“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”


During an interview with PBS’s Bill Moyers last Friday, Philippe Sands, renowned international lawyer and professor at University College London, said that in interviews with key Bush administration officials for his new book, Torture Team, he found that architects of the administration’s torture program such as former Pentagon official Douglas Feith are refusing to recognize their involvement in the program. In essence, they may have been “complicit in the commission of a crime,” Sands noted. “There was not a hint of recognition that anything had gone wrong, nor a hint of recognition of individual responsibility.” In a recent House hearing, Sands said that based on Britain’s experience with the IRA, “coercion doesn’t work.” Sands said the use of torture against the IRA “extended the conflict” by 15 to 20 years, adding that “one of the great regrets that I have is that the [Bush] administration never seemed to turn for advice to its closest allies and asked them ‘what was your experience when you faced a similar situation?'” Sands also rejected the term “war on terror,” which he said “transform[s] criminals into warriors.” He said by using such language, “[Y]ou create a context in which they are able to recruit in their struggle.” (the headline caps is from the story editors not me)

We’ve been down this road before. Expert after expert has condemned torture on moral and practical grounds. For the Right torture represents some other then genuine national security concerns. Their willingness to torture is, according to the Right about showing the other side our toughness. It doesn’t matter that the argument is so obviously wrong, it takes little in the way of toughness to torture someone that is a captive under your control. Prisoners might struggle,but they are hardly able to fight back. Using torture also gives the other side tacit permission to to the same to American prisoners and use the same rationale. The fact that Bush and the neocons have thus endangered and probably contributed to the deaths of American soldiers is never brought up by the major networks in the context of their regular news reporting. In a culture that was not dominated by corporate and Right leaning media we might hear someone point out how unpatriotic and dangerous this president has been in regards to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that kind of simple rational observation has been effectively muffled.

Congratulations to Senator Obama.

The rabid Right’s grand strategy for winning the presidential election? They’re going to use Michelle Obama’s mild gaffe, Michelle Obama explains pride remark

Michelle Obama says she’s always been proud of her country, but for the first time she’s “seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven’t seen.”

She had told an audience in Milwaukee that, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.”

[ ]…When asked Wednesday if she would like to clarify her comment, Obama replied that she has been struck by the number of people going to rallies and watching debates, as well as record voter turnouts.

What I was clearly talking about was that I’m proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process,” she said.

“For the first time in my lifetime, I’m seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven’t seen and really trying to figure this out — and that’s the source of pride that I was talking about,” she added.

When asked if she had always been proud of her country, she replied “absolutely.” “Barack and I, our stories wouldn’t be possible, if it weren’t for fundamental belief and pride in this country and what it stands for.”

Her husband came to her defense. ‘‘Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant,’’ he said.

The Right in their in their predictable worship of spin over fact never bothers to put up Michelle’s explanation of what she said. Michelle shouldn’t have had to explain. American history is a story about struggle. A struggle to live up to our ideals. The founding fathers created a model for modern democracy, but left slavery to eat away at the nation for a hundred years. Even after a bloody treacherous war African Americans didn’t have real legal equality until the Voting Rights Act of the sixties. Adults, at least those able to face reality would see that as an atrocious element of our history. American women did not have the right to vote until 1920, 144 years after the Declaration of Independence. One person one vote was supposed to be one the cornerstones of a real liberal democracy. A person of conscience should feel some remorse that such a travesty went on for over a century. Our history is littered with reasons to wince and to be proud. It is far from unpatriotic to notice that we haven’t been perfect. The Right, for reasons many of us cannot quite figure out seem to like Winston Churchill who once said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” The Right has never been much about humility and acknowledging mistakes much less learning from them. Tiny gaffes like Michelle Obama’s are in many ways an excuse for the Right to make a lot of noise in hopes that the American public will not notice the Right’s arrogance and the very real consequences the nation pays for their inability to be humble enough to change course and to what is truly patriotic, living up to our ideals.

What if Michelle Obama had said about our troops, “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths,”Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” Barbara Bush said that on ABC. How much outrage was their from the media, the right-wing pundits and blogs? Zero.

“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

— Praising Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the morning after he revealed (in a network television interview) that he did not know about the thousands of people stranded at New Orleans’ convention center until a day after extensive media reports on the situation. (Washington Post, “FEMA Director Singled Out by Response Critics”, Spencer S. Hsu and Susan B. Glasser, Sept. 6, 2005.)

“They say hard work never hurt anybody, but, I figure, why take the chance?” – Ronald Reagan (R)

“We are trying to get unemployment to go up, and I think we’re going to succeed” – Ronald Reagan(R)

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
—Confronted by political opposition, Bush explains his strategy on promoting Social Security reform. (Washington Post, “The Ostrich Approach,” Dan Froomkin, May 25, 2005)

“Because he’s hiding…”
—Bush, explaining why Osama bin Laden has yet to be captured. (Washington Post interview, Jan. 16, 2005)

“We will stand up for terror. We will stand up for freedom.”
—Bush, speaking on the campaign trail, Oct. 18, 2004, in Marlton, N.J.

“The truth of that matter is, if you listen carefully, Saddam would still be in power if he were president of the United States, and we’d be a lot better off.”
—Bush at the second presidential debate in St. Louis, Oct. 8, 2004.

What if Michelle Obama had joked about the entire state of West Virginia of being incestuous like Vice President Cheney( R).

“One thing is for certain: There won’t be any more mass graves and torture rooms and rape rooms.”
—Bush, press availability in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 12, 2004

What if Michelle had said that George Bush should be hung like Republican hate radio commentator Michael Reagan did about DNC chairman Howard Dean.

LIMBAUGH: “All of these rich guys–like the Kennedy family and Perot–pretending to live just like we do and pretending to understand our trials and tribulations and pretending to represent us, and they get away with this.” (TV, 1/28/1994)

REALITY: Limbaugh biographer Paul Colford estimates that Limbaugh’s earnings in 1994 will top $18 million (Newsday, 8/4/94).