Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Senator Durbin’s want of wit

Senator Durbin "Sen. Dick Durbin refused to apologize Wednesday for comments he made on the Senate floor comparing the actions of American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a "mad regime" like Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot’s in Cambodia." There are times when I restrain myself. This is one of those times. I think a United States Senator has a perfect right to make all kinds of arguments about Gitmo, and how to handle prisoners of war. He can even become a bit polemical and loose in his reasoning while doing so, pretending, for example, that closing down Gitmo will solve those issues he thinks the administration is ignoring. Fine, but to say that the behavior (and by indirection even the policy) of Americans to that of Nazis and Soviet gulags and such, is beyond the pale. Anger and thinking don’t go well together so I have nothing to say. But Scott at Powerline has a few words on this subject.

Discussions - 54 Comments

I say three cheers for Dicky Durby! Finally, an honest high ranking liberal politician. How utterly refreshing.

"Dicky Durby"!!! Oh, now that’s a great one, Marc! Where do you come up with this stuff??!!? Incredible.

I wonder if Durbin is familiar with Vidkun Quisling and Pierre Laval. For that matter is Marc familiar as well?

Durbin is beyond reprehensible.

If Dicky Durby is re-elected will that make the entire state of Illinois complicit in his treason?

Too bad we won’t find out until 2008, eh?

Of course not. Illinois will not be complicit in treason if "Derby" is re-elected. It wpuld only prove that Illinois may be occupied by a vast number of mindless myrmidons and "Wellsian Eloi" who care of no one but themselves

I have a hunch... that at the end of this great Durby debate, the American people themselves will side with the Democrats, and demand that Gitmo be closed.

At that point you can book it: impeachment hearings will commence on the charge that Bush is guilty of violating the Geneva Conventions. Eventually, the Supreme Court will rule that Bush be turned over to the World Court for trial.

And historians will later point to Dicky Durby’s FBI email charges as the turning point.

Marc that is interesting. Want to place a wager on any of that coming to pass? And the 59% today that say Gitmo stays open to the 22% ( including you apparently) that want to close it are going to be changed by what event?

Have you ever even read the Geneva Conventions? Yessh.

Um...Mr. Maxwell, I think Mr. Lamb is probably in favor of Gitmo staying OPEN. He’s used some irony and sarcasm in his comments, but it shouldn’t be that hard to tell that he’s on your side, the right.
Read his stuff over again and think about it.

To be fair, let’s at least see what Durbin actually said:

"When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Keep in mind that he is taking this straight from an FBI report. Is this FBI agent now a treasonous traitor in your eyes? I know, I know...we’re not operating gas chambers or bulldozing them into open graves, so therefore we’re in good shape, right? I thought the fact that Saddam was torturing his own people was part of the reason we went over to Iraq. I think the right is headed down a bad path with this defense of torture (done by U.S. personnel) at all costs. I’m not so sure it’s Durbin who’s "beyond the pale" here.

I think our visitor from Pennsylvania makes a great case for Dyrby’s ultimate transformation from traitor to hero.

We conservatives need to face the facts, here. And the simple fact "is is" that to the party of trial lawyers the facts simply don’t matter, because the "seriousness of the charge" is all that matters. They well know, of course, you can indict a ham sandwich if desired.

Book it, folks, I can see Senator John McCain, ala Senator Barry Goldwater in 1974, traveling to the White House with a blunt message: "Mr. President, you have to resign."

I remember as a kid talking to some WWII veterans about their experiences, both in Europe and the Pacific. Raised on Jeff Chandler (and other heroic) war movies, I was shocked to find out just how brutal our own soldiers were to the enemy. Torture in the field, execution in the field, mental games with prisoners...even in that righteous war we engaged in things that weren’t strickly legal. The difference today is that we have an adversarial culture that wants to play "gotcha" with our military.

I think it’s time to get real. Many of these prisoners have info we desperately need. If they have to shiver a bit and listen to some Hispanic tart over the PA system, OK. I think most Americans are "down" with that. Every last g.......d one of them should be grateful we don’t treat them the way they treat Westerners (i.e., would you prefer a knife or a sword, infidel?).

I really don’t understand your outrage, Peter. Is the behavior documented in the FBI report unamerican? It certainly does not comport with my understanding of what American standards of decency - or, to use the president’s words, "humane treatment" - entail.

You could say that the Nazis were worse. No one disputes that, and it’s plain for all to see that Durbin’s point lay elsewhere.

Personally, I’m not too concerned with offending that segment of the population - or the military - that thinks that the treatment described in the FBI report represents behavior that Americans can be proud of.

It seems to me that the lefty posters here are trying to shift the argument from right-wing outrage over comparing Gitmo to gulags/death camps to right-wing defense of all the tactics at Gitmo. The latter issue is more debatable, although I don’t happen to think we’ve done anything systematically wrong there. But the former comparison is just downright wacko, and I don’t think Dicky D deserves a pass just because he used some obfuscatory language in making his comparison. First, anyone in his right mind knows that any reference to Soviet gulags and Nazi death camps when discussing US activities is throwing down the gauntlet. He did it for shock value and that’s just what he got; he can’t now stand back and throw up his hands saying, "Good golly of course I never meant to compare our dear soldiers to the Gestapo." And second, a logical analysis of what he said makes it clear that he was actually making that comparison. He’s saying that a reader of this account, not knowing it was about Americans at Gitmo, would "most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners." So he’s saying that the activities of American soldiers at Gitmo are like those of Nazis, "Soviets in their gulags," and Pol Pot. Seems pretty clear to me.

Right on, Dain!! You tell ’em!! Anyone who was over there MUST HAVE BEEN A TERRORIST in the making!! To hell with judges, transparuncy, due prosess and all that other crap - let those grunts be judge, jury and execusioner and we’ll have justice EVERY TIME!! If our boys did it in WWII, then nobody should question it!!
God bless ’em! (And I know what ya mean about those Hispanic singer girls! haha!)

The caption beneath the 1943 Life magazine photograph read:


We all know, from our history books, the telling of the WWII story. The great battle between the forces of good and evil, the Allied and Axis Powers. But to the deserning eye, the really odd thing about that Life magazine photograph, was that it shows Churchill and FDR from the rear, sitting in front of the assembled cast of UPI/AP et al "correspondents" at the Casablanca press conference, and every reporter is dressed in military uniform! Not one single reporter is dressed in civilian clothes.

This is a scene, typical of that day, I don’t think any of us can quite imagine happening today.

But, in 1943, the entire globe was held in the balance between "good and evil." As the conflict grew to a climax, no quarter was given, none was asked. They simply didn’t have the luxury of asking the sort of Gitmo questions we do today. That was something later generations would opine and debate about.

Perhaps we shall see, in my lifetime, another time when such "question everything" luxury -- which freedom and liberty so graciously affords in an open society -- will be given short thrift. Suffice for today, this time ain’t it. And I am not looking forward, bin Laden/Dicky Durby or no, to a time when we cannot afford such luxuries anymore when we

Visitor, the FBI Agent is not treasonous because he was just reporting what he saw (assuming he’s telling the truth). It’s Durbin who makes the giant crazy leap to saying that this account means US soldiers at Gitmo are reminiscent of regimes responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of innocents. And Democrats wonder why so many people think they’re anti-American...

Senator Durbin should be censured for his comments.

I have already emailed several Senators requesting that they introduce such a motion. Of course, the odds of that bunch of corrupt pantywaists actually doing anything about treasonous remarks from a member of their own ’exclusive club’ are at least a million to one against.

The American people deserve the government they have. The most expensive bunch of idiots in the history of the world.

Mr. Lamb - your good comments seem to got cut off. Please finish!

Get ’em, Retired Naval Officer! No one should ever say anything bad about Our Boys, ever! Even if they do naughty stuff, that’s okay because they’re Our Boys and Our Boys have to blow off some steam, right? And even though Durbin just read a quote from an FBI agent (who was just doing his job; he probably didn’t WANT to report that yucky stuff, right?), he should be put in jail! No trial, no questions asked, just throw him in there and get back to repairing the damage done by Durbin’s treason!

No one should ever question Bush, the military, or anyone else involved in the Good Fight! And if they do, prison for them!

Oh, and I love "pantywaists." You been reading Charlie Daniels?’re a sniper, not a commenter. We are at war, and these folks never signed any Geneva convention. I’m not approving of "field justice," but my larger point was that Gitmo is small potatoes by historical and even contemporary standards.

Be honest, Mack...are you really concerned about these Islamofascist prisoners, or is your real goal to eviscerate Bush, Rumsfeld, and the conservative movement? If it’s the latter (and we all know it is), then you’re a traitor because you’ve sided with the enemy to score domestic political points. Shame on you.

I’ve been using the term ’pantywaist’ since before you were born. I am also a fan of Charlie Daniels, however.

You will note I’m not proposing a drastic response from the Senate. Censure would only be embarrassing, not fatal.

If al-Jazzera thinks the Senator’s remarks are so important they feature them extensively, he must have said something wrong.

"weren’t strickly legal" ??

(Comment #11)

I don’t even know where to begin with Mr. Sandpaper...just atrocious!

Aw, teach...I just get excited. All that book-larnin’ just flies right outta my head. (*$^%#% does anyone ever learn to spell?

Just an aside, but isn’t there an eerie resemblence between Dicky Durbin and the guy who had PeeWee Herman’s bike stolen in "PeeWee’s Big Adventure"?

In response to Professor Schramm’s unwillingness to comment on Durbin’s infamy -- "Anger and thinking don’t go well together, so I have nothing to say": There are times when one cannot think coherently WITHOUT anger. Outrages like this MUST be met with anger, or our intellectual processes are out of touch with reality, and thus inadequate.

Durbin should be EXPELLED from the Senate. Only an angry person would write this, but then, only an angry person would truly understand the situation and what it calls for.

Peter’s anger results from a much more personal affront to Durby’s idiocy than most Americans can even begin to comprehend. The Schramm family, having first escaped The great depression, war and Nazi persecution in Hungary, lived under Soviet rule for ten years after. They escaped, virtually in the dead of night, in 1956.

You can read Peter’s story here, and I would especially encourage Dicky Durby and his defenders to please do so.

I find it generally useless any time a politician talks about history. Remember, when we started into Iraq, it was a "quagmire" and another "Vietnam." Now, the President is Hitler/Pol Pot/Stalin, the almighty ubermench.

Well, there are exceptions. I remember thinking that John Edwards would make VP Cheney look terrible in the debates. But it was Mr. Cheney’s articulation of history that jumped out at me. When he spoke about the revolutionary spirit in Latin America, it was an interesting analogy. Perhaps incorrect (time will tell), but at least thoughtful and worth pondering.

The loyalists for the party and the president that allegedly represents interpreting the world and actions in absolutes - black & white, good & evil, right & wrong - are trying to weasel their way out of saying "what our troops are doing to prisoners at Guantanamo is wrong." If anything, Durbin’s comments were counterproductive primarily because now the right can once again strike a pose as shocked, offended, and victimized, and paint our troops and all of the leaders connected to Gitmo (and the other camps) as "good" merely because the mistreatment and/or torture of prisoners at Gitmo is "not as bad" as that committed by Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. It strikes me as beyond simple-minded to look at prison camps as either Holocaust-style or, if less horrific, a resort in the Bahamas. THESE THINGS CAN BE PLACED ON A SPECTRUM. If we simply held people in small rooms with toilets, gave them speedy, open trials to determine their guilt or innocence, provided them with their preferred holy texts sans urine, gave them some basic prison clothing, gave them adequate food & water, and kept the violent hands off of them, Gitmo would be pretty far over on the well-run, respectable, above-board, exemplary model side of the spectrum. But then, think of the FBI report that Durbin read from - people chained in fetal positions and pulling out their hair, lying in their own crap and pee. Recall the "best case scenario" of a soldier’s pee accidentally going through a vent - oops! - right onto a Koran. Recall the pictures of the kennel-like cages at Camp X-Ray (or whatever the military name is...). Then, of course, the pictures from Abu Ghraib. Of course, that’s not Gitmo, but still, all part of the war on terror, and if you placed all of this on a spectrum of horrors, I certainly wouldn’t place it so close to the exemplary end of things, a model prison run by a nation that is demonstrably concerned with human rights, demonstrably opposed to torture (remember how appalled we were by Saddam’s torture crimes?). Ultimately, the way to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, and the respect of any other country that we hope to assist in stopping terrorism, is to behave as a beacon of civilization that is the clear-cut opposite, the moral antithesis, of terrorist culture. I think Durbin was simply pointing out that we are closer to the negative end of the spectrum.

Yes, we all know about the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. Mass executions, people digging their own gravepits, rape camps, gasroom "shower" facilities, ovens, piles of corpses beyond comprehension - genocide. They shouldn’t be used as some kind of buffer, to give license to representatives of proudly civilized societies to engage in despicable mistreatment and, yes, torture of prisoners on a smaller scale. The mentality of well, as long as there are no rape CAMPS, and just a couple dozen rapes scattered around, as long as there are no gas chambers and ovens, only "a few bad apples" stacking up naked people and sexually assaulting them, taking pics, putting deadly dogs within an inch of prisoners’ faces, putting black hoods over their heads and electrical clamps on their fingertips, just threatening to zap them, then we can STILL claim to represent the "good." To use a phrase commonly seen here, GET REAL. As it stands, we have clearly slipped off of the moral high road. No, we’re not on the road to genocide, but gosh, that’s not saying much, is it? No, Bush is not Hitler and Gitmo isn’t Auschwitz, but the camps we’re running now are disturbingly misplaced on the spectrum, displaying far too many American actions hardly admirable.

Well, Steve, you are purity itself I guess. Understand this...the moral highground is SECONDARY to winning the war. This was understood in every war we’ve actually one. PC pieties are good for soothing the narcissistic Leftist soul, but they are lousy for actually winning a war. And, in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter how we conduct ourselves...Leftists like you aren’t ever going to be satisfied by our actions. The bar or our conduct will always rise, while our enemies go unjudged and unblamed. You are fooling anyone here.

Let me repeat that, with clarity this time.

Well, Steve, you are purity itself I guess. Understand this...the moral highground is SECONDARY to winning the war. This was understood in every war we’ve actually WON. PC pieties are good for soothing the narcissistic Leftist soul, but they are lousy for actually winning a war. And, in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter how we conduct ourselves...Leftists like you aren’t ever going to be satisfied by our actions. The bar FOR our conduct will always rise, while our enemies go unjudged and unblamed. You AREN’T fooling anyone here.

Oh Dain, really, once was enough. We’re very impressed that you mastered spell-check AFTER you entered your comments the first time, but the comments themselves are weak, and boring.

Marc Lamb - you wrote "Peter’s anger results from a much more personal affront to Durby’s idiocy than most Americans can even begin to comprehend."

How exactly does one have a "personal affront to idiocy"?? I presume you meant "from" rather than "to." It’s an important difference in meaning, with use of the latter being nearly meaningless.

As for your point contained in what sounded like a promotional blurb for a TV movie, I don’t buy the implication that whatever hardships he experienced then make him a wholly reliable or accurate arbiter of truth and justice regarding American actions and policies now. Believe it or not, evil might come in wrappings OTHER than the Stalinist and Nazi varieties.

No, JM, you’re the one who’s weak and boring. You’re the kind of person who objects to our bombing of Hiroshima, and probably every other expeditious thing this nation has had to do to survive. You are concerned about our "uprightness" but you have no concern about how imposing your morality might impair our ability to win. In short, your care more about our image than our safety. Typical narcissistic garbage from the spoiled-brat Left.

Ok, lastly, since this all started because of Durbin’s comments, and Dain has since brushed aside the importance of the Geneva conventions, let’s consider yet ANOTHER citation from Durbin in his floor speech, this of (no doubt treasonous) former Vietnam POW Pete Peterson:

"From my 6 1/2 years of captivity in Vietnam, I know what life in a foreign prison is like. To a large degree, I credit the Geneva Conventions for my survival . . . This is one reason the United States has led the world in upholding treaties governing the status and care of enemy prisoners: because these standards also protect us . . . We need absolute clarity that America will continue to set the gold standard in the treatment of prisoners in wartime."

Huh, how ’bout that? "ABSOLUTE CLARITY"!!!

If you think that handling these prisoners with kid glovers will encourage the Islamofascists to respect the Geneva convention then you are even dumber than I think you are (is that possible?). And, while you dismiss the translation of Professor Schramm’s experiences into wisdom, you seem to have no problem making that connect with Mr. Peterson’s experiences. Man, you’re just like John Kerry...self-contradictory AND arrogant!

As far as I can tell from reading that story, it doesn’t sound like anyone put Peter in prison (we’ve had, or still have, juveniles in Gitmo). They put his father in prison for a year on silly charges, something that the guys held in Gitmo for a coupla years and then released - having been charged with nothing - can probably relate to.

Wow, Dain, your name-calling is powerful stuff!

Call ’em like I see ’em, bucko. The difference is that I always have sound arguments and the names I call people have been earned because they evade my arguments (e.g., the fact that you don’t address the complete stupidity of assuming that Islamofascists will emulate our "gold standard" of POW treatment). Man, that’s asinine.

Why didn’t this former Altar Boy compare Gitmo to the worst torture chambers of all time, maintained by Durbin’s own and Hitler’s religion?

Hey J monty have you read the Geneva Convention that you have now referred to twice? Seems as if you are sure we are totally violating it. But the enemy here refused to wear uniforms as one of the provisions of the Convention requires. There are a bunch of other provisions such that I doubt the Convention is even applicable here but the Admin has chosen to treat the captured on the battlefield as enemy combatants as defined in the Convention. We are most certainly in compliance with the Geneva convention but then I doubt that you will give my response any more thought than you gave your own.

Well, hot dog, this here thread has just gone all-out crazy!! Nice job socking it to the traitors, boys!

Mr. Lamb, sir, I’m not sure what you mean that I am "a lover of luxurious living." I live in a camper and read No Left Turns at the local library - not a bad place, but no Limbaugh Letter! - if that’s what you call luxury. I drive a pickup, just like President Bush does. Are you a Ford or Chevy man?

I’m sure that if given the choice, Mr. Lamb, Americans will listen to you, and not crazy Mrs. (haha!) Durby! (Hold on now - is her (haha!) name Durby or DurbIN? You’re gettin me mixed up!)

And the more I think about this the more angry I get. Good Mr. Frisk has that one right! Let’s send Mrs. Durby (haha) to Gitmo and give him a taste of what he’s compalining about!

I’m over here at my buddy’s in Ross Township. He’s a good guy and let me go on his computer web. I showed him No left Turns and he was impressed! Keep up the good work all!

Mack, you are what the former Clinton administration used to refer to as "trailer trash" (as in "drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park and..."), but I will respond to you respectfully.

Free speech and "liberty of conscience," as James Madison like to think of it, is a much more precious "luxury" than even a Trump livingspace. Please read my former comment (#15) and you’ll understand what I mean.

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, including "love," use your Master Card. :)

"Mack, you are what the former Clinton administration used to refer to as "trailer trash" (as in "drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park and..."), but I will respond to you respectfully."

Marc, I don’t think this qualifies as responding respectfully - not at all. As for the term "trailer trash" being used by "the former Clinton administration," what does that mean exactly? Did everyone or most people in his administration use the phrase? If so, some citations and/or web links, please. Just to get a sense of scale here, was it as commonly and widely used as "Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction" has been used by the current Bush administration??

Wow Marc, so EVEN "white trash" deserve your respect? You seem like a wonderful person.


Here’s a pretty good verification of how the Clinton’s view those who live in trailers.

Reading my post closely, one might notice how keenly I drew the link between liberals, money, free speech and luxurious living. Liberals pretentious claim to be looking out for the "little guy" belies the fact that if the little guy questions anything about liberals he/she will be trashed just as surely as a any perceived racist, sexist homophobe would be. In otherwords, the luxury of "free speech" belongs to them and only those that agree with them.

Thank you for you request, Kim.

I can tell you that Batman is AWESOME!!!! I mean, really, really great. You should all see it! Love, Camden.

Oh, I see, Marc. So, it was wrong for the Clinton administration to attack people as "trailer trash" (I agree, that was wrong), but it’s ok for you to call Mack that?? You somehow mean that phrase in a respectful way, I suppose?? Please...

You actually think it’s disrepectful for the Clintons to attack people who live in trailers like that, too, Kim? Surely you realize that it works very well for them and their party. Surely Trent Lott would not be permitted to say such things about trailer folk. He’d have to resign or something like that.

Marc- respond to Kim’s question. How is it respectful/appropriate for you to call someone trailer trash? Anyway, it sounds like Mr. Sandpaper is a rather conservative fellow, so why would you insult the guy?

And another minor detail: Clinton is hardly a liberal, so please don’t use his administration’s actions as examples of liberal behavior.

The "co-president" who seriously attempted to nationalize the U.S. health care industry, failed, and gave us the 1996 Welfare Reform Act instead is an ultra-liberal who sought to hold on to Power by being a cynical opportunist.

Otherwise, I sincerely apologize if anyone reading my post was offended by my use of Clintonian language. However, in light of Clintons continued quest for Power, I fully intend to speak out on their abusive and insulting methods toward attainment of said Power.

Marc Lamb - This post was about Sen. Durbin’s comments regarding Gitmo, a base containing prison camps Delta and X-Ray, both of which were opened by the Bush administration for their current purpose. Bill Clinton hasn’t been president since 2001, and I fail to see how he has ANYTHING to do with the issue of Durbin’s comments. Your insult towards Mack can’t be explained away by irrelevant critiques of the Clinton administration. Please try to stay REMOTELY on topic.

And that goes for you, too, Camden - keep on topic!

There is no rule (that I’ve seen, anyway) that states that I am not allowed to discuss Batman. I have great enthusiasm for this exciting new movie and wish to share that with others. Please see Batman as soon as you can! Love, Camden

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