Courtesy of A+S’s Inaug party (great idea – thanks again), we watched the Inaug live on BBC, though I had to leave before the post-match analysis. I enjoyed it – it was a good show. His speech was well delivered, rousing even, if not great. It was interesting, very listenable, and said some good things. I guess you can get the text of the address from any number of places; wikisource has it, conveniently only two clicks away from El Shrubbo’s. And there is the problem: GWB says many nice things too. Who said While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth; and sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation; and this is my solemn pledge, “I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.” The answer, of course, is Bush. He was lying; only time will tell about Obama.

Highlights of the show:

* When Obama said As for our common defense, we accept as false the choice between our safety and our ideals the screen cut to a stony-faced Bush for a second or two. Everyone laughed (at him). That can only be a promise to give up torture and the other evils of the Bush presidency; lets hope Obama lives up to it.
* At In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing we all laughed and said “that’s us!” (that was OK though; our real foreign policy mistake was failing to support the South in the civil war).
* Joseph Lowery and his may the yellow be mellow. Though apparently its not new, it sounded great.

Reading the entrails, from my own narrow perspective:

* each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet – recognises global warming, I suppose, but in a way that will offend no-one.
* We will restore science to its rightful place – a dig a Bush’s politisation of science, perhaps, and a promise to do better.
* We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories – alternative energy; good. Biofuel boondoggles; bad.

There was lots of stuff about Hard Choices. That was good; now is a time to promise such stuff, and it makes it harder for people to complain later if you do make such choices. But there was no clarity about what the Hard bits might turn out to be; so we’ll have to wait to see. Reaching out to the Muslim world was good too. He even made a token nod towards the atheists: We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. Though somehow or other, in a land that pretends to believe in seperation of church and state, it was all very christian.

The poem… tricky stuff, poems. I wasn’t impressed, nor were the folks around me. Apparently its not common to have a poem; this is only the fourth time; and it doesn’t come close to the Gift Outright [Update: its here. On second thoughts, I think much the same. Don't get professors to write poetry]. Although, if that link is to be believed, Frost had a lucky escape from “Dedication”. So I leave you with:

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia.
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak.
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

[This has had lots of comments, thank you. But they are starting to repeat. I'm going to be more aggressive in deleting attempts to get the last word -W]

Comments

  1. #1 The Ridger
    2009/01/20

    The poem reads better than she read it. Poets often do a bad job of reading. But occasional poetry is a tricky genre – the Muse doesn’t often answer such calls.

  2. #2 Rich Puchalsky
    2009/01/20

    Lots of obscure people did inaugural poems; if you want, you can try mine. Frost made an epic save when he replaced “Dedication” with “The Gift Outright” — I always wondered, since I first heard the story, whether the confused mixture of complaints about wind and sun were just his way of concealing that he suddenly realized he’d written a bad poem and wanted to replace it with one of his better ones.

  3. #3 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    You must have watched a different inauguration.

    The answer, of course, is Bush. He was lying; only time will tell about Obama.

    Bush wasn’t lying. But lefties are so blinded by their hatred for the right they can’t see that.

    As for “torture”: leaping 80 stories to avoid a fiery death after phoning your loved ones to say goodbye is torture. Putting up with a bit of simulated drowning is not, and if it prevented another 9/11, all for the better. You can bet Obama won’t rule out using the same tactics to keep the US safe, and nor should he.

    [If "Putting up with a bit of simulated drowning" wasn't torture, they wouldn't be doing it -W]

    You have your own hard choice to make: accept the bet I offered or admit that either A) you think the naughties were abnormal, or B) the IPCC range of 0.2C-0.3C is baloney. Or come up with a counter-offer. We’ll be able to reverse engineer it to see what you really believe.

    [AFAIK we're still negotiating the terms -W]

  4. #4 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    If “Putting up with a bit of simulated drowning” wasn’t torture, they wouldn’t be doing it -W

    Or more abstractly, “Anything they do to coerce information out of a reluctant detainee must, by definition, be torture, or they wouldn’t be doing it”. That’s a useful definition of torture. Not. Let’s hope Obama doesn’t abide by your definition.

    [If you're referencing your behaviour to that of terrorists, you've lost. Bush (and it would seem, you) doesn't understand this; I'm hopeful that Obama does -W]

    AFAIK we’re still negotiating the terms -W

    The ball’s in your court.

    [Yes -W]

  5. #5 J
    2009/01/21

    Mugwump writes “Putting up with a bit of simulated drowning is not [torture]“

    During WWII Japanese soldiers and prison-camp guards subjected captured US and allied personnel to waterboarding.

    The US unequivocally considered this torture at the time, and in the postwar Tokyo War Crimes Trials, we charged Japanese officials with war crimes specifically for incidents of waterboarding.

    See here for examples of testimony in which American soldiers described being tortured via waterboarding:

    [From one of soldier's testimony:] They would lash me to a stretcher then prop me up against a table with my head down. They would then pour about two gallons of water from a pitcher into my nose and mouth until I lost consciousness.

    And from the second prisoner: They laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. . . . They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was almost impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water.

    That was considered torture at the time, and people who used waterboarding against us or our allies were convicted of war crimes.

