A Profound Cultural Illness

Representatives of the government torture innocent citizens into unconsciousness, on camera, in United States courtrooms with tasers. They use them on prisoners and on motorists and on political protesters and bicycle riders, on mentally ill and handicapped people and on children. And it’s happening with nary a peep of protest.

America’s torture problem is much bigger than Gitmo or the CIA or the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The government is torturing people every day and killing some of them. Then videos of the torture wind up on Youtube where sadists laugh and jeer at the victims. It’s the sign of profound cultural illness.

-Digby, guest blogging for Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com

I read everything Digby posts on Hullabaloo, but her philippics on the rising abuse and misuse of tasers always hit me especially hard. Go read this entire piece at Salon. I can’t guarantee it won’t turn your stomach—in fact, I hope it does—but it’s essential reading for anyone who has even the slightest concern about the creeping authoritarian state.

posted 8/11/09 at 10:13am to Our Doomed Planet, Politics, The stupid, it burns · 0 replies · permalink

Fighting off the Randroids

Please indulge me for a brief moment while I temporarily shed my normal costume of snark and mount my rhetorical high horse to make a statement that I am very tired of making, yet one that seems to be necessary once again.


Atlas Shrugged is a novel, and a tedious one at that. It is tortured fiction, and nothing more. It is not an effective societal blueprint for pouty glibertarians who are still angry that their mommies never let them stay out past their curfew, they didn’t get the toy they really really wanted for their 12th birthday, and their fraternity of choice didn’t let them into the pledge class freshman year.

Grow. The fuck. Up.

Thank you. Now, back to the snark.

posted 5/30/09 at 9:42am to Books, Our Doomed Planet, Politics, The stupid, it burns · 0 replies · permalink

Proposition Hate

I could go on, but it’s really just a big pile of lukewarm excuses. What we really owe you, the justifiably disappointed progressives and liberals and gay rights orgs of the world — but also you over in the salivating right-wing nutball Limbaugh/Glenn Beck homophobe core, all you gun-hoardin’ sodomy-fearin’ paranoids who adore California for our endless supply of Things You Do Not Understand and Therefore Must Fear and Despise Even as You Secretly Desire to Lick Them All For a Month — is a sincere apology. We let you down. All of you.

Fear not, however. We shall regroup. We shall try again. In fact, we already are. Know this for certain: We aren’t the kind of state to let a perfect opportunity to pinch the lazy ass of the human experiment slip by for long.

The always awesome Mark Morford, from Apologies from California in today’s SFGate.

posted 5/29/09 at 8:06am to Our Doomed Planet, Politics · 0 replies · permalink

Intellectual infrastructure

On his DotEarth blog at the NYT, Andrew Revkin talks about the need to rebuild the nation’s intellectual infrastructure as part of the growing call to center an economic revival around so-called “green jobs”.

Rebuilding the actual physical infrastructure is all well and good, he argues, before going on to declare that so far there is very little public talk about the massive spending on non-defense research and development that would be required to make such a “green” economic revival possible.

His points all make complete sense; yes, money alone will not help the technical problems and yes, we need to reestablish science as a pillar of our educational system.

Yet with many research universities facing massive devaluations of their endowments and higher education becoming less affordable (if not impossible) for even many upper-middle-class families, I wonder if there will be enough properly educated domestic brainpower to even conduct the amount of R&D Revkin calls for.

At the risk of being called a socialist1, I don’t see any reason why part of an economic recovery plan can’t include federal grants for college students who pursue science degrees related to the green technologies being tapped as the key to an economic turnaround. That’s not to say that other fields aren’t as important, but if we’re collectively agreeing that we’re fundamentally behind in R&D in the green science we’re depending on to pull us out of recession, shouldn’t we be enabling the intellectual infrastructure by actually getting students into research programs?

  1. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
posted 12/11/08 at 11:36am to Our Doomed Planet, Politics, Science! · 1 reply · permalink

To action

Everyone is aware of the difficult and menacing situation in which human society — shrunk into one community with a common fate — now finds itself, but only a few act accordingly. Most people go on living their every-day life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghostly tragi-comedy which is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world. But on that stage, on which the actors under the floodlights play their ordained parts, our fate of tomorrow, life or death of the nations, is being decided.

Those words are as true today as when Albert Einstein wrote them in 1950.

Have you called your member of congress or senator about the criminal $700B Wall Street bailout plan?

Have you taken any steps to protect what’s left of your dwindling civil rights?

Have you considered what will happen when the state owns and controls the industry you work in?

Have you had honest and open discussions within your family about what your future holds, and how you’re preparing for it?

Have you given thought to how else we could be spending the $12B per month that we’re currently throwing at the Iraq occupation1?

I could go on. But I think you get the idea. Am I being wee bit histrionic? Sure. And I know you don’t come here to read this sort of thing2. But I’m getting so weary of the lack of outrage around me. Things are going from bad to worse on a daily basis, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a voice.

Look, I’m not saying we all have to be activists; we have jobs and families and more responsibilities than we can manage as it is. And I’m not saying that we all need to stop what we’re doing and spend our time in a sky-is-falling mood; we all need our hobbies and distractions to keep us entertained and healthy and creative. But please, think of just one thing that is of great concern to you right now, and do something about it. Civil rights, energy independence, corporate welfare, Iraq or Afghanistan, breast cancer, autism, whatever. Make a phone call. Send a fax. Sign a petition. Hell, just make a $5 online donation to a local progressive candidate or a cause that’s meaningful to you. But do something. Today.

(I now return you to ddc’s usual nerdery and snark. Thanks for indulging me.)

[ 10:55am – 4th paragraph edited slightly for clarity ]
  1. You remember Iraq, right? That little war we won in 2003? And again in 2005? And again this year? Even though we’re still there? Remember?
  2. Knowing my audience, you probably already read the same blogs I do, and get this info already.
posted 9/23/08 at 10:18am to Our Doomed Planet, Politics · 2 replies · permalink