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Bloggingheads
12-20-2007, 12:08 PM

Simon Willard
12-20-2007, 12:48 PM
I think Corn has coined a great expression that any hopeless candidate could use. http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7553?in=00:28:38&out=00:28:59

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 02:01 PM
I completely missed the floating cross the first time I watched the Huckabee Christmas commercial. Upon review, I don't think there is any doubt about it being intentional.

Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xn7uSHtkuA

And on an unrelated note, who knew Jim was such a headbanger? Black Sabbath I could see, but he knows Slipknot? Bob Wright better not get into a pop culture face-off with him!

threep
12-20-2007, 02:57 PM
"Immoral" isn't as offensive as it seems at first, "improvident" is either petty or obvious, but "impure"? Who calls other people impure? To me that's coming pretty close to the stake-burning mentality, heh.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 03:07 PM
threep:

Who calls other people impure? To me that's coming pretty close to the stake-burning mentality, heh.

Agreed. Especially since Christian doctrine supposedly teaches that all humans are impure.

David was kidding, I think, when he referred to "the new citizenship" test that we'd have to take somewhere down the road, but sometimes I wonder. Guys like Huckabee and Romney do make me feel happier about in-your-face atheism, I will say that.

jmcnulty
12-20-2007, 03:26 PM
I have to admit that although I am a Christian, I resent the bogus shows of piety offered up by candidates, Democratic as well as Republican. Remember that Bill Clinton always managed to be photographed with a Bible under his arm after a particularly egregrious lie. Hillary discovered her black dialect before a black church (after all, she is married to a "black" guy). In find it refreshing that Fred Thompson is the only one who says that his religion is "a private matter" and that he does not make a show whenever he goes to church. Maybe Reagan was guided by Nancy's astrologist, but I will chose that over Jimmy Carter teaching Sunday school. And we certainly do not need a Televangelist-in-Chief like Huckabee. "Lose 100 pounds for Christ, or at least for national healthcare." I have to believe that his star will fade when the news gets out about his lack of real conservatism and his naivete on foreign affairs, where he compares our foreign policy to high school rivalries. Does that make Iran the schoolyard bully?

breadcrust
12-20-2007, 04:06 PM
Hillary discovered her black dialect before a black church (after all, she is married to a "black" guy).

"Discovering" a black dialect in a black church is not a bogus display of piety, but a bogus display of "blackness". Hillary wasn't religiously pandering to religionists because she attempted not to sound like a midwesterner. I can't tell if this is knee-jerk Clinton bashing or knee-jerk something else.

It's also funny that, of the four politicians you deride for overt religiosity, three are (D)'s. Must have been an oversight.

Does that make Iran the schoolyard bully?

Turkey is the schoolyard bully, not Iran. I don't see the Iranians sending troops across the Iraqi border to deal with the "George Washingtons" of the Kurdish region.

jmcnulty
12-20-2007, 04:28 PM
Repply to breadcrust:

I think that I made it clear that I was referring to the fake piety of BOTH Democrats and Republicans. If I cited more Democrats, it was only picking low-hanging fruit. Jimmy Carter wears his piety on his sleeve like a sweater. Clinton uses piety only to immunize himself. The scene of him walking with his "spiritual counselor," the Rev. Jessie Jackson (now they would really have some stories to swap), during impeachment was priceless.

Is that Clinton-bashing? It is so much fun and so easy. Frankly, I would like more quiet sincerity and less preening for electoral effect from politicians. But I stand with the comment that we are electing a President, not a Pope. I don't want a politician to be my spiritual leader. It turns out that Mike Huchabee does not have a theology degree, even though he has claimed unique wisdom because of one.

Hillary's black dialect was just an example of her insincerity. She really is Nixon in a pantsuit.

I agree that Iranian troops have not invaded the "George Washingtons" in Kurdistan; they are elsewhere in Iraq supplying munitions to kill Americans. By comparison, the Turks are mere amateurs.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 04:43 PM
jmcnulty:

You forgot the biggest pious hypocrite of them all: your boy George.

jmcnulty
12-20-2007, 05:01 PM
Reply to Bjkeefe:

Why do you consider Bush a hypocrite? Mlaybe he is, and maybe he isn't, but shouldn't you cite some reasons? And don't use the War in Iraq as a reason unless you consider ALL war evil. I am not aware that Bush has had himself photographed prominently with the Rev. Jesse Jackson or even James Dobson. Does he teach a Sunday school class? I haven't even seen pictures of him attending church. Does saying "God bless the United States of Anerica" at the end of speeches brand him as a hypocrite? He has bent over backwards to extend greetings to Muslims and Jews, even to holding Ramadan feasts in the White House. Does that make him a hypocrite? Is he a hypocrite because you do not like his domestic policies like "no-child-left- behind" or "S-CHIP"? Or do you just not like him and are looking for any "reason"?

ohcomeon
12-20-2007, 05:05 PM
Well, he did say Jesus Christ was his favorite POLITCAL philosopher.

jmcnulty
12-20-2007, 05:05 PM
By the way, he is not "my boy George," not after the immigration bill, Harriet Miers, the Dubain ports deal, and the delusion that Iraq could be transformed into some kind of Islamic Switzerland.

ohcomeon
12-20-2007, 05:13 PM
Bush also declared June 10, 2000 to be "Jesus Day" in Texas when he was governor.

jmcnulty
12-20-2007, 05:13 PM
I agree that it was a silly comment, although any answer would have seemed odd (what would you say, Bertrand Russell?) To Bush, whose faith led him to stop drinking and turn his life around, any other answer would probably have seemed ungracious to God. It also had the advantage of being politically advantageous. I don't think this was done to get votes, but I agree it was a silly answer as an intellectual matter. Jesus brought the Gospel, not philosophy.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 05:33 PM
jmcnulty:

It amazes me that you're so in denial that you can't come up with any examples of GWB's pious hypocrisy by yourself. To begin with, if you can't see his invasion of Iraq, and all the lying he did to make it happen, as the most completely un-Christian acts imaginable, I'm sure you have rationalizations at the ready to explain away everything else that has characterized his time in office. The man supports torture and a myriad of other violations of human rights, he pisses on the poor and the environment every chance he gets, and he hires completely amoral hacks to do whatever it takes to serve his goals. He talks about compassion, but can't be bothered to help a drowning city or children without health care. His seven hundred-plus "signing statements," illegal wiretapping, and extraordinary renditions indicate that he has no respect for the law, which means he regularly violates the oath of office he took. With, I might add, his hand on the Bible.

I hope you're not going to ask me for examples of his nonstop invocation of Jesus, too.

BloodontheTracks
12-20-2007, 05:40 PM
I'm not sure WHAT movie Jim Pinkerton was thinking of when he was mentioning a film that glorifies school shootings, but the Basketball Diaries, which he cited, certainly ain't it. It's a not-so-great adaptation of Jim Carroll's memoirs of being a high school hoops star in '70s New York and getting hooked on heroin. It stars a pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio and a post-Funky Bunch Mark Wahlberg. It might give kids some bad ideas about heroin use, but school shootings it definitely does not have or boast.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 05:44 PM
Blood:

I wondered about that one myself. I didn't see the movie, but I do remember reading the book. It was quite dark and despairing, but I agree with you -- I don't recall anything to do with the glorification of violence.

jmcnulty
12-20-2007, 06:33 PM
I think you forgot the failure to ratify Kyoto. As I suspected, your aversion to Bush is not specific, but instead a list of Democratic policy positions. In case you don't know, Bill Clinton, too, believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destuction. That was believed within government with all the fervor now reserved for the current NIE saying that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon. The truth is that ALL these "intelligence" reports are little more than educated guesswork. These are the same people who told us that it was a "slam dunk" that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Did the Serbs have weapons of mass destuction? Did Clinton, in view of September 11, "lie" us into Serbia? Iraq was a war based on mistaken intelligence, not Bush's "lies."

The debate about "torture" is whether particular techniques constitute "torture." Otherwise, anything coercing information is "torture," even playing Brittany Spears for hours or putting panties on someone's head. I have a friend, by the way, who was "waterboarded" during his military training. I don't believe that he has suffered any permanent damage. Your definition would prevent any CIA man from even slapping Osama Bin Laden, were he captured.

I am disappointed that you, yourself, sound like a Democratic hack, even raising the chestnut of Katrina, rather than a rational man (as you usually do). How much again has been spent in New Orleans? Two billion? Four billlion? I believe the S-CHIP bill has been passed. It could not have been passed with just Republicans voting for it since they are a minority.

I believe extraordinary reditions began during the administration of Bill Clinton. Terrorism, as you know, became a real problem during the Nineties, although we refused to recognize it within the borners of the United States --until September 11 when terrorists managed to accomplish something that neither Nazis nor Communists ever managed to do.

garbagecowboy
12-20-2007, 06:59 PM
There is a prominent scene in the Basketball Diaries where Leo's character fantasizes about going into his Catholic school class with a pump-action shotgun and murdering his teacher and a bunch of classmates. It is not the main thrust of the movie-- I think it is a daydream he has while nodding on dope, but I think that it was one of the earliest cultural references to somebody going into a school and blowing a bunch of people away. I forget what year it was made, but in the early 90's, so conceivably it has some cultural connection to Columbine.

I am not a big believer that any of the often cited cultural "causes" of school shootings (violent movies, video games, etc.) are really a big causal factor, but there is definitely one scene in the Basketball Diaries that is school-shooting related.

dudeman
12-20-2007, 08:32 PM
I noticed that when James Pinkerton called the Nation and its readers "Castro fans", David Corn didn't deny it. But how could he, since it's accurate.

And once again, the were wonderfully way off on their "synchronized" opening. I love it. Let's hope they never get it right.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 10:28 PM
GC:

Thanks for the Basketball Diaries input. I don't recall that scene, but it's been a long while since I read the book.

bjkeefe
12-20-2007, 10:34 PM
dudeman:

I noticed that when James Pinkerton called the Nation and its readers "Castro fans", David Corn didn't deny it. But how could he, since it's accurate.

Or, why would he, since it's ridiculous?

I read The Nation from time to time, but I'm not a Castro fan. On the other hand, I think the policy of the US government toward Cuba is laughable. If we wanted to move that island away from Communism, the best way to do it would be to remove all trade and visitation barriers. As soon as the residents saw what they could have, they'd be agitating for it. Isolating countries never works -- it just makes them crazier.

cragger
12-20-2007, 11:03 PM
I enjoy the Corn/Pinkerton interchanges as a rule. They seem to have good "chemistry" and to be able to maintain a good and usually good-natured back and forth. This is at least the second time though that Jim has seemed, well, less than honest, and though less deranged than before, more of a blatent partisan.

I understand that he is a Huckabee guy, but I can't imagine him excusing any candidate from the "other side" talking out of both sides of their mouths on the "I'm a uniter" vs. "its us against 'them' in a culture war" issue, let alone excusing the sort of coupling of characteristics, or perhaps labels is a better word, as Huckabee did in the quotes from his book.

Coupling "environmentalism", "pornography", "drug abuse" and "necrophiliac"! Come on already. His response that Huckabee was simply saying one thing to one audience, and another to another audience is what people normally refer to as two-faced dishonesty.

Pinkerton has stated several times, always without giving any supporting argument or evidence, that the US is "naturally right or center-right" politically. It seemed particularly telling that he here gives his evidence that the "natural" right has won by listing all the right wing Supreme Court justices that they have gotten appointed. Complaining that the left has unfairly, improperly, and unconstitutionally used the court to "legislate from the bench" has been a right wing staple for years. Crowing that the right has won and can get what they want since they now control the court seems dishonest to say the least.

