Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why Moderates (and others) Have Fled the GOP

"If you don't support your president, you don't support America" Rush Limbaugh (Current DeFacto Leader of the GOP) , 2004.
"I hope this president fails" Rush Limbaugh, 2009

That kind of hypocrisy seems to have permeated the GOP for some time now. When I was a Republican (Reagan Era), the words and actions of the party were pretty congruent: Less government, less spending and a strong military defense. Those were the days. Not anymore.
The right has made it clear that they do not want the government to interfere with Big Business or those things that work so well for us - like say, healthcare (ulp!). But they don't consider it Big Government to force a woman who has been raped, to carry the fetus as a 9 month reminder of the event. Of course after the forced labor and birth, Conservatives will complain about her collecting welfare. Conservatives seem to miss the irony that they are the party who most strongly support all three of the following: Anti-abortion, The Death Penalty, Protecting the rights of those who want to carry semi-automatic weapons around in urban areas. Ooookey dokey.
Conservatives and the GOP want to tell us who can get married to each other but that's not "Big Government". Conservatives and the GOP (really, they're pretty much the same thing nowadays) want to force the removal of sex education which teaches anything other than abstinence because, you know, that worked so well in their VP Candidate's family. This is the party that yells and screams about the "re-distribution" and "socialism" that would result from offering programs that would help the poor and middle-classes - but gave billions to bankers which until Obama, didn't even have any oversight.
Do you see a pattern here? Moderates do. If the GOP wants to re-name the Dems "The Democratic Socialist Party", perhaps we should be even more forthright and rename them the "Republican Hypocrites".
Moderates may not agree with everything the Dems propose. But while Republicans are holding Tea Parties to protest all the tax hikes, we moderates have noticed there haven't been any. Most of us are already taking more home in our paycheck and will pay less next April. The Conservatives and GOP's showboating doesn't do much for us.
While the GOP tries to figure out exactly how to "re-brand" itself, it's leaders genuflect in submission to a whack job radio host who used to preach that those caught abusing drugs in America should be deported - until he was caught abusing drugs, that is.
So the "less government" mantra has really come to mean, "Less government for the rich" to us. And it's not lost on us that the only re-distribution we've seen at all, has gone to those poor millionaires at Lehman, AIG etc...
Less spending? I know Americans aren't known for their long memories but really. The GOP blew the largest surplus in history and left us with the largest debt. So their credibility on this front is pretty much nil and viewed by moderates as pure hypocrisy.
Strong Military Defense. The GOP has not support our military. They have supported their war. Three bills presented in the last five years: 1. Raise the base pay for the military. Overwhelming support by Democrats. Voted down by the Republican majority (including McCain). More military families have gone bankrupt under GOP rule than at any time in our country's history. Dubious honor. 2. Equitable Leave / Deployment Time. This would give those in combat, an amount of time off with their family etc... equal to the amount of time spent in the stress of combat. Dems voted for it. Republicans voted it down. 3. Limit on Tours of Duty / Release Date Delays. Guess who voted that down. The result? More suicides in our military and more suicides in our special forces than ever before in history. THAT IS NOT SUPPORTING OUR MILITARY. But the GOP and Conservatives do support the war which was based completley on lies to the American People.
So pardon us moderates if we choose "The Other Party", whatever that party may be. We don't believe in the party which tells us that the healthcare used by every senator is not "good enough" for the rest of us. We don't believe in the party which tells us that the way to help the middle class, is to keep intact, tax breaks for the rich, and not give any to the rest of us. We don't believe in the party which tells us that government jobs (which will last years), shouldn't be offered to the 10% of us who are out of work because they're "not good enough jobs and temporary". And we don't believe in the party which is obviously controlled by the Religious Right and an Extreme Neocon radio entertainer.
Moderates are a long way from casting a vote for such a party. And if Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh et. alia keep their mouths open and their control strong, we won't be voting for the GOP for a long time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Moderate View of Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage. This is an issue that gets those on both the left and right extremely charged up. There are two views which are put forth, depending on whether you're watching Fox or MSNBC.
