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.


  1. My best dream is where Cheney is being interviewed by Tim Russert, and spontaneously combusts on live, national television. And the drum set is not even singed.

  2. Gromet2:07 PM

    I have a friend who hates the movie Mulholland Drive -- he says it means nothing at all, is a total sham, and that people who claim to "see things in it" or like it are 100% lying to appear cool. Chait just became that guy, but with basic human decency.

  3. Giant Monster Gamera2:14 PM

    I wish someone had caught on film the moment when his heart jumped out of his chest and ran screaming from his body.

  4. redoubtagain2:19 PM

    (Mine is where he's trapped inside a giant microwave testing facility, but I digress.)
    Shorter Tobin: "Marse Cheney says we're at war, so we have to do these things. Because we're at war."

  5. It’s not just that he does things they hate

    We hate him, because he does hateful things, and is sure of his virtue in doing them. Period.

  6. he's the former vice-president who's had it up to here with your miranda rights and sociology degrees, mr. mayor. he'll do it his way and get results. and there's no way he's gonna break in any rookie. he works alone.

    so if he needs a partner, he'll get him someone who knows what the hell he's doing, or at least one who will receive regular briefings by the cia so it is well-understood by all international human rights courts now and in the future that these were enhanced interrogation techniques and not torture and he was acting on full authorization of his superiors.

  7. these were enhanced interrogation techniques and not torture

    The problem with relying on Disappearing Dick as a spokesman is that, pushed enough, he will go off-message and start growling about "Yeah, it's torture, so what? We won!" which kind of undercuts the whole "enhanced interrogation" concept.

  8. Gromet2:26 PM

    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

    Yeah, rejecting any consideration that you're evil is often part of being evil. I would like to hear Tobin give us his definition of evil, then. Or at least outline for us what he thinks what lies beyond the pale versus what is permissible. It would be interesting. Spending all your words decrying your opponents for having the balls to face an issue is a neat way of not facing the issue yourself.

  9. Name me one person who, on doing evil, has ever said, "Yeah, I did evil!"

    Never happens. Humans always come up with justifications.

  10. though the tough guy squee-ing by right bloggers conveniently ignores that he implicitly asserts again and again he was just following orders.

  11. Or at least outline for us what he thinks what lies beyond the paleI think you're already on to something.

  12. synykyl2:30 PM

    To be fair to Tobin, Cheyney's 'air of defiance' does annoy me, but I don't think Cheyney is evil because of his attitude. I think he is evil because he *is* evil.

  13. Lurking Canadian2:34 PM

    Cheney is really bone-chilling evil. I mean, he's defending shit that John Kid's-balls-in-vice Yoo thinks is over the top. I'm trying to think of a historical parallel and failing. I mean, even [Godwin violation ] tried to cover shit up. Cheney's just standing atop his pyramid of skulls like he's fucking Ghengis Khan, reveling in the Lamentations of his enemies' women.

  14. 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.Now, I'm no philologist, but it seems to me that a slightly more accurate parsing of Chait's argument would be (1) that it rests on the notion that torture isn't necessary; (2) that even if one did concede its hypothetical necessity, the decent thing to do is to act shocked our horrified by the ill treatment of even completely innocent people; and (3) that Jonathan Tobin is welcome to print out his slobbering paean to Dick Cheney, fold it five ways, set it on fire, and then cram it up his own rectum, just to demonstrate that it's not torture. Though I might be reading between the lines a bit more on (3).

  15. Can't help but notice that the title of Tobin's piece includes a phrase very popular among torture apologists: "Moral clarity." Apparently, Cheney has this clarity, and it's that (and not the whole sociopathy thing) which explains his icy demeanor.

    This is what's been wrong with our torture narrative since we started discussing it - it's always framed as ethics vs. practicality, with only the Cheneyites able to see when the former needs to be discarded in service of the former. That's bullshit. Opting to torture someone is not a "difficult choice," it's acting off the lizard brain. It's born of revenge, and revenge is the lowest aspect of human nature. After 9/11 deciding not to torture would have been the hard choice, and appropriately enough it would have been the correct one as well.

    Put it this way: During WWII, my grandfather ran a facility for German POWs, mostly combat engineers. By this point in the war, we knew what the Nazis were doing, and torturing those guys would have been very easy. Did they? Fuck no. We did that nancy "kiss them on both cheeks" stuff Cheney was all het up about. Apparently, a lot of them took up painting - I have a print of a portrait one of them did. Once, the guards took some of the POWs out to a bar; one of them tried to run, and the others brought him back. True story. Wow, it's almost as though the sissy stuff works and the brutal stuff doesn't.

    The only reason we ever had this debate is because instinct tells us that torture works. In reality, fear is a very poor motivator, but we have this primitive violent desire we have to overcome to acknowledge that. There's your "moral clarity," fucker. My grandfather had that, but what did he know? All he got was a Bronze Star.

  16. All he got was a Bronze Star.*Sniff* Probably awarded it to himself.

  17. You know how it is. He says "defiance," we say "lack of guilt and affect."

  18. Has Cheney himself ever done that? There's plenty of "Fuck yeah torture" amongst the brethren, but Cheney and his little entourage really seem to favor the dissembling, "we don't torture under our definition of the term" tactic.

