Torture Is In The Eye of The Beholder


Torture is such an ugly word. We prefer to think of it as ‘confession enhancement’.

“Torture is in the eye of the beholder”, Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada would explain to Congress just before he ripped the eyes out of Senator John McCain and waved them around. “Anyone else see torture?” he would ask sarcastically to the silent room. While not that bad yet, McCain has been consistently outspoken regarding the policy of torture, having seen its inhumane ineffectiveness first-hand. The controversial technique called “waterboarding” was like a ball down throat of Judge Michael Mukasey during his confirmation hearings. Asked if waterboarding was illegal, he replied he needed to learn more about it to answer the question. Why someone didn’t immediately strap him to a board right there is puzzling. He could be asked afterwards, “So, what do you think now, Judge? And don’t let the fact that waterboarding has been persecuted as a war crime since the Spanish-American war cloud your judgment”.

This issue is perceived as a battle between the executive rights of the President versus the need to obey international law. Some find it repugnant that the President himself is advocating torture when he has never been at risk of such. McCain has the high ground here while the only real, practical experience President Bush can bring to the table is creating a new form of interrogation where cocaine is blown up the noses of suspects to “loosen them up” a bit.

Waterboarding is not the only interrogation technique under scrutiny as torture. Other “harsh techniques”, include head slapping and sleep deprivation. Seriously, if head slapping and sleep deprivation were “torture” then parents and college professors would be war criminals. One pro-torture argument is that the nebulous, nonspecific “they” do it, too. The problem with that argument is that only a fraction of all suspects rounded up are “the Droids you are looking for”. As for the rest, do “they torture, too” or are they simply just “tortured”? If a cable company were to put wires to the testicles of every male between the ages of 18 and 49 to determine who on the block was stealing cable, most of us would cancel our subscription. It would be futile. First, that makes you fit the profile even better and second, only after they’ve hooked you up to the power-lines of their love would they ever discover the truth. But, as long as General Manager Torquemada, destroys the tapes, no one will ever know…



ALBA, an Economic Alternative for Latin America

by Medea Benjamin

The sixth conference of the Latin American alternative trade alliance known as ALBA-which stands for the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and means “Dawn” in Spanish-was held in Caracas on January 25-26. The brainchild of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, ALBA was founded by Cuba and Venezuela in 2004 as a fair trade alternative to US-backed free trade policies and is made possible thanks to Venezuela’s oil money.

When Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, they too joined ALBA, which Chavez has nicknamed the Club of “Chicos Malos”, or bad boys, because of its opposition to U.S. domination. At this weekend’s meeting, the Caribbean island of Dominica also joined, and representatives attended from Ecuador, Honduras, Uruguay, Haiti and several other Caribbean nations.

Chavez opened the session talking about the need for a trade system that addresses people’s needs, not corporate profits. His railed against the “dictatorship of global capitalism”, and encouraged Latin American countries to withdraw their international reserves from United States banks, warning of a looming US economic crisis. “Why does that money have to be in the north?”, he asked. “We should start to bring our reserves back home.”

His thoughts were echoed by Daniel Ortega, who blamed the capitalist system for the environmental crisis. “The capitalist model of development is simply unsustainable,” Ortega declared. “If your economy is controlled by speculative capital that only cares about profits, you can’t solve the huge problems affecting humanity. Once we renounce the free trade model, we can begin to address the massive problems of unemployment, poverty and global warming.”

Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who is facing fierce opposition in part because of his efforts to nationalize natural gas and oil, insisted that key public resources such as land, water and energy should not be for private profit but for the common good. He also insisted that Latin America should not look to the United States for solutions, since U.S. aid always comes with strings designed to increase its hegemony.

“In 1990s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund imposed their disastrous policies, and then the U.S. tried to impose the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas-which should really be called the Free Profits Agreement of the Americas because it is meant to increase the profits of US corporations,” said Morales. “But people of the hemisphere rejected that agreement, so now the U.S. is trying-country-by-country-to get bilateral trade agreements. They are always trying to divide us, but we salute the great resistance to empire that we see throughout the hemisphere.”

The leaders noted that it was no coincidence that just at the time of the ALBA summit, Condoleezza Rice was visiting neighboring Colombia to promote a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade pact. Chavez, who recently called Colombia’s President Urribe a “sad peon of the empire”, laughed at U.S. accusations that he, Chavez, was facilitating the flow of Colombian cocaine through Venezuela.

