Thursday, December 18, 2014


David Atkins is right: It wasn't "Hollywood" or America who pulled The Interview due to North Korean pressure, it was Sony, a multinational corporation that, like any other, values shareholder interest waaaaaay more than free speech.  Of course conservatives see it differently, and affect to believe the capitulation has something to do with campus speech codes or some shit. At National Review, Charles C. W. Cooke:
Sadly, one cannot help but see in this response some faint echoes of another, disheartening development: to wit, our present tendency to accommodate the thin-skinned and the intolerant and to permit their professed discomfort to interfere with our public debate.
Oh, cannot one?
In our schools, in the media, and in all of our political arenas, we have of late become accustomed to kowtowing to hecklers, to fleeing from anything controversial, and to treating the outrage du jour as if it were representative of anything more substantial than rank self-indulgence and the desire to silence dissent.
Speak for yourself, limey. In the same venue, Michael Auslin:
The truth is, we’ve been heading this way for a long time, starting with our response to Islamist assaults on those whom they believe blaspheme Mohammed. Now, we’re moving to another level.
Who the fuck is "we"? I've been blaspheming that fuck Mohammed for years. I have no trouble telling Kim Jon Un to get stuffed either. (I don't have time to draw a cartoon of him right now, but if I did I would make him look fat and ugly. Pay tribute to my heroism, America!)

Capitalism doth make cowards of us all, but conservatives prefer to blame liberals because we're "politically correct" (i.e., polite to people with fewer privileges than ourselves). When a corporate board thought they'd rather not have Brendan Eich and his anti-gay cooties representing their company, liberals got the blame. When a TV network wanted some of the racist stank to wear off Paula Deen before they put her before the public again, ditto. When the NBA pushed out Donald Sterling, ditto; NFL Rice Peterson ditto. It's not just or even mainly because they're wired to pin every bad thing that happens to liberalism; it's also because they believe that the market is God and money His grace, and can't stand to see it proven otherwise.

You know what else? Every one of these fuckers who brings up The Great Dictator would, given the chance, have joined the red-baiters who kicked Chaplin out of America.

UPDATE. In comments, D Johnston: "I'm thinking that December -- the month we remember how Saint Bill O'Reilly saved Christmas -- is perhaps not the best time for conservatives to complain about a 'tendency to accommodate the thin-skinned.'"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I don't mean to write so much about torture but Jesus, conservatives sure are covering themselves in glory with this, huh? At National Review, Deroy Murdock -- once considered a libertarian, if you can believe it, despite his history of torture advocacy -- did a yay-torture column that had so much 9/11 in it that Rudolph Giuliani filed a trademark infringement suit. (Murdock also uses the mildest descriptions of what happened -- e.g. "blowing cigarette or cigar smoke into a detainee’s face" -- rather than the killing and broken bones stuff, and omits the torture of innocents altogether, so I can't even give him Cheney points for bare-faced evil -- like most of his fellow torture fans, he wants readers to wish it into the cornfield and denounce liberals for thinking bad thoughts about Anthony.)

Speaking of Jesus, from D.C. McAllister at The Federalist here's what may be a new low:
Yes, Christians Can Support Torture
Majorities of Christians support the use of torture in some instances. And they’re not bad Christians for doing so.
I'm not even kidding. McAllister smacks down some wussy "pastor" who claims it isn't Christian to chain people to the ceiling, keep them awake for days on end, and rape them with syringes:
He states in a “PS” that he originally wrote, “You cannot be a Christian and support torture.” He took out “a” probably because he received a lot of backlash, and rightly so. So he qualified it: “You cannot be Christian and support torture. . . . Can you support torture and go to heaven? Maybe. Can you support torture and be Christlike? No.”
Zahnd can try to disingenuously snake his way out of his own wording, but it’s obvious he’s calling people’s Christianity into question, and that’s what he meant when he initially wrote the post. But even with the qualifier, he is judging 79 percent of evangelicals in America and 78 percent of Catholics (along with 68 percent of all Americans, according to a recent poll)—who say torture can be justified.
How dy'ya like that, Mr. Pastor? The overwhelming majority of Americans say "Give us Barabbas!"

