Cheney 101

I’m watching Cheney’s Law right now, since the Sox game prevented me from watching the initial airing, and so far it’s fantastic, there will absolutely be full posting on it in the afternoon. But while I’m watching, I think it’s a good idea to provide y’all with some background on Cheney and his influence. After all, a true ninja can not achieve victory without first knowing the battlefield.

First, the Unitary Executive Theory. This is the basis, the legal wellspring of every move Cheney et al has made toward increasing executive powers. Here’s how it works. A number of lawyers working for Attorney General Edwin Meese, back in the Reagan years, were asked to find a legal basis for pushing back against the renewed Congressional powers that came about after Watergate and the investigations of the Church Committee. Their conclusion was that the Constitution gave the President total control over the entire Executive Branch, free of any restraint by either Congress or the courts. They cited as their central piece of evidence Federalist #70, in which Alexander Hamilton argued for a unified executive.

Now, to anyone reading the piece without an agenda, Hamilton was explaining why having one President was a better idea than having, for example, a Roman-style triumvirate, not why the United States should have a totally unaccountable executive. This didn’t seem to bother Meese’s lawyers. Now those same lawyers, and their disciples, are in charge. So we have the Administration’s top lawyers, clinging to the basic Nixonian principle that (to quote the man himself) “When the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal.”

Second, the “signing statement.” We all remember our basic lessons on how a bill becomes a law, right? If not, take a moment below to refresh:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ[/youtube]

So Cheney’s boys have added another step to the process. After the President signs a law, he can attach a statement to said law, which lays out how (or whether) he plans to enforce it. For example, the McCain Amendment of 2006 (scroll down to SA 1977) prohibited “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” of anyone held in the custody of the U.S. Department of Defense. However, a signing statement attached to said bill made it clear that the President has the right to ignore that ban entirely if, in his judgment, the defense of the nation requires it. Fun, right? If we’re going to run the government this way, one begins to wonder why we need Congress at all.

The final thing we’ll go over is the idea of “Commander-in-Chief,” which is clearly central to Bush’s self-image. Article II of the Constitution declares that “the President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” Which means, despite his constant claims otherwise, that George W. Bush is not my Commander-in-Chief. He’s my President (not that I’m happy about it), but as I’m a civilian, thus not a member of either the Army or Navy, that’s all he is. So whenever someone tells you that you should believe the President, because he’s “our Commander-in-Chief,” then unless you’re a current member of the armed forces, they’re full of it. Why does the Administration use the term so often, then, you may ask. Because commanders aren’t accountable, whereas presidents, being elected representatives, are.

Sorry to turn an otherwise relaxed site into a lecture hall, but without this background, this week’s posts won’t be nearly as interesting. And the last thing I want to do is bore y’all into catatonia in my second week here. Till next time, folks.

12 Captains on the War

Unbelievably great op-ed in the Washington Post this morning. Following in the footsteps of their comrades who wrote for the New York Times a few months back, 12 former Army captains submitted an opinion piece outlining what they observed in their time in Iraq. Strangely, it’s a bit different from what their superior officers have been telling Congress.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It’s certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

It’s the way they conclude their piece, though, that’s most worthy of note:

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

This brings up one of the things that’s bugged me about the Iraq war (and for that matter the whole “Global War on Terror” concept) for a long time now. The Administration keeps telling us that the security of our nation depends on beating the terrorists, and on creating a stable, democratic Iraq. But they clearly don’t mean it.

If we’re in a war for our very survival, then where’s the $2-a-gallon tax on gasoline to finance increased security measures and shut off the flow of oil money to autocratic, terrorist-breeding governments in the Middle East? Where are the draft notices going out to conscript an Army big enough to actually secure a stable Iraq? Where’s the recruitment drive by the CIA to find American citizens who understand Middle Eastern languages and culture? Where’s the grand alliance of Western nations banding together against a common threat? Why didn’t any of this happen?

It’s certainly not because the country wasn’t willing. Hell, right after 9/11 people were practically falling over each other trying to figure out ways to band together and help out. So why the hell didn’t the Administration use that energy, that desire, and try to unite the country in solving this difficult problem?

