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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Spreading the word 

My Blahg News points to this post -- The Gracchi: Truth About Canada-US Relations -- which talks about a number of governor/premier cross-border associations which demonstrate the close working cooperation between Canada and the US. "Canadian conservatives have been complaining of the left's hatred of the US, while Republicans claim Canada is becoming increasingly irrelevant. We on the left must ignore their rhetoric and spread the word of the increasing levels of cooperation between our two great nations. This is not an issue of Canada's dislike of the United States, but rather Canada's dislike of George Bush and his policies. "
So Gracchi, like you asked, I'm spreading the word.

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Leadership 

TheStar.com - Anglicans headed for divide over homosexuality
When I read stories like this one, indicating that Anglicans in Africa would rather see their church split up than accept gay people as full members of their church, I realize how critically important Canada's gay marriage bill will be. It will demonstrate leadership to the world in framing this issue as an equal rights issue. From reading the Anglican reports and news stories, gay people are being demonized as "sinners" by these churches and the equal rights argument is not being made. When Canada legalizes gay marriage, the world will be given an opportunity to see how a democracy can deal with gay rights as a political, rather than religious, issue.

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Saturday, February 26, 2005

"Oxyconned, Foxcized, Freeped-out Fanatics" 

Orcinus provides a critique of several recent essays on fascism in the US, about which I have blogged too. I was particularly impressed by his conclusion: "What's important to understand is the real dynamic: A growing populist 'movement' is being encouraged increasingly to adopt attitudes that, taken together, become increasingly fascist. Greater numbers of individuals are being conditioned to think alike, and more importantly, to accept an increasingly vicious response to dissent. This does not mean that genuine fascism has arrived as a real political force in America; but it does mean the groundwork is being created for just such a nightmare, by irresponsible politicians tapping into terrible forces beyond their ability to control. If even 'paleo-conservatives' can see this, there's hope of stopping it. But I think we need to begin with a clear understanding of who, what, and why the fascists are. The latent fascists who are the biggest problem right now are not Republican leaders. It is their oxyconned, Foxcized, Freeped-out, fanatic army of followers, comprising ordinary people, who pose the long-term problem. Drawing them back from the abyss is the real challenge that confronts us. "

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Tribalism 

The Resentment Tribe
Digby has a lengthy post about the roots of the cultural divide in the US: "Resentment was a foundation of the culture as slavery was hotly debated from the very inception and the division was based on what was always perceived by many as a moral issue. The character and morality of the south had always had to be defended. Hence a defensive culture was born. The civil war and Jim Crow deepened it and the Lost Cause mythology romanticized it. The civil rights movement crystallized it. A two hundred year old resentment has created a permanent cultural divide. . . . Wherever resentment resides in the human character it can find a home in the Republican Party. This anger and frustration stems from a long nurtured sense of cultural besiegement, which they are finding can never be dealt with through the attainment of power alone. They seek approval. "
On the surface, there are two Canadian parallels to what is happening in the US -- the separatist movements in Quebec and in the West. But though both are also based on a sense of grievance, including resentment toward Central or English Canada, neither is based on a defensive culture which spend 100 years trying to justify actions which were morally wrong and actually indefensible. So while Canada has been able to make political and economic changes over the years to accomodate and/or molify separatists -- this goes up and down, of course -- it is difficult to see what could be done in the US to change the tribalism which is splitting their culture. The approval they are seeking, they will never get.
Perhaps it does explain, however, the amazing tolerance for torture and the destruction of civil liberties which we see in US society today -- destroying American society and the American constitution becomes just another cultural issue.

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Missile defense would have brought down the government 

So now the Conservatives think they can have it both ways -- they want to get credit in pro-US circles for bashing the Liberals announcement on missile defense, and yet they would have happily brought down the Liberal minority government on this issue.
And wouldn't the Conservatives have loved to fight an election on this.
First of all, any motion on missile defense coming for debate in the House, concerning as it does a major aspect of Canadian military and foreign policy, would have to be considered as a confidence issue (unlike the gay marriage bill, which is not being considered this way)-- if a confidence motion doesn't pass, the government falls.
So if Martin had brought a missile defense motion to the House, he would have had great difficulty even getting his own caucus to support it. The NDP and the Bloc would have voted against it for sure, leaving Martin with a motion that could pass only with Conservative support. Then, after great blustering and blather, a sufficient number of Conservatives would have voted against it to bring down the government.
Leaving Harper in the delightful position of fighting an election on the missile defense issue, which something like 70 per cent of Canadians do not support, rather than, say, the gay marriage issue or the new budget, which a majority of Canadians do support.
Most disingenous was this MacKay quote from The Globe and Mail: Canada won't allow U.S. missiles to impugn sovereignty, PM vows: "Conservative MP Peter MacKay said the government should have consulted the House of Commons before informing the Americans that Canada was staying out of the missile defence project." Is there any chance whatsoever that the House would have supported missile defense? Just asking!
Now Martin finds himself attacked by editorial pages across the country, for making a decision that most of the country supports. Poor guy, he can't win, can he?
You know, there was a time when I supported Canada's participation in missile defense, because it was one way to keep the Americans happy and it would never work anyway. But the more the American media talk about weaponization of space, the more I realized that this was the ultimate aim of the program, and nothing would deter the Americans from weaponizing space if they wanted to, regardless of any Canadian protests. So all we could do was simply not join them, thereby denying them the "North American" cover they wanted. Its not much of a gesture, but there it is.

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One good thing 

CNN.com - Judge extends Schiavo stay until mid-March
If this horrible case does one good thing, it is to make families talk about what others should do if they find themselves in this situation -- in my own family, we have three "turn me off" and one "keep me alive as long as you can". OK. So now, we all know and, if worst comes to worst, we can make a terrible decision without second-guessing each other.
This case is such a tragedy for everyone -- the husband, who is convinced his wife is gone and wants to do for her what he thinks she would have wanted, and the parents, who are convinced their own lives will be worthless unless they can save their daughter. The parents will never stop searching for agreeable judges, and, in the unlikely event a year or two from now that the feeding tube is ever actually removed, the media will turn it into even more of a circus than it already is and start into their patented death countdown coverage -- this could be, after all, bigger than Michael Jackson! (which may, actually, be finished in a year or two, though I doubt it.)

