Archive for April, 2009
30 Apr 2009

Pork Flu

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30 Apr 2009

Cruising for Pirates

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(Viral email humor of the day:)

Subject: Calling all hunters!

NEW…East African Cruise Package

We have put together a special East African Cruise Package that departs from Sawakin (in the Sudan) and docks at Bagamoya (in Tanzania).

The cost is a bit high @ $800 per person double occupancy. What we found encouraging and enlightened is that the cruise is encouraging tourists to bring their own ‘high-powered weapons’ along on the cruise.

If you don’t have weapons, you can rent them right there on the boat. They claim to have a master gunsmith on board and will have reloading parties every afternoon.

The cruise lasts from 4-8 days and nights. All the boat does is sail up and down the coast of Somalia waiting to get hijacked by pirates.

Here are some of the costs and claims associated with the package:
– $800.00 US/per day double occupancy (4 day max billing)

– M-16 full auto rental $25.00/day – ammo at 100 rounds of 5.56 armor piercing ammo at $15.95

– Ak-47 rifle @ No charge – ammo at 100 rounds of 7.62 com block ball ammo at $14.95

– Barrett M-107 .50 cal sniper rifle rental $55.00/day – 25 rounds 50 cal armor piercing at $9.95/each

Crew members can double as spotters for $30.00 per hour (spotting scope included).

Far Out —- they even offer RPG’s at $75 and $200 for 3 standard loads or “MOUNTED MINIGUN AVAILABLE @ $450.00 per 30 seconds of sustained fire”

“Everyone gets use of free complimentary night vision equipment and coffee and snacks on the top deck from 7pm-6am.”

– Meals are not included but are reasonable.
– Most cruises offer a mini-bar.

Group rates and corporate discounts. Partial money back guarantee if not satisfied. “We guarantee that you will experience at least two hijacking attempts by pirates or we will refund half your money back including gun rental charges and any unused ammo ( mini gun charges not included).

How can we guarantee you will experience a hijacking? We operate at 5 knots within 12 miles of the coast of Somalia. If an attempted hijacking does not occur, we will turn the boat around and cruise at 4 knots. We will repeat this for up to 8 days making three passes a day along the entire length of Somalia. At night the boat is fully lit and bottle rockets are shot off at intervals and loud disco music beamed shore side to attract attention. Cabin space is limited so respond quickly.

Reserve your package before May 29 and get 100 rounds of free tracer ammo in the caliber of your choice.”

As if all that isn’t enough to wet your appetite, there were a few testimonials:

“I’ll never hunt big game in Africa again.”
Lars – Hamburg Germany

“Six attacks in 4 days was more than I expected.”
Ned – Salt Lake City, Utah USA

“I haven’t had this much fun since flying choppers in NAM.”
“Chopper’ Dan —-Toledo USA.

“Like ducks in a barrel. This is a must do.—
Zeke – Minnahaw Springs, Kentucky USA

Sign up now…don’t miss this opportunity! ! ! ! !

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Hat tip to Henry Bernatonis.

29 Apr 2009

When Democrats Are in Charge

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These charts from Policy Watch demonstrate “the change” in action.

29 Apr 2009

Establishment Media Regularly Consulting With Obama Administration

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Ever wonder how the same story with exactly the same spin manages to appear in so many columns and lead stories at exactly the same time?

Warner Todd Huston explains that it is not an accident.

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz has let the cat out of the bag in the Post’s April 27 issue about a regularly scheduled secret media dinner attended by some of the top left-wing journalists in the country. But it isn’t just the lefty scribblers that have attended these secret, off-the-record dinners for these gatherings have each featured a guest. Rahm Emanuel, Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have all recently had their chance to schmooze the press and guide them with the spin desired by the White House.

So, not only does Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have secret daily phone calls with which to program the media’s coverage of the White House, now it is revealed that Emanuel and other Obama staffers have been attending secret dinners to help the press “understand” what the White House wants reported? As Kurtz says, it all sounds “rather cozy,” doesn’t it?

The secret dinners for Obama staffers and his boosters in the Old Media have been going on for “more than a year” and are sponsored by David Bradley, the owner of the Atlantic. In attendance have been some of the most well known lefty journalists in Washington. Not surprisingly, not a single name mentioned in the Kurtz report is conservative.

29 Apr 2009

Don’t Let the Door Hit You, Arlen

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Arlen Specter’s party switch is worth celebrating.

