Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas bot.

Oh, Christmas bot, oh, Christmas bot! It's hard to see just what you've got!

heres-bobYes, yes ... we're polishing up the holiday songs here at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill. T'is the season and all that. What, you're not familiar with the dirge of the Christmas Bot? Small wonder. We just made it up. What kind of songwriters would we be if we resorted to used Christmas Carols? It would be a total cop out. So we are resolved to write lame Christmas numbers each and every December, five minutes before we hastily record them and throw them up on the internet. You're welcome!

Legend has it that every year around this time, the sound of holiday ridiculousness wafts out of the old abandoned mill by the old abandoned canal in this old abandoned town. What an asinine legend. Just the sort of thing you'd expect in this lame backwater. Whoops - should have closed the window before I said that. Now all the neighbors know that I have NOTHING BUT CONTEMPT FOR THIS NEIGHBORHOOD!

Okay, well .... It's probably obvious to all of you that I not only do not like having neighbors here at the mill. And it may seem to you that I am trying to drive them away with my obnoxiousness. That couldn't be farther from the truth. We are trying to drive them away with the obnoxiousness of our raucous Christmas music. That's probably the best way to scare away undesirables. Trouble is, we can't keep it up for long enough to reach critical obnoxiousness mass, so we resort (as we always do) to Marvin (my personal robot assistant), who makes a fairly decent stereo system when he really tries. He just plugs his sorry ass into a couple of stereo speakers, plugs a memory stick into his ear, and cranks it up to twelve.

Unethical? Not a bit of it. We have no ethics, no code. That's what Big Green is all about. THAT'S WHY WE'RE ABOARD HER. Do I hear a "no" vote?

What worked.

The Senate report on torture (a.k.a. war crimes) perpetrated by our government is out, and of course, the vast majority of media and political commentary misses the point by a mile. As is often the case with discussion of this issue, the question of efficacy is paramount. Did torture "work"? Did it yield the intelligence our government needed, for instance, to conduct its unauthorized raid on a sovereign country (Pakistan) and assassinate the prime suspect in the 9/11/2001 terror attacks (rather than bring him to trial)? Does it, more generally, extract reliable, "actionable" information, or just a bunch of blather that victims of torture usually pipe up just to make the agony stop?

Dressed for The HagueThis discussion is not limited to the full-on, proud of all we did crew, like the execrable Dick Cheney, snickering from his podium, confident that he will never pay for his crimes against humanity. This is the discussion being advanced by Senators who supposedly oppose these interrogation techniques. They didn't work, they say. No useful intelligence was gained. What a strange conversation to be having at this moment in history, when we are confronted with detailed evidence of this latest foray (far from the first) into systematic abuse of those we seek to dominate and suppress.

These are crimes. They are explicit violations of both U.S. law and international law. Whether or not they "work" is immaterial, though I think it's been fairly well demonstrated that you can't torture the truth out of people. When someone robs a bank or shoots their neighbors in order to steal their car, we aren't particularly interested in whether or not they successfully obtained the goods. When people break the law, they should be held accountable and have their day in court. That's a conservative principle of long provenance.

Of course, what the torture program did produce was intelligence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks. That was, of course, completely bogus, waterboarded out of Al Libbi. It's not hard to imagine how this worked. The Bush administration wanted to invade Iraq. They were, at some level, aware that torture may not be an ideal tool for extracting the truth, but it DOES work at getting people to say what you want to hear. Why else waterboard someone 80 times or more? In the end, they got what they wanted - a rationale for invasion.

So ... torture works, if your aim is to produce incendiary lies. That's what Bush/Cheney wanted, and the torture program didn't disappoint.

luv u,