In any case, the argument he is attacking (and which has shown up in the comments to that post) is really just outrageous. I responded to it there, but I felt the need to reiterate my position here.
The 'pro-torture' camp (Cheney on down) appear to be fixated on two primary arguments: the 'ticking time bomb' scenario and the 'limiting options' argument. The first posits that there may come a time when in order to thwart an imminent Bad Event, your only option may be to employ torture to extract information which will allow you to prevent it. The second argument seems to state that by categorically denying yourself the option of torture, you offer your enemies more 'freedom of action' or 'embolden' them because they know they won't be forced to give up information when captured.
These are, IMNSHO, complete and utter bullshit.
The first problem is that they're being argued at entirely the wrong level. These are both arguments related to the efficacy or expediency of torture. That's the problem. Many opponents of torture continue to fight the measure by arguing (with merit) that torture doesn't even work, which is a completely valid approach and offers some traction. But it misses the point. Arguing that allows the pro-torture crew to set the battleground for this fight, and if the battleground is placed in the 'expediency' field, then the battle is already lost.
Whether or not to use torture, as the United States of America, is not an issue of expediency or efficacy. It's a question of principles. Those principles are what make us the United States of America. They are embodied in the Constitution and its Amendments. Which, far from representing expediency, are philosophy embodied - as far from expediency as you can get. That's what makes this country different, and makes it great. It's a place where the purity of an ideal is being applied to a polity - not through the flawed prism of human minds serving as a 'live' conduit, but through a rigorously and transparently recorded and interpreted set of codified philosophy.
If you begin to argue about whether or not torture (which is something that doesn't fit anywhere into that Constitution, thank you very much) should be utilized because it may or may not work, then you've already given up arguing about whether it should be used.
And you've thrown the ideals which that Constitution stands for in the trash bin.
President Bush speaks of 'spreading Democracy' through the Middle East and the world. We can only assume he speaks of spreading Democracy on the American model - a Constitutional democracy, based on principles. If this is the case, then we must not act to throw away those very principles in the name of expediency, not even to spread that democracy or even to topple regimes - but simply as a 'just in case' because we 'might be threatened!' To reserve to ourselves the right to not apply those principles to anyone we choose because they are less than us!
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. Nowhere does it say 'but some men are created less equal than others.'
If men declare themselves the enemy of the United States and the Constitution, then yes, it is our duty to defeat them. To kill them, if necessary. However, it is also our duty to continue to obey our own laws. As our own president says, "We do not torture." Fine. Then we don't need exemptions from laws against torture. If we have captured an enemy, they themselves cannot actively do us harm. That means we are enjoined from causing them unreasonable suffering. If they have committed crimes which they can be tried for, which carry a capital punishment, then it is our right to submit them to a court of law which has the ability to impose that punishment in open deliberation. But that's it.
Anything else loses us the war, as it loses us what makes us Americans. Don't let the pro-torture camp draw the debate onto the wrong battleground. This isn't about being 'soft on terrorists' or 'un-American' or anything else. They are 'un-American.' This is about the very ideals which make us American.
(Does playing with the Doctor count?)
Impeach Bush and Cheney. Impeach them now.
Doing...wait for it...
Disaster planning. I shit you not.
Even he seems to recognize the level to which his useless cronyism-based fuckup has slotted him, with his closing sentences. "My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me."
Well, they're all related to him by genes or choice. They can't be the brightest lights out there.
I wonder how many of his 'great clients' owe favors to the administration?
While it may be true that the Democrats are not offering proposals as a bloc, I think it's unlikely that they simply don't have any ideas. After all, when trying legislative ju-jitsu on Rep. Murtha, the GOP themselves came up with a plan - albeit a patently unworkable one. I think that at least some of the Democratic silence in the area of proposed alternatives is quite obviously a bid to deny the GOP and more specifically the White House operatives a concrete target to attack. Swift Boat, anyone? The Democrats are in a strange position - the GOP is imploding visibly over the lack of options for Iraq. The GOP can't propose any without openly breaking with the White House - a show of splintering party discipline that they cannot afford, especially before midterms. However, the Democrats are, for once, better served by simply keeping quiet. With no counterproposal to fasten on, there is no (Democratic) target for the smear machine of Rove and Cheney.
