Saturday, February 09, 2008

FYI, Law and Order Republicans and armed personel In Theatre.

Before I am lept upon by Haliburton apologists - if you are a law and order sort, a crime is a crime is a crime. When you fiddle with the rules or buy off the law so you get to commit the crimes YOU like committing. That is neither Law nor Order, and it brings the system (and it's alleged champions) into disrepute.

Before I'm leapt on by feminists for putting the wrong emphasis on this: that's your job, there are lots more of you than of me, and I'm certain you are doing a better job of it than I would, as I'm an envious reader of a number of you. But if I somehow inadvertently offend you enough in my reaction to this situation to make you post - well, if that's what it takes... Let me add that I'm white, male, blonde, conspiciously angol-saxon and if I went to church at all, it would be to an Episcopal church.

I mean, if that's what it takes to make your vagina dentata bare it's fangs and start snapping, I will gladly play fox to your hound in this case. There ARE males who need castrating in this circumstance and I'm not so male nor so Episcopal to deny that obvious fact.

I've always felt a job is best done by those who most enjoy it. :>

Indeed, the fact that some males in this equation are due for neutering or worse is pretty much my entire point.

As far as I am concerned, if you are of the view that a particular set of glands entitles you to dominion over those possessing another particular set of glands - then you had best be prepared to accept challenges to your "right of attachment."

UN-like females, the removal of those glands is neither particularly difficult nor life-threatening, and just as it does for dogs and cats, it will "improve your personality" just as much, by the same means and to the same, quite significant degree.

So if you can't prove that your topmost glands can override your bottommost - be prepared to accept that you deserve to have them removed, either by some affronted female or by some affronted male, and that if it hasn't happened, it's a question of mercy and forebarance, not of strict justice.

But if you prove in a combat situation that your glands place members of your team in danger - prepare to have them SHOT off. Well, actually, prepare for being dead. In combat, there is little luxury for editorial commentary of that sort.

Now, in a properly constituted, disciplined and and professional military unit with minimally competent leadership, there IS reliable recourse to relief from higher authority for infractions against one's person and dignity. This is of course in the interests of Justice - but not because Justice is some abstract ideal. It is because it is rather unwise and prejudicial to good order and discipline to deny justice from those trained and equipped to extract it from the guilty parties by force of arms. When people have training, means and opportunity to commit an act you would prefer they did not - it's wise to ensure that they do not ever have motive.

And if that is both true and obvious to members of an armed civilian force, such as our regular forces, how more obvious and true is it of a force composed of those who should know that - both by situation, by role and by contract - that their only reliable recourse for such matters is sudden, pre-emptive violence?

When the entire corporate culture amounts to "shoot them all, let God sort them out," how does anyone in that culture delude themselves that they can be an exception to such a rule? I would assume that cases such as this are the rare exceptions and the rule is that most disputes of this nature are never passed up the chain of command, due to a link being replaced. Suddenly.

Still, even within such a culture, most of the time with most people, you can control the situation with a superior display of force and dominance.

Statistically. With odds that are possibly about as good as Vegas odds - but they don't shoot you when you crap out in Vegas!

If you have not noticed - your female squadmates are armed, and have gone through the same training as you have. If they are trained well enough to put a round through a turban at five hundred yards, do you doubt their ability to chose to shoot off your LEFT nut at twenty five feet?

Yet have just told them that their only choices are submission or violence.

YOU went though basic. They went through basic. What do you think YOUR Drill Instructor would expect them them to do under these circumstances, knowing as we both do that the "correct response" and the one that promotes that fatherly smile are often completely contradictory?

Ooo, is your widdle sphicter CLENCHING at that thought?

And if you happen to be a Marine, Seal or Ranger, you ougtta be exerting enough force to crush a pencil with it right about now. You are trained to expect a certain sort of behavior from a a colleague. Aren't you? So, if you are betting your life and your dangly bits on a particular squadmate being an exception because she has breasticles instead of testicles - hm. Let's put it this way. In her situation, surrounded as she is by enemy forces who have overt tactial superiority, what would the training you share advise?

Dude, she's gonna go assymetrical on your ass and blame it on terrorist action. And if she were not trained and equipped to get away with that - she would not deserve to be wearing that pin you are so deservedly smug about.

In this particular war, with IED's flying around as they do, it's real easy to imagine how a fragging might be mistaken for enemy action. Indeed, once you think of it, you might start to wonder what amount of "enemy action" has actually served to improve the leadership of the armed forces in action. Of course - should she and three of her female buddies choose to make it more personal - ok. Let's not visualize that - it's a little too "Little Big Horn."

Just because she didn't SAY "you have to sleep sometime" doesn't mean it hasn't occurred to her. Males tend to bluster and posture before committing violence. They actually need to be trained out of that, to work co-operatively in units and to strike effectively for the kill, instead of just for coup.

Not so much for females. Civilization tends to obscure this. But oh, you are in Iraq or Afganistan, not The World.

Oopsie. My condolances and such, but for whatever reason, you signed on the dotted line. By definition, even under the BEST circumstances, a soldier is on the front line of civilization, and to a degree far greater than any civilian, they can choose to be civilized people or not - for all to often, the only people watching are them, and the motives for any particular choice are only accessible to them. If one of them transgresses - likely the only other person in view is another soldier, who has a choice, and who knows that "friendly fire" is a risk everyone lives with.

This long and unforgiving rant was provoked and inspired by the following article ganked in toto from Alternet with the hope and wish for forgiveness. Most times I stick with "fair comment" rules and refer people to read the original with a link.

