Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Trip to the Mt. House with Roy (Photos)

For The Torture Apologists

by Dee Newman

As I wrote back in 2009, I’m sure, there are those who would love to watch Dick Cheney waterboarded until he cried “Uncle” and confessed that waterboarding is torture. But, most of us who recognized that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” authorized by the Bush/Cheney Administration was actually torture have no interest in vengeance or retribution. What we have is a fervent desire and interest in upholding the rule of law and in preventing our government from ever again torturing anyone in our names.

What we are hearing from the “torture apologists” today is merely the re-hash of the same old rationalizations we heard Karl Rove and other spew out on Fox News and other networks six years ago.

Unlike President Clinton’s affair with an intern, it seems, to the torture apologists, the issue of torture is not serious enough to warrant moral outrage or legal action. Unlike the Japanese soldiers we sentenced to death for waterboarding our servicemen in World War II, the torture apologists, believe to prosecute those in the Bush Administration for doing the exact same acts would be “irrational vengeance.” To the torture apologists the decision by Bush&Co. to use waterboarding is just a “policy difference” between one administration and another.

What these folks seem to not understand is that this is not just about “policy differences,” as they would have us believe. No, this is a hell-of-lot more serious. It is about morality, the rule of law and the leaders of our precious country violating not only the international prohibition on torture, but also a number of federal statues and the United States Constitution, sanctioning and carrying out inhumane and illegal acts of violence against others.

Furthermore, it is about the fate of Americans captured behind enemy lines in future conflicts. The Bush Administration’s use of torture dramatically increased the likelihood that our servicemen and women will be tortured in the future. Failing to hold them accountable for their immoral and illegal actions, has only intensify the risk to our servicemen and women.

But, more than anything it is about who we are – our character and integrity!

According to the apologists, (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) waterboardering a person 183 times (six times a day) in less than a month is justifiable because they have convinced themselves it worked – that it kept our nation safe.

It always amazes me how rational people can rationalize anything. Apparently, the torture apologists 12-year-defense of the Bush administration has left them hopelessly attached to an immoral and illegal strategy of torture that they must now defend no matter how morally corrupt their efforts appear.

As Shepard Smith said six years ago on Fox News, (And, I paraphrase) It doesn't make any difference whether it kept us safe or not, THIS IS AMERICA! WE DO NOT TORTURE! no matter what.

The end can never justify the means even in a ticking-time-bomb situation, which we have never experienced. Two wrongs never make anything right.

I believe it is better to lose our lives than our values. That is what I call – true courage.

And, if you believe otherwise, you should, at the very least, have the courage to face the truth and consequences of you own actions in a court of law and let a jury of your peers determine your fate.

To continue to relentlessly defend the indefensible is not courageous – it is craven – so lacking in courage as to be worthy of contempt.

I have no desire for retribution. All I want is for those who authorized the so-called "enhance interrogation techniques" and their apologists to recognize and admit that what they did was WRONG!

Until they do the investigations should continue and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

AJ Lee Sings Sugar Moon with The Tuttles

AJ's debut CD – A Song for Noah has just been released. If you would like to order a copy click here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Remembering Jack

In the mid 1960’s I met a man who changed my life. At that time he was a high school teacher in Sanford, Florida. I was an aviation electronic technician based at the United States Naval Air Station there. We met through our wives who had become friends at work.

Several years later, after I had left the Navy and was attending the University of Tennessee, he convinced me to join him in southern Arizona to work on a remarkable project he had conceived and developed as the Coordinator for Resources and Planning for Arizona Rural Effort, Inc., a five county community action agency.

He had written a grant that among other things utilized a mobile television van to create radio and television broadcasting material for the Poverty Program. It was one of only nine funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) throughout the United States.

The federally funded research and demonstration project received national media and Congressional attention in 1970 when it demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing microwave transmission for mobile medical units in isolated rural areas.

The two years we worked together on that project were, perhaps, the most intense, significant, and influential work experience of my life. And, that is saying a great deal when considering the entirety of my professional experiences and accomplishments.

For a good ten years we continued to maintained our friendship, visiting one another and communicating on a regular bases, in spite of the fact, the paths of our lives and work had taken us in different directions.

Though we lost contact with one another during the 1980’s and 90’s while he was working abroad in South American, Africa and the Far East, in recent years we renewed our friendship, our mutual feelings of trust, affection, assistance, approval and support.

Over the last seven years, Jack has authored a number of essays and articles for this Blog. Twelve days ago on October 1, 2014, my beloved friend died of a heart attack. He was jogging as he had done most everyday beneath the old live oaks between the Sacred Heart Church and Regions Bank on the west side Old Dixie Hwy in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He was 74 years old.

I will miss his intellect, his advice and council, and his kind gentle spirit until the day I died.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Dear Friend Jack Died

I have no words to express my sadness . . .

Friday, September 26, 2014

Compare the threats

by Jack Reeves

The Ebola virus and fear of it are much in the news. This year there have been some 6,263 cases, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 2,917 deaths.

For perspective, in 2012 there were 207 million cases of malaria and 627,000 deaths. Every minute a child in Africa dies of the mosquito-borne disease.

Cholera, also mosquito-transmitted, takes a great toll on health and lives. There were 1.4 million to 4.3 million cases last year and as many as 142,000 deaths. Haiti led the world with 58,809 incidences and nearly 600 deaths. (All statistics from the World Health Organization.)

I’ve had both: malaria twice, cholera once. The latter brought to mind Samuel Johnson’s words: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

From Jack: Terrorism. New to us but not the US

by Jack Reeves

The Middle East conflict and its religious roots seems novel. However, our history is replete with religion-driven violence.

