Archive for the ‘Torture and Civil Liberties and What-Not’ Category

Robert Gibbs on FNS

Monday, February 1st, 2010

It’s clear, from this, that if I ever want to sell a big ‘ol plate of bullshit to somebody, Bagdad Bob Gibbs is my guy.

If I ever want to figure out what’s going on…he isn’t.

Hat tip to Boortz, who has quite a bit more to add:

I was sitting there in paradise watching Chris Wallace interview Obama’s doughboy Robert Gibbs. The questioning was about the decision to read the PantyBomber his Miranda rights. Chris Wallace wanted a simple answer to one question: Was President Obama notified before the decision was made – by whoever made the decision – to give Abdulmutallab his Miranda warning. Does that sound like a trick question to anyone? Either Obama knew that the CrotchBomber was going to get his Miranda rights, or Obama didn’t know.

So … here’s the transcript:

WALLACE: Minute left. Our top intelligence and homeland security officials told Congress this week that none of them were consulted beforehand on the decision to charge the Christmas Day bomber, Abdulmutallab, as a criminal defendant.

And we’ve now learned that he was read his Miranda rights on the day he was arrested, on Christmas Day, after just 50 minutes of interrogation. You said this week that it was Attorney General Holder who made that decision. Was the president informed before or after the decision was implemented?

GIBBS: Which decision?

WALLACE: The decision to charge Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant and not treat him as an enemy combatant.

GIBBS: Well, Chris, the charges didn’t happen until several days later, and everybody…

WALLACE: Well, he was read his Miranda rights. Was the decision — was the president…

GIBBS: Right.

WALLACE: … told before or after…

GIBBS: That decision was made by the Justice Department and the FBI, with experienced FBI interrogators. But understand this, Chris. Make no mistake. Abdulmutallab was interrogated and valuable intelligence was gotten as a result of that interrogation.

Wallace pressed the issue, but Gibbs just flatly refused to answer the question. Sadly, Wallace didn’t demand an answer. Perhaps Wallace was afraid that if he pushed the issue any further he would never get the President’s spokesman on the show again.

My girlfriend has a pet peeve that reads very much like one of mine: Men who say “to be honest…” This is one of the reasons, I think, that we get along well. Her logic is completely durable: If, after those three words, you’re going to start being honest — what in the hell have you been doing the rest of the time? And how long are you going to be honest? How do I know when you’re going to go back to being dishonest again?

The Terror This Time

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Wall Street Journal editors take a hard look at what’s going on, and what our leaders are prepared to do, with regard to the recently increased “terror tempo”:

This increasing terror tempo makes the Obama Administration’s reflexive impulse to treat terrorists like routine criminal suspects all the more worrisome. It immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.

Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction. We now have to hope he cooperates voluntarily.

It’s a debate between an active defense, and a passive one.

Except it isn’t being debated quite so much.

What a Wonderful Scenario

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Boortz, I believe (and I could be wrong), is not giving proper credit; I heard this described word-for-word on Mike McConnell’s show as he recounted a verbal he had with a prior caller. And he probably got it from somewhere else, too. But heck, maybe that was Boortz.

It’s a wonderful scenario because it’s completely irrelevant whether it is a likely one or not. It is constructed to showcase the inner decency, or lack thereof, of the players within it…and it has complete license to do that because it is constructed to confront an errant philosophy designed to make us good people. So to those who say it shouldn’t count because it’s improbable: Yes, maybe you’re right, but it’s all about stopping us from becoming a society of monsters, and keeping us all wonderful. So let’s put some quality thought into defining exactly what a monster is, and what a wonderful person is. You started the dialogue. I think Boortz just managed to finish it for you.

Let’s try a little scenario here. No fudging. No “buts.” This is your scenario … if you don’t want to accept it as-is, then walk away.

Scenario: Your spouse and child have been kidnapped. They’ve been buried alive in a box. They have enough air and water to last a day or so. You have someone in your custody whom you know with absolute certainty can tell you where your family members are buried. Now .. what are you going to do to get the information you need to save your spouse and child. Don’t give me this “call the police and let them deal with it” scenario. You know that the police are bound by the rules … but are you? Will you put a washcloth over this person’s face and pour water on it? No? Will you point a gun at his head and tell him that he has seconds to live if he doesn’t give up the information? No? Would you start breaking this thug[‘]s fingers – one-by-one – until he gives you the information you need? No? Are you kidding me? Well … tell you what. Why don’t you call your spouse and children into the room right now and read this to them. Tell them that if [it] was they who were buried in that box waiting to die that you wouldn’t torture someone to save their life. Tell them that this guy would walk away with every body part [intact] .. no scratches .. no broken bones. You would do nothing to frighten this man into thinking that his life is in danger. Why you wouldn’t even po[u]r water on his head. Tell your family members [they] would just have to die before you would do anything closely related to torture to the man who had the information that could save their lives. Tell them that — and then live with the look in their eyes. Tell them that — and then live with the knowledge that they know what a wuss you are.

Me? I’m just not the nice reason you are. I can’t think of a single thing I would not do to this man if it would give me the information I need to save my wife and daughter. Get out the glass rods and the bamboo shoots. I’ll need some pliers and a blow torch as well. When it’s all over, and my family is sa[f]e, I’ll let the jury decide.

The only thing that would’ve made it better, aside from maybe fewer typos, would be a reference to the “get medieval on yo’ ass” scene from Pulp Fiction (NSFW language behind that link).

History is chock full of stories about entire societies catching raging white-hot cases of Goodperson Fever and then becoming monsters as they try to become good people. Generally, they don’t become monsters as they do things to defend the innocent from the guilty; they become monsters when they put too much work into trying to impress each other with obsequious, ineffectual and/or ironic platitudes and gestures.

The early casualties, ironically enough, are Sen. Kerry’s beloved shades of “nuance.” Attention-seeking is the primary goal, and so when Big Bad Bart comes to town and the Sheriff takes that long walk down the main thoroughfare to challenge him to a gunfight — nothing about Big Bad Bart, be it large or be it small, can ever be bad. If there’s something bad about Big Bad Bart, to notice it and say it out loud, would defeat hours of prior effort at this attention-getting game…and the same goes for noticing anything good about the Sheriff. So everything about the bad guy is good, and everything about the good guy is bad. There can be no exceptions. Because every little thing that comes out of the attention-seeker’s lips about the subject, has to be something that will provide the highest level of assurance that more attention will be coming. He wants to be asked “What do you mean by that?” over and over again.

They end up flipping reality upside down like a pancake. They seek attention, and because they seek attention it becomes desirable to see some “other side” of what is plainly good, and also the “other side” of something else that is plainly evil. They become Isaiah 5:20 people.

And that’s just about where we are with this torture debate. That’s my opinion, anyway. Your mileage, so the saying goes, may vary.

“The Honeymoon is Over Starting Now”

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

So says one deranged KOSsack, by no means the only one, reacting to the news that Obama is backpedaling on releasing detainee abuse photos.

Obama Shifts on Abuse Photos
Releasing Images of Detainee Mistreatment Would Endanger U.S. Troops, President Says

President Obama says the detainee abuse photos he wants to block from release are “not particularly sensational” but would endanger U.S. troops if publicized.

A month after making public once-classified Justice Department memos detailing the Bush administration’s coercive methods of interrogation, President Obama yesterday chose secrecy over disclosure, saying he will seek to block the court-ordered release of photographs depicting the abuse of detainees held by U.S. authorities abroad.

Obama agreed less than three weeks ago not to oppose the photos’ release, but he changed his mind after viewing some of the images and hearing warnings from his generals in Iraq and in Afghanistan that such a move would endanger U.S. troops deployed there.

“The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals,” Obama said yesterday. “In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in danger.”

DaveW is honked off about it:

All Obama is doing here is endorsing the unitary executive crap that was the hallmark of Bush/Cheney. It’s ridiculous to argue that more photos will harm Americans more than demonstrating to the world that their hopes for for an America they could respect again were in vain.

I’m sure the pressure from the military was intense, but OF COURSE they don’t want any more outing of their malfeasance. That has nothing to do with American security. This looks like nothing more than caving to the worst elements in America in a clumsy attempt to make some political points — an attempt that will fail miserably. The honeymoon is over starting now.

Lots of discussion in that thread, and it’s interesting stuff. National security issues, threats against soldiers still out there, et al…suddenly, now that a President with a D after His name is arguing about such things, these make sense to the deranged leftist mind. DaveW is actually in something of a minority in saying the honeymoon is over — for now.

It’s a fascinating window into human psychology. We’ve seen before that when two tribes are fighting each other, and a third tribe enters the picture imposing a threat on those two, the two former enemies are suddenly best buddies, and ultimately meld together as one. Conversely, if two tribes are fighting and one of them bites the mat hard — Republicans, in this case — the one tribe that is left standing, splits in half and nurses a brand new fetid rotting open-wound schism.

It seems there is something in our programming that is hard-wired for the number two.

As far as the Republicans…well, that’s interesting. There is a spectrum of “death” in politics, you know. You can be kinda-sorta dead, you can be really-really dead. The “dead” where you’re like the Whig party, never comin’ back again, is way the hell out there. Political parties are like live coals, always ready to ignite again. The far more convenient kind of dead, where you’ve been placed in a position of dissent and nothing is your fault, is a lot more commonplace.

The wish that has emerged as a unifying and primary one over at the slobbering-lefty places, is that conservatives in general could be the fantastical-never-happens-really-extinct kinda dead, but that everything that goes wrong could still be their fault. This is why, although they may prevail in this election or that one, they’ll never be completely sane. This is a wish that won’t happen, anywhere in human politics, for as long as the sun rises and sets. They’d be far better off abandoning this wish. But they won’t.

Reality is not on board with it. “Can’t blame Republicans; there aren’t any” is the motto in every single city, and every single state, that is running into financial, cultural and logistical trouble. And, this year, slowly but surely, bit by bit, it is becoming the motto over the nation overall, as well. We were supposed to be so happy and full of hope when we put the lefties in charge. And all we seem to have is the shattered remains of a honeymoon, tainted and ruined from the very beginning, that is “over starting now.”

Thus ends our experiment with putting the kids in charge of things. They can’t even agree among themselves about what’s wonderful anymore, let alone come up with a workable plan — they’re ready to do their one-tribe-split-in-half thing. Now we have to spend a few years following through.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Lieberman: We’re Not Less Safe

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Sen. Joe Lieberman is defending President Obama’s administration against former Vice President Cheney’s charge that we’re less safe as a result of the new policies:

“We’re not less safe,” said Lieberman, who was one of Obama’s leading critics on national security during the presidential campaign.

“Our guard is up. In fact, I’d say that when it came to Afghanistan, obviously, this Obama administration has put more resources into the fight against terrorism than had previously been the case,” Lieberman added in an interview on MSNBC. “On balance, we remain as safe as we can possibly be in a world in which there is Islamist extremists who want to attack us.”
On Monday, Lieberman said he still disagrees with some of the president’s national security policies but made clear that he believes the new administration is determined to protect the country.
“This administration has done everything it could, even in those areas that I disagree with them,” Lieberman said.

Ugh. I hope, somewhere, there is an Obama supporter who can still call out the nonsense in this. The Obama administration is to be given credit for policies with which you disagree, Sen. Lieberman? Is that because it was wrong of you to disagree with them? Or because, as they exercise these disagreeable policies, they are to be given credit for trying because their heart is in the right place?