  19. Bizarro Mike2:52 PM

    That's an unfair comparison. Ghengis was at least successful in his ambitions.

  20. hellslittlestangel2:52 PM

    Tobin has a pure and noble love for Dick Cheney the like of which we have not seen since Ayn Rand was swept off her feet by William Edward Hickman.

  21. hellslittlestangel2:55 PM

    ... talking out of both sides of his mouth ...

    ... figuratively speaking, of course.

  22. What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say ‘Please, please, tell us what you know’?”

    Like so

  23. Huh, no, I really can't find an example now that I tried (didn't try awfully hard, though) but, as far as I'm concerned, it might well be nobody's pushed Dick hard enough to admit to it, undoubtedly remembering the man can call up hordes of demons at will.

  24. carolannie3:09 PM

    It was interesting when we called Cheney, Yoo and Bush monsters and everyone called us traitors. Now we can see they are monsters, and the RWNJ call us wusses. Their only answer is not an answer, it is a STFU, lalalala I can't hear you

  25. Evil = Being a liberal.


  26. tigrismus3:11 PM

    Maybe the film has been suppressed to protect the heart's identity.

  27. Ellis_Weiner3:11 PM

    Exactly. Hitler (fuck off, Godwin) thought he was doing the right thing. That's what evil *is*--the commission of immoral acts while feeling moral.

  28. Jonathan Twobit: The tactics aren’t easy to look at, but as he can rightly assert, the only thing in war that counts in the long run is the results. That’s all the moral clarity history ever asks of wartime leaders.

    The Nuremburg Trials would beg to differ.

  29. Ellis_Weiner3:17 PM

    "What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say ‘Please, please, tell us what you know’?”

    My ex, when she lost her mind, would argue like that. You go immediately to an absurd extreme. It threatens to shut down all discussion, although it needn't. Someone interviewing Cheney could just as readily say, "No, but surely there's a middle ground between kissing on both cheeks and simulating drowning."

  30. Jay B.3:18 PM

    ...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’?”

    I've sat here for five minutes looking at that passage and its depravity — so depraved that even GW looks human in comparison — keeps hitting me in waves. The spectacular absence of humanity and even basic emotional intelligence. To this war criminal, life is either ritual torture and humiliation OR infantile coddling.

    It isn't just that Cheney is a soulless monster, it's that we REALLY DO need to prosecute him and the monsters like him. How do we sit back and let him do this?

  31. but as he can rightly assert, the only thing in war that counts in the long run is the results.Or as Jesus Himself put it, "The ends justify the means."

  32. Jay B.3:20 PM

    What results is Tobin referring to anyway? What's clearly moral about torturing innocent people?

  33. Giant Monster Gamera3:22 PM

    "How do we sit back and let him do this?"

    What are we going to do about it? March into his undisclosed location and put him under citizen's arrest?

    At this point, the best we can hope for is that he suffers several painful strokes and spends ten fully-conscious yet immovable years on his back in bed, being fed through a tube and shitting into a pan.

  34. And what were the results?

  35. Jay B.3:23 PM

    I don't know. But something has to be done. I'm dead serious.

  36. tigrismus3:27 PM

    Obviously "moral clarity" means seeing something is clearly immoral and doing anyway because you want to. I don't know what that does take, but it doesn't take balls, if ol' five deferment ever had any in the first place.

  37. He claims that grimly determined torturers "kept us safe."

    ...in a way similar to how I have kept us all safe from attacks by Cthulu and the Old Ones by appeasing them with sufficient patronage of Starbucks.

    Surely you can see the same mechanism at play.

  38. witlesschum3:28 PM

    Sorry, Tobin. Cheney is an incompetent coward and none of his bluster, or yours, is going to cover it up. It's plain fact, right there in view. His torture program was copied from people who weren't trying to get intelligence, just to break American POWs like old McCain so they could make them go say silly things on TV. No duh, it didn't get any useful intelligence, it was like trying to sail a Ford Explorer in the regatta with a broom and some bedsheets. It wasn't meant for that and it's no good for it.

    But when you're an incompetent coward like Richard Cheney, you do things that make no sense because you're scared and then tell yourself all the things paid hacks like Tobin say about you are true. You probably believe them, even, because incompetence starts with the failure to know yourself. You puff yourself up real big and stamp your foot and insist that you aren't really a weakling who acts out rather than acting. And by the end of it you're whining to journalists that you define reality and then you may start to believe that, even, and you can't even see the bend any more.

    Bye, no one will miss you.

  39. witlesschum3:29 PM

    Trex, I want to buy your rock.

  40. What are we going to do about it?We can't do anything. But the Department of Justice could haul him before a grand jury that would almost certainly fail to return an indictment in such a "partisan politically-motivated" prosecution. Merely to make the hopeless attempt to hold these guys legally accountable would be worth the next two years of even more elevated Congressional shitstorm, though, because it would at least send a message that there are some legal and moral lines that really shouldn't be crossed, and they don't involve Bill Clinton's dick.

