January 21, 2013

Django Unchained & Zero Dark 30: 160 years later, they’re still torturing colored folks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 5:53 pm

In honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday this year, I treated myself to a movie marathon, watching “Django Unchained” and “Zero Dark 30″ back-to-back. And it was like a cold slap in the face.

“Django Unchained” allegedly took place in 1858 — and here we are now, 160 years later, where things have apparently changed and we’re now being all civilized with our I-phones and our electric cars and our digital TVs. Nobody enslaves “colored” people any more and tortures them like that any more, right? This is the 21st century!

No one ties “colored” people up with ropes and beats them and beats them and beats them and then sics dogs on them any more, right? That’s barbaric. That’s why Lincoln freed the slaves and Dr. King marched in Montgomery, right? What happened to Django was old skool.

But hold onto your popcorn, guys. “Zero Dark 30″ is about to come next.

When the theater screen darkens, suddenly here we are again, right here in the 21st century, but still tying up “colored” people with ropes, beating them and beating them and then siccing dogs on them.

“Hey, but that’s different,” you might say. In what way?

In “Django Unchained,” we saw a man have all that he owned taken from him — simply because he wasn’t White — and then we saw him beaten and tortured when he fought back against the Master.

In “Zero Dark 30″ we also see the end results of years and years of “colored” folks in the Middle East having everything taken from them by the Master too — and then when they too fought back, they too got beaten and tortured.

So how come we cheer Django Freeman on but hate Osama bin Ladin? Both are “colored” men fighting for their very lives.

But I digress.

This commentary is not about whether bin Ladin was or was not a good guy. Obviously he was a bad guy — even making his wives do his laundry by hand, according to “0D30″. Wouldn’t even buy them a washer and dryer.

This commentary is about how far Americans have progressed, between 1858 and now, along the path to moral evolution. Not an inch.

In 1858 we had Candyland, where Leonardo di Caprio’s character used torture to maintain his power over people of color who rebelled against their own exploitation.

And now, 160 years later, we have the CIA instead — with Jessica Chastain’s character using torture to maintain her power over people of color who rebelled against their own exploitation. On past Martin Luther King birthday holidays, I’ve honored the day by watching “The Long Walk Home” or “The Help,”, listening to Joan Baez sing the hauntingly immortal “Birmingham Sunday,” and/or remembering back when I myself marched with Dr. King in Montgomery in 1965 — while seven months pregnant with my first baby.

During past MLK birthday celebrations, I was always filled with hope.

On this MLK birthday celebration, however, I was only filled with despair.

May 31, 2011

How to resist torture in America: “Do unto others…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 10:23 am

Today me and my daughter Ashley went up to Hilltop Mall because we wanted to get photos of my granddaughter Mena taken so we could all have wallet-sized pictures of Mena looking insanely cute. And as we were waiting for our turn at the photo shop, I started asking Ashley questions about torture.

“Torture? Huh? What does torture have to do with wallet-sized cuteness?” Nothing. Get over it. As a blogger’s daughter, your job is to supply input — not to reason why. Okay then.

“Just suppose for a minute that all the Arabs in all the Arab countries throughout the Middle East who have been tortured over the past many decades by various American forces and spy agencies and corporatists — that they all suddenly got together with all the various Asians in all the many Asian countries west of the Indus and Urals where Americans have tortured quite a lot of people, and that all the Latinos from Mexico and all the many Central and South American countries where Americans have tortured untold numbers of people thanks to excellent torture techniques taught at the infamous School of the Americas, and that all the blood-covered Africans from all the economically-colonized African countries where American armies, intelligence agencies and corporations have tortured people over the past many decades since Patrice Lumumba and all the….”

“Okay. Okay. I get the idea.”

“And that all of these innumerable abused victims of American torture all banded together, consolidated all their armies and natural resources and anger and stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and then all of them came after us all at one time? All of them? And overran the entire USA from Boston to San Diego?”

“It might happen,” replied Ashley, “but it probably won’t.”

