Last night the state of Georgia tortured and murdered Troy Davis.
It reminded me a bit of the night we killed bin Laden, in the snse that it was very much watching something important happen with many, many other people, through Twitter.
It was heartbreaking. I do not actually have a lot of words for it. It was just horrifying. Leaving a man strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm for hours, waiting to hear whether he lives or dies, is torture just as surely as waterboarding is. I don’t care what Dick Cheney has to say about it. (To be fair, I do not care what Dick Cheney has to say about anything).
I am always opposed to the death penalty. I’m sure there were some Troy Davis protesters who do not usually oppose the death penalty, but I suspect most death penalty protestors are–as the title would indicate–opposed to the death penalty always. So why, as some asked on Twitter, didn’t we make as big a deal about the other man executed last night? Well, because he was definitely guilty, and because no one is losing sleep over his death. There’s a big difference between these two cases.
But mostly? Mostly, it was just heartbreaking. I swear, sometimes I just tired of the universe.
Coming tomorrow : aV.S.V.Steck exclusive photo gallery of images that remind her of OBL. No, he will not have his face cut off. TELL ARE YOUR INTERNET FRIENDS OR JESUS WILL CRY
there may also be thoughts from people who are not me,
ETA with a fewwwwww more links:
Disturbing Details (note: I am bothered by the fact that she may not have been his wife and we were told otherwise and I don’t want to make light of this, although I can see how the narrative could be confused without any nefarious reasons. That does not mean that weren’t any, and we should watch.
I am far less bothered than I probably should be about bin Laden possibly not being armed. Among many other things I cannot believe he’d allow himself to be taken alive.)
The Evolution of Al-Qaeda (I’m spelling it differently every time).
the compound is handed over to civilian authorities. (VIDEO and that compound is NUTS)
I would like to read Stratfor but they require payment. You can read ONE article for free, though, if you mosey on over there. I suggest the one about what Palestine thinks.
Much watch TV: Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart. Must read: NYT coverage, Talking Points Memo, Atlantic, New Yorker.
If any of you all ever read this blog, please let me know what you’ve found the least nonsensical way making it understood.
My god. What a time.
I was trying to find a picture for you and all I got was gymnastics–I did, actually, have several that would be PERFECT but I cannot locate them on my harddrive. So instead, tomorrow we will do a Vanessa Steck does a Gallery Showing of Photography That Has Sort of Reminded Her of Osama bin Laden. TELLALL YOUR FRIENDS I NEEDZ READERZ
ETA Ethics Edition: What are the ethics of government sanctioned assassination? Well, hell if I know.
Is it a slippery slope? Of course it’s a slippery slope. Although ‘ve always that the slippery slope argument is a fallacy.
And yet…I confess. I did not expect to feel this way. I really didn’t. I’m usually pretty far to the left of the Dems. But…I’m not dancing in the streets or anything, and it DOES feel weird to celebrate death, any death. And I’m not pleased that a woman who was being used a shield died.
That said, I feel like this is, overall, A Good Thing. It is going to stop Al Qaida? (and what the hell is the correct way to spell that, anyway?) Of course not. Will there be more terrorist attacks? Yes. But that was going to happen anyway: whether or not we caught Bin Laden, there were always going to be more attacks. It would be naive to think otherwise.
Jeffrey Toobin, writing today at the New Yorker, says this:
“No one today is shedding any tears about bin Laden’s death. (He apparently resisted capture, which offered an additional justification for killing him.) But it’s worth remembering what gave rise to the ban on assassinations. It is, to put it mildly, an easy power to abuse. Bin Laden didn’t get a trial and didn’t deserve one. But the number of people for whom that is true is small. At least it should be.”
And I think that’s a good way to do things. I know, I know. Slippery slope. But…do I think Bin Laden deserved a trial? I actually kind of don’t, and if that makes me a Bad Liberal, well, so be it. I looked at the royal wedding dresses and that apparently makes me a Bad Feminist, so you know. You can’t do everything right.
At any rate. Yes, it feels weird to celebrate death. And I’m not *celebrating* but I am relieved. And I do have a lot of respect and admiration for the people who went into the compound. And yes, for Obama, who made the call that said the soldiers could go in. That really is a gutsy call.
Other things to rad:
What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden (the answer seems to be: um, YES, they must have known something was up!)
I also recommend Morning Edition and the Diane Rehm show, as well as Kojo, from NPR today, and especially their special.
Also, the WH Briefing.(This is REALLY interesting, and surprisingly forthcoming).
Oh, and this guy is a now a twitter superstar.
