Friday, May 29, 2009

Criminalization of Dissent

Here we go folks (From "A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land"):


Anarchists call Police report comparing activism to hate crime "chilling"

May 24, 2009

HAMILTON- Local members of the provincial anarchist organization Common Cause fear Hamilton police are seeking to criminalize local organizers after a Hamilton police report identified the 2nd annual Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair as a potential source of hate crime.

While presenting the Year-End Hate Crime report (available online) to the Hamilton Police Board on May 19, acting sergeant Michael Goch stated police would be “actively monitoring” the book fair scheduled to take place on June 6.

Alex Diceanu, Ontario Treasurer of Common Cause responded, "As the organizers of the annual book fair, and as local anarchists and activists, Common Cause is deeply disturbed by these statements.

"This is a manipulation of hate crime laws to criminalize activism. At this time of economic and environmental crisis, alongside increasing political disengagement, activism and educational events such as the book fair should be encouraged, not chilled with surveillance."

The report also identifies the 2010 G8 summit (Huntsville, ON), the 2010 Olympics, “local native land reclamation issues”, “the anarchist movement” and “anti-government and anti-establishment reaction of economic crisis and job losses” as trends and events that “may have significant impacts and repercussions on the Hamilton community in terms of hate/bias related incidents.”

The "hate" they're supposedly worried about at the anarchist book fair is no doubt criticism of Israeli policies of torture, wars of aggression, land theft, and collective punishment. The only reason one could possibly have to criticize such things is seething anti-Semitism.

But the whole rest of it ... native land reclamation, the anarchist movement, anti-government and anti-establishment REACTION of economic crisis and job losses, ... these things are to be monitored for their potential to create "hate."

I feel it in my bones that the authors of that report are one step away from calling all this stuff "terrorism" and then all bets are off.

This is one of the main reason why I oppose anti-hate laws. They can be conveniently twisted into justifying criticisms of US imperialism, police brutality, Israeli imperialism, or government corruption and lies as "hate speech."

Supposedly though, once we tell the government and the police that they're being unfair and violating the spirit of the laws they'll realize the error of their ways and stop.

No. No they won't.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fifty-Billion Flaherty

Note: I've always had nothing but contempt for finance minister Jim Flaherty.

I'm leery about joining in on all the hyperbole about $50 billion. The pathetic stock market rally aside ("Wow! It's possible the government will bail out all of our mistakes! Let it ride!!") this is still a huge economic slowdown in the USA our main trading partner. We don't have as many people losing their homes here in Canada, but we have a lot of unemployment.

I'm fine with trashing Flaherty for his idiotic projections (from small surpluses to a $50 billion deficit within half a year) and for trashing the herpercons for their incompetence and callousness ("stimulus" that requires cash-strapped municipalities to pony-up half the dough, funding projects primarily in "Conservative" ridings, telling everyone that we're poised for a speedy recovery so everybody shut the hell up).

This scare-mongering about deficits is very dangerous though. If we need them, we need them. End of story.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Threat of TERROR!!!!!

Canada's Department of Scare-Tactics to Justify Police-State Violations of Citizen Rights is warning Canadians not to be complacent about TERRORISM, just because Canada hasn't suffered a terrorist attack since September 11th, 2001, ... when another country was attacked. By terrorists already in the United States and who didn't come from Canada.

You know, It'd be cool if we could say that the reason we haven't been attacked is due to the sterling work of CSIS and the RCMP, but the goddamned fact of the matter is that those two institutions have spent more time playing with their expanded powers and their evident right to shit all over the rights of Canadian citizens, subjecting innocent men like Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nurredin, Ahmad El-Maati and now Abousfian Abdelrazik to illegal torture-by-proxy and illegal exile that it seems more likely that CSIS and the RCMP have been inconsequential to our safety.

They're already exposed as fucking up the Air India bombing with their bureaucratic in-fighting.

A Canadian is more likely to be tasered and killed by Canada's "security" forces than they are to be killed by a terrorist.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Libs and Cons battle over EI reform (Phffft!!)

Look at this exciting headline: "Parties refusing to blink on election"

I think the test of a functioning media system should be that it points out the obvious hypocrisy of the Liberal Party in that it was the Liberals under Jean Chretien and Paul "screw the Red Book" Martin who limited accessibility to EI so as to make the payroll tax a cash cow to be used for corporate tax-cuts and deficit reduction. It's the same sort of Liberal hypocrisy that tried to convince us that "killing" the GST meant blending it with provincial sales taxes in the same way that Brian Mulroney intended it to be, but which he was prevented from doing by Liberals who refused to let him "hide" it.

A functioning media system would point this out and discuss its significance. And I'm not talking about mentioning it in an aside once in a while. If this gargantuan hypocrisy isn't front-and-centre then the media isn't doing its job. It would be akin to a story with the headline: "Paul Bernardo decries violence against women" or "Esso cautions on dangers of wind power" in which the obvious hypocrisy on display is occasionally mitigated by quoting someone who doubts their sincerity.

I'm not asking for a functioning media right now, because there is no Santa Claus (in either Canada or the United States). I'm just saying.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Liberals jump in polls?

I've heard they've enjoyed a bounce recently. That's the most goddamned depressing thing I've heard in a while. It makes Canadians look so stupid and Canada such a politically hopeless country.

"Those neoliberal scum-bags have fucked us over too many times! I know! Let's elect the Conservatives!"

"Those neoliberal scum-bags fucked us over!! I know! Let's elect the Liberals!"

Oy, vay!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Genuinely Embattled Minority

People who care about human rights, whether its a repugnican (or herper conservative) or Democratic (or Liberal Party) that's abusing them.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Here's a video ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Thoughts Exactly ...

Glenn Greenwald nails it:

The 'debate' over all the bad and scary things that will happen if Obama closes Guantanamo and we then incarcerate those detainees in American prisons is so painfully stupid even by the standards of our political discourse that it's hard to put into words ...
It meshes nicely with this week's Tom Tomorrow cartoon about how the Repugs can continue to set the terms of debates despite their considerable limitations.

Where oh where is the right-wing version of "Canadian Cynic" or "Sadly, No!" that skewers the brain-dead political culture of lefties? I suspect it doesn't exist because it can't exist. There's no way that there are significant portions of the leftist internet that are as ugly and stupid, so irredeemably stupid, as smalldeadanimals, dustmybroom, freedominion, freerepublic, littlegreenfootballs, nationalreviewonline, redstate, etc., etc.,. (FTR: right-wing circle-jerks about how awesome they are and how "leftards" are stupid, well, just 'cause, don't count.)

We have a lot of work to do to turn the human race off the path to self-annihilation and the fact that moronic drivel like the "terrorists on American soil" debate is allowed to waste our time is testimony to how dangerously far behind we are. These cretins are dangerous for the things they wish to do and for the energy they divert from more worthy causes. They should just shut the fuck up and let the grown-ups get to work.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Didn't Want Obama to Fail, But Now I Think I Do

First of all, I'm a Canadian and Obama is the President of the United States. So what do I care about this foreign leader? Easy. He's the president of the most powerful country in the world. The bulwark of the entire world system. What happens in the USA affects us all.

