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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for January, 2011

Hey Colbert, who’d your missile kill?

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

On 1.19.2011 Stephen Colbert gave a Shout Out to Preston Pysh and his men serving in Afghanistan, mainly for sending him a flag flown in combat. Grotesque cheerleading, but hey, it gets better. A few minutes later (at around 2:15) he revealed another gift from the fellas, his name on a Hellfire missile.


So, Stephen, how many innocent Afghanis you figure your nifty present wiped out? A wedding party perhaps?

I was stunned when I watched it for the first time, and every time I’ve watched it again. But more stunning to me, is that no one else, far as I can tell, has made mention of liberal icon Stephen Colbert getting wood over a device designed to massacre, aimed at a people that have done him no wrong. No irate DU rants, no ironic Huff Po, not a word. Does it not bother you even a little bit, or make you say “huh”?

Or have we become so benumbed to this endless horror that it no longer registers as the epic event and soul-killing shame it is? Is it just another topic, another fact of life, another punch line to a “Support Our Troops” pep rally? If so, count me out. In 2002 I wrote a letter to Bowflex about the disgust that grew in me watching their ad featuring returning troops praising the benefits of a Bowflex machine while over there. I said this then:

In closing, I ask that you reconsider this ad campaign. I hope that you will remember the lives ended and families ruined by our actions in Afghanistan. They did not die for you to sell exercise machines and increase your bottom line. The Nautilus Group and its Bowflex product have been in the past at best an annoyance; now they are an obscenity.

I say the same to you, Stephen Colbert. The innocent people in Afghanistan, as well as our own who have been ground up in the “Land Where Empires Go to Die” didn’t do so to provide you with material, a “bit”. I can understand not wanting to offend the troops, but surely something could have been worked out behind the scenes. That it wasn’t shows a level of callousness to tragedy that I don’t find funny at all.

I hope you are better than this incident makes you appear.

Can someone explain something to me?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

First, we have this:

Province targets alleged sex offender’s home

IT’S a lawsuit that’s the first of its kind in Manitoba.

The province has filed a civil suit aimed at seizing the Winnipeg home where a soccer coach allegedly abused a preteen girl who played on his team.

The coach made headlines earlier this year when he was charged with abusing the player between December 2008 and May 2010, beginning when she was 11 years old.

The girl had confided in her coach about family problems and the abuse allegedly escalated to the point where they shared explicit photos with each other and had sex in the man’s Winnipeg home, according to court documents.

The man hasn’t been tried on the criminal charges and remains in jail.

However, provincial officials are now going after his home because they say it was an “instrument” in a serious crime.

“What we’re saying generally to the public is that if you’re using property to assist in a criminal activity, don’t expect to keep that property,” said Gord Schumacher, provincial director of the criminal property forfeiture unit.

And we also have this:

Irish abuse victims ‘disgusted’ at Vatican letter

Irish victims of sexual abuse are “disgusted” by a newly revealed letter in which a Vatican official expresses “serious reservations” about requiring bishops to report suspected abuse by priests to police, they said Wednesday.

Abuse survivors will question the cardinal leading a special papal delegation to Ireland about the letter, they said.

“We are disgusted by details revealed in the letter. Many of our members just can’t take this in and have been deeply affected by the revelations,” Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse spokeswoman Margaret McGuckin told CNN.

The 1997 letter from the Vatican’s envoy to Ireland warns bishops to follow church law in investigating cases of suspected child sex abuse by priests.

The envoy expresses “serious reservations” about requiring that such cases be reported to the police.

The Catholic Church has “had an issue” with child abuse nearly as long as their history has been recorded. No need to waste anyone’s time rehashing the facts, its all easily available to find. Too easy to find. Too much evidence. Too many lies by power. No, the question is not do they condone the sexual abuse of children. That answer is yes. The question is, what should be done about it? The church is clearly more interested in deflecting the issue than dealing with it, so we can no longer take anything they claim into account. This is neither an isolated, nor recent issue. If a day care center down the road faced these allegations, they would be investigated, and if proven, the center would cease to exist, and no one would question it at all. So why does the world allow a criminal organization with massive assets, focused to a certain extent on the protection of those who would harm children- why has nothing been done? Is it because of unfocused legalities and jurisdictions? Is it because of Vatican influence? Whatever the reasons, the solution to them all is quite simple. Simple to state, but improbable to imagine.

