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hearts and minds
January 15, 2005 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Physically and sexually mistreating detainees at Abu Ghraib under orders... 10 years.
Abusing prisoners, raping a young Iraqi boy, and lying under oath(allegedly) because you're a "go-getter"... $164 million, $16 to $85 million.

Knowing the President and members of congress on both sides of the aisle have your back so long as you're not enlisted(wouldn't have covered corporate types, but what the hey, thought I'd toss it in)... Priceless!
posted by rocket_skates (76 comments total)

 
It's not flamebait at all, but shows how scapegoats are supposed to make it all ok, while we continue to reward the private firms that ordered this horrendous shit.

I emailed Rep. Waxman who's been vocal about abuse and corruption in the Pentagon, but have no hope anymore. (go to the right for his tipline)
posted by amberglow at 7:58 PM on January 15, 2005


First of all, you're wrong. Private firms didn't order this. This guy did. And it's clear that the only reason he hasn't been fired is that This guy probably had something to do with it, or there's some other kind of dirt that's being held up somewhere.

Now, that said (and if you couldn't figure it out already), like I said, I'm a partisan, and I agree with every word of it -- it almost transcends ridiculous -- but I have to admit that I'm becoming inured to it. People are going to defend it.

Honestly, I just don't get it anymore. I really don't. It almost makes me cry to think about how these things are happening.

But you're both right. I wasn't being clear. Here's more what I meant: I just don't see what's up for discussion here, but there will inevitably be a discussion, or an argument rather, and it will be or turn into a flamewar, because there's just no rational way to condone any of this. There's not. You can't sell a war the way this was sold and then out CIA agents. You can't pay out taxpayer money to partisan ends. You can't torture people. Period.

I mean, I grew up a lefty Green party type, and eventually drifted to the center as I grew older and less enamored with the Nader wing of the party, but then I end up here, and it's no better. In fact, it's worse, because I'm more moderate now, but from my perspective, things look worse now. I went from being a pacifist to being a hawk, and even after my standards had fallen that far, this came along and happened. I mean, what do you say about hypocrisy and deception and selfishness on this sort of scale? Where do you even begin?

I don't know. The last month, I've just dreaded political discussions. They make me sick.

(On preview: yes, xammer, major formatting errors, like forgetting to double-space between grafs, which I wasn't even going to mention, do piss me off. These things should be caught on preview.)
posted by spiderwire at 8:25 PM on January 15, 2005


Fenriq said it on the thread before this one better that I did:

But man, it is getting incredibly damned hard to not become bitter and cynical. I feel like a foreigner in my own country now.

No -- wait. Before anyone pipes up, yes, I'll pack my bags and head for Canada right now. I promise.

...

No, wait, I've got an alternate proposal! I just thought of this. Re-secession! It's still not too late for the Blue states to change our mind, right? "No, you know what, we were totally wrong. The South, you can totally have it. No, no, really, we insist."

"No. Seriously. WE INSIST."

...

OK, it's a Saturday night and I clearly need to go start getting drunk in a big way.
posted by spiderwire at 8:32 PM on January 15, 2005


the NYT calls him the Ringleader as if it was his idea--ridiculous
posted by amberglow at 8:46 PM on January 15, 2005


< *very very* nervous about the following self-link, but am pretty sure it's relevant...>

As the lead in that last link states, this administration is expert at "fending off questions."

The re-inauguration is on Thursday. My organization is sponsoring an online event to "Ask President Bush" questions on inauguration day. I think questions about torture are more than fair game.

More here.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:50 PM on January 15, 2005


and the idiot-in-chief says this: President Bush says there is no need to hold anyone in his administration accountable for what has happened in Iraq because the voters have already spoken.
"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post for Sunday's editions.

posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on January 15, 2005


Un-fucking-believable.

I just don't know what to say. Of course, there is the obvious "Where the fuck is the press?!" but that just gets repetitive.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:13 PM on January 15, 2005


amberglow, that's what scares the shit out of me about Bush, he believes that the election gives him the power to do any damned thing he pleases.

So far he's been right.

The fact is that plenty of people know that Charles Graner wasn't acting in a vacuum, nor was Lynndie England or Sabrina Harmon or any of the others who haven't yet been paraded by us so we can see the evil that they are and blame the torture on them. We know but most people won't even question it.

Because the Bush camp knows that people will attach their fury and anger to the people that are labelled as the ones who did it. They know that the majority of people will accept the story being told. They know that who controls the information, controls the world.

BushCo has become pretty impressively adept at ignoring issues they can't win and exploiting issues that make the Democrats look like doofuses. I'm tired of my party getting its ass handed to it on a constantly shifting playing field.

My choice to guide the party is Howard Dean. I hope he gets the chance.
posted by fenriq at 9:25 PM on January 15, 2005


I don't get your where is the press question, e_d, and I'm a little tired of reading it: Four of the five links in this FPP are to major media websites. In the thread about Frank Rich's column ripping on the Jan. 7 Crossfire people were asking why pundits, commentators and the like are considered journalists when they're obvious advocates yet here the opposite seems to be the case, you want journalists to go beyond reporting the facts.

I agree we would be happier if the press asked more pointed questions, persistently, until a meaningful answer is given, but in our current system that's not realistic because the individual reporters are not given that kind of access. I am reasonably satisfied that American voters had sufficient information available to them in this past November's elections to make the choice we both would have preferred, but you cannot force the information on the general public a la Clockwork Orange.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:28 PM on January 15, 2005


"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," is the sickest buck-passing I've ever heard. The President just laid the blame for his actions on every man and woman who voted for him. The working guys who voted for their $300 tax rebate, the lady who wants to protect unborn children (I'm pro-choice but think how hard you'd protect them if you were pro-life), the guy who only knows Iraq from what CNN tells him. These people are not responsible for the government's actions. They can only predict so far what their leaders will do. In the end, this man bears the blame for his life.

Billsaythis, did you mean "a la 1984"?
posted by NickDouglas at 9:45 PM on January 15, 2005


"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," is the sickest buck-passing I've ever heard. The President just laid the blame for his actions on every man and woman who voted for him.

