Friday, December 12, 2014


The new National Anthem.

•   I have treated this week's torture revelations as comedy, which is how I treat most of the buffoonery within my jurisdiction. Also as usual, the comedy is of a grim sort because the stupidity and venality of my subjects has far-reaching effects on real people, whether it's the snake-oil salesmen who want to rid us of national health care for our own good, or the psychopaths who have rushed to defend the gruesome torture of individuals who (it cannot be said often enough, or by these psychos at all) were often innocent and were in any case human beings. I feel bad for the victims, but also -- and I hope you will excuse my unchecked privilege in saying so  -- I feel just plain bad. When I was boy, back in the days of the vo-de-ville and horseless carriages, they told me ours wasn't the kind of country that did that. It's been a long time since I believed it -- hell, even a trimmer like Peter Beinart doesn't believe it -- but I have to admit it shook me a bit to see nearly every conservative in America run to proclaim hell yeah, we torture, what's wrong with torture? At least they trouble to lie about racism -- the tribute virtue pays to vice and all that -- but they're proud of torture. The days when children saw their country in Sands of Iwo Jima is over, and the day when they see it in Starship Troopers is upon us. Better hang onto yourself; in this country morality isn't even valued as a loss leader anymore.

•  Oh holy jumping Jesus, Jonah Goldberg is writing about torture. After several grafs of what-is-torture from someone who probably would start naming names if you took away his appetizer, Goldberg offers this rhetorical masterpiece:
One of the great problems with the word “torture” is that it tolerates no ambiguity. It is a taboo word, like racism or incest. Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end. It’s a line no one may cross.
Like incest! Sure, I'm fucking my daughter, but let's talk shades of gray. For one thing, she's really sexy.
The problem is that the issue isn’t nearly so binary. Even John McCain — a vocal opponent of any kind of torture — has conceded that in some hypothetical nuclear ticking-time-bomb scenario, torture might be a necessary evil. His threshold might be very high, but the principle is there nonetheless.
This is similar to Goldberg's stock everyone-believes-in-censorship argument: If you were starving and shit was the last thing on earth and you would eat it, that means you believe in eating shit, hurr hurr fart. I would love to see McCain's reaction to Goldberg personally laying out this argument -- or saying this:
When John McCain was brutally tortured — far, far more severely than anything we’ve done to the 9/11 plotters —
Well, mostly, anyway.
— it was done to elicit false confessions and other statements for purposes of propaganda. When we tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was to get actionable intelligence on ongoing plots. It seems to me that’s an important moral distinction.
Under torture, KSM gave up the names of two guys who had nothing to do with anything; the CIA hauled them in and jailed them till they eventually figured out they had nothing to do with anything. Mission accomplished and morality established! (None of this is to speak of how torture, non-binary or not, squares with whatever religious bullshit Goldberg pretends to believe in.) Listening to Goldberg defend the indefensible is not as much fun as listening to him defend the technically defensible so badly that it looks indefensible, but we take our yuks where we can.


  1. susanoftexas11:12 AM

    Our country sanctifies suffering, as we must since we inflict so much of it on others.

  2. And I got locked up for a week for trying to kill myself. Maybe I'm not the crazy one.

  3. Helmut Monotreme11:16 AM

    I see now. The bill of rights should be interpreted as some kind of sarcastic nod to the values of a civilized society, not as part of the foundational document for the US government and a check on it's powers.

  4. LittlePig11:24 AM

    Ah, the classic Republican response: "Fuck you buddy. I got mine'.

  5. susanoftexas11:28 AM

    When everything they do is designed to inflict pain on someone (else), you have to wonder if hurting others is the point.

  6. Giant Monster Gamera11:29 AM

    After which they beat you with a stick, just because.

  7. coozledad11:35 AM

    What we've lost is the even the pretense of decency. We were never all that, but since we said we were we had to make some gestures every now and then to put shit right.

    This is what circling the drain looks like.

  8. Brother Yam11:47 AM

    The days when children saw their country in Sands of Iwo Jima is over, and the day when they see it in Starship Troopers is upon us.

    That follows since Heinlein was a screaming Libertarian

  9. Brother Yam11:48 AM

    As my MIL says, "Offer it up to Jesus."

  10. It's an ugly country, a bug country.

    Do You Want to Know More?

  11. It was a short hop and skip from "Greed is Good" to "TORTURE, FUCK YEAH!"

  12. Cato the Censor12:06 PM

    Finding virtue in pathological behavior. Dear Mr. Reactionary: your totalitarian slip is showing.

  13. As NRA Ayn Rand Jesus said, "Make the little children suffer."

  14. John Wesley Hardin12:07 PM

    The bad news is, you're still in an asylum.

  15. Helmut Monotreme12:15 PM

    Did you read the linked article? From The Von Mises Institute no less? Let me quote the final sentence for you "Whether he was personally a libertarian or not, all those of us who are libertarians owe him a profound debt for writing The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. For that book alone, Robert A. Heinlein has earned a place in the libertarian tradition." He wrote a few books that had libertarian themes. His political history is quite a bit more complex, and to call him a screaming libertarian because of those books is quite a reach.

  16. coozledad12:16 PM

    Part of the dochstosselgende lurching up out of the Vietnam fuckup.

    The right's just laying for a chance to start torturing people into compliance with their vision of a last days extractionist state. And they've got a couple million goobers willing to do it.

  17. LookWhosInTheFreezer12:20 PM

    The saddest part is that we've been given almost screenwritten-perfect events for that ideal teaching moment on this stuff in recent years, and in every case the result has been the exact opposite response that one would hope for. People are more certain that the police treat both races equally after witnessing the Brown/Garner tragedies. People have doubled-down on denying Healthcare to their fellow Americans, despite numerous accounts about how many suffering people are helped by the ACA. People are salivating at the prospect of making the lives of the poor/minorities even worse and are even more certain that doing so is the silver bullet to turning around the economy and giving everyone a pony because Free Market something something, despite the fact that the previous cuts have done nothing of the sort. In a word: ugh.

  18. The most revealing part about this has been how quickly conservatives dropped the libertarian pretense and the "Bush who?" and reverted back to their primal authoritarian state. Basically, they're all for freedom when they can make a point off it, but put a good scare in them and they run back to daddy. Great example in fucking Goldberg - the same man who argued that smoking bans in restaurants is a sign of creeping fascism (because even if it's petty, it's still intrusive, and that's unacceptable) is now telling us that torture is acceptable, because it wasn't that bad, really. Normally there'd be a joke here, but it's so fucking nauseating that I think I'll pass.

    At this point, I'm not even sure what to make of this philosophy of theirs. Ten years ago, during the "Bush who?" years, we would have called this jingoism. But is it really? Most of these guys don't seem to like this country that much, and they sure as shit don't like the people who live here. These days, so much of what passes for conservatism seems more like somewhat organized misanthropy, a heady mix of fear and fury with just enough direction to point it at someone.

  19. tigrismus12:26 PM

    It seems to me that’s an important moral distinction.

    Jesus, these damn hippie liberals and their moral relativism.