    It’s frankly disgusting to see Mugwump enthusiastically promoting torture, in fact the very same forms of torture that Hirohito’s regime used so brutally against our own people and allies in WWII. Hopefully non-US readers of this blog understand that a majority of Americans disagree with Mugwump’s filthy pro-torture views.

  6. #6 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    If you’re referencing your behaviour to that of terrorists, you’ve lost.

    Of course I am referencing my behaviour to that of terrorists, but not in the way you think. If there were no terrorists, we would not need to coerce information from them. But I see no need for my children to die in terrorist attacks that can be (and no doubt have been) prevented by relatively benign techniques of coercion.

  7. #7 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    It’s frankly disgusting to see Mugwump enthusiastically promoting torture

    Oh get off your high horse J. What’s torture? I am not promoting slicing open people’s guts and forcing them to eat their own entrails.

    Do you condone sleep deprivation? Forcing people to stand naked in the cold? No? Then how would you feel if you saw your children die in an attack that could have been prevented by some vigorous questioning? That it’s a price worth paying so you can hold true to some limp lefty notion of torture?

  8. #8 Andrew Dodds
    2009/01/21

    mugwump -

    You are making the assumption that the techniques given actually work.. too much watching 24? How much info about upcoming attacks do you think that Gitmo inmates would have had after a year in isolation, anyway?

    Worse still, people can and will say anything to make the torture stop. This does not make the information reliable.

    Just out of interest, if you matched the description of a terrorist and were picked up off the street, would you approve of your being flown out of the country so that these technques were practiced on you (think of the children!), or would you prefer the softy-liberal approach of a phone call and a lawyer?

  9. #9 J
    2009/01/21

    You’re promoting a form of torture that the US has always considered a war crime, and for which we prosecuted Japanese personnel who used it to torture our soldiers and our allies’.

    The fact that Japanese prison-camp guards believed waterboarding captured Americans was necessary to protect Japan’s security was rightfully considered irrelevant in the war crimes tribunal.

    I’d better end this comment here, before I write what I really think of you. William runs a nice blog and I don’t want to spoil it. So I’ll leave it at that.

  10. #10 JCH
    2009/01/21

    On torture, I listen to General Fred Haynes, who served with my father in the 28th Regiment on Iwo Jima:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssL-ehNUZJk.

    http://us.macmillan.com/thelionsofiwojima

  11. #11 P. Lewis
    2009/01/21

    J, you can’t say anything to people like mugwump to change their minds.

    They are always “right” and they are largely ineducable in the face of exhortations from the specialists, the people who know what they’re talking about, whether it be AGW, torture efficacy or any other subject the mugwumps of this world are non-specialist at. It’s a personality disorder-type thing I reckon, thought I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise by a specialist in these things.

    Must admit, though, it would be nice to see the mugwumps of this world subjected to DJ Waletzky’s party trick and have the party trickster pose them the statement “Tell me you believe in AGW and I’ll stop!”, film the episode and then put it on YouTube as evidence that they believe in AGW and the efficacy of torture.

    Do you reckon that might change their minds on AGW and torture?

    A delicious trap with lashings (tsk, tsk) of irony that, I think.

  12. #12 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    I don’t condone torture any more than the next guy. But it all comes down to what you mean by torture. J hasn’t answered my question: is standing in the cold naked torture? Sleep deprivation? Tell me J, where do you draw the line.

    Confessions under duress? Worthless. I’d throw them out too if I was the judge. But the point is not to extract a confession. It’s to obtain actionable intelligence that will save innocent lives.And you can bet your ass the information we got from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was actionable.

    Just out of interest, if you matched the description of a terrorist and were picked up off the street, would you approve of your being flown out of the country so that these technques were practiced on you (think of the children!), or would you prefer the softy-liberal approach of a phone call and a lawyer?

    Just out of interest, how many Gitmo inmates were picked up off the street because they “matched” the description of a terrorist (as opposed to actually being a terrorist)? And yeah, strangely enough, my children do influence my beliefs. Wouldn’t be much of a father if they didn’t.

  13. #13 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    It’s a personality disorder-type thing I reckon, thought I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise by a specialist in these things.

    Tell me P. Lewis, are you capable of forming an opinion on anything without input from a “specialist”? How do you decide what to eat for breakfast?

  14. #14 P. Lewis
    2009/01/21

    I open the cupboard and see what’s there … idiot!

  15. #15 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    A delicious trap with lashings (tsk, tsk) of irony that, I think.

    Hardly. If you are seeking actionable intelligence the subject knows there’ll be more if they feed you baloney. Very different from confession extraction, which I agree is pointless.

    I see now why you rely so much on “specialists”.

  16. #16 P. Lewis
    2009/01/21

    There’s this:

    A reporter pointed out that “some of the tactics that were used in particular in Guantanamo Bay … are now prohibited” and asked, “does that limit the ability of interrogators to get information that could be very useful?”

    GEN. KIMMONS: Let me answer the first question. That’s a good question. I think—I am absolutely convinced the answer to your first question is no. No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that.

    And moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, under—through the use of abusive techniques would be of questionable credibility. And additionally, it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can’t afford to go there.

