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The good news is that Will Saletan didn’t include “Black Stupidity” in his end-of-the-year list of “best Human Nature” stories. The bad news is that Saletan is still around to compile the list.

In happier Slate-related affairs, Dahlia Lithwick’s compilation of the Bush administration’s “dumbest legal arguments of the year” is well worth the time. In answer to the obvious question — “only ten?” — Lithwick points out that such a list is only possible if Abu Gonzales receives an entry entirely to himself.

God, what a crappy year it’s been.

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  • ploeg

    Speaking of lists, add the Giants to the list, 38-35.

  • ploeg

    And somebody hire Dahlia Lithwick away from Slate, please. Thanks

  • Robert Johnston

    My only issue with Dahlia’s list is that #6 and #1 cover the same ground. “Water-boarding may not be torture” and “the United States does not torture” are really too closely related to get separate entries, especially with Abu G. getting the consolidated treatment.
    Otherwise, one of the best top ten lists you’ll find, if also one of the most depressing.

  • Anonymous

    “Dumbest” trivializes what’s going on. These things aren’t stupid mistakes. They’re intentional perversions of the legal system.

  • ploeg

    These things aren’t stupid mistakes. They’re intentional perversions of the legal system.
    I could not find the word “mistake” anywhere within Dahlia’s article, nor could I find anything to suggest that Dahlia thinks they are mistakes. They are dumb in the sense that “The dog ate my homework” is dumb, that is, they are shoddy justifications that cannot possibly be believed even by the people who have a direct interest in believing them. They are worthy only of derisive ridicule (e.g., “fourthbranch”), and the fact that we can ridicule them as dumb gives me hope that we haven’t yet all gone down the rabbit hole. I wish that more people in positions of influence treated them as such, drew the inevitable conclusions, and acted accordingly.

  • strategichamlet

    “They are dumb in the sense that “The dog ate my homework” is dumb.”
    I think they are dumber than that. A dog eating homework is merely implausable, but has doubtless happened somewhere, sometime. To pick a more legally related comparison, they are dumb in the way that the Chewbacca defense is dumb.

  • bloix

    They’re not “dumb” in any sense of the word. Is “work makes free” dumb? How about “ignorance is strength”? Or “Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia”? One of the central tenets of any totalitarian system is that its members have to believe – really believe – the absurd and revolting lies that come down through the apparatus. If they can’t do this, then they are not loyal enough to serve the party. There is nothing dumb about fascism. These people are smart, hard-working, and dedicated, which is why they are so successful.

  • rickhavoc

    I appreciate Lithwick’s writing, but she often wanders down the wrong path by applying her crisp con law skills to build cases against forces that want to subvert the constitution itself, not quibble about how it is interpreted. Abu Gonzalez, for example, was not an error. He was canned only when it became clear he was not going to be able to deliver, not for being a goof.

  • bloix

    Gonzales told a panel of distinguished Senators the most obvious, bold-faced, contemptuous lies imaginable. He committed flagrant perjury on national television. He spat in their faces and they sat there and took it. Is he under indictment? Of course not. Even in his departure he did his job effectively – he further weakened the oversight function of Congress and strengthened the imperial presidency. What is dumb about that?

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