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Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
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Deranged Debates
Monday, August 31st, 2009
Welcome to the era of Deranged Debate, in which
subjects utterly beyond the pale are treated as worthy
of serious argument.

Torture? Criminally barbarous at all times. An
unmitigated evil under any circumstances. Contrary to
every principle of civilization, and everything America
stands for. And yet in the pages of our leading
newspapers and incessantly on TV and radio, torture by
our own government is discussed as something that
might have been justified, may have worked, could
have protected us, isn't really so bad when used against  
-- "them."

Only the profoundly ignorant of history can be unaware
of how "them" can become "us" suddenly and
arbitrarily. Only the abysmally stupid could fail to grasp
the savagery, the inhumanity and mutual degradation
involved in any act of torture. But that doesn't stop the
debate. Just today, here is the unspeakable Cheney,
who should be serving a life sentence for crimes against
humanity, on the front page of the New York Times
offering a "sharp defense" of torture.

Universal health care. In what possible way can it be a
bad thing to provide adequate medical facilities for
every citizen? Especially when tens of millions in the
richest country on the planet have no care at all. What
sane argument can be advanced for a health system that
spends far more than any other but ranks a mere
thirty-seventh in the world in results? Imbeciles and
those who've sold their souls to the insurance industry
excepted, what the devil is there to debate?

Few people noticed, but John O. Brennan, our new
counter-terrorism chief, Obama's Richard Clarke, called
off the "war on terror" a couple of weeks ago. In a
barely-reported speech he declared that the militarized
approach of the Bush administration had done more
harm than good and said, "We cannot shoot ourselves
out of this challenge." Sane people knew this all along.
As retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni told
Bill Maher last week, Bush declaring war on terrorism
was as if President Wilson had declared war on U-boats.

GWOT was such a ridiculous idea that it never was the
least bit worthy of debate. But Brennan's candor begs a
pressing question. If the war on terror is over, and
putting aside the issue of why we went there in the first
place, what the devil are we still doing in Iraq and
Afghanistan? Our troops are dying in a war that was
farcical from the outset and whose utility has now been
repudiated by the very people still waging it. So what's
to argue?

The mere fact that in each of these cases one side has
an argument that is not merely irrational but
psychopathic will do nothing to still the clamor. Such is
the utterly debased state of public discourse in our era.

©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2009
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