Saturday, January 29, 2011

Meanwhile, Back In Utopia Democratica ...

First Tunisia and now Egypt.

One can only rejoice at seeing people taking their aspirations for civil rights and freedoms into their own hands, courageously claiming these justly as their undeniable birthrights as human beings and steadfastly demanding said birthrights out of the corrupt authoritarian classes that have been selfishly and mercilessly ruling their nations.

Indeed, one can only rejoice and marvel at the Tunisians last week and now the Egyptians, rising up with their voices filed with righteousness, truth and hope as their chief weapons against all means of brutal reprisals - potential, threatened or enacted.

For they have risen against all odds - verily.

Yet, as we, citizens of nations founded upon the cornerstones of democracy, the constitutional rule of law and the primacy of civil rights and freedoms, applaud, encourage and cheer on these fellow human beings to accomplish what our ancestors already achieved in one way or another, as we open our arms wide in friendship with the expectation, if not eagerness, of embracing them warmly in welcome to our growing assembly of free nations, we must not pretentiously ignore the simmering, if not flaring, embers that lie spread about our very own democratic backyards - embers that are poised to become fires which will unravel what our ancestors strove to bring about in our nations, long before what Tunisians and Egyptians are currently seeking to effectuate for themselves, their own children and future descendants.

For indeed, the way things have degenerated and continue to worsen in our democracy-based societies, it might just well be that our Tunisian and Egyptian brothers and sisters in Humanity refuse to join us, opting instead to start an assembly of free nations of their own until we go about cleaning up our own backyards - provided, of course, that their just cause is not coopted by religious fundamentalism as in the case of the just cause of Iranians, of some three decades past.

Hence, we have no standing in allowing the indulgence of losing ourselves in the effervescent joy and trepidation that we may feel at the sight of those brave Tunisian and Egyptians roaming the streets to demand and acquire their undeniable rights and freedoms. Rather than complacently and smuggly congratulating ourselves at already being free, thus somehow granting us the impetus to cheer on our Tunisian and Egyptian brothers and sisters, we should instead look at ourselves in the harsh, but ever truthful, mirror of our reality.

And we must do so more than ever.

Here are but glimpses of what our mirror seeks to show us, should we but quickly glance before turning a fearful eye away from what we are becoming, as we remain in denial of the truth of things:
No White House timetable for closing Guantanamo;

Guantanamo Conundrum;

U.S. Congress blocks Guantanamo closure;

Guantanamo detainees stage peaceful protests daily;

White House drafts executive order for indefinite detention;

‘Unjustified homicides’ go unpunished at military prisons;

America's treatment of detainees;

Activists delivering Bradley Manning petition held at Quantico;

No-fly list abuses;

Mass FBI raids target pro-WikiLeaks DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) civil protesters;

Espionage Act ‘makes felons of us all’;

Internet 'kill switch' bill will return;

Justice Department seeks to have all web surfing tracked;

Internet Privacy and Personal Access at Risk;

CIA Invests in Company that Monitors Social Network Sites;

Warrantless Wiretapping A-OK, says US Court;

Internet Surveillance Could Get You Hired or Fired;

US government ‘creating vast domestic snooping machine’;

Calif. Supreme Court approves warrantless data seizures by police;

DC Metro Bag Searches: Random Inspections To Begin;

‘Homeland’ security coming to hotels, malls;

Conflating Proper Dissent and Terrorism;

Who watches the watchers?

Monitoring America;

CIA renditions;

CIA gave waterboarders $5M legal shield;

Torture, Human Experimentation And The Department of Defense;

US-led troops abduct Afghan journalist;

Death Squad Eyed in Terror Strategy;

Judge dismisses targeted-kill program lawsuit;

Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A.;

Top Secret America;

The Privatization of War;

Corporate Media Ignores US Hypocrisy on War Crimes;

Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America;

CNN Asks “Do we need a free press”?

Supreme Court becoming a tool for corporate interests;

What Are We Bid for Justice?

ACLU’s Holiday Message Labeled ‘Suspicious Activity’ By Tennessee Counter-Terrorism Officials;

Key Republican calls UN Human Rights Council ‘a waste of taxpayer dollars’;

2010 Vs 2011: Same As It Was, Same As It Will Be;

Witnessing The Nearing End Of The Modern Experiment In Democracy;

Canada: Can You Tell Me Where My Country Lies?

Welcome To Your Authoritarian Corporatocratic Security Surveillance State Of North America;

The Canadian Branch Of The North American Security Surveillance State;

Constitution, Rights, Rule Of Law: Who Gives A F*ck?
Remember: these are but glimpses of the actual darkening totality of what our mirror seeks to show us.

We are living in an era whereby anyone who voices alarm at the neverending and ever-increasing erosions of our rights as constitutionally defined is considered as an insouciant, utopian, fringe agitator - if not actually blind and stupid.

We are living in an era whereby those who stand for the constitutional rule of law, who seek to limit the excesses and undue policy influences of corporations, are actually branded as enemies of freedom.

That is because in this era that we are living in, the freedom of corporations to do whatever they please and whenever they please equals freedom for us all.

That is because in this era that we are living in, we can only be truly free and secure if the government knows everything about us, while we must placidly remain ignorant of what our government is doing.

That is because in this era that we are living in, less rights equals more security and more security equals freedom.

And that is because in this era that we are living in, we have cowardly, if not at least complacently, abandonned the core principles - the very cornerstones - upon which our societies are founded: democracy of the people, by the people and for the people, the rule of constitutional law, and the primacy of civil rights and freedoms.

The very things that Tunisians and Egyptians are currently seeking to achieve for themselves, their children and their future descendants.

The very things that we have willfully cast aside to the eternal shame, I strongly suspect, of our nation-founding ancestors.

Therefore, we have no standing whatsoever to lecture other nations about human rights, civil rights, freedom and liberty.

And we have no standing whatsoever to cheer on the Tunisians and Egyptians in their just quest.

Not until, that is, we look hard into our harsh mirror of reality with equal courage and determination as they are demonstrating for all of Humanity to witness, so that we may begin the hard and difficult travail of restoring our own democracies to what they are supposed to be.

Of restoring our democracies to what the Tunisians and Egyptians are aspiring.

