Such a terror, eh?

After months of calling for torturing terrorism suspects, United States President-elect Donald Trump suggested he now did not support bringing back torture tactics in his latest interview with The New York Times.

Mr. Trump’s reversal on the stance of torture came after his meeting with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis over the weekend, whom, according to Mr. Trump, was being “seriously, seriously considered” to be the next U.S. Defence Chief, Xinhua news agency reported.

“He [General Mattis] said, ‘I’ve never found it [torture] to be useful,” The Times quoted Mr. Trump as saying.

“Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I’ll do better,” Mr. Trump quoted General Mattis as saying.

He was bowled by the reply

“I was very impressed by that answer,” said Mr. Trump, adding that he concluded that torture was “not going to make the kind of a difference that a lot of people are thinking.”

Politician who changes mind after listening to expert.

We’re all doomed, aren’t we?

37 comments on “Such a terror, eh?

  1. I don’t know. I was not much invested in the torture. But not charging the Witch was a blow.

    Trump was a Democrat most of his life. Even if he turns out to be the same as Hillary, it would be worth it to have seen her supporters lose. Still, Trump only has so much of my good will. I assume that is more true of his voters. He shouldn’t be p!ssing that support away.

  2. He only said he’d appoint a special prosecutor and has rowed back on that. He hasn’t said she won’t ever be prosecuted.

    So there’s still hope.

  3. Trump was supposed to be giving hope to pissed off voters who were tired of being lied to by machine politicians.

  4. > Trump was supposed to be giving hope to pissed off voters who were tired of being lied to by machine politicians.

    One of Trump’s most consistent messages during the campaign was that he would put the very best people in charge of things. He was ridiculed for this, on the grounds that it showed he had no actual policies or ideas — and I have some time for that ridicule myself. But you can’t then accuse him of lying to the electorate when he listens to an expert: that’s exactly what he said he’d do.

  5. BiND

    What is the protocol in the US? If the FBI investigates possibly criminal behaviour and builds enough of a case, does it need presidential approval to proceed to a prosecution?

    In other words, can the President short-circuit a criminal investigation by, say, ‘pre-pardoning’ someone? If so, won’t that someone’s reputation be damaged thereby, since she won’t have had her day in court?

    In the UK the CPS is routinely nobbled, or self-nobbled, by politics, but I wonder what happens in America.

  6. Are you sure this story is true Tim? I only ask because it wasn’t on Newsnight last night and I can’t find it in the Guardian. And if any news organs were going to dig down for the true picture of a politician, be open to understand the nuances of their character and views, it would surely be those.

  7. I’m shocked – shocked!

    Who could have forseen that a 70 year old grandfather with five decades of successful business pragmatism behind him and no record of ever doing anything crazy should turn out to be pragmatic and non-crazy in political office? And not some sort of tangerine-faced Hitlerclown like the media informed us?

    But not charging the Witch was a blow.

    It would be foolish for Trump to make histile noises towards the Clintons at this point.

    There’s a bigger picture. He’s not president yet. There’s still time for Electoral College shenanigans, Obana pardons, and lone gunmen to interrupt things.

    Trump will have a huge fight on his hands even to get the federal government and the judiciary to enforce immigration laws currently on the books.

    The smart play is what he’s doing now. Smooth ruffled feathers, proffer unguent for hurt butts, give people the opportunity to play nice with the incoming administration, and create future leverage.

    He won the election. It benefits him nothing to drive the Clintons into a corner and leave them with nothing to lose. They still have powerful associates who could make Trump’s life difficult.

  8. > Politician who changes mind after listening to expert.

    Michael Gove, MP: “People in this country have had enough of experts.”

    95% of experts were against Brexit; probably a similar number were against Trump. So should the experts be listened to or not? How does one choose the right experts, or when to heed their advice?

    Mind you, as a successful businessman Trump seems to have a good instinct for these things; so the world will be just fine.

  9. One of the great skills in life is learning which experts you can trust. We all made good choices, we’re here listening to Timmy. I’d take the Donald’s choice of experts over Hilary’s any day.