The Catholic Church must cease to exist.

The church has estimated assets at roughly 52 billion dollars. That figure sounds impossibly low to me, but its large enough. Child abuse costs the United States over 100 billion a year, and that sounds rather high, and its probably inflated as are most social cause statistics, but its still amazingly expensive to contemplate. There is absolutely no reason the victims, their families, or the rest of society should bear the burden of the staggering costs of Church-condoned sexual abuse. It is horror enough the mental and emotional trauma it causes, of which there is no way to say the cost. So the assets of the Catholic Church should be seized, just like the house of the kiddie diddling soccer coach. Sell them for whatever you can get, and spend every last dime on the children. Shut down every church and school, and treat them as the criminals they are- and you don’t allow criminals around your children.

Not if you’re worthy parents, anyway. Some of you continue to put your children into this environment, and I say as a parent, I consider that a dereliction of your duty. And if the only way to get those people away from your children is to dissolve them to the four winds, then I guess your children are worth it. I have Catholic friends that I’m sure this will offend. I am not attacking your faith. That is your own business. I am attacking the criminal organization that has used it to stalk and harm your children. There is no way to explain any difference between the two items I’ve cited. A man placed in a trust position with your children abused that trust and those children, and lost his liberty and his home because of it.

The Catholic Church was placed in exactly the same position with your children, and behaved in exactly the same way- times thousands. Can someone explain to me why they are allowed to continue to do so?

The Catholic Church must cease to exist. Whatever good they have done can be done by other people, with other names. Their good will never outweigh their bad.

We won, you lost.

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Recently I was rereading the absolutely essential A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, and again I was struck by it’s relevance to everyday life. Instead of a history of times past, the book serves as an explanation or annotation of society in the now, by showing you the real causes behind the mythology that most call American history. Combined with Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, you have a more honest picture of the essence of America- land of the free, perhaps- but be careful how you define “land” and “free”, and don’t peer too deeply into the cost of America, the Exceptional. Ours is the story of winners, losers, and the unwitting majority that didn’t realize that a battle was afoot.

West Indians knew the game was on when Columbus tied the first ropes around necks and marched the dark men into a waiting ship. Native Americans learned, sadly too slowly, to not accept the gift of blankets from the white men. Martin Luther King, Jr knew it long before a night in a Birmingham jail, and the guy cutting your hair without a wedding ring got schooled starting around fifth grade. They all knew that some people- mainly white/rich/straight males- won. And they didn’t. And since they didn’t win, they didn’t get to write the rules, nor the history books. Anthony Scalia was absolutely correct- in his narrow point- when he said that women weren’t protected under the Constitution. Neither were blacks, or Indians, gypsies or anyone who didn’t own enough to have skin in the game. It has only been the passage of time and the efforts of thousands of losers that we allow women to vote, blacks to own property, or gays to serve openly in the military. These people for all intents and purposes didn’t exist to the founding fathers, at least not as they did. They held the power, they wrote the rules, they won.

But to most in America, they didn’t really realize a battle was passing them by. They worked jobs, raised kids, watched TV at night. They assumed that everyone outside their doors were basically just like them. If you were black, or Mexican, or gay, well, they generally ignored you- because they won, and you lost. Somewhere, way back when, they won. America Exceptionalism was the undercurrent of everything they were taught and raised to understand. It’s the land of the free if you were already free to begin with, but not for all.