Secondly, it's true. I didn't want Obama to fail. I actually said that I wanted him to succeed. At the time, there were worrisome trends and now, well, now the facts speak for themselves. Obama is merely the re-branding of the desperate monstrousness of late US-capitalism:
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
That quote is also taken from an essay linked to in an earlier post. But reading these missives (one and two) from "a tiny revolution" really made me think that time has run out for Barack Obama to redeem himself and the USian political scene. One:
This is the fatal flaw of liberals, which comes screaming to the fore whenever the Democrats they revere are in power: they genuinely believe they have an ally in the White House who shares their concerns and cares about what they have to say. The fact that in Obama's case we already have mountains of evidence to dispel that fantasy—even after so little time—matters not at all; like all dogmatic beliefs, this one is proof against reason. And the fact that people who labor under such a towering delusion also spend so much of their time accusing others of political naivete is just one of the many brain-numbing ironies we get to enjoy whenever a Democrat becomes president.
And two:

This is part of a Los Angeles Times story on the recent U.S. bombing in Afghanistan that killed about 140 people:

Piercing wails rose into the antiseptic-scented air where four blistered and bandaged little girls lay in side-by-side hospital beds. One of them, 5-year-old Ferishteh, writhed and cried almost continuously, unable to find a position that did not cause her pain from the burns that covered her arms, legs and torso. ... Nurses and doctors said Nazbibi's father, Saeed Malham, rarely left her bedside ... "When they told me what had happened, I fainted under a tree," he said. Then he rushed home, returning to a village marked by destroyed homes and fresh graves.

And here's Barack Obama, in Sderot, Israel in July, 2008:

"If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that."

How many people have the rockets from Gaza killed? Let's say ten. How many people were killed as Israel did everything in its power to stop that? At least 100 times as many. Thus, according to the rules as articulated by the current president, Afghans may now kill 14,000 Americans.

That may seem like a lot, but fair's fair.

Yesterday, I linked to a wonderful article "In Praise of Revolutions." In it, the author (Serge Halimi) says:

However desirable they may be, revolutions remain rare. They require simultaneously: a broad mass of dissatisfied people who are prepared to act; a state whose legitimacy and authority are challenged by some of its usual supporters (as a result of economic incompetence, mismanagement of the military or crippling internal divisions); and finally, pre-existing radical ideas that question the social order and which, though they may be held only by a tiny minority to begin with, are capable of attracting all those whose loyalty to the old order has crumbled.
This being so, the demands of social movements are primarily defensive – as can be seen at the moment. They aim to re-establish a social contract which they believe to have been broken by the bosses, landowners, bankers and governments. Food, work, shelter, education, prospects: not (yet) a glorious future but “a vision of the present stripped of its most painful aspects” . It is only later, when the inability of those in power to fulfil the obligations which legitimate their power and privileges becomes apparent that the question is sometimes asked outside militant circles: “whether kings, capitalists, priests, generals, bureaucrats, etc, serve any useful social purpose at all”. At this point, it is possible to talk of revolution. The transition from one stage to another may occur quickly – in two years in 1789, a few months in 1917 – or may never happen.

And maybe that's what's happening here. Alexander Cockbourn is sometimes too much of a smartass for me, but I appreciated it when he said that bush II trashed the US empire better than anyone else and that Obama's ability to restore that crucial thin patina of respectability to it is something that opponents of empire ought to fear. Whether it's a Repugnican run empire or a Democrat empire, it's still a hateful, oppressive, inhuman empire. US power (military, economic, cultural, scientific) is still enormous. US government debt-to-GDP ratios are at sustainable levels despite all the hand-wringing about bush II's debts. But the ability of the country to compel absolute compliance over two-thirds of the world is fading. And what it has to do to maintain this compliance becomes increasingly physical and messy internationally and increasingly reliant on growing economic inequality and oppressiveness domestically. bush II managed to get millions of USians angry and active, questioning their political system, and Obama seemed tailor-made to quell this anger, restore the lost faith among more intelligent USians, and get the empire back on track. But Obama's thin facade cannot mask the inhumanity of his mission. Perhaps betrayal at the hands of Barack Obama will galvanize enough intelligent, angry USians into sincerely questioning the political-economic system they live within.

Obviously, this extended debate about wanting Obama to fail or not was inspired by Rush Limbaugh's blunt admission that he wanted Obama to fail. Limbaugh hated the mildly progressive veneer of Obama's Democratic Party and wanted it to be discredited. Limbaugh was widely condemned by almost everyone within the Democratic Party and leftwards. Limbaugh, like me, wants a "revolution" to result from this failure. So how do I differentiate myself from Limbaugh? In the first place, Limbaugh's also a racist who wants black people in general to fail because it validates his own white-shit existence. Secondly, when it comes to understanding how society works, Limbaugh is a complete moron. His gift is to be able to articulate his own moronic opinions and those of other losers in quick time. But at its core, whatever "revolution" Limbaugh hopes to bring about will be marred by its own deep-seated insanity.

Special note: This has to be one of the most pathetic things I've ever read.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"In Praise of Revolutions"

Excellent essay from Serge Halimi of "In Praise of Revolutions"

Even so, a charge levelled against major revolutions is they were violent. Exception is taken to the massacre of the Swiss Guard during the storming of the Tuileries in August 1792, to that of the Russian royal family in July 1918 in Ekaterinburg and to the liquidation of Chiang Kai-Shek’s officers when the Communists took power in China in 1949. But if you object to those, then you shouldn’t ignore the famines of the Ancien Régime, which happened against a background of balls at Versailles and of tithes demanded by priests; or the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators massacred by Nicholas II’s troops in St Petersburg on Bloody Sunday in 1905; or the revolutionaries in Canton and Shanghai thrown alive into the boilers of locomotives in 1927. Not to mention the everyday acts of violence which were part of the social order the revolutionaries sought to overthrow.

The story of the revolutionaries who were burned alive hasn’t just affected those with an interest in China; it’s also known to the millions who have read André Malraux’s novel, La Condition humaine. For decades the greatest writers and artists made common cause with the workers’ movement to celebrate revolutions and the glorious future. In doing so, it is true, they underestimated the downside, the tragedies and the chilly dawns (with their political police, personality cults, labour camps and executions).

For 30 years, by contrast, those are the only consequences of revolution which have been spoken about; in fact it’s the recommended course of action for those who want to succeed at university, in the press – or the Académie Française. “Revolution inevitably means an irruption of violence,” explains Academic Max Gallo. “Our societies are extremely fragile. The major responsibility of those who have a public platform is to guard against this irruption”. For his part, Furet reckoned that any attempt at radical transformation was totalitarian or terrorist, that “the idea of another society has become almost inconceivable”. His conclusion is that “we are condemned to live in the world that we live in”. It’s not hard to imagine that such a destiny fits in with the expectations of his readers, who are generally protected from life’s storms by a pleasant existence of dinners and debates.

I've been looking to read something like that for a long time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Conservatives" -- Gutless Opponents of Anti-Semitism

Internet "conservatives" (Blogging Tories, RedState, Free Dominion, Free Republic types) tend not to like minorities. Canadian internet "conservatives" hate Aboriginals, blacks (especially Jamaicans), Arabs and/or Muslims. USian internet "conservatives" hate blacks, Hispanics, Arabs and/or Muslims.

So why do they get so worked-up about "anti-Semitism" against Jews? To some degree these wingnuts don't so much hate "anti-Semitism" as they support Israel due to its role in their ridiculous Biblical Book of Revelations fantasies. For that reason they are lukewarm in their hostitlity towards the anti-Semitism of out-and-out white supremacists. Then there are a few people of Jewish origins but sub-normal mental abilities (Ezra Levant, Joe Lieberman) who believe that this fundamentalist Christian regard for Israel constitutes actual affection for Jews and have thrown in their lot with their brothers and sisters in stupidity. And then, finally, there are your garden-variety internet "conservatives" who will embrace any struggle, any cause, so long as they don't have to do anything other than type about it.

