Torture Today, Torture Tomorrow, Torture Forever

No reporter has been more on top of President Barack Obama's sorry record on War on Terror-related flip-flops than the Washington Times' Eli Lake. Snippet from his latest:

On issues ranging from the government's detention authority to a program to kill al Qaeda terrorist suspects, even if they are American citizens, Mr. Obama has consolidated much of the power President George W. Bush asserted after Sept. 11 in the waging of the U.S. war against terror.

The continuities between the two administrations were evident this week, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit that five former U.S. detainees brought against a subsidiary of Boeing Co. known as Jeppesen Dataplan.

The former detainees alleged that Jeppesen Dataplan facilitated their transport to U.S. and foreign prisons, where they were tortured. The Obama Justice Department, like the Bush Justice Department before it, urged the court to dismiss the case on grounds that state secrets would be disclosed in litigation.

In a 6-5 decision, the court ruled in favor of the federal government.

"It can fairly be said that the Bush administration made torture the law of the land and the Obama administration is making impunity for torture the law of the land," said Ben Wizner, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case.

Read the whole thing here.

Read Lake's important April 2010 Reason story, "The 9/14 Presidency: Barack Obama is operation with the war powers granted George W. Bush three days after the 9/11 attacks."

Watch Reason.tv's 2009 video, "Barack W. Bush?," which features Lake and discusses the essential continuities between the Bush and Obama admins when it comes to civil liberties.

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  • Lefty||

    But, but, Koran burnings! Sarah Palin! Teabaggers!

  • Cyto||

    You jest, but on my drive home last night I listened to a couple of NPR disembodied voices opining as to how Sara Palin was different, even in today's polarized political environment, because she demonizes the opposition. The irony was particularly palpable because the "round table" discussion about how evil Sara Palin is was the lead-in to an interview with the author of a "behind the scenes" expose book about Sara Palin that promises to expose her as the evil, manipulative monster that she really is and was immediately preceded by a blurb that the creepy reporter who moved in next door to the Palin family to spy on them had moved out.

    The callers were able to restore some balance, however. The first caller they put on wanted to know why the press hadn't fully investigated Palin (which the panel agreed was singular to Palin and no other politicians escape such scrutiny). The same caller proceeded to point out that she never believed the story about the birth of Trig, the down's syndrome baby, and wondered why the media never fully investigated that. When the "balanced" round table gave a perfunctory acceptance of the premise rather than denouncing her "birther" views, I gave up and changed the channel.

  • Fluffy||

    My problem with Palin has never been that she's different.

    My problem with her is that she's exactly the same, but John persists in asserting she's different on no basis other than blind hope and Team Red! boosterism.

  • ||

    No fluffy you just assume I think that because understanding what I actually think prevents you from waging your beloved blue team red team culture war.

    I have never claimed Palin was different than any other politician. In fact, that is the whole reason I defend her. She is no different. Better than some worse than others. That is why it is so fucked up that she gets so much special criticism that other politicians don't get. She only gets that because she is a nobody who had the nerve to try to join the blue team ruling class. It is that part that pisses me off. As far as her as a person or politician, she is better than a lot of them, but not ideal either.

  • ||

    I don't agree with Palins politics, but then I don't agree with most of the Dem/Rep politicians. My dislike of Palin stems from the fact that she stepped down as Gov. of Alaska half-way through her term because "she believed she could do more for Alaska & America" as a private citizen. What reason would anybody have for electing her to another office when she has shown she will drop out when convenient. She left to make more money on the talking head circuit---NTTAWWT. Just be honest.

    Oooops---politician=prevaricator

  • marlok||

    I'm with you, duder. I didn't think the "not a serious candidate" thing had any teeth, given her governorship (and given the thin resume of our current emperor), until she resigned her post. It would be nice to have someone in charge who appears to work hard for a living rather than just ride the media wave.

  • ||

    If you will admit that Palin is a typical politician rather than some rabid 40IQ fundamentalist intent on creating a theocratic state, then we really don't disagree about her.

  • ||

    ""That is why it is so fucked up that she gets so much special criticism that other politicians don't get.""

    Bullshit. Any politicians that stands a decent chance of getting elected is hit with all sorts of opposition rhetoric. And much of her crap was brought on by her silly statements. Like being able to see Russia from her doorstep. There are probably a thousand ways to make the point that she was close to Russia. But she thought she would be cute about it and it failed.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    "I can see Russia from my House!"
    - Tina Fey, playing Sarah Palin on SNL

    I think you kind of made John's point, though.

  • MNG||

    See, I think most people know the difference between Palin's actual quote and Fey's spoof, but they just also find Palin's original quote to be pretty stupid (that her state's proximity to Russia gave her foriegn policy cred). She should have just said that she has as much foriegn policy cred as any governor (or two year US Senator) and left it at that.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    See, I think most people know the difference between Palin's actual quote and Fey's spoof

    I think you're wrong there.

  • ||

    ""I think you kind of made John's point, though.""

    Which point is that? Politicans often are misquoted, that doesn't make palin special.

  • ||

    For the record, I'm not opposed to Palin. I was interested to see if she would change the republican party of if the party would change her. I think the latter was the case. Maybe due to being a vice-president contender.

    I do think she sunk her political career when she quit as governor. The same bullshit she dealt with will be magnified on a national scale. If she couldn't stand the politics of state office, she will not be able to stand the politics of national office.

    But I'm certainly not anti-Palin.

  • ||

    I do think she sunk her political career when she quit as governor.

