Posts Tagged ‘torture

20
May
09

Pelosi Schmelosi

Normally, I don’t speak on behalf of all liberals. But, today I’m going to. Because I feel like it.

Throwing Pelosi in front of the bus won’t help Republicans, but they can enjoy using her as a punching bag as long as the media thinks there’s a story in it. Whatevah. Liberals really couldn’t give a shit.

We’re not huge fans of hers in any case, numero uno. Numero dos, I’m a proponent of term limits, so anything that can knock congresspeople who have been at their post over 8 years, I’m in favor of. I feel the same way about Harry Reid.

And, in reality, the Repubs like Pelosi right where she is – with the big crosshairs on her forehead. The Right thinks attacking her boosts their numbers. And they may be right in the short term. Ergo, forcing Nancy out is not in the game plan, gnawing on her slowly decaying remains, however, is.

And, with this whole “Did she know about the occuring torture?” is such a red herring, it’s laughable.

We will not stop discussing who tortured, who ordered it and whether or not it produced actionable intelligence and who knew about it – Righties and Lefties alike. We will not stop trying to assess whether Cheney and his beasties ordered the torture of an Iraqi in an effort to prove a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, with which to sell the Iraqi War. The discussion will not go away. This is part of our heritage and our history and these determinations will have great effect on our future.

Furthermore, we want all relevant memos released as well – we’re generally for transparency in government. All this keeping shit secret for the safety of the country is bullshit. When the government is hiding something, it’s to benefit themselves, not the people. The best decisions and opinions are made with an overabundance of information, not underabundance.

Remember Patrick Henry’s 1775 call: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death saying? Liberty means transparency. It means the government not spying on you. It means the government abiding by the law, no matter the identity of the person with whom they are dealing. When you do not protect the freedoms and rights of another, it will be your rights the government will come after next.

Right Wing: Go throw sand and Nancy all you want – it doesn’t matter to me. But when your little schoolyard fight is through, we’ll still be marching our call for solid answers on the questions of torture.

And, for the record, the CIA does lie at times. Especially under the Bush administration, who used the organization for politically motivated purposes. That’s reality. If the Right wants to rave their hands like asylum inmates in defense of the CIA and insist that speaking of the organization in realistic terms to shade the discussion, fine. This is a topic of conversation, not a strategy. And no one said the CIA lies “all the time” or “systematically,” Giuliani, or said they were not doing their job or that they did not do a phenomenal job. But the CIA has fudged the truth in a number of instances and if certain Righties cannot tell the truth about the topic, if they cannot acknowledge reality (for political purposes), they are an irrelevant participant in the discussion and a hinderer of progress.

In other words, grow the fuck up.

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14
May
09

Conventional Warfare – A Misnomer

This week, in their defense of Dick Cheney’s naked parade, his minions have defended the use of “enhanced interrogation methods” by saying they were a response to the unconventional warfare posed by Islamic terrorists. (well, they don’t say Islamic terrorists, because that is no longer PC – but that’s who they are referring to).

Our short-memoried society considers “conventional warfare” battles in which all sides wear uniforms designating their loyalty, avoid injuring civilians as much as possible, behave gentlemanly during negotiations, have clear delineations between good and evil, and are only fought because one baddie decided to invade one goodie.

I’m simplifying, I realize, but only in an effort to illustrate the naiveté of isolated Americans regarding warfare. Our idea of military combat is as far from the norm – bastardized by erroneous and fantastical historical tales, the refusal of the government to provide honest details of war to keep the public’s distaste to a minimum, and the perpetuation of the myth that the U.S. government always makes good decisions for the benefit of the American public. The blatant lack of honesty of everyone from storytellers and revisionist historians to the executive administrations past and present have whitewashed Americans’ view of war. To the detriment of all involved.

How Americans Think of War

What We Americans Consider Conventional Warfare

War is ugly and gruesome and what we consider unconventional is actually much more typical combat.

The vast majority of war over the last 40,000 years has included various levels of torture, rape, the killing of women and children, the enslavement of the losing side by the victors, and no uniforms of which to speak.

