Saturday, April 25, 2009

Notre Dame College Sustainability: Irish Get a B- for the Year

Each year, I like to check all of the national metrics involving progressive standards for the University. Recently, I stumbled upon this, from the College Sustainability Report Card. The University received a B- grade for 2008, which was an improvement over last year. Our weak points were on "Endowment Transparency" and "Shareholder Engagement." Our strengths included "Investment Priorities" and "Student Involvement."

The report gives a shout-out to GreeND and orientation programs. Even though a B- isn't stellar, it's good to see improvement, and it's great to see that student involvement is our strong point. I hope to see these sustainability efforts sustain into the next school year.

Image Source:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lefties Steal the Lead in Today's Observer

Here's an article published by The Observer today about good old Lefties. Props to them!

Jenkins to meet Obama invite supporters

Fifteen leaders from student groups to meet with University president and present letter, petition

By: Aaron Steiner

Fifteen students, representing over twenty student groups, are scheduled to meet with University President Fr. John Jenkins at 3:30 p.m. today to present a petition and letter in support of his invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at Commencement on May 17.

A student involved in organizing the meeting, College Democrats President Henry Vasquez, said that the Progressive Leadership Council, which is composed of leaders of progressive campus clubs, got over twenty student clubs to sign the letter supporting the invitation.

"It's mostly a symbolic gesture of support," Vasquez said. He and senior Michael Angulo gathered the support of the clubs - including the Progressive Student Alliance, College Democrats, Feminist Voice, the Notre Dame NAACP chapter, Students for Environmental Action and the Black Cultural Arts Council (BCAC).

The letter states: "As Notre Dame students, we strive to be a concerned community that recognizes the complexity of the many issues that face our nation and our world. We respect diverse viewpoints on issues and we also believe in concerned and genuine dialogue."

The letter also states that as "students concerned with the issues of social justice," the supporters look forward to hosting Obama and "continuing our University's mission to 'create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice,'" citing the University mission statement.


John McCain Flips the Proverbial Script on Torture

Submitted for your approval: the case of one John Sydney McCain, a man with a long life and a short range of motion in his shoulders. A man who, 40 years ago, was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment at the hands of an out-of-control band of revolutionaries, and vowed never to condone torture, having experienced it himself. A man who is keenly aware of political realities. So keenly, in fact, that one such concern has caused him to take a sharp right turn... into the Hypocrisy Zone.

Senator McCain said today that it's just too darn dangerous for us to prosecute those who made the decision to torture for intelligence. It'll be a witch hunt, by gum! Why can't we just move forward and let bygones be bygones? Let's look to the future! None of this dwelling on the past!

I agree, Senator. We should all look to the future in criminal cases rather than looking toward the past. Sure, officer, I was doing 120 in a 35 at the corner of Old Lady Crossing the Street and Elementary School, but that's in the past! Let's look forward!

What could have caused this strange dissociation from John Boy's usual, somewhat stiff-armed stance?

Oh. Yeah, I guess that would do it.

McCain faces a credible primary challenge from the right for the first time in many years, proving once again (as if we didn't know from the Presidential race) that he will do anything to get elected. It's too bad, too. McCain was one of the reasons I registered Republican back when I was 18 (a significant time longer ago for me than for many of Lefty's editors), thinking that the Republican party was really the Big Tent party, and all of those socially conservative stances I was really queasy about weren't all that important, were they? After all, they hardly got a peep of mention most of the time. I mean, hey, look at this McCain guy! He talks right down the middle as a matter of course, stands up for logical, fair stances on the issues, and doesn't care what his party leadership thinks! Awesome! Now that's a Republican.

No, I'm afraid this is a Republican, Virginia: a guy who has no trouble looking at his literally tortured past and selling it out when it looks like his job might be threatened. Accountability? What accountability? This guy is younger and better-looking than me and is actually reasonably well-funded, judging by that intermailerwhatsernet he's got!

Sad. If there more Republicans like the one John McCain pretends to be, this country might be in a lot better shape today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Student Groups Stand Beside Jenkins, Obama

[The following is a letter presented to the University president by the Progressive Leadership Council, a group of student leaders representing various clubs at Notre Dame]

Dear Notre Dame students, faculty, staff, and family members,

We are writing you all in regards to the growing criticisms over the selection to welcome President Barack Obama for this year’s commencement. We stand in support of Rev. John Jenkins and our University Administration’s decision to host President Obama.

