Thursday, November 30, 2006

More San Francisco stuff

Yeah, I just can't believe the alienation that people have from San Francisco. Last time I was there I had a nice dinner in an Italian restaurant in North Beach then hit City Lights to see what I could find. I like North Beach a lot. The Haight is its own thing but is pretty commercialized at this point while North Beach, where the Beats lived, is still pretty much a traditional Italian and Chinese neighborhood, with all of the commercialism pushed upwards to Fisherman's Wharf. Fisherman's Wharf sucks. It's all commercial and is where all the tourists go. Interestingly enough there aren't that many tourists in North Beach. I don't know why this is. My real love, though, in the Bay Area is Berkeley.

I absolutely love the place. So nice. Unfortunately so expensive to live as well. Ah...

This brings me to another San Francisco/Mars analogy. Here in the Seattle area the main military installation, besides the naval base in Bremerton, is a place called Ft. Lewis, which is south of Tacoma. Ft. Lewis has two bridges over I-5. the main highway up and down the west coast, that people from the base tie yellow ribbons on, at the posts connecting the hand rails to the bridge itself, to commemorate the soldiers who have died in Iraq. So far so good. But, one of the streets crossing over I-5 is named Berkeley St. This rubbed some people the wrong way and so they petitioned for the bridge itself to be renamed the 'Freedom Bridge'. Now, there's a sign saying 'Berkeley St.' and a sign a little lower down saying 'Freedom Bridge'. It makes you wonder what exactly is so offensive about Berkeley that this could piss people off in this way.

Is it the Ethiopian food? Or the nice bookstores? How about the UC campus? The Greek Theater? Health food stores? Sari shops? The fact that over thirty years ago it was a hub of anti-war and, to some degree, counter culture activity? The Haight was the center of that, Berkeley was more political from everything I've read, so that's a little inaccurate.

What do the people at Ft. Lewis have against the UC Bears? Inquiring minds want to know. I think the whole thing is so absurd that it's almost beyond comment. Shows how hermetically sealed some people are up there so that even the abstract thought about Berkeley and its associations is enough to set off alarm bells. Like Freedom Fries. Can't have French Fries because of the French.

Freedom Bridge; Conservatives are from Mars liberals are from San Francisco; I can't fathom it. This level of being upset at abstractions is the kind of thing that makes people turn in their neighbors for having anti-Bush stuff in their house, under the pretence that it's some kind of threat in some way. There was actually a case where this happened; actually, now that I think of it, the police were called to this girl's house, in Virginia I believe, and saw an anti-Bush poster and then called the Secret Service. The paranoia is the same in both scenarios.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dems from San Francisco, conservatives from Mars

The title of a new book, which, yes, has the premise that being from Mars is more reasonable than being from San Francisco.

Let me ask you this: do you think that part of the reason that we're in the mess we are in Iraq right now is that Bush's rhetoric resonated with people who are so far out of touch with the mainstream that they believe that another planet is closer to their understanding than the Bay Area is?

I'm glad you answered yes to that question, hopefully.

Because the kind of mentality that demonizes San Francisco to that extent probably cannot view anything happening in Iraq, or 9/11 for that matter, with any sort of objectivity whatsoever. They probably just feel that "Let's kill some brown people" is a good foreign policy objective.

That these people shouldn't be determining our goverment's path is something that should be acknowledged.

Let's return the U.S. to the mainstream of world opinion, a spectrum that views the United States as very, very, far to the right.

If people are hard on these folks, those god fearing Americans that approve of torture and of bombing countries that had nothing to do with 9/11, of using brute force to get even for 9/11 just to make a good feeling in their hearts, it's because these people are totally psychotic and would be recognized as such if they lived anywhere else in the world.

People object to the use of the word 'fascist', but these people would find their home in Le Pen's National Front, the Vlaams Bloc in Belgium, or the Danish Volks Partei, not to mention the shadow world between conservative Tories and the British National Party in the UK. That's extremist to the point of fascist. If the policies fit you must...call it what it is.

Just because it's Am-ur-ee-can and homegrown doesn't mean it's not offensive to far more reasonable world standards.

Black leaders want rappers, others to stop using 'n word'

When it comes to African Americans themselves using the word, Russel Simons of def Comedy jam said a very enlightening thing not that long ago: that it's ok for blacks to use the word because it's always been politically incorrect to be black in America.

Economic contractions

It looks like the U.S. economy is undergoing some sorely needed contractions. Our balance of trade is really messed up, our balance of payments depends on investment that in itself is dependent on rapidly declining industry. Our currency is very overvalued. Something has to happen. It looks like what's happening is that the value of the dollar is falling and the housing bubble is bursting, which will no doubt wreck havoc but will help return the economy to a healthy balance.

What the contraction of the value of the dollar will do is to spur investment in American industry because the price of imports will rise.

On the downside this will be very bad in the short term for the most vulnerable of America's citizens.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lost my hard drive

Things have gone from bad to worse. The company I took my computer to threw out my hard drive and replaced it without telling me what they were doing. The only recourse open to me is a law suit against them for damages. Seattleites, let me give you a piece of advice, never, ever, ever take your computer to a prominently placed store on 45th street in the University District, very near the exit. They will fuck you over and take joy in doing it. I'm sure with a google map search or a telephone directory search you can find out who I'm talking about, but I won't say their name here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What I've been doing

In the absence of regular computer access. That would be reading the book "Physics and consciousness" by E.H. Walker. It differs from many books on the subject in that Walker is a physics Ph.D., has published over a hundred papers on physics in journals, is, in other words, the real thing.

That said, it's one of those books where if everything is true then the consequences are earth shattering; if 2/3rds of it is true, then the consequences still are earth shattering.

Basically, he provides a model of the brain that works up from quantum mechanical events at the neural synapses to create consciousness. Consciousness is the coordination of the billions of quantum mechanical events going on in the synapses across the brain. Consciousness, then, is based on quantum indeterminancy, the idea that it's impossible to know what a particle will do before it's observed. The synapses are, in effect, the observor. The consciousness is able to influence the very events that give rise to consciousness. It's hard to summarize. One big thing is that there are inherent limitations on what sorts of things that we can see with our quantum filter, and another is that mind is in a sense non-local, i.e. that because of a phenomenon known as entanglement, particles from a single source, even if separated, can switch to the same state upon observation, if they haven't been observed before.

What's interesting are the possible consequences. Like this: if the brain is quantumly hard wired to think in a certain way, yet retains the determinancy necessary to be adaptable, for consciousness to be adaptable, what would it look like if the consciousnes came into contact with a brain and a consciousness set up in a totally different way from our own?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Still here

Computer had a little bit of a malfunction, is being fixed.

Well, how about that election?

One of the funniest moments was the day after when Bush reassured the people of Iraq that things wouldn't fall apart now that the Democrats had won. This reveals how partisan a policy he's been pushing. Anyways, the cat is out of the bag, the game is up, people don't like the President and they don't like his policies.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

WACL/WLFD update II

At one time Roger Pearson was the chairman of the World Anti-Communist League, before they forced him out for being too fascist. Pearson, in the words of Wiki:

"Pearson also held the directorship of the Institute for the Study of Man, a group which received $869,500 between 1981 and 1996 from the Pioneer Fund (Mehler 1998) and which under Pearson acquired the peer-reviewed journal Mankind Quarterly in 1978. [1] Pearson simultaneously took over as editor and has remained editor through to the present day, though his name has never appeared on the masthead. [2] Pearson has used diverse pseudonyms to contribute to the journal including, J.W. Jamieson. Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele's advisor, Otmar von Verschuer, was on the editorial advisory board of this journal before his death in 1970. The institute also prints the Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies and the Journal of Indo-European Studies and has the Scott-Townsend book imprint. In the editing of the Journal of Indo-European Studies he is assisted by JP Mallory."

He is, accorind to Wiki:"Roger Pearson (born 1927) is a British eugenics advocate and editor of several scholarly journals published by the Institute for the Study of Man.

Originally from Great Britain, in 1958 Pearson founded the Northern League "to foster the interests, friendship and solidarity of all Teutonic nations." He recruited Hans G√ľnther, who received awards under the National Socialist regime for his work on race, Ernest Cox of the Ku Klux Klan, and Dr. Wilhelm Kesserow, a former SS officer.

He joined the Eugenics Society in 1963 and became a fellow in 1977.

