Our Delight in Destruction
2 hours ago
The Republican National Committee has rejected a proposal from its Democratic counterpart to sign a joint “civility” statement, POLITICO has learned.I have to admit that I often find the thinking of the Republican Party baffling.
Various members of the DNC — including Chairman Tim Kaine, Executive Director Jen O’Malley Dillon and Communications Director Brad Woodhouse — contacted their respective RNC counterparts this week in hopes of getting RNC Chairman Michael Steele to co-sign a document with Kaine that, in part, called for “elected officials of both parties to set an example of the civility we want to see in our citizenry.”
“We also call on all Americans to respect differences of opinion, to refrain from inappropriate forms of intimidation, to reject violence and vandalism, and to scale back rhetoric that might reasonably be misinterpreted by those prone to such behavior,” read the proposed joint statement, which came at the end of a week that saw acts of vandalism and threats of violence directed at members of Congress from both parties, but mostly aimed at Democrats who voted yes on the health care bill.
Republicans see the statement as an attempt to force them to either reject the statement—allowing Democrats to say the RNC finds the incidents acceptable—or to sign on to something that the DNC would later wield against them.
At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994. [...] This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.Matthew Yglesias points out that Frum's dismissal for his criticism seems disproportionate:
The most surprising thing about David Frum’s apparent parting of ways with the American Enterprise Institute is the extremely mild nature of Frum’s heterodoxy. What he’s been doing for the past week has been to primarily offer a tactical critique of congressional Republicans’ approach to health reform. And if you can’t offer a tactical critique in the wake of an unequivocal defeat then what can you do? I don’t really expect people to welcome sharp disagreement about matters of principle, but when you adopt an approach to blocking a piece of legislation, and then the legislation doesn’t get blocked how are you not going to engage in some spirited disagreement about what went wrong? It’s baffling.Many conservatives are talking about Frum's dismissal. Some sound disappointed; others apocalyptic. According to Julian Sanchez,
One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted.Bruce Bartlett referred to Frum's dismissal as "the closing of the conservative mind." On C-SPAN this morning, Bartlett said:
[W]hat’s really going on here is that adherence to conservative principles has been—is out the window now. All that matters now is absolute subservient adherence to the Republican Party line of the day. And that’s what got David into trouble. He was critical, not even of Republican principles, but of Republican tactics on the health care debate. And now, even that is considered, you know, you can’t say that or you lose your job.The dismissal has led Andrew Sullivan to write:
[H]ere's where David and I agree: we both grew up when conservatism was intellectually sharp and interesting. Its current brutal anti-intellectualism, its open hostility to moderation in any form; its substitution of purer and purer ideology for actual, pragmatic ideas: these are trends that have left a lot of us on the center right marooned. I think David may well be glad he is now formally ostracized. It will liberate him and his formidable mind. Serious thinking conservatives know that these are times for real re-thinking, not more positioning.While some conservatives appear to be rethinking their approach, others are not. The same tactics Russell King railed against earlier this week in a damning catalog of conservative transgressions continue unabated. Rep. Devin Nunes, the man who claimed that "Democratic congressmen from California are 'part of this totalitarian regime in Washington,'" is now comparing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe. Hogan at RedState writes that Republicans must campaign for repeal of health care reform, and praises Rep. Mike Pence for saying, “The American people don’t want a government takeover of health care and House Republicans will work every day to repeal this law and start over," in spite of the fact that health care reform is provably not a government takeover of health care. Rep. Kevin Brady has fueled false rumors, now promulgated by conservative media, that "The IRS will be tracking you down if you don’t purchase health insurance." Two days ago, Rep. Michelle Bachmann boasted that her suspicions over a year ago that Barack Obama harbored anti-American views make her look like Nostradamus now. And there's what Think Progress calls Sarah Palin's "reload" map.
When it comes to health care policy, conservatives have been seriously outgunned. [. . .] On economics, you always know what the conservative answer is: tax cuts and generally hands-off regulatory policies to spur economic growth. No matter how good the Democrats' promises sound, we return to these simple, pro-growth touchstones that resonate with a majority of Americans who intuitively get that you can't micromanage your way to a better future.
