Wednesday, January 2, 2019

When Your Mitts Can Be Too Clean

Mitt Romney is a good man.

Mitt Romney could be an example of almost everything that is right about public service.

Mitt Romney reminds us again why he didn’t win the Presidency in 2012: 

He wasn’t willing to get his Mitts dirty.

Romney—a man whose personality has been shaped invariably by ostensibly traditional values a lot more than Trump’s—has a difficult time envisioning solutions to political problems without applying seemingly metaphysical standards.  Eventually, what happens is, policies that can be carried out effectively by those less than pure are either neglected or then left tho be carried out by those who are neither pure nor effective, if not outright malevolent.

In theory, one can parse/fisk a number of Romney’s complaints on policy grounds.  Two key points should be sufficient.  One, a President might not need to display “mutual respect” towards those who consider his assumption of the office to be illegitimate; Two, a President should not base his concept of American leadership on whether erstwhile European (and other) “allies” decide whether American will “do the right thing in world affairs”.

Yet Mitt—using his own admonition—ironically falls the most short when he declares “A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.”” Absolutely not.  There are some things that are sacred.  Investing political office—no matter how high—with a metaphysical sacred status far beyond Constitutional proscriptions is a prescription for short circuiting the effectiveness of what LBJ termed the already “awesome duties of this office”.  

In the spirit of the author not following his own advice, and with the caveat that any analog between the sacred and secular is to be considered a loss one, there is a Midrashic exposition about the dedication of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness that on the day of the dedication, Bezalel, who had painstakingly constructed the Tabernacle, was aghast that all of sudden there were sacrificial meat and ash byproducts all over his heretofore pristine structure.  Aaron and the Priests gently reminded him that is was the reason the Tabernacle was constructed.  Invariably sacred work involved getting your hands dirty.  Remove the metaphysicality and “dirty work” as a necessary condition is amplified exponentially—necessary, and certainly not sufficient.

There are those both left and right who would insist that compromising purities is always tantamount to using the ends to justify the means.  As Yoram Hazony points out in his study of Esther, more often, the insistence upon purity is the enemy of the moral; the insistence on purity uses all ends to justify its own means, in that it justifies unwarranted inaction; and it commits a form of reverse cultural misappropriation, in that it invests secular endeavors with the level of sacred callings and then holds them to the same standard.

In the end, the insistence on purity—again using Mitt’s admonition—falls short twice over.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Roseanne Deal

The swiftness of Roseanne’s public execution following her incendiary tweet most likely elicited feelings of relief rather than regret on the part of anyone involved with the production: an excuse to kill the golden goose handed to ABC on a silver platter.

The show had become the proverbial bone in the throat of reflexively resistant show business, perceived as a corrective to the industry’s progressivism and justification for the existence of the stereotypical Trump voter as Hollywood sees them.  Instead, everyone involved with the project now will earn brownie points for any and all mea culpas, and will all move on with their Hollywood lives (except for maybe Sara Gilbert, who might pay with her career for conceiving the reboot in the first place).

Meanwhile, the inevitable pile-ons and whataboutisms have ensued from all corners.   Overparsing the tweet in question, some defend Roseanne’s ape analog as about appearance and not race, as pictures of Trump juxtaposed with an orangutan are; some have claimed that this was about her, and not the show itself. But to paraphrase Larry Summers: Roseanne’s tweet was racist in effect even if not intent; and the fact that the show was “Roseanne” indicates, as Ben Shapiro has pointed out, that the star was the product.

However, as one can perform all sorts of contortions to try give Roseanne the benefit of the doubt, one can imply even more mentally acrobatically impressive feats of contortion to make this into something resembling another BLM or #MeToo.  Conservatives should actually be as relieved as Roseanne’s production team: they now can point to Roseanne’s execution and demand parallel ones for offenses from the Left—a “Roseanne Deal”—even if trenchant cultural double standards make that a pipe dream;  those to the right of the far left can be forgiven for using Roseanne as a whataboutist cudgel against progressivism.
In any case, common sense would look like Bret Stephens’ musings about taboos, that some should be inviolate while some remain permitted precisely to keep the truly incendiary out of public fora.  (Mr. Stephens errs when he deems Ms. Jarret to be less than public a figure and therefore not deserving of withering criticism like the President, and either way that status is irrelevant to the nature of Roseanne’s offense.  But it doesn’t detract from his point about taboos.)

