Recognize waterboarding for what it is -- torture
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Waterboarding, by any other name, including the Orwellian "enhanced interrogation technique," is torture. The United States tried and convicted members of the Japanese military during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for, amongst other crimes, torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. According to Evan Wallach, Vietnam War veteran, federal judge and one of the nation's foremost experts on war crimes and the law of war, "the principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding."
One of those Americans waterboarded by the Japanese was Chase J. Nielsen, who had this to say about the experience, "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning -- just gasping between life and death."
French journalist Henri Alleg, who was subjected to waterboarding by French paratroopers in Algeria in 1957, expounds further, "I had the impression of drowning, and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. In spite of myself, all the muscles of my body struggled uselessly to save me from suffocation. In spite of myself, the fingers of both my hands shook uncontrollably."
Can we be morally comfortable with the fact that we convicted those who used waterboarding against us while advocating its use against our enemies? The fact that the genocidal Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, the police state lead by Pinochet in Chile and the Gestapo all used waterboarding should bring further moral discomfort.
While projecting the values of democracy and human rights around the world, it would behoove us to recognize, objectively, waterboarding for what it is -- torture. During the GOP debates, Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul were the only ones who recognized this.
Drivers need to turn phones off, lights on
I was driving home from work the other day and was amazed to see so many vehicles approaching me without their headlights on. With the recent time change, it is now dark or nearly dark for the evening commute. Drivers are forgetting to put on their lights.
If you are a bicyclist or pedestrian trying to cross the road, it is very likely you may not see these vehicles coming down the road amongst lighted vehicles. So, drivers, please remember as you enter your cars for the evening commute to turn that cell phone off and turn your lights on. The life you save may just be your own.
We have to stand up for the middle class
Americans should be able to (and have to) work and make a living wage based on their education or skills. I can't stand the welfare handouts that allow able-bodied people to choose to sit home because it's more cost-effective than working. I also cannot stand corporate welfare and a tax system that rewards the extremely rich while punishing everyone else.
The exploitation of private-sector workers is another sickening fact. A family member has to miss Thanksgiving dinner this year because she has to work at a non-union superstore from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. This well-known store considers the 12-hour shift two separate days, so it does not have to pay for anything more than straight time. Retaliation and firing would happen if I name the store, because there are no worker protections.
I can't stand how many people have been duped into thinking unions are bad for America. Really? Did you read my last couple of sentences? Without unions, there is exploitation of workers. When will private-sector workers realize that we are all linked, and when wages and benefits go down for public workers, it will negatively affect them, too? Who buys your goods and services?
Middle-class America is the backbone of our society, and it is crumbling because we have allowed it to be divided and conquered. Enough is enough. It's time to organize and fight for our families and country. I hope the politicians get it now. Do you?
Tammy L. Nikischer
Our pathetic Congress should be outsourced
With congressional approval below 9 percent, it's obvious that these government employees are a drain on the federal budget and impact the deficit negatively. Outsourcing these positions to a qualified management group would have some immediate beneficial effects:
First, the $160,000 annual salary received by those in Congress could be cut by at least two-thirds with replacement workers, without the lifelong guarantee of health benefits, and still accomplish as little as the current work force.
Second, all campaign fundraising and special-interest largess could be centralized by management, ensuring that the customers get their requested legislation passed with the efficiencies of a vertically integrated process, leaving a substantial margin for Congress.
Remember, if government is the problem, then it's a profit opportunity.
Republican candidates living in a fantasy world
It has been painful viewing the debates of the Republican presidential wannabes. Where are the potential candidates coming from? Are they all looking forward to a fantasy of solving the mess their own party created over eight years of war and endless spending? As a citizen, I wonder why these people cannot come to grips with the current situation, and in their rhetoric blame our president for the mess they created. They don't seem to have an alternative, while defending the elite in society by not wanting to raise taxes and correct the dilemma.
As a veteran, I care for our brave men and women who fought the Republicans' wars and now cannot find employment. As a former businessman, I would have gladly paid more to get us out of this crisis. This is not a fairy tale of Snow White. That cast was a group of miners. Is the current group mining for gold, with the prize being the White House?
The group is led by Michele Bachmann, aka Snow White, who under the evil spell utters another blooper. We have Doc, aka Ron Paul, who sounds like anything other than a doctor. And Newt Gingrich, aka Grumpy, who has complained his entire political career. Next is Happy, aka Mitt Romney, boasting his front-runner status, but no real solutions. Then we have Sleepy, aka Jon Huntsman, always awakened to answer a question on policy. Bashful, aka Rick Santorum, is always the last one to speak. Most notable is Sneezy, not Sleezy, aka Herman Cain. Last is Dopey, aka Rick Perry. His dopey statements have brought him prominence, and the bottom of the polls. These characters want to lead the free world?