CCR Update

The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed their war crimes complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office (details here). Their press release states, in part:

We are asking the German prosecutor to launch an investigation: since the U.S. government is unwilling to open an independent investigation into the responsibility of these officials for war crimes, and since the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court, CCR and the Iraqi victims have brought this complaint in Germany as a court of last resort. Several of the defendants are stationed in Germany…

German law allows German courts to prosecute for killing, torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, forcible transfers and sexual coercion such as occurred at Abu Ghraib. The world has seen the photographs and read the leaked “torture memos†– we are doing what is necessary when other systems of justice have failed and seeking to hold officials up the chain of command responsible for the shameful abuses that occurred.

The CCR link now has a form letter on their site that can be sent to the prosecutor, urging action. Please take a moment and add your name to the list. I’ll update as things develop…

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

We Don’t Get Fooled Again

Oh, What a Tangled Web They Hate

From Wired News a treasure trove of ways to find information the US government attempts to hide. Ah, mighty heady days, Dear Hearts, those days when the Powers that Be let the nascent Information Highway grow from a government-university experiment to our Internet, the people’s information network that will not be stopped. ARPANET? Ring a bell. As much as they want to recapture control, I’ve known for a long time that they goofed when they let the baby djinn out of the bottle. Information like magical wish-givers wants to be free. The link: Web Won’t Let Government Hide.

“Given the government keeps tabs on the world using armies of agents, algorithms and wiretaps, how can a citizen compete? Try a browser.”

Many resources here, including something I didn’t know, and my family calls me the “Search Engine Queen”… Google’s government-specific search engine: Google Uncle Sam.

Sharpen your boolean search skills, Lovelies. The researchers’ motto is: Somebody, somewhere knows the answer.

We are the locust… (my tiny homage to a Harlan Ellison short story which I won’t quote now, because I’ve done it before … read his short story collection “Stalking the Nightmare”, and the introductory story, “Quiet Lies the Locust Tells”)

“The change, it had to come

We knew it all along

We were liberated from the foe, that’s all

And the world looks just the same

And history ain’t changed

‘Cause the banners, they’d all flown in the last war.”

We Don’t Get Fooled Again – The Who

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

Cab Fares, Redux

Remember the story from Nov. 19 about the $5000 taxi fare from Baghdad airport to the Green Zone? I’m thinking the price has gone up in the past few days. This is the second major attack on the 15 mile stretch of road in as many days.

AP – Suicide Bomber Rams U.S. Convoy in Iraq

Also, it looks like the U.S. breaks a unenviable record today. We’re still closer to the beginning of this thing than the end.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

From Small Seeds…

One attribute that distinguishes ASZ from other progressive blogs is that we like to challenge our beloved readers to engage in simple little actions that can make a big overall difference. Sometimes it’s no more than clicking through on a link. Other times, it might be something as easy as dropping a Christmas card to a wounded GI. Look at it this way – action (however seemingly insignificant) keeps you occupied, off the street, and engaged in a meaningful way. Ergo, progressive as a verb.

Here’s the latest installment in ASZ’s progressive viral marketing. On Tuesday, 11/30/2004, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (the group that continues to bring some measure of justice to Gitmo detainees) will be filing a criminal complaint in German court to hold a select group of perpetrators accountable for war crimes.

I can hear you guffawing now — but this is an amazing opportunity, and I think the CCR pre-press release explains it quite nicely:

In a historic effort to hold high-ranking U.S. officials accountable for brutal acts of torture including the widely publicized abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib, on Tuesday November 30, 2004, CCR and four Iraqi citizens will file a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office at the Karlsruhe Court, Karlsruhe, Germany. Under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located.

The four Iraqis were victims of gruesome crimes including severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation, hooding and sexual abuse. (Further details of the treatment of the complainants will be provided after the filing.)

The U. S. officials charged include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Former CIA Director George Tenet, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Steven Cambone, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Major General Walter Wojdakowski, Major General Geoffrey Miller, Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry L. Phillabaum, Colonel Thomas Pappas, and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen L. Jordan.

Please check back on our home page in the next day for an opportunity to write the German prosecutor in support of the investigation: it is critical that he hear from as many people as possible so he feels worldwide pressure to pursue the case.

CCR needs a bit of Left Blogistan “rapid response”. Why? Because there will be little notice in the mainstream media, yet with the force of numbers behind this criminal complaint, CCR’s action can become a major story. So, if you’re a blogger, grab this story and run with it. Or, if you hang out on other blogs, broadcast the story around via comments.

The bottom line is that there’s little love lost between the U.S. and German governments right now, and that’s why this complaint stands a chance of moving forward. German law regarding this type of complaint was enacted post-WWII to facilitate prosecution of war criminals, even in their absence from German soil. And clearly, some political motivation exists for the German prosecutor to cooperate with the complaint.

I don’t know what the net effect of such a complaint and prosecution would be. I can’t say if any of the principals would even be obliged to respond. But I do know that this issue could be thrust into the media mainstream by sheer force of numbers. If a million progressives in the U.S. contact the German prosecutor, it would certainly be hard for the mainstream media to ignore.

