J. Good morning, and welcome to The Mojowire, Vol. 2, No.10... I'm Mojo...
S. And I'm Sean, it's Saturday, June 11, 2004, Day 1,163 of the Neocon Captivity, and here's the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, we take a cranky look at the beatification of St. Ron. Crude cargo cult behavior has suddenly sprung up with people wanting to rename buildings, put him on money, carve him into Mt. Rushmore, snag a fingerbone for the familiy reliquary... never fear, the Wire goes straight to the French philosopher card for our take, stay tuned.
J. Next, we look at extactly why we should be counting our blessings federal bench nominees get beat down like punks by Democrats when Maximum W names taps these choads to interpret our laws. Just look at the memos being pumped out by this gang of Dr. Strangelaws from Justice, contorting the law to make it safe for the Prez order people to be tortured to death.
S. Then Strychnine is on hiatus this morning, shoveling coal into the station steam furnaces to move to a higher, more stable orbit. In place of his regular horror this moring, we will have a screed demonstrating why next year, we will be going to Texas to cheer them on when they have their secession day rally. "Texas, it's like a whole other planet!"
J. Finally this morning, we break down the Kerry health plan and discuss a big reason why we all need to step away from the glowing visions of St. Ron and think about some bigger issues for a few minutes, because, trust us, the current hive brain trying to run the country isn't expending a micro-erg of energy on planning for your well being.
…So stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
THE PASSION OF THE RON
J. I served in Ronald Reagan's military, lived through his recession, gritted my teeth at his administration, so in his passing, let me hearken back to the immortal words of Voltaire who said "To the living one owes respect, to the dead, one owes only truth" and in that vein let me say: His body should have been dumped in the trunk of a 1971, mold-green Chevy Nova, driven out to the desert, rolled into a dry arroyo and forgotten.
Okay, then... Now that I got that off my chest, let's talk a little bit about the beatification of St. Ron. By the way, does anyone actually know where I can get a finger bone? I am a little down on my luck and that's supposed to be some powerful ugly mojo there. Especially if I can get the one he's wagging when he's telling Soviet Premiere Gorbachev to invade East Germany with construction workers to tear down an international border, I'll bet that thing can shoot lightning or ice rays or something... that would rule!
Okay, then... Now I feel better. Well, no ... not really, but that will have to do. Mike's lookin' a little nervous. Sorry, perhaps that was just a reaction to the whole mythologizing of St. Gipper's time that has caused a psychological backlash for me.
Look, we think its fine to honor the passing of a President of the United States. Our main beef, as you may have already surmized, oh wise Wireheads, is with the concept of myth creation, so let's get this right out here in the open; Reagan was a bad actor, a lousy President, and a half bright racist who surrounded himself with pimps and thugs and ran the White House like a cross between a Spy vs. Spy cartoon and corporate brothel.
Personally, we have no problem with all the ceremony surrounding the President's passing and the rememberances and all the rest of it. But why can't they just leave it at that; the guy was President, he did some stuff, some of it good (although, honestly I'm blanking on the whole good part at the moment, but I sure there must have been something), and then just leave it be.
Why the mythology creation? Well, stand by boys and girls, because that's not a rhetorical question, there is a right and wrong answer there. Hearken back to our rants last week about the creation of mythology surrounding veterans... what was the theme there? Anyone? Anyone? It was about misappropriating someone else's life for your own personal political gain.
How soon before we start seeing tabloid papers with headlines that read "Ronald Reagan appears before group of frightened farmers in Iowa, bids them "fear not," burns his image into the side of prize heiffers."
How long before we start seeing billboards asking "What Would Reagan Do?" Of course, anyone who was paying attention during the 80s knows what Reagan would have done, farmed the thing out to political Luca Brazzi Lee Atwater and his Attorney General Ed Meese, who would have then proceeded to violate as many laws as possible while The Gipper took yet another nap in the oval office.
So let's not forget one crucial thing here. No matter what you see, read, or hear regarding The Gipper right now from the White House or the Republican spin machine and their minions at FOX News and elsewhere, it is all about one thing, the perpetuation of the current political power structure through the use of myth and revisionist history.
These people could not care less about Reagan or the reality of his Presidency; it is all about getting over on you the American voter, and if we have to pack you in fuzzy sweet marzipan, with lilting violins and soft focus photos of a noble looking man on horse back, or standing in front a vast American flag, his hair slicked back in a freshening breeze, eyes gazing off into a bright future, a forehead proudly jutting to proclaim the supremacy of the American ideal, all to the point we become drooling idiots barely able to contain our crazed idolotry, then that's the way it's going to be!
