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True Blue Door

True Blue Door's Journal
True Blue Door's Journal
December 14, 2014

Remember Alan Grayson's first term, when he spent every day being a liberal firebrand?

We loved him. We just didn't do what was necessary to keep him in his seat - he lost.

He came back, but now he's...how should I put this...quieter.

We don't support the people who support us - at least not in the proportion they support us.

We don't reward fearless liberalism to the extent the other side punishes it.

Change that, and we change everything.

December 13, 2014

How to get the torturers.

It needs to be said and understood that no country - not one, not ever - has managed to domestically prosecute crimes committed as a matter of policy by its own government and military against foreign nationals.

There are a few examples of overthrown regimes being prosecuted for crimes against their own people in civil wars or internal genocides, and one of a defeated nation (Germany, specifically) continuing to build on prosecutions begun by an occupying foreign army. But no surviving state - neither overthrown domestically nor destroyed and occupied in war - has ever undertaken a general prosecution of former high officials, military commanders, and intelligence leaders who committed crimes against foreigners.

So what we are seeking to do by holding the Bush regime, the Pentagon, and CIA figures accountable for committing torture and murder against terrorism suspects is uncharted territory, both for the United States and for the world. That's not a reason to balk, but acknowledging it does separate the serious from the blowhards.

Now, to begin, we have to ask a question: What's the holdup? Why have these prosecutions never happened, and why are they not happening now? The answer is simply that there are thousands of bureaucratic, diplomatic, military, and intelligence accomplices to these crimes who don't particularly want their role revealed, and would be able to create chaos within their respective institutions if they felt threatened. There are thousands of officials in foreign governments who don't want their roles revealed, and can apply diplomatic pressure to see that they aren't, with considerably damaging consequences to diplomatic relations if they feel threatened.

And all of them ripple outward: The damage those people can do causes political leaders to weigh the cost against what they might regard as the largely abstract or theoretical reward of prosecuting, and find the cost/benefit analysis wanting. They're wrong if they think that, but their view is predictable. To put it bluntly, justice is blocked by the fact that entire institutions are guilty, and those institutions are indispensable in the estimation of both the government and the general public. So to accomplish "sufficient justice," the truly guilty have to be separated from the merely corrupt, the henchmen from the conspirators, and priority choices made.

The vast majority of people who would objectively be accomplice to crimes will have to be let off, and not even in the sense of being given deals - in the more absolute sense that they will need guarantees their names will never even be mentioned. In fact, most likely all accomplices will have to be given such guarantees, and only the most important of the central figures pursued. But that introduces a wrinkle: How do you establish the facts of a crime if accomplices are not mentioned? The answer is "With difficulty." Too bad - way it goes.

Activists have been ineffectually demanding prosecution for a decade because no one is playing the political inside game to make it feasible. You have to politically isolate the central actors, and deprive them of the webs of interest that protect them. You have to convince CIA agents who routinely commit other forms of crime "for their country" (in their minds) that this would not mean open season on them and their operations. That's easy enough, but it gets more painful when you realize we have to convince those peripherally involved in the torture - even knowingly so - that they too would be kept out of it.

And then you have to add the stick to the carrot, which has been just as absent: Somehow make it true, or at least plausible, that if they still refuse to cooperate and give us the central figures as sacrifices for their continued impunity, they will all be targeted and brought down. That will require convincing them that we can deliver a political environment willing and able to send the CIA and Pentagon into years of turmoil if they continue wielding their influence to protect the torturers: Difficult, given our continued failures to keep or take back Congress, but not impossible.

Achieve that, and they will deliver prosecutions on a silver platter. They have no compunction about offering up "sacrificial lambs" for the greater good of the institution when politics demands it, so they must be convinced that this is such a situation.

These are all general thoughts, but the details are infinitely more complex.

The inside game has to begin humbly, with at least one Senator and one person in the Justice Department. The most likely Senator is Al Franken, since he's on the Judiciary Committee, but he might be too obvious since the effort has to be under the radar for a considerable amount of time - it's a question worth exploring further. The DOJ element has to be someone with authority but little spot-light on them. Each of them, and each other contact developed for the effort, needs to have a specific purpose that you evolve as part of a larger plan.

