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September 25, 2005

Comments

Hilzoy: As an Arizonan, McCain & John Kyl are my US Senators and Jim (NAFTA/CAFTA) Kolbe is my Congressman. Monday morning I'm going to forward this post to their offices and see what sort of response I get.

As you so rightly noted: "This episode should not risk "irreparable harm to his career"; it should make his career, by showing that he has all the traits we should want the people who lead our troops to have." I couldn't agree with you more and I find it most telling about the real US deficit - the morality one.

Predictable, really, I suppose considering the gang in charge.

The HRW report also includes this:
"In Afghanistan we were attached to Special Forces and saw OGA.  We never interacted with them but they would stress guys.  We learned how to do it. "

A little googling reveals OGA is CIA. Anyone know what the acronym actually stands for?

As usual, well done hilzoy.

Xanax:

you ask: A little googling reveals OGA is CIA. Anyone know what the acronym actually stands for?

I believe that it's "Other Government Agency," a bureaucratic euphemism for what frightened civilians would call "spooks."

A fish rots from the head - how the the Army "investigated" itself.

Joseph Darby has received no honor from the military or from the administration for coming forward.

Geoffrey Miller, on the other hand, was promoted. So was Ricardo Sanchez.

Thanks, stickler. New to me.

"Other Government Agency..."

Yep, sounds spooky all right.

This is one of the things that has always bothered me about the torture scandals: not just what we are doing to the Iraqis, but what the people who set these policies in place are doing to the soldiers in their charge. We take kids, strip away some of the inhibitions that keep them from, say, sitting atop buildings with a sniper rifle in normal life, and put them in an incredibly dangerous and stressful position, in which not only their lives but their comrades' lives are constantly at risk. It is absolutely incumbent on their commanders and on the civilian leadership to do whatever they can not just to prevent them from getting killed, but also to keep them from unnecessarily doing something that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

I agree so very much with that, but it seems like I never can get the point across to the other party. Part of supporting the troops is protecting them from themselves afterwards. Heal the body and the mind if you need/can and prevent them from living with haunting actions in the past if you can. A lot of the latter is prevention, through discipline and rules.

It is absolutely incumbent on their commanders and on the civilian leadership to do whatever they can not just to prevent them from getting killed, but also to keep them from unnecessarily doing something that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

I agree so much with this point, but never seem to get it across properly. You also have to support the troops by keeping them from unnessecary harm if you can. Heal their minds and their bodies if you can, and quite a lot of that is through prevention.

I agree with Jes though: the whistleblowers are cast out, the people responsible are protected and sometimes even rewarded.

darn, I thought the first post had disappeared in thin air. Sorry.

Heart of Darkness

I link to Billmon again because I think the point of the Iraqi porn pictures is that this isn't about a few bad apples, either at the bottom, or at the top. That is not to say that all or most of our soldiers are intrinsically evil. War can be evil. Although all I know of war is what I've seen in the movies:

Attack

Casualties of War

Platoon

Not really:

Citizen Soldiers vs Legionairres

I link to the movies because a common partial theme is the amateur citizen soldier providing restraints (and motivation) on the hardened professionals. Institutional restraints, tho helpful, are not what prevent atrocities in the field. Just as soldiers fight for their buddies, their buddies' opinions and judgements are what keep the worst impulses in check. Those impulses are in us all, and combat conditions provide the opportunity and the motivation to succumb to them.

Tight, cohesive, semi-permanent units, non-coms, officers that know they will be dealing with each other in a fairly fixed manner for 2-5-10 years have obvious dangers of group-think, mutual re-enforcement and protection. I guess this is where I list all the movies (Training Day) where "Special" small police units go bad, as more examples.

You need amateurs, citizen soldiers, short-timers. You need a lot of them. You need them all up the chain of command. You need the baker, the plumber, the engineer to fight next to the professional. The unit will be less effective in many ways, so you need a much bigger army, but more effective in others. They might actually be able to occupy effectively, win "hearts and minds".