Thus, as we applaud our Tunisian and Egyptian brothers and sisters, let us keep firmly in mind that it is they whom are bravely uprising in order to win their birthrights of freedom and liberty that are the bona fides teachers here - whereas we are naught but de facto spoiled pupils in dire need of lessons in democratic civic responsibility, vigilance and courage.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Harper Government In A Nutshell

Just in case it has not yet sunk in how incompetent are Harper and his Harpies in matters of governance and responsible budgetary spending:

1- They spent some $2 millions last year in a narcissistic exercise of monitoring what the media says about them - you know, so as to better manipulate/control/spin their messages (re: lies) and be able to make corrections swiftly to that effect if need be;

2- They want to stroke their "manly, tough, military strong" image by seeking to spend some $18 billions in order to purchase sixty-five F-35 fighter jets, even though they are being told that the price could be much greater and that it is more sensible to wait before buying them - apparently preferring to listen to generals eager to get their hands on new military toys, in addition to somehow not taking into consideration that the Americans themselves are slowly dropping off the purchase of these jets for another weapons system, especially in light of the fact that the F-35 program constitutes a paragon of what troubled and vastly over-budget military weapons programs can be;

3- Over the last five years, they have spent some $100 millions on "privately" polling Canadians for their own political means and ends, conveniently ignoring that Statistics Canada does such polling activities as part of its regular statistical duties;

4- They have overall increased their ministerial office expenditures by some 16.5% in 2009-2010, in many cases by buying the services of various political consultants and contractors;

5- They have spent some $48.1 millions worth of land and property in Afghanistan over the past two years- in fact, the total cost of Canada's involvement in Afghanistan has been estimated to rise at least to $18.1 billions by 2011;

6- Just last year, Defence department budget spending spiked 22% to $19.2 billions, whereas that of the Privy Council Office grew 8.5% to $149 millions;

7- They have spent some $1 billion for security alone, for the G8/G20 summits of last year (2010);

8- Over the last five years, they have increased the size of federal bureaucracy by some 14%;

9- Meanwhile, Harper back in 2008 called the possibility of enacting spending cuts a ‘ridiculous' scenario, because he thought Canada would not be in a recession and that there would be no deficit - then in 2010, Harper called for reducing spending in order to tackle the ballooning deficit under his watch;

10- Meanwhile, they want to end taxpayer subsidies to political parties, claiming that it would save taxpayer monies - despite this being a transparent bid to open the door to "big money fundraising" (re: by coporations) à la USA;

11- Meanwhile, they want to enact corporate tax cuts;

12- Meanwhile, they have consistently cut/reduced budgets for scientific/medical research accross the board;

13- Meanwhile, they have been slowly killing the Canadian nuclear industry;

14- Meanwhile, they have cut the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) (among many other similar government labs), because, you know, why of all things spend money on climate change research in order to better fight it?

15- Meanwhile, here are examples of other budgetary cuts that they have enacted to reduce the deficit:
• Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
• Conseil d’intervention pour l’accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT)
• New Brunswick Pay Equity Coalition
• Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec
• Alberta Network of Immigrant Women
• Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition feminine
• Association féminine d’éducation et d’action sociale (AFEAS)
• Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
• Womenspace Resource Centre (Lethbridge, AB)
• Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA)
• Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy (FemJEPP) in Nova Scotia
Now - take together items 1-8 and compare them to item 9.

Then, compare items 1-8 with items 10-15, while keeping in mind item 9.

And there you will have it: the Harper government in a nutshell.

(Do take into consideration that too-numerous other items were ommitted herein, for the sake of brevity).

Any questions?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Can You Tell Me Where My Country Lies?

Here is the authoritarian mind in action:

1- At the request of a city Chief of police, in anticipation for an international summit in said city where peaceful protesters and demonstrators (and yes, including an inevitable small minority of idiotic individuals bent on causing trouble) are expected to be present in numbers, dust off an obviously unconstitutional law that was originally meant to protect public works during times of war (The Public Works Protection Act) by allowing a guard or police officer to detain, question and arrest without warrant anyone (i.e. enemy spy, saboteur, agent, etc.) "lurking" around and about said public works. As stated (emphasis added):
Powers of guard or peace officer
3.A guard or peace officer,
(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;
(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and
(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 3.
With the following consequences (emphasis added):
Refusal to obey guard, etc.
5.(1) Every person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction made under this Act by a guard or peace officer, and every person found upon a public work or any approach thereto without lawful authority, the proof whereof lies on him or her, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two months, or to both.
(2) A guard or peace officer may arrest, without warrant, any person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction of a guard or peace officer, or who is found upon or attempting to enter a public work without lawful authority. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.55, s. 5.
2- Then secretly invoke said law to redefine the security zone around the site of said international summit as "public works", in order to enact said unconstitutional law through writ (i.e. without proper legislative debate and without informing the public) for the duration of the summit.

3- Then give free reign to the police to fully enforce said unconstitutional law via said secret writ (later revealed after the fact as Ontario Regulation 233/10).
Of course, we are now all too familiar with the inevitable consequences, namely:
1- By changing the legal landscape in this underhanded, unconstitutional and illegal way, regulation 233/10 operated as a trap for those (i.e. visitors, peaceful demonstrators, etc.) who relied on their unquestionable, constitutionally-defined civil rights;

2- The police was handed inordinate powers that were unacceptable in a free and democratic society, in addition to without any efforts having been made to ensure that said powers would not be misunderstood and/or abused;

3- The net result was a deliberate infringement on the freedom of expression, rights to privacy and rights of assembly of Canadian citizens that was unjustifiable in a free and democratic society - as attested by numerous acts of police intimidation and brutality, mass arrests and indiscriminate searches and seizures.
Now, here is why I remain not surprised concerning all of this: whenever you give inordinate powers to police and/or security agencies, regardless of whatever paranoid-driven reasons they conjure up to justify their need for such powers, they will invariably abuse such vast, indiscriminate powers.

Because it is in their nature to do so - thanks to their paranoid authoritarian mindset which makes them care only about finding guilt (whether it is truly there or not), not the truth, and regardless of whether you are actually innocent or not.

One more case in point (emphasis added):
G20 officer: 'This ain't Canada right now'
A G20 incident caught on video that shows a York Regional Police officer telling a protester he is no longer in Canada and has no civil rights is under investigation.
The video shows several activists standing outside of the G20 security perimeter at King St. W. and University Ave. on June 27 while their bags are searched by a group of police officers. The mood is pleasant until a young man in a black T-shirt and cap refuses to hand over his backpack.
Just outside the St. Andrew subway station, a male York Regional Police officer wraps one arm around the protester and tells him: “You don’t get a choice, get moving.”
“Why are you grabbing me, man?” says the unidentified protester, who in another G20 video gives a brief monologue about animal rights. “I didn’t do anything.”

(...) In the video, a woman’s voice from behind the camera points out that the protesters are not within 5 metres of the cordoned-off zone — the area in which Torontonians were led to believe, erroneously, that they could legally be searched by police officers at whim.

The male protester insists that, as a Canadian, he has the right to refuse the search. But the officer disagrees.

“This ain’t Canada right now,” he says.

While the crowd laughs in disbelief, the officer continues to tell the protester he has two choices: leave, or open his bag. The protester continues to refuse to do either. “I just don’t like to have my civil rights violated,” he says eventually.

“There is no civil rights here in this area,” the officer replies. “How many times do you gotta be told that?”
This ain't Canada right now.

There is no civil rights here.

Do let these words sink in for one minute ... or one hundred.

Doesn't anyone remember why Canada's War Measures Act was revised in 1985 to become the 1988 Emergencies Act? Here are just two à propos reasons why:
1- A declaration of an emergency by the Cabinet must be reviewed by Parliament;
2- Any temporary laws made under the Act are subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In other words:
(The Preamble to the Act) states that, in taking such temporary measures, the Governor in Council would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and must have regard to those rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Canada is a signatory and by which it is bound, that are not to be limited even in a time of national emergency. Although not set out in the Preamble, these rights are:
– the right to life;
– the protection against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
– the protection against slavery;
– the protection against imprisonment for debt;
– the protection against acts made retroactively into crimes;
– the right of every individual to be recognized as a person under law;
– the freedoms of thought, conscience and religion.
In short: any attempt by the government to suspend the civil rights of Canadians, even in an emergency, will be subject to the "reasonable and justified" test under section 1 of the Charter.

