We live in a culture in which it is utterly normal, to a degree that has sadly made it nearly banal, to hear multi-million dollar, best-selling authors and talk show hosts suggest that the nation is on the verge of total fascism, death panels for the elderly, door-to-door gun confiscation, and the reconquest of the American southwest by Latinos bent on ethnic war. In short, in a society where paranoia is the daily currency of mainstream commentators, and pseudo-schizophrenic ramblings are elevated to the level of persuasive argument, we ought not be surprised that such a tragedy as occurred on Saturday might happen. [...]
In a culture where Glenn Beck plays “Six Degrees of Chairman Mao” every night on his chalkboard, uncannily managing to convince his flock that even the most moderate of Democrats likely hums the Internationale to his or her children rather than regaling them with bedtime stories, we can truly say that paranoia has become not only the prelude to something deadly, but sadly a form of pedantry so everyday in its appearance that we write it off as entertainment, rather than the poison it truly is.
In a culture where political rallies attended by thousands feature prominent speakers who suggest the President might well be Satan in the flesh, and marchers who carry signs suggesting “Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama’s Ovens,” or that the President intends to put whites into slavery, nothing should surprise us anymore.
In a media environment where highly paid commentators can keep their jobs even as they insist that those who call for the shooting of government agents so as to stop a world government takeover are “beginning to have a case,” or that a national service initiative is just a run-up to the implementation of a literal stormtrooper corps like the Nazi SS, or that “multicultural people” are “destroying the culture of this country,” or that Latino migrants are an “invasive species,” that seeks to undermine the nation, or that the President is intentionally “destroying the economy” so as to pay white people back for slavery, or that, worse, he and other Democrats are vampires, the only solution for which is a “stake through the heart,” to feign shock at the acts of a Jared Loughner is a precious and naive conceit that we can no longer afford. [...]
In such a place as this, to claim that Americans may need to turn to “Second Amendment Remedies” for political change — as defeated Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle did in Nevada — or that Americans should be “armed and dangerous” to resist policies aimed at reducing climate change — as another Tea Party Republican, Michele Bachmann has — or that perhaps liberal politicians should be beaten to death with shovels — as Glenn Beck said about Congressman Charlie Rangel in 2001 — is to invite chaos. It is to invite murder, whether by loners like Loughner or someone else down the line. It is inevitable. To insist, as Congressman Boehner did, that health care reform is tantamount to “armageddon” — not merely a matter of philosophical difference but the literal end of the world — is to all but invite the unbalanced to start slaughtering the forces of presumptive evil.
If prolonged isolation is—as research and experience have confirmed for decades—so objectively horrifying, so intrinsically cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our own citizens to it than any other country in history has?
—Atul Gawande, “Hellhole“
Remember the bailouts? Well the government just made $12 billion from bailing out Citigroup:
Taxpayers scored a $12 billion bonus as the government washed its hands of one of its biggest bailouts, Citigroup.
The Treasury Department said Monday afternoon it planned to sell 2.4 billion Citi shares in an underwritten offering. Treasury said later in the evening that the offering was priced at $4.35 a share — giving the government a $12 billion profit on its $45 billion Citi bailout.
The government paid the equivalent of $3.25 a share for its stake in the No. 3 U.S. bank by assets. Counting stock sale proceeds, dividend payments and interest on bailout loans, the government got $57 billion in compensation for the Citi bailout, Treasury said.
The simple truth is that public sentiment in America is the reason that solitary confinement has exploded in this country, even as other Western nations have taken steps to reduce it. This is the dark side of American exceptionalism. With little concern or demurral, we have consigned tens of thousands of our own citizens to conditions that horrified our highest court a century ago. Our willingness to discard these standards for American prisoners made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America’s moral stature in the world. In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement—on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison, for example, that is a thirty-minute drive from my door.
—Atul Gawande, “Hellhole“
This is really sad. How can this be legal?
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.
Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.
As Cynical-C says, “Right side of the argument, wrong side of the sanity.”
WASHINGTON – A conservative Loudoun County lawmaker says controversial airport pat-downs by the Transportation Security Administration are part of a “wide-scale homosexual agenda.”
Eugene Delgaudio, a Republican representing Sterling on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, made the comments in a widely distributed e-mail sent in his capacity as president of the conservative nonprofit Public Advocate of the United States.
In the e-mail — reported by WUSA9 — Delgaudio also says the TSA’s non-discrimination hiring policy is “the federal employee’s version of the Gay Bill of Special rights.”
“That means the next TSA official that gives you an enhanced pat-down could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission,” he wrote.
Delgaudio confirmed the quote to WTOP.
The stupid is strong in this one.
“I’m still eating my cookie” — Brilliant cookie eating press defense combo!