  20. Kevin Hayden12:30 PM

    Torture is burning military targets in Atlanta, silly, not freezing someone to death in some other country. That's why we have to bring Sherman to justice.

  21. Except it isn't people who believe or do those things, it's the loud little handful. The voices in the conservative echo chamber really want to believe that they speak for the people, but they don't. People haven't decided to gut the ACA, a handful of dipshit politicians have. People don't think We Are All Equal Now, that's a bunch of bloggers and pundits with a vested interest in stoking rage. Don't fall into that misanthropic trap of assuming that these guys speak for everyone - that doesn't do anyone any good at all.

  22. mortimer200012:32 PM

    I'm with you, Roy. When I was a bairn, I bought into the entire America is the best schtick drilled into me by nuns and the teevee -- we were the most moral, most compassionate, most just, etc. It was so ingrained that when I first learned about universal healthcare in other countries, I naively assumed that, once Americans discovered how much more beneficial it would be for our own citizens, we would create the best universal healthcare system in the world, because we don't settle for anything less than the best of everything. Needless to say, several obscene wars, unrelenting racism, and decades of right-wing ugliness have not only eroded this blind faith, but incinerated any vestige of it. As the right-wing proceeds to turn us back into serfs and savages, feeling "just plain bad" is really the only way left to feel. All the same, maybe it's just muscle memory at this point, but I retain a calloused optimism in my dotage. I'm just grateful that my soul has grown cataracts.

  23. P Gustaf12:33 PM

    Don't forget executing schizophrenic and mentally challenged inmates.

  24. So the Swans won the contest?

  25. Roy: Better hang onto yourself; in this country morality isn't even valued as a loss leader anymore

    As the lady said, it's "an age of whoredom,
    Of sharp sword-play and shields clashing,
    A wind-age, a wolf-age till the world ruins:
    No man to another shall mercy show."

    On the plus side, I believe the prophecy calls for Jonah Goldberg to choke on his own vomit when he attempts to consume the Cheetoh Mountain of Destiny.

  26. DN Nation12:37 PM

    Sweet jumpin' Tebow on a 3rd and short, how many more times does it have to be explicitly and simply laid out to belching wingnut oafs that TORTURE DOESN'T EVEN WORK AS A METHOD OF INTERROGATION?,_Part_II_%28episode%29

    Shit, it was even the entire point of one of Star Trek:TNG's finer episodes. Isn't Goldberg supposed to be the Kewl Kid on pop culture over at the NRO?

  27. "When we tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was to get actionable intelligence on ongoing plots."

    Is this even true? I'm not far into reading the report, but we tortured Zubaydah, not to obtain threat intel, but to prove that he had no more threat intel to yield. (Very clever marketing by the Mengeles that CIA had hired to run things - if they defined success as obtaining intel, that would leave open room for failure.)

  28. mortimer200012:39 PM

    I can say this with authority: Jonah Goldberg thinks Taxi to the Dark Side is about a cab that goes above 110th St.

  29. whetstone12:40 PM

    Even John McCain — a vocal opponent of any kind of torture — has
    conceded that in some hypothetical nuclear ticking-time-bomb scenario,
    torture might be a necessary evil.

    While we're considering hypotheticals, let's say there was no ticking-time-bomb and the CIA committed a morally abhorrent, illegal set of war crimes and showed mercy only to their own fuck-up agents, while generating bad information that led to the torture of innocents. Oh, and then they lied to the country about it.

    Hypothetically, should we disband the entire organization and shoot John Brennan into the sun? There's obviously a taboo about launching human beings into the sun, but it might be a necessary evil.

  30. Tengrain12:40 PM

    After several grafs of what-is-torture from someone who probably would start naming names if you took away his appetizer...

    I think you just won the innernets.



  31. DN Nation12:41 PM

    The smallest of slights- that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying recreational sex, for one- forms the America they hate. The horrible shit- torture, racism, inequality- forms the America they love. These people suck.

  32. Pass the word to Our President, please.

  33. susanoftexas12:42 PM

    NRO is distilled conservative essence, angry, greedy, stupid people shut out of normal society by their awfulness, who think that if they talk fast and long enough they can pass for human while destroying everything around them.
    They do nothing but provide cover for the few people who can afford to buy an angry mob to get them what they want.
    Everyone already knows this, and that the real enemy is the backers, and that Republicanism as it's now practiced is a farce. But when we admit that we also have to turn around and explain why Obama didn't prosecute anyone. The omission is too glaring.
    I used to feel bad but I don't anymore. We know why people do what they do. We know the huge weaknesses in the conservative mindsets. We know how to manipulate them.
    And the worse things get, the less we have to lose and the more free we become. Sadly, then we will finally find what we are looking for--the easing of fear, the sense of belonging, the united purpose.
    That's one of the reasons why conservatives like to inflict suffering, after all. Guilt and shared voyeurism brings us together like nothing else.

  34. Roy is quoting Doughbob Pantload's lie.

  35. LookWhosInTheFreezer12:52 PM

    I don't think they speak for everyone. But I guess I'm just surprised by how many people that I would have thought smarter than that and who I would have thought had enough empathy to reject idiotic policies that are so blatantly just about poor-shaming, who consistently fall for the con. The amount of "Ferguson has nothing to do with race" posts I saw from people who I assumed knew better, was a real eye-opener.

  36. coozledad12:57 PM

    And what a splendid opportunity for a Floyd reunion at Cape Canaveral!

  37. Except it isn't people who believe or do those things, it's the loud little handful.At some point, though, it's people who vote Mark Udall out of the Senate in favor of some rancid theocratic bag of pig shit who has publicly suspected Democrats of "politicizing" torture.

  38. Brother Yam1:03 PM

    Guilty as charged and I apologize for hyperbole. His weird obsessions military service/civic rights is where I lost some respect for him. I loved Starship Troopers as a kid, but upon another read later in life, it creeped me out. Like Orson Scott Card creeped me out.

  39. susanoftexas1:06 PM

    My long-time prophecy is that he will be eaten by an angry mob he was unable to outrun.

  40. Don't forget "Sisters' sons defiled with incest," which Jonah tells us is something of an ambiguous area.

  41. yes, this, all these comments.

  42. Shorter Jonah: I see no problem with rectal feeding!


  43. Bizarro Mike1:19 PM

    This is how I came to accept the idea that they want torture because they find it sexually gratifying. At first, I thought that idea was absurd, but as time wore on and all the evidence came out that torture was ineffective, the pragmatic "but we had to torture because we really needed to" line was revealed as bullshit. The lack of realignment in people's positions leaves only the possibility that they want torture because they like it. It's part of them. It is who they are.

  44. Ellis_Weiner1:27 PM

    To be in denial about X is to affirm, however semi-consciously, anti-X. Imagine a middle class (or lower class) Republican presented with the info and proof that his enemy is not, in fact, liberals or Hollyweird or Obama, but the Kochs and Waltons. Imagine how helpless it would feel to grasp that.

    No wonder they deny and deflect and shout idiocies, and swear Rush Is Right and unions are a threat to America. It's easier in their minds to oppose the (false, imaginary) enemies as cited by Fox News than to look at big corporations and a bent Supreme Court. It's obvious how powerful and untouchable their real enemies are. No wonder they'd rather rail against fantasy ones.

  45. Yes, it is unfair to cut off debate by calling torture torture or fucking your daughter incest.

    Instead we should cut off debate by saying the loving consensual union between two people of the same gender is the express freeway to the end of civilization; women who exercise control over their bodies are murderers; police shooting unarmed men and boys and getting away with it is the same as non-police who kill people who go to jail...

  46. It also separates the sociopaths from those with moral qualms- if someone is capable of shoving a hose up a screaming captive's ass , they are capable of anything. Sadly, it's the sociopaths that they want.

  47. They really believe that consent and agency for minorities lead to the end of civilization. If the white male authoritarians lose their grip, it's all over!

  48. tigrismus1:35 PM

    Apparently only some slopes are slippery, and they'll let us know which.

  49. dstatton1:39 PM

    The key to understanding Goldberg is that he just doesn't give a shit, whether writing about the poor, the nonwhites, the victims of Katrina, or the tortured. There's not an ounce of humanity in his writing. His feints to decency are transparently faked.

  50. dstatton1:42 PM

    Actionable intelligence is a cover. They like the idea of torturing certain people.

  51. LookWhosInTheFreezer1:42 PM

    One has to draw the line (for inclusion on my list, I mean) somewhere.

  52. "Blackmail is such a nasty word. Shall we call it, swordfish?"

  53. montag21:46 PM

    By now, I'm quite sure that he pauses when he writes something over-the-top stupid, and thinks, "hmm, I must add a qualifier here somewhere, just for effect, but I'm stumped as to what it should be. Maybe the intern will think of a suitable one." Or some such.

  54. swkellogg1:46 PM

    "When John McCain was brutally tortured — far, far more severely than anything we’ve done to the 9/11 plotters it was done to elicit false confessions and other statements for purposes of propaganda. When we tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it was to get actionable intelligence on ongoing plots. It seems to me that’s an important moral distinction."

    Because attempting to manipulate American public opinion in attempt to curtail things like Rolling Thunder could never have been about life or death consequences for the North Vietnamese.

    So much for the moral high ground fartman.

  55. Helmut Monotreme1:48 PM

    Fair enough. It's hard to know, I prefer to imagine that it was like "Fight Club", a satire of fascism without a laugh track.

  56. Giant Monster Gamera1:49 PM

    I don't see why he would. That's where his head is.

  57. dstatton1:51 PM

    Just a hint of self awareness. Perhaps that's why, although his writing is worthless, he's an interesting specimen, compared to the other dolts at NRO.

  58. dstatton1:52 PM

    So how can McCain's torture be more severe, when he's, you know, still alive? Quite a few of the detainees didn't make it.

  59. sharculese1:53 PM

    "Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end. It’s a line no one may cross."

    That is the idea, yes.

  60. The success of SIASL and his popularity in the 60s' meant that hIs stuff wasn't edited much, and it shows in TMIAHM.

  61. montag22:05 PM

    Too funny, in a grim way. Jonah tries, mightily, to establish a moral divide between torturing for "false confessions" and "actionable intelligence," and yet, had he actually read the executive summary, he would have found that the main thrust of the early torturous interrogations was to elicit statements supporting the White House's reasons attacking and invading Iraq. Since those reasons were phony from the get-go, by definition, we were torturing people--often innocent people simply swept up by warlords for profit--to elicit false confessions.

    Of course, all this is meant to somehow manufacture a distinction where none, in fact, exists, since torture has existed since time immemorial to extract false confessions, to destroy minds and wills, to forcibly alter allegiances, and most of all, to exact revenge on men and ideas dangerous to the torturer's employers.

    So, once again, Jonah steps in the bucket, spins three times, trips over the cat and faceplants himself on the sacrificial altar of wingnut rhetorical fallacy.

  62. Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end. It’s a line no one may cross.

    Fuck you, Jonah, you turdchomper.

  63. Ubu Imperator2:07 PM

    Honest to God, I think Cleek's Law applies here. Dirty liberals, those hippies at the ACLU, and the furriners and one-worlders at the UN all oppose torture; ergo, as a conservative, I'm in favor of it! I really don't think it's a lot more complicated than that.

  64. Oh, and reasonable limits on magazine capacities and long-gun sales are, of course, "gun grabbing by jackbooted thugs".

  65. How about we just take away his keyboard (or better yet, his intern's keyboard) and see how that works out?

  66. GeniusLemur2:09 PM

    So if the CIA hauls Jonah Goldberg in and tortures him for months, I guess if they had reason to believe he had intelligence on terrorists, he's good with it?

  67. Jay B.2:10 PM

    One of the great problems with the word “torture” is that it tolerates no ambiguity

    I'm saying this honestly, conservatives are now looking for words that are LESS clear. Obviously the true job of any writer is to mystify and obscure. And liberals are morally relative.

    Pesky words that tolerate no ambiguity — or, put another way, accurately describe something — should be shunned immediately.

  68. They wanted revenge for 9/11; merely invading countries and killing people wholesale wasn't doing it for them, so they made people pay individually.

  69. I vote we just cut to the choking-on-vomit moment and skip the rest of it.

  70. BigHank532:13 PM

    Well, no. You see, the ugly truth is that torture does work. Not for gathering intelligence, no. But if what you want to do is suppress internal dissent, why, it works a treat! When that annoying reporter or irritating loudmouth professor suddenly disappears for six weeks, and when he turns up again he's thirty pounds lighter and he's got bandages on all his fingertips and he bursts into tears if he sees a DeWalt power drill....that's a mighty fine object lesson to anyone else who was thinking about stepping out of line, isn't it?

    It's no coincidence that running a finger down the list of wholesale torturers from history (the KGB, SAVAK, China, North Korea, Burma, East Germany, the Pinochet regime, the NKVD, the Contras, Pol Pot, apartheid South Africa, etc) they are, without exception, kleptocratic shitholes. To endorse the means is to endorse the end, and theft is so much easier when you can walk out with the goods in broad daylight, knowing that nobody will ever dare admit you were there.

  71. Professor Fate2:14 PM

    Very true. I remember pointing out to folks that torture does do one thing very well it get people to tell the torturers exactly what they want to hear using the example of folks confessing to flying to a witches Sabbath on a broom stick and marrying the devil.
    I do find it funny in black grim way that he's saying " but you say torture like it's a bad thing."
    The comet can't hit soon enough

  72. I learned a new word today: "incivism"

    n. 1. Lack of civism; lack of patriotism or love to one's country; unfriendliness to one's state or government.

    These people are incivists. Plain and simple. They hate their government and country, because it isn't being as vile and cruel as they think it should be, and cheer shit like this as the possibility of their fetid vision coming to pass. There should be an island somewhere we could deposit them on - preferably a glacier headed South, so when it slowly melts they could experience the charm and virtue of living up to their red-in-tooth-and-claw philosophy.

  73. "Snuff is a force that gives us meaning"

  74. tigrismus2:17 PM

    I guess if they had reason to believe he had intelligence

    Willing suspension of disbelief lost right here.

