Archive for September, 2008

Water Music

The New York Times is reporting that Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft participated in meetings convened to discuss which methods of torture should be inflicted on Abu Zubaydah, the “insane, certifiable” Al Qaeda “gofer” who has, in our names, been imprisoned and abused for more than six years.

Senator Carl Levin provided the Times with documents containing Bush administration responses to a set of detailed questions submitted by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is belatedly examining the treatment of those imprisoned in the War On Terra.

The documents disclose that Rice, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft all met to discuss techniques of torture that were subsequently inflicted on Zubaydah. It appears that Zubaydah’s torture was “orally” approved at the highest levels, prior to the administration’s drafting of written, secret memos that purported to provide “legal” authorization for interrogation techniques that transgress domestic and international law.


“It’s A Man’s World, And These Things Will Never Stop”

On July 14, three young Pakistani women en route to marriage to the young men of their choice were abducted, beaten, tortured, and buried alive by their male relatives. Two female relatives—the mother of one, the aunt of another—begged for the young women’s lives. For their pains, they were shot and killed and tossed into the young women’s grave.

Media exposure has caused the government of Pakistan to open an “investigation.” The Pakistani senator who represents Balochistan province, where the murders occurred, believes such a probe not only unnecessary, but wrongheaded. In his view, the killings were justified.

“This action was carried out according to tribal traditions,” says Israr Ullah Zehri. “These are centuries old-traditions and I will continue to defend them. Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.”

An elderly woman from the same village as the dead women declined to give her name to inquiring reporters. Her view: “It’s a man’s world, and these things will never stop.”


Guerre Mener N’est Que Dampnacion

With two-thirds of his people opposing him, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is stubbornly increasing his commitment to George II’s War on Terra, dispatching additional French troops to Afghanistan to participate in Operation Enduring Fiefdom.

In late August, France buried ten paratroopers ambushed and killed in Kabul province. The two-day battle that resulted in their deaths seems to have been something of a fiasco. One soldier told Le Monde that his unit was equipped only with assault weapons and that he and his fellows exhausted their ammunition during the attack. NATO commanders seem to have neglected to send reinforcements or provide air support. Confronted with charges that the slain French troops were too young and inexperienced, the French defense minister responded only that a professional army is “inevitably” composed of young soldiers. The Taliban commander who devised the ambush stated that but for the arrival of night, his men would have “killed every one of the [French] soldiers.” Twenty-one French soldiers were wounded; eleven of the most gravely injured have been flown back to France.

The Afghan ambush was the costliest single military loss for France since 1983 . . . which also happens to be the last time the French rashly trotted at the heels of the US into an ill-advised Middle East conflict. On that occasion, 58 French soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber who drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a parking garage beneath the French barracks in West Beirut. Nearly simultaneously, 241 American Marines were killed in a similar suicide bombing at the American barracks at Beirut airport. Over the succeeding days, bodies had to be pulled out under sniper fire. Shortly thereafter, Ronald Reagan turned tail and ran, withdrawing all US troops from Lebanon. A complete and total surrender conveniently forgotten whenever American righties commence their mendacious chants about US “retreats” in the face of “terrorism.”


Life After Birth

So today we must confront the fact that the American people seem at present prepared to elevate to the apex of the executive a couple of faith-addled embryo-embracers.

It is right, therefore, to consider a country constrained by the sort of abortion and contraception policies condoned by the dynamic duo of John McCain and Sarah Palin, who would place the egg upon an altar.

To do so it is not necessary to re-examine the US in the age before Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade. A more recent example is available. That would be Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu, a reign terminated on Christmas Day of 1989. In Ceausescu’s Romania, “life” was protected from the moment of conception, as McCain and Palin would protect it here. In Ceausescu’s Romania, a woman was permitted to abort a fetus only if her very life were in danger; McCain and Palin would here permit an abortion only under such a circumstance.


Eros In Gaza

Islam, like the other major religion to crib its god from Judaism, Christianity, has been shaped by its potentates to require of believers an unnatural and unhealthy sexuality. To remain true to the tenets of the faith, Muslims, like Christians, must continuously repress or redirect sexual impulses.

A piece in Sunday’s New York Times suggests that in Hamas-controlled Gaza, people are becoming increasingly resistant to Islamic sexual authoritarianism. They devour Noor, a Turkish TV soap opera steamy with premarital sex, despite the fact that Gazan clerics have pronounced fatwas against those who would view it. In music shops, audiotapes praising the virtue and piety of Hamas gather dust, spurned by purchasers who scurry home instead with CDs and DVDs featuring a pouty, beckoning Jennifer Lopez. Alongside the Koran, booksellers hawk sex-instruction manuals and Arabic translations of Harlequin romances.

A skinny boy with bad teeth, manning the book tables the other morning, grinned when a woman came by and thumbed through What to Do if You Have Weaknesses in Sex.

Pointing to the religious books, she asked “do many people buy those?”

“Sure,” the boy said.

“These, too?” she asked, gesturing toward a stack of flimsy softcovers with a picture of the young Cheryl Tiegs on the front.

“Oh yes!” he said.

Hamas officials are not particularly pleased with these developments. But they are losing. As the Times reporter interviews a Hamas leader in a restaurant, songs by Steely Dan waft over the patio—”Steely Dan” an American rock band that derived its name from a dildo.


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September 2008