Thursday, September 28, 2006

I Can't Stand Bullies

Caveat lector:

The following entry contains no discernible traces of actual journalism, even by the admittedly unexacting standards that generally prevail in this space. It shouldn't be necessary to say so specifically, but the opinions expressed herein are mine alone, and I alone bear liability for them. And the most incendiary things said herein are not to be taken literally, any more than are most of the insults exchanged on the playground or in internet chatrooms. This entry is equal parts self-dramatizing memoir, self-aggrandizing puffery, pointless but hopefully diverting bloviation, and – quite frankly – an act of calling out the people who provoked what follows, if they're interested. And, in what I intend to be a unique departure from my rules of decorum, this essay will include a few examples of mild vulgarity.

Once again, reader discretion is advised.

Roughly a decade and a half ago, when my abortive career as a professional musician was winding down and my prospects as a journalist were firming up, I was briefly the lead guitarist for a band called “Antithesis,” based in Provo, Utah. (Yeah, the choice of name was my idea, and I fully take the blame for it.)

Our debut occurred at an international festival of some sort held on the campus of Brigham Young University.

We attracted a large and very receptive crowd, and with the consent of the people responsible for the room we'd converted into a concert hall (part of the main cafeteria), we played just a little longer than was customary. The audience was appreciative, and the faculty on hand seemed to approve, as well.

Then campus security showed up, led by a guy in his late 40s who was about 6'5” of petty authoritarianism. This guy seemed to think that playing past the established curfew was our idea, and that we had engaged in a minor act of defiance.

After we had shut off the power and started to strike the stage, this guy got in the face of the bass player, who as our frontman was somehow responsible for our supposed offense.

I busied myself with the task of wrapping mike cords and putting away my own gear, while listening to the unfolding verbal smack-down of our bass player. My friend was a mild-mannered, inoffensive sort, and he kept trying to explain that he had nothing to do with the decision to run a little long.

But Mr. Alpha Male Security Man wouldn't let my friend get a word in edgewise, cutting him off, shouting him down, and using his size advantage (more than half a foot in height) to intimidate a young kid who hadn't been looking for a confrontation.

Try as I did to stay aloof, I felt my mercury rising, which – in someone of Mexican-Irish ancestry – can be a dangerous development. “I'll just keep out of it,” I told myself. “Well, I'll stay out until and unless I hear the right word.”

Just then, I heard the “right word”:

“... you little smart-ass,” snarled the Security Chief.

That's the word
, I thought, rising from my crouch and thrusting myself between my friend and his tormentor.

“Hey, Curly, why don't you just back the hell off?” I hissed, poking him in the chest. “We did what we were told, and you've got no right to treat my friend like this, you foul-mouthed, swaggering martinet!”

Or words to that effect. I specifically remember calling the guy a “swaggering martinet.”

The Security Chief (to whom I later apologized, and who wasn't really a bad guy ) snapped his head back and treated me to a look that was equal parts astonishment and evaluation, the former over the fact that he had been called out by a guy who called him a “martinet” (which isn't usually part of the ritual insults that are a necessary prelude to a fist-fight), the latter a natural male instinct when assessing whether you can take the other guy.

After the slightest moment's hesitation, the Chief shook his head and backed down, largely because he was in the wrong and he knew it – but also because he was pretty sure pushing the matter further would have immediate and disagreeable consequences. My bandmates had stopped what they were doing, gaping at me in amazement: I was the easy-going guy who spent our breaks with his nose in a book (at the time, I recall, I was reading George W. F. Hallgarten's Why Dictators?, an interesting if tendentious look at tyrants from Dionysius II of Syracuse through Mussolini).

Even though my right hand is permanently mangled from a street fight I had as a freshman with a guy two years older and twenty pounds heavier than myself (I put him down, but broke my hand in the effort), I've not been in many scrapes. Part of that is because I really hate fist-fights, as does any other rational man. Part of it is because as a believer I'm commanded: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

When possible I'll simply walk away, and for decades that option has been readily available to me. Frank Shamrock, who knows from fighting, likes to point out that true self-defense often involves nothing more than the wisdom to avoid bad situations, and the conditioning to run away if necessary.

But I can't stand bullies.

Which brings us to the point of all of this.

Last night (September 27), while running errands, I made the mistake of listening to Mark Levin's syndicated radio show. For the mercifully uninitiated, Mark Levin is a squalid little fleck of snot who pollutes print, cyber-space, and the airwaves with his bilious brand of neo-Trotskyite bloodlust. He has a face for radio, but a voice that sounds like Joe Pesci on helium.

Had he not attached himself to Sean Hannity, Levin – who I gather is an attorney of sorts – would be panting after ambulances, handing out business cards at funerals, selling his brackish blood for a few bucks, and otherwise doing what he had to in order to scrape together enough money to pay his monthly NAMBLA membership dues. (I'm kidding, of course. Levin isn't a member of NAMBLA, never has been, and never will be. Even despicable pederasts have standards, of course.)

Levin makes a point of maintaining a discrete phone line for self-identified “liberal” callers, whom he invites on the air and immediately begins to insult in a way that calls to mind the proverbial nasty little kid who hides behind the playground bully. Almost without exception, the “liberal” callers are well-mannered, like the fellow from New York who called last night to offer a polite rebuke to Levin for calling people names.

“How big are you?” bellowed Levin to the caller, apropos of nothing. When the puzzled caller said he was about 5'11”, Levin – an audible smirk in his voice (yes, there is such a thing) replied, “Well, I'm six foot one! How much do you weigh? It doesn't matter – I could kick your ass all over the state.”

That's the word, I thought, wishing devoutly that I had about five minutes to administer a much-needed attitude correction to little Marky Levin.

Hey, Marky, you shiny-pated dweeb, you witless suck-up and Quisling, here's an official invitation:

I'm about 5'11”, too. I weigh about 275, and none of it jiggles. I can tear off 100 pushups in pretty strict form in roughly the amount of time it takes Sean Hannity to compose an intelligible sentence.

In a moderated debate forum in which you don't have your grubby little finger on the kill button, I would tear you apart like warm bread. If you wanted to take it to the ring or the mat, I'd beat your arrogant ass so hard it would make your queer lover die from a broken heart. (I'm kidding about the "queer lover" bit, of course, since no self-respecting queer would have Levin.)

You want to make this happen? Drop me an e-mail, bee-yatch.

The same offer is open for Sean Hannity, who's obviously too busy pruning his unibrow to crack the cover on a book, including the two he supposedly wrote.

Anybody who's seen the documentary “This Divided State” probably remembers the nauseating spectacle of Sean waddling across the stage at a speech in Orem, Utah, playing to a crowd of thousands of Republican partisans (the type of people who would have done “the wave” at a Nuremberg Rally), mockingly taunting the few liberals who had dared to attend the rally: “Here, little liberal; here, little liberal,” sneered Hannity as if calling a dog.

Such courage.

C'mon Sean – come out from behind the mike and throw down with a Bush administration critic in a forum neither you nor your buddies control. Or just come and throw down. I'd snap you like a dry twig.

The same deal is extended to self-designated “Culture Warrior” and supposed tough guy Bill O'Reilly, although I think Al Franken's got dibs. I don't respect Franken's political views, and his humor is hardly to my taste, but he's a former collegiate wrestler -- and that I respect. If O'Reilly were foolish enough to get in Al's face, Franken would ground and pound the splotchy-faced Prima Donna faster that you could say “loofah.”

I've had more than a belly-full of the preening, smirking, self-enraptured bullies who represent Bush-era, Fox-centered “conservatism,” and I'm sure that millions of others would say the same thing. They suppurate unearned, insufferable self-regard. And they've infected most of the Right with their arrogance. All of these guys are about two dozen stout ass-whippings shy of being civilized people, and I would gladly volunteer to help each of them catch up.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Abu Ghraib, U.S.A.

Senator Joe Lieberman, who lost the Connecticut Democratic primary to Ned Lamont but is running for re-election as an Independent, was the beneficiary of a September 20 fund raising dinner in Florida organized by shopping mall magnate Mel Sembler, the former chief fund raiser for the Republican National Committee.

Sembler is also the head of the Lewis “Scooter” Libby Legal Defense Trust, organized to raise money to pay the legal bills on behalf of Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby is accused of playing a pivotal role in the Bush regime's outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame as a retaliatory strike against Plame's husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson. More significantly, Libby is believed to have played a similarly critical role in helping to devise the regime's policies regarding the detention and torture of terrorist suspects.

Lieberman has earned the gratitude and support of the regime and its mouthpieces (Sean Hannity being both the stupidest and most repulsive example) for the unqualified support he has offered Bush regarding the Iraq war and efforts to transform the presidency into a fully realized dictatorship.

Some doctrinaire neo-Trots, such as Bill Kristol's gang at the Weekly Standard, have suggested that Lieberman would make a suitable replacement for Donald Rumsfeld, should the incumbent Secretary of Aggression and Occupation be persuaded to step down. Others have gone so far as to suggest that Al Gore's 2000 running mate would make a good addition to the Republican Party's 2008 presidential ticket.

