Saturday, March 3

Ice T and the Cop Killer Story

The story around the controvery created by ICE T and Bodycount's Cop Killer



How the Right-wing exploited the "Cop Killer" song to their own political benefit, from the BBC.

Tupac - Letter to the President

Tupac - Letter to the President

Friday, March 2

Oh, those C-R-A-Z-Y Conservatives - what won't they say next?

We all know by now that the next coffee spit-take as a result of some conservative saying something fantastically stupid is just around the corner right?

Whether it's Ted Stevens saying the "Internet is like a series of tubes". Virgil Goode proclaiming that jihadists want our money to read "In Muhammad we trust" instead of Allah which is simply the Arabic translation for "God". We've had George "Macaca-man" Allen and then Rush Limbaugh who thought it was a good idea to mimic and accuse a man suffering and surviving parkinsons of exaggerating his symptoms for politics.

But now I think I've heard it all.

Before I get into what has currently caught my fancy - let me give you one little blast from the past. Candidate George W. Bush in 2000 commenting on criticizing the readiness of our troops.

To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that’s no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.

Wow, Bush actually spoke the truth once upon a time. Takes you're breath away doesn't it?

Anyway, back to modern day.

In the midst of a post Gore-Oscar "debate" on Global Warming from Hannity and colmes this week, Right-Wing Attack Harpy Ann Coulter let drop a non-stop string of what may some of the dumbest things I've ever heard anyone say. Anywhere. And that's saying something.

First she proclaims that those who support energy conservation have no energy policy, despite the fact that one of the persons she was debating with is Darryl Hannah whose been off the grid for the past thirteen years thanks to solar panels installed in her home.

From Media Matters

COULTER: To say that we can spend less or that we can use candles is not an energy policy.

DARYL HANNAH (actress): Nobody has mentioned candles but you, Ann, I'm afraid.

Um Ann, yes - using less energy actually Is an energy policy. Hello - McFly?

To Coulter the idea of using more efficient light bulbs, more effience air conditioners and refrigerators and insulating your home is just madness, we can't do that! You Lib-ruls are making to so we have to live by candle light! Bastards.

Yeah, ok, and I suppose we have to use a horse and buggy to go down to feed store for fresh groceries everyday too, huh?

But wait, it gets worse.

She then went on to claim that energy conservation and restricting carbon emissions is somehow dangerous to the survival the human race (as if cataclysmic changes in our weather and climate won't be?)

COULTER: It's anti-human. They want all of America to look like Amagansett [New York], where they -- the beautiful, rich people -- live in their homes, and there are a few maids. Well-tempered maids will come in and take care of them, bicycling to work. But they want to destroy the middle class of America.

And, I might add, I know they hate the middle class of America, but it would also wipe out their little friends in Chad and Darfur, who need energy to eat, to live, to have -- to go to the bathroom indoors in winter. It has nothing to do with Priuses or candle power. The energy is what allows humans to live.

People need energy to go to the batchroom indoors during the winters in Africa???? Did you guys follow her round that bend?

Energy is what allow us to live? And here I was thinking it had something to do with proteins, amino acids and fracking oxygen!

Repeatedly during the broadcast she proclaimed, backed by Hannity of course, that solar panels don't work, wind power doesn't work, bio-diesel doesn't work, hybrids don't work and that the only real solution to the problem of producing clean power is - wait for it - more Nuclear Power Plants. Which of course, according to Ann, have all been blocked by Liberals. It's not like that little Three Mile Island problem, and the inability to safely store spent fuel rods - Not to mention Chernobyl - has had anything to do with it, eh?

Right.

Hannity, whose been on an Anti-Gore Jihad for years now complaining that Gore's is a hypocrit because his household energy bill is 12 Times the national average (even those both Gore and his wife have home offices which increase his consumption as well as the fact that his electric bills are higher because he pays extra for Green Energy Only) decided to jump and and proclaim that Gore's Book "Earth in the Balance" included the completely wacky suggestion that we could do away with the combustion engine in 25 years.

God, whatta maroon.

However, if you look at my Diary here on the rise and subsequent fall (after a hefty push from the auto industry) of the Electric Car in California, it's clear that it was and is completely possible to replace most commuter vehicles with fully electric cars well within Gore's deadline.

Contrary the Coulter's claims that retooling our industrial base away from carbon fuels would somehow "destroy humanity", the truth is that if we don't act - and do so very quickly - the impact of Global Warming may very soon cause the Amazonian rain forest, which is currently the largest source of oxygen on the planet, to begin to wither an die from a devastating draught which has lasted for the last two years.

