Jon Stewart on Obama’s Moral Kombat

Barack Obama, tool:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Moral Kombat
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor

70 Responses to “Jon Stewart on Obama’s Moral Kombat”

  1. enkidu Says:

    YES WE CAN!
    (but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to)

    lol! oh yeah Jon is SO in Obama’s pocket

    I feel like Bill M might have jumped the shark but Stewart and Colbert just keep bringing teh funny. Even funnier that right wingers think Colbert is for real (ie the crazy stuff he says isn’t mocking them). lol

  2. CKL Says:

    I find it interesting that a comedy show is perhaps the most unbiased news source in the U.S.

  3. shcb Says:

    boy, your point of reference is way, way to the left

  4. knarlyknight Says:

    Relative to you, yes indeed far to the left, which puts him at a good balance relative to most sane people.

  5. shcb Says:

    You can be partisan and still be realistic.

  6. CKL Says:

    If it weren’t for those providing regular commentary, lies.com would almost be worth reading. Is there a political science degree between the lot of you? Even enough college credits for one?

    I tried, jbc. I really did… I guess I’ll wait for yet another president before I pop back in. I have no doubt you’ll recapture that magical something your site had back in the 90′s, I just wonder what’ll be the catalyst.

  7. shcb Says:

    Not a single college credit to my name but I understand a lot more about politics than you.

  8. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb has submitted yet another assertion based on a biased belief.

  9. knarlyknight Says:

    The following link is damn interesting, as it undercuts just about all of shcb’s talking points over the past few years about why Torture is the new American way:

  10. knarlyknight Says:

    here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVwisyDtn_0&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2E911blogger%2Ecom%2Fdailynews&feature=player_embedded

  11. Smith Says:

    I’m not entirely convinced that a polisci degree is necessary for political commentary. I completed half of the degree requirements for political science when I was in college. The majority of the focus was on analyzing statistics and applying game theory to voter trends. It was basically a half-assed STAT degree with a bit of political philosophy thrown in for good measure. I really don’t see how that would improve the level of discussion here much. Also, most of the people in the Poli Sci program were business school dropouts who didn’t really care about the program and just wanted a degree. Most of the remaining students were just as partisan as the commentators on this site, but they managed to cloak it in academic language.

    Perhaps part of the problem is that my school’s program was woefully underfunded. There were only enough professors and TAs to give one major level class per semester to each student. The program also refused to give major level classes to anyone in their 1st or 2nd year. Since students were required to take 8 major level courses for the program and were limited to one class per year and could not began taking major level courses until their 3rd year, it would have taken 6 years to complete the undergraduate program. So, I changed to a different major so I could graduate on time.

    CKL and shcb, you two are both proving eachother’s point. CKL comes across as an intellectual elitist who refuses to deal with the “inferior, uneducated common man.” While shcb responds with a mindless ad hominin that boarders on “I know you are but what am I?” Neither of you are elevating the discourse, and CKL, with his/her cheap parting shot, is just as big a part of the problem as everyone else.

  12. knarlyknight Says:

    Smith, the cheap parting shot was just an attempt at ego maintenance, we didn’t meet his/her challenge and thus CKL’s eforts were snubbed: either we are inferior beings or CKL has to admit to him/herself he/she failed yet again. The thing with CKL is that his/her perception of what is stinky here was more important to him/her than seeking out the value that does indeed lie beneath the muck. Can’t blame him/her, life’s too short to wallow in the muck.

  13. shcb Says:

    John referred to him as Clark at one point so I think we can assume Mr. Clark is a he commenting here at John’s request, sorry it didn’t work out.

    While I’m probably a little too sensitive to elitists telling me what I should do and how I should think, my comments weren’t totally mindless or ad hominem; a few posts back Clark had detailed his idea that we should adopt an electronic democracy with each person voting on every little issue. Then he says we need a poli sci degree to have an opinion? He must have gone to your school and studied stats under the guise of political history. How many centuries ago did we get rid of pure democracy? Somewhere between the Greeks and Romans if I recall correctly. The founders were very careful and conspicuous in not using the word democracy anywhere in the Constitution. You don’t need a degree to know that but you do need to know that.

  14. Smith Says:

    Yes, but historically we have also gotten rid of republican forms of government in exchange for emperors and dictators this happened in Rome and other civilizations. Simply citing something as having occurred at some point in history is not sufficient to prove that the cited event is necessarily a “good” thing. Perhaps you could provide a better argument against direct democracy than “the Romans didn’t like it.”

    Also, saying The Founders (TM) did/said it is also not an adequate proof of any political idea. The Founders were also careful to avoid making normative claims regarding slavery and did not permit women/non-whites to vote. Having knowledge of history is only valuable if you can understand the causes and effects of the event and give some meaningful analysis of its importance.

  15. jbc Says:

    I didn’t invite CKL to comment here. I don’t mind him doing so, but that’s a pretty low bar; the only people whose comments I routinely delete are spammers.

    There are only a few users here who should be assumed to have my special seal of approval: The ones I’ve upgraded to “Author” status in the blog, meaning they can post their own original items to the site. Those people rock.

  16. shcb Says:

    I can’t give you examples of why direct democracy works, I don’t have a poli sci degree. Just kidding, that was a cheap shot but it was jut too much fun to resist. Actually we are living and breathing a direct democracy experiment here in Colorado with our ballot initiative process. Now it is only a small part of the legislative process but it has proven to me to be a failure, in my mind at least.

    The classic example of an emotionally charged electorate deciding policy was the spring bear hunt elimination, and as so often happens, the entity that was supposed to be helped, the black bear, lost. Many of them starved or had to be killed after they eat someone’s dog.

    Probably the best example is the conflict between the Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights and Amendment 23, the amendment that put k-12 teacher’s salaries on an inflation plus pay increase on autopilot. I was a supporter of TABOR but not of A-23. As it turns out the two were compatible as long as the economy was growing by leaps and bounds. As soon as the economy leveled out the conflict became apparent. Teacher, active and retired are getting large raises while tax revenues are dropping, because of the provisions of TABOR the budget has to be essentially balanced and the big loser is higher education funding. This is compounded by both these issues being in the state constitution so they are off limits to the legislature. We are left without even the possibility of thoughtful elected officials to make a wise fiscal decision based on current circumstances. Are those good enough examples? They certainly are current.

    I’m not sure how a republic turning into a dictatorship is an argument in favor of direct democracy.

  17. Smith Says:

    The republic to dictatorship statement was not an argument for direct democracy. The point of that statement was to illustrate the flawed logic behind your statement “How many centuries ago did we get rid of pure democracy? Somewhere between the Greeks and Romans if I recall correctly.” You could use your argument to claim that dictatorship is superior to a republic because their is a historical precedent for abandoning one in favor of the other. Basically, your claim about changing from direct democracy to republic is no better than using my claim about a republic changing to a dictatorship to argue for the superiority of an absolute ruler.