Lieberman may be among the most liberal members of the Senate regarding social and economic matters, but he is rock-solid on the two issues that dominate Bush-era Republican conservatism: Foreign war and domestic tyranny; he's unabashedly in favor of both.

Those eager to know who really runs the Republican Party could do a lot worse than study the career of Mel Sembler. He donated $100,000 to the 1988 Bush campaign, and his diligent and effective work as a GOP money-man was rewarded by an ambassadorship to Australia under King George the Elder, and one to Italy under King George the Dumber. He was given a presidential citation honoring him as a “Point of Light” by Bush I, and publicly described as “my buddy” by the inbred, mentally handicapped Bushling who currently infests the White House.

Prior to becoming one of the key players in the GOP fundraising apparat, Sembler operated a chain of drug “rehabilitation” centers called Straight, Inc., which was an outgrowth of an earlier federally funded program called The Seed. A 1974 investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee found that The Seed employed methods similar to the “highly refined `brainwashing' techniques employed by the North Koreans” against US prisoners of war.

“`Treatment' at The Seed involved 12-hour days of brutal, confrontational group therapy, supplemented with beatings, and isolation if the teens did not comply,” observes investigative journalist Maia Szalavitz, author of Help At Any Cost, a terrifying expose of the contemporary Behavior Modification (BM) industry. “Food and sleep were also limited, kids were completely deprived of privacy, even in the bathroom and they were permitted no reading, music, TV or contact with the outside world. The Congressional investigation gave The Seed a bad name – but Sembler ... and a number of other participants in it believed it saved kids from the evils of drugs.”

At its peak, Sembler's Straight program ran nine “treatment” facilities in seven states. The program received funding from the same government agency that had underwritten The Seed. Straight built upon the Chinese/North Korean methods The Seed had employed by adding its own festive touches; for example, veterans of the program recall “kids being gagged with Kotex pads” and being fed a diet consisting entirely of peanut butter sandwiches.

Many – perhaps most – of the youngsters fed into the Straight program had no documentable problems with drugs or alcohol. Some of them were victims of sexual abuse who, once enrolled in Straight, were brow-beaten , or just beaten, into “admitting” a drug problem. The BM methods used in the program dictated that confessions had to be made in order for a detainee to receive certain privileges – including the power to inflict misery on newer inmates. In addition to being a mind-control cult and concentration camp, Straight was an academy designed to create sadists.

Straight closed down in 1993, but “its tactics live on in hundreds of similar programs holding thousands of teens, some even run by former Straight employees in former Straight buildings,” observes Szalavitz.

Private BM programs, some of which receive government funds, operate offshore in Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Samoa, and elsewhere. A popular variation on the same approach can be found in wilderness programs like the one featured in the short-lived ABC “reality” series “Brat Camp.” Tens of thousands of American teenagers are consigned to such programs, many of them literally kidnapped from their beds early in the morning by rented thugs who – with parental authorization – seized the teens, restraining them with handcuffs if necessary, and delivered them into the custody of the BM programs.

Many of those BM programs, observes Szalavitz , “utilize punishments banned for use on criminals and by the Geneva Conventions.” At facility examined in Szalavitz's book, “teens were found bound and gagged with nooses around their necks.” In 2001, Mexican authorities discovered a facility run by the Utah-based World-Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP) in which teens had been locked in dog cages. At a WWASP camp in Samoa, teens were sentenced to lengthy confinement a three foot by three foot box similar to North Vietnamese “tiger cages.”

Amberly Knight, a WWASP whistleblower who administered a camp in Costa Rica, testifies that “children were imprisoned in deplorable conditions that we would not tolerate for adult death row inmates in America.” When the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were made public, Knight was “horrified,” because “that's what they do [at some WWASP facilities] every single day....”

These BM programs are an outgrowth of the murderous fraud called the War on Drugs, and they developed and employed many of the methods of physical and psychological abuse now being used in the even more murderous fraud called the War on Terror. Sembler – a perverted little lump of arrogant corruption – is a human bridge connecting those two enterprises. And he's one of the most powerful figures at the highest echelon of the Grand Old (Torture) Party.

This is what those people do. It is who those people are. It is why they are Just Plain Evil.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Grand Old (Torture) Party

Politically conservative Mormons and Evangelical Christians are divided by serious disputes over doctrine, but presidential aspirant Mitt Romney has found a way to bridge that chasm: He stands “foursquare behind the president” regarding his supposed authority to order summary imprisonment and torture of anybody upon whom he chooses to visit such treatment.

“The people we are facing are individuals who have no interest in the Geneva Convention,” insisted Romney during a swing through South Carolina to court the Evangelical vote. “They slit the throats of our servicemen. They target civilian populations for terror and destruction.”

The crimes committed by Jihadists are manifold and mortifying, of course, but given that tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in various ways – including decapitation – as a result of the illegal war waged by Washington, there's a moats-vs.--beams issue here that true Christians should recognize.

But “Theo-Cons” of the sort Romney is seeking to seduce would regard such sayings of Jesus as seditious talk – “moral equivalence” that would lead to “appeasement” of our “Islamo-Fascist” enemy.

Come to think of it, wasn't it the Theo-Con faction of Jesus' era who connived in his illegal arrest, detention, torture, trial before a Kangaroo Court, and execution? As I recall, their rallying cry was essentially identical to chief tenet of Bush-era American conservatism: “We have no king but Caesar.”

Jesus was neither a terrorist nor an insurgent, of course, unlike many others who had been imprisoned, tortured, and crucified by Rome. He was just One among many innocent people who got fed into the brutal but necessary machinery of imperial “justice.” The Empire had enemies, of course, and as Pilate understood, sometimes it's tragically necessary for innocent people to suffer in order for civilization to endure.

But I digress ... sort of.

During his most recent visit to South Carolina, Romney's embrace of the totalitarian concept of President-as-torturer-in-chief won the admiring support of the Theo-Cons.
“From his outspoken defense of President Bush on interrogating terrorism suspects to an appeal to Christian conservatives here Friday, Gov. Mitt Romney is increasingly trying to position himself as the leading conservative alternative to Sen. John S. McCain, R-Ariz., in the 2008 presidential race,” reported the Boston Globe.

“He's maximized his window of opportunity very well in South Carolina," observed Scott Malyerck, executive director of South Carolina's state Republican Party. ``He's hitting those conservative buttons that folks are concerned about."

Granted, Romney's positions on abortion and homosexuality have, as they say, evolved since his senate candidacy in 1994, during which he attempted to flank Ted Kennedy to the left. He was elected Governor of Massachusetts as one of those dreaded “moderate” Republicans, and more than a few local critics believe that his enlistment as a conservative footsoldier in the kulturkampf was inspired by simple opportunism.

But Romney put such concerns to rest, as far as South Carolina's Republican leadership is concerned, by publicly pledging his support for the Imperial Executive (a gesture serious Christians also refer to as “bending the kneel to Baal”).

John McCain has made similar efforts to court the Theo-Cons, and he probably would have earned their unqualified support were it not for the fact that he seemed to cavil over the question of torture. This would be understandable, since, as an “illegal combatant” in the war against Vietnam (the causus belli was fraudulent, and war was not declared by Congress – two reasons invoked by the bestial Vietnamese Communists to justify their horrific treatment of our POWs), McCain was subject to many of the same forms of “coercive interrogation” the Theo-Cons consider just and proper.

McCain's opposition as part of a dialectical charade, of course, but even pantomimed opposition to the Divine Leader is considered a severe heresy by the Theo-Cons. It is possible that McCain will find forgiveness before the primaries begin, and if he gets the nomination I could see Romney ending up at the bottom of the ticket.

In any event, Romney's presidential aspirations will inevitably provoke detailed media scrutiny of his religious background, including some elements of Mormon history, doctrine, and practice that will make for lurid copy.

For this reason, while in South Carolina Romney was confronted by Cindy Mosteller, a supporter of John McCain, who has concerns about how the historic Mormon practice of polygamy and the church's teachings about people of African and American ancestry would play with the voting public.

Another brief digression is necessary here.

The practice of polygamy was officially disavowed in 1890, although it continued sub rosa until the early decades of the 20th Century, and remains enshrined in Mormon scriptures as a godly ideal (and, in a theoretical sense, it is still practiced by Mormon men who are “sealed” to both a living wife and a deceased spouse; Mormon Apostle Russell M. Nelson, the LDS Church's point man of the defense of traditional marriage, meets that description).

For nearly 150 years, Mormon doctrine prohibited the ordination of black men to the church's lay priesthood and depicted black skin as the mark of a divine curse.
That policy was changed when LDS President Spencer W. Kimball announced a revelation in June 1978 lifting the ban on ordination. However, that announcement was coupled with a statement from the Mormon hierarchy reiterating its opposition to intermarriage between white and black people.

Exogamy had previously been treated as a problem because it would transmit the “curse” supposedly inherited by black people. Yet once the “curse” was lifted, the official opposition to “race-mixing” remained.

(Furthermore, according to Mormon teachings, dark-skinned people of American Indian ancestry, Latinos, and Polynesians also display in their complexion the mark of divine disfavor; God, as defined in Mormonism, is oddly preoccupied with melanin content as a form of color-coding for righteousness.)

