Thursday, November 08, 2007

Waterboarding & Injustice in Public Schools

Couple of items today seem totally unconnected to me are right on the front burner one-and-the-same:

I my former congressional district in Orange County, which is so hugely overrun with republicans, there lives a courageous, or maybe foolhardy, or even fun-loving, democratic opposition candidate without a prayer of being elected to the US House of Representatives--and because of this "hopeless" dream, and his drive and determination and commitment--he probably will be!

Steve Young sent an email today describing the incumbent's stand on the AG nomination and waterboarding:

Today my Republican opponent made a statement on waterboarding that I felt you need to see. The Daily Pilot, a local insert in the Los Angeles Times has a weekly feature entitled "That's Debatable." The feature poses a question and asks John Campbell [R,Ca-48] to answer. Today's question was:

"Michael B. Mukasey, the nominee for attorney general, has been criticized for his views on interrogation techniques, specifically his comments on waterboarding. But Mukasey has said he would enforce a law banning waterboarding if Congress approved it. Do you think if he is confirmed as the next attorney general Congress should move swiftly to approve a law banning waterboarding, and would you vote for such a law?"

Of course Campbell did not answer the question whether he would vote to ban waterboarding, but his dancing in a buffalo heard answer is even more revealing:

"Waterboarding is a psychological interrogation technique that does not inflict physical pain or permanent damage. Nonetheless, it is reserved only for the worst terrorists who have information that could save dozens, hundreds or thousands of American lives. I do not think it is an excessive response to the threats that we face in the world today. John Campbell Congressman (R-Newport Beach)"

I doubt that Campbell would vote to ban a "psychological interrogation technique" he sees as so important and that does not inflict pain nor risk of death. Campbell is wrong.

Waterboarding induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, trachea, and lungs. The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose. Eventually the subject cannot exhale more air or cough out more water, the lungs are collapsed, and the sinuses and trachea are filled with water. The subject is drowned from the inside, filling with water from the head down. The chest and lungs are kept higher than the head so that coughing draws water up and into the lungs while avoiding total suffocation. "His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown."

Mr. Campbell, if waterboarding does not inflict pain or death, why is it effective? If it does not inflict pain or death why was a Texas sheriff convicted under Governor George Bush of using waterboarding? Mr. Campbell, if waterboarding is not painful, and does not threaten death, will you Mr. Campbell agree to be waterboarded so we know you are not mistaken?

I can see why I wouldn't want to have this torture done to me! Now let me tell you about my 10 year old daughter who got in my car when I picked her up from public school today crying. She is in an advanced class for gifted children (not our choice--it's state-mandated based on testing) and has one teacher in the morning, and a different one from 11:30 til dismissal at 2:34 PM. (Seems like a long day to me for pre-teens, although we all went through it didn't we...)

The morning teacher has issues and is not a happy person, and this reflects on the children. The late-morning afternoon teacher is completely the opposite and the children also relate to that. Today, the MORNING teacher was there for the entire day. She set up rules for the mis-behaving students who would not "settle down" so that the whole class had to forfeit recess time, lunch time, and had to stay AFTER closing time, even those students who were not "talking out of turn," or otherwise disrupting the order-at-hand.

My daughter was upset about this seeming injustice--even the disruptive students should not have to lose precious recess minutes and lunch time etc. So she was in tears about this when I picked her up.

I have read a few books about the US public school system, written by experts on education and learning, rather than by school administrators. It has become clear to me that our public school system and curriculum is outdated and arcane compared to what experts know about how to teach. There are even books written about the harmful effects of homework on young children and why they should be allowed to play with their friends rather than be sequestered in their homes doing repetitive math exercises.

I dropped my daughter at home and drove back to the school and confronted her teacher as she was leaving. I told her that my daughter was excited to get to school early today, as every day, and wound up in tears because of her teacher's actions. This teacher told me I had to explain to my daughter about the "real world," and consequences etc I can't go on...

This teacher and I had a difference of opinion, but the teacher is also pretty burnt out and even admitted it. I told her I could not do the job she has chosen, and I respected what her goals and challenges are.

Waterboarding and children in school--while the media reports on the interesting and obnoxious controversy over whether it's OK for US foreign intel to torture possible anti-American antagonists, and while the definition of torture is up-for-grabs even though I think yelling at your children is a form of torture--aren't we all jerking ourselves off with these pandering news issues while the real problems of American society run downhill like water from a broken dam: arcane public school curricula, health care for everyone, bigotry and racism every day, homeless fellow citizens in the richest country in the world, forays in the middle east and elsewhere not backed by the American voter/taxpayer?

How convenient for the sponsored media to have waterboarding to distract and entertain us in order to sell soap and cereal. Waterboarding as torture is not acceptable, but instead of interrogating the appointee for US Attorney General in congress, and showing this spectacle on TV for hours, we the people should concern oursleves with the issues affecting our lives, and our children's future! Now!

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