October Week 1, 2006

Home Up October Week 2, 2006 October Week 3, 2006 October Week 4, 2006

Home Up January Week 1, 2006 February Week 1, 2006 March Week 1, 2006 April Week 1, 2006 May Week 1, 2006 June Week 1, 2006 July Week 1, 2006 August Week 1, 2006 September Week 1, 2006 October Week 1, 2006 November Week 1, 2006 December Week 1, 2006

Sunday  October 1 , 2006

History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.

-Thurgood Marshall, US Supreme Court Justice (1908-1993)

Another lazy Sunday... Breakfast at Cathy's Cafe, Tiger Woods, Seahawks Football... (Damn Chicago Bears are as good as their 4-0 record implies they are, poor Seahawks looked tired and confused... not a good precursor for the rest of the season.

Monday  October 2 , 2006

I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now… as I shall not pass this way again.”

Williams Penn

Grandma went to Spohane with Christy because she had an appointment with the cardiologist... Grandma is in for some big time stuff. In order of ascending magnitude:

  1. Medication changes

  2. Angiogram

  3. Stent (Maybe)

  4. Mitral Valve Replacement Surgery

 

Tuesday  October 3 , 2006

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

Off to Spokane again...

Autumn's finger is swollen again, we took her to the Clinic... no break, no displacement, no infection... just swelling.

Wednesday  October 4 , 2006

Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous.

William Proxmire, US senator, reformer (1915-2005)

Spokane again... Radiation, Lunch, Therapy and Home... Bed

Thursday  October 5 , 2006

When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.

C. P. Snow, scientist and writer (1905-1980)

Spokane, Radiation, , Lunch at Tomato Street... Christy likes it but today is the first time I have enjoyed the food there... there was nothing wrong with the other meals, they were just not to my taste. We went over to CCN (Cancer Care Northwest) and moved time for her appointment on the 17th.

They will start something called the 'follow up boost' where they focus the radiation on the scar area (about 10 1/2 inches long)... the treatment will start next Thursday and end 7 treatments later... Friday the 20th... 2 days shorter than we had expected.

Friday  October 6 , 2006

It's awfully hard to get a hog to butcher itself.

Senator Strom Thurmond (Explaining why Congress doesn't decrease spending.)

Monica has another shot at getting her tonsillectomy today... she almost blew it by drinking a glass of OJ at 0600... they postponed the surgery to 1300... that worked out well with Christy's radiation schedule.

All went well, it took four attempts by three people to get an IV in her but the deed is Done, she was remarkably stoic through the ordeal, ... The Doc came out and said, "Her tonsil's were HUGE!" but all is well... she slept most of the way home, she puked up her medicine but seems none the worse for wear.

I've been listening to the Page Scandal... damn. I have never heard so much tap dancing in my life... Deny Deny Deny... it's a Democratic plot! (Though ABC, who released the bombshell is Republican owned, and a Republican leaked the e-mails to the news) everyone is pointing fingers but no one is bothering to mention that Senators have too much power. The fact that that sleaze-ball can be prancing around Washington fulfilling his fantasies for over three years at taxpayer expense and everyone in the Senate has been either covering for the degenerate SOB or afraid to say or do anything. It's just disgusting... I wonder if ole Dennis Hassert regrets filing that report detailing Foley's exploits from Foley's aide three years ago ... I also wonder how many more of those slimy bastards are feeding at the trough.

 

Saturday  October 7 , 2006

"Bob Woodward's book State of Denial says the situation in Iraq is bad and it's going to get worse. Let's put it this way. The Bush summer home in Kennebunkport is standing today because George and Barbara never bought their son a chemistry set."

Argus Hamilton

Sick yesterday... sicker today... damn. I did get out a little, I went up to the power line and sighted in my 22, The rifle still shoots straight, I can empty a clip into a space the size of a quarter at 30 paces so I'm happy. My neighbors have been having some skunk problems and I want to be ready... The internet says there are lots of ways to get rid of them from coyote piss to mothballs but none of them work, one site recommends hiring a trapper to catch them but the only sure fire way I know of to get rid of skunks is to shoot 'em in the head.

