Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do the Clothes Have an Emperor?

Perhaps (please let it be so) the President is being very circumspect lest he prejudice any possible torture prosecutions by preconvicting in the court of public opinion, but he sure does sound like a gutless weenie when he addresses the issue. He might be better advised to do something...Presidential, like, "Because some are calling for prosecutions and I don't wish to prejudice such proceedings, I feel I must limit what I say on these matters...." But no, instead he bloviates about it with such things as:

What I've said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.

I agree, water boarding is torture and "waterboarding violates our ideals and our values." But that second locution makes it sound like a matter of bad form (as does the term "short cut" which Obama twice used for it), like wearing a miniskirt to church, or improving he lie of your tee shot, or saying "Bullshit," on network TV. Of course it doesn't just violate our ideals and values; it violates our laws. Even Ron Reagan's crooked-ass "Justice" Department prosecuted waterboarding as a violent crime. Is Holder not up to the standards of Ed Meese?

And then of course there's this, from the Barack Obombast:

I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

First of, this seems to concede (albeit in a tellingly roundabout, convoluted manner) that some valuable information was gained throught torture -- which notion I doubt absolutely, and which notion has been directly contradicted by many people in position to know. Second, it wallows into sentimental bullshit, which misses the moral point in a way that seems part of Obama's own Exceptionalism. He seems to think, with Bush, that Americans are just good. "We don't torture." No matter about the pictures, and the blood and the deaths and the reams of testimony and the appalling paper trail. Torture just isn't "consistent with who we are." Well, sorry Mr. President, but a hell of a lot of us are just fine with torture, because they think it works, or because they're bigots and don't care if it works -- they just like the idea of getting medieval on someone. But more importantly, if we don't prosecute those who did it, then we do do it. Then we are precisely the people who do it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Migrate, Adapt or Die

There is much wailing these days about the impending death of newspapers and other traditional media (print magazines, the big three networks), but the newspapers, with their slavish Establishmentarian outlook deserve their impending death for delivering suhc a crappy outmoded product, at least as much as do the Big Three automakers. Many innocent, and a few noble parties will be injured in these collapses, it's true, but for the most part we should say good riddance with each closing. It's not like they provided us with 'the news we need' to avoid the calamities of the GOP hegemony -- 9/11, needless war, Depression, disgrace, wholesale corruption etc etc. Nor can the journamalists, even now, admit that these things have happened -- because they were so complicit, derelict, negligent, incompetent etc in these devolutions.

The American people could bring about an improvement in their news media, by carefully, selectively, and avowedly boycotting those organs that stick to the "center right" mythology -- and of course the sponsors of that mythology. It's a market solution to the problem: have a ferw hundred or thousand people write to Macy's, and say, I'm not buying at Macy's anymore because your ad was on the back of Marc Thiessen's wholly mendacious and morally nauseating op-ed in the Washignton Post. This should be done for whichever advertiser is closest to the most offensive exrescences of the day. And, needless to say, readers of the post should remove their names from the rolls of subscribers -- ideally en masse and with letters explaining which bit of moral imbecility pushed them over the edge. All this would require some coordination on the Web. Somedboy would need to lead the effort, track who sponsors (or appears proximate to) right-wing bullshit and do regular posts, including mailing addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc of the execs who buy the space or time, the editors et cetera. As I've said before, maybe we could even issue Fox-Free stickers to manufacturers who don't contribute to the salaries of Borwnshirts, like Good Housekeeping Seals, or Made in America certifications.

It could be (I've heard it claimed) that many people are basically good; they want to do the right thing, it's just that the incenitves have been perverted. They may hate Hannity and O'Reilly, but their air time pays off. We could change that, give them a chance to hear their better angels. But chances are, we won't. Most Americans are soft -- too incurious, cowardly and lazy to change their brand loyalties, or write a simple letter. So we'll just go along as we have been, and hope for some wise and heroic Fuhrer to lead us into better days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just Wondering

Can we now prosecute some of the people who committed perjury in the Abu-Grahib coverup that allowed George Bush to be re-elected and then to escape impeachment? How about General Geoffrey Miller for instance?

Should people who say "the coverrup is often worse than the crime" be spat upon?

Should people who say "enhanced interrogation techniques" instead of torture be spat upon?

Why is David Ignatius such a complete douchebag, and why does such a complete douchebag have a job at the Washington Post?

Why does Obama sometimes seem like such a mealymouthed, chickenshit, lightweight? Could it be because he sometimes, especially when he might instead say something true or courageous, says incredibly stupid stuff like this?