Jim often seems like a likeable guy, and one who comes across as somebody you would enjoy arguing with over a beer. This diavlog however, in which he blames Hollywood for school shootings, shows him in as nutty and dishonest a light as the previous one in which he supported his anti-immigrant stance by claiming a personal friend's experience at a hospital, relating what was quickly exposed as a mass-email hoax (see Snopes.com).

This is often an interesting site, and a place where there is at times an opportunity to learn something and expand ones viewpoint. Just as you learn some posters aren't worth reading, and some bloggingheads aren't worth listening to, offering little more than knee-jerk partisanship or off the wall nuttiness, I'm starting to come around to the idea that Pinkerton is slipping into those categories.

breadcrust
12-20-2007, 11:07 PM
jmcnulty,

Thank you for admitting you were wrong that Hillary C. was being falsely pious for blacking up her voice in church.

Regarding waterboarding: Twenty-one years earlier, in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/04/AR2006100402005.html

He was convicted of other war crimes at the same time, but waterboarding was one of those war crimes.

Hmmm.... Waterboarding in 1947 = War crime. Waterboarding in Bush's America = Enhanced interrogation technique.

Simon Willard
12-21-2007, 01:59 AM
Pinkerton has stated several times, always without giving any supporting argument or evidence, that the US is "naturally right or center-right" politically. Yes, this is just nonsense. Left and right have no meaning except in comparison to the bulk of the electorate, which is center by definition.

Namazu
12-21-2007, 02:09 AM
Jim: I enjoy the originality of your thinking and admire the depth and commitment that inspire your commentary, but I can't go down Huckabee Lane with you. I offer you this data point: I agree that America's elites show their contempt for the rest of the country in a number of areas, including illegal immigration. I believe government can and should create social capital by investing in public goods (infrastructure, libraries, parks), and by paying for universal access to good schools and good health care. I do NOT want a government run without principles which limit its reach. I do NOT want a President who feels my pains and tries to heal them all. I do NOT want the country's foreign policy boiled down to pre-adolescent homilies. And I certainly do NOT want a President who wears his religion on his sleeve, let alone MY sleeve. I will vote for Rudy, Fred, McCain, or Romney against Hillary or Obama. I will vote for any of the Democrats against Huckabee. Kudos on your predictions about his candidacy so far, but I hope you're wrong now.

P.S. For good measure, don't miss George Will's character study:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/19/AR2007121901854.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

basman
12-21-2007, 02:23 AM
Testing, trying to get the hang of this!

jmcnulty
12-21-2007, 11:00 AM
Reply to Bjkeefe:

I will have to give you that round. But how do you define "torture"? Inflicting permanent injury or intense pain is obvious. America should not do this -- beatings, electric shocks, pulling out finger nails, suspending from ropes, etc, -- but how do you define it? If it is defined broadly to include any "coercive techniques," as the article says, then it is torture to deny Osama Bin Laden his dessert. Even to question someone harshly may be considered "torture." I do not know of anyone who has died from "waterboarding," although I would not want to undergo it myself. But then again, I am not a terrorist whose job description includes killing random civilians. Like it or not, we are in a knife fight. We have to win. Losing means the end of Western civilization (and all discussion of the use of "torture") since nothing in Islam prohibits "torture" against unbelievers. Beheading is one the more "humane" techniques. A "torture" house used by Al Queda agaionst other Muslims was recently found north of Baghdad. I would hope that those on the Left would remember that if we lose this war, it means the end of all discussions of the morality of "torture." Winning the war is the most important thing.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 12:25 PM
jmcnulty:

I will have to give you that round.

I don't know which post of mine you're replying to, but thanks.

But how do you define "torture"?

Granted, not an easy question to answer succinctly. But even Wikipedia can give us a good starting point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture):

Torture, according to international law, is "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

This, to me, means waterboarding is a form of torture. It doesn't matter to me that "no one died from it," or that some people undergo it as part of training or out of curiosity. When you're being held captive by hostile forces, and being made to think that you're drowning, it's a far different situation.

Like it or not, we are in a knife fight.

We're in clear disagreement over this one. I don't see terrorists as presenting an existential threat. They cause localized suffering and destruction at most. Granted, these acts can be heinous, especially when they're targeted against innocents. But I view these acts as no different from any other form of violent crime. For example, lots of innocent people are killed or wounded in drive-by shootings and by nuts hosing down malls and schools. If we apply the same thinking, we should have a blanket ban on civilian-owned firearms. Obviously, the overwhelming majority doesn't want that, which means that we are accepting some negative consequences in return for the perceived benefits of gun ownership. Similarly, tens of thousands of people are killed in car crashes every year, and hundreds of thousands die annually from smoking-related causes. Yet we tolerate the known costs rather than implementing draconian solutions.

Now, I'm not trying to say that there is an upside to terrorism per se. I'm just trying to say that an overreaction to the problem, and a claim that we should do everything possible to stop it, is the wrong way to think about it. It seems much more sensible to me to view it as a criminal problem, and to address it with the same patient and multi-pronged methods we use to combat other forms of crime. This includes, in large part, removing motivations for terrorists to act in the first place, as well as the analog of community outreach programs. Basically, the harsh methods of combating terrorism -- torture, black prisons, and invasion of perceived state sponsors, for example -- tend to foster more terrorist activity.

We have to win. Losing means the end of Western civilization ...

Again, we're in clear disagreement. It's a mistake to project from a few rabble-rousers with an inflated media presence babbling about jihad to thinking there is a unified movement among Islamic countries to destroy Western civilizations. Sure, a lot of them would like us all to convert to their way of thinking, just as many in the West would like them to change, but wishing is about the extent of it. And even if there were a determination on the part of the Muslim world to conquer the West, I have no doubt that they have no chance to pulling this off for the foreseeable future. Countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have their hands full just suppressing their own populations. They're also pretty backward, technologically, as a consequence of letting their religion dominate their affairs of state and society. The best they can do, militarily, is to maintain a guerrilla level of harassment when we're trying to occupy one of their countries.

Winning the war is the most important thing.

I don't see it as a war, at least not in the classic sense of the word. It's an ideological struggle, in part, maybe. There's another way to look at it, though, which is how I see it: We're all facing the challenge of figuring out how to get along on an increasingly crowded planet. The US's position as sole superpower makes it a target, and in some cases, for understandable if not legitimate reasons. I don't favor adopting an isolationist position, but there must be a number of places where we could be a little less intrusive. Obviously, invading Iraq and threatening Iran are two examples of poor choices, if the goal is to learn how to get along.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-21-2007, 12:30 PM
It does have meaning if you are comparing the American political spectrum with the political spectrum of other 1st world countries -- and of course, the principle of charity in interpretation requires us to interpret Pinkerton as making a sensible claim if possible.
Not only is his claim sensible, but there's reason to believe it. The European "center" is clearly to the left of the American "center."
See the excellent _The Right Nation_ (http://www.amazon.com/Right-Nation-Conservative-Power-America/dp/1594200203) by Micklethwaite and Wooldridge.
Naturally there's room to debate the degree to which these differences reflect the "real" opinions of voters etc., but there's certainly a good prima facie case that America is to the right of other nations in the first world.

jmcnulty
12-21-2007, 01:30 PM
Reply to Bjkeefe:

First of all, I do not spend time watching Fox News. I never see O'Reilly, haven't watched Hannity & Colmes in years, and have never watched Greta (with the latest news on how she has NOT found Natalie Holloway in Aruba).
Theat was just a liberal snark and beneath you.

Regarding terrorism, you said:

It seems much more sensible to me to view it as a criminal problem, and to address it with the same patient and multi-pronged methods we use to combat other forms of crime.

I guess we should stroll into Osama Bin Laden's cave, cuff him, and read him his Miranda rights. Didn't the Clinton administration plan something like this in Afghanistan? I guess first we had better make sure that the extradition treaty with Palistan is in order. Then, he will ask for a lawyer, who will advise him to say nothing. And since we have no wiretaps or communication intercepts or witnesses or files or tax returns, and we can't engage in "waterboarding," I guess we will have to accept that he may walk.

Just wait until the terrorists, with access to Arab oil money, inevitabily manage to buy a nuclear weapon. Or gain power in Pakistan and get 50. Did you hear about the attack on the South African nuclear power plant recently that nearly succeeded. The attackers managed to get inside the power plant (through an electrified fence), inside the control room, and the alarm was only sounded when they tried to get inside a room holding highly enriched uranium. It is thought that they had "inside" help. The alarm was only sounded by a guard who was unexpectly there to see his girlfriend, and he called authorities although he was wounded. They escaped before the police showed up. There were two teams operating from opposite sides of the power plant, so this sounds more like a military operation than a robbery. There are nuclear power plants in 40 countries, one of the Iran. How likely is it that one of them has shoddy enough procedures to allow such a theft?

Obviously, you have not read Bin Laden or Ayman Al-Zawahiri. This IS an "existential" struggle. Either we will kill them, or they will defeat us. There is no middle course. The only alternative is the change Islam, which is impossible. As I have said, while there may be "moderate" Muslims, there is no "moderate" Islam. As Zawahiri emphasizes, jihad is an integral part of pure Islam, and it is NOT just an "internal, spiritual struggle."

When a city disappears in a nuclear flash, will you argue that "it is just ONE city, and there is no reason for us to get too upset."

Regarding "torture," at what point does something become "severe pain"? If you do not want to "waterboard," fine. Then, what form of interrogation would you allow? What if the prisoner is unwilling to talk to you? Isn't he as likely to give false information during a friendly chat as during "waterboarding"? Why is it that we should see CIA tapes of "waterboarding" -- our democracy demands it -- but we cannot see scenes of people leaping out of windows on September 11?

If you were an interrogator, would you take the risk of "waterboarding" someone on the expectation that a court would acquit you for breaking the law because you -- mistakenly, as it turned out -- thought that you could save lives?

garbagecowboy
12-21-2007, 01:53 PM
We're in clear disagreement over this one. I don't see terrorists as presenting an existential threat. They cause localized suffering and destruction at most. Granted, these acts can be heinous, especially when they're targeted against innocents. But I view these acts as no different from any other form of violent crime. For example, lots of innocent people are killed or wounded in drive-by shootings and by nuts hosing down malls and schools. If we apply the same thinking, we should have a blanket ban on civilian-owned firearms. Obviously, the overwhelming majority doesn't want that, which means that we are accepting some negative consequences in return for the perceived benefits of gun ownership. Similarly, tens of thousands of people are killed in car crashes every year, and hundreds of thousands die annually from smoking-related causes. Yet we tolerate the known costs rather than implementing draconian solutions.

Terrorism I believe is quite a different animal than random nuts going postal or car accidents. It's a category error (in my mind) to say that terrorism is simply one more risk in a risky world. The reason for this is that if, hypothetically, terrorists had many more resources and no one trying to stop them, they would not just try to kill a few thousand people a year. No other man-made force short of nation states acting in war-time has ever, say, destroyed two skyscrapers full of civilians, or released sarin gas into a crowded subway, or blown up a federal building with a truck bomb.