Pearson was brought to the United States in 1965 by Willis Carto, founder of the neo-fascist Institute for Historical Review (a Holocaust denial group) and the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby, which publishes the weekly Spotlight newspaper.
In 1977, he joined the editorial board of Policy Review, the monthly Heritage Foundation publication in 1977. The Coors Connection notes in a caption under an illustration of Pearson's Eugenics And Race: "Dr. Roger Pearson's racialist theories are circulated worldwide by neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations." (Bellant 1989)"

Important is that apparantly Pearson brought Wilhelm Landig into the World Anti-Communist League. Landig was an SS officer who went on to fame that you can find out about by googling his name. He's listed as a cultural figure by Anderson in relation to the WACL.

WACL/WLFD update

Well, I have some news on some of the stuff covered in Scott Anderson's "Inside the League". The first thing is mainly conjecture; I have very little evidence to back it up besides an article from a newspaper in Taipei, Taiwan. And that is that I think, based on the fact that they were named as having met with the World League for Freedom and Democracy, formerly the World Anti-Communist League, that the National Committee on American Foreign Policy is likely the new WLFD/WACL affiliate for the United States. The League doesn't have direct membership so you have to belong to an organization that is affiliated with them. Groups can disaffiliate or be disaffiliated by the larger group. Currently, the League is very secretive about what organizations consitute it, besides the Asian Peoples' Anti-Communist League, which is very openly part of it. I could be totally wrong on this and something else, like the Council on National Policy could be the current affiliate. But the NCAFP is also honoring John Poindexter, who played a huge role in Iran Contra. No organization in the U.S. would want to be publicly affiliated with it because all you have to do is do a Google search of WACL to find the unedited history of the group. Yet a national chapter for the U.S. does exist, with evidence being none other that the one site that the WLFD website links to is a right wing site dealing with U.S. affairs, that I believe isn't the chapter itself but a front group.

Anyways, an organization that was in fact disaffiliated with the WACL/WLFD in the eighties some time is still around. This is the Tecos in Mexico. They're a secret, anti-semitic, society founded by a Mexican who was diplomatically assigned to Nazi Germany during the War. They control a private university in Guadalajara called the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. And the Tecos are also a paramilitary gang that taught methods of torture and unconventional warfare to Central American death squad leaders. The Guadalajara University is a recruiting ground for them. The presence of the Tecos is so open that I found, on the web, an orientation document from the UAG that specifically outlines what the Tecos are and what their history is, passing over the whole anti-semitism and death squad thing to portray it as something that instills in people a sense of faith and devotion to the nation. Search on google the following terms: guadalajara tecos muerte, and you'll find the document, in Spanish. Have Google translate it for you and you'll see it. Note that the 'muerte', or 'death', which just appears incidentally in the document, is necessary to sift out real Tecos information from information on their futbol team, also named the Tecos, or 'Owls'.

Another Tecos resource is a guy in Mexico who has a couple of Blogs on Blogger who, also in Spanish, has documented them extensively, reproducing a document called the "Complot contra la iglesia" or "Plot Against the Church", that the Tecos circulated at the Vatican II conference and that outlined the Vatican as being controlled by a 'Jew, Freemason, and Marxist' conspiracy. That's what the Tecos are like!

The Tecos, founded by the Nazi Cuesta Gallarda mentioned above, drew inspiration from a common source as the Argentine anti-semitic terrorist group the Tacuaros or MNRT: Julio Mienvielle, who has a website dedicated to his works.

Here's a garbled quote, translated by Google: "“To be great in the sexual greatness of Babylonia they could be it, if, but like crew members of the Judaism. Because the Jews dominate in the sexual thing…. (of) which the greatness of English Capitalism and there American is not but that a judaica creation.”


In other words, in Meinvielle's mind Jews are sexual, economically motivated beings who created English capitalism and American society.

Translation, from the commentator who did found the quote: "The sexual thing is the politician, the economy and the Jew. The fight between spiritual and the sexual one are expressed by the fight between the catholicism and the Judaism that are both universal ways. In this Meinvielle point it comes up to the gentile towns about the danger to fall in the temptation to play the sexual game."

The website, in Spanish, is Here

Here's a Tacuaros research link page, all in Spanish: Link

So this is what the Tecos are associated with, down in their university in Guadalajara.

In other news the Ukrainian fascist organization the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/Bandera, referring to the particular faction of it, which participated in the WACL/WLFD, is active again in the Ukraine under its real name. The OUN/B collaborated with the Nazis, particularly the SS, during the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine, and some of the participants joined the foreign section of the SS and served as concentration camp guards in Poland. Now it's listed in Wikipedia as being a member of Victor Yuschenko's coalition. The opposition stated that Yuschenko had support from anti-semites and skinheads, something that was brushed aside in the media as being propaganda. Well...

