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Cole writes: "The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution is full of prohibitions on torture, as part of a general 18th century Enlightenment turn against the practice."

Torture violates values of the Enlightenment and principles established in the Bill of Rights. (photo: Getty)
Torture violates values of the Enlightenment and principles established in the Bill of Rights. (photo: Getty)

Why the Founding Fathers Thought Banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

10 December 14


have argued on many occasions that the language of patriotism and appeal to the Founding Fathers and the constitution must not be allowed to be appropriated by the political right wing in contemporary America, since for the most part right wing principles (privileging religion, exaltation of ‘whiteness’ over universal humanity, and preference for property rights over human rights) are diametrically opposed to the Enlightenment and Deist values of most of the framers of the Unites States.

We will likely hear these false appeals to an imaginary history a great deal with the release of the Senate report on CIA torture. It seems to me self-evident that most of the members of the Constitutional Convention would have voted to release the report and also would have been completely appalled at its contents.

The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution is full of prohibitions on torture, as part of a general 18th century Enlightenment turn against the practice. The French Encyclopedia and its authors had agitated in this direction.

Two types of torture were common during the lifetimes of the Founding Fathers. In France, the judiciary typically had arrestees tortured to make them confess their crime. This way of proceeding rather tilted the scales in the direction of conviction, but against justice. Pre-trial torture was abolished in France in 1780. But torture was still used after the conviction of the accused to make him identify his accomplices.

Thomas Jefferson excitedly wrote back to John Jay from Paris in 1788:

“On the 8th, a bed of justice was held at Versailles, wherein were enregistered the six ordinances which had been passed in Council, on the 1st of May, and which I now send you. . . . By these ordinances, 1, the criminal law is reformed . . . by substitution of an oath, instead of torture on the question préalable , which is used after condemnation, to make the prisoner discover his accomplices; (the torture abolished in 1780, was on the question préparatoire, previous to judgment, in order to make the prisoner accuse himself;) by allowing counsel to the prisoner for this defence; obligating the judges to specify in their judgments the offence for which he is condemned; and respiting execution a month, except in the case of sedition. This reformation is unquestionably good and within the ordinary legislative powers of the crown. That it should remain to be made at this day, proves that the monarch is the last person in his kingdom, who yields to the progress of philanthropy and civilization.”

Jefferson did not approve of torture of either sort.

The torture deployed by the US government in the Bush-Cheney era resembles that used in what the French called the “question préalable.” They were being asked to reveal accomplices and any further plots possibly being planned by those accomplices. The French crown would have argued before 1788 that for reasons of public security it was desirable to make the convicted criminal reveal his associates in crime, just as Bush-Cheney argued that the al-Qaeda murderers must be tortured into giving up confederates. But Jefferson was unpersuaded by such an argument. In fact, he felt that the king had gone on making it long past the time when rational persons were persuaded by it.

Bush-Cheney, in fact, look much more like pre-Enlightentment absolute monarchs in their theory of government. Louis XIV may not have said “I am the state,” but his prerogatives were vast, including arbitrary imprisonment and torture. Bush-Cheney, our very own sun kings, connived at creating a class of human beings to whom they could do as they pleased.

When the 5th amendment says of the accused person “nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” the word “compelled” is referring to the previous practice of judicial torture of the accused. Accused persons who “take the fifth” are thus exercising a right not to be tortured by the government into confessing to something they may or may not have done.

Likewise, the 8th Amendment, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” is intended to forbid post-sentencing torture.

The 8th Amendment was pushed for by Patrick Henry and George Mason precisely because they were afraid that the English move away from torture might be reversed by a Federal government that ruled in the manner of continental governments.

Patrick Henry wrote,

“What has distinguished our ancestors?–That they would not admit of tortures, or cruel and barbarous punishment. But Congress may introduce the practice of the civil law, in preference to that of the common law. They may introduce the practice of France, Spain, and Germany.”

