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  1. severn says:

    I am not a USAmerican, but I don't remember seeing any 'left-wing' commentator in the feeds I read who is not deeply disappointed by Obama's failure to live up to fundamental standards on the subjects you mention. (I exclude license plate scanning, as this is presumably too parochial to have reached me.) There is no equivalence in this matter.

    Obama is shit, but at least his side largely recognises his inadequacy, and also that the alternative is much, much worse. The Republicans have abandoned both reality and morality, and at the last election most of the world seems to have hoped for Obama merely as the least worst of a dreadful choice.

  2. Charley says:

    Well, I was a teen back posting to newsnet c. 1993, but I don't remember whether I wound up posting about the clipper chip or not.

  3. Sevesteen says:

    I don't expect a Democrat to be a fiscal conservative, or a Republican to be a civil rights champion, so I'm willing to hammer one side more over some issues than I would the other. The problem from my point of view is that aisle crossing is rarely to promote more freedom, and far too common to gain or retain more government power.

  4. Patrick says:

    "I don't remember seeing any 'left-wing' commentator in the feeds I read" (Emphasis added).

    It's possible you live in a small world, after all.

    Obama - the Second Coming

  5. Michael says:

    "Extreme" rendition? Sounds much better than extraordinary rendition. I bet it involves Mountain Dew!

  6. Tam says:

    There is nothing more annoying than the Republican who suddenly got religion about the PATRIOT Act in 2009, except maybe the Democrat who decided about the same time that printing fake money to bail out corporate fat cats wasn't such a bad idea after all.

  7. Kirk Taylor says:

    Wow, took only one comment for a reader to fail the challenge and completely fail at objectivity.

  8. Kirk Taylor says:

    "The Republicans have abandoned both reality and morality", this succinctly describes both major parties.

  9. Tam says:

    Kirk Taylor,

    "Wow, took only one comment for a reader to fail the challenge and completely fail at objectivity."

    You gotta admit that the irony was breathtaking. I'd almost suspect Ken or Patrick sockpuppeting to give the post added punch if it weren't so obviously sincere.

  10. En Passant says:

    Kirk Taylor wrote Jan 24, 2013 @7:41 am:

    "The Republicans have abandoned both reality and morality", this succinctly describes both major parties.

    Nope. The Democrats abandoned morality and reality. That's just the opposite.

  11. S. Weasel says:

    Speaking in my capacity as a extreme Wingnut, George Bush was emphatically NOT our guy, and we complained bitterly at the time about the explosion of debt and the welfare state ("compassionate conservatism" is a phrase that stuck particularly hard in our collective craw).

    An objection to "government torture" is not really our thing, though.

  12. The Real Kstrayhorn says:

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's the other way around." – A favorite saying of my late father. The older I get, the more I realize this as the TRVTH.

  13. Clark says:

    @Tam:

    > You gotta admit that the irony was breathtaking.

    I knew someone was going to do it. Since my sympathies lie with the right, I was hoping it would be a lefty…but I was hardly willing to give 2:1 odds on it.

  14. Arclight says:

    Both parties spend like drunken sailors on shore leave. Part of why Republicans didn't bitch about Bush as much was he spent less lavishly than Obama, and on things we cared about more. The partisan glasses of extremes can make unsustainable spending easier to swallow. Blowing up horrible people that want to commit evil against us? Good. Bailing out corrupt Detroit unions that just hurt our ability to create affordable cars? Bad.

    That said, I think Clark is spot on about hypocrisy of all sides. However, I think, as a right-winger, that the media infatuation with Obama is the worst hypocrisy out there. I *still* hear about how it's Bush's fault that X is going wrong or Y hasn't worked better. Obama would have fixed things is the Congress of No would just roll over and let him do whatever he wants. They (the media) just can't see him doing anything wrong so large portions of the American people really don't understand a lot of the issues we're facing today is a problem of Government and not a problem of the Republicans.

  15. Clark says:

    @S. Weasel:

    > An objection to "government torture" is not really our thing, though.

    Odd, if you think about it, for "limited government" types to not pay much attention to a little thing like government torturing people.

    If I time travel, I might do something wacky like go back in time and suggest to the Founders that we encode a prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishments" in the Bill of Rights. And then conservatives could try to conserve that.

    In that alternate universe where the Constitution forbids torture and conservatives support the constitution, we might not tolerate the government drowning someone nearly to death 183 times.

  16. Tam says:

    Arclight,

    "Both parties spend like drunken sailors on shore leave."

    This is an insult to drunken sailors, who only spend their own money and stop when they run out.

  17. ZeeWulf says:

    I was ignorant and a fool during GW Bush. I didn't know anything, I didn't pay attention, and I didn't bother. It wasn't until the last year of GW that I started to wake up and realize what was happening.

    Now I'm an equal opportunity politician hater.

  18. S. Weasel says:

    Clark, I have a personal rule: I won't discuss torture without first defining what constitutes torture. Otherwise, I find myself arguing with people who consider any really unpleasant experience torture.

    My personal definition: torture is any experience so awful that no journalist would volunteer for the experience simply to write about it afterwards. That lets waterboarding out many times over.

  19. Jeremy says:

    In the past I've always complained about both parties when they're in power. They make it so easy because they simply compromise on what the extremists in their "camps" call for, pissing off both the extremists and the moderates. No party leader in my lifetime has had the courage to simply say "No" to the extremes of his own party, there have been no moderates in office that I am aware of. The stigma that moderates can't get elected because they don't sell as easily is so thoroughly ingrained in the political industry that no one even attempts to get elected as a political-centrist anymore. Funding sources also dry up faster for the centrist because the donors don't know what they're buying.

    As a result of this, this industry creates a pool of extremist politico-industrialists that surround marketable politicians and convince them of the path they must take to get elected, regardless of how extreme it really is.

    The situation we find ourselves in is an unending pattern of expanding authoritarianism justified by one "side" claiming they need the same awful rules the previous "party" had while also claiming they need more rules to make up for the previous administration's "mistakes". Never mind that both leaders might have actually been moderates at heart, the influence of the politico-industrial extremists convinces them the world is upside down and that true compromise means more destruction of the constitution.

    If you want change, you'll have to destroy the marketing machinery the political industry has created around itself. That is a much taller order than it might seem considering how plugged into social networking for the purpose of using that data to extract actionable political leads Obama was this last round. In fact it's quite possible to say at this point that wherever we're headed politically, we've passed a point of no return. This is easy to say when you consider how many people find Facebook indispensible. You now have hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens voluntarily surrendering personal data that politicians are using to help themselves get elected. You can't stop that, no one can.