The Revolutionary War was fought over opposing religion and politics. American preachers fueled the War of 1812.

Manifest Destiny: Belief that God willed Americans conquer the continent, to include Canadians and Native Americans.

The South believed that religion justified slavery, the North abolition.

The Spanish-American War reflects conceiving international relations in a missionary fashion, like spreading democracy.

WW I: The Great and Holy War.

Lenin established "godless communism"; the godly had to oppose.

WW II: Deified Emperor Hirohito inspired Japan's bloody rage. Nazi terrorism aimed to exterminate the Jews.

The Korean War was between communism and religion-based capitalism (natural right to liberty and property).

The Vietnam War is traceable to conflict with Catholicism.

Terrorism: Use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims, e.g., ISIS/ISIL, Sherman's burning of Atlanta and destructive March to the Sea.

Not novel.

From npr: Killing Comes Naturally To Chimps, Scientists Say

A full-grown male chimpanzee carries a stick at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya. The sanctuary is the work of primatologist Jane Goodall.
A full-grown male chimpanzee carries a stick at the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya. The sanctuary is the work of primatologist Jane Goodall. Jean-Marc Bouju/AP 
For years, there have been two main theories about why chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary cousins, sometimes kill each other. One theory blames human encroachment on the chimpanzees' native habit in Africa. Another says that (male) chimps kill in the normal course of competition with rival groups.

A new study published in Nature appears to support the second theory. In short, it found that the numerical makeup of chimpanzee communities is roughly proportional to the "chimp murder rate."

"Variation in killing rates was unrelated to measures of human impacts," the authors, Michael L. Wilson, Christophe Boesch, et al., write in the abstract. "Our results are compatible with previously proposed adaptive explanations for killing by chimpanzees, whereas the human impact hypothesis is not supported."

To be sure, the knowledge that chimps will occasionally carry out organized killings on groups of rivals is nothing new. As early as the mid-1970s, researchers in Tanzania's Gombe National Park observed gangs of a half dozen or more male chimpanzees conducting lethal raids in neighboring territories.

As The New York Times wrote in 1988: "For some time after the pioneering studies of Jane Goodall and others, it was thought that chimps were generally peaceful, playful, sophisticated and easygoing. ... Then, from Ms. Goodall's own work, and in particular from her associate Richard Wrangham, it became evident that chimpanzee males engaged in active killing of other chimps and other primates."

Still, the question of how common the behavior was and why exactly it occurred remained open to debate.

In an article in 2011 published in Psychology Today, University of Notre Dame professor Darcia Narvaez summed up the argument for human impact. She noted that in the first 14 years that Goodall and Wrangham observed chimps at Gombe, "aggression patterns were no different from other primates (peaceful and unaggressive)."

Then, the behavior suddenly changed: "With hindsight, it turned out that human feeding of the chimpanzees, with its restrictions and control, deeply affected the behavior and culture of the chimpanzees, such as keeping large groups of animals near the feeding site, which promoted increased fighting among the males," Narvaez wrote in Psychology Today, citing The Egalitarians: Human and Chimpanzee, a 1991 book by Margaret Power.

In a rebuttal to Narvaez published soon after in Psychology Today, Kevin D. Hunt, an anthropology professor at Indiana University who had Goodall colleague Wrangham as his doctoral co-supervisor, concludes:
"[There] is irrefutable evidence that the threat of lethal violence has exerted a strong evolutionary force on chimpanzee nature, and its effects are visible on a minute-to-minute basis in chimpanzee society. It is the origin of the very unusual social bonding among male chimpanzees — they must hang together to protect against extra-group murderers."
As bleak as this sounds, Wrangham — although he adheres to the chimps-as-natural-born-killers theory in the book Demonic Males — finds cause for optimism when it comes to the ability of humans to change their own violent tendencies.

In observing bonobos (the closely related but less-violent cousins of chimpanzees), Wrangham observed peaceful communities based on a power-sharing arrangement between males and females. Chimps, by contrast, live in patriarchal groups where dominant males run roughshod over compliant females.

The reason for the difference, he concludes, is sex selection. Female chimps select aggressive males as mates; female bonobos don't.

"The example of the bonobos reminds us that females and males can be equally important players in a society," Wrangham is quoted in Harvard Magazine as saying. "And by giving us a model in which female action works in suppressing the excesses of male aggression, the bonobos show us that in democracies like our own, women's voices should be heard more than they are."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Immigration Reform: Sorting right, wrong

by Jack Reeves

The president says he will delay executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections. Politics.

But immigration is basically economics and ethics. U.S. farms heavily rely — almost 80 percent — on low-wage foreign workers, mainly Mexican. Half of these workers are undocumented. This cheap labor helps keep down food prices, particularly for labor-intensive fruits and vegetables.

The major objection to a path to citizenship is that it would reward unauthorized immigrants who broke the law.

However, farmers who hire millions of these individuals don't seem interested in their status — arguably, breaking the law.

And aren't those who purchase and consume foreign-worker grown, picked and packed fruits and vegetables, including me, accessories to crime?

Many who disparage unauthorized immigrants and oppose the Dream Act base their opposition on their contorted definition of right and wrong — perhaps while enjoying an avocado with some wine.

I eagerly await the president's executive action in a couple of months.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Long Labor Day Weekend at the Mt. House (Photos)

With Sylvia and Roy, Jenny and Bill, Ann and Garth, Dottie and Bill and Bo and Cate . . .