Monday, October 02, 2006

Torture: A Practice of Sadists

Barbara Bush with her son, George W. Bush, 1946

Over at Think Progress:
last point. everyone here is fond of the idea that torture doesn’t work. okay, listen to what you are saying. torture didn’t begin with the bush administration, it is at least thousands of years old. so, if something doesn’t work, does it survive thousands of years?

Comment by paul — October 1, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

Torture has nothing to do with getting information out of an enemy combatant. It's to satisfy sadistic impulses of frustrated inquisitors. It's along the same lines as an officer looking the other way when his men get drunk, get into fights, or sexually assault some woman who crosses their path. "They're just blowing off some steam."

Torture as an ineffective method to gain information is a settled issue among experts, professionals, in the field. The problem is that we are being led by and run by non-professionals - and some severely emotionally disturbed ones at that. If you want to understand who and what these people are, start with Justin Frank's book:
Dr. Justin Frank, a renowned Washington, DC-based psychoanalyst, assembles a comprehensive psychological profile of President George W. Bush in the book, `Bush On The Couch.'

Using the principles of Applied Psychoanalysis, the discipline of psychoanalysing public and historical figure pioneered by Freud, Frank fearlessly builds his case, which concludes with a most disturbing diagnosis. With an eye for the subtleties of human behaviour sharpened through thirty years of clinical practice, Dr. Frank traces the development of Bush's character from childhood to present day, identifying and analysing Bush's patterns of thought, behaviour and communication. A thorough and authoritative examination of Bush's public appearances and speeches, along with historical, biographical, and journalistic records, Bush On the Couch is a compelling portrait of George W. Bush, filled with controversial and disturbing revelations about our nation's leader:

. the scion of a powerful family that failed to nurture its first-born son even as it instilled within him a false sense of omnipotence
. an individual in the grip of anxieties that require a monumental effort to manage
. an untreated alcoholic supported by a nation of enablers
. a rigid thinker with a perilously simplistic worldview
. and a megalomaniacal leader driven to invent adversaries so he can destroy them

Insightful and accessible, courageous and controversial, Bush On the Couch sheds startling new light on the Bush psyche and its impact on the way he governs, tackling head-on the question no one seems willing to ask: Is the president psychologically fit to run the country?

In the Bush administration, we're looking at a group of people who come from authoritarian, dictatorial, abusive families. Starting with Bush himself. "(I'm going to, We're going to, Let's) kick some ass" is one of the most frequent quotes attributed to Bush by people who have met with him. He's described as "combative," "impatient," "exasperated," "smug," "arrogant," "surly," in every meeting he has with his staff, members of Congress, and heads of state. He is not a man who shows respect for others or knows how to get along with others. Whenever you see him in public, no matter who he's with (the press, town forums, heads of state, Republican leadership in Congress) Bush can't wait to get it over with and get away from them. He doesn't like people, he's not comfortable being around people, and the only way that he even makes it through events is by ridiculing them, unevening the balance of power to his advantage.

Gail Sheehy wrote `The Accidental President' in 2000:
"Bush has a whole lot of energy and aggression to burn off or he's likely to blow. He has always been that way. When Barbara Bush took her 13-year-old son and his best friend, Doug Hannah, to play golf at her Houston club, George would start cursing if he didn't tee off well. His mother would tell him to quit it. By the third or fourth hole he would be yelling "Fuck this" until he had ensured that his mother would send him to the car.

"It fit his needs," says Hannah. "He couldn't lose."

Once, after his mother banished him from the golf course, she turned to Hannah and declared, "That boy is going to have optical rectosis."

What did that mean? "She said, 'A shitty outlook on life.'"

Even if he loses, his friends say, he doesn't lose. He'll just change the score, or change the rules, or make his opponent play until he can beat him. "If you were playing basketball and you were playing to 11 and he was down, you went to 15," says Hannah, now a Dallas insurance executive. "If he wasn't winning, he would quit. He would just walk off.... It's what we called Bush Effort: If I don't like the game, I take my ball and go home. Very few people can get away with that." So why could George get away with it? "He was just too easygoing and too pleasant."

Another fast friend, Roland Betts, acknowledges that it is the same in tennis. In November 1992, Bush and Betts were in Santa Fe to host a dinner party, but they had just enough time for one set of doubles.