Also likely to be of some concern to the voting public would be the largely ignored, but still authoritative, Mormon teaching that the Constitutional Republic created by America's Founders was merely a precursor to the advent of a Mormon theocracy. Shortly before being murdered in June 1844, Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith organized a secretive group called the Council of Fifty that was intended to be the foundation for a Mormon theocracy.

At the time, Smith was campaigning for the U.S. Presidency , an office to which he considered himself entitled by divine appointment. After the Council of Fifty was created, Smith was anointed “Prophet, Priest and King over Israel on Earth,” which meant (in the words of his loyal disciple Heber C. Kimball) that Smith was “the president pro tem of the world.”

This is a very interesting topic I will have to explore at greater length on another occasion. But back to Mitt Romney and the GOP Theo-Cons....

Cindy Mosteller, a devout Evangelical Christian aware of at least some of these issues, says that she's concerned about their political impact on the Republican Party should Romney become the front-runner.

According to an account in The State, Mosteller “had planned to ask the questions in an open committee session, but Romney nixed that idea by ending his short address with a final `thank you.' The governor then proceeded to meet with the media for about 15 minutes.

Enter Mosteller.

Sensing trouble, Romney aides hurriedly ushered reporters out the door.
Afterward, Mosteller said the governor did not answer any of her questions. She described the meeting as `very tense.'”

“This makes me sick,” complained Republican activist Cindi Costa, who had “pleaded with Mosteller not to confront Romney.” “Your personal faith is not game in politics. It’s a private matter.... [confronting Romney] besmirches her character. It makes her look hateful. This is not what we’re about. The party does not give religious tests.”
Mosteller's action was “awful,” complained said Spartanburg GOP chairman Rick Beltram. “She acted in bad taste,” insisted Katon Dawson, the state GOP chairman.

So here's where we stand: “Coercive interrogation” of prisoners, employing methods similar to those employed by the KGB, is a moral and proper policy with which no patriotic Christian can take issue, and asking polite – albeit – forceful questions about the religious convictions of a man auditioning for the most powerful office in human history is “in bad taste.”

If Mitt Romney were exactly the same candidate – the same vaguely Ted Dansoneque looks, the same privileged upbringing, spewing the same Osterized rhetoric – but was a Muslim rather than a Mormon, the Theo-Cons would hardly be as eager to denounce the use of “religious tests.”

The doctrinal differences that separate Mormon beliefs from mainline Christianity are as numerous and as significant as those dividing Dar al-Islam from the Christian world. In some ways Mormonism is closer kindred to Islam than it is to conventional Christianity.(.pdf)

Indeed, during the 19th century – particularly in the aftermath of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre, the original September 11 terrorist attack – the desert-dwelling, polygamist Mormon theocracy under Brigham Young was often described in terms quite similar to those used in excoriating “Islamo-Fascists” today.

It's also worth pointing out that Mormons were on the receiving end of some of the most abominable abuses of government power in our nation's history, including an “extermination order” issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri in 1838. A lot of this follows the familiar and tragic script of innocent people getting the worst of fights their leaders had picked on their behalf, but be that as it may, one would expect that Mormons, of all people, would be reflexively suspicious of unaccountable government power.

Just as we would expect that Christians, who worship as God Incarnate an innocent Man who was treated to every form of torment the perverse ingenuity of professional torturers could devise before giving His Life on our behalf, would have moral compunctions against authorizing any government to engage in torture.

Tomorrow: How a key fundraiser for the Grand Old (Torture) Party profited from illegally imprisoning and brainwashing American youth.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Republicans: Just Plain Evil

KGB Headquarters Lubyanka Square; in the foreground is a statue of KGB founder Feliks Dzherzhinsky.

At the risk of intruding into the one area in which Jonah Goldberg enjoys unchallenged expertise, I begin today with a reference to The Simpsons -- specifically the episode entitled “Bart Gets an Elephant.”

Through a series of utterly random and implausible events that appear quite rational and predictable in the “Simpsons” universe, elementary school troublemaker Bart Simpson acquires an elephant named Stampy. At some point Stampy escaped and went on a rampage. En route to the Springfield Tar Pits (described by Time magazine as offering “the best in tar entertainment”) the terrified pachyderm barges through the local Republican Party convention. Among the signs displayed at the event to rally the faithful are two reading “We want what's worst for everyone!” and “We're just plain evil!”

Just so.

After chasing Stampy to the tar pits, Homer somehow became mired in them and began to sink into their bituminous depths.

“I'm pretty sure I can struggle my way out,” Homer assured his horrified family. “First” -- he said, reaching down to grab his ankles -- “ I'll just reach in and pull my legs out. Then, I'll pull my arms out with my teeth.”

On the evidence of recent headlines, Homer's approach to freeing himself from the tar pits is pretty much identical to the Bush regime's strategy for getting the US out of the Iraq-mire: The way “out” is to bury ourselves completely in the Mesopotamian morass.

But the critical insight provided by that Simpsons episode was its revelation of the GOP's secret motto.

On more than one occasion I have adverted to the following piece of political folk wisdom:

In Washington, there are two parties: The Stupid Party (the GOP) and The Evil Party (the Democrats). Occasionally they will collaborate to do something that is both stupid and evil. We call this “bipartisanship.”

By common convention, beginning with John Stuart Mill, conservatives have been known as “the Stupid party,” and with the ascendancy of Bush the Dumber, and GOP spokesmen like Sean Hannity, the Republican Party does seem to be the natural habitat of the synapse-challenged among us.

But during the Bush administration, a type of amalgamation has taken place. The Republicans, while losing none of their stupidity, have added to that trait an apparently limitless capacity for pure, unabashed, vindictive evil, while the Democrats, while retaining their penchant for political evil, have apparently come down with a terminal case of the “stupids.”

This is displayed to good effect in the recent “compromise” over the question of torture. From the very beginning it was clear that the Bush-led Republican Party would settle for nothing less than some formula that would enrich presidential powers and put the US government on record – the first in modern history, if I'm not mistaken – as claiming the legal right to engage in torture. Not that Washington would be the first to practice torture, mind you, but rather the first to make a public assertion that it is legal, proper, and moral to commit that crime.

The Bush regime demanded that Congress enshrine that policy into law, and House Republicans eagerly approved the White House version of the proposed law. After a brief but transparently dishonest display of resistance from three Senate Republicans, a slightly modified version of the same basic legislation is now ready for passage. Although it bans nine forms of torture as violations of the War Crimes Act, the key element of the legislation is found in the provision authorizing the president to determine what “grey area” torture methods would be permitted, and how violations would be punished.

Which means, in effect, that in the matter of torture, as in so much else, George W. Bush would be a law unto himself.

And that is how the measure would read before His Imperial Stupidness nullified whatever restrictions it contains by revising it, after the fact, by way of a “signing statement.”

As the irreplaceable James Bovard points out, the “compromise” measure “will de facto permit the CIA to continue torturing people around the world. And the deal will prevent anyone — including Bush administration officials — from being held liable for the torture.”

Eric Margolis of the Toronto Sun, who was the first journalist permitted to visit the KGB dungeon at Lubyanka Square, believes that the torture “compromise” is one of the final steps in the process he calls the “Sovietizing” of the United States:

“We have seen America’s president and vice president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin. The White House insisted that anyone — including Americans — could be kidnapped and tried in camera using `evidence' obtained by torturing other suspects. Bush & Co. deny the U.S. uses torture but reject the basic law of habeas corpus and U.S. laws against the evil practice. The UN says Bush’s plans violate international law and the Geneva Conventions.”

What may be even worse is the arrogant triumphalism displayed by the Republicans in demanding that the Democrats simply shut up and play along.

“I don't think sitting on the sidelines in the war on terrorism is a good idea,” taunted Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. “My advice to the Democrats would be to support us – that would be a great way to take that issue off the table.”
As if that weren't bad enough, consider how the “Christian” Right has dealt with the prospect of America's transformation into a terror and torture regime.

Lou Sheldon is the head of a group calling itself the Traditional Values Coalition, which for the most part has focused on cultural issues, such as abortion, homosexual “rights,” and the like. He recently ventured out of that field to endorse the White House's demand that our laws and policies be radically revised in a neo-Soviet direction.

"Our rules for interrogation need to catch-up with this awful new form of war that is being fought against all of us and the free world,” insists Sheldon. “The post -World War II standards do not apply to this new war. We must redefine how our lawful society treats those who have nothing but contempt for the law and rely on terrorizing the innocent to accomplish their objectives. The lines must be redrawn and then we must pursue these criminals as quickly and as aggressively as the law permits.”

Rev. Sheldon, it appears, has spent too much time communing with the GOP and too little time in the word, which is why he appears to have forgotten God's admonition against moving the “ancient landmark that our fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28).

Unless Sheldon's idea of “traditional” values pre-dates both the Constitution and the Magna Carta – or perhaps even Law of Moses and the Code of Hammurabi – there's nothing “traditional” in his desire to “redefine” our constitutional and legal standards, or in his demands that legal and ethical standards be “redrawn.”
And pray tell me, what Christian would urge that we “catch-up” with terrorist barbarians?

