I’m a 1K flyer, meaning I fly over 100,000 miles a year with United, and consider myself fairly inured to the indignities of travel by now. But, going through my first Whole Body Back-Scatter X-ray at the Denver airport recently took frequent flying to a whole new level of creepiness.
The Homeland Security people obviously put a lot of thought into the implementation of this latest supposed “advance” in aircraft terror prevention.
Before the entrance to the X-ray chamber there was a little sign depicting fuzzy, colorless images of a stripped-down man and woman, which I suppose were meant to put us at ease by suggesting that what the examiners see is not the least bit personal or prurient.
If so, it didn’t work. The depersonalized photos of the little nudes just reminded me of those grisly photos of concentration camp survivors, their bodies wasted by starvation, gaunt faces devoid of expression.
Poor Bradley Manning. The kid can’t catch a break. Not only does the military have him locked in some inhuman solitary hole where they can slow-torture him using the latest approved methods, now his troubled private life is being broadcast for all to see.
After running 75,000 secret military field reports released by WIkiLeaks, The New York Times assigned a reporter, Ginger Thompson, to find out personal details about PFC Manning, who is being held at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.
What she found was a sensitive, smart kid who did his best to survive the mess he landed in when he was born. A dysfunctional family life seems to have pushed him into the loner category. Then, as kids are encouraged to do by recruitment posters, he chose to join the Army, as Thompson writes, “to give his life some direction.”
Nothing out of the ordinary, here. A recruiter realizes the kid is quite smart, maybe a bit nerdy, but he’s a wiz with computers. As a former employer told Thompson, Manning was blessed with “an almost innate sense for programming.”
But then the Times reveals that Manning is homosexual, which means, because the military’s absurd “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is finally being discussed in an adult fashion, the Manning story is a potential bomb in that discussion.
San Francisco – Two friends debated the merits of California’s pending referendum on pot legalization as they smoked marijuana through a hi-tech electric pipe while sitting inside a swank house where floor-to-ceiling windows artistically framed the glittering night skyline of this city known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and its libertarian attitude towards lifestyles.
Both friends vigorously oppose America’s pot prohibition condemning it as ineffective and fiscally wasteful. Prohibition nationwide costs billions of dollars per year for just enforcement which in 2008 produced 872,721 arrests, with most of those arrests (89 percent) being for mere possession.
However, these friends hold sharply different opinions on California’s Prop 19 with one firmly supporting this ballot measure to legalize possession of an ounce of pot for personal use among adults while the other strongly opposes it.
The supporter sees Prop 19 as reducing government intervention in his life while his friend fears increased government/corporate entanglements with his favored intoxicant.
“Stubbornness and stupidity are twins.”
What is it about Americans that they have so much going for them, yet they can be so very stupid?
Two stories in the Sunday New York Times jumped out as a sad backdrop to our misguided War On Terror.
The first is about the bigoted anti-Muslim xenophobia in New York over a proposed mosque some blocks from the site of the former World Trade Towers. The emotional volatility is being fueled by the usual Fox News agitators, and Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich stirred up the pot for their demagogic needs.
Even the Jewish Anti-Defamation League took off after the mosque and condemned it. Here’s the Anti Defamation League’s mission statement at the top of their web page:
“The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 ‘to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.’ Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”
Don’t you just love bullshit PR?
Wall Street lobbyists may have successfully managed to emasculate most of the important parts of the financial reform bill just passed by Congress last month, but one part of that 2000-page act, which establishes as bounty for whistleblowers who expose corporate financial wrongdoing to the Securities and Exchange System, managed to slip through unscathed.
If this surprisingly strong measure is supported by strong enabling regulations at the SEC, which has until next April to draw them up and approve them, some legal experts, including at law firms that specialize in representing corporate clients, say it could have a profound effect on the behavior of American companies.
Let me get this straight. Robert Gates, the Secretary-Of-Defense-For-Life, is touring the TV news shows and major newspapers pleading with great angst lines in his forehead that WikiLeaks is “guilty” and “morally culpable” for releasing 75,000 field reports from Afghanistan to the American public because they endanger Afghans allied with US forces.