Again, without knocking the individual soldier, without also relieving him of his personal responsibility, without excusing his superiors of their greater responsibility, IMO, professional armies really really suck. I could list many more bad consequences of professional armies than this one.

I want a draft, and a more lightly trained, less exotically equipped, vastly larger, more versatile citizen army. And a pony.

Sorry for the length.

The wrongheadedness of a war on evil, wherever it might exist, has been apparent from the beginning. I'd have liked to ask the Pres why he thought he could rid the world of evil when his favorite philosopher had failed. (Heard an interesting story the other day. A friend's brother stood in line to meet the President last year in Montana. When he got his chance, he shook the President's hand, and said "Mr. President, I must say that I do not agree with your foreign policy." Bush pulled him close and said, "Who gives a shit what you think." The brother was too stunned to speak further . . .)

That said, I think Billmon (and Cole) may be underestimating the peshmerga and Badr Corps, and Iran's interest in preventing a full-on civil war (and, certainly, in preventing either a return of the Baath or victory by Zarqawi). It seems to me far from a given that the streets will run with rivers of blood if we leave Iraq beginning in December (after the elections). More important, it seems far from certain that the result in 2007 and beyond would be worse for us having left than having stayed.

The desensitization of particular soldiers is bad, but the desensitization of large swaths of the populace is far worse. I've been saying for months that if it was revealed that Bush was roasting babies on spits, we'd hear from many folks that (a) they were potential terrorists and deserved it (NB: I go by a statue of Phil Sheridan on the way to work each day, and am always reminded that "nits make lice"); (b) at least he's doing something, rather than just jawing; and (c) Dems are (1) too cowardly to do it AND (2) would roast more babies if they could. There's a hard 20% of the populace that would seemingly follow this guy to any depths.

One more and I'll let you go. Last week in Helena, I went to a do at the Governor's Mansion. Lost a hard fought (on my part) charm duel with first lady Nancy Schweitzer, then the Gov tried to teach me some Arabic phrases -- a hopeless exercise. Then on to politics: the Gov thinks that George Allen has the inside track.

Does anyone suspect that man of the strength necessary to repair any of the damage being done by GWB?

Charley: Heard an interesting story the other day.

That sounds very much like a retelling of a meeting Bill Hangley had with Bush in Philadelphia, July 4 2001. Snopes

Does anyone suspect [George Allen] of the strength necessary to repair any of the damage being done by GWB?

Unless things change drastically, it won't be a question of electing someone who will undo the damage done by GWB, but a candidate approved by the extremist elements in the Republican Party who think Bush is doing a good job.

And who you vote for? Well... if it didn't matter that Gore won in 2000, and it didn't matter in 2004 that voting machines were in use in key states that could have the voting record changed with no means of checking on it... what makes you think it'll matter who you vote for in 2008?

The Gore/2000 myth, again. I think the only thing that might surprise me is if Jesurgislac stopped bringing this up on every possible occasion as if it were factual.

hilzoy,

But remember, Terrorists are Bad People! So are suspected terrorists! And we should torture as many terrorists and suspected terrorists as we have to to save a Single American Life! And terrorists do worse to their prisoners. You are obviously a naive socialist or Al Qaeda sympathizer. You hate America too. Oh, and did I mention that terrorists or people who might be terrorists and the next door neighbors of terrorists are Very Bad People? And what about the ticking suitcase nuke?

CharleyCarp, are you referring to this ?

All three are active duty soldiers who wish to continue their military careers.

They should prepare to be dissapointed, especially if their names ever got out.

The officer cadre has a habit of screwing over anyone and everyone who gets them all butt hurt.

Where are the latest round of pictures from Abu Ghraib?

I should let the accused speak for themselves, but what the hell. Nader's 2000 campaign was all about blurring the distinction between Gore and Bush. His pitch to Lefty was that it did not matter whom one voted for, anyway, so you may as well vote for me. Jesurgislac's comment asks us to recall that old campaign 2000 attitude (and recognize how wrong it was), rather than the post-campaign shenanigans in FLA.

