Archive for the ‘ Political ’ Category

More Encryption Is Not the Solution

I’m always pleased to see the recognition that, ultimately, politics is just people with lots of weapons doing what they want. In this instance, Poul-Henning Kamp, highlights the fact with respect to encryption as a “solution” to revelations about “government” spying.

INCONVENIENT FACT #1 ABOUT PRIVACY:
POLITICS TRUMPS CRYPTOGRAPHY

Nation-states have police forces with guns. Cryptographers and the IETF Internet Engineering Task Force do not.

Several nation-states, most notably the United Kingdom, have enacted laws that allow the police to jail suspects until they reveal the cryptographic keys to unlock their computers. Such laws open a host of due process and civil rights issues that we do not need to dwell on here. For now it is enough to note that such laws can be enacted and enforced.
. . .
Any person can have the right to privacy removed through whatever passes for judicial oversight in their country of residence, so that authorities can confirm or deny a suspicion of illegal activities.
. . .
if a nation-state decides that somebody should not have privacy, then it will use whatever means available to prevent that privacy.

via More Encryption Is Not the Solution – ACM Queue.

The article is short and worth reading. The author is clearly not an economist, “In the past quarter century, international trade agreements have been the big thing: free movement of goods across borders and oceans, to the mutual benefit of all parties. I guess we all assumed that information and privacy rights would receive the same mutual respect as property rights did in these agreements, but we were wrong.”

He also has an unhealthy optimism that the guys with the guns can be persuaded to dismantle the spy agencies (who, I’m sure, have lots of dirt on the guys with the guns); all -in-all the conclusion section is the weakest part of the paper.

Overall, his point is important: as long as institutions exist that are overwhelmingly recognized to have the right to do whatever they please up to and including caging and killing anyone who doesn’t obey, encryption will, at best, protect small handfuls of people. For people generally, a general solution is necessary, which is a delegitimization of the use of force by “government.”

The Supreme Court and Marriage

Is there anything more pathetic than having a panel of geriatric neo-scholastics as society’s self-proclaimed ultimate arbiters of right and wrong?

We should be immediately suspicious of this black-clad gang as they are supposed to use sane first principles, the facts of reality, and reason to arrive a just decisions, and yet not one of them is an atheist. In fact the currently represented religions (6 Catholic and 3 Jewish, I think) are demonstrably expert and ginning up internally consistent bullshit whirlwinds that can avoid, dismantle and adapt to any reality based objection–other religions aren’t slackers in this department either, but certain religions have truly raised this nonsense to an artform, or more aptly, an academic pursuit.

Supreme Court deliberations also sound remarkably similar to the early-bird dinner hour at Luby’s.

Reading the court transcript has much in common with reading a sci-fi forum about who would win in a fight between the Enterprise and a Star Destroyer. In both instances, the participants have powerful intellects that can make coherent, compelling arguments about anything, no matter how fanciful the context. In both instances a baseline fantasy story is held by all the participants, each then adds a few individual fantasy premises and then the reasoning process begins. In both cases, the conclusions are meaningless outside of their fantasy settings and nothing about reality has been decided at all. To be fair to the sci-fi folks, only the Supreme Court has millions of armed brutes enforcing their arbitrary conclusions.

As a quick demonstration of what a reality-based court transcript might look like (courtesy of a friend’s Facebook post):

I don’t know what kind of vaguely legitimate arguments anyone could make in defense of the DOMA. I take an adult’s right to enter into a contract of any kind–marriage or other– with another adult as so much of a given that trying to explain myself would be like trying to explain why slavery is wrong. If you’re still one of those people who believes that a Bronze Age collection of stories justifies you imposing your hangups on others’, I got nothing for you. Please go fuck yourself in the most hetero way you please.

Case closed.

Control of One’s Body (or, Freedom of Conscience Part le Deux)

Another quick (probably not that quick) example where people’s freedom of conscience is most obviously violated comes to us from science magazine. Briefly, it’s one of those reports of a drug that successfully fights cancer (in this call, *all* forms) in petri dishes an mice. I have no expertise to evaluate the claim–though it is coming from *science* magazine. It’s an interesting article and compelling enough that the top level comments are from folks desperate for a miracle cure. This shit is tragic, so don’t read any further if you’re having a down day:

Husband and father of 3, age 31, high grade spindle cell sarcoma, stage 4 with mets- help! [email address] or find me (spouse) on fb, Heather Cimino in Fort Myers, Fl, willing to travel anywhere, just save my husband!

my wife has tumor that are killing her will you hurry up and get this sorted – is there anyway one can volunteer for a trial
[email address]

where do i sign up I have colon cancer i am 24 and it sucks I do not wanna go to the bathroom in a bag for my life!!!