That question assumes, of course, that it is the terrorists who are in the lead in the race to nihilistic oblivion. Bush and his junta manifestly have “nothing but contempt for the law,” and they – like the Clintonoids before them, who screwed down an embargo on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children – have no compunctions against killing or terrorizing innocent women and children.

I'll have some additional thoughts on this subject in my next installment....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will The Regime Murder Cory Maye?

Courtesy of the indefatigable (and Pulitzer-worthy) Radney Balko comes a useful glimpse into the inner life of a footsolider in the War on Drugs.

Before sharing the insights of this public-minded paladin of justice, it's necessary to sketch a brief portrait of that pillar of rectitude, and describe the role he played in an incident five years ago that has cost one man his life, and may eventually take the life of another.

Prentiss, Mississippi resident Randy Gentry is described by Balko as “a 51-year-old guy with white hair pulled back into a ponytail [and] a long, white beard....” He also wears glasses, but not for reading, because he's illiterate, which is a tragedy.
There are many decent and generous people from the Deep South who meet that description. Gentry is not among them. He appears to be a professional parasite, a drug user who occasionally works as a “confidential informant” when the local branch of the Leviathan State's police apparatus wants to conduct a no-knock drug raid. Gentry has performed that service on many occasions.

Gentry was the informant whose anonymous tip led to a December 26, 2001 paramilitary raid on a duplex in Prentiss during which officer Ron Jones, the son of the local Police Chief, was killed by then-21-year-old Cory Maye in a case of double mistaken identity. The officers had gotten the wrong address, and illegally raided Maye's side of the duplex. Maye, seeing his home invaded by eleven unidentified armed men wearing black, got his gun and shot one of the intruders.

As I have written before,under the constitution and laws of Mississippi, as well as applicable judicial precedents, Maye is guilty of no crime, let alone capital murder. Yet in 2004 Maye was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

Prior to December 2001, Maye had no criminal record. His first unpleasant encounter with the police came when they illegally invaded his home. He had no criminal record. His reaction is more or less what one would expect from any citizen with a sleeping 18-month-old girl (my youngest daughter is about that age) who awoke to find the sanctity of his home violated by a pack of armed thugs.

Maye's case has attracted nowhere near the amount of publicity one would expect (given that it's practically a John Grisham novel brought to life). A new defense team has come to his aid and is petitioning Circuit Judge Michael Eubanks for a new trial.

Gentry testified on Tuesday that he had bought drugs from Jamie Smith, who had been Maye's next-door neighbor, on two occasions. According to a Clarion Ledger account of the hearing, Gentry claims that “Smith told him he got the drugs from Maye,” and on the second occasion, “Smith left to get the drugs from Maye.... Earlier today, Gentry testified that he bought two rocks of cocaine from Smith and said he saw Smith go into Maye's house. He said he saw the drug transaction between the two through a thin window curtain in Maye's house. But he acknowledged it wasn't `as plain as day.'”

Smith, who was the target of the warrant, was charged in the drug raid “but never prosecuted,” notes the Clarion Ledger. “He skipped bail and has never been found.”
Unless we (or at least some jurisdictions in Mississippi) are already operating under Gitmo-ized rules of evidence, Gentry's testimony should have been laughed out of court, since it is predicated on hearsay – that is, the only connection between his dealer, Smith, and Maye is what Gentry says that Smith told him.

Furthermore, Gentry's own brother Sherman (good grief, what self-respecting Southerner would have a “Sherman” as a given name?) has impeached the testimony, “saying there was only one drug purchase and that he drove Randy Gentry to the duplex to make it. He also said his brother left the duplex with a young man who looked about 16 or 17 and was not Maye.”

Most damaging of all to Randy Gentry's credibility is his admission that he had left an incredibly foul and bigoted message on the answering machine of Bob Evans, Maye's defense attorney, after being told that he would be compelled to testify in court.
With the local affiliate of the Leviathan state unwilling to cooperate, Evans tracked down Gentry using a private investigator. The informant was willing to meet with the investigator until he learned that the PI worked for Maye's defense team. He promptly shut up and refused to meet with Evans, who called to tell the informant that if he didn't cooperate voluntarily, he would be forced to through a subpoena.

By way of reply, Gentry – who had “turned himself in” to the Sheriff, rather than cooperate with Maye's defense team – left the following message, which glistens with the subtle, ironic wit we would expect from someone who works as a part-time collaborator with the Regime (I have sanitized it somewhat for your protection):

“Yeah, this is Mr. Randy Gentry. Hey, I got to thinkin' about my friend. I got yo' message this morning, Bob. Y'all -- y'all threaten me all you want to and everything. I don't like f**kin' ni**ers from jump street but call me or whatever and I'll -- but the day I burn five cents on gas to help that f**kin' c**sucker Cory Maye get out of jail is going to be a hell of a damn day. But -- uh -- if you want to talk to me like a f**kin' white man, you talk. But don't threaten me on bullsh**t. Get your NAACP mother***kers -- I don't give a f**k -- ni**ers, bro, f**k ni**ers! But I'll tell you what. That's a good friend of mine they killed, buddy. I'll -- I'll tell you anything. I'll -- I'll be honest with you as f**kin' gum (?) street. But I don't like no motherf**ker talkin' s**t to me or about my friends. Alright, well look here. Call me today and look here. Y'all buy my f**kin' gas, the NAACP buy my f**kin' gas I'll come talk to y'all or whatever. But look here. I'm -- I'm a poor-a** motherf**r too, bro. Call me. You got my f**kin' number. Don't piss me f**kin' off.”

This is a core sample of what passes for the soul of the individual on whose word the State's killing machinery was set in motion, resulting in the death of one young man, and the likely death of a second.

This is the kind of individual – the word “man” may have once applied, but it manifestly doesn't at present – without whom the War on Drugs couldn't proceed: A petty criminal apparently joined at the hip with law enforcement (he refers to Officer Jones as “a good friend of mine” and apparently regards the Pearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force – the federally funded regional agency that conducted the lethal raid – as “my friends” about whom he will countenance no “sh*t”-talking.

Sherman was a trusted and valuable collaborator until he became a source of controversy; now the prosecution is trying to discredit its key witness, even as it insists that the raid, and subsequent prosecution of Maye, were entirely righteous.
This is rather like the way that the Bush regime relied on “intelligence” from the likes of Ahmed Chalabi to justify the invasion of Iraq, and then turned on Chalabi once he was exposed as a crook and a fraud – while insisting, simultaneously, that the war was a good and worthy undertaking and that there really is no point in “re-litigating” the whole issue.

The nature and operations of the regime remain consistent, from the Oval Office down to its tiniest and most obscure local affiliates (Prentiss, Mississippi has a population of about 1,200).

It used to be said that federal intervention was necessary because tiny communities like Prentiss with stagnant puddles of congealed prejudice. Yet in the case of Cory Maye, an innocent young black man (whether he is a saint or sinner, the only “crime” of which he's been convicted was an act that meets the legal definition of justifiable homicide) is likely to die because of a combination of racial bigotry and local corruption that were catalyzed through federal intervention.

[Note: Please ignore the badly mangled version of this essay appearing below.]

A Quick Note

Blogger -- which is a wonderful service -- appears to be having a fit of dyspepsia, which is why my post on the Cory Maye case looks, um, partially digested.

As soon as things settle down, I'll go back and tidy up the post.

Will The Regime Murder Cory Maye?

Courtesy of the indefatigable (and Pulitzer-worthy) Radney Balko comes a useful glimpse into the inner life of a footsolider in the War on Drugs.

Before sharing the insights of this public-minded paladin of justice, it's necessary to sketch a brief portrait of that pillar of rectitude, and describe the role he played in an incident five years ago that has cost one man his life, and may eventually take the life of another.

Prentiss, Mississippi resident Randy Gentry is described by Balko as “a 51-year-old guy with white hair pulled back into a ponytail [and] a long, white beard....” He also wears glasses, but not for reading, because he's illiterate, which is a tragedy.

There are many decent and generous people from the Deep South who meet that general description. Gentry is not among them.

He appears to be a professional parasite, a drug user who occasionally works as a “confidential informant” when the local branch of the Leviathan State's police apparatus wants to conduct a no-knock drug raid. Gentry has performed that service on many occasions.

Gentry was the informant whose anonymous tip led to a December 26, 2001 paramilitary raid on a duplex in Prentiss during which officer Ron Jones, the son of the local Police Chief, was killed by then-21-year-old Cory Maye in a case of double mistaken identity. The officers had gotten the wrong address, and illegally raided Maye's side of the duplex. Maye, seeing his home invaded by eleven unidentified armed men wearing black, got his gun and shot one of the intruders.

No comments:

Will The Regime Murder Cory Maye?

Courtesy of the indefatigable (and Pulitzer-worthy) Radney Balko comes a useful glimpse into the inner life of a footsolider in the War on Drugs.

Before sharing the insights of this public-minded paladin of justice, it's necessary to sketch a brief portrait of that pillar of rectitude, and describe the role he played in an incident five years ago that has cost one man his life, and may eventually take the life of another.