    Your comments about your perceived failure of direct democracy in Colorado serves as a better argument against it. I think you hit on one of Locke’s (the philosopher, not the Lost character) objections to direct democracy. He claimed that society was fickle and would frequently change their minds and hastily create new laws on a whim.

    You also mentioned the issue of expertise and thought that is another common objection to DD. A supposed advantage of representatives is that they would represent the best and brightest of society. They would be able to focus their energy on evaluating laws and meeting with experts to gain a complete understanding of the ramifications of any proposed legislation.

    The issue with both of this claims is that although they sound good in theory, I don’t really think either of them work in practice. Legislators in the US spend most of their time running for re-election. They don’t sit and analyze legislation to determine what is best for the country. Their efforts are spent on determining the course of action that is most likely to lead to their re-election. Furthermore, most of the experts they consult with are lobbyist that looking out for the interests of whatever group/company is giving them a paycheck, not the interests of the citizens/country as a whole. Another consequence of the endless campaign that all politicians are involved in is that they are often as fickle as the citizens they represent. Longterm consequences are ignored and the focus is limited to what will be popular during the next election cycle.

    None of this is actually an argument in favor of DD, in fact I agree with Locke’s assessment of the problems and inadequacy of such a form of government. However, I think it is important to consider how well representative democracy in the US actually addresses these problems.

  18. shcb Says:

    I think that was the whole idea of having a Senate that was there for a long period of time and a House that was in constant flux. What do you think of going back to the House selecting senators? I’m not sure that would help or hurt in this age. I don’t have a problem with lobbyists being advocates as long as politicians listen to both sides and if they don’t the place to correct that is at the ballot box. I’m a little biased toward lobbyists though since my brother in law is one.

    As to the best and brightest, I am in favor of paying congressmen and Senators 10 times what they make now (about what a utility second basemen makes) give them serious jail time, no fines, if they take a single penny from anyone. Also put a 4 year? moratorium on accepting a dime from lectures, books, films etc after they get out of office.

  19. Smith Says:

    I feel that the importance of parties within the political system has undermined the effectiveness of the longer terms in the Senate. Because of the staggered election of Senators, everyone is still basically campaigning throughout their term. The senators campaign for themselves when they are up for reelection by passing, creating, and supporting legislation that is most likely to keep them in office. During the elections that do not involve their seat, they will support and pass legislation that they feel will aid their fellow party members who are up for reelection. So, they are always pressured to pass legislation that will improve their and their party members’ chance of reelection.

    I am not sure that having the House elect the Senate would necessarily fix this problem. In this situation, the senators would be tied to their party to a greater extent than they are now. Senators would still choose legislation based on what would be marketable during elections; however, instead of legislating to make themselves look good, they would legislate to make their party’s House members look good. Assuming you would have each state’s representatives in the House choose that state’s senators, each state would almost certainly always have both senators come from the same party. I think this would destroy what little diversity there is in the Senate.

    I am ambivalent towards lobbyists. I feel that they can be a useful source of well researched expert information; however, I think they often fail to provide legislators with accurate and complete information. Even if they meet with both sides, it is quite likely that neither side will provide correct information and as a result, even after evaluating both sides, the legislator will almost certainly not have a complete picture of the issue and its potentially wide reaching consequences. I also feel that not all issues can be reduced to two sides, and the legislator will not be able to give equal access to all the lobbyists representing relevant viewpoints.

    I definitely agree that we need to have much harsher penalties for any abuse of office, including but not limited to accepting bribes, kickbacks, and any other financial incentives from anyone. I also have no qualms with placing temporary restrictions on any possible payoffs that may be given after leaving office. I am quite sure that some form of campaign finance reform belongs here too, but I need more time to consider what might be appropriate.

  20. shcb Says:

    This is mostly personal observation/farmer logic but I have always found that socialism only works in small groups, mostly in survival situations; democracies in slightly larger organizations with a common purpose, clubs and such; and dictatorships in small to medium private companies where a competitive market (including the employment market) keeps the dictator’s excesses at bay. But I haven’t seen where any one of these works in the governing of a country. It takes a combination of the three to make a functioning government. I think our model hits the mark about as well as any, it’s not perfect, but it can’t be, there are too many factions.

  21. shcb Says:

    Pretty much no argument with your last post. I don’t know if I don’t think our system and the way it works is fine or if I’m just resigned that this is as good as it gets but I’m not as bothered with our politics as you seem to be, but I think all your points are perfectly valid.

    Sort of tongue and cheek but the more they are campaigning and screwing each other’s lives up is less time to screw up mine.

  22. knarlyknight Says:

    Smith,
    Thank you for raising the level of discourse; through example you have (so far) underscored the naivety and impetuousness of CKL.

    Yet my cynicism remains, as the topics you covered so far with shcb are high level and filled with platitudes. Motherhood and apple pie type issues. Nice, but not contentious. At the risk of ruining yours and shcb exemplary dialogue, I dare you two to enter into a discussion about justifications for torture, with the focus quoetion thus:
    “Do you agree with Ventura or Hasselbeck?”
    Good luck gentlemen. http://www.rawstory.com/08/news/2009/05/18/ventura-schools-hasselbeck/#

  23. Smith Says:

    I don’t really think a debate between Elizabeth Hasselback and Jesse Venture on The View is a good impetus for reasoned debate. They are basically just cartoon characters yelling dumbed down talking points at each other.

    I am afraid that the torture issue is unlikely to produce any interesting debate in the comment section of a blog. It has been polarized to the point that both sides will be unable to find any degree of common ground. For a successful discussion without heavy moderation, the two sides really need to agree on a few fundamental points. One cannot construct a worthwhile argument without relying on a handful of axioms. If the sides cannot agree on any base conditions/axioms, then the whole debate is a non-starter.

    If we attempt to evaluate the use of torture, I think we can find some evidence to support several different points. I believe there have been documented cases of torture that have produced information that has been proven to be factually incorrect. I have also heard instances cited in which torture has given us information that lead to the capture of other terrorist suspects and/or prevented some terrorist activity. There have also been cases in which accurate and actionable information that has lead to the capture of high level operatives has been obtained without using torture. One of the key arguments in favor of torture is that it can produce results quickly.

    If we take all of that and attempt to reduce it to something resembling a formula, we might come up with this: Torture has a 75% of producing information within 24 hours and there is a 50% chance that the information will be accurate/useful. Standard interrogation procedures have a 70% of producing useful information within one week and there is an 80% chance that the information will be useful. Of course none of those numbers are accurate, but if we had access to sufficient information about the forms of interrogation used and their rates of success, we could certainly produce reasonably accurate numbers to use in this formula. From there, a pragmatic evaluation of the actually utility of torture could be produced.

