Posts Tagged ‘War’

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility will remain open because Congress says so in the latest Defense spending bill (ht JM Ashby at BobCesca.com).   Our The stupid twats and despicable lawmakers  are saying that the Administration is not allowed to transfer the detainees to American soil for criminal prosecution.  The far left will be blaming the President for not closing it in spite of the fact that he legally can’t do so–actually, they’ve been doing this for years so it will only continue, just in greater volume.  And the right will be crowing about how he has broken yet another campaign promise.

First of all, Congress is afraid that these “baddest of the bad, and worst of the worst” will break out of Federal Max security prisons.  This so dumb it beggars belief.  I’m very familiar with those facilities and their security procedures.  This is not and never will be a concern.  We’ve kept MUCH more dangerous people in those facilities with nary a problem.

Second, the idea that this country accepts the denial of habeas corpus rights to detainees (technically we don’t call them prisoners, which is exactly what they are, war prisoners) so long as they aren’t on our soil is a distinction without a  difference.   Out of sight means out of mind I guess.  In WWII the prisoners were kept in camps right in our cities.  As a child my father used to go talk to Italian war prisoners through a prison camp fence in Charleston, SC.  It makes it much harder to deny these people justice when we don’t have to see their suffering.

Third, the fact that these people are even considered detainees or even war prisoners was and is a colossal mistake.  We should have treated them as criminals, arrested them as such and prosecuted them as such.

Unfortunately, since so many of the detainees rights have been violated and FSM knows how much of the evidence against them has been obtained (i.e., via coercion plus unreliable or secret sources who are unavailable or unable to be present at trial for testimony) the odds of actually getting a conviction in an honest criminal court might be impossible. So all that poisonous fruit will come back to haunt the prosecutors. I blame effing Bush and Co. If they’d handled this properly in the criminal courts to begin with, we wouldn’t be worried about all this kind of crap. I consider myself an expert on our Criminal Justice system (I’m also Queen of the world in my own tiny mind but I digress) and the choice to use military force against Al Qaeda, essentially a criminal enterprise, will go down as one of the worst mistakes in U.S. history. And how often do you see anyone on the teevees or press making this larger and crucial point. We used to be a gold standard in liberty and due process (at least compared with the majority of nations) but not anymore and it’s all because of the idiotic, never ending “war on terror” and the bullshite of renditions and Guantanamo. We STILL haven’t learned the big lesson here and we never will at this rate.

Okay, rant over.

The media, both left and right, seem to be in a tizzy because the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that hypothetically the President could authorize drones to kill Americans on American soil. Here are some salient questions we should all be asking ourselves:

  • This power is new…..how?
  • Why are drones different from any other killing machine?
  • Why has it been okay to give this power under previous Presidents but not this one?
  • If we’re so concerned why don’t we get Congress to limit the Executive Branch’s war powers since that is the best and longest lasting protection we can hope for?

Apparently Mistermix over at Balloon Juice agrees…..

I don’t understand why using drones to kill an American is any different from using a helicopter, tank, fighter jet, humvee or some other conveyance to deliver deadly force. If Congress doesn’t like the way the President could use force on Americans within our borders, I believe there’s something called the “war power” that can be used to limit it. But instead we get a green eggs and ham discussion (from a drone? on a plane? in a train? from a car? on a bike? from a trike?) and intimations of a grim meathook future “where Predator drones are roaming American skies looking for American citizens to strike at, regardless of the reason” from serious conservatives like Mataconis, just because a new killing machine has been invented. We’ve got plenty of killing machines, so how about we concentrate on regulating the killing?

A list of some news items that caught my attention.