Argh. Well-said.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:51 PM on January 15, 2005


remember back in the A-Team days when we could still call people who fight for money mercenaries? i love it when a plan comes together...
posted by lucksmonday at 9:54 PM on January 15, 2005


These people are not responsible for the government's actions.

Oh, but they are. That's the idea in a democracy, anyway.
(Not that I disagree about Bush being despicable and all.)
posted by muckster at 10:12 PM on January 15, 2005


Yep, after three service stripes (three years service each), two distinguished unit awards, and four rows of ribbons Graner proudly walks to the guillotine without screaming.

What went on is disgusting; but for this soldier to take the fall for carrying out actions and orders that potentially a hundred people were aware of reflects the two-tiered disposability and mistreatment of our miltary NCOs as compared to officers and civilian contractors. Head shakingly pathetic. More suiting would be to simply change the NCO creed from "I am the backbone of the Army" to "I am the lower caste of the Army".

Of course and always, if you know something is wrong, and you keep on doing something that is wrong....
posted by buzzman at 10:16 PM on January 15, 2005


These are the guys who should be asked a few questions - but I dont think they would like their own methods
Titan and CACI International
posted by adamvasco at 10:19 PM on January 15, 2005


Nine years in the service and the guy's a Specialist? (one step below Sergeant)

I agree with Buzzman, he's a fall guy. But didn't they say there would be more prosecutions, including officers? I seem to remember hearing prosecutors were trying to roll this stuff up from the bottom. Then again, DoD probably wants to keep the number of trials low. Get this off the front pages.
posted by atchafalaya at 10:36 PM on January 15, 2005


It's also obvious partisan flamebait
uh....
Knowing the President and members of congress on both sides of the aisle have your back, Priceless!
posted by rocket_skates at 10:43 PM on January 15, 2005


I have to admit that I'm becoming inured to it
As have I, which is why I've redoubled my efforts to bring up issues such as this in as neutral a manner as possible.
major formatting errors, like forgetting to double-space between grafs, which I wasn't even going to mention, do piss me off
If that's what pisses you off about this thread, not the fact that DoD is renewing contracts with companies that implicitly had a role in Abu Ghraib by not conducting background checks, follow up interviews or screening fingerprints, then frankly I really could care less if you're "inured to it." As cathartic as it may be to express your disenchantment with the democratic process, spare me. So you were a MasterNader who shifted to the center and you're upset with where that leaves you, awesome! Get a blog. Stop grousing.
posted by rocket_skates at 10:52 PM on January 15, 2005


Get this off the front pages
Are you serious? Check out the 12 or so threads before this and tell me this isn't FPP worthy. You aren't required to read or comment in threads. If you have issue with a post, MetaTalk is the place to take your griping.
posted by rocket_skates at 10:55 PM on January 15, 2005


First of all, you're wrong. Private firms didn't order this.
Did I ever imply that? No. I was merely pointing out that due to sloppy screening and/or management, Tritan and CACI were party to abuse at Abu Ghraib. Should their contracts be renewed? The guys charged in these cases were fired, that's it. Graner acting under orders from superiors (according to his testimony) got 10 years in the brig. What's your issue with this post now that you've done some dumping in it? Care to address any of the real questions raised here besides punctuation and your own political soul searching?
posted by rocket_skates at 11:04 PM on January 15, 2005


People are going to defend it.
Boo-F'ing-Hoo. People have defended all kinds of atrocious things; slavery, apartheid, the inquisition, crusades, witch hunts, world wars, the holocaust, genocide, chemical weapons attacks on civilians, jim crow, the 3/5ths clause, terrorism, segregation, racism, etc etc. IMO you're just as bad as the people rooting for this kind of stuff, you're enabling it with your apathetic who-cares attitude. No offense, but you need to reexamine what's right, what's worth standing up for and fighting for.
posted by rocket_skates at 11:14 PM on January 15, 2005


I hate to say it, but I cease to be amazed by Bush's and his administration's sheer arrogance and absurdity. That's not to say that I am not more pissed off than ever.
posted by wsg at 12:50 AM on January 16, 2005


That didn't deserve four posts.

If that's what pisses you off about this thread

Read what I wrote, Mr. Champion Reactionary. I said that I didn't want to have to watch another important issue degenerate into partisan backslapping and kvetching, which isn't an indictment of your FPP. At least, it wasn't until you got all righteously indignant about it.

And yes, you still don't know to format HTML properly. And that isn't my fault.

Did I ever imply that [private firms ordered this]?

No, but amberglow did. Hence, "while we continue to reward the private firms that ordered this horrendous shit." Read the thread, genius.

Let's note: I wasn't disagreeing with amberglow, either (I like amberglow), but it was still an inaccurate statement, and so I corrected it. Your response is just asinine.

No offense, but you need to reexamine what's right, what's worth standing up for and fighting for.

And you, my friend, are completely missing my point; in addition, your brand of more-righteous-than-thou shocked indignation is precisely the reason I became disenchanted with the radical left in the first place. It's campus-leftism that doesn't care about positions or pragmatism and is only concerned with hearing its own voice screaming from the soapbox.

Did you even read either comment?

Look. If you'd read the rest of the thread, you'd understand what I'm trying to say, but since you didn't, I'm gonna explain it to you really slowly and in small words. I agree with you. 100%. What I'm tired of is the fact that many people can hear about these things and, nevertheless, continue to defend them with whatever tired line Ari Fleischer or Scott McLellan or whatever mouthpiece of the week happens to feed them. I just don't get that.

And it's making me tired. I'm sick of it. Your claim that I have a "who-cares" attitude is not only the deepest sort of insult, it's fucking ignorant. Sure, fine, I agree with you -- this country is in a hole.

