Aug
22

Today’s Jane Galt Moment




Posted at 21:45 by Gavin M.

Because okay, maybe the anti-McArdle appeal is wearing off, like with the LOLcons explosion last week, but it’s just so easy and time-saving to look to her for material — every post has something like this:

Does torture work?

One of the most facile dismissals of torture is that it doesn’t work, so why bother? That’s tempting, but it’s too easy. Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information, which I assume interrogators can in at least some circumstances. Nor is it obvious to me that the quality of information is likely to be lower than that obtained by other means: yes, people will say anything to avoid torture, but they’ll also say anything to avoid imprisonment. Maybe the lies will be vivider or more voluble under torture, but it doesn’t seem necessarily so that the ratio of lies to truth will increase.

Why, maybe so! Who can say? If only there were a network of, for instance, computers all linked together, where we could search for information and have relevant documents come up on our screens.

Oh wait, that gives me an idea. Let me run a cable from my computer to the Washington Post offices.

The Shadow War, In a Surprising New Light

[...]

Bush “was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,” Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, “Do some of these harsh methods really work?” Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety — against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, “thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target.” And so, Suskind writes, “the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.”

Then again, to be fair, the article doesn’t say a single thing about how it seems to McArdle, so her point stands unchallenged.

Bonus McArdle moment I: “The whole concept behind insurance is immoral.”

Bonus McArdle moment II: “Hey John Quiggin, hey Daniel Drezner: If you mix up different meanings of the terms ‘idealist and ‘realist,’ doesn’t it make it seem like the Netroots are enraged because, uh, they’re so clueless about international affairs? Haha. Zing!”

95 Comments »

  1. emak bakia said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:01

    Please stop.

    Just lolrand her once and be done with it.

  2. Gavin M. said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:04

    So instead we should reinvigorate our relationship with Mark Noonan?

    I’ll put some thought into it.

  3. Cangrejero said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:05

    Maybe the lies will be vivider or more voluble under torture, but it doesn’t seem necessarily so that the ratio of lies to truth will increase.

    This is a good point, because we all know that terror suspects keep a mental running tally of the ratio of lies to truth told in all situations, and would be sure to keep it constant under torture. The would compensate by making ‘vivider’ stories, of course, similar to how galt is making vivider stupiditudinousnessosity.

  4. Righteous Bubba said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:06

    Abu Zubaydah

    How well does torture work when people have a K in their name?

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:07

    I’m going to have to take your word for it, Gavin. I started reading Bonus Megatron moment I and quickly realized it was a mistake.

  6. t4toby said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:12

    If only there were a network of, for instance, computers all linked together, where we could search for information and have relevant documents come up on our screens.

    Better get Al Gore on it….

  7. Lesly said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:16

    When did being unafraid to ask the hard questions also mean being overweening? Post-modern conservatism is a tragedy of war crime proportions and a terrible pun.

  8. fardels bear said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:17

    If we had a separate source that could “verify” any material we obtain under torture, why would we torture in the first place?

    And I love that the argument that torture doesn’t work is dismissed as “facile.” Right. Quite unlike her well-reasoned “it seems to me” crap.

    She argues like a libertarian, all right. Avoid anything past, “it seems to me.”

  9. Anna said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:26

    “…vivider…”

    “VIVIDER”??

    swear to god, these people are just going to start grunting any day now.

  10. stryx said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:28

    So this is what happens to your writing when you attend one of those Ivy League schools. It gets vivider. Or just more voluble.
    Huh.

  11. MrWonderful said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:29

    McArdle, like many libertarians, writes like a bright twelve-year old, what we might call “an existential virgin,” who has no actual experience with other human beings or her own history.

    Or, alternatively, like a sociopath, whose cognitive faculties are tip-top but whose emotional faculties are not so much broken as inaccessible to her entirely. At least when something is broken you can feel it and take steps to mend it. Not in this case.

    The aged and the sick have “an advantage” over the young and the healthy.
    The response of people to torture is pretty much the same as the response to people faced with prison.

    What’s NOT sociopathic about all this? Seriously.

  12. J— said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:31

    Because okay, maybe the anti-McArdle appeal is wearing off, like with the LOLcons explosion last week, but it’s just so easy and time-saving to look to her for material[.]

    It is so tempting. The latest:

    I worked from home for a little bit this morning, and from force of habit was watching BBC World News this morning. Bizarrely, there was a commercial for some product that focused around being a husband waiting for your wife to give birth. Well, that isn’t really bizarre. But it was odd, because the commercial was so obviously made in Canada, for a Canadian audience. I knew our commercials went up there, but I hadn’t realised there had been a reverse invasion.

    Because the “world” in BBC World News means the United States, of course. Pay no attention to what BBC World says about itself:

    BBC World is the BBC’s commercially funded, international 24-hour news and information channel, broadcast in English in more than 200 countries and territories across the globe. Its estimated weekly audience reach of 76 million makes it the BBC’s biggest television service. Available in more than 274 million homes, 1.4 million hotel rooms, on 50 cruise ships, 38 airlines and 32 mobile phone platforms, BBC World broadcasts a diverse mix of authoritative international news, sport, weather, business, current affairs and documentary programming.