I expect next we'll see Jesus paraphernalia that shows the Prince of Peace giving the Abu Ghraib thumbs-up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


At New York, Jonathan Chait offers this assessment of Dick Cheney defending torture on TV:
The host, Bret Baier, asked Cheney about Bush’s reported discomfort when told of a detainee’s having been chained to a dungeon ceiling, clothed only in a diaper, and forced to urinate and defecate on himself. “What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say ‘Please, please, tell us what you know’?” Cheney said... 
Here, finally, was the brutal moral logic of Cheneyism on bright display. The insistence by his fellow partisans on averting their eyes from the horrible truth at least grows out of a human reaction. Cheney does not even understand why somebody would look away. His soul is a cold, black void.
OK, take a second and try to imagine how the lowest sort of hack might respond to this. You probably envision sputterings about 9/11, and Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary does supply those. But his real achievement -- one I confess I couldn't have predicted -- is to reduce the issue to one of style, and to claim Cheney's opponents are not disgusted by his defense of practices denounced by civilization for centuries, but by Cheney's balls. Here is a man who, when confronted with shackled, raped, broken-legged innocents, looks them in the eye and says "sucks to be you," and liberals are too lame to appreciate it:
The discussion about torture reminds us of the qualities that always annoyed his opponents most about Cheney. It’s not just that he does things they hate, it’s his air of defiance in which he doesn’t even accept the premise of the questions posed to him that makes them think he is evil... 
Chait’s argument rests on the notion that even if you thought torture might be necessary, the decent thing to do is to act shocked or horrified by the ill treatment of even the bad guys of al-Qaeda. Cheney won’t play that game...
Try to imagine defending a sullen, unrepentant murderer thus: Ooh, you're just mad at Dick because he's not all [high feminine voice] "I'm so sorry I gut-ripped that old man with a letter opener." Well, he won't play that game! The defense rests! 

Whatever they're paying Tobin, it's not enough.

Monday, December 15, 2014


To those of you who worry that mainstream attention to the con artist Charles C. Johnson will damage the reputation and efficacy of journalism, I have to say you're waaaaaay late, and submit in evidence this Ole Perfesser Instapundit post from today in its entirety:
WHAT’S SAD IS THAT IN THE OBAMA ERA IT’S ENTIRELY PLAUSIBLE: Matt Drudge says spending bill passed because NSA has ‘dirt’ on John Boehner.  
Matt Drudge of the influential Drudge Report news aggregation site expressed discontent over a federal spending bill that passed with votes from both Republicans and Democrats in the House.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill that runs through September 2015 is now up for a vote in the Democratically-led Senate. Many conservatives, including Drudge, are upset that the bill funds both Obamacare and President Obama’s immigration executive orders.   
“Obama got EVERYTHING,” Drudge tweeted Friday. “NSA dirt on Boehner must be incredible. Chicago wins.” 
I’ve seen similar speculation about John Roberts in the ObamaCare case. Sad what this country has become under the Obama Machine.
This isn't just some nut, The Perfesser is king of the rightbloggers and a regular contributor to mainstream journalism outfits, and here you see him not only promoting a ridiculous conspiracy theory out of Matt Drudge, but limning it with his own bullshit.

The damage to journalism has not only been long-lived, but deliberate. The point was always to obviate any distinction between the verifiable or even believable and boob bait.

It's a different kind of problem from the bias, if that's the word for it, found in the mainstream media. The Rolling Stone/UVA story got caught by the Washington Post's Erik Wemple and others, the whole world came to know about it, and much soul-searching was seen over it in the journalism community. Even if they were insincere, they at least had to pretend. Conservative crap-merchants, however, don't soul-search. They'll dish anything, and their audiences, convinced that everything the MSM says is a lie, takes the absence of these stories from the big papers and nets as proof that their heroes are telling the truth the Lamestream won't dare to print.

This has provided a fertile environment for hucksters to throw shit, and for a loyal audience to not even care if it sticks. Johnson's just a logical mutation of that. While most of these guys just duck out of the way of the debunkings and negative attention their stories receive, Johnson welcomes the attention and makes himself the story. He's standing on the shoulders of midgets; good thing for him there's such a lot of them.

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.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


At libertarian flagship Reason, Scott Shackford:
In this politicized fight between the contents of hundreds of thousands of pages of reports and reviews, the actual debate centers on disagreement over two issues: How honest or dishonest the CIA represented what it was doing in communication with those charged with oversight; and whether enhanced interrogation or torture actually succeeded in accomplishing what the CIA claims it did. Strip out the torture and terrorism and you've got any other troubled government program. Was the Department of Health and Human Services honest with those charged with oversight about the state of Obamacare health insurance exchanges prior to their launch, and has it succeeded in providing affordable health insurance? It's the same argument.
"Strip out the torture and terrorism" and statist meat inspections are also tyranny.  Similarly, strip out the so-called racism and Eric Garner's death is about cigarette taxes. I used to think these people were raised in Skinner boxes, but now I think they spend their whole lives in them.