But, from where I'm sitting, it's in the deepest, darkest sort of hole that I had ever imagined. In fact, you know -- I don't even know how we got here. I really don't. I'm so baffled by this state of affairs, that, you know what? I think that your soapbox indignation doesn't even begin to meet the smell test of being pissed off enough at what's going on. In fact, I think that if you had any idea of what's going on around you, you'd stop being so righteously pissed off at the people who, fundamentally, agree with you, and start thinking about where you are and exactly what the fuck to do about it right now, aside from posting poorly-formatted FPPs to a random out-of-the-way website. Answer that question for me, smart guy, and then maybe I'll give you the time of day. Until that day, your post, and your response, makes me even more despondent about the state of the country, because it makes me think that all of us over on this side of the aisle just have no idea how to respond to what's going on. None. And confusion about the subject is bad -- but ignorance of the sort that you're displaying right now is even worse. And I hope that you're not the mouthpiece of our party, or our side.

When you posted this, I began to think that -- perhaps -- you had some clue as to what's going on, but after reading the four comments you just wasted, you've killed that small glimmer of hope. I hope to whatever's holy every day that the Left has managed to get a grip on itself after the election, and every day I read liberal blogs and MetaFilter and the news media, and I'm let down. So take heart. When the GOP mouthpieces start to talk about the Left turning in on itself after the election, take heart: they're talking about you.

"No offense," but if you're going to post FPPs about torture and the state that the country's in now, which is a subject of the utmost and most solemn gravity, then at least have the capacity to discuss it civilly and intelligently. Don't jump on the people who agree with you after their two-line posts.
posted by spiderwire at 12:51 AM on January 16, 2005


Incidentally, I'm going to agree with fenriq on this thread, too.

I desperately hope that Dean becomes the DNC chair. We're even more lost than we know. He's the right man at the right time, and we need someone to kick us in the collective ass. He can do it.
posted by spiderwire at 12:53 AM on January 16, 2005


President Bush says there is no need to hold anyone in his administration accountable for what has happened in Iraq because the voters have already spoken.
Then we have every right to call the 5% (and rising) of the voting public who believe Iraq was a mistake but voted for him anyway TOTAL IDIOTS.
Oh, and the 20+% who oppose his Social Security privatization plan but voted for him anyway, them too...
And the 15-20% who want to keep abortion legal but votes for him anyway, them especially.

Maybe some of them will ultimately realize that their votes were essentially ENABLING A SOCIOPATH, but it's probably too late. If his policies have what really looks to be the desired effect of provoking just enough terrorist action against the U.S. to provide an excuse to shut down our civil liberties, then they won't get a chance to rectify their mistake, 'cause there ain't gonna be an '08 Presidential Election. And the sooner we start peparing for that semi-ineviable future, the less energy we'll waste being a "loyal opposition".
posted by wendell at 12:54 AM on January 16, 2005


The President just laid the blame for his actions on every man and woman who voted for him.

The blame may not lie with them, but the responsibility certainly does. May they someday realize what they have done, and may that come without those they love dying in welters of fire and blood.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:14 AM on January 16, 2005


Absolutely disagree with wendell. If people disagree with Bush's policies but vote for him anyway, that's our fault for not making the distinction clear and for allowing them to continue the obfuscation. Granted, it's harder to clear up the falsehoods than to spin them, but no one ever said it was easy to be right.

Getting self-righteous and reactionary about the whole thing doesn't help, however.

That said, I agree with stavros completely. Wrong as 55% (+/-) of the populace may be, I hope that we can bring some of them around quick enough to prevent things from getting much worse than they are.
posted by spiderwire at 2:34 AM on January 16, 2005



If people disagree with Bush's policies but vote for him anyway, that's our fault for not making the distinction clear

The Washpost also has an overlong, fitfully interesting piece interviewing people in red states, showing they had a million different reasons for voting for Bush and very few to vote against him, given the Democrats' decision not to campaign at all in most of the country.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:50 AM on January 16, 2005


Sorry, I fucked up that link.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:51 AM on January 16, 2005


"Get this off the front pages."

I wasn't clear. I meant the DoD would like this topic to disappear from the front pages of newspapers.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:13 AM on January 16, 2005


While I agree that the administration seems quite content to let the enlisted soldiers play scapegoat, Graner is hardly the poster boy for a scapegoat in this mess. He loved the torture and control way too much. He is one sick bastard who should stay out of any position of authority over another human being, probably animals too. I hope that as the prosecutions continue a better example of scapegoating arises to bring national attention back to this issue and focuses that attention on the people in power who caused all of this - Bush and a few of his inner circle and a handful of generals that condoned and pushed the concept of softening up the prisoners.
posted by caddis at 6:24 AM on January 16, 2005


The blame may not lie with them, but the responsibility certainly does.

Yes. Americans: if you travel abroad this year, don't forget to carry proof that you voted for someone other than Bush. Otherwise, you will be treated with the disrespect you deserve.
posted by riviera at 7:04 AM on January 16, 2005


hey guys, there's a lot of nice, progressive folks in the south. and we like it here. and we don't want to seceed. oh, and also what the fuck do we, as southerners, have to do with abu ghraib? not to be humorless but it becomes tiresome, as a red-stater (my county was very, very blue) to be endlessly snarked.
posted by glenwood at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2005


...all of us over on this side of the aisle just have no idea how to respond to what's going on. None.

Now that's an eye opener... sigh.

But instead of arguing over who's side sucks or formatting FPP's, I thought we can all have a civil discussion here that challenges each of us to come up with a definite plan of action where we learn exactly how to respond to this atrocity, and then respond clearly and loudly so that all this madness stops already and lets the world know we don't approve.

I'll be the first to admit I'm clueless about how to do this, but I figure a bunch of smart people could at least start by declaring a ceasefire of hurtful words and maybe suggest actions that may or may not get the desired results, but be more productive than arguing. Amberglow, I think, is on the right track with his letter to a representative. That's how I always heard democracy works. Maybe if this guy and others like him sweat lossing their jobs, they'll actually start doing their jobs? (Elementary, I know, but I warned you I was clueless.)
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:46 AM on January 16, 2005


The prosecution partly proved Graner's depravity by pointing out he shared photos of himself torturing others and did not see how sick they were.

But what about Rumsfeld? Didn't he look at all that stuff and make a decision not to tell the President about it? Didn't he look at all those pictures and basically just sit on them? Didn't he feel they were "normal"?
posted by xammerboy at 7:54 AM on January 16, 2005


"I am realistic about how quickly a society that has been dominated by a tyrant can become a democracy."

