Monthly Archives: September 2006

Blessed are the torturers.

Geneva convention, Schmeva convention — Congress passes torture bill, sends to President.

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

[...] We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts. [full editorial here]

The new law denies habeas corpus rights, allows the President to “establish specific permissible interrogation techniques,” and redefines “enemy combatants” beyond the established definition to include noncitizens living legally in the States or elsewhere (that is, if they’re found to be an “enemy combatant” under criteria defined by the president or secretary of defense).

What’s especially troubling is Bush et al’s disdainful view of the Geneva Convention. It’s almost as if he considers it some type of laughable document, and you should see how testy he becomes when confronted by its standards. Today, some of the “coercison” techniques [read: torturing] now being performed by US soldiers on opponents are the same ones that convicted Axis soldiers of war crimes 50+ years ago.

One day I’ll have to explain to my child why my country ignored basic human rights to fight a so-called war on terror. I’m literally speechless, watching these politicians legitimate these atrocities.


When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

—Sinclair Lewis
(a clairvoyant who wrote this in the early 20th century)

On Religious Extremism

This last week on Bill Maher’s Real Time there was a good discussion on religion and politics (with mention of the new documentary Jesus Camp). On the panel was FOX news reporter (and fundy) Sandy Rios, Muslim Scholar Reza Aslan, and actor Bradley Whitford.

ASLAN: [overlapping] Whether you believe it or not – whether you believe it or not, God doesn’t make you a bigot; God doesn’t make you a misogynist. I mean, people – people are just bigots and misogynists.

RIOS: That’s true.

ASLAN: The thing about religion—

MAHER: Right.

ASLAN: [overlapping]—is that it is – it provides a powerful language through which you can justify any ideology. [applause]

WHITFORD: Anything.

ASLAN: Whether ideologies of peace and tolerance or ideologies of fanaticism. And what we really need to do is, those of us – like Bradley was saying – those people who represent the vast moderate majority of people of faith, who get—

WHITFORD: Need to speak up.

MAHER: Right.

ASLAN: [overlapping]—get drowned out by this very loud, obnoxious voice of extremism and violence—

WHITFORD: [overlapping] Of condemnation and separation.

ASLAN: [overlapping]—it’s hard to make ourselves heard. But, you know, we really need to work harder. We really need to make sure that our voice actually matters. [applause]

a rare day in the Bennetch household

Mark your calendars, I’m about to praise our Conservative PM, Stephen Harper.

Today I got a cheque for almost 500 dollars — a governmental refund from the exorbitant landing fee I paid for my Permanent Resident application last May.

So … well … thanks, Mr. Prime Minister. That cheque will be definitely be put to good use.

(in praise of clumsiness)

Love Poem
John Frederick Nims

My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly maneuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.


I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I came to the point where I had to give up my Scarecrow ways and pursue that which I fought off daily.

Literary freebie

Via Beyond Magazine (subscribe to Canada’s best independently-run magazine here), have a dose of Daily Lit for your inbox:

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I’m having a daily dose of Emily Dickinson every morning at 7:20am.

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