“Yeah, but just supposing that it did — then my question is this: If we absolutely positively for certain knew that all of these Others were going to do to us what we had already done to them — then how could we possibly prepare ourselves for such an event? How could we teach ourselves to endure or resist and/or even to survive such hard-line torture — like what Americans handed out at places like Guantanamo, Baghram and Abu Ghraib?”

I mean, of course, besides having to learn to endure the torture of having to spend a day at the mall.

“Haven’t got a clue,” Ashley answered. Me neither. How can you even begin to toughen up and prepare for something like that? Perhaps we could do what all too many Americans are already doing now — and become homeless? It takes plenty of guts to survive that. In order to be homeless, you really do gotta man up.

Or you could play continuous 24-hour loops of recordings of colicky screaming babies? Trust me, that would toughen anyone up. Or you could almost drown yourself in the bathtub each night. Or go without toilet paper? Or audition for Survivor?

There really isn’t any good way to prepare oneself for being tortured — except for this one: Stop torturing other people and then hope to God that they will then stop wanting to torture you in return. “What goes around comes around.” Didn’t Jesus say that?

PS: Considering that we were shopping at Hilltop Mall on a Saturday afternoon right after payday — considered by many to be the absolute primo time-slot for shopping — this mall was strangely deserted. On any given Saturday afternoon ten years ago, this place would have been mobbed!

PPS: Well, guess what? America already HAS been “invaded”. And here’s a video from MSNBC commentator Cenk Uygur to prove it:

In this video, we are shown an image of almost all our congressional representatives giving the prime minister of Israel many standing ovations, even though everything that Bibi had just said goes totally against our own national interests.

In this video, Netanyahu is stating that the West Bank and Gaza belong to him because his ancestors occupied it 2,500 years ago. Okay. But under that logic, then Congress needs to supply the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota with billions — or perhaps even trillions — of dollars so that they can take back the West Bank of the Potomac! Or else we should start supplying Italians with fighter jets and tanks so they can take back Jerusalem — which used to be part of the old Roman Empire.

America has already been invaded — and conquered! — by Israel’s corporatist lobbyists. In this video, you can watch Congress give our occupiers many standing ovations. Do you think that Congress would give the same kind of standing ovations to, say, American union leaders? Or Americans who want single-payer healthcare? Or American college students who want better schools? Or mayors of American cities pleading for better infrastructure? No way!

You think that Israel’s corporatist lobbyists don’t already “occupy” America? In his speech to an Israeli corporatist lobbying association recently, President Obama pretty much says it all when he addresses AIPAC president Lee Rosenberg by his nickname.

“Rosy, thank you for your many years of friendship,” says Obama. “Back in Chicago, when I was just getting started in national politics, I reached out to a lot of people for advice and counsel, and Rosy was one of the very first. When I made my first visit to Israel, after entering the Senate, Rosy, you were at my side every step of that profound journey through the Holy Land. So I want to thank you for your enduring friendship, your leadership, and for your warm introduction today.”

Even Obama is beholden to Israel’s corporatist lobby (and clearly not to the voters who elected him). I rest my case.

PPPS: America has also been “invaded” by its own political and military leaders — who clearly represent themselves instead of us.

Here’s an article by journalist Anwaar Hussain, describing how the people of Pakistan have been used, misinformed and manipulated by their political and military leaders — and how, as a result, the future of Pakistan has been pretty much doomed But guess what? The same sorry conditions now engulfing these poor unwary Pakistanis are also now engulfing most Americans too. Too bad for us, suckers. The rich get richer and we get NOTHING.

And then there’s America’s third major “invasion” — by the Federal Reserve and the banksters and Wall Street, institutions that have absolutely no allegiance to America at all but rather to international cartels that play out grim blood-money oligarch games that also suck America dry. And where is the anger here either? Like Pakistan, have we too become just another minor nation of victims who relish the role of being masochists? Apparently so.

More and more, I am beginning to think that I’m completely wasting my time here even trying to write about possible viable solutions to all of America’s woes — or about various sensible ways to keep MY country from being swallowed up by its economic occupiers.

