23 December 2005

If only...

CIA Chief Admits To Torture After Six-Hour Beating, Electrocution

December 21, 2005 | The Onion, issue 41•51

LANGLEY, VA—An internal CIA investigation into the possible use of illegal and inhumane interrogation techniques produced a confession from CIA director Porter Goss Monday, with the aid of waterboarding, food and light deprivation, and the application of wire hangers hooked to a car battery to the testicles. "I did it. We did it. We all did it. The president knew. The president did it. Please, God, please stop," said a voice identified as Goss' on recordings produced by CIA auditors. "Stop, please stop. I'm sorry. I won't do it again. The president won't do it again. Please let me die." Critics of the methods used to obtain the information continue to claim that torture is an ineffective means of obtaining intelligence, pointing out that Goss did not sound sorry.

22 December 2005

Fucking bandits...

In a year of record budget deficits and tax cuts for the rich, the United States Senate voted late last night to cut programs for - you guessed it - students, the poor, and the elderly. Way to fucking go, you bastards.

Federal program cuts

The spending-cut bills passed by the House on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday would scale back funding for a range of federal programs over the next five years. Savings would amount to about $40 billion. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law after the House agrees to small changes made by the Senate.

  • Program: Student loans
    • Total cuts: $22 billion
    • Major changes: Charge graduates higher repayment rates; scale back government subsidies for banks and other lenders; reduce government administrative expenses.
  • Program: Medicare
    • Total cuts: $6 billion
    • Major changes: Charge high-income beneficiaries more for their insurance for doctor visits; reduce payments to managed care providers.
  • Program: Medicaid
    • Total cuts: $5 billion
    • Major changes: Tighten rules against sheltering assets for determining Medicaid eligibility; allow states to reduce services and charge higher co-payments, particularly for recipients above the poverty line.
  • Program: Pensions
    • Total cuts: $4 billion
    • Major changes: Raise the fee charged by the government to guarantee private pensions.
  • Program: Child support
    • Total cuts: $2 billion
    • Major changes: Cut federal aid to states for enforcement of child-support payments by parents.

21 December 2005

It's official: we live in a police state...

More plagiarism From C. William Michael's 2002 book ''No Greater Threat: America After September 11 and the Rise of the National Security State'' (via Sean Gonsalves), here are the 12 most common characteristics of a national security state:

  1. Visible increase in uniformed security.
    Got that;
  2. Lack of accountability in law enforcement.
    George Tenet got a medal for his fine WMD work and ''Brownie'' was praised for doing "a heckuva job" in the Katrina aftermath;
  3. Reduced judiciary and executive treatment of suspects.
    Can you say ''detainee''?;
  4. Secrecy of ruling authority and momentum of threat.
    It's an open secret that this administration has taken official secrecy to a whole new level;
  5. Media in the service of the state.
    The Times held the eavesdropping story for a year, to say nothing of the WMD reporting of the major media in the run-up to the war;
  6. National resources devoted to security threat.
    The most recent budget passed in Congress speaks for itself;
  7. Patriotism moving to nationalism.
    Since 9-11, America was divided in two - between those who don't know the difference between patriotism and nationalism and those who are terrorist-sympathizing, blame-America-first traitors;
  8. Lack of critical response by religions.
    Name one prominent national church leader critical of the way U.S. power has been wielded. At this point, I'll settle for a religious leader who isn't telling their parishioners to vote Republican to stop abortion and gay rights or who isn't calling for the assassination of foreign leaders;
  9. Wartime mentality and permanent war economy.
    See any Bush speech;
  10. Targeted individuals and groups.
    Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, Cindy Sheehan and MoveOn.org come to mind;
  11. Direct attack on dissent.
    See previous comment;
  12. Increased surveillance of citizenry.
    Or as it's being called now, a ''special collection program.''

20 December 2005

New York New York big city of dreams...

Yo folks... I'm going to NYC for New Year's!! Most everybody likely to read this probably knows already, but I just can't brag on this enough. Denise was going to go to London for a couple weeks, but it just didn't work out economically, and at a certain point it just occurred to me... why should she give up a perfectly good NYC - SD round trip? We'd have just ended up at some random San Diego bar, so why not do something memorable?

Little did I know what I set in motion. I already knew that Hyatt employees get reduced rates at Hyatt hotels, but as it turns out they actually get free nights at Hyatt hotels... so we're staying for two nights at the fucking Grand Hyatt New York - for free. And it turns out my high school girlfriend is going out of town for New Year's Eve, so we get to stay at her cool-ass Chelsea flat that night. So it's clear that this trip was totally meant to happen.

Not going to go into too much personal detail here, just to be sensitive to my girl's privacy... other than to note that we celebrated six months from the day we met, and it kicked major ass, and she knows how incredible she is, so 'nuff said. Me, I want to shout it from the rooftops, but not everybody is as big an exhibitionist as I am, so what can you do.

I'll write later about the news confirming that the country of my birth is now publicly acknowledged by the Presdent to be a dictatorship - "I do what I want, and fuck you if you don't like it" - but right now I'm feeling happy and in no mood to rage in my usual fashion.

Watchi this space, though...

16 December 2005

"A stick in McCain's eye..."

Who the fuck are they kidding? The media is all spinning Bush's deal on the so-called torture ban as a defeat for the president, but doesn't the media read... the media? There was an article in the New York Times way back on Wednesday where it was reported that the new classified addendum to the Army Field Manual will permit all sorts of new "interrogation techniques" (torture) such as "stress positions" (torture) and "sensory deprivation and humiliation" (torture).

Since the McCain "deal" involves making the Army Field Manual the standard by which "torture" is judged, then it would seem that McCain got screwed and Bush wins. Again.


