I’m Not Tortured about “Torture”

Some additional musings about Fred Thompson’s comments regarding defending Americans from terrorists.

As a proud member of the Jack Bauer caucus (h/t Perfunction), it is so refreshing to see a candidate say that he would do whatever it takes to defend the lives of Americans who are at risk of imminent attack, as Fred Thompson recently stated on the Charlie Rose Show.   Any candidate who does not take such a position is not qualified to be president of the United States, IMO.
 
We will from hear liberals and squishy Republicans on the issue who will opine about “how we are losing our moral authority around the world” and we are “violating human rights” and we “don’t torture”, etc., but these objectsions are easily refutable if we closely examine their presuppositions.  Firstly, we don’t need to be lectured by Russia, China, post-Christian Europe, the Middle East, or rogue regimes about our “moral authority”, or lack thereof, when these countries have little or none to begin with. 
Second, our country does not gratuitously violate human rights like these other countries do on a regular basis- on the contrary, we are the their  guarantor, and we actively safeguard and protect those human rights by any means necessary. We have every right to protect ourselves against individuals who want to terrorize Americans in a multiplicity of ways, regardless of whether these terrorists or rogue regimes want to engage in murder, terrorist attacks, or worse- we reserve the right to squeeze information from terrorist proxies just like we did Khalid-Sheik Mohammed.  Anyone who says we shouldn’t have waterboarded the 9-11 terrorists on 9-10, or used other means at our disposal to prevent this attack, is simply kidding themselves, and unfit to be president.
 
Thirdly, as to the assertion that we “don’t torture”- first and foremost, waterboarding has been around for decades, it was not invented by the Bush administration, as much as Democrats would love for you to believe.  Whether the technique even ranks as “torture” compared to some of the more crude and brutal techniques that are known to exist is also a matter of opinion and debate.  We don’t know how many times the technique has been used in the field, but I would wager that it was used during the Cold War on more than one occasion, in addition to the fact that Khalid Sheik-Mohammed was submitted to the technique.
 
What critics fail to acknowledge, and what is demonstrably different about our use of stress techniques or other “enhanced interrogation techniques” to extract information versus the random use of torture by tyrants, is the fact that we do not gratuitously torture innocent individuals for no reason- the sine qua non of despotic regimes.  We can only imagine what barbaric techniques are used in China, the Middle East, Russia, or North Korea, that would never, ever be considered by free and humane societies.  The United States does not randomly imprison individuals and torture them either for sport or some other depraved motive, and there are strict rules governing when certain techniques may even be considered, let alone used.
 
We should however reserve the right to use certain techniques, some of which may sound harsh to civilians, to break individuals who have formed an evil intent to kill Americans, who have information which could prevent a terror attack, and would otherwise be undeterable.  What’s more, if the terrorist in question broke down and divulged everything they knew, our side would not unnecessarily use these techniques, some of which may be defined as “Torture” (again, many would disagree about the definition).  Our intelligence experts know that different kinds of techniques, some of which do not involve physical contact, will work with different types of personalities- but we should not discount the fact that certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, will coerce suspected terrorists to divulge information that they would not have under ordinary circumstances, as it did with Khalid-Sheik Mohammed.
 
No matter how John McCain or other liberals claim that we are “losing our moral authority” because we occasionally have to defend ourselves from grave threats, I believe that these assertions simply don’t accord with reality.  John McCain speaks with much conviction about the brutal techniques used upon him by his captors, and his service and dedication to this country are beyond reproach; but what he fails to realize is the fact that there will always be evil in the world who will truly use techniques that are true forms of torture, regardless of our response to such evil.  In a perfect world, we would never have to consider coercing information from a terrorist by using means which many may view as harsh, but that is not the world we live in.  Simply because we wish to defend ourselves from the evil with which terrorists want to visit upon us, we are NOT descending to their level merely because we waterboard suspected terrorists who want to engage in mass murder.  Just the opposite- we are defending human rights and civilization from a darkened mindset that lusts for abject oppression and tyranny.
 
