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.

Slate - Encyclopedia Baracktannica