Frogs in the pot

Nov 23, 2005 at 12:00 am

Long ago, a high school biology teacher told me that if you put a frog in a pot of water on the stove and increase the temperature one degree per hour, the frog will allow itself to be cooked without ever realizing it.

No, I never tried this at home. But I know that politicians do the same thing to people. The Nazis very gradually turned up the temperature in their campaign against the Jews, for example. And now we have George W. Bush and his followers, and their campaign against America.

Think it’s outrageous to compare George Bush and Adolf Hitler? Two years ago, I would have thought the same thing. Hitler was a murderous psychopath who nearly destroyed the entire civilized world.

Nobody in this country, I have long stoutly maintained, should ever, ever be compared to the Nazis. However, I never anticipated the Bush administration. Nor can George Bush measure up in terms of nastiness or pure malevolent evil. But this administration does advocate evil policies.

And lies about them. Thanks to the help of a cowardly and compliant media, they have been gradually turning up the temperature. They’ve gotten us more and more used to their lies, and their outrageous slashing attacks on anyone who dares to tell a truth that goes against them.

Want proof? Imagine what would have happened — at any other point in our history — if a president of our country came out in favor of torture. That’s what we have now.

George W. Bush has never vetoed any bill, no matter how silly. He’s the first president ever to have served this long and not done so. But now he’s threatening to veto one — a defense spending bill that contains an amendment that outlaws torture.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, a very conservative Republican who, however, has a brain and a conscience, has sponsored a measure requiring American troops to follow the Army’s own rules. He would outlaw “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody.”

That should be a no-brainer, right? Something as uncontroversial as a resolution in favor of motherhood. Not to George W. Bush.

We are torturing our captives, comrades. The pictures at Abu Ghraib proved that more than a year ago, and this month there was an even bigger blockbuster. Dana Priest, a reporter for The Washington Post, exposed the existence of a network of secret prisons around the world where we “interrogate” suspected al Qaeda suspects.

One of the main ones seems to have been a former Soviet “compound” in Eastern Europe. There are, or have been, more in the former satellite nations, as well as in Thailand and Afghanistan. If that doesn’t fill you with horror and outrage, there’s no hope for you or this country.

Why are we doing this? Simple. So that our torturers won’t be bound by the restraints of our legal system. Now, of course we’ve tortured captives before, in other wars. Viet Cong were thrown out of helicopters in Vietnam, and every war has produced atrocities on all sides.

But it has never been our government’s official policy to run a network of torture concentration camps. Not until now, that is. What one would now expect from the administration is denials. Or shocked apologies and promises for a thorough investigation.

Yet all there have been are some mutterings about possibly taking action against Dana Priest. Some weeks ago in this column, I ridiculed those few on the left who are talking about impeaching Bush. Actually, we’ve never had a president so deserving of removal from office.

It simply isn’t practical; you would have to get the Republican Congress to remove both Alfred E. Bushman and the brains in the tail, Dick Cheney.

Incidentally, Adolf Hitler used a mysterious fire in the Reichstag, the German parliament, as an excuse to start taking away Germany’s rights and freedoms. George Bush used Sept. 11 to hype the threat of terrorism for the same reason. The Nazis probably caused the Reichstag fire. Bush was not behind Sept. 11, no matter what nutball conspiracy mavens say. But he outrageously used it to limit our freedoms and pull stunts like our criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Those who raise a voice in protest are “swift-boated,” smeared in much the same way the drunken demagogue U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy used to call anybody he didn’t like a communist.

Unfortunately for Bush and Cheney, they can’t do that with John McCain. He’s an authentic war hero who spent years being tortured horribly in Vietnam, even as George Bush was avoiding the draft and not showing up for the National Guard. And even the dimmest bulbs in the low-wattage White House must know that being for torture may not be politically wise.

There’s still time to let your representatives know you want them to vote to outlaw torture — and vote to override the veto, if it comes.

Last week, there was another incident that shows the nature of this regime. U.S. Rep. John Murtha is a Pennsylvania Democrat who spent 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and fought in Korea and Vietnam. He has been a pro-war hawk, and has long been highly respected by both parties for his defense knowledge. Last week, he stood up and spoke the truth. The war in Iraq is a failure; it is lost. “Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency,” he said, choking back tears. He went on to note that the Iraqis are pretty much united against us. “We have become a catalyst for violence. It is time to bring them home.”

That produced a stunned moment of silence — till the Bushies sent out their newest pet shrew, a newly elected idiot from Cincinnati named “Mean Jean” Schmidt. She got up in the House and said, “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” The firestorm was such that the weasel later crawled back and asked that her remarks be stricken from the record.

What is depressingly clear, of course, to anyone who lived through Vietnam, is that Murtha is right. The war is over, and we have lost. All that remains to be decided is how many more American youngsters we have to see blown up by roadside bombs before we withdraw our forces.

Iraq today is far worse off than it was under Saddam Hussein. So are we. And we did it to ourselves. Maybe he knows that, sitting in his cell or the kangaroo court our puppets will try him in. In either way, what we have done to Iraq has turned out to be the nasty old dictator’s ironic revenge.


Fieger vs. Cox: You’d need a World Wide Wrestling scorecard to keep track of the war between Geoffrey Fieger and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox — but here’s the bottom line. Cox so far is the big loser, especially on the embarrassment-o-meter. Having admitted an affair, and accused Fieger of trying to blackmail him, he couldn’t even get fellow Republican prosecutor Dave Gorcyca to bring charges.

Rubber boob prize for bad taste goes to the Detroit newspapers, especially the Free Press, which killed acres of trees to run transcripts of the incoherent taped babblings of a sleazy drunk named Lee O’Brien. Naturally, they didn’t devote that much space to the very real possibility that General Motors will collapse. Jesus.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]. Hear him weekdays at 1 p.m. on WUOM (91.7 FM or