  • The DOJ issued an internal memo laying out the legal justification for killing American citizens using drones and NBC got a hold of it.  I’ve been ambivalent about drones (not a supporter, just ambivalent).  But this shows that the White House has established a policy that American citizens who are considered to be enemies of the U.S. because the aid and abet terrorists groups that are trying to harm the U.S. can be targeted because we are at war.  Unfortunately, the War on Terror is not a finite thing and therein lies the problem.  I support the President on most things but on this, I DO NOT.  Here’s a great article on the nuances of the policy and some recommendations for what should be done.
  • Baby Boomers, folks in their 50’s and early 60’s, were hit harder by the Recession than other age groups, so much so that their average life span has been reduced by three years. But hey, best health care system in the world…..NOT!
  • The Postal Service is ending Saturday mail delivery but do you know why?  Because the Republicans in Congress forced them to pay their retiree health care costs up front in 2006 (something no other agency in federal government has to do) and then later refused to actually fund that expenditure.  So it wasn’t anything the USPS did wrong.  Congress has been trying to kill the USPS for years now.
  • The little boy being held hostage in Alabama was freed by an FBI raid of the bunker.  What you might not know is that the Mother of the boy actually asked the police to do their best not to hurt the kidnapper.  Her reasoning, he was a sick man who needed help.  Now that is a truly empathetic person.
  • Republican factions have begun infighting because one wing is blaming the other for Romney’s loss.  The Karl Roves of the world are squaring up against Tea Party members.  Karl Rove and his supporters represent the Washington insider, the practical Republican who does whatever it takes to win and they expect party obedience.  Tea Party members don’t like to “fall in line” with the party and tend to support candidates that take principled stances (meaning stances that fit into their worldview).   It’s funny, both in an ironic and haha kind of way, that neither wing of the party is looking at their ideas as being rejected by voters, just the way in which they presented those ideas.   So they’re having conferences where consultants are telling Republicans things like never, ever to use the word “rape” again in a public setting.  From their viewpoint, it’s not that so many of them think rape is sometimes justified that turns off female voters, it’s the fact that they share that thought with the public.  Meanwhile liberals are making popcorn and sitting down to enjoy the show.
  • The President’s skeet shooting photo is being mocked.  I get this because the White House should have let the derision over the skeet shooting comment during an interview just fade into obscurity.  Putting out that picture was like putting Dukakis in the tank.  Now there are conservatives declaring that the photo is not legitimate and was  photoshopped.   I don’t get this.  Everything is not about fooling you.  Maybe this growing paranoid subculture in the U.S. is based on narcissism….that arguably the most powerful man in the world has the time to cater to some idjits who think that everything revolves around them and that they and they alone know the truth.   Riiiiiiiiiiight……..Sigh….
  • Since the President dominated among Hispanics in the last election, receiving 75% of their vote, the Republicans have taken notice.  Their answer?  Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) proposed yesterday that anyone whose illegal immigrant parents brought them to the U.S. as children be granted citizenship.  Wait, isn’t that the Dream Act?  Yep.  So why now?  Why didn’t you support it before?  Oh, they rejected you and now you’re hoping to tap into future Hispanic Voters.  It’s gonna take a lot more than this little morsel to make that happen, bub.

“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”    –Emily Brontë

To all those gun loving 2nd Amendment Americans out there that think having a weapon with them or near them actually makes them safer, take a look at this.

The deadliest sniper in U.S. History (let that sink in), Chris Kyle, was shot to death at a firing range by a man who he was trying to help, a fellow veteran with PTSD. If Kyle couldn’t protect himself, what the heck makes the average American think they can? It’s pure deadly hubris to think this way.  Emily Brontë evidently couldn’t conceive of society and the weaponry available today, otherwise her quote would have been more like so:

Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselvesand the innocent around them.

This story is just anecdotal evidence of a very big problem that America is and will be facing in the coming decades–it’s a sad story that is being kept too low beneath the radar.  Did you know that suicides in the military have been on the rise since 2004? In 2012 the average was one soldier a day. Wrap your mind around that. Also rising are the number of murders committed by returning soldiers. Sadly the victims are usually their families or colleagues.

What do you think is going to happen when ALL our soldiers return from Afghanistan? Do you think those with PTSD will get better? They are already not receiving enough treatment from the VA and often have to rely on charity groups. Will there be enough private charity? Will be it be spread out across the country enough to meet the needs? Isn’t that the responsibility of the VA first, it being the best and most widespread network of hospitals? What about those with brain injuries that affect mood, impulse control, etc. Sometimes there’s an overlap–they not only have a brain injury, they also have PTSD. How many of these vets 20 or 30 years from now will break down, killing the innocent and kidnapping children as a cry for help because we didn’t meet their needs long ago?

This is NOT blaming the soldiers. They are victims too.  They risked everything and suffered for their country and they expected that we would do right by them when they came home. We owe them treatment and help. When someone is in crisis and it’s aftermath as so many soldiers are upon their return, the LAST thing we need to do is just dump them off into a society filled with deadly military grades weapons. In so doing we are practically asking for more tragedies like what is happening in Alabama. Get ready America, if you think it is bad now, it is only going to get worse if we don’t make some changes in gun control AND improve our mental health system AND focus on helping the tens of thousands of soldiers who gave up so much and live among us.

You have probably heard by now that four Americans, one of whom was our Ambassador, were murdered in Libya. Initial news stories said the attack was the result of an angry mob of protesters incensed over an anti-Islamic video on YouTube that was produced by an Israeli living in the US.

