Top Ten Torture List and Other Related News

I am getting ready to go on the road today, so time is a little short.  However, I have been reading various articles about the torture report that just came out.  Here is just a sample of the many articles out there.

10 Truly Terrible Things the CIA Did In Our Names, Because Freedom

The above link is a very brief overview of some of the worst parts of the report.  Below is a reposting of Andrew Sullivan’s from 2005 about how Freedom and Torture are at odds:

“Torture is the polar opposite of freedom. It is the banishment of all freedom from a human body and soul, insofar as that is possible. As human beings, we all inhabit bodies and have minds, souls, and reflexes that are designed in part to protect those bodies: to resist or flinch from pain, to protect the psyche from disintegration, and to maintain a sense of selfhood that is the basis for the concept of personal liberty. What torture does is use these involuntary, self-protective, self-defining resources of human beings against the integrity of the human being himself. It takes what is most involuntary in a person and uses it to break that person’s will. It takes what is animal in us and deploys it against what makes us human. As an American commander wrote in an August 2003 e-mail about his instructions to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib, “The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col. Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken.”

What does it mean to “break” an individual?

As the French essayist Michel de Montaigne once commented, and Shakespeare echoed, even the greatest philosophers have difficulty thinking clearly when they have a toothache. These wise men were describing the inescapable frailty of the human experience, mocking the claims of some seers to be above basic human feelings and bodily needs. If that frailty is exposed by a toothache, it is beyond dispute in the case of torture. The infliction of physical pain on a person with no means of defending himself is designed to render that person completely subservient to his torturers. It is designed to extirpate his autonomy as a human being, to render his control as an individual beyond his own reach. That is why the term “break” is instructive. Something broken can be put back together, but it will never regain the status of being unbroken–of having integrity. When you break a human being, you turn him into something subhuman. You enslave him. This is why the Romans reserved torture for slaves, not citizens, and why slavery and torture were inextricably linked in the antebellum South,” 

In my mind anyone that condoned or performed torture should be prosecuted, plain and simple.  I am aware however, that these crimes will probably go unpunished, or if they do, those at the highest level will probably be exempt.  We paid 80 million dollars to psychologists to advise the CIA on torture.  Those are the kind of tax dollars that people should be up in arms about, not implementing things that will benefit citizens like public transportation.  Hopefully someday that will be the case.

If you are interested at reading a more in-depth portrait of the CIA, I recommend Tim Wiener’s book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.  It not only contains a wealth of fascinating information, but is extremely readable.

Andrew Sullivan On the Election

The Dish

The above is a link to Andrew Sullivan’s take on the election, which is I think has a lot of merit to it.  A sample:

So this is a victory in favor of more governing paralysis. Most voters don’t really want that; but their actions belie it. History twists and turns, of course, and any number of events or surprises could upend our expectations for the better. But yesterday, it seems to me, was the definitive moment when Obama’s promise to forge a pragmatic purple center ceded to the grim, polarized reality of a deeply and evenly divided country. This was the GOP’s strategy from the start; but it leaves them with a strangely ill-defined, if emphatic, victory.

The Difference Between Writing and Speaking

I enjoy Peter Travers movie reviews in Rolling Stone Magazine.  However, whenever I see him in person I find him highly annoying.  I think Andrew Sullivan is one of the best bloggers there is, that his writing is really thoughtful most of the time, but again in person he can sometimes be grating.  There are times when I write some high minded posts, but I’m sure if you hung out with me there are times you would think to yourself that I was one ignorant motherfucker.  (And that’s not saying that I don’t occasionally write something that will make you think that as well!)

One of the things that I like about writing is that it slows down the thought process.  I think most people are generally more thoughtful in the written word.  It is a form of expression that allows at times for the best of ourselves to come out.  Often when you are responding to things in the moment there are all kinds of different things at play:  There is your body chemistry, which is always a challenge.  There is the mind racing about how you are being perceived by the people around you.  There is the natural flow of a conversation that often doesn’t allow for deep reflection.  Those are just a few of the challenges we face in person to person communication.

Writing, especially longer forms of writing, allow one to slow down and go deep.  Someone that may be a neurotic bastard in real life, might be truly thoughtful in writing.  They are two different forms of expression and they access different parts of our being.  Humans are complicated.  The thing that is great about writing or any form of artistic expression is this:  Once the neurotic bastard is dead, once the short turbulent complicated lifespan of a human being is over, a good piece of work may live on for a long time, inspiring and doing good, eclipsing all those moments when one wasn’t at their best.  That’s not to say that people shouldn’t try to be their best, only that time has a funny way of erasing, or at least sanding down, those human characteristics that we call faults.

