The Original Torture Memos

FLASH: Idaho State Sen. tables bill mandating the torture of Idaho youth en masse. No, srsly:

Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.

When Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked Goedde why he chose that particular book, Goedde said to laughter, “That book made my son a Republican.”

[...]

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting.

Christ.  Extended stress positions and waterboarding would be infinitely more humane. Have you no decency, sir?

Related: Ayn Rand – The Comic.

The Shock Doctrine 1: The Erased World

by matttbastard

Introduction: Blank is Beautiful

Three decades of erasing and remaking the world

The Shock Doctrine opens with a quote from the Book of Genesis, chapter 6, verse 11:

Now the Earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.  And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the rest of the earth.

(Creative) destruction in order to cleanse the world of corruption.

What happens when neoliberal economic theory is applied–in many cases through violent, often horrific coercion? Naomi Klein begins her best-selling chronicle of  capitalist Utopianism run amok in post-Katrina Louisiana, where Milton Friedman, revolutionary evangelist of coolly amoral free market fundamentalism, sees an opportunity in Katrina’s destructive wake:

“[I]nstead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they then could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state.”

The result?

Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. Before Hurricane Katrina, the school board had run 123 public schools; now it just ran 4. Before the storm, there had been 7 charter schools in the city; now there were 31.

Klein refers to this sort of opportunistic, ideologically-motivated renewal project ‘disaster capitalism’, noting that, over the past several decades, “Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.”

Shock.

It’s a theme Klein continually examines and reexamines throughout the book–and not simply  in a metaphorical sense, as I will discuss further in later installments.

What stood out most for me in the introduction was how effectively Klein weaves together seemingly disparate strands of neoliberal economics, US foreign policy, and experimental psychology into a coherent thesis.  She manages to avoid the logical inconsistencies of conspiracy theory,  meticulously spreading the foundation for her thesis and taking advantage of her background as an investigative journalist to provide ample support for her contentions.

A few minor quibbles aside (The Cato Insitute is not a ‘neoconservative’ think tank, as Klein dubs it, but, rather, a right-leaning libertarian organization that, contrary to her insinuations, opposed the war in Iraq), the introduction provides both an expansive overview of the themes Klein will explore more in depth in subsequent chapters and an inspiring call-to-arms for those of us who have looked on in horror at the wreckage (both psychological and physical) that has been left behind after decades of neoliberal shock therapy.

If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out Sarah’s first post–and, please, don’t hesitate to offer your own thoughts, opinions, and observations in comments.  We want this to be an interactive dialogue, and look forward over the coming weeks to having you all read along with us.

Next week: The Torture Lab: Ewan Cameron, the CIA and the maniacal quest to erase and remake the human mind

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

On Medical Procedures and Limited Choices

by matttbastard

Via Lauren @ Feministe, WaPo looks at the difficulty US med students face if they want to seek out abortion training:

She had joined Medical Students for Choice, an abortion education group with chapters on 135 U.S. campuses, as soon as she arrived at Maryland. The nation’s abortion doctors were graying, and unless a new generation took their place, the right to abortion might be rendered meaningless. Lesley imagined herself being part of that new generation. But would her support for abortion translate into action?

“I won’t know until I’m faced with doing it, but I think I would absolutely be able to provide [abortions],” she said. “It’s walk the walk, instead of talk the talk. I want my actions to be consistent with my words.”

How medical students choose to become abortion providers is in some ways no different from how they choose to become cardiac surgeons or pediatric neurologists. They explore the specialty and test themselves in it, finding some connection to a patient or a mentor that ignites their passion. Except for one difference: Medical students must explore abortion largely on their own.

Thirty-five years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, any mention of abortion is rare in the first three or four years of medical school, when students must zero in on a specialty and eventually apply for residency training. Even in Maryland, where about 61 percent of voters approved a referendum guaranteeing abortion in 1992 and which has the fourth-highest abortion rate in the country, abortion is not taught in any formal lectures at the state’s flagship medical school. The subject is viewed as too controversial, despite the fact that, according to the nonprofit National Center for Health Statistics, abortion remains among the most common surgical procedures for reproductive-age women. Nevertheless, many people, including some of Lesley’s friends, believe abortion is the murder of an unborn child and should not be legal, much less taught to future doctors.