Anti-Semitism used to be a HUGE thing in Europe, with pogroms and Holocausts and the like. It used to be a big deal in North America with employment discrimination, housing covenants restricting Jewish entry into WASP neighbourhoods and other forms of clear, practical racism or bigotry. Now, however, anti-Semitism tends to mean some marginal neo-nazi loser spray-painting a swastika somewhere. That's upsetting, but isolated and of little practical importance. Besides, leftist anti-fascist groups like Toronto's Anti-Racist Action had things covered. As well, the main focus of the internet "conservatives" is Israel, which has to suffer from detailed criticisms about its human rights abuses and other violations of international law, but which is otherwise safe. True it is surrounded by US puppet states who are amenable to a two-state solution, as well as countries like Lebanon which are incapable of attacking Israel and Syria which wants to limit Israel's depredations and to counter Israeli domination of Lebanon with Syrian domination. But even under these desperate circumstances, "tiny little Israel" is a nuclear power with the world's third-largest airforce of top of the line technology.

In other words, Israel isn't really in any danger and Jews aren't really in any danger here in North America. Perfect for your typical gutless internet "conservative" to bravely extend a hand in solidarity with. USian "conservatives" are infamous for sitting on their fat asses at home calling for continued fighting against "Islamo-fascism" in Iraq and Afghanistan, knowing that there's no draft so even though the US military is stretched to the breaking point, they won't ever be forced to serve in these wars unless they sign up. Which a majority of them haven't done and have no intention of doing. The fact that military recruiters are forced to lower their standards to take in genuine morons and convicted rapists hasn't registered with these buffoons who call the "War on Terror" the cause of their generation. It's this same cowardice that no doubt motivates their enthusiasm for "anti-Semitism." There's absolutely no danger they'll ever have to go up against any individuals or institutions with real power and at the same time they get to feel good about themselves as enemies of prejudice and bigotry.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Code Pink and Other Awesome Women

Here's the link to the USian women's peace activists "Code Pink." I'm posting it here because I've long admired their militancy (despite the USA's incredible propaganda machinery) and their courage (against police thuggery,* Kafka-esque legal thuggery, and right-wing goon squads). No, I don't know EVERYTHING about them. But what I've seen I like very much.
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.

To continue praising heroines of progressive causes, I present to you links which describe two brave, right-on women I've encountered in recent readings.

The first is Annie Besant:
Besant supported a number of workers' demonstrations for better working conditions. In 1888 she helped organise a strike of the female workers at the Bryant and May match factory in east London. The women complained of starvation wages and the terrible effects on their health of phosphorus fumes in the factory. The strike eventually led to their bosses significantly improving their working situation.
Social and political reform seems not to have satisfied Besant's hunger for some all-embracing truth to replace the religion of her youth. She became interested in Theosophy, a religious movement founded in 1875 and based on Hindu ideas of karma and reincarnation. As a member and later leader of the Theosophical Society, Besant helped to spread Theosophical beliefs around the world, notably in India.
Besant first visited India in 1893 and later settled there, becoming involved in the Indian nationalist movement. In 1916 she established the Indian Home Rule League, of which she became president. She was also a leading member of the Indian National Congress.

Okay, it seems Ms. Besant went a little crazy towards the end ...
In the late 1920s Besant travelled to the United States with her protégé and adopted son Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom she claimed was the new Messiah and incarnation of Buddha. Krishnamurti rejected these claims in 1929.

Then again, considering the drivel that bush II believes and that of the bulk of the Repugs and the herpecons, maybe we should cut her some slack.

The second is Louise Michel:
Louise Michel was born on 29th May 1830. She was raised by her mother and paternal grandparents. Her love and understanding of everything downtrodden, human and animal alike, developed from her empathy with her childhood world. Her compassion and sensitivity to suffering grew, as she grew. This, along with her instinct to rebel against social inequalities, led her along the revolutionary path. ... On 18th March 1871, the people of Paris reclaimed their city, for the people. They set up an independent 'commune', with the people themselves - rather than a corrupt, bourgeois government - controlling the destiny of the city. ... This became known as the Paris Commune. It was a social revolution, which tried to create freedom and equality for all the people of Paris. Louise Michel, like many others, gave her total self to the revolution. She fought on the barricades, devoting herself to the cause. She was eagerly willing to sacrifice her life for the "conquest of freedom". ... Louise Michel was sentenced to lifetime deportation. On 8th August 1873 she began her voyage to New Caledonia. It was during this journey that she met Natalie Lemel, who was responsible for introducing her to anarchism. The conditions in New Caledonia were harsh. There was a serious food shortage and very little medical care. After spending five years in exile, she was allowed to teach the Kanaks, and the children of colonists. She got to know and respect the Kanaks, the indigenous people. Her support for their struggles against French invasion and racism is remembered today in the capital city, Noumea, where there is a museum dedicated to anarchism.

I hope somebody finds these resources valuable.

*Don't read the comments to the YouTube video unless you want to be needlessly enraged by the debased cowards and their exteme misogynistic rage. The idiots at the right-wing goon squad video are bad enough.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Comfortable Canadians (Again)

A l-o-o-n-g time ago, in the misty early years of this blog, I wrote a "Quick Thought for the Day" about how hypocritical it was for comfortable Canadians to be smugly judgmental about the sometimes violent and hate-filled behaviour of people from other lands when at the same time some of us, having lived lives enjoying peace and perpetual abundance, are slavering for the brutal suppression of any and all First Nations' protests and for the torture and summary execution of suspected terrorists:
So, all the comfortable, sheltered Canadians who are willing to embrace torture and the summary execution of prisoners, out of anger over the killing of Canadian soldiers whom they don't know personally,* think that they're justified because our enemies are "savages."

Supposedly, the people of Afghanistan, having lived through three decades of almost constant warfare, and through grinding poverty under brutal dictatorships, ... if any of these people turn out to be cruel killers, well there's no excuse for that.

We can embrace torture and killing at the drop of a hat while still holding on to the claim that we're "civilized." But if people living under far more brutal conditions do this, they're monsters whose extermination is self-evidently required.

The whole notion went bad in the comments section as "Reason" of the Canadian Forces took my post as a slag against himself and other Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. But I'd like to re-visit this concept. I've just finished reading a book about the Paris Commune of 1871 which ended with the slaughter of between 15,000-25,000 Parisians. Most of the killings were carried out by the "forces of law and order" representing bourgeoise interests and they were carried out in retaliation (supposedly) for the murder of between 500-1,000 soldiers and hostages taken by the Commune. Just having read that and also recently thinking about the Tamil community's blocking of the Gardiner Expressway outside of Toronto in response to the Sri Lankan government's bombardment of the last refuge of the Tamil Tigers and their Tamil hostages brought me back to the ideas in that early post.

For one thing, both the example of the Paris Commune and the bloody violence of both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers, show how humans can descend into appalling cruelty quite quickly. We Canadians have, for the most part, never had to deal with these issues. Canada has for long been a peaceful country in which the majority of people enjoy ready access to the essentials of life and much, much more. This peace and prosperity has given some of us a sense of gratitude and a desire to protect, preserve and expand these blessings for ourselves and for the rest of the world. Then there are those who are cocooned in a blissful unreality, who believe that this state of affairs is mysteriously simply inherent to us either as human beings born within these lines of latitude and longitude, or out of some hocus-pocus of our political traditions. For these Canadians (let's call them "morons" or "blogging tories") we are simply better than these other people, these "savages," and whether this arises out of our genetic superiority or out of the political traditions that inferior, retrograde cultures can only attempt to emulate, the point is that nothing we can do will ever place us at the level of these inferiors.

Canadians of almost all stripes say that when you come to Canada you're supposed to leave your baggage from your homelands behind. We don't dwell in the past here in Canada. This has been the myth since the 1950s at the earliest. Before that there were simply too many fights between English and French and Catholic and Protestant to make that conceit even remotely true. Canadians have consistently tried to ignore their troublesome past when it comes to historical treaty obligations to the First Nations, so we were consistent on that point. But have we been consistent in ignoring the conflicts between other people in other lands? If so, then how do we explain our willingness to avenge the USA for the attacks of September 11th? Some Canadians were among those killed that day, but many of the Canadians crying for vengeance for those Canadians were less than concerned for Lebanese Canadians under Israeli bombardment in 2006.