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Sorry 

Well, I added My Blagh's great news aggregator feed to the Links side of this site yesterday -- but then this morning my page took forever to load. Blogger, or at least my free version of it, just doesn't have the juice, I guess. So I had to take the aggregator off, I'm sorry.
But I will be checking My Blagh often to keep up with the news.

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Guilt by innuendo 

POGGE points us to this column: Uncle Sam's steely glare
It tells the stories of several Canadians, in addition to Arar, who have been arrested and jailed without evidence or trial, as well as several stories about Canadians who have been put onto some kind of mysterious ghost flag airline list without any opportunity to defend themselves. This is what these people have in common "They were under investigation by CSIS and the RCMP; they are Muslim Canadians; they were arrested, jailed or tortured in countries that receive intelligence information from CSIS and the RCMP. And all have one thing in common with Shara Vigeant and Shahid Mamood: Somehow, their names got onto a list."
UPDATE: And if you want to read something REALLY scary . . . BOP points to this one.

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Those who live by the sword. . .  

Daily Kos :: Operation See No Evil
The CIA has been picking up and torturing ghost prisoners since 911, and they now find themselves working for people who will toss them all to the lions without a second thought. "If I were in the CIA right now, I'd be worried too. No direct access to the President. A boss who seeks to 'streamline' the intelligence process by removing from that stream opinions contrary to the President's stated wishes. Increasing press awareness of an off-books operation that directly resulted in the torture and death of detainees, and the secret detention of untold others, all in violation of international laws. And an administration cabinet that looks, for all intents and purposes, to have been hand-chosen to further solidify all those initiatives. Where's the off button? " And where, oh where, is America's gag reflex?

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Outed 

The world is moving too fast for the Anglican Church.
BOP reports on the Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting Communiqué
The Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopilians in the US have been kicked out of class for the next three years - ie, they are being asked to withdraw from church administration until the next Anglican conference in 2008.
In the meantime, they are supposed to visit the principal's office - ie, appear at a church conference in June to justify their decisions to bless gay marriages (Canada) and elect a gay bishop (US).
And they are supposed to write on the blackboard one hundred times "We're sorry, we didn't really mean it, we take it all back" - ie, the Canadian bishops who have supported gay marriage are supposed to apologize and to refuse to allow any more gay ceremonies, while the Americans are also supposed to apologize for electing a gay bishop.
Now, I have only skimmed the recommendations of the Windsor Report but I did not get a sense that the report's authors grasped the momentum of this issue -- that such announcements would be tatamount to demonizing gay people and would send gay people the very clear message that they are not welcome in the Anglican church. Or maybe they actually just don't care -- maybe gay people are actually NOT welcome in the Anglican church.
The report mentions in a couple of places how important it is to be inclusive to gay people, but these are formulaic declarations. Overall, the report is much more concerned about the feelings of congregations upset by these bishops than about the feelings of congregations supporting them.
I'll be watching the news to find out how the New Westminster dioscese reacts.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Yes! Its NO! 

Well according to the quotes in this story Martin tells U.S. about missile decision: CTV Canada has weakened its sovereignty "by not being there when the decisions are being made".
Yes, like if someone lobs a missile at Canada, it will now be up to the US alone to decide whether to shoot it down. That is, if the billions they want to spend on this boondoggle can ever develop a technology to intercept any missiles at all.
At the end of this story comes this little snippet "U.S. defence analyst Dwight Mason said it would be the first time since 1938 that Canada had refused to participate in continental defence." I don't know what treaty he is talking about, but maybe that explains why, when Canada went to war against Germany in 1939, the US didn't join us until two years later? They just weren't there when the decisions were being made, I guess.


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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Some trick 

So we're watching Hardball tonight, and the guy who heads this USA Next organization was being interviewed about why his group was running this awful ad -- Daily Kos :: The anti-AARP campaign begins. And he said it was just a test to see how quickly the liberal blogs picked it up. Ha, ha.
So, they pissed off millions of senior citizens, just to "trick" the liberal blogs? And what, exactly was the trick? The smear that senior citizens don't support the troops? Or the accusation that they do support gay marriage? Some trick, guys. Boy, that'll really show those liberal bloggers.
What is actually going on here, I think, is that they are finally aware of the liberal blogosphere now, and they really are beginning to be afraid of its reach and influence.
Here's why -- look at The Truth Laid Bear site rankings
1) Daily Kos 454616 visits/day - progressive
2) Gizmodo 190803 visits/day - tech news
3) Gawker 175369 visits/day - another tech news site
4) Instapundit.com 169937 visits/day - rightwinger
5) Defamer 148761 visits/day - entertainment news
6) Eschaton 111109 visits/day - progressive
7) lgf: what's the ugliest part of your body? 93498 visits/day - rightwinger
8) Power Line 71059 visits/day - rightwinger
9) Wonkette 67229 visits/day - progressive
10) The Washington Monthly 44906 visits/day - progressive
11) The Smirking Chimp 39691 visits/day - progressive
12) Michelle Malkin 36861 visits/day - rightwinger
13) Blog for America 33746 visits/day - progressive
14) www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish 32716 visits/day - rightwinger
15) Wizbang 30237 visits/day - rightwinger
16) HughHewitt.com 29229 visits/day - rightwing
17) onegoodmove: I thought these things might be clues 24536 visits/day - progressive
18) Blogcritics.org 23515 visits/day - celebrity news
19) Blogcritics.org 23515 visits/day - celebrity news (maybe a typo here)
20) Go Fug Yourself 22467 visits/day - celebrity news

In the top 20 according to daily visits, seven are progressive blogs while seven are rightwing blogs. And yes, sure, the right-wing sites are getting lots of daily hits. But look at Kos -- 450,000 hits a day! Instapundit, the most-visited rightwing site, has less than half that number.
So almost half a million people every day are reading about how Kos interprets the daily news. And over 100,000 are checking out Eschaton, while 45,000 are reading Kevin Drum. Howard Dean's site, Blog for America, is attracting 35,000 visits daily. Pretty impressive, folks.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The right to bear charms? 

