The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Archive for January, 2009

The GOP: Party For Torture

Posted by Bill Nance on January 22, 2009

If you were on the Senate Judiciary Committee a few decades ago, a time during which the United States faced the very real threat of nuclear annhialation, it would never have occurred to you to hold up the confirmation of the top law enforcement official in the country because he said torture was a crime.

Fast forward to yesterday, when we face no remotely comparable threat and that’s exactly what GOP members of that committee have done.

Eric Holder, nominee for Attorney General of the United States had the nerve to say that waterboarding is torture. -Something absolutely no one outside the ranks of the GOP would disagree with. But apparently that means no confirmation for him, at least if the GOP has its way.

Even Senator Lindsey Graham (R- SC), who is trying to be at least somewhat conciliatory said:

“If we’ve committed — if we’ve made mistakes in the past, let’s clean them up. But this idea of criminalizing policy differences would be bad for the country and would create a bad precedent.”

Torture is and has always been against the law in this country. No policy paper written by a White House counsel, like John Yoo, has the authority to unmake those laws or to ignore treaty obligations. To ask the Attorney General not to enforce laws which have been broken is not just a matter of politics, it’s a crime: Obstruction of Justice.

There must be no compromise on this issue. While personally I think the torturers themselves may have some defense in that they believed their orders to torture were lawful, it’s not altogether clear. The Nuremberg trials made quite clear that “just following orders” is no excuse. Every officer in the United States military is taught this.

The GOP stood by and applauded when Torturer in Chief George W. Bush and his accomplices implemented torture as the official policy of the United States. Today they are trying desperately to prevent an open, transparent investigation of these crimes by labeling such investigations “witch hunt.”

Graham has it completely wrong. The implementation of torture on the orders of the Bush administration was not a “policy difference,” it was a crime. To ask the Attorney General to turn a blind eye to this because it would be politically embarassing to the GOP is nothing short of disgusting. -Yet another example of the complete moral corruption of the Republican Party.

Let there be no mistake, no minced words, no euphemisms: Waterboarding is torture.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Getting Waterboarded // Current“, posted with vodpod

Posted in Law & Order, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

They Just Never Give Up

Posted by Bill Nance on January 21, 2009

In case you were wondering why it is that the Bush administration not only screwed up everything it touched, but repeated its errors again and again, this article by Peter Wehner gives ample evidence of the causes of this clusterfuck of an administration.

The Juice:

As George W. Bush spends his last few hours as President, many of us who worked for him and deeply admire him are filled with mixed feelings. It is hard to see him leave the scene with approval ratings hovering at 30 percent, with the nation clearly weary and ready to turn the page. All of us hoped he would leave the Presidency with an outpouring of gratitude and affection from the nation.

It was not to be, and it would be silly and misleading to pretend that this did not matter at all. How could it not? Yet most of us have the conviction — a fairly deep one, actually — that President Bush will be looked upon by history favorably and that his decisions will be, in the main, vindicated. The obvious question concerns what we see that most of our fellow citizens do not. Why are we convinced that Bush’s presidency will be judged a success when so many people right now consider it to be a failure?

The answer, I think, is several fold. For one things, it is rooted in the belief that on the most important issues of his presidency — keeping America safe after the attacks of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our broader struggle against militant Islam, the appointment of two Supreme Court justices, and more — Bush got it right or mostly right.

This doesn’t mean that there weren’t serious missteps along the way — failures in judgment, personnel, execution, communication, and persuasion. In Iraq especially, we were much too slow in recognizing the nature of the conflict and adjusting to it. Yet despite those mistakes, it is certainly possible that Iraq will end up very nearly as we initially hoped it would: free and self-governing, an ally of America instead of an enemy, a counterweight to Iran, the place that gave rise to an Arab uprising against militant Islam, and a nation that eventually helps to reshape the political culture of the Middle East. If this in fact occurs, the verdict on Bush dramatically shifts. What was widely seen as his greatest failure while in office will be seen as a significant, and even history-shaping, success. As Ambassador Ryan Crocker has said, how we leave Iraq will matter a great deal more than how we got into Iraq.

Whatever you do, DON’T take responsibility. That has been the mantra of the Bush years. That lack of acceptance has meant the same mistakes get repeated over and over. And the gist of Weher’s article is that this type of approach, to never question whether one might be wrong is good management. -No wonder bush was such a disaster with such nincompoops serving as Deputy Assistant to the President.

