Friday, July 25, 2008

President Bush Takes a Stab at Defining Administration's Torture Policy

This week, documents obtained by the ACLU suggested the Bush Administration's modus operandi for interrogating suspected terrorists. In carefully crafted language, assistant attorney general, Jay Bybee, informed CIA operatives that they would not be guilty of torture if the acted "in good faith" in interrogating suspects. Bybee noted that the "good faith" requirement would be met if interrogators acted without the intent to cause the type of pain that one would endure were one dying or suffering organ failure.

Responding to the wording in the documents, President Bush confirmed that the Administration has taken a new position on interrogations that is consistent with the U.S. commitment not to engage in acts of torture. "We don't mess 'round with that. . . uh, uh," Bush said. "That--those things. . . We just don't," he added.

What it was that the Administration did not mess 'round with was unclear, particularly after Bush attempted to clarify the U.S. policy on interrogations and torture.

"We have a very firm--very firm--and very fair policy," the President said as he adjusted the crook in his tie. "It's, it's a policy that is just very firm and very fair--I don't know how else to say it."

When pressed to try, Bush offered that "the test, the litmus test, if you will, is in the pudding."

Responding to one reporter's suggestion that his reply made no sense, Bush screwed up his eyes, turned his head so that his cheek was parallel to the podium, and replied, "Who? What? Come on now, Sally. That's like we say down in Texas--it's not how you finish but what the person before you said--or something like that. You print what you want--I know you're gonna anyway." [President laughs, press corps chuckles nervously, President grabs podium with one arm and rights himself as his suit bulges on one shoulder and pinches on the other].

Appeased, the reporter sat down only to be followed up by a more serious looking reporter from the White House press corps. "What does it mean to be like death or organ failure? What are the symptoms? How would one know when to stop? And is this policy still in place? If not, what is the current U.S. policy aimed at discouraging the use of torture in interrogations?"

"Sam, Sam," Bush replied, half-smiling as he picked at his molars with his tongue attempting to dislodge a jelly bean that he had eaten a day earlier. "You know that that's all whatever we make of it, right?"

"Ah, I don't follow you," Sam answered, wanting to jot down the response but unable to move.

"It's just like I said, it is what it is," President Bush answered. "It's pain--it hurts. We all hurt, Sam. But that's a good thing. Not bad. People say, 'Mr. President, why is gas so expensive? Mr. President, why are we still in Iraq? Mr. President, why is the economy faltering?' That's not me, that's them. Heck, Sam, I don't know. It's because it is good. And the Democrats, they want you to think that everything is bad. That nothing is good. But ask them if they've passed my off-shore and refuge drilling bill."

Defeated, Sam sat down. Nobody followed.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Airlines Tout New Consumer Friendly Measure

In an effort to meet changing consumer needs, Northwest and Delta Airlines earlier today announced that they will be changing service on many of their longer routes. The changes will be mainly in the form of what the airlines have termed "reduced mileage overage," or RMOs. In layman's terms, the RMOs will result in passengers being jettisoned from the plane while in flight.

Responding to initial inquiries about the RMOs, Northwest Airlines' CEO Doug Steenland stated that the ancillary purpose of the program was to reduce the number of "heavy" miles flown by the airline, thereby cutting sky-rocketing fuel prices, but that the move is really more about being customer conscious.

"When we really thought about what makes our business grow, it was a no-brainer," Steenland said. "Rather than hauling significant quantities of weight over long distances, RMOs will allow us to haul less weight over shorter routes."

Steenland took exception to suggestions that consumers might respond negatively to the the new measures. "I guess that remains to be seen," Steenland shot back. "Our initial data suggests that this is a service that many passengers want. Until now, those desires simply have gone unmet by the other airlines. We look to be leaders in this area. We believe this puts us at the forefront in responding to customers' needs."

Steenland quickly added that the lighter loads should help the airlines arrive on time with a higher frequency. "We think that's very important," Steenland said as he thoughtfully stared at the golden parachute in the corner of his office. "Customers care about timeliness and, while we may have lost our way in that respect over the last decade, this signals our re-dedication to being on time. We think it's a win-win-win."

Delta officials echoed Steenland's buoyancy. "This is just a great day for the Delta/Northwest family," beemed Delta Airline's CEO, James Whitehurst. "We will be a faster, more viable, more consumer-oriented airline with this move."

RMOs are not without their critics. Leading the charge against RMOs is PETA CEO, Ingrid Newkirk. "Today marks a dark day in the airline industry," Newkirk somberly stated as she stood with picket in hand, protesting outside Delta's headquarters in Atlanta. Dressed in an all-peanut shell tutu, Ms. Newkirk argued that Northwest and Delta had ignored PETA's repeated requests to examine the strong likelihood that deaths would result from the implementation of RMOs. "They don't want to hear it, because they know it is true," Newkirk sobbed. "The ducks, the geese--land animals living over drop areas--they all mean nothing to the airlines. It's all about dollars to these companies."

Steenland and Newkirk rejected Newkirk's criticsim as unfounded. "There simply is no credible, rigorously tested, scientific evidence to suggest that dropping humans from a plane at 10,ooo-30,000 feet poses any risk to wildlife," the CEOs agreed. "The simple fact is that the vast majority of drops will be over substantially deep bodies of water, thereby reducing what we believe to be the very remotest of possibilities of collateral damage to animals and birds."

There was no immediate word from other major airlines on whether they intended to follow Delta and Northwest in implementing RMOs.

Wall Street cheered the news, sending shares of Delta and Northwest up $2.40 and $1.75, respectively.