But America has moved demographically since they were children, and many find the notion impossible to accept. Some are birthers, living in a fairytale palace where Obama isn’t president, but rather a harbinger of the end times, sent to send capitalism and with it America to the dust bin. Others are fixated on immigration, belching out “Secure our borders!” before they waddle off to Wal Mart to buy cheap crap imported via ports that we don’t have the money to secure even if the “free market” would allow us. It’s doubtful that they could read Zinn without tossing it to the floor in disgust, and picking back up whatever twaddle Glenn Beck is hawking this week. But even the mild attempts our country has tried at evening the score alarms and repels them. Take the Tennessee Tea Party, who stated that in future textbooks, “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.” They want “kinder treatment” of the Founding Fathers, as if winning everything wasn’t kind enough. Or the Koch brothers, who, because they are rich white men who won, are succeeding in re-segregating North Carolina schools. And then there’s Mike Lee in Utah who seems to feel that somehow, there is something wrong with child labor laws.

Who knows how effective these sorts will be at turning America back into the grand old days of slaughtering Indians or cracking the whip over slaves, but I suspect we’ll see more and more attempts as the days go on. When I see Sarah Palin or some ghoul from the Pentagon co-opting Martin Luther King, Jr , I seethe, but in the end its just one more thing for them to steal for their own ends. Palin stated in her obligatory opt-ed:

“With Dr. King’s faith in God and his unwavering hope in a brighter, stronger future, let us recommit today to continuing his work for a more peaceful and just nation.”

King wasn’t talking about the same nation as Sarah Palin. He knew who won, and who lost. He knew that peace would pass America by until “We the People” meant everyone within its borders. He knew that America would never be just until the system that created injustice and applauded cruelty was destroyed. King was a great American. Sarah Palin is not. She just happens to be on the winning side.

For now.

Sarah speaks, again

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

“No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent, and we certainly must not be deterred by those who embrace evil and call it good. And we will not be stopped from celebrating the greatness of our country and our foundational freedoms by those who mock its greatness by being intolerant of differing opinion and seeking to muzzle dissent with shrill cries of imagined insults.”

Sarah Palin, 1.12.2011

Sarah Palin has yet again released a statement on the Arizona shootings, this time in hopes of deflecting any blame from herself, and to again question the allegiance to the state of anyone who dares to disagree with her or tie her insipid, anti-American views to the actions of a madman. But she needn’t have bothered, because she made her most honest statement when she removed within hours the target map from her website.

That’s all you need to know about Sarah Palin. She’s a rank opportunist, a creation of American culture who exists only in the rarefied air of the internet and Fox. “Shrill cries of imagined insults” basically describes her entire path to her ultimate destination, the White House. From her dribble on the campaign trail about Obama “associating with terrorists“, to the utter lie about “death panels”- of course, she hasn’t said a word about the actual death panels that have already claimed two lives in Arizona– Sarah Palin has made an industry out of basically nothing other than her ability to rile up the rubes. Who cares if death threats increased against Obama due to her questioning of his patriotism? As long as it kept Sarah Palin, Inc in the news, she cared not a whit about the aftermath.

And now, that the “lamestream” media that is her very oxygen has actually started to hold her to account for her words and actions- and effectively killing her deranged notion that she was actually electable in 2012– we’ll probably hear even more shrill pleadings from Camp Palin as she fades into Michael Vick twilight land. But Vick can throw a football, while Palin can only toss invective. It is certainly not fair to attempt to tie her to the actions of a madman in Arizona, but then again, she’s never played fair, so its pure, sweet fickle American justice that she’s suffering from the tragedy. If instead of releasing her “Who me?” bleating on Facebook she made a simple statement acknowledging that her poisonous rhetoric was ill-advised and wrong and apologizing for it, she might be seen as a figure of moderation, a person deserving of forgiveness, but instead she again insulted the majority of America by having her henchmen attempt to deflect criticism with the always popular “you’re too stupid to understand” defense.

