Monday, August 31, 2009
I have some advice for all of us. Stop trying to get these people to realize how wrong they are and how right you are. Stop trying to apply reason to the profoundly unreasonable. Stop trying to mitigate or explain their collective temper tantrum. Stop trying to curry their favor, their votes, their attention. They don't care about truth, right and wrong, good or bad. They care about stomping feet, crying victim, and pointing fingers. Barney Frank had it exactly right, it's like arguing with a dining room table. Enough is enough. Fuck Kumbaya.
On this one-way planet of ours, it's hard sometimes to imagine things any other way, but for a moment let's try. Imagine, for instance, that in recent years the director of Iranian intelligence oversaw a program of "extraordinary rendition" aimed at those who were believed to be prepared to commit acts of terror against that country's fundamentalist regime. Practically speaking, what this often meant was kidnapping suspects -- some quite innocent of such aims -- off the streets of Middle Eastern or South Asian cities and transporting them secretly to Iran, to "black sites" set up abroad, or to allied regimes known for their torture practices.
Imagine that these suspects, once in the hands of his agents -- the Geneva Conventions having been declared not applicable to them -- were then tortured, abused, and sometimes murdered. Imagine that, for this, the director, in a public ceremony with great hoopla, was awarded the Ayatollah Khomeini Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the land, and on retiring honorably wrote a bestselling memoir about his years in office. Imagine as well that, to help Iranian interrogators, lawyers close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had rewritten the law so that acts which the world had long agreed to be torture were now redefined as not so, and on that basis, they were instructed to do such things as waterboarding suspects, even as the fundamentalist regime regularly announced that, on the basis of its own definitions, it did not condone torture.
If such a scenario had occurred, we know what we would think of such people. We know what our media would say about such people. We know what we would demand as a fate for such people -- that they be brought to justice. The present regime in Iran has proven itself quite capable of committing its own set of horrors and tortures. The above description, however, could not be mistaken for the recent history of any agency but the CIA and associated outfits under the purview of the top officials and lawyers of the Bush administration. Indeed, George Tenet, CIA director from 1997-2004, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor possible, by George W. Bush in December 2004, when much of the above was already on the public record (and the president certainly knew far more). Tenet did then write At the Center of the Storm, a bestselling memoir, and so on.
Now, a new administration is in power and it has decided to investigate CIA interrogations -- but only those acts by Agency operatives (and its private contractors) that went beyond the bounds of Bush administration extremity, beyond the bounds, that is, of that administration's pretzled definitions of what was not torture. The rest gets a pass.
On the day that decision made headlines, another report, "U.S. Says Rendition to Continue, but With More Oversight" by David Johnston in the New York Times, barely got noticed, even though it indicated that a now-notorious program of the Bush years would be continued in the Obama era. In other words, the U.S. will go right on turning terror suspects over to third countries for incarceration and interrogation (something criticized by Barack Obama in his presidential campaign), only with undoubtedly meaningless "diplomatic assurances" of no-torture policies. (Johnston did not even mention the kidnapping part of the process.) I'm still waiting for someone to ask the question: Why turn suspects over to seedy regimes if you don't expect them to act seedily?
Had China announced that it was going to turn rebel Uighurs captured outside the country over to Uzbekistan, or Myanmar made it clear that it was planning to send dissidents kidnapped in Thailand to Syria, we would denounce such policies to the skies. But it's us, and as Nick Turse, TomDispatch associate editor and author of the remarkable book on American militarism, The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, points out, we are the great exception. If we do it, it essentially doesn't count -- and perhaps more remarkably, it never dents our urge to stand on the highest moral ground around and accuse others of heinous acts. Of course, when you still want to think of yourself as the planet's sole superpower, you naturally feel you have license to do such things, and leave yourself out of the equation. It's evidently the global equivalent of James Bond's license to kill, or Monopoly's get-out-of-jail-free card. Tom
Sphere: Related Content
Apologies, Anger, and ApathyMy Lai and Lockerbie Reconsidered
by Nick Turse
A week ago, two convicted mass murderers leaped back into public consciousness as news coverage of their stories briefly intersected. One was freed from prison, continuing to proclaim his innocence, and his release was vehemently denounced in the United States as were the well-wishers who welcomed him home. The other expressed his contrition, after almost 35 years living in his country in a state of freedom, and few commented.
When Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Libyan sentenced in 2001 to 27 years in prison for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was released from incarceration by the Scottish government on "compassionate grounds," a furor erupted. On August 22nd, ABC World News with Charles Gibson featured a segment on outrage over the Libyan's release. It was aired shortly before a report on an apology offered by William Calley, who, in 1971 as a young lieutenant, was sentenced to life in prison for the massacre of civilians in the Vietnamese village of My Lai.
After al-Megrahi, who served eight years in prison, arrived home to a hero's welcome in Libya, officials in Washington expressed their dismay. To White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, it was "outrageous and disgusting"; to President Barack Obama, "highly objectionable." Calley, who admitted at trial to killing Vietnamese civilians personally, but served only three years of house arrest following an intervention by President Richard Nixon, received a standing ovation from the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus, Georgia, the city where he lived for years following the war. (He now resides in Atlanta.) For him, there was no such uproar, and no one, apparently, thought to ask either Gibbs or the president for comment, despite the eerie confluence of the two men and their fates.
Part of the difference in treatment was certainly the passage of time and Calley's contrition, however many decades delayed, regarding the infamous massacre of more than 500 civilians. "There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai," the Vietnam veteran told his audience. "I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry." For his part, al-Megrahi, now dying of cancer, accepted that relatives of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing "have hatred for me. It's natural to behave like this... They believe I'm guilty, which in reality I'm not. One day the truth won't be hiding as it is now. We have an Arab saying: 'The truth never dies.'"
Calley was charged in the deaths of more than 100 civilians and convicted in the murder of 22 in one village, while al-Megrahi was convicted of the murder of 270 civilians aboard one airplane. Almost everyone, it seems, found it perverse, outrageous, or "gross and callous" that the Scottish government allowed a convicted mass murderer to return to a homeland where he was greeted with open arms. No one seemingly thought it odd that another mass murderer had lived freely in his home country for so long. The families of the Lockerbie victims were widely interviewed. As the Calley story broke, no American reporter apparently thought it worth the bother to look for the families of the My Lai victims, let alone ask them what they thought of the apology of the long-free officer who had presided over, and personally taken part in the killing of, their loved ones.
"The suicide bomber who blew himself up at the ministry of foreign affairs was released three months ago from Camp Bucca," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to the US jail near Basra.
"The suicide bomber who blew himself up outside the ministry of finance was also released a few months ago from the same jail."
The August 19 attacks in Baghdad also wounded 600 people in the worst day of violence to hit the country for 18 months.
The Silence of the Antiwar Movement is Deafening
By JOHN V. WALSH
Cindy Sheehan will be at Martha's Vineyard beginning August 25 a short way from Obama's vacation paradise of the celebrity elite but very far from the Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq where the body bags and cemeteries fill up each day as Obama's wars rage on. She will remain there from August 25 through August 29 and has issued a call for all peace activists to join her there. For those of us close by in the New England states and in New York City, there would seem to be a special obligation to get to Martha's Vineyard as soon as we can.
A funny thing has happened on Cindy Sheehan's long road from Crawford, Texas, to Martha's Vineyard. Many of those who claim to lead the peace movement and who so volubly praised her actions in Crawford, TX, are not to be seen. Nor heard. The silence in fact is deafening, or as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, "crashingly deafening." Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or "Progressive" Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink? Or United for Peace and Justice. (No wonder UFPJ is essentially closing shop, bereft of most of their contributions and shriveling up following the thinly veiled protest behind the "retirement" of Leslie Cagan.) And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the "other" War Party. And of course sundry "socialist" organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center. These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama's wars.
Just to be sure, this writer contacted several of the "leaders" of the "official" peace movement in the Boston area AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others. Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort - although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action. (It is entirely possible that some of these organizations might mention Cindy's action late enough and quickly enough so as to cover their derrieres while ensuring that Obama will not be embarrassed by protesting crowds.) We here in the vicinity of Beantown are but a hop, skip and cheap ferry ride from Martha's Vineyard. Same for NYC. So we have a special obligation to respond to Cindy's call.
