We the people

Let me make this clear, so that nobody gets the idea that the administration, with or without the consent of congress, can waive fundamental rights pertaining to all human beings. They cannot. We the grand jury now investigating have jurisdiction if no US or district attorney will prosecute. We can bring the charges in the court of public opinion, and we will do so when we have information to warrant indictment. The courts can still function, for now. We take no authority that we do not possess of our natural and God given right, and none which exceeds our need. When the other branches of government are restored and are capable of upholding their constitutional obligations, we will stand down.

Jack Balkin has more.

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Pop pop pop occulture

Tim Boucher writes,

If you haven’t before, I recommend checking out Carl Sagan’s 1969 essay on Marijuana which he wrote under the pen name of “Mr. X.” His identity as the author wasn’t revealed until after his death.

An excerpt is provided, and there is a very interesting conversation that follows.

Can you help Pete Guither?

He’s been doing yeoman’s work for drug policy reform on his blog for years (and he’s been on the blogroll here for as long as I can remember), and like anyone working in any field, he depends upon his tools. His primary tool is his computer, and it’s not working so well for him these days, so he’s hoping to be able to replace it sometime. If you can help, take a look.

Torture express leaves the station

I expect that Glenn Greenwald will have something insightful to say about this, and I won’t waste my breath (or fingers) trying to explain what others do a better job of writing about, but John Bush has now signed the Torture Bill into purported law, and Lyle Denniston informs us that the department of injustice has urged the US circuit court in DC to deny further briefings and take the new law as if it were a conclusive argument defeating the appeals of the administration’s torture victims.

Update: Behind on my blog reading at the moment. It looks like Jane Hamsher found some choice remarks from TBogg and Digby. Read ’em all, we need to have a consensus about this event. This signature, memorializes and makes official the act of constitutional desecration which the administration and congress have perpetrated.

Et tu, Brute?

When you say to someone, especially a family member, that they are never going to amount to anything, you are creating either a self-fulfilling prophecy or an adversary, depending on whether the person wants to prove you wrong. Because once someone is motivated by proving others wrong, there is a struggle from then on between them. Prove me wrong?

Here’s the thing, though. You do want to prove others wrong when they are wrong. You should want to do so. But you should prefer that you not have to. It would be better if they told you things that were true, or that you could accept as true without it being necessary to harm yourself for the sake of believing them. If someone tells you that you are going to be good, and you will achieve your dreams when you set your mind to them, this is a truth you can believe.

Scientists say that science is a different matter, and we should never take on faith anything which we cannot subject to disproof. Yet they take the scientific method itself on faith, they do not test it against the alternative. I do not say this to suggest that the scientific method is wrong, I believe it is correct in its own context. But neither belief nor disbelief should be dependent upon science. When you perceive for yourself, you may believe your eyes and ears, even when you can perform no measurement which is verifiable to those who have not themselves perceived the phenomenon you describe.

Fundamentalists are the same as me if I did not rely upon my perceptions, if I denied my eyes and my ears and relied instead upon a book which I did not understand to be the source of all truth. It would be to put a blindfold and ear plugs and wrap myself up like The Who’s Tommy. Fundamentalism is a big problem but one, like science, open to direct experience. For when scientists, who long denied the existence of ball lightning, finally saw for themselves that it was real, they changed their minds. I ask any fundamentalists who read these words to tell me, do you deny a rainbow?

I don’t want to be wrong, do you? So I don’t want to be proven wrong. Prove me right, unless you think I really need to be shown an error. And if I am wrong, I will accept that correction. But my encouragement is meant to say that you have every interest in agreeing, and in seeking a peaceful resolution to your conflicts now. You are all God.

And you are all right too. The question is, do you want to be right?

For those who care to read

It’s popular on the progressive blogs to dismiss the religious right as a bunch of morons. I will say that their leaders are hypocrites and some of them may be the biggest sinners of all. Those who condemn are themselves condemned. I’m not perfect, either. But I try to improve, and to do so by caring what my words and my actions do, whether they cause happiness or sadness, whether they cause relief or more pain. There is no final judgment here, though you may see an occasional flash of anger and upset when I see people suffering who could be helped, who could at least not be made to suffer worse. Torture really is the issue that I think defines the fruit of the conservative tree now, and something has to be done to stop it, not because we need to punish the guilty, but in order to spare the innocent.

But the religious followers, who are deceived by their leaders, are nonetheless looking for some guidance to live better lives. They don’t know where else to go, perhaps. If you’ve grown up without any other perspective, you may wonder if any other point of view can even make sense. It may even seem crazy, but that is precisely how you might be seen in the reverse perspective. So try to understand it, please. I’m not asking you to agree. I’m asking you to consider it.

We can all improve, we can all get better, but we all have to be willing to change in order to do that. Please don’t think that I am unwilling to move from my own stances, I am always willing to consider ways to alter what I say and do. That is the essence of what it means to me that I call myself liberal.

I’m no smarter than anyone, I may spend more time thinking about certain things and writing my thoughts, but they are not unique, others have said the same things (and in more beautiful prose than I can muster). I’m as capable of being an idiot as anyone, but because I do care I want to know when I am doing something wrong and try to fix it. Can we hear some of this from the right-wing, please?

And I’ll ask the same of the left, when it matters. I don’t expect perfection from them, I don’t expect it from myself so I cannot expect it from anyone else. I do expect that we can all do better, given time and willingness to learn, as long as we care.

And if you’re reading this, and you don’t care, why are you reading this?