I Sure Am Glad They Finally Killed That Bastard Saddam Hussein

I walked out of my house Saturday morning and was surprised to see fog lingering in my neighborhood’s streets. I thought that bastard Saddam Hussein was responsible for fog, I thought. How could there be fog since they finally killed that bastard Saddam Hussein?

Regardless, I sure am glad they finally killed that bastard Saddam Hussein.

Sigh. Actually, I’m not. For the past few days, I’ve been trying to think about how to write something with this level of sarcasm, but I really don’t think I can get away with it much longer than two paragraphs. The truth is, I just wanted to see that headline. Because I think the headline is funny. That might tell you a bit about what it’s like to live in this noggin.

Honestly, though, I can’t comprehend many, many things about Saddam’s end. For starters: In whose reality was hanging Saddam Hussein a wise strategic move in the “war” on “terror?” I mean, in my mind—I know, I know, I’m just a humble Web monkey by day, so what the hell do I know—in my mind, we’ve just ceded a powerful tool to, um, “them.” Alive and captive, Saddam was really useful to nobody but us. Strung up, he is useful as a martyr, a martyr any organization, no matter what they thought of Alive Saddam, can appropriate.

As it happens, one of the witnesses to the execution—the most recent reports are saying it’s Iraq’s National Security Advisor—is a pretty good shutterbug. The footage shows that one or some of the witnesses were chanting at Saddam, chanting “macaca” at him. As you can imagine, people were outraged.

But, seriously: It’s amazing, isn’t it? Let’s be honest: The death of Saddam was one of the primary goals of our invasion of Iraq. In fact, the operation launched with an attempt on the man’s life. But it appears that the utter incompetence and also the lack of competence that have colored this whole, oh, how you say, “fiasco,” have managed to creep in here, too. Who could have imagined the ridiculous notion that the execution itself would require an investigation? Unbelievable.

It’s been reported that the current president will in a week share with the American people what he intends to do to “fix” Iraq. The question remains, why, oh why in the wide wide world of sports do we continue to listen to this man and/or any of the architects of this disaster? They’ve been wrong at every turn and have managed to make every part of it a farce.

We need an Iraq Study Group 2.0, to be headed by Dennis Kucinich, flanked by Howard Dean and Russ Feingold. Perhaps then, we’d have some real answers.

Joe-Mentum? Mylanta!

It’s time to throw something at the Washington Post.

I mean, I reckon that when a sitting senator submits an op-ed piece, you accept it and run it. But, still. Can someone. Anyone. Explain to me why anyone would want to listen to Joe Lieberman regarding the subject of Iraq?

It is by now, after all, pretty much the general wisdom what this blog has been saying for years and years: The War Is Stupid. And yet. Joe-Mentum has been all in favor fer it, from start to finish. And now, he’s urging for the surge.

It seems to me that yet another panel needs to be created, one meant to generate more a reasoned response to the ISG, one headed up by Dennis Kucinich, and to be filled out by other folks who have never ever supported the ridiculous invasion and occupation of Iraq.

If such a group is impaneled, I believe I could make myself available.

In the meantime: It’s time to create a rule that says that, if you voted for the 2002 Resolution or have otherwise lent support to this idiocy, how about a nice cup of shut the fuck up?

John Edwords

For the most part, I like John Edwards. I don’t happen to think he’s the Real Deal, but I don’t mind him. From what I know of him, his record, there is little in his record to object to, and he seems like the kind of guy who can press flesh with the best of them. He might be an okay candidate.

But for the KIAV Litmus Test.

Wherein: We do not support any candidate who voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

This test comes not as some peacenik nuttiness, although these days, as it happens, there is truly very little that is nutty about being a peacenik. No, the litmus test stands for a most practical reason: John Kerry. Kerry also voted in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. And it’s my belief that Kerry failed to gain an unimpeachable margin in 2004 because his position in Iraq was so very difficult to explain because he, well, you know. Was before it before he was against it. I want a Democratic candidate who agrees with me today that The War Is Stupid and had the foresight to realize that The War Was Stupid in 2002, too, and the ballz to vote up against it. That’s what I want, and why so far you see one declared candidate and one nondeclared candidate hanging up on the wall over there, and why you won’t see Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Kerry nor Mr. Edwards, who announced his candidacy today, hanging there anytime soon. We need to run someone who has shown true leadership on this issue, and I’m afraid that Edwards was one of those who got in line and said “Me too, Mr. President! Me, too! Me, too!” and forgot to ask any questions. We need more.

It Doesn’t Matter

Not to be callous toward the troops in the field, but the frustrating truth about our Iraq dilemma is that it doesn’t matter what we do there.