However, not everyone has failed to publicize the event. The Libertarians at Antiwar.com are on the job, and its editor in chief Justin Raimondo wrote a superb column Monday on the hypocritical treatment of Sheehan by the "liberal" establishment. (1) As Raimondo pointed out, Rush Limbaugh captured the hypocrisy of the liberal left in his commentary, thus:
"Now that she's headed to Martha's Vineyard, the State-Controlled Media, Charlie Gibson, State-Controlled Anchor, ABC: 'Enough already.' Cindy, leave it alone, get out, we're not interested, we're not going to cover you going to Martha's Vineyard because our guy is president now and you're just a hassle. You're just a problem. To these people, they never had any true, genuine emotional interest in her. She was just a pawn. She was just a woman to be used and then thrown overboard once they're through with her and they're through with her. They don't want any part of Cindy Sheehan protesting against any war when Obama happens to be president."
Limbaugh has their number, just as they have his. Sometimes it is quite amazing how well each of the war parties can spot the other's hypocrisy. But Cindy Sheehan is no one's dupe; she is a very smart and very determined woman who no doubt is giving a lot of White House operatives some very sleepless nights out there on the Vineyard. Good for her.
By Taylor Jones
Here's the only "nice" caricature I've ever drawn of Ted Kennedy. Can't publish the nastiest one.
Don't get me wrong: Like nearly everyone else, I regarded Edward Moore Kennedy as the greatest legislator of our time — ranking right up there in American history with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay.
…You know, ordinary citizens could present a eulogy, as a group, at Ted Kennedy's funeral, and simply recite the titles of dozens of pieces of major legislation the late senator authored and guided into law. Among them: the Voting Rights Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; immigration reform laws; the Clean Water Act; the Family Leave Act; No Child Left Behind. (Well, some children left behind).
Then there was Title IX, which inspired the sports bra. And the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 (and which most 18-year-olds have ignored). Kennedy also cosponsored ratification of the United Nations, the G.I. Bill, and creation of the Interstate Highway System. Not to mention the Missouri Compromise and the Magna Carta. These last sponsorships have only recently come to light.
What's more, Ted Kennedy not only authored these paramount pieces of legislation, he actually READ them before they were passed by Congress. Such cannot be said of most members of the House or the Senate, who have the barest notion of what's actually IN the health care bills currently being marked up in committee. And who hadn't the foggiest notion of the content in their financial bailout packages passed earlier this year.
But Ted Kennedy knew. He'd mastered them all!
Why, then, have I been relentlessly mean to the late senator and the members of his extended family over so many years? Well, because the First Amendment of our Constitution allows me to be a snot. A professionally snarky s.o.b. A small-minded meanie. In other words, an editorial cartoonist.
…And, well, because the flip side of Ted Kennedy (and so many members of his enormous extended family) was so darn flawed. Like the rest of us — only more so, and played out on the public stage. This weekend, as politicians, civic and religious leaders, and Kennedy family friends hail Uncle Ted's profound achievements, and share poignant stories, I'll fondly remember the Ted who wandered around the family beach house in Florida…sans his pants.
In fact, the personal failings, antics, alleged crimes and misdemeanors, and often just the faces of the entire Kennedy clan have given caricaturists and editorial cartoonists a priceless gift for two generations. In this regard, the Roosevelts, the Bushes and the Adamses just can't compare.
So let us review, briefly, a cavalcade of Kennedys. From a caricaturist's point of view, the family is hard to beat: those faces that scream, "Kiss me, I'm Irish!" at a raucous St. Patty's Day parade; the bounteous freckles; the dense mops of wavy hair, the big and/or gnarly choppers fit for a horse…
There's Patrick, who serves in Congress and wobbles a bit when he drives at night.
And Joe Kennedy II, who pitches heating oil for Hugo Chavez.
I've caricatured President Kennedy a few times, all of them long after his assassination. I was but a kid a couple of weeks shy of my eleventh birthday at that tragic time. I don't have a scan of my best caricature of JFK, done for a book featuring caricatures of all the presidents from Washington to Reagan. I no longer possess the original, for that matter. But it, too, was irreverent. It portrayed JFK with a halo over his head, and a scrap of note paper protruding from his jacket pocket — scribbled with Marilyn Monroe's phone number.
Following Wednesday's early-morning news that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had lost his battle with brain cancer, Media Matters posted the following statement from president Eric Burns at 3:51 a.m. ET on the County Fair blog:
"Ted Kennedy was a true American statesman. The values that he so eloquently and tirelessly championed represent the best of our American ideals. He reached across the aisle to get hard work done but never sacrificed principle. Though he is gone, the dream will forever live on. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Vicki Kennedy, the Senator's family, his loyal staff and the millions of lives he touched throughout his historic life and career."
