Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Triggered Leftists Shout 'Separation of Church and State!' as Trump Calls for Prayer

The only thing worse than the WuFlu to people suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome is Trump himself and literally anything he does. On Friday, Trump announced that Sunday would be a National Day of Prayer

"It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these."

It did not take long for the unhinged responses to come flowing in, mocking him for asking Americans to pray even though a majority of Americans say they do pray and that they believe it helps them feel more peaceful. I don't know about you but I think the army of Karens buying all the toilet paper could really use some peace right about now. Encouraging people to be peaceful and introspective and grateful is something that really pisses off the internet for some reason.

This one is my favorite. "This goes against EVERYTHING the founding fathers stood for," exclaimed an angry woman on Twitter.

I wonder if she's ever heard of John Adams who said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Then there was that other founder named George Washington who in his Circular to the States in 1783 boldly prayed a prayer we should repeat this weekend,

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

But knowing our nation was built by deeply religious men would require reading books instead of watching the Kardashians religiously. Let us go forward this weekend with the prayers of George Washington on our lips that we will love one another and rediscover a brotherly affection for these morons we have to live with and that we will suffer them with patience and shower them with kindness even though they've hoarded all the toilet paper.



A twisted view of victimhood

The decision by the International Criminal Court to pursue the US for war crimes has been welcomed by terrorists, lawyers and human rights groups. It is a victory for victims, we are told. And indeed, the Bush-era war on terror had some victims.

During its hunt for the terrorists who killed 2977 women, children and men in the September 11 attacks in 2001, there were some wrongful arrests and cases of cruelty, as well the use of brutal interrogation techniques. The ICC probe seeks justice for those allegedly mistreated by US forces. Its victims include terrorist suspects.

The ICC was created to bring justice to victims of genocide and war crimes by holding perpetrators to account. Its pursuit of the US is not for genocide, ethnic cleansing or a planned program of terrorism. It acknowledges: “With respect to the US armed forces, the alleged crimes appear to have been inflicted on a relatively small percentage of all persons detained [and] during a limited time period.” One might venture to say a very small percentage: 54 of about 10,000 people detained claim mistreatment by US forces and 24 claim mistreatment by the CIA.

Al-Qa’ida accused the US of war crimes long before the ICC toyed with the idea. In a 2002 letter, it wrote: “You (US) are after those who are named as war criminals, but you overlook your friends, the real war criminals. History will never forget the war crimes you committed against the Muslims … your recent crimes in Afghanistan … you killed and tortured through your agents all over the world. Your fighter planes are still flying the Afghani skies … Guantanamo Bay is a ­historical scandal for America.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the investigation mounted by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda as “a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution, masquerading as a legal body”.

In a 2011 interview with Al Arabiya, Bensouda described the US killing of terrorist thugs Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki as “crimes against humanity”. She said the ICC was noble because it brings justice to victims. In response to a question about whether her religion played a role in her job, Bensouda replied: “Absolutely, definitely. Islam … is a ­religion of peace.”

Lawyers representing men held in US detention welcomed news that Bensouda was to proceed with the ICC investigation. A lawyer with the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Kate Gallagher, wrote: “TOTAL WIN!!! The ICC … investigation into war crimes & crimes against humanity in Afghanistan including into CIA/US torture … Bush-era global torture program FINALLY under criminal investigation!”

The ICC is also investigating the Taliban and Afghanistan security forces. The Taliban and affiliates are considered responsible for 17,700 civilian deaths from 2009 to 2016.

The focus of the probe is the early 2000s when the US was engaged in the war on Islamist terror. The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 after the governing Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden or expel al-Qa’ida. It arrested and interrogated suspected militants believed to possess actionable intelligence about terrorist networks and planned attacks. It sought to capture key figures of jihadi networks to prevent future strikes against the US and its allies.

The US military and government investigated some of the worst reported cases of abuse. The images of mistreatment at Abu Ghraib shocked the world. The military took action against offending personnel, but some believe it was not enough.

The subsequent 2014 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study of the CIA detention and interrogation program described the use of extraordinary techniques in some detention facilities. It was chaired by Democrat Dianne Feinstein and depicted the CIA as a law unto itself. The report was cited extensively in the ICC prosecutor’s argument to investigate the US for mistreatment, torture and war crimes.

The Senate committee found a relatively small number of detainees was subjected to extreme interrogation techniques. For example, al-Qa’ida suspect Abu Zabaydah was subjected to sensory deprivation after the CIA failed to extract actionable intelligence about future planned attacks on the US through the use of conventional methods. It was later concluded that the prisoner did not possess such information.

The Senate committee also found that among thousands of detainees, there were about 26 wrongfully detained. In some cases, mistaken identity was the problem. While the CIA has been portrayed as reckless for such cases, it should be noted that terrorists use multiple aliases to evade detection and capture. It conceded that in a small number of cases the agency moved too slowly to release the wrongfully detained. It also conceded its error in the wrongful detention of Khalid al-Masri in 2003. In more recent years, al-Masri has served time for violent offences.

