Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ecclesiastes 1:9

Dr. King's notes on Ecclesiastes 1:9
Courtesy of The King Center

REPOST from August 31, 2009.

January 4, 2015 Introduction:

Many people react as if the "recent" report(s) reclassifying as torture the Bush-era "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" came out of an unforeseen overhead vista of cerulean blue -- that overlapping and sly sky blue. Perhaps from those interwebs' "cloud" storage devices about which I hear such rumors?

A redacted, unclassified version from the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is available HERE. This short version addresses the years 2001 to 2006, and represents "an executive summary" of the key findings. The complete edition, still classified, was adopted by the SSCI in 2012. The CIA response to the SSCI document, delivered in memorandum form on June 27, 2013, was released in a redacted, unclassified version in early December 2014, and can be found HERE.

Where does the political and media "shock" come from, and the straight faces from which the surprise and awe are delivered?

I don't know.  You've only to have followed the work of the ACLU and the individual FOIA requests of hundreds of reputable organizations and individuals over the years -- and beyond the neatly forgiving endpoint of 2006. The ACLU Torture Database documents their efforts to obtain documentation and is the basis of their document, "U.S. Torture Program: A Blueprint for Accountability," which can be downloaded HERE.

Maybe you recall President Obama's quiet statement from August 2009, summarized this way in the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.
Perhaps my skepticism of the tardy, off-Broadway response by the public, the pols, and the Fourth Estate last month can be forgiven if my bouts of hypertension and re-postings of Buckeye Surgeon's blogging on torture and the clear knowledge of it within the Executive Branch of our Esteemed Estate o'er in the United States of America are taken into account. Such interrogation techniques are unheard of in our present home in Tête de Hergé, though I wonder sometimes at the bovine revelations emanating from the Animal Husbandry Division of Marlinspike Hall's Miniature Genetic Project. (Yes, I am something of a Dr. Doolittle.)

I like one of the comments to a related ACLU article on Torture, American Style, left several years ago:
Simple solution.Water board members of the Bush Administration, until they tell us the truth.
"Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." -- Abraham Lincoln
And, of course, should you, like me, feel that the top of your head may explode any day now (Hey, Congress reconvenes tomorrow!) -- there is always the pointless and yet temporarily invigorating method made popular by the movie Network:

In the oppressive spirit of "[w]hat has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.," then, we republish "Pourri, Pot," and hope you are not terribly jarred by the redundant hodgepodge of cats and Dick Cheney.  Close your eyes and pretend it's August 31, 2009.



Pot pourri (rotten pot). Fitting that the name for a beautifully arranged bowl yielding questionable scents derives from the Spanish designation for olla podrida -- pork&beans. True, the Spanish being Spanish,said pork&beans stew is subject to the rarefying whims of the creative cook, a clay pot, and a long cooking time, and becomes a satisfying culinary hodgepodge.

I learned from reading the entry for potpourri in Wikipedia that,
"(when mixed, you need to enclose the mixture in a bottle or jar,and let it
sit for a few weeks. Towards the middle of the weeks, the soon to be potpourri
may smell rotten. If you wait a little while longer, it will start to smell
better, so don't get discouraged or disappointed." (I particularly relish, and
appreciate, the encouragement to fend off the ravages of clinical depression.)

Yes, indeed. Words to live by, words with which to guide your children: If you wait a little longer, it will start to smell better...

So many unimaginative people of my generation... uh-oh, incoming, incoming! Flying lyrics, flying lyrics!

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
-- The Who, "My Generation"

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, the more anemic among us are humming "Teach Your Children," and feeling oh-so-competent. And organic. You know what I mean -- don't you? Look around you -- aren't there a few competent/organic types lurking in your shadows, obnoxiously humming:

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
-- CSNY, "Teach Your Children"

The men ye shall know by their thin ponytails and receding hairlines. (The women ye shall spot by their insistent middle-of-the-hair part -- a style best reserved for those few of perfect face.)

Pot pourri. Potpourri.

Sadly, we have actual odor issues going on this morning. Fred decided to change cat litter brands -- again -- and I believe there is some sort of intestinal rebellion in the works. He wants to "go green," an impulse we all applaud, in public, but occasionally regret, in private.

I want to be as eco-friendly as possible. Really, I do. Thus far in our kitty greening, we've done recycled paper litter, corn litter, and alfalfa litter. At the moment, I believe we're using a combination of compressed sawdust and alfalfa. [One of the eternal questions: Why are simpler, less-processed products more expensive than standard commercial stuff? Shouldn't the cost of production be lower?] And as often as possible in our upkeep of Captain Haddock's ancestral home, we try to use products original to its construction -- the reason we have two-pound cans of clean sheep tallow tucked in various nooks and crannies, plus a stash of sustainably harvested local wood in [our replica of] the Knoppenburg Manor* Stables.

And should the good Captain Haddock ever depart Bongi-country and approve our plans for expansion, we've opted to employ straw bale in our framing and pneumatically impacted stabilized earth (PISE) -- or rammed earth* -- in the construction of our walls.

