Like Watching a Dog Do a Math Problem

Richard Cohen, ladies and gentlemen:

On April 16, President Obamareleased the now-infamous torture memos along with a coveringstatement that said the CIA’s old interrogation methods not only failed to “make
us safer” but undermined “our moral authority.” A week later, a woman
holding the hand of a child walked into a throng in Baghdad and blew
herself up. Apparently she had not heard of our new moral authority.

So, wait, releasing the memos was supposed to stop all terrorism ever? DAMN, no wonder people are so upset about them, because that hasn’t worked at all!

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If the threat of torture works — if it has worked at least once —
then it follows that torture itself would work. Some in the
intelligence field, including a former CIA director, say it does, and I
assume they say this on the basis of evidence. They can’t all be fools
or knaves.

Why not? There’s no shortage of them at the Washington Post.

But it is important to understand that abolishing torture will not make
us safer. Terrorists do not give a damn about our morality, our moral
authority or what one columnist called “our moral compass.” George Bush
was certainly disliked in much of the world, but the Sept. 11 attacks
were planned while Bill Clinton was in office, and he offended no one
with the possible exception of the Christian right.

Hah hah hah … wait. What? This argument is stuffed so full of straw you might as well stand it up in a field to scare the crows away. Obama didn’t say releasing the memos would make us safer, he said torture didn’t make us safer. Does a girl with a web site really have to explain the difference to a Washington Post columnist? Also, I just have to jump in to juxstapose a few sentences here:

If the threat of torture works — if it has worked at least once — then it follows that torture itself would work.


If Obama thinks the world will respond to his new torture policy, he is
seriously misguided. Indeed, he has made things a bit easier for
terrorists who now know what willnot happen to them if they get caught.

Follow all that? The threat of torture may or may not work, so knowing all the horrible things that might happen to you or not happen to you at American hands if you do terrorism will make you more likely to do terrorism, becausethat’s not in any way the threat of torture.I don’t want to hear one more word about standards and rigorous edting of newspapers from anybody at the Washington Post.

The horror of Sept. 11 resides in me like a dormant pathogen. It took a
long time before I could pass a New York fire station — the memorials
still fresh — without tearing up. I vowed vengeance that day — yes,
good Old Testament-style vengeance — and that ember glows within me

SO GO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT or shut the hell up. God. The world is not a vengeance buffet from which you can either choose an option or bitch that there’s nothing there you like. I’m sorry if the torture served up by Head Chef Bush didn’t tempt your appetite, Rich, but there’s plenty of places down the street for you to nosh.

I mean, really, you want vengeance? Teach some Afghan school children to read. Hell, teach some children around here to read. I don’t know what the hell it is with guys like this, who seem to be waiting for the proper avenue for their holy rage, but the world is not short of stuff you can do to piss the Taliban and Al Qaeda off, not the least of which would be to stop being such a wanker all the time.

I know it is offensive to compare almost anyone or anything to the
Nazis, but the Bush-era memos struck me as echoes from the past. Here,
once again, were the squalid efforts of legal toadies to justify the
unjustifiable. Here, again, was a lesson that needs constant
refreshing: Before you can torture anyone, you must first torture the
law. When that happens, we are all on the rack.

This whole column is just so typically Cohen: “I’m against torture, but not like a pussy or anything about it, because I swore eternal vengeance the likes of which the world has not seen, said vengeance to be expressed mostly in writing about how hippies suck. Torture works, in fact the threat of torture works, but releasing memos that basically point out you’re fucked if Americans catch you terrorism-ing willl never work, because Obama hasn’t stopped all suicide bombings ever. So there.”



14 thoughts on “Like Watching a Dog Do a Math Problem

  1. You know, the media wankers piss me off on a regular basis, but the thing that is tearing at me now is that fucker Darth pulled this off. Because he managed to shift the debate to “torture is justified because it works” and we shouldn’t be having that fucking discussion. Torture is WRONG it is IMMORAL and it doesn’t matter if it is the most effective thing ever in the history of effective things, you still DON’T DO IT BECAUSE IT IS EVIL AND WRONG.
    I’m so tired of this, feel so filthy and wrong because of it, and yet it continues – they wank on about how horrible it was for Obama to stop using it, for him to release the memos, that he isn’t personally pouring the water onto the cloth.
    You know that they are now hoping and wishing for another attack to PROVE that Obama acting with just the tiniest bit of morality – because he hasn’t gone near far enough with this stuff, and the rendition continues – will make them right and justified in their staining our country with this.
    How does The Poor Man but it – you can’t unshit the bed? Obama’s just trying to get some clean sheets on there, but they will have NONE of that.