The CIA said half of its intelligence reports on al-Qa’ida came from detainee reports. Interrogation prevented major loss of life by providing intelligence that enabled the US to thwart planned attacks in a number of countries.

The use of waterboarding has been especially controversial. The technique is euphemistically described as enhanced interrogation, but is simulated drowning. The late Christopher Hitchens — no friend of jihad — decided to explore the question of whether waterboarding was torture. He had heard that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the reputed mastermind of the World Trade Centre horror, lasted a full two minutes before waterboarding broke him. Hitchens lasted the time between exhaling and inhaling once.

Waterboarding is torture as sure as terrorists are liars. Why we are expected to believe terrorists who plotted to bomb the US out of existence and drive Jews into the sea are victims is something of a mystery. The men who masterminded the slaughter of 2977 innocent people are not victims. Their victims are the victims.



What We Lose by the Closing of Community Department Stores

Five years ago, the sad goodbye to an icon began when Macy’s decided to close its flagship location in downtown Pittsburgh. The void, alas, still remains.

For most of that building’s storied 110-plus-year-old life, until Macy’s took it 15 years ago, it was Kaufmann’s department store: a place where parents, whether they were working-class or well-to-do, took their babies to get fitted for their first pair of shoes; or purchased their communion dress, prom dress, wedding gown, back-to-school clothes; or bought them the sheets, furniture, toasters, pots, and pans they needed to start their adult lives.

It was also where young and old, rich or poor, went to the Adoria Beauty Salon to have their hair styled for the very first time. Or where they went to have their first special lunch with their parents or grandparents at Tic Toc restaurant. And maybe even where they have their first job.

It was 1.2 million square feet of community, where people came together no matter their age or where they were from to experience dozens of rites of passage.

Pittsburgh wasn’t the only place to have this experience; there was Higbee’s in Cleveland and Hudson’s on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, the latter of which was very similar to Kaufmann’s, where any working-class child could walk along its marble floors; gaze up at the sparkling chandeliers; absorb the smells and sounds of the flower shops or candy shops; and drink from the ornate water fountains.

Despite the affluent adornments, Kaufmann’s was everyone’s department store, a place to inspire and aspire.

Your mother may have bought your clothes in the bargain basement, but as your family browsed the multiple floors and ascended on the escalators, you could imagine shopping one day for one of those sharply tailored suits to wear to work in one of the surrounding downtown office towers.

The absence of these stores from the core of our cities isn’t just about the loss of retail square footage. That is what mayors and politicians always get wrong when people bristle at the loss.

What hurts most is the loss of community and touchstones that brought people from a variety of backgrounds, races, religions, education levels, and income levels. We mourn the fact that we have not replaced them with a new attachment to community.

A 2018 Pew survey showed that roughly 4 in 10 adults “say they are not too or not at all attached to their local community.”

This is a sharp veer away from that thing about us that awed French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1800s, who observed with respect our robust habit of forever joining and forming communities, and how we have benefited from them.

As social media becomes a replacement for connection, online communities have proved to be a very weak link to the physical communities that made America stand out for its willingness to shed social barriers and congregate.

That is what places such as Kaufmann’s and Higbee’s and Hudson’s did, explained Ron Fournier, a native Detroiter, former newsman, and current communications expert who returned to help bring his community back together several years ago.

“When Detroit was a lively, thriving brewing city 50 years ago, Hudson’s was the very center of that excitement,” he said.

For my mother’s generation as well as myself, you could go downtown and do your shopping, usually on a bus, and you would walk into this gorgeous ornate building, unlike anything you would see in your neighborhood, and you would be surrounded by luxury and nice things you couldn’t afford, but you could aspire to.

It is in our very core to want to be around other human beings, said Fournier: “Technology is pushing us apart, it is allowing us to be disconnected from one another. But there is a pull in our DNA to gather and be around each other.”

We Americans have always balanced this equilibrium of where we work, where we live, and where we congregate. Community centers, churches, and fraternal organizations have always filled that last pillar, yet that last pillar has weakened substantially as we have changed how we shop (our phones) and socialize (our phones) and pray (we don’t, at least not as much as we used to).

The need for affiliation cannot be fully satisfied by work; human contrast and contact are needed to bring us together.

When Kaufmann’s/Macy’s closed in 2015, it allowed people to come into its once-glamorous 13 floors and purchase the sewing machines the seamstresses used to tailor the clothes, the mannequins that boasted the newest fashions, the paintings that hung on the walls, and the fixtures in the restaurant.

People came from all around to buy a part of their life they could never get back, and the outpouring of grief and loss was everywhere as people tried to buy a piece of something they lost.

They knew more than any politician or developer that whatever came next would never fill the void of community.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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