Everything happens at once, and yet at the same time somehow nothing happens at all for a second, as the building sighs and slumps towards us, and the top section shrugs down into the hole made by the plane, and a ring of debris and ash shoots out from where the hole starts. From the ground, it looks like the top of the building is going to come clean off and fall in our direction, but for a full two beats, we all just…stand there…admiring it: "It's coming down." But it isn't coming down, not really. It's not real. We see it, of course. But it's not happening. The building isn't coming down. The building can't come down. It wouldn't do that.
The TV was on at my gym, on Fox of course, because aside from people like me having the odd afternoon off the daytime gym visitors are mostly wingnut weight-room rats and tennis moms with Romney-Ryan stickers on their SUVs. Fox was on, and it was an alternating stream: 9/11, Benghazi, 9/11, Benghazi. Both anniversaries involving dead Americans, both tragedies.
Both offered chances for the hosts and commentators to criticize liberals, and so.
It's easy to forget that some of our crazier Congress critters are taken seriously abroad because they're bona fide members of Speaker Boner's boneheaded caucus. This time it happened in Egypt at a bizarre presser held by Bachmann, Gohmert and King, the 3 nuts of the apocalypse:
“We have seen the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood has posed here for the people in Egypt. We have seen the threat that the Muslim Brotherhood has posed around the world. We stand against this great evil. We are not for them. We remember who caused 9/11 in America. We remember who it was that killed 3,000 brave Americans. We have not forgotten.”
Thus spake Ms. Bachmann. The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, was not involved and denounced the attack, which those of a conspiratorial turn of mind assume means that they *were* responsible. Call out the black helicopters and put on your tin foil chapeau.
Loony Louis Gohmert Piles, uh, piled on by making a downright stupid and inaccurate historical analogy involving the leader of the Egyptian junta:
“We met with for a long meeting General el-Sissi and many of the military leaders, and my friend Steve King mentioned again about our heritage in America,” he explained. “George Washington, doing what no one had ever done before him, led a military in revolution, won the revolution, and then resigned and went home.”
“And we met, in General el-Sissi, a man who is leader of the military, who might have a shot at being elected president, but is more concerned about giving his life to help his country, Egypt,” Gohmert said.
A General whose name is a pun waiting to happen is like George Washington? Does that mean he has wooden choppers and grows hemp? Texas pols are wont to make inappropriate historical analogies, Lyndon Johnson once got carried away on a Vice Presidential visit to Saigon and compared President/Strong Man Diem to George Washington, but Diem was at least the father of his short-lived country. The only thing General el-Sissi has ever birthed was a coup.
It's interesting, but not surprising, to see these avatars of "freedom" once again allow their Islamophobia to overwhelm their "conservative principles." They sounded like cold warriors praising a dictator because he was "our son-of-a-bitch." Oh well, at least they didn't mention Huma Abedin this time around...
As usual, this post has given me an earworm. The title is a take on Macca's Wings Over America, tour and live album which both included this song:
The government and the rebels have been indiscriminately bombing and shelling cities; conventional explosives are WAY more deadly than air-dispersed chemical agents. Yet we still have this 1916-era mentality about how poison gas is somehow just so ungentlemanly that it deserves a special level of outrage. That's bullshit. Artillery barrages and bombs do terrible, terrible things to human bodies. When you're suffering and/or dying, you don't give a shit whether hot steel, concussion trauma, napalm burns, or poison gas did the trick.
Which is really what my issue with any bombing is about. It's not that we're doing it or not doing it. It's that we seem to have decided we will only do it when X number have died, or X weapon is used, in this one particular case, and it's presented to us as OF COURSE BECAUSE CHEMICAL WEAPONS.
Let's give the people who are pushing for this the absolute best benefit of the doubt and assume they really do mean to aid the Syrian rebels and save civilian lives. This isn't Iraq; there is an actual conflict already underway with implications for US allies and humanitarian concerns at stake. We are not just going in somewhere to kick the shit out of some people we don't like because suck on this, because we need to feel better, because our national magazine columnists have decided this is what "Americans" "need."
But this also isn't Afghanistan; nobody hanging out there attacked America directly. So are we making the case that any use of chemical weapons anywhere is grounds for America attacking?
In that case, hunker down, Washington DC:
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.
I don't know how you come up with an arithmetic for war that ISN'T monstrous, given that no matter what you do people are going to die, but I don't think this is a workable formula.
First, why does this particular heinous act rise to the level of justifying a military response? More specifically, why did a similarly heinous act by the Egyptian army elicit from Washington only the mildest response? Just weeks ago, Egyptian security forces slaughtered hundreds of Egyptians whose “crime” was to protest a military coup that overthrew a legitimately elected president. Why the double standard?
Second, once U.S. military action against Syria begins, when will it end? What is the political objective? Wrapping the Assad regime on the knuckles is unlikely to persuade it to change its ways. That regime is engaged in a fight for survival. So what exactly does the United States intend to achieve and how much is President Obama willing to spend in lives and treasure to get there? War is a risky business. Is the president willing to commit U.S. forces to what could well become another protracted and costly struggle?
I've never been a fan of "let them all kill each other, fuck 'em" glibertarian foreign policy, but somebody should also have to explain what exactly AMERICA gets out of this. Best case scenario is we spend a shitload of money bombing with few if any American lives lost. We'll kill a bunch more Muslims, whose relatives will all be justifiably pissed at us. Assad will fall, or he won't, and the bombing will continue, or it won't, and we'll be safer and better positioned in the world how?
I'm not applauding the idea of chemical weapons attacks with impunity. I'm asking what exactly our obligation here is, especially given how well it's been going, our kicking wasps' nests in the world. If we had a long track record of being able to go into someplace and get people to stop their shit, maybe I'd be less likely to worry, but lately? All we seem to do is get stung and fall down hills.
I'm willing to be persauded on this topic, but only by actual arguments, not impassioned statements about how chemical weapons are terrible, because not a person alive including the person firing them at innocent people disagrees with that.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the top ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday the "chatter" that led to the closure of 21 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Muslim world was "very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11."
"[It is] the most serious threat I've seen in a number of years," Chambliss said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Well, you would know, you smuggy dumbass. You ran against Osama bin Laden in 2004:
Thoughts on the surveillance state, in no particular order:
1. Every Republican, Glibertarian, and other opportunist screaming about this who was of voting age when the Patriot Act was passed and George W. Bush was re-elected can shut right up. I forget who said it when the FISA fight was first going on, but he or she said something about how "these are all powers you wouldn't want Hillary Clinton to have," which, as it turns out, was true from their perspective, and their outrage is just a little bit rich.
2. Which makes it not okay one little tiny bit. Democrats are, and have always been, just as capable of rolling over and playing dead at mention of the word "threat" as anybody else, maybe more so, because of Chris Matthews in their ears constantly about how if they don't agree to attack everything all the time voters will think they're pussies. And the way I know that is that we went to war in Iraq, didn't succeed in that first FISA fight or in any subsequent one, and continue to do shit like this.
3. OF COURSE we continue to do shit like this. No one ever gives up power. No one ever says, look, you know what? I don't actually want to be able to do whatever I want. That sucks. Here, take some of that back. Because what if you need it for something? That's the problem, what if you need it? That question never goes away. It's why you don't hand over power like this in the first place. You can't unfuck this dog.
4. Which again, makes it okay not at all.
5. Pressure on government in these matters works demonstrably not at all. Pressure on private companies, though? That may have a better chance of succeeding. Government don't have to give a shit, honey badgers. Businesses that lose customers do, though I don't know where we're all going to go, other than Google.
It’s at that point, people, that law enforcement requires a full-throated argument of probable cause. It’s at that point that privacy rights must be seriously measured against the legitimate investigate needs of law enforcement. And it’s at that point that the potential for authoritarian overreach becomes significant.
6. Part of the problem here, though, is that we do not exactly have a track record right now, America, of using our power judiciously when it comes to vague threats of terrorism. The comparison above is David Simon on the drug war, and compared to the terrorism issue, we are models of human rights and above-board decency when it comes to the drug war. Simon goes on:
The question is not should the resulting data exist. It does. And it forever will, to a greater and greater extent. And therefore, the present-day question can’t seriously be this: Should law enforcement in the legitimate pursuit of criminal activity pretend that such data does not exist. The question is more fundamental: Is government accessing the data for the legitimate public safety needs of the society, or are they accessing it in ways that abuse individual liberties and violate personal privacy — and in a manner that is unsupervised.
And to that, the Guardian and those who are wailing jeremiads about this pretend-discovery of U.S. big data collection are noticeably silent. We don’t know of any actual abuse.
And we never will. My GRANDchildren will not know of any actual abuse. This will be classified until the end of time. That's the point and the problem.
Since his next graf is about the model of oversight that is the FISA court, I'll stop reading there.
7. You don't wait for something to be abused before you decide it's okay, because see point 3 above.
The events sparked a debate on CNN last night, prompting former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to defend his former boss’s decision to open Gitmo to begin with. “We have it because these people did not even follow the law of war, let alone the rule of war,” he said, adding, “These people didn’t even wear a military uniform. They engaged in battle against America as terrorists, a violation of the laws of war. That’s why Guantanamo got invented.”
But most legal experts say detention practices at Gitmo violate international law.