In some ways the "Inside the League" book dovetails very well with Russ Bellant's "Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party", put out by 'Public Eye', because that deals with survivors of the OUN/B living in the U.S. as well as other organizations, organized through the now defunct Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, like the Romanian Iron Guard, organized by Valerian Trifa in the U.S. and Canada, and the survivors of the Ustashe from Croatia, now living in Argentina and the U.S., and Australia, who also participated in the World Anti Communist League, now known as the World League for Freedom and Democracy.

All this is according to Bellant and Scott Anderson in their respective books. I'm just repeating it.

There's also the interesting case of the Political Warfare Cadres Academy in Taipei, Taiwan, that trained select officers in the Central American right wing paramilitaries. If someone knows Chinese and can search the web for the equivalent I'm sure they'll find it.

Back to the Nazis. The WACL/WLFD, Anderson states, was where the initial links were formed between the Fascists in exile and the Central American right wing paramilitaries, who recieved training from the ex-Nazis, some of whom were already working as security consultants for dictatorships in South America. According to Anderson as well, the WACL/WLFD was the site of the networking that hatched a plan for intelligence agencies to keep track of liberal clergy in Latin America and then take action against them, in the form of abduction, torture, and assasination. Like Archbishop Romero of El Salvador.

Hmm...the only thing I'm leaving out is that there's an interesting history to the fate of one of the organizations associated with the WACL, the Western Goals Foundation. It went to England as the Western Goals Institute and became progressively more and more fascist before actually being expelled from the WLFD in the '90s. Before then it was England's chapter of the WLFD. In England it networked with Le Pen's National Front and the Conservative Party of South Africa, which is a hardline breakaway from the apartheid National Party of South Africa.

Western Goals Institute Wiki


That's about it. By going to their website, http://www.wlfd.org , you can click on the "About the WLFD" and see a list of officers. Many have Asian names, and can be assumed to be either Taiwanese or Korean, something that makes searching for information about them hard, but three have European names. One of the is a Swiss member of Parliament, one is an Australian member of Parliament. I couldn't find enough info on the third guy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just to clarify....

In the Diamond Dogs song "Boys" doesn't refer to actual boys but to men in general, a term like in "I'd rather be with the boys than be with you", like the equivalent of "going out with the girls". "Putting Pain in a stranger" doesn't refer to non-consensual sex. The whole "I'm glad that you're older than me" thing is meant to be endearing not to imply anything more.

As Margaret Cho once said, if you're not able to [have sex] with who you want, when you get an opportunity you go at it (paraphrase)

Ok, lashing out is not healthy

But it feels good sometimes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Settling accounts

There was a guy from ABC that angrily replied to a post where I said the reporter, on ABC, didn't know shit about the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites. He asked if I wanted the terrorists to win and proceded to call me and this site a virus.

Well, Poglavnik*, what are you saying now? Now that the Democrats have won? A little bit different now, isn't it? There's a new sheriff in charge, boy-o, and you know very well that your organization is going to be changing, the toadies that they are.

How does it feel, how does it taste? How does a Democrat win taste, Mr. "I'm a virus"?

* Google "Poglavnik". It referred to Ante Pavelic in Croatia during World War II.

Political Orgasms

Sung in a sultry voice. This is a gay song by a bisexual man so don't take it in ways it isn't intended....

"It's safe in the city, to love in a doorway, to wrangle some screams from the door. And isn't it neat? Putting pain in a stranger, like a portrait in flesh, trails on a leash, Will you see? That I'm scared and I'm lonely, so I break up my room and yawn and run to the center of things, where the knowing one says

Boys, boys, it's a sweet thing, Boys, Boys it's a sweet thing sweet thing. If you want it, boys, get it here thing. Cause hope, boys, is a cheap thing cheap thing.

I'm glad that you're older than me, it makes me feel important and free does that make you smile isn't that neat?

I'm in your way and I'll steal every moment. If this train is a curse then I'll bless you turn to the crossroads and hamburgers.

Boys, boys, it's a sweet thing. If you want it, boys, get it here thing. 'cause hope, boys, is a cheap thing cheap thing.

....

