Monday, September 29, 2008

An interesting Quote from 2005

...a global financial crisis in part provoked by its own reckless economic policies would permit the U.S. government to finally rid itself of any obligation whatsoever to provide for the welfare of its citizens except for the ratcheting up of that military and police power that might be needed to quell social unrest and compel global discipline. Saner voices within the capitalist class, having listened carefully to the warnings of the likes of Paul Volker that there is a high probability of a serious financial crisis in the next five years, may prevail. But this will mean rolling back some of the privileges and power that have over the last thirty years been accumulating in the upper echelons of the capitalist class. Previous phases of capitalist history--one thinks of 1873 or the 1920s--when a similarly stark choice arose, do not augur well. The upper classes, insisting on the sacrosanct nature of their property rights, preferred to crash the system rather than surrender any of their privileges and power. In so doing they were not oblivious of their own interest, for if they position themselves aright they can, like good bankruptcy lawyers, profit from a collapse while the rest of us are caught most horribly in the deluge. A few of them may get caught and end up jumping out of Wall Street windows, but that is not the norm. The only fear they have is of political movements that threaten them with expropriation and revolutionary violence.

--David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, pp. 152-3

Quick obvious thoughts on Sarah Palin

Well, of course, Sarah Palin is a ridiculous, scatterbrained ditz. So much so, in fact, that the now much-discussed SNL parody of Couric's Palin interview used Palin's actual words. But this will not hurt McCain's candidacy. If anything, it will help it. For two reasons:

1) McCain needs to distance himself from Bush somehow. He cannot do so with regard to foreign policy, of course. The doctrine of preventive war seems to be his DNA. He cannot do so with regard to the economy simply because he's clueless. But he can pick a complete idiot for his running mate, someone no one would mistake for some crafty, secretive cloak-and-dagger Svengali. McCain has promised that his VP won't plot a fascist coup d'etat in the wings. She's just too stupid.

2) Picking a stupid running mate has been a Republican tradition since at least Spiro Agnew. A country club party must throw some kind of sop to the idea of democratic egalitarianism, after all. If this idiot can become president, well, so can my kid who is now flunking Kindergarten. All this ridicule of Palin's run-on sentences and her outright ignorance will just serve to win the vote of the resentful dunces. Thanks to our public school system, this voting bloc is nothing to sneeze at.

Oh, by the way, Darrell Hammond's McCain was bad. It wasn't McCain. It was Dana Carvey's George H. W. Bush.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

File this under DUH!

Sorry, I have to correct a really glaring error. In a past entry I wrote:
All that is new with Bush is the shamelessly blatant assertion that we have the right to invade any country we damn well please, and it is precisely the utter shamelessness with which this "right" is asserted that is new. Past administrations were somewhat more decorous.
Well, that is wrong. Past adminstrations were not more decorous about asserting this Hitlerian right--not even somewhat. One need only think of Reagan with Grenada or Poppy Bush with Panama or McKinley with Spain or Polk with Mexico . Therefore, there is nothing new at all with the foreign policy doctrine of Bush der Zweite. The so-called Bush Doctrine is nothing other than traditional American foreign policy. This is obvious, and I should have known as much. Boy, do I feel stupid and scatter-brained. Can I be John McCain's running mate now?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Post for Mr. H. about the Catholic Conception of Confession

[A Protestant has asked me to explain why Catholics seek absolution from a priest. I don't feel like writing anything new. Hence, this recycled post.--PSR]

A few years ago I met an old friend from my undergraduate days. This man is one of the sweetest, even saintliest people I know, and he is an evangelical Protestant. At Washington U. I was a very loud and very cheeky atheist, and my blasphemous cheekiness caught the attention of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship which tried its darndest to get me to abandon my atheism and accept Christ as my personal saviour. Well, the Fellowship failed, and Deo gratias for that. Otherwise I fear that I would now be a Bush-supporting happy clappy evangelical. If that ever happens to me, I would hope that someone would have the presence of mind to give me an overdose of morphine.

Anyway, this very sweet man was part of the team that tried to convert me. When we met a few years ago, he was very glad to know that I had returned to the Catholic Faith, and I, truth be told, was somewhat disappointed that he was still a Protestant. He did tell me that he was an avid viewer of EWTN, and I pretty much left it at that. I figured that if he was watching Mother Angelica, he didn't need my sales pitch, which can really be overbearing and, hence, alienating. I keep forgetting the essential maxim of apologetics: win an argument, lose a convert.