    (Unfortunately, I really do see the political calculus at work here, since if nothing else most Obama administration figures would prefer not to spend the rest of their lives facing retaliatory bullshit indictments for jaywalking. But right is right, even if too much of the electorate wouldn't get that message.)

  41. Jay B.3:31 PM

    Thank you for your service, trex. Similarly, I have been carrying a lucky quarter with me since 9/11 and I think it was instrumental in getting Glenn Beck canceled.

  42. Dean Golden3:33 PM

    Or, you know - they could pretend to be a decent person and just say "You monster. You evil, evil monster" in response to everything, rather than looking for balance.

  43. glennisw3:41 PM

    it’s his air of defiance in which he doesn’t even accept the premise of the questions
    Well, as he was the guy next in line to be Commander in Chief, it's only appropriate we should be disturbed that he doesn't even accept the premise of something that is so integral to our Constitution.

  44. Giant Monster Gamera3:42 PM

    I love it, but at best that's what could be done about it.

    Cheney could rape a puppy on national TV and at best our media would applaud him for his "firm resolve" and "love for animals."

  45. susanoftexas3:42 PM

    "But is Cheney’s attitude really any different from the defiant defense of drone attacks that we hear from the Obama administration? In the last several years, America has fought the war against Islamist terror mainly by waging remote-control war with bombs that kill civilians along with the bad guys. Everyone knows this, but somehow this preference for killing rather than capturing and then interrogating prisoners is somehow considered more moral."
    You knew that was coming.

  46. glennisw3:45 PM

    Well, and if you overlook the hyperbole, the records show that, yeah, being "nice" and gaining the confidence of the detainee works far better for getting actual information. There's that.

  47. He claims that grimly determined torturers "kept us safe."See, that's where Richard Clarke and the intelligence officials behind the August 2001 Presidential daily briefing went wrong: They should have let the Bush administration torture them first.

  48. WaPo: New poll finds majority of Americans believe torture justified after 9/11 attacks. By a 59-31 margin. That's how we sit back and let him do this: while thunderously applauding.

  49. Helmut Monotreme4:00 PM

    I wish I lived in an America that could look at a self-proclaimed war criminal and torturer, and be confident anyone so evil would be promptly arrested and tried. We don't need an Iraqi version of Simon Wiesenthal to track him down over decades and halfway round the world. He's not even trying to hide. He made sure that kidnap and torture were committed in the name of the American people and he has made it abundantly clear that he expects us to be grateful for the service.

    A USA that would deal with our own torturers as swiftly and finally as we dealt with axis torturers after WWII would never have let anyone like Cheney near the levers of power in the first place. We reap evil because we have sown evil. The school of the Americas has taught torturers for decades. A USA firmly opposed to torture would never have supported Saddam Hussein in the first place, would never have armed the Mujahedin in Afghanistan, would never have overthrown the government of Iran and installed the Shah as our pet. We would not have done all manner of short sighted crap in the name of 'fighting communism'.

    So Cheney will go free for at least the next two years, because no one in the federal government is has the stomach to confront the crimes being committed in our names, and probably not afterwards either. The USA is looking, yearning for another Reagan; another goddamn 'Morning in America'. The USA wants to feel good about itself again, and rather than washing the blood off we're going to try really hard to ignore the blood on our hands and hope it goes away.

  50. Brother Yam4:00 PM

    Cheney is far too important to dirty himself in a war. Ya see, he's an Idea Man, big plans and all that. Moral Clarity is his Bronze Star. Hardware is for the sucks...

  51. Bizarro Mike4:07 PM

    I've always heard the Cheney position as "We didn't torture, and when we did torture, it was to keep you safe."

  52. swkellogg4:11 PM

    "Cheney's opponents are not disgusted by his defense of practices denounced by civilization for centuries, but by Cheney's balls."

    Yep balls -- that's what defines Dick "Five Deferments but Happy to Serve if I was Called" Cheney.

    Still, the thought of Cheney's balls does make me a little queasy.

    Thanks a lot for that image.

  53. lawguy4:14 PM

    People I know fairly well here in East Jesus Southern Ohio make the Chaney argument all the time and insist that torture was necessary and/or it wasn't really torture because, I guess, we did it.

    I mean these are people who claim to believe in the christian god. And when they are called on it they say it is ok with their god. Like the man said: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that god is just,..." Of course since I don't believe I guess I'm ok.

  54. coozledad4:14 PM

    We aren't going to do anything, unless someone far enough up the chain of command is prosecuted, and the principles intensify their habit of pointing fingers at each other. They're already stabbing each other in the back, true in every respect to their own pure gutlessness.

    There are already enough conflicting statements to get a few convictions.

  55. I think a bulging bank account is his Bronze Star.

  56. Cheney is even better than Shrubya for the fear shartist who needs to live vicariously because his own life sucks so bad. He's rich, he says horrible things and nothing happens to him except he gets asked to do more interviews and he managed to weasel out of the draft.

  57. The USA is looking, yearning for another Reagan; another goddamn 'Morning in America'.

    This time around it won't be a Reagan, though - it'll be a damn Buzz Windrip. The politic's too far right for a Reagan; the extremism too extreme. I'm thinking after the disappointment of Bush's second term the GOP will be looking for a Big Daddy/Boss to father them and protect them and slap the shit out of anyone who makes trouble.

