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They broke John McCain.

The most affecting part of John McCain's acceptance speech was also the most surprising: McCain's admission that he was broken by torture. I had read a little about this before on the internet -- suggesting that McCain had illegally collaborated with the enemy. More generally, I had heard that virtually no one is actually able to resist extreme physical torture; eventually everyone breaks down. But McCain admitting it seemed both heartfelt and somewhat shocking.

A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.

When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.

I remembered a line from Orwell about any life "viewed from the inside" as a failure. I hadn't remembered the line immediately preceding it:

Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.

Roger Simon also mentioned the same passage from McCain's speech, after noting Obama's grudging recent admission on the Surge:

More interesting is the snippet from O'Reilly of Obama acknowledging that the Surge was a great success while seemingly not being able to admit that he was wrong about it. You would think it wouldn 't be that difficult, but he struggled as if admitting an affair. Compare that with McCain who in the midst of his acceptance speech, seen by more even than Obama's, acknowledged to the world that he was broken under the pressure of North Vietnamese torture. What we have before us is the pretension of honesty (Obama) versus honesty (McCain). In a certain way it relates to the Oprah Show, which has always seemed to me an "as if" production: we are all "open" here, it purports to say. But to paraphrase Orwell, "some people are more open than others." I suspect the public senses this and, ultimately, knows the difference. We shall see.

Although Obama does seem to be more resistant to admitting error than most (and though he wrote two autobiographies by the age of 45), Obama has sometimes shown a self-deprecating side. Indeed, there are moments of effective modesty in the Audacity of Hope: Obama's nuanced and winning account of Peggy Noonan's taking him to task for comparing himself to Lincoln in an essay (he was sort of asked to do so by the editor, but he admits that Noonan wasn't necessarily unfair), and Obama's description of his troubles in his 2004 Senatorial debates responding to his opponent's criticisms of Obama's positions as un-Christian.

Yet McCain's confession was of a different order.

My first thought was to be struck by how honest it was; that helped make the rest of McCain's speech seem (and perhaps be) more genuinely felt.

My second thought was more cynical: was McCain trying to make a pre-emptive strike against a forthcoming onslaught that he collaborated with the Communists?

My third thought was whether it's necessarily a good thing for McCain to believe that he was not "my own man anymore. I was my country's."

What do you think?

llamasex (mail) (www):
"Country First" seems like a worrying rally cry for a bunch of libertarians to latch on to. Doesn't that mean to put the nation before one's own self? That attitude doesn't worry anyone.
9.7.2008 12:53am
fullerene:
Inasmuch as the speech was carefully written, rewritten, debated, worked over, and then written again for the third time, I would say that there were probably a lot of motivations guiding this admission.

I took as a means of both personalizing McCain and subtly pushing back against mostly fringe critics who fault him over this incident. It also helps contrast the more introspective McCain with Bush's often unwarranted certainty. Much of the speech was about the mistakes of the past. Here McCain seems to be saying that he is aware of his faults, even those most people would not recognize as such. His awareness of his own vulnerabilities is refreshing against the past eight years. It also suggests (if it is honest) a completely different approach to the world. One that just might work.
9.7.2008 12:55am
jac (mail) (www):
McCain mentioned this in his book. He signed a confession
9.7.2008 12:55am
FlimFlamSam:
I think it shows that John McCain is a genuine American hero, just like his father and grandfather before him.
9.7.2008 12:57am
Scote (mail):

What do you think?

I don't think it means he should be president.

Not that it disqualifies him, but neither does it qualify him.
9.7.2008 1:01am
James Lindgren (mail):
I don't like "Country First" b/c it reminds me of the isolationist "America First" movement in 1940-41.

Although it's definitely nationalistic, it doesn't capture fascism very well.

The classic statement of fascism is: "Everything Inside the State; Nothing Outside the State." So I am am more concerned about actual efforts to make private activities public.

Also "Country First" can be a choice that an individual might make (normally, it wouldn't be mine).

The other ambiguity in the word "country" is whether it means all the individuals and groups that constitute it, or whether it means something more like the government.
9.7.2008 1:03am
A. Zarkov (mail):
The North Vietnamese were obviously in violation of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs. Yet I've heard no comment on that from the usual critics of the Vietnam War. How come they get a pass on that?

I've heard McCain say that we should always follow the rules regarding POWs because that will protect our soldiers. But he's living proof of the falsity of that idea. It didn't protect our troops in the WWII Pacific theater, in Korea, Vietnam, or even Gulf War I. I suppose if we ever go to war with Denmark, we will get reciprocal treatment. I'm very sorry he got mistreated and I'm grateful for the service he rendered to his country. But I can't help feeling he's a little unrealistic.
9.7.2008 1:05am
dthistle (mail):
I cannot speak to Senator McCain's POW experience. However I did go through "POW" training in the Air Force in 1969. I came out of it with two lessons, the first being that anyone can be "broken" if the captors are willing to spend the time and energy to do it. Second was that the last round in my .38 was for me. I knew I could not endure what these men did.
9.7.2008 1:05am
NYU JD:
I interpret the McCain campaign's "Country First" slogan as not an exhortation as to how every individual should act, but how every politician should act. That seems fairly clear from the rhetoric in his speech, as while he does talk about the importance of public service, he only uses versions of "country first" when drawing a contrast to corrupt politicians who put themselves first, and their country second. Viewed in that context, it doesn't really go to any ideological -ism; it's just an anti-corruption good-government slogan.
9.7.2008 1:06am
DrObviousSo:
1)This actually isn't news for those who pay close attention, but was probably a bomb shell for a lot of people less informed.

2)Can we finally put to rest the torture doesn't work meme. There are many good arguments against torture, but that one is just silly.
9.7.2008 1:06am
James Lindgren (mail):
Another bogus Republican slogan: Bush's "New World Order," recalling the NAZI "New Order," which in Warner Bros. cartoons became the "New Odor."
9.7.2008 1:06am
Michael Drake (mail) (www):
McCain's admitting that his torturers broke him, amidst a long and dramatic appeal to his own POW experience (which I've been told he's very reluctant to discuss, especially in nationally televised speeches), hardly strikes me as a statement against interest.

But it would be cynical to suggest that the admission was at all calculated to elicit fawning praise.
9.7.2008 1:07am
Tucker (mail):
Two points: First, I understand that the military instructs all soldiers that if they're captive they can be broken under torture. The biggest argument against using torture as an instrument for gathering information is that eventually anyone will confess to anything to make it stop. So McCain's human. Is that news?

I've also read before that he signed a confession. Given that the military expects this to happen, is this really of news, or worthy of discussion?

In my view, the fact that he refused to be sent home, even though he had the chance, and put himself at risk of torture like this, speaks more about his character than the fact that he succumbed like any other man would. Surely many men would have take the easy way out.

Second: Country First. I think what McCain means by that phrase is that if you're going to serve your country, you should put your country first, above your own interests, and that he intends to do so. The fact that Libertarians find this alarming is one of the reasons I remain a registered Republican despite agreeing with Libertarians on most things.

This isn't fascism, this is simply the minimum we should expect of people who profess to serve the country. Many in the military seem to meet this standard, most politicians seem to fail it. If McCain's going to attempt to reintroduce the notion that if you take an oath you should honor it, and that if you swear to defend the country you should do so, then that's an excellent reason to vote for him, IMHO.
9.7.2008 1:08am
DC:
I had heard this before, and it seemed like a very human response to being tortured.

So, when I saw Fred Thompson's speech last week, I wondered who they were trying to fool with the image that McCain was some superhuman figure who never broke:


John was beaten for communicating with other prisoners. He was beating -- beaten for NOT communicating with so-called peace delegations. He was beaten for not giving information during interrogation.

When his captors wanted the names of other pilots in the squadron, John gave them the name of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers. (Laughter, applause.)

Whenever John was returned to his cell -- walking if he could, dragged if he couldn't -- as he passed his other fellow POWs, he would often call out to them.

He'd smile and give 'em a thumbs-up.

For five-and-a-half years this went on. John McCain's bones may have been broken, but his spirit never was. (Cheers, applause.)


Thompson's speech painted McCain as totally inhuman, and the speech sounded fake. The reality McCain talked about was much more genuine than that. That said, it was no surprise to those of us who've been following along. McCain's paper for the Naval War College was motivated, in part, by his conflict between the realities of being a POW and being tortured and the idealism of the orders our soldiers were given about how to behave (i.e. to fight back, to try to escape, etc.).
9.7.2008 1:09am
John Martin:
I thought POW story worked well. It provided essential authenticity. Everyone has heard that he was a POW - but this is the first time he showed us a glimpse of what he went through. (I haven't read his books.)

I thought the speech was pretty good. It solidified my respect for McCain which had been pretty wishy-washy.

However, it was not an accident. His handlers/coaches knew what they were doing. The honesty and authenticity of came through loud and clear - Gerry Spence style.

Compared to Kerry's idiotic "Reporting for Duty"...nuff said.
9.7.2008 1:09am
Houston Lawyer:
It was easily the best portion of his speech. The first 45 minutes or so were completely forgettable. Like many conservatives, I have in the past harshly criticized McCain for numerous positions he has taken and agendas he has pushed. This part of his speech, also admitting that before was shot down he was all about himself, and nothing bigger, confirms that he is a man who knows who he is. In contrast, Obama still seems to be searching for his identity.

