Cutting thru the Propaganda Fog
Hall of Shame
Evil GOP Bastard of the Month
& GOP Party Hack
The governance of the popular action star has
Air America Radio
The Daily Kos
Election Theft /
Black Box Voting
Talking Points Memo
The Independent Institute
The Daily Howler
People for the
for the Separation
of Church & State
The Rude Pundit
TV News Lies
Project for the Old American Century
The Raw Story
The Crisis Papers
The Bush Presidency
Where in Washington
is Sun Myung Moon?
Since the New Deal, Republicans have been on the wrong side of every issue of concern to ordinary Americans; Social Security, the war in Vietnam, equal rights, civil liberties, church- state separation, consumer issues, public education, reproductive freedom, national health care, labor issues, gun policy, campaign-finance reform, the environment
and tax fairness. No political party could remain so consistently wrong by accident.
The only rational conclusion is that, despite their cynical "family values" propaganda, the Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy to betray the interests of the American people
in favor of plutocratic and corporate interests, and absolutist religious groups.
Why? Because they're evil GOP bastards!
fallen far short of the populist rhetoric Schwarzenegger used to win the governorship. Instead of addressing
the state's root problem, insufficient
tax revenues in the post Prop-13 era, Schwarzenegger simply borrowed to cover the budget shortfall and began proposing anti-labor initiatives like eliminating lunch breaks for hourly workers, reducing staff levels in hospitals and pillaging state pension plans. Contrary to fighting the "special interests," Ahnold has embraced them, receiving over $26 million in special- interest money. After his appointment of a Republican secretary of state to oversee elections, Californians should not be surprised to see "upset" GOP victories in that bluest of Blue States. MORE
The Gannon scandal was successfully contained. Lucky for us, the WH press corps are bigger whores than Jeffie ever was. We'll get Fox or Clear Channel to put him on the payroll.
Need more proof that the Republicans are evil bastards?
It Can't Happen Here? The Case for Ballot Tampering in the 2004 Elections
The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis
It's official: Gore won Florida in 2000
The Florida Republican Recount Riot: A Consortorium report on how paid GOP operatives circumvented the democratic process through mob violence
Timeline of Bush administration's Iraq war lies
Caught on Film: Bush rhetoric versus reality
The October Surprise: The Reagan campaign committed treason against the US to ensure the defeat of Jimmy Carter in 1980, and got away with it
How heretical cult leader / convicted felon Sun Myung Moon achieved such influence over the Republican Party (and shameless televangelist lackeys like Jerry Falwell)
Bill Moyers on media consolidation and the decline of American journalism
Theocracy Watch: American Taliban endangers freedom from religion
List of influential right-wIng think tanks & foundations
His Own Private Abu Ghraib
by John Gorenfeld, Orkent Media
He created a system to reprogram bad kids. Delete the bad code in their personalities. Break the will of sullen stoner boys, make bad girls confess to whorish secrets and reverse-engineer the minds of heavy metal kids. And rebuild all of them into an anti-drug army. Such were the works of Melvin Sembler and the feats that STRAIGHT, the ultimate in teen drug rehab programs, attempted during the Totally Awesome Eighties.
Melvin Sembler's clinics might have seemed like a good idea at the time, when teen drug use was high and New Age thinking seemed to offer new and hopeful therapies for pressing the RESET button on human beings.
There were major problems, though. He modeled STRAIGHT after another program, creepily named "The Seed," shut down
after the U.S. Congress literally issued a report in 1974 comparing it to "the highly refined 'brainwash-
ing' techniques employed by the North Koreans." Sembler's imitation wasn't shut down until 1993 for illegal child abuse: beatings and sexual humiliation. Kids were thrown against walls. Or forced to sit in their own menstrual blood. Unless, of course, they were ready to cooperate, confess, and chant "I'm at STRAIGHT, feeling great" with the others. In that case they got to be the enforcers. Dozens of lawsuits exposed a similar picture in 12 clinics across America.
Fast forward to 2005. Sembler, 75, is the United States ambassador
to Italy. The enforcers have turned into Sembler's enemies and one man is out for payback.
On a balmy recent Florida day I drove around St. Petersburg with former STRAIGHT teen Richard Bradbury, 39. The bleach-haired vigilante was dressed in shiny
white baller gear and earrings,
and calm for now under the spell
of Xanax. He's been living on a disability check and even had to sell his beloved boat. He landed himself in a whole heap of lawsuit in 2003 by trying to humiliate the ambassador.
Bradbury knows his actions are
not to be taken lightly. He is med-
dling with a man so powerful that Gov. Jeb Bush once named a "Betty Sembler Day" in Florida
to honor his wife's ongoing, taxpayer-funded campaigns on behalf of workplace urine tests.
And he has raised so much
money for Republicans that men named George Bush make him
an ambassador every time they become president. The Florida
drug crusader and businessman was also the boss of the Bush campaign war chest in 2000,
and now - improbably - the U.S. representative to Italy, where he has been in the news this month over the Iraq mess.
"He's way at the top of the world," Bradbury said as he cruised to dance music he described as "bumpin'," over the Tampa Bay causeway and then past the shopping centers built by Sem-
bler Co., the local firm that made Sembler rich. "I'm at the bottom
of it. He's got a long way to fall,
but where else am I gonna go?"
