Monday, May 18, 2009

Economics of Fear

Forest Butoh crawl
Originally uploaded by image-MILL
The NRA had a little gathering of some 50,000 members. They also had three acres of gun stuff, from videos and books to bullets and semi automatic weapons. The thrust of the piece I listened to on NPR was that in a time of economic hardship, guns are a boom industry. One speaker gave credit to President Obama for the increase in gun and ammo sales. Why? Why all of the gun sales, why credit Obama? In a word, fear.
Many gun owners are hunters and whatever one may feel about hunting, a person who goes out and kills for food and pleasure is using a gun for one of its legitimate, practical purposes. Lots of gun owners enjoy shooting at targets and developing the skill required to hit increasingly challenging points with a bullet. This seems to me to be a legitimate use, it is even an olympic sport-add skis and you have a wiggy winter olympic sport.
Still other people feel the need to have the deadly force of firearms to protect themselves, their homes and families. I can't quibble with that. Many parts of the U.S. are as dangerous as any place on earth.
And lots of folks just love the look and feel and power of guns so they collect them and admire them. You may not, but I think it is as reasonable as collecting rocks or thimbles or ancient steam engines. But what do most of these people have in common besides gun ownership? Paranoia about government taking the guns away. This is no great revelation, of course. It just struck me as so very sad as I listened to the story, that all these macho men and women(can you be a macho woman?) who think of themselves as tough, independent, stalwart, live in a neurotic cloud of fear so potent that it can fuel an industry. It must be a hell of a way to live.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Deportaion of Jan Demjanjuk

Barack H. Obama, April 16, 2009 --“In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

"Superior Orders is, in essence, the plea that a soldier not be held guilty for crimes committed during the course of war due to the orders of a superior officer. One of the most noted uses of this defense was by the accused in the Nuremberg Trials, such that it is also called the Nuremberg Defense. It was during these trials that the defense was no longer considered enough to escape punishment; merely enough to lessen punishment.[4]"
Nuremberg Principles
Principle I
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him. "I was following orders", is not an excuse.
Principle VI
b) War Crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, .... murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war ...
Demjanjuk is accused of being a guard, a military underling, at Sobibor prison. Those thugs conducting torture in OUR NAME were highly paid agents of the CIA. They were not under military orders. They did not face imprisonment or execution for refusing to torture, they merely had to quit theur lucrative jobs. They tortured for MONEY! The legal minds who justified torture faced no legal penalties for refusing to write the opinions, they only stood to lose their posh political careers. They justified torture for MONEY and CAREER advancement.
The ONLY people prosecuted for torture have been low-level military personnel. Like Demjanjuk.

Demjanjuk faced a firing squad for refusing to carry out orders, but we deported him. Demjanjuk and the rest of the guards and torturers and murderers who were cogs in the wheels of the shoa were following orders in good faith, no? Again, its a matter of scale. Our minions only tortured and killed a few hundred, but they ALL deserve to be tried-top to bottom.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Matter of Scale

Jan Demjanjuk has been deported to Germany to stand trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity. Specifically,he is being charged as an accessory to the murder of 29,000 people; Jews, Slavs, Romany, people with retardation and so on. The ones who didn't fit in the plan of the master race. Maybe he's guilty, maybe he's not. The fact is, the US government allowed a sick, feeble 89 year old man to be shipped to Germany to stand trial for alleged war crimes as a guard at Sobibor. Note that, a guard! He didn't write policy, he didn't give orders, he was about 22 years old. If he had refused to follow orders, at the very least, he would have been imprisoned, at worst, executed. Is he innocent because of these factors? No. Should he stand trial? Yes. Is he guilty? The trial will determine that.
The incredible hypocrisy of the United States of America has rarely been more evident than in this case. Demjanjuk is denying his role as a guard at Sobibor, where at the very worst, he was a low-level scum bag. Dick Cheney has been traveling the country BOASTING about the torture and war crimes he and his vile crew committed in OUR FUCKING NAME! And he, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, et al, have been assured by Obama and company that, yea though they wallowed in the valley of evil, they need fear no repercussion. What a country. Vote for change, vote for America the phony.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Grease Virgin

I was reading about a supposed likeness in a grease stain of the Virgin of Guadalupe icon over at which "appeared" on a griddle in CA. The piece includes a great photo of two Mexican wrestlers in masks and costumes studying the griddle. A couple of other bloggers have written about it with many scathing comments being proferred by readers. I was pretty amused, but I really try to with hold judgement on such matters. Then I read some commentary on hate crimes over at The Field Negro and Field included extensive quotes in opposition to hatecrimes legislation from, yep, you guessed it, so-called Christian writers. Finally, I came across a poll that finds that young Americans who claim Christianity as their faith has declined substantially in the past twenty years.

People who find icons in cheese sandwiches are an easy target for mockery, bigots spewing in the name of religion make it easy to villify faith of that sort, and of course the history of religious wars, persecutions and the viciousness of theocracies makes it imperative that reasonable people remain wary of fanaticism. But in an era of wild-eyed fundamentalists, murderous jihadists, and all stripe of immoderate, reason-mangling, hate mongering, harbingers of apocalyptic hate, isn't it time for charity, kindness and even sympathy (if you can't work up a little empathy) for those poor folk who desperately seek hope, even if grease stain madonnas are not to our spirtual taste?