Soooo, I get the feeling there are plenty of willing participants for a study; most of whom are facing death in the very near term. They have full access to all sorts of non-cures (I’m a skeptic) in the forms of crystals, charged water, intense prayer, tinctures and the like, but they can’t get access to prototypes of drugs that, by definition, can’t make them worse off and have already been shown to be effective against human cancers in test mammals (mice).

It’s fucking tragic, tragic and awful, and frustrating, and infuriating.

The comments on this page are mostly a fight over some particular alternative healer. At Hacker News, where I read the story–and where very few alternative healing folk hang out, you can get a sense the frustration at this obvious and heinous injustice. Providing the foil are the usual apologists claiming that

. . . exemptions will invite snake-oil salesmen . . . the rules weren’t created in some blind bureaucratic power-grab. They’re responses to actual problems that existed in their absence. They aren’t without their downsides, but they remain better than the alternative on balance

I found among the comments, an acronym that I hadn’t seen before, FUD, or “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”, have no doubt I plan to use it liberally in the future. The identification of this reactionary strategy when it was deployed was a highlight of the HN comments. A large number of people clearly grasp that the final word on what does or does not get done to a body should be made by the “owner” of that body; nobody else can legitimately intervene with force to compel a forfeiture of conscience.

And that is heartening. Clearly a growing number of people “get it.” Overriding the exercise of control a person has over their body is instinctually repellent in a healthy adult human. Beyond what should be an obvious moral case is the practical one. The idea that a tiny clan of self-aggrandizing control freaks can access and weight the subjective experiences and priorities of millions of complete strangers is ludicrous. The notion that they thereafter can craft a single set of rules that do anything other than confound the daily lives of the subject of those rules is, uhhh, even more ludicrous.

Add to that the fact that these petty tyrants are bought and paid for by entities who profit from illness and from having a monopoly on all manner of healthcare resources and it becomes clear that the purpose of the FDA and similar agencies can’t possibly be the health and well being of the subjects.

What is laughable and sinister becomes heartbreaking when these sorts of forces prevent people from seeking solutions to life threatening medical conditions. And let’s be sure I beat this dead horse deader, the FDA and it’s enforcers are so completely certain that they know categorically what all 300 million of us should consume/not consume, that they are willing to kill people, if need be, to prevent them from harming themselves. Shit, sometimes I can’t believe how fucking loony this all is.

Freedom of Conscience

I’ve had an idea bouncing around in my head to little effect. I’m going to disgorge it here just to see what it looks like written down and also to drop a March post for my weird Archive column length vanity thing.

I don’t know the origins of the concept of “freedom of conscience.” I associate it with 17th/18th century enlightenment authors writing about religious freedom. The topic was hot after hundreds of years of “religious” warfare based on the premise that a monarch or government could discern which of a number of unprovable, highly subjective religious experiences were true and which weren’t. I haven’t heard the phrase in use much lately, but it is a good stand in for a whole category of problems/decisions that belong in the hands of the individual–which is all of them.

You should be able to believe any ol’ crazy thing.

Nobody really knows *exactly* how dangerous Waziristani goat herders are to the health and well being of a westerner. My estimation is that I endure nearly 0 risk from said goat herders. My conscience says that it’s wrong to kill somebody like that–somebody who poses absolutely no risk to my well being. If I were allowed the freedom to follow my conscience, I would spend 0 dollars attempting to kill the goat herders and their coreligionists on the far side of the planet. However, I am not allowed such freedom and my future labor has been used as leverage to incur trillions of dollars in debt (well, not just *my* labor) by people who supposedly believe they’re protecting me from some awful menace. On the flipside, other than denouncing you for a dangerous lunatic, I’ll not stand in the way of your spending however many 10s of thousands of dollars you wish trying to exterminate the muslim menace on your own.

Nobody knows how important a building-code compliant structure is to a given person. Sure, it’s nice to live in a safe structure with modern electrical and plumbing, but there are costs associated with doing so. I might find it more important to eat healthier food and save money for my child’s education than to spend money ensuring that my windows are the appropriate distance off the ground or to build a fence around a camper in my driveway. Maybe another person would prefer precisely the opposite for their own reasons. We should both/all be granted the freedom to follow our own consciences in these matters–the idea that a rule can be made that enforces the correct priorities for thousand or millions of people is laughable on its face.

