Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The American Inquisition

So there was the Decider this morning, chest puffed out in his best "You forgot Poland!" pose, standing before the United Nations, and telling the rest of the world, including those nations with electricity, guns, bathrooms, access to the Internet and a sense of history from wars fought on their soil that America will continue to push the spread of democracy, whether those nations want it or not. "From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom," said the president. And, without a trace of irony, he said the world faces a choice between extremism or freedom. And the Decider knows with whom he's down: "the peaceful majority."

Okay, let's back up. Just last week, the Decider, or as Eugene Robinson re-named him this morning in the Washington Post, the Inquisitor, was up on Capitol Hill attempting to scare a hapless Congress into supporting the torture provisions in his interrogations bill. If we can't engage in "extraordinary interrogation methods," such as simulated drowning, sleep deprivation, extreme positioning, and other techniques that clearly meet any reasonable definition of torture, then we can't catch the terrorists that threaten to do harm to our "homeland."

I'm not sure what War of the Worlds scenario the Decider envisions. Since he talks with God on a regular basis, there is a good chance he's keeping some pu-retty scary information close to the vest. Meanwhile, the Senate's three most respected voices on military affairs, John Warner, a former naval officer and secretary of the navy, John McCain, the nation's most famous Vietnam-era POW, and and Lindsey Graham, a former military judge, have come out against the Bush proposal. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, opposes the administration. These are all men who have experienced war, the taking of prisoners and other such matters. And they're all Republicans.

Who is on board with torture? Naturally, the combat experience-free White House, led by W and Dick Cheney, two draft dodgers; Bill Frist, the most spinless majority leader in recent memory and their apparatchiks in the conservative media, such as Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, and Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review. Although neither has any military experience, both were recently praised as having the "courage" to ask for more troops for Iraq at a time when the tide seemed to be turning the other way.

Courage? That's like me coming out and demanding that we have mandatory flu shots this season, despite knowing full well that such a preventive health care measure is not in the budget.

Commentators like this remind me of guys I knew in college -- the Dungeons and Dragons types, who would sit around comparing notes on what celebrities they would or would not have sex with. "Hell, yeah, I'd do Farah Fawcett, but I wouldn't get near McKenzie Phillips with a ten-foot pole. But Valerie Bertenelli, that's another story. Shit, I'd take all them Charlie's Angels -- one after another." I'm sure the Angels were relieved and McKenzie Phillips devasted over the opinion of these oh-so-eligible young men, none of whom, to the best of my memory, ever came to me and said, "Ivers, man, can I use your room tonight? I just picked up Farah Fawcett at Harpos."

For the conservative media class in Washington that dominates the airwaves, the op-ed pages and the journals of opinion, war is a spectator sport. But for the people who experienced death and carnage up close, what it means to degrade another human being, and the horrors of war, these matters are not always about "securing the base" for the fall election season. I wouldn't vote for Warner, McCain or Graham if I could. I do, however, respect them, and that gives me hope that not all is lost.

Did he have any hair gel?

A man crashed his car at a security checkpoint on Capitol Hill yesterday, got out, and forced the capitol police into a lengthy chase before he was subdued.

Really, it's true. Yep, we are safer than we've ever been. Yep, yep.


R.C. said...

Stop bitching and win an election.

By the way, Long Island is the 9 ring of Hell, and I'm going as The Decider for Halloween.

Anonymous said...

I won't let go, I won't let go...

Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist "signaled" he will filibuster the detainee bill if the "rival group" of GOPers don't rewrite key provisions opposed by Pres. Bush (Washington Post).