February 13, 2008

Wednesday morning

My back is improved, though not where I had hoped. I did some gentle stretching this morning and am moving around at a little better rate. At least I don't have to grab all the furniture as I make my way around the room. Sigh.


Watched the Daily Show last night. And am glad they are getting writers back. Still good, but will be much improved, I am sure. Last night, Jon did a great little bit about Huckabee's claim that he isn't the one who keeps bringing up his faith. The Huck said that on MTV and claimed that he always gets asked the "God question" but that isn't how he is framing his campaign. Jon, of course, followed that with some clips from actual Huckabee ads where he talked about his faith and, of course, the time he suggested changing the constitution to match God's laws. Or the time he said:
"There are only 10 basic laws that we need … the reason that the law is more complicated is because we try to find clever ways around those 10."

Additional reports at CBS News showed Huckabee taking his statement a step farther.

"I hope you know Jesus Christ personally…because the level to which he rules you and governs you, you need less and less of man’s law to tell you how to live and that is what our Founding Fathers understood and we must understand," he preached.
But he is tired of the God question. Right.


Jon interviewed Bill Kristol who despite being wrong about everything still gets interviewed by everyone. How does one get that kind of job? I couldn't stomach watching most of it, but caught the last exchange where Jon asked him where he was on torture. Bill said something like "I am squishy on torture. On one hand, I respect John McCain and if he says it is not right to torture, I see that point. On the other hand, we evidently got a lot of good information out of these people at Gitmo that helped stop another attack." Jon said that "sounded almost human," which of course was a bit of a joke. But I thought it sounded chilling. His discussion of McCain's objections sounded very phony anyway, and the very idea that we are asking people "so, do you support torture" is chilling enough. I sure am thankful that this administration has turned us into a nation where people debate the morality of torture. Thanks, guys.


Bullet said...

So torture to obtain info to prevent further terrorist attacks is wrong, but sticking a vacume hose into the womb to tear the limbs off an unborn child (or injecting saline into the womb to burn it alive) simply for the convenience of not having another mouth to feed is ok?

Yes, the Bush administration is evil and corrupt, but the democratic pro-choice machine is so morally minded.

Liberal logic is so delightfully ironic.

Streak said...

Yes of course those are the same moral question. Right. No difference between a woman's agonizing choice about her own body and a state sanctioned torture. Same exact moral question!

Case closed.

Bullet said...

Her own Body? Yes and the other one she's decided to kill.

The only difference is with one you can blame Bush and the other you have to look in the mirror.

I agree - blaming someone else is easier.

Obama for President.

leighton said...

Bullet, surely you have better uses for your time than preaching at people who have no use for your self-righteous blathering.


I'm puzzled too about why Jon Stewart keeps interviewing Bill Kristol. Maybe he's more popular than I realize.

Bullet said...

I'm sorry - I was mistaken in thinking that a blog like this one who spends 99% of it's content doing exactly what you accuse me of doing ("self-righteous blathering") would tolerate a little dose of reality where human treatment is concerned. I forgot that liberals tolerate only those who agree with their hypocritical condemnation of torture while excusing the "agonizing choice" of abortion.

Abortion is not only torture, it is murder. The ignorance of issuing a free pass to those who support it while on the other hand criticizing officials who allow a method of information extraction that might prevent further hostility is surely one of the most ridiculous displays of duplicity in recent history.

Someone will no doubt offer the lame liberal notion that since abortion is legal, it cannot be "murder" under the definition of the law. To that I reply that slavery was once legal as well.

leighton said...

I'm sorry - I was mistaken in thinking that a blog like this one [...] would tolerate a little dose of wingnut lunacy where human treatment is concerned.

It's okay, happens to the best of us. Thanks for stopping by.

Streak said...

yeah, thanks for the contributions. And assuming that you know anything about us.

Streak said...

And I should let this go, but it is my blog. Bullet, say you are right about abortion (let's assume for argument's sake), how in the hell does that make torture moral?

