“It’s very painful when you are attached to somebody like a brother or family, and you see that person on his last days,” McCollum said. “A lot of them don’t really want to die. … And it hurt me the most to see the state take somebody’s life, when they are committing murder their own self. But they don’t see it that way.”

~ Henry McCollum, released from NC prison after decades on death row

In Defense of Drones

English: Official work by the Central Intellig...

CIA Headquarters, Virginia


They’re the worst form of war, except for all the others.


Over the years, I’ve shared many worries about the rise of drones: the illusion of withdrawal, the militarization of the CIA, the corruption of law, the evasion of congressional restraint, the risk of mission creep, and the proliferation of signature strikes. But civilian casualties? That’s not an argument against drones. It’s the best thing about them.
– William Salatan




School Security

Today I can walk onto the campus of any college or university, and of most primary and secondary schools in the country as well, with little or no chance of being challenged or my progress impeded in any way that would be effective if I had slaughter on my mind. So can just about anyone else.

This state of affairs is as shameful as the refusal, in the 1970’s, of the Federal Aviation Administration to mandate reinforced cockpit doors on airliners.  That bit of foot-dragging to save the airlines money allowed the 9/11 tragedies to happen. When we invite people to walk into critical areas, we underwrite whatever happens next. We don’t do it in courthouses. We don’t do it in airports. Why in the name of heaven do we permit it at our schools?

Read more at What…Me Sober?


Like Schrödinger’s cat, Romney’s support for abortion seems to be both alive and dead at the same time.

If there is any logic to Romney’s wiggles it is opportunism, with swerves toward power and toward those whose lives are most similar to his own. That is not the same thing as being a moderate. Maybe he doesn’t mean it—but how would one find out?

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2012/10/a-quantum-theory-of-romneys-abortion-position.html

Tribal Leadership

More interesting than you might imagine.


Ain’t no Lincoln. No Douglas, neither.

I’m going to try to keep this non-partisan, because I felt the same way back in the days before the Republican Party forgot what it believed.  (Oops!)

Anyway, Merriam-Webster defines “debate” thusly, and it’s the definition I recall from my school years:

a contention by words or arguments: as

a : the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure

b : a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides.

The so-called presidential debates of the past few decades have been neither debates, as far as I’m concerned, nor presidential.  They have been disorganized efforts on the part of either side to put on a better show than their opponents.  Very little is debated.  In fact, based on the definitions above (accepted for a couple of centuries now), there is essentially no debate at all.  Each party throws out his or her contentions in as broad a fashion as possible, in order to avoid being pinned down about details.  There is no requirement to defend a position, as in a real debate with real substance, nor is there any true give-and-take.  Furthermore, there seems to be no requirement for accuracy.  One is permitted to fling pseudo-facts around with abandon, and some silly sense of strategy prevents them from being challenged.  Gods forbid that a candidate should look like he’s actually attacking his opponent!

Nor is there any attention to the rules of debate, which involve stating a position, listening carefully to the response, and responding thoughtfully to it — among others.

What I saw this week was a poorly-staged pair of lousy performances by a guy who is too far up in his own head to appeal to many watchers, and a would-be common man who was told by his handlers to sound passionate, and who tried to pull it off with a bluff.  I saw no statesmanship on the one side, and little apart from cool appraisal on the other.  There was no discussion.  There was nothing offered by Romney in terms of intellectual content, and little offered by Obama except that.  Neither impressed me very damn much, and I’d be disappointed with my candidate regardless of which side I was on.

Unfortunately, in the current vapid atmosphere that pervades TV-land, arm-waving seems to have prevailed; I think mostly because the other guy didn’t project anything that the reality-TV watchers could relate to.  At least they understand arm-waving.

I wish Sarah Palin was back on the campaign trail.  At least she was entertaining.


*But yes, I’ll probably watch the next one.  Hope springs eternal…


The shift reminds one of the old parable about a child who was looking for his lost dime next to the lamp post, not because it was there that the dime went missing—but because it was there that the light made searching easy.