I'll make you a deal, like any other candidate, you'll pretend we're walking home because your future's at stake, my scent is amazing it even smells like a street, there's a bar at the end where I can meet you and your friend. Someone scrawled on the walls about the blood and the tree cutters, wrote up scandals in other bars. Having so much fun with the poisonous people spreading rumors and lies and stories they made up. Some make you sing and some make you scream one makes you wish that you've never been seen but there's a shop on the corner that's selling papier mache making bullet proof faces Charlie Manson, Cassious Clay.

If you want it, boys, get it here thing.

So you scream out of line saying "I want you! I need you! Anyone out there? Any time?" trade whistling on the wine, honey I want you I need you, when it's good it's really good when it's bad I go to pieces.

If you want it, boys, get it here thing.

On the street where you live I couldn't hold up my head before I put all I had in another man, on another floor in a back of a car in a cellar like a church with the door torn. Well I guess we must be looking for a different kind but we can't stop trying until we break up our minds until the sun drips hard on the seedy young night to bless you on the ground while shaking in fright. I'll guess we can cruise down one more time, with you by my side it should be fine. We'll buy some drugs and watch a band and jump in a river holding hands.

....


If you want it, boys, get it here thing....'cause hope, boys, is a cheap thing, cheap thing.

Is it nice in your snow storm, freezing your brain, do you think that your face looks the same? Then let it be-e-e! It's all I ever wanted, it's a street with a deal and a taste it's got balls it's got me it's got you...
"

That was "Sweet thing---Candidate---Sweet Thing (Reprise)" by David Bowie, from "Diamond Dogs". It's sort of my paen to personal freedom, although in these days of AIDS it isn't too smart to re-enact it, unfortunately. Neither is it safe to "buy some drugs and watch a band". But, c'est la vie. It's still a good song about freedom, sexual and otherwise.

I put it up there because it feels like I've had a political orgasm. Shit, it hasn't been this good in a long time (he says as he lights a cigarette).

Time to change the tone!

The Diamond Dogs

For some reason that David Bowie song is going through my head. I think that the reason is that it portrays a blasted out yet decadent world, post-apocalyptic but with people still having a good time in the post-apocalypse, emerging from the rebel and partying,

That's what I feel like. The rubble of the past five years feels like it's actually clearing and that I can emerge, personally, from the shadows again, from this national nightmare that's fucked up my life, and get back to what I was doing before all this shit happened.

Sanity has returned, and I feel like I've emerged from Dr. Caligari's cabinet.

Of course what I was doing before 9/11 was trying to be a progressive activist, so....there's a difference between living in a country where the life is slowly being sucked out of it and trying to be a progressive activist and doing so when the people are clearly on your side.

Fuck you, Mr. Bush.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dems win house and Senate, or, the American return to sanity act of 2006

Technically they haven't won the Senate at this point in time but that's because Conrad Burns has decided to stonewall and because the people in Virginia have gone to bed.

Thesis-Antithesis-Further thesis in response.


That's what the dialectic originally was

Thesis: 9/11

Antithesis: The Bush response

Further Thesis superceding the previous term (the antithesis): Democrats winning.

Translation: 9/11 happened, the Bush administration reacted and now, finally, we're reacting to the reaction instead of being trapped in the original response interminably.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

FDD helped revive the Committee on the Present Danger

Link to CPD. Extremist rightwing group formed against Communism in the '80s, now anti-terrorist.

From the FDD website: "Growing the Pro-Democracy Policy Community

FDD helped to revive the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), which successfully fought the spread of communism during the Cold War, to act as a separate brand in the fight against terrorism. Its bipartisan leaders include Senator Joe Lieberman, former Secretary of State George Shultz, Senator Jon Kyl, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. FDD and CPD have run a number of joint conferences targeted at the Washington policy community, worked together to produce research papers on crucial topics such as energy security and Iran, and cooperated to highlight the fate of leading Arab and Muslim dissidents oppressed by their governments.
"

That's at About FDD, which also features this little tidbit: "Training Campus Anti-Terrorism Advocates

At a time when college campuses are under the sway of apologists for terrorism, FDD has trained hundreds of professors and students as pro-democracy, anti-terrorism advocates and activists. A key part of the training is an intensive fellowship program in Israel and Washington, D.C., examining how democracies defend themselves from terrorism. We also run a separate U.S.-based program that trains professors in how to teach about terrorism. As a result of our training, professors have launched new courses on terrorism and students have held hundreds of on-campus events and registered hundreds of media appearances. FDD students have gone on to jobs in the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the military, the Peace Corps, and the White House and have won Fulbright and Truman scholarships to continue their studies."

