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August 26, 2005

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» Not A Good Week For Justice from Bloodless Coup
You may, or may not, remember the case of a young Afghani who was taken/arrested/seized by the US military and held in Afghanistan. He died in our custody. This week, after a military investigation and military trials, the punishments were... [Read More]

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This is the song The Big Trunk stole from Bob Dylan. Hilzoy's stealin' it back. [Read More]

Comments

When can we have our country back ?
-- Signed, Decent Citizens of America

Applying for a job as waitress at the Whiskey Bar? Good post, because or in spite of that.

I recall a city shining on a hill, or something.

Or perhaps,

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Freedom is on the march!

Linked here.

I can't say anything else about this, at least not now, or I'd throw my computer out this third story window.

Ugh evokes Lincoln. I'm thinking we need another Teddy Roosevelt.

I've been pondering populist versus top-down progressivism, and am not very sanguine with what I'm coming up with.

As someone who believes deeply in the American ideal, I would infinitely prefer we "get our country back" as a result of a widespread awakening that translates into a thorough overhaul of elected leaders and, for that matter, the political process.

As someone whose belief has been deeply shaken by how many Americans eagerly betrayed our ideals (and in fact seem to regard those ideals as precious hothouse flowers: things to be admired but not actually acted upon), I'm not sure I trust in a widespread awakening. Maybe we do need someone like TR, or FDR - or, God help us, our very own Gorbachev - to lead the way.

When will we get our country back?

At this point, unless we're very fortunate, I'm inclined to say "Not for at least 40 years."

hilzoy:

You are in a league of your own.

Another silver bullet. Kudos

"I'm thinking we need another Teddy Roosevelt."

The man who said: "If there is not the war, you don't get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don't get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name."

And: "The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages, though it is apt to be also the most terrible and inhuman. The rude, fierce settler who drives the savage from the land lays all civilized mankind under a debt to him. ...[I]t is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races.
– Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West: Book IV (1896)

When great nations fear to expand, shrink from expansion, it is because their greatness is coming to an end. Are we, still in the prime of our lusty youth, still at the beginning of our glorious manhood, to sit down among the outworn people, to take our place with the weak and the craven? A thousand times no!
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech justifying the war against Spain, at Akron, Ohio (September, 1899)

And so on. He felt that wars strengthened youth. He was a racist.

Of course, most of what he said was damn admirable, and he was a great man and a great President, and I could write for hours about his admirable qualities, which, yes, we could use, and which you had in mind, I know. I just felt a need to point out he might not quite be the perfect man for our times, though.

Gary: noted, granted, and agreed.

And, yes, I did have in mind TR's better traits: The trust-busting, national park creating, intellectually vigorous TR. Also because the America that Bush and the GOP are creating is a lot like the America that elected Teddy.

Oh, and "not the perfect man for our times"?

Honey, I'd settle for TR, warts and all, over the banal and evil yahoos currently infecting our country.

Honey, I'd settle for TR, warts and all, over the banal and evil yahoos currently infecting our country.

Hell, I'd take Nixon!

This is so not surprising I'm having trouble working up any outrage. Someone wake me when the resourceful sleeping-bag guy gets a wrist-slap and his superiors get rewarded.

Outrage has been my permanent condition since
1968.

Actually two have been nominated for federal appellate judgeships: Bybee and Haynes. Only Bybee was confirmed, though.

This is going to f**king stop. It's a question of when.

"Outrage has been my permanent condition since 1968."

But no one would ever have known if you hadn't mentioned it.

;-)

Thanks, Katherine. Corrected ;)

CaseyL: About whether change has to come from above or below: I think it's hard to say. Luckily, we don't really need to answer that question, since what each of us has to do is: work for change, wherever we happen to be situated.

rilkefan: I gave up being surprised ages ago, but I think it would actually be bad to stop being outraged by things that are genuinely outrageous.

Jeanne d'Arc, or Body and Soul, offers further details:

"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his god," Specialist Jones said to investigators. "Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."

Other Third Platoon M.P.'s later came by the detention center and stopped at the isolation cells to see for themselves, Specialist Jones said.

It became a kind of running joke, and people kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out 'Allah,' " he said. "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes.

