Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Self-declared security detail for Rand Paul (a libertarian candidate for the Senate who is most famous for not being so sure if he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act) wrestles a 110 pound woman to the ground after a public debate between their candidate and the Democratic contender, and then stomps her on the shoulder and head, resulting in a concussion.

Fortunately for her, someone caught this on video.

What does headstomping guy say in an interview?

"I don't think it's that big of a deal. I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."

The man who held her down, by the way, was wearing one of those nice 'ellow flag buttons that say: Don't tread on me.

Headstompin' man is also member of an organization that endorses 'open carry' laws -- meaning you should be allowed to carry firearms openly in public spaces. In case his feet get defective and/or his thug buddies aren't around, I suppose.

Irony is now officially dead, and stock for brown shirts is soaring like crazy.

Monday, October 25, 2010


"Every time I get on the plane and I see a priest in his Catholic garb, I clutch my son a little tighter to my heart."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Love Klemperer's work on the language of military and dictatorial obfuscation (He called it LTI, Lingua Tertii Imperii -- Language of the Third Reich).

Less love for the NY Times' application thereof.

As for instance here.

Cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid -- that's not torture; that is merely, sez the Times, 'abuse' -- a physical maltreatment. (Step up from an oopsie, shall we assume?)

Enter Rob Beschizza, with his awesome and insightful NYT torture euphemism generator.

I hope the LTI-inspired folks at the NYT (and in our government) click and click this app until they finally realize what they are doing.

And hang their head in shame.

(Fat chance.)

Merriam-Webster's definition of torture:

1 a : anguish of body or mind : agony

b : something that causes agony or pain

2 : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure

3 : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining


(Under definition 3, of course, the NYT is clearly torturing the very definition of torture.)

Friday, October 22, 2010


Now we know.

Those killed in six years (1/2004-12/2009) of the Iraq war:

- 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents)
- 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces)
- 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces)
- 66,081 'civilians'

Suggestions for a healthy discussion here in the US:
- Why are the Iraqi 'host' forces more than 4 times as likely to get killed than the coalition combat troops? Given that this isn't their war, how do we justify this?
- Why isn't there a public outcry (or even public acknowledgment) that this needless war has now killed more Americans than the 9/11 attack?
- How on earth and in the name of what g*d can anyone justify the death of 66,000 civilians, 60% of the casualties?

What the discussion here in the US is going to be about: How Wikileaks' info dump is going to endanger 'our troops'. (Well then: Pull them out already.)


The Guardian
has processed all this into more manageable data formats, including a Google map of every incident.

Markus Baram writes:

Most shockingly, the documents allegedly show that US troops abused prisoners for years even after the Abu Ghraib scandal and that the US ignored systemic abuse, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers, according to several news reports.

The allegations of prisoner abuse by US troops from 2005 to 2009 occurred despite a crackdown on such behavior that was promised in the wake of the 2004 scandal over abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which reports that "303 allegations of abuse by coalition forces were reported in the military files after 2004."

Another piece in The Guardian details:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

Which would also lead one to ask whether certain recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize can be un-Nobled.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


For some reason, I sometimes pull my news from the BBC.

Last week, I found this entry on a secret prison the US is running at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Nicknamed the Black Hole. The military (and that's okay; it's part of their job) denies the existence of this prison, which seems to be running on the tired principles of sleep deprivation and individual humiliation that have now become hallmark for how the US treats prisoners of war. The alleged abuses (which have been documented before by the BBC, but I somehow missed that) occurred well after Obama issued his benighted angels-from-on-high executive order Ensuring Lawful Interrogations, which was supposed to put an end to these kind of antics and bring the Shining Beacon back in line with (yeah, I remember it fondly) international law and (golly, almost forgot about those!) the various treaties we have signed over the years (like the Geneva Convention for starters, and the UN Convention against Torture). Plus, of course, well, uh: US law.

After I quit screaming my head off in first utter disbelief and then utter disgust, I started wondering why I needed the BBC to tell me that. The organization which is now pushing this story is based in New York, so it isn't, I presume, that they only talked to the Beeb. And it's not like, you know, you need complicated Internetzmaneuvers to get your hands on the original document. It's also not like well-known human rights organizations have not taken this up. Amnesty International tries to save the day by simply assuming a benign forgetfulness on our part, or perhaps 't is that we here in the good ole' US of A have kinda lost our appetite for self-examination. Ah! Good ole' US of A! Tired of the discourse, eh? The story first broke in April; now, in October, the DoD is still saying they're gonna look into it, you know, when they got, maybe, like, some time on their hands? Attention to this story in the media down here, including the lefty political blogs I so love to waste time on? Zero. (More interested in Aqua Buddha and whether some Latinos under the right light might look Asian after all, and let's bet that by the time you read this you've already forgotten what the heck I'm talking about.)

Well, we can now at least cast aside the notion that Obama was an innocent bystander dragged into a war he was going to make all better once he fully understood it.

Also -- where the fuck are my sisters and brethren in, just to name one, the literary world (except for you, Nick, darling) with your electrifying prose when this nation could need a nice artistically executed kick in the gonads*? Right: Too busy writing white-folk family sagas, or else too caught up in the romantic occult to see the real vampires we're all in bed with.

So, inevitably, stupidly, maddingly: So it goes.

But need it go so?

Fuck the power; sharpen the fangs?

* I have absolutely NOTHING against a nice mixed metaphor.