    Source

    And this:

    Basically, I accepted the point, at least as far as the struggle against Al Qaeda and its imitators was concerned, but it’s striking how often the hard men who make the hard decisions to fight it out in the shadows snatch the wrong people, then fail to follow through. Only after a new commanding officer had arrived and official inquiries had issued their reports did we learn that 40 percent of those penned up at Guantanamo never belonged there in the first place. At Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the record was even worse: two-thirds of the detainees were eventually said to have been innocent of terrorist links. At least when they were picked up. Who knows what leanings they developed or links they forged during and after their interrogations?

    Source

    One or two of the many such sources.

    And also from the latter source:

    Then there was the waterboarding in 2003 of Yousef’s uncle, the putative mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, who’s invariably referred to as ”K.S.M.” rather than his name, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. K.S.M., we’re led to believe, was soon broken and soon talked. However, official sources again differ on a key point — whether he talked about the past or future, about the plot he led or plots that had yet to surface. One former official who had seen the complete record of the interrogation told me it ”saved thousands of American lives.” I found that hard to believe. My own feeling was that my source was getting carried away either by my promise of anonymity or his wish to demonstrate his own effectiveness. If a plot on such a scale had been demonstrably foiled, I can’t help believing, we’d have heard of it at some point during the 2004 presidential campaign.

    Oh, and mugwump, you’ll definitely be top of my contact list when I need that specialist advice in “being wrong on so many things”. You certainly are one of the experts in that particular field.

  17. #17 J
    2009/01/21

    Mugwump writes:

    I don’t condone torture any more than the next guy. But it all comes down to what you mean by torture. J hasn’t answered my question: is standing in the cold naked torture? Sleep deprivation? Tell me J, where do you draw the line.

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with my opinion. The plain fact is that historically the US government and our allies specifically defined waterboarding as torture, and after WWII we convicted Axis nations’ personnel of war crimes in part for using waterboarding on our soldiers.

    Waterboarding is torture, period.

  18. #18 mugwump
    2009/01/21

    after WWII we convicted Axis nations’ personnel of war crimes in part for using waterboarding on our soldiers.

    “In part” being the operative qualification. As for what was considered a war crime, Associate Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas had this to say:

    “I thought at the time and still think that the Nuremberg trials were unprincipled,” he wrote. “Law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time.”

    But I share your concerns. I don’t think anyone should be given a blank waterboarding check. Probably case-by-case approval by the president should be the norm. But applied judiciously (and as far as we know only three times since 9/11), it can be extraordinarily effective:

    According to sources familiar with a private interview of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he claimed to have been waterboarded five times.[91] A CIA official told ABC News that “he had been water-boarded, and had won the admiration of his interrogators because it took him two to two-and-half minutes to start confessing—well beyond the average of 14 seconds observed in others”.[98] This is disputed by two former CIA officers who are reportedly friends with one of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s interrogators. The officers called this “bravado” and claimed that he was waterboarded only once. According to one of the officers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed needed only to be shown the drowning equipment again before he “broke”. “Waterboarding works”, the former officer said. “Drowning is a baseline fear. So is falling. People dream about it. It’s human nature. Suffocation is a very scary thing. When you’re waterboarded, you’re inverted, so it exacerbates the fear. It’s not painful, but it scares the shit out of you”. This former officer had been waterboarded himself in a training course. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he claimed, “didn’t resist. He sang right away. He cracked real quick”. He said, “A lot of them want to talk. Their egos are unimaginable. [He] was just a little doughboy. He couldn’t stand toe to toe and fight it out”.[91] After being subjected to waterboarding, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed claimed involvement in thirty-one terrorist plots.[99]

  19. #19 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/21

    Ok I’ll wade in. AFAIK the US stopped water boarding four or more years ago. It doesn’t appear to have been done much. It hasn’t been an issue in some time. Lots of things happen, this probably isn’t the worst.

    After 9/11 people expected another attack in the US and generally approved of anything to stop it. As time has gone by the pendulum has shifted, which is to be expected.

    [I partly agree, if what you are saying is that public demands and acceptance determine what can and will be done. With a strong moral leadership, the torture wouldn't have happened. With Bush, it did -W]

    Obama has said that he doesn’t approve of torture, and that he will abide by the Geneva convention. This doesn’t mean much because torture is what you call it. The Bush administration formerly took the position that water boarding wasn’t torture and then changed their minds. Illegal combatants aren’t subject to the Geneva convention so it doesn’t apply.

    [As a form of words, it doesn't matter. As an intention, it does. The very notion of illegal combatants is a Bushist evasion of the ruiles; hopefully Obama will drop that too -W]

    The strong statement Obama could make is that he will apply the Geneva convention to all captured combatants. But I doubt very much that a Harvard law graduate will fall into that trap.

  20. #20 Brian Schmidt
    2009/01/21

    The interesting thing about the ticking-bomb scenario is that it’s most applicable for the situation that even the torture fans stay away from – actual warfare. I’m sure that US troops in WW II may have thought info from captives on enemy strength would be very useful during cave-to-cave and house-to-house fighting.

    OTOH, Senator Franken has pointed out that many German soldiers disbelieved Nazi lies and surrendered to Allied troops because their fathers had been well-treated as captives during WW I. That’s what it partly comes down to for me – I don’t even care if some of the info from torture is useful, the cost exceeds the benefits.

    Back to the inaugural though – Obama is from a maize state and has a terrible stand on ethanol. Getting him away from that will be difficult, but could be an interesting test of science in the new administration.

