Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, torture is:
“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a male or female person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions."

During last year's presidential campaign Michelle Obama was heavily criticized by the right for making a statement that at this particular time in our nation's history, when a man of African descent had a viable shot at the presidency, she was proud of her country, or for the first time she was proud. This statement was immediately taken out of context by the usual gang of idiots at Fox Noise, attempting to make it appear that for all of her life she had the audacity not be completely and blindly in love with the United States of America no matter what its government did in the name of its citizens.
American exceptionalism is a theory recently embraced by the neoconservative movement who got us into the unnecessary war in Iraq, that the United States holds a special, privileged place in the world, simply because it exists. This is an example of the same egotistical, numb-headed thinking that allows Christians to believe that their religion is superior to all others, and that those who are not Christians will be eternally punished simply because they happened to have been born in a different geographical location.
I genuinely love this country and its people (except the loud and obnoxious ones, i.e., Republicans and soccer fans), for selfish reasons I suppose. It has allowed me to live the way I have, no matter how many mistakes I have made. Even now, as I live in my box in relative poverty, I enjoy an historically magnificent standard of living. It is largely by chance that I enjoy this standard of living. I could have just as easily been born in Ethiopia, and at this moment be digging up grubs for tonight's dinner, or three hundred years ago, and enjoy a life expectancy of 30 years. I've sponsored little children in other countries while being criticized for not helping American children first, but I believe that anyone who lives in this country is much better off than 95% of the world's population.
There is nothing exceptional about the United States of America, or its citizens except its history. God does not look down upon us and smile, favoring us above all others. We are simply human beings who have enjoyed an historical and ruthless advantage over most of the world. We are directly related to all those who live on this planet. Our cousins are the trees, animals, fish, insects, and plants who share this world with us.
I am not proud of many of the things our government has done in the past. I am not proud of slavery (still going on in the form of human trafficking). I am not proud of the genocide of the native Americans done in our countries name. I am not proud of clandestine intervention in other countries affairs per portably for this countries benefit. I am not proud of Tuskegee. I am not proud of American greed. I am not proud of nuclear weapons. I am not proud of unnecessary foreign military intervention to protect corporate interests. And I am not proud of the torturing of prisoners done in my name.
The Bush Administration is clearly guilty of torturing prisoners and war crimes. Bush is certainly guilty of many other crimes as well, but let's stick to war crimes for the moment. The rest of the world knows this and Spain is currently investigating six of the previous administrations top officials for violations of those crimes. Linndie England did not come up with the Bush Torture Policy, Bush did, and his cronies, but she has been blamed for it and served time in prison because of it. Those responsible have yet to be held accountable in this country supposedly ruled by law.
Pundits and Bush officials, including Dick Cheney who seems to be in a endless loop of denial, use terms like "enhanced interrogation techniques," to put a pretty face on barbarism. They want to re-write history so they can hide their crimes and escape punishment. Columnist Peggy Noonan states that she can see no good in "a great nation," to release terror memos. I submit to her that this country is not great, by any standard, if it does not admit its mistakes, and take appropriate measures to correct them.
Those responsible for the Bush Administration Torture Policies are nothing more than schoolyard bullies, and like schoolyard bullies, if you stand up to them they'll break down and cry and run home to mommy. These people must not be allowed to escape prosecution for their crimes. This is not a nation where a different standard of justice exists for a certain select few (in reality, it actually is, but shouldn't be, and justice often prevails when prosecuting the ultra-rich). It just is not. The founding of this nation, a democratic republic, has been the greatest liberal social and political experiment in recorded history. It must not succumb to the whims of political expediency.
Barack Obama says he wants to look forward. Apparently he drives a car without a rear view mirror. He's looking forward so much he does not have time to see the Mack truck that is about to ram him from behind. I must say that his apparent hesitancy to investigate the obvious crimes of the previous administration is more than a little troubling. It is certainly morally incorrect. It may in fact be against the law, and he may be held accountable for crimes he committed by not vigorously investigating these crimes and having them prosecuted. I fervently hope we can clean our own house, and don't have to rely on other nations to do it for us. It seems that they certainly have a taste for it.
Our current economic crisis is a direct result of not learning from our past mistakes and repeating them. If we give a pass to the war criminals of the Bush years, we open the doors for other presidents to feel that they too are above the law, and will commit whatever crimes they feel they can get away with.
It is time to clean house Mr. President. Follow the law and do your job. Let me be proud of this country once again.

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