Or return to being one, persumably.
posted by rushmc at 7:57 AM on January 16, 2005


Glenwood,

I realize there are nice, progressive folks in the south who are frustrated by northerner's snarks, but some of us northerners are genuinely sick and tired of:

A: Financially carrying southern states.
B: Not being able to have a northern president, ever, because of general southern prejudice to vote only for southern candidates.
C: Inability of the south to join the modern age in so many, many ways.
D: Being told we have no values and are not "nice".
posted by xammerboy at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2005


These people might want to change their name....
posted by IndigoJones at 8:03 AM on January 16, 2005


Lou, it's a start but Waxman's not my Representative--he's just been on top of all the Halliburton and other abuses of contracting. I suggest everyone reading this email him and their local Reps. It's way past time to light a fire under all their butts, Dem or Repub--just as the soldiers and private contractors did in Abu Ghraib.

and spider: read that guy's testimony--he was ordered around by those private contractors along with CIA and regular officers. If it's inaccurate, prove it.
posted by amberglow at 8:11 AM on January 16, 2005


...and may that come without those they love dying in welters of fire and blood.

Or, for that matter, those they don't love. This isn't simply another American melodrama.
posted by 327.ca at 8:16 AM on January 16, 2005


Graner's mother (and not reported in most US papers): Army specialist Charles Graner was punished "for something he was told to do," his mother Irma Graner told reporters as he was led away from the military courtroom in hand and leg shackles.

"You know its the higher-ups that should be on trial ... they let the little guys take the fall for them," Irma Graner said outside the courtroom at the Fort Hood army base in Texas.

posted by amberglow at 8:56 AM on January 16, 2005


ok ok, you'll have to excuse the tone of my response, after a 9 hour drive back from NYC civility was the least of my concerns. My apologies spiderwire. that being said...

Read what I wrote, Mr. Champion Reactionary. I said that I didn't want to have to watch another important issue degenerate into partisan backslapping and kvetching


Where did you express this? You merely slapped a label on my post.

It's also obvious partisan flamebait, but I'm a partisan, so I'll leave that criticism to others.

Maybe this is what you're referring to since it's the only other mention of where spiderwire would like to see this thread go...


I just don't see what's up for discussion here, but there will inevitably be a discussion, or an argument rather, and it will be or turn into a flamewar, because there's just no rational way to condone any of this.

That's all and good but how about we let the discussion pan out before you preemptively dismiss it. Don't take this the wrong way but this isn't SpiderWireFilter. If you want to discuss the issue instead of "kvetching" about how Ralph Nader and the people in the Green party disenchanted you, rock on. I am not the extreme left, I am very much a moderate. It appears that your problem with this post is you're casting it in light of your own political evolutionary process. So you voted for Nader and helped secure Bush a win in 2000. You were disgusted with yourself for being so gullible and buying the "send the RepubliCrats a message! they're all the same!" bullshit. It sounds like you my friend thought you saw something in this post that you're hyper sensitive about because you got suckered. After all you voted for a guy who "doesn't care about positions or pragmatism and is only concerned with hearing [his] own voice screaming from the soapbox." Not my problem, but thanks for being here to make sure no one else makes your mistake. Honestly, it's important that we do learn from it. We see eye to eye on this issue and I certainly went through a dark spell after the election, though I can't say I had a role in putting this party in power which would probably make me a little more glum. I think my "brand of more-righteous-than-thou shocked indignation", though admittedly over the top, is to a degree, justified. I am not you and though you may see some posts of mine that reflect something you don't like about yourself let's try and keep things in the context of the merits of the posts themselves outside of personal experience. In this case it's simply not relevant and through my kneejerk reaction helped to kind of derail this whole post.


No, but amberglow did. Hence, "while we continue to reward the private firms that ordered this horrendous shit." Read the thread, genius.

You got me there. I read amberglows comment and didn't see the word "ordered". I did write Waxman a letter which I'd encourage all of you to do as well.


And you, my friend, are completely missing my point;

We agree on something. =]

What I'm tired of is the fact that many people can hear about these things and, nevertheless, continue to defend them with whatever tired line Ari Fleischer or Scott McLellan or whatever mouthpiece of the week happens to feed them. I just don't get that.

I think we're all tired of this and most of us don't get it. Do you think Bush got where he is today, the Republicans got where they are today by being "tired" of the other side or wringing their hands over not understanding how so many people could be so dumb? Hell no!

Your claim that I have a "who-cares" attitude is not only the deepest sort of insult, it's fucking ignorant. Sure, fine, I agree with you -- this country is in a hole.

But, from where I'm sitting, it's in the deepest, darkest sort of hole that I had ever imagined.


I'm sorry but all of your comments are dripping with "bah, whaddaya gonna do" defeatism. That's pretty close to a "who cares attitude." I agree the current state of things has the potential to take us into said deep, dark hole but we're not there yet! Buck up for the sake of all of us.


In fact, I think that if you had any idea of what's going on around you, you'd stop being so righteously pissed off at the people who, fundamentally, agree with you, and start thinking about where you are and exactly what the fuck to do about it right now, aside from posting poorly-formatted FPPs to a random out-of-the-way website. Answer that question for me, smart guy, and then maybe I'll give you the time of day.

Like working for campaigns? Check. Volunteering for progressive PACs? Check. Giving what little money I have left over from my measly college student income to progressive PACs? Check. Attending city council and school board meetings? Check.

I don't see how picking apart poorly-formatted FPP's that you fundamentally agree with at a random out-of-the-way website is effective either.

As for as the poor formatting goes, I really could care less. If you'd like to shoot me an email with some tips, go for it. Otherwise I'm a little busy with school and work.

every day I read liberal blogs and MetaFilter and the news media, and I'm let down

By all means, POST!

we need someone to kick us in the collective ass

Here here! Motion seconded.

