Saturday, February 17

They truly think we're Stupid!

This weeks Iraq debate in the House has if nothing been highly illuminating. Republican after Republican came forward and proved without a shadow of a doubt - that they truly think the American public is fucking stupid.

Non-binding though it may be, this resolution - which ultimately passed 246 to 196 - forced both Democrats and Republicans to put their cards on the table, and the Repubs had nothing in their hand but empty rhetoric, outright lies and paranoid delusions.

But then again we've come to expect nothing less from the party of perpetual bullshit have we not?

This time, as they have so frequently in the past, they did not fail to disappoint our lowest possible expectations.

First off we have the hypocracy that this resolution, being non-binding is "meaningless" while at the same time it would send a "devastating message" to the troops and our enemies - demoralizing the former while emboldening the latter.

Sorry guys but both of these opinions can not be true at the same time.

And specifically when it comes to "Supporting the Troops" the Bill actually states the following.

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq;

But it also says...

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

During the debate we had Rep Don Young (R-AK) who insisted on using a quote from Lincoln condemning congressmen who criticize the war.

"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."

Too bad that Lincoln never said that. PNAC/Neo-con Frank Gaffney falsely attributed the quote to Lincoln in the Mooney Times and Young, so far, refuses to take it back because the Times has yet to admit Gaffney's fuck up.


Then we had Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) who decided it would be a good idea to quote Larry the Cable Guy and say we need to "Get 'er Done" in Iraq. Well yes, Ginny we do - problem is sending 20,000 more troops into a Civil War meat grinder without first working out a diplomatic solution and without proper equipment is only going to Get THEM Done, not help Iraq or our troops.

And then of course we had Rep Virgil Goode (R-VA) who claimed...

supporting the anti-escalation resolution would "aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the crescent and star to wave over the Capitol of the United States and over the White House of this country." Moreover, he said, "I fear that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see ‘In God We Trust’ stricken from our money and replaced with ‘In Muhammad We Trust'

Ok, so not only is this guy a raging bigot - he's a nitwit too. Muhammad is not the equivelent for God in Islam - he's the equivelent for Jesus, whom Muslims also revere as a wise profit. The correct analogy would have been "In Allah We Trust" - but since Allah is merely the Islamic word for "God", and the God of Islam is actually the same God worshipped by both Jesus and Abraham it would really make no significant difference in meaning. It's would just be a translation, like saying it in Spanish or German.

And we all do remember that Virgil Goode is the Representative who also attacked the election of Muslim Rep Keith Ellison (D MN) to the House, right?

"I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."

You mean "traditional" beliefs such as freedom of religion ala the 1st Amendment of the Constitution? Aparently not.


And it's not just the Republicans in the House who think the American public has an IQ lower than a puddle of phlem - it's also Michele Malkan who's "skeptical of anything that has Bill of Rights tacked on to it".

And Sean Hannity whose decided he's going to prove that Al Gore is a Big Fat Carbon Poluting Hypocrit - even if he has to make shit up to prove it.

But all of this is just a prelude to the real battle brewing just over the horizon. The fight over the so-called "Slow Bleed" strategy. At least according to the RNC.

The Democrat [sic] strategy on Iraq is finally clear.

We've known all along that they want to cut and run before the job is done. But they've been afraid to confront President Bush directly. [Yeah, right! They just did that yesterday!] Today, Democrat [sic] Rep. John Murtha let slip what he and Nancy Pelosi really intend to do, and it is genuinely frightening.

They call it their 'slow-bleed' plan. Instead of supporting the troops in Iraq, or simply bringing them home, the Democrats intend to gradually make it harder and harder for them to do their jobs.

'Slow-bleed' is exactly the right name for this incredibly irresponsible and dangerous strategy. Cutting and running is bad enough. But the Murtha-Pelosi 'slow-bleed' plan is far worse. It is a cynical and dangerous erosion of our ability to fight the terrorists while we still have men and women on the ground in Iraq. It will put their lives in far greater danger, as resources slowly dry up. How can our troops operate without bases? How can they fight without backup?

'Slow-bleed' cannot become law. Luckily, we have an opportunity to stop it. The Murtha plan depended on stealth. Now, however, the press has broken the story. And now we can act.

