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Bloggingheads
12-21-2007, 11:25 AM

Joel_Cairo
12-21-2007, 12:17 PM
Good god, why is Rosa being forced to put up with this? Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly are this gossip columnist/cook-book author's qualifications to speak on any of these issues, other than having watched lots and lots and lots of Fox News? What kind of serious person actually says this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:15:03)??

InJapan
12-21-2007, 12:52 PM
Does Rosa really believe that in the history of American warfare, and by that I mean covert as well as overt operations, as well as "cold" wars, that nothing worse than "waterboarding" happened (intentionally and not by accident)? Rosa's objections appear to me as being extremely unbalanced .

She is, frankly, swallowing a camel while straining on a gnat. She mentions approvingly about how militarily strong America has been (and must remain being) because people out there doesn't like us... and thus we won wars. So, by her measure, vaporizing a couple of Japanese cities and leaving tens of thousands to die of radiation was fine, but scaring a handful of terrorists by making them think they are going to drown is horrible, just horrible...

Rosa and some like-minded have had the luxury to specialize in jots and tittles for so long that they no longer can measure the world for the coarseness that is demonstrated year in and year out, across the globe, century after century. The US is part of this world and our history is full of examples where we have had to (or thought we had to) hand out harsh treatment, to overcome enemies (as perceived) and to succeed.

I offer that as the "grown-up" view of the world, vice Rosa's.

Surcam
12-21-2007, 01:45 PM
Ok, I wanted to get an early comment in here in an effort to head off the inevitable Hays hate that's going to kick off. Yes I vehemently disagree with much of what she's saying here, especially in regards to torture. But I very much appreciate her honesty here, and I think all of you should too, because many Americans feel the same way she does. We need to engage it head on, not trash it with ad hominem attacks and demand it be banished from discussion. Because the viewpoint is very much out there, whether you see it on BH.TV or not. I for one want to see it and deal with it.

Thank you Miss Hays and Miss Brooks, I enjoyed this one.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 01:54 PM
Joel:

What kind of serious person actually says this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:15:03)??

The same sort of person who thinks George W. Bush is the ultimate adult because seeing things in only in black and white is the best measure of maturity.

Except for Charlotte's views on Mike Huckabee, I don't think it would be possible to construct a person with viewpoints more diametrically opposed to mine. And you're absolutely right: she sounds exactly like someone who has gotten all of her information from Fox News for the past decade. Rosa deserves congratulations for not just erupting in laughter at the vacuousness of Charlotte's thinking. She also deserves to be paired with someone possessing more intellectual chops. Are there really so few intelligent conservatives willing to appear on BH.tv?

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 02:03 PM
Surcam:

But I very much appreciate her honesty here, and I think all of you should too, because many Americans feel the same way she does.

I don't deny that Charlotte capably parroted the talking points that superficially summarize the outlook of a portion of our population, and I do agree that it's good to hear from that group. But please. Let's hear from someone who actually sounds capable of independent thought. She's the righty equivalent of some random peacenik college sophomore spouting nothing but what he or she has learned from an exclusive diet of Air America and Democracy Underground. I seriously doubt you, or any other conservative viewer, would have any patience for that. Speaking as a lefty, I know I wouldn't.

garbagecowboy
12-21-2007, 02:10 PM
I also wanted to chime in here and say that while most of the people here will think Mis. Hays either evil, or horrible, or what she is saying unconscionable, I would like to say that some of what Rosa says strikes me as patently naive and ridiculous. For instance, where she says that there is really no categorical difference between waterboarding and rape or murder (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:36:30).

I would argue that both Ms. Hays and Rosa are wrong; I suppose it makes me something of a moral relativist, but I think that while both waterboarding, rape and murder are somewhat "intrinsically evil," that pure utilitarian calculation in terms of terrorism could render any one of the three possibly necessary, and morally acceptable.

First of all, I don't know what Rosa is saying about the Salem Witch Trials, but making someone think they are drowning and then not actually drowning them in order to extract information from someone is not in the same ballpark as killing someone, or raping them, or tearing their fingernails out. Not in the same ballpark, not even in the same league. As nice as it would be to be able to play fair and follow the Constitution with terrorist suspects we pick up on foreign battlefields trying to kill American soldiers or alien terrorists who we pick up plotting to come to America and kill American civilians, the stakes are simply too high to categorically ban torture, especially if the torture is the kind that we have heard about: "torture" that causes emotional duress and temporary physical pain such as stress positions, waterboarding, denial of sleep, etc.

Second of all, I just can't appreciate why we need to think that the terrorist threat is an existential threat as great as Nazi Germany in order to make a decision not to treat terrorist suspects with kit gloves. Our mandate is not just to be "better than they are," it is to crush the terrorist threat and to prevent a 9/11 from happening again. I do not see the fundamental conflict between American values and torturing terrorist suspects in extraordinary circumstances. What the CIA does with guys picked up with a cache of explosives, or with concrete evidence that they are planning or have carried out terrorist acts is not the equivalent of what we do to drug dealers arrested on American streets. Take, for instance, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed; he probably was tortured (if not by waterboarding, then by seriously screwing with his sense of time, place, denying him food, depriving him sleep, going through a hell of a lot that nobody would want to go through). I don't see anything wrong with this.

Now, the question of whether we can get any real information is separate, but I tend to think that the idea that torture never yields real intelligence when applied to people who happen to have real pieces of intelligence is simply untrue, and forwarded as a separate rationale by people who wouldn't support torture of terrorist suspects even if it did work. As Rosa says "you can never leave aside the moral issues." Indeed. And I think that the moral issues are not a sufficient reason to deny interrogators this tool in their arsenal to prevent attacks on America.

P.S. As to Rosa defining adulthood as being able to see shades of nuance, how does she reconcile this as to what I see as her thinking that any form of interrogation of terrorist suspects that goes beyond asking them questions over and over again or making them listen to "Panama" on repeat (actually, that might be beyond the pale for her) is a non black and white up or down stance? Isn't saying that torture (even in the form of inflicting mostly emotional distress as opposed to causing long-term physical injury) is categorically wrong and can never be justified, or that at least against the terrorists in the world as they currently exist, a black and white stance that doesn't allow in shades of nuance, such as how confident we are that they have intelligence or the potential magnitude of intelligence that we suspect we have but are not sure about?

Joel_Cairo
12-21-2007, 02:32 PM
But I very much appreciate her honesty here, and I think all of you should too, because many Americans feel the same way she does. We need to engage it head on, not trash it with ad hominem attacks and demand it be banished from discussion.

Lots of Americans aslo, apparently, think voting for American Idol is a higher priority than voting for president. Should we give them a platform too?

Look, my problem is not with her position. Broadly speaking, hers are pretty similar to Eli Lake's, whose contributions I consider valuable and reasoned even when I disagree. My issue is that Ms. Hays contributes nothing new here whatsoever. All she does is parrot, verbatim, what she hears from the mouth-breathers on cable news. She's not addressing anything head-on, she's regurgitating what she's been spoon-fed. Do NewsCorp's memes, frames and positions really need more exposure? I come to BhTV to escape that kind of facile argumentation, I don't see why Bob should be compelled to lend it more oxygen.

and I'd appreciate if you didn't lecture me on what I should and should not appreciate. If I think Ms. Hays is a waste of bandwidth, I'll say so.

k thx bye.

Joel_Cairo
12-21-2007, 02:39 PM
The same sort of person who thinks George W. Bush is the ultimate adult because seeing things in only in black and white is the best measure of maturity.

yeah, that was tough to take. If it were not for my personal commitment to watch every BhTV episode in its entirety, I would surely have turned it off right about there. Is Ms. Hays' claim-to-attention that she birthed Sean Hannity maybe?

Are there really so few intelligent conservatives willing to appear on BH.tv?

There's plenty (you got your Pinkertons, your Ponnurus, your Douthats, etc, etc). Some might call Drezner a conservative; some might call Lake or York intelligent. The real question, after Rosa's recent pairing with "Glodberg", is why BhTV is always saddling her with these bush-league intellects. It's like watching an hour of baby-sitting.

Surcam
12-21-2007, 02:47 PM
I seriously doubt you, or any other conservative viewer

I'm far from conservative homie, but I take your point.

and I'd appreciate if you didn't lecture me on what I should and should not appreciate. If I think Ms. Hays is a waste of bandwidth, I'll say so.

