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October 14, 2007

Comments

I'm reminded of two things, here:

One is an article which appeared in the Washington Post last September regarding former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s opposition to the Bush administration's efforts to maintain “tough” methods for interrogating terrorism suspects. “[Techniques] previously used include nakedness, prolonged sensory deprivation, the imposition of ‘stress’ positions, and water submersion to the verge of drowning. Bush has said none of those amounts to torture.”

Note carefully the last line.

The second item is found in an on-line exhibit by the University of Australia at Sydney of rare books on Witchcraft, Demonology, and the Inquisition. One exhibit is a book about a series of English witchcraft trials from 1645 featuring the infamous “Witchfinder-General” Matthew Hopkins. The on-line commentary states “Most of the [witches] made confessions; this is not strange because Hopkins and his associates used techniques such as swimming, starvation, prolonged sitting cross-legged upon a stool, solitary confinement, prevention of sleep and forced continuous walking until the feet blistered to obtain a result. None of this was regarded as torture!”

Note carefully the last line.

Torture of witchcraft suspects was in fact illegal in Matthew Hopkins’s England. His answer to a query about the treatment of accused witches would have been the same as George Bush’s answer today about the treatment of detainees: “We don’t torture.“ The next question might be: “Why is your treatment of these witches/detainees not torture?” Answer: “Because torture is illegal.” Q.E.D.

When the United States adopts “techniques” identical to those used by Matthew Hopkins (“swimming” is a Medieval witch hunter’s euphemism for simulated drowning; sitting cross-legged on a stool is another kind of “stress position”) it serves to remind us that George Bush's attitude is virtually the same as that of Hopkins, a person of a late Medieval mindset -- very much like that of the “jihadists” we are fighting.

Does anyone find it at all reassuring that our national leader and his Justice Department advisers are throwbacks?

Phil,
To this day I still cannot believe that Bush, Cheney were able to pull off their "show" events where no possible dissent was tolerated. As an opposition we are as soft as a bunny and will be just as defenseless when even more egregious bullshit is pulled upon us. The corporate machine must be protected at all costs!

Great commentary, Mr. Carpenter! Actually, I think that Frank Rich is a tad tardy in making the point - I have been mentioning "America's KGB/GESTAPO torture tactics" for years now. Indeed, CIA agent Mike Spann threatened captured, bound, and seated "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh with death if he didn't talk, shortly before fate turned the tables and it was Spann who died instead. (In the forgotten video from the heady days when America's new alliance with the Northern Alliance first crushed the Taliban in Afghanistan.)

I'd like to mention another prescient writer who captures America's "through the looking glass" condition since the Bush-Cheney-Scalia-Scaife junta: George Orwell may be quoted often for his 1984 political novel, but it was ANIMAL FARM which described the Sheep BLEATING to drown out the critics of their beloved leaders (and abusers): the Pigs and their savage Dog enforcers.

Rich's hard-hitting insight is all the more remarkable coming as it does from the pages of the New York Times. The Times was the original source of turning the Clinton's $250,000 loss in a routine real-estate flop into the Republican party's salvation, the $77 million Ken Starr "Whitewater" investigation (which tied in with millions more private investigations into the Clinton's lives, such as Richard Mellon Scaife's "Arkansas Project" whose fruition was Paula Jones' lawsuit against Bill Clinton, aided by Republican lawyer "elves" such as Ann Coulter.) The book "The Hunting of the President" by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason is practically a compilation (cited and sourced) of the New York Times' awful, hit-man 'reporting.' The Times also went after Wen Ho Lee, helped convince millions of Americans that Al Gore getting a $20k donation from a Buddhist temple was a threat to America's national security, and of course sniggered at Al Gore all through the summer of 2000, even as it gave Texas Governor George W. Bush a free pass for his AWOL Air National Guard record during the Vietnam war, his long record of business failures, his hidden DUI(s), and his busting of the Texas budget surplus left him by Ann Richards (not to mention the criminal corruption rampant in Texas under the Bush gubernatorial admin.)
Oh - and then there was the little matter of Hallburton Chairman and CEO Dick Cheney - selling oilfield equipment to Iraq, behind the US enforced UN sanctions on that country, at a time when US aircraft were bombing Iraq, and Iraq was trying to shoot down US aircraft!
http://globalpolicy.igc.org/security/sanction/iraq1/oilforfood/2001/0627chen.htm
As if that isn't astounding enough, Cheney was dealing with Iraq - after he had signed the PNAC "statement of principles" (retch),
http://newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm, which just 6 months later (albeit without Cheney's signature that 2nd time) explicitly called Iraq a "hazard... danger" and "threat" to America's interests in the region!
http://newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm
In short, George Bush and Dick Cheney would never have 'won' the White House without William Safire, the New York Times, and other writers there waging an 8 year battle to smear, slime, belittle, and malign the Clinton administration and Al Gore's canidacy.

We wish Mr. Rich and other honest writers good luck in righting the wrongs and great damage inflicted on America by the lies of the "paper of record" - a record of atrocious, abysmal reporting that has all but conditioned Americans to a feeling of hopeless apathy against stolen elections, looted tax dollars, and an insatiable elitist lust to turn America into a third-world nation.

