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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Go Figure

Jack LaLane passed away at age 96. I remember his fitness program on tv. Couldn't figure why people would watch on the idot box what we did in gym class.
The funny thing is, he worked out all his life and was fit as a fiddle to the day he died.
Remember George Burns the comedian? He smoked cigars, drank, played around with women. You might say the exact opposite of LaLane. He lived to the age of 100.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Two Cents

Quote from No Comment blog today.

Torture is the habit of tyranny, not of free republics, and it cannot simply be switched on and off. It inculcates a conception of state power and human worth that directly conflicts with our founding principle of an inalienable dignity to the human person, even the most culpable. As we know from Abu Ghraib, once it is unleashed, even as a supposedly well- quarantined tactic practiced by putative professionals, torture spreads like cancer…. This is the lesson of history for all governments that turn to torture: an isolated practice expands to become the emblem of state power and the reality of the citizens’ subjection.

Because It Is Wrong—Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror

I'm no expert, and believe me I don't wish to be, on the subject of torture. Since the day W announced the opening of Guantanamo and the suspension of Habeas Corpus I knew torture would be in the mix. When the first pictures of torture surfaced from the normally lap dog press the only surprise was that it came to light so soon. Here's what I've learned since then:

A. Why torture is ineffective:
  • Torture does not get the information you need. The ticking time bomb scenario makes for good fiction, not reality. Military leaders and the different JAG's have all pointed this out repeatedly.
  • Standard military procedure is for captured soldiers to hold out under torture for 24 hours. At that point all the info they have will be useless. Sun Tzu mentions the Doomed Spy. Someone given information they think is correct so when captured and they reveal the information under torture makes the enemy believe the false information as true. We call this today Misinformation.
  • Eventually everyone under torture will say or do anything in order to make it stop. How many people have confessed to crimes and spend years or their lives in prison for a crime they didn't commit? Chicago is a prime example of a city's police department that trampled justice for decades until their practices came to light.
  • It dehumanizes the torturer as much at the one tortured. It dehumanizes the society that allows it. See quote above.
  • To implement torture you have to violate the following in our constitution: 1. Habeas Corpus - indefinite confinement without charge 2 Bill of Attainder - punishment without due process of law (5th and 14th amendments) 3 cruel and unusual punishment 6th amendment.
B. Torture's effectiveness:
  • I only came up one mention of how torture can be done right, and it came from a cartel hitman interviewed in Harper's magazine. Naturally he was in the country's police force and kidnapped people to hold for ransom. He recounted that he would get all the information about the person he could find and when he started questioning the guy would know at first when he was lying and then would apply torture. Only after he had conditioned the prisoner to not lie would he ask questions he needed the financial information for a ransom amount. This is kind of hard to do in a battlefield situation or by randomly grabbing people off the street in Iraq or Afghanistan. Stimulus/response only works with foreknowledge.
  • Conformity or obedience. In prisons like Guantanamo those prisoners who have been tortured are the least likely to cause problems, they've been tamed, so to speak.
  • They are however a tiger by the tail. Yes they will not cause problem while under guard, but let them loose and send them home and they want revenge. Many of those who were tortured and then released join terrorist groups wanting payback, can anyone blame them? This is unfortunately why Obama is finding it so hard to close these prisons down.

Have to brag

Went golfing yesterday temp in the 30's with 20mph winds. I had to bundle up, but it was nice as not too many idiots were out there that early. Finished the first nine in 1 1/2 hours. Foursome walking the back nine slowed me down, but it had warmed up to the 40's by then. Usually at La Dera on a Friday or weekend it can take up to six hours to get in 18 holes.
There are loads of geese and ducks this time of year. The course in about 2 miles from the Rio Grande so you see plenty of V-shaped flocks going back and forth. I snapped a picture with my cell phone of a couple of geese that are pretty tame. The other picture is where my second shot at the par 4 9th hole rested. I usually have a hard time getting a 6 on this hole as the water hazzard in front of the green acts like a magnet for my ball. It would be nice to claim a birdie for the hole, but as usual I missed the putt and settled for a par. Still for me a par is two shots better than normal. I love golfing this time of year as I'm not the longest hitting of golfers and with the ground like concrete I get an extra 50 to 60 yards on the roll. When the grass gets green I really miss those extra yards.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


