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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 regime 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?
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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