“This country fought Adolf Hitler. And I don’t really believe that Osama bin Laden and his group are worse or more dangerous than Adolf Hitler,” CNN legal expert Jeffery Toobin countered Fleischer, adding, “We managed to defeat Adolf Hitler by following the rule of law.”
Backed in a corner, Fleischer then went a bit off the rail:
FLEISCHER: They [the Germans] followed the law of war. They wore uniforms and they fought us on battlefields. These people are fundamentally, totally by design different. And they need to be treated in a different extrajudicial system.
How does not wearing a uniform make Gitmo okay? And even if you buy that okay, these people are special supervillains who need a special prison that is not in America, how does it then follow that that prison needs to treat them inhumanely?
Oh please. This isn't going to be scary. You know why not? Because Idol is on, that's why. If all these people really were capable of being roused to action any one of a hundred things would have roused them by now. We heard this about Obama's election and heard it again about health care and I'm sure at the headquarters of the post-apocalyptic wishf-fulfillment society that is the RNC these days they're muttering it under their breath all day long, but absolutely nothing is going to get people out of their recliners.
(I have lots of thoughts about fanboy disaster culture at the moment, about how some people just want shit to go down because they've never pictured themselves as the guy eating rats in the alley instead of the guy leading the new feudal society from a ball pit full of hookers, and this kind of thing is no exception.)
I love my fellow old white people, I really, really do, but we lazy as fuck. We may watch a show, multiple shows, hundreds of movies by now, about the earth caving in, and I may make jokes about provisioning for the zombie apocalypse and learning to drive stick just as a precaution, but the kind of stones it takes to actually rebuild a society? If we had that, we'd rebuild THE ONE WE HAVE NOW. Forget Republicans: Do I think a revolution may be called for at some point? Have you met me? Of course I do. I always think it's time to burn down the board. I think a revolution may be called for yesterday, and that is when things are, on average, pretty okay and I have a frozen pizza in my belly.
But let me tell you something, whenever somebody brings up this armed revolution crap, they don't ever mean THEM. They mean somebody else should lead the armed revolution, some other guy whose parade they could cheer at. The danger isn't that 44 percent of Republicans believe this shit. The danger is in the one guy who believes it, and doesn't wait for somebody else to get it done.
Remember the infowars malaka who asked Deval Patrick about guvmint complicity in the Boston Marathon bombing? He was in Cambridge recently where he ran into a guy who gave him the full Jude treatment and cussed his worthless ass out. Do not listen to this out loud at work or in front of impressionable chirren unless you want to expand their vocabulary, that is:
The Bush lieberry is opening tomorrow in Dallas. It's perfect that my least favorite recent President's lieberry/mausoleum is opening in one of my least favorite cities in the known universe. There's probably a worse town on Trafalmadore or one of the Stans but I doubt it...
The lieberry opening has brought on a wave of W revisionism. The twerpy dullard David Gregory told us on the NBC Nightly News that Bush tweren't so bad even though he strained to find some positive accomplishments. The main revisionist line is that Bush kept us "safe from terrorism" but there's always a footnote, AFTER 9/11. That's a huge shoe they're dropping y'all; too big even for King Kong or Shaq...
The footnote/caveat reminds me of something that happened when I was a 1L at Tulane Law School way back in the Mesozoic period. I had a very entertaining Torts teacher named Tom Carbonneau who seemed to have stock in Coca-Cola since he drank at least 3 Diet Cokes during every class. Gulp.
Anyway, Torts professors *love* posing convoluted hypothetical questions and encourage their students to do likewise. A conservative student whose name I forget (not David Vitter, he was a year ahead of me but was a notorious asshole even then) posed a hypo involving nuclear power: "Barring Chernobyl, it has a great safety record." That's a caveat/footnote that's just as absurd as "he kept us safe AFTER 9/11." I wonder if this dude wound up working in the Bush White House or got hitched to Dana Perino who has been revisionisting her ass off this week...
Barring the bank meltdown, the Iraq War, the Katrina response, it goes on and on and on, deep into the long dark night of Bush's misrule:
After all the posturing by little Lindsey and his ilk about how to treat the accused Boston Marathon bomber, he was read his rights, and then confessed earlier today. I agree with what A said earlier: this guy is a criminal and we have a massive system dedicated to dealing with people like him. Try him and lock him up, the only terrorist he seems to know was his big brother who's currently taking a dirt nap...
It's increasingly looking as if this is just the latest outrage perpetrated by angry young men. It seems closer in twisted spirit to Columbine, Aurora, or Newtown. Those were also acts of terrorism but they were done with guns instead of bombs, and without an overlay of politics. It was terrorism nonetheless, but it doesn't seem to register on the McCain-o-meter or the Graham-scale. Perhaps they need to recalibrate their thinking. Did I say thinking? Sorry. Thinking's got nothing to do with it...
After saying emphatically that trying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a federal civilian court is the only option because the 19-year-old bombing suspect is a U.S. citizen, White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday added that President Barack Obama's inner-circle has his back on the decision.
"The entire national security team is in agreement on this approach," Carney said during a press briefing, after noting that it's a "matter that's decided by the Department of Justice."
Republicans, notably Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), have argued that Tsarnaev should be treated as an enemy combatant.
WHY? God Almighty, why? If he's an enemy combatant, then there's an enemy, which I guess in this case would be Chechnya, another shitless place for us to kick the shit out of? Except a) they're American so we bomb ourselves now? and b) Russia probably is jonesing for something to do and so us blowing up stuff on their continent is not going to be taken well.
I do not GET this. We already have a system to deal with enemy combatants who are US citizens who do stupid shit, and it's called the justice system, because they're called CRIMINALS. Not everybody who does something heinous gets a special name, even if the news has seen fit to give them a theme song.
I was working for a friend this week and wasn't able to blog as much as usual; the first instance of blessed relief for y'all. I followed yesterday's events via live blog on the Guardian, which spared me the teevee hype although NBC did a good job last night. And Pete Williams rocked the media universe all week long with his calm and factual reporting.
I was struck by the way President Obama and Gov. Patrick approached the crisis in contrast to W and his minions with their fear mongering and colorful alarm charts and shit. No drama Obama and calm Deval didn't whip up hysteria or militarize the crisis, instead they let law enforcement do their job and they did it well. Remember when W and Vice President Duce mocked John Kerry for stating that terrorism was primarily a law enforcement issue? Big John was right and his views were vindicated in his home town this week.
I assume that little Lindsey, Walnuts, and the usual suspects will be on the Sunday shows frothing at the mouth and whinging about how the suspect should be tried by the military, yadda, yadda, yadda. It's past time to stand up to them and try the <sigh> American citizen who is in custody in Federal Court regardless of whether or not there are links to furrin bad guys. It worked quite well with Timothy McVeigh and a host of others, thank you very much.
I'm dreading the politics of fear entering into this. If the goal of the attack was to terrorize and cow the people of Boston, it did not work. They're battered and bruised but very much standing upright and proud. The wingnuts are the ones who get terrified by terrorism and arm themselves accordingly. They will, of course, whip up hysteria over changes to the immigration laws and, hopefully, it won't work but they thrive on shit stirring and fear mongering so we're in for it, alas. As for myself, I'm just hoping for some blessed relief:
The horrendous Boston Marathon bombing has the 24/7 news cycle wigging out as is the 24/7 social media babble. Everyone has a theory-I do too-but nobody really knows what happened just yet, and neither do I.
Here's the deal: we've all gotten used to things happening quickly in the era of the interwebs. Instant gratification just isn't possible in an investigation such as this one.
Conclusion jumping has become our national pastime, but sometimes you've just gotta be patient, take a deep breath, and try to relax. This is one of those times.
I don't run marathons.
I have friends who do, and their names were the first ones I plugged into the marathon site after explosions turned the finish line into a crime scene. None of them were running in Boston today, but they run, and the first picture I saw was of a man with his legs blown off, and all I could think was that that man is a runner.
Running's weird. It's strange and hypnotic and cultish; I used to joke to a runner friend that she was just telling me all the work would feel good eventually and really nobody wanted to admit that the emperor had no clothes and this sucked. I think it's because it's solitary. It's just you and the road, you and the treadmill, you and your playlist. You against yourself: Your time, your pace. You can run in a group but make no mistake: YOU are the runner. Eventually it all pinpoints to you, your body, the song in your head or the sound of the street, and the pounding of your feet on the pavement.
Here's what I felt when I ran three miles outside for the first time: Like I was going to fucking die, first of all. Like I could lie down in the pile of leaves under that tree there and never finish the route, and be happy with that decision. Like my left hamstring and my right lung were going to mutiny. Like this was going to hurt like a motherfucker tomorrow. Like this was the dumbest idea I'd ever had.
And like I was the only person on the face of the earth. Like I was the last person left, just me, and the only sound on earth was the sound of my harsh breathing, and one block more. One block more. One block more. Always another step forward, always a little bit farther than I thought I could go, always just a second longer. One more hill. One more song on the list. One more, one more, one more. Until I was rounding the corner and could see my building, and knew I was home.
Someone turned home for those runners into smoke and screams and carnage and fear. Those people were runners and the finish line is home and someone took that away. Dozens of them are wounded, badly. That man, with his legs blown off, that man was a runner. I don't know what running meant to him but I know what it means to me.