  75. Giant Monster Gamera2:17 PM

    The correct answer to that question is "9-11! 3000 Dead! Ticking time bomb!!"

  76. BigHank532:18 PM

    It's also important to remember the Heinlein was utterly dependent on his writing for income. It doesn't take too much research to show that there's an audience waving fistfuls of dollars for more novels about rugged freedom-loving individualists who regularly score with hot chicks.

  77. It's a combination of ignorance borne of repetitive FAUX shit, gerrymandering, massive political spending (via Citizens United) and the lack of interest in democracy that comes of hard times and cynicism.

    Posting this quote yet again, because:

    "In a monolithic state - and that's what Russia has been for centuries, under czars and commissars both - people never get used to influencing their government, and they don't miss it. But a democracy is different. Each of us has got to feel that we can influence events, no matter how slight the influence. When people start believing they can't they get frustrated, and angry. They feel helpless and they start going to extremes. [. . .] The trouble is that democracy works only when a good majority of citizens are willing to give thought and time and effort to their government." --President Jordan Lyman, Seven Days In May, by Fletcher Knebel & Charles W. Bailey II

  78. montag22:22 PM

    Makes one wonder if the entire positivism/optimism self-help movement wasn't just a plot to keep us plodding onward in the face of overwhelming disillusionment.

  79. Moon is reason enough to doubt his political philosophy.

    It's Atlas Shrugged written slightly more competently.

  80. Kind of like 9/11 for our times.

  81. billcinsd2:24 PM

    Gardner got basically the same number of votes (~980-990,000) as the Republican did in 2008 when Udall won easily. But those were definitely people voting

  82. swkellogg2:26 PM

    And this despite all that liberal media bias!

  83. Obviously the true job of any writer is to mystify and obscure.

    If Jonah (or any other given wingnut word whore) would read Orwell, instead of just citing what they think he said, he'd know goddamn well what the writer's job is, and why people like Pantload use words to obscure, and why it's a shill.

    "Politics And The English Language", Mr. Goldberg - fucking read it.

  84. smut clyde2:29 PM

    IIRC, the FBI interrogation team were making good progress when the CIA came along, grabbed the prisoner, and basically shut him up.

  85. billcinsd2:34 PM

    is above 110th St liberal code for Harlem?

  86. swkellogg2:34 PM

    Damn, and here I thought they were going to be the ones in the FEMA camps!

  87. swkellogg2:37 PM

    Jesus suffered for their sins.

    Now it's your turn.

  88. "We also have to turn around and explain why Obama didn't prosecute anyone."

    I think it's obvious why Obama ducked accountability for the torturers. Imagine if he had the Justice Dept. conduct a thorough 1n 2009? It would be wrong to limit it to low level operatives and once it starts, it would be difficult to control. We all know where it leads, it leads to Bush and Cheney, they have even confessed. Imagine the shit storm if Holder announced indictments of Bush and Cheney. How would the public react? How would the media? It would have consumed his presidency. Obama didn't want to go there and I can't really blame him.

  89. Even the part where just as Rupert Murdoch rises up and attempts to kill Rachel Maddow with his poisonous lich breath she takes her Vorpal Blade and stabs him through the, um - what do you call that place where his heart should be?

  90. zencomix2:48 PM

    Waterboarding Filipinos, 1902

  91. Tom Parmenter2:49 PM

    The notion of Jonah's intern is so meta it hardly sticks to the page.

  92. q.v. Mel Gibson's Jesus-torture porn.

  93. billcinsd2:51 PM

    So is

    Here I sit all broken-hearted
    came to shit but only farted

  94. billcinsd2:53 PM

    rugged freedom-loving individualists who regularly score with hot chicks.

    so Bill Clinton's biography

  95. His wallet?

  96. montag22:53 PM

    Ids are always lumpy, warty things with bad dispositions, but we're really diving headlong through the looking glass, hand-in-hand with ours, with this wingnut defense of torture.

    Even contrarianism--at least in saner times--had limits. One didn't advocate for the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents just because the voices in the mainstream condemned such. Today, people are being encouraged by those on the right to do exactly that--provided, of course, that the innocents are sufficiently distinguishable from themselves in some superficial way.

    Lard knows how many people in history, from Madison to Orwell, have warned against perpetual states of war, precisely for the reasons we now see being played out in the body politic. And make no mistake, war is the manifestation of the national id. That there is a profit motive driving it that is mostly unrecognized by general public makes it all the more insidious, because that, too, is a manifestation of the national id in a country that has been led to believe that democracy and freedom are indistinguishable from predatory capitalism.

    It's very depressing, and not amenable to practical advice or solutions. There's a line in Eric Hoffer's The True Believer, on the necessity of resistance, that, paraphrased, admits that sometimes the zealotry is so extreme, so mindless in its headlong rush to nihilism, that sometimes, the best course of action is to just step aside and let it go by, rather to be steamrollered by it.

    We're less able to do that when the national and state legislatures are filling up with the national id, rather than the national superego.

  97. "When John McCain was brutally tortured — far, far more severely than anything we’ve done to the 9/11 plotters."
    OBJECTION: Contains facts not in evidence.

    Did McCain even have "a little water splashed on his face" let alone "rectal hydration" and besides, if they were to get some actionable intelligence out of it or if it might save one Vietnamese life . . . Is Jonah criticizing McCain's enhanced interrogation or justifying it, I can't tell.

  98. billcinsd2:55 PM

    no that's what his heart is

  99. smut clyde2:57 PM

    "anything we’ve done"
    "When we tortured"
    I predict you'll see a lot of this emphasis on complicity from the likes of NRO, reminding you that when the CIA tortured people in your name, they made you into torturers too.
    It seems to be an appeal to cognitive-dissonance reduction. The hope is to convince people that "Oh, we tortured prisoners... but we know we're good people... so torture must be a good thing to do."

  100. Does anyone have a link that describes McCain's enhanced interrogation? I don't think he claims to have been waterboarded and I doubt the rectal/naked/shit smearing thing was practiced by the Viets.* I think it would be informative for compare and contrast reasons.

    Is this just an American thing or have other groups done it?

  101. billcinsd3:02 PM

    or Patti Smith


  102. came to shit but only wrote a column.

  103. montag23:03 PM

    In Doughy's case, they're pretty much the same thing.

  104. Tom Parmenter3:08 PM

    My goodness, two outdated references to pay toilets in as many days.

  105. Tom Parmenter3:10 PM

    Neads moar Guiliani.

  106. smut clyde3:10 PM

    "Politics And The English Language"
    Widely read but as a How-to manual.
    Nothing else can explain the sheer shiteness of writing, the clown-car-pileups of cliches, the mangling of metaphors to remove any grounding in reality.

  107. petesh3:10 PM

    Don't overthink it, says Werner Erhard's old accountant

  108. billcinsd3:13 PM

    Hey now, I have never lived anywhere there were pay toilets and I have read this on the wall of a multi-user, collectively-provided toilet.

  109. billcinsd3:15 PM

    everybody knows Jonah has no intelligence. I suppose they could waterboard his readers, but really isn't reading Jonah a pretty high level of torture?

  110. mgmonklewis3:36 PM

    Oh, he's already aware that "we tortured some folks."

    You know. "Folks." Right before we resumed whittlin' on the porch and chatting amiably about the weather.

  111. HAH! You MSM dupe!

    Vorpal blades don't stab through the heart, they cut the head off! LIBTARD LIES EXPOSED

  112. mgmonklewis3:42 PM

    Ancient Rome calling on line 1:

    "Hey one more thing you guys. We made some mistakes. Well, a lot of mistakes. And don't get me wrong; we did a lot of good, too. But about those bad things we did? Some were really, really awful. Yeah. That bad. Anyway, all I'm saying is that if you're an imperial power that aspires to be a New Rome or whatever, you should beware not to —"

    [looks at torture report]

    "Jesus Christ, what the fk are you doing?! That's— Why— What sick kind of—"

    [turns; projectile vomits; makes sign to ward off evil]

  113. mgmonklewis3:43 PM

    Bill of Rights? Whatever.

  114. Tom Parmenter3:48 PM

    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

  115. Tom Parmenter3:49 PM

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

  116. mgmonklewis3:52 PM

    It's depressing how far we've gone down the road toward identity politics, rather than voting for issues, solutions, and self-government. Maybe it was always that way, just buried farther beneath the surface. These days though, you can predict how most people will react to any issue — even torture — by whether they have an R or a D by their name. It makes you feel a hollow pit in your soul when you realize that it would be easier to persuade an Auburn fan to cheer for Alabama than it would be to persuade a hardcore Republican that torture is still wrong.

  117. mgmonklewis3:56 PM

    Indeed, aren't some of the rationalizations that "torture is okay" because the people who were tortured were "barbarians"? And aren't the origins of the word "barbarian" in the Greek for "other" — in short, it's okay to torture people if they're the other?

    Maybe I'm seeing a pattern that isn't there, but there seems to be an uncomfortable link between the torture report and events like Ferguson, Missouri — and it has to do with asserting our collective id and defining ourselves by brutalizing The Other.

  118. Halloween_Jack4:13 PM

    See also: the American "justice" system.

  119. swkellogg4:13 PM

    I wouldn't necessarily say the impulse to torture is explicitly sexual, but it is equally as primitive.

    Good people look at their baser motivations as something to be mitigated, if not mastered.

    Conservatives look at them as something to be glorified.

  120. Chutney Marcotti4:24 PM


    Can we have a thread on Obama's drone program that kills innocent children so we can hone our fake outrage skills, just in case anyone blindsided us by asking where we've been on this issue? That way we can direct them here for verification.

  121. Halloween_Jack4:28 PM

    The ticking time bomb scenario really rests on a couple of comforting fantasies:

    - that bombs are basically just puzzles to be solved, rather than devices that pretty much will go off, once they're set, with very few exceptions. (Even when made by pros, they may go off way earlier than the makers expect; over a hundred members of the Provisional IRA were killed by premature bomb detonations during the Troubles.)

    - that, given a big enough potential catastrophe, anything and everything that you could possibly do is permissible, or, per Barry Goldwater, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" Thus, Abu Ghraib.

    Also, once again, this article on Joel Surnow and 24, which was hugely responsible for popularizing and rationalizing the ticking-time-bomb scenario, and how Surnow ignored direct advice from experts about the uselessness of obtaining information by torture.

  122. swkellogg4:33 PM

  123. satch4:33 PM

    "Perhaps that's why, although his writing is worthless, he's an interesting specimen, compared to the other dolts at NRO."

    Reasonable people can disagree...

  124. Fat Tony Scalia proves once again, as if any of us needed proof, that he's a total asshole:

    Washington (CNN) -- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says torture -- depending on the circumstances, like if a nuclear bomb was planted in Los Angeles -- isn't necessarily off limits.

    The justice who's been a mainstay of the high court's conservative wing for 28 years condemned the "self-righteousness of European liberals" who oppose torture "so easily" Friday in an interview with Swiss National Radio.

    "I don't think it's so clear at all," Scalia said.

    The whole article is a festival of Scaliaisms - he also frets about the Swiss failing to legislate a death penalty, and defends yet again money as free speech.

  125. satch4:36 PM

    All it will take is a President Ted Cruz and there'll be all the civism you can handle.

  126. Gromet4:38 PM

    I dunno, blaming it all on Surnow ignores 40 years of James Bond stopping the atomic time bomb at :007. The problem is an electorate that can't distinguish between cartoons intended to entertain and actual terrorism.

  127. Chutney Marcotti4:43 PM

    Copy quote.

    Paste quote.

    Every damn day. After day. After day.

  128. satch4:45 PM

    "People are more certain that the police treat both races equally after witnessing the Brown/Garner tragedies."

    Sure... who hasn't been pulled over by a cop and been asked in that snotty, condescending tone of voice: "Do you know why I stopped you?" It was JUST like that.

  129. montag24:46 PM

    This reminds me that it wasn't that long ago (1950) that Curtis LeMay relentlessly pushed for implementation of his plan for a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union with everything then in the arsenal, something like atomic bomb attacks on 130 cities in thirty days, with the only justification being that the Soviet Union had the potential to eventually become an adversary of approximate parity to the United States--and that potential eventuality constituted a catastrophe in and of itself.

    It shows the degree to which the imagination can and does run wild, ala "24."

  130. satch4:51 PM

    I'm sorry, was there a song there? I was too busy watching Pam Grier...

  131. Mr. Goldberg says "Once you call something torture, the conversation is supposed to end."

    I don't see how that's true at all. Ever since this torture report came out, there has been PLENTY of conversation about it. Using the word "torture" certainly doesn't end conversation, and I haven't seen anyone call for it to end.

    On the contrary, it's raised a lot of questions and created a great deal of discussion. Why does Jonah Goldberg say "the conversation is supposed to end?"

  132. Helmut Monotreme4:54 PM

    Sadly, Ancient Rome would have (and did) enthusiastically engaged in everything on the list. The Colosseum in Rome was not built for gardening expos. After Spartacus's slave revolt the Appian way was lined for hundreds of miles with crucified slaves. But that's not the point. Ancient Rome had no pretense of equality, no alleged commitment to liberty and no modern concept of the value of human life, and certainly never claimed to invade anywhere for their own good. So, good job Bush, Cheney & Co, profiting handsomely from reducing us to the moral level of the people who invented crucifixion.

  133. ken_lov4:58 PM

    The whole argument is a deliberate distraction. When they can produce a case of torture aimed at finding a ticking time bomb, we can consider whether torture was justified. Until then, let's concentrate on the purposes for which torture was actually used.

  134. mgmonklewis5:01 PM

    Well, exactly. It's depressing that instead of viewing Ancient Rome historically, we treated their worst aspects as a How-To Guide.

  135. tigrismus5:05 PM

    Scalia: "I think it is very facile for people to say 'Oh, torture is terrible,'"
    he said. "You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure
    knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los
    Angeles and will kill millions of people."