    And re the US Civil War – the Brits had to decide whether to play double or nothing – chance of weakening a rival with a chance of losing Canada. Either outcome may have deprived Britain of an ally in WW I, and British officers might then have argued that they had to torture captured Germans in order to keep the Kaiser’s troops from capturing Paris.

  21. #21 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/21

    Mr. Schmidt,

    The one thing I am sure of is that neither you nor I have any idea what happened in actual warfare.

  22. #22 JCH
    2009/01/21

    “The one thing I am sure of is that neither you nor I have any idea what happened in actual warfare. …”

    But General Haynes does, not just one war, three wars:

    WW2
    Korea
    Vietnam

  23. #23 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/22

    JCH,

    General Haynes has earned the right to his opinion. I wouldn’t argue with him. I am also glad that I didn’t have to make these decisions after 9/11 because I don’t think they were easy.

  24. #24 mugwump
    2009/01/22

    And I seriously doubt had Obama been president on 9/11 that he would have avoided use of waterboarding or some equally coercive technique.

    One thing you cannot take away from Bush: there was no second attack.

  25. #25 mugwump
    2009/01/22

    President Obama will sign Executive Orders … restricting CIA interrogation tactics to those listed in the Army Field Manual.

    Hmm. What about the “high-value” detainees? We’re just going to live with the consequences of not knowing what they’re up to?

    Apparently not:

    The new White House counsel, Gregory B. Craig, … acknowledged concerns from intelligence officials that new restrictions on C.I.A. methods might be unwise and indicated that the White House might be open to allowing the use of methods other the 19 techniques allowed for the military.

    Thankfully, it looks like Obama is more interested in protecting American lives than he is in protecting lefty shibboleths.

    [from the NYT]

  26. #26 Rich Puchalsky
    2009/01/22

    I suggest that comments like mugwump’s just be deleted. People like him are no longer in control. Why get into another disgusting round of torture-isn’t-torture?

    Yeah, there will be complaints about censorship, but who cares. This is a personal blog. No one is forcing you to listen to every last denialist for the next twenty years.

    [Mugwump pushes the envelope, but hasn't needed deletion yet. It all flows over -W]

  27. #27 guthrie
    2009/01/22

    Personally, I’d rather not be in the same room as someone who appears to think that you have to earn a right to an opinion.

  28. #28 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/22

    guthrie,

    If you were referring to my comments I’m sorry if my figure of speech offended you. I actually don’t think every opinion is equal. For example General Haynes opinion on this topic is more important than mine due to his experience.

    On the other hand I agree with WC that mugwump’s opinions are not delete worthy.

  29. #29 P. Lewis
    2009/01/22

    W, I’ve had a post in moderation for over 24 h. Have you deleted it?

    [No, just forgotten it :-). Released now -W]

  30. #30 Andrew Dodds
    2009/01/23

    mugwump -

    Apart from Madrid and London, no more attacks. Hmmm.

    In any case, the shifting of intelligence resources away from a know, growing terrorist threat to trying to dig up dirt on Clinton was a feature of the run-up to 9/11 – after all there had already been one attack on the WTC, so it is quite possible that had the candidate with the most votes been elected in 2000, 9/11 would not have happened.

  31. #31 Dunc
    2009/01/23

    One thing you cannot take away from Bush: there was no second attack.

    Yeah, the Bear Patrol must be working like a charm…

  32. #32 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/23

    “Torture is what you call it” is a fraud and treachery that condemns you to the eighth circle of hell. It is a refusal to accept moral responsibility. To deal with such behavior specific tortures are defined in international agreements, waterboarding being one such case.

    Accepting moral responsibility means accepting risks. Indeed this was one of the most important things that Obama said in his inauguration speech

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

    Moral wussdom has become the American way. We need to change

  33. #33 mugwump
    2009/01/23

    Apart from Madrid and London, no more attacks. Hmmm

    I rest my case. No second attack on the US. What Europeans do or not do to prevent terrorist attacks on their soil is largely outside the control of the US.

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

    With all due respect to the President (and I do think he will be better than the one that just left), that’s easy for him to say today.

    Every country compromises its ideals in times of war. 9/11 was an unprovoked act of war. You need look no further than the US constitution itself to see that the founders explicitly allowed for such compromise:

    The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

  34. #34 P. Lewis
    2009/01/23

    The right to suspend habeus corpus is not a right of the state or its representatives to then engage in torture practices.

    Moreover, the USA is a signatory (ratified in 1994) to United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 2 of which

    prohibits torture, and requires parties to take effective measures to prevent it in any territory under its jurisdiction. This prohibition is absolute and non-derogable. “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever”[5] may be invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict.[6] Torture cannot be justified as a means to protect public safety or prevent emergencies.[6] Neither can it be justified by orders from superior officers or public officials.[7] The prohibition on torture applies to all territories under a party’s effective jurisdiction, and protects all people under its effective control, regardless of citizenship or how that control is exercised.
    Wikipedia

  35. #35 mugwump
    2009/01/23

    The right to suspend habeus corpus is not a right of the state or its representatives to then engage in torture practices.

    No, but it indicates that far from being a false choice, “the choice between our safety and our ideals” is embedded in the constitution itself.

    Three known terrorists were subject to waterboarding 5 years ago. They yielded copious quantities of actionable intelligence that probably saved many American lives. Get over it. The left pretend to be horrified by the supposed violation of international law/ideals/whatever, but in reality their reaction would be far more muted had it not been a Republican President who authorized it.