America is going to Hell in a hand-basket right now, and the only solutions to these troubles that our so-called leaders keep feeding us are the same old tired solutions that got us into this terrible mess in the first place — more unnecessary wars, more influence by bankers, more media lies, more anti-depressants (, more corrupt politicians — and more Americans who absolutely eat up all these faux solutions like they were pieces of Marie Antoinette’s cake.

Doesn’t anybody in America have any common sense left at all right now — except for perhaps a handful of progressive bloggers and some little old ladies like me? Or have any sense at all for that matter?

February 12, 2011

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

On Friday, February 11, 2011, the Paramount Theater in Oakland offered a program that looked like a prospect for a very pleasant evening of entertainment that was supposed to be the columnist’s opportunity to “take the day off.” Sitting in a single screen movie theater listening to a musician play the organ before the cartoon and newsreel are scheduled to start the show, was a déjà vu moment. When did movie theaters stop showing cartoons? When was the last newsreel made? The time travel thrill came to an abrupt halt when Ricky Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) made it clear that the Nazis were the bad guys because they would torture prisoners to get information about the good guys in the resistance. We wondered if the young American men who died in the European theater of operations during WWII would appreciate the irony of their own deaths if they could see their country now.

Before leaving for the movie, we had tuned into the Mike Malloy talk show program to hear what was happening to Brad Friedman of the Bradblog website and the vacation week substitute radio host. On Thursday liberal news websites had broke the story about how Friedman was being targeted by the United States Chamber of Commerce for some dirty tricks style attacks on his credibility.

During the day Friday, this columnist had zoomed around on the Internets to gather some material for a column about the phenomenon of the mindset that drives pathological liars to be used in a column that will be posted at a later date.

It seems that seeing Casablanca on the day when systematic attacks on newsmen looked like they were part of a premeditated plan to cripple the effectiveness of citizen journalists would only double down on the irony level contained in the patriotic message of the Academy Award (AKA Oscar™) winning film.

The film contains one of the few exceptions to the Hayes code ever seen on American screens. In the World War II era movie, patriotism trumped the rule that no movie must get away with murder. Whew! That must come as a great comfort to the folks who want to sidestep the treehuggers laments about civilian casualties as collateral damage in camel jockey country. Major Strasser has been killed? “Round up the usual suspects!”

Didn’t the bad guys shown in Casablanca make a point of stifling the publication of dissenting points of view?

Lately, both of the two biggest American political parties seem to be using the Nazi image for a reenactment of the old childhood wrangling titled “Your mother wears combat boots!” Heck, back then, most kids who participated in that Monty Python style debate had never heard the word “lesbian;” let alone understood the full implication of a mother who wore combat boots.

Like Ricky Blaine, this columnist prefers to sit on the sideline and make sarcastic observations rather than participate in political debates.

The Nazis style was: fight against communist. Use succinct short slogans. Tell lies so big that no one will believe the teller has the cajones to tell that big of a whopper. Shut down media that doesn’t use pre-approved propaganda. Rig or cancel fair elections. Make the message so simple to understand that a high school drop out can understand it. The Geneva accords were scraps of paper. It’s OK to use torture to find out what the enemy resistance is doing.

Heck, aren’t the Republicans and Democrats equally guilty of using that modus operandi at this point?

Brad’s website was disabled and unavailable all day Friday. Even if it wasn’t a major equipment failure (just like what happened to the Iran nuclear program hardware?), don’t most Americans say that all is fair in love, war, and politics?

If net neutrality rules are imposed on the Internets (just like the Hays code was forced on the film makes) does that mean that citizen bloggers won’t be free to spend their own money to go see the 24 hour race at Le Mans and write whatever they want? Isn’t the traditional headline for the World’s Laziest Journalist’s annual Columnist Day celebration: “I column as I see ‘em!”? Doesn’t that mean that no matter what, bloggers will always be protected by the First Amendment?

There are two styles of column writing; the Dionysian and the Apollonian. Which one would teabagger trolls say is used by the World’s Laziest Journalist?

The United States Chamber of Commerce might be willing to spend $2 million to stifle Brad because he insists on reporting esoteric stories, such as the one about the absent minded professor on the Supreme Court who misunderstood the complicated implications of putting a checkmark in the wrong place on an innocuous and informal office form, but it seems unlikely anyone would notice if the World’s Laziest Journalist writes a column comparing and contrasting the tourist destination ratings of Paris vs. Casablanca.

