Sunday, October 16, 2016

Last Call For The Master Debaters

Saturday Night Live. That is all. See you guys Monday.

The Paper Trail

The Arizona Republic recently endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, and the response from Trump supporters has been nothing short of death threats against the paper and its supporters for doing so. The paper's publisher and president, Mi-Ai Parrish, responds to the community about the threats made against the paper and herself, specifically:
To those of you who have said Jesus will judge me, that you hope I burn in hell, that non-Christians should be kept out of our country, I give you my pastor grandfather. He was imprisoned and tortured for being a Christian, and suffered the murder of his best friend for also refusing to deny Christ. He taught all that freedom of religion is a fragile and precious thing.

Much as my grandfather taught, I also know there are a lot of things worth standing up for.

To those of you who said we should go live with the immigrants we love so much, and who threatened violence against people who look or speak a different way, I give you Jobe Couch.

He was the Army cultural attache and Alabama professor who sponsored my aunts and my mother when they arrived in America from Korea after World War II. There are dozens of descendants of his kindness. Citizens with college degrees, a dentist, lawyers, engineers, pastors, teachers, business owners, a Marine, a publisher and more. Uncle Jobe stood for the power of America as a melting pot. He taught me that one kind man can make a difference.

To all the other people who we heard from, who thanked us for our courage and our bravery, or who were bold enough to disagree with us on principle — the people who didn’t threaten to bomb our homes or harm our families — I have something for you, too. To you, I give my gratitude. I’m grateful that you stood up to say that we live in a better world when we exchange ideas freely, fairly, without fear.

To all of you who asked why we endorsed — or what right we had to do so — I give you my mother. She grew up under an occupying dictatorship, with no right to an education, no free press, no freedom of religion, no freedom to assemble peaceably, no right to vote. No right to free speech. She raised a journalist who understood not to take these rights for granted.

Don Bolles and Nina Pulliam are gone now, and Uncle Jobe is, too.

But the journalists I introduced you to here walk into the newsroom every day to do their jobs.

When they do, they pass by an inscription that fills an entire wall, floor to ceiling. It is 45 words long. It is an idea that is in my thoughts a lot these days.

It is the First Amendment.

For those of you playing at home, the First Amendment says this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It's held up for quite some time, frankly.  And it has because of people like Mi-An Parrish.  By the way, Don Bolles, the Republic reporter that Parrish referenced?  Killed by a car bomb 40 years ago for what many believed was for following a story on organized crime.

Violence against the media in America is nothing new, folks.  But a presidential candidate and his supporters openly calling for it over an endorsement of a political opponent?  That's pretty much beyond the pale, even for this country's bloody history.

Sunday Long Read: A Tortured Existence

Yet another reason Donald Trump can never be allowed to be in the White House: he would bring back Bush-era "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be used freely on suspects.  You know, legalized torture by the CIA.  Turns out that even years later, the folks the Bushies wrongfully accused and detained are still suffering the effects.

Before the United States permitted a terrifying way of interrogating prisoners, government lawyers and intelligence officials assured themselves of one crucial outcome. They knew that the methods inflicted on terrorism suspects would be painful, shocking and far beyond what the country had ever accepted. But none of it, they concluded, would cause long lasting psychological harm.

Fifteen years later, it is clear they were wrong.

Today in Slovakia, Hussein al-Marfadi describes permanent headaches and disturbed sleep, plagued by memories of dogs inside a blackened jail. In Kazakhstan, Lutfi bin Ali is haunted by nightmares of suffocating at the bottom of a well. In Libya, the radio from a passing car spurs rage in Majid Mokhtar Sasy al-Maghrebi, reminding him of the C.I.A. prison where earsplitting music was just one assault to his senses.

And then there is the despair of men who say they are no longer themselves. “I am living this kind of depression,” said Younous Chekkouri, a Moroccan, who fears going outside because he sees faces in crowds as Guantánamo Bay guards. “I’m not normal anymore.”