To me people like Hannity and Coulter are like those who deny the Holocaust. They're completely deluded, but don't mistake that delusion for a lack of intelligence - only that they have an deep emotional/ideological investment in maintaining the status quo just as it is. They don't want change, particularly if they're receiving checks from Exxon-Mobil as many Global Warming opponents at the Hyper-Conservative American Enterprise Institute have.

But even the Bush Adminstration has admitted that Global Warming is causing Polar Bears to starve and drown because of the melting of the polar ice shelf and have marked them as an endangered species.

If only Coulter-giest and her ilk were similarly endangered.

Vyan

Wednesday, February 28

Troops turn to TV for Torture Tips

The Eternal Question: Just how much does the entertainment media impact how we see the real world?

Following in the wake of Keith Olbermann's bashing of the show 24 as Right-Wing Propaganda, and an article in The New Yorker which discusses the impact the show seems to be having at West Point comes the revelation that shows such as "24" are exactly where our troops in the field are getting their direction.

And to me, that's not a good thing...

Republicans are constantly stating that every little utterance by the left "sends a message" to the troops. Well, maybe it does - but exactly what is that message, eh?

Although "24" executive producer Howard Gordon has recently promised to "Tone Down the Torture" on the show because it's simply becoming too trite - this issue still has legs because of the numerous copies of DVD's which have been shared among our troops in combat like trading cards.

From Thinkprogress.

The television show 24 has become a foreign policy guide for the right wing. Numerous conservative pundits have cited 24 as a sanction for harsh interrogation practices. In September, Laura Ingraham stated, "The average American out there loves the show 24. ... In my mind that’s close to a national referendum that it’s OK to use tough tactics against high-level Al Qaeda operatives as we’re going to get."

Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently told the 24 producers that he was concerned that the show’s promotion of illegal torture "was having a damaging effect on young troops."

It can and has been argued that "24" isn't entirely the province of the Right-Wing since it has shown a neo-con President being taken down while attempting to create a false WMD situation in order to prompt a unjustified war. It has also shown two African-Americans as Presidents - something that hasn't happened in cinema since Morgan Freeman first portrayed President Tom Beck in the 1998 Steven Speilberg produced film "Deep Impact".

(Since then Freeman has actually played "God" in 2003's Bruce Almight and it's upcoming sequel "Evan Almighty" - so he's batting way ahead of the curve I would think.)

Be that as it may it should be noted that both Presidents David and Wayne Palmer have been beset with multiple assasination attempts, attempts which ultimately succeeded in the case of the former Palmer at the beginning of season 5 (Just in time for Dennis Haysbert to join his new series "The Unit") It should also be noted that only in the deluded right-wing fantasy would absolutely none of these assasination attempts have anything to do with their race - people on the left, who aren't invested in the rights myriad attempts to deny the very existence of racism, unless it's racism by liberals ala Dinesh D'Souza, know better! See Macaca-Man the ex-Senator or possibly Reps Virgil Goode, Tom Tancredo or CNN Host Glenn Beck for more examples.)

My ultimate point here is that not everything on this show is either pro-left or pro-right - sometimes it mixes the two perspectives, for example President Wayne Palmer's right-wing chief of staff Tom Lennox attempts to foil the plot against Palmer by his own deputy in the latest episode. Lennox may support the mass random interment of Muslims, but he draws the line at a coup. Good for him, uh, I think.

It's not always simple to decipher the various messages of the show, simply because often there is no message only the twists and turns of a plot intended to keep the audience off balance and in constant suspense.

But one thing that is consistent and decidedly right-wing, is the torture. And for our real troops in the field who are attempting to gather intelligence on the insurgents, Al-Qaeda, the Mahdi Army and the Taliban - it's not just the fact that "24" repeatedly offers excuses and justifications for torture, it's also the fact that the U.S. Government has failed to offer them proper guidance and training on Geneva and War Crimes.

And I for one, don't think that's an accident.

In a new interview with Newsweek, former U.S. Army specialist Tony Lagouranis, who left the military with an honorable discharge in 2005, confirms Finnegans fears — that U.S. soldiers did take cues from 24 to torture prisoners:

Interrogators didn’t have guidance from the military on what to do because we were told that the Geneva Conventions didn’t apply any more. So our training was obsolete, and we were encouraged to be creative. We turned to television and movies to look for ways of interrogating. I can say that I saw that with myself, also. I would adopt the posture of the television or movie interrogator, thinking that establishing that simple power arrangement, establishing absolute power over the detainee, would force him to break. ...

[We adopted mock] executions and mock electrocution, stress positions, isolation, hypothermia. Threatening to execute family members or rape detainees’ wives and things like that.

In the absense of proper and clear guidance from their leaderes - these guys are basically making shit up on the fly and gettings tips from anywhere that they can. If that includes "24" - so be it.

