DETROIT -- Give torture a chance. And grant me a law to justify anything I have done or will do. By the way, I, the commander in chief, the supreme decider, the great protector, need the Congress to give me their blessings for any damn thing I want to do.
That is essentially what President George W. Bush is saying. He endured -- for him -- a humiliating visit to Capitol Hill, where he actually had to deal with our national legislature. Congress, a co-equal branch of government as framed in the Constitution, is merely a subordinate nuisance in Bush's perverted sense of our national traditions and in his own debilitating megalomania.
Bush simply cannot handle opposition. The Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee who dared to take a different view of what is decent, just, practical and legal on the issue of the interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects have enraged Bush. He wanted to be able to brand Democrats who oppose him as being "soft on terrorism." But now Bush must tar with the same brush Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former military judge and the chairman of the committee, and John Warner of Virginia, a former secretary of the Navy.
At his graceless, bullying worst, Bush couldn't broaden much support except from the likes of the Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner. The Ohio congressman has easily slipped into his slutty role as the No. 1 "ho on the Hill," happy to turn any political trick the White House desires. Boehner has quickly become Tom DeLay without the grace and charm.
Speaking of Democrats opposed to Bush's demand to craft legislation to dilute the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 requirements, which ban "outrages upon personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment" of prisoners, Boehner smeared them, saying, "You wonder whether they're more interested in the rights of terrorists than in protecting the American people." While Bush sanctimoniously proclaims he never questions the patriotism of those who differ with his views, he's content to let his bought boy, Boehner, hurl the slime.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., another dim-witted smear artist, claimed Democrats do not "seem to understand the true threat we face from Islamic extremists." This sad excuse for a senator then accused the Democrats of sponsoring terrorism by signaling "to the terrorists that America is tired, discouraged, and ready to quit, encouraging the terrorist attacks around the world."
He droned on, slamming those who question the most demonstrably incompetent military operation in U.S. history: "If the Democrats spent half as much time fighting terrorists as they do this administration, America would win this war a lot faster."
Boehner's and DeMint's smears got wide play in the media, and cheers went up from the radical right's media hallelujah chorus, but when Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lashed back, her apt remarks received little attention in the mainstream corporate media.
Media Matters for America, an excellent Web site that keeps track of these matters, detailed the wide propagation gap. Landrieu kicked the Republicans in the shins with the boot of truth, the kind of attack they fear most: "America is not tired of fighting terrorism; America is tired of the wrongheaded and boneheaded leadership of the Republican Party that has sent $6.5 billion a month to Iraq while the front line was Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. ... Americans are tired of the boneheaded Republican leadership that alienates our allies when we need them most."
Landrieu added, "I am certainly not going to sit here as a Democrat and let the Republican leadership come to the floor and talk about 'Democrats are not making us safe.' They're the ones in charge, and Osama bin Laden is still loose."
The creamed DeMint and battered Boehner could not respond to Lady Landrieu's fact-laced assault, but the media generally ignored her masterful response.
Bush looked like a man possessed at a ranting, spit-spewing news conference last Friday. Bush rose into rapture, trying to sell his mad plan for fascist rule in America, urging us to shed those old-fashioned protections in the Bill of Rights, so we can "protect the nation," and he can use the fight to attempt to save his political hide in the process. Bush can only function with single-party rule. One house in Congress with a Democratic majority and subpoena powers will doom the Busheviks.
Bush went publicly nuts. Usually, only Laura, Mama Babs, Condi Rice and Karen Hughes -- the nanny corps -- get to see bubble-boy burst. His voice was shrill as he pimped for dumping the rules the civilized world has adopted for the treatment of prisoners of war.
He warned that dissenters should not even dare to "think" about the issue in any way that departs from the way he has defined the terms of discussion. Oh, what a joy it would have been to be a fly on the wall in the Oval Office when Bush heard what Colin Powell, his former secretary of state and his father's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dared to say about Bush's push for torture laws. Powell was succinct in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee: "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism." Ouch!
Bush will use the torture bill as the big wedge issue for the midterm elections. This is a Karl Rove move from the get-go, and Bush and jerks in Congress like Boehner and DeMint will howl that without water-boarding and sleep deprivation for prisoners in Guantanamo, the American republic will crumble. The media will echo the senseless debate as if it is -- as Bush wants us to believe -- the most important issue of our times.
For those in serious pursuit of the truth, only three American newscasts are musts: the Comedy Channel's "Daily Show with Jon Stewart," its sparkling progeny, "The Colbert Report," and MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."
Only those newscasts will mock Bush's torture ploy, while the major networks and the cable news reports will pretend what Bush says is important and the safety of the nation, not the November elections, is what motivates him.
The big three broadcast network newscasts are dull, predictable conduits for news the government and the corporate owners of the networks wish to peddle to the masses.
Tune in and watch the great American amalgam of television news: CBSNBCABC. It's all the same: The carefully scripted slop served from a menu of correctness aimed at pleasing the many and not offending the few -- especially those in power.
The powerful speak, and their words -- usually unfiltered -- are given wide propagation with little perspective, rare analysis and never a challenge to their "truthiness," Stephen Colbert's marvelous contribution to the English language and political understanding.
The newscasts are a formularized presentation of "facts" and political assertions that are usually treated with little or no examination. When Bush says we should not even "think" in a manner that displeases him, the networks dutifully report it and avoid declaring it as the absurdity it is.
Stewart, Colbert and Olbermann don't honor those restraints. They're far more interested in the truth than repeating political points. This trio of courage is where people should turn to find out what's really happening and what Bush is doing, not just saying.
When Vice President Dick Cheney recently took a rare trip from his bat cave for an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," he again showed his addiction to "truthiness," which is defined as "the quality by which one purports to know something emotionally or instinctively without regard to evidence or intellectual examination."
Host Tim Russert did a fine job pointing out Cheney's truthiness and remarkable string of lies about terrorism and the war in Iraq. Russert was too delicate and too much of an insider to use the terms my favorite newscasters would.
Cheney is still clinging to one of his biggest whoppers -- that before the attacks, 9/11 terrorist leader Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague.
The Czechs have long said the meeting never took place, and there is not a scintilla of evidence to support the story. The FBI believes Atta was in Florida at the time of the phantom meeting. The 9/11 Commission debunked the claim Cheney still spouts.
Pressed by Russert, Cheney refused to recant his oft-repeated lie about the Atta sighting in Prague, finally saying, "Tim, we just don't know."
In the 1980s, there were numerous sightings and sworn statements from people that they had seen Elvis Presley in Kalamazoo, Mich. Since the King's body has not been disinterred and DNA tests performed, we can all cling to Cheneyesque truthiness.
Was that really Elvis all those folks saw in Kalamazoo? We just don't know.
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||September 19 2006|