2-16: 306 Electoral College Votes

Nothing Else Matters.

I have been trying my darnedest to avoid writing about, much less attacking, the 45th President of the United States. I truly have. But to even mention that his narcissism dominates every news cycle is understatement. There is simply no escaping his ego.

Donald Trump demonstrates over and over again that he cannot focus on anything, or anyone, other than himself. He believes, I’m sure, the universe revolves around him. So tremendous. Unbelievable.

Toss away the Protocol.

I was driving along midday Wednesday. News report: President Trump is greeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Nothing special in this innocuous gesture … except there was. The public—nay, the world—knew this meeting was scheduled. The President, uncharacteristically for a president, greeted the Prime Minister’s motorcade personally. Okay, a bit ostentatious, but okay.

The real curve ball came with what happened next. Trump and Netanyahu held a press conference before their meeting. Odd.

Remember, I’m driving, so the road has most of my attention. Each man praised the other almost dotingly, noting how they had known each other for many years.

Diplomacy by Association

Then things got weird. A reporter asked Trump if he would comment on incidents of anti-Semitism in America. He would. He prefaced his reply with a reminder of how proud and honored he was to have received 306 electoral votes. More to the point … Trump noted that his son-in-law is a Jew, his daughter is a Jew, and he has Jewish grandchildren. Anti-Semitism? Not in the Trump family, the center of …

It gets weirder. Another reporter asked about Trump’s views on the Israel-Palestine issue. Well, he said (paraphrasing here, no quotes), I used to be for a two-state solution, now I think one state is alright. Whatever they decide.

Then, as if the hole needed to be deeper, he ribbed “Bibi” just as little. You’re going to stop building over there for a little while, right? I didn’t hear a response from Netanyahu. So rude.

Press conference over. Can’t wait to hear how the meeting went.

Buckle your seat belts. Tighten your crash helmets. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

End

[I write about politics in this blog because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-14: Conflicts of Interest

Random Conversation Heard in D.C. Hall Yesterday

Johnny on the Spot: So, Mitch, big news today, right?

Mitchell: What’s that?

John: You know, Flynn got the boot. What do you think about that?

Mitch: Every president gets to choose …

John: Yeah, yeah. But looks like he chose wrong on this one.

Mitch: There would be no hullabaloo about this if the media didn’t leak damaging information.

John: You’re kidding. You have to be kidding.

Mitch: It’s the media’s fault. They set out to undermine this president. The general is a good man. I’ve known him for 20 years. He did not deserve this public humiliation.

John: He got too cozy with our enemy of, oh, some 70 years or so. He played big man on the block with them way before we changed administrations. He lied to the vice president. He played the mouthpieces for fools.

Mitch: None of that is against the law.

John: The Logan Act?

Mitch: Never been enforced.

John: So, do you think Congress should investigate Flynn’s actions?

Mitch: No.

John: No?

Mitch: No. And that’s the end of it.

John: Benghazi. How many hearings? E-mails. How many hearings?

Mitch: Not the point. We have a new president, a new administration. We should be doing the people’s work. We need to get rid of Obamacare. We need to cut taxes. We need to protect everyone’s right to own a gun. The people’s work. We control all branches of government. We have a mandate to put this country back on track.

John: Oh, my. On a lighter note, how is the misses?

Mitch: She’s fine, thank you.

John: All settled in at her new office? The president appointed her Secretary of …

Mitch: Uh, look at the time. Sorry. Got to go.

End

[I write about politics in this blog because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-14: Separation of Powers

Most U.S. citizens, it seems, need a refresher course in civics whenever our vaunted peaceful transfer of power occurs. The current ultra-partisanship that permeates the land and polarizes—not quite paralyzes—us is really nothing new. Heck, when George Washington was president, he had Federalist Alexander Hamilton barking in one ear while Republican Thomas Jefferson yelped in the other. When the bickering ebbed, however, all agreed that the Constitution reigned supreme. And it has ever been so.

The website

usgovinfo.about.com

provides a useful summation, authored by Robert Longley, of the respective roles of the three branches of our government.

A System of Checks and Balances

The framers of the U.S. Constitution built a system of “separation of powers” through “checks and balances” into the document to ensure that no single person or branch of the new government could ever become too powerful.

Men like James Madison knew all too well from hard experience the dangers of things like despotic kings. Or as Madison himself put it, “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

Madison and his fellow framers believed that in creating any government administered by humans over humans, “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

Three Branches, Separate But Equal

In the provision of the three branches of governmental power legislative, executive, and judicial—into the Constitution, the framers built their vision of a stable federal government as assured by a system of separation of powers with checks and balances.

Madison wrote … “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judicial in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self–appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Checks and Balances in the U.S. Government

In both theory and practice, the power of each branch of American government is held in check by the powers of the other two in several ways. For example, while the President of the United States (executive branch) can veto laws passed by Congress (legislative branch), Congress can override presidential vetoes with a two-thirds vote of both houses.

Similarly, the Supreme Court (judicial branch) can nullify laws passed by Congress by ruling them to be unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court’s power is balanced by the fact that its presiding judges must be appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate.

But Are the Branches Truly Equal?

Some people argue that there are more checks or limitations on the power of the legislative branch than over the other two branches. For example, both the executive and judicial branches can override or nullify the laws it passes. While they are basically correct, it is how the Founding Fathers intended.

Our system of separation of powers through checks and balances reflects the Founders’ interpretation of a republican form of government in which the legislative or lawmaking branch, as the most powerful branch, must also be the most restrained. The Founders believed this because the Constitution grants “We the People” the power to govern ourselves through the very laws we demand of the representatives we elect to the legislative branch.

Fallible But Durable

The authors of the Constitution ignored the peculiar institution of slavery. Although an expedient omission at the time, that was a huge mistake. Nonetheless, the document has only been amended 27 times. It has withstood the ravages of time and remains the centerpiece of our “nation of laws.”

Members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government, We the People are watching you.

End

[I write about politics in this blog because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-10, Score Another One for Big Oil

Let the Drilling Begin

Having checkmated an Obama Executive Order, President Donald Trump cleared the board and set a new game in motion. Opening move, get rid of the pawns, you know, the little people.

Under Trump’s auspices and direction the Army Corps of Engineers reversed their earlier position and decreed that an environmental impact study is not necessary for the project to proceed. And so, drilling under Lake Oahe, which is situated within territorial boundaries of the Sioux Nation, has begun.

Energy Transfer Partners, the prime Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) contractor, has won. They can drill. Oil will flow. Bank accounts will rise. Stock holders will rejoice.

Jobs, Jobs, and More Jobs

Oh, and the president continues to claim that the project will “create thousands of jobs,” which sounds like the beginning of a crude joke: How many workers does it take to watch oil flow through a pipe? Rather, the serious question that we hope never requires an answer is: How many workers does it take to clean up an oil spill?

Although DAPL opponents vow to continue the fight the project in court, as of this writing, the drilling has already begun. Thus, I am pessimistic that DAPL will be thwarted in any way.

For what they are worth, if you have not followed this matter closely, the questions and answers below will provide useful information as to why the fight against DAPL was waged. They come from a Popular Science article, “What Is the Dakota Access Pipeline? A Controversial Connector,” by Mary Beth Griggs.

Where is the pipeline located?

The DAPL … snakes 1,172 miles through parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

Why is the pipeline being built?

The pipeline is intended to transport 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the rich oil fields of North Dakota to a storage facility in Patoka, Illinois….

The pipeline is being built as a way to transport the large amounts of oil extracted from the Bakken without using tanker trucks or trains … Whether transporting oil by train, truck, ship, or pipeline, all methods involve environmental risks in the event of a crash or leak.

Why don’t people want a pipeline nearby?

There are innumerable reasons that people aren’t interested in having a major pipeline nearby. The people most affected by the pipeline construction, and the majority of people on the front lines of the protest, are the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies. The tribe’s main sources of drinking water are located downstream of the current route of the pipeline, and the protesters fear that a spill on the pipeline could irrevocably contaminate their water supply.

Griggs explains, “It’s not an unfounded fear….”

In 2010, a spill from an oil pipeline into the Kalamazoo River spewed 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the environment, leading to years of cleanup and recovery at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. That incident was the worst inland oil spill in the United States, but far from the only pipeline-related oil spill. More than a million barrels of oil have leaked from pipelines in the last 20 years….

