Sunday, May 31, 2009

Facing the CIA's Dark Soul

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. ~ Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
The sunlight is harsh. It is hard to face the evil you do in the darkness where you are told you can do anything. Such people rebel when told they must step into the light so their deeds may be seen by the world.

The CIA's blackest agents, the National Clandestine Service, hidden as they are in the heart of darkness, are terrified by the prospects that their actions will become known. Revealing the truth will hurt their morale, we are told. What was secret must remain secret lest we hurt their feelings.
This is not for your eyes. ~ Pinhead, Hellraiser 1987
Although not all intelligence professionals are afraid of the light. Many, I dare say most, support the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity in their efforts to have Bush Administration torture policies investigated. They realize that it is only the criminals and the psychopaths who fear the truth.

Digby has an interesting history of the CIA.
USAToday has a debate between Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel

Friday, May 29, 2009

Platform Nation: an Old Idea

It seems the latest thing in "going Galt" is building your own autonomous nation on a platform in the ocean. It was done in the 1960's; it was a joke then and it is a joke now.
A British radio broadcaster who calls himself Prince Roy Bates founded the Principality of Sealand (the whole of the country is above) on an abandoned World War II anti-aircraft platform in the English Channel. The handful of people living on that platform earn a modest income from selling novelty postage stamps and coins.

It's not nearly as romantic as the seasteaders claim but I do want to encourage the movement as it will rid the land of a few certifiable loons.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cookie Torture

Dick Cheney must be vomiting in his oatmeal this morning. Finally we have discovered an effective interrogation technique that certainly must disgust him. It seems it was productive with al-Qaeda prisoners during questioning if they were occasionally offered cookies.

Betcha Cheney is going to have to look at his private collection of pictures of prisoners being ass raped to cope with the news.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

None Dare Call It Treason

Actually, that is exactly what radical conservatives are saying about moderate Republicans.

Treason used to be a term for someone who betrays his country. It is a sign of the sickness of the modern Republican Party that radical conservatives confuse loyalty to party with loyalty to country; that one cannot be a loyal American without also being a loyal Republican.

I have seen this trend growing for several years. Republicans demanding loyalty oaths to party to vote and pledging allegiance to the party flag instead of the nation's flag. But, now that they are out of power this trend has become an infection. The radicals are now demanding a purity of Republicanism to the faith of St. Ronald that has become a perversion of Ronald Reagan's own political philosophies. To these radicals even George W. Bush was a squishy RINO, a traitor to the party.

In history, there have been several political movements that have placed party ahead of nation - the Communist Parties of various nations, the National Socialists (Nazis), the Fascist parties of Italy and Spain, the Ba'ath Parties of Syria and Iraq, Argentina's Peronistas. Always, such parties are a threat to the nation. Because they place party ideology ahead of national interests, once they gain power they are quick to ban opposition parties. Laws that prevent ideological purification are brushed aside. Independent thought is crushed.

Right now, Radical Republicans are uncertain how to win power. Some contemplate civil war under the code word "secession," the path followed by Russia, China, and Spain. Some hope to win at the ballot box like the German Nazis, Italy's Fascists, and Juan Peron. For two years Thomas Sowell has mused about a Republican military coup like how the Ba'ath Parties achieved power.
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup. ~ Thomas Sowell, 2007
The coward Sean Hannity actually polled the question "What kind of revolution most appeals to you - military coup, armed rebellion, war of secession?"

The only reassuring fact is the Radical Republicanism is leaderless. If a charismatic leader should arise we are in big trouble.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court Cuts Baby In Half

In the same breath the California Supreme Court said that gay marriage is illegal (upheld Prop. 8) and also legal (ruled that the 18,000 existing gay marriages are valid).

It's an absurd ruling and purely political. It spits in the face of any concept of equal protection (These two people can remain married while those two can never marry because they missed some arbitrary deadline). The justices are trying to anger as few people as possible.