Contary to the RNC's bullcrap - Nancy Pelosi has signed on the John Murth'a binding resolution to require that our troops have the proper training, equipment and rest between tours that they need to do their jobs effectively and safely -- and that they shouldn't and can't be deployed without all the above.

Now, just who in their right mind would want our troops deployed without proper equipement for extended periods without proper rest or healthcare or...? Wait, hold on - I think I know the answer to that one and being in their "right mind" certainly has nothing to do with it.

At least five Republicans repeated this "Slow Bleed" smear on the House floor during the debate. Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Adam Putnam (R-FL).

But when it comes to actually supporting the troop not with empty rhetoric but with actually useful items such as armor and healthcare Republicans have fallen shamefully short. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran for America (IAVA) ranks most Republicans very badly according to their voting records for helping provide the troops with what they need to do their jobs.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite has a "C" ranking.
Rep. Virgil Goode has a "C".
Rep. Don Young has a "C+".

And the smearers?

Deborah Pryce - C+
Roy Blunt - C
Thaddeus McCotter - C+
Jeb Hensarling - D+
Adam Putnam - C+

These guys are "Supporting the Troops?" Really? Too Bad The Troops don't seem to think so.


Rep. Nancy Pelosi has an "B+" and Rep. John Murtha has a "B" rating from IAVA.

But the real test is to look at the IAVA "F-Troop" which is all Republicans (including Patrick McHenry, and former FBI Director Jeff Sessions) compared to their "A Team" which - you guessed it - is nearly all Democrats (including Steny Hoyer, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton).

Now we can see why Mitch McConnell was so desperate not to have this debate in the Senate.

The American People have stopped buying this snake-oil for some time now, but the Republicans - to their eternal detriment - continue to keep peddling it. Probably because, they simply haven't got anything better to offer but fear-mongering, hate, paranoia and lies.

Well, based on last November it's clear we've had enough - but you guys are just digging the grave of the Republican Party Brand deeper and deeper now, aren't you? Isn't the definition of insanity something about repeating something that doesn't F-ing work over and over again? Yeah, maybe you should look that one up between the scholarly works of Larry the Cable Guy and Frank (the Liar Guy) Gaffney.

Oh, and for the record - we're not stupid.


Friday, February 16

System of a Down - B.Y.O.B.

System of a Down - B.Y.O.B.

Living Colour - Type

Type by Living Colour

Thursday, February 15

Libby and the Addington Question

Yesterday both the Prosecution and Defense rested in the Scooter Libby perjury trial. Exactly how the case will turn out is still anyones guess. With the defense arguing that "Libby was a busy man" and "simply couldn't remember" - it's possible that some of the jurors could buy his story even though at least seven people contradicted what he told the grand jury about when and where he first heard about CIA agent Valerie Plame-Wilson.

It's possible... except for one bit of testimony. One question that Libby put to White House Counsel David Addington that puts a match to his house of cards defense case.

The issue as I last discussed concerning the Libby trial is - what is his motivation to lie be? The most obvious answer to that question is the likelyhood that he realized that an CIA employee working in the Counter Proliferation Division just might be an undercover operative, and that revealing their identity was a crime.

Did Libby consider this after he'd revealed Plame's identify to both Judith Miller and Matt Cooper?

Yes he did, because he asked David Addington about it.

A: He asked me how you would know if you met someone from CIA if they were undercover. I responded when I worked out there, you'd ask if someone if they were undercover. He asked if they introduced themselves how you'd know. I told him you wouldn't know unless you asked or saw a piece of paper that said it was classified. (Like the INR Report!) I volunteered to him I could get him a copy of IIPA that makes it a crime to reveal identity of covert agent. I took it to his office and gave it to him.

From this we can see that Libby knew it was a crime and that he had clearly considered the possibility that Wilson's wife was undercover even if he didn't mention her specifically, just like Robert Grenier the CIA's Iraq Mission Manager who was the second person tell Libby about "Wilson's wife" following Marc Grossmam who had mentioned it earlier in the day on June 11th based on information he read in the INR Report on Wilson's trip.

Q. Some time after you testified in the GJ in January 2004. Did you continue to think about that question?

I was going over it in my mind. I was hoping that I hadn't mentioned anything to Mr. Libby, I really didn't remember anything new. But what I did remember was the way I felt immediately after.

I briefly felt guilty, that I had relayed too much information. I was going through a mental justification about why it was alright to have relayed this to Mr. Libby.

Q. What part were you having concerns about. Having mentioned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, revealing the identity of an agency officer, although it was indirect.

I didn't know her name, so I didn't give her name, but by saying Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, I was revealing the identity of a CIA officer. It wasn't absolutely necessary, that is information that we guard pretty closely, and if we don't have to say it, we don't.

Q. You went through a mental justification. Senior Govt official, has every security clearance known to man. He may have met this person in the course of his business, this person may have briefed him. Did you come to any conclusions?

It wasn't as if one day I had a revelation. But as I thought about it over time, as I remembered specifically I developed a growing conviction that I had said it, I said to myself wake up and smell the coffee.

During defense cross examination Grenier went even further.

Z If the person at the CPD that you spoke to did not tell you Wilson's wife was covert. Why were you feeling uncomfortable.

G Because I knew that that person could be undercover. We were talking about a unit in DO the vast majority of whose employees are undercover.

It's clear that much of the prosecution's case depend on this issue particular based on this exchange between counsel and Judge Walton.

Walton: I just talked to a security expert. And I think if jury doesn't have somebody who explains this, they'll be confused about whether there was a violation. As I understand it there was a violation of 5A, if they start looking at those, they'll become confused. Even given what was explained to me, I'd have to have some testimony in order to make the assessment you're asking for.

B: The jury is not going to be asked to assess whether there was a violation, only

Walton: Only whether he thought there was a violation.

Walton: What he did, is it from Govt's idea that he could have violated something without also violating 5A?

B: No, he would also violate 5A, including paragraph 3.

W: The issue they have to focus on is whether defendant would have thought that conceivably there was a problem,he would have obligation to check. It seems to me they focus on his mental state. If he had concerns about whether it was appropriate to reveal this.

B: The real issue here is that the defendant made up a story that took the classified nature of information out of the picture.

W: You're saying he did that because he throught there was a violation.

J There's no evidence he is worried about this.

B There's already BEEN evidence–the question to Addington.

W: Conceivably, maybe it was only the political revelation, but maybe it did. And I don't think that that determination can be made. Question is whether there is sufficient evidence in the record that he didn't want that out there. If he knows he signed a nondisclosure, that seems relevant. The jury has a right to be able to take that into consideration.

What Judge Walton is describing are the requirements of the Classified Information Non-Disclosure Agreement that anyone with a Security Clearance is required to sign. That agreement requires that a person in possesion of classified information must first verify the level of security of that information prior to sharing it even with other cleared persons. You have to ensure they have a need to know.

Addington had given him a copy of the IIPA which makes it a crime to knowingly reveal the identity of covert agent (but not a crime to do so unwittingly) - so Libby made sure that he never really knew if Plame was covert or not, that way he wouldn't be liable for violating that law - but by sharing information about Wilson's Wife which came from the classified INR with reporters, Libby (as well as Fleischer, Rove and Armatage) violated the NDA.

Fliescher to his credit figured it out as soon as the CIA began their investigation.

Fl As I recall it was Amb Joseph Wilson's wife. I was absolutely horrified. I thought I may have played a role in outing, oh my god did I play a role in outing a CIA officer, even though I had no idea that she was classifed or covert,

The odds that Libby didn't also figure this out are somewhere between slim and nil. He knew what he'd done and unlike the others he choose to come up with a cockamamie story about Tim Russert telling him about Plame.

It's possible that admit all the smoke and mirrors of the defense, the false promises that Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove and Libby would testify, the jury just might become confused on this point as it appears Judge Walton is somewhat confused.

If so, Libby will walk.

If not, he's be convicted and immediately appeal waiting for President Bush to pardon him on his way out of office in 2009.

Not exactly a satisfying ending either way. He's to hoping we get the latter, rather than than the former outcome.


