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April 26, 2006

Comments

I disagreed with the whole premise that the US Govt intended for Maher Arar to be tortured, for instance.

I hope this isn't piling on here, but this comment reveals an interesting point. I don't think anyone here and certainly not anyone who I have read and given any kind of thought or time to has ever suggested that the US Government 'intended' that Maher Arar be tortured. In fact, I think that most people believe that the government didn't intend that innocent people be tortured, but given the haphazard, extralegal pull things out of one's hindquarters rationales that are being invoked, it is inevitable that things like this will happen, which makes it even more damning. If I drink and drive, and plow into a group of people, no one is going to claim that I 'intended' to run them down, but the opprobrium that I would get (and rightly deserve) is not based in any way on my intent. In a similar way, much of the criticism those on the left are throwing at the administration simply thinks the question of intent is irrelevant. Yet you are reading into this criticism a belief that we have something to say about the intent of the government. Taking you as a representative conservative, I have to suggest that if there is always such a mistaken view of how and under what criteria those on the left are judging the administration, we are doomed to be unable to communicate.

liberaljaponicus: I don't think anyone here and certainly not anyone who I have read and given any kind of thought or time to has ever suggested that the US Government 'intended' that Maher Arar be tortured.

Do you really believe that?

Yes, I suppose you do. Well, that's a lesson to me: I'd never supposed that anyone could read Katherine's excellent series of posts on Maher Arar and not realise that the US Government intended that he should be tortured. Why else, after all, would he have been sent to Syria rather than to Canada?

Jes,
I don't know why you like to pick fights with people who are arguing from the same basic principles as you. I could do the Gary thing and suggest that governments can't actually intend anything, but that would be even less helpful than your comment. The fact of the matter is that I am suggesting that there is a chain of reasoning on DaveC's part that goes like this.
-The US government doesn't intend to harm the innocent
-making that assumption (and for the record, I take the position that only the pathologically criminal want to punish innocents), I (DaveC) see that many people are criticizing the US government, so they are therefore arguing that the government is intent on harming innocents
-therefore, any criticism, because it is based on that notion of government intent, is invalid

Now, if you want to pull a threadjack about how criminal the Bush admin is, and make yourself happy that you are moral pure, that's your call. But for me, it is much more damning not that they are intent on hurting innocents, but that they just don't care. They don't notice and if they do notice, they cover up because they don't want to admit that their negligence and poor planning has real world consequences. To me, the person who goes out to harm the innocent cannot be reasoned with, because you cannot get them to see even a slight overlap with your worldview. But you can make the person who acts out of negligence and pride and arrogance see that they have screwed up. While it might not be possible for Bush, Cheney et. al because one can never create a situation where they can realize and empathize with someone like Maher Arar, I am praying that it can be done with someone like DaveC or any other conservative who engages here. Hearts and minds is not something that just exists in Iraq or the Middle East, but everywhere where people try and discuss these issues.

I should add that when I said
I could do the Gary thing and suggest that governments can't actually intend anything, but that would be even less helpful than your comment.

I meant no disrespect to Gary, I just meant that in this case, it would not, imo, do anything to change your opinion.

Certainly I tend to think more about mnimizing the number of would be terrorists that get away, and some of my friends here are more concerned about minimizing the number of innocents that get sucked into some black hole of detention, and of course the ideal is to minimize both of those bad outcomes.

Which is hard to do.

But for me, it is much more damning not that they are intent on hurting innocents, but that they just don't care. They don't notice and if they do notice, they cover up because they don't want to admit that their negligence and poor planning has real world consequences.

Unsurprisingly, this is very similar to Frankfurt's analysis of bullshit; in particular, his contention that bullshit is in some way worse than lying because at least the liar respects the truth enough to subvert it, whereas the bullshitter simply doesn't care. And it definitely seems as if this larger pathology is at work in the Bush Administration, viz the remarks about no longer being "reality-based": warmed-over Nietzscheanism at its finest.