On health care, I have no idea what our basic guiding principle is. Seriously, I don't.
We have tried ineffectively to stretch free market rhetoric to health care without appreciating that health care is already too far removed from a free market for the analogy to make sense. Real markets are sensitive to price. Health care isn't. The insurance companies hide the cost of actual care from the consumer.
What we have lacked in this debate is a simple clarion call to address an aching need -- bringing free market principles to bear to improve tangible health outcomes.The impression I have of the Republican approach to health care was summed up by Rep. Alan Grayson last year: Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly. And that's not my fault.
Instead, we have allowed the left to define the problem as exclusively one of access -- of the nearly 50 million without insurance dying in the streets (of course, we don't talk about that number anymore because nearly a third of that number are illegal immigrants, an issue Obamacare studiously avoids).
And it's no surprise. The left has had a far greater number of health care analysts devising grand plans for the eventual takeover. And they have invested more political capital in this issue than any other. It should surprise no one that the conservative effort in this space has been paltry in comparison. We just haven't had as many people thinking about health care, and we didn't actively move legislation on it when we were in power.
the key passage of my interview with John Ziegler on Tuesday, for it is, in a nutshell, why conservatives don't win elections anymore. It is not that conservatism generally permits less nuance than liberalism (in terms of political messaging, that is probably one of conservatism's strengths). Rather, [. . .] [t]here are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.During the health care debate, Republicans made little to no effort to discuss the actual merits of Democratic ideas for health care reform. Their objections were either rigidly ideological with no appreciation of the practical consequences of that ideology, or based on misinformation or lies. That is, Republicans made no real attempt to rationally win the debate. They surrendered the moment it started, and opted instead to use non-rational means of persuasion, such as propaganda and fear. They no longer have any interest Frum's quaint world of principles and ideas. And for that, they are paying dearly.
John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them.
So, dear conservatives, get to work. Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bold-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred. Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America. We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we'll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you.
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[T]he notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them—which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration—is ridiculous. Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward. —Barack Obama, 23 July 2007
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves. At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo—just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994. [...] This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none. [...] So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours. —David Frum, 21 March 2010
I don’t know if these two idiots are just unaware that protesters and activists tend to carry video cameras everywhere they go now in order to catch news as it happens, or if (more likely) they just figured that their completely fabricated story fit a pre-existing narrative the media would be happy to credulously pass on. The sad thing is that it appears to have worked. I won’t hold my breath for all the media who slandered the Tea Party protesters to retract and publicly these two out [sic] for the liars they are, though.Carson and Lewis, according to Wolf, are idiots as well. In fact, Wolf's post is entitled, "Lying Bastards Lie." So, according to Wolf, Carson and Lewis are (1) liars, (2) idiots, and (3) bastards. Is it really a stretch to think that Wolf and others like him would use the n-word to refer to them as well? No.
Really, it’s sad in a way. Racism still does exist in this country, but political crooks like Carson and Lewis have turned the owrd [sic] into a joke for the sake of their own political gain. Well done, fellas - way to serve the cause.
There has not been a single competitive election, legislative battle or even debate on the issues in the past four decades that Democrats have parachuted charges of racism and “hate.”I think that in his hysteria, Knight said the opposite of what he meant to say in the first paragraph. In the second, he infers from the fact that many of us are calling the protesters who hurled racist epithets "racist" that we think that being pro-life and supporting pro-school vouchers is racist. I don't think that being pro-life or supporting pro-school vouchers is racist; I think referring to African Americans with the n-word is racist. Martin, get a grip.
It is what Democrats use as shorthand for “I disagree”; it’s what they call their kids when they don’t do their homework. How does anyone think it became racist for one to be pro-life, or pro-school vouchers when the vast majority of black parents support school choice?
On March 4th, Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bill called the "Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010" that, if passed, would set this country on a course to become a military dictatorship.Read the rest of the story here.
The bill is only 12 pages long, but that is plenty of room to grant the president the power to order the arrest, interrogation, and imprisonment of anyone -- including a U.S. citizen -- indefinitely, on the sole suspicion that he or she is affiliated with terrorism, and on the president's sole authority as commander in chief.
