Tag Archives: WTF arguments


In the The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defines chutzpah as

. . . that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan”.

Here is a nearly perfect example. John Thune, US Senator from South Dakota, tweets:

Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.

Six million people have health care subsidies through Obamacare, they risk losing it because Republicans have (1) never supported it and didn’t vote for it; (2) constantly voted to repeal it; (3) waged lawsuits, like the present one, aimed at undermining its legal basis. Now, the argument goes, if he gets his wish and it goes away, it is the President’s fault.

Tortured logic

We’ve been out of commission for a while with our day jobs.  Now that vacation is almost here, let’s try to get back in the swing of things.

First, an assignment: let’s everyone think about torture–namely, the tortured arguments for it.  My favorite is the one that it’s not torture if we practice it on our own personnel.  So, for instance, if we demonstrate water torture boarding to someone, as an example of torture, it’s ipso fatso not torture, because we did it.  For, after all, anything we do cannot be torture, duh.

Here it is:

KRAUTHAMMER: You know, I’m in the midst of writing a column for this week, which is exactly on that point. Some people on the right have faulted me because in that column that you cite I conceded that waterboarding is torture. Actually, I personally don’t think it is cause it’s an absurdity to have to say the United States of America has tortured over 10,000 of its own soldiers because its, you know, it’s had them waterboarded as a part of their training. That’s an absurd sentence. So, I personally don’t think it is but I was willing to concede it in the column without argument exactly as you say to get away from the semantic argument, which is a waste of time and to simply say call it whatever you want. We know what it is. We know what actually happened. Should it have been done and did it work? Those are the only important questions.

I reread this a bunch of times (then and again now), thinking I had to have misinterpreted Krauthammer.  I don’t think I have.  Water torture isn’t torture because we use it on our own soldiers to demonstrate torture.

In case one thinks that this is a one-off argument uttered in haste, here’s former CIA chief Michael Hayden yesterday:

“It prompts the anti-drowning reflex in an individual. I’m sure it’s horrible, but it was also horrible for tens of thousands of American airmen whom we used it against for their training.”

So, assignment time, what’s your favorite WTF argument for torture?  There should be some kind of chart–oh, there is!

Here’s the torture report for reference.