365 Ways to Exasperate a Liberal: #71 to #80
At the beginning of 2011, Irregular Times began to be barraged with e-mail blasts sent out by the ultra-conservative website Human Events and the fraudulent trading office Stansberry & Associates on behalf of author James Delingpole. Every day since January 1 2011, we’ve received an advertisement for Delingpole’s book, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy, in the form of one of his “Crazy” methods every day. When Delingpole isn’t praying for God to kill Barack Obama or misquoting Al Gore, he’s making “Oreo” jokes that smart black people are white on the inside, and defending the Crusades as “entirely reasonable.”
Amidst his numerous errors of fact and judgment, James Delingpole gets one thing right: his messages are very annoying. They’re so annoying that they’ve prodded us into a response. And so we’ve pledged this year to identify 365 ways to drive liberals crazy, writing from the point of view of liberals who find themselves exasperated more often than not. If you really want to know how to exasperate a liberal, after all, why not go directly to the source?
You can find our list growing toward 365 Ways to Exasperate a Liberal as a thread on the front page of Irregular Times. To add some variety to our presentation, we’ve assembled this list of 10 liberal frustrations on a single page. They are our 71st through our 80th Ways to Exasperate a Liberal:
71. Take Away America’s Moral Authority
Back in 2005, the Libyan Ambassador to the United States was asked on a radio show how he could possibly justify his nation’s poor human rights record. He didn’t answer the question. Instead, he simply replied, “Well, your nation has Guantanamo, so I don’t know why you are even asking me that question.” When the United States government shortcuts human rights and treats its own Constitution as a suggestion rather than a constraint on the exercise of power, it becomes very difficult for the United States to exercise its moral authority in relations with other nations. Until we return to the rule of law and rid ourselves of our gulag archipelago, we can expect to hear the Libyan ambassador’s line used over and over and over and over again. Our excesses enable the excesses of dictators abroad, delaying reform all over the world. (Source: The Connection, May 20, 2005)
72. Turn Partisan Differences into “Threats”
In the middle of the presidency of George W. Bush, 19 year old Steven Gerner was prevented from attending a taxpayer-funded “town hall” meeting on social security privatization featuring George W. Bush at the Tucson Convention Center. Gerner had a ticket to the event, was waiting in an orderly manner in line, and had no disruptive intentions. But regardless of that, he was identified as a “potential threat” to Homeland Security and yanked out of line by the authorities.
What made him a “potential threat?” He was wearing a t-shirt that said “Young Democrats” on it. (Source: Tucson Citizen, May 2005; Arizona Daily Wildcat March 2005)
73. Turn a Sushi Trip into a Prosecutable Offense
Alexander Dunlop, a native New Yorker, left his home to go out and get sushi in 2005 – and got arrested by NYC police protecting the Republican presidential convention from peaceful protesters. Why?
Well, the police said that Alexander Dunlop was being violent and resisting arrest. However, it turns out that videotape that the police themselves submitted as evidence was fraudulently edited before it reached the courthouse. A complete version of the videotape that was found later does not show Dunlop engaged in any protest, much less any illegal acts, and it shows that when the police came to grab Dunlop off the sidewalk, he cooperated fully and in a peaceful manner. In fact, the police officer who claims to have arrested Dunlop is shown to have not even been there.
Consider what the New York City Police had to do in order to deliver their false testimony:
1. New York City police officers grabbed an innocent man just walking down the sidewalk in his own home town and arrested him;
2. The police officers who arrested him, and the four or five other police officers on the scene, would have had to agree to submit a false arrest report declaring that another officer, not even present, made the arrest;
3. Another police officer, not on the scene, would have had to cooperated with the police officers on the scene to create the fraudulent arrest report, to certify that he was there and that he saw Alexander Dunlop breaking the law and violently resisting arrest;
4. New York City police officers would have had to tamper with evidence, cooperating with each other and bringing in the people in charge of collecting, organizing and storing evidence, in order to edit out the parts of the videotape that exonerated Alexander Dunlop;
5. All those New York City police officers would have had to meet and agree on the false testimony that would be given in court.
