Rachel Rieger figured getting diagnosed with celiac disease and having to rid gluten from her diet meant she could no longer partake of the wheat-based communion bread that represents a key facet of her Catholic faith. "It was tough for me to cope with," said Rieger, 23. She was thrilled when her priest in Cleveland, Ohio, told her the church allows a low-gluten wafer generally considered safe for people who suffer damage to their small intestine when they eat the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
One would think this wouldn't be an issue what with transubstantiation and all. But then all that is accessible to the senses remains unchanged.
Remember Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, of "I'll throw you off the balcony" fame last January? Well, back in 2007 through 2010 he under reported wages and revenue at his restaurant where he also employed undocumented workers. He was allowed to plead guilty to one of the 20 counts he was indicted for and he's looking at up to three years of prison time.
From the article: "Before I was elected ... I was a business owner of a small restaurant in Manhattan," the Staten Island congressman told reporters after the 30-minute federal court hearing. "Even though it was a little restaurant, I made some big mistakes. "I thank God for the courage to admit when I'm wrong," Grimm said.
So full of courage. Like a chamber pot is full of courage. Grimm is an attorney and former FBI agent. He did not make some big mistakes. He's committed fraud. He also plans to stay in his seat.
We have yet to see if House Speaker Boehner or our own highly touted member of the House Republican leadership, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, have the same--correction, true--courage to force Grimm to resign or expel him from the House.
A "punishment" for forgetting a shirt on my double mileage day last Friday was that I had to wear an ugly Christmas sweater today at our office meeting. Stephanie helped me find an appropriate sweater. I thought a bow tie would compliment the sweater. Steph came through for me there, too. I practiced and practiced but tying a bow tie neatly is difficult. Looks like I'll be practicing some more.
The Inlander's attempt to have "both sides" represented in their commentary in the form of our former congressman, George Nethercutt, again has paid off in spades. Nethercutt presents a bizarro world that doesn't come close to touching reality.
First he ties together the events of Ferguson, Missouri, where a police officer was not indicted for killing a young unarmed black man, and President Obama's executive action on immigration as if they are intertwined. And he has this to day:
Young people need to be taught right from wrong, how to deal with authority figures, what it means to be law-abiding and responsible; doing so shows them someone cares about them. Racial profiling by vindictive police forces isn't the sole cause of racial division in America. My experience is that the vast majority of police officers work to assure that society is orderly and to prevent crime. Certainly there are national examples of police abusing their authority, and such abuse may be race-based. But that abuse is outweighed by overwhelmingly honorable police officers, facing tough duty and danger each day. First responders deserve our respect and our thanks.
Apparently, young people are not being taught right from wrong, how to deal with authority figures, or how to be law-abiding and responsible. And there's the answer. If only young people were obedient and subservient, we wouldn't have these problems. Oh, and most police officers don't profile people based on their race and those that do are not the cause of racial division.
Well, isn't that special? What are the causes? A long history of oppression, lynching, and Jim Crow laws? New voter ID laws? The systemic institutional discrimination? He doesn't say. Also, George Nethercutt has no clue that "my experience", as he calls it, with police officers is from the perspective of someone who benefited from white privilege all his life.
But he's not done jumping back and forth between two unrelated topics.
Nationally, Republicans are in a lather about President Obama's left turn on immigration. Constitutionally and philosophically, he clearly reversed himself with his convoluted "prosecutorial discretion" legal argument for stopping deportation of immigrants in the United States illegally. In my opinion, his executive order was unlawful.
Who knew George Nethercutt paid so much attention to alleged unlawful behavior on the part of the Executive Branch. No wonder he was screaming so loud about the illegal invasion of Iraq, use of torture, indefinite detention, and dark sites. Oh...wait. I guessed he kept that to himself or something.
Time to change subjects again.
Rather than threaten government shutdowns and cumbersome defunding of government immigration agencies, Republicans nationally should adopt the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Big Brothers-Big Sisters models of reaching out to immigrant and non-immigrant children and families, not only to give them a helping hand, but also to educate them about politics and policy.
Yes, he's referring to the Republicans who want to deport, deport, deport, as if they were interested in any demographic other that old white males.
Back to racism.
Obama, as America's first biracial president, must be careful not to show racial bias himself. Racial discussions are valuable as long as they take a critical look at all aspects of bias, not laying all blame for racial disruption on white bias.
George Nethercutt, blindly benefitting from white privilege, has no idea how much he benefits from white privilege. Sometime ago, a local state legislator, Kevin Parker, dressed up as a homeless person and noticed a remarkable difference in the way he was treated. And he was still white.
I bet George Nethercutt could take it a step further and learn a valuable lesson in racial bias if he wore the right makeup and walked through a "nice" neighborhood or drove a car up and down Division a couple of times at night. Yes, even here in bland, white bread Spokane. Then maybe he wouldn't be so concerned about a biracial president talking about the realities of race in America. It's not blaming racial disruption on white bias. It's a matter of talking about the reality of racism in America.
And George Nethercutt could use a healthy dose of reality.