Now we are hearing that this Israeli man has disappeared having gone “into hiding”. The info on the Israeli is very inconsistent and just doesn’t add up. We have also learned that the attack was very well planned and involved about 80 coordinated individuals who had knowledge of military tactics and they had heavy weaponry.

Here’s my two cents on what is going on. All of the info so far indicates that the attack on our Embassy personnel was planned well in advance and not the kind of thing that just springs up, mob style.. If that is true, then the attackers used a real protest as cover and they knew ahead of time about the protest.

How would they know about the protest in advance unless they were tipped off that a hot button issue would erupt in Islamic anger ahead of time? Who could have informed them? The man who put the 15 minutes of that hideous film on YouTube who has been pushing it for the last two weeks and that person in the US was working with agent provocateurs in the Middle East who help to spread anger over the film and encourage riots in Egypt and Libya. Why would this supposed Israeli do this?

Well if he is really an Israeli, which I doubt, it is possible that he represents extreme conservative Jews in Israel and they believe that poisoning the relationship between Libya and the US is to their benefit. It would also serve to ratchet up the tension in the Middle East which is to the benefit of conservative Israel because they have been pushing for war against Iran–a war they cannot pursue without the US. Furthermore, this would look like a failure on the part of President and that would help Romney in the polls during a contentious election year, an election that conservative Israelis want Romney to win.

But what if it wasn’t even an Israeli or conservative Jew? What if he is a Muslim radical who found this crazy film and decided to use it as an excuse for a riot, again working with provocateurs in the Middle East. And again the point of the riot would be to cover up the fact that the attack was a coordinated, planned attack. Why would a Muslim radical do this? Do I really need to explain why in this case?

Now here’s the most outlandish thought. What if this was the old time honored tradition of the GOP, the “October Surprise“? What is that? There have been two incidents that occurred in the month before a crucial Presidential election that helped propel the Republican candidate into office. When Nixon decided he wanted to sit in the oval office, he used back door diplomatic contacts to convince the North Vietnamese to delay negotiations for peace until after the US Presidential election,extending the war and paving the way for his ascendency to the White House. Then there was Reagan who interfered in Carter’s negotiation with Iran to free the hostages. Reagan asked Iran to wait until after the US Presidential election to continue negotiations and in exchange he would give them weapons (which led to Iran-Contra). Seeing a pattern here? Don’t believe me? Then check out this video.

Although it isn’t quite October yet, I wouldn’t put it past the neocons for trying yet again to hijack our domestic elections by using the leverage of foreign crises. After all former VP Cheney, architect of the Iraq Disaster, was a part of the Nixon administration (as were a few of the neocons who advised Pres. G.W. Bush). So the neocons are old hands at this kind of back door interference and manipulation (also known as treason). And I don’t for a minute think that Romney is incapable of such rotten dealings. This kind of thing is VERY common in business negotiations. Only a fool would expect a sociopathic businessman to act like an ethical politician when competing to occupy arguably the most powerful leadership position on Earth.

I normally scoff at conspiracy theories but there are just too many things that don’t add up with the Libyan attack. In any case, odds are the “Israeli” isn’t a real person but an agent provocateur. Who he works for we probably won’t know for another 25 plus years when the government material is declassified. No matter who or what he is, I would bet my bottom dollar the US Intelligence agencies recognized him early on and have whisked his butt off to a secret location. Whether they are interrogating him for intel, protecting him from exposure to CYA, or protecting him from radicals bent on revenge who the hell knows. What we do know is that four Americans are dead because of somebody’s evil machinations and now we have another reason to be sad in September.

Today is 9/11 and that brings with it a ton of memories, most of them painful and almost surreal.  For those in NYC and those who lost loved ones on that horrible day, all of it is much more immediate–almost palpable, even after all these years.  Consider too the ripple effect from that violent day.  It spawned two wars practically on the other side of the world–one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  We went to Afghanistan for revenge and we went into Iraq out of fear.  To the soldier on the ground, going through his or her daily dance with death, the reason is of little consequence.  There have been 6,500 casualties in the wars and that has a ripple effect for all of the loved ones who live on and remember.  For the soldiers that make it home, they often don’t make it home in one piece.  And many of the injuries are unseen until they boil over.  The truth that very few people are talking about is that there are estimates of over 50,000 injured vets that have come or will come home.  Triple that number to account for undiagnosed brain trauma and PTSD.  These soldiers will have very special needs that will require a grateful nation to step up to the plate and care for them.