    However, for a lot of people, the debate is not about utility, but rather it is about morality and ethics. From an ethical standpoint, the torture debate has something in common with the old question “Would you rather send an innocent man to prison or let a guilty man go free?” At this level, the discussion reaches a lot of foundational elements of an individual’s moral character. It is extremely difficult to structure and maintain logical debates at this level. I don’t think it is possible to produce an objective proof regarding the superiority of liberty/security. Sometimes we must concede that the two sides will never reach sufficient common ground to engage in a debate that produces any agreement. While I certainly have my opinion about torture, I really cannot provide proof that my opinion is more valid than shcb’s or yours. I think it is better to just facilitate a reasoned discussion than to try to force a debate that is almost certainly going to breakdown into both sides yelling talking points at each other.

  24. shcb Says:

    There was an episode of Cheers where Norm comes in from the cold shivering and asks for a beer, Diane ponders aloud why they drink cold beer on a cold day, Norm defers the question to Cliff who goes into a long explanation of how it effectively cools your core temperature making you feel relatively warmer. She then asks why they drink it when it is hot. Norm says “Cliff?” Cliff says “ what else you gonna do with it?”

    I think we sometimes carry these discussions on and on because “what else you gonna do with it?” I know everyone is rolling their eyes saying sometimes! How about every time! I still think you can have a reasoned discussion about this subject, I think we saw that with the Cliff May, John Stewart interview. The proof of that was when May held up his hand and the crowd immediately got quiet. Now this is a very, very partisan crowd, as May said a few days later they are fans, they show up hours early for a place in line. Now I don’t think May had their respect as much as they respected the discourse and didn’t want to miss out on a single word from either of the combatants.

    Personally when it gets to the point of “what are you gonna do with it” I try and take it in a slightly different direction like Knarly just did. I’m usually not successful because I can’t control other’s actions, but I give it a shot.

    I haven’t watched the segment yet so I don’t know what Elizabeth has to say but Jessie seems pretty easy to refute from what I read, we don’t waterboard criminals because they are protected under our constitution but our constitution doesn’t extend to citizens of other countries especially in a time of war. Now if you guys like we can have a nice discussion just on that last statement, or we can wait for Enky to join the discussion, he rocks!

  25. Smith Says:

    “we don’t waterboard criminals because they are protected under our constitution but our constitution doesn’t extend to citizens of other countries especially in a time of war.”

    The obvious question here is why do you feel that not being tortured is a special right that should only be granted to Americans, as opposed to being a universal human right? To follow that up, do you feel Vietnam was justified in torturing McCain since he was not a citizen of that country? Do you really think it is a good idea to set the precedent that torture is an acceptable practice?

    Perhaps it would be interesting to analyz’e torture in terms of some well known ethical systems. Measuring it in Utilitarian terms would necessitate analyzing the application of torture on a case-by-case basis. The partial algorithm that I proposed in my previous post may be part of such an analysis. Measure the time frame available, the chance of success, and the consequence of failure. From that plus some additional considerations, determine the course of action that produces the greatest net Utility. Under Mills’ Utilitarian system, I believe it may be possible to justify torture under certain limited circumstances.

    Next up, I want to consider the application of Kantian deontological ethics. I believe the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative provides a clear grounding from which to oppose torture in all instances. Kant claims that one should not treat a human as merely a means to an end. In the case of torture, we disregard the captive’s humanity and treat him as merely a source of information that we must extract by any means necessary. Certainly in this situation, the prisoner is being treated merely as the means to some end. Thus, we must conclude that a Kantian ethical system would reject torture in all cases.

    Unfortunately (or fortunately for those of you who are not interested in philosophy lectures), I am currently unable to provide an Aristotelian analysis of the issue of torture. I cannot recall his system in sufficient detail to place torture on his scale of virtues.

    I personally take a Kantian stand on this issue and believe that treating our fellow man in such a fashion cannot be morally justified.

  26. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I haven’t been paying much attention here, but…

    I almost have a poly sci degree, and a history degree (like 3-6 hours short). I don’t really think that the poly sci degree is necessary for discourse on this site. (Veracity of historical fact and interpreting historical data being a completely different thing.)

    The only thing I ever sought to bring here was academic arguments and logically proven points. You don’t see it much though.

    I will go on to assert two things. First, most of the opinions aired here have an emotional/psychological/sociological basis. Second, no one wants to have an academic argument. Either because they’re too emotional about the subject or because they just find talking shit to be too much fun to stop, respectively.

  27. shcb Says:

    First two paragraphs: that is where ethics and legality cross paths. Laws are more or less static, but everyone has their own level of ethics. Then there is the point where utility and ethics cross objectives. I think in many people’s minds that are opposed to these interrogations their objectives are to make friends or at least not inflame our enemies. With that objective the utility of rough treatment is not only lost but it becomes detrimental to the objective. My objective is to simply win, now that doesn’t mean at all costs and there is a point not too far from yours I’m guessing, that I would say is too far town the torture path to even meet my objectives.

    The rest of your comment is way above my educational level I’m afraid, I’ll do some reading and get back to you. One thing I enjoy about civil discussions with people who are smarter than I am is it forces me to become better.

  28. shcb Says:

    I just noticed something in your comments, you mentioned McCain, he was playing by the rules of war, uniformed, under orders of a country that signed the Geneva conventions etc. so he should have been treated as such, these guys aren’t. Now if you want to extend them those rights, that is ok, but you don’t have to. There has to be a price to pay for those that don’t play by the rules or there is no reason to have those rules. Personally I’m all for just executing them, but that would not be politically acceptable. It’s a tough call.

  29. Smith Says:

    I feel that you are being overly pedantic to avoid the actual issue I was trying to raise with my McCain example. I guess I will rephrase it in a manner that avoids the whole POW debate. Do you feel it is acceptable for a foreign power to hold Americans within their country and torture them outside of any officially declared war? If an American was merely traveling in a country that suddenly became hostile to the US, would it be acceptable for that to torture the travelers under suspicion of spying/plotting terrorist activities? Suppose the country they were traveling in had laws against torturing its citizens. Would that change your answer?