Instead we have Trevor Noah, whose history of antisemitic tweeting rivals Roseanne’s own Twitter ouvre, and who should have himself fired from Comedy Central and run offscreen if he has a shred of intellectual integrity.

Instead we have Lindsey West, who has had a personal axe to grind with Roseanne for years.  As part of that spat—which was ostensibly about defending comics who cracked rape jokes—Ms. West herself delineated that certain rape jokes were not necessarily out of bounds, allowing for gradations of offense worth comic risk.  Not anymore: post-Roseanne, West now insists on PC as a matter of faith, particularly when equating the NFL’s new flag policy with a hypothetical racist ABC that still runs Roseanne. 

West makes as compelling a #resistance revolutionary as Rachel Dolezal.

In fact, considering that one can credibly assume that Ms. West considers herself bound by the tenets of intersectional theory and would happily subscribe to the double standards of meting out offenses that its adherents demand—would she be as up in arms about Linda Sarsour’s tweets as she is about Roseanne’s?—one might find that her revolutionary fervor is even less Rachel Dolezal and more Torrance Shipman:

“This isn’t a democracy, this is a cheerocracy.”

Friday, May 25, 2018


If the NFL's "flag crisis" is the result of the President's using it as a whipping post to fan (pun intended) his base--and I wrote in the wake of Charlottesville that at the time his standing to invoke patriotism was tenuous--then the entire "backbone" of the "protests" are at least equally fruit of the poisonous tree, the result of a player in decline using intersectionality for PR points after prodding from his "woke" then-new terrorsplainer girlfriend.  (Raised by a middle class family and having absolutely no political conscience prior, where the hell else did he get it?)  

Also, for once, I'll give Roger Goodell credit because he was in an impossible position [a lot of it of his own making, of course, because he's trying to be Bud Selig and he never will], but right now, this was the best the NFL could do (again, because they stepped in it by not doing what the NBA has done for decades).  The fact that no one is happy (the President being less unhappy than most, which is unusual enough) should be one indication that, for now, this was the least bad option. 

"It would be better that they did nothing and kept the status quo"?  The furor did die down as the season went on, and the claims of correlation between viewership decline and the perceived intersectionalization of the league were most likely exaggerated; but after the public layout for ostensibly progressive causes, management had not only the right but the duty to retake control of its product and its presentation.  Argue all you want about the league commodifying patriotism by making deals with the DOD; that just makes them smarter than the other leagues that might not have.  (And the DOD approached them.  Maybe there is something to this "American Football" thing.)

Finally, the "solution" here is actually the simplest one--because the players who might want to protest on company time can do it; it just might be more financially risky.  They are legally free to do so--and free to pay the consequences.  (The few conservatives who’ve defended kneeling and said “you can’t force patriotism” are off the mark: this is about enforcing a workplace policy.  It bears no resemblance to Pledge-in-classroom issues; the NFL is not a public good.)   I suspect that a kneeling player will be fined between 10-50K, and his team(s) will be forced to fork over between 100-250K.  Token pocket-change fines would make this policy completely meaningless; however, don't underestimate the ability of the league to permanently blackball and/or damage the career of a player who gives it a PR shiner, even if it does so selectively.   

(While I've practically advocated that Tom Brady should be made the football equivalent of Barry Bonds because of Deflategate, even Bonds' excommunication didn't occur until after his retirement.  Kaep and Eric Reid will be as perpetually radioactive as Ray Rice because their sins were in public view.  Hard to tell if a ball is slightly deflated unless it's being dribbled.  Hence, the notion that the punishments are disproportionate and/or racially motivated don't hold water.)

The NFL also need not overthink the possibility of sustained mass protest as a reflexive response to the new policy.  First: if the kneeling resumes to any major degree and a new ringleader can be identified--a Kaep will be put in the ass of that player's NFL career.   Second (and this is the other reason Goodell's move is the least bad of all the moves): the "protests", should they occur, might happen early in the season but then will die down as the season goes on and either fines accrue; after Mohammed Abdul-Rauf was fined by the NBA in 1995 and started to then show up for the anthem, he stated that he acquiesced in standing by reexamining his position and finding in Islam that he could do so, indicating that punshined participants will find a similar way to rationalize backtracking.  Moreover, if team dissension starts costing games and/or playoff spots, the protesters will further eat themselves.  If that happens, it might even make the NFL more fun to watch both on and off the field. 

