Saturday, June 24, 2006

Domestic Spying

Domestic Spying
Originally uploaded by Coliopteran.

(watercolor and colored pencil on paper) original size 18"x24"
A poster design for the A.C.L.U.

Give the artist some love for this one. I think this might just turn some heads and open some wallets for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Coulter calls for Murtha's "Fragging"

Not a straight shooter.

I'd created this graphic to illustrate a story about the plagerism that infests Ann Coulter's latest book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism." (no link to that, I wouldn't want to profit by it and I'm sure not gonna do it for free. eww. Coulter cooties! A better topic appeared first, But you may find this taunting, "Godless is Gutless" by Greg Palast to be amusing. They published their books on the same day - 6/6/06. Make of that what you will, folks.

However, she's on the book tour now, and Colms of Hannedy and Colms on Faux News asked her to explain her comment about Rep. Murtha. Via Media Matters.

Media Matters:

Summary: Ann Coulter refused to explain -- and even expanded upon -- her recent claim that Rep. John P. Murtha is "the reason soldiers invented fragging," military slang meaning the intentional killing of a member of one's own unit. On a Denver radio show, Coulter referred to her fragging comment as one of her "best lines" and refused to confirm that she was not "suggesting that anybody should off John Murtha," stating only: "It is what it is." On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Coulter further expanded upon her statement, asserting that if Murtha "did get fragged, he'd finally deserve one of those Purple Hearts."

Even some conservitives consider that sort of statement beyond the pale, as Editor and Publisher reports.

Fragging, which became a well-known expression -- and occasional occurence -- during the Vietnam war, means soldiers attempting to kill their own officers for one reason or another.

This was so over the top that conservative Mike Krempasky at posted, "I've said before that's its kind of ironic that just about every phrase Stewie from Family Guy uses to describe Lois could easily be applied to Ann Coulter. Well -- once again, Ann proves us right." He went on to call her "fragging" remark absolutely "disgusting. ... there's no excuse -- NONE -- for the allusion to soldiers who kill other soldiers. It's despicable -- and frankly, so is Coulter."

I can't agree more. And scum like Anne Coulter are making me reconsider my doctrinaire position against Hate Speech legislation.

Hush up, y'all, God's talkin' to me!

Bush rejects Iraq pullout: The Washington Times

President Bush said yesterday that "Islamic fascists" must know he will not bow to political pressure to pull out of Iraq, even as the Senate begins debate on setting a timetable.

"Don't bet on American politics forcing my hand, because it's not going to happen," Mr. Bush told reporters at a morning press conference in the White House Rose Garden, seven hours after landing from his surprise trip to Iraq.

Mr. Bush backed away from saying the tide has turned in Iraq, instead telling reporters that he senses "something different happening in Iraq" and that the new government is making steady progress. He also announced that he will send Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to Iraq to help the nation with energy production and Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt to the United Nations and then to Baghdad to work on boosting support for the new government.
Gee, that sounds like infrastructure support for a timely transfer of power and a transition to direct civilian rule - by Bechtel.

Nothing at all like that Democratic plan to "cut and run."

I'm starting to understand BushSpeak. I'm betting we are going, going, gone - and in time to boost Republican chances in the mid-term.

You know, like he said, "As long as they need to be there, and not a day later."

Meanwhile, Baghdad Burning puts it into human terms.

"A new day for Iraqis" is the current theme of the Iraqi puppet government and the Americans. Like it was "A New Day for Iraqis" on April 9, 2003 . And it was "A New Day for Iraqis" when they killed Oday and Qusay. Another "New Day for Iraqis" when they caught Saddam. More "New Day" when they drafted the constitution… I'm beginning to think it's like one of those questions they give you on IQ tests: If 'New' is equal to 'More' and 'Day' is equal to 'Suffering', what does "New Day for Iraqis" mean?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

ThisCanadian: Join the Revolution

ThisCanadian: Join the Revolution:

An interesting argument and a definitely refreshing change from the socialist manifestos fo my youth.

Oh, and Not Safe For Work. Indeed, I think that's the whole point to it.

Is O'Rielly on Crack?

To put it in polite, social conversational terms: Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly is a lying sack of shit. - Doug Thompson

Media Matters - O'Reilly again suggested employing Saddam's methods in Iraq:

"Summary: Fox News host Bill O'Reilly again suggested that Iraq should be run as it was under Saddam Hussein, stating: 'Saddam was able to control Iraq, as you know, and defeat insurgencies against him. The new Iraqi government can do the same, but it needs to get much tougher.' O'Reilly also declared that the American Civil Liberties Union, the BBC, and Air America Radio 'are helping the terrorists.'"