    I regards to you other comment, I think it is naive to suppose that all those who oppose torture hold those beliefs merely because they “want to make friends”. That seems to be a very narrow analysis of the beliefs of others, and I can’t help but feel that you don’t really believe this. I do not believe it is that difficult to recognize that those who oppose torture do so on the grounds of universal human rights. It would be just as easy to deliberately mischaracterize those who support torture as being sadists who have watched too many episodes of 24 or are racists who believe that Arabs are subhuman. However, I feel that beliefs of this nature are rarely held honestly. I think that those who reduce their opponents to strawmen are aware that they are not accurately representing the beliefs of those with whom they disagree, but they find that such a characterization helps them to avoid deeply analyzing their own position by making all those who disagree appear ridiculous. Since those who hold opposing views must be “fantasy land hippies”/”sadistic racists”, it is clear that the the person’s own view is the only reasonable position and therefore it must be correct.

    Trying to truly understand opposing viewpoints can help you to understand your own views. To dismiss you opponents as nutjobs/hippies/racists/etc. is to deprive yourself of the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.

    I agree with you that about laws being more stable/universal than personal ethics. Though, the way in which you phrased this comment leads me to wonder if you believe that ethics and morality can never rise above the subjective. Putting that aside, this discussion of law and ethics leads to the question of what should serve as the foundation of the Law. Should the law be grounded in the dominant personal ethical views of the citizens of the nation for which the laws are applicable? Should the laws ignore the personal convictions of society at large and instead be rooted in the beliefs of some elite expert class?

  30. Smith Says:

    I feel I should clarify my previous statement slightly. I am not arguing that one must accept every opinion/viewpoint as valid. I am only claiming that one should attempt to understand opposing viewpoints and then accept/dismiss them on their actual merits. My objection is to dismissing arguments based on willfully ignorant mischaracterizations of those views.

  31. NorthernLite Says:

    Pretty good reasons why you just can’t “look froward, not back.”

    George W. Bush and his accomplices damaged this country like it’s never been damaged before. And it’s not just the phony war in Iraq or the torture memos that justified waterboarding. It’s millions of missing emails and the constant use of executive privilege and signing statements.

    It’s the secretive meetings with Enron and other energy executives and the wholesale firing of federal prosecutors. It’s trying to get the president’s personal attorney seated on the Supreme Court and that despicable Alberto Gonzales sitting in front of congressional investigators whining, “I don’t remember, I don’t know, I…etc.”

    It’s the domestic eavesdropping in violation of the FISA Court, the rendition prisons, and the lying. It’s looking the other way while the City of New Orleans drowned and its people were left to fend for themselves.

    It’s the violations of the Geneva Conventions, the soiling of our international reputation and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution. It’s the handing over of $700 billion to the Wall Street fat cats last fall, no questions asked. Where is that money? What was it used for?

    It’s the no-bid contracts to firms like Halliburton and Blackwater and the shoddy construction and lack of oversight of reconstruction in Iraq that cost American taxpayers untold billions.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/19/cafferty.bush.administration/index.html

  32. shcb Says:

    It wouldn’t be appropriate to hold a citizen without just cause and it certainly wouldn’t be appropriate to torture them. But of course we aren’t talking about tourists here. A better example would be CIA operatives or special forces troops in operations out of uniform. If they are caught by the enemy they should expect some rough treatment. Does that make it right? We will probably disagree, but that is the way the rules of war are laid out. And they are that way for good reason, mainly to reduce civilian casualties.

    I agree with you that not all people who oppose torture want to make friends, that is why I use the word many, not all.

    One of the Webster’s said “good manners are more important than good laws because good laws come from good manners” I think the laws should be in line with people’s ethics, but there also needs to be a mechanism to protect the minority from the majority and that responsibility tends to go to your expert elite class, as it should.

    But back to the these interrogations, it would have been wrong under the Geneva Conventions to have done anything other than name rank and serial number to say the soldiers under Sadam that were in uniform, but we’re not talking about them either.

    This seems to be a gray area in the rules of law, a gray area our enemy is exploiting. Maybe we need a 5th convention to decide how to handle it.

  33. shcb Says:

    lasr paragraph, rules of war not rules of law, sorry.

  34. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    I’ll throw my two cents in on the torture issue.

    I’m against it because I feel it’s un-American. The reason I feel this, is that I feel the American people are defined by a shared set of ideals. This is opposed to a country like the Russian Federation, which is defined by a ethnic and cultural history and tradition.

    A bit part of what makes us what we are, is codifying our values in our Constitution. Prevention of cruel and unusual punishment being a core belief and value, not just a law some bleeding hearts managed to squeeze into the document.

    It’s not just the torture, its the suspension of habeas corpus, the secret trials, and the whole thing. We have a system that provides rights even to the guilty, or the enemy soldiers of another country because we, as Americans believe in the core rights of human beings. So with the enemy combatants or whatever we’re calling them, they fall in a legal loophole, so fuck ‘em? That seems like the only defense that’s ever offered. It’s not technically illegal, so we can do whatever we want to them? It’s not who a lot of us felt we were as people.

  35. shcb Says:

    This statement is a little problematic:

    or the enemy soldiers of another country

    that said, that is what is so great about being an American with freedom of speech, you get to put in your two cents worth, and I respect that. While we have a duty to uphold our beliefs and our traditions, we also have the duty to protect our citizens, the question is were is that line. One obvious line is of course the law, but even that is up for interpretation and exceptions are made, the husband speeding to get his wife to the hospital for instance. At one point we didn’t consider hanging as cruel and inhuman, I still don’t, now enough do that we don’t use it for executing prisoners, I lost that one. I may lose this one, probably have. Then we will have an attack and the Nancy P’s of the world will be asking why we didn’t do more, whether it would have made a difference or not. And people like me will be saying “see! Bush was right!” whether it would have made a difference or not. Hopefully I will be more objective than that but human nature is what it is.

  36. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    It shouldn’t be problematic. Failure to accord people any rights at all because they haven’t been defined as a group shouldn’t be ‘problematic.’ That’s like saying that you agree with the letter of the law, but not the spirit. If the sentence is awkward think about it like this, the USA treated captured soldiers better than the CSA did. I guess you could call the CSA enemy soldiers of our country, if you wanted.

    I’m sorry if you think we can’t deal with a group of Islamic terrorists without compromising our principles. We managed to overcome greater obstacles than them in our history. I’m also sorry if you’re completely willing to compromise your principles to do so. Without those principles we we’re nothing as a country, just the landmass between Canada and Mexico, unworthy of note, save for having a lot of cars.

  37. shcb Says:

    You misunderstood, that statement is problematic because foreign nationals aren’t covered by our laws, that’s all. They may be covered by another treaty but not by our laws, this is the problem with saying these guys need to stand trial, for what? Spain has no right to charge an American citizen with a crime that was committed in America, especially if that act isn’t illegal in America. You are mixing illegality with ethics the two aren’t inseparable but they are separate.

    War is different than criminal activity, you have to have the ability to make that distinction. The system that provides rights to even the guilty doesn’t apply to soldiers of other countries.

