Archive for January 2008

Islamic Public Relations

January 26, 2008

In Afghanistan recently Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, a reporter for a daily paper and a journalism student, thought he had freedom of speech.

He was wrong.

He downloaded an Iranian article which pointed out that Mohammad had ignored women’s fundamental rights. The young man was arrested and charged with blasphemy. It’s amazing how blasphemy and the truth are often the same thing. He’s been in prison for three months (so far) and was tried without a lawyer. Naturally, he was sentenced to death. He can appeal the decision, of course. He gets three appeals before they stand him against a wall and cut him in half with a Kalashnikov.

Kambakhsh probably won’t end up in front the Kalashnikovs. He has a brother who’s a reporter and Reporters Without Borders are on the job getting worldwide attention brought to this case.

This case. How many thousands are killed or terrified into silence because they know their brother herds goats and won’t be able to get their story on Reuters? The “Qatif Girl” got a reprieve from the Saudi king after being sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison for the crime of being raped. Her male protector was not a close relative, that’s a crime in Saudi Arabia. But she got off because some watchdog group noticed her case and she was saved. Thousands are not saved.

And here we have a case of a man sentenced to death for the crime of distributing an article which suggested that this bloody minded barbarism might be wrong.

It’s Islamic public relations in action. Again.


Bin Loony Speaks

January 17, 2008

A few days ago Huckabee said this in speech:

“I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And thats what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.”
Watch the video over at Crooks & Liars.

My fellow bloggers are shrieking, wailing and gnashing their teeth over this. Is the Huckster advocating the death penalty for mixed-fiber clothing? No. He’s not. He’s kissing the ass of the religious right loonies who–for the most part–have acknowledged that the freedom to marry whom you please and the freedom to make decisions about your own body are not technically abridged by the US Constitution and they feel that’s scandalous. The only real and permanent way to rob you of your rights is to change the Constitution in regards to gay marriage and abortion. They are authoritarian. Robbing you of your rights is what they are all about. Huckabee may or may not give two farts in the wind for those issues, but there’s a certain amount of ass he must kiss to get votes and he knows it.

The speech played well to its audience, though. They hate the US Constitution and would give anything to rewrite a big part of it beginning with the 1st Amendment–that is definitely the first thing to go–and moving right along to the 14th Amendment and Article VI. Freedom of religion? Are you crazy? They know which religion is correct and you don’t have a right to be wrong. Free speech? Well, sure. They are perfectly free to speak and you are perfectly free to listen. You are also freely permitted to say things they approve of. Don’t abuse that freedom by saying stuff they don’t like and everybody gets to stay free! Get it?

Yeah, we get it. And if the American people vote this creep into office they will definitely get it, too.

A Post After My Own Heart

January 15, 2008

You should check out the message board over at The Straight Dope. There’s little post about how we got our current stupid motto–“In God We Trust.”

With Jefferson’s nefarious plan finally revealed, the government was faced with the challenge of selecting a stupider, less tolerant motto to more accurately embody the national character. A list was compiled of various candidates such as “no loitering,” “if you’re so smart why ain’t you rich?” and “whites only.” However, at last “In God we trust,” a judiciously recycled version of the Confederate States of America’s motto “God will vindicate,” was chosen for its historical resonance, potential for divisiveness, and general inappropriateness.

Hat tip to Pharyngula

Musharraf as Banana Republic Dictator

January 13, 2008

I recently read an interview with “President” Pervez Musharraf. One of the first things that jumped out at me was that he really doesn’t give a damn whether you believe a word he says. He doesn’t have to. That’s what it means to be a dictator.

It has galled me from the beginning that the US is in bed with this pile of smoking shit. I have good memories of the bad old days when the US government propped up banana republic dictators in order to make the world safe for United Fruit Company. Most of the opposition to those guys were some flavor of socialist or communist. It was a cold war thing. We couldn’t have a communist ruling a nearby country. It was much better to have a cold blooded mass murder in charge. At least he would be a capitalist and that’s all that’s important. He wouldn’t be doing any evil atheist stuff like asking for fair wages for fruit pickers.

So here we are 40, 50 years later and we are sucking up to a new dictator. It bugs me.

I think one of the things that bugs me the most is that I understand it. Musharraf took over an elected government by way of a coup, that is true. But the elected government was so corrupt and inefficient that military dictatorship was a step up. Except for the fact that he immediately began granting rights instead of protecting them. Anything you are granted can be denied tomorrow. Tomorrow has come and he is cracking down. In true good news/bad news fasion, he is holding the line against Afghan Islamists. If Pakistan elected a government right now it would be Taliban-like and very hostile to the US–and they will have nukes.

Here is a map of the middle east including Pakistan:

Notice how Pakistan snuggles up against Afghanistan. It even shares some of its border with Iran. The ugly truth is, we need to land our planes in Pakistan. Most of Afghanistan is as welcoming and friendly as the face of the moon. So we suck up to a creep like Musharraf. It’s a stone cold reality that the safety and interests of the US are more important than the freedom of Pakistan. I think the middle east is a dangerous place. It’s not dangerous to us personally at the moment (other than BushCo sending our best and brightest to be killed there), but this isn’t the only moment there is.