As Notre Dame students concerned with the many dimensions of social justice, we look to the words of our University’s Mission Statement, which reads:

“The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.”

This ever-urgent call to work for the common good inspires us as it has inspired generations of Notre Dame students before us.

As we continue to address the issues of social justice and the dignity of all people on our own campus, in our country, and around the world, we are encouraged by the passion of debate that surround President Obama’s visit to our University. We recognize that all issues of life are important matters that people of good conscience are called to take seriously. This point must not be downplayed and we think it is important to have an honest and open conversation.

As Notre Dame students, we strive to be a concerned community that recognizes the complexity of the many issues that face our nation and our world. We respect diverse viewpoints on issues and we also believe in concerned and genuine dialogue. We think, however, that the debate is being neglected by those who would rather divide than work together for common ground and for the common good. We are concerned that in narrowing the focus to one aspect of life that has often proven polarizing and divisive many have lost the ability to recognize the other aspects of President Obama’s work that continues to uphold the principles of justice and solidarity.

Furthermore we welcome a president to our University that has in many ways helped re-define the history of our nation. We profoundly admire the work of those in the civil rights movement that made it possible for President Obama to come to our campus as our country’s first African-American president. Once a dream held by so many in our nation, we rightly celebrate at our University this momentous occasion for the legacy of social justice and civil rights.

We are proud to welcome President Obama to speak at commencement just as we have welcomed six sitting presidents before him. We thank our University’s administration for this opportunity. As Notre Dame students concerned with the issues of social justice, we look forward to hosting our President and continuing our University’s Mission to “create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice”.

In peace,

Africa Faith and Justice Network
African Student Association
Anthropology Club
Asian International Society
Black Cultural Arts Council
Brazil Club
Campus Labor Action Project
College Democrats
Feminist Voice
Human Rights- Notre Dame
Indian Association of Notre Dame
MEChA de Notre Dame
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, ND
Native American Student Association of Notre Dame
ND for Animals
Notre Dame Peace Fellowship
Outreach ND
Progressive Student Alliance
Spanish Club
Students for Environmental Action
Sustained Dialogue at Notre Dame
The Wabruda

We Interrupt This Earth Day to Bring You a Hefty Dose of Awesomeness...

In case you don't know what this is about, former War Criminal Vice President Dick Cheney was let out of his undisclosed location again this weekend to bitch and moan about President Obama, the usefulness of torture, etc.

Anyhow, Ed Schultz delivers the best dose of STFU I've seen handed out in a long time!

Freak'n awesome, and about time someone with a soap box to stand on said this.

Earth Day at Lefty's

Happy Earth Day Everyone!!!

Today President Obama traveled to Iowa where he spoke at a manufacturing plant that used to make household appliances that is now producing wind turbines. This is exactly the kind of transformation our economy needs so that we can revive the decimated manufacturing sector of our economy and become a country that produces things as opposed to relying on the service sector and imaginary financial products which clearly didn't work out so well.

It should be the conventional wisdom by now that the United States needs to aggressively implement alternative sources of energy. We're obviously not going to stop using oil & gas tomorrow, and no one is suggesting that, but the development of power sources from solar, wind and ocean currents are going to create jobs and improve the health of the planet. And if we get our act together and start making some serious investments in green technology as a part of our economic stimulus, we will hopefully be able to export this technology to developing energy markets before they, too, become dependent on oil and only perpetuate the climate crisis.

Individual responsibility is also a huge factor in cleaning up the environment. Everything from turning off the lights/water, replacing your bulbs with energy-efficient ones, walking/riding a bike instead of driving when possible. It all makes a difference.

We all need to do our part. I've managed to actually remember to bring my reusable grocery bags to the store three times in a row now, woohoo! So, Lefty's comrades... on this Earth Day, why don't you take a moment and hit up the comment section make some suggestions as to what we can all realistically do to be a part of the greater solution?

Photos: Gerald Herbert/AP

opposite marriage?

Congratulations Miss California! You are the new poster child of close minded Bigotry. In all her sparkling infamy, here is Miss Politically Correct:

In my little slice of America, I believe love can exist between anyone and should be recognized.

earth day playlist

motorcycle drive by - third eye blind
the district sleeps alone tonight - postal service
sleep - azure ray
recycled air - postal service
How are you celebrating and do you have any requests?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prosecuting Torturers: A Game Theory Perspective

Following a torrent of criticism in the past days, President Obama has expressed an openness to moving forward with possible prosecution of Bush Administration officials over torture practices. This reversal has been attributed to pressure generated by human rights advocates and Congressional Democrats. In many ways, this seems to be the logical source of causation. However, I offer a more nuanced perspective...

