Archive for December 2012
Last Thursday, in retaliation to US Congress passing the Magnitsky Act which bars Russian officials accused of human rights abuses from traveling to the US, and owning real estate and financial assets there, Vladimir Putin voiced support for sanctions against US judges accused of violating the rights of adopted Russian children. The Magnitsky Act, named after Sergei L. Magnitsky who died in a Russian pre-trial detention center in 2009 after being arrested for trying to expose government tax fraud provoked the ire Moscow.
In a furious reaction the Kremlin dubbed the Magnitsky Act hypocritical “purely political” and a “vindicatory reaction” by the US government to satisfy internal political squabbling. The Kremlin cited a list of human rights violations perpetrated by the United States at home: “Don’t people die in their prisons as well? Perhaps, even more than in ours,” and abroad. Referring to Guantanamo Bay Putin stated: “People are kept there without trial – in shackles and chains just like in the Middle Ages,” and now, he continued, people “who opened secret prisons and legalized torture during investigations” point out Russia’s shortcomings.
Putin has approved the creation of a counter list of American adoptive parents suspected of abusing adopted children from Russia and passing a law named after Dima Yakolev-the two year old Russian boy who died after his adoptive father locked him in a car on a scorching day in 2008. Like the Magnitsky Act, the Dima Yakolev law will deny visas for blacklisted Americans suspected of abusing adopted Russian children and freeze bank accounts they hold in Russia. In an Op-Ed Mark Nuckols of the Moscow Times wrote, “[the Kremlin’s] measures are also easily susceptible to ridicule since nobody on the blacklist is likely to ever hold their money in a Russian bank or buy property in the country.” Worse, Nuckols suggests that the people associated with Magnitsky’s death the related tax fraud scheme are even less likely to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. Moscow refuses to be perceived as bending to pressures from Washington. Washington is the unrelenting braggadocio of protecting human rights and takes advantage of every opportunity it gets to reinforce this image.
Meanwhile, the agonizing list of American human rights violations is mounting. CIA “black sites” have come under recent scrutiny, last Thursday the Senate Intelligence Committee approved, by a 9-6 party-line vote, a 6,000-page report on C.I.A. detention and interrogation. It remains classified, of course, and is allegedly filled with claims that tortured prisoners provided crucial intelligence that led to Bin Laden’s targeted killing (assassination). The European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously last week that US foreign intelligence kidnapped German national Khaled el-Marsi who was mistakenly identified as an Al-Qaeda operative with the same name. El-Masri “was locked in a hotel room for 23 days, then handed over to a C.I.A. rendition team at an airport, where he was “severely beaten, sodomized, shackled and hooded. Later he was sent to Afghanistan and illegally detained for months.” During Private Bradley Manning’s hearing on December 11th details were disclosed of the unlawful pretrial punishments Manning was subjected to at Quantico brig. Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture spoke of Manning’s conditions at Quantico: “Solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.” Drone strikes are still killing hundreds including unarmed civilians and untried US citizens in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The US prison-industrial-complex continues to streamline thousands of new inmates convicted of non-violent crimes behind bars for sentences unrivaled across the world in a criminogenic nightmare that begets more social violence. America’s complicity in human rights abuses is without end and the political grandstanding surrounding the Magnitsky Act is as Putin chides an “unfriendly act.” Then again unfriendly regimes would use dead whistleblowers and abused children to score political points.
Today, as ever, man is reared by his illusions, suckled at the teat of a world of promise. Shortly after learning to wipe away the dribble from his chin man seeks to fulfill the promises the future holds. He is schooled in the world and someone tells him dribble runs down his chin at which point he ponders: am I not myself promising. Deciding he is not worthy of the world’s promise he desires nothing more than a napkin and stands transfixed to disillusionment for the short remainder of his life.
“We have now an American political party and a European one. Not all Americans who vote for the European party want to become Europeans. But it doesn’t matter because that’s what they are voting for. They are voting for dependency, for lack of ambition and for insolvency.”
Thank you Professor Harvey Mansfield. I will be sure to quote you generously throughout this post to clarify any “misperceptions” that may arise as I try to grasp the meaning of your diatribe.
Mr. Mansfield, Harvard professor and acolyte of Leo Strauss-the reactionary historian of philosophy who sought to reincorporate “premodern” notions into modern philosophy to remind us of the dangers of intellectual inequalities-appeared in a Wall Street Journal interview to chastise “lesser voters”, the “not wise”, “the poor”, “the incompetent”, “the alliance between Ph.D’s and [its] victims” and those who “can’t quite govern their own lives,” in sum, European party supporters.
For starters, dividing liberals and conservatives into a European and American party on the premise that the European party stands for attacking “the common good” with entitlements by way of using “liberty to create more equality,” which according to Mansfield is as “typical” of Europeans as it is for Democrats to be “the party of free condoms” while the American party won’t stand for “mass rule by an ignorant or uncaring governement” is incomprehensible. I’m not sure what you were intending to express Mr. Mansfield, but it seems you were eager to act on some primordial emotional impulse to be understood by the few, who, like you, “have lived the life of Riley” at the expense of being understood by the different kind of victims who are uninterested in “defending the good kind of democracy.” Perhaps that lack of interest stems from the widespread skepticism that the “party of judgement” you call upon to recover America could a.)apporopraitely be called “democratic” and b.) possibly promote “self-government.” When we consider your earlier statement:
All modern social science deals with perceptions, but that is a misnomer because it neglects to distinguish between perceptions and misperceptions
its hard to imagine you not coronating yourself perception arbiter, ruling over which perceptions are valid and invalid, as if you, intellectually more equal than the feckless peons you despise have the divine right to make that distinction.
Thank you again Mr. Mansfield for an insight into the little perspectival corner where you shinest and indoctrinate tomorrows’ leaders, much like Strauss did Rumsfeld.
Man created telecommunication networks, invented the cell phone and forgot what he was trying to communicate in the process, “LOL.” And then Facebook rectified this matter. Everyone could share their ongoing confessional with pictures as testaments and “walls” that connected people across the world. People wanted to share themselves, express who they are, make themselves understood and with a platform to project that compulsion one could not exist unless visible to the entire world, they reasoned. The yearning to belong complimented the longing for security about oneself among one’s peers. Mutual disclosure was the aim. But lack of face-to-face communication made them particularly susceptible to deceit. Rabid volunteerism played into the hands of leaders with a penchant for division and the available network helped them divvy up who should be slammed against the wall. Communicating every thought, feeling, desire, haircut, break-up, shower, vacation, onamism, whatever, this species of man became informants and their information was siphoned off for monitoring by people who refused friend requests.