Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How You Find My Blog

I've recently noticed a spike in traffic to my blog. No, it is not because my daily readership is growing. No, it is not because more people are linking to my blog.

People find my blog because they search for the "goonies sequel". My post a while back on the subject is consistently in the top five results.

You search for "Qdoba hours" and you get this post on why Clinton is like Qdoba.

Maybe you are trying to find out if Starbucks has Italian sodas. If you google it, you'll find my page.

A lot of people must have questions about airplane exit-row seating. They find the rules here.

And a curious number google "McDonalds soda sizes" and find my page.

The rest of you link to my blog via one of the blogs on the right and some other blogs. If that's not you, then it is a direct link, mostly meaning, you actually are a regular. Thanks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Enger's Return

Breezing through the book reviews in the Sunday paper a name drew my attention. It wasn't a book review, rather an article about Leif Enger writing his new book. Enger wrote Peace Like A River, one of my favorites, and his new book is So Brave, Young, and Handsome. And it is already out. How did I not know this?

He will be in Milwaukee on May 8th to read from his new book. I'll be there.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
Asked the central philosophy that underscores his fiction, asked if he was religious, Enger said, "I would say that, ah, I value faith a lot. Faith is important to me. Religion--I associate the world with ritual and I'm not very ritualistic. My world-view is a Christian one, so it follows that the things I value in my stories would have to do with sacrifice and atonement and goodness and joy. Particularly joy. I love books that seem as if they were joyfully written. Certainly they would include failure and despair and sadness, but I never feel that those things by themselves are the whole story."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Diminishing Returns

Once again, the hope I hold for Obama reaching the White House is dwindling.

Another primary has passed where Hillary won by just enough (in her mind) to justify staying in the race. By the way, the final margin between the two candidates in Pennsylvania was 9.2%.

The longer Hillary stays in, the longer she will attack the true front runner in her party, thus giving Republican focus groups more fodder for attack ads and more material for Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly. I used to love O’Reilly, but I tuned in last night and couldn’t even bring myself to watch more than one minute of the man as he railed on Obama for the issues that don’t matter—Wright, the Weather Underground, Obama’s bitter comments, etc. And then these people on TV go on to talk about how Obama is not vetted. They must be kidding. I truly can’t remember the last time I heard a criticism of Obama on FOX, CNN, and MSNBC that was related to one of his policies.

I guess I see the machine really picking up speed now and it makes me feel hopeless. It is a machine determined to not let Obama become the POTUS. I don’t know all of the fuel that the machine runs on, but it is clear it is partly made up of paranoia of the black man, the aversion of Obama (a man with the middle name Hussein), Islamophobia, and the simple thought of a Democratic White House.

It is one big machine. And we need to stare it down.

For what it is worth, I am trying to. One of the only ways I know how to is by writing here, but soon I might know one other way because I recently applied to be a full-time volunteer for the Obama campaign this summer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Spike Lee Joint

In the absense of Kate (she is at Purdue until tomorrow) I decided to hit up the documentaries at the library and I found a goodie.

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

The documentary looks into the lives of New Orleans residents prior to, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. A worth while documentary always educates. That is what I love about them, and Spike Lee brings it in this one. There are countless interviews of residents and professionals working in the aftermath of Katrina. Their stories are horrific, touching, and sad. I found myself laughing at people throwing out all political correctness. My jaw dropped at the site of the floating dead in the storm surge. And I cried watching footage of people returning, for the first time, to their homes of 50+ years only to find ruin and heartbreak where there once was so much hope and pride.

This documentary was originally a TV mini-series on HBO, but is now available in a 3-disc set at your local libary. So check it out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A & F

Okay, a number of things about this video of Obama's speech last night from Indiana.

First, I am posting this because I wanted to make note of the Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement behind Obama. I don't know if anyone else on the blogs has already mentioned this. I wouldn't be surprised. It can't be a coincidence that the three gentlemen directly behind Obama are all wearing A & F shirts. On the YouTube video it is a little hard to read the third guy's shirt, but trust me, it is A & F.

