Our World has Changed Forever and It’s Not Coming Back

On September 1, 2001 a gaggle of terrorists – at least one of whom spent his last night on Earth drinking demon run while ogling strippers – caught the early flight out of Portland , ME. The rest, as they say, is history.

When the dust settled George W. Bush grabbed a megaphone, climbed atop some rubble, threw his arm around a fireman, and gave a fiery speech about truth, justice, and the American way. The good ol’ boy fireman hug was a bit over-the-top, but otherwise it was the perfect thing to rally a country on edge and staring into a bottomless pit of C4.

It also marked the last time I agreed with just about anything he said and the last time there was any semblance of civility in the political process.

At the time, every pundit and politician talked about how the attacks were game-changers. The most oft-heard phrase was, “Our world has changed forever.”

That sure turned out a gross understatement.

Wobble-Kneed Don Knottses
Since the skeevy bastards drove the planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, America became – not the Greatest Generation of heroes and fidelity to high-minded principles – but a country of wobble-kneed Don Knotts impersonators grasping at any straw, enhanced interrogation technique, or abridged law to feel “safe”.

When the most unterrifying terrorist imaginable set his lap on fire, we cried out for the protection afforded by 3 oz. shampoo bottles and forbidden nail clippers – “watch out, I’ll clip you to within an inch of your pinkie finger’s quick”. And for good measure, we meekly stripped naked and suddenly thought it was perfectly reasonable to allow government agents to stick rectal probes up our asses to verify those things in our throats were tonsils and not miniature thermonuclear bombs…no doubt built in Iraq.

Our latter day lunatic fringe is terrified at the tyranny of affordable health care, yet makes not a peep over unrestricted wiretaps, error-prone no-fly lists, and a host of other insults to the Constitution.

The small government champeens somehow see a conglomeration of 380 million individual decision makers as an effective form of government. But, what about the biggest government behemoth of them all – the Department of Homeland Insecurity? For some, it and the Department of Defense are the only two allowable functions of a tyranny-free government, except for the Bureau of Who You Can’t Marry and the Anti-Abortion Administration.

Our twin 30-day cum 10-year wars grind up bodies and trillions of dollars that we aren’t really losing because they’re financed off-budget. Plus anyone the President chooses can be outsourced to some incredibly evil off shored prison to be beaten and waterboarded with impunity. Actually, you’d think they’d be all for affordable health care after all that.

America: The North American Banana Republic
Our current government is as stable as a South American Banana Republic that can’t agree on which sash and medals the President can wear with his faux flight suit and codpiece.

And, your average American Chicken Little believes the President is a Communist Kenyan, the moon landings took place in a Houston TV studio, and Bush personally killed bin Laden with the pearl-handled six-shooters confiscated from Saddam … or the Pentagon attack was staged… or bin Laden’s whereabouts have been known for years and Obama just saved the killshot for political points… or, well, you get the point.

Whether you vehemently oppose abortion, protest every capital death sentence, believe in euthanasia, or think Obamacare consists entirely of a Death Panel and hypodermic needle, chances are you see bin Laden’s killing as a richly deserved punishment for a cowardly, suburban-dwelling bully dressed in funny clothes and unable to get more than 10 feet from a dialysis machine. And, you’d be right.

Resolved: the man was a worthless piece of shit who didn’t deserve to live. Now, America can chant “USA… USA… USA!”and unite around something again. It’s a good thing that a brave team of our best warriors killed the man in cold blood – there is no question. However, the unity started to fray as the chants fell quiet. People are already arguing over every scrap of information or cockamamie fantasy they harbor. Pundits are pontificating and politicians are preening. In short, the nation is quickly reclaiming its false bravado and Don Knotts tremor.

Those folks were right nearly 11 years ago. The world will never be the same again because we’ve handed the terrorists a victory of continuous self-induced terror, exactly what terrorists want.

And, killing Osama doesn’t change that a whit.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Racial profiling: Degrading, unconstitutinal and ineffective

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Observations by Restore Fairness’ Zebunnisa Burki:

Have you ever been told that you don’t look like an American? Have you ever been stopped and searched by police just for driving around in a neighborhood? Or felt discriminated at airports? I have. It might be difficult for most people to know what its like to feel singled out. But this is what a lot of people of African-American, Hispanic, Arab and Asian and South Asian descent face when going about their lives in the US.