We may very well send a surge of additional troops. If I thought we could send enough to beat down the insurgency in an Enderian fashion—say, half a million troops or so—I would support it. Seriously. But we don’t have those kinds of resources. I must say, I have very much enjoyed the current president’s calls to grow the military, as if he has some magic wand he can just wave at it and make that happen. He has a wand, all right, but it isn’t magic. It rhymes with “belective bervice.”

We could leave. But there’s one thing the current president says that I believe: If we leave, all kinds of poop will hit the ceiling fan. The civil war will escalate. You risk invasions from all kinds of abutting nations. And, the United States loses more face and more ground in the Arab world. And, while I don’t drive Esther the Car all that much, I still wouldn’t like perhaps paying $12 a gallon for gasoline.

We could redeploy, but I’m skeptical about that option. I suspect we’d just end up having to invade all over again.

That, my friends, is why it is accurate to refer to Iraq as a “quagmire,” also known as “rock, meet hard place,” and it’s why the whole thing is so darned frustrating. There are no good options. None. As Joshua aptly noted in 1983’s “War Games,” the only winning move was not to play. Which, by the way, some of us have been saying all along.

So my hope is that the 110th Congress won’t spend a heck of a lot of time trying to frame our present Iraq policy. The current president is telegraphing quite specifically that he doesn’t intend to listen, and he can do that. I hope our new Congress will spend much of its time and resources investigating, investigating, investigating. I want the sky to turn black with subpoenas. I want impeachment hearings and war crimes tribunals. In particular, I want the Cheney Energy Task Force blown wide open: I predict that in 2007, we’re going to learn that the Task Force was central to this administration’s bit-champing.

Our new Congress needs to be a bulldawg. Hope they will.

A Style Point

When I write about this stuff, I struggle about how to refer to the man who occupies the Oval Office.

I have vacillated from wanting to at least have respect for the office to wanting to express my utter contempt for the man—I have been known to steal Stephanie Miller’s “Chimpy McCokespoon,” for instance.

It is upon reading Sarah Vowell’s excellent book, “Assassination Vacation,” that I have come across a phrase that strikes a nice balance. She writes:

“On the bus home, I flip through my Assassins program from the night before and read the director’s note. Of course talking about the murders of previous presidents is going to open the door to discussing the current president. That’s what I like to call him, ‘the current president.’ I find it difficult to say or type his name, George W. Bush. I like to call him ‘the current president’ because it’s a hopeful phrase, implying that his administration is only temporary.”

Thank you, Sarah Vowell. From now on, in this space, Chimpy will be known as “the current president.”

Dear Congressman Goode,

I am writing to you today to thank you for making all Virginia residents look like lip-doodling, drooling morons.

Your recent letter to supporters regarding the already bottom-feeding “controversy” regarding what bound stack of papers Rep.-Elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota will rest his palm upon when his photograph is taken as he pretends to be sworn in has managed somehow inexplicably to make more of this towering non-issue than has already been made of it, and you managed as well to prove yourself to be an ignoramus.

Your reaction to the Ellison story was to bring up the subject of illegal immigration, an issue that is, surprisingly, totally unrelated to the bizarre concern over this story. You see: Keith Ellison is an AMERICAN CITIZEN. He was born and reared in the United States of America. There was nothing untoward about his election, and there is no reason or law that forbids any American from serving in Congress because of religious affiliation.

Not to mention, Congressman: Why on Earth would you want a Muslim man to have his photograph taken as he pretends to be sworn in with his palm flattened down upon a Bible, a book that is not meaningful to him as he practices his faith in God? Would you not rather he pretend to swear in on the book into which he places his full faith in all its glory? I sure would.

I understand that political grandstanding using religious veracity and fear is an easy thing to do these days. It will certainly garnish you a headline or four. But, Congressman, it does not make you a good leader. And, it occurs to me that, if you’re going to participate in such grandstanding, the least you could do is lend your schtick a bit of sophistication, or, at least, a bit of humor.

Here’s a good place to start, sir: When it comes time for YOUR swearing-in ceremony, I think you should have not just one, but NINE Bibles at the ready. Place the Bibles one on top of the other, so you have to STRETCH up your hand to reach the top one to pretend to take your oath. Then, when you need a good picture for yourself to use, you can hand one to your supporters that shows that YOU LITERALLY SWORE ON A STACK OF BIBLES.

How do you like them apples?

Aaron B. Pryor
Arlington, Va.

A Modest Execution Solution

I do not believe in the death penalty. But like a lot of things I don’t believe in—the invasion and occupation of Iraq, SUVs, tax exempt churches, criminal penalties for drug use—we have them and we will continue to have them until Americans get as smart as I am. Not likely that will happen in my lifetime. So just a few thoughts on this foolishness about lethal injections that fail.

