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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Death-Loving Hypocrisy Watch

Jack Kevorkian and Peter Singer have this thing about death. They really enjoy it, so long as the casualties don't happen too close to home. Not me, says Jack. Not mom, says Peter. Otherwise, let's get rid of the weaklings, the losers, the vast horizon of useless humans. Kevorkian's currently doing 10- to 25-years for second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland County's Waterford Township. Kevorkian called it a "mercy killing." For his part, Peter Singer celebrates the virtues of terminating unuseful humans: "Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all." These two reprobates have something in common: they're hypocrites who exempt themselves from what they advocate for others. Kevorkian of course became a household ghoul for his advocacy of sick and disabled people taking their own lives. Now he's decided he himself wants to stick around and he claims he only advocated for the "right" to commit suicide. Similarly, Singer has waxed eloquent about why old, sick, and disabled people should die when they become useless — but he opted not to have his mother put down when she was a terminal Alzheimer patient. None of this is especially surprising. After all, social engineers who know what's best for the the hoveled masses typically decline, understandably, to apply their dicta to their own lives. (Remember the USSR commies with their palatial country homes?) Singer uses his position as a Princeton professor of ethics (go figure) to argue that fetuses, deformed newborns, and elderly people with dementia should die for the "greater good." Unlike Kevorkian, he doesn't actually get his hands dirty, or bloody. Also unlike Jack, that's why his offenses are moral rather than (also) criminal. One of these days, however, Singer just might not be able to contain himself. He may find it hard to resist actually taking one of those usefless lives — kind of a trophy thing. Imagine the conversations Singer and Kevorkian could have, in adjoining cells. Hannibal Lechter? Inarticulate by comparison.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What's to Worry About a Little Child Porn?

Mark Leno is a California state legislator who spearheaded a failed effort to let sex predators caught with fewer than 100 pieces of child porn get a kinder, gentler response. Fewer than a hundred? Not a problem. What's a little child porn among friends, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. A glimpse of the world according to Mark Leno. Let's be clear. "Child porn" is not obscene photos that belong to children. No, it's images of minors (anyone under the age of 18) engaged in sexual conduct. Fewer than 100? Let's not get all bothered: that was Mark Leno's contemptuous response to those who, yes, have a problem with that. So Mark Leno goes and gets busted by an intrepid California journalist named Jill Stewart, who wrote about his "let's not get uptight about child porn" attitude. Leno wasn't pleased. Becasue the facts weren't on his side, he launched a smear campaign against Stewart claiming that she had assassinated his character. Leno righteously declared that his bill (California AB 50) "would allow possession of a single image of child pornography to be charged as a felony, whereas current law allows for only a misdemeanor, regardless of the quantity possessed." Guess what? Leno's telling the truth. Keep guessing: Leno's statement masks a fundamental lie. Originally he favored the 100-or-more threshold. Only after Stewart and other journalists went public did Leno agree to the single-image penalty. Leno's AB 50 is a weakened version of other California legislation (AB 231) to strengthen sexual predator laws. Instead of bringing that bill to a committee vote, Leno introduced AB 50, which allows the court’s discretion in sentencing various crimes, including a first offense distribution or possession of child pornography as a “wobbler.” This means that the offense can be considered either a felony or misdemeanor – not just a misdemeanor as current law requires. Great news for kids at risk. Leno also said no to legislation to designate continuous child sex abuse and attempted sex crimes to the list of crimes that automatically designated a sex offender as a sexually violent predator. This is a guy who makes no secret of his belief that child predators should not be ostracized but rather given a chance "get on their feet and get a job and to be able to move forward for themselves" so they won't reoffend. Earth calling Leno: A long term study of child molesters in Canada revealed that 42 per cent were reconvicted of sexual or violent crime during the 15-30 year follow-up period. Here's the truly crazy part. Mark Leno is the main mover behind California state legislative efforts to legalize gay marriage in California. That's a cause whose success depends on backers convincing Middle America that sexual orientation is irrelevant to parenting skills. "Hi, I'm Mark Leno, making the case for gay marriage and for trusting pedophiles to reform if the rest of us would just stop being so darned judgmental. We won't go snooping on your computers if you won't go snooping on theirs. Deal?" Would the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children choose Michael Jackson to be their spokesman?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dan Rather: "Completely Uncensored"

