Report: Torture of Abu Zubaida Yielded Nothing of Value and He Was Not a High-Ranking Member of Al Qaeda

torture -abu ghraib225px-george-w-bushThe Washington Post is reporting that the torture ofhigh-value captive, Abu Zubaida produced nothing but false leads — in direct contradiction of suggestions by former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who endorsed the torture program and use of waterboarding. Moreover, the report indicates that the Administration quickly learned that Zubaida was not the high-profile, highly placed Al Qaeda operative that they told the public. I discussed the latest developments on this segment of Countdown.

The greatest irony is that the only useful information came before the Bush Administration tortured the suspect. No plot was foiled as suggested by the torture and Zubaida was not as President George W. Bush had publicly described him, “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations.” It turns out that Zubaida was not even an official member of al-Qaeda,

The Bush torture program is a wonderful example of not just the time-proven junk that comes from torture, but also the value of legal process as a way to acquiring legitimate information in legitimate ways. Putting aside the obvious immorality of the program, the reports show how we tortured people for little more advantage than the visceral and political benefits of “getting tough on terrorism.” It turns out that we sold our collective soul pretty cheap in craeting this torture program. The question is now whether Obama will continue to buy into the same cover-up by continuing to block a special counsel.

For the full story, click here.

87 thoughts on “Report: Torture of Abu Zubaida Yielded Nothing of Value and He Was Not a High-Ranking Member of Al Qaeda

  1. Are we at the point yet where we can begin to assume that the whole torture program came from the febrile (or feeble perhaps?)minds of sadists? These men Bush/Cheney ordered torture because they could and no doubt derived a vicarious pleasure reading the reports. I state this with perfect seriousness because it is the most logical conclusion to be drawn as to a program proven to be ineffective, yet pursued with ferocity. Our public discourse all too often makes the assumption that our leaders have a greater purpose in mind in the programs they pursue, they are human and that informs their actions. I’ve always believed for instance that Bush wanted to invade Iraq to prove himself a better man than his father. I believe now that those who pursued torture did it for their strange pleasures and justified it with lies because they were more ashamed of being found out for their sickness, than worried about national security.

  2. JT, I will tune in at 8pm on KO…

    I wish there was a way that our core of ‘turlees’ could commiserate
    – aside from the the inet check box – which is a smidge of an upgrade but not one I choose to utilize, personally…

    …I want more.

  3. People who study torture clearly state that it does not work. bush’s torture program was effective on a political level and it is my belief that it’s purpose was for propaganda/control of our citizens. In that respect it was and in some ways still is, effective. There are still people who believe bush and cheney were the greatest presdients ever because they were “tough”. Nothing could be further from the truth, but they have staunch defenders of the faith even now. That others suffered at all and especially for such a hideous purpose is unconscienable. Torture must be repudiated by this govt. and our people, not just by word but by deed. I await the appointment of a special prosecutor.

  4. len,

    Would you provide links to the papers written about torture by the “impartial investigators” who feel torture is effective? Would you please show how they arrived at their conclusions?

  5. Jill,
    len and his troll counterparts do not like to worry about difficult things like “the facts”. They just spew out their lies and misinformation to try to “kill” the discussion about Bush and his minions being war criminals.

  6. 10/4 on that one rafflaw! At least we know they’re scared or they wouldn’t be bothering with trolling, so that’s, as Marth Stewart would say, “a good thing!” Trolling telegraphs fear, always.

  7. Jill,
    You are quick on the response! You are right that the trolls are afraid of the progressive thoughts that are on display here on Prof. Turley’s site.

  8. JT:

    Great work on Countdown as mentioned elsewhere. I only wish you had more time to explain the obligations we have under the UN Convention Against Torture and our duty to investigate or extradite these self-incriminating thugs. The issue is too important for a 2 minute spot. The BBC did a half hour about this development on its “World Service,” radio program.

  9. Washington Post!


    What a lark! A near bankrupt newspaper run by left wingers “reports” on the news.


  10. Jonathan,

    Thank you for speaking directly and forcefully to this issue. We need people like you to speak the truth about the powerful. I saw your words from last week quoted so many places. I’m certain what you said last night will resonate for many again.

  11. tiller,
    Typical right-wing strategy, shoot the messenger when you can’t refute the facts. Nice try troll. Care to grace us with your arguement on the benefits of using torture?

  12. Jill and others:

    I dont think the right is afraid, I think they disagree. Having seen some of the evidence from people on this site, I do agree that this should be looked into and if Bush/Cheney did sanction torture (and it does look that way) then they should be taken to task.

    I used to think that Bush was a good president but have reconsidered my position especially in light of the TARP last fall and the evidence as provided by the people on this site. I dont think many on the right have really looked at what you all take for granted and dont want to. They think that Bush kept another attack from happening, enough said.

    I think you make a mistake in thinking that the right is afraid of the idea that Bush should be tried for war crimes, they are not, they think it is stupid and has no merit. When I tell my conservative friends about it they laugh and say it will never happen.

    Personally, I no longer agree with them but that is beside the point (I typically give them the link and tell them to do a little research). But it is a mistake to think they are afraid and I do believe that even if you could bring charges against Bush and Cheney there would be such a political firestorm from the right that any attempts would be to no avail.

    If they do go to trial what kind of punishment would they get? I dont think you can hang them, maybe a few years in prison? Would a few years in prison even set the record straight or just the fact that they were prosecuted be enough?

  13. Bron,

    There have been studies of the American people on war crime prosecutions. A majority of our population, left and right, would like to see investigation and prosecution proceed. I think any person of conscience, right or left, would want this. I know cheneybush have hardcore supporters that don’t want investigations under any circumstances, but these supporters are small in number.

  14. Mike Spindell
    1, March 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm
    Are we at the point yet where we can begin to assume that the whole torture program came from the febrile (or feeble perhaps?)minds of sadists?


    Absolutely. Torture doesn’t work and that is well known. There are only two explanations for ordering torture or carrying it out; they have no empathy (So?), or they enjoy it. Can one not watch almost any interview of Dick Cheney and view the flat affect and absence (or rejection) of any moral consideration of the effect of his actions? This is characteristic of a sociopath.

    Bush IMO is demented. Seriously, he suffers from some form of dementia or organic brain damage. I actually see a lot of people that speak, twitch, have facial expressions (constant smirking etc) inappropriate to their speech or the topic at hand. My dad’s 93, in a nursing home and sliding into it himself. I see a lot of people that exhibit the same characteristics where he lives.

    I also have some experience with alcoholics and much of Bush’s behavior is characteristic of long-time drinkers actively maintaining a low level buzz. I always suspected that Bush spent so much time at his Crawford ranch to dry out when his drinking started to get out of hand.

    I have long suspected that there is more at work in explaining many of the positions taken by the hard right than simply an ideological point of view. There are IMO some very sick people driving the neocon agenda and Republican party.

  15. Torture doesn’t have to work all the time.

    In fact, if torture only works 30% of the time, countless lives might be saved.

    I recall a silly argument where the point was made that we had to deal with Hamas because they were freely elected. I noted that the Nazis too, came to power by way of manipulating the electoral system.

    Had we bombed the hell out of Berlin in 1939, up to 50 million lives would have been saved.

    We are under no obligation to deal with racist and bigoted Hamas as equals any more than we ought to give up torture of ‘ticking bombs’ because sometimes it is ineffectual.

  16. Jill,

    I have to disagree with you. Torture does work. The point of institutionalized torture is never to gather information. That might be the justification, but the true reason is something different. Torture is used to gain power by making people afraid.

    I’m parroting Orwell, but that is because I happen to think he was right.

  17. “In fact, if torture only works 30 haven’ts been used to make people confess to crimes they% of the time, countless lives might be saved.”

    Your statement is ludicrous on its’ face. Historically torture has always been used to make people confess to crimes they didn’t commit (Spanish Inquisition)or to have them renounce a certain belief. It works very well for that and probably if I was ever tortured I would confess to anything the torturers wanted, in great detail and with all the creativity I could muster. So would you and your Macho Types at Pajamas’s Media who supported two deranged draft dodgers as they got their vicarious thrills by ordering torture and seeing the reports and videos.

    “Had we bombed the hell out of Berlin in 1939, up to 50 million lives would have been saved.”