Remember this?

President Bush is responsible for “keeping us safe after 911?” Really?  So let me get this straight. We haven’t had another attack here since 911, therefore Bush is vindicated? That’s called a logical fallacy folks. There could be dozens of reasons why no attack has come, none of which necessarily have anything to do with Bush in particular.

First, let there be no mistake: NO American president would have failed to go into Afghanistan. Jimmy “dufus” Carter would have invaded. The public wouldn’t have stood for anything less and a clearer case of causus beli never existed. -When you can get the French to go along… well, you get the idea. So this is no Bush triumph. You don’t get to claim success based on something which absolutely anyone in the office would have done. As for the other possible reasons for no attacks? Who knows. But claiming that the Bush Administration is specifically responsible for this does not follow. Trying to claim it does is illogical and belies all the evidence of incompetence in every other possible arena.

Bottom line: We haven’t been attacked for any number of reasons, none of which can be laid at the feet of GWB. Maybe we’ve just been lucky. God knows the Bush administration’s “security theatre” we see in airports hasn’t kept us safe at all.

Similarly, the wholesale destruction in Iraq, the strengthening of Iran, the neglect of the main enemy based in Afghanistan, will never be vindicated.

George Bush is responsible for throwing out 12 years of Pentagon planning for how to invade and occupy Iraq. Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki testified to this fact before the war and was promptly forced into retirement for daring to call the emperor naked. The absolute clusterfuck of post-invasion Iraq has led to perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, a fractured polity and a new ally and power base for Iran, which, unlike Iraq, actually does pose a potential threat to U.S. interests.

I supported the war and I still think it was the right thing to do. This had nothing to do with WMDs possessed at the time by Iraq, I hasten to add. I stated at the time this threat was overblown in the extreme, and I thought Colin Powell’s testimony befiore the UN was laughable. If little ‘ole Bill Nance can figure this out, the fact that Bush didn’t is all the more damning.

From Iraq to Afghanistan to Katrina and the TARP, which has mystically disappeared $350 BILLION, to Harriet Miers and “Bring it on,” the Bush presidency has been the most colossal disaster in American History.

Anyone who thinks this president will be “vindicated by history” needs to get off the crack pipe.

Posted in afghanistan, george bush, humor, Iran, iraq, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Racists Target Wikipedia Entry For President Of The United States

Posted by Bill Nance on January 20, 2009

This just appeared on the Wikipedia entry under “President of the United States.”

140px-wassermeloneOfficial Seal

Get used to it, the racists are going to be very unhappy in the next 4 years. Let us all pray the Secret Service never lets its guard down.

Posted in Barack Obama, News & Analysis, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Obama Inauguration Day: Get Ready For Vast The Right-Wing Conspiracy

Posted by Bill Nance on January 20, 2009

Today, Tuesday, 20 January, 2009 Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. -And the nutcases are already starting to bloom in earnest.

I honestly have to say I’ve not understood the partisan rancor, especially among those on the far left and far right in this country, every time a President they didn’t vote for is elected. I didn’t understand it when Bill Clinton was elected and the Rush Limbaughs of the world were bashing him and preparing their audiences for the “End of Life in America As We Know It.” Nor did I really understand the hysteria over George Bush.  Absent the events of 9/11/01, Bush would have been creamed in 2004 and been an incompetent, but altogether unremarkable president. None of the people who were going crazy on January 20, 2001 claiming Bush “stole the election” had the slightest idea how bad he would be, so they can hardly claim with any credibility “I told you so.” (2004 is another matter entirely, and just for the record: “I Told You So).

Over the last few weeks the level of insanity among the far right has increased to dizzying proportions and the bunker-dwelling, back-helicopter seeing, militia-going segment of the population is working overtime at rising to all-time highs of paranoia.

Some of the things the nuts are saying:

Barack Obama is not a “Natural Born” citizen of the United States -I’ve seen this argued repeatedly on internet forums over the last few weeks. The nut-cases call him “The Usurper.” The best email I’ve seen going around is a copy of this web page which is a letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking them to perform a coup d’etat. (No, I’m not exaggerating).

The next best thing is the Obama’s call for a “civilian security force.” That’s right, according to the wackos, Obama is getting ready to establish the SA “right here in amurrica!” to quote on wackjob commenting on Digg, what us “Loyal Americans need to do:

ABSOLUTELY!! About time!! We do need a Civilian Security Corps. We Armed Citizens need to band together to be prepared to fight the oppressive government forming right now.

