decree


decree
Originally uploaded by broken thoughts.

I had a really good trip to the Ani concert in Chicago. The show was excellent and I’ll have more to say, but I wanted to get this sad metaphor posted. It so excellently fits one of Ani’s newest songs that she played.

cuz daddy knows best
yes, this is the news
in 90-second segments
officially produced
and aired again and again and again
by the little black and white pawns
of the network yes men
while the stars are going out
and the stripes are getting bent

while the stars are going out
and the stripes are getting bent

Ani DiFranco. “decree.” reprieve

Something stinks in my country

News from the BBC yesterday:

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali gets 30 years for conspiracy

"Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but Judge Lee
said that Abu Ali’s actions "did not result in one single actual
victim" and no weapons were found in his possession."

Disgraced former US lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been jailed for nearly six years for conspiracy and fraud.

Oh, the horror!  He’s been disgraced of all things.  In his case we’re talking 10′s of millions of dollars and thousands (at least) of victims.

Please don’t misunderstand me, especially you spooks out there.  I am not advocating terrorism nor assassination.  But if Ali deserves 30 years, so does Abramoff.  Honestly, there’s a far bigger disgrace here than poor Jack Abramoff’s.  Hmmm, I wonder how many politicians (on both sides) butts have been saved by such a light sentence.

Remember kiddies, in theocorporate America it is perfectly OK to steal from and for politicians, and even better if it is from those pesky Indians, but you had best not ever even think about assassinating his Highness the President.

My Neighborhood

The decision to post this came about due to a comment from Angel on my post from yesterday, "One more destroyed life. How many more?"

The following originated as an email to a friend of mine, Gina the anthropologist, after an incident at a discussion forum we attended after Bowling for Columbine.  It was linked to my essay on "Communities" for my first LIS course, which I posted a few days ago.  I am going to put the info in as it was linked to the Communities essay for my class (with a small amount of reformatting).  Then I will expand on it a bit to help clarify and put it in context.


My Neighborhood

Last Friday (May 16 2003) after seeing Bowling for Columbine at the wonderful Normal Theater I attended a discussion group after the movie where a friend of mine asked about the part of town in which I live.  Now, I live in the ‘slums’ of Normal, IL – such a place!  Anyway, I confirmed, rather vehemently, that a mistaken racist, classist view exists of my neighborhood.  I had to write her a few days later to ensure that she knew that I had been considering just what it is about the demonization of ‘our space’ over here across ‘the tracks’ that bothers me so much.  It was not a pretty view of America that I discovered…

<text of the email>

I’ve wanted to make time to write you & say that I hope that you knew that my rather heated commentary on your comments about my neighborhood were not directed at you.  It is just a situation that I am beginning to see for what it really is, & I take it personally.  I’ve been thinking about it & I think I know why I feel that the crime around here isn’t so dramatically bad (other than it’s not – it just helps to sell a culture of fear…).

First though, I want to comment that the new police sub-station hasn’t been open much since most of the students have been gone.  Not quite sure what that says about the racist, classist overtones to the ‘crime problem’ here.  Just something I realized that I had noticed & have watched for since last Friday evening. 

A little after I realized the cops weren’t around near as much (they most certainly didn’t disappear!), I realized that the violence level at most military installations & their surrounds was much the same as here.  Military Police are busy at military housing areas.  Lots of people living below or well below the poverty line just trying to get by in a world stacked against them.  Lots of alcohol & minor drug violations – people cope in lots of ways & lots of domestic stuff; some of this stuff needs to be stopped & maybe punished, but much of it is just inserting a calmer presence before things get out of hand.  Either way it keeps the cops busy, and allows them to grow, expand, hire new officers – don’t let them fool you, they love a good growth industry & somebody had to feed the Queen of Growth for the last couple of decades – the prison industry in America!  They sort by winner & loser, and they need to remove ‘the problem,’ so they jail them!  But you rarely hear this kind of commentary on the military – these expendable people don’t need to be jailed – they serve another purpose, but we’ll still keep them below poverty!  But the general public doesn’t need to know about our little behavior problems – these folks at least have a use!  Look at the shocking rate of rape in the service academies, how about service-wide?

Crime can’t be that horrible around here if we can seriously complain (and rightly so!) about the police shooting of Nathan Rusch and the mentally disabled young man (and this pretty much covers the extent of killings around here – one more non-police related one at the Eagle).

