Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's happening in New Orleans?

From Greg Palast:

Psst! George Bush has a secret

While you Democrats are pounding each other to a pulp in Pennsylvania, the President has snuck back down to New Orleans for a meeting of the NAFTA Three: the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Mexico.

You’re not supposed to know that – for two reasons:
Read the rest here: Link

I've been asked to write on NAFTA but I think Greg has some better insights than I do. The one that I think must be especially galling for Bush? It was meant to showcase the rebuilt city. Oops.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Torture is the New Black

Experts! Get cha' Torture EXPERTS here!

Three years ago this week I saw Mark Danner, author of Torture and Truth, speak in San Francisco. At the time I posed a question about torture in the same fashion that it is often framed on talk radio. I used the ticking bomb scenario. The, "What if it was YOUR Daughter?" line. His answers were interesting. He points out how weak these arguments really are.

We have allowed uninformed people define what torture is based on their twisted ideas of what really happens and what is happening. And our government have covered up and hidden our torture using FEAR and appeals to national security (which conveniently they don't have to tell us about.)

The most bizarre thing to me is how someone who considers himself as a Christian can approve of torture.


Lot of interesting posts about torture over at Hullabaloo, tristero's post entitled Torture Is Always Immoral worth reading.

The post that I really thought was powerful is Waterboarding is Torture...Period by Malcolm Nance

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Where is the Fulcrum for this problem?

I've been keeping my brain active, just not here. There is one of the topics I'm thinking and writing about around the blogosphere.

War crimes and torture
What defines a war criminal?

Does a Catholic University have any responsibility to their own stated principles of "commitment to justice and the common good" when they hire a war criminal?

I've been talking to the brilliant Mr. Video, Interrobang, Jack the Grumpy Forester and Athenae about this and I raised the question. "If you believe that someone is a war criminal, what do you do about it? What can you do? I had some high level suggestions and some suggestions that might allow us to get to some desired results, i.e., him being held accountable for his actions, which many of us believe are crimes against peace, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Smarter people than me can work on this, for example they can take the following steps:

Intellectual and definitional steps
1) Define war criminal, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity

Research steps
2) Get specific proof where he meets the criteria for each area

Action steps
3) A first step would be to supply the proof of your assertions to the Catholic university. Ask their Human Resources department if war crimes are excused in the employee contract. If not, ask if there is a special waiver they need to be hired. See if the Pope signed the waiver. If they say, "Well it's not up to us to decide this, this must go to the International Criminal Court." say, "I'm glad you suggested that! I've done all the prep work for the case, warm up your lawyers and we'll go. But first I'm going to ask people for some donations to help pay for my time and expenses. Maybe we can get some innocent Iraqi's to pitch in."

Now I asked the big legal minds, researchers and deep thinkers to work on that topic. I know lots of lawyers read and write blogs. If you have that kind of background and want use it in a way that will make you proud of your degree, start preparing the case against him. Pretend that you have been asked to prosecute him. What evidence would you need? What would be your legal strategy? Think about how he would defend himself, how talk radio will defend him, how his legal team will defend him? Who are your allies, who are his?

Some of us are writers and activists and we are helping where we can but we can't do the legal stuff. Why wait for the Hague, do some of the work now. Do you need someone to ask you to do it? Do you need me to hire you to do it? I'll send you a dollar to get started.

But the big idea that came to me after reading Athenae's EXCELLENT new book, "It Doesn't End With Us" The story of the Daily Cardinal (the student run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. --( Notice how I plugged the book to make a point? Subtle eh?)
Going down the legal, ethical, or religious route takes time. But what if you are just a brain in a box like me? What if you are an accountant, human resources specialist, researcher, or IT professional without the legal background or you don't have a big academic brain to take on the Dean of a huge university? I say look to your own skill set and see how you can help. And be polite and professional in the process. Neocons will be caught doing the stuff that always trips up them up: greed, hubris and bizarre human relationship issues.

Look for the fulcrum in your area of expertise. There might be more than one.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

In honor of Ph.D.s and my hard studying Nephews and Nieces

standard stale joke insulting the PhDs and university presidents?

Here is what I'd love for them to say after they have been insulted.

“Mr. President. Thank you for attending. But no thank you for the insult. You have insulted hundreds of hard working educated people over the years and I for one am sick of it. Stop it.

