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Recalling Parenting in Times of Bush

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The news regarding the criminal charges brought against John Kiriakou, a former CIA director of counterterrorism operations, for allegedly leaking to reporters information about CIA agents involved in torturing terrorism suspects, made me recall some words I had written during the Bush years:

It is a pleasant Sunday afternoon, with my three young sons painting away: the soft sunlight falls on their sweet and eager faces, on their paint-spotted fingers; the soft sunlight splashes across a dining room table covered with a protective tablecloth of the opinion pages of The Los Angeles Times.

I look down, away from their radiant faces, and catch the T word, the one so present these past years. Paint spills on the pros and cons of Torture, as writer after writer takes a crack at this dreadful subject and spins it to his or her ideological liking.

The legal maneuverings of John Yoo, the former legal advisor to President Bush, to justify the use of torture, are worlds away from the funny figures my kids are now painting, and yet his words are literally right here, underneath their artwork.

The incongruence of this domestic Sunday scene is hard to digest. What can I say? It is the worst of times. It is the best of times. There is beauty before my eyes. There is horror out there, down there.

Standing there in typical old-school fatherly fashion (i.e. white underwear tank top, sandals and disheveled hair; a cold bottle of Pilsner Urgell in one hand and the digital camera close by ready to capture a fleeting scene), I embark on a mental trip of moral confusion: Do I pull the newspaper away, and like a masterful magician do it without anything falling out of place, without the dirty plastic cup of water and the paint brushes moving an inch? If my ten-year old looks down and catches sight of the T word, should I find a kid-friendly analogy and talk about this subject? Or should I just grab a paint brush and black out all the texts, all the countless instances of the term Torture down there?

Maybe I should have just used the Sunday comics or the sprawling Big-5 sporting goods ads for rifles and tennis shoes instead to cover the dining room table.

There you have it: Parenting in Times of Bush.