Monday, October 30, 2006

Regarding Habeus Corpus

"So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause."
-- Padmé Amidala, Star Wars Episode III: The Return of the Sith

According to google (and other sources), the phrase "habeas corpus" is latin for "You have the body." It refers to a legal practice where a court orders a government to produce a prisoner and justify their imprisonment.

As you may have heard, the Miltary Commissions Act of 2006 defines the legal rights of "enemy combatants" and, according to some, removes the habeus corpus right from enemy combantants.

Now, I am not a lawyer and the Act itself is pretty dry reading. But one of the key things I find unnerving is the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant:"

(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT.—(A) The term 'unlawful enemy combatant' means—

(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense.

What makes me nervous is the lack of definition for the term "materially supported." If, in this blog, I question the legality of the current Administration's policies with regard to the so-called "War on Terror," am I exercising my freedom of speech or materially supporting hostilities against the United States?

I'm also very nervous about any legislation that contains these words:

[N]o court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any other action against the United States or its agents relating to any aspect of the detention, transfer, treatment, trial, or conditions of confinement of an alien who is or was detained by the United States and has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

Does the President have the power to strip away my citizenship? If so, would that make me an alien and subject to the provisions of this Act? If so, would there be any legal recourse for me?

To my mind, this is a flawed piece of legislation, one that must be repealed as quickly as possible. Not because I believe in granting rights to those who would harm us, but because I believe in protecting the rights of those who would protect us from ourselves.

Keith Olbermann, host of the MSNBC show Countdown has been exploring the implications of this new law recently.

I find the implications very scary. If you do, too, I urge you to contact your Senator and your Representative.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Random Encounters

As you may have gathered, October has been a "moving" month for me. My body hurts in ways I forgot could hurt. (You get that way when get past 30...and 40.)

I've put several pieces of furniture up for sale on craigslist. During the last few days, I've met some folks who were thinking of buying said furniture. Specifically, I've met three different personality types and, collectively, the experience made me pause.

Which, I'm sure, you're beginning to recognize, is a lead-in to a rant on my part.

First up, I met "Larry" (no, it's not the name I was given) and his wife (who's name was never actually given to me). Larry had just gone through surgery and was looking for a recliner to relax in. He (and his wife) didn't mind the fact that my previous cat had left claw marks in the upholstry. No, he was happy that it was "man-sized" chair and a place where he could rest after having gone under the knife.

My youngest will probably be very ticked when she learns I sold the chair her mother and I bought when she was two. However, it went to a good family and I am happy to have met Larry and his wife. People like that remind you why you work hard to be a good person.

Next, is Richard...who I'll call "Dick" because, well, he was. He was, supposedly, really interested in a computer desk. In hammering out the final details (after three days of email back-and-forth), he promised to arrive no later than 6:30 p.m. Close to two hours later, he rolls in. And, no, he didn't call to let me know he'd be *very* late (so I could, like, make better use of my time than hanging around an increasingly empty house).

When he did show up, he was all eye rolls and shrugs, as if it happened all the time. I was reminded of the line from Becket where Richard Burton tells Peter O'Toole that "it's inelegant to be late." I smiled through gritted teeth, shook hands, and thought about how good it would be to sell the desk.

Oh, he hemmed and hawed over the desk...and finally made an offer 20% lower than my posted asking price (which was a very fair asking price). Now, he probably had no way to know this, but I don't like to dicker. I posted a fair price for the items I wanted to sell.

I might have considered the offer, but for the way he made it. It was made with a sneer, as if saying "I know you'll accept the offer, because it's nearly the end of the month and it's obvious you need to get rid of it." In other words, it was as if he was going to squeeze the deal as hard as he could and figured I wouldn't dare let him walk out.

Now, I'm normally a relatively nice guy. There aren't many things that get my goat, but disrespect and manipulation are two things that scorch my britches. (For those keeping score, intolerance is a third.)

I declined his offer politely and pointed out that another buyer had expressed interested. Well, Dick kind of smirked (perhaps to say, "Yeah, right") and informed me that he and his wife were going to dinner and would call me afterward to "see if I'd come to my senses."

(They didn't call, by the way.) More about the desk in a few moments.

Finally, there was "Francis," a nice guy with a sense of humor and a sense of honor. He was buying a hide-a-bed couch I had downstairs. He stopped by earlier in the day, left a deposit on the couch, and promised to be back by 4:30 that afternoon.

Francis arrived about five minutes after Dick left. I wasn't as upset with his tardiness because he had called to let me know he was going to be late. A very simple act that demonstrated that he understood that a real person was waiting patiently. It was a marked contrast to Dick's thinly veiled contempt.