  10. So should the experts be listened to or not? How does one choose the right experts, or when to heed their advice?

    The problem we’ve got, and what I think Gove was referring to, isn’t with expertise. It’s with ‘the experts’ specifically and the weird little post-reality intellectual bubble they live in.

    They all come from that metropolitan class of nannystatist smugocrats who assume the right to tax, legislate and ‘nudge’ us proles into becoming more like docile yoghurt-weaving Guardianistas.

    On a vast range of subjects, from immigration to education to energy policy, they’re diametrically opposed to both the sensibilities and fundamental interests of normal people.

    So… nobody who actually knows anything about, say, energy or industry or economics thinks it’s a good idea to carpet Britain with expensive, unreliable windfarms. But the ‘experts’ do.

    Nobody in real life thinks it’s a good idea to replace the English with Somalis, Syrians and Sudanese. But The Economist says it’ll boost GDP by 1% and The Guardian says having our own country is racist so the ‘experts’ do.

    Nobody who owns a map and remembered the Iraq war thought it was a good idea to attack Libya and turn it over to Islamic fanatics. But hey – ‘experts’!

    The ‘experts’ here and in the US are a rootless, cosmopolitan class of soy latte sippers and lotus eaters. Their supposedly liberal consensus is nothing more than a random hodgepodge of stupid ideas and lazy assumptions that are proving increasingly disastrous in real life.

    A class of people who’ve never had to run a business, sell things or make things or provide a service to customers have captured our institutions. Brexit and Trump are, in part, a backlash against the results.

    Adam Smith noted there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. But there’s not an infinite amount. We can’t afford much more of this ‘expert’ advice.

  11. On many things in life there are no “experts”. Anything complicated is likely to defeat efforts at conclusive analysis.

  12. Though some people guess better than others. I was right about the Iraq attack, and a thousand experts were wrong.

  13. 95% of experts were against Brexit

    How many Brexit experts are there? How do you become one? It must have seemed a lonely calling prior to the 2015 election.

    Besides, what Gove said was just what the rest of us have been saying since the Great Crash. And he turned out to be correct. (And no, he was not saying he wouldn’t want a surgeon if he had an operation).

  14. The LHTD, by the way, routinely tells us that the all economists are wrong, nearly all economics faculties are wrong, and so on.

    Which must mean he gets his car serviced by ice-cream salesmen.

  15. > The problem we’ve got, and what I think Gove was referring to, isn’t with expertise. It’s with ‘the experts’ specifically and the weird little post-reality intellectual bubble they live in.

    Well, there’s that, yes. But what Gove was also getting at, I think, was the idea that we mustn’t disagree with experts because they’re experts. The people who had conniptions over Gove’s statement were being ridiculous, because they all actually agree with him: everyone disagrees with experts all the time — and quite right too.

    “How dare you disagree with the experts who agree with me? They’re experts!”
    “Economic experts are in unanimous agreement that corporation tax is not actually paid by corporations.”
    “They’re wrong!”

  16. “He only said he’d appoint a special prosecutor and has rowed back on that. He hasn’t said she won’t ever be prosecuted.”

    “There’s a bigger picture. He’s not president yet. There’s still time for Electoral College shenanigans, Obana pardons, and lone gunmen to interrupt things.”

    First, Trump has to get into the WH. Then he has to remove the roadblocks at the DoJ and the FBI.

    Then the AG, Sessions, appoints a special prosecutor.

    Job done.

  17. I always thought there was a good chance that Trump would leave Hillary be.

    Who knows what the full story is, however it’s pretty clear that a great many people were involved in some way or other.

    Making such behaviour more difficult in the future is one thing, raking up the past may be more trouble and disruption than it’s worth.

  18. > But not charging the Witch was a blow.

    It would be a very large distraction. So he’s saving his ammo for such a time when he needs to distract the media.

    Of course it could backfire terrible. In 1998 Bill Clinton ordered missile fire on al-Quada bases in Afghanistan. The media accused him of trying to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

  19. Trump was always going to start moderating his behavior after the election anway. To commit to prosecuting Shrillary straight away is akin to poking a hornets nest. Nothing good will come of it and he has plenty of more important priorities anyway.
    He is but one man, and one man, even if he is the PotUs can only do so much. Especially if he is to steer the bohemoth that is the USA away from the clown quarter that the left want to drag it to.
    His priorities right now are to stuff all the important offices of state with as many like minded fellow travellers as is humanly possible.
    You can see that this is what the left have done, both here and in America. All the educational institutions, charities, departments of government, news organisations etc. stuffed to the gunwales with dead weight lefties whos most important task, is (for them) expansion and self perpetuation.
    So far, imho, Trump is looking far more promising than I expected.
    His recent bollocking of the media was just awesome, and his trolling the UK government with Farage just pure class.

    Popcorn and Lols!

  20. He doesn’t have to be involved in prosecuting anyone. Congress and can do that- and appoint a special prosecutor if needed.

  21. S2 – what Gove was also getting at, I think, was the idea that we mustn’t disagree with experts because they’re experts. The people who had conniptions over Gove’s statement were being ridiculous, because they all actually agree with him: everyone disagrees with experts all the time — and quite right too.

    Yarp. It also ties into this unfounded sense of intellectual snobbery the metroleftuals have.

    You have bigoted prejudices.
    They have evidence-based policies.

    You listen to crackpot fringe extremists who say nutty stuff like the Earth probably isn’t going to be covered in a sea of bubbling white-hot lava by 2020.
    They soberly heed the scientific advice of respected experts who argue that turning on the central heating enrages Gaia like a banger in a cat’s bumhole.

    You might have thought Brexit was a sensible move in an increasingly complex and agile world economy where 1950’s style political blocs are becoming irrelevant.
    They had experts including Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman to point out that we’re reactionary racists who’ll probably end up eating dig turds and tree bark after we’re inevitably impoverished by this silly “national sovereignty” business.

    You’re not considered an ‘expert’ unless you push the Narrative.

  22. Also add into the mix the routine dishonesty of presenting political activists from NGOs as ‘experts’. Exhibit A is the BBC describing people from Public Health as ‘doctors’ or ‘experts’, even though huge numbers of them turn out to be sociologists.

  23. Its not experts per se that I for one am against, its those that are so certain that they are right and that anyone who disagrees with them is a denier. For example:

    We’ve been told every year since around 1966 (about as far back as I can remember some of the serious stuff) that we would be running out of oil in 30 years.

    In the early ’70s we were told with absolute certainty that we were heading for an ice age.

    In the early 2000s it was all about a new paradigm and this time there was a magic money tree and those who pointed to a hole in the roof were neocons or whatever abusive term was in vogue with the left at the time.

    We were told that if we ate even a scintilla of dairy fat we would drop dead from clogged arteries and had to survive on high carb diets.

    If you vote Brexit it will be dystopia one minute after midnight.

    I won’t go on because I’m preaching to the choir….

    However I’m prepared to listen to any expert who is prepared to say ” the current state of the science is …..” or “well of course there are trade offs, but I recommend because ….”. And then I can make up my own mind rather than rely on some knee jerk reaction from policy makers and politicians that will impoverish my life in some way.

    As for torture, this is another one of those trade-offs and maybe Trump is grown up enough to have listened to a number of people and decided, on balance, he likes this approach?

    If that is the case I wish him well, he may make the wrong choice of trade-off but at least it will be following the right process.

  24. SMFS:

    “But not charging the Witch was a blow.”

    ITSteve is spot on. For Trump to move against ‘Hellary’ now would be crazy. As President-elect, he wants to calm the transition. When he’s president, he can screw her slowly…

    And a general point… Trump manages some 500 businesses…which suggests that he is a very good delagter…

  25. BiND – Yes.

    Another thing that really chafes my ballsack is ultracrepidarianism.

    So, I’m impressed with Richard Dawkins’ science credentials, but when he starts wittering on about sky fairies and pasta deities and torching ridiculous, cassock-clad strawmen, it just makes him look like a dick.

    I’m sure Paul Nurse deserved his Nobel prize, but that doesn’t mean he gets to dictate what our policy should be on toasters and lightbulbs.

    It’s not their opinions I object to, even when I disagree. It’s the arrogant pose of authority in fields which are remote or unrelated from their actual areas of expertise that grate.

  26. InimiSteve: “like a banger in a cat’s bumhole”. That had me howling. I am going to be giggling all day.

    What really gets me is the presumptuousness of the “experts”. It’s not just that they have opinions, it’s that they demand we listen to them. Like that Gilmore fellow. Who’s he think he is? Impertinent twat.

  27. Thomas Fuller,

    “BiND

    What is the protocol in the US? If the FBI investigates possibly criminal behaviour and builds enough of a case, does it need presidential approval to proceed to a prosecution?”

    We had a long discussion recently and the upshot was that we didn’t know. I suspect its one of those areas where a President could set precedent, but I’ll bow to our American commentors on this one.

    Having given it a bit more thought, my view is that he shouldn’t appoint a special prosecutor. Going after your opponent only makes him look like one of those despots in Africa or South America. And it sets a dangerous precedent.

    I don’t think he should pardon her either. Again it will make the USA look like those States where the elite can rip off the public people with impunity. Something that really was a cornerstone of his campaign and back peddling on that would be politically catastrophic, as well as wrong.

    What he should do is make it clear that the Rule of Law is paramount and that he will not interfere with the FBI either way.

  28. The FBI reports to the DoJ, as I understand it. So the AG is a big deal in this. (ooh, cryptic initials!)

  29. The way I’d read this military chappie is that torture, as POLICY, is not a good idea. For a start, you’d have every bleeding heart on the planet howling to the media. And the majority of foreign governments being uncooperative on security matters.
    But that doesn’t mean a bit of waterboarding or whatever might DENIABLY extract the odd bit of information, when required. And no doubt “ a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers” would be performance enhancing to the good general in overlooking any such incident had occurred.
    In other words, very much the status quo.

  30. He’s also backed down on man-made climate change a bit, saying there might be something in it.
    The other stuff like torture and not prosecuting Clinton I can see the logic.
    But, not this.

  31. Thanks for that PF. Stupid me, I just read the BBC article and took it in without looking further. I should have known better.

  32. Bloke in North Dorset – “Having given it a bit more thought, my view is that he shouldn’t appoint a special prosecutor. Going after your opponent only makes him look like one of those despots in Africa or South America. And it sets a dangerous precedent.”

    The precedent has been set. The Democrats have been using frivolous legal charges to sway elections for a whole generation. Obamacare only got passed because they charged a Republican in Alaska – and he lost. They have charged Scooter Libby – got him jail time. They have charged Scott Walker and Rick Perry. They are still trying with Chris Christie.

    If they want to play by those rules, those are the rules they got to play by. Charge the witch.

  33. > I’m impressed with Richard Dawkins’ science credentials, but when he starts wittering on about sky fairies and pasta deities and torching ridiculous, cassock-clad strawmen, it just makes him look like a dick.

    There’s a very telling bit in The Blind Watchmaker. It’s a brilliant book about evolution, explaining lots of things really well, making excellent points, giving great examples… and then he goes off on one about how the music in the modern hit parade is crap. And you wonder whether his editor mentioned to him that maybe this passage made him look like a fucking pillock.

    Michael Marshall Smith:

    Trying to disprove or discredit everything that’s untrue is like cutting down all the forests to show there’s nothing intangible living in there. “Aha,” we’ll think. “But if there was a forest, then there’d still be something lurking in it” …and from these hidden shoots all the trees regrow, until dark, silent woods surround us once more. Richard Dawkins’s dreary disciples can rail all they want against the infuriating persistence of our fascination with the unseen and unprovable: the rest of us want it, and need it — and we’re going to damn well have it, no matter how much we have to tweak the paradigm to keep it alive.

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