throw bricks is “both good manners and it’s also a moral duty to try to warn people.”
From Reconstitution 2.0:
According to the Reverend John Hagee, Adolph Hitler was a “hunter,” sent by God, who was tasked with expediting God’s will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.
Going in and out of biblical verse, Hagee preached: “‘And they the hunters should hunt them,’ that will be the Jews. ‘From every mountain and from every hill and from out of the holes of the rocks.’ If that doesn’t describe what Hitler did in the holocaust you can’t see that.”
Yes, Hitler the Hunter came to the Earth to do the Lord’s work. This attitude among Jesusistanis is not an uncommon one; the simple fact of the matter is that most Jesusistanis are more or less open anti-Semites. A lot of people seem to think that the unwavering support the Jesusistanis have for Israel “proves” that they aren’t anti-Semites, but that belief is wholly mistaken. In order for the “Rapture” dogma of the Jesusistanis to come to pass, the Jews have to be in Jerusalem to be burned alive and sent to Hell. Understand that this, and only this, is why the Jesusistanis are such unabashed, staunch supporters of Israel.
Thanks to Common Dreams and Sara Robinson who reminds us about fascism and how a country arrives there and where we are on that road and what to do about it :
We’ve arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we’re slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no country has ever been able to return.
Woody reminds of of an earlier time. And goads us into moving in the direction of light and sunshine. But will we before it’s too late?
Ma, that’s not where we want to go.
There’s not much more to say about this song, although Warner Music refuses to allow the original sung by Dylan to be released on Youtube. This rendition by Eddie, Mike and GE Smith is better performed than Dylan did it anyway.
I would note that religion crept into these folk songs during the folk revival of the early 1960 quite often. I believe that the “early” folk singers understood that they needed to appeal to a broad audience and bring a broader group into their way of seeing things and into a higher level of social consciousness, so they added a few lyrics for that purpose. My apologies to the atheists.
I’ve always had a preference for Ian and Sylvia’s version of this song and I regularly look for their version on Youtube, but until I discovered the version below, I never knew that Paul Robeson sang it. I think I’m going to change my preference even though the Ian and Sylvia version has a quiet beauty that I still find spellbinding.
Coming from Paul Robeson, even though he was not Canadian, I still understand how poignant this song must have been for him, and for all of us who know some of what the United States Government did to him solely for his beliefs. In many ways, Robeson himself was an exile in his own country, for example as stated in his Wikipedia entry
To this day, Paul Robeson’s FBI file is one of the largest of any entertainer ever investigated by the United States Intelligence Community, requiring its own internal index and unique status of health file.
If you’re not familiar with who Paul Robeson was and what he stood for and what the US Government did to him for his beliefs, please go read the rest of his Wikipedia entry linked to above. And then listen to the his remarkable voice singing this wonderful but sad folk song.
Incidentally, I noticed that the song is called Le Canadien Errant on this version but is almost universally referred to elsewhere as Un Canadien Errant. I cannot say whether this has any significance but it is unusual to see the song referred to in that manner. (and sung in English with some verse changes) Perhaps it means nothing and perhaps it has a hidden meaning. Maybe one of our French speaking readers or writers here could offer me a clue as I always look for hidden meanings in small deviations from what is considered normal and I find the name change puzzling and can’t help but wonder if it has a hidden meaning, perhaps signaling that Robeson considered himself an exile in his own country.
From the Associated Press:
“The assumption is that the (methods) are without effect on memory, or indeed facilitate the retrieval of information from memory,” O’Mara said.
But overwhelmingly, scientific literature shows the opposite: Chronic stress and trauma — the likely result of the CIA’s methods, particularly for long-term prisoners, according to O’Mara — can damage the hippocampus, the part of the brain that integrates memory.
The list of techniques the CIA used included prolonged sleep deprivation — six days in at least one instance — being chained in painful positions, exploitation of prisoners’ phobias, and waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning that President Barack Obama has called torture. Three CIA prisoners were waterboarded, two of them extensively.
Those methods cause the brain to release stress hormones that, if their release is repeated and prolonged, may result in compromised brain function and even tissue loss, O’Mara wrote.
He warned that this could lead to brain lobe disorders, making the prisoners vulnerable to confabulation — in this case, the pathological production of false memories based on suggestions from an interrogator. Those false memories mix with true information in the interrogation, making it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fabricated.
Waterboarding is especially stressful “with the potential to cause widespread stress-induced changes in the brain, especially when these are repeated frequently and intensively,” O’Mara wrote.
