A Nation’s Shame

Birmingham, 1963.

There are reasons why some people would prefer that certain photos not enter the public record. Seeing them would only compel action.

Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos [AP/TPM]

Tape shows JFK fumed over rights pressures [AP/USA Today, 2005]

Birmingham campaign [Wikipedia]

130 Comments

Note to Barry, denial always works…

Like a guy I once called friend. He thinks he’s the worlds greatest business and combat leader because all he graduated from MBA school with little or no actual working experience and the fact that he has been kicked out of the reserves and had 14 jobs in 15 years of “working.” Each time he’s been let go, he blames it on politics or because they’re just jealous of his gifts. He’s gifted alright as he has the “talent” to piss off both superiors and subordinates at the same time as well as being the most insecure person I’ve ever known and the uncanny ability for non-introspection.

Do I need to add that he’d be a Canada City Paultard?

No snark here, I’m so fucking pissed off.

@SanFranLefty: They’ll come out, just not now. But I don’t like it either.

I’m still hoping that the Unicorn know what he is doing here, putting on a show to look moderate while the wheels of justice and public opinion turn. Poker player, remember?

I have to confess that I agree with Black Eagle’s reasoning here. The pictures going viral right now will not shed any new light on the issues – we already know that prisoners were abused – but will very definitely inflame some passions in corners of the world where we may very possibly be regaining at least a modicum of respectability after those many years in the thuggish wilderness. And they could very well detract from the building momentum to actually prosecute someone for crimes against humanity by conflating the prisoner abuse (nekkid pyramids, dogs, laughing soldiers) with the torture issue.

Plus, as someone remarked on KeefO last night, there is a tactical disadvantage of Hopey releasing the photos now; short-attention-span US America will start associating his administration with prisoner abuse (and possibly torture), and not remember that this is more of the shit we’re cleaning up from after Bush.

If he’s playing poker, then he’s going for a straight flush for a pot that includes Bush and Cheney in the dock without the current POTUS leaving fingerprints on the case.

@Nabisco: Not to crib too much from Andrew Sullivan (who in turn cribs from Glenn Greenwald), but I thought that a primary objective of the ACLU and countless others demanding the release of additional photos from Iraq, Afghanistan, and God only knows where else was to help prove — in a graphic, irrefutable manner — that the so-called “prisoner abuse” at Abu Ghraib (let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?) was not the work of a few, sadistic “bad apples,” but rather evidence of a wide-scale, top-down torture regime, i.e., by showing that specific methods of torture were deployed far and wide, in a way that defies randomness.

(Sorry for the run-on, but the only simple thing one can really say about this whole mess is, “Torture is immoral and illegal, no exceptions allowed,” and just see how far that gets you.)

@Nabisco: Plausible, but in so many words, I don’t trust Barry on this issue. His behavior reflects his Lurch Towards the Center last summer, when he suddenly caved on various things after the nomination was locked in. Dude’s still a politician, and this strikes me as all about politics.

Which is to say: I don’t think his explanation is offered in good faith.

Barry’s worried about inflamed passions? This is the guy who delivered the race-relations speech a year ago — he knows damn well how to address profoundly sensitive issues. Release the photos and declare you’re going to prosecute the criminals to the fullest extent of the—

Oh, right. He’s not doing that. There goes the moral high ground.

I also find the argument that we already know about this shit irrelevant. Volume matters. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is an unremarkable line. Until you repeat it over and over again, page after page. We don’t know about this shit. We haven’t yet grasped the enormity of it.

I’m going the Full Turley on this one. The torture issue transcends politics, transcends tactics. A grave crime has been committed, and everybody’s trying their damnedest to look the other way.

@mellbell: Just to clarify what I mean about Abu Ghraib, the sense I get is that the pictures we’re all so familiar with by now represent but one aspect of what went on there, and, unfortunately, the human pyramids and dog collars and what have you reduce it to a sort of sideshow that undermines how deadly serious it was .

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Poker player, remember?

Indeed I do, since I’ve been screaming it since last summer…

And I’ve been willing to allow that, that Barry doesn’t want to take the lead on the issue, preferring to wait for the wind to inflate his sails. But that was so long as he keeps letting the pressure build by granting FOIA requests and such. This one strikes me as obstructing justice, and he doesn’t get to play that card.

@SanFranLefty: I’m with you on that. That noise you heard yesterday was me yelling inside my truck when I heard the news on the radio. The bad guys would try to hang every fucking dead soldier from the release on out around the President’s neck, though.

@nojo:

There’s also the small problem that giving people immunity from prosecution for torture, obstructing investigations, etc., are also crimes, clearly defined under existing law and treaty–Geneva Convention and Convention Against Torture–so Barry’s now an accomplice… whoopsies.

So are we a nation under the rule of law or not? You can’t be a little bit pregnant, and you can’ t be a little bit of a torture regime.

@Original Andrew: So are we a nation under the rule of law or not?

You have to ask?

This is where, if I was doing a longer version, I would have worked in “too big to fail”: You can’t prosecute above immediate supervisor because that would bring everything down. Laws aren’t meant for the lawgivers.

Speaking of which, when does Congress share its healthcare benefits with the rest of us?

In one of life’s greatest ironies, the Americans most in favor of torture–Cheney, Limbaugh, Hannity, et al.–are the ones who most deserve to be tortured to death.