It means solace. It means accomplishment. It means I can do what I used to tell myself I couldn't do, and it means I can do anything I want to do, and it means I'm enough, me and the pavement and my shoes and my playlist, we're enough to get something done. It means I'm okay, and someone stole that today.
Lindham said he and other runners were halted on the course as police tried to determine what was going on.
“It became apparent that this was something big. They started yelling at us to get the hell off the course,” Lindham said. “Then we saw other runners coming in our direction, yelling things, and they were obviously very scared.”
Lisa Vasallo, 45, of Dedham, was in the tunnel leading to the final stretch when police stopped runners. They waited for word that is was safe to continue, and then heard the news that there had been explosions. Residents from the houses along the route brought out food and water for the runners.
“My first thought was my children,” said Vasallo, breaking into tears. “I knew they were at the finish line.” She was later reunited with them.
I followed Twitter for hours this afternoon and read most of what I could get my hands on, like everybody else. I donated and posted and retweeted and then I did the only thing I could think of. I went for a run.
(Here's my thought on that in a nutshell: Violent movies and videogames do not make people violent. Violent people are attracted to violent media. Of course, so are many of the rest of us, just for different reasons. I ended up watching The Matrix about 46,000 times--at one point on a three-day loop--for the book, and I shot nobody. If you want to talk about warning signs, don't look at the kid's taste in movies or his literary output--look at those two things in the context of his real-life behavior, which was already disturbing his teachers and classmates. Stephen King? A folksy, personable guy in real life. Quentin Tarantino? Full of energy and enthusiasm. Consequently, no one expects them to go on shooting rampages. The bitter, stalkative kid who won't even speak when spoken to, who also writes about bloody murder sprees? For God's sake, keep an eye on him.)
I would never say we don't need to have a less nihilistic, brutal, violent culture. But we can start working on that by refraining from blowing up so many fucking kids in the world and starving them of food and care here at home. Once we are done with that I will listen to you about shooting hookers in GTA or whatever the hell we think is the problem right now. Once we are done making sure everyone can EAT, we can get on to what disaffected suburban brats are reading these days.
The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with....at what age did your child....were there any problems with...has your child ever experienced...does your child have....”
At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.
No individual insurance plan, and until the laughably toothless health care reform passed last year which has been called a staggering overreach of government power, few insurance plans AT ALL. The kinds of intensive therapies children need, even with Cadillac insurance, can bankrupt middle class families. Can bankrupt relatively wealthy families. Can, even if there is money to pay for them and doctors to provide them, can quite simply drag a family under with the grinding, every day process of staying level enough with the horizon to buy groceries and go to school.
It is one of the grand ironies of what little mental health assistance exists that when you need it most, that is when you are usually so far beyond the beyond that accessing it seems like going to the moon.
But getting back to Cleolinda's wise words up there, what we're not doing very well right now is creating a nonviolent world for any of us. (I almost wrote "our kids," as if adults have no need of peace and decency.) That violence is not, primarily, on screens or in "the media" or anywhere imaginary, but imaginary violence is all we can seem to bring ourselves to talk about when things like this happen.
It's all we can bring ourselves to try to address, because real violence, real agents of violence, are political, and controversial, and emotional and upsetting and they're going to make dinner conversation awkward and difficult. Everybody agrees that shooting fictional aliens is probably not the most productive use of anyone's time. Almost nobody agrees on the correct number of children that have to be killed in drone strikes so as to properly elevate our national dick, or how much money we spend turning schools into prisons instead of the other way fucking round.
It's like there's a list somewhere, of Things We Can Address, and it's all stuff like why so many kids have ADHD, and how parents aren't hugging their children enough, and where precisely in the schoolyard we should stick the plaque proclaiming GOD IS LOVE because that'll fix everything. It's how many teachers need to be armed, and how many cops need to be at every entrance, and the opinion that perhaps we need fewer cops in schools and OH SHIT RIGHT FEWER HOLES IN THE SCHOOLS' ROOFS WHILE WE'RE AT IT never quite makes it through the World of Warcraft soundtrack blaring on every goddamned Sunday show.
(See, already there you go, asking why I have to put it just that way. Can't I use nicer language?)
We have limited ourselves to addressing matters that don't need addressing, so as to drown out the screaming of the things that do.
This is it.
Because here's Obama's speech from the Rose Garden:
And here's why this, and not the end of the debate in which Obama picked up a keggerator and slammed it down on every single bit of Romney's bullshit, is the reason Obama is the president, and Romney is a fucking assclown who is unfit to serve in any national office.
You don't DO THIS. Look. I don't care if your general policy is to nuke anything that bugs you. When something like this happens you take five seconds to think before you shoot off your fucking mouth. Obama stood there on stage and said I take responsibility, it's my job to do so, and I did that here, by bringing the coffins home, and protecting those left behind and honoring their memory. And Romney made a cheap-ass argument about what Obama said.
And he was wrong.
And the fact that he opened his mouth about it at all, that he would go there at all (you could have made so many other arguments, about military deployments and diplomatic procedures), shows such a staggering lack of grown-up goddamn judgment that you could actually hear the room draw back a little, like, really? Did you really just do that? Are you really that callous, that oblivious, that small?
He was. It's what he is. And those of us who hadn't seen it before can see it now.
The post-debate spin has mostly been about Obama's final answer in the debate, about 47 versus 100 percent of Americans, but I think the debate was about a much smaller number. I think it was about a few people overseas who suffered and died for their country, and about somebody who gets that, and somebody who doesn't.
Via the Crack Den's comments thread, here's a particular piece of stupidity amidst the avalanche of stupidity coming from the Romney campaign right now:
Another adviser expressed frustration with horserace reporters declaring Romney's campaign dead fatally behind, as President Obama pulls ahead in the polls. He said he suspects the press is projecting their own hopes for an Obama re-election at best — and purposefully cheerleading the incumbent, at worst.
"I mean, I was expecting this narrative in October," he said. "You know, the polls are close, and so the media starts cheering on their guy, saying Romney's doomed. But I didn't expect it to happen this early. They just seem really eager."
Let's look at all the ways the Libya thing was stupid. First, you turn the campaign from the suckass economy, on which you have some advantage based on Obama not doing enough and not doing the right things (not that you're gonna do the right things, but let's not get crazy), to foreign policy, where your party has recently distinguished itself by sticking its entire dick in a bees' nest.
You are a basketball player, and you challenge your opponent to the 800-meter freestyle, for some godforsaken reason. Leave aside the human considerations, like the DEAD PEOPLE, and there's no reason to open your trap at all. Just keep blithering about job creation and how government sucks. Many Americans these days seem to find that bullshit appealing, whereas absolutely none of them think it's cool to wave a corpse around to get attention.
Plus, by making it an actual event, you made it eminently clear that your entire campaign apparatus was involved in making this statement, so you can't disavow it by saying the candidate wasn't prepared, or was taken in by a trick question, or was otherwise unable to somehow not shoot a hole in his own ass.
And NOW you want to claim liberal media trickery? Are you fucking kidding me? YOU CALLED THE PRESS TO SHOW UP THERE, MORONS. Now you're made because they wrote down what you said?
Just like during the RNC, I'm honestly getting offended at how inept the Romney campaign is, and here's why: Running for president isn't something you should do as a joke. It's not a stunt show. Sure, Bush's operation was evil, but they took it seriously. They didn't faff around. Their campaign show was the Death Star. Romney's is turning into an Ewok add-on movie George Lucas crapped out to buy himself a new boat.
ps. HAT TIP JAC DAMMIT JESUS
While the Romney-ites are doubling down on their lies about yesterday's attacks (with very few followers) here's something more uplifting:
Re-posting for the umpteenth time because it was the first thing I read after that day, after that blur of a day and the two-three weeks that followed, that didn't feel like a fucking greeting card, that made any kind of sense to me at all:
As we approach the Brooklyn Bridge, a ferry pulls in to the pier, calling for passengers to Jersey City. That's where Don lives. We both stop, frowning, and for a moment we just stand there together as others pass us with their heads down, concentrating on going. We don't want to leave each other. Without each other, it's just us by ourselves. It seems strange and worrisome, and I sense that he wants me to go with him so we can stick together still, but I also know he knows I have to go north and finish the walk, that it's important for both of us to get to our homes. All of these thoughts come and go and we don't say any of them aloud. We shake hands, wish each other the very best of luck, although it's not a day with much of that. Don heads back towards the pier. I turn back to the hill ahead of me. I don't turn around. It's just me now, going home.
We reach for this easy stuff, all the time. My Facebook feed is being overtaken with images of bald eagles superimposed onto the Twin Towers by people who were thousands of miles away when the planes struck. I got angry at it back then; I am angry at it now. It's so easy, the treacly songs, the easy post-and-repost remembrances. We were Forever Changed by this terrible thing that happened. Every word of that annoys me because no, we weren't, and we aren't we anyway.
(I think I get so angry at the easy remembrances because I envy the sense of safety people now mourn as having been ripped away. I envy their former obliviousness to the randomness of bad fortune.)
Those for whom 9/11 was just a particularly compelling TV show, for whom the community prayer vigils were fan conventions for America, who were happy to wave their flags and paint their chests red, white and blue and beat up on Sikh shopkeepers? They weren't altered by it, not really. Three to six weeks later they stopped going to church again, or quit calling their parents, or started snapping at their kids, because that's how we're built.