In the meantime, as much as the Trump-base types hare ostensibly unwilling to brook dissension, those rallying around the Kaep because epater le Trumpois have demonstrated as much inflexible fealty to the tenets of hard left intersectionality, as evidenced by Linda Sarsour tying the NFL's deKaepitation to "right wing Zionism", and Marshawn Lynch's Viva Mexico helmet dance.  (Or maybe it was a rally Kaep.)

Call it McKaepernism.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


When the premise is faulty, everything that follows is fruit of the poisonous tree.

Following up on the frenzied efforts of former SOS John Kerry to save the JCPOA while flouting the Logan Act, former President Obama released a three-page statement attempting a bullet-pointed (as opposed to missile-pointed, one supposes) rebuttal to the policy implications of President Trump’s withdrawal from the “Iran Deal”.

Whether Obama’s long-winded protest was a) “burial in paperwork” or b) an informed argument remains irrelevant.  Rather, it was another attempt to obfuscate the unsupported premise of the JCPOA: specifically, it never was the mechanism for ensuring that Iran never gets possession of a nuclear weapon as presented by its creators and cheerleaders.

In fact, the JCPOA was crafted in such a way to give all the advantage and rewards to the Iranians for a promise that could never be enforced.  Furthermore, both the crafters of the deal and its supporters are on record about the actual ultimate purpose of the JCPOA, and a lot of room has been left to interpret that its ultimate aims are even more nefarious than they let on.

Consider the statement from Julia Frifield, Obama’s assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, in 2015:  “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and it is not a signed document”.  Ostensibly well-meaning literati argue as if the JCPOA should or ought to be binding, rather that whether or not it actually is; pace Bret Stephens, who’s less charitable toward the deal and its crafters, “It’s questionable whether the deal has any legal force at all.”  

Consider the New York Times, champion of both Obama and the JCPOA, lamenting the cancellation of “the lifeline offered by the 2015 nuclear deal, which was supposed to alleviate pressure on Iran’s economy and crack open the barriers to the West”, indicating that the ostensible corrective purpose of the JCPOA—keeping Iran from going militarily nuclear—was always tangential at best; the primary driver of the JCPOA was to rehabilitate the Islamic Republic whether or not its behavior changed.  

(Or, in classic Obamanian terms, the Hope that it would Change.)

Consider how Obama and JCPOA cheerleaders have lamented that “no one will take America and its commitments at their word”, when he and then Secretary of State Clinton unilaterally cancelled a 2004 written understanding between President George W. Bush and Israel PM Ariel Sharon vis a vis settlements and the territories.

Consider how, many times Obama felt compelled to mention the 1953 CIA backed coup in Iran that reinstalled the Shah.  In his 2009 Grovel in Cairo, Obama felt compelled to mention Iran’s “democratically elected government” (an arguable assertion, but one can also consider that Hitler and Hamas were also democratically elected), and that “No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons…any nation – including Iran – should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power.”  In July 2015, as part of the sales push for the JCPOA, Obama sat down with NYT eminence Thomas Friedman and repeated the self-flagellating litany.  

While Obama considered the US responsible for the Islamization of Iran and therefore in debt enough to them to at least allow for the opportunity to nuclearize “peacefully”, if not militarily, as penance for 1953, it didn’t go unnoticed that Obama's apologies were directed to the theofascist rulers of the Islamic Republic rather than the Iranian people.

In fact the Iranians had a short-lived attempt at a post-coup liberal democracy which was killed by the Ayatollah and his minions in a takeover that mirrored Bolshevism. This should cancel out any American responsibility for Iran’s political self-destruction, as well as indicate how thin any line is between “civilian” and “military” in that country, particularly as long as the current regime runs the Islamic Republic.