The fact that you ended this with "k thx bye" says all I need to know about you buddy. (Sorry, you were an ass, had to respond in kind.)

As far as "lecture", I appreciate my ability to type what I think here, just as I appreciate yours.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 03:28 PM
Joel:

If it were not for my personal commitment to watch every BhTV episode in its entirety ...

You're a better man than I. I have sworn off Ann Althouse forever, and I only watch Megan McArdle if I'm interested in the other person. I'd probably banish Rod Dreher to this category, too, except his usual partner, Amy Sullivan, is not intolerable.

There's plenty [of few intelligent conservatives willing to appear on BH.tv] (you got your Pinkertons, your Ponnurus, your Douthats, etc, etc). Some might call Drezner a conservative; some might call Lake or York intelligent. The real question, after Rosa's recent pairing with "Glodberg", is why BhTV is always saddling her with these bush-league intellects. It's like watching an hour of baby-sitting.

I disagree with "plenty," but it's my fault for not making myself more clear -- I did mean someone credible from the right to appear opposite Rosa. The problem is not an absolute lack. It's just a shortage -- there seem to be more intelligent lefties willing to appear on BH.tv than there are willing and intelligent righties to go around. All of the righties you listed are people I like to listen to, even if I don't agree with them. I'm just saying I wish there were more like them.

I call on the conservative commenters to nominate better candidates than Charlotte.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 03:30 PM
Surcam:

I'm far from conservative homie ...

Sorry for mischaracterizing your political leanings, and if I offended you by said action, I doubly apologize.

TwinSwords
12-21-2007, 03:42 PM
When I was looking through the list of past diavloggers (when I was creating the "Best Blogginghead" poll), I was surprised by how many conservatives have diavlogged on BHTV. It always seemed like there were fewer of them.

I wonder if part of the reason it feels like conservatives are underrepresented is because there are no conservative flamethrowers, like the kind that dominate cable news. Have we come to associate conservatism with rage-filled flame throwing?

Haven't the conservative commenters said they feel underrepresented? Maybe conservative participants don't register as conservative at the brain stem if there isn't a lot of screaming, interruption, and accusations of treason -- delivered with standard conservative unbridled rage.

Bob may issues sedatives to the conservative participant which they must consume prior to taping. Is this why Bob insists each episode not exceed an hour? Is Bob afraid the meds will wear off and the conservatives will begin acting like Sean Hannity? ;)

garbagecowboy
12-21-2007, 04:11 PM
Haven't the conservative commenters said they feel underrepresented? Maybe conservative participants don't register as conservative at the brain stem if there isn't a lot of screaming, interruption, and accusations of treason -- delivered with standard conservative unbridled rage.


I am one of those conservative commenters. But I meant it about the comments section itself, not in the actual diavlogs. Also, I would say (not that I particularly care, since my political views skew libertarian) that most of the conservative diavlog participants skew towards the libertarian side of the conservative spectrum. This may be a function of the blogosphere, in general, however. Most of the paleo-con blogs I can think of off hand tend to deal with issues like foreign policy and immigration; I don't know of many huge conservative blogs that tend to both have and focus on social issues.

That said I think Bob has done a rather good job recruiting those whose political views differ from his own with regard to diavlog participants.

SPEEDTHRILLS
12-21-2007, 04:21 PM
Ferrari vs. Yugo Edition

this is your brain on Fox News....

Next up...the Ezra Klein / K-Fed diavlog

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 04:46 PM
Speed:

Nice!

semiarchly
12-21-2007, 05:01 PM
Dear Bob Wright,

Congratulations on your Charlotte Hayes, your new Fox News Talking Points Robot!

I made it to about minute 15. Seriously, this is an insult to your audience.

If you're going to have morons on you ought have them debate honest people from their own side. I bet Jim Pinkerton could set this idiot straight.

breadcrust
12-21-2007, 05:10 PM
As I listened to Charlotte Hays' discourse on multi-culti-ness this song from Wonder Showzen played as background: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xBq6Ry6Eew

breadcrust
12-21-2007, 05:32 PM
Usually R. Brooks is so good at slapping down (R) talking points. Why did she not contextualize Hays' statement about Pelosi in Syria by mentioning these facts written in: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,264334,00.html

A group of three Republican congressmen also visited Syria in recent days, but with a much lower profile. They too met with Assad. One staff member, however, said the two trips were planned independently and the Republicans were unaware of the speaker's travel plans.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., issued a statement Wednesday putting distance between his trip with Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. Other Republicans visiting Syria in recent days were Reps. David Hobson of Ohio and Darrell Issa of California.

That's a lot of traitorous (R) diplomatting at the same time as Pelosi's. The best part is that the "with a much lower profile" was the case because FOX News and similar truth mavens were the ones who made Pelosi's trip so much higher profile.

When (R)'s say that Bush's foreign policy is wiser than Clinton's because we've gone for six years without being attacked in the U.S., the correct response is that we went for eight years after the original Towers bombing with Clinton's cheaper approach. If years without attack on the U.S. is the success-metric, than the question is, do (R)'s think that six is a bigger number than eight? Bush's term has felt like 12 or 13 years to me, but I didn't know (R)'s felt the same time distortion.

Namazu
12-21-2007, 05:42 PM
I wonder if part of the reason it feels like conservatives are underrepresented is because there are no conservative flamethrowers, like the kind that dominate cable news.
I don't have the sense that conservatives are underrepresented on bhtv--if anything, bhtv has introduced me to a number I'd never heard of. I'm not one myself, but since I acknowledge liberal bias in the mainstream media, I think I'm sensitive to the issue. I also read enough Instapundit, Pajamas Media, Hugh Hewitt, and National Review to know that the conservatives are good at distinguishing between intellectuals, activists, and entertainers. This is because the Republican Party and the Conservative movement are still ideological constructs--i.e. they are based on ideas which they actually debate (and which may determine whether these constructs survive the primaries). Rarely have I come across a serious discussion about the latest pronouncement from O'Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, or Limbaugh. Since I don't watch TV news or listen to drive-time radio, reading only the top layer of the conservative blogosphere provides only a vague idea of what these people think. They may be intellectual giants for all I know, but they're at best tangential to the topics bhtv covers. There may be marginal cases: Michelle Malkin comes to mind. She's an activist and a partisan flame-thrower, but she's also smart and serious (and sometimes very funny). Having her on might make it hard for Bob to respect himself in the morning, but I bet she would give him a ratings spike.

Trevor
12-21-2007, 05:42 PM
I do not see the fundamental conflict between American values and torturing terrorist suspects in extraordinary circumstances.

"In extraordinary circumstances" is doing a lot of work there, and I got the impression that for several credible readings of it Brooks wouldn't even disagree with you. I took her position to be:

(1) It is possible to imagine circumstances under which torture is the right thing to do.
(2) However, having a policy that explicitly sanctions torture will lead to its widespread over-use, to our strategic detriment.
(3) Therefore, torture should be illegal in all cases, and we should rely on other pre-existing procedural safeguards to exonerate Americans when they've tortured someone but it was the right thing to do.

Hayes' only response is paranoia - surely the torturers will be found guilty, because of all those America-hating lefties in charge of the entire justice system. She thinks they will be treated more harshly than the pointlessly cruel soldiers at Abu Graib, who received slaps on the wrist for actions even she finds indefensible.

Back in the real world, prosecutorial discretion, jury nullification, and executive pardons are all very real, and anyone who thinks a person who tortured a terrorist to stop another 9/11 is going to prison has been drinking way too much wingnut Kool-Aid.

bjkeefe
12-21-2007, 05:51 PM
Trevor:

Very well said, including an accurate summary of Rosa's stance.

And Charlotte's, too, for that matter. Not that it matters.

Trevor
12-21-2007, 05:55 PM
Also, I would say (not that I particularly care, since my political views skew libertarian) that most of the conservative diavlog participants skew towards the libertarian side of the conservative spectrum. This may be a function of the blogosphere, in general, however. Most of the paleo-con blogs I can think of off hand tend to deal with issues like foreign policy and immigration; I don't know of many huge conservative blogs that tend to both have and focus on social issues.