You’ll want to watch the video on this story from McClatchy Newspapers.
MERCED, Calif. — The Merced Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division is investigating whether an officer twice used a Taser on an unarmed, wheelchair-bound man with no legs…
Pinnegar grabbed William’s 2-year-old daughter from his lap, handing her to the CPS worker. “I said, ‘What are you doing? I haven’t done anything!’” Williams said.
Williams said Pinnegar unholstered his Taser, jammed it into his rib cage and shocked him twice. Williams said he fell from his chair onto his stomach on the ground outside his doorway.
Try to look on the bright side, though. At least the cop got the two-year-old girl out of the shock path before torturing her crippled father.
The original story is from the Merced Sun-Star, which carried this additional bit of background:
Three inmate deaths in the last five months have occurred in Stanislaus County Jail after corrections officers used Tasers to subdue prisoners. Last year, Merced County agreed to pay $650,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an inmate who died after a struggle involving correctional officers who used a Taser at the Merced County Jail.
Any more of this crypto-fascist indoctrination from the control freak in the White House and I’m voting for Ron Paul next time:
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home — that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school.
Martha Bridegam sends along this emanation from Arkansas — another ripe specimen from the political cesspool out of which Bill Clinton hoisted himself, and which keeps trying to drag him back.
The story is majestic in its improbability. Imagine a would-be jailhouse smuggler filling up a Doritos bag with knives and needles and trying to sneak it past the guards. Imagine further that this smuggler is the sworn enemy of the prison administration.
By contrast, imagine this: A frequent and hated visitor is known to grab a bag of Doritos from the machine on her way in. A malevolent and dimwitted guard suggests leaving a Doritos bag full of contraband in the bin. Another guard, this one with an IQ that breaks into three digits but barely, points out that anyone smart enough to have been White House chief of staff might notice that the bag was (A) open, (B) clanked, and (C) weighed a lot more than a handful of Doritos.
Why not let the bitch buy her usual bag, take it from her for the usual X-ray, and then just replace it with a bag full of the tattooing gear we confiscated last week?
Note also the ridiculous but vicious overcharging — a separate felony count for each of the 48 “tattoo needles” — which has become customary in our ridiculous but vicious criminal justice system, and not just in Arkansas.
Read all about it here.
Here’s a post by Papa Bonk on Ketchup is a Vegetable. What think?
Benito Mussolini and Adolpf Hitler both came to power with the aid of hoodlums and thugs who showed up at political rallies, shouted down the speakers and beat up opposition leaders. As time went by, normal citizens learned to stay out of their way and shut up.
Politics by thuggery is a defining element of facism. That’s what the GOOP and the health care industry is practicing now in an attempt to derail real reform in health insurance. We are seeing it in town hall meetings held by Democratic Party leaders across the country. Hordes of unkempt, illiterate dumbasses shout down other speakers and drown out debate, the threat of violence simmering just below the surface. Their whole game is to disrupt and delay the health care agenda and ultimately defeat President Obama by forcing a failure on his most important policy objective.
Wiser heads tell us that we can use this behavior to our advantage. It demonstrates the true colors of the opposition, it is said, and will ultimately turn public opinion in our favor. I am sure the people in the choir believe that. I am not so certain.
There is a frightened, mindless wasteland out there. A landscape of uneducated clerks and real estate agents and shoe salespersons and Mary Kaye clients. They are frightened as sheep, and easily stampeded. A show of force, a hint of instability, a suspicion that the President of the United States may not be one of us after all, may be all it takes to return us the nightmare days of Busch GOOP leadership.
It’s a dangerous game and should not be taken lightly. I am very happy to allow the public relations boys and the political experts to take on this threat and solve it by peaceable means. But I think it shows us graphically why it is that liberals should forget about gun control and learn something about guns.
I have a fat and constantly growing file of FBI stupidity, inefficiency, incompetence, bribery, theft, entrapment, perjury, burglary, and murder. But this — this — still surprised. To think of such a thing requires a mind of vileness beyond the imagination of decent people. To carry it out is unspeakable.
…But Boyd, a 41-year-old mother of five and U.S.-born convert to Islam, reserved her sharpest comments for what she called a cruel trap that law enforcement authorities set up to get her out of her house Monday while agents scoured it for documents after the arrest of her husband, two sons and four other men.
Boyd, whose family lives in the Johnston County community of Willow Spring, described a harrowing experience Monday afternoon when she answered the door to find a man she thought was a family friend wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodied. He told her that Daniel and their three sons, Dylan, Noah and Zakariya, were in a serious car crash. He asked her to get into a Highway Patrol cruiser that would take her to Duke Hospital, where they were being treated.
Boyd summoned her daughter and pregnant daughter-in-law. They wrapped their heads in scarves, grabbed their Qurans and flew out the door. For Boyd, it was a particularly painful experience. Her 16-year-old son, Luqman, died in a car crash near their home in 2007.
When they arrived at Duke Hospital, the cruiser took them to a construction site at the rear of the facility. A man dressed as a doctor came out and asked whether she was the wife. When she said yes, he extended his hand. She told him she does not shake men’s hands. He then grabbed her wrist and handcuffed her.
“I’m not a doctor. I’m an agent and your family is not in the hospital,” he told her. “You’re being detained, and you need to cooperate with us.”
Boyd estimates she was then surrounded by 30 agents who frisked her and asked whether she had weapons or weapons of mass destruction…
U.S. District Attorney George E. B. Holding declined to respond to Boyd’s version. “I am sticking to the four corners of the indictment. We try our cases in court and won’t go back and forth before then,” he said Tuesday.
Holding, you will be unsurprised to learn, is a piece of legal litter left over from the George W. Bush administration. He is a fat rich kid who owes his job to that unspeakable embarrassment from North Carolina, the late Senator Jesse Helms.
One of Obama’s most puzzling failures has been leaving so many George Holdings in their U.S. Attorney jobs, bad aftertastes from the most disgraceful period in the history of the Justice Department. When you move into a new house, it’s a good idea to clear out the old owner's garbage.
Nephew Will Doolittle’s column in today’s Glens Falls Post-Star:
The point of social institutions, especially legal institutions, is to impose uniformity and objectivity on social interactions that would otherwise be personal and unpredictable.
When Mario Cuomo was governor of New York, and debating the death penalty, which he opposed, he would propose a scenario where a member of his own family was killed during a robbery, making the criminal eligible for a first-degree murder charge.
Would he want that murderer executed? Would he want to kill him with his own hands?
Yes, Cuomo would say, but, for the good of all, the legal system would not allow him a personal revenge.
Victims are prohibited from punishing their victimizers, except through the offices of the state. That’s how order is maintained.
When I have criticized Bush-era officials for engaging in torture, the most consistent response from readers has been, “What if your child were in danger?”
Let’s say my child were kidnapped and, by some fantastic set of circumstances, one of the kidnappers was sitting in my kitchen and I believed that, by torturing him, I could save my child — would I do it?
I probably would, which is no justification for legalizing torture.
It is our capacity for violence that makes laws forbidding it necessary, unless, of course, you think torture is fine.
If torture is fine, then, as Jesse Ventura asked recently, why didn’t we torture Timothy McVeigh to find out who helped him in the Oklahoma City attack? Why not torture murderers for the names of their accomplices? Why not torture prisoners of war for information about our enemies?
If, as Dick Cheney asserts, the end of squeezing information out of suspected al-Qaida terrorists justified the means of torturing them, then, surely, torture is worth doing in other circumstances where American lives are threatened.
We should have tortured prisoners we captured during the Vietnam War, for example, to find out what they knew about our enemy’s plans.
We should have tortured Squeaky Fromme after she tried to shoot Gerald Ford, to find out if any other members of the Manson family were planning to attack the president (one of them was).
We should torture teens caught plotting Columbine-style attacks to make sure no co-conspirators are left at large.
The question is not whether torture works. Let’s say it does. The question is whether the costs of employing torture outweigh the benefits of any information you glean. I think they do.
When I was growing up, my father was an itinerant worker in that we moved around a fair amount, from small town to small town in the South. During those years, Strom Thurmond was busily courting Northern companies to come down South and because my father was an engineer with a local utility, managers who were engineers were needed in different areas to build out the electrical infrastructure for the new factories moving into the South.
In one town we lived in, Allendale, South Carolina, I joined the Cub Scouts, a nice group of boys whose den mother was the wife of a local lawyer. However, when we moved to another town my parents wanted me to join the Boy Scouts there and at the first meeting upon arriving, I found boys beating other boys with belts and that was the end of the Boy Scouts for me.
However, I still had good memories of my previous years spent at the lawyer’s house doing crafts and on trips we'd make out of town, like the time we visited a television station in a distant town and I was chosen to be the TV poster child for the milk company by tasting the milk on a television show and giving my opinion. I don’t think they were happy with this seven year old’s answer: “pretty good” — however the milk we had at home was as close to raw milk as it gets so the city milk they were having me taste me wasn’t up to my local standards at that time. It didn't help that the next kid picked got to try the ice cream, but I suppose I had the healthy look that milk producers wanted. So my memories of the Boy Scouts were largely positive in my youth.
