May 7, 2009 archive
May 07 2009
May 07 2009
Stephen Colbert has a great idea: Let kids conduct torture trials…
“Kids have no political agenda. They ask great questions like ‘Do dogs go to heaven?’ and ‘When is it appropriate to abandoned the values of our country in order to save our country?’ Plus, kids will accept ‘because I told you so’ as a legitimate answer,” he explained.
Condoleeza Rice recently stumbled while fielding a question from a fourth-grader about torture, repeating the same phrase three times.
Paraphrased, the question was: What did Rice think about the things President Obama’s administration was saying about the methods the Bush administration had used to get information from detainees?
Colbert was inspired by the fourth-grader’s question. “So let’s have Rice, Cheney and everyone else explain the nuance of their rationale to a jury of children,” he said.
How might lawyers argue for torture in front of a jury of children? Colbert explains. “For example, kids, Mr. Bunny was a bad, bad bunny and he had information that President Raccoon needed so the president got his lawyer squirrels to write a magic letter which made everything did he did perfectly legal.”
“Then Mr. Bunny was strapped to an inclined bench with a blanky over his nose and mouth and Willie the Whale squirted water into his face so Mr. Bunny thought he was drowning,” Colbert explained as if he were telling a children’s story. “But, remember, President Raccoon had a magic letter so it was not a violation of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Then he married a princess. The end.”
Colbert summed up his argument for allowing children to serve as jury to torture prosecutions. “After all, remember children are the future. And if we explain torture to them right, it will be a future where torture isn’t wrong.”
This video is from Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, broadcast May 5, 2009.
May 07 2009
Vincent Van Gogh’s turbulent and tragic life makes for romantic legend, and much of it is true. But one common misconception is that he cut off his ear over the love of a woman. In fact, the official story long has been that he cut it off after a fight with his sometime friend, Paul Gauguin. The official story now has been called into question.
From Monday’s Guardian:
According to official versions, the disturbed Dutch painter cut off his ear with a razor after a row with Gauguin in 1888. Bleeding heavily, Van Gogh then walked to a brothel and presented the severed ear to an astonished prostitute called Rachel before going home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed.
But two German art historians, who have spent 10 years reviewing the police investigations, witness accounts and the artists’ letters, argue that Gauguin, a fencing ace, most likely sliced off the ear with his sword during a fight, and the two artists agreed to hush up the truth.
In Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, published in Germany, Hamburg-based academics Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans argue that the official version of events, based largely on Gauguin’s accounts, contain inconsistencies and that both artists hinted that the truth was more complex.
Van Gogh and Gauguin’s troubled friendship was legendary. In 1888, Van Gogh persuaded him to come to Arles in the south of France to live with him in the Yellow House he had set up as a “studio of the south”. They spent the autumn painting together before things soured. Just before Christmas, they fell out. Van Gogh, seized by an attack of a metabolic disease became aggressive and was apparently crushed when Gauguin said he was leaving for good.
Van Gogh had wrapped the ear in paper, and when he handed it to Rachel, asked her to “keep this object carefully.” Van Gogh soon was taken into custody, and placed in a hospital, where his mental state was far worse than his physical. The hospital is now a cultural center known as Espace Van Gogh.
May 07 2009
I want to talk about economic inequality, President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the core beliefs Democrats share.
I’ll start with Robert Reich, former Labor secretary for Bill Clinton, who has an interesting article in Salon today that caught my eye: Obama, the enemy of economic inequality
He makes several good points in it, all of which reinforce my fundamental view that the best of President Obama is his core opposition to the extreme economic inequality that exists in America today.
First, he addresses the repeated description of President Obama as a pragmatist, a description President Obama encourages:
Being a pragmatist is a statement about means, not ends. It describes someone who chooses the most practical way of achieving a certain goal but it does not explain why he chooses one goal over another.
Much more, after the fold.