Monday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. NY Time op-ed favors ignoring equal protection (“parts of the Constitution he doesn’t like”) … kinda like ignoring “felony crimes for high capacity magazines” if you’re a wealthy member of the press but not if you’re a regular schmo, eh?
  2. Advice for living the Christian life.
  3. Voting and “powerful indicators”.
  4. Media bias once more … or if you’re thinking the media isn’t as biased … produce a similar list with counter-examples (or just one).
  5. Contra the classical liberal and libertarian, a speech.
  6. This is not unrelated.
  7. An example of a politically motivated definition … the assault rifle.
  8. The big charity problem.
  9. A cure for addiction?
  10. A book noted.
  11. Well, yes of course. Our “ruling class are swine”, but that forgets that basically we are all swine.
  12. Obama wants to halt the murder of school-age children, so he’s stopping the drone campaign? Or not.
  13. The deficit, just click the link linked.
  14. Snow sculptures.
  15. Violence in America … meet’s Mark Twain and his “lies, damned lies and statistics” quote.

26 responses to “Monday Highlights

  1. Media bias once more … or if you’re thinking the media isn’t as biased … produce a similar list with counter-examples (or just one).

    counter examples? Just one? You can’t ask for a counter example if you have failed to produce an example. The source you linked to had not a single example, just a bunch if imaginary things he thinks he remembers seeing in the media.

    Obama wants to halt the murder of school-age children, so he’s stopping the drone campaign? Or not.

    US soldiers are murderers? Will you effect a citizen arrest of any US service member you encounter who tells you he was involved with drones?

    Voting and “powerful indicators”.

    Nationwide I’m not seeing the gap, married women went for Obama 46% versus 53% for Romney. I suspect it would shrink if your normalized the population for other factors like race or age.

  2. Boonton,

    You can’t ask for a counter example if you have failed to produce an example. The source you linked to had not a single example, just a bunch if imaginary things he thinks he remembers seeing in the media.

    Just because you have no memory of any inconvenient references doesn’t mean that they don’t exist in abundance.

    Will you effect a citizen arrest of any US service member you encounter who tells you he was involved with drones?

    No. We’re accusing the leaders and their policies.

  3. I suggest you peruse the comment thread on http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/01/01/bomb-arrest-a-test-for-the-media/

    This happens quite often in discussions of media bias. A person claiming bias ends up not bothering to actually see what the media says about a certain thing, he just guesses what he thinks. Then as the argument goes against him, he resorts to the ‘lets pretend game’ where he tries to imagine what he thinks the NY Times or CNN would write if some that didn’t happen happened.

    No. We’re accusing the leaders and their policies.

    As you should know an order to commit murder is not valid and cannot be obeyed by a service member even if it comes from his commanding officer. Not only that ‘following orders’ would not be a defense. If you think US drone strikes are murder, then you have to advocate the prosecution of those service members involved in them.

  4. Boonton,
    Yes, the actual media bias discussion like Mr Groseclose’s book is ignored by you because “if the argument goes against you” you pretend it doesn’t exist.

    If you think US drone strikes are murder, then you have to advocate the prosecution of those service members involved in them.

    Which is why the pilots and crew of the Engola Gay are blamed by the left/liberals for dropping the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and not the President.

  5. Hiroshima was a military target in the sense that it did have military offices in the city making it a perfectly valid target given we were at war. If you wanted to mount the case that the firepower used was so great that it constituted a war crime, I think you’d have to arrest more senior decision makers. Even though the pilots knew the bomb was exceptionally powerful, I think you could argue that they couldn’t really comprehend it’s level of destructiveness.

    The drone argument, in constrast, is much more contained. You’re essentially treating it as if Mr. Obama ordered a Navy Seal to shoot a French comedian in the head because he didn’t like his jokes. If the Seal carried out such an order he’d be subject to a trial for murder in addition to the President being subject to criminal prosecution.

    Yes, the actual media bias discussion like Mr Groseclose’s book is ignored by you because “if the argument goes against you” you pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Not sure Groseclose was referenced by your cite but how is the discussion of media biased advanced by those who opt to simply try to imagine what the NYT would write or CNN air if various things happened?

  6. Boonton,

    Hiroshima was a military target in the sense that it did have military offices in the city making it a perfectly valid target given we were at war

    Yes. I’m not claiming dropping Little Boy on Hiroshima was wrong. We weren’t trying to kill General XYZ or the guy at the first house off Little Flower Street. Targeting a military objective, military personnel in a location, or even a targetted industrial center (example, strikes at ball bearing plants in Germany) is different than targeting an individual. Ronald Reagan (I think) attempted bombing strikes to kill a particular individual (Colonel Ghaddafyi). That was wrong. This is wrong too. Assassination, via any technology is wrong. It is not part of war. Performing bombing or rocket strikes within countries with which we are not at war to kill individuals on the Presidents “kill list” is egregiously wrong. If you weren’t such a partisan stooge/Obama backer-not-matter-what, you’d be saying the same thing.

    On what basis do you figure assassination is right. Remember you thought it was horrible if China assassinated US citizens because that citizen got on a Chinese “kill list”. Why is it right for us to do it and wrong for it to be done to us?

  7. Boonton,

    You’re essentially treating it as if Mr. Obama ordered a Navy Seal to shoot a French comedian in the head because he didn’t like his jokes. If the Seal carried out such an order he’d be subject to a trial for murder in addition to the President being subject to criminal prosecution.

    Just so you know, SEALs don’t pilot drones. Never have. Never will.

  8. Why is killing a specific target wrong but killing huge numbers of random peeople not?

  9. Boonton,
    Seriously? I actually think you are pretending on this question. You know the answer. You’re just pretending you don’t, hoping I’ll mis-state something giving you a rhetorical edge.

    Because we are war with a nation not the individuals of that nation. It’s a different thing for your marine to attack the defenders of hill 102 vs Jue Kim and his brothers who live in a particular village.

    The left wanted (prior to Mr Obama) to treat the WoT as a criminal affair in which you target individuals … for arrest and trial not execution in the field without judge or jury.

    Look. Turn it around. Put China doing this to individuals in the US. Figure out what you think is right to do for other nations. Is it right for China to attack Boonton as an individual because he’s on somebodies kill list or do you want to attack people doing a particular thing in a particular place irrespective of their names and history.

  10. morally incoherent. That is like saying you’re going to start a forest fire but you’re not setting individual trees on fire.

    If it’s legitimate to target an enemies command center, which houses individual commanders in a battlefield, then it’s also legitimate to target the individual commanders.

    This becomes even more clear if you’re at war with a small terrorist group. When a terrorist cell may have only ten or so people in it it is impossible NOT to be doing targetting on an individual level.

  11. Boonton,
    I see. Not morally incoherent. It’s the distinction between killing as a soldier in a war and committing murder. You murder an individual. A soldier kills enemy soldiers. Examine that distinction. It applies to commanders too.

    If you are at “war” with a small terrorist group, you’re going to arrest and try them. “Judge Dredd” is a murderer (and its why the police aren’t asked to execute criminals on the scene).

  12. If you are at “war” with a small terrorist group, you’re going to arrest and try them.

    No you’re going to kill them. Arresting and trying is law enforcement. It can apply in war. If you capture an enemy you may arrest and try him if he has committed a crime. If he is a soldier that means you cannot charge him with a crime for fighting for his cause (provided he hasn’t committed war crimes). If he is a terrorist then the very fact he is fighting for his cause is itself a crime.

    But no you’re making up a rule here that war can only happen against nations. That is false, the modern nation state is a relatively new state of affairs. Wars have often been fought against non-nations such as rebellions, insurrections, pirates, even rival warlords and tribes. And it make no moral sense to say you can have a war against an abstract concept like a ‘nation’ but not against individuals inside that concept. If you can have a war against, say, Al Qaeda, then you can not only target ‘generic Al Qaeda’ targets like a training camp but also specific individual targets like a cell leader.

  13. Boonton,

    That is false, the modern nation state is a relatively new state of affairs. Wars have often been fought against non-nations such as rebellions, insurrections, pirates, even rival warlords and tribes.

    Yes. The modern state is a relatively new state of affairs, and you belong to such a state. We did not fight the Revolutionary War or the Civil war with targetted killings, deliberately sending non-uniformed assassin spies to seek the life of the opposing generals and leaders. We might have done so. But that is not our way. We’ve decided from our nation inception that this is morally wrong. You are very very un-American to claim that murder-by-state is OK.

    And it make no moral sense to say you can have a war against an abstract concept like a ‘nation’ but not against individuals inside that concept.

    Yes. It does.

    If he is a terrorist then the very fact he is fighting for his cause is itself a crime.

    China has just declared on an internal list that your wife is an enemy of the state. They kill her. This is righteous in your mind. Alas, it is not. If they would call her such a person and deem her worthy of individual attention then they should try her in a court of law, not assassinate her via drones, spies, or covert SEAL-like groups. Why you don’t recognize that is beyond my ken. You’re not explaining your justification for murder-by-state action very well.

  14. Boonton,
    Your (rhetorical I hope) claim that murder-by-state is OK is almost as bad as your claim that you cannot see any moral distinction between murder-by-state and a soldier fighting and killing in wartime. Seriously … I hope that is just a rhetorical pose.

  15. We did not fight the Revolutionary War or the Civil war with targetted killings, deliberately sending non-uniformed assassin spies to seek the life of the opposing generals and leaders

    Except we did, at least in WWII. You confuse a tactical choice with an assertion of morality. Killing a General of an army you are at war with is, it seems to you, murder but carpet bombing a city because some generals may be issuing orders to the army from somewhere inside of it is not. That is morally incoherent. If you are at war with a nation then you are at war with its armed forces and the leaders of its armed forces are legititimate targets.

    We’ve decided from our nation inception that this is morally wrong.

    We did? When? Where, exactly?

    China has just declared on an internal list that your wife is an enemy of the state. They kill her. This is righteous in your mind.

    You are confusing war with morality. If China choose to declare war on the wives of people who comment on American blogs, that would be immoral. It would also be immoral for China to declare war on Tibet and destroy its army and take over its land when Tibet did not attack China and posed no threat to it.

    Have we declared wars on bloggers or people who have not attacked us? I say we have not.

    I think the problem here is you are confusing two different moral issues. One is the issue of whether a particular war is just or unjust. The other issue is assuming the war in question is just, what tactics are and are not just in persuit of that war.

  16. Boonton,

    If China choose to declare war on the wives of people who comment on American blogs, that would be immoral. It would also be immoral for China to declare war on Tibet and destroy its army and take over its land when Tibet did not attack China and posed no threat to it.

    That may (or may not) be the reason that Chinese leaders put your wife on the kill list. But that’s just thing thing. Mr Obama has a kill list he keeps by his beside. He has no oversight. Nobody to call to question his choices. There is no accountability. No public account. Just a list. The Chinese list happens to include your wife. By what justification. We don’t know. Just like the Obama list. Consider if the President making this list was one you thought was going over his bounds, killing people you didn’t think needed killing. How would you know? How would you call him to account? You’ve already given murder-by-state with no oversight a pass for one President, would you give the same pass to a President Bachmann? How about President Hitler-reborn?

    We did? When? Where, exactly?

    In WWII American generals wrestled with the morality of ordering an interception and shooting down the plane Admiral Yamamoto was flying on. You apparently wouldn’t wrestle. Why did they? Why would US generals be a little queasy about that and you not?

    That is morally incoherent. If you are at war with a nation then you are at war with its armed forces and the leaders of its armed forces are legititimate targets.

    No. It is not morally incoherent. If I am at war with Germany I am not at war with Rudolph Dieltz as an individual. I may target Gestapo headquarters as a command/control center of the enemy, but it is morally different thing to target Herr Dieltz as an individual man. This is morally consistent. It may be a moral stance you disagree with, and you are in agreement with a whole host of really really horrible men, Stalin had kill lists. Obama does too. You approve of both, being a consistent fellow.

  17. That may (or may not) be the reason that Chinese leaders put your wife on the kill list. But that’s just thing thing. Mr Obama has a kill list he keeps by his beside. He has no oversight. Nobody to call to question his choices.

    FDR had a list of Japanese and German cities to be firebombed next to his bed. Who had oversight over that list? Mr. Reagan had a list of Soviet cities to be incinerated by nuclear weapons next to his bed. Where was the oversight there?

    In WWII American generals wrestled with the morality of ordering an interception and shooting down the plane Admiral Yamamoto was flying on.

    They did? Why? Didn’t you just tell us this was decided upon in the Revolutionary War? Why the difficulty making this decision hundreds of years later? Certainly you’re not going to say your knowledge of US military history is superior to the four and five star generals educated at elite institutions like West Point who were in command in WWII?

    If I am at war with Germany I am not at war with Rudolph Dieltz as an individual. I may target Gestapo headquarters as a command/control center of the enemy, but it is morally different thing to target Herr Dieltz as an individual man.

    If Herr Dieltz resigns or retires to civilian life then you are correct, he ceases to be a legitimate target. But if he is a member of Germany’s armed forces then he is a valid target. Note your inocherence is trying to tell us it’s moral to only target fuzzy ‘generic’ targets (i.e. Gestapo headquarters) but not individuals. But if you’re targetting Gestapo headquarters you’re targetting the individuals expected to be there, esp. Herr Dieltz.

    With a larger organization like the Gestapo it might be vaiable to maintain the fiction that you’re not really attacking individuals but impersonal categories of things (i.e. ‘headquarters’). But when you’re at war with some smaller group then it’s no longer possible to maintain this fiction. If Al Qaeda’s ‘command’ consists of 2 or 3 people it’s a stretch to say you’re not targetting individuals and it’s historically false to say a nation can’t make a war on a non-nation.

  18. The Gestapo question is interesting because technically the Gestapo were internal police for the Nazi regime, not the armed forces. That would seem to imply that the Gestapo would not be a legitimate military target at all in WWII.

    But let’s take a hypothetical alternative history. It’s late in the war and Berlin is surrounded. The Gestapo is confining itself to internal policing but at the top of their headquarters building the commander of Germany’s army has set himself up. Since this building has not been targetted before, it’s radio equipment on the top floor allows the commander to issue orders to the remaining infantry trying to hold off the invasion of the city. It is known via reliable intelligence that only the commander, known by name, is in the top floor and he has sealed himself there to prevent the Gestapo downstairs from trying to effect a coup.

    The airforce has developed and tested two new weapons. One is the atomic bomb, another is a small bomb with an impact sensor and precise timer. It can pierce the roof and detonate exactly on the top floor of the building killing the commander but leaving the rest of the structure safe.

    The options are:
    1. Use this precise weapon to kill the commander.
    2. Use traditional bombs to level the building and thos enearby.
    3. Use the atomic bomb to level the city.

    Your assertions seem to say #2 and #3 are ok but not #1. Even though both those other options involve killing a huge array of individuals, many totally innocent or at least not valid military targets.

  19. Boonton

    The options are:
    1. Use this precise weapon to kill the commander.
    2. Use traditional bombs to level the building and thos enearby.
    3. Use the atomic bomb to level the city.

    is not the list of options. The “top floor” of the headquarters is almost certainly not occupied only by the commander. If this was (not Gestapo) but ordinary police forces and the command of, say, the Luftwaffe was in the top floor then attacking that precisely would be right. But trying to assassinate Herr Goering specifically would be wrong. You keep pretending that murder in wartime is OK. It is not. You pretend this is inconsistent. It is not. You pretend you cannot see the distinction. I don’t believe you.

    Gestapo were active in working against resistance fighters in occupied territories who were are allies. Therefore they were in fact not only in the role you give them. Actual non-Gestapo police would be non-combatants and targeting specifically would be wrong.

  20. Boonton,

    They did? Why?

    You should be asking the other question. Why did they think this was wrong, but that they had to do it. It was a quandry. You would hold that it wasn’t and can’t even comprehend how this would be an issue. Post war those who made the decision felt they had to explain themselves. Odd that.

    But if you’re targetting Gestapo headquarters you’re targetting the individuals expected to be there, esp. Herr Dieltz.

    No. He may be there, but you aren’t necessarily attacking it and insuring that when you attack he isn’t out at a meeting elsewhere.

    Why the difficulty making this decision hundreds of years later?

    Seriously? Because we thought (a) the chance of losing the war was quite in the balance and that the consequence of that would be horrific. We did lots of morally questionable things in the war. Recall we aided and repaired Stalin’s Kolyma bound slave ships knowingly even after the war. As you noted, we firebombed German civilian populations. Consider on the other hand our reasons on both sides in the decision by the US bombers squadrons to use daylight bombing missions only.

    If Al Qaeda’s ‘command’ consists of 2 or 3 people it’s a stretch to say you’re not targetting individuals and it’s historically false to say a nation can’t make a war on a non-nation.

    If you’re attacking 2 or 3 people, you can capture not assassinate them. You have read Ms Arendt’s book about Eichmann? Yes? As noted, the SEALs were sent with operational orders which while technically were not an assassination order strictly (and perhaps even legally) speaking in practical terms there was a .0001% chance (or less) they weren’t going to kill him.

  21. You should loose the argument automatically now but to be fair you weren’t given proper notice. Fighting the hypothetical is grounds for losing an argument.

    Here it’s a given that:

    1. Dietz is alone in the top floor of the building (but it’s interesting that you think the moral equation changes if he happens to bring with him two or three assistants whose names we don’t know…sounds like you’re applying the Batman system where the chief villian must only be captured but an unlimited supply of underlings can suffer bodily damage without any other thoughts).

    2. The Gestapo in this hypothetical are not valid military targets engaged in the war.

    No. He may be there, but you aren’t necessarily attacking it and insuring that when you attack he isn’t out at a meeting elsewhere.

    In any case like this the military would almost certainly delay the attack if they got intelligence that indicated he was unlikely to be there. The possibility that an individual attack may fail doesn’t mask the fact that it’s an attack on an individual.

    Seriously? Because we thought (a) the chance of losing the war was quite in the balance and that the consequence of that would be horrific. We did lots of morally questionable things in the war. Recall we aided and repaired Stalin’s Kolyma bound slave ships knowingly even after the war. As you noted, we firebombed German civilian populations. Consider on the other hand our reasons on both sides in the decision by the US bombers squadrons to use daylight bombing missions only.

    Interestingly the only thing your system seems to consider a war crime would be shooting down a plane carrying a general. Not city was firebombed that didn’t have at least a few German military in them making that a ‘non-individualized’ attack.

    If you’re attacking 2 or 3 people, you can capture not assassinate them

    Not necessarily and how is capturing not also a problematic act of war in your calculus? Certainly if we awoke to news that Chinese special forces landed on your roof, stormed your house and took your wife away in chains people would think it’s an act of war.

    As noted, the SEALs were sent with operational orders which while technically were not an assassination order strictly (and perhaps even legally) speaking in practical terms there was a .0001% chance (or less) they weren’t going to kill him.

    From what’s come out so far the mission was planned incorporating the possibility that they would be bringing back live prisoners with them. I think you’re overblowing the certainity that they were going to kill Bin Laden no matter what.

    Nonetheless from what you’ve written it sounds like it would have been more moral to have bombed the entire house killing women and children on the grounds that it was a type of ‘headquarters’ and hence a military target but the SEAL team raid was immoral, even though it lowered the loss of life and even offered the possibility for no loss of life.

  22. Boonton,

    From what’s come out so far the mission was planned incorporating the possibility that they would be bringing back live prisoners with them. I think you’re overblowing the certainity that they were going to kill Bin Laden no matter what.

    Well. I read the book. If the priority was capture. They would have captured him. It wasn’t. I don’t think capture was in anyone’s operational playbook. It was in the lawyer’s briefs alone.

    Not necessarily and how is capturing not also a problematic act of war in your calculus? Certainly if we awoke to news that Chinese special forces landed on your roof, stormed your house and took your wife away in chains people would think it’s an act of war.

    Israel took Eichmann alive in South America. They transported him to Israel and put him on a very public trial. Oddly enough, it seems, Ms Arendt did not note that Argentina (I think) found this as an act of war. Let me put it another way, do you find any moral difference between China cpaturing your wife and putting her on a globally public trial as different from bombing our neighborhood tavern when you were at dinner? Apparently you do not.

    Not city was firebombed that didn’t have at least a few German military in them making that a ‘non-individualized’ attack.

    Actually firebombing and in general attacking civilian centers for the purpose of killing civilians was seen at the time problematic and afterwords as wrong. What is permitted are non-murder (not attacking persons) and attacking civilian targets. I am unclear on how to best tactically or morally to respond to illegal combatants, which are in vogue these days. I think perhaps, like the 18th century, we should treat them as spies were at that time (execute them) … but that may not tactically be sound.

    sounds like you’re applying the Batman system where the chief villian must only be captured but an unlimited supply of underlings can suffer bodily damage without any other thoughts

    You can attack/assault command centers. I’m applying the “military” system. We don’t murder persons. We attack soldiers, their equipment, their communications, and their supply.

  23. What is permitted are non-murder (not attacking persons)

    Tim McVeigh didn’t attack any particular person, is he a non-murderer?

  24. Boonton,
    That’s right, Mr McVeigh was not a murderer. He was a terrorist. He killed in the manner of a soldier, but as you might notice, soldiers are sworn in and act under the command of a polity. Mr McVeigh did not have any polity to which he was accountable. Why the confusion, do you not know what soldiers do in wartime … and how that is distinguished from murder. Or are you just trying to understand how I see it? If that is the case, how do you distinguish between a soldier killing on the battlefield (or commander ordering the same) and murder, murderers, contract killers, and assassins?

  25. That’s right, Mr McVeigh was not a murderer. He was a terrorist.

    You seem to be implying those are mutually exclusive categories.

  26. Boonton,
    No. I’m not. Some terrorists are murders. I’m trying to establish a semantic difference (perhaps murder/terror is the wrong pair of terms) between killing a particular person and killings that soldiers do. A soldier does not attack a position and try to kill Yoshi … he kills the opposition that he finds at that position. A terrorist killing is more akin to that, a terrorist blows up a bus station or building for the psychological effect, policy reaction, and news noise … he is not aiming to kill any particular person at a location (typically). That is the typical terrorist attack. Other terrorist actions, e.g., assassination of political leaders … are murders. Also, terrorists may also be run of the mill first degree murderers, i.e., kill particular individuals with plan and intent ’cause they want to and (clearly) don’t value life highly.

    How do you term the difference between what a soldier does and a terrorist and a gal who kills her husband for the insurance payout?

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