Lessons That Came At Too Painful A Cost

 Constitution, Crime, Featured, Politics, Presidency, Society, War  Comments Off on Lessons That Came At Too Painful A Cost
Feb 272009
 

The Youtube clip includes a statement from Senator Leahy about his proposal to have a commission look into the possible crimes of the Bush Administration. It continues with a statement by Senator Whitehouse. Whitehouse, as a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees is in a position to have some idea of what has gone on in regards to our torture and rendition activities. In light of a stern and direct warning that when the details of what Amerikkah did under the Bush Administration comes out, it’s not going to be pretty, I am set back on my heels.

It must have been bad, and Whitehouse says that we are going to be contrite and embarrassed. Many people on the right and in the Republican party would rather that we ignore the war crimes of those years. Even Obama has talked about only “looking forward,” but as Senator Leahy says, if we don’t confront these things, the past can be a prologue for the future. I hope that is unacceptable to you all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTzJf7m2NL0

Only Looking Forward Is Not An Option

 Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Featured, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Only Looking Forward Is Not An Option
Feb 062009
 

No less than former President Richard Nixon’s White House Counsel says that we must consider investigating (and if appropriate) prosecuting members of the Bush 43 Administration for torture and crimes against humanity. I would suggest reading the complete article, but here’s an excerpt:

My question is how can the Obama Administration not investigate, and, if appropriate, prosecute given the world is watching, because if they do not, other may do so? How could there be “change we can believe in” if the new administration harbors war criminals – which is the way that Philippe Sands and the rest of the world, familiar with the facts which have surfaced even without an investigation, view those who facilitated or engaged in torture?

One would think that people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Gonzales, Yoo, Haynes and others, who claim to have done nothing wrong, would call for investigations to clear themselves if they really believed that to be the case. Only they, however, seem to believe in their innocence – the entire gutless and cowardly group of them, who have shamed themselves and the nation by committing crimes against humanity in the name of the United States.

We must all hope that the Obama Administration does the right thing, rather than forcing another country to clean up the mess and seek to erase the dangerous precedent these people have created for our country.

The testimony by Phillip Sands, Law Professor, to which he refers is here:

The evidence is remarkably clear, and I fail to see how anyone can turn a blind eye to this most egregious blot on America’s place in the world.

I hear the arguments that we must look forward and not back, but those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. We must, as a country, learn our lesson. We must take the appropriate rebuke from ourselves, and ensure that a clear message is sent to those in America who have come to believe that torture is OK if supporting it gets them votes. We most show the rest of the world that America gives no quarter to torturers, be they foreign or domestic.

It will not be a pleasant time in our history, but neither have the past eight years been pleasant. Our moral authority in the world has collapsed and is non-existent. Often we stood alone as the honest broker for what is right, but today we stand only as hypocrites.

I believe that the new Attorney General must appoint a Special Prosecutor, and an investigation must be conducted into the conduct of the Bush Administration in regards to torture, rendition and false imprisonment. These are all things explicitly detailed in America’s original Declaration of Independence as being unacceptable behavior by then King George. Our King George did no better, and just as America’s Founding Fathers called him to task for his transgressions, modern Patriots can do no less.

Boy In The Striped Pajamas, The – A Movie Review

 Culture, Featured, Movies  Comments Off on Boy In The Striped Pajamas, The – A Movie Review
Nov 232008
 

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas Movie PosterEight year-old Bruno is the sheltered son of a Nazi officer whose promotion takes the family from their comfortable home in Berlin to a desolate area where the lonely boy finds nothing to do and no-one to play with. Crushed by boredom and compelled by curiosity, Bruno ignores his mother’s repeated instructions not to explore the back garden and heads for the “farm” he has seen in the near distance. There he meets Shmuel, a boy his own age who lives a parallel, alien existence on the other side of a barbed wire fence. Bruno’s encounter with the boy in the striped pajamas leads him from innocence to a dawning awareness of the adult world around them as his meetings with Shmuel develop into a friendship with devastating consequences.

Genres: Drama, Adaptation and War; Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.; Release Date: November 7th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.

Starring: Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, Cara Horgan, David Hayman, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon

Directed by: Mark Herman

I was moved beyond words by this movie. It was maybe one of the saddest and most moving stories I’ve seen. All the actors were great, but especially Asa Butterfield as Bruno, the Nazi Commandants son, and Jack Scanlon as the Jewish child Schmuel were just remarkable. The music was beautiful in its simplicity, and by the end came to sound like a hymn.

This story has so many messages that it’s hard to know where to begin. First there is the story of the innocence of childhood. It is amazing to be able to see the world through children’s eyes, and realize how really simple the world can be. We just have to find those things we have in common with one another, and friendship is easy. There is the moral story of karma. Those who foment hate and evil may have it come around to bite them in the ass.

