Tales Of Our Torturer-In-Chief.

The Senate Committee on Intelligence (Yes, I know, there are many who would question if there is any intelligence in Washington) has released its report on torture and its insights into the actions of the CIA under the Bush administration is not pretty. The report shows that waterboarding was only one of the methods used, and not even the worst at that.

Among other things, the report shows that we abducted suspected terrorists, many who were innocent and held at least 119 captive. 26 of the captives were illegally held. The captives were subjected, not only to waterboarding, but to numerous other forms of torture, such as sleep deprivation and sustained eardrum-piercing noises. Some were shackled in “stress” positions. Some were held in complete darkness with only a bucket to use as a toilet. Many were threatened with rape by objects such as a broom handle. Some, who tried to end their misery through hunger strikes, were fed rectally. And at least one died.

These are not descriptions of POW abuse committed by North Vietnam, North Korea or WWII-era Japan. These are descriptions of prisoner abuse by the good ol’ US of A.

And what did we accomplish from our violations of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners? Nothing. According to the report, we gained no information that was useful or that hadn’t already been gained from humane interrogations. Yet our Torturer-In-Chief, Richard “The Dick” Cheney, says he stands behind the program of “extraordinary renditions” and “enhanced interrogations” (aka torture), and he would do it again.

Keep in mind, this is a man who bravely avoided the military draft through a series of 5 deferrals. A man who ignored the advice and counsel of military heroes who had themselves been subjected to torture as POWs. A man who outed a CIA agent as payback for her husband revealing information that blew a hole in the administration’s case for war in Iraq. A man too cowardly to dirty his own hands. Instead, he stood behind the dark curtain pulling the puppet strings of the torturers.

We vilified some low-level military officers for their role in the abuses uncovered at Abu Grahib. We published pictures of them holding prisoners on dog leashes. We showed them threatening prisoners with dogs. We showed them holding naked, blindfolded men in stress positions. We dishonorably discharged them. And we sent some of them to prison. Yet the puppetmaster who authorized and encouraged their actions not only walks free. He has become a celebrity on Fox News Channel and conservative hate radio. And he continues to support one of the most embarrassing chapters in US history.

I believe Richard “The Dick” Cheney is an international war criminal. He, and all of his co-conspirators should be tried for war crimes and, if convicted, sent to prison where, unlike his victims, Cheney can rest assured that he won’t be subjected to torture.

What Good Are Geneva Conventions If We Refuse To Enforce Them?

By signing the Geneva Convention on torture, the US agreed that it would never resort to torturing prisoners, and that it would prosecute or extradite anyone who did. So why has the Obama administration refused to press charges of war crimes against George W. Bush, Richard “The Dick” Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, et al?

The Senate Intelligence Committee has now documented torture during the Bush administration and President Obama has confirmed the findings. If that’s not enough evidence to generate indictments, Bush officials have confessed to their crimes in their published memoirs and on television. Not only have they admitted knowledge of “extraordinary renditions,” aka torture. They have bragged about their “extreme interrogation techniques” and stated that they would not hesitate to use them again.

In other words, they are self-confessed war criminals.

So why hasn’t the Obama administration pressed charges according to the Geneva Conventions? Why have they not extradited the perpetrators to countries that will? Aren’t we supposed to be a nation of laws? Don’t we brag about our commitment to human rights? Don’t we accuse and prosecute the officials of other nations for war crimes?

If we can’t live up to our own rhetoric and promises; if we can’t abide by the treaties we sign, what good are they?

The Teapublican Zombie Apocalypse.

Following eight years of the George W. Bush administration, which included two wars (including one pre-emptive war of choice), the failures of FEMA to give aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the crash of the housing market, the nation’s second-largest stock market crash, the bailout of the nation’s largest banks, soaring debt, thousands of home foreclosures and skyrocketing unemployment, the general public was understandably outraged. The Democratic Party stood a good chance of tapping into that outrage thereby ensuring its dominance for generations.

Not only did it fail to do so, it allowed the Tea Party to capture the voters’ anger and help the GOP seize the House of Representatives in 2010.

Was that outcome the result of astute planning and insightful strategies by Republicans? No, it was the result of the stupidity, timidity and outright cowardice of Democrats! Instead of charging Bush officials for the war crimes they committed, Democrats allowed them to profit from the speaker’s circuit and to rewrite history with their inevitable memoirs. Instead of pursuing criminal charges against the banksters who defrauded ordinary Americans, the Department of Treasury and the Justice Department allowed them to give each other six and seven-figure bonuses for their misdeeds. Instead of rewriting the tax code to prevent corporations and individuals from avoiding taxes by stashing profits in off-shore accounts, they bowed to Teapublicans making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

By 2010, the populist outrage created by Teapublican policies was re-directed toward Democrats – not so much for what they had done, but for what they had NOT done. They have not established a brand, making their core values clearly understood. They have not embraced those who joined the Occupy movement and the 99 percent. Too few have stood up against big money and big business. They have not fought hard enough for what they claim to believe in. And, instead of staying focused on solutions to our nation’s problems, they have too often and too easily buckled to criticism.

Now we are heading toward yet another seminal moment in politics and the analysts are suggesting that the Teapublicans will not only hold onto the House. They are likely to take over the Senate! In other words, voters are likely to reward the party that blocked the regulation of financial institutions; the party that panders to large corporations and billionaires while demeaning and dismissing nearly half our population; the party whose policies have hollowed out the middle class and transferred trillions of dollars of wealth upward to those who least need it; the party that took us to war based on a series of lies; the party that has repeatedly tried to cut Social Security and Medicare; the party that refused to allow the duly-elected majority to legislate through a record number of filibusters; the party that prioritized the profits of large corporations over jobs; the party that ignores the needs of small businesses; the party that has destroyed labor unions; the party that underfunds Veterans Affairs then howls when it can’t meet demand; the party that believes that climate change and environmental conservation are based on flawed science.

If you’re a small business owner, a white collar worker, a blue collar laborer, a woman, a retiree, or anyone who wants to breathe clean air and drink clean water, the GOP has made it abundantly clear that they don’t care about you. By the same token, many in the Democratic Party have shown an unwillingness to fight for you. And their election strategy seems to consist of, “A Republican said (or did) something stupid, send us money.” Maybe that explains why so few Democratic voters show up at the polls during midterm elections.

Indeed, the two parties can best be summed up by two quotes. In the HBO series The Newsroom, Jeff Daniels’ character stated, “You know why people don’t like liberals?…cause they lose. If liberals are so f***ing smart, why do they lose so goddam always?” And conservative author P. J. O’Rourke famously wrote, “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.”

Unfortunately, I believe they are both right.