It was objected in the debate over the Bill of Rights that it could be ignored. George Mason thought that was a stupid reason not to enact it:

“Mr. Nicholas: . . . But the gentleman says that, by this Constitution, they have power to make laws to define crimes and prescribe punishments; and that, consequently, we are not free from torture. . . . If we had no security against torture but our declaration of rights, we might be tortured to-morrow; for it has been repeatedly infringed and disregarded.

Mr. George Mason replied that the worthy gentleman was mistaken in his assertion that the bill of rights did not prohibit torture; for that one clause expressly provided that no man can give evidence against himself; and that the worthy gentleman must know that, in those countries where torture is used, evidence was extorted from the criminal himself. Another clause of the bill of rights provided that no cruel and unusual punishments shall be inflicted; therefore, torture was included in the prohibition.”

It was the insistence of Founding Fathers such as George Mason and Patrick Henry that resulted in the Bill of Rights being passed to constrain the otherwise absolute power of the Federal government. And one of their primary concerns was to abolish torture.

The 5th and the 8th amendments thus together forbid torture on the “question préparatoire” pre-trial confession under duress) and the question préalable (post-conviction torture).

That the Founding Fathers were against torture is not in question.

Fascists (that is what they are) who support torture will cavil. Is waterboarding torture? Is threatening to sodomize a man with a broomstick torture? Is menacing a prisoner with a pistol torture?

Patrick Henry’s discourse makes all this clear. He was concerned about the government doing anything to detract from the dignity of the English commoner, who had defied the Norman yoke and gained the right not to be coerced through pain into relinquishing liberties.

Fascists will argue that the Constitution does not apply to captured foreign prisoners of war, or that the prisoners were not even P.O.W.s, having been captured out of uniform.

But focusing on the category of the prisoner is contrary to the spirit of the founding fathers. Their question was, ‘what are the prerogatives of the state?’ And their answer was that the state does not have the prerogative to torture. It may not torture anyone, even a convicted murderer.

The framers of the Geneva Convention (to which the US is signatory) were, moreover, determined that all prisoners fall under some provision of international law. René Värk argues:

“the commentary to Article 45 (3) asserts that ‘a person of enemy nationality who is not entitled to prisoner-of-war status is, in principle, a civilian protected by the Fourth Convention, so that there are no gaps in protection’.*32 But, at the same time, it also observes that things are not always so straightforward in armed conflicts; for example, adversaries can have the same nationality, which renders the application of the Fourth Convention impossible, and there can arise numerous difficulties regarding the application of that convention. Thus, as the Fourth Convention is a safety net to persons who do not qualify for protection under the other three Geneva Conventions, Article 45 (3) serves yet again as a safety net for those who do not benefit from more favourable treatment in accordance with the Fourth Convention.”

Those who wish to create a category of persons who may be treated by the government with impunity are behaving as fascists like Franco did in the 1930s, who also typically created classes of persons to whom legal guarantees did not apply.

But if our discussion focuses on the Founding Fathers, it isn’t even necessary to look so closely at the Geneva Conventions.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The phrase “all men” means all persons of any nationality.

We know what the Founding Fathers believed. They believed in universal rights. And they believed in basic principles of human dignity. Above all, they did not think the government had the prerogative of behaving as it pleased. It doesn’t have the prerogative to torture. your social media marketing partner