  2. What Wanker the Magnificent fails to understand is that REGARDLESS of personal faith – torture is immoral, it is INHUMANE. Not that it didn’t happen (cue the Spanish Inquisition and others…), but it was still wrong, still immoral, still inhumane.
    The only time someone should be bound up and having things clamped onto delicate areas, or be gagged or whatnot – should be when it’s MUTUALLY desired and there’s a safe-word because a couple (or more…whatever floats your boat) is having a lovely BDSM kind of day/night/week…

  3. What gets me is that Cohen and his ilk not only don’t mind, they seem PROUD to expose themselves to the world as sniveling cowards.

  4. What getsme is that the argument that torture is immoral and wrong simply will not work with these people. It won’t. It wouldn’t work with Cheney, and it obviously won’t work with Cohen, and there are a lot of other idiots in between in the same boat. They’re the ones that would have thrown Tallulah Bankhead overboard.
    No, the only thing that has a prayer of working with these guys is the argument that it doesn’t fucking work. And for some unknown reason (which I suspect has something to do with hardons and Jack Bauer and repressed masochism) they refuse to believe that argument.
    Srsly, I’m beginning to wonder how many of these guys have doms who come over to punish them in their basements. And may I just say I really squicked myself out with a picture of Richard Cohen…eew. Excuse me, I need to go sandblast my brain…

  5. I keep my family fed, clothed and housed by robbing banks. Surely, because my “job” is effective at achieving my aims there is nothing wrong with it. If some day a bank camera catches my face and the police chose to publish my photo, that will be wrong. All that will do is interfere with the safety and health of my family. Remember, my “job” is effective. Of course, if that camera does catch me, I hope the justice apparatus will just keep walking forward, and not look back for revenge.

  6. First Draft is on my bookmarks and I check in regularly for quality rants like this. However, this time I came here while looking through Memeorandum and doing a spit take upon reading the words “Like Watching a Dog Do a Math Problem.” So I’m clearly a big fan – I think you’re great even when doing something like a blind taste test. Sometimes I wonder if I like some writers because I visit them primed for awesome, but at least with this place it’s obviously not true. Keep being fabulous, A.

  7. Why not push back against him? Let’s do this: boycott Cohen’s sponsors, publicly.
    Go AFA on ’em.

  8. I swear what really motivates Richard Cohen is the fear that someone, somewhere might think he’s a faggot.

  9. I vowed vengeance that day — yes, good Old Testament-style vengeance — and that ember glows within me still.
    Holy shit. Is Stan Lee writing this guy’s stuff now?

  10. This column wasn’t as full of fail as Broder’s, but, geez, it sucked pretty hard nonetheless.

  11. If the threat of torture works — if it has worked at least once — then it follows that torture itself would work.
    I’m no expert, but I suspect that the threat of torture won’t be an effective deterrent to suicide bombers, seeing as how THEY’RE FUCKING COMMITTING SUICIDE YOU FUCKING IDIOT!
    “Yeah, as soon as we pick up all the pieces, we’ll torture them–that’ll show the bastard!”
    I take that back: Cohen isn’t a fucking idiot; he’s too stupid to fuck.

  12. Has it never occurred to people like him that torturing people justconfirms all the propaganda that the Al Qaeda True Believers (and friends) think about western civilisation?
    Funny thing, too:None of the people I know personally who have been directly affected by September 11th, “swore vengeance.” Most of them were too busy rebuilding their own and others’ lives to be bothered. And I’d like to say something to Mr. Cohen, in language he really can’t miss:
    Im tzarikh laasot tikkun olam, tzarikh laasot mashehu.
    (For the Hebrew-impaired in the audience, I am telling him “If it is necessary to heal the world, it is necessary to do something.”)

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