    More macho crap. The history is, for you intellectually challenged Pajama guys that the Republican Party, with Prescott Bush in the lead, prevented FDR from going to war in 1939. You guys like to talk tough, but in my life I’ve found the “tougher” the rhetoric the more cowardly the talker. Why don’t you stay at your own blog, or is it that things are so unprofitable over there, that you earn a little extra on the side by playing the Troll.

    By the way the comment you put forth is not only stupid from a logical standpoint, it makes no sense. It’s amazing who gets a website these days and how little qualification they need.

  18. SC&A:

    “Torture doesn’t have to work all the time.

    In fact, if torture only works 30% of the time, countless lives might be saved.”


    Certainly true for the ethically barren, morally bereft, dishonorable, and those with no sense of nor desire for personal dignity or any scintilla of human compassion. We can justify anything with your logic –even banning left hand turns for motor vehicles. Stupid, thy name is neo-con.

  19. MikeS:

    what is Pajama’s Media?

    Is that a porn type thing, like naked news? they have hot babes in slinky night gowns? Is that why they are dodging a draft?

  20. SC&A, others have properly responded to your ludicrous torture argument. What I find interesting is the principle underlying your “logic,” the proposition that it is acceptable for certain segments of the population to suffer if it is beneficial to the majority. This is usually explained by those less honest in their amorality by casting the argument solely in economic terms. For example, it is better for the elderly poor to live in dilapidated and understaffed nursing homes than to expect the majority to pay for minimum staffing and care standards. It is better for millions of people to do without health care than to expect the majority to provide universal health coverage. It is better for the homeless to sleep under bridges and overpasses rather than to expect the majority to pay for programs to provide shelter. It is better for the wrongfully convicted to be executed rather than to commit the funds necessary to provide an effective right to appellate review. The principle behind the principle, if you will, is the unspoken belief that the powerless have themselves to blame for their condition, and it is not the responsibility of the rest of us to do anything about it. Nice work. I think you need to go back to school and get the education you apparently missed the first time around.

  21. Bron,
    Sigmund, Carl and Alfred (SC&A), run a blog for the attempted conglomerate of blogs known as Pajama’s Media. As you can tell I’ve got little respect for them but follow their link and make up your own mind.


  22. MikeA:

    “It is better for millions of people to do without health care than to expect the majority to provide universal health coverage.”

    It is not the responsibility of the majority to provide health care for people that dont have it.
    Our current system does provide coverage for people that cannot afford proper care as the following illustrates:

    I have a woman that we have known for about 20 years that cleans our house and she has no insurance and she had a stroke last year. She got excellent care which I personally witnessed and once she was over the main hospital stay she was sent to a local rehabilitation hospital for about 4 weeks to get rehabilition, she is now about 95% recovered, she refuses to do her excercises. She paid nothing for this care. From my perspective and this very limited ad hoc survey our health care system works very well and needs no government intervention. I imagine this scenario goes on every day all over the country with similar results.

    Free markets and not government properly allocate resources.

    If we ever do get socialized medicine you older guys had better hope you never have any serious illness.

    “The only problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of the other fellow’s money”
    M. Thatcher

  23. Gyges,

    I agree with your statement on torture. Just as Mike S., mespo, Mike A. and others pointed out it doesn’t work for getting reliable information, but it does work to keep a populace in line, just as you suggest.

    On NPR there’s a big to do about a hugh terrorist attack planned for Washington D.C. This is reminding me of the alert codes which used to change to orange or red depending on what bush needed to cover up. I don’t think it’s coincidental that we hear about this spectacular potential attack exactly at the point Spain indicts some of our top officials for torture.

  24. Jill:

    I dont think the two are connected. DC is a natural target for terrorists and they have been trying to target DC for the last 8 years. I live hear and I have been wondering when it will happen not if it will happen.

    Maybe we will finally get serious about taking care of Osama and his ilk once and for all instead of the half measures we have employed.

  25. Mike-

    While I appreciate your editorial opinions, perhaps you might be able to make a more substantive argument in addressing the points I raised.

    Simply making an assertion or ad hominum does not make your arguments relevant.

  26. I am curious- is anyone making the argument that we ought NOT have bombed Berlin on Sept 10 1939?

    As for torture not working, that is a ludicrous assertion. Torture may not work all the time but there is no question that it has it’s place (even noted liberal jurist Alan Dershowitz makes that argument).

    There is a difference between torture used as a political tool and torture employed as a tool to extract information from ‘ticking bombs’.

  27. SC&A:

    “As for torture not working, that is a ludicrous assertion. Torture may not work all the time but there is no question that it has it’s place (even noted liberal jurist Alan Dershowitz makes that argument).”


    Prove it. Appeals to authority do not count.

  28. For every argument that torture does not work, there is another that says it does. To argue that torture has to be 100% effective all the time is absurd.

    See Dershowitz for the case for limited use of torture.

    I do find it interesting that you did not answer my question- “I am curious- is anyone making the argument that we ought NOT have bombed Berlin on Sept 10 1939?”

    As for the effective use of torture, the Soviets and other communist regimes used torture very effectively.

    I would be most grateful if you might answer the question I posed.

  29. SC&A:

    “I do find it interesting that you did not answer my question- “I am curious- is anyone making the argument that we ought NOT have bombed Berlin on Sept 10 1939?”


    The short answer is “no.” We,as in the United States, had no legal standing to bomb Berlin or anyone else on September 10. 1939. We certainly had not been attacked by Germany and no treaty I am aware of required our participation in any war in defense of Poland, as opposed to the British who had already signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact or the French who had also signed a guarantee with Poland to secure her borders. In addition, we had no inkling of any atrocities being committed against Jews, or gays, or gypsies et als, and thus had no humanitarian grounds to intervene. As you must know but can never admit, we likewise had not the benefit of hindsight nor could we have projected what was to happen in the future. However, I suspect you neo-con supermen who feel obliged to resort to torture to satisfy your juvenile frustrations at not getting the bogeyman, surely must likewise be able to forecast the future with utmost accuracy too.

  30. Well said Mespo. I have one question for SC&A. How did Dershowitz become an expert on torture? Besides, even if the Pope said it wasn’t immoral to torture people, the law is still the law. If Dershowitz and you want to change the law, get to work. Until that time, the law of the land and of the world is that torture is illegal and immoral.
    As to your fanciful question about bombing Berlin in 1939 that Mespo properly disposed of, it is doubtful that we would have had the ability to bomb them at that time. Our Army Air Corp. did not have the capability to make a non-stop bombing run from the US and we did not have the air bases in England at that time.

  31. “We,as in the United States, had no legal standing to bomb Berlin or anyone else on September 10. 1939.”

    Point taken.

    Would Britain have been in the right had they bombed Berlin? There were those who proposed doing just that. Or was the death of up to 50 million souls a sad but acceptable outcome?

    I suppose your remarks explain the rationale for not intervening in Rwanda, Darfur, Sierra Leonne, Congo and so on and I suppose the institutionalized racism, bigotry and hate of groups like Hamas and Hizbollah are no reason for concern either. After all, how can we predict the outcome of what decades long espousing and teaching of ugly anti Jewish sentiment in schools, in media and pulpit might be? What harm might come from teaching children that ‘We’ll finish what Hitler started’ is a perfectly acceptable form of political expression?

    Then again, Jews and blacks have a lot in common- they are reviled by the leftists (protest and insert ‘I’m a Jew or some of my best friends are Jews or blacks’ here).

    I know from your previous responses that personal insults don’t bother you (I shall only respond in kind).

    Perhaps another ‘pivot and attack’ approach might work better for you.

  32. SC&A,
    What world are you living in? You make the ridiculous claim that “… Jews and blacks have a lot in common- they are reviled by the leftists”. Have you seen the voting records of the Jewish voters and the Black voters for the last 30 or 40 years(or longer)? They have been strong backers of and major partners with the left.

  33. SC&A:

    “I suppose your remarks explain the rationale for not intervening in Rwanda, Darfur, Sierra Leonne, Congo and so on and I suppose the institutionalized racism, bigotry and hate of groups like Hamas and Hizbollah are no reason for concern either.

    I know from your previous responses that personal insults don’t bother you (I shall only respond in kind).”


    I never take offense to personal insults gurgling from neo-cons. It’s like blaming mosquitoes for being annoying. What I do take offense to is your obstinate persistence in refusing to read. I said we had no legal standing to attack since we were not attacked first, AND THEN I SAID (now here’s the important part), “we had no inkling of any atrocities being committed against Jews, or gays, or gypsies et als, and thus had no humanitarian grounds to intervene.” The latter part would cover your supposed counter-examples in Rwanda, Darfur et als, where such humanitarian grounds do exist. Like the President, I prefer to think before I speak. You on the other hand prefer to speak before you read and comprehend. That my dear man is the biggest insult of all–unfortunately it is an insult to one’s self.