An abrasive and arrogant liberal who opportunistically trimmed his political sails in stingy microscopic increments carefully calculated to make himself electable finally has found his natural home in the party made for crooks and liars and statists.

Now Arlen Specter can go and extort special personal concessions from the democrat leadership and betray them on key votes.

Doyle McManus, at the LA Times, thinks the democrats aren’t getting anything terribly worthwhile.

Conservatives dubbed him a RINO: Republican In Name Only. Now he has crossed the aisle to join the Democratic majority, but Specter acknowledged Tuesday that he’ll be something of a DINO. Asked whether he plans to attend meetings of the Democratic caucus, he looked momentarily stricken. “Give me a week to think about it,” he said.

Obama and the Democrats, to win Specter over, offered him an amazingly good deal. The president promised to support him in Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary next year. (Presidents don’t normally intervene in primary contests — at least, not so openly.) Gov. Ed Rendell, the most popular Democrat in Pennsylvania, promised to help too. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada allowed Specter to keep the 28 years of seniority he has amassed as a Republican — meaning he’ll replace some unlucky Democrat of longer standing as chairman of a major committee.

What do the Democrats get in return? A 60th vote — they hope. …

Specter has always been hard to please. He’ll still be the 60th vote on every issue, just as he was on the stimulus bill — the one who always has a special request before he can say yes. Reid will sometimes wonder whether this was such a good deal. …

That approach, after all, is how the Democrats won so many seats in 2006. Under Rahm Emanuel, now Obama’s chief of staff, they welcomed anyone who looked capable of winning an election, beliefs be hanged.

That’s the party Arlen Specter just joined: the Let’s Make a Deal Party. What it loses in coherence, it makes up in voting power.

And Specter was cheerfully open about the cynicism of his move. He changed parties, the senator said, after looking at the polls and realizing that he couldn’t win the Republican primary. (When was the last time you heard a politician admit that he let polls guide his decisions?) He made a brief reference to the increasing conservatism of the GOP. “As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy,” he said. But he also made clear this wasn’t just about philosophy; he would gladly have remained a Republican if he could keep his job that way.

But that’s how American politics, in all its non-ideological, market-driven glory, often works. As another great Republican, the late Sen. Everett Dirksen, said: “Sometimes a man just has to rise above principle.”

28 Apr 2009

Cheney for President

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Ross Douthat argues the position more tentatively than I would.

Watching Dick Cheney defend the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, it’s been hard to escape the impression that both the Republican Party and the country would be better off today if Cheney, rather than John McCain, had been a candidate for president in 2008.

Certainly Cheney himself seems to feel that way. Last week’s Sean Hannity interview, all anti-Obama jabs and roundhouses, was the latest installment in the vice president’s unexpected – and, to Republican politicians, distinctly unwelcome – transformation from election-season wallflower into high-profile spokesman for the conservative opposition. George W. Bush seems happy to be back in civilian life, but Cheney has taken the fight to the Obama White House like a man who wouldn’t have minded campaigning for a third Bush-Cheney term.

Imagine for a moment that he’d had that chance. Imagine that he’d damned the poll numbers, broken his oft-repeated pledge that he had no presidential ambitions of his own, and shouldered his way into the race. Imagine that Republican primary voters, more favorably disposed than most Americans to Cheney and the administration he served, had rewarded him with the nomination.

At the very least, a Cheney-Obama contest would have clarified conservatism’s present political predicament. In the wake of two straight drubbings at the polls, much of the American right has comforted itself with the idea that conservatives lost the country primarily because the Bush-era Republican Party spent too much money on social programs. And John McCain’s defeat has been taken as the vindication of this premise.

We tried running the maverick reformer, the argument goes, and look what it got us. What Americans want is real conservatism, not some crypto-liberal imitation.

“Real conservatism,” in this narrative, means a particular strain of right-wingery: a conservatism of supply-side economics and stress positions, uninterested in social policy and dismissive of libertarian qualms about the national-security state. And Dick Cheney happens to be its diamond-hard distillation. The former vice-president kept his distance from the Bush administration’s attempts at domestic reform, and he had little time for the idealistic, religiously infused side of his boss’s policy agenda. He was for tax cuts at home and pre-emptive warfare overseas; anything else he seemed to disdain as sentimentalism.

This is precisely the sort of conservatism that’s ascendant in today’s much-reduced Republican Party, from the talk radio dials to the party’s grassroots. And a Cheney-for-President campaign would have been an instructive test of its political viability.