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+47 # jcostello 2014-12-10 22:57
At last! Someone who asserts the Founding Fathers' views as well as the Constitutional prohibition against torture.It should be noted that many who were tortured were, in fact, innocent. Where were our bedrock principles of Habeas corpus and being presumed innocent until being proven guilty? George Washington prohibited his men from torturing British captives because it was dishonrable. Our FF knew what they were talking about!
-58 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-10 23:06
All true in the 'arena' whereby both the perpetrator or captur-ie agrees and the enemy also agrees that said rules of engagement and taking prisoners of war are treated humanely. Also a part and parcel of the Geneva Conventions .. that civilians as targets are off limits .. as targets .. the current dilemma and 'enemy' since 9/11's war game is primarily to kill civilians .. innocent civilians to advance their war game .. conclusion: You can't completely interprit this particular engagement and enemy to the same terms of agreed upon decency .. as the current enemy does not agree to nor and practice of said decency what so ever ..
-60 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-10 23:11
So i made up a relevant view point. The point is Juan you can throw out all the rules of decency when the enemy will kill you and me your family and mine in such a cursory fashion and laugh while you debate old laws that no longer apply .. now once we gain the upper hand we as a democratic society can agree to exert mercy .. something these folks view as weakness .. until we arrive upon that day .. we will gain the upper hand against this insideous and eggregious and abhorent ideology by which they continue to exert their cause .. until then we will and can take any methods we deem fit to apply to gain those ends ..
+25 # Jayceecool 2014-12-11 01:07
So, the true test is in the words of our country's founding documents
and you have clearly flunked!
+7 # backwards_cinderella 2014-12-11 04:59
oh get real already.
+23 # REDPILLED 2014-12-11 09:46
By admitting you are pro-torture you are admitting the following:

1. you will violate U.S. and international laws

2. you are a war criminal

3. you are immoral
-8 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-12 10:47
Torture worked. And water boarding and deprivation techniques are NOT terminal. Real torture customarily was and is .. so that's one mislead on oversight committee .. that report was released to quell the image of USA that was gamed by the arrogant Bush Admin as they damaged our image internationally ... and that's it .. against an enemy that kills civilians as their method of war .. our torture techniques are quite humane let me assure you ... in comparison .. what you phoney screamers don't acknowledge is what i say are realities you don't like .. neither do i .. but at least i don't scream like a child when the truth of all the matter comes out ..
+1 # Billsy 2014-12-12 14:29
No, torture did not and does not work and there is NO justification for it in a civilized society. You apparently are unable to learn based on rational evidence and are easily mislead by authoritarian fascist elites. Ditto what REDPILLED already stated.
-4 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-12 17:30
And you would be the very last fuck i'd ever want to be in a fox hole with ...
+2 # Billsy 2014-12-12 14:27
You cavil just like the fascists described by Dr. Cole. To justify inhumane treatment is to allow the state to sink to the level of the lowest creatures to whom it applies its laws. We've done enough damage with this kind of realpolitik rationalization . You just don't get it.
+20 # video4315 2014-12-11 08:36
Novelist James Baldwin wrote, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
+22 # video4315 2014-12-11 08:36
"Two wrongs don't make a right!"

My mother
+20 # m... 2014-12-10 23:13
''The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution is full of prohibitions on torture…''

Are we still living under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution..?

I thought, thanks to President Ronald and his Founding Assistants, we're living under Wall Street's Bill of Shrinking Consumer Rights.

I read the few sentences about my latest credit card and the Financial Rights I have left. It was among the pages of rights protecting the bank.
Didn't see anything in my latest Bank Policy Update about Torture and our Consumer Rights.
But, I hope its in there. Ya never know. Miss a payment and it may become a trip to the local Rack for a good stretching under our New National Security State's Protection of Bankers, Politicians and Then (if possible) Consumers Policies.

I am sure it was all properly authored by a patriotic Corporate Board somewhere--- in their Shareholder's best interest just as it should be of course.

If not, surely it will eventually be thoroughly investigated and brought to light before the world so we can all pat ourselves on our exceptional backs for staying on top of it and learning from our mistakes before letting go and moving on.

Its the American Way.

As a less cynical and more direct comment:
How come I haven't seen the Press questioning how Corporate Contractors may have affected or maybe played a part in the degree of Torture.
You have to wonder about National Security when more and more of it is contracted out to 'profit motivations'….
-4 # arquebus 2014-12-11 10:15
There is a wonderful thing about bank cards (besides convenience). If you don't like all the banks terms as spelled out in those pages of legal gobbledygook, don't take the card...or pay off all charges every month...they can't get much from you charging an interest rate on a zero balance.

And, all this has nothing to do with torture.
+3 # m... 2014-12-11 17:37
''And, all this has nothing to do with torture.''

