Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Warnings of History

From Common Dreams.

Words cannot express ...

... how horrifying this extremely well-documented article is.

Yesterday while talking to Liz, I said that Bush had managed something that Nixon, Clinton, Reagan, , never did, namely make me embarrassed to be an American. It seems like every day there's a new parallel to draw between Bush & Hitler, between Bush's faux "democracy" and fascism. It's awful, it's scary. But though I bellyache & moan about how awful it is, I have never had to deal with anything like this:

Captain Terry Riordon unknowingly brought radiation poisoning home with him from Iraq to his wife, Susan Riordon. As recounted in the November, 2004 issue of the mainstream Conde Nast publication Vanity Fair, Mrs. Riordon was constantly burned by her husband's semen during intercourse.

Seems Terry's semen was turned to a fiery alkali by the radioactive uranium that settled in his testicles. The happily married couple had no idea what this new and horrifying complication was in this intensely private part of their life together. Little did they know the American Department of Defense had hopped into bed with them with a deadly intent.

With her husband slowly dying of radiation poisoning and in intense pain herself, Mrs. Riordon resorted to filling condoms with frozen green peas to use on herself to obtain relief from the internal burning's intense, excruciating, lasting pain. Other couples do that and other wildly frantic and imaginative measures seeking relief. The burning can leave blisters and contamination.

"It hurt [Terry] too. He said it was like forcing it through barbed wire," Riordon says. "It seemed to burn through condoms; if he got any on his thighs or his testicles, he was in hell." In a last, desperate attempt to save their sex life, says Riordon, "I used to fill condoms with frozen peas and insert them [after sex] with a lubricant." That, she says, made her pain just about bearable. Perhaps inevitably, he became impotent. "And that was like our last little intimacy gone."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bumper Sticker Du Jour


Monday, February 21, 2005

Some thoughts on Bush's Blood Thirst

According to the Washington Post, the Army is having trouble finding new recruits. It seems that fewer kids are willing to engage in a year-long game of Russian roulette for nothing in Iraq (or wherever). The recruiters bemoan this.

"Very frankly, in a couple of places our recruiting pool is getting soft," said Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the Army's personnel chief. "We're hearing things like, 'Well, let's wait and see how this thing settles out in Iraq,' " he said in an interview.

"The youngsters that are joining us are spending more time with the recruiters before they raise their right hand," he said. Today, most prospective enlistees contact the Army via the Internet, he said, asking numerous questions that require more recruiters to answer online and follow up with phone calls.

But few candidates will join up before meeting a recruiter in person and spending significant amounts of time with one, he said. "They ultimately want to see a soldier, a recruiter, and talk to them eyeball to eyeball," he said. As a result, "the recruiter who could go out and recruit two people this week might be consumed with recruiting that one."

The average cost of signing up a recruit is also beginning to rise, from $15,265 in fiscal 2001 to $15,967 in fiscal 2004 -- the result of more recruiters, advertising, and increased enlistment bonuses. In January, the Army announced a new six-month advertising contract with Leo Burnett USA worth an estimated $100 million.

I wonder how the recruiters feel as they attempt to talk youngsters into joining up to fight the great fight in Operation Blood for Oil? Do you suppose any of them have a conscience? How many can truly believe that what the Bush adminstration and the US military is doing is the right thing?

Coincidentally, columnist Bob Herbert of the New York Times has a piece about Iraq, in which he compares the voices against the war just before it began two years ago versus the voices now from within the administration.

The Times ran a front-page article on Sunday March 16, in which a senior counterintelligence official said: "An American invasion of Iraq is already being used as a recruitment tool by Al Qaeda and other groups. And it is a very effective tool."

On the same day The Washington Post reported that "specialists inside and outside the government question whether a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq would deliver a significant blow against international terrorism. Experts warn that war and occupation could also have the opposite effect by emboldening radical Islamic groups and adding to their grievances."

The Bush adminstration of course was touting the line that the war would be quickly over -- indeed, that any US forces would be back home by 2005, having been greeted by flowers strewn in their path on the march to Baghdad.

(Okay, so, they were a little off in their estimation of how things would go. )

Now fast-forward to last week's testimony of top administration officials before the Senate Intelligence Committee. If the war in Iraq was supposed to stem the terrorist tide, the comments of these officials made it clear that it hasn't worked.