"Gery, you'll have to admit that you are putting a whuoopin on me bcause the is a distinct lack of conservativt tarkets around these parts."

Wow, I so won't.

I have stated repeatedly, dozens of times, how much I think it's a bad thing that ObWings doesn't have more regular posts from conservatives, as it happens. Dozens and dozens and dozens of times.

So, no, I'm as sure I don't have to admit to otherwise as I'm sure 2 and 2 don't make 5. Because it's completely untrue.

"Now, your issue with me goes way back to the memo from Sen Jay Rockefeller's office...."

Cite, please? News to me. A link would be good.

"Now quite frankly, I do think that many newspapers, broadcast TV and radio stations do self-censor so as to not present any positive, and I actally do think that that is politically motivated."

I'm pretty unclear what this means. Tv stations are conspiring against you?

Tv stations and newspapers don't want to agree with you? What? Is this like getting messages in your teeth?

"But the fact of the matter is I just say what I think. I am not a writer, nor an acedemic. I 'm not as knowledgeable as you are about current events."

Hey, DaveC, I'm a college dropout who didn't complete freshman year. I just say what I think, too. But if you completed college, I guess I'll have to object to your elitism. Or something. What the hell?

I mean, I didn't get through freshman year at college. So what the eff are you talking about here? And what, exactly, is your point?

It's not often that I get to use the fact that I'm a college drop-out who didn't even complete freshman year as a discussion point, so forgive me for saying what the eff?

(Although if I had, I'd still ask: what the eff? How would ad hominem change the facts?)

I miss the old days when you used to respond to facts. I wouldn't get so irate at you if I didn't miss that DaveC. I liked that DaveC. I'm bothered by the fact that the recent DaveC seems to be determined to live up to the Glenn Greenwald stereotype of Republicans whose beliefs are determined by emotion and preference and refusal to respond to facts.

I don't know how to respond to people who don't respond to facts, and to comment after comment after comment.

I hope the old DaveC is still there, and will return. I really liked him.

And I still wish ObWings would find a couple of conservatives and/or libertarians to regularly post.

"I meant no disrespect to Gary, I just meant that in this case, it would not, imo, do anything to change your opinion."

This is good, because otherwise I wouldn't know, also, what the heck you were talking about. I don't recall ever speaking about what goverments do and don't intend, here, or about the Bush government's "intent" regarding torture.

(Although I may have spoken before of government consisting of individuals, and of them compiling intent into policy, or somesuch.)

Gary, I don't see where you're getting anything about TV stations conspiring against him out of DaveC's remark. To me it seems to be a relatively straightforward statement of the standard conservative claim that the "liberal" media are refusing to report the good news, in order to make Bush (or Republicans in general) look bad.

And your response to LJ seems itself to be an example of doing the Gary thing -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

"Certainly I tend to think more about mnimizing the number of would be terrorists that get away, and some of my friends here are more concerned about minimizing the number of innocents that get sucked into some black hole of detention, and of course the ideal is to minimize both of those bad outcomes."

Anyone sane wants to catch terrorists, and not suck innocents into detention, DaveC, right? Certainly all liberals want to, you know, catch terrorists.

As it happens, lots of us lived in NYC, worked in the World Trade Center, and have friends who lived across the street. Like me. Which is why I get so irate when you tend to imply otherwise. How many months did you work in the building, exactly? How many friends do you have who were forced out after the crash?

I was lucky enough to not have a friend who died there, but I have friends who have friends and relatives who died there. This is part of why your tendency to suggest that people who differ from you don't tends to, well, enrage me. They fu--, er, effing died. And we want to fight the members of al Qaeda who did that, and want to do such things again.

So I'd really appreciate it if you'd, like, keep that in mind. Damnit. It's that effing simple. When you imply otherwise, I get damn mad. Because we're all in this together. Even people like us Democrats. Goddamnit.

Why you imply otherwise, and like Rush Limbaugh, and such folks (woo, drug addicts), who say otherwise, I have no idea. We happen to be patriots, too. And why I even have to explain this, I also don't know.

