Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron: A Remembrance

"Say not in grief that 'he is no more' but say in thankfulness that he was."

Gil Scott-Heron is dead.

I've always dreaded that I would have to write those words one day, but still, part of me has always expected it, nearly every day for the last ten years or so. No flame can burn as brightly as Gil's did, and expect to last too long. And it *has* been a long time, although I suspect that it's only going forward from these moments that we'll be able to appreciate how very special was the time that we had Gil with us.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead. A man whose words and music were some of the major influences in my life has now passed into eternity. As I write this memorial, I remember the first time I heard Gil, his song "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" making a cold New England night a little brighter for me, knowing that someone else understood some of the feelings inside me. I was unhappy, and hearing Gil's song lifted some of the darkness for me.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead, and I remember hearing "The Bottle" everywhere in New York City the summer of 1974, hearing it echoing out of club doorways, car windows and open storefronts. Not bad, I thought, for an album that was only released in three cities on the Eastern Seaboard. I spent that summer digging up all the older albums in his catalog, and connecting with other fans of his.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead: so when I first came to Minnesota that fall, I quickly discovered that I possessed one of only three copies of "Winter In America" on campus. "This," I said to myself, "has got to change." And so began a four-year-long campaign to bring his poetry and music to as many people out here on the Frozen Tundra as I could. I saturated my show on the campus radio station with his music. Even near the end, when it hurt, I was still able to say, and spin, "Peace Go With You, Brother."

Gil Scott-Heron is dead, and I can still see with my mind's eye the first time I met Gil, before his first set at the Bottom Line in Greenwich Village. I told him I wanted to bring him to Minnesota for his first concert here. "Minnesota?" he said. "It's cold there, ain't it?" We all laughed, but I persuaded him, and he gave me some phone numbers to call. I got to work on it the very next day, and, after similarly persuading many others, I brought him to Carleton College in February for Black History Month. The hall was packed to the rafters, and I was happy to see my efforts come to joyous fruition. Gil, Brian Jackson, and the Midnight Band played for over two hours. That night is still one of the high points of my life.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead. His music was never made for Top 40 radio, and those of us who were his devoted fans didn't care about that, didn't care that the only way we could hear his music was to search for and buy his albums, record them on fragile magnetic tape and share them amongst ourselves, and go to see him perform in concert. (The internet and advancing technology makes all of that seem so quaint now!) But the record company wanted to sell more GSH albums than we paltry few could buy, sell more concert seats than we alone could fill; and Gil himself had written "you're only as important to them as your latest hit." Did he not see or care what was coming? Or did he know, and cared and despaired at what was happening in our country and our world, as well as to his career? Did the pain from his clarity of vision create the despair, and made him look for an escape? Or did the escape overtake his vision, and the role he had assumed in our world? It must be hard to be a prophet with few listeners, a storyteller whose stories spoke with intelligence, passion, and insight, but one whose words fell on ears deafened by greed and selfishness.  

Gil Scott-Heron is dead!--I think it was his despair that ultimately killed him, knowing something of him, and sharing with him some of that vision and pain. Gil had written of and looked for the Revolution that he hoped would come. A revolution brought about, not through violence, but by the spirit, by awareness, by empowerment. His daughter and some of his band members have said Gil fell into despair in that decade as he looked at the greed-obsessed culture we'd become, and as his hopes for that revolution died. Because it was also in the Eighties that Gil began his long, drug-fueled, downward slide, becoming a sad character from one of his own songs. Gil had never been too prompt about starting his shows, and now he began to rival Sly Stone in the category of "Most Shows Missed Due to Drugs & Alcohol." He continued to tour, but his increasing unreliability made his appearances become scarcer and scarcer.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead, and although I think he started to clean himself up in the mid-Nineties, dropping "Spirits" in 1994, it wasn't to last. While the release of "Spirits" saw Gil proclaimed - rightfully -  as the "Godfather of Rap," it also included a heart- and gut-wrenching revamp of "Home Is Where The Hatred Is," retitled and performed in three parts as "The Other Side." While many hailed the album as a return of the words and songs of Gil, I could hear within "The Other Side" the thoughts and feelings of a man who's just popping his head above ground for a fast glance, making a quick look-see before resuming his downward descent. Gil subsequently had several drug convictions, contracted HIV, and spent time in prison on at least two different occasions. 

