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July 25, 2005

I confess I'm mystified...

There are some places you expect to find a lot of police brutality. Brazil, for example, where the police are often more feared and hated than the criminals--indeed, often more criminal than the criminals. You expect such things in the slums of Rio, where the Third World encroaches around the fringes of the First. Until recently, though, London wasn't one of them.

Yes, I said London. Where most police officers don't carry service revolvers and seldom even need to use their nightsticks. Until recently, London was a truly first-rate First World city, and the British bobbies were the gold standard of good police conduct: civil, helpful, exceptionally kind. And all the same effective at their job. Which was to keep a peaceful, civilized city eminently so...so much so, in fact, that exiles from Brazil's hated military dictatorship of over 20 years often took refuge in London. One, the great Caetano Veloso, even wrote a song praising the peacefulness of it...

Now, thanks to the shooting of an innocent man--a Brazilian--all that has changed. We see that the gold standard has feet of the same Third World clay as any brutal raider of the suburbs of Rio.

The police in London have committed the inexcusable, but there are all too many who are willing to excuse it in the name of the ill-named and even more ill-conceived War on Terror--or, as I prefer to call it, because it's much more accurate to do so, the War on Terra. What they have done has not only failed to solve this crime, it has deepened the already festering social tensions around the world that, left unresolved, can so easily lead to violence.

If plainclothes officers have carte blanche to shoot and kill anyone they even only suspect of being a terrorist--with no proof--what's to save even the most law-abiding citizen's hide?

I don't have a criminal record; not even so much as a jaywalking ticket (I don't drive), and I guess I can still thank my lucky stars that Canada isn't London, but I'm frankly scared shitless over this. Hell, who wouldn't be? Only a smug, arrogant fool, the kind who is likely to blow this off as just a necessary or at least unavoidable bit of collateral damage in the War on Terra!

And the apologies we've seen so far--from Prime Minister Tony Blair, from London Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone, and Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair (no relation to the PM), have all been lame and utterly inadequate. No taking responsibility at all; they've all been too happy to shove this into the terrorists' shoes. Where is the accountability?

Meanwhile, the shoot-to-kill policy that resulted in the death of Jean Charles Menezes remains. The police need to be able to get in a head shot at anyone they suspect of being a suicide bomber, the excuse-makers say, tripping over themselves to justify the unjust. Exactly how many times that's worked elsewhere, or how many disasters it's prevented, they can't tell you. Probably because that policy is questionable at best, and in practice, like so much else in the War on Terra, it's proven a dismal failure. The same Londoners who are not afraid of terrorists, could well have something to fear when it comes to their city's (former) "finest", whose job is to stop the terrorists, not become them. It's a helluva comedown, wouldn't you say?

Meanwhile, as a gentle reminder that First World and first-rate cities also suffer from police brutality (which only rends the fabric of society, and never reinforces it), I'll give you a little musical interlude here, courtesy of the Pukka Orchestra:


I've got a bone to pick with you,
not so friendly boys in blue;
you come out of the station
and into the street--
everybody beats a hasty retreat.

Well it was late one Friday,
I'm a little bit wrecked:
you're on your way to serve and protect.
You buzz out of a cruiser
like bees from a hive,
and ask me if I want to
go for a drive...

Go for a drive?!

That's why I'm riding on
the Cherry Beach Express;
my ribs are broken
and my face is in a mess...
and I made all my statements
under duress!

52 Division
handcuffed to a chair--
I'm joining the lineup
to fall down the stairs.
I tell you I'm innocent;
I try to explain...
"We're just making sure
you don't do it again!"

Do what again?!

"That's why you're riding on
the Cherry Beach Express--
your ribs are broken
and your face is in a mess
and we strongly suggest you confess!"

Stop! I confess!

I confess I'm mystified
by the way you're occupied;
I confess I'm horrified--
why are you so terrified?
Does the pain get any less
if I confess?

52 Division
handcuffed to a chair--
I'm joining the lineup
to fall down the stairs.
I tell you I'm innocent;
I try to explain...
"We're just making sure

you don't do it again!"

That's why I'm riding on
the Cherry Beach Express;
my ribs are broken
and my face is in a mess...

And I never dreamed it would be like this;
I never dreamed it would be like this...


I confess I'm mystified by all of this too--particularly the stubborn insistence, against all evidence to the contrary, that the War on Terra is anything but a flat failure. That it is anything but the sort of thing you'd expect of a Third-World military dictator. That it is anything but back-door fascism.

I never dreamed it would be like this, either.

July 9, 2005

I have zero sympathy

...for Judith Miller. And I'm far from alone in this; read the letters from Salon.com's readers.

They sure sound pissy, don't they?

Well they might. I would be too, if I were an American reading of how the Fourth Estate betrayed my country and its trust so egregiously.

It's bad enough that Miller is the hack responsible for peddling BushCo's lies about Saddam's nonexistent WMD in the New York Times. Now she's been found guilty of sheltering a criminal, someone who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to the media. Plame, a NOC (non-official cover) agent, is the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had the audacity to tell the truth as uncovered by his own investigation: that Saddam Hussein did NOT buy yellowcake uranium from Niger, nor did he have a nuclear weapons program in place to use it. Since Plame had no official ties to the government (hence the NOC designation), she was particularly vulnerable to potential assassins. Had she been killed as a result of her blown cover, the person who blew it would be as responsible for her murder as the killer himself. Maybe more so, since to knowingly permit a murder is tantamount to ordering one.

So Judith Miller, in knowingly peddling a false WMD story, is not only a liar herself; in refusing to reveal who leaked Valerie Plame's identity to her (and five others), she's covering the ass of someone who wanted Valerie Plame dead as revenge for her husband's honesty. BushCo's lies are lethal to anyone who stands in their way, it seems. But they can't shield Ahmed Chalabi's pet stenographer from prison, so thank Nemesis for small mercies.

Still, don't look for any big displays of integrity on Miller's part now. According to CBS's Jim Stewart, Miller has said, "I won't testify. The risks are too great. The government is too powerful."

Without testifying, still, she's let it pretty much slip who the evil leaker was. It's clearly the power behind the Dimwitted Dauphin's throne. Can you say TURDBLOSSOM?

I knew you could.

It doesn't do for any reporter to be so tight with a criminal administration that she's willing to cover for it. This is not about Miller's free speech rights, but about her role in a criminal conspiracy. A source who's guilty of a crime doesn't deserve to be kept confidential by any reporter. That's a serious breach of journalistic ethics--right up there with knowingly filing false news. It's one thing to guard a whistleblower's identity, and quite another to cover for a callous would-be murder conspirator.

So I shed no tears for Judith Miller. She gives journalists a bad name. They're already hurting as it is, seeing how big corporate owners are hamstringing them at every step, and right-wing blogtards are dogging them in the hopes of pulling another "Rathergate". They don't need the likes of her to rob them further of credibility.

Book 'er, Dano. And don't be too gentle with the 'cuffs.

July 5, 2005

Tom Cruise is WHAT?

I'm glad someone else said it. I can't afford the lawsuits.

But still, I heartily concur.