Hour 2: Fill-in Steyn: Americans are “cool with waterboarding”

This hour of the Limbaugh Wire brought to you by the ex post facto speed trap
By Simon Maloy

Mark Steyn got the second hour rolling by saying he understands why Democrats want to go back to September 10, 2001, and why they want to investigate the past eight years - in doing so they can prevent investigations into what's going on right now. The Democratic mindset, said Steyn, is that the letter of the law should be observed in places where the laws don't apply. The protections of the Constitution, according to Steyn's description of how Democrats think, should be extended to foreigners, including those people standing next to Osama bin Laden in a cave in Afghanistan. If you're in the U.S., however, the Constitution is inoperative.

For example, Steyn claimed, look at what's going on with TARP. Citing Larry Kudlow's NRO blog post asking if TARP is a “criminal enterprise,” Steyn claimed TARP and the stimulus are riddled with fraud, but you don't see The New York Times reporting on it (you do, actually) because everyone is caught up with the torture memos from seven years ago. Steyn then proclaimed that Barney Frank and President Obama should be held accountable for the world and economy that they are creating. TARP, he alleged, “is real loan-shark stuff ... this is how it works in Chicago.” Steyn was referring to Treasury's reported plan to convert TARP debt owed by financial institutions into equity shares. According to Steyn: "[Y]ou get into trouble, and one day a guy comes by and he offers to loan you $10,000 to get you out of trouble. And you take the $10,000 and you get out of trouble and you get the money back and you want to pay him back but no, no, no, he doesn't, he wants you still there, he wants you still there dependent on him, still there part of the racket. That's the way it's going with these banks that are trying to get out of the TARP scheme"

After the break Steyn laughed at the fact that even though GM is planning to shut down plants for nine weeks, they're going to still pay workers to honor union contracts. Then he took a call from a woman who loved his comment that the Constitution no longer applies inside the United States, and said that Democrats need to read the Constitution before going forward on these terrorism investigations because it's illegal to change the law and then prosecute past behavior based on the new law. Steyn agreed that this is “unconstitutional,” adding: “You're saying in effect it's like making a law that sets the speed limit at 30 miles an hour. And if you'd been driving at 40 miles an hour two years before the new law was brought in, they would be prosecuting you for speeding. Essentially, this is retrospective punishment for what is the Democrat administration's view of the war rather than the administration that was in power at the time.” Distortions of the Constitution seem to be a popular theme on The Rush Limbaugh Show this week, so let's clear this one up too. Yes -- the Constitution expressly forbids Congress from passing any ex post facto laws. What's being proposed, however, is an investigation as to whether Bush administration officials violated existing law -- specifically, laws against torture.

Coming back from another break, Steyn took a call from a man who theorized that the Democrats are bringing up the torture memos now because they want to talk about George W. Bush incessantly until the next election rolls around in 2010. Steyn went a step further, saying that the plan is not just to link Bush and torture to the Republicans, but also to distract the nation from the disastrous economic policies enacted by Obama. Steyn doubted that this political calculation would work, though, because Americans are “cool with waterboarding.” They understand, said Steyn, the options that are available - we can use harsh interrogation procedures, you “can bomb and kill tens of thousands of people among whom those suspects are lurking or you can just sit back and let your cities get hit.” Steyn added: “You can let the Los Angeles plot succeed and let Los Angeles be hit on a 9-11 scale.” We're glad he brought Los Angeles up, because that allows us to point out that waterboarding -- specifically, the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- had nothing to do with the disruption of the plot against L.A.'s Library Tower, which the Bush administration has said was thwarted one year before he was captured.

Steyn went on to claim that “pain is off the table” in the enhanced interrogation methods, it's just psychological disruption, and you can't call that torture. This would appear to be untrue, however, as the memos describe the tactics of “walling” and the “facial slap,” which, as the names indicate, involve throwing someone into a wall and slapping them in the face.

