Monday, May 25, 2009

Sell Your Soul for Security

Would you sell your soul for security?

Sounds like the opening lines in some story I had to read in American Lit…Daniel Webster or Mark Twain or somebody like that.

However, this question is no dead writer's conundrum or some school morality play by bored adolescences dreaming of the big time. It's being played out right now. Obama gives a speech in Constitutional Hall or some place like that with a bunch of Founding Father type dudes in old pictures behind him. I don't know where Cheney spoke. Some conservative think tank, truth-in-policy special interest group like Friends for Truth in America, or a Republican Party enclave, which is the same thing and makes one question the term "think tank".

And the blogs went wild.

Did Obama know Cheney was going to give the speech he gave or was it the other way around?

I wrote the Explainer at Slate magazine the following:
In the recent speech off on Gitmo, whose speech was scheduled first? I know Obama spoke before Cheney by a few minutes, but whose speech was scheduled first? Who knew the other was speaking – first?

I don't know if those explainers over at Slate will take up the question and give us insight into how this bit of political maneuvering came about, but I'm thinking Cheney or his folks found out about Obama speech and decided to respond – or more to react, as that is a hallmark for this group.

Cheney is definitely a character from Dr. Strangelove, but I can't decide if he is General Buck Turgidson or General Jack D. Ripper.

Maybe appealing to people's lesser instincts is like doing dope. The conservatives just can't give up a good argument that has served them so well in the past. Trying to touch a nerve that has kept them in power is just to tempting a maneuver. They can't keep from doing it. They just can't say no.

If you have read this blog, you know I think they should close Gitmo. And at a MoDo post here. They should have never opened it. It's wrong, it's an abomination, it's French or Russia or German or Japanese, but it's not American. Some how it has gotten out in the world that Americans are softies who can be taken advantage of, who have no international understandings, and who in spite of all these short coming built the system that everyone wants to emulate in some form or fashion. Our system is our best asset.

We don't need to torture people to see it our way. Sitting through another beach movie should be torture enough for anyone or a waterboarding of reality TV until you agree to whatever I'm trying to sell. That's the type of torture for which Americans are noted. As flippant as I might be, part of the torture technique at Gitmo was playing really bad rock'n'roll, really loud, for a really long time. What is torture to someone from an obscure valley in Afghanistan is heaven to a valley girl. But who's counting?

To continue with facilities like Gitmo and the rendering of prisoners to places that would not be allowed on U.S. soil, is selling our collective soul for the sake of security. I have security but I lost my soul. Is that a fair trade off?

People stood by a watched as Native Americans were move to a less threatening part of the country and Americans of Japanese origin when concentrated in the name of security, and now we say we were wrong. We lost a bit of our soul then, and we are losing it now as long as Gitmo stays open.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Water Board until Brain Washed

I posted this comment over at MoDo's site. She was going on about how Pelosi got caught in that political tar-baby: Americans don't do torture, waterboarding is torture even if it can't kill. What did you know and when did you know it? Is this going to be Hitchcock's MacGuffin in some sort of liberal McCarthyism?

At any rate, I remembered the story from the Godfather of the man who came to ask a favor during the Godfather's daughter's wedding, knowing that by tradition the Godfather must try and fulfill, and he told of the Italian solider POW who was working in his bakery and had developed a relationship with his daughter. The wedding petitioner wanted the Godfather to try and keep the boy in America after the war so he could marry his daughter. It was in the book. I don't remember if it was in the movie, but it got me to thinking about how we have treated the POWs we hold.

Anyway here is what I posted. I like going back the next day and seeing if I'm selected for "Editor Choice" or how many votes of recommendation I can get. I have not done very well with MoDo, Frank Rich, and Krugman, but so it goes. Here it is with, alas, editorial corrections.

I remember growing up reading stories of POWs held by the "Greatest Generation" during WWII. Atrocity occurred as they always do in war, and the old line come marketing segue "What happens on the battlefield stays [on] the battlefield" is timeless, but once the captured enemy was institutionalized by the system, their treatment generally improved.

