Ten Second News

Slippery Slopes

Slippery Slopes

Andrew Sullivan’s dissection of one Boston cop’s overtly racist response to the Gates arrest is worth reading in full, but this part caught my eye: And the more you read, the more you realize how deep the Bush-Cheney legacy runs and how the torture and ‘enemy combatant’ state, celebrated nightly on Fox, easily seeps into…

This is your justification?

This is your justification?

National Review‘s best argument for “enhanced interrogation” now hinges on the threat posed by . . . Jose Padilla? So we’ve gone from defending torture on the grounds of a ticking time bomb scenario to defending torture on the grounds that a mentally incapacitated prisoner whose ties to Al Qaeda were systematically exaggerated poses a…

Judging is Hard

Judging is Hard

A fairly banal observation, I know, but one worth revisiting in light of the the latest Supreme Court appointment. Here’s a telling paragraph from Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent profile of Chief Justice John Roberts: Roberts’s solicitude for the President and the military extends to lower-profile cases as well. In Winter v. National Resources Defense Council, the…

Ah, Abortion

Ah, Abortion

~by sidereal When I’m asked for my opinion on abortion (or when I give it unprompted) I have to decide how long a conversation I want to have.  If I want it over with, I use the crude political vernacular and say I’m a ‘progressive pro-lifer’.  If I don’t mind exploring the issue a little…

Doubling Down

Doubling Down

There seems to be quite the fooferaw over responding to the Tiller murder developing between several bloggers that I respect: Publius and Hilzoy at ObsidianWings, and Megan McArdle.  A quick summary:  Agreeing with an Ezra Klein post in essence calling (correctly) the murder an act of political terrorism, Hilzoy wrote that Congress should respond to the murder…

Justifying Abortion

Justifying Abortion

This fascinating paper on abortion has probably been circulating for some time, but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to read it. A brief note about the author’s hypotheticals: I suspect the pro-life response to many of these scenarios would be similar to torture opponents’ rejoinder to the ticking time bomb: “Yes,…

not nearly enough

not nearly enough

From hilzoy: “I am strongly pro-choice, but I think it is perfectly possible to be opposed to abortion on principled grounds, and I think that it would be an enormous mistake to conflate all people who are opposed to abortions with either Dr. Tiller’s killer or the likes of Operation Rescue. That said, large elements…

continuity and the culture of death

continuity and the culture of death

1 a: the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body b: a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings c: an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction ~the definition of Life, from the Merriam Webster dictionary…

Larison on Sotomayor

Larison on Sotomayor

Daniel Larison has put together some excellent thoughts on the current leading objections to Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the SCOTUS.  I have my differences with Larison’s preferred jurisprudence, but he does a far better job than most explaining why the current primary objections to Sotomayor make exceedingly little sense from a conservative standpoint.  Larison’s explanation…

The Difficult Cloudy Middle of Abortion

The Difficult Cloudy Middle of Abortion

By Dan Summers — I enjoyed Chris’s recent post about Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame.  With his indulgence, I will take his metaphor about side roads and interstates, and modify it for my own purposes.  Traveling through his post, I was distracted by the following exit sign, and from it I turned to the…

Torture vs. Steroids

Torture vs. Steroids

A cogent point from the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Mark Madsen: When the congressional hearing of Jose Canseco vs. other MLB players created questions about steroid use, Congress acted quickly and decisively and spent the next several years with multiple Congressional hearings related to this important issue. I remember watching impassioned speeches by senators and Congresspeople talking…

torture and terror

torture and terror

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald Sleep deprivation, as Andrew notes, “can sound deceptively banal” compared to other torture techniques.  Of course, keeping someone awake for a night or two certainly can’t be considered torture (if they are able-bodied men or women that is). …

An Exceptionally Moral United States

An Exceptionally Moral United States

I have a confession to make.  Despite all my criticisms of waterboarding, American foreign policy interventionism, and a whole host of other aspects of the modern federal government, not to mention my refusal to consider most of Europe to be a socialist hellhole, I am a proud American exceptionalist.  Which is to say that I…

Look Back in Anger

Look Back in Anger

I suspect the debate over torture, atomic weaponry, and morality is rapidly reaching the point of diminishing returns, but I did want to say one last thing on the subject before moving on. For the record, I do not think Truman (or Bush) is a Nazi; I do recognize that the decision to drop the…

quote for the morning

quote for the morning

Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. . . . The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. . . .  ~ Charles Krauthammer Impermissible! I do not think…

War Crimes, Then and Now

War Crimes, Then and Now

In the course of a very thorough fisking of Michael Goldfarb’s latest attempt to justify torture, Julian Sanchez makes the rather banal observation that failure to prosecute war crimes in World War II doesn’t obviate the need to prosecute war crimes today. Goldfarb’s argument has never made a whole lot of sense to me, but…

Taking Leave of Our Senses

Taking Leave of Our Senses

“But the argument isn’t going away. It will be with us as long as the threat of terrorism endures. And where the Bush administration’s interrogation programs are concerned, we’ve heard too much to just “look forward,” as the president would have us do. We need to hear more: What was done and who approved it,…

Not Reading What You Defend

Not Reading What You Defend

I had fully intended to take a lengthy hiatus from torture-blogging, but this story just magnifies why I’ve become so frustrated over claims that the program authorized by the Bybee memo is clearly not “torture” within the meaning of the law.  Andy McCarthy in a telephone conference today: “As far as mental suffering is concerned…

Why They Fight

Why They Fight

Jim Manzi has written a provocative post on the moral distinction between battlefield killing and torturing unarmed POWs: So apparently it’s OK to inflict (the most extreme imaginable) violence when the guy is totally helpless in combat, but suddenly upon his saying the words “I surrender”, any serious violence beyond confinement becomes wrong. Now, the…

all the president's spies

all the president’s spies

John Judis would like to have more discussion about the possibility of ditching the CIA, or at the very least completely restructuring it: The question that Congress might ponder, but won’t, is whether the structure of our foreign policy apparatus – the power and responsibility vested in a secret branch of government —  invites abuse.…