Too bad for him that he was calling out to the wrong god, although he and his tormenters agreed that there was only one.

Sophoclean (Seamus Heaney)

First he was shivering on the shore in skins
Or hunkering behind shell-middens in a cave.
Then he took up oars, put tackle on a mast,
And steered himself by the stars through gales.

Once upon a time from the womb of earth
The gods were born and he bowed down
To worship them. Then he walked tall
From temple to agora, talking against himself.

The wind is no more swift or mysterious
Than his mind and words; he has mastered thinking,
Roofed his house against hail and rain,
And worked out laws for living together.

Homemaker, thought-taker, measure of all things,
He survives every danger except death
And will yield to nothing else. Nothing
Else, good or evil, is beyond him.

When truth is the treadle of his loom
And justice the shuttle, all due honor
Will come his way. But let him once
Overbear or overstep

What the city allows, treat law
As something he can decide for himself -
Then let this marvel of the world remember:
When he comes begging we will turn our backs.

Blogbudsman: "Whatever we do now, we have ..... established our moral authority both by responding to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere to occur and then holding everyone high up in the military or civilian leadership accountable"

Blogbudsman: "Thankfully, the smear campaign has probably had little, if no affect on our true station in the world. Our money is still welcome."

I'm disappointed -- this post has been up for more than eight hours now, and the First Redstate Crack Snark and Mockery Squad has not yet shown up to start their coordinated jeering and distraction exercises. They're slipping.

"But no one would ever have known if you hadn't mentioned it."

There was an element of self-mockery implied. :) My lack of ulcers or high blood pressure is considered amazing by those who know me, and even a little unfair.

"but I think it would actually be bad to stop being outraged by things that are genuinely outrageous."

My-my-my generation is famous for surrendering, but of course this would have not made the news in 1970. Not for corruption or apathy, but because there was a lot of bad news. I empathize with the sufferers of outrage overload.

"But let him once
Overbear or overstep

What the city allows, treat law
As something he can decide for himself -
Then let this marvel of the world remember:
When he comes begging we will turn our backs"

Sophocles de man. But I think he tilted the Chorus too much toward Antigone, and wrecked what could have been a pretty decent play.

Command responsibility in action. How they can speak the word 'honor' without choking on it is a mystery.

Phil,don't want to disappoint you, I read the post last night and decided it was time for an execratory function and bed,seperately that is. I also hate th interrupt the delicious spasms of self rightousness that,inborn it seems,delight the left,nay keeps them alive. Some American soldiers during this war have behaved as brutes,a first for this site and a revelation into human nature. Unnecessary it is to search thru history for like examples,American or otherwise. I might offer Curt LeMay's titanic fire bombing of Japan's cities,wooden buildings,women,children and all but that might prove a distraction and far be it from me to prove an obstacle to the helium like self inflation that is the hallmark of this site. Was it just a few days ago that a poster was being taken to task for using a female soldiers heroism for his own agenda?? Well in a sane world,or a sane site,would not the reverse also be true,why emphasize the brutality of some for your own purpose. I look,and may have missed it,but where is the distinction between the small number of malfactors and the incomparably greater number represented by that young female officer. Have,or can you say, that the latter example has been given gretaer weight than the former? I believe that such an exercise might contribute to something like balance,or even fairness but then it wouldn't be as interesting. Look at it this way,America is not defined by the excesses of a few therefore you don't,as a few have dramtically put it,take your country back for that reason. This is apart from the fact that it is not YOUR country to take back. And that is apart from the fact that your party seems unable to win elections. But then that's due to fraud isn't it. Do not construe anything in this post as excusing the type of treatment that brings a tear to Hilzoy's eye but i can't rid myself of the apparently singular notion that there is something called perspective. There Phil,didn't want you to think the red States,those demons of reaction,ignorance,and cruelty were sitting this one out.

in today's episode, johnt plays the role of Part of the Problem.

Perfect, john! Just the ticket! (I really do love your soap, though.)

You appeared to have been confused by my reference to "Redstate." It doesn't have anything to do with "red States, those demons of blah blah blah." I'm from a so-called "red state," and I live in one, too.

nd that is apart from the fact that your party seems unable to win elections. But then that's due to fraud isn't it.

