Tag Archives: Japan

Dick Cheney and torture

22 May

Ah good ol’ Dick. I’d been thinking about writing this post for some time now, but after yesterday’s “dueling speeches” by the president and former VP I can no longer resist.

“Enhanced interrogation” is one of the most bullshit phrases I’ve ever heard. I mean, it’s so blatantly a new-speak euphemism it’s beyond me how some people can swallow it.

I find it very interesting that the one fall back position Bush republicans seem to have is “we kept the country safe! After 9/11 there were no successful attacks!!!” Yeah, well what about 9/11? Oh that doesn’t count? Let me guess, it was all somehow Clinton’s fault? What about all the time Bush spent playing golf and not reading the intelligence briefings before 9/11? The attacks did happen under republican watch.

Torture is illegal and wrong no matter what the Bush law team tries to come up with, no matter what they decided to name it. We executed Japanese war criminals after WWII for waterboarding. The really interesting thing that came out just recently is the story of how Alberto Gonzales was okaying torture months before the “torture memos” came out. He was doing this at a time when he was not attorney general, just Bush’s lawyer!

Check out this segment about it on the Rachel Maddow show.

Ali Soufan, the guy who first found uncovered the link between the 9/11 attacks and Al Qaeda was interrogating Zubaida and actually getting somewhere when he was pushed aside by a contractor, James Mitchell, working for the CIA. Mitchell, who had absolutely zero interrogation experience or training, developed a torture program that Gonzales signed off on.

Even if you accept the bullshit idea that just because a team of lawyers writes a magic piece of paper saying torture is ok, and that the US doesn’t need to abide by the Geneva conventions, the torture was going on before those lawyers wrote up that magical piece of paper.

I think a lot of republicans are very scared people. Dick Cheney, and the republican leaders know this and exploit it. I think he brought up 9/11 in his speech 24 times. He even opened by recounting the terror of that day. Am I scared? No. Yes there are people out there who want to kill us, but if we live in fear of them, they win. What Dick Cheney advocates is nothing short of destroying all the values we stand for in a misguided attempt to make us safer.

If we compromise on our values, then what do we have left? What have we then become? The terrorists will have succeeded in destroying America. Do I dispute that the people like Zubaida are bad people? No, but republicans like Cheney are so swept up in a blind, fear fueled rage that they think they are justified in stooping this low. They are so sure of their own righteousness that they can’t fathom anything they do as wrong. They see themselves as patriotic heroes, willing to do the dirty work to protect their country.

For this reason I don’t call them evil, but they are sorely mistaken. Their attempts at making us safer only give the terrorists a rallying point. It tarnishes our image in the world as “the good guys”. In a war of idea, this is crucial. The only way we can try to regain some of our lost image is to prosecute those responsible just like we prosecuted the Japanese war criminals.

Yeah, it may be hard to swallow, but if we don’t, then we have absolutely no right to claim that we are a nation of laws. By not prosecuting we will be saying that our laws don’t mean anything as long as you are sure enough of you’re own righteousness, and have a group of lawyers write up a magical piece of paper. What kind of foundation is that for justice?

No, anime swordsmanship stuff is bull….

10 Jan

After watching some anime stuff with my friends, I just couldn’t stand listening to all the Japanese swordsmanship bull that gets spewed….Allow me to let of some medieval European steam…All this “well I use (insert obscure important sounding fighting style here)!” and “This sword has special powers!” crap is driving me nuts. People are absolutely crazy for samurai stuff. This brings up the age old geek debate “Which is better? A knight or a Samurai?” Let me preface this by saying that this debate is fundamentally absurd; a knight of the 15th century would never run into a Samurai of the 14th. And then there is the fact that in hand to hand combat, it’s not the weapons or the armor, it’s the skill of the fighter.

That noted, assume in some nonexistent plane a knight at the peak of medieval weapon and armor development (right before gunpowder made them obsolete) meet at samurai at their peak, and that they were both equally good fighters. Contrary to what many of my Japanese obsessed friends think, the knight would totally kick the Samurai’s ass.

Look at the equipment. The knight, in full plate armor, would be covered head to toe in steel, with chainmaile covering any gaps, and then an arming doublet of some kind under it. The samurai would have on his bamboo and cloth armor with little bits of metal here and there. Bamboo and cloth…. Many people who have no experience with plate armor try to make the claim “well, the knight is slower and can’t move as well as the samurai.” Bullshit. You can move very well in full plate. I KNOW. And yes, if you get pushed over you can hop right back up. (Well, maybe not some of my older living history friends ~_^)

As for the swords, the longsword is far superior to the katana. The knight has a better striking range than the samurai, and the big advantage of TWO edges to the sword. The katana only has one edge. With the two edges, the knight has a whole range of cuts he can preform that the samurai cannot. After a swing in one direction, to cut back the same way, the samurai must rotate his sword around and swing again, the knight can just cut straight back, no rotating required.

The katana also doesn’t have a substantial guard (the cross piece where the blade meets the hilt). There is almost nothing to keep the knight’s sword from sliding down the blade onto the samurai’s hands. The knight however has a nice big guard which he can use to catch and block the samurai’s cuts. The samurai also doesn’t have a pommel with witch to utilize the back of the sword, the knight does, which means he can whip the sword around and bash the samurai in the face if they closed.

The katana also has no chance of cutting through the knight’s armor. I don’t care how sharp it is, in real life it can’t cut through steel. The thrusting point is also inferior to that of a longsword’s, which could easily pierce through bamboo and cloth. Again, this whole debate is absurd however since the two developed in different cultures and the samurai’s weapons were not designed to come up against something like a knight in full plate.

Furthermore, it drives me nuts how they practically worship the sword. It’s a piece of steel. Hunks of atoms assembled (assembled masterfully albeit) , and there is nothing “magical” about it. There is also no magical ancient spirit that protects the fighters or enhances their attacks. (WWII proved that)  It just drives me nuts how my friends just gobbled down this BS. Maybe they are just better at suspending disbelief….