Soldiers or Police in Missouri?

Bu3NI2dIUAAvzD_

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/08/13/not-again-ctd-2/

World Peace is none of your business
Police will stun you with their stun guns

Or they’ll disable you with tasers
That’s what government’s for

World Peace is None of Your Business – Morrissey

Andrew Sullivan has been doing a really good job covering the events in Missouri.  The police shot another unarmed black teenager.  If that isn’t horrible enough the police reaction to justifiably angry black protestors has been disgusting.  If you look at the picture above you have to ask if those are cops or soldiers in Afghanistan?  

 

Opposing Opinions on Iraq

BuhULVCIEAImpy8

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/08/08/the-road-to-baghdad-is-paved-with-good-intentions/

As many of you know I have been out on tour.  Keeping up with the news is hard, because I basically  have had no internet service in Colorado unless I am in a major city or actually back in my hotel.  I don’t feel like I have read enough different views on what is going on in Iraq to form a solid opinion.  The link above is to some different opposing opinions on Iraq.  I always feel the only way to even try to understand anything is to read a bunch of different sources and try to piece the truth together between them.  One should never only read sources that one is already inclined to agree with.  Well if you are not sure of what is going on in Iraq hopefully the link above is a good place to start.  Sullivan’s coverage on what is going on in Iraq has been excellent in general from what I have seen before.  This is only one post out of many.  

Sullivan on Torture

bushobama1-2

 

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/08/03/obama-torture-transparency-and-the-rule-of-law/

 

A pretty powerful post by Andrew Sullivan about the torture.  Although he views Bush and his gang as war criminals, he also finds Obama’s unwillingness to address the issue in any kind of meaningful way deeply unsettling.  

Reader Response

I got the following reply from a reader over my F@$% Fairness blog post.  I will post a link to my original blog at the bottom.  I actually encourage any of you that have intelligent arguments to make about what I have written to make them.  One of the models for this blog is Andrew Sullivan’s.  I like that he doesn’t have comments on his blog, which usually just lead to partisan bickering and name calling.  But what he does do is post the most intelligent reader comments that are in disagreement with him as the “dissent of the day.”  I do allow comments here
, but I must approve them before I post them, not to stifle debate, but to prevent the kind of ignorance that I believe actually is counterproductive to real debate.  Anyway here is the readers comment:

Jeff, There’s something overlooked in your comments, at least what’s expressed here. Trust funds, stocks/bonds, bank accounts, etc, are different than ranches. The death tax has destroyed more natural resources than all the bulldozers ever built. Those who inherit farms and ranches are forced to sell because, unless they’ve won the lottery, the only way they can pay the death tax is to sell their farm/ranch to a developer. So open space, and all its benefits provided to society … aquifer infiltration, riparian areas, wetlands, wildlife habitat, carbon sinks, oxygen production, aesthetics, rainfall runoff reduction and its cleaning, food, fiber, shelter, recreation, etc, etc, etc … are soon eliminated by becoming covered by asphalt and rooftops. And those who say that “proper planning” can escape this tax are, under certain market timings, swings and changes, full of shit. So if you want to help the environment, help keep open spaces open. There are ways to accomplish this, via carefully constructed and regulated conservation easements, etc, etc, but our “leadership” in BOTH parties won’t listen and/or are too dumb to understand, or has not so far. Finally, always remember there are two kinds of landowners: those who take from the land, and those who give to the land. Penalize the former. But, the latter should be encouraged via more appropriate policies than exist today. There’s much more to this discussion that is too complicated for my email skills, but happy to discuss any time.

I think this is a completely valid point, and one that I overlooked.  However, the only thing that I would like to add is that my original blog was more about the hypocrisy of people that are against the Estate Tax so that their children benefit from wealth, and also against social welfare of any kind for other children, and not necessarily a response to the Estate Tax itself.  If this was not made clear, I apologize.  One always realizes when one writes that, unless one would write till the end of time, given all the nuances and shades of gray of each subject, there are going to be small holes in every argument.  Here is a link to my original blog:

https://windupwire.com/2014/07/20/f-fairness/