Our moral authority derives from the fact that we have established a Republic free from tyranny, we recognize the inherent dignity of the individual, we recognize that the rights of Man which come from God, and not from Government, and we spread and promote these truths worldwide.  Our moral authority does not derive from the fact that we are compassionate or soft towards terror groups and regimes which plot death and destruction against our people or our way of life, which ultimately serves as the foundation upon which all of the rights we enjoy and our moral authority as a nation stands upon.   
  
Don’t believe me?  Perhaps then you should ask the Mossad about what sorts of techniques they use to coerce information from a hardened enemy.  I can only hope that collectively we will wisen up to the evil that seeks to commit acts of mass terror against us.

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This blog is still alive!

Sorry folks, I know posting has been light- really light.  But all of my efforts in the blogosphere have been going on at blogsforfredthompson.com, the link of which is to the right on my blogroll (where else would it be?).  I am posting under FDT08, for all those interested in reading my entries (surely numbering in the millions….and the millions!)

 Visit Blogsforfredthompson today, and find a veritable library of information about Fred Thompson as he campaigns to become the Republican nominee in 2008!   

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Yankees and Gators….Seasons on the Brink.

As you can imagine, the past 48 hours, and the last week of college football have been difficult ones for fans of both the New York Yankees and the Florida Gators.  The Yankees, thanks to swarms of bugs, are now down 2 games to none in the ALDS.  Last week, Florida played an uninspiring home game and lost to an Audburn team that they should have beaten- losing what should have been a statement game at home was doubly disappointing. 

 Yet both teams can redeem themselves very quickly- Florida faces #1 LSU in death valley, and it’s pretty much a make or break game.  Win, and national championship hopes remain alive.  Lose, and those championship hopes are dashed.  Can the Gator Offensive Line contain LSU’s freakish Glenn Dorsey?   Hopefully, the Gators will change their run/pass attack from last week’s lackluster performance.  The Gators need to establish the run APART from Tim Tebow, and Ketsahn Moore should get more touches, in my opinion.

 The Yankees return to the Stadium where they will rely on aging veterans Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina to salvage the season, and force a game 5 in Cleveland.  If anything, hopefully the Yanks will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, and not go out with a whimper.   In what seems like an annual occurance, the Yankee bats are flaming out just when it matters…..dohhh!

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Rudy Giuliani- America’s Mayor, but not a National Candidate

As the Republican party begins the grind through the primary season and starts the process of determining who its standard-bearer will be,  it can be problematic for individuals who count themselves as loyal Republicans, as well as their conservative brethren, to forthrightly and bluntly critique a candidate while simultaneously remaining faithful to Reagan’s 11th commandment not to criticize a fellow Republican.   Perhaps that commandment can be revised, slightly- criticize that fellow Republican, but do so honorably, and with respect.

For the record, lets state the both the obvious and unembellished truth- Rudy Giuliani was a fine mayor whose leadership during a difficult moment in our history was what our country sorely needed- he was the face of American resilience, resolve, and fortitude in the wake of 9-11.   His mayoral record lists many fine accomplishments and skirmishes with an entrenched liberal orthodoxy and bureacracy in numerous policy areas which helped the city emerge stronger from the wake of David Dinkins’ malaise.   New York City is better for having had Rudy Giuliani as its mayor, and I can attest to this fact, having worked in NYC during his entire tenure.

That said, I will argue that his successful mayoralty and the high public approval that he left his office with does not translate into Rudy Giuliani being the Republican Party’s strongest national candidate, for several reasons. 

What is most problematic for Rudy in his attempt to become the party’s nominee are the numerous ideological contortions that he has spun on quintessential issues of concern to Republicans and Conservatives- most notably on abortion, immigration, and gun control.  While Rudy has moved as much to the Right during the primary process in an attempt to make at least the appearance of an appeal to the conservative wing of the party, I think it is fair to say that Rudy’s political instincts on far too many issues of concern are anything but conservative.  First and foremost are the   several contradictory intellectual rationalizations that Rudy has put forward in an attempt to make his pro-choice stance more palatable for social conservatives to swallow.  Rudy’s latest lawyerly remarks about immigration not being a “crime” typify perfectly the bureacratic and elitist inertia that has prevented meaningful action from taking place to both secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws without apology.