The closing of Guantanamo, or not-closing-of-Guantanamo, has turned into a fustercluck in every single way it possibly ever could have. The President has been on both sides of the net on this thing, back and forth, about as many times as a tennis ball. Not one single proponent of the closure has deigned to step forward and explain how it would make our country safer; the prize to be won is that someone, somewhere, nobody ever explains who exactly — is supposed to like us better. This issue stands as an eminent example of a policy which is most disagreeable. It is easy, simple and practical to explain how a thinking person might dissent from it. How, then, would that thinking person go on to utter the absurd platitude that, while I might disagree with it, I have to give ’em credit for trying? Trying to do what??

There are other policies to be discussed, perhaps some of them more representative of what Sen. Lieberman might have had in mind; but there’s really not much point involved in listing them. The point remains unchanged, that if you think policies are inclined to have an ultimate effect on things, it is patently silly to say what he said. Such an utterance only makes sense in that cloistered sub-dimension inside the beltway, that smaller subset stately pleasure dome in which criticism exists solely for the purpose of being directed at other criticism.

Just Switch Them Around, Barack

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I keep hearing that Barack Obama is this awesome and mega-wonderful President. I’ve been skeptical about that, but out of the blue I suddenly realized: Have you ever given some thought to how little it would take for that to be really true? All He really needs to do, is treat people who make money the way He treats terrorists, and treat terrorists the way He treats people who make money.

That would be cool. He’d be all, like, “Hey you terrorists, if you’re killing less than 250,000 people a year you don’t have a thing to worry about.” And then behind closed doors He’d let loose with that maniacal James-Bond-bad-guy laugh that you just know He’s got down cold, and tax the ever loving snot out of ’em. Instantly, terrorists all over the world would wonder why they ever bothered to get into this line of work in the first place. He’d call up the biggest baddest terrorist and tell him “You know, I think it’s My preference that you should quit,” and the big bad terrorist would have to resign in disgrace. Then the U.S. Government would use TARP funds to take over that terrorist organization and start calling the shots about what kind of terrorist strikes it should make, until the damn thing goes bankrupt anyway.

As far as businessmen go, He’d be counseling the rest of us, leading us, guiding us, and lecturing us like we’re a bunch of paste-eating first-graders…that the businessmen are not our enemies. You know what, we really need to just get over our anger and fear and sit down & talk to them. All you guys with your bad attitudes toward ’em, you just change your attitudes because you’re the ones messing everything up. That’s precisely what’s needed! He’d sign a bunch of executive orders saying we can’t torture them with ever-increasing corporate taxes because America is a place where that just plain never, ever, ever happens. And when it does, people get angry with us, so if we know what’s good for us we’d better just stop it.

Then He’d point out that terrorism is a leading cause of global warming and He’d lay down a bunch of timetables for the terrorists to cease and desist. Stop polluting our planet, you terrorists!

He’d be talking so tough about them, that if there was a “stock exchange” for terrorists, every time He opened His mouth the average daily index would drop by several hundred points.

What a super-ultra-mega-mega-President He would be. He’d make George Washington look like Millard Fillmore.

Do Your Homework!

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

If you aren’t hitting Rick’s blog, Brutally Honest, on a regular basis — you are doing yourself a disservice. Today’s gem points to another article where you can observe former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, uploaded to YouTube sometime last week, probably offering more genuine knowledge in the space of a few minutes than most of these overly-educated under-informed cherubs can typically grasp in the space of an entire year.

Time index 5:20: Ouch! And Yay! And…yeah, how much longer do we have to let the kiddies from the kiddie table pretend to be running things?

The torture debate is tortured. First of all, if you’re going to go by a strict reading of our treaties, then yes waterboarding probably is torture. But then again — a strict reading would say our obligations absolutely, positively, do not apply to the detainees. And furthermore, if the word “torture” is expanded to include waterboarding, then as a functional legal term it becomes useless because it’s been stretched out of shape to encompass anything that isn’t comfortable. A mandate not to torture becomes a mandate to run nothing less than a country club. You would have to prohibit shouting; accusations; then any other kind of verbal unpleasantness; then you’d have to work your way onward to any interrogation session that the subject finds boring; mattresses that aren’t comfortable; potty breaks not frequent enough; television shows that fail to be funny.

And, as Mike McConnell pointed out — these notions of “decency” have been flipped around a hundred and eighty degrees. Innocent people die horrible, preventable deaths, so guilty people can be kept comfy? Who, exactly, likes us because we allow that, by our inaction, to happen? What hearts-and-minds have been won because of this negligence?

Please point them out, young skullful-o-mush. After you’ve completed your assigned homework.

Irony, Over the Head, Under the Radar

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

I continue to be impressed by how many conservatives have rejected all thinking and live only to offend liberals.

Tweet from noted potty-mouth hardcore lefty blogger Amanda Marcotte, about 1300PDT today. If abortion is worse than torture or war, then is jerking off worse than negligent homocide?

Tweet from exactly the same twit, four hours later.

Also lost on Clueless Mandy: That babies come to be by means of sperm meeting egg, that some people are innocent and others are guilty, that unborn babies are obviously absolutely innocent by definition, that there just might be two viewpoints of “moral compasses” on the torture debate, that…aw hell, what’s the use.

Also on the torture debate: Mike McConnell was replaying a call he took from one of those “Losing Our Moral Compass” types, and it was great the way he backed the guy into this corner. Suppose a guy kidnapped your entire family and put them somewhere. Can’t remember how he phrased it…I remember comparing it to an old CSI episode where the bad guy abducted an innocent-guy and buried him underground with a limited supply of air and it was up to the good guys to find the innocent-guy before he ran out of air.

Anyway, McConnell pointed out the obvious. My way, the bad guy experiences some discomfort for awhile, your family is found, the bad guy is put under arrest, everyone else lives, all’s happy. Your way, your entire family is dead so the bad guy can enjoy complete comfort. What kind of moral compass is that, exactly?

You’ll never swing that horse’s head so far over the water that he’s forced to gulp it down, ya know. But that was pretty good. That one came pretty close. Close enough to reduce the pansy to a hyperactive spewing-out of meaningless thoughtless bromides.

Capturing the Cognitive Dissonance on Torture

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

…as concisely as I have ever seen it done — right here (TOTALFARK subscription required, and you can get one here).

Axias 2009-04-26 05:49:13 PM
Just shows you they ARE STILL LYING. Seriously, we are the USA: no farking torture.
I don’t farking care who you are, from the president to the guy who filled the water buckets. If you are a US Citizen, YOU KNEW BETTER THAN TO TORTURE. If you went ahead and ‘followed orders’, well, tuff shiat. Do your time and be happy if we don’t have you shot or hung.

And seriously, this ain’t over til some people are ‘shot or hung’. If we don’t do it ourselves, the international community is compelled to step up to bat. And when a majority of Americans are willing to back these foreign powers in doing what is right, this is gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better if we don’t clean up our own mess..

We don’t torture, seriously. And seriously, this ain’t over til some people are shot or hung, if we don’t do it ourselves, the international community is compelled to step up to bat.


Torture is not gonna happen, no matter what the guy did; but because these other guys did something I don’t like, someone is required to shoot or hang them.

People like this have a sense of justice that they think is static. But stasis requires strength of convictions and they simply don’t have it. They want, desperately, to convince all those within earshot that this is something they’ve got going on. And maybe the desperation to prove it’s there, is directly connected to the fact that it is so lacking.

With sufficient skill, I’ll bet you could have them bouncing back-and-forth like a tennis ball at Wimbledon. Can’t hurt ’em, gotta hurt ’em, can’t hurt ’em, gotta hurt ’em…

But this is serious. What about the innocent people who would be (or would’ve been) injured or killed in an attack? Should our fellow citizens even be participating in decisions about that, however indirectly, if they’re so weak and vacillating on the subject of what protections should be available to any-and-all humans, regardless of what they have or haven’t done?

Winston Churchill said something that addresses this pretty soundly: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” In this case, it’s a couple of paragraphs from the average FARKer.

Update: You know what captures it even better?

“No offense against humanity shall carry unavoidable consequences…except for this one.”

That’s it in a nutshell.

Moral reasoning is not synonymous with logic, but it does have to comply with some of the same rules. And this little nugget fails the test.

Olbermann and Hannity: Both Unmoored

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Olby and Hannity, I think, have both lost track of their respective arguments and I’m pretty sure neither one of them realizes it. Hannity has taken the rather absurd position that waterboarding is effective and something we ought to be doing — and he thinks he can take it.

Olbermann’s position is even more ridiculous: Waterboarding is stupid, ineffective, unlikely to yield results, because nobody can tolerate it, and he’s willing to bet thousands of dollars Hannity can’t.

How did our nation ever become a superpower? One guy intends to demonstrate waterboarding is unbearable by bearing it, the other guy intends to demonstrate it’s bearable by betting someone can’t bear it.

NeoCon Blonde points out that Obama’s own adviser freely states aggressive interrogations do work. Of course they do. If their effectiveness is rooted in their unbearability, and they’re supposed to be so “wrong” for us to do because they’re so unbearable…then what, exactly, is supposed to make them not-work?

The Nice-Guy-Eddy argument?

If you fucking beat this prick long enough, he’ll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don’t necessarily make it fucking so!

It’s a valid argument. Trouble is, all valid arguments aren’t necessarily correct.

I had a lefty-guy hit me with the Nice-Guy-Eddy argument about these aggressive interrogations, last night at dinner. It wasn’t the first time. But this time, I decided to respond with a parable about bringing someone from the pre-Civil-War era back to our time to check out this thing called the “automobile.” Someone skilled in engineering who would understand all of the basic concepts, but of course, someone who had never actually seen a car before.

He’d have all kinds of Nice-Guy-Eddy arguments wouldn’t he? Like…from what you’re telling me, stranger-from-future, all that metal rubbing on metal? No way! And his points would be completely valid, just as it’s valid to say someone is inclined to make up bullshit to get you to stop beating him with nickels-in-a-sock. But in both cases, there are ways to make the process just a little bit more helpfully complicated. Muck around with the body somewhat, screw with the mind somewhat, go back to the body again, mess around with the mind a little bit more…it’s a skill, just like any other.

So when you and that engineer from the 1850’s get here — do you find cars, or do you not?

I entered this reply at NeoCon Blonde’s place, which I don’t know will be approved or not…

Like so many other discussion[s] about the Obama administration’s policies, I notice this often degenerates into parallel monologues:

“It’s unlikely to work, and here are the reasons why.”

“Yeah, but it makes lots of people feel great…here are all the people who think it feels great.”

“But it isn’t likely to work.”

“But it makes people feel great.”

“But it isn’t likely to work.”

The torture debate is this situation in reverse: It makes us all feel kinda lousy to even think about doing some of these things. But if you threaten to put my balls in a vi[s]e until I tell you something, I don’t care what anyone else says. That is extremely likely to work.

The people in Olbermann’s camp illustrate their own inability to say what’s right-and-wrong, and not only that, but also their weakness in existing on this plane of reality at all. Their position is that we shouldn’t do anything too rough to save the lives of the innocent — because it just might work, and they don’t even appear to understand that this is what they’re arguing. They’re poised to declare a victory, if & when someone from the other side ‘fesses up that this thing we’re counting on the bad guys not wanting to have done to them, would indeed be an unpleasant thing, that most people wouldn’t want to have done to them. That’s the whole point.