And this: "Producing Documentary Films and Radio Programs

FDD produces media projects for both television and radio. FDD won a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to develop a PBS documentary on terrorism. FDD also launched a weekly radio show, Danger Zone, to highlight the contribution of those defending America's security."


Scary stuff if you read "Inside the League" and realize what the connections are between the former World Anti-Communist League and the FDD. The WACL is now the World League for Freedom and Democracy, as outlined in the previous post.

Very important post--I'm going to say this very carefully

Despite being election day, a tense and nervous day, I'm reading a book called "Inside the League" by Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson. It's about the World Anti-Communist League. According to the authors it was a coordinating group for rightwing death squads in Central America and elsewhere during the '80s. It still exists. Its name is now the "World League for Freedom and Democracy" , WLFD homepage

The page is spare but it does include one link to something called the "Foundation For Defense of Democracies", Foundation For Defense of Democracies Homepage, which has a lot of information on it and has as its founding statement this :"About the Foundation
Who We Are

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) is the only nonpartisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism.
FDD was founded shortly after 9/11 by a group of visionary philanthropists and policymakers to engage in the worldwide war of ideas and to support the defense of democratic societies under assault by terrorism and Militant Islamism.

FDD uniquely combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism training, strategic communications, and investigative journalism. We focus our efforts where opinions are formed and, ultimately, where the war of ideas will be won or lost: in the media, on college campuses, and in the policy community, at home and abroad."

Considering that the League functioned as an almost Fascist International, and not of tiny groups that were isolated but of people who had participated in Fascist movements during World War II, that the World Communist League changed its name to the World League for Freedom and Democracy, and that this is the only substantial site it lists on its links page....well, you can draw what conclusions you will, but keep a fucking eye on the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

I'm not going to say what I think about it, but you can probably infer it. Read Scott Anderson's book and then make the decision about whether or not this is just a nice little charity founded by "visionary philanthropists".

Friday, November 03, 2006

Well, now I've seen everything: Military editorials to demand Rumsfeld resignation

The link above is to an editorial that is set to run Monday in The Army Times, The Marine Corps Times, The Navy Times, and The Air Force Times. It's entitled "Time for Rumsfeld to go"

" But until recently, the "hard bruising" truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington. One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples"

That's the first full paragraph of the editorial, following a quote and an explanation of the quote that referenced 'hard bruising truth' in relation to the Korean war.

This is the editorial that's going to be in The Army Times, The Marine Corps Times, The Navy Times, and The Air Force Times, on the day before the election. Holy shit.

Time to pass the beer and buy some chips, and vote, because it looks like this juggernaut is starting to get off the ground.

As an example of the below consider Padilla

Who is alleging that he was fed either LSD or PCP, and for all we know some as yet unknown drug, during his detention. If his allegations are true then this would definitely cross the line into unacceptable behavior, no matter what the potential gains might be. Considering the nature of both drugs it's likely they'd just make someone in detention crazy rather than elicit information. But even if they did, consider this scenario: the use of drugs like LSD is approved as ok to use on prisoners being held in special confinement; if this is ok why not then give people a drug that makes them vomit, not severely but bad enough, for a short period of time and tell them that either they tell the people what they need or they're going to keep on giving them this stuff until they do?

I think most people would recognize that as torture. It's the same principle. The fact that the things Padilla thinks were given to him are like street drugs is a smokescreen; it makes you think that it's not serious when it's dead serious, in fact.

Whatever gains may be gotten by feeding Padilla LSD aren't worth the cost to him as a human being.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Here's a supporting quote for the preceding post

From Gilman Ostrander's book "The Rights of Man in America"

Dealing with John Winthrop, governor of Massachusets, Ostrander says "Natural liberty, he said, reduces man to the level of animals. Civil liberty [quoting Winthrop] 'is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority; it is if the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free... if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your own good' " (Ostrander, 41)

So...that position was overthrown, but it wasn't overthrown by people spontaneously realizing that that was a good idea. It was overthrown because it was recognized that that position wasn't compatible with a society that was self governing, with self government contributing to social justice in society and whatever gains could be made by that sort of submission to authority weren't enough to offset the injustice done by denying that.

