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The rich really are different
Aug 31st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

I hon­est­ly don’t under­stand how peo­ple can send their com­put­ers to be repaired for a month, have them come back, not work, and then send them back again. I hear that all the time about peo­ple and their Macs. If I’m down for two days I have to buy a new com­put­er. [Script­ing News]

It prob­a­bly has some­thing to do with most peo­ple not being mil­lion­aires who can afford to buy a new com­put­er at the drop of a hat.

Liberation, American style
Aug 30th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Killing in the Name of Democ­ra­cy. Pres­i­dent George W. Bush per­pet­u­al­ly invokes the goal of spread­ing democ­ra­cy to sanc­ti­fy his for­eign pol­i­cy. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he is only the lat­est in a string of pres­i­dents who cloaked aggres­sion in ide­al­is­tic rhetoric. Killing in the name of democ­ra­cy has a long and sor­did his­to­ry.

[…]

The great­est gift the Unit­ed States could give the world is an exam­ple that serves as a shin­ing city on a hill. As Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia pro­fes­sor Wal­ter McDougall observed, “The best way to pro­mote our insti­tu­tions and val­ues abroad is to strength­en them at home.” But there is scant glo­ry for politi­cians in restrain­ing their urge to “save human­i­ty.” The igno­rance of the aver­age Amer­i­can has pro­vid­ed no check on “run amok” politi­cians and bureau­crats. [The Future of Free­dom Foun­da­tion]

The arti­cle briefly cov­ers the Feds’ his­to­ry of “spread­ing democ­ra­cy” by mur­der­ing any­one who doesn’t do what Wash­ing­ton tells them, from the Spanish-American War to the present.

Fascism? Maybe. Bush? Definitely.
Aug 28th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

What Is Fas­cism? Writes Eric Mar­go­lis:

The best mod­ern def­i­n­i­tion I’ve read of fas­cism comes in for­mer Colom­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­fes­sor Robert Paxton’s superb 2004 book, ‘The Anato­my of Fas­cism.’

Pax­ton defines fascism’s essence, which he apt­ly terms its ‘emo­tion­al lava’ as: 1. a sense of over­whelm­ing cri­sis beyond reach of tra­di­tion­al solu­tions; 2. belief one’s group is the vic­tim, jus­ti­fy­ing any action with­out legal or moral lim­its; 3. need for author­i­ty by a nat­ur­al leader above the law, rely­ing on the supe­ri­or­i­ty of his instincts; 4. right of the cho­sen peo­ple to dom­i­nate oth­ers with­out legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of for­eign ‘con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.’

Fas­cism demands a suc­ces­sion of wars, for­eign con­quests, and nation­al threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anx­i­ety and patri­ot­ic hyper­ten­sion. Those who dis­agree are brand­ed ide­o­log­i­cal trai­tors. All suc­cess­ful fas­cists regimes, Pax­ton points out, allied them­selves to tra­di­tion­al con­ser­v­a­tive par­ties, and to the military-industrial com­plex.

High­ly con­ser­v­a­tive and mil­i­taris­tic regimes are not nec­es­sar­i­ly fas­cist, says Pax­ton. True fas­cism requires relent­less aggres­sion abroad and a semi-religious ado­ra­tion of the régime at home.” [LewRockwell.com Blog]

As a def­i­n­i­tion of fas­cism, it’s high­ly ques­tion­able, since it doesn’t address eco­nom­ics at all. It’s cer­tain­ly a very good descrip­tion of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and its sup­port­ers, though.

Obscure Freedom Fighters: Danie Theron
Aug 23rd, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Obscure Free­dom Fight­ers: Danie Theron. FROM TIME TO TIME in my read­ing, I come across sto­ries of impres­sive but little-known peo­ple who fought for free­dom in little-known places in his­to­ry. Peo­ple whose courage and deter­mi­na­tion should not be for­got­ten. William Wal­lace of 13th cen­tu­ry Scot­land is one exam­ple of such a per­son, large­ly unknown until a screen­writer also named Wal­lace noticed his mon­u­ment in Stir­ling and inquired who the man was. Anoth­er exam­ple is Boer sol­dier and scout Danie Theron. [Wolfes­blog]

I’ve read some gen­er­al his­to­ries of the Boer War, but this is the first time I’ve heard of Danie Theron. It sounds like his sto­ry would indeed make a good movie.

