March 10th, 2008


The good prevails

The story I was talking about last week, where the teacher was fired for standing by her principles... she's been re-instated.

In a grievance hearing Thursday conducted in a telephone conference call, an attorney for the California State University chancellor's office presented Kearney-Brown with a statement saying in part, "Signing the oath does not carry with it any obligation or requirement that public employees bear arms or otherwise engage in violence."

Which is what I, who don't have a law degree, managed to find out in about five minutes. My tax dollars at work.

More interesting (because I didn't find it, so it was new) was the clarification (we'll ignore the excuse they made, "we were acting in good faith"; since the whole thing was only resolved because she filed a grievance. I suspect the cause ceèbre aspects helped to make the resolution more swift. I certainly think the up-front admission of error, and apology, is only because of that public outcry) is the case they found from 1946.

The article doesn't cite it (how hard would that have been?) but back in 1946 the Supreme Court said public employees need not violate religious convctions in defense of the constitution.

On that same note, I saw a rare thing on Saturday, a Colonel (full bird) in a full beard.

He was one of the few Sikhs in the army. The turban was the most apparent thing (at distance), but rendering him a salute was a pleasure.

As was hearing someone, at the dining in, when, "The Loyal Toast" was being offered, pointing out to the table, that everyone was to understand the toast was to the office, not the man.


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John McCain is not just spineless, he's a hypocrite

Not that this was news to much of anyone.

But John McCain, the slimy little-fuck, whom I called a spineless git for making torture possible, is now making his support for it more obvious.

See, while I was at drill this past week; keeping the world safe for democracy, Bush vetoed a bill, in no small part because it would limit the CIA (and other gov't agencies) to the same rules under which the Army has to operate.

Forget (if you can) that Antonin Scalia thinks torture is a good thing (against the dictates of his faith; though I don't see anyone saying his fondness for saying torture is good disqualfies him for communion, the way Kerry's unwillingness to impose his faith on the rest of of was said to disqualify him, but I digress).

Forget (if you can) that Michael Chertoff, the head of Homland Security thinks "24" is a good show because "Obviously, it's a very well-made and very well-acted show, and very exciting. And the premise of a 24-hour period is a novel and, I think, very intriguing premise. But I thought that there was one element of the shows that at least I found very thought-provoking, and I suspect, from talking to people, others do as well...

I think when people watch the show, it provokes a lot of thinking about what would you do if you were faced with this set of unpalatable alternatives, and what do you do when you make a choice and it turns out to be a mistake because there was something you didn't know. I think that, the lesson there, I think is an important one we need to take to heart. It's very easy in hindsight to go back after a decision and inspect it and examine why the decision should have been taken in the other direction. But when you are in the middle of the event, as the characters in "24" are, with very imperfect information and with very little time to make a decision, and with the consequences very high on a wrong decision, you have to be willing to make a decision recognizing that there is a risk of mistake.

Forget all that. Because, while important, it's piddly-shit.

This administration believes in torture, but what of the next administration?

Clinton and Obama have said theyd'd be against it. Obama's record shows that when faced with questions of institutional misbehavior, he not only wants to stop it, but to make sure it is dealt with structurally.

John McCain, however, ought to be head and shoulders above the two of them. He was actually tortured in Vietnam. He knows what it's like, and he knows how ineffective it is.

But he's supported the administration in making torture possible, and he supported Bush in vetoing this bill.

Randy Scheunemann, foreign policy director for McCain's campaign, denied any inconsistency between the senator's record and his position on the bill.

"It's not about waterboarding and it's not about torture," Scheunemann said.

He said McCain opposed the bill for the same reason he exempted the CIA from his 2005 legislation: his belief that the agency should not be limited to methods spelled out in a public Army manual.

McCain feels "it's a good thing that (the CIA can use) enhanced interrogation techniques that are not revealed in your newspaper," Scheunemann said. He declined to identify methods that McCain believes should remain available to the CIA while being off-limits to military interrogators.

The Army's methods work. Torture, despite the special pleadings and prettily built fairy-tales of apologists, doesn't. As a means of collecting reliable information torture is (quite apart from being immoral, which ought to prevent the conversation from even coming up) innefective, to the point of being useless.

McCain, for whatever reasons, doesn't care.

Jesus asked For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36). McCain is willing to do it, in the hope it will win the votes of the people who, like Scalia and Chertoff, think pointing guns at people's heads, and hooking electrodes to them will get "The Truth".

I turn my back on them, and clap the dust from my sandals.

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