Suzanne Nossel tries her hand at advice to progressive candidates. I think it’s pretty good. Forthcoming in the Prospect I have a piece where we tried a bit of a gimmick — instead of an article about what a candidate ought to say, just write out a speech a candidate ought to give. I’ll provide a link when it’s available.
“We do not torture,” President Bush has said time and again. But Bush has approved techniques that are defined as torture under the Geneva Conventions. In fact, he abrogated U.S. compliance with Article 3 of the Conventions that specifically prohibits torture. Indeed, his then White House counsel and now attorney general Alberto Gonzales contemptuously referred to the Conventions as “quaint.”
In the infamous memo of August 1, 2002 written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the so-called “Bybee memo,” after Jay Bybee, its director and since appointed by Bush to a federal judgeship, the Conventions were shoved aside and the definition revised. Rather than the Conventions stipulations against “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment of prisoners and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment,” the administration adopted new standards: “Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent to intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” The Bush administration’s new torture policy prompted the export of torture technique from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib.
Bush’s torture policy is a centerpiece of his effort to concentrate unfettered power in the executive, an overarching change justified by an executive order declaring that in his role as commander-in-chief in wartime he can make and enforce laws at will. In my new book, “How Bush Rules: Chronicles of a Radical Regime,” I present and analyze the history of Bush’s radical attempt to impose an imperial presidency. Read more
“The first message was routine enough: a ‘Prepare to Deploy Order’ sent through Naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two minehunters. The orders didn’t actually command the ships out of port; they just said be ready to move by October 1. A deployment of minesweepers to the east coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed, but until now largely theoretical, prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.”
As you may have noticed, I’ve started including images with a lot of the posts here — one of the benefits of blog-consolidation is that I get to put more time into each post — which I think is kinda neat. It’s also worth pointing out that it would be an utterly infeasible method of operating without the combination of the Creative Commons search page and the Flickr photo-sharing website. The basic idea of Flickr is that you get an account, take some photo’s with your digital camera, upload them to your page, and then anyone can see them. Even better, though, the have a function where you can set it to, as a default, release your photos under a Creative Commons license. Then, with the power of untold numbers of (presumably amateur) photographers combined and searchable, a humble blogger has a vast photo library at his disposal.
This is one of those signposts of progress that’s essentially impossible to measure, but it’s real nonetheless.
Consider all the theories put forward to explain personality. Freud argued that early family experiences relating to defecation and genital stimulation created unconscious states that influenced behavior through life. In the 1950’s, the common view was that humans begin as nearly blank slates and that behavior is learned through stimulus and response. Over the ages, thinkers have argued that humans are divided between passion and reason, or between the angelic and the demonic.
But now the prevailing view is that brain patterns were established during the millenniums when humans were hunters and gatherers, and we live with the consequences.
This is precisely the rhetorical move Buller’s book is concerned with. You start with the notion that the mind/brain is a physical and biological system created by the process of evolution. This is what Buller calls “evolutionary psychology.” But then you leap to a rather different notion — what Buller calls “Evolutionary Psychology” — that the mind is a massively modular system whose models are adaptations to conditions prevailing during the Pleistocene epoch, i.e. “the millenniums when humans were hunters and gathers” or the “environment of evolutionary adaptadness.” Buller’s argument, and it’s quite convincing so far, is that while the evidence for evolutionary psychology is very strong, the evidence for Evolutionary Psychology is quite weak.
- “[T]he more we learn about the war’s conduct, the more we learn that the administration didn’t just make the normal sorts of mistakes that inevitably occur in wartime; it was almost criminally negligent.” In other words, Bush was really inept.
- “When the authority of government dissolves, people retreat to the safety of tribal solidarity, and under such conditions they can do savage things of which they never thought themselves capable. Once the expectation of chaos sets in, it can spiral out of control.” In other words, the sectarian divisions now plaguing the country are the consequence of poor initial management, and not the cause of problems.
- Last, the conclusion: “The funny thing is that, in other contexts, liberals don’t dispute the notion that Bush administration incompetence caused otherwise preventable catastrophes. Almost no liberal believes otherwise when it comes to, say, the response to Hurricane Katrina. If Bush could have bungled Katrina this badly, isn’t it just possible he could have done the same thing in Iraq?”
I think Katrina is a useful example to bring up in this regard. What I would say about it is that, clearly, the Bush administration badly mishandled that situation and, as a result, things became much worse than they might have been. On the other hand, though, it’s not Bush’s fault that a hurricane hit New Orleans. There was nothing FEMA possibly could have done that would have made a levy-breaching hurricane hit on New Orleans somehow non-catastrophic; Bush took a bad thing and made it worse, he didn’t take a benign occurence and make it bad.
A new ad opposing stem cell research in Missouri “warns that young women might sell their eggs for money” if the measure passes. In fact, the amendment specifically states “no person may buy or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research, therapies or cures.”
A judge has approved a November initiative that will allow voters in Sarasota, Florida, to decide “whether to continue using computerized voting booths or go back to paper ballots.”
A Nevada initiative to raise the minimum wage is backed by 77 percent of state voters, including 79 percent of independents and 64 percent of Republicans.
A Montana judge last week invalidated three right-wing ballot measures “aiming to rein in government powers,” citing what he called a “pervasive and general pattern of fraud” by out-of-state signature-gatherers.
Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) alleged that the U.S. military’s top uniformed lawyers were pressured by the administration for more than five hours to “sign a prepared statement” supporting the President’s proposal for military tribunals. Today on CBS’s Face The Nation, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) announced that he plans to hold a hearing investigating the incident. The JAG lawyers would be called as witnesses. Watch it:
Full transcript: Read more
During an appearance on C-SPAN, columnist Robert Novak was asked about his television viewing habits. Novak said, “somebody mentioned the Jon Stewart program, I’ve never seen that in my life and I will go to my grave never having seen it.” Asked why, Novak said, “I don’t see any reason for it. It’s a comedian, self-righteous comedian taking on airs of grandeur and I really don’t need that.”
Novak also said “I have a lot of problems with Chris Matthews” and won’t watch his show.
Any chance Novak’s views about Jon Stewart have something to do with this Daily Show feature?
Full transcript: Read more
Prior to the war, the administration stressed that the United States needed to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs and had connections to al-Qaeda. None of that turned out to be true.
Now, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has introduced a new rationale for the invasion of Iraq, high gas prices. From a radio interview last week:
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The fact of the matter is – if Saddam Hussein were still in power in Iraq, he would be rolling in petrol dollars. Think of the price of oil today. He would have so much money. And he would be seeing the Iranians interested in a nuclear program, he would be seeing the North Koreans developing a nuclear program, and he’d say well why shouldn’t he – and he would. So we’re fortunate that he’s gone.
Of course, one of the reason gas prices are high is instability in the Middle East — created, in part, by the invasion of Iraq.