Posts Tagged ‘Waterboarding’

The Young Turks Condemn Trump’s Endorsement of Torture

March 8, 2016

In this piece from The Young Turks, John Iadarola gives his Final Judgment on Donald Trump’s endorsement of torture. Trump has said that he’s in favour of using torture, even if it doesn’t work. When questioned on this by the media, he appeared to back pedal, stating that he would stay within the law. It’s another high ambiguous statement The Donald uses to cloak his real intentions. It looks like a retraction, but it isn’t. Trump has said that he doesn’t regard waterboarding as torture, but ‘enhanced interrogation’. He has also said that he intends to change the law to allow more of these interrogation techniques.

Iadarola believes that the media has gone soft on him over this, and the public has been indifferent or even positive, because they don’t know what the reality of torture is like. They have been lulled into this through programmes like 24, where Jack Bauer must somehow use torture to get a terrorist to tell him the whereabouts of a time bomb somewhere. Except that torture doesn’t work. Victims of torture, like John McCain, have said that when you’re tortured, you only want to tell the torturer what you think they want to hear. As a form of interrogation, it’s useless.

But Trump’s endorsement of torture has led many Americans to follow him into agreeing with it. 52 per cent of Americans generally support torture, and this rises to 70 per cent of Republicans. The numbers also rise according to how the victim is described. If they’re just called a person, relatively few piece support it. If they’re described as a terrorist, however, the number who agree with torturing them rises.

Iadarola states that people believe torture is permissible because they have never seen the true reality, just as they have never seen the true horror of Trump’s other policy of carpet-bombing cities full of civilians. He also makes the point that it’s hard for Americans to claim the moral high ground and demand that other states not torture their troops, when they themselves are torturing America’s enemies.

And so he concludes that no-one should support torture, because there is no ticking time-bomb, and we don’t live in Jack Bauer’s world. And that’s his Final Judgment.

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Secular Talk: Trump’s Rise Is the Product of a Broken Media

February 28, 2016

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski gives his reasons why he believes there’s an 80 per cent chance that Donald Trump will become president. It’s because the media does not do its job. It gives the Nazi chump airtime, and does not challenge his many factual assertions, most of which are outright lies, nor the outrageous policies he says he supports such as waterboarding, torture, the targeting of civilians in the war against terror. Instead, it concentrates on the details where he is ‘politically incorrect’, such as when he attacks journalists. he also states that the supposed neutrality of the media actually works to bias them in favour of the right, as they treat all statements as merely differences of opinion. So even though the Democrats are right more than the Republicans, especially on issues such as Climate Change, the media does not challenge the Republicans on their failings, and so in effect supports them. He also states that the media are so afraid of being accused, as they have for three decades now, of liberal bias, that they ask soft questions to conservatives and much harder questions to liberal and Democrats. For example, when Anderson Cooper interviewed Ted Cruz or whoever the other night, Cooper was asking him such easy softballs as whether he sings to his wife and what musicals he liked. Bernie Sanders, however, gets asked tough questions on how he differs from Latin American dictators and if healthcare would be rationed under his system. Even Hillary Clinton gets asked much tougher questions, like when she’ll release transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street. Now Kulinski certainly wants her to release them, but the broader point is that she’s asked harder questions than those lobbed to the Republicans.

It’s a massive failing of the media. He states that Trump is winning through confidence and repetition. He makes a point, they repeat it, but don’t try to apply the same criticisms to Trump that he makes of his opponents. For example, Trump will accuse Ted Cruz of being a liar. The media focus on that as a horrendous allegation. They repeat it. But they don’t do the same, and report how many times Trump has lied. Similarly, Trump states that he’s not taking money from the corporate donors. But the mainstream media is silent on the fact that the only reason Trump isn’t taking money from them, is because they turned him down. And it’s only the New Media that’s holding Trump to account for his monstrous policies, like advocating torture ‘even if it doesn’t work'(!) and targeting civilians – which are war crimes. He states that if the mainstream media pointed this out, and cited the international treaties Trump would be violating, showing that it makes America look bad, and took a day, or three days on these issues, then it would be all over for the Corporate Clown. But they don’t. They let him get away with it, and so he effectively frames the narrative, taking control of what’s being discussed.

