Friday, July 16, 2010

Despicable Me

Jay Bybee on why torture - or on why giving legal opinions that say, in effect, "torture is OK by me" - is bad and to be regretted:
"I have regrets because of the notoriety that this has brought me," he said. "It has imposed enormous pressures on me both professionally and personally. It has had an impact on my family. And I regret that, as a result of my government service, that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family."
Greenwald's conclusion:
"That's what happens when you create a society where elites can engage in the most wretched and destructive acts with total impunity: it engenders a blinding, empathy-free, effete sense of entitlement whereby they see themselves as the only ones who matter and their own plight as the only one worthy of consideration. If you build a political system grounded in the premise that there's an elite caste so special and elevated that they are entitled even to hover above the laws and rules to which everyone else is subjected, the beneficiaries of that caste system are always the first to believe in its virtue."
Worth reading the whole thing.

My question would be: at this point, is the disconnection between the welfare of the People and the welfare of those who have the wealth and political connections to be elected to "lead" the People so great that it has made systematic reform all but impossible? Or is this just a symptom of the deeply pernicious sickness that was specific to the Bushies? If we - when we - get another Republican administration, will people like Bybee be excluded? Should they be? Or, if they are not, does this mean that there shouldn't BE another Republican administration until people like Bybee become non grata?



  1. The worst part has to be their constant whining . . . but that is common among both this elite and their countless stooges.

    The teaparty "movement" for instance is all about discomfort, not politics. Politics requires difficult choices and establishing consensus with sometimes temporary allies ("slow, willful boring through hard boards" as Max Weber described it). What the teaparty crowd are whining about is something else, it's the discomfort of not being able to link what they see going on around them with their self-serving assumptions and prejudices, not to mention their sickening "Selbstherrlichkeit" (the German word is soooo much better than "self absorption".

    That's why Palin is their heroine. To the more sophisticated she offers a wink: "WE know the truth, don't we?"; and to the more infantile the symbolic breast: "Drink up baby, mommie's going to make it all better".

  2. The guy got a Federal Judgeship for his efforts. He'll probably be the first SCOTUS or Attorney General nominee for the next Republican administration.

    And he's mainstream now as far as where the law hits the road. Unitary Executive, Article II powers, President can drop Hellfire on US citizens on their own say-so.

    If it were up to me, Jay and John would disappear tomorrow and a few months from now the gov't would admit they were at gitmo. In a few years, their case would reach the Supreme Court and the Solicitor General would use their own OLC findings to justify their imprisonment. Jose Padilla, who told his own judge that he didn't have the right to interfere with Presidential powers, would be rolled in to repeat that to Scalia.

    That's about the only scenario that would give me any hope for the future.

  3. Chief, I think it is a general societal problem that is just more glaring when looking at those who exercise higher levels of authority.

    And the problem is one of a general lack of relating responsibility and authority. While, theoretically, authority flows from responsibility, that just isn't the general perception in the good old US of A. And here's a guy who is whining because he is being held responsible for his actions in a position of authority. We're talking about actions that placed other humans in significant pain and suffering. Regardless of the circumstances he was addressing, he still thinks that he can enable the visiting of pain and suffering on others without being held responsible for his actions. Is his behavior any different than that of the Wall Street geniuses who earned millions for bringing down the world economy, and demanded millions more?

    It happens at all levels, to include the man on the street. It's just that it is more noticeable when someone exercising Bybee's level of authority tries to dodge responsibility.

  4. Chief,
    Forget Bybee and Woo. Old news.
    The question is- why are we still doing this stuff.?!
    What makes Obama any better than Bush ?

  5. seydlitz, srv: Agreed.

    Al: That's why this sort of thing drives me to despair. We've heard this sort of whining from Day 1. We "shouldn't look back". Nobody needs to be held accountable for any of this criminal stuff. Keep moving, nothing to see here.

    jim: The reason we're still doing this stuff is BECAUSE people were willing to forget Bybee and Woo and Dubya and Dick. You were a GI long enough to know that "A unit does well only that which the commander inspects". It the commander - we, the People - are gleefully and casually ignore these crimes, fail to prosecute and punish the people who did them, then we're in the same position as the officer who ignores his troops dicking around in the motor pool when they're supposed to be working a detail.

    Obama is better than Bush in that he doesn't appear to be initiating and promoting these criminals. He is no better, however, in holding his and our people to the standard we should be.