Combine that problematic record with the baggage that Guiliani has with his personal life, in addition to the various controversies that beset his mayoralty in which Rudy made ill-advised comments- these are sure to be revived by Clinton political operatives as they attempt to suffocate his message and ruin his integrity.   On a somewhat lighter note, Rudy’s cross-dressing episode- a skit done in good fun with his buddy Donald Trump- will be hung on Rudy’s head like a burning tire by these same Clintonistas during the general election. Yes, it’s seemingly trivial matter, but we can only imagine how cut-throat operatives like James Carville and people of his ilk will artfully exploit this otherwise forgettable comedy routine.  Note to future presidential candidates- If you plan on running for president, you have to be cognizant of the fact that certain follies,  pranks and buffooneries that average people can get away in their adult lives with are off limits, fair or unfair. 

What is most important for Republicans to do for 2008 is to nominate a candidate who will force Hillary Clinton not to run against the Republican candidate’s checkered history and sometimes cantankerous personality, but to take those issues off the table and force her to run on actual policy issues and ideas- things Democrats are typically bereft of.

Another critical issue that Republicans and Conservatives need to consider are the candidates’ respective political instincts and temperment.  Thompson has a genuine conservative temperament which guides his decision making, he does not make politically correct statements or come off as sounding rehearsed.  Thompson’s personality is genuinely affable and down to earth, but just as importantly, he is able to be tough and principled without being mean- a talent that Giuliani decidedly does not have.  As much as I respect Rudy, he can come across as a street-fighter and a brawler, and unfortunately, simply being perceived as mean or rude can turn off lots of people – particularly moderates and independents- people who base their votes more on personality and temperament rather positions and issues.   Rudy’s political instincts, outside of fighting crime and al-Qaeda-are not conservative ones. Obviously, those are two primary issues of concern to Republicans, but apart from those two critical areas, Giuliani’s instincts often take him into the liberal wilderness.

One other line of opposition those of us who support Fred can count on hearing from Giuliani and Romney supporters alike is the centrality of “executive experience”, since Fred has never  been an executive of a state or CEO of a company.  Having executive experience is a fine credential in and of itself,  but Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter had that same executive experience as well, and we know all too well how they utilized that so called coveted experience.  Far more important than executive experience, I would argue, is someone who is 1. committed to Federalist principles, 2. has an understanding of the inner workings of government, 3. has integrity coupled with a spine of steel, an individual who will not be mau-maued by Democrats or engage in a phony bipartisanship at the expense of his governing principles.  It’s  a red herring to contend that merely because a candidate has never been an executive, either in the public or private sectors, that they are defacto unqualified for the presidency or would be incompetment in performing executive responsibilities as president.   What’s more impressive to me is that Fred has experience confronting huge power structures (the Tennessee Government) and blowhard bureaucrats (Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats), and it is this very experience that has tested his mettle and will serve Thompson well as President.

It is Fred that has the temperament that Rudy does not, it is Fred who is the Federalist champion, and it is Fred who will keep together the five key constituencies which constitute the Republican party- Pro-Lifers, NRA-Guns Faction, Social Conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, and the anti-illegal Immigration/pro border enforcement crowd. Rudy Giuliani has substantial problems with each and every one of those core constituencies.

Fred’s candidacy will amount to a complete broadside to the unsustainable bureacratic and entitlement mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, as well as a reawakening to Federalist and Constitutional principles, without apology- the question down the road will be whether the general electorate is ready for such a strong, but necessary tonic.  In the immediate future, however, Republicans are looking ready to nominate a candidate who will work to achieve that bold a platform- and Fred Thompson is that man.