Where was the LP accused of fraud?

Now all that's needed is for Trevino or M. Scott to come skulking around saying:
"the systems works. they were punished. Sorry, but try again"
Spiced up, of course, with a dash of arrogant dismissiveness.

johnt: Just to be clear here, do you think the punishments fit the crime? I haven't seen anyone here claim that these types of atrocities (and that's what they are) have never occurred in any past conflicts. Try another red herring please...

"If there is not the war, you don't get the great general"

This one at least has the merit of being true. Unfortunately the converse is not, something that TR (and more recent Presidents) seem to forget.

Phil, please stop slandering Dr. Bronner. He used many more exclamation points, but did manage to figure out that commas are followed by spaces. Also, of course, his writings have a distinct lack of bitter-Republican vibe, and I don't remember any defenses of torture on the Peppermint Castile Soap.

"johnt: paragraph breaks."

My preferred formulation for many years has been: "Mr. Paragraph is your friend."

johnt: why emphasize the brutality of some for your own purpose

Because we pay them to do what they are doing, and therefore have a right, and I would say a duty, to call them out on what they do. Especially when our leadership does not.

Commas make their own spaces. [channeling e.e.cummings]

A fellow named Gwynne Dyer wrote a terrific book about war called, well, "War." I first read it many years ago, for a class on International Conflicts. I hear it's been reprinted, updated for the "WoT" age.

One of the book's many, many delicious bits is Dyer's suggestion that war-as-policy began when one tribe of humans, faced with a surplus of rambunctious hormone-crazed adolescent males, decided to cook up a grievance against another tribe that lived some convenient distance away and sent the youngsters thataway to loot and pillage. The set-upon tribe of course lost no time deciding it needed revenge. And so on and so forth.

It seems almost quaint now to remember a time when people really believed there could be and would be an end to war. We as a species have come up with a plethora of alternative dispute resolution methods: diplomacy, international law, international courts, non-military sanctions. We've even come up with a plethora of surrogate-war activities that are supposed to channel violence, tribalism, and excess testosterone into less destructive pasttimes: organized sports being the most widespread one of those.

Problem is, we still don't know what to do about tinpot dictators and dictator wanna-bes who love the cachet that comes of being a Great War Leader. Nor do we know what to do about the people at large who think war is a satisfying way to get personal/political validation. And the latter group is, I think, the more important one. Without the yee-haw chorus, there's no cachet for the tinpots.

What ever happened to the administration of personal responsibility?

These people disgust me.

Via TalkLeft: around one hundred prisoners are again on a hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay to protest against prisoner abuse - and their continued detainment without charges being brought. The intent is, so one prisoner apparently told his lawyer, to cause a human rights scandal for the US government the only way left for them: by dying.

"A fellow named Gwynne Dyer wrote a terrific book about war called, well, 'War.'"

Which was made into a tv documentary series, shown in America on PBS.

to all of my fans,I'm still trying to absorb all the substance in your responses. I'll ignore all the frustrated English teacher/schoolmarms for the simple reason that here style doesn't matter. There,that takes care of the substance so now on to other matters. KCinDC,try as you might you can't find any defense of torture and what's the use of faulting grammer and punctuation if you fail at reading comprehension. Amos Newcombe, it is the leadership that is investigating these incidents. Did not the Times get it's story from official sources. Bobzilla"does punishment fit crime",probably not,based on what we know from the Times. You probably haven't seen anyone claim that these types of atrocities have never occurred in other wars because the OBWI crowd is fixated on this one and as I try,and succeed, in pointing out such admissions or awareness would only stand in the way of a precious indignation. Ah Phil,all that hard work of mine and all I get back is a hint of where you live. Glad however to see your a LP supporter,maybe you can convert some of the lost sheep,maybe weave a few more small gov't,flat tax themes into your posts. I do think you get the point about one of the two major parties however. Look forward to reading your autobiography. Now that I know that block style posting bothers you all I will take a special joy in annoying the shit out of you. I happen to think there were a few points there that could have been addressed but for reasons I will save for future comments I will hold off at this time.

Gwynne Dyer has a worthwhile website, where many of his articles are archived.

johnt: "I will take a special joy in annoying the shit out of you."

