IRIS ♥︎ #VeteransForKaepernick.

 

johnmiddlemas

After his grandson tweeted this photo of his grandfather kneeling in solidarity with NFL protests against racist police violence, John Middlemas, a white, 97-year-old World War II veteran, became an instant social media star. He said he wanted to join athletes who knelt in protest during the national anthem. Middlemas also had this to say: Continue reading

“Supporting the Troops,” everyone.

The Los Angeles Times ran a piece over the weekend revealing efforts by the California National Guard to claw back reenlistment bonuses and student loan payments from 9,700 soldiers it has determined were ineligible for these incentives. According to California Guard official Col. Michael S. Piazzoni, “The system paid everybody up front, and then we spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible.”

“‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first—verdict afterwards.'”

“‘Stuff and nonsense,’ said Alice Iris loudly.”

Continue reading

Last month in mockery.

I was just going to plunk this into a link roundup, but upon re-reading it I like it so much I really want to highlight it. It has everything Loyal Readers™ crave: the appalling truth about how our government and media actually operate, witty snark, and a cudgel with which to clobber conservatives, all of it expressed by someone who clearly relishes the opportunity and/or understands the necessity of doing so.

A few weeks ago, a blogger at Daily Kos who goes by mtosner posted The Biggest Scandal in US History That We’re Still Not Talking About, based on this truly excellent 3-part work of investigative journalism by Scot J. Paltrow and Kelly Carr for Reuters from July.

That would be July of 2013.

Take it away mtosner:

Pentagon_Money_lost

The above is roughly what 8.5 Trillion dollars would look like… and those are $100 bills. Take another look and let that sink in for a bit…   I find it absolutely astonishing that the pentagon could lose track of this much money and for there to be no MSM coverage of this scandalous amount of mismanagement and fraud. Where is the demand for accountability? Why is the first question to ANY candidate for president not “What would you do about the massive fraud and waste at the Pentagon?”  Where are the hearings, nay indictments, that are warranted when a sum equal to 1/2 of our national debt can be sent to the pentagon to never be accounted for.

In an update, the author also notes the fact that since 1996, the Pentagon has been required by law to be “audit ready.” In the nearly 20 years that have passed since then, no real accounting systems have been implemented, much less actual audits. I have been traveling the last day or so through the part of our country I refer to as Pennsyltucky, with brief stops in Latrobe, PA, Lexington, KY and Memphis, TN (don’t ask), and I can attest that every television screen in sight is broadcasting Republican warmongers whinging about the Iran deal, and no one appears the slightest bit concerned with the mysteriously missing EIGHT AND A HALF TRILLION DOLLARS. Why just this morning, I caught my BFF George Pataki yammering on CNN about how the U.S. got “nothing” from the Iran deal. And here I thought “not going to war with Iran” would be less expensive in terms of blood and treasure than, you know, actually going to war with Iran. Silly me. I mean at this point, what’s a few more trillion dollars down the rabbit hole, plus thousands more dead and maimed soldiers, millions of dead, maimed and displaced Iranians, and yet another politically unstable country in the Middle East? “Nothing,” that’s what.

Of course $8.5 trillion worth of Pentagon corruption and/or incompetence (with no end in sight) affects virtually everyone across the nation, but soldiers and veterans suffer the worst of it by far. Just read the first part of the Reuters series to see what “supporting the troops” looks like in practice.

With all of that as backdrop, mtosner urges us to get our game on and work that $8.5 trillion into every political conversation we have, especially with conservatives*. To wit:

“What’s that? Body cameras for all cops will be too expensive? How bout we find 1/10,000th of the money we sent to the pentagon.”

“Oh really? There’s 500 million in provable food stamp fraud going to poor people how bout the 8.5 TRILLION the pentagon can’t account for?”

“Oh really? You think Obama care is going to cost us almost a trillion dollars over 15  years? How about the 8.5 Trillion that just disappeared into the ether at the pentagon? What’s you’re take on that?”

“Oh really, you’re concerned about deficit spending and the debt? Fully 1/3 of the national debt it is money we sent the Pentagon and they can’t tell us where it went. It’s just gone.”

“College for everyone will cost too much? You must be really pissed at the 8.5 Trillion, with a ‘t’, dollars the pentagon’s spent and can’t tell us where it went.”

Yes indeed.

Moreover mtosner is correct that the corporate media’s silence on this issue (among others) ought to require the modification of the oft-used term Military-Industrial-Complex to Military-Industrial-Media-Complex. Then again, when defense contractor GE owns NBC—including MSNBC, beloved by liberals who think Rachel Maddow is as leftist as it gets—perhaps it’s redundant. As mtosnter points out, “It seems for few hundred million in ‘be all you can be’ ad buys the MSM will keep it’s mouth shut.”

I do have a few nits to pick with mtosner, though, who suggests that this exercise exposes conservatives’ hypocrisy. This is true as far as it goes, but conservatives are notoriously impervious to charges of hypocrisy no matter how blatant (just think of all the sexual shenanigans by the Traditional Marriage™ types). But my bigger disagreement with mtosner is the characterization of any of this as “scandalous,” as if it represented some kind of aberration in the way things ordinarily operate. It isn’t. It only appears that way if you buy into the illusion that we are living in anything resembling a constitutional democracy.

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*Unless you are simply enjoying sharpening your fangs, I don’t generally recommend having conversations with conservatives, ever, unless there is an audience. In that case it’s your goddamn patriotic duty to mock them mercilessly and thereby, perhaps, enlighten your fellow citizens. It’s not like the corporate media is going to do the job for us, people.

nonprofitdefense

Reads.

library4

10 Situations Where Christian Bakers Should Refuse To Bake Wedding Cakes. Corey, B.L., Patheos (Mar. 2015). (“we need to have the courage to radically expand our discrimination as we apply the Bible to everyone but ourselves.”) [No cake for you! Or you! You either! –Ed.]