However, I don’t recognize the Boy Scouts today as it appears they’ve turned into an American version of the Nazi youth in their Explorer program according to this New York Times article. A short quote from the article follows. Now go read the rest. Can you think of anything more sickening than darkening the minds of our youth by indoctrinating them into ideological fascism that many will live with for the rest of their lives?
...[T]he more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers’ most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group’s 145,000 members, said John Anthony, national director of Learning for Life. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many posts have taken on an emphasis of fighting terrorism and other less conventional threats.
“Before it was more about the basics,” said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. “But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling.”
The law enforcement posts are restricted to those ages 14 to 21 who have a C average, but there seems to be some wiggle room. “I will take them at 13 and a half,” Deputy Lowenthal said. “I would rather take a kid than possibly lose a kid.”
The law enforcement programs are highly decentralized, and each post is run in a way that reflects the culture of its sponsoring agency and region. Most have weekly meetings in which the children work on their law-enforcement techniques in preparing for competitions. Weekends are often spent on service projects
One commenter at the New York Times slyly asks a question that might very well lead to litigation against the Scouts and police agencies involved in this “training”
There is no mention of gays being allowed to participate in this program, contrary to Boy Scout policy? If gays are not allowed to participate, or even encouraged to participate like everyone else in this program, it’s illegal for a dime of state or federal funds to be spent on police officer time spent in support of this program. As it should be.This being the case, I assume all police or other law enforcement time and resources are donated and have no impact on tax payers?
Orrin Hatch or Jay Bybee? Explain your answer in detail.
The Rude Pundit is shocked, shocked— You can tell because he got through an entire paragraph without potty-mouthing.
But what doesn’t come through immediately is the answer to a simple question: why? Why did the Bush administration commit and allow (and encourage, if not force others to commit) what are, seemingly without a doubt, treaty-busting crimes? Because, see, you read something like footnote 10 on page 2 and you come across this line: “According to Gonzales, the ‘positive’ consequences of setting aside the Third Geneva Convention include ‘preserving flexibility’ and ‘substantially reduc[ing] the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act,’” and you realize that, whatever the motivation of the people involved, they didn’t care. And they didn’t care for a simple reason to answer that simple question: the Bush administration thought it was the beginning of an ascendant Republican reign and that they’d never be investigated.
Scott Horton over at Harper’s No Comment Blog is rightly agonizing over the fact that we have a torture enabler and what some have seriously referred to as a monster sitting on the Federal Bench. This “subject” ( I use the term here to properly refer to this individual as a prosecutor or police offer would do when an accused is referred to in court) sits on a federal bench judging others who are guilty of much lesser crimes. After all, torturers and torture enablers were routinely hanged by Allied Courts at Nuremburg and in the Pacific Theater after World War II. American court officials routinely participated in these proceedings.
Some may think all of this is quite complicated, but I find it simple since the solution to resolving the problem is quite simple. I am of the opinion that simple problems can be resolved with simple solutions.
Therefore I propose a remedy to the Bybee problem, a problem that every decent lawyer knows is a black eye on the Federal Judiciary and will remain so for years to come if not remedied. I am therefore making an extremely modest proposal which I propose should be taken seriously, despite my labeling this post as partly snark.
The US needs an official representative from our esteemed judiciary to view the proceedings in Spain to ensure that they are carried out in a fair manner. I am sure the Spanish courts would be happy to oblige us if we were to choose the proper emissary. If I were the presiding judge or court official who could carry out the task of assigning the court official to engage in this duty, I would immediately assign this task to a new judge. Since Judge Bybee would have intimate knowledge of what the proceedings were about, he should be sent immediately to Spain to fulfill his judicial duties.
Of course, this might involve the devil and the deep blue sea, rocks and hard places, frying pans and fires and dozens of other things and places that go together like crude oil mixes with water. However, those are individual problems that at least one individual will have to deal with.
However this proposal is not without precedent. Robert Houghwout Jackson was sent to participate in the Nuremberg trials. Why should Judge Bybee not likewise be assigned a task in another country along the same lines? Younger judges should be given the traveling assignments in my opinion and Judge Bybee fills the bill for this assignment perfectly.