This sounds right to me. And because the topics on Bloggingheads track discussions on the blogs generally, even when you have a conservative on with orthodox views on social values, the conversation doesn't touch them. You don't see Ross Douthat, for example, talking a lot about family values on bh.tv. Even in this episode, I think Hayes might actually have much to say about family values and sexuality, but since Rosa seemed to agree with her at the places where it came up, the discussion never got off the ground. Maybe what's needed are some diavlogs between genuine scolds and genuine libertines. Maybe Hayes wants to argue with Julian Sanchez about Britney Spears or something.

Joel_Cairo
12-21-2007, 06:04 PM
Trevor:

Very well said

cosigned,
J_C

somerandomdude
12-21-2007, 06:06 PM
Answer: yes!

I can't believe the great Rosa Brooks has to listen to this buffoon. Hays is an authoritarian cultist and a true Bush dead-ender. Rosa you shouldn't have to waste your breath with someone who worships Dear Leader.

Namazu
12-21-2007, 06:19 PM
we went for eight years after the original Towers bombing with Clinton's cheaper approach
The '95 bombing in Saudi Arabia, the two African embassy bombings and the attack on the Cole: were they attacks on the United States (as you understood it at the time)? Do you think the United States' tepid response emboldened the enemy to plan the 9/11 attacks? Al Qaeda's thinking on the matter is quite clear. Don't expect mille-feuille for breadcrust prices.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_qaeda#1995-2000_fatwa_declarations_and_bomb_attacks

breadcrust
12-21-2007, 07:05 PM
Namazu,

The '95 bombing in Saudi Arabia, the two African embassy bombings and the attack on the Cole: were they attacks on the United States (as you understood it at the time)?

WTC1(C)
Saudi Arabia
Tanzania
Kenya
Yemen

WTC2(B)
Iraq

So with your mind-set, the U.S. was attacked post-WTC1 when Clinton was president even though it wasn't on the US proper and was against both military (Cole, etc.) and civilian groups. However, the attacks against US diplomats, contractors, and military in Iraq don't count as attacks against the US post-WTC2. Bombings of the protected US territory (Green Zone) don't count. I'm sure that attacks on the US embassy there won't count either. Maybe we should tally US body counts in these separate (foreign) places. Maybe that will make Bush's totals look better than Clinton's... oops, guess not.

So that's super convenient. You somehow separate in your mind these very similar attacks based on who the president was at the time. I don't. Both post-WTC attacks have been followed with periods of relative peace in the US. One period lasted eight years. One lasted six. You think this is a sign that Bush has done a better job protecting the "Homeland" than Clinton.


Do you think the United States' tepid response emboldened the enemy to plan the 9/11 attacks? Al Qaeda's thinking on the matter is quite clear.

So when Al Qaeda tells you what they think, you believe them? Just because they print manifestos doesn't mean you should take everything you read to heart. Al Qaeda claimed to be cranky about US troops in Saudi Arabia. Maybe you approve of this old Bush action: http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030430-psab01.htm

Namazu
12-21-2007, 09:30 PM
breadcrust:

You have lots of ideas about what you think I think which have nothing to do with what I've said. I have no interest in your counting game: if you want to make some technical mathematical comparison, knock yourself out. My simple point is that the Al Qaeda's attacks of the '90s were harbingers of 9/11: they provided training, motivation, encouragement, and a warning to anyone paying close enough attention. This is not a partisan observation: most people across the political spectrum underreacted. Maybe you disagree, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

Namazu
12-21-2007, 09:46 PM
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:36:30

Hmmm....Waterboard the prisoner, rape his wife, or kill his child? Decisions decisions. Let me be clear: I don't think Rosa is this stupid, or at least wasn't. Perhaps the pressures of writing a dumb and derivative column for the LAT kicks her brain into low gear. The whole conversation (both sides) is almost Huckabee-esque in its intellectual level.

cragger
12-21-2007, 10:47 PM
Good grief.

Having tried the apparantly more juvenile approach of dealing with the specific substance of a diavlog, I am elightened to realize the adult view that its all black and white.

Given this new clarity I surmise that while Rosa enjoyed toying with Jonah and showing the sillyness of some of his views in her last appearance, in this case it would be too much like beating up a 6 year old. As Rollins says, "yeah its satisfying but you wouldn't want to make a habit of it".

This has to go down with the famous "its all about breasts" diavlog as the most pathetic and shallow set of arguments since listening to folks half dead from alcohol poisoning in a freshman dorm.

breadcrust
12-21-2007, 10:48 PM
... if you want to make some technical mathematical comparison, knock yourself out. My simple point is that the Al Qaeda's attacks of the '90s were harbingers of 9/11: they provided training, motivation, encouragement, and a warning to anyone paying close enough attention.

My comment to which you responded was about Hays' claim that the dirth of post-WTC2 terrorist attacks on the US was a sign that Bush's foreign policy was good. I don't think the two things are necessarily linked, but it invited an obvious comparison with Clinton's very similar situation. You're the one who claimed that off-US attacks were attacks against the US (which seemed to me to mean you disagree with my assertion that Hays is talking nonsense):
The '95 bombing in Saudi Arabia, the two African embassy bombings and the attack on the Cole: were they attacks on the United States?
My response that if you count off-US attacks in the calculus of our safety, then it's obvious that Bush's record is much worse than Clinton's. Much, much worse.

This is important because Clinton's approach (and some say the reasonable approach) was to focus on actual terrorist threats and to be careful about losing US life. And not to spend a trillion or more on the pipe-dream of using a too-small batch of US troops to force a bunch of tribalists to start acting like democrats. Why didn't you just deride Hays' statement that Bush's foreign policy led to unexpected safety at home? Then you could talk about harbingers, portents, and auguries without seeming like you agree with her.

Simon Willard
12-21-2007, 11:12 PM
It is with great trepidation that I step into the fray to support the use of harsh interrogation. I could repeat the utilitarian arguments, but everyone knows them and I want to make a different point.

In practice, rules are never permanent. We can adopt rules of law, policy or morality, but history shows that they easily break when circumstances change.

Remember how people overreacted in the wake of 9/11? If a major attack ever comes, we can anticipate an even stronger reaction. Laws go out the window, either by neglect or by overt legislative reversal. Morality melts and is recast into unrecognizable forms. This happens by popular demand.

The best rules keep us rooted in what is precious while withstanding the vicissitudes of history. They bend and sway, like trees in the wind, but do not topple. By contrast, rules that are hard and fast and precise do not survive. They are brittle and break under pressure.

We should look with suspicion on hard rules like "we must never, ever waterboard". These rules are not important or useful. They are brittle, and when they break, their failure cheapens our word and casts dishonor on our entire enterprise. Instead, we should attend to the broader goal of building a robust society where the multitudes generally enjoy human rights beyond anything known to history.

This is not to argue for the explicit legalization of waterboarding. The argument is that in different situations, people will make different judgments about how to interpret the word "torture". Note that it is Rosa who acknowledges the need for this flexibility:
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:37:57&out=00:38:37

We should not forget that the US administration denies the use of torture. Words matter, so this is a salient point. I do not regard this to be a lie, although one can argue that the law against torture has been bent a little.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-22-2007, 01:00 AM
[QUOTE]I would argue that both Ms. Hays and Rosa are wrong; I suppose it makes me something of a moral relativist, but I think that while both waterboarding, rape and murder are somewhat "intrinsically evil," that pure utilitarian calculation in terms of terrorism could render any one of the three possibly necessary, and morally acceptable.

Utilitarians need not be relativists, though they can be. Utilitarians like every sane moral theorist recognize that what is right is dependent upon ("relative to") circumstance. But that is quite different from saying that what is right is relative to the moral standards that you or your society happen to believe. A utilitarian can be an objectivist (or "absolutist"), saying that utilitarianism is the one objectively true moral principle, or a utilitarian can be a relativist, saying that there is no objective right or wrong, but "utilitarianism is right for me". One day, everyone on this board will understand this distinction or I will have died trying.