This movie was a stunning morality play, and I hope it will be seen by millions. This movie, like Schindler’s List, is an important story with an important message applicable to how we treat one another today, and a reminder of the importance of never ever standing by for this type of evil. At the end of the movie everyone in the theater sat quietly rather than making the usual dash to the exits. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was stunned into a soul searching reflection. Even as we began to leave, with the beautiful piano solo playing the movie theme that had become more like a hymn, people could only whisper in respect for the experience.

It was also amazing to hear the language used to teach hate for other’s, and see how it can br effective for those looking to blame their problems on someone else. It was remarkably similar to the words and tactics used by those today to dehumanize gay people.

Know that the film’s resolution, though admirably restrained and unsentimental, is devastatingly sad. Parents should take this into account. This beautifully rendered film is told in a classic and old-fashioned style, in the best sense, providing poignant and powerful teachable moments.

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The Price Paid for Power

 Election, Featured, Politics, Presidency, Religion, Right Wingnuts  Comments Off on The Price Paid for Power
Aug 212008
 

John McCain’s military service deserves the thanks and respect of the American people, especially given his time spent as a POW in Vietnam. However, the over-use of this status for political gain becomes laughable after a while, and erodes the respect with which it should be treated. It seems to be used by his surrogates to explain everything.

The other day McCain was asked about how many houses he owns (I plan to write more about this later), and he stumbled, and could not remember. As it turns out, it’s either seven or eight…no one else seems quite sure either.  It took less than 24 hours for for a McCain spokesperson to invoke the POW status to explain away the housing gaffe. Brian Rogers told the Washington Post, “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison.”

Recently at the Saddleback interviews (where McCain received Rick Warren’s questions in advance), McCain told a story about his time as a POW when a guard came to him at Christmas time and quietly used his sandal to draw a cross on the dirt floor. It was certainly a moving story, but what exactly it says about McCain I can’t quite figure out. It seems to me to say more about that guard…but the krazy kristian kooks love it. Anyway, like some of Dick Cheney’s story, it might have been borrowed.

Let’s look at the timeline. McCain came back from Vietnam in 1973, and shortly after that wrote a 12,000 word story published in U.S. News and World Report, but never mentions this incident. In 1999, McCain writes about it as his story in his book, Faith of Our Fathers. But in 2000 he talks about the story, but says it was another prisoner.

OK, so just strike it up to his age (or his previous status as a POW). Except that story appeared in the book, The Gulag Archipelago, by recently deceased Alexandrja Solzhenitsyn and published in the west in 1973. Did the same thing happen to McCain? Certainly could have, but it could have also come from a distant memory in a ghost writer’s brain…especially since McCain attributed it to someone else himself.  Continue reading »

Waterboard Rumsfeld?

 Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, War  Comments Off on Waterboard Rumsfeld?
Nov 102006
 

If he has nothing to hide…

Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany’s top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hey, maybe the Germans can try that cute little trick that Bush’s CIA did in Italy. Just swoop in and steal people off the street of a NATO ally, then ship them out of the country to be tortured. I mean, after all, America is the beacon of hope in the world and we set the standard for decency. Hell, we are decency country-ified. Anything we do is per se humane and legal. So why couldn’t the Germans use the same tactics on us? I understand war criminals don’t get the same rights as real people anyway – you know, like habeas corpus or the Geneva Conventions – so no harm no foul.

We are at war, you know.

Administration Seeks to Narrow War Crimes Act

 Congress, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, The Courts, War  Comments Off on Administration Seeks to Narrow War Crimes Act
Aug 102006
 

The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a U.S. war crimes law “passed in the mid-1990s that criminalized violations of the Geneva Conventions.” The changes would mean interrogators would no longer face possible prosecution for committing “outrages upon [the] personal dignity” of prisoners. Examples of these “outrages” could include acts “such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women’s underwear seen at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.” “This removal of [any] reference to humiliating and degrading treatment will be perceived by experts and probably allies as ‘rewriting'” the Geneva Conventions, said retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Corn. “The plan has provoked concern at the International Committee of the Red Cross, the entity responsible for safeguarding the Geneva Conventions.” Two weeks ago, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke privately with lawmakers about the need for “protections” against prosecution for “actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire.”

Do you think that maybe they’re getting afraid they’re all going to jail. They certainly deserve to.? Once again we see an administration incapable of understanding the basic precepts?of what?being American is all about.? Once again, I call on all of you to contact your representatives in Congress, and demand that they do not narrow the definition of war crimes.