  136. satch5:06 PM

    Chris Matthews on Monday's edition of Hardball was asking his guests "If you could save thousands of lives by getting information out of a suspect, wouldn't you do anything to get it?" Basically, it was the Ticking Time Bomb Scenario buffed up a bit, but not one of his guests called him on it because they all bought in to the premise. Listening to Matthews is like Charles Pierce's "Five Minute Rule" referring to Rand Paul. Just when you think Matthews is starting to make sense, he starts veering off into Crazyworld.

  137. ken_lov5:06 PM

    "there was no ticking-time-bomb"

    The torture was aimed at finding out whether someone might be plotting to plant some time bombs, or at least thinking about plotting. Same thing as a ticking time bomb, if you passed Conservalogic 101.

  138. smut clyde5:09 PM

    TO be fair, it took all of 10 years to change "support for torture" from a frequent corollary of Republicanism (50% of members) to a purity-test requirement (70%).

  139. satch5:09 PM

    Sure... see Dick Cheney's "One Per Cent Doctrine".

  140. montag25:09 PM

    "Why does Jonah Goldberg say 'the conversation is supposed to end?'"

    Because, as usual, Doughy is unable to say what he really means, because the intention behind the words is too awful for consideration.

    What he means, of course, is that his tribe ought to be able to whinge about the absolute nature of torture, that it ought to be able to niggle and hair-split on torture's merits, that it ought to be able to apply cost/benefit analysis to torture. But, it's not allowed to do that because some librul ethicist says, "no, dingbat, torture is always what it is and no amount of prevarication changes its nature. It's always unacceptable."

    And then he ignores the ethical basis for condemning torture and goes right ahead trying to establish a cost/benefit relationship between torture and its presumed results. He's really fucking hopelessly, transparently dim.

  141. Like the Bible says, "committed adultery in your heart", so if you *think* about planting bombs it's just like you actually did (minus the earth-shattering kaboom, but details).

  142. smut clyde5:16 PM

    the conversation is supposed to end
    Just his roundabout way of complaining how people think torture is a bad thing, and the nerve of those anti-torture campaigners thinking they're all morally superior.

  143. It's fun to see the ones who're always whining about a lack of clear absolute morality on our side attempt to justify evil by a quick spray job and filing off the serial numbers.

  144. There was a case of some Palestinian bomberswho forgot to take into account the differences between Palestinian and Zionist time.

  145. TGuerrant5:16 PM

    Watched an HBO/BBC remake of a German film the other night - Conspiracy - a dramatization of the 1942 Wannsee Conference at which the SS laid out the Final Solution.

    What's shocking about this film about a meeting - what's meant to be shocking about it - is how mass murder had been thoroughly normalized. The 15 Nazis around the table have strong objections to the plan, not because it calls for the extermination of 11 million people, but because it offends some of their prerogatives. Wilhelm Stuckart, one of the authors of the Nuremberg Laws, is infuriated by revisions to how Jews are to be defined and fates assigned because it's an assault on his authorship. And so it goes around the table. The effects of sterilization x-ray dosages, the effects of carbon monoxide, the killing of children are only subjects of mirth. It's an efficient meeting, over in an hour.

    With the Senate report's release, the center-to-rightwing commentary strikes me as serving first and foremost to normalize. This is how America conducts itself now. Quibbling is inefficient. Bring on the drone porn. We are awesome.

  146. It's strange alright.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen criticism from the Right that accuses us of "moral relativism."

  147. The kind of thing that's not enjoyable, but is important. The "banality of evil" on full display.

  148. ken_lov5:23 PM

    SO GLAD someone else understands. It's like my philosophy teacher taught us, if you think you heard a tree fall in the forest then it totally fell! Or something like that, it wasn't in the test so I didn't pay that much attention.

  149. swkellogg5:25 PM

    Does doing "anything" include making daquiris, bowling or dynamite fishing?

    Seems a rather open-ended and frivolous approach if you ask me.

  150. MUHUAHWHWH or something, you've failed to recall the SATANIC REALITY embedded in D&D and the fact that vorpal blades there always go for the head! It's warlock approved, so 100% true! QED! Dilute soap! OK! OK!

  151. BigHank535:30 PM

    Not to mention that it's the stupidest argument ever. Even if you grant every single idiotic precondition (the bomb, the catured terrorist, torture actually working, etc) do you really think the commission of a felony is going to give the interrogator a lot of second thoughts? Now, if I break the law, I may have to go to jail and cross my fingers for a pardon. On the other hand, if I don't break the law, I will be radioactive ash along with everyone I know. Lemme think about this for a while..."

    Nobody gives a fuck about the terrorist in the time-bomb scenario. And torturing him isn't what they were asking for. They were asking for the power to torture anyone, anytime, on the merest suspicion that they might know something....and if they were innocent, well, hey. Tough cookies for you.

  152. It would also seem to include self-abuse as a antiterrorist tactic, wouldn't it, Mr. Matthews?

    "YOU CAN'T COME IN, MOTHER, I'M STUDYING! *wham wham wham wham*"

  153. ken_lov5:36 PM

    Hey people pay big money for colonic irrigation, surely reversing the flow of the hose can't be that big of a deal?

  154. billcinsd5:36 PM

    well he had eaten a bowl of Alpha Bits for breakfast

  155. Sanctifies it and trades in it!

    The suffering of others is a form of currency. You crush the soul out of them and trade non-suffering back as a way to extract whatever is left in them that you might like to have--information or the complete submission of their will. It's a kind of tradable wealth reserved also for a moral elite. A moral elite that alone understands with sufficient penetration and profundity (yes I meant to do that) how necessary to the salvation of the world these actions are, and therefore alone is entitled to the privilege of receiving and consuming the human sacrifice.

    My god, you wonder how much of this country's obsession with moral purity is an attempt to hide from the sight of its thieving, sordid and predatory soul. I'm pretty sure that that's what Nathanael Hawthorne was signaling wildly from the celestial railroad.

  156. montag25:46 PM

    Yup, which proves, I suppose, that good ideas come and go, but bad ideas are forever.

  157. billcinsd5:51 PM

    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

    no that was Jonah's afternoon snack

  158. Everyone is a moral relativist to a certain degree. Some justify doing a small wrong for a greater good, while others justify doing a great wrong if it makes their genitals tingle.

  159. Scalia is only against sodomy if it is consensual.

  160. So, an old fashioned ass beating and broken bones.

    I didn't mean to make light of what McCain went through, I was just lashing out at conservative hypocrisy. It shouldn't surprise that the only conservative to speak out against torture is the only one who experienced it. What's the cliche about conservatives and empathy?

  161. StringOnAStick6:42 PM

    I'm going to miss Udall, and absolutely loathe being represented by the rancid theocratic bag of pig shit. Needless to say, my weekly missives to my Senators are about to get a lot more heated.