More relevantly to your main point, the problem with at least fairly simple versions of utilitarianism is precisely that they seem to justify way too much, given the right (or the wrong) circumstances: televised gladiatorial games using a very small number of unwilling gladiators could conceivably be justified by utilitarianism; framing an innocent man to prevent a race riot could be justified by certain versions of utilitarianism. Many utilitarians recognize that the extreme moral flexibility of utilitarianism is a prima facie problem for their theory. A few will say that we really ought to frame the innocent man or hold those gladiatorial games, but most will try to find reasons why their theory isn't really committed to quite such flexibility in the actual world. If the theory is corrected so as not to allow these problematic cases, it becomes FAR less clear that it will justify torture except in very extreme cases.


First of all, I don't know what Rosa is saying about the Salem Witch Trials, but making someone think they are drowning and then not actually drowning them in order to extract information from someone is not in the same ballpark as killing someone, or raping them, or tearing their fingernails out. Not in the same ballpark, not even in the same league. As nice as it would be to be able to play fair and follow the Constitution with terrorist suspects we pick up on foreign battlefields trying to kill American soldiers or alien terrorists who we pick up plotting to come to America and kill American civilians, the stakes are simply too high to categorically ban torture, especially if the torture is the kind that we have heard about: "torture" that causes emotional duress and temporary physical pain such as stress positions, waterboarding, denial of sleep, etc.

A.If trying to just head off death in battle for some of our soldiers is good enough reason to torture, it seems that you have set the bar extremely low. Why not torture to convict rapists and murderers ?-- they don't just attack soldiers -- they attack defenseless civilians!
B. You are going too far in minimizing the suffering that these things can cause just because they don't leave a permanent mark. Torturers going back to the inquisition, Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia have been fond of the methods you cite precisely because they don't leave permanent marks. Many of these methods -- "waterboarding" once known as "water torture" is one of the paradigm instances of torture -- the US has prosecuted its own soldiers for such torture all the way back to TR's time at least.
If an Iranian did this to an American, would it be torture THEN?

Second of all, I just can't appreciate why we need to think that the terrorist threat is an existential threat as great as Nazi Germany in order to make a decision not to treat terrorist suspects with kit gloves.

If not torturing is "treating with kid gloves", then the reason is simply that we didn't do it back then, so why should we abandon our principles for a lesser threat? In fact, we basically prosecuted Germans for war crimes what Bush now wants us to do all over the place.

Our mandate is not just to be "better than they are," it is to crush the terrorist threat and to prevent a 9/11 from happening again. I do not see the fundamental conflict between American values and torturing terrorist suspects in extraordinary circumstances.

"extraordinary circumstances"? But see above! You were willing to torture just to save a few soldiers' lives. Soldiers are ORDINARILY in danger. You yourself have already slid way down the slippery slope to torturing in pretty ordinary circumstances.

What the CIA does with guys picked up with a cache of explosives, or with concrete evidence that they are planning or have carried out terrorist acts is not the equivalent of what we do to drug dealers arrested on American streets. Take, for instance, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed; he probably was tortured (if not by waterboarding, then by seriously screwing with his sense of time, place, denying him food, depriving him sleep, going through a hell of a lot that nobody would want to go through). I don't see anything wrong with this.

Why not? Is it OK to do that to him even if you know he has no actionable intelligence whatsoever, but just because it would feel good? Based only on what you say, it rather sounds like that would be enough. In what circumstances exactly do you think it would not be wrong? Is it a matter of how many people he has killed in the past? Or is it only all right to torture to prevent future harm? Does he have to be a "terrorist" or can he just be Jeffrey Dahmer? Is the difference number of people killed or who will be killed? Do the people threatened have to be civilians? (Blowing up soldiers is not terrorism). You need to draw some kind of line (and have some kind of justification for it) or you'll be justifying torture everywhere life and death are concerned -- and not only by our people, but by the other side as well.
You want to "liberalize" our torture policy so that we employ it sometimes rather than never -- fine, so where exactly do you draw your more permissive line? Don't just use vague terms like "terrorist" without defining it either.

Now, the question of whether we can get any real information is separate, but I tend to think that the idea that torture never yields real intelligence when applied to people who happen to have real pieces of intelligence is simply untrue, and forwarded as a separate rationale by people who wouldn't support torture of terrorist suspects even if it did work.

This is kind of a parody of the actual claim, which is that torture is UNRELIABLE. As an economic libertarian, you are probably aware of the argument that free trade is good, but that people rarely see this because the benefits are diffuse and the harms are very identifiable. A similar problem arises (only the other way around) with respect to the "benefits" of torture. Maybe you do get some helpful information sometimes, but precisely because it is so unreliable, you'll chase down a lot of blind alleys as well (many of which may be quite bad -- eg. torturing innocent other people fingered by your terrorist). These may not stand out as much for you as the time you got the bad guy as a result of torture, but they are costs nevertheless. The question isn't whether "torture could work" in some individual instance. The question is whether a policy of torture will have more costs (even for us) than a policy of getting information by other means.

Sorry if I'm duplicating points raised by others -- I just jumped right in after reading your post. It's a topic I have strong feelings about and I couldn't resist.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-22-2007, 01:09 AM
Good god, why is Rosa being forced to put up with this? Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly are this gossip columnist/cook-book author's qualifications to speak on any of these issues, other than having watched lots and lots and lots of Fox News? What kind of serious person actually says this (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:15:03)?? I really try not to be petty toward those I disagree with, but Charlotte comes off as a total idiot and fails to articulate a single fully-formed idea in this whole episode that couldn't have been plagiarized from a republican primary TV ad.

I don't have a problem with diavloggers who have no overt "qualifications" -- but I agree with your sentiments if we put this aside. Charlotte just didn't seem able to attack anything but a straw man (just like her hero Bush). "We can't negotiate with those people -- they won't be our friends." Is a good sample of her style of thinking. Unfortunately, it seems as though an awful lot of American voters (left and right) think no more clearly or deeply than that.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-22-2007, 01:55 AM
Oh my GOD! This really is fine moral reflection here -- worthy of Jesus himself!:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:58:29&out58:53

If it's so bad that no one should witness it, then the perpetrators themselves should not witness it. Therefore they shouldn't do it, Charlotte, dear!

Of course, if I murder someone, I suppose I would have equally tender feelings about the jury's delicate sensibilities should they be presented with a video of my crime.

Charlotte's moral thought is thoroughly corrupt at this point: the fear of being caught and the shame of having one's crime witnessed are being dressed up (sickeningly) in the robes of humanity and justice.

Charlotte should include herself in the complaint about the lack of grown ups -- I'm afraid she still believes that good and evil all depend on whether your hat is white or black. THAT is a childish view if I ever heard one.

Bloggin' Noggin
12-22-2007, 02:44 AM
[QUOTE]It is with great trepidation that I step into the fray to support the use of harsh interrogation. I could repeat the utilitarian arguments, but everyone knows them and I want to make a different point.

In practice, rules are never permanent. We can adopt rules of law, policy or morality, but history shows that they easily break when circumstances change.

Remember how people overreacted in the wake of 9/11? If a major attack ever comes, we can anticipate an even stronger reaction. Laws go out the window, either by neglect or by overt legislative reversal. Morality melts and is recast into unrecognizable forms. This happens by popular demand.
This seems not to distinguish between two totally different things: A) when people justifiedly respond to a change in circumstance, and B) When their cowardice makes them decide that something is OK for them that they didn't think (and really still don't think) is OK for anyone else. Your example is explicitly of an "OVERreaction", yet you somehow seem to conclude that the rules OUGHT to change.
Anyway, if circumstances are so different now, how are they so much worse or different from those other times when we faced peril and yet didn't allow ourselves to redefine "torture" as we pleased? Nazi Germany and the USSR were far more dangerous than al Qaeda.

The best rules keep us rooted in what is precious while withstanding the vicissitudes of history. They bend and sway, like trees in the wind, but do not topple. By contrast, rules that are hard and fast and precise do not survive. They are brittle and break under pressure.

Lovely, Grasshopper! But what the f--hell does it mean? Rather than these lyrical flights, I'd like some specifics -- e.g., an answer to that last question I raised. Why are these times so very different from any other time we were tempted to use Sauron's ring to prevent an even worse evil? Flights of beautiful abstraction like that above that float free of real people and real particulars have my vote for "root of all evil."

We should look with suspicion on hard rules like "we must never, ever waterboard". These rules are not important or useful. They are brittle, and when they break, their failure cheapens our word and casts dishonor on our entire enterprise. Instead, we should attend to the broader goal of building a robust society where the multitudes generally enjoy human rights beyond anything known to history.

