SINCE 1759

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:


Candide’s Latest
Daily Journal: Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Quick Links

Police State Matériel
Cops’ Military Fetish

Coming soon to a police agency near you

The Associated Press in Florida is circulating a couple of stories about how police agencies in this state love to snap-up military surplus property. “Prisoner-transport airplanes, helicopter parts and armored personnel carriers are used every day by Florida law enforcement after the U.S. military deems they aren't valuable anymore,” one story goes. “In fiscal 2005, 48 Florida law-enforcement agencies received more than $3.1 million in military surplus items including boats, dive platforms, rescue vehicles and Vietnam-era helicopters.” Also: night-vision goggles and weapons. Like most stories that deal gingerly with the militarization of American society, and particularly the militarization of police agencies, this one doesn’t make the connection. It’s written in the mood of a feature story. It projects a happy, fortunate circumstance. The tone is approving. The suggestion rewarding. The picture that AP associated with it shows a young police officer called Shane Grammer. The photographer shot him from above, holding up, with just the hint of a proud smile, a massive M-16 rifle with at least two scopes and a muffler-size barrel. Behind him, a Chevrolet Blazer, also apparently military surplus, its hood cluttered up with soldiers’ helmets, camouflage and gear. At no point in the story does the question occur: why all the gear? Why the M-16? Why the helmets? Are we not still dealing with police departments? (Shane Grammer is actually a member of the Litchfield, Pennsylvania, police department. Litchfield is a minuscule township of 1,300 people, 400 households, 500 families. Who does Officer Grammer intend to use his M-16 against? The next dog that barks at him the wrong way? A suspicious looking rooster? His girlfriend? What about those helmets? Maybe it’s a joke in Litchfield. Not so in more urban places, in more prima facia military states like Florida, where the difference between police agencies and military units is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish. They love their helicopters here, they love their night raids, their SWAT teams, their chases, their drawn guns. We often hear about how “attitude” is in itself a trigger of violence among gang members. Look at me the wrong way and I’ll shoot you. What we don’t often hear about, but endure, because the media are too busy writing cutsey features about military surplus property in the hands of local police agencies, is the very same attitude from police—the very same approach: Look at an officer the wrong way, breathe the wrong way an officer’s way, and you’ll be in jail before the rooster crows once. Because all that military hardware brings with it an attitude all its own, a sense of power and presumption that has to be exercised. At this rate a police state would be a blessing. What we’re heading toward is a military state.

| permalink  


Nuremberg on the Potomac
War Criminals 'R' Us

No, that's not a wink to “liberation”

Richard Curtis, adjunct professor of philosophy at Shoreline Community College in Seattle, writing at CommonDreams: “Many years ago during boot camp I learned a series of General Orders. And while these are difficult to recall (and oddly enough even to find) any longer, one of the things I recall learning was an obligation to follow all lawful orders. Part of what we learned had to do with the military having made changes in training following the War Crimes at My Lai. My clear impression was that the Navy intended us to know our obligations under the Hague Conventions of 1889 and 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Nuremberg Conventions. These Conventions have legal standing as US law due to their having been ratified by our Senate. These days the most one hears about such things tends to involve the case of Lt. Ehren Watada, and his refusal to follow orders to deploy to Iraq. Watada’s claim is that as the Iraq War was instigated on false pretexts it is clearly a violation of the above Conventions and in particular a Crime Against Peace. The Army’s position is that Watada refused orders and that this behavior is criminal under the Army’s legal system. The judge hearing the case refuses to allow the defense to even use Watada’s reasons for refusing these illegal orders to be considered. Why would a military judge refuse to allow an officer to make the case that in refusing an order the officer was following a higher law, which is itself recognized by the military? This seems to be obviously irrational. A judge should be bound by the law, including important provisions of international law that have been incorporated into domestic law. For a judge to refuse to follow the law is beyond reason. But there is a reason. Watada’s challenge is that the Iraq War is illegal. This fact seems beyond question. A legal war cannot logically be premised on lies, and we all know the Iraq War was premised on a series of well coordinated lies (the “Downing Street Memo” being the proof any rational person needs). The judge cannot allow Watada to argue the War is illegal because it is obviously illegal, and as such constitutes a War Crime, so the judge disregards the law – much to the shame of us all. If the war is acknowledged as illegal that means admitting that everyone who participates in it, plans it, or orders it is a war criminal.” See the full essay...