    I disagree. I believe she has found her niche by doing all of those appearances.

    I think she is sort of like a Republican version of Paris Hilton: paid to make appearances and occasionally do/say something outrageous.

  • Shannon Love||

    She was forced to quite office for financial reasons. Alaskan law allows private citizens to file corruption law suits against any elected official while mandating that officials have to defend the lawsuits from their personal funds.

    She faced IIRC, 60 such suits, all meritless, in a short period as a result of an orchestrated campaign. She had to spend up to $500,000 in legal fees with only an upper-middle class income. Had she'd stayed governor the attack would have destroyed her family financially.

    It wasn't because she "couldn't stand" the politics at the state level, it was because she wasn't wealthy enough to play the game.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Yeah, Tricky, there were lots of people dedicated to finding illegitimacy with other politicians' children.

    Oh, wait...

  • MNG||

    Like John Edwards?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    An important part is that John Edwards's case was true Regardless, there are no mainstream political bloggers out there flogging the dead horse of illegitimacy...except for Andrew Sullivan.

  • MNG||

    Oh, I'm not going to defend Sullivan. That guy is boring and nuts. Does anyone take that guy seriously?

  • ||

    The editors at the Atlantic who keep giving him a pretty prime blog spot do.

  • ||

    Not to mention his friends in the administration who refuse to deport him after being charged with a crime, as would happen to your average resident foreigner.

  • ||

    I didn't know that he actually emigrated to the Vermont Republic.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    One place where I am a "bad libertarian" is that I do not think the HIV-ban for immigrants should have been lifted.

  • ||

    Wasn't the John Edwards story broken by the National Enquirer?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I think she's not corrupt, and I suppose that makes her stand out somewhat. On policy and typical political pandering, I agree with you, and a trip to her web page quickly confirms that.

    John has a valid point, though. She's been singled out for harsh treatment that isn't typical at all, and is not warranted based on her politics. Why is that? She obviously represents some sort of serious threat. What is it?

  • Cyto||

    Another interesting topic of discussion from the same NPR segment: Sara Palin uses a ghost writer for her twitter account. The host questioned, "but don't most politicians have other people post to their twitter and facebook pages?" Then everyone, the host included, agreed that Palin is different and dangerous, and we need to investigate who is writing these posts, and why, and to expose this dangerous activity.

    There really must be some pathology at work here.

  • Shannon Love||

    The best explanation for the left's bizarre Palin obsession is status-anxiety. Status-anxity occurs when a person believes that that their position in a real or imagined social hierarchy is threatened.

    Status-anxity occurs most strongly when a group has no meritorious claims to their social position. The classic example would be the pre-WWII European aristocrats who inherited their wealth and position and who therefore had no right to status other than cultural inertia. Closer to home, the most vicious racist were poor and working class whites who knew full well that only racism kept them from being on society's bottom status tier. As long as all non-whites were judged inferior to any white person, a poor white person still had some status.

    Prior to the 60s, the left could point to the real and imagined successes of the technocratic progressive era to justify their status. After the 60s, as the left as begun to fall behind the times and become less and less practically effective, they have become obsessed with maintaining their status by denigrating everyone else as stupid and immoral.

    Since they have no meritorious indicators of a personal and group success, leftists are forced to fall back on the same standards employed by the European upper classes. They demand that people go to the right elitist schools. They demand that people live in certain exclusive communities. They demand that people have the right recreational interest. They demand that people enjoy the same kind of art or music. They demand that people have the proper modes of speech, accent and allusion. They demand that people have the right religious beliefs. And so on.

    On this basis Palin is a nightmare: She went to state college. She lives in the "backwoods". She likes hunting, fishing and sports. She likes country music and representational art. She doesn't have the right accent. She doesn't dress appropriately. She's a Pentecostal instead of atheist, Unitarian, Episcopalian etc.

    Palin's success stabs them in the heart of their anxiety. If Palin can be a successful political leader, what does that say about the leftists' claims of intellectual and moral superiority? If people don't just instantly assume that leftists are smarter and better than everyone else, why would people trust a leftist government to make so many decisions about the people's live e.g. medical care?

    That is why leftists see Palin as a genuine and significant threat of unusual magnitude. To them, she is especially evil because she especially threatens the leftist elites' claim to status in society.

    In the emotional thinking of leftists, she is a personal threat to everything each individual leftists has attained in life. The attacks on her and people like her will never end. In fact, they will intensify the more prominent she becomes.

  • ||

    You hit the nail exactly on the head Shannan. That is totally what the Palin frenzy was about.

  • SIV||

    Excellent
    makes up for your lawn-shilling yesterday

  • dhex||

    thank you for hilarious-izing my day.

  • ||

    Great post, Shannon.

    I would also add the Palin has a charsima and authenticity that middle America loves, ergo, the leftist ruling class hates.

  • ||

    Palin is a nightmare

    Can't argue with you there.

    If Palin can be a successful political leader, what does that say about the leftists' claims of intellectual and moral superiority?

    It doesn't say anything. She became governor of a backward hick-state (take a look at current and former governors for an idea of just how little it takes to become a governor); she lost a national election to a charismatic empty suit; she quit her governor gig halfway through her term.

    leftists see Palin as a genuine and significant threat of unusual magnitude

    I don't think so. She's an easy target, and so-called "intellectuals" and "comedians" love an easy target. Was Dan Quayle a "threat"? No. Regarding "unusual magnitude": to an ant, a dung beetle seems enormous.

