Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Fought the Law, and the Law Yawned

It appears that perhaps, our long national nightmare of accountability has finally come to an end.

The Conservative will tell you it's all about taking personal responsibility. 

Unless, of course, you're talking actual jail time.

Then, it's about partisan witch-hunts. Heck, even a few democrats are acting  this way about it. Like the President.

Sort of.

I mean mixed messages, folks. Obama has released a bunch of memos detailing the opinions of the various lawyers who decided whether or not waterboarding and other little fun pastimes could be considered torture, and whether or not the Geneva Conventions should be obeyed or ignored, depending on the individual you were dealing with. But "let's not prosecute?" Why tell us they've broken the law, and then tell us we won't go after them?

The Repugs have come up with their own twisted version of accountability - they're saying that if we can declassify these secret documents, then we can also declassify the documents proving exactly which potential terrorist horrors all of our horrors have prevented. Which will come back to bite them, I think. What if there weren't any incidents prevented? What if all we have to show for all this stupid, self-righteous behavior is a great deal of international legal egg on our faces?

And all of this "all in the past" nonsense: fine. I will consult a lawyer who will come up with some sort of (pardon the pun) tortured legal finding that says robbing banks is OK. I will rob a bank based on this. I will admit it publicly. Then I can use the (admittedly inaccurate, or probably illegal) opinion my lawyer has come up with, and the local DA will look at it and go, well, it all happened in the past, so we shouldn't bother with this? I kind of doubt it.

We are still trying to capture Nazi war criminals, even when they're past the point of being punishable for much more than a two or three-month sentence (they're kind of old, you know), but by God what they did was wrong and they should pay. Better still, their crimes should be made public, so that we can all remember the horror that happened.

Our own dear elected officials allowed torture, mistreatment of prisoners, etc., but "that was all so long ago. Let's look to the future."

I'm sorry, but if you're going to hand out evidence of criminal activity that all can see and read, then you damn well better act on it as if a crime has been committed. Because if you don't, transparency and accountability mean very little. The rule of law is only as strong as those who enforce the laws. If a lawyer tells you you can kill people, does that make it legal? Or only if you're the President, and the people you want to kill might be bad guys? And if the President gets to define who and what a bad guy is without trial, isn't that a little too much power for one person to have? Especially one who already has quite a lot of power to begin with?

Just asking...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Raging Cretinous Has-Beens

Here's to Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly: we salute you, o idiots of the major media!!! I would add other media luminaries to this list, but I need to keep it manageable. Your consistent, ass-hatted opinions are keeping America safe for the Michigan Militia! Unfortunately, everyone else is going to have to buy a few bullet-proof vests.

First, the "Tea Parties:" I learned from Thom Hartmann last week that the Boston Tea Party was staged, not (as my history textbooks would have it) because the poor, benighted colonists were being overtaxed on something as common and important as tea, but because the British East India Trading Company was not going to be taxed at all for importing tea to the Colonies, thus killing competition between BEITCo and any other tea company.

Kind of like when Wal Mart comes to town and gets a ten-year-long property tax holiday, because they're going to employ a lot of locals (which they will, because all the local business will be going under).

So, once you get past that little semantic difference of opinion, you're then left with a fairly crazy conspiracy theory: Obama is planning on taking away all the guns, nationalizing all the banks (so?), and essentially forming a Muslim States of America. His own statements notwithstanding (about America being a secular state that has religious people living in it - oh, my GOD, I had no IDEA), loonballs like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are running around with their mouths hanging out all over the place, telling "Patriotic Americans" (AKA knuckle-dragging inebriates with too much time and/or too many firearms on their hands) that it's time to think about armed insurrection.

Wow. Wasn't it just yesterday that criticising the President's war plans was tantamount to treason? (that's the last President, by the way, not the current one)

So, if criticising one President's war plans is treason, what do you call telling people to arm themselves and prepare for war against their own government? A friendly argument? An agreement to disagree?

A joke in poor taste?

And thus we have a spate of random shooting sprees. One guy specifically said in his (attempted, as it turned out) suicide note, that if you're going to kill yourself, because the world is becoming a socialist state, take out a few liberals along the way. I'm not saying all the shooting sprees are specifically politically motivated - though when you're broke, laid-off, and desperate, and the wackos tell you that the guy in charge did it, well, then you might think about going after the guy in charge.

Shame that it wasn't the current "guy in charge" that screwed everything up. But, you know, that's just semantics...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This Just In - OPEC Says Oil Tastes Great!

In a story in Reuters today, OPEC displayed a deep schizophrenia when talking about it's primary source of revenue.

The General Secretary for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Abdullah al-Badri, blamed industrialized nations and their factories for Global Warming, then suggested that revenues from taxing oil should go to environmental issues, but then lambasted developed nations for trying to wean off the their respective populations off of OPEC's product.

So, oil doesn't cause global warming, but coal and natural gas do?

It's enough to give you whiplash.

Even the head of Royal Dutch Shell says that maybe people should stop buying penis-replacements and just get some sort of car that works and will get them from place to place without the huge carbon footprints.

If you're going to tax petroleum products anyway, make sure you use those revenues to fund environmental needs in your country.

But God forbid that you stop buying big cars that need lots of gasoline to run.

    "It's the damned United Auto Workers' fault for GM and Ford and Chrysler all going belly-up."

    "It's the damned poor people with their sub-prime loans that have caused this banking problem."

And now, we have:

     "It's the damned industrialized nations that are causing global warming, not oil."

I'm still confused.

The implications of this are, of course, staggering. Next thing you know, the polar ice caps melting will be because polar bears have too much sex, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be blamed for all the junk in the ocean. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yes, I'm Depressed

So, my last post sounded (after I read it the next day) a little depressed, perhaps a little gloomy. So in the spirit of trying the cheer everyone up, I submit the following links, so that you can experience my renewed sense of optimism:

On the economy:

Paul Krugman interviewed in Newsweek

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone

Jake DeSantis in the New York Times

Matt Taibbi in Alternet, responding to Mr. DeSantis

Joseph Stiglitz in the New York Times this morning

I could go on, but I'd hate to lose too many readers to suicide.

Then there's the wars:

Fort Hood soldiers

Karzai legalizes rape in Afghanistan

Iraqi insurgents don't see why they should stop

Okay, enough.

I do try to approach every day not as if it's going to be my last, but with a sense of "anything can happen, and it might be good." While this often leads to disappointment, it also occasionally leads to good news. For example, the Spanish are looking to try some of our prior administration's best and brightest for war crimes and crimes against humanity. With apologies to Monty Python, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" It was a good thing to hear about on an otherwise dismal day, at least as far as world economic news was concerned. The other good news was that the head of GM was forced to resign by President Obama, and the conservative pundits immediately went into full lathered-up mode, decrying socialism, nationalised industries, and other conservative bugaboos. Anything to piss off a Republican, is what I always say.

One comment on the above articles, though: interesting how Paul Krugman, who has been lambasting the current President way less than he ever did with former White House Occupant Bush, is suddenly the man to listen to. Why is it we never saw an article in Newsweek or Time magazine titled "Paul Krugman Says: Bush is Wrong"? Hmm......