Friday, March 10, 2006

Bush meets the backbone of democracy


Today, Bush went to the National Newspaper Association conference. He called newspapers “the backbone of democracy.” Which is why he’s said in the past he never reads them. Someone asked which was the biggest threat to American security, Iran, North Korea, or China. He said Al Qaeda. He declared that Iran and North Korea were equal and he loves all the Axis of Evil countries equally.

Holden notes that Bush failed to answer questions about what American plans were in the oh-so-unlikely event of a civil war in Iraq, and what he thought of the South Dakotan anti-abortion law. I was going to say the same thing about a question asked of him during a Lebanese tv interview, “But so far, you’re not winning the hearts and minds of Arab people. Why not?” I suppose we should be thankful that he didn’t outright reject the premise that Arabs don’t love us, but after all this time, how can he not have a response, even a stupid soundbite, for such a basic question? Here was his answer: “Well, it’s -- there’s a lot of negative news on TV.” That’s all. Then he rambled on about terrorism being bad: “There’s a -- the enemy to democracy has got one tool, and that is the capacity and willingness to kill innocent people. And that shocks people.” So Arabs don’t heart Americans because they’re in shock? Still, for lack of credibility, it’s hard to beat this exchange:
Q Are you following the national dialogue that’s happening now in Lebanon?

THE PRESIDENT: I am.
I’m sorry I never spent more time on Claude Allen, failed Bush judicial nominee and then domestic policy adviser, since we now know he had to resign that position because he’d been caught ripping off department stores. But click here for my October 2003 post on him (the post also quotes Bush at a press conference refusing to answer a “trick question” about whether there would be fewer American troops in Iraq in a year. Some trick. Rumsfeld refused to answer the exact same question at the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, telling Dick Durbin he wouldn’t use Durbin’s term, “significant reduction,” because then there’d just be a debate on the meaning of the word significant, and he’d really prefer to use words that don’t actually have any meaning, like he always does).

Finally, a working link (reg./BugMeNot) to the letter to the Lancet against forcible feeding in Guantanamo, which notes that health-care workers opposed to the forcible feeding of prisoners are not allowed to work in Gitmo. The Pentagon’s response to the letter’s mention of the World Medical Association’s 1975
ban on forcibly feeding sane patients: “Professional organisation declarations by doctors, lawyers, dentists, etc. are not international treaties, therefore are nonbinding and not applicable to sovereign nation-states.” In your face, World Medical Association!

Say, do you think we could stop force-feeding in Gitmo as violating the First Amendment rights of Pentagon medical personnel? Someone call the ACLU. OK, I like the ACLU and despise the death penalty, but this (from AP) is just silly:
The American Civil Liberties Union claimed in a federal lawsuit Wednesday that California’s lethal injection protocol violates the First Amendment rights of execution witnesses by not allowing them to see if the inmate is experiencing pain before death.
Yes, I get the point: the paralyzing agent is intended to make executions look painless when they aren’t. But c’mon.

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