There was a time when Amer­i­cans hon­ored rebels who fought gueril­la cam­paigns against the British in our own war for independence–men such as Ethan Allen and Fran­cis Mar­i­on. But today, those men are all but for­got­ten as Amer­i­ca has become the ene­my that they fought against. I won­der if in anoth­er hun­dred years there will be stat­ues in Bagh­dad to some brave Iraqi rebel who fought to dri­ve out the Amer­i­can Empire.

More Airport Nazis
Aug 22nd, 2006 by Ken Hagler

the “crime” of Fly­ing While Mus­lim. For­get Snakes on a Plane, how about Islam­o­pho­bia on a plane?

First some British pas­sen­gers “mutinied” because two appar­ent­ly Mus­lim men were on the flight.

Then a Cana­di­an doc­tor was removed from a flight because a drunk pas­sen­ger thought his Mus­lim prayers were sus­pi­cious.

Now a British pilot was removed from a flight appar­ent­ly for being Mus­lim.

Where will this end? Muslim-only lines at the air­port?

Sara Robin­son at Orci­nus has some good com­men­tary on this:

There’s only one word for this. It’s vig­i­lan­tism, pure and sim­ple. It’s no dif­fer­ent than any oth­er kind of lynch mob. And it is beneath the dig­ni­ty of a civ­i­lized soci­ety…

…But there’s far more at stake here than meets the eye. If these vig­i­lante mobs are allowed to get their way on air­planes, what’s to stop them from tak­ing their show on the road? Are we going to see sub­way mobs assault­ing brown peo­ple on train plat­forms to “pre­vent” sub­way bomb­ings? Are resta­rauters going to find them­selves under pres­sure from upset din­ers not to hire — or seat — cer­tain “fright­en­ing” class­es of peo­ple? Will neigh­bor­hood groups press real­tors to stop sell­ing local homes to spe­cif­ic eth­nic groups, for fear prop­er­ty val­ues will drop? Or will they, per­haps, sub­ject “unde­sir­able” neigh­bors to harass­ment cam­paigns until they’re forced to move on?

This all sounds far-fetched — until you real­ize that we’re hard­ly forty years past an era when most of this was stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure in much of Amer­i­ca. Vig­i­lante jus­tice, racial seg­re­ga­tion in pub­lic accom­mo­da­tions, real estate redlin­ing, and sun­down towns are part of a past that we’ve worked hard to leave behind. It will be a dis­grace to all of us if we allow a few irra­tional bul­lies on air­planes put us on the road to bring­ing it all back.

This is some­thing that we should not allow to con­tin­ue. It is beneath us. [Al-Muhajabah’s Islam­ic Blogs]

“They hate us for our freedom?” What freedom?"> They hate us for our freedom?” What freedom?
Aug 22nd, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Back From the Mideast. One of the two men who approached me first, Inspec­tor Har­ris, asked for my id card and board­ing pass. I gave him my board­ing pass and driver’s license. He said “peo­ple are feel­ing offend­ed because of your t-shirt”. I looked at my t-shirt: I was wear­ing my shirt which states in both Ara­bic and Eng­lish “we will not be silent”. You can take a look at it in this pic­ture tak­en dur­ing our Jor­dan meet­ings with Iraqi MPs. I said “I am very sor­ry if I offend­ed any­one, I did­nt know that this t-shirt will be offen­sive”. He asked me if I had any oth­er T-shirts to put on, and I told him that I had checked in all of my bags and I asked him “why do you want me to take off my t-shirt? Isn’t it my con­sti­tu­tion­al right to express myself in this way?” The sec­ond man in a green­ish suit inter­fered and said “peo­ple here in the US don’t under­stand these things about con­sti­tu­tion­al rights”. So I answered him “I live in the US, and I under­stand it is my right to wear this t-shirt”.