Sunday  October 8 , 2006

No truth can make another truth untrue.
All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge.
Once you have seen the larger pattern,
You cannot go back to seeing the part as the whole

Ursula Le Guin

Very profound observation, and a sobering truth.

Still feeling punky... a headache even insinuated itself into my expanding list of symptoms... I watched some football... Depending on your affiliation, there were two good games... I always root for the teams playing the Cowboys and the Steelers... and

Home Up October Week 2, 2006 October Week 3, 2006 October Week 4, 2006

How Pakistan became an ally

Six Questions on the American “Gulag” for Historian Kate Brown

1. In 2005, Amnesty International charged that the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo makes the prison “the Gulag of our times.” After public outcry and a media attack, Amnesty retracted the charge. Is the metaphor appropriate?

Soviet arrests were designed to inspire terror. Some people were taken off the street. Others were surprised in their beds in late night roundups. In Soviet prisons, detainees were stripped, searched, and led into special rooms where they were told to face the wall and assume stress positions. Most people were rounded up with no real evidence and without prior investigation. Interrogators withheld food, water, medical assistance, communication with relatives, and sleep until detainees agreed to talk. The most resistant detainees were beaten while handcuffed or tied.

Granted such liberty in dealing with prisoners, some Soviet officers started to enjoy themselves. They made up games, forcing prisoners to dance, smearing glue on their heads, stripping them naked, pouring frigid water over them. Sometimes guards had too much fun and a prisoner died. Then prison-appointed doctors, who often participated in the interrogations, wrote up fictive autopsy reports. Declassified FBI and U.S. Army detailing abuses detainees in U.S. detention centers uncannily echo Soviet NKVD reports. They recount late-night roundups of civilians and describe prisoners held in chambers of extreme heat or cold, chained naked to the floor without food and water for days on end, defecating on themselves, beaten (some to death), forced to dance, to lick their shoes and body parts, to crawl around, and to bark like dogs. American doctors and psychiatrists helped devise methods of inflicting pain and fear to elicit confessions, and they signed false reports when detainees died in custody.

2. Didn't the Soviets lock up far greater numbers of people than are now being detained by the United States?

Indeed, American editorialists grounded their rejection of the Gulag metaphor in numbers. Soviet officials routed millions through the Gulag over several decades (3.7 million according to archival records). In the American case, we are talking about a mere 500 prisoners in Guantanamo, and roughly 30,000 in U.S. detention centers in Iraq. Human Rights Watch estimates that 50,000 people are currently held in domestic prisons without charges. It is undoubtedly true that the torture of tens of thousands is better than the torture of millions. But this defense becomes rather weak, not only if one believes in universal civil liberties and human rights, but also if one considers history. The methods of detention and interrogation used by investigators in Iraq and Cuba derive from CIA manuals issued in 1963 that assumed that the detainee would not be a Muslim extremist but a Soviet agent. The methods practiced and propagated during the Cold War have migrated to the “war on terror” so seamlessly that American soldiers photographed their human-rights violations and shared the photos with no idea they were incriminating themselves.

3. How does the American system compare with the Soviet in respect for due process and legal norms, and in terms of punishment and the treatment of prisoners?

Both Soviet and American laws banned torture of prisoners, guaranteed habeas corpus, and limited the range of punishments a prisoner could receive. In both countries, abuses occurred nonetheless—not in isolated instances, but in the “migration” of practices across great distances, which suggests systemic violations of the laws.

We know, in fact, about Soviet and American abuses in astonishing detail because government investigators went to prisons with notebook and camera and emerged appalled at what they saw. The purpose of those investigations, one would imagine, would be to expose illegal detention and torture in order to stop it. But despite the nearly annual Soviet investigations into abuses, the Gulag continued unhindered for nearly three decades. Despite FBI and Army investigations in Iraq and Cuba, the White House persists in justifying the use of secret CIA prisons in undisclosed foreign locations to sequester terrorist suspects without charge. Rather than exposing abuses in order to end them, official Soviet and American investigations served the purpose of placing the blame for institutionalized abuse on individuals—U.S. Army privates, Soviet prison guards, and NKVD security officers. Finding individuals to blame absolved the governments which had set up the conditions for torture. Scapegoating individuals also enabled Soviet and American ideologues to reiterate yet again their societies' commitment to justice and civil rights, despite all evidence to the contrary.

