First came the vote to increase federal money for fetal stem cell research--the most promising strain of medical research this side of gene therapy and a field of basic science in which the US has begun to lag world competitors thanks to the agitation of religious militants. Chalk one up for science, business, and reason.
Then came the gang of 14 compromise to preserve minority rights in judicial consent--the preservation of a basic principal underlying Senate rules and practice since the birth of the Republic. Chalk one up for civility and constitutional principles.
Finally came the vote yesterday in the House to begin rolling back some of the noxious, over intrusive powers given to law enforcement under the Patriot Act--an act that was always intended to be re-examined and rolled back over time. Chalk one up for civil liberties.
But just when it seemed safe for Congressional Republicans to disagree with their extremist President, just when it seemed like there could be civil discourse again on issues of crucial importance, just when it seem like reason--not knee-jerk, reactionary jingoism and emotion--could return to federal governance, just when it seems like some sense of balance and sanity is creeping back into Republican politics, along comes an irresponsible clown--Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions.
Now, I've never called any Republican lawmaker a wing-nut or any other pejorative common in leftie parlance. Childish, imprecise, name-calling does nothing to advance the cause of setting right all that's gone wrong with this country since Sept. 11th. But after Sessions' statements yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, all kinds of loopy insults spring to mind.
Speaking in defense of the perpetual detention without charge of Guantanamo prisoners, Sessions not only falsely claimed that "This country is not systematically abusing prisoners" (when the same kinds of abuse happen at military facilities in three countries over a period of years "systematic" is exactly the adjective that fits), but Sessions went on to say of the Gitmo detainees, "Some of them need to be executed."
As far as I know Sessions has never heard a word of evidence against a single Gitmo detainee. He doesn't know what the detainees have or haven't done. He probably does not even know the name of even a single detainee. But there he is on the floor of the U.S. Senate calling for their execution.
Besides the sheer irresponsibility of Sessions ridiculous and nauseating statement, Sessions barbaric assertion reveals a disdainful sense that Gitmo detainees are somehow less than human, deserving less than the basic human rights we perpetually call for a despotic country like China to extend to its prisoners.
An international military prison system that operates outside of any law and only at the whim of the executive branch in which torture is systemically used as an interrogation tool is bad enough--the hideous legacy for which history will best remember the Bush Administration. But apparently, for Sessions, this is not enough. What the military should be doing is rounding people up and capping them. Chalk one up for the forces of barbaric totalitarianism.