Hence, the McGuinty Government of Ontario, at the behest of Toronto Chief of police Bill Blair, and with no doubt the prodding of the Harper Government, enacted a secret security measure that actually went beyond the federal Emergencies Act, for something that did not even constitute an emergency as defined by the law (provincial or federal).

And the Constitution? The rule of law, including that regarding human rights? The Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

As it has become all too painfully clear, such quaint notions can, and will be, swiftly cast aside whenever the neverending demands of security require it.

The same thing goes with war prisoners and torture (see here, here and here, for a memory refresher). Here is one more recent development in this regard as a further note added in proof (emphasis added):
CSIS heard of prisoner abuse

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service was aware of allegations that prisoners in Afghanistan were abused, but had no "first-hand knowledge" of torture, says an internal report on the spy agency’s involvement with detainees.

The newly declassified review also says while CSIS "appeared to be tardy in issuing directions and guidelines" on interviewing Afghan detainees, the selection of appropriate personnel and a "common sense approach" to the task ensured the spy service’s "credibility and professional reputation was maintained."

"The service has since formalized appropriate direction to its officers in dealing with issues of detainees in Afghanistan."

Last March, The Canadian Press revealed CSIS’s involvement in interviewing suspected Taliban fighters alongside military intelligence officers.

In response, CSIS director Dick Fadden commissioned the "comprehensive review" of the service’s activities given the "controversial and high-profile nature" of the issue with the Canadian government, the 13-page report says.

A draft version of the secret April report, with several deletions, was obtained this week under the Access to Information Act.

The Canadian army is thought to have captured hundreds of suspected Taliban fighters over the last nine years. Reports indicate that since 2006 almost 500 have been handed over to Afghan authorities.

CSIS questioned Afghan detainees from 2002 through late 2007, when the military began to conduct interrogations without assistance. The report says the shift occurred "as there was a concern with respect to the legalities and procedures in allowing outside agencies to be involved."

For the review, CSIS examined files dating as far back as 2002 and interviewed service employees directly involved in the detainee file.

"CSIS policies/directional statements specific to employees’ involvement in matters of Afghan detainees were not in place at the beginning of the service deployment to Afghanistan," the report says. "This has only recently been rectified."

The review identified two outstanding issues, including an incorrectly worded draft Canadian Forces standing order that indicated "CSIS had the lead" on interrogating detainees.

CSIS spokeswoman Isabelle Scott said the correction has been made. The second, undisclosed issue was also addressed, she said, declining to elaborate.

The review findings are consistent with past CSIS insistence that the Canadian Forces were responsible for deciding whether to transfer prisoners to Afghan custody.

However, the report discloses that CSIS played an occasional "facilitation" role as a "liaison conduit" in transfers between Canadian military and Foreign Affairs officials and the infamous Afghan National Directorate of Security.
In between, never mind Canada's legal obligations under Geneva Convention III and the Convention Against Torture (again, as discussed previously here, here and here)

Hence, the obvious overall question that needs to be asked is how did all of this come about?

The answer is two-fold: A) it is a truism that fear and the need to feel secure and safe always trump unalienable civil rights, let alone humane values normally espoused by the citizens of a given nation; and consequently B) security overrides all other considerations, including human rights, whereby those of us that do give a fuck about stopping the ever increasing erosions of our rights as constitutionally defined are nothing but a bunch of stupid, insouciant, utopian, fringe agitators.

In the meantime, false patriots out there who claim to be champions of freedom and liberty, whether through deluded lunacy or plain hypocrisy, will nonetheless continue to applaud and cheer, as well as crave evermore, each and every step taken by our governments to increase their influence over our private lives, to increase their ability to spy, monitor, survey and control us.

All in the name of Security.

Bob Altemeyer, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba, wrote a book titled "The Authoritarians" (it is available as a pdf for free download here) (h/t). In the author's own words, this book is "about what's happened to the American government lately. It's about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It's about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It's about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It's about how the "Religious Right" teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country."

So, what is authoritarianism? According to the author:
Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want - which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal.
And his definition of authoritarian followers is this:
Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people have historically been the “proper” authorities in life, the time-honored, entitled, customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians. Psychologically these followers have personalities featuring:

1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;

2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and

3) a high level of conventionalism.
Which sounds strangely familiar with what I wrote a while back concerning false patriots:
Yes, we know these people well indeed. They are the boastful defenders of "family and moral values", the loud cheerleaders of war, the relentless defenders of hawkish foreign policies, the resolute "concerned" citizens against terrorism (especially of the radical Islamist kind), the devout and dutiful followers of Christianity, the promulgators and staunch supporters of Authority.

They call themselves "Patriots". "Warriors". "Watchdogs". "Soldiers". "Sentinels". And so on.

For them, supporting the war(s) is supporting the troops - no other way around it.

For them, law enforcement and security agencies can do no wrong.

For them, those elected officials and leaders belonging to the same philosophies as theirs can do no wrong.

For them, only through absolute and unquestioned Authority will our countries be kept safe.

It is indeed these people who crave for strong and manly leaders.

It is indeed these people who keep supporting every new law which erodes that much more our basic human rights, civil rights and civil liberties.

It is indeed these people who applaud each time our constitutions are rendered that much more moot.

All in the sacrosanct name of Security.

Why are these people like that?

Answer: fear.
More than ever, it should be undeniable that the authoritarian sickness has gripped Canada as well, in each and every way - just plow through the numerous posts herein at APOV as testaments to that effect - although I do concede that said sickness has not quite yet reached the near-terminally advanced state as in the case of our southern neighbor.

Yet, this is now who we are, this is now what we are.

Hence, the tragic conclusion becomes obvious: in the end, the above-spotlighted authoritarian G20 police officer did nothing more than speak the plain, harsh truth.

There is no civil rights here.

This ain't Canada.

And I am forced to agree, albeit with great sadness - for I do not recognize the country that I know and love anymore.

What about you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Right Wingers And Climate Change

Item 1 (emphasis added):
Climate change: Rising waters threaten North Carolina

The sea that sculpted North Carolina's coast, from its arc of barrier islands to the vast, nurturing sounds, is reshaping it once again.

Water is rising three times faster on the N.C. coast than it did a century ago as warming oceans expand and land ice melts, recent research has found. It's the beginning of what a N.C. science panel expects will be a 1-meter increase by 2100.

Rising sea level is the clearest signal of climate change in North Carolina. Few places in the United States stand to be more transformed.

About 2,000 square miles of our low, flat coast, an area nearly four times the size of Mecklenburg County, is 1 meter (about 39 inches) or less above water.

At risk are more than 30,500 homes and other buildings, including some of the state's most expensive real estate. Economists say $6.9 billion in property, in just the four counties they studied, will be at risk from rising seas by late this century.

Climate models predict intensifying storms that could add billions of dollars more in losses to tourism, farming and other businesses.
Item 2 (emphasis added):
In Ventura, a retreat in the face of a rising sea

At Surfers Point in Ventura, California is beginning its retreat from the ocean.

