It’s Only Torture When It’s Used on Him

It's not torture

(Image from

In 2005, John McCain sponsored legislation to ban torture. The bill actually passed and was signed into law by Bush. McCain has a very good reputation on anti-torture issues. A reputation that is undeserved.

McCain’s law specifically exempted the CIA.

On Saturday, Bush vetoed a bill intended to close that loophole. John McCain supports that veto. Mr. Anti-Torture is the only presidential candidate who advocates the use of torture.

Some of you may not be happy with our choices in this election. I agree. We have two right-wing Democrats vying for the opportunity to compete against a far-right Bush clone in November. This is how democracy works. If you’re going to live in a country predominantly populated by right-wing islamo-homo-xeno-freedom-phobes, all you’re going to get are candidates who reflect those values.

All you can do in the election booth is try to tug the country just the slightest bit away from the values of hate and fear. The alternative is to be like McCain. Publicly pretend that you stand for one thing while actually supporting the opposite. If you do not vote for the Democrat in November, even if you stay home, you are voting to further enable the radical right and their campaign to destroy the values that this country used to stand for.

Outside of the voting booth, we have to continue to educate the populace and bring their attention to the important matters. Not everybody who voted for Bush fully understood the consequences of their actions. Not everybody who will vote for McCain really wants a perpetual war in Iraq or warrantless domestic spying. They’re fooled by the rhetoric and the slick commercials. We have to let these people know that what they think they are voting for is nothing like what the candidate really stands for.

Your efforts to educate the misinformed may only have a small effect in this election, because the best we can hope to achieve is putting a regressive Democrat into the White House.

The real struggle is for the long term. We have to keep pulling to the left. We have to keep pulling people away from the anti-American values of the right wing. Eventually, if we succeed, we will bring enough of the populace back to their senses that we will have real choices in future elections.

(The full article about McCain the Torture King is at SF Gate.) (via The Sideshow)

9 Responses to “It’s Only Torture When It’s Used on Him”

  1. Brian Says:


    I get the feeling you’ve been reading my comments on another topic. If I am to read between the lines I think you’re advocating voting for Hillary Clinton even if she manages to snatch the Democratic nomination away from Obama. Before I go any further, I think its important to highlight the things we all agree on here.

    1) A John McCain presidency would be a disaster. I happily concede this point. Eight years ago I thought he was exactly what we needed. Since then, he has shown that personal ambition mean more to him than principles. How much of a disaster his presidency would be is debatable. I happen to fall into the camp of those who feel that since we’ve survived George Bush, we can survive McCain. He at least has some admirable personal history to draw on, unlike Bush, and he isn’t as stupid or as callous as Bush is. And, of all the candidates the Republicans threw at us this time around, there were far worse choices that could have gotten the nomination.

    I understand your point about keeping this country from drifting too far to the right. I don’t think I’ve ever demonstrated a lack of awareness here of the danger posed by the far right, especially the religious zealots. The threat is real (and far more worrisome to me than islamic terrorists). But when is see the disdain these people, John Hagee notwithstanding, have toward John McCain, I can’t get too worked up about him ushering in a theocracy. That said, he is dead wrong on many, many things which is why I see his presidency ending in failure.

    2)Obama is a much better alternative to Clinton or McCain. No, I don’t think he’s perfect, but I do think he is a refreshing alternative to the candidates we’ve had to pick from the last several decades. An Obama presidency has tremendous potential to start us on the long road back to greatness. Maybe he’ll fail, and maybe he won’t. I at least detect in him a sense of honesty and integrity long lacking in our presidents, and that, to me, counts for a lot.

    Which brings me to Hillary Clinton. Its been said, and I agree, that we can learn a lot about how a candidate will govern as president by how he or she campaigns for the job. I have seen nothing from Senator Clinton in this campaign to suggest that she will be honest with us, that this quest for the White House is about anything more than her own ambition (like McCain), and that she has either the desire or the ability to do anything to make this country a better place. Yes, there are many issues that I agree with her on (and disagree with McCain on), but after eight years of Karl Rove politics, I was expecting more from a Democratic candidate. That she feels compelled to resort to the same tactics used by Bush and Rove shows how little she regards the intelligence of the electorate and how desperately she wants to be president. I can’t vote for someone like that. You yourself said, “They’re fooled by the rhetoric and the slick commercials. We have to let these people know that what they think they are voting for is nothing like what the candidate really stands for.” You were referring to McCain, but those same words equally apply to Senator Clinton.

    The implication is also made that if people like me, fed up with the whole damn thing, stay home on election day if Clinton is the Democratic nominee, we would somehow be responsible for another Republican administration. This overlooks several important aspects of the election.

