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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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27 April 2009

Into The Breach One More Time

by: Debra

I am so tired of hearing that Bush kept us safe for seven years and four months after 9/11.  If you look at the statement logically, the US was safe for 225 years and one month from terrorism (unless you count the actions of those dudes McVeigh, Nichols, and Rudolph) before Bush ignored warnings of an imminent attack on the United States by a known terrorist and 2,572 people lost their lives while he held a book upside down and the "Vice President" hid in an undisclosed bunker for several hours.  And since when do two wrongs make a right?
Keeney in 1962 covertly set up a CIA front called MK-ULTRA, which used the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies to conduct tests on unwitting federal inmates, the overwhelming majority of whom were black, to chart the effect of hallucinogenic drugs.

All of this is reprehensible, horrible stuff. But it was generated by well-meaning American officers from what has been called “The Greatest Generation” to keep America safe.
I doubt that it was to keep America safe but if it makes you feel better to believe that, then you are no better than Josef Mengele  and have no business having contact with normal people. And equating the release of the torture memos to the possibility of another attack on the US shows that one has trivialized and ignored the reasons why the terrorists hate us.

They don't hate us because of our freedoms, they hate us because we interfere in their beliefs, have no respect for their religion and willfully ignore their requests to remove ourselves from areas they consider to be consecrate. Oh, and that torture thing?  Not helping our reputation but reinforcing the terrorists will to punish the oppressors.

Torture is wrong, it will always be wrong and saying that the end justifies the means is short-sighted and foolish.  That's like saying that lying about a blowjob is worse than ordering people to be treated like animals and have their basic human rights removed.  And Americans aren't really like that, are we?  Because last time I heard, torturing animals was one of the early signs of antisocial personality disorder and maybe the people who wrote the memos, followed the memos or defend the memos should be evaluated and treated before they harm their own families.

And I haven't even had my tea yet.


20 April 2009

Do Unto Others

by: Debra

Yesterday the FX channel showed A Few Good Men and while everyone remembers "you can't handle the truth" very few people remember the the pressure exerted on Marines to follow orders no matter what or the ending and the judgment rendered against the two Marines.  It seems that back in 1992 following an illegal order was enough to have you kicked out of the military with a dishonorable discharge for conduct unbecoming a Marine.  Just like it was when I joined the Army in 1974.  It's almost funny that the crime took place at Gitmo.

On the charge of Murder, the Members find the defendants Not Guilty.

It's hard to resist the temptation to scream and shout, but they do.

(continuing; reading)
On the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, the Members find the defendants Not Guilty.

RANDOLPH looks up. Then reads from the last slip of paper.

On the charge of Conduct Unbecoming a United States Marine, the members find the defendants Guilty as Charged.

A little of the energy drains out of the room.

The defendants are hereby sentenced by this court to time already served, and are ordered...

RANDOLPH clears his throat.

... And are ordered to be dishonorably discharged from the marine corps.
(pause) This Court-Martial is adjourned.

RANDOLPH raps his gavel.

Ten hut.

All rise.

RANDOLPH's gone.


The M.P.'s move to DAWSON and DOWNEY to unlock their handcuffs. KAFFEE is packing up his things, just another day at the office.


Harold, I'm sorry.


I don't understand. Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red.

I know, but--
Colonel Jessep said he ordered the Code Red, what did we do wrong?

It's not as simple as--

What did we do wrong?

We did nothing wrong.

If it wasn't a viable excuse in 1992, it's even less of an excuse when you have a college degree (required to join the CIA) or a medical degree and are supervising torture. Waterboarding two men 266 times and receiving the same answers shows that torture doesn't work.  Common sense dictates that if they haven't given any more information after the first or second time, they aren't going to cough up anything useful on the hundredth time.  By then they know they aren't going to die from simulated drowning and that their captors are depraved idiots following illegal orders.

Why is it considered torture when our troops are subjected to water-boarding but not when we do it to other people?

Interestingly, we weren't nearly as blithe about waterboarding when it happened to our own guys during World War II. Then, we considered it a war crime and a form of torture.