Make sure to read the whole damn thing.  As Lauren aptly points out, “a lack of doctors willing and able to perform the procedure will render the right to abortion meaningless.” And, as previously noted, the situation isn’t much better here in the Great White North.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (Med School Edition)

by matttbastard

Star-Tribune columnist Charles Quimby on how access to abortion in the US isn’t just being threatened by anti-choice legislative measures:

I don’t have firm statistics, but I would say most of the physicians providing abortion services in Minnesota today are my contemporaries or older. That is, people who experienced the days of illegal abortion and the complications that ensued. That is, doctors within a decade of retirement. The late Dr. Jane Hodgson, who tested Minnesota’s law by deliberately performing an illegal abortion in 1970, continued to perform abortions until age 76, traveling from St. Paul to Duluth, because doctors there would not. She was born in 1915 and reached reproductive maturity about the year nearly 2,700 women in America died from reported self-induced or illegal abortions.

Most of the subsequent generations of doctors, including those who completed OB-GYN residencies in the early ’80s who will soon be leaving practice, received no training in terminating pregnancies, and the attitude in medical schools still seems to be “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Residents who want to learn about the full range of women’s health issues are free to arrange their own training, if they can find someone to provide it. The barriers don’t just involve learning medical procedures that are not mentioned in class; there are also issues about malpractice coverage and getting institutional approval.

Today’s medical residents were born in post-Reagan America, went to college in during the Rehnquist/Scalia era and have only known a post-Roe existence. Faced with roadblocks in their already stressful training regimens, even strongly prochoice residents may not pursue this on their own.

Meanwhile, practicing physicians who believe in choice may advise patients about all their options in handling a pregnancy, but they aren’t going to provide all the options — especially without having the training. But also because of outright harassment, fear of bad publicity or concern for their family’s safety, they have quietly decided to let reproductive freedom become not just the patient’s decision, but the patient’s problem.

As they say, read the whole goddamn thing.

Related: Via Vicky Saporta, Pamela Pizarro examines how the “lack of trained abortion providers in Canada is huge problem and is keeping women in our country from accessing adequate sexual and reproductive health services”:

When you consider that up to 40% of women will have an abortion during their life time, it is astonishing that the abortion procedure is not required to be taught in any medical school curricula. In fact in a study conducted by Medical Students for Choice, 40% of 50 schools that they surveyed “do not teach any aspect of abortion in the pre-clinical years.”

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Amusement For Gigi

by matttbastard

(h/t boomgate for the vid)

Via Jack Stephens and Amardeep Singh, Richard Nisbett and Malcolm Gladwell attempt to untie the always-knotty debate surrounding IQ fundamentalism, hereditarian bigotry and race.

Money quote courtesy Gladwell:

To say that Dutch I.Q. scores rose substantially between 1952 and 1982 was another way of saying that the Netherlands in 1982 was, in at least certain respects, much more cognitively demanding than the Netherlands in 1952. An I.Q., in other words, measures not so much how smart we are as how modern we are

Oh, and I’m having a good schadenfreude-laced larf over the Princeton librul hate crime hoax, from which Canadian Cynic divines the following rock-solid truism: “If David Horowitz is saying it, you know it’s a lie.”

QEmotherfuckingD.

h/t Chet Scoville.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Slacker Friday: “Islamophobia Promotion Week”; Breast Cancer Is Sexier (And More Marketable) Than Domestic Violence UPDATED 10.27

by matttbastard

Earlier this year, the upstanding, freedom-loving folks at FrontPage magazine and the Terrorism Awareness Project proudly announced that, from Oct 22-28th, that ever-so-lovable wing-nutty Islamophobe modern-day Cassandra, David Horowitz, would valiantly and courageously shine the spotlight on the evil evilness of stupid neologismsIslamo-Fascism” in a surge of Islamophobic idiocy Horowitz cleverly dubbed Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Apparently this existentially-threatening scourge is being unwittingly enabled–nay, directly and deliberately aided and abetted–by *gasp* stateside liberalpinkosocialistfeminazi fifth columnists like Michael Moore (who is fat and Communist), in concert with “THE ANTI-AMERICAN CURRICULUM OF THE TENURED LEFT [sic] which teaches that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialist “Great Satan” whose little Eichmanns deserve what they get at the hands of Medieval religious fanatics armed with the latest technologies of death.”

Be still my Merika-hatin’ heart.