Applying game theory to the situation, I have concluded that the President's reversal was rather a move of tactical genius, regardless of whether or not the intention was there. Here's why:

1) When Obama states that he will not prosecute, he expects an outcry from the left and from moderates who hold him to campaign promises.

2) By shifting his position after such a reaction, he empowers his decision to go forward with investigations and prosecutions. After all, the people expressed their fervent views. Right?

3) If the President had decided to go forward before stating that he would not, the support for his actions would be less intense and audible. If he was unable to get any actual prosecutions, people may hold him accountable for failing.

4) Therefore, by making this switch, the President has empowered the voice of the left on one hand, and strengthened the legitimacy of his decision on the other.

In game theory, a first mover can choose to change the basic parameters by using a screening device. The screening device is essentially the opening bet (after the blinds) in poker. It does not say that much about what cards the first mover has. It does, however, force the second mover (or 3rd, 4th, so on) to reveal more information. By calling the raise, the second mover has given a signal, telling the first mover, at minimum, that the second mover has a decent hand. Of course, this isn't a guarantee, but it is much more difficult to call a raise than to begin the betting by placing the first bet. In this case, the President uses his initial stance as the first mover to raise the pot. In reaction, the liberals and human rights activists called his bet and raised him. Finally, by changing his stance, Obama admits that he was bluffing and didn't have much of a hand, meaning he intended to fold all along.

In the end, Obama succeeds in exhausting very little political capital, he empowers the voice of the left, he comes across as someone who will listen to the cries of the people, and he buffers himself from further criticism.

Conservative Observer columnist/partisan hack Christie Pesavento tried to argue that Obama's motives are political and goes on a strange and ethically fragile rant about why torture is not a big deal. I encourage you to read her viewpoint and see just how ridiculous the right can be.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy 4/20, My Dear Lefties

Once upon a time…

The use of marijuana was something that was a passé element of pop culture and music. Somewhere along the line, tougher drug policies were enforced, the average potency of the drug increased, and the cultural associations shifted toward a more distinct demographic. No longer was smoking marijuana a fleeting teenage escapade, but instead it became a more risky activity. This doesn’t mean that its use decreased drastically, but that using it was inherently more of a big deal. A separate culture emerged as a reaction to the broad drug culture that objected to its use on principled grounds. This reactionary culture dominated our society for decades. Though this may be presumptuous, I believe we are witnessing a new horizon in the journey of marijuana use.

In some ways, I’ve thought about the topic perhaps more than a person really should. In trying to remain objective, I’ve looked into the historical trends and where they are taking us. At the same time, I have been cautious in asserting any bold claims in avoidance of projecting my own personal preferences upon society. This is not about what I would like America to do, but rather, what I sincerely feel it is trending toward.

The 21st century is different. The day has come that legalization advocates have felt empowered and optimistic. The policies of medical marijuana have helped tremendously. And even if legalization is a stretch, the progress toward decriminalization is undeniable.

The following articles support the claim that the tide is changing:

Marijuana Advocates See "Tipping Point"
National Weed Day fuels marijuana legalization debate
This 4-20 - Many Are Calling For The Legalization Of Marijuana
In Calif., Medical Marijuana Laws Are Moving Pot Into the Mainstream
Is marijuana legalization on the horizon?

This debate has been going on for years, but the voices have become louder and more diverse. As people begin to shift toward a more pragmatic approach, the debate no longer falls along strictly ideological lines. The coalition of supporters now includes Libertarians, former/current hippies, social liberals, economic conservatives, and the classic (music scene) youth.

So on Adolf Hitler’s 120th birthday, I reflect upon the influence that the great green herb has had upon American culture. In many ways, it continues to drive our world—economically, politically, and culturally. And as the old die and the newborns cry, perhaps some day, America will come to terms with its love affair and give old Mary Jane a call.

Remembering Columbine: An Autopsy of Classic Journalism

Here's an essay that I wrote after the Virginia Tech shootings freshman year. I was inspired by the massive societal need to rationally explain the events, and how it reminded me of the Columbine Massacre. If you get the chance, give it a read.

