Mixed grill

mixed grill

It's a wonderful country

It's hard to know where to start. There's the terrorist bust nobody heard about, the movie everybody's heard about but the right-wing doesn't want you to see, the pumped-up judge, the bleeping veep, the candidate who had to quit, and the torturing of the word torture. It has been a terrific week, full of scandal, profanity, sex, and potential violence. And that's before even getting into Clinton's book.

terrorist
(Photo: Raven's View)

Terrorist bust. Our president, G. W. Bush, claims he's a "war president" fighting a war on terror. It was with some surprise, then, that I learned from a Paul Krugman editorial in Tuesday's New York Times, that the government had foiled a terrorist plot through the biggest domestic terrorism investigation since Oklahoma City. Did you hear about it? I surely didn't.

Here's the story we didn't hear: A guy in New York was opening his mail and didn't notice that the parcel he was opening was actually addressed to another guy in New Jersey but had been delivered to him by mistake. Inside the parcel he found fake ID cards (one for the United Nations, the other for the Defense Intelligence Agency) and several other identification documents, along with a note: "We would hate to have this fall into the wrong hands." The good citizen called the FBI.

Tracing the parcel, investigators were led to William Krar and Judith Bruey, residents of Tyler, Texas. In Krar and Bruey's three rented storage spaces in nearby Noonday, Texas, they discovered a half-million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers, remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases, and a cyanide bomb big enough to kill everyone inside a 30,000 square foot building (about the size of Barnes & Noble). There was also a supply of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-government literature.

In a separate incident, Tennessee state police making a traffic stop had discovered in Krar's rental car handguns, a grenade, handcuffs, gas mask, knives, and forty bottles of an unknown substance, along with lists of meeting places and code words for level of danger ("Toradoes are expected in our area - Things very hot. Lay low or change your travel plans.")

Despite the fact that the investigation was included in the president's daily briefings, of which we have heard so much this summer, nary a peep was heard from John Ashcroft when Krar made a plea bargain and was sentenced to 11 years for possessing a dangerous chemical weapon.

What Krugman found astonishing is that the terrorism-obsessed Bush administration wasn't all over the airwaves touting this victory in the war on terror. Here was the discovery of an actual chemical weapon — a WMD — and the administration was silent on the subject, except for a press release issued to local media by the Dallas division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. How to explain this case of the dog who didn't bark in the night?

It sounds over the top to accuse Mr. Ashcroft of trying to bury news about terrorists who don't fit his preferred story line. Yet it's hard to believe that William Krar wouldn't have become a household name if he had been a Muslim, or even a leftist. Was Mr. Ashcroft, who once gave an interview with Southern Partisan magazine in which he praised "Southern patriots" like Jefferson Davis, reluctant to publicize the case of a terrorist who happened to be a white supremacist?

Or who happened to be from Texas? one might suggest.

Fahrenheit 9/11 sold outMovie. Michael Moore's latest movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, finally opened yesterday. I went to the 11:30am show. What an experience! People were hooting and hollering, talking back to the screen, and gasping with incredulity at times. It's a brilliant movie, and I found out several things that even I, confirmed Bush-basher that I am, didn't know about. My friend Brett in Vancouver reports that he had a hard time finding a showing that wasn't sold out, which was true of many theaters in the U.S. as well.

Citizens United, a right-wing organization, so doesn't want you to see this film that they filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and other federal government agencies, claiming that ads for the movie violate campaign finance laws.

Said Michael Moore of this attempt:

I am deeply concerned about whether or not the FEC will think I paid Citizens United to raise these issues regarding Fahrenheit 9/11. How else can you explain the millions of dollars of free publicity this right wing group has given the movie. I plan on sending them a very nice Holiday card this year.

judgePumped up judge. Then there is Judge Donald Thompson in Oklahoma who is accused by the state attorney general of "conduct constituting an offence involving moral turpitude in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution."

The judge's offensive conduct is said to be the use of a vacuum pump to masturbate while presiding over trials and exposing himself to the court reporter on numerous occasions, once while shaving his family jewels with a disposable razor.

Witnesses, including jurors and testifying police officers, say they heard "swooshing" sounds like a blood pressure cuff being pumped up and saw the judge slumped in his chair working the device.

It goes without saying, perhaps, that Judge Thompson is a law and order judge who is strong on family morals. Big on family jewels, too.

"All rise!" has a whole new meaning in Judge Thompson's courtroom.

CheneyBleeping veep. Which brings us to the vice president who took exception to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) crossing the aisle to talk to the VP during a photo-op in the Senate, and Cheney told the honorable senator to "Fuck yourself."

Although there were numerous witnesses to the incident, Cheney will only acknowledge that he "probably" used the F-word, and told Fox News, "I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it."

Ironically, this exchange took place on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the "Defense of Decency Act" by 99 to 1.

sex clubXXX candidate. Meanwhile back in the heartland, Jack Ryan, Republican candidate for US senator from Illinois, was forced to withdraw from the race after it was revealed publicly that he had taken his wife to sex clubs and tried to get her to have sex while other people were watching.

This bit of dirty laundry came to light when Ryan selectively released part of his divorce papers and was subsequently forced to release them all.

Ryan's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is wisely refraining from comment. Obama, by the way, is a politican whose star is apparently rising. Columnists in both the New York Times and Washington Post have sung his praises. According to E.J. Dione, writing in the Washington Post, "already there's speculation that he may be the first African American president of the United States."

definition of tortureTorture kerfuffle. The Bush administration took the unusual step this week of releasing selected memoranda on torture in an attempt to quiet the uproar over whether or not high officials authorized torture.

Bush has denied vehemently that he authorized torture, saying that torture is not in the "American soul." But the denial and the document dump leave unanswered a very central question: why were so many people spending so much time trying to find ways to claim that torture really wasn't prohibited, and that it didn't matter even if it were because the commander in chief can do anything he wants.

And the president's own directive has a loophole big enough to drive a Bradlee fighting vehicle through: "the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva." To the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity leaves a lot of wriggle room.

What the memoranda demonstrate is blatant torturing of the meaning of torture. I don't think we've heard the end of this yet, and I hope we haven't. As Senator Biden (D-DL) pointed out, the reason we sign treaties and have laws on torture is so that US servicemen and women will not be tortured when they are captured by an enemy.

What a week! What a country!