But he and the US militarists who initiated the war in Iraq and who have continued the war in Afghanistan for nine years, the people who keep everything about these wars secret except what is useful to sustain them, the people who finance these wars on credit without raising taxes, dumping the costs on future generations – these people are not “morally culpable,” “guilty” or endangering anyone?
Do I have that right?
In other words, to reveal information about the war makes one morally guilty of endangering people, while being responsible for the war itself does not.
I was listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition” broadcast this morning in the car, and I heard a reporter say that President Obama was “redefining” the American role in Iraq, now that he had brought the number of US forces in that country down to “only” 50,000 troops, and that “combat operations” would be ending effective this month. The remaining forces, the reporter announced, with no hint of irony and no explanation, would “only” be engaged in helping to train Iraqi troops and police, and in “counter-insurgency” operations.
Excuse me, but aren’t we at war in Afghanistan, and isn’t that operation, involving about 200,000 US, Australian and NATO troops (excluding the Dutch, who are pulling out after the country’s participation in it brought down the conservative government), called a “counter-insurgency” campaign? Isn’t counter-insurgency by definition a kind of “combat”?
WTF? This crap is being called journalism?
By the way, about that 50,000 number. For the record, that is a lot of soldiers. It is for one thing two times the number of US troops stationed in South Korea. It is twice the number of troops that were employed in the invasion of Panama in 1989. It is about the number of troops the US had in Vietnam in early 1964 after the first round of escalation by then President Lyndon Johnson.
The telephone at the DC area home of Marsha Coleman-Adebayo began ringing non-stop after the story broke recently about the hasty firing of U.S. Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod on false charges of being a racist.
Outraged callers wanted not just to express sympathy over Sherrod’s mistreatment but also to offer continuing support for Coleman-Adebayo, whose epic battle with a federal agency over despicable employment discrimination and retaliation produced America’s first civil rights law of the 21st Century.
Over a dozen years ago Coleman-Adebayo, an MIT-trained PhD, faced an onslaught from officials at the Environmental Protection Agency because she had spoken out about racism within that agency as well as about the EPA’s coddling of a U.S. corporation whose regulation-skirting mining practices in South Africa were seriously injuring workers there.
The White House’s initial response to the release of 92,000 pages of raw reports from the field by US forces in Afghanistan for a period from 2004-2009–that it was a threat to national security and to the lives of American troops–was as predictable as it was farcical.
These documents didn’t reveal anything new to America’s enemies in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The Taliban fighters knew full well that their heat-seeking missiles had successfully downed American helicopters. They didn’t reveal anything new to Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. The Pakistanis knew that they were assisting the Taliban with intelligence, strategic planning and weapons in their fight against US forces and the current puppet regime in Kabul. They didn’t reveal anything to the long-suffering civilian population in Afghanistan either. Afghans know that US forces have been targeting them at checkpoints, wantonly bombing their houses and villages in attempts to hit suspected Taliban or Al Qaeda leaders or fighters, and covering up those atrocities when innocent men, women and children are the victims.
No, what the release of these documents threaten is the huge almost decade-long lie that both the last administration of President George W. Bush, and the current administration of Barack Obama have been putting out, that the US is engaged in a “good war,” trying to defeat “terrorists” and establish a democratic government in Afghanistan.
WikiLeak-Why Leaders Tremble at Leaks
This letter is being sent to PFC Bradley Manning at the following prison address in Kuwait. For obvious reasons, I’ve left my return address off this posting.
Inmate PFC Bradley Manning
TFCF – Theater Field Confinement Facility
APO AE 09366 USA
Dear PFC Manning:
The New York Times just reported on 92,000 classified military field reports from Afghanistan that graphically underscore what a demoralizing mess that war is. The leaked material has stirred new opposition in Congress to funding the war, and WikiLeaks is now seen by many as a much needed instrument to crack open the grip that secrecy has on the truth in America.
On the other side, there are powerful enemies. General James Mattis told a Senate confirmation hearing for his new job as Commander of Central Command that the leak was “an appalling act.” But then he assured the senators the leak revealed “nothing new.”
The point is such leaks are finally fueling robust debate over the war in Afghanistan. And the leak you are alleged to have made that resulted in WikiLeak’s web video “Collateral Murder” was the beginning of it all.