Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sully on Fie ah!

I have a fairly regular rotation for daily reading. One major blog I make a point of visiting is The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan is a fiscal conservative so our economic outlooks tend to be irreconcilable with each other. Sullivan also USED to be a noted hawk, but his outlook on foreign policy has shifted dramatically in the last several years. Having supported the initial invasion of Iraq, Sullivan now consistently faults President Bush for the disaster that Iraq has become. Sullivan also is appalled at the legalization of torture for the first time in American history. And it is these two issues that have compelled me to write up a kudos to Sullivan, based upon posts to the Dish over the holiday weekend.

Sullivan's outrage over the torture issue is spot on. George Washington set the tone for American attitudes on the practice even from before founding of this nation. The military and social emergency faced by Washington was the greatest "threat" to America in our history, by definition. Our very existence hung in the balance with the colonies roughly split equally three ways. 1/3 patriot, 1/3 loyalist and 1/3 not caring which side prevailed. What greater emergency to America could there possibly be than the very founding of this nation, which was done by warring with the greatest military on the planet at that time. Yet faced with the crucial question central to the very existence of this nation in a war against the dominant force of his time, Washington had the wisdom to decree that British prisoners were not mistreated.

The official policy from that time till Bush was never to torture people under our control. I am not foolish enough to think such mistreatment never occurred. The oppression of the native Americans and the history of slavery for nigh on 100 years after Washington's example with British prisoners hardly reflect well on American idealism through our history. But we never did officially practice torture, and after WWII America made great efforts to stand as a bulwark for human rights. Somehow Bush was able to refute over 200 years of history and for the first time allow for this hideous practice.

Torturing prisoners is nearly uniformly the path tread by the monsters of humanity. The tales of horror emanating from history and the sociopaths of our times are the yardstick measuring the depravity of the leaders who allow it. What do we recall of Genghis Khan today? The depraved barbarity and lurid tales of outlandish torture. Pol Pot? Killing fields and camps where the victims were tortured to death with nearly none living left to tell the horrible tale. The worst of the worst are not the suicide bombers and backwards religious extremists. The worst of the worst is the leaders of the very nations we rely upon in the so called war on terror. Any man who could order another person slowly lowered feet first into a vat of boiling water under the authority of the state is the worst of the worst. That man leads the nation of Uzbekistan, who is one of our allies in the war on terror. There are many such examples of our friendship with these brutal thugs... these worst of the worst.

So now that I have reiterated my deep feelings on this issue, let us see what Sullivan has to say... In a post entitled "Verschärfte Vernehmung" Sullivan draws the parallel between the practices of the Gestapo in the early 40's to what the President is allowing to happen now. Sullivan points out how the defense given in the war crimes trials matched modern day defenses nearly verbatim. The Germans argued they were not interrogating uniformed combatants and so the rules of war did not apply. They argued that they used various techniques that did not result in permanent disfigurement and the injuries were slight. Indeed, many of the techniques which Bush allowed were specifically declared to harsh by the Gestapo. Yet the defense of that day, which remarkably reflects the same arguments in play by the John Yoo's of today, did not spare the accused from the firing squad. Sullivan masterfully ties this history to our modern circumstance, and anyone who honestly thinks that torturing detainees is a good idea should read that post. It must give one pause. If it does not, I fear the reader has hardened their heart beyond all reasoning.

Now normally I'll read Sullivans blog and agree with something or the other, but that won't cause me to rush over here to pound out a pat on the back for him. That changed today when I read the above post on Gestapo history... and then saw a post that Sullivan put out that echoes what I have said for years in regards to George Bush's efficacy in fighting the so called war on terror. In a post entitled "Al Qaeda's Enabler" Sullivan makes the case that "Bush is the best thing to happen to al Qaeda since its founding"... Here is a link to a page that has several previous posts, going back to the first month of Club Lefty's existence in which I call the President the top recruitment officer for Al Qaeda in Washington D.C.

This argument is truly devastating when considering the Bush record. Everytime Bush drawls on about his most solemn duty being to protect the American people, (besides making me exclaim that he's just wrong about that in particular) I think that even if he were right that he's doing a very poor job at it. I am hard pressed to see how turning the world against us, inflaming Arab hostility, placing our army in their midst to provide target practice and training, and generally being bull headed in the face of disaster is somehow protecting us. Bush has proven catastrophically wrong headed in his approach on issue after issue. If Al Qaeda had been able to select a President in 2000, they could not have dreamed of the results given them by Bush.

It truly is a thrill to see someone else pick up that cudgel and bash the administration about the ears with it. Especially someone who is not noted for being a lefty, Democratic blogger. So nice posts Sully... I will keep coming back for more.

in line with bush being al qaeda's best ally, i have been of that opinion for a long time, and torture is just one more piece of the ghastly puzzle picture we have been slowly putting together for the past 6 1/2 years...

the bush administration has no desire to stamp out terrorism... conflict, violence, terrorism, war and death have all been very, very good assets in support of the two items that have topped the administration's agenda since day one - power and money... the longer the u.s. remains in iraq (which could safely be said was the plan from the beginning), the more desperate the insurgency will become, the more people will join up to be trained and to fight, and the more those now experienced trainees will be exported to stir up trouble elsewhere... the longer the u.s. remains in iraq, the more permanent the permanent bases and the more entrenched the u.s. embassy complex and its extended tentacles will become... the longer the u.s. remains in iraq, the more money will continue flow to bush's corporate cronies and the military industrial complex...

all that's officially happening now on the iraq issue is posturing and gaming, making it look like there's some sort of debate, when, in fact, there isn't... and it's working wonderfully well... polls are taken, opinions voiced, blogs and op-eds written, legislation crafted, votes counted, vetos cast, candidates positions staked out, accusations hurled, loyalties pledged, and huge amounts of media time devoted to what is basically an empty exercise... but, what's important is that we're made to FEEL as though we have a voice, that congress can fill its role as a separate but equal branch of government, that we as citizens can actually override the power and money interests who are the people that are really calling the shots...

so, while we're distracted and barking at the moon (which comes to full this week, btw), the relentless march to the one-party, authoritarian state continues unabated, gonzales remains in charge of politicizing the justice department, executive orders are issued authorizing the president to take control of all three branches of government in an emergency, signing statements are written, "enhanced interrogation" techniques are practiced, recess appointments are made, habeas remains among the missing, military tribunals are conducted, draconian legislation like the intellectual property protection act of 2007 is proposed that calls for making the download and use of pirated software a crime punishable by life imprisonment, and the constitution is repeatedly gutted...

could we be in any deeper shit...? i think not...
Yeah! I just realized from Profs comment that the Gonzales stuff has really dropped out of sight since just after Goodlings testimony.

What a sordid state of affairs. In normal times something like the Justice Dept. affair would never have gone away until Gonzo was gone. Now we have so many sordid stories all at once that we can't keep track of them all.
My husband thinks that the Bush administration throws up all this crap on purpose. You get good and mad about one thing and then here comes another, and another, and another and, damnit all, still yet another one. It never ends! So much crap you think the smell is normal, you are so used to breathing the foul air. He has a point don't you think?
Absolutely... Scandal overload is a real problem. I think it is instructive to consider the promise of Bush in the 2000 campaign to "restore" integrity to the White House... He would raise his right hand as if taking a solemn vow and the campaign crowds just ate it up. How hollow that seems now.
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