Bullet said...

Yes, feel free to quote me while changing the words to mean something totally different.

You liberals have been the pros at that since the 60's.

The rest of the population won't be taking you seriously until you realize that information extraction is nothing compared to baby killing.


If abortion is wrong and torture is wrong, then which is worse? Obviously we have to look at the context. People get hurt and die everyday for different reasons. Our extracting information from people who were dancing happily while thousands of our citizens were being crushed, suffocated, burned, etc... lose their rights to be treated like the rest of us. We typically do not go to such extremes but on 9/11 we realized that the stakes had been raised. If waterboarding saved even one more American life, then so be it. It is not death and these animals forfeited their right to be treated decently when they made it their aim to see us all dead. Call it what you want, if it works then who are you to say we shouldn't do it? We go to plenty of other extremes to punish those who seek to inflict harm on us.

Don't want to be water-boarded - then don't conspire to fly planes into American buildings. It's that simple. The libs want everything to be nice and tidy. No war, no weapons, no defense, no measure of effort to make our enemies know that we don't take kindly to our buildings falling down with our citizens in them.

Most professional athletes are subjected to more pain than a waterboarding session. It's kinda like the guy with a gun who points it a the police. He will get shot and not becasue the police are mean right-wing nut jobs, it's because there are consequences for bad/stupid behavior and one of the consequences of being a terrorist is not getting to pick and choose how we find our what else you may be planning to do.

Streak said...

Yes, feel free to quote me while changing the words to mean something totally different.

You liberals have been the pros at that since the 60's.

I should have followed Leighton's lead. You clearly are not interested in a dialogue.

Bullet said...

True. When it concerns moral issues that trump their ability to gripe about how we handle those who want all of us dead, then most liberals want no part of a discussion either.

Streak said...

Look, moron, you are pissing me off. Yes, you are right, many of us here are liberal (though not all), but that is my prerogative. You want a blog where all you do is bash liberals, that is your choice. Go for it. But when you come here, you might, just might act decent as you are in our place. But you haven't. You have acted like an ass from the first moment.

Well, my patience is growing thin. You want to actually dialogue (yeah, idiot, we do actually talk about ideas and sometimes even with conservatives--real ones, not asshats), then behave a little and we will talk about the morality of torture, abortion, whatever.

Otherwise, GET LOST. And if you keep popping in with such brilliant statements such as your last few, I will start deleting your comments. You will read that as a liberal censoring a conservative. But that would be a stupid and moronic thing to say--which you would realize if you actually read this blog instead of just acting the troll.

Bullet said...

My point is simply that according to the general scope of human decency and conduct, abortion is wrong. It includes the torture and death of a human. There is pain involved and it often merely happens for convenience. It's much more egregious than waterboarding and for someone to rant about how bad waterboarding is while promoting candidates that support the cruel process that is abortion seems a tad hypocritical.

Streak said...

Ok, that is a reasonable comment. thanks.

I disagree, but understand your point. I don't think that one proves the other, however, and that has been my point. I know a great many people of faith, of good character, and of good intention who are on both sides of the abortion debate. Many of them comment regularly here. We are not of one mind on this or many other issues.

But historically, the people who have defended torture have been the tyrants and the secret police. The Soviet Union's KGB, or the Shah of Iran's Savak (secret police), or even the Nazis. Historically, people of good will, faith and intention have not agreed to disagree about torture. That is just one difference.

But if you want to connect the two, let me suggest something. You object to abortion because you see one person putting their own convenience or needs above another and justifying their action on those grounds. Conservatives often like to berate people like me as "moral relativists" who decide that something is moral or immoral based on the situation. Yet, this is exactly what the torture apologists are doing. Part of our justification for going into Iraq was to stop Saddam's torture machine. Abu Ghraib, after all, was famous under his regime as a prison of horrors. Yet, when we do it to people (maybe actually people wanting to hurt us, maybe not) it is ok because we are doing it.