It’s just like what Ertha Kitt said about money. To paraphrase her: This columnist has been to Casablanca and Paris. I prefer Paris.

Won’t the Huffington Post always be an available venue for disgruntled liberal writers? Did some blogging curmudgeon make some crazy assertion about “First they came to get the Bradblog . . . .”? Don’t take those conspiracy theory nuts too seriously.

Oscar Wild said: “Good Americans think that when they die; they’ll go to Paris.” Why wait that long?

Now the disk jockey will play (you can see it coming a mile away – just like JEB moving the Bush Dynasty back into the White House in 2012) Dooley Wilson’s “As time goes by,” “The last time I saw Paris,” and “Le vie en Rose.” We have to go see when the Berkeley 7 Flashback series will be showing “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Have an “I was misinformed” type week.

October 30, 2010

Jane & Mena’s big adventure: Our recent visit to Hello Kitty!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:30 pm

Sometimes you just gotta take a break from observing the ever-present world stage of human tragedy and go out and have fun! So last week me and my two-year-old granddaughter Mena went over to San Francisco to see Hello Kitty celebrate her 50th birthday. According to a recent 7-Live newscast, this event was to take place on Justin Herman Plaza at 1 pm, and consisted of a mobile Hello Kitty store, some free gift bags and an opportunity to get your photo taken with Hello Kitty herself!

So we popped onto the BART train and took off.

Was the event crowded? Yes it was. We got there two hours early and there were already at least 200 people standing in line. One woman said that she had left her house that morning at 6 am so that she would be sure to get a gift bag. And everyone there was a huge Hello Kitty fan!

Demographics? Most of the fans there were adults — many of whom have loved Hello Kitty since childhood. And why not — what’s not to love? Guilty pleasure — I love Hello Kitty too. Many Japanese-Americans and Japanese turned out for the event. And most fans were women. Me too. And so was Hello Kitty!

The prices of things for sale at the mobile store were a bit on the expensive side. A commemorative T-shirt was $35, a small plastic coin purse was $12. Small stuffed animals were $28. Plus it took forever to get waited on.

However, a good time was had by all and we made lots of instant friends while waiting in line to get our photos taken with Miss Kitty. “But what about the gift bags?” you might ask. Only 50 of them were given out, plus they gave the first 50 arrivals a number (written on their hands) so that there would be no cutting in line. Rats. But I did get a sneak peek at the gift bags even though we had arrived too late to actually score, and they contained stickers, a note pad, a pencil and a small coin purse. I want one!

The Hello Kitty “Small Gifts” 50th-birthday mobile tour was a really fun event, mostly because of all the enthusiastic fans that we met — but also because we got to actually get our photos taken with a real, life-sized Hello Kitty. And she even patted young Mena on the head.

Moral of the story? Even a hardened reporter like myself can still succumb to “cute” — and that advertisers and promoters still have us where they want us.

PS: Mena went as a witch for Halloween this year — which reminds me of all the female Tea Party candidates who have been circling like sharks churning the waters during this election cycle: Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman, Christine O’Donnell, Carly Fiorina, Michelle Bachmann, etc. Remember back in the day when we women would have been honored and pleased to have so many female candidates running for federal office? I surely don’t feel that way now.

PPS: Speaking of honor, Glasgow Sunday Herald war correspondent David Pratt has just written a very moving article entitled “There is never an argument to defend the use of torture”. Pratt himself was tortured when he was reporting from Bosnia back in 1995.

“The gunmen who took me prisoner claimed to be Croatian militiamen, but were, in reality, little more than thugs and gangsters,” wrote Pratt. “During my short captivity, along with other civilian prisoners, I was bound and beaten with rifle butts before being singled out one night to be shot. To this day, I’ve never really been able to figure out what then followed – a mock execution or simply a case of my captors, who were drunk at this point – making a cock-up of trying to kill me.

“The last I remember of that night, was kneeling with my hands tied behind my back looking down into a ditch where others lay twisted and lifeless. Then there was the sound of a pistol being cocked before being put to the back of my head. A second later, there was an empty click and some mocking laughter before a thump on the back of my neck sent me to oblivion into the ditch where I later regained consciousness lying alone among a heap of bodies.”

The point that Pratt goes on to make is this: “At the end of the day, real democracies don’t do torture. In today’s war on terror, far from being a necessary evil, torture is plain evil: a morally reprehensible act that is in itself is a form of terrorism.

“No matter how much we try to justify it as a means to an end, in fighting today’s war on terror, it simply can never be so. Those states that advocate its use are little better than those morally bankrupt thugs at whose hands I, along with countless others, suffered in Bosnia all those years ago.

“As the French Algerian author, Albert Camus, eloquently put it: ‘Torture has perhaps saved some, at the expense of honor…even when accepted in the interest of realism and efficacy, such a flouting of honor serves no purpose but to degrade our country in her own eyes and abroad.’”


April 5, 2010

The Impossible Cheney Dream?

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 6:18 am



March 16, 2010

What Should Have Happened to Cheney in 2002

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 5:21 pm


January 28, 2010

Finally, Some Republicans Go to Jail


January 14, 2010

Waterboard Dick Cheney in 2011?


To see a clip of Jesse Ventura on Larry King Live, May 11, 2009, click here.

December 10, 2009

Republican Philosophy

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:53 pm


This window sticker seems to sum up the Republicans’ Philosophy for America.

December 9, 2009

So Many Causes, So Little Time

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:35 pm

(Berkeley CA) While visiting San Francisco, it became necessary to go to a bank branch that wasn’t the one this columnist usually uses and in the course of a conversation with the manager, he mentioned that if this customer intended to give the teller a tip, it would be better to donate to one of the charities that they suggested and then he dealt out a list of about a dozen good causes.  He caught us a bit unaware since we have never tipped a bank clerk.  Maybe the rich folks tip them like they tip the croupier when they win a big pot at Monte Carlo? 

The sheet of paper he provided was carefully tucked away so that the list could be accurately transcribed at this point in this column.  One of the disadvantages of a rolling stone existence is that things get lost and so, despite a sincere effort, no list.  The only one that comes to mind is the fog city SPCA.

A clothing store in San Franciso directed their customers to St. Jude’s Hospital ( which assures donors that the organization in Memphis will never stop looking for cures for the diseases which severely affect children.

Activists on Venice Beach. Recently, were asserting that folks shouldn’t shoot sea lions (

While staying at the hostel in the Fort Mason National Park (spectacular scenery with a supermarket a just across Laguna St.) we encountered Padma Dorje who was collecting signatures as part of her effort to eliminate torture in the world.

Across the bay from San Francisco, the Asian Community Mental Health Services is conducting the Tiny Tickets effort.  Travelers are asked to send in their Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) tickets to help support that good cause.  (

Fellow columnist (and occasional war correspondent) Jane Stillwater is conducting an online petition urging the reform of campaign financing.  For more about that click this link(

While traveling in Australia (looks like the folks on Cottesloe beach will have to celibate Christmas without this columnist this year) activists for Greenpeace and Amnesty International seemed to be ubiquitous, but, upon reflection, they may not have been encountered in Kalgoorlie.  We assured those eager young workers that since we couldn’t afford to give money to their causes, we would urge the people who read our columns to support the altruistic efforts of both groups.   

Now that President Obama is in office and is directing his best efforts towards ending the war in Afghanistan, it will no longer be necessary for this columnist to constantly harangue his faithful readers with diatribes about the absurdity of the continued slaughter and carnage involved in the commendable American efforts to convert that county’s citizens over to advocates of democracy and free elections.  Also, this year as Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, it will not be appropriate to suggest that former President Bush, who ignored the precepts of war established at the Nurmberg Trials or the rules of the Geneva Conventions, deserves a severe reprimand in the form of another War Crime Trial for himself and some of the members of his administration.  He didn’t know that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (what better reason could there have been for invading Afghanistan?). 

