Friday, April 17, 2009

Vlogs - WTF?

Alright, so I was on YouTube for a reason I can't remember anymore.  I tend to get some sort of attention-deficit problem when I get online, as I think most people do.  Anyway, I ran across a couple of vlogs (video blogs) and seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people?

With the exception of a few (sxephil and whiteoutstain come to mind), most are pretentious jerks that take themselves way too seriously.  Clearly, they're absorbed with themselves and little else, having opinions to attract attention rather than contribute to an argument or attempt to be amusing in any way.

I'm still finding a way to reconcile why I have a blog if I'm not a pretentious asshole absorbed with myself, hoping to attract attention.  I mean, why else would a person be possessed with the urge to create his own website just to write a crapload of opinions?

Yeah, it's probably true.  Maybe I'm just as vain and pretentious.  But I take comfort in the fact that the written word is less in-your-face and you don't have to listen to me talk in an annoyingly self-righteous manner.  Or watch me talk down to people that eat french fries from McDonald's because it's bad for them (gaygod) and constantly talk about my haters because I'm such a fucking badass (petrilude) with odd metallic growths coming out of my face.

Just so all you know, I contemplate a lot of things, but the last thing I want to do is to be taken seriously on the for real.  The last thing I need is to have to live life as though I can't enjoy it.

About That Torture Thing

Here we go -- startin' the day off with a bang and a stuffy nose!

Making the morning rounds, I stopped by the New York Times to see if they had a comprehensive report on the torture memos released yesterday.  They do:

Together, the four memos give an extraordinarily detailed account of the C.I.A.’s methods and the Justice Department’s long struggle, in the face of graphic descriptions of brutal tactics, to square them with international and domestic law. Passages describing forced nudity, the slamming of detainees into walls, prolonged sleep deprivation and the dousing of detainees with water as cold as 41 degrees alternate with elaborate legal arguments concerning the international Convention Against Torture.
The end of the report goes like this:

But Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, cautioned that the memos were written at a time when C.I.A. officers were frantically working to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing,” said Mr. Blair in a written statement. “But we will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos.”

First, it should be noted that the NYT has come forward and called it what it is - torture.  It is important for the mainstream media to call it none other than torture as defined by international law and basic human law.

Mr. Blair's defense of those that relied on the memos is not unwarranted, but I do believe that the people that provided the legal defense for torture ought to be put on trial immediately.  There also needs to be an investigation of epic proportions to determine whether there were back channels used to discuss torture in ways that might show someone acted in bad faith.  I don't want a witch hunt, I just want justice to be served.

It should be noted also that Mr. Blair attempts to use the fear of the time as a defense of these heinous acts, giving cover for the blatant abandonment of our values and principles.  We hear of the sunshine patriot in Thomas Paine's work, but what of the sunshine human?  Is it only appropriate to adhere to one's principles when it is easy?  Even as someone that adheres to the creed, "Whatever works is whatever's best," there are moral boundaries that our society and culture have set up for good reason.  Debasing the humanity of another person to achieve an end is never justified.  Even if one could begin to consider the possibility that it might be, pragmatism is thrown out the window in favor of pure sadism and evil, because torture does not work.

I think it's about time that the public act on this.  Silence is no longer an option.  In fact, the longer the public pretends like this didn't happen or just ignores the consequences, the graver the results will be for our society.  This is a blight on our history that recalls the Trail of Tears and the Japanese internment camps when viewing from the perspective that, radically, humanity is worth preserving.

We must challenge our representatives in Congress, challenge the president, and challenge our fellow citizens who don't have the political will or stomach to act alone.  It is the people that must put justice where it belongs, and put those that have acted against it where they belong - behind bars.  Indeed, if this is the land of the free and home of the brave, then let us be free enough to recognize injustice when it occurs and brave enough to do something about it.

(EDIT - Andrew Sullivan posted an amazing piece that just screams the truth.)

Song of the Day

I figure that if this is to be a proper blog then I should introduce some fairly common and recurring themes to it - and a song of the day would seem to work well for that criteria.

So for Determine's first ever 'Song of the Day', why not an ode to feminism?

"There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women."
-- Madeleine K. Albright

Touché, m'dear.

(Edit - I feel as though I should credit my American Art History professor for exposing me to this song.  She often incorporates songs when a new theme is introduced in her lectures.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


This is my first post on a serious matter, and I believe it fitting to dedicate it to the tragedy and utter horror that was authorized by the previous administration.  There is something to be said about a government that seeks to legitimize an act that was declared criminal and illegal decades ago.  I found the memos difficult to read because of their blatant disregard for humanity, but by the end of the second it was clear the trend that was set during these past eight years.

The memos mark a clear attempt to use perverted logic and twisted semantics to achieve an end without regard to the legal and moral bounds that are placed upon our country.  As Andrew Sullivan points out, "Our standards are now lower for the US than they were once for Nazi Germany."

There is an obvious notion among the writers of the memos that they are arguing a position that is not orthodox, and feel the need to reference various sources for their creative and wildly imaginative versions of "torture" and "severe pain".  I'm no lawyer, but it is clear that international and domestic law were violated.

Obama today indicated that those that acted in good faith with the authorization provided to them would not be pursued.  Thus, it is reasonable to assume that if they acted in bad faith and didn't follow policy exactly as described, they could be prosecuted.

Personally, I don't think the average interrogator should be prosecuted for following orders, if they acted in good faith.  However, those decrepid jerks that issued the orders and those in the Dept of Justice that gave legal credibility to torture need to be put on trial for war crimes.  There is nothing else to describe what we've witnessed -- the forced inhumanity upon a human being is beyond the pale of civilized action.

It is because we are civilized and better than al-Qaida and other radical terrorist groups that we must diligently remain above them.  As the president loves to say, there is no reason for us to sacrifice our principles to achieve security.  Those that argue otherwise might like to take a look at what barbarism means for them.

Hello And Such

Hello, readers!  Not that I have any readers at this point, but that's beside the point.

Those of you that harken from my friends list on Facebook know that I have a long habit of blogging when the urge strikes.  My opinions are far-ranging and certainly expressed at every opportunity.  My opinionated nature is likely annoying at times, but what's a guy to do?

Blog, of course!

Here's a brief intro for people that happen across this blog:  I'm twenty-one years old and a dirty librul in a sea of Southern conservatives.  My decidedly liberal assortment of bumper stickers gets me rude looks from old ladies and the finger from rednecks alike.  Beyond the political, my experience in the restaurant industry has led to be somewhat cynical about the nature of humanity and I have an affinity for anything that challenges the establishment.  Computer gaming is a mark of awesomeness.  Music is not an escape, it's an art.  Art is not an escape, it is expression.  Expression is independence.  To put it shortly:  I revere Reason and rationality, believing most others do not, and my rebellious streak still dominates.

Oh, and I'm homosex. (Edit - I discovered via Urban Dictionary that this means I'm a straight person that acts like a homo.  But really, I *am* homo.  Like, very.  Just so you know.)