If that isn't moral relativism, then what is?

Bullet said...

It is not moral relativism at all. There are times to do what we are doing at Gitmo. Forget what the Nazis did. Forget what Sadaam did. We must judge each item on it's own merit. Hitler waged a heinous campaign of ethnic cleansing. He did so based specifically on race. That, regardless of Sadaam or anyone else was wrong. So let's look at Sadaam - he did much the same thing. Raping women and girls, torturing those simply because they didn't support his regime, killing the kurds (men, women, children, elderly) out of spite. Those events stand alone as despicable examples of a man posessed. A cruel despot bent on complete domination - anyone who resisted was imprisoned, tortured, and often killed.

So let's look at what is going on with the U.S. and it's treatment of those who conspired to kill several thousand of our civilians (men, women and children) simply out of hatred. They are still conspiring future events and will no doubt attempt more as their resources and man-power allow. They have no qualms sending bomb-laden men, women, boys and girls, even the mentally challenged to wreak further havoc on the "infidels." So if they refuse to talk and we have to take things a little further to get ANY info from them then it's totally different than Sadaam or Hitler.

When it comes to our dead citizens, then we make the rules and if it needs to get a bit extreme, then so be it. Hate us, bad-mouth us, move away, beat us in soccer, don't buy from us, whatever - we'll leave you alone. But start killing us and we will waterboard if we need to.

We cater to the terrorists at Gitmo like no one else. Most of them (aside from not having their freedom) have it better there than they did back home. 3 meals a day, excercise, TV, free copies of the Koran to read - do you think Hitler afforded the Jews those luxuries? Do you think Sadaam did to his political prisoners? We are not animals who are out to eliminate a people group or those who simply voice their disagreement with out policies (we do enough of that ourselves) but we are responsible for doing whatever it takes to protect our country and it's citizens. If that includes a little physical punishment as a way of extracting info then let's start yesterday.

Streak said...

There are times to do what we are doing at Gitmo. Forget what the Nazis did. Forget what Sadaam did. We must judge each item on it's own merit.

I would suggest respectfully that this is exactly moral relativism. It is right because when we do it, it is for a good cause.

I am sure that you are right that Saddam did much of what he did because he was a sick twisted individual. But he might have also tortured some people because he thought that was the best way to protect his country from attack. I am sure the Japanese who waterboarded during WWII thought they were doing it for their homeland. That didn't stop us from trying them for war crimes and executing them after their conviction.

There are actually three major objections to torture. 1) it is barbaric, immoral and a violation of international law. Saying that it is for a good cause, while being explicitly relativistic, in no way cancels the first part. It is still illegal, immoral, and a violation of international law.

2) it is based in false assumptions, much like 24's ticking time bomb. You, for example, assume that everyone who has been tortured is a terrorist. I don't assume that. I know that many of the people who have ended up in our custody ended up there, not because our people arrested them with knowledge, but because they were turned over to us by people in country. Some perhaps for terrorism. Others for ethnic rivalries. And some of the people we captured were in the wrong place at the wrong time. (And if you think that there is no sadism involved in some of our own people, I think you are wrong.)

3) It doesn't work. Most experts in interrogation admit that torture is a very unreliable method for getting good intel. You will get something. But you won't know if it is good. KSM, one of those tortured by our CIA admitted to practically everything over the last 20 years. I would not be surprised if he would have taken credit for the Kennedy assassination.

And we can add a 4th, that for every time we torture, we create more terrorists who grow to hate us.

3 meals a day, excercise, TV, free copies of the Koran to read - do you think Hitler afforded the Jews those luxuries? Do you think Sadaam did to his political prisoners?

This is the most relativistic of your arguments. We are more moral, because we are more moral than Hitler? Seriously?

We have said many times on this blog that the issue about this conflict is not who they are. It is about who we are. When we base our moral stances on suicide bombers and terrorists, we have lost our moral standing. And that is where we are.

Bullet said...

