Back in the good old days, the conservatives were the folks who favoured individual choice. Not any more. In the current healthcare debate, the top priority of the so-called conservatives is to deny people choice. They want to make sure that Americans do not have the option to buy into a Medicare-type public healthcare plan. These alleged conservatives have come up with a variety of arguments against allowing people the Medicare-type option, but the only one that makes sense is that they work for the insurance industry.
[ ]…But the people who oppose giving the public the opportunity to buy into a Medicare-type plan should not be called conservatives. Honest conservatives would have no objection to giving the public a choice. The people who oppose a Medicare-type plan are doing the bidding of the insurance industry – there is no conservative principle at stake.
I’m not keeping official track of the freedoms that conservatives say they stand for in the health care debate, but I have noticed a few. The freedom to make some of the highest paid executives in the U.S. continue to receive even higher salaries and bonuses as health care costs increase another 9%. Conservatives believe in your freedom to go bankrupt even with one of those fabulous PPO policies where you pay a large deductible along with 20% or more of your bill. Conservatives also believe in the freedom to make Americans feel so guilty about being without health insurance they die rather then seek help.
Young Man with Cap by Modigliani Amedeo. Oil on canvas, 1919.
The Morale Myth
Finally, we want to address the self-serving myth being propagated by Brennan, Hayden, and others to the effect that exposing torture and other abuses would damage morale at the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
You may recall that Hayden, while still CIA director, was already going around town telling folks he had warned you “personally and forcefully” that if you authorize an investigation into controversial activities like waterboarding, “no one in Langley will ever take a risk again.”
Hayden was blowing smoke, as we say in the trade, but also gravely insulting all those who have served, and continue to serve, with honor. You need no help from us in interpreting Hayden’s outrageous threat. But the red herring about damage to agency morale does need to be addressed.
On April 28, former Vice President Walter Mondale exposed the speciousness of that argument during an interview in Minneapolis. Mondale was one of the senators on the Church Committee, which during the mid-Seventies unearthed the unlawful activities of COINTELPRO and other abuses by intelligence agencies.
Speaking from that experience, Mondale noted that concern over the effect on agency morale — a concern that is widely expressed now — was also voiced both before the Church investigation got under way and while it was proceeding.
The concern proved totally unfounded, according to Mondale, as it quickly became apparent that agency personnel called before the Church Committee were thankful for the chance to get the truth out, get a heavy burden off their shoulders, and put the scandal behind them.
[ ]…Finally, we firmly oppose the notion that anyone can arrogate a right to ignore the Nuremberg Tribunal’s rejection of “only-following-orders” as an acceptable defense.
Signed by a cadre of former intelligence and military officers. Much of what we get as argument against investigating torture comes from two sources. Anonymous CIA officials and far Right pundits. Imagine we conducted a ordinary criminal trial for these same groups and could use hearsay evidence and overwrought emotional pleas as our only evidence. Safe bet these same folks would scream for fact based inquires and rational arguments based on the letter of the law. As things stand it has become unpatriotic to have formal inquiries, to gather facts and make judgments based on the facts. Its who can shout the loudest or race to the phone to speak off the record. Those trial by media criteria might be around the same level of the young savages of Lord of the Flies. They’re certainly not related to any American system of law and justice.