Republicans may try to portray the Democratic silence as a bankruptcy of support for the troops and the mission. I would say instead that the Democratic silence is in fact strong support of both the military and the mission it has been saddled with. One thing that the Administration has made trenchantly clear is that it will not discuss, debate, or even examine its own actions and policies regarding Iraq. In such an environment, even the most wise and effective proposal, should it be put forth by Democrats, will end up as nothing more than a talking-points-target for the White House - denying it any chance of implementation.
By holding fire, however, the Democrats are increasing the chances that the GOP will be forced to 'open the game' and begin discussions about what to do in Iraq - and it will be difficult for the White House to slam down debate if it's started by its own party. While immediately leaving is (in my opinion) not the course to take, the very act of open debate over the future of the U.S.'s presence in Iraq - an open discussion of objectives, methods and goals - will serve our troops far better than the current White House position of 'We stay until we win' - without even preperly defining 'win.'
The question will be whether the GOP can pull itself out of its self-destructive cycle enough to even begin a proper and constructive debate on the issue before it takes enough damage from corruption charges and scandal to prevent it from doing so. Should that happen, the Democrats will be forced to open the debate. If the midterms go strongly Democratic, then they may have the momentum to do so safely, without fearing destructive interference from the White House.
Hopefully, the GOP will open the debate sooner, for the sake of our armed forces and the citizens of Iraq.
Enter the Middleman model. I'm not saying that Novell has been necessarily any good at doing this, but it sure has been trying. Why doesn't Novell, as a known software vendor with Open Source ties, offer to step in? If government departments have budget for open source solutions for which coding needs to be done, Novell could offer to employ open source hackers to work on those projects. The fruits of their labor would need to be openly available (great!) but Novell could provide a salary/benefits model to organizing open source hackers. Either we could find existing employees who have experience in the product space to work on the project, or we could offer to support community developers using the money from the government budget - but paid to a 'real vendor' and buying 'real work.' It's not quite consulting - Novell could offer what support it can to the organization and ongoing management of an open source project. This could be a professional project manager, web space, hosting, bandwidth, and of course the aforementioned framework for compensation in order to guarantee a minimum amount of 'hours worked.'
If the open source project didn't go far enough in customizing the solution, or if no project workers could be found who were interested in working on the code in the manner the client needed, then Novell could simply task its own coders to work on the product. Again, this is a strange hybrid of consulting and middleman - the key feature being that the resulting product would be open source and re-usable.
Of course, from Novell's point of view, it would make sense to ensure that there was a supported and stable build of whatever solution on a Novell platform - OES or SUSE - which could be sold to the client agency if they desired. At the very least, support could be offered on a contract basis.
The point is that there seems to be money out there which is looking to be spent. That's what I understand a business is supposed to look for.
That modification, it turned out, will create a 'technology oversight committee' which will have the power to veto the decision to move to Open Document formats. It will be staffed by representatives from branches of state government other than the one which proposed this change. Surprise! Pay no attention to what this hand is doing behind the curtain.
My colleague described how, while he was chatting with this lobbyist, he noticed two interesting things. One, the lobbyist freely confided in him, "I don't know anything about computers." Two, as they stood in a hallway, every politician that passed stopped to shake the lobbyist by the hand and chat him up briefly.
In contrast, IBM sent a crew along with some talking points they'd put together in a boardroom in Armonk NY about why the technology was better.
Anyone want to guess where my money is on this fight so far?
What drives me crazy is that it doesn't have to be this way. The story on the Open Format vendors' side is considerable, even from a raw political sense. For fuck's sake, Novell is headquartered in Massachusetts. Sun and Novell both maintain a non-trivial number of jobs in the Boston area - especially compared to Microsoft. The 'local company' card could have been played easily. There are an enormous number of professional Linux and open source support consultants who would be eligible to support this initiative, and who directly vote. On the other side of the fence, there are the Microsoft distributors who fear a loss of addictive revenue if the state cuts back its support payments to the MS system.
Classic case of coordination vs. mass. Microsoft fought smart and did the efficient thing - find the most effective local lobbyist, who already has the ties to the political structure, and throw money at him. Let the other side argue about the technology until it's blue in the face; can anyone with any experience with Massachusetts politics honestly say that they believe this fight is about technology at the legislative level? If so, I have a bridge to sell them.
If, however, I'm going to start mucking around with my Mac at the process level as well as on the disk bus, I need a better backup than the one I have now - or to at least disconnect my media drive first.
One problem with this plan was wondering what type of hat I would look for. However, I was fascinated to find this guide to hat types while poking around. What kind of face are you?
fdiskcomplains about resource busy, desperately trying
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/rdisk3 bs=1024 count=3results in no write) I discover that...
OS X is trying to background
fsck the stupid partition, despite the fact that it doesn't work.
Kill that process. Try again w/
fdisk. Ah! Okay, now partition one is offset by a few (disk) sectors. Now run Disk Utility again, and erase the volume as MS-DOS...meh. Well, it appears to be working, but very slowly, with that wonderful 'CLIK' noise of 'bad read/write.' Hm! On the other hand, the log window of Disk Utility hands me all sorts of wonderful info, like the backup sector location, sector numbers...the stuff that the code earlier was hardcoding.
Gack. I wonder if the iPod firmware stuff is going to assume disk sectors and/or nuke all this.
Meh. Gotta sleep. More later.
Idly trolling the net, however, I found this - where someone else with a similar problem apparently had the same thought! And unlike me, knew enough C to make a dangerous stab at it!
Intrigued, I wished to subscribe to his newsletter. Er, no. That is to say, I downloaded the code, untarred it onto my Mac, and had a look. Apparently, his solution to the 'I'm not sure how the heck bad sector tables or their equivalent work in HFS+' problem that forced me to give up was much more elegant - he simply formatted his iPod as a FAT32 volume. The iPod doesn't care, and will function as either on a Macintosh - and there's much more info available on FAT32 FAT muckery. In particular, rather than telling the drive that the sector was bad, this gent proposed to tell the FAT itself that the sector was no good.
The downsides of this approach are obvious from reading his page - the modified FAT, with the bad sectors marked, wouldn't survive a reformatting/re-iPod-firmwaring of the device, since those would write a new FAT to the disk. The page itself came about because after several months of using his 'hacked' 'pod, he himself had to flash it, and was forced to go revisit his quick hack to determine what it did and how so that he could do it again. This time around, he figured why not document it (sorta) on the web?
Anyway, I find myself with a few terminal windows open, mucking around inside
typedefs and big-endian->little-endian macros, blithely reading and writing raw bytes from and to li'l Gir. Haven't fixed anything yet, but I'm learning. After having the code tell me that my FAT copies weren't in agreement, and then refuse to make any changes, I've discovered that the author (apparently) hardcoded in certain values like the number of sectors per FAT and the number of FAT copies - values which differ depending on the size of the disk, and Gir isn't the same size as his 'pod, apparently.
While there's code that's ostensibly supposed to figure out some of this info by dumping it from the MBR/boot sector, it's not in the same executable, so i can't be sure that things which share var names across the executables really mean the same thing...esp. when they're derived in the first case from data off the drive, and simply declared for use in a different manner in the second. Replacing the values in the hardcoded versions with information taken from my runs of the dump code doesn't seem to work - it changes what sectors the code attempts to muck with, but they still come up as inconsistent (the FAT and backup FAT, that is) which prevents attempts to change it.
Now I just noticed that the dump code is warning that there's a sector 0 read error...and while the second FAT copy typedef's hexdump has interesting stuff in it, including what looks like packed bytes and a 'NON-BOOTABLE DISK' text message, the first FAT copy seems to be all zeros.
Oh, suck. If sector 0 is tanked, then the primary FAT isn't working?
Hm, but Disk Utility claims it managed to properly initialize the volume, which doesn't sound like the primary FAT is corrupted. More likely, the place it's looking for the FAT is wrong, given the disk size difference.
ARGH. I don't know enough yet. More research.
Snif. Ah well. I think it actually made the dollar/day period. But apparently poor li'l Gir decided he didn't like icepacks on his li'l 'luminum backside, no sirree.
Doomy doom doom doom doomy doom doom doom doom doo-o-om!
I already have a Nano. But now I don't have a 'pod that works in the car. I don't want to spend the money. But the 5G comes in black! I don't need one. But I didn't need any of 'em. The new one does video! ...and I don't give a crap.
Sigh. It's gonna be a loud few weeks in my head.
Oh, no. I just realized I have to drive 3 hours to Thanksgiving in a week. AIIIGH. Well, the new model won't fit the holder in the car anyway.