What the Court said is that gays have the right to be married (hence existing marriages are legal) but that voters have the ability to block that right (future marriages are illegal). By this legal logic if voters tomorrow passed an initiative to legalize slavery the California Supreme Court would have to rule that people already living in the state are free but any future slaves brought into the state are soulless property.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Move the Gitmo Prisoners Now

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly ~ Shakespeare, MacBeth
In politics it is better to do distasteful things quickly so people have a change to forget why they didn't like it. It is best to move the Gitmo prisoners this year into a red state, say the federal maximum security pen in Beaumont, Texas. By 2012, Texas voters will be glad for the extra employment and upset at any talk of removing the prisoners.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Clear and Elegant Truth

While I hate blogs that just say "me too" I have to give it up to Booman Tribune.

In a single posting Booman answered Dick Cheney, Charles Krauthammer, and all the enhanced interrogation advocates. The money quote is:
Hitler wanted to jettison the Geneva conventions because our adherence to them was costing him dearly. It seems like quite a small step for someone who was operating death camps at the time. But he was talked out of it. Even Hitler didn't revoke the Geneva Conventions. But Cheney and Bush did. And they're proud of it. ~ Booman Tribune

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Terrorist Recidivism

Dick Cheney, distraught that imprisoned men no longer scream in agony at the mention of His name, is on a crusade to bring back righteous torture. One weapon in his quiver is a statistic quoted in the New York Times that one out of seven released from Gitmo has returned to terrorism. Cheney uses that stat to content that the prisoners were treated too humanly.
we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work ~ Dick Cheney speech May 21, 2009
The recidivism rate for regular prisons in the United States is 67%; the Gitmo rate is a meager 14%. That could mean that torturous treatment chased hundreds away from their previous employment.

More likely, it means that of the 534 suspects held and interrogated at Gitmo and subsequently released only about 150 were actually terrorists. The remaining nearly 400 were innocents who had no terrorist careers to return to and merely wanted to return to peaceful lives and try to forget the horror of their American captivity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taliban Uses American Arms

It has ever been thus, guerrilla forces get their arms from the forces they are fighting against. Buying, bartering for drugs, and stealing are the logistical basics for guerrilla war. There will always be underpaid colonial troops willing to sell their rifles to feed their children. As for the scared, sleepless occupation grunts, the allure of raw opium and the numb oblivion it provides is a welcome relief in exchange for a little ammo.

I am not surprised that the Pentagon is uninterested in tracing the source of the Taliban's weapons. They desperately don't want to know - it's Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

They Are Missing the Agonized Cries Already

So, the CIA is whining about having to live under the common decency restraints of the Army Field Manual interrogation rules. Already they want access to the old ways.

The one example they give of a technique they want back, the "attention grasp" (grasping someone by the collar with both hands) is useless without "walling" (slamming the prisoner, once attention grabbed) against the wall.

The CIA is also whining that the Army Field Manual is, at the same time, too vague and too restrictive. The Manual is too restrictive because it doesn't allow physical contact. It is too vague because it doesn't mention attack dogs at all.

The truth is the CIA wants to go back to the good old days when just about any torture they wanted was available to demonstrate the wrath of the Christian God. I'm sorry, to interrogate high value targets.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The God of War

Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. ~ Ephesians 6:13
Donald Rumsfeld never struck me as a sky pilot. Incompetent, yes; senile, probably. But, I didn't guess he was a religious fanatic. I was wrong. GQ has revealed that Rumsfeld's intelligence briefings were ablaze with Crusader imagery and biblical quotations. These reports were ultra-top secret technical briefings, absolutely no place for cartoonish photos and devotional text. These briefings should have a plain, "just the facts ma'am" approach.

Part of this, I am certain, is that George Bush wouldn't look at anything that didn't have pretty pictures on the cover and didn't start with a scriptual reading. But most of it is caused by the insanity of the Bush years. We had a president who believed he was annointed by God, a military that believed they were tasked with paving the way for Armageddon, and a vice-president who could only achieve sexual climax while listening to the screams of torture victims.

