Thursday, November 10, 2005

Godwin's Law No Longer Applies

I suppose the Bush Administration can't handle the fact that people are openly calling their motives and practices into question, especially now that it's become an open secret that the government uses torture to advance its means. Bush's silly and transparent line that "we do not torture" is easily rebutted with the observation that the Administration has sought to get exemptions from bans on torture. As Andrew Sullivan put it,
... why threaten to veto a law that would simply codify what Bush alleges is already the current policy? If "we do not torture," how to account for the hundreds and hundreds of cases of abuse and torture by U.S. troops, documented by the government itself? If "we do not torture," why the memos that expanded exponentially the lee-way given to the military to abuse detainees in order to get intelligence? The president's only defense against being a liar is that he is defining "torture" in such a way that no other reasonable person on the planet, apart from Bush's own torture apologists (and they are now down to one who will say so publicly), would agree. The press must now ask the president: does he regard the repeated, forcible near-drowning of detainees to be torture? Does he believe that tying naked detainees up and leaving them outside all night to die of hypothermia is "torture"? Does he believe that beating the legs of a detainee until they are pulp and he dies is torture? Does he believe that beating detainees till they die is torture? Does he believe that using someone's religious faith against them in interrogations is "cruel, inhumane and degrading" treatment and thereby illegal? What is his definition of torture?
For the guy who showed up here the other day and remarked that Bush was a "conservative", the definition of that word must mean he holds to the set of values that Torquemada held dear. They can't afford for this to become any more public knowledge than already is the case, and so the Administration is damned interested in investigating and punishing those who've leaked it; public scrutiny of what goes on in the dungeons of faraway countries could have real implications.

At this point, surely, there is no longer any comprehensible defense of Bush policy on these matters.

The desperation grows in the White House, and among its legion defenders. Peggy Noonan, who once upon a time used to write speeches for the likes of Reagan, is now reduced to anxious self-pity, an apocalyptic self-doubt catalyzing her wheels-coming-off-the-trolley analogy that practically begs for a strongman dictator to come and right the troubles of a rudderless nation. Her discomfort with actual liberty, i.e., the idea that no central planner is running things, shows to me that she hasn't got the slightest of clues about how free societies actually work. In fact, she has been one of its chiefest enemies for a while now. In her column, "Why Are Our Politicians So Full Of Themselves", she asks of Barack Obama why he's such an impressive gasbag, while scarcely noting that Bush is so full of himself that he's has lied about damn near everything he ever said while in office: the weapons of mass destruction, the threat Iraq posed to the United States, and now, the existence, to our eternal shame, of an American gulag with torture as one of its underpinnings. Godwin's Law, the idea that the first online participant to start making Nazi analogies loses any discussion, ceases to apply if, in fact, the action is something that Nazis would have actually done.

Update: The one thing that really set me off was the one thing I couldn't find until I dug it out of yesterday's browser cache, and that is this Norman Podhoretz howler of a column at Commentary, entitled "Who Is Lying About Iraq?" One of the most appalling attempts I've seen yet to keep Bush's string of big lies going; if there were a Hermann Goehring Propaganda Award, he'd take it with this piece in a heartbeat. How do these people sleep at night?