The situation as described by Lagouranis is essentially identical to what was described in HBO's "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" which I dairied about this weekend. A permissive and lax attitude by higher ups - mixed with heavy pressure to "get information" at the Abu Ghraib Hard Site led directly to clear violations not only of Geneva, but also U.S. Law.

It led to the murder of Manadel al-Jamadi.

Fortunately, some at "24" have choosen to take some responsibility...

Lagouranis has teamed up with Human Rights First to advocate against torture, noting that what is seen on 24 "is not an effective technique for gaining intelligence." Kiefer Sutherland, the actor who stars as Jack Bauer, has also said that the torture techniques employed in the show are not effective ways to get information in real life. He recently agreed to speak with cadets at the West Point military academy to teach them that torture is wrong.

It shouldn't have to be Keifer's responsibility. An actor shouldn't have to basically go out and explain that - he's just an actor and it's just a TV Show. People shouldn't be taking this stuff to heart and taking it literally.

But in the absense of a strong argument (with the possible exceptions of Battlestar Galactica and Sleeper Cell) from either the media or government to the contrary that torture doesn't work, that it undermines our moral standing and authority, that it's a crime - this is what we're left with.

Actors educating our military.

We need to do better than this. Much better.

Oh, and just in case you thought Mr. Gordon was actually serious about his claims that the excessive torture would be written out of "24", next weeks episode features Jack breaking into the Russian Consolate, capturing the Consolate General and threating to "Cut off his fingers one by one - until he talks."

It seems that despite what Gordon says, the perspective and views of "24" co-creator, producer and admitted "right-wing nutbag" Joel Surnow continue to hold sway.

"It’s a deep, dark ugly world out there. Maybe this is what Ollie North was trying to do. It would be nice to have a secret government that can get the answers and take care of business — even kill people."

Whaddamean by "It would be nice..." Joel? That's exactly what we do have.

Vyan

Tuesday, February 27

False Patriotism: Republicans and their contempt for the Troops

pIt's almost enough to make your head explode. Time and time again we see Bush and his cohorts hide behind the flag, and those dumb little "Support the Troops" magnets - for everything they do even everything they don't do to protect this nation.

I for one, am well sick of it.

Last week we had the absolute coup de gras revealed by the Dana Priest at the Washington Post that Walter Reed, the Hospital responsible for taking care of our many thousands of wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, is a rat and roach infested shithole.

But the signs were well displayed on the wall long before this recent report. Long before...

Here's a quote we should all be committing to memory.

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of "Catch-22." The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.

But this isn't the picture that the Bush Administation - who frequently used Walter Reed as a shining example of their "commitment to the troops" - would like to paint.

This world is invisible to outsiders. Walter Reed occasionally showcases the heroism of these wounded soldiers and emphasizes that all is well under the circumstances. President Bush, former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and members of Congress have promised the best care during their regular visits to the hospital's spit-polished amputee unit, Ward 57.

"We owe them all we can give them," Bush said during his last visit, a few days before Christmas. "Not only for when they're in harm's way, but when they come home to help them adjust if they have wounds, or help them adjust after their time in service."

They'd like to keep this ugly little secret hidden - unfortunately the WaPo blew their cover and they've been scrambling like ants under a magnifying glass ever since with Tony Snow first declaring that Bush knew all about it and then that he didn't. Flip-flop much Tony?

But Walter Reed is just the tip of the iceberg.

The issue of equiping our troops with proper armor, aging equipment, helmets and Frag 5 kits has been going on for as long as the war.

Many of those who are in walter Reed with amputations and brain injuries wouldn't even be there if proper precautions had been taken in the first place. (Nor or course, would they be there if we hadn't started a bogus war in the first place - although that fact is beside the point of this post)

The true disgrace here is that even with all of these clear shortfalls in spending and legitimate support for the troops the U.S. has simultaneously wasted over $10 Billion in Iraq in addition to the $8.8 Billion that the Coalition Provisional Authority just plain lost.

The three top auditors overseeing contract work in Iraq told a House committee of $10 billion in spending that was wasteful or poorly tracked. They pointed to numerous instances in which Defense and State department officials condoned or otherwise allowed poor accounting, repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for work shoddily or never done by U.S. contractors.

Yet when someone like John Murtha (who visits Walter Reed every week) steps forward to try and truly give the troops the support they deserve and need - including ensuring they receive proper training, proper equipment and proper rest prior to redeployment - he is vilified by the right for attempting to "slow bleed" us out of the war.

What a surprise that is, eh?

We all know about Jean Schmidt accusing a decorated Marine veteran like Murtha of being a "coward" who "cuts and runs". This follows perfectly with thier attacks on John Kerry for simply stating the truth about Vietnam, just as they've tried to White-Wash Abu Ghraib, Haditha and Mahmoudiya.