Gil Scott-Heron is dead, even as he made a triumphant comeback last year with "I'm New Here." He seemed more introspective than ever on this album, and he had become painfully thin, no doubt due to his continued drug use. Nonetheless, he seemed to burn with a fire within, an unspoken vow that he had more stories tell, more social and political observations to make And oh, how we missed his voice the last fifteen years! Perhaps, just perhaps, Gil could resume his role as our griot, and teach another generation.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead, and today I read all the obituaries and quotations from other musicians paying tribute to his influence and his genius. And I see that nearly every news source references "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and I know that they don't know a damn thing about him. They don't realize that he was more than just that one song-poem, that he had much more to say than that. I see his obit in the New York Times, and I wonder if Gil would have been pleasantly surprised, or would he have laughed upon seeing it. I see his fans come together on line to mourn together, and I think that some of Gil's revolution, at least, is happening.

Gil Scott-Heron is dead. But in even in death, as he did in life, Gil Scott-Heron makes us look at ourselves and the world we live in, and ask "Why?" and "How did this happen?" and "What can we each do to mend and rebuild our world as it should be?" As I seek my own answers to these questions, I remember that the answers can only happen one at a time. "Each one, teach one," Gil said. Because we only have each other, because so many have come before us to light the way, because, as Gil wrote, "of all of the places we've been." 

Gil Scott-Heron died today, but he lives on in each of us. 

My condolences to the Scott-Heron family.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ed Schultz and MSNBC: You've Got It All Wrong

Ed: There's no need to apologize to Laura Ingraham, except that you mischaracterized her. She's not a "right-wing slut;" sluts do it for free. Ingraham gets paid a handsome sum to spew hatred every day. She's a right-wing whore, not a slut.

MSNBC Management: You need to ask yourselves: are you a news organization, an opinion channel, or just a bunch of cowardly jackasses? Ed didn't need to, and shouldn't have had to offer to apologize to Ingraham, much less take some unpaid time off. The truth may hurt, but that's the way it goes. Every day, Laura Ingraham spews out such hatred and vile lies that it's a wonder she hasn't either been shot down in the streets like the dog she is, or just collapsed before the mike, foaming at the mouth. (She must get the same vaccine that Rush, Beck, Malkin, and others of their ilk receive.) Ingraham tells her vicious lies for a nice chunk of change, and gets nothing but support from her management. She is a whore, a vile, hate-filled, evil whore.

I'm damn sick and tired of hearing lies, insults, distortions, and other such utter bullshit flow from the mouths of right-wing talk show hosts every damn day, with nary an outcry from their management; but let a progressive tell the unvarnished truth about some of these wingnuts, and what happens?--they get suspended, they have to make humiliating apologies to their inferiors, and then they have to receive the opprobrium of the progressive blogosphere, too!

I've been surfing around the progressive blogosphere tonight while writing this piece, and the amount of anger and scorn directed at Ed is frankly amazing. You'd think he spit on Pres. Obama, the way some of my fellow liberals are talking! Granted, it was a poor choice of words for public discourse - and I still think he should have said "whore," not "slut" - but dammit people, grow a pair! Not everyone is as polite and soft-spoken and just fuckin' considerate as some of the people on the left. And you know what?--there's not a damn thing wrong with that! We need people willing to shout from the rooftops, as well as men and women who can argue in the ivory towers. We need people who are willing to shout back in the wingnuts' faces, people who can grab a sword as quickly and easily as they can pick up a pen. What's wrong with a little passion?

And you know, I've been trying to put Ed's words in perspective. I realize that "slut" is an offensive term to women, and I personally don't use it. But I've been substituting "nigger" for "slut" in my head, and I just can't get that upset. Maybe I'm a closet misogynist, or maybe I don't find "nigger" offensive enough. Maybe I'm considering the source. At any rate, if someone were foolish enough to call me that, I'd either laugh in their face, or fire back with something truly vile. Either way, I wouldn't let some stranger's words get to me that deeply.

OK, most of the time I wouldn' least, not while witnesses are present!

But I don't think Laura Ingraham, by her own words and deeds, deserves the consideration and defense that I'm seeing for her in the progressive blogosphere tonight, or, indeed, anywhere else on the intertubes. I don't think she deserves any defense at all, and the only offense I think Ed Schultz committed was offending some of his listeners. Ingraham doesn't deserve one damn bit of his courtesy, consideration, or respect.

I promise you this: I don't get paid for this blog, and if I ever were to receive as much as a freakin' dime for it, it would have to be with the stipulation that I can write whatever I damn well please. I will ALWAYS speak my mind, speak the truth as I see it, and damn the consequences.