The question is, how can we most effectively decrease the number of abortions? What we could collectively do is make it less likely that women who find themselves [in difficult circumstances] choose abortion. We could do more to make sure that everyone in this country has health insurance. (In fact, if health care reform is passed and more people are insured, it might actually result in a decrease in the number of abortions!)T.R. Reid argues for this claim in The Washington Post. Here is Klein's excerpt of Reid's column:
The latest United Nations comparative statistics, available at http://data.un.org, demonstrate the point clearly. The U.N. data measure the number of abortions for women ages 15 to 44. They show that Canada, for example, has 15.2 abortions per 1,000 women; Denmark, 14.3; Germany, 7.8; Japan, 12.3; Britain, 17.0; and the United States, 20.8. When it comes to abortion rates in the developed world, we're No. 1.
No one could argue that Germans, Japanese, Brits or Canadians have more respect for life or deeper religious convictions than Americans do. So why do they have fewer abortions?
One key reason seems to be that all those countries provide health care for everybody at a reasonable cost. That has a profound effect on women contemplating what to do about an unwanted pregnancy.
The connection was explained to me by a wise and holy man, Cardinal Basil Hume. He was the senior Roman Catholic prelate of England and Wales when I lived in London; as a reporter and a Catholic, I got to know him.
In Britain, only 8 percent of the population is Catholic (compared with 25 percent in the United States). Abortion there is legal. Abortion is free. And yet British women have fewer abortions than Americans do. I asked Cardinal Hume why that is.
The cardinal said that there were several reasons but that one important explanation was Britain's universal health-care system. "If that frightened, unemployed 19-year-old knows that she and her child will have access to medical care whenever it's needed," Hume explained, "she's more likely to carry the baby to term. Isn't it obvious?"
A young woman I knew in Britain added another explanation. "If you're [sexually] active," she said, "the way to avoid abortion is to avoid pregnancy. Most of us do that with an IUD or a diaphragm. It means going to the doctor. But that's easy here, because anybody can go to the doctor free."
Harry Reid put Marcelas Owens in front of the cameras to help deflect tough health care policy and political questions. . . . The usual hyperventilating from the Left — horrible conservatives “targeting” poor, innocent kid! conservatives “assault” poor, innocent kid! — just proves my point. Despite President Obama’s repeated admonition that health care reform is a “complex issue that can’t be reduced to snippets,” it’s exactly what Reid, Murray, Schumer, and his Owens’ grandmother propped up young Marcelas to do. Anyone who questions the narrative and absolute moral authority of the kiddie human shield is a heartless, right-wing stalker who should be vilified, if not arrested.You said it, Michelle. I didn't.
The Times fails to mention that Owens’ grandmother and family have been longtime activists for the left-wing, single-payer advocates of the Washington Community Action Network or that the boy and his grandmother traveled to Washington with sponsorship from the Astroturf lobbyists of the Health Care for America Now outfit, which characterized Marcelas as an “insurance abuse survivor.”(It's ironic that Malkin attempts to make stones of our hearts here by informing us that Marcelas may have been covered by a government-run health care plan.)
Never mind that there is not a shred of evidence that any health insurer ever “abused” Marcelas. Never mind that the family has made no claim that Marcelas himself has survived without insurance (in Washington state, low-income children have been covered either through Medicaid, SCHIP, or the SCHIP expansion program Apple Health for Kids).
The predictable cries of “McCarthyism” are rising. The demand for public disclosure is now being characterized as a “witch hunt.” Exactly as the Obama White House would have it: Demonize dissent. Freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.Say what?
There will always be lawyers willing to defend the indefensible. And if you are a lawyer willing to defend the indefensible you can get really rich and/or really infamous. Some of them are there just because they like the challenge.In the second paragraph, Erickson employs Cheney's McCarthyite strategy of questioning the loyalties and values of the Justice Department lawyers in question. At the same time, he reminds us who the real defenders of the Constitution are—not some cowardly risk-averse sociopathic right-wing intellectual lightweights, but rather those on the left who understand that no single person should have the power to decide who deserves due process and who doesn't. Further, as I understand the law, the Obama administration is under no obligation to take advantage of the "legal" avenues opened to them by the Military Commissions Act.
