Monthly Archives: August 2009

Jack Bauer and Cheney’s Policy of Torture

[Setting: The Supreme Court, Washington DC, September 2009… A large crowd has gathered inside.  Jack Nicholson has a courtside seat.]

JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: Attorney General Holder, call your witness.

ERIC HOLDER: Prosecution calls former Vice President, Dick Cheney.

DICK CHENEY is escorted in, scowling.

ROBERTS: Mr. Cheney, do you solemnly swear that your testimony will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

CHENEY: God can’t help me now. [crowd titters]

ROBERTS: Mr. Cheney?

CHENEY: I do.

ROBERTS: Please be seated.

CHENEY sits.  HOLDER stands, and holds up a document from his desk.

HOLDER: Mr. Cheney, in the spring of 2002, did you sign off on a CIA memo authorizing harsher interrogation techniques?

CHENEY: I did.

HOLDER: Can you please give your rationale as to why these techniques were necessary?

CHENEY: I, along with many senior ranking officials in the Bush administration, felt that the country was in danger.

HOLDER: Grave danger?

CHENEY: Is there another kind? 

HOLDER holds up a photograph of Abu Zubaydah.

HOLDER: Do you recognize this man?

CHENEY: That is Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda operative whom we apprehended in Pakistan in March 2002.

HOLDER: FBI agent Ali Soufan has testified that CIA interrogators tortured Zubaydah.  Torture methods included nudity, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding.

CHENEY [shrugs]: So?

HOLDER: These interrogation techniques are all illegal in the United States.

CHENEY: Not when I made up the law.

HOLDER: Why did you allow the CIA to use these torture techniques on Zubaydah?

CHENEY takes a sip of water, then glares at HOLDER.

CHENEYCHENEY: Son, we live in a world that has walls.  And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns.  Who’s going to do it?  You?  Me?  I dodged Vietnam five times, so it’s sure as hell not going to be me.  But even though I have no military experience, I had a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.  You weep for torture victims and you curse the American interrogators.  You have that luxury.  You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that torture, while tragic, probably saves lives.  And waterboarding, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives–

HOLDER [interjects]: Mr. Cheney, can you give a specific example on how lives were saved?

CHENEY [caught off-guard]: Well… Zubaydah confessed to a number of Al Qaeda plots.

HOLDER: Have any of these plots been substantiated?  Did you ever consider that Zubaydah may have lied under interrogation to avoid more torture?  That his intel was faulty, at best?

CHENEY: What does it matter?

HOLDER: It matters because you were torturing this guy, and I want answers!

CHENEY: You want answers?

HOLDER: I think I’m entitled.

CHENEY [getting angry]: You want answers??

HOLDER: I want the truth!

CHENEY: You can’t handle the truth!

JACK NICHOLSON: Snap!

CHENEY pounds his fist on the ledge.  His face is red.

CHENEY: You can’t handle the truth, because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall.  You need me on that wall… Well, maybe not me, but someone else that I hire to stand on the wall.  You need him.  And I have neither the time, nor the inclination, to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom my guy provides, and then questions the manner in which he provides it.

HOLDER holds up a copy of 24 on DVD.

HOLDER: Mr. Cheney, did you, or did you not, approve of torture based on an episode of 24?

CHENEY: I did the job I was sent to do.

HOLDER [voice rising]: Did you, or did you not, approve of torture because you saw Jack Bauer do it?

CHENEY: Oh by the way, I don’t give a damn what you’re entitled to. I forgot to say that.

HOLDER: Jack Bauer —

CHENEY: You’re goddamn right I did!

The crowd gasps.  Justice John Roberts faints.  Jack Nicholson gives a standing ovation.

HOLDER: Oh, shit.

CHENEY24 copy

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Are We Regressing?

EVOLUTION3

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Michael Jackson’s Death Confirmed a Homicide

It looks like it’s Dr. Murray, at the Neverland Ranch, with the propofol.

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And Now, The Latest News… To Music

Even in the post-Napster age, music piracy is still on the rise.  Record companies are hemorrhaging money.  Artists are forced to drink tap instead of Fiji.  The only bright spot in the music industry is in publishing: owning the rights to songs that will be licensed to radio, television, video games, commercials, etc.

A local nightly news program may pay $1,000 to $4,000 for some horn-and-drum opening music and use it whenever it wants. The same goes for background, mood-setting music on a daytime soap opera. But using a song just once in a major motion picture can cost $25,000 to $1 million. Companies like J. Crew even pay fees for music played on their Web sites. (From NY Times)

If this is where the money is, then why not alter the product?  Let’s make songs for our newscasts and political debates.  We don’t necessarily have to sacrifice our “art” in order to make it topical:

WHITNEY-2

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I’m Not a Hater, I Just Fuss a Lot

Back when George W. Bush was President, I would often lament the sorry state of American politics.  Twice we had elected a man who could not form grammatically correct sentences.  We had handed over top security codes to a guy who couldn’t pronounce “nuclear.”  And yesterday, we found out that the Bushie administration had tried to yo-yo with our emotions by manipulating the terror alert system:  “Let’s bump it up to Code Orange during the holiday weekend, just to clear out traffic on the roads.  Dick Cheney has a hunting trip.”

bushSo for eight years, I stewed.  I vented.  I called G-Dubs every synonym of “idiot” in the English language.  And I widely expressed my belief that W. was possibly the worst president in the history of our country, which is saying quite a lot, given the legendary ineptitude of Warren G. Harding.

But after Obama was elected president, I figured I would have no more need to complain.  Americans had finally come around.  I was proud that we were smart enough, bold enough, and progressive enough to elect Obama.  My hating would end.

It did not.