With the Russians and their nukes we could sort of count on them not wanting mutually assured destruction. With Islamic fanatics, we can’t be sure of that. I hate the idea of kissing the ass of a brutal dictator. But this time there’s a bit more at stake than a few cheap bananas.

How Do We Know They Are Terrorists?

January 11, 2008

The answer is, we don’t. Nobody does.

You see, that’s what habeas corpus is for. You can’t drag someone off the street proclaim them to be a Bad Person and then take them away and lock them up for ever. We’ve been assured that Guantanamo is reserved for the “worst of the worst.” The question is, how do we know they are the worst?

We don’t.

Without lawyers, a trial, evidence, a judge and a jury, there’s no way to figure it out. Yeah, it’s true that sometimes bad guys go free and it’s true that sometimes innocent people go to jail. But the thing is, it works most of the time and we haven’t been able to figure out how to make it better.

Suspension of habeus corpus is the most terrifying thing BushCo. has done with our rights and freedoms. And if you think they are only doing it to foreign nationals, guess again.

I suggest you read this post:

New Evidence on Innocent Men at Gitmo
Over on Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Andrew Freekin’ Sullivan Likes Obama!

January 4, 2008

Sullivan is hardly a wild-eyed liberal!

Hillery vs Obama

January 4, 2008

I have been sitting on the fence about Hillery and Obama. I’d like a woman in the White House but . . . I don’t like Hillery and I think she can lose against a jingoistic hack like Huckabee. People who have enjoyed watching Bush use the constitution for toilet paper and who lust to do likewise find in Huckabee a soul mate.

I think Hillery is Bush in a dress but without all that transparent honesty to worry about. Fortunately I think she’s lying about being religious so the right wing loonies won’t be getting any favors from her, but that’s not enough. If it’s all I could get I would take it. A crack whore with her face in the toilet would be a wiser choice than Huckabee and Hillery is a few steps better than that. She might not insult our intelligence by trying to convince us that waterboarding isn’t torture. No, she’ll permit waterboarding and simply refuse to discuss it in any way. I’m afraid she’ll abuse power as much as or worse than Bush but unlike Bush, she’s smart. Bush is arrogant and stupid which is why he is adored by right-wingers. Hillary is smart and arrogant. Is that better? I don’t know.

Obama . . . is very religious. We will have had 8 years of the Pastor-in-Chief and I don’t want any more of that. I don’t think Obama’s lying about his religiosity, which is a pity. His religion doesn’t seem to be the debased and depraved version of James Dobson or Huckabee. The bloodthirsty monster they worship doesn’t seem to be Obama’s cup of tea–a point in his favor.

And of course, it’s impossible to tell, but Obama appears to not be an open and blatant crook. I could be wrong. They might find a half million in his freezer a month after he takes office, but he SEEMS honest at this point. I listened to one of his speeches on YouTube and he said everything I want to hear. He blatantly and openly mentioned national health care. We MUST do that. Hillery will not get us national health care, something will come up and she won’t be able to. She’ll fail in such a way that she can blame the evil right wing conspiracy. Obama may not get us health care either, but somehow I think he will actually make a serious effort.

A compassionate conservative is someone who will not kick you before they step over your body. A compassionate liberal is someone who will call 911 and stay with you in the emergency room–and then insist the government pay the bill. Obama seems like the latter–at least he says stuff to make you think so. Hillery will talk a good emergency room but somehow your body will still be in the street at the end of the day.

The one thing I’m going to be listening for is fearmongering. It’s time for American citizens to buck up and stop acting like a bunch of cowards. Frightened people don’t mind pitching their civil liberties out the window in order to feel a little safer. It will not increase their safety–in fact it will leave us in a much more dangerous situation than a bunch of jihadies ever could. Whoever is president of the United States has more power at his or her disposal than any other person in the world. It’s ben Laden’s wet dream. A jerk with a bomb strapped to his chest can kill a thousand people if he’s standing in the right place. The US president can wipe out the planet, every man, woman and child. Al Qaeda would love to turn the US into a police state. It’s never going to happen. But the president of the US can do it with a few strokes of a pen. It’s what Bush has been doing bit by bit.

You want to know why Bush & Co. likes to talk about waterboarding? Because it makes you afraid. He’s never going to waterboard you, but he might. He certainly could. All that’s required is for someone to declare you an enemy combatant. No need to prove it or even define what that means. Off you go. Being so afraid of your government you will do whatever they say is the beginning of a police state. It’s not something that’s going to happen. It’s something that’s happened already.

I don’t think Hillery will reverse that. Oh, she may not use it but my feeling is that she will tuck it away for hard times. I think Obama will reverse all that. I think he’ll get rid of it and try to make it impossible for any future president to ignore the laws of this country like Bush has done. There’s no way to know for sure. He may finish selling us down the river but I don’t think so.

If anybody has a working crystal ball, feel free to let us know.