    Where is the outrage over Clinton’s introduction of extraordinary rendition?

    Why don’t you guys just cut the pretense, admit this is just about your hatred of Republicans and George Bush, and move on?

  36. #36 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/23

    I note that the new administration while signing an order to make the army field manual the standard, has simultaneously appointed a “task force” empowered with figuring out if the army field manual is sufficient. In testimony members of the administration have taken the position that if they do make any changes to allowed techniques this will be classified.

    Lots of wiggle room, and they will need it.

  37. #37 Chip Knappenberger
    2009/01/23

    William,

    This post is off topic, but I was not sure where else to get your attention.

    An informative discussion of the recent publication on Antarctic temperatures is taking place over at Real Climate. Eric Steig, the lead author of the Nature paper (as well as the RC post) makes reference (in the RC post) to your work on modeled temperature trends across Antarctica (Connolley and Bracegirdle, GRL, 2007). In fact, Steig suggests that although models are noisy, that your results show that models generally produce warming across East Antarctica similar to the warming found by Steig et al. Steig describes the match as such: “As it happens, the average of the 19 models in AR4 is similar to our results — showing significant warming in West Antarctica over the last several decades (see Connolley and Bracegirdle’s Figure 1).”

    Since you know that the sign of the trend of temperatures across much of Antarctica changes depending on the start date (e.g. Chapman and Walsh, 2007; Monaghan et al. 2008), I was wondering whether the models capture this behavior or not. In other words, had your Figure 1 included a panel c and d which showed the modeled trends from 1970-2000, would they have looked much different than the 1960-2000 results shown in your Figure 1a and 1b? By guess is not, but I could be wrong.

    I think the answer to this question may help shed a little more light on whether things in Antarctica are proceeding according to plan or not and whether the model/observation correspondence remarked upon by Steig was by happenstance or not.

    Thanks for any insight you may have and care to share on the topic!

    -Chip Knappenberger

  38. #38 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/23

    Every country compromises its ideals in times of war.

    And the moral wusses never had any ideals which is why they should be ignored.

  39. #39 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/23

    Gee ER I guess we can’t torture them, but we can just kill them. As long as we don’t get any information then everything is ok.

  40. #40 mugwump
    2009/01/23

    Right NN. You can be sure no ideals were compromised for safety in Obama’s latest missile strike.

    I mean, only candy-assed “wusses” would consider the deaths of innocent children to be in any way comparable to the heinous crime of waterboarding.

  41. #41 Brian Schmidt
    2009/01/23

    Didn’t see any child deaths in the report, m.

    You might benefit from examining just war theories though. Your idea that torture is less worse than killing, and killing is sometimes moral, therefore torture is sometimes moral, has not had a great deal of historical support.

  42. #42 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/23

    Mr. Schmidt,

    If two of the 17 were non-combatants would that be acceptable collateral damage? I understand your comments about killing versus torturing. How about killing versus tough interrogation? How about killing versus capturing and putting them in Guantanamo? My point is that this isn’t as simple as people like to make it.

  43. #43 mugwump
    2009/01/23

    Didn’t see any child deaths in the report, m.

    No?

    Security officials said the strikes, which saw up to five missiles slam into houses in separate villages, killed seven “foreigners” – a term that usually means al-Qaeda – but locals also said that three children lost their lives.

    [times]

    Your idea that torture is less worse than killing, and killing is sometimes moral, therefore torture is sometimes moral, has not had a great deal of historical support.

    Nor is it my “idea”.

    My idea is that people who feign outrage at the waterboarding of 3 high-value detainees half a decade ago yet overlook similar if not worse “violations of our ideals” by Democrat Presidents are hypocrites.

  44. #44 P. Lewis
    2009/01/23

    Where is the outrage over Clinton’s introduction of extraordinary rendition?

    Why don’t you guys just cut the pretense, admit this is just about your hatred of Republicans and George Bush, and move on?

    mugwump, you just don’t get it.

    I don’t care who introduced extraordinary rendition. It is wrong whoever introduced it.

    And I see you skirted the US’s obligation under the UN CAT! A UN treaty that was signed under that “arch leftie” Ronald Reagan’s tenure.

  45. #45 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/23

    Mr. Nierenberg, it is very simple if you want to maintain any respect. There are things that simply cannot be done to others if you wish to retain any semblance of humanity. If that means that we have to take some risk, so be it.

  46. #46 mugwump
    2009/01/24

    mugwump, you just don’t get it.I don’t care who introduced extraordinary rendition. It is wrong whoever introduced it.

    But strange how it only got major attention from the left when Bush was in charge.

    Fortunately our present leader does not seem to agree with you. He has left plenty of wiggle room on the interrogation technique front. The whitehouse has said that any changes in interrogation standards will be classified. You can bet that had Bush said that it would have received much more media attention and faux outrage from the left.

    And yeah, on my scale of moral outrage I am far more concerned about the deaths of innocent children than I am about the psychological well-being of a bunch of nutjobs whose professed goal in life is to kill me.

  47. #47 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/24

    ER, it is the definition of those things that we are discussing. My argument is that this definition isn’t simple.

  48. #48 JCH
    2009/01/25

    If an enemy elects to surround himself with civilians, then there is no perfect choice. Once he’s captured, there is a choice.