Because they’re not interested in solving problems. Anytime a problem comes up, the modern GOP is interested in two things: (to quote one of Aaron Sorkin’s finer pieces) making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. “Sure, we could tap into one of our nation’s greatest strengths, its diverse immigrant population, and hire citizens of Arab descent to help our intelligence agencies, but instead, let’s just arrest a bunch of them for no reason. That way, we look like we’re rounding up terrorists, and when the Democrats protest, we can say they’re coddling bin Laden! It’s win-win!”

Alright, I think that should get a bit of cynicism out of my system for a while. In the meantime, this special is going to air tonight on PBS at 9 EDT, and then it’ll be online at www.pbs.org/frontline:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLz5Ja_pius[/youtube]

Once I catch it, I’ll definitely be posting about it. I have a feeling you’ll be reading a lot about Cheney and the “Unitary Executive Theory” around here in the next week.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.”

So right now Congress is fighting over whether to grant big telecom companies retroactive immunity to prosecution for having violated the privacy rights of millions of customers by allowing the government to spy on them. (Big campaign contributors and fear of terrorism vs. Constitutional principle… let’s see, who do we think will win that one?)

The newest salvo in the ongoing fight over whether the government should have the power to eavesdrop on anyone without a warrant comes to you below, from Fox News:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQgQRL4lXzA[/youtube]

Few things. First, here’s how FISA works, briefly. There are, as makes sense, three basic types of communication: domestic-domestic, which is covered by the 4th Amendment; foreign-foreign, which isn’t; and domestic-foreign, which is what FISA addresses. Effectively, it says that if the NSA, CIA, or any other intelligence-gathering service wishes to listen to calls, read e-mails, etc., that are going between someone inside the U.S. and someone outside the U.S., they need to obtain a warrant first. That’s it.

Now, there was a funky loophole in the law which became prominent as communications tech became more advanced. Namely, what happens if someone in Syria is talking to someone in Pakistan, but the call is routed through Michigan? It’s clearly a foreign-to-foreign call, but it’s also kind of domestic. So the law was amended recently to close that loophole. This makes sense, and despite what’s claimed toward the end of the clip, neither Silvestre Reyes nor any other prominent Democrats opposed the change. (Yes, Fox News, lying to its viewers, I too nearly died of shock.)

Anyway, I’ve a feeling we’re going to hear the tale of these dead soldiers a whole lot in the coming days, and a few things need to be clear. First, there’s a provision in FISA for emergencies. Since foreign intelligence gathering is, on occasion, time-sensitive, the government’s allowed to engage in surveillance without a warrant for up to 72 hours, as long as they then apply for one and can prove that there was no time to apply normally. “Three of our guys were just kidnapped and we need to find out where they are” would seem to qualify as an emergency. In fact, it did, the thing that held up the surveillance was that no one could find a high-ranking official at the Justice Dept. to sign off on it (what with half of them resigning either in protest or disgrace), not that “the law was cumbersome,” as is claimed in the clip.

Secondly, as I said earlier, the foreign-to-foreign-but-kinda-domestic loophole which was ever so slightly problematic in this situation (and I can’t stress this enough) has been fixed already. Not only that, but with overwhelming support from both parties, because it made sense to do so. So why would the GOP bring up this story now?

For the same reason they put a provision that hurt unions in the bill establishing the Homeland Security Department, waited until just before the ’02 election to vote on Iraq, and forced a vote on expanded surveillance powers just before Congress went on recess this summer. For the same reason that Saxby Chambliss put Max Cleland next to bin Laden, and Rudy Guiliani is running for President of 9/11. Because no matter how low their approval ratings may be, how outrageous the powers they’re asking for are, they’ve figured out that they can get whatever they want as long as they scare everyone into thinking that Americans will die if they don’t get their way.

Now they’re gearing up to do it again, and they’ll keep doing it. Unless. Unless we realize that fear makes us stupid, and remember that unwise decisions will only create more things that go bump in the night. We’ve done the fear thing for a few years now. Let’s give wisdom a shot, shall we?

A proud day for the Law

I should have posted on this a few days back, but a few days back I wasn’t writing here yet, so I hope y’all can excuse the delay.

supreme court

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court got handed the case of Khaled al-Masri, a German citizen who was suing the Administration. Now, why would a German citizen feel the need to sue the American government? Glad you asked. Turns out that in 2003, he was snatched by American agents, flown to a prison in Afghanistan, and held for a year as they interrogated him about his connections to terrorists. Turned out, of course, that he had none, and that our guys had been using their “enhanced interrogation techniques” (which totally aren’t torture, because only bad guys torture people, and we’re the good guys!) on an innocent man. Strangely enough, he’s a trifle annoyed about the situation, and decided to sue.