Earlier today, one of our coveted commentors lamented how quickly that story lines such as Abu Ghraib disappear in the U.S. Our media is like one big hyperactive pinball machine, bouncing from one atrocity to another. The upshot is that everything blends into one big omnibus atrocity, such that most people just throw up their hands and don’t even try to understand the nuance.

Here’s an opportunity to force a story back onto the front page – a story that should have never left the front page until the truly guilty parties were doing the perp walk. It’ll only take a minute of your time tomorrow. Bookmark the CCR website, or check in with ASZ tomorrow for more details.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Another Happy Planet Monday

First the fun, um, ah, borrowed from Holden at First Draft, his regular caption contest.

You can caption here or there.

You can caption anywhere.

But don’t forget to check out

little Georgie’s lifts.

Now for something less fun, but edyifying.

“The Sniffles of War”: A Memoir by Tom Bisser

“In adolescence as you sit with thumb in mouth among your toys and comic books there is always the War, that your Dad was in the War, every Vietnam unhappy dinnertime meal Dad going berserk are you reminded of the Vietnam War. Nightmares daymares wacked-out stereotype multiple-personality Vietnam Dad My Lai massacre flashbacks blowing-up neighbor’s garbage cans laughing wildly insanely crying former Marine Dad.”

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

First it was Cicciolina

Perhaps some of you don’t know about this scandal. But it wasn’t that long ago that Cicciolina (does that mean “little cricket?), a porn star, was elected to the Italian Parliament. I guess those working folk wanted one of their own to represent them? Cicciolina was also at the center of some big-time art controversies as the subject of the work of Jeff Koons. I’ve long been drawn to good old-fashioned art and censorship controversies.

Well, this time it is a controversy in the Italian Parliament again. You see, the conservative Parliament recently fired “Dario Mattiello, an assistant to the upper house’s vice president, after photographs of him at a gay nightclub in Rome were distributed.” There have been protests about the firing in the gay community, and now Parliament is accusing gay activists with infecting their computer system with gay porn images.

There is something akin to poetic justice here, though I can’t quite get a handle on it. Still, it’s nice to have a laugh at the expense of conservatives. Our conservatives here in the old USA, meanwhile, are back to what they do best, like banning dancing at high schools. These folks and how they deal with culture and its changes. . . I imagine them with eyes closed, their fingers in their ears, and singing at the tops of their lungs “la la la la la la la.” They have such faith in abstinence education and banning, two methods that simply don’t work.

Monday, November 29th, 2004 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

The Promise

During the time immediately prior to the Democratic Convention in August, stem cell research had once again put on a very public face. Ronald Reagan had just passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, and Ron Jr. ignited a firestorm by speaking at the convention in Boston. Some even say that Ron Jr.’s speech was the catalyst for Zell Miller’s hate-mongering at the GOP convention a month later.

In any case, quite a few of us chimed in at the time, indicating that we had a personal stake in the issue of stem cell research. For myself, it was my mother, who passed away earlier this year after suffering from (not battling, as the media would portray it) Alzheimer’s. And obviously, there’s the potential genetic connection to both myself and my kids.

The fundie wing of the GOP has made it quite clear – they do not support stem cell research, for all of the usual suspect reasons. One of those reasons (allegedly) is the lack of empirical evidence that such research and therapy will actually help people. For the less-than-blind, the evidence has been there for quite a few years. The science just needs to mature.

And now, it appears that we may have a human face on the benefits of stem cell therapy. It’s just too bad that the face didn’t have blonde hair, blue eyes, and live in Nebraska, because the story might actually get some real attention:

Paralyzed woman walks again after stem cell therapy

A South Korean woman paralyzed for 20 years is walking again after scientists say they repaired her damaged spine using stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood.

Hwang Mi-Soon, 37, had been bedridden since damaging her back in an accident two decades ago.

Last week her eyes glistened with tears as she walked again with the help of a walking frame at a press conference where South Korea researchers went public for the first time with the results of their stem-cell therapy…

We all know that the Bush Administration prefers faith-based answers to scientific problems. But I’d be willing to bet that a well-heeled, card carrying member of the religous right would be the first to send a loved one to South Korea if they thought there was a chance of helping the loved one.

Monday, November 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized


So, which is it?

AP – Tepid Start to Holiday Shopping Season


CNN – A Weekend Shopping Spree – Indications point to a booming start to holiday season…

Monday, November 29th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Thank You Sir, May I Have Some More?

Here’s my opener: I normally go out of my way to avoid repetition of topics that I find on the big dog progressive blogs (those listed under “Usual Suspects” in the left column). Today is an exception, because an article posted on Eschaton is an extension of a discussion I’ve been having all weekend – liberals framed as abused spouses.

Let’s set the stage. Friday evening, I was following some commenting on a totally unrelated topic at Eschaton (the comment boards at Eschaton are more like a chat room than a studious reflection on the topic at hand) . The trolls were out in force, and a couple of them were championing the meme that the Democratic Party must become more Christian and conservative like the GOP if it expected to have any relevance in the future. Along comes the following comment:

I’d also highly recommend the George Lakoff book “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think”

It’s excellent. I can now tolerate being around Republicans because while I don’t agree with them, I know where they’re coming from.

