Thursday, January 22, 2009

No Gitmo

Very encouraging news for those of us who expect great things for Obama. He's wasting no time in addressing the most shameful aspects of the Bush years--ending secret prisons, closing Gitmo, mandating CIA officers use the Army Field Manual. These are all very promising signs, and it could have been very easy for Obama to put them off--a terse "My lawyers are looking into it" kind of statement, followed by inaction.

I think this shows one of several non-mutually exclusive things: first, that he personally feels that torture is wrong, ineffective and counterproductive. Second, he is sensitive to his base and wants to make sure that he keeps his promises to them--to show them that his administration will not be the Nineties, Part II. Third, he is desperate to become a world-renowned leader and can't be seen to prevaricate in reinstating rights in place since the Magna Carta.

I tend to think all of these things hold sway, but I would like to think that Obama opposes torture on a moral level. Compare this to moral relativists like Jim Geraghty, who only see the political upsides of Gitmo and torture. That is all this stuff ever was to the right--at least to movement conservatives, I'll exclude principled conservatives like Daniel Larison. Rove and Co. turned torture into just another tiresome culture war issue with which to beat Democrats over the head. I agree that there are legitimate differences in the sort of culture that the left wants and the sort of culture the right wants, but this isn't that. It's just wrong, and political considerations aren't worth a damn here.

Obama gets this, and the public says that they agree with him. I find it weird that there is a 30 point gender differential. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has historically been effective at appealing to macho assholes.

(Hat tip: Appel)

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.