Using this as the premise, Breakthrough partnered with Rights Working Group, Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP) and Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) on Tuesday, December 7th, at the NYU School of Law, for a screening of two documentaries: Face the Truth, produced by Breakthrough and the Rights Working Group, and Americans on Hold: Profiling, Prejudice and National Security, produced by CHRGJ. The screenings were part of the Rights Working Group’s “conversations on racial profiling” and were followed by an engaging Q&A session with filmmakers and activists, Madhuri Mohindar from Breakthrough, Nadine Wahab from the Rights Working Group, and Amna Akbar from CHRGJ, NYU.

Face the Truth, produced in September 2010, narrates the story of Karwan Abdul Kader, a Kurdish immigrant, who was stopped and stripped by law enforcement officials just because he was in the wrong neighborhood and looked “different.” Through his story and those of Juana Villegas and Lena Masri, Face the Truth serves as a reminder that even the land of opportunity doesn’t always support diversity. The film also makes an honest attempt to understand the divide between immigrants and local law enforcement by interviewing police officials and civil society activists.

Americans on Hold, the second documentary that screened that evening, follows a similar structure, narrating the personal stories of Anila Ali, a Pakistani immigrant community organizer and Zuhair Mahd, a visually challenged Jordanian immigrant. The film’s focus is immigration, citizenship and race in the US, especially when looked at in light of recent counter terrorism legislation and policies.

As is well-documented, post 9/11 America saw an increase in racial profiling against people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, mostly due to new counter-terrorism measures. These include the now infamous FBI name check and National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, better known as NSEERS, which allows authorities to target individuals from 25 specific countries, of which almost all are Muslim.

According to Nadine Wahab, domestic law in the US is often ambiguous on racial profiling. Policies such as NSEERS, along with the TSA’s recently tightened “counter terrorism” measures; Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Secure Communities program, and the general atmosphere of racial bias by law enforcement, have led to extreme distrust among immigrant and other vulnerable/minority communities.

What is most disturbing is the encouragement and support for policies such as full body scans and pat downs by TSA, especially by mainstream media, politicians and political movements. A good example would be an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that does its best to highlight the “benefits” of TSA’s stricter security measures.

The films (and the discussion after) served as a reminder that racial profiling and bias are not the lot of any one community. This is an issue that continues to affect different communities. Black/Latino/Arab/South Asian/Asian- these targeted communities all face the same discrimination but often remain cocooned in their own niche spaces, finding it difficult to reach out to each other.

In the Q&A that followed the screening, there was a strong consensus on the need for all targeted communities to stand united and work for legislation such as End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) and the DREAM Act. To do this, it is important to look at the “war on terror”, and the “war on drugs” through the intersectional lenses of race and class. Linda Sarsour of AACP rightly pointed out that immigrant communities that were most affected were those who were also financially less well off than others. Is the race issue then also an issue of class?

During the conversations/dialogue, there was an almost palpable sense of empowerment engendered as a result of sharing stories of racial injustice, further highlighting the need for our different communities to work together on the many unresolved issues related to immigrants’ rights and racial bias. Issues such as stop and frisk policies, class, race and national legislation dominated the discussion.

The audience, representing a number of different racial backgrounds, did not hesitate from commenting, sharing personal stories, or asking questions. The most interesting part of the evening was the personal accounts of racial profiling shared by a number of audience members. From stories of stop and frisk by police to informants tracking down and interrogating Muslim men in mosques to horrifying stories of entrapment by the FBI, the cathartic energy of the stories became apparent as time went by.

As someone who is used to the natural fear that one feels traveling in and out of the US, to me, the evening was an exercise in building confidence and hope. To see people with Hispanic, Arab Muslim, African American, and South Asian backgrounds coming together and discussing ways to collaborate on immigration and race issues with a unified voice, is an encouraging sign. It felt like the beginning of an understanding that racial prejudice and bias touches more than one community, nationality and ethnicity—the beginning of something better.

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

DADT and the Wall of Whoop

DADT has been studied more than cancer, but the data is finally in. A vast majority of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines said, “big whoop”. The Secretary of Defense and many senior commanders have said – as they have for quite some time – “big whoop”. And the public, which the Tea Baggers and Republicans claim gave them an overwhelmingly clear mandate to do whatever they wanted screamed, “big whoop!” The Republican caucus, a minority of military commanders, and most notably Lindsey “Rentboy” Graham and the world’s most petulant child, John McThuselah, have said, “Not so fast. There’ll be no whooping in my military.”

On this issue – come to think of it, on most issues – McCain has been a major pain in the tuchus. He whined because the 17 gazillion studies that have been done since DADT was enacted just weren’t thorough enough, if by thorough you mean agreed with him. He said he’d gladly go along with repeal once the troops on the ground said, “big whoop”. Not unexpectedly, when confronted by the troops’ Wall of Whoop, his response is, “Whaaaaaaaa! I don’t wanna!”