You'll note that those last two examples were not performed by Islamic terrorists, but if those kinds of attacks were tactically within reach of Islamic terrorists, they would certainly happen. Similarly, if a nuclear attack on a major American city (either with a dirty bomb or a "suitcase nuke") were possible, this would be the largest disaster ever to befall the United States, and would be the worst man-made disaster not committed by a nation state in the history of the modern world.

The terrorist threat, as currently constituted, is probably less of a risk to the lives of most American civilians than a legal regime where hand-guns are widely owned, or where millions people can drive on freeways. However, one can imagine it not being. There is a limit to the scale of the havoc that guns and cars can wreak, and it is orders of magnitude below what conceivably terrorists could do. Imagine a dirty bomb that kills 10,000 civilians and renders most of mid-town Manhattan unlivable for months, and deters people from wanting to live there for years to come. This is not even in the same ballpark.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 02:20 PM
GC:

Terrorism I believe is quite a different animal than random nuts going postal or car accidents. It's a category error (in my mind) to say that terrorism is simply one more risk in a risky world. The reason for this is that if, hypothetically, terrorists had many more resources and no one trying to stop them, they would not just try to kill a few thousand people a year.

Good point. I agree. I should have made clearer that I'm all for an ongoing program to defeat and defuse terrorist groups. I just think (a) the methods chosen should be different from those that seen favored by the current administration and most of the Republican candidates, and (b) we are acting like a bunch of bunnies when we fret excessively about hypotheticals.

To continue with (b), of course I believe that we should not let up on preventing terrorists from acquiring WMDs. On the other hand, poison gas has been available for a century and nukes for half a century. The fact that the first has been used very rarely and the latter never says a lot about what we've done right in the past and/or how it's probably not that easy for a bunch of looney-tunes to acquire these weapons.

So I'm saying two things: First, let's keep up the good work, and let's chose techniques and policies that don't exacerbate the problem. Second, let's not lose sight of our founding principles while fighting this problem. Allowing fears of some imagined future catastrophe to cause us to turn into a nation that tortures, and abandons its citizens' civil rights is, in my view, doing far more to let the terrorists win than it is to stop them.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 02:33 PM
jmcnulty:

First of all, I do not spend time watching Fox News. I never see O'Reilly, haven't watched Hannity & Colmes in years, and have never watched Greta (with the latest news on how she has NOT found Natalie Holloway in Aruba).
Theat was just a liberal snark and beneath you.

Once again, I don't know what you're talking about. I don't remember saying anything of the sort to you. I've just searched this entire thread, and the only place the word "fox" appears is in your own post, from which the above excerpt comes. Is it really too much to ask that you reply directly to my posts by viewing them and using the "Reply" button that appears there, or at least to quote my words when you're responding to them?

As to the rest of your post, I'm not going to respond in detail. It seems to me that you're rehashing things that I've already responded to. Further, on most of them, we're at the point where there's nothing left to do but agree to disagree. You see Islam and terrorists acting in the name of Islam as an existential threat. I don't. You think we need to play dirty to win. I don't. You're worried that terrorists having nukes is just around the corner. I'm not. See my recent reply to GC (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=67023&postcount=9) for a more detailed view on this last, if you like.

jmcnulty
12-21-2007, 02:36 PM
You said two inconsistent things. On the one hand, you said that we should handle the war on terrorism, not as a "war," but as a criminal matter. On the other hand, you said that the war on terrorism is a real "war," but that we should not fight it as we do. Are you in favor of a quiet "dirty war" of assassination and back-alley killings, rather than precision bombing and military occupation? This would seem to be inconsistent with your views on "torture," which is a necessary part of a "dirty war." Which is it?

If we are going to treat terrorism like crime, then we are talking about "probably cause" and judges, search warrants, "right to remain silent," procedural punctiliousness and endless appeals. "War" on terrorism? I don't think so.

Maybe in World War II we could have indicted Hitler in 1940 and asked Germany to extradite him. I have heard it said that a good prosecutor can "indict a ham sandwich," but this might not have been wise given Hitler's treatment of the Jews.

Either this is a real war or not. I hope that we don't finally recognize it as a real war over the bodies of our fellow Americans ("But still less than the toll from traffic accidents in a year").

garbagecowboy
12-21-2007, 02:41 PM
The fact that the first has been used very rarely and the latter never says a lot about what we've done right in the past and/or how it's probably not that easy for a bunch of looney-tunes to acquire these weapons.

I would disagree fundamentally with this characterization of the terrorist threat. Maybe it was just an off-hand, throwaway phrase, but the people we are trying to stop are certainly not a bunch of idiots.

The people who executed the 9/11 attacks were highly motivated and educated. As has been repeated ad nauseum, Mohammed Atta had a post-graduate level of education in engineering.

The reason that chemical weapons are not routinely deployed in the U.S. is (probably) that it's hard for terrorists (especially post 9/11) to get here and then to get the precursor chemicals for making them. It's almost certainly not because they couldn't figure out how to do it.

9/11 may seem like it was pulled off by a fly-by-night sort of organization since instead of acquiring WMDs the attackers simply hijacked 4 of the thousands of flying WMDs we have in the air over this country every moment. However, the organization was quite well funded, involved a huge amount of planning, and was quite ingenious in its methods to pull it off. If you haven't read the 9/11 commission report, read about how much planning those guys went through. The way they took test flights to probe the system for weaknesses, seeing if they could fly unmolested, seeing to the feasibility of their plans, learning how to fly a large jumbo jet. Even though it did not involve, say, the synthesis of a bunch of chemical weapons, the attack was probably deadlier, than say, even a very ambitious, large scale sarin gas attack on the NYC subway system. I doubt very much, for instance, if Timothy McVeigh or other domestic yahoos who want to live out The Turner Diaries could have pulled it off.

That said, thankfully nuclear weapons are so difficult to implement that I am highly dubious that any non-state actor could prepare them. That said, the probability of a nuke from Pakistan or Iran falling into terrorist hands at some future date, while probably very, very low, is not zero. Furthermore, as I said in the above post, simply obtaining fissile material and detonating it with an ammonium nitrate fuel oil truck bomb (a la the first WTC attacks) would wreak havoc in millions of American lives and with our economy, even if it only killed a few hundred people outright.

I wouldn't live in Midtown Manhattan if I thought that an attack bigger than 9/11 was imminent, or even at a relatively high order of probability, but that said, I think that it is the heightened scrutiny of our security apparatus on the U.S. mainland, the difficulty of terrorists to organize in a post 9/11 world where there is no Taliban-held Afghanistan, the fact that terrorists are going for the low-hanging fruit of attacking American and western interests in the Middle East itself and a myriad of other factors most of which have been engineered by the west which make these attacks unlikely. It is not simply that producing WMDs is beyond the capability of the terrorists if they were given a free hand to organize and infiltrate our shores.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 03:41 PM
jmcnulty:

On the other hand, you said that the war on terrorism is a real "war" ...

No, I did not. If you think I did, please quote the appropriate phrase from my comment.

Since your premise is flawed, most of the rest of your comment is, too -- you're arguing against a point of view that I have not expressed.

Either this is a real war or not.

I know you think it is, but I do not. Worse, I think we undermine our chances of success by thinking of it in this way, just like every other phony War (tm) put forth by politicians and other blowhards; e.g., Drugs, Poverty, and for that matter, Christmas.

TwinSwords
12-21-2007, 04:02 PM
In case you don't know, Bill Clinton, too, believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destuction.
There's a hell of a difference between a mistaken belief about Iraq's arsenal, and leading the US and the world onto a disasterous course as a result of it. In case you didn't know, Bill Clinton didn't invade Iraq.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 04:04 PM
GC:

I would disagree fundamentally with this characterization ["bunch of looney-tunes"] of the terrorist threat. Maybe it was just an off-hand, throwaway phrase, but the people we are trying to stop are certainly not a bunch of idiots.

It was partly, as you say, an offhand remark, but also, I think it accurately characterizes most of the people who want to be terrorists. Sure, some are fairly well educated, and some have actual skills, but most are nothing more than tough-talking, disgruntled losers.

The 9/11 hijackers were exceptional, I'll grant. On the other hand, my reading of the 9/11 Commission's report and other follow-up analyses suggested to me that they could have been stopped by better cockpit doors and better inter-agency communication. I believe we've addressed the first problem; I wish we could actually do something about the second besides redrawing the org chart. Maybe we're getting there, but my impression is that progress is glacially slow.

That said, thankfully nuclear weapons are so difficult to implement that I am highly dubious that any non-state actor could prepare them. That said, the probability of a nuke from Pakistan or Iran falling into terrorist hands at some future date, while probably very, very low, is not zero. Furthermore, as I said in the above post, simply obtaining fissile material and detonating it with an ammonium nitrate fuel oil truck bomb (a la the first WTC attacks) would wreak havoc in millions of American lives and with our economy, even if it only killed a few hundred people outright.

Glad to agree on your first point. As to the second -- obtaining an existing device -- I'm also glad to hear that you recognize the low probability. I concede it's not zero, but I would add that I expect any government that has working nuclear bombs (of which Iran is not one) would have a fairly comprehensive, multi-level set of safeguards in place, so that even if a device were acquired, it might not be possible to detonate it; e.g., I would expect that there is some sort of encryption built into the device that prevents unauthorized use. Don't forget, the Pakistani government has to be at least as worried about a bomb being used on its own soil as elsewhere, and they also can't fail to be aware of the repercussions if one of their bombs gets used.

I suppose the device could be taken apart without it self-destructing and the fissile material extracted, which leads us to your third worry, a dirty bomb. I agree that this is something which could happen, and with greater probability than actually firing or rebuilding a stolen device, but I still think the threat can be addressed without the US having to turn into a police state. I also think that us turning into a police state is no guarantee of success, or even increased likelihood of success. We'd do better to be seen as someone worth cooperating with than as a resented overlord.

I think that it is the heightened scrutiny of our security apparatus on the U.S. mainland, the difficulty of terrorists to organize in a post 9/11 world where there is no Taliban-held Afghanistan, the fact that terrorists are going for the low-hanging fruit of attacking American and western interests in the Middle East itself and a myriad of other factors most of which have been engineered by the west which make these attacks unlikely.

Agreed. I would add that I believe we could enhance our security by working to cut down on the excuses for resentment against us. We're not going to win over every heart and mind, but we could be doing a far better job than we are.

It is not simply that producing WMDs is beyond the capability of the terrorists if they were given a free hand to organize and infiltrate our shores.

I don't think anyone is arguing that we should give terrorists a free hand. Certainly, I don't advocate this position. The only things you and I disagree upon are the tactics and policies we should be employing, and how much we should fear the terrorists.

garbagecowboy
12-21-2007, 04:17 PM
Thanks for the reply, Brendan. I don't have time right now for a reply to most of your substantive points, but I would just note one thing you said:

but I still think the threat can be addressed without the US having to turn into a police state

I think that you can disagree on a whole spectrum of issues about how the U.S. should go about trying to prevent being hit with another terrorist attack (with regard to things like whether terrorists picked up on foreign battlefields can be tortured) with alternatives other than "civil liberties protected" and "U.S. turns into a police state."

