Sixteen protesters and 25 cops showed up at the John Yoo Torture Memos protest on Feb 11th. There were only sixteen protesters. It took 25 cops to protect Yoo from us. One of us was using a wheel chair. Another of us was 76 years old. I have a bad back and my wife and I both have arthritis. That effectively left 12 potential rioters against 25 armed peace officers. I suppose it was worth the taxpayer’s money so John Yoo would feel safe from us. Wait, I’m wrong. One of my wife’s friends from her Code Pink group is also disabled and sat in a camp chair. Another was wearing a fifty pound John Yoo bobble head. So there were effectively 10 potential rioters against 25 armed cops. It’s a good thing that some of them were from the SWAT team.
To the officers’ credit, they were the most professional police force on earth. They took their job damned seriously. If there was going to be an actual attempt to harm Yoo, they were ready. They were also smart enough to know that we constituted no danger. Also to their credit, they stood up for our First Amendment rights. They did not force us to disperse. They did not force us into a “Free Speech Zone” two miles away. Traffic flow and liability were their main concerns. They saw to it that traffic flowed smoothly and that John Yoo would have to go past us in order to leave.
It doesn’t look good for Dr. Yoo. Britain is giving its infamous MI5 security agency a public reaming for the torture of British citizens in Guantanamo. Yes, Virginia, there are people named Mohamad who are British Citizens, and England is pissed. It looks as if secret documents are going to be made public as MI5 agents are tried for not informing their government.
Meanwhile Dick Cheney is working his motormouth on television. Cheney confirmed that Yoo co-wrote the Torture Memos to rationalize the use of torture. Cheney wanted torture so Yoo told him what he wanted to hear. What’s worse, what is the absolute bitter end, is that Cheney also admitted to ordering three people tortured.
He ordered three people tortured? Who was he to order three people tortured? Hell, since when can the vice president order anything except a pizza? What happened to the days when one brother goes to sea while his other brother becomes vice-president, and nobody ever hears from either of them again? Since when does the vice president order anybody tortured? Not only is Big Mouth Cheney admitting to torturing people, but he’s admitting that the executive office ignores the constitution. The vice presidency is traditionally the golden road to political obscurity. I wonder if it was John Yoo who told Cheney he had the right to order people tortured?
So Yoo must know that the jig is up. He knows that he can run and cannot hide. If he had a brain in his head he would be fleeing to Argentina about now. He is being sued by somebody who was wrongfully tortured in Guantanamo. MI5 is being placed on public trial for allowing British Citizens to be tortured. Now his former boss is spilling the beans to the press. Even Holder’s gutless Justice Department is saying he showed “poor judgment.” The weasel is completely and totally screwed, and now he is just wiggling around trying to justify his actions.
I hoped to post a link to his book tour, so people could find out where he is going to be speaking, and stage their own protests. Guess what? He didn’t publish his itinerary. John Yoo is conducting the country’s first clandestine book signing tour. He has become a man of mystery. Nobody knows where he will show up next. Today a country club in Taos New Mexico. Tomorrow a luncheon with the Young Republicans in Chicago. Each time he strikes, he leaves his autograph in a few of his books, which justifies torture by rationalizing the high handed presidents of the past. Like Waldo, it takes highly developed powers of observation to find him. If you do find him and are going to hold a protest, I will be glad to send you the songs and chants Code Pink has been using. It’ll make him feel at home.
Yoo complains that all this protesting is intimidating him. Why? Is he afraid we’re going to waterboard him? Is he afraid that we are going to pull him off the street and hide him in an undisclosed location? Of course not. Unlike Yoo, we believe in rule by law. We are demanding due process for Yoo, which is more than the people he is responsible for torturing get. This is why UC Berkeley will not disclose where he is lecturing. This is why his book tour is being treated like a ninja assault. This is why he hid on his way out of the Poplar Creek Golf Club.
I was standing at a funny angle so I saw him when he left the golf club. He got into a green SUV with tinted windows. A blond woman was at the wheel. Before they reached the exit, he hunkered down in the front seat so we could not see him. I knew he was in that vehicle, so I shouted “John Yoo is a wuss!”
Thank you, everybody who has worked to bring John Yoo to justice. For those of you who are unaware of what has been going on, John Yoo is the author of the so-called “Torture Memos”. Yoo was a special council to the White House, and his torture memos were the excuse that the Bush Misadministration used to justify torturing prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo. In other words, according to John Yoo, sexual humiliation, beatings, water boarding, starvation, and sleep deprivation are neither cruel nor unusual.
