Just let the red rain splash you

9 12 2014

The executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence torture report.

16 absolutely outrageous abuses detailed in the CIA torture report, as outlined by Dylan Matthews.

I was naïve, years ago, in my outrage at the torture committed by the CIA. Yes, the US had enabled torturers (see: School of the Americas) and supported regimes which tortured (see: US domestic surveillance and foreign policy), but somehow, the notion that torture was committed by US government agents seemed over the line in a way that merely enabling and supporting had not.

I don’t know, maybe US-applied torture was over the line in a way US-enabled/supported torture was not, and busting righteously through it busted something fundamental in our foreign policy.

But given, say, the Sand Creek and Marias massacres amongst the general policy of “land clearing” and Indian removal—policies directed by US politicians and agents—wasn’t it a bit precious to decry this late unpleasantness?

Naïveté, I wrote above. No: ignorance. I’d studied (and protested) 20th-century US foreign policy and ignored its 19th century version, the one directly largely against the indigenous people whose former lands now make up the mid- and western United States.

Ta-Nehisi Coates recently wrote that paeans to nonviolence are risible in their ignorance: Taken together, property damage and looting have been the most effective tools of social progress for white people in America. Yes.

A country born in theft and violence—unexceptional in the birth of nation-states—and I somehow managed not to know what, precisely, that birth meant.

I’m rambling, avoiding saying directly what I mean to say: there will be no accountability for torture. Some argue for pardoning those involved as a way to arrive at truth, that by letting go the threat of criminal charges we (the people) can finally learn what crimes were committed, and officially, presidentially, recognize that crimes were committed.

It is doubtful we will get even that.

Still, we have the torture report, and (some) crimes documented which were only previously suspected. Good, knowledge is good.

But then what? Knowledge of torture committed is not sufficient inoculation against torture being committed.

Coming clean will not make us clean.





Listen boy I’m getting tired of you

28 07 2013

Anthony Weiner is an idiot.

Yes, for the obvious reason of thinking he could get away with sending crotch shots (solicited and not) to and sexting with women not-his-wife, but also for thinking this latest revelation was No Big Deal.

He did intimate, in that long groundwork-for-a-comeback piece in the New York Times Magazine that there were  more sexts out there and they might surface, but as others have pointed out, he also implied that these, uh, indiscretions were looooong behind him.

Hence the more-damning-politically idiocy: He didn’t come clean when he had the chance. Had he said, in the long ground-work-for-a-comeback piece, that it took him awhile to get himself under control, that the sexting continued through the summer of 2012, he would have opened himself to  tough questions about his habits and appetites, questions he managed to duck when he resigned his Congressional seat and retreated to private life.

But in taking that opening, he would have inoculated himself from the derision which attends the latest revelation, forestalled the contempt attendant on the lies about the extent of his crotch-shotting, and thus might still have had a shot at becoming mayor.

I guess he still does, but this past week that shot became a whole lot longer.