Look, I am sorry about my curt tone. Really, my apologies man and please take anything in my reply with a grain of salt, I tried to tone it down as much as possible. I was in a cranky mood and wrongfully jumped on you. My fault all the way. I hope you can accept my apology.
posted by rocket_skates at 8:59 AM on January 16, 2005


As for as the poor formatting goes

As far as
posted by rocket_skates at 9:00 AM on January 16, 2005


atchafalaya

Ok sorry. Again to anyone I may have lashed out at, so sorry, especially spiderwire. LouReedsSon, right on! This is what I was looking for and will try and contribute to.
posted by rocket_skates at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2005


"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections,"

I would love to see where Bush trumpeted accountability in his stump speech.
posted by Busithoth at 9:31 AM on January 16, 2005


Graner may be a sick fuck but he's still a scapegoat being used to deflect responsibility from the higher ups. He may be wholly deserving of his fate but the buck doesn't stop with him and I doubt there are very many folks on MeFi who would argue that.

But the Bush administration is going to try and weasel out of the noose by giving us these nasty bastard sacrificial lambs. And I think guys like Graner are guilty. But they aren't the only ones.

The question is how do you propel an investigation when the end target is the one controlling the investigation? Who Watches The Watchers?

Bush parlaying the election victory into express permission to do anything he pleases should and will bite him and the GOP in the ass very, very badly. But only if the Democrats get their collective heads out of their collective asses and realize that the game has changed because the other side refuses to play the same way anymore.

I saw some indy show the other day about Jesus' Land and the part I saw was George Bush talking to some religious folks and pointing out the Bible as his handbook for being President. Not the Constitution as is legally mandated, the Bible. I knew if before but seeing the words come from his own mouth seals and sends the deal to the printers, Bush is completely unfit to lead the country. He's fine to lead the religious types that choose to follow his Heaven-on-High lead but I'm not one of them and I'd just as soon not have to suffer for his inability to maintain the legal separation of the Church and the State as required by our law.

That and it was really, really creepy to see in any case, even if he weren't the president. Anyone doing the Bible Shuffle gives me the heebie jeebies and I try to look into their eyes to see if they really believe their words of if they're just parroting earnestly.
posted by fenriq at 9:35 AM on January 16, 2005


"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," is the sickest buck-passing I've ever heard. The President just laid the blame for his actions on every man and woman who voted for him.

And rightfully so.

If I might paint the USA with the broadest of brushes, it's a damnably selfish country, with policies that emphasize that every which way: refusing to sign treaties on this or that that would have global positive impact, because it'll cause minor local (national) impact. Various STD programs, safe sex programs, emissions protocols, children's rights programs, etc, come to mind.

Likewise, a significant portion of the US population voted selfishly: voted to support their pet issue, while wholly ignoring the harm their candidate would do to many other important issues. Vote for Bush because he's going to claw back abortion rights, ignoring that he's going to slaughter another hundred thousand Iraqis in a misbegotten war, or repeal important environmental regulations, or destroy the social assistance support network, or whatever.

Instead of picking a President who will do the most good for the most people, the USA has picked the President who was the best scare-monger: elect me or your daughter will be having an abortion; elect me or those atheists are going to destroy your church; elect me or the boogieman will getcha.

Selfish selection, instead of a broader best-for-all-of-us selection.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 AM on January 16, 2005


People have defended all kinds of atrocious things . . . the 3/5ths clause

This is a small point, but the three-fifths clause had nothing to do with slaves being less than a person. (Not that it wasn't a widely held view.) It was to slightly reduce the power of slave states by not letting them count slaves as a full person for census reasons, which determined how many representatives they would have. It was anti–slave owner.

Also, for people intersted in a fairly nuanced discussion of just how responsible a people are and ought be held for the actions of their government, They Thought They Were Free is excellent.
posted by dame at 10:11 AM on January 16, 2005


five fresh fish, don't blame me, I voted for Kodo, I mean Kerry.
posted by fenriq at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2005


Maybe this is what you're referring to since it's the only other mention of where spiderwire would like to see this thread go...

Argh -- I don't see how I haven't been clear about this. I said that this was where I thought the thread was going to go and that was part of what made me so depressed about the whole thing. It wasn't a statement of purpose, intent, or desire.

It sounds like you my friend thought you saw something in this post that you're hyper sensitive about because you got suckered.

As long as we're not putting words in each other's mouths: no. Your assumption is incorrect. I agreed with your post and was angry that you jumped on me without reading my comments more carefully.

My own political transitions are only relevant to my post insofar as they've contributed to my own disenchantment, which had nothing to do with being "suckered." I never supported Nader, for example. What I did do is drift toward the center, partially with the intent of not having to be so terrified all the time about things that didn't really matter, and found once I got here that Bush had pulled the rug out from under me. The stuff that the Administration was actually doing was in fact worse than all my old paranoid leftist fantasies, and it was happening at that very moment. That terrified me, and drove me for a while, but since losing the election I find it harder and harder to keep my head up. And every political discussion I see or hear makes it worse. It's either people defending him, or news items that should be shouted from every rooftop but won't be, or leftists wringing their hands about the situation but not coming up with anything more creative than writing letters to their representatives. (I'm not trying to rain on everyone's parade, but that suggestion just doesn't do it for me anymore. You could be right, and I certainly wouldn't want to discourage you from acting in the ways that you think are appropriate, but none of these things really lights my fire anymore, or makes me think "Yes! This will help!")

At any rate, apology accepted and offered in return. I have a tendency to lose my head when people say things or respond to me in ways that I perceive as reactionary (meaning your comments, not the original post), because I really do lay a lot of blame at those people's feet -- but it's easy to forget that there are a lot of non-reactionaries out there who are reacting much like I have. (Hence, your original post.) It's encouraging to see that you're one of the latter.
posted by spiderwire at 10:19 AM on January 16, 2005


It's also obvious partisan flamebait, but I'm a partisan, so I'll leave that criticism to others.

This was originally intended as a joke, but apparently it wasn't all that funny.

It was also an expression of disenchantment.

"This is flamebait." "Take it to Meta." Etc. == Dodge the issue...

Does this make sense now?


As far as secession, that was a joke as well -- I live in Texas, and I would hope that you guys wouldn't leave me -- but I think that the sentiment is to some degree genuine, and it's a valid response to "why don't you move to Canada then?" Well, because the secularists were here first -- why don't you guys go form the Theocratic States of Retardia down in your little swamp so you can put up all the Ten Commandments plaques you want and stop sapping our tax dollars while you're at it?
posted by spiderwire at 10:28 AM on January 16, 2005


Yes. Americans: if you travel abroad this year, don't forget to carry proof that you voted for someone other than Bush. Otherwise, you will be treated with the disrespect you deserve.

You know, a lot of people live in America and about half of us didn't vote for Bush. We don't like living with those people who did any more than you do, and it's our country they're fucking over. We have to live with them every day for our whole damn lives. So you can take your disrespect and do something physically impossible with it, because your attitude is neither helping Americans who agree with you nor is it in any way ethical: I hate the way Americans treat people poorly based on their nationality; that's why I treat Americans poorly based on their nationality.
posted by dame at 10:30 AM on January 16, 2005


"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post for Sunday's editions.

This literally nauseated me.

As stravos said, those who voted for Bush are responsible. However, I have no hope of them seeing the light.

I'm an American living in Canada. I've had to defend myself against Canadians asking me why in hell did people vote for Bush (I didn't). It's not pleasant.
posted by deborah at 11:29 AM on January 16, 2005


Support Our Troops!
(The upper echelon ones, anyways)
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:39 AM on January 16, 2005


I'm an American living in Canada. I've had to defend myself against Canadians asking me why in hell did people vote for Bush (I didn't). It's not pleasant.

I'm sorry to hear that. As you probably realize, anti-American sentiment is pretty deep in this country. But my own sense is that most Canadians will treat most Americans with kindness and respect on a personal level. If you've felt held to account over the election, I think it's a measure of our anger and disbelief more than anything...
posted by 327.ca at 12:35 PM on January 16, 2005


People all over the world ask that, and they genuinely want to know why--it's not just a Canadian thing. They want to believe we're not as dumb as we seem lately, or something.
posted by amberglow at 12:51 PM on January 16, 2005


You know, a lot of people live in America and about half of us didn't vote for Bush. We don't like living with those people who did any more than you do, and it's our country they're fucking over.

Well, obviously you didn't try hard enough.

Tell you what, put on a good show of dissent as your little emperor gets crowned on Thursday, and it'll help you make that argument when you go abroad. Showing off photos of your personal participation in the inauguration protests will do wonders to break the ice.
posted by riviera at 1:24 PM on January 16, 2005


People all over the world ask that, and they genuinely want to know why

I thought we all knew...computers with secret backdoors, electoral chairmen committed to re-elect Bush, many voters who like the taste of deceit.

Still, he only won by a margin of 3%, right. Get working: 4 years from now, don't you think your errant countrymen could have been updated?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2005


As an outstander: it feels like I am watching a sucky Seagal-movie but the evil oilcompany is winning this time...

What's the fam. Bush up to? Daddy not signing Kyoto, son refusing ICC, Guantanamo, ignoring human rights, now .. Whats next? Financialy destroying political opponents and schoolbooks recalling Mr Bush's youth? o no; that's Putin-style ;) )
but I'm converting the converted here:
I am sure it won't take 4 years before you guys have an election again.. and get him out of there!
posted by borq at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2005


it's unlikely borq, unless we take back both the Senate and House in 06, impeach, and then Cheney drops dead, and even then.
posted by amberglow at 3:38 PM on January 16, 2005


It's stuff like this that makes me want to start up a resistance cell or something. Of course, I am nonviolent and a wuss so all we would do is make snarky bumperstickers or something. But still, I just want to stand up somehow and say I am sickened by torture done in my name. I am deeply ashamed of my country for standing for this stuff, by and large. Heads should be rolling up and down the chain of command, and they simply aren't.
posted by beth at 4:28 PM on January 16, 2005


Yeah, even then we get Hastert, right? Sweeeeet.
posted by spiderwire at 4:30 PM on January 16, 2005


I'm sorry, riviera, I'm afraid I'll be too busy working for the leftist book company where I am employed--you know, the one that picked up Fortunate Son (the source of the Bush-cocaine thesis and the first comprehensive collection of reasons not to vote for him) after St. Martins declined. We have lots of work and few people, both because there is plenty of information to be spread well and because publishing that book nearly bankrupted us (legal fees). Also, on Saturday I'll be appearing on a radical media panel to help others who want to resist understand how we've been successful. Unfortunately, during the RNC, I could only provide housing and phone support because I had to work as well, though I certianly showed up in the 25F-30F degree weather to protest Iraq and faced down the insults of cops and fellow New Yorkers to protest the Afghanistan invasion not even a week after the towers fell, despite being exhausted from busting ass to get out two Indymedia papers and distributing them.

Then again, none of that really matters. Comparing this administration's response to protest to the numbers of people who have told me one of our books changed their minds about any number of topics, I think books are certainly where my effectiveness lies.

So fuck you and your stupid assumptions. Millions of Americans who never gave a shit about politics before--who never voted before--worked their tails off last year: dontating, registering people to vote, and all the other grinding quotidian politicking. Given the questions about electronic voting, it isn't clear that they actually failed. But if they did, it has less to do with all those millions who spent Wednesday, 3 November, in a stupor or in tears than with the giant failure that is Democratic Party strategy.

I've spent my life opposing the right. (I think I was probably the only five-year-old in Orange County who could explain to why Reagan's tax changes screwed the middle class and why the Soviet Union's problem was authoritarianism, not communism per se.) I did it before these ass monkeys got into power and I'll be doing it when they're gone.

I've got no idea why people didn't see the obviously correct choice this time, though I think FFF has one of the better analyses I've seen lately. Unfortunately, talking people out of their own atavism is rather difficult. So I'm going to keep plugging away at my little part of changing it. I've got to. I live here.

Besides, I'm not some little January quarterback making pronouncements about other countries' problems. I've seen how ugly it is when Americans do it, and now I get to see that ugliness isn't limited only to those I disagree with.

