Donald Trump had a big weekend. On Saturday, he told a rally of his supporters in Birmingham, Alabama that “we have to surveil the mosques.” After a half-dozen white attendees at that rally knocked a Black Lives Matter protestor to the ground and kicked him for a while, Trump went on This Week and told George Stephanopoulos that “maybe he should have been roughed up.” In the same appearance, he called for the return of waterboarding and said he would “not at all” rule out a database of Muslims living in the United States. Sunday afternoon, he tweeted “statistics” claiming that 81% of white murder victims are killed by blacks. According to the FBI as reported by the Daily News, it’s actually about 15%.
Andrew Sullivan begins his screed against Jose Rodriguez and the 60 Minutes producer who blew his chance to ask him if he was maybe a war criminal with some bold assumptions. “There are a couple of things worth knowing about Jose Rodriguez,” Sullivan writes: “that he is a war criminal and that he destroyed the evidence that would prove it without a doubt. The third thing you need to know is that he has no shame about any of this and intends to make money off it.” That’s a good list, but it’s incomplete. It is also worth knowing about Jose Rodriguez that he was Director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA in 2005, when it destroyed video evidence of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” conducted at a CIA prison in Thailand in 2002. Yes, the CIA has a prison in Thailand, and yes, they waste videotapes there. Rodriguez was also D/NCS in 2007, when people found out about that. Now he is on a book tour, and he has “no regrets.” For example, he does not regret destroying the evidence of what he did.
I just found out this morning, but tomorrow is apparently the Rapture. So sayeth Harold Camping, a former engineer who has painstakingly calculated the exact date of the faithful’s ascension to heaven and the subsequent period of natural disasters, war and plague that will precede God’s reign on Earth. Or maybe it’s his reign in heaven—it’s kind of unclear, but the point is that the world will end on May 21, 2011. That’s tomorrow. Presumably the internet will survive at least a few weeks into the horsemen’s pounding, throbbing ride across the virginal face of this land, so if you are reading this on Sunday, let me be the first to welcome you to an America with better science curricula and shorter lines to see that Atlas Shrugged movie. To paraphrase Robert Johnson, I’m not crazy about hell, but all my friends are going there. While we wait for the after-party, why not take a look at the last hours of the reception?
In all the rush of moving, celebrating our nation’s independence from Britain, and getting on a plane at six in the morning to go to Iowa—plus keeping up with our drinking—Combat! blog missed this gem about the New York Times and the word “torture” in Salon. Overdue props to Pete Jones for the link. The Times, like most newspapers, had used “torture” to refer to waterboarding until shortly after the September 11th attacks, when the Bush administration quietly explained to editors that A) it was waterboarding the shit out of everybody and therefore B) waterboarding was obviously not torture. After that, the Times started referring to waterboarding as “intense interrogation techniques” or “the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks.”
It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to look back on that which is about to become the week that was. Peculiarly, it’s been a week of nostalgia for the man pictured above. You might remember him from such bold leadership initiatives as turning a budget surplus into a multitrillion-dollar debt, deregulating the financial industry, awarding no-bid contracts to corporate cronies in two wars whose duration currently exceeds that of World War II, and arguing passionately in favor of torture. Or you might just remember that he talked like you and wasn’t black. It all depends on your perspective, and for a president who left office with a 38% approval rating, George W. Bush has enjoyed a surprising resurgence lately. It’s almost as if the good people of America articulated their political thoughts entirely in terms of being against things, and/or had no recollection of events beyond the past year. Of course, it’s also possible that the whole thing is made up; you probably also remember the national media that told us the war in Iraq was going to be quick and easy, then told us that no one could have predicted the problems in Iraq, then pilloried the Bush administration for messing up Iraq before alleging that Obama’s presidency is foundering on his inadequate commitment to same. It’s all a rich tapestry, which has fallen from the wall into a pile of rat feces, and we serfs can only peer upward and try to deduce the movements of the heavens using our astrolabes or whatever. It’s throwback time. Won’t you shudder in ignorant terror with me?