Everyone is a moral relativist. Everyone. If you had a loved one in the car who was dying and you approached a red light and noticed no one else was near the intersection, wouldn't you run the light. We make choices all the time that are based upon what the need of the moment calls for. Would you give a child drugs? Yes you would... if the doctor prescribed them for the kids illness.

The idea that we can all do everything the same or have the same set of do's and don'ts for all situations is a ridiculous notion that can never ever be carried out for any length of time by anyone. I typically don't harm animals, but if one bites my wife it may get my foot across it's head. This reality is how we handle things like dealing with terrorists. It ain't cut and dried like baking cookies or mowing the lawn.

1) Barbaric? What about prison? What about the criminal who's in solitary for 23 hours a day for the rest of his life? Is that a "nice" thing to do to someone? Not typically, but in the case of the lunatic murderer, it's the best they'll get based on their inclinations if otherwise allowed to go free.

2) Hell no we don't know for sure that everyone's a terrorist. We don't KNOW that everyone behind bars is a criminal. That doesn't keep us from locking someone up whose been, according to our justice system, convicted of a crime. Terrorists who have connections with others of the same ilk should be treated cautiously at first until we decide that they pose no threat. I doubt we just go around saying, "Hey, he's wearing a turban, let's water-board 'em."

3) If it don't work - then don't do it. But don't say we can't do it even if it does work, because it's not nice. That kind of "nice" will lend itself to more attacks by the people we're being "nice" to.

4) In case you didn't notice 9/11 happened long before the water-boarding issue arose. They want us dead and the main way to keep that from happening isn't to be "nice." It's to show them that we can inflict much more than they can, and we will if they push us too far.

Streak said...

Ok. I guess you are shifting your argument. Now you are saying that you are a moral relativist and that is fine.

Fine. But then where do you get your moral justification to condemn Jordan when they torture? Or Syria? What if they do it to stop people who are undermining their country?

Would you give a child drugs? Yes you would... if the doctor prescribed them for the kids illness.

Frankly, that is the dumbest argument I have ever seen. Yes, I am sure you are right. Giving a child antibiotics is the same as giving them crack?

Oh wait, we might have a runner up:

2) Hell no we don't know for sure that everyone's a terrorist. We don't KNOW that everyone behind bars is a criminal. That doesn't keep us from locking someone up whose been,

Yes, there is doubt associated with our criminal justice system, but at least there are processes and appeals. You are fine with some CIA contractor strapping electrodes on someone to see what they might know.

3) If it don't work - then don't do it. But don't say we can't do it even if it does work, because it's not nice.

So ethics and morals are just niceties? You are fine to raise them with your arguments about abortion, but when it is about state-sanctioned torture, all of a sudden, if it works is a justification. Let me ask. If it worked to behead them, would that be fine? How about vivisection?

I am tired and cranky tonight. But arguing with people who defend torture makes me even more cranky. It isn't moral, period. Your defense puts you in shady company.

And I really wonder if you wouldn't be more comfortable at one of the right wing blogs where they joke about "nuking the arabs." If you want to defend torture, be my guest. Just do it elsewhere.

Bullet said...

You've finally started to reveal part of the problem (probably without even realizing it).

Being a moral relativist is typically not a problem (unless you make it mean that rape or child molestation can somehow be justified in certain cases). The typical label "moral relativist" is thrown around implying that someone just decides on a whim of personal preference what they will or won't do depending on their mood for the day. Lying, stealing, cheating... it's all depends on what benefits me at this current moment. That type of behavior is rightly seen as hypocritical and rather shady with regards to character.

On the other hand, using the term to describe how legal entities modify and/or update how they treat, question, confine those suspected of criminal activity and then punish those convicted is a far cry from the aforementioned label. We do what works best to get the results we want. We are not allowed to hold without cause. We are not allowed to punish without conviction. The problem is that this isn't always easy to determine. We have a large group of people at Gitmo who are suspected of involvement and/or participation in terrorist activities against the U.S. I'll wager that the military intel gave pretty significant indications that this group were indeed of that variety. Our country had just seen several thousand of it's citizens killed and it's infrastructure undermined. You don't sit around and think about how to be nice to a group of hate-filled wackos in that situation. You gather as much intel as you can and start a variety of counter-measures to reduce the imminent threat and continue those steps to make sure things are better in the long run as well.