If elected, McCain will still push agendas that I will continue to disagree with. However, I would rest easy with him at the helm.
9.7.2008 1:10am
bobby b (mail):
I was thinking as I heard the speech that McCain (or someone in his campaign) realized that, to some extent, McCain's public persona - the picture of McCain that the essentially uninformed voter was able to assemble out of the offerings of the last eight months - was far too clean and rigid and arrogant.

McCain was becoming more of a rebuke through heroic example than he was a good or great man with human faults. Personally, I like him better knowing his blunders - otherwise, he can appear far too judgmental - too inexperienced at human lapses to understand the lapses of others (such as me.) He can come off as a cold fish, and the narrative of the flawlessly brave POW resisting all for God and Country can make a cold fish appear colder.
9.7.2008 1:10am
Smokey:
All the self-righteous know-it-alls who presume to judge someone who was beaten so badly, and on a daily basis, that to this day he can not raise his hands high enough to comb his hair, should think about their bogus messiah HE-RO, who would have been collaborating with the enemy in about three milliseconds. Heck, 0 is probably collaborating with the enemy right now.

Americans know this, as this shows.
9.7.2008 1:15am
Angus:

2)Can we finally put to rest the torture doesn't work meme.

Sure, torture can break someone. The question is whether the information given is good. Did McCain actually give the North Vietnamese militarily actionable intelligence. It's my understanding that he did not, even when broken.
9.7.2008 1:16am
Angus:
Smokey, thank you for your usual intelligent contribution.
9.7.2008 1:17am
Scote (mail):
DrObviousSo wrote:

2)Can we finally put to rest the torture doesn't work meme. There are many good arguments against torture, but that one is just silly.

No, we can't.

When people say "torture doesn't work" they mean that it doesn't produce reliable testimony--because it does not.

Torture victims will tell you whatever they think you want to hear, whether it is true or not. I don't think anyone disputes that torture can't break people, but the justification for America's use of torture is predicated on the idea that it aids us in eliciting vital intel, which justifies the human rights abuse (same excuse used by all authoritarian countries, one should note). However, the very fact that torture "breaks" people makes the information they give unreliable, except for non intel purposes like false confessions.
9.7.2008 1:17am
James Lindgren (mail):
Bobby b,

I agree. I think it humanized him.

All four national candidates tend to pose as more moral than the rest of the world at least at some times, and indeed, all are more moralistic than even the average politician.
9.7.2008 1:18am
Borealis (mail):

"And I was broken."

That was probably one of the most personal and painful line ever given in a major political speech.
9.7.2008 1:19am
Nathan Gimpel (mail):
I thought its main purpose was to create empathy among the viewers and perhaps to set the record straight after Fred Thompson contrived a direct contradiction the night before: "He was offered medical care for his injuries if he would give up military information in return. John McCain said, 'No.' ". McCain obviously regrets ever giving any information away and I don't think any reasonable person, Democrat or Republican, can condemn McCain for doing so UNLESS contradictions like Thompson's continued.

All in all, his speech still felt to me like an old man looking back on his life, regretting his mistakes and celebrating his accomplishments.
9.7.2008 1:20am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
This is not new information, we knew it when it happened. His torturers made sure of it. In fact, because of the torture and starvation these guys went thru, which not one person posting on this blog could withstand, I would bet, the policy was modified for all military personnel on what was expected of them in the form of resistance. New training facilities were established for pilots and others going behind enemy lines to help prepare them for what might come.

I wonder if you said that Kerry wasn't qualified to be president. He collaborated with the enemy and even negotiated with them while still wearing the uniform. He didn't do this while having his bones broken and his body wrecked while be starved near death and kept for years in solitary confinement, he did it right here at home, even enlisting others to help him spread his lies.

As Bud Day, Medal of Honor winner, said: John McCain was one of the "hard resistors." He got it worse than others because he was a hard resistor. Look to those who came home relatively whole if you want to know who cooperated.
9.7.2008 1:21am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
A guard burst into the cell and pulled McCain away from the window. For the next few days, he was on suicide watch.

McCain's will had finally wilted under the beatings. Unable to endure any more, he agreed to sign a confession.

McCain slowly wrote, "I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors."

He would never forgive himself.

"I had learned what we all learned over there," he would write later. "Every man has a breaking point. I had reached mine."
9.7.2008 1:28am
psychdoc (mail):
Thanks for your discussion which makes this part of the speech somewhat clearer for me. On hearing it the first time I wasn't sure if he meant he told them classified information but I assumed so: max speed of the F4 or highest angle of attack, something like that. Or was he broken in that he wanted it to stop more than ... One thing that was fascinating about this section of the speech was that the listener was presented a mysterious picture partially in the shadows. Your insight that here the inversion of strength is, for the modern and per the insight of Orwell, a proof of the strength of the truth of what he says here and overall is a nice insight. For these and other reasons I don't think it will be harmful to McCain. To discuss partially 'not my own man my country's': such a sentiment may occur in American combat veterans and perhaps in the light of the experience of fear, readiness to abandon, being revived as he describes leads to an annealing identification with ideals of the country.
9.7.2008 1:30am
Hoosier:
At one point in the speech I said to my wife "OH wow. He's going to mention his suicide attempt." He didn't. Had he wanted to go directly for the heart-strings, he might have mentioned this.

None of our presidents has had an experience like this in his past. So it is clearly not a requirement for a succesfull presidency. I don't bring it up when people ask why I'm voting for McCain.

I DO raise it if anyone is bold enough to suggest that he lacks the requisite "character to be president." Whatever that phrase means in terms of honesty, martial fidelity, or other personal traits, I am certain that a man who went through what McCain went through in Hanoi, and who came out as he did, has strength of character.
9.7.2008 1:31am
Deputy Assistant Community Organizer:
Are you channeling Fernandez again?

Obama won't rediscover community organizing until some humbling experience brings back to him the reasons why Alinsky's suspicion of leadership-oriented movements arose in the first place; until he re-learns that the key to becoming extraordinary is to accept in some fundamental way that you are ordinary. John McCain's convention speech had its own "walk through Harvard Yard" moment in the other direction: the instant when he stopped being an attack pilot and admiral's son and became something at once lesser and greater: a naval officer.

They broke me. When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. …

I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence … and I missed everything about America. But I turned it down.
You are never too good for those you truly love.
9.7.2008 1:32am
MartyA:
I don't understand this. McCain was tortured by the VC and broke. John Kerry was never touched by the VC yet he sang like a bird on their behalf. Kerry was the traitor.
And, for you legal types, Kerry was a Boston brahmin, entitled by his class and his first wife's (and Kennedy's) connections to admission to Harvard Law School (how did Barack get in?). Why was Kerry rejected by Harvard? He was entitled! He, like Obama, will hide the facts but McCain served himself and the nation far better than did John Kerry.
9.7.2008 1:34am
Asher (mail):
I thought the "they broke me" didn't work, because it left what this breaking consisted of so up in the air. And his going on to say how shameful it was just made it worse - people who don't know the story might think he really did something terrible, not just sign a confession.
9.7.2008 1:36am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
McCain slowly wrote, "I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors."

It was so-called confessions like the one above of McCain's that were used by the anti-war groups, led by the likes of Fonda and Kerry, to convince America that the Vietcong were treating the POWs humanely.
9.7.2008 1:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The North Vietnamese were obviously in violation of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs.


Yes. But they were not in violation of the Bush-Yoo standard. After reading various detailed accounts of his treatment, it becomes clear that nothing done to McCain in prison would be called torture under the Bush-Yoo standard.

It also appears that we have done the equivalent of everything that was done to him in prison.

I've heard McCain say that we should always follow the rules regarding POWs because that will protect our soldiers. But he's living proof of the falsity of that idea


You're missing an important aspect of his argument. Since it is now known that America mistreats its captives, all our enemies in all future wars now have a greater disincentive to surrender. It seems obvious that this will lead to increased casualties on our side.
9.7.2008 1:41am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Can we finally put to rest the torture doesn't work meme.


Torture always works, provided you define 'work' as 'induce bogus confessions.'
9.7.2008 1:41am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
In my view, the fact that he refused to be sent home, even though he had the chance, and put himself at risk of torture like this, speaks more about his character than the fact that he succumbed like any other man would. Surely many men would have take the easy way out.


My understanding is that the offer was made to many others, who all turned it down. I think McCain is a hero, for this and other reasons, but I think it's wrong to imply that this decision on his part was unique.

Also, the stigma would have been enormous if he had taken the offer. I think it's possible that his family would have disowned him.
9.7.2008 1:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
admitting that before was shot down he was all about himself, and nothing bigger, confirms that he is a man who knows who he is


In my opinion, what he did to his kids and first wife after he came home confirms that he was still "all about himself."
9.7.2008 1:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
beaten so badly, and on a daily basis, that to this day he can not raise his hands high enough to comb his hair


It's true that he was beaten badly (what I would call torture). And I accept the claim that he can't raise his arms (or at least one arm) above his shoulder. But it's misleading to suggest that his disability is strictly a result of the beatings. As he mentioned in his speech, he already had two broken arms, and a broken knee, before he reached the ground (caused by the ejection). In his book, he explains further that while he was being pulled from the lake, someone crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt.

All this was aggravated by a lack of Western-level medical care, and also definitely aggravated by the beatings. But it's not correct to claim that the beatings alone were the cause of his disability.
9.7.2008 1:42am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
He got it worse than others because he was a hard resistor.