CIA Torture Whistleblower: Wake Up America, You’re Next. Abby Martin interview of John Kiriakou, Media Roots (Mar. 2015). (VIDEO)

Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy. Epstein, A., Quartz (Mar. 2015). [Yes we can’t! -Ed.]

Starbuck’s CEO Just Made A Shocking Announcement That Has Christians Standing Up For Their Faith. Rachel, Q Political (Mar. 2015). [Shocking. LOL –Ed.]

Forget terrorists — be terrified of Harperites. Siddiqui, H., The Star (Mar. 2015). (“Stephen Harper’s government wants us to be terrified of terrorists, niqabis, criminals, thieves, etc. But it’s the Conservatives we should be scared of.)

Women on 20s. (“It’s our mission to generate an overwhelming people’s mandate for a new $20 bill, to be issued in time for the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.”) [What are you doing lounging around the Palace? Go vote! -Ed.]

“You Grow Up Wanting to be Luke Skywalker, Then Realize You’ve Become a Stormtrooper for the Empire”. Crimmins, D. via Garret, Upriser (undated). [An amazing piece of writing from an Iraq veteran. -Ed.]

Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories. Ferdman, R.A., The Washington Post (Mar. 2015).

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panelAgence France-Presse via The Guardian (Mar. 2015).

If Motivational Posters Were For People Who Hate People. Bailey, L., BuzzFeed (Feb. 2015). [I hate people, and I can attest that these posters are totally for me! -Ed.]

everyoneistheworstEven in nursing, no equal pay for women. Rapaport, L., Reuters (Mar. 2015).

Virtual reality is coming to sex, sports and Facebook. della Cava, M., USA Today (Mar. 2015). [h/t SJ]

Big Bank’s Analyst Worries That Iran Deal Could Depress Weapons Sales. Fang, L., The Intercept (Mar. 2015). [OH NOEZ!!! –Ed.]

Amazon’s trees removed nearly a third less carbon in last decade – study. Mathiesen, K., The Guardian (Mar. 2015). (“Fall in amount of carbon absorbed by rainforest means even greater cuts to manmade emissions are needed to combat climate change, warn scientists.”) [Today in We Are So Fucked. –Ed.]

Mother-Daughter Duo’s Photo Project Features 5-Year-Old as Iconic Black Women. Gilchrist, T., For Harriet (Mar. 2015). [Amazing and adorable. -Ed.]

If Purvi Patel delivered in hospital she could have declined neonatal care, but she delivered at home so faces jail. Gunter, J., Dr. Jen Gunter (Mar. 2015). (“So to be clear, had Ms. Patel delivered in a hospital she could have declined neonatal care had her baby been born alive. But because she delivered at home she is a criminal. Now tell me this wasn’t a reproductive witch hunt designed to both test the limits of Indiana law in curtailing reproductive rights and score points with pro-life donors and voters.”)

This Woman Says She Had A Miscarriage. Now She Could Face 70 Years In Prison. Culp-Ressler, T., Think Progress (Mar. 2015). (“Critics say there are a lot of issues with the way Patel’s case has unfolded over the past two years. For instance, Patel was first questioned in her hospital bed without a lawyer present. Expert witnesses could not come to consensus about the gestational age of her fetus. The prosecution relied on a highly unscientific method to try to determine whether her fetus was born dead or alive.”) [UPDATE: Purvi Patel was just sentenced to 30 years, with 10 suspended. -Ed.]

Two Cops Arrested for Beating 3-Month-Old Into Vegetative State; Baby Not Expected to Recover. Fairbanks, C., The Free Thought Project (Mar. 2015). [h/t Tony] [I can’t even. –Ed.]

Black Woman Locked In Psych Ward For 8 Days Because Cops Couldn’t Believe She’s A Businesswoman. Kerry-Anne, Addicting Info (Mar. 2015). [I. CAN’T. EVEN. –Ed.]

One Model Tried On 10 Different Pairs Of Size 16 Jeans And This Is What They Looked Like. Ospina, M.S., BuzzFeed (Jan. 2015).

This Photo Was Removed By Instagram. The Owner Writes A Powerful Open Letter In Response. Rupi Kaur via Chaudhary, S., Scoop Whoop (Mar. 2015).

Trillion Dollar Fraudsters. Krugman, P., The New York Times (Mar. 2015).

Shakespearean Insulter. [“Thou clouted fly-bitten boar-pig!” Hahaha. -Ed.]

Stunning Photos Reveal Beauty in Medicine. Live Science (Mar. 2015).

She’s back! Arizona legislator suggests church attendance should be mandatory. Mother Mags, Daily Kos (Mar. 2015). [Okay, player. –Ed.]

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For the Quote Collection:

I think America has the best assholes in the world. I defy the Belgians or the Japanese to produce something like a Donald Trump. –Matt Taibbi

Women have always been an equal part of the past. They just haven’t been part of history. –Gloria Steinem

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Recent reading.

library4

Jehovah’s Witness leader complains: Gay people are plotting to put everyone in ‘tight pants’. Garcia, A., Raw Story (Nov. 2014). (LOLOL! –Ed.)

Petitioning Girl Scouts of the USA: Re-model the Barbie brand Girl Scout doll to be realistic. Chiu, K., change.org (Nov. 2014). (“I was so upset to see the new official Girl Scout Barbie — a doll that does not represent the diversity or mission of the Girl Scouts, and which, of all possible things, is dressed in high-heeled hiking boots.” WHAT. –Ed.)

New York City police will stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession. Francescani, C., Reuters via Raw Story (Nov. 2014).

Notes from a Pornographer on Sexist Sexual Imagery and Behavior. Christina, C., Freethoughtblogs (Nov. 2014). (“The idea that sex-positivity and sexual liberation means everybody expressing every sexual thought and acting on every sexual desire, the minute it pops into our heads — this is bullshit.”)