@nojo:

How obstructing justice? Not in a legal sense, certainly…

@nojo: Agreed. Another problem with the “sit back and wait” approach is that Obama didn’t technically say “we can’t release the photos.” Instead, he said that the Pentagon could appeal the Circuit Court of Appeals decision up to the Supremes, and that is a very dangerous game to play. The argument offered by the government for not releasing the photos is ridiculous (We can’t release the photos and documents because people might get upset), was thrown in at the end of their district court brief and has minimal statutory or caselaw support, and if the conservatives on the court go through Cirque du Soliel levels of legal reasoning gymnastics to buy it, then it will eviscerate the Freedom of Information Act. Black Eagle is making a very dangerous bet in this little poker game, and the repercussions could extend to areas of government transparency that have nothing to do with national security.

That’s the other reason I’m pissed as hell. Besides the big one.

Sorry if that comment was too legalistic. I’ve been writing a brief all day.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Granted — blocking the photos now (or attempting to) has no direct relation to a potential criminal case.

So I should have said something like “tantamount to obstructing justice.” Or “obstructing justice in spirit, if not yet in law.”

Larger picture: He’s foot-dragging. Which, as I’ve said, I’ll allow — so long as he does nothing to actually impede the course of justice. There are legitimate arguments whether a case can actually be brought, based on the language of the relevant laws, and I’m open to hearing those out.

But what I fear, based on behavior to date, is that an honest debate whether prosecutions are possible will not be held. Instead, we’ll get some bullshit trying to skirt the issues, which is exactly what led to the torture memos in the first place.

That would be the supreme irony. And very much par for the course.

@SanFranLefty: @Original Andrew: @redmanlaw: @nojo: @mellbell:

My friends. I’m torn on this one, trust me. Good points all about airing the dirty laundry, and yes I’m more Turley than most on the torture is a crime, and if you don’t go after it, you’re complicit.

But I also remember how people looked at me when I was abroad and the Abu Ghraib photos broke. If I hadn’t had the blue helmet (well, lapel pin) to hide behind, there would have been a lot of ‘splainin to do. And RML is right, every bomb blast and body bag after the first photo release would be Owned By Hope ™.

But again, maybe you’re right, that’s just politics and as CinC and Leader of the Free World he should own it, and then eliminate it with extreme prejudice. The Philly speech on race is a good benchmark for how high the Eagle can soar.

To my fellow Californians – Arnie’s doing his press conference announcing more cuts:

http://www.calchannel.com/channel/live/4

@Nabisco:

The white-wingnuts are always screeching about how liberals are moral relativists, which for some reason deeply offends them, at least until they find a cause they disagree with, which induces them to suddenly spout all kinds of insane lies/rationalizations (ex. “We don’t torture even though we really do! Actually, sure we torture! And it works!” And so forth).

Well, this is as straight-up black and white as it gets. Sixty years of legislative and judicial actions have outlawed torture, and every moral civilized nation–except ours now, apparently–condemns it.

As you know from history, once a nation condones torture as acceptable policy, it spreads rapidly. It starts as a technique used against foreigners, political, racial, ethnic and sexual minorities, but fairly quickly becomes standard usage against all citizens and non-citizens. A government that disappears and tortures people can do anything to anyone at any time.

That’s why there’s no excuses and no possible compromises on this issue. It’s brought shame and humiliation on our nation, and people must be held responsible, otherwise it will happen over and over and over again.

@nojo:
@Nabisco:
@OA

It is a tough one, isn’t it? On the one hand, ya got yer realpolitik and trying to make this country run as it should, and on the other- well, St. Augustine said it better than I can:

“If there is no right where there is no justice, then most certainly it follows that there is no republic where there is no justice.”

**sigh**

How this is dealt with will determine, at last, the success of the great experiment that is the United States. We are either looking at a dying representative government giving way to Oligarchy and Plutocracy, or at the triumph of Democracy and the Rule of Law.

I wonder if this is on Barry’s mind at night. Maybe I’ll write him a letter he’ll never see….

@Original Andrew: Since the 4th Amendment has been rolled back to practically non-existent, you’re not being paranoid.

ADD: For example, a cop kicking a guy in the head when he’s down and surrendered and then high-fiving your partner

@SanFranLefty:

Didn’t ya hear? 9/11 repealed the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and our sanity and morality.

After all, it’s 9:11 everyday! Twice a day!

@SanFranLefty:

Or maybe you’re still upset about the Supreme Court’s oral arguments where the “Justices,” and I use that term loosely, are all “why not hook a car battery up to that 14 year-old girl’s labia then juice her till she tells you where the aspirin is–we don’t have a problem with that, ha ha ha, ah hah ha ha ah.” (hysterical laughter overtakes the Court)

OMG, I’m gonna stop now, ’cause I’m starting to sound severely Paultarded when I start invoking THE CONSTIMATOOTION!

@Nabisco: @Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: Plenty of room for discussion — this is the debate our leaders are supposed to be having openly, but aren’t.

To answer one lingering point: Any American who gets killed today is already going to be pinned on Barry — that’s what Cheney’s up to, that’s what the “objections” to closing Gitmo are about. No point even worrying about the politics there. And would you like mustard on yer burger?

And I think this is one of those issues where you simply have to do what’s right, and screw the consequences. Will it waste valuable political cred that could be spent on healthcare reform? So be it. Sometimes you can’t — or shouldn’t — call the shots.

@Nabisco: When I was in Belgium in ’07 I told everyone I was Canadian. Try it.

@SanFranLefty:

What do you expect from a bunch of fascist thugs? Those assholes have never been anything but a better-armed, taxpayer-subsidized street gang.