Yahoo! News - Court Rejects Appeal on Sex Toy Sales Ban
No wonder the right wing thinks the ACLU is crazy -- arguing a constitutional right to sell sex toys? Give me a break.

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Engage brain, THEN open mouth 

The first rule for an ambassador is to NOT shoot off his mouth. Oops! Canada already in U.S. missile plan: McKenna
So now Martin either has to fire him, or admit that what McKenna says is true.
UPDATE Wednesday - so when Paul Martin announces tomorrow that Canada is NOT participating in missile defense, I think McKenna was supposed to be whispering to the Bush administration and the Pentagon that, really, Canada is participating through NORAD, don't worry boys. But McKenna got the script wrong, and announced the whisper in public. Double oops! Please, people, remember your lines!

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Judge not 

My Blagh points to this story The Globe and Mail: Famous Players drops same-sex advertisements which outlines some of the tactics now being used to oppose gay marriage:
"We were starting to get e-mails that were threatening to our staff," Nuria Bronfman, the Toronto-based vice-president of corporate affairs for Famous Players, said yesterday. The man who placed the ad, another Famous Players executive, said yesterday he'd received death threats. Also, "the phone calls were starting to get abusive," explained Ms. Bronfman, "so we thought it's not fair for our staff to have to go through that sort of thing."
The story says that among the groups angry about the ads is the Canadian Family Action Coalition, which tried to take credit last fall for convincing the Royal Bank to drop its Rainbow Sticker promotion and which tried last spring to stop the addition of sexual orientation to Canada's hate crime legislation.
CFAC states on its website that it's vision is to see "Judeo-Christian moral principles restored in Canada". Well, here are some principles that I suggest could be applied:
"judge not, that you shall not be judged" (Luke 6:37)
"do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12)
"inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethern, you have done it unto Me" (Matthew 25:40)

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Fear? Never mind. 

Smirking Chimp highlights this Miami Herald column: Robert Steinback: 'Is it safe to order French fries again?'
Steinbeck comments about Condi Rice's recent luv-fest with France and says "Politicians are prone to changing with shifting political winds. But it's downright scary when the American people -- highly educated, democracy-trained and First Amendment-protected -- robotically accept what we are told seemingly without question or deliberation. But this has become a pattern in America since 9/11. Fear clouds rational, critical thought, and this administration and its conservative supporters have fed America a steady diet of fear since that dark day."
But at a significant level, its just not real anymore. The actors are all still saying their lines but the audience is now just talking amongst themselves.
On Thursday, CNN ran what should have been a big story Goss warns of terror threat to U.S.
Public reaction? Nada. No editorials that I could see, no follow-up stories about new preparations. The Conservative CPAC conference was going on at the time down the street, the largest collection of conservative talent in the US -- and none of the bloggers there said anything I can find about this big new threat. Neither did the progressive blogs note any expressions of concern -- Kos had a post about port security spending which only proves that Homeland Security and the Bush administration aren's taking terrorism threats very seriously either, treating it just like a big money pot for red state pork.
Increasingly, it strikes me as just cover-your-ass -- if there ever is another attach, everyone can say, well, we warned you. As Rozanne Rozannadanna would say, never mind.


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Friday, February 18, 2005

Behind the 8-ball 

With the news this morning of blasts in Baghdad aimed at Shiite mosques, I wonder whether Iraq's insurgency, which protrayed itself as a nationalist battle against the American military occupation, is now transforming itself into an insurgency portraying itself as a nationalist battle against Iranian influence in Iraq.
Robert Kagen's column in today's Washington Post -- Shiites and Stereotypes attempts to assure Washington that Shiite government in Iraq shouldn't necessarily be interpreted as an Iranian plot to control Iraq. But I wonder how it looks to the people on the ground in Iraq itself -- Iran, at the very least, is a long-standing ally of the Iraqi Shiites and a model for the kind of religious government they want to create. And the Iraqi military leadership, now running the insurgency, are the same people who fought for a decade against Iran and hate Iran passionately.
Where does this leave the United States? Behind the 8-ball -- in the bizarre situation of using 150,000 of its best and brightest American troops to prop up what might be an Iranian puppet government against a nationalist insurgency that will say it is battling Iranian control of Iraq. And how in the world do they get themselves out of this mess, when they would need to stay in Iraq if they want to use their Iraqi bases to launch a war against Iran or Syria?
Somebody told me there'd be days like these, strange days indeed.

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Its like a cop handing a suspect to the Mafia 

I've been laid low this week due to a cold and/or flu, but I could not miss noting this Bob Herbert column about the Mahar Arar case and so-called "extraordinary rendition" -- Our Friends, the Torturers: "The entire point of this atrocious exercise is to transfer the suspect to a regime skilled in the art of torture. It's as if a cop picked up a suspect on the street and handed him over to the Mafia to extract a confession. One's guilt or innocence is not relevant. No legal defense is permitted. If a mistake is made, too bad."
Particularly apt, I thought, was Herbert's analogy to police handing a suspect over to the Mafia for questioning. Yes, that's exactly what it is.
Also notable, I notice, is the development of a whole new language to hide what is going on. George Orwell would find terminology like "extraordinary rendition" and "enemy combatant" falls into his definition of "political language" which is "the defence of the indefensible" and "has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness."