  38. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Oh that wasn’t my point. I was saying there is a system to deal with criminals. There is a system to deal with captured enemy soldiers which we agreed to as signatories of the Geneva Contentions, or our own soldiers who commit criminal acts have a separate system of justice. Our systems of laws; our standards, rights and punishments all derive from an ethical principle set forth at the founding of the country. Or, in the case of the Geneva Conventions, something we agreed to as a people who value ethics and laws that follow accordingly.

    So there’s a loophole now that some of our current enemies fall in a category without any rights at all. We could have treated them as enemy soldiers with equal effectiveness in investigation and prosecution. Instead we embraced an unethical treatment of our enemy and certain parties insist this is the only way to deal with them. It follows that Americans, being an ethical people, are upset about this conduct. Now we’re doing things we once hung people for.

  39. NorthernLite Says:

    I totally agree Jayson. And I already know what shcb’s response will be… the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to terrorists. He for some reason believes that Americans can no longer beat their enemy and maintain a higher moral standard, even higher than a terrorists’ standard.

  40. shcb Says:

    Those are choices we make based on our objectives and options we have available at the time. Obama has the same options, he has made his decision to not use these techniques unless they are needed again, he has that luxury. We will just have to wait and see how that works out for him, and us.

  41. knarlyknight Says:

    Well shcb, we’ve seen how a pro-torture policy does not work out. America lost the high ground in human rights efforts around the world, has provided the greatest recruiting tool yet for would be terrorists, and 5000 or so Americans have been killed many of whom by those motivated to fight by the tales of torture from Abu Ghraib, etc. As a result even regular Americans are far less safe. It will take a lot of effort and some time for Obama to everse that trend.

    Now the discussion with Smith was enjoyable, especially Smith bringing in Kant. Please feel free to give a philosophy lecture wherever it applies here, Smith, a little learning on that subject here would be good.

    As for Mill’s utilitarianism, it’s a useful construct for intellectual endeavors but prone to misuse in practice. That it could be used to argue in support of torture under extremely limited circumstances is not surprising. What is surprising is that despite the lack of rigor* we have seen in such arguments, it the arguments are still convincing for many folks. In fact, just such scary sounding scenarios with little to no basis in fact has been the calling card of the previous administration’s defence of their torture policies.

    In practice, the misuse of the argument has been amply demonstrated by the previous administration putting forth “ticking time bomb” pro-torture arguments when in fact there was no urgency to plug into the analysis, or no real impending danger such as the use of torture in the attempt to establish post hoc ties between al Qaeda and Iraq once the original reasons for the invasion were shown to be erroneous and likely nefarious.

    Also, the slippery slope that the Republicans used to control is this. Once the utilitarian principles are argued effectively to make people think that “torture is okay in very limited circumstances” then some people, and by some I mean many including Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Bush, will eventually, and conveniently, drop the “in very limited circumstances” qualifier and operate on the assumption that “torture is okay”.

    *lack of rigor – for instance, even in an accepted “ticking time bomb” scenario, the pro/con analysis stops at the point when the explosion occurs thus it does not include massive outpouring of support for the victims- like the worldwide support for American efforts immediately after 911 and condemnation of the terrorists, which may well be more effective at reducing future attacks than gargantuan military efforts.

    I’m guessing that Mr. Arnold, a former Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning, would agree:
    http://www.rense.com/general85/corri.htm

  42. knarlyknight Says:

    or, for those who prefer cartoons, this is entertaining:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cyiD6rjX7Q&feature=related

  43. Smith Says:

    shcb,

    You seem to have missed to point of my comment about your characterization of MOST people who oppose torture. The comment did not hinge upon whether you characterize all or most of those who oppose torture as wanting to make friends. The main point is that when one knowingly (I know you are intelligent enough to realize that the “let’s just be friends” claim is unrealistic) utilizes a strawman to characterize his opponents’ position, he is deliberately avoiding considering any opposing views when establishing his own position. People do themselves a disservice when they refuse to try to understand any ideas that contradict or conflict with their own. We can all learn from considering accurate representations of other’s views, even if we ultimately dismiss those views in favor of our own. Furthermore, I have never met a single person who claimed to oppose torture because they wanted to be best friends with terrorists. I feel quite certain that the hordes of hippies who are screaming “let’s just be friends” at terrorists exist solely in the minds of the talking heads on the TV/radio and do not exist in reality. It may well be the case that there are a handful of people who genuinely advocate this idea, but I am positive that they are a very small minority within the anti-torture community.

    To return to the actual issue of torture, I think it is interesting that you suggest that we need an additional convention to address the issue of “unlawful/enemy combatants”. There are already protocols in place that address this issue. An addition to the Geneva Conventions (commonly called Protocol I) was adopted in 1977. This protocol expands the definition of “Prisoner of War” to include (as I understand it) individuals who are not uniformed, but carry there arms openly when deployed or engaged in combat (Art 44.3). Furthermore, it grants protections for all those affected by the conflict who do not fall into any of the defined categories (prisoner of war, medic, civilian, etc.). These are the minimum protections that are to be provided to anyone involved in the conflict and include prohibitions against “torture of all kinds, whether physical or mental”. It also mandates that “any person arrested, detained or interned for actions related to the armed conflict shall be informed promptly, in a language he understands, of the reasons why these measures have been taken.” (Art 75). The key problem with Protocol I is that although the US signed it, the US government never officially ratified this addition to the established conventions. Based on this, I think we can easily ascertain the problem with further conventions. If the US wishes to use torture, it will refuse to formally tie itself to any international agreement that would prohibit its use. (Note, I am not an expert on International Law, so it is possible that I have misinterpreted the claims of Protocol I. I encourage anyone who is interested to read the text of the Protocol here: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9b287a42141256739003e636b/f6c8b9fee14a77fdc125641e0052b079).

    I am not really sure what the point of your comments about your and Nancy P’s response to a future attack is. Are you just trying to say that people are too lazy to analyze anything and instead just resort to a knee-jerk reaction? Honestly, anyone who would attempt to use a single data point (the hypothetical future attack) to justify their believes has absolutely no comprehension of causation, correlation, or any other elements involved with analyzing data. The logic used to claim “Bush was right” in light of a future attack could just as easily be used to claim “Clinton was right” in response to 9/11. Reaction like that are not very productive and do nothing to find or solve the problem that lead to the attack’s success.

  44. NorthernLite Says:

    Smith,

    Just as a heads up, shcb is the strawman master. I actually think he builds them all day in his shed.

  45. NorthernLite Says:

    He also the analogy master. But unlike his strawman skills, I actually quite often get a kick out some of his analogies.

