Friday, September 29, 2006

Water-boarding 101

All you people who are still thinking about voting Republican this fall, this is what you're voting for. Do you really think this is the way to win hearts and minds?

I understand the mindset of those who think that voting for Democrats is voting for the equally unthinkable slaughter of innocent babies. But get this through your thick skulls people: the difference between these two situations is that not everyone agrees that a fetus is a baby. It's fine for you to believe it. Don't have an abortion. Use your right to free speech to try to convince others to not have abortions. More power to you. The fewer abortions there are the better off the world will be. But you do not have a right to use force-- you may not bomb abortion clinics, you may not shoot doctors, you may not use the government's power to imprison people -- to impose your beliefs upon others. That is what terrorists do. We don't do that. That is what makes us the good guys.

You right-wingnuts have no idea what the opposite extreme on abortion looks like because no one believes in the opposite extreme. The opposite extreme from illegal abortion is not legal abortion, it is forced abortion, an extreme from which every sane person rightly recoils. Voting for someone who condones torture in order to avoid voting for someone who wants to make abortion legal is no less abhorrent. These are not terrorists we are torturing, they are terror suspects and they are human beings. And many of them are innocent. And if you vote Republican this November their blood will be on your hands. May God forgive you.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A puzzlement indeed

Another deep question from Trent "Mr. Sensitivity" Lott:

"Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

Slouching towards Nuremberg

Now that Habeus Corpus has been suspended and George Bush has the power to indefinitely detain and torture anyone he deems to be an "enemy combatant" the next logical step is to obtain official sanction for the idea that anyone who opposes him is in fact an enemy combatant.

What? You say that will never happen? Wanna bet?

Attorneys for the Center for Constitutional Rights claim that what appears to be the final version of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 could allow the government to detain the attorneys themselves as 'enemy combatants.'
The current version of the Military Commissions redefines an "unlawful enemy combatant" so broadly that it could include anyone who organizes a march against the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Who would Jesus torture?

One of the hallmarks of Germany's slide into Nazism is that there was considerable disagreement among Germans at the time over exactly what was going on. Even among German Jews there were those who famously predicted that things couldn't possibly ever get that bad. Even at the end so many Germans were in denial about the reality of the situation that the Allies very wisely forced German civilians to walk through the newly liberated concentration camps to see the piles of bodies with their own eyes so that there could never be any doubt about what had happened.

Sadly, it appears that Americans are not so different. Although George Bush's approval ratings are at historic lows, there are still tens of millions who support him, and therefore tens of millions of us who support the now-legalized torture of human beings who have never even been charged let alone convicted of any crime. We have descended into the darkest depths of barbarism, where people are whisked away by darkness to secret places merely because they have been denounced by accusers unknown.

But it's OK because they are witches -- er, I mean Jews -- er, I mean terrorists. It's OK because when the Jews -- er, I mean terrorists -- are gone, then we will be Safe.

I can barely muster words under the crushing weight of irony and meta-irony in this situation. We have Muslims rioting in the streets to protest against people who dare point out that Muslims riot in the streets. We have Christians forming the bedrock of support for a government that kidnaps and tortures to make the world Safe for Democracy. And we have both sides seeing the other irony with 20/20 clarity, but utterly blind to their own.

Time to stop the madness.

By voting to legalize torture the Republican party utterly abandoned any claim they might have had to the moral high ground. Torture is never justified. Not ever. The old canard about the ticking bomb scenario is utter hogwash. It is nothing more than a thin veneer of rationalization to cover up our fear and bloodlust. Sure, if you knew that this person had the information and if you knew that the only way to obtain it was by torture and if you could be certain that the information was accurate and if you knew that the information would allow you to save multitudes then there's an argument. But the fact of the matter is you can never know these things. You can only suspect them. And suspicion does not justify torture. Ever.

The United States of America has been torturing people illegally for some time now, and is now going to continue torturing people with full legal sanction. At the moment the moral weight of this decision rests on the shoulders of the legislators who voted to legalize torture. But after November that will no longer be true. This November the People will speak, and ignorance is no longer an excuse. A vote for a Republican is a vote for legalized torture. After November the blood of the innocent victims (there have already been documented cases of torture of innocents, and there will certainly be more) will be on our hands. If the Republicans win this November and you voted for them, the blood of the innocents will be on your hands. And when, years or decades from now, when we wake from this collective nightmare and the victors, whoever they may ultimately be, force us to make the long walk through the camps to see the bodies, you will not be able to wring your hands and say, as many Germans did, "I didn't know. I didn't know."

Now you know.

So that would be a "yes"?

