Now eleven million later, I was sitting at the bar

3 06 2015

Many years ago, when my friend T. and I were both broke (she no longer is, I’m, well, I ain’t at her level), we’d fantasize about how we’d support ourselves in old age:

“Let’s rob banks, and if we don’t get caught—helloooo Costa Rica. And if we do, then it’s at least three hots and a cot.”

That’s if the lottery didn’t work out for us.

Well, it seems some seniors have beaten us to it:

Elderly Crime Rates Increase - Bloomberg Business'e

Never was much of a golf fan.





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.





Everybody knows the fight was fixed, 5

11 08 2014

What was that joke? I’ll believe that a corporation is a person when one goes to jail?

(Okay, that’s not the exact joke, but you get the idea.)

As ever, the reverse (or inverse, or converse—tough to tell), also works: a person with the wealth of a corporation will be treated like one: pay a fine, and walk away.

Of course, one could argue this is only fair: only the very wealthy could have engaged in the kinds of criminal activity of which Bernie Ecclestone was accused.

 





I see danger come

12 08 2013

If you’re unwilling to allow the police to detain young black and brown men for being young black and brown men then you make “our city a more dangerous place.”

And if you’re unwilling to allow the state to confine men away from any human contact for years at a time, then you apparently want convicts “to restore their ability to terrorize fellow prisoners, prison staff and communities throughout California.”

An open society needs effective enforcement of the law and allows that those who break the law be separated from society.

There must be some way to accomplish both without disregarding the rights of the free members of that society or disregarding the humanity of its imprisoned members.

Those who believe we cannot? You got it: fear-mongering authoritarian rat-bastards.





Springtime for Hitler

28 07 2013

Austria kinda creeps me out.

Rest assured, I have no reason to be so out-creeped—it is not my area of study, I’ve never visited, I used to enjoy this bar/restaurant in Minneapolis that served Austrian food, and I have fond memories of my time in The Sound of Music—but somethin’ about the place sets me off.

Hitler! You might say: It’s Hitler!

Ehhhh, maaaaybeee—except I’m not creeped out by Germany. Yes, der Futur Führer was born and grew up in what is now Austria, but he was just a whiny loser as he mooned about Vienna: he did his real damage while based in the country to his north.

Still, there may be something about German efforts to come to terms with its past which contrasts favorably to Austria, which, famously, has not.

Ah: the creep may come from a sense of all kinds of nasty shit fermenting away below the surface.

Remember that guy who kidnapped and raped his own daughter and kept her and her kids in his basement? Not surprised that this happened in Austria.

Now, I repeat: this is completely unfair to Austria, especially given the recent escape by three women from years-long imprisonment from a house in Cleveland. There are psychopaths and serial criminals—not to mention unmentioned crimes of the state—in every country, so it’s unfair to single out Austria.

But I’m still singling out Austria.

All of this is a very long way to a very short point: the recent “discovery” of a village bell dedicated to Adolph Hitler is yet another crack in  the Austrian-victim-of-Anschluss excuse for history, and as such, ought to be celebrated.

I get the point of Raimund Fastenbauer that the bell could become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and thus should be “disappeared”, but given how much mid-century Austrian history has been disappeared, I think getting rid of the bell is the exact wrong approach.

Let it ring out, literally and metaphorically. Let it be seen, and heard. Let it be talked about.

After 80 years, let it finally be talked about.





Hit me with your best shot

24 06 2013

Quick hit:

I think the reason most Americans don’t seem to care about the massive secret agency info-suck is the same reason most Americans don’t seem to care about the massive numbers of us imprisoned for long periods of time in inhumane conditions.

Actually, two, related reasons. One, we don’t think “we” are at any risk of having info used against us/imprisonment and thus don’t feel any sympathy for or solidarity with “them”, who are justly targeted.

Two, we punish legislators who are “soft on crime/terrorism”, not those who are harsh—again, because those legislators are protecting “us” against “them”.

At its worst, this kind of thinking means that any questions of responses to crime/terrorism opens the question-er to intimations that she might not be one of “us”, not to be trusted, and, perhaps, should come under the same type of treatment as “them”.

Damned effective at keeping “us” in line.





With liberty and justice for all, cont.

20 09 2011

This time, bitterly:

Georgia Pardons Board Denies Clemency for Death Row Inmate

By KIM SEVERSON
Published: September 20, 2011

ATLANTA — Troy Davis, whose death row case ignited an international campaign to save his life, has lost what appeared to be his last attempt to avoid death by lethal injection on Wednesday.

Rejecting pleas by Mr. Davis’s lawyers that shaky witness testimony and a lack of physical evidence presented enough doubt about his guilt to spare him death, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles ruled on Tuesday morning that Mr. Davis, 42, should die for killing Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer, in a Savannah parking lot in 1989.

Emily L. Hauser, among many, many others, has thrown herself into efforts to halt his execution, writing about him repeatedly on her blog, on the Team Commie/Golden Horde/Black Republican open threads at TNC’s place, and in two pieces for The Atlantic. (I did only the bare minimum, clicking through one of Emily’s posts to sign a petition.)

More than 630,000 letters asking the board to stay the execution were delivered by Amnesty International last Friday. The list of people asking that the Georgia parole board offer clemency included President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress, entertainment figures like Cee Lo Green and death penalty supporters, including William S. Sessions, a former F.B.I. director.

Davis had faced his death three times previously, each execution stayed as courts ordered a reconsideration of the evidence.

But in June, a federal district court judge in Savannah said his legal team had failed to demonstrate his innocence, setting the stage for this latest execution date.

That’s right: he couldn’t prove his innocence.

I am opposed to the death penalty in all instances. If Davis were guilty, I would be opposed to his execution, but there is considerable evidence to suggest that his guilt is not beyond a reasonable doubt.

So tomorrow, when Georgia straps Troy Davis down and injects him with a lethal drug, there’s a good chance the state will be committing a double injustice: in killing one (likely innocent) man, and in not pursuing the man who really killed Officer MacPhail.

Anneliese MacPhail, the slain man’s mother, hopes Davis’s execution brings her peace.

For the rest of us, there will be no peace.