Patterico's Pontifications


Not Even Hitler Did This

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:38 pm

Sure, Justice Scalia said physical coercion might be legal under some circumstances . . . but he didn’t realize it might lead to this:

The admissions made by [9/11 suspects at GTMO] — who were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — played a key role in the government’s decision to proceed with the prosecutions, military and law enforcement officials said.

(Via Hot Air.)

Well, this guy looks like he could use a little pick-me-up:


Opinion Ignored

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:10 pm

I always tell the rock performer that, actually, I am not ready to rock.

But it never seems to make any difference.

So why did he ask?

Scalia on Torture

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:36 am

A BBC article reports on Justice Scalia’s recent remarks on torture:

Justice Antonin Scalia told the BBC that “smacking someone in the face” could be justified if there was an imminent threat.

“You can’t come in smugly and with great self satisfaction and say ‘Oh it’s torture, and therefore it’s no good’,” he said in a rare interview.

He also accused Europe of being self-righteous over the death penalty.

As regular readers know, I share Scalia’s disdain for the smug self-satisfaction of torture opponents on this issue. I oppose torture in all but the most extreme situations, and urge supporters to recognize the downsides, as I discussed yesterday. But the moral — and as Scalia makes clear, legal — framework used to examine the issue should not a pure black and white analysis, unless your priority is to assume the mantle of self-righteousness.

In the interview with the Law in Action programme on BBC Radio 4, he said it was “extraordinary” to assume that the ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” – the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment – also applied to “so-called” torture.

Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?

“To begin with the constitution… is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime.”

Justice Scalia argued that courts could take stronger measures when a witness refused to answer questions.

“I suppose it’s the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?” he asked.

“It would be absurd to say you couldn’t do that. And once you acknowledge that, we’re into a different game.

“How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?”

Jan Crawford Greenburg says there may be a Due Process issue:

“Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited by the Constitution? Because smacking someone in the face would violate the 8th Amendment in the prison context. You can’t go around smacking people about,” Scalia said. “Is it obvious that what can’t be done for punishment can’t be done to exact information that is crucial to society? It’s not at all an easy question, to tell you the truth.”

It may be a violation of Due Process, but Scalia wasn’t asked about that.

True, but I think Scalia’s analysis would be similar. Due Process violations are measured by what shocks the conscience. Does it shock the conscience to smack someone if you’ll save a city? Of course not.

Of course, what shocks the conscience is in the eye of the beholder. Some conservatives would gleefully see literally any torture applied to a mere suspected terrorists. If he turns out to be innocent, and his body was eaten slowly by ants, so be it.

Meanwhile, some liberals are appalled if we’re mean to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Even if we hadn’t waterboarded him, their conscience would be shocked by smacking him in the face. These sorts of cartoon liberals exist — and they consider me a worse enemy than KSM, for suggesting that physical coercion could ever be acceptable.

The reality is never as stark as Scalia posits, of course, which will inevitably lead torture opponents to claim he is trying to minimize the real issues. Not at all. He is just demonstrating that a balancing sort of analysis must occur.

None of this means that a confession obtained this way would be admissible, by the way. It’s possible to coerce an involuntary and inadmissible confession while acting in a way that doesn’t shock the conscience. So when you’re doing your weighing and balancing, realize that you could be throwing any admissible evidence down the drain. If you’re saving millions, it’s probably worth it. If you’re not saving anyone, then you might consider that the risks outweigh the benefits.

Patterico Reader’s Published Letter to the Editor Complaining About Tim Rutten

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:30 am

Here is Russell Fox’s letter on Tim Rutten’s column:

Re “The imperial presidency strikes back,” Opinion, Feb. 9

Tim Rutten wrote: “Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Vice President Dick Cheney was addressing the meat-eaters at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He told them that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again: ‘Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.’ ”

The quote is accurate, but the context is absolutely incorrect. In no way did Cheney state that he was glad the administration tortured people. In fact, he said the opposite: “The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously. We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values.”

Rutten has deliberately distorted the facts. Rutten writes opinion pieces and, I suppose, can say whatever he wants. Luckily, I have a choice. I have enjoyed reading The Times over the years (though I am not a subscriber, I purchase a copy most mornings). I’ll now be saving a few dollars every month thanks to your publishing such prevarications.

Russell Fox


Nice job. Edited out — making this a exclusive! — was this sentence: “This [Rutten’s column] reminds me more of something that might appear in a newspaper in a fascist country than anything else.”


A Paranoid (but masochisticly fun to contemplate) Fantasy From An Unabashed Clinton Hater: Perpetual Clinton Presidencies

Filed under: 2008 Election,Constitutional Law — Justin Levine @ 5:13 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

Scott Grant and Bruce Peabody contemplated the growingly prescient question over a year-and-a-half ago.

The end political result that they call for makes me hurl. But in terms of pure Constitutional interpretation based on the plain text of the 22nd Amendment, I regretfully concede that their legal argument ultimately stands up to scrutiny in my own mind.

Priority # 1 This Election: Make the Clintons just go away. (UPDATED with Disagreement from Patterico)

Filed under: 2008 Election — Justin Levine @ 4:48 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

Fred Barnes manages to sum up my own feelings pretty well. Having a Republican in the White House isn’t nearly as important to me as keeping the Clintons out.

Fred observes –

[T]here’s a growing consensus among both Republican and Democratic strategists that Obama would be the stronger general election candidate. He may be more liberal than Clinton, but by almost every other yardstick he’s a more appealing candidate.

Nevertheless, many Republicans are rooting for him to knock off Clinton. If that makes it more difficult to keep the White House, so be it. Being spared another President Clinton is reward enough. For now.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I wholly disagree, and urge my readers in the remaining primary states to cross over and vote for Hillary. It’s our only hope.

Notes From A Proud Global Warming Skeptic – Part 11

Filed under: Environment — Justin Levine @ 4:38 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

Climate Debate Daily – A great site that tracks the “consensus” over the issue of global warming. Recommended for bookmarking if you have any interest in the debate.

As the site itself states –


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