Second, Obama does something Hillary never does when she loses. He congratulates his opponent and he thanks the voters in Pennsylvania who voted for him. Hillary can never bring herself to congratulate Obama and if you voted for her, but didn't win the state for her, she would rather care less. Looks like she is the one that is bitter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Here She Comes

"The road to 1600 Pennsylvania runs right through the heart of Pennsylvania." - Hillary Clinton's opening line of tonight's victory speech. It made me laugh. Hillary really has turned into a comedian. She went on to say, "We can only keep winning." I can't agree anymore because she is going to have to take over 80% of the remaining votes to even have a legit reason to be in the race and that is not going to happen. Is she trying to make it sound like winning is a habit of hers? Hillary, remember 11 states in a row?

Oh my gosh. She did not just say, "The tide is turning." I hope the stage collapses, or she falls off the front end of it. Please pull a Dole.

The tide turned a long time ago, Hillary, and you are just holding onto these scattered victories because it makes you feel good. Your supporters argue that these victories show you are the stronger candidate and that you deserve the nomination despite being behind in delegates, pledged delegates, and popular vote count. We are told that if you really did make a habit of winning, and if you really were in the lead, and Obama was behind, that leaders in the Democratic party would not be calling for Obama to drop out. That isn't believable for one moment. If Obama was losing to the Clintons as badly as you are losing to him, Hillary, it would be much more of a done deal. Clinton is still a stronger brand in the democratic party. He wouldn't stand a chance and you don't either. Pennsylvania....whoopdee-freaking-do.

And, I might add, Obama would have dropped out by now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

PA Primary Eve

In the last six weeks I have done a below average job on writing non-political posts. I got some ones in there that might not have found their way to the blog if there were primaries throughout that time, but I gave up on completely abandoning any talk about the candidates and the race for the White House after I took a spin through the archives. According to the archives, this blog covered politics long before I remember ever writing about politics. And so, after a pseudo-break from political blogging I return today with some very casual thoughts on the next primary because tomorrow, voting is back on the menu.

Clinton is set to win Pennsylvania. All the major polls out there show her lead to be anywhere from 6 to 14 percentage points. Andrew Sullivan is of the opinion that without a double-digit Clinton victory in Pennsylvania, Clinton doesn’t have a legitimate reason to stay in the race. I definitely subscribe to this, but do I think Clinton will go on even if she just wins by two points? Of course. I think most of us do.

Since the ABC debate and bittergate, the networks have really been hitting Obama hard for hitting back at Hillary. I don’t know what the media expects of Obama. Yes, he is classy, but classy people need to defend themselves and I think that is all he has done since being triple teamed by Gibson, Stephanopoulos, and Clinton last week.

The best case scenario for Obama is a narrow defeat tomorrow and victory in the remaining primaries followed by a Clinton concession speech. The latter determining factor being the most unlikely, but if this did happen it would be a boon to the Democrats chances in November because they wouldn’t have to wait until August to solidify a nomination.

The worst case scenario for Obama and everyone that doesn’t want McCain in the White House will be if Clinton stays in the race until the convention like she vowed to do several weeks ago in the Washington Post. If she takes this to the convention I will be very skeptical about an Obama victory in November. Remember the good old days when Clinton voters said they would support Obama if he won the nomination and vice versa? Well, that dream has died. Each day that this battle rages on polarizes the democrats even more. I used to think a Giuliani/Clinton match-up was the worst possible. That was before Clinton decided to stay in the race even though it is mathematically impossible for her to win with numbers of delegates, states won, and popular vote.

Honestly, I think Obama will definitely win the nomination, but that hasn’t kept me from having nightmares about voting for Clinton or McCain. I think I would pass altogether.

Heads Up

Obama is going to be on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight. I think it might just be a split-screen conversation, but it would be nice to have him in studio.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Clinton, Edwards, and Obama

Colbert really pulled out all the stops last night in his last broadcast from Philadelphia. Clinton, Edwards, and Obama made appearances on the show and Obama put distractions on notice. Oh, snap.