Prentiss, Mississippi resident Randy Gentry is described by Balko as “a 51-year-old guy with white hair pulled back into a ponytail [and] a long, white beard....” He also wears glasses, but not for reading, because he's illiterate, which is a tragedy.

There are many decent and generous people from the Deep South who meet that general description. Gentry is not among them.

He appears to be a professional parasite, a drug user who occasionally works as a “confidential informant” when the local branch of the Leviathan State's police apparatus wants to conduct a no-knock drug raid. Gentry has performed that service on many occasions.

Gentry was the informant whose anonymous tip led to a December 26, 2001 paramilitary raid on a duplex in Prentiss during which officer Ron Jones, the son of the local Police Chief, was killed by then-21-year-old Cory Maye in a case of double mistaken identity. The officers had gotten the wrong address, and illegally raided Maye's side of the duplex. Maye, seeing his home invaded by eleven unidentified armed men wearing black, got his gun and shot one of the intruders.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Regime-Speak: Three Examples

There are myriad ways in which the people who rule us, and those who shill and flack on their behalf, express their disdain for our intelligence. Perhaps the most common expressions of contempt are the gems of transparent hypocrisy or starkly obvious dishonesty that litter the public statements and writings of the ruling class.

Such moments offer a tacit but unmistakable message: “We can afford to be candid, because the public at large isn't paying attention – and those who do we can easily denigrate as paranoid types.”

The news yesterday (Friday, September 15 – the birthday of my incomparably lovely wife Korrin, incidentally) offered several suitable illustrations of what I'm describing, which I'll call “Regime-Speak” for want of a better description.

Toward the end of his syndicated column – in which he admitted that the impending war with Iran would be an economic, diplomatic, and military disaster, yet insisted that war was the only rational course of action -- Charles Krauthammer decanted this specimen:

“Then there is the larger danger of permitting nuclear weapons to be acquired by religious fanatics seized with an eschatological belief in the imminent apocalypse and in their own divine duty to hasten the End of Days.... Against millenarian fanaticism glorying in a cult of death, deterrence is a mere wish. Is the West prepared to wager its cities with their millions of inhabitants on that feeble gamble?”

As I read those lines, I found myself asking: “do you mean apocalyptic religious fanatics like John Hagee, and the rest of the Ecclesio-Leninist Armageddon Lobby?”

Nope. Krauthammer wasn't referring to pseudo-Christian men of the polyester like Hagee, who want to nuke Iran as a way of triggering the End Times. He's talking about their addle-pated Iranian analogues, who are just as devoted to an eschatalogical vision more or less identical, but who -- unlike the American apocalypticists who are tightly allied with Bush -- don't have the luxury of a huge nuclear arsenal to wreak havoc on the region.

Elsewhere in the headlines, I noticed that the regime's counterfeiting arm, known colloquially as the Federal Reserve system, is going after the good folks at NORFED, creators of the privately circulated Liberty Dollar.

The Liberty Dollar comes in various denominations, either in silver or gold or in negotiable notes (storage receipts accepted on a voluntary basis by merchants who understand the system) backed by gold and silver.

The appendage of the regime calling itself the “Justice” Department insists that voluntary use of the Liberty Dollar “is a crime,” reported USA Today.

Think of this for a second.

The Constitution specifies that the government can only use gold and silver as money. The “Justice” Department insists that the use of gold and silver is a crime.
"We don't want consumers to be fooled," lied U.S. Mint spokeswoman Becky Bailey. "The United States Mint is the only entity that can produce coins.”

Mizzzzzz Bailey is not only dishonest, she's apparently illiterate as well, since she probably meant to say that only the Mint “may” produce coins, not that it is the only entity that “can” do so. NORFED and other private interests are obviously capable of creating beautiful gold and silver coins, they simply don't have the regime's permission to circulate them.

Compare the Liberty Dollar's glorious silver bullion coin to the regime's ugly little scrap metal slugs:

Reciting the regime's party line in a way that is both dutiful and bulimic, USA Today complains that the precious metal coins manufactured by NORFED are often “accepted unknowingly by clerks who are unaware they are not receiving real money” -- an inversion of reality so brazen it might cause a double-take from a desk-bound drone at the Ministry of Truth.

McPaper similar “reports”: “The Mint notes the coins share some resemblances to real money, such as the term `Trust in God' instead of `In God We Trust' and use of a torch in the design. Such similarities may confuse people into thinking the money is real, the Mint says.”

Here's the “truth,” as the regime would have us accept it: “Real” money has no real money (precious metal) in it. Real money isn't “real,” because it consists entirely of precious metal, without the missing ingredients necessary to make “real money”: Force (the government compels people to use FRNs as legal currency) and fraud (the government refers to ugly pieces of scrap paper as “dollars,” even though the term “dollar," per a 1792 law, refers to a specific quantity -- 371.25 grams -- of pure silver).

Everybody got that? It doesn't matter. Our rulers recognize that most people don't choose to think, and has ways of marginalizing those of us who do.

Additional samples of Regime-Speak were found in abundance during the Wee Decider's press conference yesterday.

Hunched over and gesticulating in full General Urko mode, the War Prezidunt was frustrated that the Republican Senate isn't quite as enthusiastic as he would like when it comes to authorizing “coercive interrogation” techniques – y'know, what honest people call torture.

The Decider was particularly outraged by the suggestion that the use of torture undermines the moral standing of our country:

“If there’s any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, that’s flawed -- flawed logic.... It’s just -- just -- I -- I simply can’t accept that. It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children and -- to achieve an objective.’’

Let's see: When Washington bombs and invades a nation that neither attacked nor threatened us, thereby killing (inter alia)"innocent women and children," following a decade-long embargo that killed tens of thousands of "innocent women and children," it must be displaying "the compassion and decency of the American people."

So stammered our Logician-in-Chief.

Of course, the issue here isn't the behavior of the country at large, but rather some elements of the military and intelligence organs of the regime that rules us. And it's significant that the military itself has opposed the means and methods the Bush regime is trying to institutionalize, such as extra-constitutional terrorism tribunals, “extraordinary rendition,” and the use of torture.

But then again, to the extent that the population allows itself to be gulled into compliant silence, we do share the moral responsibility for the crimes committed by the regime ruling in our name.

BTW --

As an unfrozen caveman blogger, I've yet to master all of the features of Blogger, which is new and frightening to me. So I'll just mention a couple of important links here:

The New American magazine -- "That Freedom Shall Not Perish."

World-class information entrepreneur Tai Aguirre, who created the terrific investigative radio program "Scams & Scandals" (later "Could YOU Be Next?"), has a new weekly program entitled The ExPat Show, for which I provide a regular feature called "Global News and Commentary."

Please check them out!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Conspiracy Theorists Are Plotting Against Us!

Jonah Goldberg has apparently broken with his self-described daily routine – eating bricks of microwaved cheddar cheese while watching women-in-prison softcore porn – to do a smattering of research into “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”

Goldberg's latest syndicated column
is a variation on a familiar trope -- “The conspiracy theorists are plotting to take over!”

He warns that belief in conspiracies constitutes a “a virulent form of unpatriotism [sic] festering in America today,” a “rough beast [that] slouches toward sedition because it assumes not that our leaders are knaves or even mere criminals, but that they are murderous Supermen with no loyalty to nation, decency, or law.”

This is “seditious dementia,” “diseased thinking,” a “fever of the mind,” types Goldberg (“writing” doesn't exactly describe what Goldberg does with the scraps and fragments of research provided to him, since what he publishes displays none of the insight or intellectual exertion that characterize actual writing). Like most, if not all, bred-in-the-bone Statists, Goldberg simply assumes that patriotism consists of upholding and supporting the government, as opposed to the rule of law – and that expecting the worst of rulers is tantamount to treason.

Were he an actual pundit as opposed to a poseur, Goldberg would have pulled on a thread dangling from one of the orphaned citations that litters his column: “In his 1964 essay, `The Paranoid Style in American Politics,' Richard Hofstader demonstrated that this fever of the mind [belief in conspiracies] is as old as America itself and its outbreaks flare up across the ideological landscape.”

Hofstader, Goldberg almost certainly doesn't know, joined the Communist Party at Colombia University in 1938 – back when its boss was Josef Stalin, who somehow managed to be both the consummate conspirator and one of history's most murderous paranoiacs, seeing plots and conspiracies practically everywhere.

"I join without enthusiasm but with a sense of obligation,” Hofstader said at the time he joined the Party. “My fundamental reason for joining is that I don't like capitalism and want to get rid of it. I am tired of talking... The party is making a very profound contribution to the radicalization of the American people.... I prefer to go along with it now."

This smells an awful lot like an admission that the man who would become the dean of anti-conspiratorial thinking had consciously enlisted in a conspiracy to overthrow “capitalism” (by which I think he meant private property and the relatively civilized society built on the foundation of private property ownership).

Hofstader, like many others, left the Party in 1939 to protest the Hitler-Stalin pact, and he eventually drifted from the orthodox Marxist faith – but he never abandoned his hatred for free market capitalism and (what's much the same thing) his reverence for the collectivist state. Like other Stalinists, both devout and disillusioned, Hofstader never abandoned the habit of treating anti-statist dissent as a form of mental illness.