Keep the faith, Ed, and keep on giving 'em hell!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hochul Wins NY-26...Listen Up, National Dems!

Kathy Hochul tonight became the first Democrat to be elected to Congress from New York's 26th District, as she won a decisive victory over her Republican opponent Jane Corwin:

Democrat Kathy Hochul lead 48-43 with over 83% of the votes counted and her victory looks to be a strong one -- the Associated Press called the race within an hour of the polls closing. Corwin underperformed in key GOP counties while Hochul's margins in Democratic areas were in line with the party's high water mark in the district from 2006, a wave year that swept the Republicans out of the majority in the House and Senate. The district is normally a safe seat for Republicans and has never elected a Democrat..

Hochul's message focused relentlessly on the Paul Ryan budget, which she highlighted in ads, public statements, and debates at every opportunity. Her attacks on its cuts to Medicare benefits and its tax cuts for the wealthy proved impossible for Corwin to overcome, who tried her best to defend the GOP budget cuts before eventually giving in and falsely accusing Hochul of seeking similar cuts while muddying her own position on the plan

National Dems, are you listening? This is the way we can win back the House and rack up larger margins in the Senate. As usual, the Repugs have overplayed their hand, this time with the Ryan budget. End Medicare? Are they kidding? Hochul's district has never elected a Democrat, but mention ending Medicare, and the older white voters who make up the majority of the Republican electorate will switch parties in a flash! And let's face it, who else do the Republicans have?

All that we need to do is emphasize that Democrats won't dismantle Medicare and Social Security, that Democrats are the party that supports the middle class, that Democrats are the true patriots who care about their fellow citizens (Eric Cantor, this means you!). We need to say it and mean it, and we need, as Kathy Hochul showed us, to say long and loudly just how the Republicans are sticking it to their fellow Americans.

Wake up, Dems,.it's time to fight.

It's Right In Front of Your Face

Here are two pictures that explain why NJ governor Chris Christie will never run against Barack Obama for the presidency. These same two photographs explain - in part, at least - why, if nominated, Christie would not win.

Now, picture this guy...

debating this guy:

'Nuff said.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gingrich HQ, Day 5: "Who Are You Going To Believe, Me Or Your Lying Eyes & Ears?"

Day 5 of the Gingrich presidential campaign, and it's beginning to look like a case of crib death for the former Speaker's chances. Today the Newt declared that if you see any report of him condemming the Paul Ryan Medicare-killing budget plan, don't believe what he said on Sunday, believe what he's saying right now!

Making the obligatory pilgrimage to the Throne of Rush Limbaugh, Newt claimed that he never mentioned Paul Ryan while talking about Paul Ryan's budget plan:

via TPM:
Gingrich to Limbaugh: "It's very straightforward. It's when the government comes in and tells you how to live your life and what you're gonna do -- whether the values that lead it to do that are left-wing values, or the values that lead it to do that are right-wing values," said Gingrich. "I believe in personal freedom. I believe in your right to lead your life. I believe that we are endowed by the Declaration of Independence, by our Creator, with the right to pursue happiness. And I want a government that is much more humble about its ability to tell you what to do, whether it's people on either side of the ideological spectrum.

"And by the way, it was not a reference to Paul Ryan. There was no reference to Paul Ryan in that answer."

To which Limbaugh asked: "Well then what did you apologize to him about?"

"Because it was interpreted in a way, which was causing trouble, which he doesn't need or deserve. And it was causing the House Republicans trouble," said Gingrich. "One of my closest friends, somebody I truly, deeply respect, e-mailed me and said 'Your answer hits every Republican who voted for the budget.'"

"Well, my answer wasn't about the budget. And I promptly went back and said publicly, and I continue to say, I would have voted for the Ryan budget. I think it's a very important step in the right direction, and I have consistently said that from the time that Paul first briefed me on it weeks before he introduced it. And I've been talking with Paul Ryan about budget matters for the last four years."

So why did he apologize to Ryan?  Uhhh...because he criticized Ryan's anti-Medicare plan?

Then later, Gingrich said Tuesday on Faux that "any (Democratic) ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood." Here's the clip, from Hardball:

As Bugs would say, "whatta maroon!"

IMF's Strauss-Khan Resigns

And it's "game over, man!" for embattled IMF executive director Dominique Strauss-Khan, as he tendered his resignation late tonight:

The Daily Beast:
Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned late Wednesday night as the head of the International Monetary Fund. Strauss-Kahn, who faces seven charges of sexual assault in New York after allegedly attacking a hotel maid, made a statement saying his resignation is with "infinite sadness," but he needed to devote "all my energy into proving my innocence."

