Category Archives: politics of fear

Totally Wasted

Mother Jones has a great new issue out devoted to the War on Drugs. Every article so far has been money. Check it out!

But then, the drug war has never been about facts—about, dare we say, soberly weighing which policies might alleviate suffering, save taxpayers money, rob the cartels of revenue. Instead, we’ve been stuck in a cycle of prohibition, failure, and counterfactual claims of success. (To wit: Since 1998, the ONDCP has spent $1.4 billion on youth anti-pot ads. It also spent $43 million to study their effectiveness. When the study found that kids who’ve seen the ads are more likely to smoke pot, the ONDCP buried the evidence, choosing to spend hundreds of millions more on the counterproductive ads.)

I also went ahead and threw up some new Rec List headings at right, since Reefercake signaled approval.  I don’t mean to dominate that column, and hope that fellow editors feel free to post their recommended links too.  I originally conceived of it as being a revolving set of links with old stuff falling off, but now that it’s grown long I kind of like that too.

At any rate, here is the full lineup of articles from MoJo:

The American Taliban

The American Taliban is at it again. They burnt down a topless coffee shop in a small town in Northern Maine.

They have been responsible for countless acts of violence in addition to the recent dramatic murder at a church ceremony. Interesting to go through the list of these acts of violence on wiki, and see how many occur in the U.S. compared to other countries.

I can only assume that there is something uniquely special about America’s ability to produce these sorts of terrorist groups. These groups openly proclaim their support of terrorist acts. Why? I guess the common thread between the burning of a topless coffee shop and the anti-choice crowd, is a deep seeded fear that some people out there may be enjoying sex. Somehow in America we have simultaneously developed the ability to develop a very slutty and sexually promiscuous and all around perverted group of folks, along with a group of folks who probably don’t even know how to operate the clitoris. And somewhere in the middle are folks like me, who could appreciate a topless coffee shop, and at the same time maintain a healthy and sex life with my wife…as long as I can stay out of the dog house…but I digress.

The point is these morons are scared shitless of people, especially women, enjoying sex, and they are usually the same freaks trying to get it on in the airport bathroom with some hot and heavy foot-tapping. I really hate these stupid hypocrites.

At least we can hope that their violent stupidity will backfire. All it took was a tent and a generator and the coffee shop is back up and running. I am looking into how to donate money to this coffee and titty operation. With coffee and titties, I believe we can change the world for the better.

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

After several months of obsessively studying American politics, it’s my carefully considered opinion that this country is run by worthless assholes. I never thought Bush was remotely in charge of things, I don’t know why I thought things would be any different with Obama.  They’re both pitchmen for the new fascism. Obama’s a hell of a lot better at it than W, which is in many ways terribly depressing.  

Was anyone else disturbed by yesterday’s speeches? Talk about your false dichotomy. Obama brilliantly explains all the ways we have to continue Bush Administration policy, then before you can object, here comes a fat slab of Cheney to make you count your blessings.  You tell me which one of them had this to say:

Now, finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people. And I have to be honest here—this is the toughest single issue that we will face. We’re going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases because evidence may be tainted, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who’ve received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

Let me repeat: I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture—like other prisoners of war—must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. They can’t be based simply on what I or the executive branch decide alone. That’s why my administration has begun to reshape the standards that apply to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards for those who fall into this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. 

This preventive detention shit is intended to be the new policy. Here’s Diane Feinstein telling Andrea Mitchell all about it:

The laws of war very clearly say that you can keep a combatant in detention for the length of the conflict. Now this is a bit of an unusual war in that sense, but it is, in fact, a war and it is going to go on. 

Therefore, if somebody is judged to be an unlawful combatant, and they remain a threat to our national security, what needs to be evolved is a process whereby their detention is periodically reviewed, either by a court, which I would prefer, or by a military panel and a determination made as to whether the threat still continues.

Now this would happen, I would think, annually, in a lengthy detention, but there is no question in my mind that somebody who is classified as an unlawful combatant can, in fact, be kept in detention until the end of this conflict, which means terrorism, against the United States, against her allies, and in the world abates.

Oh, I see! So these guys who can’t be convicted of any crimes unless it’s in a kangaroo court, get to be released when the War Against Terror is officially over? When will that be? When the threat level drops to green?

UPDATE: Greenwald with (lots) more, natcherly.

If you really think about the argument Obama made yesterday — when he described the five categories of detainees and the procedures to which each will be subjected — it becomes manifest just how profound a violation of Western conceptions of justice this is.  What Obama is saying is this:  we’ll give real trials only to those detainees we know in advance we will convict.  For those we don’t think we can convict in a real court, we’ll get convictions in the military commissions I’m creating.  For those we can’t convict even in my military commissions, we’ll just imprison them anyway with no charges (“preventively detain” them). 

Giving trials to people only when you know for sure, in advance, that you’ll get convictions is not due process.  Those are called “show trials.”  In a healthy system of justice, the Government gives everyone it wants to imprison a trial and then imprisons only those whom it can convict. 

UPDATE II: Maddow with solid coverage too!

The Grand Inquisitor (a parable for our times)

Excerpt from THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
By Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
Translated by Constance Garnett

No signs from heaven come to-day
To add to what the heart doth say.

“There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of the truth of these miracles. And just then there appeared in the north of Germany a terrible new heresy. ‘A huge star like to a torch’ (that is, to a church) ‘fell on the sources of the waters and they became bitter.’ These heretics began blasphemously denying miracles. But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent in their faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaited His coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervour, ‘O Lord our God, hasten Thy coming’; so many ages called upon Him, that in His infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants. Before that day He had come down, He had visited some holy men, martyrs, and hermits, as is written in their lives. Among us, Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the truth of his words, bore witness that

Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress, Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
Our mother, Russia, came to bless, And through our land went wandering.

“And that certainly was so, I assure you.

“And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to the tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him like children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to the glory of God, and ‘in the splendid auto da fe the wicked heretics were burnt.’ Oh, of course, this was not the coming in which He will appear, according to His promise, at the end of time in all His heavenly glory, and which will be sudden ‘as lightning flashing from east to west.’ No, He visited His children only for a moment, and there where the flames were crackling round the heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that human shape in which He walked among men for thirty-three years fifteen centuries ago. He came down to the ‘hot pavements’ of the southern town in which on the day before almost a hundred heretics had, ad majorem gloriam Dei, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville.

Continue reading

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
We Don’t Torture
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

 
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:

* * * * *

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.”