On the Other Hand


What good would it do to prosecute people for torture?

People like me favor it because we think it’s essential for the restoration of the rule of law.

But let’s say people are investigated, indicted, and even convicted of torture.  So what?  They will still be heroes to conservatives, and martyrs, besides.  The next Republican president will pardon them on the very first day of his (or Sarah’s) administration.  And on the second day, s/he will put some of them right back into government offices.

Am I just being pessimistic?  No.  Movement conservatism has a long track record on this.  This is what they do with their felons and shady characters.  See: Liddy, Gordon; Colson, Charles; North, Oliver; Libby, Scooter; Abrams, Elliot; Poindexter, John; Negroponte, John.  All of them used their government offices to break the law, but all of them did it in pursuit of conservative goals, so all is forgiven.  Liddy, Colson, and North are all heroes; Libby is a martyr, but he’ll become a full-fledged hero if he chooses to be.  Abrams, Poindexter, and Negroponte were put right back into office.  Abrams and Negroponte twice each.  (The Bush family just can’t quit them.)

Just as conservatism can never fail, only be failed, there is no such thing as a crime committed in pursuit of conservatism, only crimes committed in violation of it.

Conservative = right.  Right = legal.  Therefore, conservative = legal.

It doesn’t matter what the statutes say and you don’t need no steenking court ruling.  You just need the raw power to do it.  Legislatures and judges are irrelevant because laws are irrelevant.  Aside from a quadrennial “accountability moment,” democratic processes, votes, and voters are irrelevant.  There is only what’s right and the power to do it.

What’s conservative is what’s right.  Just do it.

As long as 30% of the American public and one of our 2 major political parties think that way, we don’t have the rule of law, regardless of what Obama does in this or any other case; we only have accountability moments.  The rule of law doesn’t work that way: if it doesn’t apply at all times and to all persons, it doesn’t exist at all.

So maybe Obama is smart not to invest his energy and political capital in temporarily restoring an illusion. A Bush insider famously bragged that they didn’t acknowledge the facts, they made the facts.  Maybe the thing for Obama to do, then,  is make as many progressive facts as possible, by any means possible, for as long as he can hang onto power.   There is no law, there is only power.  Use it while you’ve got it.

That’s the “on the other hand” to my argument for holding these people accountable under the law.  God bless America.

(Oh, and let me go ahead and make this prediction: if the GOP regains control of the House during his administration, Obama will be impeached.  Not convicted, but he will be impeached.)


9 Responses to “On the Other Hand”

  1. DeJon05 Says:

    I wouldn’t call myself a Ron Paul supporter by any stretch, but I appreciated his concerns expressed in this catchy little video. Your articulation of the GOP approach to governance has consequences, and I appreciate the way Paul presents his concerns.

  2. urbino Says:

    Good questions. Great production.

  3. urbino Says:

    See: Liddy, Gordon; Colson, Charles; North, Oliver; Libby, Scooter; Abrams, Elliot; Poindexter, John; Negroponte, John. All of them used their government offices to break the law…

    I should clarify: Liddy, of course, never held an official position. He was just a hired hand.

  4. jazzbumpa Says:

    Good lord! Just when I thought had Paul figured out out, he made perfect sense for almost four consecutive minutes.

    It flashes by too quickly to get any kind of a look, and the focus is bad, but ‘War is a Racket,” a short pamphlet by USMC Smedley Butler can be found here.


    Required reading.

  5. urbino Says:

    I mentioned John Negroponte in my post, and as if on cue, he turns up in the news, again:

    Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert says he learned from a CIA-connected “whistleblower” in 2006 that Bush administration officials were suppressing the existence of a wiretapped conversation between Rep. Jane Harman and a suspected Israeli agent.

    John D. Negroponte, former head of the then newly established Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), had blocked then CIA Director Porter J. Goss from briefing Hastert, according to the account the whistleblower gave the former Republican House speaker.

    Jeff Stein, via TPM.

  6. Like I was saying… « Hungry Hungry Hippos Says:

    […] even prosecuting, these people would not re-establish the rule of law in this country. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)It Cuts Both WaysBush: U.S. […]

  7. michaellasley Says:

    This is a great reminder for those who are wanting to find someone to blame things on. There are probably several people who would volunteer to take one for the GOP team on this one.

    So if you were a strategist here….what’s your plan? Is it just to let it go, run the WH in as open a way as possible? Do you set up investigations that you know will most likely do nothing other than help the left vent some righteously produced steam? Do you…?

  8. urbino Says:

    In a word: I have no idea.

    I think I still prefer my idea to the other ones I’ve read — that is, Obama makes a deal with congress that he releases every relevant document to congress and the public, and congress agrees to no prosecutions. I don’t like it, but I like the other ideas I’ve read even less.

    The problem with my idea, though, is the attorney general. Presidents aren’t supposed to tell their attorney general who or what to investigate, or more to the point, who or what not to investigate. Politicization of justice and what not. So A.G. Holder could decide it’s in the interest of justice to pursue investigations and, if warranted, prosecutions, and there’s nothing anybody could do to stop him. (Unless you’re Richard Nixon, in which case you fire him and appoint somebody else (Robert Bork) acting attorney general.)

    So my idea might not work. Besides which, it’s hard to get around the fact that we’re legally required to investigate and prosecute torture.

    The one thing I think we can’t do is just sweep it under the rug and move on. The People need to know what was done in their name.

  9. urbino Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say: it doesn’t have to be all about prosecutions.

    The lawyers who wrote these memos should be disbarred; after all, they clearly are incompetent as lawyers. The CIA agents involved should be fired. Everybody should be barred for life from ever holding government office or working for a gov’t contractor again.

    These are all meaningful actions that both punish and, in the most direct way possible, advance Obama’s goal of making sure it doesn’t happen again.

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