Graham phone interview

This is a test. We’re going to see just how big a wonk you are.

I have, to the best of my ability, given you full access to the audio of a phone interview I conducted with Lindsey Graham on Thursday morning. I was restricted by certain challenges. The interview is 28 minutes long, and I have no sound file compression software. I DO have video software that compresses things as a matter of course in saving them. So I put the audio in a video file, and added some recent still photographs from the wire, just to see if I could.

The only way I knew how to give you access to the audio without you having to download the whole gargantuan file was to stream it from YouTube. Trouble is, YouTube won’t take files longer than 5 minutes, no matter how they’re compressed.

So here you go — it’s in seven parts, and the audio and photos aren’t nearly as nice as they were before I compressed them. But you can still hear it. I recommend that you give it a try, because it’s pretty interesting.

The background for the interview: I was seeking input before we decided what we would say in Friday’s editorial. As it happens, the interview only had an indirect — although significant — impact on the editorial, since the person who wrote it was not involved in the interview. All he had was what I had briefly told him about it. In other words, my impressions of Graham’s views had an influence on the forming of consensus that led to our conclusions, but you won’t find much trace of it in the paper. That’s the way it is with most of the things that go into editorials — the factors are too many for all to be mentioned.

But I thought it was particularly interesting and helpful, so I’m working on a followup column based on the interview. Yeah, doing it this way is pretty weird and awkward, but bear with me. I’m just exploring new ways to make this blog useful and worth the time, both yours and mine.

Please do your bit for the blog by doing two things:

  1. Listen to the interview, or as much of it as you have time for.
  2. Then comment to let me know whether it worked, and whether you found it helpful. Or to say whatever else you want.


Anyway, that’s Part I up at the top of the post. Here’s Parts II-VII:

40 thoughts on “Graham phone interview

  1. bud

    Brad, Are you officially on record supporting this surge idea? If so, how long do you give it to work? 6 months? 1 year? I’m going to mark my calendar so we can discuss how well it worked at that time.

  2. Brad Warthen

    bud, timetables are not a thing I think about. Since I have always believed that what Bush started will not be finished by him, and probably not by his successor, that’s sort of a nonsense question to me. I’m not saying it’s a dumb question for you to ask. It’s just that the concept of cutoff dates and deadlines has no place in the way I think of this, and never has. I refer you to my column on the subject from March 2003. This was always going to be hard; it was always going to be bloody; it was always going to be complicated. So I don’t know how to answer your question.

    Agricola, if two or three more people ask for a Podcast, I’ll give it a try. I think it was an option when I formatted these, but I’d have to go back and start from scratch, with the original sound files. That’s hours and hours of work, so I want to make sure it will be helpful to several folks. I don’t KNOW this, but I suspect I’d have to break it up into smaller pieces for that to work. It’s an intriguing idea, though. I guess I’ll have to figure out how to do that eventually.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Oh, and yes, I do support this “surge” idea, after talking to Sen. Graham. Before that, I was worried that it wasn’t nearly enough troops. But while I still have reservations, I’ve come to the conclusion that the six brigades are quite likely sufficient to their specific missions, and that those missions fit into a larger framework that makes sense. Once again, I refer you to the interview, which I spend a LOT of hours figuring out how to post.
    But if you don’t have the 28 minutes, try reading my column tomorrow — plus an op-ed from Sen. Graham on the same subject, both on Sunday. My column should be available by 6 a.m.

  4. bud

    I’ll go on record with my opinion of the Surge policy. It’s a very bad idea. Senator Graham’s arguments are simply not persuasive. The whole idea of holding territory with a mere 22k additional troops is folly. That is just not enough in a country that large.
    My plan is simple: Announce a phased withdrawl of all American troops to commence immediately and conclude within 6 months. Redeploy about half to neighboring countries. That gives the Iraqi government time to form whatever coalitions it needs to keep order. If that fails then we’ll have a full blown civil war. Eventually some sort of equilibrium will emerge. In the end the U.S. deals with whatever nation or nations emerge.
    I’ve marked my calendar. If the surge idea is adopted and it works within 6 months (July 13) I will humbly acknowledge that Brad was right and offer my congratulations. I may even send over a bottle of champagne.
    However, if it fails, Brad should also acknowledge he was terribly wrong and offer the American people his appologies for supporting a very bad idea.
    The same goes for my withdrawl idea. If events go as expected, Iraq will be stable within 5 years, maybe sooner. But within 6 months we’ll know whether American security and economic interests are compromised. So by January 13, 2008 if my plan is adopted, Brad should send me champaign if nothing terrible happens to the U.S. The measure for success will be the price of a barrel of oil. Anything under $60 is clear evidence that we have not been financially imperiled by events in Iraq.

  5. Ready to Hurl

    Brad has learned the patently dishonest rhetorical technique of avoiding admitting failure while your ideas fail consistently.
    It’s a morally bankrupt technique but one that serves Der Decider, Cheney, Bill Kristol and Brad quite well.
    Unfortunately, 3,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have paid the price in all too brutal and grisly terms while Brad plays cute rhetorical games.

  6. Dave

    I finally got to listen to the first one for starters. I liked it very much when Graham said that the Sadr army has to be removed. Also funny how he says ole, as in oil deposits. Iraq has to share their ole deposits with all citizens. Graham is finally showing some tough leadership and has gotten off of his Jag theme about being so nice to the terrorist scum we have captured. Keep it up Lindsey.

  7. bud

    Ok then, it’s official. Brad supports the surge idea. Really Brad, this whole, “it’s hard work, we need to be patient” idea is not going to fly. If we don’t see measurable progress in 6 months there just simply won’t be any American support left. The Republicans in congress will be jumping ship in droves. Whether you like it or not Brad we are stuck with a timetable, and a very short one at that. No man or woman can possibly get elected president with any form of stay the course, however it’s packaged. So the clock is ticking.
    Of course this could all be a mute point if congress refuses to go along and stops the surge idea. They probably won’t but with a growing number of Republicans publicly cool to the idea it can’t be ruled out.
    And one more thing. I’ve listened to the first two installments of your interview with Sen. Graham. It’s pretty much the same stuff he’s given in other interviews, i.e., Meet the Press and on Keven Cowen’s radio show. His arguments are just not persuasive. You should have listened with just a bit more skepticism.

  8. Ed

    This is really much ado about nothing. The interview is with Lindsey Graham, for crying out loud…so who cares? Now, if we were trying to find out how to get in front of a camera somewhere, or how to lick John McCains’ backside, we might listen to what Mr. Graham has to say…these are subjects he’s mastered. But frankly, his opinion about the war on terror is worth zilch. Also, I am so glad that cut-and-runners like Bud didn’t carry the day in 1942. No stomach, no resolve, no giblets…just a cum-baya let’s all get along recipe for failure and more deaths of americans here in this country. A pox on Lindsey Graham. A pox on Bud. Let’s go Mr. President! More troops NOW, and let’s git ‘r done. Ed

  9. AlexStroman

    On YouTube apply for a Director’s account…You can load really really really long audio files…Its just a separate application thing online, and they have to approve you, and i think you can upload up to 90 minutes of each movie..
    try that and let me know if it works.

  10. Brad Warthen

    Oh, I figured that would cost me something, andI have no budget for it. Do you think I would pass the screening — a blogger who works for the nation’s second-largest newspaper company? They’d never believe believe that I do what I do with the software equivalents of baling wire and chewing gum, based on this and that thing we already had in house. There is NO expense budget for this blog, and no revenue stream. There’s just what I manage to do with the time I can steal away from sleep and such.

  11. Ed

    Brad, I think you’ve done an outstanding job with this blog. It pretty much sounds like the newspaper has given you no resources for it other than to allow you to link to it from the Editorial Page (not a slam against the paper, just citing a fact). And yet you’ve run it very well, especially considering the fact that you do it on top of all the other responsibilities you must meet. Well done! Ed

  12. Brad Warthen

    Which I am happy to provide…
    I realize folks get impatient sometimes because the medium seems to loom larger than the message here — all my videos for the sake of doing videos, for instance — but this is about experimentation for me. My motivation is to move forward, learn new things.
    I know how to put out a newspaper. In the course of my career, I’ve done it all — writing, editing, photography, production, etc. I know how to express Heavy Thoughts in writing in an editorial.
    This is about learning new things, from testing different ways to foment dialogue to messing with multimedia. And you’re right, very little has been provided to me beyond the Typepad account, and the resources that were already at my disposal — such as AP photos.
    But one reason for is that until I learn what I can do, I don’t know how to make the case for fancy software and such. So for video, for instance, I use Windows Movie Maker, which comes with XP.
    Sharing the audio from interviews is something I’ve wanted to do for a LONG time. If I can figure a way to set up streaming audio that’s better than this, I will. But I have to do it as sort of a digital Robinson Crusoe — using materials I find on the island. In a way, it makes it more fun, although it also means a lot more time, so it’s hard to do often.
    Anyway, I appreciate that y’all appreciate it.

  13. Herb Brasher

    What amazes me, Brad, is that some people will use a public forum that you provide in order to heap insults on you. They must not have been raised right, is all I can think. I can understand when people strongly disagree and say so; I’m glad they do, but some comments are below the belt. How you put up with it is more than I know, but then you are a far more patient, longsuffering person than I am.

  14. Herb Brasher

    By the way, do the code letters for posting a comment have to be so hard to read–it’s hard on an old man’s eyes! And since when does the spell checker keep me from posting? You getting picky?

  15. Mary Rosh

    Yeah, Herb, because civility is the most important value, much more important than truth. It’s vital that no one call Warthen out for what he is when he accuses his opponents of being “defeatist” and of being so consumed by hatred of George Bush that they advocate policies that are wrong for America. It’s important not to call Warthen out on the fact that the policies he advocates have led to the deaths of 3000 soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. None of that it is important. The only thing that’s important is showing that we were “raised right” by avoiding bringing up such unpleasant issues.

  16. Mary Rosh

    I wonder why Warthen doesn’t understand that no amount of video, audio, and other technology is important is as important as the facts and ideas he put forward. It doesn’t matter that he put an interview with Lindsay Graham on his blog on audio. What’s important is that the interview was a failure because he shied away from important questions, such as, why Graham filed a fraudulent brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Asking that question would have been an act of a real journalist. That Warthen failed to ask it tells us more about the quality of journalism Warthen practices than all the audio and video in the world.

  17. Ed

    For crying out loud Mary. What a horrible, self-absorbed NAG you are! Could you get over your self-righteous, sanctimonious self for just a moment or two? Sheesh! Generally, no one wants to hear your hyperbole and froth anyway, but could we puh-LEEZ, just every once in a while, have a moment of peace? A moment without your incessant, silly-a$$ed and pointless attacks? I know you believe you’re Gods’ gift to this blog, and that everyone else is just waiting breathlessly to see what your next pronouncement will be, but could you put a sock in it? Please? When one has nothing good to say, nothing is good to say. Ed

  18. Mary Rosh

    Ed, yes, I understand that you don’t like to hear opinions you disagree with. What I don’t understand is why I should care.

  19. AlexStroman

    Well, actually I don’t think you videos are good enough yet to be “Director Quality” Nah, I am just kidding. But truthfully, it doesn’t cost anything extra, and then we wouldn’t have to go through all those videos…

  20. Dave

    Mary “Nifong” Roth is just like the Nifong we all know. A person who is oblivious to the truth and facts. Mary is that idiot’s biggest supporter on this blog. Two peas in a pod, that.

    Brad, keep the videos coming. They add value.