The Psychology of Spanking. [No, not the fun kind. –Ed.] (“eliminating corporal punishment of children is ‘a key strategy for reducing and preventing all forms of violence in societies.’”)

How the drug war blocked research into a promising experimental PTSD therapy​: ecstasy. Ehrenfreund , M., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014). (“Initial research suggests MDMA, used in the party drug ecstasy, could be a powerful treatment for veterans dealing with the trauma of war.”)

The flying of unauthorized drones at stadiums prompts safety concerns. Whitlock, C., The Washington Post (Nov. 2014).

Buy Your Daughter All the Butch Dolls You Want, She Still Won’t Be Able to Get an Abortion in Texas. Vargas-Cooper, N., The Intercept (Nov. 2014). (“We should disabuse ourselves of old ideas, especially this hold-over notion from the baby-boomer generation that somehow social institutions can be jammed, subverted, reformed, or overthrown through buying stuff.”)

MIT’s Crazy Materials Could Make for Self-Assembling Ikea Furniture. Flaherty, J., Wired (Nov. 2014).

Why Washington Continues to Beat the War and Disease Drums: Escalation is now a structural fact embedded in the war in the Middle East and the Ebola crisis here at home. Engelhardt, T., The Nation (Nov. 2014).

Clashes at protest over Mexico student deaths: Masked protesters, demonstrating over suspected killing of 43 students in September, clash with riot police in Acapulco. Al Jazeera (Nov. 2014).

The Tiny Police Department in Southern Oregon That Plans to End Campus Rape. Van Syckle, K., The Cut (Nov. 2014).

Soleá, the Flamenco of Seville. The New Yorker (Nov. 2014). [VIDEO.]

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PLZ NOTE: Acquisition of links and/or bon mots for the Palace Library does not imply the Palace’s 100% agreement with or endorsement of any content, organization or individual.

Veterans Day 2014: Fun, free and low-cost ways to meaningfully celebrate today.

Today is Veterans Day in the US.

I wrote last year about my friend Mike, who served as an Army Ranger in the Vietnam War. Though he looks much younger than his years, he has lived with painful physical injuries from the war that are worsening with age. He has other health problems linked to Agent Orange exposure, and he takes a cocktail of psychiatric medications for PTSD and other mental health problems.

I am sorry to report that over the past year Mike has taken a turn for the worse. He was diagnosed with MS, and although he is experiencing some characteristic symptoms, he does not buy the diagnosis 100% (for good reason, as it is difficult to diagnose definitively). More troubling are some neuro-psychological problems that appear to be sparking up. Recently, for the first time I’ve seen him uncharacteristically lose his temper (not at me, at a mutual friend). Just this Sunday he kept insisting to me that Republicans are better on gay rights than Democrats. Now I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry: I holstered my locked-&-loaded mockery pistol and gently but firmly insisted otherwise, with reference to the repeal of DADT and the feds dropping the DOMA appeals, among other things. I AM NOT A MONSTER, PEOPLE. Mike cheerfully changed the subject to how much he loves Obama and thinks he’s done a tremendous job as president. I let that one stand, and just said well, I’m a lot farther to the left than Obama. (<—understatement of the year, or the decade?)

We talk about a lot of things, me and Mike—his experiences during the war, his grown daughters and grandchildren, his home town of Detroit, his exes and the women he’s dating, New York City past and present—but mostly we talk about movies. We share a sweet tooth for clever action-adventure, smart thrillers and wicked fun sci-fi. Occasionally he tries to talk to me about professional sports, whereupon my eyes glaze over and I either start looking at my iPhone and paying him annoyed lip service (“uh-huh…”), or I fall tragically into a coma.

What worries me now is that he lives alone and, MS or no, he is facing an increasingly uphill battle with mobility and quality of life. I especially fear the mental impact on him, since despite his injuries he has spent the better part of his life exceptionally fit. I mean, I have no doubt whatsoever that this d00d could kill us all with his bare hands in seconds, like right now. Of course his deteriorating mental health worries me greatly, and not just for his sake but for entirely selfish reasons. There will surely come a day that my friend Mike is not present in my life any more, one way or another.

In the meantime, if he wants to talk I want to listen, with patience and without judgement (unless it’s about the goddamn sports. Jeezus Mike, just shut the fuck up about the sports, mmmkay?). As I’ve written before, I want to be a safe person for him to open up to, and not just about the war. I want to empathize, deeply, sincerely, compassionately, though obviously I can have no earthly idea what he has been through. I think it’s the least I can fucking do.

Just FYI: veteran suicides average more than 22 a day, and more than 69% of them are among those aged 50 and older.

If you have a Mike in your life, can you reach out today and just…listen? And, you know, maybe not just today.

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Here are some other things you can do for the veterans of our evil and stupid wars:

Wounded Warrior Project.

Because America’s Owners believe themselves entitled to the sacrifices made by these men and women and their families, VA programs are chronically underfunded and veterans benefits are perpetually on the chopping block. Wounded Warrior steps in with counseling, job resources and material support for veterans and their families. Donate whatever funds you can give, say thank you via Facebook, or “donate” a Facebook post or Tweet to show these men and women your support. There are also volunteer opportunities and other ways to help.

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Veterans for Peace.

veteransforpeacelogoVeterans for Peace™ is a coalition of military veterans and their allies whose mission is threefold: exposing the true costs of war (economic, environmental, human casualties, PTSD & suicide, social); building a culture of peace; and healing the wounds of war, at home and abroad. To that end, it works with other organizations:

  • To increase public awareness of the costs of war
  • To restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations
  • To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons
  • To seek justice for veterans and victims of war
  • To abolish war as an instrument of national policy

If you cannot afford to offer financial support, you can educate yourself and others with downloadable resources. There is an online store that sells some really great stuff (everything from a “HOW IS THE WAR ECONOMY WORKING FOR YOU?” bumper sticker for a dollar, to a 9-foot “FREE CHELSEA MANNING” banner for $30). Why not do some early holiday shopping for a veteran in your life? Or pick up some anti-war swag for yourself, and piss off a war-mongering Democrat today. (I’m looking at you, Hillary Clinton.)