The Bush equation and the progression of Rights

"It's a shame they make us do that"

So went the response to a street corner protest of the war on Iraq that I was a part of. There had been an exchange about the sanctions that had cost the lives of many, many, Iraqi children in the years since the first Gulf War. His reasoning was the same as that which President Bush has put forward about why we have secret CIA prisons, about why Guantanamo bay exists, why the Army uses torture, why the PATRIOT Act is in place. But the idea that external circumstances make us go backwards on rights contradicts the whole history of the evolution of rights in the West.

Once, torture was standard. Once, the government could do what it wanted to whom it wanted with only a few constitutional constraints. Once, the government could arrest people without reason. But over the centuries in the West all of these things were taken down. Torture was abolished, the government was not only constrained but actually chosen by the people, and the rights of people against unjust arrest were asserted. The thing is that none of these rights came about in a vacuum. There were people who believed that torture was just, who believed that a strong government headed by a charismatic figure was necessary for order, who believed that it was better to arrest people without good reason if there was a suspicion that they had done something wrong.

And the reasons that they gave then were probably not that different from the reasons that are being given now. The rights that we know today didn't come about through people abstractly proposing them and everyone dancing around appreciating the insightfullness of the proposals. They came about against all of the ideas that had justified torture, that had justified unrestrained government power, that had justified unreasonable arrest. And the reasoning was that despite the arguments pro that it was a necessary evil to tolerate the possibility that someone might get away with not telling something that had been gotten through coercion, the possibility of disorder reigning because of lack of a strong government power, and the possibility that guilty men and women might get away if constraints were put on the power to arrest them, all of these reforms were necessary in order to live in a just and good society.

Divine right used to be justified by the theory that everyone and everything had its place, that the king was on the top of society and that from him downwards emanated the power and the authority that kept everyone in line and away from doing things that they shouldn't, with the argument being that without a strong central authority society would collapse into chaos.

Torture was viewed not only as a means to extract information but also as the just deserves for criminals convicted of, depending on the time frame, anything from small offenses to being the wrong faith to doing really bad things. But it was advanced in England at the turn of the 19th century that the standard should be what keeps society safe not pure retribution that should be the standard, with safety entailing keeping dangerous people away from society and reforming them. The argument between retributive justice and harm reduction still rages today but even the most retributive person, fascists excluded, thinks that there are certain things that it's not okay to do to someone in retaliation for what they've done to others. That not many people would advocate cutting someone's arm off in public and then pouring hot oil onto the wound is evidence of that. This is something that in extreme cases used to be done. Or doing the same things with people's ears, or piercing someone's tongue with a hot poker. No matter what the facile arguments are about making criminals pay versus not employing harsh penalties there are certain things that don't even get mentioned, and the reason is because reformers have made the case that, despite what satisfaction that it might give to certain people, there are a class of punishments that go too far.

Its always a trade off. People will always say that torture is most efficacious, that a strong central government, without the hampering influence of an opposition, can 'get things done', that it's better to arrest those suspected of wrong doing than to give them the benefit of the doubt, even if the police can't produce hard evidence that there's reason to arrest them.

But the progression of rights has shown that it's not because "They make us do that" but despite our inclinations to do it not doing it that creates a just society.

Anything else creates true barbarism.

Bush admin politicizing Saddam verdict

By having it be released the day before the election. Tony Snow says that this is to show that Iraq is going how the President says it is but to paraphrase, one verdict does not a victory make.

Ok, Kerry not Vietnam deluded

He is an elitist from Mass. but that doesn't change the fact that, unlike in the past, we have an issue to run on that is counter to theirs: Iraq. We need to be pushing Iraq all the way and ignore Kerry's remarks. Keep pushing the scandals, keep pushing the scandals, and people will look at the Democrats as being strong and not being reactive. And the Democrats will win using that strategy. Don't give up at the last hour.

As David Bowie says: "When it's good it's really good and when it's bad I go to pieces". Don't be bad on this.

Kerry comments, the election

***update. Now looking at the exact comments it looks like it was directed at Bush, but I still think Vietnam era thinking had a large part to do with the formulation of it.***

I think Kerry's comments were stupid. He should have known better. The example he used was from the Vietnam era, where people got deferments for education, and didn't reflect the reality of an all volunteer army that we have today. In today's world, with no deferments and no draft, to say that people without education go to the army is to say that stupid people go into the army.

