Best wishes for a happy and peaceful 2008
with love from Max
Best wishes for a happy and peaceful 2008
with love from Max
Just in case you were wondering what the KBR detention camps were for…
A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.
Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau.
Those arrests, which were proposed in July 1950, were never carried out. But if you go a little bit further back in history, you will get to the time when Hoover was able to arrest thousands of people whose politics he didn’t approve of.
A. Mitchell Palmer was the United States Attorney General under President Woodrow Wilson. Palmer had appointed Hoover as his special assistant. Palmer and Hoover were apparently worried that communists were going to overthrow the American government so they hatched a plan to use the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 to persecute communists, anarchists and social reformers.
In November and December 1919, 10,000 people were arrested and held without trial, many of them for an extended period of time. The Department of Justice subsequently found no evidence of a planned revolution and eventually released most of the prisoners. However, 248 of the suspects, including the famous anarchist and activist Emma Goldman, were put on a ship and deported to Soviet Russia.
There were 6,000 more arrests in January 1920. Again, detainees were held for weeks or months without being charged, without the possibility to post bail, and without access to legal counsel. And again some were deported.
But the idea that the KBR camps are for political prisoners or dissidents is preposterous.
kd flew back to The Amerika last Friday to spend 3 weeks with her family and friends in Central and Northern California. I have to specify that because people from Upper California are to Lower California as Canadians are to The Amerika. Meaning that god forbid you should make the mistake of thinking they might be from south of the dividing line.
Although I shouldn’t pick only on the Canucks. Even Aussies and Kiwis are sewing their national flags onto their backpacks and bags these days – looks like no one at all wants to be mistaken for someone from The Amerika. They’re probably afraid they’ll get beat up. Well, you all look like twats with your flags, but that is not what I want to rant about today.
Instead, I would like to share an email I got from kd:
My favorite quote from the Modesto Bee, 17.12.2007:
“There is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that cannot get television,”
said Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, talking about the impending change from analog to digital tv.
I realise I am seeing that quote out of context, but what the fuck.
How about, “there is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that cannot count on his sacred Constitutional rights”
or “there is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that just wants Congress to stand up to the president and end the fucking war in Iraq”
or “there is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that has just lost her house because of irresponsible lending practices”
or “there is no anger that comes close to the anger of an American that is having fundamentalist religion shoved down her throat everywhere she goes”
or – fill in your own favourite anger-inducing issue.
Thanks, kd. And have a great time in The Amerika.
Brussels, 17 December – Czech students from the Arts High School in Liberec, North Bohemia win contest for the best billboard on “EU and Non-Discrimination”. Story here.
I am not paying much attention to the campaigning in the presidential primaries in The Amerika. With the exception of Ron Paul, I think that all of the candidates, whether Republican or Democrat, are simply unacceptable. Therefore I don’t really care what they have to say or what their religious beliefs are or whether they used to smoke crack or engage in bestiality. The idea that one of those loathsome people is going to end up as leader of the free world fills me with horror.
But today I am going to nominate my candidate for freakiest of the freaks – Michael Dale Huckabee, Southern Baptist minister, former governor of Arkansas, covenant marriager, and advocate of concentration camps for AIDS patients.
My disdain for Huckabee started back in August when I was reading Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming and came across the 2005 public spectacle of the Huckabees’ covenant marriage ceremony:
The highlight of the night was the Huckabees’ conversion of their marriage and restatement of their vows, including Janet’s pledge to “submit” to Mike. When they were done, they invited the audience to repeat their promises. Thousands of wives, some in evening gowns or wedding veils, vowed to submit to thousands of husbands…
More recently Huckabee’s 1992 remarks about AIDS sufferers were brought to light. “We need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague…” Nice one, Dickhead.
And within the last few days – the fact that he had advocated parole for the rapist of a 17-year old girl. The released rapist went on to rape and murder two more women.
A beauty of a quote came out just yesterday. Claiming that he believed Mormonism was a religion, but admitting that he didn’t know much about it, Huckabee asked, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Not really an appropriate question for a clergyman or a statesman to ask about a religion.
And of course Huckabee doesn’t believe in evolution.
For more on what a fucking freak Mike Huckabee is, read Larry Womack’s column here. There are some good links as well.
I have to admit that I was shocked this morning when I heard the results of the BBC poll on press freedom. To be fair, the headline question in the survey had not been, “Do you believe that a free press is important?” In fact, there were two statements, both of which acknowledged that there is no question that a free press is important. The question then really was whether or not a free press is essential.