Tuesday, February 13

Torture Porn for the Arm-Chair Warrior

Yes, I've decided after reading this article on Firedoglake, to return to one of my favorite whipping posts.

The Fox Show "24".

This time we're discussing a New Yorker Article that describes how the Brigidier General Patrick Finnegan, the Dean of West Point, has become so concerned by the influence of the show on his students in regards to the laws of war that he flew to the set to tell them to "Knock it Off!"

In fact, Finnegan and the others had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers. "I’d like them to stop," Finnegan said of the show’s producers. "They should do a show where torture backfires."

"24" Co-Creator Joel Surnow wasn't able to attend the meeting with the West Point Commanders - he was busy in a meeting with Roger Ailes to discuss a new "Right-Wing Daily Show" for the Fox News Channel.

For all its fictional liberties, "24" depicts the fight against Islamist extremism much as the Bush Administration has defined it: as an all-consuming struggle for America’s survival that demands the toughest of tactics. Not long after September 11th, Vice-President Dick Cheney alluded vaguely to the fact that America must begin working through the "dark side" in countering terrorism. On "24," the dark side is on full view. Surnow, who has jokingly called himself a "right-wing nut job," shares his show’s hard-line perspective. Speaking of torture, he said, "Isn’t it obvious that if there was a nuke in New York City that was about to blow—or any other city in this country—that, even if you were going to go to jail, it would be the right thing to do?"

Maybe it would be Joel, but you'd still be going to jail. Maybe you should do the right thing and save those lives, but then you should also pay the price for the consquences of your actions - something that never happens on "24".

Problem is, those people would probably still die since torture doesn't work - and you'd still be going to jail.

To be fair not everyone on the "24" Staff is a "right-wing nut-job" like Surnow, Howard Gordon who had previously worked as a producer on "The X-Files" is a so-called moderate Democrat. He just likes the torture, just as much as he liked the horror and paranoia on X-Files.

Gordon, who is a "moderate Democrat," said that it worries him when "critics say that we’ve enabled and reflected the public’s appetite for torture. Nobody wants to be the handmaid to a relaxed policy that accepts torture as a legitimate means of interrogation." He went on, "But the premise of ‘24’ is the ticking time bomb. It takes an unusual situation and turns it into the meat and potatoes of the show." He paused. "I think people can differentiate between a television show and reality."

Of course most rational people know that "24" is just a television show. Most of them don't think that it has anything what-so-ever to do with real life, or fact, or the law --- well, most people isn't everyone.

Before the meeting, Stuart Herrington, one of the three veteran interrogators, had prepared a list of seventeen effective techniques, none of which were abusive. He and the others described various tactics, such as giving suspects a postcard to send home, thereby learning the name and address of their next of kin. After Howard Gordon, the lead writer, listened to some of Herrington’s suggestions, he slammed his fist on the table and joked, "You’re hired!" He also excitedly asked the West Point delegation if they knew of any effective truth serums.

At other moments, the discussion was more strained. Finnegan told the producers that "24," by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors—cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by "24," which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, "The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about "24"?’ " He continued, "The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do."

Now I've mentioned before that a great many voices and perspectives are displayed on "24". One of the current plot-lines includes President Wayne Palmer's rejection of the hardline internment policies of one of his main advisors in favor of a more "liberal" direction of negotiation and persuasian with moderate muslims - which has apparently led to a right-wing plot to assasinate him just as his brother was assasinated.

In the latest episodes we've actually had dueling torture going on - where we see Jack torture his brother Graeme, since throttling him last episode didn't completely work, now using a chemical designed to induce a heart attack, which resulted in causing his brother to admit to being part of the plot to release nuclear suitcase bombs to terrorists (as well as having ordered the assasination at the beginning of last season of President David Palmer).

Meanwhile the terrorists have captured CTU technician O'Brien and have used various techniques including a basball bat and powerdrill to convince him to arm their nukes - which he does.

Unfortunately there's always a twist. In this case it's the fact that Jack's brother was actually working on the orders of their father - who slips into the room where Graem is still strapped down and finishes him off while Jack is out of the room to keep him from talking any further.