Another Tour

This picture from Sunday's paper made me stop what I was doing. Without reading the caption I assumed it was related to the Iraq War. Sure enough, dad just left for a second tour. One of the saddest pictures ever.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Small World

A customer came into the store yesterday carrying her own cup for us to make her drink in. I was on bar so I stepped over to grab her cup. I looked down at the cup and saw "Caffe Luna Longmont, Colorado" on the side. No freaking way. Her family just moved out to Milwaukee after living in Longmont for seven years. We had a nice chat. I introduced myself and said, "I never thought I'd be in Milwaukee serving a Starbucks latte in a Caffe Luna travel mug."

Live-blogging the debate

I missed most of it. That's no big deal because it sounds like I didn't miss much, but I got my updates on some blogs.

8.33 pm. So far, neither Gibson nor Stephanopoulos have asked a single policy-related question. They seem utterly uninterested in foreign or domestic policy. After the past eight years, we have had half an hour with nothing but process questions. Gibson and Stephanopoulos are clearly part of the problem in this election and part of what has to be reformed.
Amen. From what I have read and from the 30 second clips I have seen, Gibson and Stephanopoulos should be ashamed of the debate they conducted. Gibson was booed by the audience, for crying out loud.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Choice Part

The two best bits of commentary on Obama's "bitter" quote I have found are from an emailer on a blog and Jon Stewart.

The emailer:

Thank God for Obama's speech. I live in rural Kentucky and yes, many, many people here have nothing: no job, no money, and no future. Ironically, people on the coasts call him elitist for saying something that most here agree with. Maybe that's why nobody is talking about it around here--old news.

And I paraphrase Jon Stewart. He made a point of all the elite criticism by reminding us that elite means good. He went on to say that he wants the president to be much smarter than him. I think he makes an excellent point and very accurately makes fun of the way the MSM and politicians throw the word around.

I don't want dumb in The White House. I don't want average in The White House. If Obama is elite, I want elite in The White House.

Side note: Stephen Colbert has been broadcasting from Philadelphia all week and so far the shows have been off the hook. You should really try to catch one on the tube or right here. Last night Michelle Obama was on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Health - The Statistics

A couple of weeks ago I set out to do this post on my health. I ended up with a colossal post, but one that covered too broad a spectrum. I ended up with chapters instead of paragraphs.

So, the first installment of a new series of posts on my health debacle is going to feature mostly numbers. Here are the stats:

1 - Average number of doctor appointments in a six-month period, prior to this sickness

23 – Appointments I had from October 10, 2007 to March 6, 2008. The actual number of appointments is probably higher because some days I would go in for a routine visit and then have the doctor schedule another appointment later in the day…mostly blood work.

10 – Different doctors that I saw

7 – Vials of blood drawn

1 – CT Scan

2 – MRIs – One without contrast, one with contrast

4 – X-rays

1 – Echocardiogram

6 – Drugs

1 – Hearing test

0 – Diagnoses

The last number really is my favorite. After all that, what I can’t tell you is what made me sick. Instead of trimming the list of possible diagnoses, each appointment seemed to broaden the many ways I could experience pain, suffering, and death.

Throughout, I have gone back to October 8th—the beginning. I’ve ran through the events of that day and that weekend countless times trying to pin down a possible culprit of this scary and expensive adventure. Like I said not too long ago, I believe it might have been Lyme disease because of all my matching symptoms, but we will never know for sure. I was also in a heavily forested area the day before my headache set in and I could have easily picked up a tick. I was tested for the Lyme antibody earlier this year and it was negative. However, prior to having that round of blood work done, I was told that the test for the Lyme antibody is often inconclusive, meaning it can be negative but still the patient can show symptoms of Lyme disease.

Coming soon:

Thoughts on the health care I received, faith, death, finances, and my miraculous comeback from a disease that took me to the precipice of eternity and back again.

That last part was a joke, but really, I am doing much better and am very healthy by all accounts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Unbelievable

From last week's NY Times Book Review of Michael Kinsley's new book Please Don't Remain Calm: Provocations and Commentaries:

Kinsley deserves special credit for exposing the curious syntactical tic that has made television news abolish all forms of the verb "to be," including "'is,' 'are,' 'am,' even 'were' and 'was.'" He quotes Lou Dobbs on CNN: " 'Top government officials today adding their voices to the call for Americans to remain vigilant.' (I not kidding: These his opening words on that evening's program.)"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Masters

I was just sitting here thinking how corny the names of the golf holes at Augusta are when Nick Faldo told me that it was a writer, a famous one at that, who came up with "Amen Corner" for holes 11, 12, and 13 (I believe). Well, I still think the name of that corner and other holes at this course are just ridiculous. They even have names for the bridges, ex. Hogan Bridge. Pretty much everything about golf is very respectable, but giving names like "Tea Olive", "Flowering Crab Apple" and "Pampas" to golf holes is a little hokey.

Sorry, Rachel.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Six Hours On Sunday

I had no clue what I was getting into when I wrote this three years ago. I knew little about what a blog was exactly when I started my own. I was only vaguely aware of the blogosphere and the web of the millions of bloggers out there sharing stories and opinions and lives.

Three years ago, I started this blog because I was hopeful that it would force me to practice the art I love so much. I was right. Without this tiny little place in the blogosphere, where I can self-publish anything I want any day I want, I would not be where I am today.

So, this site started as a writing experiment. It has turned into so much more. Now, I see this blog as a door. At first I was very apprehensive about cracking it open and letting the outside world in on my little secrets, but with a comment left on my blog there, a conversation about my blog here, my reluctance has been whittled away.

I think within the last year I kicked that door open. A huge reason the door remains open is because of you. You come back every day. Without an audience this platform would be much different. Maybe there wouldn’t be a platform at all. I owe this to all of you and an innocent decision I made exactly three years ago that has become a huge part of me.

Thank you.

An Onion Headline in real life

Parents Fight Over Which Gang Toddler Should Join
Police: Mother a crip, Father a Westside Baller

Via email from Kate.

I like the shoes

No real confirmation on this video being real or fake. After watching several times I definitely think it is fake...certainly possible, but fake. I see no reason why Kobe would be doing stunts like this weeks before the playoffs or after the playoffs. Kobe does say, "March 31st, 2008" toward the end of the video, but still, I think it might be a good special effect.

Aaron, it's an Aston Martin, not a 3 Series. My bad. Now that I think about it BMW doesn't make sense. It is way too low class for Kobe.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Look What I Found

A new grocery store in town carries the stuff. I was pretty ecstatic when I found it. I enjoy how when you are gone from a place you love the simplest things can take you back.

Desperate to get my hands on more beer crafted in Colorado, I asked a gentleman perusing the microbrew wall with me, if he knew of any place in Milwaukee that sells Fat Tire. He told me that New Belgium doesn't have a liquor license for Wisconsin yet, but it is available in Minnesota and Illinois.

I was expecting the bad news. Good thing Chicagoland is only 45 minutes away.


For you Colorado voters.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Gore passes the torch to Obama

A long time ago in a city far, far away someone once shared with me his concern that Gore could be the antichrist. This fear was shared with me and others, namely the young-ins in the back of my car, in all seriousness. It is hard to say exactly where this fanatical opinion stems from. However, it is clear that the mantle of antichrist is shifted from one Democratic front runner to the next. I confess though, in 2004 I didn’t hear anyone accuse Kerry of being the antichrist. That doesn’t mean though that in the private corners of the world people didn’t utter “Kerry” and “antichrist” in the same sentence. Perhaps Kerry wasn’t a legitimate enough threat, but Obama must be because I heard him being referred to as the next antichrist in a very public corner of the world…the coffee shop I work in. The person doing the preaching was, unfortunately, leading a Bible study in the book of Revelation.

He was leading a Bible study. That’s troubling. That is what has always been troubling. I’ve only heard antichrist accusations from people that presumably follow Jesus. I can’t get them to change, just like I can’t change the minds of people in Jesus Camp who preach that Harry Potter books and movies are products of the devil.

I can only pray that the next time a Christian says “Obama could be the antichrist”, they won’t be leading anyone.

There is no line to cross

From last week's Newsweek:

“We have enemies for which no attack is too cruel.” – Republican presidential candidate John McCain, in a major address to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, in which he argued that the United States has a moral duty to remain in Iraq.

Although McCain isn’t specifically referring to torture, his thought process here is the same one being used by the current administration. It is an especially striking quote to come across after reading the torture memo last week.

The government’s overwhelming message is that we have enemies for which no interrogation is too cruel, for which no method is considered torture.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Been Around the World

Via TPM, a link to a very cool map showing Hillary Clinton's travels as first lady from 1993-2001.

For some reason when I looked at this I got some Puff Daddy and Biggie in my head. That's where the title comes from. You know, "And we been playa hated, I dont know and I dont know why, Why they want us faded."

A couple things I noticed about the map:

1. A chunk of Africa (about the size of the US) gets denied. Given the specific region of Africa I am referring to, this is probably the norm. Sure, she visited Tunisia, but thats where they filmed Star Wars. Who wouldn't you want to go there?

2. No visit to New Zealand. Where's the love?

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Alternative Set of Procedures

I couldn't just post a link to the Torture Memo and leave it at that. I read it. I highlighted some passages. There are, I am sure, important passages that I missed. Sorry about that, but I thought trimming it down might be better than just simply linking to it. So, here we go. I'll start with page numbers, follow with the passage, and then, if I make any of my own comments they will be in bold. All italics are original. Brackets are mine. Here are the links to the memo again. Part 1. Part 2.

5 – In wartime, it is for the President alone to decide what methods to use to best prevail against the enemy.

I feel this is an appropriate introduction to the memo because this is certainly one of the themes of the whole document. The President alone decides what methods of war and interrogation are best. This isn’t going to get any prettier.

11 – Interpretation to Avoid Constitutional Problems

This whole section is pretty fascinating. How could it not be with a lead in like that? In order to trim this post down a bit I only point you to this specific section about a third of the way down the page.

15 – As one commentator has explained, unlawful belligerents are “more often than not treated as war or national criminals liable to be treated at will by the captor. There are almost no regulatory safeguards with respect to them and the captor owes no obligation towards them.”

24 – Assault

Beginning on this page is a lengthy explanation of how they define assault.

25 – On the other hand, changing the detainee’s environment such as by altering the lighting or temperature would not constitute simple assault.

The justification begins, paving the way for exposing prisoners to extreme cold.

26 – Section 113 proscribes assault resulting in “serious bodily injury”… “Serious bodily injury” is defined as “bodily injury which involves…a substantial risk of death;…extreme physical pain;…protracted and obvious disfigurement; or…protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.”

Without a law background a lot of this language gave me a headache and a hell of a hard time figuring out what was being said, but essentially this section, and many more throughout the document, attempts to narrow the definitions of assault, torture, etc.

33 – Subsection (c) of section 2441 defines “war crimes” as (1) grave breaches of any of the Geneva Conventions; (2) conduct prohibited by certain provisions of the Hague Convention IV, Hague Convention IV Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Oct.18, 1907, 36 Stat. 2277; or (3) conduct that constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. We have previously concluded that this statute does not apply to conduct toward the members of al Qaeda and the Taliban. … We reached this conclusion because we found al Qaeda to be a non-governmental terrorist organization…

Another theme of this document is that this is some new kind of enemy we face so that nullifies international laws and things like “Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land” that the United States had previously agreed to obey.

37 – Further, an individual who acts with a good faith belief that his conduct would not produce the result that the law prohibits would not have the requisite intent.

The assumption that in a war you will have interrogators acting on good faith is too big of a stretch for me. In the first place, war brings out the most grotesque traits of the human psyche, and then you are going to tell me that you have made the assumption that everyone out there is acting on good faith and not crossing the line? “Good faith” is used a lot throughout the memo. It was probably comforting for some people to read those words in this document, falsely assuring them that humans have acted on “good faith” before and nothing bad has happened.

38-39 – Such damage must rise to the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function. These statutes suggest that to constitute torture “severe pain” must rise to a similarly high level—the level that would ordinarily be associated with a physical condition or injury sufficiently serious that it would result in death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions.

Again, narrowing the definition of “severe pain”, so to presume one is only experiencing severe pain if they have organ failure, loss of movement, or a feeling of imminent death. Disturbing.

41 – [prepare yourself] Thus, if a defendant has a good faith belief that his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the mental state necessary for his actions to constitute torture.

Another theme: convenience.

45 – The victim must experience intense pain or suffering of the kind that is equivalent to the pain that would be associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure, or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body function will likely result. … In short, reading the definition of torture as a whole, it is plain that the term encompasses only extreme acts.

