AFSCME

An aide to Eric Cantor sent this to the Press today.

Notes On The United States And Torture

§ 2340. Definitions
As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

“On that particular quote, that people were transferred for purposes of torture, that was not the policy of the United States.”
– CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta to Senator Kit Bond, February 7, 2009

“You cannot be making statements or making judgments based on rumors and news stories.”
– Senator Kit Bond to Leon Panetta regarding allegations of extraordinary rendition for the purposes of torture

“Okay. We’ll want to talk with you some more about that in a classified kind of fashion.”
– Senator Ron Wyden, in response to Leon Panetta’s assertion that the United States had carried out extraordinary rendition for the purposes of torture

“‘If you don’t violate someone’s human rights some of the time, you probably aren’t doing your job,’ said one official who has supervised the capture and transfer of accused terrorists.”

“According to one official who has been directly involved in rendering captives into foreign hands, the understanding is, ‘We don’t kick the —- out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the —- out of them.’ Some countries are known to use mind-altering drugs such as sodium pentathol, said other officials involved in the process.”
– The Washington Post, December 26, 2002

“In our view, Congress may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”

“We conclude that the War Crimes Act does not apply to the interrogation of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees because, as illegal belligerents, they do not qualify for the legal protections under the Geneva or Hague Conventions that section 2441 enforces.”
– Memorandum for William J. Haynes IT, General Counsel of the Department of Defense

“‘If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?’
‘No treaty,’ replied John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who wrote the crucial memos justifying President Bush’s policies on torture, ‘war on terror’ detainees and domestic surveillance without warrants.”
– Salon’s Sidney Blumenthal, 2006

“Whatever was done as part of a CIA program at the time that it was done was the subject of a Department of Justice opinion through the Office of Legal Counsel and was found to be permissible under the law as it existed then.

“For me to use the occasion of the disclosure that that technique was once part of the CIA program — an authorized part of the CIA program, would be for me to tell anybody who relied, justifiably, on a Justice Department opinion that not only may they no longer rely on that Justice Department opinion, but that they will now be subject to criminal investigation for having done so.”
– Attorney General Michael Mukasey, February, 2008

Teen Accused of Using Facebook to Abuse Boys

A Letter to Michael Phelps — By lil’ Jimmy Wallace, age 11, Spectacle Monopolilzed Youth Sports Contributor

Dear Michael Phelps,

How are you? I hope you are not feeling very well. Yesterday, USA Swimming decided to cut your monthly stipend of $1,750 because when someone offered you an illicit narcotic scheduled with Heroin, you said “yes” to evil and “no” to everyone who had ever looked up to you. Ever since last summer, I wanted to be a professional swimmer like you and even break your record. But now my dreams are crushed. Now, when my Mom tells me not to hang out with the bad older kids (and the younger Rasta kids) that smoke marijuana, I just get confused, stare blankly and defiantly into space, and refrain, “But Michael Phelps did it!” My sense of values is all fucked up!
This morning, when I awoke, I saw your picture on my Corn Flakes box, your smiling face sitting on the surface of the water. I can’t tell you how heartbroken I was, my delicate childhood dreams crushed and laying in a million pieces. Just as I looked up to Kellogg’s wholesome brand of nutritional family foods that fortify the body and the mind, I looked up to you. Now, by cutting you at the end of this month from their lucrative sponsorship deal, it all makes sense now when my D.A.R.E. instructor links your smoking marijuana at a college party to double or even triple homicides down the road.
What you’ve been doing, Michael, is like running down the side of the pool. And look what happened to you! You fell on your butt and into the deep end, that money flowing off of you into the air like smoke, poisonous smoke.
In the lower right of that photograph of you taking drugs, I saw a bottle of Bud Light. That’s what Daddy drinks when I cry. Now, I’m crying, too, because Daddy drinks weren’t enough. If I was 23, I would take advantage of all the privileges that I got like drinking adult drinks.
You suck, Michael. My dreams are crushed. The video game machine said that winners don’t use drugs, and you better believe you’ll never be a winner again.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Wallace
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Editor’s note: Thanks for the letter, Jimmy. All of this makes me wonder what Michael Phelps was doing drinking Bud Light in the first place. Even if he hadn’t been smoking weed, inevitably, some corporate sponsor was going to come down on that unhealthy consumption of empty calories. Or not.

Blasphemy and Misinformation at the National Prayer Breakfast

Just went to Sultan Knish’s page, and he is busy raking Barack Obama for some comments he made yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast. There, the president apparently attempted to alleviate some of the ill-will that inevitably floats between followers of the Abrahamic faiths, Islamic, Christianity and Judaism.