Then I once again asked the three of them : “How come you are ask­ing me to change my t-shirt? Isn’t this my con­sti­tu­tion­al right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Ara­bic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Ara­bic script?” so inspec­tor Har­ris answered “you can’t wear a t-shirt with Ara­bic script and come to an air­port. It is like wear­ing a t-shirt that reads “I am a rob­ber” and going to a bank”. I said “but the mes­sage on my t-shirt is not offen­sive, it just says “we will not be silent”. I got this t-shirt from Wash­ing­ton DC. There are more than a 1000 t-shirts print­ed with the same slo­gan, you can google them or email them at wewillnotbesilent@gmail.com . It is print­ed in many oth­er lan­guages: Ara­bic, Far­si, Span­ish, Eng­lish, etc.” Inspec­tor Har­ris said: “We cant make sure that your t-shirt means we will not be silent, we don’t have a trans­la­tor. Maybe it means some­thing else”. I said: “But as you can see, the state­ment is in both Ara­bic and Eng­lish”. He said “maybe it is not the same mes­sage”. So based on the fact that Jet Blue doesn’t have a trans­la­tor, any­thing in Ara­bic is sus­pi­cious because maybe it’ll mean some­thing bad! [Raed in the Mid­dle]

I guess those neo­cons who com­plain that “air­port secu­ri­ty” isn’t ras­cist enough don’t have to wor­ry after all. And if they don’t want peo­ple to com­pare the US gov­ern­ment to Nazi Ger­many, maybe they should stop push­ing it in that direc­tion.

Also, note this account of Raed’s vis­it to a Lebanese refugee camp:

The oth­er thing you can’t miss in Jor­dan and Syr­ia is people’s anger against the US. On more than occa­sion, I got shout­ed at because I live in the US. The most inter­est­ing inci­dent was dur­ing a vis­it to a Lebanese refugee camp. I was called by two young Lebanese peo­ple, and they asked me whether me and the rest of the del­e­ga­tion vis­it­ing their shel­ter where com­ing from the US. I said yes. They said: “you bet­ter get the hell out of here unless you want us to make a scene”. I tried to explain that we are the “good” Amer­i­cans who are against the war, so they said go back home and change your gov­ern­ment. “you can’t come here vis­it us in a shel­ter that we were sent to because of your tax mon­ey and your bombs, and expect us to be nice to you”. So me and the oth­er Amer­i­cans got the hell out of there.

Of course this is why peo­ple real­ly hate the US.

Why people don’t like cops
Aug 21st, 2006 by Ken Hagler

Another Forfeiture Outrage.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that police may keep the $124,700 they seized from Emiliano Gonzolez, an immigrant who by all appearances was attempting to use the money to start a legitimate business.

This is an outrageous ruling. Consider:

  • Gonzolez was never charged with any crime in relation to the money, much less convicted.

  • Gonzalez had an explanation for the money that a lower court found both "plausible" and "consistent." He brought several witnesses forward to corroborate his story (in the preposterous land of asset forfeiture, property can be guilty of a crime, and the burden is often person the police seized the property from to prove he obtained it legally).

  • The government offered no evidence to counter Gonzolez's explanation.

    Instead, the court ruled that the mere fact that Gonzolez was carrying a large sum of money, that he had difficulty understanding the officer's questions, that he incorrectly answered some of those questions (due, Gonzolez says, to fears that if police knew he was carrying that much money, they might confiscate it -- imagine that!), and that a drug dog alerted to the car Gonzolez was driving (which, as dissenting judge Donald Lay noted, was a rental, likely driven by dozens of people before Gonzolez), was enough to "convict" the money of having drug ties, even if there wasn't enough evidence to charge Gonzolez.

    The court ruled that despite the fact that Gonzolez's witnesses were credible enough to, in person, convince a lower court he was telling the truth, on appeal, it, the appellate court, reading those witnesses' testimony on paper, simply didn't believe them.

    So the police get to keep the lifelong savings Gonzolez, his friends, and relatives had pooled to start a business. No charge, and no conviction were necessary.

    The opinion itself -- like most asset forfeiture cases -- reads like something from a third-rate military junta. Actual excerpts:

  • "Possession of a large sum of cash is 'strong evidence' of a connection to drug activity."

  • "...while an innocent traveler might theoretically carry more than $100,000 in cash across country and seek to conceal funds from would-be thieves on the highway, we have adopted the common-sense view that bundling and concealment of large amounts of currency, combined with other suspicious circumstances, supports a connection between money and drug trafficking."

  • "Gonzolez had flown on a one-way ticket, which we have previously acknowledged is evidence in favor of forfeiture."

  • While the claimants' explanation for these circumstances may be "plausible," we think it is unlikely. We therefore conclude that the government proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant currency was substantially connected to a narcotics offense."
  • My emphasis added on the last point. The absurdity of these cases never fails to amaze when you actually see it in print. The money, not Gonzolez, was found guilty of drug crimes.

    The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 was supposed to rein in seizure outrages like this one. Critics of the bill at the time noted that it didn't go nearly far enough.

    Looks like they may have been right.

    [The Agitator]

    I've repeatedly come across cops and their apologists on the Internet insisting that nearly all cops are honest, and complaining about how terrible it is that people blame all cops for the actions of "a few bad apples." But as cases like this and the "no-knock" raids that Radley Balko covers illustrate, it's not the dishonest cops that bother people. It's cops in cases like this--cops who are doing their jobs just as they're supposed to do. The problem is that their jobs are despicable.

    Cops aren't hated for the actions of a handful of bad cops, they're hated for the actions of the overwhelming majority of "good" cops, because the nature of their job today requires that they be brutal, oppressive thugs.

  • Ingratitude everywhere
    Aug 16th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

    Dr. Cochran’s remarks on bush want­i­ng Amer­i­ca to be thanked.

    Sub­ject: Dr. Cochran’s remarks on bush want­i­ng Amer­i­ca
    to be thanked 

    Jer­ry,

    While it should not have been the only goal, secur­ing
    sin­cere thanks to the Amer­i­can peo­ple for spend­ing 100’s of bil­lions of
    dol­lars of their trea­sury and 1000’s of their young people’s lives seems
    like a rea­son­able begin­ning.

    Phil

    [Chaos Manor Mus­ings]

    This kind of ingrat­i­tude is com­mon every­where. Why, look at all those ingrates in Europe who still haven’t thanked the Ger­man peo­ple for spend­ing 100’s of bil­lions of reich­marks of their trea­sury and 1000’s of their young people’s lives, and it’s been over 60 years!

    Quote of the Day
    Aug 16th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

    The man who in times of pop­u­lar excite­ment bold­ly and unflinch­ing­ly resists hot-tempered clam­or for an unnec­es­sary war, and thus expos­es him­self to the oppro­bri­ous impu­ta­tion of a lack of patri­o­tism or of courage, to the end of sav­ing his coun­try from a great calami­ty, is, as to ‘lov­ing and faith­ful­ly serv­ing his coun­try,’ at least as good a patri­ot as the hero of the most dar­ing feat of arms, and a far bet­ter one than those who, with an osten­ta­tious pre­tense of supe­ri­or patri­o­tism, cry for war before it is need­ed, espe­cial­ly if then they let oth­ers do the fight­ing.

    Carl Schurz

    Fox under fire
    Aug 14th, 2006 by Ken Hagler

    Fox under fire. I sur­prised that Fox isn’t specif­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed more often:

    The rumors are true: two of our employ­ees have been abduct­ed in Gaza,” he wrote. “We will report this fact via our Israel cor­re­spon­dents. Do NOT do any oth­er seg­ments on it. Do not book guests on this top­ic. Do not com­ment offi­cial­ly and of course, not on the air, about it. DO pray for their release. I will keep you post­ed.”

    [John Robb’s Weblog]

    Indeed. As mem­bers of the Evil Empire’s pro­pa­gan­da arm, I think most peo­ple (who aren’t Bushe­viks) would agree that they are legit­i­mate tar­gets, just as the “civil­ian” bureau­crats cow­er­ing in the Green Zone would be.

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