  • Shannon Love||

    Hmmm, I think you rather proved my point.

    I don't recall anyone talking about "backward hickstates" when Howard Dean was running based on being the governor of tiny Vermont.

    There is definitely a lot of class/regional bias here.

  • Jason||

    There is definitely a lot of class/regional bias here.

    It's the Democrat's Southern Strategy.

  • ||

    She became Infotainment Hype and irrelevant as soon as she stepped down as governor.

  • Cyto||

    My problem with Palin has never been that she's different.

    That was a large portion of the irony, that a group of left-leaning commentators would opine as to how "demonizing the opposition" is what makes Palin different (while demonizing the opposition).

    Another salient quote from the discussion was "demonizing the opposition is new to the political landscape, and is the sole providence of the right. You don't see Democrat politicians doing this, they tend to attack the opposition on the issues." This was of course met with agreement all around.

    The capacity of people to self-delude is immense.

  • ||

    Palin recently "tweeted" that the Gainesville preacher should "stand down," a creepily militaristic term seemingly addressed to a fellow holy warrior. And she didn't waste the opportunity to conflate the Koran Conflagrator Controversy with the Near Ground Zero Mosque and Swimming Pool foofaraw. Idiot or evil genius?

  • ||

    "Palin recently "tweeted" that the Gainesville preacher should "stand down," a creepily militaristic term seemingly addressed to a fellow holy warrior."

    WTF? Of course if she had said "burn it baby" you would be bitching about that to. Nothing the woman says will not be met with panic and derision by some quarters.

  • ||

    I'm hardly panicking. I'm merely commenting on what she did say, not what (in your mind) she might have said.

  • ||

    In all fairness she was the Commander in Chief of the AK national guard. Well, as much as any governor is of their guard.

    Sure it's military jargon, but you are not just commenting on what she said. The "fellow holy warrior" part is your perception.

  • ||

    Palin's communications are laced with religious rhetoric. "Holy warrior" is not mere "perception."

  • ||

    It's not hard to avoid military terminology while telling someone not to burn books. Her choice of terminology offers a disturbing portrait of her state of mind.

  • ||

    Maybe she should have left the military jargon on her desk next to her resignation as AK's commander in chief. DOH!!!

  • Sarah||

    You betcha!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Like Palin is the only politician/former politician/political hack of EITHER party who "demonizes the opposition"...

  • ||

    Nope. She's just like them, only less skilled at it. She appeals to humanity's lowest, basest instincts: nationalism, tribalism, mysticism.

  • ||

    "She's just like them, only less skilled at it. She appeals to humanity's lowest, basest instincts: nationalism, tribalism, mysticism."

    I would say judging by the results she is very skilled at it. And Democrats have never appealed to tribalism and mysticism. What fucking planet do you live on? The only reason you don't like her appeals to tribalism is because you and your tribe are too busy hating her and her tribe.

  • ||

    ""And Democrats have never appealed to tribalism and mysticism. ""

    He put either in all cap. Did he need to bold and underline it too?

  • ||

    Nevermind. Damn threads.

  • ||

    judging by the results she is very skilled at it

    The results:

    1) Lost the 2008 election
    2) Quit her job as Alaska Governor in midterm
    3) Convinced right-wing yokels to buy her book
    4) Made millions with her appeal to Jesus/Country/Military
    5) Proved that a sucker is born every minute

  • ||

    I've read her gawd-awful book --I had to do somethin' while waiting 5 hours in line for her stoopid autograph. What was with all of the quotes in it from French philosophers?

  • ||

    "'1) Lost the 2008 election""

    I don't remember vice-president being on the ballot.

    McCain lost the election. How much of that had to do with Palin is debateable. But I think McCain did a pretty good job of losing the election on his own.

  • ||

    Sure, Palin was just a wobbly deck chair on McCain's Titanic. But one would hardly list that catastrophic loss as an accomplishment.

  • SIV||

    Suckers

  • ||

    Hey Brink Lindsey, suck on it you douchebag.

  • ||

    Hope! Change!

  • Jerry||

    So Chony, where's your messiah now?

  • Tim||

    "We are the ones we've been waiting for!"

  • ||

    The truth is no one but a few fringe libertarians care if the government tortures a few people now and then. That is the reality. I said that clear through the Bush years. And I was right. All those lefties who got up talked about the "fierce moral imperative" and "war crimes" were just lying. They didn't care about any of that stuff. They just wanted to score political points.

  • a||

    The flipside of that is people like Eli Lake, who don't really give a shit about torture, civil liberties, or mass murder except when they can use it to bludgeon the Moonies' enemies.

  • marlok||

    I think Lake is just a little pissed that when he was defending Bush's terror policies, everyone called him an enabler of war crimes, but now that Obama is doing the exact same stuff, the lefties don't say shit.

  • Mr Whipple||

    John MaCain is a "fringe libertarian"?

  • Mr Whipple||

    John MaCain McCain is a "fringe libertarian"?

    Preview, damn it!

  • ||

    No he is not. But he is definitely in a small minority. And that assumes that he was telling the truth in the campaign.

    But assuming he was, and I think McCain for all of his faults probably was being honest, that means all of the people who claim to care so passionately about this issue and voted for Obama made a huge mistake. Now thanks to Obama and his hypocritical supporters, this stuff is bi partisan. When the Republicans take over in 2013 and continue it all they will have to say in response to criticism is "we are just continuing the bipartisan policy of two previous administrations." Obama has made this stuff politically bullet proof.