However, I read my logs, and that rarely happens. and it was my judgement that there simply wasn't a spare word there. If I excerpted, I'd be omitting a critical point the author wished to be made - and that's fair comment only by Fox News standards.

Truly proper behavior would be to simply link to the article. But if I did that, the odds are you won't click through and read it. Now, as an author myself, I know that the ultimate, overriding motivation is to be read, and in this case, I think the words, ideas and situations so critical that I'm willing to knowingly commit a breach of copyright.

I admit, I'm in the wrong, and if any objection is made by Alternet or the author, I will amend any offense. I do this only because I honestly believe this action, in this particular case, better fulfills their intent as I understand it.

I want you to read every word
, Lucinda Marshall, founder of the Feminist Peace Network has written here. If you have read it before, read it again!

Having read it at least once, and hopefully twice, please go to Alternet and leave a comment on the article, after digging it up, stumbling it and emailing it to your friends. Please blog about it, even if you have to blow the dust off your myspace or your livejournal.

This is an issue with so many different interlocking injustices and contempts for decent opinion that there's something in it to offend everyone.

This is another truth I wish to pass on. Those who you may be inclined philosophically to respond to an injustice differently than you would are not therefore wrong about an injustice having occurred.

A fact is a fact is a fact - whatever the spin given it by whoever brings it to your attention. For instance, I presume - with I hope SOME degree of accuracy, that both Marshall and Alternet would assume or at least prefer that true justice is only achieved through some collective means.
I'll agree it's preferable, and even assert that such means are in place because of our collective memory of the alternative. But and am asserting the REALITY and probability of alternative recourse should collective recourses be precluded.

I will not assert that non-violent, collective and orderly responses are to be despised, but I observe that without a trained and effective group of war fighters, the expectation of orderly and evenhanded justice would be laughable. So how silly is it for one war-fighter to expect civilian response to aggression from another war-fighter?

If they appear to submit - would it not be reasonable to assume that they have read Sun Tsu and are waiting - as he would advise - for a moment when you are least able to defend against their attack?

And in an armed force trained and purposed to "shock and awe," how could you ever expect a fellow war-fighter to think in other terms when confronting you? All their training and experience tells them to commit ultimate, overwhelming, decisive force at the moment and place of greatest weakness, and then to follow up until not just resistance ceases, but the POSSIBILITY of resistance is gone.

Sauce for the Goose, motherfucker.

Rambo One is a cartoon - but it is a cartoon that is based in visceral truth. When you create a living weapon and train them to achieve their objective by being the meanest motherfucker in the valley, you had best be either even more vicious and effective and vigilant - or never ever fall within their targeting parameters.

If such arrogant stupidity is difficult to credit within the culture of the legitimate armed forces, where there is at least theoretical and sometimes even effective response to injustice, how fucking idiotic is it within a Merc unit where, if you are paying ANY attention, it's clear that the only actual definition of right and wrong is who survives to file the paperwork.

Oh, and in a merc unit clearly allergic to even the symbolic semblance of accountability - how little must it matter to them should c one or more muscle-headed fungible fail to return from a mission? Plenty more where THEY come from, and the fewer that live to tell - well, really, the fewer that live, the better.

The notion that sexual assault cannot be tried as a criminal matter but has to be arbitrated in secret arbitration and treated as a labor dispute is simply beyond belief. But then again, defending democracy by making a mockery of it is what Halliburton/KBR is all about:

"A mother of five who says she was sexually harassed and assaulted while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq is headed for a secretive arbitration process rather than being able to present her case in open court.
A judge in Texas has ruled that Tracy Barker's case will be heard in arbitration, according to the terms of her initial employment contract.
Barker says that while in Iraq she was constantly propositioned by her superior, threatened and isolated after she reported an incident of sexual assault."

But it is what the judge in the case said that is most disturbing:

"District Judge Gray Miller, however, wrote in his order that "whether it is wise to send this type of claim to arbitration is not a question for this court to decide.""
"Sadly," wrote Judge Miller, "sexual harassment, up to and including sexual assault, is a reality in today's workplace."

And this in what way would have any bearing on it being a criminal offense? But wait for it...

It gets worse:

"Barker's case had also involved a claim of sexual assault against a State Department employee. Those claims have been severed from her case against Halliburton/KBR and transferred to the Eastern District of Virginia."

Yes, you read that correctly, if a Halliburton/KBR goon commits sexual assault they are not subject to the same criminal proceedings as the same charges brought against a State Department employee.

So there you have it-we are officially fighting terrorism and defending freedom by paying private companies exhorbitant amounts of money and allowing them to terrorize our own citizens and deny them their civil liberties. And it's all legal. Talk about a classic case of the best democracy money can buy.

Editor's Note: The video to your right aired on 20/20 this past December and it features Barker and another victim of rape by Halliburton emplopyees, Jamie Leigh Jones, telling their horrifying stories.

Digg!

Tagged as: jones, barker, bush administration, rape, kbr, halliburton

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including, Counterpunch, AlterNet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, the Progressive, Countercurrents, Z Magazine, Common Dreams, In These Times and Information Clearinghouse. She also blogs at WIMN Online and writes a monthly column for the Louisville Eccentric Observer.


The thing about me, and about Graphictruth, the blog, is that I try to talk about the true things that nobody else is bringing up. In this case, grotesque as the situation is and abominable as the charges are, nonetheless, they are still matters to be determined by a court of law.

But as I said, there's the problem. If you write employee contracts in order to get people to waive rights to justice for matters such as this, don't you think it's an indication that it's something that you feel your corporate culture is somehow entitled to, one of the "perks" of a warrior culture? The point I am making here is that it's a fucking GIFT on her part to the offenders that there was not a chunk of C-4 waiting in the latrine for them. This is, after all, the standard of response to aggression they have set, this is what they expect of their employees when even confronted with the vague possiblity of a potential threat.