I love America. And so do all Democrats. So, [CENSORED].

Jeebus! I have friends who have been killed by terrorist bombs, DaveC! Have you?! Where the eff do you get off with this sh*t? I'm Jewish, and plenty of folks want to kill me because. I have relatives killed in the Holocaust, and I have friends killed in Israel. Where the hell do you get off with any implication that you and your preferred politicians care more about terrorism than I and mine do? Where do you get the effing right?

Tell me where you get the moral right there, DaveC. Because I. Don't. Effing. See. It.

I know dead folk. Do you? Do you have the dead relatives?

Look, Gary, the place I work used to be owned by Israeli ex-pats, and there was a branch in Haifa. And they are liberals, and they joint ventured little business things with Palestinians and a guy I saw every day at work was friends with people who were killed in the Hebrew U. bombings. I can sort of follow along if I am at temple with friends by reading the phonetic parts and glancing at the English translation, and I get it to the extent that I know to wear the yarmulke but of course not the prayer shawl. I totally support Israel's right to exist, and not just to fulfill some Biblical prophesy.

I do like to stir things up a bit, but quite frankly I am not Sebastian, who is much more logical, consistant and well spoken than I am. I sympathize with Von quite a bit because he never had quite the time to write the perfect post or respond perfectly in the comments. And I guess that was what I was trying to get at by pointing out that I'm not a writer or academic (my assumption is that most people in the Humanities have learned to write well, and quickly over the years).

And, uh, by the way I do have dead relatives but by natural causes, old age really, and I was sort of expecting it.

Here's the Rockefeller memo link and text:

Rockefeller memo

Here is the full text of the memo from the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa.) on setting a strategy for pursuing an independent investigation of pre-war White House intelligence dealings on Iraq.

We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:

1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard.

For example, in addition to the President's State of the Union speech, the chairman [Sen. Pat Roberts] has agreed to look at the activities of the office of the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, as well as Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department.

The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and cosigns our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don't know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. [We can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.]

2) Assiduously prepare Democratic 'additional views' to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it.

In that regard we may have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims. We will contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry.

The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an Independent Commission [i.e., the Corzine Amendment.]

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration's use of intelligence at any time. But we can only do so once.

The best time to do so will probably be next year, either:

A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report, thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public. Additional views on the interim report (1). The announcement of our independent investigation (2). And (3) additional views on the final investigation. Or:

B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue, we would attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the use of intelligence.

In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter footdragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman. We have independently submitted written requests to the DOD and we are preparing further independent requests for information.

SUMMARY: Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet we have an important role to play in revealing the misleading, if not flagrantly dishonest, methods and motives of senior administration officials who made the case for unilateral preemptive war.

The approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives.

It pretty much has disappeared from Google for some reason.

Y'know, DaveC, meeting me that much, ok. Thanks. I've been having a very angry evening, I've realized, and I probably shouldn't have taken so much out on you, though I don't withdraw any of my points. I'm just saying that I was angry, and that it wasn't entirely at you, although I also don't hold with various things you've said.

But I have to say that I'm impressed at your holding your own temper at me. That sort of thing is always impressive. Mr. Gandhi thought so, and he was right. (If anyone, however, cites "Ghandi," at me, I will mock them.)

So good for you.

I still think, of course, that you make a lot of foolish and non-factual comments, but I'd like to get back to discussing actual facts, if we could, ok?

There are still, of course, endless numbers of points of debate here, DaveC. Do you acknowledge that "liberals" and Democrats, such as me and Hilzoy, and others here, are patriots who wish to protect our country and fight terrorists, for instance? I can't believe I have to even ask such a question, but given previous nonsense and crap from you, I have to. Are we all in this together, or not?

Or to hit a certain point, is Senator Edward Kennedy, brother of President John Edward Kennedy, a patriot, and a fighter for our country, or not?

