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Friday, February 15, 2008

Running on Empty

Occasionally, a poll reveals a somewhat disturbing attitude among Americans. Even when the poll is otherwise good news, we're often reminded that there are a lot of scary people in the Great Land of Ours. Take a recent CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll, for example. Hidden in the good news is a dark revelation for the mathematically inclined.

Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.

Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.

So, if 69% thinks it's torture, but only 58% think we shouldn't do it, then somewhere around 11% of respondents either think we should torture or are undecided on the issue. There's a vein of sadism in the US.

I'm sure that a certain percentage of these pro-torture types are guilty only of sloppy thinking. Terrorists, after all, might not deserve human rights. Their reaction is punitive. But I wonder how they'd answer if the question was whether we should torture merely to punish. Should we set up torture chambers in federal prisons and torture those who've been found guilty? I think you'd get a much smaller percentage answering yes. And I think the reaction to anyone proposing anything like that would be "He's a freakin' psychopath!" I doubt Thomas Jefferson would've given that idea a big thumbs up.

Further, if we point out that if torture is legal for us, it's legal for everyone and they're basically arguing that governments have the right to torture US military personnel, I'm sure the approving percentage would fall even further. I don't want to meet the people who'd stick to their guns after that -- those would be sick, sick individuals.

And these are the people that George W. Bush is reaching out to. As I posted yesterday, Bush is trying to freak us all out over terrorism prior to the election. Look at what he's been pushing lately; telcom immunity for wiretaps -- cast as something that would save America from the next 9/11. But, without immunity, telecommunications companies would only be restricted by law. Immunity is conferring a lawless condition to telcoms. They can do anything the government asks them to, legal or not. In fact, since many of the abuses have already happened, immunity is better described as amnesty. Luckily, Bush is losing that fight.

Bush also threatens to veto a bill that outlaws waterboarding, while the White House casts contempt charges against Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in terms of "We're all gonna die!!"


"The American people will find it baffling that on a day that House leaders are trying to put off passing critical legislation to keep us safer from the threat of foreign terrorists overseas, they are spending scarce time to become the first Congress in history to bring contempt charges against a president’s chief of staff and lawyer," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino wrote in an e-mail.

"If the House had nothing better to do, this futile partisan act would be a waste of time," she said. "Unbelievably, it is being considered in place of legislation to make us safer, address concerns in the housing market, improve health care conditions for our veterans, reauthorize No Child Left Behind or open new overseas markets for U.S. goods and services, among other bills. The 'people’s House' should reflect the priorities of the American people, not the fantasies of left-wing bloggers."

Things are pretty bad when accountability, oversight, the rule of law, and constitutional principles are dismissed as "the fantasies of left-wing bloggers" -- they were also the dreams of the founders.

Who do they think they're appealing to with this stuff? We've already established that waterboarding is an electoral dog as an issue. So is warrantless wiretapping.

Raw Story:

Majorities of voters on both sides of the political spectrum oppose key provisions in President Bush's proposal to modify foreign surveillance laws that could ensnare Americans, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The survey shows nearly two-thirds of poll respondents say the government should be required to get an individual warrant before listening in on conversations between US citizens and people abroad. Close to six in 10 people oppose an administration proposal to allow intelligence agencies to seek "blanket warrants" that would let them eavesdrop of foreigners for up to a year no additional judicial oversight required if the foreign suspect spoke to an American. And a majority are against a plan to give legal immunity to telecommunications companies that facilitated the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping.

Yet these are the issues that Bush seems to be pushing going into the election. What do you think CIA director Michael Hayden's admission that we'd waterboarded suspects was all about? Now, these same suspects are being brought before a military tribunal. If evidence that was tortured out of these guys is found inadmissible even in these kangaroo courts, expect another big push to fully legalize torture somehow.

They'd kept these guys for years, it's doubtful that they've found out anything new during most of that time, and now they're heading to a high profile trial based on evidence that the government admits was obtained by abuse.

These are the issues that George W. Bush and the Republican party think are winners. Add John McCain's commitment to staying in Iraq until the universe collapses and you've got to wonder what the hell these guys could possibly be thinking?

No wonder people are jumping ship on the GOP in droves. Look at the voter turnout -- Democrats are outvoting Republicans in massive numbers. And, if you look at these other polls, a big part of it is that George W. Bush is wrong on everything. Electoral disaster looms for the Grand Ol' Party.

There may be a way, even now, for John McCain to take the White House, but kissing that pro-torture 11%'s butt ain't it. If these are the discussions the Bush administration and the McCain campaign thinks we should have going into the elections, then bring it on. Every single fear-based issue is a loser.


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