Construction crews are removing a crumbling bike path, ripping out a 120-space parking lot and laying down sand and cobblestones. By pushing the asphalt 65 feet inland, the project is expected to give the wave-ravaged point 50 more years of life.

The effort by the city of Ventura is the most vivid example to date of what may lie ahead in California as coastal communities come to grips with rising sea levels and worsening coastal erosion. As the coastline creeps inland, scouring sand from beaches or eating away at coastal bluffs, landowners will increasingly be forced to decide whether to spend vast sums of money fortifying the shore or give up and step back.

State officials say the $4.5-million project in Ventura is the first of its kind in California and could serve as a model for threatened sites along the coast.

"Managed retreat, as it's called, is one of the things that we're going to have in our quiver to deal with sea-level rise and increasing storms," said Sam Schuchat, executive officer of the California Coastal Conservancy, which helped fund the Surfers Point project.

Sea levels have risen about 8 inches in the last century and are expected to swell at an increasing rate as climate change warms the ocean, experts say. In California, the sea is projected to rise as much as 55 inches by the end of the century and gobble up 41 square miles of coastal land, according to a 2009 state-commissioned report by the Pacific Institute.

For years, the preferred solution to an eroding shoreline has been to build sea walls or dump imported sand to serve as a buffer. About one-third of the Southern California coastline and about 10% of the shore statewide have been fortified with sea walls and other hard structures.

Although artificial barriers may protect property in the short term, they often intensify the effect of waves, leaving beaches stripped of sand until they narrow or disappear, permanently altering surf patterns.

As a result, beach-armoring projects are increasingly out of favor with environmentalists and coastal regulators.

At Surfers Point, Ventura officials first knew they had a problem about two decades ago, when storms started chewing away at the oceanfront bike path a few years after it was built.

When heavy storms hit, waves ate mounds of sand, washed away chunks of asphalt and exposed rebar, car parts and junk that had been underground for decades.
And now, on a completely related subject (emphasis added):
Republicans kill global warming committee

The kick-off of the 112th Congress on Wednesday also marked the end of an era in the House – the demise of a committee devoted solely to climate change and energy issues. The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, created by Nancy Pelosi in 2006, has been shuttered under the new Republican leadership.
To which the following must be tallied (emphasis added):
With health care 'repealed,' GOP turns to climate change

Now that the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the health care law, Republicans say they're likely to move soon to another target — a rewrite of the Clean Air Act so that it can't be used to fight climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency in December said it would draw up performance standards that would help cut heat-trapping gases produced by refineries and coal-fired power plants. The EPA hasn't proposed the specifics yet, and existing plants wouldn't be affected until the later years of the decade, but opponents of regulation aren't waiting.

The new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said he'd have hearings about the impact of the EPA's emission reduction plan on jobs.

"Standing up for American workers and addressing EPA's rampant regulations is a top priority, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said Thursday. "We will be active and aggressive using every tool in the toolbox to protect American jobs and our economy by rolling back the job-destroying (greenhouse gas) regulations."
But no surprise here, folks, for that is what I've come to expect from primitive minds.

Not convinced? Then here is another note added in proof (emphasis added):
New Science Committee Chair Ralph Hall Praises ‘Tremendous’ BP Spill

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) plans to pursue an aggressive pro-oil agenda as the incoming chair of the House Science and Technology Committee. In an interview with the Dallas Morning News this month, the “unconditional champion of fossil fuels” described his zeal for the “holy grail” of the oil industry — the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — discussed issuing subpoenas to interrogate climate scientists, and explained why the BP disaster “didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for offshore drilling.” Hall described the BP explosion that killed eleven men, injured dozens, and led to the despoilment of the Gulf of Mexico as a “tremendous,” “blossoming” flower of energy:

As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion.

In an extensive report yesterday, the New York Times describes the explosion differently: “Dazed and battered survivors, half-naked and dripping in highly combustible gas, crawled inch by inch in pitch darkness, willing themselves to the lifeboat deck. . . . Crew members, certain they were about to be cooked alive, scrambled into enclosed lifeboats for shelter, only to find them like smoke-filled ovens.”

And just to be sure, here's another one (emphasis added):
Humans are clueless on cause of oceanic tides, Bill O’Reilly claims

What causes oceanic tides to crest and fall? According to conservative opinion host Bill O'Reilly, it's a mystery.

It's not actually a mystery, but to the Republican Fox News Channel's favorite grouch, tidal movements are apparently proof positive that an invisible man is pulling the strings of reality.

(...) "I'll tell you why [religion is] not a scam," he said. "In my opinion -- alright? Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that. You can't explain why the tide goes in."

(...) Of course, (anyone) can explain tidal movements, as can many 5th-8th grade students in US public schools.

In short, oceanic tides are caused by the moon's rotation around the earth, with inertia and gravity causing a sea swell as it passes. Scientists have measured the phenomenon in great detail, documenting two distinct tidal bulges that circle the earth as the moon sweeps around it.

But don't try telling that to O'Reilly.

A recent study by the University of Maryland found that extended exposure to the Republican Fox News Channel often resulted in voters believing patently false claims on key social and political issues.

But make no mistake - as such right winger primitive minded-driven travestis occur aplenty in the USA, so do they over here as well, in Canada.

Just ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cons. One more (recent) case in point (emphasis added):
Harper's oily case for ethical oil

Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent think they have come up with a game changer on the environment. When you hear about the many issues surrounding the development of the Alberta bitumen sands, they want you to answer that in spite of all that, Canada's "ethical oil" is the best, considering the alternatives.

"Ethical oil" is the notion that Alberta bitumen is an "ethical" source of energy that Americans should choose compared to oil from OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela where, it is alleged, oil production assists dictators and human rights abuses. The "ethical oil" idea is the brain child of right-wing spinner Ezra Levant whose book by the same name is the speakers' notes for PM Harper and Kent.

(...) There is a reason that the Conservatives want to change channels on the environment debate enough to risk ridicule by dousing themselves in "ethical oil." They are now retreating from the only commitment they ever made on climate change and the bitumen sands: to follow the Americans.
Just as already predicted by yours truly, incidentally. Indeed.

Oh yes, it was all-too-predictable:
(...) because climate change research is such a waste of money (just ask our own Prime Douchebag and his Harpies) - especially since it will never cause any problems ... or so says Teh Good Book: (...) the planet won't be destroyed by global warming because God promised Noah. Indeed, no need to worry because God is still Up There and, besides, Jesus saved the planet 2000 years ago already. Hence, any global warming means nothing, because it is God's Will and thus it will never harm us.

Hence, the scientific studies of global warming/climate change constitute nothing but a bunch of snake oil science, a cheap magic show and/or some kind of devious plot by the United Nations. In fact, trying to fight off global warming not only constitutes a grave assault on democracy, we must also legislate the outright rejection of the scientific findings proving anthropomorphic climate change and sue relentlessly climate change scientists.
Again, let me remind you what Right Winger primitive minds do:
They lie, they misrepresent, they use decoy arguments and make ad hominem attacks. For them, the use of duplicity, of secrecy, of arguments of (non-existent) conspiracy, of fact (and non-fact) selectivity/cherry-picking, of quacks/fake experts, as well as putting forth logical fallacies, are simply means to an end.

And this "end" is the following: to promulgate, support and defend their beliefs or their ideologies.