    I suppose the next round will bring your “thoughtful” rebuttal to the chocolate cake recipe I just provided in this comment.

  34. rafflaw:

    Good show on the military capability question. I forgot about the limited range of our aging B-12 bombers in 1939. The Flying Fortresess (B-17) and Bolos (B-18) didn’t have much better range either so we were logistically precluded from air assault.

  35. Mespo,
    thanks, my Dad flew B-17’s and B-24’s out of Italy during WWII so I have done a little bit of reading on the subject. We must also remember that even Britain didn’t have the ability to do that kind of massive bombing at that date.

  36. Like you, I take no offense at insults from blathering lesser thinkers. I had a good laugh when you remarked that you thought before you spoke. Clearly, there is very little of that assertion in evidence.

    After 50 million deaths (and at minimum, an equal number of deaths in the still leftist revered Soviet Union), only an idiot and a pompous ass would believe that legal considerations when it comes to genocide take precedence over moral considerations (Is that because blacks and Jews make for acceptable victims as far as the left is concerned?). That the US and other western nations have done nothing to address the atrocities in Africa is shameful- that the left has dome little or nothing is even more outrageous.

    You also failed to address the institutionalized racism, hate and bigotry of the latest darlings of the left, many of whom are in the Muslim world. Of course, I can’t blame you for avoiding the issue. After all, what kind of defense can be made for those promising to ‘finish what Hitler started’. What can you say- that we have no idea what institutionalized racism, hate and bigotry can lead to?

    You are a bigot wrapped in camouflage. Like other bigots, you attempt to wrap yourself in self serving statements, phony facts and contrived realities.

    The good news is that like them, you are amusing- and irrelevant.

  37. SC&A:

    Well at least you avoided criticism of the cake recipe, but then again, it would have made your reply more sensible. No one’s condoning 50 million (?) deaths but the point is that we had no idea it was occurring until it was almost over, and Britain knew nothing more than we did. If you’re asking whether in a perfect world we would attack to stop 50 million deaths we knew were going to happen, I would say duh, yeah, but that is about as likely an occurrence as finding a terrorist with a hidden ticking time bomb. We never have certainty about the future, and thinking people don’t act based on what could possibly happen (see contra, Bush/Cheney: Iraq War Fiasco).

    The only institutional racism I see is from the right, and to prove it one need only take a gander at the tape from any McCain/Palin election rally, or just ask a member of an affected minority if they fear more from the right or the left. Your hypothetical debates about changing the course of history to suit your morals reminds of the famous SNL skit where Steve Martin asks the question, “What if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo?” Most people laughed at him, too.

  38. “The only institutional racism I see is from the right”.

    How is the left any less bigoted than the right? There are a plethora of examples of equally vicious bigotry on the left. There are legions of examples. Ask, and you shall receive.

    Also, referencing Iraq is interesting- we went to war there because Bill Clinton told the truth about Iraq. See this:

    Finally, why are you deliberately misrepresenting my remarks on institutionalized racism and bigotry? Do you not see that kind of institutionalized hate in the Arab world? Are you oblivious to it?

    If that is the case, I can provide you with all kinds of examples, though I submit that would not change your affinity for the bigots and racists.

  39. SC&A:

    Having systematically dismantled your arguments to this point, I will just not waste the time knocking your last peg from its rather loose mooring, preferring to let others decide whether or not this institutional racism assertion is like all your others. I do however note one statement from your comment, “…though I submit that would not change your affinity for the bigots and racists.” In reply, I can only say that, in truth, I ‘m not really that enamored of you.

  40. SC&A:

    I would like to see some examples of left wing bigotry. In my opinion the left dose not engage in patent bigotry. They engage more in pat the child on the head bigotry and they do it with more than just blacks. I actually dont think you can call it bigotry it is more like asymmetrical paternalism, namely the state makes suggestions for how an individual should act. The we know what is good for you type of thing.

    One more thing, if you are going to argue in here you better make sure all of your arguments are good ones and that you have all of your facts straight. I think you had a good example of how with your bomb Berlin in 1939 argument/fiasco. I dont think anyone on this site would argue that Hitler coming to power was a good thing but it really wasnt our fight at that point as Mespo pointed out and technologically infeasible as Rafflaw explained.

    As far a Rwanda and Darfur, what are you going to do? Invade a soverign nation? Anyway our military is stretched pretty thin as it is because of certain missteps in the middle east. The other problem is which side do you help? We have screwed that pooch so many times the state department must have pooch screw fatigue.

  41. “Simply making an assertion or ad hominum does not make your arguments relevant.”

    Were some of my points ad hominem? Yes they were and intentionally so. I reserve that method for when I’m dealing with a comment that is so ill thought out on its’ face and yet pernicious in its’ intent. I don’t normally like to make fun of people who attack with faulty logic, unless at heart they are doing it in service of a bloated Neocon ego. Followed your link first, saw who you were and who you were connected with and decided that beyond your stupid assertions, you weren’t worth responding to except with ridicule.

    Yet within my original comment there were two refutations of
    YOUR assertions that you failed to respond to in the comment
    referenced above. Your criticize me for making assertions and yet from your first comment all you have done is make silly assertions and strung them together with other assertions that do not follow from the original. Mespo and Rafflaw have basically demolished all your arguments and the only expert you can muster is Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz, while a renowned legal authority does not have intelligence experience and of late has rather gone off the rails with some of his ideas.

    Your gratuitously throwing in genocides, Rwanda, the USSR et. al. must have seemed impressive to you, lacking coherent logic, but were unrelated assertions on their face. The bombing the Germans in 1939 was not only a stupid assertion,
    but was proven so by Mespo and Rafflaw and a far way off point since this thread is discussing torture. However, it is
    an obvious argumentative trick, not one that bespeaks intelligence mind you, that is used as a way to string together unrelated points by Neocons in convincing their
    following that something of importance is being said. That was the same tactic in conflating Blacks and Jews, two groups that incidentally know much about survival from torture and yet overwhelmingly vote similarly. Coincidence? No. Intelligence? Yes.

    Let’s get down to cases though. Your blog is posted with a failing blog conglomerate and is looking for business and so you take your ill thought out comments on the road hoping to snare someone who likes your Limbaugh-like logic. You use the “everything but the kitchen sink” rhetorical form so loved by Neocons and get the further (in your silly mind)pleasure of “stirring up them Libruls.” You came to the wrong place because this site, unlike yours has quite a few people who really can think and believe it or not represent a wide spectrum of political thought. If you want to get some respect for your drivel, stop driveling and make some coherent, logical points and then perhaps we might even find grounds for interesting discussion..

  42. “Having systematically dismantled your arguments to this point, I will just not waste the time knocking your last peg from its rather loose mooring.”

    You continue to delude yourself and you continue the childish ‘pivot and attack’ arguments rather than address the realities I posed. That you engage in ad hominums is, as another psych blogger associate who has read your responses noted, is entirely predictable.

    You believe that as a leftist, you are a better person and therefore, whatever you believe is the only thing that matters or is correct. As someone more conservative, I believe I have a better idea and I’m willing to exchange ideas in the marketplace of free thoughts and ideas.

    To be clear- I take you to task and not classical liberals or liberal ideology. Those ideologues are open to exchange and present ideas that do not denigrate others or seek to subjugate dissident voices. To be fair, you are not alone. There are those on the right who do as you do and espouse the same kind of parochial thinking as you. I hold them in the same contempt as I hold you.

    You do not want to engage in an exchange, really (if you did, you would not have resorted the personal attacks from the onset). You believe you do not have to explain yourself or answer to anyone- because after all, you are a better person and everyone else be damned.

    In virtually every instance, you attacked me when you could not attack my arguments (the Dershowitz references on torture, for example or President Clinton’s remarks on Iraq, or Arab world bigotry and racism). You seem to believe that the business model of PJM is relevant to this discussion- a notion that is not absurd, but simply stupid. They NYT is in trouble, as is a host of other media outlets and Fox News beats CNN in the ratings. Does that mean that CNN, the NYT and their reporters as well as other less than dominant media outlets are irrelevant?