Projecting Our Faith Upon The Blood on the Walls
Henry Vasquez, 2007

April 16, 2007 was a day of mourning and despair for Americans after tragic events ensued on the campus of Virginia Tech University. 32 people were gunned down by a ruthless killer whose motive stemmed from hatred toward rich kids, debauchery, and charlatans. The case rests, yet it simply can’t avoid striking memories of a comparably tragic event 8 years prior in Littleton, Colorado, where two high school students shot and killed 13 people. In both cases, there is clearly a connection between the killers and their social distress, following from an expected societal fascination with finding grand meaning in their motives. This fascination leads to a variety of outcomes—often a deepened understanding about teen violence and sociopathology; however, on occasion it promulgates a false attribution of cultural meaning. Such is the case with the Cassie Bernall dispute in the few months after the shooting at Columbine High School.

Crucial to the understanding of this debate is a clear examination of the facts with respect to the various testimonies of surviving witnesses. The initial testimonies of Joshua Lapp and Craig Scott, survivors of the shooting, claimed that they had heard Cassie Bernall conversing with the shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, about her belief in God. One of the shooters allegedly asked Cassie Bernall if she believed in God, and upon her reply “yes,” she was fatally shot. The initial report, perhaps due to journalist excitement, was released prior to complete verification of facts. This led to assumptions by Bernall’s mother and others that the story was indubitably true. Later witnesses Emily Wyant and Valeen Schnurr confirmed that the conversation in fact did take place, but between Schnurr and the shooter, where in which she responded “yes” but was not shot. Ultimately, the witnesses suggested that the plea of Bernall as she cried out “Dear God. Dear God. Why is this happening?” may have led to Scott’s confusion, and that the timing of Schnurr being asked “Do you believe in God?” with her response “Yes” may have coincided with the gunshot at Bernall. Because of the relative closure surrounding the Bernall story, the late-coming facts which negated the initial information fell on deaf ears.

The result is a perfect example of real-life dramatic irony, where the characters (witnesses) involved failed to see the entirety of the picture, and the audience (ourselves) can see where the confusion derived. To synthesize a profound sociological perspective on this issue, we must consider the following: 1) In what way is the narration of the Cassie Bernall story effective in delivering a desirable message? 2) How does the Evangelical Christian reaction to the story give it grand meaning? 3) Why do the late-coming facts that denied the story have little sensationalist allure? And finally, 4) Why does most of America still believe the story of Cassie Bernall? The result of exploring the primary news scripts and editorials released concerning the Bernall narrative, in conjunction with a more expansive look on the sensationalism of the Evangelical Christian movement, is a testament to the power of these devious processes of attributing cultural meaning to tragic incidences throughout American culture.

To investigate the careful methodology by which the narration delivers a desirable message, one must examine the initial news scripts following the incident. The Joshua Lapp testimony claims that he heard Bernall being questioned by Klebold and the response preceeding her death. ''She said it,'' Lapp said Thursday. ''Plain and simple.'' His proximity to the conversation made him a reliable witness. His claim was affirmed when Scott, who was further from the incident, stated that he heard the same conversation and was sure that it was Bernall’s voice. This seemed to be enough information to release the story, though two other witnesses, who perhaps were at a more advantageous proximity, held dissenting accounts. Emily Wyant, who was within a few feet of Bernall when she was shot, stated that the original testimony was mistaken, yet her account was never given just exposure. The sociological dynamic which emerged so obvious from these discrepancies is that even when the minority is right, if what the majority says is more desirable to a given audience, they will likely accept it regardless of validity. But why was the first message so much more desirable? The answer lies in the innate need for heroic narrative in American culture. In the same way that the 9-11 attacks were transformed from tragedy to heroism, so also was the Cassie Bernall story.

Next, we should look to perhaps the most significant meaning-making impetus behind the story: the Evangelical Christian movement. Sparked by rumor and isolated retellings of the myth, the story quickly gained acclaim among churches throughout the United States. Christians around the country were excited to hear a real-life account that invigorated the faith. Emerging from a desperate murder came grand meaning in the form of martyrdom, in the form of unexpected faith where it was found. The finishing catalyst to the hype came when Misty Bernall, Cassie’s mother, wrote a book titled She Said Yes. The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. By this point, there was little substantial skepticism concerning the facts of the story. An excerpt from Christianity Today sheds light on this denial: “Hanna Rosin took the controversy to new levels when she dismissed the encounter as a myth and then made the leap that "myth" alone is sufficient to animate the religious fervor of evangelicals, regardless of whether it is true. ‘It's the power of the story that counts,’ she wrote. ‘The truth is a trifle. Should believers accept the literal truth, they'd be left with a hopeless equation.” Chicago Tribune writer Eric Zorn expressed, "I suspect history will ultimately favor the Bernall myth over the Schnurr facts.” Returning to the broad scope of this analysis, it is evident that it is more than misinformation that incites sensationalist myth, but actual devious processes on the part of journalists and the masses of overzealous listeners.