You don't really think I was actually complaining about credit card-bank terms and their legal gobbledygook do you..???
0 # Billsy 2014-12-12 14:32
What a foolish statement. Have you ever tried to function in this society without a credit card? Typical; you are the one attempting to change the subject.
-6 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-12 10:51
All societies and governments can and will and have suspensions of societal laws in circumstances deemed threatening or unusual. i would say that 9/11 and post is that way with this particular enemy. Now has it been gamed and can it be? Of course .. hence the necessity for the 'check' by congressional oversite committee and the departing Feinstein .. appearances of checks and balances at least .. we're still fighting this war ..
+15 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-10 23:25
'Fascists (that is what they are) who support torture will cavil....'

That nails it, too.
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-10 23:25
Sorry for repeats - browser problem
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-10 23:25
'Fascists (that is what they are) who support torture will cavil....'

That nails it, too.
+2 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-12-10 23:25
'Fascists (that is what they are) who support torture will cavil....'

That nails it, too.
+10 # Docmc 2014-12-11 00:01
Correct, but that only has meaning when you have a functioning constitution.
+1 # Nominae 2014-12-11 17:29
Quoting Docmc:
Correct, but that only has meaning when you have a functioning constitution.

You have succinctly nailed it, Docmc.

"The Constitution is just a piece of paper." ~ George W. Bush
+15 # Justice 4 Everyone 2014-12-11 01:04
We must reject this myth of the 'Founding Fathers'

America was built upon the murder of Native Americans and stealing of their land.

America was built by enslaved Africans for whom the dream was a nightmare !!

The torture revelations is not a betrayal of this nation's founding principles but confirmation of them.
+28 # Thebigkate 2014-12-11 01:16
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Our nation was born in genocide....... We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode"

So I think it is not beyond question that the Founding Fathers were against torture. They condoned it in the case of indigenous people who had long lived on the land on which they decided to settle. The Constitution and Bill of Rights did not (and still do not) pertain to Native Americans. America has always been guilty of greed and exceptionalism- -and we still are. Sad.
+2 # ericlipps 2014-12-11 05:36
Actually, King was wrong, for in the eighteenth century the "Indian" tribes were not subjected to the appalling practices which would mark the nineteenth. He might better have said that our nation GREW through genocide.

Which, I grant, isn't much of an improvement, though sadly it was far from unique in history, even in Africa.
+7 # REDPILLED 2014-12-11 09:48
Raids on Indian villages started with the Pilgrims.
+17 # PrinceDarrell 2014-12-11 01:35
Thank you Juan Cole, true patriot and lover of the constitution.

We are not in fact, a nation of laws, and it is time to hold us to our ideals, to bring ourselves back into alignment before moving forward to better, and it is time for a peaceful, legal revolution.
+5 # 2014-12-11 07:23
What a great article. Stuff in here I didn't know. Thanks, Juan
+10 # fredboy 2014-12-11 08:16
Amazed to hear a former CIA official on PBS declare that the activities described in the report are not torture and were not against the law.

If that is true, then every nation has a green light to do the same to any visiting American and neither the visitor nor the US have any recourse.

Is that what we want?
-18 # Roland 2014-12-11 09:03
First of all, it isn’t any visiting American. It would have to be an American murderer of thousands of innocent people. And there would have to be the threat that he would murder thousands more in order to make a comparison.

Secondly, the rules of the Geneva Convention were to make it desirable for enemies to present themselves in uniform when waging war. As the article says there were different standards for those who broke the rules. Does it mention what rules should apply to those who broke the rules and are guilty of targeting and killing innocents, and planning to do more of the same?
+9 # REDPILLED 2014-12-11 09:53
The U.N. Convention Against Torture, signed by President Reagan and later ratified by the Senate (in 1994), is clear about torture and the requirement of prosecuting those involved.