Trump is also extremely vulnerable when it comes to his stance on international trade. He claims he’s against the outsourcing of American jobs, but his ties are made in China. So the question can be asked how he can challenge outsourcing, when he can’t stop himself from doing it.

Kulinski states that the Republican mainstream establishment will back some of the more moderate candidates. Their favourite at the moment is Marco Rubio, but he doesn’t give much for their chances. Several of the mainstream Republican favourites have the backing of talk radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh. They are not going to carry the popular vote, as increasingly very few are listening to right-wing talk radio. Most people probably have never heard of Limbaugh, at least not those voting for Trump. Besides which, Marco Rubio also has a very stilted, robotic delivery, which puts off voters.

And so it looks like, in Kulinski’s words, we may have to get used to saying ‘President Trump’. A chilling prospect.

And part of the blame for this lies in a media that’s paralysed by the fear of being accused of liberal bias, does not check facts or pull Republicans up on their falsehoods, and prefers to concentrate on the election as a kind of horserace, focussing on personalities, rather than policies. And so they’ve allowed American politics to be pulled so far to the right by the Republicans, that it borders on Fascism. And so Trump has an all-too-real possibility of entering the White House.

The Young Turks on Trump Wanting to Kill Muslims with Bullets Dipped in Pig’s Blood

February 23, 2016

Trump & Hitler

More verbal brutality from the prospective generalissimo of America. In this clip from The Young Turks, the anchors Bill Mankiewicz and Elliot Hill discuss another piece of raging, vile rhetoric from the current Republican front runner. In one of his speeches, Trump glowingly recounts an incident from ‘back a bit’ in the early 20th century, when the Americans were faced with a series of terrorist outrages. General Pershing responded by rounding up fifty of the terrorists. 49 of them were shot out of hand with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. The fiftieth was then released to tell his comrades about what happened. ‘And do you know,’ Trump concludes, ‘that for twenty-five years afterwards we didn’t have any problems. We need to do this, or else we’re not going to have a country’.

Trump claims that this story can be found in the history books, but ‘not many, ’cause they don’t like putting it in. Only some.’ Mankiewicz and Elliot point out that the real reason it’s not in the history books is because it didn’t happen. It’s mythical. The incident Trump refers to supposedly happened during the Spanish-American War, when America took the Philippines from Spain. The Philippino people resisted. Mankiewicz points out that as they were the original people, they wouldn’t have wanted either Spanish or Americans. Trump calls the resistance fighters terrorists, but if they had been Americans fighting for America, or on the side of America, they would have been called ‘freedom fighters’. It’s horrible story, but it didn’t happen. He compares the incident, and the way it’s been left out of conventional history books because of its entirely fictional nature, with the way Republicans are trying to sanitise American history. In Texas, for example, the school board has voted to use books that don’t mention slavery, or don’t call it what it was, because it makes America look bad. This is one case where an incident that makes America look bad isn’t in the history books. Mankiewicz points out that if historians really were intent on putting in material just to denigrate America, that incident would be in there.

Mankiewicz and Elliot also discuss the way Trump’s brutal rhetoric, combined with his confidence and easy oratorical style – for example, he asks his audience if they want to hear the tale – is actually desensitising people to the viciousness of what he says. He describes waterboarding as only a very small torture, for example. They point out that this is actually worse than if he’d said it actually was torture, but he believed that it worked and so was justified to protect America from terrorism. This wouldn’t justify it to them – it would still be horrible, but not as vile as simply calling it ‘a very small torture’. But there’s a tendency for people just to laugh it off, and say, well, it’s only Trump being Trump. And that’s dangerous, because it makes light of what he says and what he could clearly do.

It’s a good point. Regarding the supposed use of bullets dipped in pig’s blood, or other pork products, the Israelis were supposed to be using them against the Palestinians. The idea is that some Muslims feel that they will go to hell if they eat even a scrap of pork. And so one of the newspapers over here reported that the Israeli army was using bullets containing small pieces of pork as part of a psychological weapon against them.