Far from letting Kennedy rest in peace, many media conservatives savagely attacked the Senate's last liberal lion. Leading the charge was radio host Rush Limbaugh, who began his broadcast Wednesday morning eulogizing Kennedy by calling him "the lion of the Senate" before noting that "we were his prey." Hardly finished, El Rushbo would go on to say that "Kennedy screwed up everything he touched." He said Kennedy's opposition to Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination was "the beginning of the dawn of the age of the current hate." He claimed Kennedy "used the government to take money from people that work to give it to people that don't work" and that "most of Senator Kennedy's plans ended up damaging the people he seeks to help." Finally, Limbaugh marveled at the fact that "the Constitution is still there, even after Ted Kennedy in the Senate for 52 [sic] years." All that and more led MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Politico's Patrick Gavin to agree that "Limbaugh showed great restraint" in discussing Kennedy's death. Can you imagine what Rush would have said had it not been for such "restraint?"
Limbaugh was hardly alone in his disgusting attacks on Kennedy. Radio host and Fox News political analyst Tammy Bruce kept it classy, claiming on Twitter that Fox News Sunday's Chris "Wallace noted the last great act of Kennedy's career was to endorse [President] Obama. I agree: he left a woman to drown and now he's left us to drown."
Eric Sanger, a director at Premiere Radio Networks, ABC Radio/Citadel Media and The Sean Hannity Show, said on Facebook (emphasis added), "The irony is that the media is already positioning Ted as a champion for the little man against wealth and privilege. This piece of garbage was the poster child for wealth and privilege. Hopefully, this event will mark the end of this repugnant family and all the endless crap, entitlement, personal indulgences and collateral damage (Kopechne, Bessette, Bowman, Moxely, etc.)."
Wesley Pruden, a Washington Times columnist, wrote that Kennedy's death was "a good career move" and that Democrats "are smiling through their tears," while Andrew Breitbart, a fellow Times columnist, called Kennedy a "villain," a "duplicitous bastard," and a "prick" on Twitter, as noted by Politico. Riehl World View, a right-wing blog, came to Breitbart's defense, claiming that liberals criticizing him were "hypocrites" because when Dick Cheney dies, they're going to do the exact same thing. That's right, liberals today are hypocrites because of what they might do in the future. Now that's some crazy fortune-telling.
Fox News host Sean Hannity told his audience that "out of respect for his family," he had decided not to "bring up Mary Jo Kopechne" or Kennedy's "radical socialism." Seriously.
Hal Turner called her 'a violent, black, racist, bitch' whose lynching would teach other Blacks that 'white people are tired of your bullshit, behave or die'
by David Swanson
"[I]t has just now come to my attention that a 'journalist' who suggested that I be lynched was actually being paid by our own government to say that. Now, when I reported it to the FBI, how in the world was I to know that he was at that time on the FBI's payroll?"
"Hate blogger" Hal Turner's lawyer said last week, and prosecutors agreed, that Turner was "trained by the FBI on how to be deliberately provocative" and "worked for the FBI from 2002 to 2007 as an 'agent provocateur' and was taught by the agency 'what he could say that wouldn't be crossing the line.'"
Turner is being charged with making death threats against Connecticut legislators and Illinois judges and is apparently going to claim that his actions were legal because he did the same sort of thing when employed by the FBI. In an Associated Press story published Aug. 18, Katie Nelson writes:
"Prosecutors have acknowledged that Turner was an informant who spied on radical right-wing organizations, but the defense has said Turner was not working for the FBI when he allegedly made threats against Connecticut legislators and wrote that three federal judges in Illinois deserved to die.
|Written by Chris Floyd|
A few days ago, we noted the revelations by Stars and Stripes that the Pentagon was using a shadowy PR firm to identify the political leanings of journalists trying to cover the "Good War" in Afghanistan (as well as the "Forgotten War" in Iraq). The idea, clearly, was to encourage and reward "pro-war" reporters while planting a big red flag on the backs of any writers considered less than gung-ho about the imperial bloodshed in Muslim lands.
Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters' coverage is being graded as "positive," "neutral" or "negative."
"The purpose of this memo is to provide an assessment of [a reporter from a major U.S. newspaper] in order to gauge the expected sentiment of his work while on an embed mission in Afghanistan," reads the preamble to one of the reporter profiles prepared for the Pentagon by The Rendon Group, a controversial Washington-based public relations firm.