Were we not told we HAD to get rid of rid of Saddam because that's exactly the sort of thing he was famous for?

I confidently expect him to call for the use of gas on entire towns that consistently express their resistence to our benevolent rule.

Democracy and Freedom are messy things, Bill. The very concepts imply the freedom of dissent. And, as the night followeth the day, and as the dog returneth to it's vomit, oppression is what results in terrorism - the exact opposite of what you - if I may use the term loosely - think.

People who can express their dissent usefully and effectively without risk to their lives do that. In our nation, for instance, that right is defended by your personal great Satan, the American Civil Liberties Union, and joyfully expressed by the cleverer, better informed and much funnier folks at Air America and Comedy Central.

Now, many of you Authoritarian "bigger hammer" philosophy people make a big whup about how the founder of the ACLU was a Commie. Yeah, he was. Many sensible people were Communists in 1917. And many people were put in jail for their constitutionally-protected foolishness, so the correlation is hardly surprising, nor particularly damning.

And when Communism was dropped into the American Marketplace of ideas - well - how many Commies do YOU know that anyone paid much mind to? I mean, in order just to find a few, you have to stretch the definition beyond recognition.

And that was because the people who at first thought it was a good idea met some actual Communists - and they were about as much fun at parties as you are, my grim-jawed stalwart of truthiness.

Indeed, communism bombed as a philosophy and a social force even in China and Russia because it was co-opted by people JUST like you, Bill. That was the inevitable flaw of Communism in general and Marxist-Leninism in particular; it presumed that people could be trusted to put the welfare of others ahead of their own.

Well, yes - a great many can be. And they got ruthlessly exploited by those who cynically took advantage of their trustful natures. You know, like the folks that buy your books and Anne (The Man) Coulter's.

Now, Bill, you consistently refer to those who defend civil liberties and insist on speaking verifiable truths about the war in public that contradict the delusional, nay, outright magical thinking of the Right as "helping the terrorists."

That means you never have to actually address the facts.

And in a sense, to the extent that the goal of the Iraqi Insurgency is to make us get the hell out Iraq, you are correct. But then, as the saying goes, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

But that would put us on the wrong side of the war, a concept starkly incomprehensible to Bushites like you.

And that inability to consider dispassionately the fruits of policy and the results of actions taken in "defense" of our nation leads to such examples of public idiocy.

The Bush administration also needs to begin challenging those who are helping the enemy. The ACLU, for example, opposes just about every anti-terror strategy. This organization should be exposed.

The BBC also helps the enemy by consistently slanting the Iraq war coverage and portraying the coalition as villains. The vile Air America Radio network does the same thing.

Well, it is a fact that torture occurs. It is a fact that we, as a matter of deliberate, verifiable and documented policy, commit torture and subcontract it out to those less squeamish than us. This is despite strenuous, on-the-record objection from our own Counter-terrorism and Counter-intelligence experts, the FBI, who know full well that information gained in such ways is generally useless.

I also know that torture, and curfews imposed on pain of death and detention without trial are Un-American, no matter what the excuse. After all, if one sacrifices the constitution on the altar of "preserving our freedom," what HAS one achieved?

Yet another dusty, dull tyranny. I'm opposed to that, and I support anyone who is opposed to it having it imposed upon them. Even by us.

And if that comes to pass here, Mr. O'Rielly, not only will there be widespread resistance from domestic "freedom fighters," it's folks like you what will be first up against the wall - followed by those foolish enough to take you seriously.

For it's my true and cynical belief that anyone stupid enough to take you seriously is also too dumb to duck when the barricades go up and the guns start chattering.

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On the power of Words.

Biblical Christianity: The Purpose Of This Blog:

The purpose of this blog is to put expositional teaching of Scripture on the internet for those who would like to read and comment. Currently there is exposition being posted on this blog from the books of 1 Timothy and Proverbs. These are from my personal studies. At church we are going through Acts on Sundays and 1 Peter during our mid-week meeting. As we finish these books and begin new ones (1 Corinthians on Sundays, Hewrews on Thursdays) comments from those books will find their way into this blog.
You may find it surprising that I am commending this blog to you, featuring it in a post, tracking back and suggesting you read the writing of someone who I likely agree with on absolutely NO point of social or public policy.