No, he didn't get it "worse than others." He said in his speech "a lot of prisoners had it worse than I did." In his book, he goes into more detail, and explains that he thinks he was treated relatively well because his father was an Admiral.
9.7.2008 1:42am
pfrost:
I am to young to be a veteran, but when I was listening to John McCain, the thing that struck me was the St. Crispen's day speech in Henry V.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

I know the messages are diametrically opposed, but to me at least, these last two lines stuck in my head when John McCain told his story.

Just my thoughts.

Patrick
9.7.2008 1:42am
Sally:
What I took from McCain's account was this. The more popular view of the Vietnam war is that it turned its participants into psychos and loners, took gullible naifs and made them bitter, maladjusted and cynical once they returned. We are supposed to believe that the Vietnam vet considers himself, in some fundamental way, to have been betrayed by his country. (This is at least a common movie version of the Vietnam vet, not necessarily the reality.)

In saying that he fell in love with his country when he was a prisoner in someone else's, McCain is telling us that he didn't blame America for his plight, didn't lay in his cell angry and bitter and cursing the government. Instead it was thinking about home, about his country, about what it meant to him, that helped him to survive.

It probably does seem so incredibly old-fashioned and sentimental that it must not be true, what he said on Thursday night, especially if you're below a certain age. We're the victim society these days, there's always a reason to be angry and bitter when things don't go our way, always somebody to blame. That McCain says he feels differently, that he became a sincere patriot in captivity is easy to dismiss as just some more political posturing.

I suppose the only way we could know for sure is to spend 5 1/2 years in some hellhole ourselves and see how we felt about America afterwards. There's a fairly small number of people truly qualified to weigh in on whether or not McCain's explanation could possibly be true. And I doubt any of them are posting at this blog.
9.7.2008 1:44am
Paul Allen:
In Obama's defense here: McCain has had more than thirty years to come to grips with being broken. Thirty years hence, Obama may come to grips with having gotten "the major foreign policy question of his tenure in the Senate" wrong.

Until then the comparison is not direct. BUT, it does serve as a contrast as to where McCain and Obama are formatively. McCain is at the end of his life and clearly has internalized most of the lessons people internalize. Obama, the younger man, still has a bit of growing to do.
9.7.2008 1:47am
Matt Austin (mail):
Jim,


Although Obama does seem to be more resistant to admitting error than most (and though he wrote two autobiographies by the age of 45)


I keep hearing and reading this statement and I'm wondering why his second book is so often called an autobiography. While books about one's political philosophy and plan for a presidential campaign would often include personal stories, is it really fair to call it an autobiography? Or is it an unfair characterization intended to play upon his perceived vanity?
9.7.2008 1:48am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
I know what he said jukebox, but I would suggest you go read some of the writings of Bud Day for the whole story. They all had it bad, some much worse than others, and once John McCain refused to be used for propaganda purposes, he had it worst of all. This isn't McCain claiming this, it is those who were there as witnesses.

He didn't "do" anything to Carol and the kids. It is not easy to be married to the military under the best of circumstances. Long separations make it hard to establish a relationship because you are not making common memories. I know because I was a Navy wife for 26 years of my husband's active duty career. At one point during Vietnam, I only saw him 31 days in 3 years. It was not easy to reestablish our family life after all that. The kids barely knew him, he had no idea what our lives were all about, no one really knew who had what responsibilities once he came home. And before we could work it all out he was gone again for a year.

McCain came home and spent a year in the hospital, making a 6 year separation 7. He was a changed man, Carol was a changed woman with a new life of her own. They struggled to make it work for 5 years and finally gave up and moved on. They are good friends now, the kids are close to their Dad.

I wonder if you could reestablish a working/loving relationship with someone you last saw 6 or 7 years ago?
9.7.2008 1:53am
Hoosier:
"In his book, he explains further that while he was being pulled from the lake, someone crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt. "

So it WASN'T from a beating! It was from being hammered with a rifle butt! It IS good to have that cleared up.

(This is the part of his attack on McCain when a certain person starts making me ill. I won't mention any names. But I'll see the rest of you later. G'night.)
9.7.2008 1:54am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I suppose the only way we could know for sure is to spend 5 1/2 years in some hellhole ourselves and see how we felt about America afterwards. There's a fairly small number of people truly qualified to weigh in on whether or not McCain's explanation could possibly be true. And I doubt any of them are posting at this blog.


Would you settle for someone who spent 8 years in the same hellhole?
9.7.2008 1:57am
Matt Austin (mail):
Jukebox,

I'm supporting Obama and don't agree with McCain on much at all, but why in the hell would anyone split hairs about the abuse he suffered as a POW? Some folks might overstate how bad things were for him, but it couldn't possible matter. He suffered greatly and is a true hero. Arguing how much of a hero he is serves no purpose.

(and this is sure to be the only time in my life I'll agree with Hoosier)
9.7.2008 1:59am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
We are supposed to believe that the Vietnam vet considers himself, in some fundamental way, to have been betrayed by his country.

We didn't feel betrayed by our country. We knew full well who betrayed the Vietnam Vet and his name is John F. Kerry. And we knew that 2 years before John McCain came home from his prison hell. We knew it when because of Coward Kerry teachers told our children that "God doesn't listen to prayers for baby killers," we knew it when freaks started dumping raw trash on our loved ones in front of their 5 year old sons, we knew it when we turned down for jobs because our loved one was doing his duty honorably, we knew it when landlords were putting signs up on their rentals that said, "no pets, no sailors/marines."

Our country didn't betray us, but some of our countrymen/women did. Some of them still are.
9.7.2008 2:02am
XON:
This was merely preemptive for a very important demographic of McCain's. I have several family members who are Vietnam veterans, and the one I respect the most states, categorically, that anyone who was a POW as long as McCain was, is NOT mentally stable enough to be president.

My relative is a very rational and intellectually conservative person. No hyperbole from him ever.

If this is what he thinks, there are several thousand other older boomers who are also thinking this.
9.7.2008 2:02am
DG:
The level of ignorance here is appalling. Please read some history. Here are some facts:

- The US Military knew what would happen to our POWs due to our experiences in the Korean war. Torture was expected.

- Under torture, everyone knows they will break. The trick is to not be broken permanently. To pick yourself up and begin resisting again. McCain was a master of this which is why is time in captivity was so hard. Some did get it tougher than him, but very very few.

- Torturers are frequently NOT seeking information. Posters here map our motivations onto our foes. Frequently, they seek admissions or confessions, which was the case in Vietnam. The sort of classified information that someone like McCain had went stale very quickly or was not useful, except as confirmation. They can read about his aircraft in Jane's like everyone else.

- Torture works very nicely for obtaining information, provided its done right, with no hint of what the torturer wants to hear, and multiple sources of information. It works very poorly at obtaining confessions, because people will confess to anything. Huge difference.

- Part of the reason some think torture is bad has nothing to do with whatever jukeboxgrad is smoking. Our opponents will treat us the same regardless of our actions in regard to torture. Again, read some history. A perfectly legitimate argument against torture, and the one McCain is really making is that it harms the ethical fabric of our military - it sullies the torturer and everyone they come into contact with. This is why the military doesn't want soldiers torturing but is more or less ok with the CIA doing it.

- No one cares about the stigma of getting ostracized by ones family while they are getting beaten to unconsciousness every day. Jukeboxgrad is so far from reality that it hurts.
9.7.2008 2:04am
Blar (mail) (www):
It's strange to contrast McCain's autobiography with Obama's statement about recent policies. If we stick to autobiography, Obama's first book is full of his doubts, confusions, and fallibility (although of course nothing as big or dramatic as being broken by torture, because nothing on that scale has happened to Obama, as far as I know). If we stick to policy, I don't recall McCain ever being particularly forthright (for example) about how wrong he was going into the Iraq war.

If you want to compare how good Obama &McCain are at admitting their own mistakes, you have to do better than picking out one example for each person, especially if those examples are about different sorts of things.
9.7.2008 2:07am
Sally:
"Would you settle for someone who spent 8 years in the same hellhole?"

Not sure I understand the question. I see nothing in Butler's piece that indicates he doubts McCain's love of country. Clearly Butler disagrees with him politically (Butler is a liberal Democrat) but he wrote this:

John McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity...Senator John Sidney McCain, III is a remarkable man who has made enormous personal achievements. And he is a man that I am proud to call a fellow POW who "Returned With Honor."

This doesn't sound like someone who doubts McCain's story that his time in captivity turned him into a patriot.

I also see nothing in the Butler piece that indicates Butler is a bitter, angry America hater either. Like McCain he seems to have come home with a love of country as well.
9.7.2008 2:09am
DG:
Jukeboxgrad: {My understanding is that the offer was made to many others, who all turned it down. I think McCain is a hero, for this and other reasons, but I think it's wrong to imply that this decision on his part was unique. }

Actually, about a dozen took the offer, out of about 470 POWs. You should try reading more than a short article written by another former POW who says he will not support McCain and clearly has an axe to grind (of course, he doesn't state that they all turned it down either)
9.7.2008 2:13am
Sally:
"I don't recall McCain ever being particularly forthright (for example) about how wrong he was going into the Iraq war.

That's probably because McCain doesn't think he WAS wrong about the Iraq war. Or it may be because unlike the Democrat primary voters, the Republican voters didn't demand that the candidates running for President on the GOP side fall on some sort of sword over this issue (both in 2004 and 2008), loudly recanting their votes in favor of the war while tearing their hair shirts and gnashing their teeth.
9.7.2008 2:20am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
Just for the record:

He returned to his cell, where he waited for his beating. It didn't come until the day after Christmas.