Now, it took some effort to squeeze the couch into the downstairs in the first place and it took at least as much effort to squeeze it out again. (I'll pass on the obligatory reference to childbirth.) We ended up taking the backdoor off the hinges and the feet off the couch before we could fold, spindle, and mutilate it outside.

And through it all, Francis lifted, pushed, and prodded as hard as I did. It took a team effort (and a two hour struggle) to get that thrice bedamned piece of furniture through the door. It's enormously frustrating to get a piece of furniture to a place where it almost, but not quite, fits.

And then, my heart nearly broke when Francis took a another look at this now grimy couch and said that while he was happy we got it outside the house, he was no longer interested in owning it. Thankfully, he reconsidered when I cut the proce in half. The damned thing is gone...and I am happy to see it move into another family's home.

Francis also bought some other stuff and I probably gave him too good a deal, but I felt bad it the couch had turned into such an ordeal. Still, it helped move some other stuff I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to put into storage.

So, three different personalities. Three different random encounters. Three different sets of peoples with different lives, outlooks, and sets of ideals. I feel better for having met Larry and Francis. It's nice to be reminded that there are other people on this planet that share at least a few of the ideals I try to live my life by.

And, it's good, I suppose, to be reminded that not everyone shares those ideals.

By the way, Dick, you deserve to know what happened to the desk you tried to take advantage of me on. I went to move it so I could vaccuum underneath it. (There were a lot of dust bunnies, after all.) Seems the silly thing decided it had had enough of this life. When I lifted, a side fell into my hands. I ended up grabbing a rubber mallet and breaking the rest apart. The various and sundy broken remains will be tossed into a transfer station tomorrow morning.

I'm kind of glad that happened, as I would rather destroy the desk than see it serve you in any way whatsoever. You seem to think you can game the universe into playing into your needs and hand. And not everyone is willing to let you take advantage of them.

My point in this post is that I got to see a very large cross-section of humanity during this experience. Yes, there are those that still try to take lunch money from others; I'm sure Dick and his wife feel secure in the "clearly superior" life choices they've made. And I compare their behavior with that of Larry and Francis, both of whom remind me that there is a world of other human individuals on this planet. Nice people, with clues and hearts.

Larry, I wish you a speedy recovery.

Francis, I wish you peace and happiness as you transition your new relationship with your children.

Dick, I wish you awareness and a clue. I hope you can learn what it means to be this life. Rather than the next. You're not God's gift to humanity and I hope you learn to recognize it before your inevitable heart attack.

So, I'm nearly out of that house. Thanks to all that helped.

It's a big world. Keep your eyes open. Make choices that make sense to your heart. Don't serve the manipulators. Don't take their money. And *don't* let them off the hook.

Fiddling Around

I don't claim to be a Photoshop expert by any means. Over the years, I've self taught myself enough to be dangerous (as in scaaarry) in the various graphics programs I use.

Even so, my darling threw down a gauntlet and invoked one of my favorite movies while doing so. I could hardly resist.

And, so, with little further ado, I present my snap of a certain garden gnome.

We didn't really speak much. I tried to draw him out, but he was a bit taciturn. Perhaps it's the Hollyweird influence. Nevertheless, I hope he enjoyed his trip through a small fantasy. After all, I could have taken him to the Travelocity set...and I can't imagine that being terribly entertaining in the long haul.

So, Tim, whoever you are, here's a shout out. Perhaps a bit obvious, but, hey...who can't use free publicity? ;-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Delays, delays...

Sorry for not posting over the past several days. I'm trying to get into the habit of daily writing. Unfortunately, this is a difficult month for me to try to pry some free time out of my schedule. Between work (deadlines galore), moving (ugh! My pained muscles have muscle pains), commuting, and juggling all the daily needs of a family, it's hard to find time to walk the dog, let alone collect my thoughts long enough to be write.

Like the weather, this should clear up soon (and, boy, am I looking forward to a bit of sleep).

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Fit on Forgiveness (Part I)

I've been thinking, recently, a lot about forgiveness. Not only for forgiveness received, but also for forgiveness granted. And, to be honest, forgiveness withheld.

I'm not going to go into great detail in this post, but my wife and I separated for seven months, primarily due to a lot of confusion over what we each wanted and because we had each made choices that the other found painful on many levels.

We've recently reconciled and I am now in the process of moving into the house she rented when she moved out. Somehow, through our individual pain, we managed to maintain a fought for and, having won, held onto most dearly.

She had a couple of really huge things to forgive me for...and I had one or two of the same. Yet, somehow, we managed to find a path toward forgiving each other for the mistakes we'd each made.