Well, I am many things; indeed, my name may not literally be Legion - but it's certainly Cohert. "I" am a functional Multiple Personality; a fact of my life that has distinctly influenced our faith and our understanding of reality in general.

Many of us are Christian - as disturbing as that may be for people who may think of a multiple personality as being "possessed by demons." Indeed, one of us who self-identifies as being originally a "demon' in the sense most Christans would think of it, wryly observes that most demonic posession is much like a dinasaur "possessing" a tar-pit, or an ant "possessing" a kitchen.

We-all manage to get along. One of the means by which we do is treating each other "as we would be treated ourselves." While we often deny being Christian, it is not to deny the word of the Bible, it is to deny the things "everybody knows" it says, but does not.

The rigorous and faithful study of Scripture - and by that, I mean any scripture you can get your paws upon, not JUST the Bible - is profitable and worthwhile. But it does tend to be disturbing to the doctrines one learned in Sunday School or your local Madrass.

Off hand, I cannot think of a single, legitimate, recognised Prophet who would fail to approve of such biblicaly-inspired apostacy.

To give you an example of a troubling doctrine that should have better Scriptural support, one that has at times been literal death to question aloud, and certainly will get you shunned at Coffee Hour; the Divinity of Christ.

I was raised Episcopailian. It's in the Creed. One does not question it. But Christ himself was decidedly slippery on the subject.

Finally, in a moment of confusion, I just decided to ask. (To me, the word "prayer" implies you really don't expect a literal answer in words you can understand.)

The answer came in the form of a short vision, in which he asked - Jew that he Is - "would knowing for sure, one way or another, change in ANY the truth of a single word of mine?" Close as I can recall.

I thought about it, and had to say that it wouldn't. The words of Christ in the Bible have a ring of self-evidence to them, and better yet, when you ACT upon them, they prove their worth.

And THEN I was reminded of this: "In the beginning there was the Word. And the word was with God, and the word WAS God.

Then we had a little "chalk talk." Suppose you believe in the LITERAL divinity of Christ. Well, then, you let His words pass by without examination, you just nod your head and follow blindly.

Well, that's one of the things he was continually beating his Apostles over the head with - their lust for simple answers. But he always made them think.

And what if he's provably just some guy from Galalee, a member of the poorest laboring class? Why should I bother to take his word for anything?

But if I'm not sure, I have to listen, consider and evaluate His words for myself!

The doubt is deliberate!

It's not about the divinity of Jesus, or of you or of me. Indeed, to the extent that our words ring true, we speak God. And when we do not speak truly - no matter how "holy" the "sacred cause" we are speaking for something else entirely. Discernment between the two - indeed, "the knowledge of good and evil" goes to the very root of the faith of the Peoples of the Book.

The purpose of Graphictruth is to speak the truth, as best as I can, on issues of the day, from a perspective most people are fortunate enough to lack. Being on the autistic spectrum and being a Multiple gives me advantages for this task, which is fortunate as it's about all I'm capable of doing well.

And it stunned me that that determination was, in fact, precisely the sort of thing Jesus was doing. Indeed, He said many of the same things I have. I say many other things - I have the advantage of not having to pay dearly for the written word. I can afford verbosity and I can afford to not worry so much about boiling things down into memorable parables.

Oh, and to the best of MY knowleged, my conception was as maculate as they come. Not that I care about that nonsense about the virgin birth; given the above, it resides in the great land of "so what?"

I'm not saying it's untrue, either literally or in some metaphorical sense. I'm saying that it literally doesn't matter to my faith. Indeed, the historical existance of Christ Himself does not matter. It's about the words. Read the words in red for yourself - and then write your own commentary.

Indeed, once you have read those words, you should look around you and speak, as best you may, something that you know to be undeniably true. Pick a cause. Pick a topic. It needen't be contraversial, nor timeless. It's enough that it's true, right here and right now, as well as you can say it. Maybe others will run across it, and recognising the truth, state it better. Or maybe a larger truth will emerge in a subsequent discussion. But first you must do the work of panning the stream of reality for the little shiny flakes that have yet to be noticed and brought into a larger conciousness.

And Truth Will Out.

Dispatches from our Republic in Exile

Greg Palast is promoting his latest book. And so am I; promoting his latest book. Now that I've read more bits of it and reader reactions, I think it might be worth the investment.

The Power and the Payoff - Greg Palast:
"They finally put Dan Rather out of his misery. Today, CBS finally terminated him and sent him to the electronic glue factory — all for reporting the truth. But not all of it.