The case got all the way to the Supremes, who promptly decided that they wouldn’t bother to even hear the case, deferring to the Bush Administration’s claim that a public trial would expose “state secrets.” Two things came quickly to mind.

First, as far as “secrets” go… Presumably the secrets in question are the interrogation methods that were used on al-Masri, and the Administration’s claim is that if they’re revealed, terrorists will be able to prepare for them, thus thwarting our noble intelligence agents. Now, diligent journalism from all over the globe has already uncovered evidence of temperature manipulation, beatings, stress positions, sleep deprivation, religious and sexual degradation, and waterboarding. So the obvious question comes to mind: if this is already public, what sort of stuff are they doing that they think hasn’t been revealed? The mind simply boggles.

Second (and this is something I’d only just learned recently), the “state secrets” privilege in this country is based on a Supreme Court case from 1953. The families of several men who died in the crash of a test bomber sued to gain access to the accident report, in hopes of finding out what had happened to their loved ones. The government refused, claiming that releasing the report would expose important military secrets. It being the early years of the Cold War, the Court deferred to this claim and ruled against the families. Several years ago, the documents in question became public, and it turns out that there was nothing in them that could reasonably qualify as a legitimate military secret. It was the classic example of a government hiding a screwup behind the “Classified” stamp.

What this all means is pretty straightforward. The Court, by refusing to hear the case, has tacitly admitted that the government can kidnap a person, hold them against their will, subject them to treatment that any rational individual would consider torture, all without accusing them of a crime or allowing them access to counsel. And, if this person should by some miracle manage to exercise their basic rights and sue for redress, the government can simply conjure the all-purpose defense of “national security secrets” and get away with it.

magna carta

That’s the Magna Carta, the one worthwhile thing King John (yeah, the guy Robin Hood stole from) ever did. Among other things, it set down on paper the right of a citizen not to be arrested or imprisoned “except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” That was almost 800 years ago.

Good thing the Bush Administration is around to protect us from such quaint medieval notions. And even better that the pesky courts didn’t try to interfere. Because if they had, the terrorists would win, and we all know that the terrorists would take our freedom away.

GOP completes quest for the Holy Grail of Irony

“…we’re standing on our principle that poor kids ought to come first.”

Which prominent member of Congress said that this morning? Was it:

A. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, explaining the plan of House Democrats to keep pushing for an expansion of the S-CHIP program despite President Bush’s veto, or
B. House Minority Leader John Boehner, declaring his intention to support said veto?
It was, weirdly enough, B. Now, I’ve been following Republican doublespeak for a while now, but this may well set a new standard for absurdity. Follow the illogic with me, folks.

The United States, alone among the big industrial democracies, relies upon the private sector to provide healthcare to the majority of its citizens. (Read this for an amazing summary of the problems inherent in that system.) As a result, Americans pay about twice as much per capita for medical care than their Western European counterparts. Not all of us are left completely out to dry, however, as senior citizens are covered by Medicare and those who live below the federal poverty level ($20,650 a year for a family of four) are eligible for Medicaid.
However, as healthcare costs increase and wages remain constant, a growing number of families have found themselves in the unfortunate position of being “too wealthy” to qualify for Medicaid, but too poor to afford private coverage. Recognizing this problem, Congress enacted S-CHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) in 1997. What it does, in a nutshell, is extend Medicaid eligibility to children in families whose incomes lie above the poverty line, but below a certain threshold set by individual states.
So to review… This is a program which gives healthcare to children who would otherwise be unable to receive it. Its expansion would increase the number of children who get said healthcare by almost 4 million. And by supporting a veto that would prevent this bill from passing, John Boehner and his fellow Republicans are supporting “the principle that poor kids ought to come first.”

How on earth does someone say that without the irony causing their brain to explode?

More on this fight later, but I couldn’t let that quote go without some sort of comment.

Thank Odin the Nobels don’t have a butterfly ballot

As easy as it would be to make a bunch of parallels between tonight’s massive bed-crapping by the Sox bullpen and the performance of the Democratic majority in Congress since we voted them in, I think I’ll go a different route.