I think Douthat is mistaken in supposing that Dick Cheney is unlibertarian or that, because he’s been willing to defend roughing up the three most prominent captured Al Qaeda conspirators to save LA, that Dick Cheney is wedded to a “national security state.”

Even smart and reasonably conservative members of the national commentariat too frequently check their skepticism at the door and buy into the river of BS discharging from the polluted streams of the establishment media. That alleged “national security state” amounted to some unnecessary navel-gazing memos and essentially the continuation of exactly the very same data-mining practices which the federal government began carrying on under Bill Clinton and the same covert scrutiny of overseas correspondence that went on under every other president since the 1940s.

Personally, I suspect that, given a chance, Cheney would prove more conservative about foreign commitments and a lot less Wilsonian than George W. Bush.

It’s true that Dick Cheney, in the manner of all dangerously competent and articulate national conservative figures, has been on the receiving end of the MSM’s scorched earth policy, which has systematically portrayed him as the living equivalent of Darth Vader. In reality, Dick Cheney is a salt-of-the-earth hometown American guy, just an exceptionally bright example of the genre. Real acquaintance would make Americans recognize Dick Cheney as the super-competent downtown businessman, the guy who runs the annual barbecue in his capacity as head of the local Rotary, the avuncular man of affairs you turn to when you need advice on complicated financial matters.

I think Ross Douthat is right in believing that we’d have had the odds overwhelmingly against us running Cheney last Fall, and maybe we would still have lost, but in that case we’d have been better off for fighting the good fight, and we’d have proud of having supported a worthy candidate instead depressed over being associated with a dufus like McCain.

28 Apr 2009

Enough Guns to Outfit the Chinese and Indian Armies

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Americans responded to the election of a democrat-dominated federal government by buying enough guns in 3 months to outfit the entire Chinese and Indian Armies. We also bought 1,529,635,000 rounds of ammunition in the month of December 2008 alone.

You have to give him credit. Obama certainly has turned one sector of the economy around.

Ammoland.com

28 Apr 2009

Obama’s 100th Day Union Square Apotheosis Cancelled

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Michael D’Antuono, The Truth, 2009

The Obamessiah’s 100th Day (4/29) was scheduled to be commemorated by the unveiling of a new “art work” in New York City’s Union Square.

WorldNetDaily:

On his 100th day in office, President Obama will be “crowned” in messianic imagery at New York City’s Union Square.

Artist Michael D’Antuono’s painting “The Truth” – featuring Obama with his arms outstretched and wearing a crown of thorns upon his head – will be unveiled on April 29 at the Square’s South Plaza. …

Like others in the news who have depicted Obama in Christ-like imagery, D’Antuono insists he isn’t claiming the man is Messiah, but only inviting “individual interpretations.”

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Some interpretations, like that of the Anchoress, as it turned out, were seriously negative.

This actually made me kind of sick. I threw up a little in my mouth. Please excuse the mass mailing…I think everyone should see it. To me it’s sick and sycophantic, but it is also so cowardly. Insult the Christians, because you can, and never mind that we’re still in Easter.

This makes me think less of Obama, who should have gotten out in front of this messianic talk, instead of silently encouraging it. It speaks volumes about the artist, but Obama’s silent consent also speaks volumes about him.

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So, what’s a bad, bold artist dedicated to challenging the conventional bourgeois point of view supposed to do when faced with criticism? Why scuttle back to cover like a New York City cockroach when someone turns the light on, of course!

PR Newswire:

Painter Michael D’Antuono has cancelled the planned public unveiling of his latest work “The Truth” at NYC’s Union Square Park on President Obama’s 100th day in office due to overwhelming public outrage. The artist’s decision was based in part on thousands of emails and phone calls; online blogs and other public commentary received in the first 48 hours following its release. …

The artist insists that the work was intended purely as a political piece. “The religious reference was used metaphorically and not to insult anyone’s religious beliefs. If that is the effect that my art has had on anyone, I am truly sorry,” says D’Antuono.

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Sure, the painting was blasphemous. But its combination of lame composition, weak draftsmanship, and puerile ambiguity made it into much more of a negative example of its own genre. It’s this kind of ersatz art that is bound to give blasphemy a bad name.

27 Apr 2009

Clay Allison’s Epitaph

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27 Apr 2009

DC Ticketing People for Parking in Their Own Driveways

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The District is looking for new sources of revenue these days. Sweetness & Light tells us that the DC DPW is offering to lease homeowners back the “public space” in question.

27 Apr 2009

The Fraud Underlying University Education

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Mark C. Taylor, chairman of the Department of Religion at Columbia, hits the nail on the head describing the contradictions lying at the heart of university teaching today.

Graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

Widespread hiring freezes and layoffs have brought these problems into sharp relief now. But our graduate system has been in crisis for decades, and the seeds of this crisis go as far back as the formation of modern universities. Kant, in his 1798 work “The Conflict of the Faculties,” wrote that universities should “handle the entire content of learning by mass production, so to speak, by a division of labor, so that for every branch of the sciences there would be a public teacher or professor appointed as its trustee.”

Unfortunately this mass-production university model has led to separation where there ought to be collaboration and to ever-increasing specialization. In my own religion department, for example, we have 10 faculty members, working in eight subfields, with little overlap. And as departments fragment, research and publication become more and more about less and less. Each academic becomes the trustee not of a branch of the sciences, but of limited knowledge that all too often is irrelevant for genuinely important problems. A colleague recently boasted to me that his best student was doing his dissertation on how the medieval theologian Duns Scotus used citations.

The emphasis on narrow scholarship also encourages an educational system that has become a process of cloning. Faculty members cultivate those students whose futures they envision as identical to their own pasts, even though their tenures will stand in the way of these students having futures as full professors.

The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course — with no benefits — than it is to hire full-time professors.

In other words, young people enroll in graduate programs, work hard for subsistence pay and assume huge debt burdens, all because of the illusory promise of faculty appointments. But their economical presence, coupled with the intransigence of tenure, ensures that there will always be too many candidates for too few openings.

His proposed solutions, I’m afraid, are, on the other hand, mostly utterly and completely daft. There is no possibility that interdisciplary relevance can be achieved by abolishing footnotes and departments and assembling groups of diverse scholars to tackle topics like “Mind, Body, Law, Information, Networks, Language, Space, Time, Media, Money, Life and Water.” It would be kind of fun though to take a few Structuralists, a Straussian Poli Sci professor, and a few Cultural Studies specialists, hand them a bucket and tell them to go study Water.

27 Apr 2009

Christo’s Revenge

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Pat and Bill Buckley, 1981

About 30 years ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. published a monumentally insensitive obituary in which his own subjectivity and personality were allowed to usurp the space traditionally reserved for compliments toward and expressions of personal regard for the recently departed. A number of friends of the deceased, including present company, were absolutely infuriated, and some of us never really looked upon WFB in exactly the same way again afterwards.

A tradition of inappropriately self-indulgent behavior in the face of death must be part of the Buckley family culture, because here is Chris Buckley in this week’s Sunday Times Magazine cheerfully quoting Oscar Wilde (“Jack: I have lost both my parents. Lady Bracknell: To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”) as an epigraph to a feature on the deaths of his parents, before moving right along to share, with awe-inspiring complacency, the sorts of private details and opinions on family relationships and deathbed scenes which the overwhelming majority of us do not share.

Soon after, a doctor came in to remove the respirator. It was quiet and peaceful in the room, just pings and blips from the monitor. I stroked her hair and said, the words coming out of nowhere, surprising me, “I forgive you.”

It sounded, even at the time, like a terribly presumptuous statement.

Indeed, it did.

Professional writers, I tend to think, particularly those of Ivy League background, acquire too commonly an addiction to attention. They sometimes just don’t know when to stop.

3:59 audio slideshow

26 Apr 2009

New Worst Appointment

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He’s a real mother, alright

Get ready, America, for a return to the 1970s era of federally-mandated nationwide 55 mph speed limits, emission-strangled automobile engines, and speedometers topping out at 85.

Barack Obama has appointed America’s Safety-Nazi-in-Chief Charles A. Hurley, current head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to preside over the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Well, you’re living in the Nanny State now, boys and girls. Hurley is a long time advocate of drastically more extensive federal supervision of your naughty driving.

He is on the record as supporting a .04% Blood Alcohol Content limit, meaning you are guilty of DUI if you sip one glass of Chardonnay at dinner, and he favors vastly expanded pullover alcohol checks to enforce it, along with breathalyzer-ignition interlocks.

Expect to see the federally mandatory 55 mph speed limit again, expanded liability opportunities for trial lawyers, and a nationwide regime of stoplight and speed check cameras everywhere.

Repeat after me: “I love Big Brother!”

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Hat tip to Walter Olson.

25 Apr 2009

Begala is Wrong

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Paul Begala, at Huffington Post, thinks he’s very clever in quoting the not-clever-at-all John McCain who is also completely wrong.