What’s that you say? The Constitution protects us from cruel and unusual punishment? To this I ask you, what the hell constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? What is the definition of the word cruel as used in the Constitution? What is the constitutional definition of the word unusual? How are those words to be defined in court? According to John Yoo, water boarding is neither cruel nor is it unusual. So what is to keep the county jail from water boarding a suspect into admitting he sold a quarter ounce of pot?
The Constitution was never a planned document. The Founders of this nation envisioned a confederacy. When the confederacy broke down in under ten years, the delegates to the Constitutional convention had little time to create a central government with the powers to enact and enforce treaties as well as the power to levy taxes. This is why there are so many loopholes in the document. This is why cruel and unusual or reasonable were never defined. One delegate would say something, we need protections from unreasonable search and seizure. Another delegate would ask what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Then a third delegate would say, let the courts worry about it later. We need to start raising taxes so we can pay off France.
Thus was born the most confusing and expensive legal system that was ever invented. The Constitution contains language as vague as the I-Ching, and holds as many contradictions as the New Testament. John Yoo presented an opinion that specific acts of torture were not cruel and unusual. This opinion is not unconstitutional because the terms cruel and unusual are not defined. Yoo’s opinion has the force of law until such time as it is challenged by the courts. Lynndie England’s court martial adds sexual humiliation to the definition of cruel and unusual, but water boarding is still perfectly legal.
That’s right, torture is legal and will remain legal until the Supreme Court says otherwise. Torture can remain legal as long as the Supreme Court ignores the situation. After all, the Supreme Court can pick and choose which cases it wants to hear. The Court ignored Jim Crow laws until public opinion became so outraged that the court had no choice but to overrule them.
Public outrage is the only way we are going to stop the United States from committing torture. Protests at UC Berkeley and in front of Yoo’s home forced the attorney general to order an investigation of Yoo and the Torture Memos. Holder has proven himself as loyal a neocon as Alberto Gonzales. The results of this investigation were recently leaked to Newsweek Magazine, and the results were that John Yoo exercised poor judgment but did not commit any wrong doing.
Yoo’s “bad judgment” resulted in the torture of hundreds, if not thousands, of human beings. John Yoo opened the door to the worst barbarisms of the Bush Misadministration. For those of you who value money over human rights, torture has produced no usable information. The question we should be asking the government is, why are we still torturing people? If John Yoo exercised poor judgment, why is Obama still following his advice?
If John Yoo exercised “poor judgment,” then why is he still teaching at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall, the most prestigious law school in California? How competent a teacher can he be if his opinions sparked an investigation that accused him of “poor judgment”? For that matter, why are the regents treating this semi-competent shyster like a rock star? They protect him by keeping his lecture locations a secret. His students find out where he is teaching by secure email. Yoo didn’t even lecture this semester. While protesters and students alike were waiting for his first lecture, Yoo was out promoting that sack of neocon bullshit he calls a book. At the same time, he is still drawing a salary from the California tax payer.
John Yoo is certainly not behaving like somebody accused of poor judgment. He’s out promoting the imperial presidency like it was a fact. As far as I’m concerned he’s the biggest nut since Torquemada. Just as the head inquisitor believed in the ultimate authority of the Pope, Yoo believes in the ultimate authority of the president. That ass-kisser needs to be stopped.
Public outrage forced an investigation and conclusion of “Poor Judgment”. This is not a defeat. We forced the Attorney General’s office to admit that torture was a bad idea. This can be built on, but we have to crank up the volume. We need more and louder protests. We need to send petitions to the UC regents telling them to fire the bastard. We need to get so outrageous that the Supreme Court will have no choice but to ban torture just as they banned Jim Crow. Poor judgment is just the beginning. We won that much, we can win more.
Torquemada Yoo will be doing a book signing in San Mateo, California tomorrow, Thursday, Feb, 12 at Poplar Creek Golf Course from noon to one thirty PM. Code Pink is sponsoring a protest. Be there, be loud, and be angry. Let the Department of Justice know that we don’t want Yoo’s poor judgment to be government policy, and let the UC regents know that anyone who’s judgment is so poor has no place in our university system.
Writing these blog posts has been difficult. It has forced me to look at 25 years in sales and ask myself If I have been doing the right thing. Working for Aames was not the right thing to do, and I wonder why I never realized that before. The biggest wrong I committed, while working for Aames, was convincing myself that I was helping people. Any help I may have given my customers was purely short term assistance. Many of my customers who were granted lower interest rates were given three years fixed mortgages. After three years, their interest rates went variable. Very few of those loans had ceilings. The logic behind this was it gave them a chance to fix their credit so they could refinance again before their mortgage rates went through the roof. In actual fact we were being too optimistic. Between outsourcing and salary stagnation, chances were that in three years those people’s credit were in worse shape than ever. Then after three years their mortgages went through the roof.