Now consider that the Alexander Dunlop case is not an isolated incident. 400 other people arrested during the Republican presidential convention have been exonerated by videotape showing that police reports of their arrests were not truthful. That five step conspiracy between New York City police officers was documented hundreds of times over during the convention. Think about the number of arrests that weren’t caught on video and you have an idea of the scope of the problem. (Source: New York Times, April, 12, 2005)
74. Fight a War to End Torture that Doesn’t End Torture
“People are no longer disappearing into political prisons, torture chambers, and mass graves” – President George W. Bush speech on Iraq, May 1 2004
Recent interviews by Human Rights Watch of more than a dozen former detainees from Camp Honor had documented how detainees are held incommunicado and in inhumane conditions, often for months at a time. Detainees described in detail the wide ranging abuses they endured during interrogation sessions at the facility, usually to extract false confessions. They said interrogators beat them, hung them upside down for hours at a time, administered electric shocks to various body parts, including the genitals, and asphyxiated them repeatedly with plastic bags put over their heads until they passed out.
In interviews with Human Rights Watch in December, former detainees described the abuse at Camp Honor:
One detainee said on December 26 that: “The cell was so crowded that we had to take turns standing and lying down, and would try to let someone lie down if they were an old man, or especially if they had just been brought back from interrogation. Then we usually could not stand.”
Another said on December 18 that: “I was blindfolded and put on the floor, face-down with my hands tied tightly behind my back. The interrogator stepped on my arms, and put more and more weight down on them until I was screaming.”
A third detainee, who had been held in Camp Honor the summer of 2010, said in a December 27 interview that: “My hands were tied over my head and my feet were put in water, then they shocked me in my head and my neck and my chest. The interrogators beat me repeatedly and told me that they would go to my house and rape my sister if I did not sign a confession, so I did. I did not even know what I was confessing to.”
WMD? None. Stopping torture? Not so much. What’s left to justify the Iraq misadventure?
75. Criminalize T-Shirts
The trend toward criminalizing political views in public places has really taken off since 2001. Consider, for instance, the arrest of Stephen Downs in New York state in 2003. His crime? Refusing to take off a T-shirt reading “Give Peace A Chance” that he had just purchased at the mall.
“I was in the food court with my son when I was confronted by two security guards and ordered to either take off the T-shirt or leave the mall,” said Downs.
When Downs refused the security officers’ orders, police from the town of Guilderland were called and he was arrested and taken away in handcuffs, charged with trespassing “in that he knowingly enter(ed) or remain(ed) unlawfully upon premises,” the complaint read.
This incident didn’t happen in isolation. Reacting to the arrest, Southpoint Mall in North Carolina reiterated its no-peace-messages-in-our-mall policy, only backing down when a large group of irked Americans gathered at the mall, wearing various shirts with political messages on them and daring police to arrest them for it. (Source: Reuters, March 4 2003)
76. Dump that whole “No Religious Test” thing
On the campaign trail in 2007, Mitt Romney made the remark that “We need to have a person of faith lead the country.” But Article Six of the United States Constitution states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The constitutionally-mandated oath of office requires that the president make the following pledge: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
When a mainstream Republican politician makes a stand against the United States Constitution while running for the job of defending the United States Constitution, it’s time to wade out and find another stream. (Source: The Sunday Times, May 13 2007)
77. See Innocent People in a Cloak of Danger
To consider the dangers that obsession with security from outsiders can lead to, remember Jean Charles de Menezes. Jean Charles de Menezes was a Brazilian who was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder by an anti-terrorist squad in London. Was de Menezes a terrorist? No. He was just an ordinary guy on the street who had done nothing wrong. He was only running to catch a train, but that was enough for police to shoot him dead in his tracks.
Original police reports claimed that Jean Charles de Menezes was wearing a bulky heavy coat on a hot summer day, a coat that could have hidden a bomb. Actually, in spite of heated news reports, that day in London was not really hot. It was only 70 degrees out. But, this morning, we learn that Jean Charles de Menezes was not wearing a bulky coat when he was shot by police. He was wearing a relatively thin jeans jacket. His family has shown to police that Jean Charles de Menezes did not even own a bulky coat of the kind he was accused of wearing.