  46. Smith Says:

    J.A.Y.S.O.N,

    If you’ll forgive me for going of an a bit of a tangent here, I found your comments about the 8th Amendment to be interesting. As I am sure you are well aware, the Bill of Rights was not included in the initial form of the Constitution. Many of the Framers were actually opposed to the inclusion of a “Bill of Rights”. These amendments that we hold so dear today were only added when individuals (who were probably refer to by the 1700s equivalent of “bleeding-heart”) threatened to vote against the ratification of the constitution if such protections were not explicitly written into the document. To avoid extending this tangent any further, I will point those who are interested in further reading on this topic to Federalist 84 http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fed84.htm in which Alexander Hamilton argues against the BoR, and Anti-Federalist 84 http://www.wepin.com/articles/afp/afp84.html, in which an individual, who many historians assume is Robert Yates, argues for the BoR.

    knarlyknight,

    I rather enjoy using the works and ideas of Philosophers in discussions such as this. I think one of the problems with relying solely on talking heads (like O’Reilly, Hannity, Jon Stewart, Greenwald, etc.) is the tendency to politicize issues that should transcend politics. Torture should not be reduced to a political issue. It is a matter of human rights and should be approached in as a matter of ethics, not some political issue that is toyed with to garner votes. Reducing torture to legalistic terms distances from the actual issue that is being considered. We are no longer discussing whether it is appropriate to inflict suffering upon a captive human, but rather we discuss whether they are “prisoners of war” or if they have access to the rights granted to the citizens of a country. I feel that removing ourselves from our actions in this fashion makes it easier to commit various atrocities. Hannah Arendt’s notion of “the banality of evil” addresses this to some degree.

  47. knarlyknight Says:

    Northernlite – Good idea to give Smith some forewarnings, so he need not go through the frustration of discovering that through experience. If you think we should compile a more complete list about shcb’s use of logical fallacies I could help you with that, but first I’ll need to upgrade the memory card in my PC. How many more exchanges with shcb do you think it will take until Smith becomes utterly frustrated and with resignation comes to realize that Enkidu-esque mockery is the simplest and most effective way to deal with the Strawman Heeding Confused Boob?

    Smith – I’m increasingly amazed at your combination of knowledge, intelligence, tact and patience (but don’t quit your day job, the pay here sucks.) I’ll take a look after work at the Protocols link that you provided. By the way, what do you do in real life?

  48. Smith Says:

    I have another comment that is awaiting moderation. I assume it is because I included two links in the comment. Am I correct in this belief?

    To add some content to this, JBC, CKL seems to feel that this blog had a different character in the 90s than it does now. Do you feel his assessment is correct? I have only be reading this site since 2003, so I am afraid I missed out on the “magic” he spoke of. I am quite certain that the regular posters in your comment section have changed since I have been visiting this site, but I feel that the quality of articles that you post have been consistent through the last ~6 years. I applaud you for continuing to call out political nonsense even after Bush has departed and the Democrats have taken control.

  49. shcb Says:

    Let’s look at the replay. I used the word “many”, now in my mind that is somewhere around 30% to say 60% of the sample depending on what we are talking about, above that it becomes “most” and then something like “the vast majority”. Then you use the word “all” in place of my word “many”. All would be somewhere in the above 95% range. Then I reiterated many and you have changed it again to “most”. I said many. Now that doesn’t mean this is their only reason, people rarely base opinions on only one factor. I can see where you might say I posed a straw man because I wasn’t clear that there were probably more than one factor involved but I think your mischaracterization of what I said is a greater sin. So to clarify:

    I think in many people’s minds that are opposed to these interrogations one of their objectives are to make friends or at least not inflame our enemies.

    You see I’m the only conservative here and being mischaracterized is a constant battle, it has become something of a maintenance issue with me, you have to keep up with it as it happens. Now I could go to an equally far right wing site and become the “reasonable liberal” but what fun is there in discussing these issues with people that agree with you?

  50. Smith Says:

    shcb,

    I was only attempting to encourage you to sharpen your mind and cultivate intellectual curiosity by suggesting that you be willing to expose yourself to opposing viewpoints and evaluate them on their merits instead of attempting to create false claims that may be easy to shoot down. If you choose to ignore my point and instead focus solely on some minor semantical issue that is irrelevant to my claim, that is your loss. There are no hard feelings, but I don’t believe it to be profitable to further labor this point.

    Oh, and if you feel that I have misrepresented you in any way, you have my apologies. I certainly did not intend to do so. Sometimes I pay too much attention to the larger point I am trying to make, and I may inadvertently misreport some minor element that I do not feel is important to the main idea I am focusing on. Changing “many” to “most” and “all” was a careless mistake, and I did not intend to portray you in a negative light.

    Having said that, I am interested to hear your opinion on the information I have posted regarding the Geneva Conventions. I feel that is the real substance of my post and I think it has potential to produce a meaningful discussion.

    knarly and NL,

    While I appreciate your warnings, I have actually been reading this site for many years but have only recently felt inclined to post. I sincerely feel that everyone here is capable of participating in a good spirited debate if they are given the opportunity to do so.

  51. knarlyknight Says:

    Smith – It is encouraging to hear that that someone with your apparent sense still has hope. Good luck.

  52. Smith Says:

    knarlyknight,

    At the risk of sounding like a pretentious ass (assuming that I don’t already), I generally avoid discussing much about my real life on the Internet. I try to view all the people I interact with as being my peers. I worry that revealing my job, degree, etc. could alter the manner in which people respond to me. For instance, if I were to say that I was a judge, other participates may feel that they should be overly deferential and may accept any legalistic arguments I make based on my status as opposed to the actual merits of my claims. Likewise, I feel that if I were to claim to be a stock boy at Wal-Mart, my fellow posters may feel inclined to dismiss me as being uneducated and ignore my arguments. Additionally, no one could determine whether I was being honest in my description, or if I had presented false information in order to artificially boost my status. I feel the beauty of the Internet is that it enables people to interact without being tied down by prejudices, status, and other social conventions that maybe adversely impact our discussions.

    Oh, and my other comment is no longer in moderation. I posted it shortly after my Protocol I post, and it addresses some of J.A.Y.S.O.N and knarlyknight’s claims.

  53. NorthernLite Says:

    Is anyone else getting a kick out of Republicans calling for Pelosi to be impeached or resign because she may have lied about knowing about torture?

    Does the GOP not see how stupid this is? If she’s lying of course she should go…

    But as long as we’re going after liars… I think there’s some people out there that are still pretty peeved about being lied to go to war for 6+ years and virtually accomplish nothing, but waste a trillion dollars and many thousands of lives.