And so if and when there needs to be a further accounting of what [torture] took place during this period, I think for Congress to examine ways that it can be done in a bipartisan fashion, outside of the typical hearing process that can sometimes break down and break it entirely along party lines, to the extent that there are independent participants who are above reproach and have credibility, that would probably be a more sensible approach to take.

Uh, word Mr. President: we already did that. Remember the Abu Grahib hearings, and exactly how much truth they bipartisanly whitewashed out of existence?

And while were asking questions, Janis Karpinski has a few. Like: how come the hillbilly sadsacks who tortured the guys at Abu Grahib got prison terms but the CIA guys who tortured people get "Obama's Patented Just Following Orders Free Pass Out of Jail"?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama Turns to Shit Before Our Eyes

It's really quite simple: those who won't say we tortured are fascist assholes, like Marc Thiessen, or at the very least cowardly apologists for the same. And now the President seems to have decreed that the very word "torture" should be disappeared like one of Pinochet's enemies.

Obama is "looking forward" just like the Enron executives did, like the Citibank and AIG execs did, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. Looking forward in these instances means: what makes things soft for me in the very near term, damn the long-term consequences.

A failure to investigate and punish these acts means that those responsible will very soon be returned to the highest offices in the land (just as Cheney and Rumsfeld slunk back from Watergate), whereupon they'll reinstitute and expand torture and other instruments of the police state, which will then be hallowed by long acceptance.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Swedish Lego Jesus

It occurs to me: as pornography may distort and deform sexuality, might not dogma distort and deform morality? It seems quite like that healthy use of pornography is precisely as common as Christian moral uplift.

We should bear in mind that Copernican Revolutions are hardly over. Men invested with great authority, highly impressed with their own wisdom, are very often proven diametrically wrong. Think of medical practice two centuries ago. Think of financial practice two years ago.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Memories

There was a particularly lost and irresolute time in my life when I happened to be tending bar and living in a housefull of cocktail waitresses, one of whom was putatively my girlfriend. Against my wise counsel, she acquired a puppy at one point, a Goldren Retriever, whom she named Bailey after the similarly-hued, viscous-sweet Irish liqueur which said girlfriend favored, along with vodka and cocaine.

We all shared a nice suburban house in a strange little Leave-It to-Beaver enclave, just the other side of a scraggly beauty-strip from a dauntingly huge set of high-tension powerlines. One of the neighbors had a Lawn Doctor franchise, as I recall, and he proudly parked his truckfull of chemicals in front of his corner house, advertising his services to the many passersby. Then something went terribly wrong, he mixed up the dosage somehow, and suddenly his formerly-lush lawn looked like a testimonial to Agent Orange. The truck was parked elsewhere for a couple of months.

One pellucid Easter Sunday, the gals were slow to arise, as usual, and groggy once they did. One of the roommates let Bailey out into the back yard for her constitutional, and then lost her in a fog of Marlboro Lights, coffee, bong-hits and cable TV. My paramour deputized me to go find the puppy when her absence was finally noted. I wandered around the neighborhood for a bit, calling "Bailey, Bailey," softly, and feeling a fool, because the dog was never known yet to come to my call. Finally I gave up and headed back. Then I spotted the pooch, in the very yard across the street from our house. She was rooting around in their meticulously planted flower bed by the front porch.

Hearing many voices in the back yard of this place -- a brunch of some sort I supposed -- I crept over, hoping to re-capture Bailey undiscovered. As I stepped into the neighbor's yard I noted, to my horror, that the puppy had meticulously worked its way up the sidwalk, and down all the flowerbeds, addressing each of the gorgeous, evenly-spaced tulips, and biting the head off it. Just as I grabbed the rooting dog by the collar, the man of the house came around the corner, with three of his elderly, Easter-bonneted guests. They stopped, gobsmacked by the multihued carnage on the sidewalk, in the mulch.

"Hi," I said, to my neighbor, the first time I had ever done so. He looked around; his jaw dropped as he searched for words. I didn't wait. I towed the pooch brusquely backwards up the sidewalk, across the street and around our house to the back door.

"Oh my God," was my girlfriend's reaction to this story. She nearly ignited the gauzy curtain behind the living-room sofa with her cigarette as she snuck a peek at the neighbor's assemblage, several dozen strong, bedecked for High Mass, now all out on the front lawn, drinking in the full magnitude of the violation, and murmuring low. Evil looks came our way.