I’m not saying that it is the safest or best place to live but for people with no money & no legit way to make much more it is often home – and I’ve lived with these sorts of people for close to 20 years & my kids were raised in it.  They turned out OK so far by these peoples’ system.  Hell, Jeremy is another perfect pawn – serving their purposes sitting in the desert north of Tikrit!  And Sara is at a premier college, and succeeding wildly by anyone’s standards, and pretty much being paid to do so!  I guess all that this shows is that the environment is not necessarily damning, but it pretty much inherently is.  And it at least usually keeps at least one generation down….

Sorry for running on – I had a pint of beer earlier – and I have been thinking about this…  This in many ways hasn’t been, and isn’t, an easy realization for me.  I still have many ingrained prejudices on occasion, but I now see the vast similarity between two sub-cultures, one of which at least serves a purpose, for a while, the other just needs to be locked away…  "Growth is good!"

</end of email>

18 June 2003
By the way, the sub-station has rarely been open since most of the students left in mid-May.  It wasn’t even open at 11 PM on Memorial Day – the end of a long holiday and it is totally quiet.  Hmmm…


Normal, IL is the sister city of Bloomington, IL and lies in the heart of McLean County.  These 2 cities with a population of just over 100,000 between them are home to Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Heartland Community College, and the outreach campuses of 2 other Illinois colleges.  It is the home of a Mitsubishi Motor plant (yes, the infamous one), and is the world headquarters of State Farm Insurance, and home to Country Companies Insurance.

You can’t get much more mid-American, Republican, or white bread than Bloomington-Normal.  There is little serious crime, although at the point this had been written there had recently been 3 killings; two of which were done by the police.  I do NOT like the way my paragraph about the killings reads at all.  It seems as if I am belittling the issue when that is absolutely not the case, but it is what I wrote to my friend, so it stands.

I lived in the northwest corner of Normal near the Eagle and surrounding subsidized housing (apartment) complexes.  Many poor people, and many of color, lived in these housing complexes.  My ex-wife and daughter moved into the supposedly worst one right after we got divorced.  I lvied about a 2-3 minute walk up the street from them in a 6-unit apartment building on Northbrook Drive.  There is also a lot of these sorts of apartments in this area, with most of these filled by college students.

Many people around B-N refer to this part of town as the "slums" of Normal.  And while they are no such thing, they are the closest Normal will get for a long time.  Many people (read white people) don’t like going over there.  You can certainly get pulled over for "drivng while black" in that area.  I had several friends pulled over for just that reason.  I lived there for 6 years and never once got pulled over.  But then I was a white guy in a minvan with veteran’s plates….  Seems radically unfair to me.

Anyway, Gina was only repeating something that she had heard from various, supposedly liberal and highly educated, people (humanities and social science profs primarily).  But I had had several strands running through my mind for a while and seeing Bowling for Columbine with its emotional appeal had tied some of them together.  At the discussion afterwards, Gina repeated some comment she had heard repeatedly, more as a question really, about my side of town and I reacted.  I reacted a bit more passionately than I probably should have at the time. 

That incident served as a further catalyst in allowing me to tie so many disparate strands together.  I made some notes, did some thinking and some writing, and then emailed her an explanation/apology.  I also did quite a bit of crying, cursing, and screaming, mostly directed at my government and my nation that abides and institutionalizes these various forms of racism and classism.  Of course, we also talked about it later.  As far as she was concerned, I hadn’t needed to apologize, but I’m glad I did.

Shortly before this incident, the Normal Police Department put in a new police sub-station right across from the apartment buildings where my ex and daughter had lived.  This was the 1st sub-station in Normal and it was needed because of all the scum who lived in the neighborhood.  That was the reasoning anyway.  Lots of drug use, alcohol incidents, some vandalism, some spouse and probably child abuse, and so on.

Well, the new police sub-station opened to great fanfare just a few weeks before the end of the spring semester.  It was open all night and most of the day for a couple of weeks.  There were lots of roadblocks, lots of sweeps through apartment complexes, and large numbers of arrests for minor violations.  But then something happened.  Most of the students left for the summer.  And guess what?  The police sub-station was rarely open, even during the long Memorial Day weekend.

Summer remained rather quiet with the same sort of police presence as pre-sub-station levels.  Once the students came back (overwhelmingly, white students) the sub-station reopened regularly.  Hmmm….  Says something about racism and classism to me considering the "justification" for putting in the police sub-station in the first place.

And yes, I drew a distinct connection between living in military enlisted quarters and my neighborhood then.  And I certainly stand by it today.  The environments are highly similar.  "Lots of alcohol & minor drug violations – people cope in lots of
ways & lots of domestic stuff; some of this stuff needs to be
stopped & maybe punished, but much of it is just inserting a calmer
presence before things get out of hand. "  In one the truth is seriously spun and is used to scare the citizens, while in the other the truth is hidden and kept from the citizenry because "heroes" wouldn’t engage in those sorts of behaviors even if their existential conditions are highly similar.

Just as much of the ethnic non-white in this country needs to be locked away (not my view, but society’s), that is, they are fully expendable, so are the military; they just serve a more useful purpose, for a time.  Take a look at recruitment efforts in poor areas, particularly ethnic areas, since the start of this war.  The All-Volunteer Force is (again) no longer representative of this country.  Only it has gone to the other extreme ethnically.  The poor and downtrodden are always represented.  Integration of the military, once held up as the epitome of an instituion overcoming its racism, has only served to further enslave the poor and ethnic of this country.

I’d like to suggest you see the part of my paper (3 paragraphs) on The Pursuit of Power regarding McNeill’s population thesis that begins "The second of McNeill’s primary theses is that population growth has
repeatedly placed great pressures on social, economic, and political
institutions around the globe and across the ages."  McNeill’s thesis primarily deals with population growth but also touches on demographic changes.  I would extend his thesis more along the demographic change axis in the late 20th/early 21st century.  We can either jail them all or send them off to die.

There is another point, which I didn’t bring out as well as I’d have liked to at the time.  Don’t think the military are expendable?  Certainly I can’t be as crass to suggest that they’d be sacrificed in combat for asinine  and illegal purposes.  Let’s pretend I’m not that crass; what about the sad state of affairs regarding vehicular and personal body armor (still!) faced by our troops?  What about the hundreds of $$ worth of supplies (and hundreds more in postage) that family members of early deployed troops had to send to their loved ones?  Many of these items were basic personal hygiene items not supplied by the military (as they are supposed to be).

More importantly, since combat troops need to be kept reasonably well supplied and healthy to complete their missions, what about those who return?  Do you have any idea about the state of the VA in this country?  Do you have any idea what percentage of homeless persons are veterans and their families?  Do you have any idea how many of them are suffering in the depths of their minds and their souls for the things they experienced?  How many more Doug Barber’s are there going to be?

What about military retirees?  In many ways, we are just as expendable.  There was a national election a year after I retired and my son who had just entered the Army told me I needed to vote for the party that would most support the military.  I told him I did not need to do any such thing as I no longer mattered to them, until, if and when, they needed to call me back to serve seeing as they "own" me for many more years.  I had voted that way for far too long, and I didn’t like what I saw happened to my country in the meantime.  I decided my vote was far more important in the arena of Supreme Court Justices, and related issues.  I was so very right on both counts; and I and my country got done so very wrong on both.

I was also very dichotomized over living in my neighborhood.  Although I didn’t think it was so bad and I bristled at others’ view of it, I certainly would have much preferred that my ex and daughter did not have to live in a subsidized housing area.  I wished that I lived somewhere "better."  But my ‘better’ had to do with living in my own house, not in someone else’s apartment, with having a yard of my own.  In other words, I wanted some little part of the great lie, the American Dream.  While I was busy defending the area I also wanted to live somewhere else.

There is a lot more involved in all this, but then it amounts to a least one dissertation, if not several.

One more destroyed life. How many more?

I have written about this topic before [among other places], and I have no doubt that I will have to again.  Such a complete shame

Please take the small amount of time out of your busy day to read "KIA in Alabama."  In my not-so-humble opinion you owe it to Doug Barber and the tens of thousands of others.

Let me explain something, as a veteran myself of eight conflict
areas, and something that Doug discovered in Balad. The sense that the
world is not a safe place is not a "disorder." It is an accurate
perception. And the sense of meaning many of us enjoy is an illusion, a
cruel construction that normalizes the orderly activity of the suburb
and nurses our children on simple-minded, Disney-fied optimism pumped
through television sets in a relentless datastream.

Post-traumatic stress is not a disorder. Calling it that earns it a
place in the DSM IV, professionalizes and medicalizes this very
accurate perception that the world is not safe, and that life is not a
comforting film convention. Calling it an individual "disorder" cloaks
the social systems responsible for experiences like Vietnam and Iraq.
And it renders invisible the fact that Douglas Barber was not merely a
suicide.

When that wordview, that architecture of meaning, collapses in the face
of realities like convoy Russian roulette, and women holding babies up
to prevent being shot, and daily stories of slaughter by the people one
sleeps with, the profound betrayal of it is not experienced as some
quiet, somber sadness. It is experienced like bees swarming out of a
hive that has been broken, as a howling chaos. So we quiet it with
marijauna, alcohol, heroin, and even shotguns.

See also: A Soldier For Truth Has Fallen: In Memory of
Specialist Doug Barber

I really should comment on this story, but Stan Goff has already done it so eloquently.  My thoughts are at the first link above, along with links to many other related stories from a few months ago.  I can add nothing new at this moment except to keep this issue fresh in your mind, and to shed far more tears than I already have, knowing full well that there are far more to come.

Original story found at A Night Light.

Update:  Sorry, but I meant to link to this bibliography on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Military (PDF; 212 KB)  Found at ResourceShelf.

Time to kill our children, and sing about it

Cowboy Junkies – Early 21st Century Blues

This is one hell of an album.  I bought it for myself around Thanksgiving after hearing a song or two on the local community radio station, WEFT 90.1.  It is my 1st Cowboy Junkies CD even though I had been intrigued by Margo Timmins voice many years ago.  I just never got around to picking up any of their CDs.

If you don’t like my political/social views then you might as well leave this post now.  This CD is about "war, violence, fear, greed, ignorance, loss…."  It is intended to "reach out and touch a couple of hearts and souls. Our goal was to create our own small document of hope."  While it is a strange kind of hope, I know this kind of hope very well.

Track listing:

01. License To Kill (Bob Dylan, Special Rider Music, ASCAP)
02. Two Soldiers (traditional arranged by Cowboy Junkies, SOCAN)
03. December Skies (Michael Timmins, Zomba Music, SOCAN)
04. This World Dreams Of (Michael Timmins, Zomba Music, SOCAN)
05. Brothers Under The Bridge (Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen, ASCAP)
06. You’re Missing (Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Springsteen, ASCAP)
07. Handouts In The Rain (Richie Havens, EMI Publishing)
08. Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison, Harrisongs Ltd., ASCAP)
09. No More (traditional, arranged by Cowboy Junkies, SOCAN)
10. I Don’t Want to Be A Soldier (John Lennon, Sony ATV, PRS)
11. One (U2, administered by Chappell & Co., ASCAP)

For the band’s discussion of these tracks go to this page and choose Song By Song from near the bottom right.

As you can see, these are mostly covers with a couple of traditional songs and 2 originals.  They are all amazing.

License to Kill

Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life
And they set him on a path where he’s bound to get ill,
Then they bury him with stars,
Sell his body like they do used cars.

Now, there’s a woman on my block,
She just sit there facin’ the hill.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?

Now, he’s hell-bent for destruction, he’s afraid and confused,
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill.
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies.

Copyright © 1983 Special Rider Music

Two Soldiers

But among the dead that were left on the hill
Was the girl with the curly hair
The tall dark man who had fought by her side
Lay dead beside her there
There was no one to write the green-eyed girl
The words that her lover had said
While Mother at home was awaiting her girl
She’ll only know she’s dead

Traditional – American Civil War Lyrics modifed by the band.

December Skies

This is one of the two original songs on the
CD. It was written in October 2002 and recorded during the One Soul Now sessions. It was inspired by the news of the day and the Timothy Findley novel The Wars. If you have any doubt that "war-is-hell" then read this book. If you feel that war is a sane option to disagreements
between nations then read this book. If you think that war is a noble calling then read this book.

"I was afraid I was going to scream," she said. She gestured back at  the church with its sermon in progress. "I do not understand. I don’t. I won’t. I can’t. Why is this happening to us? What does it mean — to kill your children — kill them and then…go in there and sing about it! What does that mean"? she wept — but angrily.

From The Wars by Timothy Findley (the inspiration for this song)

"Time to kill our children and sing about it.  Let’s all kill our children and sing about it."

This song alone is worth the price of this CD.  It is simply incredible.

What does it mean to kill our children and sing about it?  I was raised as a Southern Baptist; do you have any idea how many martial hymns there are?  Onward, Christian Soldiers.  That’s more of a fucking oxymoron than military intelligence.  Followers of monotheistic religions are some of the best warmongerers there have ever been, while organized monotheistic religions and churches are some of the best sponsors of warmongering.  Just what the fuck does it mean to kill our children and sing about it?  Can any of you please explain this to me?

This World Dreams Of (inspired by the poem The Passing of Arthur by Lord Alfred Tennyson)

The line, "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of" is from a Tennyson poem called The Passing of Arthur. I love the line because it is both hopeful and desperate at the same time.

Now I’ll sit here in the silence wait for all the violence to engulf me
I hate to take the easy way out now people but options are closing down fast
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of

Brothers Under the Bridge

I love the way that the lyric just ends without warning…much like the
way the lives of veterans sometimes "end" without warning….the battle
that rages on inside can be so much more difficult to survive. I’m sure
we’ll be hearing plenty of stories about a whole new generation of
brothers-under-bridges in the coming years.

I come home in ’72
You were just a beautiul light
In your mama’s dark eyes of blue
I stood down on the tarmac, I was just a kid
Me and the brothers under the bridge

Come Veterans’ Day I sat in the stands in my dress blues
I held your mother’s hand
When they passed with the red, white and blue
One minute you’re right there … and something slips

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP) from Tracks 1998

You’re Missing

Is there a more beautiful, delicate, pointed song about loss? Maybe, but I can’t think of one….

Pictures on the nightstand, TV’s on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you’re missing, you’re missing
You’re missing when I shut out the lights
You’re missing when I close my eyes
You’re missing when I see the sun rise
You’re missing

Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP) from The Rising 2002

Handouts in the Rain

You can bomb your foreign brother
You can hurt him until he dies
You can kill him until he never asks you why
You’re on his land…you’re on his land

But we all know that’s all over
And that can only lead to blame
Where we might end up for our country
Taking handouts in the rain

Teach your children stories
You can fill them full of lies
You can make them all despise
One another…one another

But when they all find out, find out later
And they call us by our rightful names
And send us shamefully to old age
Taking handouts in the rain
Taking handouts in the rain

Richie Havens

Isn’t It a Pity

We started performing this song last year on the Long Journey Home
Tour. It was suggested by Margo and it, along with December Skies, was
the inspiration for this collection of songs. The lyrics still ring
true thirty years after they were written. And, unfortunately, they
will, no doubt, ring true thirty years from now and then thirty years
after that and so on….human nature is a difficult and unfathomable
beast.

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we’re all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see
All the beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity

Isn’t it a pity
Isn’t is a shame
How we break each other’s hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn’t it a pity

George Harrison 1970 2 versions on All Things Must Pass

No More

No more my Lord.  No more my Lord.

Traditional field song.  Wonderful transition into the next tune.

I Don’t Want to be a Soldier

Another song that I’ve always wanted to cover. The lyrics are about as existential as one can get (not that I’m too sure about the definition of existentialism, but if a lyric can be existential then this one has got to be, doesn’t it?). We decided to have some fun with this one. We set up a drum loop and jammed away. After it was all over we realized that there was a definite hip-hop motion to the loop so we invited a friend of ours, Kevin Bond (aka Rebel) to write and record a rap, based on the themes that were driving the songs on the album. We then dumped the whole mess in Jeff Wolpert’s lap and asked him to make sense of it.

Well I don’t wanna be a soldier mamma, I don’t wanna die
Well I don’t wanna be a sailor mamma, I don’t wanna fly
Well I don’t wanna be a failure mamma, I don’t wanna cry
Well I don’t wanna be a soldier mamma, I don’t wanna die
Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no

Sometimes my eyes just can’t believe what they see on TV
Young men like me sent overseas sent over greed


Just from clickin’ the news giving me the early 21st century blues

This is an amazing funkified version.  I honestly think John would be proud.  This song meant so much to me when I was a kid.  It was one of my favorite songs on the LP, and I felt it down in the depths of my soul. 

How did I ever become a soldier?  For over 20 years of my life?  Why in God’s name did I set that example for my son?  Why did they send him and all the others to this war of theirs?  I just want an honest answer to that last question.  I think I want that more than anything else in the world.  I truly do.  The immensely sad part is that it is something I will never get.

One

I’m not a huge U2 fan, although I have truck loads of respect for them. My wife suggested this song and it had always been one of my guilty pleasures. Once I started playing it the beauty of the chord changes just took over. It is a pleasure to play. John reminded me that Johnny
Cash had covered it on his last record, so we made a point of not listening to his version. Lyrically it is a beautiful punctuation mark (whether it is a period, question mark or exclamation mark is debatable) to the themes that are explored throughout the album…."We are one, but we’re not the same. We got to carry each other, carry each other"…..yup.

Did I ask too much more than a lot
They gave me nothing now it’s all I’ve got

I got this and the Johnny Cash CD with One on it on the same day.  Johnny’s version is good, if a version of this song with almost no emotion at all can be considered good.  It almost has to have emotion of some sort to give it meaning.  So, for me, the jury is still out on the Johnny Cash version.  This One is beautiful.

Oh great, now I find this all in one place.

This is one excellent CD.  While I can speak for no one else, I’d say that with me they reached their goal to "reach out and touch a couple of hearts and souls. Our goal was to create our own small document of hope."  And as I said, I fully understand this kind of hope.  As long as songs such as these can be written and performed there is, at least, a small bit of hope.  Will there ever be a day when we won’t need them anymore?

By the way, Onward, Christian Soldiers was composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan.

More militant music.  And an example from an early Salvation Army songbook:

To save the world is our desire,

For enemies we pray;

We’ll never tire, we’ll stand the fire,

And never, never run away.

We’re marching on to conquer all,

Before our God the world shall fall;


We’ll face the foe, to battle go,

And never, never run away.

What, never run away?

No, never run away.

What, never run away?

No, never run away.

We’ll face the foe, to battle go,

And never, never run away.

My question is are they praying for enemies, or for their enemies?  I can just see Georgie and the boys sitting around the Oval Office singing this song.  Hell, I think it’s their freakin’ theme song.

Radical Militant Librarians Unite!

My boss’ husband set up some cafepress schwag for all of us Radical Militant Librarians.

Just doing our small part to educate (and clothe) even more of them.

So, do your part.  Buy some and wear it. 

What, not a librarian yourself?  Then buy some for your own favorite RML.

Personally, these are the pieces I want:

As much as I hate commercialism, this is the time of year for it.  :->

As Jill (my boss) says, "The little cartoon guy may look bookish, but you can tell by that growl he’s radical! And militant!"

On moral authority and civil servants

Current events shed light on the extent to which language games are played in our society and by our government, and  how the denial of wrongdoing can be based on accusing the the questioner of "inappropriate … second-guessing."

European ministers may be satisfied by Secretary of State Rice’s statements that "US interrogators are banned from using torture at home and abroad," [BBC] but I am not.  I have to say that listening to her statement on the radio only makes me even more convinced.  She lies as badly as I do; clearly transparent.

But even more important is the practice of extraordinary rendition.  It is bascially the kidnapping of someone and taking them to another country to be imprisoned and interrogated, and most importantly, to be removed from any international oversight.

There are several ethical problems with this practice, as I see it:

  • Kidnapping.
  • If someone is to be arrested and charged with a crime then that is what should happen.
  • They should be arrested and detained by local authorities, until we can legally extradite them.
  • It should not be legal to forcibly remove someone from one country to another without some legal protection for the accused.
  • Why are we rendering people to countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria that we know torture?
  • If this is an acceptable and necessary tactic in the war on terror, then why are these people not rendered to the US?

One answer is that people of little conscience, such as Secretary Rice, can address the world with a straight face and say that "US interrogators are banned from using torture"  Because we are paying others to do it for us.

The practice of extraordinary rendition is a moral failure of the highest kind.  And while it may in some sense be legal, if it is, it is only through a supreme act of extra-legal perversion.

I also love how US Ambassador to the UN Bolton can say that it is "inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we’re engaged in [in]
the war on terror, with nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers" [BBC].