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Pathetic 

The Globe and Mail: Bitter attacks open debate on same-sex
"Let us not forget, it is the Liberal Party that said 'none is too many,' when it came to Jews fleeing from Hitler," Mr. Harper said yesterday. "It is the Liberal Party that interned Japanese Canadians in camps on Canada's West Coast, an act which [former prime minister] Pierre Trudeau refused to apologize or make restitution for." Mr. Harper dredged up the 60-year-old events just after the Prime Minister questioned the sincerity of those who would ban gay marriage, saying opponents refuse to admit that it would take the invocation of the Constitution's notwithstanding clause to do it.
I don't get it -- is it Harper's argument now that because the Liberal party once discriminated against Jews and Japanese, that it should be OK today for the Liberals to discriminate against gay people?
Typically incoherent Conservative argument!
I have a test -- for every comment you hear against gay marriage, substitute the words "interracial marriage". And if the comment then sounds like ignorant bigotry, well, it is.

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Monday, February 14, 2005

Round and round and round it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows 

Updating yesterday's story about whether Canadian soldiers treated Afghan prisoners humanely, the Ottawa Citizen today reports that Canada's JTF2 captives vanish at Guantanamo
"Members of the Ottawa-based Joint Task Force 2 commando unit took at least three prisoners in January 2002 and another four during a raid several months later. But attempts by Canadian officers to find out what happened to the people appear to have been stymied by the U.S." Canada was, after all, just a US ally during this war, so what business could it be of ours?
So we're considering joining this military in the missile defense initiative but won't participate in weaponizing space? Why would we think they would tell us?

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Swinging in the wind 

Conservative MP ripped for saying gays can marry - just not each other' Stupidest. MP. Ever. Calgary Conservative MP Jason Kenney gets into the Valentine's Day spirit: ". . . homosexuals aren't barred from marrying under Canadian law. Marriage is open to everybody, as long as they're a man and a woman."
And I keep noticing how Conservatives keep complaining about how the Liberals are out of touch with the ethnic communities on the gay marriage issue.
Such a viewpoint only illustrates how profoundly Conservatives misunderstand this issue, and how completely untrustworthy they would be on civil rights issues as a government -- because, boys, gay marriage is not a popularity contest. Paul Martin and the Liberals aren't legalizing gay marriage just to pander to their base or their branches or whatever. They aren't doing it just because they think it makes them "look good" to some voting constituency. They're doing it simply because they believe it's the right thing to do. They support the principle that EVERYBODY'S civil rights matter. And the fact that the Conservatives cannot understand this says a great deal about the heart of today's Conservative party. where painted but empty masks hang from barren trees, swinging in the wind.

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Dispatch from inside the rabbit hole 

Tomorrow belongs to me!
The sun on the meadow is summery warm.
The stag in the forest runs free.
But gather together to greet the storm.
Tomorrow belongs to me.
The branch of the linden is leafy and green,
The Rhine gives its gold to the sea.
But somewhere a glory awaits unseen.
Tomorrow belongs to me.
The babe in his cradle is closing his eyes
The blossom embraces the bee.
But soon, says a whisper "Arise, arise,
Tomorrow belongs to me"
Oh Fatherland, Fatherland, Show us the sign
Your children have waited to see.
The morning will come when the world is mine.
Tomorrow belongs to me!
As I read this TalkLeft story about white supremists buying billboards proclaiming "The Future Belongs to Us!" this song from Cabaret started playing in my mind - a TalkLeft commenter noted it as well.
The National Alliance which is directing this campaign is also involved in the Zundel case. And in poking further around their site, I found this notice of a protest just a week ago at Anne McLelland's constituency office (with a bogus photo - this is NOT Edmonton in February!) -- I don't know how many actually attended -- and a link to another Canadian website, The Freedom Site which purports to be some sort of free speech site but actually seems to think there is something noble about hating Jews and Aboriginals and immigrants (except, apparently, their own ancestors) and selling Heritage Front t-shirts and David Duke books. Eeeuuuu!
UPDATE: Orcinus also has a post about the National Alliance and their connection to the conservative US agenda. "If you look at most of these cases, the thread running through them is that they are clearly tying themselves to mainstream conservative issues: the National Alliance ad campaign, for instance, targeted immigration and "European American" rights. What is enabling these extremists, in reality, is a conservative movement that has in fact been moving in their direction in recent years. Like the NASCAR folks, conservative Republicans apply cosmetics and give lip service to the causes of equality and tolerance. But the proof, as always, lies in the pudding."

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And so it begins 

DRUDGE REPORT: FEC May Tighten Restrictions On Internet Political Activity
Since the American election, I've been saying that the Bush administration is bound and determined to bring the progressive bloggers to heel. Howard Dean was extraordinarily successful in internet fundraising, and now that he has been electec chair, Daily Kos has raised close to $100,000 for the democrats in two days. Can't have that . . .

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Canadian troops? Doing this? Outrageous! 


POGGE points us to this Ottawa Citizen story and this awful photo.
The Canadian Forces' practice of covering the heads of Afghan prisoners with hoods and using plastic handcuffs is an outdated way to handle captives and could violate the Geneva Convention, a senior military police officer warned last year. But Department of National Defence officials say since that the Afghan mission is a peacekeeping operation, any prisoners taken by Canadian troops are not subject to the convention.

This is BULLSHIT, totally and completely.
I'm glad at least one major has objected to it. But as POGGE says, "These are the kinds of games with semantics that have been used to justify the treatment of detainees in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. I didn't realize that DND officials had been studying at the feet of Alberto Gonzales."
And if we don't see Bill Graham in the Commons tomorrow assuring Canadians that the Canadian military follows the Geneva Conventions in ANY Canadian military operation of ANY kind, ANYWHERE in the world, regardless of whose war it is . . .

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Remember this? 