4. The Bush Administration is targeting non-citizens it accuses of being terrorists. Didn't the Soviets mostly imprison and abuse their own citizens? So isn't it true that, in the American case, the “gulag” is a response to a real or perceived national security threat, while the Soviets were simply seeking to crush dissent?

During the Cold War the idea arose that the Gulag was primarily an instrument of terror to crush dissent. But declassified Soviet documents do not bear this out. By far, most of the people who landed in the Gulag were there for garden-variety offenses: theft of property, assault, hooliganism, and white-collar crime. They were not influential intellectuals who posed a threat to the regime, but poor, uneducated, and culturally marginalized peasants who broke draconian laws in order to make a living. The search for terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan has also targeted the weak and vulnerable. United States Army officials admit that 90 percent of the civilians detained in Iraq were later released without charges. The dragnet in Afghanistan also seems to have netted civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The detention of people who turn out to be innocent bystanders gives a new definition to the phrase “non-combatants.”

5. Have American government officials been more willing to take responsibility for abuses than their Soviet counterparts?

Long after the abuses were made public, Vice President Dick Cheney denied any mistreatment of detainees at Guantánamo. He said that the detainees “have been well treated, treated humanely and decently,” adding, “Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment, but if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and released to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated.” With his bald-faced denial of torture, Cheney illustrated how Guantánamo shares aspects of the Gulag. His performance mimicked that of the famed Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, who several months after smiling broadly for a photo in front of the notorious Solovetsky Labor Camp, lied with sanctimony when refuting reports of Soviet camp abuses. In an article published in Pravda on March 5, 1931, Gorky wrote that “convict labor” was “a petty, foul slander” aimed at economically isolating and weakening the USSR. “The Soviet regime,” Gorky said, “does not employ convict labor even in prisons.”

When a state goes to the trouble of sanctioning the torture of civilians for purposes of political control, government officials do not willingly own up to these practices. And those who expose abuse are discredited as slanderers, and accused of “peddling lies” and ultimately of abetting the enemy.

6. Does the tolerance for abuses committed during the “war on terrorism” have any implications for the health of democracy at home?

The President's broad new powers in the signing statements that enable him to override Congress have corroded the American system of checks and balances. American law enforcement agencies can now wiretap American civilians and detain citizens and permanent residents without charges, and consequently without evidence. Last week the House passed legislation to build a 700-mile Israeli-style fence on the U.S.–Mexico border and to deploy there many of the surveillance technologies tested in Iraq. Perhaps the domestic installation of wartime technologies and military surveillance in civilian settings has become acceptable to us because we have become accustomed, as Soviet citizens did during the endless Stalinist purges, to open-ended wars—wars with no opening salvo and no concluding treaty. Whether or not one agrees that American detention centers and secret prisons are the “Gulag of our time,” the comparison deserves serious consideration. It might help us shine a torch into the dark corners of repression, where the totalitarian qualities of our own society lurk, before the scale of violence ascends to Gulag dimensions.

* * *

[More Washington Babylon]
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Welcome to Fascist America!

by Gene Callahan

 

My fellow Americans, it’s official now: We live in a fascist nation.

Now, the term "fascist" has been thrown around over the last fifty years in a loose way that has drained it of much of its meaning. If someone wanted to cut 5% off of a leftist professor's favourite welfare programme, the professor would call his opponent a "fascist." I’m not using the word like that. I mean honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, 1930s style fascism, featuring such old favourites as:

bulletSecret prisons – they’re back!
bulletTorture – we’re doing it.
bulletSpying on all citizens.
bulletArrests and indefinite imprisonment without trial.
bulletRampant militarism.
bulletSecret detention.
bulletEnforced disappearance.
bulletDenial and restriction of habeas corpus.
bulletProlonged incommunicado detention.
bulletUnfair trial procedures.