  162. susanoftexas6:44 PM

    This ain't our first rodeo. We went through this before when Nixon was caught, when Reagan was caught, and now when Bush was caught. Each time the people responsible were caught but not punished.
    To say that we won't prosecute such people is a horrible abdication of responsibility. Yes, it's ugly and troublesome to prosecute crimes but you damn well better do it if you want your society to survive. By trying to preserve society you will destroy it. Ask the Catholic Church.
    What would have happened if Bush and Cheney were prosecuted? Yes, the right would have fought back but they always fight, no-holds-barred, because that is how you win. In the end we would have repudiated torture and lawlessness. Now we own them.
    So what's the real reason Obama didn't prosecute his elite brethren, the people and groups that put him in office, that will enrich him when he leaves office? The Billionaires' Club believes you are either with them or against them.

  163. StringOnAStick6:47 PM

    This is the scary thing about the people from the Millenials to younger: they've never known a time when government wasn't a train wreck courtesy of the rethugs. They have no evidence that government helps people much, and have been heavily FAUXigandized into believing their tax money goes for nothing that benefits them and that they have little influence on the process. Yes, they are socially liberal, but the attitude that government and democracy can be a force for good or is something they can have an impact on isn't accepted without a big pile of cynicism, and who can blame them.

  164. No doubt.

    Absolutism is always wrong.

  165. susanoftexas6:52 PM

    Supressing and dehumanizing women saves you money--you can steal their labor by devaluing it in the marketplace.
    Persecuting minorities we already know keeps down wages and installs fear in the middle class, keeping them in place.
    Torturing foreigners lets everyone see the iron fist underneath the capitalist glove. Trading becomes easier when they fear your armies and ruthlessness.
    Money, money, money. And we spend all our lives chasing it so we can hold some small power over our lives.
    Power is throwing the crooks in jail.

  166. Halloween_Jack6:53 PM

    Bond has always been a more blatant fantasy, though. Even Daniel Craig is a more obvious wish-fulfillment figure than hangdog, sleep-deprived Kiefer Sutherland.

  167. susanoftexas6:53 PM

    Power is an aphrodisiac.

  168. they've never known a time when government wasn't a train wreck courtesy of the rethugs

    Which is exactly what the GOP always hoped would happen.

  169. Mormon Scott Card is another one who's kicked the batshit into high gear since 9/11.

  170. The Fletcher Memorial Home

  171. "The Fletcher Memorial Home"

    take all your overgrown infants away somewhere

    and build them a home a little place of their own

    the fletcher memorial

    home for incurable tyrants and kings

    and they can appear to themselves every day

    on closed circuit t.v.

    to make sure they're still real

    it's the only connection they feel

    "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome reagan and haig

    mr. begin and friend mrs. thatcher and paisley

    mr. brezhnev and party

    the ghost of mccarthy

    the memories of nixon

    and now adding colour a group of anonymous latin

    american meat packing glitterati"

    did they expect us to treat them with any respect

    they can polish their medals and sharpen their

    smiles, and amuse themselves playing games for a while

    boom boom, bang bang, lie down you're dead

    safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye

    with their favourite toys

    they'll be good girls and boys

    in the fletcher memorial home for colonial

    wasters of life and limb

    is everyone in?

    are you having a nice time?

    now the final solution can be applied

  172. susanoftexas7:21 PM

    The right commits crimes and we pardon them. No wonder they think we are weak.

  173. Conservatives will only be happy when we become one with the hairball at the bottom of the drain.

  174. montag28:10 PM

    This doesn't negate anything you say, but there is also the certain knowledge that because of the partisan nature of American politics, if one prosecutes real, substantial crimes, one will be punished for it by the other party, or one's successors will be punished in similar fashion. So, a kind of understood omerta settles inside the Beltway around the subject.

    And gawd knows that Obama has done plenty within the Oval Office that--under a strict interpretation of war crimes law--constitutes serious crime. He'd never be prosecuted for those crimes, of course, since the legal justifications for same might yet be useful to some right-wing successor. Instead, there would be trumped-up charges like those applied to Clinton.

    We can be more certain that money and influence have played a large part in the lack of prosecution of the banksters. But when it comes to the CIA and the national security actions of the Executive, no one wants to go there, not only because of the lingering implications of the Kennedy assassinations, but also because of the 1980 elections. When Stansfield Turner tried to rein in an out-of-control CIA operations division, the disgruntled CIA men flocked to William Casey's campaign operation in droves offering their assistance, and there still remain many instances--all insufficiently investigated--of both Reagan campaign and national security shadow government sabotage of both Carter and his reelection campaign. And, of course, Casey--a certifiable nutjob--was then installed in 1981 to reconstitute the worst attributes of the CIA and to reconsolidate its power.

    In 1947, with the advent of the National Security Act, we made a monster, and it's been terrorizing us ever since. I suspect that it has terrorized Obama, as well.

  175. susanoftexas8:21 PM

    You are describing the result of unpunished lawlessness and then saying that it proves we must not punish lawlessness. If everyone is held to the law then the law restrains people from committing the kind of actions we see.
    When you let someone get away with a crime the only thing you are teaching them is that you will let them get away with a crime.
    And they can't punish you if you don't break the law--when the rule of law is upheld.

  176. LookWhosInTheFreezer8:29 PM

    I'm hearing Hannibal from the A-Team: "I love it when a plan comes together."

  177. John Wesley Hardin8:36 PM

    I suppose Heinlein was a liberal until Sputnik made him outraged about Chappaquiddick.

  178. John Wesley Hardin8:38 PM

    Grover Norquist asks you to ignore the screaming and splashing coming from the bathroom.

  179. Well, that was fucking brutal.

    Pertinent quote from early on: "We control events better, when we control opinion."

  180. Another Kiwi8:42 PM

    Stone Cold Righteous BigHank53

  181. montag28:44 PM

    Umm, no, I'm not saying we must not punish lawlessness. What I am doing, however, is describing the thinking behind why it's not prosecuted by those with the power to do it. And, yes, failure to prosecute out of fear of retribution is fecklessness. I'm just offering explanations of it--I'm certainly not endorsing it as a mode of governance. Just because I understand why it happens doesn't mean I'm in agreement.

    That said, it's essential to understand that the problem is systemic, and without alterations to the system, this will go on. We have tried, for a time, to make some alterations. The special prosecutor law was one attempt, which the right wing happily drove into the ground and then peed on with Kenneth Starr.

    Part of that system, too, is the CIA, which wields a kind of power that no government agency should ever hold, a power that has now leached into the NSA, the FBI, the military and all the private contractors in their employ. These are products of a system that's both dangerous and out-of-control, but it's important to remember the system determines the reactions of the politicians to it, precisely because of its built-in official and unofficial rules for self-preservation.

    Knowing that makes it possible to understand why events have played out as they have. To achieve the results both you and I agree are necessary, one has to find the Achilles' heel of that system.

  182. Dead black kids = "you will not challenge the system in any useful way".

    Or am I overstating it?

  183. Another Kiwi8:53 PM

    Well said Susan

  184. Brian Schlosser9:02 PM

    Up voted for Dr Bronner

  185. susanoftexas10:22 PM

    The law is the Achilles heel. It curbs power by siphoning power away from the rich to the less rich. The law is forced on the powerful by the threat of punishment all the way to mob violence, ultimately.

    Systems are created, are set up by the rich to benefit the rich. If they always support the rich and disempower the poor it's not systemic, it's theft.