It becomes a little bit scary when you realize their vision with regard to civilized-versus-uncivilized, is just as clouded as their perception of what-will-and-won’t-work.

A civilized society, knowing full well that the bad guy won’t be able to bear an aggressive interrogation, but by engaging it they just might learn something that will save innocent lives…because of all this…wouldn’t do it? Since when? Based on what?

A savage, brutal society would do it? And in so doing, save the lives, or at least make a decent attempt to do so? This would make it a bad one? How? Such a society would be unable to look at itself in the mirror…compared to a companion society in the same situation that would just let the clock run out, and allow the innocent civilians to meet a horrible death? How ya figger?

Best Sentence LX

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Beer SquirrelFrankJ has already won more than his share of these…nevertheless, he takes the sixtieth Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award for this entry in his “Random Thoughts” yesterday:

If torturing a terrorist could save five squirrels, I’d torture the terrorist and then kill the squirrels myself.

Damn straight, and I agree a hundred percent.

Squirrels are assholes. Rats of the woodland. Vile, vile squirrels.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Was Waterboarded 183 Times in One Month

Saturday, April 18th, 2009


On page 37 of the OLC memo, in a passage discussing the differences between SERE techniques and the torture used with detainees, the memo explains:

The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

Note, the information comes from the CIA IG report which, in the case of Abu Zubaydah, is based on having viewed the torture tapes as well as other materials. So this is presumably a number that was once backed up by video evidence.

This is beyond appalling, and it demands an immediate investigation, with some teeth. I’m talking criminal sanctions. National security is/was at stake, after all…

I demand to know why the asshole wasn’t waterboarded something like 183 times a day.

Torture and Gitmo!

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Pretty funny, but there is a serious point to be made here, which he makes at the very beginning. This word “torture”; what is that, exactly?

If it has come to mean — which I suspect is the case — “anything I wouldn’t like done if it was being done to me,” then, by an exceedingly short and dependable hop-skip-and-jump of durable logic, “We’re Too Good To Torture!” translates to “we’re too civilized to do anything to defend ourselves.” We catch ’em, we hold ’em awhile and make sure they’re comfy, then we turn ’em loose. What’s the point?

They aren’t comfy? Their prison cells are six-by-eight? Oh goodness, by our modern definition that’s torture, then. Better knock it off.

You make the simple and reasonable philosophical demand that the “We Don’t Torture!” brigade draws a line, makes a commitment about how to define these incendiary terms and then sticks to their own definition…the entire argument falls apart. Not just a little bit. Completely.

Hat tip: Blogger friend Rick.

Memo For File LXXXI

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” — Ayn Rand

When I see how politicians behave — especially last year, during the contentious elections — I see reason to believe the distinction between conservatives and liberals, is being irreversibly eroded. But then I read the news. The pattern that emerges is that there is a clear difference between conservatism and liberalism when I decide what it is that interests me about what’s going on, and the difference melts away when the politicians start making the decisions about what I’m supposed to look at.

Nadya Suleman, the octo-mom, is about to be homeless. Her own mom hasn’t been making payments on the mortgage, since last spring. That’s probably due to a combination of factors including genetic irresponsibility, and the burden of providing for a sociopath daughter who just lies around the house thinking of more ways to get pregnant.

Nadya Suleman and the eight babies she gave birth to last month could soon be homeless, according to reports from the US.

The octuplets mum, who gave birth to the babies after receiving IVF treatments, could risk being out of a home after repayments on the house she is living in have fallen into default.

People reports Ms Suleman’s mother, Angela, who owns the family home, hasn’t paid the mortgage in 10 months.

The bank filed a default notice on February 6 after Ms Suleman’s mother failed to pay the $2358 monthly repayment due since April 2008.

Now, it seems to me in a “civilized” society there would already be talks underway about when the younger Ms. Suleman is going to be sterilized. We were plenty civilized and technologically advanced to get her octupally-pregnant, weren’t we? But no. If talks are to be underway, they will be about how to keep the Sulemans in their beloved home and tell that mean old bank not to foreclose.

The arctic sea ice, we’ve lately discovered, hasn’t been shrinking like we thought. Faulty sensor. Whoops.

A glitch in satellite sensors caused scientists to underestimate the extent of Arctic sea ice by 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles), a California- size area, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said.

The error, due to a problem called “sensor drift,” began in early January and caused a slowly growing underestimation of sea ice extent until mid-February. That’s when “puzzled readers” alerted the NSIDC about data showing ice-covered areas as stretches of open ocean, the Boulder, Colorado-based group said on its Web site.

“Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality- control measures prior to archiving the data,” the center said. “Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check.”

But of course that won’t stop our liberal democrats from “acting” to “save the planet.” Together we can do this, you know.

Democratic leaders in both the Senate and House want to take action this year to stem global warming, but the imploding economy and balking Senate Republicans are likely to make that difficult.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he plans to take up the contentious climate issue by the end of the summer.

“We have to take a whack at it,” Reid told The Associated Press. He said failure to act “would be neglectful.”

Right on, Harry. Take a whack at making a planet cooler. How I’d love to see a goal associated with that: Earth mean temperature down to 68.6 degrees Fahrenheit; carbon saturation 344 ppm. You know, and I know, I’ll see nothing of the kind. The objective will be stated as, simply, “to act.” What they mean by that, is act — to get in the face of businesses and hard-working people. Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the man behind the tree.

The CEO of the Senate wants to take a look at it by the end of the summer. How convenient. Not much chance of inconvenient snowdrifts messing up your publicity tours in the last two weeks before labor day, huh Harry? Mark your calendar folks, there’ll be a lot of talk about “It’s hot lately, that’s irrefutable proof of GLOBAL WARMING.” The earth is gonna die if you don’t pay higher taxes.

But while you’re coming up with ideas, Harry, look to Massachusetts to lead the way.

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (D) will unveil his transportation plan today, which may feature what the governor himself calls a “Hummer tax.”

The measure, the Boston Globe explains, would feature “higher registration fees for gas-guzzling cars and offering discounts for those that do less harm to the environment. One industry opponent said it would be the first such fee in the nation on the state level.” Backers say “saying it would encourage people to buy smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, which are increasingly seen as key to curbing global warming.” Representative William Brownsberger, co-sponsor of a similar bill, told the Globe, “The social costs of larger vehicles include not only the additional pollution, but also higher crash risks to other vehicles.”

Guantanamo is just dandy. Obama the Holy President ordered a review to see if it’s a terrible thing that defies international law, and it isn’t. The Chosen One will be working hard, now, to come up with some more excuses to close it down.

The Pentagon has concluded that the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay meets the standards for humane treatment of detainees established in the Geneva Convention accords.

In a report for President Obama on conditions at Guantanamo, the Pentagon recommended some changes — mainly providing some of the most troublesome inmates with more group recreation and opportunities for prayer — said an administration official who read the report and spoke on condition of anonymity, citing its confidential nature.

The lengthy report was done by a top Navy official, Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, in response to Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order to close the U.S. military detention facility in Cuba within a year.

Conservatives and Liberals, Individuals and SocietyI could pile on to that list all day. But if you’re smart, you already see the common theme.

The common theme is that in each of these, the rights of the individual is set against the broader needs of society as a whole.

Conservatives favor the rights of the individual over the rights of the many, when the individual has demonstrated a readiness, willingness and ability to accept the responsibilities that go with those rights.

Liberals favor the rights of the individual over the rights of the many, when the individual is a jackass. Ironically — society has an opportunity to prove how civilized it is (and this will never be completely accomplished) by accepting the liberal’s ultimatum. So a “civilized” society willingly subordinates its social contract to the whims of uncivilized people.

This is a good definition to throw in the file folder marked “how to tell conservatives and liberals apart”; you are not likely to ever have to yank it back out again, no matter what happens. When an individual has “rights” that liberals think are worthy of triumph over society’s needs, you can safely assume this is not an individual you want to be, or want to even personally know. He’s a kiddie-diddler, a whacked-out druggie, a convicted murderer facing the death penalty, a homeowner who hasn’t been paying the mortgage, or a terrorist being held at Guantanamo.

If the individual was acting civilized, they’d be leaving it to the conservatives to defend that individual’s rights. It isn’t that they’re opposed to responsible people retaining rights that actually mean something. The truth of it is far uglier: This is a struggle that they believe to be unworthy of their time.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.


Sunday, February 1st, 2009

One Revolution AwayTime to get out the banner again.

His Holiness’ loyal followers are ticked off at Him, because He signed an executive order that appears to preserve the legitimacy of renditions, a controversial procedure in which scumbags are shipped off from countries that prohibit torture, whatever that is, to other countries that do not.

The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

You catch that last bit?

Counter-terrorism efforts are contending with an ever-diminishing inventory of “mechanisms” they can use to take “terrorists off the street.” Pre-Obama, the problem has become so incapacitating that shipping the scumbags off to other countries is now “the main remaining mechanism.”

But the big news here, is that the banner is correct. Liberals are never quite happy with the status quo. You put ’em in charge of freakin’ everything…and oh dear, we’re still not quite good people just yet. Need another revolution.

And the profound irony is that it’s all about making us decent. But to most people, including quite a few Obama voters, allowing a terrorist attack to go ahead and make a smoking crater out of an American city filled with old people, women and children, just so you can go on the next day and brag about what an exquisitely-refined set of faux-European human-rights “values” you have — doesn’t make you decent.

It makes you an asshole.

On Closing Guantanamo

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

The first item of specificity, from the administration that has become famous (in my mind if in none other) for avoiding specifics.

Guantanamo will close in a year. Sounds like a settled agenda item.

But there are problems.

Q: If Guantanamo Bay prison is closed, where will the detainees go?

A: The Bush administration negotiated for many months with countries whose nationals are still at Guantanamo, trying to get them to take in detainees.

Some governments have denied the Guantanamo prisoners are in fact their citizens, while others have been reluctant to agree to U.S. requests to imprison or monitor returnees.

Some of those being held include Chinese Muslim Uighurs who Washington says would face persecution if they returned home, together with Libyans, Uzbeks and Algerians who are also at risk.

Some could be granted asylum by other nations if their own countries refuse to take them.

Last month, Portugal’s foreign minister urged other European countries to take in Guantanamo prisoners, saying such a move could make it easier for Obama to close the prison. Switzerland has said it is open to taking in detainees.

Q: What other problems does Obama face in closing the prison?

A: There are a host of legal and practical problems, particularly concerning those who are deemed “too dangerous” to free. More than a third of the prisoners left are from Yemen and the State Department has still not been able to reach a deal with that country on either security assurances or guarantees that prisoners would be treated humanely.

The Bush administration wanted to try about 80 Guantanamo prisoners on terrorism charges and held a few dozen others it did not intend to try but believed should be kept locked up. Those facing charges include five accused Sept. 11 plotters.

Biggest problem of all, is political:

The consensus among those who have most feverishly backed The Chosen One to become our next President, is that war, along with all strains of human conflict, should have been banished to the ash heap of history. Kumbaya, peace-and-love, let’s-all-get-along.