It's disturbingly odd to expect people to behave in ways completely contradictory to corporate culture, context and opportunity. And frankly, I don't imagine it does. So I must therefore presume that this particular woman is an exception in some way.

One drunken commentator at Alternet revealed the idea that many of you may think secretly - and indeed, he apologizes for it afterwards, so I will not quote him. But he indicates a lack of sympathy for those who lie down with dogs and contract venereally transmitted fleas.

In an ideal world, where everyone had adequate funds to live and no family or fiscal concerns that kept them from paying close attention to current events, that might be correct. Certainly, if we could assume that our schools taught techniques of critical thinking as basic as "quo bono" (who does it benefit) that I sign away these rights, that attitude might well be valid.

And indeed, I will agree that even given these circumstances, and the probable advantage taken of circumstance and ignorance, my sympathy is nonetheless measured. I mean, really, seriously, how stupid do you have to be? Did you do NO research?

But the law does not recognize a distinction between the civil rights of stupid people and smart people. It is not ok to victimize people that are easy to victimize. The law (and marginally intelligent people everywhere ) realize that the first victims of any scam are the easy marks and that the techniques will be revised and expanded to include everyone, given the opportunity.

This is why I find it odious when the smart and well-informed show little or no sympathy toward those who are less intelligent and less well informed.

If you aren't looking out for these folks, what the fuck is your intelligence and information skill good for? And that goes doubly true for my colleagues of all political persuasions in their parent's basements. Oh, yes, I am WELL aware of the correlation between raw intelligence and various personality deficits that make regular employment difficult. So very well aware that this is one of the few times I will ever bring it up. But those of us who are outliers on the intelligence bell-curve must remember that for the most part, we all depend on the indulgence of others - even when we are employed with nice big paycheques.

More importantly, there are certain factual situations that require you to express a response within a certain range in order to qualify yourself for ... in order of importance ... life, Liberty and the right to expect people to respect your opinion.

Some of my more Republican and Libertarian colleagues might observe that one should read contracts, before leaping at the ungodly sums of money that Haliburton is known to wave under people's noses, to overcome their common sense, their propriety and indeed, their sense of self-preservation.

They might well further observe that the rule of TAANSTAFFL should tell you that if it's enough to buy your soul - that's indeed what they intend to have of you, and nothing less than that.

Indeed, one should understand this. On the other hand, when was the last time YOU actually read an online user agreement? Did you not just click past it, knowing that you had no choice but to agree, since you were in no position to argue?

This was the case even for those of you who could actually parse and understand subordinate clauses. The vast majority of high school graduates in North America cannot reliably parse a legal document. This is far past the graduation standard of sixth-grade english comprehention - the level required to read a newspaper.

Most 2 year and many 4 year college graduates will not be able to do that; - they don't need to meet standards required to intelligently sign a legal document in order to graduate in most disciplines.

So the question is, why is it legally permissible to write such confusing bullshit in the first place, or respectible to consider holding people accountable for things we godddamn well know they can neither clearly understand, while knowing equally well that such documents will never, ever be waved under the nose of anyone who COULD understand the implications.

Many contracts ARE written in sixth grade English; it's not just courtesy, it definitely reduces the likelihood of frivolous and trivial suits.

The only reason to write a confusing and opaque contract is if you are indeed trying to maintain the freedom to fuck with people without their consent. Clearly, at least with Halliburton and KBR, "fucking with people" is not MERELY a metaphor.

But under the rule of law as defined by our Constitution, elaborated by precedence and founded as it is in Common and Blackletter law, there is no particular distinction between crimes you were surprised by and crimes that you should have expected, had you only read the fine print in your employment contract.

Nor is there any legitimate way for anyone to contractually convert a crime into a civil tort. Not in any court of law with un-compromised and competent officers of the court, at any rate.

Whatever a contract may allege - it is not possible to sign away one's civil rights. All that an abuser can do is try to make the enforcement of justice too expensive for any one individual to persue in the courts This is indeed both possible and distressingly common - and this is why it is a duty, both of citizenship and of humanity to join with and stand behind those so victimized, even when it might be slightly inconvenient, or cause one to spend a penny or two.

For the alterntative is that first one or two, and than a flood of people will seek redress "by other means." And indeed, you see this every single day in the news, as some person, legitimately or illigiamately at odds with authority, and being given no other recourse, turns to the use of violence.

So... if an untrained, desperate and angry civilian can take out half a city council and two cops before being shot down - what happens if you rape and abuse persons trained to use weapons with skill and intentional lethality? Gee whiz, in a war zone, could you ever be sure that the death of a person known to be an abuser was truly enemy action? Would you shrug and conclude that it was best, all things considered, to not examine the situation too closely?

I'll betcha that happens. I'll betcha that happens at least ten times more often than it should, and it happens for reasons that have nothing to do with some lack of fluffy altruism. It happens due to fucking STUPID leadership policies set at the highest level, that set the expectation that you can fuck with the apparently less powerful without any risk of retribution.

It's not altruism that provokes this derisive horselaugh on my part; it's not altruistic at all. It's a "there but for the Grace of God" moment. If you do not stand up at such times, when it's both relitively easy and cheap enough to afford casually - how can you expect support from others, when you are looking down the gun-barrel of justice perverted for the profit of others?

And I guaren-damn-tee you that the less you care about crap like this happening to others, the more likely it becomes that it will happen to you and yours. And if you never stood up before, what right will you have to expect anyone to stand up then? More to the point - there may well be too few left to make a difference.