See also my recent post about a veteran for peace.

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Chelsea Manning.

Former Pvt. Chelsea Manning is an American hero presently serving 35 years in a U.S. prison for exposing many illegal acts, corrupt and duplicitous practices and war crimes committed by the United States government for the benefit of America’s Owners. As of April 23, 2014, a Kansas district judge has approved PVT Manning’s request for legal name change (from Bradley), and you can address mail envelopes to her as “Chelsea E. Manning.” For the cost of a stamp you can write to her.

NOTE: mail must be addressed exactly as follows:

CHELSEA E. MANNING     89289
1300 NORTH WAREHOUSE ROAD
FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS 66027-2304

Seriously, no joke:

  • Do not include a hash (“#”) in front of Manning’s inmate number.
  • Do not include any title in front of Manning’s name, such as “Ms.,” “Mr.,” “PVT,” “PFC,” etc.
  • Do not include any additional information in the address, such as “US Army” or “US Disciplinary Barracks.”
  • Do not modify the address to conform to USPS standards, such as abbreviating “North,” “Road,” “Fort,” or “Kansas.”
  • For international mail, either “USA” or “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are acceptable on a separate line.

For more information about restrictions on content, see here (or the blog of her lawyer David Coombs). The Chelsea Manning Support Network is also raising funds for her legal fees; you can also donate to her prison account, which she can use to make phone calls, buy stamps and purchase other small comfort items. Be sure to at least sign the petition to President Obama demanding a pardon for Manning—a simple action guaranteed to be just as irritating to him as it is futile!

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Contact Your Representatives and Senators.

Call them up and tell them exactly what you think of cutting veterans benefits so that the planet-polluting corporations who benefit from our soldiers’ sacrifices can pay low-to-no taxes. Why not email your congresscritters a little note, and tell them to cut the defense budget in half and fund universal single-payer health care*, education, infrastructure and clean energy with the savings. Demand legislation requiring that companies benefiting financially from our wars be run as non-profits. Get yourself on the government’s lefty watch list today!

*In a masterstroke of truly ingenious reasoning, US soldiers who are less-than-honorably discharged with psychological problems are not entitled to VA health care—including mental health care.

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The Palace wishes a Happy Veterans Day to all veterans, and their families and friends.

Lt. General Jerry Boykin LOVES Stinky Jeezus.

[CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, transphobia, gender essentialism, excessive and probably unnecessary profanity.]

I was reading an excellent post by Amanda Marcotte about the panty-sniffing authoritarian assholes that comprise the Forced Birth Brigades when I noticed a link to another piece at Raw Story. It read:

Anti-LGBT activist slams church over ‘effeminate’ Jesus:
‘He smelled bad… He was a man’s man’

Maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but I never fail to get a snicker out of the pathetically infantile views of sexuality and gender expressed by “anti-LGBT activists.” Especially the d00ds: these are plainly some of the most insecure men on the planet, anxious and obsessed with a toxic model of cartoonish hyper-masculinity (and, not coincidentally, with an equally toxic construct of femininity). It does not matter from which particular Abrahamic sect such noxious views emanate—and there is always a religious source—because they are all so boringly similar. Thus it has become my custom to emit a derisive snort in the general direction of such clickbait and move on.

But in this case, the prospect of a rant about Stinky Jeezus proved far too enticing. I clicked the link. And lo, it came to pass that I was not disappointed.

Lt_Gen_William_G_Boykin

Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin,
manly man’s man,
just like Jeezus.

An anti-Muslim retired lieutenant general who now serves as the Family Research Council (FRC) executive vice president recently said he was upset that Jesus had been “feminized” because the Son of God was a “man’s man” who “smelled bad” and had “big, bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms.”

In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Monday, Jerry Boykin tells a group at William Jessup University that Jesus would have been a lot different than most people imagined because he did manual labor as a carpenter.

“Do you think he looked like the effeminate picture that we always see of him?” Boykin asked. “He didn’t look like that. He had big ole calluses over his hands, right? I imagine he probably lost a nail or two, he probably hit it with a hammer or something.”

“You think his biceps weren’t big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting?” he continued. “He smelled bad! Why? Because he sweated, he worked. You think I’m sacrilegious because I said Jesus smelled bad? No, he was a man! He was a man’s man.”

Boykin lamented that “we feminize him in the church.”

“He was a tough guy, and that’s the Jesus I want to be like,” he insisted. “But we feminize Jesus in the church and men can’t identify with him anymore, not the kind of men I want to hang out with. They can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray.”

What.

Here’s the video:

I’m familiar with FRC, the conservative Christian lobbying organization classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and led by infamous bigot Tony Perkins. These merry assholes rail against gay rights, including marriage equality and LGBT adoption, and oppose any expansion of civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. FRC is vehemently anti-abortion, anti-birth control and proudly endorses the teaching of the spectacular font of misery and abject failure that is abstinence-only education, “intelligent design,” and prayer in public schools. In other words, these people are total fucking doucheweasels.

Boykin’s name sounded familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place it so I looked him up. His impressive military career spanned 36 years, including 13 years in Delta Force. It almost didn’t happen: a Fort Bragg psychologist almost ended his career, wanting to exclude him from the Delta Force because he was “too religious.” But he finally got in anyway.

Boykin was awarded many military honors, including two Purple Hearts. He took part in some high-profile missions, including the 1992 hunt for drug lord Pablo Escobar. The Pentagon suspected Boykin intended to overstep his authority, break the law and have his team assassinate Escobar in Colombia, and it appears that’s exactly what he did. In 1993, he advised Attorney General Janet Reno regarding the stand-off at Waco, TX between the Feds and the Branch Davidians, and, well, let’s just say that didn’t work out very well. Boykin has been connected to secret Israeli counterinsurgency activities in Iraq, allegedly including assassination squads. In 2003, Seymour Hersh documented in the New Yorker that Boykin was a key planner behind Donald Rumsfeld’s approach to fighting the War on Terror. Heckuvajob there.