    We know what they really mean.

  13. sophie brown said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:41

    boy, the latest is even worse

    once she realized the canadian commerncial wasn’t bizarre, and instead was merely odd, shouldn’t she have packed it in?

  14. Gus said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:42

    I can no longer spare the outrage for her. I’ll either just figure she’s a fool or she’s just trying to get a reaction. Either way, she’s not worth my time. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to read snark aimed at her…

  15. mdhatter said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:45

    Zing?

    I think that’s code for ‘try the veal’

  16. Legalize said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:46

    Winger argumentative tactic #7:

    The fact that I haven’t a clue as to what experts and people with actual experience carrying out X activity have to say, and have extensively reported about X, doesn’t disqualify me from making “assumptions” and “imagining” my own reality, and in fact such ignorance actually makes my argument more “serious” and worthy of great intellectual consideration!!

  17. Captain Annoying said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:48

    McArdle: The whole concept behind insurance is immoral.

    Maude Flanders: “Neddy doesn’t believe in insurance. He considers it a form of gambling.”

  18. J. said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:51

    A couple of things:

    - If she’s talking about the commercial I think she is (the one about the travails of a husband waiting for his wife to give birth that is, I think, for mobile service), I am pretty sure it’s an American commercial. Just FYI.

    - She’s a twit.

    - Thanks, though, for highlighting her, because I’ve found her comments threads to be pretty interesting and informative. She’s got some good people kicking the crap out of her posts and ideas there. Interestingly, she never deigns to enter the fray…

  19. Jake H. said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:55

    I’m picturing a porn director on the set of a Vivid Video production.

    “No, dammit! That’s not right at all! You don’t even have the whole thing in your mouth! It needs to be sexier, wilder…dammit, it needs to be Vivider!”

  20. The Visigoth said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:56

    Is it just me, or is Ned Flanders no longer funny anymore? All these guys are now so exactly like him it’s scary.

    What’s that business about insurance being “immoral?” Why, does McArdle consider it to be a form of gambling?

  21. His Grace said,

    August 22, 2007 at 22:57

    But it was odd, because the commercial was so obviously made in Canada, for a Canadian audience. I knew our commercials went up there, but I hadn’t realised there had been a reverse invasion.

    Uhh. Why do I think of this when I picture her now?

  22. mikey said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:06

    The fact that I haven’t a clue as to what experts and people with actual experience carrying out X activity have to say, and have extensively reported about X, doesn’t disqualify me from making “assumptions” and “imagining” my own reality, and in fact such ignorance actually makes my argument more “serious” and worthy of great intellectual consideration!!

    You mean, like evolution?

    Or global warming?

    Or counter terror ops?

    mikey

  23. Clem said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:08

    Vivider was one of the rarest and most sought-after Decepticon toys. Available only through a 1984 Hasbro proof-of-purchase promotion, the Vivider mecha transformed from elfin robot to robotic elf. An embedded red LED blinked randomly and the toy was designed as a clip-on accessory for Megatron’s gun.

  24. zsa said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:08

    Maybe we can check with the ex-KGB or Stasi guys and ask them if torture works. Or we could check the historical record to see if it worked well for Stalin and Hitler, and other brutal tyrants.

    Shit, if we’re going to commit evil deeds to prevent possible future terror attacks, let’s just nuke the whole rest of the planet.

    To see the corruption that grows and festers within a nation that tolerates torture, we need look no further than ol’ Meg’s blog.

  25. Nylund said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:12

    All her posts use the same logic.

    First, dismiss away the usefulness of any facts in the first or second sentence.

    Second, state personal opinion with a dash of flawed philosophical logic.

    Third, claim flawed logic proves personal opinion is more meaningful than the undiscussed facts.

    Example:

    “people say cheesy fries are bad for you, but I like cheesy fries, and it seems to me that no one would like something bad for their body, for that would be illogical, therefore cheesy fries must be good for you.”

  26. TRM said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:17

    Regarding her inadvertent critique of the insurance industry, I sent Sullivan (who linked to that trite) the following email. We’ll see if he publishes it

    Megan says,

    “A gigantic single-payer system is a pretty blunt instrument; it transfers money from one group, the young and healthy, to another group, the old and sick.”

    This is, in a very generalized sense true. Of course private insurance does EXACTLY the same thing. It’s called risk-pooling and we humans have been engaging in such behavior since the very beginning of society. A single-payer system merely ensures that everyone participates in the pool and has the potential to utilize it’s benefits if needed. As opposed to our system now where size-able portions of our population are excluded by economic circumstances largely beyond their control.

    I’m quite certain as to which system is more inherently moral.

  27. Random Observer said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:24

    Jeez I almost feel bad for her. It’s like watching an execution in slow-mo.

    “It seems to me”. “I assume.” What a joke.

    Glenn has a peice up today about how pundits make claims without any factual basis. (In this case about Congressional investigations) These people seem unaware of the existence of polls, Google (or god forbid Lexis even), dictionaries, books or facts in general. It’s like some shared mental disorder.