Keep in mind that this "civil servant" is none other than the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.  Well, Mr. Bolton, according to my understanding and my dictionary, you are also no more than a civil servant.  So hurling what was no doubt supposed to be a disparaging epithet will do you no good.  This is not a 2nd grade school yard.  You may supposedly be a diplomat, but then so is she, along with being a former Canadian Supreme Court Justice.

If Louise Arbour claims that America has lost its moral compass and that "the global ban on torture was becoming a casualty of the US-led "war on terror"" [BBC], then I for one am agreeing with her Mr. Bolton.

Another interesting aspect of Mr. Bolton‘s claim that it is "inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we’re engaged in [in]
the war on terror" is the fact that this is exactly this international civil servant’s job.  If the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is not going to question US policy on these issues, who will?  Please, tell me who will.

And somehow I doubt her comments are based solely on "what she reads in the newspapers."  Mr. Bolton, we already know your views on the UN—that is one of the main reasons you were given the job by an administration that is also hostile to the UN.

So this administration and its flunkies can keep spinning words so that they mean nothing except what they want them to mean and they can defuse questions of the utmost moral concern by attacking the questioner, even when the questioner does so in the performance of their official duties.

I don’t know if any of the rest of you are bothered by any of this, but I am deeply ashamed of my country.  I sure hope Microsoft gets their Xbox 360 production and quality issues resolved in time for Christmas.  There’s an awful lot of people needing an awful lot of distracting.

 

"all i want is some truth
just give me some truth"

A Nation Beyond Forgiveness

Somewhere around 2 weeks ago I started reading Arthur Silber at Once Upon A Time….  I really don’t remember how I came across his blog, but that isn’t relevant.  He seems fairly astute and I look forward to reading more of his prolific writings.

His post today made me scream and cry in rage, frustration and heartbreak.  Please go read it!  Your life may well be too comfortable.

When Honor Is No Longer Possible: A Nation Beyond Forgiveness

If you wanted a final, unanswerable reason as to why war should not be
"privatized," there it is — if you’re willing to see it. I think Col.
Westhusing understood perfectly well that "profit is an important goal
for people working in the private sector." But he didn’t think that war
should be viewed as just another business, or as any sort of "business"
at all. This psychologist, and the entire apparatus of our government
and military today, find no problem with this approach. They embrace it
enthusiastically. Today, it is "a flaw" to think that "monetary values"
should not "outweigh moral ones in a war."  This is where we are now.

Life and death, torture, suffering, unendurable loss and agony — it’s
all a matter of profit and loss. Anything that improves the bottom line
is permitted — even the slaughter of innocents. We are a nation of
mercenaries — and we have lost our soul, perhaps for good. Col.
Westhusing finally concluded that honor was no longer possible, and he
saw no way to stop the horror. Do you wonder at what he did? We created
a situation where he felt he no longer had any meaningful choices –
but he refused to give up his conviction that you do "the right thing
because it was the right thing to do."

And yet, we insist on finding fault with him.  How did we reach such a dark and terrible place?

I am utterly appalled, shocked, and dismayed.  I believe my heart may have finally been ripped from my chest as I silently stand here and watch its final, slowing beating.  Arthur Silber has written my exact sentiments:

I despair for my country. We tolerate all
these horrors, and we barely protest. I think we are beyond forgiveness
now. Forgiveness is not possible for what we have let ourselves become.
   
   
   
   
      

Hope and Memory

Seeing as today is Veterans Day this seems like a good time to check out this site:

Hope and Memory 1801-2004

This is a timeline of 163 US "interventions."  Wars, coups, humanitarian efforts, covert activities, and so on that our government has been involved in.  As the site says, "Out of this legacy, a complex picture emerges."

Actually, maybe tomorrow would be a better day for some of this.  But do check it out.  Take the time to read through it.  Learn a bit of American history.

Found at Sivacracy.net.

You NEED to watch this footage of Fallujah

You need to watch this footage.  It is kind of long.  And is it difficult to watch. 

But you need to understand what our country is doing in your name.  After you’ve watched it I’ll leave it up to you as to what you do.  After you stop crying anyway.

Fallujah footage from Sivacracy.net   (Quicktime format)


Update: 16 Nov 05

US has admitted to using white phosphorus as a weapon in Falluja.