Liberals claim:
1) This falls under that category of "unalienable rights" as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and defined in The Constitution and
2) Gays are currently not offered the same protections & benefits that others receive.
Conservative claims seem a bit less clear but the recurring themes seem to be:
1) That it would threaten the sanctity of traditional marriage.
2) It would allow gays more rights toward children (such as adoption) and
3) That it is an abomination to God.

So what is the moderates view of these arguments? Let's take the arguments one at a time:
"Unalienable right": Unless you're talking with a moderate who is gay, we've never really thought about marriage as a right that needed defending. We simply take for granted that we can marry whomever we please. So what would be our view if gays could enjoy that same right? The same as we held when it used to be illegal for blacks and whites to marry. We simply don't care. Why would we care about someone getting married? But we do care that a minority seems to believe that a function of government, is to regulate such things. That's Big Government invading our homes. No thanks.
"Protection & Benefits": The moderate view on this would remain the same. Who cares if a couple can get health insurance under the family plan, instead of as two individuals. It's not our business. But again, we don't see regulating as a function of government. We would say, let insurance companies etc... cover however they like. If a company will only cover traditional unions under a family plan, another one will gain business by offering it to same-sex couples. Let the market decide, not a small segment of the population or Big Government.
The Other Side
"It would threaten the sanctity of marriage": Moderates find it ironic that the demographic with the highest divorce rate in the country (traditional Christians, with Baptists topping the list), talk about protecting the sanctity of marriage. Divorce used to be the biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage. Now most of the people protecting that sanctity are divorced. Additionally, Christians have the dubious honor of having the highest number of unwed, teen pregnancies (can you say Bristol?). So the group that has the highest level of unprotected promiscuity, points their fingers at a group that wants to avow fidelity. Hmmm. I don't see sanctity as much as sanctimony. There is one other position which occasionally pops up about how gay marriage would cause heterosexual people to become "converted" but to a moderate, that's so absurd as to not even be worth addressing. In any case, defining the legality of something so personal is Big Government invading our personal lives. So we're not for it.
"It would allow more rights toward children": Apparently, children would be better of left on the streets or in orphanages, than in a suburban home of a gay couple. Should gays be allowed to adopt? The moderate view is that, if there is evidence of a threat to a child, remove them from the environment. Foster care children are often molested and abused by hetero-sexuals. And fair or not, there is no doubt that gay couples would be under more scrutiny that straight couples. Better to have children permanently adopted, than left in a system that is so damaging.
"It is an abomination to God". Conservatives want us to know just exactly how much two women getting married, would upset God. I happen to be a Christian but the moderate view in general is that it is not a function of government to tell us what does or does not make God happy. This is big government imposing specific religious beliefs on a nation which was founded on freedom of religion.
The moderate view: Simple. Allow gay marriage.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Case for Torture

Lately, much has been debated about the Bush Administration's condoning the use of torture. There are basically two camps: 1. The "High & Mighty" Group and 2. The "Jack Bauer" Group. I don't completely agree with either because both camps are obviously misinformed about torture or as the Bush Administration called it "Harsh Interrogation Techniques". First a few basics. Torture is usually categorized into two types: Physical and Psychological. This is actually a misconception because physical torture only works if the psychological aspect works. People don't break because of the pain. They don't break while being put in pain. They break the moment before they believe they will be put through physical duress one more time. It's not the pain itself but rather the fear of going through whatever technique is about to be employed next, that causes someone to finally stop lying. But guess what? Physical torture usually takes longer to effectively obtain accurate results. Why? Counter-interrogation techniques almost always focus on this type of interrogation first. Subjects are trained in providing a combination of verifiable information and pre-scripted misinformation. I've read blogs where people who were obviously completely ignorant of interrogation techniques, presented "Jack Bauer" scenarios, talked about "What if someone had info on a bomb that was going to blow up somewhere today / tomorrow?" and assumed accurate information would be given with a few branding irons or whatever. I can assure you that in those circumstances, the agents would end up looking for the bomb in the wrong place. So this is where I disagree with the "Jack Bauer" group. Anyone willing to give up their life, will not give accurate information if physically tortured immediately. 60%+ of the time, it will only strengthen their resolve.