It is truly a wonder we all survived.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pelosi and Torture

I've stayed away from the whole question of how much Nancy Pelosi knew about US torture practices and when did she know it. It is all a tempest in a teapot. What did the CIA tell Congress about how we torture? Hell, I know what the briefings sounded like without even attending.
  • Briefings such as this are filled with technobabble - call it spookspeak - designed to make it sound like English while conveying as little information as possible. Euphemisms abounded. Remember, "waterboarding" is just a euphemism for "water torture."
  • Everything was canted to make the CIA sound heroic and competent. Mistakes were glossed over and failures forgotten altogether.
  • No sentence began, "You will find this disturbing, but...." The "T" word was never used, neither was the "S" word (suffer) and definitely not the "D" word (death). Every effort was made to have the briefings sound innocent. It was made all kind of Sesame Streetish.
The final thing to remember is that Congressmen are constrained from revealing anything they glean from CIA briefings. The briefing could contain a sentence describing a CIA plan to shoot Nancy Pelosi and strangle Harry Reid and if any member of Congress publicly did anything about it like, say, introducing a bill making it illegal for the CIA to assassinate members of Congress, that congressman would be in a peck of trouble for revealing CIA methods and practices.

The CIA briefings could have read like an unexpunged NKVD report and there is not a damn thing any member of Congress could say or do about it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

June Is Busting Out All Over

Sunsets lost in
Skies of hazy greys
June gloom sets in
Puts me in a daze
Nothing changes
All we do is wait
Our heads hanging
Shaking in dismay ~ June Gloom, The Like
It's spring in Southern California. The desert to the east is heating nicely, most days the temperature is over 100 degrees F. The ocean to the west still has its Arctic chill, the water temp is seldom over 65 degrees F.

Here, the physics of earthly weather patterns are on display. The hot, dry desert air sucks in cold, moist ocean winds. The land in between where most of the people live is naturally encased in a thick layer of coastal low clouds. For a couple of months every year the fabled Southern California sun is a sad hoax as all we see are endless days of clouds known, unfondly, by the locals as May Grey and June Gloom.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Torture Truth Will Out

From my keyboard to God's ear. It took a grand total of two days from when I predicted that, contrary to President Obama's efforts, the pictures of American abuse of prisoners would get out eventually for the pictures to find freedom. Via DailyKos.

It doesn't matter if they are undisclosed Abu Ghraib photos (as will certainly be claimed) or new shots from other American prisons, the effect is the same. I don't think it is mixing metaphors to observe that when you dance with the devil you are going to get burned.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The New Face of the GOP...

Looks a whole lot like the old face. Kim Hendren, while attacking New York Democrat Chuck Schumer at a Republican Party meeting in Arkansas, called Schumer "that Jew."

While I can't find the context it is hard for an old, white, male, southern to say the phrase "that Jew" without his lip curling up into a snarl.

It looks like Republicans are still having trouble talking comfortably in public without wearing a pointy white hood.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We Can Handle the Truth

We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. ~ Col. Nathan Jessep, A Few Good Men
President Obama has concluded that he can't handle the truth about American interrogation techniques and has blocked the release of photos documenting the abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The excuse given is that releasing the photos would "endanger the troops." That's poppycock, of course. It is simply the traditional term used for a military cover-up.

What we have in the field in both Iraq and Afghanistan are a whole battalion of Col. Jesseps. Commanders who considered themselves gods able to authorize crimes and outrages against common decency with impunity. Had these commanders any concern at all for the safety of their troops they would never have allowed conduct that, when it became know as it inevitably would have, was certain to engender a backlash.