Look at other ETAs for links–NYT obit is great. DNA has been confirmed.
ETA whateverthefuck: great animation, awesome photo of everyone monitoring the situation in The Situation Room. Is there a better name for a room? I cannot stop looking at their faces. Obama and Clinton look…a bit tense. And Rachel Maddow.
ETA to say THIS is why social media is awesome. ACTUAL BREAKING NEWS–how often does that *really* happen?
ETA 2: This is a great article about how it leaked. My favorite quote: “Mr. [Brian] Williams said some journalists received a three-word e-mail that read, “Get to work.'”
ETA3 to live blog announcement–below.
ETA 4 to this great pic of Obama when nerd prom host Seth Meyers made an OBL joke: http://twitpic.com/4s777w
ETA whatever to this fantastic pic.
ETA this is the last time I swear: today’s front pages.
ETA OK THIS is the last time: NYT obit. Lots of background. They’ve had this one on file for awhile now.
So there are advantages to bumming around on the computer at night watching Castle. I clicked over the Washington Post awhile ago to check something–I cannot remember what it was now, although it’s not out of the question that it was more royal wedding pics–and saw something about Obama making an announcement soon. Apparently no one knew what this announcement would contain.
I clicked around a bit, CNN, the AP, etc, and came across a brief statement on top of the New York Times homepage: U.S. official says Bin Laden has been killed.
Whoa, I said.
A few minutes later, the NYT had this story up. That’s some fast work there, good for them–it was up even before the Associated Press had a story on their homepage. Which is impressive. (my hometown paper, the good ol’ WaPo, was very slow!)
No official word yet. The White House has a video feed up, but it hasn’t started yet.
It’s kind of nuts though. I mean, I cannot be the only one who thinks this is kind of nuts, right?
I do not, as a rule, believe in the death penalty in any form. Nonetheless, don’t ask me to get worked up about Bin Laden dying. I might just ask you why it took so long. (Oh wait! I remember now! Something about GWB being not the brightest bulb in the chandelier…)
Nice victory for Obama, too. I want to see the debate where some GOP asshole calls him soft on terror and he gets to say, really? What president got Osama, just out of curiosity? CAUSE I THINK THAT WAS ME.
11:35: Love how there is a red carpet. Where are they, some random hallway?
11:36: Love how solemn he is. The report is that he wrote the speech himself around 10-10:30. I can tell, it has the same rhetoric that his book does.
11:37: Empty seat at the dinner table is nice. Blah blah, came together, wore lots of flag lapel pins…
10:38 yay for “no matter what god we prayed for.”
11:38:30 has it really, actually been ten years? good lord. seems like yesterday and forever ago.
11:39 SCORES of terrorists!
11:40 last August, briefed on a lead on Osama. Hiding in compound “deep inside Pakistan.” Last week decided they had enough to go for it. Today at his direction they launched an attack. No Americans were killed. Took care not to harm civilians. Killed him in a firefight and took custody of the body.
11:41: Good. Reminder that this doesn’t end the War on Terror (nothing could). And that we are NOT at war with Islam. Bin Laden “not Muslim leader, he was a mass murderer of Muslims.” Good (that he SAYS this, not that Bin Laden killed people!)
11:42: Cooperation with Pakistan helped us get there. Team has spoken with Pakistanis. Apparently they agree that this is a “good and historical time for both our nations.” Hmm. Well, I agree…
11:42:30: He looks like he means it when he says that these concerns trouble him every day.
11:43: Relentless etc. Rhetoric of war.
11:44: “unparalleled courage.” Indeed. huge props go to the incredibly brave men and women who went directly after Bin Laden.
11:45: I want to know what his immediate reaction was upon hearing that OBL was actually dead. Somebody on twitter reported they did DNA from his sister’s body, from a hospital in Boston.
11:45:30: OK MAYBE I had goose bumps at the end. Also, I’m pretty sure I just heard fireworks.
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The New York Review of Books had a fascinating–and disturbing–piece on prison rape recently. I’m not sure if you can read the whole thing without subscribing, but just in case, it’s here. The authors are really on the ball. They’ve got stats, they’ve got stories, and most importantly they’ve got solutions. Those solutions are, of course, largely ignored. Nonetheless, the piece is absoloutly worth a read. Prison rape remains a huge component of rape culture, and prison rape jokes often ruin a perfect good cop show (note: of these things is more important than the other).