After enduring agonizing treatment in secret C.I.A. prisons around the world or coercive practices at the military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, dozens of detainees developed persistent mental health problems, according to previously undisclosed medical records, government documents and interviews with former prisoners and military and civilian doctors. Some emerged with the same symptoms as American prisoners of war who were brutalized decades earlier by some of the world’s cruelest regimes.

Those subjected to the tactics included victims of mistaken identity or flimsy evidence that the United States later disavowed. Others were foot soldiers for the Taliban or Al Qaeda who were later deemed to pose little threat. Some were hardened terrorists, including those accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks or the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole. In several cases, their mental status has complicated the nation’s long effort to bring them to justice.

Americans have long debated the legacy of post-Sept. 11 interrogation methods, asking whether they amounted to torture or succeeded in extracting intelligence. But even as President Obama continues transferring people from Guantánamo and Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, promises to bring back techniques, now banned, such as waterboarding, the human toll has gone largely uncalculated.

At least half of the 39 people who went through the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation” program, which included depriving them of sleep, dousing them with ice water, slamming them into walls and locking them in coffin-like boxes, have since shown psychiatric problems, The New York Times found. Some have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, depression or psychosis.

Hundreds more detainees moved through C.I.A. “black sites” or Guantánamo, where the military inflicted sensory deprivation, isolation, menacing with dogs and other tactics on men who now show serious damage. Nearly all have been released.

It's important to realize two things: one, as I said before that this was done in our name and that Trump as president has vowed to bring these inhuman practices back, and two, President Obama stopped these from happening when he took office.

This is part of what "voting for Clinton to continue Obama's legacy" means.

The Orange Martyrs Brigade, Con't

I used to joke about the "coming purge of America" by Trump's furious supporters in their senior mobility devices and their diesel flareside pickups with Confederate flag gun racks.

Nobody should be laughing anymore after this weekend, especially here in the Cincinnati area.

Anger and hostility were the most overwhelming sentiments at a Trump rally in Cincinnati last week, a deep sense of frustration, an us-versus-them mentality, and a belief that they are part of an unstoppable and underestimated movement. Unlike many in the country, however, these hard-core Trump followers do not believe the real estate mogul’s misfortunes are of his own making.

They believe what Trump has told them over and over, that this election is rigged, and if he loses, it will be because of a massive conspiracy to take him down.

At a time when trust in government is at a low point, Trump is actively stoking fears that a core tenet of American democracy is also in peril: that you can trust what happens at the ballot box.

His supporters here said they plan to go to their local precincts to look for illegal immigrants who may attempt to vote. They are worried that Democrats will load up buses of minorities and take them to vote several times in different areas of the city. They’ve heard rumors that boxes of Clinton votes are already waiting somewhere.

And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even openly talking about violent rebellion and assassination, as fantastical and unhinged as that may seem.

If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.”

He then placed a Trump mask on his face and posed for pictures.

The thing is we all know someone like Dan Bowman.  And we should be now asking ourselves just how serious he is.

There's a reason I'm not sporting Clinton/Kaine bumper stickers.  It's because the people I work with are sporting III-percenter, Molon Labe, and Blue Lives Matter flags.  And Trump stickers.

I'm a big guy.  I'm not Luke Cage. I'm not bulletproof by any means. If somebody at work or around town decides to take offense at my support of Democrats here, really decides to take offense, well I end up a hashtag and it really won't be long before FOX News discovers my blog, huh.

Guys like Dan Bowman want me to be scared.  You'd be absolutely foolish not to be when you hear about a man openly bragging at a political rally about starting a bloody coup should that politician's opponent win.

But I'm going to vote anyway, because it's my duty to do so.  It's literally the least I can do in order to maintain the America I want to live in. I'm doing it because the people who should be most vocally against Trump, the Republican party voters who should be horrified at this, are silent and complicit.

I will not be.


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