The media coverage of Al Gore’s Nobel win has been quite something to watch. For one thing, the American press seems blissfully unaware that Gore’s actually sharing the award with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Not surprising, really, since that would require them to know what said panel is, but it’d be nice if they could at least do the IPCC the courtesy of acknowledging their work. That’s not what’s been most fun, though. It’s been the focus on “does this mean Gore will take a shot at the Presidency again?” On the one hand, I’d love for him to try. He’s easily the most qualified person for the job; he’s got the long-term vision necessary to lead a superpower, and if nothing else, he clearly has a functioning brain.

But come back with me, dear readers, to November of 2000. You’re the sitting Vice President of the United States. Your administration, though plagued by a torch-wielding Congress, has presided over the greatest peacetime economic expansion ever. Your opponent is a callow, inexperienced legacy politician. Despite this, partly due to your own tentative campaigning style and largely due to a media more interested in which candidate would be a better pick to host your frat party, the polls have been close all year. Election Night rolls around, and at the end of the night, you’ve clearly won the popular vote, but Florida is so close that they’ll need to count again to figure out who won. It’s stressful, sure, but such is democracy. There’s a system in place to deal with this sort of thing, and you’ve been raised your entire life to trust that system.

That’s when it all goes to hell. The other guy’s operatives start gaming that system. They use every legal trick in the book to hold up the recount. They launch a press campaign to convince the media that the election’s over, and all the delay is due to sour grapes. When this looks like it might not work out, they send mobs into the streets to intimidate vote counters. (For a more complete account of the post-election battle, read Jeffrey Toobin’s Too Close to Call, which is required reading for anyone wanting to know how easily democracy can be thrown for a loop.) These banana republic-style tactics work, and faced with a mocking press, a hostile Supreme Court, and no support from your own political allies, you concede.

Losing an election, by all accounts, is a crushing blow to your ego. Having an election that you’ve clearly won stolen from you in broad daylight? I can’t even imagine. As much as I would love to see Al Gore taking that oath on January 20 (even if it would be 8 years late), I completely understand why he doesn’t want it anymore. He’s found his place, and more power to him.

Incidentally, for those hoping to avoid a replay of 2000 (and, depending on what you read about Ohio, 2004), a few things to keep an eye on:

-A ballot initiative in California being financed by several prominent GOPer’s which would apportion electoral votes by congressional district, a move which would effectively hand the GOP candidate 20+ votes. The campaign’s hit a few snags lately, but this sort of thing has a way of hanging around after you think it’s been dealt with.

-Whether the Senate plans to confirm Hans von Spakovsky to a permanent seat on the Federal Elections Commission. The Rules Committee passed his nomination on to the full Senate, but there’s as yet been no vote. Keeping in mind that the FEC determines the rules for elections, might be a good idea to check out his record, which doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies.

There’s a year until the election, all. Lots of wild tricks can be pulled if our eyes aren’t constantly on the ball.

Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize

ipcc.jpg gore.jpg

This dude is wild. After eight years of Vice-Presidency he loses his bid to be the head honcho; grows a beard and completely drops out of the lime-light [kind of like the future Nathan Petrelli in Heroes]. Apparently, during his time off he was doing some heavy research in to this whole Global Climate Change thing (global warming IS bunk, people. Just because SOME places are getting warmer doesn’t mean it’s happening everywhere; some places are getting colder. So there.) Gore has devoted much more to this one particular issue than to have it just be a theme of a scheme, or a some means to achieve some end. This man has subscribed to a theory and really wants us to know about it.

So after the flick An Inconvenient Truth he walks away with an Oscar or an Emmy or some shit. Now, finally, he has been rewarded to his dedication of this cause with one of the most distinguishable awards in the world, the Nobel Peace Prize. Good for you Al Gore. If I voted I woulda voted for that dude. Speaking of voting … Wouldn’t it be great to see this give Big Al [this dude has the most unfortunate name: Albert Arnold Jr…. wow] enough confidence to jump on the campaign trail for the Donkeys?