  20. mojo says:

    "The old man said to take any rug I wanted."

  21. Patrick says:

    S. Weasel, without attempting to derail this thread (much) you're getting ridiculous.

    There are people who voluntarily undergo branding. Does that mean that involuntary branding isn't torture? There are people who voluntarily engage in anal sex. Does that mean that involuntary anal sex isn't torture?

    A few decades ago the government executed Japanese soldiers, as war criminals, for waterboarding. Do you think the sentence was unjust?

  22. S. Weasel says:

    So, how do you define it? Do we go by a Potter Stewart standard?

  23. Clark says:

    @S. Weasel:

    > My personal definition: torture is any experience so awful that no journalist would volunteer for the experience simply to write about it afterwards. That lets waterboarding out many times over.

    Look up "Penile subincision" on Wikipedia. People pay money to have that surgery done. Yet if someone did that to an unwilling person, we'd all agree it was torture.

    Many people engage in receptive anal sex. Yet in a prison context we call it "rape".

    etc., etc., etc.

    Hopelessness and loss of control makes a huge difference. You or I or a journalist being nearly drowned would suck. I nearly drowned once, at an amusement park. I managed to crawl out of the "tidal wave pool", cough up a cup of water, than I "walked it off" and went on a bumper car ride. Yet if four captors did the same thing to me, and I knew that they could do it again, over and over and over, as many times as they wanted, and my arms were tied behind my back the whole time, I wouldn't "walk it off" and get a slurpy. I'd be a broken man.

    Here's another proposal for a definition: if we abducted your wife or son or daughter and did activity X to them once per day, for a month, all while telling them that it would never EVER end and no one on the outside would ever know where they had disappeared to, and then we released your wife or son or daughter "unharmed" at the end, would you call a $5,000 or a $10,000 settlement just and fair?

    …or would you swear to hunt down and kill the people who had done this to someone you loved?

    (note: I am ** NOT ** making the argument "the war on terror causes terrorism"; I'm merely trying to see how trivial various tortures appear to you in the context of someone you know and care about).

  24. Patrick says:

    I don't need to define it in this context S. Weasel. The army's war crimes tribunals did it for me in 1945.

  25. eh says:

    How do you define it?

  26. The original post is awesome! The comments are not so… ummm… consistent. Too bad. Insert sound of applause for Clark here. (PS – I'm a centre-left Canadian, which puts me left of the Obama Democrats on many issues. But I love the focus on freedom, honesty, consistency and democracy that pervades Popehat and find myself agreeing with the authors frequently.)

  27. Windypundit says:

    "crap I will not remain silent about … even when my own guy is doing it 4 or 8 years from now"

    I would love the chance to denounce my own guy for doing things I've complained about others doing. But with my politics — probably similar to Clark's and Patrick's — the chances of seeing anyone I'd call "my own guy" behind the big desk is very, very slim.

  28. S. Weasel says:

    I didn't say that something isn't torture if anybody would ever volunteer for it. That would indeed be a ridiculous standard. I specifically said a journalist for the purpose of filing a story, because that speaks to a lower level of motivation.

    I volunteered for a very nasty dental procedure without anesthetic once, because I believed it necessary to my health. I would definitely call it torture in other circumstances. I certainly wouldn't expect a journalist to volunteer for the mere purpose of filing copy about it.

    Not a precise definition, I concede, but not as idiotic as you're trying to make out.

  29. Conrad says:

    Jeremy

    Some would argue that's what George H.W. Bush did in 1990's when he signed a budget that raised taxes in order to avoid automatic spending cuts. But maybe you weren't alive then.

  30. Conrad says:

    Jeremy

    No party leader in my lifetime has had the courage to simply say "No" to the extremes of his own party

    Some would argue that's what George H.W. Bush did in 1990's when he signed a budget that raised taxes in order to avoid automatic spending cuts. But maybe you weren't alive then.

    Read my lips: no new taxes

  31. Patrick says:

    So I'll ask again, S. Weasel, do you believe that the Japanese soldiers the army called war criminals and hanged after the second world war were sentenced unjustly?

    In those days, what we euphemistically call "waterboarding" was called "Chinese water torture."

  32. S. Weasel says:

    Huh. I thought "Chinese water torture" was where they dripped water on your forehead, gently, until it made you go crazy by some mechanism I've never understood. There goes another useful metaphor from my vocabulary.

    Army standards speak to the treatment of prisoners of war. I'm not well read on the Geneva Convention (or the rules of war, for that matter), but I think prisoners of war means people wearing a uniform, reporting to a recognizable command structure. From what little I know, people out of uniform, without a recognizable military hierarchy, caught in the field were regarded as spies and…put up against the wall, I suppose.

  33. David says:

    @S. Weasel:

    Not a precise definition, I concede, but not as idiotic as you're trying to make out.

    No, S, it is pretty idiotic. For its only purpose is to discriminate the case in question– torture– and it utterly fails to do that. So what other value does it have? (You offered up a bad idea, and it was roundly identified and rejected as such. The best response on your part would be, "What was I thinking?" rather than "Y'all are bein' overly harsh, now…."

  34. S. Weasel says:

    I didn't say you were being overly harsh. I said you were mischaracterizing my position. Which you were.

  35. David says:

    @Jonathan Gladstone:

    But I love the focus on freedom, honesty, consistency and democracy that pervades Popehat and find myself agreeing with the authors frequently.)

    If there's a value that unites us despite our disparate ideologies and sensibilities, it's the Enlightenment notion that consistency and honesty are trumping values.

  36. David says:

    I didn't say you were being overly harsh. I said you were mischaracterizing my position. Which you were.

    I were? News.
    In any event, even as you recharacterize and refine it, the standard you propose fails to discriminate usefully.

  37. S. Weasel says:

    Well, if you trust Wikipedia (and who does?) I'm right about Chinese water torture. It's Spanish water torture that is AKA waterboarding.

  38. Tam says:

    Patrick,

    "So I'll ask again, S. Weasel, do you believe that the Japanese soldiers the army called war criminals and hanged after the second world war were sentenced unjustly?"

    I don't know I'd be holding up the post-VJ Day war crimes trials as a model of justice. This was the same trial that hanged the most decent general in the Japanese army, a man who had been benched by his own team for being too solicitous of the welfare of his men and of Filipino civilians, for the crime of Aggravated Ass-Kicking of Douglas MacArthur in the First Degree.

  39. mmonjejr says:

    I normally don't comment here, but I wanted to drop this in–Clark, I read your post on left libertarianism and now this one, and I agree totally. And culturally, I am a man of the extreme (but anti-authoritarian) left. Thank you for injecting some rational thought into a sphere that is often left to the gut.