The New York Times:
In issuing his resignation Wednesday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn said, "I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me."
News of the arrest produced an earthquake of shock, outrage, disbelief and embarrassment throughout France. 
Though Mr. Strauss-Kahn received generally high marks for his stewardship of the bank, his reputation was tarnished in 2008 by an affair with a Hungarian economist who was a subordinate there. The fund decided to stand by him despite concluding that he had shown poor judgment. He issued an apology to employees at the bank and his wife, Anne Sinclair, an American-born French journalist. 
Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s extramarital affairs have long been considered an open secret. But the legal charges against him - which include attempted rape, forced oral sex and an effort to sequester another person against her will - are of an entirely different magnitude, even in France and elsewhere in continental Europe.

Film and DNA tests at 11.

Life at Gingrich 2012 HQ, Right About Now....

Still gotta watch out for those sneaky Sunday morning alie.....errr, hosts, though!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life Imitates Art Politics?

The Number 2 story scandalizing the MSM this week is the case of Dominique Strauss-Khan, who right about now probably wishes that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered two out-of wedlock children. Strauss-Khan, or DSK, as he's already being referred to, is alleged to have sexually assaulted a Hotel Sofitel housekeeper in his $3,000-a-night suite. Allegations of additional attacks by DSK against a young journalist in France, and another hotel maid in Mexico, are now being brought forth by the women allegedly victimized by the perpetrator. I don't think that Strauss-Khan's nickname, the "Great Seducer," is going to help his case much, either.

Now, I don't know if Strauss-Khan is guilty or not in any of these cases, but I find the whole affair to be a sad reenactment of DSK's day job as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF has for decades raped Third World countries, forced them to perform self-mutilating acts of financial and monetary policy that primarily benefit First World countries and corporations.

Naomi Klein outlined all this in her brilliant book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which "makes a cogent argument that the Milton Friedman school of economics (which has characterized American and European global economic policy for years) thrives on national economies that are in a melt down or in the midst of crises, many of the latter created as a result of IMF and World Bank policies."

The Shock Doctrine is, in my opinion, one of the most important books written in the last thirty years. And after reading it, I couldn't help but see an eerie parallel between Strauss-Khan's personal acts and public life. The exploitation of a crisis, be it national or individual, to advance an agenda that helps the outsider - agency or individual - profit, seems to be a trademark of "The Great Seducer's" corporate and personal technique.

One might describe it as taking advantage of a poor, defenseless entity, be it a nation or a woman, for professional or personal gain. I almost feel sorry for Strauss-Khan's lawyers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Santorum Is Spreading Santorum (NSFW)

When I was in college, we used to have a standard reply whenever someone said something that was not, in any manner, factual, possible, or credible. Whenever someone uttered a bold, knowingly false, and/or salacious statement, the standard, de rigueur response was, "How did you fix your mouth to say some shit like that?"

Tonight I learned that one-term former senator Rick Santorum challenged Sen. John McCain's knowledge and understanding of torture. Repeating the wingnut lie that the torture technique known as waterboarding led U.S. intelligence and military services to the location and subsequent killing of Osama bin Laden, Santorum today stated that "he (McCain) doesn't understand torture."


Oh, yes he did! Speaking in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt talk radio show, Santorum said:
“Everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation,” Santorum said, referring to the courier that led Americans to Osama bin Laden. “And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative.”
Sen. McCain was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War for 5 1/2 years. McCain endured extreme physical and mental torture at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors in various prisons in that country, including the notorious Hanoi Hilton, and still suffers from physical disabilities caused by that torture to this day. Apparently, that's not good enough for Santorum.

Last week I applauded Sen. McCain's forthright and factual refutation of the "torture led us to bin Laden" lie on this blog. Although in recent years I have found little common ground with Sen. McCain in the political sphere, I respect and salute his service to our country. In his speech last week, Sen. McCain stated that after inquiring, he received a definite "NO" from CIA Director Leon Panetta on the torture question. In a letter to Sen. McCain, Panetta told McCain that torture was not used to obtain information leading to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

On the other hand, though, this lying weasel Santorum hasn't spent one day in the armed forces, lost his bid for a second term in the Senate in part thanks to his lies about his principal home of residence, espouses radical, far-right social engineering ideas such as teaching so-called "intelligent design" in public schools, retaining DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act. Santorum is perhaps best known for his "man on dog sex" argument against gay marriage...and Dan Savage's highly successful hijacking of his very name: Santorum. Meanwhile, even out of office, Santorum finds himself mired in the John Ensign scandal.

