Tuesday, May 18, 2010

North Koreans to be blamed for sinking South Korean warship

This bears watching. If it turns out to be from a NK sub, this will be just the third sinking of a warship by a submarine since World War II. The others were an Indian frigate in 1971 and an Argentine cruiser in 1982.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The only thing wrong was that more of them weren't shot

"The only thing that went wrong ... is that so many of the weren't shot"

A quote by a British loyalist about the Boston Massacre? No, not quite. Actually a partial quote by an American commenter on this site.

The full quote:
"The only thing that went wrong at Kent is that so many of them WEREN'T shot. "

Yep, the only thing wrong is that more U.S. citizens exersing their First Amendment rights were not shot. Oh, and I suppose that extended to the bystanders such as ROTC student William Schoeder who was walking to class. It's a pity more people like him were not shot too, according to these people. Or so they say.

There's an amazing number of people who will hold these two thoughts in their minds at the same time: The government will have to pry my weapons from my cold dead hand AND it's OK for the government to shoot down unarmed protesters because they were DFH and deserved it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Racial profiling

A Native American professor recounts an unpleasant encounter with a police officer while driving.


Monday, March 22, 2010

A simple and powerful reminder of what war costs

If you have a moment and some tissues nearby, check this out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Great War of Yankee Aggression

"The Great War of Yankee Aggression."

How, exactly, is someone supposed to interpret this. The congressmen let slip a slight smirk, so perhaps he was making a joke -- but it really makes you wonder what sort of philosophy is behind this.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ballon Juice makes this excellent point while discussing the controversy over a French TV show where ordinary people are induced to torture people to death. Some foolish people on Fox News and elsewhere are apparently under the impression that Americans would never do such a thing (despite ample evidence to the contrary).

It's pointed out that American story-telling in movies and TV likes to reduce everything to simple good vs evil story lines.

"The problem is that this attitude of good-self versus bad-other is not just a great opiate for those nagging feelings of doubt, it’s also an essential prerequisite for acts of incredible evil."

This is, of course, the point of the argument against torture, at the end of the day. We shouldn't torture people not merely because of what it does to them, but ultimately what it will do to us.

A similar dynamic was at work with slavery. Many contemporary and subsequent observers were of the opinion that slavery, while obviously detrimental to the slaves, was also detrimental to the slave owner over the long term. Indeed, I think one could make an argument that the persistent, nearly intractable social and economic laggardness of most of the Old South is a legacy of the "peculair institution."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The McCain-Lieberman Constitution Annulment Act of 2010

This would be a far more accurate title for this thing.

Nazis, Imperial Japanese, Khmer Rouge and US

Salon summarizes the disturbing details of CIA torture.

If you can stand it, read the whole thing, but how this treatment doesn't eventually result in war crimes prosecutions for someone is hard to see.

If no one is ever held accountable for this torture program then Nuremburg will be proven to have been nothing more than victor's justice and that our claims to the contrary were a lie.

Also under threat are the ethics of entire professions. Medical, mental health and legal professionals took part in all of this and their ethical failures here were monumental.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Palin in 2012!

A great comment from commenter Blackton on Chait's column on the Health Care Debate:

"I don't mean to be too glum." Glum? Hell, you would make Gandhi suicidal. Democrats are one vote away from the most meaningful reform in most of my lifetime, the only thing greater being the Civil rights acts in the 60's. One vote. If the Democrats can't hold together for one lousy vote, then screw it all. Americans can frankly f themselves. They will deserve their misery. I say vote for Palin in 2012, we are all supposed to die that year anyway, might as well guarantee it."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The damage they did was a lot deeper than two towers and sveral thousand lives

As time goes on, it appears that the terror war hawks may be right, the War on Terror does represent an existential threat to America in away that the Nazis or Communists never did -- although not in the way that the terror war hawks may mean.

As this recent discussion before the Supreme Court illustrates, certain basic liberties are under assault -- even from those we might hope would know better. Obama administartion lawyers argued that the government could criminalize filing "friend of the court briefs" in support of an oragnization that the government has deemed "terrorist. Even those with dim imaginations should have little trouble imaging the likely consequences of this sort of power.

Bin Laden's attack on New York on 9/11 was a stunning success from his point of view -- and not merely because of the immediate damage and loss of life. No, the real fruits of his strategy ripened later courtesy of our own reactions to his attack. The economic damage alone of our security measures and wars dwarfs the damage done to New York. And even more important over the long term, we did grievous damage to our liberty and our moral authority with torture, our detention policy, the PATRIOT (sic) Act, warrantless wiretapping and the eorion of principl and rule of law needed to enact and implement all of that.

Osama Bin Laden and AlQaeda have done more real, lasting damage to us than Hitler and Tojo did.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The OPR report

The OPR report on the 'Torture memos" is remarkably disheartening and hopeful at the same time.