Jes, the 2000/2004 elections are spilt milk.
Slart, you're still wrong on 2000.

I didn't say it wasn't an urban myth -- it was related to me with a straight face. As urban myths usually are, I guess.

I gave a 30 min interview which will run uncut on Yellowstone Public Radio next month about Gtmo. They have streaming, and I'll comment-post a link so you'll be able to hear my boring monotone. No information there you folks don't already know.

Hope it starts a flurry of urban myths.

;- )

CharleyCarp: great, do post the link. Also, on reflection, I can't remember saying: welcome back, and thank you for doing what you're doing. Especially now, it matters a lot to me to know that there are people like Officer C and you, who are doing the right thing.

Parenthetical remark: back when I used to believe in God, I didn't normally go around thinking that He had done things with me in mind. Nonetheless, it was an interesting feature of Christianity that such thoughts weren't obviously nuts: God does act for reasons, and presumably He could have any number of them in mind on any given occasion, like a really good writer whose image crystallizes scores of apparently separate things all at once, only much, much more so. And so it isn't nuts to think that one might be one of his tiny, minor ancillary purposes, at least occasionally. Too often and you're committing the sin of pride; but occasionally, when something seems just too precisely tailored to you, it's OK.

With this as background: if I still believed in God, I might have thought that He got Officer C to say that one of his first concerns, when he saw generals saying things to Congress that he knew to be untrue, was for the separation of powers, in (small) part because He knew it would just undo me. It's hard to believe that an arrow could be so precisely targeted at my heart by mere chance alone.

As it is, though, I have to fall back on the old statistics rule: it is quite likely that, during the course of one's life, a number of things that seem (individually) too improbable to have arisen by chance will actually happen.

It would be great to nail down the "Bush attitude" story and rescue it from urban myth status.

Where's Lucianne Goldberg when you need her?

This "who cares what you think" story sounds right, considering the look on boy-king's face during the first Kerry/Bush debate, and leaks in major news magazines from his staff regarding his frosty dumb-assedness.

It would seem fairly easy to wire oneself with a very small camera and microphone and line up to embrace top tough guy and get this on digital media to play on the nightly news for, I don't know, eternity.

(The Secret Service should be a pushover on this considering they let themselves be overruled on letting former GSA honcho and charming guy with ties to Middle Eastern terrorist outfits Mr. Safafian into the White House. Plus, when was the last time Grover Norquist got wanded before entering the Oval Office so George Bush could service him?).

Also, the news that prisoner abuse is common practice is of a piece with the idea cited by Hilzoy the other day regarding cutting Federal funding for violence-against-women programs.

This would be a double savings in the budget:
recruits in Bob McManus' draft ;) would have already been self-trained in beating the crap out of smaller, probably browner people than them, thus saving the military the expense and trouble of showing them how.

notyou: I should let the accused speak for themselves, but what the hell. Nader's 2000 campaign was all about blurring the distinction between Gore and Bush.

Am I the only one who actually remembers the Gore/Lieberman campaign? Gore's campaign was all about blurring the distinctions between Gore and Bush so he could stupidly distance himself from Clinton. He picked Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party's premiere Clinton-basher, for his running mate. All Nader had to do was point out the obvious: that Gore was taking an already centrist Democratic party and very conspicuously moving it rightward. Gore sabotaged his own campaign by worrying too much about the stupid sex scandal and blowing the opportunity to build off Clinton's success as a leader. At least, that's the train wreck of a campaign I saw five years ago.

I wonder whose sensibilities, exactly, are at all spared by this "f*ck" and "sh*t" business.

mason: I think the original rationales were: (a) we have readers who have filters at work, and (b) the general rule helps to maintain some semblance of civility.

Hilzoy: Understood. I was just struck by the incongruity in this case between the genuine obscenity of the subject matter and the trivial offensiveness, not even really masked by the asterisks, of the words in question.