The Republicans are going to turn this into the issue, at least for a little while, and make it emblamatic of the entire election. How this incident becomes emblematic is something that the Democrats should pay attention to. There are too many people and sites that just look at the rationality of it without looking at the symbolic level, which is a little like focussing on the technical issues of the Foley case and not seeing what the greater, more general, implications of it are.

The emblematic content is this: Democrats are elitists who don't care about you. Simple as that. There's a culture war going on and they're saying that Democrats are not only filthy liberals but they're metropolitan elitists. Even if people don't believe in the filthy liberal part they might still be swayed by the "they don't care about me" argument and resist voting for Kerry. But culture war politics have got to stop.

Why? Because of Iraq. Hopefully people will find that the issue of the Iraq war is more important than the culture war, temporarily put it behind them, and vote democrat. The Iraq war is a cause that trumps the culture war objectively, not just subjectively, and provides a counterpoint that wasn't there during the Clinton scandals. If I was the Democrats I would push the war as much as I could in the next week and forget about directly rebutting what Kerry said, unless to say it wasn't against regular people but was a Vietnam era reference.

They need a positive response to it but not one that plays into the hands of right wing pundits.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"We could be heroes"

If just for one day...

a lyric by David Bowie. Maybe I'm exagerrating.

This election could be good, unless a terrorist attack happens before the election in which case we're fucked.

But what I'm afraid of beyond that is that the very success that the Democrats are having at the moment could be their undoing. I'm afraid that at some point all the scandals will provoke a backlash by the right and by right wing voters that will lead to them getting out to the polls in huge numbers, thereby invalidating the Democrats' potential win.

Really, though, the Bush administration has got to go. There's never been an administration that's so effectively used to mass media to promote one message that it doesn't deviate from for the American people, never been an administration that's cut off accomodation to dissent by stonewalling over and over. The one message, the stonewalling, which also reflects an outward sentiment held by much of the American people, has to be broken for the sake of democracy and for the sake of the rest of the world.

It has to happen. This is the end of American supremacy; the American economic model is going down, we're losing power to other competitors around the globe, and the Iraq war and the admin's sabre rattling and rhetoric are desperate attempts to keep a sinking ship, our place in the world order, from falling. Falling would mean equality with Europe and maybe Japan, possibly in another few years China as well. That would not be so bad. In fact, like penetrating the message shell of the administration the survival of the rest of the world depends on the U.S. being disempowered and reduced in global stature. From greenhouse gass to the promotion of globalization, to standing in the way of all advances in global human rights, the U.S. is a threat to the peace and to the prosperity and advancement of the rest of the world's people at this moment.

All empires, when they fall, resort to these tricks, but the U.S. population has no idea what's going on. They think that the era of U.S. supremacy has just started when really the end is in sight.

The era from Reagan's ascendency to the present has been one moment politically. Some might argue that Carter prefigured it, but although he might have done so economically the political ideology that we've been living with has been that of Reagan's. Clinton never really challenged it with his liberal respite, something that partially opened up the country but which hamstrung it with centrism on all issues, plus an "end of ideology" mode of thought that fit in well with the Reaganite way of thinking.

This election might change that, might bring that era to an end, and it has to end. Just as the American empire has been falling, since the mid '70s, the conservative Reaganite ideology has been the ideology of that fall. Bush is just the most skilled manipulator of it. But he's played an end game. To break up both the ideological pretensions of the current Bush administration plus the greater Reaganite ideology that has been predominating for twenty six years, plus withdrawing from Iraq and recognizing limits to our own power, would open up the arena for true progressive change. There'd be no other way out. Bush's end game has almost guaranteed it. Where do we go after Bush and the 9/11 ideology are compromised? After patriotism is discredited there can only be domestic issues and progressive international issues to look at.

I wonder about the Burqas in Afghanistan

How they came into being. Veiling isn't prescribed by Islam, only dressing modestly. The veils, where they exist, are local traditions that have carried over. So how did Afghanistan get to burqas?

My totally uninformed opinion, because I haven't studied Afghanistan, is that if there's a real emphasis on concealing women and a fierce tribal society, women have burqas because they're very jealously valued by their husbands and relatives. They are in a sense valuable commondities and in a chaotic warring situation they have to be kept out of the public eye so that they don't get abducted or have retribution visited on them.

This doesn't sanction the burqa but it at least provides an answer beyond Islam to why they exist and are required by Afghan society.

If this explanation holds any water the answer to it is also simple: create a safe, stable, society without intertribal war and the burqa will more easily come off.