Sarah Palin has fooled quite a lot of people into thinking she’s a serious person, and those people, well, they’ll continue to call her “Gov. Palin” on Facebook and defend her nonsense with cries of “We love Sarah! President in 2012!”. But the rest of us aren’t fooled. We weren’t two years ago when you surfaced, and we won’t be fooled now as you clutch at anything to keep from sinking. But by not accepting any responsibility for your actions, all the while acknowledging them in private, well, that doesn’t fool us. It sickens us. Palin and her co-conspirators- the Becks, the Limbaughs, they attempt to call their deliberate distortions of reality “dissent”, and puff themselves up by calling their actions patriotic.

Dissent is indeed patriotic. Lying is not. So if Sarah Palin is swept to the curb by a national media looking for easy answers and cheap ratings by holding her to blame for the actions of a lunatic, well, I call that justice. Bullshit created you, and bullshit will bury you.

Justice indeed.

The Deal

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Nigeria Drops Bribery Charges Against Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Anyone who doesn’t think Obama had something to do with this, raise your hand. Ok, you’re excused.

For the rest of us, it was no surprise that “legally dead Dick” never had to face the music for bribes committed under his tenure at Halliburton. Just as it was no aha moment when Wikileaks showed us the true face of “bipartisanship” when they revealed how Obama and his cohorts in non-accountability -the GOP- squashed the Spanish inquiry into the Bush Administration’s record of torture policies.

So now we have this little gadfly Darrell Issa all rev’d up to investigate the “most corrupt President in recent times“. Issa must have just awoken from a decade-long nap, having obviously missed the Bush Administration committing treason, war crimes, and shoveling money to cronies on pallets in the desert. Nope, he missed all that. (He’s served since 2001).

Now, if I were Obama, I’d have a big smile on my face. Short of a primary challenge from Hillary- who he installed as SoS to keep her out of the running- Obama faces no serious threat to re-election, sad as it is. The GOP suffers not from a lack of candidates, the problem is, everybody knows ’em- and hates ’em. Palin, who has everyone fooled- well, everyone on Fox and Facebook anyway- that she’s electable. Ha. Not a chance. The rest? The laughably hypocritical Newt has been rejected by the American public since well, forever. Huckabee and Romney? Huckabee is too piously devout for the majority of America, and Mitt, well, he can’t run against himself, which he would be if the words “health care” ever spilled from his lips, so see ya later Romney. Nope, Obama, without even really trying hard, will be sitting pretty in a few years. Democrats are a disparate group, but they can be motivated by the very real fears of “them”, even when their own guy is just as culpable. They’ll show up.

So if I were Obama, here’s what I’d do. I’d get Issa, Boehner, that turtle looking fellow, and maybe a few more GOP shining lights, and sit em down in the Oval Office. I’d put my feet up on THEIR desk, and light me a smoke- simply because you’d know it would piss ’em off- and say something like this:

“Here’s the deal. You know and I know what went on in this office- and this city- for the eight years before me. And more importantly, the rest of the world knows. And so far, nobody has had to account for anything.

You’re welcome.

So here’s the nut of it all. Issa? You can run your little Fox News “investigations” for say, about a week. Get some face time on the boob tube, vow continued investigating, and scuttle off. And Orange Man? I’m gonna get my judges, and a few other things, and you ain’t gonna say diddly squat.

Because if you do, I’ll instruct our Department of Justice and the FBI to begin to cooperate with any international attempt to investigate Bush and Congress- including myself- for violations of international law. Scorched earth, baby. I’ll get bruised, but not much- but you guys? You’ll never be elected again.

Try me.”

Now, I fully understand that such a thing can’t occur- for one thing, it ain’t up to Obama or the GOP who is the next president will be- but I can see a Nixon or a Johnson trying it, and we ain’t that far removed from then, in many ways. And I’m not saying this should happen- Obama, like every president since Reagan, is a war criminal, for starters- but to spend two years listening to a bunch of phonies parade around nipping at the heels of Obama’s Nikes is really too much for this piss broke, whipped like a dirty dog nation to stand. Give us a frackin’ break already.

So, much as I dislike ya Obama? Do the deal. Quash them like the bugs they are. Because as odiously inept as the Democrats are, they don’t leave a slime trail like the GOP. So, to steal a term, man up and dunk on their ass.