47 – Moreover, as U.S. declarations during CAT’s [Convention Against Torture] ratification make clear, the Convention is non-self-executing and therefore places no legal obligations under domestic law on the Executive Branch, nor can it create any cause of action in federal court.

The President is, once again, in the clear.

48 – [The following section is really fascinating. The run up to the war in Iraq, Gitmo, etc. was much longer than we could have possibly known back then.] You have also asked whether U.S. interrogation of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees could lead to liability and potential prosecution before the International Criminal Court (“ICC”). The ICC cannot take action against the United States for its conduct of interrogations for two reasons. First, under international law a state cannot be bound by treaties to which it has not consented. Although President Clinton signed the Rome Statute, which establishes the ICC, the United States has withdrawn its signature for that agreement and has not submitted it to the Senate for advice and consent—effectively terminating it. See Letter for Kofi Annan…from John R. Bolton…(May 6, 2002) (notifying the U.N. of U.S. intention not to be a party of the treaty)…The United States cannot, therefore, be bound by the provisions of the ICC treaty nor can U.S. nationals be subject to ICC prosecution.

Withdrawing signatures? Really?

54 – Ultimately, in choosing the phrase “severe pain,” the parties concluded that this phrase “sufficiently…conveyed the idea that only acts of a certain gravity shall…constitute torture.”

Just in case you had forgotten.

56 – Further, if we are correct in our suggestion that CAT [Convention Against Torture] itself creates a heightened intent standard, then the understanding the Bush Administration attached is less a modification of the Convention’s obligations and more of an explanation of how the United States would implement its somewhat ambiguous terms.

I don’t know all the statutes set forth in the CAT, but they can’t be anymore ambiguous than the terms used by the Bush administration to describe interrogation methods. See advanced interrogation techniques, rough interrogation, and alternative set of procedures.

58 – The concept of self-defense in international law of course justifies more than activity designed merely to resist an armed attack which is already in progress. Under international law every state has, in the words of Elibu Root, “the right…to protect itself by preventing a condition of affairs in which it will be too late to protect itself.”

Torture as self-defense, the biggest stretch of all. There is more.

61 – Actions taken in “good-faith…to maintain or restore discipline” do not constitute excessive force.

64 – Here, interrogation methods that do not deprive enemy combatants of basic human needs would not meet the objective element of the conditions of confinement test. For example, a deprivation of a basic human need would include denial of adequate shelter, such as subjecting a detainee to the cold without adequate protection. … Additionally, the clothing of a detainee could also be taken away for a period of time without necessarily depriving him of a basic human need that satisfies the objective test.

This is a truly appalling passage. We know that sleep deprivation has been used. How is sleep not a basic human need? How are basic human needs measured? I presume they would be measured by assessing living conditions for humans all throughout the globe. Some article of clothing sure seems like a basic human need. I digress though, they did say “for a period of time”.

69 – [Just for clarification] (1) Wall Standing. The prisoner stands spread eagle against the wall, with fingers high above his head, and feet back so that he is standing on his toes such that all of his weight falls on his fingers.
(2) Hooding. A black or navy hood is placed over the prisoner’s head and kept there except during the interrogation.
(3) Subjection to Noise. Pending interrogation, the prisoner is kept in a room with a loud continuous hissing noise.
(4) Sleep Deprivation. Prisoners are deprived of sleep pending interrogation.
(5) Deprivation of Food and Drink. Prisoners receive a reduced diet during detention and pending interrogation.

These methods aren’t considered to constitute torture.

70 – Although the five techniques, as applied in combination, undoubtedly amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment…they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture…

Narrowing again, the definition of torture.

73 – Even if one were to accept the notion that customary international law has some standing within our domestic legal system, the President may decide to override customary international law at his discretion.

I think we have established that.

74 – We believe that a defense of necessity might be raised in certain circumstances. Often referred to as the “choice of evils” defense, necessity has been defined as follows: Conduct that the actor believes to be necessary to avoid a harm or evil to himself or to another is justifiable, provided that: (a) the harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged;

You just read that right. Let’s say a prisoner is assumed to be planning an attack similar to 9/11. As long as you don’t fly a jumbo jet into him and kill thousands of people, your interrogation methods are justifiable.