In "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts," Judge Evan Wallach of the U.S. Court of International Trade has documented the trials in which the United States used evidence of water-boarding as a basis for prosecutions. The article, still in draft form, will be published soon by the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.

Among the numerous examples, Wallach cites one involving four Japanese defendants who were tried before a U.S. military commission at Yokohama, Japan, in 1947 for their treatment of American and Allied prisoners. Wallach writes, in the case of United States of America vs. Hideji Nakamura, Yukio Asano, Seitara Hata and Takeo Kita, "water torture was among the acts alleged in the specifications ... and it loomed large in the evidence presented against them."

Hata, the camp doctor, was charged with war crimes stemming from the brutal mistreatment and torture of Morris Killough "by beating and kicking him (and) by fastening him on a stretcher and pouring water up his nostrils." Other American prisoners, including Thomas Armitage, received similar treatment, according to the allegations.

Armitage described his ordeal: "They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about 2 gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness."

Hata was sentenced to 25 years at hard labor, and the other defendants were convicted and given long stints at hard labor as well.

Wallach also found a 1983 case out of San Jacinto County, Texas, in which James Parker, the county sheriff, and three deputies were criminally charged for handcuffing suspects to chairs, draping towels over their faces and pouring water over the towel until a confession was elicited. One victim described the experience this way: "I thought I was going to be strangled to death. ... I couldn't breath."

The sheriff pleaded guilty and his deputies went to trial where they were convicted of civil rights violations. All received long prison sentences. U.S. District Judge James DeAnda told the former sheriff at sentencing, "The operation down there would embarrass the dictator of a country."

Hmm, so we have prosecuted our own law enforcement agencies for performing water torture but the CIA. the doctors and everyone else involved in these heinous acts against people in their custody are not to be punished?  Right now President Obama is no better than President Nixon was when he had Lt. Calley removed from the stockade after a single weekend after being sentenced to hard labor for the rest of his life for killing innocent women and children at My Lai 4.

I love this country but I am not immune to its faults and lately they have been obvious to everyone but us.  Whenever we feel threatened we feel we can use any means necessary to accomplish our goals but we want others to be punished (Mr. President, I'm sure you saw those documents as you studied for that law degree, they were in your college library) for using those same means.  I guess this means that our motto is no longer "Land of the free, home of the brave" it's more along the line of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but do it first."

As John Adams said many years ago, we are a nation of laws.  Mr. Obama it is your job to enforce them.  Otherwise you, and by definition America, are nothing more than an empty suit.


· ·
16 January 2009

1055 Dead, The Majority Were Not Soldiers

by: Debra

I am not an anti-Semite.  Some of my best friends are Jewish, (I've always wanted to use some line just like that), but what I am is anti war.  I don't care  how you dress it up, when you invade another country and the kill rate is 40% women and children as collateral damage, that's not antisemitism and it certainly isn't pikuach nefesh, that's an attempt at genocide.  White phosphorus bombs?  After the napalm photo from Vietnam there is no excuse for using such weapons.  Against any one, including the UN.  But the part in the Bible about turning the other cheek must be in the New Testament and only apply to people who really believe in Jesus' teachings.  Wars don't demonstrate who's right or wrong, but who's left standing.  In other words, history is written by the winners.