In May 1969, the North Vietnamese asked McCain to write a letter to U.S. pilots asking them not to fly over North Vietnam. When he refused, they made him stand for hours and hours.

When McCain tired and sat down, a guard stomped on his injured leg. McCain was back on crutches for the next 18 months.

In late 1969, things began to look up for the POWs for the first time.

President Nixon had taken office in January. During the Johnson administration, released POWs weren't allowed to talk about bad conditions in the prison camps for fear that such complaints would make things even worse for the men still being held.

That changed under Nixon.

In August 1969, under pressure, the North Vietnamese began releasing sick and injured prisoners. Among them were Navy Lt. Robert Frishman, who had a badly injured arm, Air Force Capt. Wes Rumble, who was in a body cast with a broken back, and Navy Seaman Doug Hegdahl, who had lost 75 pounds.

The men held press conferences, telling the horrifying details of torture and mistreatment. After that, treatment of POWs began to improve.

By fall, the torture had almost stopped. The food improved. The guards seemed almost friendly.

McCain's barred cell door had been covered with wood to keep him from looking out and from getting any ventilation. But in fall 1969, the board was removed at night to cool McCain's cell. And prisoners were allowed to bathe more often.

"It was all very amazing," McCain would write later.

In December 1969, McCain was moved to the Hanoi Hilton. There, he met with a Cuban journalist who asked McCain general questions about the war. After the interview, a photographer came in and started snapping pictures, though McCain had said he didn't want his picture taken. After that, he refused to meet with visitors.

In June 1970, McCain was moved into a room called Calcutta, which had no ventilation. There, McCain suffered from heat prostration and another bout of dysentery and was cut to half rations.

In December 1970, McCain was moved to a room that housed 45 to 50 prisoners. In February 1971, the prisoners defied their captors and held a church service. When the men presiding over the service were taken away by guards, the men started singing The Star-Spangled Banner very loudly.

Fearing a riot, the guards rushed in with ropes and subdued the men. A few days later, McCain and others were moved to a punishment camp the prisoners called Skid Row. Though the conditions were filthy, McCain said, the prison was a piece of cake compared with conditions in 1969.

In 1971 and 1972, conditions gradually improved. McCain, whose weight had dropped to 105 pounds during his first years in Hanoi, began to regain some of his health. He was allowed to exercise, which eased the boredom and made it easier to sleep.

"He was crippled but mentally fierce," recalled Orson Swindle, who roomed with McCain for the last two years of their incarceration. "He was stiff-legged and had awkward movement of both arms. He did the funniest push-ups I've even seen.

"One of his arms was sort of crooked. . . . He did push-ups with a tilt to it."

The men were in a big room with a large concrete slab in the center and a 3-foot-wide, horseshoe-shaped path around the slab. They would exercise by walking along the path.

"When John would run in place, it was sort of humorous to watch him," Swindle said. "One leg would bend, and the other wouldn't. It was a sight to behold."

To entertain themselves and the other men, McCain and Swindle organized "Sunday Night at the Movies," retelling, and in some cases performing, scenes from Hollywood films they had seen.

One of their favorites was One-Eyed Jacks, a 1961 movie in which Marlon Brando is beaten by a worthless sheriff played by Slim Pickens. McCain and Swindle especially loved the part where Brando calls Pickens a "scum-sucking pig."

In December 1972, McCain had a front-row seat to a full-scale bombing attack on Hanoi.

"It was the most spectacular show I'll ever see," McCain later wrote in U.S. News and World Report. "The bombs were dropping so close that the building would shake. The SAMs were flying all over, and the sirens were whining - it was really a wild scene."

Although the bombing had been conceived by Nixon, the orders had been given by McCain's father, Jack.

McCain's father never wrote to him during the war because of the propaganda value of such a letter. He did, however, try to pass McCain a secret message once, according to a passage in Faith of My Fathers.

In letters to his wife, McCain was using a fairly obvious code to send messages back to the States. Naval intelligence, fearing that McCain would be caught, apprised the admiral.

Adm. Jack McCain sent a hidden message in a letter Carol wrote to McCain: "JUNIOR URGES CAUTION PLEASE STOP THIS."

The younger McCain never saw it because the North Vietnamese withheld Carol's letters.

By January 1973, McCain was back at The Plantation. The prisoners sensed that the war was nearing its end. The guards hardly bothered them.


9.7.2008 2:23am
John Martin:
Pal2Pal,

RE: McCain's first marriage.

Well said. I really get tired of the left disparaging McCain because his first marriage did not make it.
9.7.2008 2:26am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
I'm out of here too with this last thought. I don't see how any man can vote for Obama without leaving his manhood at the door of the voting booth. The one thing we know for sure is that McCain doesn't hide behind the skirts of women while trying to convince us he is C-i-C material, he doesn't whine that he is being bullied and oh dear, they're being mean to me.
9.7.2008 2:29am
Matt Austin (mail):
John Martin,


Well said. I really get tired of the left disparaging McCain because his first marriage did not make it.


I've said my piece about how bothered I am when anyone questions McCain's torture and imprisonment. I should also point out ridiculous it is when people lump together "the right" or "the left" when referencing the comments of a few members of either.

Or do you really believe all progressives think, believe, and speak the same thing?
9.7.2008 2:35am
James Lindgren (mail):
Matt Austin:

As I recall, much of the second book is about his 2004 campaign and the issues it raised.
9.7.2008 2:37am
Matt Austin (mail):
P2P,


I'm out of here too with this last thought. I don't see how any man can vote for Obama without leaving his manhood at the door of the voting booth. The one thing we know for sure is that McCain doesn't hide behind the skirts of women while trying to convince us he is C-i-C material, he doesn't whine that he is being bullied and oh dear, they're being mean to me.


A truly intelligent comment. Nonetheless, shall I point out how much whining I've heard from the McCain campaign and its surrogates about that mean, mean media in the last eight days? I mean, Campbell Brown did have a field day with that campaign spokesman, but should they really be so scared as to cancel on Larry King? He wouldn't hurt a fly!
9.7.2008 2:39am
Matt Austin (mail):
Jim,


Matt Austin:

As I recall, much of the second book is about his 2004 campaign and the issues it raised.


To the point that is should be classified as a memoir or autobiography? (A serious question, not a sarcastic retort)

An attempt at some evidence for my claim:
As classifed by Amazon.com:

#4 in Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Political Science > United States > Civil Rights
#5 in Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Political Science > Systems Of Government
#6 in Books > Nonfiction > Government > Federal Government
9.7.2008 2:44am
Mmmmm-hmmmm:
I don't see how any man can vote for Obama without leaving his manhood at the door of the voting booth.

Well, that's a convincing argument, isn't it?

The one thing we know for sure is that McCain doesn't hide behind the skirts of women while trying to convince us he is C-i-C material

Guess you haven't heard any news in the past week, then?
9.7.2008 2:47am
mac (mail) (www):
The way he capitalizes on his torture experience is frankly disgusting. Many service people who have endured a hell of a lot worse than he did, have the dignity and class to keep it private unless there is reason - educational or other - to speak of it. McCain wears it like an Award. The man-o-suffering. One his Vietnamese guards came out on the media recently and said reports of his torture have been greatly exaggerated.

What do his tribulations in Vietnam back in the 60's have to do with his ability to serve as president of the USA? Very damn little. This wallowing in his personal history and the constant refrain of "country first" is sickening. The term "country first" is in fact fascist in origin.

Americans need to become more inclusive and less insular and obsessive about their "country." No nation exists in isolation, not is it acceptable for any one nation to laud it over others in the global community. The chants of "USA USA" at the RNC sounded like the chanting of fascists to people who aren't American. No political convention I know of in Canada, the UK or elsewhere involves the chanting of the name of the country.

Asia is coming on a lot faster than many fully recognize. There will be a major readjustment of the global power game in the next decade. If the US insists on bohunk unilateralism - elects McCain-Palin and takes this "country first" flag waving mentality forward, it will isolate the US even more and make it even more of a target.
9.7.2008 2:50am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
once John McCain refused to be used for propaganda purposes, he had it worst of all


By his own account, McCain didn't "refuse[d] to be used for propaganda purposes." Unless you mean he refused until he stopped refusing. And by his own account, he didn't have it "worst of all." Let me know if you want me to cite exact text and page numbers.

McCain came home and spent a year in the hospital


Really? That's a new one. I hope you'll tell us who told you that.

He had physical therapy sessions for several months, as an outpatient. He did not spend "a year in the hospital."

I wonder if you could reestablish a working/loving relationship with someone you last saw 6 or 7 years ago?


You're missing the point entirely. The issue is not particularly that his marriage ended. The issue is that he cheated on her, multiple times. The former does not have to entail the latter.

Aside from that, my concept of marriage is that if there are kids, you stay, at least until they're grown. Despite the temptation of leaving them behind for a beer heiress who is barely half your age.
9.7.2008 2:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

So it WASN'T from a beating! It was from being hammered with a rifle butt! It IS good to have that cleared up.


Actually, for those of us with an attachment to the quaint idea of historical accuracy, it is indeed relevant to distinguish between what his jailers did to him, as compared with what happened to him elsewhere.

This is the part of his attack on McCain when a certain person starts making me ill


When you feel better, maybe you can dig up that page number.
9.7.2008 2:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
why in the hell would anyone split hairs about the abuse he suffered as a POW?


Because facts matter, and because telling the truth matters. And because it's relevant to understand that according to Bush, McCain wasn't tortured. (Also, according to Bush, McCain wasn't in solitary confinement.)