Watch George Bush's non-response to the question of whether Bill Clinton was telling the truth when he said that Bush held no meetings on Bin Laden before 9/11. (I especially like the part where he says, "We have to deal with threats before they materialize." Irony is just lost on this man.)

It's a miracle!

You have to look closely, but sure enough, the image of Jesus has appeared on a dog's rear end.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It doesn't get any clearer than this

The history of the right-wing approach to terrorism is laden with irony, but none starker or easier to understand than this.

[Link is dead but still available though the wayback machine]

Found this rich little gem in the comments section:

"No, Bill, it was supposed to be ALBANIA, not AFGHANISTAN you were supposed to bomb, don't you remember? You didn't read the script very well!"

What more can I say?

Phil Rockstroh tells it like it is far above my poor power to add or detract.

"Corporate “reality” is all about “perception management". Hence, a corporate, utterly commodified, life usurps, exploits and diminishes not only the outer environment -- but our internal ones as well. How could one not play off the other and visa versa? How can one spend all day in a so-called "work environment," spending a large percentage of one's life beneath florescent lights, with sweatshop-cobbled shoes touching industrial carpeting, and bodies supported by bland, utilitarian office furniture -- then return, by way of a hideous, dangerous freeway, home to some ugly suburb or exurb -- all the while having one's senses incessantly inundated with commercial imagery calculated to manipulate -- hypnotize one, actually -- into a particular way of viewing the world, and not become subject to the sort of psychic pathology that is pandemic among the populace of the empire."

Beware the ides of October

The signs that George Bush is going to attack Iran are everywhere.

If you don't believe me maybe you'll believe Gary Hart.

Oh, God, I think I'll just go throw myself off a bridge now.

More than a little scary

Stumbled on a little quiz to see if you can tell the difference between expensive modern art and paintings done by children.

What scared me was that I actually did well on the quiz. This rocked my worldview, which includes the belief that moden art is a game whose object is to con people into paying outrageous amounts of money for random crap. (Money is only the secondary objective. The real point is the laughs you get at the buyer's expense at the secret artist beer-bash following the auction.)

I think (hope?) that the quiz wasn't well constructed. The positive examples were mainly by very famous artists with very distinctive styles. It's not hard even for an amateur like me to spot a Picasso or a Pollack. I think they would have made the point better if they had picked less canonical paintings.

Oh, I also think Stanislav Shpanin has a bright career ahead of him. You heard it here first.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Well at leat there's... never mind

Even with all the things going wrong in Iraq at least we can say we made things better by getting rid of a brutal dictator. Right?


"Torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein, the UN's chief anti-torture expert says."

Sunday, September 17, 2006


It only takes a moment to figure out why the American people are taking the Iraq war so much more calmly than they did Viet Nam: no draft this time. Well, that approach may be coming to an end.

So let's take stock: On September 11, 2001, 2973 people were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The death toll of American dead in Iraq reached 2974 just about five years later.

We have abandoned the most cherished principles our country was founded on by imprisoning 14,000 "enemy combatants" without a trial, without any opportunity to defend themselves, without any reason to believe that they are a threat to us except that someone may have denounced them, very likely under torture. And the President is trying to strongarm Congress into making all this retroactively legal before the next election.

George Bush still says that the war in Iraq was justified because "Saddam was a threat" despite the fact that it is now clear that he had no WMD's and no contacts with Al Qaeda. Saddam may have been a threat, but to the Kurds and the Iranians -- not to us. (The Iranians, meanwhile, are taking advantage of the newfound security we've provided them by eliminating Saddam to develop nuclear weapons. How this can be considered progress is beyond me. But I digress.)

The Tailban are making a comeback in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda recruiting is more robust than ever (and not entirely without justification). Iraq is coming apart at the seams. And amidst the chaos we still hear the rallying cry of "Stay the course. Don't cut and run."

I can't help but be reminded of the story of the final days of another political leader who used legally questionable tactics to launch unprovoked attacks on other countries, and who in the end could not (or would not) face reality. I can't help but be reminded also of part of a poem by Tim Powers (writing as William Ashbless):

...They move in dark, old places of the world
Like mariners, once healthy and clear-eyed
Who, when their ship was holed, could not admit
Ruin and the necessity of flight,
But chose instead to ride their cherished wreck
Down into darkness...

It is clear now that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld will ride their cherished wreck of a foreign policy down into the very depths of hell. Like fanatics throughout history, nothing -- no amount of blood or death or disaster -- will dissuade them from their convictions that they (and only they) are righteous. The only question that remains is whether the American people will go along for the ride.

We'll know the answer in about two months.