Categories
Barack Obama Health care Politics The Bush Legacy The Opinionsphere

Gog et Magog, Hypomania in the White House, Reuters!, The Most Interesting Man in the World, and the NRLC

1. Gog and Magog. James A. Haught breaks some news – at least in American papers – explaining one line of “reasoning” George W. Bush attempted to use to convince Jacques Chirac to support the invasion of Iraq:

Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East… The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled… This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.

Chirac was so confused by this reasoning that he actually called in a Swiss theologian to explain. Just last week, Chirac confirmed this in an extended interview in France.

2. Hypomania in the White House. John Gartner for Psychology Today profiles Rahm Emanuel and the Emanuel family that shaped him. He describes Emanuel as hypomanic – which he stresses is not a psychological disorder, but a condition. Some of the more interesting tidbits:

Emanuel says f*ck more frequently than “if, and, or but,” insists political scientist Larry Sabato. Obama himself regularly jokes about Emanuel’s profanity: “For Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.”

Gartner also discusses how Emanuel’s family shaped him:

Stuck with each other, the brothers created their own subculture—unlike most gifted high-energy kids, who must deal with the confusing feelings that come with being different. Like the X-Men at the Mutant Academy, the brothers felt most normal in one another’s presence, where they could be themselves—with a vengeance.

The brotherhood may have been instrumental in curbing another hallmark of hypomania. If you’re hypomanic and gifted, you always have the feeling of being the smartest guy in the room. But if you have two other guys just as smart and aggressive in the room who say, “That’s a stupid idea” and start to pound you, it’ll knock some of the grandiosity out of you.

And this:

While Rahm has called the verbal combat that took place there “gladiatorial,” Zeke described it to me as more of a Talmudic debate—the Jewish tradition of argument where one’s opponent is viewed as an ally in the search for truth. “It’s a sign of love to take someone’s view seriously,” says Zeke, who has fostered at NIH a style modeled directly on the Emanuel dinner table; he calls it “combative collegiality.”

3. Reuters! Reuters believes in a link economy. Suck on that AP.

4. The Most Interesting Man in the World. I was going to link to an article at AdAge by Jeremy Mullman on Dos Equis’s spectacularly successfuly “Most Interesting Man” campaign – but as the article went viral, AdAge has apparently attempted to limit its distribution and now placed it behind a firewall. Google does have a cached version here. For now. It’s an interesting story of how the ad campaign broke all of the rules of beer advertising – and led Dos Equis to buck the trend of declining imported beer sales and actually notch a double digit rise.

5. The NLRC: Not about abortion any more. William Saletan explains why certain pro-life Democrats are having their loyalty questioned by the National Right to Life Committee despite their unchanged anti-abortion stance:

In 2007, Ryan began to flunk the scorecard because the scorecard was no longer primarily about abortion. It wasn’t Ryan who changed. It was NRLC.

[Image by me.]

Categories
Law National Security The Bush Legacy The War on Terrorism

Congressman Pete King Wants Club Med Investigated For Human Rights Violations Just Like Guantanamo

[digg-reddit-me]He must have had a bad experience with Club Med. 

Military.com reports that:

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who led a group of congressmen to Guantanamo, told the New York Post the facility was like a Club Med for terrorists.

Club Med? The most reasonable explanation is that Congressman Pete King (my congressman and likely 2010 Republican Senate candidate) was treated very badly at this resort chain, and I’ve contacted Club Med inquiring about this. If Pete King is saying that Club Med is like Guantanamo, he is apparently alleging that they have treated their guests similar to how the prisoners at Guantanamo were treated. So, what types of things happen at Club Med, according to Pete King? Here’s a few examples:

Captives at Guantánamo Bay were chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor for 18 hours or more, urinating and defecating on themselves, an FBI report has revealed.

The Guardian.

Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 [at Guantanamo Bay] after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury…

[Pentagon] officials conceded that he was treated for injuries suffered when a five-man MP “internal reaction force” choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas…

As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said, he screamed a code word, “red,” and shouted: “I’m a U.S. soldier! I’m a U.S. soldier!” He said the beating continued until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.

The Los Angeles Times.

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”

“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions…

Bob Woodward in the Washington Post.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion “tantamount to torture” on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The New York Times.

Then there’s the fact that Khadr claims to have confessed under torture. Videos of him weeping during an interrogation surfaced last year and served only to remind the world that he was a teenager confined at Guantanamo among “the worst of the worst.” Khadr was allegedly shackled in stress positions until he urinated on himself, then covered with pine solvent and used as a “human mop” to clean his own urine. He was beaten, nearly suffocated, beset by attack dogs, and threatened with rape. In May 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Canada v. Khadr that the detention of Khadr at Guantanamo Bay “constituted a clear violation of fundamental human rights protected by international law…” We need to start to make amends for the fact that children in our custody were tortured.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate.