    First, if Clinton gets the nomination, it will not be due to her winning more delegates, contests, or overall voters during the primary process. It will be a result of the proverbial back-room dealings of the past in which super-delegates override the will of the people because they are somehow convinced Clinton could win in November. Could anything remind us more of how Bush got into the White House in the first place? I won’t apologize for turning my back on any candidate who would be willing to do that.

    Next, Clinton has yet to make any compelling argument why she should be the next president. She blathers on about her supposed experience, and why it should matter more than Obama’s, but doesn’t McCain trounce her when it comes to experience? In fact, by trying anything and everything against Obama, she is gift-wrapping attack ads for McCain to use in the fall against her. To put it another way, she has not grasped exactly what she is up against with Obama, and why he is resonating with voters. Had she understood why, and also been motivated by loftier ideals than her lust for power, she would have dropped out by now and been looked upon favorably by most of the country. Instead, in a vain attempt to grab the nomination, she has damaged herself beyond repair. I contend that if she is the eventual nominee, her antics of today will be her undoing in November, not the apathy of Obama supporters.

    Lastly, never forget the legions of conservatives who simply hate the Clintons and will rally around McCain for no other reason than to defeat her. This speaks to one of the reasons I support Obama. He actually has a chance to get us past the divisiveness of the past, or at least turn it down several notches. Even if her goals were noble, she cannot get past the unbridled loathing those on the right have for her and her husband. Another Clinton presidency would be another circus of scandals, investigations and allegations that would keep her from accomplishing anything useful on behalf of all of us. It is unfair to her for this to be the case, to be sure. But there is no use denying the reality of it.

    I guess what all this boils down to is a fundamental difference of opinion about what kind of president Hillary Clinton would be. Many people see her as someone that they could live with, and I can respect that even if I disagree with it. This is also about McCain, to some extent, and how bad of a president he would be. Again, I suppose I don’t dislike him more than I dislike Hillary Clinton, which seems at odds with the thesis of your article. All I am saying is that I don’t believe either of them would make a good president, and that there are no minor benefits to a Clinton presidency that would make me willing to vote for her. I don’t expect to change anyone’s way of thinking about this, but at least I hope I have provided some understanding as to why I cannot vote for someone I do not want to have in the White House for the next four years.

  2. Parrotlover77 Says:

    As usual, excellent post, Ron. Let’s hope in 10 or 20 years the Democratic party (or whatever the predominant left-wing party is at the time) fully embraces the values of peace, tolerance, science, compassion, and common sense. And, moreover, the American people abandon the “Reaganomics wasn’t so bad” blinders they have on.

    I know Brian disagrees, but I sure hope for the sake of this country not becoming a theocracy that a Democrat wins. The good news, for Brian’s sake, is that it looks like Obama will win. However, you can NEVER count a Clinton out. They are professionals at campaigning.

    To any lurkers who aren’t sure: McCain has sold out to Big Religion – make NO mistake about it. He is NOT middle of the road. He is NOT tolerant. He will be a disaster for this country. The top Democratic contenders may be religious, but they will NOT legislate their religion or appoint religiously intolerant judges, etc. Keep that very important issue in mind this November.

  3. cipher Says:

    I recently heard someone say that McCain and Romney pretended to move farther to the right in order to placate the Christian fundies, and that, if one of them were elected, he’d move back to a centrist position. I don’t know what to believe. I can’t stand the fact that McCain has been sucking up to the Christian Right. I could understand criticizing Bush up and down, then embracing him weeks before the last election. I assumed they must have promised him something (although they didn’t give him anything to do in this administration, and they don’t even seem to be too happy about the fact that he’ll be the nominee). It sickens me, though, that he railed against Jerry Falwell & co., then gave the commencement address at Liberty Clown College. I’ve lost a tremendous amount of respect for him. Not that he’d care; on my most rightward leaning day, I still wouldn’t be part of his constituency.

  4. Ron Britton Says:


    You were the one specific example I had in mind, but the article was not directed exclusively at you. I’ve heard others state that if Clinton is the nominee, they won’t vote for her. I haven’t heard as many say the same about Obama. That’s why the Democrats have to nominate Obama. I don’t think Clinton stands much of a chance against McCain.

    I agree with you that Clinton would be ineffective as president. Even if her motives were pure (and we know they’re not), she is so divisive that she’d never get anything through Congress. Beyond that, of course, it will be a repeat of the Bill Clinton years. Non-stop attacks and investigations upon Clinton by the Republicans for imagined wrongs.

    We apparently view McCain differently. McCain will continue the policies of Bush. The Democratic Congress has already shown that they refuse to perform their Constitutional duty to balance his power. Clinton will at least change a few things, even if she isn’t capable of doing as much to undo the damage of the Bush years as we’d like.

