Iran is Helpful

March 31, 2009 at 9:51 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

See.

So why exactly do we need to go killing them?

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Torture Does Not Work

March 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Gee, imagine that.

When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.

The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.

NOT A SINGLE SIGNIFICANT PLOT WAS FOILED AS A RESULT OF ABU ZUBAIDA’S TORTURED CONFESSIONS!

Let me repeat that again

NOT A SINGLE SIGNIFICANT PLOT WAS FOILED AS A RESULT OF ABU ZUBAIDA’S TORTURED CONFESSIONS!

and again

NOT A SINGLE SIGNIFICANT PLOT WAS FOILED AS A RESULT OF ABU ZUBAIDA’S TORTURED CONFESSIONS!

and again

NOT A SINGLE SIGNIFICANT PLOT WAS FOILED AS A RESULT OF ABU ZUBAIDA’S TORTURED CONFESSIONS!

once more, with feeling

NOT A SINGLE SIGNIFICANT PLOT WAS FOILED AS A RESULT OF ABU ZUBAIDA’S TORTURED CONFESSIONS!

Because torture does NOT work. It is meant to extract FALSE CONFESSIONS! Meanwhile, we have caused detrimental harm to our cause, and our supposed stand for what is right.

Glenn Beck is an Insane Loony

March 25, 2009 at 1:42 pm | Posted in American politics | 19 Comments

And sadly, this is just the beginning. Mr. Beck is just warming up. He’s only just begun. Rush Limbaugh is getting old and decrepit. Mr. Beck yearns to be the new voice of the hardcore nasty right. Mr. Beck knows one thing that Rush Limbaugh never understood. Limbaugh never attempted to mobilize people to action. Beck does. This kind of call to action usually says that the person calling others to action isn’t really insane, but that’s not the case with Glenn Beck. See, he actually believes this crap. Even though the pieces don’t actually fit together. He’ll rile up the fearmongering and scare America into submission. The Red Scare has nothing on what Glenn Beck has started to unleash. You guys just watch. It will only get worse.

Pray his bishop intervenes at some point to stanch the bleeding.

Fox News Insults Canadian Military

March 24, 2009 at 8:40 am | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

This is Fox News today. This is American conservatism today. They insult a friend who bleeds on the battlefield FOR US! Remember, Canadians have sacrificed 116 of their own for us in Afghanistan. That is the MOST of any of our friends who have agreed to go with us to Afghanistan. It is reprehensible the wretched level of gutless filth that spews out of Fox News.

Where are the principled conservatives of today? Where are you guys? Why don’t you take a stand against Fox News and demand better standards. Don’t you guys realize they are ruining the idea of “conservatism?” They are destroying conservatism.

I don’t expect that will ever happen. Fox News represents conservatism today, loud and clear. There are few if any principled conservatives left in this country, which is utterly sad.

It’s Not Looking Good For Israel

March 23, 2009 at 11:58 am | Posted in American politics | 1 Comment

A fairly damning report from The Guardian.

Israel needs to ask itself, why exactly did they launch the three week destruction of Gaza? Americans need to ask themselves the same question, because Israel uses OUR money and OUR weapons to wage such war. What was the purpose of those three weeks of death? Hamas is still around. Their captured soldier (from 2006) is still captured. Rockets are still launched into Israel from Gaza. Why exactly did Israel need to go in and kill 1400 people in Gaza? Because it sure as hell seems to me that they gained very little and lost very much by waging that war.

I don’t think Israel has been at a lower point in their short time as a separate country than they are right now. And we’ve really not been very good friends to them.

Iran Should Tread With Caution

March 21, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Dismissing Obama’s friendly overtures is not a good idea. Obama is positioning himself to have the upper moral hand. By being nice and open to the Iranians, he can then go back to the American people and say, “I tried.” If the time comes for military action, most Americans will not be against the action because Obama actually did try to be nice first. And maybe Iran knows this, that most Americans will eventually want war with them, so they’re not going to play around at all. But if there is an opening for dialogue and peace, I would take a few steps in that direction and see what bridge is being built. Iran’s leaders can also do the same as Obama and go to the Iranians and say, “I tried, too, but America just wants war.”

It pays to take actionable diplomatic steps with few negative consequences.