I could get political but I won’t. Now is not the time for it.  Time enough for that crap tomorrow.  Today I just want to acknowledge all the ripples that began with 9/11 that have gone out to envelop the world.  Because of 9/11,  many of my fellow citizens died or suffered, many will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives, and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives, been driven from their homes, or wander the world as refugees.  No, today is a day of remembrance for all of these people and the sacrifices made in the past, acknowledgement of the sacrifices the rest of us will have to make in the future to repair, as best we can, what has been broken, and to learn the important lessons so as to never repeat these same mistakes again.   I think we can all agree there are lessons to be learned, but what those lessons are will be up for debate in the years to come.  But again,  not today.  Today, I humbly own my country’s obligations to my fellow citizens, most especially the soldiers, and to the world in general.  We most assuredly were attacked on 9/11 and became victims that day.  But how we reacted to it….that I own–we own…today of all days, let us take on the yoke of that responsibility.

Peace be with you and yours.

Also Monday, Penn State acknowledged an NBC report about an email exchange between top university officials regarding accusations by assistant coach Mike McQueary that Sandusky raped another victim. Former school president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz decided that not alerting the police would be “humane” to Sandusky (from Yahoo Sports!).

You have got to be effin kidding me…”humane” to the abuser? America, meet a part of your inner self.  Empathy to a grown man, a child molester, outweighed sympathy to the disadvantaged young victim(s).   Penn State was the perfect storm of several ugly aspects of our culture. First, Americans practically worship celebreties, particularly sports figures, and as a result allow them to get away with all kinds of things the average citizen does not-to wit, the many, many domestic violence incidents that have been perpetrated by NFL players or famous college athletes getting at most suspended from playing for what would have been, for the average college kid, a crime with a nice stay in jail and expulsion from said college. I could go on all day with examples regarding this phenomenon.

Second, Americans love winning and hate losing. We are not, by and large, good losers. We love winning to such a degree that when a team, be it professional, collegiate, or K-12, starts to win, the coaching staff, the players, their families and the community they represent will do almost anything to help preserve that winning streak. This includes things like underfunding other programs to funnel it to the winning team, collective silence regarding potential abuses of power, and blatant cheating1. How many times have we heard of the coach that was too hard on his players and they never spoke up because they didn’t want the social stigma of  ‘bringing down a winning team?’

Which brings us to the third aspect of American culture, misplaced loyalty. The average American places loyalty to these “winners” and those that enable “winners” to do what they do above loyalty to the vulnerable in our society–children (i.e., Jerry Sandusky), animals (i.e., Michael Vick), women (e.g., Randy Moss), and, yes, sometimes even the athletes themselves (here’s just one example). We all want to be winners so badly that we are loyal to them.  Winners make us feel good.  So we try to associate ourselves with them and dream of being them, which causes us to protect them.  All of this brings us to the most important question of all. Why do we value winning so much?

The obvious answer is our competitiveness. Americans are VERY competitive and we are that way because our society has been, for most of it’s history, a meritocracy. Where anyone2 could work hard and take advantage of opportunities and in the end become successful–The American Dream, rags to riches (or at least middle class), etc. I think this competitiveness is a very positive value in our society and one we need to continue to foster. Additionally, Americans are also VERY goal oriented and practical. How could we not be? Our rapid expansion westward is the perfect example of that goal oriented attitude. However, over time that desire to succeed has overwhelmed our concern for how we get there. It’s the difference in caring about the process versus the goal. The failure in our culture to keep competition healthy is at the core of the problem here.  That inability to compete in a healthy manner is a fundamental failure to understand ethics and what role they play in forging our national psyche and how that manifests itself in who we are as a nation. We have become a country that only cares about the ends and rarely the means.3

And we aren’t just dealing with child molestation phenomena that the Sandusky case illustrates. It extends into the educational system, the workplace, politics and, by extension, into the most damaging place of all, the economy.  Both Chris Hayes, MSNBC journalist/host, and Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist, have books out that deal with the death of our meritocracy, the American Dream and the ascendancy of a wealthy elite. The evidence that these two authors cite (and many other authors, from both the left and the right BTW) lead me to believe that our culture has basically become a type of plutocracy. We have fundamentally changed and not for the good. Success is now worshiped to such a degree that:

1) those in power worry about being humane to the perpetrator and not the victim(s)
2) that we openly scold Wall Street Bankers for gambling with our money while making it all too easy for them to gamble with our money
3) that we complain about others getting handouts from the government but have no problem at all with claiming our own handouts
4) that we blame the poor and ignorant who are targeted by predatory lenders instead of blaming the predatory lenders for targeting them and our laws which allow them to abuse them in the first place
5) that we condemn the poor for not paying income taxes4 while at the same time closing off all the various pathways to rise out of poverty and become more successful so they can have income on which to actually pay taxes.
6) that we push for more mandatory sentencing for lesser and lesser crimes that affect the average citizen while ignoring the blatant and sometimes deadly violations of law (and even the Constitution) by the powerful, famous and wealthy
7) that we refuse to allow public expression of doubt about our going to war and our methods in perpetrating a war while simultaneously refusing to fund the war and not caring about the innocent who are destroyed by the war.

