Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Men of their "Times"

Today the scribe gives amplification to two guys who you would think don’t need it - Bob Hebert and Paul Krugman, both of the "New York Times."

These two fine gentlemen have been hammering away at the Bush administration’s immorality from the moment it stormed into office with a superior legal team and close friends on the Supreme Court.

They can be incessant and therefore, at times, dull the force of their worthy efforts. Which is to say people expect them to be against Bush. And of course they write for a liberal newspaper in a liberal state.

But they write good things and in the scribe’s experience it’s not every day that somebody says, "Boy did Paul Krugman nail it today," or "Bob Hebert certainly ripped the (p)resident a new one this morning."

So here’s a little on Hebert’s column from March 28 entitled, "Is No One Accountable?" and on Krugman’s piece the next day, "What’s Going On?"

Hebert has been and remains upset at this whole business of the United States sending people overseas to be tortured by foreign and friendly governments or just torturing and killing them in our own jails.

We cover this here at highwayscribery not because it is merely critical of the administration, but because it focuses on the little people with whom we concern ourselves; those who get caught up in great historical events launched by powerful idiots like George W. Bush.

Hebert focuses on Arkan Mohammed Ali, a 26-year old Iraqi who was detained by the U.S. military for a over year. Again the litany: beaten into unconsciousness, stabbed, shocked with an electrical device, urinated on and kept locked - hooded and naked - in a wooden coffin-like box.

And that’s for a guy who wasn’t charged with anything.

Unluckily for Donald Rumsfeld (and maybe this is the point), Ali did not join the numbers of men killed in custody that the CIA and military are starting to own up to (And if they say 26 died please, by all means, permit yourself to inflate that number).

Now Ali’s suing Rumsfeld, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of course, and although it’s a long shot, sometimes these guys actually run afoul of the wrong judge or jury.

One can hope.

Here’s Hebert: "These atrocities have been carried out in an atmosphere in which administration officials have routinely behaved as though they were above the law, and thus accountable to no one."

Come on, Bob, where do you find the inextinguishable fountain of indignation?
They are above the law, they are not accountable to anyone.

He continues: "People have been rounded up, stripped, shackled, beaten, incarcerated and in some cases killed, without being offered even the semblance of due process. No charges. No lawyers. No appeals."

All of which is apparently okay with the American people who grow dumber and more numb by the day.

Once someone had the audacity to blow up buildings of ours, the gloves came off, international protocols were scuttled, and we began turning military prisons into test locations for "Fear Factor."

After 9/11 no country was too poor to bomb as a "threat" and no human and international pact of decency was worth abiding by. This had been done to us!

Well it’s been done on a greater scale to most of the western democracies, which is why they tend to go their own way and leave us alone on these issues; because war and death suck and they know it first hand. We get one day of infamy and crap our pants, ditching alliances and civil liberties as if they were only good when some kind of make-believe game were afoot.

Stop and think for a moment. Put yourself in a room, sitting in a chair, with hands bound behind your back, circulation cut at the wrists. Make yourself naked. Naked. Go ahead! Put a pool cue over in the corner. Place an electronic-looking device with probes trailing out from it down to the floor in front of you. Sprinkle a power drill into the scene. Put three roughnecks who never went to school and were sexually abused by their fathers in front of you dressed in black, masked maybe.

Tell them you have rights. That you want to make a phone call. That you don’t know anything and it’s all a case of mistaken identity. Watch them laugh and move in, mouths twisted in perverse pleasure. Let your imagination run wild, as wild as possible, because you can’t imagine.

Hebert informs that 70 percent of the people detained in Iraq had been done so by mistake. And that’s a lot of misery for Karen Hughes to fix.

But on to Paul Krugman who would like us to know what’s happening in the country and makes use of the following quote from Tom Delay, beleaguered (r)epublican crook and House majority leader from Sugarland (where else?) Texas.

Delay’s quote: "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America."

Hence the title of Krugman’s article: "What’s Going On?"

Hence Krugman’s answer: "One thing that’s going on is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose. Randall Terry, a spokesman for Schiavo’s parents, hasn’t killed anyone, but one of his former close associates in the anti-abortion movement is serving time for murdering a doctor. George Greer, the judge in the Schiavo case, needs armed bodyguards."

That’s because they’re so into "life" you see.

And, Krugman adds, politicians are increasingly willing to violate the spirit of the law in order to cater to the religious right.

He writes: "There has been little national exposure for a 'Miami Herald' report that Jeb Bush sent state law enforcement agents to seize Terri Schiavo from the hospice - a plan called off when local police said they would enforce a judge’s order that she remain there."

Krugman says that what the scribe refers to as "the sickness" is spreading, with doctors in many states now empowered to "refuse" treatment or prescription where it runs contrary to their personal (read: Christian) beliefs...

...that some 31 percent of those surveyed by the National Science Teachers Association feel pressured to present creationism in the classroom.

Krugman’s answer is simple in delivery if not so in its execution. He’s asking that moderate people stand up to these lunatics and he’s reminding them the country’s founding principals are on their side.

Finally, and sadly, it was reported today that Terry Schiavo’s parents would sell the mailing list of contributors that helped finance their legal battles to... conservative activists.

Real sentimental.

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