When word first hit the airwaves about the shootings in Arizona the almost universal reaction was shock. Then things shifted, rather quickly. The sheriff spoke of consequences to Free Speech. (Blame) Congress started taking immediate steps to tone down the rhetoric in their debates. Calls for reinstating the assault rifle ban. (Correction) and the rabble rousers all said it wasn't their fault because the gunman was a nut. (Denial)

Today I came across this article:

Davie Neiwert says: Right-Wing Fearmongers Have Blood on Their Hands.

  • An avid consumer of right-wing talk radio (notably Michael Savage) and Fox News punditry (including Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity) walks into a Knoxville church in 2008 and opens fire, killing two and wounding four, having written a manifesto declaring: "Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is to kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather";
  • Another avid consumer of Bill O'Reilly's columns walks into a church in 2009 (following O'Reilly's 28 on-air references to "Tiller the Baby Killer") and shoots abortion provider George Tiller in the head;
  • Another Glenn Beck fan, having been convinced from watching Beck's Fox show that the Tides Foundation was playing a leading role in a plot to destroy America, sets out in 2010 armed to the teeth with a plan to shoot up the Foundation's Bay Area offices, only to be short-circuited when Oakland police pull him over and he engages them in a shootout instead;

When these things happen, common sense tells us that, even if the blood of these victims doesn't fully coat these hatemongers' hands, it is at least splattered on them.

If major-level pundits are spewing irresponsible speech to the masses on a large scale, their responsibility for what ensues is profound indeed.

The critical components that distinguish irresponsible speech from responsible speech are interworking and interdependent, but they involve standards that are universally recognized by journalists as fundamental to their profession: truthfulness, accuracy, and fairness. Thus irresponsible speech usually has five features:

  • It is factually false, or so grossly distorted and misleading as to constitute functional falsity.
  • It holds certain targeted individuals or groups of people up for vilification and demonization.
  • It smears them with false or misleading information that depicts them in a degraded light.
  • It depicts them as either emblematic, or the actual source, of a significant problem or a major threat.
  • It leads its audience to conclude that the solution to the problem manifested by these people is their elimination.

This rhetoric acts as a kind of wedge between the people who absorb it and the real world. A cognitive dissonance arises from believing things that are provably untrue, and people who fanatically cling to beliefs that do not comport with reality find themselves increasingly willing to buy into other similarly unhinged beliefs. For those who are already unhinged, the effects are particularly toxic.

All of these paranoid theories, you'll observe, serve the explicit purpose of creating scapegoats. A number of them have taken hold in the mainstream public discourse because they have been presented seriously for discussion by various right-wing talking heads, most notably Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs, with full-throated support from Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, and Sarah Palin.

But when we point out their ethical and moral culpability, they inevitably blame it on the "crazy" people. And who, after all, can take responsibility for "crazy" people?

I say: The people who fill their heads with crazy talk can.

David Neiwert is a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author of five books, including most recently (with John Amato) Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane. He is also the managing editor of CrooksandLiars.com and writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Friday

  • Paul Krugman has a good evaluation of our political divide in the NYT's today. To put it simply we're divided between the needy and the greedy. He explains it much more academically.
  • Bruce ought to get a good chuckle out of Oklahoma's new tea party governor saying she intends to "Offend" the constitution while taking her oath of office. Did anyone say "Freudian slip?"
  • Golfed Wednesday for the first time since I don't know when. The weather was nice and I didn't do too bad considering the lay off.
  • Civil case I'm working on still has me hip deep in paper.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Krugman posted this at his site. It's an interesting comparison between the top 1%, 5%, and 10% economically over approx the last 100 years. Notice the similarity between the 1930's and the last ten years. It leaves off at 2008. I'd imagine that the last three years have seen an even great jump in the 1% and corresponding drop in 5% and 10%.
It's interesting that the time period from 1953 to 1973 is when the top 1% was at its lowest and overall prosperity in the U.S. Was at its highest.

