Category Archives: politics of fear

We Retort, You Decide

Look, it’s a major news anchor with a soul!

Sadly, the state of our public discourse on torture is so morally bankrupt, that I had to watch this twice to make sure Smith’s outburst was one of disgust for all the moral equivalence at his table, and not because he was in deep denial about the revelations. Nicely done, Shep!

Could this be a “Nixon goes to China” moment, when all the gasbags take stock of themselves and quit parroting the Cheney defense with a straight face?  Or is this the beginning of the end for Shep? All we know for sure is that the torture investigation ball is rolling down hill now and picking up steam. 

Josh Marshall makes the observation that the GOP has become a “Junta Party” in the aftermath of a democratic revolution, whose sole purpose is to defend the previous regime’s barbarous activities. Their latest tactic – to argue that the intelligence obtained from torture was good – is a stunning admission of guilt, and worlds away from Bush’s gutless assertion that “we don’t torture”.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
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It’s hard not be disgusted by Peggy Noonan’s wistfull desire to “just keep walking”.  When I see/hear vapid commentary like that, here is how I feel:

To get back to Cheney’s recent claim that there are super-secret unreleased memos that vindicate their actions, this is obfuscation at its finest.  Here’s a great rebuttal from a former FBI interrogator in yesterday’s NYTimes. (I would quote it, but the whole thing deserves to be read. Bottom line – Cheney lies.)

Seems to me the torture apologists are trying to turn this into a debate along the lines of the bombing of Hiroshima – “horrible thing, that – but just had to be done you know…”  Given how atrocious nuclear bombs are in comparison to the torture of a few brown-skin foreigners, and how little collective regret we have as a society over dropping not one, but TWO on Japanese civilian populations, I fear it is an argument that some silver-tongued scum can make.  For now, we all have to be more like Lawrence O’Donnell and call out these Richie Cunningham maggots every chance we get:

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P.S. Where have all my fellow Hypocrites gone? Did we break the Publish button? The news has been rife with hypocrisy lately, I almost can’t even begin to tackle it!

John King strokes his Dick

Hey, look who’s out of his wheelchair!

I’m sorry we don’t have Dick’s response in that clip. I believe he said, “when it comes to brazenly deceiving the American public, Barack Obama is a fucking amateur!”

Where the hell is my pitchfork and torch?? Here is Seymour Hersh last week discussing Dick Cheney’s “executive assassination ring” (via Scott Horton):

After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen. Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. …

Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths. Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us. It’s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It’s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you’ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized. In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing people.

I’ve had people say to me — five years ago, I had one say: ‘What do you call it when you interrogate somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don’t get any medical committee and two days later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?’ But they’re not gonna get before a committee.

A firing squad would be too good for Cheney.  Is it too much to ask that he be barred from engaging in public discourse?  He wouldn’t talk to the press when he was in office, who gives a fuck what he thinks now?

John King is officially on notice.

Last fair deal in the country

While on the subject of the America-hating Noise Machine (this started as a comment, but got so long I decided to bump it to a new post):

– Glenn Beck continues to use Fox News as his platform to fantasize about violent overthrow of the government, going so far as to bring on retired CIA and military officers…

They discuss a coming “civil war” led by American “Bubba” militias — Beck says he “believes we’re on this road” — and they contemplate whether the U.S. military would follow the President’s orders to subdue civil unrest or would instead join with “the people” in defense of their Constitutional rights against the Government (they agree that the U.S. military would be with “the people”)

This clown Beck really thinks he represents “the resistance”.

– Here’s Hannity’s webpage with a poll up asking “what form of armed revolt do you prefer? A) Military Coup, B) Armed Rebellion, or C) War for Secession…

Fox needs to pull the plug on this garbage. Things are bad in enough in the world as it is without these idiots glorifying civil unrest.

– Finally, I lifted that last link from another great post by Digby that deconstructs the right-wing political/media agenda:

[Bill Kristol] is arguing that Roosevelt should have been obstructed in 1933, so the scope of the [current] crisis doesn’t affect his view and the size of the [electoral] mandate is obviously irrelevant. He simply seeks to find a way to keep the Democrats from achieving anything that the people might see as a positive in their lives. Like Rush Limbaugh, he is openly advocating failure.

I wanna git mo terrorists

The Right’s reaction to closing gitmo is an absolute bonanza of hypocrisy. As you’ll recall from the Bush Legacee Tour: Revisin’ and Hypnotisin’, (which made the first part of January 2009 such a joy to behold), W was very disappointed that other countries were not stepping up and taking the gitmo prisoners off our hands after we detained them for four or five years and told them to stick their Geneva Convention in their Habeus Corpus. (now that we have elected a real leader, things have definitely changed).

Now that we are finally shutting down what will forever be one of the blackest marks in US history, we are subjected to the following incessant boob-ery:

Yes Sean, I too am so scared, the mere thought of this guy being held in a maximum security prison anywhere within 3000 miles of my front door makes me pee my pants. Guantanamo Bay, however, is located on another planet, and since Bin Laden doesn’t train astronauts, I feel very safe right now. Al Qaeda also doesn’t train people how to make rafts that could get from Cuba to Florida, so anywhere outside the continental US will do.

I really hope Obama wises up and realizes that the only way to combat terrorism is to follow the GOP’s example:

1. arrest as many people as possible, sometimes at random
2. if the Red Cross asks, take them on a tour of the cafeteria and weight room
3. avoid gathering evidence, especially anything that can be used in a court of law
4. secretly release more than 1/2 of them, the ones you’re pretty sure didn’t do anything
5. base the safety of our citizens (and the world’s) on the notion that you’ll be able to create your own new system of justice that will ‘totally work, dude’
6. if anything goes wrong, remember that regardless of how reckless and un-imaginably stupid your plan was, what are they going to do now, release them?

Like we saw on Professor Hannity’s show, the dude rented apartments on the coast of Yemen! What more proof do you need? What do you want them to do, write this shit down on paper and submit it in a court of law?

Can we please return to a policy of black ops assassinations like a civilized superpower? Maybe we can embed Heraldo Rivera with the Green Berets to make sure we can watch on the teevee. How about a reality tv show of the detainees first month in a US prison? Survivor Season 15: Leavenworth!

Newsweek goes hypo-tastic

Folks, as you may have heard on Maddow, the Newsweek cover story this week is the latest in the long deafening drumbeat of the great hypocralyse that we’ve witnessed recently as we are told we did not see what we thought we saw. What would Dick “Doo” crappy article link here.

To suggest that Obama’s got a lot to learn from Mr. Cheney ’cause he’s been soooo successful, as everyone who’s anyone in the house of W knows, the youngster Obama will soon realize that our wise dark overlord Cheney knows what’s best for keepin us from harm. As with all great propaganda, it is written from the perspective of a zealot who could not comprehend that an alternative point of view exists, God forbid actually consider it.

I have already cut the cord with the NYT for lesser transgressions. Why does this mindless rag soil my magazine rack every week? If it cost more than a penny a day I probably would have shut it down long ago…

Answer the Question!

Hypocrisy is like the weather.  Everybody talks about it, but nobody ever does anything about it. Now’s your chance:

CHANGE.GOV – Open for Questions, Round Two

Basically, they give you the opportunity to pose questions to Obama (or more accurately, his handlers). You cast votes on the questions that have been posed (good or bad?), then the questions that have the most net positive votes get responses.  At the moment, the top-rated question (just barely) is this:

“Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor – ideally Patrick Fitzgerald – to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?”

Supposedly this question was #6 when they did the original “Open for Questions” a few weeks ago (only the top 5 were addressed).  Here’s the official response to the first round of questions.  (Note that the reefer question got short shrift.)

The cynical part of me thinks this is mainly a sop to the internet blogger community who like nothing so much as to feel their voice is being heard. (“I have opinions!  Read my opinions!  Now you smart like me!”) On the other hand, prosecuting George Bush and cronies is controversial.  If there is ever a chance of this happening, they need to know the people are behind it.  So go vote!

[Note: there seem to be several instances of the same question kicking around the site.  To make sure you vote up the top question, click on the last category, “Additional Issues”.  When I did this last night it was filed under National Security, but some fucker has since tried to bury it…]

P.S.  Here’s a stunning example of the Bush Administration’s hypocrisy when it comes to torture:

the Bush administration has righteously decided that torture is such a grotesque and intolerable crime that political leaders who order it simply must be punished in American courts to the fullest extent of the law . . . . if they’re from Liberia:

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. prosecutors want a Miami judge to sentence the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 147 years in prison for torturing people when he was chief of a brutal paramilitary unit during his father’s reign. Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Charles “Chuckie” Taylor Jr. is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9 by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. His conviction was the first use of a 1994 law allowing prosecution in the U.S. for acts of torture committed overseas.

Even in the U.S., it’s hard to believe that federal prosecutors who work for the Bush DOJ were able to convey the following words with a straight face:

A recent Justice Department court filing describes torture – which the U.S. has been accused of in the war on terror – as a “flagrant and pernicious abuse of power and authority” that warrants severe punishment of Taylor. “It undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller in last week’s filing. “The gravity of the offense of torture is beyond dispute.”

Operation Junta

Somebody please explain to me why this isn’t a HUGE red flag:

Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department’s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

According to Wikipedia, the Posse Comitatus Act “generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress.”  So to state that maintaining a troop presence in the US “may possibly undermine” the law is a bit rich.  Consider this article from the Army Times announcing the deployment a few months ago:

In the meantime, they’ll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

Naturally, this is all a response to the horrors of Katrina, when thousands of people suffered and died while federal and state troops went about the important business of securing property.  I find it deeply disturbing that the main lesson government authorities took away from that tragedy was the need for more and better “crowd control”.

Maybe I’m being irrational.  I’m sure when the next great horror is upon us, we’ll all be glad the Army is on hand to administer triage.  All I know is, Kurt Vonnegut, who grew up during the Great Depression in the years following World War I, once had this to say:

I was taught in the sixth grade that we had a standing army of just over a hundred thousand men and that the generals had nothing to say about what was done in Washington. I was taught to be proud of that and to pity Europe for having more than a million men under arms and spending all their money on airplanes and tanks. I simply never unlearned junior civics. I still believe in it. I got a very good grade.

Those days are long gone.

The GOP Base

When you hear people talk about rallying the base, these are the people they’re talking about.

I had to post this because I had a really interesting conversation about politics with one of my clients yesterday. And by interesting I mean infuriating. Somehow I think I sounded more reasonable than pissed, but I was talking to some folks who definitely are already living by this credo.