So as we were watching tonight's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which was about ghost prisoners in a Brooklyn jail, I mentioned to my husband that 1,800 people had been arrested during the Republican Convention and held for two days incommunicado at some pier in New York City. He said "What? I hadn't heard anything about that! Why wasn't there something on the news about it?" Now, my husband keeps up with the news as much as anyone does -- I'm the internet and news junkie in the family -- and he was stunned that he had heard nothing about this either during or since -- nothing in the papers or on the TV news or on the talk shows, and we were watching a lot during the convention. "How did you know about it?" he asked me. I told him I had read about it on the left-wing blogs at the time, but that it hadn't ever got any real coverage, I guessed.
Just goes to show, doesn't it, how a major event effectively disappears if the media are too scared to write about it.
So I started to wonder what had happened since, and found this story from a week ago: USATODAY.com - Protesters challenge NYC arrests
"Despite the sweeping arrests, more than three-quarters of the people arrested during the convention had their cases dismissed outright or dropped in exchange for a promise to behave for six months. Fewer than 10% have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor or violation. And out of 28 trials, 10 protesters have been convicted. The handful of convictions and large number of dismissals are seen by protesters and their advocates as evidence that police wanted to take demonstrators off the streets and intimidate potential participants into staying home." Gee, ya think?
UPDATE: And thinking about this a little further, I remember that the Democrats were too cowardly to march with the New Yorkers -- so scared were they of being seen as "anti-war". So maybe that's why the police could arrest people so indiscriminately, and the media could ignore the story -- Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and John Kerry weren't out there on the front lines supporting these anti-war protestors, nor did they lead a news crew to Pier 57 to bail them out. Well, maybe now with Howard Dean chairing the DNC, the Dems will get some guts and some heart.

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That will be news to Zelda 

Does anyone remember the movie "Getting Straight"?
It was Elliot Gould's best movie, and Candice Bergen's too. Among many great scenes, the greatest was the Master's Oral.
It culminated in a bit of business between Gould and one of the Masters examiners, who was trying to get Gould to agree that F. Scott Fitzgerald was gay. Seeing his degree disappearing unless he could appease this examiner, Gould tried mightly to find some ethical way to agree with the examiner's belief. He twisted and turned, but he just couldn't do it, finally bursting out with "well, that will be news to Zelda". Needless to say, the Oral deteriorated from there. ("The greatest expression of English literature is...the Limrick!")
I was reminded of this scene when I read this post Matthew Yglesias: Thinking Things Through about the Social Security debate in the US. The right-wing politicians and economists are trying so hard to find some way to support Bush's plan, twisting and turning to make sense of it, and to try to make it sensible. But they just can't do it. It DOESN'T make sense, it will never make sense, the emperor HAS NO CLOTHES.
And that won't be news to Zelda at all.

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dispatch from the trenches 

On Rabble, we find Charles Demers' Pride and prejudice in the chapel o' love
A good article all around, skewering people who want the left to stop dealing with "wedge issues" like gay marriage. "One would assume that, in the face of such a blatantly contradictory, homophobic, illiberal, anti-democratic, obscurant campaign by the right, we might see a reinvigorated, confident, accessible and lucid counter from left. One would be wrong, as one nearly always is when one expects invigoration, confidence, accessibility and lucidity from us." He decries the left's failure to mount an aggressive defense of gay marriage because it is thought to be a "wedge issue". ". . . we know from the experience of workers and activists of colour what appeals to ignore 'wedge issues' means: 'Shut up about abortion, language rights, affirmative action, tiered wages, and wheelchair access. We need to emphasize campaigns that white men can get behind.' "
And he points out something I have wondered about as well -- the hypocrisy of Harper's use of the "polygamy" scare tactic, while also courting Muslim men whose religion has been interpreted by some to actually support having more than one wife.
And for more news on the gay marriage fight, now the Conservatives are playing the victim over some sort of email scam where MPs were told to send their constituents a pamphlet about gay marriage. The CP story leads with this remarkable sentence "The Conservatives say they're the victims of a dirty tricks e-mail campaign designed to make them look anti-gay ... "
Well, let me just remind the conservatives of this one little fact: opposing gay marriage IS anti-gay! They cannot have it both ways, demonizing gay marriage while pretending they actually support gay rights and gay people.
But they want to, oh how they want to. As a result, they're living in a self-created myth world, where they think they can pander to bigoted religious groups while denying that they are actually promoting bigotry.
I checked out the Conservative Party Website to see what it had to say on the issue. Here is their discretely-titled section "Definition of Marriage: The Conservative Party will fight to give a greater voice to Parliament. We will ensure that issues like marriage are decided by parliament, not the courts." That's all. So, I guess they'll be issuing a press release any day now to say how happy they are now that parliament is deciding the issue, eh?
And here's an example of Harper's fire-and-brimstone rhetoric on the issue, from the text of a Feb. 5 speech , the most recent speech posted on the website. "I think its important to have equal rights, just as important to preserve traditional definition." That's it, one incoherent sentence. Of course, he was speaking to a Conservative meeting in Nova Scotia, with Peter McKay apparently in the room, so he knew he couldn't actually get into the scare tactics used in the Conservative ad campaign, about which he had not informed McKay before it started.
Well, I can only conclude that, while the left may be somewhat cowardly on the issue, this pales in comparison to the mean-spirited, deliberately-misleading hypocritical cowardice on the Conservative side.

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Emotional physics 

My Bhalg posts about Gwyne Dyer's new book, so I decided to look up his recent columns. What a great writer he is. The latest column on his website is Jan 17, when he writes about . the chances that the US will invade Iran. Here is how he ends it:
"Edward Luttwak, the military historian and strategic analyst who is renowned in Washington for his maverick views, recently described US foreign policy post-9/11 almost as an exercise in emotional physics. Never mind all the elaborate strategic plans and projects of the neo-conservatives, he implied; what really drives all this is just push-back. After 9/11, there was an enormous need in the US to do something big, to smash stuff up and punish people for the hurt that had been done to Americans. Afghanistan was a logical and legitimate target of that anger, but it fell practically without a fight and left the national need for
vengeance unassuaged. The invasion of Iraq was an emotional necessity if the rage was to be discharged, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to the United States. In this interpretation, all the talk about attacking Iran is the last wave of this emotional binge running feebly up the beach, and it is unlikely to sweep everything away. The talk is still macho, but the performance is not there to back it up. What the US public gets for all the taxes it pays on defence -- currently around $2,000 a year for every American man, woman and child -- is armed forces that are barely capable of holding down one middle-sized Arab country. There simply aren't any American troops available to invade Iran, and air strikes will only annoy them. What would really tip the whole area into an acute crisis is a re-radicalised Iran that has concluded that it will never be secure until it has expelled the United States from the region."
On Hardball tonight, the retired generals were talking about the US being in Iraq for another three years. I wonder how long Iran will be willing to wait?