And we also found the way to accept...and love...each other as we each are...unconditionally.

And so, I find myself marvelling at the very human capacity for forgiveness.

Especially in light of other things I deal with as a parent...and an ex-husband.

Yes, I've been married before (once). And the difference between the two women who, at one time, each considered themselves my wife couldn't be more striking.

My first wife chose to have a secret affair, eventually kicked me out of the home we purchased together, and then manipulated my feelings to unfairly obtain assets, possessions, and custody of our daughter. To this day, she continues to interfere with my relationship with my daughter and tries to interfere with my parenting. Worse, she denies her actions and refuses to discuss them.

I find it difficult to forgive her for these (and other) actions. Because she refuses to acknowledge, let alone accept, personal responsibility for what she's done (and continues to do), I cannot help but be extremely wary whenever she does something that could conceivably be considered "nice." As my father used to say "Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me." (Okay, he put it a little more colorfully, but you get the point.)

When bad things happen between people, I believe it's important to review those events and to try to find closure, especially when those people need to interact on a consistent basis (e.g. as parents). By clearing the air, you get the opportunity to cleanse anything that's left over. Once cleansed, you can move forward with a clear conscience.

My ex prefers to simply sweep things under the rug and pretend nothing happened. "It's over and done with; let it go," she says. A noble statement, one that is very easy for her, especially since she's the one who did the dirty deeds. By ignoring her previous behavior, she gets away with what she did. Or so she thinks.

She also inherits a complete lack of trust and a complete lack of faith in her integrity. It frustrates her when I treat her as if she's toxic and complains that I'm being unfair.

She clearly doesn't get it. She doesn't realize that forgiveness comes from trust. She abused and violated my trust; she wants me to trust that she won't do that again...without any evidence to the contrary, without any statement of regret or remorse, and without accepting any personal responsibility for her actions.

I think my father would consider that a foolish thing to do. And, frankly, I would be hard pressed to disagree with him.

And I think that's why I was able to forgive my (second) wife, whom I adore beyond measure, in a heartbeat. And that dicotomy gave me pause for a very long time.

And I think I may finally understand why.

I've forgiven her because she spoke of her actions and apologized with meaning. She helped me understand what was going on for her. She demonstrated that she understood why my trust might be shaken and she took direct steps to address the fears involved. As a result of her actions, she demonstrated that she is a person well worth trusting and one well worth forgiving. She demonstrates these qualities in many other ways in her daily life and actions.

Yes, there comes a time when we must accept the past, learn to integrate the knowledge gained through the experience, and then move on.

But it's so much easier to do when the person who hurt us acknowledges the hurt and apologizes from a place of awareness, regret, and concern. While many things cannot be undone, some things can be made right. Broken trust can be repaired; it's not easy, but it can be done. And a meaningful and truly heartfelt apology is a significant and necessary step for doing so. It's also very healing, for both parties.

Which is something I don't believe my first wife is capable of recognizing, let alone acknowledging or (heaven forfend) acting on.

You see, my first wife seems to believe that apology is a sign of weakness. She doesn't admit error; she simply changes her mind. She doesn't lose arguments, she walks away from them without warning. And she never revisits decisions that may not have been wise or fair.

Personally, I feel that the ability to openly and honestly apologize is a sign of strength, a demonstration that you're grown-up enough to admit your flaws and take your medicine.

And what gave me pause enough to sit down long enough to write about forgiveness is, well, the fact that my wife chose to go to painful places and face whatever she needed to face in order to authentically own and deal with whatever was necessary to move forward.

My ex-wife chooses to live in a place of denial and deception (self and of others). She convinces herself and those around her that things happened when they didn't and that others are guilty for her errors of judgment. I believe, though, in the secret places of her heart, she knows precisely what's she's done. She's completely aware of the web of lies she's woven in order to be able to face herself in the mirror each day. I think, on some level, she's afraid of being found out.

Maybe this is a post about honesty. Maybe it's a wish for the same.

I have flaws. I am a work in progress. I have things to learn in this life....and I am actively trying to learn and apply those lessons.

To my (current) wife, an amazing woman of intelligence, wisdom, grace, and talent, I offer praise and thanks.

Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for seeking forgiveness. Thank you for accepting it. Thank you for taking another chance and for opening your heart and your home to me.

Thank you for working so hard to make it our home, a place for both of us. I am a very lucky man and am very proud to hear you call me your husband.

Thank you...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Happy Birthday, John

Had he lived, John Lennon would have just celebrated his 66th birthday. Thankfully, his killer was just denied parole.