People across 14 countries were asked to choose which of two statements on the freedom of the media was closest to their own view:
· Freedom of the press to report the news truthfully is very important to ensure we live in a fair society, even if it sometimes leads to unpleasant debates or social unrest.
· While freedom of the press to report the news truthfully is important, social harmony and peace are more important which sometimes means controlling what is reported for the greater good.
Worldwide 40% of people answered that social harmony and peace are more important than a free press. Which means that worldwide, 40% of people do not understand that without an absolutely free press there can be no freedom.
The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure. – Thomas Jefferson
There is a reason that freedom of the press is canonised in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The concept of a free press was born in the US, as was the concept of real liberty. They are inseparable.
A free press is not a perfect or uniform entity and the press will sometimes agitate and cause disorder. But that is the way things need to be.
With newspapers, there is sometimes disorder; without them, there is always slavery. – Benjamin Constant
Nazi Germany did not have a free press, the Soviet Union did not have a free press. Even in today’s supposedly democratic Russia, journalists are being murdered for what they report.
Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. – Joseph Pulitzer
The results of the survey were also reported by country. 70% of people in the US realised that a free press is essential rather than just important, which was the highest percentage of any country. But 28% of people in the US thought stability and peace were more important, whilst 2% were too stupid to answer the question. That is all worrying. All people in a supposedly free society should understand the essential nature of a free press, and in the US most of all. 70% is far too low.
If the press is not free, if speech is not independent and untrammelled, if the mind is shackled or made impotent through fear, it makes no difference under what form of government you live, you are a subject and not a citizen. – Senator William E Borah
HG Wells once said that the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was due to the fact that they didn’t have any newspapers.
I have had requests for a report, so here goes – we’ll see how much I can remember…
I turned 42 on Friday, 7 December, but the celebrations had started earlier. Jono flew over from Paris on Wednesday night, arriving at my house at 11.15. I had been at the pub and already had a solid buzz going, but we went to my local for a couple of beers anyway. We were thrown out at 1 o’clock because that’s when they close. I went straight to bed so that I would be able to go to the gym in the morning.
Fast forward to Thursday evening. A couple of other friends were in town from England so Jono and I had arranged to have dinner with them at Passepartout, a restaurant where the food is beautiful and we know the owners. We had a lovely dinner with a couple of bottles of wine and cognacs to finish the meal. Our other friends left around midnight. Shortly thereafter Jono informed the owners that it was then my birthday, and for the next few hours we received even more free booze than we usually do. We finally stumbled into a taxi at 3.30.
My phone rang at 7.30 on Friday morning. It was my parents calling from the night before in LA to wish me a happy birthday. They were puzzled why they had woken me up – expecting that I would either be in the gym or getting ready to go to work. I explained that work would remain out of the question for another couple of hours, but that I would get there eventually. And I did make it into work promptly at 11.15. I left to go to lunch at 12.45. It was my birthday.
I worked hard all afternoon and left the office just after 5. Jono and I had planned to go to dinner that evening at a restaurant that does only tasting menus, but due to a change in plans we weren’t going to have time to indulge in a 10-course meal. After looking for inspiration on the internet, we decided to go to the Sarah Bernhardt Restaurant at the Hotel Paříž.
Dinner was wonderful. The restaurant was rather empty and too brightly lit, both of which we felt took away from the overall experience. But the food and the service were excellent. We had a glass of champagne as our aperitif and then Jono – who has really expanded his knowledge of wine since moving to France – chose a deliciously verbose Bordeaux.
Eva and Vašek arrived just as we were finishing our coffees so Jono ordered another bottle of wine. After we had drunk that, we moved to the cocktail bar formerly known as Alcohol Bar where we had several or a half dozen cocktails. It was great to see Eva and Vašek and it was all fun. Even the music was good. When the DJ put on Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, all conversation in the bar stopped because all of the drunks wanted to sing along. We left around 3 when the bar closed.
Jono and I walked Eva and Vašek back to their car where they had to wait for Modrý Anděl – one of those taxi services that comes with 2 drivers to drive your car home for you. We called a taxi from there. And when we got home we cracked open a bottle of champagne because we didn’t want the night to end.
Upon leaving the house on Saturday morning (afternoon), Jono and I walked through the park and over to Bořivojova Street so that I could show him the house where the flat we are buying will be. And the exciting thing was that we saw people working there. Meaning that they have finally started reconstructing the house.
I had a fantastic birthday weekend and I even went to the gym today right after Jono left. Boris sent me flowers.