And it’s not just environmental safety concerns.

In Shelby County, Alabama late last year, a construction accident caused a fatal explosion at a gasoline pipeline, sparking wildfires near the drought-ravaged region. The explosion occurred just a few miles away from the site of a gasoline pipeline spill that occurred a few weeks before.

“Then there’s the cultural aspect,” she adds.

 According to lawsuits filed on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the path of the pipeline crossed areas of cultural importance, including burial grounds and significant places of prayer. Some of those areas have reportedly already been destroyed in construction.

Is it really Us vs Them all the time? Is that our DNA? When did we devolve into a might makes us right society? Do all Americans share a common culture? Does it matter? And what is culture anyway?

Way back in the 19th century Thomas Carlyle wrote, “The great law of culture is: Let each become all that he was created capable of being.” To me, that requires us to accept and respect others as they are. Further, it requires us not to ignore, disrespect, or destroy another’s way of life, particularly in vain pursuit of our own self-proclaimed desires.

End

[I write about politics in this blog because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-9: Sad Tale of Dakota Pipeline Continues

Army Corps of Engineers March On

When my light infantry brigade was based in Tay Ninh in 1966, we shared a bunker line with PhilCAG, Philippine Civil Assistance Group. The main job of this civil engineering unit was to build roads in this western province of Vietnam near the Cambodian border. If my platoon or company was not out in the boonies on an extended mission or otherwise engaged in protecting the camp itself—e.g., patrolling or manning the bunker line—we would assist PhilCAG by riding shotgun in their dump trucks and setting up a protective perimeter around their excavation site.

In the midst of wartime devastation of that beautiful land these guys were actually building something. I mention this because it is the only experience I have with military civil engineers, a very positive experience. So I can easily and readily transfer that sense of good will to U.S. military civil engineers. I can also attest to their bravery, as their work brings them to the enigmatic front lines which exposes them to imminent danger.

An Aside

After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 the U.S. Navy created the Navy Construction Battalion. They soon shortened their name to “CB” which morphed into the nickname “Seabee.” Which brings us back to …

The Dakota Access Pipeline

Earlier this week the Army Deputy Assistant Secretary, Paul Cramer, announced in a letter to the House (of Representatives) Natural Resources Committee that the service—i.e., the Army Corps of Engineers—planned to allow Energy Transfer Partners to build a section of pipeline through Sioux territory without conducting an environmental impact study.

The previous administration granted a stay of this polarizing project back in December in order to allow time for the conduct of such a study. The current administration obliterated that stay via Executive Order. The Army’s Acting Secretary, Robert Speer, said, “… another study on the project’s possible environmental impact was unnecessary …”

Checked, Not Balanced

Drilling down the Corps’ official website, one finds a description of its Environmental Advisory Board.

The Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) was created … in 1970 as a means for the Chief to gain outside, expert and independent advice on environmental issues facing the Corps of Engineers.…  We intend to … use the Board as a vehicle of communication to reach out and build partnerships, understandings and cooperation with the environmental community, and public at large.  Environmental concerns have never been more important. We see the EAB playing a key role in contributing to enhanced mutual understanding and confidence between the Corps and both the general public and the conservation community.

Further down the webpage is the EAB’s Charter Purpose:

Advise Chief of Engineers by providing independent advice and recommendations on matters relating to environmental issues facing the Corps of Engineers.

So, what’s the hurry? The Huffington Post’s Michael McLaughlin summarizes the Standing Rock Sioux’ argument against the project. It

  • threatens the water source for their reservation
  • disturbs sacred ground, and
  • violates a 19th century treaty with the federal government

What if?

If this fight is now over, we, the American people, lose. Respect for indigenous people disintegrates. Civilian control—the executive branch—over our distinguished military—the Army Corps of Engineers, in this case—devolves into dictatorial mockery. Treaties—our sacred word as a nation—become meaningless. And so one may sadly ask:

What have we become?

End

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-8: VPOTUS

The 2nd POTUS

George Washington: My dear sirs, I have called you to this chamber to beg from each of you your indulgence. As the Convention has seen fit to elect your humble servant to the office of President of our newly formed republic, I find the great necessity to seek the company and the confidence of those who share my devotion to the cause for which so much blood was spilt.