Rather’s “unsubstantiated story of Bush’s military service” (says USA Today) got him canned. Yet, all the poor man did was repeat a story we put on BBC Television a year earlier — that Poppy Bush put in the fix to get his son out of ‘Nam and into the Texas Air Guard, spending his war years guarding Houston from Viet Cong attack.

But Dan never reported this: the documentation from inside the US Department of Justice detailing the fix. Why not? Because it opened up a far more serious charge: that those who kept Little George out of war’s way ended up very well rewarded. We ran that full story — from the evidence of the fix to the evidence of the lucrative pay-backs — on the world’s biggest network, BBC, and we’ve never retracted a comma of it. Nor, by the way, has the White House denied our accusations despite our repeated offers to respond.

George’s slithering out of combat turned into big pay-days for those in on the fix and its cover-up: Harriett Miers (remember her?), Karen Hughes and Texas lobbyists."

One of the most baffling things about this Iraq War is the fact that none of the arguments for it make a lick of sense. They sounded good at the time, but there was absolutely nothing to support them, if you did any looking at all. And by "any," I mean that literally. You didn't have to be an investigative reporter to realize the arguments for the war were misdirection. The question was, what were we being distracted from?

Years of bitter dispute over how transparent the lies were served beautifully as a distration from what the lies served to conceal.

And to illustrate what that was, I'll turn you over to a satisfied reader, Ed Uyeshima
The author wisely divides his findings into five interrelated sections. The first chapter, "The Fear", details the folly that the war on terrorism has become. It only begins with the bureaucracy instigated by CIA leadership, and Palast verifies much of what Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzulo has divulged in "Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander". On a larger scale, he paints a mercenary picture of military-based greed that has allowed the government and its ancillary companies to profit from the fear of the American public. This leads naturally to the main commodity valued, oil, which is the main topic of the second section, "The Flow", a penetrating look at how the current administration's hidden agenda has been to keep oil prices high in order to maintain the confluence of OPEC. Without hesitation, Palast points out that Exxon-Mobil wants neither OPEC disrupted nor Iraqi oil flowing, as the availability of more crude translates into lower prices and less profit.
This is restated by Steve Koss who states:

"The Flow," argues that the war in Iraq was never about WMD or Saddam Hussein, it was about oil. Not about getting oil, however, but about preventing us from getting it. The goal in Iraq is to keep Iraqi oil off the markets to raise the price, bolster OPEC, and line the black-slicked pockets of Houston oil magnates. Furthermore, Palast puts the lie to the notion that the world is even remotely running out of oil (other than the $10 per barrel kind) and reveals how the power centers of oil are moving away from Saudi Arabia and toward Iraq, Venezuela, and (believe it or not) Canada. Chapter 2 is one of the book's longest, most deeply documented, and most disturbing.

There is a great deal more, but it strikes me that "oil" is the key issue for my readership. However, I also strongly suggest you consider why, aside from the sheer, staggering, nose-bleed range profits, those in power would like you paying more for oil.

Consider this - as one more observation that I'm picking out of the pile. Individual liberty is ultimately an economic matter. The ability to travel is fundimental to liberty. Well, your ability to travel has been restricted.

And by that I mean, further restricted. Consider what the "war on terror" has done to air travel. And of course, all international travel IS air travel, save to the US and Mexico.

The concept of a spontainious trip to nearly anywhere has vanished into the haze of yesteryear. Who's interests does that serve, I wonder?

It is said that "travel broadens the mind," and I think we have all seen the result of unbroadened minds in the voting booth.

Now, I'm not against the idea of Globalization - it's an invitable development. But there is a stark difference between the evolution of a truly global economy and the mechanisms it requires and what the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are actually doing, which bears absolutely no resemblance to free-market capitalism whatoever. It is, rather, economic and - dare I say it - class warfare.

Now, I hesitate to use the term "class warfare" as it's a term most strongly associated with the biggest class warriers of all, the socialists and the Marxist-Lenninists. But sometimes one cannot avoid naming a reality for what it is.

But when I speak of "class warfare" I'm not talking about "rich versus poor." I'm talking "corporate class" versus "everyone else in the world."

I include in this the extraordinarily wealthy. Oh, they may let you retreat to your private island - but they will not allow you to use your wealth in any way that interferes with their desired outcome. Just try investing your money in something that would tend to mitigate global energy scarcity and you will find out just how wealthy you are not.