During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers found it quite difficult to tell which “gook” was with us and which was against. That we would find warfare any different in Afghanistan or Iraq is appallingly uninformed.

Most warfare has been fought by any means necessary, yet the utilization of suicide bombers or twin engine jets surprises Americans. These tactics are much more along the norms of warfare than our Disney notions of WWI and WWII. The claiming of the U.S. territory by whites from Native Americans included genocide, rape and arbitrary killing. In “conventional war,” crops, land, and homes are put to flame and waterways poisoned. Horses and livestock are slaughtered. And on, and on, and on.

The desire to increase power is the largest motivator of war. Throughout history, chiefs and leaders of state wanted to expand their territory, causing them to take what isn’t theirs. However, to be content with what is yours and nothing else is to lay in wait for the greedy eyes of an enemy.

Now that the statehood of most territory on Earth, save for Antarctica, has been decided, war is largely launched because of irrational actors and thirst for power and results in the subjugation of weak people or a brazen offensive against a perceived enemy. Al Qaeda wants a theocratic, Muslim world and how better to achieve this result than attacking the most powerful defender of the free world? George W. Bush saw what he perceived as his father’s failings at the end of the first Iraq War, as well as the opportunity to spread democracy in the Middle East, and launched an offensive he was not prepared for and did not fully understand. In Sierre Leone, during battles for the control of diamond minds, thousands upon thousands of women and children had their arms cut off at the elbow and boys high on cocaine killed their familes and raped women with the ends of their guns.

Realities of Conventional War

Realities of Conventional War

WWI and WWII were horrific in their own right, but were as unconventional as warfare gets. During WWI, occurrences of opposing sides playing soccer games between trenches  are well-documented. WWII had a clear, easily identifiable leader with atrocious strategies and ambitions. The fact that we consider these two events “normal” clearly reveals our lack of understanding of military history. Perhaps if we grow up and can realign our perceptions closer to reality, we can have a more substantial and successful discussion of what we consider acceptable behaviors in wartime.

If Americans understood the realities of war, if they could see into the future the results of the invasion of Iraq, they would never have permitted these men – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, men who have never been battle-tested (a few draft-dodgers in there), never known what it felt like to kill another person or see the enemy face-to-face – to launch us into this misquided and ill-considered war.

I understand the outcry against torture, and support much of it. But the fact that the American people can be so outraged over actions against a few and then remain silent while our bombardments in Af-Pak result in the deaths of scores of civilians – mothers, babies, schoolchildren – is media-driven and reprehensible.

13
May
09

Dick Cheney: Opinion Compilation

My opinion for Dick Cheney really needs no description. He is a vile, megalomaniacal, right-wing zealot with no capability of reasonable contemplation or consideration for any other strategy than full-throttle, “Either join me or get outta my way!” This country is infinitesimally better off now that the old man is sidelined.

That said, how wonderful it is that the black-pace-makered, sinister posterboy pokes his head above the muck and mire long enough to remind everyone why Obama won on Nov. 4 before returning to his panic room to watch Fox until he perceives yet another indignity that needs addressing.

The left is like a kid in a candy store when Dick’s thin lips part to reveal his jutted lower jaw and antediluvian, borderline-schizo views. We sit aglow in front of our television screens asking, Does it get any better than this? It could, I suppose, but it most likely will not. Only Bush on his knees in tears, arms stretched to the sky, crying, “Why, oh why, Baby Jesus, am I so hated when all I did is what you tole me to do?” That would be awesome.

Three commentators offered their opinions regarding the latest Dick Cheney tomfoolery and I couldn’t have put it any better than they did:

Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic:

I don’t know how else to interpret his obviously self-destructive grandstanding this weekend. But think of the long view for a moment. Here is a former vice-president, who enjoyed unprecedented power for eight long, long years. No veep ever wielded power like he did in the long history of American government. In the months after 9/11, he swept all Congressional resistance away, exerted total executive power, wielded a military and paramilitary apparatus far mightier than all its rivals combined and mightier than any power in history, tapped any phone he wanted, claimed the right to torture any suspect he wanted (and followed through with thousands, from Bagram to Abu Ghraib) and was able to print and borrow money with impunity to finance all of it without a worry in the world. But even after all that, he cannot tolerate a few months of someone else, duly elected, having a chance to govern the country with a decent interval of grace.

Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post:

This is the crux of Cheney’s “argument,” and I put the word in quotation marks because it isn’t really a valid argument at all. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration approved programs and methods that previously would have been considered illegal or unacceptable: arbitrary and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, waterboarding and other abusive interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons, unprecedented electronic surveillance. Since 2001, there have been no new attacks on what the Bush administration creepily called the “homeland.” Therefore, everything that was done in the name of preventing new attacks was justified.

The fallacy lies in the fact that it is impossible for Cheney to prove that anti-terrorism methods within the bounds of U.S. law and tradition would have failed to prevent new attacks. Nor, for that matter, can Cheney demonstrate that torture and other abuses were particularly effective.

[…]

Given a choice between a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state who has given to his nation a lifetime of exemplary public service or an entertainer who brags about how much money he makes from bombast and bluster, Cheney would go with the gasbag. This is advice that’s supposed to help the Republican Party?

Maureen Dowd from The New York Times:

In 2002, when Bush Junior was ramping up to his war against Saddam, Al Gore made a speech trying to slow down that war resolution, pointing out that pivoting from Osama to Saddam for no reason, initiating “pre-emptive” war, and blowing off our allies would undermine the war on terror. Charles Krauthammer called Gore’s speech “a disgrace.” Michael Kelly, his fellow Washington Post columnist, called it “vile” and “contemptible.” Newt Gingrich said that the former vice president asserting that W. was making America less safe was “well outside the mark of an appropriate debate.”

[…]

The man who never talked is now the man who won’t shut up. The man who wouldn’t list his office in the federal jobs directory, who had the vice president’s residence blocked on Google Earth, who went to the Supreme Court to keep from revealing which energy executives helped him write the nation’s energy policy, is now endlessly yelping about how President Obama is holding back documents that should be made public.

Cheney, who had five deferments himself to get out of going to Vietnam, would rather follow a blowhard entertainer who has had three divorces and a drug problem (who also avoided Vietnam) than a four-star general who spent his life serving his country.

[…]

He has no coherent foreign policy viewpoint. He still doesn’t fathom that his brutish invasion of Iraq unbalanced that part of the world, empowered Iran and was a force multiplier for Muslims who hate America. He left our ports unsecured, our food supply unsafe, the Taliban rising and Osama on the loose. No matter if or when terrorists attack here — and they’re on their own timetable, not a partisan red/blue state timetable — Cheney will be deemed the primary one who made America more vulnerable.

W.’s dark surrogate father is trying to pull the G.O.P. into a black hole of zealotry, just as the sensible brother who lost his future to the scamp brother is trying to get his career back on track.

When Cheney was in the first Bush administration, he was odd man out. Poppy, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell corralled Cheney’s “Genghis Khan” side, as it was known, and his “rough streak.” Cheney didn’t care for Powell even then.

Keep it coming, Dick Cheney; this is gold, I tell ya, GOLD!!

10
Jun
08

How Obama Can Beat McCain I: Use McCain’s Words Against Him

I have never been involved in a political campaign other than my successful run for National Junior Honor Society President and my unsuccessful shot at National Honor Society President.

Inside the Campaign?

I imagine it cannot be far from living in the eye of a hurricane 24/7, the unpredictability of embarrassing revelations or gaffes, the threat of darkening skies always looming off the horizon and the ethereal moments of clarified victory when poll numbers are favorable. The tantalizing possibilities behind voter psychology, the sea of wadded paper full of unrealized brainstorm sketches, unending analysis of electoral demographics, passionate debates, cultish ideology, coffee and Redbull, pizza and deli sandwiches, and the numbers – always the numbers. I saw War Room. I know what’s up.

Having a government degree, I’m sure I romanticize the goings on in a campaign headquarters and have considered applying my efforts to local organizations. Being in Texas, however, I’ve never quite found that candidate I could wholly support and the thought of working at a phone bank does not hit me in the sweet spot. Furthermore, I’m probably one of the least diplomatic people I know and would have a hard time maintaining that vaseline-required smile when speaking with dissenters.