  40. LongCat says:

    The World War II comparisons are simply wrong. American waterboarding was done under the supervision of a physician and with no appreciable risk of harm; it's safe enough that we do it to our own troops in training.

    Japanese water boarding wasn't even close:

    "For example, the Japanese used a water torture technique called 'rice torture': They starved prisoners, then fed them large amounts of uncooked rice, and then they pumped them full of water, causing the rice to expand and stretch their internal organs to near-bursting. In another technique called the 'Tokio-wine treatment the Japanese used hoses and tea kettles to funnel water down the throat until the victim passed out — and then jumped on his stomach, causing him to vomit up the water and become revived, only to then start the process over again. Moreover, when the Japanese pumped their victims, they often used sea water, kerosene, or water mixed with human filth." http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/192491/joe-carter-grossly-uninformed-waterboarding/marc-thiessen

    Both are unpleasant, and both may very well be torture, but it's false to say that the US did the same thing in 2003 that we considered to be a war crime in 1945.

  41. Clark says:

    @Tam:

    > I don't know I'd be holding up the post-VJ Day war crimes trials as a model of justice.

    Or the German ones either. As much as the Nazis earned their silver medal in the killing-innocents-by-the-million Olympics, and as much as we were indisputable the Good Guys, it's a bit rich to go from intentionally fire-bombing civilians to trying other people for killing civilians in just 18 months and 150 miles.

  42. Clark says:

    @LongCat :

    > American waterboarding was done under the supervision of a physician and with no appreciable risk of harm;

    Ah, so if we can hook your brain up to a perfect simulation, and then in VR set you on fire 24 hours a day, 365 days a week, that's OK, because we're not hurting your body?

    What do you think it does to a man's mind to drown him nearly to death 183 times?

  43. Richard says:

    S. Weasel: I think "Cruel and unusual punishment" is a good benchmark for torture.
    (My) definition of cruel: meant to intentionally inflict physical or emotional discomfort, against a person's will
    (My) definition of unusual: something that a typical person would not experience in a typical year (timeframe picked fairly arbitrarily)

    By this definition, waterboarding is torture – the typical person would not experience the sensation of drawning in a typical year. Short-term hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, and isolation would not be torture – while they are uncomfortable, most people get hungry, thirsty, exhausted, and lonely from time to time. Long-term exposure to any of these would be torture, by the same standard – most people aren't deprived of food, water, sleep, or human contact for days at a time.

  44. ppnl says:

    Has there been a journalist that volunteered for waterboarding that decided it wasn't torture? I can only think of Hitchens and Casey Sheila. I don't remember how long Hitchens lasted but Shelia lasted six seconds.

    So how about that as a definition of torture? If the average person can't tolerate a minute of it then it is torture. Does Weasel think he can last a minute? Six seconds?

    I do not call myself a republican anymore exactly because the party has gone insane. I will be here if and when they return to some level of sanity.

    Democrats are often wrong and hopelessly wishy washy even when right so I really can't be a democrat. But Christ the party that was mine is just insane. Weasel represents that so well that I suspect a Poe.

  45. When you get to the point of parsing the torture "go/no go" line to this point (aka the Clinton depends on what the definition of "is" is), you might want to step back and examine what your goal really is.

    In other words, we shouldn't be anywhere near the muddy cross over point. It's a sad commentary on latter day America that this is the discussion point.

  46. Grifter says:

    S Weasel:

    Perhaps you should modify your definition to be that torture is somethign a journalist wouldn't volunteer for just to write about twice.

  47. Waldo says:

    "My personal definition: torture is any experience so awful that no journalist would volunteer for the experience simply to write about it afterwards. That lets waterboarding out many times over."

    You seem to have missed the obvious. Water boarding of journalist ended whenever they signaled for it to end. I'm pretty sure that was not the case for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

  48. Waldo says:

    And, to get back on topic, I'm sure there are many topics about which I would agree Democrats are hypocritical (for example, complaining about Republicans filibustering Obama's judicial nominees), but I'm not sure I agree with all your examples.

    For example, I don't really blame Obama for the continued use of Gitmo. Seems to me that he made some efforts to close it but soon found the political price to pay would be way too high because of Republican and some Democratic opposition. I draw a distinction between waiving the white flag or not pushing very hard on some issue because of opposition from the other side (not hypocritical) and embracing the other side's positions that you had previously condemned (hypocritical).

  49. Fred Bush says:

    "the fact that the US military is fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan"

    The US exited Iraq in 2011.

  50. Thad says:

    You've covered most of the biggies, but here are a couple of my favorites:

    Healthcare reform. The Democrats pass an originally-Republican plan for nearly-universal healthcare based on mandating that individuals buy private insurance, without a single Republican vote. Democrats hail it as the greatest progressive social program since social security; Republicans decry it as socialism and appeal to the Supreme Court on the claim that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

    The filibuster. 8 years ago Senate Republicans proposed something called the "nuclear option" to eliminate it; Democrats decried it as a power grab. This month Democrats thumped their chests at the prospect of enacting the nuclear option, while Senate Republicans decried it as a power grab. Mitch McConnell introduced a filibuster reform bill as a game of chicken and then, when it looked like the Democrats would pass it, filibustered his own bill. Ultimately neither party passed any kind of filibuster reform, because it's not like anyone in the Senate wants to actually get anything done; it's all about scoring cheap political points and hanging onto their seats. Which the vast majority do.

    (Remember how 2010 was a bloodbath that significantly shifted the balance of Congress? A "bloodbath" is what we call it when only 80% of congress gets reelected.)

  51. Clark says:

    @waldo:

    > Seems to me that he made some efforts to close it but soon found the political price to pay would be way too high

    Oh. Doing the right thing would be DIFFICULT.

    Well, given that, now I'll cut him (and the 99.99 % of his supporters who railed against Gitmo every day under Bush and never mention it now) some slack.

  52. Owen says:

    Clark:

    While I take your point regarding doing the right thing, whether difficult or not, shouldn't there be some mild differentiation between 1) attempting to right a wrong and failing, and 2) not attempting at all, or not even recognizing the wrong?

    Do you think that failing to close Gitmo, despite a genuine attempt, should be listed directly along with the positive endorsement of torture by the administration?

  53. Clark says:

    @Owen:

    > Do you think that failing to close Gitmo, despite a genuine attempt, should be listed directly along with the positive endorsement of torture by the administration?

    I think that partisans who give BHO a pass on this should be listed directly along with partisans who give BHO a pass on, say, massive cash infusions to banks and the handling of the GM / Delphi ass-rape.