You know, shades of gray, nuance, etc. All those things you liberals love.

jmcnulty
12-21-2007, 04:18 PM
What does it mean that Bin Laden has obtained a fatwa allowing the killing of 10 million American civilians? Is this just empty bluster? Can you dismiss this as meaningless untill it happens? You apparently want to do noting but law enforcement in response to terorism and withhold even the threat of coercive techniques from interrogators. What will it take to get you to take this seriously? Between incidents with dead bodies, it is easy to take a lofty view minimizing the danger. We are a big country, and they are small bands of terrorists in foreign locations and often unsophisticated in many ways. I don't go around making furtive looks behind me for terrorists, but it is a fact that terorist incidents have occurred and been minimized or ignored by the media. Apparently, it will take something too big to ignore to get people, like you, to take this seriously. Read the Qur'an and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. The will to strike us is there, even if it results in suicide ("martyrdom," the highest goal in Islam). They only have to gain access to the means. I don't believe in "suitcase nukes," but what are the odds that some Pakistani in the nuclear program will undergo a religious awakening?

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 04:45 PM
jmcnulty:

Before I reply to the content of your post, let me first thank you for replying at the appropriate location.

What does it mean that Bin Laden has obtained a fatwa allowing the killing of 10 million American civilians. Is this just empty bluster?

Yes, as far as he personally is concerned. The guys living in a cave somewhere, afraid to use a telephone, for Pete's sake. Stop attributing to him power he doesn't have. You're only scaring yourself.

Maybe as an image, he has some small effect, as a figurehead to rally around. He probably serves the same purpose as do celebrities here in the West, and has about the same effect: Some people will hang on his every word and think of him as unique, but most of the people who want to kill Americans would be just as happy to hear his sales pitch from anybody else saying the same things.

Can you dismiss this as meaningless untill it happens?

I do dismiss bin Laden, specifically, as meaningless, in the sense of future threats. I'd like to catch him and punish him, sure, but I'm not worried about him beyond that. The overall threat from anti-US terrorists is not something I dismiss as meaningless. I recognize it's a real problem. I just don't see it as one requiring us to abandon our principles and ideals. I think we can defeat the terrorist threat, or at least keep it manageable, while remaining the good guys. I also think we're likely to do better in this effort by acting from that position.

You apparently want to do noting but law enforcement in response to terorism and withhold even the threat of coercive techniques from interrogators.

No. I'm in favor of using the military as well, say, to raid training camps and safe houses and to carry out other narrowly targeted missions. I'm also in favor of using all of our intelligence assets. I'm also in favor of using our diplomatic and economic clout to encourage other nations to cooperate with us more fully.

I don't know what you mean by the vague phrase "coercive techniques," but I think you must know by now that I consider sanctioned torture reprehensible, ineffective, and counterproductive.

What will it take to get you to take this seriously?

I already do, and I did even before 9/11. Just because I'm not pissing in my pants about it, and looking to start a war against all billion Muslims on the planet doesn't mean I think we don't need to do anything to address the problem of terrorism.

... it is a fact that terorist incidents have occurred and been minimized or ignored by the media.

First off, then how do you know about them? By reading some wingnut's blog? Second, maybe the reason actual events don't get big coverage is that they're just not that important to the nation as a whole.

Read the Qur'an ...

I can't. I just read the Bible and I'm now cowering under my bed because I'm convinced that I'm going to be stoned to death by Christians for working on the Sabbath.

jmcnulty
12-21-2007, 06:16 PM
I have never advocated a war with the billion Muslims on the plant.

Oh, by the way, regarding Osama Bin Laden's irrelevance in the modern world, did you know that the favorite name for baby boys in the Arab world is "Osama"?

Regarding comments, I try to respond to post with the "reply" button, but it says that I have not "logged in." Then, when I "log in," it will not take my password. So I am left with the "comments" button. How do you do that thing with quotes, the little boxes?

We disagree on many things, but I think that as infidels we are both in the same boat.

If you knew how Musllims view the Qur'an -- as the literal words of Allah -- you would not make jokes about the Bible. No Christian -- even the most serious fundamentalist -- would go beyond saying that the words of the Bible are "inspired," which leaves room for human interpretation. In fact, a Christian would probably say that it is something close to idolatry to exalt mere paper and ink so. You see how Muslims react even just to rumors -- proved not to be true -- that a Qur'an at Guantanamo was flushed down the toilet.

I agree with a low key approach, not involving 170,000 men in Iraq. Where we disagree is that I favor a "war of the shadows" that is a viscous as needed. Occasionally, you will mistakenly kill an Arab butler in Finland, but people like Ayman Al-Zawahiri must be eliminated. Quietly, if possible. I still believe Osama Bin Laden is dead and only kept "alive" because, like Elvis, it is to everyone's advantage.

cragger
12-21-2007, 07:03 PM
A few points re BN's post:

First, I find the argument you make that the US government is "right" of your selected set of European governments, ergo the US is "right or right of center" no more persuasive than an argument based on selecting another set of governments and claiming the US government is "left" of them and so the US is "left of center".

Second, such an argument relates entirely to the actions or perceptions of the governments, and not to the people they rule. If the US government is "right" of some other government, it could as easily be evidence of a different result from the governmental form, such as the two-party winner take all system vs. parlimentary, rather than evidence of the views of the people. Not an exclusive set of possibilities obviously.

Third, and more importantly regarding the original post, Pinkerton has at least twice if I recall correctly, made the claim that the US is "naturally right" specifically in the context of domestic US politics, not in comparing the probability of the US govt. taking some position to that of some "more left" European govt. He argues that it means that Republicans are a "natural majority" here in the US.

Fourth, this discussion is unfortunately typical of that often malignant form of discourse found online. The perhaps insufficiently obvious point of the paragraph from which the "right of center" issue was excerpted is that Pinkerton gave in this dialog the argument that the "right has won", as he has insisted they would naturally do since this is a "naturally right or right of center" country. The specific evidence he gave of this was a list of "right wing" justices on the court.

This brings forth at least two immediate and obvious objections. Any connection between the viewpoints of appointed justices and the viewpoints of the American people is coincidental at best. Anyone chosing to make a counter-argument is asked to please spare me the "well, somebody got voted into office and this is what we got so it must reflect the will of the people" claptrap. I expect that everyone has quite a list of governmental actions they disapprove of. More to the point of the original post is the point made therein - that the "right" has complained long and loudly that the use of the court to advance a political agenda is wrong, and a way to subvert the will of the people. The agenda of the court is not that of the people. Now Pinkerton is using control of the court to claim that a "right wing" court shows that the "right" has won the political debate. I find this position both unpersuasive in showing the "right or left" status of the electorate, and extremely hypocritical.

Finally and obviously, anyone and everyone is free to post whatever they care to. This includes avoiding the point of a post or portion thereof to pick apart a sentance, word, or hell, go after a punctuation mark. It has the effect of debasing any productive discussion, but the prevalance of trolls and ideological/partisan ranters makes that problematic most places anyhow. Whatever form of self-amusement floats someone's boat eh?

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 07:08 PM
jmcnulty:

I have never advocated a war with the billion Muslims on the plant.

Glad to hear it. I have to say, I did not understand this to be your position from some of your previous comments.

Oh, by the way, regarding Osama Bin Laden's irrelevance in the modern world, did you know that the favorite name for baby boys in the Arab world is "Osama"?

I think it's Muhammad, actually. Unless you can document your claim, I will continue to believe this.

Regarding comments, I try to respond to post with the "reply" button, but it says that I have not "logged in." Then, when I "log in," it will not take my password. So I am left with the "comments" button.

When you log in, make sure to check the "remember me" box. Assuming you allow cookies to be set, you should never have to log in again (unless you use another computer). After the initial hiccups on the first day of the new site, I have not had to log in again.

Besides, I don't think you're interpreting what's happening with the login process correctly. I'm pretty sure you can't post a comment without being logged in, irrespective of which link you click to post.

How do you do that thing with quotes, the little boxes?

The most straightforward way to do it is to copy the desired text, paste it into the text box where you're composing your reply, highlight the text that you just pasted, and click the button that looks like a cartoon speech balloon. You should see the text bracketed by and .

You can use the back and forward buttons in your browser if you want to grab multiple extracts for quoting-- the comments of the reply text box will be preserved as long as you don't click any other links in the meantime. Or, you can open the reply session in a new window or tab by right-clicking on the "reply" link, if this seems easier.

You can also type in the and delimiters by hand. (Actually, that's the way I usually do it -- I compose my longer replies in an external editor and use a macro within that editor to add the quote delimiters. Then I just copy and paste the whole thing into the forum's reply window.)

A third way is to click the "Quote" button instead of the "Reply" button. This launches the reply window, with all of the text from the post you were just reading included as a quote. You may wish to delete the irrelevant parts if you choose this technique, to cut down on the unnecessary verbiage. You can also break up the pieces into separate sections, again, by typing in and by hand. Use the "Preview Post" button if you're unsure about how something will look -- the markup rules should become clear after a bit of experimenting.

We disagree on many things, but I think that as infidels we are both in the same boat.

We disagree about that, too. I don't think I'm in the boat -- I'm not afraid of Muslims in general. I don't believe the average Muslim wants to kill me.

If you knew how Musllims view the Qur'an -- as the literal words of Allah -- you would not make jokes about the Bible. No Christian -- even the most serious fundamentalist -- would go beyond saying that the words of the Bible are "inspired," which leaves room for human interpretation.

Bull. That statement suggests you understand Christians about as well as you do Muslims. There are plenty who take the Bible allegorically, I'll grant, but there are also plenty of others who believe it literally. (Or at least the parts that they want to -- it's not possible to believe every word literally unless one is willing to accept contradictions.) Likewise, from personal experience, I know there are some Muslims who see the Koran as a guide, and don't take every word literally.

You see how Muslims react even just to rumors -- proved not to be true -- that a Qur'an at Guantanamo was flushed down the toilet.

I saw how some Muslims reacted. Didn't lead me to believe they were all equally enraged.

Where we disagree is that I favor a "war of the shadows" that is a viscous as needed. Occasionally, you will mistakenly kill an Arab butler in Finland ...

That's an unacceptable cost to me, morally. Pragmatically, I think such mistakes only aggravate the people we're really after, and indeed, create new enemies out of moderates.

I still believe Osama Bin Laden is dead and only kept "alive" because, like Elvis, it is to everyone's advantage.

Wait a minute. Last post you were talking about him and his fatwas and implying that he was a force to be reckoned with. Which is it?

hans gruber
12-21-2007, 10:08 PM
No Christian -- even the most serious fundamentalist -- would go beyond saying that the words of the Bible are "inspired," which leaves room for human interpretation.

You are more or less correct about Islam. But this just isn't true. The difference is that a Christian can be a "fundamentalist" without becoming an extremist because Christian philosophy is pretty good stuff, or at least has enough of the good to temper and outweigh the bad. Even a "moderate" Muslim, if he believes the general thrust of the Koran, is likely to hold some views which Westererners are bound to reject. The issue isn't so much who is a bigger zealot but what the zealot is commanded to do with his faith from his holy book. The constrast between the Christian Bible and the Koran couldn't be starker.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 05:26 AM
Hans:

The issue isn't so much who is a bigger zealot but what the zealot is commanded to do with his faith from his holy book.

Explain to me, then, those who bomb abortion clinics.

Explain to me, then, those generals who feel the Lord is on their side when they order bombings in civilian neighborhoods.

donroberto
12-22-2007, 06:46 AM
Being on the precipice of a surge is almost as pathetic as having Jomentum.

donroberto
12-22-2007, 06:48 AM
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7553?in=00:43:57&out=00:44:04

All three leading Democratic candidates are not fine my the many Democrats that I know. Two are fine. One is unacceptable.

donroberto
12-22-2007, 06:53 AM
It was rather amazing that totally off the cuff, Jim was able to cite a reference to a "cultural institution" that supported necrophilia.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 07:01 AM
donroberto:

Being on the precipice of a surge is almost as pathetic as having Jomentum.