  49. #49 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/25

    Yeah, NN, you and Larry Flynt probably don’t know what pornography is either. Cut the nonsense.

  50. #50 mugwump
    2009/01/25

    If an enemy elects to surround himself with civilians, then there is no perfect choice. Once he’s captured, there is a choice.

    We could choose to capture said enemy, instead of incinerating him and his children. But somehow choosing to incinerate innocents is more moral than choosing to interrogate those very few (3!) detainees we knew had information that would save innocent lives.

    I’ve seen nothing here to indicate that the faux moral outrage from the left is anything more than partisan posturing.

  51. #51 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/25

    oooo Interogate, what a cute little sanitized word. We were talking about torture, but then again, given what we know about the CIA secret prisons, Guantanimo, Abu Ghraib, and more a lot of innocent men women and children were tortured too. Of course you will close your eyes and go la-la-la-la.

    It really is just a farcical replay of the “controversy” about how many were killed in Iraq in the last six years or so. Se Deltoid for giggles as the denialists try to define their way out. With statistics even.

    Obama was right, it is time to put away childish things and uncover our eyes.

  52. #52 JCH
    2009/01/25

    To capture an enemy, you usually have to close on the ground. That means you will very likely have to send “telegrams” to American families telling them their loved one is MIA, WIA, KIA, etc. It is more moral to keep your own kids alive if possible. The enemy dictated the situation.

    Once they’re captured, the choices are easy. You’re either a pile of stuff, or you’re not.

  53. #53 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/26

    ER,

    Actually I would say that I have no idea when something becomes pornographic, it really is the same principle. I’m surprised that you would think there is a clear line.

  54. #54 mugwump
    2009/01/26

    Once they’re captured, the choices are easy.

    Yes, you can use soft interrogation techniques and when they yield no information and the inevitable next attack comes send “telegrams” to American families telling them their loved ones died to protect America’s image amongst its own self-styled leftist elites and European Socialists.

  55. #55 mugwump
    2009/01/26

    a lot of innocent men women and children were tortured too.

    Yeah, right, because Seymour Hersh said so. Regardless, Abu Ghraib was not US policy.

  56. #56 Phil Hays
    2009/01/27

    It is interesting to consider the effect of information gained by torture on the course of World War II.

    The Japanese surrender for example. The Japanese Army was confident of victory when the Allies eventually tried to land on the Japanese Homeland. Even two atomic bombings didn’t change the confidence in victory of the commander of the Japanese army, General Anami. General Anami was also a key person in the Cabinet, in that his resignation would force a new government to be formed, a lengthy process.

    What did remove General Anami’s confidence in victory was receiving the reports from the torturing of a captured American pilot, Lt. Marcus McDilda. The pilot told his interrogators that a hundred nuclear bombs had just been taken off a ship, and there would soon be 3 bombs dropped per day, and the next targets were Kyoto and Tokyo. Lt McDilda was right about the next target being Tokyo, but American nuclear production was about one bomb every two weeks. Parts for the next bomb had just reached San Francisco on August 14, when the surrender was announced. Kyoto wasn’t on the initial target list. Lt McDilda didn’t know anything about future targets, bomb production or how the bomb worked. He just made it up.

    Beating someone for two full days, ripping their fingernails out and such what abuse doesn’t mean that they will tell the truth.

    General Anami reported that the Americans had 100 bombs, and they could drop three per day, to the Imperial Cabinet on August 9. Less than twelve hours later, the Emperor ordered the surrender. General Anami could have blocked the surrender by resigning. He could have blocked the surrender by joining with the rebels unwilling to surrender, who seized the Imperial Palace for a while and held the Emperor as a captive. Other cabinet members were suspicious of his apparent docility, as he had been a fierce advocate of continued resistance. He suggested changes in the Emperor’s speech announcing the surrender to make it more likely that the Army would comply. Why the change? As one of his aides remarked “They don’t have to invade. There will be nothing left but ashes.”

    Of course, it is hard to unravel the causation of events. It is clear, however, that the lies of Lt. Marcus McDilda while he was getting his fingernails ripped out helped to bring about the Japanese surrender. His interrogators thought he knew something, so they demanded he tell them. The truth didn’t stop the torture, as they didn’t believe that he didn’t know anything about the nuclear program. So they forced him to lie. And they believed his lies. And their commanders acted on his lies.

    The surrender of Japan ended the bloodshed and starvation of the war. So in some ways, this was a gain for humanity. But it doesn’t have to be so… Was the invasion of Iraq by the USA based on false information gained by torture? If the key papers didn’t get burned by the Bush Administration, we might find this out.

  57. #57 mugwump
    2009/01/27

    So they forced him to lie. And they believed his lies. And their commanders acted on his lies.

    Nice story. I don’t believe it. You think the people who do this for a living don’t know that false information can be given under torture? Googling McDilda:

    The next morning, McDilda was flown from Osaka to Tokyo where he became a “very important person” to the Japanese secret police. McDilda’s questioner in Tokyo was a civilian who wore a pinstripe suit. “I am a graduate of CCNY College,” he told McDilda, “and most interested in your story about the atomic bomb.” McDilda repeated his story again. After several minutes, the official knew that McDilda was a fake who knew nothing about nuclear fission. When asked why he was telling such a lie, McDilda responded that he had tried, without success, to tell his interrogators that he knew nothing about the bomb but had to invent the lie to stay alive. The Japanese official laughed. McDilda was taken to a cell, given some food, and waited for the unknown.