Porter Goss, the C.I.A. director, told the committee, "Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists." He added, "These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focus on acts of urban terrorism."

The war, said Mr. Goss, "has become a cause for extremists." In his view, "It may only be a matter of time before Al Qaeda or another group attempts to use chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons."

We invaded Iraq without just cause, we destroyed its infrastructure, allowed looting of its historical relics, hospital supplies, ammunition storage dumps. We leveled whole cities, killing thousands upon thousands of Iraqis (they can't all be insurgents -- yet, anyway). Iraq is in chaos and that chaos is not clearing up. And the farcical and inane recent elections have been a major victory for Iran -- not democracy. We did all these things without having an exit strategy. Basically, the Bush adminstration saw Iraq as an opportunity for a permanent presence of US forces with the lovely bonus of plundering some of the richest of the world's natural resources.

And they not only got the US into a war it didn't need at the cost of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, but they've mishandled every single part of the process.

Between 69 and 82 percent of the (still living) Iraqi population favor a "near-term" withdrawl of American forces. (What do you want to bet that the Bush brain trust interprets that statistic as a sign that, darn it, we've been killing off the wrong folks after all?)

Read Baghdad Burning for a moving account of just what it's like over there for the Iraqis, and how far astray our policies have wandered.

Pity the poor recruiters if the fresh meat they're after at your local high school should actually pay close attention to any of this.

Mr. Herbert also notes:

Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said: "Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment. Overwhelming majorities in Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia believe the U.S. has a negative policy toward the Arab world."
Stop the presses.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Magnificent Obsession

Sherlock Holmes had Moriarty.

Batman has the Joker.

And the Boston Red Sox have the New York Yankees.

Winning the World Series, to be honest, was an anticlimax for the true hard-core
Sox fan. You don't hear people at the post office or around the water cooler
or  at the lunchroom counter dissecting the victory over the St. Louis
Cardnials last fall -- to be honest, I had to think a bit to even remember
who it was we beat.

No, what really counts is what we had to do to *get* to the World Series.

We beat the Yankees.

No, we *humiliated* the Yankees.

And it felt so *damn* good.

Unless you grew up in New England, as we both did, you can never hope to
understand this.

There was some concern that with the Sox having finally won it all, that
baseball this year would end up a ho-hum experience. But as they're reporting
at the Boston Dirt Dogs website,
home page for Sox Nation, there isn't much chance of that. We aren't even
a week into spring training and already there's a juicy Yankees-related scandal

Is it any wonder I can't wait for Opening Day?

Link of the Day

From Belgium. I can't say I really blame them, either.

"Gannon" article links

The Frank Rich article at the NYT has gotten a lot of attention. So far it's the best thing I've seen from the mainstream media in the US. Worth a read, though unfortunately what Rich writes can hardly be considered "hard news."

Fortunately though, MSM elsewhere in the world doesn't wear the blinders that reporters in this country must don.

Post With No Title

I'm actually not sure what to call this post. What springs to mind first is "Loving Words" since the person who wrote the item I'm linking to very obviously does love words. But it would be ironic in another way, since the piece addresses not loving words, or at least being critical of the way some of us string words together.

So this post has no title, and if you're not interested in writing, or poetry, or words (loving and otherwise), I guess you won't be interested in this link either.

Bush visits New Hampshire

Bush held one of his "town hall" meetings in New Hampshire last week to attempt to scare people into buying into his false claims regarding the imminent demise of Social Security. (Though traditionally a Republican stronghold, it's worth pointing out that NH was the only state to switch from red to blue in the presidential election.)

From the Murdoch rag the Boston Herald, here's an article on how it went. (It's nice to see that folks can be NH people first, and fools & Republicans second. Now if we could just do something about the corrupt state officials we manage to elect ...)


From the Whiskey Bar, the Creation of Gannon.

(TOTH: The Sideshow.)

Friday, February 18, 2005

Link of the Day

From World O'Crap.

(Going out of town for a while now...)

Compassionate Conservatism

From the Los Angeles Times comes a story about how the White House is trying to overturn compensation promised to American POWs tortured in Iraq during the Gulf War.