Still, none of that really rang any bells. Then I came across an item that jogged my memory: Lt. General Boykin saying stupid shit. In a recorded speech to a religious group in 2003, Boykin said that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christians…and the enemy is a guy named Satan.” (Wait, I thought the Satan worshippers hated us for our Freedom™, not for our Jewy-Jeezusness. ?) The next day the Los Angeles Times ran some more Boykin quotes, including a doozy about hunting down Osman Atto in Mogadishu: “I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” (Translation: “I am insecure about the size of my penis. Also, my dad can beat up your dad.”) Worst of all, Boykin has questioned the eligibility of Muslims for protection under the Constitution—despite the fact that thousands of Muslims presently serve honorably in the military and have done so since the American Revolution.

muslimgravesatarlingtonGraves of Muslim soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
These three lost their lives in Iraq, a war for which
Lt. Gen. Boykin was a key planner.

When Boykin started mouthing off about his big penis god and the small penises evils of Muslims, people went apeshit, and rightfully so. Arab and Muslim organizations in the U.S. called for his resignation, as did many mainstream publications like Newsweek. Congresscritters from both parties denounced the remarks, and urged Rumsfeld to censure and reassign him. Even President Bush distanced himself, saying Boykin didn’t “reflect my point of view or the point of view of this administration.”

Of course nothing ever came of any of it. Boykin retired in 2007 and went on to say even more stupid shit, if you can believe it. For example, he co-wrote a hilariously paranoid book for a neocon think [sic] tank, entitled Shariah: The threat to America (pdf). Its central argument is that “most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.” Um, no. As an acclaimed article in the Washington Post understated it: “Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center’s book inaccurate and counterproductive.” Boykin also claims the Holy Spirit speaks to him personally and tells him what to say to the Lord’s men: “put your armor on and get into battle.” For Jeezus. Yikes.

And now we have this Stinky Jeezus rant. Christ. Where to begin.

First, the projection. Religious people apparently cannot grok that to everyone else, their gods are obviously projections of themselves. Thus it is yawningly predictable when an anti-gay war-lover like Boykin pompously proclaims with certainty that Jeezus is not only super butch, he gives Boykin personal messages to tell other men to be super butch, too. Yet strangely enough, we have Anglican priest Father Rod Bower also claiming to know the mind of the Christian god—who loves gays:

JESUS HAD
2 DADS
AND HE TURNED
OUT OKAY

DEAR CHRISTIANS
SOME PPL ARE GAY
GET OVER IT.
LOVE GOD

For the religious, the only issue here is which version of god is the correct one. If you are a homophobic authoritarian asshat, you will “know” that Boykin is right about super butch Stinky Jeezus. Not only that, but you will probably think this image distributed at the 2000 Republican national convention is seriously awesome, if not incontrovertible proof that Stinky Jeezus himself wants George W. Bush to be the 43rd president.

bushasunclesamOn the other hand, if you are socially liberal, you will “know” that god loves and accepts gay people and abhors discrimination. You will also likely think the above image is hilariously absurd.

‘Twas ever thus. The history of this nation is scarred with epic battles where we somehow find Jeezus on both sides of slavery, the Civil War, women’s emancipation, the civil rights movement, abortion, contraception, gun rights, “free market” capitalism, welfare, the Vietnam War, public education, stem cell research, everything. The obvious problem is that there is no way of determining any such thing. In some cases scripture might appear to “help,” for example by providing a religious justification for the vilification of gays and the commodification of women. But in many cases scripture itself is so internally contradictory that one cannot possibly justify any particular argument for what this god character wants, at least not honestly and coherently. And so we are right back to the same problem of projection: sects and individuals choosing whatever idea of god suits them personally. Never mind that the most likely explanation by far for this conundrum is that there is no Jeezus and religious people are naively unreflective at best, and willfully ignorant narcissists at worst.

Boykin says he wants to see only butch Jeezus images in churches, and only hang out with d00ds who are sweaty, smelly and have “big bulging biceps, big ole veins popping out of his arms, thin waist, strong shoulders from lifting.” NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I’m not being flippant here, I mean it: whoever Boykin finds appealing company is entirely his prerogative and the Palace supports him 100% in this, no matter how superficial it reveals him to be. But his low regard for men who are not super butch like him and Stinky Jeezus—in particular his use of “effeminate” as an insult, as something defiling Christian churches—is toxic patriarchal bullshit of the first order. Using “effeminate” to label men he does not wish to look at or hang out with is not only dismissive of men who do not meet his aberrational standards for masculinity, it is equally contemptuous of women and all things feminine. Boykin devalues the worth and humanity of countless soldiers who have served the U.S. military bravely and honorably in critical roles that do not, in fact, require bulging biceps any more than they require Christianity. He demeans and erases these soldiers, just as he erases the Muslim soldiers killed and maimed in his stupid fucking war. If you were an effeminate man, slight of build, androgynous, or hell, anything other than a super butch smelly d00d, what would it be like to serve under a patriarchal shitweasel like Lt. General Boykin?

Because here’s the truth: Jerry Boykin doesn’t get to define masculinity. Neither he nor the FRC is the arbiter of who is or is not a man. I am reminded of something bell hooks said recently in this amazing discussion with Melissa Harris Perry [h/t Jadehawk]:

When we talk about hyper-masculinity, if what we mean is patriarchy, that’s what we need to say. Because we have to have a space to love, to revere, and to honor that which is masculine but is not patriarchal. And if we are constantly equating the two, then we are part of the assault on masculinity.

Now don’t get me wrong: I am grateful that we have delusional right-wing assholes like Boykin in the military. If it should it ever prove necessary for the United States to resort to violence in self-defense (hahaha), their cavernous empathy deficit coupled with enthusiasm for physical aggression would seem to render such personalities remarkably well-suited to killing other humans, and presumably more psychologically resilient in the aftermath than a decent human being would be. But while there may be a practical need for delusional right-wing assholes in the military, we obviously cannot have delusional right-wing assholes in charge of the military. That goes for everyone from the so-called Commander-in-Chief, the Pentagon leadership, CIA Director, and especially for the unelected, unaccountable permanent power factions they so ably serve: the Military Industrial Complex, Big Banks, Dirty Energy and the shifting coalitions of other nefarious shitheads such as the health insurance industry and Big Agriculture.

Unfortunately, all indicators point to a mass of delusional right-wing assholes running the shit show.

Fun, free and low-cost ways to meaningfully celebrate Veterans Day.

In the U.S., today is Veterans Day.

I have a friend—let’s call him “Mike,” because that is his name—who served as an Army Ranger in the Vietnam War. Mike is a sweetheart who hails from Michigan and now lives in Hoboken, NJ. He’s the kind of guy who is always happy to help out a friend. (And he ain’t exactly hard to look at either, if you know what I mean).

We talk about movies a lot. Mike likes the same kinds of movies I do: smart thrillers, clever action-adventure, well-written sci-fi. When Hurricane Sandy flooded his apartment (he lost everything), it was losing his prized movie collection that seemed to cause him the most grief. Since then I’ve been picking up DVDs for him here and there, films I know he loves, plus some of my own favorites.

Mike has told me many, many things about his experiences during the war, and events related to his military service that have happened since. Often his stories are horrifying; occasionally they are hilarious. Whenever he opens up about any of this, I make it a practice to listen to him intently, and try to indicate nonverbally that I welcome hearing whatever he has to say, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me to contemplate it. I’ll sometimes ask questions for clarification, if doing so doesn’t seem too intrusive. I want to listen if he wants to talk. I want to be a safe person for him to open up to, and supportive in the ways that I can be. I want to empathize, deeply, sincerely, compassionately, although I can have no earthly idea what he has been through, not really. It’s the fucking least I can do.

Mike has some painful physical injuries from the war, injuries that are worsening with advancing age. He has other problems linked to exposure to Agent Orange, and he takes a variety of psychiatric medications for PTSD and related issues. Like all veterans I know, Mike has had difficulty obtaining adequate medical care from the VA.

I hope to see him later today, so I can wish him a Happy Veterans Day. Maybe give him a new DVD.

If you have a Mike in your life, maybe you can reach out today. And not just today.

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Here are some things you can do to honor veterans:

Wounded Warrior Project.

Because America’s Owners believe themselves entitled to the sacrifices of these men and women and their families, VA programs are chronically underfunded and veterans benefits are perpetually on the chopping block. Wounded Warrior steps in with counseling, job resources and material support for veterans and their families. Donate what you can, and/or send a thank you note to a wounded veteran via Facebook. There are also volunteer opportunities and other ways to help.

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Veterans for Peace.

veteransforpeacelogoVeterans for Peace™ is a coalition of military veterans and their allies whose mission is threefold: exposing the true costs of war (economic, environmental, human casualties, PTSD & suicide, social); building a culture of peace; and healing the wounds of war, at home and abroad. To that end, it works with other organizations:

  • To increase public awareness of the costs of war
  • To restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations
  • To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons
  • To seek justice for veterans and victims of war
  • To abolish war as an instrument of national policy.

If you cannot afford to donate financial support, you can educate yourself and others with downloadable resources. There is an online store that sells some great stuff (e.g. a “HOW IS THE WAR ECONOMY WORKING FOR YOU?” button, for 50 cents). Why not do some early holiday shopping for a veteran in your life? Or pick up some anti-war swag for yourself, and piss off a Democrat today.

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Chelsea Manning.

Former Pvt. Chelsea Manning is an American hero presently serving 35 years in a U.S. prison for exposing many illegal acts, corrupt and duplicitous practices and war crimes by the United States government on behalf of America’s Owners. Write to her:

Bradley E. Manning  89289
1300 North Warehouse Road
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 66027-2304

NOTE: Chelsea’s mail must be addressed to “Bradley,” via the U.S. Postal Service, at that exact address. No joke: “The address must be complete and shall not contain punctuation, hashes, rank, branch of service, any nicknames or aliases, or facility and housing unit names: just first name, middle initial, last name, registration number and street address.” All guidelines for allowable mail are here (pdf). The Private Manning Support Network is also raising funds for legal fees, family visits, transitioning costs, and to help her pursue her dream of a college education. Be sure to sign the petition to President Obama urging a pardon for Pvt. Manning, guaranteed to be just as irritating to him as it is irrelevant!

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Contact Your Representatives and Senators.

Why not give them a little ringy-dingy, and tell them exactly what you think of cutting veterans benefits so that the planet-polluting corporations who benefit from our soldiers’ sacrifices can pay low-to-no taxes. Or email your congresscritters a little note, and tell them to cut the defense budget in half and fund single-payer, infrastructure, clean energy and education with the savings. Tell them you’ve been wondering why companies that benefit financially from our wars shouldn’t be run as non-profits.

The ‘defense’ budget is three quarters of a trillion dollars. Profits went up last year well over 25%. I guarantee you: when war becomes that profitable, we’re going to see more of it. –Chalmers Johnson

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Happy Veterans Day.

“Sweat now or bleed later.”

Via a Greenwald tweet today, I read a story from July about Oath Keepers, “a coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials [who] have pledged not to obey unconstitutional commands.” The group has launched a billboard campaign, including putting up three massive, pro-Edward Snowden ads in the Pentagon’s subway station. Here’s one:

snowden-oath-keepers

SNOWDEN HONORED HIS OATH
HONOR YOURS! STOP BIG BROTHER
EXPOSE UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTIONS
oathkeepers.org/expose

The group’s press release reads:

Oath Keepers has placed three back-lit signs on the subway platform in the Washington Metro Pentagon Station, group founder Stewart Rhodes announced today.