Abigail | Email | Homepage | 11.26.04 – 9:16 pm | #

To which I responded…

Is that like being able to tolerate an abusive husband because you “know where he’s coming from”?


Richard Cranium | Email | Homepage | 11.26.04 – 9:20 pm | #

Don’t misunderstand me – Abigail was not one of the trolls – she was attempting to respond reasonably to the trolls, and offer some advice to the liberal contingent in groking the neoconservative mindset. Saturday morning, I open up my email, and lo and behold, Abby had taken the time to write me privately:

Answer: no. Comparing Republicans – all of them – to abusive husbands is absurd and idiotic. I’m sure you must know some decent smart Republicans. I know quite a few. And I must say that having read Lakoff’s book (which I cannot recommend enough) my eyes have been opened. The book makes a lot of sense and I hope you pick it up and read it. Liberals are in the right. So let’s start using the right tactics in order to have civilized debates and not screaming matches that accomplish nothing.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve yet to read Lakoff’s book. Quite frankly, having been involved in politics for many years, I think I have at least a rudimentary understanding of the differences between the GOP and the Democrats – there is very, very little operational difference between the two. While there’s some socially oriented philosophical departure between Democrat and Republican platforms, from an operational perspective, neither party will do much to upset the big money Washington apple cart. Which makes what’s happening nationally even stranger.

In this post-election lull between voting and coronation, something odd is happening that I can’t recall having experienced before. Liberals (personified, not simply the liberal “agenda”) continue to be vilified by the right wing as if the election were still a month away. I don’t mean, “hey, we won, let’s find some common ground to work on because if we don’t we’ll squash you like a fucking bug” vilification, but a mean spirited, schoolyard bully rub-your-nose-in-it vilification.

Case in point: George Will’s column today. To save you the dread of clicking through to Mr. Will, let me sum up by saying that he takes off on ‘liberal academia’. His basic premise is that higher education is entrenched in pushing a liberal, secular view of the world. Well, duh, George. The entire point of a balanced university-level curriculum is to teach critical thinking skills as well as impart rote book knowledge. Critical thinking skills = questioning the status quo. Questioning the status quo = liberalism. Liberalism = anti-Americanism. Q.E.D., Will and his ilk don’t cotton to the general concept of “university”, which harkens back to the time of the Roman-Greco culture. You have to wonder what someone like Aristotle would think about George Will.

So, Abby, why would I want to find common ground with such pap? Short answer: I don’t. Yet in the progressive blogosphere, there seems to be a significant movement in the direction of driving the Democratic party to an accommodation with the 51%’ers. And that’s ludicrous on the face of it. This is where my “spousal abuse” response sprung from. There are simply too many on the liberal side of the ledger who want to become more like the abusers, because they think it will make the abusers like us more.

Rook can probably back me up on this:


When a woman (or man) capitulates to their spouse’s abuse, it’s always on the premise that he (or she) won’t do it again. Without making you go watch Oprah or Montel, we all know how that works out. Politically speaking, the GOP has become the abusive spouse. And liberals continue to play the role of the abused spouse.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a link to an article at Deride and Conquer, written by a domestic abuse advocate, which focuses on the parallels. A snippet:

We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 56 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we don’t know how.

Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who has defied her oppressor will tell you this: There is nothing wrong with you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are strong. You must change only one thing: stop responding to the abuser…

The only quarrel I have with Mel Gilles’ posting is her use of the word, “progressive”. Change that to “liberal”, Mel. “Progressive” connotes action. “Progressive” can be used as a verb. “Liberal” connotes philosophy, and has been soundly pounded into a word that we’ll never again (in my lifetime) be able to disassociate with the notion of namby pamby-ism.

So, with this post, I’m officially divorcing the terms liberal and progressive in my vocabulary. They both still have a place. But being a liberal means to me that I’ll accept abuse. I won’t anymore. I’ve become progressive.

Postscript: I said I was rushed before – as of 8PM, I’ve gone back and polished up my thoughts a bit more, made a few corrections, and hopefully clarified my feelings.

Sunday, November 28th, 2004 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

A Hard Habit to Break

I’ve followed this story since its beginning back in 2002. Three Dominican nuns of conscience cut though a security fence in rural northeastern Colorado to protest the US’s immoral nuclear weapons of mass distruction at the Minuteman III missile site.

“Clad in white jumpsuits identifying the trio as a “citizens’ weapons inspector team,” they cut through a security fence, smeared crosses in their own blood on the silo lid, and tapped on the rails – on which the 110-ton cover would move in the event of a missile launch – with ball-peen hammers in a symbolic attempt to beat swords into plowshares.”

And why are these courageous women ages 57, 68, and 70 making the news today? Because Sister Sarah Gilbert is serving her sentence at Camp Alderson in W. Virginia along with the diva of proper living, Martha Stewart.

Read on…

Sunday, November 28th, 2004 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized
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