  58. No.

    See, that's the problem with the "clear moral view" people like Faceshooter have. When you're all about absolute good and evil, you have no room for shades of grey, much less color. He literally can't conceive of a middle ground.

  59. but but but journalistic objectivism!

  60. Meribel's Taco Bell4:43 PM

    This is clearly a situation where both sides do it.

  61. tigrismus4:45 PM

    City on a Hill! Sure, it's Dis on Mount Trashmore, but hey.

  62. LookWhosInTheFreezer4:46 PM

    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...

    Funny didn't Saddam Hussein (and sons) acquire a much less flattering reputation for that same, defiant refusal to "play that game?"

  63. Gracie Allen4:48 PM

    Well, it should be obvious what lies beyond the pale. Offering affordable health insurance to those of limited means.

  64. Robert M.4:49 PM

    If that's the case, I'm sure Charles Johnson will be along momentarily to post its full name and address on Twitter.

  65. Chris Anderson4:52 PM

    To say that Cheney defended torture, “gave no ground,” etc. is technically inaccurate: on Meet the Press, as always, he offered NOTHING but firmly-stated lies, diversions, irrelevancies and illogic.

    He's got heart-wrenching 9-11 anecdotes ... He's had a subclass of torturers (the ones that stretch words and the law on the rack) tasked with rubber-stamping whatever was convenient ... He mixes correlation with causation ... Half-assedly muddies waters and declares a clear win ... Personifies questions that aren't about him ... Tries to short-circuit rational thought by engaging strong emotions ...

    Here's a new one on me: the Cheney types have found a vet who was shot down over Vietnam and tortured, and this one (as opposed to McCain and the world) doesn't think waterboarding is torture, so there!

    All this crap is breathtakingly sloppy and cavalier.

  66. John Wesley Hardin4:54 PM

    Tobin means "long run results" as in "winning." The only thing that matters in war is winning, and if the Nazis had won, there would have been no Nuremberg trials QED suck on it, etc. I guess we won the war on terrorism, or we needed to, and so Cheney was justified? The logic, such as it is, breaks down in this region.

  67. Gracie Allen4:58 PM

    What someone needs to do is find a corollary in the Third Reich and do a side by side comparison. You think Reinhard Heydrich is evil enough to suit? Or do you picture Cheney more as the Adolf Eichmann of his administration?

  68. John Wesley Hardin4:58 PM

    "Dead Cthulhu sleeps in the city of R'lyeh. He will awaken when the Starbucks are aligned."

    (Also, I am already a subscriber to your newsletter.)

  69. Fictional, but watch the movie a couple of threads back. The portrayal of Heydrich there is pretty close to Cheney's arrogance and evil, though a lot less growly than Faceshooter.

  70. John Wesley Hardin5:05 PM

    Yes, if only the Fairness Doctrine were here to protect poor dick Cheney. Too bad the government got rid of it in the eighties; something else screwed up by the Feds!

  71. Hitler thought knew he was doing the right thing. That's what evil *is*


  72. "I didn't do it, nobody saw me, and you can't prove anything!"

  73. John Wesley Hardin5:08 PM

    I'm no philologist either, but do you really need to be a stamp collector to talk about this stuff?

  74. Don't forget - he's the one who ran off to the Secured Location on 9/11 and left George to do the media thing.

  75. smut clyde5:08 PM

    "Moral clarity."

    At least it's an ethos!

  76. "I gotta be there for the last meeting of the Philatelist's Club!"

  77. "He did it to keep us safe! Have you forgot 9/11?"

    "Can't argue with that!"

  78. smut clyde5:13 PM

    as he can rightly assert, the only thing in war that counts in the long run is the results

    What are these results whereof Cheney can rightly speak? It would be nice if some were successes.

  79. Oh, they've done lots of stuff, only they can't tell us about any of it because security.

    How convenient.

  80. And that poll just came out.

    Amazing - you lie to people for thirteen years, and they tend to believe the lies. Whoodathunkit?

  81. ken_lov5:55 PM

    It's significant that a few extremist conservative commenters are now openly calling for ethnic cleansing of Muslims from America, with hints that genocide would also be a welcome development. For various reasons they now feel emboldened to abandon all this PC stuff and say what they really think. Expect "Yeah buddy we're racists and we're proud of it" soon, if it's not already happening.

  82. It's when the Very Serious People start talking about how we need to have a discussion on ethnic cleansing, not that we'd do it mind you but it's something we need to discuss, that I'd start practicing my O Canada.

  83. You guys are so weird. There isn't enough suffering in the world for my dreams for Cheney. As with Bush I dream that Cheney is forced to reincarnate over and over again until he is incarnated as a being who can fully grasp the evils of his life as cheney, and then he kills himself in sheer horror.

  84. John Wesley Hardin6:25 PM

    Malkin has been busy trying to mainstream the ethnic cleansing of Muslims for years. She published a book defending their internment in concentration camps and presto "hey, that's not ethnic cleansing! Why are you trying to paint me as an extremist?"