It's worth remembering that Frank Rich was part of the informal cabal that helped damage Al Gore's reputation irreparably, writing absolutely foolish columns about Gore. Just go to Daily Howler and read the kinds of things Rich said about Gore--they are truly cringe-worthy:
http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh060706.shtml

Some of those 'we' have been doing everything we can, including alienating people who really don't want to hear what we have to say since Newt Gingrich created his Contract With America. From simple letters to correct the often erroneous assertions that Gore lost the election to every newspaper that I knew of that printed the lie, to calling and writing to my representatives, to donating to campaigns, to consistently posting comments on the political blogs and websites.

The New York Times has blood on it's hands. It was intimately complicit in the buildup to war. It is as sinful in it's dereliction of journalistic duty as Bush is in his dereliction of his Presidential duty. It was a dereliction that was conscious and a deliberate choice, whether implicit or complicit. My letters went unanswered 100% of the time.

The 'we' that Frank Rich writes about does not include those of us who saw and understood the lies and fought with everything at our unfortunately limited disposal. The drive to war with it's concomittant torture and genocide ran us over like a freight train and drowned out our voices. Instead of using 'we', it would be far better if Frank Rich said 'those of us who' went along with and promoted the lies have to decide what and who we are as Amerians.

For my part, I refuse to bear the burden of accountability for embracing and promulgating the lies that took us to war. I was part of the 'we' that raised our voices to object.

Thanks for the correction, Viking. There has been so much **** pouring down the river since stolen election 2000, that it is difficult to remember just how nasty and lying the "major media" was back then - and Daily Howler certainly deconstructs Frank Rich's coverage of Gore. Unfortunately, Gore gave the press/media plenty of ammunition to dis' (sneer at) him: #1. he choose Lieberman to be his running mate (note to Al & Hillary or whoever the 2008 nominee is: Choose a WHITE SOUTHERN MALE Dem. to be your running mate... you know, like that winning ticket in 1992?) And Gore ran an anemic campaign, never once taking viceo cameras (his press contingent) down to Texas to highlight Bush's dismal enviro record; having Ralph Nader removed from the audience at the presidential debate (that wasn't Bush's doing!); doing nothing to highlight Bush's dismal record before becoming Texas governor and after (including Bush's AWOL record during Vietnam war, and corruption in state contracts in Texas after becoming governor there, see Harriet Mier's role in awarding Texas lottery contract and fueral-gate); above all, giving Dick Cheney a FREE PASS for the above mentioned Halliburton sales to Saddam's regime all through the late 1990s. (Much less the "ancient history" of Cheney's role in supplying WMD precursor technologies to Iraq through the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, see Iraq-gate/BCCI and Spider's Web: How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq" while Cheney was Secretary of Defense.)
http://www.amazon.com/Spiders-Web-Secret-History-Illegally/dp/0553096508
Oh - and above all, Gore _REFUSED to make an issue of Bush's signature slashing of social services: slashing pre-school, after school, and health care (insurance) programs for Texas' poorest school children, in favor of Tax Cuts for Texas' wealthiest corporations and individuals. Hell, the Rand Corp. analyst even stuck his neck out to say that Governor Bush's so-called "education miracle" in Texas was nothing but smoke-and-mirrors; that read correctly, the survey results showed a DECLINE in school standards under Gov. Bush - and STILL the Gore campaign refusedto highlight Bush's dismal record!
The point to all this is that Democrat "leaders" refused to publicize and lead on these scandals and "tax the poor to give to the rich" policies 8 years ago... and, almost 8 years later, the Democrats STILL have no answer to Republican criminality and reverse Robin Hood "take America back to the 1920s/turn it into a 3rd world banana republic" treasury looting agenda.
Actually, Gore was just carrying on the Clinton policy of sweeping on-going investigations into Repub Criminality under the rug: Robert Parry at ConsortiumNews has helpfully posted the story of how Clinton enabled his own tormenters by quashing on-going investigations into Bush Sr/Reagan era malfeasance in early 1991/1992:
http://consortiumnews.com/2007/100307.html
Unfortunately, Al Gore is as responsible as anyone out there for ENABLING_ the decade-long Right-Wing claim to "moral values" superiority. His gavelling down the Black Congressional Caucus making the request that ONE Dem. Senator sign on to their request for a Congressional Investigation into massive voter Disenfranchisement, Florida, 2000 (which he, as Vice President and Party Leader, could certainly have done or had another senator do)
was merely the crowning insult to those victimized by decades of Right-Wing abuses. VP Gore was such a stuffed shirt - he put process - GIVING Bush and Cheney a blemish-free inaugueration - over and above the rights of minority voters robbed of their votes in the 2000 election. Which is why he was such an easy target for press/media in that long campaign season. (Not that it excuses them...)

I think your (and Rich's) blaming of the "we" is close to the point. It is difficult to explain why the press, Congress, the people went along with the slide from integrity.

I think part of it is a sense of no control. Our (another form of we) representative democracy has long since not represented the "we." Instead we have now been fed a different form of democracy, voting with our dollars. Which again isn't power, unless an individual has a huge pot of money. And those with the huge pot are the real influence in political democracy.

So the vast majority of us (there's that collective we again) are simply powerless, we don't have real hard core influence on either the politics or the economy. So we tend to just give up. We may know things are wrong, but what can we do?

For all the superlatives expressed for political blogging (I do it too) the results are still just on the edges in a medium that is now quite commercial. Just some noise in a wave of buying and selling. I see no revolution coming or even much enlightenment.

I sometimes think of America as an unending running blender, everything goes in and spins continuously without pause enough to understand the end result. So we can't hardly decide whether to drink the mix, for one it hasn't finished mixing and second we think we probably won't like the drink when it does.

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