(b) puts me in mind of rule-utilitarianism, but it's been a while.

Also, regarding your parenthetical remark:

"(Parenthetically, how did we get to the point where people think that beating up prisoners is an acceptable way to deal with stress, but that stripping them, in an all-male camp, would be a bit too close for comfort to the edge of a real taboo?)"

I suspect that a lot of these horrible misadventures, including the war itself, are instigated and carried out by men who are deeply insecure about their own masculinity. Beating someone to a pulp "proves" you're a man, but taking a guy's clothes off -- now that's some fcked-up sht.

Rilke: Jes, the 2000/2004 elections are spilt milk.

No, really, not. The capacity to fix an election so that the person who lost gets to be appointed President, is still there (which is what happened in 2000) is not a dead issue. Jeb Bush rigged the polls so that the election in Florida came close enough that his brother could be appointed President. Even after it became public knowledge that, in 2000, Al Gore actually won, and George W. Bush lost, nothing was changed. So, the results are spilt milk - the US was stuck for four years with the candidate who lost in 2000 - but the fact that nothing has been done to change the electoral system in the US, so that the losing candidate cannot in future be appointed President, is not spilt milk.

Neither are voting machines that can be rigged and no paper trail prove that it ever happened. Those voting machines are still in existence, are still planned to be used in the 2006 and 2008 elections, and anyone with sufficient computer access can still change the results of the elections, and no one will ever be able to prove they did it. The results of 2000/2004 are spilt milk: Bush's supporters then have the President they wanted - but the means used in 2000 and 2004 are still very much with you. Ignore them as "spilt milk" and you suffer the results from now on.

I'm happy not to spill the milk again, but would prefer not to do so in another thread.

Rilkefan, the link is straightforward: the US military will not quit torturing prisoners until, from the top, it's made clear that this behavior is not acceptable. As the Bush administration finds torture to be completely acceptable, it can be assumed that torture will continue until 2009 at earliest. As the prospect in 2008 is that the people who think George W. Bush is doing a great job will get to decide who is nominated the next President, regardless of who actually wins the election...

Slart, you're still wrong on 2000.

Hey! Why didn't I think of that? You mean...wrong? All this time I've been wrong, and nobody told me? How could I have been so blind?

See, that's all it takes: say something is true, and presto! Works for Jesurgislac; it must be spreading.

Slart, I thought if you thought it useful to argue the evidence by calling it a "myth", I might as well just stick with informing you of your error.

Neither are voting machines that can be rigged and no paper trail prove that it ever happened. Those voting machines are still in existence, are still planned to be used in the 2006 and 2008 elections, and anyone with sufficient computer access can still change the results of the elections, and no one will ever be able to prove they did it.

Let's just say that whatever one thinks about Florida in the 2000 election, nobody on the Right or the Left should want the situation described by Jes to exist, unless they want to preserve the possibility of stealing the election.

anyone with sufficient computer access can still change the results of the elections

I'd like to see some very convincing evidence of this.

Jeb Bush rigged the polls so that the election in Florida came close enough that his brother could be appointed President.

This, of course, never happened. All of the Presidential electors still met and still cast their votes just as they always do. No such appointment ever took place, except in your mind.

I should add that claiming that both 1) the voting machines can be rigged by anyone who can get into the computer, and 2) such rigging is unproveable, is the conspiracy theorist's dream. Then you can dismiss the results of every election as rigged without any evidence whatsoever.

Whoops, one more thing: Proposing the election-rigging that Jesurgislac alleges took place in Florida presupposes that Jeb Bush knew that before Florida's votes were completely counted, everybody other state's would be, and that George would not have already decisively won or would be behind by fewer than 25 votes. Allowing for that amount of foreknowledge simply beggars the imagination. It's like proposing getting from A directly to Z with stopping at B, C or anywhere in between.

Phil: I'd like to see some very convincing evidence of this.

You can't. That's the point. There is no paper trail to provide any evidence, convincing or otherwise, that the electronic voting machines are recording everyone's votes correctly.