You might,wish,to reviewthe,posting rules.

There's a never ending supply of people convinced that they can somehow be persuasive in written English without having to bother to learn how to punctuate or be coherent, and who haven't noticed that incoherent messages mostly go unread (or should).

Of course, their case is proven by the way magazines, newspapers, books, and written texts of all kinds, that are popular are all badly punctuated, incoherent, and full of solecisms. Because "it doesn't matter." Fussbudgets! It doesn't matter if one can't write, when writing! Just scrawling letters and expecting mind-reading (and interest) does the trick!

It's just as well; it's a useful self-selection mechanism. And it has a certain amusement value, in a tedious sort of way.

"...it has a certain amusement value, in a tedious sort of way."

Perfectly put, GF.

2shoes - thanks! What a find! I've bookmarked that link.

GF: There's a never ending supply of people convinced that they can somehow be persuasive in written English without having to bother to learn how to punctuate or be coherent.


rilkefan's worst nightmare, for instance.

From A Farewell to Arms(1932)

[Gino] "Have you ever noticed the difference [food] makes in the way you think?"

"Yes," I said. "It can't win a war but it can lose one."

"We won't talk about losing. There is enough talk about losing. What has been done this summer cannot have been done in vain."

I did not say anything. I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene besides the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rives, the numbers of regiments and the dates. Gino was a patriot, so he said things that separated us sometimes, but he was also a fine boy and I understood his being a patriot. He was born one. He left with Peduzzi in the car to go back to Gorizia.

Bob --

I don't think the chorus is pro-Antigone, just anti-Creon....

Ted

johnt: I'll ignore all the frustrated English teacher/schoolmarms for the simple reason that here style doesn't matter.

Actually, I think you'll find it does: for example, if you genuinely want the people you are responding to to read your comments (and perhaps even respond to them) you can show them that you do by breaking your single long paragraph up into several paragraphs, one per response, each paragraph beginning with the name of the person to whom you are responding.

Once you've mastered that, you could move on to some basic HTML codes like Bold and Italic. But I would recommend that you learn how to use paragraph breaks, first.

Have we gone back so far that Hemingway once again seems poignant?

You probably haven't seen anyone claim that these types of atrocities have never occurred in other wars because the OBWI crowd is fixated on this one and as I try,and succeed, in pointing out such admissions or awareness would only stand in the way of a precious indignation.

"Fixated" -- I suppose it doesn't occur to you that paying attention to what is going on right now might make some kind of sense.

"Other Wars" -- I'm sure whenever you get stopped speeding, you tell the officer about all the other people who drove by just as fast. And that she/he says, 'oh, I hadn't thought of that' and rips up the ticket.

It's always possible to find a worse example for nearly anything. Looking into the past, we find that the bar for 'nobody's ever been this bad' is pretty low. So?

As you see in the post, in this situation, the President, and especially the Sec of State, staked out a different position. They claimed that our conduct would be an exemplar. Not of how to do better than has been done in some previous conflict, but of how to do better than anyone would ever expect. Call the price for American Exceptionalism (I'm using the CC definition for this term).

it is the leadership that is investigating these incidents. Did not the Times get it's story from official sources.

To the extent that you are suggesting that the incidents charged are the only ones that have occurred, or that all other similar incidents have been investigated -- and I realize that you have not said these words -- you might want to rethink the logic. Certainly nothing the leadership has said publicly should be the basis for either belief. If you have them. Which you didn't directly say you did.

I tend to think that the 'leadership,' by which I mean the Sec of Defense and above, have as much to do with these investigations as the governor of Maryland has to do with the troopers that sometimes pull over people speeding on Interstate 95 between Washington and Baltimore. He didn't sign the speed limits into law, or design the force, and didn't particularly direct them to catch speeders on 95. He signs their annual appropriations, and doesn't actively impede them, so far as I can see. If I see a highway patrol car pull over a car from the Port Authority for speeding, I don't hail it as some triumph for the governor -- although if he had directed the highway patrol to be relentless in cracking down on speeding by state vehicles wherever he could find it, I might. If I saw one HP pull over one PA, and otherwise saw state vehicles speeding down I-95 daily, with the same level of enforcement as anyone else (ie, very slight) I wouldn't think that the governor had made good on a pledge to show Virginia how law abiding our state employees can be.