But the Rendon profiles reviewed by Stars and Stripes prove otherwise. One of the profiles evaluates work published as recently as May, indicating that the rating practice did not in fact cease last October as Whitman stated.
"For me, a tool like this serves no purpose and it doesn't serve me with any value," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters as some of the affected war correspondents began demanding to see their secret military profiles...."I haven't seen anything that violates any policies, but again, I'm learning about aspects of this as I question our folks in Afghanistan," Whitman said. "If I find something that is inconsistent with Defense Department values and policies, you can be sure I will address it."
Whitman told Pentagon reporters that he was inquiring about the issue, but he added that the Pentagon is not launching any formal inquiry to the matter.
In an Interview with Haaretz newspaper, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that Israel must learn from the Holocaust that it cannot gain security through fences, walls and guns.
Archbishop Tutu was commenting on a statement made by Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Germany, in which he said that "Israel should always defend itself". Tutu said that "the regime in South Africa never managed to get security from the barrel of the gun, but got security after recognizing and respecting every person".
The Nobel Prize laureate made his statement to Haaretz in Jerusalem and "The Elders" concluded their tour in Israel and Palestine, except the Gaza Strip. The Elders are hoping to be able to visit Gaza in the future.
Archbishop Tutu added that the west was consumed with the guilt for what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust, "and they should be, but the people who are paying the price for that are that Palestinians".
He also referred to a meeting he had in the past with a German ambassador who told him that Germany is guilty for two wrongs; what it did to the Jews, and the current suffering of the Palestinians.
Archbishop Tutu criticized some Jewish groups in the United States who intimidate any person who criticizes the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and accused them of being anti-Semite.
He said that such groups pressured many universities in the United States into cancelling his appearance on their campuses.
Tutu added that this is a very unfortunate issue, and that his opinions are derived from the Torah.
"God created us on his own image", he said, "God is always in favor of the oppressed".
by Ted Rall
INDIANAPOLIS--No wonder President Obama won't stand up for us. He won't even defend his personal safety!
Two weeks ago, a right-wing man protested outside the president's healthcare meeting in New Hampshire wearing a gun strapped to his leg. Lest we miss his point, he carried a sign that called for the shedding of blood in a new revolution.
A week later, a dozen men appeared outside Obama's appearance in Phoenix brandishing loaded guns. "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote," said one, who carried an AR-15 military-style automatic rifle. You read that right--they threatened to use guns to annul the results of the last election.
Cops stood by and watched. The Secret Service did nothing. Strictly speaking, these mooks are allowed to openly carry guns. Which is fine with me. I'm a big fan of the Second Amendment.
It is, however, horrifying to watch goons threaten to assassinate the President of the United States and get away with it. Make no mistake: guns don't have anything to do with healthcare. This is a revival of Klannism. A black man is president, and the good ol' boys don't like it. That's what this is about: putting him in his place. Which, if they or someone they inspire has their way, will be six feet under.
God. The smirks those turds wear! Run a Google Image search on "Klansmen" or "lynching." Same ones.
(Doubt this is about race? Bill Clinton's 1993 healthcare proposal would have gone farther than Obama's. And he wasn't nearly as popular. Yet he didn't face gun-toting loons at his public appearances.)
- ► June (13)
- ► October (31)
- ► September (12)
- ► July (218)
- ► June (221)
- ► May (212)
- ► April (151)
- ► December (147)
- ► October (330)
- ► September (330)
- Great White Dope
- My Dog Just Watered Your "Tree of Liberty"
- Nick Turse, From My Lai to Lockerbie
- How the rest of the world views the U.S.
- Iraq bombers were recently freed by US: official
- Cindy Sheehan's Lonely Vigil in Obamaland
- Antiwar Radio Cindy Sheehan 1 of 2
- TED KENNEDY…and then some!
- Storming Camelot: Sen. Kennedy's death brings out ...
- Lynching of Cynthia McKinney urged by ‘journalist’...
- Things my pappy taught me
- Big Brass Bull: Pentagon Deceit on Media Manipulat...
- Archbishop Tutu: "Arabs paying the price of German...
- THE GUNS OF AUGUST
- He told me...
- ▼ Aug 31 (15)
- ► July (347)
- ► June (330)
- ► May (315)
- ► April (345)
- ► March (331)
- ► February (300)
- ► January (330)
- ► December (345)
- ► November (225)
- ► October (238)
- ► August (220)
- ► July (347)
- ► June (443)