Wednesday, December 31, 2014

DECEMBER 2014 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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1. Anyone still maintaining that the NRA is a mainstream organization devoted to gun hobbyists, gun education, and other phony claims should take a gander at the NRA magazine's special election issue and then kindly shut the hell up.  A paranoid column from NRA leader Wayne Pierre appearing in the gun group’s magazine, America’s 1st Freedom, warns about terrorist attacks and “angry mobs” rioting “just for the hell of it” and calls on members to “vote our guns” on Election Day.

The issue cover depicted a flag and gun-toting ISIS fighter along with the headline, “Chaos at Our Door.” The Vote Your Guns issue's primary editorial seems to list every far-right militia theory, every ammo-hoarding survivalist mantra, every xenophobic conspiracy theory, and so on. Among the things LaPierre told readers to be afraid of:

• An electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP) that could kill "as much as 90 percent of the population of the U.S." by bringing about the reemergence of "Third World" diseases like "amoebic dysentery, typhoid, [and] cholera -- killing our youngest and frailest family members."

• A cyber attack that would put "our economy into a tailspin" and possibly become "deadly" if hackers took over a dam or oil processing facility.

• An attack "along the lines of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, where terrorists launched a dozen coordinated attacks, gunning down innocent victims at hotels, a bar, a train station, a hospital and a movie theater," killing 164 people.

• An incident similar to a 2013 terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya where "[f]our armed terrorists linked to al Qaeda were able -- thanks to Kenya's strict anti-gun laws -- to spend four days torturing, mutilating and gunning down shoppers.     

2. Florida's Duval County GOP Secretary Kim Crenier. After the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Crenier went on a rant tweeting that police should turn fire hoses on protestors. She offered the following:

“A suggestion for Ferguson- fire hoses. Grt big fire hoses, serious water pressure. Knock those thugs over. They probly need a shower anyway.”  

3. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OKL). In case you're wondering just how far Inhofe is prepared to go as chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in playing out his belief that global warming is a hoax—for sure attacking virtually all EPA regulations—consider the following exchange Inhofe had with journalist David Corn at the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen.

Corn asked the senator if he really believed that the thousands of people attending had been fooled about global warming. Inhofe said yes. Pressed, he said yes again. Corn nearly laughed and somehow managed to control his eye-rolling:

Corn: That's some hoax, I countered. But who has engineered such a scam?
Inhofe: Hollywood liberals and extreme environmentalists.
Corn: Really? Why would they conspire to scare all these smart people into believing a catastrophe was under way, when all was well?
Inhofe: To advance their radical environmental agenda.
Corn: Who in Hollywood is doing this?
Inhofe: The whole liberal crowd.
Corn: But who?
Inhofe: Barbra Streisand! Great to know this wacko will be a key player as we prepare for the 2015 climate talks in Lima, Peru.  

4. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Responded to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of the report on CIA’s post-9/11 use of torture, Cruz said:

“Every civilized nation agrees that torture is wrong. But today’s partisan report will endanger lives, drive away our allies—who have never been more needed than now—and undermine the ability of our intelligence officers and soldiers to protect our national security.”

This statement is laced with absurdities, not an unusual occurrence for Cruz, but in this case is especially noteworthy since it appears he is trying to be serious.

Cruz is certainly correct that torture is widely recognized as wrong among civilized peoples, so what does this say about Cruz and fellow right-wingers who justify the kind of “enhanced interrogation” techniques used after 9/11? The idea that the report would endanger lives and drive away our allies takes absurdity to the extreme. Our use of torture, including water boarding, sleep deprivation, and other forms of physical and mental abuse, was widely known throughout the world--among our allies as well as enemies. Certainly our "friends" who participated in extraordinary renditions knew about what was happening. The practice was widely reported in Europe as well. Worst of all, is the insinuation that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques somehow promotes our national security. As the report states, countless experts of torture affirm, and even notable hawks like John McCain agree, torture rarely produces useful information. Useful information on terrorists and terrorism has been derived from many sources, least of which is through torture.

5.  Josh Earnest, White House spokesman, made the following comment on December 10 about the partially declassified executive summary of the Torture Report: 

“It’s difficult to imagine — and I’m happy to be proven wrong — but it’s difficult to imagine any other country in the world going to the lengths that this country has to have a public reckoning or a public detailed accounting of our shortcomings.”

It would be great if it were true.  For just a few examples to prove Earnest wrong, see: South Africa’s Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (1995-2002); the Netherlands’ report — Dossier Srebrenica (2002) — on the role of the Dutch army in the 1995 genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Brazil’s National Truth Commission report (2014); Germany’s two truth commissions in 1992 and 1995; Sweden’s investigation into the treatment of the Roma population (2010); Guatemala’s Commission for Historical Clarification (1997-1999); Bolivia’s National Commission for Investigation for Forced Disappearances (1982-1984); or Ecuador’s Truth Commission to Impede Impunity (2007-2009).


And the winner is: 

I'd love to give it to Jim Inhofe, but because his idiocy was uttered in 2009 I guess I have to disqualify him.  So, this month's winner is the eminently absurd Ted Cruz.

























1 comment:

  1. Ron,
    I haven't read any of the reports of the various truth and reconciliation-type commissions you cite, but I suspect there were more than a few whitewashes among them. Besides, as David Truman once opined, these types of blue ribbon commissions are mainly intended as a way to calm down outraged populations, not as fact finders. Nonetheless, Earnest's comment is, of course, absurd.

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