Nobody knows when life begins, there’s a near consensus that, after being born, a human should be given a shot at living. Except under situations of extreme large scale deprivation, there are people willing to take custody of a child that would otherwise die. Before birth, however, this is a matter of debate and each person has their own opinion about “when life begins.” Each person should be allowed the freedom of their conscience in this matter. Nobody should be compelled to give birth or to abort a fetus against her will. It seems silly to even have to say it.

Always remember the alternative. I can honor your freedom of conscience in a matter, or I can compel you to go against it through force or threat of force. Of course there are circumstances, however rare, when I my conscience may dictate that I violently intervene to override your freedom of conscience (maybe you’re walking drunk into traffic, maybe you’re sleepwalking with a loaded gun). Currently, our rulers intervene as soon as we choose to purchase beverages that are too large, or to buy unpasteurized milk, or to visit a un-permitted wilderness camp. People who are brave/foolhardy enough to attempt to withhold their resources from the imperial prison/surveillance/warfare state can have any or all of their possessions taken from them and spend some or all of the rest of their lives in cages.

Of course there are complex and mind-bending rationales for all of these and other crimes against humanity carried out by those calling themselves “government”–just as there are complex and mind-bending rationales for an omnipotent, yet omniscient, god that allows humans free will. The simple truth is, no such god exists, and “government” is simply a group of humans who wish to rule over other humans. A simple litmus test of whether a human relation is just and equal or unjust and hierarchical is whether the freedoms of conscience of all the participants are being honored.

Salman Rushdie and the “Innocence of Muslims”

Salman Rushdie has some harsh words for President Obama and other western leaders:

I think if we wish to live in any kind of a moral universe, we must hold the perpetrators of violence responsible for the violence they perpetrate. It’s very simple. The criminal is responsible for the crime.

Oh no, wait. He’s talking about the US armed militants that turned on their masters and killed 4 Americans . . . in a country where the United States indiscriminately bombed 1,000 civilians (very conservatively) out of existence in the previous year.

I hesitate to tell someone who grew up Muslim about the recent history of the Muslim world, but anybody who says:

. . . in the last half-century, these cultures seem to have slid backwards into medievalism and repression is one of the – I think it’s one of the great self-inflicted wounds. And out of that comes the rise of this new, much harsher Islam . . . the readiness to believe that it’s OK to kill people if you declare yourself offended by something. This is the mindset of the fanatic, the mindset of the tyrant. And it’s a real shame that it seems to have spread so widely across the Muslim world,

needs, perhaps a quick refresher.

The “slide backwards into medievalism” wasn’t a “self-inflicted wound.” The people of the muslim world were dragged into the torture chambers of medievalism by colonial secret police; were herded into medievalism by western armed and supported dictators; and were finally bombed into medievalism by 30 years of relentless aggression from western militaries and their proxies.

Yes, Islam is awful and stupid and can be a rallying point for hostilities that are boiling over. The same is true for any Abrahamic religion. The idea that some 13 minute Youtube clip is really actually driving the entire Muslim world in a batshit firebombing rage is remarkably stupid. I’m sure Salman Rushdie is not remarkably stupid. He sort of sounds like it in this interview though.

Which brings me to point #2:
The idea that some 13 minute Youtube clip is really actually driving the entire Muslim world in a batshit firebombing rage is remarkably stupid.

And yet, that’s the story–at least the headline–nearly universally across all media. Man those people are crazy! They’re going nuts over an offensive Youtube clip? Another round of bombing is too good for them!

I *have* actually heard a couple of reports that at least hint at the fact that perhaps, just maybe, daily drone attacks, constant military occupation and the propping up of a whole chain of awful governments against the will of the population have *something* to do with the recent violence. Literally, like 2–maybe 3–in a solid week of coverage.

Pepe Escobar of Asia Times makes a convincing case that the Libya attck was “blowback” from the killing of Abu Yahya al-Libi, an ally of the United States in the fight against Gaddafi who was then assassinated. The death was announced on 9/11:

An immediate effect of al-Zawahiri’s video was that an angry armed mob, led by Islamist outfit Ansar al Sharia, set fire to the US consulate in Benghazi. The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed. It didn’t matter that Stevens happened to be a hero of the “NATO rebels” who had “liberated” Libya – notoriously sprinkled with Salafi-jihadis of the al-Libi kind.

