24 June 2006

dr. mengele lives...

Andrew Sullivan on time.com (June 24, 2006) has written a book review of Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War of Terror by medical ethicist Dr. Stephen Miles. Miles writes from reviewing declassified documents about how Rumsfeld and crew have used military medical professionals to assist in the use of torture by advising on such things as hypothermia, nutritional intake and withdrawal, and sleep deprivation to name a few areas of guidance for effective interrogation.

It really brings to mind the Dr. Mengeles from Hitler's concentration camps. I'd like to say that I don't believe it is happening but with this administration and as Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitane said in The Lion in Winter, "In a world where carptenters get resurrected, anything is possible."

I certainly understand how Andrew can say in his review where...

"After a while, you get numb reading these stories. They read like accounts of a South American dictatorship, not an American presidency. But we learn one thing: once you allow the torture of prisoners for any reason, as this President did, the cancer spreads. In the end it spreads to healers as well, and turns them into accomplices to harm."

As in all things, we can become inured to repetitive news of anything. When we hear about the loss of life in Iraq, we expect it to happen and react coldly and with cynicism. When we hear that there was another drive-by shooting of a 4-year old, we shake our heads and play the game "Ain't it awful."

The saddest thing is that...

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-- George Santayana

And, of course, the future defense will be, "I was only following orders." Where have we heard that before?

just asking...

23 June 2006

missing amendment part 2...

Yes, I realize that the House of Representatives barely passed a law on the line-item veto yesterday. However, there is a big problem with it. The last line-item veto law was struck down as being unconstitutional by the Supreme court. It probably will do it to this one also, if it becomes law. It's unkown if the Senate is going to pass it at this time anyway. It needs to be written into the US Constitution.

An interesting point on the House vote is that the Democrats, except for 34 of them, voted against it and the Republicans voted as a bloc for it. Interesting. Was the vote purely political against the Republicans or do the Democrats want to maintain the status quo for their own greedy benefit?

just asking...


I laughed uncontrollably when I first heard Woody Allen's quote, I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland! [Actually, I think it's the only funny thing he ever said.] However, I understand because I can I get the same feeling when I listen to some Wagner.

So! What Wagner opera should you be in? I like mine but I wouldn't have done what Tannhauser did. I would have stayed with Venus in Venusburg!

Err. Wait! That doesn't sound right. Did she have a brother?

Tannhaeuser und der Saengerkrieg

Your opera is a romantic drama of the struggle
between earthly passion and spiritual

Which Wagner Opera Do You Belong In?
brought to you by Quizilla

thanks to Andy at lastdebate.com

22 June 2006

The Missing Amendment...

While we have been accosted by calls for constitutional amendments on flag burning and marriage that are based on fear and loathing, one of the most important amendments that should be included in the US Constitution is buried consistently - the line item veto.

Most all states have given their governors line item veto powers. Even the Consitution of the Confederate States had it written directly into it. The CSA Constitution was written and adopted in 1861!

What is the problem here? Why is it feared? Why has Mr. Bush never vetoed a congressional bill? Not even a *pocket veto?

The case for the line item veto: remove quasi-legal additions to bills; remove frivolous additions to bills; cut waste from budgetary bills; streamline bills; increase the working relationship between the executive and legislative branches; control the use of portions of bills that have nothing to do with the intent of the bill. There are many, many more reasons.

The reasons it hasn't been enacted: politics! loss of pork! don't step on my toes congressmen; did I mention loss of pork?

Pork is great as long it is done as a roast loin or butterfly chop. It's the other white meat...

*"President Bush attempted to pocket veto two bills during intrasession recess periods. Congress considered the two bills enacted into law because of the president's failure to return the legislation. The bills are not counted as pocket vetoes in this table." Presidential Vetoes, 1789–2005 at infoplease.com

20 June 2006

Gee, Officer Krupke...

I assume that most everyone has heard about this already...