These are tie-dyed hippies who think, when two sides are in conflict, one side or the other can unilaterally decide hostilities shall cease and the other side will follow suit. Jean-Luc Picard diplomacy. No such thing in this big loving happy universe as a genuine badass. The question that must arise, is what happens when their vision of human affairs is put to the test?

I doubt the terrorists are of the proper mindset to learn much from the peace-and-love murmurings of othes, even as their jail cells are opened. That isn’t just my opinion, the Dalai Lama has said as much:

“It is difficult to deal with terrorism through non-violence,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture here.

He termed terrorism as the worst kind of violence which is not carried by a few mad people but by those who are very brilliant and educated.

“They (terrorists) are very brilliant and educated…but a strong ill feeling is bred in them. Their minds are closed,” the Dalai Lama said.

Maybe this would be a good debate to have right now. What does a belligerent person, dedicated to the destruction of others, do when he encounters other people who treat him with mercy? I know what the fairy tales teach me about that. What does reality say?

And how many of us are truly ready to heed reality’s counsel?

Wiretapping: LEGAL

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Decided five months ago, decision made public this week. Obviously in a desperate attempt by this lame-duck President to re-make his public image so he can selfishly trample away on our Constitutional rights in the last hours of his presidency:

The New York Times reported: “A federal intelligence court, in a rare public opinion, issued a major ruling validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and intercept e-mail messages without a specific court order, even when Americans’ private communications may be involved.”
The Times noted: “In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.”

So let’s see. We have the tax cuts, Guantanamo, and now we have “illegal” wiretapping. Just off the top of my head, that’s three things “everyone” has known are bad things, on which we have to form some new policies to turn things around…and suddenly we “know” something completely different now that the time’s come to actually form the policies.

We aren’t really reviewing the legality of wiretapping. We’re reviewing human nature. This is why, until you drive off and hit the freeway on-ramp you have nary a thought in your noggin about whether you left the stove on, but as the miles zip on by, at the very least practical time for you to be contemplating such a thing — you can’t think about anything else, can you.

Oh and one more little thing: George W. Bush does suck, in some ways, just like anybody who disagrees with me on this issue or that one. You know that, don’t you? Everyone who disagrees with me about anything sucks. That’s why Bush sucks. But one by one, these other treasured, dusty arguments about why George Bush sucks so much, memorized so faithfully by many a moonbat, are…well…

…aw, screw the awkward metaphor. Just think of them as balloons and watch this video clip of the crazy doggy one more time.

Yeah. Like that. They’re tumbling. Tumbling, because the typical anti-Bush bumper-sticker slogan never had too much logically holding it up. Since Michael Moore’s propaganda drive defined what it is, it has generally been found lying at the intersection of the political ambitions of people we will never actually meet, and a hot fashion trend.

Folks, those are the two very worst reasons for carrying a thought in your hat-hanger, right there.

Thing I Know #164. Some ideas look serious, only because they’re never taken that way. The most devastating thing you can do to a dumb idea is to take it seriously.

Hat tip: Boortz.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Doing It Eric’s Way

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Eric Holder, President-Elect Obama’s Attorney General Designate, testified before the Senate, and within the article talking about it, something caught my eye:

Hmmm. It’s purely a value judgment. They don’t talk too much about that in the article because if they did, that would hurt the argument.

But I thought of something. Suppose we re-word that slightly.


Did I re-word unfairly?

Or is that maybe perhaps an apt analogy…and the United States should stop doing both things. Just sort of be the puffball-of-the-globe.

Just come out and freakin’ say so. I don’t mean to defeat people with logic here; the election’s over, my side lost. But that’s all the more reason, isn’t it.

Enough of the self-important righteous bellowing. Just continue a fairly simple thought with some old-fashioned logic. If you please.

Imagine This…

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Thomas Jefferson once said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” On this Fourth, I’m thinking about something a little bit different. Suppose somewhere there is a nation in which each citizen has the precious and inalienable right to be smart, but is wholly deprived of the right to be stupid.

Where I’m going with this, is that I strongly suspect such a nation is something that never was and never will be. For a number of reasons. Starting with, someone would have to sit in judgment of what’s smart and what’s dumb. The truth of the matter is, “smart” people haven’t done a great deal for us because what’s usually thought of as something smart, is thought of that way because it’s orthodox. It’s same-ol’ same-ol’. The car you drive, the light bulb you turn on, the cell phone into which you do your chattering, they were all invented by someone whom someone else thought was doing something abysmally stupid.

And then we have those things that really are stupid, like the mutterings of Matthew Rothschild and Chris Satullo, along with the usual gang of nitwits…M. Moore, K. Olbermann, N. Chomsky…along with the ones who just tone down the anti-USA rhetoric a little bit, because after all they’re competing for a position in which they would run it. Clinton, Kerry, Obama, Dean.

What I think is really great about this country, is that these chuckleheads are running around, advertising by their blatherings what is wonderful about it without even knowing they’re doing it.

Abu Ghraib, you say? Abu Ghraib was a bunch of rotten stuff done to rotten people by ignorant stupid Americans…who were then caught by other Americans, and tried by other Americans and sentenced by other Americans while yet other Americans observed the whole process and reported to the whole world what was going on. Moral of Abu Ghraib: Americans do stupid things just like people all the world over. And then Americans tattle on other Americans. We are not perfect, nor have we ever claimed to be. But where we can be transparent and still defend ourselves, we make ourselves visible to general audiences. Our government is split — the executive, the legislative, the judicial, none of the three beholden to any of the others.

We fall for a lot of bullshit, like that the planet is in danger and if we all just unplug our waffle irons when they’re not in use, maybe we can save it. That’s the price of free speech.

Like I said, if you want to recognize the right people have to come up with smart things, you have to recognize the companion right people to fall for stupid nonsense.

We have a lot of weapons, but it isn’t the stockpile of weapons that makes us great. It is the difference between what we have, and what we use.

When we were attacked, we flew over Afghanistan, the country from which the attack came, and out of the bellies of our airplanes dropped — food and money.

Our worst critics prefer to stay.

Our poor people are fat.

Happy Independence Day.

Update: I see Gerard is also pointing to the “worst critics prefer to stay” slogan that is mutually enjoyed by us both, along with others.

Happy Fourth!Speaking of Gerard, he’s taking apart another America-hating halfwit and his performance in this regard exceeds all expectations, even if you’re accustomed to his wonderful work. He’s pretending it’s some kind of dreary chore but I’m not buying it for a second, as the old boy seems to be enjoying himself immensely…

As is often the case in the envious world today, we encounter — in the commenter’s plaint and elsewhere at home and abroad — a mindset in which “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” This is a mindset that views anything less than some imagined perfect state as somehow failing and worthy of excoriation. It is a mindset in which, if the real world falls short of the imagined perfection, it is the real world that is ill rather than the mind of the imaginer. It is a mindset which finds nothing is impossible as long as others do the work and pay the price. It is a mindset forever doomed to disappointment; a doom in which it takes a strange, almost masochistic, pleasure.

Faced with such a deeply-rooted but deeply wrong mindset, we find ourselves eavesdropping on Macbeth as he discusses his wife’s madness with a doctor:

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.

That is a random sample, not creme de la creme. It’s all that good. Head on over.

Also, Locomotive Breath has graciously pointed to our home page as a place you should go if it’s taking awhile for the sun to set and you’re sittin’ there in your lawn chair all bored, wireless laptop in one hand, sparklers in the other, beer in the other. He also has others. I stole his pinup because he probably stole it from somewhere else (most likely here), and there’s many others along with lots of good stuff. So hit both places if you have the time.

Hitchens is Waterboarded

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Via Rottweiler, we find out Christopher Hitchens underwent waterboarding. Hitchens then decided waterboarding must be torture, because he doesn’t like it. He then seizes on an interesting argument against it:

It opens a door that cannot be closed. Once you have posed the notorious “ticking bomb” question, and once you assume that you are in the right, what will you not do? Waterboarding not getting results fast enough? The terrorist’s clock still ticking? Well, then, bring on the thumbscrews and the pincers and the electrodes and the rack.

That’s a great point, Hitch. Let’s turn it around. You aren’t willing to use thumbscrews and pincers and electrodes and rack because you don’t want to “open doors,” so you don’t waterboard either.

How bad does a looming disaster have to be, then, before you consider doing something?

Your rhetorical was good; mine was better. In fact, I have an even better one — your concern is opening the doors, who opened this one? Them, or us?

I notice something about these two words: “Torture,” and “Constitution.” These words do not seem to mean what people want me to think they mean, when they use them in my presence. By paying close attention to what’s going on as these words have popped up — and I’m not that bright about this stuff, so they’ve had to pop up a whole lot during that time, but don’t worry because they certainly have — I’ve finally figured out what’s happening here.

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me and me.

I, me, we, I, me.

“Torture” is torture when it’s something I don’t want to have done to me.

You have broken the “Constitution” when you do something I don’t think you should be doing.

Most of the people throwing around the T-word have no meaning in mind beyond the one above; most of the people throwing around the C-word have no meaning in mind beyond the one above. What is above, most of the time, is all there is. And that’s a fact.

These are children who grew up into adulthood, having never done anything they didn’t want to do. And now they’re re-defining our words for us, words that already have meaning…or are supposed to. But not to worry too much about Hitchens and the T-word; he ultimately redeemed himself by inspiring Stoaty to give it a new definition that was more to the Rottweiler’s liking, as well as my own. Torture is…

…any experience so horrible that no-one would consider trying it out simply for the purpose of writing a Vanity Fair article about what it’s like.

Targeted Wimp-Out

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
Daisy Duke Golf
I really don’t know what this picture has to do
with the subject under discussion
but it looks pretty good to me

Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, is ticked. She’s ticked at the democrats because the democrats wimped out to President Bush. Like millions of anti-war bloggers and activists, she wanted them to hold firm, not wimp out; she wanted them to hang on to the bitter end. About — wimping out to the terrorists. She wanted those limp flaccid democrats to carry the fight to President Bush, so that they could be victorious and prevail, in the battle to get him to stop carrying the fight to the terrorists, and stop trying to be victorious and stop trying to prevail. She’s upset at them for caving in to him, as he continues to not cave in to the terrorists.

She’s upset about the “wimp out” that took place in the battle to wimp out.

She wants to see more determination and resolve…in the battle to not show any determination or resolve.

She wants more spine shown in the battle to show spinelessness.

Targeted wimping-out.

This is, as I’ve commented a few times over at her blog, what is wrong with libertarianism in 2008. You use that word (capital-L) “Libertarian!” and I think — more freedom. People can do what they choose to do as long as it does not harm others. More authority at the local level and less at the federal level.

The war has badly damaged the Libertarian party. Badly. Too many loud, angry small-l libertarians are insistent on a falsehood — that capital-L Libertarianism is inherently anti-war. Well, it isn’t. Capital-L Libertarianism is about the right to defend yourself; individuals have the right to defend their homes, states have the right to defend themselves from invasion by illegal aliens if the feds aren’t up to the job, and the federal government has the authority and the responsibility to defend the nation. The small-l libertarians insist that “Libertarians” see the Libertarian movement their way, not my way; that there are no Libertarians who recognize true Libertarianism as Libertarianism.

Well, they’re wrong. This is a red-hot issue in the Libertarian movement: When we use that word on ourselves, are we calling ourselves a bunch of deranged Jimmy-Carter peaceniks? Some, like Becky, say yes; some say no.