Americans have given 43 a “Get out of Jail” card and so it will be necessary for columnists of both the conservative and progressive persuasion to find new and more compelling causes to espouse. 

We were pondering the monumental problem of deciding what crap to buy for friends for Christmas so that they could cram their closets with irrefutable evidence that they support capitalistic democracy via their effort to spend the country out of Great Depression 2.0 and not just by mouthing meaningless platitudes such as “Peace on Earth good will to men (who should be tortured to prevent new terrorist attacks),” when we realized that the Christmas scenes that depict polar bears (<I>Ursus martimus</I>) lurking in the background of the images of Santa may become anachronisms when the last polar bear drowns in an ice free Artic Ocean.

Bill O’Reilly made a pledge to America that he would protect them from pinheads in the media who disseminated faulty information.  O’Reilly is as much history as is “the Lone Ranger” program which must logically mean that the cry for Climate Justice is a legitimate concern.  He’s gone from radio and we’re still here writing columns.  Nice try, Bill!  Guess the people just didn’t buy your BS, eh?  Hence, if we write about global warning, it will now be up to Uncle Rushbo to protect the hillbillies from pro science points of view. 

Speciescide happens.  Folks who live in Berkeley know that UCB’s mascot is the California Golden Bear (<I>Ursus arctos callifornicu</I>) and many of them also know that the last one of that species was shot in Tulare county in 1922.  Therefore we will compose a column which will have the headline:  “Dead polar bear walking!” and fictionalize an interview with the plight of a unfairly convicted (that never happens in the USA, but movie fans know that some unjustified executions do occur in places such as Saddam’s Iraq) prisoner on death row.

What will happen in the future when there are summer heat waves and there are no polar bears in the local zoo to photograph?  How will the wirephoto division of AP cope with that challenge?

There are good causes and there are bad causes, but are there any uncaused causes?

Hmmm.  As an ordained minister this columnist has to wonder:  Does the Berkeley cheerleading squad need the services of a volunteer chaplain?

George Carlin has said:  “The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.”  How many little boys and girls in Iraq would like to ask Santa to bring back their arms or legs?

Now, the disk jockey, who heard this song on Revolution Radio (KREV 92.7 FM in the San Francisco area), will play the new curmudgeon anthem:  “I’m beginning to drink a lot at Christmas” (will that become this year’s viral Internet fad?) and this columnist will go Christmas shopping.  Have a “ho, ho, ho in Freo” type week.

September 5, 2009

Dick Cheney’s He-Man Mag


June 22, 2009

The Tattlesnake – National Waterboarding Day and Other Firecrackers Edition

“The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”
“Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
– Benito Mussolini, as quoted by the London Sunday Express, December 8, 1935.

Item 1: Let’s make this Independence Day National Waterboarding Day! Here’s the way it would work: At each major public gathering on Saturday, July 4, 2009, have a crew there ready to waterboard all comers. Bring your conservative friends and relatives who deny that waterboarding is torture and challenge them to personally experience this ‘enhanced interrogation technique’ for themselves. Let them deny it’s torture after they beg for it to stop after 6 or 7 seconds as Mancow Muller did. Just to sweeten the deal, offer a prize of $25.00 for anyone who lasts a full minute. Vets for Peace and other military groups could provide the waterboarders and the equipment is cheap: a few gallons of water, some water bottles, a board that can be slanted and some washcloths. I know this is short notice, but I hope, True Majority and kindred liberal organizations pick this up and run with it.

Item 2: How did we ever get to the point where sacrificing our health for the profits of a large corporation is an acceptable idea? How did we get to the point where a faceless corporate bureaucrat in a for-profit business denying health care to a sick person is an acceptable idea? How did we go from doctors visiting your home when you were ill to making sick people sit in a waiting room to see the doctor? And, BTW, I’m tired of Congressional Republicans telling us that we have the best health care system in the world. Of course we do – if you happen to be a member of Congress. The rest of us have to take our chances. Want to see instant health care reform? Make the Senators and Congress-Creatures go to the Emergency Room when they get sick. After several hours in pain or feeling ill, sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair waiting for an overworked ER intern to see them, those Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats will be ready to sign on to anything that ends that scene from Dante’s Inferno.