I am of the opinion that Judge Jay S. Bybee should be given this assignment forthwith, with Hillary Clinton at the State Department making proper accommodations for his stay, preferably in a five star hotel, for as long as those fine accommodations last. And if free accommodations are given by the Spaniards to one of our own, the Federal Budget would be that much better off. Allowing such an emissary diplomatic immunity is beyond the scope of this modest assignment of course, so that should definitely not be given as it is definitely not needed due to our emissary’s somewhat limited assigned duties. A few select CIA agents might be assigned the task of ensuring the judge’s security.
This assignment should be a mandatory assignment. Refusal to do one’s duty as a judge would of course mean impeachment.
Or Judge Bybee could spare himself and everyone else great embarrassment for years to come by doing the right thing. And he and all right thinking Americans know exactly what that is.
Mr. Obama, are you listening? Some of your former supporters are getting the opinion that you are going to end up letting the Europeans take care of American problems. If we don’t deal with letting the rule of law determine what happens to the torturers and their enablers, then we can expect the pattern and the behavior to repeat itself.
I hope to be dead by then and I don’t and won’t have any children to worry about what they may have to endure when the cycle repeats. Others are not so lucky.
In August of 2006 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a Justice Department lawyer named Steven G. Bradbury confessed his confusion over certain obscure terms used in the Geneva Conventions:
Although many of the provisions of Common Article 3 prohibit actions that are universally condemned, such as “murder,” “mutilation,” “torture,” and the “taking of hostages,” it is undeniable that some of the terms in Common Article 3 are inherently vague. For example, Common Article 3 prohibits “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment,” a phrase that is susceptible of uncertain and unpredictable application.
Bradbury was being too modest, however. More than a year before, he had already settled on at least one thing that does not constitute humiliation. Here it is, from a memo in May of 2005 to John A. Rizzo, a lawyer for the Central Intelligence Agency:
If the detainee is clothed, he wears an adult diaper under his pants. Detainees subject to sleep deprivation who are also subject to nudity as a separate interrogation technique will at times be nude and wearing a diaper.
If the detainee is wearing a diaper, it is checked regularly and changed as necessary. The use of the diaper is for sanitary and health purposes of the detainee; it is not used for the purpose of humiliating the detainee, and it is not considered to be an interrogation technique. The detainee’s skin condition is monitored, and diapers are changed as needed so that the detainee does not remain in a soiled diaper.…
This makes the matter plain. Forcing a prisoner to defecate in diapers while his jailers watch is not done with intent to humiliate, but simply to keep the man clean and healthy.
Bradbury does not address the possibility of collateral humiliation because for him intent is the main thing at issue. I find this argument convincing, and plan to use it if I am ever charged with murder for shooting Mr. Bradbury through the heart while intending merely to perforate his bowels.
…and the Honorable Jay S. Bybee is perhaps up around the gills somewhere, behind such moral vacuums as George Tenet, Richard Cheney and, at the very tippy-top where the hook ought to go but won’t, George W. Bush.
Following his spell as a torture enabler at the Justice Department the Honorable Bybee was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with the enthusiastic support of Senator Harry Reid and Senator Charles Schumer. I think we should all know more about the Honorable Bybee, and I will supply it later. Meanwhile, from The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The first use of waterboarding and other rough treatment against a prisoner from Al Qaeda was ordered by senior Central Intelligence Agency officials despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum…
Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said…
The legal basis for this treatment is uncertain, but lawyers at C.I.A. headquarters were in constant touch with interrogators, as well as with Mr. Bybee’s subordinate in the Office of Legal Counsel, John C. Yoo, who was drafting memos on the legal limits of interrogation…
Another Bush League bait-and-switch operation, brought to you courtesy of the xenophobic /racist wing (is there any other?) of the GOP?
The raids on homes around the country were billed as carefully planned hunts for dangerous immigrant fugitives, and given catchy names like Operation Return to Sender.
And they garnered bigger increases in money and staff from Congress than any other program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even as complaints grew that teams of armed agents were entering homes indiscriminately.
But in fact, beginning in 2006, the program was no longer what was being advertised. Federal immigration officials had repeatedly told Congress that among more than half a million immigrants with outstanding deportation orders, they would concentrate on rounding up the most threatening — criminals and terrorism suspects.
Instead, newly available documents show, the agency changed the rules, and the program increasingly went after easier targets. A vast majority of those arrested had no criminal record, and many had no deportation orders against them, either.
Brother Bill sends this dispatch from The Lehigh Valley Express-Times. He knew perfectly well I couldn’t resist posting it. I have added several comments from the paper’s readers. Others may occur to you.
JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell and Adolf Hitler Campbell.From FLBryce: If they have twins will they name one Ass and one Elbow because they can’t tell them apart?