Thomas Jefferson: Indeed, Mr. President, the waters we are about to navigate are uncharted.

Alexander Hamilton: Agreed, Mr. Jefferson. Mr. President, the honorable Jefferson, known as well throughout these former colonies as at the courts of Europe, speaks wisely. Each and every action you perform within the parameters of your official capacity will be a first of its kind. Therefore, much circumspection will attend your every move. I perceive this gathering, then, to be perhaps a first among firsts. In short, sir—I beg your forgiveness, but I must pose the question—for what purpose have you summoned us?

Washington: Forgiveness, Mr. Hamilton, is neither to be requested by you nor granted by me. We must shed the accoutrements of military hierarchy just as we have renounced the yoke of monarchy. The answer to your inquiry resides in the boldness with which you rendered it. Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Knox, Mr. Randolph, if this nascent republic is to thrive beyond infancy, it will require more knowledge, more skill, and yes, Mr. Hamilton, more boldness than any one man may possess.

Hamilton: Sir, you attained your present station by unanimous vote.

Henry Knox: General … Mr. President, you are already proclaimed the father of our country.

Edmund Randolph: Speaking for myself, Mr. President, I am honored simply to be here present amidst such an assemblage of superior gentlemen.

Washington: Then I shall begin with you Mr. Randolph. You possess intimacy with the law under which we have chosen to be governed. You understand well both meaning and intent of our Constitution. I ask you, Mr. Randolph, will you serve as Attorney General of these United States?

Randolph: I will.

Washington: Mr. Knox, I know firsthand your bravery and leadership on the battlefield. I ask you, Mr. Knox, will you serve as Secretary of War of these United States?

Knox: I will.

Washington: Mr. Hamilton, we have experienced much together since you first became part of my military family as aide-de-camp. I have long admired your steadfastness to our cause. The ultimate success of this political experiment will require, among other things, a predictable source of income so that we are able to pay our debts, duly incurred, and establish creditability throughout the world. I ask you, Mr. Hamilton, will you serve as Treasury Secretary of these United States?

Hamilton: I will.

Washington: Mr. Jefferson, your love of country is no less than my own nor of any man who today bears the name Citizen. I ask you, Mr. Jefferson, will you serve as Secretary of State of these United States?

Jefferson: I will. But, Mr. President, may I presume to be as bold as Mr. Hamilton?

Washington: Of course.

Jefferson: Before I ascended the stairs to enter this chamber, I could not but notice in the grand foyer a pacing gentleman. His manner gave me pause to linger such that I might espy his identity. It was none other than the esteemed Mr. Adams. Mr. President, is there not a place at this table for such a patriot?

Washington: There is, Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Knox, would you please fetch Mr. Adams. He knows you are coming.

Knox: Certainly.

Washington: Welcome, Mr. Adams. Please have a seat.

John Adams: I must confess, Mr. President, I am bewildered by the make-up of this congregation. I am further perplexed by your behest that I remain alone until summoned.

Washington: I know full well that you are acquainted with all here present, Mr. Adams. What you are unaware of is that I have requested their active participation in the newly formed government. Sir, I present to you Mr. Randolph, Attorney General; Mr. Knox, Secretary of War; Mr. Hamilton, Treasury Secretary; and Mr. Jefferson, Secretary of State.

Adams: Gentlemen, congratulations, I suppose. Mr. President, have you called me to this place as a form of mockery? Have I offended you in some way? Pray, tell.

Washington: For you, Mr. Adams, I have delayed my final urgent request. I ask you, dear sir, will you serve as Vice President of these United States?

Adams: Ah, Jefferson, Secretary of State. Hamilton, Treasury Secretary. These are the heights to which a man of political ambition may aspire. However, my dear sir, you know from heated talk—nay, argument—at the convention that I hold the office of the Vice President the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.

Washington: I ask you, Mr. Adams, will you serve as Vice President of these United States?

Adams: I will.

Washington: Despite your reservations concerning this post, Mr. Adams, the day will come when you are called upon to render a momentous decision. Rest assured, that day will come.

End

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

2-6, Vets Stand against Pipeline Again

The battle between the U.S. Government and the Standing Rock Sioux Nation over the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline project continues. The Huffington Post’s Mary Papenfuss reports:

Pipeline Will Never Be Built, Warriors Vow

These Vets make me proud. It is a testament to their constitution, as well as to the Constitution, that they continue to defend Native American rights which the federal government have trampled on or ignored for centuries. Many of the defenders bear the scars of the Vietnam Era. They know, firsthand, that might does not make right … nor should it. Papenfuss begins, “U.S. military veterans have thrown down the gauntlet … vowing that the Dakota Access Pipeline will ‘not be completed— not on our watch.’” She continues,

Veterans Stand, a group of vets who have vowed to protect the pipeline protesters of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and supporters, ominously threatened the possibility of more “boots on the ground” at the site — but also repeated their commitment to nonviolent action. The group is capable of calling up several thousand veterans to the protest site.

There are “Doctors without Borders.” These are “Warriors without Weapons.”

“We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected,” spokesman Anthony Diggs [said]. “That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.”

… and yet arrests are made.

The latest defiant declaration follows the arrest Wednesday of nearly 80 protesters camped out at the demonstration site near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, amid [Government’s] … determined press to push through the controversial pipeline. Local law enforcement said the protesters were arrested when they moved from one of their camps onto land owned by pipeline operator Energy Transfer Partners,

Does anyone remember Cliven Bundy, that stalwart American cattleman who brazenly grazed his private stock on public land and instigated an armed standoff with federal law enforcement? He aroused a few flag waving, misoriented libertarianistas but, in the end, was brought to court for his … well, for his blatant stupidity.

My intent is not to draw a false equivalency between Bundy’s illegal trespassing and the Sioux’ honorable defense of their sovereign territory. Rather, I want to expose Bundy and his ilk for the uncivilized barbarians they are, while extolling the Sioux and the non-Native Americans standing beside them as the heroes they are.

Follow the Money.

[President Donald] Trump late last month signed an executive order to advance construction of the pipeline just weeks after the Army Corps of Engineers had held up the pipeline by calling for a new environmental review that could take up to two years. Financial disclosure filings by the president (reported on by Mother Jones) have revealed that as recently as last summer he owned shares in Energy Transfer Partners, and company CEO Kelcy Warren contributed $100,000 to elect Trump.

… but we are told that only the media want to see the president’s tax returns. Balderdash!

The arrests at the protest site occurred the day after Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abandon the environmental review and grant Energy Transfer Partners the final easement it needs to complete the last stretch of the $3.7 billion, 1,172-mille-long pipeline.

We are a “nation of law,” politicians like to brag. It just ain’t so.

When bankers go to jail for manipulating the housing market such that they reap filthy lucre while the poor are run out of their homes, I’ll believe we are a nation of law. Steve Mnuchin, I mean you.

When corporations that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves while wandering the globe and extracting natural resources from dictatorial, impoverished countries such as Chad and Sudan, pay their fair share of taxes, I’ll believe we are a nation of law. Exxon-Mobil, I mean you.

When politicians who incite wars, send others to fight them, and personally benefit from them are tried as criminals, I’ll believe we are a nation of law. Dick Cheney, I mean you.

Home of the Brave

Although the fair and equitable distribution of justice is wanting in our country, we are not without the bold and courageous. Vets Stand, you are the greatest of our generation. Standing Rock Sioux Nation, you are America.

End

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

 

1-22: A Message from the Heartland Regarding Immigration

Wee Mama of the Daily Kos reprinted the announcement below. It is an intramural address from a principal to the entire student body of the school he administers. I share it in its entirety and without comment. Make of it what you will.

“From a High School in Iowa …”

The following announcement was made this morning by Kevin Biggs, principal of Theodore Roosevelt High School (Des Moines).

“Good Morning Roughriders:

I apologize for the interruption. Please place down your pens or pencils and listen to this announcement. This weekend, much of the world’s attention was focused on an effort by the federal government to impose far-reaching restrictions on the ability of immigrants and refugees to come to the United States. From protesters at airports and on the streets to lawyers and judges in courtrooms, there was a swift reaction by many in support of immigrants and refugees.

