MEMO FROM: Jesus of Nazareth/ TO: Congressional Torture Caucus

Somebody over in Congress finally read the Constitution, or had lunch with Robert Byrd, or maybe their kid came home from civics class and explained it to them. At any rate, they have rediscovered checks and balances and have started to grow some balls.

The McCain amendment S.AMDT.1977 forbids the torture of "persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government." It was attached to a major spending bill, but the current president has announced he will veto it. (I'm pleased that Michigan's own Carl Levin was one of the co-sponsors. I'm very fond of ol' Carl; I ran around with a lot of Jewish kids in high school and Senator Levin reminds me of everyone's dad or uncle.)

There were, of course, abstentions (feelthy people, pah! -- we will speak no more of them) and nine senators who voted against the amendment. In alphabetical order, they are:

Wayne Allard, Colorado (odd choice for a former veterinarian with pretty mountains on his website)
Kit Bond, Missouri (Sen. Bond has a son in the Marines-- I pray the lieutenant's never captured and finds the shoe on the other foot)
Tom Coburn, Oklahoma (Oklahoma stands united for torture! And him an OB/GYN man who delivered babies. It's wonderful how the moral sense can compartmentalize itself)
Thad Cochran, Mississippi (awards from National Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy-- here's a fellow I can talk to)
John Cornyn, Texas (lists his favorite book as "Bonfire of the Vanities" and favorite film as "Jerry Maguire"; thinks his "most embarrassing moment occurred when I muffed the opening pitch at a Round Rock Express baseball game"... we're frickin' doomed)
James Inhofe, Oklahoma (posing with young soldiers who behind the grins are thinking, "If I'm ever captured, this bastard is going to get my nuts cut off.")
Pat Roberts, Kansas (Senate Intelligence Chairman, also on Select Committee on Ethics; and yes, his ethics are "select")
Jeff Sessions, Alabama (Alabama; no surprises there)
Ted Stevens, Alaska (Ted's been a madman for years now, and I see no reason for him to change)

Several bloggers are calling them "The Nazgul", a literary nickname for the nine dark riders and servants of Sauron from "The Lord of the Rings."

I'm curious as to whether or not these fellows openly adhere to the teachings of Yeshua of Nazareth, aka Jesus the Christ, who was himself a victim of torture. I assume they do identify themselves as "Christian", when asked, that being the most popular answer for politicians these days. (I'm looking for a quote from Mark Twain, wherein the devil says to a smug fellow, "The trouble with you is, you think you're the best people here, whereas you're really just the most numerous.") I'm not speaking from any high moral ground-- I indulge myself with elaborate revenge and torture fantasies for people who hurt animals or little kids, bullies in general-- but I'm not making laws. Even from the coldest perspective imaginable, I thought they got the memo Torture Doesn't Work as an intelligence gathering tool. Satisfying, yes, but productive, no. This is an old Victorian notion in fiction, that you've converted the bad guy by making him cry. By the time you're finished venting your anger, the other side has changed their plans and the information you got from the torture victim is out of date. It doesn't change people's minds, either... you can bomb the shit out of someone's home town and blow up any number of old ladies and kindergartners, and all it does is make the citizens even more determined to fight you. Did Abu Ghraib (new even more offensive photos coming soon, I hear) accomplish anything beyond increasing anti-American feeling? How the hell did we blow the lead, the world sympathy we had on September 12?

Has it occured to anyone that the Nazgul Nine might be Al-Qaeda sleeper agents?

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