_gore_sphere-1.jpg

Don’t get me wrong Barack and Hillary, I love you, you’re ninjas, both of you. But one of you is a black man and one of you might be a woman. These are traits that some people feel the president shouldn’t possess; and we know Al Gore is kind of better bet. We like Al Gore. Would one of you please just be his VP? For the party?

p.s. All you [dumb] *uckers who say that Global Climate Change in phooey should recognize. We can and very well should do what we can to reduce green-house gazes and all the other hub-bub “greening-up” involves. If you’re two lazy you can come up with a better excuse than “Christ is coming back anyway, he won’t make us clean up”, at least blame it on China. They’re *ucked.

[Around here we don't refer to them as right-wingers as some less ninja-inclined blogs would have you believe]

This is… our country?

Nothing like getting things started on an upbeat note, so here goes…

Ted Kennedy, my very own senior Senator, wrote a piece for Salon in which he discusses the Administration’s less-than-stellar record on torture. Among other things, he mentions the legislation he’s sponsoring which would clarify the law in this particular area. Please take a look at the bill (it’s short, I promise) before reading any further.

Now then. On the one hand, I think we can agree that the methods banned by this bill are good things to ban. (And just to save everyone a lot of time and bother, if you don’t find these tactics worth banning, my posts probably aren’t going to be your particular cup of chai.) The thing that disturbs the hell out of me is that one of the more prominent members of the US Senate actually has to write a bill laying out in blunt terms that these things are bad. Not only that, but that there’s a better than decent chance that this bill won’t pass, and even if it does, that the Administration will attach a signing statement and toss it down the memory hole.
If someone had told you seven years ago that Congress would soon be considering a bill the purpose of which was to make sure that American soldiers and intelligence agents wouldn’t electrocute, beat, or fake-drown prisoners, would you have believed it possible? Certainly it’s been a long time since I was naive enough to believe that America has never done anything even morally grey, let alone lousy, but I still thought there were at least a few lines we wouldn’t cross. Torturing people was one of those lines.
That’s the single reason I’m most pissed off at the current Administration, I think. Seven years ago, I had a pretty good grasp on what America meant. Now I’m not nearly as sure, and that drives me up the wall.

Fortunately enough, being driven up the wall tends to make me write, so I imagine there’ll be no shortage of posts in the near future. Hopefully they’ll be worth reading.

Freepers Creepers / Deja War

Incredibly, it’s happening again. As if Iraq never happened, as if the innumerable lessons from that national shame and continuing horror never happened. As if the ‘06 election slapdown and clear annunciation of the people’s will never happened.

Incredibly, the same cast of chickenhawk fools and lazy legislators who brought us Iraq are now dragging the country into an even bigger pile of bushit. Incredibly, the media awaits their next sage utterances on the “progress” in Iraq and the need to bomb the hell out of Iran as if they had a shred of credibility remaining.

Read the Rest @ Thinking Peace or read about Bush and the Freepers

Real Time With Bill Maher: Cornel West, Mos Def & Ralph Nader

Topics including Iraq, terrorism (Islamic, American and otherwise), Obama/Clinton, the Jena Six, OJ Simpson, the Boogie Man…
[youtube]http://youtåube.com/watch?v=rO1w1H3iZUU[/youtube]

Bill: [On Islamic terrorists] You have to admit there are certain people who do want to kill Americans.
Mos: Yeah, uh, some of them are called The Police…

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=3zyEIGchffs[/youtube]

Mos: This is not about the Muslim or the Christian…the division of the Democrat/Republican, Muslim/Christian, uhhh, Autobot/Decepticon, Crypt/Blood, black/white: it’s all bullshit, because the bottom line is that Islam is not the threat; it’s not a problem.

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=zvT4adazeOE[/youtube]

Bill: [to Nader, on being a consumer advocate] Ralph, you’re bringing sexy back.
Ralph: [On his new book] There are at least three reasons why if my mother raised George W. Bush, we wouldn’t be in Iraq. One: she would have taught him history. Two: critical thinking. And three: how to listen.

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=aMwIOq06iAk[/youtube]

Cornel: Truth lies prostrate on rugged heels with nameless cavalries. And what I mean is, it’s hard to find a space for truth, and it’s hard for truth to be a species of the good to have impact, in the face of corruption, mendacity, mediocrity and shortsightedness. So truth has to lie prostrate, which means we have to reveal it in its nekidness, even if that nekidness seems to be connected to a lack of power…
Bill: Let’s get the truth nekid right here on this table.

