Ode to Poor Uncle Dick

Poor Uncle Dick, all alone at the party hanging out by the booze, but cousin Jimmy was told not to serve him cause Uncle Dick’s on heart medicine, the kind that don’t mix well with alcohol.  Well, no matter anyway, everyone knows he’s a mean drunk so it’s best to keep him sober

Poor Uncle Dick.  Years ago, he lost one nut scaling a fence after trying to steal a car from a used car lot.  After getting inside the fenced lot he lit the place on fire when he couldn’t find the keys to any of the cars.  As he was leaving, poor Uncle Dick was surprised by an angry Rottweiler who chased him around the lot until Dick killed the dog with a tire iron.  He lost his nut when he got stuck on the fence on the way out.  That was a bad night for him, cause when he got to the bottom of the fence there was a police car waiting for him.

Later, he told the judge he did it to impress a girl, Janey Drinkwater, but she said she didn’t even know who he was, but she showed them a series of weird notes she had been getting anonymously from “some creep.”  They never could prove he sent the notes, but he did.  His father got him off in a deal where he could do counseling instead of jail time.  His counselor later said he was a very strange human being and that he shouldn’t be around children or animals. None of this surprised his father, who said his oldest son was always too happy to castrate the hogs and the bulls on the farm. Said his Dad, “The sight of blood never bothered little Dick…well unless it was his own, then he’d go running to his room and hold his hamster by its tail and listen to it squeal.”

Poor Uncle Dick.  Everyone is enjoying the party but him.  Every time he tries to get into a conversation it’s like the sea parts.  I guess people get tired of hearing about his gun collection and hunting exploits.  Jeeez, how many times can you listen to a guy talk about skinning an elk?

Poor Uncle Dick.  They say his mother couldn’t breast feed him because he’d latch on for holy hell until his she screamed for mercy.  Staring down at his malevolent little infant eyes she had the sense that he liked inflicting pain.  “Happiest day of my life is when we switched him to the bottle,” says his Mom.  “Truth be told, and I am not proud of this, but I used to add a little vinegar to the little monster’s formula hoping it might help with the colic.  Didn’t, but I kept trying.”  That’s what Poor Uncle Dick’s mother said, I swear, she told me that more than once.

Poor Uncle Dick still walks around trying to get everyone to look up to him, but Christ, the man is a piece of work if ever there was one.  Hard to tell what his children think of him, and I wouldn’t dare ask his wife.  She just about trembles in his presence.  Can’t hardly imagine what happens in their home.  It’s like he thinks that we all can’t wait to hear more about the battery in his chest that keeps his heart ticking.

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe his heart has to work so hard to beat that there ain’t no kindness in it.  Poor Uncle Dick.  Maybe they’ll find a way to finally get around the statute of limitations on that little mess he got into a few years back,  He says he was just defending his family, but even they say Dick wanted the people to come in the house so he could surprise them with his weapons.  Pretty shocking all the blood they had to clean up.  Two of them fellas still can’t walk, so they keep them in that special prison where they can get treated properly.

Poor Uncle Dick.  What can we do with poor Uncle Dick?

(How about we prosecute him for sanctioning torture and other crimes against humanity?)

William Pfaff Column on Torture

I share this column because it expresses exactly how I feel about the revelations in the Senate Report on Torture. Attached is the link to William Pfaff’s website and his excellent collection of columns.  Below is the full text of today’s column.  Pfaff has long been an intelligent voice about world affairs.

Truly, when we violate the basic codes and legal agreements of humainity and international law, we are no better than those we have condemned in the past.  Unless we bring our own criminals to reckoning, we have lost the core of what makes America meaningful.  And to be clear, those who approved, authorized, or conducted torture are criminals.



Columns : At Nuremberg They Were Hung.

Paris, December 17, 2014 –The wartime Western allies, their judges pronouncing on war crimes in the city of Nuremberg, ordered hung until dead eleven major World War II criminals at Spandau Prison in Germany on October 6, 1946. Those judged were not hung because their crime was that they were themselves torturers; they were too highly placed for that. They were people who had ordered that the gloves be taken off. It was the people under their orders who took the gloves off and tortured and murdered.

For many years preceding the second world war, torture of a human being was widely considered a heinous crime. It was not formalized in international law as such, because it was taken as part of the General Law of Humanity, which is to say law that was obvious to humans in Western Civilization.

