I may be dim

. . . but isn’t boarding a ship in international waters (by dropping from a helicopter, no less) an act either of piracy or of war?

I acknowledge the right of Israel to decide who and what can enter Israel, and what ships can enter Israel’s territorial waters or dock. I find it incredibly offensive, however, for Israel to attack ships while still in international waters and then say its soldiers were firing in self-defense when they killed civilians on board those vessels. If Israel wishes to continue its blockade of Gaza, it must do so within its own territorial waters. End of story, as far as I’m concerned. (Except, of course, that the relationship of Israel to its non-Jewish citizens and to the residents of the territories it occupies is a terrible, seemingly never-ending story of evil behavior from both parties that appears to be making Israel into an Apartheid state.)

We need to build a parallel system

Robert Paterson has one of the most consistently bleak yet optimistic takes on reality that I’ve come across. Today he critiques the economic system we live in as being dominated by finance to the detriment of “making and doing things that benefit us really.” He looks to the end of the Soviet Union and of the Raj for solutions.

What worked was that they then stood aside and built a new system in parallel. That worked.

Gandhi took the same path in India. How was he to get the Raj to leave? He could not take the British on directly. He could not persuade them morally. What he had to do was to help the mass of Indians recognize that THEY did not need the Raj any more.

So what to do? I think that we have to disengage from the system and start to engage with each other. We have to start in our small local way to build a paralel system that works for the planet and for people

Clarence Thomas is an asshat

Justice Thomas said the court should look to the practices at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted. Given that capital punishment could be imposed on people as young as 7 in the 18th century, he said, Mr. Graham’s punishment would almost certainly have been deemed acceptable back then.

via Court Bars Life Terms for Youths Who Haven’t Killed — NYTimes.com.

Justice Thomas should recall that the practices at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted condoned the practice of slavery.

The source of democracy

I couldn’t put it better myself:

Haven’t we learned and understood that democratic processes and civil societies need to come from within? Democratic governments and liberal economic policies can’t be forced on to a nation from the outside, however desperately they may need it. No, these things must come from within. Without the domestic demand for civic organizations, liberal economic policies and free rights, there is no point in trying to force the issue. You can only encourage the society to structure a framework for these rights and ideals.

And no, it’s not about Iraq. This is from one of the comments on Are aid donors now running Haiti?.

War Criminals? part 2

Some of the brutal interrogation methods that Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee approved for use on Qaeda prisoners, including wall-slamming and the near-drowning of waterboarding, had never before been authorized in American history, and the United States had condemned such treatment as torture and abuse when used by other countries.

Um, perhaps because it is torture?

via Justice Department Report Finds John Yoo and Jay Bybee Not Guilty of Misconduct — NYTimes.com.

War Criminals?

John Yoo, page 251

Jay Bybee, page 255

Steven Bradbury, page 258

Michael Chertoff, Adam Ciongoli, John Ashcroft, page 259

OPR Report On Torture Memos.

Based on the results of our investigation, we concluded that former Deputy AAG John Yoo committed intentional professional misconduct when he violated his duty to exercise independent legal judgment and render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice.

We found that former AAG Jay Bybee committed professional misconduct when he acted in reckless disregard of his duty to exercise independent legal judgment and render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice.

We did not fmd that the other Department officials involved in this matter committed professional misconduct in this matter.

Sadly, this is a document that looks only at whether Office of Legal Counsel staff performed according to professional standards as lawyers. Whatever their “professional responsibilities,” it is clear from even my cursory look that these government officials were participating in the justification of torture.

Notably absent are then-President Bush, Vice President Cheney, congressional leadership, CIA personnel, and members of the military who may have been complicit in our nation’s descent into barbarism in the name of their “war on terror.”

(A tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan.)

Blog Swarm on DADT

I left a message on the HRC website. It took 30 seconds.

[C]ontact the Human Rights Campaign on behalf of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”


Publicly demand that President Obama take the lead in getting DADT repealed this year.

1) That means the President needs to state publicly that he wants Congress to repeal DADT this year; and

2) The President needs to take the lead in working with Congress to make sure the repeal happens.

HRC Front Desk: (202) 628‑4160
TTY: (202) 216‑1572
Toll-Free: (800) 777‑4723

HRC Web site comment page.
General membership email at hrc: membership@hrc.org

via Take Action on DADT — Join Our Blog Swarm: Call HRC Today — Towleroad, More than gay news. More gay men.