75 – [As explained in this scenario] “if A kills B reasonably believing it to be necessary to save C and D, he is not guilty of murder even though, unknown to A, C and D could have been rescued without the necessity of killing B.” … Under these circumstances, a particular detainee may possess information that could enable the United States to prevent imminent attacks that could equal or surpass the September 11 attacks in their magnitude. Clearly, any harm that might occur during an interrogation would pale to [in] insignificance compared to the harm avoided by preventing such an attack, which could take hundreds of thousands of lives.

78 – Fourth, the amount of force should be proportional to the threat. [Remember, it is on good faith that we are presuming there is a substantial threat from each and every detainee.] As LaFave and Scott explain, “the amount of force which the defender may justifiably use must be reasonably related to the threatened harm which he seeks to avoid.”

80 – [In Conclusion] As we have made clear in other opinions involving the war against al Qaeda, the Nation’s right to self-defense has been triggered by the events of September 11. If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.

Fair Warning

Monster post arriving soon. I guess if I wanted you to read one political post on this blog, this would be the one.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

But everybody's doing it

Linking to the Torture Memos by John Yoo. Part 1. Part 2.

Watch Frontline

I am enjoying this show more and more. I have to plug their new series titled Bad Voodoo's War. The director, Deborah Scranton, gave camera equipment to a platoon of National Guard soldiers in Iraq. They record footage of their missions and of them talking to the camera and send the videos stateside. Scranton collects and edits and narrates the program which highlights a few individuals, one of them, a 22-year-old on his 5th tour in Iraq.

As always, it is available online.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Filed Under Miscellaneous Income

I was browsing eBay last week, not looking for anything in particular, but wondering how one goes about selling something on the site. I was eating potato chips. When I looked down to grab the next potato chip from the bowl, I was fully aware of the fact that potato chips and cornflakes had actually sold on eBay. I picked a chip up and closely examined it. I decided if it looked like anything it looked like a bird. More specifically, it reminded me of the rooster that is on boxes of cornflakes. The more I looked for the bird, the more I saw it.

There was no better time to test the old adage (which is at least as old as eBay) that people will buy anything. I created an eBay username, took a picture of the potato chip, and was selling the chip on eBay within minutes. It was quite effortless. I described the chip I was selling with these words:

At first I thought this looked like a rooster, but it is slightly different. It sure looks like a bird. However, I don’t know what kind of bird it looks like. It is one of a kind though. It was discovered about three days ago in a very large bag of potato chips.

I put a minimal effort into the advertisement and left the computer knowing that if anyone bids on the chip, or if it is sold, eBay would send me an email.

Over the next week I thought about my potato chip bird on eBay several times, but I didn’t get any messages about it until the week long bidding period was over. Then, I received a message that told me that my “item has sold.” I followed the link in the email and discovered that someone bought my potato chip for one dollar plus five dollars shipping and handling. I was a little doubtful of the sale even though everything on the screen was telling me otherwise. I looked around some more to confirm the unexpected. Sure enough, my potato chip sold for six bucks to someone in California.

Shortly thereafter I received the transferred funds and yesterday I took the chip, boxed up in an old check box with lots of tissues, to the post office and mailed it away, completing my first sale on eBay.

I am satisfied with the whole process and a bit surprised that my potato chip sold. I only wish I started the bidding higher because it is true…people will buy anything.

Inconvenient date for such a story, but it is true.

A New Low

Here is a play by play of the video that I can no longer find on the internet.

Begin video...

It is opening day for the Washington Nationals. There to throw the first pitch, is the 43rd President of the United States of America, George Bush. He is introduced and walks out of the dugout. It turns out, the fans of the Nationals are not fans of George Bush. He is booed the entire time he is on the field. Nothing but boos.

...end video.

I know his approval rating is something like 30%. I know he has screwed up again and again, but it is still somewhat shocking to see Bush booed by a stadium full of people in the capital. Honestly, I feel sad for the country. I feel sad for this man.

Roll the tape...Obama doesn't want you to vote

What a nutter.