Why We Are Angry At AIG

March 20, 2009 at 7:04 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

These executives from AIG don’t understand. We’re not angry over bonuses, even if the word isn’t properly used (they really don’t get that money as part of a compensation for excellent work—it’s just extra pay that they decided to call “bonus”). We’re angry that AIG borrowed $30 for every $1 they could actually insure and somehow believe that was safe practice for a business that truly is “too big to fail.” The irresponsibility! I’d love to see this company actually go down, as well as many others do, but we cannot allow that. If AIG went down, the whole economy would collapse mightily. I wanted to see Lehman Brothers collapse. They deserved it, for their recklessness and irresponsibility. However, their collapse precipitated the meltdown we saw from October through January (and on still). If the government had not intervened with TARP, it would certainly have been much much worse. AIG is five times BIGGER than Lehman Brothers. And to put in perspective, Lehman Brothers had more assets than the country of Argentina! AIG is about five or six times BIGGER than the country of Argentina. It cannot be allowed to collapse.

So the anger comes from the fact that these executives at AIG ordered such irresponsible actions, then set themselves up to get millions for running their company into the ground, who then come begging to the taxpayers to save their corporation, which we reluctantly do. These executives would never do the same for someone making $50,000 a year. I would fire every single one of those who agreed to the irresponsible actions that led to AIG’s downfall. I know Liddy, the CEO of AIG doesn’t think that’s a good idea. He thinks, in a Randian snobbish sense that only the current corrupt crop can actually handle AIG, as if these executives are John Galt in the flesh who, if they are out of their jobs, would cause AIG to collapse. The idiocy! It is THESE VERY EXECUTIVES who CAUSED AIG to collapse! They really should be fired!

Six Years In Iraq… So Far

March 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

And another two years more (at least). What a fucking waste.

Israeli Soldiers Need to Stop Killing Civilians

March 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

or they will never ever gain the respect and recognition they so badly want from the rest of the world.

Glenn Beck is Certifiably Insane

March 19, 2009 at 7:20 am | Posted in American politics | 4 Comments

That’s all I have to say about that.

Torture, a Blight Upon America

March 14, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

This is a must read.

This is not what America stands for. This is not justice. This is not righteous. This is what our enemies do. This is what evil people do. Mr. Danner abbreviated his piece for the New York Times, and he makes some very valid points for us to consider. Writing about the men we tortured,

From everything we know, many or all of these men deserve to be tried and punished — to be “brought to justice,” as President Bush vowed they would be. The fact that judges, military or civilian, throw out cases of prisoners who have been tortured — and have already done so at Guantánamo — means it is highly unlikely that they will be brought to justice anytime soon.

For the men who have committed great crimes, this seems to mark perhaps the most important and consequential sense in which “torture doesn’t work.” The use of torture deprives the society whose laws have been so egregiously violated of the possibility of rendering justice. Torture destroys justice. Torture in effect relinquishes this sacred right in exchange for speculative benefits whose value is, at the least, much disputed.

The use of torture by a democracy that believes in justice and the rule of law tears down that justice and rule of law. We become a brutal, violent people. We become the enemy of what we stand for.

And why do we do it? What value is there in doing what we did to these men when the cost is so high? Compare what George Bush ordered with another George ordered, one George Washington.

First among these may well be the tradition of humane warfare, articulated by George Washington after the Battle of Trenton, December 24, 1776. “Treat them with humanity,” Washington directed with respect to the captured Hessians. He forbade physical abuse and directed the detainees be quartered with the German-speaking residents of Eastern Pennsylvania, in the expectation that they would become “so fraught with a love of liberty, and property too, that they may create a disgust to the service among the rest of the foreign troops, and widen the breach which is already opened between them and the British.” (Things unfolded exactly as Washington envisioned). Washington also set the rule that detainees be given the same housing, food and medical treatment as his own soldiers. And he was particularly concerned about freedom of conscience and respect for the religious values of those taken prisoner. “While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of hearts of men, and to Him only in this case are they answerable.”

When we contend for our liberty, we must not violate the rights of others, lest we undermine our contention for liberty.

What we have done under George W. Bush and approved of by millions of Americans is a grievous sin. It is wrong. It undermines our fight. It creates more enemies. It puts our soldiers in further danger. Anyone who advocates for the use of torture (name it whatever the hell you want – “enhanced interrogation techniques” – nomenclature matters not at the real judgment day) undermines and sabotages the mission of the United States of America. They increase the risk of further violence upon Americans, both civilian and soldiers. They degrade the morals and principles our country supposedly fights for. These people ought to be shunned and booed from public life.

Inglorious Basterds, Warfare and Terrorism

March 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Take a look at the trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, Inglorious Basterds.

