Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gates stays on

This is exceptionally good news.

Secretary Gates has many good qualities, but one in particular that holds promise for the future is his willingness to hold people accountable. In this he has been almost a singular figure in the Bush administration, which otherwise can only find reason to fire people when they offer honest opinions that are at variance with the official line.

This suggests that Obama, too, will be willing to value candor over toadying and competence over connections.

Gates has done an awful lot of good in his tenure so far. It's a pity that Bush stuck with Rumsfeld so long.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Riots in Iceland!

Something I never thought I'd see:

But maybe not the last place.

The last time we had a depression some very unsavory movements resulted. I don't think human nature has changed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More McCarthy foolishness

McCarthy admits the obvious, but then lapses into excuse-making again at The Corner:

It seems pretty clear that the Bush administration did not help matters here. Nearly seven years ago, the President publicly claimed the Algerians were planning a bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Last month, however, the Justice Department suddenly informed the Court that it was no longer relying on that information. We've seen this sort of thing happen too many times over the last seven years, and the effect can only be to reduce the confidence of the court and the public that the government is in command of the relevant facts and can be trusted to make thoughtful decisions.
All that said, though, Judge Leon concluded that “[t]o rest [combatant detention] on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation.” That is puzzling. There is nothing in the training of a judge that makes him an expert in military matters. In our system of divided government, the question of who is an enemy combatant should be committed to the executive brach — specifically, to the military professionals waging the war. If there is any evidence supporting the military's wartime decision to detain (and, to reiterate, Judge Leon said there was sufficient evidence to hold these men for intelligence purposes), the court should defer to the military judgment.

It takes very little imagination to think of many ways in which evidence sufficient to detain someone for intelligence gathering purposes would be completely inadequate to justify indefinite detention. In a civilian context similar things happen with material witnesses, police investigations and even protective custody.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kathleen Parker tells the truth

I guess she "got religion" so to speak and her eye-opening exposure to the Wingnuts has set her free.

So here she nails the GOP problem:


The pirate problem, unaddressed, naturally gets worse:

There's a lot of hand-wringing going on right now and eventually action will be required.

And everybody already knows what that action will have to be.

Intercepting pirates on the high seas is a stop gap measure and one very limited in effectiveness. It's better than doing nothing, but is no solution. The ocean is too big.

Since Roman times every maritime nation dealing with piracy has found that the only permanent solution is to clear out the pirate bases. If there's no power strong enough or with enough will to do the messy work then the pirates will flourish. Sooner or later the Somali coast will have to be cleaned up and the pirates suppressed at the source. The best solution would be for local authorities to do this, but it's been a generation since Somalia had a real government and there's slim prospects for any change on that front. So it will have to be the maritime powers, and especially the U.S. Navy doing it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

And so the wheels of justice slowly begin to turn

Scott Horton explains how the wheels of justice are slowly beginning to turn on Ameircan war crimes:

Quoting Judge Patricia Wald, a former judge on the Serbian war crimes tribunal:

Indeed, I was struck by the similarity between the abuse they suffered and the abuse we found inflicted upon Bosnian Muslim prisoners in Serbian camps when I sat as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, a U.N. court fully supported by the United States. The officials and guards in charge of those prison camps and the civilian leaders who sanctioned their establishment were prosecuted—often by former U.S. government and military lawyers serving with the tribunal—for war crimes, crimes against humanity and, in extreme cases, genocide.

There should be no confusion about what is being said here. One of America’s most prominent judges–and one of our few judicial experts on war crimes–is saying that the factual basis exists to charge officials of the Bush Administration. The test is fairly simple: is the United States now prepared to apply to itself the same legal standards that the United States applied to political leaders in the former Yugoslavia? It is in the end a simple question of justice. And a question of whether the United States is prepared itself to live by the standards it imposes on others.
Full site:

Friday, November 14, 2008

How to be a cartoonist

From an Army pub in World War II

Pardon moi? Bush considering blanket pardon on torture

Or so Salon reports ...

While prosecutions would be nice, I'm not sure they're likely to happen. But pardons may actually help get this sordid affair behind us by making it impossible for perps and participants to refuse to testify about what they did and knew.

One question that I don't think is clear is whether the president can pardon himself -- although I suspect he can, there being no real limits on the power. Indeed, a sufficiently mischievous man could empty the prisons and there would be no power to stop him. (I wonder of President Lex Luthor ever considered such a step?)

Anyway, one aspect of mass pardons I haven't seen addressed is how they could backfire. While it's true that a presidential pardon would absolutely bar any domestic prosecutions, I don't see how it could stop foreign authorities from pursuing war crimes trials. Indeed, it may provide them evidence! The potential defendants could be compelled to testify in U.S. proceedings and those public record proceedings could then be used by international courts for their prosecutions.

The crimes alleged to ave occurred are, in many cases, recognized as crimes against humanity internationally. As such they can be prosecuted anywhere in the world and have no statute of limitations. President Bush, VP Cheney, John Yoo, Addington and many others may never eb able to set foot outside the U.S. again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Way cool ...

I'm a big fan of Stuart tanks and therefore always enjoyed the old Haunted Tank series from DC, so I'm excited to hear it's coming back, even though the tank this time is an M1 Abrams.

Check out the cover and we see the possibilities ...

Great Photo Essay on Obama

Check them out:

P.J. O'Rourke on how conservatives blew it

Long, but worth the read:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

And right on schedule right wingers rediscover the virtues of limiting government power

Georgia Rep. Broun worries about a "dictatorship" by Obama because of some remarks that perhaps some national security tasks ought to be handed over to civilians instead of being militarized.