Ditto that Senator Hillary Clinton? Patriot, or traitor terror symp?

I'd like to know what terms we are talking about. Political debate among reasonable people, or wacky stuff?

Yeah, I do get it Gary, that most people who dislike the Bush administration don''t really want the bad guys to win.

Here's a link to Roger L Simon discussing the problems of broadly categorizing political differences.

Also, more on whistleblowing from neo-neocon.

Also, I miss a lot of stuff because I dont get cable at home. Dont know where I was, but week or two ago I saw on CNN (Anderson Cooper?) Hugh Hewitt, Michael Yon, and Michael Ware (sp?). Whodathunkit?

DaveC: Yeah, I do get it Gary, that most people who dislike the Bush administration don''t really want the bad guys to win.

Reciprocally, I accept that even though you support the Bush administration, you're not doing so because you want the bad guys to win. (You've said elsewhere that you want to support the party that's strongest on national security, so it's kind of weird that you continue to support the party that's weakest on national security, but that's party politics for you: I blame William III.)

Reciprocally, I accept that even though you support the Bush administration, you're not doing so because you want the bad guys to win.


I guess it's as good a time as any for a group hug!

*group hug*

Count me out of the group hug. All this William III bashing is getting on my nerves.

Not that I understood the reference, mind you.

*group hug* including Donald against his will! (Us commie collectivists do that, you know.)

The next time Obwings has a group hug, can we book a room at the Watergate?

We swim in waters opaque with passionate political sediment. Let me make clear that what I really want to do is strangle Ann Coulter and company with my bare hands. Then I want to have a beer with DaveC.

I hate linking and the other proprieties of commenting, but I want to have a beer with Gary.

I want to drink bourbon with Jes.

LJ and I will mix our liquors and pass out. (No, I exaggerate. The last time I mixed sake and tequila, the deed took place in the hills of Kowloon, and I passed out in Manila)

Gary, I'm glad you mention your time at WTC. I find that a good countervailing weight to a guy named Tacitus, who when listing his bonafides as the MOST outraged (his outrage being of a purity lesser beings can only aspire to) person on Earth by the attacks on the WTC, likes to mention the ash that settled in his wife's hair that awful day.

I wish he would wash her hair, already, and then go find Osama Bin Laden. That said, Tacitus may be in the post-group hug picture and go out with us afterwards, sport.

DaveC.: "Like Sebastian, who is much more logical, consistent, and much more well-spoken than I am."

Which drives me stark-raving crazy when we're all trying to have an emotionally-gruelling knock-down, drag-out over Social Security. Pause the group hug for a moment to flash 18 smiley emoticons at Sebastian.

And don't get me started on Slart's insistence on using a regular hammer to knock those nails in when installing wood floors.

By the way, if I ever hear that Hilzoy has been hustled off to a secret prison by the Bush Administration, all bets are off and Mr. Nice Guy starts the insurrection.


Incidentally, it's been a few years since I was able to afford cable tv. When I had housemates, about three years ago, yeah. But not since.

For the record, I once had a job in the WTC. I worked at a Chase Bank office umpty miles in the sky. It was long ago, and far away. It was, in fact, one of the first jobs I ever had, practically as a kid.

They actually fingerprinted me to be on a vast floor of typists. It was 1976 or so, and I was very very very young.

I had to type stuff off a never-ending reel of info. It was mind-numbing. I didn't last long. It was as close to factory work as I ever came.

But year after year after year I took visiting friends to the building to See It.

We went up to the top floor. We did the tourist schtick.

Dozens and dozens and dozens of times, year after year after year. Just like we'd visit the Empire State Building, and the Village, and Fifth Avenue, and all of the standard stops on my Tourist Guide To NYC tour, that I did as a native of Brooklyn, born and bred in Flatbush and Midwood, raised at 1047 East 10th St., between Avenue J and K.

And then I spent a year or so living on Clinton St., in the 90s, not a long walk from the WTC.