And to follow my metaphor on north towards Phildelphia (as it were) I especially wouldn't find a single ticket to be some great credit to the governor if I knew that his office had issued a memo calling speed limits 'quaint,' observing that the governor can suspend enforcement of speeding charges against any state employee, and arguing that there may well be times that speeding by particular employees would be in the public interest.

CharleyCarp Your 1st sentence,"fixated". As always just where do you get the impression that paying attention to this war,from my point of view,doesn't make sense? Next,"other wars",again,where do you find a plea for forgiveness,as in ripping up a speeding ticket. I know it's all so very useless but a poster asked me if I thought the punishment meted out to these soldiers fit the crime,and I responded that based on the info we had it didn't. The rest of your post follows from the opening confusion. Putting aside lenghty comparisons to highways,patrol cars,governers,and I guess road dividers it's fair to say that the administration and the Army are investigating what and where they can and punishing those they can. Are all sentences to our liking? Are they ever,either in civilian life or the military? If we are to ascribe guilt to the very top then maybe we should give credit to the "Governor" as well where it's due. However that might be asking too much. Whatever the reaction to this post,thanks at least for a substantive post of your own.

Gary Farber,you can mix amusement with the tedious,you must be quite jaded. It might have something to do with the emphasis of form over content,wade thru it and you'll find something that coheres and probably something that you can't or won't answer. Be of strong heart,I'm available for consultation. Just remember,limited minds receive limited but concise responses.

Johnt, if the comments about other wars weren't intended to mean that others have been worse and so we shouldn't worry about prisoner abuse now, then what was your intention in making them? If you don't like people seeing you as someone making excuses for torture and murder, then why make comments that sound like excuses for torture and murder?

You say "it's fair to say that the administration and the Army are investigating what and where they can and punishing those they can." What evidence do you have for that? I guess it depends on what exactly you mean by "can" -- maybe it's short for "can get away with". I suppose it all comes down to whether one has unshakable faith in the Bush administration's honesty.

To me it appears that they're investigating what makes its way into the media (and banning cameras should help in minimizing that) and punishing the lowest-level people (a few bad apples, somehow running throughout the system with no knowledge by higher-ups), often with light sentences.

it's fair to say that the administration and the Army are investigating what and where they can and punishing those they can.

KC has it exactly right on this.

I would add that it seems to me that giving very light sentences so completely undermines the claims that the Pres and Sec. Powell made as to worse, from a hearts and minds in Afghanistan perspective, than just covering it up.

I think the sentences are unforgivabbly light. Then again, I'm not sure exactly what these people were told they were supposed to do. I strongly suspect -- because my general default position absent contrary evidence is that the members of our armed forces follow orders* -- that they believed they were supposed to be doing what they did, and had this belief because of what their immediate superiors said and did. And so on up the line.

* Put another way, faced with a situation where I can only assume that one of the following is acting in good faith -- low level serviceman or appointee or higher -- I will always default to the service member, absent evidence. The reason is because the soldier is trained and selected for duties because of his/her willing to accept direction. The appointee is in place for his willingness to curry favor, and defer responsibility.

In my experience wrt AG and Af, this view is quite widely shared within the military, among enlisted people. Thus, I would expect that the light sentences are probably absolutely necessary within the military structure to preserve some semblance of morale. The only alternative would be holding people at the appointee level to some measure of responsibility, and that is not in the cards.

I don't think the chorus is pro-Antigone, just anti-Creon....

And once you've read Sophocles, you have to go on and read Anouilh. They form a very interesting counterpoint IMO.

A minor point, as to evidence from Abu Ghraib: we know there is evidence of worse activity than has been made public because Donald Rumsfeld attested to it. There has been plenty of discussion about the fact that this evidence has been withheld from the public.

So, when we ask "does the punishment fit the crime," keep in mind that the crimes are worse than has been revealed.

