It's often been said that all politics are local. Boy, do I ever hope that's the case after reading this in today's Chronicle, courtesy of Associated Press:
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes rooster boxing
If you read that and thought to yourself, "Why would some Oklahoma lawmaker be in favor of putting a rooster in a box?" I have bad news for you. We aren't talking about that kind of boxing, my friend.
The article continues:
With cockfighting now banned in Oklahoma, one legislator is proposing a blood-free alternative: fitting roosters with little boxing gloves and letting them slug it out.
"Who's going to object to chickens fighting like humans do? Everybody wins," said Democratic state Sen. Frank Shurden, a protector of the gamefowl industry and a longtime defender of cockfighting, in which birds are fitted with razor-like spurs and often battle to the death.
Obviously, being a Democrat in Oklahoma is slightly different than being a Democrat in many other parts of America. It's not like Barbara Boxer, despite her surname, is currently trying to figure out a way to put boxing gloves on a chicken. At least we don't think she is.
SPEAKING OF SENATOR BABS, kudos to her for acknowledging the masses at the Daily Kos blog. Boxer was one of only two senators on the foreign-relations committee -- John Kerry being the other one -- to vote against the confirmation of Condoleeza Rice as secretary of state, and she did so partly because members of the Daily Kos community called on her to do it.
"You gave me the voice I needed to ask the tough questions during Dr. Rice's confirmation hearings," blogged Boxer on the Kos site today. "And you gave the entire United States Senate the voice it needed to take its 'advice and consent' responsibility seriously. In fact, Condoleezza Rice received 13 votes against her confirmation -- the most votes against any Secretary of State's nomination since 1825."
Granted, Rice also received 85 votes in favor of her confirmation and was sworn in today. That's somewhat beside the point. The fact is, unlike many of the Democrats who have been polluting Congress over the past decade or so, our elected representatives didn't all just roll over and let the Bill Frists of the world rub our bellies. Boxer at least threw some tough questions in Rice's face.
The vote will be much closer for attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales, but Chicken George's personal King of Pain is expected to gain confirmation 55-44, based on party lines. Gonzales, a longtime legal advisor to Dear Leader who has spent a fair amount of taxpayer dollars trying to figure out ways to keep Bush administration officials from being prosecuted for war crimes, is a woefully underqualified blind loyalist. In other words, he is a typical Bush appointee.
Unfortunately, those brave "independent" Republicans that we always hear so much about -- the John McCains of the world -- will ignore their responsibilities to the nation when it comes time to confirm Gonzales. I can't wait to see how McCain, who spent five years as a prisoner of war, plans to justify his support for Gonzales, whose lack of regard for the Geneva Convention allowed the tortures at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo Bay (we're getting to that in just a moment) to take place. Watching McCain consistently sell his soul to the Bush family has been one of the great political sidebars of the past four years.
WHILE KEEPING IN MIND exactly what contributions Gonzales has made to the Bush administration, kindly realize that our treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is on his list. And that makes this report from the Associated Press all the more disturbing.
"Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account," writes AP journalist Paisley Dodds today.
Anyone wondering why the rest of the world thinks we suck yet?
In another case, (former Army Sgt. Erik) Saar describes a female military interrogator questioning an uncooperative 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken flying lessons in Arizona before the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Suspected Sept. 11 hijacker Hani Hanjour received pilot instruction for three months in 1996 and in December 1997 at a flight school in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"His female interrogator decided that she needed to turn up the heat," Saar writes, saying she repeatedly asked the detainee who had sent him to Arizona, telling him he could "cooperate" or "have no hope whatsoever of ever leaving this place or talking to a lawyer.'"
The man closed his eyes and began to pray, Saar writes.
The female interrogator wanted to "break him," Saar adds, describing how she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting T-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent erection.
The detainee looked up and spat in her face, the manuscript recounts.
The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.
Strict interpretation of Islamic law forbids physical contact with women other than a man's wife or family, and with any menstruating women, who are considered unclean.
"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," says the draft, stamped "Secret."
The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Saar writes.
"She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee," he says. "As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred.
"She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward" — so fiercely that he broke loose from one ankle shackle.
"He began to cry like a baby," the draft says, noting the interrogator left saying, "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."
Lt. Col. James Marshall, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, responded to this story by saying all detainees are treated "humanely and consistent with U.S. legal obligations."
Gonzales is the man who has been interpreting U.S. legal obligations for Dear Leader at Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, and even back during the good ol' days in Texas, when Bush never met a death-row convict who deserved to live based on Alberto's briefs. And now, Alberto Gonzales is about to become the attorney general of the United States.
Suddenly, John Ashcroft's four-year crusade against naked boobies doesn't sound so bad, does it?
FINALLY TONIGHT, just so it's out there, I'd like to point out that no pro-Democrat or pro-liberal group, governmental or otherwise, has paid me for this blog.
I just thought I'd bring it up, since we've learned in the past two weeks that Bush administration officials have paid more than $250,000 of our taxpayer dollars to conservative commentators in exchange for favorable media treatment of their faulty policies.
As seems to be the case with every scandal that tracks back to Bush, contemporary Americans don't seem to care that the government is paying journalists to express a particular opinion. But why would they? "American Idol" just started up a new season.
Thankfully, someone is paying attention. Although it's staggering to think that we'd need such a thing, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has just introduced a bill currently being called "The Propaganda Prohibition Act," which promises to ban covert federal propaganda campaigns and require the disclosure of all federal PR contracts. Like, just to cite two examples, supposed "journalists" Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher.
And yeah, this stands somewhere around zero chance of passing, meaning more than 200 Republicans in the House are actually going to have the nerve to vote to preserve the government's right to spend taxpayer money on domestic political propaganda.
It's not that I won't sell out. It's that I simply haven't done so yet. Just so you know.