To all of our students who are immigrants or refugees – and to their friends and classmates and teachers who are also concerned because of these recent events – know that you belong here – Roosevelt HS and DMPS stands by you. As you know, TRHS is a school of such diversity, with a student body that encompasses over 40 different languages and cultures. Over the years, thousands of refugee students from around the world have attended school at DMPS. Many have labeled TRHS as the most diverse high school in the state of Iowa, which in my opinion is a strength and gift that we are to be extremely proud of, but also use to grow as human beings.

Each one of you is sitting here today because your parents or guardians wanted you to attend a real-world high school, that exposed you to various cultures, religions, languages, experiences, and beliefs…because understanding and respecting these differences is what allows each of us to grow into the respecting, accepting, and loving leaders of tomorrow. Because of your attendance at TRHS, I believe you possess, or will eventually possess, a unique perspective on life and the world, one that will prepare you well for whatever conflict is thrown your way in the next few years.

For our students of immigrant families, we want to help you learn and succeed in school. We want to see you have fun and make friends and find your passions. We want to be there to celebrate that day when you walk across a stage to receive your diploma. We want to help you grow into the people you want to become. At TRHS, we welcome immigrants and refugees as our students and families, as our neighbors and friends. The entire district values our students, no matter where they might come from – this is your home and we are honored to serve you. The adults in the building are here to help in any way that you might  need.

When children in Des Moines show up at our schools – no matter their place of birth or religion or language or skin color – they should know that they belong here and we stand by them. America is a country of immigrants; every one of us has roots which began in countries across the globe. America was built on the pursuit of freedoms, and it is our responsibility as citizens to stand-up for what we believe is right and just.

For our immigrant students, especially those of you who’s home country is Iran, or Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, or Somalia…we are here to support you as this attempt to ban your family from our country is constructed by the federal government. I ask every TRHS student to stand by our friends, support them with unwavering love and empathy, and be respectful during this chaotic time. This is a time where Roughriders can show the world what happens when unity and love can overcome injustice. We love and respect each and every one of you and hope to prove that through our actions each day. Thank you for providing me a few minutes of your time. Go Riders!”

End

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

*****

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from the Daily Kos.]

1-27: Another Despicable Cheney

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece from the Huffington Post.]

Shades of Cheney

I believe wholeheartedly that draft dodging, chicken hawk, former Secretary of Defense, former Vice President of the United States of America Dick Cheney is a war criminal. In addition to the countless corpses left in the wake of his neocon assaults on humanity I believe he benefitted financially through the award of no-bid war zone contracts to Haliburton, the company he led before he weaseled his way into the George W. Bush White House. And today Cheney’s shameless daughter, a Republican Representative from Wyoming, carries on the family business of evil.

With the exception of added subtitles (in bold) the article below is presented as in the original, in its entirety. These are scary people.

Liz Cheney Supports Waterboarding, Attacks CIA Torture Report

PHILADELPHIA ― Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) praised President Donald Trump’s reported decision to order a review of how the U.S. is handling the war on terror ― opening up the door to reinstating banned interrogation techniques previously used by the nation’s intelligence gatherers.

False Bravado

As Republicans in both chambers met outside of Washington to discuss their agenda for the year, Cheney told reporters she supports a review, and tore into the Senate’s CIA torture report. Cheney also asserted that waterboarding works, and that it helped in securing crucial information leading to the capture of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (a debunked theory).

“It’s been clear, certainly since we stopped the enhanced interrogation program, we’re not even in a position anymore, frankly, where we’re very often capturing people,” Cheney said. “We have nothing to do with people when we do capture them.”

Family Allegiance, Family Curse

Coming full circle in the debate over whether officials should use enhanced interrogation methods to extract information from prisoners, the freshman congresswoman echoed her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, on Wednesday, arguing that waterboarding is not torture.

Ignorance

“What we know is that the enhanced interrogation program provided some of the information, and some of the evidence, that eventually led us to be able to locate, capture and kill bin Laden,” Cheney said. “I do support enhanced interrogation, I think that it’s something that clearly has helped us in the past to save lives, and so I was glad to see President Trump take that step.”

Ineffective Brutality

Cheney said she expects the review, once finished, to reveal the “usefulness” of interrogation techniques like waterboarding ― a method used in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program for years. That CIA program was investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and found to be more brutal than the CIA originally disclosed and ineffective in producing intelligence. Some details of the investigation were released in a 2014 report.

