Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


I don’t have much to say about this latest barbarism from evil-doers. What can I say? Savages? Yes. I bet Dan Rather won’t let you see the pictures. But Drudge has photos of the beheading of Paul Johnson, American. File and show them to your friends when they turn wobbly.

And the American Enterprise Institute makes avaliable the video of some of Saddam’s tortures, beheading, cutting off fingers, etc. Again, not available on CBS and the others.

Discussions - 27 Comments

What kind of obscene pleasure do you draw from posting links to this filth?

That’s easy, David: neocons won’t think twice at using graphic images of the worst depravity if it makes them feel better about their position. Obviously, their real concern has nothing to do with the unspeakable torture and death of another human being.


Nobody will ever accuse me of being on board with Peter’s politics or his style, but I honestly do not think he posted that link for the sake of being obscene.

More likely, Peter’s post is an example of the increasingly desperate situation that Conservatives find themselves in at this point. As the prospect of losing the White House this November becomes more of a reality, I suspect we’ll see much more of this type of thing. As Frank suggests, they are going to do anything they can - however distasteful - to try to make themselves (and voters) feel better about their position, and the military and social failures that have accompanied it.

Look for a lot more of this type of thing in the next 2-3 weeks. Conservatives had hoped to emerge from the brief reprieve of the Reagan Funeral Week in better shape, but that has not happened. Bush and Cheney are being heavily criticized (and rightly so) for misleading the world about the ties between Al Quada and Iraq, and the public at large is becoming increasingly furious with the stop-loss plan for the military. On top of that, they have to contend with the release of BC’s book on Monday (which is bound to be hugely successful), and Fahrenheit 911 opens on 700 screens on Friday. Early estimates suggest that it will be a critical and financial success.

So in 1945 Americans shouldn’t have been shown photographs of the stacks of corpses in Nazi concentration camps, or of emaciated Holocaust survivors? Were such things "obscene"? Or were they perhaps necessary to show them as a reminder of just how evil our enemies were, and are today?

The problem, John, is that what Peter did amounts to beating a dead horse. Everyone is already keenly aware of the atrocities that took place in Iraq under Saddam and very, very few people would dispute that they happened.

Also, we could haggle over the differences between black and white photos and video of the gruesome actions taking place, but I’m not going to go there right now.

Paul Johnson was butchered this week, not last year, and by terrorists who remain at large, not by a regime that’s already been overthrown. This horse, Starbuck, is very much alive.

not by a regime that’s already been overthrown

Which is my point EXACTLY, John. Why bother showing video from a regime that HAS since been overthrown.

BTW, what was up with the surgical hand removal. Was this supposed to be torture/form of punishment? If so, why not just hack the sucker off? Am I missing something?

If one does not want to look at the pictures don’t. Perhaps seeing just the link is enough to remind some of the evil with which we are dealing. Starbuck suggests that just because Hussein has been overthrown we should stop showing these images. To continue John’s line of logic, which I find convincing, Starbuck should also be arguing that we should not show Schindler’s List or read "Night" or any other literature about the Holocaust.

I believe the overall point is that the media does not shy away at showing humiliating and awful pictures of the deplorable abuse at Abu Gharib prison, but puts such photos and videos as these out at arms length. Certainly the latter are more horrific, but I think it is indicative of the high level of criticism for American action but the ignoring of the terrorists terrible deeds.

Starbuck suggests that just because Hussein has been overthrown we should stop showing these images

I never suggested that we should forget the atrocities that occurred during the Saddam regime. Those images on the video, however, are of a polarizing nature. Seeing such things at this point is useless, and designed solely for the purpose of political gain.

Actually, if you follow JOHN’S argument to its logical end, then he should be arguing that we should STILL be showing images from World War II.

Actually, if you follow JOHN’S argument to its logical end, then he should be arguing that we should STILL be showing images from World War II.

What, are you kidding me? Haven’t you ever watched the History Channel? And I seem to recall a little film just a few years ago called "Schindler’s List." But of course that was nothing more than political partisanship, right, Starbuck?

I’m actually referring to what Peter posted, not what appears on the History Channel. If his purpose was simply to remind us that evil still lurks in the world, as you claim, then he could have simply posted links to pics from the WWII Holocaust.

The observation that such pictures "are of a polarizing nature" reveals more than its author intends.

If it weren’t for Deanworld peaceniks like Starbuck, such pictures would be of a "unifying" nature, by making it undeniably clear how much more important it is to win this war than to indulge in fastidious, self-defeating moral refinements.

If Mr. Starbuck and his fellow inhabitants of the liberal swamp find these pictures distressing, I’d say that’s all the more reason to make them available. Truth is often distressing.
The fact that They Can’t Handle The Truth is their problem and should not be used to censor what the general public sees.

Actually, many images of German atrocities in WW II are shown ... just about every week or so on the History channel. While I would never say or believe that this is "beating a dead horse," I do think that at this juncture in our history it is more important to be reminded of the atrocities perpetrated by communists (whose fundamental idea is still alive in softened form), which have generally not been made graphically available to the public.

The point would, of course, be equally strong regarding the actions of our savage enemies in the Middle East. Because Deanworld (and Kerryworld) do not recognize the seriousness of the threat we face, or do not really care about it, they can support the media’s refusal to educate us about the horrors perpetrated by our enemy. They care more about winning this election than they do about the strength and unity of this country ... which will wither without a frequent stoking of righteous anger, the kind that the left fails to understand when it stems from patriotism rather than their own socialistic impulses.

Its good to see that at least one of you guys admits that Conservatives will put conscience aside for the sake of partisan politics.

making it undeniably clear how much more important it is to win this war than to indulge in fastidious, self-defeating moral refinements

I think Starbuck’s point is that we are no longer at war with Iraq/Hussein. Why post remnants of a dead government that are just going to upset and "polarize" people, especially when there is no war to win?

I don’t think Starbuck needed you to explain it for him, Dennis. His point was entirely clear. However, as liberals have constantly been reminding us, there still is a war in Iraq, against people who want to see a restoration of Saddam’s regime, or something similar to it. If we lose our nerve, they win, and the things in those "obscene" videos start happening again. It’s as simple as that.

Also, I would suggest that if anyone feels "polarized" by this, it might have something to do with guilt over having opposed the war that brought these atrocities to an end.

As liberals have been reminding us? Are you kidding me, John??? Unless Bush, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft have switched parties without my knowing, they are the ones who have been on tv every other night telling the nation and the world how the "struggle is not over."

Being "polarized" has nothing to do with opposing the war or guilt. Perhaps you ought to pay a little visit to the folks at MerriamWebster. Here, I’ll make it easy for you:

Nope, instead, what this boils down to is the face that Conservatives are getting desperate... and when it comes to Conservatives, desperate times call for desperate measures, no matter how detestable.

To Mr. Moser, you give liberals too much credit. Few of those who are as outspoken as Mr. Starbuck feel much "guilt" about being wrong on an issue. George Will once observed that "detente is the cockroach of American intellectual life. It will be killed only by nuclear winter, and perhaps not even by that."

Saddam Hussein could use nukes against half a dozen American cities and they still wouldn’t feel guilt, still wouldn’t rethink, would still peddle their dung-brained "Peace is Patriotic," "War is not the Answer,"
"Regime Change in America" line.

To Starbuck -- My conscience is in very good shape, thank you. It tells me that protecting our troops and innocent civilians in Iraq, let along innocent Americans here at home, is far more important than treating prisoners nicely. I also have a completely easy conscience about "stoking anger" among the American public. Beheadings and such should absolutely make us very angry indeed.

If you think I need to examine my conscience about either of these positions, you have a great deal of growing up to do, my friend.

Once again, I would like to ask what in God’s name you think you are contributing to this site. No one who finds the Ashbrook blog useful is interested in reading the 100-proof liberal rotgut that you’re sharing with us.

Go back to Deanworld. We don’t want you.

To Mr. Moser, you give liberals too much credit. Few of those who are as outspoken as Mr. Starbuck feel much "guilt" about being wrong on an issue.

I really don’t think that I do. The fact is that liberals see themselves as humanitarians, and their instincts are to act to stop cruelty wherever they encounter it. Recall the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. (and I may be paraphrasing just a bit): "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." At heart they cannot be comfortable with the isolationist position they have found themselves in. Let’s face it--if Al Gore had had the cojones to go to war against Iraq liberals would have fallen all over themselves cheering for it. As Brian Doherty pointed out in a recent issue of Reason, liberals were quick to hail Bill Clinton’s campaign in Kosovo.

I find conservative anti-war sentiment (a la Pat Buchanan) far easier to understand. There is a deep tradition among conservatives to deny the universal applicability of human rights standards; one certainly finds this in Burke’s writings. Thus someone like Buchanan could watch that footage, shrug his shoulders and say, well, that’s too bad, but what business is it of ours? What vital U.S. interest is served by intervening? Liberals, steeped in the progressive tradition of Wilson and FDR, cannot accept this reasoning.

John’s comments reveal much about his own naivete... or is it denial?

Going to war with Iraq was not a matter of "cojones," John. The issue that most folks in the anti-war crowd had with going to war with Iraq was that it was, and still is, an unjustified war. By ignoring Just War Theory, and thumbing his nose at the rest of the world, Bush has compromised not only our moral authority, but the safety of Americans everywhere.

Of course, now that John and his cohorts have expended (unsuccessfully) every possible excuse for going to war with Iraq, I’m not at all surprised that they’ve been reduced to saying things like "Its a matter of cojones."

Leave it to Starbuck to focus on the single word cojones, and ignore the substance of the argument.

Clinton’s interventions in Kosovo and Haiti, and his airstrikes against Iraq, were carried out without UN approval, and were opposed by many of the same countries that opposed last year’s Iraq war.

It seems to me that Starbuck’s interpretation of Just War Theory is that wars waged by Democrats are just; those carried out by Republicans are unjust.

Since your whole, weak argument consists of little more than whining "Gore wouldn’t have had the cojones to attack Iraq!" you leave me with little choice.

Isn’t it funny that anytime Conservatives are questioned about their policies, they simply resort to something along the lines of "Yeah, but Clinton...". Honestly, for all of the sniping you whack-jobs do about Clinton, you seem to be more than willing to use his policies as a frame of reference anytime it suits your agenda. Just a wee bit inconsistent, aren’t we John?

So instead of denying your own double standard, you accuse me of having one. Well, it won’t work. Show me a single instance where in my writing I attacked Clinton’s foreign policy. Can you show me any evidence that you opposed it? What was your response when Al Gore in 1992 said of the Bush administration, "If they’re such whizzes at foreign policy," he said then, "why is Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at the rest of the world?"

Your argument would be a whole lot more compelling if you relied less on fabrication and instead proved that there’s a double standard in place.

But you can’t, so you wont, and that’s why I laugh every time you open your mouth.


I don’t say that liberals are never right about foreign policy. I do think that many would have supported an Iraq war conducted by a Democratic administration. However, they would be reluctant to support any war on grounds of national security.

What I said about the liberals is that they rarely seem to feel guilty about being wrong. In the case of Iraq, they don’t recognize that they are wrong, since they typically hate Bush and what he stands for more than they care about either the Iraqi people or our national security. Perhaps the better formulation, then, would be: The liberals rarely even see that they are wrong.

David, your point is well taken, and you’re certainly correct in saying that Wilsonian ideas have turned "national interest" into dirty words. I’m only suggesting that the reason many liberals don’t want to hear about Saddam’s atrocities is it reminds them how far they (again, many, but not all) have traveled from their humanitarian principles.

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