  58. #58 Phil Hays
    2009/01/27

    Lies rarely fool everyone. As far as anyone knows, General Korechika Anami believed McDilda’s lies until Anami’s death by suicide, on the day before the surrender was announced by the Emperor. Others were not fooled.

    The surrender of Japan was an uncertain thing. The Japanese Army had a history of overriding decisions of the Emperor that were “ill advised”, and murdering any advisers that might be involved. Perhaps McDilda wouldn’t have been believed if Anami had more understanding of physics. The head of the Navy did, didn’t believe any of McDilda’s story, and was arguing in a Cabinet meeting that the Americans “couldn’t use more bombs in rapid succession”. While he was talking the Nagasaki bomb was dropped. Talk about a loss of face…

    McDilda’s explanation of how a bomb worked was nonsense. But other of his lies matched with some known facts. Case in point: The Japanese, by listening to radio traffic, had become aware of the 509th Group. It was puzzling, the odd training, the high priority of the group and the fact that this group wasn’t flying regular missions over Japan. After the Hiroshima bomb, the Japanese discovered that it was dropped by a plane from the 509th. McDilda told them that the limiting factor on how fast nuclear bombs could be dropped was the special training that bomber crews needed to complete first. This was yet another lie, but matched the known information on the 509th group.

    Torturers need to justify their horrible actions. They need to believe that they have gotten better information from torture than the USA’s best method of interrogation during the Second World War. In case you don’t know, a quiet room, small talk about things unrelated to war, and if the prisoner wants to talk, let him talk for as long as he wants to. About whatever he wants to. But it is fairly clear that the torture isn’t any better than the quiet room with a comfy chair in getting useful information…

    I’ll suggest a book: “Mistakes were made (but not by me)” by Tavris and Aronson to help you to understand why. Amazon has it.

  59. #59 mugwump
    2009/01/27

    Your ex post facto conclusion that it was lies under torture that brought an end to Japanese resistance is highly implausible. Near total destruction of two Japanese cities within the space of a few days was the reason they surrendered. At the time the US was producing nearly a bomb a week, and could have dropped another one on August 17 or 18 had Japan not surrendered two days earlier.

    But it is fairly clear that the torture isn’t any better than the quiet room with a comfy chair in getting useful information…

    Baloney.

  60. #60 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/27

    Compare and contrast:

    Yes, you can use soft interrogation techniques and when they yield no information and the inevitable next attack comes send “telegrams” to American families telling them their loved ones died to protect America’s image amongst its own self-styled leftist elites and European Socialists.

    Your ex post facto conclusion that it was lies under torture that brought an end to Japanese resistance is highly implausible.

    Waving the magic wand again muddy. Yes we know it is hard to admit that your country tortured out of fear. Live with it, learn from it

  61. #61 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/27

    Look, the reason not to torture isn’t because it doesn’t work, it is because it is immoral. Resorting to arguments that it is more effective to be a nice guy with prisoners, is like the people who argue that subsidies and taxes to promote green energy creates jobs. It just isn’t the real reason, and it confuses the argument.

  62. #62 Phil Hays
    2009/01/28

    Look, the reason not to torture isn’t because it doesn’t work, it is because it is immoral.

    Both are true. Torture doesn’t work, and torture is immoral.

    [Um. I think NN has got you here. If studies showed that torture *was* effective, you wouldn't change your mind. This seems all too reminiscent of sceptics arguments against the science of GW: what they really mean is, don't restrict my use of fossil fuels or affect my lifestyle; but they choose a proxy argument against the science -W]

  63. #63 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/28

    No, NN doen’t have anyone. Studies show that lots of immoral things work. That’s why there are morals and sanctions.

    What is interesting here is the desperation of those trying to justify the behavior of those acting in their name. What torture is at base is vengeance, a lashing out against enemies real and imagined

    [I think you've missed the point. We know lots of moral things work, at least short term. That is indeed part of why we have morals. However, PH was trying to argue that torture was not a good idea because it didn't work (in one particular case). NN correctly points out that this isn't a good point to argue. Its taking something you already *know* for other reasons, and buttressing it with things that don't affect your opinion in the least, in the hope that you might convince someone else -W]

  64. #64 mugwump
    2009/01/28

    This seems all too reminiscent of sceptics arguments against the science of GW: what they really mean is, don’t restrict my use of fossil fuels or affect my lifestyle; but they choose a proxy argument against the science

    You have it backwards. Greenies use AGW as a proxy argument against our lifestyle choices. If they really cared about global warming they’d be pushing a lot harder for the one technology that could make a difference: nuclear. Instead we get all kinds of fiddling with vehicular CO2 emissions, renewable energy mandates, etc while Rome is supposedly burning.

  65. #65 Phil Hays
    2009/01/28

    Um. I think NN has got you here. If studies showed that torture *was* effective, you wouldn’t change your mind. This seems all too reminiscent of sceptics arguments against the science of GW: what they really mean is, don’t restrict my use of fossil fuels or affect my lifestyle; but they choose a proxy argument against the science -W

    If studies showed that pigs can fly, my world view would change.