Speaking of prison, one man on death rows wants to be able to donate his organs. Here is is op-ed at the Gray Lady: I found myself nodding along. Then I went over to Feministe and read comments there, and now I find myself completely unsure. Yes, the death penalty is an absurd law and so yes, theoretically, I totally support the idea of death row inmates getting to donate their organs. However, it turns out to be so simple. Aside from a couple really awful trolls, the comments over there are thoughtful and make a remarkable number of well informed points.
The man who wrote the NYT op ed was the subject of a fascinating, and very very disturbing, Esquire portrait. It’s great reading, just not very comfortable reading.
Surely there’s a way to tie all of this together, but I’m too tired right now. Well, rape culture made all of this possible, so there you go.
I don’t think rogue is the right word for this.
Committing war crimes is not a rogue action. It is illegal, immoral and disgusting, no matter what kind of war it is, no matter how screwed up it’s made one.
When I went to Maine, to a small town on the coast, every summer.
I havent been there in years. My grandmother died there in 2007, and the following summer I was there for a day or two, to scatter her ashes with everyone else.
When I was a child, though, I loved it there. It’s true, they are not entirely my people–lots of money, lots of Republicans, lots of pink and lime at the same time. Lots of golf and tennis. Cocktail parties. McMansions. The tennis court featured–I swear–a sign that sad “Whites Only.” Later it was changed to “Whites Preferred.”
They were mostly referring to tennis clothes.
What I did love, what I still would love, probably, is the beach. Beautiful. Miles long, incredible sand, water crisp and cold and lovely, waves high and tumbling. I would spend hours at the beach, swimming and reading. Once I was so still, reading for so long, that a neighbor called my grandmother to ask if I was okay. I read and read and swam and swam. Sometimes I walked on the cliff walk, where Winslow Homer used to stroll, and look at the same seascapes that he saw.
Since my grandmother died it’s been different. The house looks utterly changed, at least it did when I was there in 08. Gone were most of the pictures of the extended family, the casual parts of the house, the random beach stones, the old romance novels of my grandmothers. It has turned into a more “traditional” beach house, for that part of the world, and I can no longer see my grandmother every time I turn a corner. Can no longer see her sitting at the kitchen table, reading a book, eating coleslaw. She ate so much coleslaw, my grandmother, and not much else.
We had some great times. The two summers before she died I came up, took the train to stay with her for a week or ten days. We walked on the beach. She said “oops!” every time she had t0 navigate past a tidepool stretched across the beach. We rode bikes to a beach that had a boardwalk she could walk out on, waving her cane to indicate to the children they should get out of the way, so she could swim. She’d pile on her bathing caps, three or four or five, and she swam. We swam. Out to the boats, the buoys. It was cold and one summer I went with her to a surf shop to get her a wetsuit. She looked like a chicken. I had to ride an old bike, with no brakes, and one memorable day I failed to stop in the sand and instead kept going straight into the water, going in two or three feet before the bike finally stopped. My grandmother laughed and laughed.
I think of this now because I have recently become facebook friends with a number of people, a few mothers but mostly kids that I used to babysit for. One of the girls, who is now–what? A freshman in high school, I think, looking like all the other girls from that area, leggy and lovely, lying on the beach and having fun. When I was 13 I was her nanny. She was perhaps 3.5 and her brother about 15 months. Every morning I woke up, had breakfast with the family, took the girl to camp down the beach (we walked down the beach, to the beach club–there is, of course, a beach club, a yacht club, a country club….)and broke the boy back, put him down for a nap. In the afternoon I picked her up, fed them both lunch, took them to the beach. I was there for a week. My mom was down the street, and I went home to nap sometimes. I babysat for other kids on the lane, too, kids I’ve just friended on facebook. Once who had a major poop explosion. Another whose mother threatened to spank her and it scared me. Another who I took the library, the youngest of four, funny and tough. It’s so odd, to not have seen them for so many years and then to suddenly see pictures of them, looking so grown up. I’m surprised at how well I remember them. I can see them on fb, can see how they are following the paths that my cousins did, that much of my mothers side did: exclusive schools, boarding schools, sometimes with uniforms, special trips, time abroad. Lives that look absolutely perfect on the surface.
And the dogs. The dogs on the beach, only of course at certain times, but the dogs, beautiful dogs, mostly Labs, in and out of the surf.
A place is a strange thing to lose. I was in love with this town. I cried leaving, some years, tears streaming down my face. I wanted to stay there. I didn’t see beneath the veneer, and when I started to I was very bitter. They are still not my people, exactly, but I remember now how kind some of them were. Still are, probably.
Anyway. I miss it. I wish that part of growing up had not been losing it.
I watched my grandmother die. It’s hard to believe. I still count that among the most incredible experiences of my life, watching her die.