Basically the function of the network that's built for this purpose has to be subtle, confidential dialog with people inside the institutions involved, to convince them of what they need to be convinced of - as mentioned above. To begin, find a mid-level criminal in the torture conspiracy whose institutional connection is as simple as possible: Who can only call on the loyalty of one or a few other people, and no one of significance. Clandestinely cut those ties one by one, isolating this person by putting them out of favor and making clear that there would be costs to protecting them.

Keep the objectives of the game hidden as long as possible while you do the same for larger and larger characters, pruning institutional networks to isolate targeted operatives and officials.

Then you convince whoever you've got at the Justice Department to indict the easiest targets on the list, without the permission of the Attorney General (whoever it is at that point) if necessary. Since you've hopefully neutralized a lot of the institutional opposition to prosecutions, specifically for these lower-level figures, the Attorney General might at that point just go along with it even if they aren't necessarily favorable toward it. The only other alternative would be firing the subordinates responsible and torpedoing the cases, but that would destroy their own career and make them historically infamous. So most likely you get those cases.

Unfortunately, the integrity of the cases would be under constant attack by hostile elements in the DOJ trying to sabotage the prosecution and also create legal pretexts for appeal. Keeping those people away and making the proceedings air-tight at every single stage would be extremely difficult, and would fail in some instances. There's nothing for it but to try.

Now, you can't move quickly after that. You just have to pursue these "easy" (i.e., extremely hard but not quite as cosmically fucked as the topmost) cases, and build up some kind of bulwark of convictions and facts. As that develops, over many years, then you can use the same strategies to pursue a higher slate of criminals. And then another. Some day you'll be ready, both politically and judicially, to go after the key figures of the Bush White House. It might be sooner than you think, or it might be decades. But if it's truly your objective, then you pursue it as long as it takes.

There are undoubtedly already legal professionals committed to pursuing this, and activists committed to it, and a few political leaders committed to it, but there is currently no strategic inside game to make it happen. Someone has to clear the way for these legal mechanisms to function by removing the institutional motives to block it. People have to team up and work in the toxic air of cynical political gaming to make it happen.

December 12, 2014

If you believe Obama is protecting torturers, then you're advocating his impeachment.

If you believe that and aren't advocating his impeachment, then you are protecting torturers by your own (tortured) logic.

So, when do you folks plan on meeting with the Tea Party to plan your impeachment strategy?

You've already gone halfway there by distracting the discussion away from torture and its implications in favor of spamming one-liner smears on Barack Obama, so why not go the whole way round? Straight up join the torturers in their Teahad against the President.

Get as far away as possible from bringing the torturers to justice - disrupt and distract every possible discussion that might lead to greater unity and cooperation in pursuing them, and instead do their bidding.

I'm sure there have been tons of instances where the Justice Department under prior administrations has prosecuted CIA agents and Pentagon commanders for crimes committed by top-level policy...I just can't find any them anywhere because that darn Obama must have censored the history.

But trust your gut rather than, you know, the facts. Facts are for libruls.

December 10, 2014

Forgive me if I roll my eyes at your precious outrage about torture.

My anger about this has been a long-smoldering thing, from the moment I could see from the attitude and language of the Bush regime after 9/11 that the "War on Terror" was a 2-front war with the Republican Party being one of the two implacable enemies this country faced. That came into perfect focus with the Iraq War propaganda/ domestic terror campaign, but had been a long time coming - Bush and his kind made no secret of their intentions. Watching those events unfold, the Big Lies and horrific atrocities under the flag and in the institutions of the United States was like watching a bunch of spiders be born from the corpse of your own mother.

While this was happening, what were we doing? What was anyone doing? We acted as if expressing our opinions was an act of courage, thus excusing the complete lack of follow-through on any of it. We held no one accountable, least of all ourselves. Maybe if the GOP had lived up to their constant threats to start rounding up political prisoners and crushing those who spoke against them, we would have done something. But they didn't really have to, did they: We didn't stand in their way at all. There was always some excuse, some ego-salvaging rationalization for why it was impossible, or why America was a conservative country and didn't deserve our sacred interference in its supposedly chosen course of destruction.