So, I maintain my safe, self-indulged distance while I write commentary and opinion and shout at the television when necessary – which is a lot under the current circumstances. And I’m convinced, that an outsider’s opinion (including other outsiders, not just moi) could be a valuable asset were campaign strategists inclined to listen. The whole forest for the trees argument is applicable.

2004

I wanted to rip somebody’s arm off in 2004 when nary a Democratic ad used footage of Bush’s 2000 campaign promises – the majority of which the man reneged on, becoming the disastrous tragedy we now have before us. Need I remind anyone of the 1992 stroke of genius when Democratic strategists replayed “No New Taxes” over and over again? If speech writers comb through the archeology of presidential oratory for inspiration, why didn’t the 2004 strategists use the triumphant advertising maneuvers of yesteryear? I still believe W. could have been a one-termer had his broken campaign promises been used against him.

McCain

mccain fatface

Now Obama must turn his focus to McCain. This should be an easy one, though no one on the inside can take anything for granted, lest they find themselves confetti-free November 5. I hate negative advertising, which normally doesn’t work on educated voters, so McCain is the gift that keeps on giving because the man has already produced a library of gaffes this primary season and there’s no end in sight. Now, I’m not sure where the boundaries are, but I think ads that simply use the candidate’s words (albeit, against him) are not necessarily negative enough to turn off voters.

Here’s a recount of a few verbal missteps of McCain:

His gaffes, while funny and likely effective should they be played on a loop closer to the election, do not compare in seriousness to his policy flip-flops, which are also quite numerous:

Now, I’m not good at math, but I think – I think that’s more flip-flops than I can count on two hands. McCain makes Romney look like a party-line loyalist.

It’s quite possible that Obama’s camp is allowing the blogging, online and YouTube universe to attack McCain for him and biding time until polls dictate the right moment to release the marketing big guns. Needless to say, McCain’s own words can easily cost him the election and should be used against him relentlessly.

McCain’s folks are already taking note of the hard times these flip-flops will bring. I haven’t heard his campaign use the term “Straight Talk Express” in a while, but that’s most likely because it’s being used against him:

mccain falwell

Wow. The longer this blog goes on, the more I think, Obama – you sit this one out, we’ll take care of McCain.

I’m not saying this campaign is in the bag. Not at all. Crazy things happen in an election cycle and Obama has to be vigilant (ahem, guns-and-religion) while presenting a sincere and honest resume to the American people.

Yes, the Willie Horton ads are coming. In fact, the strategist behind the Swift Boat ads, Chris Lacivita, has already indicated he’s out for blood, saying, “We will attack Obama viciously on all fair issues, whether they are national security, whether they are taxes or the economy.”

But the Obama camp has to keep in mind: 1. The Rush Limbaugh zombies and the evangelical vote McCain is losing could cancel out any underlying racists and the bitter Hillary voters Obama could lose, 2. Democrats turned out in droves during the primaries to vote and will do so even more in the general, 3. The incumbent party has not won in recent history when the economy is in a recession, 4. Bush is an anathema across the country and McCain differs from him by about .0045 degrees.

When countering McCain, Obama should stick to the issues. Despite McCain’s questionable personal history (there’s a lot of meat there), do not launch personal attacks. Do not issue advertisements with some deep-throated, long-time smoker narrator hurling accusations at McCain and making me want to take a two-hour shower after each viewing. His camp ran an ad here in Texas with a guitar riff that was just amazing. I certainly didn’t mind seeing it over and over and over would suggest replaying it during the general. I can’t find it on Youtube, though, which really bites.

If Obama can stay positive, stay on message and build his credibility with voters by delivering specific solutions (specific being the operative word here), McCain’s words alone will do him in and the Obama camp should allow them to do so. Never has one candidate in history had so much video of his many 180’s, reneges, retreats, reversals and turnabouts. It’s a campaign goldmine.