Now that Obama is President, I am lodging my complaints at complainers: birthers, neocons, fans of FOX News, Palins, gun nuts, and insurance executives.  Instead of disaparaging the White House, I am turning around and throwing spitballs at the American public instead (except for the ones carrying assault rifles).

But really: Are we seriously that stupid to think the government will kill off the elderly through “death panels”?  That universal healthcare will necessarily lead to hospitals overrun with illegal immigrants?  That Obama’s parents decided to fly from Hawaii to Kenya, just so their baby boy could reap the rewards of Kenyan citizenship?  Come on, people!

In the end, I suppose I’ll never be at ease unless I have no one to criticize.  Now that Bush has retired to his new Texas farm life, I’ve found new targets for my parting shots.  So Glenn Beck, Whole Foods, and town-hall wingnuts, beware.  I’ll be on the attack with my socialist, Nazi-fed, Grandma-killing ideas.  And if you’re part of the birther movement, I’m calling a terr0r-alert audible: we’re moving this up to a Code Red.

TERRORALERT

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The Impact of Santa Claus on Afghanistan’s Presidential Election

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard from Americans who are afraid of what’s happening in this country.  People are mad (and confused) about healthcare reform.  We’re concerned that the administration is leading us down the wrong path. With a government full of communists, illegal immigrants, Nazis, and Kenyans, perhaps our fear is justified.

Well, on the day of the Afghanistan presidential election, here is one more group whom we should fear: men with beards.

Yup, beards.  As in, chin warmers, mustache buddies, and neck rugs.

ahmadinejadWhy should we fear facial hair?  Personally, I believe that beards reflect poor judgment.  It’s coarse, it gathers crumbs, and it rarely makes one more attractive.  It also seems terribly uncomfortable: especially in the summer, I imagine it’s like wearing a fur hat around your face.  (If Santa Claus lived in Miami, he wouldn’t need a beard.)  So naturally, people who choose to have beards are either a) irrational, b) trying to hide something, or c) preparing for Christmastime.

nobeardMy beard theory is grounded in strict empirical evidence.  For example, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a world leader with a beard.  Barack Obama doesn’t have one, Gordon Brown doesn’t have one, and Angela Merkel (hopefully) can’t grow one.  I could think of only one significant bearded world leader, and that’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the crazy President of Iran.  (See?  Beard = bad judgment = psychotic dictator of Iran.  The transitive properties of mathematics don’t lie.)  If you think it’s a cultural thing, just check out the clean-shaven faces of other Muslim leaders: Zardari of Pakistan, Talabani of Iraq, and Mubarak of Egypt.  And while Kim Jong Il proves that beardless men can be psychotic dictators too, it’s never a sure thing unless you have a beard (see below).

bharrisonAre there exceptions to the rule?  Of course.  But at the very least, having a beard is just bad luck.  The last U.S. president to have a beard took office over a century ago.  Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Harrison (1881) is probably one of the most obscure presidents ever.  Before him, James Garfield had been the most recent President with a beard.  Out of 47 U.S. presidents, only five had beards, and both Lincoln and Garfield were shot and killed.

afghanistan copyThis is what makes the Afghanistan election so troubling.  Two of the three top contenders in the race have beards.  Incumbent President Hamid Karzai has overseen his corrupt regime with a full face beard.  Abdullah Abdullah, a former Afghan foreign minister and eye doctor, has a rapidly graying beard and very few friends in Washington.  The only beardless contender is longshot Ashraf Ghani, who has a Ph.D from Columbia, a resume that includes a stint at the World Bank, and a puff piece in the New York Times.

So, Afghanistan, what’s it going to be?  Five more years of furry faces, or a pick that will shock the world?

beardstimeless

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Are You Ready for Some Football? (As In, Are You Ready for A Public Option?)

On Tuesday, the biggest story of the day was whether the public option had officially come out of retirement.  Last week, after President Obama downplayed its importance as just a “sliver” of healthcare reform, the public option had all but cleaned out its locker.  Political pundits immediately jumped on the story, claiming that the White House was “ready to drop [the] public option” and that Obama had “killed” it.  (The killing was all done with the blessing of the death panel, of course.)

On Tuesday, however, the public option made a comeback.  Robert Gibbs told press correspondents that Obama indeed “prefers a public option” and that it’s still a “priority.”   Sixty House Democrats sent Kathleen Sebelius a love letter,  imploring her to save the public option.  Even Howard Dean made the rounds, saying that reform would not be possible without it… Yeeeaaaah!

Given the denials, the backpedaling, and all the ups and downs, polls show that Americans are getting sick of this talk.  We just want to know what will happen next.

favreWell, here is where a Brett Favre analogy can help.  Favre is a Hall of Fame quarterback specializing in football and flippy floppies.  He retired from the Green Bay Packers in March 2008, un-retired in August 2008 to play for the Jets, re-retired from the Jets in February 2009, and then un-re-retired just yesterday, announcing his intention to play for the Vikings.

With the public option, we’ve already done the retirement waffle dance.  Now, it’s gametime.  If we follow the Brett Favre Story, then we have a few more months of “will they” or “won’t they.”  Once it’s decided upon that the public option will be included in the healthcare bill, it’ll keep things close… but in the end, it will ultimately fold under pressure.  It will naturally stay in the pocket too long, get kicked around by angry Republicans clawing for a win in 2010, and toss up an ill-timed pass into coverage that will get intercepted by a watered-down bill of “reform.”  Then, defeated once again, the public option shall retire to a field of diminutive co-ops, rising healthcare costs, and Wrangler jeans, forever reminiscing about the days of Obamacare and greener pastures by the bay.

It may be a stretch… but Favre did throw 22 interceptions last year.  This won’t end well.

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