    So it’s okay to develop, authorize and use torture techniques, but it’s not okay to know about them. I’m really starting to understand why membership in the Republican Party is dwindling; they’re not making any sense and are acting extremely erratic. And now I hear Limpdick dissing General Powell…good grief.

    Makes for some great entertainment though.

  54. shcb Says:

    Smith,

    I don’t think my claim was false as I stated it, it would be false as you stated it however. It may have been a little incomplete but I think it is fair that people can fill in some of those blanks, if not these posts would start to look like a legal or technical document. I also don’t know what would make you believe I haven’t considered opposing views and haven’t evaluated them on their merits. I also try and explain why I oppose those views, if I do, in great length. As anyone here will verify in great length.

    As to Protocol I am glad Carter didn’t sign it or the Senate didn’t ratify it, whichever were the case. If Carter didn’t sign it, it is one of the few things I agree with him on. See, open mind.

    Now the well thought out reason: it would effectively cancel out the 4th convention. How can you protect civilians if you don’t know who they are. I think protecting innocent people is more important than protecting those that target innocent people.

  55. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Smith,

    Not to be flip, but either I don’t get your point or you don’t get mine. I mean, Patrick Henry would have also rather had a king, but that didn’t happen. We also had an Articles of Confederation before a Constitution, which isn’t relevant to my argument. The same applies to the pro and con arguments for the Bill of Rights.

    I’m not sure if we want to characterize the pro-BOR founders as bleeding hearts or not, I personally always found their arguments more compelling than the antis. Again though, while a flip comment on my part, its also irrelevant to my argument. The argument you site is a completely dead argument, one settled long ago. The Bill of Rights is one of our most revered arguments. I doubt you’d find many in 21st century America who feel we’d be better off without them. My argument was that to a great many people, it’s the codification of our ethical beliefs into law, even if there was an argument at the beginning as to it’s necessity.

  56. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    Actually, I think I see what you’re saying, intellectually. I worded my initial argument poorly.

  57. shcb Says:

    …besides, appeasing your enemy or your friends is a legitimate argument, I personally don’t find it works very often and I think it is a fools errand in the case of Iran and Iraq but that is due to some degree to my personality, I tend to be an independent loaner, I’m not a good leader and an even worse follower. I can lead and I will follow, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I think the carrot approach has worked with several of our enemies or potential enemies in the Mid East, but I don’t think it will work with others. That is why we debate these things.

  58. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb – a couple observations on your last post, no need to respond… (1) it is nice to hear that you’re easing off the sheet of glass position; perhaps Obama is having a bigger positive impact on America than we give him credit for having; (2) “potential enemies” is a meaningless term as it can apply to anyone or everyone depending on a person’s particular level of paranoia (or lack of confidence in being able to maintain a win/win relationship that surpasses the alternatives for both sides.)

    Smith – FYI – getting a comment dumped in the moderation queue is more likely if there are more than two links in your post.

    Also, there seems to be a somewhat random algorithm based on the frequency of a person’s posts, their length, the number of links included (and the linked-to site’s obscurity/political incorrectness), and the frequency that a person’s previous posts have been sent to the moderation queue. The “greater” the value of each of those variables the more likely a post will go to the queue.

    Also, sometimes when submitting a link the post is recognized (i.e. identical post cannot be re-submitted) but the post does not appear. The solution for that – most all of the time – is to delete the “http://” from the front of the link, so that it starts with the standard “www” (However, best to check that the shortened link still works as occasionally it seems to require the “http://”)

    Smith – Re: the benefits of internet privacy / anonymity, while I find nothing to take issue with in your comments from a general perspective, (www.lies.com/wp/2009/05/15/jon-stewart-on-obamas-moral-kombat/#comment-148722) the fact is that regardless of whatever real background information one provides or fake persona is constructed, what a person has to say, at least here, eventually transcends that identity and most people here extend respect or lack thereof based on the combined quality of the posts rather tha nthe perspective.

    A couple examples to illustrate that. (1) do not tell shcb, but I admire his clear competency in how the US gov’t functions – it’s as if he paid attention in high school citizenship classes and then went on to self-educate to a level at least equivalent to any political science graduate and likely more pratical (ditto for US history, despite what I consider his radically skewed perspective.) That’s my opinion, and I suspect it is not a lone view. (2) Note the “most” above, as the exception that supports your stated opinion (about prejudging) and perhaps is the exception that “proves the rule” that such biases are not the norm is that for a while Enkidu was mistaken for a fighter pilot and he received some extra deferential treatment from a few people as a result. Finally, (3) there is (a) ample skepticism about what a person claims to be their occupation or education level, and (b) such a wide variation in skills and abilities within any given profession that stating it has little impact anyway e.g. Alberto Gonzales’ resume may have seemed impressive had he been posting here and revealed it, but it’s certain his posts would have still come across as being by a lameass dork lawyer wannabe.

    Those were just some observations, it is entirely reasonable for you to maintain anonymity. Besides, based on your posts most of us are all but certain that your day job is wrestling alligators.

    FYI – The reason I asked originally was an idle curiousity as to whether your demonstrated skill / knowledge here was being applied for reasonably productive social purposes or whether it was mostly being wasted on a stack of bricks or some such thing.

  59. knarlyknight Says:

    Link in first para to Smith is: http://www.lies.com/wp/2009/05/15/jon-stewart-on-obamas-moral-kombat/#comment-148722

  60. shcb Says:

    Knarly,

    When I said potential enemies I was referring to countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, etc. I think we pulled out all the diplomatic stops to keep them from joining in.

  61. shcb Says:

    Knarly,

    I don’t think I have changed my tone so much as you have just been listening a little better the last few days. Cliff May said after the Stewart interview he received quite a few emails from viewers of the show, in those emails they said while they still disagreed with May, the interview was civil enough, and May was persuasive enough, that they had given it more thought and realized May had made some good points.

  62. knarlyknight Says:

    shcb – wrong & wrong…

    I never said you changed your tone so much, you haven’t.

    I am not listening any differently in the last few days. I still disagree with you as much as ever, it’s just refreshing to read Smith expressing many of my own thoughts in far more coherent forms.

  63. knarlyknight Says:

    And lest I be accused of placing Smith on too high of a pedestal, let me say that his posts pales in comparison to the articulation of Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York City District Attorney:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-holtzman/the-phony-debate-about-to_b_205960.html

    Excerpt:

    Military interrogations in wartime are critically important. They might reveal, for example, where the enemy is going to strike next, and affect the lives of thousands of American troops. Yet until the Bush Administration took office, the US did not adopt torture as an official tool to extract such information. It’s good to recall why.
    After horrific mistreatment of detainees during World War II, including the torture of American POW’s by the Japanese, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces, urged the US to ratify the Geneva Conventions. General Douglas McArthur voluntarily instituted the Conventions for American troops in the Korean War, even before they were ratified.
    These commanders supported the Geneva Conventions, not because they thought it acceptable to “tie our hands” during combat and expose American troops to unnecessary risk, but because they realized the real danger to our country lay in using torture, not in abstaining from it.

