January 14, 2016

I imagine that tonight’s Republican presidential debate will feature more of the casual immorality bandied about in the last debate by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (transcript here). “Toughness” means carpet bombing, nuclear weapons, teaching a lesson by murder, and the indiscriminate slaughter of children.

Last month Wolf Blitzer recounted Ted Cruz’s remark that he would "carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion," and find out if "sand can glow in the dark." Second things first: “glow in the dark” is a euphemism for the use of nuclear weaponry.  

Cruz went on to obfuscate what he means by “carpet bomb.” Blitzer then followed up with this:

BLITZER: Thank you. To be clear, Senator Cruz, would you carpet bomb Raqqa, the ISIS capital, where there are a lot of civilians, yes or no?

CRUZ: You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops. You use air power directed -- and you have embedded special forces to direction the air power. But the object isn't to level a city. The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists.

But as Politifact explained, Cruz’s explanation is the opposite of what carpet bombing means. Politifact went to the experts:

" ‘Carpet bombing’ typically refers to bombing a defined area without discriminating between targets," said Lance Janda, a military historian at Cameron University.

Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, concurred. "It implies the use of mass, conventional air-strikes not directed against specific targets, delivered with sufficient intensity to completely cover -- 'carpet’ -- an area," he said.

One of the night’s toughest questions came from a citizen:

JOSH JACOB, COLLEGE STUDENT: I'm Josh Jacob from Georgia Tech. Recently Donald Trump mentioned we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law.

So my question is, how would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?


BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: We have to be much tougher. We have to be much stronger than we've been. We have people that know what is going on. You take a look at just the attack in California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on.

They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.

When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia.

They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television. I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families' lives.

It was reported in December that one of the San Bernadino shooters’ mother was being investigated by the FBI for what she might have known before the rampage. She is a long time resident of California. Is Trump advocating that the government should simply kill someone like her? He wouldn’t come right out at the debate and say that, but he’d be “much tougher” and “very, very firm with the families.” Would a president of the United States order the killing of innocent family members? What’s the age cutoff? How close a relative? What if the relative is a United States citizen?

The toughness debate arrived at Dr. Ben Carson, who evaded it but note the question from radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt:

HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We're talking about ruthless things tonight -- carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

Translation: Could you order the killing thousands of innocent children like a tough Republican M-A-N, or are you a wuss?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We proclaim this as our creed but renounce it in time of peril? Does it not apply to family members, children, innocents? In his Address in Independence Hall in Philadelphia President-elect Abraham Lincoln stated:

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here, and framed and adopted that Declaration of Independence. I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army who achieved that Independence. I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland; but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men. This is a sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

Cruz and Trump would do well to remember that they are campaigning to occupy the seat once held by Lincoln.

Fox News debate, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Ben Carson

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