Bradbury began harassing Sem-
bler after leaving the program in the mid-1980s and deciding that what happened to him was illegal. He helped bring down STRAIGHT in Florida by playing whistleblower, turning over documents that triggered an investigation and exposed a politically-motivated cover-up. As a result, the ware-
house-like building near Burger King in St. Pete is no longer a
teen hell, but a cable company.
For years parents would trick their kids into entering that place. A typical ploy: "Yeah, we're still
goin' to Disney World, let's just duck into this unmarked building
for a second..."
Says Bradbury of what happened inside: "You don't understand what they did to these kids. They put stuff up my butt."
That part is over now. And yet Bradbury fights on. But when will Bradbury or other Sembler-bashers - like Wes Fager, a programmer who says his son suffered a mental collapse after attending a Virginia STRAIGHT - drop their grudges over lifelong psychological problems and so forth?
No time soon, perhaps. For the past two years, Bradbury has dug through Sembler's trash outside his St. Petersburg home. Set off by the story of an ongoing Death Row case involving a STRAIGHT teen who murdered a gay man after being spat on as a "faggot" in the program, Bradbury lashed out. He used eBay to post something he'd found on Sembler's sidewalk: a penis pump.
When a lawyer demanded he give
it back, he demanded $700,000 instead. Bradbury, accused of stalking and intentional infliction of emotional damage, is still in court. He's hoping the ambassador will be forced to testify about STRAIGHT and be held accountable, though how likely that is remains unclear.
Why the ambassador has such determined enemies may have something to do with his high-
rolling lifestyle in the face of past trauma. The Semblers live in a palace-like walled estate in Rome, featuring the city's largest private garden. They jokingly call it "The Magic Kingdom" - like Disney World, the real one as opposed to the unmarked building near Burger King. The wealth that brought him here stems from his accomplish-
ments as shopping center developer in St. Petersburg. He was also Bush I's ambassador to Australia. And he is founder of St. Pete's Holocaust museum.
Exposing the ugly truth
about the Republican Party's diabolical plot to replace constitutional democracy with an oligarchic
It's the only rational explanation!
Why does the Republican Party zealously pursue policies so obviously counter to the best interests of ordinary Americans?
It can only be
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Then there is his public cheerfulness about STRAIGHT. His Web site brags of saving 12,000 kids from drugs. George H.W. Bush awarded it one of the "thousand points of light" awards.
His influence, according to a 1993 audit by the state of Florida, kept STRAIGHT open despite the facts. Phone calls from politicians in 1989 warned health inspectors that it didn't matter what abuse they reported, the clinics would stay open. After all, they were run by a personal friend of the president. "A persistent foul odor," the St. Petersburg Times editorialized.
Then there is the survival of STRAIGHT's ideas. By 1994
the clinics were closed in name, but offshoots continue today - with names like SAFE of Orlando.
With a legacy like this, it's almost enough to make you wonder if potential ambassadors are not chosen for their awesome diplomatic skills but their generosity in giving money to political parties. Italians have taken notice; Sembler earned attention this month during a diplomatic crisis over a March 4 incident when trigger-happy Ameri-
can GIs shot an Italian journalist and killed her rescuer.
The Christian news site Reta Della Pace has just publi-
shed an article on Sembler's past, quoting STRAIGHT parent Fager as saying that 40 STRAIGHT graduates
It's no wonder Italians are bewildered. Prison abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay have Europeans wondering if their once-admired ally, the U.S.,
is O.K. in the head. And now we're leaving the impression that it's O.K. - heroic, even - to treat young Americans
like Guantanamo Bay inmates.
Meanwhile, the children of the Eighties continue to
disagree with Sembler's claim that he saved thousands from drugs.
"It's never left my head even after 17 years!!!" posts 1988 graduate Becky Wright, one unsatisfied Straight client. Also typical is Kelly Caputo's post: "I was abused on a daily basis, and have silently suffered for years as a result. I don't think I will ever be the same. My every thought has been violated, confused, degraded, and warped.. When
my book comes out, God knows when, and I become famous, LOL, Sembler will be sorry."
The same day as the Iraq killing, the Washington Post awarded Sembler the "Narcissism Run Amok" award. He'd made history by convincing a friend of his in Congress to quietly insert a line into an appropriations bill, renaming
an $83 million building 'the Mel Sembler Building.'
"We don't do that, do we?" George W. Bush reportedly asked the congressman. "We don't name buildings for ambassadors where they have served."
"Mr. President," the Post quoted the congressman as saying, "I introduced the bill and you signed it."
Zany fun. It was a first - even Ben Franklin never arranged for something like this, and he was full of himself.
Unimpressed by the Mel Sembler Building, a tribute to
a man who doesn't speak Italian, the Italians decided several days later to leave Iraq.
Why should you care about the STRAIGHT story? Be-
cause there's been a national debate over whether torture
is worth it if it gets terrorists to reveal their secrets. Some worry we've opened Pandora's Box, inviting torture and ends-define-the-means abuse into the rest of the American way of life.
But it's old news. Turns out that in some states we've
been using it on teenagers for years.
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His Own Private Abu Ghraib - Continued