Monday, May 30, 2011

Tortured Logic

It is truly perverse how the present Fox News inspired Republican Party behaves. It only took twenty-four hours for the push-back against the Administration’s success in Abbottabad to begin.  The very first flowering of the new meme was seen in the Murdock operated Wall Street Journal. It was there in plain sight, a tiny bit of worthless opinion wedged in the story as fact.  You had to go deep into the story, the lead was buried, but it was there none the less : enhanced interrogation had provided at least some of the leads that lead to OBL’s hideout.   What began as a whisper has become a thing shouted from the rooftops : torture works.

To have to go over this particular bit of ground is painful. It is not just that this meme is demonstrably false, that it is a big fat lie. It is that even if true, even if torture provides actionable intelligence, the means still do not justify the ends.

There is something profoundly icky about how much the Right Wing gets its torture groove on. There is a foul reek of sexual needs denied. The whole structure oozes of repressed homoerotic sadomasochistic urges mixed with toxic authoritarianism. The pleasure, the shear joy, that Conservative commentators project when discussing torture is off-putting; you feel an overwhelming desire to take very long shower.

These commentators will not be deterred, they will not even pause in delivering their message of mayhem. They most certainly will not let facts get in the way. They are going for the lizard brain; no detours. To be a true warrior in the battle against terror one must surrender any notions of decency. It seems that the only way to defeat the evil bastards of terrorism is to become an even bigger, even more evil, bastard yourself.

These right-wing warriors accept no limits. Black Site Prisons, extraordinary rendition, Gitmo, indefinite detention, and “enhanced interrogation” are all acceptable. As a matter of fact these methods are more than acceptable, they are the only way to deal with the bad guys. If you are unwilling to become an utter savage, you are obviously a lily-livered coward.

How acting like a perfect Visigoth became the acme of policy is no real mystery. There is a reason that Republicans are attempting to legitimize the methods of the Mongol hordes. It is to set up the old trope that Democrats are weak on defense. In this brave new world only utter depravity towards our adversaries is acceptable. Anything less than wholesale barbarism is weakness. Is your head hurting yet? It should be.

We are a very long way from the thoughts of our first President. We are a very long way from first principle. How is it that when Washington had his back up against a wall, he was able to treat the despised Hessians fairly, but we are unable to do the same against Al Qaeda? Washington was in an existential struggle against the greatest military power of the  age; we are dealing with a rag-tag bunch of nihilists one step above a street gang. Washington was dead set against torture; we have babbling fools who extol the virtues of torture every chance they get.

These fools should be marginal characters. They should be on a soap box on some street corner yelling their obscenities to the pigeons. Instead they occupy positions of trust. They are T.V. personalities, politicians, academics, commentators, Congressmen and Senators. In short they are people who are supposed to know better.

So how did these people loose their grip on reality? Why are they peddling this tripe? It is more than just justifying the programs of the Bush-Cheney Administration. That is only the very top layer of this effort. Those who interpret this push for torture as just a desperate attempt to latch the failed efforts of Bush-Cheney to the successful efforts of Team Obama are only looking at the surface. Republicans have to “prove” torture works. They have to then carry that premise forward so they can beat up Obama for his reluctance to use torture. That way they reset the meme that Democrats are weak because they are unwilling to use this “proven” method of getting to the bad guys. Welcome to crass political considerations.

You expected decency from this lot? The ends justify the means for these people. And the ends is the permanent Republican ascendancy. The end is the permanent delegitimizing of the Democratic party by any means necessary. Only the Republican Party represents “Real America” (tm) And because this is the “Real America” it can do no wrong; no quarter asked or given, no holds bared, might makes right, just win baby.

Now some would say this is a good thing; that the Republicans have gone so far off the reservation that they will “loose the middle,”  hogwash.  The middle is whatever the political elites say it is. It is a flexible, mutable thing, it is totally plastic. The middle can be moved, and it has been moved. The middle in the 21st Century is much more tilted to the right than it was in the middle of the 20th Century.  As long as Neo-Liberals and “Moderate” Democrats keep playing defense the nation will continue its rightward march.

Instead of passively waiting for the Republicans to step on a rake, Democrats should be blasting the Elephants 24/7 on torture. People should not be just loosing elections for their support of torture, they should be loosing their livelihoods. Supporting torture should brand you as a tin-foil hatted crazy, not fit for any job requiring a scintilla of responsibility. Supporting torture should brand you a pervert, as one who perverts the very essence of our nation. It should brand you as a moral reprobate, as worse than a child molester. People who support torture should not be seen as tough, as being hard edged, as leaders or doers, they should be seen as pond scum.  Torture is wrong, end of discussion, end of drill. Anyone who says different is being willfully ignorant, a troll, or overcompensating for their own cowardice.

The TEA Party faithful are more than willing to beat their breast about taking back the country and how much they love the Constitution. It is an odd type of love they show for that document. There are some gaping holes in their infatuation with our founding document; not much love for the the Forth nor Fifth Amendments and the thrill is gone for the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments too. I haven’t seen the TEA Party set wave their muskets nor stage a tricornered hat protest against Gitmo, FISA , sneak and peak nor any other parts of the police state set up by W and Obama. They were more than happy to have any random brown person harassed by TSA, but did draw the line when those same government workers wanted to scan their junk. I guess it is a very situational love they have of the Constitution, with lots of cut-outs and exceptions.

This is a rather simple argument. It is that common decency should be exactly that: common. It should be our default. It should be our rock; that we treat even our worst opponents decently. We are supposed to be the civilized ones, our opponents are supposed to be the barbarians. There should be a wide and noticeable difference in the two behaviors. Our opponents want to drag our nation down to their level. They want us thinking with out lizard brains. They want us living in fear. Why, in God’s name, should we accommodate them?

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