And the cycle repeats every time the subject comes up again: Always someone has to bash America to excuse their own refusal to sacrifice anything to change it, like a negligent parent who degrades their children as worthless to excuse never doing anything for them. Always it's someone else's fault that you've spent 95% of the last decade of political activism talking about other issues, and treat this one as if it were just like any other - torture and net neutrality, what's the difference? I'm angry when I think about torture, and angry when I think about cable companies screwing me out of my money, so I guess I'll just split the difference. Oh, but then there's fracking, and that makes me angry too. Say, what's the new flavor special at The Coffee Bean tonight? Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, I was talking about how much Obama really failed us when it comes to alpaca breeding regulations.

It's the media's fault for not supplementing your attention span with consistent coverage; politicians' fault for caring as little in principle as you do in practice; it's Obama's fault for not doing whatever hare-brained scheme you think is in a President's legal or even practical power because you were asleep the day they talked about that in Civics; it's Democratic Senators and Congressmen's fault that you failed to sustain their legislative majorities, meaning that we've been denied reports like this from the House since 2011, and will get no more whatsoever when the GOP takes the Senate in 2015.

And since we never do anything about any of it, we have to act perpetually shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling in this establishment! Every time the issue comes up, we pretend to have not known before. Either this is a case of Memento-like anterograde mass-amnesia, or a lot of people just have to rationalize to themselves why they never do anything about it.

I know why I don't do anything about it: Because I don't trust the rest of you to help me (or myself to help you, for that matter). And that's why politicians won't do anything about it either. Because you'll forget about the subject five minutes from now, along with both the contributions and disgraces of political figures. Every liberal who truly dedicates themselves to anything is constantly betrayed by your shallowness, and then you ask in surreal bafflement why these issues fail to advance.

But no one who's actually in government has this problem - they don't forget their friends and enemies. The CIA doesn't, the Pentagon doesn't, the GOP doesn't, and even the Democratic Party leadership doesn't, which is why they ignore you - because you are deliberately inconsequential. Because being consequential is too much responsibility. So many of them seem to pal around with Republicans because a consistent enemy is easier to work with than a fickle friend with amnesia obsessed with fault-finding in everyone who tries to serve them.

The contractors who profit from crimes like these don't forget their friends or their enemies. Nor do the Middle Eastern authoritarian states complicit in these crimes, the "allies" who participated or enabled them, or the bureaucratic trolls burrowed into federal and international institutions from the Bush regime. None of these people forget, but you do. They reward their friends, you punish your friends with moving goalposts and selective amnesia. They punish enemies, you reward your enemies with feeble opposition that makes them look strong and lets them claim you are not a viable alternative to them.

This is what you do - what we do. We grow our own villains like garden vegetables, and then take a big bite to savor the taste of outrage. Because just being rational and responsible enough to simply defeat them wouldn't be fun enough, we have to die on the cross every six months in our own imaginations.

Talk about your plans to obtain justice. Talk about ideas that might work where others have failed. Talk about how you intend to mobilize the amoral and corrupt to achieve this, because nothing ever happens unless they find it advantageous. But if you plan to belittle the American people, the President, or Democrats, or piss and moan about fate, save it for the Rand Paul rally. And if you just want to talk about how shocked and angry you are that the Bush regime was evil, email those sentiments to yourself in 2001-2005 when they might have mattered and just focus now on the practicalities of achieving justice in a meaningful timeframe.

December 9, 2014

A Cancervatives' Guide to Problem-solving

Problem: I'm cold.
Solution: Light yourself on fire.

Problem: I have two hungry kids.
Solution: Feed one to the other.

Problem: My car uses twice as much gas as others.
Solution: Make your wife push it half way. Mush! Mush!

Problem: I lost my job.
Solution: Get good at giving them. It's a recession-proof industry.

Problem: My house got robbed.
Solution: Rob your neighbors and call it a crime wave.

Problem: Someone ran over my dog.
Solution: Keep them forever in your heart, in the form of cholesterol. Don't skimp on the paprika.

Problem: Global warming.
Solution: Deny that Earth is a globe.