(TOTH: I'm Just Sayin')

Thought of the Day

How do you throw away a trash can?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Kitty Blog

Jessica the cat
"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille..."

(the reason she looks less than happy is that due to unfortunate circumstance, the cat Jessica has had to go on a diet -- she is not happy about this)

From the Emerald Isle

Here is a post from the blog Crooked Timber about Antonin Scalia's visit to Dublin (one of my favorite places on earth, fwiw).

I'd like to hoist a pint of Guinness to the chap who said this to Justice Scalia:

‘So you’re on the American Supreme Court? What’s all this craic about hanging chads?’

Rumsfield Meets Congress

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has an interesting commentary piece about our Secretary of War -- ah -- Defense.

End of the Tunnel

This has been an awful winter.

It's been an awful winter on the political level, the financial level, the personal level, and the emotional level. We've spent pretty much all our time and all our energy trying to cope with things we wish we didn't have to cope with.

But as of today, that winter is officially over.

Yeah, yeah, I know what the calendar says. It's still more than a month to go till spring. But that's not what matters.

Here in the wasteland of New England, spring begins on a certain day in mid-February, when pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers for the opening of the Boston Red Sox Spring Training Camp.

The *WORLD CHAMPION* Boston Red Sox Spring Training Camp.

Sure, it's stupid and superficial and self-delusional to think that makes any real difference -- but we're not talking reality here, we're talking *symbolism.* Indulge me on this, okay?

Spring Training has begun. Opening Day is just a month and a half away.

We survived another winter.

Just barely.

But we survived.

White House Press Credentials

How hard can they be to get anyway?

When the "Jeff Gannon" story started to break there was a rather inane remark from someone defending the idea of a non-journalist with a false name getting access to the White House press room. I don't recall the exact wording or even who it was (someone from the Washington Post, mabye?) but it was something along the lines of oh, there are so many new venues out there, what with the internet and bloggers and so on -- the inference being that bloggers were somehow privy to the same credentials issued to folks working for long-standing news organizations. (I am trying not to give in to temptation and put the word "news" in quotation marks...)

And then the White House's own Scott McClennan commented "when he ["Gannon" or Gluckert] started coming to the White House about two years ago, the staff asked to see that it -- that he represented a news organization that published regularly. And they showed that, so he was cleared and has been cleared ever since based on that time."

This remark wasn't terribly realistic either, since the "news organization that published regularly" turns out to be an internet site with an extreme right-wing agenda with little to support any sort of claim to be a real or primary source of news to anyone (despite rash boasts of large readership, until very recently, site traffic had languished badly). At best, it could be viewed as a partisan op-ed boutique. Wares on display, hefty price tags well-hidden, in the best tradition of the Bush administration itself.

But now there is an interesting op-ed piece in today's New York Times from that reckless liberal Maureen Dowd, who seems genuinely puzzled over the whole affaire "Gannon":

I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?

At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.

The mind boggles at contemplating the potential skeletons in her closet that must have kept her out of the White House briefing room, eh?

I had no intention of posting about the "Gannon" thing -- it just seemed to be so sordid & low that the story told itself and it sure didn't need my help in any way. But the idea of this non-journalist with a phony name working for a pseudo news organization gaining White House credentials while Ms. Dowd is denied them is just too heinous to ignore.

I have been growing increasingly worried about the trend in the current administration toward ringers -- propagandists masquerading as journalists. (The biggest irony here is that traditional journalists are already so slanted in favor of the Bush regime than they don't need ringers.) Joseph Goebbels was someone who thought the news could be molded and manipulated to serve a political agenda. As a result of his harnessing of whatever message the media could make, a whole population was misled, or even worse, brainwashed into believing and accepting as fact the most blatant lies. For many years I studied this phenomenon with the complacency that comes from knowing that such a thing could never occur in my country.

I'm no longer complacent.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Family Values

You've got to hand it to Alan Keyes -- sure, he's a self-righteous sanctimonious
blowhard, but by golly he practices what he preaches. When his daughter came
out as a lesbian, and then *compounded* the sin by demonstrating against
the Bush inaugural, he threw the little sinner right out on her hiney and
cut off her tuition to Brown.

One of my favorite columnists, Derrick Z. Jackson, has an apt commentary
on l'affiare Keyes in today's Boston Globe.

That's doing the Lord's Work there, Brother Keyes. Praise Jeeeayzuz. And
let it be a lesson to Dick Cheney, the limpwristed poofter.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Howdy Dave

Picture of the day

rockland maine sunrise
Rockland Maine just after sunrise New Year's Day.

He Yam What He Yam

Ever wonder exactly what it was that Popeye the Sailor might have
been puffing on in his pipe? Well, the investigators at AlterNet have
a theory.

Now, I have to admit that I didn't think too much about Popeye's proclivities
as a wee lass -- my favorite funnybook icon in those days was the wholesome,
clean-living Mary Marvel -- but when I grew up and got all jaded and disillusioned,
I discovered reprints of the original E. C. Segar "Popeye" comic strips
from the 1930s, and immediately fell in love. Segar's characters inhabited
a cold-blooded, cynical world in which one half of the population seemed
perpetually out to swindle the other half, with only Popeye himself standing
as the voice of civil order.

Imagine my dismay, then to learn that Popeye is a pothead.

Sigh. But then, in retrospect, Olive Oyl's no-account brother Castor
always did have the sneaking, fishy eyes and furtive manner of the neighborhood

And I guess with all this revisionism of the beloved characters of our
youth I supposed it's only a matter of time before I pick up a comic book,
for old times' sake, and encounter Mary Marvel with a boob job, a belly-shirt,
and stillettos, locked in a passionate embrace with Wonder Woman while
chained to a bedpost.

Hey sailor -- pass that pipe over here.


At the Brad Blog comes this story about CNN photos of nuclear sites in Iran and North Korea.

It's well worth the read, but especially look at the photos themselves, for they tell their own twisted tale.

(TOTH: Democratic Underground. :-)

A Sore "Winner"

Canseco has written a book. He has much to say, most of it quite startling.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Patriots Unite

... to convince the government not to be yes-men & -women to Bush and his hideous, civil-liberties-suppressing Patriot Act.

Bush said the act "has been vital to our success in tracking terrorists and disrupting their plans."
What terrorists? What plans?

There is some evidence that the "terrorists" of Bush's fevered imaginings are no more than a loosely-woven band of mal-contents that apparently aren't going to do anything to rock Bush's little boat because they're utterly delighted with the way his policies add to their numbers. Recruitment has never been easier -- on their side, anyway.

The Patriot Act hasn't brought a single terrorist to justice and stands as one of the most heinous things any US government has ever done to the people they're nominally representing.

Journalism for Jerks

An interesting piece in the current issue of the Atlantic Monthly by media critic Joshua Green takes us behind the scenes of Qorvis Communications in Washington DC -- home of the first real traning school for television pundits.

Here's where business executives and second-rate pols learn how to stand up to such cable-channel smashmouths as O'Reilly, Hannity, and Matthews. Unfortunately the idea seems to be not one of mastering the fine art of debate, but rather, it's all about learning how to out-butthead the buttheads -- out-yelling, out-thumping, out-low-blowing the other guy and then giving a smarmy little smile as he cuts desperately to the commercial.

Ample evidence of the decline of civilized political discourse, sure. But there are some real insights in this piece on the cheesy manipulativeness of these shows. Consider this advice:

"When answering a question, look directly into the camera, put your message in a sound-bite format, and never pitch it above a seventh grade level."

One could suggest that certain members of the current administration are obvious graduates of the Qorvis program.

Pictures of the day

Two more flames. I just felt like sharing them.

fractal flame

Another spiral flame that looks more like a hand-drawn sketch than a math formula.

fractal flame

And something lacking form but not beauty.

Bringing Democracy to Iraq?

According to Robin Wright of the Washington Post, what Iraq will be getting as a result of the recent "election" there isn't quite the democracy the Bush adminstration would have us believe.

"... it [the Bush admin] envisioned a quick handover to handpicked allies in a secular government that would be the antithesis of Iran's theocracy -- potentially even a foil to Tehran's regional ambitions.

But, in one of the greatest ironies of the U.S. intervention, Iraqis instead went to the polls and elected a government with a strong religious base -- and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door. It is the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy -- $300 billion and counting, U.S. and regional analysts say...