But we did continue to discuss religion. He had a veritable horror story to tell me.

Ten years ago he told me that he had done something just awful. Really awful. It filled him with existential dread. In fact, the magnitude of his sin was so great that he thought he had done the sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost. As every reader of the Bible knows--and he was an avid reader of the Bible--this is the only unforgivable sin. My friend spent the next decade utterly convinced that he was doomed to an eternity in hell.

Yet, he soldiered on with his faith not because he had any benefit from it but because of his duty to the truth. God bless this man. But the thoughts of hell obviously were taking their toll. He was not only empty but ravaged to the point where he just could not bear any longer this inescapable damnation, and so he decided finally one day just to say that God had forgiven him. That made him feel better. Yes, this was very much a Protestant way out, deciding for yourself what is forgivable and what is not, but it is better than the alternative, suicide, which, by the way, is the unforgivable sin.

I have since been told that this horror story is a very common phenomenon in evangelical Protestantism, and actually there happens to be a very good reason why it is common. Sola scriptura, the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith. This doctrine simply begs the question of interpretation. How do you know that your interpretation is the one that God wants? The evangelical answer to this is simply that you are filled with the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost makes sure that you read the scripture properly. Okay, fine. How do you know you are filled with the Holy Ghost. You just feel it. You have this great sense of freedom. You feel accepted. You feel loved. You want to sing 7-11 songs all day and just do the will of Christ in sunny gratitude for His awesome sacrifice on the cross.

Okay, but what happens if this feeling goes away? What happens when you just don't feel like doing yet another verse of "Our God is an awesome God"? What happens in a moment of weakness you actually sin and suddenly feel like an ungrateful schmuck who has spat upon the crucified Christ? You pick up your Bible and flip to Romans 5 and try to remind yourself of God's mindboggling love with verse 8: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That verse used to make you feel so happy, but for some reason it fills you this time with gall. Why? And then Mark 3:39 and Luke 12:10 bang off the walls of your mind as rudely as the Grim Reaper's knock. Your sin was not just any sin, it was the eternal sin, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, and that explains why Romans 5:8 offers you no solace anymore. You have spoken against the Holy Ghost, and in consequence the Holy Ghost has left you. You are now irrevocably hellbound.

But wait a minute! Your sin may have been terrible, but you know others who've done the same thing, In fact, you know people who've mentioned the very same sins in their testimonies. Surely they are saved and are righteous and Godly people. But why does your stomach still feel like it's about to rupture? Because it's not the sin, it's how you did it. You did it with malice, deliberation, and glee. You didn't care about the Spirit inside you. In fact, you now remember you may have said to hell with the Spirit as you committed your despicable sin with wild abandon. Well, did you? You must have because you no longer can read your Bible with the same exhilaration, with the same joy. You can no longer feel the indwelling of the Spirit. That can only mean that, yes, you have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. You are going to hell.

This reasoning is the inevitable result of the evangelical's concept of sola scriptura. If the Bible and the feeling of the Spirit inside you are all you have to guide your faith, then if you don't feel indwelt, you're just screwed. The Bible never defines what exactly blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is and is, hence, vulnerable to all sorts of interpretations. Now, when you feel indwelt, you obviously think you're in good with the Holy Ghost and so obviously you'll not pay attention to Christ's warnings about the eternal sin. It's only when you feel forsaken by the Spirit, that those passages become a concern, and how are you to interpret them rightly? You need the Spirit to do that, but He's gone, and your mind is warped with sin. A very vicious circle has ensnared you.

I'd imagine that a lot of people would say at this point, "Well, screw this!," and relapse to their previous buzzes, be it drink, drugs, meaningless sex, or New Age Cults. But then there are people like my friend who was in it for more than the spiritual buzz. He wanted truth, and, again, may God bless him, but the solipsism inherent in his evangelical Protestantism made his individual conscience into a ruthless, merciless Holy Inquisition that damned him even beyond Maranatha. I repeat, he could have killed himself, and thank God he did not. He managed to escape his own mind, but it took a decade of torture to do it.