I just got back from Yukon Territory. My boyfriend and I spent some time "in the bush" away from the news. When we got back to Whitehorse I read my way through a pile of Canadian newspapers.
There supposedly was an experiment done on frogs that showed how organisms can get used to gradual changes but die from the shock of rapid change. Some science psycho put frogs in water that gradually got hotter and hotter until the frogs were boiling away, with no appearent stress about their situation. On the other hand, if the water was brought rapidly to a boil, the frogs died.
So I was of course in the position of the rapidly boiled frog, suddenly exposed to news about the USA, news in Canadian newspapers.
Robertson's fatwah was on the editorial page along with a joke about the US invading Iraq to get the oil. There was a humerous opinion piece on American hypocrisy contrasting, as above, American statements of high ideals and actual American behavior, and there was an article about Alaska, headlined "The Only Foreign Country that Still Welcomes Americans." There were lots of hard news articles about Iraq, forthrightly exposing Bush's failures. Through the filter of the Canadian press I saw a rogue nation, drunk on arrogant self-importance and bad religion, , getting its butt kicked by events in the Middle East, but too self-deluded to figure out its mistakes.
I keep reminding myself of all the horrible things other countries have done. Our crimes and failings are not unique in history.
But they are ours and I feel responisble and deeply ashamed.

Lily, the frog-boiling story is a useful metaphor, but it's not actually true. I've never heard your version before, with the scientific research angle added. Normally it's just presented as folk wisdom.

Not that that affects your excellent point.

KCinDC You have read my first post yesterday have you not? Again,and it's getting tiring,there is no defense of the Afghan incident,none. If you spend a few minutes with that post you should realize that and I don't intend to rewrite now. Other wars and the honorable conduct of the vast bulk of our armed forces should provide a balance and perspective sadly lacking on this site. Regarding what the administration and the Army are doing,what's the proof you ask? Well if I consider the ease and rapidity with which advocacy of torture is ascribed to me than I'd have to say never enough,at least for some people. I have been corrected for things I've said including a recent one about annoying the shit out of people. For myself the willful and ignorant charge of torture advocacy is a lot worse,scummy actually. Hope you enjoyed yourself and it's about par for the course on this misbegotten site.

johnt, if you feel you are being misunderstood, may I again recommend the splendid device of paragraph breaks? I have actually no idea if you are being misinterpreted or not: I can't fight my way through your comments to figure out what you're saying.

FWIW, johnt, I've been regarding your posts as the blog-comment version of a Perl script: line-noise. May I also commend to you the virtues of paragraph breaks and proper punctuation?

Or not. Given a choice between reading one of your posts and the various Obfuscated Perl one-liners, though, the real line-noise is going to win every time.

Maybe it's performance art. If so, one has to admire johnt's ability to stay in character.

KC--I suspected that it wasn't true, hence the use of the word "supposedly", but it is a very good metaphor. One of my fears about the radical right is that we will all get so used to their outrageous behavior and outrageous plans that we will no longer feel outrage. They are redefining "normal" to describe practices and conditions which should be considered freakish.

Johnt, I still don't understand the point of bringing in other wars or the fact that most of our troops don't engage in torture and murder. Of course most of them don't. We'd be it real trouble if most did. Why bring that in, if you're not trying to say that the torture and murder that did occur isn't so bad, really? I'll accept that you're not a torture advocate, but it sure doesn't seem to be a big deal to you. You apparently don't view it as a stain on the United States, just one of those unfortunate things that happen.

And on the question of proof, let me turn it around. Is there anything short of having Bush or Rumsfeld go on TV and announce that the torture was all his idea that would convince you that maybe this situation isn't all the fault of a bunch of privates at various facilities who thought it up independently -- that perhaps the policies, attitudes, and messages coming down from the top predictably led to the abuses we've seen (and the perhaps more numerous abuses we haven't)?

Speaking of a time of tears, might I suggest a Katrina thread?

General reminder, based on having watched for close to a decade, the I-don't-have-to-know-how-to-write-you're-picking-on-me-and-ignoring-my-valuable-substance newbies show up on a more or less weekly basis on Usenet, they can either learn to take some polite care and effort in presenting themselves readably, and that's what all normal people do who don't present that way in the first place, or they can go the way 99& of all people who show up as aggressive subliterates do: continued ignoring of every clue thrown their way, no matter how helpfully or polite or extensive, save to obnoxiously declaim upon how they're being persecuted, that all this fuss about details is simply an attempt to not deal with the magnificent wonders of their giant brains, which produce insights of such originality and power that they need not be put into mere coherent sentences. Punctuation cannot encase ideas of such sheer throbbing power and pulsating force! And then they attack anyone trying to help for being so petty, officious, rules-bound, small-minded, etc., yadda.

