Archive for May 1st, 2005

A former Guantanamo interrogator named Erik Saar has written a book detailing torture of the prisoners at the prison. Some of the information that has leaked came about as a result of declassified FBI emails after the ACLU filed a suit demanding their release.

The torture was not what we’ve always thought of as torture-such as at the Hanoi Hilton, the Nazis in the 1940’s, or the Japanese atrocities of Chinese. The Gitmo "torture" is, by comparison, fraternity pranks. Sexual coercion, tying men up, and smearing red ink on prisoners and making them think it was menstrual blood were what Saar spoke of. If I were in a North Korean prison, I’d sign up for that stuff every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Naturally, the ACLU and far left will seize this as another opportunity to forward their agenda, and that won’t make us safer.  Yet another 60 minutes scoop that panders to the self hating. Clueless. When will we wake up?

Update: A reader commented with an opinion quite different from my own. Since it punctuates a point I meant to make, I have pasted his comments below, as well as my reply.

My father–a farm boy from Oklahoma who had never left his county until he joined the Army–fought in Italy during WWII, helping to liberate Europe from Fascism. He also fought in Korea and received a Purple Heart. I’m sure our fathers had a lot in common. The one thing they didn’t have in common–apparently–is what they taught their sons about the lessons of war. My father communicated to me the horrors of Fascism, the dangers of a government that puts extreme nationalism and allegiance to the state above Democracy and civil liberties. The torture that happened in Guantanamo may pale in comparison to the atrocities you cited, but when a government sinks to the level of its enemy, that government is equally criminal and dishonors both its Constitution and its citizens. And when civilians begin to praise the un-democratic, inhumane and criminal behavior of its government, they become its willing accomplices.

My reply:


Thanks for your comment. In checking out your blog it is unlikely we see eye to eye on politics, but I’ll try and clarify my thoughts.

I fully realize the irony of the juxtaposition of my waxing about the Virgin Mary and what may appear to be poo pooing of the Guantanamo tactics.  We rightly should be wary of even a slight creep in that direction.  We can discuss these things in this country with no fear of governmental retribution, unlike over there. It is for that reason I am skeptical that we are remotely in the same ballpark as the enemy. We have too many checks and balances for that to happen.

I am quite aware of the dangers of fascism and fascist totalitarianism. They bear little resemblence to a free and open democracy that has nationalistic tendencies. Nationalism, especially the particular brand we have here, is not the bad thing so many make it out to be. People should aspire to things greater than raw self interest in my view. My wife is a Korean American. Her mother fled the North in 1950, escaping with the clothes on her back and half her family lost behind her forever, and there are relatives still living (if you can call it that) in the gulags of North Korea. As you know, North Korea is a human rights disaster and has been for decades. So, believe me, I get you on the fascist thing.

War is terrible. My dad certainly taught me that. No purple heart, but a bronze star, and he could never talk about what he saw earning it in any detail. Even into his 70’s, when you woke him up he would have such a violent start you would think that he expected a bayonette in his face. Rough. People are trying to kill us though, and once engaged, we cannot fight with one hand behind the back. You have to fight to win, and that is what the enemy is doing. I’m not buying that we are, however. I find it difficult, for instance, to decry many of the virtually dictatorial things FDR did in WW2 because we won. Hard to 2nd guess that. I say let’s win with honor, but above all, win. If we start beheading civilians and beaming it over there, I’ll be the first to be with you. However, red ink masquerading as menstrual blood is a far, far cry from me, you, or anyone else here engaging in or being complicit to a war crime.




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May Reflections

My father spent the better part of 7 years away at war-mostly in the South pacific in World War II and the rest in the Korean "police action." Whether that made him the religious man he was or not is unknown to me. He was 46 when I came along, and he felt that the May devotion to the Virgin Mary was no small matter. To make a long story short, she was on the list for intercession when he prayed for his own life, and later I am sure for my brother’s. In that regard, Dad was a very thankful man.

Non-Catholics often do not get the devotion to Mary in Catholicism. Some see it as idolatry, and others see it as unnecessary. Since I don’t make it a habit of critiquing other faiths, suffice to say I disagree and would hope that they respect the thought that is put into this particular article of faith we hold so dear.

Today at Mass, the choir sang Ave Maria a cappella. It was really beautiful. Let me state that in more clear terms: it was breathtaking. I must admit a part of me wishes my particular church would not sing every single last stanza of every song. Today, however, they couldn’t go on long enough.

Does anyone think Hollywood will ever produce another multiple Oscar-winning movie like this? Don’t hold your breath.


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This is a welcome piece of news.

Commissioner Bud Selig wants major league players to adopt a stricter policy against performance-enhancing substances, one that would include a 50-game suspension for a first offense and a permanent ban after a third offense, as well as a prohibition on amphetamines.

In a letter sent Monday to Donald Fehr, the executive director of the players union, Selig outlined stricter policies he hoped would be adopted in their drug-testing agreement. Selig’s letter, a copy of which was provided by a Major League Baseball official, seeks a 100-game suspension for the second offense.

Under the current policies, which went into effect in March, a first-time offender receives a 10-game suspension, a second-timer 30 games and a third-timer 60. A fourth-time offender is out for one year, and a player who tests positive a fifth time is punished at the commissioner’s discretion. Selig called his proposal a "three strikes and you are out" plan.

"I recognize the need for progressive discipline," Selig wrote, "but a third-time offender has no place in the game. Steroid users cheat the game. After three offenses, they have no place in it."

In addition, Selig said that amphetamines should be included as part of banned performance-enhancing substances. While amphetamines are banned in the minor leagues, baseball has no punishment for amphetamine use by players on 40-man rosters.

"It is time to put the whispers about amphetamine use to bed once and for all," Selig wrote. "To the extent that our culture has tolerated the use of these substances, the culture must change."

Of course, the Players Association is likely to balk at this. That would be a worse PR move for them than even the bickering over revenue and salaries, however. Steroids damage the body and the Game. They have no place, and the union should only be happy to eradicate them. However, steroid-enhanced production means bigger salaries, and Selig’s shame -the-devil move only exposes the players’ duplicity.

The players quoted saw the penalties as too severe, but the fact is that they would still be the most lenient punishments in sports. Consider the Olympics-2 year supension for a first offense, then a banning for life if caught a second time. Of course, that reasoning doesn’t work on spoiled babies.


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In case you wonder about these things. One of my first dates with my wife was a Radio City Christmas Spectacular (her idea).


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