The truth is that these commanders considered the Arabs and Pashtuns held captive by their troops to be less than human. For some this was a reflection of their religious fanaticism. For others it was old fashioned racial hatred for dark skinned peoples. Military training had a hand in this - soldiers are taught long and hard to never think of "the enemy" as people lest they feel remorse for what they are doing. And we shouldn't forget sadism as a motive - simple recreational torture. Whatever the motive they believed, were certain, that torturing detainees was no less moral than kicking a stray dog or pulling the wings off a fly.

If President Obama wants to cover up these acts he needs to do more than block release of the photos. As long as the evidence exists the truth will find a way out. He needs to order the destruction of all the pictures. He also needs to discover those few members of the military with consciouses and scruples and send them on suicide missions. Maybe authorize a code red. I pity the President. He is now learning how to dance with the devil.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cheney Is a Coward, too

When Dick Cheney expressed a willingness to testify under oath before Congress on the Bush torture program, he was lying. Cheney will never actually testify, you can bet on that.

First, Cheney will never give up his right to fib freely. Truthfulness terrifies him. Second, Cheney fears intelligent questions. Dick doesn't mind being interviewed by Bob Schieffer, who is a bit of a poof, or by Brit Hume who is a brown-nosed toady, but Cheney is timorous being questioned by anyone smarter than he is. That would be three-quarters of the nation's population, half of Congress, and ten percent of the Washington press corps.

Cheney will weasel out his commitment to testify and, being the dick that he is, he will blame Democrats for his own cowardice. Cheney, along with Sean Hannity, is a charter member of the Republican White Feather Brigade. Their cowardice knows no bounds.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Return of Willy Pete

The sudden appearance of scores of strange burn cases in Afghanistan is pointing to the use of white phosphorus. The US Army has been quicker this time than they were with similar cases in Iraq. The United States is blaming it all on Taliban militants.

It's possible. Starbursts would be a useful strategy to use against American soldiers wearing night-vision goggles. Then there would be the propaganda value for the Taliban to martyr unsuspecting innocents and blame it on the Americans. It is certainly something they would do.

On the other hand, the American military has a history of using white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon. There is really nothing to add to the fact the the United States military includes the use of chemical weapons upon human targets as part of their anti-insurgency battle tactics. Bombing Afghan villages with Willy Pete is certainly something the US Army would do.

So, who is to blame? We will never know. It does prove, yet again, that war is hell. And that would make the people who fight wars demons, one and all.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Things Aren't as Good as They Seem

How well, or bad, things seem depends entirely on your perspective. Not necessarily your philosophical perspective, sometimes all you need is a different physical perspective.

Take, for example, the economy, especially the stock market. If your perspective is the dollar the Dow Jones average peaked in October, 2007, lost a bit over 50% of its value in a year and a half and is now showing some signs of life (see chart above).

If your perspective is gold, then the stock market peak happened in the year 1999 and the entire eight years of the Bush Administration was one prolonged unmitigated financial disaster. The stock market decline, measured in gold, is nearly 80% and the recent uptick is an insignificant blip - less than a fly spitting in the ocean.The chart was created by Chart of the Day.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Secession Dreams

I can't quit pondering Republican's secession dreams. DailyKos did a poll that found that nearly half of Texas and Georgia Republicans want to cut their states loose from the union. Nationwide, only two out of every three Republicans are unequivocal supporters of the united part of United States.

Like that guy, I'm worried that Texas Republicans, being the craven, all hat no cattle, cowardly windbags that they are will just keep talking about it and never get around to the leavin' part.

TexasFred, for example, is pissing his panties worrying about whether secession is legal. What a sissy wuss! When Dick Cheney wanted to watch torture tapes with his morning mug of prune juice he didn't bother with petty issues of legality. He just had his lawyers make shit up saying it was legal.

