News & Articles
Browse all content by date.
In a recent interview, after closing down his political prop-ranch at Crawford, former President George W. Bush said he wanted to use his new presidential library to write a book. A strange combination of incompetence, swaggering arrogance, and inferiority complex, I immediately wondered what he could write about. Perhaps, why he couldn’t find oil in Texas with all those giant pumps humping the land? Why he didn’t pay cash for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Why he didn’t pay for the prescription drug law for seniors? Then I thought of some excellent advice for him from Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” :
“If you wou’d not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”
I have always had just a slight twinge of sympathy for Dubya. He was selected by a powerful, well-financed cabal to run for president like a quarter of USDA Select beef hanging in a cold political meat market. They could use him as a name-figurehead to run the country. The poor buffoonish twit was way out of his element, whatever element that could be. Poor Dubya’s ledger has very little positive to write about in an autobiography. He was not a modest man in public–but he had a real load to be modest about in private. Besides that, he once was cited for chewing out a campaign aide in public for eating his peanut butter sandwich. That would be classified as a new low for presidential timber.
A Choice Between The Elizabethan Chain Of
Being And The Peter Principle
In Queen Elizabeth’’s and Shakespeare’s time in the 16th Century people believed there was a “Chain of Being” where all of God’s creations were placed in six descending categories: (1) God, (2) Angelic Beings, (3) Humanity, (4) Animals, (5) Plants, and (6) Minerals. Within each category there were many levels of class and ability. Humans occupied a unique position between the world of spiritual beings and the world of physical creation. Humans were thought to have powers such as reason, love, and imagination, but because of a physical body we had the sensations of pain, hunger, thirst, and primal sex like the animals.
We were endowed with intellectual sins such as paganism, treason, and fraud, and physical sins such as greed, wrath, lust, and violence. If a human had a grandiose idea he was like the angels or a philosopher-king and attempted to rise above his ordinary station, he was severely punished. As an example, when Shakespeare’s Macbeth killed King Duncan of Scotland, he was punished by death because he tried to ascend too far on the Chain of Being.
The Peter Principle is the modern version of the Chain of Being. As a person is promoted in an organization he reaches a point where he’s utterly helpless and incompetent. That’s the life story of Dubya. One college roommate called him the most “uncurious” man he had ever met. Nothing seemed to push him to use a library. Often called the worst president in American history, poor George wasn’t dumb. He just never made the effort to know anything. His parents pushed the idea he was dyslexic. Could be. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota also had that affliction. He had a doctorate and taught at Carleton before his election.
The Selection Of Darth Vader As Vice-President
Of War, Torture, And Tax Cuts
In his book of failures at least three chapters will dominate: torture, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the national debt. The approval of torture, Gitmo, and black sites banned by the Geneva Convention and numerous international treaties will forever be part of the noose around his neck. Dick Cheney, charged by Dubya to find him a smart vice-president, picked himself. He became the Darth Vader of Washington, proclaiming that a little waterboarding never hurt anyone and that deficits didn’t matter.
Cheney, with as many heart attacks as cowardly deferments, led Dubya into the inferno of losing wars, Abu Ghraib and torture, and vulture capitalism. Meister Frantz Schmidt (1554-1634) was the official executioner of Nuremberg, the site of the war trials of German leaders after World War II. Cheney is the reincarnation of Schmidt as portrayed in Joel Harrington’s book “The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honor and Shame in the Turbulent 16th Century.” We have the Geneva Convention and other treaties because there were hundreds of official executioners prior to the 20th Century. Most were paid a salary and supplied housing for torturing and killing people deemed malcontents. Drawings in the Nuremberg City Chronicle showed Schmidt performing such public duties as hammering a stake into a woman’s heart and soundly whipping criminals. He was feared because he executed his own brother-in-law.
Schmidt had many tasks. A perfectionist, he not only maintained the city’s torture cells and places of execution, he had to be very good with the tools of his trade: swords, tongs, shackles, rope, hammers, and wood stakes. Executioners who screwed up a death sentence occasionally were killed by relatives or angry crowds. Pulling out eyes, dismembering living people, and cutting off heads required skill and experience. Schmidt in a sense was a “moral” killer. He tortured “Potty Freddy,” his brother-in-law, by tearing flesh out of him with hot tongs and stretching him out on the rack. Then he hanged him with heavy stones tied to his feet. Cheney is a long lost brother of Schmidt.
The Numerous Sins
Of The Decider
I repeat, Dubya has three major sins on his born-again conscience: torture, Iraq and Afghanistan, and adding about $8 trillion to the national debt. He put the wars on government credit cards and failed to regulate the vultures picking human carrion in Wall Street banks. But the approval of torture decimated our reputation and our values throughout the world. There is a great article about the 50 reasons we should despise Dubya’s presidency, but I think my three top the list. Torture, replaced by “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” make it #1 out of the top 50.