(This list was compiled partially based on the work of Amnesty International, available here.)

An absolutely mind-numbing response to complaints that our traditional legal system is being torn apart is the question, "So, you want to protect the rights of terrorists?"

Um, no, I want to protect the rights of non-terrorists who might be falsely accused of terrorism! That was sort of, you know, the whole idea of our legal system. I’m sure there was some neo-con around in the 1700s saying to Jefferson or Madison, "So, you want to protect the rights of murderers and robbers?" but luckily they ignored him.

We’ve now gotten to the point where Nazi Germany was, say, in 1934. Remember, at that time, if you had told a typical German what his government would do over the next ten years, he would have looked at you as a madman. After all, his land had been civilized for over a thousand years. His was the nation of Albertus Magnus, Gutenberg, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Bach, Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Fichte, Heisenberg, Reimann, Mann, Lessing, Herder, Handel, Dürer, Leibniz, Gauss, Helmholtz – he could have gone on, but you get the point. His nation could not possibly descend into barbarism! If you tried to tell him he was living in a police state, he would have pointed out that his government had used its vast new powers very judiciously, and only against a few trouble-makers. So far.

It is interesting, in gauging the direction we are heading, to look at the proclamations of "respectable" opinion writers who support this administration. For instance, we have people at a "libertarian" think tank proclaiming that Moslems are not entitled to full civil rights in the US. (Perhaps we need to make them wear something special on their clothing like, say, a yellow star, so we know just who they are, hey?) But "conservatives" provide even more stunning examples of purely fascist reasoning. For example, conservative demagogue Ann Coulter has called for the editor of The NY Times to face the firing squad for his part in publicizing this administration's abuses of power. Let’s look at a recent column by Douglas MacKinnon at TownHall.com.

MacKinnon considers all of those involved in revealing the sordid collection of secret programmes that have been launched by the Bush administration as "traitors" who have publicized these schemes "purely because they don’t like the policies of the new president." Well, he’s right in that "they don’t like the policies" that they consider unconstitutional violations of our rights. Far from "aiding the enemy," these revelations aided us, the American people, by letting us know what our government has in store for us.

Consider what the point of classifying these programmes was in the first place, and who they were being kept secret from. The jihadists no doubt already knew about the secret prisons – their friends are in them! They surely knew that the war in Iraq has been helping their recruiting – it’s their recruiting! ("Praise be to Allah, Abdul, I read in The NY Times that it is the Iraq War that is sending us these thousands of new recruits – who knew?") They no doubt suspect they may be wiretapped – what they didn’t know was that all the rest of us are, as well. No, not one of these leaks helps terrorists, nor was one of them classified to stop terrorists from finding them out. We were the ones who weren’t supposed to find out about them.

MacKinnon continues: "And if even one American lost his or her life because of a leak, then I would want that person to be executed for treason."

So anyone who reveals our fascist government policies is a traitor who can be executed! This is obviously an attempt to intimidate the opposition so that our police state can be expanded without the annoying work stoppages caused by public outcry when the latest bit of construction is revealed. And just how does MacKinnon propose to show that some American lost his life because a journalist revealed that the US government tortures people across the globe, rather than, say, because the policies he supports have inspired a million new jihadists? Secret trial, perhaps? Or why even bother with trials for filthy traitors?

Herr Goebbels – oops, I mean MacKinnon – writes, "Until we severely punish those who leak classified information, then the traitors among us will not only continue to flourish, but will grow more brazen with the secrets they reveal."

Yes, what we ought to be able to do, you know, is simply seize anyone who even mentions our government’s "secret" prisons, and, without a trial, throw them in a secret prison! This is the logical conclusion of this fascist’s article, after all, since those who talk about the American Gulag are pretty much terrorists themselves.

Folks, this is coming real soon, and, once it does, domestic opposition is pretty much over. One journalist – that will be about all it takes – will be seized as a "terrorist" and thrown in the Gulag. The government may release him, but then another will simply disappear in the night in Iraq or Afghanistan, and rumors will circulate that he is being kept in a cage somewhere and waterboarded. No journalist lacking heroic courage will any longer be willing to seriously protest government policy.