But you were just talking about people "OVERreacting". Moral principles are supposed to keep us grounded, keep us from overreacting. If they're going to do that, then they can't be so very flexible and "do-what-feels right-in-the-moment" as you seem to want. I'm not sure anyone said "one must never ever waterboard". There are conceivable circumstances where a pretty good case could be made. But I don't think we've come close yet.

This is not to argue for the explicit legalization of waterboarding. The argument is that in different situations, people will make different judgments about how to interpret the word "torture".
How very Orwellian of you, Simon.
Let's just admit that it is torture. Perhaps torture is justified, but if waterboarding was torture under the inquisition, then it doesn't change its nature just because the US is now doing it.

This is really the central problem. The fact that circumstances matter to morality doesn't get you out of being CONSISTENT. Yes morality varies with circumstance, but it isn't morality at all if it isn't principled. You don't just get to "sway" in those lovely tropical breezes as far as you like. You have to be willing to accept that if you say "torture is OK for us now in these circumstances", then if someone else were in those same circumstances, they would have just the same right to torture YOU (or your soldiers).

DenvilleSteve
12-22-2007, 02:54 AM
Charlotte just didn't seem able to attack anything but a straw man (just like her hero Bush). "We can't negotiate with those people -- they won't be our friends." Is a good sample of her style of thinking.

Just how should America negotiate with Iran? Should it agree to allow the Iranians to assassinate half the number of politicians in the struggling democracies of Lebanon and Iraq as it is doing now - in exchange for the US lifting the banking sanctions against Iran?

somerandomdude
12-22-2007, 03:38 AM
Hays is just an astonishingly bad person. Now I'm watching the part where she's pretending to care about womens' rights in the Muslim world. This is an easy one: Bush cultists like Hays only care about Muslim womens' rights to the extent that it can be used as a reason to bomb the shit out of them and invade their countries. That's all it is.

Also, question for the BHTV community: who's worse - Hays or Eli Lake? I can't decide!

somerandomdude
12-22-2007, 03:48 AM
God I hate Hays. She has a heart full of sorrow and regret, but we simply MUST torture the shit out of brown people we capture and then destroy the videotaped evidence. Oh, if only there were some way we didn't have to torture the shit out of them and then destroy the evidence! If only! But unfortunately, there is no other way, and we must do it. Oh unjust world!

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 05:12 AM
srd:

I agree with you about the nauseating aspect of Charlotte's "more in sorrow than in anger" attitude about torture.

As to your earlier question, I think she's far worse than Eli Lake. Eli often puts forth ideas I find appalling, but at least he shows evidence of having thought these ideas through for himself. Charlotte didn't do anything that entire hour except repeat talking points, except for the surprisingly nuanced view she gave of Huckabee.

Another thing that makes Charlotte worse than Eli is that I don't think Eli would agree with Charlotte's howler that seeing things in only black and white makes one more mature, and hence, GWB is the most mature man on the planet.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 05:24 AM
Simon:

BN has already said a lot of what I would have said (thanks, BN -- good to see you posting again!), so I'll just add one more thought.

I understand the principle you're talking about, that there needs to be some flexibility. I suggest that such flexibility already exists in a system of law that bans torture absolutely. That flexibility comes from the process of investigating, trying, and punishing the accused offender, in two ways.

First, if by some wildly improbably stroke of fate, life imitates 24 and we have a true ticking bomb scenario, a torturer who gets the information necessary to prevent the explosion is -- let's admit it -- not going to get in trouble.

Second, in a situation like the early days after 9/11, the reality of the circumstances will doubtless weigh heavily on the minds of those evaluating the cases of torture. There is going to be some sympathy for the people who were under enormous pressure to determine if following attacks were looming.

It might sound like there is some sense of hypocrisy at play here, but I've thought about this approach for a long time, and I'm pretty intolerant of hypocrisy. I've concluded that it's not hypocritical to acknowledge the likelihood of sliding scales of punishment for torture. As with any other crime, there can be extenuating circumstances.

The problem with making torture legal "sometimes" is two-fold: How do you define, precisely, the acceptable circumstances, and how do you stop the inevitable spread in usage? It seems to me that it's best to state unequivocally that torture is illegal and leave it up to the individual interrogators to decide if they're willing to risk punishment for their actions.

donroberto
12-22-2007, 05:41 AM
In ascending order of severity according to the King James I scale (http://harpers.org/archive/2007/12/hbc-90001917): thumbscrews, the rack, waterboarding, Charlotte Hays.

dmargolis
12-22-2007, 05:58 AM
yeah - i couldn't stick with this one either... hays is too misinformed. she made a big mistake by announcing her love of gossip before she delved into her political views. it undermines any viewers' expectations that her contentions might be logically sound.

aarrgghh
12-22-2007, 09:07 AM
In ascending order of severity according to the King James I scale (http://harpers.org/archive/2007/12/hbc-90001917): thumbscrews, the rack, waterboarding, Charlotte Hays.

you forgot the ultimate torture, worse than hays: the presidency of bush 43.

and to think it was all self-inflicted!

Simon Willard
12-22-2007, 09:16 AM
It seems to me that it's best to state unequivocally that torture is illegal and leave it up to the individual interrogators to decide if they're willing to risk punishment for their actions.
I am comfortable with this, and I think this is what Rosa is saying in the quote I dingalinked. I did not advocate legalization of torture. But we can't define precisely what it is, and probably shouldn't try.

DenvilleSteve
12-22-2007, 10:57 AM
Hays is just an astonishingly bad person. Now I'm watching the part where she's pretending to care about womens' rights in the Muslim world. This is an easy one: Bush cultists like Hays only care about Muslim womens' rights to the extent that it can be used as a reason to bomb the shit out of them and invade their countries. That's all it is.

Also, question for the BHTV community: who's worse - Hays or Eli Lake? I can't decide!

I would listen to what both have to say. Eli is more knowledgable but has Israel too much on his mind. Charlotte Hays speaks for the heartland of America.

What all the democrat critics are not providing are alternatives to the Bush policies. Your also ignoring their effectiveness: no terror attacks, many thwarted, Iraq is stabilizing with much heavy lifting from the Iraqis themselves, Iran has had to reduce the pace of its nuclear weapons program because the removal of the arch enemy Baathists has taken away the prime reason it needed nukes - to counter the acquisition of nukes by Iraq.

-Steve

fredsbreakfast
12-22-2007, 12:06 PM
I'm watching this a second time. I'm trying to understand why some of you commentors believe Rosa Brooks is somehow more qualified than Charlotte Hays to do a diavlog like this one. She seems well qualified to me. It seems to me like all that is required to deal with Rosa's naivety and childish views is some common sense, which Charlotte seems to have in abundance. What makes some of you believe Rosa is somehow so much brighter? She seems here like an overeducated fool.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 12:57 PM
fred:

Have a look at some of Rosa's other diavlogs, if you want to see her in a better light. I remember these as particularly good:

o with Heather Hurlbert: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/315

o with Eli Lake: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/210

Namazu
12-22-2007, 02:28 PM
Why didn't you just deride Hays' statement that Bush's foreign policy led to unexpected safety at home?
Full disclosure: I found the diavlog soporific and wasn't listening closely, so if I artificially inflated our sphere of disagreement, it's my bad. I don't think different sets of historical circumstances can be usefully compared in the way that Hays apparently does. I also think it's difficult to know, without a higher-level security clearance than you or I have, exactly why something really nasty hasn't happened here since 9/11. The Clinton and Bush records need to be excoriated on their own terms. On a higher-minded note, I concur with the Pulitzer committee in recommending both Ghost Wars and The Looming Tower to anyone who hasn't read them. Happy holidays!

allbetsareoff
12-22-2007, 03:57 PM
Charlotte Hays is, I believe, the first Steel Magnolia to make an appearance on bhtv. Judging by the long string of bewildered comments, many viewers are not familiar with the breed. Such strong-willed Southern white women are the arbiters of "values" - men are merely the enforcers - in the least socially enlightened part of this country. ("Steel Magnolias," the book and movie, romanticize them; in real life, they model themselves after the starchy society matrons you see on Victorian-period TV dramas.)