When you stand up for the rights of others you ARE standing up for your rights. And if you fail to do so then - you have allowed an exception to be made, and that exception will be expanded at every opportunity until you are included.

If you have not been paying attention, that's been happening for some time already. And if this case is not egregious enough for you to finally stand up, regardless of your political affiliation, regardless of issues such as the "war on terr" that you may well hold to be an overriding priority, you don't deserve rights.

ANYONE who wishes you to be too terrified to assert your human rights and your dignity in the face of authority IS a terrorist. You must confront them, you must deny them; ideally you should kill them, for that is exactly what your president has told you to do.

Oh, and I should also point out that for every woman in a war-zone who is intimidated by the futility of resorting to the "proper channels" - well, that same woman is also painfully aware of alternate means.

Speaking as an individual, who has experienced authority abouse by this sort of alpha male who asks the rhetorical quetion "whatcha gonna do about it," I can state that such rhetorical questions generally have sudden and violent answers. But the verbal version is "you have to sleep sometime, and you have to trust me to cover your ass."

Let me spell this out for you, you who don't quite get this: if you pervert justice, so that those you perceive as being "weaker" have no recorse, and at the same time, you have trained a substantial number of these people to be perfectly sanguine about putting a bullet in the ear of "an enemy of the people," much less hooking their testicles up to a car battery, what happens if it crosses their mind that they have nothing personal against "them," but a large grudge against YOU?

Geeze, what might it possibly mean that they have decided to carry a captured, totally deniable AK instead of an issue weapon?

What part of "Sam Colt made all men equal" did you fail to understand? Are you unaware that in English, "man" means "person" by default?

And if this is all true of a woman in regular army service - how foolish is it to ignore these truths if you are a mercenary unit renowned for it's casual indifference toward human life. You, too, are human, and sauce for the goose is SURELY sauce for the gander.

And that, sir, is very much a gender specific refereance. A very, very, old one, probably with some explict intent referring to the amusingly ironic ill use of nether orifices.

When you place women in combat and either arm them or place them within easy access to arms and then treat them as if they were unarmed victims - you had best be prepared for what happens next.

If you have made appeal to authority and chain of command futile - as a matter of apparent policy - you had best be even better prepared. Women - as a class, as a statement that is only valid in a strictly limited, statistical sense - MAY be easier to push around.

It's the individual variations that will kill you individually dead. And as a general class, they will not engage in stupid pissing contests before committing to deadly violence. Again, as a general rule, they will submit - or they will appear to submit just long enough for you to let your guard down.

In that case, count yourself lucky if they put a bullet behind your ear first.

There is a reason for law and order, and there is a reason why intelligent males make sure that the women in their lives (and by extension, in general) feel both safe and secure, and never, EVER allow them to think of us as being more of a threat or less of a protector than the stranger across the street.

Women - and this, again, is a genetic and statistical statement that you could manage to dance around your entire life in specific cases - just as you could easily avoid any relationship with a true alpha male. As a class, women have only one genetically - programmed, unavoidable use for men. Men who casually ignore this truth, making it clear that they are neither good protectors nor good choices for breeding will register in the female hindbrain as being utter wastes of skin.

So, such a person had better be very impressive to the forebrain. It does generally call the shots, unless it's a life or death matter.

Oh, right. Combat. Targeting priorities. Circumstances in which the forebrain is along in an observational capacity, in order to write the after-action report. Gee whiz; what if her combat computer calculates her odds of completing a tour sane and intact are improved by you becoming a dead hero?

It is starting to cause me to wonder to myself, how many women in the army have felt it both prudent and necessary to promote a particular colleague to the afterlife without benefit of paperwork. Oh, wait, how silly of me to misremember what is a fine old military tradition, one that explains the otherwise oddly dismal odds of butterbars surviving their first combat action.

It's certainly not difficult to rig an IED, nor is it at all hard to shoot someone "accidentally" in the fog of combat. Hell, that happens all too often, even when you aren't aiming.

So, if you prove to any one of your squadmates that you have less than the usual right to live and you are not blessed with all kinds of compensatory talents for preserving the asses of others, your odds of taking a full mag of 7.62 from the nuts up have gone up exponentally.

If you are a mercenary in a unit with women who ascribe to mercentary values -square that.

Remember - you were bought with money. Given that, what would you do to actually protect your chance to enjoy spending it?

If that's true for you - it's true for her. Even if she's "just a clerk." If she's actually armed as a matter of standard practice, don't even fucking contemplate the idea. Odds are, it's the last fuck you will ever enjoy. She'll kill you if she's feeling charitable and daring. Otherwise, she will simply fuck with your intelligence - and your charred corpse may well be seen for fifteen seconds on cnn.

It is a fact that one of the most effective ways to loosen lips is to shove a penis between them.

Oh, and karma is such an indiscriminate thing, you know. It's really a survival grade matter to ensure that people likely to attract enemy fire find it in isolation.

And that is why first sergeants have sidearms.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Fox News Documentary: Bush is SO like Abraham Lincoln

Baghdad Bob Sez: I heart Fox News!



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Command Rape: Unofficial Policy?