@Original Andrew: Agreed, no excuses, no surrender (is that a Springsteen lyric?) on torture. I’ve worked the importance of the Convention Against Torture into presentations on the evolution of international asylum practices many times, and we are a fucking shell of the nation we pretend to be if we allow this trail of evidence to peter out. I’m just less certain on how important or necessary it is to let more pictures of prisoner abuse out.

And I don’t even really buy the argument that our troops will be at greater risk. Bullshit. They’re already at war, and they have guns. I’m thinking more about the hoods in the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil and Venezuela where we’re slooooowly crawling back to some level of normalcy in terms of our acceptance as a people.

Of course, the talk over coffee in Beirut now is probably “damn Yanks are trying to cover up what we already know they did”. Lose-lose?

@blogenfreude: Oh, I’ve done that. I was a Canadian “dentist” in Guatemala once (long story), and passed as a non-specific Central American when I visited Rome speaking only Spanish. Turns out service is better, and they don’t expect you to tip!

@ManchuCandidate: Um, you’re not missing any dentists up there, are you?

@Nabisco:
Nope, eh.

Just exercising my inner Bob/Doug McKenzie.

@SanFranLefty: Trying to scare us into voting for the crazy-ass ballot measures next week. Not gonna work. I’m voting “no” on all of them.

@Dodgerblue:

Wow, Dodger, for what reasons? I was planning on voting yes on most of them, because I figured we have to get some money together somehow

TJ to a happier note: Freedom is on the march in New England.

The governor of New Hampshire is set to sign a bill legalizing gay marriage pending a few revisions that the state Congress is expected to approve, advancing gay-rights advocates’ goal of legalizing gay marriage in all of New England. The adjustments, which the governor requested, strengthen the rights of individuals not to participate in gay marriage ceremonies should they have religious objections. The Associated Press reports that Connecticut has similar language in its gay marriage law. Barring any surprises or changes of heart, New Hampshire will be the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. The governor said that he personally opposes gay marriage, but that he decided to consider the issue “through a broader lens.”

@Dodgerblue: I’m voting yes on 1A and 1B. I’m voting no on 1D and 1E, those two are premised on lies.

@Mistress Cynica: Holy shyte. I thought he was going to veto it.

@Nabisco: Lose-lose?

Always makes it easier to do the right thing. Freedom’s just another word…

And nobody’s mentioned it here, but there’s also a specious argument about privacy. Blur the faces if that’s the case. I’m sure somebody in DC has a copy of Photoshop.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket & @SanFranLefty:

You’re voting yea? Don’t you wanna see Arnie spanging for change on Santa Monica Blvd?

Brohtha, can ya spare $40,000,000,000?

@Original Andrew:

Hmmm…maybe if I voted “no” it would push us that much further to legal weed, what with the galloping fiscal crisis and all.

@mellbell:

Have you tried a hot bath? I find that duele de la cabeza goes right away with some eucalyptus bath salts.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

Here in WA, our wise, wise Guv and Legislature have decided that it’s more important for Paul Allen and Bill Gates to have new jets and fourth vacation homes rather than raise any taxes to cover our $9 BILLION deficit, so they’re laying off teachers and slashing 40,000 people off public health, which you have to be flat out destitute to qualify for in the first place.

I’m thinking the urban dystopia of high technology combined with horrifying poverty depicted in Slumdog seems to be the template our “leaders” are using.

@Original Andrew: I go for the spiciest soups possible, tom yum kai is a good one to open up the sinuses.

TJ: Just watched Sestak (D-AnyoneButArlen) fumble the bright light on Tweety. I appreciate his attempts to co-opt the torture issue for good (and a possible Senate run), but didn’t the Church commission give us the very Senate intelligence committee that was so adeptly played by Bush Inc.?

@Nabisco:

Senate Intelligence is an obvious oxymoron.

@Original Andrew: I don’t want to be spanging for change in the middle of Van Ness Ave. when Mr. SFL loses his state job.

@Nabisco: I do my very best to turn on the tube at 4:59:55 Pacific, the better to avoid all but the last few words of Tweety’s handoff. But I saw Sleestak on Keef or Rachel a week or two back, and all I heard were canned talking points.

That said, I’m not a Penn voter.

On the other hand, Senator Sheldon put out for Keef last night. In particular, I liked his answer whether there was enough on the record to nail Cheney for torturing to gin up “evidence” for the Iraq war: “Not yet.”

@Original Andrew:

Kind of a “Blade Runner” vibe up there in about ten years, I reckon….

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket, OA: The Terminator: Salvation cast and crew were all jazzed on the G4 network special today about how New Mexico had a perfect post-apocalyptic vibe for shooting the movie here last summer.

Anyone see the preview with that giant Terminator attacking the gas station? We saw that set on the way to the Mayhem hard rock/punk/metal fest last summer. That bridge above the Rio Grande where the Hunter/Killer attacks a truck? Real close to the ancestral home. The night Water Terminator shot? That’s over by Cochiti Lake, where we go fishing and swimming in the summer and where the wind surfers hang out. A former grocery store near my office was turned into a soundstage for the summer.

Also: SJP spotted drankin a margarita downtown last week. She’s here for the movie she’s doing with Hugh Grant.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

We’ve def got the weather-of-impending-doom for it.

@redmanlaw:

Looks like the feel-good hit of the Summer!

@redmanlaw:

But srsly, I luuuv going to filming locations. My fave thing I did when I was last in Hell-LAy was going to Buffy’s house in Torrance. Her high school, which was also the high school in 90210: Classic Formula, is only like two blocks away. I felt famous.

@JNOV: The fucking photos are for tomorrow night.

