Thursday, December 11, 2014

Musings: Moral Quicksand

The horrible revelations contained within the Senate Intelligence Report on the CIA Use of Torture are extreme examples of what can happen when people decide that the ends justify the means.

That moral slippery slide is being used right now by some Congressmen to justify and excuse actions that any conscionable person would consider absolutely and unequivocally wrong.

Things like physical and mental torture, secret payments to nations in exchange for establishing dungeons within their borders, doctors and psychologists complicit in harming the bodies and souls of prisoners in their care, agents hushed when they tried to question or stop the abuse, millions spent trying to hide the records from Senate investigators.

Yet still we hear people like Sen. Lindsey Graham say, well, yeah, but it's still not as terrible as what the Islamic nations are doing. As in, cutting off someone's head with a knife on video is worse than nearly drowning them dozens of times.

Sorry, but neither side can claim any moral high ground in that debate.

And now come the efforts to spin and deny — it wasn't really that bad; the Democrats are trying to make it look worse than it really was; yes, we tortured, but we didn't inflate the “value” of the program; and in any case, we were fighting the truly guys, so they don't deserve any sympathy.

There are parallels to be drawn here to the GMO-pesticide debate in Hawaii, with the antis playing the role of righteous, victimized America and the multinational chemical corps demonized like Islamic nations.

Of course, the antis would never see themselves as such. In fact, most would shudder at any comparison between them and the American oligarchy, much less the CIA.

But in fact, they used many of the same strategies to advance their agenda that were used to launch the “war on terror,” including fear-mongering, misinformation, outright propaganda, scapegoating, polarization, a “with us or against us” mentality and over-inflating both the dangers local communities are facing and the efficacy of their actions.

And all the while portraying themselves as the good fighting the bad.

Just like the failed “war on terror,” their own campaign continues unabated, as evidenced by yesterday's attack on Kauai Charter Commission nominee Allan Parachini, who dared to question the anti's movement, and hysterical commentaries like the one written by Fern Rosenstiel in Civil Beat today.

Fern begins by blaming the seed companies for fear-mongering, while never taking responsibility for engaging in the very same actions herself. Just as anti-GMO leader Felicia Cowden never saw the irony in testifying yesterday against Parachini's appointment, saying he “should have participated in constructive, community building efforts” though the antis themselves never mastered that.

Introspection is not a strong suit among the anti-GMO/pesticide contingent, just as it isn't among certain Congressional apologists and CIA spooks. 

Which is why they both keep finger-pointing, blaming and excusing their own bad behavior under the guise that their enemies are worse than they are, and anyway, the ends justify the means.

And all the while they're sinking in moral quicksand, even as they believe they're on high ground.


Anonymous said...

A bit of a stretch don't you think Joan? Equating the red shirts action and mindset to CIA torturer mindset and tactics. Surprised you did not compare Gary to one of the CIA agents who masterminded this stain on humanity.

Anonymous said...


As one astute observer pointed out in a previous post:..."Perhaps you have a reading comprehension problem?"

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the above poster. Kinda ridiculous to call what is going on with the CIA issue, as somehow akin to what is happening here with the GM0 issue. Seriously, um no, no relation , correlation, very apples and fish as far as i am concerned.

Rather extremist view in itself, so calling extremists extremists, while extremely relating them to extremists. Yeah. Nope .

Doesn't work for me. Sorry. Aren't we beating a dead horse with the whole "Red Shirt-GMO Comparisons' already?

just sayin.

Anonymous said...

All things come back to the anti's....Joan the tireless critic of the anti-gmo movement. Get a life.

Anonymous said...

Some where, being the healthiest state in the nation, it has to be true that most cancers in hawaii has to triggered be pesticide and GMO's. It has to be! Trade winds blow in a circular motion so the pesticides drift right back onto our pristine island. How's that propaganda! Pretty true Ms. Conrow! :-) keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Certainly not the "last" word by any measure, but certainly one of the saner:

...regarding GMOs....

Anonymous said...