LOL!

But neither are quite as pathetic as "weapons of mass destruction program-related activities (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/01/20040120-7.html)."

David_PA
12-22-2007, 09:29 AM
Re: Reply to Bjkeefe:
jmcnulty:


I have never advocated a war with the billion Muslims on the plant.
Glad to hear it. I have to say, I did not understand this to be your position from some of your previous comments.

I've followed with interest the dialog between bjkeefe and jmcnulty, which has gradually gotten to closer to the precise disagreements, but which still isn't quite there.

The question I have for jmcnulty is: What do you think the US ought to do to lessen the threat that terrorists pose other than the things that bjkeefe has cited - and some I'll add that I think he'd also support? This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the tenor of the kinds of things that one can advocate that would be effective, and forceful, but without us having to be in a continual state of fear and of thinking that the US needs to be in an indefinite state of being 'at war'. The need to be 'at war' is what I'm hearing you say is necessary, but how should we wage that war? What's needed beyond the types of activities below?

- Raid & destroy terrorist training camps
- Find out where high-profile terrorists are holed up and taken them down (since, obviously, arrest wouldn't work)
- Change US policies in the Middle East to take away the anti-US arguments terrorists are rather easily able to foment, particularly among poor Muslims
- Renew efforts to secure nuclear power plants and security codes on existing non-US nuclear weapons (the second of these, is actually being worked on already with Pakistan)
- Put more troops into Afghanistan to weaken Al-Quida's increased strongholds there
- Form coalitions with Russia, China, and European countries to help keep the eventual Iranian nuclear threat at bay
- Scale back in Iraq as quickly as possible - even Gates is talking about this, now. I'd even say (not claiming that Bjkeefe would agree) that a fairly long-term presence military is needed there, but at much reduced troop levels, and as long as US casualties remain low. (Note that the majority of US losses in the past few years were because of our being caught up in the political struggles there, not because of Al-Quaida.) The troops in Iraq could be better used elsewhere - such as in Afghanistan, for instance.
- Monitor terrorist chatter like we're doing, but get a court order where it's a privacy violation of a US citizen.
- Capture any terrorist operatives we can and do everything we can - short of torture - to extract or coax information out of them.


On the other point - torture and dire threats - I want to add these comments.

The only waterboarding incidents we know took place were a handful that occurred in 2002. The FBI never used this method; the CIA did, but stopped. You - jmcnulty - are saying we should continue to use this form of torture to get information. But, apparently, the CIA disagrees and it's not being done anymore. However, despite this, terrorist threats continue to be averted. So - the question is - if the methods we're using are working, why do we need torture methods? Why can't we say we don't torture?

For the nightmare scenario if that were to arise ... and we had credible evidence that a dire threat (dirty bomb, nuclear bomb) was planted in the US and was imminent, wouldn't the FBI or CIA, or whatever agency held the terrorist: contact the president, even if we had a torture ban law, and - if they believed the only way to get information out of the terrorist to avert the threat was to torture - get the authority of the president to ok it?

(Final note: given the destroyed CIA tapes and no transcripts of the torture interrogations - we don't know - and may never know - whether the information acquired through the waterboarding (if in fact information was acquired that way), did save lives.)

hans gruber
12-22-2007, 01:42 PM
"Explain to me, then, those who bomb abortion clinics.

Explain to me, then, those generals who feel the Lord is on their side when they order bombings in civilian neighborhoods."

I think there's been around 6 abortion bombings in the 30 years since Roe. Add up the number of Islamic terror acts in that time period. The comparison is laughable, we're talking about a ratio easily 1000:1.

Budhism, a "religion of peace" if there ever was one, even has adherents that occasionally go wacky; that doesn't mean Budhist theology is as violent as Christianity. What does it prove? People are flawed. People are violent. The abortion bombings are rationalized not so much on the Bible itself as institutional guidance on when life begins and what value that life has. If one really believes that at the moment of conception a person is imbued with a soul and that soul has equal worth as any other, it's easy to see how an unstable person rationalizes the murder of what they view as a mass murderer.

Islam's on whole other level, with both a strong textual, historical and institutional underpinning of violence and oppression. Muhammed was essentially a warlord of sorts. You think Joesphy Smith was shady? Ready up on Muhammed. I don't expect you to view Christianity positively. I do expect somebody as smart as you to use some common sense and drop the "all religion is equally bad" act.

Oh, I don't know who exactly you are referring to about the generals who bomb civilians and think God's on their side bit. Most people, if they believe in God, believe God's on their side. Or at least humbly hope so. Most religions believe in just war, even when it necessarily results in the loss of innocent human life. So, yes, religion and the religious are all capable of condoning the taking of innocent human life in the service of noble ends. I don't think anything I wrote could be construed to imply otherwise. But different religions certainly vary in how amenable their theology is to such justifications.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 02:07 PM
Hans:

You apologist.

Just kidding. I do believe, actually, that Islam is desperately in need of its own Enlightenment. But given that it's about 600 years younger than Christianity, they've probably got another couple of centuries to go yet.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 02:32 PM
]I do not believe that "waterboarding" should be called "torture" since it causes no permanent pain or lasting injury. It is coercive interogation and should only be used in extremis. But is should not be illegal. I think that it is unrealistic to expect interrogators to use it in the hope that, even though it is illegal, the courts will be understanding of the circumstances. The reality of interrogation may be that you are not sure what a high-value detainee knows. It may turn out that he does not know what you are trying to find out.

But would you want to explain to a showboating Congress either (1) why you did not "connect the dots" and refrained from "waterboarding" a suspect when a bomb later went off in a city, killing thousands; or (2) explain to Congress why you "waterboarded" what turned out to be an innocent man, even though it was clearly against the law? Are you so sure that we can expect an interrogator to be willing to go to jail to save lives? Do we have a right to demand that interrogators be willing to go to jail without their knowing for sure that the information gained will save lives?

We should try to benefit from ambiguity here. Why should we tell Osama Bin Laden in advance that if he is captured that he need not worry about "waterboarding"? Every detainee should have to worry about this, even though we only "waterboard" high value detainees. Detainees should always know that they can be threatened with "waterboarding" unless they cooperate.

The moral preening here -- that if we "waterboard," the terrorists will have "won" by getting us to abandon our values -- indicates a reluctance to view this as a "war" and a willingness to value the lives of terrorists over the lives of our fellow citizens. We do this because the terrorists have forced us to such extreme measures. Is it possible that we have become so punctilious that we are unwilling to do what is required -- absent acts of wanton homicide and things that cause intense pain or permanent injury (neither of which include "waterboarding," which causes momentary panic, not pain) --- to win a "war" forced upon us?

If you read Ayman Al-Zawahiri, you will see that there is nothing that we can do to avoid this war. Changing our Middle East policy is only a makeweight arguement. He is still mad about the Crusades and the loss of Andalusia. The mere existence of an "infidel" world is an affront to Allah that should be removed. It is the difference between defensive jihad (defending Islam from "attack") and offensive jihad (spreading Islam until it is a worldwide Califate -- ruled under religious law (The Calif should be overthrown unless he is following strict Islamic law, Sharia). He is remarkably candid in pointing out that pure, original Islam of the Prophet and his early Companions requires offensive jihad, to make the unbelievers captives, who feel themselves subdued by the believers.

What do I favor? I favor extreme measures. Not war against the world's Muslims (which would trigger a real global jihad), but complete separation. The Muslim world should be quarantined, all trade should be ended, all immigration should be stopped. All Muslims in the West should be deported except those who !1) are carefully screened; (2) take a loyalty oath to the United States or some other Western country (forbidden by Islam, since their oyalty to fellow Muslims -- the ummah -- always comes first); (3) show proficiency in English and American history and government; ((4) express a wish to stay, and (5) who were born here. Mosques should be carefully monitored, and imams should be screened. It should be illegal to accept gifts of Saudi or other Muslim money for any reason.

Is this realistic? No. But you asked what I would like to see, and that is it. This would require primary emphasis being placed on fuel substitution. Can it be done? The Germans survived for years making artificial oil from their coal. The process of making artificial fuel still owes much to the German experience in World War II.

Wiould you prefer a quiet "war of the shadows" in which jihadists are quietly killed (but at least not "waterboarded") wherever they can be found?

The fact that the Saudis gave $20 million to help build the Bush and Clinton Presidential libraries ought to be a pubic scandal. The fact that Saudi money is supporting Washington "think tanks" is outrageous. The fact that the Saudis are buying American millitary contractors is suicidal. The fact that Arabs tried to purchase the right to manage American ports in an age of terrorism is beyond belief. The fact that none of this is even remarked upon in our media (also partially owned by Arabs) is shameful.

Perhaps we sould allow certain countries access to the American market if they meet certain guidelines. This might make it possible to have access to natural gas from Libya, oil from Nigeria, or dates from Egypt or vacations in Morocco. The Muslim world would have to compete to prove its worthiness for trade.

Now tell me the myraid reasons why it cannot be done. I never said that it would be easy, but when the first American city goes up in smoke (Bin Laden seems to have a thing about New York, as the capital of world Jewry and finance), this may not seem so crazy when the alternatives are (1) doing nothing or (2) declaring war on world Islam and killing millions of innocent persons.

When Islam is a way of life (not just a personal faith), and Islam's admiration is solely for the glory days of the time of the Prophet and his Companions, it really is accurate to say that jihadists seek the life of the Eighth Century in many ways -- they just want modern Western technology, so we have the incredible scene of the executioner flying on an Airbus made in France to the site where he will cut off peoples' heads (to chanted verses of the Qur'an, it might be added).

Because of oil, we are financing it for them. Back when oil was "only" $50.00 a barrel. it was said that Saudi Arabia had an additional $500 million per day to invest because of the increase in the price of oil. It was reported the other day that Saudi oil revenues have gone from $200 million to $850 billion per year. What else do they have -- dates? No wonder they have enough extra money to buy American military contractors or try to influence American politics. No wonder Citibank and Morgan Stanley are selling their equity to Arab investors. No wonder Arabs bought part of NASDAQ.

You cannot change what Islam says. If you think Islam means peace, read the Qur'an, the Hadiths, the sunna of Mohammed (which includes his marriage to a nine year old girl and the wholesale killing of Jews). This cannot be changed. The Qur'an is not a mere book, paper and ink -- it is believed to be a copy of a book written on golden tablets in Heaven. What about a newer, more peaceful Prophet? Islam believes and teaches that Mohammed was the last and best Prophet -- Abraham and Moses and Jesus were in fact Muslim precursors of Mohammed. What about the nature of Allah? The Qur'an teaches that Allah is compassionate and merciful, but most of all he is sovereign -- in other words, he is free to be capricious and even misleading to humanity. He may do what He chooses. He does not have to be good. He can also be vengeful and merciless, if He chooses. This is in contrast to the Christian God, who cannot act against his essentially reasonable and good nature ("God is love") and was Incarnated in the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Islam teaches goodness, charity, and morality but most pre-eminently, it teaches submission to Allah -- the ritual prayers five times a day, bowing the Mecca, the Sharia, and the willingness to seek martyrdom.