  • Pentagon Lists Homosexuality As Disorder

  • Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position.

    The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.

    The Washington Post, June 20, 2006.

    ...decades after mental health experts abandoned that position is the key phrase. Rather than making progress, gays just keep going backwards. Instead of "Don't ask, don't tell" it's now

    Officer Krupke, you're really a square;
    This boy don't need a judge, he needs an analyst's care!
    It's just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
    He's psychologic'ly disturbed!

    So what's a body to do?

    Officer Krupke

    Gee, Officer Krupke,
    We're down on our knees,
    'Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
    Gee, Officer Krupke,
    What are we to do?
    Gee, Officer Krupke,
    Krup you!

    Lyrics from West Side Story, Gee, Officer Krupke by Leonard Bernstein

    16 June 2006

    Hudson v. Michigan...

    ...and Michigan won.

    but even if Mr. Hudson is a criminal and an unsavory character, what have we all lost?

    If you are not familiar with the case it deals with the "knock and announce" rule that prior to yesterday has been upheld by the Supreme court since 1914 and is based on case law tradition that harkens back to 13th century England's Magna Carta.

    Knock and announce, in United States law of criminal procedure, is an ancient common-law principle which requires law enforcement officers to announce their presence and provide residents of an opportunity to open the door to the residence when conducting a search.
  • Wikipedia

  • Simply stated, police and security type forces have been required to knock on a door and announce that they are the police. Just think of the number of times you have seen Lennie Briscoe on Law and Order pound on a door and scream, Police! Open up!

    The purpose is based on the Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy attributes. When the framers of the Constitution put the amendment into place, they were still stinging over their experiences with the British who barged in, took over and destroyed people's homes. Over the centuries it has become a mainstay of privacy rights. Until yesterday.

    The problem with the Supreme Court ruling isn't just with the destruction of the knock and announce principle. It is with the current administration that has abused rules of law and constitutional gaurantees because it believes it has the ability to do what it deems necessary to protect you and me. You and I need to be fearful of how they interpret this ruling. Very fearful.

    On another level, this ruling also smacks of a precedent that the currenct administration, christianists and right wingers are vocally and forcefully fighting - activist judges. While they fear that activist judges are going to change the face of law to include same-sex marriage and other societal considerations based on other groups' agendas, they are not above doing the same thing by pressuring appointments of judges to bolster their own agendas. Sadly, they don't see this as the same thing. They importune that they are only trying to uphold the constructionist view of the Constitution. This is an agenda.

    The Hudson v. Michigan ruling clearly shows for the first time that the appointments of Roberts and Alito have changed the bent of the new Court majority to a conservative one. Though they have been slow to ease into this direction with most of the Court rulings this session, the truth will and is starting to come out.

    It will be interesting to see what is next. Though some people are optimists and interpret the mood of the populace as having a sway over the court, self-righteous people do not listen to anyone but themselves.

    In The Lion in Winter Katherine Hepburn has a line as Eleanor of Aquitaine that sums it a lot up...

    In a world where carpenters get resurrected, anything is possible.

    ...where's a good carpenter when you need him/her?

    13 June 2006

    what does a kiss taste like?


    A kindergarten teacher was doing a unit on the five senses. One day she did a taste test with her students. She picked Kevin to do the first test. She blind folded him, put a Hershey's chocolate kiss in his mouth and asked, "Kevin, do you know what it is?"

    "No, I don't," said Kevin.

    "Okay, I'll give you a clue. It's the last thing your daddy wants from your mommie before he goes to work every day."

    Suddenly, little Karen jumps up and yells,


    out of the mouth's of babes...

    11 June 2006

    hippo and dog...

    nothing need to be said about these two. they're, errr, charming. well, decide for yourself with the next one...

    04 June 2006

    more Iraqi cunundrums...

    "The current battle is going very well," ---------- said, and then continued with a sentence.... "The problem is that it's not producing the conditions that will almost certainly win for us."

    A comment made about Iraq by a Bush administration operative in a high security meeting?

    Guess again...

    ...the Presidential Recordings Program at the University of Virginia, played recordings of Johnson's conversations, including one from 1965 where he asked Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara how the war was going. Vietnam and Iraq: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

    is the U.S. getting more and more bogged down in a situation that is not only repeating history but replacing Mi Lai with Haditha?

    just asking...

    03 June 2006

    liberal ←→ conservative…

    The way I see it, the biggest difference between the conservative and the liberal is the desired end result. The former wants everyone to believe in one way with no freedom of choice or free will. The latter wants everyone to believe in freedom of choice and free will with the ability to make personal decision.

    Thus, the liberal will leave the conservative to believe and act in any way that he/she wants as long as no one else is harmed or has his/her personal rights in any way infringed and everyone has the ability to make the decision for him/herself.

    The conservative, on the other hand, wants to dictate what everyone can believe and how they can act based on the conservative’s interpretation of his/her view of the world.

    [A caveat - I realize that this does not speak for all conservatives nor all liberals. There are those on the conservative side that are more centrist and left of center and those on the liberal side that are more left left-of-center who agree that everyone has freedom of choice and will.]

    The problem is that the right right-of-center conservative and ultra-right conservative are the most vocal and feared at the moment and the ultra-left of center liberal is jealous that he/she perceives having almost no voice right now.

    The talking point for the last several years, because of right-wing conservative hegemony, has focused around same-sex marriage and freedom of expression. It’s obvious, through various polls, that the majority of U.S. citizens have become tired of this continuous harangue and want it over and done. Unfortunately, politics is keeping it mainstream and it rears its ugly head whenever there is an election. Case in point, Bush’s Monday media event pandering to the right and christianists. Even after his wife Laura's exhortation not to make it an election issue and Mary Cheney's recently published book.

    Now, I have written before that I’m against same-sex marriage in the religious sense. That’s a belief system concern. In the legal sense, everyone should have the same rights as everyone else. [Yes, I am a liberal.] There are many opposite-sex relationships that don’t have the protections that laws guarantee married couples. They need to be protected also. There needs to be a revision of the laws to reflect what is actually happening in civilization and society. We are told this is what a living breathing constitution is meant to do. The right insists on strict-constructionism based on what was happenig at the end of the 18th century when the Constitution was adopted.

    This isn’t the first time there has been a shift in contemporary thought on marriage. In ancient Greece, marriage was for the continuance of the society. Love was not thought of very highly because the philosophy of the time believed it was a sign of insanity. People in love did insane things. At the same time, love was believed a transcendental experience that only two men could appreciate.

    In ancient Rome, almost the same circumstance surrounded marriage with it being a contractual union of powerful families and arranged for political and economic advantages and reasons. The family was fluid because it could change at any time with divorce, adoption, re-marriage, etc. Love was usually something achieved outside of marriage and accepted as long as scandal and loss of prestige was avoided.

    The Middle Ages followed the same contrivance in marriage, usually with an economic tone. Even the lower classes in each of these societies married for economic and power reasons. Almost every marriage was arranged. The church even recognized droit du seigneur - the right of first night – "a widespread popular belief in an ancient privilege of the lord of a manor to share the bed with his peasants' newlywed brides on their wedding nights." [Doesn’t that break the seventh commandment?]

    The last major change was at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. In the Edwardian and Victorian Eras, marriage was strictly a contractual agreement, again with parents choosing children’s partners. Love entered the picture with marriage in the bohemian movement and the post-World War I expatriate world. There was a distinct liberal drive to connect love as a necessity to secure a successful long-term married relationship and, more important, to fulfill the completeness of the human psyche. Before this, most marriages only lasted until one or the other spouse died which was maybe for their entire lives! Except in ancient Rome, divorce was considered an evil, and even in Rome it was not considered lightly. There could be too many entangling-alliances and pacts that could upset the balance of power - literally!

    There were always romances and romantic overtures but usually not with one’s spouse. Society, with religion at its core, began to take a dim view of infidelity because of the construct of core beliefs that suddenly became tantamount to more vocal segments of the population who sensed a loss of influence due, again, to a perceived loss of power and economic strength.

    The same situation is happening again. Segments of the population feel a loss of influence and a loss of economic advantage and a greater sense of powerlessness. Instead of everyone believing the same things, there is a great secularism and diversity in the world. The sphere of influence is no longer in the neighborhood. There are outside pressures that come from the other side of the globe 12,000 miles away, and we boomerang our own interpretations and influence right back over those 12,000 miles.

    The historical result is happening again - reactionary, xenophopic, bigoted hyperbole - to stem the tide of the inevitable. The Stoics tried it in Rome; the Church tried it with the Inquisition; the post-Civil War South tried it with miscegenation for over a century; the "self-appointed" border patrols are insuring it by fighting immigration policy change; anti-alcohol leaders wrote Prohibition in the Constitution; and, finally, the right christianists are attempting to write discrimination and fear into the Constitution about same-sex marriage.

    All of these were/are conservative based enterprises. The basic definitinon of a conservative is a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes. The one historical lesson conservatives have never learned is that the attitudes mentioned in the previous paragraph along with all others have failed. The Stoics no longer exist; the Inquisition ended in scandal; miscegenation is a thing of the past; writing morality into the Constitution with the Prohibition Amendment was a huge societal failure; and, finally, the constant pressure for the FMA is tiring the general public.

    There is no way to predict what the final outcome is going to be, but if you follow, historically, what has always happened in the battle between liberal ←→ conservative, neither side has actually gotten everyting they want.

    and that's the beauty of a democracy built with check & balances, a separation of church and state, and a system that was created to modify with the times.

    02 June 2006

    i'm mortified...

    One key element behind corporal mortification is to feel solidarity with the poor and the suffering, denying oneself some comfort, whether it be by fasting or wearing a cilice.

    This is from an opinion piece in today's New York Times: Opus Dei's Box-Office Triumph by a professor in English who has been a member of Opus Dei since he was 18.

    Personally, I think it's beyond sick, but as the saying goes Whatever blows your skirt up...

    In the article he lauds the joys of celibacy, the cilice and sef-mortification. He says that the DaVinci Code has done a great service piquing the curiosity of people about Opus Dei. My response to him is, "Of course it has, silly!"

    People are curious about the bizarre. They are drawn to freaks and sideshows. They slow down at accident sites to see if there is blood. They run to follow ambulances and fire engines to see someone burn. They play the game of Ain't if awful! with just about everything gruesome, gossipy, and gory. It's a major part ingrained in the human psyche and always has been. People love to see others suffer as long as it isn't themselves doing the suffering.

    We watch television shows that have someone getting run over, shot, raped, and mugged. We play video games where we have to karate kick, shoot, or stab a character to get to the goal of "winning." We go to disaster movies that have buildings collapse, earthquakes that destroy cities, and cruise ships that capsize.

    We are fascinated by someone else being harmed. We are enthralled with someone else being tortured. We are gleeful at others people's misfortune. As long it is not our own. The thought of someone inflicting pain and suffering on himself is probably the most intriguing to humans.

    Why would someone willingly cause themselves harm? He says it is to "feel solidarity with the poor and the suffering..." I say it's to draw attention to the low self-esteem and poor view he has of himself.

    WWJD? He probably would do something positive for the poor and the suffering. He probably would lament the fact that anyone would be inflicting pain on himself in his name. He probably would agree that contemplation is necessary but not at the expense of the self. He probably would remind them that he didn't inflict pain on himself. Others did!

    Life's a bitch and then you die. Why make it harder?

    just asking...