    If torture was effective, it would still be immoral. Things would be different, however, in that there might be cases when torturing someone was the least immoral act that someone could do.

    [Ah, OK, I misunderstood you. I prefer the position I misunderstood you to have -W]

    Studies show, however that even stress not generally considered torture (such as getting questioned for six hours straight) isn’t helpful in getting true information from someone. Getting false information, and having the person in charge of the questioning believe it are common outcomes.

  66. #66 mugwump
    2009/01/28

    Getting false information, and having the person in charge of the questioning believe it are common outcomes.

    Fortunately that was not the case with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

    Things would be different, however, in that there might be cases when torturing someone was the least immoral act that someone could do.

    We have agreement! Waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the least immoral choice. Thankyou.

  67. #67 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2009/01/28

    Excellent Mr. Hays. Now we I would like to cleanly remove the moral issue and test your belief that torture doesn’t work with a hypothetical.

    A man has buried your (daughter, wife, son, mother, father) and that person refuses to tell you where he/she is buried. You know that they have a limited amount of time before they run out of air, and you have complete control over the man who has done this.

    My question is do you sit with him in a nice room with a cup of tea and reason with him. Or very rapidly do you decide to hurt him in whatever way is necessary to tell you where they are buried. He won’t be released unless you confirm what he has told you is true, and you promise to do something worse if he has lied to you.

    Forget the morality of torturing this man. We have separated out that issue, so you can’t get me on the unfair hypothetical because of society versus individual etc. I am just talking about efficacy.

    My question is would you do it? Or would you hope that he tells you as a result of kind treatment. Or would you just accept that your loved one is as good as dead?

  68. #68 Phil Hays
    2009/01/29

    Ah, OK, I misunderstood you. I prefer the position I misunderstood you to have -W

    I tend to make practical arguments first, for if something isn’t useful, the argument as to the morality is secondary and of lessor interest.

    Fortunately that was not the case with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

    As far as I’m aware, he confessed to lots of crimes, some decades old that he didn’t seem to be connected to in any significant way. And nothing useful. Lots of false leads, few if any new facts.

    A former Pentagon analyst: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”

    Oh, and Wikipedia has this quote: “many of Mohammed’s claims during interrogation were ‘white noise’ designed to send the U.S. on wild goose chases or to get him through the day’s interrogation session.”

    Is any of this a surprise to anyone? Even the Holy Inquisition figured this out, after only a few hundred years of practice.

    “Cautio Criminalis” by Friedrich von Spee. Amazon has a translation. I’ve heard that the original (first published in 1631) is still in print, but I don’t read German, so I can’t verify this.

    The Hypothetical.

    I just might give him a cup of tea, and point out to him that: “I am a very patient person. Actions, or the lack of actions, have consequences. Time is ticking away. You don’t have much time left to act. Do you understand what the consequences of your actions, or lack thereof, might be?”

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as “reasoning with him”, however.

  69. #69 J
    2009/01/29

    Here’s another example of someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. Col. Steven Kleinman led a team of intelligence analysts assigned to provide training in interrogation techniques in Iraq.

    Note the way he eviscerates NN’s bizarre hypothetical scenario:

    I am confident my colleagues seated next to me would readily agree that the debate in both the public and private sector over the nature of U.S. policy on the
    interrogation of detainees has, unfortunately, too often reflected emotion and unfounded presumption rather than experience and rigorous study. A notable example of this emerges during discussions surrounding the so-called “Ticking Bomb” scenario. As the parties argue the legal and moral implications of using coercive methods to extract information that, according to the scenario, would
    save thousands of lives, there is an erroneous pre-supposition both sides seem too willing to accept: that coercion is ultimately an effective means of obtaining
    reliable intelligence information.

    This conclusion is, in my professional opinion, unequivocally false. [...lots of comments follow, describing the right ways vs. the wrong ways to obtain information from suspects...]

    link to Kleinman’s congressional testimony

  70. #70 J
    2009/01/29

    Getting back to the original argument about whether waterboarding is torture, you could also read what Malcolm Nance has to say. Nance is a counter-terrorism and intelligence consultant for US Special Operations, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies and a 20-year veteran of the US intelligence community’s “Combating Terrorism” program.

    We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like “24”, are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks. Having been a rescuer in one of those incidents and personally affected by both attacks, I am bewildered at how casually we have thrown off the mantle of world-leader in justice and honor. Who we have become? Because at this juncture, after Abu Ghraieb and other undignified exposed incidents of murder and torture, we appear to have become no better than our opponents.

    With regards to the waterboard, I want to set the record straight so the apologists can finally embrace the fact that they condone and encourage torture.

    There is No Debate Except for Torture Apologists

    1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies [....]

    2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. [....]

    3. If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives. [....]

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/10/waterboarding-is-torture-perio/

    Okay, that should be enough for now.

  71. #71 J
    2009/01/29

    [This has had lots of comments, thank you. But they are starting to repeat. I'm going to be more aggressive in deleting attempts to get the last word -W]

    Sorry. I suppose I got a bit annoyed by some of the comments upthread … but three replies in a row was a bit over the top. Feel free to delete the latter two as well, if you’d like.

    [I left the ones that added actual info -W]

  72. #72 Eli Rabett
    2009/01/30

    [PA deleted. You can do better -W]

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