Tag Archives: terrorism

‘I should burn in hell and I was a deformity’

Decapitated Barbie dolls, dirty laundry, and a van whose interior smelled like thirteen rotting possums. And Sayoc, the Trumpist nut, was an asshole homophobe too.

His former boss at a Fort Lauderdale pizza restaurant said Sayoc, who worked there as a delivery driver during the graveyard shift, would openly mock her for her sexuality and proclaim his love for Adolf Hitler and ethnic cleansing.

“When he found out I was a lesbian the second day, he told me I should burn in hell and I was a deformity, that God made a mistake with me and I should go on an island with Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow and Ellen Degeneres and President Barack Obama and all the misfits of the world,” said Debra Gureghian, the general manager at New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen, where Sayoc worked from January 2017 to January 2018.

Gureghian, a lesbian, said she could not fire Sayoc for his racist and bigoted views. She said Sayoc appeared to have a split personality of sorts. In the same breath, the “dependable” employee would call her a pimple on a flea and still loyally follow her every command.

I remind readers that we homosexuals are expected to smile and even laugh off these cracks like Gureghian did; it’s our life. Yet if we called Sayoc a racist we’d have to worry about Sayoc or his friends waiting for me by my car holding a two-by-four.

Hysteria breeds hysteria

Charles Pierce:

This constituency wasn’t created out of the air. It did not spring fully grown from the brow of the president*. It was carefully created and nurtured over the past four decades by a conservative movement bankrolled by oligarchs who were and are perfectly fine with having murderous, angry grunts out there doing the dirty work for them, the way the fine upstanding Alabama burghers of the White Citizens Council were content to have the Klan round up misfits to blow up churches and kill little girls.

And then, in 2016, lo and behold, the perfect vessel for all of this carefully fashioned rage comes along and he wins a freak election, ends up in the White House, and now everybody’s shocked down to their expensive loafers that there’s a large body of their fellow citizens who believe in, and are willing to act upon, the doomstruck fantasies that they have been so conscientiously fed over the past 40 years?

I remembered the Palmer Raids, the hysteria after the armistice ending the Great War, triggered — no other word — by a series of bombs left by anarchists at the doorsteps of men who included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. The government arrested ten thousand people.

The midterm elections are in thirteen days.

Liveblogging Donald Trump’s address to the nation

With an approval rating average as enthusiastic as middle America’s embrace of foie gras, Donald Trump has decided the Afghan theater needs more men to pacify a country that the Soviets and British couldn’t. Less than eight years ago, Barack Obama, pursuing a strategy called escalate-then-exit that seemed borne out of a junior college’s one PR section, committed several thousand troops, to no avail. But presidents of both parties relish these discussions when they distract from falling poll numbers; now “Morning” Joe and “Mika” Brzezinski need not discuss Charlottesville tomorrow. “Trump’s foreign policy has become almost entirely one favored by Republican hawks because the president doesn’t hold firm convictions on these issues and yields to what his hawkish advisers want,” Daniel Larison writes. “He has accepted a foreign policy of endless war because he is too weak and self-serving to pursue any other course.” This would be true if Democratic presidents and their enablers on the Armed Services Committee didn’t bow before received wisdom so abjectly.

At any rate, let’s begin.

9:44. And voila! Cable news gas bags are giving the president points for delivery. Because I believe I shouldn’t deprive myself of torture — er, enhanced interrogation — I’ll return to listening to The War on Drugs.

9:29. To quote the sapient Donna Summer, who do you think you’re foolin’? No matter how much Americans may recoil from the deaths in Barcelona or may want safety, they don’t want more blood spilled for the sake of Afghanistan.

9:26. “We must restore the bonds of loyalty” among our citizens, said the spokesman for white nationalism.

9:24. What aromatic boilerplate the president has served The American People. Lest I’m accused of partisanship, I called bullshit on Obama’s commitment to stupid wars in which he nevertheless invested American lives.

9:20. I’d believe “micromanagement” does not “win” battles if our president believed in any management, micro or otherwise.

9:17. “We are not nation building. We are killing terrorists.” He loves his sibilants.

9:15. “We will not talk about numbers of troops,” the president says after every wire agency and media outlet has reported how many troops he will send. And since when has any president announced where and when troops will strike?

9:14. LOSERS.

9:12. Trump knows that when he became president he knew he had inherited “big and intricate problems.” But he’s a problem solver.