This is just one reason why the Catholic Church insists that we confess our sins to a priest. Sin makes us, of course, less like Christ and, therefore, less merciful, and the greater the guilt, the less merciful we will be with ourselves. It's absurd to expect that in such a state we can see God's forgiveness clearly. No, we need to hear the words of forgiveness from outside of our warped minds. And that's why Christ was not only merciful but supremely wise to institute the sacrament of confession. Nothing brings more peace this side of the eschaton than to hear a human voice actually say "I forgive you."

Sarah Palin's Church: I just gotta ask

Why do Evangelical churches look like Wal-Mart Stores? Is it because evangelicals believe that America is God's Country and since America is the land of consumer capitalism, churches, therefore, must look like warehouses?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

George Will is a Sophist

George Will has carefully nutured the persona of an impartial if somewhat curmudgeonly sage, who prefers a reasoned argument to ideological cheerleading. Well, persona means mask, of course, and, hence is a lie. Will is a partisan hack. If anyone has a doubt about this, then he is dumb enough to think Sarah Palin is anything more than a Beauty Queen Ditz. It was simply embarrassing to hear George Will defending Palin's scatter-brained answers in her interview with Charlie Gibson. Will said that he wouldn't have been able to say what the Bush Doctrine, either, because that question has three possible answers. Gibson should have given Palin a multiple choice exam, instead of essay questions. Because one can crib for the former, I presume.

The full answer, according to Will, is not just the right to anticipatory self-defense, but also the notion that the spread of democracy will make the world a safer place and that we must bomb the bejeebers out of not just the terrorists but anyone who gives them safe haven as well. Gibson mentioned only the first. So, the teacher got it wrong, and if the teacher got it wrong, then why should we expect that poor little girl to get it right? Charlie Gibson is the idiot. We should take away his merit pay and make him stay after school to pound the erasers.

Except that Gibson gave the right answer, even if it was somewhat oversimplified. That we should attack those countries that harbor terrorists is implied by the doctrine of preventive war. The former is merely a corollary of the latter. I suspect George Will took geometry some time in his life. He should know what a corollary is.

As to the spread of democracy, that is hardly part of the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine does not want to spread democracy. If it did, then why did we support Pakistan when it was a dictatorship and start bombing it the minute democracy took over? Did we welcome the democratically elected Hamas with open arms? We'd rather let Lebanon go down in a civil war than see Hezbollah have any share at all in that country's democratic government. And, of course, we insist that our troops stay in Iraq even though the Iraqi people and its democratically elected government want the exact opposite. This talk about spreading democracy is simply a lie to make us feel better about waging unjustified wars that impoverish, maim, and kill thousands upon thousands of innocent people. And this lie is not even new with Bush. It is at least as old as the Woodrow Wilson administration.

All that is new with Bush is the shamelessly blatant assertion that we have the right to invade any country we damn well please, and it is precisely the utter shamelessness with which this "right" is asserted that is new. Past administrations were somewhat more decorous. They thought it prudent not to make the comparisons with Adolf Hitler too easy. Perhaps, because they know that our schools are so bad and that the citizenry is so uneducated and stupid, the Bushies could expect that no one nowadays would know that the big crime Nazi Germany was accused of is precisely the cornerstone of the Bush Foreign Policy, namely waging wars of unprovoked aggression. Judging by how many people are going ga-ga over a stupid scatter-brained glamour girl like Sarah Palin, I must reluctantly say that this expectation is more justified than the claim of WMDs in Iraq ever was. The only reason why McCain did not choose Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, or Lindsay Lohan as his running mate is simply because they are all under 35 and therefore are constitutionally ineligible for the job.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sarah Palin is a Motherfucking Whacko

Right after Palin was named McCain's personal nurse, various groups wanted to meet with her, among them a pro-life group. Ms. Palin is supposedly pro-life because she wants abortion outlawed even in cases of rape and incest. I do as well. I am a Catholic who believes in the sanctity of human life, after all.

By the way, one need not be a faithful Catholic to believe that life begins at fertilization. That is not an article of faith as the Catholic Joe Biden would have us believe. It is rather a simple fact of embryology, something that can be known without recourse to the Bible, the Pope, or prayer. No leap of faith is necessary. A leap of faith is, however, required to maintain that even though Obama's running mate helped lie this country into the Iraq War, Obama is still the anti-war candidate. You also have to drink Kool-Aid in Obamatown, but I digress.