We are caught between twin posts: doing nothing and doing too much. Doing nothing is the Bloggingheads.tv "solution," and it begins with future dhimmi Bob Wright himself. We can always think of 100 reasons why we cannot do anything. At that point, we can "afford" to lose a percentage of the population each year equal to the excess of births over deaths. In that sense, we haven't lost anything. After all, we lose more people in traaffic accidents. Somehow that is supposed to make us sauguine when New York goes up in smoke. No doubt, someone will argue that "we are a better country without so many people."

The other alternative is unrealistic. No American president is going to destroy Jeddah because New York goes up in smoke (besides, it will take 18 months to push out the government commission report fixing blame). We also are not going to destroy innocent Mulims in Pakistan because Ayman Al-Zawahiri sets off a nuke.

There really is no point in arguing this. After all, September 11 happened 50 years ago, and people feel it is too remote to care about. Maybe like Soviet Communism, we will get lucky and radical Islam will collapse on its own. After all, radical Islam (which, to paraphrase Solzhenitsyn, is "Islam, done by experts") has only been around for, oh, 1,300 years. It might suddenly change any day now.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 02:52 PM
jmcnulty:

The reality of interrogation may be that you are not sure what a high-value detainee knows.

The reality of interrogation is that you are not sure what any detainee knows. That, in itself, is sufficient reason to oppose torture. Innocent until proven guilty. Remember that?

Sorry you don't care for my moral principles.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 03:14 PM
What does "innocent until proven guilty" have to do with the interrogation of terrorists? On that basis, we should not be questioning anyone without first advising them or their right to remain silent and their right to have an attorney appointed. When has the U. S. Supreme Court ever said that full Constitutional rights apply to foreign military detainees in foreign locations? This is an example of where treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter gets you. Osama Bin Laden is "presumed innocent until proven guilty." Show his attorney in.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 03:59 PM
I don't have time right now for a reply to most of your substantive points, but I would just note one thing you said:

I think that you can disagree on a whole spectrum of issues about how the U.S. should go about trying to prevent being hit with another terrorist attack (with regard to things like whether terrorists picked up on foreign battlefields
Hi GarbageCowboy,
I don't have time right now for a reply to most of your substantive posts (good words, thought I'd borrow them), but I have noticed that you favor the Orwellian term picked from Bush's mouth -- "battlefield."

Are you aware that "battlefield" is one of the many Bush metaphors that means much more in practice than what it implies? It's a euphemism for "anywhere on the face of the earth." Even if they pick up a "terrorist" in his apartment in Newark, they say he was picked up on "the battlefield."

They just use the term "battlefield" all the time because it misleads people, and makes their policies seem more reasonable as long as you don't know they are applying to anywhere.

And this also applies to American citizens, not just foreigners.

I guess all of our torture victims were picked up "on the battlefield" in much the same way that Mitt Romney's dad "marched with" MLK.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 04:10 PM
As a matter of fact, the "battlefield" includes two acres in Manhattan, a few of acres in Pennsylvania, and the grounds of the Pentagon, as well as the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. But the point is that I think you are right about American citizens, and I think that the U. S. courts agree. But the use of the term "battlefield" is not "Orwellian," but actually a recognition of reality, since this is not a war with a defined "front line." But the point is that American citizens, wherever they are found, are entitled, for better or worse, to American Constitutional rights. To the extent that the Bush administration took the opposite position in the Jose Padilla case, they were wrong, no matter how reprehensible he may have been. American citizenship is a "bright line" that should not be crossed. I have heard many "conservatives" say the same thing.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 04:15 PM
I carry no water for Mitt Romney, but his father did "march" with Dr. King. He was well-known in the Sixties for his civil rights proclivities, and he spoke at a rally and march by Dr. King. Where Romney went wrong is that he said he "saw" his father march with Dr. King, which he didn't. But his father did "march" with Dr. King. There is no dispute about that.

David_PA
12-22-2007, 04:36 PM
Response to David_PA:
I do not believe that "waterboarding" should be called "torture" since it causes no permanent pain or lasting injury. It is coercive interrogation and should only be used in extremis. But is should not be illegal. I think that it is unrealistic to expect interrogators to use it in the hope that, even though it is illegal, the courts will be understanding of the circumstances. The reality of interrogation may be that you are not sure what a high-value detainee knows. It may turn out that he does not know what you are trying to find out. But would you want to explain to a showboating Congress either (1) why you did not "connect the dots" and refrained from "waterboarding" a suspect when a bomb later went off in a city, killing thousands; or (2) explain to Congress why you "waterboarded" what turned out to be an innocent man, even though it was clearly against the law? Are you so sure that we can expect an interrogator to be willing to go to jail to save lives? We should try to benefit from ambiguity here. Why should we tell Osama Bin Laden in advance that if he is captured that he need not worry about "waterboarding"? Every detainee should have to worry about this, even though we only "waterboard" high value detainees.

There aren't that many cases like the ones you describe where such extreme solutions (what most people call torturing) may be called for. If it were so important to reserve the right to take this approach to interrogations, why did the CIA stop doing it way back in 2002? In the cases that may occur in the future where critical information must be extracted from a terrorist and the president secretly approves torture believing it would work - even if it proves wrong, the president isn't going to be put on trial. One reason would be that such a scenario would only occur *maybe* once every 5 years.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 04:41 PM
As a matter of fact, the "battlefield" includes two acres in Manhattan, a few of acres in Pennsylvania, and the grounds of the Pentagon, as well as the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. But the point is that I think you are right about American citizens, and I think that the U. S. courts agree. But the use of the term "battlefield" is not "Orwellian," but actually a recognition of reality, since this is not a war with a defined "front line." But the point is that American citizens, wherever they are found, are entitled, for better or worse, to American Constitutional rights. To the extent that the Bush administration took the opposite position in the Jose Padilla case, they were wrong, no matter how reprehensible he may have been. American citizenship is a "bright line" that should not be crossed. I have heard many "conservatives" say the same thing.
OK, thank you for concedeing or agreeing to the substance of what I said: "Battlefield" does not mean battlefield; is a euphemism for "anyplace on earth."

It is of secondary importance whether whether we classify it as Orwellian or a "recognition of the truth." As long as we recognize that it is a qualifier that signifies nothing, I can leave of the Orwell question for another day.

So, I have a question for you: What exactly is the point of tacking on a qualifier that signifies nothing?

The answer is simple: The paid propagandists tack on the meaningless qualifyer "on the battlefield" as a way to mislead and confuse people. It seems a lot more reasonable to torture or deny rights to a combatant captured on an actual, non-metaphorical battlefield than an American arrested in his apartment.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 04:47 PM
I carry no water for Mitt Romney, but his father did "march" with Dr. King. He was well-known in the Sixties for his civil rights proclivities, and he spoke at a rally and march by Dr. King. Where Romney went wrong is that he said he "saw" his father march with Dr. King, which he didn't. But his father did "march" with Dr. King. There is no dispute about that.
What's important is not whether there is some conceivable sense in which Romney's claim could be considered literally accurate.

What's important is whether Romney was deliberately choosing misleading and ambiguous language. I think he was doing the latter. What do you think?

This reminds me of the Swift Boat Vets who said, "I served with John Kerry in Vietnam." They meant they were in the service, in Vietnam, some of them at the same time as Kerry, some not. But 98% of them never knew Kerry back then, didn't serve side-by-side with him or ever see him personally. They "served in Vietnam" with him in the same sense that someone might say "I went to Harvard with so-and-so," meaning they were enrolled at the same time, but not necessarily that they ever met or ever knew the other person.

But when you are telling lies about John Kerry, it's a lot more believable if you can find language that falsely implies you knew him and served side-by-side with him, when in fact your only real connection to John Kerry was that you were paid to read a script for a commercial telling lies about him.

David_PA
12-22-2007, 04:48 PM
Response to David_PA
What do I favor? I favor extreme measures. Not war against the world's Muslims (which would trigger a real global jihad), but complete separation. The Muslim world should be quarantined, all trade should be ended, all immigration should be stopped. All Muslims in the West should be deported except those who !1) are carefully screened; (2) take a loyalty oath to the United States or some other Western country (forbidden by Islam, since their loyalty to fellow Muslims -- the ummah -- always comes first); (3) show proficiency in English and American history and government; ((4) express a wish to stay, and (5) who were born here. Mosques should be carefully monitored, and imams should be screened. It should be illegal to accept gifts of Saudi or other Muslim money for any reason. Is this realistic? No. But you asked what I would like to see, and that is it. This would require primary emphasis being placed on fuel substitution.

I actually agree with this up to a point. At some point, a high enough degree of energy self-sufficiency could get us out of the Middle East. We're involved in the Middle East mainly to get oil. If we weren't there, and could leave Muslim countries essentially to themselves, a primary terror recruiting tool would be gone, and the primary offense the radical Muslim world sees the US as 'committing' would be gone. However, all this worry about getting Muslims out of the US is not necessary and far over estimates the threat. If terrorist activity is going on among US Muslims, we'll be able to find it out. It's a very very small percentage of US Muslims who present risks. If the risk was as great as you think it is, there would have been 100s of attacks in the US in the past 6 years.

An effort put toward energy self-sufficiency that would be anywhere close to the 1 trillion dollar effort we've put into Iraq, supposedly prosecuting the 'war on terror', but actually hurting ourselves in that respect - such a 1 trillion dollar investment by the US in drastically changing it's energy future (even if spread out over 10 - 15 years), would go a long long way to reducing the threats that terrorism poses, by lessening our presence in the Middle East.

You take the radical Muslim writings too literally. It's rhetoric, not a specific battle plan. Sure, the nuts who write that stuff would like to do what they say, but fortunately they can't really do as much damage to the West as their rhetoric calls for. If they could have, they would have done much more damage by now, especially given our wasted energies in Iraq. Dealing with the rising rising threat in Afghanistan, would certainly help lessen the risk to the US.

And ... it's not the entire Muslim world that believes this junk these Muslim fanatic nuts write. Maybe 1% believe it enough to take up the cause. A much higher percentage of Muslims living in the Middle East disrespect and even hate the US. But, they aren't going to strap on a suicide bomb or join a terror training camp.

And, why should Muslims - especially poor ones - like the US? Only maybe 10% of the educated elites can aspire to be like us. The prospects for the rest are far too dim, for them to want to emulate the US. They're ears are ripe for hearing radical rhetoric. But, as I've said, not that many will take action.

Can something be done to change the Muslim view of the West so that it becomes a more favorable one? Yes. How long would it take? A generation, or more. How would we go about making the US worth emulating in Muslim's eyes? Well, being less entrenched there and largely energy self-sufficient would go along way ... .

But ... I do agree with you to some extent that we should wall ourselves off from the problem - by getting out of the Middle East as much as we can. A tall, tall order to be sure.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 05:01 PM
It may "seem" more reasonable. The Bush legal position was that persons captured on the "battlefield" -- which, you are right, included various non-traditional places anywhere on Earth -- were entitled only to rights as an "enemy combatants." All this talk about "hacks" is only a way to stigmatize persons -- some of whom are not flacks of any kind -- who are asserting a position with which you do not agree. I do not believe that anyone has been "tortured" -- I realize that we disagree about this, particularly about the treatment of the three people who have been "waterboarded." When you think about the thousands of persons captured in this war, it is rediculous to talk about "torture" with regard to the "waterboarding" of three persons. The Bush administration has turned out to be wrong regarding the rights of American citizens captured on the "battlefield." I think it was foolish to destroy the videotapes of the interrogations. In fact, given the recent NIE which attempted to tie Bush's hands, I would almost suspect that the people running the intelligence community destroyed the videotapes, whatever they contain, so that it would "look" like the Bush administration was covering up "torture." The videotapes may have been completely anodyne. How can you justify an NIE that determines Iran is NOT seeking a nuclear weapon when you attack the veracity of a pervious NIE that said that Iraq had mythical weapons of mass destruction?. George Tenant said that this was a "slam dunk." Why do we dinounce the earlier one and cleave to the other with "high confidence?"