Along the way, he decided it was time to quote a hadith of Muhammad ibn Abdullah to show himself as a man of open mind. Never mind that Barack Obama is straight up hosting cocktail parties.

Barack Obama was trying to allude to what seems to me to be the pretty obvious point that people don’t like having things they hate done to them. This “golden rule” has famously been attributed to any number of historical figures, ranging from Confucius to Ram Dass, and was a truism by the time people put it in the canonical gospels. The point is the same. Obama alluded to some speaker in the Torah, of course Muhammed, and some supposed brutalized first-century carpenter whose life story somehow got mixed up with Mithra, Oedipus, etc. Don’t misunderstand me. There are excellent reasons to doubt the historicity of a single figure called Jesus.

In any case, all of this really comes down to one of Michelle Malkin’s fanboys who wallow in picking out the stupidities of Islamic Fundamentalism (Note the capital “I,” capital “F”). These are the same jabbering idiots who will spend a week pointing out to you the idiocy of the idea of Muhammad flying up on a horse to the meet the ultimate being, but who would never break a sweat mocking the idea of a man walking on a liquid. Or a stick turning into a snake. You get the picture.

Dig: more than a month later, and all throughout Facebook, the American Israeli supporters line up to post how many Qassam rockets have smacked into the area surrounding the Gaza strip, an area roughly four times the size of my own neighborhood, the District of Columbia. Clearly, they mean well, but, given that hundreds of Gazan children lay dead in the shadow of 14 Israeli casualities (most of which were not civilian), I can’t help but feel that my countrymen are losing perspective. As the human rights groups (Amnesty, HRC) reiterate, all people deserve peace and safety. It is for this reason that the cruel, vicious racists that inhabit both sides are to be despised; verily, they endanger the lives of all involved.

Anyway, Sultan Knish, an award-winning blogger, imagines himself clever for pulling up another source of the hadith and pointing out that the passage in context only seeks to legislate how Muslims are to treat other Muslims, not “infidels.” Well – ha, ha—that sucks, but what’s the big deal? Is this supposed to be revelatory? Can we even assume that most self-identified Muslims can even pretend to want to live in the seventh century? All of that seems atrociously irrelevant.

I mean, when I get down to it, loads of people I know are just as bent on defending the reputations of people who look like them as people who act like them. I got into an argument with a good friend of mine, who is Jewish and “culturally Zionist” regarding this point in Israel. In total disclosure, I have never visited that narrow branch of Southwest Asia joins Africa to the world’s largest continent. I have never met this shelf, but from all I can understand this is an argument regarding the wake and legitimacy of colonization to one extent or another. Relative to the conflict that left the Hutu and the Tutsi in bitter violence, there is perhaps here a legitimate point of comparison.

Today, I finally got a glimpse at Hamas’s webpage. If you’d care (to be careless) and exercise brutal prejudice regarding any individual’s opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just pay attention to the first date they mention in their supposed historical justification for their homicidal views. Reading the Google translation of Hamas’s adult page (their kid’s page was far easier to understand – in content, not principles) it immediately occurred to me that the beginning of the social conflict was for them at the end of the 19th century. Clearly, when the longest term reconciliations are to be reached, it will be in light of resolving these “ancient hatreds” of which Barack Obama spoke yesterday.

My biggest worry for the Israeli population, aside from their shutting out an entire ethnic group from their legislative process last month, is the historical pride that wanders aimlessly. Truth be told, loads of people worldwide who look like everything from a vending machine to a violet can trace back ancestry to the people who inhabited our contemporary, contested land in question.

I’d like to talk about the Holocaust for a second. Yes, I know. It’s brought up too often. It should be irrelevant, right? Well, the reason it isn’t is because the lessons that it taught us are staring us right in the face. Yes, I know the body count isn’t the same – heck, even from Hamas, right? But the lessons about ethnic pride and hate can teach us something today. The greatest shame, after having to watch the photos of those individuals in mass graves, would be to not adopt some serious lessons from the moment.

It seems pretty obvious to me that following World War II, many Jews worldwide figured that if they didn’t have a place where they could claim the majority, the brutalities of the German National Socialists and previous centuries of cruelty would inevitably revisit their children, who shared the same values. And, hell, if those values were antonymous with the Nazis, they had to be pretty good, right? Well, in any case, as much as we’d like to think the world worked that way, it doesn’t. The victim, yes, can become the abuser. And thus perhaps it’s not ironic whatsoever that the Israeli Defense Forces began initiating checkpoints on the West Bank. One time, I watched a Disney anti-Nazi propaganda film (Walt Disney being a notable anti-semite by all accounts noted), and in it one of the chief annoyances by the writers was the fixation the Nazis had with determining one’s ancestry and lineage. In another case of lack of irony, I feel it’s necessary to point out that in order to attain Israeli citizenship, it is sometimes necessary to prove to the state a heritage and lineage with Judaism that may go back several decades. Indeed, it might seem that in some respects, the Nazis and Zionists have shared similar cultural practices.

