Friday, May 01, 2009

Points to Ponder:

No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm. [George Washington]

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

On the Subject of CIA Interrogation of Terrorist Suspects In Light of Recent Events:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I want to start this posting by giving a smattering of links from various recent and older media source before getting to the crux of this posting:

The Memos Prove We Didn't Torture (The Wall Street Journal)

Intel Chief: Harsh Techniques Brought Good Info (MSNBC)

Obama Muddles...Message (Politico)

Intel director: High-Value Info Obtained (Breitbart)

Cheney Calls for Release of Memos Showing Results of Interrogation Efforts (Fox News)

Dick Cheney calls for release of CIA Waterboarding Success Memos (Telegraph/UK)

Cheney to Obama: Release All CIA Interrogation Memos (CNN)

Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 (Washington Post circa December 9, 2007)

Now many will try to approach this from predictable polarity points and the use of the word "torture" will inexorably be brought out by those opposed to certain methods of interrogation. Others in defending those methods will point to the success they may or may not have had in procuring valuable intelligence information. There are those who will defend the release of these memos and those who would oppose their release and also those who take the view that if certain ones should be released than they all should be. Your humble servant wants to avoid the surface quibbles and get to the core of the matter --something that those who bring these issues up the most continually try to avoid and that is the purpose of the material you have before you.

From the very beginning of my more active involvement in what became known in some quarters as "the torture controversy"{1}, I insisted on a fundamental principle of reason and logic; namely, defining the terms one uses in discourse:

To start with, the notion of defining the terms that someone uses is so elementary that we are frankly embarrassed that it needs to even be mentioned. But experience has shown that the best way to deal with pundits, agenda provocateurs, and apologists of various stripes is to insist on this principle at all times. This is why we have insisted with greater frequency over the years[...] that those who want to be taken seriously define their terms much as we always have done. The willingness or lack thereof of anyone to conform to this fundamental principle of rational thought has always served as a kind of acid test by your host in ascertaining the integrity or lack thereof of a positional adversary. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 13, 2006)]

But readers of this weblog know I required that all along even if my explicit demands for such things have admittedly increased with time. Those readers who may have wondered why I insisted upon a workable definition for the word "torture"{2} all along{3} and every time this subject came up{4} -be it in incendiary{5} or irenic{6} contexts- you now have an answer on the whole "torture" issue. This is also the reason your host --in the face of all the public wailing and gnashing of teeth over a word that the most frequent of the public whiners on this subject used-- demanded that such people give a workable definition{7} or basically shut the hell up altogether. The principle behind this request should be obvious but since some parties more interested in obfuscation and fog than clarity and light continue to evade it, I restate it anew from words previously used on this weblog in the form of a general principle:

When the term in question is not given a definition, it is subject to a variety of applications some proper and some improper.

That summation{8} encapsulates the principle by which I have always approached this and other subject matters. I have never been interested in television scenarios from shows I have never watched. Nor have I been insisting on defining terms that are used as some sort of game of making excuses for anybody. But the bottom line is, words mean things. And when you have different parties who use the same terms, then those parties in exercising their right to give an opinion --if they are to have any credibility whatsoever as either sound thinkers or ethical persons-- have a corresponding moral obligation. They are morally obligated to strive for clarity not obfuscation, light and not fog, and to give a proper accounting of all pertinent data not merely that which they think supports their views while ignoring that which may not.

All people regardless of their views should be held to these standards. Failure to do so and any attempts made to evade this simple requirement of both ethics and common charity demonstrates a serious lack of a spine on their part as well as a corresponding lack of credibility.{9} Words mean things.{10}

This posting will stand in perpetuity as a testimony to why I approach subjects the way I do. It will also serve to illustrate why I have such a low opinion for those who act as if such things as defining the words one uses is somehow beneath basic charity and human decencies.{11} Now certainly those who try to avoid the realm of the ethical on these sorts of matters do not mind bearing false witness{12} against anyone who dares to question their simplistic and erroneous presuppositions -regardless of whatever they may say to the contrary.{13} But more than that, this kind of irrational hermeneutic has a way of inexorably working its way into any subject that these kinds of unethical, uncharitable, and worthless excuses for human beings touch on in some form or another.{14} The end result of the process is said persons become as bereft of their intellectual and moral senses as Helen Keller was of her physical ones.