Note what Brad Pitt’s character says that his unit (apparently a part of the American military) will be doing. They will be dropping into France in civilian clothing and exerting violence upon anyone wearing a Nazi uniform. The kind of violence they will inflict is quite vicious, including supposedly scalping. And I’m quite sure Mr. Tarantino will do all in his power to show us his creative violence, the edgiest possible under an R rating (which is surely far beyond what would have been permissible years ago as R rated).

We’re a people fascinated with World War II, more so with the European front than with the Pacific. Many an American likes to revisit the war and essentially state what they would have done if they were, say, Neville Chamberlain, etc. For example, what could eight Americans have done dropped into France in civilian clothing with weapons and fury at Nazism. Surely those eight Americans would have given the Germans a run for their money (because of course the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who did eventually make it to France needed a few more to sow chaos within Occupied France).

I’m not trying to discount Quentin Tarantino, nor his creative work (as I’m sure this film will be quite sensational and cinematic). I want to get to the point made by Brad Pitt’s character in the trailer. The point of these eight soldiers is to go to France and kill as many Nazis as possible, in essentially the most cruel way, and to do so in civilian garb. Noting in my head how most Americans think today of certain Arabs who do exactly that to our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have to ponder the contradiction. We’re furious as hell when our enemy doesn’t play by the rules but we’re fine with entertainment where the “good” guys do just that to our former enemies. Hell, Inglorious Basterds is not the first film that glorifies the “freedom fighter,” the one who belongs to a rag tag group, civilians by nature, not in any military uniform. I think back to “V” the miniseries from the early 80s that glorified just such people. In fact, the heroes of that miniseries employed numerous tactics used quite regularly by insurgent groups all over the world. Sabotage. Bombs. Raids. Anything to undermine the rule of the group you despise.

The point is that we like to have our cake and eat it too. We think it is okay for our side to fight any which way it can to survive but don’t think it is right for the other side to do the same. And I guess it is okay to have such a stance when survival is at stake, because you’ve gotta employ every tool in your arsenal, including propaganda, to win. But then we would have to stop claiming any right to calling ourselves a civilized society. We think it is perfectly okay to create a weapon that rips human flesh apart rather indiscriminately. We think it is okay to create these weapons launched from far away so that we don’t see with our own eyes the terrible destruction those weapons actually wreak upon those who were targeted. If we were to actually see that, we might start feeling something in our hearts telling us that there is something wrong here. When survival is at stake, you can’t have a soft heart, now can you. It must be hardened. Or at least it must not be allowed to see the destruction of your “enemies.”

In church on Sundays, I hear quite often the talk about how short our time is here on earth, and, in the grand scheme of things, how petty are the differences we have between each other. In the grand scheme of things, if we are righteous individuals, even righteous people, we have a promise from God that he will side with us. I bet that even means he will side with us against our brethren on this planet who are against us in one fashion or another.

My point is that we don’t need to employ such violence to survive. Not the violence glorified in Inglorious Basterds. Not the violence employed by our soldiers right now around the world. Hell, I posit that the methods we use right now are backfiring against us, creating more anger and fury at us than we deserve.

But I think I speak in vain. The current policies will inevitably and inexorably lead to the whole world being at war. Few think it is possible to actually live in a world in which their enemy lives. That includes Americans who think Iran shouldn’t exist. That includes Iranians who think Israelis shouldn’t exist. That includes Israelis who think Gazans shouldn’t exist. Go on down the list. How many people on this world can live in this world with the knowledge that their enemies still live? Even still plotting against them? Can we accept that? That’s what we will have to accept if we wish to live in peace. That’s the only way to get peace. You may not reconcile with your enemy, but you don’t have to kill him to live in peace in this world.

Ayn Rand Followers Don’t Even Know What “Going Galt” Actually Means!

March 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Posted in American politics | 32 Comments

As hilzoy notes over at Obsidian Wings, right wingers who are currently claiming they are “going Galt” in reference to John Galt of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, don’t even understand what it means to “go Galt.” It isn’t a matter of lowering one’s efforts to ensure not getting taxed more. It isn’t laying off your employees either as a commenter suggested in a previous post of mine. Hilzoy:

That’s not what Rand meant by Going Galt at all. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt decides to withdraw his creative and productive efforts from society. He is going on strike, and he convinces other creative, productive people to follow him.