Jordan and Syria? Well what are the specific instances you are taking about? Those countries kill child molesters and rapists. I'm not sure I disagree with that. If you're talking about their persecution of Christians, then you're getting into a whole different set of issues. I, as a Christian, feel that the persecution of my brothers and sisters is wrong, but that will not be solved here. Jesus said the World will hate us. It's expected and will only be ended when He returns. I can encourage my government to put pressure on those countires if they are holding other believers, but I can't demand anything more than that. Often, as in Darfur, many countries attempt to form a coallition against the oppressive regimes and often used collective military power to intervene and that's fine. If a tyrant (Sadaam, Hitler) is perpetuating terror, a single country may feel the need to intervene if that tyrant is moving towards hostility against them.

Your response to the child/drug thing further shows your inability to see real issues of discretion. Obviously crack is illegal for anyone. Morphine isn't. Coedine isn't. Even medical marijuana is ok for some people, but not others. I guess all those make us moral relativists.

The appeals process is afforded to our citizens. Terrorists coming here in masse to kill us can be handeled according to military procedure. We don't try military enemies down at the local courthouse in case you weren't aware. If you associate with terrorists and applaud their aggression, then be prepared, if we catch you, to be subjected to some rather unpleasant tecniques to get to the bottom of what you know. Don't like it - too bad. Leave us the hell alone.

As for abortion, yes ethics are important. The vast majority are endured by single women who don't want another child to "Cramp their style." Being stupid and getting pregnant out of wedlock isn't an ethical reason to kill your child. With adoption and the other vast array of options to help those less fortunate, opting for the death of your baby is just wrong on so many levels (and not being embarrassed or humiliated because you're pregnant but not married isn't a good reason to do it).

Guilt by association is a logical fallacy - please refrain. I don't care what others say. We're dealing with the specific treatment of those who hate us and are plotting to kill us. Electrodes and water-boarding for fun is wrong. Doing it on those with no know association with our enemies is wrong. Doing it simply based on race is wrong. Doing it on those who we have strong suspicion to believe are closely connected with terrorists, on the other hand, is a risk the terrorists take when they decide to engage in that activity. Don't like it - leave us alone.

Streak said...

Thanks for the primer on logical fallacies. But I especially like how your Christian concern is limited to when fellow Christians are persecuted. WWJD? Evidently, only show compassion for like minded people.

Speaking of logical fallacies, let's look at this one:

You don't sit around and think about how to be nice to a group of hate-filled wackos in that situation.

Our only choices are to "be nice to terrorist" or hook them up to electrodes or waterboard? Seriously? I heard John Ashcroft offer the same ridiculous argument. Our choice is not between doing nothing and doing something evil. That is ridiculous. We can and do gather intelligence with other humane and civilized methods. Read about those WW2 interrogators who went after the Nazi machine. They didn't torture. They outwitted and got more info that way. They were able to get intelligence without committing evil. There are other alternatives.

As for abortion, yes ethics are important. The vast majority are endured by single women who don't want another child to "Cramp their style."

I assume you have some numbers to back up such a claim. I would like to see them.

Doing it on those who we have strong suspicion to believe are closely connected with terrorists, on the other hand, is a risk the terrorists take when they decide to engage in that activity. Don't like it - leave us alone.

Hmm. Use terrorism against us and we will terrorize you to teach you that terrorism is wrong.

Impressive. And I am so glad you informed us of your deep Christian faith. I am always heartened when self-proclaimed Christians justify evil based on the actions of others. It makes me feel so good about the ethics and morality of my faith.

Bullet said...