The point is not many Canadians are immune to feeling tugs from issues in their countries of ancestry. It has always been thus.

The second point is that the smug condescension over the irrational, violent nature of others is unwarranted by those who practice it. For the most part it's these smug imbeciles who are labouring mightily to place us on the road to the sort of behaviour they condemn. Disregard for human rights? How many Blogging Tories supported and continue to support the overuse of Tasers by the police? Freedom of Speech? How many Blogging Tories support the free speech of anything other than nazis and Muslim-bashers? Human dignity? What's there respect for human dignity? Very selective I see. According to these vermin, our governments can capture people from anywhere in the world, far from any battlefront, call them "enemy combatants" in a "'War' on Terror" and deprive them of the right to face their accusers in court until such a time as a kangaroo court can be established to use their coerced testimony against them. If First Nations peoples mobilize after a century of theft and neglect and attempt to claim their legal rights, these fine "conservatives" shriek for the institutions of the police and the military to shut them up, shut them down and clear them out. This is their response to overwhelmingly peaceful protest campaigns. Imagine the slavering bloodlust that would be released if Canada's First Nations actually began to mimic the IRA or the Kosovar KLA or Kurdish or Tamil independence groups!

It is the work mainly of people on the left, "peaceniks," "bleeding-hearts" that keeps the Canadian political scene from descending into something like Iraq or Somalia. And much of our work consists of resisting the depraved impulses of these self-satisfied morons and fools.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Conservatives are Stupid Assholes, Part Six Zillion

My post for the day is inspired by a thunderbolt of realization about the enormity of the stupidity of "conservatives" and the treatment of Abousfian Abdelrazik.

To begin, this travesty was the product of a crazed "intelligence," "security" and "policing" bureaucracy, which was enabled by a sleazy Liberal government. But the heavy lifting these days which is perpetuating the sufferings of Mr. Abdelrazik is all the work of the herpercon "Conservative" government. And, for the most part, the enthusiastic support for the suppression of a Canadian citizen's constitutional rights comes from those same stupid, mouth-breathing, ugly minded cretins, the Canadian right-wing. A couple of posts ago I exhibited the deranged fantasies of one "Colin" who said that Canadian government has the legal right to subject citizens to indefinite exile based on top-secret information that nobody ever has to know about. "Colin" tried mightily to sound like a tough-minded realist, supporting an at times dirty, but highly necessary war against what is described as "Islamo-fascism" but in reality, "Colin" is a pathetic creature, frightened by his own delusions and given to murderous rants and an infantile devotion to authority.

There is no legal way that the Canadian government can exile a citizen of Canada. Here's the relevant section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
"Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada."
It's clear. There can be no debating on this subject. Well, actually there is a bit of a debate. Whether Section Six, i) means a Canadian can't be extradited to another country for prosecution for crimes committed in that other country. But there's nothing about the government's right to prevent your return from a country that has no desire to keep you.

Abdelrazik has been stranded in the Sudan, staying in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum since 2008 and it has been the stephen herpercon party that has been torturing him with broken promises and imbecilic arguments in order to prevent him from returning home.
Their latest idiotic argument is that although he is entitled to emergency travel documents as a Canadian citizen, and that although he has been cleared of any connections to international terrorism (someone [no doubt a victim of the USA's torture techniques] said Abdelrazik is a top-level Al Qaeda member, he nonetheless remains on a USA "no-fly" list and the UN's "no-fly" list. But the USA's list shouldn't make it impossible for Abdelrazik to fly home on a Canadian government jet, or a privately-chartered jet, or a Sudanese (their government has cleared him and offered to help send him home) airline. And the UN list specifically allows people on it to return to their home countries.
That's what made the knuckle-dragging vermin who work for the herpercons furrow their brows and fart out the following rationalization for leaving Abdelrazik stranded: It's true he can leave the Sudan and return to Canada, but what about the airspace of all the other countries in between?
A UN spokesperson replied that the airspace of other countries is a non-issue with regards to re-patriating citizens to their homelands.
Then the herpercon's lawyer tried to argue "National Security," but check out the details of the Act:

  • A person whose entitlement is under investigation is formally notified as such, is provided with the basis upon which Passport Canada began its investigation, and is given 30 days in which to respond or forward relevant information for consideration.

  • A first draft recommendation is provided to the person under investigation, who is given 10 days in which to make further submissions.

It doesn't appear that Abdelrazik was provided with this notification. Had he been there isn't much that he could have done about it though:
Information reviewed during the investigation may be considered as "sensitive information", within the meaning assigned to that expression by section 38.01 of the Canada Evidence Act, and therefore cannot be disclosed to the person under investigation. However, Passport Canada will always inform the person under investigation that such information exists, and whenever possible, will provide a summary of the information.
The important thing though is that this desperate attempt at evading their obligations to this Canadian citizen is invalid because proper protocols were not followed. And for that reason the "national security" argument should be dismissed.
The whole reason that I'm typing this entry though is about the amazingly stupid behaviour of the herpecons. It's really extraordinary isn't it? Almost as stupid as the insane yammerings of their supporters. Check out this turd dropped in my comments section on another post about Abdelrazik's plight:
You left out the part about: 1)CSIS has accused him of being a member of a Montreal cell that supported Ahmed Ressam; 2) The US State Department has said that Abdelrazik is a personal acquaintance of Osama bin Laden, closely tied to Abu Zubaydah and attended an Afghan training camp in 1996.
Maybe, he should stay overseas.
Obviously, I went to town on the idiot and his complete amnesia about "due process" and "presumption of innocence." The nitwit no doubt regards himself as a defender of "Canadian values" and "Western Civilization" against the Islamo-fascist hordes. They all appear to do so, when it's them who are throwing hard-won freedoms and democratic rights into the toilet.
If you want to help Abousfian Abdelrazik then these wonderful people, "The People's Commission on Immigration 'Security' Measures can give you some pointers.
Supposedly I'm to sleep more soundly knowing that Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen who has been cleared by both CSIS and the RCMP of any criminal activities is being kept out of Canada where god knows what he would do. I'm supposed to be proud that my government is embarrassing itself and the entire country with these idiotic legal arguments.

Monday, May 11, 2009


No time for anything today. So, well, what about this drivel about Obama's "elitist" preferences in mustard? Is there anything more sad than right-wing shit-heads struggling to be cool? Is "dijon-gate" or "spicey-mustard-gate" (or whatevertheHell "gate" it's supposed to be) Sean Hannity's baby?

Sean Hannity's baby.

I'm seeing some 1970's horror flick.

Right-wing morons exist to make liberal assholes look good by comparison. That's it. Live it up Barack!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

More on that "Revolutionary Consciousness" Thingy

So what the hell is so "revolutionary" about giving workers and elected members of the public two-thirds of the control over public sector institutions?

Well, as I said, it's about making people comfortable with being in control. This society that we've constructed is incredibly complex and it's been designed by and for capitalists and technocrats. But we can't just smash it. A lot of people don't want to smash it. But what do we do with it? First, more people have to get a chance to figure out how it works. These elected citizen representatives will be a part of this process. Every hospital will have a number of ordinary people up there representing the communities as potential users (and definitely the taxpayers) of that institution. Every water and sewer system, every highway, every local power facility and every local police service. Whoever is interested can run for a term or two as a paid representative of the general public.

So, ordinary people will get an understanding of how their society really functions and will have a hand in the sometimes difficult decisions of managing important public resources. I'm willing to bet that that alone will bring about a difference in the organization and delivery of services. As well, ordinary people, either as workers or as citizen representatives, will get empowered by having genuine decision-making capabilities, unmediated by a corporate hierarchy with a non-democratic agenda.