UPDATE. Speaking of Garner, Steven Hayward at Power Line takes the tax thing all the way:
Has anyone argued yet that liberalism caused torture because, I dunno, moral relativism or Saul Alinsky or some shit?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


One of the guys stepping up to defend America's recently revealed torture is Max Boot.  Like his fellow pain freak Andrew C. McCarthy, he puts quotes around "torture," because apparently the reported horrors of our Black Sites are not a big deal to him. He implicates Dianne Feinstein and John F. Kennedy, which is okay by me, or would be if he were trying to drag them down with him -- but Boot thinks the real crime is complaining about the torture, not furthering it.  He actually says, "It’s easy to denounce such brutal measures from the safety of an armchair" as if that were worse than approving them from the same armchair. He concludes:
Whatever the case, of one thing I am positive: that the release of the Senate report will only aid our enemies who will have more fodder for their propaganda mills. It is hard to see how it will serve the interests of the United States, because even if you believe the interrogations in question were war crimes, the reality remains that they were long discontinued. Feinstein’s report merely rakes up history and for no good purpose beyond predictable congressional grandstanding.
If your conscience does not respond to this, let me remind you what Boot is.

In 2003 Boot cheered the coming Iraq clusterfuck. "Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets," he said. He had no doubt of the mission's success: "With American seriousness and credibility thus restored, we will enjoy fruitful cooperation from the region's many opportunists, who will show a newfound eagerness to be helpful in our larger task of rolling up the international terror network that threatens us."

That same year he bade America take the fight to North Korea and Iran, quoting Kipling: "Taking on all of them is a big commitment, but as Kipling warned America, 'Ye dare not stoop to less.'" We'll beat those fuzzy-wuzzies in no time!

In 2005, apparently still excited by the bloodbaths, Boot reached back into history to approve the infamous Moro Massacre in the Philippines and its architect, Leonard Wood: "His scorched-earth policy sparked controversy but achieved results."

The course of action Boot endorsed has since been proven a disaster, but he has continued to yap and snarl. In 2011 he wept over America's withdrawal from Iraq -- "The issue of immunity could have been finessed," he insisted, "if administration lawyers from the Departments of State and Defense had not insisted that Iraq’s parliament would have to vote to grant our troops protections from Iraqi laws." It should be no surprise that Boot sees the wishes of elected representatives as a useless nuisance. Boot didn't want us to get out of Afghanistan either -- why, what would Kipling think?

Boot still bays for blood in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. In 2013 he condemned Edward Snowden, whom he said "needs to see a psychiatrist or a minister rather than to be granted access to the front pages of the world to blow some of the U.S. government’s most important intelligence-gathering activities."

In short, Boot is the last person we should be listening to -- but then, he always was. It's worth asking why this moral leper still has a place in our discourse.


While some of those few citizens who did not know that America tortures people basically for the hell of it got an earful from the Senate report -- you can read the Republican response, which basically complains that Democrats are unfairly making torture look bad -- House Republicans held a witch trial at which Congressmen stepped up to hurl carefully crafted and vetted insults at Jonathan Gruber, a freelance employee who had the poor taste to articulate said Congressmen's main political operating principle. Contract employees, beware and follow the dress code, these fuckers are strict!

Conservatives did their best to hoopla this travesty, many claiming that the Democrats released the torture report just to upstage it and thus vitiate its potentially devastating effects (don't laugh, some of them think Gruber's comments will actually convince the Supreme Court to kill Obamacare). But my favorite angle so far is that of National Review Jim Geraghty:
Americans, you got really upset about Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment. It’s understandable; you figured that the candidate was saying something nice about the voters as a whole when in public, and writing off a lot of voters as hopeless and hapless when behind closed doors. 
That is exactly what Jonathan Gruber did. Over and over again.
Difference left unmentioned: Romney was the Republican candidate for President of the United States, and Gruber was a fucking temp. Next week, a janitor at the Capitol will sneeze on the statue of Father Junipero Serra and, when this obvious anti-clericalist's voting record reveals him to be a Democrat, all hell will once again break loose.