Democrats, there should really be no excuse for a loss this year. Unless a freak, unpredictable political meteorite of untold proportions manages to sabotage this election, Obama should take this thing home handily. If it even looks questionable or like it’s slipping away, an unleashing of McCain flip-flop videos in torrential volumes will at least encourage Republicans to stay home rather than vote for a dishonorable liar. That’s right. I said it.

There’s a lot at stake here. This is the most significant election in modern history and it is of the utmost import that McCain not win. Luckily, he’s been helping us make the case against him – which I, at least, will continue to do. I will be on the lookout for the next gaffe, the next flip-flop and continue to update this post each time I spot one.

It’s our time people. With the primaries over, it’s time to get focused and get smart and get organized. We have to take our hijacked government back. This is still a representative democracy and it’s time to represent!!

UPDATE:

Latest Flip-flop: Offshore Oil Drilling

UPDATE 0723: Politico chronicles many of McCain’s gaffes (Czechoslovakia, Iraq/Pakistan Border, Sunni “Awakening” occurring after the surge) and comments on them here.

13
Feb
08

Fun and Interesting News

  1. I could not tear myself away from the Clemens/McNamee hearings today! And I had a lot of shit to do! While never a big fan of soap operas, I’m sure those hearings would beat out General Hospital for a daytime Emmy with those satisfying fireworks. As a Longhorn and former Houstonian, it was bit of a punch in the gut to hear Clemens named in the Mitchell Report and to see his incredible (as in, not-credible) behavior subsequently. While I doubt perjury charges will go all the way (and Clemens would sooooo be the husband in a prison cell if they ever did), Rog is lying like a mofo. Buh-Bye. You suck.
  2. According to Think Progress, Goober Bush’s fiscal year 2009 budget is insanely high. Do we need more proof that Repubs have abandoned the fiscally conservative ship? If that’s a priority for voting Republican, many a head needs to be pulled out of many an ass.
  3. The Senate admonished Larry Craig today for “men’s room incident” as MSNBC calls it. Wow, that took soooooo long for no reason. And he’s still a senator. And he’s still creepy creeperson. Come on, you either committed the crime of disorderly conduct (and while sex in the bathroom is nasty, it’s not nearly as bad as pretending to be hetero so you can be a senator from Idaho and attack B.Clinton for getting his goodies off) or you committed the crime of pleading guilty when you were actually innocent. Either way, you committed a CRIME. And you’re still a SENATOR. Makes me want to move to Fiji and wear a sarong. BTW, has anyone noticed that most of the congresspeople convicted of a crime are Repubs?? Or is that just me?
  4. Too bad Romney dropped out of the race before he could really launch into McCain‘s record of flip-flopping (Bush tax-cuts, immigration, etc.) – an argument to which I really looked forward. Well, his holier-than-thou declarations during past Republican debates that waterboarding is torture and should never be used to collect intelligence were simple, hollow slurs of a drunken man. Drunken with desire to be president! He voted no, that’s N. O. Feb. 12 to ban (as in NOT USE) the use of waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation methods” by the CIA. It would take a miracle of biblical proportions (and I’m not even christian) for the Repubs to win the election, but his action today is lubing the already-slick road to the presidency for the Dems like a prostitute on the Vegas Strip!
  5. Kudos to Steven Spielberg for relinquishing his post as artistic advisor to the 2008 Beijing Olympics in response to China’s involvement in the relentless and brutal violence in the North African country of Sudan. Now, I had harbored a undiminished resentment toward Steve-O for leaving Amy Irving for Kate Capshaw back in the 80’s, but this certainly raises his honor capital with moi.
  6. Fun!!! The Feb. 24 CNN Democratic Debate will be held at the Univ. of Texas inside the LBJ Auditorium. Hook ’em.
  7. AND, last but not least, if you like real news and hate funny, sometimes a little mean news (why the hell are you reading this blog?), then look away cause this 23/6 post on the Huffington Post is frigging hysterical, “Inappropriate Hottie Rundown: Prominent and/or Pimped-out Children of Presidential Candidates. I laughed so hard, I almost coughed up a lung – those writers are talented!! For real, read it.



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