Friday, December 19, 2014

Don't forget to vote!

There are three days left to vote for your favorite short story (which is The Silver Key) at Chilling Tales for Dark Nights. Santa says, "Ho, ho, ho. I'm not saying you'll definitely get a lump of coal if you don't vote for The Silver Key, but it's never a good idea to disappoint Santa."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The U.S. gives the international community a big middle finger

This is a very interesting and disturbing tidbit of information that I’m sure few Americans know about. In 2002, the American Service-Member’s Protection Act (ASPA) was passed by Congress and became federal law. Sponsored by notorious racist Jesse Helms (R-NC) and the slimy Tom DeLay (R-TX), the law aims “to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party.”

The law states that the president must us “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.” It prohibits extradition of any U.S. citizen to the Court. In other words, the United States has declared itself above international law and should the International Criminal Court even attempt to convict an American, the law gives the President the power to invade the Netherlands to free the accused.

The law becomes relevant as more and more evidence of American’s using torture comes to light. Despite breaking international laws and treaties, the perpetrators can be assured that they will never be held accountable by the rest of the world. In fact, the law was created specifically because the government knew that there were illegal tactics being used by the CIA and the military in the early years of the war on terror. The ASPA was a “cover our ass” law to protect Americans from justice.

Is it as discouraging to you as it is to me that I live in a country that feels the need to pass such a law?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Obey, Good Citizen

A cop with the City of Mishawaka Police in Indiana is producing a T-shirt with the slogan, “Breath Easy: Don’t Break the Law.” Although he denies it, it is a clear reference to the last words of Eric Garner as a NYPD policeman was chocking him to death, “I can’t breath.” The shirts producer, John Barthel, claims that it is merely telling citizens that they can breath easy because the police are there to protect you. Right.

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was Shephard Fairley’s ubiquitous “Obey” stickers and posters closely linked to Orwell’s 1984. All you must do, good citizen, is obey and everything will be fine. Clearly, the scary part of this is the mentality behind this thinking, which equates obedience with subjugation and law breaking with terrorism.

If only the issue was as simple as Barthel wants us to believe. In Barthel’s make-believe world, there is no such thing as racism or racial profiling or different rules for different populations and everyone is treated equal under the law. The fantasy is that if you are a good little citizen, you will never have any trouble from the police. Justice is blind. As we have seen from headline after headline over the past few months of police murdering people of color and getting away with it, Barthal’s hallucinogenic image of America and actual life on the streets are totally at odds.

“Breath Easy. Don’t Break the Law” is not “To Protect and Serve.” Police no longer see themselves as public servants but as the thin blue line between civility and anarchy, which has them constantly on a war footing and feeling above the laws they were hired to uphold. If Barthal’s sentiments are representative of the average cop, America’s law enforcement community is in serious need of an attitude adjustment.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Vote for me!

No I haven't decided to throw my hat into the ring for the upcoming Presidential election despite the overwhelming chorus of voters urging me to run (as far away as possible). I was notified last night that I am one of 12 finalists in a short story contest at Chilling Tales for Dark Nights. The winner is determined by votes, so if you are so inclined, you can go there to vote for The Silver Key. Thanks in advance.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheney the Heartless

What words can you use to describe a man who swears that torture works, when there is not a shred of evidence to corroborate that claim, says that given the opportunity he’d torture people again, and who blithely dismisses the fact that innocent people were tortured and murdered in America’s name? Could it be…Satan?

Dick Cheney isn’t Satan, but he is one of the most despicable humans on the planet. On top of his disgusting, full-throated defense of torture, the man was absolutely eager to throw his former boss (in title only) George Bush under the bus by letting the world know that he was fully aware of every dark and dirty deed committed by the CIA.

Obviously, Cheney the Heartless is playing the only card he has in his deck. He has no choice but to aggressively defend his actions despite the insanity of that position. He committed international crimes against humanity, but he also knows that there is little to no chance that the current administration will do anything about it. For all his failings as a human being, and maybe because of them, Cheney is unmatched at political maneuvering and manipulation. Because torture was allowed to continue by Obama, the current president has no appetite to seek a path to justice that could eventually find its way back to him.

With the appointment of George Bush as President in 2000, Cheney and his merry band of neocons took advantage of their long desired opportunity to mold the executive branch into their warped image. The attack on the Twin Towers conveniently provided them with the opportunity to give the President new and unprecedented powers and at the same time send troops into the Middle East to settle old scores and take control of oil-rich lands. All of it has proven an utter disaster for this country and the rest of the world.

No, Dick Cheney isn’t Satan, but he has done more than any other single person to destroy all that was once seen as good about America, and turn this country into lawless, war-loving international pariah.

Friday, December 12, 2014

It’s the values, stupid

One of life’s great mysteries for me is trying to imagine what was going through the minds of voters in last November’s election when they pulled the lever or checked the box or poked the chad giving Republican’s control over both houses of Congress. They continuously rate Congress lower than anal cysts, but then turn around and vote for the very people who are responsible for government gridlock.

Thanks to Congressional Republicans, with some help from gutless Democrats, the latest spending bill that funds the government through the end of the fiscal year is packed with goodies for Wall Street and wealthy political donors, and of course, contains very little in the way of relief for the average citizen.

THIS IS WHAT YOU VOTED FOR! [Screams of frustration, the sounds of garments being rendered, head banging against wall] And there will be plenty more of these shenanigans over the next two years.

The only analysis that makes any sense to me is that values trump everything when it comes to elections. Red staters perceive that Republicans share their values, and that seems to be enough to earn a vote. Actions don’t play into the equation…or logic or common sense or even self-preservation. Add to this a corporate controlled media and I guess you have the recipe for conservative success. The reality that Republicans consistently side with the wealthy elites over the average voter doesn’t seem to be important.

In my opinion, the antidote is for Democrats to stop trying to be Republican light and start standing up for progressive values, which are values that can truly help struggling Americans. If progressives get their wish and Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders decide to run for President in the 2016 election, it will be a very interesting and telling race regarding the future direction of the Democratic Party.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The screaming of the weasels

It’s completely understandable if you’re confused about what year it is. Are we living in 2014 or 1214? If you are reading today’s headlines, you might think it’s the middle of the Dark Ages as the weasels who approved torture squeal out in their own defense. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, former CIA Directors Michael Hayden, George Tenet and Porter Goss and former Justice Department Attorney John Woo and others are flinging justifications for their illegal behavior as fast as the media will relay them.

Cheney, who treats any criticism with a disdainful “Fuck-you-and-the-horse-you-rode-in-on” sneer, called the Senate’s report a bunch of crap, and, true to form, brought up 9/11 as his magical justification for anything. Hayden said force feeding prisoners through rectal rehydration (shoving food up a person’s anus) was a benign medical procedure. Yoo tried to claim that the American people supported Bush’s post-9/11 actions, including torture.

The screaming of the weasels is a concerted effort on the part of a cadre of international criminals to justify the unjustifiable, and it all basically boils down to this: “If America does it, it’s not illegal.” It’s 2014 and we are still arguing the validity of torture.

I wish I had more faith that international justice would prevail, but like banks that are too big to fail, the individuals who authorized torture are probably too big to jail. They’ll continue making millions off of memoirs and speaking fees despite their horrendous crimes, while the families of those tortured and murdered at their hands will have only the memories of their loved ones to comfort them.