May 21, 2024

Sick to my stomach

Rainy day, a bit tired. Not a lot of sleep last night. I walked through the rain to work, getting splashed by an SUV while waiting for the light to change. I brew up a pot of coffee in the breakroom, and sit down to spend a few minutes checking the online news sources. I have my routine--I usually begin at the Star Tribune, then go quickly to The Guardian. There, I learn of new prison abuse photos and videos obtained by The Washington Post. At first I'm not surprised or shocked--I've seen it all, or so I think: thumb's up for masturbating Iraqi man, smile over the dead body packed in ice, human pyramids, hoods. The Guardian mentions something about a man covered in a brown substance. The Guardian mentions digital videos of sodomy, and consensual sex between soldiers.

I check out the article--these are the most graphic photos I've seen yet, and the accompanying anecdotes of abuse make my stomach burn. I'm almost on the verge of tears. There's the man covered in a brown substance. It's obviously shit. His legs are crossed and his ankles are cuffed; he's being forced to walk carefully toward a soldier holding a baton, who, from the look on his face, can't wait to beat the shit off this guy should he fall. Here's a pile of naked Iraqis with some soldiers standing around casually watching someone else kneel on them. A chair is nearby.

The article is gruesome. One prisoner witnessed an army translator raping a young Iraqi boy, who screamed and cried. Sodomy and the threat of rape were commonly reported. They were kept naked. One solider drew a picture of a woman on a man's back and threatened to rape him.

Can these horrors possibly have played themselves out on the night shift at Abu Grahib? Underprepared, far from home, constantly worried about improvised explosive devices or roadside bombs, anxious and stressed, demoralized by constant deployment extensions. Then, placed in roles of authority, unsupervised, over detainees who slowly came to be physical distaillations of the reasons behind these soliders's pitiful positions. A long night, plenty of time to play out tableaus of revenge and destruction, humiliation, torture. You may not be able to catch the people who's roadside bomb blew off your buddy's arm, but you can destroy someone who looks just like him. Doing so makes you feel much better about your lot in life, if only for a moment. You are in complete control here. A thumb's up at the sight of a hooded Iraqi masturbating is, I think, not an indication of real pleasure at the sight, but a sign of relief, however momentary--finally, here, for this moment, I am in control of my surroundings again.

Despite what the top brass is saying, it's clear to me these are not isolated incidences, but indications of a systematic failure in this war to properly train and provide for soldiers. I don't condone these soldiers's actions--I blame them, and they should be punished. But I don't blame them for the situation they're in. I wish they weren't over there. For this, blame falls on the top brass at the Pentagon for fucking up this war, and on Bush for initiating it in the first place.

Posted by Jason at May 21, 2024 09:39 AM

The events in Iraq are horrific, although I would like to direct your attention to an artical by Nick Coleman in the May 16th Strib.

Just as Cheri Pierson Yecke is dragged out kicking and screaming... or should I say, clucking and pecking... other, grander fools, (I didn't think it was possible) take her place on the Minnesota Political Stage.

To distract from the deadly naked raindeer games of Iraq, I have 'right click swiped' the artical for your amusement.

Nick Coleman: They bring God to the Capitol
Star Tribune
Published May 16, 2024

Satan raised a hideous hand in the State Capitol on Friday. But the faithful fought back with prayer.

State Sen. Michele Bachmann's 10-year-old daughter had taken sick and had been rushed to an emergency room. Bachmann, R-Stillwater, is the author of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

Upon receiving news of her daughter's illness, she rushed down the staircase outside the Senate, hurrying past dozens of supporters who have been keeping vigil outside the Senate chamber, praying that Bachmann and the Lord might overcome stubborn opposition from DFL senators.

Now, suddenly, with the legislative session coming down to the wire and the DFL still blocking a vote on the amendment, Bachmann had been diverted from the Lord's work. It wasn't hard to figure out who stood to gain from Bachmann's forced absence.

"Lord, we feel some attack of Satan is taking Michele away from here," Muriel Jensen, part of a small prayer circle near the middle of the Senate staircase, was praying, her eyes closed. "Help us stand against this attack of evil and declare it null -- in Jesus' name."

"Lord, we ask you to put up heavy roadblocks that can hold back the Enemy's agenda," added Chelly Evans.

Jensen, 70, of Falcon Heights, and Evans, 58, of Maplewood, went to the Capitol on Friday with two other friends from North Heights Lutheran Church in Roseville. They were among about 100 people supporting Bachmann with prayers and demanding that the DFL-controlled Senate let Bachmann's marriage amendment go to the people for a vote in November.

Over the past two weeks, the Capitol has become a House of Prayer, with an estimated 1,000 fervent Christians standing a shift for the Lord in the center of secular government. And they really stand. They stand hours each day on the Senate stairs, praying, holding signs supporting Bachmann's amendment, cheering her every time she marches up the staircase, even standing in the Senate gallery, hands above their heads, praying that the Lord might soften the hearts of the Democrats.

All this praying has raised the Capitol temperature -- and tempers.

On Friday morning, a DFL representative, Barbara Goodwin of Columbia Heights, let slip the "G" word during a debate on the outsourcing of jobs, ending a speech with an exclamation: "For God's sake, vote!"

A religious riot almost ensued.

"I wish they would do that [use the Lord's name] while they are praying," a Republican, Tony Cornish of Good Thunder, said, objecting to Goodwin's language and drawing applause from Republicans and looks of disbelief from DFLers. "And not on the House floor, in front of the kids in the balcony! And I wish they would apologize to the Christians in here that don't believe in taking the Lord's name in vain!"

It has been that way lately. A Capitol once known for end-of-session frivolities where lawmakers and lobbyists were said to drink like fish and dance in conga lines through the corridors has become a place filled with prayer warriors.

Not that there aren't some shocking glimpses of old Capitol lasciviousness still apparent to those who look up.

My wandering eyes kept panning upward to a large painting by Henry Oliver Walker right above the Senate stairs where all the praying has been going on. Called "Yesterday, To-Day and To-Morrow," it shows three female figures in a tableau illustrating the transmission of civilization across the ages. One is an old crone, but the other two figures are very fetching and they are only half-dressed. The painting is not meant as naked propaganda for same-sex marriage, but Attorney General John Ashcroft would cover it up.

Then again, Christians need to confront unpleasant things, said a woman who has prayed at the Capitol a dozen times. Toni Hanson, 33, a mom from Eagan whose husband, Michael, is a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant headed to Iraq, was holding a sign saying, "Marriage is God's institution."

Hanson bristles at the claims of gay-marriage proponents that Bachmann's supporters don't like gays. She has gay neighbors whom she enjoys talking to, she says. But they have been misguided by their mainstream Lutheran church, she says.

"They've been told their lifestyle is OK, and to me, that's way more hateful than praying for them," she said. "Sometimes, the truth hurts. And their church is keeping them slaves to sin."

She planned to spend all weekend praying at the Capitol. Her 5-year-old twins, Victoria and Lauren, were with her, as well as daughter Calla, 15. (Another child, Nicolas, 8, died of leukemia in February. "He's singing in the biggest choir there is right now," she said).

What if Bachmann's amendment to ban gay marriage doesn't get out of the Senate and onto the election ballot?

"That's OK," Hanson said. "One way or the other, society's going to fall. That's what the Bible says. But my life belongs to God, and marriage is a reflection of God. So even if we just postpone the fall, it will give gays a chance to know who their Savior is and a chance to walk through the gates of Christ and be washed clean by His blood.

"So I'm here, standing up for my Lord."

Posted by: John C at May 21, 2024 11:16 PM
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