Apparently it’s fine for us to torture in the name of freedom

Via Greenwald, we find Juan Cole highlighting the ludicrous double standards that continue to be applied to the US Government when it comes to lofty notions of freedom and human rights. We praise the people of Tunisia for rising up against a dictator (whom we and our French allies kept in power for decades), and single out their courage to do the right thing. And, yet, at the same time, we’re mirroring every transgression of the Tunisian dictatorship as Bradley Manning is tortured because he blew the whistle on American violations on the entire code of civility. Note, too, that Manning may indirectly have facilitated the uprising in Tunisia by leaking a State Dept. memo highlighting the kleptocratic rule in Tunisia. Juan Cole points out:

If an American citizen, convicted of no crime and innocent until proven guilty, can be held under such conditions arbitrarily for half a year, essentially softened up and tortured as a means of extracting information from him, then the Republic is in extreme danger. Indeed, it may be that John Yoo, Karl Rove, Richard Bruce Cheney, and George W. Bush are already winning in their war on civil liberties in favor of a monarchical national security state.

Yep. It’s like when Hillary Clinton lectures the Chinese about how awful, absolutely awful it is that they censor their press — and then turns around and sics her goons on Julian Assange for disseminating the truth about her duplicity. Doctrine seems to remain: it is always bad when our enemies do bad things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it them to those we perceive as our enemies.

Papers, Please…

papers-pleaseStumbled across this really well-written piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education on the creeping police state as it continues to play out under the guise of “Border Patrol” — even hundreds of miles from the actual border, in this case with Canada. Example after example highlights how the bloated, inept, and vastly overfunded Dept. of Homeland Security with its many tentacles strives to justify its existence by arbitrarily questioning and arresting foreign students, researchers, and pretty much anybody they care to, with no recourse for those they inconvenience and harass.

This bit had me laughing out loud:

The operations officer at the Swanton, Vt., sector office, Mark Henry, said it didn’t set up highway checkpoints to use excessive manpower. “We set them up based on intelligence,” he said. “Naturally our first concern is with terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, but we’re an all-threats agency, so it can be related to narcotics trafficking and all kinds of law enforcement.”

Riight, Mr. Henry. So basically you’re saying you have a carte blanche and unlimited resources to do whatever you want in the way of police stating, as long as you vaguely associate it with some nebulous “threat” that can be anything at all? Nice work if you can get it. As a Green Card holder I’m forever worried about the day when some overly enthusiastic thug with a badge decides he just doesn’t care that my papers are in order and feels that I should help him meet his “enforcement” quota.

Ugly times, ugly.


Upper Valley Subway — How Cool Would This Be?

upper_valley_subwaytnSomeone had too much fun with Illustrator and cooked up this awesome little graphic (click it to big it). It’s only really fun if you’re from around here and can fully appreciate the extravagant notion of a subway in our neck of the woods. But, hey, we have the free and wonderful Advanced Transit bus system, which in and of itself is head and shoulders above public transport in most places with our population base…