    McCain = More of the same.
    Clinton = A little less of the same.

    I know that isn’t the choice we want. Like I said in the article, when the majority of the population is Fox-news stupid, you have to pull as hard to the left as you can and just hope you move the country a little.

  5. Ron Britton Says:


    I recently heard someone say that McCain and Romney pretended to move farther to the right in order to placate the Christian fundies, and that, if one of them were elected, he’d move back to a centrist position.

    That assessment is by people who don’t understand McCain. Yes, he is sucking up to the fundies to get votes. We have every reason to believe that he will reward his voters with Supreme Court nominees agreeable to them. Once elected, he will not “move back to a centrist position”, because he is not, nor has he ever been, a centrist. The entire Republican party is so far to the right that people are confused by what right and left mean. When elected, McCain will move from extreme-right to far-right.

  6. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Ron – you really hit on something important there. American left/liberals are considered the CONSERVATIVES in many other countries local politics. American right/conservative beliefs are absolutely unheardof in those countries. On the broader scale of left-to-right including politics from all countries, Democrats are about in the center, and traditional Republicans are about 1/2 the way to the right and neocons in particular even further (some touching the edge). So an American “centrist” is actually conservative from a global perspective.

    Since American media is so sheltered from global views these days, most Americans have no idea what politics are like in the rest of the world. That’s one great thing about the internets – you can easily find the information that Fox News won’t spoonfeed you.

    As for Clinton, I disagree that she would be ineffective. Less effective than Obama, I do believe that. But I also think that even with slim Democratic margins in the congress, much good work will get done undoing the horrible mess Bush as left with Clinton.

    I guess I’m just not as pessimistic as you guys are. November may very well change that…

  7. Brian Says:


    Your point is well-taken with regard to American politics versus those of the rest of the civilized world. We really do have no clue how we compare with other countries, or how other countries view us. American Democrats are a pale shadow of their foreign left-wing counterparts. American Republicans are in a league of their own.

    Back to Clinton. As I have previously stated, I don’t think she can accomplish anything substantial as president because she is just too divisive, and that is a trait that is unlikely to ever change. Supposing she wins the White House, how long will it take for her presidency to become bogged down in scandals and investigations, justified or not?

    The scary part of this scenario extends beyond the White House grounds to Capital Hill. A failed Clinton presidency (or even the perception of one) could easily usher in a new Republican majority in one or both houses of Congress. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have succeeded in leading Congress to lower approval ratings than Bush, which I never would have thought possible. I submit that the stage would be set for Congress to fall to the Republicans again, either in 2010 or 2012, and then we’d be even further away from the goal we all share of moving this country onto a more progressive path. I just do not see how an unpopular, ineffective Clinton presidency, facing a well-oiled Republican attack machine, could keep the Congress in Democratic hands.

    If McCain somehow wins, we will only be demonstrating that we as a country have not yet learned the lessons eight years of conservative rule ought to have taught us. If failure is all that awaits either President Hillary Clinton or President John McCain (and I don’t see any other likely scenario), I prefer that it happens on McCain’s watch so then maybe people will finally realize how out of touch and obsolete the Republicans have become. I fully realize how much damage he could cause, but maybe that’s the only way we’ll ever come to our senses. Perhaps that sounds harsh and reckless, but would any of you prefer to see another Jimmy Carter?

  8. Parrotlover77 Says:

    I do understand your concern about a failed Clinton presidency and, I admit, despite my supporting her as a candidate if she gets the nod, I would fear that. But I must point out that I do not think that Pelosi’s and Reid’s inaction on certain issues is the sole reason for the low approval rating for congress. I think a reasonable argument could be made that the low congressional approval rating could also be because Republicans are blocking a lot of legislation that the American people overall favor and along with the Bush Dog Democrats are not able to overturn unpopular vetos. But the fact is, we don’t know because there hasn’t been (as far as I’ve seen) a study or survey to find out why people are disapproving of the Congress. So it’s pure speculation.

  9. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Secondly, I must point out that despite the trumped up scandals, the Bill Clinton presidency remains one of the most popular in recent history. Although Hillary is entirely her own person, the resillience of the Clinton political family is astounding, not to mention their popularity (Hillary is a very popular Senator).

    I still have that fear in the back fo my mind, as you do in the front of yours, Brian, but it’s worth pointing out how they seem to prevail and how people seem to like them despite all the muck tossed their way.

    Anyway, you have made your point. I understand where you are coming from and I am no longer “hostile” towards your intentions to abstain from voting, should Clinton get the nomination, even though I obviously disagree.