Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Libertarian Remnant Camps in the Wilderness

Watch Jim Henley discuss issues with his flock of many of the few remaining honest libertarians:

Jim Henley: the President put torture back in the news, campaigning for a bill to make torture okay so long as the President meets the strict requirement of deciding to torture someone. Some Senators have squawked. Colin Powell has decided to try to reconstitute some shred of the dignity his stint as Secretary of State forfeited and a bunch of retired servicemembers remembered that they took an oath to defend the Constitution and a much better nation than one where, as Eugene Robinson writes, "the president of the United States of America, persists in demanding that Congress give him the right to torture anyone he considers a 'high-value' terrorist suspect. The president of the United States. Interrogation by torture."

On one level, it's hard to figure out how this got started.... Everyone knows that he'll slap a "signing statement" onto any supposed compromise legislation that comes to him and he and his underbosses will do whatever they wanted to do in the way of torture in the first place. Why bother proposing legislation? One possible reason is to provide some cover against international legal jeopardy....

[T]he really depressing theory, which I'm not the first to advance. The White House is picking a fight with Congress over torture because the White House thinks it will help the President (and his party's) standing with the voters. What makes the theory depressing is, it may be right. And what I want to know is, how do you like your blue-eyed boy, government power, Mr. Managerial Liberalism?

I'm not blaming liberalism for the Bush Administration.... I'm not saying that taxation is torture is the holocaust. I'm saying... you go to the polls with the electorate you have, not the one you might wish to have.... [O]ur country's more successful political party plausibly believes that appealing to the country's worst instincts is the key to maintaining power. To the extent they're right, I want that government to have as little power and prestige as possible. The Bush Administration is uniquely awful, but it didn't come out of nowhere, and what gave rise to it will persist.

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