"We do not torture."
President George Walker Bush, November 2005
Now, famously, it turns out that the truthfulness of the first statement rests heavily on what your definition of 'sex' is. Did Bill not have sexual contact with her? Nope. Apparently, in his mind, fellatio is not 'sex' - which is reserved for copulation. At least, as far as the veracity of such public statements is concerned.
America did not agree. He was hounded and eventually an impeachment motion brought, over the interpretations of whether or not 'sex' included 'blowjobs.'
Now, George Walker Bush has thrown down a statement, in response to accusations. Again, the veracity of the statement depends an awful lot on what each person who hears it defines as 'torture.' But the crux of the matter, to me, is the fact that unlike the first case, the 'definition' at stake here is something much, much more important to our nation.
It is something which reaches directly into the most fundamental relationship there is - not that between the President and his wife, and the potential intrusion of a young and stupid intern. No, it touches directly on the relationship between the United States Government and the people of the United States who have, for better or worse, surrendered the right to many fundamental actions involving violence into the hands of that same government. That's what governments are for. Not to determine how we relate to each other in the bedroom, but to determine how we relate to each other as citizens - and how the ultimate expression of interaction, that of violence, is controlled by the state.
Now, we have a president who is attempting to save political face during a time of intense internal debate over the very nature of the use of force by our government on those who cannot resist. A use which we have ostensibly made laws to cover; signed treaties to cover, and espoused our position to the rest of the world on as 'superior.' At a time when George Bush's own administration is maneuvering to have part of the United States Government excluded from legal restrictions on this type of use of force, the President has gone up before the world and proclaimed that "we do not torture."
If so, why would the CIA need an exemption from restrictions in the law relating to this? Why would we need to keep captives in locations outside the United States and away from the American legal system so that they have not the recourse to protection from our government that our citizens do? After all, once they have been captured, they're not 'terrorists on the loose' even if they are guilty. Furthermore, they have not been so decided by an American court, or in many cases even by the famous 'military tribunals' the President is so fond of proffering.
The only reason, of course, is because there are people in the government operating with a very different opinion of what 'torture' is than the President of the United States, whose job it is to ensure that those very people adhere to the law - and his public statements.
We are left with the following possible conclusions. Either the President's interpretation of 'torture' is dramatically out of step not only with many of his own electorate, but apparently with those within his administration who are seeking official protection from statutes which would punish actions so defined; or he simply is unaware that there are those in his administration (like his Vice President) who are actively campaigning to evade those restrictions.
In Bill Clinton's case, it didn't matter whether he'd simply had a different interpretation of 'sex' or whether he'd seized on it for political hairsplitting - it was ridden into an impeachment hearing by the Republicans. George Bush has just jumped into the exact same chess fork - but on a subject that actually has relevance to the political existence of the United States as opposed to a conservative-voter-friendly debate over sexual terminology and the meaning of a particular marriage vow.
This quote needs to be hung around George Bush's neck on a placard. It needs to be taken into every discussion of the actions of this Administration and its subordinates during the 'war on terror' and how those actions have been explained or concealed vis-a-vis the American public and, worse, the Legislative and Judicial branches of our government whose intended design purpose is to review such actions and check them, if necessary.
Unless, of course, George Bush and company would like to argue that those checks and balances are outmoded, unnecessary, and should not apply. In which case, they should come out and say so.
In either case, we should impeach him now, based on the precedent set by his own party, and the incredibly more serious nature of the issue at hand regarding that statement. At the very least, he needs to be taken before Congress and made to repeat that statement. It will be interesting to see if he can and will.
According to this press release from Congress, the Bush administration has now borrowed more money from foreign banks and governments than the previous 42 administrations combined.
Still think those tax cuts are a good idea? Still wonder how we're paying for them?
If you have any friends or acquaintances who like regurgitating the GOP talking points about Democrats being 'taxers and spenders' try stapling that one across their foreheads so they can read it in the mirror mornings.
This would be a grim example of what's wrong with the Republican party today, as far as I'm concerned. The only thing that makes this not true? Well, to us observers, it might be more fun than grim as they compete to toss each other under the bus.
Update: It appears that link is no longer valid...but it pointed to a demo of the first few rooms of Quake, implemented inside Shockwave. I was running it smoothly inside a browser window, on a PowerMac G4/500.