No one should be surprised that Hays' views are reactionary in the extreme. It's not self-parody, either. Don't for a moment doubt her sincerity.

garbagecowboy
12-22-2007, 04:02 PM
This is really the central problem. The fact that circumstances matter to morality doesn't get you out of being CONSISTENT. Yes morality varies with circumstance, but it isn't morality at all if it isn't principled. You don't just get to "sway" in those lovely tropical breezes as far as you like. You have to be willing to accept that if you say "torture is OK for us now in these circumstances", then if someone else were in those same circumstances, they would have just the same right to torture YOU (or your soldiers).

To challenge a couple of your assertions, which are related, I will simply state the following (I don't have time for a blow by blow analysis of your reply to my post):

The threat of Islamic terrorists is not as immediate or grave at the present moment as the USSR or Nazi Germany were. The USSR in particular had the ability to turn the country into a flaming ash-heap.

However, the Islamic terrorists did pull off the largest and most spectacular attack ever perpetrated upon the American mainland. Second of all, the very nature of the terrorist threat differs it from these past threats in that it is not a nation-state. The enemy we are fighting is NOT a soldier. There exists no moral equivalence between what "they " would do to our soldiers and what we do to the terrorists we capture who wear civilians clothing and murder innocent people and soldiers alike. What they wage is not war as imagined by those who wrote the Geneva conventions to protect the rights of soldiers of nation states captured in battle. There is not even a "they" who we can specifically speak of, at least as you would conventionally mean it, presumably as the government of the nation whom we are fighting against.

I think it is patently absurd to think that whether or not the U.S. uses waterboarding and all these moral pretzels some are tying themselves into matter a whit in the calculations of whether or not Al Quada terrorists torture American soldiers that they capture on the battlefield. Of course they would! They cut off civilians' heads on camera, for God's sake; our soldiers bodies have already been mutilated and burned and paraded around the streets in Iraq, how much worse could it get?

And as to why this is different than confronting Nazi Germany or the USSR. First of all we were never at war with the Russians. But take Nazi Germany; they were capturing our soldiers and we were capturing theirs. Presumably we might have been able to save lives of American soldiers by torturing their soldiers to give us specific information about military operations. Doing so, however, would have made the practice acceptable to perform against our captured soldiers. No such concern exists in this case; Al Queda by its very nature as a terrorist organization does not play by the rules of war. Executing and torturing American soldiers (and civilians) is typical when they fall into their hands. These organizations wear no uniform, represent no government, and attack with the intention of killing civilians, and with the intention of not giving any warning (in fact, as I'm sure you know, they often will mount two attacks, the second one aimed at the first responders and crowds gathering after the first, in order to intentionally maximize civilian casualities). The only analogue to the conventional rules of war I can think of is that of a spy or a saboteur. If I am not mistaken, a captured American spy not wearing a uniform and planning on blowing up a train track before a train full of soldiers came on it (for instance) could be executed as a spy by the Nazi government, legally, correct?

At any rate, if there were some concern about whether or not the terrorists would respect the rule of international laws regarding just war, then indeed considering whether or not I would want the same treatment to befall American soldiers captured is appropriate. In fact, though, just the opposite is true. It would be a very good outcome indeed if all that American soldiers who fell into the hands of radical Islamic terrorists had to withstand was waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and other such tortures in order to extract intelligence from them. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and never will be. Al Queada is a terrorist organization; applying the rules of war to them makes no sense since their main purpose is to violate those rules and commit terrorist crimes.

The only question then, is whether we ourselves can live with torture being performed. In this whole discussion, I have been arguing more for the case that torture is sometimes the right thing to do, rather than arguing for explicit legislation authorizing when and how much to torture. Frankly, I think the whole thing should be kept quiet. Torture should probably remain illegal. However, there should probably be discretion in how the law is enforced and how closely, for instance, the CIA is monitored with regard to its treatment of suspected terrorists it picks up. I think that the country's values will not be eroded by the fact that a secret intelligence division roughs up terrorist suspects who may have valuable intelligence.

kj
12-22-2007, 04:32 PM
I also wanted to chime in here and say that while most of the people here will think Mis. Hays either evil, or horrible, or what she is saying unconscionable, I would like to say that some of what Rosa says strikes me as patently naive and ridiculous. For instance, where she says that there is really no categorical difference between waterboarding and rape or murder (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/7533?in=00:36:30).

Her point was that if you are about to save a million lives in NYC, including yours, why argue that a policy of torturing various unconvicted people in the hopes of saving lives is acceptable while a policy of torturing various unconvicted people's children in the hopes of saving lives is not. The only difference here is that you are 100% sure the kids knows nothing while anywhere from 1-99% sure that the adult watching their kid or being tortured themselves knows nothing. And if you weigh this against the fact that you'd probably be more successful torturing someone's kid in front of them then torturing the person directly, perhaps it is actually better to round up suspected terrorists children and implement a law protecting their torture in a ticking time bomb scenario. Anybody in? I didn't think so.

I would argue that both Ms. Hays and Rosa are wrong; I suppose it makes me something of a moral relativist, but I think that while both waterboarding, rape and murder are somewhat "intrinsically evil," that pure utilitarian calculation in terms of terrorism could render any one of the three possibly necessary, and morally acceptable.

Even mine?

First of all, I don't know what Rosa is saying about the Salem Witch Trials, but making someone think they are drowning and then not actually drowning them in order to extract information from someone is not in the same ballpark as killing someone, or raping them, or tearing their fingernails out. Not in the same ballpark, not even in the same league. As nice as it would be to be able to play fair and follow the Constitution with terrorist suspects we pick up on foreign battlefields trying to kill American soldiers or alien terrorists who we pick up plotting to come to America and kill American civilians, the stakes are simply too high to categorically ban torture, especially if the torture is the kind that we have heard about: "torture" that causes emotional duress and temporary physical pain such as stress positions, waterboarding, denial of sleep, etc.

The Salem witch trials, if you remember, killed people who were not witches (at least that's my reading of the Salem Witch Trials as everyone knows real 17th century witches hung out in Boston). Thus, a policy of torture ends up torturing people who actually don't have any useful information and might even be totally innocent. Rosa should have brought this point up more forcefully.

Second of all, I just can't appreciate why we need to think that the terrorist threat is an existential threat as great as Nazi Germany in order to make a decision not to treat terrorist suspects with kit gloves. Our mandate is not just to be "better than they are," it is to crush the terrorist threat and to prevent a 9/11 from happening again. I do not see the fundamental conflict between American values and torturing terrorist suspects in extraordinary circumstances. What the CIA does with guys picked up with a cache of explosives, or with concrete evidence that they are planning or have carried out terrorist acts is not the equivalent of what we do to drug dealers arrested on American streets. Take, for instance, Kalid Sheikh Mohammed; he probably was tortured (if not by waterboarding, then by seriously screwing with his sense of time, place, denying him food, depriving him sleep, going through a hell of a lot that nobody would want to go through). I don't see anything wrong with this.

How do you feel about those who were tortured who knew nothing. How about the torture of Jose Padilla? That guy was basically just an idiot, a stooge and we tortured him terribly. And he's a U.S. citizen. Do you think there is no relation between what we did to KSM and what we did to Padilla and a lot of people at Guantanamo who really were completely innocent?

Now, the question of whether we can get any real information is separate, but I tend to think that the idea that torture never yields real intelligence when applied to people who happen to have real pieces of intelligence is simply untrue, and forwarded as a separate rationale by people who wouldn't support torture of terrorist suspects even if it did work. As Rosa says "you can never leave aside the moral issues." Indeed. And I think that the moral issues are not a sufficient reason to deny interrogators this tool in their arsenal to prevent attacks on America.

That's funny, cause I think the same about the pro-torture people. You guys would torture even if all the evidence told you it didn't work. There is simply no substantial evidence that torture works. We don't know if it works. I'm about 95% sure it doesn't work as I can't imagine a scenario where it would do any good. The 5% is because lots of fairly smart to smart people seem to think it could work so I think maybe I'm wrong. But I will say that the burden of proof should fall on those who want to torture as they want to implement a policy that will end up torturing a lot of innocent people and a lot of people who have no pertinent information, not to mention the damage it does to our image and the potentiality for cooperation around the world.