  28. stryx said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:25

    I hate to dwell on this, but I need to know- is it modified as mo’ vivider or hella vivider?

  29. RodeoBob said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:28

    Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information,

    What a great logical construction!

    Cold fusion seems very likely to work, provided you don’t need to reproduce the results.

    Bombing Iran seems very likey to work, provided the entire Iranian army has left the country for an extended sabattical.

    Cutting taxes and reducing infrastructure maintanence seems very likely to work, provided no one ever needs to drive anywhere or have water piped into their homes.

    In discussing the morality, one thing matters: who is made better off, and who worse off, by the system?

    Yes, that indeed is the only thing that matters. The costs of the system, who bears those costs, the distribution of benefits within the system and costs without, these things are not moralistic concerns.
    Truely, the measure of morality is the ends created, not those namby-pamby means employed!

    A gigantic single-payer system is a pretty blunt instrument; it transfers money from one group, the young and healthy, to another group, the old and sick.

    Ladies & gentlemen, I give you not just a strawman, but a straw GIANT!

    That’s right ladies and gentlemen, there are only the young & healthy and the old & sick. The pediatric wing is subsidized by the lollypop industry (why do you think they hand ‘em out after you get a shot?) and babies are born spontaneously without the need for medical intervention. There are no such things as chronic illnesses prior to age 65, and the only kind of diabetes is Type II adult onset diabetes! Indeed, the entire field of mental health is merely an ironic figment of our collective consciousness! I’m sure each and every young person under the age of 25 reading this knows that the cost of an ambulence ride to the ER after an automobile accident is higher than that of a chauferred limosine ride with two private nurses as companions, but that’s not the way it is in McArdleville!

  30. mdhatter said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:30

    mo’ vivider, or hella vivid, I would think.

    And, in terms of spawning discussion, she’s apparently doing well, but in a car wreck sort of way.

  31. mikey said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:30

    “A gigantic single-payer system is a pretty blunt instrument; it transfers money from one group, the young and healthy, to another group, the old and sick.”

    But wouldn’t the “old and sick” have been paying into the system much longer than the “young and healthy”, and therefore be collecting benefits out of money they had contributed?

    And wouldn’t the “young and sick” actually be the ones taking the greatest advantage of the system? Collecting large benefits while having made minimal contribution?

    mikey

  32. Steve Kelso said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:32

    I’d like to know more about her life, and the hardships she has experienced, like the time her platinum card was refused at the Four Seasons.

  33. Cangrejero said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:34

    mad vivider, yo.

  34. darrelplant said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:36

    Insurance is immoral but torture is A-OK.

  35. Gus said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:37

    The best thing about her is that I no longer regret that I didn’t work harder to try to get into an Ivy League school. All that time spent drinking beer in high school wasn’t wasted!

  36. Jim said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:38

    “One of the most facile dismissals of torture is that it doesn’t work, so why bother? That’s tempting, but it’s too easy. ”

    That’s true, relatively speaking. It is easier to dismiss torture as ineffective than it is, say, to force someone to call you their “uncle” by bending their arm behind their back. That is difficult, stressful work; but the results are accurate, or at least verifiable.

  37. Jay B. said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:46

    Is Europe taking applications?

    By the way, can I tell you how much I LOVE libertarians?

    Taxes = an unholy evil a corrupt, inefficient state imposes on citizens.

    Torture = who’s to say that, if done right, the state couldn’t perfect it?

  38. stryx said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:48

    Maybe the lies will be vivider or more voluble under torture, but it doesn’t seem necessarily so that the ratio of lies to truth will increase.

    well, maybe, maybe not:

    I was once physically coerced to provide my enemies with the names of the members of my flight squadron, information that had little if any value to my enemies as actionable intelligence. But I did not refuse, or repeat my insistence that I was required under the Geneva Conventions to provide my captors only with my name, rank and serial number. Instead, I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse.

  39. the_millionaire_lebowski said,

    August 22, 2007 at 23:57

    Swank, you say?

  40. anangryoldbroad said,

    August 23, 2007 at 0:08

    She really thinks nothing even remotely bad will ever happen to her doesn’t she? She’ll never get older,never get sick,never suffer a financial setback or get left in the lurch of a nasty divorce,be in an accident,or otherwise have anything happen to rattle her nicely appointed habitrail. There’s so much wrong with how she views the world it’s really hard to even unwrap all the layers.

    Yep,I’m thinking that I didn’t miss as much as I thought because I couldn’t afford college.

  41. Woodrowfan said,

    August 23, 2007 at 0:33

    Wasn’t she a Monty Python skit???

  42. Galactic Dustbin said,

    August 23, 2007 at 0:36

    I dont care if the lies get VIVIDER! I say torture is a perfectly CROMULENT way to get intel! If we dont tourure Al Quada will just keep geting more and more EMBIGGEND!

  43. Dan Someone said,

    August 23, 2007 at 0:46

    Who is the editor these days at the Atlantic? Shouldn’t somebody actually be reading these little trickles (I can’t call them streams) of consciousness (co-called) that dribble off of her keyboard? I mean, before they get published in such a way as to make The Atlantic Monthly a laughingstock among the cerebral cortex-using members of our species?