McCain: Formally Admiral Crybaby
How the hell did such a crybaby survive being a POW? “Wahhh! I want more gruel. Whaaaa! I’m hot, and cold, and hot. Whaaaa! You waterboarded me with a neti pot instead of a towel and bucket. What kind of enhanced interrogator are you?!”

Look, almost every military on Earth, except perhaps Pope Ratzzie’s Swiss Guard, accepts gay people. And like the old saw about masturbation (with apologies to Christine O’Donnell), those that think there are none already there are lying. So far as I know, there has never been a military failure attributable to sexual orientation unless you count drumming out qualified and critically needed translators at just the time we needed them most.

Way to fight the War of Error there Boehner Bitches.

There have been no instances of soldiers running out of the shower tent directly into the groping hands of a TSA agent because someone looked at their junk. Even little old ladies from Pasadena waited until someone took x-rays of their desiccated old vajayjays followed by the most embarrassing crotch grab in history to complain.

AAAAAHHHHH! Look, It’s a Dick
Are you saying that accidentally looking at an underwhelming, soap-lathered dick will cause a top notch military to take up arms and resist the legal orders of Congress and the President – who ought to stop pussyfooting (no pun intended) around and issue? If you do, are you not saying, “These colors never run!” but, “These colors will always run from a comrade they never even knew was gay before they were allowed to ask”? You’re not describing a world class military; you’re describing an extremely well-armed gaggle of unpatriotic, cowardly traitors.”

As a veteran, I for one am as insulted as those in uniform should be.

John Boy, Graham Cracker, Boehner Boys, Senate Leader Yertle, stop turning an issue with as much import to the country as your last 27 anti-flag burning amendments into a holy crusade that allows you to stomp your little wingtips and whine whenever the Democrats’ chiropractor accidentally finds a spine.

I believe you’ve been bragging about that massive mandate you got from the public. A public, BTW, that rates you several points below your craven Democratic colleagues and that sorry excuse for a President across the aisle. Quitcher bitchin’ and do as the vast majority of voters have commanded.

Your behavior is just so, um, gay (apologies to the LGBT community for the insult).

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

The Weekly Pulse: Michael Pollan’s Rules for Thanksgiving, Plus Whole Foods’ Healthcare Lies

Editor’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving from the Media Consortium! This week, we aren’t stopping The Audit, The Pulse, The Diaspora, or The Mulch, but we are taking a bit of a break. Expect shorter blog posts, and The Diaspora and The Mulch will be posted on Wednesday afternoon, instead of their usual Thursday and Friday postings. We’ll return to our normal schedule next week.

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Wednesday is the heaviest travel day of the year in the United States, as millions of Americans head home to celebrate Thanksgiving. Some of you are probably reading this dispatch on PDAs as you wait in an interminable line at airport security. Here’s some food for thought.

At Grist, food writer Michael Pollan officially declares himself a Rules Guy. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean he won’t accept a Friday dinner invitation offered after noon on Wednesday. Pollan thinks that our healthy eating skills are passed down to us as part of food culture. In this era of drive-through windows and meal replacement bars, a lot of the old wisdom is falling by the wayside and Americans are finding themselves adrift in a sea of calories. On the eve of Thanksgiving, Pollan provides some helpful guidelines for avoiding the food coma:

[M]any ethnic traditions have their own memorable expressions for what amounts to the same recommendation. Many cultures, for examples, have grappled with the problem of food abundance and come up with different ways of proposing we stop eating before we’re completely full: the Japanese say “hara hachi bu” (“Eat until you are 4/5 full”); Germans advise eaters to “tie off the sack before it’s full.” And the prophet Mohammed recommended that a full belly should contain one-third food, one-third drink, and one-third air. My own Russian-Jewish grandfather used to say at the end of every meal, “I always like to leave the table a little bit hungry.”

But wait, there’s more!