Then Steyn offered some observations about the “caterpillar” technique that we can't begin to characterize, so we'll just quote them: “Now, try this on any other country in the world. Say, the head torture guy, the head torture guy of the United States government, they're having, like, a U.N. torture conference with all the big-time torturers. And the head torture man of the United States government flies in, and there's the Syrian torture guy, and there's the Iranian torture guy, and there's the North Korean torture guy, and there's the Sudanese torture guy, and they're saying, ” Hey, welcome to the club, great to see you here. So what you been doing lately?" And they say, “Well, we have this guy Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in, and we had to get out the caterpillar.” I mean, the [laughing] -- the Syrian -- and you know the way -- the Syrian guy, the Syrian torturer isn't going to be taking him seriously, is he? The Iranian torture is going to be thinking this guy's a joke"

Rounding out the hour, Steyn took a call from a gentleman who wanted to know why Obama is getting a free pass on deficits, but Reagan and Bush didn't. Steyn said it's not the deficit that matters, it's the policies behind them. Steyn said there's a difference in scale when talking about the Bush and Obama deficits, and he claimed there's a big question as to how Obama's deficits will be resolved.

Highlights from Hour 2

Outrageous comments

STEYN: We are told -- hear more and more about banks who took TARP money and would like to get out of government control and are being denied the possibility of doing it. This is, like, taking -- this is real loan-shark stuff. This is when the guy -- you get in trouble and you -- look, this is how it works in Chicago. You get into trouble, and one day a guy comes by and he offers to loan you $10,000 to get you out of trouble. And you take the $10,000 and you get out of trouble and you get the money back and you want to pay him back but no, no, no, he doesn't, he wants you still there, he wants you still there dependent on him, still there part of the racket. That's the way it's going with these banks that are trying to get out of the TARP scheme, that -- like the head guy at Citibank pitifully explaining, “Oh, well, yes, I took all the government money, nobody told me there would be strings attached.”

[...]

STEYN: Yeah, you're right. It is -- it is unconstitutional. You're saying in effect it's like making a law that sets the speed limit at 30 miles an hour. And if you'd been driving at 40 miles an hour two years before the new law was brought in, they would be prosecuting you for speeding. Essentially, this is retrospective punishment for what is the Democrat administration's view of the war rather than the administration that was in power at the time.

[...]

STEYN: Now, try this on any other country in the world. Say, the head torture guy, the head torture guy of the United States government, they're having, like, a U.N. torture conference with all the big-time torturers. And the head torture man of the United States government flies in, and there's the Syrian torture guy, and there's the Iranian torture guy, and there's the North Korean torture guy, and there's the Sudanese torture guy, and they're saying, “Hey, welcome to the club, great to see you here. So what you been doing lately?” And they say, “Well, we have this guy Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in, and we had to get out the caterpillar.” I mean, the [laughing] -- the Syrian -- and you know the way -- the Syrian guy, the Syrian torturer isn't going to be taking him seriously, is he? The Iranian torture is going to be thinking this guy's a joke [laughing].

America's guest-Truth Rejector

Falsely suggested enhanced interrogation was instrumental in disrupting Los Angeles plot:

STEYN: When you ask Americans about this, as we heard in the first hour, they're cool with waterboarding. They are perfectly happy if you've got some guy -- you pull some guy out of Pakistan or Indonesia and you get him in your custody and you think he's behind some plot -- for example, the plot to have a 9-11 on Los Angeles, the plot to blow up the U.S. airliners flying from Heathrow to the United States. These are active plots that are disrupted by intelligence.

They're disrupted -- the alternative to doing it this way, by the way, is -- there's two alternatives. You can do it this way, where you monitor, you eavesdrop, you listen to the chatter on the Internet, you hear keywords like “Brooklyn Bridge” that don't translate easily into Arabic, and you pull some guy out from some cell in Pakistan and you get the information out of him. The alternative to that -- there are two. You can either bomb and kill tens of thousands of people among whom those suspects are lurking, or you can just sit back and let your cities get hit. You can let that Heathrow plot succeed and all those people die in airliners flying to the United States. You can let the Los Angeles plot succeed and let Los Angeles be hit on a 9-11 scale. You can let the Brooklyn bridge be blown up with the attendant impact on the economy.