Right now:
Start identifying trusted folks with which to create cells of folks. 3-5 persons only. These cells need to be developed in secrecy from each other with only the area coordinators knowing who’s who. Even then they don’t need to know who’s in the cell, only the cell “contact”.
Start identifying enemies, potential collaborators and developing info lists on their addresses, vehicle info, their “networks”, and their routines.
Start becoming self sufficient: learn to grow a “victory garden”, stock up on long term food items, ammunition for your firearms. If you can buy extra rifles and pistols to be used to outfit your family members and local cell.

I feel so much safer now.

There are plenty more where those two come from.

  • Obama is a secret Muslim
  • He will take his oath of office on the Koran
  • He will confiscate all privately owned firearms

the list goes on, but I tire of reciting bat-shit crazy conspiracy theories.

The hysteria over Obama will just continue. It never went away for Bill Clinton. Add the racial aspect, which I see as the undertone of much of the internet rancor, and it’s going to be even worse for Obama.

I’m hopeful that President Obama will do a good job. I plan to oppose his administration on things I disagree with, but that was also true of Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43.

While I am excited to see Obama entering his new office and hopeful that if anyone is likely to see us through the current mess, he’s certainly a better pick than John McCain would have been, it’s not going to be a miraculous process. Obama will not part the Red Sea or magically make the economy better. The best he, or any politician can hope to do is to provide stimulus (cash) and policies that will help the markets recover in the only way they ever really have: by themselves.

It takes real work to wreck an economy. George W. Bush and the Republicans are, so far as I know, the only group in America ever to do so. Similarly, it’s extraordinarily difficult to seriously affect an economy in a long-lasting, significant way. I’d say FDR did this, Reagan would be on the list as well. That’s two presidents in at least the last century. For Obama to fix the incredible mess he’s been left will be a herculean task. I doubt it will be quick and I doubt it will be without some serious missteps. (Hoover’s protectionist trade policies just prolonged the depression).

And so, I congratulate you President Obama. I look forward to the next few months to see you actually at work. We all have our hopes pinned on you. The times are too dangerous for you to fail. But like any president, I’m expecting you to do some things I really don’t like and a few things that strike me as downright stupid.

No one gets a free pass. Not even the guy I campaigned for. I just hope the nutjobs on the extreme right are kept as far away from you as possible by the Secret Service.

Posted in Barack Obama, Election 08, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

13 Year-Old Strip-Searched For possible Posession of Ibuprofen: and the school is appealing the lawsuit they lost?

Posted by Bill Nance on January 16, 2009

I don’t post much on the subject of stupid school administrators for essentially two reasons: One; the fodder is so common (Almost the rule it seems) and Two; my blood pressure can’t take it.

But I’ll make an exception for the case of then 13-year-old Savana Redding, an honor student at Safford Middle School, about 127 miles from Tucson, Arizona.

In 2003 a student was found with ibuprofen (oh, the horrors)! The student, under threats of God-only-knows what, said she had obtained the ibuprofen from Savanna, her classmate. After a search of her locker and backpack (as if that’s not bad enough with no warrant or probable cause) the MALE school teacher, along with the assistant principle and a teacher’s aide, both females, strip searched this little girl, including pulling her bra to peek inside.

Folks, this is called child abuse. There is no other term for it. And the fact that the County Attorney didn’t immediately file criminal charges against these perverts speaks volumes for what’s wrong with our judicial system. (I hasten to add, had the girl texted photos of herself in this state of undress to a boy, the prosecutor would no doubt have been Johnny-On-The-Spot with charges of child pornography).

It’s too bad this happened, it’s also too bad the girl didn’t scream rape, kick the teacher in the balls and scratch the eyes out of the two females.

It’s also very fortunate for all three of these idiots that this wasn’t my daughter. I’ve never hit a woman in my life, but I’d be happy to make an exception for these idiots, and the male teacher would get the ass-kicking of the century. Frankly that’s a far better lesson than a court case.

The case is now up before the Supreme Court of the United States. If they rule that this is permissible, I urge any and all of you with children to keep them home indefinitely or to switch them to a private school where you can be assured no such thing will occur. Maybe losing out on enough funding from having no children present will make the schools finally grasp that they are not police, jailers or narcotics agents. Maybe they could also learn to do something really complicated when there’s a problem: like calling the child’s parents before they strip search a 13 year-old little girl.

