Saturday, April 25, 2009

The High Road

Even as an atheist I believe in the Golden Rule “Do unto others” or in my language practice empathy. This should be national policy.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D- Mass.) told colleagues during a debate on military commission legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when water boarding was used against Americans in WWII.

The case of Abu Zubaydah is used as an example of why enhanced interrogation techniques are necessary. Former CIA director Michael Hayden said on Fox News: "The critical information we got from Abu Zubaydah came after we began the EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques]."

One of Zubaydah's FBI interrogators, Ali Soufan, remembers it differently. Soufan wrote in The New York Timesthat Zubaydah talked without being coerced.

Two high-ranking former FBI sources say that intelligence breakthroughs came before Zubaydah was subjected to harsh techniques, not after. Rohan Gunaratna, has similar recollections. He is an al-Qaida expert who has worked with U.S. government agencies on terrorism issues.

"Gen. Hayden is dead wrong" about harsh techniques getting information from Zubaydah, he says. "I have tremendous respect for Gen. Hayden, but he is wrong in this case."

Another pro torture claim: That harsh interrogation tactics led to the arrest of American Jose Padilla. Gunaratna was the government's expert in the Padilla case. He said they got the key lead on Padilla from Zubaydah without using torture.

The fact that the CIA water boarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed 183 times and he never lead them to Osama bin Laden says it all.

The ticking bomb scenario is pointless when it’s been determined for years that a person being tortured will tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily the facts.

America has to lead by example or stop pretending we’re on any moral high ground.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


The 5th Summit of the Americas opened on the same day as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Was that on purpose?

Obama has eased some of the restrictions placed on Cuba. But after saying his administration would “engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from drugs, migration, and economic issues, to human rights, free speech, and democratic reform,” he stopped short of saying he would normalize relations. 

According to John McCain, “The U.S. should continue to pressure the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally and to hold free and fair elections with international supervision. Unless these conditions are met, lifting the economic embargo would only serve to strengthen the Castro dictatorship and delay Cuba’s inevitable transition to democracy.” I think that would have happened by now if it wasn’t for the embargo.

What makes Cuba different from China, another communist regime with human rights issues?

Money does. China is a huge trading partner.

Cuban exiles have lobbied with the power of cash and votes. But that’s the old guard. Younger Cubans are beginning to see things through eyes not blurred by the rage of a desire for revenge. They wouldn’t go back if they could.

The Castro government has been able to blame the U.S. embargo on all of its problems angering its citizens and rallying them around Castro. Was Batista better?

We need to have a uniform system of justice if we expect any kind of respect from the rest of the world.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Coke Update

I was listening to NPR yesterday when I was surprised to hear a story about Passover Cokes. These are Kosher and made with real cane sugar. My buddy Tony turned me on to them. It’s the only time I’ll drink them anymore.

I did an Associated Content story about the “New Coke Conspiracy”. If you haven’t already read it check it out.

 The radio show mentioned real sugar Cokes were favored by Coke drinkers over the corn syrup version. Coca-Cola swore there was no difference. Of course they do. They get corn syrup for free! We subsidize corn in this country. I think corporations like ADM are as big and evil as the oil companies. Except for Fritos there is absolutely nothing redeeming about corn.

Cows that are fed corn have to have vitamin supplements or they will die. People that eat cows are only getting a fraction of the nutrition they would from cows that graze. They use feed corn to make ethanol which leaves a carbon footprint equal to petroleum. If they allowed cows to graze they wouldn’t produce the nitrogen for fertilizer that runs off into our rivers. This is what’s causing the dead zone in the Mississippi Delta the size of New Jersey.

I read somewhere years ago (although I can’t substantiate this) when some American Indian tribes changed from hunter-gatherers to corn harvesters they disappeared.

Anyway New Coke is only a symptom of a much darker conspiracy. Federally funded empty calories.

As for me I love the burn of a real Coke!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sheep Alert

I’ve decided to give up the subtle innuendo with the sheep pictures. I’m going to come right out and call it Sheep Alert when I see examples of the manipulation of simple minded voters. We should know better and be ashamed of ourselves when we fall for this crap.

Last week, the Missouri House approved HB 1831 on a 113-33 third reading vote and sent the measure to the Senate for its consideration. The bill was to make forced abortions illegal.

No one is lurking on dark street corners ready to pounce on pregnant women and force them to have an abortion.

I have actually lost close friends over this issue. My view is there is no black and white about abortion. There are shades of gray. The first trimester of pregnancy the fetus has no sense of pain of self awareness. The more viable the fetus becomes, the more aware. What a woman decides about her body is none of my damn business.

I drive by Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Ave. every day. There are protesters with signs. There’s always someone down on their knees praying for the unborn. I think it’s great that people who care about anything are out there making their beliefs known. I feel sorry for them though.

Their idea of a human soul is completely misguided and shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of us. Those of us that believe in reason are going to have to have the courage to speak up. We are living in a superstitious society. The convictions of these folks get us into wars. The suffering we impose on each other usually has some kind of moral conviction at its base.

When my son was 4 we were at a church event at my wife’s parish. A woman was trying to raise money for a protest group to go down to Florida. I told her I believed it was a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. She looked at my son and said, “It’s a good thing for you, your dad didn’t have you aborted.”

When a personality has developed it’s hard to imagine a state of consciousness that came before. By this logic the loss of every egg and sperm is a tragedy.

Planned Parenthood wants to educate everyone about contraception. They want pregnancy to be on purpose. They don’t advocate abortion. No one does.

Last week the Pope said contraception exacerbates the problem of unwanted pregnancy. He believes condoms promote teen sex. We have to wake up.