Today's question: How pathetic can a once-respected journalist be and expect to be taken seriously? Answer: Pretty darned pathetic. When Dan Rather asserted that the dubious documents concerning Bush's military service had been "authenticated," he went way out on a limb. When Rather continued to defend the documents, he sawed off the limb and fell to the ground. Ever since that fateful day, Dan has been waging a proud campaign against gravity. After CBS yanked him from the anchor desk, Rather declared that his new mission was to "speak truth to power." Are you embarrassed yet? Dan Rather has become interesting in much the same way that his old nemesis Richard Nixon was, during the "I am not a crook" final White House days. It took years, but Nixon came back from disgrace. Rather's comeback took — oh, ten days. Dan returns as a clown. It's not clear whether he will actually juggle, or wear a fright wig and red plastic nose when he hosts his newest TV venture: a weekly news program, "Dan Rather Reports," which will feature (cue the circus music) "hard-edged field reports, interviews and investigative pieces" that will be "completely uncensored." This according to Mark Cuban, Co-Founder of HDNet. Well, that clears things up for me. See, Dan's problem at CBS was "censorship." I think this means the people who paid his salary kept asking: Dan, do you have any spiral notebooks containing facts that might help us understand these wild political assertions you keep making? How oppressive. Rather's new patron Mr. Cuban gives a sense of his tenuous grasp on reality when he declares, with no hint of humor: "Now that he is finally released from the ratings driven and limited depth confines of broadcast television, I am excited about the impact Dan can have on the future of news." Allow me to translate. "No ratings" means Dan can keep at it, irrespective of absent viewers. Being freed to explore greater "depth" mean he's free to dig himself deep holes, and keep digging with no one telling him he has to stop. Got it? Dan Rather's studio will be a playground; he'll be sitting in a sandbox with shovel and pail. That's where Dan will shape "the future of news." The most important question is a psychological one. Is there a point at which Mr. Rather will be capable of embarrassment? On a related note, I am pleased to report that I was today asked to become Crown Prince of Liechtenstein, a position heretofore attainable exclusively on the basis of heredity. I have taken the invitation under advisement. If I decide to accept the position, I shall have a large castle with many guest chambers. Please, won't you all plan to visit?

Monday, July 10, 2006

If Gitmo Won't Come to Portland...

The head guy down at Club Gitmo — also known as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base — says he's gosh darned concerned that captives continue to plot ways to bring about their own demise. Rear Adm. Harry Harris Jr. says guards have confiscated hoarded drugs and hidden nooses in the cells housing some 450 captives with alleged links to al Qaeda and the Taliban. ''It is not possible to make a detention facility or prison suicide proof. . . . We do the best we can,'' said Harris, overall commander of detention operations here. Personally I find this altogether offensive. Specifically I mean Harris's characterization of what the prisoners are up to. How judgmental to take this sort of position concerning the obvious inention of these people to end their own lives. Why, if Gitmo were located in Oregon these detainees would find state officials altogether supportive of the right of prisoners to end their lives with — ahem — dignity. Depressed, willful, and tired of living? Step right up. Oregon permits physicians to write prescriptions for a lethal dosage of medication. True, the Oregon law says you gotta have a terminal illness. Still, there's a principle involved. You should be able to off yourself, on your own terms. Who are we to judge? Oh, sure. Critics of physician-assisted suicide say the practice is "dangerous." Potential bauses, and so forth. But look at the increases in the cost of health care. Many of these people are old and, well, not contributing much to the Gross National Product. Your health insurance premiums are going up, right? It's getting expensive to warehouse people. Look, I'm not saying we should kill 'em if they haven't asked to die. But if they're depressed and they've got disabilities that make them not convenient — what's wrong with them getting help to end the misery — not just the misery they cause healthier, useful folks but, you know, their own? Here's the key question: "Would you, if you were a cripple, want to vegetate forever?" That was the question Michael Schiavo faced. He concluded, no, he'd rather get on with the vitality of full-gear living. Thanks to his clarity, the agony is over. Reports indicate that Michael's honeymoon was splendid. Jet skiing, hikes, beaches. Great meals — none administered via feeding tube. (Kidding!) But I digress. It just seems so disrespecting of diversity to actively discourage depressed Gitmo prisoners from dying with dignity. Taking a can-do attitude toward suicide would mean fewer torture accusations, plus it would be nice to have done with the hand-wringing about what kinds of trials these people should have. Do we really need more showboating from Arlen Specter in that regard? "Abdullah, you sure got a long enough rope for the night? Need a step ladder?" "Fakhr-al-din, positive you've got enough Demerol for your body weight?" Compassion. It feels good — and it helps other people, too!