No, Jes, I meant I'd like to see evidence that vote results can be easily changed by any person with sufficient computer access. Convincing evidence, not conspiracy theory evidence. It's not like computers are magic. People actually know how they work and can decipher the programs being used to count votes.

Nice threadjacking Slarti, Phil. Jes you really should know better by now.

Sorry, Frank, I can't leave silliness unchallenged. I would consider it a personal failure if I did.

Nice threadjacking Slarti, Phil.

Hey, it's just nice that we're all in such agreement with Hilzoy, and not shrugging off systemic tolerance of torture as "the kids play rough," as happens at some blogs.

Anybody up for a few rounds of the Ontological Argument, Pro & Con? Or, how 'bout them Yankees?

Slartibartfast:
See, that's all it takes: say something is true, and presto! Works for Jesurgislac; it must be spreading.

Actually, Slartibartfast, you were the one who made a claim with absolutely no evidence to back it up. Why do you whinge when Jes does something that you yourself are doing? If you don't like the tactic, why use it?

It's not like computers are magic. People actually know how they work and can decipher the programs being used to count votes.

Huh? How do you do that when the software is proprietary and the manufacturers won't allow anyone other than heavily-NDA'ed labs to inspect it?

Phil, here's the

Eep! Phil, here's the CERT advisory on the subject. To the best of my knowledge, the problem they report remains intact.

The Computer Emergency Readiness Team is one of the good things to come out of this administration's national security spending. They collect reports of hardware and software risks, do their own evaluations, and publish updated info in a standardized, easy-to-use format. Good folks.

Phil: People actually know how they work and can decipher the programs being used to count votes.

Got any evidence of that? You know, the first place I saw people worrying out loud about these no-paper-trail voting machines wasn't a political blog, left OR right: it was on slashdot.com.

"silliness unchallenged"

I suspect you're approaching this from an uninformed position, Phil - might want to reconsider your word choice if so.

Gromit: The two views of Campaign 2000 are not mutually exclusive.

Huh? How do you do that when the software is proprietary and the manufacturers won't allow anyone other than heavily-NDA'ed labs to inspect it?

Not to mention vendors pushing uncertified (uninspected) revisions out to precincts at the last minute.

Got any evidence of that?

Any evidence that people know how computers work and can reverse-engineer software? Um, no, I guess I don't. I assume that my computer is run by magical elves. Sexy magical elves.

How do you do that when the software is proprietary and the manufacturers won't allow anyone other than heavily-NDA'ed labs to inspect it?

You get whoever in your state or county is responsible for purchasing voting machines not to do business with companies that won't allow the necessary officials into the guts of the machine when the situation calls for.

You get whoever in your state or county is responsible for purchasing voting machines not to do business with companies that won't allow the necessary officials into the guts of the machine when the situation calls for.

Yeah, sure sounds easy doesn't it? Sort of makes one wonder why they won't do that...

So I wrote Andrew Sullivan an email chiding him for taking Armando to task about Larry Summers when his own position on The Bell Curve is so far out of the mainstream of science. He wrote back to say, "give me specifics"...

Any evidence that people know how computers work and can reverse-engineer software? Um, no, I guess I don't. I assume that my computer is run by magical elves. Sexy magical elves.

It's obvious that you know NOTHING of the security problems inherent in electronic voting, nor do you know much about computers or programming at all.

How difficult it is to alter the electronic voting results is unknown -- that's the problem. There are no ways to validate the votes cast, no way to audit the results, no way to prove the accuracy of the tallies.

You don't NEED to have fraud to know that it's a very bad idea to have votes being counted by proprietery software that cannot be audited or checked.

Nor can it be "reverse engineered" -- as your ludicrously suggested -- for the simple reason that no one has access to the executables (much less the source code) that run on the actual voting machines, nor does anyone have access to the vote tabulation servers and vote databases. Electronic voting is a client/server mechanism, after all -- votes are tabulated on each machine, then sent to central servers to be tallied and final results displayed. You can't even get copies of the client software to "reverse engineer", much less access to the DB systems that do the final count.