Belief is a very strong factor in any sale. If the salesperson does not believe in the product, neither will the customer. There were just too many reps who did not believe in what they were selling. That should have warned me that something was wrong. I knew one salesperson who sold through intimidation. He specialized in single female home owners, and subtly threatened them into signing. Then he grabbed the commission check and ran to another company before the hammer came down. I knew another salesperson who specialized in single male homeowners. Her usual working clothes was a leather mini split up to the waist at the side, and a very low cut top.
Despite these signs that things were totally wrong, I continued to believe in what I was doing. Conviction is more than half of sales. An effective salesman believes in what he is selling or is a good enough actor to truly make the customer believe in what he is doing. It occurs to me that there are many more actors in sales than I originally thought.
Conviction was the difference between getting the application and credit report or not getting the application and earning the wrath of Aames. Aames had a lot of really idiotic rules, but one of the worst was their insistence on running credit reports for all customers. I had more than one customer offer to fax or email me their most recent credit report. Later, I would work for companies that were fine with customers faxing their credit reports. However to complete an application for Aames you had to run the credit report, and in order to do that you had to get the customer’s social security number.
To this day I am amazed at the amount of people who gave me their social security numbers over the phone. I always left the social security number for last. I would get the customer on the phone and we would talk a little bit and I would talk him into giving a phone application. I specialized in calling people with high interest variable loans, and they were desperate to get out from under. It was easy for me to get them to apply. The biggest objection I had to overcome were the people who had tried over and over again and kept getting turned down. I usually gave them a pep-talk. I encouraged them to take one more chance while mentioning all the people with shaky credit that Aames managed to help.
I always started with the basics. I would ask their names and addresses and get them talking about their homes and their mortgage woes. I would make appropriately sympathetic sounds as they volunteered the information I needed to put on the form. Once in a while I had to give them a little help. Older people had no idea of the market value of their homes. Generally they made me put a too low value on it. By the time I reached the end of the application, I was an old friend. That’s when I asked for the social security number.
About one in three just gave it to me. Not only did they give it to me, but called their spouses at work to get his or her social security number since I needed to pull a joint credit report About two out of three customers gave me a hard time. This is where belief comes in. I promised them that they were in no danger, their credit scores would not go down and their identities were safe. When I realized that too many credit hits would bring down a customer’s credit scores, I stopped promising that. I would estimate a safe time to pull their credit scores and schedule them for a call back at that time. You would not believe the amount of crap I had to live through when I was caught doing it. The Regional or district manager who caught me backing out on an application would lecture me mercilessly. My job was to get the application and not to worry about the state of the customer’s credit. So when I got the occasional person who was just not going to give me his social security number, I made it a point to argue with them when the brass was listening. It made me look good.
I was very careful with personal information. I would shred my notes and make sure that my copies of the applications were put safely away where nobody could get them. I was the only one. Everybody else just put their notes in the trash and old applications and notes were available for anybody to rifle through and pull out and use. These notes not only included the social security number but birthdays and addresses. Everything you needed for full scale identity theft was in that office. It only recently occurred to me that there was an entire room full of filing cabinets which was never locked and anybody could go through and pull out whatever information they wanted.
That was what I did for Aames Home Loan for a forty hour six day week. Most of my applications were rejected for various reasons. The most common was bad credit. Unlike other companies, Aames was very careful of the credit scores of the loans they accepted. That meant that most of Aames’s customers could have gotten a better deal elsewhere So the beginning of my month would see about two dozen loans in my pipeline but on a really good month, only two or three would fund. Somehow that was my fault for finding the wrong customers. In Aames Home Loan, failure was always an underling’s fault.
It’s called the bait and switch. It’s the most effective con game ever created. The conman offers to sell something bright and shiny to the mark. When the mark looks at what he bought, he sees that it’s not a bright and shiny as he thinks. The conman made it look better than it was. The old bait and switch works best with intangibles. If a mark buys a watch and it turns out to be a piece of crap, the mark can go to the police. He can identify the conman in a line-up, or get his friends together to beat the hell out of the conman. You can’t do that with ideas. Ideas are intangible. That’s why the bait and switch works so well in politics. The mark put all his money and his energy into a dream, and the mark isn’t willing to let his dream go. The mark will even make excuses for the con. Bill Clinton campaigned by promising the public a national health plan. To this day there are people who will not admit that Clinton conned them. The idea is so bright and shiny that they cannot even admit to themselves that the guy who promised it to them was lying.
