Monday, April 23, 2012

The heart of the matter...

So, two hot-button topics that are sure to get a rise out of a wookie-suiter like me are torture and internal passport checks... er, I mean, "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "intermodal antiterrorist checkpoints". As Joel sums it up:
But I grew up indoctrinated with the notion that there are two main "tells" for a police state - the bad guys. One is torture: The good guys never torture people. America, of course, crossed that river several years ago.

The other is internal checkpoints. "Your papers, please" is a sign that you're living under SecPol, and no longer in the Land of the Free. The bad guys do that, the good guys would never dream of it.
Yup. Watch any of the old war movies or spy shows that were weekend UHF (ask your parents, kids) rerun staples when I was growing up, and you can tell when the good guys are behind enemy lines and in deep dookie when you hear one of two phrases: "Your papers, please," or "Ve haff vays of making you talk."

Unfortunately, it seems that America, a land where you could walk down the street without worrying about ever hearing those two phrases (unless you were guilty of certain heinous crimes like being swarthy in public) is as quaint a historical relic as those Saturday UHF reruns.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a Certified Olde Phart, I saw those movies when they first came out. Before UHF.

I've watched the War on Some Drugs morph into a general War on Liberty and the Bill of Rights. The frustrating thing is the self-righteous bland pablum responses from Congresscritters when I write to point out the evils...

Anonymous said...

They made sliding across the line so easy and painless ... and now who is there to speak for us?
Anon, Don

Robert Langham said...

To drive down the paved street in Texas, I have to have two license plates, an inspection sticker, a registration sticker, insurance notice, and driver's license. This is in Texas where people live free and don't put up with any of that big government intrusive yankee
BS.

Stuart the Viking said...

I am more frustrated by the bland responses from normal everyday American citizens when I point out the evils of the War on Drugs. People are so indoctrinated that "drugs are bad" that they fail to see the problems that are caused, the innocent people who are harmed/killed, or the very bad people who are made rich by a war (basically on our own citizens) that we can no longer afford. These are the same people who vote your bland politicians into office.

Many of the things that were put in place supposedly to fight "War on Terror" have mostly been used for the "War on Drugs" and were things that Law Enforcement had been asking for for decades only to be turned down because of 4A concerns. When the US went ape shit with the "SO IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN" bullshit after 9/11 they Law Enforcement finally got what they wanted. Guess what... War on Drugs? Still not winning. War on Terror? Not winning that either.

s

Robert Langham said...

When a modern, young LEO officer watches one of these movies, wonder which side he identifies with, the criminal rabble or civil authority?

SGB said...

Our single party nation went to sleep decades ago. The only theater is the people who believe either party supports freedom. Inspection stickers, "routine" traffic stops"...all while the nation slept.

greg said...

Well, that's a depressing start to a week...

taylor said...

Ask my parents? Why? Wikipedia is more convenient and doesnt involve that stick "conversation" thingy

Tam said...

taylor,

Once the internets gets back back from the trophy joint where I'm having it bronzed, it'll be in the mail.

taylor said...

Awesome! What caption did you pick to go under the engraving of Huck doing his summersault?

Crotalus (Don't Tread on Me) said...

DUI checkpoints are the precursors of "Paperz, pleez! Schnell!" checkpoints. So, America is already doing it.

Tam said...

Crotalus,

"So, America is already doing it."

That's what this post and all the comments here and at the linked post at Joel's have been about. :s

Anonymous said...

Yeowza! "And now,ladies an' germes, today's main event! In this corner, our challenger, lookin' rather natty in his boxer-shorts, living in the basement surrounded by empty Red-bull cans & pizza boxes weighing in at a buck an a quarter, Tayler!! And in the opposite corner, drivin' der Zed Drei, in der sexy leather Waffen SS ensemble and lusting after a .22 Sturmgwere, de heavy-weight Champene Mistress of Snark, Lady Tamara! All right,I want a good clean fight. No blows below the belt, which will be worn loosely about the ankles......;-). JohninMd(help)

Keith said...

Am I the only one who thinks the whole "good guys don't torture people" is historically inaccurate and largely an invention of Hollywood? Not that I necessarly want my government torturing people but it bugs me when people pretend that modern "enhanced interrogation techniques" sprang fully formed from Dick Chenys brow. Note I'm not accusing anyone here of this, just making q general statement.

Tam said...

Keith,

There is no doubt that MACV-SOG guys dangled Victor Charlie out of helicopters, and that WWII GIs probably roughed up the occasional POW, and, hell, for all I know, the Green Mountain Boys may have smacked the guards at Ticonderoga around to get the keys to the powder room.

There's a big difference between guys in the field doing hasty interrogation techniques for which they might get court-martialled and the president of the country standing up and defending such things.

DirtCrashr said...

Ihre papiere bitte?, sounds so much better in the original lilting mother-tongue of the Single-Party Middle-European control-oriented Duchy, but it could just as easily be, "Ваши документы, пожалуйста", since the Tsars left in place a certain "socio-infrastructural element" that was never dismantled or even disputed.
One must always be wary of any Government-employee Police force with the word "Secret" or "Security" in the title - then you know that there is no ideological differentiation from Hugo Chavez.

montieth said...

I'll just leave this here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILqc0DMh84k

Keith said...

I understand that Tam, though what I have read indicates that things went a great deal further than going Batman on some VC or just roughing up some Krauts. Where Bush made his mistake was by making it an official policy instead of just leaving things up to local commanders. What really worries me is the current practice of our government conducting hits against IS citizenss because due process is too inconvenient.

Orsonroy said...

Non issues. We've had "torture" since the days of wooden ships and iron men, and travel documents for "certain people" right up until 1865 (and a bit later). Article IV of the Constitution was specifically written in so that "white males landowners over the age of 25" didn't have to show passport and travel documents after 1787 within US STATES (you still had to "show papers" in territories, reservations, and other Federal holdings).

Oh: as for "big Yankee intrusion" into "Free" Tejas, just ask one third of the population of that state just how "free" they were in 1860.

Those who do not know or understand history are doomed to remain stupid hee-haws.....

LCB said...

Drinking checkpoints hell...in southern Texas towards the Mexican border there are permanent checkpoints on the major highways where YOU HAVE TO SHOW YOUR PAPERS! Not on the border, mind you, but within the US. This is supposed to help catch illegal immigrants and drug traffickers, but all it really does in set a standard for checkpoints nationwide.

The thing that makes me sick is how easily my highly educated friend in Texas thinks this is no big deal.

toadold said...

Das checken points und a little slap around, piffle, the confiscation of der property of the criminal class by fiat is der real deal and.....Ach, never mind.

TomcatTCH said...

I gotta disagree with you Tam, I thin toadold needs the trophy with the tubes on it.

Joe in PNG said...

And one may say "But, but...we wanted all these things to be aimed at Achmed and Jose! How dare they take that power we gave them and aim it at us!"

Yeah, well, that's what does tend to happen.

Will said...

@ Joe in PNG:

The lesson of history is that people never learn from history. Humanity in a nutshell.

Kristopher said...

Orsonroy: A whole bunch of folks died in the 1860s to settle the question that everyone in the country was protected by the bill of rights ( see the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments ).

It's a shame that they apparently died in vain.

Oh, and I'm from deep red Wyoming ... the first state to not consider women to be chattel property.

LCB said...

Kristopher,
The war you refer to had atrocities committed by both sides. Neither side took good care of prisoners, for example. Although Andersonville gets "all the press" so to speak, the Union camps were also horrible.

Also, there were many instances of prisoners being executed by Calvary units deep in the enemies rear when no one knew what to do with them.

And as far as proving the Bill of Rights was meant for everyone, even the North treated free blacks like second class citizens for many, many years to come. No way a black man made the same wage a white man did in any part of the country...except maybe out west riding herd.

Torture and atrocities have been done by the “good guys” in every war we've been in. Most of the wars I can give you examples off of the top of my head. Not saying that it makes it right...but I often wonder what I'd do if I knew a German or Japanese or North Korean or VC soldier had intel that could save 1000 American lives and I only had an hour to get the information...

Ted said...

Quote: LCB
Torture and atrocities have been done by the “good guys” in every war we've been in. Most of the wars I can give you examples off of the top of my head. Not saying that it makes it right...but I often wonder what I'd do if I knew a German or Japanese or North Korean or VC soldier had intel that could save 1000 American lives and I only had an hour to get the information...

End Quote:

Red is Positive and Black is negative. Now crank it up, under those circumstances.

Kristopher said...

LCB: The South supported one big atrocity: That anyone with a black skin could be tortured or executed by his owner.

And make no mistake about it ... the Civil War was about slavery. The Missouri Compromise in 1820, The Compromise of 1850, and the brutal guerrilla war in Kansas were not about abstruse state's rights principles. They were about whether or not these states would enter the union as slave or free states.



Yea, things were still bad for blacks. But they could no longer be bought or sold like cattle, or killed out of convenience.

This is something that Southern appologists, and wookie-suiter Lincoln haters would like to forget about.

LCB said...

Kristopher,
Don't misunderstand me. I am not a Southern sympathizer. I can admire the military skill of Robert E. Lee and still be very glad he lost to Grant.

And yes, I know the war was about slavery, even if most Union soldiers didn't fight for that reason early in the war.

What I was trying to get at is...where war is involved, cruelty is a common denominator. Seeing your friends killed in battle (or dying in camp of sickness) hardens a man. For every story of north and south trading tobacco for coffee across no man's land there are stories of both sides mistreating the other.