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 05:17 PM
I have not heard about a single claim in the "Swiftboat" ads that is false. Two factors to consider: (1) Kerry has had years (beyond the State of Limitationss) to bring suit over the "Swiftboat" lies and has never done it. If the ads were full of lies and vets were reading a script just to get a paycheck, it would be no problem for him to overcome the "malice" requirement for a public official. (2) T. Boone Pickens has offered to pay Kerry $1 million if he proves that any claim in the ads is a lie. He has not offered the contrary. To date, he has only sent a letter asking that the money just be paid over on general principles. The was a matter that Kerry had months, during the campaign, to make an issue. Has he ever released his military records, which he promosed several years ago to release immediately?

Regarding Romney, I am not interested in further arguing the matter. He should have not said what he said. He was clearly pandering and trying to bask in reflected glory of the civil rights movement. Bill Clinton would have said that he saw churches burned down in Arkansas at the height of the civil rights movement, when in fact not a single black church in Arkansas burned. But what Romney said was "metaphorically" true. His father was well-known as a champion in Michigan of civil rights. In fact, it was used against him in the Sixties, until his campaign cratered over the "brainwashing" statement.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 05:37 PM
You said: "You take the radical Muslim writings too literally."

I have only tried to report accurately what they say -- in Arabic to a Muslim audience.

I wish that we had the luxury of discounting what they say as not to be taken seriously or for effect. Would you have taken the same position with regards to white nationalists in South Africa in 1980? How about neo-Nazis today? Are racists dismissed so easily?

Since they are willing not only to kill, but to kill on a mass scale -- and have done so on September 11 -- the only question if whether the Islamists can obtain the means. Pakistan has 50 nuclear weapons and an active Islamic insurgency. Are we confident that the Pakistani security force has not been infiltrated by Islamists? How are we supposed to know? I don't expect to see a missle attack. That is too easy. It would have a return address and bring armageddon on the attacker. But at the same time we see Abu Dhabi trying to buy management over a dozen American ports. Is is possible to smuggle a bomb on a container ship into a port? Only about 3% of containers are x-rayed on arrival. Are we absolutely confident of origination inspections at Pakistani ports?

Has anyone ever thought that these feckless terrorist attacks -- like the Pakistani doctors at the Scottish airport -- are designed to obscure and protect planning for the REAL terrorist plot and keep it "below the radar"?

Are we not supposed to react until the worst happens? The Islamists keep saying that America will be destroyed. Either they know something or are engaging in useless bluster.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 05:51 PM
I have not heard about a single claim in the "Swiftboat" ads that is false. Two factors to consider: (1) Kerry has had years (beyond the State of Limitationss) to bring suit over the "Swiftboat" lies and has never done it. If the ads were full of lies and vets were reading a script just to get a paycheck, it would be no problem for him to overcome the "malice" requirement for a public official. (2) T. Boone Pickens has offered to pay Kerry $1 million if he proves that any claim in the ads is a lie. He has not offered the contrary. To date, he has only sent a letter asking that the money just be paid over on general principles. The was a matter that Kerry had months, during the campaign, to make an issue. Has he ever released his military records, which he promosed several years ago to release immediately?

Oh good lord. First of all, I wish I had more time to sit here and debate with y'all. (I'm not being sarcastic; I really do.)

Second of all, I don't want to get into a debate about the Swift Boat Scum. I was merely pointing out how phrases like "went to school with," "worked at IBM with," and "served in Vietnam with" can create a false understanding in the listener: It can make it seem like I was a direct co-worker at IBM with such-and-such a person, when in fact it's possible we never even met.

That's the sense in which those scummy Swift Vets "served with" John Kerry. They never knew him in Vietnam, nor had any contact with him. They have no firsthand knowledge about anything Kerry did while serving.

So why do you think their scripts included the words "I served with John Kerry?"

The answer is very simple: To mislead the audience.

Agree or disagree?



About T. Boone Pickens: You're mischaracterizing what happened. Pickens offered $1M to anyone who could prove anything false in the Swift Vets' claims. he did not offer the money to Kerry specifically as you say.

And when Kerry attempted to collect, Pickens changed the rules and demanded that Kerry release documents and jump through a bunch of new hoops.

In any event, let's not rehash Kerry; let my reference to the Swift Vets merely as an example of misleading language stand without dragging us back to the 2004 election.

Your side already destroyed him with your lies. No need for you to head-stomp some more just to relive the glory of your past campaignto defame war heros who served while your president was snorting coke and skipping his cushy TANG assignment.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 06:12 PM
I agree that there is no reason to refight old battles. The point remains. Kerry could have done myraid things to dispute the ads -- including runnig his own counter-ads -- but he did not. He also has STILL not released his military records. If T. Boone Pickens has wrongly denied Kerry or anyone $1 million don't you think that Kerry or Harry Reid would be screaming about it? I don''t think that anyone thought that by saying "I served with John Kerry" it meant that anyone had served beside him in the same boat. I took it to mean that they served in another "Swiftboat" at about the same time. If this was a problem, who better that John Kerry to point this out. The needless sneer against Bush's Texas Air National Guard service -- another issue entirely (ask Dan Rather) --shows where you are really coming from. Where were the Texas Nation Guard vets who served at the same time to "Swiftboat" Bush? He was in a sense "Swiftboated" by Gore a few days before the election by the drunken driving story. Maybe Kerry was for T. Boone Pickens' offer before he was against it. Sorry. It was irresistable.

David_PA
12-22-2007, 06:50 PM
I wish that we had the luxury of discounting what they say as not to be taken seriously or for effect. Would you have taken the same position with regards to white nationalists in South Africa in 1980? How about neo-Nazis today? Are racists dismissed so easily?

In South Africa, with the neo-Nazi's, and with racists, there are (were) political solutions that don't (didn't) require us taking people out covertly, or anything as extreme as military action. The threat to the US is (was) never high in those cases. I support (and supported) completely political solutions in all of these cases.

The terrorist threat is more severe than any of those examples. What I'm trying to get at is how we should respond. What's the best use of US resources in responding? Where should the money go, where should we apply political pressure, where should we use the military, where should we use covert activities? All of these approaches should be used, but how and to what extent? And, complementary with taking these approaches, does the fear level really need to be ratcheted up any more? I'd argue that the stoked-up fear level is too high already and that it's clouded thinking about how to best approach the problem.

Regarding Pakistan: we're trying to work with the Pakistanis in keeping their nukes from falling into the wrong hands, but they don't trust us enough to let us help that much. Is there a military or covert option that would help lessen this threat? Perhaps - I'd be open to hearing about it. But, I'd certainly not be in favor of a rash not-fully-thought-through or too protracted approach. Iraq, should at least provide lots of lessons about what not to do. One of those lessons is that a military approach is likely to exacerbate the problem for quiet a long time period. It's most likely that a political approach to gain the trust of the Pakistanis in helping them secure their weapons is the best approach.

jmcnulty
12-22-2007, 07:33 PM
I agree with your approach. But what I am saying is that the essential nature of Islam is hostile to a "live and let live" approach. How do you square "peaceful coexistence" with the supremacist Qur'an, the commands of Allah? I think it is foolish to dismiss this as mere "rhetoric." This is what Islamists believe, and they are willing to die and kill to bring it to fruition. Are we willing to die to peserve Western society? All indications (ask Bob Wright) are "no." Name one military hero like Audie Murphy or Alvin York from the Iraq War. Name one "heroic" movie by Hollywood. I recently read of some American soldiers who were ambushed while searching a building. They held out for hours and even had to use the Ak-47's of dead enemy to hold off the insurgents. There were no high tech bombers or helicopters, and relief from armed Humvees was hours away. This was a story tailor-made for the movies. The heroism was so incredible (guys leaping into fire to grab dead insurgents' guns; bodies piling up on the stairs; insurgents throwing grenades up the stairs.) that no Hollywood embellishment was needed. The shootout went on for hours, with American troops trapped on the apartment's roof, and insurgents shooting their way up the stirs after being warned by a telephone call when Americans entered the building. Why has this not been made into a movie? It was like "Die Hard" in uniform. Several of the Americans were wounded and still continued to fight. Why is it not a movie? Because there is no interest in telling the story. If you want to read it, check out Michael Yon"s reporting and website. A society that overlooks such a story OF ITS OWN MEN is unlikely to hold out in a war that fueled on one side by religious fervor and that will last decades. Wait until the Islamists -- in Pakistan or elsewhere -- gain access to nukes. I imagine that Bjkeefe and other posters here and Bob Wright will tell us that "dhimmitude" is the only "reasonable" option. I mean we don't want to risk death over something as meaningless as religion, do we?

David_PA
12-22-2007, 08:18 PM
I agree with your approach. But what I am saying is that the essential nature of Islam is hostile to a "live and let live" approach. How do you square "peaceful coexistence" with the supremacist Qur'an, the commands of Allah? I think it is foolish to dismiss this as mere "rhetoric." This is what Islamists believe, and they are willing to die and kill to bring it to fruition. Are we willing to die to peserve Western society? A society that overlooks such a story OF ITS OWN MEN is unlikely to hold out in a war that fueled on one side by religious fervor and that will last decades. Wait until the Islamists -- in Pakistan or elsewhere -- gain access to nukes. I imagine that Bjkeefe and other posters here and Bob Wright will tell us that "dhimmitude" is the only "reasonable" option. I mean we don't want to risk death over something as meaningless as religion, do we?If the threat is that extreme and the US resolve is that weak, then there's no hope for the West. I don't believe that and hope you don't either. Fortunately, only a tiny percentage of Muslims will strap on a suicide vest.

It's pretty clear that the biggest risk to the US would be if terrorists were to get hold of nuclear material or a bomb. How we should maneuver and apply resources to prevent that from happening has to be, to be effective, mutl-pronged and well coordinated with governments around the world. It is possible to deter this threat with covert activities, political pressure, and beefed up security. I am not saying that deterrence is a sure thing, but I'm saying that it is definitely an achievable outcome. Furthermore, in looking at worst case scenarios with dirty bombs or such, there is a very small probability that an incident such as is shown as occurring in the 2010s in the TV show 24 could occur. But, I do not foresee any worst-case scenario under which there is even close to an existential threat to the US. My main point here is that I think it's possible to prevent such an occurrence - and that it's possible to do so without turning the US into a police state.

Am I hearing you having said between the lines in posts from yesterday that you wished the recent NIE hadn't come out - so blowing Iran to bits was still a viable political option for Bush? I hope not, because that would have exacerbated the terror threat in the long run. But, on the other hand, I do think the NIE reporting could have been better handled so the world community would have wanted to keep up pressure through sanctions on Iran. A certain level of continual world-community wariness of Iran would certainly have been better for the US than what we have now.

jmcnulty
12-23-2007, 11:25 AM
I think that the NIE is wrong, and we will discover that too late. The NIE led to the collapse of the Bush policy of pressure, whatever Bush may contend.