No Joan got it right. There are extremist on both sides. For example the gall of the green peace activist to deface the desert landscape of the Nazca Lines in Peru is disgusting. What makes them any different then a****oles like Bush and Limbaugh,not much.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anti- Still don't get it do you folks. Joan continues to surgically point out the hypocrisy of the your rhetoric as it continues unabated. And yes, everyone who does not march lockstep with your mantra is "in bed" with the seed companies. Perhaps it's time you got a life as well. Your anger is the poison here.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the CIA defenders and the red shirts is that the former knows that what they're saying is bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Quote from blog, "Introspection is not a strong suit among the anti-GMO/pesticide contingent..." What a wonderful generalization. I wonder if it might also apply to the author of this blog? Or commenters who also excel in the art of polemics, invective, diatribe, stricture and rebuke. Of course not! They obviously apply deep introspection to themselves daily as is reflected in the words they speak. What is it the bible says? About judging and casting stones? Perhaps we should ALL take a step back and really look at ourselves first instead of projecting our shadows onto others?

Joan Conrow said...

Congratulations, 10:43. You actually got my point, though I don't think you realize it.

Anonymous said...


"So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do." Benjamin Franklin's observation has been confirmed by recent studies in self-deception.

In everyday reasoning, humans do little to get real evidence when taking positions or making decisions, and do even less to get evidence for opposing positions. Instead, they tend to fabricate "pseudo-evidence" – often after the decision had already been made (“post hoc fabrication”).

Humans take a position, look for evidence that supports it, then, if they find some evidence – enough so that the position "makes sense" – they stop thinking altogether (the “makes-sense stopping rule”). And, when pressed to produce real evidence, they tend to seek and interpret “evidence” that confirms what they already believe (the "confirmation bias").

Moreover, humans tend to think highly of themselves, highlighting strengths and achievements, and overlooking weakness and failures (the “self-serving bias”). This is particularly true of Americans and Europeans: when asked to rate themselves on virtues, skills, or other desirable traits (including ethics, intelligence, driving ability, and sexual skills), a large majority say they are above average. Power and privilege magnify the distortion: 94% of college professors think that they do above average work. This effect is weaker in Asian countries and in other cultures which value the group more highly than the self.

--from Wikipedia (for whatever it's worth).

Anonymous said...

i remember Joan saying that she despises Wikipedia scholars, yet, I do recall her using the resource a few times herself. I still say that the comparisons for comparisons sensationalistic sake makes little sense to me in making interesting conversational blog fodder, er posts, sorry.

I mean inhumane torture, and wrongdoings by despicable people such as Gingrich and his era, could only be supported by the era of individuals in this country who remember what to them was the good old days of oppression, regression, nationalism, and good old Patriarchal patriotism.

Which is why, to me, many Anti GMO Bill supporters, seem to be in this same class of white, American, male, conservative patriot class, or their wives and or significant others, who glorify war, and getting information by any means, and by the same token will glorify a GMO potato, or tomato or corn, but condemn stem cell research? Because they see it as Unchristian.

*Yes, that was my comparison. It is a stretch, but no more so then anyone else here.*

Stretches belong in the gym only.

Anonymous said...

3:36 Yes it is always difficult to see yourself as you really, resulting in defensiveness and blame shifting. Classic pattern. Do a Wikipedia search on projection.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty easy to criticize and take BS "moral" high ground regarding torture.
If someone has your kid or knows where a ready to blow-up bomb is ...Me, you and anyone would do whatever is possible to get the kid back, find the bomb etc....Fear is the greatest immediate motivator.
Oh Gee, if you are nice to me I'll tell ya where your kid's at.....or "listen MFer, see this razor, gun, blowtorch, etc. this will be utilized now, unless you tell me where my kid is...Geez-oh.
No questions, no moral high ground, no conscience..... we will do whatever to protect our family.....Torture ain't vengeance, it is a tool.
Of course vengeance may not be so bad either. (even if God is watching your every action and your Judgement day looms)....torture is bad, but putting a drone in their living room is good?......time to get real people, this ain't no ethical Kant – Nietzschean discourse, there are bad guys out there.

Anonymous said...

@5:14: You seem to think torture was justified because it helped protect U.S. personnel. Sorry, but one thing the Senate Torture Report clearly revealed was torture is not an effective means of securing actionable or useful information.

Contrary to CIA claims at the time, the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" did not produce intelligence that thwarted terrorist plots or resulted in the capture of terrorists. That intelligence was already available from other sources or from the detainees themselves before they were tortured. In fact, torture often led to false information.

In other words, the use of coercive interrogation techniques did not lead to intelligence that wasn't available through traditional interrogation or that was necessary to stop terrorist attacks and capture terrorists -- the arguments the CIA used to justify the use of the techniques.

Although the CIA repeatedly claimed that enhanced interrogations enabled it to capture terrorists and thwart terrorist plots, all available evidence shows that any counterterrorism successes were the result of traditional intelligence and law enforcement efforts, not the CIA torture program.

Dawson said...

"..Me, you and anyone would do whatever is possible to get the kid back, find the bomb etc..
"listen MFer, see this razor, gun, blowtorch, etc. this will be utilized now, unless you tell me where my kid is"...
we will do whatever to protect our family...."

The reality is that the people the CIA tortured didn't have your kid, or my kid. In point of fact, the CIA didn't know squat. They were shooting in the dark to satisfy a chain of command that was rabid to deliver the political vengeance that the administration demanded.

The problem is when self-righteous government demagogues decide they know who's guilty and who's not. When they decide that denying suspected enemies due process is in the best interest of you, me, our kids, and the public they're sworn to serve.

Reality, sadly, isn't the black-and-white 1950's TV series plot that you'd like it to be.

Anonymous said...

Torture worked so well that we went to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9-11.

Anonymous said...

Torture: is what dirty syndicate pig does when he chokes you. Then he files false charges of resisting and disorderly conduct to cover up his brutality. He then gets awarded officer of the month when being investigated and found guilty of assault, excessive force, misconduct and attempted murder not sustained.

The dirty Syndicate pig chokes and assaults his wife and still he wears the KPD uniform representing how dirty and corrupt the department is.

Lauren Kagawa died because she was brutally beatened. The dirty syndicate KPD pigs covered up the murder. Who was the dirty pig that was her former boyfriend and was facing TRO and probation violations for breaking in the house of the co-creator of south park and threatening to kill Kagawa and south park with a knife and guns in his vehicle?

Agni: 25 year KPD police veteran caught with unregistered guns, committing felony acts, and says he's only holding it for a family/friend. 25 years and he doesn't know it's illegal? It will be only an excuse that dirty Judge Valenciano will accept.

Kauai Beach resort head of security and former dirty pig: tries to set up a Aurero Moore like hit with several syndicate Gudot slaves.

Dirty national guard pigs shoot and kill two people on Kauai in separate incidents. They never heard of securing the scene and negotiating a peaceful surrender? I guess they don't teach you that in the world class unaccredited Kauai police training.

Kpd pays $60K a yr as a rookie syndicate pig and can't even properly trained those inbred high school flunky drug dealers.

The protest against brutal police murders "I can't Breathe" around this country has been Kauai's Achilles heel for a long time. It's time to get rid of the Kauai syndicate pig Mafia.

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't matter whether truth and the angels are on the same side as you if you communicate your thoughts like some hallucinating bi-polar nitwit.
You will end up with the same credibility as a hallucinating
bi-polar nitwit!
Pete Antonson

Anonymous said...

Allahu Akbar.......the new USA anthem under Sharia, you better load up on Toilet Paper, this will be illegal under the Sharia rules of Qadaa' al-Haajah...Yep, only water to wipe the puny arses of those that will give this country over to terrorists. There won't be any Dianne Feinsteins or Nancy Pelosi in political office, they won't be permitted to drive. No red shirt or blue Shirt for the wahines...women's style of dress will be dictated.
I say, give me the old "take a bullet for your buddy" foxhole lingo and God save the USA from the hand wringing revisionist limp wrists.

Dawson said...

You want some real bi-polar nitwitticisms?

Senior Bush administration officials Sunday slammed the Senate study on the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation tactics and defended the techniques as necessary to get information from senior Al Qaeda operatives who had stopped talking to interrogators.

“I’d do it again in a minute,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It absolutely did work."

...Karl Rove, who was a senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, said on "Fox News Sunday" that all of the interrogation techniques were “carefully designed” and approved by administration lawyers.

Full text at

Dawson said...

Allahu Akbar.......the new USA anthem under Sharia, you better load up on Toilet Paper, this will be illegal under the Sharia rules of Qadaa' al-Haajah...Yep, only water to wipe the puny arses of those that will give this country over to terrorists. There won't be any Dianne Feinsteins or Nancy Pelosi in political office, they won't be permitted to drive. No red shirt or blue Shirt for the wahines...women's style of dress will be dictated.
I say, give me the old "take a bullet for your buddy" foxhole lingo and God save the USA from the hand wringing revisionist limp wrists.

Eh? What's that? Speak louder, we can't hear you above the jangle of your jingoism.