Typically, however, the lawyers willing to defend the indefensible are from the far left — particularly when defending those who are at war with America.
Good for them for being willing to have a niche in the legal field. But it says something not about them, but about the Obama administration that Barack Obama would put these same attorneys into the Department of Justice.
Stewart: Because you believe in the rule of law and that the country's fabric is decided not by the easiest cases to take but the hardest cases to take.That's pretty much how the interview went. Stewart, the host, had the unmitigated audacity to speak when his guest, Thiessen, had his points to make. Perhaps they should have put Thiessen on a stage under a spotlight and behind a lectern so we wouldn't have been annoyed by Stewart's unpatriotic interruptions.
Thiessen: But . . . but . . . but . . . This is diff . . . again . . . again . . . again . . . no, no, no . . . again . . . I'm telling you.
The idea that you can castigate people as though they are purposefully making America less safe and in league with the terrorists that we're fighting because they disagree with your ideas about safety I think is what's offensive about this.Stewart is challenging the idea that conservatives and the Republican Party alone know how to keep the country safe, and that anyone who challenges them is both wrong and a traitor. And that is the idea that is driving both Thiessen and Cheney.
Grayson introduces Public Option ActSources: http://westorlandonews.com/2010/03/09/grayson-introduces-public-option-act/, http://grayson.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=175363
Congressman Alan Grayson, (D-Orlando), today introduced a bill (H.R. 4789) which would give the option to buy into Medicare to every citizen of the United States. The “Public Option Act,” also known as the “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act,” would open up the Medicare network to anyone who can pay for it.
Congressman Grayson said, “Obviously, America wants and needs more competition in health coverage, and a public option offers that. But it’s just as important that we offer people not just another choice, but another kind of choice. A lot of people don’t want to be at the mercy of greedy insurance companies that will make money by denying them the care that they need to stay healthy, or to stay alive. We deserve to have a real alternative.”
The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish enrollment periods, coverage guidelines, and premiums for the program. Because premiums would be equal to cost, the program would pay for itself.
“The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population. That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’ It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair. This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote,” Congressman Grayson said.
In keeping with the “Grayson style,” the bill is clear and concise. It is only four pages.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Home-school mom Susan Mule wishes she hadn't taken a friend's advice and tried a textbook from a popular Christian publisher for her 10-year-old's biology lessons.Read more here.
Mule's precocious daughter Elizabeth excels at science and has been studying tarantulas since she was 5. But she watched Elizabeth's excitement turn to confusion when they reached the evolution section of the book from Apologia Educational Ministries, which disputed Charles Darwin's theory.
"I thought she was going to have a coronary," Mule said of her daughter, who is now 16 and taking college courses in Houston. "She's like, 'This is not true!'"
The Democrats made it clear that they intend to cover the uninsured before another lifetime or two elapses; the Republicans made it equally clear that they do not. “We just can’t afford this,” Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip, said, adding dismissively, “In a perfect world, everyone would have everything they want.” But, even when the two sides seemed to agree on a particular goal, the similarities were irreconcilable, so to speak. For example, both sides say that they favor making it impossible for people with “preëexisting conditions” to be refused insurance. Obviously, this can’t be done by simply ordering insurance companies to accept such people. Too many of the young and healthy, knowing that they couldn’t be refused, would wait to buy insurance until they got sick; the ranks of the insured would grow thinner and sicker, and premiums would balloon. Without the universal or near-universal coverage that Democrats support, just telling insurance companies that they must accept everyone becomes another way of distributing health care by ability to pay. We have enough of that already. Segregating the sick into “high-risk pools”—the oxymoronic Republican solution—has generally flopped in states where it has been tried. A similar logic holds for allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, another point of nominal bipartisan agreement. Without the sort of standards that Democrats want and Republicans don’t, those among the young, the healthy, and the poor who bought insurance at all would choose the cheapest, skimpiest policies from companies in the least regulated states, leaving people who need the kind of insurance many of us are lucky enough to have in shrinking pools with increasingly unaffordable premiums—the “race to the bottom” that the Democrats kept talking about.Source: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2010/03/08/100308taco_talk_hertzberg
Liz Cheney and her group "Keep America Safe" is after the lawyers who work for the government but (her ad disgustingly insinuates) are secret sympathizers with Al Qaeda. "Whose values do they share?" appears in bold white letters across the black screen, as the voiceover intones the same words against a background of ominous music. The slanders against government lawyers who represented detainees is an uncanny repetition of Senator Joseph McCarthy's hunt for Communists in government 60 years ago. In one of the most dramatic moments, McCarthy went after a lawyer.It is easy to see the parallel between the accusation that Department of Justice lawyers are Al Qaeda sympathizers and the accustation that certain lawyers 60 years ago were communist sympathizers. Luban suggests that what Cheney and McCarthy also have in common is that they both seized on an opportunity to take advantage of our fear of an enemy for political gain. Read the entire entry here.