    Bron, Thank you for your remarks. I wrote too hastily re the bombing of Berlin. In my defense (poor, I concede) I am a Brit. When I spoke of ‘we’ I was thinking of the Chamberlain debacle. I should have been more clear and for that I apologize.

    That said, my overriding point is no small question. After up to 50 million deaths, how long ought we be bound to legalisms? At what point does morality come into play? In the case of Darfur for example, we hear of 200,000 to 300,000 deaths. That is misleading at best- the racially charged civil war has been going on for 2 decades with a human toll of between 2-3 million.

    We cannot talk speak of human rights if we are not willing to commit to higher ideals- and that means action. In the case of Darfur, there is nothing 50 helicopter gunships can’t cure. The janjaweed are butchers and rapists gone wild, to the cheers and applause of the regime in Khartoum.

    The fact is that Darfur is allowed to go on because we refuse to deal with the enablers- The African Union, the Arab League and other tin pot dictators, for starters. It always amuses me when people get worked up over Gaza as the frenzied slaughter in Africa goes on ignored and unanswered.

    Lastly, before I answer your question on bigotry on the right, I’d like to ask you to be more explicit. How are you defining bigotry?

    I ask because I do believe that there are an equal number of fools on the left as there are on the right. I fear examples of stupidity are equally dispersed, usually by the periphery players. I do believe that the vast majority of Americans on both side are far more centrist than the extremists would have you believe- which is bad news for those extremists. They would lose their bully pulpit and standing if they ever admitted that!

  43. SC&A, the phrase is “ad hominem.” My point was that the perceived utility of a course of action is not in itself sufficient to justify it. For example, the execution of convicted shoplifters would obviously eliminate recidivism with respect to that crime. The elimination of recidivism is a desirable goal. However, I doubt that even you would conclude from that that the execution of convicted shoplifters would be sound public policy. With regard to the issue of torture, I am rather confident from what I have read on the subject that it is not an effective tool for securing accurate information, although I have no doubt that most of us (me included) would likely confess to the most terrible crimes in the face of unendurable pain. The law in this country recognizes that and confessions procured through duress are not admissible evidence of guilt in the courts. But even were torture an effective tool for the gathering of accurate information, one would still need to grapple with the its moral propriety. From your comments I concluded that you disagree. The fact that many people are prepared to endorse torture in the interests of national security is a function of fear, which also explains why many people are prepared to surrender constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Utilizing the most extreme conceivable example to support your argument (e.g., what if someone refuses to reveal the location of a nuclear device set to explode in 24 hours?) plays to the same fear without addressing fundamental moral issues. This type of argument is frequently used by proponents of the death penalty (e.g., would you still be against the death penalty if your spouse had been raped and murdered?). Fear invites poor judgment. Fear based politics invites poor policy. Torture violates the most fundamental principles of a nation committed to individual freedom and human dignity. The torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has contributed no more to the security of this country than did the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II. Our fears have reached such an absurd level that countries (including yours) are now racing to criminalize the criticism of religious beliefs. I, for one, do not intend to live my life in fear, regardless of the constant rantings of demagogues, and will not endorse immoral policies in the interests of perceived safety.

  44. Bron, I agree with you to the extent that there is no “right” to health care under the Constitution. It is only conferred by statute. You and I disagree in that I have long believed that basic health care ought to be accorded the status of a legal right in this country. Further, it is my belief that all of the arguments about “socialized” medicine get us nowhere because the word “socialism” is used by opponents of universal health coverage as synonymous with communism and totalitarianism in an effort to confuse theories of social justice with theories of governmental structure, as though universal health coverage were a dramatic step in the march toward the creation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Moreover, various forms of “socialized” medicine already exist in this country, the Veterans Health Administration being a prime example. Finally, I disagree with your assertion that health care is already available to everyone. What has happened is that emergency rooms have become involuntary primary care centers, a highly inefficient and expensive allocation of health resources. The insurance market has not dealt with the problem because profit based institutions are not going to assume the risks associated with those most in need of health care.

  45. SC&A,
    Besides a spelling problem,”ad hominum” which you have used at least twice, you’ve got a reading comprehension problem. This is shown by your conflation of Mespo’s, Rafflaw’s and my comments and treating them as if they came from one person. Mespo did not talk about Pajama’s media, but did make the rather elegant quote. My attack on you, to reiterate for a third time was made based on the paucity of rhetorical logic in your arguments, tinged with an overlay of macho geopolitics.

    “You continue to delude yourself and you continue the childish ‘pivot and attack’ arguments rather than address the realities I posed.”

    You are also guilty of projection, since your arguments are of the “pivot and attack” variety. To wit: In your first comment you went from a statement that torture was good if only 30% effective, to comments regarding Hamas and then Nazi Germany coming to power through elections. No logical nexus existed between the two, except perhaps in your mind, which we can’t read.

    Your specific “pivot and attack” came when in reply to Mespo’s proving that the US didn’t have standing to bomb Berlin in 1939, to which you agreed by signifying “right” but then went on to state the rhetorical question would Britain have been right to Bomb Berlin? Duh! They were at war with the Germans and of course would have had that right and I know of no one, save for Nazi sympathizers, who would think otherwise. From there you state:

    “I suppose your remarks explain the rationale for not intervening in Rwanda, Darfur, Sierra Leonne, Congo and so on and I suppose the institutionalized racism, bigotry and hate of groups like Hamas and Hizbollah are no reason for concern either.”

    You have no basis to make your “suppositions” based on anything written thus far on this particular thread and in fact there is nothing that Mespo, Rafflaw or myself have written anywhere on this site that would give credence to your supposition.

    The fact is that it comes from your Neocon meme regarding “Leftists” and your repetition of that meme without any evidence of those beliefs, does not speak well for your own intellectual honesty, or more importantly self-awareness of your own prejudices.

    Finally, when you talk about terrorism and assume that I am blind to it, that is not based on anything that I have written on this site and so is a “supposition” based on a meme, as seems to be your wont. I have clearly written that I am a Jew and a supporter of Israel. I’m have also extensively written numerous comments on my disgust with Islamic Fundamentalism, in fact all fundamentalism of any religion. However, in your narrow minded ignorance you make a supposition about me that is not backed up by anything other than your incorrect pre-judgment of the Left, based on mythology rather than reality. However, the most annoying false premise that you operate on is that because I am against torture, I can’t be against terrorism. Wrong and stupid on your part. I am against torture because it is immoral and because it doesn’t work.

    Lastly, I’ve read your Dershowitz links and in the first he uses qualifiers regarding the use of torture and offers no rebuttal to the arguments put forth by Ken Roth except to say that they are naive. In fact his main point is that if you are going to torture that it should be approved by the highest levels of the Executive and Judiciary and be done openly, with responsibility taken by those levels. He offers no justification of the effectiveness of torture. The second Dershowitz quote is merely a summary of the first without sufficient detail.

    Secondly, your Bill Clinton quote from 1998 is also a misreading of what is being said and a misunderstanding of the politics involved. The Air Strike was to force the Iraqi’s to let inspections resume, which they did. When Bush chose to invade Iraq there were inspector’s on the ground and they were pretty certain that WMD’s didn’t exist. So again we see that even in your quotes your lack of reading comprehension, fueled by pre-judgment, keeps you from getting your facts straight.

    Your are being vilified for those reasons and not because you represent a Right-of-Center viewpoint. You are incapable of logical thinking and your reading comprehension is stunted by pre-suppositions that let you believe you have found supporting material. God bless you though because despite that handicap you have an ongoing blog for now. This proves that even the logically challenged can get somewhere in this world, even if it is on a second rate, attempted web conglomerate, known for the conspicuous lack of talent of its contributors.

  46. SG&A:

    “You continue to delude yourself and you continue the childish ‘pivot and attack’ arguments rather than address the realities I posed.”


    Well, I do like classic encounters, and I am not so sure how childish my strategy has been in dealing with you. That’s for the readers here to decide. By the way, I wouldn’t dismiss “pivot and attack,” so casually. That scenario seemed to work pretty well for Alexander at Arabela.

  47. In re-reading Mike S’s sage comments and the preceding drivel by our three lettered friend, I cam across this doozy by SC&A:

    “Finally, why are you deliberately misrepresenting my remarks on institutionalized racism and bigotry? Do you not see that kind of [leftist] institutionalized hate in the Arab world? Are you oblivious to it?”

    Having noted it in awe when I first read it, I forgot about it when a more inane comment followed it. Certainly, we must all admit that the Mideaster mullahs are prototypical left-of-center progressives with an overriding hate for things ancient, delusional, and totalitarian–and how they love women’s rights, I find.

  48. Mespo,

    I’m still trying to figure out what where SC&A got that 30% figure justifying torture, and what that has to do with anything.

    If I could read people’s mind 30% of the time, I could save countless lives.

  49. Gyges-

    The 30% number was not definitive. I used that only to make a point- that if only 30% of the time torture proved effective, then it was worth it, especially in the case of the ‘ticking bombs’.


    It is quite fascinating to watch you continue to engage in the same dysfunctional behavior, over and over. You have yet to engage and address the many points I have raised, preferring instead to engage in ad hominums- wryly noted inasmuch as you a point of declaring you would no longer engage me (that was a good idea. Clearly and by ant measure, engaging me me in debate is something you have studiously avoided.

    Finally, it is laughable if indeed you cannot see the open links between Hamas and the Nazis. Hamas has made no attempt to hide their bigotry and racism. ‘Abu Hitler’ is a nom de guerre adopted by many Hamas types and the promises to ‘Finish what Hitler started’ is a regular refrain, as in the lovely kindergarten ditty, ‘Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas!’. I could go on and provide examples of other examples (did you know that next to the Quran, Mein Kampf is the best selling book in Arabic?) of Arab world affinity towards Nazism.

    Of course, if you do wish to have a civilized exchange, I will be happy to reiterate the issues I have raised in a list format and we can go from there.

    As for your ‘strategy’, thanks for the chuckle. I really thought you were devoid of a sense of humor. Referring to your behavior as ‘classic’ is an absolute truth- though probably not in the way you intended.

    As I noted, my tone will always reflect your own.

  50. Gyges:

    ” I’m still trying to figure out what where SC&A got that 30% figure justifying torture, and what that has to do with anything.

    If I could read people’s mind 30% of the time, I could save countless lives.”


    Well of course he just made it up. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

    BTW If you could hit 30 baseballs out of hundred safely in the majors, you’d be in the Hall of Fame. And you’d be just as relevant as SC&A is on this topic. But alas, if “if” and “buts” were candy and nuts…

  51. SC&A,

    I understand the meaning of what you said. My point was that what you said was entirely without context, and on top of that completely irrelevant to the conversation.

    Thought experiments do not create a new reality.

  52. I have always felt that the most dangerous people are those who are really ignorant and don’t know it. This (these?)turkeys qualify, but dangerous is not quite the adjective, unless its is to themselves (self?). What is amazing is the smug blitheness that he thinks he is making cogent argument, when it has been totally ripped to shreds. He says he is British, could he be some lordling, with an unbound sense of entitlement, not justified by the reality of his lack of debate credentials? He is not even in the ballpark of logic, yet he thinks he hit the ball out of the park. Ah to be that blind to my own frailties, why I coulda had my own blog!

  53. Gyges,
    I was too enamored with my own words to realize their logical fallacy. Sort of like SC&A, don’t you think?

  54. MikeA:

    “Further, it is my belief that all of the arguments about “socialized” medicine get us nowhere because the word “socialism” is used by opponents of universal health coverage as synonymous with communism and totalitarianism in an effort to confuse theories of social justice with theories of governmental structure, as though universal health coverage were a dramatic step in the march toward the creation of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

    First of all I agree with your assertion that our health care system is in need of repair. I further believe as you do that insurance companies are part of the problem, when someone else is paying the bill there are no personal fiscal controls (Personaly I think insurance should be for catastrophic illness).

    There are other problems to caused by government regulations of insurance providers and insurance company policies, so it is a multidimensional/variable problem.

    Socialism/Communism/Totalitarianism are all stripes of the same tiger, different shades maybe. When a man is forced to pay for something he does not want or for someone he cares not one wit for he is denied basic justice, namely his rights as an individual are usurped by the state.

    The individual is the most basic minority that is protected by the constitution. Where is the justice in using the full force of the government to implement “social justice”?

    Why should doctors be forced to practice medicine? Why should patients be forced to chose a particular doctor? Why does a group of government employes get to decide the level of care that someone will get? There is certainly no justice in any of that.

  55. Bron,

    I was wondering if you object to our socialized highway system. Do you refuse, on priciple, to drive on any road that is not a private company toll road? If you have an accident on the road will you accept EMT help? Do you object to our socialized police force? Will you allow them to assist you in a crime or do you pay for a private security force and wait for them to assist you? Do you accept help from our socialized fire depts? If you accept these types of services as social goods why do you object to health care being another type of social good that we band together to provide each other.

    Right now it is private insureres who determine what doctor you will see and what proceedures you will be allowed (unless you are independently wealthy and extremely healthy). Why is it better to have 200 different plans telling people which doctor they may see and what coverage they will have? Other countries with national health care do not restrict your doctor choice. We do. HMO’s tell you what doctor to see, or if you may even see a specialist at all. Without insurance you can have any choice you want, if you can pay for it. If you can’t choice has no meaning.

  56. Jill:

    I pay taxes for all of those things so no I dont mind using them. I agree that some things need to be paid for by tax money such as the protective forces you illustrate above. The interstate highway system was developed as part of our national defense and thus should be funded with tax payer dollars. A person who is rational would want to allocate tax money to those services even if taxation were voluntary.

    I believe that medicine is an industry like Ford or GE, its practioners are individuals (doctors) that have their own businesses in most cases. Should the government be able to control an entire industry? I think we call that Facism.

    I think government controlled medicine is a very bad idea and I have not seen one good argument for it. My favorite example for free market healthcare is laser eye surgery, insurance companies dont pay for it and the price is reasonable and the technology gets better and better because doctors are trying to make more money by increasing the number of patients they can treat in a given time and by reducing complications and call backs. If insurance companies paid for it the cost would be $10,000 per eye, if government paid for the procedure it would be $20,000 per eye and you would not be able to get an appointment for 6 months.

    Free markets efficiently allocate resources, it has worked in every civilization in every time period when tried. Centralized control of resources has failed in every civilization in every time period when tried. What makes you think that centralized control of healthcare will be any different?

  57. Bron,

    Each one of the things mentioned above is also an industry. You are making a choice. You are willing to support these industries with your tax dollars but you are not willing to support the health care industry. Rational people can and do make the same rational choice about healthcare as is made concerning all the other industries mentioned above.

    We do not now live, nor have we ever lived in a free market economy. As Dean Baker put it, if the bankers were good capitalits they would be demanding their own dissolution. Egypt was a centralized economy that last a rather long time. Check into Germany’s health care system if you haven’t already. It might not seem so bad to you.

  58. Jill, “You are willing to support these industries with your tax dollars but you are not willing to support the health care industry”

    To sort of piggyback on this particular statement we do support this industry via Medicaid and Medicare and NIH as well as inflated prices for all health care to treat the uninsured that show up at a hospital’s emergency room. We also have two medical industries in this country: the private monopoly driven by the Insurance companies and the public one subsidized by taxpayers for those that qualify for those programs. Everybody else just does without.

    We also pay for a lack of health care in a myriad of ways through Social Security and other Federal and State programs that tend to people that can’t work due to conditions that could have been taken care of with early and appropriate health prevention and care.

    Drug resistant TB is poised to become a problem for this country. TB is a growing problem. TB is to America’s poor what cholera is to a third world country. A good public health industry could nip it in the bud. Don’t hold your breath.

    We don’t need to set up another industry, just ramp up Medicaid which is probably the best run most cost effective gov. program around, and decrease the monopolization of the medical industry by insurance companies and big pharmacy.

  59. Jill:

    I agree we dont have a free market economy because of the federal reserve bank (something Thomas Jefferson warned us about) and other things.

    What is wrong with profit? It has given us the best economy in the world and we are generaly a free society. Political freedom and economic freedom are tied together.

    On another note my wife just found a NSDAP armband in pristine condition given to her by her aunt (a member of the DAR and Dames of the Magna Carta I might add, I dont know if there is any connection) who had traveled in Germany in the early thirties. This is an original authentic piece that for the right price, I would be willing to send to PNAC with the blessings of all on this blog. If they are going to act the part they should look the part as well. Otherwise I will burn it and remember the terrible things that were done to individuals in the name of National Socialism.

  60. Lottakatz,

    I think you made many excellent points. I add to your list the basic research done by our universities and the NIH that is taken by private industry and sold back to us at greatly inflated prices. We are paying for our health care in the most stupid, expensive, dangerous and immoral way possible. I mentioned Germany as a possible way to go because they do cover everyone but do it through private insurers. It might be the way the US would be most likely to cover everyone because the private companies would still be in business.


    I am not against profit. There is no reason why everyone can’t be covered and everyone in the healthcare industry still make plenty of money. I can’t really agree that we are the best economy in the world. We are collapsing as we speak. Our banks are zombies, many of our people are starving, homeless and without their basic needs being met. We are losing around 600,000 jobs a month with little to no social safety net. Check out Dean Baker’s blog if you have time and see what you think of what he’s writing. He’s funny but he backs up his claims.

    I think your idea of sending the armband to PNAC is great. It makes a strong statement and I think it’s admirable of you to have thought about doing this type of protest.

  61. Jill:

    I dont think it is as bad as you think it is, although it may be worse than I think it is. The relative unemployment is only about 5-7% I think they say at any one time there are about 3-4% unemployed, people that just dont want to work.

    Not all of the banks are “zombies” some are very well capitalized and did not engage in bad loans. I know some industries have been hit very hard but I think things are starting to turn around a little bit. I wish Bush had not done the TARP that was very stupid, actually I think it was criminal and if he is tried for anything it should be for screwing up the economy (so if you can send him down the river for torture good on you).

    I am sorry for people who have lost their jobs, but you know what I lost mine about 16 years ago and started a company of my own, I make more money, have more free time and actually like what I do now. I hope these people look at a lost job as an opportunity to become a small business owner. HP started in a garage and look at it now. Small businesses create many jobs and offer much opportunity to an individual. Thomas Jefferson would be on board with the idea, not too much power in the hands of a single corporation but spread out.

    People need to do for themselves and if they cant then a little help is necessary to get over the bad times. But they should at least try before running to Uncle Sam.

  62. “I agree we dont have a free market economy because of the federal reserve bank (something Thomas Jefferson warned us about) and other things.”

    Your point is correct but doesn’t look beyond itself. We have a Federal Reserve because we’ve never had a free market.
    Free Market’s are a mythology coined by Adam Smith, who it turns out believed that markets should be controlled, and then used by the wealthy as a mantra to ensure just the opposite.

    Look at the panoply of American History. Until the end of slavery a free market didn’t exist because the South had the advantage of slave labor, thus skewing the marketplace. During the war Lincoln granted generous Rights of Way to develop a transcontinental railroad. This government intervention made rich men, richer and they promptly took over the government and used their right of Way in land grabs.

    The genocide of Native Americans from the start was done by the government for the benefit of the wealthy. The US interventions in the Caribbean, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Philippines had the same results. This is true also of our ME policy. Besides that, the government passed numerous laws through time all to benefit the wealthy and to impoverish the rest.

    The Federal Reserve is an extra-Governmental Agency by and for the bankers. The only government control is that the chairman is appointed by the President for a six year term.

    What you think of as the “Free Market” is in reality a rigged game that benefits only the rich. I know that Ayn dressed it up in all sorts of fancy clothing, but it is dressed like whore at heart. It has nothing to do with capitalism, as it’s practiced in this world, except as a phony shield to cover up the greed and excess of some wealthy people.

    Regarding Health Care check the statistics. The cost of overhead for medicaid and medicaid is 3%, while it is about 20% with the private insurers. What entitles someone that’s rich to get better health care than I can afford? Why should his children’s teeth be straighter? My wife and I have been lucky to have excellent health coverage and to be honest without it I personally would have died 27 years ago with my first heart attack. I have spent more time in Hospital ER’s than you want to know about, both as a patient and in my work. The difference in care for less affluent people is so significant that the lack of equalization is sort of a passive genocide.

    I am still supporting my youngest daughter who is still in school, yet she has aged out of my health plan. The cheapest basic medical plan I can find her, that delivers good protection is $2,400 a year. I already spend more than 20% of my fixed (modest)income on her and have laid out more than $5,000 in the last year for dental work. I don’t believe that just because you’ve been successful businesswise
    your kids are entitled to better health care than mine. I’ve been self-supporting since I was 18. Worked my ass off all my life, often with two jobs. Worked my way through college and grad school. Unfortunately, I became disabled at the age of 60 and had to retire. These years would have been my best earning period because as I became sick I was due to take over the running of a major NYC non-profit. Not putting yours down, I will match my hard work with yours or anyone else. There is no logical reason why we all should not be entitled to excellent health care.

    The socialism bogeyman you raise is just that a fantasy. Please do some research and understand what socialism really is and if you do you will see that National Health Care isn’t in the ballpark. You’ve got a good and open mind. Please use it to get out beyond Randian fantasy and look at the real world clearly. The only socialism in America is socialism for the rich, everyone else gets shafted by a non
    existent Free Market.


  63. Bron, I write only to supplement Mike S.’s excellent post with some observations from legal history on the myth of the “free market.” Here are but three examples:
    1. We are all familiar with the corporation as the preferred vehicle for conducting business. The predecessor was the chartered company, a grant by the sovereign (read the king) to a favored or politically powerful group of individuals to engage in a particular business, typically to the exclusion of others (recall the East India Company). This permitted the creation of monopolies and phenomenal wealth, for both the sovereign and the favored groups. The issuance of such charters eventually became a function of state government, but were not initially granted as a matter of right.
    2. During the industrial revolution, the courts accommodated public policy which favored unrestricted growth of new industry by fashioning doctrines to protect nascent technologies (the railroads are a great example) from liability claims. The rules relating to assumed risk, contributory negligence and fellow servant were all developed to reduce exposure for damages resulting from negligent acts and hazardous activities.
    3. The adoption of workers’ compensation laws was not a response to demands by labor, but by business owners seeking to restrict the right to sue for injuries arising out of dangerous working conditions.
    4. Forget what you have heard recently about the “sanctity” of contracts. Contracts are revised, amended and entirely abrogated on a daily basis in our bankruptcy courts. Reorganization plans proposed for insolvent businesses can be “crammed down” (if they meet certain statutory criteria) even agsinst the wishes of objecting creditors, and unsecured creditors (typically small business providers of goods and services) are frequently left with nothing even if the debtor business continues to operate.
    The point is that state and local governments have always found ways to aid business development and have routinely utilized tax dollars for that purpose. When business gets out of control, we impose regulations (e.g., antitrust laws, securities laws) to restore balance.
    The concept of a “free market” is an ideal. The Randian concept of the “rational” individual is an ideal. Neither matches reality. Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote, “The life of the law is not logic, but experience.” Our experience teaches us that neither individuals nor institutions are rational. Therefore, it is necessary to impose restrictions for the common good as we perceive it from time to time.

  64. Thanks Mike S. and Mike A.

    I missed reading much about Mr. Holmes and so many others. Thanks for the Holmes quote.

  65. MikeA & MikeS:

    I have thought a good deal about free markets and I understand that we really dont have one now and havent for a long time. I honestly believe that you and I spending our money as we see fit is better than the government allocating resources for various industries and social programs.

    Look at the internet for example right now it is about as free a market as you can get, there is very little regulation and no real taxation and look at it. In about 15 years we have gone from dial up to DSL with amazing new services produced. I can meet with engineers in India with go to meeting and I can send PDF drawings to my clients for submission. It is all so fantastic and produced by individuals trying to make a buck. Look at all the people that have been put to work, that make money on company stock (or at least will when the market comes back). And think about all the industries that are yet to be invented, the fabulous ideas that we have yet to even think about or cant because the technology is not yet here that will lead to those miraculous break throughs. All that is a product of economic and political freedom and everyone can participate to the level of their abilities.

    I just have a small little company and would like to grow in the future and I truly believe the best way is in an environment of economic freedom. I know there are bad actors in business, I see them regularly at all levels and they are to be ridiculed but the vast number of businessmen and women are honest and upstanding, wanting nothing more than an even playing field. I think government is the problem and causes, through the Federal reserve the constant boom and bust that we experience (MikeS had a link that talked about that issue).

    I want people as happy and healthy as you guys do, I just think the private sector can do it better than government. People are people, the government dosent have a monopoly on good people trying to do the right thing any more than the private sector does. All things being equal and no disrespect to people that are engaged in public service, I will trust the businessman to produce what I need for a fair price every time over the government because they [government] are not spending their money, they are spending our money.

    In conclusion I heard Gordon Browns speech, or at least a part of it, and it was about the new world order and the classic “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” although phrased a little differently. So I have a feeling we are pretty much going to get socialism in this country. So we shall see how this experiment works out, I hope not like all the other times but one never knows.

    Anyway I will never believe (unless I see tangible evidence to the contrary) that government control of the means of production will provide a better lifestyle to more people than capitalism.

  66. “Look at the internet for example right now it is about as free a market as you can get, there is very little regulation and no real taxation and look at it.”

    The Internet was developed by the Federal Government. It never would have happened as a free entity if it had been developed by private business. Why? That’s obvious they would have charged for everything to make money, while at the same time controlling content. The latter is what the major internet players want to do now, hence the battle for internet autonomy.

    Most of the drugs created are done through government funded research and then handed over to the drug companies for free and they then make a profit on it. This is true for many industries where government funding has driven discovery.

    “I know there are bad actors in business, I see them regularly at all levels and they are to be ridiculed but the vast number of businessmen and women are honest and upstanding, wanting nothing more than an even playing field.”

    What you say may be true for small companies but it isn’t for major corporations, which is how they got that way in the first place. A corporations main responsibility is to produce profits for its’ shareholders. Lately, this has become even more confused by the need to drive up stock prices, connected with the CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s etc. income dictated by stock options. Instead of innovating and maintaining the security of the firm, the emphasis is on quarterly profits and the driving force is the greed of the top executives. That’s why you see Circuit City in bankruptcy, because last year they fired their most experienced and best paid sales staff to spike the quarterly profits. Guess what sales tanked.

    Now I don’t know what you heard in Gordon Brown’s speech, but I do know a lot about Socialism and Communism. Why, unlike most people who come at it academically, I had to deal with actual socialists and communist during my Union Activist days in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some were nice people, but in the main they were followers of their particular party lines and too me that is stupid. Socialism in essence is complete government control over all the means of production and of the ensuing market.

    To have government provide certain services that benefit people as a whole is not socialism despite what Rand or other conservative know-nothings tell you. No one on the Left who is not a Socialist (Communism is a subset)believes in that. Even the so-called “socialist” states like Denmark, Sweden, etc. do not believe in controlling the means of production and so are in no way socialist except in the feeble minds of some, supposedly conservative thinkers which are trying to scare people.

    I personally believe that certain services should be run by the government because the government can do it better and more humanely. Health Care is not one of these since the proposals for health care are insurance based, just as is flood insurance for instance. That the government can do a better job is obvious. For one reason there is the great disparity in overhead costs which I mentioned in my previous posts. The second reason is that private insurers in their drive to make profits try to deny reasonable services to those in need.

    Just as an example from my personal experience. I use a lot of Nitroglycerin each month to control my angina. My drug plan, which is a good one, has on record a prescription from my Doctor specifying how much I need monthly. Frequently if I have a bad month with angina I run out before months end and have to pay 4x as much to get my refill because my drug plan won’t recognize that people with angina have their ups and downs. Angina is heart pain and very unpleasant, luckily I can afford the extra price, but what about someone like me who can’t. I can assure you that the nature of Angina is such that without Nitro, that someone would wind up making a 911 call and perhaps taken to the ER, not to say the 10% of the time they suffer a heart attack.

    The best reason for national health care is that it would make our businesses competitive with all the major industrial countries that already have it, because employers cost per employee would drop. now as a good capitalist you might say my employee’s health is none of my business, but then you might well be up a creek when a key employee takes sick and is frequently unavailable. it’s in your business interests to ensure that that person is getting the best health care possible.

    As to the other services I cite Railroads, Airlines, mail delivery, police, fire people, EMS, armed forces, prisons, road building, etc. There have been boondoggles and overpricing of all of the above when run by private enterprise. They are services, not means of production and government can do it better and cheaper. In doing so government would in no way be socialistic in the true sense.
    You are responding to a myth and a bogeyman that doesn’t exist, but is put out there as propaganda by people who want our world run by a rich elite and would be the first to put you out of business if it would be profitable. As usual, don’t take what I have to say as gospel but use it as a direction for doing research on your own.


    Mike A.,
    Thank you for your comments which put some needed historical perspective on my comments.

  67. MikeS:

    I cant deny that you do make some good points.
    Granted there are some things that government should provide, roads, fire and rescue, military, etc. I dont think they should be involved in drug development though because that is funded by tax payer dollars and I dont get any benefit from the drug company (maybe I will if I have some sort of ailement later on).

    The internet was developed for the military which in my mind is an acceptable use of tax payer dollars, providing for the security of the populace is a legitimate function of government. That it was given to the people is a good thing. And I agree that not one particular coporation should have control over the internet.

    But ask yourself why are people seeking internet autonomy? Because it is a free market and has provided amazing contributions to our society. It is virtually the one place that people are truly free, from taxes, political correctness, thought police, government intrusion into our lives, etc. That is what I want for society as a whole.

    Look at this site for example, you think my views are out in left field and I think that some of yours are but JT has pretty much let all opinions be expressed freely as long as they are cordial, he has provided a forum for free speech with no type of coercion.

    For example the extra tax on cigarettes is a form of coercion it is soft paternalism. When government raised the tax on cigarettes recently they are trying to get people to quit (I dont smoke and never will because it is a bad habit that causes you to age prematurely and is not good for the heart and lungs). When and if national health care is implemented the government will be involved in every aspect of our lives and will do so logically because “they” are paying for it (even though we will be). I dont want to live in a society that will tell me I cannot eat a steak or smoke a cigar once in awhile. That is where all this stuff leads to eventually-the state is your master. I personally do not want a master, I am no ones bitch.

    Almost everyone on this site appears to be pro-constitution so I cant understand the dichotomy. You are for individual freedom but you are willing to give it up for government control of health care and logically that is what has to happen. And I do believe the health care system is badly flawed and needs to be revamped so that there are some safety nets for people that cannot afford it.

    For example here in Fairfax, Virgina property rights have basically been nullified because of what we call the Chesapeake Bay Act, there are some areas that are designated Resource Protected Areas (RPA) and you cannot build in them because they are buffer zones for the watersheds that connect to the Bay. So if you want to put a pool in or an addition or you want to level out your backyard, too bad if you have an RPA that you are encroaching. The science on this is bad because the farm communities are exempt and most of the Bays problems come from chicken and pig farms and run off from tilled fields. It has created a huge nightmare for the home owner who now must pay thousands of dollars to engineers (it is a soft tax) to help them navigate the permit waters. And these people are very sanctimonious about it, they are “saving” the environment (my ass).

    Government only takes away rights.

    By the way Wal-Mart has a perscription drug plan that may help you save some money on the angina meds.

  68. Bron,

    I could be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure most gov’t research grants go to universities and Research hospitals. The drug companies have to provide their own funding. That’s drugs are so expensive (until the patent is up and you can get a generic brand), the last number I heard cost wise was something like 800 million per ever new drug developed (I’m not sure if that factors in all the failures it takes to get one success). The companies have to recoup that cost, production costs, and make a profit. Now if you want to have a discussion as to the appropriateness of the government funding research, that’s another issue than drug companies. I don’t know where you stand on that, so I won’t make any assumptions.

    I just want to remind you for every “bad” environmental law, there are scores of good ones that make sure your drinking water is clean, your air is pure, use of your property (you couldn’t get use from land contaminated by industrial by-products). Your right to do what you want with your property ends when it starts directly effecting MY life or property (thus noise ordinances, bans on keeping wild animals, etc.).

  69. “But ask yourself why are people seeking internet autonomy? Because it is a free market and has provided amazing contributions to our society. It is virtually the one place that people are truly free, from taxes, political correctness, thought police, government intrusion into our lives, etc. That is what I want for society as a whole.”

    Good point but don’t you realize that it’s the major internet corporate entities that are trying to gain control over the internet. It is capitalism out of control and in your type of free market society the various corporations would control the content. Government is what keeps the internet free.

    I am against the extra tax on cigarettes and I don’t smoke either. I’m against it because it falls primarily on people with less resources. You need to get that this is the way the anti-tax faux conservatives get around the need to raise revenues. They use nuisance taxes that fall on the less affluent unfairly and then lower progressive income tax rates that balance the burden more fairly. This is usually Republican strategy, but many Democrats are guilty of it too.

    In Florida where I live there is no State Income Tax, but a high sales tax, auto fees and all kinds of other fees that distribute the nurden of government unfairly. If you protest a ticket you have to pay a $69 court fee. Meanwhile police, firemen and teachers get low pay, while real estate moguls get tax breaks and incentives.

    As for the RPA, have you noticed that most of the best places to live, seaside for instance, are taken up by the very, very rich, either for residence, hotel or industry. Without laws like this the natural resources owned by us all would all become private property and people will have to begin paying a fortune, or even be excluded from going to the beach. Are all regulations prudent, of course not, but we need them to ensure that rights of all the public are preserved.

    While it is true that I’m greatly concerned about our constitutional rights, I believe that they are most threatened by capitalism without government oversight and regulation. See the current banking crisis. Government should represent all of us and not just corporations and the wealthy. The real meaning of “free market” as has been used by people with money and that has been true since Adam Smith
    coined the term, is free market for the peasants and government largesse for the elite.


  70. Bron, picking up (again) on Mike S.’s point about peasants, the only free markets are vegetable stands operated by unsubsidized farmers.

  71. Gyges/MikeA/MikeS:

    I see all of your points and truly believe that true capitalism along with a restoration of real constitutional oversight would lead to a more just society.

    One question to MikeA where in the constitution does it talk about and allow for subsidies to farmers?

    To MikeS where does it say that rich people can get money from FEMA to rebuild after a hurricane?

    To Gyges where does it say that I cant build an addition or a pool on my property?

    I think you guys think that I am on board with corporate subsidies and other such nonsense, I can assure you I am not, why in the hell would I want my tax dollars going to some farmer not to grow peanuts or corn? Or to help orange growers advertise orange juice?

    I also think all forms of taxes are way to high, how much money does it take to run a state?

  72. Oh and since tax dollars were used to develop the internet I guess Microsoft is SOL. But how much of the infrastructure is now owned by private companies? I do think they have a right to charge a fee if they want to for the use of their servers or what ever other capital stock they may have that we use.

    If Prof. Turley wanted to charge a fee I would be willing to pay as long as I thought it was reasonable, I have certainly learned a good deal and that is worth something.

    But it would be my choice to use it or not use it. The government also has plans to tax the internet, you want them doing that? Check your phone bill for the tax they charge and how much of the other portion is due to government regulations?

  73. Bron,

    Where does the Constitution say you can’t kill somebody? Or where does it say you can’t run a red light?

  74. Gyges:

    what I am trying to say inperfectly is that farm and corporate subsidies are in my mind illegal under the original intent of the constitution.

  75. “I do think they have a right to charge a fee if they want to for the use of their servers or what ever other capital stock they may have that we use.”

    They want to charge fees for the rapidity of your E mails and or signal reception. So let me get this straight, you’d be alright with a Major Corporation, paying money you couldn’t afford as a small business man, to then offer services that you would be unable to compete with due to lack of available funds? Doesn’t sound like a free market to me. As a small businessman you should see the value of government regulating the market to protect the small innovator from the corporate sharks. If that doesn’t happen, soon there will only be one major corporation running each business sector and able to set any prices they want. This is the real world problem unanswered by any of the Objectivist or Libertarian theorist.


  76. MikeS:

    what prevents other competitors from getting into a market? If the profits are good you will have a lot of people trying to grab market share and prices should come down as competition insues.

  77. Gyges:

    “Where does the Constitution say you can’t kill somebody? Or where does it say you can’t run a red light?”

    Excellent point Gyges.

    In fact, the constitution confers no power whatsoever to congress to promulgate a criminal law. Why? Because the States never specifically empowered the fed to do so.

    But, I hear you ask, how did we get so many federal criminal laws?

    Perhaps the author of one of the most respected horn books on criminal law can shed light on the topic:

    Prof. Charles Whitebread:

    in media res…

    “The third and most interesting thing for you all as judges about the Harrison Act was its structure, because the structure of this law was very peculiar and became the model for every single piece of Federal legislation from 1914 right straight through 1969. And what was that model?

    It was called the Harrison Tax Act. You know, the drafters of the Harrison Act said very clearly on the floor of Congress what it was they wanted to achieve. They had two goals. They wanted to regulate the medical use of these drugs and they wanted to criminalize the non-medical use of these drugs. They had one problem. Look at the date — 1914. 1914 was probably the high water mark of the constitutional doctrine we today call “states’ rights” and, therefore, it was widely thought Congress did not have the power, number one, to regulate a particular profession, and number two, that Congress did not have the power to pass what was, and is still known, as a general criminal law. That’s why there were so few Federal Crimes until very recently.”



  78. Bron: “where in the constitution does it talk about and allow for subsidies to farmers?”

    I can’t recall the case, but I do remember that the property clause once trumped the establishment clause.

    Perhaps an argument could be made….

    Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2

    The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

  79. Bron,
    The dominant company in a market uses its’ dominance to keep competitors out, either by controlling distribution, threatening customers, or undercutting competitors prices so they are put out of business. There are plenty of historical examples and that why the anti-trust laws developed only to be more and more ignored since Reagan.

  80. MikeS:

    For an example lets talk about oil. It is a necessary commodity and sells for a fairly reasonable price (it would be more reasonable if there were less tax associated with the cost of a gallon of gas). As a thought experiment lets say that Exxon is able to buy up all of the remaining American oil companies and is also able to temporarily drive the cost of a gallon of gas to $0.50 to drive out foreign competitors like Citgo and BP. It now has a “monopoly” on the sale of gas in the US. Lets further say that the government is not going to do anything to break up this monopoly.

    So now Exxon has total control of the American oil and gas market, they are now free to charge whatever they want for a gallon of gas or oil. the sky is the limit. But is it? In your mind it is, Exxon could charge $10, 20, 30 a gallon for gas and oil but can they? What happens when they charge a very high price for oil and gas? The consumer is going to conserve and use less oil and gas. Exxon now has a surplus of gas and oil. So it cuts back on production in an effort to keep the price of gas and oil high.

    At this point some bright guy says to himself I need to figure out how to produce a new form of energy because Exxon is a monopoly and they are selling gas for $10 per gallon. My new energy will have the same results as a gallon of gas but will only cost $9 per unit. What does Exxon do? They lower the cost of a gallon of gas to $8. At that point some other bright guy jumps in and says I can produce a unit for $7.

    If you have a free economy a monopoly is impossible. There are too many competing interests for any one entity to take control of an industry. The economy and inovation are not static, they are dynamic in a free market. The only way a monopoly is possible is through government control of markets. Free markets efficiently allocate resources, governments do not.

    By the way if you go to this web link you can purchase something called Nitroquick for $4/month
    click on heart and blood pressure. they also have other medications for $4/month and for $10 you can get drugs for 90 days. I hope this saves you some money.

  81. “For an example lets talk about oil.”

    Exxon made the greatest profit last year of any corporation in the history of the world. Part of the way it did that was by manipulating the oil futures market to get the price upt to about $120 per barrel, when it costs $20 per barrel coming out of the ground. Exxon used its’ position to drive up profits.
    Exxon has also used its position to ensure that auto makers stick with gasoline. There were viable electric cars built by GM in the 90’s but then bought up and destroyed. now GM is talking about the Chevy Volt 15 years later. Exxon is aware that eventually the market will go beyond oil for energy and is already working to make profits off of an control new energy sources. T. Boone Pickens, an oil man has been pushing natural gas on TV as if he has seen the light, but what he’s really trying to do is get leases on land that can produce natural gas, but also control vast supplies of potable water. He and the other oil guys see water as a big future product to control.

    Business unregulated is business unbound and its’ natural tendency is to control the market whether through monopoly or cartel. This is so because any good executive thinks profit first and public last. Any one who doesn’t should be fired since corporations by their natures are inherently amoral. Adam Smith who coined the term “free market” also believed in firm government regulation because of this tendency towards corporate amorality.

    By the way thank you for your concern and link. Unfortunately I don’t patronize Wal-Mart, it’s the old union guy in me.

  82. MikeS:

    I thought the commodity guys messed around with the price?.

    I thought T. Boone was a natural gas guy from the beginning. He actually did both but more natural gas 3 trillion cubic ft vs 150 million barrels so he comes by the Pickens plan naturally. He wants to have “gas” stations at everyones house and use natural gas to run cars. I think it is a good idea myself.

    I dont know about the water control but a farmer would have to be pretty stupid to give up water rights under his land when he needs it for farming. And if a land owner wants to they will get royalties so why not sell the water to T. Boone?

  83. What Can we common Poeple do about the Bailout? Nothing.. we just have to wait and see if the company comes up and develops new cars and prototypes to please the americal consumer

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