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The 9 Pro-Torture
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Since the New Deal, Republicans have been on the wrong side of every issue of concern to ordinary Americans; Social Security, the war in Vietnam, equal rights, civil liberties, church- state separation, consumer issues, public education, reproductive freedom, national health care, labor issues, gun policy, campaign-finance reform, the environment
and tax fairness. No political party could remain so consistently wrong by accident.
The only rational conclusion is that, despite their cynical "family values" propaganda, the Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy to betray the interests of the American people
in favor of plutocratic and corporate interests, and absolutist religious groups. 


Why? Because they're evil GOP bastards!
on John McCain's rider to the defense appropriations bill that would prohibit the torture and humiliation of prisoners in US custody. The nine GOP senators who voted against the bill are listed here so they will never again be mistaken for decent, honorable human beings:

     •  Wayne Allard  (Colorado)
     •  Kit Bond ( Missouri)
     •  Tom Coburn (Oklahoma)
     •  Thad Cochran ( Mississippi)
     •  John Cornyn (Texas)
     •  James Inhofe (Oklahoma)
     •  Pat Roberts ( Kansas)
     •  Jeff Sessions (Alabama)
     •  Ted Stevens (Alaska
)

President Bush has threatened to exercize his first veto unless the torture ban is removed. 
MORE
Harriet says Dub can pardon himself If the full truth of our Iraq war lies ever gets out, but what the hell does she know?  I worry more about lynch mobs than impeachment.
A case of the mean reds
The indictment of one of George W. Bush's advisers last week is part of the pervasive rot in the modern Republican party.

by David Olive
Toronto Star

L
ast Friday, one of the prime architects of George W. Bush's Iraq invasion was indicted on charges of lying to a grand jury about his role in disclosing the identity of a clas-
sified CIA agent — a compromise of national security in the view of U.S. special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, 55, who resigned Friday, faces 30 years in jail if convicted on all five counts of the indictment.

Libby, pursued by the same Chicago prosecutor who has already obtained a guilty plea from Conrad Black lieutenant David Radler in his continuing investi-
gation of Hollinger International Inc., wore three hats in the White House: chief of staff and national security adviser to Vice-President Dick Cheney, and assistant to Bush. As such, and as a long-time confidante of one of the most powerful vice-presidents in modern history, Libby has intimate know-
ledge of the campaign to sell the Iraq war to the American people and the world, and of any subse-
quent efforts to discredit war opponents and cover up those efforts.

As with the Hollinger case, Fitz-
gerald's investigation of activities by senior White House officials in the CIA-leak case continues, sugges-
ting an even deeper probe into the heart of the Bush administration's conduct in the most important foreign-policy issue of the past generation.

If only the rot in the Bush admin-
istration and the GOP leadership in Congress — and in state houses and governor's mansions across the country — ended there. It doesn't. The rot is pervasive. That won't surprise GOP critics, of course; the only surprise for them is that the national GOP leadership is being called to account for its hubris.

On Sept. 28, Tom (The Hammer) DeLay, who once mocked then-
president Bill Clinton's obsession with terrorist threats to the United States and described the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "the Gestapo of government," became the first majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives to be indicted in more than a century.

The former Texas pest extermina-
tor, a Republican whose zealous gerrymandering has disenfran-
chised thousands of Democratic voters in the Lone Star State, helping secure control of the U.S. Congress for his party, promptly declared that he is the victim of a "partisan fanatic." By which he means a local Democrat district attorney — in truth, an equal-
opportunity pursuer of misbehaving Dems and Republicans — now prosecuting the Hammer for conspiring with others in the use
of corporate donations for state election purposes, which is illegal in Texas and 17 other states.

The Hammer had already been rebuked three times by the GOP-controlled House ethics committee on unrelated matters, and also faces an official inquiry into overseas trips he took that were initially funded in part by lobbyists.

Forced to relinquish one of the highest offices in American public life, DeLay is no longer available to Bush as the prime enabler of the president's legislative agenda.

By an unfortunate coincidence, DeLay's counterpart in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, Bill Frist, has also been under an ethical cloud and is of limited usefulness to Bush. And this at a time when Bush's approval ratings touched a new low of 42 per cent last week and his administration's renown
in scaling near-unprecedented heights of incompetence is manifestly evident in Baghdad, New Orleans and the currency trading pits of London and New York, where the greenback now swaps at a deep discount to the euro.

It might seem that no less a student of unwisdom in government than Barbara Tuchman is required to explain the GOP's march of folly. But this tale of human weakness and creeping things worthy of the Old
Testament is actually quite easy to follow. So is the Demo-
crats' inability to do much, if any-
thing, to capitalize on it.

In the beginning — or, more precisely, the 19th-century — God created the Democrats, lately known as Blue supporters, and the Republicans (Reds), anticipating a long and productive contest of ideas between the two.

But the Blues, the older of the two clans — indeed, the oldest political party in the world — have been sliding toward extinction in recent decades, giving rise to a natural governing party of Reds who currently control all three branches of the federal government and the majority of governor's mansions.