We are prone to grand declarations — remember how snark and irony were going to be So Over? — that have no hope of coming true. We make wild promises we have no hope of keeping, and get angry when someone reminds us of the words we spoke so rashly, of the vows we made in moments of clarity. Full of excuses as to why we didn't live up to our best image of ourselves, the one we invent to keep from going mad when something terrible happens. Like a couple of planes slamming into a building. Or a gunshot.
Change doesn't happen with a break, or a leap, or a plane crash. The shock isn't what alters you. It's the grinding down, afterward, the every day scraping forward and forward and forward until the skin's rubbed down to the bone. It isn't fun and it isn't set to music and it certainly can't be reduced to a 15-minute ceremony in front of a statue once a year. It's every day. It sucks.
You tell me, though. What choice do we have?
Giffords was broken on that day, and she’s broken now. I’m broken, too, and so are you. Every day breaks us in a different way. But broken is not the same thing as dead, and if you’re not dead, you’re alive, and if you’re alive, you can do something. That’s not courage; it’s just what you do. You wake up. Something’s sore. Your head hurts. You don’t want to do what you have to do today. You don’t want to talk to humans. There’s so much weight that it feels like you can’t do it anymore. It’s pointless. It’s unmanageable. It’s awful. You can’t do it. You know, deep down in your stomach, that you simply can’t do it anymore. It’s impossible.
You get up anyway.
Ask Osama bin Laden is he is better off now than he was four years ago.
You know it isn’t -- it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to say that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.
He -- he was against -- he was against setting a date for withdrawal. Then he said it was right. And then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was tragic to leave Iraq. And then he said it was fine. He said we should have intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to run away from the reporters who were asking questions. Then he said, the intervention was too aggressive. And then he said the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it, before you were against it.
(APPLAUSE) Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney, here’s a little advice; before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you’d better finish the debate with yourself.
Now -- President Mitt Romney -- President Mitt Romney, three very hypothetical words that mystified and alienated our allies this summer. For Mitt Romney an overseas trip was what you call it when you trip all over yourself overseas.
You know, it wasn’t -- it wasn’t a goodwill mission. It was a blooper reel.
Folks, Sara Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt -- Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.
At which point the watching party I was at lost its goddamn collective mind.
People are always surprised whenever I tell them my one true political love is John Kerry. I mean, John Kerry? He's boring. He lost. And conventional wisdom is that he lost because he was boring and elite and lacked backbone and what have you, he windsurfed and shit. He's French.
Well, call me a Frog because hot damn, last night he walked out onto the stage and told Mitt Romney his other ride was Mitt's mom and next time if Romney doesn't shape up he might not use the saddle.
And immediately the commentary was WHERE WAS THIS GUY FOUR YEARS AGO, because certainly our noble political punditry couldn't possibly have fallen all over itself to make Kerry unsuitable despite the hockey-playing, liberal-lion-2, war-hero story he had to offer them. Surely they couldn't have missed something.
(And before anybody starts in with me about Edwards, ask yourself if the worst thing he has ever done is still nicer than the nicest thing Dick Cheney has ever done. As long as he wasn't Vice President of Being Responsible With One's Penis, he probably could have muddled through.)
In fact, watching Kerry actually made me remember my biggest disappointment with Obama, his truly dismal record on civil liberties. That was what Kerry ran on in 2004, and the biggest wrong he would have righted if we could have pulled our heads out of our asses and elected him. It was why, all kidding about OMG WHATTA BABE aside, I fell in love with him: He went to war and came home and at the age of 27 walked into the halls of Congress and said stop this, stop this now before it gets any worse.
We all should have listened then, and again in 2004. Maybe we'll listen now.
How dare you use the killing of Bin Laden to point out that Bin Laden was killed? DON'T YOU KNOW IT MAKES OBAMA LOOK GOOD?!11!
In their first interviews about the secrecy-shrouded project, Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal — who each claimed Oscars for 2009's Iraq-war drama The Hurt Locker — insist their film is a study of the unsung heroes who worked behind the scenes to take down bin Laden, not a celebration of Pres. Barack Obama's decision to authorize the strike that killed him, in May 2011. ''There's no political agenda in the film. Full stop. Period,'' says Boal, a veteran war correspondent. ''A lot of people are going to be surprised when they see the film. For example, the president is not depicted in the movie.''
Although Sony decided last fall to move the film's debut from October to December, well after the election, the project continues to draw fire. Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and the right-wing watchdog group Judicial Watch have questioned whether the filmmakers received access to classified documents while researching their story.
Yes. Bin Laden being dead makes Obama look good. Because using whatever political metric you like, before Obama was president Bin Laden was alive, and now, while Obama is still president, Bin Laden is no longer alive. This is a clear example of liberal bias in media.
And exactly how much of this sensitive information did the filmmakers actually get?
The records, obtained through the Judicial Watch suit, showed that even as top Pentagon officials were complaining that too much information was being disclosed about the raid that killed bin Laden, a senior DoD official promised the filmmakers a Navy SEAL team contact who could offers details about the raid.
Boal called the offer "dynamite," but the Pentagon said later that the promised liaison effort never took place.
CIA documents showed that Boal was given a tour of a mock-up used to plan the raid on the compound in Pakistan, but a CIA spokeswoman said in an internal e-mail that the agency's contacts with the filmmakers should be kept "a bit quiet" due to "sensitivities" about the selective nature of such access.
They gave the guy a tour of a model? And a source promised to put them in touch with another source, but that never materialized? This is from Politico, and that's the worst they could come up with. Okay.
And the CIA was worried wingnuts would have hysterics about nothing. I can't imagine why.
No, it is not time to talk about gun control. It is time to talk about Chick-fil-A, and whether the president is secretly a communist, socialist, or Kenyan Muslim Marxist.
It is time to talk about how Christians are persecuted for not being able to slap the Ten Commandments on every inch of every courthouse.
It is time to talk about how anybody in the military who voices an opinion about the war is a terrorist-loving traitor.
It is time to talk about how anyone who wants reasonably inexpensive medical care is a freedom-hating government leech.
It is time to talk about who really "built that."
It is time to talk about what's trending online.
It is time to talk about which movies are inherently conservative and should be supported, and which Disney characters are indoctrinating your children into liberalism.
It is time to talk about how video games are making kids crazy.
It is time to talk about your parenting, and how you're doing it wrong.
It is time to talk about Drew Peterson, and then, in six months or so, it will be time to talk about how we talked too much about Drew Peterson. Six months after that, it will be time to talk about the next Drew Peterson, or Casey Anthony, or whoever that last one was.
It is time to talk about your fucking taxes, and how you are unhappy with them, and how your unhappiness rates Congressional action.
It is time to talk about how everybody else has it just a little bit too good.
It is time to talk about some poor kid who has an iPad.
It is time to talk about what some d-list celebrity "tweeted."
It is time to talk about who should be allowed to go out in public with his pants like that.
It is time to talk about pregnancy pacts, and rainbow parties, and how kids don't think oral sex is really sex, and how Clinton is probably to blame.
It is not time to talk about gun control, because talking about gun control requires talking about laws and policies and various precedents, about how we live and what we live for.
It is not time to talk about how we can be a less fearful society, a less aggressive society, a less fucking STUPID society, because that seems to require a reach and an ambition so critically lacking in those who task themselves with leading those conversations that we might as well pray for the EASTER BUNNY to save us. It makes about as much sense.
It's not time to talk about gun control. It's time to talk about what fried chicken you should eat to honor America's freedom. It is time to talk about that.
TV news -- and especially local TV news -- is dominated by news of violent crime, the more spectacular and murderous the better. TV news creates a false picture of a country under attack by rampaging criminals, and especially nonwhite criminals. The people who watch the most TV news, Americans older than 50, also happen to be the group most likely to own a gun.
Only one-fifth of young Americans own a gun; one-third of over-50 Americans do. Republicans are twice as likely to own a gun as Democrats. Maybe not so coincidentally, Republicans are more likely to watch the scariest news channel of them all: Fox. Whites are twice as likely to own a gun as nonwhites -- and it may also not be a coincidence that gun purchases have suddenly spiked since November 2008.
Proponents of gun control are baffled that horrific massacres such as the one in Aurora, Colorado, do not lead to stricter gun control. They have their causation backward.
The more terrifyingly criminal the world looks, the more ineffective law enforcement seems, the more Americans demand the right to deadly weapons with which to defend themselves. It is local TV programming directors, not the National Rifle Association, who are tirelessly persuading Americans that they need to strap a gun to their legs before heading to the mall.
I cannot make my doctor's office stop showing The Today Show no matter how much I beg. The nurses like it, she says to me. Okay, but after five minutes of it in the waiting room my blood pressure spikes to stroke levels. The morning after the Aurora shootings, before anybody even knew what this was, we were having a panel debate on whether you should "be worried about taking your kids to this movie."
First of all, the fucking thing is rated PG-13 and is incredibly loud and violent so no, you shouldn't take your (young) kids to this movie. Not that that stopped half a dozen people at my midafternoon showing from bringing toddlers. I swear the next time a retail spot opens up next to my 'hood's theater I'm snagging it for a drop-off babysitting service for the kids' sakes. I hope that two-year-old keeps you up ALL NIGHT with his nightmares, geniuses.