    Christ, why don’t Fallows and some of the other real writers they have step up and demand some accountability? She’s going to make them all look like monkeys!

  44. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said,

    August 23, 2007 at 1:01

    Speaking of Al Qaeda, Galactic Dustbin, ‘Captain’ Ed thinks he’s found a pony!

  45. Random Observer said,

    August 23, 2007 at 1:03

    Making up things at random seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information.

    Look it still makes sense! (Or, as much as it did before)

  46. Larry said,

    August 23, 2007 at 1:14

    “Example:
    “people say cheesy fries are bad for you, but I like cheesy fries, and it seems to me that no one would like something bad for their body, for that would be illogical, therefore cheesy fries must be good for you.” …”

    A perfect example of begging the question (when that expression is used correctly), or, as it is less colorfully known, a circular argument.

    “Insurance is immoral but torture is A-OK.”

    Heh — thank you for ridding me of that unpleasant LOLcon aftertaste.

  47. Snorghagen said,

    August 23, 2007 at 1:33

    anangryoldbroad wrote:
    She really thinks nothing even remotely bad will ever happen to her doesn’t she? She’ll never get older,never get sick,never suffer a financial setback or get left in the lurch of a nasty divorce,be in an accident,or otherwise have anything happen to rattle her nicely appointed habitrail.

    Of course not… she’s much too clever for any of those things to happen to her.

  48. jgmurphyj said,

    August 23, 2007 at 1:47

    In the interests of scientific accuracy, I am perfectly willing to waterboard McArdle until she screams “I am a fatuous ass! PLEASE shove an electrical light fixture up my rectum for the sake of the Republic!” over and over and OVER….

    What can I say? I am nothing if not a patriot.

  49. ahem said,

    August 23, 2007 at 1:48

    Who is the editor these days at the Atlantic? Shouldn’t somebody actually be reading these little trickles (I can’t call them streams) of consciousness (co-called) that dribble off of her keyboard?

    In the tech journalism world, John Dvorak’s anti-Mac and anti-Linux screeds are publishing gold, because they get a bunch of inbound links and ramp up the ad eyeballs.

    In short, she’s a bona fide paid troll, and the editors hired her to be one. That she has a coterie of fanboy commenters doesn’t harm the clickthrough rate either.

    In other news, Arthur Silber, who actually fits the description of a libertarian who got sick, once more needs donations to pay the rent.

    But honest to God. I mean, honest to God: “Moreover, as a class, the old and sick have some culpability in their ill health.” At least the nausea helps to keep my appetite down…in fact, I may not eat now until next week. Some money saved right there. And after all, the nausea is obviously my fault.

  50. Jillian said,

    August 23, 2007 at 2:03

    If anyone doubts torture is a good way to get false confessions, just take a look at European trials for witchcraft from the fifteenth century.

    Of course, I suppose it’s entirely possible that this adorable little urchin thinks that ill-tempered women of 1432 really were using infernal powers to steal men’s penes, considering the sketchy acquaintance with reality she’s displayed so far.

  51. Galactic Dustbin said,

    August 23, 2007 at 2:05

    ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©:

    I tried to read the artical but that stupid Day By Day strip kept haunting me- what does it mean? Is the army really filled with attactive women that have spinal problems? Or does he trace the women;’s poses from european porn sites? Was this a ‘joke’ stip? An ‘irony’ strip? Or is it the ‘setup’ strip?

    It hurts SO much!

  52. Lawnguylander said,

    August 23, 2007 at 2:36

    Wasn’t she a Monty Python skit???

    I’m not sure which skit you have in mind but her piece about how the Old Masters worked in sweatshops made me think of this one:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=M9x98Imr6ao

  53. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said,

    August 23, 2007 at 2:38

    Day by Day is just as stupid as Mallard Fillmore, but even more pointless.

    P.S. AOL has a poll.

    Do you think Bush’s point on Iraq and Vietnam is right?

    No 56%
    Yes 44%

    How much confidence do you have that the U.S. mission in Iraq will succeed?

    None 58%
    A lot 23%
    A little 19%

    Funny that most of the people with ‘a little’ hope apparently also think Bush is right

  54. White, God-Fearing, Suburban said,

    August 23, 2007 at 2:48

    Setting: small room with bare grey walls. desk covered with paperwork. bespactacled man in a grey suit holds his head in despair. he looks depressed and miserable, his hair is in diasarray.

    Voice-over (deep and concerned): “Are you tired of the same-old, bland confessions from your detainees? Do you feel like your life is boring? Is your job lacking excitement?”