Get working: 4 years from now, don't you think your errant countrymen could have been updated?

Uh, dash_slot, did you pay attention to the last election? That was the clearest choice between evil and milquetoast I've ever seen, and scads of Americans still chose incorrectly. The problem here is deeper and uglier than I think you imagine.
posted by dame at 4:31 PM on January 16, 2005


Besides, I'm not some little January quarterback making pronouncements about other countries' problems. I've seen how ugly it is when Americans do it, and now I get to see that ugliness isn't limited only to those I disagree with.

'koff. I sent money (illegally, but let's see if the FBI come and get me) to Democrats Abroad through American friends. I'll be making sure that your little Caesar gets harrassed every second he's on British soil. But to me, the left (or the American excuse for the mainstream 'left') is just as culpable for letting Bush get away with his indictable war crimes.

You weren't such fucking pussies when we were taxing your tea, were you? For a country founded on a polemic against tyranny, you've evolved into a polity that'd only rebel if they took away fast food restaurants, home shopping channels and iPods.
posted by riviera at 5:02 PM on January 16, 2005


Get working: 4 years from now, don't you think your errant countrymen could have been updated?

The Bush Machine has our electoral system in their near-total control and will not do anything to allow that control to slip away in the next 2, 4 or 48 years. But that's assuming they don't grow weary of the process and cancel future elections... and don't think that's not possible. Richard Clarke's recent 'Science Fiction article' rang false for me in its reference to the '08 elections. If there are nearly as many high-profile terrorist acts in the next 4 years as he predicts, the Administration should have no problem raising the Terror Alert Status beyond Red (Maroon, anyone?) and calling off Democracy in the name of "freedom". And, considering the latest leaked reports on how Iraq has become an incubator for anti-American Terrorists, I see them accomplishing the real purpose of invading Iraq (Oil? no. WMDs? no. Saddam? no.) - to create an enemy we could be at War with for the next Generation or two, after realizing that Al Queda had pretty much blown their wad on 9/11...

So, assuming (as I now am) that there is really no hope of success using what's left of our Federal Institutions to save the United States of America, what should we be doing now? Well, for the benefit of those Intelligence Spooks who read MetaFilter daily to see what the finest minds on the Left are saying, there are a wide variety of mostly legal and totally non-violent ways to opt-out, oppose and undermine the status quo.

You've evolved into a polity that'd only rebel if they took away fast food restaurants, home shopping channels and iPods.
Staying away from the fast food restaurants, home shopping channels and iPods is the easiest way to rebel. Remember, most of Corporate America only survives while it is growing, and that means expanding their markets. More effect can be made taking 5% way from the Wal*Mart customer base than 5% from the Republican voter base.
posted by wendell at 5:32 PM on January 16, 2005


Wow, you gave money to a totally ineffective party that will remain worthless until they understand that they need to make a real program and appeal to their base instead of becoming Republican-lite. Yeah, that totally gives you the right to insult Americans who do more than that everyday. And clearly your left was so successful in keeping the UK out of the Iraq war wasn't it? Your government didn't make up any intelligence or push false pretexts.

Besides, if we're judging countries based on their histories, how many centuries of opressing natives across the globe did you get in before your illustrious conscience kicked in? Longer than we've been a country I'd wager.

You know, I hate that the American polity is as flabby and useless as you do--more in fact, because I live in it and its detritus. But insulting and berating those few Americans who do see it isn't going to do anything but let you bathe in your own self-righteousness (a hobby I also enjoy).

I am well aware of the failures of the American left, and we could discuss that reasonably sometime. I would note, however, that the American left does not actually include the Democratic Party, and blaming a group of citizens for failing to get a corporate-oligarch party to do its bidding demonstrates a very poor grasp of Americans and the way government works over here.
posted by dame at 5:39 PM on January 16, 2005


Go riviera Go! Where is the US protest spirit of the 60's.
What happened to protests by students - artists, musicians, intellectuals and youf. Have they all rolled over on their backs ? The campuses are quiet.
Where's the spirit of Seattle?
We nonusaians cannot solve your mess - we can only comment from outside the walls you are building.
posted by adamvasco at 5:57 PM on January 16, 2005


riviera, adamvasco--perhaps I shouldn't dignify your quasi-trolling with a response, but I'm genuinely curious: in your opinion, what should U.S. citizens do? Take up arms and march to the White House, killing anyone who gets in our way? Tear down the Washington Monument with a tank and some rope? Assassinate all the Supreme Court justices, one at a time?

Were we to do these things, in what way would our actions be different from the insurgents in Iraq fighting against what they fervently believe to be an illegitimate authority governing their country? Do you applaud them for their actions now regardless of how many innocent lives they take? Would you applaud us if we emulated them? Do you believe that Iraq will be a stable, peaceful place if they succeed? Do you honestly believe the United States would be a stable, peaceful place if we succeeded?
posted by jesourie at 6:33 PM on January 16, 2005


jesourie - I don't think I was calling for armed resurection here. I was wanting to know what had happened to the voices of protest. To many people on the "outside" america is seen to condone the atrocities by its silence. We know what your not very democratic electoral system has produced and we accept the result for what it is; However we do not hear the voice of the american people stating their outrage except on minority media such as this website - great though that is. Protest traditionally takes to the streets before the barricades.
posted by adamvasco at 9:07 PM on January 16, 2005


we do not hear the voice of the american people stating their outrage

But we voted in droves this time out... they had only a slightly larger group.

I remember the protests too, and saw a resurrection on a global scale a mere two years ago when W first threatened this war. So many of us marched with signs and raised fists only to be completely ignored. Maybe you were even among us. But in the end, what good did it do? No, protest is not going to change this administration. This is a post 9/11 America, one that's governed through fear, and fear=control. Many of us feel like strangers in our own land these days with all the changes designed to make us feel more secure. Those here who accept all this without resistance are convinced American democracy is not yet broken, but rather working quite well in an effort to retain our way of life. It's incredibly difficult to speak to people of an evil government when they can still work, eat, drive their SUV's, etc...