Truth be told: these are the only things that truly matter to them.

(...) they are very much alike the people from the allegory of the cave, and somehow made flesh and blood.

They are indeed living in a cave, their backs to the entrance while facing the sunlit cave wall, seeing only shadows of reality. And it is from watching these two-dimensional shadows that they construct myths and stories to comfort themselves - because they not only fear the shadows that they see, but they also fear even more what these shadows represent.

Thus, they find themselves frightened to the deepest levels of their fragile souls by the glorious truth of the multi-dimensional reality in which we live, whenever they get out of their cave. Their intellectual sloth-driven, ignorant and fearful minds simply can not, or flatly refuse, to comprehend it.

That is why their beliefs and ideologies are not only parochial, but adamantly intractable.

Consequently, at the end of each day, they return to the safety and comfort of their cave, vowing to say and do everything in order to transform our multi-dimensional reality into the simpler, two-dimensional one made of shadows that they are accustomed to.
Now, go re-read the first two news items I offered at the top of the current post.

Done? Very well then: thus, for tonight's Ode, I hereby give you Bif Naked - Sick:

Remember, folks - keep on rockin' ...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Teh Self-Righteous Stoopid

I stand against censorship - period.

You don't like the nature of a show on a specific TV channel? Change the damn channel.

You don't like the lyrics of a song on a radio station? Don't listen to it by changing the station or by shutting off the damn radio.

You don't like the contents of a book? Don't read it and definitely don't buy it.

You don't like the contents of a movie? Then don't watch it and certainly don't buy or rent the damn DVD.

But don't let anyone tell you what you can, or can't, listen to, read or watch.

More importantly: don't you tell me what I can, or can't, listen to, read or watch (with the obvious exception of clearly illegal things, such as child pornography in any and all its forms).

You make up your own damn mind and act like a fucking adult about this, for a change - 'cause I'll be, and always have been, doing just that.

Especially since those so-called censors constituting "monitoring" or "censorship" boards are nothing but self-righteous idiots, incapable of thinking beyond their own wet navels of purity, chastity and correctness.

Case in point (h/t) (emphasis added):
Censor Dire Straits song: broadcast panel

The 1980s song Money for Nothing by the British rock band Dire Straits has been deemed unacceptable for play on Canadian radio.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council says the song contravenes the human rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.

The council is an independent, non-governmental group created to administer standards established by its members, Canada's private broadcasters. Its membership includes more than 700 private radio and TV stations across the country.

Last year, a listener to radio station CHOZ-FM in St. John's complained that the '80s rock song includes the word "faggot" in its lyrics and is discriminatory to gays.

The broadcaster argued that the song had been played countless times since its release decades ago and has won music industry awards.

A CBSC panel concluded that the word "faggot," even if once acceptable, has evolved to become unacceptable in most circumstances.

The panel noted that Money for Nothing would be acceptable for broadcast if suitably edited.
Surprised, shocked?

Recently, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is likewise facing such censorship after the fact, because some words and terms are nowadays unacceptable.

That in itself is true enough - if you take a piece of literature and or music out of its context, as well as out of the characters portrayed.

In the case of Money for Nothing, the song portrays a blue-collar bigot in order to criticize not only his bigotry, but at the same time the music/video business and consumer culture in general.

But in the narrow minds of censors, such obvious verity escapes them completely.

So, here's my own complaint to those idiots of the CBSC:
I am deeply offended by a book that has been around for quite a long time. It is mass sold everywhere, even given away in schools and hotel rooms. This book contains numerous instances whereby mass murder and genocide are not only condoned, but justified. Likewise for slavery and the utter exploitation, if not domination, of women and young girls. Furthermore, it professes violence against those who happen to be homosexuals. And last, but not least, it justifies and condones incest. These things are clearly against Canadian laws - aside from the fact that the morals of our present Canadian society actually condemn severely such heinous practices. As per your own logic, dear CSBC censors, "even if once acceptable, such practices have evolved to become unacceptable in (all) circumstances". The title of this most offending book? The Bible.

Thus, I expect you people to censor the on air (TV and radio) reading of this foul book, unless any and all passages read on air are suitably edited.
Now, let us wait and see if those airheads of the CBSC will a) hypocritically ignore my complaint; b) reconsider their dumbass (non)reasoning; or c) drive their dumbass (non)reasoning to its logical conclusion and act according to my complaint.

In the meantime, I give you (of course) - Dire Straits/Money For Nothing:

(And I hereby pledge to put up this song once every month on APOV's Late Night Friday Ode until those idiots wake the fuck up and actually use their brains for a change - that is, if they actually have brains ...)

In the meantime - keep on rockin', eh?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

But, But - It's Only Rhetoric! (... Right?)

(Updated below)

"It's only rhetoric meant to energize the base".

How often have we been hearing this excuse, this self-serving justification to diminish the terrible impact that words and symbols can have on all of us?

How often those demagogues likewise use profusely such a justification, such a cynical excuse, to detach themselves from any responsibility their violent words and imagery actually have?

Behold just a few relatively recent examples of "it's only rhetoric".

From March 2010 (emphasis added):
Palin tells followers to ‘reload’ and ‘aim for’ Democrats

(...) Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has now done her part to raise the rhetorical intensity, telling her Twitter followers, "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!'"

Palin then refers supporters to her Facebook page, where she once again employs gun imagery in offering a list of 20 potentially vulnerable pro-reform Democrats in Congress.

"We're paying particular attention to those House members who voted in favor of Obamacare and represent districts that Senator John McCain and I carried during the 2008 election," Palin writes. "We'll aim for these races and many others." This is followed by a map of the United States showing gun crosshairs over the targeted districts.
Here's the excuse for using such violent-driven words and symbols (emphasis added):
McCain: ‘Fine’ for Palin to use gun imagery directed at Democrats

Senator John McCain sees no problem with his former running-mate's advice that Republicans should "reload" and "aim for" Democrats in next fall's elections.

(...) "I have seen the rhetoric of 'targeted districts' as long as I've been in politics," McCain responded, chuckling. "To say that there's a targeted district or that we 'reload' or 'got back into the fight again.' Please."

(...) "Those (words) are fine," McCain reaffirmed, smiling broadly. "They're used all the time."

(...) "The language that we should be using today is the language that we are using," McCain repeated. "We condemn violence. ... To somehow say that someone's in a battleground state is somehow offensive -- simply, I'm sorry."

Here's another instance of "it's only rhetoric" that comes to mind, from June 2010 (emphasis added):
Sharron Angle Floated '2nd Amendment Remedies' As 'Cure' For 'The Harry Reid Problems'

Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate turned Republican primary winner in Nevada, has taken heat for a number of extreme affiliations and policy positions. One of the more outlandish was a statement she made during a radio interview last January in which she floated the idea that the public would bring down an out-of-control Congress with "Second Amendment remedies."

Since the clip surfaced, courtesy of the Plum Line's Greg Sargent, there has been no comment from the Angle campaign. The candidate herself spent much of Tuesday rubbing elbows with Republicans on the Hill and avoiding the media. In the interim, however, the Huffington Post has been forwarded more evidence demonstrating the candidate's apparent comfort with the notion of armed insurrection against the government.