Therefore, for at least as long as the regime hasn’t changed, why should Iran be allowed any nuclear materials at all, even one centrifuge, no matter how slow and outdated?  One Congressional Democrat pooh-poohed concerned about cheating by claiming “they can’t remove the trail” of removed illicit material—but why wouldn’t the Iranians claim that the “trail” was left from the “permitted” radioactive material?  To paraphrase Yasser Arafat, what makes one think that Iranians wouldn’t lie for a cause they would kill for?  Considering the zeal with which the Obama/Kerry cabal pursued this deal at the cost of “letting Hezbollah off the hook” and suppressing our own pursuit of drug traffickers—what makes one think they wouldn’t cover up for Iranian lies as well as their own? 

One should only conclude that the entire premise of the JCPOA was to provide political cover for the Obama/Kerry cabal and its cheerleaders for what they considered Iran’s inevitable if not entitled nuclearization.

In a classic sketch lampooning the 1938 Munich agreement, John Cleese (as PM Chamberlain) holds the infamous “piece of paper”, annnouncing as the wind blows it away “I have in my hand a piece of…Shit!"  

The JCPOS wasn’t worth even that much.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Among other prounouncements that were guaranteed to enflame those with propensities to suffer from “microaggressions” during his administration, George W. Bush once made reference to a “soft bigotry of low expectations” (a phrase penned by Michael Gerson) regarding what others might have assumed to be the cultural prerogatives of certain subgroups even if said exercising prerogatives were considered reprehensible in and by other cultures.

There’s another more subtle soft bigotry currently being employed in mainstream circles that hasn’t been as cleverly and accurately labeled, heretofore be tagged “sterotroping”. 

(“Bignorance" was the other, actually original, option, but it was already taken and defined in a completely different context; “stereotrope” doesn’t have a definition according to Google, and the domain expired a month ago.  Plus, “stereotroping” bears a remote resemblance to “stromtrooping”, hopefully uncomfortable enough for the tropers and troopers.)

Stereotroping has three particular features: stereotyping entire cultural subgroups based on one member’s behavior, portraying a gross ignorance of the basics of that culture; attempting to enforce that false definition in the face of readily available evidence to the contrary; and denying the ostensibly offended subgroup the opportunity to reclaim its self-definition.

The first two aren’t unusual regarding almost any subgroup considered to some extent to be a “protected class”, irrespective of whether that designation is a salient one.   The third has been rather endemic to critics of Jews and Judaism.  (Oftentimes, what makes the third element so trenchant is that the barbs are tossed from within: the enemies are erstwhile Jews lobbing the barbs from within.  Specific examples like the JVP and Richard Falk come to mind.)

Two recent incidents that bear this out might provide a glimmer of hope that incidences of stereotroping toward Jews might be punished in the public sphere with the same level of punition that offenses leveled at other subgroups are punished.

The first is Carey Purcell’s stereotrope-laden lament about dating Jewish men, which invited an almost immediate ferocious backlash of ridicule from almost all corners of the Twitterverse, leaving her defenders few and far between; when her editor weighed in defense of running the piece, she similarly invited ridicule.

Was this level of dogpiling disproportionate?  Possibly; however, the value of the backlash serving as a cautionary tale outweighed the immediate probative value of the actual response to the actual offense: people will be more careful, even if ever so slightly.   Consider Ms. Purcell’s likely career prospects, forever be defined by this piece and the backlash, almost as the UVa fabrication in Rolling Stone indeilbly defines the career of author Sabrina Erdely.  Erdely, who won numerous journalism awards before her credibility was permanently shredded by the UVa piece, was made of much baser clay than Purcell and still has few options other than under the radar freelancing.  

(Purcell apologists might opine that she is no less redeemable than Judith Miller, forever remembered for the WMD reports at the NYT.  Consider, however, that Miller was scapegoated by the MSM and eventually found a home on the other side at Fox News.  Purcell would have to do one of two things to resurrect her career, neither being likely:  as she does not yet harbor a personal level of Judeomisia to go full on far-right  bigot and sign up with the truly Jew hater blogosphere.  If she tried to play the #MeToo card and join the intersectional movement, she might be as forcefully ejected from that movement as Kevin Spacey was when he tried to “come out” after his harassment career came to light, if the almost universal ridicule Purcell got from even the left is any indication.)