And if you have any doubts about that little parable, just trot yourself over to the Bush relelection website, www.GeorgeWBush.com and check out their front page. It is a 900 foot Ronald Reagan; a tawdry political exercise in cheap hackery, thinly disguised as an homage to a distinguished American.
As Maximum Leader eulogized Friday: "And he believed in taking a break now and then, because, as he said, there's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse." ... Yeah... Best not to think too much about that.
S. I remember many years ago, when mojo, Strychnine and I went to the Republican National Convention in San Diego, where mojo was actually working as a reporter at that time. Mrs. Gipper gave this sachrine heart string tugger of a performance on the dais like some weird piece of performance art, that was designed to soften up the crowd for the harsh reality of Bob Dole.
I remember us sitting down in a bar, and strychnine recording the words of mojo when he wrote:
"During the tribute to Ronald Reagan, while his wife Nancy was glitching on the dais, I was in the Vision 96 Tactical Command Center watching it through a stereogram of CNN and C-SPAN. I remember Mojo saying, "I hope his senility is a waking nightmare of broken and maimed Nicaraguan children, dead and dying AIDS patients, and the innocent civilians terrorized with the arms sold to Iran. I hope the rest of his unnatural life is one unbroken string of horrifying hallucinations that haunt the empty rooms of what remains of his mind."
Harsh words indeed, and Strychnine was correct in pointing out that this mentality was not one good people could sustain for long. It had been a tough few days for Mojo and Strychnine up that point.
We are having the same reaction right now, and if the rhetoric is a little harsh, then that is the reason. We are rebelling against the beatification of the guy who ran up the national debt to unprecedented amounts, while engaging in massive tax increases, mostly on the poorest Americans, while stripping those same poor of much of their social safety net, who wanted to institute a theocracy and damn near started a nuclear war.
You want more? This is the guy who swore there would be no swap of arms for hostages, then doing just that, instructing his people to circumvent U.S. law to aid terrorists in Central America, arming and training the same middle eastern terrorists who later went on to form the organization that flew jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
And well do we remember the slogans, "The Pride is Back!", "It's Morning Again in America..." Sure, as long as you were upper-middle class white folks. Hey, it was great to feel good about being American. That was all good. It would have been nice if the President and his flying chimp brigade in his West Wing would have respected that enough to do what was right instead of what was ideologically popular.
Reagan presided over a time when cynicism replaced intellect, cruelty replaced cool and money was mistaken for spirituality.
And now there is talk of renaming buildings, carving him on Mount Rushmore, and one local half-bright Congressman wants to restart the U.S. Civil War and replace Andy Jackson's grill on the 10 dollar bill with Reagan's.
Look, enough is enough! The guy is gone, let the historians get on with their violent debates over his legacy and let's get on with things. But the truth and reality of what is happening is much more painful. The mythology will be so firmly enculturated, so strongly transmitted, that the truth of things will become obfuscated and downright ostracized and we will all be poorer for it.
The legacy will be a lie, and no one will dare contradict in publicly, except for a few who will be officially marginalized with rhetoric branding them "traitors" and "malcontents." No one will be able to question the official story of St. Ron, as told in the big-type book with the color illustrations suitable for the whole family, avaialble at the St. Ron's gift store for only $39.95, next to the St. Ron Concourse in the St. Ron National Shrine and Holy Burial Ground.
It is fitting, then, perhaps that Regan's ultimate legacy might well be the final triumph of political style over substance, helped by people who have neither a need nor a respect for the truth. Indeed, it has been the meta-prinicple guiding the GOP ever since 1982. And a vital piece of our history will be lost forever.
THEY PUT THE 'TORT' IN TORTURE
J. As anyone who has been following the news for the last couple of days might have come to see, there have been memos leaked from the Justice Department and the Department of Defense, dating back to 2002, describing in detail the legal arguments on why the President can order people to be beaten to death, but that if the President orders it, it can't be torture.
We intercepted the memos and asked our legal team of Hamurabi, Aquinas and Darrow, LLC to sit down and analyze the legal niceties of the Geneva Convention and U.S. Law has it applies to a President giving commands during a period of hostilities with non-state and demi-state actors.
When the laughter died down, they wrapped the memos in some raw meat and threw them into a cage where they keep the junior associate attorneys. We turned away not wanting to view the resulting spectacle of legal feeding...the sounds were enough to make us fear.
Our legal team assured us that there was one thing and only one thing that any of these memos had in common, and it was not a respect for the rule of law. These memos, without ever reading them, could be seen for what they were: get out of jail free cards for the Prez. and his gang, should, in the unlikely event of, ohhh...I don't know, video and pictures of U.S. troops torturing people to death, ever surface, the kitchen door would have to be left ajar and the engine running in the car out in the alley for Maximum Leader.