| permalink  


L’Infâme: Anti-Immigrants’ Next Cross-Burning
Who Would Jesus Deport?

Bigotry guard

Alexander Zaitchik at Alternet: “A grassroots movement is forming in which anti-immigrant rhetoric dovetails with the odes to God and country that have long constituted conservative evangelical boilerplate.[...] “The Bible is an immigration handbook,” Joan Maruskin, [the liberal director of the Church World Service Immigration Program, told a Family Research Council audience last April]. “’Cursed be the person who oppresses the alien.’ Can we forget that Christ himself was a migrant and a refugee, born in a stable? Under our laws, Mary, Joseph and Jesus would be sent to three different prisons.”A powerful image, but Maruskin’s position is far from dominant on the religious right. In a FRC member poll conducted last spring, 90% of respondents chose forced deportation as the appropriate fate for America’s estimated 11 million-12 million undocumented immigrants. This response aligns the FRC base with fire-breathing hard-liners like U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), the evangelical co-sponsor of an immigration reform bill notable for its criminalization of those who “aid and abet” illegal immigrants, something many religious leaders and laymen see as a Christian duty. So it wasn’t surprising that Maruskin’s social-gospel message received a tepid response from the FRC audience. Heartier applause greeted the conservative Catholic journalist John O’Sullivan, who followed Maruskin to the podium and scoffed at her liberal “proof-texting” of Scripture. Arguing that such selective quotation did not “contribute to the debate,” he tried to debunk the argument for amnesty and dismissed Maruskin and her ilk as “moral bullies.” [...] When did immigration assume a place next to abortion and traditional marriage as a “family” issue for the religious right? And is this new and highly charged issue a threat to that movement’s much-vaunted “culture war”? Or is it a legitimate part of it?” See the full column...


| permalink  


Ohdave's Readings
Frank Luntz, Biosolid Strategist

Is it me or is it Memorex?

From Into My Own: “If you were a Republican strategist, and you controlled Congress and the White House, and you wanted to improve your standing with environmentalists, what would you do? Pass legislation that protected the environment? Increase fuel efficiency standards? Take global warming seriously, perhaps? No, no need to actually change you policies. You would employ the services of one Frank Luntz, communications advisor to the rich and politically powerful. You would then pack legislation full of gimmes to the oil companies--oops, that is, the energy industry--and call it something that sounds environmentally friendly, like Healthy Forests, and call it a day. Welcome to Luntz world, where marketing and politics collide. Luntz, as you may know, is the linguistic darling of the Right who helped fashion the Contract with America in 1994 and the subsequent Republican majority that we are only now emerging from. In his new book Words That Work , Luntz pulls back the curtain on his ongoing attempts to refine the Republican message, but in doing so he reveals that his communication strategy relies more on deception and rebranding than actually persuading voters or consumers. At the same time, Luntz can't decide if the book is a self help-manual for aspiring presidents, a triumphant memoir of silver-tongued Republican rule over the braying Democrats, or a resume to tantalize potential corporate clients. It's a confused, dishonest book, full of ego and condescension, but displaying just enough--better to call it cleverness?--to make it worth reading.” See the full piece...

| permalink  


Straight-Talking duplicity
John McCain, Liar


| permalink  


World Gallery: The Netherlands
Escaping the Grayness


| permalink  


Crumbs & Quickies

In the Blogosphere

| permalink  

Bookmark and Share

Read Pierre’s Latest

The Latest Comments

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary