Political Animal

MORE TORTURE….Every day Pat Buchanan

MORE TORTURE….Every day Pat Buchanan and Bill Press host a show on MSNBC. Via Meatstack, here’s an excerpt from their show on Tuesday where they are discussing the use of torture:

BUCHANAN: Look, doctors regularly, daily, inflict horrible pain on patients. They cut them open and they put new hearts in them. And it’s horrible pain. It’s done for their own good to save one life. If you can do it to save one life, why can’t you inflict pain on a guilty man to save 100 lives?

ROTH: Pat, come on.

PRESS: Come on.

ROTH: You don’t see a difference between consenting to an operation to save your life vs. forcing severe pain on somebody else? Please. You don’t really believe that.

BUCHANAN: Listen, oh, I do believe…

This is why torture is a taboo that should not be broken, because once it is people start thinking the way Pat Buchanan does. And once you start thinking like that, there’s simply no end to the justifications you can come up with to do anything you want.

This really isn’t negotiable, folks. Once you cross this line, it’s hard to ever come back. This is not the kind of country we want to have.

TORTURE….I haven’t commented recently on

TORTURE….I haven’t commented recently on the news that we shipped al-Qaeda #2 man Khalid Shaikh Mohammed off to Pakistan for questioning allegedly because of their relaxed attitudes toward torture. I’ve written about the use of torture twice before, suggesting here that “if we lose our moral compass then we have lost the essence of what makes America worth fighting for,” and here that “conservatives, who have lately prided themselves on their moral clarity, seem to have lost their voice on this issue.”

But Jim Henley at Unqualified Offerings really provides the only reason anyone should need to oppose the use of torture:

Because we’re the fucking United States of America!

There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed no matter how tempting they are or how justified they seem in the heat of the moment. This is one of them.

BILL FRIST, SUPERGENIUS….Jeanne d’Arc reports

BILL FRIST, SUPERGENIUS….Jeanne d’Arc reports that Bill Frist is less intellectually honest than Wolf Blitzer. Why? Because he put up an online poll and then took it down when he didn’t like the results.

But it might actually be worse. (Hardly seems possible, I know, but bear with me.) Here’s the statement on Frist’s site:

Users are normally allowed only one vote in the poll, however, sometime yesterday, someone figured out how to vote several thousand times….The poll has temporarily been removed until a more secure method of operating web polls is in place.

So Frist put up an online poll and somehow didn’t realize that sometimes people, um, cheat on these things and figure out how to vote over and over? Wasn’t Frist supposed to be the dynamic, smart, young information age guy who would replace that old dinosaur Trent Lott? I’ll bet even Lott would have had the horse sense not to do something as stupid as post an unpredictable online poll at his website….

WHY?….Back from lunch I see

WHY?….Back from lunch I see via Atrios that the events of the past few days have pushed Josh Marshall over the edge too. And I have email from Sean-Paul Kelley at The Agonist informing me that he’s also thrown in the towel.

So what did it? And to answer Atrios’ question, what took me so long?

The press conference was part of it. Bush was obviously incapable of doing anything more than reciting talking points like a child in sunday school and was deeply unconvincing. And there’s been Glenn Reynolds’ ever increasing disdain for the entire rest of the world, to the point that he seems to have been completely sucked into the loony-right fantasy that American military might can solve all the world’s problems. And this morning, for the first time in quite a while, I happened to stop by Bill Quick’s site and saw this:

What, precisely, do these midgets think they can accomplish without the acquiescence of the “hyper power?”

In today’s world, no meeting of nations deserves the appellation “summit” unless it includes the United States. Foothill, maybe. Even molehill. But not summit.

I just can’t align myself any longer with the folks who think the rest of the world are “midgets” who should be shoved unceremoniously out of the way whenever we feel like it. As my wife put it at lunch today, “We don’t seem to be the America we used to be.”

In short, the pro-war group had every chance to keep me on their side, but their increasing bellicosity and divorcement from reality finally pushed me over the edge. They have no one to blame but themselves.

And what took me so long? Well, sometimes politics makes strange bedfellows. Yes, I knew that the timing was political, and I knew that the al-Qaeda connection was bunk, and I knew that Bush lied about a lot of things. But I also think the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and I understand that sometimes you have to play rough to build support for a difficult decision. So I did my best to put aside my personal dislike for George Bush and his tactics and support the end result.

And to be honest, Tony Blair’s support has been meaningful to me. Sure, he’s a bit of a weasel at times, but he has similar sensibilities to mine and his support for war is obviously sincere and heartfelt. I respect his opinion, and I assume he has access to same levels of information as George Bush and his advisors. So that kept me on board too.

But enough is enough. The ends don’t always justify the means, and the positives of permanently ridding the world of Saddam Hussein no longer outweigh the negatives. So I find myself on the other side of the fence now, while still hoping that eventually we are able to construct a genuine international coalition that will help stabilize global hot spots and make the world a safer place. Sadly, it looks like we will have to wait at least until November 2004 for that process to begin.

UPDATE: Via email, it’s obvious that I’ve left the impression that my change of opinion was largely due to personal dislike of the pro-war partisans. However, as a few people have pointed out, some of the anti-war partisans are also people I probably wouldn’t want to associate with. Fair enough.

So this post shouldn’t be taken too literally. My substantive problem is that my support for war has always been strongly influenced by the likelihood of using it to begin building a better Middle East, and this is something that the U.S. simply can’t do alone. With this in mind, it has become increasingly clear to me that Bush’s implementation of this war is the very one that will prevent it from ultimately being successful. I’ll write more about this later.

UPDATE 2: And here it is.