April 8, 2009

Charles Is Right

Torture is in the news again, as the Red Cross joins the ranks of international organizations condemning the United States for using torture to interrogate terrorism prisoners, this time focusing on medical doctors who participated in the process to make sure that the torture didn't kill any of the detainees. I frankly still have a hard time believing that Americans would actually would have done things like this. I desperately want this report to be incorrect.

Now, as many of you Readers know, it's not often that I would recommend listening to the Rush Limbaugh show. It's really only interesting when a caller gets the drop on the host. Like here.

The caller is a disgusted Republican, a McCain voter, who insists on moral grounds that the United States should not torture anyone. He's apparently someone who would buy into the policy I would impose were I the President: "No torture. Ever." The caller also correctly points out out that Rush's "Operation Chaos" intended to prolong the tight Democratic primary race between Hillary Clinton and the eventual winner failed to prevent the Democrats from rallying around Barack Obama in the general election. And most stingingly, he points out that the uniformity of thought and opinion on issues like torture -- it's okay to torture sometimes, and what we're doing isn't torture anyway -- is indicative of some sort of brainwashing.

Frankly, I can see where the caller is coming from. Now, I know that Limbaugh occasionally gets callers who pose as Republicans or conservatives and turn out to be plants (and Limbaugh secretly loves it when they sneak past his screeners because it's good for ratings when they do). But for his criticism, he earns a condemnation from Limbaugh to the effect that someone who says these sorts of things is not a real Republican and that he is an ignorant liability to the nation. If that is true, then count me within those ranks, too. Also count me as mystified when people who claim to take their morality and guidance on public policy issues from the Bible trying to make breathing room for torture in our laws.

What is disappointing, though, is that the caller accuses guys like Limbaugh of being brainwashed and is promptly condemned for exercising independent thought and coming up with a result to a policy issue that differs from Limbaugh. It lends credence to the brainwashing accusation, and it lends credence to the meme that Republicans all adhere to a line of policy dictated from Limbaugh's radio studio. If Republicans are capable of exercising independent thought, then they need to tolerate one another when they come up with different ideas than the ones espoused by Rush Limbaugh. But a constellation of different policy ideas seems to be precisely what a large faction of the GOP wants to discourage.

Which is why that faction of the party is and will continue to be a gigantic albatross around our necks when it comes to be election time.

The proud policy of the United States ought to be, and it ought to be Republicans pushing as hard as they can to implement it, is as follows:

1. No torture.
(a) Ever.
(b) Under any circumstances.
2. Our enemies are not our teachers. We hold ourselves to our own high standards, and we will not lower ourselves to the low moral behavior of others even if "they would do it to us" (See Torture Policy Rule 1(b).)

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