    Second Man appears in the foreground. Well-dressed. Exhudes positive energy. Second Man: “If you feel this way, why not try Torturex(tm), now (accented) _twenty-percent_ more vividier (caption on screen: as determined in a side-by-side comparison with Imprisonex ™). This new enhanced interogation technique has been shown by experts (screenshot from The Atlantic page zooms in) to keep your lie ratios constant, while greatly improving the vividibility and volubility factor.” First Man in the background lifts his head and smiles. Second man continues: “Using reliable, time-tested technology, steeped in the finest tradition of twentieth century German engineering, Torturex(tm) ensures that the quality of the results will not be obvious to be likely lower. (authoritatively): all the experts agree: Torturex(tm) seems very likely to work. (The qoute ‘Torture seems to me very likely to work’ Megan McArdle zooms in)

    Lindsey England appears in uniform; ripe wheat field in the background: “since we switched to Torturex(tm) we have heard the vividest things one can imagine. The guys are having heaps of fun, we laugh, joke, take pictures… good times all around…Torturex(tm) provided us with a much needed morale boost. Thank you, Torturex(tm)”

    Uplifting music. Psychadelic imagery. Voice-over, fast, matter-of-factly, soft: “All results obtained by Torturex(tm) must be verified independently. Side-effects may include nightmares, clinical depression, loss of apetite. If you are required to operate under existing international laws, Torturex(tm) may not be suitable for you.

  55. sarah said,

    August 23, 2007 at 3:09

    “I knew our commercials went up there, but I hadn’t realised there had been a reverse invasion.”

    how else could we possibly explain her canadian spelling?

  56. Big Kahuna Burger said,

    August 23, 2007 at 3:43

    “that Bill Gates gave billions to charity is not a vindication of communism

    Love, LOVE the italics there. Both vapid and condescending, like the Bush head-bob when he’s incorrectly explaining earmarks.

    It never even crosses her mind that Bill Gates’s charitable donations VIOLATE MARXIST/COMMUNIST THOUGHT AS A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE SUBSTITUTE FOR REVOLUTION. I swear to God Reagan era children have been intellectually FUBAR when it comes to Marx.

  57. Simba B. said,

    August 23, 2007 at 3:48

    I think this post wins the prize for boringest title ever. Also, it seems to be roughly one squintillion words long. But stay with me. This is important.

    Gee, she doesn’t come off as a vapid pseudointellectual Ivy League ditz, does she?

  58. Doc Washboard said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:24

    Maybe the lies will be vivider or more voluble under torture, but it doesn’t seem necessarily so that the ratio of lies to truth will increase.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this simply argue for replacing torture with prison? Same results without the troublesome troublesome ethical considerations or the malign karmic rebound.

    Wait: isn’t she the one arguing about morality?

  59. mdhatter said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:25

    Simba, that’s how they make libertarians. Teach people with a limited capacity for analysis a bunch of big words.

    She’s an 8-bit processor in a 64-bit world.

  60. mikey said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:35

    My first thought was, wow, they’ve got the technology down.

    The chair had integrated manacles that locked down on my forearms with a mechanical click. I felt the restraints lock my ankles and retract into the chair, leaving me unable to move. The room was dark, utterly black, and warm. Sweat dripped down my forehead, stinging my eyes.

    Some amount of time passed.

    At some point two brilliant white spots focused on my eyes. A harsh, accented voice came from the darkness.

    “Who sent you?”

    I sat, immobile. There wasn’t anything to say.

    The voice, again. “I ask you once more. Who sent you?”

    I raised my gaze to face what I thought would be my interrogator.

    “My mom”, I said.

    BANG !!

    The electric shock hit me. Stopped my heart. My teeth slammed together and shattered. Slowly, I became aware again.

    The electronic voice had no humanity. “I ask you again. Who sent you?”

    I spat blood. Knew I was done. Nothing left to fight for, nothing left to protect. It was more than over. I was over.

    “McCardle”, I muttered.

    “I’m sorry”, my interrogator – no, my torturer said. “I didn’t get that”.

    “Megan McCardle” I said, louder and with purpose. “She’s company. She’s my case officer. She put me here”.

    “Thank you”, my interrogator said fastidiously. “Take him to his cell and clean him up”.

    As they were taking me to my cell, I could hear him on the telephone, ordering a hit squad to mobilize. Nope, nothing bad or unintended could ever come from an interrogation based on torture, right? I hoped Megan had her out bag packed….

    mikey

  61. the_millionaire_lebowski said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:36

    In the tech journalism world, John Dvorak’s anti-Mac and anti-Linux screeds are publishing gold, because they get a bunch of inbound links and ramp up the ad eyeballs.

    Pretty much sums up McArdle. Can we move onto the real crazies now?

  62. Herr Doktor Bimler said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:38

    Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information,
    I reckon she’s flirting with you, Gavin. No way could she be stupid enough to argue this seriously. A shorter version of her blog post would be “Fie, sir! I snap my fingers [click] for your high-minded humanism! My insurance views caused you distress? Then cop this!” [sound effect of snook being cocked]

    She’ll be throwing snowballs at you next.

  63. mikey said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:46

    ‘Kay, I need information.

    How do you cock a snook?

    Can you tell if a snook is cocked by looking at it?

    Is there a technique for defensively wedging your finger into the cocking mechanism to prevent the snook from being discharged?

    CAN a snook be discharged?

    mikey

  64. Herr Doktor Bimler said,

    August 23, 2007 at 4:51

    All good questions, but it’s Terry Pratchett’s joke, so you’ll have to ask him.

