Saturday, December 13, 2014

Torture is a crime

  Torture is exrtremely deviant behavior and must never be used.  The American government, acting at the behest of the President and the Attorney General, approved the use of torture and employed a variety of methods of torture on prisoners.
The Government deliberately made torture legal by calling it "enhanced interrogation techniques."
Unless this policy is officially condemned and unless the principals are prosecuted, or at least, censured, our nation will never be the same.  It will exist but with a cancerous shame deep within the national soul.  We will be saying to the world and to future generations that the "exceptional" country, the "indispensable" country, the "shining city on the hill" is a fraud. 

Lawlessness is now officially approved.   Future Presidents have legal precedent to follow.  Other nations may follow our lead.  Our lectures on human rights will be hollow. 
This is the path to self-destruction.

In 1993 Daniel Patrick Moynihan published an essay titled "Defining Deviancy Down."  In this essay Moynihan deplored the changing social standards of the American people, breaking this into three categories: altruistic, opportunistic, and normalizing.
The normalizing of crime, the acceptance of crime had become a serious problem and Moynihan quotes Judge Edwin Torres of the New York State Supreme Court who said "The numbness, the near narcoleptic state can diminish the human condition to the level of combat infantrymen who, in protracted campaigns, can eat their battlefield rations seated on the bodies of the fallen,  friend and foe alike.  The society that loses its sense of outrage is doomed to extinction."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On The Subject of Torture

I'm recycling this post from May 2009:

When I read the comments by former Vice-President Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, Charles Krauthammer, et al, on torture and its good uses, I like to recall some wisdom from the writings of Simone Weil:

"Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Change is needed, but there is no sign it is coming.

"Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land.  We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.  There is no other way  for land to survive the impact of mechanized man."
-Aldo Leopold
A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Understanding numbers, or maybe, failing to understand.

For the past several years I have read or heard the statement that the United States has less than 5% of the world's population but consumes 30% of the fossil fuel reserves.
The statement is true but I learned a piece of new information that really surprised me.
I knew that our population numbered around 315,000,000.   I didn't know that we are third in population behind China (1st) and India (2nd).
I was sort of shocked to learn this.  That famous 5% of the world's population fooled me into believing that we were far down the list of the 'most populous countries.'  By the way, it is actually 4.3%, not 5%.
My country's population has more than doubled since I was in high school.

That got me thinking about abortion and its effect on our growth.  I learned there have been 55,772,015 abortions since Roe vs Wade in 1973.
I have no training in statistics but  adding the number of abortions to the current population gives a simplistic and error-fraught result.  Yet  that  would be an impressive number.   Some of those 55,000,000 babies would have made families.
 What would our country look like today if there had been no Roe vs Wade.  What would the housing market look like?  The job market?  The unemployment rate? 
(This post is not an argument either for or against abortion.)

It's possible there wouldn't have been the huge increase in immigration (legal and illegal) because of the market pressures coming from that 55,000,000.
(Also, this post is not an argument for or against immigration.)

 According to the Census Bureau, the estimated population of the U.S. as of November 8, 2014 was 319,049,060.  As of January 1, 2014, the estimated population of the world was 7.1 billion human beings.

Enough already.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One day

One day, for no visible cause,
 an air of zest passed through his mind,
a bacchic breeze  brought memory
of the goat lust of youth.
Gasping at the loss of it,
He groped the air, as if blind.

In the mirror
the immediate Me observes
the despised You.

I could move on forever.
Take my tools: axe, shovel, saw.
Start a life.  Not a new one,
but another.