May 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.

No country for old racist white men

     On his recent trip to Aushwitz, Newt Gingrich made a spectacular failure of his staged attempt at empathy as he wandered the halls of racial holocaust and worried only about his own wealth and status.

    Using the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to begin an email that attacks our nations first African American President and our first Latin American supreme court nominee is an insult to every American.

    Claiming that appointing a proud minority to a seat of power will undo everything we fought for in the civil war makes me question if Newt knows why we fought the civil war, as well as which side he would prefer fighting for.

    Without noticing it, the GOP has exposed themselves as the party of hatred, fear and lies. Within their own words you can see that the GOP has a Galtian Superiority complex. If there is a Godwin rule for racism it would have given up by now. The GOP is quickly becoming the new Confederate party.

    It is like going to a funeral and hitting on the widow. Going to Aushwitz and disparaging a racial minority on the grounds of reverse racism is like an ex-Nazi soldier going to a temple to blame all the Jews on the decline of the Third Reich. Seriously, the only thing Newt could do to make this look worse would be to steal Jewish owned artwork before he left Germany.

    When faced with the living embodiment of evil Newt could only think of himself. Normal people who are confronted with the face of human evil and the depth of heartless human depravity are often shocked. I guess a leading Republican spokesperson gets kind of used to that sort of thing these days.

    As Newt Gingrich gazed upon the Nazi torture chambers his thought turned towards his own dilema, which seems to be how he can make women, minorities and other social groups easier targets for racist pale skinned bigots and elitist plutocrats.

    When American politicians visit Aushwitz it should be as an exercise in empathy, to do otherwise is to turn such a visit into a photo op. In my mind, no greater insult could be made to the millions of European Jews who were systematically kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler. While posing to take a picture of the roots of evil, Newt Gingrich and the GOP has made themselves out as a group that ether tolerates hatred and evil, or endorses it.

    Torture. Aushwitz.

    I think most sane and decent human beings could agree to being opposed to both.

    Unfortunately, the modern Confederate party of Conservative America is neither decent or sane.

   In my book, any public figure that can write off empathy for the majority of their non millionaire and non Corporate constituents has totally disqualified themselves from any ability to effectively serve the public.

    This is where the GOP stands today. they refuse to serve the public at all. They are totally enthralled to the service of their lords, the private sector and the wealthy individuals, Corporations and Special Interest groups that own their corrupt political party.

    Those who can justify torture can justify anything.

    With Michael Steele, Sarah Palin and other spokespeople, the GOP gets to have their one exception to the new rule. In effect, this exception says that you can join the GOP, but only if you cater solely to the wealthy and no one else. Just as the GOP advocates socialism for the rich and free market capitalism and personal responsibility for everyone else, in the eyes of the GOP empathy is only reserved for war criminals and rich white males. Anything else is Un-American, apparently.

    Going forward, we should remind any voter who is not white, male, heterosexual, christian or wealthy enough exactly where the Confederate party stands on matters of empathy, equality and social justice. We should put the right wing talking points of last week in a time capsule, and we should bring that time capsule out in 2010, 2012, 2014 and on with a little not attached that says “The New Confederate Party”

    The thing about having no empathy is that without empathy you can not have guilt or shame.

    This is just one more reason why the GOP is unfit to run (and wreck) America again.

Novel Serialization Dark Soul – Part One

There is more to life than just politics. Every once in a while you have to do something different and new. Below is my attempt at this. When I write under the name of Something The Dog Said, I am pretty comfortable that I can do it well, both from a knowledge and style perspective. I am not as convinced that I can do as well in the realm of fiction, but I have decided to find out.

This is the first installment in a novel I have written. I am taking the risk of posting it here as I need some feed back. I trust the DD crowd to tell me the truth. If it is unreadable, let me know, if it is average, well I want to hear that too. Any input anyone would like to provide I will take to heart, up to and including hearing “I could eat a piece of paper and typewriter ribbon and crap a better novel than that, don’t embarrass us or yourself any further by posting the rest”, say what you think.

This is a fantasy novel set in a slightly alternate Europe in the early 1000’s. Without further build up:  

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