  65. mikey said,

    August 23, 2007 at 5:00

    Sorry, Roger. You tiger now….

    mikey

  66. Lesley said,

    August 23, 2007 at 5:00

    People who support torture should have to experience it first hand (walk a plank in their shoes, as it were.)

  67. RepubAnon said,

    August 23, 2007 at 5:19

    Torture seems to me very likely to work provided that you can verify the information

    So, if you can verify the information – that means you already knew it and therefore didn’t need to torture anyone.

    If you CAN’T verify the info, how do you know they’re not lying?

    If I were an evil overlord, I’d tell all my henchmen to pick out a neighbor they didn’t like and tell them that if captured, they should ID the annoying neighbor as their boss. That way, if the annoying neighbor’s house gets raided, I know who they’ve got. Everyone will tell the same story, so it’ll be “verified.”

  68. cokane said,

    August 23, 2007 at 6:04

    It never ceases to amaze me how self-styled libertarians have no problem giving governments the right to torture and war indefinitely.

    It’s like, we can’t trust government to hand out welfare or health care, but they can sure blow stuff up really well.

    It shouldn’t be surprising though, in the conservative libertarian’s calculus, Muslims and other non-Americans don’t count as people who have rights.

  69. Anne Laurie said,

    August 23, 2007 at 6:12

    Shorter McArdle: “Other people are not real to me; therefore, whatever looks coolest on 24 is A-OK!”

    It’s official, she’s a sociopath.

    But, hey, the Atlantic is paying her a boatload of dollars to be a sociopath in public and run up the adclicks! Ergo, while still a sociopath, she’s true to her Objectivist views!

    Thanks a bunch, Ayn Rand, for embiggening the pool of “legitimate” political discourse in modern America!

  70. islmfaoscist said,

    August 23, 2007 at 6:23

    “The whole concept behind insurance is immoral.”

    Surprisingly to me, Jane Galt’s take on our completely fucked, private insurance-based health care system strikes me as decidedly non-wingnut. Dare I say it, reasonably progressive and even anti-libertarian.

    Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but I don’t want poor Americans to suffer without basic treatment. It’s all very well to say that this is the operation of the free market, but I triple dog dare you to go tell some old woman who is crippled by a disease she can’t afford to treat that you think she needs to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team.

    Here is my suggestion. It is simple and elegant enough to be explained in a single sentence, yet powerful enough to meet all the criteria above:

    Have the government pay for all health care expenditures above 15% of adjusted gross income, and cover 100% of health care expenditures by people living under 200% of the poverty line.

    Go figger.

  71. g said,

    August 23, 2007 at 6:42

    So here’s the thing.

    What do interrogators ask when they torture someone?

    Do you think they ask “Tell us the combination of the locker in the Port Authority where you planted the bomb that’s going to go off in 20 minutes?”

    And if the guy says “I won’t tell you”, you commence to pull out his fingernails until he does?

    Or is it more likely – “What kinds of cars parked in front of your neighbor’s house in June? Did your neighbor have visitors in April? What did they look like? How many articles of clothing did Mr. X accept back from the dry cleaners on that Monday when you were behind him in the line? Who do you think had appointments with your professor before your appointment? What account did you credit that deposit to? What were the people at the table saying when you brought their order of iced tea?”

  72. noen said,

    August 23, 2007 at 6:56

    As someone in the Atlantic’s comment section said, the purpose of torture isn’t to verify information, it’s to get a confession. That is all that our government needed because the confession justified everything. Rummy’s bone stupid war plans to Cheney’s delusions and all the rest of them. It was all a miserable failure and if they could just get those signed confessions the questions would go away.

  73. g said,

    August 23, 2007 at 7:04

    the purpose of torture isn’t to verify information, it’s to get a confession.

    I think in many cases it’s to betray your collaborators. Sometimes even when you don’t know you are a collaborator.

  74. Righteous Bubba said,

    August 23, 2007 at 7:31

    She’s not actually pro-torture, she just thinks that people shouldn’t have access to arguments she won’t investigate.

  75. Incontinentia Buttocks said,

    August 23, 2007 at 7:48

    Tune in tomorrow for the next episode….

    “Many say that genocide is always wrong. But it seems to me it can serve some legitimate state interests. So dismissing it out of hand is too easy…”

  76. Matt said,

    August 23, 2007 at 7:55

    I’m not even sure what you’re mocking here. She’s just pointing out that the argument in question relies on torture not being effective, which is a condition subject to change. The moral argument against torture is therefore a bit stronger, because it’s more detached from those fluctuating utilitarian concerns. She makes the moral argument herself, and comes out quite clearly against torture, so I don’t see the problem (except that she took a few too many words to get to the point, and apparently lost half of you on the way there).

  77. noen said,

    August 23, 2007 at 8:15

    “she took a few too many words to get to the point, and apparently lost half of you on the way there”

    It was the screaming and all the blood that distracted me.

  78. Righteous Bubba said,

    August 23, 2007 at 8:20

    I’m not even sure what you’re mocking here.

    Someone shooting her mouth off?

  79. RandomObserver said,

    August 23, 2007 at 9:27

    The vast majority of people who argue against torture argue BOTH that it doesn’t work and is wrong. We in the business call this a “pincer attack.”