This isn’t conclusive, of course, but it’s infinitely more likely than a crowd of would-be peaceful muslims driven into a lunatic rage by a Youtube clip.

Which brings me to point #3:
Does anyone thinks it’s strange that this movie trailer isn’t actually associated with a movie? I checked the Googles, Amazon, even Ebay. There is no movie “Innocence of the Muslims.” I’m not trying to spin a conspiracy yarn . . . not yet anyway . . . but this is just a true statement. The movie does not exist. The clip on Youtube can’t really be a trailer for a movie, then can it? Where did this story even come from?

Segueless jump to point #4:
Guess what, almost no muslims are protesting at all. Even given the occupation, the appropriation of their resources, the secret police, the constant surveillance, the desecration of everything . . . sacred, etc., there are a few hundred up to a couple thousand people engaged in protest at each of these events.

In one of those rare instances in which something on the Internet gets lost, I can’t find a site I saw yesterday that had the size of the protests vs. the populations of each country. Suffice it to say that the burner/rioters represent tens-of-thousandths of percents of the population (i.e 00.0001%)

Take a look at the #MuslimRage Twitter hashtag. It’s adorable. Here are 13 pictures of Muslim rage. Take a look. Just like you, amazingly enough, almost everybody else in the fucking world just wants to live their lives and be left alone by the lunatic %00.0001 percent of busy bodies and psychopaths that ruin it for everyone.

To conclude:
This story in which cultures are clashing and a mad and unfathomable “other” is just waiting to destroy you and your happiness is bullshit. It’s just a story–completely fabricated by people who will take your money, at gunpoint if necessary, to kill and enslave innocent human beings, just like you and your family, all around the world.

It’s just a story to blind you like Salman Rushdie is blind–who can look at a history of the last 50 years and not see that the murderers who need to be held accountable are the leaders of the western powers?

Don’t believe the stories. Don’t become blind to evil. Let’s leave the stone age relics of religion and rulers that the 00.0001% would have us cling to behind and forge a new path for humanity. A path that most of us have been on this whole time.

Those Crazy Egyptian Infowarriors!

I’ll try to keep this one quick, though I could really go on for hours about it.

Apparently, Hillary Clinton was recently in Egypt, where her motorcade was the target of tomatoes, shoes, and other signs of “anti-american” behavior.

The New York Times (blog, I think) and Rachel Maddow (citing the Times), blame American right wing “conspiracy theorists” (Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, two other people I’ve never even heard of) for riling up the Egyptians. Said riling took the form of said theorists claiming that the United States meddles in Egyptian politics.

You can watch/read if you want a reasonably convincing argument, source to “several protestors,” in support of this supposition. I’ll offer the following arguments against it.

The government of Egypt has been a creature of the United States for almost 60 years. The series of long ruling dictators were less than beloved by the Egyptian people who were well aware that the United States was providing the arms and intelligence that prevented them from any degree of political self-determination.
The Egyptians have watched several hundred thousand of their co-religionists starve to death, die from embargoes of medical goods and be vaporized and disappeared to concentration camps by various US lead coalitions. These atrocities happened in countries in extremely or relatively close proximity. Somewhere north of 30,000 were killed in a neighboring state just a less than a year ago. Outside of the US propaganda sphere and a handful of particularly callous western european commentators, these deaths are rightly seen as cold blooded murder by an invading empire.

I have less evidence for this last point, but I just can’t imagine too many Egyptians watch Glen Beck. I didn’t even know Michelle Bachman was still in congress.

Now, every person living in Egypt is, of course, an individual. I’m sure there are a couple who believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim bent on the creation of a neo-caliphate because Michelle Bachman told them so. Who knows, this entire protest could actually have been peopled by an unlikely seeming Egyptian Glen Beck meetup group.

Allow me to assure you, though, that the average Egyptian is not indulging in conspiratorial thinking along the lines of lizard people and alien visitations by thinking that the US might–just might–be fucking with their political system. It’s akin to one of us hypothesizing that Exxon or Goldman Sachs might be, in some way, trying to influence the outcome of American elections.

There’s a good deal of really, really well founded anger directed at the American ruling class by a whole world of victims of American foreign power. The anger would be universal except for soothsayers like Maddow and the New York Times (and the rest of the media establishment for that matter) insisting that everyone else in the world’s anger is directed at our government because of “our freedom,” “our prosperity,” or because they’ve fallen victim to zany tinfoil hat conspiracy theories.

Update: Jon Stewart makes the point funnier.