You're comparing how we treated the Nazi's to the Jihadists? Are you kidding me?

After WWII, with both the Germans and Japanese, we allowed them into our country to begin business and social lives (if they so chose). If you drive a Mitshbishi, it's the same intial manufacturer that made the Japanese Zero. The point is that those people didn't hate us. Sure they killed our soliers duing a war, but after the fighting was over, they resumed normal societal relations, traded goods with us, and worked on rebuilding our relationships as individual countries. We won and they let us help them rebuild and many of their own people welcomed us as the ones who put an end to the carnage and destruction. Germans began to see who Hitler really was. It was totally different.

The Jihadists are another animal all together. You can't just sit and "play chess" with those in command of Al-quaeda and expect that they will start talking. They hate you. They want you and your family and every American brought to their collective knees. These are people who strap bombs on young boys and girls and send them to their deaths. Do you honestly think that if we could wine and dine the detainees at Gitmo with the same results, that we wouldn't have done it already? I think you must believe we refused every possible chance to get info in a humane way just so we could rough them up a little. That's ridiculous. We can't know how everything will work out but the guys in charge would assess the situation and do whatever appeared to yield the best results. If they didn't respond to dinner and a movie, then maybe we stick them in a cell with no food for awhile. If that doesn't work then we take it a step further... and so on.

Imagine (if you can) that Germany had invaded the U.S. in 1943. Imagine that they had bombed New York and Boston, had killed thousands of our civilians and were moving West across the counrty. Imagine if we had caught a high ranking general who we thought had info on future, imminent attacks. Do you think we'd have sat down and played chess then? We're freaking hours from more destruction and let's take him to a movie? This lib idealism is so sweet in the university classroom, but so sour and ignorant in the real world. When 9/11 happens you throw the chessboard out the window and get the cellophane and water bucket.

Check here for some interesting facts on abortion. 93% are done for "convenience." Almost 40% are done where the income is $30k - $60k per year. It's not happily married, women who make up the vast majority. It's the one's who aren't thinking about the possible results of their behavior and when faced with the real "life" consequences, choose to end that life so that they aren't inconvenienced. Those numbers are Government statistics by the way (sadly enough, almost 40% consider themselves Evangelical Christians).

We don't teach anyone terrorism is wrong. They know we think it's wrong - they just don't care. You know that. Our purpose isn't to "teach them a lesson," it's to get additional info to prevent further attacks. Who gives a crap what the terrorists think. How much more could they hate us when they already worked to pull off 9/11? They lost their right to be treated decently (like all criminals) when hijacked planes started crashing into our buildings. We're not our to erase a people group. We're not out to silence a political voice. We're not out to crush a religion or country. We here to make the bad guys talk. We're here to show them that we are serious about defending our country and it's people.

I know, the next time they kill a few thousand of us, let's ask them out for pizza and beer. We'll sit down and play cards and hit the hooka together for awhile. We "talk it out" and show each other pictures of our wives and kids. We'll be real nice and then they'll be convinced to leave us alone.

Please keep going to Starbucks and watching Jon Stewart. Leave the real work work to the men who know how to do it best.

leighton said...

Bullet's so cute when he thinks we give a shit about his moral tantrums. :)

Bullet said...

On second thought, maybe we could invite our detainees to a BBQ Cookout

Just a though.

Streak said...

Yeah, Leighton, I agree,

Bullet, I am done with you. Why don't you go join the right wing sites where joking about "nuking the arabs" is thought to be funny.

I will actually go to Starbucks and watch Jon Stewart. Better than reading this.

Bye bye.

Bullet said...

You guys enjoy your fairy-tale.

Just keep killing babies and babying terrorists.

Streak said...

Wow. That is exactly what it says on my business card.

ubub said...

Won't someone PLEASE think of the strawmen? It hurtss us to see them built up only to be battered all to shreds.

When I see descriptions like this of liberals and Muslims, it reminds me that I am too old for tales of boogeymen.