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Stack’em, Pack’em, & Rack ‘em…

No, not the incoming planes low on fuel to Dulles Airport, but the forthcoming campaign stops in key early primary states.  The announcement preceding the official Sept. 6th announcement is in the can, and Fred Thompson is about to put his electoral gambit to the test.  We have had no shortage of opinions regarding whether Fred waited to long to formally announce his candidacy, or how he missed an opportunity to announce at the beginning of the summer to build on his early momentum.  Forget about the FEC filing requirements that most assuredly entered Team Thompson’s calculus for deciding what time to make the formal announcement.  The questions that remain – how fluid is the Republican side of electorate at this juncture, and does Fred have enough time to build his name and face recognition to primary voters, as he lags behind the top tier Republicans in these categories- these are the critical questions that will ultimately decide Fred’s fortunes.  While Guiliani has remained fairly stable in his poll numbers over the summer, will Republican voters, when put to the test- go with a pro-choice candidate whose record on the 2nd amendment has been spurious at best?  I don’t think they will do so, and conservatives are in the process of looking for that viable alternative to Rudy as we speak.  In addition, Rudy, while being an individual of some very admirable qualities, was unfortunately a very  polarizing and controversial figure during his years as NYC mayor prior to 9-11.  Forget about his problematic personal issues- the sheer volume of opposition research relating to his official actions as mayor are just waiting to be dumped on his head, and this will be an enormous burden to his candidacy as it attempts to connect with moderates, independents, and undecideds.  A Clinton-Giuliani general election campaign will probably result in one of the nastiest presidential campaigns waged since about, oh, 1884.   

Fred, on the other hand, does not have anywhere near the the polarizing image or baggage that Giuliani carries, fair or unfair.  Let’s be as fair as we can here- Rudy has been a warrior spokesman for the Republicans on the War on Islamofascism, but if Republican primary voters are smart, they will take that enormous baggage that Giuliani carries off the table, and nominate a candidate that will force Hillary to run on her positions, issues, and ideas- decidedly not her forte or a consistent record to run on- and not allow her to run against her opponent’s checkered personal backround and controversial tenure as mayor, and possibly allow her to gain her cherished victim status again in an all-out slugfest of attacks.

David Broder interviewed Fred back a few weeks ago, and this remarkable interview only confirmed the kind of campaign I expected Thompson to run.  Conservatives such as myself are genuinely excited about his candidacy like no other- he’s truly a “movement” conservative who wants to “move” us back to our Federalist origins and restore fiscal sanity in our government.  Thus far, I have not heard Fred Thompson go soft or squishy on one issue that mandates taking an unwavering principled stand, and it’s been quite refreshing to see Fred comfortably (and pleasantly)  take these stands which cause liberals to spontaneously combust when exposed to them.

Win or lose, no one can rightfully say that Fred was “lazy”, “unambitious”, or “had no ideas”, all of which have been early criticisms of his unofficial campaign.  Fred’s coming broadside into the entitlement and bureaucratic mess the federal government is in will be extraordinarily ambitious- but this type of platform may well be political suicide.  Consider for a moment all of the interest groups that will demonize him should he ever get close enough to enacting such an agenda. Proposing an agenda that includes serious entitlement reform- spending cuts- reducing benefits- he is intentionally stepping on every “third rail” in politics. By any standard, this is going to be a bold and revolutionary platform- I can only hope his candidacy amounts to more than merely serving as a gadfly.

If Fred doesn’t win the nomination, I sincerely hope the other candidates get the message that we conservatives aren’t going to be satisfied with a candidate who merely “tinkers around the edges” of the mess we are in.  For in the end, this is bigger than any one candidate- this is about the arena of ideas, the conflict of visions, and the struggle to preserve the freedoms that are preserved for us and our posterity in our Constitution. We need to ignite systemic change within the federal government- I can only hope that the winning Republican candidate comes to understand this, and brings to fruition what Fred Thompson already knows we have to do.

 We’re behind you, Fred- and we are in this for the long haul.

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Anatomy of a Smackdown, C-SPAN style

If you happen to be a C-SPAN junkie like me, and you’re somebody who schedules your day around its Washington Journal show, perhaps you need to get out of the house more often.   Nonetheless, I highly recommend that you watch David Rivkin thoroughly dissemble Glenn Greenwald in debating the merits of the latest revisions to the FISA law.  Rivkin’s analysis and explanation of the inner workings of the federal government and the National Security Agency are very illuminating, and he makes the case quite convincingly that our spy agencies are singularly focused on preventing terrorist plots from coming to fruition; that these agencies operate under very strict laws and regulations;  and combined with the vigorous oversight that they are subject to, it is simply not feasible for these agencies to recklessly surveil innocent civilians with impunity.  This debate is quite representative of the bulk of today’s right vs. left debates- on the one side, facts are combined with reasoned logic; on the other side we see the left’s penchant for baseless rhetoric, hyperbole, and scare tactics. Take 45 minutes out of your day to educate yourself on the issue of warrantless wiretaps and FISA, and why these changes to the law will be crucial to protecting innocent Americans lives in the future.