Dubya became a war criminal along with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld when he approved torture memos scribbled by John Yoo and Jay Isbee of the Justice Department, and Cheney’s chief of staff. David Addington had replaced the lying “Scooter” Libby. They indicated it was OK to “interrogate” prisoners until their organs “almost” failed. That’s not what the Geneva Convention or international anti-torture treaties say. I taught the subject to my Marine Corps grunts for three years. Waterboarding, stress positions such as hanging from a ceiling hook with hands tied, excessive heat and cold, endless interrogations without sleep, nudity, and hundreds of other “enhanced” punishments violate international law. Prisoners sent to CIA black sites in countries specializing in torture further damaged our reputation. If Dubya had read a few books he might travel overseas now without worrying about being arrested for war crimes by several nations that have named him in criminal indictments. It took the civilized nations of the world thousands of years to the 20th Century to come up with laws prohibiting torture.
The Dubya Decade Of Disaster
Dubya led us into more than a decade of disaster because of wars, the doubling of the national debt, and the greatest recession since the Great Depression. But those are minor setbacks compared to what he did to the country by descending into the Dark Ages of torture. Before Dubya we had a reputation around the world for promoting human rights, but with “enhanced interrogation techniques,” black prison sites, Abu Ghraib, and Gitmo he has committed irreparable damage to our international reputation. We may never recover those lost values. After realizing we were violating the Geneva Convention in 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of State Colin Powell warned: “History will not judge this kindly.”
It has taken some countries–and religions-thousands of years to gradually reduce barbarity, witch hunts, waterboarding, mutilation, and death by horrible means. The 20th Century Jewish Holocaust was an aberration of insanity by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. But genocide is still with us in many countries.
Torture has been around since our ancestors lived in caves. Before the Romans started to use the crucifixion as torture and death, death before Jesus Christ was often brutal and quick. People were boiled in oil, stoned (which was quick if the head was hit first), strangled, drowned, burned at the stake, and bled to death with a thousand cuts.
Torture As An Act
Of State Terror
The Romans felt they needed an act of state terror to rule the provinces so they developed the crucifixion. Stephen Mansfield, an expert on early torture, described crucifixion this way: “Crucifixion was the perfect blend of death, vengeance, and spectacle. Victims took days to expire, sometimes a week. Soldiers taunted and further tortured the dying, often driving stakes through body parts associated with the victim’s crimes. Wildlife sometimes ate away at bodies before the mercy of death arrived....Jesus of Nazareth spent six hours gasping wide-eyed for breath, while soldiers gambled for his clothes and onlookers urged him to get on with dying....A cruel death meant not merely to kill a man but to kill the spirit of a nation.” Let us remember that when Spartacus lost a slave revolt against Rome in 71 A.D. Rome crucified him and 6,000 of his followers, lining the road between Rome to Capua with crosses. After this event, torture became entertainment for the masses, utilizing gladiators killing each other and animals eating criminals and Christians in the arena for belly laughs.
People On Both Sides
Every century has had its torture low points, but some were more diabolical than others. The 5th through the 14th were known for “trial by ordeal.” One trial consisted of having two men raise their arms at cross level. The man who held his arms up the longest was affirmed to be telling the truth. Another trial was grabbing a red-hot iron bar. If you ended up without a blister you were innocent! God was involved, of course. The judge said: “If this man is innocent of the charge from which he seeks to clear himself, he will take this fiery iron in his hand and appear unharmed; if he is guilty, let your most just power declare that truth in him, so that wickedness may not conquer justice.” Another was trial by water. Throw the guy in the river and see if he floats.
In the 15th through the 17th the Roman Catholic Church tried to purify itself by burning thousands of heretics at the stake. The church started to use waterboarding in the 13th, particularly during the Spanish Inquisition. The church ridded itself of many troublesome females by stake and bonfire during the Witchcraze. Many women were accused of magically castrating men. In one case a witch was accused of keeping penises and testicles in birds nests and “feeding” them with grain and corn.
By the middle of the 17th governments became more practical. Why torture and kill when you can use these people as slaves in ship galleys or ship them to Australia as indentured servants? But some governments never get the word. The Saudis still cut the hands and heads off thieves and other criminals. The Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan stone fornicators and adulterers. However, Sharia rapists still get by with raping because it’s so hard for women to get four witnesses to the act.
And so it came to pass that on November 13, 2001 the ignorant, publicly arrogant President of the United States George W. Bush signed the order “Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens In the War Against Terrorism.” This order set up a torture system that violated every sense of decency and every international treaty Americans have ever signed, including the historical Geneva Convention rules of war.