The former Yale classmates were on opposite sides of the net. "There was only one problem-my side won the first set," recalls Betts. "O.K., then we're going two out of three," Bush decreed. Bush's side takes the next set. But Betts's side is winning the third set when it starts to snow. Hard, fat flakes. The catering truck pulls up. But Bush won't let anybody quit. "He's pissed. George runs his mouth constantly," says Betts indulgently. "He's making fun of your last shot, mocking you, needling you, goading you-he never shuts up!" They continued to play tennis through a driving snowstorm.

"George would say, 'Play that one over,' or 'I wasn't quite ready,'" says Bush-family friend Bo Polk Jr.

Bush's relationships with friends can best be described as sophomoric - he's obsessed with fart jokes, and when he and Rove aren't swapping them, Bush is said to love to fart in front of new aides in the Oval Office and watch them squirm. To derive pleasure from the discomfort (or pain or embarrassment) of others is the definition of sadism.

Bush is also legend for his vengeful nature, a sense of `entitlement' and a very long mean-streak. He wasn't the "loyalty enforcer" on his father's Presidential campaign because he was a nice guy. He was an arrogant, snide, MEAN, sadistic ass to anybody in his father's campaign who he thought wasn't subservient enough. Every successful executive has somebody on his payroll like Bush - the guy who does the firing, drops the axe, and doesn't care what anybody thinks of him. You don't expect the hatchet man to then enter politics as a candidate.

Did you know that during press conferences, it's not enough for journalists to ask questions in a respectful tone and call him "sir" - they must also refer to him as "Mr. President." From a 2004 White House press conference a few days after 20 American soldiers were killed in Iraq and 3 American mercenaries were killed and mutilated, dragged from their burning car in Iraq:
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you a couple of questions. Who is the AP person?

Q I am.


Q Sir, in regard to --

THE PRESIDENT: Who are you talking to?

Q Mr. President, in regard to the June 30th deadline, is there a chance that that would be moved back?

"Sir" wasn't deferential enough for Bush. This was his way of enforcing a hierarchical order in an American President's relationship with the press corps. In case you don't catch Bush's press conferences, here's one from just a few weeks ago, as discussed on Democracy Now!:
AMY GOODMAN: Peter Wallsten, I want to end by asking you about that exchange that you had with President Bush back in June. You were wearing sunglasses during a news conference. The President on the White House lawn. Let's watch and listen.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Peter, are you going to ask that question with those shades on?

PETER WALLSTEN: I can take them off for you.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I’m interested in the shade look, seriously.

PETER WALLSTEN: Alright, I’ll keep it then.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: For the viewers, there's no sun.

PETER WALLSTEN: I guess it depends on your perspective.


AMY GOODMAN: This became a very big story, you and your shades. Why?

PETER WALLSTEN: Well, the President, of course, had no idea at the time that I have a retinal condition, a form of macular degeneration called Stargardt’s, so I have -- most of my central vision is gone. But in that context, what was important was that it was outside in the rose garden, it was an overcast day. But even on an overcast day, the glare can be hard to take, especially sitting outside for an extended period of time. That press conference was over an hour long. So it's pretty painful to sit outside with that much glare without sunglasses. And I frankly forget I had them on. It's just natural for me to have them on outside, and I forgot about them, until he mentioned it when he called on me and asked me, of course, as you just saw, if I was going to keep them on. I offered to take them off, and it became funny.

But he had made fun of several reporters that day, and he did not know about my condition.

Bush's cruelty to animals when he was a boy has been reported, as has his callous disregard for others whose lives he's responsible for:
Karla Tucker and George W. Bush

Under Texas law, each death penalty case has one chance to be reprieved by a governor without the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board must recommend the second reprieve in order for it to be granted. All 18 members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles are appointed by the governor (Clark, 2000). Before Tucker was executed, there were pleas for clemency from Waly Bacre Ndiaye, the United Nations commissioner on summary and arbitrary executions, the World Council of Churches, Pope John Paul II, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, among other world figures. Unusual pleas came from conservative American political figures such as Newt Gingrich and Pat Robertson, interceding on her behalf. Tucker did not ask for a pardon, only commutation of her death sentence to life in prison. Huntsville Prison's warden testified that she was a model prisoner and that, after 14 years on death row, she likely had been reformed. Despite these pleas, Bush signed her death warrant. In 1999, during the 2000 Republican Presidential primary race, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson interviewed Bush for Talk Magazine (September 1999, p. 106). Excerpt from this interview is quoted below:

In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, a number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must look shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.

Just because people "clean up well" (good haircuts and suits) doesn't mean that they're emotionally healthy and well-functioning.

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