For that matter, try showing up at a shareholder's meeting instead of allowing your proxies to be excercised in your name. You may be in for a rude shock, and perhaps the sudden onset of "schizophrenia" or "senile dementia."

Call me paranoid if you will - but should you decide to take such a course, consider first the idea that a mere million dollars, one way or another is a price the vast majority of the world would kill for.

Now, there are some folks that think that Corporatism is the next stage in social development; unavoidable, if not actively desirable. For myself, I consider it to be a regression to something less palatable than serfdom, and more importantly,. dependant on the rather dubious assumption that billions of peopel will be content to live upon the crumbs left to them by a few millions who, by necessity, must be rather conspiciously concentrated into a few small areas.

Such as, say, the World Trade Towers.

Now, I'm not saying 9/11 was a good thing, or a justifiable thing, or even an effective act, any more than the strike against the McMurrah buliding by Tim McVeigh was. I'm just saying that such events become more and more likely as the target value becomes more obvious.

I don't actually support such violence at all, for there is a far more effective way of dealing with these people. First, Just Say No to the IMF. If you need money, and you can't get it on the "official" markets, there's always the grey market.

If you need communications - there are ways other than through pipelines controlled by AT&T and other corperatist shills. Consider a UUCP-style network running on the Citizen Band or HAM-UHF frequences, as a "samizdata" worldwide unoffical "Backbone." Third-world level tech could make this sort of network pervasive, and accessable by wi-fi by technilogical gurilla action.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bill O'Rielly: Certifiably, Clinically Stupid

O’Reilly’s solution: Run the place like Saddam at Calling All Wingnuts

Via Randi Rhodes.

O’Reilly: Now to me, they’re not fighting it hard enough. See, if I’m president, I got probably another 50-60 thousand with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot them on sight. That’s me… President O’Reilly… Curfew in Ramadi, seven o’clock at night. You’re on the street? You’re dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. Ok? That’s how I run that country. Just like Saddam ran it. Saddam didn’t have explosions - he didn’t have bombers. Did he? because if you got out of line, you’re dead.

Didn't we go there to rid the Iraq People of brutal incompetant Bushists. BAATHISTS! I mean Baathists!

It's not just what happens to them; it's what happens to us.

Bloggers Against Torture: Blowback

I decided to join this group for reasons that should be obvious; torture is both an ineffective technique for gathering information and it is blackly unethical, immoral and illegal under international civilian law and the laws of war.

I have been dismayed to see certain sectors successfully diminish the recent suicides by presuming that the men in Guantanamo are too low for our concern. Never mind that we know that innocent men have been kept in there. Never mind that it's the kind of place where "evidence" against a 17 year old boy is acquired by torturing another detainee until he is cowering under his bedsheets and muttering to himself. We even have a study, based on data supplied by the Defence Department, saying that 55% of detainees are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies. But a "boo freakin hoo" is enough to render all of that irrelevant.

I wanted to write a post about the tortures that the men at Guantanamo have suffered. The tortures at the rendition sites from which they're sent are especially horrific. But the above made me pause. Unfortunately, it is well known that humans have difficulty empathising with those outside of their own cultural group, and let's be frank, it's not exactly Middle Easterners that we need to convince here. So instead I'll post about what happened to Sean Baker.

Spc. Sean Baker is an American. There's a picture of him on the left. In January of 2003, Baker volunteered in the role of an uncooperative detainee at Guantanamo for the purposes of a training drill. The MPs weren't told it was a drill. They were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant. They subsequently inflicted a beating upon Baker so severe that it resulted in a traumatic brain injury, leaving him with seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and psychological problems.

Baker was lucky. He was wearing his uniform under the orange jumpsuit, and he had enough time to groan "I'm a U.S. soldier" to his abusers to make them check. I wonder how it would have gone for him if his name was Abdul Kareem. What recourse is there for someone who has no rights?

This is what happens to our people when we make it "ok" to mistreat "their people." They become more and more willing to abuse people casually, brutally, and in many cases, terminally. This is what we commonly refer to as "prejudicial to good order and discipline."

Now, you would expect - as a rational human being, especially one interested in a professional, competent and disciplined military - that at the very least, those soldiers would now be civilians, after discharge from the stockade.

But I doubt that, given the response to the incident by the military, recorded at the above-linked wikipedia article.