And all my many years there, I walked past it, and visited it, and went up and down the elevators, and walked near it. Trinity Church, and J&R's Electronics, and City Hall, and the whole damn thing.

My effing picture on my blog is of me at Battery Park, circa 1995, a few blocks from the then WTC. A short walk. A few hot dog stands away.

It was a site intimate to me.

And I had friends who lived literally lived across the street. Michael, who wasn't able to return home for about a year. Who had friends who died there. Ellie, who same same.

And on and on.

So I tend to be (more than) irate when someone implies that I, or other New Yorkers, don't care about terrorism.

We're all in this together.

And no one should ever forget that.

And, yet, despite all my friends who walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, that day, ash falling in their own hair -- we're Democrats, and lifelong members of the ACLU.

We belive in liberty, and freedom, and the ideals of America.

Strange that so many Republicans don't, but are instead for torture, and censorship, and arresting dissenters, and for seeking out members of that anti-American organization, the CIA, who want to report the truth, rather than what our rulers want to hear.

Strange.

They imagine the suppression of people printed in our nation's most read newspapers and magazines, and claim their voices can't be heard. They hallucinate. They accuse.

They want to use the power of law to arrest those who disagree with them. Some, like Ann Coulter, want to blow up the buildings of those who report news they dislike, and poison Justices whose decisions they dislike.

That's not just strange. That's evil.

Meanwhile, our ruling party is one of bribes and refusal to protect our ports, and for know-nothing nativism, opposed to people speaking other languages, and against hard-working people working for low wages to support our country. They, essentially, hate all that is good and right about America, our land that is supposed to stand for justice, and freedom.

And they call us, who disagree, traitors.

God bless America.

Even if they hate it.

Gary's latest (4/30 at 2:32pm) reminds me of how the Bush administration, if they could, would re-write the Constitution. In Larry Diamond's Squandered Victory, he discusses the writing of the interim constitution that was to govern Iraq. What was the Bush administration's position?
They objected to the exclusionary rule, "the CPA pressed for wording that would allow illegally obtained evidence (including coerced confessions) to be admissible in court if the evidence 'could have been obtained' without the use of illegal methods." (page 147 of the paperback).

The Bush Administration pushes for a "strong -- almost presidential -- prime minister." (page 153)

"the Americans were urging a simple majority vote in the transitional assembly to ratify a treaty." (page 159) Diamond comments, "I found it bizarre, disturbing, and politically unwise for the United States to be asking the emerging Iraqi democracy to accept a lower threshold for treaty ratification than the Founders of the United States had deemed appropriate. I was appalled, and at the same time amused, to see -- not for the only time -- the Iraqis taking the more democratic side of a constitutional argument with the United States....the request for a low threshold for treaty ratification was being driven from Washington....Again and again, down to the final negotiations, the Americans insisted ona simple-majority approval. 'The fact that we keep mentioning this should tell you how important it is to us,' Bremer's deputy, Ambassador Richard Jones [said]." (Id.)

"'The American position was that they did not want any restrictions on their [force] movements. And they wanted to make it clear that the Bill of Rights only applied to the Iraqi government. Only the Iraqi government would need an arrest warrant; the multinational force could break down doors.'" (page 161)

should have been inserted a couple of comments earlier.

hmm I tried to put in a fake "/grouphug" and it didn't show.

Back to the fray:

Meanwhile, our ruling party is one of bribes and refusal to protect our ports, and for know-nothing nativism, opposed to people speaking other languages, and against hard-working people working for low wages to support our country. They, essentially, hate all that is good and right about America, our land that is supposed to stand for justice, and freedom.

And they call us, who disagree, traitors.

Billy Beck points to This Essay, if that's what the kind of thing you are talking about.

"I want to drink bourbon with Jes."

We know what kind.

Rilkefan, my Boswell, not that I resemble in any way what's-his-name, remembers what goes around and makes it come around.

It's a shame Jes doesn't live in Bournemouth, since I'll be there with the family for a few days :)

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