February 19, 2007

Ha Ha, Funny Torture Jokes

This post from John Podhoretz isn't really a big deal by itself. Of course, Jonah G. has some predictable further "fun" with it all. It wouldn't be any kind of deal, except for the fact that most of the folks at NRO (maybe all of them, I don't read them enough to know) are, you know, actually in favor of torture. Only in emergencies, of course. Well, everybody, including both Clintons, seems to think the "ticking bomb" hypothetical corresponds to real life. Joel Surnow for Secretary of Defense!

The nadir of this sort of "humor" is, naturally enough, provided by Rush Limbaugh. He's utterly and astonishingly dependable about this sort of thing. Credit where credit is due.

Torture is not funny, not in any manner, not to any degree. It is especially not funny since the systematic use of torture is an integral part of U.S. government policy. It is additionally not funny when the "legitimacy" of state-sanctioned torture is considered a topic for "respectable" debate.

Someday, we might actually have a serious discussion about this subject and about the immense evil torture represents, shorn of the false hypotheticals and massive ignorance that are regularly a part of these debates now. Frankly, I don't expect to see it, even if I live for another 30 years.

Meanwhile, the regular U.S. government use of torture did not arrive with the Bush administration. See Chris Floyd here, and Naomi Klein here. Here is Floyd's introduction:
As the Bush Regime hurtles toward its Dubyadämmerung in 2008, with the distinct possibility of a Democratic administration taking its place, it becomes increasingly important to remind ourselves of the bipartisan nature of the policies that the Bushists have promoted so ruthlessly during their time at the top. The only thing radical about Bush-Cheney statecraft has been the brazenness and crudity with which they have pursued long-standing goals and practices of the American Establishment. While it is certainly true that even a slight mitigation of the Bush Regime's depredations would be a welcome relief, those who look to any Establishment-embraced Democrat for a wholesale transformation of the arrogant, ignorant and brutal assumptions that have directed the exercise of American power in the world for many decades will likely be in for bitter disappointment.

Naomi Klein examines one vital aspect of this dangerous tendency to see the Bush Faction as the originator of all national evil, rather than simply its latest -- and most vivid -- avatar.
The "bipartisan nature" of our foreign policy in general, as well as of many of its more particular manifestations, is perhaps the major theme of my ongoing Dominion Over the World series, the most recent part of which is here.

While I'm at it, here is Klein's conclusion:
And that's the problem with pretending that the Bush Administration invented torture. "If you don't understand the history and the depths of the institutional and public complicity," says McCoy, "then you can't begin to undertake meaningful reforms." Lawmakers will respond to pressure by eliminating one small piece of the torture apparatus--closing a prison, shutting down a program, even demanding the resignation of a really bad apple like Rumsfeld. But, McCoy says, "they will preserve the prerogative to torture."

The Center for American Progress has just launched an advertising campaign called "Torture is not US." The hard truth is that for at least five decades it has been. But it doesn't have to be.
There now. I've cheered you up again! Alright, I'll leave you alone until this evening. If I find some wonderful amusement in the meantime, perhaps until tomorrow.