  85. And you know what else I hate about him? That he has deliberately led other people, literally millions of other Americans, into the same inhuman state of dis-grace: into loving torture and murder and degradation for their own sakes. That he constantly appears on our national stage to justify his blood lust and to mislead his moron followers into believing that his sadism is somehow some kind of clean manly swagger.

  86. ken_lov6:33 PM

    I knew she did some revisionist justification of the internment of Japanese Americans in WW2, but never realised she applied the same "logic" to Muslims. But it was predictable I suppose.

  87. Christopher Hazell7:07 PM

    Well, the good thing about the torture report is that it helps us separate the people who actually have souls from the people who have a horrible black void where their souls should be.

    But while Cheney may be accused of sounding insensitive about some of the very nasty things that were done to al-Qaeda prisoners, he nevertheless seems to posses a degree of moral clarity that few of his critics seem to have.

    Jesus Christ. Moral clarity. Fuck you.

    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.

    Well, yes, his argument does have some idea that you should have some fellow-feeling for even the most repulsive of your fellow men, but it also rests on the fact that the report raises serious questions about how the torture program was run.

    Even if Cheney shouldn't feel bad about torturing terrorists, probably he ought to feel bad about the people that the CIA itself admits were tortured despite being innocent?

    The defense of torture is, essentially, "The torturers said they did the right thing, and that's good enough for me".

    "I've thought about it, and I've never made any mistakes" is not moral clarity; in fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite of moral clarity.

  88. This, in effect.

    She used a shameful, antiliberal moment in American history to justify calling for a repeat. Internment II: Muslim Bugaboo

  89. Christopher Hazell7:12 PM

    I get the joke, but the infuriating thing is that it fucking isn't.

    The only ethos that Cheney seems to be following is "Everything I've done was correct." Which isn't much of an ethos at all, really.

    Self-regard isn't an ethos, and it really scares me that so many people confuse it with "moral clarity".

  90. The Taliban have moral clarity. Tim McVeigh had moral clarity. I could go on.

  91. mgmonklewis7:19 PM

    I would like to spend five minutes with this comment and a perforation gauge.

  92. mgmonklewis7:20 PM

    Or committing immoral acts while not caring.

  93. The elusive "five-way-folded burning op-ed in Tobin's ass" is a truly one-of-a-kind piece that only a true collector can really appreciate... though no one wants to actually acquire it.

  94. Christopher Hazell7:23 PM

    As I never get tired of pointing out, the report raises serious questions about the practicality of our torture regime.

    Even if you were actually what Cheney claims to be, a hard-headed realist concerned only with finding useful intelligence at any human cost, there's a lot of shit in that report which should make your hair stand on end.

    And what's the defense? "Well, the people who ran the program say they did a good job!"

    Did that convince you when Obama said it about Benghazi? When the IRS said it about those emails? Why on earth would it convince you now?

    I really think the primary purpose of torture wasn't to extract intelligence, nor was it to extract false confessions, and it may not even have been to punish terrorists; I think the primary purpose was for Cheney et al to prove to themselves that they were capable of torturing people, that they had the balls to do what needed to be done, that they were hard men making hard choices.

    They tortured people to prove that they could torture people.

    The object of torture is torture.

    Say what you will, Big Brother had moral clarity.

  95. mgmonklewis7:23 PM

    Saturate people's brains with fantasy torture-pr0n teevee like 24 and god knows how many action movies, and eventually they believe the fantasy that those methods work.

  96. realinterrobang7:37 PM

    There are not enough upvotes in the world for this comment.

  97. Did that convince you when Obama said it about Benghazi? When the IRS
    said it about those emails? Why on earth would it convince you now?

    but but but moral clarity!

  98. Well, the good thing about the torture report is that it helps us separate the people who actually have souls from the people who have a horrible black void where their souls should be.

    Saved for future reference.

  99. davdoodles7:47 PM

    "But while Cheney may be accused of sounding insensitive about some of the very nasty things that were done to al-Qaeda prisoners, he nevertheless seems to posses a degree of moral clarity that few of his critics seem to have."
    You know who else... oh, fuck it.

  100. Magatha7:56 PM

    I'd like to see Dick Cheney interviewed by Ali Soufan and his counterparts. We might get some good information, and no one would have to hose down the interview room afterwards to get rid of any blood or anything.

    Either that or we have to figure out a way to re-install Cheney's soul. I believe there's a ritual for that, and then he could spend the rest of his life atoning.

  101. ken_lov8:04 PM

    I found a book review that claims "Malkin specifically states that she does not support rounding up Arabs or Muslims and putting them in camps." But it's by John "Oooo I hate liberals SOOOO much I could just spit" Hawkins, so who knows if he even read it.

  102. Middle ground = kissing on one cheek + pouring water into one nostril.

  103. TGuerrant8:35 PM

    Yeah, Heydrich. Most of what Himmler accomplished was accomplished by Heydrich it would seem (like creating the SS's intelligence service, running the murderous Night of the Long Knives purge of the Brownshirts, taking over the Gestapo and turning it into a weapon of domestic terror, and creating the Einsatzgruppen).

    Eichmann strikes me as having been a deeply evil shit but not a particularly commanding shit who, after the Czechs assassinated Heydrich, used his ghost to carry out the Final Solution Heydrich had designed and forced into being.

    Heydrich also seemed to be skilled at leaving few traces of his most criminal deeds, something Cheney excels at - those stories of him walking a memo around the White House, just the one copy for all stakeholders to view briefly, and once signed by Bush, using references to it to enforce his will but making the document itself invisible since he'd declared himself, as President Pro Temp of the Senate, to be beyond the reach of Executive Branch records archiving requirements.

    I know it's very poor form to drag the Nazis into critiques of current American leaders, but that film - the vividness of how atrocity normalizes - really does portray how "practicality" can destroy everything worth having, not just for the targets, but also for the targeters.

  104. Frank DiMeribel8:38 PM

    It's time for women's studies courses to start teaching how sexist "To Kill A Mockingbird" is toward rape victims - http://t.co/KTcDRBDpza

  105. KatWillow8:46 PM

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

    Only if they're paying him with cat shit and vomit.

  106. Jimcima8:51 PM

    Check out some of the responses to Chait's article. They use the labels "liberal" and "Democrat" like Germans used "Jew" in the 30's

  107. KatWillow8:53 PM

    Torture does work if one wants to terrify the general populace, and sanction the worst of human thought & behavior in your followers.

  108. KatWillow8:54 PM

    Both W & Cheney ran away and hid on 9/11. Its beyond belief, and why they weren't impeached for THAT I still don't understand.

  109. KatWillow9:03 PM

    That isn't defiance, that is pride aka hubris. Cheney's evil is written all over his face, comes out in every word he speaks. He's the closest thing I've ever seen to a real devil.

  110. KatWillow9:10 PM

    They were told exactly what to do, what would WORK. They didn't care about information. As a commenter quoted above "Torture is for torture's sake".

  111. KatWillow9:11 PM


  112. KatWillow9:13 PM

    Having him publicly tried -on international TV- and convicted of war-crimes, and then imprisoned would be a really excellent punishment. Public hanging, even better. It was good enough for Saddam, its more than good enough for Cheney.

  113. KatWillow9:17 PM

    Like, people who are horrified at torture -pointless torture at that- DON'T have "moral clarity"? Right.

  114. smut clyde10:04 PM

    That he constantly appears on our national stage to justify his blood
    lust and to mislead his moron followers into believing that his sadism
    is somehow some kind of clean manly swagger.

    Cheney really has no choice; he has to disregard our reality and substitute his own, because in the default reality -- the one perceived by the rest of the world -- he's a massive fuck-up who let a terrorist attack take place by disregarding warnings, then forged the evidence to send in an army to occupy a country not involved in that attack, destroying America's moral and military reserves in the process. Overriding interrogation methods which worked to impose his own combination of psychopathic sadism and sheer incompetence was just part of the pattern.

    Obviously he doesn't want his historical legacy be an accurate reflection of his actions. Strange that non-Faux media enable him in that, but you cannot expect much better.

    Anyway, my point is that it's not enough simply for Cheney to get away scotfree; it is also necessary for the rest of you to thank him, and award him the highest honours. It's one thing he learned from the Nixon administration.

  115. davdoodles10:10 PM

    "...[W]hen 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’?” "
    That's the best you can come up with, Dick? "Don't know what do do" is all the excuse you needed to torture someone? Many someones, in fact. Over many years.
    Evil is most certainly banal, but his is also unutterably grotesque.

  116. jcricket10:45 PM

    Cheney doesn't have 'moral clarity'. After hiding in an undisclosed location for all of 9/11/2001, he needs to prove he has balls. His proof is having unarmed, drugged, and disoriented boys and young men tortured by people he will never have to look in the eye.

    Again, he proves he is nothing but a fucking coward.

  117. montag210:50 PM

    Can't reinstall something that was never there. There are no mounting points.

  118. billcinsd10:56 PM

    no that's his Gold Star (for Robot Boy)

  119. AGoodQuestion11:00 PM

    Things that could conceivably define "air of defiance":
    * not wearing a tie to your board meeting.
    * using a Game of Thrones still as your desktop wallpaper at work.
    * calling the Christian Brothers at your parochial school "bro".

    Things that define defiance for Jonathan S. Tobin:
    * lacking minimal sympathy for torture victims, whether or not they did anything wrong.
    * lying to get your country into a bloody and costly war.
    * dissing the dead guy whose heart beats in your chest.

    Tobin lives in a different world and has different standards.

  120. billcinsd11:01 PM

    Stock portfolios particularly with Halliburton etc went up big time

  121. AGoodQuestion11:08 PM

    America needed... No, scratch that. The American media felt a need to promote the belief that we had strong, capable leaders looking out for us. The fact that we had something quite manifestly different from that was inconvenient and to be ignored. You can't arrest the emperor for indecent exposure while praising his new clothes.

  122. montag211:10 PM

    By now, even contemplating the question, is Cheney evil?, ends up being a pointless exercise. Of course he is. The man is so evil, he probably farts flaming coal dust.

    But, what continues to be flabbergastingly, gobsmackingly confounding is that the networks continue to have this creepy sonofabitch on their news programs not to defend torture as an unfortunate necessity, but to sing its praises.

    These become, in effect, promotionals for torture itself. The real horror, of course, is that the American people are so infinitely malleable that a majority accept, endorse and internalize these paeans to torture as their own, which is dissociative in the extreme (it goes without saying that none of them would want to ever be on the receiving end of such treatment).

    I would never have said it before, but, finally, i think Ayn Rand has won the hearts and minds of Americans.

    Things cannot but go even more rapidly downhill from here.

  123. AGoodQuestion11:15 PM

    Though I might be reading between the lines a bit more on (3).
    That's what between the lines is for.

  124. billcinsd11:16 PM

    Cheney's penis is called resolve?

  125. AGoodQuestion11:27 PM

    Not that they wanted actual information. They wanted confirmation that Saddam had a huge stockpile of WMDs, when the evidence showed and still shows he had pretty much nothing. So they wanted people to lie.

    Of course even for that bribery is probably better than torture.

  126. billcinsd11:27 PM

    you don't think Cheney's rich?

  127. AGoodQuestion11:33 PM

    I can supply the latter if they come up short.

  128. ChrisV8211:45 PM

    Mealy flesh sacks like Tobin like to play up their heroes (such as Cheney and Chris Christie) as bare chested he-men like Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian or Sylvester Stallone as Rambo. Really, though, they're just fat assholes with no social graces or ethical fiber. This will be beneficial as conservatives try to preserve Republican votes by luring in men's rights activists and gamergate misogynists. "We don't have no critical thought here. Bang your chest! Fart where you want! Carry a gun into Target! Who gives a fuck? Givin' a fuck's for sissies and queers!"

  129. billcinsd11:46 PM

    If not Soufan, maybe go the other way with Maher Arer trying to get an official apology

  130. billcinsd12:03 AM

    I think someone really meant immoral clarity

  131. butterloaf12:14 AM

    I know Cheney has been compared to Bond movie villains for some time, but he's really moved into Patrick Bateman territory here. There's evil, and then there's this; only comparisons to history's cruelest tyrants and most perverse serial killers apply now. At this point I'd say the odds are 50-50 that after his demise a dungeon full of the corpses of runaways and the homeless is discovered beneath his lake house.

  132. PorlockJunior1:40 AM

    "But what good came of it at last?"
    Quoth little Peterkin.

    "Why, that I cannot tell," said he,
    "But 'twas a famous victory."

    The "cannot tell" and the "famous" give it a powerful quality of satiric prophecy that might not be found in the original.

  133. PorlockJunior1:46 AM

    You're gonna give him a pan? Hell, he'd laugh through his excruciating pain at the way you bleeding-heart guys coddle him.

  134. smut clyde1:52 AM

    I share your concern that it is not good for a culture to adopt sociopathy as the goal and ideal of personal development.

  135. PorlockJunior2:02 AM

    Ah, but would he die in the manner of a good Christian, saying a prayer? Then Saddam Hussein is eternally one-up on him -- allowing for his being a Muslim and all that.

    This is probably too obscure; I have never once seen a reference anywhere to that aspect of the well-earned death of Saddam. But in the midst of that lynch-mob execution he died repeating a prayer for one's dying moments. Forget the theology; it bespeaks a certain final firmness of mind. And cf. Duncan's account of the death of Cawdor.

  136. PorlockJunior2:12 AM

    Funny you should mention Mr. Hussein. I just posted somewhere in this thread a sober defense of Saddam Hussein against any charge of being as low a creature as Cheney.

  137. Another Kiwi2:13 AM

    No you can be evil only if you don't give a fuck. Then it becomes a Tobin positive. He's got no truck with half-assed evil, it's full evil for him!

  138. PorlockJunior2:17 AM

    "...somehow this preference for killing rather than capturing and then interrogating prisonerscivilians is somehow considered more moral."

  139. Another Kiwi2:20 AM

    These people think that Moral Clarity is a Windshield Washer brand

  140. ColBatGuano3:09 AM

    Can we toss Liz Cheney in as a bonus?

  141. Kevin Berger5:41 AM

    I know it's petty, but it does remind me of the French-bashing mania right before the start of the war, and more specifically, of Jacques Chirac telling "war never is the answer"... only to for some commentator, pundit or politician (can't recall, don't care) to quip "War never is the answer... for the French!".

    Well, for all his faults and flaws, and they are many (the guy is a disgrace, I'll grant you that), a young Chirac, then a student at the ENA school and thus a future member in good standing of the French technocratic elite, *did* wave his deferment away, back during the Algerian war (30 000 French KIA in 8 years, that would be proportionally a bit less than 3x the US KIA in Viet Nam, 10 000 of them draftees); he *did* spent his 18 or 24 months, somewhere in the Sahara I believe, AFAIK, a quite unremarkable draftee service, about which the "macho" Chirac mostly told crude stories about his brothel-patronizing.
    Anyhow, Chirac did volunteer, for all purpose, for this savage little war, and that might have informed his later views. Including that "war never is the answer" bit, possibly.

    Cheney, OTOH and unless I'm mistaken, used 5 successive deferments, to avoid being sent, or more accurately, to avoid the risk of being sent, to Viet Nam.

    Maybe this amusing little snippet should be factored in, when talking about "Cheney's balls"?

  142. Kevin Berger6:08 AM

    Btw, all this domestic US agitation about the torture programs is somewhat perplexing, because the bulk of it has known for years, overall, the black sites, the rendition flights to "friendly" regimes' torturers,...
    One might even say that there most likely still is a lot of dirt hidden under the rug, either the really clandestine shit like death squads (if Ted Shackley was running an "off-the-book" anti-communist, anti-union, anti-any kind of opposition to the Shah Phoenix program-lite in late 70's Iran, this leaves a lot of wiggle room for the imagination about what may have went down in Iraq), agents provocateurs (the story of those SAS guys once captured disguised as locals?), rampant graft (institutional or by private entrepreneurs - what was the name of that high ranking officer/teacher at West Point, who died a strange death right in the early stage of the occupation in Iraq, after starting having second thoughts at the sight of the graft orgy that surrounded him and his quaint and pointless ideals about military honor and all? ),...
    Or, what about the plain, simple random "collateral damages"? Meaning all the Iraqi dumbfucks who were at the wrong place, at the wrong time, for whatever reason? Not quite sure that being rectally force-fed is that much worse than having your family car sprayed with machine-gun fire, killing a bunch of relatives, just because you didn't slow down quickly enough at a checkpoint.
    Hell, even just the habit of having military convoys speed along regardless, to avoid ambushes and mines. How many hit-and-runs, how many accidents, how pissed-off and disgusted Iraqis even?

    A bit too late for me not to read holier than you, my bad, but my point is that the whole thing was a clusterfuck and a disgrace, and a crime, if not a mistake, from A to Z... and in that regard, this "torture" tempest in a teapot is just that, because no lesson will be learned, and no one will certainly be punished. Oh, well.

  143. They parade him around the TVs because he's ENTERTAINMENT. It's the Modern News! Shit, they can't have Manson on all the time, amirite? And all the mass shooters end up dead before they can enjoy their 15 minutes. A famous Evil Guy = gruesome fascination = advertising $$$ Win Win

  144. Pope Zebbidie XIII7:03 AM

    They caught Chelsea Manning. Surely that justifies it all.

  145. Pope Zebbidie XIII7:05 AM

    Moral clarity occurs when the justifications are sufficiently ragged they become see-through.

  146. A to Z reminds me i must see the movie Z again.

  147. redoubtagain7:50 AM

    "Apply once for carefree torturing!"

  148. Donalbain8:18 AM

    Cheney has admitted to breaking the law. Are there ANY (likely or otherwise) circumstances in which an officer of the law can arrest him, or an judge issue a warrant?

  149. "Hubris" indeed. Makes me think of this: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/books/review/Heilbrunn2.t.html?_r=0

  150. Don't hold your breath.

  151. Well, we've got a president who wants to "look forward," which probably is code for something like what Dr. Pierce describes here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/books/review/Heilbrunn2.t.html?_r=0.

    Then, we've got a Congress populated by amoral lunatics who probably for the most part think that what Cheney did was just fine and that the media and others better just shut the fuck up about the whole thing.

    Such is not a recipe for purges, prosecutions, amnesties, or a truth commission. I won't be surprised if the CIA report as released is pretty much all we ever hear about this--unless some CIA version of Edward Snowden exists and he/she decides to come forward.

    And this doesn't even touch Scalia's expressed opinion that torturing people who have not been convicted of a crime--i.e., who are only being fucked with but not being punished--is not a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

  152. I like that construction, that we're "acting" shocked and horrified by rectal feeding, hanging from the ceiling, slamming against walls, and, of course, death by hypothermia. Obviously, real men aren't shocked and horrified by any of this, even when it's perpetrated on innocent bystanders. Only liberals "act" that way. Has this writer checked, say, with his wife and kids about what they think? Are they shocked and horrified? And, if so, are they "acting"?

    "But, honey, this is al-Qaeda!"

  153. Halloween_Jack10:14 AM

    He's very clear on not having any whatsoever.

  154. Halloween_Jack10:22 AM

    A case could be made for Martin Bormann, who was basically Hitler's consigliere and was long thought to have escaped the fall of the Reich, although his remains were later found in Berlin and positively identified.

  155. mommadillo10:57 AM

    His soul is a cold, black void

    Cheney has a soul? Who knew?

    but by Cheney's balls

    Cheney has balls? Who knew?

  156. billcinsd11:03 AM

    well camps are expensive. Killing them immediately is more economically efficient

  157. Note to selves: If/when Teddy runs for Preznit, Imma call him "Cruz Windrip" which hopefully will not be too obscure a reference.

  158. That's what the Wanssee Conference decided, pretty much.

  159. tigrismus11:26 AM

    The balls are small and they still have the vice marks.

  160. Quiet! That's a secret.

  161. Gabriel Ratchet5:36 PM

    Anyone know where to find an Orb of Thesulah?

  162. Good point. A few hundred bucks here and there and everybody would've been happy. That is, except for the sadists who wanted people to hurt for whatever their imagined crime might have been, not that "crime" was really that important.