Did you notice how many times Thompson used the word "torture?" He couldn't, even though that's what he was talking about. This strikes me as quite weird, and I think it's worth wondering how we got to such a place.

Some folks might overstate how bad things were for him, but it couldn't possible matter.


Some folks do indeed "overstate how bad things were for him," and it does indeed matter. In my opinion, fictionalizing his story is highly disrespectful. It implies that his actual experience is somehow not heroic enough, and it needs to be embellished. But it doesn't.

He suffered greatly and is a true hero.


I agree, and I have never claimed otherwise, and I have stated that over and over again.

Arguing how much of a hero he is serves no purpose.


A hero is a hero. I don't think of it in terms of degrees of heroism. I think of it in terms of telling the truth, or not.
9.7.2008 2:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Our opponents will treat us the same regardless of our actions in regard to torture.


I notice you said nothing to respond to my point about incentives to surrender.
9.7.2008 2:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I see nothing in Butler's piece that indicates he doubts McCain's love of country.


Fair enough. I should have been clearer, because I didn't mean to suggest that Butler "doubts McCain's love of country." I realize I did so. My mistake.

And Butler's words that you cited ("McCain served his time as a POW with great courage, loyalty and tenacity etc") are words I agree with.
9.7.2008 2:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Actually, about a dozen took the offer


Thanks for the correction. I knew that but was writing too quickly. I should have said "most," not "all." My mistake.

You should try reading more than a short article written by another former POW


You should be a little less quick to make assumptions about what I've read or not read.
9.7.2008 2:53am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
That's probably because McCain doesn't think he WAS wrong about the Iraq war.


He said we would "win it easily." Sounds wrong to me.
9.7.2008 2:54am
Pal2Pal (mail) (www):
Matt Austin: re: Campbell Brown

You must not have seen the full segment rather than just the edited clip they started showing the next day. It was sickening, at least to the women watching.

Mmmmm-hmmmm: Guess you haven't heard any news in the past week, then?

Yes, I've seen plenty. I've seen the left go insane with the most despicable claims and smears I've seen in my lifetime and I'm old enough to remember some bad ones going back to the '50s. I've watched Obama sneer and look down his nose at hardworking Americans. I've seen educations laughed at because they were at State Universities or no name colleges instead of Hahvahd. I've seen children and young adults dragged thru the mud, I've heard a man claim he is a man of the people, the working class, while at a $30,800 a pop fundraiser, I've seen those try to make campaigning for president equal to governing a state when everyone knows that all a candidate does is show up where his scheduler tells him to and has no part of actually running a campaign, I've seen it all and it all disgusts me.

Obama is toast. I predicted six months ago that McCain would win, now I'm predicting he'll win in a landslide. The folks are angry and the sooner the elitists in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor and San Fran/Marin County get it, the less painful it will be. We out here in the real world have no use for poofed up empty suits who think they can tell us how to live our lives. We do not want someone who uses Alinsky as his guiding force, we don't want a Marxist in the White House. We hold the plastic, over-educated politically correct hypocrites in disdain.
9.7.2008 3:07am
iambatman:
"More interesting is the snippet from O'Reilly of Obama acknowledging that the Surge was a great success while seemingly not being able to admit that he was wrong about it. You would think it wouldn 't be that difficult, but he struggled as if admitting an affair. Compare that with McCain who in the midst of his acceptance speech, seen by more even than Obama's, acknowledged to the world that he was broken under the pressure of North Vietnamese torture."

If Obama was wrong about "teh surge!11!", McCain was wrong about invading Iraq in the first place. Why hasn't he admitted that? Seems like a more matched set of judgments to me...
9.7.2008 3:11am
Malvolio:
The way he capitalizes on his torture experience is frankly disgusting.
Yeah, mentioning in one speech every 30 years. He's milking it.
One his Vietnamese guards came out on the media recently and said reports of his torture have been greatly exaggerated.
Well, that certainly settles the matter, doesn't it? Because if you can't trust North Vietnamese prison guards, who can you trust?
The chants of "USA USA" at the RNC sounded like the chanting of fascists to people who aren't American.
Do fascists chant "USA" a lot? News to me.
9.7.2008 3:15am
Sally:
"No political convention I know of in Canada, the UK or elsewhere involves the chanting of the name of the country."

Which is one of the reasons so many Americans love doing it. Certainly it's no more troubling than chanting "Obama, Obama" which many Democrat crowds love to do. In this he has not been well served by his supporters. We can accept the cult of personality in sports figures and movie celebrities to some extent but many Americans reject that sort of thing when it comes to politicians, who have far more power to affect our lives adversely if they aren't watched very closely, lest they start to believe in their own invincibility.
9.7.2008 3:17am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Yeah, mentioning in one speech every 30 years. He's milking it.


You're right that he doesn't usually mention his torture explicitly. But he wears his POW-ness on his sleeve, both directly and via his surrogates. And that's a close proxy for talking about his torture.

We all know his middle name is 'POW,' as if that's a great accomplishment. But it's not (despite all his heroism). After all, "it doesn't take a lot of talent to intercept a surface-to-air missile with your own airplane." And the person who said that is someone in a position to know.
9.7.2008 3:26am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
We can accept the cult of personality in sports figures and movie celebrities to some extent but many Americans reject that sort of thing when it comes to politicians


You should tell that to the crowds of people chanting Palin's first name. I think the GOP has a little "cult of personality" problem on its hands. The irony is obvious.
9.7.2008 3:26am
Frowns all around.:
"I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's."

And now he has been broken by the right wingers of the GOP. Neocon flat-earthers have broken him again. He is no longer his country's. He belongs to the worst elements of his party. I admired 2000's McCain. I don't see that man today.
9.7.2008 3:37am
Sarcastro (www):

The folks are angry and the sooner the elitists in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor and San Fran/Marin County get it, the less painful it will be. We out here in the real world have no use for poofed up empty suits who think they can tell us how to live our lives.


Indeed! Elect McCain today, or the "folks" will rise up tomorrow!

Viva la revolucion! (And by revolucion I mean voting for the party in power again)
9.7.2008 3:38am
Sally:
"You should tell that to the crowds of people chanting Palin's first name."

Absolutely. What is inspiring the GOP base right now, the fresh face, the appealing story, creates the same trap that the Obama supporters have set for themselves. It is never wise to build any of these candidates up too high because it means they have that much further to fall when we inevitably realize that they are imperfect.

Palin would be wise I think to do some in-depth media interviews (and not Oprah or any of those shows), to show that she's got some depth. I don't think Obama has really done that effectively either, and partly because his supporters have been satisfied with his star quality, up until now anyway.
9.7.2008 3:40am
Matt Austin (mail):
P2P,

I'm relatively new to this blog and am getting an idea about the people commenting on it. I'll slowly compile a mental list of folks with whom it would be a waste of time to engage. Your post (2:07am) makes it painfully clear that you are one of these people. But one part of me demands I respond one last time before disregarding your future, um, comments(?):


The folks are angry and the sooner the elitists in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor and San Fran/Marin County get it, the less painful it will be. We out here in the real world have no use for poofed up empty suits who think they can tell us how to live our lives.


It's pathetic when one party or group of people has to take up the claim that only they are "real", insinuating that the rest of us are all...what? I've never understood that.

It divulges an insecurity (evidenced by you attacking your targets as "over-educated") and a willingness to tear down the opponent at any cost - even the cost of dehumanizing them.

I'm a part of your "real world", I assure you. I have an education, but just a bachelor's degree. I make far less than the average income for an individual in this country (presumably, I am therefore not an elitist), I drive a Jeep, I own guns, I work 50+ hours a week for a non-profit community school (fyi, no government assistance at all). I've never lived in DC, New York, or California nor have I ever desired to live in these places. I have lived primarily in the southeast and now reside in Texas.

Somehow, despite (or because of) this, I am a liberal Democrat.

I have friends from across the political spectrum. Plenty of them disagree with me and deserve serious responses. You aren't serious. You're a collection of one-liners, talk radio regurgitations, and the inability to process information for yourself.

That last part is why it would be pointless to engage you further. Someone who cannot process information but can merely remember and recite "facts" and opinions he already agrees with serves no purpose in a debate, assuming the purpose of debate is attain greater clarity and understanding of the issues at hand.

Nothing said will ever impact how you think and help you evolve...and we know what happens to things that can't adapt and evolve.

How the hell can someone be "over-educated" anyway?
9.7.2008 3:45am
Sassr:
you're such a hack
9.7.2008 3:49am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Palin would be wise I think to do some in-depth media interviews


I'm glad we agree on this. Trouble is, I think her campaign is bending over backwards to keep her away from that kind of scrutiny.
9.7.2008 3:51am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
How the hell can someone be "over-educated" anyway?


Good point. I think there are many signs that the GOP has embraced anti-intellectualism. "Elite" is a code word for "educated."
9.7.2008 3:51am
theobromophile (www):
A quick thing on McCain's first marriage: when y'all see the friends that you've grown up with (middle school, high school) after a long separation, is it easy to reestablish a relationship? Does it flow the same way it used to? Or is there just too much that has happened in the interim for it to ever be the same? Now, replace those years of running around, building a career, getting an education, and raising a family with being tortured in a POW camp in some foreign country, and those friends with a spouse.

My third thought was whether it's necessarily a good thing for McCain to believe that he was not "my own man anymore. I was my country's."

Good for him, or for other people? Perhaps the latter - if our politicians all gave themselves to their country as if the country owned them, not the reverse, America may be a better place. Certainly not the former.
9.7.2008 3:57am
Sarcastro (www):
theobromophile it is not so far from "My country owns me" to "your country owns you."

Course one could argue most politicians already subscribe to the latter philosophy.

I am not so cynical, however.
9.7.2008 4:00am
TCO:
You're coming at this whole thing like you are someone who knows very little about the military, about the VN POW experience, etc.

It's well known that he was broken...and the story is typical of the experiences of POWs. That doesn't make it any more compelling of course. It was typical for Christians to get fed to lions also.

This has nothing to do with forestalling wacko charges of collaboration. This is just the normal narrative that is the VN POW experience.

Now take some homework and read some books of people that were there. I've done so. And also had training from guys who were over there.
9.7.2008 4:07am
Scote (mail):

This has nothing to do with forestalling wacko charges of collaboration. This is just the normal narrative that is the VN POW experience.

And this would make him qualified to be president how?
9.7.2008 4:12am
TCO:
I'm really hesitant to get into a comparison here, since all of these guys showed huge bravery in enduring things that few (if any) of us have. With that, scuttlebut is that Stockdale and Lawrence endured and withstood some of the worst. Would not harm some of y'all to go read up about them. Or watch some pro dev flicks on the Code of Conduct.

BTW, that thing about POWs watching the Hanoi bombing is interesting. My uncle was a CAG in VN, and got a Navy Cross for leading the first raid on Haiphong Harbor (thick with SAMs).
9.7.2008 4:26am
TCO:
Scote: I was responding to the original post writer. Making the point that he seemed unsteeped in stuff that is pretty easy to read about. And definitely covered at the Boat School.

In terms of how it affects McCain's presidency. John was sharing something about himself. I think he connected it well (dedictation to the country, the whole no atheists in foxholes thing). But I wasn't really trying to make a tic tac toe argument. Neither was John. Now run along now, ya fucking linear thinker.
9.7.2008 4:31am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
theo:

Or is there just too much that has happened in the interim for it to ever be the same?


Someone else raised this point, and I responded, and you've ignored my response. The issue is not particularly that his marriage ended. The issue is the way he went about ending it.

There is also the small matter of leaving children behind.
9.7.2008 4:42am
William Spieler (mail) (www):
Let's not forget that the surge hasn't worked. The goal of the surge was to create political reconciliation and unity among the various Iraqi factions by creating increased security through the application of increased American military presence. As the reconciliation and unity have not materialized, the surge has failed.

Claiming the surge is a great success is ignoring that the biggest problem in Iraq is political, not military.

So if anything, Obama's refusal to kowtow to those who would demand that he repudiate his accurate prediction of the surge's failure because the theory behind the surge happened to be wrong cannot be something to fault him upon.

The fact that you'd label it a "grudging recent admission on the Surge" is, of course, a lie, in that it's not grudging nor is it recent. Obama has claimed, for some time, that the surge has, indeed, increased security. By failing to create political reconciliation, the surge has, however failed. Obama's flatly right, his critics are entirely wrong, and Jim, you should edit your post to reflect that you are perpetuating a lie about Obama's stance.
9.7.2008 4:59am
LM (mail):
Simon's comparison relies on a false equivalence. The only similarity between McCain's and Obama's confessions is the word itself. McCain's was deeply personal, but with no political downside. Obama's was impersonal and asked only because it was laden with political risk. The proper comparison would be between Obama's position on the surge and McCain's on the war itself.

On the other hand, much of the thread discussion of McCain's speech and confession seems caught in a false dichotomy. It may be counter-intuitive, but "politically calculated" and "sincere" aren't mutually exclusive. McCain's speech was both (and also, by the way, quite moving).
9.7.2008 5:06am
LM (mail):
BTW, as I'm typing this the TV's on, and my GF is watching Byron Allen, the worst comedian with a job that doesn't require an apron. Talk about torture....
9.7.2008 5:13am
A.W. (mail):
Well, the fact he had been broken was known for a long time. i heard it listening to the audio version of his book.
9.7.2008 5:24am
speedwell (mail):
Oh. So now McCain's Jesus? He suffered for his country and now we must all follow him? Piss on it.

For someone who believes he is his country's man rather than his own man, he certainly spits on the liberty ideals that his country was founded upon. He has nothing but contempt for us and I have nothing but contempt for him.
9.7.2008 6:19am
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

"But they were not in violation of the Bush-Yoo standard."


How prescient of the North Vietnamese. They could read the Yoo memo long before it was ever written.

"It also appears that we have done the equivalent of everything that was done to him in prison."


I assume you speak of the occupation of Germany after WWII. German POWs were tortured after the war was over. But I guess Churchill, Stalin, Truman and Eisenhower et al were also able to channel the Yoo memo. BTW which part of the Yoo memo authorizes US soldiers to kick the balls off POWs after the war is over and the enemy is occupied? Which part of the Yoo memo authorizes the mistreat of civilians after the war is over?

"Since it is now known that America mistreats its captives, all our enemies in all future wars now have a greater disincentive to surrender."

If that's true then Americans should never surrender because in every war over last 67 years American POWs have been mistreated by the enemy with one exception: Nazi Germany*. Of course the Nazis did seriously mistreat Russian soldiers. They really had an incentive not to surrender because if somehow they survived their Nazi torturers, their own country would finish the job. In case you didn't know it, all Russian POWs who returned to the USSR were sent to the Gulag. Despite the double whammy they faced, Russians did surrender. So much for your theory.

* Strictly speaking there was at least one case of severe mistreatment of American POWs by the Germans, but nothing systematic-- nothing like Japan or China or Vietnam. Germany did follow the rules with British and American POWs, but not with Russians.
9.7.2008 7:20am
smitty1e:
@speedwell
McCain is no actor, or messiah. That was the bare man speaking on Thursday.
From what I can tell, he supports the Constitution as written, but not some of the attempts to tweak it by fiat.
9.7.2008 7:22am
treebeard (mail):
I too was deeply moved by the speech, and it made me think much more of McCain as a person. I already respected him, and this made me feel stronger.
What it did not do was give me a reason to vote for him. Let me ask other commenters, how does his POW experience from decades ago translate into "He will make a great president"? I just don't see it.
Someone above mentioned that Obama would not last under similar circumstances, and would probably collaborate with the enemy. I doubt that. I imagine most POW's found reserves within themselves that they didn't know they had, and did the best they could in a horrible situation. I have seen and heard nothing from Obama that makes me think he would wilt under pressure. The assumption that he would be a knee-jerk collaborator is just hyperpartisan. I don't see anything in Obama that would allow him to betray his fellow soldiers in such a situation.
But again, how does McCain's experience all those years ago make him someone to vote for? I don't doubt that he loves his country (has anyone ever doubted that? of course not). I also don't doubt that Obama loves his country - anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been listening to the man, or thinks he is being disingenuous.
If a foreign country provokes the United States to a war-time footing, who would we want at the top? Based on what I have observed, I would be fearful of a President McCain. Frankly, I think he would be eager to get back at America's enemies, and provoke a war, a little bit too quickly.
9.7.2008 8:45am
Just Me (mail):
The chants of "USA USA" at the RNC sounded like the chanting of fascists to people who aren't American.

If you were paying attention, the crowd was shouting down protestors/hecklers who worked their way into the convention to disrupt it.
9.7.2008 9:03am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I also don't doubt that Obama loves his country - anyone who thinks otherwise hasn't been listening to the man, or thinks he is being disingenuous."

Then why did he listen to anti-American rhetoric for so long? His former church subscribes to the doctrine of black liberation theology as put forth by James Cone. I don't see how anyone who loves his country would associate with such an organization. BHO only left that church after it became an issue in the campaign. His church and his pastor made no secret about their beliefs. His pastor is also an associate of Louis Farrakhan, which I also find troubling.

I do think he's being disingenuous.
9.7.2008 9:23am
Cornellian (mail):
The biggest argument against using torture as an instrument for gathering information is that eventually anyone will confess to anything to make it stop.

Apparently, the current administration didn't get the memo on this.

GW Bush can't even bring himself to say McCain was tortured in Vietnam.
9.7.2008 9:53am
TDPerkins (mail):

Yes. But they were not in violation of the Bush-Yoo standard. After reading various detailed accounts of his treatment, it becomes clear that nothing done to McCain in prison would be called torture under the Bush-Yoo standard.

It also appears that we have done the equivalent of everything that was done to him in prison.


Are you lying or only imagining?


Since it is now known that America mistreats its captives, all our enemies in all future wars now have a greater disincentive to surrender.


Mow I know you are lying. If our enemies obey the GC, so will we, Bush has never said anything else.

You have yet to make a case the GC should be obeyed WRT to unlawful combatants unilaterally.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.7.2008 10:07am
TDPerkins (mail):

Yes. But they were not in violation of the Bush-Yoo standard. After reading various detailed accounts of his treatment, it becomes clear that nothing done to McCain in prison would be called torture under the Bush-Yoo standard.

It also appears that we have done the equivalent of everything that was done to him in prison.


Are you lying or only imagining?


Since it is now known that America mistreats its captives, all our enemies in all future wars now have a greater disincentive to surrender.


Now I know you are lying. If our enemies obey the GC, so will we, Bush has never said anything else.

You have yet to make a case the GC should be obeyed WRT to unlawful combatants unilaterally.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.7.2008 10:07am
pedro (mail):
I agree that it was the best line in the speech. It is comforting to know that should McCain win the election, despicable pro-torture shmibertarians and republicans won't have an enthusiastic enabler in the white house.
9.7.2008 10:32am
TDPerkins (mail):
mac wrote:


One his Vietnamese guards came out on the media recently and said reports of his torture have been greatly exaggerated.