  21. Ready to Hurl

    It’s interesting in a clinical-psychologist-sort-of-way to watch Dave type his internal conversations with his delusions.
    Dave’s the only one that has mentioned “Nifong” on this blog, that I’m aware of. It’s like he can’t quite divide reality from his Free Republic fantasies.

  22. Steve

    Was “don’t ask, don’t tell” also a Graham initiative?
    Sorry, Herb, guess I wasn’t raised right.
    I’ll ask for forgiveness next Sunday with
    all the other sinners.

  23. Dave

    Hurl, in your socialist/communist ideal of a world, Free and Republic are probably curse words. And in your’s and Mary’s world, Nifong is a noble (Democrat) prosecutor. He is a cut and runner too, as now he is trying to cut and run from his own mishandled, unconstitutional, depraved, disgusting, Kremlin like prosecution. I hope there is a nasty prison cell for this punk of a prosecutor. He needs to get it good and taste some of his own justice. But, again, to you and Mary, this guy is the ideal prosecutor. When the moronic population of Durham who voted for him see the bill they will have to pay for his conduct, it won’t just be a Democrat joke anymore. The Duke kids should each get $10 million in damages. Maybe 2 Americas Edwards will take the case, but only if he gets to keep 50% of the awards.

  24. Ready to Hurl

    Dave, you’ve obviously been watching too much FNC tabloid-time.
    Nifong could be every bit as bad as you’ve been spoonfed to believe. Or, he may have simply picked the wrong rich, white kids to prosecute.
    With the level of criminal malfeasance in the Bush Administration, I don’t try to keep up with Fox’s ratings-driven sensationalism.
    As you say, the people of Durham can make the call. Isn’t there a pretty, white girl who’s missing, yet?

  25. Herb Brasher

    Ed, Mary is the pit bull of this blog. He learns from nobody, nor does he seem to care about anybody else, especially if you don’t agree with him. What he does care about is telling us in South Carolina how backward and inferior we are. Brad wrote some time ago that “Mary cannot be reached.” The best thing to do, then, I think is to build a fence around ourselves, and I guess the way to do that, as long as Brad lets him roam around here, is to check out who wrote a comment before reading it. If it’s Mary, then ignore it–it’s better for your blood pressure, at the very least.
    Incidentally, it’s looking more and more like Mike Toreno on Bob McAlister’s blog is the same person, so look out for the pit bull.
    Some people never understand the fact that, by overkill, they kill their own position, but then it appears that this is not about convincing anyone, anyway. It’s about pure meanness, as far as I can tell. Mary will drive a lot of people over to the opposite side.

  26. Herb Brasher

    You won’t like this one, Dave, but in reading this book, Evil and the Justice of God, by N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, I was struck by the following paragraph:

    We ignore evil except when it hits us in the face. We are surprised by evil when it hits us in the face. As a result, we react in immature and dangerous ways. One of the most obvious and worrying instances of this phenomenon was the reactio to the events of September 11, 2001, in the United States (and to a degree in the United Kingdom as well). That appalling day rightly provoked horror and anger. But the official response was exactly the kind of knee-jerk, unthinking, immature lashing out which gets us nowhere. Let me not be misunderstood. Thousands of innocent victims met, of course, a tragic, horrible and totally undeserved death. The terrorist actions of Al-Qqeda were and are unmitigatedly evil. But the astonishing naivety which decreed that the United States as a whole was a pure, innocent victim, so that the world could be neatly divided up into evil people (particularly Arabs) and good people (particularly Americans and Israelis), and that the latter had a responsibility now to punish the former, is a large-scale example of what I’m talking about–just as it is immature and naive to suggest the mirror image of this view, namely that the Western world is guilty in all respects, and that all protesters and terrorists are therefore completely justified in what they do. In the same way, to suggest that all who possess guns should be locked up or that everyone should carry guns so that good people can shoot bad ones before they get to their tricks is simply a failure to think deeply about what’s going on.

    So, my suggestion is that we hold off a bit on the cowboy “shoot ’em up” approach that assumes we are all OK, and the enemy is all over there. As Wright says, we need a more comprehensive approach, and to stop thinking that we are always the good guys.
    I posted this below, but this is where I intended it to go.

  27. Mary Rosh

    Herb, I can be reached. I just can’t be reached by the kind of arguments Warthen makes, which are that people who disagree with him should be silent in order to avoid sowing “defeatism”, when Warthen has been wrong about everything, and when all of his advocacy of the war hinges on the fact that he endures none of the hardships it causes. I can’t be reached by Ed’s argument, which is that he should be able to silence viewpoints he doesn’t like. And I can’t be reached by your argument that I should show that I was “raised right” by refraining from pointing out that real people are dying real deaths as a result of U.S. policies, in order to avoid causing discomfort by people who advocated (and continue to advocate) those policies.
    I know that you like to think of yourself as thoughtful, moderate, and open-minded, but I can’t help it if it seems to me like a dodge. Your purported concern for women would seem more sincere to me if your solution wasn’t using the law to restrict their freedome of action.
    If you want to see how other people are going to evaluate your viewpoint, you have to look at ALL THE CONSEQUENCES of putting your viewpoint into effect. You can sit around worrying about women being pushed into abortion, and that’s a real worry, and we should give women (and everybody else) as much support as we can to help them be free to make choices that are good for them, but as soon as you start saying “women might make this choice and then decide that it was the wrong choice, so the law should prohibit them from making that choice,” you have to understand that you’re going to raise concerns that you don’t really care about what you say you care about, that your real goal is to control the behavior of other people.
    It’s astonishing to me that you can sit and listen to opponents of the war being called communists, and traitors, and defeatists, and accused of harming the morale of our troops, and not loving their country, and being blinded by hatred of Bush, and decide that the only problem is ME.
    Try taking a look at Luke 6:41-42, see if that alters your perspective.

  28. Herb Brasher

    And possibly also to stop thinking we have to spread Western democracy, which I’m not sure is an answer to problems in other parts of the world.

  29. Herb Brasher

    Thanks Mary, I appreciate that (see, I was only half telling the truth–I did intend to read your response, at least the initial one–now I’ll probably read more of them). And you didn’t assassinate my character in your response. I expected the “worthless human being” approach.
    That said, I guess Luke 6:41-42 bothers me about you as well, because I have never read anything by you that even remotely suggested to me that you could see any speck in your own eye, let alone a beam, but you were very quick to see everyone elses. Not that you aren’t correct at times, because you are–at times.
    But, I’ll never be able to adopt your viewpoint, that what a human being chooses should not be limited by others, but at least we got some clarification. Again, I genuinely appreciate your response. It was not what I expected.

  30. Dave

    Herb, you are by definition a multi-culturalist. You seem to make an assumption that other cultures are equally as good and just as our own here. I see and hear the same things about Christianity and Islam. But, go to an Islamic grade school and listen to the teachers school the little kids about dirty Jews and western infidels who by the laws of Quran can be killed, then go into an American grade school and compare. After you do that, then come back and tell me all of our cultures are equally right and proper. You can do the same exercise by attending an Islamic mosque and then any Catholic or Protestant church. I see the evil long before it hits me in the face, and thankfully we have leaders now who see it that way.

  31. Herb Brasher

    Dave, I’ll admit that we sometimes have a case for waging a conflict with other ideologies, but we need to do it with caution, and also some historical perspective. I’m taking some input from a friend of mine, and rephrasing it:
    What about the German and Japanese people who gladly sacrificed their lives for a misguided cause? What about the French who followed Napoleon?
    Even sincerely religious people got it wrong, when in their own minds, they thought they were obeying God. Luther, as much as I respect him as a theologian, permitted the German princes to kill 100,000 rioting peasants, then later endorsed persecuting the Anabaptists and Mennonites.
    The Inquisition was certainly as unnerving to our great-great-(etc.)-grandfathers in Europe 500 years ago as the Muslim threat is to us today.
    Then we might mention the “noble” British, French, and Spaniards who massacred, starved the grandchildren of Apaches, Comanches, and Navahos, etc.
    When I think of my own childhood, I had sometimes dreams of Russians invading the USA–we had drills at school of what to do in case of nuclear attack. Kind of stupid, really–as if hiding under our desk would protect us from radiation! At the same time, Russian kids had nightmares because they were told Americans would drop and atomic bomb on them!
    Imagine yourself, Dave, an 8 year old boy in a poor, Muslim country. You do not necessarily conceive of the 5% of Muslims who engage in Jihad as being evil–you look up to them as your heroes, because they advocate the overthrow of godless regimes who are attacking your culture with MTV, CNN, Discos, films, chain retailers pushing skimpy clothes, and the Internet. Your family can’t afford to feed you, but you get offered a place at a local madrassa, where you are daily brainwashed that the problems in the world are because the world isn’t following the pattern of 7th century Islam. And with great envy you see the people in their shiny cars who eat in fancy restaurants, and who walk around you and treat you as if you are a dog.
    No wonder your hero is Osama bin Laden, the “David” who is standing up to the Goliath. No wonder you are attracted to the inner circle, who offer you recognition if you will train to become a suicide bomber–and maybe even your own mother says she will disown you if you don’t.
    Your characterization of us as all good, and the rest of the world as all evil, just doesn’t wash with me. I’ve got family members who were infantry on the ground in Vietnam–the evil was not all “on the other side.” They live for decades with stuff they have done, people’s lives they have ended, and for what? You and I are evangelical Christians, and a little more than three decades ago, we were told that Richard Nixon was all good, because after all, he was Billy Graham’s friend. Billy Graham had even “led him to the Lord,” or so were the rumors (untrue). Charles Colson later reminded us that we were duped–and Billy Graham even so much admitted that he had been.
    Richard Nixon was indeed, in some ways, a good master of politics, and shrewd in foreign policy. But his decision to “follow Christ” as a young Quaker evidently didn’t transfer into action later on.
    All I’m asking us to do is not to constantly look at the world in black and white, as though the evil is “all out there,” and we wear the white hats.

  32. bud

    Everybody should read and re-read the last two posts by Dave and Herb. Dave paints the world in stark, black and white terms. In Dave’s world there is only pure good and pure evil. And of course the world he occupies is pure good, incapable of error.
    Herb, on the other hand, while professing a deep sense of belief in the Christian faith, recognizes that the world is simply not that simple. Great job Herb. It’s the Daves of the world that keep getting us into quagmires like Vietnam and Iraq. Thankfully we have reasonable people like Herb to help bring us back to reality.

  33. Mary Rosh

    “But, I’ll never be able to adopt your viewpoint, that what a human being chooses should not be limited by others,”
    But isn’t this dishonest of you, and doesn’t it avoid addressing the issue? I never put the issue in such broad terms as that, and it seems to me that you are putting the issue in those terms in order to keep your argument from collapsing. The issue isn’t about whether human choices should sometimes be limited by the interests of others. The issue is, should a woman’s choice as to whether to carry a pregnancy to term should be limited by others, and what, if any, should those limitations be? The woman’s interests with respect to this choice are more fundamental, and more profoundly affected, than, say, one’s choice about what color to paint one’s house, which may be circumscribed by the rules of a homeowner’s association.
    If you would use the law to prevent a woman from aborting an embryo consisting of 200 undifferentiated cells, how can you justify that position other than by saying that the women’s right to self-determination should be subordinated to the interest that you, a stranger, have in forcing the woman to serve as an incubator for the embryo?
    And can’t we agree that any concern about the hardships supposedly imposed on a woman by abortion are disingenuous, if your solution is to deny her the right to have an abortion? What are you saying other than that the woman might make the wrong choice, so your choice should be imposed on her?

  34. Dave

    Herb, and Bud also. I don’t look at our entire society as being all good and the cultures outside of this western society as being all bad. I work with Hindus, as an example, and I can tell you they are very peaceful, God loving, and reasonable people. Yet, even they tell me that its the Muslims who are causing havoc in India. Does anyone see a pattern here?

    And personally, I could care less if someone wants to be a Muslim, but don’t ask for Muslim “rights” in this nation. For example, Muslims want to be excused from removing Burkas upon going through security at an airport. Baloney, remove the Burka, take your shoes off like I am compelled to do. I feel the same way about Jews, and I have many Jewish friends. But, my Jewish friends are not the Reformed Jews who really have turned their backs on Judaism and follow a pro-abortion, who cares about Israel type belief. We as a nation are making a horrible mistake in not outlawing the Madrassas schools and many will pay with their lives for that. We also should never have permitted the phone Muslim immans access to black prisoners in America. The DC snipers are just one byproduct of that with many more to come. So call me unreasonable if you like, but after (hopefully not) one or two more 9-11’s and you will all join my thought patterns. Not all, there is Hurl out there. But, back to reality, just like I would not welcome plague into this nation, I certainly will not welcome murderous American hating people here either. It is as simple as that.

  35. Mary Rosh

    Bud, I think that Herb doesn’t have it quite right. The problem isn’t that Dave paints the world in stark black and white terms, while a more nuanced vision of the world is appropriate. The problem is that Dave is stupid and crazy. His vision is ruled by cowardice and xenophobia, and he bases his view of the world not on the facts as they are, but on what he likes to believe.
    He wants to believe, for example, that the Marines implicated in the Haditha massacre were pure as the driven snow, so that’s what he believes, contrary to all evidence. He wants to believe that the U.S. is winning in Iraq, so that’s what he believes, contrary to all evidence. He wants to believe that the mere existence of Muslims is an existential threat, leading to the necessity of a genocidal campaign to wipe out all Muslims, so that’s what he believes, contrary to all evidence.
    He is constantly making assertions about what the law should be and how various situations should be treated. For example, he claims that no act by a soldier in a combat zone should subject the soldier to liability. Of course, that is contrary to the principles of international and U.S. law, but he propounds his view as authoritative, oblivious to the fact that no one agrees with, or even cares about, anything he says.
    The fact that he sees the world in black and white terms isn’t the problem; the problem is that he advocates the deliberate murder of noncombatants.
    What’s astonishing is that his views are given any hearing at all.

  36. Herb Brasher

    The issue is, should a woman’s choice as to whether to carry a pregnancy to term should be limited by others, and what, if any, should those limitations be?
    . . . how can you justify that position other than by saying that the women’s right to self-determination should be subordinated to the interest that you, a stranger, have in forcing the woman to serve as an incubator for the embryo?

    Mary, both of these statements are obviously loaded, especially the second one, which assumes that if any outside person or institution infringes upon, or limits in any way what you call a woman’s right, then it turns her into an “incubator,” or what you called earlier “a passive container.” In other words, outside interference makes her into a non-person. We’ve gone around this before, and I really don’t want to do it again, because I don’t think it is going to help. Nevertheless, I just want to briefly mention what I think is the more fundamental issue, and that is that our presuppositions are vastly different. I might say that you can feel free to correct my understanding of your presuppositions, but obviously I don’t have to tell you that.
    I will say that you are much better with words than I am, probably the best one with words on this blog, next to RTH—well Brad isn’t bad either, but that’s his vocation. And I don’t have much time to try and do this right. Nor am I convinced of your motivation in asking these questions—I’m fairly certain that you’re just waiting for me to write what you are looking for, so you can blast it to kingdom come. But I’ll do it, anyway.
    Presupposition no. 1: God speaks to you directly, through whatever—a song, a poem, or whatever. But whatever it is, you are convinced it is absolute truth. You control your own destiny; the woman controls her own destiny. Well, it is awful hard to argue with God, even you will have to admit. So anyone who wants to disagree with you has basically lost from the beginning. In contrast to that, I also believe in absolute truth, but it is contained in a record call the Scriptures, which tell us about Jesus Christ. He is the absolute truth, and the New Testament tells us about him. In fact, when we go back into the Old Testament from that point of view, we see how the whole story developed, and we turn the light on in what was, in some ways, a dark room, and see things that we didn’t see before. (You didn’t like me doing that—but I’m convinced that it is valid.) But the point is, the truth is something outside of myself, something I don’t have, but something I need, and something that I will never fully grasp, and only practice very imperfectly.
    Presupposition no. 2: There are some basic essentials that humans need to know, and a God in whom they need to trust. It is not easy to understand the truth—the Scriptures themselves write about seeking, knocking, searching—it takes time and effort, and even then, we never get it totally right, which is one reason why there are a lot of denominations in the church (which I don’t think is a detriment, but part of our rich heritage as Christians)—but there are some basic essentials that all Christians need to hold to, and they are pretty obvious in Scripture. One is that the transcendent God became visible in a human being, the incarnate Christ Jesus of Nazareth. Another essential is “you are not your own, you are bought with a price.” That is doubly true of Christians, but it is also true of all of humanity, because God is their Creator. My life is not my own, it is a gift of God. I am not the master of my fate, or captain of my soul, even if I think I am. My life is a gift of God—all life is a gift of God, my wife is a gift of God, and I had better treat her, and life, that way. And in fact, I will find true happiness if I do treat her and life that way, but that is another, less important issue.
    Presupposition no. 3: Until the end of time, God will not coerce people. In fact, he fights with his hands tied behind his back—or nailed to a Cross, to use New Testament language. Which is one reason, I think, he stays in the background—as C. S. Lewis, said, one whiff of his unmitigated presence would force us to believe in him, and that wouldn’t be true faith.
    Presupposition no. 4:
    God does not just make His will known to human beings personally; He has instituted certain things, one of them being government, in order to prevent the worst. Human government, in preventing certain actions, maintains society, and is therefore the will of God. How much government interference? Well, now that is a question, that in essence, we are arguing constantly on this blog, whether we connect it with God, or not. Usually, in the history of mankind, we didn’t have any choice in the matter. We live in a rare time, and in a rather unique situation. Most people in the world still don’t have much opportunity to modify that interference. But you seem to say, as far as the unborn are concerned, the decision of a woman is concerned, the government should not interfere at all. I suspect that, taken to its logical conclusion, your position would ultimately lead to anarchy and misery—every person for himself. I have to differ with that, at the same time while keeping presupposition no. 2 and 3 in mind. Do we want a strict, church-dominated and ruled country where every abortion is illegal and suppressed? Obviously not, but I’m not really worried about that happening, quite honestly. RTH and others to the contrary, I don’t think we are in danger of a theocracy any time soon. Lily’s scenario about what happens if Roe vs. Wade is overturned is interesting, but I’m not sure I buy it.
    Presupposition no. 5: This is a corollary of no. 4—you believe that mankind is basically good, and that every person can make his/her own choices, and that is just fine. I believe that all mankind is infected with a tendency to go wrong. That being the case, and avoiding coercion, it would seem to me that requiring some kind of counseling and information apart from the kind that Planned Parenthood gives to women would be helpful, as well as at least establishing the right to live for the unborn at the stage they are capable of being sustained outside of the womb (after 6 months?).
    So, no, outside interference does not turn a woman into an “incubator,” any more than outside interference in other ways necessarily makes me into a non-person. It can, if it gets too heavy handed, but it doesn’t have to.

  37. bud

    I sense everyone on this blog, with the possible exception of Mary, is a bit uncomfortable with the abortion issue. But perhaps that’s as it should be. If we can greatly reduce the incidence of pregnancy in this country this whole issue becomes less important. Perhaps not on an intellectual level but at least the numbers affected by it are lower. That’s why it’s critically important to make sure birth control is readily available to all that want it. Let’s not exacerbate the problem by making counter-productive education decisions based on religious dogma.


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