In a CNN debate with Ari Fleischer, I said the United States executed Japanese war criminals for waterboarding. My point was that it is disingenuous for Bush Republicans to argue that waterboarding is not torture and thus illegal. It’s kind of awkward to argue that waterboarding is not a crime when you hanged someone for doing it to our troops. My precise words were: “Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime we are now committing ourselves.” …

I was referencing the statement of a different member of the Senate: John McCain. On November 29, 2007, Sen. McCain, while campaigning in St. Petersburg, Florida, said, “Following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding.”

Sen. McCain was right and the National Review Online is wrong. Politifact, the St. Petersburg Times’ truth-testing project (which this week was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), scrutinized Sen. McCain’s statement and found it to be true. Here’s the money quote from Politifact:

    “McCain is referencing the Tokyo Trials, officially known as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning.” Politifact went on to report, “A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”

Actually, murders, massacres, and death marches head the International Military Tribunal for the Far East’s list of war crimes, and the use of water simply happens to the first item addressed in a subsequent heading titled “Torture and Other Inhumane Treatment.” Since burning, flogging, strappado, and pulling out finger and toe nails are mentioned after the “water cure,” it is far from obvious that the authors of the Tribunal’s list of war crimes were intending to rank it as more inhumane than the others.

Politifact’s anonymous authorities (drawn from presumably the staffs of the St. Petersburg Times and the Congressional Quarterly which created Politifact as a joint venture) are betraying their own liberal journalist prejudices and manipulating the available data to suit their own preferences.

They, and Paul Begala and John McCain, are most particularly and obviously in error in equating the Japanese “water cure” torture with US water-boarding.

In the “water cure,” according to the Tribunal’s war crimes description, [t]he victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness. Pressure was then applied, sometimes by jumping upon his abdomen to force the water out. The usual practice was to revive the victim and successively repeat the process.

The Tribunal does not mention it, but historically the “water cure” torture technique was often performed with sufficient brutality that internal organs would be ruptured with fatal results, or merely performed excessively to the point where the victim’s body’s electrolyte balance was fatally compromised, producing death by “water intoxication.”

In the “water-cure,” the victim’s mouth is forced open, and enormous quantities of water are poured down his throat. If he fails to swallow any of the rapidly-poured water, it goes into his lungs and he really does experience drowning.

In the US-government-authorized water-boarding of three mass murderers, a cloth or cellophane barrier was placed over the criminal’s face and water poured on it for intervals of 10 to 40 seconds. Water was specifically prevented from entering the subject’s respiratory system.

Elaborate and carefully calculated protocols had been laid down, in precisely the opposite manner of the Japanese case, 1) confining the use of such comparatively harsh interrogation techniques to a tiny number of extremely guilty terrorists likely to possess extremely vital information on major threats to the lives of many thousands of innocent American civilians, and 2) assuring that no real lasting physical or mental harm was ever actually inflicted on the three major terrorist prisoners.

Those are extremely significant differences, Mr. Begala.

Beyond that, Begala, Politifact, and even Senator McCain overlook another very important consideration: the laws and customs of war.

We punished the defeated Japanese after WWII, and US troops commonly punished Japanese encountered in the field by offering no quarter, for Japanese disregard of the civilized European world’s military customs of avoiding the practice of perfidy (i.e. not falsely surrendering and then opening fire, not wearing the wrong uniform, and so on) and according prisoners of war honorable status and treating them humanely.

We do not owe Al Qaeda terrorists prisoner of war status. We do not, in fact, owe them, by the conventional laws and customs of war, anything beyond summary execution following drumhead courts martial at the pleasure of the officer in immediate authority. United States military forces, in fact, would by traditional standards not only possess every right to extract forcibly by any measures necessary any and all information necessary to preserve innocent life, they would have a grave obligation to do so.

It is the Al Qaeda terrorists who, like the Japanese in WWII, reject the civilized world’s customs of limiting behavior in war. And, as we punished the Japanese during and after WWII for failing to adopt our customs, we ought to be punishing Al Qaeda terrorists the same way for the same reasons. That is how the laws and customs of war are enforced.

Terrorist prisoners, in their capacity as hostis humani generis, by the conventional laws and customs of war for thousands of years, are entitled to nothing whatsoever in the form of rights, judicial proceeding, or sympathy. They deserve absolutely nothing other than execution by some harsh method particularly expressive of contumely like hanging.

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