So do I agree with the use of torture? Well, yes and no. Anyone who has been in special forces or intel services, has gone through things which were more physically damaging than waterboarding. Waterboarding is not something I would consider physical torture. No hard or soft tissue damage is inflicted upon the subject. No permanent, physical damage is done. The subject is terrorized. This may sound harsh but again, this is something any US service or intel agency operative who has gone through SF, TF or SERE training has experienced voluntarily.
It comes down to discipline, control and motive. Interrogation is often as difficult on the interrogator as on the subject. Those chosen for this role are constantly psych monitored. If you enjoy it, you're the wrong person for the job. If you don't, it's tough on the insides. Delicate balance. More importantly, if is not completely controlled by disciplined professionals, you end up with amateurs in Abu Grhaib putting electrodes on the balls of prisoners, as much for entertainment and gratification, as anything else. That's called evil folks. That's the difference between who we were when our intel was at it's greatest (IMO The Reagan Era) and who we were under Bush - a recruiting poster for those seeking to harm us, and so clueless, we couldn't "connect the dots" on a memo entitled "OBL Seeks to attack USA using Commercial Jetliners".
Which brings me to psy-ops. The first thing a pro does is profile the subject. People willing to kill masses for political reasons, do so for one of three reasons: ideology, revenge or money. A subject motivated by money is easiest to break and break quickly. It doesn't matter how much you're getting paid, you can't spend it from life imprisonment. A deal will get us information quickly. Difficulty goes up exponentially and next is revenge. Take a Pakistani whose family was killed by an American Drone. This is an extremely difficult subject to manipulate. Set him on fire and his dying thoughts will be of his family - and how proud he is to have sacrificed himself for them. Which is the problem with the most difficult subject: one motivated by ideology. In the case of revenge, it is necessary to remove the gratification of having exacted it. This is difficult but not insurmountable. It is a matter of transference and leverage. Show the subject that he has become the evil he condemns, leverage this with consequences for failure to comply and it won't be long, before you can ascertain the difference between lies and intel. With ideology, you have to remove the gratification for believing everything he believes in - and then throw in consequences. MUCH more difficult subject. Imagine what it would take for you to renounce everything America stands for, and you will get the idea. If you were tortured, would you betray your country or start out with a lie? How long would it be, before they got the truth out of you?
I could go into graphic detail but that wouldn't constitute the light reading usually sought in blogs. I'll offer a few ideas that I would employ. If I had a Muslim subject, I would plant a false flag prisoner who reluctantly, and over time, would eventually reveal that the Americans were able, through the combination of drugs and delirium, force him to enjoy homosexual experiences. Then I would begin to drug him. The next thing he knew, he'd wake up nude, next to another man who told him how much fun he was in the sack last night. It wouldn't matter whether he had actually been violated. He would be in a state of terror and confusion. Even if he gives his life for Allah, how does Allah feel about fags? His entire ideological motivation would be subject to doubt. So much for those 72 virgins.... Then begin a regimen of waking him 3 hours after he went to sleep and telling him it's been eight hours. Disorient him. He'll begin talking. Everyone does eventually. And I guarantee, this would be more effective than the "Jack Bauer" technique. Without ever having laid a hand (or anything else) on (or in) him. It is the fear of what he might become or what might happen, that will induce results.
Some of you reading this may be shocked and appalled. Welcome to the world of interrogation. Does our government use this? Have I? Who knows? But if we let amateurs electrocute subjects, just for the gratification of revenge, we are no better than the only countries who condone physical torture: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia etc... And our intel services have suffered enough due to the complete incompetence of the previous administration. It's time to be the good guys again. That is more of an edge than anything else, in the protection of our great country. The greatest defense is a good offence. And when you country is respected and admired, you have ten times the ability to get intel BEFORE the "Jack Bauer" scenarios ever occur. FS