Friday, September 28, 2007

Saving Lives v. Torture

At a recent debate in New Hampshire presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was asked by moderator Tim Russert, "if there should be a presidential exemption to allow the torture of a terror chieftain if authorities knew a bomb was about to go off, but didn't know where it was."
Her response was "It cannot be American policy, period."

Apparently contradicts a previous position Senator Clinton staked out. I think this issue deserves to be logically dissected to see which of her positions is the correct one.

First I think we an all agree that torture is bad. It dehumanizes both the victim and the perpetrator. On a more selfish note if you torture enemy POW's it opens your troops to retaliation. As a criminal investigative technique it is flawed because obviously confessions gained by torture are of suspect reliability.

But what about the situation posed by Mr Russert?

Under western common law if you kill someone to save your own life or the life of another you are not guilty of murder. The classic example is someone puts a gun to your spouses head and says they will kill them if you do not shoot the person standing next to you. Now this deals with the issues of duress and that no one is forced to give up there life for another but it is also illustrative of how we value life. It is permitted under the Western Judeo-Christian ethic to take life to save life. Another example is even clearer. Is there anyone who would argue that it would have been wrong to assassinate Hitler. Of course not. It would have saved millions of innocent lives.

So if we could save multiple lives or even one life by torturing someone (less extreme then killing them) wouldn't that be the sensible thing to do? Not only would it be the sensible thing to do but it is the morally and ethically correct thing to do. You are trading the dignity of one human for the lives of thousands or hundreds or even one but do not those innocent lives have a higher value then the dignity of one terrorist?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I am in the mood to talk about foreign affairs. Let's start with the big white elephant in the political room. ( I just love mixed metaphors)

Should we have gone in? I think so. Did the current administration bollix the job up? No question they did. However, I would rather not talk about the past. I would rather talk about what we do now.

I see three options.

1. Stay the course. Great option if we can eventually prevail. The magic 8 ball says "answer not clear"
2. Pull out. OK but what happens then. The most likely scenario is that after a bloody fight between rival Shiite factions an Iran dominated Shiite regime rules the south. This gives our friend Ahmadinejad and his black turbaned fundamentalist friends more power. Sunni Taliban like terrorist loving types will rule the center. The Sunnis and the Shiite each attempt genocide on the other and millions die horribly.
Meanwhile the Kurdish north is invaded by Turkey and maybe Iran and the Sunnis each grab a small piece. Many many Kurds die as Turks, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Persians try to wipe out the Kurds for good. Now that option does not seem attractive for anyone except the terrorists and the Iranians does it?
3. We divide the country. If we can set up a neutral regime in Shia Iraq that might mitigate some of the problems. First we have to do some ugly fighting to weaken some of the other militias. Of course Sunni land would be a lost cause. The only hope might be for Kurdistan. We could station some troops their . The Kurds like us and this would benefit them because it would keep the Turks off their backs. The Turks would be really unhappy about all this but we could tell them we will help prevent cross border raids by Turkish Kurdish terrorists. This would benefit us because it would give us a base on the Iranian border. So if we have to pull out this is a slightly better option.

As I am writing this a fourth option comes to mind. It is possible for the terrorists and militias and insurgents to be shut down. Only it would take a lot more troops then we have. Probably double the amount we have. Maybe we can get some other nations to step up with a little blackmail. The Arabs do not want the country divided because they are afraid it will make Iran more powerful and their brethren in Iraq will be left with the part of the country that has no oil. Actually it does not have much of anything. The Turks do not want the country divided because they fear a resurgent greater Kurdistan. Their may be other nations who do not want to see options 2 or 3 happen. Lets tell them pony up troops or we pull out and see what happens.

The people who advocate pulling out had better be prepared to live with the consequences because they will be compounding any problems already created. I wish we could leave too. But at what cost do we do that? If genocide ensues can we live with that?

If you want us to pull out you better have a plan better then what I can come up with.

Ahmadinejad Day 2

A lot of people were very upset that Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak at Columbia University.
Now that he has had his say he has shown many people in the United States exactly how evil and stupid he really is. I think it was a good thing Columbia let him speak. They should show the same fidelity to free speech in all their decisions regarding speakers.

The First Amendment insures a free market place of ideas. While just like the economic free market the free market of ideas is not perfect it is the best system yet designed.

So let the market place do its work, let everyone have their say. Even the evil lunatics.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Happy Ahmadinejad Day

Since President Ahmadinejad is visiting the UN today I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss how we should deal with this oppressive regime of Shite fundamentalists who are determined to destroy Israel, wage jihad and apparently want a nuclear bomb.

We should do nothing except make one statement. That is right do nothing. It is our allies in Europe and the Middle east who are most threatened by a nuclear Iran. They should deal with the problem as they deem appropriate. Our involvement probably just complicates matters.

What should we say you ask?

We should make the simple statement that we will let our allies deal with the issue of a nuclear Iran. We will go along with what ever resolution they reach be it sanctions, war or nothing at all. However, if Iran or any nation ever launches a nuclear attack on one of our friends or on the United States we will launch a nuclear counterattack that will wipe that nation off the face of the Earth.
If terrorists attack us with nuclear weapons we will determine where they obtained those weapons and respond with total all out war.

This accomplishes two things. It tells are allies that if they want a safer world they had better step up to the plate and it lets our enemies know we do not fear them and we do not seek conflict but that if they seek conflict they should fear us.

This simple statement will show the true impotency of Ahmadinejad.

The Jena Six

This is an interesting vignette about race in America.

In Louisiana an african american high school student asks if he can sit under a tree that a group of white kids usually sit under. He is told OK. Curious that he felt he had to ask but they did say yes. The next day some white students hung nooses from the trees. Very very bad. Since it could not be shown that the action was directed at any one person the act did not fit the definition of any crime on the books. The students responsible where punished by the school.
Not surprisingly this has caused a great degree of racial turmoil in the school. Apparently six african american students decided to beat up one white kid. They were charged with attempted murder. Now the kid was not hospitalized so that charge was probably excessive. I understand the charges have since been downgraded to assault. This would seem more appropriate.
Quite frankly I have little sympathy for anyone who engages in a six on one fight. If you must fight do it mano a mano.

In any event this little story has naturally drawn Al Sharton and Jesse Jackson to the scene. Sort of the way flies are attracted to excrement. Whenever there is a racially tense situation these two are always available to make it worse. They are protesting for the release of of these six students. They argue that laws are applied more harshly to African Americans then whites.

First, at this point the charges against these young thugs, who by the way have committed a bias crime, does not seem to be excessive.
Second, in a broader context, if it is true that African Americans are disproportionately given harsher sentences then whites, the solution is not to let African Americans who commit crimes off the hook . It is to more harshly punish white criminals. That would make it fair to everybody. If the two headed Jackson Sharpton monster were arguing for that they would get my support.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A storm at the Jersey Shore

We have a quaint little seaside town here in NJ called Ocean Grove. It was founded by Methodists and most of the property in the town is owned by the Camp Meeting Association who gives out 99 year ground leases. Every summer they have a big camp meeting that draws Christians from all over. Years ago they used to close the place down on Sundays. You couldn't even drive your car there. The courts made them stop that in the 70's.

Once again they are at the forefront of religious freedom litigation. They denied some Gay couples the right to celebrate their NJ Civil Unions on the boardwalk pavilion. The pavilion is used for religious services and the Camp Meeting Association felt that using the pavilion for gay civil unions would be inappropriate. They are not unexpectedly being sued.

My personal feelings on the gay rights issue is as follows.

Without going into a dissertation on why, I think homosexual conduct is a sin and is harmful to the people who engage in it.

However, I do not think that they should be punished for it or discriminated against in housing or employment.

On the other hand, I also do not believe the government should be putting a stamp of approval on it by allowing civil unions or gay marriage. Nor should Churches or religious groups or anyone else for that matter be forced to show approval for it. That is a violation of the fundamental right of religion.

This case is not about gay rights it is about whether the rest of us are going to be forced to approve of homosexual conduct whether we want to or not.

Check out this video on the issue.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What about the Sermon on the Mount ?

I can hear it now. The howls of protest. Hypocrite! You claim to be Christian but based on your last post you undoubtedly do not believe in what Jesus taught about helping the poor.

