10 11 2007

The Democrats gave the Bush administration another pass on war crimes this week, as Senate Judiciary committee members Diane Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, plus 5 other fascist sympathizers, broke with the rest of the Democrats to approve Michael “Waterboard” Mukasey as our country’s new attorney general, in spite of Mukasey’s equivocal stance on whether waterboarding, which was prosecuted as a crime by this country when the Japanese did it to us, is a crime when Americans do it to Muslims. Mukasey generously allowed that if Congress passed a new law specifically outlawing waterboarding, he would enforce that law. This was an easy offer to make, considering that Mr. Cheney, excuse me, I mean Mr. Bush, would certainly veto such a bill if Congress could pass it, and that there is enough Congressional complicity in war crimes that a veto almost certainly wouldn’t be overridden. They can’t stop a war criminal from becoming attorney general. They can’t stop funding the war. They can’t impeach Dick Cheney. They can’t even pass childrens’ health insurance, but they can by God slap down Moveon and Dennis Kucinich!

Meanwhile, a well-known terrorist sympathizer organization—ABC news—revealed that, in 2004, in an effort to determine whether it was illegal torture or not, then-Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin had himself waterboarded, and reported that, to quote Keith Olberman,

”even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die – still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn’t drowning.

”Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.’

And here’s a couple more Kafkaesque turns of the screw: Levin didn’t even say the US shouldn’t do it. He just said it should be timed very carefully and done under a physician’s supervision. That was too soft for the Bush junta; he was fired when Alberto Gonzalez took control of the DOJ, but not before Gonzalez appended a note to Levin’s report, saying ”Just because we embraced illegal techniques before doesn’t mean we were wrong.” War is peace, freedom is slavery, you get it….

Here’s my suggestion: anybody that has been willing to say in public that they think waterboarding isn’t torture, or might not be torture, or they just don’t know, should be waterboarded, and then asked their opinion…Mr. Mukasey? Mr. Bush? Mr. Cheney?

In other news of the ongoing crackdown, Code Pink activist Ann Wright, a 29-year US Army veteran, was banned from Canada for a year for her anti-war arrest record in this country. She had been turned away from Canada earlier in the month, and was trying again on Oct. 25, having been invited by 6 Canadian M.P.s (that’s Members of Parliament, not Military Police!) to appear for a panel discussion on US-Canadian border security measures. She got quite an education in those security measures—her cell phone was confiscated for four hours while she was interrogated, and at the end of the interrogation she was told she was barred from entering Canada for a year due to

”failure to provide appropriate documents that would overcome the exclusion order I had been given in early October because of conviction of misdemeanors (all payable by fines) in the United States. The officer said that to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) for entry for a specific event on a specific date, I must provide to a Canadian Embassy or consulate the arresting officer’s report, court transcripts and court documents for each of the convictions and an official document describing the termination of sentences, a police certificate issued within the last three months by the FBI, police certificates from places I have lived in the past ten years (that includes Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia), a letter acknowledging my convictions from three respected members of the community (the respected members that I will ask to write a letter all been convicted of similar ‘offenses’) and a completed 18 page “criminal rehabilitation” packet.


”Additionally, besides obtaining the Temporary Resident Permit, since I was being banned for a year from Canada, I would have to obtain a ‘Canadian Government Minister’s consent.’ The officer said that the TRP and the Minister’s consent normally took from 8-10 months to obtain. In the distant future, to be able to enter Canada without a TRP, I would have to have to be ‘criminally rehabilitated’ and be free for five years of conviction of any offense, including for peaceful protest.”

So…you were thinking that if things get too bad down here, you can just slip over the border?

OK, a little good news…I reported last summer on the election of Nicholas Sarkozy to the Presidency of France, and opined that, although he was called ”Sarko l’Americain” (Sarko the American, for you non-Francophones) and compared to George Bush, he was actually much smarter and hipper than Bush. Recent news from France confirms my assessment…sort of. Sarkozy has pulled out almost all the stops the environmentalists have been asking for. Appearing on the same stage with Al Gore at an environmental forum in Paris, Sarko said,

We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes… to tax pollution more, including fossil fuels, and to tax labour less.”

He went on to call for a freeze on the building of new highways and airports, moving freight traffic from road to rail, cutting pesticide use by half within 10 years, and the banning of GMO crops in France, which is Europe’s largest agricultural producer. He further pledged to expand local light rail and long distance high speed rail travel, and to create incentives for the purchase of more efficient automobiles and penalties for gas guzzlers. He also promised to improve the energy efficiency of all new and existing buildings, and proposed import taxes on goods from countries that have not signed on to the Kyoto protocol—like the US and China. Some conservative bloggers claim Al Gore wet his pants during Sarko’s speech.

And, while Sarkozy pledged to increase the role of renewable energy in France, the elephant in the room that he didn’t talk about was nuclear power. France generates 80% of its electricity from nuclear power, and they don’t know what to do with the waste either. It’s slowly contaiminating the whole country. They’re going to need that wonderful health care system Michael Moore says they have. It’s piling up at their nuke plants and leaking, except for the fraction they reprocess, which is leaking into the English Channel, some parts they have buried, which are polluting the groundwater, a chunk of it that they’re entombing in concrete, above ground, which will be full in sixty years…which seems like a long time, except that it will remain lethally radioactive for about another 24,000 years. Twenty-four thousand years ago, the last ice age was just beginning, and our cave-dwelling ancestors had to retreat out of most of Europe, including France. Oh, yeah, and the French send some of their nuclear waste to Russia, and it’s a Franco-Russian state secret just what they do with it there. Doesn’t that make you feel better? Have a nice holiday!

music: James McMurtry, ”Holiday” 6:30




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