Andrew Sullivan has taken some time to consider why Liz Cheney would approve of the use of torture. For one thing, torture is (amazingly) not shameful to the far right; rather, it’s red meat to them. Sullivan quotes Adam Serwer on this point:
For the GOP, torture is no longer a “necessary evil.” It is a rally cry, a “values” issue like same-sex marriage or abortion. They don’t “grudgingly” support torture, they applaud it.
They celebrate it. Liz Cheney’s unequivocal support for torture methods gleaned from communist China has people begging her to run for office.
And thus, Liz, is given a second reason to defend her father, who should be treated as the war criminal he is. Her first reason, of course, is family loyalty:
Family members are always, and understandably, the last defenders of the criminal. The Cheneys’ natural inability to see Cheney in any reality-based perspective renders them psychologically able, even eager, to defend evil as a force for good in ways more forthright than others. Why this should be a plus for Cheney among the GOP rather than an obvious conflict of interest is part of the right’s current derangement. They too cannot hold the concept of their own moral fallibility in their fearful, clenched minds.
Sullivan’s entire post is well worth a read.
From primitive animists to the legends of the first gods, battling like irrational cloud-inhabiting humans over the cosmos, Wright tells the story of how war and trade, technology and human interaction slowly exposed humans to the gods of others. How this awareness led to the Jewish innovation of a hidden and universal God, how the cosmopolitan early Christians, in order to market their doctrines more successfully, universalised and sanitised this Jewish God in turn, and how Islam equally included a civilising universalism despite its doctrinal rigidity and founding violence.
Fundamentalism, in this reading, is a kind of repetitive neurotic interlude in the evolution of religion towards more benign and global forms.
The NYT today published an obituary for a deceased American fighter pilot who was captured by the Chinese:
Harold E. Fischer Jr., an American Flier Tortured in a Chinese Prison, Dies at 83…
From April 1953 through May 1955, Colonel Fischer — then an Air Force captain — was held at a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria. For most of that time, he was kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door through which a bowl of food could be pushed. Much of the time he was handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air. [...] Under duress, Captain Fischer had falsely confessed to participating in germ warfare.
So – when the Chinese do it it’s torture. When the US do it it’s “harsh interrogation”.
We expect more consistency of our major news organizations. We expect more of our own government.
It’s time to call for a special prosecutor, Mr. Attorney General.
I’d forgotten how refreshingly loud British government debates could be. Prime Minister’s Question Time is a classic opportunity for any MP to question and challenge the Prime Minister directly. I wonder how the US congress or senate would handle such a debate. If CSpan was this much fun, it would be prime time TV.
One of Andrew Sullivan’s readers wrote to say that Buddhism had two fundamental flaws:
A) It dodges the issue of death “through the conceit of reincarnation.” and
B) It “blames victims for their circumstances (karma).”
Succinct and persuasive arguments, in my mind. Yet I, just like this reader, am sympathetic to many of the other ideas offered by Buddhism.
What remains of conservatism today? Andrew Sullivan, who characterizes himself as a classical conservative, takes an ax to what so often goes by the name of “conservatism” today. Below is an excerpt. You’ll find Sullivan’s thoughtful article over at the Daily Dish:
In contemporary America, the right is now in an almost parodic state of ideology. There isn’t just a rigid set of beliefs, indifferent to any time or place (e.g. tax cuts are right in a boom and a recession, in surplus and debt); it is supported by a full-fledged organization or “movement”; this “movement” generates journals and magazines and blogs designed fundamentally to buttress the cause; and the most salient distinction discussed in these circles is between those who are for the cause and those against it (with particular scorn for any dissidents). There is, for good measure, always an enemies list, to maintain morale: the dreaded libruls! New leaders emerge because small groups of the ideological intelligentsia select them on the grounds of their conformance with the ideology – Palin and Jindal spring to mind. Or previously rational figures have to convert to full obedience to the tenets of the new faith if they are to become proper “conservatives” – McCain, Romney, two otherwise capable figures turned into hollow shells by the need to kowtow to fanatics. The final phase of this ghastly cycle is the Limbaugh-Coulter phase, in which nothing is left of the conservative cat, except a preening narcissism-as-entertainment grin.
Andrew Sullivan’s endorsement of Barack Obama wasn’t unexpected, but it is eloquent and inspiring. It starts with the many missteps American has taken since 9/11 and takes us up to today, and into the future. Here’s an excerpt: The world will soon remember why it resents America as well as loves it. But until this [...]
Andrew Sullivan sums it up: No social and cultural moderate can be a Republican presidential ticket in the era of Rove. So McCain was left with the party that brung him – and we now know what motivates that party: fear of the other and religious fanaticism.
Andrew Sullivan talks things over with reporter Marc Ambinder.