Close Reading: Cheney defends “enhanced interrogation”

Yeah, see?

Yeah, see?

This weekend, former Vice President and possible war criminal Dick Cheney appeared on Meet the Press to discuss his reaction to the CIA torture report. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t like it. Cheney insisted that waterboarding and other practices were not torture, and said of the events described in the report that he’d “do it again in a minute.” He meant he’d order someone he’d never met to do it again in a minute, but whatever. The important thing is that what Bush and Cheney told the CIA to do, which we’re just finding out about now in an alarming declassified report, was great for America and definitely not torture. I quote:

Torture is what the Al Qaeda terrorists did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11. There is no comparison between that and what we did with respect to enhanced interrogation.

And that, dear friends, is the subject of today’s Close Reading.

Continue reading

Friday links! Nevermore inside Michele Bachmann’s head edition

Rep. Michele Bachmman (R-MN) retires from Congress to devour her mate.

Rep. Michele Bachmman (R-MN) retires from Congress to devour her mate.

Beloved hilarious Representative Michele Bachmann has retired from Congress, ending or at least suspending one of Combat! blog’s longest-running categories. Her last official act appears to have been to urge President Obama to bomb Iran at the White House Christmas party. Earlier this week, she delivered a farewell speech in which she attributed America’s economic success to the Ten Commandments. Quote:

It could be no coincidence that this nation, knowing and enjoying the heights of such great happiness and such great prosperity, that it could be built upon that foundation of the Ten Commandments and by the law given by the God in whom we trust.

Can you believe she only legislated for eight years? Today is Friday, and even those most deeply committed to just sayin’ stuff must fall silent sometime. Won’t you keep the flame burning with me?

Continue reading

Montana Republicans experiment with two-party government

Consarn those public schools!

Consarn those public schools!

Not long ago, Majority Leader Austin Knudsen (R–Folksville) announced committee assignments for the Montana State House. Seniority did not rule the day. Two freshman representatives, Jeff Essmann of Billings and Art Wittich of Belgrade, became heads of the Human Services and State Administration committees, respectively. Sarah Lazsloffy, daughter of Montana Family Foundation president Jeff Laszloffy and Helena’s youngest legislator, leapfrogged senior colleagues to chair the Education Committee. Besides their unexpected rise to power, what these representatives have in common is their loyalty to the conservative faction of the Montana GOP. You might remember this schism from the 2013 session, when moderate Republicans joined Democrats to vote down Knudsen’s proposal to use public funds to finance private schools. You might also remember the leaked email chain in which Essman, Wittich and alleged partner/family member abuser Jason Priest hatched a plan to “purge” said moderates from the Republican Party. Montana politics is awesome, and you can read all about it in my column for this week’s Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links, an alarming number of which involve close cooperation between government and industry, as well as police brutality. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Obama calls CIA torturers “patriots” who “damaged America’s standing”

Before we begin, does anyone need take a hard look at himself in the bathroom mirror?

Before we begin, does anyone need take a long look at himself in the bathroom mirror?

Maybe you heard about this, but yesterday the Senate Intelligence Committee released the summary version of its six-year investigation into CIA torture during the Bush administration. The summary is 525 pages long. It describes detainees who were subjected to medically unnecessary rectal hydration procedures, detainees who were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, detainees made to stand on broken feet—you know what? Let’s just go ahead and call them prisoners. Once you’ve waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for the 183rd time, he’s your prisoner. The president has condemned these behaviors as torture. But he refuses to comment on whether they produced meaningful intelligence that deterred terrorist attacks.

Continue reading

Hey, what’s contemporary racism look like?

B4W82gYCQAAchDG

Ended slavery, repealed Jim Crow laws, desegregated public schools and drinking fountains—this country has done so much for black people! Yes, You’re Racist brought us this tweet, which in addition to embarrassing some poor woman who can’t think, neatly captures what 21st-century racism looks like. Okay, the two high-profile cases of cops who killed unarmed black men and suffered absolutely no consequences captured what contemporary racism looks like. But this tweet reflects the silent majority that sustains such behavior.

In The Revolt of the Masses, José Ortega y Gasset remarked that for most people, modernity is the condition of using a bunch of technology that you cannot make yourself and consider a natural feature of the world. A liberal reading of his work suggests that social developments—like, say, reduced expression of institutionalized racism against black people—might be considered technology, too. That certainly seems to be the case for Chelsea A. Carlen, who takes as given the prevailing modern attitude that we shouldn’t discriminate against black people and ignores the historical abuses that made that attitude necessary.

She sees scholarships for black kids to go to Harvard, in other words, and ignores the history that starts with slavery and moves through racist admissions policies to get us there. Black people should be grateful that we’re killing them in the streets less than we used to. It’s an understandable perspective, albeit extraordinarily ignorant.

I bet Chelsea Carlen doesn’t even hate black people. She just regards them as a monolithic, protected class that hates America. We’ve done so much to treat you slightly less badly, and this is how you repay us? By freaking out just because cops can still murder you? How long do we have to let you vote and not sell you as chattel before you get over it?