The Luxury of Nonsense

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Dunno how it is in your neck of the woods, but whenever I see a headline that starts with “Georgia Representative…” I flinch. Being a native of the southland I’ve become sadly accustomed to the follies of our elected “leaders”. Georgia was recently under the siege of Governor Sonny Perdue, a theocratic asshat who had so little respect for his subjects that we weren’t even allowed the chance to vote on Sunday alcohol sales, much less go out and actually purchase a six pack in a grocery store on THE LORDS DAY. So when I read about Bobby Franklin introducing legislation that would force taxpayers to only use gold and silver for all transactions in the state, I sadly wasn’t surprised.

Franklin represents a rather well off area of Cobb County, and I have to wonder- how has this buffoon managed to keep getting reelected since 1997? This year alone he’s wanted to return Georgia to the gold standard, to institute his version of Sharia, change the word “victim” to “accuser” in cases of rape, stalking etc, and abolish the state income tax. Of course none of this idiocy becomes law- he generally is only able to get passed meaningless proclamations of “Psychology Day” and such. His bio states the following:

Representative Franklin has been called “the conscience of the Republican Caucus” because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.

So year after year, Cobb County residents cast their votes to return this pious pinhead to the legislature, despite his inability to actually do anything but mouth meaningless platitudes. And they aren’t alone- John Boehner vows to open each House session with a reading of the Constitution, among other Tea Party demands- all feel good gibberish meant to quiet the rabble without actually doing anything about anything. Our media is filled with story after story about an economy in the ditch, two endless wars swallow resources and bodies, and Wall Street continues to suck the very marrow from our bones, but apparently, things are actually pretty ok. Because societies in decline don’t have the time or energy to be this silly, do they?

Nonsense is a luxury. For all the horror stories, the residents of Rep. Franklin most likely still have jobs, their bridges haven’t crumbled below the tires of their minivans, and the hospitals in District 43 are probably well-staffed and have all the resources they need. So, they really aren’t suffering too much, at least not enough to actually elect someone to face reality and lead. No, they are fat and happy enough to elect a cheerleader- no more, no less. Now cheerleaders don’t block tackles, or throw the ball- in fact, they do nothing meaningful at all, truth be told, but my, they are pleasant to watch and they swell the soul with pride. They aren’t essential to the actual functioning of a team- and neither are the likes of Bobby Franklin, or Rand Paul, or any of the Tea Party sign wavers who managed to get elected this time around. They’ll introduce legislation to repeal the Health Care bill, or defund NPR, knowing full well that Obama will veto all of it, just so they can return home to make speeches and fleece the rabble for yet another round of fundraising with the rallying cry of “we’ll get ’em next time” and “we’re holding them accountable!” all the while the rich get richer, people continue to lose their homes and jobs- but apparently not enough of them to actually get anything done.

So instead of taking to the streets demanding change, they march to see Obama’s birth certificate. Instead of devoting coverage to veterans chained to the White House fence to bring an end to our folly in Afghanistan, we get another round of Sarah Palin babble, as if she actually means anything at all in the big scheme of things. No, nonsense is a luxury only the well off can afford. So, until the reality of our dire situation actually lands in the pews of upscale Cobb County churches, or the government stops paying for Medicare scooters, our country will continue to wallow in the comforting balm of silly slogans and useless cheerleaders.

Our nation has lost its educational and technical edge to countries such as China and India in large part because we’re obsessed by short term profits over long term stability, amusement over education, and meaningless flag waving over substantial change. And as long as non-stories such as the Ground Zero Mosque or the fevered insanity that is Glenn Beck continue to dominate our national discourse, things will never change. We’ll just get dumber, and more broke, until finally, one day, we won’t be rich and idle enough to enjoy the warm fuzzies of nonsense. And we’ll awaken to a nation too stupid to elect real leaders, and too obsessed with trivia to even understand the issues we face.

But we kept the heathens from buying beer on Sunday, that counts for something, don’t it?