THAT’S going Galt. You up and leave. You go on strike. You do it to spite those who are, in your opinion, enslaving you and raping your talents. For those on the right to “go Galt,” they would have to step away from their creative work and not let the world around them benefit from that creative work. This is why I really do look forward to the day when conservatives actually DO go Galt. Please, all you Rand followers out there. Please Go Galt! Do us the favor. Go find Gault’s Gulch in Colorado and just stay there, shut your mouths and do your creative work just between yourselves and spare the rest of the world your “creativity.” Hilzoy:

John Galt did not need to go on the air to make his point. He made his case in private, to creative and productive people like himself. They went on strike, and as a result the world was plunged into crisis.

That’s not a minor point. It’s essential to Rand’s entire view. Here’s why Galt says that he decided to withdraw:

“Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality — and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that evil was impotent-that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real — and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it. Just as the parasites around me were proclaiming their helpless dependence on my mind and were expecting me voluntarily to accept a slavery they had no power to enforce, just as they were counting on my self-immolation to provide them with the means of their plan — so throughout the world and throughout men’s history, in every version and form, from the extortions of loafing relatives to the atrocities of collective countries, it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers, who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and for their own values — the impotence of death. I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win — and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was ‘No.'”

By withdrawing, Galt was, essentially, testing this view. If he was right to think that an inverted morality could triumph only with his sanction, and that the parasites around him were helplessly dependent on his mind, and could survive only with the aid of his self-immolation, then once he and others like him withdrew, that fact would become clear. If not, not.

Hilzoy notes why, most likely, right wingers won’t actually go Galt, no matter how they try to convince others to do so:

As I said above, the three most obvious answers are: (1) they do not believe that anything they do is in fact creative or productive, or (2) they are urging other people to do something they don’t have the guts to do themselves, like scam artists who convince people to invest their money in schemes they themselves steer clear of, or (3) they have not bothered to think about what they are saying, even to the limited extent required to see that there’s a conflict between their words and their actions.

I lean on number two. They are not principled, or they would actually have the courage to follow Galt to his cave no matter how foolish they may look to the rest of the world. Ironically that’s one of the characteristics of Rand’s protagonists. They don’t flinch when the rest of the world mocks them. They stand on their principles regardless the price. Are today’s Rand followers truly willing to do the same as their supposed heroes? Will they stand on their principles regardless the price? Will they withdraw their creative work from the benefit of the world no matter the cost? Of course not!

See, Rand supporters are far more realistic than Rand’s ideology was or is. They understand that a scenario like the one played out in Atlas Shrugged is completely unrealistic. They know that it is impossible to withdraw the creative talents of this world all at the same time to inflict the proper pain on the rest of the world to beg them to come out of retirement. There are simply too many people, too many talents who don’t believe in Rand’s ideology who will very simply take the place of those who went on strike. Rand’s followers know this, which is why they will never actually withdraw their talents from productivity. Furthermore, this is a matter of propaganda (ironic for anti-Soviet Rand followers). These guys pushing for “going Galt” will never actually withdraw themselves because of another reason. They want to CONTROL the information; they wish to remain the speakers, the Voice of the Right. If they withdrew, that would simply leave an opening for some other fanatical group to become the influencing voice among the rabid followers. They wish to take a stand on a principle which will actually require them to silence their mouths if they really actually followed the principle as proscribed. This they cannot do.

hence why they are easily mocked, easily ridiculed, easily called stupid.

Abolish Daylight Savings Time

March 8, 2009 at 7:00 am | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

Please. Pretty please. We’re not an agrarian society anymore. Let’s just live our lives with the oscillation of the earth and deal with it still dark as we drive to work in the winter time.

Going Galt – Taking Ayn Rand’s Premise to Reality

March 7, 2009 at 6:09 am | Posted in American politics | 56 Comments

Oh, if only they would actually “Go Galt.” Could we just beg them? How about if we paid them to go on strike. Maybe they would then.

See, Ayn Rand was silly enough to think that if the “titans” of the world were to go on strike the lowly workers would grovel to have them back. Ha! Silly, silly woman. There are plenty of people out there to take their place. In fact, they might even do a better job than the current bunch have done, frankly. Hilzoy (who I link), notes that none of those who recommend that the wealthy “go Galt” have actually done so. Who is willing to take that first step? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

PS: Just gotta add this in

Click on the image for the larger version.

Go On, Keep Killing Afghans

March 2, 2009 at 12:02 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

that will work out real well for you. Com’on Petraeus, you wrote the freaking manual on this. Stop killing the Afghans!

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