Friday, March 30, 2007

His brain has not only been washed, as they say... It has been dry cleaned.

It's a no-brainer that the letter released yesterday from captured British sailor Faye Turney was coerced, probably at the point of torture-

"Unfortunately during the course of our mission we entered into Iranian waters. Even through our wrongdoing, they have still treated us well and humanely, which I am and always will be eternally grateful.

I ask the representatives of the House of Commons after the Government had promised that this type of incident would not happen again why have they let this occur and why has the Government not been questioned over this?

"Isn't it time to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future?"

Doesn't exactly make it sound like she's sitting in an Iranian hotel room, sipping a cup of tea and dashing a letter off to mum and dad, does it?

Tony Blair is filled with righteous indignation-

I just think it's completely wrong, a disgrace actually, when people are used in that way. That's contrary to all international laws and conventions, and is not going to make any difference to us.

Really Tony? Completely wrong?

Then why didn't you speak up last month when this story hit the news?

WASHINGTON -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to cutting off the head of American journalist Daniel Pearl, as well as plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a revised transcript of a statement released by the U.S. military.

Before I continue let me add the obligatory observation that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is an evil man and it's obvious he did probably have a leading hand in the September 11th attacks and I hope he burns in hell after his inevitable execution. Under no circumstances am I defending this man.

But it's just as obvious that his confession to so many acts of terrorism over so many years would put him into a category of supervillain somewhere between the Riddler and the Green Goblin. It is virtually impossible that he did all the things he told the tribunal he did. (His confession ran off the rails for me personally when he claimed that he had "moved the iceberg of Allah into the path of the infidel Titanic.")

Most of Western media and talk radio has acknowledged this reality but written it off as simple bravado. The man's trying to appear more important than he is. He's a terrorist with an ego the size of Donald Trump. Mohammed's wide ranging confession was itself turned against him as a sort of character flaw.

To me his confession brought uncomfortable similarities to years of seeing images of our own servicemen held by hostile forces in Vietnam, Iraq and North Korea "confess" to whatever the man pointing the gun at them off-camera was telling them to confess to. These images were never convincing for a simple reason: coersion and torture don't bring out the truth.

Anne Applebaum wrote a great piece in the Washington Post a couple of years ago entitled The Torture Myth which takes to task the assumption that torture is an effective means of discovering information.

Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

Reading Blair's statement on Turney's confession is painful. After years of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib the UK and United States have exhausted our moral capital. Blair has no standing to complain about forced confessions and "international laws." We have encouraged reciprocity in our enemies and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hey, Daddy, I want an Oompa Loompa. I want you to get me an Oompa Loompa right away.

Nancy Pelosi may be a politician that I've spoken derisively of before, but I'm damn proud of her comments yesterday to Bush telling him to "calm down with the threats." That's exactly the sort of tone you should take with a spoiled child that's having a tantrum in the middle of the toy store.

If the behavior continues then I might just have to change my views on corporal punishment. "George, go out to the Rose Garden and get yourself a switch."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stwike him, Centuwion. Stwike him vewy wuffly!

Err, I don't see this.

The House has already passed legislation requiring troops to be withdrawn by Sept. 1, 2008. The Senate vote assured that the Democratic-controlled Congress would send Bush legislation later this spring that calls for a change in war policy. A veto is a certainty, presuming the president follows through.

That would put the onus back on the Democrats, who would have to decide how long they wanted to extend the test of wills in the face of what are likely to be increasingly urgent statements from the administration that the money is needed for troops in the war zone.

Democrats just won an election largely on the basis that they would change course on Iraq. The President won't just be vetoing legislation, he'll be going against the will of most of the country that his failed war be brought to an end.

I'm sure there are people around Bush that are blowing smoke up his butt and playing to his short guy syndrome but the American people won't be as easily dazzled by bullshit this time around. Add to that the large number of Republican Senators up for re-election and I think it's fair to say that a funding crisis would largely put the onus on Bush and the Republican party to join the rest of America on this issue.

(I see Gordo voted with the angels on this one. I don't care. If this weren't an election cycle I haven't the slightest doubt he'd be on the other side. When it comes to principle he's the exact opposite of the principled tradition of Oregon Senators and no heir to Mark Hatfield.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

You gotta have presence on the court. Presence like a cheetah rather than a chimp.

College basketball is an strange thing. It has a reputation for fairness over the other NCAA sports, especially football. This is probably mainly due to their playoff system in which Cinderalla teams can stun the big conference teams. After watching a few games this season and following the playoffs a little more closely this year I'd have to say I agree with this guy that that reputation is in danger (

Both games yesterday featured ticky-tack fouls that seemed to go one way and big guys throwing elbows that weren't drawing fouls. Having almost the entire starting lineup of the Ducks foul out while the Florida starters had no more than 2 fouls each is joke. I don't want to put on a tinfoil hat but it sure looks like the fix is in.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'm Dar.

Scenes You'd Forgotten (or wished you had) Part 1: Rodent Napkin.

In the 80's fantasy flick "The Beastmaster" our hero played by the great thespian Marc Singer ends a speech rallying the people to fight off the shackles of their oppressors by wiping his face with a ferret. Apparently they're so oppressed they can't afford Brawny.