According to Article VI of the Constitution (the "Supremacy Clause"), the Convention Against Torture is now part of U.S. law and the Constitution all members of the government and military have sworn to uphold. The Bush regime violated the Constitution by inflicting torture, and the Obomber regime violated it by not prosecuting the Bush regime torturers and also by inflicting torture - force-feedings and extended solitary confinement of Guantanamo detainees.
-18 # Roland 2014-12-11 10:12
I think most would agree that if we saved thousands of lives, what we did was justifiable.

A hypothetical. If you could torture the same people again today and by doing so, be able to bring back all the people killed on 9/11, would you.

I doubt many that lost loved ones would be against torture in that situation.
+7 # 2014-12-11 11:24
Our political leaders swore to uphold the laws of this country, and to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution." There was no addendum to the oath of office for extenuating circumstances. The Geneva conventions say no torture, it applies to us, but our leaders did it with impunity, even bragging about it, knowing they were breaking the law. They are criminals and need to face up to their crimes. They betrayed to principles they swore to uphold, and no hypothetical thinking excuses it.
-12 # Roland 2014-12-11 12:08
They do not see it that way. And neither do I and neither did Congress.
+7 # RMDC 2014-12-11 09:57
fredboy -- yes, that is what the CIA, US regime leaders, and weapons merchants want. They want a world of war, terrorism, and chaos because it allows them to fight permanently.
+3 # lilluc2 2014-12-11 11:55
Quoting RMDC:
fredboy -- yes, that is what the CIA, US regime leaders, and weapons merchants want. They want a world of war, terrorism, and chaos because it allows them to fight permanently.

What it does is allow them to get richer and richer. More money, more power, war is a money making machine. It's also all about fear-mongering! A populace in fear is more suggestible, and controllable.
+4 # jsluka 2014-12-11 12:17
Small correction RMDC - it allows them to send other people to fight permanently while they sit in safety and get richer.
+6 # RMDC 2014-12-11 09:56
"That the Founding Fathers were against torture is not in question."

While this is a generally good argument, it overlooks the fundamental hypocrisy of the founding fathers. Many or most of them were slave holders and Indian fighters. Torture and murder were practiced against non-whites regularly. The Declaration of Independence is very explicit in its accusations against Native Americans and its justification of the use of violence against them. The "we the people" of the constitution does not include people of African descent.

Cole is right that torture was being rejected by the enlightenment thinkers of the day. But the oligarchs who set up the US were hypocrits first and foremost. They wanted power and empire. The englightenment rhetoric was for them mostly a way to de-legitimize British rule. They did not apply it to people in America whom they thought of as an underclass. If effect, they thought just like Bush/Cheney/Oba ma do now -- colonized people need to be beaten, torture, bombed, and murdered into submission.

Torture is NEVER about gaining information. That is just the alibi or pretext that attempts to justify it. Torture is ALWAYS about power and inflicting pain on others to show who is in control. Torture is sadism. Read de Sade. He understands torture better than anyone. The architects of today's torture regimes are sadists. That is the correct understanding of the CIA report.
-8 # arquebus 2014-12-11 10:18
As we discuss torture, can anyone tell me if sawing someone's head off is torture?
+4 # jsluka 2014-12-11 12:20
Is death by lethal injection, apparently frequently botched, torture? Another form of torture widely practiced in the US is solitary confinement in the jails, which is certainly intended as a form of psychological torture. (Note that there is no difference between physical and psychological torture - they are equally harmful, painful, and unconscionable. )
+4 # RMDC 2014-12-11 13:28
If the person is still alive then it is torture, but it may also be capital punishment. Does it matter if the head is sawn off or snapped off by the hangman's rope? In Saudi Arabia, they use a very sharp sword to behead people. The act is very swift. There is no sawing. To them, this is legal capital punishment.

