Drones vs. torture

Tom Junod:

As a grizzled veteran of a Catholic education I have, despite an agnosticism that verges on unbelief, an inordinate and ingrained interest in the health of men’s souls. Old habits die hard. One of the things that concerned me about the Bush administration’s commitment to torture in the name of enhanced interrogation, for example, is that Americans were being asked by an ostensibly Christian administration to do it: to commit acts that seemed unjustifiable by any Christian code, and to expose themselves to the risk of judgement, whether in the here and now or in the great beyond.

I know that Andrew Sullivan had the same kind of upbringing, and have always suspected that he has the same kinds of concerns. Which is why it surprised me when in his Wednesday post on my story about “The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama,” he seemed to buy in to the Obama administration’s largest unspoken assumption:

That killing represents a moral upgrade over capture and interrogation — over torture.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/drones-vs-torture-10621413#ixzz20VcAdtOT

Hard Times: Lost on Long Island

I remember predicting this when talking to one of my daughter-in-law’s affluent relatives the night before their wedding, back in October 2008. He was skeptical, made some comment that anyone who really wanted a job could always find one. “You’ll see,” I said.

I wonder if he watched this.

Drug war

David Simon with the best thing ever written about the drug war:

We do it because we – and the communal reference is not merely to the ruling class, but to the middle- and working-class voters who tolerate such craven dishonor – live in abject fear that if we dare ratchet down our drug war, then drugs themselves will come closer: Closer to our communities; closer to our schools, our children; closer to our America.

The real risk? In the same way that the psychic effect of terrorism on a population becomes disproportionate to the actual probability of being a victim of terror, so too does our fear of drugs and drug abuse produce grandiose overreaction.

Think otherwise? If you believe for a minute that all of the brutality and lost treasure and human tragedy that underwrites America’s drug war keeps marijuana, or cocaine, or methamphetamine, or heroin from your children, you are entirely naïve enough to soldier in Pharoah’s army. Because regardless of where your kids go to school, regardless of who they keep for friends, regardless of whatever shaded suburb or gated community you inhabit, the truth is that if they want to get high, they will. They know where to get it, and yes, it is there to be got. Everywhere. We can’t even keep drugs out of our vast prison complex, much less a junior high school; if we can’t win the drug war inside a maximum-security prison, where in society do we expect to emerge victorious?

Yet to preserve the vague and unsubstantiated notion that this prohibition is sheltering us and ours, we have transformed it into an open war on the underclass. Rather than trust in our parenting, our resources, our values to guard against the actual and proportional risks of dangerous drugs, we have instead been willing to consign the children of West Baltimore or North Philadelphia or East St. Louis to hell on earth. In places devoid of all other legitimate economic endeavor – places where half the adult males of color no longer have employment – we have rigged the game: The factories are gone, the warehouses are empty. Only the corners remain. There, the only functioning industry gives daily meaning to the other, lost America even as it destroys that part of our nation. There, we have found a way to hunt, and persecute, and finally, monetize our poor for the benefit of a growth industry that actually spends profits lobbying legislatures for harsher drug statutes and more prison construction.

Big Brother

Facebook is watching you:

Facebook and other social platforms are watching users’ chats for criminal activity and notifying police if any suspicious behavior is detected, according to a report.

The screening process begins with scanning software that monitors chats for words or phrases that signal something might be amiss, such as an exchange of personal information or vulgar language.

The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t already have a well-established connection on the site and whose profile data indicate something may be wrong, such as a wide age gap. The scanning program is also “smart” — it’s taught to keep an eye out for certain phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators.

If the scanning software flags a suspicious chat exchange, it notifies Facebook security employees, who can then determine if police should be notified.

A 14-year coverup

You probably already know how I feel. Football is a religion in this country, and Penn State is one of its cathedrals. It’s big money, corruption, and abuse of power. Some kids paid the price while the big shots looked the other way. No surprise there.

The only shocker is that Louie Freeh actually did his job. If Paterno hadn’t died, it would have been a lot less likely. That’s because we now live in an accountability-free world.

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