In an interview she gave with conservative talk show host Bill Manders earlier in the campaign, Angle conspicuously floated, once again, "Second Amendment remedies" to deal not just with the supposedly ever-growing "tyrannical" U.S. government, but to replace her now general election opponent: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Angle: I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who's in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical...

Manders: If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now.

Angle: Well it's to defend ourselves. And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.

Manders cut to break after the statement. So there was no expansion on Angle's proclamation. Prior to that sound bite, however, Angle hinted that she was likely carrying a concealed .44 magnum model 29 during the interview.

But, it's all perfectly logical and acceptable to speak of such things, after all - or so went Angle's justification (emphasis added):
Sharron Angle Addresses 'Second Amendment Remedies': Revolution Is 'Possible'

Tea Party-backed Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle again fielded questions about some of her more controversial statements Wednesday, including those about "Second Amendment remedies" and "domestic enemies" in Congress, and again chose to explain them as perfectly acceptable and logical rather than walk them back.

Asked by ABC News's Jon Karl to clarify an earlier conversation regarding the role of "Second Amendment remedies" in combating a "tyrannical" government, Sharron Angle at first shied away from the answer, then claimed that the entire exchange was taken out of context. In the end, however, she maintained that she believed a "revolutionary situation" was indeed "possible."

KARL: And of course, Jefferson said the tree of liberty needs to be fed with the blood of tyrants from time to time. But do you really can you foresee us getting into a situation where there is such anger in this country that we're in a revolutionary situation again?

ANGLE: Well, I think at the conclusion of that discussion, I said I hope not.

KARL: But, but you think it's possible? I mean hoping...

ANGLE: Well, of course, anything is possible, I suppose.

Karl then pressed Angle on her comments concerning so-called "domestic enemies in Congress," to which she again replied that the original statement was removed from its intended context.

Here's how Angle expounded on the remarks:
ANGLE: In context, we were talking about the policies of the government that have really caused problems for us in the past 18 months. We have seen policies come down that have really become the enemy of the people.

KARL: Do we have enemies of the country in the halls of Congress?

ANGLE: Certainly people who pass these kinds of policies -- Obamacare, cap and trade, stimulus, bailout -- they're certainly not friends to the free market system.

KARL: So, so what are they?

ANGLE: (laughs) They're not friends.
Angle has been provided with ample opportunities to walk back her usage of both the "Second Amendment remedy" and "domestic enemies" phrases, yet each time she has instead chosen to justify them and attack the context in which the media has chosen to place them.
But fear not - this is nothing more than academic discussion and rhetoric:
"I was speaking broadly, as you saw, about the Constitution, and that was the context of that rhetoric," (Sharron Angle) explained.
Then, there is also this "oldie" but still a goodie - from October 2008 (emphasis added):
Bachmann Calls For McCarthyite Investigation Into Anti-American Activities Of Liberals

Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the patriotism of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), based on his alleged relationship to former Weather Underground member William Ayers and the values of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views,” said Bachmann. “That’s what the American people are concerned about.”

She then went further, suggesting that all liberal views — held by people such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, professors, and all Americans who identify themselves as “liberals” — are “anti-American.” When host Chris Matthews, stunned by her remarks, asked Bachmann how many people in Congress hold anti-American views, she responded, “You’ll have to ask them.”

Bachmann called on the media to conduct investigations into the anti-American activities of members of Congress, similar to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s discredited House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950s. “I think people would love to see an exposé like that,” she claimed.
How about this - from August 2010 (emphasis added):
(...) An Alabama-based blog, called “Sipsey Street irregulars,” has launched a “window war” against Democrats and has kept a tally of all the recent window damage, according to CNN.

Blogger Michael B. Vanderboegh told CNN that he called on people to break Democratic Party headquarters windows at the city and county level but not congressional offices because he didn’t want anyone to face federal charges. “I can understand,” he added, “how someone can be frustrated enough to throw a brick through a congresswoman’s window.”
Here are the results:
The window broken Friday at the Niagara Falls office of Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, was one of at least four cases of vandalism targeting Democratic offices across the country late last week during the debate over health care reform.

A window was also broken at the Monroe County Democratic headquarters in Rochester.

In Tuscon, Ariz., a window at the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords also was broken.

And at Democratic headquarters in Sedgewick County, Kan., a brick with anti-Obama and anti-health care messages was thrown.
Or this, from March 2010 again (emphasis added):
Democrats face death threats and vandalism over healthcare reform bill

(...) The FBI was called in to help handle a torrent of abuse, from bricks through congressional office windows to sinister, obscene phone messages. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said the threats had "no place in a civil debate in our country".

The House Democratic leader, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said that at least 10 House members were concerned for their personal safety, and a number reported their offices had been vandalised.

In one incident, authorities in Virginia are investigating a severed propane gas line at the home of the brother of a Democrat who supported the overhaul measure. An activist with the "tea party" movement had posted the brother's address on an internet forum, apparently thinking it was the congressman's, and urged angry opponents to pay him a visit. A New York Democrat reported a brick was thrown through a window at her office, and a glass front door was smashed at the office of an Arizona Democrat.

One caller to the office of Bart Stupak, a Democrat who voted for the legislation, said: "I hope you bleed ... [get] cancer and die." A fax to his office carried a picture of a gallows with "Bart (SS) Stupak" on it and a noose attached.

Representative James Clyburn, the highest ranking black lawmaker, said he received a fax with an image of a noose. Others received threatening phone calls.

Representative Phil Hare, an Illinois Democrat, told the Politico news website that several Democrats had told their spouses to move out of their constituencies while the legislators are in Washington.

"If this doesn't get under control in short time, heaven forbid, someone will get hurt," Hare told the paper.

The Republican House leader, John Boehner, has spoken out against the violence, but Democrats have criticised Republicans for not forcefully condemning the violence and threats and for encouraging raucous demonstrations.

By now, it has become undeniable that it is the Right that has developed a mastery of fearmongering, hatemongering and violence-ladden rhetoric.

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about the American or Canadian Right, here.

Both have become essentially the same.

They have become masters at wrapping themselves with the flag, all the while condemning those that disagree with them as being anti-patriots, traitors, enemies of the country.

It's all about militarism, security and police, versus criminals, terrorists, foreign/domestic enemies and subversives.

And they are the ones who show up at political rallies with guns, they are the ones who would see no stringencies whatsoever regarding buying and owning guns - any kind of gun.

Because to them, it's all about "might makes right" - just one small example from May 2008 (emphasis added):
Harper announces 20-year, $30B plan to beef up military

The Tory government announced a 20-year, multibillion-dollar plan to strengthen Canada's military, which includes the purchase of new aircraft, armoured vehicles, ships and helicopters, and a goal to expand the Forces to 100,000.

Referring to it as the "Canada First Defence Strategy," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the long-term investments in the military could reach costs of up to $30 billion.

"If a country wants to be taken seriously in the world, it must have the capacity to act. It's that simple," Harper said Monday at the Halifax Armoury, joined by Defence Minister Peter MacKay. "Otherwise, you forfeit your right to be a player. You're the one chattering on the sideline that everyone smiles at, but no one listens to."
This is exactly the mindset of the Right - the loudest voice backed by threats of violence always comes on top.

Just ask the Glenn Becks, Bill O'Reillys, Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters and all their tv/radio/blog like-minded demagogues.

You want people you oppose philosophically, ideologically, politically, or theologically, to meet their demise? Call them enemies. Call them traitors. Call them evil, monsters, subhumans. Accuse them of being violent and dangerous. And make sure that someway, somehow, their picture, home address, places of shopping/worship, etc., become publicly known - especially on web pages.

Then just wait and see ... for sooner or later, one of your avid like-minded followers will act.

Here's just one more note added in proof:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords among 19 shot outside Tucson grocery store

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot Saturday during a public event outside a Tucson, Arizona grocery store.

(...) Giffords is expected to live, according to Tucson's deputy city manager, MSNBC reported.

She was among 19 people shot, including a federal judge, by alleged gunman Jared Loughner, 22, according to Pima County Sheriff's Dept. So far, six have died from wounds sustained in the sudden attack, according to published reports.

Yes, this is the same Gabrielle Giffords that was one of the targets on Palin's Facebook page mentionned above.

Yes, this is the same Gabrielle Giffords that had her office vandalized, as also mentionned above.

And yes, this is the very same Gabrielle Giffords that had been the target of violent rhetoric and symbolism by her Tea Party/Republican opponent in the elections of last November, Jesse Kelly:
Flashback: Giffords Opponent Had M16 Shooting Event, 'Help Remove Gabrielle Giffords From Office'

Back in June 2010, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's (D-AZ) Republican opponent Jesse Kelly had an event at which voters could shoot an assault rifle with the candidate, promoted as thus:

Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly

(Highlighted image via Blog For Arizona)

(...) Late Late Update: In another example, Kelly's website had also cross-posted a local news article that carried the headline "Kelly places the crosshairs squarely on Rep. Giffords:
(Click image to enlarge.)

The link on Kelly's site was taken down today, and now simply takes the reader to his general news page. (It worked earlier today, when I took that screen grab.) However, the original article in the local paper is still up.

Oh - and that Federal Juge that was shot at the same time as Rep. Giffords and, sadly, died? I'll give you one guess (emphasis added):
Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, said in a press advisory that in 2009, Judge Roll was a target of death threats fueled by radio talks shows due to a civil rights lawsuit over which he presided.

"The threats materialized after one show, Judge Roll's name logged more than 200 phone calls as some callers threatened the judge and his family," she said. "This resulted in the judge and his wife were under a protection detail for one month as Judge Roll was given twenty four hours a day, seven days a week security by the US Marshals Service.

She continued, "An US Attorney's investigation ruled that four men were identified as threat makers, but no charges were filed."
Whether you are a politician, a juge, a physician or any type of activist - if you go against the ideology of the Right, then you are sure to be called out on tv, radio or blogs. Repeatedly, at that.

Then your days will be numbered from then on.

Of course, the guy who shot at Rep. Giffords, the juge and 18 others was a deranged person.

Then again, it is always a deranged person that will commit such acts - after, of course, being encouraged directly or indirectly by "rhetoric" from a Right Wing politican, pundit, reverend, talk-show host, (anti-abortion/gay/whatever) activist or blogger.

But, but ... it's only rhetoric.

Just ask Sarah Palin, today:
The website for Palin's PAC appeared to have withdrawn the crosshairs over Giffords' name today. The former vice president candidate also posted her "condolences" to the victims on her Facebook page.

"My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona," she wrote. "On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."
(Note that only Gifford's name was removed. Not those of the others because, apparently, they remain in the crosshairs of Palin's PAC. How sincere, then, are Palin's condoleances?).

Also, just ask Jesse Kelly today:

The former US Marine that ran against Giffords who used violent imagery in campaign ads also expressed his sympathy for his political opponent.

"We are all deeply saddened by this morning's shooting. Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims, and their families are in our prayers," Jesse Kelly said in a tweet.

(Note also that Kelly's web site was "restructured" to erase any of his violent imagery against Giffords, as likewise mentionned above).

And just ask John McCain today as well:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stated that he was "horrified by the violent attack" and lashed out at the suspected shooter.

“Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law,” he said.
It's always the same old hypocritical, self-serving rationale ... you fearmonger, you make profuse usage of violent imagery and words, then indignantly condemn those who actually act out on your fearmongering, hatemongering and violence-ladden rhetoric.

In short: it's never anobody's fault that a deranged person, or persons, decided to act upon those that keep on being named as enemies, traitors, monsters and whatnot, by the good folks on the Right.

Again, just ask the Glenn Becks, Sean Hannitys, Michael Savages and Bill O'Reillys of the world:

Sadly, there is some evidence to support the notion that Beck, Hannity, and O’Reilly have served as the inspiration for individuals disposed to act out with violence. In July 2008, a Tennessee man went on a “shotgun rampage” in a Unitarian church “during a childrens’ production of ‘Annie,’” killing two and injuring six. Police found a letter, explaining his attack was motivated by “a hatred of liberalism and Democratic leaders.” They also found three books in his home:

[Police] seized three books from Adkisson’s home, including “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television commentator Bill O’Reilly; “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder,” by radio personality Michael Savage; and “Let Freedom Ring,” by political pundit Sean Hannity.

Richard Poplawski, who killed three police officers in April in Pittsburgh, may have been partially inspired by Beck. Poplawski “bought into…conspiracy theories hook, line and sinker” and was motivated by a belief that President Obama would “outlaw guns.” Beck and other right-wing pundits pushed the false notion that Obama would ban firearms, leading to a spike in gun sales after his election. Poplawski watched Beck and even posted a clip of Beck and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) discussing FEMA camps — a common subject of right-wing conspiracy theories — to a white supremacist web site.

In May, abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered in the foyer of his church. Prior to this incident, O’Reilly regularly singled out Tiller on his show — there are nearly 1,800 abortion providers in the country — referring to him repeatedly as “Tiller the Baby Killer” and saying that he “executes babies.” Tiller’s name appeared in 29 episodes of “The Factor” between 2005 and Tiller’s death. As Salon’s Gabriel Winant wrote in May, “there’s no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose,” as O’Reilly. Legal and psychological experts event suggested that Scott Roeder — Tiller’s accused killer — might be able to use “the O’Reilly defense” in court. “The deluge of ‘Tiller is a Nazi, mass murderer, baby killer’ verbiage by Mr. O’Reilly surely can drive one into a state of what we in the legal profession call ‘righteous assassination,’” legal expert Jonathan Turley told Huffington Post’s Scott Young.

From there, the (now all-too) predictable hypocritical dance continues.

Here's one more example (emphasis added):
Beck implores viewers to not turn violent: "Just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything"

BECK: The best thing that you can do right now is to let Congress know that you are watching them like a hawk. You show up. You let them feel your burning gaze on them at all times. But here's the thing that I am concerned about. Your interaction with them needs to be respectful, polite, forceful, and peaceful.

I have been warning Congress now for a couple of years, and the time has come and passed for them to be able to learn from this. I have been telling them you have to listen to the people, or they will be in real big trouble.

Well, now let me give the warning to you. If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the republic. I feel it with everything in me.

There is a great reason for hope right now, because I am telling you for the first time since I started saying this in the last couple of years, for the first time, I know it. I feel it. The American people are starting to wake up.