The final clue is when they declare that they're going to act worse just to annoy you. At that point, all that can be done is ignore them for the troll they are. The entire point of the troll is attention, not interesting discourse. Every single time you reply, they wriggle with pleasure, because they've gotten what they want. On the contrary, if you ignore them, they squeal with frustration. Why aren't you answering? You're afraid to deal with the throbbing idea power! You're a coward! I've never met such a small-minded, nasty, ingroupish, clique of [YOUR POLITICS HERE] people in my life! That's what you people are all about! I knew it, and now I've proven it!

Etc. Except, of course, with all the usual unreadable incoherence and indiosyncratic punctuation. Not to mention inability to structure a rational argument, or understand one.

But: responding rewards them, and gets you more of the same. Ignoring them frustrates them, and gets them to go away, or if they're ever going to pick up on the previously proffered clue, reform. When they reform, you'll know they've become semi-reasonable, and you can then re-evaluate their trollishness.

Warning: this only happens extremly rarely, and usually they just go on being a troll with better spelling. But, anyway, feeding the troll doesn't improve them; the only chance is to ignore them, and if they don't untroll, they go away.

Don't take my word for it; ask anyone with longtime familiarity with online behavior, or check any number of histories of Usenet.

Word.

Shorter Gary: DNFTT.

;)

"Shorter Gary: DNFTT."

Absolutely, but a lot of folks here don't have the experience, and I thought I'd help shorten the head-bonking time.

If someone would write a killfile Extension for Firefox, I'd have their baby.

btw--

I'd never read this Dylan lyric before, but at least now I know where Shakespeare got that bit he ripped off in JC III.ii.

"If someone would write a killfile Extension for Firefox, I'd have their baby."

Sure, sure pal. But how long will you breast feed?

"Sure, sure pal. But how long will you breast feed?"

I'm prepared to keep drinking as long as it takes.

How does one explain the differences between these extremely lenient sentences and the sentences at Abu Ghraib?

The most likely explanation, it seems to me, is that the charges brought & sentences given at Abu Ghraib were more severe because of the much higher level of publicity around that case.

I think this illustrates why all the "the system was working" talk is crap. This is why the ACLU FOIA request matters, and why the ACLU is so insistent on getting the pictures and not only descriptions or some other, less inflammatory form of evidence. If we had a good press corps, there wouldn't have to be horrendous pictures for the public to be informed about this. But we don't. The only reason that Abu Ghraib wasn't shrugged off quite as completely as all the other allegations is that there were pictures. And we've now seen descriptions of practices at Guantanamo that were more or less identical to things shown in the Abu Ghraib pictures, be shrugged off as "not inhumane" in official reports.

Warm August night. No breeze to speak of. Bottom of the ninth. Farber at the plate. And here comes the pitch, Farber swings and (see above)... Oh my, my. It was one of those high, slow, lazy, hanging curve balls you get every once in a while and Farber knew just what to do with it.

More cause for tears:

Action is Character at Blue Gal, Red State

and the associated thread at Washington Monthly

From a soldier's journal:

No, I'm not comparing us to saints. We're too sweaty and grimy and crabby and pissed off for that. We have all the flaws you can imagine, but we have dreams, too. The most durable of them is the one where we imagine that we and our devotion matter, that we can accomplish something good through something flawed. It's not a perfect world we live in by any means. Someone, somewhere, some time, has to fight. There's no such thing as Utopia. But here's the thing... we pray for some things, too.

Please God, do not let me have been used to serve someone's hatred.

Please God, do not let me have been led by fear into someone else's folly;

Please God, do not let me have been naive in my trust:

Please God, do not let me have harmed the innocent;

Please God, do not let me have killed the innocent:

Please God, do not let me have trusted blindly;

Please God, let me know the answers to these desperate requests.

Amen.

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