VIDEO | Military Sexual Violence: Command Rape is a compelling video presented by Truthout.org. This paragraph gives a small insight into the topic:

Three days before her actual redeployment, she was packed and ready to go, she had her car keys in her hand, and she turned to me and said, "I don't think I can do this." I was shocked but knew any type of coercion on my part would not help, so I said, "Are you serious?" She replied, "I just can't do it, Mom." She could not go back there to the misery. She told me that being separated from her family and living and breathing Army for a year at a time in a war zone was a constant source of distress for her. Where nobody cares whether you live or die as long as you do what you are told and they look good afterwards. Nor could she handle another deployment, dealing with the daily hour-to-hour sexual harassment that she endured from 99% of her male officers and fellow soldiers. The isolation and fear of being attacked, harassed, molested and raped was a huge part of her life in Iraq. She was always full of anxiety and stress just keeping herself safe when her commanding officers would show up banging on her door in the middle of the night, intoxicated and wanting to have sex with her. The intimidation and sexual harassment that our female soldiers are enduring is leading to massive stress and in some cases even death for our military women in Iraq. They are not supported but shamed when they bring these to the attention of their superiors.

I TOOK A DEEP BREATH and I told her either way she is my hero and I will support her decision. She decided that she was going to go AWOL and to leave the Army.


Now, as a retired female officer points out in the video, this crap is simple to deal with. You make it clear that if shit like this happens, or even seems to be happening, heads roll - starting with the head of the unit commander and the first Sargent.

Remember, the Army doesn't have to "prove" a goddamn thing in order to discipline an officer for failing to "maintain unit cohesion." Hell, they don't even have to give a reason for "promoting" an officer to command of a "corrosion prevention unit" in Alaska. It is an authoritarian society, and what happens happens or does NOT happen is entirely due to whether or not the Authorities wish it to occur or not.

IF you care about rape of female soldiers, you make it clear that cases, if fully proven, will result in hard time in Leavenworth, not administrative slaps on the wrist. You make it clear that if rape is suspected, but unproven, that the very least that will happen is that more effective leadership will be found for the unit in question, while the unit itself will find itself doing most unpleasant collective penance for the sins of the fellows they have chosen to shield. And you make it extremely clear that if a rape DOES occur in a unit, it had goddamn well better be brought to light as a result of command authority, not in spite of it, or heads will not just roll, they will be used as soccer balls.

The armed forces definitely do pass the word on such matters when it matters, one really has to wonder if in this case, the idea IS to drive women out of the military - along with gays and persons of insufficiently evangelical faith, persons who also have been subject to such unwelcome attentions that also seem to be "unofficial" official policy.

Why, it's almost as if the army were trying to purge itself of anyone likely to have objections to things that reasonable persons might object to, like rape and torture. Certainly if they won't defend a squadmate from rape, civilians are shit outta luck. And I betcha that's the plan and this is how you go about creating a hard core of utterly soulless followers; create situations that reasonable people KNOW they should object to - torture, rape, harrassment of all sorts - make them complicit in it, even if only by silence - and then they will be easily led down the slippery slope to complete moral depravity.

Of course, this does open the question as to why one would want an army composed of and led by white, superficially Christian, socially conservative, reflexively obedient white people.

Hm. What does the phraise "I was just obeying orders" bring to your mind?

More importantly - how DID that work out?

Such comparisons are supposedly odious. More to the point though, they are beside the point - pointing out that a sin or a stupidity is unoriginal serves little point, especially if people tend to think that UNorignal sins are somehow justified by being routine.

Ultimately, we are all accountable to ourselves and our consciences - which is for ethical persons leaves a lot less theoretical wiggle room than "being accountable before God."

But the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust - as the Bible points out. Equally are we gifted with the consequences of our own choices. So if you take only one thought from this, take this; sins that are committed wholesale are repaid retail.

Every casual injustice, every callus act, every clear violation of standards of decent behavior will be noted somewhere, by someone, and as each instance adds up, those someones add up as well. Sooner or later, statistically, one such straw will land somewhere that will cause an action or predispose a decision.

And even if no-one other than you knows of an injustice or atrocity that you will never be truly held accountable for in this life; all I can say is, "you poor motherless bastard. Without atonement there is no redemption."

That's not bible or, indeed any particular faith speaking - that's human nature. Sometimes the worst punishments are the ones we extract from ourselves for our unspoken and unspeakable sins.

This sort of stress results in what we refer to as PTSD, and we know well the toll it takes. And yet, our Lords and Masters seem obvious to the toll in human life and tortured souls their ambitions require - leaving one to be tempted to think they are not human, have no souls themselves and take dark joy in their unholy harvest.

But that, I think, would be to give them too much credit. And certainly they do not give enough credit to the potential liablity of thousands of extremely pissed off women and their mothers, as they start to realize that it wasn't JUST official embarrassment or indifference, but arguably the result of policy decisions made by grossly irresponsible men undeserving of the respect they think they deserve, much less the rank and offices they hold.

And understand this: Accountable they are, and accountable they will be. This is a fact of the universe which is apparent to any observer over time; "as you sew, so shall you reap."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

An Odor of Sanctimony

Romney Drops Out of GOP Race - The Fix:
"'If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win,' he said. 'And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.'"
Don't you just want to slap him until all the phony cracks and falls away?

On Praising McCain with Fainter Damns...

A Litmus Test For Hard-Core Conservatives:
"Although it is not on the agenda and I suspect a goodly number of CPAC members would deny it, the biggest issue facing this crowd is whether to embrace McCain, who has been the subject of vitriolic attacks by Coulter, among other right-wing demagogues, over not being conservative enough.

As I have written early and often, as the presumptive nominee, McCain cannot win the November election without at least the tacit support of CPACers."



You know, I like to think of myself as a Conservative-ish sort of person - but apparently that particular C-Word has become as slimy, slippery and difficult to apply as that other Big Cee word (the one with the very same litmus tests, it seems); "Christian."

Now, there are ways in which I think McCain is far too willing to compromise Conservatism; but all my caviats have to do with intrusive big government and foreign warfare - aside from being more of a flip-flopper than Kerry ever was.

As far as I am concerned, it's the very antithesis of Conservatism to pee in a cup for ANYONE, much less kneel holding it before self-appointed arbiters of Conservatism, such as Coulter and Malkin to delicately taste.

The only proper response to such a request is to pee on their shoes. Getting elected at the price of the ability to do anything consistent with any identifiable set of values - much less personal honor or integrity - is a price no Real Conservative - or indeed, any person of conscience - will abide. Of course, this will not put you in a place of power - but if you HAD to sell your concience and your own freedom, you won't really be in a place of power. You will simply be a shill - and not even a well-paid shill by modern standards.

Coulter, for one, makes more money for far less effort than even George Bush gets by with.

As the contest comes down to sussing out which candidate of all presented on each side has the most ... erm ... flexibility; the most room for interpretation of intent in their rhetoric, the less interested I am in throwing away my vote by voting.

Increasingly, as the field narrows, excluding those with principle in favor of those with corporate support and not even particularly well-hidden sponsorships, I'm losing interest. Well, the only way to vote "none of the above" is to not vote at all. That is the only way to deny a plurality to everyone who participated.

As I'm on the topic of the meaningless of the duties of citizenship, let me advocate a constitutional amendment that would require that 25% of the affected population must vote with a minimum of 90% confidence in the accuracy of the tally for the election to be valid.

If elections fail three times - a constitutional convention is called and the federal government is put in abeyance.

Yeah, wishful thinking.

The business of business is the bottom line: The bottom line is human value.

It's a very simple idea, so very simple that only a Harvard business degree and a few years of martini lunches could conceal it from you. Alternet articulates:

Immigrants Come Here Because Globalization Took Their Jobs Back There

By Jim Hightower, Hightower Lowdown. Posted February 7, 2008.

Excerpt from Page 2:

Although you never hear it mentioned in debates on the issue, you might start with this reality: Most Mexican people really would prefer to live in their own country. Can we all say, duh? Pedro Martin, who has seen most of the young men and women in his small village depart for El Norte, put it this way: "Up north, even though they pay more, you're not necessarily living as well. You feel out of place. Here you can walk around the whole town, and it's comfortable. Life is easier."

Their family, language, culture, identity and happiness is Mexican -- yet sheer economic survival requires so many of them to abandon the place they love.

Again, why? Because in the last 15 years, Mexico's longstanding system of sustaining its huge population of poor citizens (including small self-sufficient farms, jobs in state-owned industries and subsidies for such essentials as tortillas) has been scuttled at the insistence of U.S. banks, corporations, government officials and "free market" ideologues. In the name of "modernizing" the Mexican economy, such giants as Citigroup, Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and GE -- in cahoots with the plutocrats and oligarchs of Mexico -- have laid waste to that country's grass-roots economy, destroying the already-meager livelihoods of millions.

The 1994 imposition of NAFTA was particularly devastating. Just as Bill Clinton and the corporate elites did here, Mexico's ruling elites touted NAFTA as a magic elixir that would generate growth, create jobs, raise wages and eliminate the surge of Mexican migrants into the United States. They were horribly wrong.
"Wrong" would imply a widespread, honest confusion about the reality of supply and demand; the impact of restricting access to markets and using the power of government and vertically integrated economies to gain control over entire market sectors, with the ability to dictate wages and prices.

A better term would be - if one is willing to be charitable - a self-deceptive masturbatory fantasy for those who's idea of "winning" dictates that there be "losers."

That's not capitalism, it's theft. In any truly capitalistic exchange, in any truly free market exchange, every party walks away with a profit defined in terms they most value.

Now, a little fraud and graft is tolerable - but not when it's the dominant form of business and governance. Society, business, culture and indeed, the public peace all depend upon people being confident that their investment of power and tax money will bring an adequate and just return for them and a better life for their children.

We are not speaking of an abstract "value," of luxuries and indulgences. We are literally counting in terms of the statistics of life and death, quality of life indexes, infant mortality rates, the incidence of stress-related disorders and of course, the great American sport of "going postal."

All of these things are the consequence of a system of accounting that neglects the consequences of where the money comes from, where it goes, and what it does between here and there.

People do work for you. People buy things from you. People invest in your ideas. If you are hurt, out of work, or just want a decent lunch that hasn't been spat in by an unhygienic slave laborer with a constant, low grade infection - that is also a "People thing."

So the welfare of the people you and your business depend on IS your business.

Literally.

No successful business, nation or economy has ever been or could be a "zero-sum" operation. The result has to be better that what could be done by subsistence-level individuals or small groups. Fortunately, this is pretty easy; the sum is greater than the parts. But only if the person or group in overall charge recognizes that every one of the parts must be visibly better off than they were before being made part of "the sum."

They are your suppliers, your workers, your consumers and your relations, they are your cousins, your customers, your publicity, your quality control; they do everything that you cannot do to make or do whatever is that, as an Important Executive, you do.

The welfare of the country you are based in and live makes your business possible. And even if you "offshore" your business, that simply means that you have another, probably more needy population to be responsible to and for.

You couldn't do it without them. Indeed, there wouldn't be any point, because given an entire business community like you, the only people able to afford your product would be those who were competing with you, or unwilling to settle for your plebeian, mass-produced substitute for craftsmanship.

The fact is, only an economy as robust and as huge as that of North America as a whole could have withstood the depredations and outright looting cheer-led by the Regan Revolution.

Well, the Irish might have been able to "make do" by taking in each other's laundry, but it's pretty much impossible to make do by taking in each other's bullshit.

Without people willing to do for you, you would be doing something far less important-seeming. If you wish it put more charitably, and in all honesty, with equal accuracy; the very real skills you have in critical thinking, decision-making and entrepreneurial risk-taking are worthy of great reward and recognition - but not so much reward that it costs people more to have you around than doing whatever it is you do than to make do for themselves.

You can conceal a negative value for a while, by monetizing the rewards and taking out the costs in seeming intangibles and indirect consequences - but remember, all your peers are doing the same thing - and being forced into gated enclaves filled with Stepford Republicans as an inevitable consequence.

The definition of a "ghetto" is a place where a certain sort of person is forced to live, for fear of the consequences of straying. It may be well-padded, filled with comforts and luxuries - but the more concentrated you are, the more obvious it becomes that it might be more profitable to loot the place than to depend on you for a job.

The US religion of Evangelical Reganomic corporatism has brought matters to that point. The vast majority of people in this nation would be better off if they were rid of people who think of them as a class to be manipulated and exploited.

We have been here before, and I would have thought that the results of dealing with the matter before would have been obvious - even to a Harvard MBA. The post-war "economic miracle" was no miracle, it was the result of people centered policies. Ironically enough, it was a great time to do business, if your idea of the point of being in business was to build a business. Of course, if your entire goal was to suck all the economic value from the area around you into your own pockets, leaving the company and the entire region an empty husk - well, that would be the more "modern" pattern; the ethics of Enron, the values of Ted Haggard, the vision of "trickle-down" voodoo economics.

But I guess you just can't put a price on a good education, the wonders it does perform. Apparently the real magic of Harvard (and Yale, of course) is four years of the conscientious elimination of conscience and the inculcation of an ethic that considers the only ethical duty of a company to be to it's shareholders - and even then, only to the extent that they are more likely to catch you fiddling with the books.

But shareholders are not the only people that invest in or make sacrifices for companies, and increasingly, the neglect of that reality is coming due. It's not just shareholders, it's "stakeholders." And if you look around the business community you will find that the most enduring, most genuinely successful people and businesses are those who understand that if you wanna get, you gotta give, that the only honest deal is where both sides walk away feeling better than they did walking in and that the worker is worthy of his hire - and her self-respect.

I mean, if you don't believe me, ask Armand Hammer. The man has made billions by being ethical. Not in spite of it, because of it.

But then, Hammer has never tried to compete with sociopaths - and it's a sad fact that is the current corporate ideal, despite the clear idiocy of trying to shackle sociopaths to the corporate plough.

People always seem to make the mistake that no mater what the values expressed by the leader of a "team" or a "corporation," that loyalty will buy them an exception from the application of misrule.

Not hardly, not ever, not once in the history of human civilization has this ever been true. The tales of Gilgamesh illustrate this point, if Shakespeare and the Bible are too current for your tastes.

But oddly enough, they don't teach much history or literature to MBA candidates, and no critical thinking that doesn't involve spreadsheets.

Even so, it should be obvious to the great majority that the current situation is unsustainable; an economic and social disaster approaching like a slow-motion avalanche. Just as the Great Depression, the people who will be most completely crushed will be those who are the imprudent and the foolish, the gamblers and the grifters.

Our nation - indeed, our continent - is in an economic position where we cannot afford people who cost us more than the contribute. If that's possibly true of an illegal immigrant flipping burgers, how much more true is it of some party apperatchnk like Chertoff or Brown; pundits as incompetent as Kristol or vicious and vapid twits like Malkin and Coulter?

The people with influence, who trade on their influence, who have profited by the appearance of influence - well, this is where we are, based on the directions they gave. Quo Bono?

Should they not share in the negative profit their hard work has brought to us all?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Authoritarian Personality Disorder Victims want to regulate fat people.

This is a textbook case of APD, if I've ever seen one - the idea that intruding in the lives of other people and messing with their business and their caloric intake will be a good thing to do.

It's said that Mississippi has an undeserved reputation for inbreeding; perhaps that's true, but nonetheless, such disorders do run in families.

Hell, that's why I ran as far as I could from mine.
ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES:

Three legislators in Mississippi want to make restaurants into an obesity police:

House Bill No. 282, which was introduced this month, says: Any food establishment to which this section applies shall not be allowed to serve food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health after consultation with the Mississippi Council on Obesity Prevention and Management established under Section 41-101-1 or its successor. The State Department of Health shall prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese, and shall provide those materials to all food establishments to which this section applies. A food establishment shall be entitled to rely on the criteria for obesity in those written materials when determining whether or not it is allowed to serve food to any person.

The proposal would allow health inspectors to yank the permit from any restaurant that "repeatedly" feeds extremely overweight customers.

The article also points out that about two thirds of Mississippians are thought to be overweight.

The proposal is most unlikely to pass, of course. But it's pretty disgusting and also politically stupid, given the numbers of overweight voters in the state. I now want to know the body weights of those three legislators. Also their alcohol consumption levels, their exercise patterns, the kinds of things they eat and whether they have ever been rude to little children or the elderly. Indeed, I want to know all their failings and I want them made public so that we can all police them appropriately.

Why not just put some kind of a sticker on fat people? Then we all know whom to taunt and despise, for their own good, of course.
The source article gives us a name and political affiliation, but only one of the three, but the bill itself is hyperlinked, to helpful biographies and legislative records. I'm not sure these folks should be minding the health of other folks - the two Republicans and one Democrat all remind me that I've seen better-preserved specimens pickled in formaldehyde.
Principal Author: Mayhall
tmayhall@house.ms.gov

Additional Authors: Read, Shows

jread@house.ms.gov

bshows@house.ms.gov

Oh, and an examination of the legislation of each member shows that this excretion is about par for the course, both in terms of significance, and in general tone. Seems that not one of them has seen a problem that can't be fixed by a law intended to forbid something, or make it compulsory.

