Category Archives: Op-Ed Articles

Out of the Mouths of Babes… and Evildoers

Bush calls on all nations to end torture

Seriously… he did

I find listening to all this torture talk to be, well, torturous…  sort of like sitting through an entire airing of Fox & Friends in the morning.  The United States does not torture.  Instead, we simply redefine torturethe definition of torture then call it “enhanced interrogation techniques”.  At the same time, the Justice Department hires lawyers with no morals and directs them to provide legal rationale for breaking the law so that we can torture some terrorist into tying Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, thereby obtaining “evidence” to justify an unjustifiable war.  Oh, and by the way, interrogation experts agree that torture doesn’t work… unless, of course, your intent is to get the prisoner to confess to whatever you (or The White House) want.

Torture is torture.  Waterboarding is torture.  It was defined as such a long time ago.  In fact, did you know waterboarding used to be a crime in the U.S. during pre-Bush times?  Of course you did, so why ignore the facts now?  According to a Washington Post article, after World War II the U.S. convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war (it was called the water cure by the Japanese).  As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the “water cure” to question Filipino guerrillas.  In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners’ civil rights by forcing confessions through the use of waterboarding.

Whether you call them enhanced interrogation techniques OR freedom tickles,  it doesn’t matter.  This shouldn’t even enter into the debate, but the Right Wing hawks are doing a good job of keeping it in the forefront.  They specialize in scaring the shit out of the public in order to get what they want.  But the question that needs to be answered is, torture-with-bush11“Did the Bush Administration break the law by using torture?” Unfortunately, I have a feeling the Bush Administration is guilty of far greater crimes than torture. Torture was just a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda.  The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality [quote from Frank Rich New York Times Op-Ed] .  But let’s at least call for further investigation; otherwise, we’re most certainly setting a precedent making lawful what has always been unlawful [from rogerhollander.wordpress.com].

Anyway, I can’t count how many times I recall President G.W. Bush telling the nation and the rest of the world that the United States does not torture.  But his statement on International Day in Support of Torture Victims in 2003 was, in retrospect, disingenuous at best. [re-printed below – source is HERE]

So all you holier-than-thou neo-cons out there who think it’s all of a sudden “ok” to torture “those people” should ask yourself, “Who would Jesus torture?” Interestingly enough, this Pew Research Center poll indicates the Jesus crowd is more than willing to support the use of torture.  Note to self:  Never EVER get picked up by a religious dog-catcher.

WAG THE DOGWe bark… you decide!

(Statement on International Day in Support of Torture Victims)

Bush Calls Torture “an Affront to Human Dignity Everywhere”

President Bush says torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere, and the United States is committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

In a statement issued on United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture June 26, the president called on all governments to join in prohibiting, investigating and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment.

Following is the text of Bush’s statement:
(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 26, 2003

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Today, on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the United States declares its strong solidarity with torture victims across the world. Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.

Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since 1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.

Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors. Until recently, Saddam Hussein used similar means to hide the crimes of his regime. With Iraq’s liberation, the world is only now learning the enormity of the dictator’s three decades of victimization of the Iraqi people. Across the country, evidence of Baathist atrocities is mounting, including scores of mass graves containing the remains of thousands of men, women, and children and torture chambers hidden inside palaces and ministries. The most compelling evidence of all lies in the stories told by torture survivors, who are recounting a vast array of sadistic acts perpetrated against the innocent. Their testimony reminds us of their great courage in outlasting one of history’s most brutal regimes, and it reminds us that similar cruelties are taking place behind the closed doors of other prison states.

The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their diplomacy. I further urge governments to join America and others in supporting torture victims’ treatment centers, contributing to the UN Fund for the Victims of Torture, and supporting the efforts of non-governmental organizations to end torture and assist its victims.

No people, no matter where they reside, should have to live in fear of their own government. Nowhere should the midnight knock foreshadow a nightmare of state-commissioned crime. The suffering of torture victims must end, and the United States calls on all governments to assume this great mission.

(end text)

Sarah Palin: Me Talk Pretty One Day

In true Wag the Dog Blog style, I’m providing my analysis of last Thursday night’s VP debate about four days late.  What can I say?  I’ve been busy… busy watching mindless Right Wing hacks (I believe they call themselves “pundits” and/or “Republican strategists”) try their darndest to convince me that Governor Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President of the United States.  Some even say — with a straight face mind you — that she is even more qualified to be president than Senator Barack Obama is.  Seriously?  So you’re saying a person is qualified to be president if their resume includes:  local TV sports anchor, four (4) years on a city council, six (6) years as a mayor of a town of 9,000 residents, and two (2) years as governor of a state of 650,000 people?  Really?  And would you still feel this way if I told you that you just described Jesse Ventura’s experience?  Well, Ventura actually has MORE experience than Palin… you see, instead of “local TV sports anchor” Ventura was “cross-dressing pro wrestler”, he was the mayor of a Minnesota community of approx. 72,000 people for four (4) years before a he was a one-term Governor of Minnesota (population 5M+ residents).   So, I want to see Karl Rove’s treasonous ass on Fox News espousing the virtues of the depth and breadth of Jesse Ventura’s “executive” experience.