Good names for a trio of toddlers? Heath and Deborah Campbell think so. The Holland Township couple has picked those names and the oldest child, Adolf Hitler Campbell, turns 3 today.
This has given rise to a problem, because the ShopRite supermarket in Greenwich Township has refused to make a cake for young Adolf’s birthday.
“We believe the request ... to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate,” said Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman.
The Campbells turned down the market’s offer to make a cake with enough room for them to write their own inscription and can’t understand what all of the fuss is about…
From goback2nj: is that a mullet? in 2008? wow! that alone is almost child abuse
From van2028: What I see here is a craving for media attention. In my short 18 1/2 years on this earth, I can pretty much say that I have never seen a full name on a cake… Adolf, you have a very happy birthday, cake or not. I apologize for your parents stupidity as well. Oh yea, and have fun being unemployed in 20 years.
If there is any truth to this commentary by Ray McGovern that was posted on the Real News Network, Obama may have made a serious mistake in allowing Gates to continue on in his currrent capacity. Or perhaps Obama already knows about this problem and has plans to deal with it later. I also want to be skeptical about what McGovern says about Rumsfeld and have deep suspicions about it. But does anyone think what is said here about Rumsfeld is true? He was a tyrant, but perhaps less so than I formerly believed. Can anyone shed light on these questions for me because I’m hopelessly ill informed about these folks and want to hear more opinions on this subject.
Remarkably, this is from a former federal judge and the current attorney general of the United States. Something very similar could have been said, and no doubt was, by the legal enablers working for Hitler, Stalin, and the Spanish Inquisition.
“There is absolutely no evidence anybody who rendered a legal opinion either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policy did so for any reason other than to protect the security of the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful,” Mukasey said.
Try it yourself the next time you’re picked up for speeding. Explain to the the cop that your lawyer told you the speed limit was 95 and let me know how it works out.
Newt Gingrich on The O’Reilly Factor:
And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact. And, frank— for that matter, if you believe in the historic version of Islam or the historic version of Judaism, you have to confront the reality that these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they’re the opposite, of what you’re taught in Sunday.Brady Bonk, at Ketchup Is a Vegetable:
You see, Newt, it is actually the secular component of our society that GUARDS religious freedom. Without it, religious freedom is impossible. There is either a secular, neutral public square in the middle, or there’s a state-sponsored church-o-god, and you’d better get there every Sunday or the Jesus Police will come get you and throw you in the slam. It is the secular public square that allows our Jewish friends and our Muslim friends, and yes, our Christian friends, to enter their houses of worship and to talk to whatever imaginary friend in the sky they wish.
Glenn Greenwald, writing at Salon yesterday noted a very depressing fact, not that there aren’t thousands more examples of similar behavior during the last shameful eight years.
The Washington Post Editorial Page today hails the courage of six journalists who have faced down persecution and grave danger in their line of work and who, consequently, are this week receiving the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists:
Plainclothes Ugandan police officers descended yesterday on the newsroom of the weekly newsmagazine the Independent, seizing computer documents and attempting to deliver an arrest warrant to managing editor Andrew M. Mwenda. “Unluckily, I was out of Uganda,” Mr. Mwenda told us. Unluckily? “Yes. I do not want them to think I am running away” . . . .
Mr. Mwenda is in the United States to receive an International Press Freedom award from the Committee to Protect Journalists . . . .
Mr. Mwenda's courage is typical of CPJ award winners. Others being honored this year include photographer Bilal Hussein of the Associated Press, whom the U.S. military imprisoned in Iraq for two years without charges; Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad, who run a news agency in Afghanistan, one of the world's most dangerous places for reporters, and especially for female reporters such as Ms. Nekzad; Beatrice Mtetwa, a lawyer who has defended journalists against the vicious persecution of President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe; and Cuban journalist Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez.
So, to recap the award winners: we have a reporter persecuted by the Ugandan Government; another imprisoned by the Castro regime; a journalist-defending lawyer who faced down the intimidation and threats of Robert Mugabe; two journalists who work at great risk of being attacked by the Taliban; and one who was arrested by the U.S. military and then imprisoned for two years without any charges or due process of any kind by the United States Government. As happens so frequently now, that is the company we keep.
I have a modest proposal for dealing with this situation. I’m sure most of our readers have seen those FBI wanted posters that have two holes in them and are routinely placed in Post Offices throughout the United States. Why not create similar wanted posters for the cretins responsible for the outrageous assaults on civil liberties throughout the world, both inside and outside of the United States.