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=4vDmURpie_E[/youtube]

Bill: [New Rule] Sorry Mr. President, but slinking into somewhere unannounced and under cover of night isn’t an ass whooping; it’s a booty call.

Thanks to Kelena for the tip on this one!

ninja votes

ninjas far and wide, hear me now:

In fourteen months (don’t count, it’s November 2008), it’s go time. In fourteen months GDubz and the rest of us will see who gets to take his oval office over.

Ninjas, this election concerns you very much, and that sucks. What are you gonna do about it?

First and foremost you will come back to myninjaplease, frequently, to see what the real ninjas say. Over the course of the next year + 2 months, you ninjas can get your pertinent info here. We’ll look at what’s crappenin’ in the ‘Raq, we’ll look at what’s happenin’ at home, and we’ll look at other ish too (ninjas know the facts, plain and simple).
Let’s be real: all your choices suck. But who sucks least? Do you really want to take that assassination assignment from some dude named Rudolph, ninja? Or do reconnaissance for Edwards? Maybe you do, ninjas, maybe…

Democratic Bumper Stickers for 2008!

NEW DEMOCRATIC BUMPER STICKERS FOR ’08:

1. Bush: End of an Error

2. That’s OK, I Wasn’t Using My Civil Liberties Anyway

3. Let’s Fix Democracy in this Country First

4. If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran.

5. Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.

6. If You Can Read This, You’re Not Our President

7. Of Course It Hurts: You’re Getting Screwed by an Elephant

8. Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?

9. George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight

10. Impeachment: It’s Not Just for Blow jobs Anymore

11. America: One Nation, Under Surveillance

12. They call Him “W” so he can spell it.

13. Whose God do you kill for?

14. Jail to the Chief

15. No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq?

16. Bush: God’s Way of proving intelligent design is full of crap

17. Bad President! No Banana.

18. We Need a President Who’s Fluent In At Least One Language

19. We’re Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them

20. Is It Vietnam Yet?

21. Bush Doesn’t Care About White People, Either

22. Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Hand basket?

23. You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.

24. Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out, Too

25. When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46

26. Pray For Impeachment

27. The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century

28. What Part of “Bush Lied” Don’t You Understand?

29. One Nation Under Clod

30. 2004: Embarrassed. 2005: Horrified. 2006: Terrified

31. Bush Never Exhaled

32. At Least Nixon Resigned

Happy Ethiopian Millennium!

To all our Ethiopian readers and to the rest of our readers across the world, for in these days and times we are all connected, myninjaplease on behalf of the entire mnp group would like to wish you a Happy Millennium._44110867_ethiopia_millenium416afp.jpg
For those of you who don’t know, the Ethiopian Calendar is based on the Coptic Calendar which is based on the Alexandrian Calendar which is based on the Egyptian calendar. In this time frame, September 11th represents the last day of the second millennium. Celebrations began at midnight today, Ethiopian time.

Consequently, the BBC has a short slideshow about the millennium from which the above picture was linked.

Though many are celebrating, some have called for a boycott of the activities due to what they see as government mismanagement. The author of this article calls the celebration a diversion to shield the government from criticism, if only for a moment.

The Ethiopian Millennium to be marked in September 2007 has more of metaphorical meaning than the farce the Ethiopian government is planning to make off of it. - Fekade Shewakena

Still, the festivities continue. Many people see it as a chance to revitalize a country that seems to trail behind in many important indexes.

With just under a year left on the Ethiopic calendar before the turn of the millennium, we believe that there is a dire need to mobilize all towards effective and progressive awareness as well as tangible change. To this end, we challenge you to actively engage yourself, by participating in upcoming relevant and Ethiopia-related events and projects within Ethiopia as well as other countries worldwide. – Ethiopia2000

(tree planting in Ethiopia – link)

Regardless of what you think about the issues at hand, check out the trailer for the Ethiopian Millennium film about Haile Selassie I.

[googlevideo]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6104967379829937363[/googlevideo]

RWU: Rich White Underachievers to Racist White Underachievers?

jabba and the first lady
::This post as written by Dubs – who you would normally find on architecture.MNP – quite a while ago now, but we dropped the ball and the post slipped through the cracks in those tubes that make up these crazy internets…sorry, my ninjas::

oh my ninjas please…such a shame

From the school that brought you the Whites Only Scholarship! and the repeat offensive statement ‘nappy-headed hoes!! (copywrite Don Imus) comes the epic third part of the Roger Williams University racism trilogy…The Dropping of the N-Bomb, or how i learned everything is not as it seems!!!