@redmanlaw: Wait, did I overlook something in that batch you sent?

I am going to take the unpopular side in an argument again, God help me. Releasing the photos is not a moral imperative, to my way of seeing it. Prosecuting those responsible for what happened in the photos is, certainly, but public release of the photos? Why is that a moral imperative? In law, for the last forever, there has been a rule that some evidence has more tendency to inflame than to inform, and should be kept from the jury. And is there no thought of the personal dignity of the victims in those photos? Must the world have to see them in their pain and humiliation? Is that an absolute necessity, is it really on the same level as the moral neccessity of prosecution of the perpetrators?

Now I also must say I am not committed to this side of the argument. Colin Powell’s COS wrote just a couple of days ago, that he has heard from sources in the intell community, that after the first release of the Abu Graib photos, the US essentially stopped torturing, the release of the photos awakened the people doing the torture to the fact that they faced prosecution, and stopped. I think they probably just settled for rendition to countries where our proxies would do the torturing, they were no longer willing to accept the risk of prosecution themselves.

But then again, on the other hand, again, was that necessarily good? I am certain the torture handed out by those nations was far worse, those people would probably have been better off in Gitmo.

Its very complicated to me, and not a slam dunk decision on either side.

The really great information in that article was that he said that after we had conquered Iraq, Cheney was personally ordering torture for the sole purpose of getting some poor shit to confess to a link between Saddam and Al Queada, in other words, for the sole purpose of validating the administration’s false reason for invading Iraq, in other words, for purely political purposes.

But on another other hand, if you want the photos released solely because you want people to be morally outraged by them, and thus strengthen the case for prosecution, is that also not a purely political reason?

The release of the initial batch of Abu Graib photos created moral outrage, but the only result was the scapegoating of some poor hillbilly’s caught up in an evil situation not of their making.

Its complicated, is all I am saying.

Obama does appear to be trying to rehabilitate the moral authority of the US in world affairs. Can it not be a defendable position to think that releasing inflammatory material like this, at a critical point where our moral authority is so weak and he is trying to rehabilitate it, would not be wise, even if he is committed to outing the truth in due course?

@Nabisco: The Tom Yum, Korean version of Ramen is one of the wonders of the world, the greatest culinary delight available for $1.00. Whats the brand name, Shim Ranyun?

Here is a serious question, ya’ll. My deli is gonna be pretty upscale and pricey. Its an expensive resort area and I have to pay the rent for a year from the revenue from a 3 month season.

But you know how all the fast food chains are showcasing cheap, “extra value” items? That Shin Ramyun Tom Yum, you throw a shredded shiitake mushroom, a chiffonaded scallion, some tofu, and some shrimp in it, and you have a delightful, full meal I could sell for maybe $3.50. Is this something worth doing?

@nojo: Sheldon was awesome the other night; I pointed out to Ma Nabisco that RI chose well when they drew their newest blue blood Senator. Sleestak on the other hand would best serve the nation by remaining a moderately effective Dem rep in a still-Rethuglican district of Pennsy rather than flaming out statewide against Arlen.

@Promnight: My (tortured)* position, but far better said. Thank you counselor.

*I never avoid the cheap joke. Mil disculpas.

@Promnight: Dude, you’ll sell a ton of it.

Several years ago, I drew up a design for a mirror frame for a furniture maker friend to build for our buddy’s wedding. The design went on to be a huge seller as the anchor for his more affordable line and got me a couple of special bro discounts on some stuff, including the Spanish colonial dining room set we’re all sitting at (family time with lap tops, home work and editing memos).

@Nabisco: I’m still tickled by Swine Flew.

@Promnight: Ooo yes of course! Like all the awesome Pho places around here, people will flock to cheap delicious noodles and broth! Even more so in winter!

@Promnight & Nabisco:

The hot prob with that position is the Barry & Congress & fucking everyone at the (Obstruction of) Justice Dept are NOT trying to do the right thing, it’s the opposite. They’re trying to sweep it all under the rug, and let the torturers get off scot-free.

And if you’ve seen the polls, it’s clear that large segments of American society, close to a majority, are in favor of torture and want more. Barry’s actions are strengthening the idea that the US can torture anyone it wants, that it’s not really torture if some random lawyer “empties the law of all meaning” and says it’s not, that the victim deserved it, etc.

We all know that the Republican Party has transformed over the last decade from mere right-wing assholes to psychopathic lunatics. The torture chambers will be running 24/7 during the next Republican presidency.

Is that really the direction you want our society to go?

It’s inevitable unless it’s stopped now, and our nation has to be shamed into doing the right thing since it’ll never happen in due course.

@drinkyclown:

It really is a phenomenon here in Sea-town. Opening a Pho place, a teriyaki joint and/or a nail salon is just a license to print money. Every commercial block here contains one or more of those three biznisses, and they NEVER go under!

Sometimes I fantasize about opening a teriyaki restaurant called “You’ll Die Without Teriyaki!” then laughing maniacally as my million$$$ roll in!

@Original Andrew: Oh if only you could combine the cheap eats with the nail salons, you’d have to have someone to feed you as you get your nails done, taking customer service to a whole new level!

@Promnight: Its complicated, is all I am saying.

Respectfully disagree. It’s obfuscated.

Look at just one of your examples: The original photos stopped torture at Abu Ghraib, so we renditioned folks to places where much worse would happen, hence opposition to torture brought unintended consequences.

I don’t think you want to imply that we’re cool with rendition. Nor do I think you want to imply that we’re responsible for the actions of evil people if we prevent them from one form of criminal behavior. That would be saying we have to choose between torture and rendition.