Make them printable on web sites and develop an all out concerted effort to legally post them all over the United States and the World. The Freeway sign project seems to have run its course, but now it’s time to make sure the fascists in our midst are constantly reminded of what they have done. If the crimes committed under the Bush administration are swept under the rug and quietly forgotten, you can be sure that we as a nation will commit them again. We must publicly embarrass those who were not prosecuted by the lax prosecutors who were led by Michael Mukasey, Alberto Gonzalez and John Ashcroft and others who often defended and made possible these inhumane and illegal policies. By posting wanted posters of those responsible for atrocities committed in our names, we will insure that for at least one generation and hopefully many more, people will not forget what happened. We have an army of liberal bloggers with computers and printers and all it will take is someone with the talent to design the wanted posters.
A poster that someone prepared of George Bush appears below, but it would not be sufficient since most of his crimes are not outlined there. We have a multitude of CIA agents who have been prosecuted in Italy as well as Camp Psychologists at Guantanamo Bay who supervised torture whose names need to become publicly known so they can never be allowed to engage in such activity again. We must approach this project as seriously as other war crimes prosecutions during the last century. Even if government won’t prosecute those “acting under orders’ or even those who issued those orders, public humiliation and shame will make others think twice before engaging in such activity again.
Does anyone think this would be a worthwhile project? I’m tired of the endless arguing over Barack Obama’s appointments. We must never allow the world to forget the atrocities committed in our names and the perpetrators must be publicly shamed throughout the nation. The liberal blogosphere is the real press these days and handbills are as old as the nation itself. The White Rose was one of Germany’s moments of triumph in its darkest days. What will ours be?
Although my favorite version of this song is that version sung by the Canadian husband and wife team of Ian and Sylvia in the 1960s, unfortunately that version is not available on any of the free music sites that I am aware of, although I have only checked YouTube and Daily Motion. I’ve added “American” to the title to represent those Americans who for the last eight years have often felt that they had no country, often as a result of vote stealing, ballot box manipulation and attempts at keeping Americans from voting, which has been fully documented by sites such as TPMMuckraker and Black Box Voting and a multitude of others.
I’ve been checking to see if the Ian and Sylvia version of this song shows up on these sites for several years, and most of the versions I have found have been unsatisfactory or not of sufficient quality to convey the feeling of loss that befits the song. The song is meant to convey the melancholy feeling that becomes part of one’s being when he feels he has lost or has actually lost his country.
For the last eight years I have often felt immersed in feelings that the fascist tendencies of our elected leaders have destroyed the country I once felt I knew and grew to love. The policies of our leaders, especially those of fanatical Republicans, seemed to be destroying everything that was grand and wonderful about this nation years ago — at least during the period of the 60s and 70s when I was young and idealistic (excepting the Vietnam War, which was a curse of somewhat similar nature, although in many ways we did not descend into the darkness inside this nation, unlike the dark days brought about by George Bush within our borders).
Thousands of other bloggers also seem to convey these feelings every day. As we watched our nation descend into what seemed like chaos and oblivion, the song seems to me to have been relevant at almost any time during the last eight years, particularly when George Bush was exhibiting his worst fascist tendencies. Perhaps I have posted another version of this song here, perhaps not. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this version. For those who understand French, the words will speak for themselves. For those who don’t, this translation may convey some of the feelings that the song evokes. If not, I am sure some of our French experts that frequent this site will correct the translation.
Although I am a little unclear about who the singer is, I believe his name is Stephen Pate. This is not a studio version — it is said to have been sung at a small kitchen party. And lastly, I would add that there was always a question of whether Prescott Bush had fascist tendencies. George Bush proved that the gene runs in the family. May those living in America or those sent to horrific places by her government never again suffer the fate of so many during these years that seem to me and others to be the closest America has come to fascism in my or my ancestor’s lifetimes. May the Great Spirit, if you believe in one, spare us from a similar fate in the future.
The story of the song is explained on YouTube as follows:
After the Papineau rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada of 1837-8, rebels who escaped reprisal went into exile in the US. Edith Fowke writes: “Their plight inspired a young student, M.A. Gérin-Lajoie, to write “Un Canadien errant,” setting it to the tune of a popular French folk song, “Si tu te mets anguille.” Soon after the song appeared in 1842, French Canadians were singing it from Acadia on the east coast to the distant reaches of the North-West Territories.’
Antoine Gérin-Lajoie's lyrics were also informally adopted by the Acadians beginning in 1844, in the context of the Acadian deportation 1755-62. After refusing to swear allegiance to the British crown, many Acadians fled to inland Acadia, Île St-Jean [Prince Edward Island], or Cape Breton, 1749-55. (Encyclopaedia of Canadians with edits)
My psychiatrist son, Matt, emails this:
I have been dealing with the fallout from the election nearly every day as my more vulnerable and psychotic patients were genuinely frightened by the advertising portraying Obama as a dangerous man, and they have trouble understanding the difference between “Obama” and “Osama,” and now they are fearful and even more frightened that the world does not see the threat that so obviously looms.
This last fear is unwarranted, however. Much of the unmedicated world is also quivering before the peril that looms:
From North Carolina:
“People are very, very worried,” said Dean White, general manager of the firearms academy, gun shop and indoor shooting range. “We’re seeing a lot of people who have never even considered purchasing a handgun before coming in and saying that they want to buy one just because they think something’s going to happen and they may not be able to get it in the future.”
But Barack Obama is good for business. Last Wednesday, the day after Mr. Obama beat Arizona’s own Mr. McCain to become the president-elect, Mr. Chee sold $30,000 worth of guns — mostly the semi-automatics the National Rifle Association claims Mr. Obama’s administration will restrict.
“The election came, and now it’s just a madhouse in here,” said Mr. Chee, 31.
Soon after Barack Obama won the presidential election, Dennis Dupler bought an assault rifle that he had wanted to protect his home, fearful that a Democratic White House and Congress will impose gun-control laws or taxes on firearms…
“I have a feeling there’s some bad stuff down the road,” said Dupler, of Elizabethtown, holding his rifle purchase Thursday at a gun shop near his home.
During the week of the election, Flying Cloud sold over 20 AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. It typically sells four or five in a given month’s time … In the past couple of weeks, Smith said the low-end price for a AR-15 at his store has jumped from $900 to $1,050.
“The best defense against the Obama Gun Grabbing Machine is a solid show of force by law-abiding gun owners,” said Pearson. “The most forceful display of support for gun rights is for citizens to enthusiastically exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. By keeping the gun shop cash registers ringing and the FBI background check computers humming, citizens will send a very clear message that they do not take challenges to their rights lightly.”
And more from Pennsylvania:
Same thing in Brodheadsville, where American Sport Shooting owner Richard Flynn has seen an 80 percent increase of gun sales starting a week before the election. “People are stockpiling ammunition too,” Flynn said…
“The other thing that has people concerned is talk of a civilian security force equally funded as the military. Run by [Obama], I guess. We see that as the Gestapo,” Flynn said.
“The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It is about being able to protect ourselves against a government gone bad, which is what we have now,” Flynn said. “When a president wants to set up his own national army, that alarms people…”
“Let’s look to Hurricane Katrina. Government agents were going door to door, beating on doors, asking if they had guns, and taking them away,” said National Rifle Association spokesperson Ashley Varner. “It has happened in recent history. Let’s not say it could never happen.”
This clip, courtesy of Outta the Cornfield, was made at a GOP rally in Denver.
Subject: Not Spam — Important Business Offer!!!
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This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to email@example.com so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Minister of Treasury Paulson
Feeling good? Pretty good? Not too bad? You’ve had better days? Actually today kind of sucks? Well, are you at least feeling nonsuicidal? Then don’t read this, from Athenae at First Draft.
Let me tell you what will happen should President McCain take the oath of office. There will be approximately six months of a honeymoon period, during which every commentator on TV and every Democrat who appears beside said commentator mouths the words “deserves the benefit of the doubt.” Much saying of “time to move beyond the past” will occur.
The President will be presumed to have time to put his or her cabinet together, appoint various hacks and morons to various high positions during which time even Russ Feingold will declare that the President should get what the President wants. During these six months, another few hundred US soldiers will die in Iraq. Iraqis will die, too, but we won’t count them. The economy will continue to get worse.
After those six months, some sort of foreign policy crisis will increase the President’s Sunday Show Street Cred. He will appear on TV looking powerful and it’ll hit the re-set clock on those six months. His approval ratings will slip, but it’ll just be hippies and decadent leftists in enclaves.
Real Americans will still love the President, because he’s the president, and deserves the benefit of the doubt. Really, we should move beyond the past. Lather, rinse, repeat, stab out own brain with fish fork, until it’s four years later and we’re trying to figure out how we are still in Iraq and why nothing’s been done, and oh hello, Mr. NSA Agent, so pleased to see you at my door this fine autumn evening. Where does the time go?