Anyway, so, Ms. Palin was to talk to a pro-life group last week, but she canceled that meeting. She was so busy being brought up to speed by the McCain camp (she had to learn when to do his tube feedings, for instance) that she had to cancel all such meetings--except one, that is: her meeting with AIPAC. The anti-abortion lobby can wait, but bowing down before Israel--even though that country recognizes the legality of what evangelicals like Ms. Palin say is an abomination, namely gay "marriage"--cannot.

But it should not shock that Israel would be Ms. Palin's overarching priority. Israel is what rules her party's pathetic excuse for a foreign policy, and it is also key to the apocalypse which will soon let Ms. Palin and her brood see Jesus--well, maybe not her daughter Bristol because she is an unclean slut. Ms. Palin is a member of an Assembly of God church. She is a Pentecostal. That means she speaks in tongues. That means she speaks gibberish. For example, when she says the Iraq War is a mission not of, say, really greedy and sick, cynical fucks at Haliburton but of God, she is speaking in tongues.

Being Pentecostal also means in her case that she believes in the pre-tribulation rapture. Her Church is known to use the Scofield Reference Bible, the notes of which were primarily responsible for the spread of the Rapture Heresy among evangelicals in the United States. The Rapture Heresy or Dispensationalism basically says that when Israel rebuilds the temple, Jesus will come and rapture all the evangelicals and then deliver the world over to famine, boils, and thermonuclear war. So, she is supporting Israel not because she likes Jews or falafels or even because she wants to protect the "Only Democracy in the Middle East" (which is a lie, anyway). She supports Israel because Israel by her lights will bring the end of the world as we know it, and considering how Israel is egging us on to bomb even more countries in the Middle East, she may very well be right, and I for one don't want to see if she is.

For anyone who is interested to know more about this dispensationalist bullshit, I have a much more detailed description here.

That Ms. Palin found the time in her busy schedule to speak to the Israeli Lobby but not to the anti-abortion groups shows that she is more interested in rebuilding the temple and triggering the apocalypse than she is in overturning Roe v. Wade. Catholic Bishops should make note of this if they want to tell us again to vote pro-life. Voting for Armageddon is hardly pro-life.

Ms. Palin is a motherfucking nutcase, every bit as zealously irrational as our propaganda machine makes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out to be, and only an idiot would want this bozo bitch a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hallowe'en and its Discontents (a post for Miss Lutheran)

[The occasion for posting this really old piece is learning of yet another frustration that dear Miss Lutheran is having with the Evangicals. She apparently sends her little boy to a grade school run by these lunatics, and they, presumably thinking that Hallowe'en is a satanic festivity, have made its celebration strengstens verboten. The School will have a Harvest Party instead. Yeah, I am sure first and second graders love dressing up as stalks of wheat. Ah, geez. This is just one reason (among many) why I would never be an Evangelical. This is also a reason why I don't consider myself a "traditionalist" Catholic anymore. "Trads" have a very strong tendency to frown upon any hint of fun. In fact, the piece below I originally wrote in response to anal retentive, Puritanical objections made by my fellow "trad" Catholics. These nuts don't want you even reading Shakespeare because patent blasphemies like "'Slid" will put you on the primrose path to the Mass in the Vernacular, and then it's only a matter of time before you will be leading the gay lifestyle in San Francisco and clamoring for priestesses who have burned their bras. The only fun these neo-Cromwellians seem to permit is making fun of Vatican II or ejaculating while anticipating the return of the Inquisition.

Anyway, this Evangelical School will let the kids dress up for the Harvest Party, but they may not dress as ghosts or even as superheroes like Batman or Spiderman. I hope some precocious kid piously asks if he may dress up as a New Testament Character and then comes to the party as the Gerasene Demoniac. Evangelicals are idiots.

Oh, for those who care, I am still deathly ill. Maybe I'll die before the first Presidential Debate. That would be a blessing.--PSR]

Must everything be kindlewood for a religious war? Well, yes. Sigh. Hallowe'en is fun. Why? It's fun to dress up as Dracula and affect a really thick Transylvanian accent. That should be reason enough to justify it. But, in this hyper-ideological age, fun unfortunately is not reason to do anything. Double sigh.