* Rammed earth, also known as taipa[1], pisé de terre or simply pisé, is a
technique used in the building of walls using the raw materials of mud, chalk,
lime and gravel. It is an ancient building method that has seen a revival in
recent years as people seek more sustainable building materials and natural
building methods. Because of the nature of the materials used it is
incombustible, thermally insulating and very strong and hardwearing. It also has
the added advantage of being a very low cost and simple way to construct
Ha! Dobby just came by to give the computer a good sniff.

Dobby is sometimes known as The Nose. Small, pink, and often quivering, his nose misses nothing. He insists on sniffing certain things -- and we participate... because we're weird. For instance, my water bottle. One of the ways in which I supported Hillary Clinton during her bid for the presidency came through the purchase of this 32-ounce water bottle, appropriately festooned with her name and a hint of the American flag. I drink probably 100+ ounces of water a day, so this monster bottle is never far away. I also have a Hillary tee that is totally irksome. I cannot prove it, but I believe it is a factory reject. An ounce too heavy, a few stitches awry.

In the beginning, Dobby was just fascinated with the movement of the water inside the dark blue cylinder, and I would turn it sideways to make "waves." He would slap them with his paws. Then he became curious about what was inside, about whatever it was that drew me so often to the bottle. So I would hold the open bottle in front of his small, pink, and quivering nose, and he would begin the serious task of sniffing.

I am a clean person. Good hygiene, and all that. Almost spotless house. I floss. But Dobby? Dobby is absolutely scrupulous about cleanliness. Dobby is Mr. Clean. Mr. CleanCat. When he encounters something off in his environment, the cat stands and delivers -- loud, obnoxious vocalizations.

No one may rest until all is well in DobbyLand.

I offer The Dobster whiffs from the Hillary Bottle about three times a day. He plants his front paws, approaches the opening with The Nose, and takes about three good sniffs. All is well, I drink the water, and we rewind.

Yesterday, at the first Hillary Bottle offering, he blink-blink-blinked and recoiled in obvious horror. As there had been a break in the water main down the road from Marlinspike Hall, I thought: "Aha! I'm like a miner with a canary. Thanks to Dobby, I've been saved from sure poisoning."

I rinsed it out, and added fresh filtered water. A few hours later, now confident in the quality of my water, I offered the little idiot another whiff. He looked at me in abject terror, then turned and ran, vocalizing a banshee's keening wail.

Everyone's a critic.

Even though the human consensus was that the bottle was clean and that Dobby was touched in the head -- after I scrubbed the Hillary Bottle inside and out with an old toothbrush and ick-smelling lemon detergent, Dobby once again was happy to offer his schnoz.

Pot pourri. Potpourri.

"Maybe I could interest you in a hot cup of shut-the-fuck-up..." (Jon Stewart, 3.18.09)

Oops! Sorry! I didn't mean to write that out loud, much less carefully attribute it by author and date of original production.

I was just sitting here, cozy in the chiaroscuro of pre-dawn, waiting for those rosy fingers, Homer's trope, contemplating Dick Cheney's latest pronouncements.

Obama's decision to authorize Attorney General Eric Holder's investigation "serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security." He went on to call it an "outrageous political act that will do great damage, long-term."

"I just think it's an outrageous precedent to set, to have this kind of, I think, intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration," Cheney said in an interview aired on "Fox News Sunday," during which he was peppered with pre-determined, softball-type queries, dotingly, lovingly pitched by Chris Wallace.

A politicized Justice Department? An Attorney General, under the thumb? There's a name that keeps nibbling at my crumbling memory... Who was it? Something guttural... G-g-g-g?


Oh, and I really want to hear how Cheney and Bush kept us "safe" (for eight years, Cheney qualifies, and even that is wrong). There was that tiny glitch on September 11, 2001 -- and then, Cheney likes to pretend, nothing! Absolute safety, brought to us by virtue of EITs, enhanced interrogation techniques -- some of which qualifies as torture.

John McCain, who perhaps has the most informed opinion on the matter, said this of Cheney's remarks during his appearance on Face the Nation:

"I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan," said the Arizona Republican. "I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq... I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members."

There ought to be a Hallmark card. I bet that Chris Wallace has that covered, that and the Whitman Sampler. Andrew Sullivan has a slight opinion about his journalist colleague, though he expresses it in tepid, half-hearted fashion. That's what they're known for at The Atlantic:

When future historians ask how the United States came not only to practice torture but to celebrate it and treat torturers as heroes, a special place in hell among the journalists who embraced and justified it should be reserved for Chris Wallace.

I find it outfrigging outrageous that we continually have to deal with this frustrated little man that is Cheney.

*Knoppenburg Manor is, in fact, for sale. Sad that one of its key selling points is that this area of Belgium has "remained free from the threat of terrorist attacks." Our stable replica is a lovely place in which to relax, chat, contemplate -- at least on warm days. Built some time in the 16th century, the Manor Knoppenburg's charm is in its simplicity and functionality. Make a bid!

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