This really started when the President's most recent nominee for the bench to be on the business end of a public beating on the town square, Albert Gonzalez penned a little treatise a few years back on how the President is not really beholden to U.S. law as long as he can somehow say he was trying to save lives by torturing "bad guys."
Oh yeah... this is a guy I wanted on the federal bench interpreting U.S. law. Jeez, no wonder the Prez didn't want the ABA helping vet his judicial nominations. And suddenly, it would appear we owe Tom Daschle a little more respect for taking such a hard line on these jack-booted punks when they rolled up on the Senate.
This was followed by the Yoo memos. John Yoo, deputy assistant attorney general and chief bottle washer, was asked by the DoD to let them know how far they could go in torturing people in Afghanistan before they were in danger violating the law.
Now sure, there was all sorts of talk about the 1949 Geneva Convention, Article III of the U.S. Constitution delineating Presidential war powers, The War Crimes Act enrolled as18 U.S.C §2441 and the International Law Court case of Nicaragua v. United States, 1986. But we can get right past all that straight to the heart of this thing and say that in Attorney Yoo's learned opinion, we can torture anyone we want as long as claim their Al Qaeda operatives, and as far as torturing the Taliban goes, sure it's okay, they weren't signatories to anything anyway and most of them didn't wear uniforms.
And you know, there is something that is extra-special chilling about that last part. They didn't wear uniforms of a recognized military force, so it was okay to torture them. Or to put another way, we can torture all the civilians we want, as long as we make a claim to their combatant status.
It was in these documents and then the later working paper by Rummy's gang of bloodless ghouls in the Pentagon that began the United States' foray into organized torture as foreign policy.
And it's really a little embarassing for mojo and I, because we went around and around with Strychnine many times on this subject. We all know torture produces lousy intelligence, and the political fall out would be catastrophic if it ever came to light...such were our arguments.
Well, strychnine, please feel free to help yourself to a big steaming cup of "I Told You So" on us.
S. You really have to get into the 6 March, 2003, memo to see how queer this legal argument becomes to allow torture. For instance, the 1994 Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. is a signatory, although with "reservations" states specifically that torture is a specific intent crime.
That is to say that there must be what lawyers call Mens Rea, or criminal intent along with the act. The actions had to be intended to cause severe physicalor mental pain.
The convention also says that all the signatory parties must take care to exercise prohibitis against torture within their terrirtory under their jurisdiction.
Well, you see where these arguements are going, even if they are such bald faced lies that not even the Chewbacca defense could save them in court. We didn't really *mean* to torture any of these guys, we were just havin' a little fun and things got kinda outta hand.
I mean this is the same kind of arguements these guys used to beat rape and battery charges when they were frat boys in college...just a little harmless fun gone too far. But even if that's not the case, they were okay because none of this happened in the direct terrirtorial control of the United States. Again, this is a bald faced lie because of the Gitmo tortures, but they will claim that's a special extra-dimensional worm-hole jurisidiction and they cannot be prosecuted for that.
And even if all of the above were considered and they were still going to do serious time for crimes against humanity, well, there's always the lawless state, coup d'tat card.
"The Department of Justice has concluded that customary international law cannot bind the Executive Branch under the Consitituion, because it is not federal law. In particular, the Department of Justice has opined that "under clear Supreme Court precendent, any presidential decision in the current conflict concerning the detenion and trial of al-Qaida or Taliban militia prisoners would constitute a "controlling" Executive act that would immediately and completely override any customary international law."
This, in itself is interesting since the Evil Dr. Strangelaw, Professor Yoo in the previous memo said that treaties are specifically binding contracts between country and the Constitution recognizes them as such.
But there is an even more interesting part about this. This last paragraph we quoted can also be translated as: "If the President orders a National Guard private to hook you up to a hummer battery and rev the engine until sparks fly out your butt for the amusement of visiting brass from CentCom, the it's perfectly legal because to do so is not an expressly forbidden act by the President in the Constitution."
Dispassionate hyperbole aside, though. This is also a tacit acknowledgement that the order does in fact stop at the President's desk and that he is the one who needs the legal authority to make the decision for the aforementioned torture.
And now we've got ourselves a ballgame. Because the fact also remains that there are laws on the books against torture, and if the wiggly geographical arguements are not enough to get them out of this jam, then they are legally cooked.
Time to warm up the hotseat for impeachment. All of them, every last one, and as far as we're concerned, most of Congress are unindicted co-conspirators. Ask your Congressman what he did to try to hold the President accountable for committing war crimes in the in the name of the American people.
If any of this is so, then by the end of business Monday, I want to see W, Jethro, Granny and Ellie May all packed up on the jalopy and headed back down I-95 towards Texas, where the Texas Rangers will stop him at the border and haul his punk-ass off to jail for the rest of his life.