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Guantanamo goes mainstream 

Wednesday night I watched one of my favorite shows, NYPD Blue. The plot of this episode was disturbing and horrifying.
An Army recruiter is shot in front of a school, and the first suspect found by the detectives is a teenager - 17 years old - who had argued previously with the recuiters because his brother died in Iraq. And the boy admitted he had learned how to shoot in Scouts. Oh, and he also had taken a school trip to Spain and Morocco the previous summer.
So, according to the Army CID guy helping the NYPD investigate the case, the boy fit the profile of an "enemy combatant" and the CID was therefore entitled to use "special interrogation methods" to force him to confess. The good detectives of the squad, though, wanted to investigate a little further. and of course they finally found the real culprit. And in the end, the boy went up to the recruiter and basically apologized for causing so much trouble.
What was horrifying about it was, first, that on the basis of coincidence, with zero evidence, the Army CID type concluded the boy was guilty and was all set to ship the boy to Guantanamo, and second, that everybody else in the squad accepted without a murmur the right of the CID to do this. They all acted like torturing the boy and condemning him without a trial would be perfectly OK if they couldn't find a better suspect.
I was reminded of this plotline when I read Digby today writing about Death in Life "We are disappearing people, rendering them to friendly governments that aren't afraid to put the electrode to genitals and threaten with dog rape. And we are building our own infrastructure of torture and extra legal imprisonment. It is a law of human nature that if you build it, they will come. This infrastructure will be expanded and bureaucratized. It's already happening. And when they decide, as Professor Yoo has already decided, that an election is a sanctioning of anything the President chooses to do in the War on Terror, it is only a matter of time before internal political enemies become a threat.
And then it will be us."
Perhaps it is time for people like Digby and Kos and Atrios and BOP and Frog and the other progressive bloggers to start making some back-up plans, like European mirror sites. And does anyone know if the Weathermen safe houses still exist? Canada would welcome you all, of course.

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"I'm not a journalist but I've played one at the White House" 

AMERICAblog summarizes the Gannon coverage. Spiderleaf at Daily Kos provides the timeline which shows how Gannon was a major player in twisting the Plame leak story. For me, this is much hotter stuff than the "military escorts men for men" angle, though your mileage may differ.
UPDATE: Digby blows away the "poor conservative journalist targetted by the liberal blogosphere" spin, which isn't going to survive the sh*tstorm now directing attention squarely where it belongs, on the White House press office, which I assume will shortly be approached by the Daily Show for credentials.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Nothing is taboo for these guys 

Pogge has a good post about the latest missle defense moves: Peace, order and good government, eh?: Let's not let the facts influence our decision
What frustrates me about the missile defense discussion is Canada's pious insistence that even if it does participate in the "defense" part, it would not participate in the weaponization of space, oh no, never, and besides the Americans say they don't want to put weapons in space anyway.
My question is -- why wouldn't they?
For the last 40 years, the American military has worked to weaponize everything else -- just tonight, on Countdown I think, there was a laudatory story about how US unmanned planes can fire missiles at Iraqi snipers, on orders from corporals sitting in bunkers a thousand miles away. One of the big scare stories in the Iraq war buildup was the "discovery" of some torpedo-like tubes which the Americans said were Iraqi prototypes of unmanned aircraft which the Iraqis were planning to use to attack the US -- of course, they turned out to be nothing of the kind, but it shows what the Americans were thinking. And they're working hard making nuclear weapons that they can actually use, that will, for instance, burrow underground.
So why wouldn't they want to be able to put weapons in space? In fact, some think they already are doing this -- its the final frontier, for one thing, and besides, they likely think they will need such weapons to win the war against China which they probably think America will be fighting in about 20 years.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bring it on 

My Blahg: American Intrusion provides an excellent roundup describing how America's so-called "pro-family" groups are issuing ultimatums and funding advertising campaigns opposing Canada's gay marriage law, and the blogs which are blogging against this.
I hadn't realized how bad this was getting until I read this post. Canadians, including Canadian politicians, will have to come to grips with an unpleasant truth -- Canada's attempt to legalize gay marriage is becoming another symbolic battle for America's Christian Right. We rank right up there with Spongebob and Janet Jackson as a American cause celebre.
To my mind, this makes the success of the gay marriage bill even more important -- imagine being able to strike a decisive blow for Canadian civil rights AND undermine the whole American Christian Right take-over-the-world agenda, just with one measly little vote supporting gay marriage!

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The protesters won 

All those protesters at the world's economic summits over the last few years have been reviled and trivialized by the media and dissed by the politicians and teargassed by the police.

But now they have won -- The Globe and Mail: Canada offers debt-relief plan: ". . . despite the confusion and disagreement at this weekend's summit, it will be remembered as the moment when the rich countries agreed to take on all the debt of the poorest economies. 'What will be known as the '100-per-cent debt summit' owes its progress to the millions who have campaigned for justice, for the strength of their resolve, the vision of their leadership, their determination in pursuit of a great cause' . . . "
They haven't won everything, of course, but they have succeeded in forcing the finance ministers from the richer countries do what the world needs done.