Complications like that we don’t need.

To take another example:

if you want the photos released solely because you want people to be morally outraged by them, and thus strengthen the case for prosecution, is that also not a purely political reason?

It’s now a political position to call for justice? Do you really want to say that? Because to me, following OA, that shows just how much the Republicans have corrupted our values as a nation. This issue shouldn’t even be on the table.

But your first clause brings up a more subtle point. Do I want the photos released just so folks will get sufficiently pissed off to do something about it? No. And here we need to consider other photos I could have posted here:

Lynchings. Concentration camps at the moment of liberation. My Lai. The Viet Cong getting his head shot off. The little girl running away from a napalm attack. Military caskets being offloaded in Germany. New Orleans.

Look how quickly the “crucifixion” torture photo became iconic. It expressed a direct truth words can’t convey. It compelled action, not because people were pissed as such, but in the face of such evil you either have to act, or lose a bit of your soul. This is a “debate” because people are able to ignore or dismiss the truth of what happened.

And that includes Obama. Check out that JFK link — Jack was meeting with some ADA folks the day the photo here appeared on the front page of the New York Times, and he was squirming under the pressure he was under to do something about it. He was pissed — not at the photo, not at the behavior of the Birmingham police, but at the Times for printing it. He would have preferred to ignore the matter.

Which, in turn, is what makes LBJ the most tragic president of the last century: He preferred to address it. If not for Vietnam, we’d be remembering LBJ for his greatness, not his faults.

So no, it’s not complicated at all. Unless we make it so.

Other things we’re ignoring: statistics of civilian dead in Iraq, and increasingly in Afghanistan. We’re destroying whole countries in order to save them.

At long last, have we left no sense of decency? Apparently not.

i’m with nojo on this. not complicated. we have to remember though, that just because the IQ of the oval office just got a huge bump, barry is still a very skilled politician, and i don’t mean that as a compliment.
prommie, you say,
“But on another other hand, if you want the photos released solely because you want people to be morally outraged….”
YES! i want people to be morally outraged! knowledge! truth! a call to action, whatever form that takes. from marching on deecee or muttering into your cocoa tribbles. release the photos! deal with it barry! you wanted the job, knowing a big part of it was clean up.

The analogy I keep wanting to make is a bandage that hasn’t been well maintained and has gotten all gross and stuck to an injury. It’s sitting there getting grosser and infected and you know you’re going to have to eventually take the bandage off but you’re dreading it because it’s going to hurt like hell. Eventually you have to face it and it’s better to rip the motherfucker off as quickly as possible and clean the wound and air it out in sunshine and fresh air than to spend hour upon hour lifting up a corner of the bandage and trying to ease it slowly off.

rip off the motherfucking lid. release the photos.

ADD: @nojo: I totally agree with you w/r/t to LBJ – such an interesting, complicated, and brilliant president. Reading Caro’s books is like reading Shakespeare.

@SanFranLefty: I made an analogy this week in a meeting on fire suppression funding that compared proposed rata reimbursements for fire fighter’s worker’s compensation coverage with pro rata reimbursements for Nomex fire fighting gear.

/crickets

Well, it was brilliant in its context and we kicked some government ass on that point. Guess you had to be there.

Caro’s “Master of the Senate” is on my Fifteen Books list, btw.

I want to make an analogy about forests and trees. If McCain had won the election, we were all ready to emigrate. Now we beat our breasts at having achieved, in less than 4 months, only a 75% rollback of the Republican evil, and not 110%.

@redmanlaw: So, the better the gear, the lower the burden on worker’s comp claims?

Makes sense. And if Lennon was Satan, God was into irony; dude equipped NY’s finest with bullet proof vests to show his love for the city, then got shot in the back on the street.

@Prommie: Hmmm. To me it’s not about percentages of good, relative good, the fear of the parade of horribles that we’re trying to avoid. It’s about doing what’s right. The people and the world need to see what we did. We need to accept responsibility and at least attempt to ensure we never torture again.

When Nazi concentration camps were liberated, the neighboring Germans were made to tour the camps so they could see what was happening down the street. Did they turn a blind eye to the Holocaust? Were they totally clueless? Who knows. But they needed to see the mass murder, torture, starvation, suffering to get an idea of what their gov’t was doing.

There’s a movie about the Holocaust, can’t remember the name, that includes military footage taken at the time the camps were liberated. It’s the saddest movie I’ve ever seen. My professor said that whenever he shows that movie, he feels like apologizing to the class because many of us were crying. But he said we needed to see the footage to really understand.

We need to see these photos. One of the ways we learn is through sight, and we need to learn from this. People need to be punished. People need to know the truth.

@Nabisco: The Bureau of Indian Affairs wanted to reimburse my tribal client for wild land fire fighter worker’s comp policy costs only for days they were already deployed. I said that would be like reimbursing the tribe for Nomex fire retardant clothing only for the days they were out on a fire. We rolled ’em.

Also, gun pundits are forever carrying on about how the .38 special is a shit ass round that you couldn’t kill a crow with. “Tell that the John Lennon and Selena,” I tell them.

@redmanlaw: “It’s the Saturday night special, got a barrel that’s blue and cold, ain’t good for nothin’, but put a man six feet in a hole…”

@mellbell: Hmm. Somehow I figured you as more of an Allman Bros. gal. Who knew?

