Wednesday, December 14, 2005

You've got to be kidding me

In a new low for America's image, the administration dodges the anti-torture amendment. The key passage from this story:

Some military officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.
In a high-level meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, some Army and other Pentagon officials raised concerns that Mr. McCain would be furious at what could appear to be a back-door effort to circumvent his intentions.
"This is a stick in McCain's eye," one official said. "It goes right up to the edge. He's not going to be comfortable with this."
Army officials said the manual required interrogators to comply with the Geneva Conventions, which give broad protections to prisoners of war against coercion, threats or harsh treatment of any kind.
But they declined to give examples of specific interrogation techniques that the addendum authorizes, or the conditions for their use, saying they wanted to prevent captives from learning how to thwart them.

So, in short, because Congress is set to pass a standard that criminalizes torture by American soldiers and CIA operatives against captives, and uses the Army field manual that has been the interrogation standard for decades, the administration changes the manual to sneak torture back into the allowed interrogation techniques. It's not just a Vice President for torture, it's the entire lot of them. How can we trust a word they say about not supporting torture when their actions continue to say otherwise, when the evidence continues to pile up from soldiers returning from Iraq, and when secret prisons have been exposed in Europe?

I hate to use the word liars, but damn, what else do you call this? I mean, if we haven't tortured these people, what in the world is torture to the administration? Next, we'll be back to drawing and quartering at this rate, because some people running the country have some idea that torture works, despite all evidence to the contrary. I guess this is why Iraqis have developed new torture chambers: they think they're part of American-style democracy.

Another sad day in our nation's history.

My Christmas letter to Bill O'Reilly

Subject: tips and facts about the War on Christmas
Date: 12/14/2005 8:46:52 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (part of email address deleted by me)


Just thought I'd check in with a dispatch from the War on Christmas©, since it appears you need help with accurate reporting. Saginaw, whom you blamed last night for banning the red and green, well, it turns out they have Christmas lights running at City Hall. So, it's hard for them to wage war on something they are currently celebrating.

Also, Target is celebrating Christmas. They have Christmas trees, cards, shirts, signs that read "Countdown to Christmas," so you might want to call your buddies at the AFA and let them know they got it wrong. My Target is full of Christmas cheer.

Furthermore, it might behoove you to think about how you are phrasing your reporting about the War on Christmas©. Christmas is a Christian (denote the word "Christ" in both words) holiday, not part of a "Judeo-Christian" heritage because, quite frankly, the Jews do not believe Jesus Christ was the son of God. They believe he was a prophet, but not the Messiah. That's alright, I believe he was, they don't, I'm sure we'll all find out when the Rapture comes. Maybe you'd also be interested to know that Hannukah, the Jewish holiday, begins on Christmas this year. This confluence has happened before, and will happen again. There are over six million Jews in this country. Are we supposed to ignore them? Are we supposed to exclude them? Your declaration of a War on Christmas© is disingenuous, because it makes it seem that the changing of December from Christmas season to the holiday season is because "secular liberals" hate Christianity. It avoids altogether the alternate possibility that perhaps these corporations (including the "ridiculous" Wal-Mart, one of the most conservative companies in the nation) is trying to be inclusive of those six million Jews, and probably the eight million Muslims who live in America as well.

I know you think the Koran is the Mein Kampf of today, and you have a terrible problem believing that Muslims are peaceful because the terrorists today are Muslim extremists. You and I are both Catholic. Do you believe the existence of the Irish Republican Army (also terrorists) means that Catholicism is an evil religion? The IRA is a Catholic organization, you know.

Considering that 88% of this nation celebrates Christmas, how is it repressed? Have we been stopped from donating to the Salvation Army? Have our churches been closed and our baby Jesuses been burned in the manger (I'm asking because you said you're looking out for him)? Has anyone thrown us in jail for saying Merry Christmas? I think not.

I have my Christmas tree with my Christmas ornaments and my Christmas gifts for my children, who attend a Christian school. No one has stopped us from any of that, which surprises me, because you keep telling me we're in a war. There's a real war going on right now, a war in Iraq, a war that deserves the attention because our soldiers are dying in greater numbers because our leaders have been bungling the tactical and strategic aspects, yet you focus your attention on a war that you've helped make up, meaning the only blood you've shed for your country is the paper cut you got from your "Talking Points."

So, declare the War on Christmas© over, and return to shouting down guests and dodging guests who'd be happy to come on your show and debate you.

Merry Christmas, Grinch

Monday, December 12, 2005

Politics over law...again

Wow. As if there hadn't been enough corruption by Republicans, now we get this tidbit, thanks to Josh Marshall:

A week ago it was reported that Justice Department lawyers had concluded at the time that the DeLay redistricting plan of 2003 violated the Voting Right Act, but that senior DOJ officials overruled that finding and okayed DeLay's plan anyway.
Justice Department officials have now instituted a policy to assure this never happens again. They have, as reported in today's Post, "barred staff attorneys from offering recommendations in major Voting Rights Act cases, marking a significant change in the procedures meant to insulate such decisions from politics."
It's the Bush model: politics over expertise and/or law. Whether it's at the Pentagon, the CIA, Justice or the EPA hardly matters. The formula is consistent throughout.

This is, of course, perfectly legal, but ethically challenged. Senior officials means political appointees overruled nonpartisan lawyers....of course. Just like the administration overruled nonpartisan intelligence analysts about Iraq, overruled nonpartisan scientists over clean air, overruled nonpartisan FBI agents on terrorism funding before 9/11, and the list goes on. They would rather do what they want rather than what is best, let alone right. The DeLay redistricting masterminds are all under indictment. They laundered money to screw Democrats and screw minorities, who were so spread out that they have no influence on voting whatsoever, stripping them of proper representation.
And to say that the career posts at these departments are filled with liberals is crap. Remember, in the last 25 years, only eight of them featured a Democratic president, and presidents make appointments who do the hiring at these departments, and I don't think Republicans are hiring boatloads of liberals. These are people who will stop at nothing to get complete power, and they must be stopped. Democrat, independent, or ethical Republican, anyone who will challenge these corrupt fools is welcome in my book. 2006 is a year to stop this thing before it gets too out of control.