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The devil is in the details 

Said the cowboy to the debutante "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?"
"Well, OK" said the debutante.
"Would you sleep with me for $10?"
"Absolutely not! What do you think I am?"
"We already know what you are, ma'am. We're just haggling about the price."
I was reminded of this old joke when I read LiberalOasis: The Dangers Of Getting Cute and Tacking Right
Liberal Oasis is absolutely correct -- the danger for the left in accepting the right's frame is that the argument becomes one of details rather than of principle.
And he is right that this becomes particularly important when dealing with the abortion issue. I have blogged about this before. The core issue for abortion rights is not "what choice" but rather "whose choice" -- supporting abortion rights is not support for whether abortion itself is moral or immoral, but rather support for the right of women to decide for themselves, based on their own moral compass, whether or not to have an abortion. I can, as a person, agree or disagree with another woman's choice. I can even, as a mother, argue with her about whether abortion is her best decision. But I believe absolutely that she has the right to make the decision for herself. This is the core principle that has to be fought for and maintained.

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If I was a Democrat in Congress... 

Yahoo! News - Bush Proposes Steep Cuts in $2.57T Budget
If I was a Democrat in Congress, house or senate, I would just simply vote against this horrible budget and do nothing else.
Its Bush's shell game -- propose a budget so horrible that the Congress won't vote for it, then blame them for raising the deficit.
So the Democratic response should be -- nothing. No negotiations, no massaging, no special pleadings to restore this or that program, no porkbarreling, no little quid-quo-pros that would add line items for my district back in so that I would vote in favour, no cooperation, no "bipartisanship", no nothing. Its a Republican budget all the way, so let them vote for it and live with it.
Of course, I live in a parliamentary system, where the governing party is always responsible and accountable for the budget it proposes and if they screw up, people always know who to blame for the mess.

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Monday, February 07, 2005

The Islamic state of Iraq 

To find out what is really going on in Iraq now, I go to Juan Cole's Informed Comment and to Today in Iraq.
Today, Cole is writing about the Sunday talk shows "The Republican Party spin machine was bouncing around the airwaves like an overloaded washing machine on Sunday attempting to obscure from the American public that they had by their actions managed to install a Shiite religious ruling class in Iraq."
My personal response to Cole's post, actually, was to wonder, to whom is this news? I guess its a surprise to the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, but not to anyone else with half a brain.
Of course the Shiites were going to elect a people who would write an Islamic constitution - its what they want. It's what they've always wanted. Its what Iran wants, too. And the Kurds don't care as long as they are left alone to keep democracy in their own way, which the new constitution will also ensure.

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Straws in the wind 

Buzzflash points to this important article -- Hunger for Dictatorship from The American Conservative magazine. Even conservatives are becoming concerned about the rising tide of American fascism:
"I don’t think there are yet real fascists in the administration, but there is certainly now a constituency for them —hungry to bomb foreigners and smash those Americans who might object. And when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind. They could be propelled into power by a populace ever more frustrated that the imperialist war it has supported—generally for the most banal of patriotic reasons—cannot possibly end in victory. And so scapegoats are sought, and if we can’t bomb Arabs into submission, or the French, domestic critics of Bush will serve."

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

No Way! 

TheStar.com - Canadian troops to Iraq?
Not only would it be stupid in and of itself for Canada to send troops to Iraq -- because the US is the agressor and the occupier and the insurgents are right to want them to leave -- but it would also allow Bush to announce how Canada had finally seen the light and recognized that he was right and we were wrong, so there, nayh nayh nayh nayh nayh nayh big fat razzberry bzzzzzzz!
Thanks, Ross, for the heads up.
So what can we do about it? Who is organizing the protests?

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Friday, February 04, 2005

"Outside agitators" 

FOXNews.com - Politics - Capitol Hill Mulls 'Regime Change' in Iran
Does anyone else remember the times when US leadership at various levels was opposed to "outside agitators"?
This was the right-wing ephithet hurled at everyone from the union activitists who worked to get unions certified in factories, to civil rights workers who signed up Southern voters, to Communists and "fellow-travellers" who were supposed to be "infiltrating" various progressive groups like the Sierra Club and the Democratic Party and the peace movement in the 60s.
At that time, the "outside agitators" were awful, stirring up the poor folks and the darkies and the workers and the students, getting them to protest when they should have known better.
So now, the US is making itself into the "outside agitators" in Iran? Well, what goes around, comes around, I guess.

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Iraqi sayings 

LRB | Eliot Weinberger : What I Heard about Iraq
This is almost too painful to read, but it has a deadly fascination that keeps you going. From All Spin Zone.

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

The best thing Ted Kennedy has ever done 

Ted Kennedy speaks out against that lying toady Gonzales -- MyDD :Kennedy Letter Claims 'Smoking Gun' Against Gonzales.
Read it all.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Two solitudes 

Here is the Associated Press' SOTU story on the Yahoo website: Bush Urges Congress to Save Soc. Security
and here is the Associated Press' SOTU story in the Globe and Mail Bush's pitch only tells half the story
Both apparently written by the same organization, but opposite in their approach and content.

