Lebanon Bombing + Context

Karova (Mask of Anarchy) has a really important catch (emphasis mine):

It always surprises me how little context the mainstream media give to various events in the Middle East.  The BBC reported Ghanim’s death thus:

Banks, schools and government offices are closed in Lebanon, as the country mourns an anti-Syrian MP who was killed in a car bombing in the capital Beirut.

The reporting paints a very positive view on Ghanim within the context of Lebanon’s bid to free itself from the clutches of Syria (a member of the infamous ‘axis’, don’t forget). However, as with Pierre Gemayel’s murder last year, little is reported of the party to which they belonged. The Kataeb Party was established in 1936 by Pierre Gemayel (the grandfather of his namesake). The party was founded after Gemayel had been impressed by the organisation and efficiency of the Nazi party after visiting the 1936 Olympics. On returning to Lebanon, Gemayel formed his party and named it after Franco’s Falange party in Spain and organised it along similar lines. In short, the Kataeb Party is a fascist party.

Now, although any murder must be condemned as a criminal act, it makes you wonder: why do the mainstream media not give more background information about the Kataeb Party? Is it simply because they support the West’s policy towards Syria? Is fascism seen as a necessary evil in the fight against another threat? Unless the media starts reporting within its proper context, these questions will remain unanswered.

Its well known that the US will happily pair up with fascists, dictators, murders, rapists, torturers, hell, even terrorists, to go after the big enemy of the moment.  But we really need to take a long hard look at the consequences.  They aren’t always overtly obvious, as in our support for Osama and Hussein back in the day.  Sometimes they take sitting down and thinking about it for more than 5 minutes.  Hezbollah is popular in Lebanon.  Does anyone really think the only reason, hell, even the major reason, is that they oppose Israel and the US?  If we are going to effectively fight the root causes of terrorism, we need proper reporting.  Understanding the politics of a region beyond international affairs is key to understanding the complex motivators at play when that country interacts with the world.

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Substituting Sexism and Bullshit for Criticism

You know the saying:  When you don’t have anything insightful to say, be a sexist prick:

Because the only criticism he can come up with when faced with female protesters is to objectify the women.  Its worth stopping by and taking a look at William Teach’s post.  The logic employed is dizzying:

Yet we can still protest. Wazzup wit dat?

Its like saying “gosh, this winter sure was cold, and hey, there’s snow!  Global warming must be a farce”.  But its even worse.  Courageous reporting?  The media swallowed lie after lie in the leadup to Iraq, and there we are.  Truly critical journalism is a rarity, with administration assertions often reported as fact.  But surely William recognizes that habeus corpus no longer applies to enemy combatants, even citizens.  Surely he realizes the President can declare anyone he wants an enemy combatant.  What’s to stop the President from arresting, torturing, and indefinitely detaining protesters?

As Keith Olberman has noted without habeas corpus the bill of rights means jack shit.  In fact, Bush has given himself an enormous amount of power:

Jonathan Turley joined Keith to talk about the law that Senator Feingold said would be seen as “a stain on our nation’s history.”

Turley: “People have no idea how significant this is. Really a time of shame this is for the American system.—The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars. It’s otherworldly..People clearly don’t realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I’m not too sure we’re gonna change back anytime soon.”

We had a chance recently, and congress shot it down.  We’ve lost a lot more than the lynchpin holding the bill of rights together.  To pretend that the mere existence of a protest is somehow proof we retain our rights is transparent bullshit.  Just because Bush doesn’t use these despotic powers right away on protesters does not in any way erase the impact of that loss for all of us.

And all conservatives like William can do is crack sexist jokes and play make believe with our fundamental rights.

Splogs

Is it just me, or are they increasing?  I won’t link to the splog in question, but I’ve noticed quite a few popping up in my akismet net, and one has even made an appearance on my technorati page.  (Funny note, conservative blog The Pirate’s Cove is the only blog that actually links to the splog “Health Tips Blog”.)

DHS to Share Spy Satellite Data

This is very worrying (via Lindsay, Majikthise):

My latest article is up at In These Times. It’s about the move to disseminate highly classified military spy satellite data to a wider range of civilian clients.

The National Applications Office, which is schedule to go live on October 1, is an office within the Department of Homeland Security.

The NAO will serve as a clearinghouse for spy satellite data for civil applications (science and the environment), homeland security, and law enforcement (national, state, and local).

The NAO is a massive expansion of the dissemination of intelligence to an entirely new group of clients. The program raises serious constitutional and civil liberties issues. Also, the DHS has said little about whether making this data available to thousands of people across the country might compromise sources and methods.