These people in Washington have no idea what they have done. They have awakened a sleeping giant. But just one lunatic, like Timothy McVeigh, could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for, because these people in Washington won't pass up the use of an emergency.

Look how the media ran with the abortion doctor killing. They tried to pin that despicable act on Fox in general, and specifically Bill O'Reilly and me. The only thing either of us have ever said is that there's no reason for that, ever.

I don't want to ever hear from our own Americans, anyone, voicing some sort of Muslim extremist-type justification as we heard in the circles after 9-11 -- "Well, I could see how they, you know, how they felt they had to do it. Of course, I don't agree." Absolutely not.

There is no excuse for violence. Our founders sailed across the ocean, battled killer storms, smallpox. They vomited for three months on a tiny little wooden ship with a bed sheet for a sail just to get a grievance before the king. They did that for 20 long years.

What have we done? Oh, I sent an email. I made a phone call. They won't even listen to me anymore. So the next logical progression is email, phone, a gun? Only for a crazy person.

If you ever hear someone thinking about or talking about turning violent, it is your patriotic duty to stop them. The only way to save our republic is to remain peaceful -- forceful but peaceful.
Or this other example (emphasis added):
Sarah Palin spokesman denies that his campaign encourages violence

A spokeswoman for the Republican presidential nominee Sarah Palin, referring to Saturday's attack against Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, denied that the campaign against the U.S. Health Reform encourages violence.

Palin has been a vociferous opponent of the health legislation signed by President Barack Obama.

Its advertising campaign features a graphic of the country with what appears to be a shotgun look on each state in which one or a congressman has voted in favor of the law, including the state of Arizona, Giffords.

Rebecca Mansour, spokesman for Palin, emphasized to the local press that "never, never again " were intended to be scopes.
In other words - it's only rhetoric.

Remember this, from fall 2008:
You reap what you have sown so recklessly and dangerously, John McCain:
McCain calls Obama 'decent person,' is booed

McCain sort of can't win here. Parnes reports from Minnesota:
A man in the audience stood up and told McCain he's "scared" of an Obama presidency and who he'd select for the Supreme Court.

"I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don't have to be scared of as president of the United States," McCain said as the crowd booed and shouted "Come on, John!"

"If I didn't think I'd be a heck of a lot better, I wouldn't be running for president of the united states."
If it's not the Times editorial board jeering him, it's his own crowd.

ALSO: Whoa:
A woman at the town hall asks softly: "I've heard that Sen. Obama is an Arab."

McCain quickly cuts the woman off.

"No, maam. He's a decent family man and citizen," McCain says. "He's not. Thank you."
Finally, McCain demands respect for Obama

John McCain for the first time today signaled that it's time for him and Sarah Palin to stop their lynch-mob tactics. He gave a speech today and, in response to a supporter urging him to take the gloves off and start fighting, he said he'll fight, but he's going to be respectful to Sen. Obama. The crowd booed. McCain stopped them and insisted, no, we will run a respectful campaign.
It is too late, as these exchanges between McCain and his own, already-sold and loyal-to-the-bone crowds painfully show.

You, John McCain, have awaken the ugly, raging and violent beast and furthermore whipped it into a frenzy of rage and hate. But now that you finally realize where this may lead, you fear and tremble at the consequences as you try to placate the frenzied beast in an empty gesture to wash yourself in advance of any responsibility for what it may do.

You are far too little, too late, John McCain.

In between, your vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin continues forth with the smear attacks to demonize Barack Obama, whipping even more the fear, resentment and rage among your McCain-Palin "base", if not of many other Americans as well.

She goes on prodding the beast while you only now begin to placate it with platitudes.

Far too little to late. Or far too little and not enough.
Let it be repeated over and over again: the Right owns fearmongering, owns hatemongering and owns violence-ladden rhetoric.

And they can rationalize their innocence and lack of any responsibility whatsoever all they want whenever someone, sooner or later, acts upon their use of violent words and symbols, but the fact remains that they are accomplices.

They essentially give the orders - whether they realize it or not.

For, it is a simple verity that words and symbols can make people, even "sane ones", do many terrible things:
They will burn books, break things (records, pieces of art, etc.) and vandalize, if not destroy/blow-up, buildings.

They will go to war gladly and happily.

They will blow themselves up, immolate themselves, drink poisonned kool aid or commit murder - even genocide.

They will placidly accept the erosion of their civil rights, even the nullification of human rights.

They will even embrace authoritarianism.
Because when you exploit ignorance to foster fear, the latter inevitably leads to hate - then violence.

Anyone knows that this is the inevitable dénoument whenever fearmongering, hatemongering and violence-ladden rhetoric is used.

So when you do just that, using violent words and symbols to promulgate your political or religious agenda, you either have no human conscience whatsoever when you join others in condemning acts of political/religious violence after the fact, or you are nothing more than the worst and most vile type of hypocrites. Or both.

And that, in a nutshell, represents the Right.

We just had one more undeniable proof of that this week-end.

I weep for our democracies.

Update 01/10/2011: I find I have been remiss - after all, there are so many examples of Right Wing fearmongering, hatemongering and violence-ladden rhetoric out there over the last ten years or so, I hope I will be forgiven for not having thought of reminding everyone of this other classic example of "it's only rhetoric" (albeit the person caught in the act has been already pointed out in this post above) - so, here it is, from March 2009 (emphasis added):
Bachmann: ‘I Want People…Armed And Dangerous On This Issue’ Of Cap And Trade

During a Saturday interview with WWTC 1280 AM flagged by Smart Politics, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) slammed President Obama’s cap and trade plan, warning that it would have “the impact of forever changing our country.” She was particularly incensed that the bill was meant to address global warming, which she flatly denied was a human-caused problem:

BACHMANN: And actually, we want this debate because the science is on our side on this one. And the science indicates that human activity is not the cause of all this global warming. And that in fact, nature is the cause, with solar flares, etc.

Instead of merely opposing the legislation, however, Bachmann compared Washington, D.C. to “enemy lines” and urged her supporters to become “armed and dangerous” and fight a “revolution” against cap and trade legislation:

BACHMANN: And really now in Washington, I’m a foreign correspondent in enemy lines. And I try to keep everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington. [...]

I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.

(And never mind the outright lies and fallacies spewed forth by this person - as demonstrated here).

So -what was it I said about primitive minds? Ah, yes:
They lie, they misrepresent, they use decoy arguments and make ad hominem attacks. For them, the use of duplicity, of secrecy, of arguments of (non-existent) conspiracy, of fact (and non-fact) selectivity/cherry-picking, of quacks/fake experts, as well as putting forth logical fallacies, are simply means to an end.

And this "end" is the following: to promulgate, support and defend their beliefs or their ideologies.

Truth be told: these are the only things that truly matter to them.

Why else would they try to censor science, attempt to control it, seek to falsify it or rewrite it, quietly hide it, brazenly deny funding for it, attempt to change its mission/purpose, actually lie about it, use spin games to deny it, go to great lenghts to confuse people about it, attempt to dismiss it as a matter of differing beliefs or philosophies, or go as far as to demonize it?

Why else would they use the politics of fear, ignorance and lies?
Thus, I reiterate: the Right owns fearmongering, owns hatemongering and owns violence-ladden rhetoric.

Q.E.D. - yet again.