Second, though, WHAT THE FUCK ON EARTH. Really, that's our major concern right now, if you should take your kids to a movie because somehow one dude who went on a rampage at Batman means every movie is now dangerous? You know what's dangerous? The WORLD. I will never understand, when so much out there that we cannot control limits our freedom, we would voluntarily scare the shit out of ourselves on a near-constant basis about things that have already happened when it's what we haven't thought of that's gonna come out of nowhere and kill us.
You watch morning TV (and evening TV about YOUR CHILDREN and how will you KEEP THEM SAFE) and the whole world starts to look like this network of safe areas and danger zones, with checkpoints and times where and when you can cross. Streets you won't go down, people coming to get you, everybody else out there filled with murderous intent and you, helpless. We know, somewhere deep in our bones, that we can't protect ourselves. We know this is futile. And instead of saying look, none of us are safe or all of us are and there is no middle ground, we build a bunker, top it with battlements, and hurry everyone inside after dark.
Only to find that we sit, surrounded by ammunition, with no one to shoot at but ourselves.
Accused mass murderer James Holmes remains in the news; especially because he looked so wild eyed and out of it in his court appearance. There's a bit of hysteria on the internets that he might get off with an insanity defense. Not bloody likely: there's big difference between crazy and legally crazy. Holmes may well be insane BUT this carefully planned murder scheme as well as the booby trapped apartment means that he is NOT legally crazy.
I hope that some of the folks who are freaking out about this will take a deep breath and relax. Holmes is more likely to be sent to death row than to the looney bin: he knew what he was doing however insane it seems to us semi-normal people.
The last time Colorado experienced something like this, I was in a newsroom in Missouri with a kid who would later become a good friend and the best man at my wedding. It was 1999 and he was a junior in college. I, all of 24, was in my first real job as staff editor and adviser.
Adam was from Colorado and he knew the area surrounding Littleton. He still had friends in that area. He had connections to that zone based on football rivalries, overlapping proms and other such things that happen to bring high schools from across the state together.
We weren’t covering it locally, as my boss had a (correct) view that having a shit ton of people three states away reacting with “It’s just a terrible tragedy” quotes doesn’t make for decent journalism. Thus, all we could do was watch the AP wire as it came in and stare agape at the TV that hung from a ceiling-mounted swivel near the copy desk.
It turned out that he didn’t intimately know anyone involved. Family members, friends and vague acquaintances appeared to have been spared. He never really spoke of it, though I could see something in his eyes that showed his world had changed a little. The wounding was over, but the scar would remain.
His home state would ever be known as “that Columbine place.”
In the wake of this shooting, everyone agreed on two things: 1) this was a terrible tragedy and 2) something must be done so it would never happen again.
This morning, as I was working in the garage, the radio’s 103-second news update (No shit. 103 seconds. No wonder we’re fucked as a country.) led with the shooting in Colorado. It was a quick hit on the way to other things like Winneconne’s Sovereign State Days and the weather. The announcer didn’t seem to change tone or break stride.
I went inside to read about this and found out that we don’t know anything about this guy.
He was 24.
He was about 6 feet tall.
He apparently owned a rifle, a handgun and some body armor.
He went after people in the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight.”
Why did he do this? We don’t know. However, rest assured, we will quickly be told all the answers by the pundits, the talking heads and Wayne LaPierre.
The Today Show is already yammering on about the movie’s “dark culture.”
I’m quite certain if he had started shooting up “Ice Age 3,” we’d be having a serious morning-show discussion on the impacts of climate change.
Reactions from government officials will be swift. There will be discussions about our gun laws and how easily a whack job can obtain a gun. There will be legislation to ban guns or concealed-carry. It won’t pass because a) the NRA owns everything and b) the slogan “Guns don’t kill people. People do.” will rise up and Jedi mind-trick everyone into thinking this guy could have done this with a Louisville Slugger if he really put his mind to it.
Banning guns isn’t the answer any more than electrifying the fence at the Mexican border is the answer to our immigration issues. If you don’t believe that, watch “Bowling for Columbine” again and get back to me.
Reactions from movie people will be swift as well. People will dither about how costumes need to be banned, as this guy just appeared to be a costumed weirdo, who was in no way a threat to anyone until he started shooting. Eventually, you will be asked to put on a “Marcus Approved Robe” made by the company that produces those fine paper gowns you wear at the doctor’s office when getting a physical.
People will argue that we are a violent culture and we must find a way to fight back, never once seeing the irony in that statement. Colorado is a death penalty state, so rest assured, this guy will be up for the chair or the needle or whatever it is that makes us feel humane in ending a life. They will kill this guy slowly and deliberately to show how much gravity the situation has. They will also silently take perverse pleasure in it, much like someone who manages to ground the fly that has pissed him off for an hour, but not kill it. Finality will now come on his terms.
The death of the insect will be vengeful, as will this man’s inevitable demise.
Why the man did this is unknown. Why we react this way is easy to understand.
When faced with something incomprehensible and tragic, we look for ways to rationalize it. We try to figure out if the guy’s little league coach yelled at him too much or if a priest touched him. We then stop giving a shit about him and start becoming actively self-interested.
We don’t want to be that next group of people watching a movie wondering if the guy next to us in the Darth Maul mask actually has a working light saber he’s going to kill us with. We are like the three idiots in Spaceballs who start screaming “Do Something!” when Mega Maid goes from suck to blow.
We panic. We demand. We say, “Never again!”
In an attempt to keep their seats in congress, their positions running corporations and their sense of control, those we turn to fire off a salvo of actions that have the same logic and accuracy as the shooter’s bullets. They figure if they tighten gun restrictions or make us remove our shoes or scan us for gun powder before we can order a latte, everything will be fine. They delude themselves into believing that they can control everything that could possibly hurt us.
They tell us, “There! We fixed it! It won’t happen again.”
And we go back to thinking everything is fine.
Until the next time.
On developments in Syria, this caught my eye:
By formally designating Syria a civil war, the International Committee of the Red Cross may have inadvertently revealed an uncomfortable prospect for the country’s future: Civil wars are typically protracted and bloody as both sides fight with their backs to the proverbial wall. And they rarely result in the complete vanquishing of either combatant party; far more common are political and territorial compromises that redefine the state.
I have no idea what that would look like. NO CLUE. Do you?
One of the things that continues to infuriate me about our punditry (not so much the journalists in the region or even their editors, removed as they may be) is the tendency to talk about the Middle East as if it is another planet and the customs and people there strange to our human ways. "Why do they hate us" is only a terrorist attack away from being written again, always, forever, and ... um, look, we can argue all day long about justification for this or that bit of foreign policy but can we at least all get together on the concept that human beings are human beings and we react in fairly predictable ways?
When I was editing the Feith book, I kept telling my boss that it was like he and his buddies hadn't read any recent history. "Forget recent history," quoth the boss, a much smarter fellow than me. "All you have to read is Shakespeare." Go back even further, the Bible. Go back further than that. Revenge, resentment, frustration boiling over into violence, it isn't like we don't know how these things work.
It's not justifying any of them to say that they work the same everywhere, and if you say you would never, or you couldn't, or you don't, then you're in a much more advanced stage of kidding yourself than even you think.
ps. Countdown to some veteran of Operation Enduring Cheeto saying we need to go over to Syria and "turn the whole place to glass" starts in 3 ... 2 ...
I'm on record any number of times saying that Godwin's Law is a law for a reason, and that Hitler is like Hitler and pretty much nobody else is like Hitler. If you're going to call somebody a Nazi, they'd better be invading Poland.
So no, Chicago is not like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia this morning. But it is possible to hold in our minds the idea that this is not in fact an actual police state, and also that "Not Soviet Russia" is not, shall we say, the highest standard to which we should aspire.
Love those blue helmets! Reminds me of the 60's and 70's when the CPD pounded the scum down. Glad to see tham do it quite well again.
Commuters! Run them over with your cars. And at the same time lower the unemployment rating.
Just fucking shoot me. Look, there is legitimate reporting about actual security concerns, disruptions to commutes, etc, and then there is this hicktown fucking freakout like oh, God, we've never had a major event around here before so let's scare the people in the 'burbs who last were downtown for a play three years ago and got nervous about parking under fucking Navy Pier.
One downside to all the fine weather is that it seems to have spurred Asshole Season to arrive somewhat early.
Over and over again, in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Guantánamo, in secret CIA black sites and at CIA headquarters, in the Pentagon, and in Washington, men and women recognized the torture for what it was and refused to remain silent. They objected, protested, and fought to prevent, and then to end, these illegal and immoral interrogations. While the president and his top advisers approved and encouraged the torture of prisoners, there was dissent in every agency, at every level.
The documents are full of these voices. In fact, it is thanks to these dissenters that much of the documentary record exists. From emails among FBI agents sharing their shock over scenes they had witnessed in interrogation booths in Guantánamo, to letters and memoranda for the record, to major internal investigations, the documents show that those who ordered and carried out the torture did so despite constant warnings and objections that their actions were ineffective, short-sighted, and wrong. It is no wonder that so many of these documents were suppressed.
There's this tendency, especially among our stupider punditry, to act like "everybody" just lost they damn minds in the wake of 9/11 and went all torture-happy because "we" were all so pissed off from having been attacked like nobody had ever attacked us before with the new world we were living in and all that transformative socio-bullshittery and nonsense. Thus, if "we" are all responsible, then none of us is responsible, and nobody needs to be held to account, and nothing needs to be said. Let it all be forgotten so we can go on our merry way.
