UPDATE: Every Republican Presidential candidate just endorsed torture and murder. Full stop.


Yes, this is off topic. No, I don't care tonight.

Yes, the entire Republican debate was a revolting, disgusting, putrid embarrassment from start to finish (with the odd exception of the moderators from FOX News, who actually did a great job).

However, forget about the discussion of Donald Trump's penis size which opened the evening (no, I'm not making that up, and no, it's not a metaphor).

There are only two parts of the travesty which deserves any attention whatsoever. First, this exchange:

BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists' families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they've been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.

So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

TRUMP: They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they're illegal.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They're chopping off heads. They're chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They're drowning people in steel cages. And he -- now we're talking about waterboarding.

This really started with Ted, a question was asked of Ted last -- two debates ago about waterboarding. And Ted was, you know, having a hard time with that question, to be totally honest with you. They then came to me, what do you think of waterboarding? I said it's fine. And if we want to go stronger, I'd go stronger, too, because, frankly...


... that's the way I feel. Can you imagine -- can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we're having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That's my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists' families?


TRUMP: And -- and -- and -- I'm a leader. I'm a leader. I've always been a leader. I've never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they're going to do it. That's what leadership is all about.

BAIER: Even targeting terrorists' families?

TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going -- and I think most of you know where they went -- and, by the way, it wasn't Iraq -- but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening.

They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?


TRUMP: I have no problem with it.

Then, at the very end of the debate, perhaps 90 minutes later, came the final question and responses from all three of Trump's fellow Republican candidates:

BAIER: It has been a long time since our first debate, seven months ago in Cleveland. A lot has transpired since then, obviously, including an RNC pledge that all of you signed agreeing to support the party's nominee and not to launch an independent run. Tonight, in 30 seconds, can you definitively say you will support the Republican nominee, even if that nominee is Donald J. Trump?

Senator Rubio, yes or no?

RUBIO: I'll support the Republican nominee.

BAIER: Mr. Trump? Yes or no?

RUBIO: I'll support Donald if he's the Republican nominee, and let me tell you why. Because the Democrats have two people left in the race. One of them is a socialist. America doesn't want to be a socialist country. If you want to be a socialist country, then move to a socialist country.

The other one is under FBI investigation. And not only is she under FBI investigation, she lied to the families of the victims of Benghazi, and anyone who lies to the families of victims who lost their lives in the service of our country can never be the commander- in-chief of the United States.

BAIER: Senator...

RUBIO: We must defeat Hillary Clinton.

BAIER: Senator Cruz, yes or no, you will support Donald Trump is he's the nominee?

CRUZ: Yes, because I gave my word that I would. And what I have endeavored to do every day in the Senate is do what I said I would do. You know, just on Tuesday, we saw an overwhelming victory in the state of Texas where I won Texas by 17 percent.

And I will say it was a powerful affirmation that the people who know me best, the people who I campaigned, who made promises that if you elect me, I'll lead the fight against Obamacare, I'll lead the fight against amnesty, I'll lead the fight against our debt, and I will fight for the Bill of Rights and your rights every day, that the people of Texas said you have kept your word, and that's what I'll do as president.

BAIER: Governor Kasich, yes or no, would you support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee?

KASICH: Yeah. But -- and I kind of think that, before it's all said and done, I'll be the nominee. But let me also say...But let me also say, remember...

BAIER: But your answer is yes?

KASICH: But I'm the little engine that can. And, yeah, look, when you're in the arena, and we're in the arena. And the people out here watching -- we're in the arena, we're traveling, we're working, we spend time away from our family, when you're in the arena, you enter a special circle. And you want to respect the people that you're in the arena with. So if he ends up as the nominee -- sometimes, he makes it a little bit hard -- but, you know, I will support whoever is the Republican nominee for president.

The likely 2016 Republican nominee for President of the United States of America just openly called for the torture and murder of men, women and children...and having heard him say this very loudly and clearly, all three of his rivals reiterated, less than 2 hours later, that they'll support him if he's the nominee. Even John "not completely batshit insane on some issues" Kasich.

And the audience cheered and applauded.

This is today's Republican Party, America.

There's really nothing more to be said.

UPDATE 3:00pm 3/4/16: In the least-shocking news of the day, Trump has completely reversed his position less than 24 hours later:

Republican front-runner Donald Trump said Friday that he would not order the U.S. military to violate international laws to fight terrorism, a stark reversal from his statements at Thursday's Republican debate.

Trump said in a statement that he understands "that the United States is bound by laws and treaties" and said he would "not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters."

He added, "I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities."

Guess what? Not only doesn't this make a damned bit of difference (the bottom line is that nobody has the slightest fucking clue what Trump would actually do if elected, least of all him), but it actually makes Cruz, Rubio and Kasich look even worse as a result.

Whether or not he was "kidding", or "changed his mind", or whatever, the fact remains that last night, all 4 of the remaining candidates for the Republican nomination publicly and clearly stated that they will support a Commander in Chief of the United States who believes in torturing prisoners and murdering noncombatants. In other words, violating the Geneva convention and committing war crimes.

UPDATE 6:16pm 3/4/16: Welp. So much for that (h/t to "goddamnedfrank" for the tip):

At a rally today in Warren, Michigan, Donald Trump once again said that he would use torture even worse than waterboarding, a stance that contradicts a statement his campaign released earlier today.

"As far as I'm concerned, waterboarding is absolutely fine but we should go much further," he said.