In this he was close kindred to Theodor Adorno, who in 1950 published The Authoritarian Personality, a seminal work of pseudo-scholarship that fused Marxism and Freudianism in an attempt to demonstrate that Americans suspicious of government are “latent” Fascists – which makes as much sense as saying that chastity is a symptom of latent promiscuity (which is exactly the sort of thing ol' Siggy would say). People who are instinctively suspicious of government don't enlist in a movement defined by the credo “Everything within the State; nothing outside the State; nothing against the State.”

In fact, America's Constitution is an artifact of the anti-conspiratorial worldview that inspired its drafters.

As Harvard historian Bernard J. Bailyn documented in his Pulizer Prize-winning book The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers of the United States were splendid representatives of that kind of people who loosen the bladders of Statists like Jonah Goldberg: Armed, Bible-believing, anti-government “conspiracy theorists.” Which is to say that they recognized the reality of conspiracy and devised theories about its origins and how to defeat it.

The Founders, writes Bailyn, “saw about them, with increasing clarity, not merely mistaken, or even evil, policies violating the principles upon which freedom rested, but what appeared to be evidence of nothing less than a deliberate assault launched surreptitiously by plotters against liberty both in England and America."

In Conceived in Liberty, his history of the American Revolution, Murray Rothbard pointed out that the British government's plan was to use the threat of Indian attacks on the colonies as a pretext to maintain military garrisons in the colonies – supposedly for the purpose of protecting the colonists from the Indians, but actually as a way of enforcing Parliament's will on the Americans and screwing down a system that would eventually extract everything of value from the resource-rich colonies and reduce the English-speaking population to peonage.

The Founders weren't fools; they recognized a conspiracy when they saw one. And the language they used to describe what was happening reads quite a bit like what Goldberg dismisses as “seditious dementia.”

One useful example is found in a letter written by the Continental Congress to Great Britain, dated July 4, 1776.

While “all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed,” wrote Thomas Jefferson on behalf of his fellow demented seditionists, “... when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

That's high-octane conspiracy talk. It's also a useful digest of the foundational American belief about government: It is always and ever the biggest threat to the rights, liberties, and property of the governed; it is a latently criminal entity that will display its worst traits to murderous effect unless it is hedged by law, made accountable to the governed, and subject to abolition if and when such a course proves necessary.

James Madison, writing in 1785, elaborated further on the Founders' conspiracy-minded analysis of current events: “The freemen of America did not wait until usurped power strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”

The Founders, in short, assumed that all political leaders are, at best, knaves and criminals, and created a constitutional framework intended to deal with that unfortunate reality of fallen human nature.

As Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin discovered in a 1956 survey of political rulers of all varieties, “the rulers of the states are the most criminal group in a respective population. With a limitation of their power their criminality tends to decrease; but it still remains exceptionally high in all nations.”

Government, emancipated from law, is nothing but a conspiracy against liberty, peace, and prosperity. That's the American view in a single phrase. It shouldn't surprise us to learn that Stalinists like Hofstader would find that perspective abhorrent. Nor should it surprise us that junior-league Trotskyites like Goldberg – who has no problem with the Total State, as long as its power is invested in an effort to kill the people he'd like to see killed – would embrace Hofstader's analysis, or at least the fragments or snippets easily culled through a quick Google search.

The chief target of Goldberg's column is the 9-11 Truth Movement, which disseminates evidence that the federal government was either complicit in, or actually choreographed, the Black Tuesday atrocities. “More than a third of Americans believe the US government was likely to have been involved in 9/11,” laments Goldberg.
That finding is alarming. I would hope that that percentage would be considerably higher.

This isn't because I subscribe to the idea that the WTC buildings were brought down by controlled demolition (I'm not convinced, but persuadable). Rather, it's because the evidence that the Bush regime had detailed prior knowledge of the attack, and (at very least) permitted it to happen, is abundant and compelling, and because of the cynical way that the regime has exploited that tragedy – while doing literally nothing to get its hands on the accused perpetrator. If a majority of the public understood or even suspected as much, the prospects for pulling out of our flat spin into despotism would be pretty good.

Oh, one other thing: While execrating "conspiracy theorists," Goldberg, dutiful Statist drone that he is, directed all of his criticism at anti-government conspiracists. He offered not a syllable of criticism for the world's most influential proponents of deranged conspiracy theories, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney -- you know, the guys who were telling us about Saddam Hussein's huge and expanding arsenal of WMDs, his fleet of death-dealing unmanned aerial vehicles, the numerous and intimate connections between Saddam and Osama, and so forth. Nor did Goldberg spare a moment or two to slap down Bu'ushists who passionately testify that Saddam's immense arsenal was secretly spirited to Syria, or buried in secret sites that have been revealed through dreams and visions.

All of this is sober and responsible talk, rather than "seditious dementia," y'see, because it redounds to the benefit of the Warfare State.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Why Do Our Rulers Hate America?

If you're in a fight with a really nasty guy who's attacked you without provocation, and your antagonist lands a solid punch, what is your reaction (assuming that you're hurt without being incapacitated)?

Do you:
a) Let out a loud groan as the blow connects, falling to your knees while complaining piteously about the unfairness of it all;
b) Shake it off and try to put the scumbag down?

If the answer is “a,” you're either a professional wrestler trying to “sell” a phony punch or (what's much the same thing) William Shatner at his Virginia-cured, uninhibited best in a vintage Star Trek fight scene.

Or, to extend the principle just a bit, you're one of the people responsible for orchestrating yesterday's repulsive festival of collective self-pity.

If you're in a genuine fight for your life, the last thing you want to do is display vulnerability and weakness – which is exactly what our nation was told to do in memory of 9-11.

The official narrative of yesterday's 9/11+5 events runs like this:
We are a good and compassionate nation attacked without warning, provocation, or cause five years ago by people who irrationally hate us for our decency. That Enemy still seeks to destroy us and is stealthily acquiring the means to do so – and only by taking shelter in the heroic shadow of our Dear Leader, and making his will our law, can we be safe.

The whole two-day event was an American transliteration of similar rituals enacted in totalitarian states from Nazi Germany to Stalin's USSR to contemporary North Korea. It was vulgar and nauseating. And this exercise in choreographed collective lachrymosity illustrated – to me, at least – that we really don't confront an existential threat from a formidable foreign Enemy.

Assuming that we've been told any part of the truth about what happened five years ago today, and what is still going on today, there are legions of Evil-Doers lurking out at the tenebrous fringes of the Empire whose every waking moment is consumed with the desire to kill all of us they can in order to terrorize the rest.

Inflicting pain and terror on Americans, we are told, is the enemy's very meat and drink – the main course at every repast, and the desert after every meal.
Why, then, are our masters so determined to provide that enemy the satisfaction of seeing America indulge in protracted, ritualized grief, as opposed telling the public to put its game face on?

Some might see this as an illustration of the terminal Oprah-ification of America, which isn't a bad point, as far as it goes.

Others of more militaristic cast of mind would see in this saccharine spectacle proof positive of the liberal media's determination to weaken our resolve. That charge that would make sense were it not for the very visible efforts of the White House to orchestrate and exploit the observances.

This is not to say that the emotions so prominently displayed during the past two days are inauthentic, or unworthy. Thousands of families were deprived of loved ones, whole communities were torn apart, and our nation suffered a huge and lasting trauma on that terrible Tuesday morning.

But if our nation really were engaged in a death struggle with a devious and ruthless foreign adversary capable of destroying our way of life, today's grief-wallow would make no sense at all.

I do not mean denigrate those who lost loved ones on 9-11. I must confess, however, to be puzzled as to why the losses suffered on Black Tuesday are considered so much more painful than those – in terms of dead and wounded, as well as the mounting economic toll – inflicted on our nation by the Bush regime's demented war in Iraq.

More Americans have been killed and maimed as a result of the Iraq war than died on 9-11.

We're told that al-Qaeda is prepared to strike us again at the next opportunity, which may or may not be true. (Since this warning comes from the regime, I'm inclined toward skepticism.)

But we are told unambiguously that our Enemy in Washington fully intends to continue sending Americans abroad to kill and die in pointless wars, while continuing its campaign to build an American Reich.

Toward that end, the regime needs to propagate as much fear and pathos as possible, and is collaborating with our foreign “Enemy” to generate it. This is why rather than telling the public, “Butch it up!” our Rulers yesterday made it a pseudo-patriotic duty to revel in grief and helplessness.

Our Rulers need us to be scared. And they're the real Enemy. Nothing al-Qaeda or like-minded Jihadists could inflict on us – not “another 9-11,” not even a mass terrorist attack an order of magnitude greater than that event -- could possibly rival the damage to our institutions of ordered liberty being done by the power-crazed people infesting our executive branch.