  • Unions representing airline pilots and flight attendants are advising their members to avoid the the TSA’s new backscatter x-ray scans because of concerns about the long-term health effects of x-ray radiation. Crew members who refused scans have been subjected to new “enhanced” pat-down searches. This week, the TSA granted an exception to pilots, but not to flight attendants. As I reported for Working In These Times, all crew members go through the same FBI background check and fingerprinting process. “Don’t touch my junk!” has become a rallying cry for passengers, particularly white men, who are not accustomed to being asked to give up any part of their body’s autonomy for the greater good. Is it a coincidence that 95% of pilots are men and three-quarters of flight attendants are women? [Update: The TSA has relented. The agency announced Tuesday that flight attendants will now get the same exemption as pilots.]
  • Adam Serwer argues in The American Prospect that it’s easy to demand tough security measures when the presumed targets are faceless Muslims in a distant country. When air travelers are asked to compromise their own privacy in the name of security, the tradeoff suddenly seems very different.
  • Employee health insurance deductibles are skyrocketing at Whole Foods and CEO John Mackey is trying to blame the increase on health care reform. “This is very important for everyone to understand: 100% of the increases in deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums in 2011 compared to 2010 are due to new federal mandates and regulations,” Mackey wrote in a corporate memo. In fact, as Josh Harkinson reports in Mother Jones, Mackey’s memo is pure, organic BS. The provisions in the Affordable Care Act that might increase costs won’t go into effect until 2014, so it’s hard to figure out how federal policies could be responsible. Health insurance costs were rising by about 5% per year, year after year, before the Affordable Care Act passed. The truth is that health insurance is getting more expensive because health care is getting more expensive. As Harkinson points out, one of the reasons that health care is getting more expensive is because corporations like Whole Foods are pushing more of their employees into part-time work to avoid covering them. Of course, when those workers get sick, someone has to pick up the cost of their care. So those who have insurance, including some of Whole Foods’ own employees, have to pay more to make up the difference.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

TSA Goes Gay for Fourth Amendment Smackdown

Today was one of those rare days when I heard a Republican speak some sense. But as usually happens at these snowball in Hell moments, someone comes along and takes things right over the top.

Forgive me if I come off the rails here, but I’m so giddy with this case’s heady aroma of bipartisanship it just gives me hope for change or maybe change for hope. Since neither happened, I guess it doesn’t matter.

This morning, The Hill reported that Rep. Ted Poe – from Texas of all places (who knew?) – speechified that the new TSAtouch my junk” rules are a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Watch Out for the Boehner Boys

Huzzah Rep. Ted! Props to you for such a forward-thinking position! But word to the wise, watch out for the long knives in the House cloakroom. The Boehner Boys may not be so understanding of a chap who actually thinks once in a awhile.

In my mind this is as clear as a case gets, notwithstanding the 4 out 0f 5 fear-crazed, jelly-legged, Americans who think it’s just fine to throw away perfectly good civil rights because a terrorist might set his lap on fire while sitting next to them on the 3:15 to Dallas. These are some of the same people who believe wiretapping is A-OK and domestic spying is just okey-dokey-artichokey if they hold the Islamoterrorists at bay.

Yet many complain that taxing them or maintaining the separation of church and state, or promoting non-discrimination is some overarching plot to get the Government so far down their knickers a TSA agent, even a gay one, couldn’t detect it.

Oh, TSA agents. That reminds me of Part 2 of this story.

Peter LaBarbera over at Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) is not only God fearing, but also terrorist fearing and homosexual fearing – the fear trifecta, by golly! He maintains homos are on the loose at your neighborhood airport and they’re a greater threat than terrorists, except for him coming out of his own closet.

So, Pete thinks boy agents shouldn’t frisk boys, and girl agents shouldn’t frisk girls, and bisexuals, well they just can’t frisk anybody. Heaven forbid we have a wild outbreak of woodies and wet spots in line at that sanitary napkin-seeing  monument to terrorist exceptionalism, the full body scanner.

BTW, he didn’t mention transsexuals, presumably because the existential question, “I think I have a post-operative penis, so therefore who the hell will I be next week?” just blew his pointy little sex-crazed mind.

Now I’m not sure what Pete’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment is , but I’ll go out on a limb and guess he frequently mistakes it for the Fourth Commandment. Is that the one where you shouldn’t covet your neighbor’s goat or the one about never getting into cars when creepy old guys offer you candy?

I’m an atheist, so I’m unclear on this religious stuff.

What Does a Terrorist Wear Under His Kilt?
In any case, Ted, Pete, and I all see something that is wrong. Nobody should be frisking anyone, homosexually or otherwise. Nobody should be taking x-ray pictures of your wrinkly old junk. No one should have to remove shoes, belts, or kilts (as has been suggested by recent patees) or forgo fingernail clippers for that nasty hangnail they’ve been nursing.

Also, water is good for you, regardless of the size of the bottle. Hand lotion – even in amounts greater than 3 oz. placed carefully in a clear container in a clear plastic bag – is handy on a long skin-drying flight. Unless you really do fear that Muslim-looking guy in 7E, who is really a suntanned sales rep from Omaha, is going to lube you to within an inch of your pants-wetting life!

I’m with you Ted, good on ya! And Pete, you’re as loony as they come, but you have a point here…even if you did find it by accident under that rock from which you spring. I’d ask you out for a drink, but you’d never tell me, would you?

Good Lord.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

 

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