This point is not lost on many leftist Israeli activists, some of whom early this year were photographed by major American newspaper marching with signs comparing the Warsaw (Poland) ghettos to Gaza itself. I ask people to set down their hatred of Nazis and Zionists for a second and simply think about how the lineage obsession phenomenon (that is to say, how it supposedly justifies privilege amongst our contemporaries) is counterproductive. More than ever, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the right of people to travel as they will. So many people have become engaged with the Israeli Defense Forces that it’s insane to collectively blame, but corruption from a defense force of such magnitude are so obvious in potential.

Hamas is a brutally racist organization whose very charter emphasizes the importance of hating Jews. To some, Judaism is an ideology. To others, it is an ethnic description into which they were born without volition. It is between these lines of definition, when left untread, that all social negotiation faces the potential of falling into shambles. I dislike it that Sultan Knish picks apart Barack Obama’s words, intended to be unifying, so as to seek the reestablishment of grudges long buried. Indeed, the inequity of our fathers and mothers may never justifiably be revisited upon us; at the same time, we can only be fair.

A month later and so much death. And for what? Belief in the supernatural? Ethnic pride? Racism is rooted in vanity, love of the self for the most superficial of reasons.

Human behavior at its worst.

In Scolding of an Ostensible Moderate

Just went to Sultan Knish’s page, and he is busy raking Barack Obama for some comments he made yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast. There, the president apparently attempted to alleviate some of the ill-will that inevitably floats between followers of the Abrahamic faiths, Islamic, Christianity and Judaism.

Along the way, he decided it was time to quote a hadith of Muhammad ibn Abdullah to show himself as a man of open mind.

“Diluted” — Guest posting by Hunter

I dream of suffocating vision, binding tunnel vision strangling my eyes. I dream I am drunk and high and there are puzzle pieces strewn across my otherwise empty floor in my otherwise empty room. A former roommate looms over the pieces and stares at me with dark circles under his eyes. The majority of puzzle pieces form a picture of a lighthouse. I realize this should be in the bathroom down the hall, framed in ancient drift-wood and having 4 pieces misplaced at the bottom. Not that it matters, in this puzzle, there are merely two shapes. Every other piece is identical– in waking and dreaming states.

You can still fit in even if you don’t belong.

My diminished key-hole sight causes me to panic. I lose control of my body and drunkenly stumble out of the room. What the hell is wrong with me, I ask myself. I make it to the bathroom and begin urinating in the toilet. The toilet relays the news, “You’re piss is dirty. You’re going to fail.” A current roommate, Graham, apologizes, somewhere off in a distant nadir of my mind, for blowing smoke in my face.

The toilet grimaces and becomes the Great Pit of Carkoon. I fall and it consumes me. Darkness and exudate outline rigid spikes as I dangle from a giant tongue(I hope). Despair overwhelms me. Tinges of thought, prickles of suggestion, move my mind to believe I am in hell. And this, when this thing pukes me out, I’ll be in heaven.

Apparently that is a terrace outside of Versailles Palace, lit by barely pre-crepuscular light. Gold receding into silver blue into black. I sit in silence overlooking courtyards below much as I did in waking state, looking down at the end of Richmond, the bend in the James and a traveling commercial train.

I wake up shivering and drink several glasses of water. I have to go pee for the last time. I get there, wait for what, to my bladder, seems like forever and in the end it’s diluted.

25 Things

1. I used to act as a barista from time to time. Rishi Tea’s Organic Sencha is some amazing stuff, and, if you are stuck in the regular, tasteless and wastful cycle of buying supermarket boxed tea, you need to upgrade. Moreover, if you are drinking soda all the time, tasty as it is, you need to consider the upgrade. Yeah, it’s an initial investment, but, given that the tea can be steeped multiple times, you are saving in the long run.

2.

Ten Indisputably Awesome Things

The following this are awesome. If you disagree, you are wrong.

10. Rishi Tea’s Sencha
This stuff is awesome for a reasonable caffeine fix, yet without all of that mercury that some of have been whispering has seeped into the high fructose corn syrup market. Sodas are tasty, but in the long run, it’s going to eat through your stomach lining.