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10/26/2005 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

In another display of his incredibly bad judgment, President Bush is threatening to veto the defense bill because of the McCain Amendment to the bill which forbids the torture of suspected terrorists and others in the custody of the military.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who knows what torture is all about because he experienced it as a prisoner of war during the war in Vietnam, authored the amendment which would establish uniform standards for the interrogation of people detained by the US military, prohibiting "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" while they are in US custody.
McCain said military officers are asking for clearer instructions because the Bush Administration has given them none, resulting in abuses that severely damage the US in the long run. Colin L. Powell, former general and secretary of state, endorsed the amendment because it would help address "the terrible public diplomacy crisis created by Abu Ghraib." Powell joins a growing group of retired generals and admirals who blame prison abuse on "ambiguous instructions."
In his closing remarks McCain said terrorists "hold in contempt"
international conventions "such as the Geneva Conventions and the treaty on torture . . . but we’re better than them, and we are stronger for our faith."
The senate passed the McCain Amendment 90 to 9.
The Bush Administration now will try to gut the McCain Amendment in conference committee. Three of the senators who voted for more torture, Ted Stevens (Alaska), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Kit Bond (Mo.) will be on the committee to reconcile the senate and house versions of the defense bill.
Stevens has already declared he will try to exempt the CIA, the primary offender in acts of illegal torture, from being covered by the provision.
Those who are trying to grant President Bush the right of an absolute dictator to torture anybody he wants anytime and anywhere he pleases must not be allowed to sneak a CIA "get out of atrocity free" card into the bill. An explicit exemption for the CIA would not only pervert the intent of the McCain Amendment, it would cut the heart out of existing law and actually weaken prohibitions on such abominable conduct.
Can we be proud of a president who insists he needs torture to accomplish his goals? Can we be proud of a president who proclaims he’s a follower of Jesus and then does exactly the opposite of what we all know Jesus would do? Is there no end to George W. Bush’s hypocrisy? What’s the matter with Americans to silently allow this?
I was watching television the other night and my young ex-tomcat, Sammy, was sprawled out on the couch beside me. I saw his head come up and stare intently at the television set. I thought this rather odd, since he seldom pays much attention to the TV. I thought it even more odd because the item which seemed to interest him so much was a commercial for a General Electric iron.
When the commercial was done Sammy left the couch for another room. When the next commercial came on, I walked to the downstairs toilet to relieve myself. As I passed the pantry, I saw Sammy on the ironing board trying to glide the heavy iron over the surface of the ironing board. The iron wasn’t plugged in and there were no clothes on the board, so his efforts were totally in vain.
I thought it was funny, but then I got to thinking that maybe he should be humored to see what comes of it. I went upstairs and brought down a smaller, lighter iron and plugged it in. Sammy seemed very happy to have an iron he could maneuver on the board. I was surprised, to say the least.
I put a shirt on the ironing board and Sammy pushed and pulled the iron all over it until the shirt was ironed. Well, it was still a little wrinkled in places, but it was the best ironing job I’ve ever seen done by a cat. I hung up the shirt and put another on the ironing board. The cat went at it with gusto. He pushed and pulled the iron and clawed the shirt around so he could maneuver the iron into tight spots. I got a big hoot when he bit down on the button which provides steam. At first he thought another cat was hissing at him and he jumped straight in the air with tail puffed up. But shortly he got the hang of it and he was running the steam iron like a pro.
He tried and tried to place the shirts on a hanger after they were ironed but that task was beyond his capabilities. So I had to hang up the ironed shirts and put wrinkled shirts on the ironing board. It’s nice having well-ironed shirts, but I don’t get to watch television much anymore.
Instead I now spend my evenings keeping a steady supply of wrinkled clothes coming to the ironing board.

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