Barack Obama has promised America something even brighter and shinier than a national health plan. Obama has promised us hope, and hope is the most intangible idea of all. Like the song asks, did you ever have a hope sandwich? That’s when you have two slices of bread and you hope that you get some meat. We have our two pieces of bread, where’s the meat? When are the troops coming home? When are we going to get our national health plan? When is Wall St. going to be held accountable for its crimes? So far, Mr. Obama has not given us any definite answers to those questions. He has been elected because we hope he will give us acceptable answers to those questions. I voted for Nader because Obama did not answer those questions.
Obama has not given any satisfactory answers to those questions, but the American voters continue to hope. They assume that Obama will improve health care even though Obama has put his health care plan on the table, and it sucks. Obama has made quite a lot of talk about the economy, but he has not mentioned the fact that the SEC and the FTC as well as the Treasury service have been underfunded to the point where they cannot do their jobs. Wall St. commits major crimes on a daily basis. Will Obama put a stop to it?
What we can expect is more hope. Barack Obama is a fantastic orator. Were he a life insurance agent, he would have a place at the million dollar round table. The man is that convincing. I can just see Obama telling us that we have to keep the troops in the Middle East to protect the victims of our own invasion. We will all still hope that the troops will come home soon. While Obama plans to throw billions of dollars to his supporters in the health care industries, we will continue to hope that the HMOs choose to treat our illnesses. By the same token we can continue to hope that we can keep a house over our heads and hope that our jobs are not shipped to the mysterious East.
Then there are the issues that both Obama and McCain have just mentioned in passing. Obama’s energy plan is utter and complete insanity. Wake up and smell the coffee, folks, the planet is out of cheap crude oil. Gas prices are going to jump higher than a kangaroo with a kink in his tail. Obama wants to build more nuke plants. I was an eye witness to the Three Mile Island disaster. Nuclear reactors are not the answer. Obama is promising us another meltdown. The next one may very well bring us into a “China Syndrome”. The nuclear fuel could melt through the container and make thousands of miles of the United States hostile to all forms of life. Obama does not seem to care about that. Unlike the new solar technologies, nukes will bring tremendous profits to his backers. We already know that profits come before human life. We are just supposed to hope that Obama’s energy policy doesn’t kill us all.
Then there is global warming. We are watching new and stronger hurricanes hitting our eastern coasts. Polar bears are losing their habitats. Entire forests are being decimated by insects because the natural cycles are broken. We continue to hope that Obama will support the ecological regulations needed to keep global warming from getting any worse. At the same time the homeless can keep hoping that somebody will realize that it is not their fault that the jobs have been shipped overseas or that it was not their fault that their mortgages melted down. We do have a lot to hope for. Will Mr. Obama deliver on any of it?
If Bill Clinton is any indication, I doubt it. Clinton joined with Gingrich’s so called second revolution and decimated the social safety net to make sure that displaced workers had nowhere to fall but the streets. If Nancy Pelosi is any indication, I also doubt it. Nancy was George Bush’s number one girl. She voted for everything he asked for. She took impeachment off the table and made sure that Georgie could rape and ruin to his heart’s content without any sort of consequences. I fully expect Obama to act the same way. Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi taught me the futility of hope.
Obama does not deserve a honeymoon period. Yes, it will be a rare pleasure to have a President who can pronounce nuclear, but let us not forget everything that we are hoping for. Let’s not let Obama forget it either. I hope his inauguration is interrupted by major protests. I hope he is flooded by emails and by petitions to end the war. Remember, change is not created by protests alone. We also need boycotts, works outages, strikes, and sit-ins. Johnson did not sign the civil rights bill because it was the right thing to do. That old Texas redneck signed it because there would have been civil war had he not. Don’t let a Black President fool you. Don’t be content to hope. Obama is not going to do anything for any of us unless we make him, just as Dr. King made Johnson sign the Civil Rights Act.
I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that everybody I know is getting on my case about my candidate or that nobody has been leaving any comments on my blog. If I didn’t know better, I would start thinking that everybody thinks I’m just a doddering old crank. Well everybody who knows me in real life already knows that I’m just a doddering old crank, but has everyone on the world wide web already figured that out? Come on, This is only my third post on WordPress. Give me a little more time before you come to the same opinion that my real world friends have already come to. Do you have to be so quick to realize the obvious?
But really, what does me being a doddering old crank have to do with Paris’s candidacy? Paris Hilton would make a great president. I mean really, she may not be the brightest light in the disco, but we survived eight years of Reagan and he was senile. We survived having James Watts as Secretary of the Interior, could Paris do any worse by giving that Job to Snoop Dog? George W. Bush may also not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but we already learned from Reagan that intelligence is not a prerequisite for being president. I mean, you don’t see Noam Chomsky running for president. So what if Paris wants Fabio to be the Secretary of State? He couldn’t possibly do a worse job than Rice and besides, he has a hot accent just like Kissinger.
So Paris drinks a bit. What the hell, so did Nixon. Nixon bugged the oval office and kept illegal records of his conversations. Paris would put a webcam in the presidential bedroom, and the SCOTUS has already declared that to be free and protected speech. So what’s the problem? It would certainly give Fox News something to report, and give Rush Limbaugh lots of important things to rant about. And if you are worried that she will be like Bill Clinton and be indulging in oral sex in the Oval Office, at least she won’t be asking for it in public rest rooms like Larry Craig.
A Paris presidency will be the best thing that ever happened to American politics. It will keep the masses entertained with all the sex and scandal it could want without as much as threatening corporate interests. I mean really, why pay attention to the War in Iraq, Global Warming, The Christianoid take-over of the Justice Dept. and the military, the real estate melt down, rising gas prices, and unemployment when you could be paying attention to Paris? Think of all the tax money that could be saved by Paris creating her own scandals instead of having scandals thought up by public relations agents? The White House could cut its staffing in half just from the P.R. Hacks they could fire.
Now a lot of my friends get really angry at me when I tell them this. They tell me that they are voting for Obama because they want change in government. They want change they can count on. Well, I always say that if you want to see where a candidate really stands, go and see how he votes when the public isn’t looking. So I show them this website.
Type in Barack Obama and you can see how Obama voted on all the major issues. I know how excited you Obama supporters are to be able to see just how your man is going to create change in the government. I don’t really have the heart to tell you that Obama has either abstained or failed to be present at most of the votes that matter the most. He abstained from voting on the Iraq war. He voted in favor of some minor health care reforms, but otherwise, Obama has been utterly neutral in all the major issues that affect this country. So it is a total fantasy to think that Obama represents any sort of change in this country, and if you are going to vote for a fantasy; I say vote for a fantasy you can get off on.
This November, Vote for Paris Hilton, The Only Change That Matters In Washington.
I am officially giving my full and unstinting support for Paris Whitney Hilton’s run for the presidency of the United States of America, and why the hell not? Who’s portrait would you rather see hanging on post office walls, (The walls, not the bulletin boards) Paris’s or John McCain’s. Well for any red blooded dirty old heterosexual man, the answer would be obvious. We want Paris. True, we will have to use a special head shot for Public Schools, but Paris’s picture would certainly inspire a more intense interest in politics for junior high school aged boys than say a picture of Barrack Obama. Place Paris in front of TV camera in a low cut clinging evening gown, revealing that she is not wearing foundation garments, and I’m sure that about 45% of American voters will entirely fail to notice that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is still going strong, that Homeland Security is still monitoring our phone calls, Gitmo is still waterboarding prisoners, and that we still don’t have a national health plan.
That’s all well and good, you say, but where does Paris stand on the issues? Well that’s a really dumb question. Paris will stand wherever the White House photographer tells her to stand. Duh! Well what are her opinions on the issues? Damn! You heterosexual women just have to take all the fun out of everything I guess. Okay, to find the answer to that totally inconsequential question we should hear what Paris has to say herself
See? Paris would be the perfect compromise candidate. I think her energy policy is absolutely hot! Only an heiress like Paris could afford to pay for the Public Relations agency and speech writers to come up with an energy policy like that. Just think what answers she could pay them to come up with for Iraq? Blackwater could murder every infant in Baghdad and Paris could have us yelling for more, and when U.S troops invade Iran; well let’s just say that nukes won’t be the only things that will be exploding.
There is just one thing that concerns me about Paris’s campaign and that is her choice of a running mate. I think Paris should choose Monica Lewinski. Monica has more in the way of political exposure and would attract disaffected Hillary supporters into becoming Paris’s camp followers. They could pass out cigars at campaign rallies without sending a message of support for the tobacco industry. Yes, I can just see the bumper stickers now. Paris and Monica: The Only Change That Matters in Washington.