Santorum, how the hell did you fix your mouth to say some shit like that?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One Down, And About A Dozen To Go

The Huck decides against running for President in 2012:

Mike Huckabee formally bowed out of the presidential running on Saturday, announcing on his FOX News show that he had decided not to enter the race even as he believed he was a top-tier contender. 
"All the factors say go," he said, "but my heart says no."
That wasn't your heart talking to you, Mike, that was the asscheek nearest your wallet. Did you really think we'd believe that you were giving the idea serious consideration, given your "$500,000 salary from Fox, plus radio income and speaking fees". And don't think we've forgotten your lying, slanderous comments about the President, either.

Stay at Fox, Mike. We hear there's going to be an opening in the 5 PM Eastern Time slot soon, anyway.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not A Long Fall, At All...

I guess that, like an apple not falling far from the tree, a turd doesn't fall far from an asshole, either.

The Paul family today showed themselves to be the crazy, racist, out-of-touch, intellectually-challenged, clueless pieces of shit that I always knew they were. Both Paul pere et fil made asses of themselves in front of TV cameras today, exposing their true selves before the media and immortalizing their ignorance on digital video.

First, Ron Paul declared to Chris Matthews that he wouldn't have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it denied the rights of property owners:

Another Paul family political announcement, another battle on MSNBC over the landmark law that helped end segregation in America.

Just about a year after his son Rand Paul stepped in it when he told Rachel Maddow he was opposed to provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) told Chris Matthews Friday he wouldn't have voted for the law in the first place had he been in Congress at the time.

Rand's statements on the law (which he later retracted) came during his first week as the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky in 2010. Ron's criticisms of the law came on the day he declared his third run for the presidency.

"Yeah," he told Matthews when asked if he would have voted against the act in Congress. "But I wouldn't vote against getting rid of the Jim Crow laws."

Ron, like his son, said that his statement about the Civil Rights Act has nothing to do with the law's intentions -- i.e. ending institutionalized discrimination in a wide swath of American life, including in the public accommodations where African Americans were denied service at the height of the Jim Crow era. Paul said he would vote against the law because it imposed unfair rules on what private business owners can and can't do on their own property. Essentially, they should be free to discriminate if they wish, Paul says, however distasteful that may be.

Then, his newly-elected son, Sen. Rand Paul (Tea-TN) proclaimed that health care reform was akin to slavery:

Fortunately for us all, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) showed the younger Paul what an ass he is, a few minutes later:

I don't know which bothers me more: the fact that Rand Paul thinks that his arrogant, lying, overpaid ass would be no better off than a slave, after the adoption of health care reform; or, that his father Ron can openly say that he wouldn't have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and will still likely keep his seat in Congress.

Come to think of it, I don't like that EITHER of them has and will likely retain their positions in the federal government, their personal fortunes, their freedom, and their good health too, for that matter. I don't like that the only consequences these two are likely to face are a few more lucrative speaking engagements to other greedy, racist relics.

Ron Paul is a racist asshole; Rand Paul is all that, and a lying piece of shit, too. Fuck 'em both.

Credit Where Credit's Due

John McCain seems to have shaken off some of the Tea Party slime that he rolled in to get reelected. Yesterday, he gave a sharp rebuke to the torture fans amongst the members of the Bush administration:, correctly calling "enhanced interrogation" what it really is: ineffective, illegal, immoral torture.

Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques were not a factor in tracking down Osama bin Laden, a leading Republican senator insisted Thursday.

Sen. John McCain, who spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, also rejected the argument that any form of torture is critical to U.S. success in the fight against terrorism.

In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, the Arizona Republican said former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and others who supported those kind of measures were wrong to claim that waterboarding al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, provided information that led to bin Laden's compound in Pakistan.

McCain spoke with an unrivaled record on the issue. He's the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee who consistently challenged the Bush administration and Vice President Dick Cheney on the use of torture and a man who endured brutal treatment during the Vietnam War.

He said he asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and that the hunt for bin Laden did not begin with fresh information for Mohammed. In fact, the name of bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, came from a detainee held in another country.

"Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information," McCain said. He called on Mukasey and others to correct their misstatements.