    Thanks a lot liberaltarians.

  • creech||

    Come, come. The "liberaltarians" who supported Obama had no more responsibility for his election than did the Libertarians who voted for Barr instead of McCain. Wouldn't it be great if libertarians were the actual balance of power in most elections?

  • Fatty Bolger||

    That would require them to actually, you know, vote.

  • Libertarian Guy||

    Hey, I voted! Or I would have, but you know... like, my buddy got this excellent half-lid and we were partying and time kinda got away from us, but you know... like, I totally would have voted, man....

  • ||

    No, it would require the Libertarian Party to seek out candidates who could express libertarian views in a cogent manner and take the time to "bring them up through the ranks".

    I remember in California when we recalled Gray Davis (and put Arnie in) that the LP candidate listed her occupation as Ferret Activist. If this is the best we can do in a major election, we are fucked for the next 50 years as a party.

  • ||

    ""No he is not. But he is definitely in a small minority. And that assumes that he was telling the truth in the campaign.""

    Small minority may be more accuate than libertarian fringe. That pharse offers people the chance to focus on what that means or who that is, opposed to the message you are trying to get across which is few oppose torture in this country. At least when they think it benefits them.

  • Fluffy||

    John McCain threw away any claim he has to worrying about the torture of anyone not named John McCain during the detestable charade he pulled over the passage of the Military Commissions Act.

  • ||

    What does the military commissions act have to do with torture?

  • MNG||

    For one thing it narrowed the definition of what constituted torture iirc.

  • ||

    ""For one thing it narrowed the definition of what constituted torture iirc.""

    So, the executive didn't give a rats ass about how torture was defined at the time, it doesn't care how it's defined now. They will do what they want as they believe it is necessary and let the lawyers deal with it after the fact, assuming it gets leaked out.

  • Mo||

    But he was trying to win a primary. You can't judge a man by what he says and does during an election.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Sure. McCain bowed to pressure just like Obama, and everybody else, except for us "fringe libertarians". Was it political pressure? It seems to me that there's more at work here than just politics.

  • ||

    He blew it with me with the loathsome BCRA.

  • Mo||

    Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan are libertarians?

  • ||

    First, unless and until one of them comes out in favor of a primary challenge to Obama or actually votes against him, they are either lying or they don't think torture is that important. If you are still supporting Obama in spite of this, which Sullivan certainly is Greenwald I refuse to waste my time reading, then torture really isn't much of a moral imperative is it? I would consider Greenwald and Sullivan to be two of the better examples of Leftists who pretend to care about this. Sorry, but bitching on your blog but still voting for the guy when it matters disqualifies you from claiming that the issue is that important to you.

    Same way with Republicans who voted for Bush. They voted for Bush because they considered the war more important than small government. That may be true, but they can now hardly claim that small government is a moral imperative that trumps all other interests like Greenwald and Sullivan continue to fallaciously claim about torture.

  • ||

    John, you might want to knee-jerk a little less and read Greenwald a little more. He's certainly not free of certain hypocrisies, but dude, he is light years ahead of 99% of leftists in terms of integrity. Statements like "I won't read him" just sound stupid.

    Sullivan is, of course, pretty much a total douche at this point.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    They are a few lonely voices that are just as rabid now as before.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I wouldn't consider Greewald a libertarian, but he did do a report for Cato on drug decriminalization in Portugal. A very good one.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Whenever Greenwald gets into domestic issues, he is absolutely putrid. His strength, and it is an amazing strength, is in executive power/war critcisms, including the corollary of criticizing the media's reporting of these topics.

    Just look at this backhanded crap.

  • Mo||

    His economics and regulatory stuff is atrocious. However, he's very good on domestic civil liberties as well.

  • Cytotoxic||

    He's also an asshole on FP. I heard he compared America's liberation of Iraq to the Nazi conquest of Europe. Fuck him.

  • MNG||

    The left has been very critical of Obama over this and other issues. Not the left in your head John, of course, but the one's in real life.

  • ||

    ""The left has been very critical of Obama over this and other issues. ""

    Not as critical, or feverish as they were when Bush was doing it. I have yet to hear about anyone camping in front of Obama's house.

  • ||

    You are absolutely correct, minge. It is just like how all of the right was criticizing BushII for his economic policy.

    Oh wait, the left don't, and the right didn't.

    But you know, 'no true scotsman', and all that bullshit.

  • MNG||

    The ACLU seems to be out there suing his administration as much as they did the previous one.

  • ||

    The ACLU has also begun dipping their toes in 2nd admendment issues, and has defended the Klan.

    You may be able to use the ACLU as a lefty boogeyman at Human Events, but I ain't buying it...

  • Cliché Bandit||

    NSString MNG = blindDipShit;
    Do {
    MNG = MNG + goFuckYourself;
    }
    while (MNG = dipShit);
    NSLog (@”Welcome to the real world!);

  • ||

    Cocoa? Really?

    MAC VS PC PROGRAMMING FLAMEWAR

  • Cliché Bandit||

    keeps the viruses out.

  • ||

    Only because Mac has so little market share that infecting one is like creating a virus that only infects duck-billed platypuses.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I use Vista at work...it is like trying to have a rational conversation with MNG Max Tony Joe and Juanita all at the same time while walkign across hot coals. I'll take my Mac any day.

  • ||

    Dude

    You are totally fucked

  • ||

    I'm with Episiarch on this one.

    Here's the best statement I've seen on the difference between PC users and Mac users.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    WTF is a National Socialist String?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It's what you pull on when you want to unravel the United States. Obama has one end of it clenched in his fist.

  • ||

    The ACLU seems to be out there suing his administration as much as they did the previous one.

    Not sure how many ACLU cases against the feds were actually filed when Chimpy was in charge, and how many have been filed since. But a case can take a couple of years to get an appellate decision, so I wouldn't assume that cases in the pipeline now were filed post-Ascension.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    The left has been very critical of Obama over this and other issues.

    And the right was critical of Bush's spending policies, but that has not stopped the pundit class from saying that the spending protests are convenient partisanship.

  • ||

    The left has been very critical of Obama over this and other issues.

    Wake me up when their response is something beyond empty threats. The Left will bitch and moan and then re-elect the same incumbants. That's what makes the Tea Party movement so unique, is that there's divide on the Right which is leading to substantive changes (in regards to the Right's political leadership).

  • MNG||

    That's a good and fair point. The Tea Party is a good example for the left in many ways, they are just too mindlessly afraid of them to see it.

    Angry white males, oh no!

  • ||

    The Tea Party has already whacked Bennett in Utah and Murkowski in Alaska and may whack Castle in Delaware and Crist in Florida. How many blue dog Democrats have ever gone down because of the Kos kids? I can't think of a one.

  • ||

    Lieberman got drummed out of the party by them.

  • ||

    Oops, forgot my own senator Arlen Specter.

  • ||

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Sestak only won because on teevee his name sounds a lot like Joe Sixpack.

    Pat Toomey is the devil, also...we are so fucked.

  • ||

    Good one, MNG...

  • Les||

    I didn't know the ACLU and Glenn Greenwald were "fringe libertarians."

  • Max||

    Torture is watching Gillespie try to look cool.

  • x,y||

    OK, this made me laugh.

  • Max||

    Bullshit, x,y! You're one of THEM! Go suck Ron Pual's cock!

    I'm NEVER going to post here again! Again!

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    From the video:

    just a few months into the administration

    How old is this thing?

  • Spoonman.||

    Tell us about how great he'll be for civil liberties, joe. Do it.

  • joe with boils||

    *hides in corner*

  • Fluffy||

    Count me among the deluded ones.

    I thought Obama would be better for civil liberties, too.

    I was a fool.

    Just as big a fool as when I thought W would be good for small government issues.

    Never again.

    Until the next time.

  • ||

    No President is ever going to be good for civil liberties by libertarian standards. Why? Because the American people are not good on civil liberties by libertarian standards. It amazes me that anyone that Obama or McCain would stop the Bush anti-terror policies and risk being blamed for the next attack. It wasn't going to happen no matter who won.

    And the Bush terror policies were the only civil liberties questions Obama even pretended to be better on. The rest of it, he was an honest, I am going to run your life authoritarian.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    No, John, he pretended to be better about drugs as well.

  • ||

    Really? I guess he said he would stop the medical marijuana raids. But that is kind of a side show when you think about the larger war on drugs. It is not like he came out against mandatory minimums or said we were in any significant way going to change our approach to drugs.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Better =/= Good.

  • MNG||

    He signed the crack/powder bill, that was good. And his medical mj policy is better than Bush's, but still lamentable.

  • ||

    The crack/powder bill got unanimous consent in the Senate, so you can't play Red Team/Blue Team with that.

  • MNG||

    So why didn't it get passed under a GOP Congress?

  • ||

    I don't know the history of the bill. If you have some evidence that its passage was stalled/thwarted previously by the VRWC, feel free to share it. Otherwise, the timing of its passage tells you nothing.

  • MNG||

    Sure it does. Nothing was stopping the GOP congress from getting this passed. They had secure majorities and the Prez. They just didn't give a shit.

  • ||

    Nothing was stopping the Democratic Congress from passing this bill prior to 1994 either.

    Your simple date extrapolation is useless. I would suspect that the genesis of this bill came from a slow shift in social attitudes followed by eventual advocacy followed by eventual lawmaking. To do your simple date extrapolation shows a really disappointing adherence to Red Team/Blue Team crap.

  • Cyto||

    If you want to play the providence game on the crack/powder cocaine discrepancy, the Democrats with the prize. It was a Democrat led congress that passed the original bill under pressure from Democrat activist groups - primarily African-American activist groups like the NAACP and SCLC and leaders like Jesse Jackson who proclaimed opposition to raising the penalties for crack racist. They were aided and abbetted by the news media and Hollywood who featured the evils of crack cocaine and it's destruction of African-American communities on every news show, sitcom, cop drama, etc. for years. Fortunately for them they had a bunch of drug-warrior republicans in the administration who were also leery of being branded racists on yet another issue.

    Of course, to be fair, the same actors proclaimed it racist to oppose bringing the penalties back into line... so there is that.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yes, John. Americans have a long, long history of sacrificing freedom for security. It goes all the way back to John Adams. But fortunately, every once in a while a Thomas Jefferson comes along. We are currently long overdue. But, If it makes you feel any better, I'll take part of the blame, along with Fluffy. Not that I thought Obummer would be a TJ, just that he would be better on civil liberties.

  • ||

    ""No President is ever going to be good for civil liberties by libertarian standards. Why? Because the American people are not good on civil liberties by libertarian standards.""

    Or by decent standards if those standards get in the way of something they want to do. The whole American moral high ground is mostly a myth. We have no problem taking the low road or moving to the darkside when we feels it serves our purpose. A lot of objects are based in partisan politics, not morallity.

    But I didn't believe that an incoming president would try to dilute the power of the executive, especially during a time of war.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Did you believe he would expand the powers of the Executive to target American Citizens abroad, and expand drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen?

    Fuck the torture issue. This is the serious shit.

  • ||

    I'm not sure how you are defining expand. He may use the authority more often, but I don't know if he actually expanded the authority. He's certainly defending the authority, which is contra to what he wanted people to believe.

  • Mr Whipple||

    I suppose the CIA has been assassinating American citizens for some time. Jimmy Hoffa, perhaps? Ron Brown? Vince Foster? I don't know, for sure. But it's definitely out in the open, now. Is an admission the same as an expansion? Probably not. I guess we should be thankful for the "transparency".

  • ||

    You will never get transparency in regards to covert ops. No one should ever think we will.

    But assassinating American citizens may or may not be new. The now loathed wall the CIA that keeped the CIA out of domestic affairs was basically dropped by Congress. Did that wall prevent them for going after Americans abroad? I don't know. But there an arguement that expansion occured under Bush's watch. Obama has done nothing to curb that expansion and enjoys the benefit of it.

  • T||

    The Bush DOJ made the argument that the AUMF gave the executive authority to whack out anybody who was a terrorist. All Obama did was admit he had done it. Not much of an expansion.

  • ||

    Actually doing something is a much more intense act than merely arguing you have the ability to do it.

  • Analogy Guy||

    Let's test it out:

    I have the ability to fuck Angelina Jolie (having a penis and whatnot).

    I broke into Angelina Jolie's house and fucked her.

    Yep, I think you are right about that difference there Tulpa.

  • T||

    You're assuming that just because nobody admitted it happened under GW Bush that it didn't happen. I wouldn't take that bet, but that's just me.

  • ||

    I think the US is morally better than every other country. But that is only because the other countries are just that much more immoral. Americans didn't take over a continent and build the most powerful country in history by being a bunch of nice guys who lived by the highest moral principles. That is not to be anti or pro American. That is just to state reality. Anyone who thinks America is beyond moral reproach knows nothing about history.

  • ||

    ""I think the US is morally better than every other country.""

    Well we like to think so. But if utilitarian ethics is the compass, then no. If ends justify means, then immoral actions are in the imagination of those negatively affected by the means.

  • Fluffy||

    Very true.

    But we were supposed to be improving.

    The last ten years have put the lie to the notion that there's such a thing as "progress". The same old monsters are right there waiting to do the same old shit no matter what century you're in. It's simply a question of how many of them are in power at any given moment.

  • ||

    We would like improve. But reality keeps getting in the way. Ultimately, you can't live by strict moral principles and survive much less thrive. The last guy who did got crucified for his trouble.

  • RyanXXX||

    So America won't survive as a nation unless we torture people?

  • an·thro·po·mor·phism ||

    USA! USA! USA!

  • ||

    Never again.

    Until the next time.

    This. Is. Why. Voting. Is. Retarded.

    Why would you vote if your choices are several statists, all of whom are awful to a similar degree? Why participate in a system which has zero outcomes that are in the direction you want?

    Voting for TEAM RED or TEAM BLUE is like a straight guy voting for which guy he'd like to have sex with, or a gay guy voting for which woman he'd like to have sex with. None of the options are for you. They're so far from what you want, that participating is like torturing yourself.

    Why would you do this?

  • ||

    Odd that you should go to that particular analogy. Projecting again, I see.

  • ||

    I can't seem to stop thinking about it. Please tell me there's nothing wrong with that!

  • ||

    Or, could it be like voting for the toppings on your deepdishpizza?

    No matter what you pick your still going to be on the toilet alternately shitting and puking.

  • MNG||

    I said back in the general election that libertarians should vote for a libertarian or third party candidate. I can see lesser of two evils, but you know, in an electoral college system (or any national system I guess) your individual vote is no more "thrown away" on such a candidate than it would be on either of the two-party candidates.

    I do think it makes sense to vote in primaries, nothing to lose there and maybe you move a party closer to your positions...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I voted in the Libertarian primary, which means I wasted more time than any other voter.

  • ||

    I had *hopes* that Obama would be "better" than Bush.

    That will teach me to stop listening to the cynical voices in my head. Subsequent presidents stopped being better about 200 years ago, excepting Coolidge.

  • Ron L||

    Change:
    Bush = four letters
    Obama = five letters

  • MNG||

    I do think the WOT issues could have been worse under a Romney or Guliani campaign. I can remember those two trying to one up each other in the primaries as to how totalitarian they were willing to go on such issues, and the crowds applauding like crazy...

  • ||

    Yeah, that was particularly repulsive. Rudy seemed to be particularly enjoying himself over that. It's amazing that he was my mayor for 7 years.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yeah, well, I guess he thinks he can use the Patriot Act to end terrorism, the way he used RICO to end the Mafia.

  • ||

    Perhaps, but the Dem Congress would have been initiating a partisan investigation against them every week or so.

  • Mo||

    I'm not sure how much worse Romney is. He's too much of a flip flopper opportunist to get a good handle on. One thing I like about him is that he seems eminently competent and intelligent. The problem is whatever view he had could change at the drop of a hat.

  • Shannon Love||

    At the risk of injecting a little history in a moralistic rant, I would point out that the US has been using rendition and torture since at least WWII.

    The entire black prisons system began in early WWII when the US allowed British intelligence (with help form the FBI) to disappear suspected Nazi/Stalinist agents and take them to a secret camp outside Ottawa. There they ask them serious questions and they didn't always ask nicely. Indeed, the entire covert war in WWII was much more grim than popular history would lead you to believe.

    The system was revived in the late 40s throughout Europe. In Italy and France, several prominent communist disappeared for several years and claimed upon their return they were held in secret locations by persons unknown. In the 50s, the system spread all across the world.

    The truth is that the shadow war has always been ugly and morally ambiguous and that like overt war, it has always done horrible things to innocent people. The only question is whether it is necessary and whether it can be isolated from the greater body politic and controlled.

    I believe it is necessary and that it can be controlled because we have been doing so for 60 years. It does present a serious threat but if we are careful and thoughtful we can manage it.

    In warfare , there is no grant of divine favor to those who cling to moral ideals instead of taking immoral practical actions. The history of warfare in the 20th century has been one of our enemies using progressively more brutal tactics and ourselves being forced to follow along to counter.

  • ||

    Surprise; Shannon believes in torture. Film at 11.

    "We've been doing it for 60, so that makes it ok!"

    Douchebag.

  • ||

    No. It doesn't make it okay. But having the moral high ground doesn't make losing a war any less catastrophic. Most people would prefer to win from the moral low ground than lose and feel good about themselves.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Which is why we should choose our wars very carefully.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    We have not declared war last time I checked. And I really do not believe that is nitpicking or a "legal formality" - it is crucial to invoke traditional war powers. You cannot just "declare war" on unknown member or members of a shadowy worldwide conspiracy. Breaking up conspiracies is a police function.

  • Cyto||

    That's a pretty interesting argument. If it is illegitimate for the US to declare ware on Al-Qaeda (who have "declared war" on the US) because they are not a state, then military power cannot be brought to bear on the problem.

    As you point out, this leaves it as a police function. But the US has no extraterritorial policing power either. So there really is no mechanism for the US to fight the "war" declared by Al-Qaeda, other than diplomacy. We could use diplomacy to persuade other governments to investigate and arrest conspirators, and that's about it.

    I suppose we could threaten to declare war on countries that refuse to cooperate with our policing efforts, particularly if those countries are actively harboring members of Al-Qaeda. Kind of a "with us or against us" policy, for want of a better term...

  • Leroy||

    "I suppose we could threaten to declare war on countries that refuse to cooperate with our policing efforts, particularly if those countries are actively harboring members of Al-Qaeda. Kind of a "with us or against us" policy, for want of a better term..."

    Weird, I feel like I've heard that somewhere before...

  • Sparky||

    Surprise! Pisi calls someone a douchebag.

  • ||

    Douchebag.

  • Shannon Love||

    Episiarch,

    Don't take this the wrong way but how old are you? You sound like a teenager.

    These are very, very hard questions requiring a lot of study and thought that you seem to lack.

    You strike me as one those people who prefer always to be in the back seat and never the driver so that they never have to accept responsibility for taking action but can always blame those that do take action. Your more interested in being able to sneer down at people than in struggling for a better world.

    Worse, you're obviously a hypocrite because at some point everyone will support the use of torture to prevent some massive harm. For example, most people would support filing down a bad guys teeth to stop a nuclear attack. Those that won't are just so morally vain they that they will sacrifice the lives of others just to preserve their own self-esteem.

    The only real debate with the use of torture is the threshold of harm that triggers its use. For many people, stopping multiple bombings that cost the lives of a few thousand over a period years doesn't rise to the threshold. For other people it does. Preventing another 9/11 is also not important enough. For other people it is.

    Honest people can disgree on what should trigger the use of torture but everyone who says that its simply a debate between evil, stupid people who want to torture versus good, noble, intellegent people who refuse to lower themselves...

    ... those people are children.

  • Mr Whipple||

    It does present a serious threat but if we are careful and thoughtful we can manage it.

    What? Like the economy? What has the government ever managed carefully or thoughtfully, not to mention effectively?

  • ||

    Remember, to a conservative, the government can't do anything well...except the military, wars, intelligence, and torture. Oh, and executing people.

  • ||

    And use the FCC to go after dirty words. Those dirty, dirty words.

  • ||

    I would definitely say the govt is good at killing people, causing suffering, and destroying things. Credit where credit is due.

  • ||

    Finally you admit what I have been trying to get you to see: archists murder.

  • ||

    ""At the risk of injecting a little history in a moralistic rant, I would point out that the US has been using rendition and torture since at least WWII.""

    Part of the problem might be us thinking the current situation is some how equivalent to WWII. Thousands of people are not dying every month.

  • ||

    Tricky, I think you're missing part of the point, namely, that we have had a bareknuckled covert intelligence operation (secret prisons, rendition, "torture") more or less continuously since WWII.

    This covert operation has been used mostly for non-"wars" that were nonetheless brutal conflicts (on all sides) in their own right.

    You can take the position that we should not have actively opposed the Soviet Union, the Islamist terror network, etc., but I think you would be hard pressed to say that we should actively oppose them, and not treat our engagement in brutal covert non-"wars" seriously.

    Since WWII, the whole concept of Clauswitzian/Geneva Convention war as a conflict between sovereign states, engaged in by their armies, over control of territory, has been seriously outmoded. Part of the problem, I think, is that we don't have a framework for handling these kinds of conflicts.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I think, is that we don't have a framework for handling these kinds of conflicts.

    Yes, we do - it is called "the justice system" and/or "letters of marque".

  • Les||

    You can take the position that we should not have actively opposed the Soviet Union, the Islamist terror network, etc., but I think you would be hard pressed to say that we should actively oppose them, and not treat our engagement in brutal covert non-"wars" seriously.

    Actually, it's very reasonable to say that we should have actively opposed the Soviet Union, but that we still would have come out on top of the Cold War even if we hadn't supported terrorism and mass-murdering dictators. You can take a conflict seriously without engaging in evil behavior.

  • ||

    Shannon, Sure we do think that are ugly when they are in our intersts. But why are we special? Can't the other side do ugly things in their interests? And why should we be offended if they do?

    What would we say if the Taliban rendered a US soldier from within the US border?

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, the striking thing about WWII as an example is that after December 8th, 1941, the outcome of the war was never really in doubt and if we did, in fact, torture ourselves a blue streak we can say in hindsight that we compromised ourselves for nothing.

    If honor actually is a luxury, it's one we've been able to afford for about 140 years now. We continue underestimating ourselves, to our great detriment.

  • ||

    I think the outcome of the war was very much in doubt. The US at that time had a very small inexperienced army. Yeah, it had huge industrial capacity, but it was sitting thousands of miles away from where that capacity needed to be put to use. There were several points where the US could have lost that war and would have been forced to make a reasonable peace with the axis.

    What if the Japanese rather than Americans had gotten lucky at Midway?

    What if Hitler had properly used his armor and run us off the beaches at Normandy?

    What if the Soviets had collapsed as they almost did at Leningrad and Stalingrad?

    What if the Japanese had been smarter about saving their experienced pilots rather than pissing them away and operating no search and rescue functions?

    It looks inevitable afterward. It certainly wasn't. And it certainly didn't feel that way at the time.

  • Cyto||

    And more.

    What if the Japanese had pressed their advantage after their nearly decisive strike at Pearl Harbor and taken Hawaii.

    What if the Japanese had further pressed their advantage in the Pacific and parked their fleet off of the California coast, bombarding west coast cities and closing all west coast ports.

    What if, following the collapse of the Soviets at Leningrad and Stalingrad posited above, the Nazi's had the extra time to more fully develop the V2 and the atomic bomb?

    How inevitable is victory then?

  • ||

    And some more...

    What if Hitler had not declared war against the U.S. after the U.S. had declared war against Japan?

  • ||

    and another...

    What if Hitler had allowed his generals to retreat a bit in order to consolidate and then launch another offensive?

  • Fluffy||

    Well, Churchill thought it was inevitable and wrote as such in his war diary for that day.

    He celebrated Pearl Harbor like a Palestinian celebrating 9/11.

    What if the Japanese rather than Americans had gotten lucky at Midway?

    What if Hitler had properly used his armor and run us off the beaches at Normandy?

    Both of those would have delayed the outcome, but not changed it.

    What if the Soviets had collapsed as they almost did at Leningrad and Stalingrad?

    Well, Pearl Harbor also made it inevitable that these things wouldn't happen, because the Soviets had been expecting a possible Japanese attack across the Manchukuo border, and after Pearl Harbor they knew that wouldn't happen. The divisions that launched the Moscow winter counterattack were in large part Siberia divisions transferred west after Pearl Harbor.

    What if the Japanese had pressed their advantage after their nearly decisive strike at Pearl Harbor and taken Hawaii.

    What if the Japanese had further pressed their advantage in the Pacific and parked their fleet off of the California coast, bombarding west coast cities and closing all west coast ports.

    The Japanese logistical train really didn't have the capacity to reach Hawaii, let alone the west coast of the US.

    What if, following the collapse of the Soviets at Leningrad and Stalingrad posited above, the Nazi's had the extra time to more fully develop the V2 and the atomic bomb?

    The V2 was in strategic terms an annoyance more than a real threat. It could kill Londoners, but it couldn't really do anything to advance the German war effort. It was the Betamax of WWII - a nice product, but a strategic dud.

    The Nazis had no serious atomic program. The US spent more on the Manhattan project than anyone had previously spent on any weapons development program, ever. The Germans dicked around at it. Their resources were pretty much fully committed elsewhere after 1943.

    What if Hitler had not declared war against the U.S. after the U.S. had declared war against Japan?

    This one has some merit, and we should probably move the "inevitable" date a few days later to account for Hitler's DoW.

    Of course, I think it's very likely Roosevelt would have demanded a declaration against Germany even if Hitler sat tight, and would have gotten one.

    The Allies were losing up until the first half of 1942.

    The Axis expanded to their greatest extent in the first half of 1942, but that's not the same as "winning". Taking territory you can't hold in SE Asia, Egypt, and southern Russia, while not dealing strategic knockout blows to your main enemies, is not "winning".

  • Fluffy||

    BTW I love WWII counterfactuals, so thanks for indulging me in my pastime.

  • ||

    So do I. And I see your point. But, a lot of people at the time, though not Churchill, didn't think the outcome was inevitable at all. Fascism was pretty attractive to a lot of people.

  • ||

    Interestingly enough, your view is Paul Johnson's view in Modern Times. He views World War II as a giant colonial war where the industrial technological power of the democratic nations combined with the population of Russia doomed the Axis from the start.

  • ||

    The Allies were losing up until the first half of 1942.

  • دردشة||

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  • cheap chanel bags||

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