P.S. As to Rosa defining adulthood as being able to see shades of nuance, how does she reconcile this as to what I see as her thinking that any form of interrogation of terrorist suspects that goes beyond asking them questions over and over again or making them listen to "Panama" on repeat (actually, that might be beyond the pale for her) is a non black and white up or down stance? Isn't saying that torture (even in the form of inflicting mostly emotional distress as opposed to causing long-term physical injury) is categorically wrong and can never be justified, or that at least against the terrorists in the world as they currently exist, a black and white stance that doesn't allow in shades of nuance, such as how confident we are that they have intelligence or the potential magnitude of intelligence that we suspect we have but are not sure about?

Look if you could prove that torture works, then I could accept it being done in limited situations that will never happen anyway. But you can't. That is nuance. Rosa would likely agree. But since torture policies lead to the torture of people who shouldn't be tortured and it at best gives us good and bad intelligence (like with her example) and at worst never gives us any good info, I don't know how any nuanced decision making process comes out on the side of torture. And Charlotte, queen of Black/White, offers pretty clear evidence that nuance is not the anti-torture set's problem but rather the side that thinks the CIA is competent enough to know who to torture and how to do it. As Charlotte would undoubtedly have little problem saying, "You torture the enemy because they are evil."

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 04:53 PM
Iran has had to reduce the pace of its nuclear weapons program because the removal of the arch enemy Baathists has taken away the prime reason it needed nukes - to counter the acquisition of nukes by Iraq.
Do you realize you repeat this about 10 times a day? I think by now you have posted it 500 times on this and the previous forum.

You should come up with a new sentence. Maybe take a few days off trying to think of something else to say, then you can repeat it through March.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 04:55 PM
fred:

Have a look at some of Rosa's other diavlogs, if you want to see her in a better light. I remember these as particularly good:

o with Heather Hurlbert: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/315

o with Eli Lake: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/210

Also, the ones with Will Wilkinson and Byron York. I'd find links, but people can use the search engine from the homepage if they are interested.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 04:57 PM
you forgot the ultimate torture, worse than hays: the presidency of bush 43.

and to think it was all self-inflicted!

LOL @ Hayes on the torture scale. I thought she was fascinating. Loved the tea cup!

garbagecowboy
12-22-2007, 05:04 PM
That's funny, cause I think the same about the pro-torture people. You guys would torture even if all the evidence told you it didn't work. There is simply no substantial evidence that torture works. We don't know if it works. I'm about 95% sure it doesn't work as I can't imagine a scenario where it would do any good. The 5% is because lots of fairly smart to smart people seem to think it could work so I think maybe I'm wrong.

Wow, you have a pretty strong tendency to just go with what's in your gut. Not unlike a certain current President of a certain super-power.

At any rate, this piece by Mark Bowden in the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200310/bowden) gave me a lot to think about and made me think that torture probably does work sometimes.

I wouldn't want innocent people to get caught up in this, and I wouldn't want the torture to be common (to avoid innocent people getting tortured) but I do think that the nation can survive and still be itself while torturing high value terrorist detainees or suspects. I mean think of all the horrible things the U.S. did in World War II and continues to do to this day; we dropped an atomic bomb, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, continue to kill civilians unintentionally every day in Iraq, but none of these things are routinely cited as being a threat to the very existence of the American ideal. I don't understand why being willing to countenace torture in a few extreme circumstances is any different.

I would not want torture to become commonplace, or even legalized necessarily, but my point is that I think (although I cannot say with 95 percent certainty) that it probably works on most people eventually, and in certain cases that seem likely to pop up (albeit infrequently) in the GWOT (call it whatever you wish) its use will probably be justified.

Trevor
12-22-2007, 05:52 PM
I think it is patently absurd to think that whether or not the U.S. uses waterboarding and all these moral pretzels some are tying themselves into matter a whit in the calculations of whether or not Al Quada terrorists torture American soldiers that they capture on the battlefield. Of course they would! They cut off civilians' heads on camera, for God's sake; our soldiers bodies have already been mutilated and burned and paraded around the streets in Iraq, how much worse could it get?
I think we're actually very close on policy, but this argument drives me nuts. It is wrong on at least two counts.

First just because there is a population of implacable enemies out there (whom we all agree need to be found and killed), doesn't mean that there's not room to create more of them at the margin. It's unlikely that any specific instance of torture by America will by itself turn someone into a jihadi, but you never know what feather will break the camel's back. Every little bit hurts.

Second and more importantly, even if the supply of implacable jihadis is relatively inelastic, their success or failure depends in large part on how much cooperation or tacit approval they get from their surrounding communities. If the majority of people in a given area respect America and think suicide terrorism is evil, it becomes very hard to be an anti-American terrorist there, because people will rat you out. If the majority sympathizes with the terrorists and is willing to either shelter them or even just look the other way, it is much easier for them to kill Americans, and much harder for us to find them, stop them, or kill them. The "audience" for America's demonstrations of our morality is much bigger than just the population of actual or potential jihadis.

How much worse can it get? Much worse! More importantly, if we do things right, it may actually get better.

Trevor
12-22-2007, 05:57 PM
That's a very ... postmodern position. It seems to me we had perfectly workable definitions of torture that everyone agreed upon until the Bush administration decided it wanted to torture a bunch of people without any oversight, and then all of a sudden all these conservatives became Clintonian deconstructionists.

basman
12-22-2007, 09:43 PM
Brendan, Wolgangus:

I answered your comments on the thread spinning out of the last Kaus Wright exchange about no more green or what ever, and managed not to dumly repeat my first post for a fourth time.

Cheers to you both.

bjkeefe
12-22-2007, 10:01 PM
basman:

I saw your response to me, and posted a reply. Thanks for the notification, though.

DenvilleSteve
12-23-2007, 01:32 AM
Do you realize you repeat this about 10 times a day? I think by now you have posted it 500 times on this and the previous forum.

You should come up with a new sentence. Maybe take a few days off trying to think of something else to say, then you can repeat it through March.

just hoping someone can explain what is incorrect about my analysis.

It is fascinating to me how wedded people can be to their opinions. It is like their self esteem will be shattered if they have to admit they were wrong and, *shudder*, George Bush was right.

GWB was right to have Saddam taken out. What with his invading his neighbors and scheming to acquire nukes, he was increasing tensions throughout the region. In an age where nuclear weapons technology is within the reach of many countries, neighbor threatening tyrannats cant be tolerated.

-Steve

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 02:42 AM
Steve:

just hoping someone can explain what is incorrect about my analysis.

First, it's not an analysis. It's a statement of opinion.

Second, you're not hoping anyone can explain anything to you. You're just being a troll (def. 2 (http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/T/troll.html)). As Twin correctly notes, you've posted the same couple of sentences ad infinitum since you first registered on this site. You've gotten plenty of good responses from plenty of people, yet you persist in saying the same exact thing.

There are two possible explanations for this:

1. You're unwilling to accept any viewpoints that differ from yours.

2. You're the only one in possession of The Truth.

Either way, it doesn't seem too much to ask that you move on to another topic.

Tom Wittmann
12-23-2007, 02:22 PM
You got it right, Joel. Charlotte Hays is simply too unsophisticated for Bloggingheads. Watching her is way too close to watching my step-mother, bless her heart, thoughtlessly regurgitating Fox News pablum.

Need a voice from the right? Byron York or Ross Douthat or Andrew Sullivan or Jim Pinkerton; those are conservatives with some there there.

All that being said, Rosa argued poorly. Why compare rape or murder to waterboarding, which will only confirm callous conservatives that Democrats make too big a deal over it (it's not that bad you know, it doesn't leave a mark) Please don't attack, in case you can't tell I am being sarcastic.

A better argument is speeding. Emotionally neutral and easy to understand.

Of course driving 100mph on LA freeways should be against the law.

Of course Jack Bauer is morally justified zooming around in his SUV to stop the bomb/germs/gas.

Of course no jury will convict when someone breaks the law for the greater good, say to save zillions of innocent lives. They won't convict even if the person made a mistake (boy, that guy sure looked like Khalid) so long as the mistake was in good faith and not totally moronic.

Of course we don't make driving 100 on LA freeways legal 'just in case'.

That is a much smarter argument to make against a yahoo.