Becky Does Not Make Sense TodayWhat is really destructive about this, is the method by which these pronouncements are made. Former President Carter’s comments and bullying implications notwithstanding, there is no verbiage in the Constitution or in any treaty, not on any legally binding hunk of paper floating around anywhere, that outlaws preemptive war. When our small-l libertarians call that “illegal,” they mean someone said “That’s just wrong! Can I get an amen here?” and a bunch of other small-l libertarians said “Hell yeah!”

Populism, in other words. The Libertarian movement has been subject to an incursion by anti-war peacenik populists. That is why they are small-l libertarians. Unlike Becky, most of these folks couldn’t give two hoots about the ideals that are really part of capital-L Libertarianism. They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about states’ rights, or the right to home-school, or ratcheting down on federal spending for social programs, or any of the other stuff; they just want to be a bunch of anti-war halfwits.

The foundation of anti-war halfwitism, however, is that if one side is engaged in a war, and it calls a halt to the war, the other side will automatically stop fighting too. That’s why we don’t want these people making important decisions about anything — they don’t understand human nature and they don’t care to understand it. They’re delusional Utopian thinkers who do all their reckoning with reality while high on airplane model glue fumes.

The foundation of this small-l libertarianism that results when classic capital-L Libertarianism mates with populism, is — words like “constitution” and “illegal” are defined by that “Can I Get An Amen Here?” process. Which, in my book, is the direct opposite of capital-L Libertarianism. This is the difference, when you get down to it, between what Ron Paul was pretending to be and what Ron Paul really is.

Their ultimate goal, of course, is to make sure our country wimps out, on everything, and everyone living within it wimps out too. All the time — except when people oppose the small-l libertarianism. Essentially, it is a political movement that insists that nobody, anywhere, at any time, is worth fighting or resisting…except the enemies of that particular political movement.

Targeted wimping-out; targeted standing-up. No real principles involved in any of this. Just a half-assed effort to put forth the appearance.

Sorry, small-l libertarians. If we have a need for a political movement like that, that’s exactly what democrats are for. One of those is enough of a headache, we don’t need two.

Update: Link submitted by Becky’s commenter Mark Wadsworth: Democrats Vow Not To Give Up Hopelessness. Good ol’ Onion.

That’s satire news, for those of you who may not be in the know.

In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Congressional Democrats announced that, despite the scandals plaguing the Republican Party and widespread calls for change in Washington, their party will remain true to its hopeless direction.

“We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. “It will take some doing, but we’re in this for the long and pointless haul.”

“We can lose this,” Reid added. “All it takes is a little lack of backbone.”

Helping to Highlight JohnJ’s Point

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

…JohnJ being one of my blogger friends trying to persuade me to go toward the light, Carol Anne, and support McCain this fall.

It’s a good thing I never said this point was entirely lacking in merit, for it certainly is not so lacking. Searching around for an editorial I saw last week in Sacramento Bee, I found it under Paul Greenberg’s name and Mr. Greenberg states a powerful case.

Nothing so well illustrates the essential asymmetry of this country’s worldwide struggle against terrorism than last week’s 5-to-4 opinion out of the U.S. Supreme Court. The enemy is fighting a war; we are litigating a plea.

Throughout the sleepy Nineties, we dealt with two – two! – earlier and incomplete attacks on the World Trade Center not as the barbaric acts of war they were, but as isolated matters for the criminal justice system to deal with when and if it could. While we slept, the enemy plotted. We paid the bloody price for our obtuseness – in thousands of innocent lives – on September 11, 2001.

Now we’re proceeding with great deliberation down the same blind alley.

How to describe this latest opinion from the high court? It’s not easy to get a handle on this decision for, against or maybe just vaguely about the exercise (or paralysis) of the president’s wartime powers. Here is how His Honor Anthony M. Kennedy – heir to the equally vacuous Sandra Day O’Connor’s swing vote on the high court – “explained” what his majority opinion means, or rather doesn’t mean: “Our opinion does not undermine the executive’s powers as commander in chief. On the contrary, the exercise of those powers is vindicated, not eroded, when confirmed by the judicial branch.”

This whole issue shouldn’t be an issue, of course. Supreme Court Justices are sworn in with an oath to defend the Constitution. Not to twist it around to make people happy, who in turn don’t even live in this country. They’re supposed to read the Constitution, look at some lesser law, and say “I don’t see any conflict here” or “yeah, that’s messed up, you’re not supposed to do that and it says so right here.”

What Kennedy is doing is ratcheting up the standard of constitutionality in such a way that it has little to nothing to do with the actual Constitution. He’s an authority doing exactly what authorities aren’t supposed to do when they wield authority: Try to use it to make himself popular.

…this is the third time in four years that the high court has left the question of how or if to try enemy combatants up in the cloudy air. What are the other branches of government, or even the lower courts, let alone our troops in the field, now to do with these detainees and future ones? The weightless burden of the court’s confused and confusing guidance on this subject might be summed up as: To be determined.

Each time the Supreme Court has ruled against this system of trying enemy combatants, lawful or unlawful, Congress and the executive – at the court’s explicit behest – have moved to meet its objections, only to be told once again that the tribunals still don’t pass constitutional muster.

In matters of civil and criminal law, you don’t want anything to happen unless all the tumblers are lined up. Outside of the military, government has a way of doing things like that naturally: Everyone has to agree something’s a go, but the lowliest mail clerk has the authority to stop it. Great way to prosecute a case. Lousy way to fight a war.

Greenberg closes by echoing John’s point, almost word-for-word:

The one thing that this latest example of law at its least vigilant does make clear is the importance of this year’s presidential election. Sen. John McCain, who knows something about war and being a prisoner thereof, says he would appoint judges who are committed to judicial restraint; he’s criticized this decision. Sen. Barack Obama has praised it. However confused and confusing this latest decision, it does clarify the decision facing the American voter this November.

It certainly does. What it actually means, I’ll leave to each reader to decide for him- or herself.

I know McCain isn’t speaking from the heart, though; I know this beyond the shadow of any doubt. His schtick is that he understands Guantanamo has to be closed down, that we need to recapture some of our global popularity by gelding ourselves in our treatment of these terrorists. He also clings to the tired old song that if we continue with our harsh interrogation techniques, it just puts the men and women serving on our behalf in danger, in case they are captured by the enemy.

The facts don’t square with this sales pitch. When John McCain was captured by the North Koreans Vietnamese, the United States was a signing party to the Geneva Conventions. That’s just a fact. The VC brutalized him at the Hanoi Hilton, and that, too, is an inconvenient fact. No getting around it.

So if anything, McCain is in a great position to know — beyond any doubt whatsoever — that a nation’s determination to behave in a “civilized” manner either by treaty or by deed, does nothing, zilch, zip, zero, nada, bubkes, as far as ensuring that nation’s troops will be subjected to kinder treatment by an enemy once they are captured.

He knows this. He knows it personally. And he’s playing up propaganda that is meaningful only to those who are too ignorant of the facts to understand what’s really going on here.

So do I think McCain’s rhetoric is right on the money about these nominees to the Supreme Court? Yeah, pretty much. Do I think a President McCain is likely to nominate better judges to the Supreme Court than a President Obama? Mmmm…maybe. There’s the slimmest of chances. Would I put a lot of money on it? No. I’d put very, very little. McCain is the very picture of a Republican nominee for President who’ll screw the conservatives over that way once he gets in.

Do I admire him for his service? Hell yes. Do I admire him for his character? Not one bit. I think he has serious issues in that department. Do I think he’s better than a democrat? Uh…maybe I would, if it weren’t for the history of Bush Pere. Or Nixon. I have my reasons to be jaded.

Am I optimistic about how things are going to turn out this year, if only the Republicans unite on this candidate, and thus reassure the candidate that we’re all with him, and consider the job of team-building to be behind him?

Hell no.

He’s the presumptive nominee. He doesn’t have the track record of sticking with principled positions on things…which means both sides will get a benefit out of him if they lean on him.

And those “moderates” are going to lean on him 24×7 all the way to election day.

Those who understand the wisdom of what Greenberg has had to say, should lean on him too. Which means, necessarily, that he can’t count on us. Not until he’s made some commitments that he hasn’t even bothered to make just yet.

Update: As Buck points out, I got my countries mixed up. It’s tough to keep straight in one’s mind all those wars the democrats started.

Know The Devil You Know

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

I suppose this weekend we should eventually get around to discussing that subject I try so hard to avoid, which is this decision we all need to make in November.

I have a lot of close friends who beat me up quite regularly over my failure to declare allegiance to Mister Straight Talk. They say our national security is in peril if Obama gets into the White House. And they’re right. They say if I engage in my silliness, e.g., writing in my own name, writing in Fred Thompson’s name, staying home, etc., I will help to make this happen. They are right about that too.

Where they’re wrong, is in offering up Sen. McCain as any sort of remedy to the situation. Not that this is news to them. You can tell they already know this would be a false argument to make, by their careful reluctance to actually make it. They don’t say this word-for-word. It sounds, to the lazy intellect, when you say “we’re up to our shoulders in crap if Obama gets in and McCain’s the only guy who can stop that from happening,” like you’re saying “if McCain gets in maybe we won’t be up to our shoulders in crap.” But those are two different things, they know those are two different things, and that’s why they put so much energy into repeating one of those two things while remaining silent on the other.

The balance of my thoughts has to do with McCain’s penchant for backstabbing, both politically and personally. It is captured well by LindaSOG:

I was somewhat struck by this:

Last January McCain said that the president was “ very badly served by both the vice president and, most of all, the secretary of defense.”

“John said some nasty things about me the other day, and then next time he saw me, ran over to me and apologized,” Cheney said in an ABC News interview in February. “Maybe he’ll apologize to Rumsfeld.”

Aw. Ran over and apologized, did he? Nothing says hypocrite and panderer quite like an apology made in private for an attack made in public. Maybe McCain will apologize to Rumsfield, or… maybe he already has. In private.

Some of McCain’s colleagues in the Senate said they believe Rumsfeld will eventually support the GOP candidate. “He will be for him in due time,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said. … Rumsfeld’s vote will be for McCain, Thune surmised, because “he cares about the country’s national security.”

Close GitmoYeah sure, McCain really really cares about the country’s national security, you can tell by his plan to close GITMO because after all, closing GITMO and bringing terrorists here into the United States prison system will do so much for the country’s national security. Sure, why not give these hardened and experienced terrorists a captive audience made up of angry, violent, hate-filled American citizens and the opportunity to recruit and train and initiate them into Jihad. It will only make us safer, right?

McCain has been remarkably consistent on the closing of Guantanamo, and other issues dealing with the upcoming gelding and defanging of the United States; embracing our new paradigm of advertised harmlessness.

Let’s just call this what it is: A religion. It’s based on mountains of faith, and on not so much as a molehill of anything else. There is no evidence — anywhere in human history! — that this will have a beneficial effect on anything. What happens to the guy who goes trolling for dates, showing off how harmless he is and how he totally respects the object(s) of his affection? He sleeps alone, of course. What happens to the father who shows his children how harmless he is? They disrespect him, disobey him, and grow up to be hoodlums. What happens when he showcases his harmlessness to his wife? He gets divorced and loses everything he owns. What happens when the justice system shows how harmless it is? Crime goes up. What happens to countries with harmless systems of national defense? They get invaded and conquered. And on the list goes…

I’ll simplify Goldwater’s wisdom for today: Harmlessness is not a virtue. Period.