Wednesday night, Liz Cheney told Bill O'Reilly that Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr "killed Americans." His trial doesn't start until July. So before you call the Justice Department to question the loyalty of the "al-Qaida Nine," ask yourself whether you really want to take the Bill of Rights out of the hands of the lawyers, courts, and officials sworn to defend it.Liz Cheney: you are a far greater threat to this nation and its constitution than any single terrorist. If anyone deserves a one-way ticket to Guantanamo, it is you.
It has been said that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. In the Daily Mail's March 2 editorial regarding health care reform legislation, "Using reconciliation would hurt Democrats: Choking off debate is no way to muscle through health legislation," the newspaper's misunderstanding of congressional procedures misinforms readers who, in rapidly increasing numbers, find themselves unable to obtain or afford medical insurance.Source: http://www.dailymail.com/Opinion/LetterstotheEditor/201003030609
The editorial correctly quoted me as saying in the spring of 2009 that using reconciliation to enact a huge health care package would "violate the intent and spirit of the budget process . . .".
I believed then, as now, that the Senate should debate the health reform bill under regular rules, which it did. The result of that debate was the passing of a comprehensive health care reform bill in the Senate by a 60-vote supermajority.
I continue to support the budget reconciliation process for deficit reduction. The entire Senate- or House- passed health care bill could not and would not pass muster under the current reconciliation rules, which were established under my watch.
Yet a bill structured to reduce deficits by, for example, finding savings in Medicare or lowering health care costs, may be consistent with the Budget Act, and appropriately considered under reconciliation.
With all due respect, the Daily Mail's hyperbole about "imposing government control," acts of "disrespect to the American people" and "corruption" of Senate procedures resembles more the barkings from the nether regions of Glennbeckistan than the "sober and second thought" of one of West Virginia's oldest and most respected daily newspapers.
My commitment to protecting the best interests of all West Virginians and the American people remains as firm and consistent as my devotion to observing the necessary and essential Senate rules and procedures intended to guarantee debate and the airing of diverse views.
Robert C. Byrd
Byrd is the senior U.S senator from West Virginia.
Boxer, who played a prominent role in brokering the ‘compromise’ in behind-closed-doors meetings with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska (who insisted on the abortion provision to obtain his yes vote), came under withering attacks from her longtime pro-abortion supporters following the inclusion of the Nelson provision. . . .So is it true? Does the Senate bill provide for government funding of abortion as California Catholic Daily, that paragon of objective and impartial reporting, claims?
But not to worry, Boxer told McClatchy News Service. Boxer, reported McClatchy, “said it's only an ‘accounting procedure’ that will do nothing to restrict [abortion] coverage.”
"If you go to Page 2069 through Page 2078 [of the Senate bill]," Stupak told George Stephanopoulos on March 4 on Good Morning America, "you will find in there the federal government would directly subsidize abortions, plus every enrollee in the Office of Personnel Management-enrolled plan, every enrollee has to pay a minimum of one dollar per month toward reproductive rights, which includes abortions." Stupak is here referring to the exchanges created under health reform and to a nonprofit plan managed by the Office of Personnel Management that would be sold through the exchanges. The latter was a consolation prize to supporters of a public-option government health insurance program that didn't make it into the bill.When Boxer said that the bill would do nothing to restrict abortion coverage, then, she was claiming that those who enroll in a health plan through the exchange would be able to obtain coverage for abortion if they so chose; she was not claiming that taxpayers would pay for those abortions, as California Catholic Daily claims.