Anyway, what intrigues me most is how wildly popular Governor Palin is and how someone could watch the VP debate and actually come away from the experience firmly believing Palin won.  By what standard are these people measuring Palin’s performance?  Sure, for a “hocky mom”, she kicked ass.  And even for a “small town mayor” and city council member, she performed very well.  As a half-term governor of one of the least populated states in the nation, Palin’s performance was at best passable.  But as a candidate for the second highest office in the land, she was horrifyingly bad.  The fact that she didn’t puke all over herself seems to be enough for most of the Right Wing pundits to pronounce the debate a “victory” (sort of like George Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” fiasco of 2003).  It’s obvious Palin had her talking points memorized, and she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of delivering them (not even those pesky questions from moderator, Gwen Ifill). As columnist Bob Herbert wrote, “For Ms. Palin, such things as context, syntax and the proximity of answers to questions have no meaning.” [source]  And I heard today that Governor Palin should be renamed “Governor Palindrome” because her sentences make as much sense backwards as they do forward.  I highly recommend the David Sedaris book, Me Talk Pretty One Day, to Ms. Palin.  It might help her in her career.  In the meantime, enjoy this flowchart I found after the VP debate.

Anyway, my theory for Governor Palin’s popularity did not take much thought.  In fact, I assume most of my readers agree it’s not hard to figure out why she’s able to draw larger crowds than McCain.  Let’s face it – McCain is 72 years old going on 103.  He’s old, dusty and is pastier than the freeze-dried dog turds I find in my backyard after the spring thaw each year (and he’s even less inspiring than those turds).  And in light of the talking points the McCain campaign handed Palin after the VP debate (you know the ones designed to scare the sh!t out of you by linking Obama to terrorism), it’s more accurate to refer to her crowd of admirers as a “lynch mob.”  It seems as though “radical” is the new “N-word” in 2008 because the McCain campaign, with the help of douchebags like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, are trying very hard to convince you that Obama is “too radical” to lead.

Here’s my theory.  Palin supporters can be divided into four (4) general categories:

1) Someone living in what I call “The Mullet Zone”.  The Mullet Zone consists of the entire Bible Belt and extends directly northward from Oklahoma through Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas… then creeps eastward through parts of Minnesota into the Rust Belt… plus, it includes pretty much all of Alaska.  Mostly middle- or working-class folk, these are the very people for whom the Democratic party platform is meant to help.  But while they are apparently not bitter (who would say such a thing, right?), these folk tend to only worry about the government takin’ their guns away… or they vote solely on one issue (that’d be abortion)… and they are deathly afraid of homosexuals (not to mention people of color).  To them, wearing a flag pin, waving a flag, or calling Senator Obama a “terrorist” is way more patriotic than educating themselves on issues of great importance to the future of our country (which is why they’d blindly vote for a ridiculously unprepared person who is “one 72 year old cancer survivor’s heartbeat away from the presidency…”).  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart actually went to Wasilla, Alaska, and interviewed some of these fine folks (no offense to my Alaskan pal, Sir Blue LeDeux and his family… I know y’all don’t live in Wasilla, so I figured it’s alright posting this).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2) Young, low-information voters who are primarily males that think of Palin more as a MILF than they do as a potential VP.  They sit around playing drinking games during the debates (shot-gunning a beer each time Palin or McCain says “maverick” or “victory”).  They high-five each other and say the phrase, “Drill, Baby, Drill!” each time Ms. Palin gives the camera a wink and a nod.  Adding, “I’d hit that!”

3) Men who are similar to #2 above minus the part about the drinking game.  These guys are typically middle-aged or retired, but not in every case… some are simply lonely and all of them are angry.  They all thought Ms. Palin was winking at them during the debate.  It’s likely most of these fellows could have been found last Thursday night sitting in their underwear in front of the TV enjoying a bag of Cheetos while watching the VP debate.  And, you guessed it… their tighty whiteys had a nice orange hue following the airing.  Case in point, National Review columnist Rich Lowry…

LINK TO VIDEO IS HERE

4) Die hard Republicans who will never vote outside their party, even if it means four more years of doom and gloom for them, their children and grandchildren.  Thanks, Grandma…

And to steal a page from the Republican Fear-mongering Handbook, let me show you what’s hanging in the halls of the Minnesota State Capitol building.  Now imagine this is a picture of Sarah Louise Heath Palin hanging in the Oval Office of The White House.  If this doesn’t scare you, then nothing will… but I’ll try to find ya some other reasons to be fearful, and I’ll bring ’em to ya… “Maverick”.

If you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, then enjoy this Keith Olbermann Special Comment about Governor Palin…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Countdown with Keith OlbermannCountdo…“, posted with vodpod

No Interest in Free Cash

Looky-loos fail to take advantage of Opinion Outpost 

What’s the deal, folks?  Ever since we added a link to Opinion Outpost, an online survey company that pays us real cash to take online surveys, we’ve had a few people visit the site… but not one single person has signed up!  What gives?  It’s incredibly easy.  In fact, we have memberships with two other survey sites in addition to Opinion Outpost, and we earn some extra cash to help pay for our (daily) trips to Starbucks.   