False Expediency

“The use of enhanced interrogation has been ― when it was in use ― very limited,” Cheney said, “limited to only three people who were waterboarded and used in a situation where we had to get information to save American lives.”

Orwellian Mumbo-Jumbo

“It’s the responsibility of any chief executive, any commander in chief to make sure we use every tool at our disposal,” she continued, “understanding that it’s not torture. We don’t torture, we haven’t tortured. What we’re talking about is the ability to get information from people who don’t want to provide information and who have information that could well save American lives and prevent attacks.”

False Narrative

Reminded that the Senate torture report refuted those claims, and pressed for evidence that such techniques were, in fact, useful in finding the courier that led intel officials to bin Laden, Cheney lambasted the document. (The full report remains classified.)

“That report was actually put together without interviewing a single person who was involved in the program, and you have people on both sides of the political aisle,” Cheney said.

End of Article

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.

1-26: No More Torture

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Often I find material that is best left (mostly) untouched by me, e.g., today’s piece.]

Torture: Why Is It in the News Again?

Headlines of torture bleed off internet sites today. Yes, torture. Suddenly that ominous, Medieval scare-word has returned to American vocabulary. Do not let barbarism define us.

Here is what people everywhere can read about the discussion in America.

Jordain Carney, The Hill

McCain to Trump: We’re not bringing back torture

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed back Wednesday against an effort by President Trump to revisit controversial enhanced interrogation policies, saying, “We are not bringing back torture.”

“The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law,” McCain said in a statement. “We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

Tim Mak, The Daily Beast

GOP Pushes Back on Draft Trump Black Site, Torture Order

A top Republican leader pushed back against a proposed presidential order that would reexamine more aggressive interrogation techniques against terrorist detainees, telling reporters that torture is illegal.

Employing waterboarding again “would take a change in the law, and Congress is on record,” Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “With respect to torture, that’s banned… we view that to be a matter of settled law.”

Media Matters for America

Joe Scarborough Shut Down By Sen. McCain after Claiming Sleep Deprivation Isn’t Torture

On the January 25 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough complained that “suddenly” so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” became “abhorrent” after public outcry over abuses during the George W. Bush administration. After it was reported that President Trump may sign an executive order that would “order a review of the Army Field Manual to determine whether to use certain enhanced interrogation techniques” again, Scarborough said that he “see[s] absolutely no problem about doing a study on enhanced interrogation techniques.” He added later in the segment that “there has been such a broad brush put across this entire topic of, quote, ‘torture.’ Suddenly sleep deprivation is torture.”

In the final hour of his show, Scarborough, who previously told a former naval intelligence official that he was wrong in saying that waterboarding doesn’t work, asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who experienced torture, to “define torture,” inquiring whether “sleep deprivation and other techniques like that” in fact “fit” McCain’s personal “definition of torture.” McCain shut Scarborough down, stating unequivocally that “extreme sleep deprivation is certainly not allowed and, again, it is very clear and laid out” in both the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual …

A J Vicens, Mother Jones

Trump Is Reportedly Considering Reopening CIA “Black Site” Prisons:

A draft executive order follows a suggestion by his new CIA director that he might be open to torture.

President Donald Trump is considering reopening the notorious CIA “black site” prisons, undoing the ban imposed by President Barack Obama, after his new CIA director suggested he’d be open to using torture methods on detainees.

The administration’s plans were reported by the New York Times on Wednesday after the paper obtained a draft executive order titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants.” The order would roll back many of the restrictions on detainee interrogations and detention that Obama put in place, including one that gave the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees in US custody. But in his daily press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the draft was “not a White House document.”

The CIA’s black sites were a series of facilities located in various countries around the world where the CIA detained, questioned, and often tortured detainees with practices including waterboarding, confinement in small boxes, beatings, and extreme sleep deprivation.

I say again, do not let barbarism define us. The use of torture demeans us as a people. It is wrong.

*****

The illustration at the blog’s top is the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. The blogger is a Vietnam Veteran, 1966-67. He is an author and past state chaplain for a major veterans organization. He welcomes comments on posts and encourages readers to subscribe to PTSDOutreach.com; two points: 1) it is free, 2) posts appear directly in your e-mail in-box.