Mike thought I might want to do Democracy Now! with him the way Elaine does. It was certainly fun going over the headlines with him. We picked two and I'm sure he talks about them better but I have a third one (actually the second one listed) that I think I'll offer something different on.
Army Dog Handler Sentenced to Six Months For Abu Ghraib Abuse
An Army dog handler has been sentenced to six months in prison for abusing Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. The sergeant, Michael Smith, was photographed using un-muzzled dogs to terrify detainees. He could have been sentenced to eight and a half years in prison but he was given a far shorter sentence. Smith is the 10th low-ranking soldier convicted of taking part in the widespread abuse at Abu Ghraib. To date no high-ranking officer or anyone in civilian command has been held accountable for what happened at the prison.
Wasn't he furnished with the dog? Why was he furnished with the dog? That's my first thought. My second thought would be: Who's in charge of making sure the animals are not abused? Who checks up on them? Shouldn't that person, if he or she exists, have known what the dog was being used for?
C.I. had some good points this morning -- "NYT: When everyone below him is derelict in their duty, the Bully Boy is as well:"
Torture was policy. It was imported from Guantanamo. Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" (The New Yorker) went behind the development of that program. (Summarized here.) Though the military oversight (in whatever form it exists) and the Congress want to act like revelations haven't come out, they have.
But in terms of what little has been done (very little, as Schmitt notes), groundwork has been laid. It doesn't seem like it, and it's not nearly enough, but groundwork has been laid if anyone had the desire to pursue it. The message from each trial and review is that obligations weren't lived up to. When that goes up to the chain of command (as it has, ending with Rumsfeld) that reflects (and indicts) the Bully Boy who's prone to play "commander-in-chief" of the nation when, in fact, he's only commander-in-chief of the military.
Bully Boy likes to play dress up, likes to play "war time president." But he's played it very badly.
I understand what Schmitt (and Zernike) are getting at (and agree with it): the excuse of "a few bad apples" has led to only the low ones in the chain facing trial and slaps on the wrists for them.
I agree with that point. Torture was a policy. It wasn't an abberation and Lynddie England didn't go to Iraq carrying a dog leash anymore than Smith went there with his own pet (Marco's the dog's name in some reports). They were provided with instruction, encouragement and props for the torture they participated in. The "gloves are off" goes up to Rumsfeld in writing (according to Janis Kaprinski -- interviewed by Amy Goodman in link) and they go to the Bully Boy who suddenly decided that the Constitution, various laws and treaties were out the window because they might 'constrain' him.
Torture was policy (still is) and the only place that's addressed is investigative reporting. I'm not attempting to stamp a smiley face on the events. I am saying that (think in terms of impeachment charges) when, from the lowest to Rumsfeld, the verdicts and reviews speak of derliction of duty that goes directly to the Bully Boy. The secretary of defense serves under the Bully Boy (and at the pleasure of the Bully Boy). The failure from bottom to top and the fact that Rumsfeld remains (because he was carrying out the policies of the Bully Boy like a good little puppet) goes to the Bully Boy.
Now we're going back to Democracy Now!
American Arrested for Bolivian Bombing
In Bolivia, an American man has been arrested along with an Uruguayan woman for bombing two hotels in La Paz. Two people died and at least seven were injured in the blasts. The attacks were denounced by the Bolivian government. President Evo Morales said "This American was putting bombs in hotels. The U.S. government fights terrorism, and they send us terrorists." Police initially identified the American as 24-year-old Claudio Lestad of New Orleans but he reportedly used several other names. Police said the he might be mentally ill.
Here was my first thought: black ops operation. I still think that's possible. The 24 y.o. could be CIA. "Claudio Lestad"? Made up name. That's so obvious. I thought I had to be remembering wrong so I called Ty who loves horror and science fiction novels. He's read all of Ann Rice.
"Claudio" equals "Claudia" the young girl who's turned to a vampire by . . . Lestat. "Lestad" equals "Lestat." And where did it take place? New Orleans. It's a cover of some kind and a pretty obvious one -- unless the guy's mentally ill but being mentally ill might not be a liability in working for the CIA. But Claudio Lestad is totally made up. Will Interview With The Vampire, by Ann Rice, become the new Catcher in the Rye?
I never read Interview With The Vampire, but I did see the movie. I'm guessing that name was pretty obvious, pretty obviously a phoney, to most people.
Court Rejects Giving Puerto Ricans Right to Vote for President
In Washington the Supreme Court has rejected an effort to give residents of Puerto Rico the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections. "No territory of the United States has ever been able to participate in the presidential elections of the United States of America," Puerto Rican political analyst Juan Manuel Garcia-Passalacqua. "That fact only serves to underscore that Puerto Rico is now in the thinking of the United States Supreme Court a miserable colony of the United States."
It's interesting how we treat Puerto Rico. We test weapons there (and ignore their complaints). We don't let them have independence (and we slaughter their independence leaders) and yet we won't let them vote in the United States election. Maybe they'll set the next Guantanamo prison up there? Maybe they already have?
Thanks to Rebecca who phoned with a heads up. Ava's done an entry for The Common Ills mirror site. It's called "Ava's entry." It's only up at the mirror site, not up at The Common Ills website proper. Be sure to read it. Ava's going over some frequently asked questions.
And Mike and Nina found a pretty good article on Richard Pryor. Jason McGahan's "An Iconoclast Remembered: Richard Pryor" (in Clamor magazine):
Numerous obituaries have made passing mention of Pryor's sojourn in Berkeley in 1969-70 that coincided with his studying the speeches of Malcolm X and familiarizing himself with the political philosophy of Black Nationalism. But this period is of considerable interest for the artistic metamorphosis it resulted in. Malcolm X's posthumous influence on Pryor, reaching him as it did at the peak of the Black Power Movement and in its epicenter in Berkeley, is palpable. "Strangely, I hadn't been affected by Malcolm X's death when it occurred," Pryor wrote in his autobiography. "However, after Redd introduced me to him as a person and what he stood for, I missed him terribly." Malcolm X distinguished himself from Black leaders of the Civil Rights movement by opposing racial integration on the grounds that it reinforced the false notion of white supremacy in the minds of oppressor and oppressed. Most Blacks in the U.S., not to mention in the smoldering ruins of colonial Africa, were fighting for racial equality and self-determination, not mere acceptance by whites. Black people, he said, would have to liberate themselves.
The uncompromising ethos of Black Power was born out of the flames of urban race rebellion and urgently called into question modes of practicality and patience that had marked Black behavior for centuries through the Civil Rights Era. Disagreeable though terms like "house negro" and "field negro" may sound, to many Black youths of Pryor's generation they served to distinguish the old integrationist mindset from the new militancy. Black Power was like a giant breach opened in the historical enclosure of Black racial consciousness and pride. And Pryor was absorbing it all, having befriended leading revolutionary Black intellectuals of the period like Ishmael Reed, Angela Davis and Cecil Brown -- not to mention members of the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense. Imbued with the excitement of that historic moment, he began to reevaluate his art and his politics, and, most importantly to analyze the conditions of his life in Peoria in light of everything he had learned.
This probably isn't much of a hard hitting post. But maybe, like me, you've had a tough week? If so, maybe the slap dash nature of this post will be just what you are hoping to read.
By the way, I got an e-mail on Tuesday's post. A woman wrote in to inform that Barack Obama was "the real deal" and that he's got "lots to say, he's just biding his time." Hope he finds a way to say it real soon. His silence on the war is not helping anyone.
I don't think he's the real deal. I think he's this year's annointed "Black" and they're building him up so huge that he'll fail in a short time.
The woman said I was going to regret calling Obama a "house slave." I don't right now, but maybe I will. I doubt it. Jesse Jackson Jr. has more spirit, passion and drive than Obama who always comes off like Tiger Woods trying to impress you . . . off the golf course.
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