    We know what their thinking was--they told us.

    Obama, April 14, 2008:

    Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to "immediately review the information that's already there" and determine if an inquiry is warranted -- but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as "a partisan witch hunt." However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because "nobody is above the law."

    Obama, January 11, 2009:

    President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects.

    But Mr. Obama also said prosecutions would proceed if the Justice Department found evidence that laws had been broken.

    John Kerry's spokeswoman, Dec. 12. 2014:

    If the Justice Department does not intend to prosecute anyone, Jen Psaki was asked, “how it is going to be when you call for accountability for rights abuses in other countries, how you’re going to be able to do that without being essentially laughed out of the room?”

    “We would put our record against any record around the world, and we think it’s very rare and unique for a country to decide to put out a report such as this, a release of a report that we supported,” she replied. “It points to the fact that we believe these techniques were contrary to our values as a nation, were overall detrimental.”

    “Does the State Department have any concerns that its arguments in human rights forums around the world – particularly today, Human Rights Day – are compromised at all by the fact that there isn’t going to be any accountability here?” a reporter asked.

    Psaki replied that in its conversations with other countries, the administration “will continue to convey that we ended this practice. It was one of the first steps the president made. We’re willing to be open and transparent about our mistakes and make changes, and that’s exactly what we did here.”

    But they are not willing to do the one thing that will stop these practices; sending the guilty to jail.

  186. susanoftexas10:26 PM


  187. Gabriel Ratchet1:45 AM

    Well, that's one of their favorite fallback rhetorical devices, isn't it? "Taxes/environmental regulations/gun control/whatever thing they're currently getting indignant over is just as bad, if not worse than torture/slavery/rape/etc., although actual torture/slavery/rape/etc. are themselves no big deal.

  188. montag22:30 AM

    While this certainly demonstrates that we've been torturing people for a long time, it's worth mentioning that the acts shown in this cartoon were prosecuted (maybe not all, and certainly not the people ordering it).

    What makes this more an anachronism is that we need to acknowledge that it occurred before the advent of the UN and before the various treaties on torture, and Common Article 3, to which the United States is a signatory. More simply put, the law changed and the mechanisms to implement the law changed, and we acknowledged that by treaty, which, at least in Constitutional theory, is the supreme law of the land.

    And yet, we have been complicit in torture after those changes. It's near-ancient history now, but it was the CIA's complicity in torture in Latin America that drove Philip Agee to leave the CIA and commit the unpardonable sin of naming names of CIA officers in Latin America, in the vain hope of not endangering their lives, but of compromising the CIA's ability to enable torture by their local counterparts. We continue to enable torture through the training provided by WHINSEC (the erstwhile School of the Americas), although this is an admission the school will never make. Much of this has been excused by the Doolittle report of 1954, which averred that our enemy was so brutal that we had no choice but to abandon our adherence to rule of law in such matters. We, in essence, sold our souls to the devil, not for the defense of the nation in any imminent sense, but out of a nebulous sense of ideological bellicosity.

    The justifications for this behavior today are just as thin and weak as they were then.

  189. Tehanu2:46 AM

    Those "self-righteous" Europeans are the survivors of WWII and their children & grandchildren -- you know, people who actually experienced the worst war in human history on their own doorsteps. Of course, Fat Tony thinks the wrong side won that war.

  190. montag23:07 AM

    I've been working my way through Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge for a while now, and his penchant for recording the zeitgeist of the times, week by week, month by month, is helpful. He notes that terrorism was actually much more prevalent forty years ago than now:

    La Guardia [a bomb in the luggage lockers at La Guardia airport in NYC at the end of December, 1975] was the eighty-ninth bombing in the United States attributable to terrorist activity in 1975, compared with forty-five in 1974, and twenty-four in 1973.

    And, he notes that fearmongering over terrorists with nuclear weapons was a common thread in neoconservative complaints in 1974 and 1975, and forty years later, we're still treating this as a credible threat. From Iran, which does not have nuclear weapons, while we pay Pakistan--a much more likely source--billions of dollars that are siphoned off to jihadists and the Taliban. It's absurd to say that torture is keeping us safe when we're rolling the geopolitical dice in an attempt to keep supply lines open to Afghanistan through Pakistan for a war that should have ended months, if not weeks, after it began.

  191. Goldberg is back to the TTB ("Ticking Time Bomb") crapola (otherwise known as the "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud ... are you really skeered yet?!?!?" But this is a false dilemma. The question is not whether you think (given your brainiac skills and curiously infallible intuition, you will know whether to torture someone to find some purported bomb. It is rather whether that torture, justifiable as it may be (and good luck to you in retrospect), but whether torture ought to be legal IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES because you think this might someday in some future actually happen..... More on this here:

  192. Not to mention, even if there WAS some 'moral imperative' to torture, that's no reason to say that torture is (or should be) legal. You think you saved a city of 10 million people by finding the TTB, fine, go to court, and explain to the jury that 'extenuating circumstances' (and be prepared to prove your case). Say you saved all those lives, and maybe they'll go easy on you. And even if they don't, surely the satisfaction of saving all this lives is worth the penalty of however many years in jail for breaking the law....

  193. "... whether someone might be plotting to plant some time bombs, or at least thinking about plotting ..."

    ... or had been entrapped and goaded by undercover FBI agents into some hare-brained scheme to do so.... Which has happened more than once, so far. We seem to be happy to instigate such crimes. Wait until it comes back and bites us. Actually, it's bad enough now, never mind....

  194. PortersvilleBarn6:18 AM

    Hi my name is Frances and I am a 50 something year old half wetback who is unemployed and I claim to have a 'very healthy' relationship with that fat slob Amanda Marcotte.

  195. SqueakyRat6:43 AM

    I wish I could agree.

  196. SqueakyRat8:15 AM

    Yup. Sunday we went down the hill, visit with the cousins. Real nice time, Tortured some folks.

  197. "The right commits crimes and we pardon them. No wonder they think we are weak."

    This has been an interesting discussion, but to clear things up a bit, who are "we"? "We" the left, or "We" the people? Montag seems to be saying that the power of the intelligence community is so interwoven in the fabric of governance that if we're looking for some impetus for the system to investigate itself, we should just forget it. And if SOT means "We" the citizens of this country, I don't have faith that we can push back much. No matter how outraged we may be, the right, which dominates the intelligence community, will always have the advantage of power, access to media, and money, and we can already see how this is going. Dick Cheney will be appearing on MTP tomorrow to basically do what all the torture apologists are doing: arguing a spiffed up version of the "Ticking Time Bomb" scenario, and claiming, with no evidence that they can show us without having to kill us, that actionable intelligence, whatever the fuck THAT is, was produced. And does anyone think that Chuck Todd will be anything other than a pathetic doormat? My feeling is, and in most ways it's just as fanciful as anyone else's, is that change will come only when the countries that we regard as our allies rise up and condemn us forcefully and repeatedly, threaten to prosecute anyone from the Bush administration who sets foot in their country as a war criminal, and refuse to share intelligence with us. Of course, that assumes that THEY are purer than WE are, which isn't something I'd be willing to bet large on.