@mellbell: I have been having this strange run of Skynyrd things turning up in my life. I will quote a Skynyrd lyric, my mind is always running a constant stream of fragments of everything I have ever read or heard, so sometimes when I open my mouth, whatever is playing at the time will fall out, and then within minutes, I will hear Skynyrd on a PA system, or a car will drive by with “whats your name” blaring. Ever since that so called member of the group died a couple of weeks ago.

Its called, I believe, “Red Car Syndrome.” You can drive around for days never particularly noticing red cars, but then someone says the words “red car” and you start seeing them everywhere.

Back as early as the late 1970s, I was an earlier adopter of the ironic “Play Freebird” scream, whenever I was attending a live music performance, be it rock and roll or classical. I like to believe I created that one.

Now Molly Hatchett, thats hard core. And I have The Outlaws version of Ghost Riders on my Ipod.

@Prommie: What are the five words every musician hates to hear? “Play some Skynyrd, you faggots.”

@Prommie: I want to make an analogy about forests and trees.

And I want to point out that our complaints about Barry’s opportunistic centrism have been on the record since last summer. I was damn near ready to run the Pink Floyd/Hope mashup-graphic again.

We’re only holding him to a standard he set during the primaries. Dude brought out the latent idealists in us.

@nojo: “Opportunistic?” What, you think he wants to keep the photos secret and he is “opportunistically” using the barrage of Generals who just hit him, the last two weeks, begging him not to do it, and that he is opportunistically using the current situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is growing stronger and we are catching major shit, and opportunistically using the situation in Pakistan, in which the Taliban has frigging invaded a country with a nuclear arsenal, and he is just opportunistically happy he gets to use the excuse that the last thing he needs to do is give them Muslim extremists in Pakistan the push they just might need to embrace the Taliban and thus wind up arming the Taliban, and thus Al Queada, with nuclear weopons, and you are saying, from what I understand, that this situation, he is only using it as an excuse, because as a “centrist” he has an ideological, as opposed to practical, reason to want to keep them secret?

I don’t want to get you wrong here, but is that it, he is opportunistically grasping at straws in order to justify his personal preference that they remain hidden because as a centrist he just loves torture just like Dick Cheney?

That global concerns ragarding the public sentiment of muslims in a critical country at a critical time, these are just a smokescreen, and that he is just pretending, opportunistically, that its best to wait a little until things resolve over their, and to not fuck around with Pakistani public opinion at a time when it appears to be significantly shifting against the Taliban, using as his metric perhaps the consideration that although there may only be a small chance that the photos would so enrage muslims that it could tip the balance of support for the Taliban in Pakistan, nevertheless, the potential downside of doing so, which would be to put nukes in the hands of maniacal terrorist fundamentalist fanatics, weighed against some delay, and of course the political angst from the liberals in his party, makes it worthwhile to play it safe?

In other words, all these considerations that so many informed people believe are relevant considerations, these are all an opportunistic smokescreen, and the real reason he does not want to release the photos is because as a centrist, he hates justice? Or something?

I mean, lofty rhetoric about healing the puss-oozing wounds that torture has inflicted on our national soul is all very stirring, but, like, the world does seem to go on, and there is other stuff happening, too.

Shit, now you’re never gonna post my logo.

“The term “bloody shirt” can be traced back to the aftermath of the murder of the third Caliph, Uthman in 656 AD, when a bloody shirt and some hair alleged to be from his beard were used in what is widely regarded as a cynical ploy to gain support for revenge against opponents. It also appears in a scene in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Mark Antony waves Julius Caesar’s toga to stir up the emotions of his fellow Romans. This comes from Caesar’s historical funeral in 44 BC when Marc Antony showed the toga to the crowd during his funeral oration. In American history, it gained popularity with an apocryphal incident in which Benjamin Franklin Butler of Massachusetts, when making a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, allegedly held up the shirt of a carpetbagger whipped by the Ku Klux Klan[1]”

Wikipedia even has a whole entry on “waving the bloody shirt.”

@nojo: @Prommie:

Wait. a. minute. “Barry”? “Pakistan”?

All this time I thought we were talking about whether or not Trump would release more photos of Carrie Prejean!

*slaps forehead*

@Prommie: In other words, all these considerations that so many informed people believe are relevant considerations, these are all an opportunistic smokescreen

Politically opportunistic, and yes. I have no reason to accept his good faith on the subject, nor that of many others. The nation’s political class is not having an honest conversation.

Barry’s a sublime triangulator, and he sees no political benefit in pursuing justice in this matter. Soon as that 10 percent independent vote he’s squatting on changes its mind, he’ll come around.

@Prommie: I’m supposed to post it? When?

@JNOV: What you wrote here is exactly the reason that the photos need to be released: “When Nazi concentration camps were liberated, the neighboring Germans were made to tour the camps so they could see what was happening down the street.”

@nojo: Oh please, whenever you would wish, I just tossed it to you, I thought it would be too nudgy to ask.

@Prommie: Careful with your analogies. All three of your examples presume the “bloody shirt” is a fake or misleading.

@Nabisco: I like you, I see what you are doing there, trying to make peace and all.

@nojo: Well come on, to every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose. First you pass health care, and then you prosecute, after the glow is off anyway and you have nothing left to lose, I don’t care if he waits till the second term, if it lets him do more good on the whole.

@nojo: No, no, the bloody shirt is always supposed to be real. Its all about the use thats made of it. Its like, oh, pro-lifers showing big pictures of aborted fetuses to women entering clinics. Its the “truth,” I guess, but do the women need that particular form of the truth at that particular time?

