Dennis Loo

 Dennis Loo is an award-winning sociologist, co-editor of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, Associate Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and an honors graduate in Government from Harvard. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is a former journalist and his research specialties include polling, public policy-making, social movements, and criminology.He can be reached via his blog: http://dennisloo.blogspot.com

The Swift Boating of Barack Obama

By Dennis Loo

 "Barack Obama ran the best-organized and best-framed presidential campaign in history. How is it possible that the same people who did so well in the campaign have done so badly on health care?"

So asks George Lakoff in yesterday’s Truthout.org article: "The Policy-Speak Disaster for Health Care."  

Lakoff's argument in a nutshell: Obama has put the health care issue into the hands of policy wonks. These wonks think of lists of rational reasons why their plan is good. They don't understand the need to conceptually frame everything into one package: "An American Plan guarantees affordable care for all Americans." 

The right wing, by contrast, understands how to conceptually frame things in simple (fabricated) terms:

Obama's a socialist. (Subtext: Government's bad, remember?)

Obama's illegitimate. (Subtext: Obama's black. You don't like or trust blacks, remember?)

The health care plan will bankrupt the nation and give insurance to illegal immigrants. (Subtext: Mexicans are stealing your country. You want your country back, don't you?) 

Lakoff's question is a good one: how could the very same team of people who ran the best organized and framed campaign in U.S. history be doing so badly on health care?  

But Lakoff's answer is wrong.

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A Note About the Controversy Over the Town Hall Fracas Articles, or “Does Right-Wing Populism Exist?”

By Dennis Loo

As people who visit World Can’t Wait’s website know, I’ve written a spate of articles here recently about the Town Halls: “Town Hall Fracases and the Fascist Movement,” “Health Care Fracas: What Do Vampires and the GOP Have in Common?, “Mission Impossible: Seeking Common Ground with Fascists,” and “The Swift Boating of Barack Obama.” 


In response to one or more of these articles, a bit of a dust up has been going on. One of these disputes has been coming from blogs such as Ruth’s Report and Third Estate that are part of a group of 13-14 blogs that have posted quite a few links to WCW articles in the past (including as recently as August 14), including some of mine, recommending readers to them.

That’s why I’m a little mystified by the following:
 

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Hold On There Holder

By Dennis Loo

If Holder and Obama succeed in confining the investigation and prosecution to only those who “went beyond” the stated policies for torture under the Bush Regime, then under the signboard of opposing torture, they will have further legitimated and institutionalized the crimes against humanity articulated in the Bybee/Yoo memos, the Presidential Directives, and the whole rotten edifice of torture policies that Bush and Cheney are infamous for.

 

By saying that they will not go after those who followed the “legal” instructions of the White House lawyers, Holder and Obama are vitiating the Nuremberg Verdict. Nazis who tried to mount a defense at the Nuremberg Trials that they were "only following orders" were found guilty of crimes against humanity.

 

As they should.

 

And as the American architects of torture and those who carried out the torture with their own hands should as well.  

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Dirty Deeds, Dirty Hands

By Dennis Loo

The Nuremberg Verdict disallowed the shameful “I was just following orders” defense for torturers and murderers. Nuremberg is a sufficient reason onto itself to dismiss Obama and Holder's rationales for not investigating and prosecuting the ones who carried out torture and who were following the written orders of the OLC and the White House. 

But besides Nuremberg there is the further matter of the actions and intent of those who promulgated the orders to carry out torture. Just how good was their faith in issuing these orders? Did they do so because they were acting in good faith in defense of the nation?  

 This is where the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility Report comes into the picture. The OPR reports directly to the Attorney General of the U.S.

 Eric Holder continues to block the OPR Report's release.

 Why? Are not lawyers responsible for standards of professional responsibility? What does this report that Holder is blocking say? 

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The Discreet Charm of the Torturer

 By Dennis Loo

 “Unauthorized, improvised, inhumane, and undocumented”
 
Says the Inspector General’s Report
 
“Unauthorized, improvised, inhumane, and undocumented”
 
“Unauthorized?”
 