This is a "revolutionary" strategy that deals with the citizenry that we have now, where millions of people like their donut drive-throughs and their chemically-treated lawns. We'll have to get past the narcissistic, ecologically unsustainable nature of this society but we'll first have to get people unafraid of public management, of democratic control.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Building a Revolutionary Consciousness

This isn't going to be a huge post.

Basically, when we think of a "revolution" I think we tend to imagine some sort of romantic event, where "the people" make a clean break from a detested past and start to build the new society. (Okay, fuck it, I don't care if you don't see it that way! That's the way I imagine you see it, SO THERE!!!) In this light, a "revolutionary consciousness" would be the realization that the old order is bankrupt and has to go. And then the individual's spirit is enthused by the new values of the new society.

If that's anybody's idea of "revolution" and "revolutionary consciousness" then I say that I don't think reality will work out that way. For one thing, I believe that we've almost got all the political power we need to bring about a revolutionary transformation of society and that the boring, hum-drum of electoral politics can achieve this in a way more gradual than the romantic idea of a great event making a clean break with the past, but the revolution will be just as transformative nonetheless.

I also believe that what will be more enduring than a sudden, romantic transformation, will be a gradual process (not too gradually, obviously) of people becoming masters of their own lives and their own societies, in a way that is impossible to achieve with an abrupt change that will tend to push charismatic leaders to the fore. One way that I believe this can happen is to make workers citizens within their own workplaces, but another way (and one which will perhaps be easier to achieve in the short run) is to put citizens in charge of public sector institutions.

I believe that any provincial or federal government could easily create a new system of governance for the public sector. There would still be democratic accountability and leadership through elected ministers, but beneath that level institutions should be run in a tripartite fashion with one-third worker, one-third administrative and one-third citizen representation on boards of control.

As the employer, governments have the complete right to implement worker control over the public sector. At the same time, without creating to great a split with the past I think there's call for having managers who have a sense of the big picture remaining on the board. But there should be all sorts of positions (at levels of local control) for elected citizen representatives. As the recipients of the services provided and as representatives of the taxpayers, these citizens can voice complaints about service or service delivery and get a sense of who has a just case in things like work hours, job stability and costs, workers or management.

It will help ordinary people understand how their society works and will not seem to radical for all the people out in suburbia.

And with that abrupt, graceless ending, I'm off for the day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Good Critique of "Brand Obama"

I was never too taken by Barack Obama. Yes, he's better than bush II. In that by not being a drooling moron, obviously in thrall to evil, third-rate con-men trying to rob the USA for all they're worth, Barack Obama can make USians smarter than the Repug grassroots take faith in their country again. Which means to buy into a system that is not in their best interests.

Anyway, here's a good critique from Chris Hedges at CommonDreams.Org, "Buying Brand Obama":
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Idiot Named "Colin"

Over at Dr. Dawg's Blawg, in the comments section to a condemnation of the harpercon government's violation of the rights of Abousfian Abdelrazik, an idiot named "Colin" shows up to excrete the following black pearls of wisdom:

Regarding the possible reasons the Canadian government might have for refusing his return, "Colin" states (with an argument he'd never like to see turned on himself):

Or there is information that legitimately keeps him out of Canada that cannot be revealed without compromising the source.That seems more reasonable and likely than these racism allegations and con's are evil claims by our less reasonable citizens.

To the actual allegations of racism against Abdelrazik, "Colin" responds:

There is no proof of racism. That idiot Dewar even went so far as to back away from the claims today.If this guy has no connections to terrorism he will get back in. Chances are very good that he is connected but to prove it would compromise future intelligence gathering.I know that it is hard for lefties to engage critical thinking faculties (too much time spent in the cold chanting with the raging grannies) but before accusing elected officials of sinister motives I suggest you find some proof.

Note that! Rich isn't it? We're to support the government's right to deny a Canadian citizen of his right to return, because there's probably "secret evidence" out there that explains it all. (Even if no amount of evidence can legally prevent his return in any case.) But if we want to accuse the government of racism, well we have to get a letter or an e-mail or a phone message from Stephen Harper saying "Keep that damned n____r in Africa!" before we're justified in our bad thoughts about the government. "Colin" is a textbook example of the sort of authoritarian chump who help dictatorships stay in power throughout history.

EK,obviously you dont understand the concept of burning a contact in the spy industry, but you can be sure that this clown is not worth compromising a source.proof will not be delivered because the Minister invoked national security...The embassy is giving him lodging and consular services so he has every opportunity to have this overturned. Just dont get your hopes up.

Now "Colin" is channelling Ian Fleming, and (inevitably) embarrassing himself totally.

Because actual prosecution of criminal conduct while abroad is not a requirement to bar someone from re-entry into the country we can throw out that line of argument.There are circumstances wherein the suspicion and testimony of security agents abroad is enough to cast doubt on the loyalties of a citizen. If the government minister then denies entry based on national security issues we can piss and moan all we like but we also have to acknowledge that there is something we are not privy to that is barring re-entry.Heading overseas to caddy for bin-laden is not a crime per se it would serve as enough to deny entry.It would also be wise not to let on to bin-laden that we have ways of gathering that info so we deny entry based on "national security".Tough luck for your stranded buddy but he appears to be fooked so to speak.

Again, more drivel. More insane, illegitimate, unconstitutional jibberish.

Well, I cannot believe that there is any political benefit to this matter at all. It isnt going to move votes either way. I also do not believe that the government is racist. Thats too much tin-foil hat for me.So, I will trust our security officials and minister to deny this guy re-entry based on something he did that you guys dont know about. They have no need to provide you with proof. Those are unfortunately for you the laws as written.If you dont like them petition to have the laws changed but dont accuse a democratically elected minister of being a racist based on scant evidence.

Fooking amazing. Accusing the government of racism is "tin-foil hat" territory. But all "Colin's" spy talk about denying citizens the right to return to Canada based on secret evidence is ... what's the polar opposite of the tin-foil hat wearer? The person with a childish faith in authority?

Later, in another thread, Colin dropped this bit of geo-political drivel (and this is the shit I'd like to start demolishing):

Thwap,Im not sure you are even using your brain or whether you borrowed a defective one from some sociology dept professor.I dont care who Karzai kills rapes or fucks. I dont care at all about those people. If you think radical islamists hate us because of something we have done you are the biggest fool of all. They hate us because we are not like them. They hate all non-muslims, you included. They would of course refer to you as a useful idiot because you refuse to acknowledge the threat they pose.At this point all I care about is that our armies could with proper political clearance wipe those child-raping, misogynous fuckers off the face of the earth. The simple fucking fact if you want to engage your critical faculties is that no terrorist group can set up camp and use it as a base of operations to attack me. Full stop. Thats all I care about. The rest of the fuckers can sodomize their nephews and marry their nieces, I dont care.If we would drop the silly notion that we have to minimize casualties we could massacre a few villages, wipe the people you consider to be scum out and lets goats graze in peace again. We cant win if we dont kill lots of people. We should get at it because these guys breed like rabbits.

And this, once again, is why we mock them and hate them.

Let's begin:

More stuff.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

They Walk Among Us ...

I've been wasting my time over at "Celestial Junk" today, trying to make "Paul" and his readers understand that the moronic Condoleeza Rice didn't really trash the fine, upstanding individual who confronted her about her past regime's torture policies (a "moonbat" in bushlovers' parlance). Not only did Condi fail to make the young man look like an idiot, every single word out of her mouth showed her to be an absolute cretin. The bulk of my contributions are reproduced below in case they get deleted, though to his great good credit, "Paul" has not resorted to that so far.

1. You know, it's funny. Guys like me on the left think that people like you are all drooling idiots, but you people on the right say the same stuff about us.

Wouldn't it be great if we could dispense with the insults and have a mature, intelligent debate on the facts?

That'd be awesome. The only thing standing in the way is that you people really are drooling idiots for whom facts are meaningless. You're incapable of intelligent debate because you were all born stupid and it's simply too much work for your tiny brains to achieve.

You took this film clip of the super-incompetent Condoleeza Rice as something to cheer about? It's sad, it's sick, it's pathetic, that you find yourselves vindicated in that ridiculous performance.

I'm going to tell you why and then I'm going to watch your responses. You're either going to delete my post, or you're going to type something stupid, incoherent and irrelevant. Or you're going to go "Gee. He's right. Condi does look pretty stupid there. Maybe I should give up blogging, shut my mouth, and stay out of politics for the rest of my life. I won't even vote because I'm just not up to the job of not picking somebody evil, stupid and corrupt."

(I suspect it's going to be either the first or second option you'll all go for.)

First off, I read last night that Condi said somewhere that Nazi Germany never attacked the continental United States.


In 1942, Nazi U-boats attacked ships in harbours off the US Atlantic Coast sinking more tonnage of ships than the Japanese did between Pearl Harbour and Midway.

Furthermore, what is the relevance of the 9-11 attack to the enormity of the danger represented by Nazi Germany? Nazi Germany was by far a more powerful threat than Al Qaeda can ever hope to be.

She's asked about "Indefinite Detention" and she says that the Supreme Court is preventing the Guantanamo detainees from receiving trials under the Military Commissions Act. The SCOTUS is "holding up" those "trials" because they've been condemned both inside and out as kangaroo courts dedicated only to achieving convictions. They're a disgrace. I don't blame the guy for not being able to answer her question given the bizarre way that she framed it.

She points to the ICRC as saying there's no torture at Guantanamo. Here's the ICRC's actual position:

"The contents of the ICRC's representations and reports are confidential and for the exclusive attention of the relevant detaining authorities. Therefore, in accordance with its usual policy, the organization will not publicly confirm or deny whether the quotations in the article entitled "Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantanamo", which appeared in the New York Times of 30 November, reflect findings reported by the ICRC to the United States authorities regarding the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

So, in order to continue to have access to the prisoners so that they can be able to communicate with their families outside, the ICRC refrains from public condemnation of the jailers.

What else do they do?

"its policy of direct and confidential representations to the detaining authorities"

So they bring their concerns to the torturers in private. Occasionally though, stuff leaks out, like this article in the pinko-commie-terrorist lovin' National Post:

"Health workers violated medical ethics when they helped interrogate terrorism suspects who were tortured at secret CIA prisons overseas, the International Committee of the Red Cross said." id=1474333

The OSCE visits that she cites are pretty dubious. An unaffiliated "expert" accompanied their mission to Guantanamo and said conditions there were better than in Belgian prisons, but the OSCE took pains to point out that he did not represent them. Two reports, one in 2005, the other in 2007 both urged that the facility be closed.

Maybe she didn't read that while she was casting about desperately for sources of exoneration. Maybe one doesn't have to know about every scrap of paper Dick Cheney pulls out of his ass to rationalize his policies before speaking out against them. Condi was particularly slimey in that part of the exchange.

Her last bit about water-boarding is actually amazingly bad. Listen to what she says. She says that the president told her that they were not to do anything that violated the USA's legal obligations. Then she says (in typical, gutless bushie fashion) that she didn't authorize anything anyway, she just conveyed the authorization of the president/justice department.

Note: Those Justice Department memos are now the subject of possible legal action because everything from John Yoo's green-lighting crushing the testicles of a suspect's child to the drivel about locking people up in coffins with caterpillars, is legal garbage. Those memos were describing actiosn that were clearly illegal.

Then, the idiot says, "by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

That's akin to Nixon's claim that if the president orders something then it's not illegal. Which is a way of saying that the president is above the law. Which is a dangerous thing if you think about it. Imagine, dears, if presidents were above the law. Imagine if president Obama could make any action he thought of become legal. Ooooh! Wouldn't you guys be scared! But you're fine with listening to a 10th-rate moron like Condi Rice justify the president's ordering of torture with that justification!

She yammers on and on about how terrible it would have been to have 3,000 more Americans die in a second attack, and it's quite revolting, given how the first 3,000 Americans died because of the supreme incompetence and laziness of the administration she served AND because nothing, but nothing, was gained with all of her torture.

In short, what Rice offered there was an extended string of falsehoods, irrelevancies, mistakes and evasions that do nothing to erase the fact that she's both a war criminal and an incompetent.

What say you folks now???

2. Actually Paul, I don't know anything about the imbecile who writes the "barton bulletin" and all his stupid, insulting garbage about liberal softies and their raggedy ann dolls.

I don't particularly care about what the dingbat has to say about anything when he spouts garbage like that.

Idiots like him make the world LESS safe, for all their chest-beating about how much we owe them.

Stress positions are torture. Water-boarding is torture. Sleep deprivation is torture. Locking people in coffins is torture.

Perhaps Mr. Barton's brain got screwed up when he was water-boarded?

Regarding your ignorance about the Geneva Conventions:

The ICRC (of which Ms. Rice was so eager to manipulate) says this:

"Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention states: "Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy," belong to any of the categories for POWs, "such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal."

In 1987, Ronald Reagan's Deputy Legal Advisor to the State Department said the following:

"We [the United States] do support the principle that, should any doubt arise as to whether a person is entitled to combatant status, he be so treated until his status has been determined by a competent tribunal, as well as the principle that if a person who has fallen into the power of an adversary is not held as a prisoner of war and is to be tried for an offense arising out of the hostilities, he should have the right to assert his entitlement before a judicial tribunal and to have that question adjudicated."

Face it Paul, Condi is an idiot. And your rationalizations for your sadism are wearing thin.

3. Paul,

Let's review: You started off with the insults. According to your own logic you lost before you started. And that's the first correct thing you've said here.

(For the record, I really don't care about the name-calling. What infuriates me about you people is how you think you've got the right to toss insults about when it's you who are so lamentably stupid.)

Condi defends Guantanamo by stating that the ICRC hasn't criticized them, when the facts are:

1. The ICRC's policy is to not criticize governments publicly but to express its concerns privately.

2. Very strong ICRC criticism about torture at Guantanamo was leaked to the media, including the National Post.

Condi mentions the OSCE as saying that Guanatanamo is on par with a typical medium-security prison in Europe.

The facts are:

1. The person who wrote that was not a member of the OSCE but an academic who accompanied an OSCE delegation to Guantanamo

2. The OSCE condemnend Guantanamo in two reports, said it lowered the USA's moral standing in the world and called for it to close.

Condi said that indefinite detentions were a problem, and that the bush II regime tried to bring that to an end with their invention of the Military Tribunals.

The fact is that the Military Tribunals have been almost universally condemned as illegitimate kangaroo courts, with military lawyers resigning in order to not have to participate in a legal sham.

As Condi tells her interviewer, the SCOTUS itself (a very conservative body dominated by Republican nominees!) condemned it. It must have been pretty bad for that SCOTUS to have to have done that.

Condi says that water-boarding is not torture and therefore is not illegal by simply insisting that this is so because the president said they could do it.

That's it. Read that again. Listen to her say that. Then stop and try really, really hard to grasp the significance of that.

I'll wait Paul. Scruntch up your eyes and furrow your brows and use that little brain of yours and THINK!!

COME ON PAUL!!! You can do it!!! THINK!!!


Okay? Hopefully you've figured out that stating that the president's okay is all that's needed to make something legal is a very dangerous precedent. Why, Obama could make his FEMA re-education camps legal if presidents had that power, couldn't he?