The Department of Homeland Security isn’t exactly acting in a way that encourages trust and confidence:

When DHS officials were called to testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security in early September, they admitted that many of their standard operating procedures hadn’t even been written down yet!  The top DHS lawyer declined to testify at all.

This should be scandal level stuff.  The US government is spying on us, and their are going to share that data with civilians.  Further?  They haven’t even standardized their operating procedures.  How can a procedure be “standard” if its passed along by word of mouth?  Haven’t these people ever played telephone?

(And the top DHS lawyer refusing to testify is just standard administration procedure at this point.  Congress really needs to be more aggressive about their inquiries.)

Republicans to DC: You Aren’t Allowed to Vote

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The Republicans blocked a vote to allow representation of DC in Congress:

Republican lawmakers yesterday blocked the Senate from taking up the D.C. vote bill, a potentially fatal setback for the District’s most promising effort in years to get a full member of Congress.

They had no fucking reason other than the fear that the extra member would be a Democrat:

Some Republicans feared that the measure could eventually lead to the addition of two full D.C. senators, who probably would be Democrats.

The “legal concerns” raised were utter bullshit.  This is about power, pure and simple:

The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the White House have strongly criticized the legislation. They maintain that, because the District is not a state, the bill violates the constitutional mandate that House members be chosen by the “People of the several States.”

Nitpicking fascist fuckers.  Hell, even Joe Lieberman is for this:

“It’s time to end the injustice, the national embarrassment that citizens of this great capital city don’t have voting representation in Congress,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a brief floor session before the vote. Opponents did not make speeches.

The right thing to do is grant DC representation.  This isn’t a partisan issue.  Its common sense.

Proponents have portrayed the bill as a civil rights measure, saying that depriving a majority African American city of a vote echoes discriminatory practices outlawed decades ago. They also have said it is hypocritical for the United States to fight for voting rights in Iraq while denying them in its own capital.

And its long past due.

Canadian Kids Stand Up To Bullies

This is just inspiring. From Freckles Cassie at YOUTHinkLeft:

It’s very hard to stand up to a bully on your own. Bullies can be very intimidating, which is why bullying works until someone stops the bully. This is a wonderful account of how some high school kids in Canada reacted to a bully in their school, and how they worked as a group to show that the bully’s opinion was meaningless.

‘I’ve stood around too long’
Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau | 3:51 PM

CAMBRIDGE — Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

One student is bullied for wearing pink. So two other students got others to wear pink, and even brought in pink tank-tops to share.

The two friends said they didn’t take the action looking for publicity, but rather to show leadership in combating what they say is frequent bullying in schools.

Using social pressure the way they did was a very smart move:

Travis said the bullies “keep giving us dirty looks, but we know we have the support of the whole student body.

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, “he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off is shoulder,” David said.

We can learn a lot from this. They lifted up the bullied student, put the burden on the bullies, and united much of the school behind them. Showing leadership indeed.

Its also a great example of physical rhetoric. It showed the bullies that their criticism was ineffective:

“The bullies got angry,” said Travis. “One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted.”

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

That symbol was now in their face, with opposition out in numbers, and the message of unity was clear.

Logic Upside Maryland’s Head

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Yesterday I wrote about Maryland’s discriminatory ruling against Gay Marriage.

Reader Karen had some a very detailed logical smackdown to share:

when i, as an individual, am denied the right to marry any particular other individual *because i am female*, i am burdened *based on my sex*. it’s that simple. the majority says,

“[It] does not separate men and women into discrete classes for the purpose of granting to one class of persons benefits at the expense of the other class. Nor does the statue, facially or in its application, place men and women on an uneven playing field. Rather, the statue prohibits equally both men and women from the same conduct.”

but this is the truth: this reasoning only works if you ignore individuals. in marrying R the individual, men and women are indeed separated into discrete classes for the purposes of granting to one class (men) benefits (approval of a marriage license) at the expense of the other class (women). it does not prohibit “the same conduct” to men and women equally. it prohibits men from marrying a male individual, and women from marrying a female individual. those actions can never be “the same conduct” because the individual in question can never be *the same individual* for both a man AND a woman.

As I noted before, this is like saying banning interracial marriage is ok because both blacks and whites are equally prohibited from the same conduct. That reasoning just does not stand. What it does do is allow discrimination and hate to stand in for sound legal reasoning. Its the same kind of process you see when a creationist struggles to make their pre-stamped conclusion seem “sciency”. Let’s not pretend there was anything principled or just about the decision: These judges were, at best, homophobic and used the flimsiest of arguments to cover for what their opinion really said:

Equal rights don’t apply to Gays.

This is a failure of our justice system. Hate triumphed over reason. And for all the talk of “activist judges”, judges are supposed to uphold and protect rights. When judges strip them away they abandon their oath to administer justice and instead abuse the power of their seat.