A Typical Crime with an Atypical Victim

One of the leading indicators of the diseased nature of our political system is the dramatic militarization of and the increasingly brazen acts of inhumanity carried out by those calling themselves “law enforcement.” We’ve moved into another era of popular resistance to the existing power structures unseen since the late 1960s. Police are transitioning from the task of the last 40 years–satisfying the racist demands of the power structure by locking-up non-whites for non-crimes–back to the job of cracking down on political dissent and disobedience.

One thing authoritarian thugs will absolutely not countenance is being called out for their thuggery. It’s a rare, brave, and disciplined soul who would even dare to challenge a uniformed police officer–a state agent with the power to do literally anything to any “normal” without repercussions.

One such hero is Austin’s own Antonio Buehler, who attempted to intervene–not physically, apparently he wasn’t suicidal–while cops assaulted a 100 pound woman (pictured) at a gas station early on New Year’s day.

I leave it to you to review the facts of the case, should you be disinclined to accept my opinion. As far as I can tell, Antonio, who was probably the only sober person in Austin at that point in time, did nothing illegal and certainly nothing wrong (and yes, those are largely unrelated categories). His ongoing entanglement with the “justice” system since that night is entirely due to his failure to submit and obey. It’s also a highlight reel for modern american “police work.”

Antonio is facing 10 years in prison for “felony harassment of a public servant.” You see, one officer took a couple minutes off from abusing the young woman to shove Antonio around. When Antonio put his hands in the air and backed away, refusing to engage the officer physically, the cop dragged him to the ground and arrested him. He was accused him of 1. charging the “officer” and 2. spitting in this face.

Historically, Anthony Buehler would be at the whim of the “justice” system and would join the legion of other previously free people about whom some bullshit charge was ginned up for the purpose of putting them in cages for large parts of their lives.

Unfortunately for brazen, legalized thuggery, the 21st century has seen a proliferation of recording devices, and there was somebody across the street videoing the entire encounter. Also unfortunately for those who would lock up a stranger for 10 years just because they want to: Antonio is a pretty industrious fellow. Beside finding the person who recorded the event, he also found other witnesses who were willing to testify to his innocence.

Additionally, he’s actively pursued getting the dashboard camera footage released. As per usual, when they contain evidence of officer misconduct–which is most of the time--the footage is sequestered
while “under review” by some internal investigatory arm
with a 100% track record of clearing officers of their crimes. I’m surprised they even admit the cameras were on and functioning and that no one “lost” the recording media.

Despite all this (and 2000+ signatures on a petition to investigate his assailants , and 6000+ members of the related facebook page), the state is moving forward with its attempt to put Antonio in a cage. It’s reasonably likely, despite being clearly in the right at every point in the encounter, he’ll go to prison. It’s almost certainly the case that, despite committing a series of crimes–and being awful, cretinous human beings to boot–the police involved will continue to roam the streets, abusing people and putting them in cages.

It’s important to focus the mind on the reality that this style of injustice happens to dozens or hundreds of people every single day. Anyone who faces law enforcement without witnesses is entirely at their mercy. Anybody who has already been a victim of the “justice” system (i.e, with a record), or who can’t martial the tremendous amount of mental and material resources to defend oneself against the state is going to prison.

Antonio Buehler happens to be very capable, courageous and motivated, and he had witnesses with recording devices–even he might go to prison.

Along those lines, another important point: do not fuck with Antonio Buehler. Since being attacked, he has started an organization, The Peaceful Streets Project that is distributing video devices to activists in an attempt to provide evidentiary protection to other victims of the police. The group is collecting stories from victims of Austin police, is holding “know your rights” trainings, and is organizing a Police Accountability Summit on July 14.

I’m hoping that his case is high-profile enough that they can’t cage him. As I noted at the start of the post, the state’s “justice” system is transitioning from caging undeclared political prisoners to overt and active dissidents. If the process can be stopped or slowed, it will be through efforts like Peaceful Streets Project and people of honor like Antonio Buehler.

Excerpted David Brooks Describes A True Civilization

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to agree with a higher percentage of physical content in a David Brooks article than today. With just a few minutes of editing, his words describe the conditions under which all of humanity could live and thrive in a state of cooperation and peace.

We live in a culture that finds it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power.

Then there is our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal.

Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.

The common assumption is that elites are always hiding something. Those people at the top are [not] smart or as wonderful [or] pure.

The World War II memorial is a nullity. It tells you nothing about the war or why American power was mobilized to fight it.

The Vietnam memorial is about tragedy.