The reality is the the mullahs know that Bust cannot threaten Iran in any way because he has no political support. There seems to be a feeling that deterrance is all we need, that Iran will repond to numbers and megatonnage the sme way the Soviets did. The fact is that Iran is a mllennialist power. Now I am not saying that they are mindless. I am saying that it is a mistake to believe that because we don't take religion seriously, they don't really take it seriously either. I don't expect an Irranian missle to appear on NORAD's radar screen.

But will a nuke be given to Hezbollah for a "martyrdom" operation? How about modifying the bomb so it does not leave an Iranian "signature"? Hezbollah has treatened several times to launch operations within the United States because of our support for Israel. That is my problem with NIE. It said two inconsistent things: (1) Iran is continuing to enrich Uranium (the hard part), but has stopped weapons development activities (the easy part; the United States was so confident of the "gun" design of the Hiroshima bomb that it did not even test it beforehand. The "Trinity" test was of the second, plutonium implosion bomb); and (2) Whether they have stopped bomb development activities or not, your political position has collapsed.

Let me ask you one question. Put yourself in the mullahs' position. Why would you stop bomb development? You know a bomb would make you the biggest kid in the neighborhood and able to go up against the big boys (the Great Satan), although you might not be on equal terms. This might require asymmetrical warfare, at which the Iranians are expert. The Saudis invited the Iranian President to the Hajj and then to the royal palace -- a straw in the wind of a Saudi-Iranian Entente (at our expense).

You might stop bomb development temporarily because the United States has invaded your neighbor. But why would you not resume it at widely scattered locations that are mostly underground? The best terrorism is terrorism that you can piously and loudly deny, while your enemy knows that you did it. The NIE, while it may give momentary reassurance, is a disaster and the intelligence community's revenge against Bush for blaming it for "intelligence failures" in Iraq. It is the best recent coup of the "permanent government" against Bust that we know about (the best coups are those that we don't know about).

I have never advocated a police state in the United States. I do not know what you mean. Aside from the right to take a bottle of water on an airplane, our "loss of rights" has been mainly a nuisance since September 11. I do not want to see war with Iran. It is a large country, and the mullahs are perfectly willing to lose vast numbers of their young as they showed in the World War I-like Iraq-Iran War, in which teenagers were marched across mine fields to clear them while holding plastic "keys to Paradise."

In a battle of tanks and ships and planes, we wiln. In a battle of desire, religion, and fervor, we lose -- especially in the long term. I do not expect it to effect me, but I wonder about our grandchildren. We are allowing more and more Muslims to immigrate. Most are fine citizens and love their freedom here. But a recent survey in Germany found that there were 168,000 Muslims there willing to engage in suicide bombing operations or to support them.

What would a similar American survey say? Even for secular Muslims, the tidal pull of the pure religion (Whabbism) is great -- especially when supported by a mountain of Sauid money from the West. I am not saying that the the Saudi government is to blame, but there are many rich Saudis. The Islamists hate the Saudi royal familty as "hypocrites" who suppress jihad. Saudi oil money is more than $2 billion per day. There are 6,000 Saudi princes on daily allowance. Bin Laden himself comes from a rich family. His father once was the world's biggest customer for Caterpillar construction equipment. His father was the "Robert Moses" of the Kingdom. How much does a nuke cost for the greater glory of Allah?

It is no fun being a Cassandra. Remember what happened to her?

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 12:27 PM
Another episode from our occasional series: The Truth is in the Typos (emph. added):

The reality is the the mullahs know that Bust cannot threaten Iran in any way because he has no political support.

jmcnulty
12-23-2007, 12:38 PM
With the exception of his courageous conduct of the war and his judicial nominees, I would agree with you. He had been in many ways a severe disappointment for coonservaties. I suspect that you Democrats will have the next opportunity to be disappointed in a President. I think that Obama will beat Romney or Huckabee and that Fred, who could win, cannot get the nomination. Obama's youth and inexperience are against him, but I think that he is smart enough to turn them to his advantage by running as a representative of a new generation that seeks to "turn the page."

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 12:48 PM
jm:

What's your attraction to Fred Thompson? Just asking -- I don't really have much of an opinion about him.

P.S. You might like Joel Achenbach's profile (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/11/AR2007121102116.html?hpid=artslot&sid=ST2007121102301) of him, if you haven't already seen it:

jmcnulty
12-23-2007, 02:33 PM
As a conservative, I have been casting around for a candidate:

1. Rudy -- a good man, experienced in the ways of Big Media, good on terorism and Islam, but with a troubling anti-gun, pro-gay marriage, pro-immigration history. A Big Government conservative whatever he says now, although he had been candid about this. Unllikely to shring the size of the federal government. Seems to have hit the wall as poll numbers, always based on name recognition, go south. The anti-Hillary, and as Obama seems more and more like the nominee, less and less essential. A sleaze factor that seems perfect for the Media to exploit from here to election day.

2. Mitt -- He has too much past, running against Ted Kennedy and for governor of Massachusetts, where he had to appear a liberal to have any chance to win. Supports restrictions on "assault weapons," although this makes no sense since it is a restriction on guns that have certain cosmetic features and look threatening. He also has potential for a Kerryesque "flip-flopper" characterization. Solid executive background. The Momon thing is just a distraction, since I don't think he would act as a "Mormon" President.

3. Huckabee -- not a real conservative, but poses as one for electoral effect. He is really a liberal on everything except social issues. I do not want to risk going from a "compassionate conservate" who thinks that we need bigger government to appear "conpassionate" to someone who favors "bigger government" because the Gospels demand it. Potential demagogue (denouncing "greed" among CEO"s and that question to The New York Times -- "Don't Momons believe that Satan is Jesus Christ's brother?" -- was inedefensible. Don't tell me that a Baptist minister did not know the answer to the question.). Probably the only nominee who would drive me to vote for Obama.

4. John McCain -- While I admire the man's courage and service, I could not vote for him after McCain-Fiengold (making the world safe for the George Soros' of the world). Too much baggage: the "comprehensive" immigration bill, his co-sponsorship of bills with Ted Kennedy, the Gang of 14, his practice of never missing an opportunity to characterize the conservative wing of the party as ignorant mouth-breathers. Good on the war though.

5. Ron Paul -- surely you jest. I have argued enough with my crazy uncle, let along one who has taken contributions from neo-Nazis and "9/11 truthers." Seems to want America to become a giant Switzerland with nukes. Believes in "Blowback"; obviously is unfamiliar with the Qur'an.

6. Fred Thompson -- If you actually read his position papers, they are measured and sensible. Solid, but not flashy (escept his wife). Unfortunately, the Media has already adopted the meme of "laziness" and "he doesn't want it bady enough." No matter what he says, except the "show of hands" thing, no one is impressed. Age and sickness (he has a lingering form of cancer) are concerns. He gives the impression of a sick guy. He is the candidate who does least (aside from Ron Paul) to point out his Christianity, so in that sense (unchurched) he is like the blessed Reagan. I would want to know who he would choose for vice-president. But overall, the best of the lot. See his Christmas commercial saluting the troops. His picture does not even appear in it. He is currently on a roll, but it may have come too late. His enveration came either reflect being tired or being a grown-up. I hope it is the latter.

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 03:08 PM
jm:

Thanks for the detailed answer. Not too much for me to disagree with, except maybe for this:

He is currently on a roll, but it may have come too late.

I could easily see a scenario where Rudy continues to slide (as you predict) and Huckabee trounces Romney in Iowa, does well enough in NH, and wins SC. At that point, the power brokers of the Republican Party get nervous enough to abandon Romney and go all out for Fred. Basically, on economic and foreign policy, he's not much different from Mitt, and he has the advantage of being less threatening to the evangelicals. Could happen.

uncle ebeneezer
12-26-2007, 03:34 PM
I'm only about halfway into this diavlog and am not certain I will make it through. Pinkerton's holier-than-thou defense of Huckabee's comments really is irking me today, for some reason.

I believe that the answer to the mysterious "floating cross" phenomenon in the Huckabee X-mas ad is obvious. They did NOT intentionally place the image with fancy camera tricks or phtotoshop. It just spontaneaously appeared as a miracle.

Basketball Diaries was a hell of a movie. Not sure how it compared to the book, but the movie version had the ultimate message that was "drugs will really mess up your life." The things that Leo DiCaprio's character was doing when he was strung out were NOT of a positive nature, and the movies overall message (and point) was to help the viewer realize such. Anyways, if you haven't seen it, check it out (and try to suppress the urge to go on a shooting rampage if you can.) Seriously though, what male teenager has never imagined shooting people at their school, whether it's one particular teacher or a bully. I never had the fantasy of shooting at a multitude of innocent bystanders, but I certainly "fantasized" about how a gun could be the great equalizer between me and the agents of my percieved persecution. Fortunately I also had: common sense, empathy and limitted (no) access to guns. IE- I realized that shooting up the school was maybe not the best idea, for numerous reasons. My point is that, all of this happened before I had ever seen Basketball Diaries, Higher Learning or any other movies that "glamourized" school killings. Also, while I'm on the fight against the culture-causes-violence subject, I would also like to add that Steven King's first novel "Rage" (which was largely about shooting up a school) was written when he was in his teens, back in the 70's. It was released under the psuedonym Richard Bachman and sold few copies, but was then re-released once he was "Steven King" in the 80's to significant sales as part of the Bachman Books. And yet high school shooting incidents didn't really become the "rage" until decades later. If pop-culture has such a stranglehold on the actions of teens, why did it take so long?

Pink's whole necrophilia defense is utterly laughable. Slipknot sucks, but they're hardly necrophiliacs. I would love to see anyone prove via scientific fashion, that disgusting lyrics in metal music (ironic or serious) has had any noticeable affect on the number of incidences of necrophilia, rape, murder, whatever other deviant behavior that conservatives believe we can be so easily nudged into by men in tights with hair-extenstions.

I hope someday that Pinkerton's kids will become fans of bands like Sabbath, Gwar, Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza, Every Time I Die, and An*l C*nt. Oh the horror!!

Merry XXX-mas all!!

uncle ebeneezer
12-26-2007, 06:48 PM
This reaction to Pinkerton, is one of the reasons I love Corn:

http://www.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7553?in=00:31:21

garbagecowboy
12-27-2007, 06:33 PM
I hope someday that Pinkerton's kids will become fans of bands like... Gwar

I too, hope that the world realizes that genius that was Gwar, and realize that they were not just some gimmicky hard-metal act.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWRKlNlRsgI

TwinSwords
12-27-2007, 09:46 PM
He was in a sense "Swiftboated" by Gore a few days before the election by the drunken driving story.
Wow, you have some news you'd like to break here in the humble BHTV forum? Maybe you should call Fox News with your stunning claim that Gore was behind the Bush drunk driving story.

What's that? You just made that up and have no evidence for it?

I should have known.

uncle ebeneezer
12-28-2007, 08:10 PM
Nice! I applaud Joan for having the balls to actually book Gwar on her show (no wonder her show didn't last). They should have sprayed her with fake semen like they do to fans at their shows.

Check out vids of Bad Luck 13 on youtube (I won't link them here since Bob likes to keep this a somewhat family-oriented sight). They're totally whacked and downright frightening in some ways. The bass player used to hang out at my house in college (I lived with hardcore punk dudes). They're abit too close to the hate/Nazi scene for my tastes, but they're certainly ineteresting visually in a "train-wreck" fashion.

Also if you like goof-music ala Gwar, check out the Eletcric 6. They're pretty damn funny.