According to Hatewatch, Horowitz has been “traveling to American university campuses to attack those who criticize the “War on Terror” and — parenthetically — those who see global warming as a major world threat.” Global Warming?! Yeah, betcha didn’t know Osama and Al Gore were homeboys; reportedly they bonded years ago over a shared interest in hatin’ ur Americaz and a deep, abiding affection for the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers.

(No word on whether BNP head honcho Nick Griffin’s recent campus speaking tour was at all affiliated with Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, nor whether Griffin also decided to throw in some superfluous anti-climate change propaganda just for the hell of it.)

Alas, as the folks at Sadly, No! pointed out back in late September, Horowitz has nagging issues reconciling paranoid bigotry and eliminationist rhetoric with the deadliest weapon in the fifth column’s arsenal: reality.

Goddamn facts – how maddeningly inconvenient.

More: Channelling Tom Lehrer, Kieren Healy of Crooked Timber has penned a tribute in verse to honour these brave warriorz 4 freedumz; Josh Marshall of TPM provides a tongue-in-cheek investigative video report on David Horowitz and Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Also check out this statement from Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, which accuses Horowitz and co. of adopting “a calculated strategy to inflame fear of Muslims and ultimately to soften up the American public to support the next assault in the “War on Terror:” war against Iran” (gee, ya think?) Oh, and you know this week-long exercise in excruciating eliminationist hysteria is a bust when even Uncle Jimbo sez Horowitz’s anti-Sharia sideshow “sucked Hoover.”

[Update: Oh hell no - he didn't just go there, did he? Watch the footage, then check this instant-classic post Mandolin wrote earlier this year. To paraphrase, criticism !=nooses.]

[Update 2 - 10.27: Chet Scoville believes that tactics like those utilized by the students @ Emory only play into the hands of professional martyrs like Horowitz:

...these sorts of protests worked well forty years ago, when neither the media nor political figures knew what to do about them. Now they know; they have the skill to spin them and fit them into their own narratives. The way to disrupt their message is to do something that doesn't fit their narratives -- like emptying the campus for a day and having them speak to an empty auditorium. Now that would have made for crappy footage, and it wouldn't have been shown.]

Related: In case y’all weren’t aware, some of the Islamophobes are apparently down with teh Belgian racist right, to the (dubiously admirable) consternation of LGF head honcho Charles Johnson, who isn’t quite ready to make a logical ideological progression. Still, good old fashioned non-Islamic fascism seems to be a-ok with Pamela Geller, Paul Weyrich and Co. (even Roger Scruton…? Jesus), as long as teh Brownshirts from Brussels feign mad love for teh j00s and pay lip-service to the Holocaust (oh, and most importantly, phear teh Muslims)

Talk about the ultimate marriage of convenience.

[Update 3 - 10.27: Oooo, the spat between Johnson and Geller is gettin' good /popcorn

To quoth D. Aristophanes, "When Johnson actually addressed a topic other than the latest truck backfiring in Damascus, it was as if he had suddenly ripped an IV from his arm that had been pumping 9/11 freakout juice into his veins for the past six years." Hell, Johnson unequivocally effing OWNS here.  And now I'm going to go wait for the inevitable collapse of the known universe.]

Elsewhere:

- Lucinda Marshall, founder of the indispensable, superlative Feminist Peace Network, has a must-read article up @ AlterNet detailing how women’s magazines use breast cancer as a cheap marketing ploy–while domestic violence against women receives little focus:

October means falling leaves, ghosts and goblins, and pink, lots of Pepto-Pink as we observe National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). From Campbell’s Soup to Breast Cancer Barbie, it seems as if just about everyone has jumped on the pinkified bandwagon. And although October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), we’d much rather be aware of breasts, even sick ones, than talk about black eyes and things that aren’t supposed to go on behind closed doors. That point is reflected in women’s magazines, which devote much more space in their October issues to breast cancer than they do to domestic violence.

Of nine publications that I recently found on a grocery store magazine rack, all of which advertised breast cancer articles on the covers of their October issues, only two also contained coverage of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (and mentioned that on their covers).* And, what’s worse, of the coverage dedicated to breast cancer, much of it was offensive, superficial, misleading, or flat-out wrong.

This year there is even called Beyond Breast Cancer that cheerfully proclaims that there are “10 Good Things About Breast Cancer.” Who knew? And just what are the pluses of getting this dreaded disease? According to the bubblegum-colored magazine, one perk is a pair of new boobs that “will face the horizon, not the South Pole.’ Better yet, they will be paid for by insurance. Oh, and you get lots of cards and flowers.