You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether. They reject hierarchies and leaders because they don’t believe in the concepts. The whole world should be like the Internet — a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.

[It's understood that] power is built on a series of paradoxes . . . Democratic followership is also built on a series of paradoxes

Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions.

Not bad, eh?

I recommend against reading the original (and yet I link to it. Yeah go read it, and understand he wrote it at the behest of power). It’s literally the worst, over the top, lick-spittle toadying I’ve ever read from an adult. Or a child for that matter, unless they’re talking about their favorite comic book characters.

Austin Cops Add “Preserve Life” to Official To-Do List

From the Onion-or-Real-Life dept, Austin Police Department has “altered its guiding set of policies by adding a ‘preservation of life standard’ that tells officers that their main responsibility is to preserve human life.”

Thanks, local activists, for getting “not killing people” on the APD todo list. I’m guess dogs are not included in the radical new life preservation policy. It’s too bad, APD is missing out on an opportunity to drastically reduce its munitions budget.

Another new addition says, “We must realize our main responsibility is the protection of the community, and the preservation of human life and dignity.”
Mannix [ Assistant Police Chief ] said police officials have discussed adding the standard for about three years.

I wonder if the implementation phase will take as long the discussion phase. It doesn’t go into effect until July 1st, so keep any people or animals you love away from the police for a few more weeks.

Mannix said that the spirit of the policy has always been followed in the department’s culture, code of conduct and training procedures. He said the department’s goal in adding the standard is to help residents understand that this is the case.

I’m no public relations expert, but I’m pretty sure the best way to help residents understand that the police intend to preserve life would be to have the police stop shooting people, animals, and other living things.

You’ll want to void your bladder before you read this next part:

Mannix said preservation of life goes beyond shootings. He said he feels a good example of the policy in action came in April, when 35-year-old Ahmede Jabbar Bradley was fatally shot during a confrontation with an officer . . . after Bradley was shot, police attempted to revive him with CPR, Mannix said.
“The concept of preservation of life is not just about use of force,” Mannix said. “It’s about everything our officers do, like pulling a kid from a burning car or performing CPR on someone.”

You read that correctly: Mannix feels a “good example” of preserving life is a case where police fatally shot someone and then performed CPR. I wonder if the kid-from-a-burning-car example occurred after the police shoved the kid into the car and set it on fire.

On second reading: you’ll probably want to continue to avoid the police at all reasonable costs even past the July 1st implementation of life preservation, “he [Mannix] said he doesn’t think it will affect the way officers perform their duties”. Yeah, I bet it won’t.

Intentional Killing of Strangers Called “Murder” by Rogue Media Person

Jeremy Scahill will surely reap a Chris Hayes style whirlwind of condemnation for his Chris Hayes style stating of the obvious (on Chris Hayes’ show, oddly enough).

Of course ordering the death of strangers on the other side of the world is murder. Intentionally killing people who can’t possibly harm you is what murder *is*. Scahill is willing to cut the administration some slack and keep the strangers that have been secretly “kill listed” out of the murder tally. He’s only counting up the thousands of women and children–the administration considers all males to be combatants–vaporized by presidentially authorized attacks.

President Obama and all those that follow his homicidal orders are murderers. It’s not a wild claim. The declaration requires only a cursory review of the facts and an objective viewpoint.

One might retort that by my definition (not necessarily Scahill’s), every war president–which is all of them, I believe–is a murderer. That’s true, and they are. I understand that most historical narratives carve out special exceptions for rulers because they are working on behalf of God or the motherland or democracy or something. If the mystical bullshit is put aside and we observe the facts of history, 44 American men have taken successive turns sending armed men and machines around the world butchering millions–rivals for power and innocents alike. That, again, is what murder is.

Someone incapable of abandoning the political process can make the claim that a particular murderer is better or worse than another. Perhaps one president murdered more reluctantly than another or helped more or fewer people with his murders and threats of murder. I respect the realistic favoring of a particular murderer on the basis of the perceived alternatives. Though I will continue to advocate for alternatives to murder as a central organizing principle of society; I understand, in many cases, the reasons for pleading one’s case the to the current ruler or trying to replace him with another.

It’s contrary to reality, however, to claim they aren’t murderers. It negates the humanity of their victims, and, frankly, indicates a lack of humanity–or ability to observe the glaringly obvious–on the part of the claimant. If we can’t start the conversation with the understanding presiding over the killing of innocent human beings is murder, we’re not operating in the same moral universe.