The question should still be asked: why do the facts have such little sensationalist allure? This, I presume, will invite an exploration of how society defines this case into cultural categories. Youth massacres, such as the Virginia Tech Shootings or Columbine Shootings, are defined as epic deviant violence. There is little ambivalence concerning the malice of involved parties, and there is a clear focus on the connection between the perpetrator’s motives and the specific victims. This allows for any narration to follow a very predictable sequence, one in which the victimization and tragedy of the cases is most heavily emphasized. Along with this predictable sequence comes a predictable reaction from the audience at hand. Individuals know how to react, what to expect next, and what conclusions to draw from whatever gaps in information exist. The journalists in all these cases release a precise amount of information initially, leaving a time period for anticipation and assumptions to kick in, followed by a release of specific major details that are pleasing to the audience. Ultimately, only these self-fulfilled assumptions are given credence. Facts such as the Wyant and Schnurr testimonies do not fit into this rubric, making them less likely to be accepted or desired. Often, once the point of release is reached for these defiant details, there is very little chance for their survival. Thus, the most systematic reason for the lack of allure rests in the ill-timing and disjunction with this anticipation process.

Now that the sensationalism is dead from the Columbine Shooting and the myth of Cassie Bernall, why does most of America still believe her story? As we look at the ill-timed release of Wyant and Schnurr’s testimonies, and the aforementioned stubbornness of anticipation by the masses, it seems that the concern for knowing more about the incidence is entirely dead. To test this notion, I tested the reaction of many of my peers. What I discovered is that almost everyone still believes the Bernall myth, for lack of hearing otherwise. I proceeded to tell them the details of the debated testimonies, and most responded in a similar fashion. I could sense a moderate level of surprise, combined with a frustration for not having heard otherwise, and a general dismissal of harsh criticism toward the validity of the Bernall story. Most seemed to recognize its widespread impact as beneficial to Christian culture even though it was untrue. Most of the contempt I sensed was directed at the media.

What can be learned from these observations is that our modes of defining cultural problems tend to be very rigid. The human mind seems to operate in a way that favors first impressions and fulfilled assumptions. The Columbine Massacre is unanimously defined as a cultural problem, one that is both tragic and deviant. When a subplot emerges like the Cassie Bernall story, the massacre is given a new, more hopeful definition. The legends of heroism overpower the atrocity as a whole, and society adopts an optimistic view of the world. This is the ultimate end which society hopes to rest, case closed on a good note. As time progresses, this definition becomes even more rigid, more a part of the individual, and more impervious to attack. At a certain point, there is no turning back. Cultural definitions are the tattoo that wants to stay. It is possible to remove them, however, not without leaving a scar. The powerful constructs created by these devious processes of attributing uplifting cultural meaning to the darkest of events are those which shall rarely fall.

Brief Bibliography
1- Salon News Article
Inside the Columbine High Investigation. Sep. 23, 1999
2- Christianity Today
Cassie Said Yes, They Said No. Nov. 1, 1999.
3- Salon News Article
Who said "Yes"? Sep. 30, 1999
4- CNN News Article
Report: 12 killed at Columbine in first 16 minutes. May 16, 2000
5- CNN News Article
Bodies remain inside school as police check for bombs. Apr. 21, 1999

Free Passes for War Criminals = FAIL

I think one of our goals here at Lefty's is to advocate for progressive policy and values, and not fall victim to the cult of personality and blind adherence to ideology that caused the G.O.P. to run like lemmings off a cliff in their support of their party's leadership over the last decade. This means that while many of us are thrilled that Barrack Obama is now our President, and many of us devoted hours on end volunteering with his campaign to make that happen, we need to be true to our values and not the man. If we don't put as much, or more, pressure on our new administration to govern with our progressive values in mind, then the administration will only feel the heat coming from the right when they try to water-down the administration's agenda.