Such persons --who criticize others for supposedly making "fine distinctions" while they themselves make no distinctions only end up looking pretty stupid in the end when the truth they played no small part in attempting to hide from or dissuade others from finding eventually becomes better known. Let the following post stand as a testament to the idea that it is better to get things right from the beginning --or, at the very least utilize a methodology that greatly improves one's chances of being right in the end. And this writer can think of no better principle to follow (apart from basic charity and ethics) than one that respects reason and logic which intrinsically demands that the words used to express oneself be given workable definitions. Without them, reason and logic cannot operate. And that's the bottom line.


{1} On Torture and General Norms of Interpretation --Parts I-III (circa October 13, 2006)

{2} [O]n the subject of torture we are asking those who have seized on this as a major agenda item of theirs to give the rest of us the most basic of courtesies and explain themselves. Define for us what in a workable sense constitutes "torture" and what does not. Notice we are not asking for an abstract manualist definition of the term but one which can be applied to real life situations with reasonable assurance that it provides a point of reference on the subject in question. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 13, 2006)]

{3} To note what I believe is my earliest involvement in any recognizable capacity on the subject of what does and does not constitute "torture":

[XXXX XXXX's] "Torture Poll"

This whole scenario is reminding us of something spoken of last year pertaining to those who use terms they do not bother to define or who otherwise shirk from doing so when challenged to do so.[...] But enough on that matter for now. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 3, 2006)]

Readers can click on the links to see the person to whom I was referring -my interest here (as almost always) is to recall the principles of the dispute and not make this an issue of personalities.

{4} See footnote three and the quote from December of 2005. (One of the parties I had in mind when originally writing that passage was [XXXX XXXX] and the subject involved was the one I referred to back on July 3rd of this year.) [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 17, 2006)]

{5} For the sake of keeping this posting more to the irenic side, I will merely note that the archives of this weblog contain not a few less-than-irenic treatments on this matter and will leave it to the reader to track them down if they are so inclined.

{6} To give one example of being fairly irenic when (considering the person I was responding to) all my instincts were to the contrary on this matter:

On Coercion, the War on Terror, "Torture", and Fantasy Scenarios --Parts I-III (circa June 28-30, 2008)

{7} Defining the Word "Torture" Since No One Else Will -A Rerum Novarum Miscellaneous BLOG Posting (circa November 18, 2006)

{8} See footnote six.

{9} One of the problems I have with most bloggers or commentators in any genre is their frequent unwillingness to define their terms. Failure in this area is both dishonest as well as lazy. [Excerpt from an Email Correspondence (circa June 23, 2006) as posted to Rerum Novarum (circa July 3, 2006)]

{10} Definitions are the tools of thought. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa December 17, 2004)]

{11} This principle was encapsulated in various and sundry ways at this weblog long before the whole "torture controversy" broke out involving (among other things) personal attacks on yours truly. To note one such example that I recalled and was able with the aid of a simple archival search to dig up:

[W]atch those who are incapable of giving a reasonable working definition of "rights" to claim that there is one. Definitions are the tools of thought and frankly, those who are not willing to define their terms do not deserve to be taken seriously...whether they are misappropriating the term "rights", "neo cons", or whatever. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa December 26, 2005)]

And to note another example from over four years ago:

My interest in any social commentary is in formulating workable solutions to societies problems and not just regurgitating the canned "Catholic" responses...

Every entry which falls into this area intends to either advance, fortify, recall, or develop further the kind of core principles that enable someone to provide a coherent and consistent (not to mention workable) alternative to the ideas which permeate society at large in the present day. The reason for this is because definitions are the tools of thought.[...] I refuse to merely go along with "status quo" nebulous concepts -but apparently that is what one has to do to be considered a "social commentator"... [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa February 7, 2005)]

Like all solid principles, it has a variety of applications and is timeless in its validity thereof.