Therefore, as a rational and cynical human being, I conclude that the MP's were executing their duties exactly as trained and precisely as expected in Gitmo. Resistance is to be discouraged with total brutality.

And that would make perfect sense - in a facility that is intended as an offshore brainwashing and torture facility, as well as a repository for useful hostages and political prisoners. One must assume the latter, of course, but given that half are adjudged as being innocent of any activity against the US, they must be held for other reasons, making it a very probable truth, even if it's only in the sense that the White House is worried about the political impact upon them of anyone detained there telling what happened to them.

American Agenda

American Agenda

Gary points out that the "Gay Agenda" is the "American Agenda" that used to be the common dream of every single American, and is still the dream of everyone who, perhaps mistakenly, will do almost anything to come here.

I am just another American seeking my rights. American laws and rights are to be faceless. Without defining characteristics that make any one American more rightful than another. In the dark animosity of that theatre we are all just citizens, presumed equal in every way.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And soon we are all blind and toothless....

The Ethical Vacuum of the Warblogger.

Pirates! Man Your Women! » Derision: "Anyone who says anything about Geneva conventions and the terrorists, and close Guantamano because its cruel, well, they can go fuck themselves with something large and spikey.
Why? This is why.

An Iraqi military official said the bodies showed signs of torture and of being killed in “a barbaric way.”

Can anyone give me any reason at all why we should not bring back the time-honored practice of burying Islamic terrorists in pig skins? Notice I didn’t say dead Islamic terrorists…"
There is a reason why I talk about ethics a lot more than I do morals. "Morals" allow this sort of thing, because in practice, "morals" do not apply to any "out group."

I have a very solid reason why we should not act as he suggests: Civilized human beings have the duty to be better than that. Anyone that would do as he suggests is undeserving of the fruits of civilization or the company of civilized human beings, and should be confined or expelled, as may seem convenient, on pain of death.

Civilized societies cannot permit such behavior and remain civilized. That’s an historical truth there; great heaping piles of examples are just a google away; prove it to yourself if you do not find it intuitively obvious.

A system of justice, with defense lawyers and juries for even war criminals is not just a benefit of civilization, it's one of the things that defines it. Treating the undeserving in a civilized manner - even in the manner of their judicial execution is what separates us from barbarians like the Taliban and the sleeker but no less vicious ones in Saudi Arabia and the West Wing.

Oh, and among the ranks of the 101'st Fighting Keyboardists, of course.

Civilizations have rules, which are followed even when it interferes with our lust for blood and vengeance.

Here's the Dread Pirate Procedure for dealing with a mixed group of captured insurgents who may have valuable intelligence:

Walk into that room, and shoot one of the leaders right in the head. The one the rest looked to. Sure, he might have been the most “valuable” prisoner because he knew the most, but I guarantee one of the newbies will break. If not, take out #2.

I want you to think what you would honestly do in the newbie’s position. You’re just some 19 year old kid who wasn’t expecting anything like this when you joined up with Al Qaeda or “the resistance”. You just wanted to prove you’re a man. But that doesn’t include what’s happening now. I guarantee that if you know anything, you’ll talk at this point.

Ah, the words of a man unfamiliar with both history and Robert A. Heinlein.

Insurgencies run by competent folks are compartmentalized. Death and torture are presumed upon capture, and certain if you talk and are released. Such tactics may well work, and that is why their use is presumed.

Or in other words, son, if it were that easy, a fool like you could do it. But insurgencies hope that fools like you operate in such a manner. It makes their success possible.

Saddam's entire, extremely ruthless and quite professional intelligence apparatus evaporated as the morning dew, even as our troops were racing for Baghdad. And now, we face some truly professional insurgency. 1+1=?

You may presume that anyone you capture will be operating in a manner to limit the potential gains from interrogation by any means. Go read "The moon is a Harsh Mistress" for an exact outline of what a properly redundant insurgency looks like, and how the direct consequence of any compromised cell could be limited to one member of three other cells.

On the other hand, consider the impact on the morale of the enemy. Such behavior simply reinforces the spine of a resistance. Consider the battle for the Warsaw Ghetto.

This was a truly desperate fight, between mostly untrained and very lightly equipped Jews who preferred to die fighting, pitted against a truly professional force that embodied the fighting spirit so well illustrated by our Dread Pirate.