Okay, so let's be serious. There are two objections to the celebration of Hallowe'en (I insist upon the apostrophe, by the way) by Christians: 1) that, whatever its history may be, Hallowe'en has been taken over by the Satanists, Wiccans, and neo-Pagans and is, therefore, not an appropriate festivity for Christians and 2) that Hallowe'en has simply become a clever capitalist trick to rot our Children's teeth with really bad candy.

I answer that the Hallowe'en that is now being celebrated by the Darkside Wackos does not bear any resemblance to our Hallowe'en. Our Hallowe'en is based on the principle that because evil does not like to be mocked, we should by all means mock it. When a little five-year-old girl dresses up like a witch by putting on a conical made out of cardboard and smearing her face with green paint, she is being gloriously silly. The real witches hate this because to them witchcraft is a deadly serious business. They also hate it when this little girl goes around citing incantations with a high-pitched cackle of complete gibberish. How dare this little ignorant girl reduce our traditional spells to childish nonsense! This makes the real witches burn with indignation, and this is precisely why the little girl should have fun in her little witch costume.

Now, the Darkside Wackos that celebrate Hallowe'en are not silly. They are deadly serious. The Wiccans who dress up as Witches actually think by doing so they become Witches. So, they got to get the dress right. A cardboard conical hat? What, are you kidding? That would be too tacky! Yuck! No, they got to have the real thing. I have no clue as to what real witches wear these days. Robes made out of bat fur? A Necklace of the eyes of Newt? I don't know, but whatever it is (maybe whatever the Wiccan industry declares to be the Maleficarum fashion these days), they gotta have because, as we all know, clothes make the witch, eh? Also, these guys aren't satisfied with fake blood. No, no, no. They must have real blood. And so, of course, no rubber knives. I think you get the point. Of course, everyone will grant this distinction, but it will be objected that the distinction is not all that distinct for does not dressing up a witch bespeak a desire actually to be one? And, too, since everyone is dressed up as a witch, how is one to tell a good, silly witch from a deadly serious, fashion-conscious witch. In answer to the first objection, an actor who believes he is really King Lear is ripe for the Funny Farm.

Kids, it is true, have an over-active imagination, which could put them irretrievably into Neverland. Perhaps. I think this danger is exaggerated. Kids are also some of the best Thomists around, meaning they see things as they are. As long as the costumes are as cheesy as those in Doctor Who, kids won't be in any danger of blurring the distinction between fantasy and reality. I would suggest that it is precisely because kids know how to distinguish between reality and fantasy so well that they have such glorious imaginations. The ones who blur this distinction are a pretty dull lot. Take for example those who spend one third of their lives watching television (or those who swoon during a speech by Barack Obama).

As to the objection that it is hard to distinguish the good Hallowe'en from the bad, I think I have answered this, at least implicitly. Good Hallowe'en is silly and cheesy. Bad Hallowe'en is solemn and boring. I think this difference is intelligible enough. If you are at a Hallowe'en Party where instead of bobbing for apples, you have to hold hands in a circle and pray for the favor of a Celtic Goddess, you can safely assume you are at a bad Hallowe'en Party. If you are at a Party where the blood tastes like ketchup and you can see the zippers on the gorrilas, you are amid silliness and, therefore, safe.

As to the objection that Hallowe'en has become another clever capitalist trick, so has, unfortunately enough, Christmas. Abusus non tollit usum

Monday, September 1, 2008

A brief review of Shadia Drury's Aquinas and Modernity

Professor Drury is a liberal but one who is keenly aware of the shortcomings of liberalism. She really loves pluralism, for instance, but really, really hates that it is susceptible to a relativism that eviscerates any knowable moral standard, without which society will sink into either anarchy or tyranny. Therefore, Drury is ambivalent about Aquinas. She hates him because he defended the Inquisition which savagely suppressed religious pluralism but finds his natural law theory full of promise. Unfortunately, this promise was dashed by Thomas' religious zealotry which made him think that what by Drury's lights could only be his own idiosyncratic concept of the divine law trumped all concerns for the universal natural law. Had he not been such a religiously blinkered bigot, Drury suggests he would have been the John Locke of 13th Century. But no.