Of course that's actual evidence it's true. It's not a virtual certainty that guard is lying or anything...

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.7.2008 10:39am
sigh:
i admire john mccain for his service and his courage. i certainly don't think any less of him for 'breaking' under torture. i certainly do think less of him for exploiting the whole experience to drive his campaign when its relevance to his qualifications for the presidency is limited, and when there is precious little other substance to his campaign.

and i'm quite certain that orwell would not want his name or writing used to support this campaign, and that he would not think mccain's admission a particularly good illustration of the passage you posted.
9.7.2008 10:41am
Em:
No one can go through 5.5 years of imprisonment and torture and not come out a different man. While I don't particularly like to hear about it, I also don't think McCain should hide the fact that he was a POW. I thought the way he approached the topic in his speech was actually very good, as opposed to the many other speakers who brought up the topic to tell us he's a hero. While that is certainly true, it does not mean that fact qualifies him for the presidency. However, in his speech, he explained to us how that experience changed him. It allows us to understand how he views the world and how it's shaped him.
9.7.2008 11:09am
Bruce:
Just 8 more weeks...
9.7.2008 11:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

How prescient of the North Vietnamese. They could read the Yoo memo long before it was ever written.


It's hard to imagine that you mean that as as serious comment, but apparently you do.

When waterboarding was used in the Spanish Inquisition, that was also obviously not a violation of the Bush-Yoo standard. And you know exactly what I mean, and it has nothing to do with claiming the Inquisitioners were "prescient."

I assume you speak of the occupation of Germany after WWII.


Wrong. I have seen no evidence that we tortured prisoners during that period the way Bush has tortured prisoners. I'm talking about what's been done under Bush.

which part of the Yoo memo authorizes US soldiers to kick the balls off POWs after the war is over


Please show me your evidence that during "the occupation of Germany" we "kick[ed] the balls off POWs."

If that's true then Americans should never surrender because in every war over last 67 years American POWs have been mistreated by the enemy


Let me know if you're actually claiming that a given soldier in a given war is actually not more likely to surrender if he's confident his captors will treat him well.
9.7.2008 12:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I don't see how anyone who loves his country would associate with such an organization.


I wonder what you think of an organization that promotes a statement like this:

I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions.


Because Palin did indeed "associate'' with that organization. Todd, who is arguably a co-governor, was a member.
9.7.2008 12:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Are you lying or only imagining?


You are claiming that McCain's jailers did something to him that we don't do to our captives. Please tell me what it is.

For everything that was done to him, we have done the equivalent (although not necessarily the exact same procedure).
9.7.2008 12:50pm
TDPerkins (mail):
Some the deliberately ignorant here need to apprise themselves of is that waterboarding as has been practiced on a spare handful of very highly placed Al Qaeda prisoners does not involved water entering any bodily passage. Neither actual drowning, dry drowning, nor pneumonia is possible.

Waterboarding as the Inquisition practiced it involved actual the immersion in and inhalation of water.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.7.2008 1:04pm
TDPerkins (mail):

You are claiming that McCain's jailers did something to him that we don't do to our captives. Please tell me what it is.

For everything that was done to him, we have done the equivalent (although not necessarily the exact same procedure).


Prove it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.7.2008 1:05pm
TDPerkins (mail):

Because Palin did indeed "associate'' with that organization.


Oh, you mean her husband? Yeah, at least 5 times.


Todd, who is arguably a co-governor, was a member.


Arguable by you? No doubt the same ethical standards for rigorous honesty will be seen in that "argument" equal to your honesty elsewhere. And "co-governor", well, far be for me to discourage you from lying from the start.

Or you can provide actual support for the proposition that Palin has devolved her constitutional duties to him?

Do tell.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
9.7.2008 1:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
waterboarding as has been practiced on a spare handful of very highly placed Al Qaeda prisoners does not involved water entering any bodily passage.


I hope you'll tell us about the named credible source who supports those claims.

Prove it.


It's up to you to tell me what you think was done to McCain that we have not done. If you tell me what that is, I will show you that we have done it (if not the exact procedure, then the equivalent).

Yeah, at least 5 times.


Todd Palin was a member of AIP for years. I don't know where you get "5 times."

No doubt the same ethical standards for rigorous honesty will be seen in that "argument" equal to your honesty elsewhere.


If you're claiming that I've been dishonest "elsewhere" then you should demonstrated an example.

Or you can provide actual support for the proposition that Palin has devolved her constitutional duties to him?


She copies him on many official emails. He has used her office for meetings with government officials. She claims the emails are covered by executive privilege because he is supposedly one of her closest advisors. Do some googling. If you can't figure it out on your own, just ask and I'll give you a hand.
9.7.2008 2:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Jukeboxgrad:

"Wrong. I have seen no evidence that we tortured prisoners during that period the way Bush has tortured prisoners. I'm talking about what's been done under Bush."

German POWs sent the penitentiary in the town of Schwabisch near Stuttgart for interrogation were tortured by Americans to extract confessions of war crimes. Their methods were similar to those used by the SS at Dachau and included kicks to the groin of such force as to cause permanent destruction of the POW's testicles in 137 out of 139 cases examined. The perpetrators included Harry Thon, Bruno Jacobs, Frank Steiner, and Joesph Kirschbaum. The man in charge of the American torture team was William Perl. Screams of the tortured Germans could be heard in the small town of Schwabisch and Cardinal Joesph Frings, the Archbishop of Cologne kept a tally of the reports of American torture. The Americans used other forms of torture as well. For example Oberursel Peiper was kept alone for 7 weeks and subjected to extreme heat and cold. Previously he was kept in a dark cellar for 5 weeks at Zuffenhausen.

If you want more details see:

1. Hitler's Last General: The Case Against Wilhelm Mohnke by Botting and Sayer

2. Manstein: His Campaign and his Trial by Paget

3. Blind Eye to Murder by Bower

4. Clay Papers II by Smith

General Clay investigated the incidents at Schwabisch and essentially admitted the brutal treatment of the inmates.

We should also note that the brutality at Schwabisch is not merely the work of a rogue team of American interrogators because there was systematic mistreat of German POWs at other places too. For example Rheinwiesenlager, Rheinberg and Buderich. At Rheinwiesenlager German POWs were pushed into an open areas on the banks of Rhine and deprived of anything to protect them from the elements. The men had to dig holes and were sometimes buried alive when wet holes collapsed.

See Die vermistte Million by Smith and Aufzeichmugen by Bohme and Wolf.

All this before Bush and Yoo.
9.7.2008 2:44pm
ejo:
channeling jbg, it was not mistreatment. mccain was hurt due to his incompetence as a pilot and they were actually using advanced chiropractic techniques in an effort to treat him.
9.7.2008 2:46pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

I wonder what you think of an organization that promotes a statement like this:

The question at issue is Obama's love for his country, not someone else's. Palin and her husband's love for their country is another matter. You made a statement that BHO loves his country, and you won't deal with evidence contrary to that assertion.
9.7.2008 2:59pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

"Let me know if you're actually claiming that a given soldier in a given war is actually not more likely to surrender if he's confident his captors will treat him well."

I gave you specific counter examples to the hypothesis that good treatment of POWs will induce soldiers to surrender. Soldiers tend fight until they have no choice, and they assume a worst case treatment. Look at the Japanese, did our adherence to Geneva induce them to surrender? Of course not, they fought on. If we don't expect our enemies to adhere to Geneva while we do, then we communicate weakness and the appearance of weakness invites trouble.
9.7.2008 3:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
German POWs sent the penitentiary in the town of Schwabisch … The man in charge of the American torture team was William Perl


What I find when I try to verify your claim is information that contradicts it (here, here and here). So I wonder if you can do any better. I'm sure we committed war crimes in WWII, but the information I found seems to contradict the specific claims you made.

Oberursel Peiper was kept alone for 7 weeks and subjected to extreme heat and cold


Surely you know that we also use temperature extremes.

Previously he was kept in a dark cellar for 5 weeks at Zuffenhausen.


If I came here and complained that one of our prisoners "was kept in a dark cellar for 5 weeks," there would be a chorus yelling 'so what.'

Look at the Japanese, did our adherence to Geneva induce them to surrender?


I didn't realize it until I just did some research, but apparently "our adherence to Geneva" left a lot to be desired:

Allied soldiers in the Pacific often deliberately killed Japanese soldiers who had surrendered. According to Richard Aldrich, who has published a study of the diaries kept by United States and Australian soldiers, they sometimes massacred prisoners of war.[41] Dower states that in "many instances ... Japanese who did become prisoners were killed on the spot or en route to prison compounds."[35] According to Aldrich it was common practice for US troops not to take prisoners.[42] This analysis is supported by British historian Niall Fergusson,[43] who also says that, in 1943, "a secret [U. S.] intelligence report noted that only the promise of ice cream and three days leave would ... induce American troops not to kill surrendering Japanese."[44]
9.7.2008 3:22pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
they were actually using advanced chiropractic techniques in an effort to treat him


You're attempting satire, but you don't realize that we live in a post-satirical era. Our genteel euphemism for torture isn't "advanced chiropractic techniques." It's "enhanced interrogation techniques." When reality and satire are so similar, then there's not much point in attempting satire.
9.7.2008 3:23pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

"What I find when I try to verify your claim is information that contradicts it (here, here and here). So I wonder if you can do any better."