Should we expect any less after Bush sets up a staged interview with the troops just so they can tell America "everything is going great" - especially the training of the Iraqi Army - which we subsequently learned had been completely botched and fubar'd just like everything else the Bush Administration has tried, and failed to do in this war?

Just as they love to tear down real heroes - they also love to create false stories about them such as the ones about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.

Meanwhile they ignore the fact that repeated deployments and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anti-depressants are leading our troops into record breaking levels of suicide.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

Yet to them, Murtha is the one who "doesn't support the troops" - if you can believe that.

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?

But of course, if Democrats were to cut funding or try to put a cap on the troops - the Republicans would scream bloody murder about it wouldn't they? It's not like they didn't seriously entertain doing the exact same thing (impose a cap and cut funding) for President Clinton's campaigns in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Oh wait, they did.

At a certain point you simply have to admit that this is a complete pile of bullcrap.

These guys don't really care about our troops - they simply using them as a political tool to enrich their own positions of power. And even after that has clearly stopped working on the American people - amazingly, they're still doing it. They've been getting away with this shit for so long , they don't when it's time to quit the game and go home.

It truly boggles the mind.

This Sunday 60 Minutes did a report on a number of Iraq Veterans who have now turned against the War.

"It's not about speaking out against the military or speaking out against the war. It's just, we're here four years down the line and there's not an end to it," Sgt. Evans, one of the dissenters, tells Logan.

"What are we trying to accomplish over there? I mean, what is what are we trying to do in Iraq?" another soldier, Sgt. Ronn Cantu asks.

What does he think?

"I don't even know anymore," he tells Logan.

...

"We’re not telling young men and women that it’s not worth it, to serve their country. We’ve served our country. The men and women who have signed the appeal have served their country. So those, we’re not saying it’s not worth it. We’re saying that, if you have reservations about it to communicate it. That’s simply what it is," Hutto says.

"There are gonna be a lot of people who don't like what you’re doing," Logan says.

"By volunteering we've done more than about 99 percent of the population. And anybody who joined after 9/11 when the country was at a state of war, it's my opinion that nobody has the right to question that soldier's patriotism, nobody," Cantu replies.

"There are going to be a lot of people listening to this who say that, 'You're a traitor. You're betraying your uniform. You don't deserve to wear it,'" says Logan.

"I hope there aren't people that think that," says Lt. Commander Mark Dearden.

Oh but they will think that, particularly those in the right-wing state of mind.

In response Hannity practically had an aneurysm, claiming that "CBS is distorting the truth - they're lying." He's promising to expose them and has setup an email address (VictoryInIraq@foxnews.com) for veterans who continue to support this war and the way that it's being fought.

He had "expert" testimony for Oliver North who claimed "I've never heard any troops complain to me" about Iraq. Hm, maybe those that would complain probably don't think it's worth their time to talk to neo-facists like North or Hannity - ya think?

Then again, I think a few Dkos vets might have a thing or too to say to Mr. Hannity.

The good news is that these ploys really are beginning to fail. People don't believe this tripe anymore. 67% of the public currently disapproves of how the Iraq war is being handled. 64% don't think Iraq wasn't worth fighting for. 56% feel we should withdraw our forces before civil order is restored. 67% oppose "the Surge". 58% would support a plan similar to Murtha's requiring better training and more rest time.

They don't believe Cheney when he say's everything is going fine in Afghanistan - not after al-Qaeda attempts to kill him with a suicide-bombing.

They don't believe Laura Bush when she claims "Much Of Iraq Is ‘Stable,’ There’s Just ‘One Bombing A Day That Discourages Everybody’" - while figures show that there are over 185 militia and insurgent attacks a day.

The rights pathological hatred and disgust for the troops welfare is obvious for all to see - which may explain why they fight so hard to over-compensate for it.

They resent the Troops. Possibly because those men and women who serve have either shown the type of courage almost none of them possess or have come from dire financial straights which the pampered blue-bloods of the reich wing will never truly relate too.

Whatever the reason - it's clear that all they really care about is basking in the endless shower of money for defense contracts and sub-contracts that perpetual war will guarantee for generations. As was shown in Robert Greenwald's film "Iraq for Sale" this is all about enabling War Profiteers, nothing more.

The right doesn't want to "Win" this war - they simply want the fighting to go on and on and on...

It's better for the bottom line of Halliburton, CACI and Blackwater, so what if our troops pay for it with their bodies and blood?

And that's why - From DAY ONE - they have shown nothing but contempt for the "poor rubes" who let themselves be suckered into a uniform.

2008 can't come soon enough for their day of reckoning.

Vyan