What we know of Diebold code, for instance, comes only because Diebold's security was so shoddy that they accidentally exposed their source code to the public, and copies of one of their builds leaked out. From a simple analysis of that it was obvious that Diebold's code was highly insecure (they were building their damn DB out of Access, for Pete's sake, and hadn't taken even rudimentary security precautions).

It should bother you that ANYONE IN AMERICA is voting on an unauditable, easy-to-game system -- not just your county.

Nice threadjacking Slarti, Phil.
Sorry, I didn't jack this one. Read back and see who brought it up. Hint: starts with a "J".

Actually, Slartibartfast, you were the one who made a claim with absolutely no evidence to back it up.

Wrong again, felix.

You know, we've had a threadjack open thread on this, in which I invited J to present whatever evidence she thought she might have on this, and she brought out...bupkus. She's also had ample opportunity to make her case at any of the forums available to her, and as far as I can tell, she hasn't. So: I continue to call the assertion myth, because it's completely unbacked by anything factual. I have no doubt that J holds that her opinion in this regard is true, but that doesn't make it true for those who value evidence.

And now I let the thread snap back to where it was before J diverted it.

Wrong again, felix.

No, I'm right again, and you just did, again, that which you accused Jes.

Your arguments imply that you believe logical fallacies are OK if and only if you are the one committing them. If you want to make an actual argument, make one. If you want to say "so and so is wrong" while presenting no evidence, go for it.

But calling someone out for saying "you're wrong" with no evidence, while repeatedly in the same thread claiming someone is wrong with no evidence...even of you, I expect better.

One person can't highjack a thread--it has to be a team effort.

I can't speak for Jes, but I can't be bothered to go over the evidence of Republican fraud, cheating, and malfeasance in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and in 2004 anymore because the people who don't want to believe it won't.

Juan Cole sites the brutalization of American soldiers as a reason for getting out of Iraq. I'm not sure I agree. I mean I agree that putting young men and women into the possition where the behavior descibed is expected and supported is horrible. I'm not sure I agree it's a reason for withdrawal.
I do wonder what the soldiers who engaged in torture will be like when they come home. My cousin is one of those stereotype Viet Nam vets who spent decades after the war self-medicating with drugs and alchohol before he finally got over it.

Phil: Are you disputing, e.g., the work of Black Box Voting (I think it's the .org version, though it may be others)? To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what your "silliness" contention is aimed at, except that it's likely false.

When the Abhu Ghraib revelations first surfaced I was inclined to believe that a minority of boneheads were behind it and I also felt a lot of the "torture" allegations were being hyped. However the recent revelations that have surfaced suggest a deeper and more prevasive problem.

It now appears that torture was used as a tool to humiliate others in a random and completely gratuitous fashion - for reasons of power and control basically. This is quite different from applying pressure to a suspect who has knowledge that within an hour a bomb will detonate in a mall killing and wounding hundreds. In such a case I would say do whatever it takes to extract information about the whereabouts of the device.

To suggest that American methods can't be compared to the very real torture of regimes such as Iran isn't the point. Given the apparent extent of this problem we can't off-load responsibility by simply saying "its worse over there".

Recently Hitchens in fact used the term "moral Chernobyl".

When the Bush administration presumes to be an exporter of "freedom and democracy" to other countries it better make damn certain that its representitives are above this type of mass descent into moral idiocy.

Wow, what a pointless threadjack. If the opposition is actually stealing elections by rigging Diebold boxes, it serves little purpose to try to argue with them about it. They are unlikely to ever admit, or be shamed into changing. (Note the "if")

Anyway, back to 82nd.

Are We shrill Yet

Not Kleiman, someone named O'Hare. Is actually implying that Bush is sending his crack field-tested torture unit into New Orleans with the purpose of using it's recently-gained experience? I am shocked at such vitriol, such irresponsible assigning of guilt to a group and the vicious attack on our soldiers. How far has the blogosphere fallen. For shame, Mr O'Hare.