Since World War II and the Nuremberg Tribunal, and other war crimes trials held in the months and years that followed, torture has been formally identified as an international crime in a number of conventions and treaties, and by such bodies as the International Red Cross, and of course the United Nations.

It has widely become adopted into national as well as international legal codes. It is part of the Laws of War as recognized by the United States Armed Forces.

The United States has also incorporated it into the Code which binds all men and women serving in the forces. This has added the rule that no soldier may obey an illegal order, such as an order to torture a prisoner.

This obviously places such a soldier in a paradoxical situation since the superior giving the order is assumed to issue only legal orders. The soldier would rarely be in a position to appeal over his head to a higher officer. In general it must be assumed that the soldier is in a position in which his own conscience must decide his act. It is exactly this which, with rare exceptions, is absent from the story we have read in the Senate CIA Report.

In the CIA case there is little record of employees of the agency refusing an order to torture. There is a record of people in this position denouncing the order to the press or to some civilian political authority, Congress, or the public. This typically has resulted in the legal prosecution and conviction of the truth-tellers, or — especially under the Obama administration (to the dismay of Mr. Obama’s admirers) to strenuous efforts to capture and prosecute these people for revealing the truth about what may be crime or malfeasance, as in the cases of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, and of course that of the self-confessed conscientious objector, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning — as well as a few others.

It has for years been known in police and intelligence circles that torture rarely produces useful and timely information from a captive. It typically produces lies meant to stop the torture, untrue information supplied to please the torturer’s apparent wishes, or murder of the victim by the torturer or the torturing institution, as at Guantanamo, and apparently at one or more of the Black Sites.

The most disturbing and basic question is why Americans officials seemed to want so badly to torture when to do so was known – even to the Agency – to be so unprofitable. Dick Cheney in an interview (on “Meet the Press”) stubbornly has insisted that the torture produced rich results, was not properly torture anyway, and that the CIA report published by the Senate was a deliberately concocted and politically motivated compendium of falsehoods by Democratic politicians and the liberal press — even though no doubt can exist that it was prepared from information inside the CIA by members of the Senate staff.

Within the Agency a pathology clearly has existed and prevailed, but it was initiated and promoted by Agency leaders and prominent members of the Bush administration. It was sustained inside the Obama administration by other such persons in official positions and in the Congress despite Mr. Obama’s forbidding of torture and his unfulfilled promise to close Guantanamo prison, where torture apparently continues even now in the form of forced feeding, which serves no defensible military or intelligence purpose at all, other than to debase prisoners (and obviously their jailers, as well as those officials who ordered it). These people have simply wanted, and still want, to torture people.

Apparently nothing is going to be done to change anything as a result of this Senate revelation, just as nothing effective was done about torture and assassination in Vietnam. In Vietnam we had the Phoenix program of assassinations of suspected enemy collaborators among the peasantry. I emphasize ‘suspected,’ having gone along, in a semi-official analytic capacity, on one such interview of a terrified family whose father was not at home.

The American civilian I accompanied was followed by a montagnard tribal executioner so that the job, if necessary, could be done on the spot. The American seemed to like his work. (I mention this — which for me followed several years of work with a CIA-owned international political warfare organization — so as to disabuse the reader who might think that what I am about to conclude is the fancy of an unsophisticated journalist. The episode was soon followed by the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, first of the American invasions of small countries which since have laid waste the Middle East, and which at the time inspired me to seek another way to make a living.)

In my view, those in the American government who ordered and conducted this program of torture by the CIA since the autumn of 2001 should be arrested, tried for self-evident common crimes, and if convicted, hung.

That would convince government officials for years to come that international legal prohibitions of torture and other readily recognized crimes against humanity, which have been ratified by the United States Executive Branch and Congress, shall be obeyed, and illegal orders to the contrary be disobeyed and denounced to the international public if necessary.

Regrettably, in this case in the United States, criminals are no longer hung, nor is the death penalty widely applied to other than the poor. Thus I would assure that the sentence be served in a common prison in the company of ordinary criminals, sharing the ordeal which is the common experience of that vast number of Americans condemned to penal servitude. In no case should it be served in the comfortable federal prisons reserved by our government for white-collar criminals. They should be made to think of Nuremberg.

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