Obama's record on this stuff, by the way? Appalling. Especially so, and all the more so, for a fucking scholar of the law. Forget punishing the people who did this. It would be nice if he, himself, stopped doing this, first off.
So a few hundred people with signs was enough to scare the G8 to Camp David instead of my home base, and reporters are acting like small-town beauty pageant losers all HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO POOR WIDDLE US, and I can't tell you the bitching that was going on for the past month or so. About how there were going to be all these awful protesters mucking up the pretty pretty downtown that's there for people from Wisconsin and Michigan to visit, getting their unwashed free speech all over everything and how horrible that they raise their voices.
You know, the usual one percent doctrine.
Seriously, the city could have encouraged its hospitality industry to market to the protesters as well as the dignitaries. Tents, supplies for signs, protest apps . . . a whole market to exploit.
And even more seriously, welcoming protesters as participants to the weekend would have been much smarter than treating them like the enemy and turning the whole thing into an impending crisis. Our cultural, civic and political institutions could have scheduled workshops, debates, art exhibits - the whole works. We could have shown the world how to bridge the gap and connect the 1% to the 99% and showcased democracy at its best.
Security would still have been an issue and incidents no doubt would have occurred - and likely still will when NATO gets here. But that's part of the price we pay for living in a free society.
Seriously. Maybe Occupy would have been a little less hardcore about stuff if the city hadn't shown every indication of meeting them more than halfway, acting like there had never been a demonstration here before and oh god oh god we're all going to die get the riot gear Martha, it's the big one. I've never seen such fucking hick hysteria, and this in a city everybody goes around mouthing all the time is so world-class.
There are a lot of goddamn people who live here, and some of them are going to stand outside a convention center with a sign that says FUCK THESE PEOPLE, and we are all just going to have to get over the unspeakable trauma of seeing that.
A not-insignificant number of people may have been (may still be) total dicks, violent and destructive, but why on earth was the fear of that cause for the full-scale militarization that was going to occur? Do people not act like violent destructive dicks every day around here, too? Whence cometh the idea that these criminals required tank divisions basically, and other criminals don't? Or are we just flat-out saying it now, that the prime minister of East Gofuckistan is deserving of a peace and quiet our citizens can easily do without?
That's unworthy of a place like this, a big glorious noisy busy messy place like this. The other day I went out my front door and there was a whole rotisserie chicken lying in the middle of the road, I mean every time I ride the L there's some guy in a panda costume singing for no reason or something. We live here because of the crazy shit that goes on, not in spite of it, and despite everyone's best attempts to sanitize all public spaces the public, occasionally, has other ideas. Acting threatened by that doesn't intimidate our critics. It just exposes our cowardice.
In other words, sack up, and figure that if the vast majority of the world's people can live with crushing poverty and systemic powerlessness all of their days, you can handle a week or two of people on the street being rude enough to bring it up in conversation.
The National Defense Authorization Act covering $662 billion in defense spending for the next fiscal year includes a provision requiring military custody of a terror suspect believed to be a member of Al Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in attacks on the United States.
A last minute amendment allows the president to waive the authority based on national security and to hold a terror suspect in civilian rather than military custody. But the bill would deny US citizens suspected of being terrorists the right to trial, subjecting them to indefinite detention, and civil libertarians say the amendment essentially is meaningless.
For all our jokes these days about how Libertarians are essentially Republicans who like pot, they are in the absolute, complete and utter right on this:
"If the president thinks you are a terrorist, let him present charges and evidence to a judge,” Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle said in a statement Friday. “He has no authority to lock you up without any judicial review, just because he and Congress believe he should have unlimited power. That is the kind of power held by tyrants in totalitarian regimes. It has no place in the United States.”
The shock and horror of Republicans, meanwhile, continues to be darkly amusing.
Echoing arguments against federal government power made by his father, presidential candidateRep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas, Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky spoke forcefully against the measure: “We are talking about people who are merely suspected of a crime, and we are talking about American citizens. If these provisions pass, we could see American citizens being sent toGuantánamo Bay.”
Where exactly did you think we were going with this, fellas? In case you haven't been paying attention at the meetings of the local Asshole Promulgation and Knitting Society, this is pretty much exactly the substance of their every resolution from like Nixon on outward. American citizens with unwelcome or inconvenient or just plain yucky political beliefs being sent to Guantanamo Bay isn't some unintended and tragic consequence of this bill or of any of our insane national security policies of the past 10 years; IT'S EXACTLY THE PLAN. So don't act all shocked and appalled and you a fucking virgin, now; you felt the rails humming long before you heard the train.
The UC-Davis Chancellor responsible for the pepper-spraying of her students, Linda Katehi, today went on Good Morning America and explained why she should not resign or otherwise be held accountable: “we really need to start the healing process and move forward.” On a radio program in the afternoon, she expanded on this view by saying: “We need to move on.”
That's it. That's all it means. It means go away. It means stop talking about how I hurt you. It means stop talking about the wrong done and the reparation due, the action taken and the appropriate consequences. It means I am sick of hearing you whine. It means I want to leave you and your mistreatment and your issues behind on the road and who cares if you're still bleeding, because at least I stopped hitting you and really, what more do you people want from me? Just heal already, so that I can forget.
Once and for all time, the person hurt is the person who decides when it's time to move on. The person affected is the person who decides when the "healing process" starts, and what the healing process even IS. It is not up to the perpetrator to determine what course of action the victim needs to take.
I personally think it would start the living hell out of everybody's healing process if Katehi resigned before she was sued into next week, but again, that's not up to me. Until one of the students pepper-sprayed in the face for the outrageous crime of sitting on the sidewalk tells us all what needs to happen for the healing process to begin, I think we can consider this whole thing officially un-healed.
First came the atrocity, then came the vanity. The atrocity is what Jerry Sandusky has been accused of doing at Penn State. The vanity is the outraged reaction of a zillion commentators over the past week, whose indignation is based on the assumption that if they had been in Joe Paterno’s shoes, or assistant coach Mike McQueary’s shoes, they would have behaved better. They would have taken action and stopped any sexual assaults.
Unfortunately, none of us can safely make that assumption. Over the course of history — during the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide or the street beatings that happen in American neighborhoods — the same pattern has emerged. Many people do not intervene. Very often they see but they don’t see.
First up: Advocating for action to stop sexual abuse as it occurs, and then strenuous laws aimed at preventing it from ever happening again, comes across as morally superior BECAUSE IT IS. If it's now out-of-bounds smug to say we should as a society better protect the powerless from those who prey upon them, smug sounds pretty good to me.
Second: It's entirely possible to say that someone in such-and-such position should have done something, while also acknowledging that in that same position, you don't know what you would have done.
But even if you can't say precisely what you would have done, you should at least know what should be done. And every time you say it out loud, you move us all a little farther away from the place where we riot in favor of an institution that enabled sexual abuse. The entire point of talking about the people who didn't see, or saw and didn't act, or acted but not strongly enough, is to reinforce the idea that passivity in the face of evil is not okay.
So of course along comes David Brooks to talk about how that's just a normal human reaction, so, you know, whatevs. It's interesting that he assumes that all outrage on the part of "a zillion commentators" (obviously not this very good one that makes the same point without the smarm and judgment) comes from a place of vanity. What else could possibly motivate such outrage?
Commentators ruthlessly vilify all involved from the island of their own innocence. Everyone gets to proudly ask: “How could they have let this happen?”
The proper question is: How can we ourselves overcome our natural tendency to evade and self-deceive. That was the proper question after Abu Ghraib, Madoff, the Wall Street follies and a thousand other scandals. But it’s a question this society has a hard time asking because the most seductive evasion is the one that leads us to deny the underside of our own nature.
Brooks prefaces this, his oh-so-brave contrarian stance, with a few grafs that blither on about how we used to acknowledge our sinfulness but now kids have self-esteem so we can't do that anymore. Or something.
As to David's other examples: The problem in the wake of our torturing innocent people in secret prisons was not insufficient self-examination. It was that we were torturing innocent people in secret prisons and needed to not ever be doing that. David Brooks, now so concerned that we turned away from our inner angels, spent much of the past decade studiously not mentioning the innocent man shipped off to Syria to be tortured.
I assume he didn't say anything at the time because he didn't want to appear superior.
I don't like generational sniping. First of all, there's no contest to win Greatest Generation, pace Tom Brokaw. Second, I think it obscures complexity and makes it easier for us to fetishize the good old days while dismissing the contributions of the young (and thereby letting the young off the hook in the process), but there's something in this otherwise messy piece that I've talked about a lot:
We looked to Washington to lead us after September 11th. I remember telling my college roommates, in a spate of emotion, that I was thinking of enlisting in the military in the days after the attacks. I expected legions of us -- at the orders of our leader -- to do the same. But nobody asked us. Instead we were told to go shopping.
The times following September 11th called for leadership, not reckless, gluttonous tax cuts. But our leaders then, as now, seemed more concerned with flattery. Then -House Majority Leader and now-convicted felon Tom Delay told us, “nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” Not exactly Churchillian stuff.
Those of us who did enlist were ordered into Iraq on the promise of being “greeted as liberators,” in the words of our then-vice president. Several thousand of us are dead from that false promise.