Leaving aside the dubious claim that Locke's theory of natural right captures the natural law as such, I find it fascinating that a liberal wants us to think seriously about the natural law. Drury is rightly afraid of the lunacies of post-modernism and legal positivism. The former is anarchy, the latter tyranny. And Drury is right to believe that natural law, if it can be found and, more importantly, command a democratic consensus, will provide a certain truth that will protect us against both evils. But Drury, remember, is at heart, despite all her misgivings, a liberal. In fact, a liberal in the tradition of John Stuart Mill and as such thinks the state's protection of pluralism of belief is the non-negotiable sine qua non of the entire liberal project. People must be allowed to believe what they list. Otherwise, you get an inquisition, and the liberal project goes up in flames of an auto-de-fé.

Fine. But Natural Law Theory is predicated upon an essentialist anthropology. In other words, Natural Law Theory puts forward a definite belief about man that is supposed to be true everywhere and at all times. And for Natural Law Theory to be the basis of a regime, only one such theory can be adopted. There are conflicting Natural Law Theories after all. For instance, Aristotle and Aquinas thought the Natural Law basis for property was need. Locke thought it was labor. So, which Natural Law Theory do we pick? We can't have a government picking a plurality of them because then it would be divided against itself, and that would hardly be a remedy against post-modern absurdity. Drury surely doesn't want that. But if a regime picks one theory and orders its subjects to believe it, then so much for Drury's beloved pluralism. Professor Drury is quite obviously in a dilemma.

Drury is too smart, of course, not to realize this, but her only answer is that we must know that there is a certain Natural Law simply because both post-modernism and legal positivism are just too ridiculous or frightening to be true. So, we just have to think really hard about Natural Law and have long talks about it. Fine, but we've already talked about this stuff for nearly three millennia, and there is still no agreement on what is natural for the Human Being. The post-modernist, as silly as he may be, might have at least one good point when he says that this conversation ain't never gonna end and we might as well just make fun of it. And the legal positivist, as fascist as he certainly is, recognizes at least this much, that society can't rely on an endless seminar for its rules. There will be resigned skeptics and impatient tyrants until Natural Law Theorists come up with a concept of man that is as self-evidently true as the most basic of arithmetical equations, and even then... Gödel, call your office.

Torture and the Ticking Bomb Scenario

[This is a post recycled from a review I wrote of The Dark Side by Jane Mayer. I post it here because I am too sick to write anything new and am too busy trying to translate Socrates's attempt to bugger Alcibiades. Anyway, some readers may think this post irrelevant because they believe the Bush administration claim either that we do not torture or that we no longer use those techniques widely believed to be torture. Well, everyone should know by now that the Bushies made the first claim with a straight face only because John Yoo pretty much defined torture away. And if you do not know this, then you do not deserve the right to vote. If you believe the second claim, please, call me; I've a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell.]

The Bush administration and its wind-up Nazi automaton apologists will often use the ticking bomb argument to justify the use of interrogation methods specifically proscribed by the Army Field Manual. Everyone knows this argument now because of the popularity of that piece of fascist propoganda, known as 24. There is going to a be massive terrorist attack in the next few minutes, if not seconds. You have caught an important member of the plot who has the 411 on how to stop the attack, but he's not talking. The sound effects of a ticking digital clock are only getting louder. What do you do? You inflict severe, intense, anguishing pain upon the motherfucker until he sings, human rights be damned because human rights will only get entire cities with their innocent populations destroyed. So, the Bush Administration says pretty much that if we don't use these extraordinary interrogation methods, i.e. torture, we will have another 9/11. And many people find this argument credible just because they think Jack Bauer is way cool.

But this is complete bullshit for at least two reasons: 1) It implies that 9/11 happened because of our bleeding hearts, and that's false. It happened because of massive incompetence (which I am inclined to think was deliberate). 2) If we were really worried about the next imminent attack, then we would be using totally different torture techniques. Most if not all of the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" that the Bushies insist are keeping us safe were designed to extract confessions and not information about imminent events. If you want information about imminent attacks, you don't put a guy in a cell and deprive him of sleep or blare ear-splittingly loud music at him for weeks, if not months, on end. You want the information before his partners in crime get wind of his capture and change their plans. Therefore, you want information as quickly as possible. Sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, disorientation, etc. all take weeks to work (if they work at all, that is), and you like Jack Bauer have only seconds. This ticking bomb argument cannot justify the use of the long term torture techniques that we are now using.

In fact, nothing can. They don't even produce reliable confessions. Even if they did, no court--except, perhaps, Bush's kangaroo military tribunals--would accept them. The only reason why we are using these "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" is because we are really sick fucks.