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Richard Cohen, Bloviator-At-Large

A little over a week ago, Washington Post Op-Ed columnist Richard Cohen penned a piece on Fred Thompson entitled “He Just Plays a Straight Shooter”, a reference to the straight-shooting, no-BS character roles Thompson excels at portraying, pitted woefully in contrast to Cohen’s perception of Thompson’s real-life political role,  asserting that Fred’s candor and integrity are severely lacking right from the start of his nascent “candidacy”.  In fact, Cohen used the word “liar” to describe Fred Thompson’s recent statements with regards to his lobbying on behalf of Planned Parenthood in the early 1990s.  Disturbed that Mr. Cohen frivolously and carelessly throws the term “liar” around without any regard as to what it actually means, I shot off the following missive to Mr. Cohen-  

Mr. Cohen,

In regards to your latest article, “He Just Plays a Straight Shooter”, I would like to ask you the following hypothetical question- Specifically, whom did you speak to on the telephone 16 years ago, and what specifically were you discussing, and what work was it related to?  If  you cannot recall exactly the correct answer- names, content of conversation, what you were working on- are you intentionally lying, hiding material facts that you are cognizant of with the intent decieve?  For example, f your recollections was that you had repeated conversations with Jane about gardening over the course of 14 months, when in fact records showed you had really spoken to Bill about sports during that same time period, would you be guilty of lying?  I would say that unless you immediately knew otherwise what your specific actions were,  you had not lied.   As we know, 99.999 percent of the population cannot remember what their exact actions were 6 days ago, let alone 16 years ago.  Thompson’s work at his law firm indiciated he did 19 hours of billable work over 14 months, which translates to roughly about 2 and a half minutes per day.  Having worked for law firms, it’s entirely plausible for an attorney when quizzed to not remember every client, particularly the smaller clients that they have billed very little time to-over the course of a year, let alone an entire legal career.  To be even more honest, law firm billing records tend to be inflated- 19 hours of billable time usually includes bathroom breaks, lunch, and other distractions that subtract from this already miniscule number of recorded billable hours.Unfortunately, our culture has lost the understanding what the proper definition of the word “Lie”.  For the record-

Webster’s Dictionary (1913)- A falsehood uttered or acted for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth; an untruth spoken with the intention to deceive.

Is Thompson intentionally telling us a falsehood, being in immediate possession of knowledge that is contradictory to what he is saying?  I think not.  It’s like me asking you what you had for breakfast two weeks ago- if you say you had bacon and eggs on July 11th, and records later showed it really was the 12th, are you a liar?  Or are you simply mistaken, having erred honestly without the intent to deceive?  There is an enormous difference between the two, and unfortunately, you, like too many segments of our broader society, toss around the “liar” moniker far too frivolously, which only serves to obfuscate its true meaning.  That, unfortunately, is what you have done in your recent article.   Let’s try to restore the proper understanding of the word “liar” so we can better inform the public of what actually constitutes lying, rather than impugn an individuals’ integrity in a game of “gotcha” based on erroneous definitions of words. 

Cordially,

YankeeGator

I have not yet received any reply from Mr. Cohen to my inquiry (not that I expected him to respond to a mere rank and file member of the hoi-polloi). So as it stands, Mr. Cohen’s due dilligence, fact checking, and knowledge of critical words within the English language, remains MIA to his vast readership.

Following up on his lame hit piece, Cohen now calls Fred Thompson “a threat to us all”,  apparently because Fred’s not buying into the Global Warming hysteria or advocating for more restrictive federal gun laws.  Cohen’s cynical observation about “Thompson on Horseback” might inadvertently prove to be correct, if Fred manages to articulate a common-sense conservatism which wins him the nomination.  One wonders however when Richard Cohen, bloviator-at-large, will cease his spastic ruminations,  get back on his own tricycle, and ride off into the sunset.

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