May 30, 2009

The Tattlesnake – On Celebrating Memorial Day in the Aftermath of Cheney’s New Rome Edition

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 6:58 pm

My uncle was an Army Ranger during the Korean War who saw the results of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ performed by the North Koreans on American GIs. Although there were no waterboardings mentioned that I recall, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures, lengthy confinement in small spaces, prisoners kept for days with their head covered by burlap bags, and other forms of torture were routinely practiced. There were no ‘major organ failures,’ yet my uncle, and every one who saw the psychologically broken, hollow-eyed men released by the NK knew what they had ungone was torture, without question. He was proud to say that America didn’t torture our captives. So was my father, who witnessed the results of torture of American POWs in the Pacific Theater during WWII.

It was simple: America does not torture.

The Bush/Cheney Gang, supported by those other execrable toads Bybee, Bradbury and Yoo, have dishonored the service of my father, my uncle and millions of others who sacrificed their youth and risked or lost their lives for a Constitution and a form of government that adhered to its own laws and didn’t descend to barbarism out of panic or sadism or incompetence. Dick Cheney knew very well that Americans would not countenance torture so he had his lawyers invent another name for it, and he continues to dishonor our veterans, living and dead, and all Americans, justifying the crimes he committed in our name and without our permission by insisting he has protected us, when he is really only protecting himself. If Cheney had the kind of guts he is purported to have, he would come out and admit he ordered the torture and take responsibility for it, instead of wrapping himself in weasely euphemisms and the flag. But ‘tough guy’ Cheney doesn’t have the courage to do that — my father and my uncle had more courage in their little fingers than ‘desk jockey’ Cheney has displayed in his entire career. They risked their lives for their country; Dick Cheney has done nothing more than play pathetic political games for his own profit. To say he is disgusting is an understatement.

Perhaps the House and Senate, before voting on Bybee’s impeachment or, indeed, the prosecution of any of these war criminals, should be required to see a film of what American soldiers looked like after they had been subjected to the techniques outlined in the Bybee/Yoo memos, and allow men like my uncle, who have seen the terrible results of Cheney’s ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ and those who have experienced them first-hand, to testify in public. It might wake them up to the true horror of what the Bush/Cheney Regime has done in our name.

Also read:
“Everyone Should See ‘Torturing Democracy’”
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Common Dreams, May 30, 2009.

© 2009 R.S. Janes.

May 29, 2009

The Tattlesnake – Cheney the War Criminal Edition

Those who watched Dick Cheney’s speech Thursday, May 21 had a glimpse of the ‘real Cheney’ stripped of his usual condescending corporate-CEO cold-bloodedness and country-club sham machismo — for the first part of his remarks he was a shaken, sick old man of 68 desperately trying to make a case for brazenly violating the laws of civilization and the US Constitution, apparently clinging to the notion that if he can summon up enough public support for his torture policies he can avoid the temporary judgment of a jury, and the more lasting condemnation of history.

For, in fact, Cheney’s fervid protestations that ‘we didn’t torture’ and his subsequent bizarre assertions that ‘everything we did was legal’ fail on both counts, yet another prime example of the perpetually wrongheaded Cheney approach on display since he assumed the vice presidency by way of an illicit Supreme Court decision in 2000.

The waterboarding that Cheney has blithely admitted to in several different public forums has been defined as torture since the autos-da-fé of the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago, and various international tribunals and American courts in the Twentieth Century have reaffirmed that definition. Cheney’s justification that the torture he authorized was ‘legal’ because a couple of DOJ lawyers told him so holds no more water than if they had advised him it was legal for him to own slaves. The Constitution Cheney took an oath to uphold states clearly that ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ is banned, as do several treaties the US has signed which are by dint of Congressional approval the law of the land, as well as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988 which specifically prohibits the sort of cruel and degrading treatment of detainees Cheney authorized.


Cheney ‘Wiggums’ Out!

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion,Toon — Tags: , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 4:17 am


The Chief Wiggum character is copyrighted by Matt Groening and whoever else owns a piece of ‘The Simpsons.’

May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009


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