Some are defending Charlotte's presence on Bloggingheads because many people think like her, yada yada yada. Yes, many people do. These people are not hard to find, they can be found at the grocery store or a family gathering. Bloggingheads exists to present intelligent, interesting people of different viewpoints. Admittedly intelligent conservatives are a bit scarce, but they do exist (list above), and I love it when they are on Bloggingheads. Charlotte Hays is neither intelligent nor interesting.

bjkeefe
12-23-2007, 03:10 PM
Well said, Tom.

Ooga-Booga
12-23-2007, 07:38 PM
What an obscene diavlog.
Where do you get these people?

basman
12-24-2007, 02:04 AM
I agree that Ms Hays was not particularly strong and made a few particularly unwise comments, but what's with all the drooling spleen?

Here is a suggestion, if it is doable: try to get Richard Posner on here to speak with our Ms Brooks. That would be a pretty cool exchange, and I think that to the extent that Brooks can be heard to be uttering liberal pieties, Posner would make her a lot less pious.

Tom Wittmann
12-24-2007, 11:28 AM
Basman,
Exactly. Rosa Brooks needs a heavyweight. Posner is a great choice. Personally, I think she would do OK.

uncle ebeneezer
12-28-2007, 12:45 PM
I'm glad Charlotte finally spoke the truth about how the world is black and white. In that spirit I would like to proclaim the following as inarguable facts:

1.) Torture is always evil under any circumstances.

2.) ALL religions are bullshit.

3.) Anyone who believes in God or goes to church should not be allowed to hold any position in government.

4.) Guns are inherently dangerous and the right to bear arms must be immediately rescinded for all citizens except police officers (sorry GC.)

5.) Drugs should be legal and readily available, and any criminals incarcerated on drug charges must be immediately released.

6.) Borders/nations are imaginary creations that have no bearing on the real world, therefore anyone who wants to come to this country (or any other) has every right to as long as they are willing to pay taxes.

7.) Abortion is always the best option and should be mandated by the state when necesarry.

8.) Rich people should pay substantially higher tax rates than everyone else (I will determine the classifications and rates).

9.) Warrantless wiretapping is illegal and anyone who has performed it or endorsed it's practice should be tried.

10.) Country music, NASCAR and reality shows are destroying our intellects and should be banned.

11.) Anyone who watches FOX News is no longer allowed to vote.

12.) Gays deserve EVERY right that a heterosexual has.

13.) A world government will be formed that will make all the rules from here on out. US has one vote just like everybody else.

14.) Businesses no longer have the right to lobby our goverment officials.

15.) That's about all I can think of right now but these rules are all subject to change whenever I see fit.

The new government will consist of Pres. Barrack Obama, VP Bob Wright, with Joe Biden, Rosa Brooks, Bloggin' Noggin, KJ, TwinSwords, BJKeefe and myself all playing prominent supportive roles yet to be established. GC- you can have a job in the science dept. (under Horgan and Johnson) once you hand in your guns and adopt a family of illegal immigrants. Mickey is sentenced to work in Southern Mexico picking vegatables and giving 40% of his income to his union. Ann Coulter will be dropped into a Middle Eastern prison and forced to "entertain" the detainees in whatever way they see fit.

This is my black and white world. If anyone has any disagreement with my statements, send them to somebody else. I am totally resolute, and will not consider any opinions other than my own. The word "nuance" is officially banished from the language from this point forward.

Just wanted to show off my "maturity". I wonder if Charlotte admires the "resolute" black/white outlooks of Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore etc., etc. on issues that she disagrees on. Or Osama Bin Laden...he seems pretty confident in his judgement of the black/white nature of the world. By Charlotte's standards, he's the model of maturity.

I applaud Rosa's patience for being able to stick out this entire diavlogue. Fortunately she has practice dealing with irrational, childlike perspectives.

garbagecowboy
12-28-2007, 01:39 PM
GC- you can have a job in the science dept. (under Horgan and Johnson) once you hand in your guns and adopt a family of illegal immigrants.

I don't own any guns... yet. It is really, really hard to get a handgun (legally) in New York City. Huzzah. It's bizarre how people in Brooklyn keep getting shot, though. They should realize that those guns are inherently dangerous.

Also, I would note that guns are not inherently dangerous. It's really the bullets you have to worry about.

uncle ebeneezer
12-28-2007, 02:07 PM
How dare you question my authoritay.

Good to know the NYC authorities are keeping guns out of the hands of crazy Twins fans. Incidentally, are you a Vikings fan too? I'm a die-hard Steeler fan but this year I'll settle for anyone-but-the-Patriots*.

Actually my thinking on guns has changed in recent days. Though I would never go over to the complete anti-regulation, cold-dead-hands, NRA side, I have been thinking that as I am very proud of our history of not-torturing people, and see it as one of the fundamental values that makes America great, I can see how some people would lump the right to bear arms in the same category as an American principle. So to be true to upholding our values I'm not as vehemently anti-gun as I may have been in the past. I still have no interest in them, myself.

I do agree very much with Rosa about the torture stuff and the fact that it is a scary world and always will be, but I take pride in a country that is SO firm in it's values that it will not waiver even to make us feel marginally more safe from perceived threats.

BTW- I'm about half way through Carl Zimmer's "Soul Made Flesh" about the discovery of the human brain. Have you read it? I think you would really dig it, as a "brain" guy. Lots of interesting history of the wacky ideas that used to be mainstream in the scientific community, that are downright laughable in hindsight. Plus, if alchemy makes a comeback, you'll be primed to corner the market.

*or the Cowboys

garbagecowboy
12-28-2007, 07:47 PM
I am a Vikings fan. I can't even bring myself to talk about it though, after they shit the bed last week AGAIN in a game where they could have made the playoffs. All they needed to do was beat the Redskins to make the playoffs. AD was nowhere to be found and Tavaris Jackson looks like he went to some podunk D-II college like Alabama State or something for Chrissak-- oh wait, he did go to Alabama State.

I love Peterson and I hope that the Vikings can get a QB, a wide-receiver, and some decent cornerbacks. If they could do that they would be easily one of the best teams in the NFC. Not really counting on them to make the playoffs this year, though. I doubt they'll beat the Broncos and even if they do, I doubt that the Redskins will have much trouble beating the Cowboys' practice squad.

As a Viking fan, I really should be used to this late-season gut punch. Probably nothing will ever compare to the 1998 15-1 Vikings choking in the NFC championship game to the Falcons (the FALCONS FOR GODSAKES!) when Anderson missed that chip-shot field goal after making like 65 in a row in a dome or whatever before that... but they certainly are creative in coming up with ways to top themselves.

There was the disastrous game against the Cardinals (THE CARDINALS FOR GODSAKES!) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_wfYAGosi4). Now this year a team that looked like they had no shot at making the playoffs at the beginning of the year, looked lost through the first half of the season, and then became the hottest team in the league, trouncing the Chargers and the Giants and getting within spitting distance of the playoffs, only having to win one more game against a mediocre team at home... and then blowing it.

The Twins haven't had much playoff success in the recent past, but at least being a Twins fan their organization fills you with a sense of optimism and hope each spring, but the Vikings are like the bizarro Twins... they never seem like a serious contender, then do something totally unexpected to get your hopes up, and then inevitably hit you with the gut punch right to the spleen.

Ugh. I think I'm going to be sick just thinking about it. I hate the Fudge Packers and Favre, too. I'm rooting for the Seahawks, I guess, or any of the AFC teams other than the Pats I would love to see knock off the Pats in the playoffs. I think, unfortunately, we're about to witness the Pretty Boy and the Cheater make some football history. Is anybody else getting sick of the Patriots?

uncle ebeneezer
12-31-2007, 02:10 PM
Brutal. I never really thought much about the Vikings continual woes. I've never been a Green Bay (or Farve fan) but have decided they are the lesser of two evils in the NFC.

Even as someone who grew up in NE (though admittedly always a Steeler fan first), I'm THOROUGHLY sick of the Pats. The good news is that I think the Colts (assuming a healthy Harrison), Chargers and maybe even the Jags could pull an upset. Sadly, I don't think Pitt will have a very long postseason. Parker is out and the D just isn't what it used to be.

If the Super Bowl ends up Dallas/New England I think I may actually skip it and watch some WNBA or something.