Now, Condi justified all of this torture by stating that terrorism constitutes the greatest threat the USA has ever faced. The terrorists are apparently scarier than the Nazis and the Soviets. This is due to the fact that only the terrorists attacked the homeland of the United States.

1. It's false to say that the Nazis never attacked the U.S. homeland. full stop.

2. It's irrelevant to the question. Do you need to torture someone, is that person so ruthless that torture is needed to protect the USA, simply because they managed to conduct one attack on the U.S. mainland? Were the Nazi's not a ruthless, evil organization controlling one of the world's major industrial nations? Did not the Soviets have ICBMs that targeted the USA and were they not inspired by a powerful, fanatical ideology?

If torture was not required to be official state policy in either WWII or the Cold War, then it isn't required against Al Qaeda.

Now, I'll bother to watch that Holder video, but I was turned off by the stupid rhetoric at the site hosting it and I honestly don't give a shit about Obama's opinion because I've never been very impressed with him.

But I'd like to see some acknowledgement of my case against Condi's blithering besides your usual off-topic drivel.

4. Paul,

Did I say that a leak from an ICRC proved that there was torture going on?

No. No I did not.

What it does do is demolish Condi's claim that the ICRC has no complaints about Gitmo. It demolishes that completely.

For the record though, you must admit that the ICRC is a respectable organization and that their allegations must be given at least some weight, right?

Suspected terrorists have the rights to:

1. Have their status determined by a competent tribunal


2. Have the right to either a civil court or to be tried by a military tribunal consistent with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (That's what your "needed to parallel regular military tribunals" string of words mean. The UCMJ already has an internationally recognized, legitimate process for deciding these questions and bush II's tribunals failed to meet that level.)

These are not simply prisoners of war, as your team admits when categorizing them with the made-up term "illegal combatants." Many of the men held at Guantanamo were innocent. Some of them were handed over by Afghan warlords seeking to collect bounties. Condi, bush II, et. al. were basically saying that they've scooped up some men, accused them of being terrorists, and want to hold them as prisoners in an unending war, and they want to put them on trials tailor-made to guarantee convictions.

That's pretty chilling when you think about it.

It is an opinion that the Military Tribunals were kangaroo courts. It was the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States. Deal With It.

And when military prosecutors resign in disgust rather than participate in legal shams, that isn't just something to roll your eyes over. It means something. It means we have to take this issue SERIOUSLY.

Condi is WRONG. "Enhanced interrogation methods" ARE torture. It's a FACT. To take but one example, stress positions:

"In 1956, the CIA commissioned two Cornell Medical Center researchers to study Soviet interrogation techniques, including standing for extended periods of time. They concluded, "The KGB simply made victims stand for eighteen to twenty-four hoursproducing 'excruciating pain' as ankles double in size, skin becomes 'tense and intensely painful,' blisters erupt oozing 'watery serum,' heart rates soar, kidneys shut down, and delusions deepen."

Also at the site you can see that the Israeli Supreme Court declared stress positions to be a form of torture.

Let's remember that the legal opinion you're relying on to exonerate these practices was the Gonzales Justice Department. You're relying on John Yoo who believes that the president can have the testicles of a terrorist SUSPECT'S child smashed in order to obtain testimony. The madman actually believes that there is no national or international statute that prevents the president from doing that.

Those legal opinions are garbage. The United States is bound by the Geneva Conventions to respect the humanity of all individuals it captures. If there is any question as to the legal status of a detainee this must be decided by a competent tribunal. Not only is inflicting bodily pain illegal, so too is degrading and humiliating treatment.

You keep trying to bring up Obama and his replicating some of the actions of the bush II regime as if it means anything to me.

These things are illegal and to the extent that Obama does them he should be condemned as well.

Finally, you're right about the past evidence of torture and summary executions in the past. That's why I was careful to say that it was not "official state policy" rather than to simply state that it never happened. I mentioned how Ronald Reagan had said that torture was never justified under any circumstances when the fact is that US-backed death squads were killing and torturing with impunity throughout Central America during the 1980s and the School of the Americas was found to have been teaching torture methods to them:

It might be understandable that somebody resorts to torture under extreme circumstances. It might be understandable, but it is hardly ever justified and it should NEVER become official policy.

I would understand it if someone killed a person who murdered someone's loved one but was released on a legal technicality. I would hesitate to say that person was justified. And I would certainly not want such individual justice to be legalized. And I would especially not want the agents of the state (police, military) to be able to decide who is innocent and who should be tortured until they confess their guilt before they're executed.

These are not complex questions. This is whether we have Western conceptions of justice and the rule of law or whether we embrace the legal standards of the People's Republic of China.

I know where I stand. You appear to be of the "guilty until proven innocent" standard.

[for the record, i've pushed "publish" twice now and it hasn't posted and it hasn't told me what the problem is. If this shows up three times, my apologies.]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Deleted Comment

In the brief, futile debate on Afghanistan that I began with "Brian" of the "Canada-Afghanistan Blog," I also encountered Canada's version of Christopher Hitchens, Terry Glavin. I had great expectations of a vigorous debate with both those individuals, but, alas, as I've detailed in tiresome detail here at the schoolyard, twas not to be. Glavin deletes contrarian comments on his blog without even thinking about it, and launches into tirades alternating between self-pity about his persecutions at the hands of the anti-war crowd and insults to his opponents. "Brian" simply ignored the comments for a short while before resorting to his colleague's practice of deleting them. After some empty-headed attempts at condescension, "Brian" said that he'd delete everything we (anti-war readers) typed from now on, unless we said something intelligent (by his standards). I typed what was to be my last missive (which was later deleted) but then re-read his critique of my posts and noticed that he'd called me "anti-American." Well, that just couldn't stand, so I typed the following:

Oh, but I just noticed you called me "Anti-American." Before I leave you to the brain-destroying writings of Rosie Di-Fucking-Moron, let me say this:

"America" doesn't = "Bagram Airbase."

The United States of America does stuff you know. Because it's the most powerful country in the world. Some of that stuff is nasty. If you understood how the world really works, you'd know that. But the United States is a big country with lots of people and a rich culture. It is more than the depredations of its foreign policy elites and their killing machines. If you choose to equate "America" with Reagan's deathsquads, bush II's Guantanamo and Bagram (which is now Obama's Bagram) that's your business. But given the abhorrent nature of those abominations, I rather think that your equating them with the USA makes you the "Anti-American."

A last word Brian. I think you're deluded. I don't think you're an idiot. I actually think that if you blind yourself to the fundamentals of this project and our involvement in it, there's enough to the rationalizationis, the "cover story" to justify your devotion to it. But there's a reason we [the West] has been there since 2001 and the country remains a basketcase with a GROWING insurgency. And that's because the people in charge DON'T GIVE A SHIT about the people of Afghanistan.

Terry Glavin is obviously too far gone to be reasoned with. And, for the record, immature, what with his deleting comments and heaping insult after insult upon anyone who disagrees with him. But I thought you had a stronger core than that.

If people disagree they will go back-and-forth on a subject, obviously. They don't agree. They dispute with each other. But if you want to cocoon yourself with the ravings of Glavin, DiManno, and Canadian officials who speak mindlessly of "progress" year after year after fucking year, then you're hopeless.

This was subsequently deleted as well. But I think there's something worthwhile in that so I've re-posted it here (after considerable delay).

Finally, I can't resist mentioning that one of the things Glavin wails about in his pity-parties is how he's called all sorts of awful names by the anti-war crowd; "imperialist," "war-monger," etc. To which I can only say, "boo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" As if Glavin and Brian don't sling the insults about. Maybe they should take up their painful sufferings with "Taliban Jack."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu gets H1N1'd!!!!!