If the person is already dead, then sawing off the head is not torture. Forensic pathologists as well as CIA play-acting terrorists like ISIS do it all the time. In the latter case, it is theatre. It is info-tainment for brain dead americans.
-2 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-12 19:06
Correct. And the only way to deal with them is force .. until they submit to reason .. then we can and could exert Mercy .. something that they don't understand .. so think all you like that dialogue and other soft techniques will work .. look at ISIS .. kill women and children as a major part of your agenda? I say cut their arms and legs off on a world television feed hold em to live fire .. that's what they deserve ... for exerting that on us all and the West in general ..
+2 # 2014-12-11 11:53
What am I bid for this US Constitution. Over 200 years old but still in pristine condition. Upholds the principles of the rights of man. Be the first in your country to preserve, protect and defend it. Never been used. Any takers?
+2 # lilluc2 2014-12-11 12:06
In my eyes, the American government holds itself to entirely different standards than it holds the rest of the world. Bush, Cheney, the people who run the banking corporations, and a whole lot of others ought to have been brought to trial. Their actions only served to escalate hatred for America.
What will it take before we have had enough and begin en masse to hold peaceful, yet large powerful demonstrations. I wish I knew how to do it!
0 # 2014-12-11 15:48
As long as the US public has its bread and circuses, you shouldn't expect to see anyone clamoring to bring Bush to justice. But Bush and company are not unique; those different standards hold for anyone in power, in any country, in any century. Might makes right, regardless of what the philosophers might have said.
+2 # margpark 2014-12-11 17:19
Quoting BKnowswhitt:
So i made up a relevant view point. The point is Juan you can throw out all the rules of decency when the enemy will kill you and me your family and mine in such a cursory fashion and laugh while you debate old laws that no longer apply .. now once we gain the upper hand we as a democratic society can agree to exert mercy .. something these folks view as weakness .. until we arrive upon that day .. we will gain the upper hand against this insideous and eggregious and abhorent ideology by which they continue to exert their cause .. until then we will and can take any methods we deem fit to apply to gain those ends ..

It is sad that we are so frightened of ISIS that some will claim the right to torture prisoners.
0 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-12 19:12
How you get i'm afraid escapes me. I see it the other way you all who are so naive .. yes i believe in democratic values and counter respect .. i bet you on the battlefield i'd have to fight them and then coddle you and the so naive while you throw up on your shoes. Wake up PAL. This report was gamed from the start . it did work it does work even Brennan has gone against Obama on this .. it's about apperances ... and in a real threat like this ... you do like the enemy until you get the upper hand .. that's the way it is .. so you girls stay home now and take care of the children ..
0 # RMDC 2014-12-13 08:19
BK -- Obama kills women and children too with his drone campaigns and his special forces raids going on all over the world. How will you deal with him. Clearly he cannot be reasoned with. Same for Bush/Cheney. They could not be reasoned with.

I have a better explanation. ISIS is a death and terror band assembled by the CIA in order to overthrow the government of Syria. Their method is to totally destroy the country to punish the people for supporting Assad. Their orders come from Langley, VA.
+1 # Nominae 2014-12-11 17:35
Quoting Docmc:
Correct, but that only has meaning when you have a functioning constitution.

You have succinctly nailed it, Docmc.

"The Constitution is just a piece of paper." ~ George W. Bush
0 # Mannstein 2014-12-11 19:36
"...are behaving as fascists like Franco did in the 1930s, who also typically created classes of persons to whom legal guarantees did not apply."

Yet this is precisely what General Eisenhower future US President did to German POW's by declaring them as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF's) which provided them no protection under the Geneva Conventions. The result was the prisoners were incarcerated for months in huge cages along the Rhine river open to the sky without shelter or food in April 1945. The Red Cross was turned back by Eisenhower from inspecting the cages and the welfare of the prisoners. Relatives of the prisoners who approached the perimeter of the cages to throw food over the fence were shot at by US guards. Hundreds died as a result. See the book "Other Losses" by Canadian historian James Bacque.
0 # Blackjack 2014-12-12 13:50
Don't ever confuse right-wing nuts with historical facts or science. They will rebut it every time if it doesn't fit with their warped image of the world. They will howl from the rooftops about the injustice of it all, too, and the MSM will pick it up and give it "equal" treatment, making much of the general public fall in line with their stupidity.
0 # Bruce Gruber 2014-12-12 14:27
No relation, unfortunately, or I'd hit him up for a loan.