Mohammed al-Qahtani, detainee No. 063, was forced to wear a bra. He had a thong placed on his head. He was massaged by a female interrogator who straddled him like a lap dancer. He was told that his mother and sisters were whores. He was told that other detainees knew he was gay. He was forced to dance with a male interrogator. He was strip-searched in front of women. He was led on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks. He was doused with water. He was prevented from praying. He was forced to watch as an interrogator squatted over his Koran.

That much is known. These details were among the findings of the U.S. Army’s investigation of al-Qahtani’s aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba…

[Later h]e was interrogated for 18 to 20 hours per day [using coercive rather than sexually humiliating methods, including waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extreme temperatures], for 48 of the next 54 days, according to an Army investigative report. On Dec. 7, 2002, he had to be revived at the detainee hospital when his heart rate fell to 35 beats per minute, according to a log of the interrogation published by Time magazine. Then the interrogation continued.

FBI agents at Guantanamo joined the opposition. A Nov. 27 FBI “legal analysis,” since reported by Newsweek, labeled several parts of the plan as “coercive interrogation techniques which are not permitted by the U.S. Constitution.” It also warned that several of the proposed tactics could constitute torture, depending on how a judge viewed the intent of the interrogator.

MSNBC.

Clearly, if Club Med is anything like Guantanamo is, it should be investigated for torture, prisoner abuse, child abuse, and various violations of international treaties. I’m awaiting a response from Morgan E. Painvin, Club Med’s listed press contact, as to whether Pete King has any substantiation for his apparent allegations of torture and human rights abuses at Club Med.

An alternate and plausible explanation would be that Pete King has been involved in sadomasochism for too long and that it has warped his sense of pleasure and pain. Of course, it’s brave of a suburban politician to admit such a fetish. So I must commend him for his honesty if this is his way of coming out.

I’m not sure I can think of any other reasonable explanations for this statement by Congressman King without calling him delusional, a liar, incredibly ignorant, or a propagandist.

[Photo licensed under Creative Commons courtesy of Ed your don.]

Categories
Politics The War on Terrorism

Shin Bet Refuses to Assist in Providing Security to President Carter

Jimmy Carter

[digg-reddit-me]Reuters is reporting that in an absolutely outrageous and despicable move,1 Israel’s internal security service has refused to provide assistance to the Secret Service guarding President Jimmy Carter in Israel after he met with the leaders of Hamas.

I didn’t think that Mr. Carter should have been meeting with Hamas on principle as they have never renounced terrorism. I can see why Mr. Carter believes someone must talk with them, but I think Mr. Carter’s meeting would only serve – at this time – to give the group international legitimacy. Of course, I would not refer to Israel’s difficult situation as “apartheid” either. Mr. Carter has his own opinions, and although I trust his intentions, I think his actions and words in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are ill-advised.

But despite these actions, it is difficult to believe this story is true – that a close ally would refuse to assist a former American president’s security detail. According to the Reuters piece:

Another source described the snub as an “unprecedented” breach between the Israeli Shin Bet and the U.S. Secret Service, which protects all current and former U.S. presidents, as well as Israeli leaders when they visit the United States.

Carter included the southern Israeli town of Sderot on his itinerary. The area is often hit by rockets from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and one of the sources described the lack of Shin Bet assistance there as particularly “problematic”.

Although the Bush administration opposed Mr. Carter’s meeting with Hamas, the president must take action regarding this refusal to assist in providing security to a former president. The Israeli government’s behavior is unacceptable for an ally – let alone one of our closest allies.

This is an issue on which all Americans should unite. Israel has every right to criticize President Carter and to denounce him; but as an ally of the United States, they should not be messing with his security. That is far – very far – over the line.

I think this is an issue on which all of us – from Bill O’Reilly to Michael Moore – can agree.

In the spirit of the web and political engagement, how can we make our position known, take some action to affect the situation?

Updated: Some reactions around the blogosphere:

Ed Morissey over at Hot Air is sympathetic to the Israelis but critical:

It gives the State Department a little more leverage about Carter’s trip. They could use the danger into which Carter would lead the Secret Service as a means to ask the Department of Homeland Security to refuse to allow them to accompany Carter. Carter could choose to go without the Secret Service, but without Israeli security, it would present a huge risk — and if he did go and got killed, it would be an explosive issue for the Bush administration.

Quite frankly, although I understand the Israeli’s action, I think it sets a bad precedent. Cooperation in security should not be predicated on agreement of political policies. Jimmy Carter may be the worst ex-president in American history, but he is still our ex-president, and the Secret Service detail that accompanies him deserves Israeli cooperation. The snub from the political class is well-deserved, but the Israelis should consider how Americans will view them if their refusal to cooperate on security leads to American deaths on this trip.

Over at LiveJournal some random guy who has one of the top Sphere links suggests that the United States arrest Mr. Carter for meeting with foreign governments against the interests of the United States pursuant to the Logan Act. Regarding security, he says:

Let Hamas help protect their friend.

Charming.

  1. Redacted because on re-reading the rhetoric was overheated and unnecessary. []