We looked for leadership from our churches, and were told to fight not poverty or injustice, but gay marriage. In the Catholic Church, we were told to blame the media, not the abusive priests, not the bishops, not the Vatican, for making us feel that our church has failed us in its sex abuse scandal and cover-up.
I can see where you'd read that and say, look, don't wait for a leader, just be one, it's not magic. I think a lot of our problems have come from the idea that we have to sit around and wait until just the right, perfect, sinless person comes along and THEN we'll get off the couch. THEN it won't be a risk of any kind to do what we've known for years we should do, which is fight for the powerless against the great. Just get off your entitled ass already, Generation X/Y/Whatever.
This is speaking to something else, though, and it's how the leaders we do have underestimated us at a critical point in our history. They took people who were, by and large, willing to do just about anything after 9/11. Those who weren't taking the opportunity to be bigoted assholes and burn down Pakistani-owned gas stations were as ready as anyone sitting by the radio listening to FDR to be called upon to serve. And when no such moment came, the adrenaline and energy went directionless, turned inward, became exhaustion and fear and despair.
We fear asking great things of others because we're afraid we'll lose them. If you grab your pennant and jump on your horse and yell, "This way!" and no one follows you, you'll look like an asshole, right? Better to mill around in the field with everybody else. I think, and I know how ridiculous this sounds because how much power do these people have, that they're actually afraid to lead. Look at the way Democrats always back down, at the first sign of opposition. "Ooh, it's about to go bad, better cut our losses now." Even look at the way Republicans always run back to the safest parts of their orthodoxy, to old ideas that even they know won't accomplish a fraction of what they say they want.
And it's HORSESHIT. You never lose people because you ask too much of them. You lose people because you ask too little. Eventually everybody's going to get sick of camp food and sleeping outside in the rain and go home, if nobody says, "this way!" and sounds the call to arms.
Hell, if nobody follows you at least you're going somewhere.
I broke this story when I was still reporting for the Daily Southtown, eight years ago. As part of a 9/11 retrospective I was asked to look in on the case, and this was the update:
A suburban Chicago Muslim leader exiled from the United States after 9/11 could be back as early as this fall after a federal judge declared the government's argument for keeping him away "totally asinine."
Sabri Samirah, formerly of Orland Park, has spent the past eight years in his native Jordan. In 2003, he traveled there to visit his sick mother and on his way back was stopped by immigration authorities, informed he was a "national security risk" and barred from returning to America.
Today, his lawyer is negotiating the terms of his return to America. Samirah is hopeful he will be back before the end of the year.
These alternating epochs arrive unannounced and elbow one another aside. During one morning's aeronautical attack in 2001, this nation discarded the carefree holiday from history that traced to 11/9 — the date in 1989 when dispirited communism gave up on the Berlin Wall — for the combative era of 9/11. It was just that fast: One day Americans assume they're invulnerable; the next day warriors armed with knives and ailerons are murdering them by the thousands.
Guys? I know it's hard to bestir yourselves from Morton's, but attempt for two minutes to realize that from where you are sitting you can chuck a rock and hit three or four neighborhoods where absolutely nobody had then or has now any illusions of invulnerability. Not everybody needed the crash course in coping with disaster that they got after 9/11. Not everybody needs to be told by the TV news how to talk to their kids about things that suck.
Even if we're only talking terrorism, a bunch of people wrote this book report called BIN LADEN IS GOING TO KILL US ALL FOR REAL, and that the president shrugged and went back to his pudding doesn't mean nobody else gave it a thought. I realize noticing the people who noticed this sort of thing requires us all to feel stupid for not listening to them, but feeling stupid for not listening to people who were right is kind of a required thing.
The message “9-11 Go Home” was spray-painted on the exterior wall of State Line Grocery, heavily damaged by the fire reported at 2:40 a.m. [EDT] on Wednesday, Clay County Sheriff Vic Davis told Hatewatch. The convenience store, reportedly owned by a Sikh family, is located three miles south of Hayesville, N.C., in Clay County, on State Highway 69 near the Georgia border. It was closed at the time of the fire. Arvinder Singh, who operates the store and lives nearby, was not injured. He could not be reached for comment.
“There’s a possibility,” the sheriff said when asked if the arson fire appeared to be a hate crime. “What leads us to believe it may be a hate crime is what’s written on the side of the building,’’ the sheriff said. “These are foreigners that run that place, you know.”
There is this sentimentalized picture of us, after 9/11, baking cakes for firefighters and donating blood and deciding to be nicer to our neighbors for about a week. We remember it that way because we have to, because it's human to want to justify something so frightening. It made us better people! It made us stronger! Which, as I said earlier, places responsibility on the wrong party, on the thing that happened, rather than on ourseves.
We made us better, we made us stronger, we made us braver.
We made us this, too:
Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sikhs increasingly have been the targets of hate crimes. In March, Surinder Singh, 65, was shot and killed in Elk Grove, Calif., while walking with his friend, Gurmej Atwal, 78, who was critically wounded and later died. Both men were wearing dastars [traditional Sikh turbans] and long beards common to men of that faith.
There have been no arrests in that double-murder investigation.
If your child is musical
don't study piano
and if he's dying
stay off his turf
So begins a poem Charlotte Mayerson wrote after her son died of AIDS. Her book about losing him, The Death Cycle Machine, clarified the way I felt about a lot of things, but this most of all: Ownership of another's experience, and how violently opposed to it I am. Someone else's suffering is not yours, it's not for you, and while you can be profoundly changed by things that have happened to others, you can't forget who those things happened to.
I had to be slammed to the ground
A thousand times
Before I figured out
Whose tragedy it was
People said this stuff all the time, in the days following 9/11, and they're saying it again now, in the relentless waves of anniversary coverage. "This has reminded me of how short life is." Umm, okay? Great? For you? I'm sure every single dead person is grateful for the chance to give you a little psychic kick in the ass? "This has made me love my family more." "This has made me go back to church." "I'm going to learn more about the world now." Awesome! But wasn't it kind of a lot of pressure to put on New York, on its still-smoking skyline, to teach you a lesson?
Who is today for? I did not lose anyone on 9/11. There was a friend in Washington we didn't hear from, for a few hours, but he was fine. This 10-year anniversary is not prompting me to react with post-traumatic stress (unless the overwhelming snappish anger toward treacly remembrances counts). This isn't mine. It's not for me. There is no hole in my horizon. I've been to New York twice, liked it both times, love many people there. I've visited DC, seen the Pentagon before and since the attacks. But these places aren't my home, and I can't claim it as such. I wasn't breathing dust and ashes. I didn't hear the planes, or feel the ground shake.
Back to Mayerson again:
That, broken heart or no
I'd one day sip
Condolence tea with honey
While he would choke
Maybe if I had lost someone, I would be grateful for an entire country of strangers honoring him with their thoughts, today. But part of me says that's not what we're doing, right now. My doctor's office runs The Today Show no matter how much I complain, so Friday while I waited to be seen I was stuck listening to Matt Lauer and his cast of pretty twerps telling us all how to feel, as if feeling is primarily what we're supposed to be doing here.
There was this rage-inducing Bush interview [video], where he was asked about what it was like "to be commander in chief on that day." Because primarily what we're concerned about here is how the costume felt. Not, why did you respond the way you did, not, why did you drag America into two unwinnable wars and fail to kill or capture the man responsible, not in what possible way did any of your justice department's failed prosecutions of suspected terrorists help keep us safe at all, but what was it like to be playing a real-life war games scenario? What was it like, in Presidential Candyland? The barely suppressed excitement, in that question, as if that moment was not the breaking apart of thousands of lives but the beginning of a grand adventure.
And why not, really? It's not as if we drew any profound connectedness from these events, after day three or so. Bush told us to go shopping and carry on like nothing had happened, and in large part we did that, those of us for whom this was something we watched from afar. Even now, it's like, "What wars?" We thought it was awesome that Obama managed to have bin Laden killed but then we went right back to trying to make the mortgage.
If any part of this belongs to the country, if any part of this belongs to "us" as a whole, it's in what came after. In our complicity in the wars, in how we failed to stop so much of the hysteria and fearmongering from taking us over. In our willingness to take anything and everything off at the airport and our steadfast refusal to consider a change in how we deal with the rest of the world. In how we made enemies of allies, fought wars basically to make our pundits feel good about themselves, keep electing people who can't solve problems ... that's what we all own. That's what we all did, and didn't do.
But that's not a spectacle. That's not a show. And that pales, doesn't it, next to the voice mail message someone can't erase, because then he'll never hear her voice again.
Today doesn't belong to "America." It belongs to the dead and to their families. To those who tried to stop it, and those who succeeded, and those who failed. That the rest of us watched it like a movie, that can't be avoided, but we can avoid being absolutely gross about it, pretending that gives us admission to the show. Someone's father is dead ten years today. Someone's mother would have had a birthday, seen a grandchild born. Someone's husband, someone's wife, someone's brother, someone's friend, someone's son, someone's daughter. Ten years of holidays, trips to the beach, missed. Ten years of aching loss.
Not mine. Theirs. Yours, maybe. You have my condolences.
Never forget, people will say today. Not thinking about how lucky they are, to be able to even consider the option. Thousands of families don't have to be told.
Ok campers - a little change in protocol today - we're going to have to inspect the Freepertude from perspex windows outside the iso chamber - it's too crazy and dangerous to go in there just now.