Naturally the bad guys actions are always much worse because they feel no remorse. Jack on the other hand, will be wracked with guilt and blame himself from Graeme's death, that's the kind of noble guy he is - but the truth is that this is idle nobility. If they actually followed the law he'd be tried for Murder and War Crimes, even though he didn't actually kill his brother - he admits that he wanted to - and was grossly negligent to leave him alone with their father.

Either way, he's responsible. But will he pay for what he's done? Not a chance.

And it's not exactly like our future military commanders coming through West Point are getting the point.

Gary Solis, a retired law professor who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders curriculum at West Point, told me that he had similar arguments with his students. He said that, under both U.S. and international law, "Jack Bauer is a criminal. In real life, he would be prosecuted." Yet the motto of many of his students was identical to Jack Bauer’s: "Whatever it takes." His students were particularly impressed by a scene in which Bauer barges into a room where a stubborn suspect is being held, shoots him in one leg, and threatens to shoot the other if he doesn’t talk. In less than ten seconds, the suspect reveals that his associates plan to assassinate the Secretary of Defense. Solis told me, "I tried to impress on them that this technique would open the wrong doors, but it was like trying to stomp out an anthill."

But the most effectively issue, which is actually reflected in the CIA Kubark manuals, is that fact that torture is generally ineffective.

At the meeting, Cochran demanded to know what the interrogators would do if they faced the imminent threat of a nuclear blast in New York City, and had custody of a suspect who knew how to stop it. One interrogator said that he would apply physical coercion only if he received a personal directive from the President. But Navarro, who estimates that he has conducted some twelve thousand interrogations, replied that torture was not an effective response. "These are very determined people, and they won’t turn just because you pull a fingernail out," he told me. And Finnegan argued that torturing fanatical Islamist terrorists is particularly pointless. "They almost welcome torture," he said. "They expect it. They want to be martyred." A ticking time bomb, he pointed out, would make a suspect only more unwilling to talk. "They know if they can simply hold out several hours, all the more glory—the ticking time bomb will go off!"

Kubark States that inflicting Pain is often ineffective:

Interrogates who are withholding but feel qualms of guilt and a secret desire to yeild are likely to become intractable if made to endure pain. The reason is that they can interpret the pain as punishment and hence expiation.

Intense pain is likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping distress. A time-consuming delay results, while an investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue.

And we already know that the facts are something that Neo-Cons in the Bush Administration simply have little time or patience for.

The notion that physical coercion in interrogations is unreliable, although widespread among military intelligence officers and F.B.I. agents, has been firmly rejected by the Bush Administration. Last September, President Bush defended the C.I.A.’s use of "an alternative set of procedures." In order to "save innocent lives," he said, the agency needed to be able to use "enhanced" measures to extract "vital information" from "dangerous" detainees who were aware of "terrorist plans we could not get anywhere else."

Besides the clear fact that these are War Crimes - the public finds these actions more and more acceptable, and "24" helps with that. Meanwhile, Life imitates Art in Iraq.

Although reports of abuses by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have angered much of the world, the response of Americans has been more tepid. Finnegan attributes the fact that "we are generally more comfortable and more accepting of this," in part, to the popularity of "24," which has a weekly audience of fifteen million viewers, and has reached millions more through DVD sales.

The third expert at the meeting was Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator in the war in Iraq. He told the show’s staff that DVDs of shows such as "24" circulate widely among soldiers stationed in Iraq. Lagouranis said to me, "People watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they’ve just seen." He recalled that some men he had worked with in Iraq watched a television program in which a suspect was forced to hear tortured screams from a neighboring cell; the men later tried to persuade their Iraqi translator to act the part of a torture "victim," in a similar intimidation ploy. Lagouranis intervened: such scenarios constitute psychological torture.

So now not only is "24" acting as justification for Bush brutal policies and helping to pacify public outcry, it's actually inspiring more crimes in the field.

And oh by the way - that shit doesn't work!

"In Iraq, I never saw pain produce intelligence," Lagouranis told me. "I worked with someone who used waterboarding"—an interrogation method involving the repeated near-drowning of a suspect. "I used severe hypothermia, dogs, and sleep deprivation. I saw suspects after soldiers had gone into their homes and broken their bones, or made them sit on a Humvee’s hot exhaust pipes until they got third-degree burns. Nothing happened." Some people, he said, "gave confessions. But they just told us what we already knew. It never opened up a stream of new information." If anything, he said, "physical pain can strengthen the resolve to clam up."

"24" isn't the first time that Surnow has used this type of theme. He was also a writer for the short-lived Police/Monter/Buffy-wannabe show "SU2 (Special Unit 2)" where brutal techniques and torture were regularly used against the Supernatural "(Missing) Links" that were the primary villians on the program. Anything goes when you're bad guys aren't human, eh?

On "24" not too much has changed - they just look human.

Fortunately it appears that Sutherland "gets it" - it's just too bad neither he nor anyone else as Fox is likely to upset the cash-cow cart.

"They were receptive. But they have a format that works. They have won a lot of awards. Why would they want to play with a No. 1 show?" Lagouranis said of the "24" team, "They were a bit prickly. They have this money-making machine, and we were telling them it’s immoral."

Afterward, Danzig and Finnegan had an on-set exchange with Kiefer Sutherland, who is reportedly paid ten million dollars a year to play Jack Bauer. Sutherland, the grandson of Tommy Douglas, a former socialist leader in Canada, has described his own political views as anti-torture, and "leaning toward the left." According to Danzig, Sutherland was "really upset, really intense" and stressed that he tries to tell people that the show "is just entertainment." But Sutherland, who claimed to be bored with playing torture scenes, admitted that he worried about the "unintended consequences of the show." Danzig proposed that Sutherland participate in a panel at West Point or appear in a training film in which he made clear that the show’s torture scenes are not to be emulated.

Good for Keifer. But what about Surnow?

(Surnow, when asked whether he would participate in the video, responded, "No way." Gordon, however, agreed to be filmed.)

Sutherland didn't speak to the New Yorker but he has previously spoken out about how he feels about torture. a recent television interview with Charlie Rose, his ambivalence about his character’s methods was palpable. He condemned the abuse of U.S.-held detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, as "absolutely criminal," particularly for a country that tells others that "democracy and freedom" are the "way to go." He also said, "You can torture someone and they’ll basically tell you exactly what you want to hear. . . . Torture is not a way of procuring information." But things operate differently, he said, on television: "24," he said, is "a fantastical show. . . . Torture is a dramatic device."

Although there have been some "liberal friendly" plotlines in "24" including last years story involving President Logan's plot to allow terrorists access to nerve gas in order to justify a war (sound familiar?) that still doesn't change the over-arching political direction of the show coming from Joel Surnow.

Yet David Nevins, the former Fox Television network official who, in 2000, bought the pilot on the spot after hearing a pitch from Surnow and Cochran, and who maintains an executive role in "24," is candid about the show’s core message. "There’s definitely a political attitude of the show, which is that extreme measures are sometimes necessary for the greater good," he says. "The show doesn’t have much patience for the niceties of civil liberties or due process. It’s clearly coming from somewhere. Joel’s politics suffuse the whole show."

Surnow, for his part, revels in his minority status inside the left-leaning entertainment industry. "Conservatives are the new oppressed class," he joked in his office. "Isn’t it bizarre that in Hollywood it’s easier to come out as gay than as conservative?" His success with "24," he said, has protected him from the more righteous elements of the Hollywood establishment. "Right now, they have to be nice to me," he said. "But if the show tanks I’m sure they’ll kill me." He spoke of his new conservative comedy show as an even bigger risk than "24." "I’ll be front and center on the new show," he said, then joked, "I’m ruining my chances of ever working again in Hollywood."

We can only hope Joel, we can only hope.

Whether you like the show or not, whether you believe that that art should or shouldn't be held accountable for the impressions it leaves on those who are most vulnerable (or willing), the evidence is mounting that it is presenting a completely unbalanced view of Counter-terrorism -- a view that is clearly deliberate and intended via Mr. Surnow and other Conservatives -- and that it may take quite a bit of time and effort to undue this misperception not only among the public, but also among our future Military leaders which is a seriously dangerous situation for us internationally The "Whatever it takes" attitude expressed by "24" which is used to justify and excuse torture simply doesn't work and undermines our moral authority.

It can and has only made things worse - not better.


Asshole Nation

Y'know I just got over the flu and haven't posted in the past week - but one thing strikes me as I look out into the passive uncaring faces of my fellow citizens. I am bewildered.

This nation is in the midst of a false war, started by lies which destroyed a CIA front operation, and where more of our citizens have died than did on 9/11, The very existences of our species is at risk as a result of climate change. We are being spied on by our own government without legal cause.

Where is the outrage? Where is the shock?

And then Anna Nicole Smith dies and people suddenly find their "Oh My God" button.


This disconnect between reality and people's personal priorities is of course, exactly what the Bush Administration has been depending on all along. And even when Bush is long gone, we'll still be dealing with this problem and these people.

Reading the Libby Trial transcripts, it's unfathomable to me that there aren't riots in front of the White House. All reasonable indications are that the Vice President committed an act of treason by outing a CIA operative.

While bed-ridden I tried to watch the 24-News stations for info on the trail and it was nothing but "What did Hillary Say - What did Obama say - What did Kucinich Say..." all day long on f'Tucker, Hardball and Scumborough.

That was last week, this week it's all about Anna.

Who's her baby daddy now? Whose gonna get that $500 Billion?

On one level I do admit to understanding it. I try to talk to co-workers and customers about real issues occasionally and generally they seem just completely defeated. It's not just apathy, it's completely cynicism. They don't feel that anything they say or do will make a difference in City Hall, the State Capitol or Washington. Better to obsess about the Superbowl, World Series, All Star Game... the Bread and Circus Du Jour or Astronaut Pampers.


The Pelosi Plane Story is totally and completely bogus?

Yeah, ok. Whatever.

The Obama/Osama Madrossa smear is a bunch of hooey? Ok, sure, but it's still Hillaries fault.

Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11? Oh sure, except not to Doug Feith who still thinks he did.

How long ago was it when we were hearing this drum beat of "Up or down Vote, Up or Down Vote" followed by the Nuclear Option and then last week every moderate Republican in the Senate does a double back flip with a full-twisting gainer to support a filibuster against a non-binding anti-surge resolution. Even Senator Warner and it was HIS Bill?

Where do these ASSHOLES COME FROM?

And As bad as some of that behavior has been, what's with the rest of us who just shrug and nod and let this bullshit stand?

Obviously I'm not talking about people on this site, I'm talking about the rest of the couch potatoes out there.

It's hard to blame someone for paying more attention to their kids, to their jobs, to thier recreation, or to their laundry. LIfe is tough all over. I get that.

But I keep wondering, at what point will people finally start to realize what they're being sold?

And then I have to realize that the real problem isn't just those assholes in Washington - it's the Assholes on Main Street. The reason that Glenn Beck and Bill O'Rielly and Rush Limbaugh get people to pay attention to them is the fact that they say exactly what tons and tons of Americans want to hear.

People want to believe that America would never fuck up this badly. They want to believe each and everyone one of our soldiers is brave, strong and true and honest. And like a four year-old they'll through a Michele Malkin hissy fit at the suggestion that even one of them them might not be.

They want to believe exactly what it is the GOP is selling. It's warm. It's comforting. It's not the terribly frightening world that so many of us who are actually paying attention live in where Modern Day Concentration Camps have become a reality. Where Torture is a portion of us U.S. War policy. Where Habaus Corpus is optional. Where we stand on the brink of a possible Nuclear Showdown not just one country - but Two.

Better to go back to the Beer and Football and Cheerleaders.

It's safer (deep in self=delusion) there -- for now.

The Asshole Nation is out there, we know it - we've ridden with it in carpools. Some of them are our parents. Our Brothers. Our Sisters. Our Bosses. They are the reason George Bush is in the White House and the reason he isn't Impeached and Prosecuted right this second. The very suggestion is too dark, too real, for their "Beatiful Minds".

Exactly what's it's going to take to blast Joe and Janine-Six Pack off the couch is something I'm not sure I even want to witness. But it's coming and it won't be anwhere near as pretty as Anna was.

Count on it.