  64. shcb Says:

    And as far as I can see Bush adhered to the Geneva conventions where they applied. I haven’t read the article yet, does she say what the generals opinions were of the enemy that didn’t follow the Geneva Conventions?

    I think the conventional wisdom at the time was they should be executed. Hmmm, rubber wall, execution, rubber wall, execution. I’ll take the rubber wall sir.

  65. knarlyknight Says:

    Her argument cited reasons that torture is stupid, regardless of what the enemy is wearing. The general’s opinions seemed to be that the following the Geneva conventions was smart for America regardless of the barbarity of the enemy. One does not maintain the moral highground by adopting the the enemy’s low ground. To extend the quote above (you really should read the artticle yourself, this is but a tiny fragment of the arguments):

    These commanders supported the Geneva Conventions, not because they thought it acceptable to “tie our hands” during combat and expose American troops to unnecessary risk, but because they realized the real danger to our country lay in using torture, not in abstaining from it. They saw professional interrogations produced important information without torture. They knew torture only weakens our reputation and our ability to project “soft power” — to command respect and persuade abroad. They perceived inhumane treatment of the enemy would only further endanger the lives of American troops.

    Re: the “rubber wall”, that is wrong. (It’s just another of your strawmen, clearly intended to trivialize the brutality inflicted by your military and CIA.)

    Pictures and testimony prove both that the cell walls were cement and that injuries sustained by impacts with those walls were severe and in many cases only after this initial physical damage was a thin plywood sheet rested against the cement as a “cushion” for continued beatings.

    After an inmate endured this type of treatment for months (you’d think all their ticking time bombs would have all exploded by then huh?) or years they were at extreme risk for suicide. At one point about half the inmates of Guantanamo were trying to starve themselves to death to stop the torture.

    So the choice wasn’t really between a rubber wall and execution now, was it? And given the real choice, execution often would have been preferrrable for the prisoner (whether or not they were guilty of anything more than being on the wrong street at the wrong time.)

  66. shcb Says:

    Just a little housecleaning, notice how many times Obama talks about appeasing our friends and enemies (my wording) it’s all about priorities. I stand by my statement that one of the reasons many, not all, and not most people that oppose these interrogations do so to make nice with people that really don’t like us very much.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/21/obama-cheney-excerpts-national-security/

  67. knarlyknight Says:

    No, “appeasement” is not on the table. Aggressive and intelligent tactics are replacing brutal and stupid collossal screw-ups. That will bring an effective prosecution of the asymetrical conflict with al qaeda. As for your post, and “your wording”, let’s let Obama comment directly:

    “And we will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I’ve heard words that are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country.”

  68. Smith Says:

    shcb,

    I feel I have already said all that I need to about the “making friends” issue. If you wish to continue that discussion, you are free to do so, but I will leave it to others here to debate it with you.

    As to the torture issue, I am not sure what the cheap shot at Carter adds to the conversation, so I will just disregard that for the time being. I am really not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that Protocol I would cancel out the fourth convention. If you will read back over my initial post regarding to Protocol, you will find that POW status is only extended to those who openly carry arms against the opposing force. Combatants who attempt to disguise themselves as civilians and then shoot soldiers in the back after they have passed by would not be entitled to POW status under this amendment. The protocol still requires that combatants openly reveal that they are engaging in armed combat, it just removes the requirement of being uniformed.

    Furthermore, if you would read through the entire protocol instead of basing your response solely on the >1% that I cited, you would find that it explicitly prohibits disguising oneself as a civilian in order to “kill, injure or capture an adversary”. Article 37 addresses perfidy and section 1.c of that article lists “the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status” as being prohibited under the rules of war. So, not only does this article deny POW status to those who attempt disguise themselves as civilians in order to harm troops, it also clearly states that such an act goes against the rules of war, which should allow the person to be held on and charge with war crimes.

    Lastly, it would be naive to assume that an enemy will not attempt to imitate a civilian unless the US ratifies this treaty. The government has not agreed to these conditions, but I can state with a high level of certainty that our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan still attempt to act as civilians while engaging our troops. The difficulties in protecting and identifying civilians during a conflict already exist. The protocol would not create any new problems. As I have already stated, this act does not extend POW status to those who act in a perfidious manner, so there would be no new protections granted to those who would attempt to impair the military’s ability to identify civilians. So, the onus is now on you to show how Protocol I could negatively impact our ability to protect civilians.

  69. Smith Says:

    J.A.Y.S.O.N,

    I see that you realized what I was trying to say, but I will go ahead and clarify my intent for any others who may be interested. Unfortunately, I did not phrase my comments well and may have given the impression that I was attempting to refute your claims. I actually generally agree with the content your earlier post. I just saw it as a springboard for a different discussion. The main point that I wanted to raise is that today’s “controversial, bleeding-heart idea” is tomorrow’s “integral part of our national identity”. I would imagine that the Sean Hannities of the 1700s would have taken shots at those who would advocate the Bill of Rights, or the Constitution, or any other critical issues of the day. However, now we take such ideas for granted and see them as part of who we are.

    My other goal was just to encourage those who have not read the Federalists and Anti-Federalists to consider giving them a look. I think they make for an interesting read and give a lot of insight into the ideas behind and concerns about the Constitution.

  70. shcb Says:

    Smith, as far as the “making friends” issue goes, consider it dropped, you got caught and I called you out on it, then you couldn’t help yourself and did it again, I’m used to it.

    Protocol I was signed during the Carter administration and then not ratified, either Carter or the Senate didn’t sign it, I don’t know which but I’m glad they didn’t.

    Section 44 paragraph 3 and 4. It gives all the right reasons why soldiers need to be in uniform, and then says they need to be in uniform, but then says they will be accorded all rights of a POW if they aren’t. It basically says that they need to be in uniform unless it is inconvenient. But of course if you have no air force and no tanks, the best way to defeat an armored vehicle is to camouflage yourself and pop up with an antitank weapon. If you are in a crowded street the best camouflage is to dress as the civilians. It is very inconvenient to be looking down the barrel of a coaxial 30 cal. So now it has become inconvenient for us to be clearly marked, it is equally inconvenient to be looking down the barrel of an RPG, so let’s dress our guys up as civilians, now how do we know who to shoot? And how do they know who to shoot? Civilians come out the big losers.

    I wasn’t basing my comments on what you posted, I had read this document front to back years ago. But thanks for bringing it up, it was good to go back and look at it again.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.