Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Juste Entre Nous at the Spy Club

Nicholas Elliott had joined the British Secret Service just before World War II, and after the war they ran a fresh security check on him.
He described it in his memoir, With My Little Eye:
Security officer: “Sit down, I’d like to have a frank talk with you.”
Elliott: “As you wish, Colonel.”
Officer: “Does your wife know what you do?”
Elliott: “Yes.”
Officer: “How did that come about?”
Elliott: “She was my secretary for two years and I think the penny must have dropped.”
Officer: “Quite so. What about your mother?”
Elliott: “She thinks I’m in something called SIS, which she believes stands for Secret Intelligence Service.”
Officer: “Good God! How did she come to know that?”
Elliott: “A member of the War Cabinet told her at a cocktail party.”
Officer: “Then what about your father?”
Elliott: “He thinks I’m a spy.”
Officer: “Why should he think you’re a spy?”
Elliott: “Because the Chief (of SIS) told him in the bar at White’s (the poshest of gentleman’s clubs).” 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hang Your Head in Shame, America

I must be getting old. I can remember a time when Americans didn't delight in being torturers.
"The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs ... The murder of children... How easily that can happen! There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the 'protection' of the country. Of 'survival.' The answer to that is: 'survival as what?' A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult! Before the people of the world — let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth ... and the value of a single human being!"
— Judge Dan Haywood, "Judgment at Nuremburg"

How the Sensible Little Centrist Learned to Love Torture

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Brushing With Plutonium

Some acts are so inherently evil that they're like brushing your teeth with plutonium — so abhorrent that any apparent benefit these acts confer is far outweighed by their long-term corrosiveness to the values that permit human civilization to exist. Such acts include torture, slavery, the killing of children, sadistic abuse of animals, and others.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fox News: They Whore for Torture

Fox News routinely defends bullying, torture, rape and slavery. Connect those dots and the picture that emerges is "fascist propaganda."
Here, Bill O'Reilly claims torture is "morally correct." So far, Americans have been herded into blind acceptance of universal police-state surveillance, permanent war and summary police executions of unarmed people in the street. Now many are cheering for state torture, and Fox News just applauded the idea of slowly cutting off prisoners' fingers and toes. It's pretty unnerving to consider what we're being softened up for.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Stage With FDR and MacArthur

MacArthur, FDR and Admiral Chester Nimitz
Politically in opposing camps, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and President Franklin D. Roosevelt were alike in many ways — including their shared flair for the dramatic.
“Both were intensely patriotic, authentic patricians, and always onstage,” wrote biographer William Manchester in American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964. “Each was dominated by an ambitious mother who lived to great old age, and each cut a dashing figure.
“Roosevelt was subtler and more of a fixer, but the greatest difference was in their political outlooks. FDR was guided by his liberal vision. Despite the whispers of some New Dealers, MacArthur was not a reactionary of the Father Coughlin stripe. As he would demonstrate during his proconsulship in Tokyo, he too cherished liberal goals. But in the 1930s, he was still a Herbert Hoover conservative and good friend of West Pointer Robert Wood, who was now head of Sears, Roebuck and who probably introduced him to James H. Rand of Remington Rand at this time. Like them, MacArthur was appalled by the social programs which Hoover’s successor was passing through Congress.
“He was also baffled by the new president’s finessing skills. Roosevelt could charm anyone, even MacArthur. Once during a White House dinner, the general asked: ‘Why is it, Mr. President, that you frequently inquire my opinion regarding the social reforms under consideration … but pay little attention to my views on the military?’ His host replied: ‘Douglas, I don’t bring these questions up for your advice but for your reactions. To me, you are the symbol of the conscience of the American people.’ This, MacArthur said, ‘took all the wind out of my sales.’ It meant, of course, absolutely nothing.”
MacArthur wouldn’t prove to be as smoothly persuasive with FDR. “The Bureau of the Budget, determined to pull the government out of the red, announced that War Department appropriations for the coming fiscal year would be reduced by $80 million. (Secretary of War George) Dern asked for a conference with FDR and took MacArthur with him. Roosevelt was adamant: funds for the regular army would be cut 51 percent; funds for the reserve and the National Guard would also be reduced. The general, his voice trembling with outrage, said: ‘When we lose the next war, and an American boy with an enemy bayonet through his belly and an enemy foot on his dying throat spits out his last curse, I want the name not to be MacArthur, but Roosevelt.’
“FDR, livid, said, ‘You must not talk that way to the president!’ MacArthur would remember long afterward that he apologized, ‘but I felt my Army career was at an end. I told him he had my resignation as Chief of Staff.’ He turned toward the door, but before he could leave Roosevelt said quietly, ‘Don’t be foolish, Douglas; you and the budget must get together on this.’
“Outside, Dern said jubilantly, ‘You’ve saved the Army.’ The general recalled: ‘But I just vomited on the steps of the White House.’”
FDR wouldn’t be the last president MacArthur crossed, and I don’t mean Harry Truman. I mean his Republican successor, who had worked for MacArthur. MacArthur described Dwight Eisenhower as the “best clerk I ever had,” and Eisenhower, when asked by a woman whether he’d ever met MacArthur, returned the compliment. “Not only have I met him, m’am; I studied dramatics under him for five years in Washington and four years in the Philippines,” Eisenhower replied. Who says Ike wasn’t witty?