What’s really flawed about this “harmlessness is virtuous if it’s advertised” religion, is that it is lacking a deity. That’s a terminal defect, you know. There needs to be an authority sitting in judgment of us in order to determine what incredibly good people we are, for having closed down Guantanamo. Step One, we close it down…Step Two, ???????? says “look what they did, they’re wonderful people”…Step Three, we get more popular, and in this way our interests are served. Good karma — but — for that to work, you need to fill in the “????????”. There’s no way around it. Now, who’s performing that adjudication? Osama bin Laden? Earth-Mother Gaea? “Most” people around the world? This is where it breaks down…none of those wash.

So over the next four and a half months, I’ll be instructed to believe, many more times, that McCain deserves my vote because it’s better to ally with The Devil You Know than with The Devil You Don’t. And that is my retort: All these people who say so, smart as they may be in other matters, simply don’t know this Devil You Know. As LindaSOG points out with amusing verbal irony, to place a premium value on our national defense is inconsistent and irreconcilable with wanting to close down Guantanamo to score some prop points with some unnamed deity.

Gee, now that I think on it some more, Obama might be the Devil I Know. McCain’s appeal to conservatism, where he has some, is that he’s a crap shoot as opposed to a sure thing. A crappy crap-shoot.

Fred Thompson Rocks — Some More

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Via MyPetJawa. The old guy still has some life left in him.

I hope someone in South Carolina is regretting their boneheaded mistake, and if they can’t recognize they made one, I don’t very much care. This is what we need:

In reading the majority opinion I am struck by the utter waste that is involved here. No, not the waste of military resources and human life, although such a result is tragically obvious. I refer to the waste of all those years these justices spent in law school studying how adherence to legal precedent is the bedrock of the rule of law, when it turns out, all they really needed was a Pew poll, a subscription to the New York Times, and the latest edition of “How to Make War for Dummies.”

God bless you, Fred. If you’re done with that stupid race for good, maybe someone else woven from your fabric will pick the banner next time around.

As Tortured As Logic Gets

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

But good enough to write up in a Sacramento Bee editorial…albeit, by custom, missing the signature of any human on top or below. See if you can spot the tortured logic. It is so in-your-face, it is impossible to state the position & summary without running into the unsolvable conundrum, each and every time.

I’ll give you a hint: The editorial pretends to make sense, by refusing to admit that some of these definitions might be open to interpretation. Simply follow their lead. Pretend there is no room for interpretation, no opportunity to interpret, no duty to do so. See where that gets you.

Editorial: End the tortured logic
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, May 4, 2008

When it comes to torturing detainees, the president can ignore or override any law or treaty. Or at least that’s what Bush administration lawyers believe, as outlined in the infamous 2002 torture memos and reiterated in a March 5 Justice Department letter.

That letter, released last week by Sen. Ron Wyden of the Senate Intelligence Committee, asserts that interrogation techniques banned under the Geneva Conventions are allowed – depending on circumstances. Gone is this country’s absolute ban on torture. In its place we have a Bush administration rule that if you have good intentions, torture is OK; if not, it’s bad.

Some standard. If the president’s intention is “to prevent a threatened terrorist attack,” torture is hunky-dory, regardless of laws and treaties.

The Justice Department letter reprises a 2006 exchange between John Yoo, who penned the torture memos when he worked in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Douglas Cassel, a Notre Dame law professor.

Cassel: “If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there’s no law that can stop him?”

Yoo: “No treaty.”

Cassel: “Also no law of Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.”

Yoo: “I think it depends on why the president thinks he can do that.”

That’s clearly stated, if not clearly thought out. Anything goes if the president approves it. There is no law beyond the whim of the president.

It is clear that Congress will have to act to restore some semblance of U.S. values. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has two amendments that would be a start. One requires all U.S. agencies, including the CIA, to follow rules of interrogation in the U.S. Army Field Manual. This forbids the use of waterboarding (controlled drowning), induced hypothermia and other techniques.

Gen. Jeff Kimmons, the senior intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, has explained why: “No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tells us that.”

Another Feinstein amendment bans outsourcing of interrogations to contractors. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved both amendments last Tuesday.

A bill by Sen. Christopher Dodd also is important. It makes clear that presidential authority to interpret the Geneva Conventions and other treaties is subject to congressional oversight and judicial review.

By passing these pieces of legislation, and overriding a sure Bush veto, Congress would be making what should not be a controversial statement: The President of the United States is subject to the law of the land.

Did you figure it out? It should have hit you like a ton of bricks by the last paragraph.

It’s exactly the same problem as the entirely unrelated issue of Net Neutrality.

The underlying premise is that there are things that are against the law, and so to make sure people follow the law, we need to pass a new law to force them to follow the laws that are already on the books outlawing things that are against the law.

If you respond to that with “well, okay then, we admit there are things left up to the interpretation of the President and that’s what we’re trying to change” — and that would at least be honest — it raises a whole new package of problems. How come the President doesn’t get to interpret laws as they apply to the Executive Branch? That’s supposed to be his job, isn’t it?

I’m pretty sure if you traveled back in time and quizzed the founding fathers about it, they’d be wondering why “congressional oversight and judicial review” are not only influential, but supremely so, upon these interpretations that take place with regard to “all U.S. agencies, including the CIA.” Those are part of the Executive Branch. In fact, I’ve got a feeling more than a few of the founders are going to wonder aloud just when Congress got in the business of interpreting anything.

People who write rules, shouldn’t be the first or the last to say what the rules are intended to mean. That’s why the United Nations flubbed things so thoroughly with Iraq; it’s why we stopped listening to them. That’s what Separation of Powers is all about.

General Kimmons’ comment is particularly disingenuous. Have you been noticing what I’ve been noticing about things that “history tells us” and that “science tells us”…things that are “settled”? They’re called that — because they are anything but. No, I don’t know that “no good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices.” I don’t know that at all; in fact, that’s Thing I Doubt #15. It’s been on the Things I Doubt list for a long time now, and since then nobody’s put so much as an ounce of energy into delivering evidence to me to make me stop doubting it. All I’ve seen is a crapload of people who want me to stop doubting it. But there’s no reason to.

I do know Khalid Shaikh Mohammed lasted much longer under waterboarding than most — just two or three minutes. I know the information we got from him, then, was by all accounts, what one could reasonably call “good intelligence.”

If there’s a grain of truth to that, I could get bad intelligence from interrogation subjects for the next ninety-nine years, and I’d still say it’s worthwhile to keep on keepin’-on.

Who hates us because of our torture practices, anywhere on the face of the globe, who’s ready to like us again if we stop? Oh, scratch that — we did stop. Okee dokee: Who thinks we’re wonderful people now, who was not yet so convinced back when the CIA was still doing this? And who still thinks we suck green eggs now, who might just come around and admire us to pieces if we pass Feinstein’s legislation?

Name just one of each.

And what kind of unbridled hubris does it take to use a high-falutin’ but entirely empty phrase like “law of the land” to describe a bunch of politicians who happen to have opinions you like?

Bush to Veto Waterboarding Bill

Monday, March 10th, 2008

So you see, he’s still good for something.

Senator Kennedy manages to get things 180 degrees bass-ackward with surgical-precision accuracy once again. Had his talent been appreciated earlier, Mary Jo might still be alive today.

“President Bush’s veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a statement Friday. “Unless Congress overrides the veto, it will go down in history as a flagrant insult to the rule of law and a serious stain on the good name of America in the eyes of the world.”

Yes by all means Ted, let’s just feed the terrorists three hot meals a day and let ’em have their naps like little kids in Kindergarten. Let’s just wait for them to tell us something out of the goodness of their hearts.

Most shameful act of his presidency…what a laugh. From what I can remember, President Bush’s approval ratings dropped like a rock after he started making nice-nice with you, you pompous blowhard.

The pattern remains unbroken: Whenever a hardcore leftist talks about the “rule of law” they’re always talking about something that hurts the country. “Rule of law” is never used to describe something that really is a rule of law…like, say, building a fence to force people to go through proper channels when they want to come here. That would have something to do with a “rule of law.”

Oh, and uh…what’s up with this “eyes of the world” stuff, huh? What’s a United States senator care about that? Does he represent the people of Massachusetts in our federal government, or does he represent a bunch of foreigners? Because, you know, if I’m not mistaken I think he took an oath that addresses that question directly.

Memo For File LVI

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

This week President Bush said something interesting about the democrats who are resisting an extension to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“I suspect they see a financial gravy train,” Bush said, referring to lawyers pursuing class-action lawsuits against telephone companies who have turned over information to the government.

One indicator that he might be right about that, is that this isn’t the first time we’ve been arguing about this electronic surveillance. The most recent big ol’ melee occurred in early 2006 when former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez went up to the hill to testify about it, at which time the Old Gray Lady summarized things in that cool, clear-headed, balanced way she has

Spying on Ordinary Americans
Published: January 18, 2006

In times of extreme fear, American leaders have sometimes scrapped civil liberties in the name of civil protection. It’s only later that the country can see that the choice was a false one and that citizens’ rights were sacrificed to carry out extreme measures that were at best useless and at worst counterproductive. There are enough examples of this in American history – the Alien and Sedition Acts and the World War II internment camps both come to mind – that the lesson should be woven into the nation’s fabric. But it’s hard to think of a more graphic example than President Bush’s secret program of spying on Americans.

I like that headline the best.

Point is, I find it strange that the civil-protection battleground has been left untrampled in this issue until the second month of 2008. That just reeks of quid pro quo, doesn’t it? Okay Mister President, we’ll help you gut the “civil liberties” of “ordinary Americans” like a big bloated fish, just pay us back by opening a hunting season for our friends the trial lawyers.

Because you know what world we democrats live in, Mister President. You know litigation is the one industry we adore. You know these are the “corporations” that, in our world, aren’t “greedy.”

But maybe I’m reading something into it. Maybe there’s a good reason why, in 2006, spying on a cell phone conversation was just-plain-wrong, don’t-do-it, If We Let This Happen The Terrorists Have Already Won — and in 2008 it has nothing to do with principle, instead it’s all about tral lawyers collecting pelts. Maybe there’s a perfectly legitimate explanation.

Or maybe not

As Congress debates giving immunity to phone companies that assisted the government in tracking terrorist communications, trial lawyers prosecuting those phone companies have poured money into the coffers of Democratic senators, representatives and causes.

Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators.

All of the trial lawyers combined only contributed $4,250 to Republicans in comparison. Those contributions were made to: Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), Rep. Tom Davis (Va.), Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.), Sen. Mel Martinez, and Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

One maxed-out lawyer donor, Matthew Bergman of Vashon, Washington, has given more than $400,000 in his name to Democrats. In the 2008 cycle alone he donated $78,300 to various campaigns.

Bergman’s law firm’s website says he also specializes in “identifying viable asbestos defendants, locating evidence and developing legal theories to hold offending companies accountable.” In 2004, his firm split a $4.3 billion payout from Halliburton with seven other law firms. $30 million of that was delivered to their firm’s asbestos victim clients.