“The first sign at the Pentagon Station is done in the style of the theater scene from George Orwell’s 1984 and features Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, as ‘Big Brother,'” Rhodes wrote, stating the “sign makes it clear that by exposing the NSA spying on Americans, Snowden honored his oath.”

“This artwork will also be going on a billboard along a major freeway in Maryland, near the NSA headquarters at Ft. Mead within the week,” Rhodes added.

The second sign now in place at Pentagon Station is aimed directly at CIA employees, reminding them that their oath is not to a “corporate culture of secrecy,” Rhodes continued. “The third sign is intended to reach our military personnel within the Pentagon, and any other government employees who have ever served in the military, using the Iwo Jima flag-raising as a backdrop to the message.”

“This is part of a broader effort to place billboards at strategic locations throughout the United States,” Rhodes added, citing current locations including near military bases at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base, Fort Benning, Fort Hood, Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

Now before you dismiss Oath Keepers as deranged wingnuts or libertarian kooks, I beg you to consider that they just may not be so kooky after all. Or perhaps another way to look at it is that they might be just the kooks we need. Of course, it should surprise no one that a coalition of cops and soldiers would tend to lean rightward, and indeed they certainly get a little too close to Teabag-flavored swill for my personal taste. But their mission is the very antithesis of violent, right-wing militia movements. To wit:

[T]here are ten commands the Oath Keepers have forsworn. Those who join the group must refuse

• to disarm the American people

• to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects

• to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to trial by military tribunal

• to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state, or to enter with force into a state, without the express consent and invitation of that state’s legislature and governor

• to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union

• to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps

• to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext

• to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people

• to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies, under any emergency pretext whatsoever

• to do anything that would “infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances”

Of course most liberals will bristle at the refusal to “disarm the American people.” And as this writer points out, the state secession thing is sure to raise a few eyebrows. And for sure, a few of these commands are exceedingly unlikely to be heard outside the fevered dreams of conspiracy theorists (foreign troops on U.S. soil? Yeah, I think…not. But if I am wrong about this, I would be most grateful for the Oath Keepers refusing to assist them). However, some of these commands are more than just likely: several of them have already happened.

If the Oath Keepers are overly prone to see secret plots against our liberties, that’s because open plots against our liberties have been so successful. American police forces infringe on free speech and assembly at almost every major political summit. An American citizen, José Padilla, was famously tried before a military tribunal as an enemy combatant. Cops confiscated legal firearms from peaceful citizens following Hurricane Katrina. And speaking of Katrina, if you thought the item about blockading cities belonged on the “not very likely” list, think again. When victims of the storm attempted to flee across the Crescent City Connection bridge to Jefferson Parish, they were forced back by armed agents of the Gretna, Louisiana police. If there had been some Oath Keepers on the force that day, those refugees might have escaped the devastation.

“Liberal” media organ Mother Jones calls them treasonous. The Southern Poverty Law Center insinuates that they’re domestic terrorists. A guest on MSNBC called them “malcontents” who think they can “break the law and not follow orders if they don’t like what they’re being told.” Say, what? The most charitable explanation I can come up with for these nonsensical ramblings is that they reflect the fevered dreams of Obamabots. For what is treasonous would be issuing or following commands that are clearly illegal under the U.S. Constitution. None of this should be remotely controversial. And it’s really quite rich to call them terrorists when the ten commands the Oath Keepers refuse to obey are explicit refusals to commit violence. Except, perhaps, in the very specific scenario where the U.S. government turns its weapons on We the People in response to an uprising:

Search the group’s founding document and the closest thing you will find to a call to violence is the statement that, should a dictatorship be imposed and a popular uprising break out, its members will not only refuse to fire on the dissenters but will “join them in fighting against those who dare attempt to enslave them.” And even then the “fighting” needn’t necessarily be armed. (They also say they aren’t “advocating or promoting violence towards any organization, group or person.”) Otherwise, the manifesto is a call to stand down, not to rise up. Not every Oath Keeper would appreciate the comparison, but the group has more in common with those dissidents of the ’60s who refused to go to war than with any paramilitary cell.

If we find ourselves under a dictatorship with the American people in open revolt, I don’t know about you but I would welcome any and all resistance against the illegal regime. It would, by definition, have to be made up of ginormous assholes.

And that refusal to fire on dissenters? It’s critical. In light of my post earlier today regarding flashmobs as effective nonviolent protest, Loyal Readers™ may also recall my July post excerpting an interview with Chris Hedges:

Q. Congress seems a wholly owned subsidiary of the multinationals. Obama is pimping for GE in Africa. The Koch brothers have made a downpayment on the Supreme Court. Money will control the next federal election, and most of the state elections. Is there any scenario you see that will return this government to the people?

A. Mass protests that begin to scare the hell out of these people, and begin to disrupt systems that they care about. That really is the only solution.

I think they’re very fragile. I think internally they know how corrupt they are—which is why they passed the NDAA, because they want to be able to put the military on the streets. Because I think ultimately they don’t trust the police to protect them. And those are the sentiments of a dying elite.

So I think when we begin to organize against all the formal structures of power, I think that they may crumble as the Stasi state in East Germany, which, when I was in East Germany, appeared monolithic. [It] fell in about a week. And it fell in a week because Erich Honecker, the dictator for 19 years, sent an elite paratrooper division down to Leipzig to fire on 70,000 demonstrators, and they refused to do it… In the same way that the Tzar sent the Cossacks in to crush the Petrograd bread riots, and they fraternized with the crowd. Both Honecker and the Tzar only lasted another week in power. Once the foot soldiers of the elite will not protect the elite, they’re done.