Let's go to Page 2069 through Page 2078 of the Senate-passed bill. It says, "If a qualified plan provides [abortion] coverage … the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to [health reform's government-funding mechanisms] for purposes of paying for such services." (This is on Page 2072.) That seems pretty straightforward. No government funding for abortions. (Except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother's life—the same exceptions granted under current law.) If a health insurer selling through the exchanges wishes to offer abortion coverage—the federal government may not require it to do so, and the state where the exchange is located may (the bill states) pass a law forbidding it to do so—then the insurer must collect from each enrollee (regardless of sex or age) a separate payment to cover abortion. The insurer must keep this pool of money separate to ensure it won't be commingled with so much as a nickel of government subsidy. (This is on Pages 2072-2074.)
Stupak is right that anyone who enrolls through the exchange in a health plan that covers abortions must pay a nominal sum (defined on Page 125 of the bill as not less than "$1 per enrollee, per month") into the specially segregated abortion fund. But Stupak is wrong to say this applies to "every enrollee." If an enrollee objects morally to spending one un-government-subsidized dollar to cover abortion, then he or she can simply choose a different health plan offered through the exchange, one that doesn't cover abortions. (Under the Senate bill, every insurance exchange must offer at least one abortion-free health plan.)
Open criminality is a cancer on democracy. It implicates all who know of the conduct and fail to act. Such compliance presents a practical crisis, in that a government that is allowed to torture will inevitably transgress other legal limits. But it also presents an existential political crisis. Many democracies have simply collapsed as the people permitted their leaders to abandon the rule of law in the face of alleged external threats. The turn to torture was rapid, for instance, in Argentina at the time of the Dirty War and in Chile after the American-directed coup against Salvador Allende. In both cases, that turn had little to do with a perceived benefit from the use of torture in interrogation. To the contrary, the very criminality of the act had a talismanic significance. It asserted the primacy of the will of the torturer. It made the claim, for all to accept or reject, that the ruler was the law. Such a claim is, of course, intolerable to democracy, which presupposes, as Thomas Paine wrote, that “the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.”So, what is Wolf's take on this? I'll quote his post at length:
Like a spoiled and petulant child who has tattled on a sibling to Daddy to no effect, angry liberals who are mad that Bush Administration lawyers suggested it was legal to put a terrorist in a box with a caterpillar have decided to try the other parent to see if they get a more satisfactory response. . . . Ever content to parody themselves, outraged liberals offended at our very uncouth treatment of people who plot our national destruction have been busy demanding the heads of current law professor John Yoo and current federal appeals judge Jay Bybee ever since. . . .One can immediately see that Wolf is going to use whatever fallacious, non-rational means of persuasion are required to convince his readers, who are all too ready to believe what he says anyway and whose intelligence Wolf obviously does not respect. For who is the opposition here? The "bungling left," composed of "spoiled and petulant" children who want only to "[be] nice to people who want to kill Americans." If Wolf's actual arguments are so good, what purpose does the abuse serve? But think about it: how plausible is it that liberals, who are actual Americans, really want to be nice to actual terrorists? Last I heard, they want to convict them in civilian courts and execute them. So the portrayal is not only false; it is ludicrous.
Of course, as everyone (most especially the Obama Administration) realizes, this course of action is preposterous and dangerous for the future of our country.
In the first place, . . . it’s preposterous to go on a witch hunt against lawyers for the crime of rendering a legal opinion, simply because that legal opinion proves to be politically unpopular with certain sets of the population. . . .
More to the point, the ridiculous hyperventilation directed at Messrs. Yoo and Bybee by people who haven’t the foggiest clue of these basic principles - and the politically-motivated witch hunt that has followed, will lead inexorably to the practice of defensive (read: bad) law. . . . In a rare exercise of foresight, it appears that someone in the Administration has posed the question, “Say, what’s to prevent people from going after our license if we, say, opine that it’s legal for the EPA to enact cap-and-trade without legislative authorization?”
This, however, is a point that is lost on the bungling left, who seemingly have no guiding star or principle other than being nice to people who want to kill Americans and destroy this country.