/end rant

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, education, Law & Order, Rants | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Teens and Sex: Get Over It

Posted by Bill Nance on January 16, 2009

It seems the latest trend in America’s ongoing war on normal, healthy sexual experimentation among young people is charging girls who send naked pictures of themselves to their boyfriends with trafficking child pornography.

Yes, you heard right, the 14 and 15-year-old girls who sent pictures of themselves will now be charged with a serious felony, listed as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, etc.

I’m honestly not sure which I find more odious: The current irrational fear-craze that a child molester is lurking behind every tree, or the upswing in criminalizing teen sexuality.

Girls start menstruating at about 11.75 years-old in America.  So by the time they are 14-15, they’ve been physically sexually mature for between 2.5-4 years on average. No one wants their 15-year-old to be banging her boyfriend, but the facts are that they will in a substantial number of cases, and the number of girls who remain celibate until after age 18 is fairly  small. A recent report by the CDC indicates that 60.5% of high school seniors (average age 17) admitted to having intercourse, and that’s of course not counting the numbers who have had oral sex. By age 20, according to that report, the numbers went up to 75%. Again, this is admitted sex, I personally suspect the actual numbers are much higher.

Look back to your own experience. How many of you remained virgins until marriage? How many of you left high school having as virgins? Did the sky fall because you had sex? Were you emotionally scarred for life? Of course you weren’t.

The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and STD infection in the industrialized world for one very simple reason. We make a normal thing criminal and fail to teach responsible and comprehensive sexual curriculum to our kids. That’s all there is to it. Holland, which has no such taboos, doesn’t have the problems we do, nor does any other country where sex is not automatically considered evil and forbidden and not to be discussed at all.

Information is simply information. And there’s no such thing as too much correct information. Age appropriateness in sex education is about kid’s ability to understand and relate to it, not a matter of how old they must be before being exposed to such awful, horrible, eeevul things like birth control and disease prevention.

My daughter, at about age six, started using the term “sexy” to describe things one day. I explained this was not an appropriate word and she gave me a quizzical look and asked why not.  I will freely admit I didn’t know exactly how to put it, since I don’t believe in the concept of “bad” words, merely words that are inappropriate to some circumstances and company. I told her that many people, including me, thought that word was not appropriate for a young lady of her age to be using and that she would need to stop saying it.

A few weeks later she approached me again, and this time asked just what exactly, the word “sexy” meant. After taking a very deep breath, I began to tell her about how babies were made, in terms a six-year-old would understand. As I recall it was something along the lines of “Mommies and Daddies get really close,” etc. and that the term “sexy” was about that process, which didn’t apply at all to her opinions of something. She understood all this completely and it never came up again until she had “the talk” with her mother a few years later, followed up by many more with both her mother and myself over her teen years. I never forbade her to have sex, I merely explained the natural consequences of it and that those consequences were pretty awful for all concerned, so she’d best think about it before doing it. Her mother also saw to it that she had access to birth control.

I’m not going to go into my daughter’s sex life on this blog, but I will say that she’s not become pregnant nor contracted any STDs as far as I know, and she’s 21. So more information certainly doesn’t lead to promiscuity, at least not for her. But even if she had decided to start banging her boyfriend at age 15, something I would not have been pleased with, it would have been perfectly normal, if unwise. Teens do unwise things all day every day. It’s their nature to push all the limits.  And when we as a society set artificial and unnatural limits on sex, like how they should stay virgins until marriage (gimme a break) it’s natural they will simply push this limit even more.

The very notion of making the act of teens having consensual sex with each other (unwise but quite normal) or playing sexual games like taking dirty pictures of themselves (something only possible because of new technology, and comparativly quite harmless) a criminal offense, is disgusting.

Say what you really mean, you putrid little puritans:

SEX IS DIRTY; YOU SHOULD SAVE IT FOR THE ONE YOU MARRY. And if that message makes sense to you, you have bigger issues than the kids you’d like to put in jail for exploring their sexuality.

Listen to these fools on CNN prattle about how a “dirty” picture is the end of the world.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, education, News & Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sauce For The Goose

Posted by Bill Nance on January 13, 2009

Some humor from RBC:

The incoming Obama Administration confronts the problem of how to deal with the criminal (by domestic as well as international law) infliction of torture by elements of the United States government, with authority coming from the very top, and not merely on important terrorists but on random innocent victims.