We have become the Charlie Sheen of nations–Drunk5 out of our minds, constantly claiming that instead of losing we are “winning” and, in the process, blithely hurting the vulnerable, slowly killing ourselves.6

Sources:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/nfl-finds-domestic-violence-difficult-to-gauge-384512/

http://www.jusasoccer.org/Portals/925/docs/Coaching/coaching_abuse_in_sports.pdf

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/409221-the-hypocrisy-that-is-roger-goodell-and-the-nfl-player-conduct-policy

http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Elites-America-After-Meritocracy/dp/0307720454/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339401395&sr=1-1&keywords=twilight+of+the+elites+america+after+meritocracy

http://www.amazon.com/End-This-Depression-Paul-Krugman/dp/0393088774

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf–jerry-sandusky-molestation-trial-victim-1-credible-joe-amendola-.html

Notes:

1. My family experienced this a couple of times in the last few months where a few male players in a co-ed league of 8-9 year olds were actually 11, 12 and maybe even older. One of the boys was almost twice as big as my daughter and needed to shave. The kids, the parents, the coaches and the opposing teams all knew they were too old. Our coaches contacted the league but the league said that they don’t verify with birth certificates and rely on the parents’ honesty. Well, clearly that didn’t work here. The strangest part of it to me was how happy and jubilant the parents were when they won, which was pretty much every game. No guilt, no second thoughts about ‘hey, this might be unfair’, none of that. What message does that pass on to those boys (and my daughter)? That winning is everything and what you do to win does not matter–the end justifies the means. And people wonder why Wall Street is filled with greedy sociopaths…all you have to do is go watch kids’ teams play soccer, baseball, basketball, etc on any given Saturday. That’s where those greedy little cheating f*cks are coming from…from our communities and our families. We are making these greedy, dispassionate monsters.

2. HUGE qualification here–minorities, particularly African Americans, women, the disabled, etc did not have and in many cases STILL do not have the same opportunities as white males. But enough of these disadvantaged groups were able to break through barriers and succeed in the U.S. In some countries, you NEVER see them succeed like this because there aren’t any opportunities to even get started. So, yeah, the U.S. has had the greatest improvement in social mobility for the greatest variety of people in the World. That doesn’t mean that it was/is perfect and that we didn’t/don’t have plenty of room for improvement.

3. I am just as gulity as the rest of society on this point. Sometimes my practicality can overwhelm my ethics. The reason this has been on my mind lately is the increase in drone strikes authorized by Pres. Obama. The main argument in support of the drone strikes are that they are a hell of a lot more accurate than other airborne missiles, causing much less collateral damage AND they are more efficient than sending in top secret assassination squads. The reasons against include the fact that innocents still get killed in drone strikes AND the drones could be used to target U.S. Citizens because of the supposed lack of review (I question this one, there is a review system of some kind but we don’t know much about it and that makes Americans understandably uncomfortable). So from a practical standpoint they aren’t a bad solution. That doesn’t change the ethical admonition that harm to the innocent is still being committed. The solution in the eyes of an ethicist would be, don’t do bombings, drone strikes or anything. While I understand and agree with this from an ethical point of view, the pragmatist in me says, ‘yeah but these Al Qaeda leaders are openly plotting to kill American citizens and other innocents and we need to stop them somehow’. In essence, I am torn. The key here is that I have this internal conversation with myself. The majority of Americans do not and THAT is the key to what is wrong in the U.S.

4. While also ignoring that they pay quite a lot in local, state and sales taxes…in fact, a higher percentage of their income goes to sales taxes than what the middle or upper classes pay. When you tax the sale of bread and milk, that will always hit the poor hardest.

5. Drunk on the dreams of success and fabulous wealth

6. Don’t go accusing me of not loving my country or being patriotic. Performing an intervention for a drug addled loved one is considered a loving act, so consider this my attempt at a national intervention.