Conversely, the Iraqi secular democrats backed most strongly by the Bush administration lost big. During his State of the Union address last year, Bush invited Adnan Pachachi, a longtime Sunni politician and then-president of the Iraqi Governing Council, to sit with first lady Laura Bush. Pachachi's party fared so poorly in the election that it won no seats in the national assembly."

Boston Globe article

... about how difficult it can be to get Social Security benefits if you're disabled -- a subject of great concern for me, certainly.

Hard to tell, I guess, how much harder the screw will turn for folks like me, post "reform" but it's not likely to be pretty. Probably we'll just have to die off one by one & thus do our part for our Great Nation.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Picture of the day

fractal flame
Created with Apophysis 2.02. A rather lovely fractal flame.

DW Griffith & Ed Wood : a commonality

It's certainly nothing I've ever given serious credence to before reading this.

Sponge-Bob seeks salvation

... and finds it.

View from Baghdad

From the excellent Baghdad Burning blog comes a post about the recent Iraqi vote, unfiltered through liberal media bias.

My personal fave paragraph:
We’re hearing about various strange happenings at different voting areas. They say that several areas in northern Iraq (some Assyrian and other Christian areas) weren’t allowed to vote. They also say that 300 different ballot boxes from all over the country were disqualified (mainly from Mosul) because a large number of the vote ballots had “Saddam” written on them. In other areas there’s talk of Badir’s Brigade people having bought the ballots to vote, and while the people of Falloojeh weren’t allowed to vote, people say that the identities of Falloojans were temporarily ‘borrowed’ for voting purposes. The stories are endless.

Who Does Your Representative Represent?

From the Washington Post comes an article about how Republicans are perfectly willing to screw their constituents in favor of cozying up to big business. And that just now big business has Social Security "reform" in its crosshairs and is willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to have themselves a turkey shoot.

This isn't surprising, of course. But what I'm asking for is that folks who support the Republican agenda (which has nothing to do with democracy) stop and think about how they're willingly allowing themselves to be disenfranchised and lose any voice and, ultimately, say about what happens to this country. Is that what you want? Do you really think that's a good thing somehow?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Rolling Stone, Fair and Balanced

From Democracy Now!

Though I don't always agree with his (strongly held) opinions, I do admire greatly the man's intellect and talent. (And for what it's worth, I certainly do agree with most of what he says in the transcript cited below.)

"The most un-American speech I've ever heard ..."

Gore Vidal on the Coronation of George II.

Quote of the Day

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

-- John Quincy Adams

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Justice Is Blind

Or at least he will be if he keeps this

Google Does Maps!

But they haven't lost their way: their sense of humor is alive & well. (From the Dullard Gazette, a very nice blog.)

New Yorker Article by Jane Mayer

... that folks supporting the Bush regime should read. It's about how the US government outsources torture. & how at least some of the captives are wholly innocent. In other words, folks, with a couple of twists of fate, it could happen to you.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Tell me again why we're doing this???

An article in the New York Times states that "the Bush administration now says the proposal will do nothing to solve Social Security's financial problems."

But it adds that "it may offer workers a better deal." [Emphasis added.]

It may. Also, pigs may fly. With the deficit the way it is, and with the deteriorating global situation likely to make things rocky for a couple generations to come (never let it be suggested that Bush's goals won't be far-reaching in impact), the idea that the fiscal world will be robust enough to create the kind of returns necessary for a "better deal" is so much pie in the sky, or pigs in the sky ...

It just won't work. Liberate Fallujah by leveling it. Fix Social Security by eviscerating it. Why doesn't everyone see the pattern? How much clearer must it be?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Lighter Side

Both Liz & I are currently suffering from colds (I have to thank that "dangerous" made in Canada drug DayQuil for any coherence I possess at all) so we've been sick, in addition to quiet and depressed. (Living under the Bush regime is enough to depress any thinking being. Jessica the cat is depressed too.)

In an attempt to climb back into the blogosphere after a few quiet days, I'll start off with something that caught my eye regarding the recent hoohaa over Spongebob Squarepants (honestly, you can't trust anybody these days, can you?!).


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Another Empty Catchphrase

When I hear the phrase "Ownership Society" I feel the nausea coming back.