{12} A Case Study in the Importance of Reason and Logic (circa August 29, 2007)

{13} See footnote ten and also remember that while words mean things, actions speak louder than any words so judge these sorts by what they do not what they say. And remember, Pharisees in any era are quite good at talking the talk of acting in principle, acting morally, and being ethical but not so good walking the walk when the rubber meets the road if to do so proves to be an inconvenience for them.

{14} On "Consequentialism", "Proportionalism", and a Lesson in General Norms of Interpretation Theological and Otherwise (circa October 6, 2008)

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Points to Ponder:
(And One Reason Your Host Has Long Read Foreign Papers)

Why do I, a US citizen, have to read the Telegraph for any sort of criticism of this President? The Press in America doesn't care about results. They care about intentions. Gee those Democrats care. See them caring? Who cares if we shred the Constitution? Who cares if we set bad precedents? Who cares if we bankrupt generations? Our media is far too invested in Obama to give honest assessments and criticism is almost unheard. Instead, we hear 4 days worth of reports on the stupid dog and Michelle's toned arms. In case it hasn't been noted, Obama's entire political career has been campaigning. He spent 147 days as a Senator and a few years as a Senator here in IL rubbing elbows with the corrupt Chicago Democrat Machine. Bob Woodward warned to keep an eye on Obama. He isn't who he pretends to be. I believe it. God help us all. ["KKNC" (circa April 29, 2009 @ 7:38 am)]

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gore "Gored" by Lord Monckton

Here is a bit to supply some context before we comment on it:

UK's Lord Christopher Monckton, a former science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed House Democrats have refused to allow him to appear alongside former Vice President Al Gore at a high profile global warming hearing on Friday April 24, 2009 at 10am in Washington.

Monckton told Climate Depot that the Democrats rescinded his scheduled joint appearance at the House Energy and Commerce hearing on Friday. Monckton said he was informed that he would not be allowed to testify alongside Gore when his plane landed from England Thursday afternoon.

“The House Democrats don't want Gore humiliated, so they slammed the door of the Capitol in my face,” Monckton told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. “They are cowards.”

I love it when someone can not only talk smack but intelligently can back it up and props to Lord Christopher Monckton for being one of the very few who can do this on the issue of climatology. Though my view was already pretty solid on this matter and based solely on reason and logic{1}, there were admittedly areas I did not know much about or was not comfortable treading into. I therefore thank Lord Monckton for the sound education on this matter that reading his work{2} and listening to him on the radio{3} has supplied.

God bless Lord Christopher Monckton for standing up in principle against the irrational barbarians and spineless cowards who promote the horseshit of "global warming" as a way of trying to profit unethically off of other people.{4} And may the global warming apologist Al Gore grow a pair to face Monckton in public debate or shut the hell up on this matter once and for all!!!


{1} Here are a few such threads from the archives where this matter is touched upon by us:

On the Fraud of "Global Warming" With Kevin Tierney and Greg Mockeridge (circa April 13, 2006)

Miscellaneous Threads Worth Reviewing (circa November 29, 2007)

Miscellaneous Threads Worth Reviewing (circa February 13, 2008)

On the subject of the environment, McCain gets a B. If not for his stance on global warming which is (at best) an unproven hypothesis, he would get an A. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa April 26, 2008)]

More on "Global Warming" (circa December 27, 2008)

{2} Gore Gored -A Twenty Nine Page Response to Al Gore (Lord Christopher Monckton)

{3} I heard him on the radio the other day and was absolutely fascinated: something that I almost never am when listening to radio or television personalities.

{4} Sadly enough, whenever you have those who are apologists for certain viewpoints and there is a corresponding degree of time, finances, or other investments on their part. It is common in these situations for those so invested to have an interest in protecting the status quo even if it means either (i) giving a free pass on those who act unethically or (ii) acting unethically themselves.

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