@Dodgerblue: I’ve been the one harping about how the rest of the world might react if/when the pictures come out. I realize this has no bearing on our need as a nation to acknowledge our own barbarism. At the same time, what does it mean that one of the articles prominently displayed on the home page of Der Spiegel o line is a Top Ten list of torture practices and practitioners through the ages?

Note to self: avoid “staking” at all costs.

Boy, pragmatism sure gets my dander up, I stand on pragmatic principle. Did I really write all that shit up there? Sorry, I brought an assault rifle to a freindly nerf-sword fight.

@Prommie: Well come on, to every thing, there is a season, and a time to every purpose.

Yes, we’ll get around to DADT sooner or later. Trust us.

@Prommie: Now that’s an interesting comparison. Are you saying that we as a nation are equivalent to a woman entering a clinic?

@Prommie: Well here’s the thing, and my apologies for not rounding up some folks who are saying this better than me: Honesty is always the most pragmatic principle. I see no reason that pragmatism needs to be divorced from truth.

@Nabisco: Vlad the Impaler was all about that. The History Channel had a couple of guys create a CGI model of how staking would work for a recent show. They had a mechanical pear for insertion in the mouth, they said.

ADD: The “fucking photos” requested by JNOV might already be out.

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/05/15/leaked-torture-photos-published-in-2006-may-be-among-photographs-obama-administration-shielding/

@nojo: No, I am saying that the images are of no importance to the fundamental principles involved, except as an appeal to emotion.

We conduct state-sanctioned murder almost daily, I am as ashamed to be an american because of it as because of the torture. Where are the photos of the executions, why is it not televised?

Hey, ho, we’re just you and me and we just disagree. Just because I am right and you are wrong doesn’t mean I am better than you.

@Prommie: Personally, I think executions should be televised. Heck, they used to be occasion for picnics.

And in terms of fundamental principles: Everything should be on the record. We’re arguing photos here because they happen to be on the table, but they’re only part of the whole story. We’re not going to get prosecutions, and even a blue-ribbon panel will be compromised. Fine. Open the fucking archives, and we’ll sort it out.

@Prommie & @Nabisco:

Everyone already knows that we torture–we have Cheney and top Republicans going ga-ga on teevee telling everyone how great it is.

The Muslim world isn’t angry because of photographs, they’re pissed as hell–and rightly so–because we torture and invade their countries and kill their friends and families. Have you seen some of the photos from that most recent aerial bombing/mass murder we carried out in Afghanistan?

It’s all carefully sanitized by the US media, but the rest of the world sees that evil shit everyday.

@nojo: Well, there’s the both sides of everything thing again, you would think televising executions would make people understand the brutality and horror, but when they were held in public, they were an occasion for public celebration, basically; “Daddy, put me up on your shoulders so I can see the blood spurt.”

Yet another perspective I haven’t seen addressed: We’re the torturers. Our opinion doesn’t count. The people with the true right to have those photos published are the ones depicted in them.

@Prommie: you would think televising executions would make people understand the brutality

Hey, I’m 50, not 30. I lost that rosy glow a long time ago.

Fact is, a disconcerting percentage of Americans would applaud what the photos show. (Heck, a disconcerting percentage think God has a stake in beauty contests.) But if we’re going to be a brutal nation, at least let’s be honest about it.

@nojo: I had mentioned that they might rather not.

In any event, Dimplomacy, with a capital D, could be defined as knowing when not to tell the truth. Most importantly, one must never correct the lies another tells him or her self, unless willing to deal with the fallout.

Between the proudly, openly brutal one, and the one who is secretly brutal but at least pays lip service to peace, well, lip service is something, at least, at least it shows that they know they are wrong, and maybe someday they will make their actions match their words.

The measure of our civilization is that we’re much better at hiding brutality than we used to be.

@Prommie: I had mentioned that they might rather not.

Fair enough. Let’s ask them.

As if I love Obama, too; 40-something of my employer’s members were axed yesterday, by Chrysler, and today, we are tallying the dead among the GM dealerships.

It is Hopey who is driving this, his Auto Task Force of wet-behind-the-ears Ivy League MBA consultants has come up with the idea that a smaller dealership network is Good. Just like lowering taxes will increase government revenues. They say its about inefficiency, but thats bullshit, its about customer service, and the way you can cut costs by not providing any. The geniuses want to see the US manufacturers switch from their old customer service model, in which there is a dealership within 5 miles of you no matter where you are and any one of them will gladly perform warranty work, to a Best Buy model of customer service; “you’re on your own; if it breaks, mail it to Detriot.”

Remember when most airlines would honor any airlines tickets? You have to be at least my age.

@nojo: We are currently fighting two wars which are completely hidden from view, here at home.

@Prommie: There you go. I put $150 in Axelrod’s pocket; I bought my right to bitch.

@Dodgerblue: Now those are fitness instructors I could get behind.

@redmanlaw: God-in-Heaven that makes me sick. It also breaks my heart a little: this, from my beloved country.

@redmanlaw: That reminds me of my initial response to the “privacy” concerns: Blur the faces.

It also reminds me of one of Barry’s earlier rationales for releasing the memos: The shit’s out there already.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: That is so horrifying I don’t know what to say. I never, ever expected to see my country do this. This is what the “evil empire” du jour does, not us. Only I guess now they are us.
And I’m ashamed to admit I looked at the picture of the half-naked prisoner with “I am a rapeist” written on his thigh and thought, “Jesus H. Christ, they can’t even spell.” Yes, it’s hopeless–I’m going to hell.

@redmanlaw: Oh holy shit, those are horrifying. And we need to be forced to see what was done in our name, and in the name of freedom and justice and democracy. And Oil.