OTOH, having just watched "Rome", I do wonder at the actual effectiveness as deterrent of the practice of decimation.

Slarti: She's also had ample opportunity to make her case at any of the forums available to her, and as far as I can tell, she hasn't.

Actually, I have. You just kept claiming that any of the facts I cited didn't actually prove anything, no matter what my source was. And as this argument has now gone round and round on ObWing so damn often that we can pretty much fight it out on I say "That Florida in 2000 thing!" and you say "Never happened!" and all the regulars will understand and appreciate it.

I was reminded all over again, when digging up some background on the crony contracts awarded post-Katrina, how ridiculously indulged George W. Bush was even before he became President. After being nominated, a Republican judge excused him from testifying in the SCI corruption case as described here.

The issue about the voting machines is an ongoing issue. It may look like a conspiracy theory, but given the Florida election was rigged and there is an immense amount of evidence that it was rigged, and sensible people like Slarti can still close their eyes to it all and say "it never happened!" - the presence of voting machines in key states that can rig an election with no paper trail at all should worry everyone.

The acceptance of Bush as a good President - even now, after everything that's happened - says something about who may be put forward as the next Republican candidate.

And this is not a threadjack. We all agree that what Hilzoy is describing ought not to be tolerated by any decent person. We all know that the Bush administration, so far from not tolerating torture, has at least rewarded people who are implicated in the military torture of prisoners. And without an honest and reliable electoral system, no matter how much of this comes out, no matter how horrified decent people across America are, there is no guarantee that the next administration will be any more inclined to put a stop to it than the present administration.

Morat, you and apparently a number of other people do not, it seems, understand the difference between the two statements, "Computers are not magic boxes whose workings cannot be understood and whose software cannot be decoded," and "We already know how all the Diebold machines work." Or you do understand, but are not willing to take the steps necessary to separate someone claiming the former from someone claiming the latter, since anyone claiming the former must be trying to run interference for the perfidious vote-stealers.

Please spend some time reflecting on the fact that I have claimed the former and not the latter, then, if you still feel it necessary to argue the latter, find someone who is. If, rather, we would like to examine how we get from my statement to a more general argument concerning under which circumstances we should allow for computer voting, we can do that instead. Much obliged.

Anarch, the "silliness" I'm referring to is things like:

-- "Bush was appointed President by the Supreme Court." He clearly was not. A person who uses such a statement, even as shorthand, is simply a crank not to be taken seriously. Even someone who thinks Bush v. Gore was wrongly decided can understand the difference between its outcome and someone being "appointed President." I do, Jes doesn't. Simple as that.

-- "The Florida election was rigged." Even taking as given that there were massive screwups throughout the state in vote counting, that there were confusing ballots in some counties (a point which I dispute because I've used the type of ballot in question before), and that the felon purge was a massive civil rights violation, Occam's Razor suggests that unrelated snafus can still, in fact, be independent of one another without suggesting coordinated rigging.

-- Bulletproof conspiracy theories in which one accuses people of having changed vote totals in electronic machines with no proof whatsoever, in which the mere suggestion that it is possible serves as proof that it has already been done.

You know, I think I've earned enough anti-Bush goodwill to argue about some of these things without immediately being accused of being a Bush apologist or Republican operative or one of those naive fools who *just* *won't* *see*, but it would appear not. Oh well. I still sleep at night.

Phil
I feel compelled to remind you of a bit of recent (ObWi) history. When you blew up at Jes the last time (I think when she was commenting after Katrina), I thought she very nicely let it lay and stepped back a bit. Now, I don't remember you blowing up when other people went on about election fraud (Jes certainly hasn't been the first to use the line about the Pres being appointed), so I get the impression that you are going off on Jes not because the whole question strikes you as an statement that no civilized person could make, but because Jes is the one that is making it.