In his inaugural address, President Obama declared, "the United States does not torture." He then proceeded to issue an executive order to close the Guantanamo prisons, close CIA "black sites," make the U.S. Army field manual the basis for how to handle interrogations, and issued all departments to stop relying on Bush-era legal opinions for how to run their departments. These were all incredibly important steps that made me proud to have voted for President Obama and to have volunteered to help get him elected. We shouldn't lose sight of the significance of this dramatic shift in policy. Almost instantly, the image of the United States began to heal itself from years of illegal and immoral governing on the part of the Bush administration. But where President Obama is failing in his leadership on this issue is in his refusal to prosecute those who knowingly broke the law and those who created the policies or drafted knowingly shady legal opinions to provide cover for those who would be ordered to commit torture.

The President has been consistent in his criticism of the previous administration's practices, and deserves credit for that, and for taking such bold action in the first days of his presidency to reverse those practices. But over the last few months, the President has danced around the question of whether or not his administration will prosecute anyone for these horrible crimes. This Sunday, the president's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, answered questions from George Stephanopoulos on This Week regarding this issue, and he made it pretty clear that the administration has no intentions of prosecuting anyone for the crimes that were committed over the last eight years.

This is beyond disappointing.
People in the previous administration committed numerous illegal acts, and the administration's philosophy of "looking forward" and not wanting to seek "retribution" is just cowardly politics. Does the Justice Department not have a responsibility to pursue JUSTICE? It isn't simply "retribution" to prosecute people in the previous administration who knowingly broke the law. It is the right thing to do, and has nothing to do with the fact that I think many people in the previous administration are complete douchebags. I can understand the administration not wanting to prosecute CIA officers who acted under the "legal advice" (read: complete bullshit made up by John Yoo) that they were acting according to U.S. law. The administration needs the intelligence community to trust them, and I understand the bureaucratic politics at work that would make prosecuting employees of the CIA difficult and maybe even counterproductive. But the civilians at the top of our government who were responsible for issuing orders to torture, did so knowing they were breaking U.S. and international law, which is why they went to such lengths to have "legal experts" at the Justice Department issue memos essentially making minced-meat out of the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. And this is the legacy they left our country with:

Apparently these are the kinds of crimes that this administration thinks it is pointless to prosecute in the interest of "looking forward," and as not to appear to be seeking retribution against political enemies. Well, there's a reason we made the last crowd our political enemies... it was because they engaged in practices like this, that destroyed our moral reputation around the world.

I have a few traffic tickets back home that I really can't afford to pay. And in the interest of "looking forward," I wonder if this administration would be willing to erase those from my record for me? I promise that when I removed my truck from the place where I illegally parked, I didn't leave any pools of blood in my wake. I promise, I won't do it again, just let me off the hook this time! Pretty please!?! I really doubt that the administration would even think about taking this approach towards the administration of justice with small time traffic offenders such as myself, other petty criminals and especially not anyone accused of violent crimes... except, it seems, if those violent crimes involved beating the shit out of prisoners in futile searches for information, or just to pass the time by building their own leaning towers of Iraqis.

These crimes must be prosecuted. There is simply no excuse for giving a free pass to the people responsible for instituting the images you see above as official policy of the United States. President Obama was right to denounce torture, and to affirm its illegality once taking office. He was also correct in releasing many of the previous administration's memos which attempted to justify these practices, some of which describe the actions in detail. The New York Times compiled this collection of memos here so can access these memos yourself and read some of the smut that qualified for policy under the Bush administration. Failing to prosecute the architects of the Bush administration's torture policies sets a precedent that any future administration, Republican or Democrat, can come into office and basically disregard the law at will, without facing any threat of prosecution. Failing to prosecute Nixon and some of his associates led to a perception that you can get away with almost anything in politics. It meant that when Bush committed some of the same crimes (wiretapping, targeting journalists/political enemies) that hardly anyone saw prosecution or impeachment to be worthwhile or even legitimate. And look what that precedent resulted in. Eight years of an administration that used the Constitution when they ran out of toilet paper. If we allow these same people to get away with crimes as significant as torture, we are essentially eliminating anyone who serves in the executive branch from being in any way accountable to the rule of law.

For those of you who still believe (or would like to believe) that we are a nation of laws, not men, and would like to contact the administration and urge them to act responsibly on this issue, I urge you to do so: You can email the White House here, or call their comment line at (202) 456-1111 or contact the switchboard at (202) 456-2461.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Evening Tunes...

Just a quick dose of Sunday evening entertainment for you all to enjoy. I thought it would be somewhat in keeping with today's Sex @ TacoBell theme.

Fire in the disco!
Fire in the Taco Bell
Fire in the disco!
Fire in the gates of hell
A little Electric Six for ya...