The second incident—comparably minor, but still noteworthy—was ESPN host Stephen A. Smith’s comment that top QB prospect Josh Rosen, "according to my sources, would prefer to be in New York. He’s Jewish, there’s a stronger Jewish community, he’d rather be in the New York market than the Cleveland market, blah blah blah. We don’t know, but it’s some of the things that we’ve heard.” 

In theory, this doesn’t even approach the level of offense and/or stereotyping that Purcell engaged in, and there have certainly been more actual moments of offense to Jews in the sports world recently, from Chargers radio color man Hank Bauer’s one-game suspension for aiming a “Jews are miserly” joke at his play-by-play announcer (for which he was sincerely penitent) to the antisemitic Twitterverse weighing in on Ryan Braun’s 65-game PED suspension.  Plus, as of now, Smith’s co-host Max Kellerman doesn’t seem to have weighed in on the statement, and Kellerman is trustworthy when it comes to these issues: he once uttered the immortal adage, on the air: “There are no self-hating Jews.  There ARE Jewish antisemites." 

Smith should be made aware of a few things, even if sotto voce and off camera, that might make him more sensitive to why his rant resembles stereotyping: he added a bit of a conspiratorial cast, which is an oft-used tactic in the arsenal of Jew-baiters; and he implied—even if inadvertently—that the was something illegitimate about his ostensible desire to join a jewish community, as if granting that desire would be grossly unfair to the Browns.  

Smith could also be reminded that Blue Jays GM Gordon Ash traded Shawn Green to the Dodgers after taking into account Green’s desire for a larger Jewish community.  As far as Cleveland having a Jewish community—and the fact that the Cavs once had a very prominent proudly Jewish coach—I’ll let the Jews in Cleveland do the reminding.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Postmodern Children’s Crusade: or, Hogging the Narrative

It appears that every recent incident of mass shooting in the US ostensibly brings the country closer to that Isaiac eschatological moment where the Second Amendment will go the way of other insults to the Constitution enshrined in the document, analogous—however tenuously—to slavery and Prohibition.

The Parkland massacre could have been that moment.  The spectacle of teenagers in pain taking on the perceived “gun culture” and ostensible “Gun Lobby” might have served as an effective, and credible, opening salvo in the battle for moral high ground.

Then they immediately blew it. 

Not that they didn’t do it without help, or even initially willingly: the public appearance onstage with Sheriff Scott Israel proved right away that the outrage directed at the NRA was already selective, once his Broward County department was proven to have been malevolently incompetent on several levels regarding both departmental policy towards student criminality leading up to the massacre and the Keystone Kops-like bungled response in real time.

Then, in executing the walkout—which in and of itself resembled more a scene from Rock And Roll High School rather than On The Waterfront—the public association with certain forces and personages promoting the intersectionalitarian agenda further confirmed suspicions that this was now a postmodern Children’s Crusade that was either influenced by a not atypical teenage ADHD, or coopted by less-than-well-meaning “adults” with a whole different set of political interests.

Ryan Petty—father of a Parkland victim—further gave the lie to the notion that this postmodern Children’s Crusade was now driven less by a specific issue but more millennial social media protocol.  Petty instead proved how one could make a tangible and practical legislative difference by lobbying discreetly in Tallahassee for said changes, without necessarily having to publicly declare for a side in the culture wars first.

There is a Talmudic principle that states—loosely translated—“you gather too much, you gather nothing”.   No matter who is ultimately responsible for Hogging this narrative, it has been turned from a salient issue—how to prevent school shootings—into another cultural battle far beyond even Constitutional implications.  As a result, a ton of ground in the narrative battle has now been ceded back to the allies of the NRA who might ascribe to a loose analog of ostensibly right wing intersectional imperatives; specifically, the declared movement for disarmament now openly allies with terrorsplainers and others who have no problems with exempting SJWs and other revolutionists from disarming, thereby invalidating any further discussion of or reference to the Second Amendment irrespective of the debates around its history and proper application.

Finally, there have been complaints emerging from some quarters that criticizing these kids is unfair because, after all, they’re just kids.  No one should be subject to online threats and/or harassment regardless of age, but no one who engages thorny issues in a public forum and employs ad hominem attacks in said fora must prepare to get as good as they give, again regardless of age, and not complain about it.  Limits are appropriate; “blankets bans” are unsupportable.

Sort of like the Second Amendment.

There might be one life lesson that the high schools that encouraged these kids to walk out of haven’t taught them yet, one especially pertinent in the age of social media and which might yet justify preserving some of public education resources threatened by Betsy DeVos’ DOE:

Don’t dish it out if you ain’t gonna do the dishes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Nuts And Bolts of Bolton Making 'em Nuts (and other stories)

In 1970 the eminent sociologist Peter Berger penned the influential “On the Obsolescence of the Concept of Honor”, concluding that “the ethical test of any future institution and the codes of honor they entail will be whether they succeed in [] stabilizing the discoveries of human dignity [.]”

Not long after, in 1971, the Harvard behaviorist B.F. Skinner published “Beyond Freedom and Dignity”, in which Skinner argued that that “entrenched belief in free will and the moral autonomy of the individual (which Skinner referred to as "dignity") hinder[ed]” prospects of the effective use of scientifically-based behavior modification.

More recently, the appointments of former Bush administration officials John Bolton and Gina Haspel to Cabinet-level positions in the Trump Administration and the recent declassification of the 2007 Israeli operation that wiped out Syria’s nascent nuclear reactor brought questions of honor and dignity to the fore once again.  The Cabinet appointments revived debates about the ethics and legalities of "enhanced interrogation" and the assumed unequivocal concomitant affronts to human dignity; one of the explanations for Israel’s operational opacity a decade ago was tied to the “honor culture” of the Middle East: as former IDF spokesman Peter Lerner wrote, “[b]y not disrespecting and publicly humiliating Assad, Israel played a game of chess that ensured victory, destroyed the reactor, and prevented a regional fall out.”

What might be deduced from these events is that the concepts of both honor and dignity have been distorted far beyond their actual meanings, and have been employed by both well-meaning and less-than-well-meaning actors in what might might be nothing less than a political form of gaslighting: that one is duty bound to afford honor and dignity to adversaries that have eschewed those concepts, while insisting that one is unequally bound to the concepts’ true definition.

In fact, the “honor” that Berger discusses--tied, in a Burkean sense, to the stability of institutions--resembles much less the era of Cervantes referred to in "Obsolescence" more than it does the “diss culture” imported from the Scotch-Irish Highlands to the American South as detailed most memorably by Fox Butterfield’s examination of the Boskets (and, in a lesser sense, the critical—if subtly so—attitude toward the culture depicted in The Offspring’s 1994 hit “Come Out And Play”.)  Cultures so "honor"-bound should not be considered the least bit worthy of preservation.

Additionally, while Skinner would have like nothing more than to obsolesce both honor and dignity in favor of effective “cultural engineering”, his definitions of dignity was nevertheless both accurate and precise.  Ironically, a possibly "Skinnerian" approach to interrogation might allow more for maintaining the integrity of "dignity", as opposed to more conservative if holistic notions of "moral repugnance" that might indicate for a more right of center based discomfort with the use of aggressive interrogative techniques.  A response in defense of aggressive interrogation then becomes that much more bipartisan.

There are those who complain that Bolton’s and Haspel’s appointments highlight the failure to reckon with failings of the Bush administration and their ostensible cavalier attitude towards “enhanced interrogations”, which also are assumed to be “torture” that ipso facto “violate standards of humanity”.  They are correct about the delayed reckoning, but for reasons in direct opposition to theirs: despite the efforts of John Yoo and others, the ethics and efficacy of clinically applied enhanced interrogation techniques were never appropriately delineated, partly because of reflexive "repugnance", partly because of the stupidity of Abu Ghraib and the ensuing fallout.

If one examines just a few isolated techniques—prolonged standing positions, sensory deprivations and/or overloads, cultural humiliations (e.g. interrogation by females), and even waterboarding—the notion that any of these are especially “cruel and unusual” and/or “direct affronts to human dignity” are well-nigh laughable.  As long as any form of warfare is conducted with the use of firearms and high explosives; as long as there is a penal system in its current form; as long as capital punishment is legal—there are so many more obvious direct affronts to human dignity that ostensible insults portended by the aforementioned interrogative techniques pale in comparison. 

