Saturday, May 16, 2009

More On Torture

I really didn't get the whole bit about Nancy Pelosi. In fact, I still don't. I keep hearing on the news, "What did she know and when did she know it?", as if this has any relevance at all.

This isn't about whether or not then Minority Leader Pelosi was briefed about specific methods of interrogation, including the torture of some al Qaeda members. The "he said, she said" between Speaker Pelosi and CIA Director Leon Panetta is insiderism at its worst. No one believes Panetta that the CIA would never lie to the public. Very few on any side of the political debate really believe the Speaker. The most interesting aspect of this entire debate has been that there are Republicans with no vested interest in defending Speaker Pelosi who have said, unequivocally, that the CIA did not specifically address the issue of methods - including torture - or individuals. The only persons who have come out and called the Speaker a liar are those like Sen. Christopher Bond of MO, whose word isn't his last name.

More important, it seems to me, are the revelations that these "enhanced interrogations techniques" were used far earlier than have been revealed previously, including being used on political prisoners of war in Iraq to ascertain whether or not there was an al Qaeda-Iraq link which had previously not been uncovered. Now, anyone paying attention for the past eight or so years knows none existed. The CIA, military intelligence, anyone who knew anything kept telling higher-ups that it just wasn't the case. So, we hurt and hurt and hurt and simulated drowning and did all sorts of other horrible things to people for one reason - to cover Dick Cheney's flabby white ass. Period.

At this point, I don't care what Pelosi knew. I know that Cheney not only knew, but he and then-Defense Secretary ordered the repeated brutalizing of other human beings for no other purpose than to make sure they had some kind of cover. The attention being paid to whether or not Speaker Pelosi knew something is a distraction. How about some criminal proceedings against those who now only knew about it, but ordered it in the first place.

The time is long past. I'm tired of Republicans, conservatives, and other brainless people telling us that this was all OK, and especially now because Me. Pelosi knew about it and did nothing. I don't know if she knew, and no one else does either. I am far more concerned with the simple, plain, unadulterated fact that the sitting Vice President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense ordered torture for political cover.

They are despicable, horrible people.

Saturday Rock Show

Sunday, August 23, at the Chicago Theater, I will be enjoying an evening of music with the following bands. First, one of two bands from Sweden, it's Beardfish with "A Love Story (1 of 2)":

From Pain of Salvation's Scarsick release, a funny, angry rant against America under George W. Bush, comes "Disco Queen" (live in Istanbul):

Headlining, the greatest band out there, Dream Theater. Their new release is next month, so here's an old song, from 1992's Images and Words, this is "Under a Glass Moon":

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sign If You Are A United Methodist

The UM General Board of Church and Society is collecting signatures on a petition, "United Methodists do no torture". Sign here. Make a post, highlight it, spread the word.

Only Republicans Remember Sista Souljah

Like elephants, Republicans remember everything. And, usually, they remember it wrong. They blame Roosevelt for the Depression. They think Johnson micromanaged Vietnam. They believe Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.

When Bill Clinton criticized a little-known activist/rapper whose stage name was Sistah Souljah, the right was placated. Now, that happened . . . in 1992. Some of those who voted for Barack Obama, voting in their very first election this past November, were still in diapers when that happened. Yet, David Ignatius manages to dredge it up yet again. In the process, he comes off sounding really stupid (wow, what a shock!).

Please stop, for the love of all that's holy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What It's About

I was going to do this post yesterday, got discouraged, but decided to try it again. . .

A friend of mine at work asked me last night, "What is Facebook?"

I said, "It's like MySpace for adults." In a way, that's true. At the same time, it works better than MySpace. Your profile isn't sitting there for anyone to see; only those you "friend" have access to it. There isn't a lot of froo-froo bling that makes the page look like it was designed by anime artists. As it becomes more popular, more and more people sign on; I've gotten in touch with a bunch of people from high school, people I haven't spoken to in 25 years. It's a wonderful way to reconnect.

It does have its downsides. Apparently, one person I know was actually booted off FB because something he typed in jest was deemed "offensive" by someone anonymous. Not only was the comment not offensive, I'm not sure how it could have been construed as such.

There are also an abundance of stupid little quizzes and other "stuff" that can clog your in box. Some of them are fun, most are really quite stupid. Fortunately, you can ignore these at your pleasure.

For me, though, the benefits outweigh the bad stuff. I keep it banal over there - no politics or religion (except for some music on Sundays) - and much prefer a good laugh to a good argument. Some regulars here are my friends there, but there are one or two - Alan, Feodor, Dan - who would be more than pleasant additions. You don't have to log in every day, or even every week. It is a good way to stay in touch, catch up, and be reminded that your life is far richer than you might think.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Hound Of Heaven

I suppose this is a form of self-abuse (no, not that . . .), but I wanted to follow up my challenge yesterday. So, today, I found this. No explanation, no detail, no reference other than a previous post of Neil's.

Again, how about a reference. Elizabeth Johnson, perhaps? Edward Farley? Shoot, I'd settle for Schleiermacher at this point. Not that I think Neil has even heard of these folks, let alone read them enough to be able to quote them. There is this tool called "Google" and you can find a good quote from just about anybody who ever recorded a sentence.

I suppose this is Neil's way of responding without responding (and he calls me passive-aggressive).

