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Hullabaloo


Sunday, March 06, 2016

 
Dick Cheney's No- Brainer Legacy

by digby



















His legacy is Republican presidential candidate who has the moral understanding of a 6 year old is the leading contender. Why? Because Dick Cheney and the boys busted that taboo and there's no going back:

JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): Let me ask you about your position on torture. When you and I talked last week you said that General Hayden was wrong when he said that military wouldn't follow you on the question of waterboarding and on the killing of terrorist families. In the debate you said "If I say do it, they are going to do it." You were talking about the military. Then on Friday you said, "I will not order our military to violate those laws." So what changed?

DONALD TRUMP: You never asked me about violating laws, in all fairness, we're talking about violating laws. I would say this, look. We have an enemy in the Middle East that's chopping off heads and drowning people in massive steal cages, ok? We have an enemy that doesn't play by the laws, you can say laws and they're laughing-- they're laughing at us right now. I would like to strengthen the laws so that we can better compete. You know, it's very tough to beat enemies that don't have any, that don't have any restrictions, all right? We have these massive restrictions. Now I will always abide by the law but I would like to have the law expanded. I would like to make --

DICKERSON: How?

TRUMP: Well, I'd like to -- I happen to think that when you're fighting an enemy that chops off heads, I happen to think that we should use something that is stronger than we have right now. Right now basically waterboarding is essentially not allowed as I understand it.

DICKERSON: And you would like it to be, if you could expand it.

TRUMP: I would certainly like it to be at a minimum -- at a minimum to allow that.

DICKERSON: Why do you think we don't have those -- why do you think we don't have waterboarding?

TRUMP: Because I think we have become very weak and ineffective, I think that's why we're not beating ISIS, it's that mentality.

DICKERSON: But you think people got rid of the law to be weak?

TRUMP: No. I think that we are weak. I think we're weak. We cannot beat ISIS. We should beat ISIS very quickly. General Patton would've had ISIS down in about three days. General Douglas McArthur -- we are playing by a different set of rules. We are -- let me just put it differently. When the ISIS people chop off the heads and they then go back to their homes and they talk, and they hear we're talking about waterboarding like it's the worst thing in the world and they've just drowned a hundred people and chopped off fifty heads, they must think we are a little bit on the weak side.

DICKERSON: The reason that waterboarding was -- a number of reasons, but one of them was because the worry was that if America does that then our soldiers, American hostages, will be treated even worse. That's the argument. What do you think of that argument?

TRUMP: They're doing that anyway. They're killing our soldiers when they capture them. I mean, they're doing that anyway. Now, if that were the case, in other words we won't do it and you don't do it, but we're not playing by those rules, they're not -- what, did somebody tell ISIS, look, we're going to treat your guys well would you please do us favor treat our guys well? They don't do that. We're not playing by -- we are playing by rules but they have no rules. It's very hard to win when that's the case.

DICKERSON: Isn't that what separates us from the savages?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so, we have to beat the savages.

DICKERSON: And therefore throw all the rules out.

TRUMP: We have to beat the savages.

DICKERSON: By being savages.

TRUMP: No, well -- Look, you have to play the game the way they're playing the game. You're not going to win if we are soft and they are -- they have no rules. Now I want to stay within the laws, I want to do all of that, but I think we have to increase the laws because the laws are not working obviously. All you have to do is take a look at what's going on. And they're getting worse. They're chopping, chopping, chopping, and we're worried about waterboarding. I just think it's -- I think our priorities are mixed up.

"You have to play the game the way they're playing the game...they're chopping, chopping, chopping..."

That's what he's talking about.

If I may be so crude as to quote myself from eleven years ago:
To some extent civilization is nothing more than leashing the beast within. When you go to the dark side, no matter what the motives, you run a terrible risk of destroying yourself in the process. I worry about the men and women who are engaging in this torture regime. This is dangerous to their psyches. But this is true on a larger sociological scale as well. For many, many moons, torture has been a simple taboo --- you didn't question its immorality any more than you would question the immorality of pedophilia. You know that it's wrong on a visceral, gut level. Now we are debating it as if there really is a question as to whether it's immoral --- and, more shockingly, whether it's a positive good. Our country is now openly discussing the efficacy of torture as a method for extracting information. 

When Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the phrase "defining deviancy down" he couldn't ever have dreamed that we would in a few short decades be at a place where torture is no longer considered a taboo. It certainly makes all of his concerns about changes to the nuclear family (and oral sex) seem trivial by comparison. We are now a society that on some official levels has decided that torture is no longer a deviant, unspeakable behavior, but rather a useful tool. It's not hidden. People publicly discuss whether torture is really torture if it features less than "pain equavalent to organ failure." People no longer instinctively recoil at the word --- it has become a launching pad for vigorous debate about whether people are deserving of certain universal human rights. It spirals down from there. 

When the smoke finally clears, and we can see past that dramatic day on 9/11 and put the threat of islamic fundamentalism into its proper perspective, I wonder if we'll be able to go back to our old ethical framework? I'm not so sure we will even want to. It's not that it changed us so much as it revealed us, I think. A society that can so easily discard it's legal and ethical taboos against cruelty and barbarism, is an unstable society to begin with. 

At this rather late stage in life, I'm realizing that the solid America I thought I knew may never have existed. Running very close, under the surface, was a frightened, somewhat hysterical culture that could lose its civilized moorings all at once. I had naively thought that there were some things that Americans would findunthinkable --- torture was one of them. 

The old Lebanon hand from above concludes by saying this:

I think as late as a decade ago, there were enough of us around who had enough experience to constitute the majority view, which was that this was simply not the way we did business, and for good reasons of practicality or morality. It's not just about what it does or doesn't do, but about who, and where, we as a country want to be."

Now that we've let the torture genie out of the bottle, I wonder if we can put that beast back in. He looks and sounds an awful lot like an American.