    She wrote two paragraphs and one of them was incredibly stupid. The entire thing was just an excuse to cluck cluck at a straw man. Silly libruls, why don’t you argue against torture the right way!?!?

  80. goat or panic said,

    August 23, 2007 at 11:30

    Does torture work?

    Republican logic at work here…

    How exactly DO you torture someone who’s on a suicide mission?
    If they’ve come to terms with flying an airplane at 400 mph into a skyscraper, I doubt waterboarding or “the comfy chair” are going to have much of an effect.

    Besides, even if you did get info out of them, type it single-spaced in a report, title it, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” and hand it personally to George Bush, he’s still just going to go on vacation anyway.

  81. ssa said,

    August 23, 2007 at 13:08

    Torture – both the subject of McArdle’s piece, and the adjective that describes it…

  82. Derek said,

    August 23, 2007 at 15:00

    Guys, please don’t miss the chance to mock this:
    http://hotair.com/archives/2007/08/22/the-obligatory-pat-schroeder-condescends-exquisitely-to-conservatives-post/

    Shorter “Allahpundit”
    I am outraged and insulted by this so called ‘study’ that has ‘determined’ that conservatives don’t read books. So, honestly, how many have you guys read lately, Hot Air fans? I’ll be honest – I’ve hardly read any.

  83. ice weasel said,

    August 23, 2007 at 15:06

    Let’s look at this from another, dare I say more libertarian perspective.

    The biggest problem with mccardle’s writing, as I’ve seen is that it’s tedious. It’s boring. She doesn’t really add anything to the general discourse.

    When I read here, I read funny shit I would not have thought up myself. Sometimes I get some news I had not heard otherwise. That’s cool.

    When I read at Ezra Klein’s place I often get news and insight on issues I’m not as conversant on as he is. I enjoy that.

    When I read mccardle all I get is the navl gazing and opinionatering of someone maybe not quite as bright as I am talking about fairly mundane shit. In other words, I’m not entertained, I’m not more informed. Basically, I’ve just wasted a few minutes reading the inane maunderings of some random randite.

    If anything, I think that is one of the worst indictments of the atlantic’s decision.

  84. Steve Kelso said,

    August 23, 2007 at 16:01

    Today, Atlantic’s new Associate Editor, Megan McArdle appeared on CSPAN. Here is what she had to say about Katrina:

    “I’d like to ask you if you could briefly describe your thoughts in the governments role in the Katrina effort?”

    McArdle:
    Um, well, I think it’s obviously not gone well, but I also, to some extent, there’s two separate questions: how did FEMA do? F. The tendency was just to blame the Bush administration, which I don’t think is right. The way FEMA was set up, the problems were certainly enhanced by bureaucratic incompetence, but also the constraints on the way that FEMA acts, um, and the rules that were set up for other emergencies, just tended to make things worse, they bought all these trailers, for example, because

    CSPAN: (interrupting)
    But where does FEMA exist in a libertarian state?

    McArdle:
    Um, it doesn’t'! however, I think it should be noted there was an enormous outpouring of private charity, and the private charity was vastly more effective, while FEMA was struggling to get water into New Orleans, WALMART sent trucks and trucks of the stuff down, whereas FEMA, because of all these bureaucratic constraints, couldn’t get going. Um, um, in a libertarian world, without FEMA, you would have seen, the problem is, everything would be so different, you wouldn’t have had the Army Corps of Engineers building all the levys that then broke, New Orleans would have looked like a different city, so, at that point, you’re going so far back to first principles, given that FEMA existed, which I think I have to take, I think there was bureaucratic incompetence, but there were also structural problems with the way that the government hems in the discretion of emergency management bureaucracies and makes all these incredibly tight rules about what they’re supposed to do, if you have an emergency, I think you want as few rules as possible because god knows what the emergency is going to be.

  85. Lame Man said,

    August 23, 2007 at 16:14

    Serendipity, via memeorandum.

  86. Gus said,

    August 23, 2007 at 17:57

    To be fair, she is saying that the moral argument against torture is the one to make, not the utilitarian argument. On this I tend to agree with her. Oh my god, did I just say that?

  87. Snorghagen said,

    August 23, 2007 at 18:37

    Um, um, in a libertarian world, without FEMA, you would have seen, the problem is, everything would be so different, you wouldn’t have had the Army Corps of Engineers building all the levys that then broke…

    Is McArdle saying that we should have kept the levees from breaking by not building the levees in the first place?

    I’m having trouble understanding the rest of that sentence, so maybe there was a point buried in there that I didn’t see.

  88. yank in london said,

    August 23, 2007 at 18:42

    I know whether torture works but I’m not telling. Even if they torture me. Especially if they torture me!

  89. Seanly said,

    August 23, 2007 at 19:02

    Every word this moron ploops forth is another reason why I hate libertarians.

  90. Phil T. McHippy said,

    August 23, 2007 at 19:27

    What’s great to me, for some reason, is the line “likely to work provided that you can verify the information, which *I assume* interrogators can …”. One can only assume that she did not write this sentence while in any discomfort at all, including the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

  91. Dorothy said,

    August 23, 2007 at 19:48

    You know, the nice thing about the utilitarian objection to torture is that is isn’t based on the other party agreeing with your morality. A moral argument pre-supposes a common moral code, which is not an assumption one can always rely on.