When I hear the phrase "Ownership Society" I know the person saying it has
absolutely no clue what it means to live a life like mine -- a life balanced on the thin edge of a single paycheck.

When I hear the phrase "Ownership Society" I refer the speaker to this
from a few months back by former labor secretary Robert
Reich, who says it far better than I could ever hope to say:

The Republican rhetoric assumes most Americans can save and invest. The reality is, most Americans are deep in debt. Before they can join the "Ownership Society" they've got to pay their credit card bills, their rising variable-rate mortgages and their auto loans. After that, there's no money left because jobs are in short supply and wages are stuck in the mud...

It's true that more than half of American households now own stocks in corporations. But for most, it's just a few thousand dollars worth. And the total value of their current portfolio is less than they invested. They got lured into the stock market during the late '90s when stock prices were pumped up with accounting steroids.

The fact is, an Ownership Society based on the stock market would be a casino. The Bush administration would like you to put your Social Security payments into the stock market, but beware. If your timing is bad, you could find yourself retiring in a bear market. It's happened before. That's one of the reasons Social Security's social insurancewas invented.

And when I hear the phrase "Ownership Society," all I can do is shudder, because I know what happens to people like me ina society like that.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Tried, I Really Did...

But I just couldn't sit thru it.

I managed to last thru 34 minutes of it before the bile started to rise, the room started to go blurry, and the nausea flooded up over me. I managed to get thru the simple-minded rhetoric about Social Security, complete with cooked statistics, but when he started in on "preservation of marriage," I lost it. I snapped it off in disgust and came in here to clear my mind -- but when I opened the browser, the first thing that came up was CNN -- with a big "BUSH DEFENDS MARRIAGE" headline.

And I threw up in my wastebasket.

Sometimes I feel like there's just no point anymore. Sometimes I feel like the lunatics and crackpots and religious fanatics have taken over and there's just no hope for the rest of us.

But then I stop and think.

No way,

I'm not giving up that easy.

This is my country too. I may be powerless and excluded and marginalized and without any kind of a voice in the vast public discourse, but dammit, THIS IS MY COUNTRY TOO.

I'll leave it to the pundits and the analysts to dissect what he said and how he said it. Maybe later I'll even have a thought or two.

But right now, all I want to do is drink a cold glass of water, rinse the foul taste out of my mouth, and go to bed.

And just maybe, dream of a better America.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A Vote for a Republican is a Vote for Torture

An article posted this evening on the New York Times website raises some serious issues about the legistlative branch of the government. The article itself is about Alberto Gonzales and the (pending) Senate vote to confirm him to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General. It's been well-documented that Mr. Gonzales wrote some memos pertaining to questions of international law which, among other things, sought to render impotent the Geneva Conventions (which exist in part to protect troops engaged in enemy combat) and to gloss over the interrogation methods the United States has been utilizing during the Bush regime -- namely, to re-define torture so narrowly that the word would no longer mean what most people believe it to mean. There exists a firm paper trail suggesting strongly that the torture going on courtesy of the land of the free and the home of the brave is something that is well-known throughout the Pentagon, including the Secretary of War -- oh, sorry, the Secretary of Defense -- Donald Rumsfield. Though the kids at Abu Ghraib were unlucky enough to get caught and made scapegoats, there is plenty of compelling evidence that shows that the incidents there were hardly isolated and that torture has, in fact, become a standard interrogation technique used on certain prisoners. This is not just illegal and disgusting, it flies in the face of what the US is supposed to be about: whatever our shortcomings, we're supposed to be the good guys. Folks who go around invading countries and torturing people are not good guys. Reality check, folks.

Admittedly, as my own personal bitterness toward the horrible mess my country is in grows, it becomes harder and harder to see the alternate point of view. Though I'm hardly in agreement with the Democrats in all things, I find that I am almost never in agreement any more with the Republicans.