Thus America has been trans-
formed into a one-party state not unlike Japan, Mexico, Canada and other ostensible democracies cursed with the absence of an effective opposition to the entrenched political orthodoxy.

The lineage of the modern Reds, whose base motives are not to be confused with the Republican godhead Abraham Lincoln, begins with Richard Nixon ("When the president does it, that means it's not illegal"). Thanks to Nixon's so-called "Southern Strategy," the redneck vote that had sustained Democrats since Reconstruction was finally secured for the Reds, not only where the magnolia and palmetto grow but also in the backwoods of Ohio and suburban Tacoma.

Nixon begat U.S. Supreme Court nominee William Rehnquist, who won confirmation despite a record of intimidating African-American voters in the 1950s, won confir-
mation again as Ronald Reagan's nominee as chief justice despite revelations he had signed deeds to more than one home forbidding him to resell his properties to non-
Gentiles, and whose majority opinion in Bush v. Gore rivalled only Dred Scott among cases of absurd high-court jurisprudence.

The libertarian theology, U.S. extraterritoriality in Santiago, and casual regard for the sanctity of life in Cambodia and Kent State that took root in that era begat President Reagan ("A tree is a tree. How many more do you need to look at?"), the Great Liberator of Grenada and Nicaragua, who begat George H.W. Bush ("I will never apologize for the United States of America — I don't care what the facts are"), who launched a War on Drugs not in the back streets of Detroit and East St. Louis but by evicting Manuel Noriega from the executive mansion in Panama City, and begat George W. Bush ("And to all the C students, I say, you, too, can become president of the United States"), a failed oilman who survived a cursory review of his insider trading in shares of Harken Energy by his father's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Dubya has eclipsed both his Red Oval Office predecessors in their
penchant for piling up stupendous deficits. In 2000, candidate Bush railed against "a big, exploding federal government." Fair warning. The U.S. national debt has since exploded by $1.2 trillion (U.S.).

This administration lies like cheap broadloom. These aren't the innocent "stretchers" so loved by Mark Twain. They are cousins of the Big Lie perfected by evildoers of the previous century, and they have done grievous damage to America in the past five years.

The president lied in his 2003 State of the Union address two months before the Iraq invasion when he claimed that Saddam Hussein had "recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." He lied in a 2004 national television appearance in stating that, "In the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 per cent, and ours have steadily declined." (U.S. federal spending increased every single year of Bush's first term, at double the rate of Clinton's presidency.)

Bush lied in puffing himself up last week as a war president on par with Lincoln or FDR. "The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we have ever faced," Bush said Tuesday, employing his favoured locution of distraction when cornered, this time as his administration braced for possible indictments of top officials. There are, by the most generous estimates, fewer than 100,000 members of terrorist groups in the world today, including Chechen rebels, Basque separatists, remnants of the IRA, and other non-enemies of the U.S. To compare such ragtag groups with the massed armies of fascism that brave Americans confronted at Guadalcanal and Omaha Beach is simply odious.


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A case of the mean reds  Continued
Condoleezza Rice lied to the 9/11 Commission in telling it that no one had ever anticipated that America could ever be attacked by airplanes used as bombs. Colin Powell lied to the United Nations in early 2003 about the dire threat Saddam posed to the U.S. and to Iraq's neighbours. Cheney lied in last year's vice-presidential debate in saying he'd never seen Sen. John Edwards in the Senate chamber.

This administration lies about its lies. White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked last week if Cheney was always truthful with the American people. "Yes," McClelland lied. "The vice-president, like the president, is a straight-forward, plainspoken person."

During the rule of the mean Reds, homophobia has come out of the closet. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) equates minority sexual orientation with bestiality; Florida Governor Jeb Bush has speculated that an earthquake triggering the demise of San Francisco would "probably (be) good news for the country. Did I just say that out loud?"

Same for rank incompetence. Michael Brown, the deposed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), told a post-Katrina Hurricane congressional panel last month that he didn't see the need for ice shipments to the hurricane-stricken region to keep elderly people alive and dead bodies from rotting in the sun.

"I think it's wrong for the federal government to be in the ice business, providing ice so I can keep my beer and Diet Coke cool," Brown told the inquiry. Which calls to mind Dwight Eisenhower's frustration with a party stalwart: "In his case, there seems to be no final answer to the question, `How stupid can you get?'"

Exponents of clean government and family values to a man and woman, Reds continually fall short of their proclaimed standards — meant, apparently, to apply to others and not themselves. Forced to step down as House speaker when his adultery was revealed, Newt Gingrich ("You cannot get to universal (health) coverage without a police state") begat his short-lived replacement Bob Livingston (more adultery), who begat current speaker Dennis Hastert, a water-carrier for price-gouging HMOs and assault-weapons makers.