This was a sterling example of leadership by Sen. McCain. For far too long (since the 2008 election, in fact), McCain has pandered to the lunatic fringe in his party, adopting increasingly far-fetched, conservative views on a range of issues. But, as the one man in the Senate who can speak authoritatively on the subject of torture, Sen. McCain's speech on the Senate floor was a welcome breath of fresh air. McCain knows firsthand how ineffective torture is, and reminded us in his speech that torture is not only against the law, but a danger to our troops everywhere, and a crime against the soul of our country.

Since before the Revolutionary War, the torture of prisoners has been specifically outlawed by the U.S. military. Torture is illegal under military regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ),  which is "the foundation of military law in the United States." The torture of  prisoners (or "detainees"...yeah, like Gitmo is a damn hotel!) is also illegal under American civilian law, as well as being illegal under international laws and treaties to which we are a signatory, a fact that somehow escaped the notice of the Bush administration chickenhawks. When President Obama resumed enforcement of the prohibitions against torture, I frankly cheered. Only blind, evil idiots like John Yoo (who conjured up the "legal" cover for the Bush administration's love of waterboarding and sleep deprivation as interrogation techniques), former BushCo Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a torture fan who McCain basically called a liar, and ex-VP and demon from hell Dick Cheney still insist that waterboarding and other coercive techniques reverse-engineered from the Navy's SERE course were effective.

It angers and disgusts me that there is even an argument in this country over the use of torture! For a nation that professes a belief in God with every other breath, we still somehow manage to have far too many fools who seem to base their opinions on important issues like this from what they've seen on TV and in the movies, rather than from a moral or ethical standpoint. America has too many gap-toothed idiots (in flesh and/or spirit) who, lacking any experience, insight, knowledge, or forethought - much less the capacity for such - form their opinions from an emotional basis, rather than from an intellectual, legal, or moral one. And torture doesn't work as an interrogation technique.

It strikes me that the people who support the use of torture as an interrogation technique have watched far too many episodes of "24." Osama bin Laden is dead, and we didn't have to nearly drown someone to find him. I'm happy to see that John McCain once again supports the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bipartisanship, Osama-style

(Events have caught up to me in recent weeks, but I'll be resuming regular posting this week.)

Despite his avowed hatred of all things American, it seems that Osama bin Laden didn't extend that disdain to American products:
Bin Laden Aides Bought Big Orders of Pepsi, Coke, Grocer Says 
The two polite Pakistanis who helped Osama bin Laden hide in the shadow of their country’s army bought bulk food orders, chose major brands and equally favored Pepsi and Coke, neighbors and a local shopkeeper said. 
Rashid and Akbar Khan owned the fortified residence where U.S. commandos killed bin Laden in an early morning raid yesterday, and did the daily shopping in the Pashtu-language accents of Waziristan, a region on the Afghan border, said grocer Anjum Qaisar, 27, who works 150 meters from the compound. Bin Laden’s men "never came by foot, they always drove a Pajero or a little Suzuki van, and they bought enough food for 10 people," Qaisar said in an interview. 
"I was curious about why they bought so much food, but I did not want to be rude by asking" such a personal question, Qaisar said. The Khans told neighbors they had fled a violent tribal feud in Waziristan to seek a calmer life in Abbottabad, an army headquarters town 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, Islamabad. 
As Qaisar and other neighbors traded stories of bin Laden’s household and the U.S. raid, Pakistani troops controlled access into Bilal Town, their neighborhood of new, walled villas interspersed with farm plots where bin Laden’s 1.5-acre compound was the biggest. Qaisar was one of few merchants who braved the checkpoints to open for business today. 
Bin Laden’s protectors "always bought the best brands -- Nestle milk, the good-quality soaps and shampoos," Qaisar said. "They always paid cash, never asked for credit." They purchased meat from a butcher nearby who stayed closed today, he said.

So bin Laden, as Jon Stewart pointed out last night, was living in the suburbs, quaffing cold Coke and Pepsi,  keeping his hair and beard nice and silky with Aveda products, and...what else, watching the Final Four on satellite tv? Meanwhile, the Bush administration told us that he was "living in a cave." Looks like he found a damn nice cave! But seriously, this was a 6-foot+ Arab man who needed dialysis several times a week. He wasn't in some cave, not unless it had electricity and running water!

I am SO glad that we have a smart president now, one with rare intelligence and guts, a man who proved once again that he is more than capable of answering that 03:00 call.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And Another Thing.....

Serious geopolitical commentary on the extermination of bin Laden later this evening. I just had to share this one:

Adios, Motherfucker!

Osama bin Laden killed by Navy SEALs.