Today’s links to interesting news and analysis, collected from around the Internet. If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague.
- We should check the bill before we sign the check: “Value of the “Too Big to Fail” Big Bank Subsidy“, Dean Baker and Travis Mcarthur, Center for Economic and Policy Research, September 2009
- More bailout madness: “The Big Bank Theory – How government helps financial giants get richer“, Dean Baker, Boston Review, Jan/Feb 2010
- Campaign ads work because we’re fools. When we reclaim our common sense, they’ll no longer work. “Meg Whitman’s Campaign Spots“, Erik Tarloff, blog of The Atlantic, 17 February 2010
- Amnesia by the US news media: “More Than Peanut Butter“, Andrew Bacevich, World Affairs, 19 February 2010 — “Forget history, and it becomes so much easier to persuade yourself that the presence of U.S. forces in the Caribbean or on the other side of the world represents not a latter-day version of imperialism, but the benign and generous purposes of the United States itself, helping to bring light to a dark and troubled world.”
- Powerful, important article — We’re in a struggle to the death with something we cannot even define: “Terrorism: the most meaningless and manipulated word“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 19 February 2010 — Excellent links!
- “The Boy Gap“, Joanne Jacobs, Pajamas Media, 20 February 2010 – “It’s time for schools to focus on the widening gap in reading and writing skills that leaves so many boys unprepared for success in college or vocational training.”
- No, it’s not strange: “Update on the ACORN Story“, Conor Friedersdorf, The American Scene, 20 February 2010 — “Strangely, Mr. Breitbart says he’ll only release the full unedited video if Eric Boehlert or a couple other Media Matters big shots will debate him after watching the whole thing publicly.”
- “His-Panic – Talk TV sensationalists and axe-grinding ideologues have fallen for a myth of immigrant lawlessness“, Ron Unz, American Conservative, 1 March 2010
Also, please read this earlier post: Would a default by the US government help America?
Today’s top recommendation to read
From “Torture, Conscience, and the Tortured Conscience“, Andy McCarthy, National Review Online, 19 February 2010 — Excerpt:
“Officers of the executive branch have a solemn obligation to protect the American people. It is their highest responsibility. They are not good Samaritans.”
From “The Weak Arguments Offered by Waterboarding Apologists“, Conor Friedersdorf, The American Scene, 20 February 2010 — Excerpt:
In fact, the highest responsibility of executive branch officers is “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That is the oath every president swears, and the obligation he assumes. Since Mr. McCarthy served as a highly esteemed federal prosecutor he must know as much, so what explains the factually incorrect language he uses? He should revisit the prudence of the Founders, who understood that charging the president with protecting the Constitution implies delineated limits on his power.
In contrast, imposing on the office an open-ended moral obligation “to protect the American people” affords an abusive executive all the justification he needs to claim powers that scarcely have limits.
Beyond this fundamental misunderstanding of the executive branch and its obligations, Mr. McCarthy persists in the simplistic assumption that if “harsh interrogation techniques” elicit useful information from some detainees on certain occasions, they’re proven to keep us safe. Nowhere does he attempt to measure the benefits the information affords against the costs using these controversial techniques impose. How much time is spent following up on false leads elicited under coercion? How many fewer people surrender into American custody? How many talented interrogators uncomfortable with these methods left the CIA? Are terrorist recruiters helped by using the specter of torture in American as a tool to enrage their audiences? How many countries are less cooperative with our War on Terrorism efforts? What is the cost of American citizens who deplore these techniques so passionately that they lose faith in their own country’s moral standing?
These unanswered questions and many others are never grappled with by advocates of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. It’s as if the War on Terrorism is a chess tournament and they’re arm wrestling coaches.
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