And that’s why we have to be nonviolent. Because ultimately what we are doing is trying to create a paralysis within systems of power, whereby we speak truth, we appeal to conscience, we expose corruption, fraud, lies by those in power, so that when those forces are called into the street to stop us, they refuse to do so. That’s how all revolutions happen. And that’s really in the end what I’m calling for. I’m calling for the overthrow of this system. Let me say that again for Homeland Security: that’s what I’m doing. And I’m calling for it through nonviolent means, through mass protests. Because as a father of four children, I know that if we don’t stop these forces, they will kill us. They will destroy the ecosystem on which the human species and my children will depend for their life. And that is really the stakes that lie before us, and why there is an imperative for all of us to take risks. I don’t like going to jail, as I have. Going to jail is more time than I care to donate to my government. But it really is the only option left. Because if we fail at this, then it’s not just this particular civilization that will be extinguished, but human habitation.

Jesse Walker, writer for the libertarian* rag, Reason, inquired in June about the group’s thoughts on Snowden’s NSA spying revelations:

Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, has emailed me a statement about Snowden:

He is an example of what needs to be done by anyone who has knowledge of such gross violations of our rights. We need more to stand up, because this is surely the mere tip of the iceberg of the infrastructure for a police state that is being built over us.

This is about far more than supposed attempts to ferry out al Qaeda operatives. This is part of a growing Stasi and Checka style surveillance police state which tags, tracks, and prepares plans to detain dissidents with the “Main Core” database of millions of Americans who the regime considers a “threat.”

And this is also really about the absurd claim that the U.S. is a battlefield and the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to the President’s “surveillance of the battlefield.” That was the claim of neocon, government-supremacist Bush lawyers, like John Yoo, and that idea that the Bill of Rights is trumped by Executive war powers has also been the consistent claim of Obama lawyers such as Harold Koh, justifying even the targetted killing of Americans.

And that absurd view, that so long as they call it “war’ they can sidestep the Bill of Rights and act like Stalin, is shared by both Republicans (like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, and Rep. Peter King), and Democrats like Harry Reid (who tells us it’s been going on for seven years, so don’t worry about it).

Unless we the people purge out these oath breakers from BOTH parties, we will find ourselves in a nightmare dictatorship and we will have to fight to throw it off. Sweat now or bleed later. Purge them all.

Very, very interesting. No?

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* Of course we generally loathe libertarianism ’round here, for these reasons and more. It would be sheer folly, however, to dismiss them as allies on such vital issues as civil liberties or the Drug War. Consider: if Chris Hedges is right that we need mass protests to scare the hell out of America’s Owners—and I think he is—we must recognize that they are precariously reliant on a distracted and divided U.S. public. That’s how the game is rigged, so that Goldman Sachs always wins: we pretend to have meaningful elections and fight amongst ourselves while our common enemies plunder the Earth on an epic scale. Strange bedfellows coming together in common cause is both an extremely threatening state of affairs for the status quo, and absolutely necessary as a matter of math anyway. (Despite popular misconceptions, at best the Palace Army consists of a dismally small number of unarmed pacifists and one unconscionably lazy cat.) My own view is that if the revolution is peaceful—IF—some form of democratic socialism will ultimately prevail over the spectacular flameout of Free Market™ ideology. It’s that very failure that will have sparked the revolution in the first place.

“I Hereby Resign in Protest Effective Immediately”

Meet Brandon Toy. brandontoyHe works for US defense contractor General Dynamics as an Engineering Project Manager building Stryker armored fighting vehicles. Previously, Brandon served in the Michigan Army National Guard as a Multiple Launch Rocket System Fire Direction Specialist, Team Leader and Vehicle Commander. He was deployed as a military policeman to Baghdad, Iraq in 2004 – 2005.

This is all I know about him.

Well, that, and the fact that he wrote this letter.

__________

I hereby resign in protest effective immediately.

I have served the post-911 Military Industrial complex for 10 years, first as a soldier in Baghdad, and now as a defense contractor.

At the time of my enlistment, I believed in the cause. I was ignorant, naïve, and misled. The narrative, professed by the state, and echoed by the mainstream press, has proven false and criminal. We have become what I thought we were fighting against.

Recent revelations by fearless journalists of war crimes including counterinsurgency “dirty” wars, drone terrorism, the suspension of due process, torture, mass surveillance, and widespread regulatory capture have shed light on the true nature of the current US Government. I encourage you to read more about these topics at the links I have provided below.

Some will say that I am being irresponsible, impractical, and irrational. Others will insist that I am crazy. I have come to believe that the true insanity is doing nothing. As long as we sit in comfort, turning a blind eye to the injustices of the world, nothing will change. It is even worse to play an active part, protesting all along that I am not the true criminal.

I was only a foot soldier, and am now a low level clerk. However, I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.

Sincerely,

Brandon M. Toy
Stryker Engineering Project Management
General Dynamics Land Systems
Sterling Heights, Michigan

* * *

The crux of the NSA story in one phrase: ‘collect it all’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/15/crux-nsa-collect-it-all

How the NSA is still harvesting your online data
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/nsa-online-metadata-collection

Inside America’s Dirty Wars
http://www.nationinstitute.org/featuredwork/fellows/3260/inside_america%27s_dirty_wars/

Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/06/pentagon-iraqi-torture-centres-link

The Global Intelligence Files
http://wikileaks.org/the-gifiles.html

Leaked HBGary Documents Show Plan To Spread Wikileaks Propaganda For BofA… And ‘Attack’ Glenn Greenwald
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110209/22340513034/leaked-hbgary-documents-show-plan-to-spread-wikileaks-propaganda-bofa-attack-glenn-greenwald.shtml

Guantanamo Detainee Begs to Be Charged as Legal Limbo Worsens
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324069104578527012686080732.html

Collateral Murder
http://www.collateralmurder.com

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Stop by the Palace any time, sir. Drinks are on us.