Friday, April 24, 2009

Mass debaters

Torture, for right-wingers, is the new gay marriage: on their side (pro the former, contra the latter, need it be said?) of the debate (a bit of a stretch, terminologically), they are resorting to distortions, declarations as fact things which are either unprovable or demonstrably false, and to outright lies. It's stunning.

Central to the argument for torture is the claim that it has kept us safe. It's impossible to disprove, of course, in that there's no way to show we'd have been attacked were it not used, nor that other techniques would not have produced even better data. Be that as it may, the only instance on the public record -- namely that torturing KSM led to information which stopped a bombing in LA, a meme now dutifully repeated by the RWS™ and their echo machine -- is a FLAT OUT LIE. The plot, such as it was, was uncovered a year before the capture of KSM. No matter. They keep on saying it. Surprised? Moreover, I have to believe, given past willingness to use classified data to their advantage when it suits them, that were there more clear-cut episodes they'd be out there already. Central argument: no evidence/lie.

Perhaps even more central is the contention that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" we used are not, in fact, torture, despite the fact that in other wars the US has prosecuted as war criminals people who employed the same measures. On the rare occasion when a Republican politico lets his tongue slip, he quickly backsteps. "The United States does not torture," they continue to say. Amazing. Is there literally no point beyond which partisanship will take some people?

And now, in unison for the past few days, there's this from the RWS™ and their brain-numbed listeners, the equivalent of "gay marriage threatens all marriage:" releasing the torture memos has harmed us in the fight against terrorism. The atom bomb, the cosmic whopper, the mother of all nonsense.

"Now they know, so they can train against it."

Funny. The Republican Secretary of Defense was okay with releasing the memos.

Does anyone really think the info was not out there before they were released? Do they think the only thing that went on in al Queda training camps was playing on monkey bars? It's been in media for years. The Red Cross released a report; former prisoners have been interviewed; the use of "black sites" was well-documented. It's simply laughable on its face. Like recruiting your kids into the gay lifestyle.

I suppose I should be happy the arguments we hear are so ridiculous; surely it's impossible that they are convincing to anyone but those mouthing them. Would that it were so. Hasn't it been said: if you repeat a lie long enough people will begin to believe it. The RWS™ sure have bought in, like it was a pile of winning lotttery tickets. Joining them, Liz Cheney claims that since we train our own soldiers to resist these techniques, they aren't torture. Yep. That's what she says. Other entities water-board, sleep-deprive, stress-position. We put our soldiers through it. QED. Wow.

As we now see that the real reason for engaging in torture was to force false confessions, making us just like our enemies, it seems to me it becomes even more important to get to the bottom of it, to have a conversation about it based on facts. God knows that even when facts are indisputable, people will interpret them differently, to their own ends. But this is serious business, affecting our security, our standing in the world (which affects our security), and our relationship to our laws. How nice it would be if, just this once, those on the right could address the issue frontally, honestly, and with willingness to get to the truth. After all, if torture really is the best way to get certain information, wouldn't they be proved right?

I guess they're afraid of opinions like this, from someone who seems to know. Or this, from a person in charge.

Is it possible -- just possible -- that the people who lied about it in the first place are lying about it again? If so, won't anyone on the right rise up and ask? Doesn't a serious issue like this deserve serious arguments? Can't any Congressional Republicans and their water-carriers (or is it the other way around?) bring to the debate something that makes sense? Anyone at all?

Maybe it's time we listen to George W. Bush.


Frank Drackman said...

Jeez Sid, more Blow-Up Straw Men than Barney Frank's playroom...Need I remind you that your President doesn't support Gay Marriage either?? His quotes on the issue could be Miss Californias her's were more moderate actually... nor do the voters in 90% of the States that have voted on it...Might take a 100 Kiloton wake up call for him to get Religion about "Torture"(I still prefer "Agressive Interogation")...

Spiny Norman said...

It would never have occurred to me, in a million years, to imagine the contents of "Barney Frank's playroom." But then, I'm not gay.

Frank Drackman said...

How's Retirement, Senator Craig??

Sid Schwab said...

Frank, maybe you should print this out and keep it by your computer. See, here's how it works: someone writes a blog post. You decide (for reasons of your own, and please, don't tell me) to read it. Then, you decide to post a comment. Okay so far?

See, the thing is, having made those decisions, the "logical" thing (look it up, write it down, keep it by your computer) would be to respond to the point of the post to which you are commenting. That way, it makes some sort of sense. It's like having a conversation: one person says a thing, the other responds in what might be called a linear fashion, the first one thinks about the response, says something else. And so on... Thoughts are expressed, exchanged, meaningful, even pleasant, interaction (look it up, keep it by your computer) occurs. Maybe, possibly, ideas get refined, minds change, learning (look...) happens.

In social settings, it's what normal people do. (Well, yeah, there's the problem all right.) I'm fine with having you drop by and mutter under your breath the same things, to yourself, over and over, no matter what I've said. It's company. But, with practice (maybe you could do it in the OR, where you face is covered, if it's too painful or difficult and you're afraid people will know) you can actually learn to have an interesting conversation. You'll just have to trust me on this until you try: it can be rewarding.

Frank Drackman said...

OK Sid, are you really a Surgeon? The ones I know wouldn't type that much in a career...
1: I was referring to the "Straw Men" you've been arguing with who support "Torture". Most people think "Torture" is something really hideous and painful, like a hot Poker in the Eye, or looking at Barbara Mikulski.

2: Was just trying to point out how Ironic (dontcha think?) that your president you've been practically masturbating to for the last 6 months holds the same view on SSM that those Crazy Right Wing Screamers do...He's just smoother in the way he says it.

3: Hmm a lecture on how to carry on a conversation from a guy who's used to people shuttin up when he says to...

4: Oh, CNN just reported an Anthrax and Plague bomb detonated in Washington State...HA! Made you Look...


Sid Schwab said...

Well, Frank, it's only your first attempt, so I shouldn't expect much. Appreciate the effort. With practice, you'll get it down.

1) Sorry, don't follow that at all. And, for the record, torture is specifically defined by international laws to which we've signed on. Plus, I like Barbara Mikulski.

2) Not even close. The RWS want to ban gay marriage, and many are against civil unions. BHO is for civil unions and is against banning gay marriage. He says he doesn't personally feel comfortable with gay marriage (honest, and fair enough) but doesn't support law to ban it.

3) Actually, it's totally consistent. I've deleted a few comments; ones that are nasty, insulting, off point, destructive, and useless. What I've never deleted is honest disagreement.

4) Yep. Scared me shitless.

Anonymous said...

For years I'd wondered why we tortured so many people, so this is quite enlightening. Bush shouldered with such equanimity the burden of killing 4,000+ US troops and countless innocent Iraqis that I believed he always felt in his heart that he'd done right. I don't believe he's a sadist. So, it must be. He pressured the interrogators for any confession at all. Presumably what he got was so harebrained that he did not bother to present it to the public.

Absent evidence to the contrary, the reasonable conclusion is that this torture made no direct difference in our safety. Consider the fanfare with which the Bush administration announced the arrest of the "terrorist cell" in Florida a couple of years ago. It turns out these men were halfwits. Had the administration uncovered anything truly alarming we would never have heard the end of it.

--Sam Spade

Anonymous said...


"1: I was referring to the 'Straw Men' you've been arguing with who support 'Torture'"

Straw man? Look who's wearing his fancy trousers today! However you used it incorrectly, Frank.

--Sam Spade

Popular posts