Thursday, February 7, 2013



"...realism about the sociology of government and the logic of collective action. The theory’s explanatory and predictive power, Buchanan wrote, derives from its “ presumption that persons do not readily become economic eunuchs as they shift from market to political participation.”

From George F. Will, Balanced Budget Amendment, February 7, 2013

Ah, at last we have an explanation of Republicans in office. They merely exchange one form of aggrandizement for another.

Thank you, George.


from the New York Times:

"Memo justifying the targeted killing by drone, of United States citizens overseas..."


Monday, February 4, 2013

George, the Movies, and Terrorism

George, the Movies, and Terrorism

Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Meditations:

"If you wish to know a thing, look to its origins."

The term, "enhanced techniques" or "enhanced interrogation techniques", meaning torture, is actually a Gestapo term, "verschaerfte Vernehmung." This term indicates Gestapo practices.

To explore the topic of American use of torture, George F. Will uses two Hollywood productions: Code Red and Zero Dark Thirty. It is unclear whether he believes that the scriptwriters had unique insights or unique access to information or whether he believed, and wants us to believe, their stories. But a scriptwriters job, we must remember, is not to explain or elucidate or illustrate, their job is to sell movie tickets. Boring truth or ambiguous moralities have little influence on them.

He tells us that Michael Hayden, former CIA chief, claimed that half of our knowledge about al-Qaeda came from the use of "enhanced techniques." However, this is just a claim, not truth. Michael Hayden was head of the CIA when it used waterboarding and other techniques on prisoners. (1) That claim is just another example of CYA, or "cover your ass", in case Congress looks into the matter. (2) The "knowledge" so gained may have been useless, such as the fact that Osama bin Laden was a disaffected Muslim, that he was in hiding, that he had couriers bring him information, and the like. If the information had been truly priceless and valuable, then the CIA could have tracked him down earlier instead of ten years after his triumph.
I have deep doubts about Mr. Hayden's assertions.
Lastly, we have George's glaring lack of historical knowledge. On July 20, 1944, a group of Army officers and civilians tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb. The Gestapo rapidly arrested most of the conspirators. They were interrogated using standard police methods, not torture, and the Gestapo quickly learned the extent of the plot. Later, some were tortured, but for the most important information, standard police techniques of questioning and cross-referencing information was sufficient. What does this tell us? That not even the Gestapo thought that torture worked. IT DOESN'T WORK, George, maybe in the movies, yes, but not in real life.
I must also note that the plot of Code Red came from the Melville novel, Billy Budd, which explores the moral ambiguity of our guardians, who must act for good by less than moral means. The movie has a schmaltzy, idealistic ending, quite in keeping with Hollywood. All this escapes George.

You know, if the Republican Party, our incarnations of selfishness, ever came out against the Cruxifixion, George would publish an article praising Pontius Pilate and executioners.