Does the cruelness of the South toward slaves overshadow anything the North did? To me, yes. But the question we’re discussing here is the torture and mistreatment of the enemy. I don’t think ANY of us can truly judge what we’d do unless we’re faced with a “situation”. And winning freedom for the slaves does NOT excuse any cruelty of the North at face value. (Sherman did not burn Atlanta on purpose…but if he WOULD have…would it have been militarily correct? Or would it have been cruel and unusual punishment to the citizens of Atlanta for supporting slavery?)

I’d like to think that torture is always wrong. But after reading so much history…I’m not so sure it’s something that can be clear cut. To borrow from the most wise: “Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.”

I really hope I’m never put in a position to have to find out, at least when I’m not the “one”.

Kristopher said...

Sherman was just ahead of his time.

Bomber Harris and Hap Arnold had no problem with burning cities that supported an evil regime.

War is never nice. Think hard on it before you go there.

Tam said...

Kristopher,

"That anyone with a black skin could be tortured or executed by his owner."

Er, actually, that is factually incorrect.

And while slavery is among the blackest of humanity's crimes, does it justify war and invasion? 'Cause if so, why aren't we in Sudan?

Tam said...

(Which is totally leaving out the "They did it, too!" defense of baby incinerating.

You'll note that good god-fearing Americans looked at the British nighttime incendiary raids on German cities as the wanton and indiscriminate mass murder of civilians, but in Japan, well...

I'm not saying that it maybe wasn't necessary, but there's no putting lipstick on this pig. If the victor's laurels had landed on the other guy's heads we'd all be reading about the Baltimore War Crimes trials and the hanging of Spaatz and Doolittle and LeMay.)

Anonymous said...

This website may be helpful to this subject.

http://www.lucifereffect.com/

Click on the Stanford Prison Experiment link.

The book "The Lucifer Effect" is excellent. It addresses the brutalities committed at the Abu Graib Prison, among other subjects.

Cheers.

LCB said...

TAM:
The USAAF helped the British firebomb Dresden. The Brit's bombed it during the first night...the Americans during the day. And I believe the Brits went back for a second night but I’m not sure.
We didn't generally go in for mass city wide bombing in Europe because we thought (correctly I believe) that pinpoint bombing factories was a much more efficient use of bombs. Of course, the Germans responded by breaking up the factories and moving them underground. We didn't slow the war machine down nearly as much as we thought. Twas the lack of oil more than anything else that caused the German army to ground to a halt.

Japan was different. Most of the small parts to planes, guns, etc. were made in small shops and sent to the assembly points. That's why it was deemed "necessary" to firebomb the cities.

The interview of Bomber Harris on World at War is priceless. He showed no regret or guilt at what he had ordered. Even though the Nazi's were heartless bastards that deserved being stomped like cockroaches...I don't think I could live with myself having made a decision like that that cost as many as 400,000 lives.

Tam said...

LCB,

Have you read Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945 yet? I highly recommend it.

LCB said...

duoh...that's what I get for trusting my memory. The 400,000 figure was Nazi propaganda. City officals said the figure was likely 25,000. Still something I couldn't live with...

Tam said...

re Harris: Don't forget the apocryphal encounter between the traffic policeman and Sir Arthur...

Copper: "Slow it down, sir, or you could kill someone."

Harris: "Laddie, I kill thousands of people every night."

LCB said...

Tam:
"LCB,

Have you read Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945 yet? I highly recommend it."

Just ordered it for my Kindle. I've been looking for something good to read. Kind of burned out on SF for now...thanks for the pointer.

markm said...

The only trouble with pinpoint bombing of German factories was that bombing from heavy or medium bombers was hardly ever actually "pinpoint". The heavies could hit accurately if they came in on the deck, except that they could only see the target a few seconds before they were over it - so it only worked if there was lots of prep work so the leaders knew the route in by heart. And then they took heavy losses. Look up the Ploesti oil field raid. (That bonfire was well worth the cost of lighting it, IMO, but you couldn't order raids like that very often and still have a heavy bomber force.) So usually the bombers dropped from high altitude, scattering the ordinance all around the target and knocking down more housing than industrial facilities.

Fighters could not carry much ordinance, but at least they could find a target from high altitude, dive onto it, and have a good chance of delivering it on target. But the Army Air Force's commanders were dead-set against buying purpose-built dive bombers, and would not even train their fighter pilots in the tactic until it had been proven over and over again by Navy pilots, as well as the Stuka and Ilyushin Il-2.

Also, until jets superseded propellers, dive bombing seems to have somehow been workable only for small aircraft. Goering asked for dive capabilities in two and even four-engined bombers, but these aircraft were successful only in level bombing. So between between accuracy, bomb load, and range, WWII commanders had to choose two, at most.

Tam said...

markm,

I'm kind of appalled that you felt the need to explain any of that to me.

Really?