The following chart shows the number of points we’ve earned since joining Opinion Outpost last December.  Each point is equal to 10 cents, so we’ve accumulated nearly $125 since joining (we cashed in $50 last month and received a check within 3 weeks).  Plus, we just picked up $8 this morning for a 15 minute survey about our home mortgage company (rating the company on a variety of criteria): 

Earnings Points Cash Value
Points Earned Since Joining
1242
$124.20
Points Redeemed So Far
500
   $50.00 
Current Balance
742
  $74.20

The following chart shows the number of people who have  signed-up (0), followed by the number of confirmed accounts (people who signed up, THEN completed their first survey = 0).  The last number represents how many “clicks” our Opinion Outpost advertisement receives on each date (consistently between 1 and 4 clicks per day):

Campaign

Signups Confirmed Clicks
01/22/2008
0
0
4
01/23/2008
0
0
2
01/25/2008
0
0
1
01/27/2008
0
0
2
01/29/2008
0
0
3
01/31/2008
0
0
2
02/01/2008
0
0
1
02/02/2008
0
0
1
02/03/2008
0
0
2
02/05/2008
0
0
1
02/06/2008
0
0
1
02/07/2008
0
0
1
02/09/2008
0
0
2
02/10/2008
0
0
1
02/11/2008
0
0
2
02/12/2008
0
0
1
02/13/2008
0
0
1
Totals:
0
0
28
So, you can make extra cash – albeit not a lot – just for signing up at Opinion Outpost.  You’ll complete a profile so the site can match you up with existing survey needs, and then the surveys just start showing up in your email.  We get 1-3 surveys per day.  Sometimes we don’t “qualify” (meaning our demographics don’t match the survey needs), so we don’t earn any cash. But we typically make a few bucks each day.  Most importantly, if you sign up and start taking surveys — we make money off of you!  And isn’t making money off of other people the American Dream?  So, stop being a looky-loo and start earning cash!  Seriously.  Would you please go sign up? 
Thank you in advance for your support of poor dogs everywhere!

We held our caucus, and boy are our paws tired

Editorial by Bogart

With the 2008 presidential primaries in full swing, we at Wag the Dog feel it’s an appropriate time to make an endorsement.  We’ve looked at all the candidates from both parties and have decided to skip over endorsing a single candidate from each side and, instead, will be endorsing a complete ticket for the 2008 Presidential election.  We’ve held our caucuses and feel we’ve rubbed out the winning ticket.  We’re endorsing Obama dodd Biden. This Dream Team offers hope, a chance for change, and it includes a couple rich white guys over the age of 65 for that “experience factor” cnn-osama-obama.jpg(because we know how you Republican voters just LOVE having rich, old white guys run the country).  But mostly, the ticket will wreak havoc on the 24-hour cable news networks that have yet been able to figure out how to mention Barack Obama’s name without slipping in an “Osama” or “Hussein” into their fox-osama-obama.jpgcoverage.  Fox News and its clan of loyal, misinformed viewers will most likely get the most mileage out of our endorsement, not to mention the patriots responsible for facilitating the Obama smear campaign by forwarding emails that ignorantly portray Obama as a former Madrassa student who is now a radical Muslim who won’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance or show reverence to the American flag.  Or the email that Obama’s church is a racist church that excludes non-blacks.  Haven’t these people heard of Snopes.com by now?

Frankly, the decision to endorse Obama dodd Biden wasn’t difficult.  After Obama won the Iowa Caucus, you could almost hear the Good ‘Ole Boys on The Right saying, “this black fella’s on to something with his change mantra.”  Pretty soon the Reagan incarnates are arguing on stage about who can affect the most change as President of the United States.  Please tell me how going back to the 1980’s and the same old Republican way of tax cuts for the rich, the elimination of a middle class, and creating “small government” by creating a massive national debt equates to change?  Or, is this the Ronald Reagan these yahoos are talking about? 

Unfortunately, something tells me it’s not.  And these same Reagan wannabes all try to distance themselves from Bush but vow to continue the Bush foreign policy (i.e., The Surge, occupying foreign lands, bombing everybody, ignoring the Constitution, outsourcing America to Halliburton and Blackwater).  How is this change?  And then there’s Hillary (or Billary or Hillbilly or whatever).  How is keeping the power in the hands of a few who happen to be named “Bush” or “Clinton” going to make a difference?  It’s time to take back America, people! 

At Wag the Dog, we’d like to remain independent.  But it’s hard.  It really is.  At Comedy Central’s Last Laugh 2007 television event, host Lewis Black hit the nail on the head when he commented on the last 15 years by saying, “…if you are (still an ardent Democrat or Republican), my hat is off to you because you’re living in a delusion that I can’t even conceive of.” [source]  The time for change is now, and that’s why we endorse Obama dodd Biden.  Or Edwards.  He’d be a good choice, too.  Plus, we like his hair.