It's fate is disheartening because its quashing by Margolis is one more example of shielding the big fish while small fry get served up for dinner. It really is a scandal that the likes of Lynndie England are prosecuted while senior officials get a pass.

I agree that the CIA operatives who may have tortured or abused someone in custody based on the shoddy legal framework provided should not be prosecuted -- so long as the high muckety-mucks that authorized it are held accountable. Of course, that is not happening nor does it seem to be in prospect. Instead there's mumblings about holding people responsible who may have "exceeded" the guidelines, which sounds a lot like deciding to scapegoat some small fry again.

It's a hopeful development in another sense, because it's one more brick in what will obviously be a very long process of bringing people to justice. No one should forget that there is no statute of limitations on war crimes. Many years, even decades later crimes committed by the Nazis, by the Khmer Rouge, by South American death squads have been successfully prosecuted. Dick Cheney's ticker may give out before he faces a serious consequence but Yoo is a young man and will have to spend many more years looking over his shoulder. It's already dangerous for him to travel outside the U.S.

Speaking of Dick Cheney, his recent mild heart attack has prompted some comment about karma but I, for one, hope he sticks around for a long time. Should he die soon there is no doubt in my mind that there will be a rush, a freaking deluge, of people blaming him for what happened. The only defender he'll have left will be his daughter, but every partner in crime will suddenly coke clean about how "Dick made me do it."

Cheney, in my view, certainly does bear a lot of culpability, but he was just one man and he had plenty of help in dishonoring America. It would be a shame for those fellow criminals to get away with their crimes by burying their sins in Cheney's grave.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thinly veiled racism at the Drudge Report

Matt Drudge rarely passes up an opportunity to smear Muslims. On his site he trumpets that Five Muslim soldiers were "arrested" on allegations they Poisoned fellow soldiers at Ft. Jackson. Yet even the story he links to does not actually say anyone was arrested and other reporting says that nothing was substantiated. So much for "presumption of innocence."

It's this mindset that led to so much abuse during the Bush administration. It's the mindset that turns accused or even merely suspected detainees into "Terrorists" who can and should be tortured because they might know something. It's the mindset that leads to profiling that gets any Muslim or anyone some ignorant fool thinks may be Muslim (like a Sikh) targeted. Meanwhile we're somehow supposed to win the hearts and minds of Muslims while treating them as enemies without distinction.

Meanwhile, hours after contrary reports emerge that don't fit his narrative, Drudge leaves up his accusatory headline. A quick Google search shows it's already going viral on various right-wing blogs and sites even though it's already been debunked. As is so often the case, the truth will have a hard time ever catching up to the lie, which is the insidious thing about the way Drudge operates whenever he's dealing with one of his favorite themes (climate change, Sarah Palin, Obama approval ratings, corrupt Democrats, among others).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No torture and he talks

Excellent summary of the facts at Obsidian Wings but the bottom line is that reading the terror suspect his rights, treating him humanely and observing due process not only upholds our honor but actually results in more intelligence than harsh "Jack Bauer" style acts.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Quote if the day

Quote of the day on listening to Sarah Pailn from www.balloon-juice.com

"Listening to her speak is like Free Republic Mad Libs."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

List of US forces used abroad 1798-1993

This is an interesting list useful for putting some things into perspective. Some points I took away from it are these:

1) American armed intervention abroad is nothing new. This list shows about 234 instances between 1798 and 1993, or on average more than one per year.

2) There's been little real controversy over the president using military forces abroad, even in some fairly significant ways, without specific Congressional authorization. Indeed, only five of the 234 instances were declared wars.

3) That said, the vast majority of the instances were very limited in scope, casualties and duration.

4) The typical distance from the US had tended to increase as the country became more powerful, but even in the early 1800s there were interventions in the Arab world and even in the 1990s there were interventions in the Caribbean and Latin America, so there's no hard-and-fast rule on where the next intervention might be.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Down the slippery slope


Notice again how far down the slippery slope we have gone. Krauthammer's first position was that torture should be restricted solely to ticking time bomb cases in which we knew that a terror suspect could prevent an imminent detonation of a WMD. His position a few years later is that torture should be the first resort for any terror suspect who could tell us anything about future plots. Those of us who warned that torture, once admitted into the mainstream, will metastasize beyond anyone's control now have the example of Charles Krauthammer's arguments to back us up. Stephen Hayes, Cheney's stenographer along with Mike Allen, even argued on Fox News that Cheney's assault on the president as an alien threat to the American people was too soft and wanted to "squeeze" the pantie-bomber for more info. These are neo-fascist sentiments, empowering lawless violence by the government, justified solely by fear of terror incidents. Whatever else junking the entire history of Western jurisprudence and the laws of war is, it is not in any way conservative. It is a radical assault on one of the central pillars of our civilization.

Slate - Encyclopedia Baracktannica