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John Ibbitson's column 

I can link to today's Globe article about gay marriage: Skip gay marriage vote, Liberal MPs told which buries the news that at least three Conservative MPs (Jim Prentice from Calgary, James Moore from BC and Belinda Stronach) will vote in favour of gay marriage.
But behind the Globe's firewall is John Ibbitson's great column.
Ibbitson makes the point that the Conservatives and the church leaders talking up their opposition to gay marriage are lying to people about the real basis of their concern -- hiding their anti-gay discrimination in a cloak of religious victimhood:
Why are some religious and political leaders deliberately trying to deceive voters by complaining that churches could be forced to perform same-sex marriages? The ministers, priests, rabbis, imans and Conservative politicians who are leading the fight against the same-sex marriage legislation introduced yesterday must know as a matter of plain fact that no religious institution will ever be compelled to marry a gay couple. They know this. Yet they don't seem to care.
Yesterday, they were at it again. "The protection for religious freedom is an empty promise," declared Janet Epp of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper echoed her: "The Liberal bill provides little in the way of assurance that religious freedoms will be protected if the legal definition of marriage is changed." Why do they say such things? Both referred to last December's Supreme Court reference, in which the court stated that "it would be for the provinces, in the exercise of their power over the solemnization of marriage, to legislate in a way that protects the rights of religious officials." Taken that far, it sounds as though only the provinces have the power to protect churches from compulsory marriage of homosexuals. But Mr. Harper and Ms. Epp neglected to tell you what the court said next: "Human rights codes must be interpreted and applied in a manner that respects the broad protection granted to religious freedom under the Charter." And "absent unique circumstances with respect to which we will not speculate, the guarantee of religious freedom in Section 2 (a) of the Charter is broad enough to protect religious officials from being compelled by the state to perform civil or religious same-sex marriages." The court couldn't be any plainer. Barring circumstances the judges can't even imagine, the Charter's guarantees of religious freedoms protect the clergy from being forced to marry anyone. The court went on to emphasize that the same protection would apply to religious spaces as well as religious figures. The added protections contained in the legislation are actually redundant. The Constitution provides the churches will all the protection they need.
So why do these religious and political leaders deliberately seek to mislead by claiming they could be forced to marry gays? Some Catholics and evangelical Protestants, in particular, hope to demonstrate the growing power of the religious right in Canada by winning a big political fight. But if they declared, "Homosexuality is evil. Same-sex marriage is a moral perversion," which is what they actually believe, a lot of people would turn away from them. Instead, they portray themselves as victims.
As for Mr. Harper and his advisers, part of their motive is sheer devilment. The same-sex issue is splitting the Liberal caucus in two. And it is a political maxim, which the Conservatives know only too well, that voters will not support a divided party.
More important, the Conservatives believe that fighting same-sex marriage will win them votes among immigrants from socially conservative countries. The Tories are desperate to win ethnic voters away from the Liberals. They are hoping that South Asian and Chinese immigrants in BC's lower mainland and in the riding around Toronto, in particular, are so uncomfortable with the idea of gays getting married that they will switch their support, delivering a dozen or more seats to the Conservatives in the next election. This is a dangerous strategy. Hands up, everyone who has a child more socially conservative than you are. The Tories risk permanently branding themselves as homophobes in the eyes of younger voters. But Mr. Harper obviously believes short-term advantage outweighs long-term harm.
We are about to get dragged through five months of agonizing debate on this legislation. We need to accept that people of goodwill can be found on both sides of this issue. But there is no goodwill in arguing that churches will be forced to marry gays. It is misleading. It is deceptive. It is a lie.

Right on, John. And as the months go on, keep reminding people about this deception.

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I wrote my letter 

The Globe and Mail: Same-sex bill introduced in House of Commons
Well, I wrote my email to Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton and their caucuses, to support the gay marriage legislation. Apparently they are getting lots of mail, so my one little email may not have any particular impact, but I wrote it just the same.
Here is the list of MPs. There doesn't seem to be a bulk email list, but clicking on the name will bring up the individual's email address.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gomery staying  

Well, Gomery is staying on, though he won't likely be speaking to the media again.
But its pretty funny, really. The Globe and Mail story Gomery to stay as head of sponsorship probe notes the dastardly things that Gomery said: "In one of the interviews, Judge Gomery told The Globe and Mail that he disagreed with the government's decision in the 1990s to pay $1,200 to print Mr. Chretien's signature on golf balls, describing the move as 'small-town cheap.' Judge Gomery also referred in another interview to Chuck Guite, who ran the program from 1996 to 1999, as a 'charming scamp.' On Tuesday, in reading his decision, he apologized for those comments. "
Funny, isn't it, that he had to apologize for telling the plain truth -- putting the Prime Minister's signature on golf balls is pretty cheap, really, and undoubtedly Guite would never have been able to do what he did unless he was both charming and scampish.
Now, the "small town" comment, though -- it really was an insult to small towns across the country, so I guess maybe they were entitled to an apology after all.

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The more we know, the worse it gets 

Senate Debates Gonzales's Role in Prisoner Policy
What? Only "25 to 30" democratic senators will vote against Gonzales? It should be all 44.
The more that comes out about the torture at Guantanamo, the more disgusting it gets. Now MSNBE has a news story - Tapes show Guantanamo squads’ tactics - describing "guards punching some detainees, tying one to a gurney for questioning and forcing a dozen to strip from the waist down . . . One squad was all-female, traumatizing some Muslim prisoners." Later the article also notes previous descriptions of Guantanamo interrogations where "female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man’s face with fake menstrual blood."
Who are these people, and particularly, who are these "Rosa Klebb" women? This makes me ashamed to be female.
And in the media coverage of all this, perhaps reflecting the Pentagon attitude that gave the nod-nod-wink-wink to these tactics in the first place, I also pick up a subtextual hint of male Bondage and Discipline fantasies -- if you checked this link, you may have them too!

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"Antination-ism" 

Here is the essay -- Some People Push Back - that caused all the fuss: College Cancels Event Amid Protests on Panelist's 9/11 Essay
Churchill also writes a bit of an apologia, linked on the essay page, which tempers the offensive language and guilt-by-nationality argument in his original essay.
Coming so soon after Orcinus' discussion of hate crimes, linked below, I found this whole story interesting. Did Churchill commit a "hate crime" against the people killed on 9/11? Can they all be tarred with the imperialist-Americans-deserved-it brush -- blaming secretaries and stockbrokers to every American international outrage from the Phoenix project in Vietnam to the deaths of Iraqi children caused by the UN sanctions against Saddam?
Some might say yes; personally, I say no.
It is exactly this kind of thinking that blames all Israelis for Israel's settlement policies, that blames all Palestinians for suicide bombers, that blames all Englishmen for Irish oppression, that blames all Germans for the concentration camps, etc, etc, etc. There is no name for this blame-by-nationality kind of thinking -- its not racism as we usually define it, nor is it some kind of phobia. Perhaps it should be called "antination-ism", for lack of any better term.
Yes, in a democracy, people are generally accountable for the actions of the government they have elected. But to blame every single citizen, individually, for every single military action taken by that government, and, by so doing, give yourself license to discriminate, hate, or kill, any citizen of that nation -- well, it is both ridiculous and intellectually lazy. Patriotism may well be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but so is antination-ism.

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