On Monday, April 19, 1943, the Jewish feast of Passover, over 2000 Waffen SS soldiers under the command of SS General J├╝rgen Stroop attacked with tanks, artillery and flame throwers. A fierce battle erupted between the heavily armed Germans and 1200 Jews armed with smuggled in pistols, rifles, a few machine guns, grenades and Molotov cocktails.
This was a final battle after months of urban warfare, warfare of a nature unrivaled until the current situation in Iraq.

The end result: the SS units sustained at least 50% casualties; accounts vary, but a remnant of approximately 1700 half-starved, poorly equipped fighters killed roughly 300 and wounded 1000 - and this does not account for casualties sustained earlier. The units involved were destroyed as effective units, and sustained huge equipment losses as well.

All of this was the direct result of policies that are nearly word for word and action for action what our dear pirate suggests as being "most effective."

And granted, they were effective. The Warsaw ghetto was wiped out. Of course, it inspired a later, more general Warsaw uprising, which had to be suppressed at an even higher cost and while both battles were "victories" for the Germans, it was at a price German forces could not afford, nor sustain.

The ethics of warfare are incredibly important, for ethics define the why of any war, especially in the breach. They also circumscribe the range of action one may take, lest the consequence overwhelm the potential gain.

Von Clauswitz (the Prussian military genius) is noted for a statement as profound as it is seemingly obvious; "war is fought by human beings."

Asymmetrical warfare is no different in that regard and while war is a dehumanizing business, anyone who bases their actions and beliefs on the delusion that the other side does not share a common humanity will ultimately lose. Indeed, they will probably lose rather quickly.

Von Clauzwitz was no fuzzy-minded Liberal squeamish about dropping hellfire upon his foes. He was instructing the reader to understand that that humanity was to be used to direct the fire. He was speaking about breaking the will of the enemy to fight, and no part of that involves underestimating their capability in any sense.

Likewise, look to Sun Tsu, who advised in the Art of War to always leave the enemy a path of retreat, and ideally, an option which made it attractive to them to not fight at all.

A cornered enemy with high motivation and the sure knowledge that they will face death or worse at your hands if they surrender to you is the most dangerous foe imaginable. Worse than that, they have the ethical, and indeed, the moral high ground - for you could choose to permit their escape as a disorganized and demoralized force.

If Hitler had understood this, all of Europe would be speaking German today.

When you choose to utterly crush an enemy, wipe them out to the last man, woman and child it will be at a high price in blood and the loss of your own troop's morale and discipline - and you will communicate something to everyone else you may face: "No mercy, no quarter, no forgiveness and no prisoners."

There is a Biblical proverb that boils this down to its essentials: "What profitith a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Some call this "war on terror" a "clash of civilizations." History records many such clashes and the ultimate victor is not always the one who triumphed on the battlefield. War is not a civilized business; it's the antithesis of civilized behavior and tends to destroy everything that makes civilization possible both in terms of physical things, like libraries and plumbing and in terms of the human ability to be civilized after being exposed to the potential inhumanity of mankind.

We call it "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," and by some estimates, more than half of our active-duty combat forces have levels of PTSD severe enough that they should be hospitalized, instead of running around with weapons. For every soldier of ours this is true of, it's likely true of a hundred Iraqis.

It is unethical to do this sort of thing to people. Things that are unethical are also starkly unwise. People with PTSD tend to do sudden and violent things. They have a peculiar sort of mindset, characterized by being almost binary, black and white in nature. They loose empathy towards other people, and the ability to function within a multi-valued society. Left untreated, they tend to end up in prison or dead, and short of that, make the lives of those that love them a misery.

Now, all of this is inevitable in war to some degree. "War is Hell." It's a truism. It's a reality that every sane defense planner allows for. Therefore, it is advisable to be fighting for something that justifies such a price, and ideally extracts that price from the "other side."

That makes it desirable to have identifiable "sides."

Formless rhetorical ideas are not the proper target of a war. They cannot be defeated, nor can they be killed. But that stress must be vented, and as the guilty do not exist, by definition, the innocent will pay. This includes, as the very first and worst victim, the solder himself.

I have studied war and warfare for nearly as long as I could read. It's a fascinating subject, and a horrifying one. There is no record of a good war but there are many cases where the alternative was inarguably worse. In cases like that, there can be no sane argument against a resort to force.

But when ethics, ideals, common sense, sound military advice and the inherent value of the lives of the people directly involved are simply dismissed as trivial irrelevancies there can be no victory, save for barbarism in general.

I'm not anti-war. I'm anti-barbarian.

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Privacy should not be a commodity.

Let us speak together about ethics and morals, and those who wink at acts that violate the letter and the spirit of BOTH the Constitution and the Ten Commandments.

It's pretty clear to me that these folks want both mounted on the walls of courthouses in exactly the same spirit that they want the head of a 12-prong buck mounted in their den.

"I killed that. Have a nice Havana. I know a guy in Miami."

AP: Police got phone data from brokers - Yahoo! News:
"WASHINGTON - Numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered Americans' personal telephone records from private-sector data brokers."
The existance of "data brokerages" is not exactly breaking news for people who've been on the net awhile, but it's apparently news to those the Associated Press informs. But I confess I had not really considered the implications as fully as I should have.

A lawmaker who has investigated the industry said Monday he was concerned by the practices of data brokers.

"We know law enforcement has used this because it is easily obtained and you can gather a lot of information very quickly," said Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., head of the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee. The panel expects to conduct hearings this week.

Whitfield said data companies will relentlessly pursue a target's personal information. "They will impersonate and use everything available that they have to convince the person who has the information to share it with them, and it's shocking how successful they are," Whitfield said. "They can basically obtain any information about anybody on any subject."

The congressman said laws on the subject are vague: "There's a good chance there are some laws being broken, but it's not really clear precisely which laws."

Now, here's an idea. How about creating some clear and precise laws that prevent third parties from gaining by stealth and misdirection what the government is forbidden to obtain without a proper warrent? Is that not what "lawmakers" do?

It's pretty clear to me that when one party pays good money to poke into the private life of others, their intents are pobably not to the benifit of the other party. This priciple alone should put it clearly into the category of theft and trespass. And for those who cannot understand the Constitution, well, both of those concepts are in the Ten Commandments.

In this case, my dear Theocons, read 'em and weep. If you wish to shove them down the throats of the entire nation, it seems fair that you should first digest them yourselves.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Total Boehner

Think Progress » EXCLUSIVE: Majority Leader Boehner’s Confidential Strategy Memo For Thursday’s Iraq Debate:

On Thursday, the House of Representatives will hold a debate on the Iraq war. Media reports say Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) “hopes to match the serious, dignified tone of deliberation that preceded the Gulf war, in 1991.”

ThinkProgress has obtained a “Confidential Messaging Memo” from Boehner instructing his caucus to conduct a very different kind of deliberation. Here’s a quick summary:

1. Exploit 9/11. The two page memo mentions 9/11 seven times. It describes debating Iraq in the context of 9/11 as “imperative.”

2. Attack opponents ad hominem. The memo describes those who opposes President Bush’s policies in Iraq as “sheepish,” “weak,” and “prone to waver endlessly.”

3. Create a false choice. The memo says the decision is between supporting President Bush’s policies and hoping terrorist threats will “fade away on their own.”

You can read the confidential memo for yourself HERE."

Well, that link says a lot about the word "confidential" in our post-9/11 world. But this paragraph indicates just why they wanted to keep it confidential, and why it did not remain so.

Republicans believe victory in Iraq will be an important blow to terrorism and the threat it poses around the world. Democrats, on the other hand, are prone to waver endlessly about the use of force to protect American ideals. Capitol Hill Democrats’ only specific policy proposals are to concede defeat on the battlefield and instead, merely manage the threat of terrorism and the danger it poses.

These are troubling policies to embrace in a post-9/11 world. During this debate, we need to clarify just how wrong the Democrats’ weak approach is and just how dangerous their implementation would be to both the short-term and long-term national security interests of the United States.
Isn't it just wonderful - aside from the actual, very troubling policies - to be told what you, as a Republican, must believe in the face of near-overwhelming reality?

How very Orwellian.

As a Libertarian, or perhaps more accurately, a Jeffersonian Democrat, I will state with conviction that there is almost no case where the use of force by the State against anyone can "protect my ideals." I suggest that the ideals held by the Majority Leader and El Presidente de la Norte have nothing whatsoever to do with any idea or ideal Jeffeson ever set pen to write about - save in terms of the starkest condemnation.

But even if all the Republican members are still dedicated drinkers of the Kool-Aide, they have staffs. Staffs that are neither idiots nor interested in the sort of disruption to their lives and families that a continued Republican majority would entail. Staffs that would like to be working toward their own goals for people that have a faint hope of achieving them.

With the proper guidance, of course.

Oh, and they might just have some ethical issues with the Leader, if not purely moral ones. But as pure long-term political survival is sufficient to explain such leakage, I invoke Occam's Razor.

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