I think it’s high time we had a serious debating or reckoning about what exactly an “Ordinary American” is. If I’m born in Pakistan to a Jordanian father and a Palestinian mother, grow up in Saudi Arabia, get recruited by Al Qaeda, work my way up in the structure to the point where Osama bin Laden trusts me to do some plotting with other terrorist officers over a cell phone which, while I’m using it in Syria, sends some signals over a network where American telecommunications interests could reveal a record of my calls to the CIA — maybe not getting sued for it — um…does that make me an “Ordinary American” even though I’ve never personally been to America?

It sounds like that should be off-topic from what the squabbling is about. But I don’t see anyone stepping up and saying that.

It seems what they want me to think, is that my civil liberties are in peril. Because Sprint (my carrier) might clue someone in on my text messages and my phone calls. If this is done, I’m told, life will become dreary and gray just like in that 1984 commercial before the girl throws the hammer into the movie screen.

That argument has one glaring problem that is terminal to it. Like all other non-stupid people, I don’t see the cell phone that way. I see it as a public venue. When I send a text message, I see it as a wad of bytes meandering toward someone who is familiar by way of a gazillion and one complete strangers who are not.

Nobody with a reputation worth defending has told me a cell phone call or a text message is equivalent to a face-to-face sitdown in a soundproof, empty room. Not one single time. And so when my sweetie and I are both working our asses off and I need to schedule a “date” by a text message, I get coy. I hint at things. I imply. I wink. And if it’s the day after and the date went extremely well, I save it until I get home. I don’t do pillow talk by way of text message.

For these reasons, I’m resistant to the people who are legitimately concerned about Verizon or Cingular releasing their records to the CIA. Yes, I do think they have something to hide. And as far as the people who are just worked up into a lather about the Government spying on their “private” conversations, I don’t think they’re “ordinary” either.

I think they lack common sense.

Because a genuinely “private” conversation doesn’t belong there.

The Second Most Important Issue III

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

From an unlikely source, a ray of hope:

Democrats and Waterboarding
The party will lose the presidential race if it defines itself as soft on terror.

I recently had occasion to discuss the Bush administration’s war on terrorism with one of the highest ranking former officials responsible for planning that war. He asked me what I thought the administration’s biggest mistake was.

I told him that it was not immediately going bipartisan following the attacks of 9/11. President Roosevelt had invited Republicans to join his cabinet as the U.S. prepared to fight the Germans and the Japanese, and President Lincoln had included political opponents in his efforts to preserve the union. Creating a united political front against an external enemy may blunt the partisan advantage expected from a successful military effort, but it helps to keep the country together at a time when partisan bickering can undercut the effort. The former Bush official agreed, regretting that the war against terrorism had become essentially a Republican project.

Now the Democrats appear to be making the same mistake as they move toward what seems to be an inevitable retaking of the White House. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates are seeking partisan advantage from what many Americans see as the Bush failures in the war against terrorism and especially its extension to Iraq and possibly, in the future, to Iran.

This pacifistic stance appeals to the left wing of the democratic electorate, which may have some influence on the outcome of democratic primaries, but which is far less likely to determine the outcome of the general election. Most Americans–Democrats, Republicans, independents or undecided–want a president who will be strong, as well as smart, on national security, and who will do everything in his or her lawful power to prevent further acts of terrorism.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, there are two issues with next year’s election that are far more important than any other, and just about everybody understands this even though few will admit outwardly that it’s true. The second most important issue is close on the heels of the first. The top spot is occupied by: Which of the candidates, from either party, will bring us the biggest pile of crispy dead terrorists? If one administration would haul in 500 terrorist carcasses a month and the other one would bring in 499, there really isn’t any other factor that would justify letting that 1 terrorist continue walking around. He could very well be responsible for some real damage. This is a pestilence that has gone unexterminated for far too long, and we need to poison, burn, and stamp out all we can. We’ve already tried ignoring them. For a good long time. It didn’t work. Now we need to kill them off.

And the second most important issue, just behind the first, is internal. It, too, is a question left too long unaddressed: What do we get when we put liberal democrats in charge of things? Do we get someone simply ignorant of history, or do we get certifiably insane people? Is their connection to reality just strained, or has it snapped altogether?

What makes the second most important issue so close in importance to the first, is this overwhelming crush of people who call themselves “moderates.” They think when you put Republicans in half the time, and donks in the other half of the time, you’ve achieved moderation. That’s true, assuming one ideology is cleanly left and the other is cleanly right, and there’s some path of decency and righteousness halfway between them. And that’s a great way to go if you subscribe to the “highest point of a mountain is the center” theory, concluding that when those two halves are forced to work together, the whole must be greater than the sum of the parts.

The problem comes in when we review facts that do, or do not, support this. The problem is that we have no reason to believe in any of the theories of “moderation” above.

What we do have reason to believe, is that the people we call liberals and leftists are wombat-rabies bollywonkers insane. And I would hope it’s obvious — when you alternate between letting sane people and insane people run things, maybe, just maybe, that’s not the right way to go.

This ties in with Derschowitz’s closing uppercut, and it’s a killer:

Perhaps political campaigns and confirmation hearings are not the appropriate fora in which to conduct subtle and difficult debates about tragic choices that a president or attorney general may face. But nor are they the appropriate settings for hypocritical public posturing by political figures who, in private, would almost certainly opt for torture if they believed it was necessary to save numerous American lives. What is needed is a recognition that government officials must strike an appropriate balance between the security of America and the rights of our enemies.

Unless the Democratic Party–and particularly their eventual candidate for president–is perceived as strong and smart on national defense and prevention of terrorism, the Bush White House may be proved to have made a clever partisan decision by refusing to make the war against terrorism a bipartisan issue. The Democrats may lose the presidency if they are seen as the party of, Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Dennis Kucinich and those senators who voted against Judge Mukasey because he refused to posture on a difficult issue relating to national security. They will win if they are seen as just as tough but a lot smarter on how to deal with real threats to our national interests.

And that’s why I see this as a ray of hope. In politics, Derschowitz’s points are all sound. But — I think I can almost guarantee that the donkey party will not, anytime soon, present themselves as “just as tough but a lot smarter on how to deal with real threats to our national interests.” Kerry tried it three years ago. Whenever it came time to address details, he waffled.

Because what Derschowitz can’t admit, or won’t, is that there is money coming in to support the donks. And that money comes from people who, for one reason or another, don’t want a War on Terror to be fought. It’s not all about votes, a lot of it has to do with sponsors.

There’s no real challenge involved in proving this to be true. Just look at the donks address the War on Terror sometime; just watch ’em. Blah blah blah Bush’s Fault War For Oil Illegal Unjust War blah blah blah…but meanwhile, the country does have a problem with international terrorism, and it doesn’t quite fill-the-bill to say we have a problem because of George W. Bush. The terrorists are out there. They pre-date the George W. Bush administration. They’ll get to us again if they can. What should we do about them? ………..SILENCE.

The donks are all too eager to pump out hatred at their political enemies. Why, if we could bottle up just a quarter of it and aim it at the terrorists, that might solve the problem right then & there. But what about the PROBLEM? What is to be DONE? All these years gone by, the donks have had nothing to say there. That’s the way people behave when they’re on the take. When they get money for doing a job, and the job is to distract. That is how people in general act when someone is giving them money under the table.

So yes, Prof. Derschowitz, if the donks start presenting a mantle of toughness — and filling in details about it better than John Kerry did, to show they’re serious about it — they might win. And if a frog had wings he might not have to bump his ass on the ground all the time. See, it won’t happen. The donks are as beholden to their donors as they are to their voters…as much as Republicans are beholden to their donors…probably even moreso. The strategy of the donks, whether the donks themselves like it or not, is to put a George Soros puppet in the White House.

And the rest of us should be very concerned about that, even if some of us want to call ourselves “moderates.” Because that would service the first-most-important issue very poorly. You could take the terrorists off the endangered-species list then.

Tortured Debate

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Alberto Gonzales has resigned from his post as U.S. Attorney General, as Charles Krauthammer and I thought he should’ve a long time ago.

This makes me think about something:

I was on a thread somewhere and I got into a bit of a dust-up with some rabid left-wingers on the torture thing. I was pointing out something no different from what I had pointed out in other places, before: I’m not completely sold on the idea that this is “wrong,” and I find it deceptive to lump “humiliation” together with the stuff that comes to mind when you use the T-word. Namely, bodily mutilations, fire and steel. I don’t see these as the same thing and I don’t think there are very many people, at all, who see them as the same thing. To pretend these are on the same footing, in any way, is fundamentally dishonest.

And in my assessment of the argument, the “Torture Is Wrong” doctrine depends completely on those two things being the same. Once you acknowledge they’re different, you realize something: This really is all about de-fanging the United States. It’s about making sure we can’t do anything to win the war, besides getting shot at. Just because a lot of “Torture Is Wrong” people aren’t after that, doesn’t mean there’s some other motive behind it. There isn’t. It’s about emboldening one side of this war, by putting the other side — us — on a short leash, and letting them do whatever they want.

Now, this argument doesn’t have much currency. In the dust-up in which I lowered myself to participating, the left-wingers expressed their horror at my different ideas so all the other left-wingers could see them doing it, and that was the end of it…in short, they argued from personal incredulity…

…but my argument doesn’t have currency outside of left-winger-land, either. People, to their credit, are generally very keen on the idea that governments are corrupt and it’s up to the people represented by those governments, to straighten them out and keep them straightened out. This is a noble goal. Of course, the immature mind is selective about this; he is more receptive to this when the party opposed to his, is the one in power. In other words, the dullard falls prey to the “My guy is okay, the other guy is messed up” mindset.

That’s where our left-wingers are coming from right now. The other guy is in power…so now, the government can do bad things. Alert Mode On. Once a “good guy” is in the White House, we can get back to worrying about confiscating guns, images of Moses in courthouses, price-gouging in the kids’ cereal market, not enough blacks on cable TV sitcoms, and are the taxpayers paying enough that Grandma can buy medicine and dog food for her dinner. And naturally, if any of these problems go unsolved — and trust me, all of them will remain essentially unchanged, no matter how much time is spent solving them — it won’t reflect poorly on that “good guy” in charge. He’ll be “trying.” It’ll be like the nineties all over again.

But for those of us who want the United States to win the war, one issue remains. I’m not sure what you can do to get information out of a “detainee,” if 1) Torture is wrong, and 2) Torture includes everything less-than-comfortable. What then? You’d have to just sit around waiting for him to feel talkative, wouldn’t you? I mean, what else is there?

Well, it turns out this was prophetic. Now that a successor will have to be nominated for Gonzo, we’re about to be dragged through the torture debate. The newspapers and the cable television and the alphabet-soup-network commentators have their own ideas — make that “idea” — about the angle on this story. As usual, the bloggers have a more interesting, enlightening, and multi-point perspective on the issue. Simply put, we have a few more questions about it.

I wish to contribute my own questions to the discussion. The question I thought of since the dust-up was:

What if we were to abolish torture, and not tell anybody?

You see, over the years I’ve noticed something about people. When they say “you shouldn’t do X” and the only answer they can provide as to why, is “because X is wrong” — they typically don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not X continues to be done or not. What they really want, is to be seen intoning to someone that X ought not be done because X is wrong. They’re performing. Style over substance. So my question is…what if we were to do exactly what they want, but only on the layer that deals with substance?

