October 27, 2006

Friday morning rant

Well, a lot of things bug me.

Item one. NBC and other networks have refused to air ads about the new Dixie Chick documentary. Ironic, since the documentary explores issues of free speech. But the networks are worried that it is disparaging to our president. Sigh. They could kill a movie critical of Reagan; run swiftboating ads that disparaged Kerry, and the lying 9-11 movie attacking Clinton, but dare not criticize Bush?

Item two. Still haven't heard anything from conservatives about this attack on Michael J. Fox. No doubt, btw, that stem cell research is controversial and deserves discussion. This is not a slam dunk issue either way, but I am very afraid that much of the antagonism to this research is not based in any knowledge, but has been stoked by anti-abortion people. That aside, however, Rush Limbaugh's attack on Fox is unseemly and really unbelievable. If compassion is still in any ways associated with conservatism, then Rush should be confronted with this. Disagree with Fox's political stance (though he ran another ad a few years back for a Republican on the same issue) but don't attack his disease. As I noted to a friend the other day, one of the signs that the Republican party is being run by the nuts is the stature afforded to people like Rush and Sean Hannity. When Democrats rush to Michael Moore anytime they want to get the word out, then perhaps the "well, the other side is the same" can be argued.

Item three. Bush did it again with the signing statements. Congress (republican controlled congress) added a requirement for a 5 year experience level to run FEMA. Bush signed it into law, then added a signing statement that said he would ignore that. I really don't care about this particular law that much--Bush will find a way to hire an idiot whatever the requirements--but the fundamental challenge to our system is what bothers me. Do conservatives really think that a Hillary Clinton wouldn't look at those widening powers and think, "hey, why not?" That appears to be one of the major differences between me and my conservative colleagues. I would distrust a liberal president with those despotic powers as well.

Item four. Just a reminder. We torture and our Vice President makes light of waterboarding people, refering to it as "dunking people in water" instead of wrapping their face in celophane and giving them the sensation of drowning. Oh, and we prosecuted Japanese after WW2 for waterboarding and called it torture then. Must be different when we do it. And if that doesn't give you the dry heaves, note that countries like Jordan are now justifying their own torture because we do it. If that doesn't make you sick, then I wonder about our country.

On torture, conservatives still defend it with the ticking time bomb argument. If so and so knows where the bomb is, wouldn't you torture him? That ignores that most of the people run through our little gulag of horrors are not actually in possession of that information. The metaphor I am playing with is that we certainly make room for a police officer to use deadly force, but he is responsible for ensuring that it was a justified shoot. Under the Bush model, he would be able to shoot anyone who looked dangerous, there would be no oversight challenge, and there would be no way to actually charge the officer, or for the family of the victim to sue him in court.


P.M. Prescott said...

Here here

badly informed boy said...

I agree. I've argued elsewhere that the best response to the ticking time bomb argument for those who oppose the use of torture is to accept its conclusion. Anything less is intellectually dishonest, given that the TTB scenario can be imbellished to an arbitrary extent, such that the survival of the human race depends on torturing a single known terrorist.

Accepting its conclusion, which is exceptionally narrow even in its own terms, enables us to switch attention to the many difficult and practical questions which the argument ignores. These are where serious debate about the use of torture lie, and the ticking time bomb argument, precisely because it needs to be so abstracted in order to establish its conclusion, sheds no light on them at all.