Gotta love the way Steven parodies the sensationalist coverage of the swine flu outbreak:


Friday, May 1, 2009

"Fisking" "Peter"

I don't know what's up with my use of quotation marks in the title. I started this post over a week ago. Here it is ...

Dr. Dawg blogged about a week ago about how Obama was releasing the torture memos of the bush II regime which the American Civil Liberties Union had sued for, but he was insisting that no CIA or other institutional torturers would ever be charged for their crimes, saying they were just serving their country. "Only following orders" as the Nuremburg Defense goes.

A few authoritarian goons and torture apologists tried to take issue with this rather inarguable analogy and you can check out the debate there at the Dawg's site.

But commentator "Peter" and I got into a bit of a discussion and you can watch it build to the crescendo that I intend to "Fisk" (apparently a process of critiquing someone by inserting questions, comments and counter-arguments to their work between cut-and-pasted snippets of it -- the term originated in some lame-brain right-winger's attempt to discredit a piece by Mid-East journalist Robert Fisk) below. "Peter's" offering was such a titanic dropping of "War on Terror" bullshit and delusion that I felt it would be a good subject for a post.

The quote begins with "Peter" responding to my statement that his confused attempts to defend himself resemble a mouse dashing madly this way and that way, in a panic, trying to escape from its discoverer:
Reading you is like watching a frightened mouse...
Frightened of what? If all you are saying is that I am conflicted over this, shoot me or maybe waterboard me.

"Peter" resorted to this bizarre tactic a couple of times, ... alleging violent impulses among those people opposed to immunity from prosecution to torturers. Evidently it's the torture apologists like "Peter" who were feeling threatened in that discussion.

The countries of the Anglosphere (and in some ways the Americans above all) and certain others like the Scandinavians are marked by a firm cultural adherence to the rule of law and a strict accountability of leaders to it.

The very discussion in which "Peter" makes this ridiculous claim is one where US torturers are being granted immunity for actions that they knew were illegal at the time. And it is "Peter" and his ilk who are trying to deny this illegality in the face of overwhelming evidence.

There is little concept of higher morality or raison d'etat that plays except in extremis, but of course most of the world is not so fettered.

What meaningless crap. "Peter" is attempting to argue that US officials never perform morally dubious actions while justifying themselves with claims that they are obeying a greater good than the rule of law, that US officials have never used "reasons of state" to defend crimes against humanity. But who is not as "fettered" as "Peter's" imaginary law-abiding Anglo-Americans and Swedes?

France ...
Oh for god's sake! Pass the "freedom fries"! Heavens! The turd has insulted Eternal France!!! As a leftist I must fan myself and clutch my pearls in shock at this slight to the country je tous adore!!! "France! France! France!!" What a bunch of twisted morons these right-wingers are.

...has more of this kind of crap in its past than most others and let's not even begin to talk Russia and China.
No!! Not the glorious Russia and China!! One of 'em used to be "socialist" and the other one "still" is!! They can't be nasty! They just can't!! "Peter" might be surprised to know that critics of the USA's torture policies are quite capable of knowing about France's nasty imperialist actions, and that the totalitarian dictatorships of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China were awful both domestically and abroad. We're also aware that Putin's Russia is another blight. But it's quite rich hearing from an apologist for US torture about the behaviour of totalitarian dictatorships in an attempt to "school" critics of US torture. The reason that the USA has not descended into the wholesale, multiple holocausts of Nazi Germany or Stalin's USSR has more to do with the vocal criticisms of people like us (who decry torture) than with people like "Peter" who rationalize it. Right here you can see the utterly insane, intellectually bankrupt starting point for these monkeys.

Anyway, so the Americans find themselves in a war against a terrorist, irregular enemy that practices savagery against civilians, decapitates innocents on video and executes women for adultery in public.
Our enemies are bad people. Got it.

They [USA] bend/ stretch/break the rules about prisoner interrogation, not to cause death or injury, but to maximize fear, humiliation, degradation and psychological terror in murky and semi-public circumstances and under cover of putative legal authority.
"Putative" means "commonly accepted or supposed" or "assumed to exist or have existed" and "Peter" is stretching things to say that the Gonzales Justice Department's definitions of what constituted torture and what didn't were "commonly accepted" by the rest of humanity. These actions are all clearly illegal. Here's Geneva Convention III, Article 3, on the treatment of prisoners. Note what is banned:

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
Let's also not forget that over 100 prisoners taken by the USA in its "War on Terror" have died mysteriously. I think even John Yoo would be hard-pressed to rationalize that.

This leads to an outcry and ultimately a reversal, generated from within rather than in response to pressures from Canadian bloggers.
Well, "Peter" you stupid fucking moron, Canadian bloggers haven't taken credit for any of this. But don't for a goddamned minute imagine that this reversal came all of its own as a result of the bush II regime or the Obama administration acting in a vacuum. Sustained outrage from people like the Canadian bloggers "Peter" so derides, especially from USian bloggers, helped to create this reversal.

So far, so good, arguably even healthy.

Not by a long shot buddy. Unless you can make any fool claim "arguably."

So, what happens or should happen to the guys who did it? You are, in your own words, "itching" to see these guys punished ...

"Peter" is stretching things again. Earlier in the discussion it seemed as if "Peter" was saying that my calling for the rule of law in what were clearly, inarguably, illegal actions made my whole case illegitimate. And, as others have argued, even if somebody is "itching" to see somebody else punished, that is no reason NOT to have an investigation and/or a trial.

But let's continue with our "Peter" ...

because presumably you have constructed yourself a nice litle morality play starring Good and Evil,

This is going to get good folks. First of all, the morality play is about the rule of law. It's about preventing our governments from having the legal power to torture ANYONE, whether they're Al Qaeda or some poor shlub turned in by an opportunistic Afghan warlord looking for a bounty or an anti-government protestor.
mainly by ignoring who and what they were fighting

Wow! Look whose got a "nice little morality play" going on. "Peter," you contemptible piece of shit, 500,000 Iraqi children died needlessly as a result of USA-UK enforced UN sanctions. (And, for the record, there's no cause to blame that on Saddam Hussein.) Millions have been made refugees. Hundreds of thousands have died violent deaths. Billions of dollars have gone missing or gone to Dick "fucking-puke-scumbag" Cheney's pals at Haliburton. "Peter," you're a pathetic moron.
and giving the words "international law" the unquestionable authority a toddler gives to "My Daddy says...".


But I take my good friend sir francis's research seriously and note this quote from the trailer: "You had young soldiers with little training just as the rules were changing and they didn't know what the new rules were." Obama decides the old order will changeth but that the circumstances do not merit prosecutions. Not unlike the approach Mandela and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission took.

No firing squad at dawn to satisfy thwap's bloodlust. Bummer.

My bloodlust??? You fucking idiot!! You're the one slavering to defend torture!! People like "Peter" are unreal, are they not?
Meanwhile, sir francis knows this is all--and I do mean all--the result of American imperial ambitions that have turned peaceful agrarian reformers into murderous religious fanatics, and also the corruption of the ideals of Jefferson and Paine that he never had much time for anyway. Could be, I suppose, but then as sir francis predictably lays everything from genocide to road rage at the feet of the rapacious Yankee trader and his traitorous Canadian satraps, listening to him eventually comes to resemble being forced to listen to extremely loud rock music for hours before being interrogated by U.S. Special Forces. Inevitably sensory deprivation sets in.

That last bit of incoherent rambling was directed at another participant in the discussion, "Sir Francis" of "Dred Tory." As near as I can figure out, he's trying to say that holding the USA accountable for specific actions is akin to blaming the USA for "everything," which would be completely unfair, were it true. It makes as much sense if "Peter" responded to a complaint about his not flushing the toilet after he'd finished by screaming: "You always blame me for EVERYTHING that goes WRONG in the WORLD!!!! WAHHHHH!!!!!"