Life In These Here United States

Want to know how the militarist empire really works, down in its corroded guts? Then read this from the Miami New Times: Armed Again: Indicted Miami Beach weapons dealer Efraim Diveroli is still making millions of dollars from the U.S. government.

Want to see how Barack Obama is going to escalate George W. Bush's "faith-based initiatives," increasing the amount of tax money going to religious groups – while refusing to categorically prevent them from discriminating against infidels and heretics while they pocket public cash? Then read this from Arthur Silber: No, No: My Armageddon Fantasies Are the Best!

Want to see enlightened justice in action in the home of the land and the brave of the free? Then read this from the New York Times: Defining ‘Cruel and Unusual’ When Offender Is 13.

Want a glimpse at the truly perverse moral universe of our wise and progressive leaders? Then take a gander at the testimony of Leon Panetta, nominee for CIA chief, as he assures Congress that he "would not hestitate" to ask Obama to use "harsher interrogation techniques" than those allowed in the Army Field Manual. Panetta also says he might possibly look into prosecuting a few bits of low-hanging CIA fruit if it turns out that they might have gone beyond the permission to "torture up to the limit of death or severe bodily harm" standards set by John Yoo and George W. Bush. Then again, he may not prosecute anybody either. You may be struck by the complete absence of any reference – by Panetta or the Congressional solons – of the possibility of prosecuting those who designed, approved and supervised the torture system. That possibility does not exist in the universe of our wise and progressive leaders. Finally, for a bit of garnish, note the story's passing reference to some objections to Panetta's nomination, specifically, "some questions from Republicans concerned over his denunciations of torture." We have come so far in our advanced 21st century civilization that United States Senators can now express doubts about an appointee's fitness because he has denounced the use of torture. (Even though said appointee is frantically signalling to the powers that be that he doesn't mind the rough stuff – just as long as you don't call it torture.) Read it all, in slack-jawed wonder, in this Reuters story: Obama CIA Pick May Back 'Limited' Abuse Prosecution.