Seymour Hersh has been talking darkly about the rape of children at Abu Ghraib. Here's the first evidence I've come across
, by way of an Altercation link to the Washington Post.
This is a PDF document and may take a hellish time to download, so I'll provide the gist. The document in question is a statement by Kasim Mehaddi, a detainee, with punctuation as per the original.
The document quotes Mehaddi as saying:
I saw [ redacted ] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15--18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [ redacted ], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid's ass. I couldn't see the face of the kid because his face wasn't in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.
Some things have to be said
I got this via Atrios. Last month leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus sat down with Ralph Nader to discuss his candidacy and how they saw it. Now Nader has written them
to say he wants an apology:
“Exclamations at the meeting descended into vituperative (e.g., Congresswoman Kilpatrick’s tawdry, anatomical comment yelled loud enough so the press could hear it outside) and ending with the obscene racist epithet repeated twice by Yale Law School alumnus Congressman Melvin Watt of North Carolina,” Nader wrote Cummings.
The "obscene racist epiphet" appears to have been "another fucking arrogant white man." As to the "tawdry, anatomical comment," well, one can hope. What would you end up shouting after an hour of Ralph Nader on his candidacy? But, according to the article in question: "As reported by The Hill, Kilpatrick told Nader to 'get your ass out' at the June 22 meeting." Better than nothing.
Another favorite quote, though this one has already been poached by Atrios:
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said, “If he didn’t understand what the meeting was about, not only is he an egotistical maniac, he’s dumber than I thought he was.”
Retaking the Hill
This is something I've been thinking for a while, it's just that Yglesias has reasons and stuff
... if I recall correctly the GOP has consistently gotten a 1-3 percent larger share of the House membership than they get of the House vote. The Texas re-redistricting may improve that margin somewhat, but if they're really down nine in generic ballotting I don't see how they can maintain control. ... [Not only that but] the Bush campaign's very heavy reliance on the notion that John Kerry simply can't be trusted as a wartime leader may be hurting his downballot adversaries. ... it leaves the GOP implicitly conceding that the Democrats would be better on other issues.
As an Australian said to me once, it's seem like whenever the U.S. elects a president of one party, pretty soon we give the other party an edge in Congress. That's not the case just now, but conditions of the past 2 years have been abnormal (the terror scare, the run-up to the war). Of course, with 9/11 Bush had a chance to pile up some real bedrock support for himself, but he blew that. So if he scrapes back into office by slandering Kerry, the public will give him some keepers. That's where a Democratic Congress comes in.
That's my lowball estimate. Because it's possible we'll get both -- the presidency and a house or two in Congress. Remember that my personal analysis above leaves out the matter of indvidual policy issues and how the public stands on them; Yglesias seems to feel we hold an edge there.
When the Republican House survived the impeachment mess, it seemed like they had rigged things too well to ever get thrown out. But since their margin of error hasn't been that great, maybe we have hope. Sticking with Bush on the war seems like a big enough error to overwhelm 1-3 percentage points.
No matter how the Kerry vote turns out, the Republicans are going to have a much worse hand next year. It's just that (from their point of view) it may be poor or it may be abysmal.
Man, these foreigners
From The Note by way of Eschaton:
Teresa Heinz Kerry explained of her husband's vice presidential pick, "John Edwards is beautiful and my husband is very smart."
Heinz Kerry also effusively praised Elizabeth Edwards, saying, "She is the supreme, wise, motherly woman and wife."
Turning her attention to the opposing political team, the potential first lady exclaimed, "Bullies attack and leaders inspire."
Heinz Kerry continued, "We need, above all, a president who is not fazed by complexity. A president who likes to read. A president who loves history. A president who is rightly proud of the sacrifice of our ancestors."
Is there any native-born American who talks this way? Probably not, but in the meantime we've got Teresa Heinz Kerry, and I must say I love it. True, the chances of a gaffe are high, but she's supplying the only poetic and plainspoken quotes in American public life.
My post below is a gotcha question wrapped in the cotton batting of my personal philosophy. Up here I'll just get to the pith.
Does anyone think that Bush could name all the members of his cabinet? Or his NSC aide in charge of the Middle East? Or what that NSC aide was convicted for? No -- that's why it would be fun to ask him sometime, in public.
The downside is that posing gotcha questions is a low-minded, ignoble pursuit. The upside is the chance that Bush would respond by saying he doesn't answer gotcha questions. (This would be especially funny when he's asked about who's in his cabinet.)
The papers on his desk
The Senate Intelligence report on the CIA's WMD failures brought this thought back into my head. Yes, it's disappointing that committee Democrats didn't challenge the blame-the-analysts slant, but Bush does tend to swallow staff analyses and recommendations as long as they're neatly typed and sitting on his desk. My thought is . . . well, my thought is that never before have Bush and his defenders had to admit -- on any subject -- that their information was wrong and that therefore their policies were wrong. Now, of course, they're actually proclaiming that they trusted wrong information. And that opens up a theoretical possibility.
When he was governor Bush signed off on 152 executions. Way back in 2000 that struck me as the worst thing about him (aside from his party). That many executions in five years comes to one for each 1.7 weeks, and never mind the figure per actual working day. Deciding on somebody's life can't be easy, except that for Bush it sounds like it was. Now, given human error and the less-than-100% effectiveness of government programs (such as the one for determining the guilt or innocence of accused criminals) what were the odds of all 152 people being guilty? This is leaving out the associated legal horror stories, such as the defense attorney who fell asleep during his client's trial.
So from the start I figured that Bush had killed at least one innocent person and he had never worked up the moral concern, or even the curiosity, to suspect that he was running this risk. Now we have the CIA mess and its one bedrock, undisputed revelation: the papers on Bush's desk aren't always right. Bush himself says so. And if that's the case, couldn't an artfully phrased question lead him to the realization that maybe the data backing those death warrants had some problems too?
Well no, probably it couldn't -- this is Bush we're talking about. And probably nobody else cares by now, since his doings as governor were a 2000 issue and we all have more pressing disasters on hand. But we should care.
With the death warrants and the war, we have a case of enduring personal traits producing much the same results as their holder moves up in the world; what's different is the scale on whoch his shortcomings are allowed to operate. Bush shows us passivity masquerading as focus and carelessness as efficiency. I believe some innocent people back in Texas paid for this with their lives; this time around, of course, there's no doubt about it.
What gets me is that, even when dealing with life and death, nothing could break thru the masquerade he runs on himself. He's callous without, I expect, bearing any particular ill-will toward his victims, not even the executed criminals. From what I've heard, Hannah Arendt argued that the Holocaust could take place only because so many functionaries managed to focus on their little corner of the job and not think too much about what the system itself was doing. In this case the man at the top of the pyramid is one of the functionaries, and that's because he likes it that way.
And, no, the war and the executions aren't nearly as bad as the Holocaust. Bush isn't a Nazi or even much like a Nazi. He's more like a dumb kid who gets his dad's sports car and drives really fast down a neighborhood where children play in the street. In short he's a callow twit who wants to feel like a hotshot and doesn't think too much about anything else. But you knew that already.