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12/17/2003 Archived Entry: "Insults"

Is life too demanding and time too short? I hear ya. And, unlike the rest of the world, I'm here to help. When writing a letter of complaint, don't rack your brain for the proper insult...just use The Random Elizabethan Curse Generator which offers more than 388,000 curses. If you crave insults that are a tad more political, try the automatic Insult a Conservative generator...Note to offended Conservatives...as a libertarian, I'm closer to the right than I am to the Left, and I find these hilarious. And, yes, I did look -- without success -- for an Insult a Liberal generator. The closest I came was a Random Insult Generator that can be set to "Democrat" for political views...My first attempt rendered "You crud-infested Hillary-lovin' barforific hog-humping tramp!" For a wide category of specific insults, consult Insults.net , e.g. the YoMomma category opens with "Yo momma's so ugly when she joined an ugly contest, they said "Sorry, no professionals."}}.

BTW...if you are wondering why I am so preoccupied with insults this morning, my computer crashed again.

The "just trial" for Saddam promised by the Bush administration claims Saddam is a farce before it begins. In an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer, which is scheduled for broadcast tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC, Bush reportedly declares that Saddam should face the "ultimate penalty": that means the death penalty. How do Bush's words sound to the Arab world? Without waiting for a trial, the head of the world's most powerful Western nation is calling for the execution of a prominent Arab leader. This same Western leader simultaneously assures the Arab world that Saddam will receive a fair trial...presumably, prior to executing him. Only a fool would believe that Bush's statements would not influence the Bush-dependent Iraqi Governing Council which will be ultimately (tho' indirectly) responsible for any trial conducted in Iraq. Is Bush trying to make a martyr out of the man? Even some Westerners are feeling sympathy for the Beast of Baghdad in the wake of that humiliating footage of his "medical" exam for lice, etc. Cardinal Renato Martino, a leading critic of the war in Iraq and president of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace, said he was moved to compassion as he saw "this man destroyed, being treated like a cow as they [the US military] checked his teeth." The media and military treatment of Saddam does not look like justice but vengeance...and this could turn the despicable Saddam into an object of pity for some, a rallying point for others. Bush may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

For one thing...there was no need to mention the death penalty. It was akin to throwing gas on a raging fire for the joy of making sparks. As the UK Independent notes, "the death penalty issue could cause friction between the United States and Europe. All 15 member nations of the European Union have abolished capital punishment, and they often encourage other countries most notably the United States to abolish it. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also has said the world body would not support bringing Saddam before a tribunal that might sentence him to death." Ever the faithful lapdog, Tony Blair courageously stated that, although Britain opposed the death penalty, it would have to accept an Iraqi decision to execute. My point: why even raise the issue of executing Saddam...and so prominently? It is as tho' Bush sat down and pondered, "How can I possibly make the situation worse?" The answer is obvious, of course. Bush doesn't care about the impact on the world as long as his statements please the American electorate.

Re: the footage of Saddam.... A senior U.S. official has defended the offending video, saying there was no attempt to humiliate Saddam and arguing the broadcast of him undergoing a medical exam is allowed under the Geneva Conventions in order to maintain peace and security. The defense is ludicrous. Whether or not some footage was necessary to assure the Iraqis that Saddam was in fact captured, it was not necessary to show him being searched for lice. The defense is also irrelevant since Rumsfeld made it clear yesterday that Saddam was not a prisoner of war and, so, the Geneva Conventions do not apply. Rumsfeld's statements come at the same moment the Bush administration is being criticized for applying a double standard in how it assesses POW status. The UK Independent (12/17) comments, "The treatment of Saddam as a prisoner of war under the terms of the Geneva Conventions and the promises he will be given a fair trial contrast sharply with the status of the 'illegal combatants' picked up by the coalition forces in the war against terror." The Independent notes that the POW status was a Pentagon decision. The Bush administration changes tunes faster than a Wurlitzer. But according to international human rights lawyers revoking Saddam's POW status is not legally possible. Yves Sandoz, an academic and a former senior legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross, is quoted as saying, "It's very clear in the Geneva Conventions that they apply to specific people, and to Saddam Hussein as supreme chief of the armed forces, from the moment he is captured and until he is freed."

Of course, they need to remove the obstacle posed by the Geneva Conventions in order to apply "tough" methods of interrogation, which will be conducted by the CIA. Already I've heard an American official almost chortling about the techniques they are using to make Saddam talk, including sleep deprivation which is a form of torture prohibited by the GCs. From accounts, the Beast of Baghdad has not been informative...but it is only the third day. Don't expect to see a trial or public process of any sort in the near future. The US is already announcing there will be a long delay before setting a trial date. After all, what Saddam could say in a public trial might prove embarrassing to the Bush administration. As the BBC reports, "Iraq had invaded Iran in 1980 but the Iranians had held the advance and were striking back with human wave attacks. Iraq was known, by 1983, to have used chemical weapons to stop these. A US State Department memorandum in 1983 stated: 'We have recently received additional information confirming Iraqi use of chemical weapons.' President Reagan determined nevertheless that Iraq should be supported and he sent Mr Rumsfeld to Baghdad with a personal letter from himself to Saddam Hussein. Mr Rumsfeld had been defence secretary under President Ford and was then head of a private pharmaceutical company. Minutes of their meeting in December 1983 were taken by an American diplomat and later released in edited form under the Freedom of Information Act. They were published by the National Security Archive, a private research group." I doubt if Bush wants photos, like this one of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam, circulating before the elections next fall.

Well...it's back to an essay on Irish history for me. To paraphrase Hobbes, life in Ireland might have been "nasty, British, and short" but it had the charm of simplicity: one enemy through the centuries, without change.

Best to all,

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