After the war, Japanese POW told stories of how they feared prior to their capture that they would be eaten by the Americans or treated worse than animals – and there is nothing worse than Japanese animal husbandry – and discovered that the living conditions were better than whatever small island they were stationed prior to capture. Stories of ex-POWs who had been held here in the United States returned here after repatriation because even during their incarceration, they saw something like nothing they had at home before the war and they wanted to be a part of it.

We can be sure nothing like that will happen to the GitMo detainees. None of the previous inmates will be bringing flowers to the hospital for some ailing, older Bush as the ex-POW in the Godfather did for the old Don – and later saved his life with Michael. That's never going to happen.

We have created at GitMo the next generation of iconic heroes for Islamic extremist. Move over Osama, the GitMo vets are coming back and moving in with a vengeance. And they will return in fold the hell they received from us. The policy of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Neocons, and their enabler Bush will bear a fruit they never considered - and unintended consequences is the benchmark of their administrations.

Welcome the 21st Century.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Liberals Arise! Take Back Your History.

Events have transpired recently that makes me feel that some sort of Orwellian rewriting of history is occurring, and most of the rewriting is taking place on the right.

I saw a bumpers sticker that joked about the founding fathers being an extreme right-wing organization. Just last week, I saw a political cartoon making fun of Homeland Security's latest gaffe about the threat of returning veterans joining right wing groups, and indirectly – or maybe well planned – that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were those self same right wing radicals. Mitt Romney with Jeb Bush along side referred to liberals as playing the role of monarchist in the revolutionary war. He specifically said Democrats but connecting them to those latte-drinking liberals as the bad guys in the Revolutionary War and the sons of political dynasties were with the good guys – the revolutionaries, if you can believe it.

Google "founding fathers" and any terms referring to the "right wing" and you'll get all kinds of hits in the web, blog, or even news search areas. This springs new fashioned "tea parties" that reference the Boston Tea Party, and somehow in their Orwellian minds, taxation with representation is the same as taxation without it. While that is a stretch, their attempt to take over early American history is not. Like liberal bias, taxation is the great bugaboo that has always worked for conservatives and maybe it will work now.

However, their attempt to seize the history of the American Revolution as conservative movement is a prime example of conservative bias: if the history doesn't fit, rewrite it.

Two great wars have been fought on the North American continent (let's exclude Canada here, I'm on a roll), and both were liberal wars. They were the American Revolution and the Civil War. Though not all the participants in these wars were liberals in today's terms, they would be judged liberal in their time, and certainly their cause was about as liberal as you could get. The Declaration of Independence is chocked full of liberal bias.

The Bill of Rights is liberal ideals become the law of the land. Mr. Peabody, have Sherman set the WayBack for the 18th century. While the ruling class had equality and protection, commoners did not. That the average citizen would have equal rights and protection under a new order called the "rule of law" was one hot liberal idea at the time. Freedom from government sponsored and enforced religion was – and still is – a liberal idea.

Oh how soon we forget. Liberals ideals become conservative bedrock over time.

We should appreciate and congratulate conservatives for highlighting our history, but let's not forget from whence it came. The Revolutionary War was pushed by liberals and after this country became independent of England, they changed a loose federation of states into single nation under a constitution. This was done by liberals. The Revolutionary War was the liberals' war. The transformation of a confederation of states into a federal republic under a constitution was a liberal plot.

At lease I have not heard of any on the extreme right claiming a kinship to the Civil War. While their party of choice was founded on the liberal concept of ending or at least stopping the spread of slavery, they have touched on this only lightly. "The party of Lincoln" is mentioned almost apologetically.

Seems the liberals have a great opportunity to plant an IED (improvised exploitive device), allowing those right wing nuts go on and on about their identity with the founding fathers, slowing entwining themselves and their cause in the birth pains of this nation, and BANG! It was the liberals' war! Oh, the horror.

But that won't happen. Liberals can no more exploit a political blunder by the right, than the right cannot when the situation is reversed.