While the Bush Administration has no doubt made errors in the course of its valiant attempts to protect us all from Islamofascist terrorists, in one respect it has displayed admirable creativity, from which the Obama Administration could benefit: assuming only that the President-elect is sufficiently generous-minded (as he seems to be) to be willing to learn from adversaries.

I refer to the question of the limits of executive power, or rather the unlimitedness of executive power. To call the legal positions taken by the Bush Administration “creative” would be to undervalue them: “breathtakingly audacious” would be more accurate. But those positions, and the actions taken in accordance with them, now stand as precedent, and the President-elect has expressed his admiration for audacity.

Audacity is certainly called for. Our situation today is historically unique. Not only are we (as the Bush Administration and its supporters tirelessly insist) at war with an enemy so nebulous as to guarantee that the war will have no end, but we confront strong evidence of the existence of a Fifth Column, though not the particular Fifth Column the warhawks predicted.

Every step taken since the Bush Administration took power: ignoring the al-Qaeda problem until the 9/11 attacks, covering up the role of the House of Saud in facilitating those attacks, using the aftermath of those attacks for partisan advantage rather than forming a government of national unity, allowing bin Laden’s escape, failing to establish an effective anti-Taliban coalition in Afghanistan, continuing to prop up Pervez Musharraf despite his strong support for the Islamofascist ISI, failing to secure international support for the invasion of Iraq, invading Iraq, failing to prevent looting in Iraq, disbanding the Iraqi army and most of the civil service in the name of de-Ba’athification, supporting Ahmed Chalabi in his power-lust despite his ties to Iran, staffing the CPA with ignorant young wingnuts instead of professionals, allowing the looting of the CPA by contractors and cooking up legal interpretations to protect them from criminal liability, engaging in torture, failing to cover up the fact that they were engaging in torture — Need I go on? — has tended to weaken this country, and the West, in this existential struggle.

The President-elect should, therefore, as his first official act — indeed, perhaps as part of his Inaugural Address — order the immediate detention of George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, David Addington, and perhaps a few others, at a secret location outside the sovereign U.S., for the purposes of extracting from them evidence of the plot and the identities of the other participants, who can in turn be detained and interrogated to see what they have to say for themselves.

Since most bullies are also cowards, I suspect that the years of maltreatment the Bush Administration inflicted on innocent Afghani peasants to get them to make false confessions will not be necessary to get Bush and his cronies to confess. A month of hypothermia, sleep deprivation, and stress positions, or a few minutes on the waterboard, should suffice. Their confessions will retrospectively justify the interrogations. And of course they cannot be given the right to counsel, since their lawyers would necessarily learn about the interrogation techniques, which are Top Secret Codeword material as intelligence sources and methods, despite the fact that everyone in the world knows what they are. (The techniques are not original: all of them were copied from the Inquisition, the Gestapo, and the KGB.)

Now perhaps some future court might decide that these methods, as applied to people whose status generally makes them “non-torturable,” actually exceeded the President’s powers, even in wartime. But not only would that decision be wrong on its face — since those powers have no limits — but even bringing the case would be wrong. As all our Wise Men agree, no senior official should ever be held legally accountable for actions in the name of national security, no matter how horrible those actions might be.

Posted in humor, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Housekeeping

Posted by Bill Nance on January 12, 2009

I know it’s been mighty damned short on posts lately, and honestly, I apologize.

But tonight it’s certainly time to add a few folks to the blogroll, people I think are often interesting to read, even when I don’t agree with them.

In no particular order:

Tekmage’s Blog

Lookingforlissa

Natalia Anatova

The munchkin wrangler

Skotaku in America

Too Old to Work too Young to Retire

Weer’d World Arrr

TFS Magnum

Welcome one and all to the blog roll!

I’ve met some of these folks and I have to say they’re very nice people and more to the point dear readers,  they have interesting things to say.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Obama Still Sneaking Smokes

Posted by Bill Nance on January 10, 2009

From 23/6:

Bringing hope and change is stressful stuff, and if courting emphysema helps President Obama fix the economy and tame Pakistan, then he should light up. In fact, we believe the Surgeon General should designate a special warning just for Obama.

Posted in Barack Obama, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Best Description of the Gaza Conflict

Posted by Bill Nance on January 7, 2009

This cartoon pretty well sums it all up.

Posted in International, israel, News & Analysis, Politics | Leave a Comment »