[...]

While it is questionable that additional awareness of breast cancer is useful, in the case of domestic violence, more coverage would be helpful. Domestic violence is the most common type of violence experienced by women both globally and in the United States. The Family Violence Prevention Fund reports that one out of every three women worldwide is “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.” Here in the United States, the rate is one in four. In 2005 (the latest year for which statistics are available), 976 women in the United States were killed by by men that they knew. Yet because we tend to see this violence as a private, shameful issue, only 20 percent of rapes and 25 percent of physical assaults against women in this country are reported to the police.

Related:

stop_violence.jpg

  • Be bold, be brave, be red. Wear red on October 31, 2007. Take a picture or video of yourself and friends wearing red. Send it to: beboldbered@gmail.com. We’ll post it!
  • Take Your Red to the Streets! Know of a location where violence occurred against a woman of color? Have a public location where you feel women of color are often ignored? Make violence against women of color visible by decorating the space in red. Be sure to send us pictures and or video of your display!
  • Rally! Gather your friends, family, and community to rally. Check out the Document the Silence website for the litany we’re asking participants to read together on October 31st. Be sure to send us pictures and/or video of the event! You could even gather where you created a display!

More details on how you can participate @ Document the Silence.

(h/t FPN and The Thin Black Duke)

- Dana @ The Galloping Beaver on cognitive dissonance and Afghanistan:

At the same time Rickie is saying 10 more years and Stevie is saying 4 more years there is a former United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from Great Britain who says, “We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely.”

And on the same day Britain’s most senior armed forces leader, Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup said: “There is a common misperception that the issues in Afghanistan, and indeed elsewhere around the world, can be dealt with by military means. That’s a false perception.”

Regardless of how long is deemed necessary to delay the inevitable (perhaps close to 40 years, according to Brigadier John Lorimer, commander of UK forces in Helmand), the wide gap between Hilliar’s estimate on how long it will take to train Afghan security forces and that of the PMO is indicative of just how desperate the effort to maintain the illusion of progress has become for the Stephen Harper Party.

Dave @ TGB:

The fact is, Hillier’s assessment is believable because it’s based on the current metrics. Whether the ANA kandaks being trained by the Canadian Army are, in fact, “top-notch” doesn’t really enter the picture. What is true is that it takes three years to train a single Afghan infantry battalion and we’re only half-way there. That doesn’t even take into account that the ANA has virtually nothing in the way of combat support and logistical support elements. Adding those in would make Hillier’s assessment optimistic.

Hillier has forwarded something which the Harperites know will cause Canadians to balk: the idea of war-without-end. If the ANA is unable to deal with security situation in Afghanistan on its own, the dismal picture being presented is that Canadian troops will continue to be involved in the same kind of asymmetrical warfare they are now engaged in and will continue to suffer losses – unless we can convince other allies to take on that part of the mission – even for a while.

- Antigone Magazine updates Uncle Steve’s ongoing war on the Canadian womens movement and offers the following defiant postscript:

After publishing this post I realized that there was something that I forgot to add. Ah, yes…. They can take away our funding but they can’t take away our feminisms! (and the political pie will wind up on their face!). That was my idea of a war cry. Let it reverberate through the blog0sphere!

PREACH!

- Last but definitely not least, please extend a warm welcome to the newest member of the bastard.logic family, the inimitable sassywho, who has graciously agreed to help expand our humble crime-fighting trio to a more-foreboding quartet. Check out her intro post and first three offerings and feel free to show her some comment love–or, conversely, level baseless accusations of hatin’ teh babiez. Hey, c’mon now – we here at bastard.logic absolutely adore pre-bornz – especially marinaded overnight in brown-sugar hickory sauce, grilled lightly on both sides and served on a bed of wild rice garnished with fresh cilantro.

On that note, dinner.

Happy Friday!

Recommend this post @ Progressive Bloggers

Welcome Back (To Reality)

by matttbastard

Via Fern Hill @ Birth Pangs: we here at bastard.logic also love New York:

The Bush administration’s Abstinence Only Program is an example of a failed national health-care policy directive, based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public health-care policy.

I believe this is what is commonly known as a “moment of clarity”. Of course, the usual suspects are demonstratively calling for a waahmbulance. Hey, I’ve got the first 25 pennies covered if someone else wants to pony up the other half.

Side note: am I the only one who regularly mistakes Leslee Unrah for Leslie Uggams?

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers