Political Animal

TORTURE….Stuart Taylor talks about torture:But

TORTURE….Stuart Taylor talks about torture:

But what if nothing short of unambiguously “severe” pain — torture, that is — seems to have any chance of eliciting Mohammed’s potentially life-saving secrets? Should interrogators be prepared to cross that line? I would say no, in principle.

In practice, though, which is all that counts after all, Taylor apparently thinks differently. So does that mean it would be OK for Saddam to torture American soldiers in order to elicit information that would save Iraqi lives from a planned American assault?

No, I didn’t think so.


SUMMIT IN THE AZORES….The Big Three have finished their summit. There was more contempt for France, no commitment to a UN vote except possibly as a showpiece for a French veto, and almost certain war sometime this week.

The contrast between Bush and Blair was dramatic. Both were unflinching in their condemnation of Saddam, but Bush seemed almost unable to contain his anger and contempt at the rest of the world for not following his lead. But the fault for that almost certainly resides solely with Bush himself, and the fact that only three countries were involved in this one-hour meeting in the Azores is the surest sign of diplomatic failure you can imagine. It is an appalling statement about our leadership that we have lost a worldwide opinion poll against Saddam Hussein. But we have.


“LET THE MIGHTY EAGLE SOAR”….This Guardian article about John Ashcroft’s, um, peculiar style of running the Department of Justice is a year old, but I just happened to run across it today whilst trying to educate myself about the connection between Ashcroft and calico cats (thanks a lot, Digby). It’s an oldie, but, yes, it’s a goodie. Take a couple of minutes and go check it out.

(There’s even some video of Ashcroft doing his own imitation of a Vegas lounge lizard. It’s worth the price of admission all by itself.)

THE HOURS….I just got back

THE HOURS….I just got back from seeing The Hours. I really only went to see it because I wanted to see all the Best Picture nominees before the Academy Awards ceremony, so I wasn’t expecting much. Somehow a review of melancholic women of the 20th century didn’t seem all that appealing.

But I was wrong: it’s a terrific movie. Granted, if you just don’t understand depressed people and find their screen incarnations terminally annoying, there’s not much to like here. But if you can get past that, the portraits of the three women are genuinely moving and the depiction of depression is one of the best I’ve seen. You really get a sense of how the world just seems to cave in unbidden on people like this, often set off by small things that most of us would just shrug off.

I think I agree that the Ed Harris character wasn’t that good, but he wasn’t on screen all that much anyway. The three stars all gave compelling performances, and that’s what counts. Thumbs up.