Our history is an aggregate of last moments

I liked Gravity’s Rainbow, at least the parts of it I could figure out. For quite awhile I thought it was not very good because it didn’t say what I wanted to say and had to finally admit that that was not the author’s job. Pynchon’s job was to tell his story in the best way that the story could be told and he did. The NYT doesn’t seem to care much for Thomas Pynchon new book Against the Day, but they pause to praise Vineland which I thought was a well written introduction into a story that never went very far.

Although this impulse can be discerned in “Against the Day,” it’s blunted and stillborn. The loss of innocence — both individual and collective — runs like a dark melody throughout this novel; many of its central characters are looking for salvation; and the vague search for progenitors that lurked in the earlier books has turned, in the case of the Webb clan, into a full-blown preoccupation with familial duty. But because these people are so flimsily delineated, their efforts to connect feel merely sentimental and contrived.

In the good luck on that department, Democrats Plan Series of Votes on Ethics Reforms

Under that plan, freshmen would offer, over as many as five days in January, separate amendments to ban gifts, meals and travel financed by lobbyists, said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), incoming chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. New rules mandating the disclosure of all contacts with lobbyists would be another vote, as would a rule requiring that the sponsors of funding for home-state pet projects be identified. The House would also vote on whether to reinstate budget rules, known as pay-as-you-go, or “paygo,” requiring that any new spending or tax cuts be offset by equal spending cuts or tax increases.

Sounds like they are on the right track. The one thing that America really needs is some form of public campaign finance, not just the couple bucks you can kick in on your tax return. If the Democrats are successful in ethics reform, and they probably will be, it will still be a little surreal as many of those expected to adhere to these new reforms will have been elected more because of their ability to raise campaign cash then win a debate on issues. While it was inspiring to read about the amount of money raised at the grass-roots, way too many millions were spent on the mid-terms.

Chinese Water Torture, Washington style

What was President Bush’s personal role, if any, in giving a green light to harsh interrogation methods? That’s never been clear, but now Democratic leaders are more determined than ever to find out. The CIA acknowledged last week, in response to a freedom of information lawsuit by the ACLU, that Bush signed a 2002 directive authorizing the creation of secret prisons overseas to hold and interrogate high-level Qaeda operatives. Key Democrats, infuriated that they had to learn about the document from a lawsuit, say they intend to demand a copy to determine precisely what it said.

If you are of the opinion that President is just another name for King then this kind of thing doesn’t bother you in the least. Run secret prisons, torture whoever you like. On the other hand if you see the President of the U.S. as a co-equal member of a three branch government that cannot run his own secret little war without regard for the law or morality then Bush’s actions are outrageous. A commenter there, probably born and raised in America, a student of our public school system doesn’t get it but provides an example of the mentality we’re dealing with,

Posted By: John Slivers (11/18/2006 at 11:50:16 PM)
Comment: Honestly… WHO CARES???????????? Torture these sons of b*tches till they talk! And do it the old fashioned way, not with these new generation feel good annoyances. Don’t any of you people care that we are under attack? How can your hate for Bush get in the way of not WANTING TO BE KILLED? Man this is ridiculous. Give it up with the Bush hate. Who cares about Bush, he is a lame duck anyway. Lets beat the terrorists. Let me ask this question… if your loved ones were maimed or killed by boiling shrapnel from a fire bomb detonated by a suicidal zealot in an open market, would you want the interrogation of the perpetrators to be conducted as humanely as possible? F NO YOU WOULDNT.

Well it is like this Mr. Slivers Americans are attacked everyday, some are raped, some are murdered and those accused of those crimes are provided with an attorney if they cannot afford one, they are guaranteed a fair trial, and it is against the law to torture them. The only difference between our criminals and terrorists is place of origin. These foreign fighters are not entitled to all the protections of US citizens, but they are entitled to protections that the US is signatory to such as the Geneva Convention. Mr. Sliver also makes that tragic leap of logic that anyone and everyone that is detained by U.S.  forces is guilty and deserving of torture; Mr. Sliver’s Mom and Dad or his elementary school teachers should have explained how lynch mobs are immoral ( Don’t they show the Oxbow Incident in school anymore). Some of the people that have been detained, for lack of a better description are the scum of the earth, but they are not measurably much different then the average home grown murderer who gets a fair trail. Mr. Sliver doesn’t even seem to believe that torture is a deterrent to certain behaviors he just feels that it saves lives. The Torture Myth

…retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was “not nice,” he says. “But we did not physically abuse them.” Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet — as he remembers saying to the “desperate and honorable officers” who wanted him to move faster — “if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy’s genitals, he’s going to tell you just about anything,” which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn’t know “any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea.”

Torture is a bad idea and so is letting Presidents act like medieval kings.

“It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.” from Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon