Drunks, again.

Part of my duties at GrossePointeToday.com is compiling the public-safety reports. After three weeks of this, I’m ready to wrap myself in cotton batting, sell the bikes at a garage sale and never go outdoors again.

It’s the drunk drivers, of course. Most of these arrests are well after dark, when I’m safe in my wee bed, but the other day I came across a report for a broad-daylight arrest, on a residential street where I ride my bike. The driver blew a .23, driving with a dog in his lap. For some people, cocktail hour boils down to “any hour that I’m awake.”

This got me thinking about Alcoholics I Have Known, and the humiliations they went through en route to either sobriety or a parting of ways with your truly. Bed-wetting, seizures, property destruction, emotional devastation, and the usual run-ins with the authorities. I thought of the times I spent watching drunks make that another-round gesture at the waitress, the circling finger.

“But I don’t want another,” I might say.

“That’s OK, I’ll drink yours.” Never let a cocktail go to waste.

A year or so ago, I linked to a Washington Post profile of Elmore Leonard, the first I’ve ever read that discussed his drinking problem, conquered years ago:

One day in the early 1970s, Dutch came back from one trip to Los Angeles — where he might go through 20 drinks in a day — and started throwing up blood. It was acute gastritis. His doctor told him this was usually seen in “skid row bums.” He found himself arguing with his wife “every single night,” with him saying “vicious things, which I couldn’t believe the next day. I’d be filled with remorse.”

He moved alone into the Merrillwood Apartments, where he lived and wrote and went to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and tried to stop drinking for another three years. “I was flat broke.” The book he was working on, “Unknown Man #89,” was rejected by 105 publishers before finding a home.

“It was a very difficult time,” remembers Bill Leonard.

The couple divorced in 1977, the year he had his last drink — Scotch and Vernors ginger ale one morning while shaving.

It was funny to read this, because alcoholism was a theme in his 1970s-era work, and even a casual reader would know the details came from having walked the walk — staggered the walk, maybe — to the point that I had to put “Unknown Man #89” down from time to time and let it soak in for a while. Two characters are alkies in various stages of recovery, and the picture he paints of one of them sitting in a Cass Avenue bar, ordering glass after glass of cheap white wine, is like something by Edward Hopper. He even gets the stance of the bartender down, the way he leans back against the ice machine and props one foot up behind him, hand resting on his thigh. I think I’ve been to that bar. It’s called the Good Times. Ha ha ha.

The other detail that kills me: The drunk drinks wine. Because everyone knows that if you only drink wine, you’re not an alcoholic. I know a guy whose dad killed a fifth — yes, an entire bottle — of bourbon every night between 5-something, when he walked in the door, and 8-something, when he went to bed. His mom nearly matched him. She had to have a hysterectomy, and the doctors told her she needed to at least taper off before the surgery, so she switched to wine, usually two bottles a night. The father was a high-ranking executive at a major corporation, had a Harvard MBA. He wasn’t an alcoholic because he had an important job that he was good at.

(They had four boys. One had a drinking problem and died young in a one-car fatal, another lost his medical license for self-prescribing heavy-duty narcotics, a third was diagnosed with Korsakoff’s syndrome while still in his 30s and the fourth seems OK. The old man was told he was threatening his health with his drinking and quit in his old age, justlikethat. Well, he always did have an iron will.)

There’s another Leonard book, “Freaky Deaky,” with a character who probably does have Korsakoff’s, although it’s not stated out loud. He’s just addled from a life of drinking. I love that Scotch-and-ginger-ale detail from the writer’s life, because there’s a long passage in that book about an end-stage alky’s morning routine — his servant brings him two vodka-and-ginger-ales on a tray for his eye-opener:

Donnell would have to wait for the swollen face to show life mixed with pain, then for the man to get up on his elbow and take the drink. Donnell would then step out of the way. Soon as the man finished the drink he’d be sick starting right there if he didn’t get to the bathroom in time. Starting this wake-up service, Donnell had brought the man Bloody Marys, till he found out being sick was part of waking up. Did it one week and said, Enough of this Bloody Mary shit, cleaning up a bathroom looked like somebody’s been killing chickens in it.

Part of living with an alcoholic means cleaning up their messes — of all sorts. I never had much of a taste for it.

A note: Every so often I write about drinking in this petulant tone, and it usually kicks up a private e-mail from a reader, suggesting I’m “struggling” with drinking myself. For the record: I find myself drinking less these days than ever — hardly ever during the week, mostly only on Friday and Saturday night. Since I’m chronically sleep-deprived, one too many glasses just makes me soporific. Also, the older I get, the less I need to drink to feel it the next day. Hangovers suck. I’m lucky to down three glasses on a Saturday night, these days. So I’m cool. If I’m struggling with anything, it’s how to pass these lessons down to the next generation. Is it possible to learn about drinking without major trial and error? I wonder.

OK, then. Off to work. A bit of bloggage before I go:

Chris Matthews: Capable of learning?

I wonder if it drives Alice Waters crazy that successful cookbooks are written by people like Hungry Girl. “Cap’n Crunch Chicken” — it is to laugh. (If you click through, examine the picture and weigh in: Cheekbone implants, or are those the real thing?)

It’s not all bad news in the economy: Abercrombie & Fitch is struggling. Huzzah.

If I want to get done in time to take a sprained-knee bike ride (with wraparound ice pack), I gotta get going. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 10:07 am in Current events, Popculch |

94 responses to “Drunks, again.”

  1. cliff said on April 24, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Not for pub.

    Nancy, excellent post, but just missing a word:

    For some people, cocktail hour boils down to “any (hour?) that I’m awake.”

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  2. nancy said on April 24, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Yeah, that was intentional. But it’s the second time some editor/reader has pointed it out to me in recent weeks, so I’ll make the change. For you, Cliff.

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  3. Marci said on April 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Definitely cheek implants. Scary, insane cheek implants that I swear are STARING at me.

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  4. Dorothy said on April 24, 2009 at 10:51 am

    No one is born with cheeks like that. I think she had them put in so she can only be CALLED Hungry Girl – not LOOK like a Hungry Girl.

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  5. cliff said on April 24, 2009 at 11:00 am

    On further review, I see what you were up to in that sentence, but my eye tripped over it. Sorry — once a pain-in-the-arse editor, always an etc. etc.

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  6. Rana said on April 24, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Alice Waters is a twit – an arrogant one. She’s one of those people I’d like to shake because she has the expertise and the platform to be a really great advocate for healthier foods, and she spoils it by being clueless and rigid. I’ll take Michael Pollan or Barbara Kingsolver any day instead.

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  7. nancy said on April 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I always wonder what 23rd-century archaeologists will think when they open our graves and find skeletons lying there with little bags and bits of plastic rattling around in skulls and ribcages. I think they’ll call it “Madonna sign.”

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  8. Jen said on April 24, 2009 at 11:23 am

    DEFINITELY cheek implants. She scares me.

    I have a couple of friends/acquaintances from college who scare me with their drinking. They both live in Chicago now, were both sort of sheltered when they were younger, and both went WILD in college/young adulthood. I’ve watched them nurse terrible hangovers, I’ve seen them black out at parties and throw up spectacularly. I hate throwing up and I don’t like feeling ill. Therefore, I never drink enough to do that.

    It’s not that I never drink alcohol – my husband and I love to split a bottle of wine on a weekend night, and we’ve been known to drink quite a bit when his dad is playing bartender (he makes ’em strong). But both of us have alcoholism lurking in our family backgrounds, so we figure we’d better be a bit cautious.

    Besides, it’s WAY too expensive to drink so much. I’d rather spend my money on better things than lots of liquor. What can I say? I’m cheap!

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  9. Dorothy said on April 24, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Off topic, but did you see this picture of the new and improved Susan Boyle?


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  10. Sue said on April 24, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Dorothy, I took a few minutes to read the article. I felt like I was reading Tiger Beat.
    Also off-topic: a few months ago a local man was killed while trying to protect two female friends from being harassed. The man’s estate has received a bill from his apartment management company. Two months rent is due plus late fees. Ok, that’s possibly reasonable. However, the $600 penalty for breaking his lease is kind of strange. The reason the company gave is that he did not provide 30 days’ notice.

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  11. alice said on April 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Well, this alice is cheezed that Ms. Cheek Implants made the front page of the Post (below the fold, but still). I guess they had to save room in the Style section for the upcoming spreads of how Washingtonians interpret current fashion trends. Thanks Ms. Ginivan, I’m so excited about that one. Nothing says style like Washington, DC.

    I ate those Capt. Crunch chicken fingers at the short-lived Planet Hollywood, they were actually quite good.

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  12. Linda said on April 24, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Sorry, Rana, but Kingsolver strikes me as a twit, too. Her crusade for a year of local food (she kept her coffee, but told her daughter she couldn’t have fresh fruit in the winter), was the epitmome of twit. She romanticizes the local food realities of the past (they often resulted in deficiency diseases), and romanticizes why farmers are reluctant to grow heirlooms (not because the big bad corporations forbid them, but because they are less disease resistant and an overall crap shoot). She also looks down the nose at the awful rabble who have the nerve to not cook from scratch, even though the rabble don’t usually have a helpful spouse and helpful kids. She makes some good points, but mostly loses me.

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  13. beb said on April 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Nancy at 7: The standard archaeologist response to crap they don’t understand is to call it “religious relics.”

    At work I have an old version of Mozilla, crashes frequently, such as trying to opening the link to the article about Chris Matthews. My employer has the computer locked down so I can’t upgrade. I’m not sure I want to upgrade to firefox 3.0 since it seems an ever increasing resource hog, but I do like that it spell checks on the fry anything you type into a box. so I wouldn’t have to come back after looking up archaeologist and fix it.

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  14. coozledad said on April 24, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I’m going to have to quit drinking altogether, mostly because of the genetic timebombs coming due any day now. Diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypothyroidism, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers, they’re all in my immediate family’s history.
    My problem is I periodically crave a buzz, which I believe is the standard definition of dipsomania. Maybe I ought to start chewing Qat.
    I thought I would make it to at least 65 before I had to join the ranks of the sleepytime tea set.

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  15. adrianne said on April 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Ah, the wine dodge – my grandfather, raging alky, switched to drinking white wine out of Pepsi bottles in his old age. Didn’t help. He died from a disrupted liver at the ripe old age of 64, a year after retirement.

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  16. Rana said on April 24, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Linda, I could see that. What distinguishes her from Waters for me, though, is that she’s willing to admit that it was hard, and that some of what she was attempting was misinformed or even a bit silly. She’s also pretty clear that this was her own personal experiment, and that if people would like to emulate her, great, but it’s not for everyone.

    When I think of Waters, on the other hand, I think about her lecturing people in the northern Midwest and New England about only eating locally grown vegetables (helloooo winter turnips!), or not understanding why schools that rely heavily on government-supplied surplus foodstuffs might find it challenging to serve the kind of food that she espouses. She very much exists in a little bubble of privilege, and is apparently incapable of understanding that not everyone has the resources or local food system she has. (That never stops her from haranguing people, somehow.)

    It’s not to say that Kingsolver doesn’t have her own flavor of privilege, but at least she’s a bit more aware that her situation is not typical. Plus, she’s funny. The bit about the sexually dysfunctional turkeys is hilarious!

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  17. Jolene said on April 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Cooz: Most of us have, at least, a subset of that list of illnesses in our families. They are what’s left to die of after you get past infectious disease, car accidents, and war.

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  18. Linda said on April 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Rana,you’re right. At least she doesn’t think that the universe is contained in Marin County.

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  19. ROgirl said on April 24, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Cap’n Crunch chicken fingers? Apologies to those who like them, but I’d rather get drunk.

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  20. Cathy D. said on April 24, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I just love the word ‘soporific.’

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  21. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 24, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Beb, Nancy, the word is “ceremonial.” Religious is a semantically loaded term, so anthros and archaes (not to be confused with, but occasionally overlapping with alkies) don’t say religious.

    You could make the same case with implants of all sorts — you could call them “sexual,” and not be all wrong, but i think “ceremonial” really would explain their cultural function more thoroughly.

    But i’m feeling soporific right now, and not ceremonially, either.

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  22. Sue said on April 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    MMJeff, which groups consider “religious” a semantically loaded term? I thought that being academics and scientists, archaeologists and anthropologists wouldn’t think it was a big deal either way, and the use of a word like “ceremonial” was a concession to a belief among the general (religious) population that the religions of old and ancient cultures were not legitimate.
    Damn those ancient Egyptians. I blame them directly for my belief problems with a religious-based afterlife. A detailed and highly-structured theocracy lasting thousands of years, whose main focus was preparing for an expected afterlife that didn’t happen because they were a bunch of heathens worshiping the sun and/or various cobbled-together animals. Oops, got it wrong folks – where are you today? Gone, except for your physical remains which are dug up by archaeologists who find your interest in the afterlife odd and fascinating, but never legitimate. So you see my confusion.

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  23. MichaelG said on April 24, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I agree about Ms. Waters. Does she live in Marin? Her joint is in Berkeley which is in Alameda county. I’ve lived in both and, some annoying people aside, there are lots worse places to live than Marin County.

    Kingsolver is just as big a twit. The hundred mile thing is simply not possible for other than a few dedicated souls. How many people live in NYC? How many people could the produce of a hundred mile radius support? What about Key West? Fargo in Feb? Of course people ate locally in years past. Trucks, railroads and refrigeration changed all that.

    That said, there certainly is merit in trying to eat local stuff. It’s fresher, often better and supports the local, usually small business economy. But let’s not make a fetish of it. Maybe that’s what Kingsolver really means. Here in Northern California I could, for most of the year, live on stuff produced within a hundred to a hundred twenty five miles. That includes wine, brandy and vodka. In fact I do get a significant percentage of my food from local sources. Not because I’m such a great guy but simply because I live in a place where locally produced foodstuffs are fresh, cheap, plentiful, high quality and readily available.

    Easy on us 64 year old and up folks. I’m neither an alky nor demented yet. At least I don’t think so. I could ask my daughter but maybe she’d be too polite to be honest.

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  24. LA Mary said on April 24, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    There were a lot of farms within 100 miles of NYC not that long ago. NJ is the Garden State. Long Island was mostly farms on the north shore until they became wineries twenty odd years ago.
    I grew up about fifteen miles from NYC and we had apple and peach orchards in our town. Over the northern border of NJ in NY, on the western side of the Hudson, there were many farms, growing apples, celery, onions, all the cool weather things like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower. We used to actually have an apple barrel in our basement for winter cooking apples. We bought potatoes by the 100 pound sack, onions the same.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    To get semi-technical, ceremonial is preferred in most cases when there is more than “religious” purpose to the site, structure, artifact, ornament, or modification to the earth, building, or body. No bias on religion then or now in my experience (on both sides of that map, archae and theo), just a hesitation to specify a precise purpose in the absence of specific data.

    The Newark Earthworks where i do tours is a perfect example — they are astronomical alignments, enclosures for trade and probably partner/spouse exchange, and locations where religious activities took place. As our Native American consultants and visitors point out, Indians don’t tend to separate religious and scientific and social the way we Anglos do.

    A monstrance is a religious artifact out of a Catholic sanctuary, which is itself a space also reserved and used for almost entirely religious purposes, while Nancy’s bud Madge and others may wear a crucifix necklace as a ceremonial gesture with little or no specific religious intent behind the wearing.

    But the usual joke line is that “ceremonial” is the archaeologist’s term for “idunno,” a place or object that has no sign of use for any practical purpose, such as giant obsidian blades that have zero edge wear and couldn’t be used to cut more than air without breaking. A vivid imagination can say “they were made to cut smoke rising from a smudge pit as part of a sacred ritual,” but you’re smarter to suggest it was beautiful and involved a major commitment of resources and skill, but we do not know what purpose it was put to, so we call it a “ceremonial object.”

    Which is where i realize that many breast implants or liposuction treatments have less to do with actual desireability and ultimately sexual behavior, and more to do with ideas of such that even those who undergo the procedures can’t quite explain, so “ceremonial” is as good a tag as any for what they are.

    “Medical,” they ain’t.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 24, 2009 at 6:22 pm

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  27. MichaelG said on April 24, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Yeah, I know, Mary, but what I was wondering was whether those farms had the capacity to feed the umpty zillion people who live in New York.

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  28. Rana said on April 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Small farms can be surprisingly productive, MichaelG. True, there are some areas where the climate and ecology can’t support a large population’s food demands, but I’d argue that they aren’t suited towards a large population in the first place (Las Vegas and Phoenix, I’m looking at you!).

    If you think about the fact that most of our big ag is not going for table-top food production, but rather to the production of oils and corn syrup and cheap hamburger, there’s a lot of land surrounding most major cities that could be put to local food production.

    Yes, megacities like New York would struggle, but for cities like Indianapolis, Portland, Columbus, etc., it’s quite possible. Even if people switched to having just 50% of their food coming from local sources, that would make a significant difference in terms of things like fuel costs and carbon footprints, and it would boost the local economy as well.

    (Think of all those empty, going-to-seed lots that are discussed in Sweet Juniper – imagine them as truck farms instead.)

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  29. LA Mary said on April 24, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I think maybe they did not that long ago. A hundred miles from NYC takes you across NJ to Pennsylvania, into upstate NY, Connecticut and most of the way across Long Island. No cattle ranches around there, but there are chicken farms and lots of dairies. No wheat fields, but sweet corn, vegetables and fruit are abundant. It’s hard to believe, I know, but when I was a kid we were taught that all the tomatoes used in Campbell’s soup came from NJ.

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  30. coozledad said on April 24, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Rana: There are some good articles on pre-industrial Chinese farming in the past four issues of Small Farmer’s Journal. Making land productive after the excesses of large scale farming is going to be a labor-intensive project involving lots and lots of excreta, human and animal.
    But if there’s one thing there’s always plenty of…

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  31. beb said on April 24, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    IS Chris Matthews capable of learning? That he changed the name of his book following his appearance of The Daily Show only shows a certain low-cunning but no real intelligence since he hasn’t rewritten the book to remove the depressing narrative that Jon Stewart complained about.

    Jeff (TMMO) thanks for reminding me that the word archaeologists use is ‘ceremonial’ not ‘religious.’ Religion is full of ceremonies, which is how I got the words confused. And too often ‘ceremonial’ is used instead of “I don’t know.”

    I’ve got a question for the group. I wanted to turn in some printer cartridges for the $3 discounts only to find that the rules have been changed. Instead of just taking $3 off the top of the current purchase, they now only apply the money to a store “Rewards card.” I’m sick of my wallet being filled with rewards cards so I refused to turn in the spent cartridges. But I hate to just throw them into the dump. Does anyone know of a Detroit area charity that takes in old ink and toner cartridges? So place I can dump these cartridges without having to get a rewards card to do it?

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  32. Linda said on April 24, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Love the word “fetish” in regards to locavorism. As an educational exercise, it can be a good thing. But let’s not romanticize the good old days, when some midwesterners, who lacked access to seafood, suffered thyroid disease before iodine was put in salt, and when many people simply didn’t eat a fruit or vegetable all winter. How healthy was that?

    Some things to try might be these: stop subsidizing the cost of food transportation with tax breaks, and the cost of water and irrigation. Let the market forces REALLY come to bear in that local growers will not have their natural advantages of closeness taken away, and places blessed by water will not have that advantage evened out by subsidies. And, as Rana suggested, try to buy stuff in season that is a little closer at least half the time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

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  33. MichaelG said on April 24, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    When I used the term “fetish” I was thinking of Linda’s reporting that Barbara Kingsolver refused to let her kid(s) eat fruit in the winter months on the grounds that the produce came from more than 100 miles away. For my money that’s pushing it. I wasn’t referring to local purchasing in general.

    Locavorism. A charming word that makes a worthwhile practice sound like a disease. I’m all for it in principle and I even practice it to a very great extent. I’m not going to give up Indonesian coffee, Scotch whiskey or English gin, though as I sit here I’m enjoying a very nice glass of Zinfandel that was vinted, according to Google Maps, a grand total of 17.9 miles from where I live. I probably consume more local stuff than most nn.c denizens. The point was that it is easy and delicious for me. It’s not thus for everyone and nobody should look down on folks who buy food from farther afield. That’s reality, that’s commerce.

    Linda touched on something else. I don’t know where she lives, but here in California there is a whole byzantine system of water rights and allocations and fees for agriculture that outrageously favors corporate farmers over anybody else. We have a huge, simmering basic water problem here in the Desert State that has been shoved aside, avoided, shirked and run from by the State Legislature for decades. The whole thing is going to come home to roost in the not too distant future and it isn’t going to be pretty.

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  34. Rana said on April 25, 2009 at 12:18 am

    MichaelG’s right about the whole water problem out West – they over-estimated the amount available back when they drew up the Colorado River Compact in the first place, and it’s only gotten worse since then, with the expanding populations in SoCal, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado, and the declining water resources due to drought and climate change. And what does a lot of that water go to? Things like rice and lettuce and alfalfa, which should be grown where water is readily available, and not shipped in from out of state. It’s one of the few reasons I’m glad I no longer live in the area.

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  35. Dexter said on April 25, 2009 at 12:40 am

    Coozledad (POST 14) :
    If you want to read a hilarious , informative account of qat use, read
    “Arabia Through the Looking Glass” Collins 1979 US: 1979 as “Arabia A Journey Through the Labyrinth.”
    It was written by a fave author, Jonathan Raban.

    I loved Nelson Algren’s books because he really understood how booze could dull the sharp edge of pain. I would read a mention of Old Forrester Bonded Bourbon in his book , then run to the liquor store for a quart of the stuff and drink shots as I read chapter after chapter.
    I quit the sauce sixteen years ago and a party store sells beer 300 yards from my porch…and tomorrow’s another day. I remember my first time through AA founder Bill Wilson’s book, “Pass It On.” No two people are as different as Bill W and me, but I read that book and said to myself that we were just alike.

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  36. basset said on April 25, 2009 at 12:48 am

    Scotch and Vernor’s. That’s a… telling detail right there.

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  37. Mosef said on April 25, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Off the topic of the day, but am interested in your opinion, Nancy, of the Obama photoshopped cover for the Washingtonian. A no-no since Obama is ultimately a hard-news subject? Okay if just correcting exposure? What about the change of color for the bathing suit? Beyond the pale? Inquiring minds want to know!

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  38. Dexter said on April 25, 2009 at 1:15 am

    basset: I watched a George C. Scott movie out in Pasadena in 1974, “The New Centurions”, a cop film—in it both hookers and cops alike drank scotch & milk.
    So I tried it . It was great!
    Vernor’s is another story altogether. When I stopped the booze, I became a sort-of Vernor’s junkie, and I still love that stuff, but now just a bottle every now and again…a few times, usually summer. It’s still great.
    Scotch is best in a tumbler with big rocks of ice, and bourbon is best neat, beer chaser, but no depth charging, please!
    I remember being in a bar and a man asked for two raw eggs cracked in a bowl…I though he was going to dump them into his beer glass, but no…he just drank them straight down…not good, not too good….
    Anybody remember the famous “5 cent boneless chicken dinner” at Rudy’s bar in Manhattan (a dive)? You guessed it…a boiled egg!!

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  39. moe99 said on April 25, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Speaking of fertilizer, has anyone else read “The Alchemy of Air?” It’s by Thomas Hager. It tells of how nitrogen was separated from the air courtesy of the dedication of a German Jewish chemist at the beginning of the 20th century and how that act, 1) saved the world from starvation and 2) allowed the creation of even bigger bombs. It is a fascinating and ultimately tragic story for the inventor and his marketer, a Christian industrialist.
    You find the blurb from Amazon here:


    I still think about this, more than a month after reading it. And I don’t often do that with non fiction books.

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  40. nancy said on April 25, 2009 at 7:34 am

    One of the two things you need to make a rust belt? WATER. Welcome to the new oil, bitches.

    Haven’t seen the Obama cover yet. Opinion TK.

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  41. Linda said on April 25, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I moved back to my native Great Lakes many years ago, where water and fresh fruits and veggies are a given. When I lived in Tennessee, however, I read that west Tennesseans bought about 95% of their fruits and vegetables from over 200 miles away, since Ark, Tn, and Ms. used lots of their cropland for corn, cotton and tobacco.

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  42. coozledad said on April 25, 2009 at 8:44 am

    OT, but this is just eating my guts. Anyone who supported the torture regime, Democrat or Republican, needs to be shitcanned immediately, then tried and sentenced to road work.Preferably after being frogmarched through a hail of spittle.
    We need to claw ourselves back to the rule of law.

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  43. basset said on April 25, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Vernor’s used to be hard to get here in Nashville till GM built the Saturn plant and lots of Michigan imports moved in. The local hockey team still draws their best home crowds against the Red Wings.

    Now, if Stroh’s would just start up again… the real stuff, from the brewery on 75 just as you come into downtown Detroit. no substitute for that Detroit River water, full of iron ore and dead bodies.

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  44. whitebeard said on April 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Speaking of drinking and drunks, there is a scandal brewing about the new publisher, 40, of The Hartford Courant, who is also the general manager of WTIC-TV Fox 61 in Hartford, who is married, having a role in the story of the married woman who was arrested twice for DUI in the same night in a nearby town at http://www.courant.com/community/news/fv/hc-dui-arrest-folo-0424.artapr25,0,1947920.story
    And there is the police photo of the woman, 29, in question. who is the manager of marketing and public relations for Fox 61


    and there are the police reports, one for each arrest


    The original story made the rounds in the world press, including Russia

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  45. beb said on April 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Actually Detroit water is among the best tasting in the country. The AWWA has annual water tasting contests and Detroit scores well. And specifically the iron level, which I test monthly as part of my job, is not especially high. Stroh’s just brewed a good beer. Just as Vernor’s, another Detroit original, brewed a better ginger ale. When basset called scotch and vernors a telling detail I wonder if that meant that Leonard was a real alkie or that he was a DETROIT alki?

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  46. MichaelG said on April 25, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Anybody drink beer and tomato juice? “TomatoBeer”. It’s not bad. Only place I’ve ever really seen it is L.A.

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  47. brian stouder said on April 25, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Whitebeard, two of your links are haywire, but you piqued my curiousity, so I went looking for the picture of the sweet young drunk, and came up with this random (and overly vituperative, I think) blog and photo of Elsa C. Veisor (there’s gotta be a joke or pun hiding in that name, too)


    She looks like the Octomom’s prettier sister

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  48. LA Mary said on April 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Water is a huge issue throughout the west. I remember a NYT Magazine cover story on water in the west back in the seventies written by Grace Licthenstein. Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and California are all tied up with byzantine agreements, some going back to the 1700s.
    MichaelG…that’s Red Beer, and I know I learned about it in Denver in the seventies. It’s great.

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  49. Dexter said on April 25, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    sure…tomato beer is OK and all…but it’s just a simple hangover cure, a poor man’s Bloody Mary. The best hangover cure I loved so much was a jigger of vodka poured over ice, salted and peppered and scantly doused with celery salt, glass then filled with tomato juice and the concoction stirred with two thin celery stalks.
    Loved seeing that Stroh’s brewery on I-75…I think I cried when it went down.
    The Bernhard Stroh family that founded the brewery abandoned the planned destination choice, Chicago, and settled near the current Greektown nearly 150 years ago. My Dad and Grandpa always told me that Stroh, Indiana, on Big Turkey Lake, was founded by relatives of Bernard Stroh, also, but I have never been able to find documentation to that effect.

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  50. basset said on April 25, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    >>basset called scotch and vernors a telling detail I wonder if that meant that Leonard was a real alkie or that he was a DETROIT alki?

    neither, I was just looking for a polite way to say “that sounds like it’d taste awful.”

    and I do miss Stroh’s, and Golden Goebel’s from the brewery next door, think Stroh’s bought them out eventually.

    red beer… that was popular in Kansas when we lived out there, mainly in the (real) cowboy bars. think it was half & half beer and tomato juice. never have liked tomato juice, we were forced to drink it in elementary school. out of glass half-pint bottles, that’s how long ago it was.

    “chelada” has started showing up in the convenience stores in Tennessee, or maybe I’ve just noticed it the last few months. Bud or Bud Light with tomato and lime and the label’s in Spanish.

    and the best hangover remedy I know is two aspirin and a big glass of water just before you go to bed. something to do with alcohol and dehydration, I think.

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  51. Deborah said on April 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I went to college in Nebraska. I remember the local farmers drinking beer with tomato juice. Others put salt in their beer. I never tried either of those concoctions.

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  52. whitebeard said on April 25, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    brian stouder, the links to that double DUI story have been vanishing faster than newspaper jobs this weekend. Here is a new non-Tribune link that the “mysterious they” should not be able to erase
    this link covers the angle that her boss, also the new publisher of the Hartford newspaper was in her car when she was first arrested, came back to the police station after he was called and brought her back to her car so she could drive off drunk at speeds in excess of 70 mph and get arrested the second time for drunken driving.

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  53. Gasman said on April 25, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    That douchebag Sean Hannity agreed to be waterboarded for charity. Said he’d do it for the families of servicemen and women. Olbermann took him up on it and said he’d pledge $1,000 for every second that Hannity lasts. How much you want to bet that Hannity doesn’t follow through.

    Limbaugh and the bloviators at FauxNews are effectively the only voices still arguing that waterboarding is not torture. It has been illegal in the U.S. for at least 111 years. That is a matter of settled law. We’ve court martialed our own troops for doing it, in WWII we tried a Japanese soldier as a war criminal for doing it, we even jailed a Texas sheriff and two deputies in the 1980s for doing it. It is torture and it damn well is illegal.

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  54. moe99 said on April 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Apparently the type of waterboarding we used was learned from the Khmer Rouge.

    And now US Federal Judge Jay Bybee has told the Washington Post anonymously through anonymous friends that he’s rather sorry about the memos. Sorry my ass. He did it to be a good soldier and get his lifetime sinecure on the federal bench. If he’s really sorry, he should resign for the shame he has brought upon the judiciary and if he doesn’t, he should be impeached.

    Frakkin’ a**hole.

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  55. Gasman said on April 25, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I think with Leahy, Nadler, the NYT, and others calling for his resignation, it has to dawning on Bybee that impeachment is not just possible, I’d say it’s probable. Look at all of the criticism Bybee is getting and the evidence that has emerged so far is just the tip of the wedge. Now that the memos are out, other insiders who voiced opposition are also free, like Zelikow, to talk. As more dirt is uncovered, the greater the call for either Bybee’s resignation or impeachment is likely to be.

    As loath as Obama and Holder appear to be at going after anyone from the previous administration (for various reasons that I can appreciate, but not agree with), I think enough evidence will emerge to make it impossible for them not to investigate, and where warranted, prosecute Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Rice, Addington, Libby, Yoo, Wolfowitz, and Bybee. It has become abundantly clear that these folks were not just arrogant, sanctimonious asshats, they conspired to commit – and then did commit – war crimes. They then conspired to cover up their misdeeds. No way to legally parse that.

    Zelikow’s memo hints at Rice’s displeasure with the torture program. Will she be willing to go to prison for Bush or Cheney or might she end up giving them up? She always parsed her lies very, very closely. She doesn’t strike me as a Bush/Cheney loyalist to the end. Remember, she’s a trained musician: it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see her sing.

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  56. jeff borden said on April 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    My two cents worth on the way we should deal with the creeps who turned American exceptionalism into American torturism.

    Right now, the prosecution of these bastards in any way, shape or form will be seen as politically-motivated unless a reasonable number of Republicans are willing to get on board. That seems highly unlikely. To proceed will complicate the already insanely difficult tasks President Obama confronts, tasks that are much more pressing in nature and of greater interest to a majority of Americans. And it will revive the far right, which despite all the bluster from the usual suspects, is more emaciated and weak than in many, many years. Right now, it is the political philosophy of the stupid.

    I’d prefer to see a national commission formed in two years or so, when we are further down the road addressing our many woes. Let there be a tribunal of judges whose integrity and honesty are unimpeachable leading the way.

    This risks having some of the major architects, notably Five Deferments Dick Cheney, pass away before they are called to account. And, as someone who would truly like to see Cheney humiliated and jailed in a rat hole for the rest of his sniveling life, that is a major concession. But this gives the Obama Administration a few years to work toward its goals before the nation begins what ought to be an intense period of introspection and assessment about what and who we are as a country.

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  57. moe99 said on April 26, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Jeff B:

    Nixon was pardoned by Ford because he didn’t think the American people should have to go through that. That led to Iran Contra where everyone was let off or pardoned by HW. Same rationale. That led to the present day situation. As you can perhaps see, this is a steadily escalating problem, one that will continue to escalate until the notion of accountability comes into play. And people, even those in high office, are made aware that actions have CONSEQUENCES. I’m sorry, but I think that we can do both. We fought a world war on two fronts and finished it in far less time than we’ve been in Iraq. We can do this too. Or perhaps you’ve lost your belief in our abilities?

    ps: thought of one more example. The USSCT’s decision in Bush v. Gore, where they cut the election recount off early because they didn’t think it would be good for the country. I’m rather tired of that rationale. It hasn’t worked yet.

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  58. jeff borden said on April 26, 2009 at 6:20 pm


    Maybe I was not clear. I do believe the people who are behind the torture programs should most definitely be investigated and, if possible, tried, convicted and sentenced. My argument is that it might be all right to wait a couple of years.

    Your points are all excellent. Who knows what might have happened if Gerald Ford had not pardoned Tricky Dick? Or if the Iran-contra episode had resulted in charges? (It’s always interesting to see that particular chapter of Reagan’s political career ignored by those who want him to be America’s greatest president.) Perhaps, as you state, there would have been greater attention paid to the rule of law by the thugs of the W. administration.

    Still, explain to me how it would be so terrible to wait a couple of years before we begin investigating the waterboarding crowd. There’s no statute of limitations issues, are there?

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  59. Jolene said on April 26, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    It just seems odd, Jeff, to say, “We’re going to investigate this, but not now.” I can’t imagine what justification would be offered for that approach. “We’re too busy now” doesn’t really seem to cut it.

    Kathleen Parker, generally something of a conservative, has a good op-ed in today’s WaPo, the gist of which is, “Either we are a rule-of-law nation or we are not.”

    That’s pretty much where I am, but I hate being there. As I said a few days ago, I am pissed that, even after getting rid of GWB, we are left w/ this mess to clean up. Like Obama, I want to move forward, and I can hardly bear the thought of listening to all the partisan yammering that will occur if there are public hearings or trials.

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  60. Gasman said on April 26, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I’ll be damned. Kathleen Parker and I agree on something. That’s twice already in this new century. I’m waiting for the flying pigs.

    If we do not prosecute crimes when evidence exists, then our laws are meaningless. As it stands, the Nixon/Reagan/Cheney assertion that the president and/or the vice president is exempt from all laws is effectively how our government now operates. (Funny, but I don’t hear any Republicans agreeing that Obama should not have to obey the law.) As it stands, we do not have a constitutionally defined president, we have a dictator. I fear that the next president to abuse his/her authority – regardless of party – will go even further than Bush/Cheney. I would be as militant against any Democratic president that exceeded Constitutionally defined authority.

    I am sick and tired of hearing “we should look forward, not backward.” That is facile and on its face insulting. What other crimes shall that mantra also apply? Tell that to the victims of rape or the survivors of those who’ve been murdered. The Republicans who say that today sure as hell were not saying so in 1997 with Clinton. The Democrats that say it today are just spineless and so risk averse that they are fearful of doing their duty.

    There is no question that a bunch of top level Republicans broke the law. By my count there is a minimum of three felonies that have been committed: 1) conspiring to commit torture 2) torture 3) conspiring to cover up the torture. They should be treated just like any other criminals. You avoid the predictable Republican charges of “political vendetta” by assembling a mountain of evidence that is so compelling as to convince all but the latter day Earl Landgrebes among us. As to the Landgrebes, you isolate them by painting them as the pro-criminal thug worshippers that they are. Anybody who supports torture or torturers should be ostracized, criticized, and mocked as the anti-social miscreants they are.

    This is more important than the economy, than healthcare, or both wars. This is the very foundation of our democracy. If our leaders are not bound by our laws, the Constitution is meaningless, null and void. If we are not a country of laws, what protects us? What becomes of our rights? Who will protect them?

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  61. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 26, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Red Key Punch, offered in Indianapolis at the College Inn as i (dimly) recall. V8 and beer; i tried it with Rolling Rock. Nothing to write home about.

    I believe each of you personally on this blog mean what you say, but politically, i fear there is a great deal of insincerity about coercive interrogation techniques.

    Boot camp, fundamentally, is about breaking a person. You break down the individual assertion of autonomy, and build up a member of a fighting unit. I absolutely accept that this is unacceptable to persons who are pacifist in orientation, but the fact is that this is what basic training is designed to do. Break you, and rebuild you in a different format.

    Much of what folks are saying does carry the implication that boot camp is morally wrong. That takes you to the verge of pacifism — if this is your approach, then i respect your stance: quite frankly, the burden of proof for any of us Christians who are not pacifist is pretty high, and most of us on that side offer a fragmented and imperfect explanation for our failings. But short of that, you are obligated to accept a certain measure of coercion and direction, which puts boot camp and interrogation on much the same page.

    Broadly speaking, most of the approaches i read in the Bush administration memos is less morally appalling torture than it is stupid coercion, which gets you ginned-up data that has to be checked out and won’t check, for the most part. Time to give it up and let it go (and listen to the FBI). But the passion to declare these episodes as equivalent to Nazi tactics and grounds for trials and convictions is pure partisan pap, which has no fiber or vitamin content, and will starve the body politic more than the Bush era approach will poison our national metabolism.

    It didn’t work, we’ve stopped using it, and we’re still trying to figure out how to effectively interview people who grimly want us to all die and let them rule. It’s a hard question. Christ seems to say, in sum, let the heathens rage, they will consume themselves over time in their own evil passions, and the innocent who die are acceptable sacrifices before the Lord. This is a hard teaching, and one i am not ready to accept without qualification.

    As always, i may be wrong.

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  62. beb said on April 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Jeff, I never was, but I don’t believe basic training involves locking someone in a coffin size box with a crawling insect. Nor do I believe that basic training involving pouring water down a recruit’s throat six times a day for a month. Or slamming their head against a wall, or any of the many things done to the prisoners at Gitmo. Stories of basic training that I’ve heard are appalling but they still don’t compare to what was done to the prisoners.

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  63. moe99 said on April 26, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Here’s the federal law on the subject:


    TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113C > § 2340
    Prev | Next
    § 2340. Definitions

    As used in this chapter-
    (1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from-
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
    (3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.


    The operative phrase is “acting under color of law”
    Care to admit error, Jeff tmmo?

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  64. brian stouder said on April 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    But the passion to declare these episodes as equivalent to Nazi tactics and grounds for trials and convictions is pure partisan pap

    Jeff, I cannot take the pristine and holier-than-thou attitude that Keith Olbermann (for one) enunciates, and I also cannot agree with your dismissive attitude (ala Peggy Noonan), either.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a f&*#king bastard, and – although I might question the wisdom of 183 waterboardings in a month, that particular guy desrves everything and anything he got.

    In my flawed opinion, the big problem with the Bush abomination, err, administration, was that the suits and ties tried to enunciate a formal policy (using totured logic) that would permit this sort of treatment in a much more general way.

    If we catch a random jihadist idiot on some God-foresaken Afghani mountain range, that guy shouldn’t automatically get tortured.

    On the other hand, if a Spec-Ops unit (one of Seymour Hersh’s so-called “death squads”) traps (say) Ayman al-Zawahiri and his retinue – then – any of the sons of bitches that aren’t killed along with Zawahiri* should be subject to an intense effort to learn whatever they know about any plans/capabilities/whereabouts of Sammy bin Laden; that “intense effort” to include any and all forms of torture that might produce quick answers.

    It seems to me it should take specific (case by case) presidential approval, and NOT a free-standing, all-purpose, automatic pilot policy approval.

    *the assumption is that bin Laden and Zawahiri would kill themselves, or have one of their immediate subordinates kill them. A further assumption is that a fellow who surrenders in the first place must at least fear death, and I would support all means of learning what plans they have, and what people they work with

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  65. jcburns said on April 26, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Brian—where we become great as a country is when we can look at a guy like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and say “he’s a f&*#king bastard, and he deserves NOT anything and everything he got, but our absolutely best and most precise treatment under the rule of law. Because it is in that moment that we are what we believe in and he is not. And the world sees that. And the world..not just you or I, makes a judgement. Or a dozen. or a million separate judgements. And some of those judgements affect, maybe just in a small way, how we live together on the planet. And that might just keep another terrorist from striking a country that is what it says it is…maybe he’ll strike an organization or entity that says one thing and does another, or offers platitudes and enriches the powerful at the cost of the downtrodden.”

    or maybe not…but we’ve still done the right thing at the end of the day.

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  66. coozledad said on April 26, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Sorry Jeff. That’s a particularly sad instance of sick fuck apologia. You guys will be waterboarding everybody if you manage to fearmonger your way to another electoral victory. Jaywalking, potsmoking, adultery, being a member of a non rightwing arsecrawling church. You name it, will all be fair grounds for shit we executed the Japanese for. You know you want it. What went wrong with you?
    This isn’t an American question. It’s a theoretical question to root out the dumbasses in freshman Poli Sci.
    America hates sick torture fucks. We tend to hang them in moments of crisis. I suspect we’ll show restraint this time, and place the offenders under house arrest. Too bad we couldn’t get old McVeigh in time.

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  67. brian stouder said on April 26, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    JC – I get that; I do.

    I guess my point is – we all know that we have weapons-carrying strike aircraft and unmanned drones circling the skies in Pakistan and Afghanistan….and the Horn of Africa and elsewhere…and they can and frequently do strike particular buildings in particular villages, or even specific vehicles speeding down the roads.

    And when we do that, one always realizes that we are certainly risking badly injuring, crippling, and/or killing human beings that have absolutely nothing to do with the war we’re in; women and children and babies and grandpas and grandmas.

    With that much already accepted, catching a horrible bastard like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and then torturing him for anything that he knows is something that I would accept, and I suspect “the world” would, too.

    the right thing at the end of the day. I buy. Note that what I am (somewhat incoherently!) trying to elucidate is the difference between specifically presidentially authorized action against specific enemies of the United States on the one hand, and willy-nilly (and widepread) torture that is “justified” by ridiculous policy papers ginned up by suits and ties at the Pentagon and the DoJ

    As for hoping to ever affect the motives of terrorists – in my opinion that is a fool’s errand. What caused the Colmbine shooters to massacre their classmates, or McVeigh to destroy the OKC Federal building? A nihilist doesn’t really need anything other than a target

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  68. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Jeff (tmmo)
    Since when did we dispense with the courts? Our nation was founded on fundamental principles of law. Are you prepared to say that we are capable of discerning who is and is not worthy of torture? Can we be so sure that we are capable of meting out true justice without the process of the law and the mechanisms of the courts to guide us, and to temper our base passions? What admissions are we making when we succumb to such barbarism? If we descend to such acts, how do we differ from our enemies?

    Torture – and the equivocation in support of it – is wrong and it is unfit for anyone who would call themselves a disciple of Jesus Christ. Whom would Christ torture?

    The conduct of those involved in this squalid affair is morally repugnant and contradicts everything that we have said that we stood for for our prior 220+ years. Either we now must openly repudiate our former concepts of justice and honor, or we must reclaim them by putting criminals on trial.

    These offenses are not minor. We executed a Japanese soldier in WWII for this same crime. The nature of the crime has not changed since then, just our willingness to debase ourselves enough to condone it.

    There needs to be investigations and where warranted, criminal prosecutions by all individuals implicated, whatever their former station. To ignore criminal behavior is to condone it and to invite others to commit the same crimes. This is not political payback or retribution, this is our system of justice as it was meant to function.

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  69. moe99 said on April 27, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Brian, You ever see A Man for All Seasons? There’s a part in it where Thomas More is talking to his son in law, Wm Roper, about exactly how far he would go to destroy the devil. And may I remind you that the devil is a 1000 times more evil than KSM or anyone else for that matter.

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    You cannot make exceptions unless you want to kill the law entire. We are a nation of laws, not of men. At least I hope that will someday be the case again.

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  70. jcburns said on April 27, 2009 at 1:37 am

    So well said. That’s my hope as well.

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  71. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Jeff (tmmo),
    I am troubled by your notion of swift forgiveness of those who dabbled in torture. Does not the severity of the crime affect your judgement? When does the law apply?

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  72. Dexter said on April 27, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Flu in soon-to-be May? A killer flu which may wipe out hundreds of thousands or millions? WHERE the hell did this come from? On top of everything else, as soon as we get two goddam days of decent weather we will soon have to wear fucking surgical masks everywhere? It’s in the US southwest, it’s in a Queens, NY school…and it’s headed for YOU!

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  73. coozledad said on April 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

    I think it was after all, much more of a national crisis when bill Clinton stuck his pecker in a chubby girl’s mouth. It laid bare the soul of our nation so all of our enemies in France could see plainly they weren’t the only ones who fuck with their faces. And the dancing on television that resulted. My, them Republicans can dance, and dance purty, too. I remember old Duke Cunningham dancing with an artificial teardrop coming out his eye. I think it was before David Vitter’s time, but wouldn’t it have been something to see him shake his money maker draped in a loaded diaper? All this while Cokie Robert’s enormous fish eyes bulged with appreciation and her gills flapped uncontrollably.The only regret I have about funneling all that taxpayer money to Ken Starr’s expedition is there were no closed circuit monitors enabling us to see the Liberty College wetsuit dance, which brings me to yet another possible Republican dismissal of torture. They may want to write this down.
    “You think waterboarding is torture? Ha! Try dangling from the ceiling by a log chain while trying to escape from two wetsuits and that dildo that mysteriously gets up your ass sometimes when you’re contemplating the beatitudes! Ha! Pikers. Don’t tread on me unless you’re wearing a pair of stiletto heels, and only there. Yeah right there on the squishy part… Yeah baby.”

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  74. mark said on April 27, 2009 at 8:27 am


    Then buy some stock this morning in a little company with the symbol APT. They make those masks. If history is any guide, you should get a 50% to 150% return in a few days.

    I’d choose the waterboarding over a surprise visit from a Hellfire missile launched fgrom a Predator drone. But we are able to discern which of the suspected militants hanging out across the Pakistani border deserve such an explosive greeting and which do not, and with what level of collateral damage. And the courts approve and due process is satisfied and Thomas Moore and Jesus Christ sign off on killing “suspects” push button style, just not on coercion applied in person.

    If Obama can keep us safe with kinder, gentler tactics, more power to him. Perhaps we should now “out” any allies that gathered info using torture. And refuse to accept intelligence in the future from any source employing such tactics.

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  75. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Who said dispense with the courts? Not i, he said. Methinks that many of you’ns will be sadly disappointed with the outcome if this is taken to the level of prosecution, in part because a subset of the regular commentariat has already convicted and tried the Bush admin (yes, that sequence is intentional) for crimes against humanity in their heads.

    I just think you’re reading your own complete disgust with Republicans into the evidence. And i’m a little worried about how you’ll respond (Coozledad) when there is a trial, and a court, even one full of Carter and Clinton appointees, doesn’t convict Cheney or Ashcroft or even Gonzales of, well, anything.

    By the way, they discussed the bug in the box thing, narrowed it down to one bug, non-poisonous, and then didn’t do it. And the numbers on the waterboarding is cumulative per pour, with the pours measured by the ounce and location poured — this site does make me go pursue and read stuff i wouldn’t have otherwise! — so there were maybe 18-20 sessions over a couple weeks with each of the two, adding up to a couple hundred bends of the wrist with the Ehrlenmyer flask or whatever they used to check the milliliters.

    We can argue all day the enhanced interrogation techniques were stupid, unproductive of meaningful intel, and ill-advised in general, and you’ll even get me to agree with much of what would be said in those areas. But it isn’t going to get legally defined as “torture” in court, except in a Spanish municipal tribunal or an Italian law school moot court session, and i suspect we still have to listen to a fair amount of that, because the real point here is that America must never elect another Republican to executive office. Got it, and we’ll take it under advisement.

    We didn’t execute a Japanese soldier for “doing the same thing.” Light years from it, in fact. Water torture plus killing a bunch of captives isn’t the same thing as waterboarding following a detailed protocol. And when i read here “we must reclaim [our values] by putting criminals on trial,” it sure does sound like “we’ll give ’em a fair trial before we string ’em up,” and out of a similar context.

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  76. moe99 said on April 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

    You know, Jeff tmmo, you are not sounding very Christian in the way you try to parse the torture thing so that the US somehow sidesteps the fact that it engaged in torture. Consider this: the military itself called the techniques that we employed, torture, in 2002. And at least one interrogator killed herself as a result of these actions. Just as one cannot get a little bit pregnant, one cannot do a little bit of waterboarding. Even some US troops who were subjected to the treatment as part of SERE training have reported suffering signinificant ill effects. And these were guys who knew that it was playacting all the time. Can you imagine what it would have been like had the actual administrators been Al Quaeda operatives and the US military undergoing waterboarding had been held by them with no hope for release?

    I believed you to be capable of more discriminating thought.


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  77. MichaelG said on April 27, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Jeff (TMMO), I don’t know where or when you attended boot camp or basic training. What you describe bears no resemblance to the Army basic training I attended in 1966. The training was all about building one up, physically and mentally. There was none of the brutality or “breaking down” of people that you describe. Yeah, the training was tough and yeah, the hours were long but whatever the source of your fantasy might be it wasn’t Army basic training. The Army knows training and they do it very well.

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  78. jcburns said on April 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

    “Water torture plus killing a bunch of captives isn’t the same thing as waterboarding following a detailed protocol.” Oh yes, it’s so much more humane when you bring words like ‘protocol’ into the picture. You can practically smell the state department white tie dinners in that word, so, heavens to betsy, that couldn’t be wrong…it’s protocol!

    And (jumping back to Mark’s comment) I think the vast piles of torture-produced intelligence (that proves subsequently reliable) are mostly part of a 24-scriptwriter’s imagination. I remain amazed that our discourse still gets anywhere near “well, torturing could maybe just be something we’d stand behind.”

    Let me get the liquid paper out for the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, then.

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  79. moe99 said on April 27, 2009 at 10:18 am


    More information on the torture we inflicted. I find it interesting that the FBI withdrew from the procedures once their agents made it clear to the brass what was going on. Perhaps the FBI is just a bunch of namby pamby wusses, eh?

    From what a minority of the commentators have written here, they seem to think that these interrogation tactics were nothing more than a trip to the dentist’s office. I was at the dentist’s office Friday and they tried out a new gizmo on me. Instead of using a sharp scaler to scrape away the crap on my teeth, they had a super energized tiny water pik type of thing. At one point during the procedure, the device that sucked up all that water malfunctioned and I got a huge buildup of water and could not breathe. Just for a brief instant I had a tiny inkling of what it must be like but a thousandfold more awful. It was not a happy occurrence.

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  80. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Not parsing anything (or anyone), just observing that a trial may not reach the predetermined conclusion some of you have already reached, at which point i fear for my ears. We “know” why certain soldiers committed suicide, we “know” what constitutes intend to commit fraud under international law — or is it that we know what HuffPo and FireDogLake tell us? You keep misrepresenting what i’m saying, so i don’t trust how you represent other documents until i read them myself.

    Third and final time: go ahead, call up an independent investigation (Conyers and Nadler do NOT represent an independent investigation, and i reserve the right to mock those two worthies at my leisure). And Obama and his former opponent McCain are wise to define coercive techniques back off the table, since they are stupid and don’t work. But assuming you’ll get convictions based on what you all pass around in Olbermann linkage . . . don’t be so sure, and don’t call me unChristian for telling you that.

    Michael, my boot experience was USMC, 1980. “Breaking you down” was the fairly common comment by sergeant instructors right in front of all us idjits. They couldn’t cuss, which apparently had been implemented a couple rotations before i showed up, but it made for much humor. “Breaking you down” didn’t mean “crush your spirit entirely,” but it did mean flushing assumptions about individual preference and your own centrality in the universe down the main drain in the head as you scrubbed grout with toothbrushes (not, i hastily point out, one’s own — left overs from the previous platoon).

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  81. jeff borden said on April 27, 2009 at 10:26 am

    One of the things I enjoy on this site are the passionate and intelligent arguments, which often force me to reconsider my thinking in light of your comments.

    That said, I must admit that my mind has been changed regarding when we should begin investigating the torture regime. My original thought was that this will be an enormous headache, largely because the Republican Party has sold its soul and now finds itself defending the kinds of behavior usually associated with the Gestapo, North Korea, Pol Pot, etc. They’ll do anything and everything in their power to turn any investigation into a so-called political “witch hunt.” And their ugly obsfucations will hinder all the other important work to be done in areas such as health care, repairing our economy, etc.

    But I’ve come to agree with a previous poster, who argued that defending our Constitution and our way of life is more vital than new legislative efforts, no matter how worthy. And I agree, too, that letting our elected representatives walk away from their twisted wrongdoings only emboldens the next group.

    God, how did we ever get to this place? Our country fought a two-front war against two of the most savage, anti-democratic foes in history –massive military machines manned by well-trained believers– without resorting to the kinds of thuggery that the Bush administration endorsed. And how interesting that those who wrote the memos and pushed the “torture works” meme were themselves never in combat.

    How many years, if not decades, will it take to wash away the stain of George W. Bush’s presidency? At least this would be a start.

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  82. moe99 said on April 27, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Just to make two more points:

    1. I am bipartisan about torture. If it can be shown that the Democrats in the Gang of 4 endorsed torture and their actions were somehow responsible for the adoption of torture methods, then they need to be investigated and prosecuted.

    2. I am a lawyer by trade–33 years worth. I’ve had more than a few trials and I know that once you get into the court room you’ve given up your control over the case and submitted it to either the judge or the jury. I happen to believe that in general juries are the bedrock of our nation and am willing to see this to its conslusion. Let justice be done though the heavens fall is a favorite quote although I’ve forgotten the original latin.

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  83. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Jeff (tmmo),
    Waterboarding is torture and your trying to qualify and parse this barbaric act is not compatible with your avowed Christian faith.

    I think you are dead wrong if you think that the courts will not label this torture because they already have. We’ve jailed our own citizens for the practice for at least 111 years. The precedent has been set and reconfirmed over the course of more than a century. Their is no debate on this point. The only question as to the legality of this process has been raised by those who either advocated its use, ordered its use, or sought to cover up its use. The only folks still trying to trot out a “happy face” version of this form of torture are Republicans who are desperately trying to excuse the inexcusable. You seem to be among this dwindling crowd.

    You also blithely ignore the deafening cognitive dissonance caused by asserting that this was a noble patriotic act to protect America. If it was so honorable, why did Bush/Cheney assiduously deny the program until there was too much evidence to sustain such arguments? Why did they also seek to shift all criminal responsibility to reservists and members of the National Guard? The only folks to go to jail so far are the low level grunts. Where is the justice in that?

    As for your contention “We didn’t execute a Japanese soldier for “doing the same thing.” Light years from it, in fact. Water torture plus killing a bunch of captives isn’t the same thing as waterboarding following a detailed protocol.” You are arguing with Sen. John McCain, whom I believe you just voted for:

    On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”

    Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times’ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:

    “McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”

    I would not support the kangaroo courts that you and your Repulbican allies seem to find adequate. I want a thorough airing of all the evidence and if the evidence warrants it, it would be appropriate to have criminal trials. Just because your motives are base and unjust, do not ascribe those motives to everyone whom disagrees with you.

    Why are you so quick to forgive those who engaged in torture?

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  84. brian stouder said on April 27, 2009 at 10:44 am

    God, how did we ever get to this place? Our country fought a two-front war against two of the most savage, anti-democratic foes in history –massive military machines manned by well-trained believers– without resorting to the kinds of thuggery that the Bush administration endorsed. And how interesting that those who wrote the memos and pushed the “torture works” meme were themselves never in combat.

    But Korematsu v. United States has never been overturned, yes?

    And have you read the elegant term “dehousing campaign” (regarding the German populace, during the aforementioned war)?

    I don’t know that I’d refer to the command component that authorized firebombing Tokyo night after night as “thugs” – but the morality of what they did isn’t “glowing”

    It seems to me that our nation’s past virtue is more of an illusion than our current virtue

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  85. jeff borden said on April 27, 2009 at 11:02 am


    Well-argued, as usual, and a reason why my infantryman father was no fan of the Air Force. While he and individual soldiers were held to high standards of accountability in their dealings with non-combatants, there were no penalties for those who dropped incendiary devices on cities.

    War brings out the worst in everyone. I’m not arguing that the U.S. or the Allies played by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. We know there were excesses. We also know, however, that German soldiers ran west, not east, in the waning days of the war because they all knew they would be treated fairly by Allied troops, treatment they could not expect from the Russians. And we know that the Pentagon estimated more than a million casualties if Allied troops invaded the island of Japan, which led to the horrific fire bombings and the two A-bombs. We can debate where that falls on the morality scale. Given how the Japanese had treated Allied prisoners early in the war, perhaps there were strains of vengeance in the bombings. Or, perhaps, it was simply seen as the most effective way to break the people and force Hirohito to surrender.

    Sherman spoke the truth when he said, “War is hell.”

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  86. brian stouder said on April 27, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Yes; it is ‘all cruelty, and you cannot refine it’ (or something like that)

    btw – let us grant one scintilla of credit to President Bush-43; he did not issue blanket pardons, nor even targeted pardons.

    While he certainly did send our national policy apparatus careening down the wrong track, he (at least!) did not derail subsequent criminal investigations….so there’s that, anyway!

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  87. jeff borden said on April 27, 2009 at 12:07 pm


    Agreed. W. has been surprising me of late. Perhaps, like Jimmy Carter, he will be a better ex-president than president. It won’t take much effort.

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  88. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Say what you will about individual acts of barbarism and cruelty that we have engaged in during other wars, we have never had a program that sought to legally justify torture. This is a profound difference than any of the examples that you cite, brian. Bush/Cheney sought to fundamentally abrogate the Constitution in its entirety by dispensing with courts, judges, lawyers, evidence, and the public declaration of charges against a suspect. No other president did that.

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  89. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    “Fiat justicia, ruat caelum” (he recollected, perhaps imperfectly).

    Gasman, you’re quoting Paul Begala’s dissection and analysis, not just Sen. McCain. Waterboarding was among the reasons, not the reason Japanese war criminals were sentenced. Their waterboarding was also of a significantly different type than what the US did, as even Christopher Hitchens would agree; Hitchens came to the conclusion that the distinction is of no real value, and should not be made, and that the modern modified waterboarding, while protecting the life of the subject in certain meaningful ways, was still excessively cruel and ultimately pointless.

    An observation with which i agree. But you can’t back from that parking space directly into the freeway of “so the administration that took those steps is guilty of war crimes.” You can try the case, but you’re already working out the punishment phase, and i’m telling you it isn’t going to turn out the way you like, which is not “and Dems will be convicted, too.”

    They didn’t try to justify torture, they justified certain acts you keep calling torture, which don’t legally become torture just by your repitition of the label.

    If your point is simply all war is unjust and criminal by definition, you have plenty of company – http://worldcantwait.org – if you insist on calling me unChristian because i’m not a pacifist, that’s your theological right. But it just feels like namecalling when you do it.

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  90. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    You are dead wrong in your assertion that I am jumping to the punishment phase and engaging in some sort of political vendetta. That is exactly what I am arguing against.

    I am in favor of investigations, and READ THIS VERY CAREFULLY: if the evidence suggests it is warranted, that prosecutions should follow. That is exactly how our system of justice was designed to work, and largely for more than two centuries, has worked.

    I don’t give a fat rat’s ass if Christopher Hitchens agrees with you or not. You are effectively arguing against the framers of the Constitution, and I might add, the entirety of the life story and words of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the New Testament. If you disagree with either point I’d by happy to see you cite your evidence.

    Any advocacy of torture is essentially the demise of our entire body of laws. Where is any form of protection against torture being applied to innocent people? That’s why we need a legal system, to prevent us from indulging in our basest passions.

    As to the conviction and the execution of Japanese soldiers for waterboarding, you are grasping at straws when your argument is that is not the only reason they were tried. I’ll be more than happy to research the cases if you like, but do you know with absolute certainty that all of said Japanese soldiers were also charged with crimes greater than waterboarding? It sounds as if you are merely assuming it to be so.

    As to the quote, I know damn well that it was in reference to what Paul Begala said on the 24th of this month. The fact remains that the very same point was made previously by McCain and that both Begala’s and McCain’s quotes are factually accurate.

    I did not call you unChristian for not being a pacifist, I said that it is unChristian to split hairs in the justification of torture. If you are going to quote me, please do so accurately.

    As a Christian myself, I tell you plainly that if your view of social injustice as evidenced by your equivocation concerning torture were the only view within the church, I could not remain a Christian. However, I suspect the majority of Christians would not share your legalistic parsing of torture as being even remotely in accordance with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. As a Christian, I find a minister of the Gospel engaging in such actions as heresy. I think that you should be ashamed.

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  91. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    I will ask you for a third time, why are you willing to forgive those who promoted, carried out, and tried to conceal an official policy of torture? Why should they not face the consequences of our legal system? Why do they deserve forgiveness?

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  92. brian stouder said on April 27, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Bush/Cheney sought to fundamentally abrogate the Constitution in its entirety by dispensing with courts, judges, lawyers, evidence, and the public declaration of charges against a suspect. No other president did that.

    Except for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Look up Korematsu v. United States, and read about it, and ponder the fact that it has never been overturned.

    Think, Gasman. Stop madly typing, and read, and think. At the very least, ease up on the hyperbole (if you can); at length it weakens everything that you say – even your occasionally interesting insights

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  93. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Y’know, i comment on this sporadically, and if not being on top of each new comment is a sign of evasiveness, then . . . ah, never mind.

    Plus, i tried to say for a last time a ways upthread — go ahead, have at a court filing. I’m not, have never said, don’t do it, i’m saying it won’t fly legally, and i don’t want you to have a stroke when it gets dismissed. I’m not saying they shouldn’t face “the consequences of our legal system,” and you need to not treat me like i’m a FoxNews contributor. I’m saying i predict that our legal system will have no consequences for them. You think it will, and i’m not seeing it, but go right on ahead. And there will be appeals to contribute to a legal fund for those named, and contributors to that will be named in special little warmhearted websites and we will be asked to boycott and shun “those who gave money to support torture.”

    Yeah, i’d like to skip all that, but it’s ahead, isn’t it. Oh joy.

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  94. Gasman said on April 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    How is it hyperbolic to defend the Constitution, or the New Testament? What statement of mine do you find hyperbole? I am simply outraged at many of the comments that I have read which suggest that it is morale, just, or Christian to equivocate when considering torture.

    Proposing such parsing of morality seems to me to be the equivalent of debating as when pedophilia is appropriate. Like pedophilia, this is one of those issues where there really can be no debate. It is absolute. There are simply too many contradictions which arise once you head down that road. I would also note, that aside from a very few people in the blogoshpere, there is no debate on this subject. This is a matter of settled law. Nobody, outside of the Bush administration, is offering up any legal argument for torture and nobody has suggested that we amend the Constitution to allow torture.

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