In the Senate, meanwhile, former majority leader Trent Lott, obliged to step down after appearing to endorse 1950s-era segregation, begat Bill Frist, whose "blind trust" was recently exposed as a sham when it was revealed that in April he arranged for it to dump shares in the family firm, the erstwhile Medicare-bilking hospital chain HCA Inc., ahead of a profit warning that caused HCA stock to plunge. Frist is now under formal SEC investigation for potential insider trading in a stock he claimed two years ago not to have owned in the first place.

Meanwhile, the Reds' hallelujah chorus, men and women with sores on their knuckles from the commute to work each day, are models of startling hypocrisy.

Bill ("Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!") O'Reilly made a hefty payment earlier this year to settle allegations of sexually harassing the producer of his syndicated radio show. Bestselling morality author Bill (Virtuecrat) Bennett, a Reagan cabinet officer and the first "drug czar" under George H.W. Bush, once included games of chance among the nation's indicators of moral decrepitude before being exposed as a Vegas habituι, and more recently suggested that the crime rate would fall if only more pregnant black women would abort their fetuses. The recovering "hillbilly heroin" (OxyContin) addict Rush Limbaugh's TV show was yanked soon after he held up a photo of a then 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton and asked, "Did you know there's a White House dog?"

Long gone are the days when a gentle intellect like Mort Sahl was a friendly goad to JFK and LBJ. Today, we have Ann Coulter expressing her wish that the planes on 9/11 had struck The New York Times building rather than the World Trade Center.

Admittedly, the two tribes are not so easily caricatured. Among the Reds are such deficit hawks and Iraq-war critics as the estimable U.S. senators Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel. And especially conspicuous among the Blues is the dissembling Bill Clinton ("It depends upon what the meaning of the word `is' is").

But, as the bumper sticker popular in Blue states says, "When Clinton lied, no one died," it can be plausibly argued that more than 5,000 Americans have needlessly perished on George W. Bush's watch — on Sept. 11, 2001; in Iraq; and in the U.S. Gulf Coast this year, in addition to the estimated 30,000 dead Iraqi soldiers and civilians killed since the illegal U.S.-led invasion of that sovereign country in March 2003. (The Pentagon tracks only U.S. deaths. The attempt to calculate non-U.S. casualties is left to non-government organizations.)

But what of the Democrats?

John Kerry lost the presidency at his party's 2004 National Convention, when he chose not to deal with the misnamed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by simply brandishing a photo on national television of that group's front man posing in a 1971 Oval Office tκte-ΰ-tκte with Tricky Dick. That's where and when the plot against Kerry the Vietnam-hero-turned-war-protester began. When you still haven't figured out what you're up against after more than three decades, you deserve to be the minority party. As Clinton, the only multiple-term Democratic president since FDR, once said: "When someone is beating you over the head with a hammer, take out a meat cleaver and cut off their hand."

Clinton went against the Democratic tendency of not striking back. He vetoed Gingrich's Contract With/On America; invited Gingrich to self-destruct by calling his bluff about shutting down the government; and left office with higher job-approval ratings than Reagan. But many of today's Dems, including such party Solons as Kerry, Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman, voted for Bush's Iraq-war resolutions. Many Dems on Capitol Hill endorsed Bush's nominee to replace Rehnquist as chief justice, John Roberts, whose record is noteworthy in only one particular — his consistent deference to the unchecked power of the executive branch. And many Hill Democrats supported Bush's successive rounds of massive, debilitating tax cuts skewed to the rich, just as a previous generation of Hill Democrats embraced Reagan's voodoo supply-side economics.

And the Dems are tacitly supporting much worse. Writing of the scores of detainees, including Canada's Maher Arar, whose torture the Bush administration has contracted out to Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan and other regimes, author William Pfaff writes in the current Harper's magazine: "There has been relatively little effective protest in the American press or challenge from Democratic Party leaders. Among them, only former vice-president Al Gore has condemned the American use of torture: eloquently, passionately, and to no effect whatsoever, finding no public endorsement from other leaders of his party. Thus bipartisan responsibility exists for what has happened, and it continues today."

Having controlled Congress for most of the past half-century but electing only five chief executives in that time, the Blues are acculturated not to presidential power but to the congressional tradition of "going along to get along." As a rule, Dems abhor confrontation and ache to be seen as reasonable. They have mocked self-described bomb-throwers like Gingrich and DeLay even as these radical Republicans exploited their complacency to wrest away their control of the legislative branch.

Supine before their enemies, the Dems have long abetted the GOP's fiscal debauchery, sanctioned its unilateral manifestations of Pax Americana, and with barely discernible reluctance made common cause with the Reds' unflinching commitment to providing comfort to the comfortable while giving the afflicted a poke in the eye.

In their infrequent, ineffectual protests against the sharper edges of the Reds' hegemony, the Democrats are the voice of irony — they care about injustice, but not enough to do anything about it.

If ever there is to be a Blue Restoration, the Dems will first have to take to heart FDR's exultant fighting spirit. Of his adversaries, history's most successful Democrat said, "They are unanimous in their hatred for me, and I welcome their hatred. I should like it said of my first administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."
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