I’m sure that you think you are an inspiration to C students everywhere, but did you really have to insult my hard work and the hard work of all the students here who got good grades? What message are you sending to the hard working A and B students? That picking the right family and having the right friends is really what matters? By your insisting that you show your dominance over the educated in this public forum you think that you are connecting to the “regular folks” who are uneducated, but most regular people that I know don’t have multi-millionaire and billionaire family friends pulling strings to get them opportunities for education and jobs like you did. Opportunities that you then squandered. They didn’t go to the private schools like Andover, they didn’t get the shot at the elite education of Yale and Harvard that you got. So how dare you turn around and insult those who worked hard to get good grades as a cheap way to align yourself with “the regular Joe”. For years your "joke" has gone unanswered. Sadly we have all been too polite and too afraid of retribution to say, “Stop it.”

Why the insults? Do you think it endears you to the regular Joe? Regular Joes and Janes don’t usually take the opportunity to insult their host’s hard work and education every chance they get. You clearly don’t value education, because if you did you won’t mock those of us who think that it’s not just the grade but also the effort that counts and you aren’t honoring the efforts of real C, B or A students. Our country needs smart people who are also hard workers. You are neither.

My name is Dr. (insert name) I was a hardworking student and now I have a PhD and I’m damn proud of it. And remember Mr. President, I don’t work for you. You work for me. I don’t ever want to read another news story about you opening up with your standard insulting joke. That “joke” earns you an F. Not as a student, but as a President and human being.”

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Doug Feith on 60 Minutes with Steve Kroft

Doug Feith was on 60 minutes tonight talking about his new book. If you are reviewing his book or talking about his appearance you would probably want to talk to Allison Hantschel. (Link to her blog) Why? Because BACK IN 2005 she compiled an entire book of articles focusing on the faulty intelligence that Douglas Feith gathered that lead us to war. (link to book)

She writes about his appearance on 60 minutes here in a post titled "
Debunking Douglas Feith: 60 Minutes Liveblogging"

If you are doing a book review on War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, email Hantschel at athenae25 AT yahoo . com with an interview request for your book review.

She has a new book out on journalism at the college level, she writes for a Chicago newspaper, The Daily Southtown, and she can debunk Feith's mendacity for you. It will make your review better and it will be easy. She can also give you other people to talk to if you need second and third sources. (Remind her to tell you what Feith knew about "Cureball" and how he then used his info anyway, it's a good story.)

Lots of bloggers knew in 2003 and 2004 what Feith was up to with his creation of a special office to provide intelligence to the White House for a war in Iraq. Lots of people inside the beltway knew too, but I'll bet you won't be hearing from them, "We knew then he was trying to pull the wool over our eyes!" Why won't they speak now?

1) The don't want to admit they were wrong.
2) They can't talk to you because they are still afraid of the retribution.
3) They are too powerful to talk to you.

Look at who Feith blames, Colin Powell, General Tommy Franks and the CIA. Do you really think you will be able to get to talk to Powell, Franks or someone at the CIA to talk to you for your book review? Of course not. Now my friends in the NSA and the CIA would LOVE to talk to you about the shenanigans Feith pulled, but they can't. Feith is trying to pre-emptively get his story out and is blaming the people who won't publicly contradict him.

Feith is being very clever blaming people who can't talk back. People use that trick in spy movies all the time. "How do I know that you actually attended MIT Mr. Rich? " they ask. "Well my professor was Dr. Verner Von Thurston. " says Rich.
"Of course HE would be your teacher since he is no longer alive and he can't talk! How convenient for you Mr. Rich."

Powell, Franks and the CIA aren't going to go on the record saying, "He's full of it, here's what REALLY happened."

In contrast, Hantschel's book will provide you with lots of info so you can debunk his claims with multiple sources. Sure she's not inside the Beltway (she in Chicago) but the beltway folks won't tell you anything good. They might have to attend a dinner parties with Feith and they can't be seen to attack him too much or it would be really awkward.

Allison Hantschel, author of Special Plans, the blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence that led to war, comments on some of the whoppers Feith tells on 60 Minutes to promote his new book, War and Decision,Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Funniest story I've heard in a long time

From the comments section at Echidne of the Snakes

I once taught a small child the following, with the appropriate gestures.

"I'm a little teapot, short and stout! Here is my handle! Here is my handle... (pause, hands on hips) I'll be damned, I'm the sugar bowl!"

Child's parents were mildly amused. Child's grandmother thought it was the funniest damn thing she had ever seen.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

News Flash! Your Shoe is untied!

This hot dog's shoe is also untied. Perhaps you are related.

I will do a serious post later, but hey, it's April Fools day and fun things like this are part of who we are.