The talk of drug-smuggling turned into comic relief, however, when Chavez launched into a discourse on the benefits of the coca leaf, which, he insisted, was very different from cocaine. U.S. officials have long tried to eradicate coca cultivation, which has been grown and chewed by Andean Indians for centuries.

“Speaking of drugs,” Chavez turned to Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is himself a former coca farmer and is a strong defender of the coca leaf, “where are the coca leaves you used to bring me?”

A Bolivian Indian sitting behind Morales got up and offered up his personal stash of coca leaves. Delighted, Chavez took a leaf and put it in his mouth. “The sacred leaf of the Inca, the Aymara Indians,” he declared. “Thank you, brother.” Emphasizing the great qualities of coca, Chavez said that he had become used to chewing the leaves every morning and invited the other heads of states to try some.

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Giuliani and Edwards Are Drop-Outs!


Today we are expected to hear that both Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John Edwards will be dropping out of the race for Presidential nomination. This is rather big news because it means that both the Republicans and the Democrats have a two-person race. In the Donkey’s ring it will be Sen. Barack Obama vs. Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton. These two candidates will now scramble to pick up all the Edwards supporters (I am guessing that the majority of them will go to Barack, and I am assuming that Edwards himself will endorse Obama soon. Just a guess…) On the Elephant side of things Rudy Giuliani is expected to endorse John McCain. I don’t know how his fear mongering managed to gain so much support anyway, and his supporters will probably just follow suit and jump on the McCain wagon. And though Mike Huckabee has not dropped out of the race, I find it hard to imagine a surge of support for him. It looks like he will be a distant third after Super-Tuesday, but he might wait to see anyway.

Bob Johnson, Please Shut Your Fat Mouth

Now, I know you all don’t watch the news, ‘cuz you ignant, so I’ll just give you the rundown. We try to stay away from politricks here on the main page, but there are certain stories that jump out and grab our attention, forcing us to comment on the issues at hand. Bob Johnson (former BET owner and first black billionaire) recently came out in support of Hilary, for the first time in his sorry life playing the quote-unquote “race card.” He made a statement attacking Obama’s campaign saying in support of Hilary Clinton that the Clinton’s have been emotionally involved in “black” issues from day one and that Obama was insulting the black community somehow. Instead of me just telling you, here it is from the hoss’ mouth:


I just wanted to clarify one thing, Bob Johnson, you Willie-Lynch-ass backwards evil ninja, you are NOT a voice for the black community. Just because you have a billion dollars doesn’t mean you can get up there and say whatever the hell you want. We all know the truth about you, so do us a favor and SHUT YOUR FAT MOUTH. This is not about Barack or Hilary, my friend. This is about YOU and your lying ass. You know nothing about anything, and you need to can it. Stop lying to these white people. This has been a public service announcement.

And just to further illustrate my point:


This is Black Octagons and I approve this message.

50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007


The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007

The ninjas over at the BEAST give us their list of the biggest a$$holes of 2007 – we here at myninjaplease just can’t wait to see what the new year brings!

Here’s a taste:

10. Alberto Gonzales

Crimes: The most truckling, amoral flunky to ever serve as Attorney General. A jurisprudent organelle, he manifests no concept of the law independent of its expediency to the president. Would smilingly accuse himself of providing material support to al Qaeda at President Bush’s request, hurriedly plead guilty, sign his own death warrant and flip the switch himself. His testimony before congressional committees is to public service what cholera is to the small intestine. As first Hispanic Attorney General, Gonzo typifies the self-betrayal and ethical compromise necessary for minorities to become successful Republicans. Been felching sweet approval from Bush’s lily-white ass since Texas. A conscienceless, memo-drafting, loophole-crafting liar for hire, pushing for all the worst administration policies, including nixing habeas corpus, denying and then defending rendition, torture, political firings, and a ton of other evil stuff. He even visited a seriously ill and disoriented John Ashcroft at the hospital, attempting to coax him into reauthorizing a clearly illegal wiretapping program. The only Attorney General who ever could have made John Ashcroft a sympathetic character by contrast.

Exhibit A: “The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away.”

Sentence: Death by dull guillotine, head bent by Beckham.

via the BEAST