Did you actually read your sources? For the most part they confirm the mistreatment of the German POWs. For example "Peral and Harry Thon. Both had spoken approvingly of the violent methods of interrogation... " We do have a difference in terms of the medical reports as to permanent injuries done to the inmates. But how far do you expect the US Army will go in investigating itself?

Your link to the obit of William Perl indicates he was a member of the Jewish Defense League a group know to use violent methods against those they perceive as anti-Semitic. In fact according to the obit, "He was arrested and convicted on charges of conspiring to shoot into the Prince George's County apartments of two Soviet Embassy officials in 1976." So it's extremely credible that such a person would have tortured German POWs accused of war crimes against Jews. Thanks for providing this as it strengthens my case quite a bit. Now we know why Perl would have done such things.

Finally your last cite is perhaps the best of them all because it shows that the Americans used a Yoo-like argument in claiming the German soldiers were really civilians and therefore not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. It called them "civilian internees." So lets get this straight. The Waffen SS a combat unit, who wore uniforms with a clear insignia, carried their arms openly and were part of the military structure with a clear chain of command are "civilians." Even Bush and Yoo would not go that far.

Thanks very much for those references, I can see that you're finally on my side.
9.7.2008 4:06pm
Bandon:
I was impressed by McCain's willingness to discuss being "broken" by his captors in Vietnam. It increased my respect for him. However, another of the personal confessions in his acceptance speech caused me some concern. In discussing his self-centered approach to life before he was a POW in Vietnam, McCain admitted that he was pretty cocky and liked to start fights just for fun. The implication was that he was now a changed man and no longer an egotistical SOB looking for a fight. Well,....maybe.

McCain's temper and temperament still worry me. In the words of Phillip Butler, one of McCain's fellow students at the Naval Academy and a fellow POW in Vietnam: "I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button."

As much as McCain wants us all to believe that he has changed, he still has a temper and still likes to pick fights. Even in his speech the other night, he presented himself over and over again as a "fighter" -- although I'm sure he meant it in only the best sense of the word. It should worry Americans a lot that there are still reports of McCain throwing colleagues out of his office and engaging in lengthy profanity-laced tirades against those in Congress who disagree with him. His bellicose response to nearly every international crisis does not instill confidence that he is the kind of problem-solving statesman who can defuse a crisis rather than inflame it.

So I'm not worried about McCain's confession of being "broken" as a POW, but I'm very worried by the fact that he has not broken his old habit of picking fights.
9.7.2008 4:21pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Bandon:

I agree with you completely, and that's one reason I don't support McCain. Moreover his behavior last year with respect to the McCain-Kennedy bill granting amnesty to illegal aliens was disgraceful. and really showed he is a hot head with little tolerance for those who disagree with him. For example,
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain taunted rival Mitt Romney on immigration Monday, saying the former Massachusetts governor should "get out his small-varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his lawn."
Is this man presidential material?

If we want to go into the behavior of the candidates in their younger years then I also have a problem with BHO's cocaine habit and his narcissistic personality. I don't like the way he tries to make his background opaque. For example he won't release any of his academic records. Why not?

For many reasons I don't support either candidate.
9.7.2008 4:35pm
Paul Allen:
William Spieler writes:

Let's not forget that the surge hasn't worked. The goal of the surge was to create political reconciliation and unity among the various Iraqi factions by creating increased security through the application of increased American military presence. As the reconciliation and unity have not materialized, the surge has failed.

I think you're wrong there. The pre-surge thinking was that political progress was the prerequisite for controlling the violence. The surge has shows this to be false. Second, th e immediate goal of the surge was an end to violence. This was valued both as an end to itself and in hopes that it would enable a political reconciliation.

Last, I must dispute your allegation that there hasn't been political progress. Political progress has been substantial. e.g., the major sunni parties that walked out of parliament two years ago are back. The only stuck point on the list of political goals is the oil deal.

The Iraqis appear to have worked around that one with ad hoc arrangements--something that draws into question demands for comprehensive reform.
9.7.2008 4:53pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Yes. But they were not in violation of the Bush-Yoo standard. After reading various detailed accounts of his treatment, it becomes clear that nothing done to McCain in prison would be called torture under the Bush-Yoo standard.
Let me suggest that this is highly inaccurate, and an oft-refuted DNC talking point without merit. There is a significant difference between water boarding and the like, and what John McCain, and many of the other POWs with him, went through.

Let me suggest that you (re)read the Yoo, et al. memos and point at the specific places therein where this level of torture would be acceptable.
9.7.2008 6:16pm
Hoosier:
They broke John McCain

Is he still under warranty?
9.7.2008 6:42pm
Hoosier:
Bruce Hayden--Let me suggest that this is highly inaccurate, and an oft-refuted DNC talking point without merit

(((Psst! Many have already corrected him. He doesn't actually care. Shh!)))
9.7.2008 6:44pm
Hoosier:
ejo:
channeling jbg, it was not mistreatment. mccain was hurt due to his incompetence as a pilot and they were actually using advanced chiropractic techniques in an effort to treat him.


Box it up. ejo taken this thread home.
9.7.2008 6:46pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Torture victims will tell you whatever they think you want to hear, whether it is true or not."

Perhaps they will, but why should we presume they know what you want to hear? And why should we presume the questioners are so incompetent they will be satisfied with having their own opinions validated? It's not a deposition.
9.7.2008 9:31pm
TCO:
The statement that torture is useless is silly. I am against it for moral reasons (both intrinsically and in terms of high ground, raport, etc.). But give me a bic lighter, tie yourself to a chair and I will get your bank card;s PIN. If you have any doubts, let's do the experiment. Put it on Youtube and all. Can go next to the fellow who underwent waterboarding and then said...yup it's torture...after having said it wasn't.
9.7.2008 10:20pm
TCO:
Besides, I don't think you understand that torture of a POW is not about some single theoretical incident like out of a TV show or something. It's about breaking the person and making him your bitch. Read up on what went down in the Korean War and how that led to the Code of Conduct.
9.7.2008 10:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Did you actually read your sources?


I read what was readily available, short of buying a pile of books and learning to read German.

We do have a difference in terms of the medical reports as to permanent injuries done to the inmates.


That's my point. And the difference is not slight.

how far do you expect the US Army will go in investigating itself?


Good point. I hope you can convey that point to people like perkins, who seem to think that anonymous leakers apparently sent by Bush are a reliable source of information regarding Bush's history of waterboarding.

So it's extremely credible that such a person would have tortured German POWs accused of war crimes against Jews.


Good point. I can't argue with that. And I've agreed that undoubtedly we committed war crimes in WWII. I'm just saying I like to see proof of specific claims before I accept specific claims.

the Americans used a Yoo-like argument in claiming the German soldiers were really civilians


I haven't read that part carefully, and I don't intend to, and I'll take your word for it. I'll accept the claim that Bush and Yoo had some unsavory antecedents.

I can see that you're finally on my side.


I'm on your side with certain things, but not others. I'm trying to be clear about the distinction. Anyway, I don't see where you've contradicted the point I started with: I'm aware of nothing done to McCain in prison that would be called torture under the Bush-Yoo standard.

I also have a problem with BHO's cocaine habit


There's no evidence that he ever had a cocaine "habit." By his own account, and via interviews with about three dozen people who knew him, his cocaine use was somewhere between 'very little' and 'not at all.'
9.7.2008 10:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I'm very worried by the fact that he has not broken his old habit of picking fights.


A long report on this subject was issued today.
9.7.2008 10:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Let me suggest that this is highly inaccurate, and an oft-refuted DNC talking point without merit


Then it should be no trouble for you to point me towards a place where it has been refuted.

Let me suggest that you (re)read the Yoo, et al. memos and point at the specific places therein where this level of torture would be acceptable.


I've already done so, here. Further detail is in my comments preceding that one.
9.7.2008 10:57pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

Many have already corrected him. He doesn't actually care.


Your idea of correcting me is to make something up. When are going to tell us the page number?
9.7.2008 10:57pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

"I read what was readily available, short of buying a pile of books and learning to read German."

Your sources-- the ones you linked to with the claim that they contradicted me. It appears that you didn't read them completely, and with one exception, supported what I wrote. They are in English.

As to the medical condition of the inmates, we need further information to resolve the discrepancy. We don't how throughly the American doctors (assuming they used doctors) examined the inmates. If you don't look you won't find, so their report could be absolutely correct, but completely misleading. Nevertheless, given what we know about William Perl, and what he said, it's most credible that torture was used to extract confessions for a show trial. Moreover given the other incidents of brutal mistreatment of German POWs including starvation, by Allies, I think there's little doubt about what happened.

"There's no evidence that he ever had a cocaine "habit." By his own account, and via interviews with about three dozen people who knew him, his cocaine use was somewhere between 'very little' and 'not at all.'"

The New York Times is a big booster of BHO and is highly unreliable when it comes to political matters. I don't trust them to be either accurate or complete on this. Nevertheless BHO admits to using cocaine, and given his penchant for self promotion and word play, I suspect there is more than "very little" here. For example during the primaries BHO said he didn't have any ties with federal lobbyists. I guess he was hoping people would skip over that word "federal" because he did have ties with state lobbyists, including his New Hampshire campaign co-chair, who lobbies
for the pharmaceutical industry on the state level. He's done this before using the word "some" for "all" in a attempt at obfuscation. I can't help but mistrust someone who is so tricky.
9.8.2008 12:13am