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Monday, March 27, 2006

Cheney and Torture

(Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Interview with Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit

Sunday, March 26, 2006


I have always been a fan of historical mysteries, particularly those that provide a plethora of authentic period detail, in addition to a good yarn. Sharon Kay Penman is wonderful and Sunne in Splendour, a story built around Richard III, is terrific. Ellis Peters' medieval Brother Cadfael detective stories are wonderful. Now comes C. J. Sansom, whose 16th century hunchback lawyer-detective Matthew Shardlake is sent by Henry VIII's Thomas Cromwell to investigate the murder of one of his royal commissioners at a monastery. Tensions are high as Henry attempts to eliminate the power of the Church as the Reformation takes hold in England. Good detective story set in the corruption plagued 1500's.

2182 Khz

David Masiel, the author of 2182 Khz, worked on a salvage tug in the Alaskan waters. I hope the experience of Harry Seine, the deckhand protagonist of this riveting story, does not reflect a real event in Masiel's life, for the knockdown of the salvage tug he is the only survivor of, is described in horrific detail. Seine, who's wife has left him for her real estate salesman boss, feels the pull of the arctic where he had worked before in desperately cold conditions. Assigned this time to dismantle an unproductive oil drilling site, Seine keeps the radio tuned to 2182 Khz, the international distress frequency. He begins to hear the ramblings of a scientist named Louis Moneymaker who claims to be marooned on a rapidly deteriorating ice floe. Seine gathers a rescue force of misfits together, and they Lemming-like set out to rescue the scientist .

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Offense v Harm

I must admit to not having blogged as regularly as I suppose I should be. I could say I haven't had the time, but that would be bullshit because it has been my observation that people always find the time to do the things they really want to do. Telling someone you don't have time is simply to avoid saying it's not a priority for you. So anyway, I've been doing a lot of reading and listening to books and some really excellent political analysis podcasts out of WNYC, KQED and KCRW.

Several incidents over the past couple of years and my work as an EEO officer (part-time) dealing matters of offense and harassment, coupled with the "Piss Christ" painting and anti-Moslem cartoons, have made me realize it's time to redefine offense and harm.

Offense is self-inflicted and causes no harm. After all, we can chose not to be offended by a painting, a word, a picture, a gesture, a cartoon. We chose to be offended by something because of what we bring to the item, not because of anything intrinsic to the item itself. I find the Confederate Battle Flag offensive because of what it symbolizes to me even though the displayer may have an entirely different mindset as to what it means to them. No harm is caused by seeing that flag.

Choosing to be offended and demanding that retribution be inflicted on the offended is simply a manifestation of trying to gain power for a particular point of view. That's wrong. Let's, as a society, decide not to be offended, turn our heads or look away, and concentrate on doing away with harmful acts, wars, injuries, physically hurting others. We would be a better and more peaceful world.