9:11. Trump pronounces ISIS like Dylan did in 1976.

9:10. The consequences of a rapid exit are “predictable and unacceptable.” The ghosts of Ike, JFK, LBJ, and Nixon clink bourbon glasses.

9:08. He’s got me when he says we’ve spent billions on reconstructing foreign countries in our image, therefore he’s sending more troops to Afghanistan to reconstruct the country in our image.

9:04. “We cannot remain a force of peace” without remaining a force of peace “for each other,” he has the audacity to say. What does Trump know about “sacred bonds of love and loyalty”?

9:03. He’s speaking slowly — he’s using a Teleprompter. “The men and women on our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared purpose,” he writes. The American family, he calls it. Admirable sentiment. He has showed them more respect than civilian.

9:01. God help me but when Trump approaches the dais he reminds me of this august moment.

Of arms and men

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Vote the bastards out. Replace them with senators who will present a filibuster-proof majority for President Hillary Clinton’s SCOTUS nominees. Perhaps this new liberal voting bloc will examine the most impolitic and dangerous comma splice in American constitutional history. But please don’t join the GOP in hysteria. Denying “suspected terrorists” of the right – yes, the right, as interpreted by the Roberts Court – to buy arms reminds me of the time when Walter Mondale called Ronald Reagan a sellout because he wanted to meet in arms negotiations with the Soviets. Fritz Mondale – running to the right of Reagan! When will the left realize this never works? At worst we lose another presidential election. At worst we get this bill. And this bill. The sight of Republicans caring about due process for once is of course impressive, but their sudden enthusiasm doesn’t mean a constitutional principle isn’t at stake.

That pesky due process clause!

Joe Manchin has the demeanor of the manager of a chain gymnasium in a strip mall. I distrust him not only because he’s one of the Beltway’s prized examples of bipartisanship but for being governor when the coaling industry continued its mission of turning West Virginia into an abattoir. If you fuck both your Democratic and Republican constituents, then it’s bipartisan.

I suppose it’s commendable that after Newtown he led the Senate in proposing restrictions on assault weapons, but because he’s such a “centrist” his concept about due process might not stretch far enough to make four Sunday morning talk shows at the same time. SCOTUS has said owning a gun is a protected right under the Second Amendment. It would need an act of Congress amending the amendment or for the Supremes to overrule itself. Elect Democrats to Congress and the White House if you want to make headway. Otherwise, restricting rights with no due process and we open the door for restrictions on other rights.

But this latest alliance between ACLU types and conservatives bothers the hell out of me. Charles Pierce, an expert on drawing up indictments, writes:

Ever since 2001, with several notable and politically impotent exceptions, this same faction of our politics has supported surveillance without due process, rendition without due process, black sites without due process, torture without due process, and the substantial gutting of due process in domestic areas such as the tort system and voting rights, to say nothing of its defense of racial and ethnic profiling, and of police officers for whom due process turns out to have been pepper spray and/or a bullet.

But suggest that someone whom the FBI suspects enough of being a terrorist to keep him off an airplane should be barred from purchasing a deadly weapon and, suddenly, everybody’s a card-carrying member of the ACLU. It’s truly a delightful thing to see.

And then there’s the senior senator from West Virgina, for whom due process is an annoyance. Still, a chap’s got to deal with the blasting thing.

What’s in a name depends on politics

If ISIL is so dangerous, Charles Pierce asks, “how does calling them something, or not calling them something, make them less so?” He refers, of course, to the right’s hysteria over Barack Obama’s refusal to be baited over dangerous semantic games.

As we learn more about [Omar Mateen], he seems to have had a staggering mixture of motives; he was such a tightly wound ball of hate that we never may truly untangle the real cause of why he did what he did. He didn’t much like any minorities. He slapped his first wife around. He broke chairs. He threw angry fits at the office. He may have been a self-loathing gay man.The real tell is that, instead of the customary reaction by the people who knew him as to how Mateen was “a quiet guy who kept to himself,” his friends and co-workers have said pretty much to a person that they expected him to go off somehow somewhere, and soon.

As to politics, at one point or another, Mateen expressed support for Daesh, for Hezbollah, and for the Tsarnaev brothers, which proves only that he knows just as little about Middle East politics as He, Trump does. This act had about as much to do with religion as it had to do with horticulture. The guy was an unstable time bomb who hated everyone who wasn’t him, but who nonetheless had no trouble at all buying an AR-15 rifle and a handgun because freedom and America, that’s why.