13 December 2005

Resting in peace...

The state killed Tookie Williams at 0h35 this morning. I don't know enough about the case to be sure how I feel about it. I am against the death penalty. I am against locking someone in a cage for the extent of their life with no purpose.

What I would like to see, instead of the "retributive" justice we have in this country, is a true system of restorative justice. Let Tookie spend his life working in the community of the people he killed. Let him be a spokesman against gang violence, against hate between blacks and Asians. Let him work his ass off for the rest of his life for the families of the people he killed.

I understand the human desire for retribution... if someone killed a person I love, I would want to kill them with my own hands. And I'm a pacifist! But having the desire for retribution doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it smart policy. And it doesn't do anything to save future victims of violence.

RIP Stanley Williams.

RIP Albert Owens.

RIP Yang Yen-i.

RIP Yang Tsai-Shai Chen.

RIP Yang Lin Yu-Chin.

08 December 2005

Rumsfeld smacked down in press conference...

Marine General Peter Pace actually had to confront Rumsfeld in public when the Secretary of Defense said that American troops weren't supposed to stop Iraqis from torturing people.

"Obviously," the murderous fascist said, "the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of." Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disagreed. "It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it."

Rumsfeld, his blood pressure probably peaking by now, snapped "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. It's to report it."Then, the General contradicted his boss a second time, in public. You gotta love the fucking Marines.

Albert Einstein said, "only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe."

07 December 2005

"A working-class hero is something to be..."

I just read that Thursday will be twenty-five years since John Lennon's murder. I remember that dark, cold morning: December 8, 1980... I was - what? 14 years old, wow.

I woke up and turned on WMMR, and they were playing only John Lennon and Beatles tunes. The DJ came on and told me the news, and I remember distinctly the feeling of my whole world crashing down. I had just started getting into old Beatles, mostly the pre-Beatlemania stuff, but it wasn't like I was a Beatles freak. However, the news just devastated me, as it obviously did people who were a lot older than me. When the DJ reported that he was killed, he used the word "assassinated," which was weird 'cause I thought they just said that about Presidents and Kings, not rock stars...

I was totally freaked out, and I went into the kitchen and asking my mom, "Did you hear?" It was only then that I started to cry. I pulled it together in time for school, and in my History of Rock class (yes, my high school did have that as an elective) this girl Lynn Gallo asked me if I cried. I told her no, of course... didn't want her to think I was a pussy. All I really remember about the rest of that day was that I was the only person who was at all affected. I felt kind of the same way on September 11 in Hawai'i, when it seemed like I was the only person walking around like something deep and profound had broken in the world.

I just soaked up all the Lennon stuff on the radio and TV. I taped all 8 or whatever hours of the Andy Peebles BBC Lennon interviews off the radio and played them over and over again, in bed with my huge old headphones plugged into my Panasonic tape recorder, listening to John and Yoko talking about world peace. I've always had it in my head that his murder was my "radicalising event" in the way that old hippies had the assassination of JFK. When I look back on it now, though, I'm struck by how much Lennon's philosophy affected the development of my outlook on the world. I definitely became a leftist that day... however, I hadn't realised until just now that I also became a Buddhist on that day, though I didn't act on it until much later.

I've changed so much - and yet really so little - in the quarter century that passed since then. I think what I mean is that I tried at different points in my life to be someone different - doing drugs in my teens, joining a commune in my 20s - only to come back to the essential core which is who I was way back then. At this late date in my life - nearing 40!!! - I feel more like that long-ago teenager than I have in all the intervening years. It seems really important to hold faith with that dumb idealistic kid.

06 December 2005

To Whom It May Concern
(with apologies to Adrian Mitchell)

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn't find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Up on Mount Soledad drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

You put your "interrogators" in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Iraq.

05 December 2005

All work and no play...

I am working my 12 hour shift right now. It's super intense in a certain sense, just being here for so damn long. On the other hand, it's Sunday night, it's quiet, and I'm not exhausted yet. On the one foot, though, there was this great yard party Celso had going for the Chargers-Raiders game, and it was a beautiful warm clear day and my baby was out of work by 3pm. On the other foot, I'm making good money. So it's a mixed bag.

I'm finally actually working on my Italian, as I had planned to do months ago. I'm just usually so mind-wasted that I can't do anything. I'm trying to really use my time better, and I think it is having a good effect. Just spacing out or reading tends to deaden the mind, while doing something actively that requires thought seems to keep the brain-fog down a bit.

I would be more depressed if there wasn't a light at the end of the tunnel; already Jeff, Dave, and - most importantly - Chris have told me that I will be coming off nights soon. Nobody can put a date on it but it is clear that they need me on days. It is going to be a revolution in my life to rejoin the human race, and I am really really hopeful that I can be back on days while Denise is on break. It's sort of amazing that our relationship hasn't been more stressed by our opposite schedules.

I really, really can't understand why the media lets the government get away with such obvious, patent untruths. They keep saying "we do not torture" but are fighting a law that makes it clear that torture is against the law (which it is already, even with so-called "enemy combatants"- under the Fourth Geneva Convention). They say that we're not flying people around to torture them, but that we need to fly people around to torture them because "we're at war" (we're not, actually). They lie and lie and lie, and have no shame because they know they can get away with it. I almost blame the media more - agree with them or not, at least the government has an agenda. What is the media's agenda, other than being butt-boys to power?

This is freaky but pretty cool... people fucking inside an MRI machine. I know it's a clinical and a little gross, but I've always been curious just where things go inside there. I paid attention in sex ed and all, but you know... seeing is believing.