“We already absorb a great deal of tragedy and unpleasantness and still manage to survive,” observes John Mueller of the Cato Institute in a detailed and thought-provoking assessment of the purported terrorist threat. “We live with a considerable quantity of crime, and the United States regularly loses 40,000 lives each year in automobile accidents. Moreover, countries have endured massive, sudden catastrophes without collapsing. In 1990 and then again in 2003, Iran suffered earthquakes that nearly instantly killed some 35,000 in each case. The tsunami that hit Indonesia and elsewhere in 2004 killed several times that many. But the countries have clearly survived these disasters: they constitute major tragedies, of course, but they hardly proved to be `existential' ones.”

“Thus the country can readily absorb considerable damage if necessary, and it has outlasted far more potent threats in the past,” Mueller concludes. “To suggest otherwise is to express contempt for America's capacity to deal with adversity.”

The contempt of which Mueller writes was prominently on display over the past two days.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

How To Handle Draft-Nappers -- A Fantasia

Draft-Nappers, n: A collective designation for people -- both private citizens and government parasites -- who advocate or seek to enforce the practice of child-theft, servitude, and murder called conscription.

“The United States military has a very big problem: Too many global conflicts and commitments - and too few soldiers,” began a recent Christian Science Monitor op-ed by academic Edward Bernard Glick.

“Yeah, go on,” I said, taking the safety off my Ballester-Molina .45 and putting it on the desk within easy reach.

(Oh, I should point out that as I read I was imagining a conversation with the retired Temple University Professor).

“That's why it's time to reinstate the draft,” he continued in a less confident voice, his eyes distending and lip beginning to quiver as, my face darkening in visible disgust, I heaved a weary sigh and reached slowly for the handgun. The good professor's reedy voice vaulted an octave in alarm as he tried to continue his pitch.

“A draft would do more than just harness the energy and idealism of the nation's youth to meet the military's unmet personnel needs,” he said, the words tripping over each other in a panicked rush to get out. “It would also tap more of the resources of the nation's women, heeding their demands for more gender equality by making their obligations more consonant with their rights --”

At this point, looking at our three-year-old daughter Katrina (who shows every sign of growing up to be an attractive version of Catherine Zeta-Jones) and our one-year-old daughter Sophia – who, in defiance of genetic expectations, has lissome blond hair, alabaster skin, and cerulean eyes – and imagining them being fed into the maw of the War Machine, I chambered a round and fixed the professor with a dispassionate stare.

A dark stain suddenly spreading across the front of his khaki pants, the professor stood up and fled, thus making it necessary for me to read the rest of his pitch in the Monitor.

“America must revisit the wisdom and morality of placing the responsibility for defending - and sometimes having to die for - this country only on volunteers,” Glick wrote from the safety of his office. “Consider the Israeli experience. Except for small minorities, Israelis feel that the responsibility for defending and dying for one's country is a duty that must be shared equally. They feel that military service should not be determined by demographics, by social circumstances, by the unemployment rate, or any other aspect of the nation's economy.”

“Well, bully for Israel,” I commented to the professor via cell phone, hearing him gasp and stammer on the other end, shocked and alarmed that I had tracked him down.
“If the Israelis want to put up with universal conscription, that's their sovereign right. But my children are Americans, not Israelis. I wish the Israelis no ill, but I hardly find their experience a persuasive argument for inflicting an un-Godly, unconstitutional form of Marxist servitude on my children or anyone else's.”

After fleeing to what he unreasonably believed to be a secure location, the professor resumed his proposal, which follows a now-familiar outline of a system in which all American youth at age 18 would be required to undergo a mandatory sentence of federal servitude:

“• All able-bodied and able-minded 18-year-old men and women should have their names placed in a lottery. Depending on how many soldiers are needed - typically just a few thousand each year - a modest percentage would be drafted.
• Then, the names of all those who didn't get drafted should be placed into a lottery for nonmilitary service in city or suburban slums, rural areas, native Americans reservations, or other poverty-stricken places.
• If the lottery puts draftees in a nonmilitary program - say, in healthcare - that requires more education and training than they possess, they could opt for getting that additional expertise in the civilian world. But then, the draftees would have to enter that nonmilitary program immediately after completing their studies.”

“Now, it is always possible that in any given year the number of young people eligible for both the military and nonmilitary lotteries may exceed the need for their services,” the professor elaborated, casting a nervous glance around to make sure he was alone. (He wasn't; I'd stalked him to his little redoubt.) “But whenever any young people miss involuntary service by the luck of the draw, they will have done so more fairly and honorably than was true during the days of the Vietnam War.”

“I have a better idea,” I said, emerging from the shadows that had enshrouded me, to the professor's visible and audible shock.

The .45 aimed squarely at his forehead, I continued. “Why don't we simply force the pack of criminals in Washington to abandon their idiotic interventionist foreign policy, and scale down the military establishment to a size appropriate to legitimate national defense? And why don't socialist Pencil-necks like you find another country to ruin? I hear Israel's nice this time of year – but on the other hand, don't go there,” I continued, pressing the barrel of my gun to his forehead, “since those poor people have already suffered enough.”

“Wh-why are you doing this to me?” gibbered the professor as an antipodal stain on the back of his slacks joined the one previously left in the front.

I warned you,” I said, grabbing the front of his shirt with my left hand and lifting him off the floor, “that if you threatened my children, I'd hurt you.”
Casting the gun aside, I dropped the professor to his feet.

“I only use a closed fist when I hit an actual man,” I said, bringing my open palm back to slap him. Recoiling from the anticipated blow, the professor tried to run, then tripped and face-planted into the side of his desk, knocking himself out, just as I had intended.

“Good,” I said, retrieving the gun I hadn't really intended to use. “You're exceptionally fortunate that I'm a Christian and therefore absolutely will not kill, except in self-defense or defense of my family,” I informed the prone and sleeping socialist, who was lying in a puddle of his own drool and feculence. “The same is true of my kids – that is, the children God gave me to protect, educate, and raise. They don't belong to you, or to the abstraction you call `society,' or to the monstrous criminal entity that calls itself our government. Like millions of others, they serve people every day, without government intrusion.”

Turning to walk away, I muttered to myself:

“Now I need to have a few words with Jack Murtha.”

(Apologies to Richard Daughty, aka The Mogambo Guru, for stealing his schtick and doing it poorly.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Want to Fly? Then Don't be Caught Praying

A few weeks ago, a young Canadian doctor named Ahmed Farooq was removed from a plane in Denver during a return trip from San Francisco to Winnipeg.

A drunken lout, his head doubtless swimming with things he had “learned” from the likes of Bill O'Reilly, had become suspicious of Farooq during the first leg of the flight: He was a swarthy man in his mid-20s, after all, and traveling in the company of two men of similar age and complexion, neither of whom, apparently, was a Muslim -- not that such trivial distinctions matter to citizen-heroes well-lubricated with liquid courage.

Prior to taking off from Denver, Farooq – who had been sitting in the aisle seat – asked to change places with his friend, in order to have a modicum of privacy for his evening prayers. Shortly thereafter the intrepid booze-hound reported to a flight attendant that he had heard Farooq's friend say something to the effect that the switch made it possible for him to “command the aisle.” Somehow several other passengers caught wind of that report, and – primed for panic by the regime's propaganda apparatus – they threatened to seize control of the still-idle aircraft unless Farooq and his suspiciously dusky friends were removed.

Unless I'm gravely mistaken, threatening to seize control of an aircraft is a serious criminal offense. Yet the flight crew yielded to the demand and proceeded to Winnipeg without them Farooq and his friends. After being detained for questioning, they stayed overnight in Denver and caught a flight the next day – at their own expense.
Praying on an airplane is apparently considered a violation of security protocols. And this doesn't apply only to Muslims.

Yesterday, an Hasidic Jew was removed from an Air Canada flight to Montreal after the flight crew received “several complaints” about his davening during evening prayers.
"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," recalled passenger Yves Faguy. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book. He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth.”

Although Faguy said that nobody seemed to be bothered by the Jewish fellow's actions, a flight attendant approached him to warn that his praying was making several other passengers uncomfortable. “The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.

While the flight crew was properly apologetic and embarrassed, it had to act in the interest of “the majority of passengers," said airline spokeswoman Manon Stewart.

Behold democracy at work!

B'nai B'rith Canada, predictably enough, lambasted the airline for its "insensitivity," and offered -- perhaps "threatened" would be the correct word -- to provide "sensitivity training" for flight crews. But the problem isn't insufficient sensitivity; it's excessive sensitivity, or, in a word, paranoia.

And this is entirely understandable, given the tireless efforts of the Bush regime, its satellites, and its media auxiliaries to induce a state of perpetual alarm on the part of the public, particularly those sentenced to fly on jetliners that increasingly resemble airborne prisons.

Rebuking Farooq for complaining about his treatment, Aaron Hanscom of (a cyber-journal published by neo-Trotskyite self-promoter David Horowitz)declares that "an important fact escapes Farooq: In the midst of a war against Islamic fascists, you do have to watch what you say and do." The real problem here, he continues, the government is reluctant to make adequate use of ethnic profiling and invasive search procedures. "If only the government would cease pandering to hyper-sensitive Muslims and their enablers long enough to use" those tactics, Hanscom sighs.