Palestine had democratic elections as the world demanded and they mistakenly elected a party the powers that rule the world didn't approve of, therefore that party isn't legitimate and it's okay to indiscriminately kill people until they change their evil ways.  Too bad the world didn't use that same logic against, Bush, Mugabe or Chavez. Chavez at the moment is relatively insulated against being invaded by the US in its pursuit for oil so the rich don't have to change their lifestyle.  And to Elizabeth Wurtzel, all I have to say is waah, waah, waah.  You can't dress up killing civilians on a regular basis and not be compared to a regime that did the same.  Behave like an advanced human instead of an angry monkey and maybe "normal" people might think you have a valid point.
But to communicate with anyone I think of as right-minded (and left-leaning) in any other part of the world is to experience the purest antisemitism since the Nazi era. In fact, in Europe right now, it is de rigueur to liken the current regime in Israel with the Nazi party, and to view the experience of the Palestinians as a form of ethnic cleansing. Hamas and Hezbollah are thought by the French and British to be social welfare organizations, and Israel is viewed as a terrorist state. Here, we honor the linguistic discoveries of Noam Chomsky and otherwise experience him as a quaintly brilliant crank, but in the bookstores in London there are entire sections devoted to his political thought – and he is read as if the distinctions between Leninist and Trotskyite philosophy had genuine consequence in today's world.
And if you don't want to go to Europe because of the negative feelings towards Americans since the Iraq war, imagine how angry Europeans are right now with this even larger injustice building in their back yard.  Perhaps, just maybe, God should have chosen the Jewish homeland and not some politicians from Great Britain and the United States who didn't think about the results of displacing the Palestinians who had lived there for thousands of years since God kicked the Jewish people out the last time for disrespecting his rules. Or whatever reason God determined they should wander homeless.

Any way you look at it, killing children only breeds more generational hatred and hasn't there been enough of that in the world?  And please tell me that the goal was not to have Osama been Forgotten to declare a holy war over Gaza2012 will be here soon enough.


· · ·
25 February 2008

Cop Caught on Video: Rough Justice for Young Skateboarder

by: Dark Wraith

From the blog called Fitness for the Occasion comes yet another YouTube video of a law enforcement officer out of control. This one, from Baltimore, is pretty good: assault, battery, criminal menacing, conveying a felonious threat, and several other criminal charges were possibly committed on a 14-year-old boy by the policeman, Salvatore Rivieri, who has been on the police force for 17 years. Apparently, the mother of the juvenile, Eric Bush, in the video tried to file a complaint, but the police department refused to allow her to do so. The very end of the video is mildly humorous, since the raging Rivieri’s biggest concern about how he was behaving turned out to be exactly what happened.

The incident occurred last Summer, but it is only now that the YouTube video is spreading across the Internet that Rivieri has been suspended with pay while an internal investigation is conducted. Rivieri's attorney, declaring that viewers of the video "...don't see what happened before the officer took the boy down to the ground," summarized the plight of law enforcement personnel by declaring: "Police officers have a hard job..."

Indeed, they do; and 14-year-old skateboarders are a significant part of why life on the beat is as hard as it is.

The Dark Wraith, for his own part, is grateful that Baltimore police—indeed, that police everywhere—are ready, willing, and able to face down the scourge of scrawny skateboarders.

· · · ·
10 February 2008

The Black Curtain

by: Dark Wraith

Comes now a story of our country and our times. Originating in video from investigative reporting at WKYC in Stark County, Ohio, the incident has now been retold at Raw Story and other sites.

This is the YouTube version of the broadcast from WKYC. (A previous version of the video on YouTube is no longer available, and this one may suffer the same fate once Google's censors find out it's up.) Watch the entire thing. Full volume. Try not to flinch. Try not to vomit.

When you're finished watching the video of the strip search, go ask your favorite candidate of "hope" and "change" and all those other lies just exactly what he or she is going to do to end this rising nightmare of an authoritarian state.

No, seriously. Don't find some reason why your choice for Heir to Empire is not responsible. He or she is. They all want to lead this country? Then let them explain precisely how they plan to lead it away from this mess.

Ask those Democrats and Republicans running for office when enough will be enough. Ask them when they plan to stop spewing their sweet little nothings. Ask them if they will vow to their very God or perhaps even to that piece of paper we call the Constitution of the United States of America to take upon themselves the enormous task of throwing every monster of this spreading blackness of sovereign violence—from George W. Bush and Richard V. Cheney all the way down to the very last, badge-wearing jackboot on the beat—into prison to rot.

Afraid to offend your fave candidate of "hope" and "change"? Afraid to burst the bubble of your own fantasy of "hope" and "change"? Watch the video again. Listen to the screams.

Those could very well be yours someday.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

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