    For instance, if you run across a sociopath, your odds of convincing them that torture is morally wrong are slim to none. However, you can still argue fairly effectively that torture will not get the desired results, and spare the poor victim a bit of “discomfort”.

    And here’s the other issue: the utilitarian argument eliminates the need for the moral argument. If it doesn’t work, torture is a bad call whether it’s “moral” or not. If you presuppose that torture does work, then the moral argument becomes an issue, and you end up with the stupid bullshit “ticking nuclear bomb” scenarios we hear on Fox news.

    With enough imagination, you can construct a hypothetical situtation where any action, no matter how obhorrent, becomes accepted as the “moral choice” by the majority of society. With enough control over the media, you can even manage to convince the majority of society that your hypothetical situation has come about or is imminent.

    What you cannot do, however, regardless of your wealth, imagination, power, or psychopathology, is change a simple fact: torture does not now–and has never done throughout history–yield accurate, actionable information.

    Also, what you cannot do, apparantly, is convince an immature, self-important, ridiculously-entitled, faux-libertarian “pundit” that she can’t change reality no matter how right or wrong something “seems to her”, and that if she doesn’t know the actual facts that are readily available, then she should just shut up.

    Seriously. If your column can’t pass middle-school “five-paragraph essay” muster, you need to step away from the keyboard before you embarrass yourself further..

  92. Lawnguylander said,

    August 23, 2007 at 19:48

    Check out the name of the company that was hired to handle the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building at the WTC site (two NYC firefighters died there last week in case you don’t know). The John Galt Corporation. They must have figured that market forces would sweep in and put out any fires so no need to connect the standpipes.

  93. islmfaoscist said,

    August 23, 2007 at 22:55

    Indeed, Galt does not seem to have done much of anything since it was incorporated in 1983.

    Attempts to identify who John Galt is for followup were unsuccessful.

  94. RodeoBob said,

    August 24, 2007 at 0:29

    She’s just pointing out that the argument in question relies on torture not being effective, which is a condition subject to change.

    What?

    Seriously, what?

    The efficacy of torture as an information-gathering tool is conditional?

    That’s news to the CIA, the US Army, the NSA, and lots & lots of folks whose actual livelyhood involves the gathering of information by utilizing a variety of tools. That’s news to the psi-ops divisions of our military which have frequently and repeatedly pointed out that unless you immediately kill the folks you torture to prevent news from getting out, the long-term cost of torture is in social capital, which is essential in minimzing casualties and effectively gathering information. (ie enemies are more likely to fight to the death than surrender if they believe you will torture them; once the practice of torture is associated with your side, other conventional forms of information gathering become more difficult while the opposition gains a useful recruiting tool…. etc. etc. etc.)

    From teh original stupids:

    “Nor is it obvious to me that the quality of information is likely to be lower than that obtained by other means: yes, people will say anything to avoid torture, but they’ll also say anything to avoid imprisonment.”

    False dilemma; information can and often is gained through a variety of methods beyond applying some measure of threat to a captured prisoner. The quality of information gained through traditional intelligence-gathering activites, such as creating an informational network within a community, tends to run on the ‘high’ side but also requires establishing trust and rapport with contacts. It’s slow, its unsexy, and when its working right, it produces no visible results other than the information it provides. (in fact, a good network of contacts should actually be protected from visibility; a covert agent working for a front company is really only useful as long as no one knows what they really do. Once that cat is out of the bag, not only is the agent burned, but so is the front company, anyone else who used the front company, and every single contact that agent had)

    Torture, on the other hand, doesn’t take very long at all, it’s terribly exciting if you’re a sadist thug, and once you’re done torturing someone, you can hold them up to try and intimidate the rest of the population. It may not get you any useful information, but by god it gets a visceral response from everyone who hears about it, and if intimidation is your goal, you shout it from the rooftops!

    Sorry, but torture simply isn’t effective [b]ever[/b], except in bad fiction scenarios that involve suspension of disbelief. It isn’t effective as intelligence gathering, it isn’t effective as deterrant or intimidation, and it isn’t effective at preventing or limiting hostilities. The practice of torture during wartime is like throwing gasoline on a fire. While wearing a vest of Roman Candles. And smoking. While applying hair spray.

  95. reza said,

    August 24, 2007 at 5:19

    Dear Friends,
    A group of researchers at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, are investigating effects of Weblogs on “Social Capital”. Therefore, they have designed an online survey. By participating in this survey you will help researches in “Management Information Systems” and “Sociology”. You must be at least 18 years old to participate in this survey. It will take 5 to 12 minutes of your time.
    Your participation is greatly appreciated. You will find the survey at the following link. http://faculty.unlv.edu/rtorkzadeh/survey
    This group has already done another study on Weblogs effects on “Social Interactions” and “Trust”. To obtain a copy of the previous study brief report of findings you can email Reza Vaezi at reza.vaezi@yahoo.com.

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