As usual, I rode to work today. While unpacking I realized I forgot to bring a shirt. This is the first time I've ever done that. I've forgotten to bring a towel more than once, which I can work around. I wore my bike shoes one day when I forgot to bring shoes. But I can't be shirtless or run around in my sweaty long underwear top at the office. So I rode home and back again. It cost me a little PTO but I got to spend all that time riding my bike so it wasn't a complete waste.
Over at the New Yorker there's a great article about Army Major General Antonio Taguba who investigated the abuses at Abu Ghraib. His honest report sank his career.
Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.” ... Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld’s testimony was simply not true. “The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,” Taguba said. Rumsfeld’s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.” It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.
The Senate's Torture Report (big honkin' 500+ page PDF), otherwise known as the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency 's Detention and Interrogation Program, was released today. Well, the Executive Summary was released.
To nobody's surprise, it describes the forms of torture our country used against people. Forms of torture we imprisoned or executed people for after World War II after finding them guilty of doing the same thing. Forms of torture we condemned other countries for using. Forms of torture never dreamed up before.
“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation, and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” Mr. Cheney said in a telephone interview. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”
Cheney admits to the Bush administration's knowledge of and authorization for the use of torture. The euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques" made torture sound so much more acceptable, especially to protect ourselves from a global terrorism threat. Fear and propaganda can make you accept anything as reasonable. You can even contrive a legal justification for it even if it is discredited and withdrawn later.
In other words, nobody will be held responsible for the crimes committed in our country's name.
Doing the right thing is a hard choice. Should a former president and vice president be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned for war crimes or should our country admit to using torture and just say it's time to move on.
Yep. A hard choice.
The CIA should have no problem surviving the stern looks and finger pointing. Our country on the other hand abandoned the moral high ground years ago and has no chance of recovering it. We can express indignation at others all we want as long as we're prepared to have Guantanamo, Bagram, dark sites, water boarding, and rectal feeding thrown into our collective faces. Because now it's a shame we all share.
What a tough but fun weekend. I got to hang out and race with my brother John and catch up with my Team Double Check team mates whom I see about once a year. Saturday's race was at Marymount. The rains had thoroughly soaked the grass, which was then churned into thick mud by hundreds of bicycle tires. John did the Masters 45+ race at 9:10 and the heavens opened up for him. He didn't say so but I'm sure he was thankful for that. Racing in the rain is true cyclocross racing. The rains eased off for my Masters 55+ race at 10:00 and another large field of riders churned the ground up even more.
The upper part of the course had all the soft ground. The lower section was nice and solid. There was very little in the way of technical stuff. And there were two run ups. We dropped down to the lower section twice where we got to feel like we were going faster on firm ground. The we got to run up the hill and slog through the mud. It was hard work.
I raced again at 12:45 on the single speed. It was exhausting trying to get through the wheel-grabbing mud. It was so thick at the barriers that my bike would almost come to a complete stop when I jumped back on. So I just kept running with the bike until I hit more solid ground. One thing that helped me was the whiskey hand ups I took. The first shot didn't sit well for a half lap or so. But I was ready for it when I came around for the second shot. I'm pretty sure I finished DFL but I had a nice buzz going. And I made the local paper.
Although John's not smiling, he is having fun.
All racers looked like they shat themselves something fierce.
Tired and muddy after the single speed race.
Sundays venue was at Steilacoom Park. This course was definitely made for roadies. There was no technical stuff whatsoever. And there was no run up. They had a long climb and a fast descent with a coupe of sharp turns. The remainder was flat and featureless. John and I did the same races as before. I was tired from Saturday's efforts. About 45 seconds into the Masters 55+ I was all jacked up and coming in hot to a 180-degree turn. My front wheel slid out on the wet grass and down I went. Those who hadn't passed me yet now had a clear shot. The rest of the race was uneventful. On the bright side I did finish 14 our of 17 so no DFL there.
During the single speed race, in which I got to see all the other riders twice, even John Speare's friend Dylan who was tented right next to us. We both kept thinking we knew the other and finally got that settled when I spoke up.
John kept my spirits high with some beer hand ups. It was great to have something to look forward to because the long climb was brutal. With each lap I was spending more time standing on the pedals and trying not to hate life. But I stayed upright the entire race, rode as hard as I could, and had a good time.
John tearing it up at Steilacoom.
John doing me a solid with a beer hand up.
I always bring my A game when it comes to beer hand ups. Bryan MacDonald caught these shots of me at the top of my form.
This weekend I'm headed over to Tacoma to hang out with my brother, John, and do some cyclocross racing. I signed up for the Men's 55+ and the Single Speed on both days. After registering I clicked on the Race Predictor for all the races. I'm listed in third place for both of Saturday's races. And I'm listed 2nd and 4th for Sunday's races.
That's crazy! I don't know how USA Cycling crunches the numbers to reach these conclusions. Maybe they forgot to carry an aught or something. I wonder if doing two races each time makes a difference.
Hopefully, nobody goes to any great lengths to find out who I am before the race.
Racer 1: Hey, who's this Hank Greer guy from Spokane? Racer 2: That's him over there wearing the pink and yellow tie. Racer 1: With the matching socks? Racer 2: Yeah. Racer 1: (pause) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
No pressure on me, right? My plan is to race the 55+, complete the single speed, and have fun. Mostly have fun.