No Comment — May 21, 2008, 1:44 pm

A Vital Election-year Initiative Against Torture

This post is about “No Torture. No Exceptions.” It’s an initiative with which I am deeply involved, dedicated to making certain that each presidential candidate makes stopping torture part of their campaign platform.

In its self-declared war on terror, the Bush Administration overturned an American legacy that stretched back to General Washington’s orders at Trenton and Princeton in 1776. The administration repudiated the order that the first and greatest Republican president issued in the heat of the Civil War, in 1863, prohibiting torture and official cruelty. The consequences have been nothing less than disastrous. Americans have been struggling back to regain the nation’s legacy of integrity, and the struggle starts within the Party of Lincoln. As the field of contenders narrowed, it surely was not coincidental that the three survivors—McCain, Huckabee and Paul—were united by one point: their rejection of the torture dogma.

The moral issue hovering over the 2008 election is the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture as a tool of statecraft. This mistake must be thoroughly repudiated, and the nation must undertake a vow never to repeat it. And this issue should not be allowed to divide the nation as a premise of partisan rancor. There is hope in this election year to reverse one of the most fateful decisions in our nation’s history–the decision after 9/11 to disregard America’s historic values and to use torture in the “war on terror.”

All the remaining Presidential candidates–John McCain in the Republican Party, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party–have publicly stated their opposition to the use of torture. Now each of these presidential candidates must get their parties to adopt at their Conventions a party platform plank that returns America to its historic position of absolutely rejecting torture–anywhere, on anyone, for any reason.

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“No Torture. No Exceptions” means:

  • Reaffirming America’s commitment to existing federal laws and international treaties that ban torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under all circumstances.

  • Renouncing all legal interpretations and executive orders that redefine torture and permit such acts as sensory or sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual humiliation, mock executions.

  • Enforcing full transparency of information about how America treats any and all detainees held by our personnel and those in our employ anywhere in the world.

  • Rejecting and abolishing the practice of rendering detainees abroad.

  • Establishing a single standard of interrogation procedures to apply to all persons held in U.S. custody or by those under U.S. control, whether C.I.A., military, or civilian.

  • Treating our detainees as we would have others treat detained Americans.

lincoln

What can we do?

  • Click on www.rejecttorture.org to join the national initiative to Reject Torture, and pass it on to your friends and acquaintances

  • Call each and every presidential candidate now. Insist: “No Torture. No Exceptions.”

John McCain: Phone: (202) 224-2235 Fax: (202) 228-2862
Barack Obama: Phone: (202) 224-2854 Fax: (202) 228-4260
Hillary Clinton: Phone: (202) 224-4451 Fax: (202) 228-0282

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Many comedians consider stand-up the purest form of comedy; Doug Stanhope considers it the freest. “Once you do stand-up, it spoils you for everything else,” he says. “You’re the director, performer, and producer.” Unlike most of his peers, however, Stanhope has designed his career around exploring that freedom, which means choosing a life on the road. Perhaps this is why, although he is extremely ambitious, prolific, and one of the best stand-ups performing, so many Americans haven’t heard of him. Many comedians approach the road as a means to an end: a way to develop their skills, start booking bigger venues, and, if they’re lucky, get themselves airlifted to Hollywood. But life isn’t happening on a sit-com set or a sketch show — at least not the life that has interested Stanhope. He isn’t waiting to be invited to the party; indeed, he’s been hosting his own party for years.

Because of the present comedy boom, civilians are starting to hear about Doug Stanhope from other comedians like Ricky Gervais, Sarah Silverman, and Louis CK. But Stanhope has been building a devoted fan base for the past two decades, largely by word of mouth. On tour, he prefers the unencumbered arrival and the quick exit: cheap motels where you can pull the van up to the door of the room and park. He’s especially pleased if there’s an on-site bar, which increases the odds of hearing a good story from the sort of person who tends to drink away the afternoon in the depressed cities where he performs. Stanhope’s America isn’t the one still yammering on about its potential or struggling with losing hope. For the most part, hope is gone. On Word of Mouth, his 2002 album, he says, “America may be the best country, but that’s like being the prettiest Denny’s waitress. Just because you’re the best doesn’t make you good.”

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