May 31, 2009 archive

Throw Down

Two issues: one conclusion

Gen. Taguba hath spoken:

“The photographs in that lawsuit, I have not seen,” Taguba told Salon Friday night. The actual quote in the Telegraph was accurate, Taguba said — but he was referring to the hundreds of images he reviewed as an investigator of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq — not the photos of abuse that Obama is seeking to suppress.

So, too, hath President Obama spoken:

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration insists it has no obligation to provide access to a top secret document in a wiretapping case, setting up a showdown next week with the judge who ordered it released.

Justice Department lawyers, in a response Friday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, also argued that Judge Vaughn Walker had no cause to penalize the government over its refusal to turn over the document.

Utopia 9: Parent Teacher Conference

Democracy requires the kind of education that helps young people learn to lead themselves. This can be achieved only in the company of adults who are practicing the same thing they’re preaching.

…I don’t say that the twentieth century has been the worst century of all. I’m enough of an historian to be horrified by most of human history, in which disease, natural disaster, grinding poverty, hunger, despair, and various forms of cruelty, slavery, and degradation have often made vast numbers of human beings only half human and deprived them of their role as citizens. But there are other ways, big and small, by which we lose our humanity and thus our citizenship. What I’m arguing is that unfortunately our schools provide one of those ways.–Deborah Meier

Overnight Caption Contest

A Fool’s Point of View

I am a professional fool. A clown from a long line of clowns, going so far back into the mists of prehistory that some say the Fool was created first when Man Maker the Magician decided one fine day to create human beings…

So, just as a reminder to all that the Fool hasn’t yet given up his day-job of speaking truth to power, here’s a breakdown on the ‘official’ definition in the immortal rendering of Ambrose Bierce:

Bill Moyers: “Everyone Should See ‘Torturing Democracy'”

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

In all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all.

During his speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute last week – immediately on the heels of President Obama’s address at the National Archives – former Vice President Dick Cheney used the euphemism “enhanced interrogation” a full dozen times.

Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism, of course, has a political value, enabling its defenders to diminish the horror and possible illegality. It also gives partisans the opening they need to divert our attention by turning the future of the prison at Guantanamo Bay into a “wedge issue,” as noted on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times.


If we want to know what torture is, and what it does to human beings, we have to look at it squarely, without flinching. That’s just what a powerful and important film, seen by far too few Americans, does.


As the editors of The Christian Century magazine wrote this week, “Convening a truth commission on torture would be embarrassing to the US in the short term, but in the long run it would demonstrate the strength of American democracy and confirm the nation’s adherence to the rule of law…. Understandably, [the president] wants to turn the page on torture. But Americans should not turn the page until they know what is written on it.

Read the whole thing here…

Torturing Democracy originally aired on PBS January 21st, 2009

You can watch “Torturing Democracy” here in three segments, or watch the full  one hour program below.

Questioning The Afghan Premises

It seems that much of the American populace just doesn’t even question the premises for staying in Afghanistan and for ramping it up there.

Some say that our occupation of Afghanistan is “the good war”.  Dammitall, but I just don’t know what they mean, when they say this.  It’s a head scratcher. It seems as if a gazillion people heard the words “the good war” said somewhere, and then they assigned a few neurons to that, but haven’t checked back to see if the concept actually means something or if it is in working order.

Some say Obama has to keep us there until we get OBL.  ‘Course the search for OBL was abandoned under Unitary Executive Humpty Dumpty the First, and Obama hasn’t made getting OBL part of the plan. If getting OBL is supposed to be part of Bama’s plan, then would someone explain that to Bama, please?

Some say we have to stay there until we dismantle AQ.  But = Gen. Petraeus

Saturday Night Follies – Open Thread

Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody

I’ve got some money cause I just got paid

How I wish I had someone to talk to

I’m in an awful way

Prosecuting: Moving Beyond the Mancow Redux.

We watched Christopher Hitchens and Erich “Mancow” Muller spend a few seconds on a waterboard and emerge convinced that waterboarding is torture. While I welcome their conversions, their stunts really did not teach us anything new. Though the initial panic of having water come at them was suffering enough, they both quit before the real effects of waterboarding kicked in: they have no idea what would come if the torture did not stop when they cried “uncle.”

Torture is the systematic use of trauma to provoke a change in consciousness: the only goal of torture is to drive a person to unbearable madness. The purpose of the torture — interrogation, extortion — immaterial. Mancow and Hitchens spent a short time on the waterboard and saw that rabbithole in the distance. They bailed before any of the real terror kicked in…

But what if ending the torture at will was not an option? What if they would have undergone waterboarding as Bybee prescribed?

Breadlines, What Breadlines…

Numbers nine and ten.

Corporate power is protected.

Labor power is supressed.

We are in fact returning to the coal miner days of I owe my soul to the company store.  This report is direct and personal as each one of these stories comes from an immediate family member.

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