    The point of my post is about partisans, not about politicians ; about critical thinking versus tribal loyalty, not about parties.

  54. Patrick says:

    Owen, that would be a simpler, even easier, question to answer if the President hadn't, simultaneously, chosen the EASY but evil path of killing Taliban and Al Qaeda not with soldiers who can see and distinguish targets to drone operators in Texas, who can't and are therefore much more likely to kill civilians.

    I wouldn't say that Obama always avoids tough choices regardless of moral consequences. Clearly he doesn't. But on foreign policy, he's going for the easy A every time.

  55. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    The Liberal Left Establishment believes that the Right didn't criticize George Bush because they don't really register what anybody on the Right says unless it plays into their treasured preconceptions. I was poking all over the internet during the Bush administration, and he was catching all kinds of hell from various Right Wing factions.

    I'm not sure that the Left doesn't criticize Jug-Ears. That's certainly the impression I get from my sources, but there could easily be lots of Leftie forums that I don't hear about.

    For me, the comparison comes down to this; neither one did a damned thing to help the economy, except by accident. Bush, in reaction to direct attacks, made war on two nations. The one that the most people whined about, Iraq, could reasonably be said to be the continuation of a war where the defeated side had failed to meet the terms of surrender. Obama, on the other hand, seems determined to get us involved in every Middle eastern piss-up going.

    I suspect that the verdict of history will be that both man paved, with the very best of intentions, the road to Imperial America.

  56. Owen says:

    Patrick:

    The ease of his choice to use drones against the Taliban and Al Qaeda may be up for discussion, but I don't think it needs to be injected into my question regarding the closure of Gitmo. Can't the morality of these actions be addressed individually at some point? One can support his attempt to close Gitmo (even if it was eventually abandoned) while denouncing his use of torture or drones, don't you think?

    I suppose I would also take issue with your sweeping statement that he "goes for the easy A every time" on foreign policy. Though I'm not endorsing indiscriminate use of drones, I have found rare few things to have been politically EASY for Obama.

    Clark:

    I understand your point, and I completely agree. Hypocrisy and partisanship can be condemned without regard to politics, as well as the apparent brinksmanship being demonstrated by both sides. But I might add that there is still a fine distinction: some may hate Bush for never attempting to do away with Gitmo; Obama, though he hasn't closed it, as at least publicly opposed it and attempted to close it. I don't want to further detract from your point, though.

  57. Patrick says:

    Owen:

    I refuse to limit discussion to one issue at a time. I view the man in full. So I refuse to separate Obama's doing nothing except talking about Gitmo from his choice to attack Pakistani children with drones.

    I assure you I'll be consistent on these issues, whether it's Jindal, Clinton, Biden, or Paul, come 2017.

  58. Owen says:

    Patrick:

    I believe that people can have a discussion about one issue, agree or disagree on that, and then move to talking about the man / woman / platform as a whole and agree or disagree on that, too. Sometimes limiting the conversation to a single issue helps to clarify the wider discussion. They may disagree on both points, or agree and disagree, but I don't think that they are mutually exclusive.

    But it's your blog, your rules.

  59. Patrick says:

    Only my blog, my rules when I decide to ban you. You're being perfectly civil, rational, and sensible. That's a compliment.

    So don't be silly. That's not a compliment.

  60. InMD says:

    I think this idea of of libertarianism being somehow right wing needs to die out. It isn't the same thing as the narcissistic anti-government-except-when-it's-bothering-the-people-I-think-it-should crowd that makes up the modern conservative movement and I don't see why so many people insist on there being some sort of common ground there.

  61. matthew says:

    I've read this post several times now, and I'm still not sure where Clark stands on the question about whether revenue bills should constitutionally be required to come from the House of Representatives. Perhaps Krugman's rejoinder will help it make sense.

    (Now that I've read it over, that last sentence *really* doesn't make any sense)

  62. AlphaCentauri says:

    As far as the left criticizing Obama: There's a lot of people who were/are criticizing him among the people I hang with. The election was the Republicans' to lose, because a large portion of Obama's base was disillusioned. He won last time by mobilizing people who don't vote regularly, and those people weren't in the mood to vote for him again. They didn't have anyone else they were willing to support — they just planned to stay home. I was hearing it from a lot of people.

    The Romney "47%" comment was probably the biggest game changer. Even people who do pay federal taxes — and face it, the low income workers who don't still think they do pay federal tax, because they didn't understand what the "payroll tax" was until this month — found it incredibly insulting.

    At least in my state, the Republican-sponsored voter ID laws (which a Republican lawmaker openly bragged would deliver Pennsylvania for Romney) got a lot of people's hackles up. The best way to get people interested in voting is to tell them they're not allowed to do it. Obama's support would be no where near what it is now if Obama's campaign workers weren't the ones helping people overcome obstacles to voting.

  63. John David Galt says:

    I would add to both lists:
    * The continued over-militarization of police forces (no town of 5,000 needs its own SWAT team!)
    * The continued use of unnecessary force — especially pepper spray, Tasers, and batons — against unresisting people and animals.
    * The fact that police still nearly always get of scot-free for these and other kinds of misconduct, even when it's caught on video.
    * The continued parroting by both parties of phony reasons for all these abuses by government. (For lefties it's all "to protect the environment" or "to stop abuses by the rich"; for righties it's all for the sake of the "war on terror", including efforts really aimed at druggies now that the "war on drugs" has lost its popular support.)
    * The continued willingness of "mainstream" media to help these power grabs by helping the politicians invent new phony emergencies about which "something must be done."

  64. Kirk Taylor says:

    I have been posting this all year when I hear a Dem bash a Rep or a Rep bash a Dem:

    My New Years pledge is to repeatedly point out that anyone blaming this crap on the Reps or Dems is THE problem. Both groups f**k us repeatedly for their own benefit and laugh as half of America blames the other group. The only sensible vote is a vote for a third party – it really doesn't matter which one. As soon as the big 2 parties have to negotiate with a third party to get a majority (this can happen with less than 5% third party in a chamber) things will start to change.

  65. James Pollock says:

    "As far as the left criticizing Obama: There's a lot of people who were/are criticizing him among the people I hang with."

    It's not like there isn't a widespread chorus of people complaining about Obama not being "left" enough (as an example, taking single-payer off the board to start negotiations for healthcare reform), especially early in his administration when he was still trying to reach out to Republicans.

    The real fun isn't pointing out hypocrisy; the partisans can't actually see it even when you point it out for them. Rather, it's when you point out wrongdoing by "their" guy, and their response is "what about when (the other guy) did it?", and you point out that they should have learned from their mother at about age 10 that "they/other people do it, too!" isn't an excuse for wrongdoing.

  66. Owen says:

    Patrick:

    Ah, well thank you. As a lawyer, that's probably the last time I'll be accused of having those traits.

    I didn't mean to imply that you would ban me, by the way. I just tend to believe that, when dining at someone else's house, one should try to avoid instructing the host on proper conversation topics.

  67. ppnl says:

    Hey, are thumb screws torture? Maybe we should get some journalists to try them out and tell us. Of course we would have to promise to stop as soon as they cried uncle. But hey if they try it then by definition they aren't torture.

  68. Anonymous says:

    "Both parties spend like drunken sailors on shore leave."

    I will have you know that when we pulled in at Lerwick last, I blew £100 in a single weekend. At this point, I was paid quite a bit more than 4x £100 per week, so that was very fiscally responsible compared to whatever you call your government.

  69. Tam says:

    John Thinkishness,

    "When you get to the point of parsing the torture "go/no go" line to this point (aka the Clinton depends on what the definition of "is" is), you might want to step back and examine what your goal really is.

    In other words, we shouldn't be anywhere near the muddy cross over point. It's a sad commentary on latter day America that this is the discussion point."

    It's a commentary on how far we've come in the west that we're debating whether things like sleep deprivation and waterboarding are torture or not, because it wasn't fifteen minutes ago in relative historical time that any police or military force in the west would have used these methods to root out information on the IRA or Baader-Meinhof headquarters and nobody would have so much as goddam blinked.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Nobody was tortured to reveal anything about Baader-Meinhof (unless something new has come out I haven't heard about)

  71. InMD says:

    Tam-

    Are the methods the British used against the IRA really something we should be using as a model for conducting interrogations against suspected criminals? This is I think that John was getting at.

    Waterboarding is something that was regularly described as torture when done by the Japanese in World War 2 or the Khmer Rouge so I don't understand how it isn't when done by the United States (or British, or any other government.

  72. AlphaCentauri says:

    If you'd betray your country/cause/family to make it stop, it's torture.

  73. Lucy says:

    Hypocrisy a disease of humanity. I agree and make the observation how ironic that can be. Wouldn't life, especially government, be simpler if everyone said what they meant and meant what they said, then followed through with actions that matched statements? A tall order for humanity. Politicians? Nearly impossible.

    Critical thinking may or may not come naturally to people. I don't think it comes easily, at least at first, because it involves recognizing difficult truths, not only about people we may care about or depend on (parents, emloyers, politicians) but also truths about ourselves. There is a level of accountability that comes with critical thinking also. Can someone be a practiced critical thinker and be silent? The silent bystander has been a role highlighted in recent years in a more negative light.

  74. Kirk Taylor says:

    Standing by to recieve incoming fire:

    I think it's interesting that the discussion assumes that torture is illegitimate (a valid point but not absolutely true.) It shows how far the torture debate has come. My issue with Bush and Obama is that the methods they espouse are clearly and unequivocally illegal. This makes them hypocrites and lawbreakers (pretty typical politicians therefore.)

    Alpha makes an interesting point that torture is anything that would cause you to betray your country. Well, that's the whole point of any interrogation, torture or not, so by his definition we shouldn't even bother to ask where the troops or weapons are.

    I think logical people could argue whether torture should be universally illegal. We all feel sympathy when we see the good guy use it to save people on TV (Taken, 24.) I must be a pretty evil person in that I can imagine a situation (especially if my family was involved) where I would support torture of someone who knew something that could save lives – especially if we knew he was part of a real plot, and not some dupe.

    Begin firing…

  75. Kirk Taylor says:

    add innocent to the lives saved. Torture to save battlefield lives is a death spiral.

  76. James Pollock says:

    The reason the military manual says not to torture people has nothing to do with ethics, morals, or treaties… it's because it doesn't work reliably.
    When building a case for torture, a favorite case is "the subject has knowledge that would stop a ticking bomb", and that's also the case usually used in fictional presentations. But sometimes, the subject just doesn't have the information you want. Sometimes, they can lie convincingly under pressure, even extreme pressure.

  77. Waldo says:

    Kirk, in some ways, I don't have as much of a problem with someone who has his eyes wide open and knowingly supports torture versus those who put their head in the sand and pretends what we did was not torture. At least you can have a rational debate with someone like that versus trying to debate someone who is so partisan that it affects his or her perception of reality.

  78. Waldo says:

    "The reason the military manual says not to torture people has nothing to do with ethics, morals, or treaties… it's because it doesn't work reliably."

    I frankly think you've got this backward. The reason the US bans torture has nothing to do with whether it is effective or not… it's precisely because it violates our ethics, morals, and treaties. From a utilitarian standpoint, I do think torture is counterproductive *on the whole*, but there are certainly particular instances that it results in good intelligence. As someone opposed to torture, I think we have to recognize this fact, deal with it head on, and not wish it away, just as I condemn those who support torture and try to wish it away by calling it "enhanced interrogation" and such and pretend that it is not torture.

  79. Richard says:

    Kirk:

    Torture is evil, but I will admit, I can envision a scenario in which it is the lesser of two evils.
    I would support torture in the following scenario:
    1) There is a way to immediately verify if the information obtained is correct
    2) The person has information that there is no other way to obtain
    3) The information is necessary to stop an immediate attack.

    The problem with torture is that:
    1) The information obtained under torture is notoriously unreliable, because they will say anything to make the pain stop, and because most of the time, there is no way to immediately verify the information, so they can stop the torture by giving false information.
    2) There's no easy way to verify "There is no other way to obtain this information" – i.e. "You can't prove a negative." The only way to prove that searching his apartment again will not yield useful information is to search his apartment again.
    3) Most of the time, if you've captured a terrorist, the attack has already happened, has been prevented by the capture, or can be changed by the remaining parties to compensate for the capture. So the information is, at best, compromised by the very fact that you've captured this person, and at worst, arriving too late to justify the torture.

    Based on these three observations, I'd have a hard time ever justifying torture. It would be the lesser of two evils, but only in a scenario that, outside of TV shows and movies, rarely happens.

  80. Al says:

    Patrick:

    I'm really, really, really having trouble imagining that more ground troops in Afghanistan would have led to lower civilian casualties.

  81. David Aubke says:

    "We all feel sympathy when we see the good guy use it to save people on TV (Taken, 24.)"

    Not all of us.

  82. Patrick says:

    Sure David Aubke, but you'll admit you were glad to see SCORPIO get it in Dirty Harry.

    Never wanted to see anyone tortured more than that little sonofabitch.

  83. James Pollock says:

    "there are certainly particular instances that it results in good intelligence"
    There are times when just hanging out in the office and waiting for someone to walk in the door with something to say results in good intelligence, too… but other methods work better. I didn't say that torture never works, I said it doesn't work reliably. Sometimes you get good information. Usually you don't. You can't tell the difference by looking at it.
    Even if you confine the cases to times when the person in custody HAS the information you want, there are techniques with a higher yield rate than torture.

  84. S. Weasel says:

    I'd guess the reason the military manual says not to torture people is so that they agree not to torture our people when they're captured.

    The argument whether torture is ever permissible comes after an agreed definition. You can rationally discuss whether you'd do something if you haven't agreed what it is first.

  85. Tam says:

    InMD,

    "Are the methods the British used against the IRA really something we should be using as a model for conducting interrogations against suspected criminals? This is I think that John was getting at."

    No, and I'm not saying that they are.

    What I am arguing against is that his asserion that we're having this discussion because we've hit some new ebb, fallen to a new low from some imagined past golden era. Rather, we are having it for precisely the opposite reason.

  86. Tam,

    It's a commentary on how far we've come in the west that we're debating whether things like sleep deprivation and waterboarding are torture or not, because it wasn't fifteen minutes ago in relative historical time that any police or military force in the west would have used these methods to root out information on the IRA or Baader-Meinhof headquarters and nobody would have so much as goddam blinked

    What I am arguing against is that his asserion that we're having this discussion because we've hit some new ebb, fallen to a new low from some imagined past golden era. Rather, we are having it for precisely the opposite reason.

    Your first post has an argument makes two claims:
    [a] that torture used by police and military arms of the west happened in two specific instances/areas
    [b] Nobody cared ("nobody would have so much as goddam blinked")

    If the events occurred (your "A" claim), and considered just by the society (your "B" claim) that participated in these events, then there is nothing to investigate.

    Thus, it would seem to be a valid barometer of the "righteousness" of the actions by the outcry and actions after the fact. Given that as a working premise, your second claim doesn't hold up when you look at the volume of investigation, research, and time that the UK went through about these events.

    Your second post appears to makes the claim that we (paraphrasing) "We have reached a new high in this discussion, as opposed to a new low when looking at this issue from a historical perspective". Forgive me if I've misconstrued your point.

    If I haven't, then the barometer here appears to be to simply compare social and government positions & statements in the past to where we are today. I'll avoid drawing the easy conclusion by cherry picking a few things to support my argument here and only say that my sense (a IMHO sense) is that modern discussion of the nuances of "maybe" crossing the line appear to be a long way from the flat out condemnation (and prosecution of both friendly and enemy forces) in the past.

    Slightly off topic, but I'd like to throw out a theoretical that a few friends and I have been kicking back and forth. Given the "modern" interpretation of human rights, as well as the current state of the fourth estate, could Gandhi have dislodged the British from India?

  87. Sorry – should have proofed that a little better. The first two paragraphs should have:

    Your first post has an argument that makes two claims:
    [a] that torture used by police and military arms of the west happened in two specific instances/areas
    [b] Nobody cared ("nobody would have so much as goddam blinked")

    If the events occurred (your "A" claim), and were considered just by the society (your "B" claim) that participated in these events, then there is nothing to investigate.

  88. bvierra says:

    Clark, Thanks for this well written article. As someone who was lucky enough to have an extreme conservative father and an extreme conservative mother I had the great experience (as far back as I can remember) to not only have dinner every night where we actually participated in discussion, but actual civil discussion about politics. Both of my parents would argue a point and even ask me my opinion on it and discuss it with me. I can not remember a single time where anyone got upset, yelled, or anything. There were disagreements on things should be handled, but it was always civil.

    At 18 I joined the military and served under Bush, being young and well in the military I thought the CiC was basically God who had a slight speech and learning disability, but nontheless God. After receiving a medical discharge, I still felt for years that he was decent. I was a Republican and proud of it. Voted for him for his second term and my reasoning was I did not trust Kerry to continue to support the troops enough (was I right, I am not sure but that was my reasoning).

    I was also all set to vote for McCain, then the weirdest thing I have ever seen happened… they brought in Palin. I have nothing against women at all, but let's just be nice and say she could not lead the country. McCain was older and him dying in the White House was a real possibility. So what was I to do, I voted for Obama.

    What happened next REALLY got me though… Rather than the GOP saying hey look we screwed up, they double downed on it. I literally watched the people I thought were supposed to lead the nation not only start crumbling, but the entire time they did it they blamed everyone else.

    Now do I blame bush for the deficit, yep. Do I blame Obama for not fixing it, nope.

    Do I blame Bush for the war in Iraq? Nope, I have to believe he went off the intel he had, even if now it is proven to be wrong.

    Do I blame Obama for the Drones, no in fact I commend him for it. Anything to keep my bothers and sisters off the ground and out of trouble. I really hate the whole kill list argument, it is a complete misunderstanding of what the policies are as well as how the are carried out, but that is another discussion.

    Now do I voice my criticism of Obama? Every chance I get. I cannot stand the way he handled the bailouts or how he bows down to Hollywood.

    Do I think it is his fault that Gitmo is still open? No. It really amazes me how much people forget that Congress actually has to say yes to most of what he tries to do. Sure compromise, but the issue is if he compromises on issue A to do issue B, people throw a fit that A was not fixed.

    All I can say for sure, is that being POTUS must be the hardest most taxing job in the world. No matter who the president is people need to remember this. Being POTUS is not something anyone can just do. How many people do you know that bitch about the President that refuse to work over 8hrs a day? Whine whenever they are on call? Now think about living at your work and not only working 16hrs a day, but being on call 24/7 with no real privacy and the media hounding everything you and your family do.

  89. Rich Rostrom says:

    Do you want the President to be right or be President?

    A President has a limited amount of political capital. Even FDR didn't always get his way.

    Accordingly, a President has to prioritize. If he tries to do everything he wants to do, he will make so many enemies that he won't accomplish anything.

    So Presidents compromise. They back off some issues and fight on others.

    Bush had one thing he thought he had to do: fight the War on Terror, in spite of intense opposition and lukewarm support. So he backed off on other politically expensive issues, such as entitlements reform and spending cuts.

    Obama? He obviously wanted his health bill – and it took all his pull to squeeze it through Congress. So he backed off on other politically expensive issues, such as Gitmo.

  90. James Pollock says:

    "Bush had one thing he thought he had to do: fight the War on Terror, in spite of intense opposition and lukewarm support."

    I don't think W got either intense opposition or lukewarm support in conducting the War on Terror… until his detour into Iraq. A very noisy subset of neocon voices were clamoring to "Get Saddam!" BEFORE the 9/11 attacks, and there was opposition to THAT, but support for the war in Afghanistan remained high all through W's time in office. Obama campaigned on INCREASING efforts in Afghanistan in 2008… so much so that some of the punditry on the right floated Afghanistan as "Obama's War".
    Yes, the Iraq War became unpopular as it dragged on, in part because the administration sold it as a quick in, quick out operation and it turned into a seemingly never-ending slog, but W's team have nobody to blame for that but themselves. The notion that a quick military victory would be followed by a long, contentious occupation plagued by incidents of terrorism shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the word "Palestine".

    I'd go so far, however, as conjecturing that if 9/11 had been sniffed out and prevented, W would have been out after one term. He had three major goals coming in: The tax cuts (which destroyed the surplus), immigration reform, and privatization of Social Security. Republicans would have stepped on immigration reform and Democrats would have stepped on privatization of Social Security, leaving him with nothing to run on in 2004. I think Hillary could have beaten him, followed by McCain (with a moderate running-mate) in 2008. Mr. Obama would still be Senator from Illinois, and Elizabeth Warren would still be teaching.

  91. Xenocles says:

    "If you'd betray your country/cause/family to make it stop, it's torture."

    Some people would do that to avoid confinement. I don't think this definition is good enough – a start, but it needs work.

    I think I'd go so far as to say torture is
    a) any physical contact with the prisoner not required to prevent his escape or immediate injury to his captors (i.e., not directly related to the logistics of confinement)
    b) any condition of confinement that is i) inadequate to support the prisoner's long-term health, ii) deliberately imposed, and iii) not a direct necessity of the confinement (i.e., for the safety of the prisoner, other prisoners, or the captors; or a result of a general logistical problem facing the detaining party).

    A lot of you seem to be lawyers; how's that for a definition?

  92. AlphaCentauri says:

    I guess when I meant "you," I meant the folks here, none of whom seem to be sociopaths. And if someone is that claustrophobic, prison docs will give them anxiolytics, because otherwise it would be unreasonably cruel for their cell mates trying to sleep with them screaming all night.)

    The Stockholm syndrome shows that people can change their points of view while in captivity without being turned into emotional cripples in the process. I don't know how much research has been done into the conditions that make that phenomenon most likely to happen. Since the underlying assumption of the war on terror is that America is supposed to stand for noble ideals that deserve to be defended from terrorists, we should be willing to entertain the idea that in the right circumstances, captive terrorists will realize they've been misled by manipulative cult leaders and will embrace the idea of living in a multi-faith society.

  93. Waldo says:

    James, I think you underestimate the efficacy of torture as a method of gaining intelligence from an enemy. History is replete with examples of its effective use. For example, the Gestapo wiped out many underground resistance cells based on information gained through torture or the threat of torture. Your qualification of "reliably" if taken to mean something like "always" would certainly not apply to torture, but that would also be true of all intelligence gathering techniques. Whether it is the "best" or "most reliable" technique seems like a question that is too vague to be answered. I don't doubt that it is not the best for every situation, but of course, if used sometimes, it doesn't have to be used every time.

    Please don't mistake my position. I do not think the US should ever use torture. It's illegal. It's immoral. Most (not all!) times, I think the same or better information can be gathered through other means. But, my biggest argument torture is utilitarian. Although I think history teaches that it can be effective, I think history also teaches that its use is difficult to impossible to limit to targeted situations. The use of torture makes us hypocrites, destroys our moral authority, and motivates our enemies. In short, it causes us to lose hearts and minds.

  94. James Pollock says:

    "James, I think you underestimate the efficacy of torture as a method of gaining intelligence from an enemy."

    Well, I don't. My references to the "reliability" of torture encompass two problems: The ratio of good intel provided relative to bad intel provided (OK, the guy talked… did he tell the truth, or not?), and the yield rate (did the guy talk, or keep his mouth shut?)
    I certainly never claimed that torture never works… of course it does, some of the time. So does asking politely. So does bribery. Interrogators have a very full toolbox of methods to extract information from people who do not want to share it. Torture works (sometimes)… but there are other tools that do a better, more consistent job of producing usable intel.
    (To continue the "toolbox" metaphor, sometimes you can use a small regular screwdriver to drive or pull a Phillips-headed screw… but the right tool for the job is a Phillips screwdriver. The argument that "well, torture sometimes works/well, torture has been shown to work in the past" is similar. Sometimes you get the Phillips screw out. Sometimes you just strip it, making it that much harder to pull later. A counter-argument: sometimes you don't HAVE the right tool, so you have to work with the tools you have. Rebuttal: True, but that's an argument for stocking the toolbox correctly in the first place.)

  95. James Pollock says:

    "If you'd betray your country/cause/family to make it stop, it's torture."

    Most spies turn on their countries for money. Is wanting more money/being broke torture?

  96. AlphaCentauri says:

    Most spies turn on their countries for money. Is wanting more money/being broke torture?

    I suspect most members of intelligence agencies would argue with that. If you would sell out for cash, you were never committed enough to your country for it to be considered "betrayal" rather than "changing employers." If it were that easy to get spies to flip, there would be no government secrets in the first place and the idea of secret intelligence agents wouldn't have been conceived.

  97. Zack says:

    Sticking my head in the discussion (always a dangerous thing to do): my personal definition of torture would be 'anything that I want to inflict on someone that I am not willing to do to myself'. So I don't personally think waterboarding is torture, but if it was my call to make, I would waterboard myself before ever inflicting it on another person. Ditto sleep deprivation or any other form of 'Enhanced Interrogation Technique' being applied. The person giving the order to employ these techniques should undergo them himself first, so that he knows exactly what he's doing; ideally this should go all the way up the chain to the President. I think this sort of definition and restriction would ensure the judicious use of those sorts of techniques.

    And I hope I will have the fortitude, four years from now, to complain if and when a Republican makes the exact same questionable decisions Obama is now.

  98. James Pollock says:

    "I suspect most members of intelligence agencies would argue with that."
    Not so much. I suspect that you don't really know anything about members of intelligence agencies.

    "If it were that easy to get spies to flip, there would be no government secrets in the first place and the idea of secret intelligence agents wouldn't have been conceived."
    Huh? WTF are you talking about? How did you get from "most of the spies who 'flip' are motivated by money" to "It's easy to get them to 'flip'?
    Intelligence agents collect information from spies (also from open sources, and occasionally but rarely from their own activities), so your theory is that if there were more spies the notion of intelligence agents wouldn't have been conceived? What are the spies doing, mailing it in?

  99. bacchys says:

    If a detained enemy combatant hasn't committed a war crime, why would you put him on trial?

  100. James Pollock says:

    "If a detained enemy combatant hasn't committed a war crime, why would you put him on trial?"

    To determine if the person you've detained is, in fact, an enemy combatant, or just a person who picked a very poor place and time for a picnic.

  101. Mackinstyle says:

    From a humble Canadian point of view. You mention that the media and public seem to give Pres. Obama a break and are silent when it comes to a lot of the bullshit his Administration pulls. I thought for a moment… then why, from my perspective, do I feel like the media has been amazing at being anti-Obama? Ah, right. Because the media has been incredibly good at giving stupid people and stupid topics so much air time. Instead of grilling Obama on things in that list, they grilled him on inane crap like how he's going to steal guns and force abortions and isn't actually American, etc. etc.

    You know your political system is working as intended when it's immensely boring. That means the elected representatives (in my case, Members of Parliament) are tackling real issues with real debate and not just attacking each other with sound bytes and anti-isms. The fact that U.S. politics makes such popular and effective news is probably a sign that the politicians are spending way too much playing the media-politics game and not actually sitting down and debating the issues with facts and precedent and all that boring stuff.

  102. babaganusz says:

    first attempt at a wordpress blockquote; fingers crossed.

    Richard:

    well-closed post. even casts light in the direction of those who spin the ticking trope-bomb by way of justification of cheney and whats-his-name and their big boy pants and so on, and thereby betray (if nothing else) something along the lines of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" with respect to imagination rather than intelligence… enough imagination to latch onto a flamingly cinematic hypothesis – not enough to grasp the dangerous exceptionalism bleeding through.

  103. Waldo says:

    @ Zach, "my personal definition of torture would be 'anything that I want to inflict on someone that I am not willing to do to myself'."

    Besides the fact that your test would define anything that is not physically unbearable pain for the the most hardened torturer (not the torturee), which seems way too excessive and also doesn't make much sense, I think your torture test misses the real experience. Torture is not just physical pain or physical injury. A big part is mental fear and terror. Knowing the guy in control is really your friend and will not take things to far and that you can put an end to things when you choose to makes a big difference.

  104. dhlii says:

    Hypocracy is a common human trait, but it is far less common among libertarians. Granted, there are few instance off modern libertarians actually having the power to act or not on their values, but for the most part libertarians tend to rank fairly low on hypocracy.
    All libertarians do not have uniform values, but those of us opposed to an issue during the bush administration continue to oppose it during the Obama administration.
    In the 90's I would not have called myself a libertarian – but I was opposed to the Clipper Chip then. I was opposed to the Patriot act under Bush, and remain opposed under Obama. I have shifted positions on other issues over time – am I permenantly stuck with every political view I held 20, 30, 40 years ago ? Regardless, my views have little to do with which party is in control. i will and have condemned Bush for many of the same things I have maligned Obama for – I have no problem labeling Obama Bush II (or III)

  105. mojo says:

    Japan was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention. Therefore, they could legally do whatever they wanted with captured prisoners. Torture them, mutilate them, use them as experimental subjects. All perfectly legal, if inhuman.

    Same deal for the Talibunnies. Only the civilized are bound by civilized rules.

  106. James Pollock says:

    "Hypocracy is a common human trait, but it is far less common among libertarians."
    Of course, every group claims this about itself. It's not as much about avoiding hypocrisy as it is in being able to recognize it in ourselves.

  107. Lago says:

    @ pollock

    I think that's a good way to put it. I don't reconcile my environmental views with my more libertarian views, because i don't think a libertarian society and a free market is perfectly neat and ideal. Thus, more laws, and government owned land. It's hypocritical, I recognize that.

  108. James Pollock says:

    It isn't hypocritical to have a nuanced opinion on various issues, taking circumstances into account. It IS hypocrisy to rail against the failings (moral or otherwise) of others while indulging in those exact same failures. So, when Republicans complain about government spending despite increasing the budget when they had control of government, that's hypocrisy, as it is when Democrats complain about large campaign donors "buying" elections while accepting large campaign contributions.

    To say "I believe that free markets usually provide the best method for allocating resources" and then support government actions that alter the functioning of the free market MAY be rank hypocrisy or it may simply reflect a nuanced view that not all markets are "free" or should operate the same way (insert boring economics lecture here about structural barriers to entry, monopoly and monopsony, and negative and positive externalities).
    Even people who favor "free market" support government intervention, often without realizing that they do. For example, when people do not honor their contracts, the aggrieved party can seek recompense through the courts… a service provided by the government.

  109. Kirk says:

    Libertarians can be non-hypocritical because they don't have anyone of note in office, so they hate both parties Presidents.

  110. zeek says:

    I can't find American politics anything but funny – tommorow I meet with an actual socialist in Canada to discuss his upcoming campaign's social media. And there's a greater than 50 percent chance we are going to win. The Idea that Democrats are left-wing is preposterous to me.

  111. Cynthia says:

    I read Greenwald's With Liberty and Justice for Some last year and I find myself thinking about it on a nearly daily basis. I'd highly recommend it to everyone.

  112. princessartemis says:

    zeek, it might help to remember that left and right are relative, not absolute. That is how some forms of socialism are considered right-wing (depending on who you talk to); compared to others, they are.

  113. Chris R. says:

    I am sorry, but a journalist volunteering to be water boarded knows 2 things, he is going to survive and it is going to stop. A captive who doesn't know where they are or if anyone knows they are there, who is told this will never stop, is not being given the same treatment as the journalist.

  114. Chris R. says:

    On the argument of torture and reliability, a tactical nuclear warhead will more reliably break an enemies lines than any assault. It doesn't mean it should be used.

  115. James Pollock says:

    "On the argument of torture and reliability, a tactical nuclear warhead will more reliably break an enemies lines than any assault. It doesn't mean it should be used."
    You're speaking hypothetically, of course, as this approach has never been tried.

  116. Joe Pullen says:

    Ah the words politics and critical thinking – in the same sentence no less. Saw this today and well . . . . .

    http://anoncentral.tumblr.com/post/42202321005/any-questions

  1. January 24, 2013

    [...] Consistency – Clark, Popehat [...]

  2. February 6, 2013

    [...] Innula. And the folks over at Popehat did a good job voicing some of my concerns over the "waxing and waning of outrage" depending on who is in office. [...]