America is full of decent people, who could never believe their own government could become fascist. So were Germany and Italy in the 1920s. But they became fascist anyway. They passed laws suspending civil liberties, but the government promised the frightened populace that those laws would only be used against targets like "Communist terrorists." And, a little bit at a time, the target kept getting bigger and bigger, slowly enough that the people who weren’t paying close attention never detected it.

And, next thing you know, there were millions of people dead! So, it turns out, it would have been worth paying attention after all.

 
 
 
October 4, 2006

Gene Callahan [send him mail], the author of Economics for Real People, is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and a contributing columnist to LewRockwell.com. His first novel, PUCK, has just been published.

Copyright © 2006 Gene Callahan

Gene Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives

 

U.S. gets ‘Sovietized’

By ERIC MARGOLIS

In the late 1980s, I was the first western journalist allowed into the world’s most dreaded prison, Moscow’s sinister Lubyanka. Muscovites dared not even utter the name of KGB’s headquarters, calling it instead after a nearby toy store, “Detsky Mir.”

I still shudder recalling Lubyanka’s underground cells, grim interrogation rooms, and execution cellars where tens of thousands were tortured and shot. I sat at the desk from which the monsters who ran Cheka (Soviet secret police) — Dzerzhinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria — ordered 30 million victims to their deaths.

Prisoners taken in the dead of night to Lubyanka were systematically beaten for days with rubber hoses and clubs. There were special cold rooms where prisoners could be frozen to near death. Sleep deprivation was a favourite and most effective Cheka technique. So was near-drowning in water fouled with urine and feces.

I recall these past horrors because of what this column has long called the gradual “Sovietization” of the United States. This shameful week, it became clear Canada is also afflicted.

We have seen America’s president and vice president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin.

The White House insisted that anyone — including Americans — could be kidnapped and tried in camera using “evidence” obtained by torturing other suspects. Bush & Co. deny the U.S. uses torture but reject the basic law of habeaus corpus and U.S. laws against the evil practice. The UN says Bush’s plans violate international law and the Geneva Conventions.

This week’s tentative agreement between Bush and Congress may somewhat limit torture, but exempts U.S. officials from having to observe the Geneva Convention.

Canadians had a shocking view of similar creeping totalitarianism as the full horror of Maher Arar’s persecution was revealed. Thanks to false information from the RCMP, the U.S. arrested a Canadian citizen and sent him to Syria. Arab states and Pakistan were being used by the Bush administration for outsourced torture. Syria denies the charges.

Suspects were kidnapped by the U.S., often on the basis of faulty information or lies, then sent to Arab states to be tortured until they confessed. The apparent objective of this “rendition” program? To find a few kernels of useful information. The Cheka and East Germany’s Stasi used the same practice.

I never thought I’d see the United States — champion of human rights and rule of law — legislating torture and Soviet-style kangaroo tribunals. I never thought I’d see Congress and a majority of Americans supporting such police state measures. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln must be turning in their graves.

To me, Canada has always been a haven of moderation, decency, and rule of law — until the Maher Arar affair shockingly showed this country could also quickly fall into police state behaviour.

Arar’s despicable treatment by Canada and the U.S. was the result of a U.S. witch hunt, plus anti-Muslim racism, stupidity, bureaucratic cowardice and incompetence.

We saw Ottawa aiding the outrageous persecution of its citizens, and the U.S. shamefully refusing to aid the Arar inquiry.

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who authorized Arar’s arrest, should face justice for this and many other malfeasances. The current U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, who denied the Bush administration was responsible for Arar’s abduction and torture, should be ashamed.

Canada must demand a thorough U.S. investigation, apology, and guarantee Canadians will never again become victims of such state-run criminal activity. It’s time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to advise his new best friends in Washington that Canada is not a banana republic.

Officials directly involved in the most sordid, disgraceful case in Canada’s modern history, must face justice. They are as much guilty as the torturers who beat Maher Arar mercilessly for 10 months.