Saturday, August 25, 2007

We Have Become the Enemy

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

US demotes, imprisons, tortures own citizens for whistleblowing. The article was named with some reasonably innocuous title. This one's more representative of the content, don't you think?

Dr. Returns American Psychology Assoc. Award

because the APA sanctions torture:

I do not want an award from an organization that sanctions its members' participation in the enhanced interrogations at CIA Black Sites and at Guantanamo. The presence of psychologists has both educated the interrogation teams in more skillful methods of breaking people down and legitimized the process of torture in defiance of the Geneva Conventions.

The behavior of psychologists on these enhanced interrogation teams violates our own Code of Ethics (2002) in which we pledge to respect the dignity and worth of all people, with special responsibility towards the most vulnerable. I consider prisoners in secret CIA-run facilities with no right of habeas corpus or access to attorneys, family or media to be highly vulnerable. I also believe that when any of us are degraded, all of human life is degraded. This letter is as much about us as it is about prisoners.

In our Ethics Code we agree to promote honesty and accuracy. Our involvement in these projects has been secretive and dishonest. Finally, as psychologists we vow to do no harm. Without question, we violate this oath when we allow people in our care to be deprived of sleep or subjected to sensory over-stimulation or deprivation.


APA to work within the system for change
Substitute Motion Three
What Does a Psychologist Do at an Interrogation?

Not Interested in Governing, Redux

The current administration labors under the presumption that market forces can fix everything. Like, say, lead in toys from China.

Bush is "Soft on Lead"

“The overall philosophy is regulations are bad and they are too large a cost for industry, and the market will take care of it,” said Rick Melberth, director of regulatory policy at OMBWatch, a government watchdog group formed in 1983. “That’s been the philosophy of the Bush administration.”

Except that the market doesn't fix everything.

Alexa Engelman, a researcher at the Center for Environmental Health, said, “They knew this all along and they didn’t take action on it. It’s upsetting to me. Why are we, as a country, protecting the companies? We should be protecting the kids.”

Well, we should be, but the administration has a philosophical problem with government regulations. If that means more kids are exposed to more lead, well, it’s the market’s problem.

So, here's the country we live in: one where the people in charge of governing don't care to do so, don't think it's important, since, the market should be able to do it, and is never, ever, willing to change its mind on anything.

The presidency of George W Bush is waning and laming. The time has come to think about the future and when it comes to policies for US science and to the use of science in US policy, let's put it bluntly, pretty much anything will be an improvement.

Over the past seven years, Mr Bush has shown a disturbing unwillingness to change his mind or admit to errors of fact or judgment. So we are probably safe in assuming he will not significantly alter course on the leading science policy topics of the day - embryonic stem cell research and global warming.

In each case, Mr Bush made a policy decision back in 2001 based upon false, incomplete, or misleading information and has since fought a rearguard action to prevent either acknowledging these deceptions or their obvious implication - that the 2001 policies should be reversed.

We're going to be paying for these mistakes for a long, long time.

The Crusading Army

To add to my preceding post: and they don't care about the separation of church and state, either.

DOD-Connected Christian Group Draws Fire;

The Pentagon Sends Messengers of Apocalypse to Convert Soldiers in Iraq;

Not So Fast, Christian Soldiers

Maybe what the war in Iraq needs is not more troops but more religion. At least that's the message the Department of Defense seems to be sending.

Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering "freedom packages" to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the "Military Crusade."

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word "crusade" and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.

You know, put all this together and it spells one thing: the current Administration isn't actually American.

Don't Care About Governing? Join the GOP!

How did we let Katrina happen? Today, you don't even have to be onsite in floodwater, to be drowning. Stuck and Suicidal in a Post-Katrina Trailer Park

He was young, tall, and solidly good-looking. I asked if I could speak to him for a moment and he agreed. We found a spot of shade beneath a tree, and I started with what I considered a casual warm-up.

"What's it like to live around here?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "I'll be honest."

"Ain't a day goes by when I don't think about killing myself."

How did we let this happen? Well, the current administration doesn't care about actually running the country. It ran FEMA into the ground, and uses federal agencies for political marketing rather than actually governing.

How Rove Directed Federal Assets for GOP Gains;

Waxman Confirms Existence Of Rove’s Politicization ‘Teams’.

Politics. Rather than policies.

There's that famous quote of Norquist's about drowning government in a bathtub. Well, one city has been drowned, and now people are drowning on dry land. How much more of this do you want?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Foreign Affairs Magazine: Campaign 2008

FA Magazine is publishing articles by presidential candidates "previewing the foreign policy agendas they would pursue if elected." What a great idea. Is there a Domestic Affairs Magazine, for their articles on domestic topics?

In Which a Feminist Woman is Like Unto a Chihuahua

The Context ("I was recently informed by a friend, via a note passed to me at a party after I had reacted negatively (or, as he explained, like a chihuahua) to some sexist comment he made, that feminists are “bored and abused” chauvinists who have nothing better to do than to attack men...")

[A note!? He passed her a note?!! God, that's weird. -- Sid]

To which Twisty Faster, in The Fucking Pedantic Asshole Chronicles, contributes:

You know how you’re sauntering along through your life minding your own beeswax, and some sexist shit goes down, and you, a feminist, naturally respond as one who is sick and tired of sexist shit, perhaps saying aloud in mixed company “that’s some pretty sexist shit, yo,” and your unwillingness to just laugh it off with the rest of the ladies raises the hackles of some asshole pedantic dude who then, out of his profound concern for your well-being, tries to rescue you from pariah-dom, lavishing you with the benefit of his superior grasp of the human condition by setting you straight on the distaste with which every other rational person on Earth regards ‘feminism’? Perhaps even adding that if you really want to get anywhere with your arguments, you’ll get better at appeasing your oppressor with a more solicitous, more conciliatory, more sexyfun tone?

At which point in the "discussion", every woman who has been around the feminist block a few times rolls her eyes, thinking:

a. it's not about "appeasing my oppressor", you dip;
b. gee, thanks for enlightening me, o beneficiary of this excruciatingly dehumanizing system;
c. when oh when will this yahoo shut up?

The fundamental premise of feminism is an easy one: women are human beings. (Just like you! How terrifying!)

It's an inconvenient truth, I know, and one from which so much cognitive dissonance flows. How do you, a male in a patriarchy, maintain your position in that patriarchy, that position that works so darn well for you and your (male) buds, if women are actually human beings?

By objectifying, of course. By denying that women are human beings in the same way that soldiers in Vietnam turned human beings who lived there into "Charlie" or "gooks". Because that objectification is what made it possible to kill them.

Twisty is right: the patriarchal position is irrelevant to feminist theory, and the substance of feminism, the value of the liberation of women, is not itself a legitimate subject for debate among rational beings.

When we talk about patriarchy we're talking about a system that requires you to deny someone's humanity. That's sociopathy. It doesn't get more perverse than that.