But I have a modest proposal, not just modest, but modestly amusing. I invite a representative selection of the electorate of each district to descend upon their offices and hold an eat-in.

This seems to be JUST the sort of stupidity that should be discussed in a representative's office over takeout Chinese, pizza and Mexican.

UPDATE: According to this report, via YouTube, the legislators were "Just trying to get some attention."

Yeah, that's probably what I would say too after the mockery started.

Free Myspace Survey Tool

Do you like Free Blog Tools?



I denied your friend request - originalgear.netFree blog toys are always fun, and I have a couple of "myspace" type sites, so free myspace surveys have some interest for me. Not so much for this site, because, despite the implications of creating this poll, on the topic of politics, I pretty much don't give a damn about what you think.

I say that because I'm an aspie blogging about ethics. I know I'm either right or not, and either way, your opinion will not affect my views. Reasoned persuasion, perhaps, but nothing that can be put into a form of any sort will matter much.

However, there are other things that I do (and maybe you do too) where these things are fun, like Myspace. It does require javascript, so it may be a problem with some hosts. With blogger, you just paste it into a sidebar module - and let us hope it formats better there. OTOH, blogger has it's own poll module. But this code with remote tracking could be handy if you were pasting across multiple sites.

It offers both yes/no and multiple choice questions, and you can keep quite a few open at once. It's by no means as powerful as paid solutions... but you don't have to pay, and it doesn't subject your viewers to truly intrusive ads.

































free pollsNow that the field of candidates have thinned, are you still interested in the primaries
Heck Yes!
Yeah. I'll keep up with it.
Ehh.
Kinda losing interest.
Nope. I lost the pony I was betting on.






<a href="http://www.hangamble.com/">milf</a>
Now, the little tiny link at the bottom is how they pay for the service. I had to bust into the code so you could see what it was - and not futz with my Google page ranking, because that's the sorta thing that could get you downgraded.

But for a personal or hobby page, that's not much of a worry, and completely beside the point for any Myspace-type site. And it IS html, not a compulsory link, so you can edit it right out if you have a mind to. I checked their Terms of Service to see what they said about that. It's brief and I quote in it's entirety; " ".

They may need to fix that.

Shirt illustration courtesy of OriginalGear.net

It's almost time for your ritual squishing.

It came up in my email, the fact that I'd sold a pink tie with this design. And that made me go - oh, yes, it IS that time, isn't it?

And with two women in the household, neither of which are particularly inclined to go, and will not go without a hand-holding, this is a logistically difficult time, so the reminder is welcome.

Now, if you would like to use these graphics for your blog, it's both free and legal. And it's ok with me even if you copy the images and upload them, but you can remote source them by simply going to my Webcarve store (link below) and picking the graphic you want, choosing the "link to this" option, and then choosing the options you'd like.

If you actually sign up, you could possibly make a few dollars for yourself or any cause you would like to benefit. (An obvious one leaps to mind, of course.)

I've got a number of Zazzle products available, just in case, and the markups are low enough that someone else bought a ton of stickers, and customized them. So I figured, you might want to do the same, and I'm willing to set up a custom product for any US or Canadian group that asks me.

I mainly have my Zazzle account to illustrate my blog, and it works just as well for any other group. Furthermore, your group could just make a few nickels to help the cause. If you'd like your own zazzle store, I'd be happy to set it all up for you, but I have no idea what I did with the original for this design, so you'd need to supply your own.

This is the design I'm most proud of, as it has a much more personal feel to it. I admit it, I'm a guy, and breasts have a certain thing that they do to the male brain. I'm given to understand that they are equally vital to a woman, emotionally - but that's an intellectual understanding. This captures my visceral feeling. It was originally created on a men's black shirt, and I still think that's the best, but if you are a woman, there's a choice of several pink tees.

I happen to think that's sexist. I look awsome in pink.

Thinking about a Colonial Progression?

The current US economy makes a visit to the Colonies very attractive, but of course Homeland Security is doing it's best to give a hearty Eff Youse to those of you who wish to bring pockets bulging with pounds and euros our way. But there's a way around that.

Dialaflight.com offers cheap flights to Toronto, which as geographically unimpaired persons, you will realize is not at all far from The Other Side of the River. And trust me, international arrivals in any US destination - especially east coast - are best avoided. So do as we Colonials do and use the closest neighbor as your international airport of choice. Then simply take the train. Customs is ever so much easier that way.

Once you are on The Other Side, of course, you will be able to travel via the eastern seaboard's extensive commuter rail network, so you won't need to rent a car and try to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Besides, a proper east or west coast tour includes either Toronto and parts east or Vancouver and South. If you are coming from the UK, Victoria is probably a bit of a busman's holiday. But there's much to see and do in Vancouver - and at this time of the year, you can Ski-hop all the way down the Cascades and Rockies from there.

That last would be a vacation to remember for years. If you like the cold and the wet and the snow, that is to say.

Me, I'll be staying inside, cursing the beautiful fresh powder that is blanketing my yard with cartoon fluff that seems to have been dumped on me by God's special effects department. To me, it's cold toes and curses, but to Nevada's tourism industry - it's white gold. Honestly, I've never in my life seen snow like this - perfect dry powder. So if you are a ski-bunny, it's time to do the Tahoe.

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