May 19, 2010

It's sad how conservatives have been influenced by FOX's "24" and adopted Jack Bauer's persona all for themselves. The torture scenes seem to have seeped into their consciousnesses and made them believe that this is how all good Americans should handle impossibly dangerous situations. Not everyone is afflicted with this "ticking time bomb" mentality who watches the last season of Bauer's struggle to be the ultimate American hero who is willing to inflict unbelievable pain on anyone in his path in order to meet his demands. Check out the above video. He's out for vengeance this time and no bloody cell phone is going to stop him. It's torture porn.

Unfortunately, we've seen the show have an impact on our West Point grads, which prompted Gen. Finnegan to speak out against 24 creator Joel Surnow's love of torture.

According to The New Yorker, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, visited the show's set last fall "to voice their concern that the show's central political premise--that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country's security--was having a toxic effect.

"In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers," writes Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

"I'd like them to stop," Finnegan said of the show's producers. "They should do a show where torture backfires

Joel Surnow believes he's just being patriotic, but some Iraq war veterans are turning Surnow's creation into a cult of personality and are running for political office using the Jack Bauer brand.

Call them the Jack Bauer Republicans.

Two Iraq veterans who left the military after surviving charges of crimes against detainees are running credible campaigns for Congress. And far from minimizing the incidents, both candidates have put the accusations front and center in their campaigns, attracting rock-star adulation from conservatives nationwide in the process. But critics, including human-rights activists, veterans, and now even defeated primary opponents, warn that their records should disqualify them from office.

Last week, Ilario Pantano won the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 7th District, setting up a challenge to incumbent Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre in November. In 2001, immediately following the 9/11 terror attacks, Pantano, a veteran who had previously fought in the Gulf War, left his career as a successful producer and media consultant in his native Manhattan to rejoin the Marines and was eventually deployed to Iraq. In April 2004, Pantano killed two unarmed Iraqi detainees, twice unloading his gun into their bodies and firing between 50 and 60 shots in total. Afterward, he placed a sign over the corpses featuring the Marines' slogan “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy” as a message to the local on

Life on the battlefield is hell and it produces all sorts of unspeakable horrors, but to try and run a campaign based on torture and violence is pretty insane.

Matt Yglesias writes:

Love of violence and brutality is deeply ingrained in the conservative worldview, which I think is what you can see here.

The Washington Monthly has a great piece on the very strange military-type Republicans running for office:

Pantano's former primary opponent, Will Breazeale, also an Army veteran of both wars in Iraq, said it would be "dangerous" to elect Pantano to Congress. "To shoot two unarmed prisoners 60 times and put a sign over their dead bodies is inexcusable," Breazeale told Sarlin.

And then there's retired Lt. Col. Allen West (R), running in Florida's 22nd.

West was forced to retire from the Army and fined $5,000 after he admitted to apprehending an Iraqi policeman he suspected of planning an ambush, watching as his troops beat him, and then firing a gunshot by the Iraqi's head in order to scare him into divulging information. West said the decision saved lives by preventing an ambush. But no plot was ever discovered and the policeman in question later told The New York Times that he had no knowledge of any attacks.

Such an incident might be a source of shame for some officers. But not for West, who has developed a superstar following among Republicans by portraying himself as a real-life Jack Bauer.

Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge and current law professor at Georgetown University, told Sarlin both of these GOP candidates have no business seeking public office given their "disgraceful" misconduct.

It's just such an odd dynamic in Republican politics right now -- the party goes out of its way to reward, encourage, and promote those who fail spectacularly. Some of these guys seem like they should be running for the hills, not running for powerful offices.

If I was Pantano's campaign manager I would make sure that I better not piss him off, is all I'm saying. Ya know?

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