The most humane method of executing someone, from the perspective of the victim, is probably the guillotine. I suspect it is no scarier to be led up to the blade and be laid out on it than being led to a scaffold or an electric chair, or strapped to a gurney. You are aware the whole time that you are in your waning minutes, and the devices you see will kill you. At least with a Guillotine, it’s fast, and probably not very painful. I suspect the same could be said of a quick shot to the head with a 12 gauge, or a 30 Calibre bullet to the heart (which as I recall is what they do in Utah).

The problem with these quick and easy methods is that from the perspective of the killer, they leave lasting impressions. I hope I can report with some satisfaction and sense of human progress that we no longer take joy from lifting heads out of the basket and displaying them to the crowds.  Still, whacking off a head is a messy business. It would require that someone clean it up, wash down the killing room, remove the separate parts. Same for the shot to the head. Shot to the heart is less messy, but they say they use a full firing squad with only one person having a bullet, so that the shooters don’t know for sure that they caused the death…deniability, the theory is, spares the conscience. And what if one misses? (And why is it that
firing squads are queasier than hangmen?)

Hanging was for many years viewed as a humane way to do it if you tied the rope right. It is the oldest of the no muss no fuss methods. So clean in fact that lynching crowds in the American south often cut off body parts before the hanging, just for sport, and the Brits did the drawing and quartering thing.

In modern times, however, we have sought out “humane” ways to kill that did not leave a mess. The electric chair, for example. No one seemed to be too bothered by the smell of singed hair and cooked brains. In general it left an intact package that could easily be carted off. Gas was used for a while in some states,  California used it on Carrol Chessman, and the Feds used it on the Rosenbergs.

The lethal injection seems to be the perfect killing tool for those who want to think they are being humane and also want to avoid the problem of mopping up. So why is it so hard? Apparently the guy that first recommended it suggested a complex drug cocktail that would do its work fast and painlessly…but only if administered just right, which of course, no one seems to be able to do. Incompetents are everywhere, even in the killng rooms of our nation’s prisons.

Let me make a suggestion. Use morphine. Lots of it. 1,000 milligrams. Maybe More. It’s clean. Its painless, and if you screw it up the victim won’t give a shit. He’ll just ask for more.

The Blind Executing The Blind

I’ve noted this to some extent in this space before: Just being alive these days and looking around can really allow a person to witness some mind-boggling bullshit. Take, for instance, the temporary stay on executions in two states this week.

It seems that the state of Florida went to put to death the some-would-say ironically named Angel Nieves Diaz, convicted of murdering the manager of a topless bar 27 years ago, and, as it turns out, killing a person has the potential to actually cause him a bit of discomfort. It took 34 minutes and two injections, and the autopsy later showed that the reason for the delay was the the initial needle pierce went into and through the intended vein, so the initial spurt of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and/or potassium chloride, entered his tissue, not his blood.

Following this case, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, fresh from watching his Daddy cry like a wimp over him, said he’d sign no more death warrants until we can decide whether killing a person by injecting three drugs into his body might hurt if it’s not carried out in a textbook fashion, or, um, even if it is. And, quite clearly exercising his rabid commie California values, a federal court ordered that state to “revamp” its system of state-sponored killing, calling the current state of affairs “unconstitutional.”

Am I a simpleton for thinking that whether it hurts or not is not the central ethical issue to be concerned with here? Isn’t it time for the United States of America to stop dragging its knuckles on this and to catch up with all the rest of the other “civilized” nations of the world by banishing state-sponsored executions into the trash heap to join slavery, virus-laden blankets, and wiping with pine cones?

A new compelling voice is speaking about this issue: Robert Meeropol. Meeropol knows a bit of something regarding this issue. He is the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenburg. He is also a board member on the Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, a victims’ rights group that opposes the death penalty. I heard him interviewed on what seems my perennial source, The Rachel Maddow Show, last week.

Meeropol offered what to me was the most compelling argument against state-sponored executions that I’ve ever heard. This barbaric practice only gives birth to more victims, he said (I am paraphrasing). It creates more orphans, more widows, more families who’ve lost siblings and children and cousins. More hauntingly, the state-sponsored killing helps the initial shit splattered by the initial crime to end up all over the faces of the criminal’s family members. People point at and fear relatives of the condemned. So, it would seem that an execution spreads the trial, conviction, and eventual sentence, on to the innocent, spreading stigma like E. coli in a Taco Bell crudette plate.

Ghandi is reported to have said that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Here we are in this country, stumbling around like Clarisse in Buffalo Bill’s basement, still splitting hairs about how and when it’s okay for the government to end an adult’s life. The official stance is that the act itself does not violate the Eighth, but if there’s pain involved, well, lock up the guillotine.

I personally oppose the “death penalty” among other reasons because it cheapens liberty in a country supposedly built upon the principle that liberty means more to us than life. But Jeb and Judge Jeremy D. Fogel have brought yet another to light: Our awkward ethical mambo regarding the issue makes us look like a bunch of damned fools.