Okay, almost all humor aside, ninjas. I clearly haven’t posted in a minute and i definitely didn’t want this to be the first. I really struggled to even write up a draft (this is number 2.5) for this topic. Having gone to RWU for five years and being around for the whites only thing, knowing and living with Dana Peloso (the Imus comments) and on top of all else, being black puts me at a sort of crossroads for what i can and/or should say.

I was gonna write this in my typical fashion (for those who know me) but I’m gonna take a step back and cool it a little, again for personal reasons, and due to the fact that the school really ISN’T that bad. They just have s*** for luck when it comes to press coverage. Let’s look at the world in the past 6 years now…dudes flying planes into buildings for the name of religion, people attacking each other in Iraq in the name of hatred, and students killing other students in the name of crazy. We are definitely living in a time where the wrong words said to or about another can have a startling aftermath. So let’s start off with what is known:

003l.jpg

Papitto has been a board member for 40 years (18 of them being the chairman), recently retired (sort of) from the Fortune 500 company he founded Nortek, has subsequently donated millions to the university and though not a lawyer, has his name affixed to the ONLY law school building in Rhode Island. To this resume, you could add racist? (i’m Ron Burgundy?) Roger Williams University Chairman of the board Papitto (Papi) said in the board room:

They want us to add more poor kids and they want us to add more, well, I can’t call them n——, I learned that from Imus…

WHAT???!?!?!!???!?!!!

A few days later Papi went on WPRO-630 AM to publicly apologize and while he was getting around to it, told host John DePetro that

It just slipped out…I never even knew I said it.I apologized for that…What else can I do? Kill myself?http://www.projo.com/news/audio/20070716_papitto.mp3

Listen to the clip from the show above and form your own opinions on his regretfulness or lack there of (I’m trying my hardest to stay unbaised here, people). How can a man actually be considered NOT a racist when he also comes out and says some s*** like

The first time I heard it was on television or rap music or something

Mother F***er…mother f***er, mother f***er, mother f***er.

Did he not learn anything from the whole Columbine incident (that music (of any form) is not the problem in the world). Music is self expression. It is a person commitment to communicating himself or herself through an art. And this mother f***er just put rap music on blast? He put ART on blast!!! REALLY??!??!!!? That is some s*** a kid tries to pull before their mother whoops their ass; not expected from someone who is 80.

Papi tries to state in the interview that he is a well-known man in Rhode Island and those who truly know him will vouch for his not being a racist in any manner. Except:

None of it came [as a] surprise. He has lambasted blacks, Muslims and Jews before in front of staff.

That is a direct quote from President Roy J. Nirschel, printed this past week from an email he sent in response to what Papi said in the board room. So what can you make of that? I NEVER heard a rumor of Nirsch being racist at all. Matter of fact, he could be considered one of the more humane persons I ever had a chance to talk to in my life. President Nirschel goes a little further on record stating that

No one should be associated with [Roger Williams University] who espouses racist thoughts, words or deeds.

So I leave it up to you – when a person wrongs, the person’s peers basically throw them under the bus he or she themself is driving, (partially) owns up to their actions (though he or she is obviously an ass-clown), and multiple actions of change are taken against them, how or when does it truly get resolved? And, does anyone really give two damns???

Okay, okay. Now I said i wasn’t gonna do it, but it happened. And that is more the reason why i should not have done this post in the first place. My race will ultimately be brought into question in the validity of my arguement. But i’m supposed to be mad. I’m completely allowed to tee off on this topic. It only confirms that in a world where people are killing each other everyday, i should stop looking across the ocean to see who may hate me for being American and merely turn my head left and right when i step off my property to see who hates me for being black. Can you imagine? I live in a region of a country where i’ll get judged before they know a f***ing ounce of my life story. And to be completely honest y’all, that frightens me.

Again, DO NOT take action against the school. DO NOT associate the actions of one person for the whole, because I’m a part of the university and no matter how i like it i’m also condemned for life with a diploma with that mother f***ers signature on it. All the hate towards the university is only negatively effecting the goal of Nirschel, which was to bring diversity to a campus not that diverse.