@Mistress Cynica: I love you darling. Because I started crying while looking at the photos but stopped for a second when I saw that photo and said “Fucking morons can’t spell” and then clicked back here and saw your comment.

@JNOV: @SanFranLefty: @Mistress Cynica:

I mean, what is going on in that foaming-at-the-mouth one? The mind reels, and my imagination…ugh, let’s not go there.

Before I saw those pictures I had a much more removed, wait-and-see attitude about this…but now, well, I gotta get involved in seeing justice done, somehow. I’m gonna start with a letter to the Black Eagle. He’ll never see it, but at maybe it will add weight what must be a huge pile of letters on the subject.

ADD: Is there a grass-roots group forming that anyone knows about? Something, anything other than just blogplaining?

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket: ACLU’s site on the case might be a good place to start. If you click on “Take Action” and follow to “National Security” there are various action letters to send to your Rep and DiFi and Boxer about this.

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

You can also call Barry, which may be more effective.

His number is (202) 456-1111.

AG Eric Holder can be reached at (202) 353-1555.

AND yes yes yes to the ACLU. Join today.

Those are fucking awful. I used to argue asylum status in other countries for people who described winding up looking like any of those guys. Well, except for the nekkid pyramids, we’re just the fucking greatest for thinking that shit up. They always wanted to show me scars, but we were prohibited from asking to see them.

Nothing good will come of these. But then nothing good went into these, either.

I remain, humbly, conflicted.

@Nabisco: Exactly. Are these guys going to get asylum in New Zealand or Switzerland as a result of what we did to them in the name of FREEDOM FRIES and US ‘MERIKA HOO-RAH!

The foamy mouth – he was most likely forced to eat something repulsive and was vomiting. Either that, or pepper spray/capiscium was sprayed in his mouth.

Glenn Greenwald has persuasive arguments about why these torture / rape / snuff pics need to be made public.

We can’t hold our government accountable for its atrocities if we don’t know the gory details. The shameful debate in this country about torture being a “policy difference”, about whether “it works”, and what Nancy P. knew when (though I’m not at all ready to excuse her limited and hamstrung complicity) is a horrific sideshow designed to pardon war criminals from facing whatever meager justice might still exist in our failing empire.

The fucking bastards who perverted our country into an overtly criminal regime of men and not laws, all of them, Democrat and Republican, need to face the tribunal.

I also look forward to the libtard rationalizations of Obama’s flip-flop on special military commissions because there are some scary folks that we want to keep locked up, but we just can’t take the chance that either of our existing civilian or military justice systems might refuse to render the preordained guilty verdict we require.

@Pedonator: Let’s drop this one in:

Moreover, isn’t it rather obvious that Obama’s decision to hide this evidence — certain to be a prominent news story in the Muslim world, and justifiably so — will itself inflame anti-American sentiment?

Not being myself an expert on Muslim public opinion, I’ll let the better-informed weigh in.

@Nabisco: Connect the dots. Look at Barry’s pattern on all the interlocking issues, from FISA through Bagram through Military Tribunals redux. Look at his Bushian chanting of “looking forward.” Look at that manifest crap Panetta put out Friday. The bad faith is not that he refuses to pursue the course I’d prefer, it’s that he refuses to address the issue.

I can disagree with you, I can disagree with Prommie, because you both engage the questions. But Barry’s throwing some Bush-quality bullshit out there, which gives me no reason to trust his motives. And in the process, he’s leaving a gaping hole for those “policy disagreements” to slip through.

How? By signing an executive order, and leaving it at that. That’s precisely what a policy difference is. If he does nothing else — if he fails to pursue justice — he’s letting torture stand as a reasonable policy he happens to disagree with.

Again, it’s not just the photos — they just happen to be the point of discussion at the moment. It’s his behavior as a whole. And it ain’t pretty.

@Pedonator: Actually, my greatest fear has been that the issue would command attention for a week, then go away when the next shiny object distracted everyone — like the swine flu was poised to do.

But whatever Nancy’s passing role in this — and considering that the Dems have been running Congress for a couple of years now, I’m not inclined to cut her much slack — the Republicans have done us a favor by dragging her into this. Not because she may or may not be complicit. And not because by their twisted logic maybe torture was a bad thing after all. But merely because it keeps everyone chattering about it.

Barry wants the whole issue to go away — he’s been clear on that all along. Equally clear has been that without significant public pressure, he won’t be compelled to move on it. I don’t know what the tipping point is, but it won’t be reached without incessant yammering.

Meanwhile, a detail has been emerging that’s been there all along, but didn’t really come into focus until Friday: Barry’s got the CIA’s back. That’s what’s really behind his switch on the photos, but he’s trying to sell it as concern for rioting in countries where we’re shooting the natives. And that’s the bad faith.

What brought that detail into clear focus was Panetta’s response to Pelosi: Shut up, bitch. Consider how extraordinary his statement was. He wasn’t running the CIA in 2003. He has no direct experience to contradict her claim that she wasn’t briefed on the torture details. He wasn’t there. She was. Yet he accepts a dodgy CIA briefing memo over her word. (At least one other CIA briefing memo from that time has been conclusively attacked, and at least one other senator has backed her account.)

In short: Panetta’s response is as silly as Boehner’s.

Only we’re talking about Nancy Pelosi here, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, third in line to the presidency. And the Obama Administration just very publicly called her a liar.

That should keep things lively for another few days. And soon enough, we’ll have the OLC whitewash to bitch about.

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