I am not a huge Beatles fan and wasn't really into Lennon's music. However, I appreciated the passion in his lyrics and the hope he held that people could make the world a better place. Like many people, I feel an affinity for his Imagine. I may be wrong, but I always felt that Lennon's music was, at some level, a cry for action, a prayer that people would listen, reach out, and do something to improve the world around them.

I was 18 years old when John was shot. He was 40 years old. I am now two years older than he was when he died. It may sound strange, but that sort of gives me the willies.

In the 26 years since his death, the world has changed in some ways and stayed the same in others. While technology has clearly moved forward, I have a hard time believing that humanity has moved forward. In some ways, the political situation is less stable and less uncertain. I think part of the blame for that lies in our own focus on self-interest and our lack of interest in things that do not serve our own immediate needs.

North Korea tests a nuke, in spite of all the warnings of the civilized world, and (so far) the West chiefly struts and postures. Iran thumbs their nose at the demands of the world and continues to develop a nuclear program almost certainly devoted to military purposes...all the while subsidizing Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. And the West essentially wags its finger and clucks its tongue.

In the U.S, a member of the ruling party checks himself into rehab for alcoholism after getting caught sending naughty messages to boys just at or below the age of consent. Funny, I seem to recall that as recently as a few years ago, another politician was condemned up one side of the aisle and down the other for making a bit of a mess on a certain blue dress. (Perhaps Bill should have admitted he had sex with that woman and simply taken his medicine.) Nevertheless, I find the attempt to blame inappropriate sex on Demon Rum to be a less than convincing argument. It's offensive, frankly.

Who's today's version of Kenneth Star? Woodward's here; where's Bernstein when we need him? Why aren't we hearing more about PageGate? Oh, yeah...that's right. The foxes are guarding the henhouse.

Some months ago, a lobbyist was busted for...and plead guilty to...buying (and selling) influence from members of the government. We shake our heads in disgust, hardly surprised that our leaders are selling their influence to the highest bidder, sometimes double-crossing clients to earn even more money at the expense of the people that were screwed by the first set of clients.

We shake our heads, but we then flip the channel to spend more time following the latest adventures on Wisteria Lane, Seattle Grace, or New Caprica. We're so eager to share the lives of our fictional friends that we ignore the life that goes on around us, the changes being made to the society we live in. We find other things to do other than take the most basic interest in influencing the make-up of our government.

There are four weeks until the U.S. mid-term elections.

If you, like me, are disgusted by the effrontry, arrogance, and (frankly) impotence of our current government, I ask you take an active role in the forthcoming election. First: use your most basic right and vote. Second: Cast an informed vote. Take time to locate and then read your local voter pamphlet. Find out who is running in the races you can influence. Find out what your local paper says about the candidates. Develop an informed opinion about the initiatives on your ballot. And, above all else, take the time to exercise the most basic right of a

Please, for the love of all that's for a better tomorrow, whether you agree with my conclusions or not. After all, 300 million people can't be wrong.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What, Precisely, is RL?

In IM (instant message) parlance, RL is an acronym for "Real Life," a phrase used to denote the things that happen to you outside of some safe zone. It's hardly original to the IM scene; I've personally seen it used on BBS sites, Usenet, CompuServe (BSC, Before Steve Case), BIX, and other older online communications systems.

This blog is my attempt to make sense of my real life, a place where I intend to talk about the things I feel, think, and otherwise experience.

I don't plan to use real names for non-public figures. Nor do I plan to talk, in any way, about what I do for a living or who I work for. Things will be slightly pixelated, anonymized to protect the innocent, the guilty, and (especially) the litigious.

I don't want you looking at my posts based on my professional status. I don't want you thinking my thoughts represent any person, place, or other (quasi-)legal entity. These are my thoughts, written on my time, my equipment, and my bandwidth.

They reflect the electrical impulses in my mind and will probably be disavowed by the Secretary if caught or captured. (Cue repetitive music that somehow manages to groove anyway.)

So now you understand the first part of the blog's name. As for the second, well, I remember when TV shows would proudly announce themselves as presented "in Technicolor."

It's my life. If you have thoughts about the way I present it, please feel free to comment. I'll listen. I may not agree...and that's OK. This is supposed to be a free country. So let's agree when we can and respect each other when we can't agree.

In the mean time, thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Getting Started (v2.0)

Let's try this again.

This isn't my first attempt to add my voice to the growing phenom called the Blogosphere. TM However, it is my first attempt to find a voice that comes from something other than pain.

Some months ago, I tried to start posting. My ideas came from the depths, a place where I tried to understand what had happened in my life. I eventually killed (deleted) those posts because I didn't want my voice to be connected to that space.

I'll admit I'm still not certain how I'll use this form of expression.

I do ask for your patience while I figure out what...and say in this space.