I have an idea for all of you abroad; tell your governments to stop doing business with us, through protest (since you think it works) or by whatever means available to you. Hit us in the purse and you'll see Americans protesting this administration with votes. As shallow as that would make us, at least it might actually bring about positive change.

And please, stop assuming we all "condone the atrocities." Thank you.
posted by LouReedsSon at 9:54 PM on January 16, 2005


perhaps I shouldn't dignify your quasi-trolling with a response

Perhaps you should be less twitchy about throwing around the word 'troll' when your response is one big strawman. I seem to remember mass protests in Belgrade a few years ago, and Kyiv not so long ago. I seem to remember a popular uprising in the Philippines, though I hear that Americans aren't so big on organising things by SMS.

wendell understands my point: strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience. Blockade a few oil refineries or the odd Wal-Mart distribution centre. Shit on the pavement in front of the inaugural balls. I'm sure you can be creative here.

Do you honestly believe the United States would be a stable, peaceful place if we succeeded?

Belgrade's a lot pleasanter than it was a decade ago.

And to answer one point directly: I do believe that the actions of some Iraqi insurgents are more justifiable than others. If you're kidnapping and executing civilians, you've sacrificed any marginal moral credibility. If, on the other hand, you're blowing up Humvees or shooting at patrols, then you're the resistance. not that much different from the Maquis. There have been sufficient degradations inflicted upon the Iraqi people that I can understand the impulse to shoot and bomb the foreigners out of the country.

And finally, I'd add some nuance to what adamvasco said. I don't think most Americans condone torture or unjustified war. (Then again, my perception of what Americans think or believe were somewhat belied in November.) I don't think you're doing a particularly good job of not condoning such things, though.
posted by riviera at 11:06 PM on January 16, 2005


Besides, I'm not some little January quarterback making pronouncements about other countries' problems. I've seen how ugly it is when Americans do it, and now I get to see that ugliness isn't limited only to those I disagree with.

Dame, Is the big difference here the location of the game that's played? it's the international aspect.. When it's an international subject it's allowed to make these pronouncements I guess.
I'm aware but not proud of my heretage, p.e. the word 'apartheid' is Dutch.. we've been bastards, for sure.. new round, new chances - let's #heal the world make it a better place#

I just learned Dutch forces are def. leaving Iraq after the elections in March
and now we know what's next: iran

I'd love to see protest marches & civil disobedience.. this is going to be a contineous and global struggle.. can we help?
posted by borq at 6:24 AM on January 17, 2005


Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give the best response I could.

Borq, I do think the location matters, yes. Deplore the international effects please; I certainly do. Take an idea from LouReedsSon and get your government to boycott the U.S. But to attack people who agree with you for not doing exactly as you or the Ukranians would, is to, I think, presume too much. I hate it when Americans go on about what the Afghans ought to do or the Iranian dissenters: I assume that nationals of whatever country have a better idea of how to change their societies than I would. (And I have faith in their moral judgements and do not assume they need to prove their lack of condoning to me.)

Riviera demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the American landscape in two ways (the second is shared by others as well): asking why Americans do not resist like the Maquis or Iraqis, and predicating demonstration of resistance on demonstrations. As to the first, both the French and the Iraqis are resisting a foreign invasion. If America were invaded, I do have faith that Americans would resist on a similar level. But that is not the case here and to attempt to compare is very apples and oranges.

As for the second case, frankly we are not at a point where protest or civil disobedience would be effective. For these to have an effect that even a God-addled president would have to consider, the action would need to be widespread. But even for people who deplore the current administration, the impetus to make it go huge is not there. If you look at the two recent cases of widespread CD--the civil rights and anti-Vietnam movements--you see that the motivations to participate were much stronger: In civil rights, people were fighting for their own freedom (and it took about 100 years and the experience of two world wars to get that population that ready to fight). Those opposing Vietnam had a great motivation in the draft. (If the draft comes back, I guarantee you'll see some youth movement right quick.)

However, looking at the current situation, as LRS puts it, "It's incredibly difficult to speak to people of an evil government when they can still work, eat, drive their SUV's, etc..." The fight right now is still getting people to see (and keeping people who do see from getting disheartened). That's (partly) why I do what I do; with my disfunctional social skills my best contribution is in helping to package and disseminate ideas. It's a lot quieter than standing in the streets, but I do think it is also more effective.

The American public, in general, also has a very dim view of protest and CD. The excesses on the line of the Weather Underground and the "anarchy" of Seattle alientated a lot of people who might be intellectually inclined to agree. (I'm not arguing who was right or whether it was worth it, mind you, just pointing out how things lie.) Until you can get together a wide range of people, it just isn't going to work. And demanding that people skip necessary steps to prove something to you (the general you) does nothing to speed the changes you require.

Americans prize law-and-order above much else. That means to make truly lasting changes, you have to change people's minds, not stand in the streets. And I'm not talking about the lost--those so far gone that they don't get it--I'm talking about those who almost get it. America has big problems and it isn't a question of just getting rid of this one guy. The right spent thirty years turning America's face to them. The left has yet to really get it together.

External pressure will help, but a lot of this is something Americans have to fix for themselves. Like many other nations.
posted by dame at 8:49 AM on January 17, 2005


I don't suppose the USA was well-informed by its media regarding the recent Ukranian election, which was stolen through vote-rigging, ballot-tampering, and all that groovy stuff the USA just went through.

A good number of Ukranian citizens took to the streets in protest, amassing in the capital city and demanding that the election be run again, this time with strict monitoring of the process.

For a while it looked like the President-"elect" was going to take the issue to civil war, and it looked like the protesting citizens were fully prepared to take it on. Fortunately, the cheater backed down, the elections were held again, and democracy was restored.

The USA could learn a very, very powerful and valuable lesson from that.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:31 AM on January 17, 2005


less twitchy about throwing around the word 'troll'

I guess when someone calls me a fucking pussy, I a) get a little twitchy and b) assume they're not trying to have a civil discussion. Imagine that.
posted by jesourie at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2005


Just a reminder, the Geneva Conventions have a death penalty for certain types of torture...
posted by hortense at 5:07 PM on January 17, 2005


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