Thursday, August 23, 2012

American "justice"

Behold the severe punishment and shame that befalls elite American political figures after they participate in a torture regime and a fraudulently sold war resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands.

Perhaps it's not quite as groundbreaking as being the country's first female national security adviser or first female African-American secretary of state, but Condoleezza Rice broke another barrier Monday with a golf club.

The formerly men-only Augusta National Golf Club -- a golfing mecca├»»¿ where the annual Masters Tournament has been played in Georgia since 1934 -- announced that Rice and Darla Moore, a female pioneer in banking, would be the first women admitted to its exclusive membership of about 300 captains of industry and government.

A year after telling Golf Digest that she didn't feel Augusta had an obligation to admit women, Rice, 57, now a Stanford business professor and a Hoover Institution senior fellow, said in a statement Monday that she looks forward "to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity."
Obviously, future torturers and war criminals will be discouraged from their actions by the severe plight of figures like Rice.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Paul Ryan

"His entire life, and the history of his entire family, makes a lie out of everything the man has said in his political career, and a sham out of every policy position he purports to hold." - Charles Pierce

Quote of the day

"The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt." - Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quote of the day

"The American Right has an amazing ability to lionize leaders whose lives are the precise antithesis of the political values that define their image." - Glenn Greenwald, commenting on Paul Ryan

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Excerpt of the day

From The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

On Hunter Thompson

From Matt Taibbi's 40th anniversary tribute to Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

Both now and in Thompson’s day, most of the press figures we lionize as great pundits and commentators seem to think it’s proper to mute our expectations for public figures. We’re constantly told that politicians should be given credit for being “realistic” (in the mouths of people like David Brooks, “realistic” is really code for “being willing to sell out your constituents in order to get elected”) and that demanding “purity” from our leaders is somehow immature (Hillary had to vote for the Iraq war; otherwise she would have ruined her presidential chances!).

To me, the reason so many pundits and politicians take this stance is because the alternative is so painful: If you cling to hope and belief, the distance between the ideal and the corrupt reality is so great, it’s just too much for most normal people to handle. So they make peace with the lie, rather than drive themselves crazy worrying about how insanely horrible and ridiculous things really are.

But Thompson never made that calculation. He never stooped to trying to sell us on stupidities about “electability” and “realism,” or the pitfalls of “purity.” Instead, he stared right into the flaming-hot sun of shameless lies and cynical horseshit that is our politics, and he described exactly what he saw—probably at serious cost to his own mental health, but the benefit to us was Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Quote of the day

"[W]e cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." - Edward R. Murrow, See It Now (March 9, 1954 broadcast)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

On presidential killing of citizens

From Steve Coll at The New Yorker's Daily Comment blog

With those words [of determination to assassinate US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki] attributed to Obama, Klaidman has reported what would appear to be the first instance in American history of a sitting President speaking of his intent to kill a particular U.S. citizen without that citizen having been charged formally with a crime or convicted at trial.

The due-process clause of the Fifth Amendment prohibits “any person” from being deprived of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Obama authorized the termination of Awlaki’s life after he concluded that the boastful, mass-murder-plotting cleric had, in effect, forfeited constitutional protection by waging war against the United States and actively planning to kill Americans. Obama also believed that the Administration’s secret process establishing Awlaki’s guilt provided adequate safeguards against mistake or abuse—all in all, enough “due process of law” to take his life.

Awlaki was certainly a murderous character; his YouTube videos alone would likely convict him at a jury trial. Yet the case of Awlaki’s killing by drone strike is to the due-process clause what the proposed march of neo-Nazis through a community that included many Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois, was to the First Amendment when that case arose, in 1977. It is an instance where the most onerous facts imaginable should lead to the durable affirmation of constitutional principle, as Skokie did. Instead, President Obama and his advisers have opened the door to violent action against American citizens by future Presidents when the facts may be much less compelling.