Actually I do. I believe we all have an obligation to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, house the homeless and yes provide medical care for the uninsured.

The difference is I believe we have an individual responsibility to do those things. Jesus called on each of us to do this ourselves. Jesus did not say form a government and impose confiscatory taxes on people so that the poor can be cared for. He did not say force those unwilling to help the less fortunate at the point of a gun. He said we each have a personal responsibility to get down and do the things he commands. We can do these things individually and as groups voluntarily coming together to address these needs.

I fact you are not following the teachings of Jesus if you abrogate your personal responsibility to the government.

Do I follow these commandments? I do charitable works but I fail far short of the standards set by my Lord and Saviour. I admit that. This post is a good reminder to me that I need to try harder.

Of course if I had to pay less taxes it might be a little easier.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Health Insurance redux

Hillary Clinton is determined if nothing else.

Last time she promoted universal heath care their were provisions that if you attempted to buy medical services outside the system you and the doctor would both end up in the clink.

As part of her campaign to be president she is pushing a new proposal.

Here is what she is reported to have said

At this point, we don't have anything punitive that we have proposed," the presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We're providing incentives and tax credits which we think will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans."
She said she could envision a day when "you have to show proof to your employer that you're insured as a part of the job interview — like when your kid goes to school and has to show proof of vaccination," but said such details would be worked out through negotiations with Congress.

This women's agenda scares me to death. She would be right at home in the old Soviet Politburo.

What is even scarier is the number of people who want universal health coverage.

Get it through your heads people. It is not the governments job to supply your every need.

At least it shouldn't be. (warning ! this will be a frequent theme of this Blog)

Why not you may ask. There are a whole host of reasons. I will give you one reason now. The others you can read in a future post. Every time the government does something for you. you give something up. There is no free lunch. In this particular case you would be giving up two things. Substantial Cash in the form of tax dollars and you will be giving up freedom. The freedom to make your own choices regarding medical care. This is not a good deal. This is like trading in your Mercedes for a used Pinto. 1

Then what should government do? The government should;

1. Protect us from threats both foreign and Domestic. That would be Military, police, fire, anti fraud laws, environmental protection. Basically protect us from things we can not protect ourselves from but must do collectively.
2. Provide internal improvements that benefit everyone. That would be things like roads.
3. Hold public lands in trust. That would be national parks, wildlife refuges and management areas and national forests.
4. I will give them public education but only if it has to compete.

I think that's it. Let me know if I missed anything.

Take careful note; cradle to grave supply of your basic needs is not on the list. That means that is your responsibility including medical care.

Ft nt 1 for those of you too young to know a Pinto was a cheap small car manufactured in the 70's with an aluminium engine block that was prone to cracking and which went up in a fireball if you were rear ended.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I know what you are thinking. Here is another blogger who is spouting off without knowing what he is talking about . Look at his header. Son of Liberty, a reference to our revolutionary war heroes. The Sons Of Liberty where agitators in Boston who pushed us towards revolution. Not terribly original but it makes a statement. Then he goes into a biblical quote. The problem is the freedom the Sons of Liberty talked about and the freedom Jesus talked about where two different things. The Sons of Liberty where looking for political and personal freedom as expressed in the Bill of Rights. The freedom Jesus spoke of was freedom from the shackles of sin. The truth that sets us free is that he is the Son of God who was crucified for our sins.

The two do not have anything to do with one another. That is what you are thinking.

I am taking a little poetic license using the two references together but it is appropriate. It is appropriate because that is not the only truth the Christian faith revealed. It also taught us that each individual person has value and is loved by God. Judeo-Christian teachings lead directly to the philosophy's that resulted in the Bill of Rights. It is no accident that the ideas of basic human rights flourished in a Christian world as opposed to a part of the world where another religion predominated. So there is a connection.

In addition this Blog will sometimes be about politics and sometimes religion. Sometimes it will be about where the two intersect.

Finally I really like the whole Revolutionary War story, the characters,how it plays out and especially the ending . It really is one of the great stories of history. I also really like that quote because even taken out of context it is true on so many levels.

That is why the header works, at least for me.