Gruber's comment is unlikely to be aimed at the average, median or individual IQ of the citizenry of our struggling nation. Nonetheless, he proves his probable point as a vast anti-intellectu al community performs its knee-jerk reaction to the propaganda machine that is capitalism's amoral underbelly.
Quick to despair of debt, joblessness,ins titutional instability and a rumor mill of accusation and blame, the American people cannot focus on something they appreciate or believe to be true AND that might operate in their interest. Girded with the sense that Limbaugh's incessant condemnation of pointy-headed intellectuals in favor of six-pack determinism meets some of their needs and insecurities, the average white male finds, in such "Cliff Notes", a means of avoiding the homework never quite conquered in earlier, simpler seeming times. Fixing the BLAME is always simpler than defining and addressing the PROBLEM. Reacting is always easier than figuring out what things mean.

As an electorate, American voters do not analyze policy in the legislative process. They do not even vote for individuals who even discuss policy or legislation. They want to hear someone who speaks their language of frustration...w ho tells them who to blame, not the answer to solving the problem. That is the essence of Gruber's remark.
0 # BKnowswhitt 2014-12-12 20:16
All True Grube. I gave my views. I don't want to 'soccer mom' our intelligence services or our military. I disagreed with invading Iraq on lies .. I knew it was wrong .. but we did it anyway .. i say we because we're in this big boat together. It is a part and parcel complexity of a big buearacracy to measure weigh and synthesize to the point of dysfunction .. this stuff is simple .. though i strongly disliked Bush and his policies .. and putting National Treasure in the form of our military on the ground in Iraq (Aghanistan was required) - we will now have to have troops on the ground again with ISIS .. that's a guarantee ... if you soccer mom these agencies and the good people there who are working in our best interests 24/7 and i believe that .. any checks and balances before the end game goal is reached ... we put our kids in harms way .. it's also worth noting .. The group back from these two wars has the highest suicide rate of any coming back from any war in american history .. it ain't over .. we owe it to them to do better ..
0 # corals33 2014-12-16 23:02
Ask the Native people of "america" if they thought your representatives were FOUNDING FATHERS before you even start writing Mr. Author. Let us get the narrative right before we go traipsing into this wonderful constitution and the magic words america has been hypnotizing itself with.Write the story right this time Mr.and stop with the sly sales pitch.The circled wagons of Europe on an american prairie are the REAL constitution the Founding fathers wrote.
Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.
0 # corals33 2014-12-16 23:16
I think it is incumbent on RSN to correct or reject authors who attempt to continue the mainstream miseducation of the ignorant masses.I for one am reluctant to donate to this media forum precisely because it feels so much like MORE OF THE SAME and that there is really a hidden agenda.Encourag e those who submit their writings for mass circulation to stick to facts and truths sensible people can debate and learn from, then and only then will you know if you are a worthy source of information. Donations will follow in floods.
0 # Brice 2016-10-11 17:27
To my thinking torture is like the death penalty.

In general in the abstract I am against it.

Look at all the ways it has been misused and how many innocent people have been sentenced to death or tortured, and what that torture does to the mind and body.

Then consider though that those not given the death penalty are often imprisoned in ways that allow them to live what is essentially a tortured life - which on occasion they can be freed from if they are lucky.

I became familiar with what Norway does with its serious law-breakers in Michael Moore's movies, and though it rubs me the wrong way to allow people who have harmed others seriously to live isolated in what seems to be relative comfort, I think it makes sense.

However, there are those such as Anders Breivik, the mass murderer of 77 people who I think there is good reason to make an exception and give the death penalty to.

In parallel, I think there are cases for torture, but I don't think they can be laid out because we lack the information and it can also not be discussed rationally. So we are in a kind of limbo, as at least some are in the US about the death penalty.

I think we do not really know, though both sides think they know and want to force their opinions on the other. The sensible thing to me is to avoid both the death penalty and torture, but not to rule either out completely or forever.

Supporters of torture though mostly hide behind claims they cannot prove though.

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