Furthermore, the notion that these techniques shouldn’t even be attempted because they “won’t work” rest on two specific fallacies.  The first is historical: the Enlightenment figures (Beccaria foremost among them) who proffered the notion that all a torture victim wants is for the pain to cease--and will therefore say anything to stop it--were referring mostly to cases of ecclesiastical torture, the object of which was to coerce certain metaphysical statements that could never be objectively confirmed.  Conversely, contemporary “victims”  involved in and informed about specific, verifiable activity universally determined to be especially heinous according to standards that are anything but theological might actually be motivated to speak truthfully under pain of extreme discomfort, to avoid further punishment for a proven false assertion given under duress.

The second fallacy might be more difficult to counter directly, because there are always ethical issues involved with the scientific study of humans; an ethical method of gauging the effectiveness of a clinically applied, more humane aggressive interrogation technique is, for lack of a better term, a minefield.  Yet, Betty Ford once said that Roe got abortion out of the back alleys and into hospitals where it belonged; enhanced interrogation could benefit from a clinical setting, likely where military sciences are studied.

To determine eligibility for interrogation, a need for a very high bar would be called for, analogous to suggestions that capital punishment would require guilt beyond any doubt rather than reasonable doubt.  It might be plausible that, even if certain techniques were eventually found to be technically legal, the standard of proof might yet be too high to apply them in practice; still, the mere threat of having these techniques on the books would serve as another possible counter to threats to the public order.

It should also be noted that the clinical and limited application of these techniques should serve as an effective rejoinder to those inclined to complain about these techniques serving as an effective recruiting tool for terrorists while possibly “making us like them”.  The ostensible plausibility of that assertion far outpaces its actual validity, for several reasons.  

First, no one is motivated to take up terrorism in that part of the world when the motivation is to redress the violation of Western standards of human rights, which are not regarded as the least bit relevant.  The images of “torture” might possibly be any extra catalyst toward attitude hardening, but they are hardly ever a salient motivator when theofascist heretomisia is societally ingrained.

Second, while the preciously unfettered use of all sorts of techniques my have presented a PR problem which might be too thorny to solve—because it might preclude clinical study and application—it further points to the civilizational differences between the West and its enemies: the West will always take these concepts into account; their enemies will not; the difference will therefore always be present.

Finally, it bears mentioning that it isn’t the terrorists or their facilitators who actually believe that the analog is credible; a, if not the, major reasons they employ terrorism as a tactic is due to a  wholesale rejection of any Western moral standard.  However, Western multicultural intersectionalitarians who are either nonjudgmental of or outright sympathetic to the ostensible grievances and tactics of terrorists are at best inconsistent, and at worst hypocritical, when they attempt to draw the analog that would “make us like them”.  

A clinical application of enhanced interrogation under heavily scrutinized conditions as a defensive tactic should further give the lie to the attempted "we'll be just like them!!!" analog, especially when at least some of the fault-finders would be hard pressed to disavow any empathy for honor culture.  In fact, those who force the analog should be repeatedly and maybe publicly challenged to support aggressive military activity that would facilitate the kind of civilizational makeover that might be as warranted for contemporary honor cultures as they were for Germany and Japan in 1945.

By extension, it should be noted that in Israel’s—and Lerner’s—case, no criticism is warranted for taking Middle Eastern “honor culture” into account when planning for action against and subsequent responses from sworn mortal enemies of the Jewish State and people.  As one small political entity—no matter how influential beyond its size and numbers—Israel is not to be held responsible for the “hearts and minds” of nefarious entrenched cultural tendencies that pervade its neighborhood; the fact that they have to deal with what’s there does not mean that they condone the culture in the least.  

The irony is, what is considered to be one of the worst—if not THE worst—humiliations in the Middle East is suffering any type of perceived defeat and/or subjugation to Jews; overturning “honor culture” in the most poetic sense would call for said culture to be made over BY Jews.  However, as logistics--at the very least--for the most part prevent that, the work will need to be done by the “bigger kids on the block”, while others pressure honor culture’s erstwhile enablers to choose sides, even at the point of painful coercion.