And, support for Texas secession is very strong outside of Texas. I share Piece of Mind's opinion - stop tantalizing us will all this hopeful talk and just leave already. Mike Hendricks at the Kansas City Star is firmer. If Texas doesn't leave we should kick them out. Weekly World News tells us what secession would look like.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You Can't Go Home Again

News Report: Arlen Specter Loses Senate Seniority

There is a reason, in 2001, when Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party he became an independent instead of a Democrat. It's the same reason Joe Lieberman stayed in his own party-of-one instead of appending a big red R to the end of his name even while campaigning for Republicans in 2008. They may have spat on the bridge, they may even have smeared stale feces on the bridge, but they didn't burn the bridge behind them.

The reason Jeffords and Lieberman didn't go full monty and switch parties is that the only power they had was their disloyalty. They kept the ability to switch back if they had to. Even though Democrats like me wanted Lieberman drawn and quartered and have his head stuck on a pike in the Capitol Rotunda, he had kept enough vagueness to his loyalty that he could play the lost sheep returning to the fold and get away with it. Specter didn't do the subtle shift, he swapped teams. Then Specter wasted no time announcing his intention to stab his new allies in the back every chance he got.

He's stuck. Specter is a Democrat now whether he likes it or not. The Republicans won't take him back. There can be no "it was a mistake and all is forgiven" charade. So Specter gets what Lieberman avoided - the very last seat in the very last row of the Democratic caucus.

No one trusts a quisling. No one likes a quisling. And no one is going to give up their senority on the Appropriations Committee to a quisling.

You Can't Go Home Again is also a good book.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bargaining With the Devils at Goldman

There is something evil lurking in the executive suites of that building. Something like in the movie Devil's Advocate only a banker not a lawyer, which makes it even worse. That is the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, by the way.

If anything is going to destroy Barack Obama in the future it is going to be the way that Goldman Sachs has infused itself into every aspect of the economic recovery program, usually in ways that are devious and designed to benefit that one bank ahead of everyone else, including the nation. This is the kind of thing that has a habit of blowing up.
There is something very wrong at Goldman Sachs. President Obama needs to erect a firewall between his administration and that company before it is too late.

(P.S. - As a notice to Goldman Sachs' team of highly paid lawyers, I really love Goldman Sachs. I am building an altar to them and will be sacrificing small furry animals, perhaps even drinking the still warm blood of virgins, to placate his terrible visage. Of my own free will, I now acknowledge Your power.)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Betcha I Flunked the Test

I was going to write about the Banana Proof of God, but it's been done to death. Zombie Lovers pretty much shares my sentiment. But looking into bananas I came across the Atheist Test. He asks several questions that are all pretty much along the Banana Proof model.

Building - A structure that has a roof and walls and stands more or less permanently in one place.
Question #1: Do you know of any building that didn't have a builder?
Answer: Yes. They are called caves.
Painting - Any work of art in which objects are represented in color on a flat surface.
Question #2: Do you know of any painting that didn't have a painter?
Answer: Yes. I could say the whole of the Universe because the Universe is awash in color and beauty far beyond da Vinci's talents, but I'll make it hard on myself and stick to the "flat surface" part of the criteria. Butterfly wings.
Car - A self-propelled vehicle used for transporting passengers.
Question #3: Do you know of any car that didn't have a maker?
Answer: Yes, but you won't like the answer. See below.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I am diseased.
On Friday I had the telltale signs of a viral infection - raging headache, fever, muscle weakness, lethargy, and general overall yuckiness. Using the sound, analytical diagnostic skills developed by decades of hypochondria I came to the only possible rational conclusion - I had contracted the Mexican Swine Flu.

Only I hadn't. After a little vomiting, a lot of diarrhea, and nary a sniffle (one would expect some sinus congestion from a respiratory infection like influenza) I had to conclude that I had a contracted a nasty little gastrointestinal virus that would probably run its course about, well, now. Of course I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't be a celebrity corpse in the morgue (Pandemic Take First San Diego Victim).

My immune system did its job. Elevated body temperature to make life a little difficult for the virus, general yuckiness to convince me to rest and let my body concentrate on fighting the little buggers, and a thorough purging of my digestive tract.

Art is Caricature of the Influenza Epidemic of 1820.