But as the experience of the hapless Orthodox Jew on yesterday's Air Canada flight illustrate, it's not just Muslim pressure groups who display hyper-sensitivity. The "watch what you say and do" net tends to gather of every kind -- including innocent Muslim doctors and equally innocent Orthodox Jews who, in an understandable display of earnest faith, pray to God (as they have been taught to understand Him) before beginning a flight.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The (Murder-)Suicide of the West

Last July, while Israel was reducing much of Lebanon's infrastructure to rubble and bombing Christian neighborhoods into blood puddling during its most recent invasion, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz – the unsightly spawn of Trotskyite loins – opined that Israel's problem was that it is simply “Too Nice to Win.”

Too many in the “liberal” West, insisted Podhoretz (an obese, soft-handed child of privilege whose ever-broadening brow has never known the sweat of honest labor) have succumbed to the “universalist idea” that “all people are created equal,” and thus believe that “a war against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with that country's leaders....”

Poddy thus anticipated Alan Dershowitz's axiom that once a country has been targeted by Israel, its entire population should be considered fair game. Like Dershowitz the Dehumanizer, Poddy was willing to apply the same principle to populations targeted by Washington in wars of “liberation”: To resist Washington's humanitarian aggression is to mark one's self as a terrorist worthy of summary liquidation.

“What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything?” muses Podhortez, a talentless, gelatinous mass of arrogance who, but for the fortunate circumstances surrounding his birth, would be selling knishes from a push-cart rather than prescribing genocidal policies in the Post's op-ed section. “Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?”

Americans, laments Podhoretz – the type of sheltered, insular pseudo-intellectual who looks westward from Lower Manhattan with fear and loathing – are simply too nice to commit mass murder on the scale necessary to win “World War IV.” And if America can't kill so promiscuously and pitilessly, “can Israel? Could Israel – even hardy, strong, universally conscripted Israel – possibly stomach the bloodshed that would accompany the total destruction of Hezbollah?”

The problem is that America and its allies have scruples about perpetrating wholesale slaughter.

This wasn't always the case, Podhoretz wistfully reflects.

“Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki?” Podhoretz asks rhetorically. “Didn't the willingness of their leaders to inflict mass casualties on civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break the will and the back of their enemies? Didn't that singleness of purpose extend down to the populations in those countries in those days, who would have and did support almost any action at any time that would lead to the deaths of Germans and Japanese?”

Podhoretz is utterly typical of the personality type dominating Bush-era, FOX-ified “conservatism”: He's either performing cadenzas of alarm over “Islamo-Fascism,” or haranguing the public about the supposed necessity of submitting to a variety of Fascism more to their liking. He and his ilk insist that Americans must set aside whatever freedoms and moral scruples the State regards as dispensable, in order to display the “singleness of purpose” necessary to exterminate all who resist the Glorious Global Democratic Revolution.

Oh, and any nation seen as a possible threat to Israel and impediment to its regional ambitions.

As lucky hap would have it, those two groups are, for all purposes, essentially identical.

Podhoretz is too timid to call candidly for the nuclear annihilation of the Revolution's enemies. Michael Coren, a neo-Trotskyite slogan-spewer in Canada, is less inhibited. If “we are to preserve world peace,” fulminates Coren in the pages of the Toronto Sun, the only safe alternative is nuclear war.

“Put boldly and simply, we have to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran,” Coren insists. “Not, of course,, the unleashing of full-scale thermo-nuclear war on the Persian people, but a limited and tactical use of nuclear weapons to destroy Iran's military facilities and its potential nuclear arsenal. It is, sadly, the only response that this repugnant and acutely dangerous political entity will understand.”

This is because “Diplomacy, kindness, and compromise have all failed and the Iranian leadership is still obsessed with all-out war against anybody it considers an enemy. Its motives are beyond question, its capability equally so.... Comparisons to the Nazis in the 1930s are unfair – to the Nazis. Hitler had the French army, the largest in Europe, on his border and millions of Soviet infantry just a few hours march away. Iran has no aggressive enemies in the region.”

The foregoing may be the only example I have found of a neo- “conservative” (the appropriate designation, as used above, is “neo-Trotskyite”) referring, however allusively, to French martial prowess, and it comes as part of an exercise in rhetorical card-stacking intended to make the evil but largely inconsequential regime in Iran appear to be a world-historic menace.

The assertion that Iran has “no aggressive enemies in the region” makes sense only if one assumes that Israel, which has both a nuclear arsenal and a willingness to employ it, can never be accused of aggressive behavior, no matter how many of its neighbors it invades or how often those invasions occur. Coren's assertion implies much the same about the United States, which has 140,000 troops in Iraq and clear designs on military action against Syria and Iran.

By way of contrast, Iran – which is ruled, once again, by one of the most loathsome governments on the face of a globe disfigured by dozens of loathsome regimes -- doesn't occupy so much as a meter of territory outside its borders. It is making unremarkable progress in the direction of acquiring a single nuclear weapon.
Tehran does fund and materially support Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, but the claim that it is the world's leading paymaster of terrorism is risible in light of the hundreds of billions of dollars doled out by Washington – much of it used to underwrite the acquisition of terrifying weapons and police-state hardware – to Israel, Egypt, and other governments in the region. And the Pentagon's budget alone is something on the order of twenty times the size of Iran's entire Gross Domestic Product.

Nonetheless, concludes Coren – who fancies himself a Roman Catholic historian of some sort -- a nuclear strike on Iran is a moral imperative: “Better limited pain now than universal suffering in five years. The usual suspects will complain. The post-Christian churches, the Marxists, the fellow travelers and fifth columnists. But then, the same sort of people moaned and condemned in 1938.”

Actually, the apposite historical parallel is to 1945, when American Christians and Patriots condemned the gratuitous atomic bombing of Imperial Japan by the FDR/Truman regime – the most conspicuous act of state terrorism in recorded history. This act of barbarism was condemned by General MacArthur (not noted for being a “fifth columnist” or pantywaist of any sort) and conservative statesmen such as the estimable Ambassador J. Reuben Clark.

“It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan,” concluded Admiral William Leahy (an aide to General MacArthur) in a 1950 memoir. The Japanese were already beaten and ready to surrender.... It was my reaction that the scientists and others wanted to make the test because of the vast sums that had been spent on the project .... My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”

James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy during WWII, “had originated a plan to end the war with Japan five and a half months” prior to V-J Day on August 14, 1945, records Cornell Simpson in his book The Death of James Forrestal. Had that plan been implemented, the bombs would not have been dropped, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared, and the Soviets would have been kept out of the Pacific War.
“The last point, of course, is why the fellow travellers hurriedly persuaded FDR to reject Forrestal's plan, and why they saw to it that the American people heard nothing about this chance to save untold numbers of American lives,” concluded Simpson, “In May, another move to end the Pacific war was similarly scuttled. The very same month that Germany surrendered, Truman approved a peace ultimatum to Japan, subject to endorsement by the military. But on May 29, General Marshall rejected it as `premature.'”

In what sense would ending the war in May 1945 have been “premature,” when the Japanese leadership had been sending out peace feelers for nearly a year – following the unimaginable horrors of the Battle of Saipan?

In January 1945, the Japanese had quietly provided MacArthur with surrender terms that were, for all practical purposes, identical to those accepted after the terror bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Had those terms “been accepted when first offered, there would have been no heavy loss of life on Iwo Jima (over 26,033 Americans killed or wounded, approximately 21,000 Japanese killed) and Okinawa (over 39,000 U.S. dead and wounded, 109,000 Japanese dead), no fire bombing of Japanese cities by B-29 bombers (it is estimated that the dropping of 1,700 tons of incendiary explosives on Japanese cities during March 9th-10th alone killed over 80,000 civilians and destroyed 260,000 buildings), and no use of the atomic bomb,” writes my friend and colleague John F. McManus.
Tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Japanese (most of the latter civilians) were killed during the six months tacked on to the Pacific War by the Soviet-aligned clique running FDR's White House. These people were killed to prolong the war until the atom bomb was ready to make its debut.

Hundreds of thousands were killed, in other words, so that the State could have an opportunity to kill hundreds of thousands more.

Once the myth of military necessity is disposed of, it becomes clear that the atomic bombing of Japan was unalloyed state terrorism. This is particularly true of the attack on Nagasaki, the site of a monument to 26 Christian martyrs crucified by a 16th century Shogun.

In fractions of a second, the Pagan regime ruling the WWII-era United States incinerated scores of thousands of people, among them most of Japan's embattled Christian population.

In that act – as well as the needless slaughter of tens of thousands of American Christians on Pacific battlefields prior to the bombing -- can be seen a suitable symbolic expression of the true priorities of the “neo-Conservatives.” When forced to choose between preserving the lives of Christians – or, for that matter, innocent people of any variety – and building the power of the State through total war, the neo-cons will choose the latter every time.

More importantly, although they are indifferent regarding the physical survival of Christians, neo-Trots are actively hostile to the preservation of Christian principles (among them the Just War doctrine) that make our society worth preserving. Horrible as it would be to live under Sharia Law, the kind of society the neo-Trots are building would be even worse – assuming, of course, that their deranged drive for total power doesn't prove to be a case of murder-suicide on a global scale.