You see - Norway happened.
Posted on Friday, July 22, 2011 11:50:05 AM by cll
Edited on Friday, July 22, 2011 11:53:53 AM by Admin Moderator. [history]
A man disguised as a police officer began shooting where youth were attending a Labour party conference at Utoya, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has just confirmed...To: cll
For a country under 5 million people this is their comparison to 9/11. Not to diminish 9/11 but this is horrible.
I have many friends in Norway, some posting on Facebook already. They have spoken often of Muslims not integrating into Norwegian society at all. But mostly everyone felt safe.
Possibly because they actually knew some Muslims, as opposed to reading about them in places like FR, or seeing them as cartoon creations?
To: cllIn my travels working with troop movements, I have been to Oslo on occasion. Fine city, wonderful people. God be with them in spirit and courage, strength and rage be with them in the flesh.
These bastards are evil and sick, and their religious beliefs are beneath contempt.
Time for Western Civilization to Rock the Casbah again.
On THEIR turf...To: cllThis will not stop until a real war on islam begins... and we all know that it is muslim demons that are doing this.
LLS23 posted on Friday, July 22, 2011 12:09:21 PM by LibLieSlayer ("GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH"! I choose LIBERTY and PALIN!)..To: alisasnyMost of the older Norwegians do not like what has been happening in their country but they do like their cradle to grave benefits
so they haven't said enough.....the younger generation (under 40) have been raised to worship at the twin altars of “tolerance” and “diversity”.
Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for them, as well as the other European countries who have welcomed the wolves into their sheep folds and are now surprised to discover “what sharp teeth” they have!29 posted on Friday, July 22, 2011 12:16:04 PM by VikingMom (I may not know what the future holds but I know who holds the future!)..To: cllMust be the Amish or the Mormons again.
Norway needs to get a clue that an immigration policy which is driven by political correctness is suicidal.37 posted on Friday, July 22, 2011 12:35:46 PM by American Infidel (Instead of vilifying success, try to emulate it)..To: dfwgator
“This is a new kind of, a new kind of evil. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while. And American people must be patient.”
George W Bush, September 6th, 2011.
Anybody really think he used the word “crusade” accidentally? I don’t.
That's because you're a dumbass, too.
Police have a suspect in custody. Looks like it was a right-wing Norwegian native trying to take members of the ruling Labor Party.
So much for all the comments on every Muslim that exists!
It wasn’t a muslim attack. It was a home-grown white boy.
150 posts of muslim hate and it wasn’t even a muslim.
To: Prairie Rat
Still, it could have been muslims,
Well, there you go.
I'll keep that in mind, fuckmonkey.
I'd like to say it gets better, but after the jumpola...we have Bachmann.
Good morning, everyone!
You know, I almost - almost - feel sorry for the Freepers.
First the birth certificate, and now this.
Rumsfield Chief of Staff tweet: Osama Bin Laden Killed (Confirmed!)
Twitter - Keith Urbahn (Rumsfield's COS)
Posted on Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:43:12 PM by ph12321
Chief of Staff of Donald Rumsfield tweeted OBL has been killed. Perhaps this is Obama's new speech coming soon?
Why is the first thing I think is: How convenient?
Good if true.
It's true. This man is a moron.
3 posted on Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:45:02 PM by CommieCutter (Promote Liberal Extinction: Support gay marriage and abortion!)..To: ph12321
well wag the dog,
this will cover the fake birth certificate!!!!5 posted on Sunday, May 01, 2011 9:45:07 PM by 9422WMR (Illegal is not a race. Obamacare is a crime)..
The death certificate has been faked. Check for chromatic aberration.
“Chief of Staff of Donald Rumsfield”
Your first clue this is BS.
To: freebillyHope it’s true....
Seriously?! I can't stand the thought of this pretender taking credit for OBL's death. Ugh ... the left will go nuts over this.
This is, in a way, a followup to Athenae's post this morning. Over my lifetime, we've increasingly become a nation of busy bodies. The right wants to tell women they don't have control over their own bodies and gays that they should neither smooch nor have sexy times. My brothers and sisters on the left have spent the last few days telling people how to react to the death of Osama bin Laden; including trotting out a quote from MLK that was only partially accurate. The sub-head on Joan Walsh's post at Salon sums up my reaction quite succinctly: "The frenzy over a "fake" quote reveals our desire to outsource our moral decision-making to someone else." Joan is a smart woman.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion but no one is entitled to tell other people what to think or feel. I didn't do the boogaloo in the street when I heard about the demise of the master criminal bin Laden but was tempted to do so when *my* personal bete noir Slobodan Milosevic died. I hope that if Hitler had died in 1938 that folks wouldn't have berated the people he persecuted-Jews, Gypsies, Lefties to name but a few-for being glad he was dead. Yes, Osama was a piker compared to the Fuhrer BUT the anaology is still applicable.
My late mother was a kind person who was always willing to help others BUT she's the one who taught me to mind my own business and not offer unsolicited advice. She once said: "They call it unsolicited advice because you weren't asked. If you're asked, be honest and straight forward but nobody likes a Nosy Parker."
I never quite knew (or cared) who Parker was and why he or she was so bloody nosy but it was sound advice then and just as sound in this era of social networking. In short, mind your own beeswax and don't be a fucking busy body:
I'm Greek so I understand vendettas and the desire for vengeance. The Greeks aren't as obsessive about revenge as the Sicilians but try ordering Turkish coffee in any Hellenic eatery. If you do so, prepare to duck because some crockery may be headed your way. Smash.
I had a Greek-Greek relative who was convinced that everything good was invented by the Greeks: it was like hearing a Stalinist insist that Russians had invented the telephone, telegraph and Tina Turner's dance moves. I once asked this Uncle (a third cousin but every guy who's older than you in a Greek family is called Theo or Uncle) to explain why baklava was made throughout the former Ottoman Empire if it was strictly a Greek dish. His answer: it was spread by itinerant Greek chefs who fed phylo to the Turkish phillistines. (Okay, that last bit was embellishment.) He went on to remind me that if it was Turkish, it was skattah (shit.) I didn't buy it but I enjoyed busting the old boy's chops.
That was a circuitous way of saying that, while I don't plan to dance in the street to celebrate bin Laden's demise, I'm not shedding any tears for a mass murderer. Slaying that particular bearded dragon doesn't really change much but I've enjoyed observing the political contortions of folks on both the far left and far right; all of whom are determined to fit this unwieldy narrative into an ideologically tidy box. Forget about it, y'all. The world is not only a mess, it's messy.
Even before May Day, Osama bin Laden was yesterday's man. I'm far more interested in seeing if we yet again send the Pakistanis to bed without supper and then throw another a few billion dollars at them. Spare the rod, spoil the Pakstani security forces. It's clearly time to put them on a starvation diet since Osama was hiding in plain sight not far from the Pakistani version of West Point. What does it take for us to get properly pissed off at the Pakistanis? If this doesn't do it, nothing will. I suspect, however, that our abusive relationship with Pakistani will continue...
First of all, I have zero interest in scolding anybody for being happy today. For dancing or singing or spraying champagne. For celebrating for the TV cameras, for Twitter, or just for themselves. For cracking jokes. We grieve how we grieve, and make no mistake, this is still grief. It's impossible to get an A in it, and it's grotesque to try. Lecturing others on how to do it right is just a way to draw attention to yourself, to make you the Virtuous Voice of Truth. I've never liked that voice. Ever.
But let me ask you this: Read this and tell me, could we have done this before now?
In an interview at CIA headquarters two weeks ago, a senior intelligence official said the two proud groups of American secret warriors had been “deconflicted and basically integrated” -- finally -- 10 years after 9/11. Indeed, according to accounts given to journalists by five senior administration officials Sunday night, the CIA gathered the intelligence that led to bin Laden’s location. A memo from CIA Director Leon Panetta sent Sunday night provides some hints of how the information was collected and analyzed. In it, he thanked the National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for their help. NSA figured out, somehow, that there was no telephone or Internet service in the compound. How it did this without Pakistan’s knowledge is a secret. The NGIA makes the military’s maps but also develops their pattern recognition software -- no doubt used to help establish, by February of this year, that the CIA could say with “high probability” that bin Laden and his family were living there.
Could we have had the champagne at Ground Zero, could we have had the dancing and the singing, the silence and the reflection, the closure and the open wounds, without the past 10 years of pointless death in Iraq and Afghanistan? There were no military casualties from killing bin Laden, the president said, and it hit me like a fist in the gut. Could we have done this, brought justice however brutal, without killing another American soul?
There are times I go to a Pat Robertson-type place, I really do, and think about the karmic bitchslap we are so utterly due for what we've done. And I pray, almost, an argument, "lots of us tried to stop it." Tried, of course, meaning nothing to the dead.
So this morning the wars continue, because after all they weren't about bin Laden. If we had done this 10 years ago, would it have been enough? The president talked about how united we were on 9/11; I was working that day and every day thereafter, not too far from where he was, and he is telling us a pretty story, a pretty lie. We were not united. We were fractious and enraged, and quite a few Sikh and Indian men, quite a few innocent Muslim women, can attest to that if we choose to listen to them. In that furious fear-driven anger, would this have been enough?
Look at the pictures. Look at the joy and sorrow. You tell me.