But those men who grab their skirts and jump on chairs like a maid “an old cartoon at the mention of RADICAL ISLAM WHOA NELLY have their own problem with referring to things by their proper names:

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Then Pete Sessions’ office clarified:

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Because you can’t be Latinx and gay. Or straight and visit a gay club. I was prepared to say that Omar Mateen was inspired by homophobia and the most malevolent West-hating strain of Islam, but the picture is, as Pierce remarks, murkier this afternoon.

Of geniuses, mandarins, and institutionalists

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Patrick McGilligan – Young Orson

Simon Callow, Clinton Heylin, David Thomson, and the Welles-approved Barbara Leaming have covered this ground, but what distinguishes this SS-20 of a tome is the attention on George Orson’s origins. Raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin by a pianist/actress mother and a dad whose early fortune as a bicycle lamp inventor hastened a descent into alcoholism, the polymath benefited from an environment that paid lip service to the arts; the first seventh of McGilligan’s book is a meticulous account of being a minor artist in the Roosevelt-Taft age, and I’m not usually interested in meticulous accounts of boyhoods. Less compelling is the story of the accumulating triumphs: Horse Eats Hat, Dr. Faustus, the Negro Macbeth, the Mercury Theatre, the contract with RKO Pictures. To my mind it settles the question of Welles’ authorship of Citizen Kane (he and the decrepit, beloved Herman J. Mankiewicz each wrote his own script, the latter under the supervision of bete noire John Houseman; Welles edited, discarded, and added material during filming). The revelations concern his private life: Welles was more infatuated with first wife, Chicago blue blood Virginia Nicolson, than evidence had suggested; his bedhopping was less prodigious than his appetites for steaks and poetry; and around homosexual men from whom he wanted to coax favors he liked to float the possibility that he was one of them (“When I’m with homosexuals, I become a little homosexual, to make them feel at home, you know,” he confided to Henry Jaglom decades later, a couple of years before lending his voice to the monster planet in Transformers: The Movie). A prescient move: Young Orson leaves the Young Genius at the threshold of an aesthetic triumph and at the start of a forty-year saga of wooing: producers, actor-stars, waiters.

Charles Savage — Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency

The Bush administration approved the torture of suspected Al Qaeda members and sympathizers, the Obama administration perfected targeted killing. Thanks to men like Harold Koh, the White House could operate under a carapace of liberal jurisprudence. “Just as [Barack] Obama had bestowed a gloss of bipartisan consensus on those Bush-like policies he continued,” Charlie Savage writers, “Koh had leveraged his history as a liberal human rights champion to vouch for what Obama was doing — including…drone strikes.” The thesis of the New York Times reporter’s hopscotching narrative is the degree to which the president sought robust legal justifications for implementing its policies instead of questioning the assumptions of the national security state; the Office of Legal Counsel was a busy little hive during the Obama years. Caught flatfooted by bipartisan opposition to closing Guantanamo and the Christmas underwear bomber in 2009, the administration conducted its counterterrorism with a forest of memos and signatures. The murder of Al-Awlaki and his son, the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound, Chelsea Manning, the Edward Snowden leaks, the crackdown on whistleblowers – the episodes get thorough review, including interviews with the key personages. Savage, whose Takeover remains the essential story of how a Ford chief of staff and congressman named Richard Cheney saved the imperial presidency from obloquy, is the rare reporter who can write. The unchronological meanwhile-back-at approach ix taxing, though.

David Talbot — The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government

Kim Roosevelt, the master spy behind the overthrow of Iranian president Mossadegh in 1953, joined Gulf Oil at the end of the decade. The newly installed shah, sitting on the Peacock Throne, became a client. His boss Allen and brother John Foster had spent the forties spiriting Nazi pals away from Germany for what they saw as the next and greater war against Soviet communism. This conflation of jingoism and personal financial enrichment drives nearly every important figure in David Talbot’s history of the CIA. Question their motives and the House Un-American Activities committee might call the brave soul to testify under oath. Although in 2013 Stephen Kinzer published his own fantastic-in-ever-sense biography of the Dulles duo, the former Salon editor who wrote The Devil’s Chessboard is even more comprehensive, citing a motherlode of declassified material. He also does more than hint that Allen Dulles, fired by JFK after the Bay of Pigs debacle, knew people who knew people who had Kennedy killed.