Krugman's point was that as the top 1% get wealthier they don't feel like they are and keep wanting more because they compare themselves to those richer than them instead of those poorer. It's an ego thing.
I couldn't help be think of what happens in sports salaries. Take pro football as an example, but it would apply to baseball, basketball, hockey, etc.
There are 22 positions regular positions 11 offense and 11 defense, add specialty positions like kicker and punter, special teams in all 30 positions. The top contracts go to maybe 5 players on a 53 man roster.
Then the ego kicks in. Every quarterback wants to be not just the top paid player on the team, but the top paid QB in the whole league and if another team offers more money to their guy all of a sudden he's not happy, and so on and so forth. Each team has a salary cap and if three or five guys get 70% of it, do they feel like their rich? No they don't make as much as the guy on the other team. What happens to the other 45 players who get shafted because the hot dogs want it all? Do the rich players compare themselves to the poor players or only to the other rich players?

I wonder if anyone's done a study on the distribution of salaries in the NFL on the playoff teams compared to non-playoff teams. Using my dismal Cowboys as an example of how the experts were predicting them to win the Superbowl this year and they were absolutely dreadful. Could it be because they had too many high paid players counting their money instead of thinking about playing ball?


I was touched by the statement of the shooter's family in Arizona. I have sympathy for what they are going through. It's tough being a parent. Not all parents feel this much anguish for what their child has done, but we've all known the dissappointment our children can cause alongside the pride.

When that little one comes home there is such joy and expectation. All parents want to be proud parents. They want their children to live better lives than they did. We want to look back in our waning years with fond memories, grand children and great grandchildren all living their lives fullfilling the American Dream.
There's one big problem. It's call free will.
Kids not only don't come with an instruction manual they have a mind of their own and tend to makes bad choices. They never pick the right kind of friends or choice in mate. They won't listen to reason or instruction from you.
A parents love is unconditional, but it can be very painful. It's hard watching them make wrong choices and you can't do anything to stop them or keep it from happening. The hardest part of being a parent is having to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. It's little comfort to remember how many times your parents had to pick up the pieces of your life, but it is good experience.
Sometimes those choices get them in trouble. Think of all the men and women in prison who have loving fathers and mothers wishing their children made better choices and are now suffering the consequences. I think of the parents of the women whose bodies were found in a mass grave on the west side of my town who had such high hopes only to feel the pain of them leaving them twice, once when they chose drugs and streetwalking and then when notified of their deaths.
I love my two children and three grandchildren. They come with equal measures of pride and worry.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Sympathies to all those lost and injured in Arizona.
The heated rhetoric from those opposed to abortion that led to bombings of clinics and assassinations of doctors has now spread to the political arena. Rush, Glenn, Sarah and the others spewing their hyperbilated filth have blood on their hands no matter how much they condemn what someone did after following their words.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Back To Work

  • A new case has come in and I'm up to my elbows in paper work to be sorted and made sense of. It makes life interesting.
  • I'm up to 38,000 words on my new book and this hits just as I'm picking up steam. Maybe a short rest will give me better perspective on the story.
  • Had a great time with number 1 grandson for two weeks. I took the boys with me for some putting and chipping at the golf course, we did the River of Lights show and they went through the Natural History museum as well as opening up lots of presents. I have much greater respect for what Mom put up with from Bruce and Me while growing up. Having two boys in the house raises the decibel level to near jet engine proportions. The house is much quieter with him back with his mother, but he is still greatly missed.
  • Michael Manning is running a series of posts on Ricky Nelson. He did extensive research on the plane crash that ended the rock icon's life. It's difficult reading at times, makes you smile remembering the great songs he sang and the time period of early rock n roll. The hours spent watching Ozzie and Harriet while little. I kind of get grumpy with bloggers that seem to only post videos from U-tube. I stop by to read what they have to say not watch videos, but he has a number of videos along with his commentary that really take you back. Take a look.
  • Russ at Private Buffoon has a few posts about this group absolutely certain that the Rapture will happpen on May 21. I left a comment with a scripture quote from Acts 1:17, and he upped me with two others.