What if the world were to continue to believe we were torturing people, and meanwhile, behind the scenes, we didn’t do it? What if someone were to be completely deserving of the credit of making us stop torturing people…but not get any of the credit for stopping us? That would be like going to the golf course alone and getting a hole-in-one with nobody around to see. But if it’s about right-and-wrong, that’d be okay wouldn’t it?

Granted, this would violate the Living With Morgan Rule #1, in which, deploring false accusations, once I’m accused of something I want to be guilty of doing it. But leaving that aside. Suppose the world community is left to conclude we’re waterboarding these guys and subjecting them to the batteries-in-a-pillowcase debriefing sessions. But meanwhile, behind the scenes all we do is wait hand and foot on Ahmed and Muammar like waiters in some five-star restaurant…all day long, and then the next day we do it again. If they want to talk, we listen. If not, we serve up another banana-nut muffin and make sure there’s a good selection between grape jelly and orange marmalade.

Now, would that be okay? I mean, we wouldn’t be doing anything “wrong”; just, a lot of folks would be laboring under the misconception that we are.

I would have to expect, realistically, my plan wouldn’t get a lot of takers. It would, however, have a unifying effect on those who place more importance on reality itself, than the popular perception of that reality. Those on the “right wing” would rightfully conclude I’d be throwing in the towel on the prospect of getting any information out of these guys. They’d say, as a direct result of this, people will die. I don’t have any information that would contradict this; I don’t think anyone else does either. And those on the “left wing” who ought to be celebrating at our government somehow becoming “ethical,” would doubtless find something else that isn’t up to snuff, and start complaining about that.

Of course, for those who are concerned about image, by design the situtation would remain unchanged. I expect they’d go on and on about polls, and disapproval, and international-community this and we are seen that.

I would expect something else, though.

A lot of substance-over-image left-wingers, would hop the turnstyle. They’d start to worry more about image of what’s going on, than about what’s actually going on. I mean, that’s the part of it that would still suck…so they’d simply change what they find important.

At this point, let’s end the mental exercise. It has achieved what it was tossed out to accomplish. The torture debate has nothing to do with what is actually happening; it has to do with the public image of what is happening. It’s all about perceptions. Let me repeat: The debate is ALL about perceptions. It has butkus to do with reality.

When people say “we should not torture because it is wrong,” what they really mean is “we should not torture because it can be presented as being wrong” or “we should not torture because I can get lots of people agitated over the idea that it is wrong.”

Torture really being wrong, has nothing to do with it. That’s why nobody’s going to stick their neck out and sign on to the idea that “if we stop torturing people we will become noble.” Nobody’s saying that, and nobody will say that.

But they’ll sure as hell say the opposite. They’ll say “people despise us because we torture,” even though they’ll never say “people will start liking us if we don’t torture.”

So their argument is lacking in substance, because it isn’t about substance. It isn’t supposed to be. This is why my “solution” wouldn’t be any solution at all. It fixes the substance while leaving the image unchanged…in what is essentially a public-relations issue.

But the P.R. guys don’t have a solution either. Before we started arguing all over the world about torture, we were arguing all over the world about the invasion of Iraq. How many people do you know who have negative feelings toward the United States over this torture issue, who didn’t have negative feelings against the United States about going into Iraq before we started arguing about the torture issue? I mean, count everybody — people you know, public figures, celebrities…can you think of anyone? I can’t think of a single person.

It’s not exactly a hot news item when liberals and democrats rally around an issue that is phony. This one has captured the mainstream, what you might call the “heartland.” It’s easy to understand why, because who wants to be strapped to a waterboard? It doesn’t seem very appealing. But when you dissect this issue, it turns out, surprisingly, to be more phony than most others. The substance-angle is nonexistent, and the style-angle is ineffectual and goes nowhere. It’s just a talking point in circulation among America’s enemies — those who fight us overtly, and those who insist they’re “patriotic” but never seem to have a kind word to say about the country.

Of course it is an effective talking-point, and it is around, posing problems for us, because of our actions. But since bringing a stop to those actions — in style, as well as in substance — wouldn’t make anything any better, I’d like our senators to do a good job explaining to us why they’ll be debating it, before they do so debate it. I’d like to see them do an excellent job justifying this. I have strong doubts they’ll even perform an adequate one.

Let Rosie Talk

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

I’d like to take a minute or two to argue on behalf of Rosie O’Donnell’s free speech rights. I know that’s a little like fighting to protect the right of the sun to rise in the East, or of the Angel of Death to come along and nip us all someday…the prospect of Rosie spouting her latest snippet of foolishness, has a certain inevitability to it. She may lose this right tomorrow, and you could still set your watch by her doing it anyway.

But it isn’t enough, for me, that Rosie actually do some talking. I want to make sure she is everlastingly allowed to do so. I want her comments to be given sanction. No, more than that: visibility. I want Rosie O’Donnell on a pedestal.

In fact, my principle objection to her spot on The View, is that the forum is improper. There are three other ladies on that show, and in the clips I’ve seen, every once in awhile one of those three just might get a word in edgewise. Not fair!

I’m thinking a radio show. Every Saturday, twelve hours in a row. And a federal law that all kids in public school, from the fourth grade up to the tenth, have to ponder every Monday morning what Rosie said that weekend.

Why do I want this? Because I think people are starting to figure out, finally, what’s been happening to them. What “stars” like Rosie have been doing to them. Try this. Go to the Hot Air page about her latest embarrassments and view the first video clip. Rosie is going to introduce the latest event, with Kalid Shiekh Mohammed’s confessions to thirty-or-so failed & attempted terrorist attacks around the world…your target is, almost precisely, the halfway point.

At that halfway point, something exceedingly exceptional happens, someone besides Rosie gets to say something. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the one that I and all the other red-blooded men would actually like to sleep with, asks “Well you have– you don’t believe he had ties to any of this?” And Rosie sez

I think the man has been in custody of the American government, in secret CIA torture prisons in Guantanamo Bay, where torture is accepted and allowed, and he finally is the guy who admits to doing everything. They finally found the guy. It’s not that guy bin Laden. It’s this guy they’ve had since ‘93. And look, this is the picture they released of him. Doesn’t, he look healthy?

See what I mean? Rosie is a national treasure. She’s like a walking monument to all the idiocy there is and ever was.

So first of all — and I think people are starting to get this about people like Rosie — she didn’t answer Hasselbeck’s question. She goes off on this tangent about prison and torture, to deliberately change the subject because she knows she has to. She argues that we’ve had this fellow in our custody for a very long time, but misstates that by a decade. She’s got some kind of argument that’s built around the notion that we’ve been leaning on this greaseball really hard for a long time, but it’s not an argument sufficiently durable to actually be stated from stem-to-stern, because one gathers that if it was strong enough to bear up under that kind of weight, she woulda-done it. But then to buttress this argument that doesn’t actually lead anywhere, she shows off this picture of the greaseball. Oops. The picture was taken when we first caught ‘im. Not after we got done leaning on ‘im. Nice try.

But the money-shot is when she’s articulating the words “tooorrrtttuuuuuuurrrreee” and “seeeecccrrreeettt ppprrriiisssooonnns,” scanning around the audience with that “can I get an Amen here” look on her doughy face, and coming up mostly empty.

Hasselbeck’s question, when you think about it, is devastating. It can be scrutinized in detail, or ignored entirely — it makes a great point either way. Mohammed confessed to thirty-one nasty things, and it’s generally agreed, may have exaggerated some of them. My understanding is this fellow is given to boasting, so if Rosie seeks to instill doubt about some of these, maybe even a huge chunk of the list of 31, in my book she doesn’t have much work to do.

But Elisabeth wants to know if Mohammed is guilty of none of them. I mean, ponder this for a little bit. Mohammed is actually guilty of one item on the list…or all but one item. Between those two extremes, is there any practical difference?

I submit not. Which means what Rosie is contributing, amounts to just so much noise. What’s meaningful about this latest incident, is now we’ve got a situation where more people understand this is all Rosie is contributing.

This unflattering light, furthermore, is being scattered off in the direction of all those other people who sound just like Rosie. We, as in the “Big We,” are finally starting to get that they aren’t contributing much more than noise, either.

Now outside the political realm where perception-equals-reality, when we step into the more concrete plane of reality-is-reality and look at what’s real, we see: The situation’s unchanged. Islamic weirdo greaseballs want to kill us. We’re killing them instead — and taking them prisoner, and getting information out of them about more Islamic weirdo greaseballs who want to kill us, and how we can capture and kill them too. This is good work. Not purely good work; you can smear it if you try. And that’s exactly what these “dissenters” are trying to do. Trying like the dickens. Trying, trying, trying…and it really isn’t much help to anybody.

Mohammed himself, like Rosie, is a good representation of a broad class of people just like him. He’s guilty of some of the things on his confession list, and probably most of the things. I’m given to understand we have a lot of other folks in custody just like that. What they know, that we have not yet learned, may be of some value. So it becomes a worthy question to ask: What do we do with those folks?

The way I see it, after we consign the compulsive subject-changers and tangent-chasers to the kiddie table and deliberate like adults, we have four options.

One, we can do what I call “torture.” What it means to me. Fire and steel. When people say “we should not torture, because it compromises our esteem in the world community,” this is what they’re talking about. They may think they’re talking about Item #2, below. They’re not. They’re talking about yanking arms out of sockets, and stuff like that.

Two. We can do what the Rosie O’Dumbells call “torture.” Asking questions of people, in a way you wouldn’t want to have questions asked of you. Things that don’t involve physical damage. Waterboarding. Psy-Ops. “Your leaders have abandoned you, who do you think you’re protecting?” Sleep deprivation. Let’s face it: People in the much-vaunted “World Community” who hate us because we do these things, are “friends” we don’t need. They aren’t ready to start liking us again if/when we refrain from doing this. Who the hell do they think they’re kidding?

Three. We can go ahead and ask terrorists the way you would like to have people ask you for things. Like borrowing a cup of sugar. Kindly tell us, please, Mister Terrorist? As soon as we’re about as obnoxious as a Jehovah’s Witness on your front porch, we back off. Maybe check back in a couple months.

Four. We don’t ask them squat.

Is there a fifth option? Maybe someone else can come up with a fifth. I don’t see one. From where I sit, we are limited to those four. And the last two of those four, in my mind, are completely unacceptable. Furthermore, I don’t think anyone of sane mind would find those last two acceptable. If either of those last two appeal to you, you’re just drinking way too much anti-war kool-aid — and, yes, anti-American kool-aid — you have some kind of assurances that terrorists will never ever harm one hair on your head, or anyone in your family or circle of friends, preceived assurance, or imagined. You either believe the “there is no terrorist threat” hype, or else you are one evil narcissistic sonofabitch.

And because national security does have something to do with good relations, I think we should lop off Option One as well.

That leaves Option Two, which Rosie says she doesn’t like. But it’s the only option left. And I think most people are starting to get that. Slowly. There simply are no sane alternatives. We waterboard, and we waterboard like there’s no tomorrow.

We conclude this post with yet another Rosie O’Donnell “Moment of Zen.” Like I said, let her talk. People need to be reminded how stupid and dangerous people like Rosie really are, and what a mutually estranged and distant relationship these people have with what the rest of us call “reality.”