Not!

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Do We Get the Leaders We Deserve?

By Dennis Loo 

The notion that the people get the leaders (and system) they deserve is a common, oft-repeated one. It’s really a restatement of what some scholars call the democracy-at-work thesis: the people collectively and democratically decide who will lead them. Hence, the leaders at any given point in time are the ones that the people chose.[1]
If the people made a mistake and the leader or leaders turn out to be no good, then the people have the responsibility to remove those bad leaders. If they don’t remove them, then the people are at fault because they failed to unseat those leaders. The people in that case must be masochists, lazy, or they secretly desire the actions of the no good leader(s). All adult citizens have the right to vote and if they don’t vote, then they’re to blame for not voting, and if they do vote, then they should have chosen better leaders.
“Any way you look at you lose,” as the Simon and Garfunkel song goes: the public is to blame no matter what.

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Looking Forward, Not Backward

By Dennis Loo

In the September 19, 2009 Washington Post we learn that the DOJ’s investigation of torture by US personnel will be even narrower than originally proposed by Eric Holder.

“The Justice Department's review of detainee abuse by the CIA will focus on a very small number of cases, including at least one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret facility, according to two sources briefed on the matter.”

That very small number of cases may be as small as two:
“Although earlier reports indicated that Durham would look into 10 cases, a source said recently the number is much smaller. In all, 24 alleged abuse cases were earlier referred to federal prosecutors by the CIA inspector general, of which 22 were declined, according to a letter in February 2008 from a Justice Department legislative liaison.”
The article ends with this:
"'A lot of times cases look open-and-shut because a guy froze to death on a cold cement floor, but these cases are more complicated and involved than that,' said a government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'You have to prove the cause of death. How do we know he froze to death? He may have died a natural death from clogged arteries. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he died as a result of the actions of the people who tied him to the floor naked. It may be a logical inference, but proving it beyond a reasonable doubt might be a different story.'"

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Bush was the Decider. Obama is the Legitimizer

By Dennis Loo

On Wednesday the Justice Department announced Obama's plans for continuing indefinite detentions of individuals deemed “dangerous” by the government.

Note that this is a designation rather than an adjudicated fact because those who are being indefinitely detained in this way are not being charged and will not be tried in a court, where facts and evidence matter.

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The Calamity of Iraq’s Orphans and the Morality of America

By Dennis Loo 

 
[This is a slightly edited version of a talk Dennis Loo gave at a Fundraiser for Iraqi Orphans held on October 17, 2009 in Costa Mesa California.]
 
I want to thank the organizers of this important event. [Sound of plane rumbling overhead]. When I fly out of and back into LA, I look out the window and see the vast expanse of housing, buildings, and roads that we have here.
 
It always amazes me when I fly over it at night and see the lights that fill the landscape, like starry sea creatures floating on the ocean’s surface. I ask that you now picture that as you think about the dimensions of the problem of children who have been orphaned by the US’s invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq.

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How a Torture Protest Killed a Career

 

By Dennis Loo 
A powerful and moving story from Consortium News that everyone should read, told by the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who, upon learning of the torture being carried out there on behalf of the CIA, felt impelled to speak out. As a result, his career was ruined.
As Max Weber, who was an expert on bureaucracies, pointed out in the 19th century: "as an instrument of 'societalizing' relations of power, bureaucracy has been and is a power instrument of the first order - for the one who controls the bureaucratic apparatus."

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Italy Does What Obama Won't: Convicts Torturers

By Dennis Loo 

In a breaking story that only CNN in US media appears to be carrying at this point, but numerous other foreign news services such as BBC are carrying: an Italian court has found twenty-two Americans guilty of kidnapping and torture of a cleric. 

CBC News today, November 4, 2009, is running the AP wire service report, which reads in part:

“State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said …the Obama administration was ‘disappointed about the verdicts.’

 

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About

World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.