Problem: Human rights abuses.
Solution: Demand that all species be treated equally bad.

Problem: I'm fat.
Solution: Call women fat so they think you're in their league.

Problem: Racism.
Solution: Only allow one race in America so it never comes up.

December 3, 2014

Can't have "law and order" if the Police continually violate them.

While I'm sure the vast majority of police work is a mystery to me, no apologist can hide from a simple bit of common sense:

The first thing a police officer must do is obey the law, and what we see across America - while not actually a new thing - is that people are realizing more and more how little the law means to so-called "law-enforcement officers."

They behave as if the authority vested in them as a public trust to enforce the law were akin to a personal title to arbitrary power. Clearly that is not the case.

When you wield powerful weapons against a peaceful group of citizens expressing their views, you are the criminal and disorderly element that needs to be arrested.

When you physically attack people are not engaging in violence, going so far as to injure or even kill them, you are a rioter, and assaulter, if it goes far enough, a murderer.

The law is not on the side of the police when they behave this way. If the police will not act with authority, then the public must restore order against out-of-control rogue police.

December 2, 2014

A lame joke about Republican contrarianism.

The President makes a speech proposing enhanced federal funding for bridge repair.

Congressional Republicans, who had expressed support for the move under the President's Republican predecessor, meet and decide they must change course and stand against it.

The President issues a press release opposing a particular military base closure because of the economic impact.

Congressional Republicans who had earlier opposed the closure for militaristic reasons, meet and decide they must change course and support the closure to in order to oppose the President.

So then the President makes an anti-drug speech against smoking PCP.

Asked by a reporter for the GOP reaction, John Boehner says "We...rrraaaaaddddd......gggddadfasdfjadf.....we got...we got it coverrrreeeeeeddddd...adffdfdffdfd...agggg..."

December 1, 2014

Too early to advocate for Presidential primary candidates: Instead, say what you need from them.

I've noticed some threads that are clearly advocating for specific presidential primary candidates. It's too early for that. Stop it.

Hold back and instead tell the potentials what you need to see from them.

For my part, I need to see at least one of the following:

1. A piece of legislation opposed by most Republicans passed in one federal legislative body, even if it doesn't pass the other.
2. A major Republican leader sunk to well-deserved disgrace due to the prospect's efforts.
3. A significant Obama nominee passed by the Senate despite Republican obstruction due to the prospect's efforts.

This is not a comprehensive list of possible things a candidate could do, but in the absence of any, we lack either basis or confidence.

If you would be President, fly your flag over a major accomplishment or the wreckage of a Republican's political career. Make your bones, not just your arguments. This is real, not a high school debate class.

December 1, 2014

"Wanderers": A beautiful short film set to a Carl Sagan monologue


From what I know of the various worlds of our solar system, the conceptual views in the short are completely realistic - and some of them are directly based on actual probe photographs.

This isn't fantasy, folks. Your descendents will live in these places, know them as home, fight for them against each other, discover others as refuges and new opportunities, as resorts and prisons, as job sites and places of exile, cities and suburbs (and backwaters). They will arbitrarily decide that some areas in these places are holy and others cursed. They will pillage and mar the faces of their worlds, then regret it and try to restore them in limited preserves. They will bring light to the dark, water to the desert, air to the void, and the whole life of Earth will give birth to world-children in kaleidoscopic fragments across the solar system...and beyond.
November 21, 2014

I can't help it, I'm a beer snob. Anyone else have this problem?

It started innocently enough - trying a nice craft beer here and there - but I could still easily hang with tap stuff, Guinness etc.

But then I ran into a brew so damn good it ruined me. I just can't drink normal beer now. It tastes like piss now. So now I'm doomed to only being able to stomach beer that costs twice as much as normal beer.

Anyone else have this particular First World Problem?

Profile Information

Name: Brian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:48 PM
Number of posts: 2,969

About True Blue Door

Primary issue interests: Science, technology, history, infrastructure, restoring the public sector, and promoting a fair, honorable, optimistic, and inquisitive society. Personal interests: Science fiction (mainly literature, but also films and TV), pop culture, and humor.
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