I washed my hands of the matter, got into my running stuff, snuck out the back door again, and took a long, long trot up the jeep path under the humming powerlines, trying to take sensible stock of my situation.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Hindrocket Postulate

What else accounts for the fact that the wingnuts have adopted Teabagging and 2M2M for their causes lately? Teabagging pf course refers to scrotum-sucking, and 2M2M, in the language of the chat rooms, denotes a homosexual couple seeking a third man for man-on-man-on-man action.

Perhaps this aslo explains the Brownshirts' fascination with gladiator movies like 300. Via Overruled:

As the wingnuttiness of a crowd increases, the likelihood that they will be unintentionally homoerotic increases exponentially.

Fascism is a cult of masculinity, and secure surplus of macho is not necessarily the reason for the obsession with it.

See No Evil

I was having a mild ethical dilemma, trying to figure out how to represent the stance of the Obama adminsitration (particularly Obama, Holder and Pannetta) towards the Bushies' crimes and war crimes, involking the standard meme without trafficking in the most traditional but arguably racist imagery. Thank Grabthar that I found something tasetful to substitute.

Anyway, I would pay fifty bucks to see some reporter with real cojones (Helen Thomas maybe) ask a question like this of Obama or Holder: "It is your sworn duty to uphold and defend the laws and Constitution of these United States, and yet you seem content to ignore that duty with respect to the many obvious, documented and admitted crimes of the previous administration? Why is that?"

I supect that Obama, at least, would have some fairly glib/vaccuous/dishonest answer about how he needs to look forward & where crimes are discovered they will be dealt with, but he very carefully wouldn't say anything about investigation or prosecution, both of which are, again, his sworn duty to order.

He seems to think that being President is all about preserving the complacency and security of the middle class -- but I don't remember anything about that in the oath, or the Constitution, or the Federalist Papers, or the Gettysburg address.... If all we are about is the sanctity of our La-Z-Boys, then we deserve the dustbin of history, and posthaste.
But speaking of "looking forward" -- quite literally the get-out-of-jail-free card of the GOP since the Checkers Speech -- this tendency has just emboldened the fascistic element in America for the last half century, and left them free to reiterate their gambits and perfect their MO, so people who mouth this locution with respectr to Republican crimes should at the very least be disabused, and more properly, in many cases, spat upon.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Power Unaccountable Is Absolutely Corrupt

I've been in Old Europe on a top secret mission for the Ministry of Elegance and it seems pretty apparent that they love our new President over there, but that's probably just the favorable contrast with his previous First Vegetable. I can't say as how Obama's rhetoric stirs me much these days, although it's nice that he at least couches his cliches in a reconizable language.

Perhaps one of the reasons I'm not more impressed is because there doesn't seem to be any guts behind any of his actions or his stances. Sure he'll take big gambles with our money, but, like Bush, he's only tough when sticking up for his woeful cronies: Geithner and Summers, and Holder and Pannetta. In the same way that Giethner and Summers don't want any of those Republicans who got rich while bankrupting the banks to be held accountable, Pannetta and Holder don't want any of the other Bushite Republicans who committed war crimes or perverted our Justice Department to be held accountable either. Perhaps emboldened by the mealymouthing of these apologists, the Republicans still at large are apparently blackmailing the President, threatening to block key nominations if he releases the infamous "torture memos." Republicans, it seems to go without saying, think that spooks, cops, turnkeys, and soldiers should be utterly above the law, lest the nation experience some insecurity; they want, in short, a police state. One where it's also verboten to prosecute Republicans. Obama seems to agree with them, that's why his Justice Department is working hard to keep the illegal wiretapping done by the Bushies a state secret. Maybe that's why the unseemly hurry to bounce the case against Ted Stevens (whom everyone admits did the things he was accused of, however badly his prosecution was botched or corrupted) while doing nothing about the cases of Paul Minor or Don Seigelman, who have actually done time as a result of corrupt prosecutions for non-crimes. This is a world where you get prosecuted for prosecuting Republicans, but if you railroad a Democrat you get to keep your U.S. Attorney job indefinitely.

I'm happy to see Steven's corrupt prosecution tossed, if it was that, but why is that a priority, especially when Minor and Siegelman are looking at much more immediate jeopardy on infinitely more dubious cases? I'm afraid the answer is: the President is terrified of the right-wing howling that would go up if he were actually to do something principled. Alas, I'm afraid there's little danger of that.
Can't someone remind Obama of the oath he took twice, the one about defending and upholding the Constitution?