Read it here:

Now how Broun sees any brownshirts in all this is hard to say. I don't think a reasonable person would interpret Obama's comments that way, but we are talking about unreasonable people, here.

Obsiadin Wings makes a good point

There's a story going around about how Treasury essentially repealed, perhaps illegally, a part of the tax code resulting in a $140 billion tax windfall for banks.

Like the Obsidian Wings poster, I don't have the legal understanding to know if this was legal, nor the economic background to know if it was a good idea. But it sure doesn't smell right, so Treasury had better explain why this was a good idea. As Obsidian Wings noted:

Third, giving banks a huge unilateral tax break is the sort of thing that might as well have been designed to deprive the bailout of whatever popular support it might ever have had. We live in a democracy. People's opinions matter. The Treasury should remember that, and act accordingly.

Greenwald on the responsibility of the elites for the Bush horrors

Greenwald is rarely succinct, but here is one of the highlights:

As the Bush administration comes to a close, one overarching question is this: how were the transgressions and abuses of the last eight years allowed to be unleashed with so little backlash and resistance? Just consider -- with no hyperbole -- what our Government, our country, has done. We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result. We created secret prisons -- "black site" gulags -- beyond the reach of international monitoring groups. We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they'd be tortured, and then closed off our courts to them once it was clear they had done nothing wrong. We adopted the very policies and techniques long considered to be the very definition of "war crimes".
Our Government turned the NSA apparatus inward -- something that was never supposed to happen -- spying on our conversations in secret and without warrants or oversight, all in violation of the law, and then, once revealed, acted to immunize the private-sector lawbreakers. And that's to say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of people we killed and the millions more we displaced with a war launched on false pretense. And on and on and on.
Prime responsibility for those actions may lie with the administration which implemented them and with the Congress that thereafter acquiesced to and even endorsed much of it, but it also lies with much of our opinion-making elite and expert class. Even when they politely disagreed, they treated most of this -- and still do -- as though it were reasonable and customary, eschewing strong language and emphatic condemnation and moral outrage, while perversely and self-servingly construing their constraint as some sort of a virtue -- a hallmark of dignified Seriousness. That created the impression that these were just garden-variety political conflicts to be batted about in pretty conference rooms by mutually regarding elites on both sides of these "debates." Meanwhile, those who objected too strongly and in disrespectful tones, who described the extremism and lawlessness taking place, were dismissed by these same elites as overheated, fringe hysterics.
Some political issues, including ones that provoke intense passion, have many sides, but not all do. Not all positions are worthy of respect. Some actions and policies require outrage and condemnation, to the point where it becomes irresponsible to comment on them without expressing that. Some ideas are so corrupted and dangerous and indefensible that they do reflect negatively on the character and credibility of their advocates, on the propriety of treating those advocates as though they're respectable and honorable. Most of all, elites who seek out an opinion platform have a responsibility to accept that their ideas and arguments have consequences and they should be held accountable for what their actions spawn.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Whither the GOP?

While some of the more intellectual conservatives are starting a promising examination of where conservatism and the Republican Party may be going in the wake of Tuesday's stunning rejection, there's very little evidence that any of that thought is making it down to the Wingnut Base.

Indeed, judging from the blogs, talk radio and some of the GOP leadership (Boehner) the prevailing mood seem to be that all the GOP needs to do is be more conservative.

There's a lot of talk about how the U.S. is a "center-right" country, which may ore may not be true, but even granting that it's broadly correct the Wingies seem to be forgetting that the key word in that compound modifier is the CENTER. Moving more to the RIGHT by definition means moving away from the center.

This really makes no sense, whatsoever, but the Right has been suffering from mass delusion for quite a while now. While most see that Iraq was a mistake, Bush a failure and Palin an embarrassment, the Right remains out of step with the rest of the country to an alarming degree. I mean, we have people buying guns because they're afraid that Obama will take them away and putting ads on Drudge about joining the resistance!

I mean, really, Obama hasn't said anything about taking guns away and, indeed went out of his way to reassure gunowners. Even if he were so inclined, it's hard to imagine him spending any political capital on a futile, divisive and ineffective gun seizure plan when he's got a war to end, a war to win and an economic crisis to solve.

On top of all that, it would have been nice for all these gunowners to have been more concerned about the Bush administrations erection of a regime that claims the power to throw anybody it deems an enemy combatant (even citizens) in jail without judicial review for as long as it wants and, oh yeah, torture them. If these fools think they little guns will protect them from that kind of power then they haven't been paying attention. Remember Waco? No private party can hope to defend itself against the federal government by force of arms alone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama economic meeting

Fascinating and impressive list of participants.

Obama seems to have a kanck for getting talented people want to work for him.

If he can keep the egos in check enough for these sorts of folks to work together then we may see some very good things come out of the next four years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's speech

Pitch perfect:

McCain's best speech

He was eloquent, classy and conciliatory. He silenced the boo-ers and extended what truly seemed to be a sincere olive branch.

While I wish more of this McCain had been in evidence during the race, I am glad he went out on such a good note:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Worst case scenario for Lieberman

Is if the Democrats pick up less than what they need for 60, like enough to get to 57, say. Then Lieberman is not needed for the filibuster, yet they also are comfortably over 51 and don't need him for control, either.
In that case they may just cast him loose, wish him luck with his GOP buddies and plan to knock him off with a real Democrat next time he's up for re-election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not enough room in the GOP big tent, or is it a pup tent now?

Gun company president forced to resign by Internet hate because he revealed he was voting for Obama in a newspaper interview. Mostly because of the war, he says.

Os is the Republican "big tent" now a pup tent?

Slate - Encyclopedia Baracktannica