According to the article, the Gonzales vote is split entirely along partisan lines. I cannot honestly see that anyone aware of the facts would want a man who flouts the law, imperils the US military and condones torture, as Attorney General. Is it just me? If it is in fact true that all Republicans are lining up behind Gonzales, then any respect I still have for the Republican party becomes nullified. The legistlative branch of the government is supposed to represent the population of this country. Now, I know this is going to sound insane, but it's not supposed to be about what your party affliation is, it's about right and wrong. It's about doing the right thing. It's about doing the absolute best you can for the people you represent. Does that apply here? Does anyone honestly feel that Gonzales is truly qualified for the job based on a well-known pattern of behavior showing a career largely based upon grabbing ahold of Bush's coat-tails and protecting him against all comers, whether it's jury duty or possible indictment on war crimes? How can anyone really truly think this guy would make an acceptable Attorney General?

To all the Republicans who are currently singing his praises, I can only suggest that one day, you will indeed be held up against a harsh light of history and the choices you make will live on, your names linked by the choices you've made to what is happening right now in this country.

Some highlights from the article:

  • "Every Hispanic-American in the country is watching," said Senator Orrin G. Hatch
  • No Republicans have indicated any wavering in their support. Nor, by midafternoon, after more than five hours of debate, had any Democrat spoken in favor of the nominee.
  • The senator [Arlen Specter] said it was "not irrelevant" that Mr. Gonzales would be the first Hispanic attorney general, since his background would give him a broader perspective on civil rights, immigration and other issues.
  • "The torture policies that Mr. Gonzales pursued on behalf of the administration have done immeasurable damage to American's standing in the world, have undermined our military rules and traditions, and exposed our own soldiers and citizens to greater risks," Senator Boxer said.
  • Ms. Mikulski said Mr. Gonzales had "created a whole new framework" that eventually led to the torture of detainees and had failed perhaps the most important test of all, "telling the president 'no' and speaking the truth to power."
  • But Senator Hatch said Mr. Gonzales was "a good, decent, honorable man," and that some people were trying to make him a scapegoat for the actions of "renegade soldiers" who had mistreated prisoners.
  • The Republican National Committee's deputy communications director, Danny Diaz, made a similar assertion. To block the "eminently qualified" nominee would be "neither good policy nor good politics," he said in a statement.

    "Obstructing his nomination would show that Democrats still don't understand the ramifications of an election where President Bush increased his share of the Hispanic vote by 9 percent over 2000," Mr. Diaz said.

So, if understand this properly, the Republicans are insinuating that the Democrats are against the nomination because they're either: a) racist or b) displaying partisan support for their party.
I suppose c) some Democratic senators simply feel horrified by what Gonzales has come to stand for and want to distance themselves from any association with him at all, simply never occurred to the Republicans who apparently kept straight faces while accusing the Democrats of racism.

Hatch deserves special mention for dusting off the old chestnut that the kids at Abu Ghraib were just a few bad apples, don't you know? and the United States would never, but never, condone any such behavior. Gee, what about those memos? What about the other documentation? Planted by the Democrats to make Gonzales look bad? I don't think so.

I know none of this is going to make any difference. Gonzales will become Attorney General. He is likely to be an even worse Attorney General than Ashcroft, so it will be another four very rocky years for civil liberties already pretty much crushed to powder under the authoritarian boot heel. And the Republicans will congratulate themselves on how they've handled things -- that they showed those pesky Democrats what for, sure enough, and that one of these days, the Democrats were going to wake up & realize that the Republicans hold all the cards and have the deck stacked besides. Heady days for the Republicans.

But I must hold out the hope that at some point in the future, the Republicans will find themselves being judged, and will be found wanting in all respects.


I put a sticker on my front door today. I'm not one who goes in much for such displays, ordinarily, but this one was different. It declares, in large, bold letters --


It came in a fundraising mailing from the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization of which I'm a card-carrying member. Well, not literally card-carrying -- I have the card stuck to my refrigerator with a magnet. But nonetheless, I have credentials in this organization and am a whole-souled supporter of its goals.

The ACLU tends to get bad press on both sides of the political aisle -- and I guess that's a sign they're doing their job. Anyone can take a stand when it isn't controversial, but these days real civil libertarianism is a deeply threatened cause -- and it takes guts, quite honestly, to be willing to take that stand.

I don't think of myself as an especially gutsy person, not really. But I have a line, and this administration has crossed that line. So I've taken my stand with the ACLU, I'm displaying my views for the world to see -- and I guess when the jackbooted thugs come around to round us malcontents up, the sticker on my door will show them just where I am.