Blog Straight Lines

I can't help myself . . .
If, as Dick Cheney's daughter says, Cheney's torture crusade is like Al Gore global warming activism, can't he hurry up and form his pro-torture organization and shoot his movie?

Because he'd shoot it in the face!

God, I'm glad I got that out of my system.

Sitting Down To Save Their Jobs

Sit-down strikes have a noble, wonderful history in the American labor movement. Because they work. So, it is heartening to see the 500 employees of this garment manufacturer in Des Plaines, IL deciding to fight the banksters to save their jobs.
"We are all upset that, they should give us another chance to make sure that somebody comes in who actually wants to bid," said Workers United Local President Ruby Sims. "Take the bid. Let us work. We deserve to finish paying those bills, paying for our houses, taking care of our children."

"We will not leave the factories if they move and push to liquidate it and close down our jobs," said Midwest Workers United Treasurer Joe Costigan.

We have reached a point where the labor movement needs to get back to some serious confrontation, organizing against corporate America, rather than with it. While it might be important to remind most corporations that, in the end, organized labor is a boon to profits, employee satisfaction and morale, retention, workplace safety, and the economy as a whole, right now workers need to be reminded that most corporations will quite willingly screw workers as much as possible. Without the protections provided by a unionized workforce, this will only get worse, especially in this economy. This is the moment for labor to get off its duff and, in the word of "Joe Hill" - organize.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Challenge To (Gulp!) Neil

Yeah, OK, I admit it. I was reading . . . here . . . and in the little "Roundup" he does, he wrote the following, without links, without references, without anything. It's just a bald statement:
Liberal Christianity vs. orthodox Christianity: Real Christianity tells you that forgiveness for your sins is available in Jesus. Liberal Christianity will tell you that you don’t need forgiveness.

Now, being a Liberal Christian and also one who considers himself pretty orthodox (all that Trinity/Incarnation/Grace stuff, you know) I just want to know who, exactly, he is talking about. I challenge Neil to find a real liberal theologian - not John Shelby Spong or some other boogeyman, but a quote from, say, Paul Tillich, or Reinhold Niebuhr or Langdon Gilkey or John Cobb - that says what Neil says. Furthermore, I want to know what, exactly, are the differences between a "liberal" Christian and an "orthodox" Christian, in his mind.

American Exceptionalism, Moral Equivalency, And Torture

I could quibble with more than a few things in this post from Glenn Greenwald (when is our foreign policy ever perfect, Glenn? C'mon, that's not a standard, that's a cop out), but the best parts are actually quite good. Especially the linked and highlighted crap from some idjit from The New Republic (why is this magazine, with dwindling circulation, taken seriously?):

It's moral idiocy to equate the United States and Iran jailing journalists. It's moral idiocy to show in excruciating detail the ways the United States continues to jail journalists, without trial, without charges for years on end even as the entire journalistic establishment wails and gnashes their teeth over a three week imprisonment for an American journalist in Iran.

That is American exceptionalism in action, ladies and gentlemen.

Another example, you say? You mean, there's more?

Why, sure.
Why are the much less brutal methods used by the Chinese on Fischer called torture by the NYT, whereas much harsher methods used by Americans do not merit that term? Here we find what is clearly the single most predominant fact shaping our political and media discourse: everything is different, and better, when we do it. In fact, it is that exact mentality that was and continues to be the primary justification for our torture regime and so much else that we do.

Andrew Sullivan says much the same thing:
You will notice how the NYT defines torture when it comes to foreign governments - isolation, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation. Much milder than anything the US did to one of its own citizens, Jose Padilla. But the parallel is almost perfect: these are, after all, the exact Chinese Communist techniques that were reverse engineered from the SERE program. So you have a perfect demonstration of the NYT's double-standard. If Chinese do it to Americans, it's torture; if Americans do it to an American, it's "harsh interrogation."

I will challenge Eli Lake and say that, in fact, the US and Iran are not equivalent.

Apparently, Iran is a far better country than we are.

Music For Your Monday

I was listening to the PRI program Sound Opinions on Saturday, and they did an extended interview with Willie Nelson's latest biographer. It merely confirmed that this guy is quintessentially American, a marvelous national asset, ignored by the mainstream media because he's been tagged "country" (to my mind, he is even more important than Bob Dylan; blasphemy, I know, but I prefer Tom Waits to the sage from Duluth, so there you go). I love the story I read somewhere about this first song; blonde dimbulb Jessica Simpson, while filming the Dukes of Hazzard movie, asked Nelson if he knew the song "Crazy", and he replied that he co-wrote it for Patsy Cline. Too funny.

He did a concept album about an itinerant preacher who kills his wife (fun stuff, huh) called Red Headed Stranger. The album, and the first proposed single, were deemed "unreleasable" by the record company. Of course, it was his first major success, and the single, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain", is a classic. I wonder if people at record companies have any brains at all.

After Waylon Jennings got artistic control, Willie came along and forced through the same contractual freedom. After that, they developed their "outlaw" persona, and while it was described as a marketing ploy, it also had a certain truth to it. Here they are doing "Good Hearted Woman"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Teh Funny

President Obama unleashes some serious LOL at the White House Correspondents' Dinner last night. Unlike his predecessor, he manages to take shots at himself, his administration, and most pointedly at his critics. Jokes at the expense of Bush, Michael Steele, the Dickster, and Rahm Emmanuel - too funny ("Rahm can't say the word 'day' after 'mother'.").

Virtual Tin Cup

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