Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bought and Paid For

"It's our democracy. We bought it, we paid for it, and we're going to keep it." - Vote Murray Hill Incorporated for Congress! Murray Hill, Inc. adds,
“Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”
Murray Hill, Inc. wants to run in the Republican congressional primary in Maryland’s 8th district. "Clearly, I don't know how much more Republican a corporation can be," Murray Hill Inc., designated human spokesperson, Eric Hensal, told Thom Hartmann in an interview here.

[h/t Crooks and Liars; cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans]

Friday, January 15, 2010

America's War On Terror: A Cage Of Our Own Making

America’s fight against terrorism is a stooge scene. Washington meets every new attack not by addressing the root causes of Islamist violence, but by adding another layer of security to infringe on Americans’ privacy and dignity.

In the Three Stooges short, “A Plumbing We Will Go,” Curly tries to stop the water spraying out of a bathroom wall by threading on some pipe fittings. The water just sprays out the end. So he threads on more. And more. And more. But the water just sprays from the end of each new piece. Curly eventually discovers that he’s imprisoned himself in a cage of pipe, with water still spraying out of the last piece he added.

So, terrorists armed with box cutters bring down three airliners on September 11, 2001. Washington’s response? Institute a massive domestic electronic surveillance program. Gut habeas corpus. No nail clippers in carry-on. Make passengers empty their pockets and raise their arms for a sweep with a handheld metal detector.

Richard Reid makes it through airport security in Paris with explosives in his shoes. Washington’s response? Make passengers stand in line and take off their shoes.

Police in England disrupt a plot to blow up transatlantic flights using liquid explosives. Washington’s response? No skin cream, toothpaste, shampoo over 3 oz. in your carry-ons; have them ready in a zip-lock bag for inspection. Deposit anything larger in the trash bins, please.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab goes through airport security in Lagos, Nigeria. He goes through security again in Amsterdam. He then tries to bring down an airliner over Detroit using a bomb hidden in his underwear. Washington’s response? Colonoscopies for passengers boarding in Cleveland.

Okay, full body scans. Whatever. Thread on another stick of pipe. Overlay another level of “security.” But whatever you do, don’t address the motives behind the violence.

At a White House press briefing last week, reporter Helen Thomas asked and asked again why these terrorists “want to do us harm.” White House Counterterrorism and Homeland Security advisor, John Brennan, gave Thomas a response right out of the Bush administration playbook, “Al Qaida is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents.” Not exactly post-Pearl Harbor "slant-eyed japs" rhetoric, but not far off either.

Glenn Greenwald went all reductio ad absurdum on that response:

Brennan's answer -- they do this because they're Evil and murderous -- is on the same condescending cartoon level as the "They-Hate-us-For-Our-Freedom" tripe we endured for the last eight years. Apparently, if Brennan is to be believed, Islamic radicals, in their motive-free quest to slaughter, write down the names of all the countries in the world and put them in a hat and then stick their hand in and select the one they will attack, and the U.S. just keeps getting unlucky and having its name randomly chosen. Countries like China, Brazil, Japan, Chile, Greece, South Africa, France and a whole slew of others must have really good luck. That Al Qaeda is evil and murderous and perverts Islam is a judgment about what they do, not an answer as to what motivates them.

Osama bin Laden himself gave a few clues in his February 1998 fatwa, Greenwald notes. Why do they attack us? Because we have our infidel "crusader armies" on the Arabian peninsula and in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites. Because of the destruction wrought on Iraq and Iraqi children by economic sanctions. Because of U.S. support for Israel – because of Gaza, and Sabra and Shatila. Post-September 11, add the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, uncounted civilian deaths, and torture, prisoner abuse and killings at American-run prisons, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram.

For the executive branch, giving Thomas’ question the answer it deserves is a no-win proposition. To discuss why Islamist terrorists preferentially target the United States means examining those events. It might require a serious examination of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and maybe changes to it, changes that might provide al Qaida’s murderers with a thin veneer of legitimacy. The media, the GOP and the American right wing would have a field day.

It's easier just to keep threading on more pipe until we find ourselves prisoners in a cage of our own making.

(Cross-posted from Campaign for America's Future.)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cliff May lands a Triple Coulter

The Triple Coulter

A hair flip, followed by an exasperated sigh, completed with "It's just a joke!"
after being called out for saying something offensive, especially for shock value.

Like suggesting that the U.S. solve its Guantanamo prisoner problem by murdering the remaining prisoners.

Glenn Greenwald calls out Cliff May:

National Review's Cliff May, yesterday:

A Bipartisan Proposal

Step (1): Return all Gitmo detainees to Yemen.

Step (2): Use Predator missiles to strike the baggage-claim area 20 minutes after they arrive.

Just an idea.

Virtually all of the 90 Yemeni detainees currently at Guantanamo have been imprisoned for years despite never having been charged with any crime. Roughly half of them have been officially "cleared for release" -- meaning even the U.S. Government believes they did nothing wrong or pose no danger to the U.S. Two weeks ago, the Obama administration, to its credit, released 6 Yemeni detainees -- after years in captivity -- because a federal court was about to grant their habeas petition on the ground that there is no evidence to justify their detention. In response, people like John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein are demanding with a monarchical wave of the hand that all Yemenis be kept imprisoned anyway and not released, and according to this morning's New York Times, the Obama administration now plans to hold the rest of them indefinitely.


But Cliff May thinks we should take them all, including all the innocent ones, and just slaughter them -- and do so in the most cowardly way possible: by dropping a missile on them from the air while they're standing there, unarmed and unsuspecting. And if he suggested this murderous proposal only in humor, that's so warped it might actually be worse.

May responds by landing a Triple Coulter.