I point this out not to defend or support the election fraud notion (when I think of that whole question, I get the urge to paraphrase Marlowe about foreign countries and dead whores) but to suggest a bit of quid pro quo here. This has nothing to do with earning anti-Bush goodwill, and more about generating a bit more space for discussion here at ObWi.

lj, I appreciate your input, but I resent the implication, and I would have made the same statement about FL200 whether it was Jes or anyone else. And I have, if not here then at other blogs. Besides, it's hardly fair to say that if I don't comment on something everytime any person says it, I cannot comment on it at all.

"George W. Bush was appointed President by the U.S. Supreme Court" is not a statement that requires "more space for discussion." It's simply indefensible. It never happened.

And with that, I think I need some time away from ObWi. Not to fall into The Tacitus Web, but I do think there's a sufficient degree of orthodoxy being enforced among commenters right now, away from which should any commenter fall, he or she is not assumed to be arguing in good faith. I don't need the stress.

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that you were purposely picking on Jes, I just thought that it rose to the level of your attention because Jes was saying it. I'm sure the problem is not one restricted to you, I think we all suffer from it time to time (with the exception of Hilzoy, of course)

I don't know about orthodoxy here, but there's not really a lot of room for discussion about torture, so it obviously moves to other subjects. I think this is unfortunate, because it serves to dilute rather than concentrate.

Anyone want an open thread on this? I'd think anywhere at all would be a more appropriate venue for rehashing...what do we call this, Night of the Living Gore-won the-election? than here.

The election stuff belongs elsewhere, but now I want to know what Marlowe said.

"But that was in another country, and alas, the wench is dead."

Phil: Ah, I misunderstood the thrust of your comment; I thought you were saying that it was silly that someone could hack the various e-voting machines (in particular Diebold), not that it was silly to claim that someone had hacked the machines. Mea culpa.

As to this:

You know, I think I've earned enough anti-Bush goodwill to argue about some of these things without immediately being accused of being a Bush apologist or Republican operative or one of those naive fools who *just* *won't* *see*, but it would appear not. Oh well. I still sleep at night.

Can I assume that the juxtaposition of your response to me and this remark is coincidental?

Speaking of horrible stories, incidentally, anyone want to tackle the nowthatsfuckedup.com travesty?

I actually started going over there...from work. Oops.

Anarch: I've been thinking about it, but not sure what to say. If anyone else wants to take a whack, John Aravosis has links to some of the relevant pages (3/4 of the way down the post, after the pictures.)

Oh crap. Sorry, Slarti: I sort of took it as read that everyone would know it wasn't work-safe.

Lest anyone fall into that trap again: that link is NOT WORK-SAFE. It's not even really human-safe.

Anarch speaks for me so I don't have to read the middle of the thread.

I sort of took it as read that everyone would know it wasn't work-safe.

Yeah, but I'm back to feeling like utter crap again, and brain is not firing on even a quorum of synapses. Whatever that might mean, I have no idea.

Some interesting comments on the torture issue. I feel inspired to dream up a response!

When the Abhu Ghraib revelations first surfaced I was inclined to believe that a minority of boneheads were behind it and I also felt a lot of the "torture" allegations were being hyped. However the recent revelations that have surfaced suggest a deeper and more prevasive problem.

It now appears that torture was used as a tool to humiliate prisoners in a random and completely gratuitous fashion - for reasons of power and control basically. This is quite different from applying pressure to a suspect who has knowledge that within an hour a bomb will detonate in a mall killing and wounding hundreds. In such a case I would say do whatever it takes to extract information about the whereabouts of the device.

American methods can't be compared to the very real torture of regimes such as Iran, but given the apparent extent of this problem we can't off-load responsibility by simply saying "its worse over there".

Recently Hitchens in fact used the term "moral Chernobyl".

When the Bush administration presumes to be an exporter of "freedom and democracy" to other countries it better make damn certain that its representitives are above this type of mass descent into moral idiocy.

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