British police and the mainstream media reported as fact that Jean Charles de Menezes jumped a ticket turnstile after being told to stop and stand still by police. Later, the world learned there actually never was any evidence that de Menezes did so. The police just said so – like they said he was connected to the earlier bombings in the Underground. There was no evidence of any crime by de Menezes, just a load of empty assertions the police used to cover their butts after pumping seven bullets into the brain of an innocent man. The only crime of Jean Charles de Menezes is that he had brown skin.
When a nation allows itself to be consumed by fears that terrorists might be anywhere, innocent people are the pieces of the nation that get consumed. (Source: The Guardian, July 28 2005)
78. Defend Free Speech for Corporations but Not for Students
In June of 2007, the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court established under President George W. Bush made a series of decisions selectively devaluing the First Amendment. In a pair of decisions, the right wing justices on the Supreme Court decided that corporations have more of a right to free speech than high school students.
In one case, Morse et al. v. Frederick, dealing with the free speech rights of American high school students, Chief Justice John Roberts declared, “the constitutional rights of students in public school are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings.” But when it came to the idea of the free speech of corporations, Chief Justice Roberts argued that “where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.”
Although he stated that student status in a high school deprives an American citizen of his or her constitutionally-guaranteed right to free speech, Justice Roberts was unwilling to accept a similar restriction in the case of corporations, entities that are not American citizens but have the hypothetical status of inhuman individuals. In his opinion on the second case, Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Incorporated, Justice Roberts wrote, “the corporate identity of a speaker does not strip corporations of all free speech rights.”
Justice Roberts worries little about the educational and civic impact of high schools that censor open speech on public issues. However, he quavers at the prospect of any censorship of corporations, quoting the majority opinion in the case Thornhill v. Alabama: “Freedom of discussion, if it would fulfill its historic function in this nation, must embrace all issues about which information is needed or appropriate to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of their period.” Apparently, Justice Roberts believes that it is more important that corporations be able to speak on “on all issues about which information is needed or appropriate” than it is for students to do so. (Sources: Slip Opinion, Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Incorporated; Slip Opinion, Morse et al. v. Frederick)
79. Make Opposition to Torture an Unelectable Position
Back in 2005, a bill called H.R. 952 was introduced to the floor of the House of Representatives. H.R. 952 was written simply and exactly to end the Bush administration’s practice of “extraordinary rendition,” in which people are sent abroad by the American government to be tortured by other governments. The bill never passed. Heck, it never even came to a full vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. In all the years since then, no bill has ever passed to outlaw the export of people to be tortured abroad. Why? Members of Congress were thinking more about how to be “electable” than how to fulfill their oath of office, to uphold the Constitution. (Source: Thomas database of the Library of Congress)
80. Prioritize Your Own Ass Over Americans’ Safety, and Prioritize Both Above Freedom
After it came to light that President George W. Bush had authorized an illegal and unconstitutional program of surveillance without warrants, Bush demanded the passage of a bill called the FISA Amendments Act that granted him and the phone companies who had cooperated with him legal immunity from prosecution. Senator Edward Kennedy skewered Bush’s rhetoric on the subject in a speech to the Senate on December 17, 2007:
Think about what we’ve been hearing from the White House in this debate. The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity. No immunity, no new FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he is willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.
People did not have to die if the FISA Amendments Act is not passed; all the Bush administration needed for a wiretap was to supply a court with a warrant — that is, to have a good reason. But the Bush administration wanted to spy on Americans when it didn’t have a reason. And it should not have been surprising to hear the Bush administration rhetorically prioritize corporate interests over human lives. After all, one corporation can do so much to prop up a Republican politician; in comparison, the monetary contributions of the average American are utterly insignificant. (Source: Speech of Senator Edward Kennedy to the United States Senate, December 17, 2007)