As for its use in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, that may be entirely mythical, but the Americans did carry out atrocities there with the intention of spreading terror. For example, after shooting Philippino freedom fighters, they tied inflatable bladders to the corpses and set them floating down rivers in order to make an example of those shot.

And the warning about not taking Trump’s brutal rhetoric is also entirely correct. We’re back to Godwin’s Law again, but it needs to be brought up. During the Weimar period, there were Germans, who went to see Hitler speak simply because it was laugh. They wanted to see who he’d attack next. And very many Germans, and the British politicos too, really didn’t believe that he’d actually do what he said he would, in his speeches and Mein Kampf. Once in power, they thought he could be tamed and controlled into becoming a responsible, conventional politician. They were wrong. And in the resulting War that followed, forty millions died.

There’s a bit in the Bertolucci film, The Conformist, where one of the characters tells the other that when he was in Austria, there was a man, who used to go round bars ranting. No-one took him seriously. ‘We all threw beer bottles at him’. The speaker abruptly concludes, ‘That man was Adolf Hitler’.
It’s the same with Trump now. The temptation is not to take him seriously, because what he says is so outrageous, and the man himself so much a buffoon. But that’s underestimating him. The danger is, he means exactly what he says.

Secular Talk: Son of Trump Defends Waterboarding as Frat Boy Lark

February 12, 2016

More evidence of the congenital, inbred stupidity and malignancy in the Trump genetic heritage. This is a piece from Secular Talk, in which Kyle Kulinski discusses the Spawn of Trump’s defence of waterboarding. Eric Trump has decided that it’s no worse than what students in the American college fraternities get up to, and that his father stands full square ready to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Middle East.

Kulinski points out that waterboarding and other forms of ‘enhanced interrogation’ don’t work. They only work in movies, where the characters have perfect knowledge of the terrorists’ plans through these methods of torture. Furthermore, many of the people rounded up and placed in Gitmo were innocent. They weren’t seized by Special Ops units. Instead, the authorities asked America’s allies in places like Pakistan to arrest and send them their militants. But many of the people they arrested weren’t terrorists, and had no connection with either of those groups. They were just political dissidents the Pakistanis and like regimes didn’t like.

As for waterboarding itself, it was taken from a Chinese Communist torture manual. Kulinski points out that they talk about Justice being blind for a reason. It means that it something’s wrong for one party, it’s wrong for all. This was laid down in the 18th century by the great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. He also points out that when the Japanese did it to Americans during the Second World War, they were hanged as war criminals. If it was a war crime when the forces of Hirohito did it, then it’s also wrong when America and her allies do it.

As for the weird comment about the activities of college fraternities, this should make no difference. Now I have to admit I don’t have any personal experience of frat boy antics. We don’t have fraternities and sororities at British colleges and universities. There’s a family system, of father, grandfather, or mother, grandmother, but when I was there this had basically degenerated in a system of stupid drinking competitions. When you went out on family nights, you were supposed to drink so much more than your college father, who was supposed to drink more than the college grandfather. The result was that the supposedly convivial drinking evenings tended to end fairly, with everyone drinking far too much, and then either running out of money, or being so blind drunk that they had to be taken home. This was thirty years ago in the 1980s, mind. It’s probably different now, not least because pressures of student loans means that you can’t go and get drunk. And students generally aren’t.

There was something similar with the antics of some of the sports societies. They were quite capable of behaving in stupid and asinine ways, usually after having a few pints in them. That doesn’t excuse them either. They were faced with action from the college authorities when they got out of hand. And if someone does something illegal, like some stupid hazing ritual, then they deserve to be prosecuted. Saying that college fraternities do something is not a defence for allowing it. All Trump junior has done with this is probably frighten some parents, who are worried about their children’s safety after hearing stories about wild frat boys. I remember the scandal on Oprah a few decades ago after there were a series of rapes of women, who had remained in college frat houses after parties. Winfrey had on her show women who were understandably afraid of what might happen to their daughters in such environments.

Trump junior is talking rubbish, like his dad. Waterboarding is wrong, and torture, regardless of who does it. Including frat boys.