Nothing shocks the conscience of the conscienceless

Thus is the logic of the current round of Presidential denials that the United States of torturers America… engages in torture (after a whole new round of secret torture memos was just unearthed) [h/t to Candace.]. Because waterboarding, or starving people, or subjecting them to freezing temperatures or loud noises or sleep deprivation or all of this at the same time while holding them in solitary confinement for years, or anything else that everyone else in the world universally regards as torture… isn’t torture, because a conscienceless political whore with a law degree says it isn’t, so it isn’t. This logic is flawless, actually. (I would note this at Steven G. Bradbury‘s sentencing, when I sent him to prison for life for being beyond redemption or remorse for his role in advancing crimes against humanity, but hey, I’m not likely to get that chance, now, am I?)
Hey, look: I think the veto of the S-CHIP children’s health program expansion (only the fourth veto of the Bush II Presidency, btw) was stupid and mean-spiritedly cruel, if not actually vicious, but there’s really nothing structural about what particular level of funding we provide for a social program, even one as popular and desirable as health insurance for uninsured children. The fact is, Bush did it in the political open (even if he did it behind closed doors), and his party will have to pay the political price for it– which might be severe– or perhaps he will have correctly estimated the political price. Who knows?
The thing with the torture is that it IS structural– it tells us that we have a government that is not willing to be bound by law, indeed, not even willing to be bound by understood norms of human decency. And it is doing all of this in the shadows. Ultimately, for this government, the only limits will be political- what it feels it can get away with. And torture, of course, debases us a society– moving us in league with those societies better known for torture than those for not doing it… no names, please.
Torture is simply outrageous, and never justified, period, ever, end of story. (Even if the ticking-time-bomb fantasy had ever happened in the history of the world (and it has not), as Jim Henley has noted, it is as equally likely that the person being tortured screaming he knows nothing… actually knows nothing– and will call out the details of a non-existent plot sending his interrogators on a wild-goose chase, resulting in their failing to uncover the actual plot, and L.A. gets nuked.) That our “leaders” are crazy, stupid, or downright evil enough to think otherwise is a testament to the unfitness of not only themselves, but of their so-called opposition for not calling them on it, our so-called free press for not calling both of them on it, and frankly, on the rest of us, for not taking to the streets in outrage.
But we’ve become inured to all of this– downright comfortable. All I can say is… may God have mercy on all of us ( the kind of compassion that we have now made it very clear we can’t spare for any “other” who we find irritating at any particular moment these days.) And yes… it’s that bad.