If you are a minority and have had interest in going to RWU, don’t let this incident decide for you. I know a lot of great people who went there and still go there (look up a Mr. John Barker for proof). Okay that’s all i can muster. I’m going to have a drink now.

Quotes and information from the source links provided [Providence Journal, ABC and CNN]. Thanks to Tim Bestor for the post title.

DRUG EXTRAVAGANZA: 1969

So, as we stated before, previous-like, back in the day, the month of August is our official Drug Extravaganza. Welcome!

In more or less 30 days we hope to at least peripherally cover more or less 30 years of the War on Drugs. It’s interesting to note that the term “war on drugs” wasn’t coined until pretty late in the game. We’ll get to that in a week or two.

Link

While there’s an aspect of history lesson in this whole presentation, we’re going to keep it light and fun. As you can see, the year up in the subject line of this post is 1969. We know that the drug war didn’t really start then so we’ll sum it up for you. This is bitten from Wikipedia but in my own words.

Regulation of illegal drugs, or psychoactive substances (basically) began in the United States in the early 1880′s when the US and China agreed to stop the shipments of opium between the two countries. This all happened after the opium wars between China and England. You can obviously go check out the wiki about the opium wars if you want to, but what happened was that China tried to enforce the laws against trading opium with Britain. Britain reacted by beating the piss out of them in a heroin-induced frenzy. Here’s a quote:

By the 1830′s, the English had become the major drug-trafficking criminal organization in the world; very few drug cartels of the twentieth century can even touch the England of the early nineteenth century in sheer size of criminality. Growing opium in India, the East India Company shipped tons of opium into Canton which it traded for Chinese manufactured goods and for tea. This trade had produced, quite literally, a country filled with drug addicts, as opium parlors proliferated all throughout China in the early part of the nineteenth century. This trafficking, it should be stressed, was a criminal activity after 1836, but the British traders generously bribed Canton officials in order to keep the opium traffic flowing. The effects on Chinese society were devestating. In fact, there are few periods in Chinese history that approach the early nineteenth century in terms of pure human misery and tragedy. In an effort to stem the tragedy, the imperial government made opium illegal in 1836 and began to aggressively close down the opium dens.

Link

So while most people think it was the British fighting a war against Chinese importation of opium, it was actually the British themselves who were importing the opium to China, and then balling out financially from said trade.

So, fast forward 50 some odd years and America has agreed with China to stop any opium trade, because by this time it has become popular enough in China that they’re growing it (I guess). Another 50 years would see Americans dealing with prohibition.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqid7KvEKi0[/youtube]

And so that’s that… Just before prohibition, the United States had convened an organization which would sign the first international drug treaty, the International Opium Convention. That convention would be responsible for the first regulation of marijuana as a drug. That brings us to about 1969, the year in our subject line. You should be just about all caught up. If you’re not go read all these joints.

Now fortunately for us, a Google search revealed a very necessary timeline from PBS Frontline. Therefore, we will be using this timeline as a guide for the rest of the month.

Late 1960s Recreational drug use rises in U.S. In late 1960s recreational drug use becomes fashionable among young, white, middle class Americans. The social stigmatization previously associated with drugs lessens as their use becomes more mainstream. Drug use becomes representative of protest and social rebellion in the era’s atmosphere of political unrest.

Link

It’s ’69, baby! A time when pills were a-popping, and titties were a-swinging. Hendrix is at Woodstock and everybody is having a totally groovy time, or about to be anyway.

A drug subculture involving the use of marijuana and other hallucinogenic drugs began to emerge in mainstream American society in the late ’60s and was loosely associated with an overall atmosphere of political protest concerning the Vietnam War and civil rights.

Link

[googlevideo]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3981364972665945187&q=jimi+hendrix+woodstock+duration%3Along&total=10&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1[/googlevideo]

As far as protest and drug use goes, well there are a few interesting links out there that point to how it was in the late 60′s. Here is a list of 60′s protest songs. Here’s a good article about the Berkeley in the 60′s. And here’s a good link to the Hate-Ashbury gallery that mnp published on months ago.

sbill7big.jpg

Yeah, so, everybody was having a good time right? Well things were about to get hairy. Stay tuned.