I feel, I dunno, grumpy about the decision to grant John Yoo and Jay Bybee impunity for their role in torture. The situation calls for a really good post equal to the moral stakes, and I don’t know that I have it in me to write one. But Adam Serwer did one and John Balkin did.
I will say on behalf of Yoo that there’s something a bit odd about the dialectic that led so much opprobrium to attract to him personally. The crux of the matter is that serious violations of domestic and international law were committed thanks to orders given at the highest level. But it would be politically unthinkable to hold the front-line perpetrators of the torture accountable while ignoring the fact that their conduct was specifically authorized by the relevant officials. And it would also be politically unthinkable to put Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. on trial for their lawbreaking. So the idea of John Yoo as the villain began to take shape. And in the end it looks like even he’ll get away. People will make some noise about how maybe he should lose his job at Berkley, but in the end I’m pretty sure he’ll keep it.
One of the things that’s great about the United States is that we have the ability to sometimes casually beat other people at their beloved national sports—speed skating, hockey, whatever, we put up a good fight in everything. On to the world cup!
Canadians will have to console themselves with their efficient and equitable health care system.
How should scientists respond to the “he said, he said, he said, she said” media world we live in now that science journalism has died?
Another day, another major media outlet libels Michael Mann — and James Hansen.
In a new black eye for Newsweek, their lengthy attack on climate scientists has been exposed as relying on massaged data and tawdry innuendo. While they have already corrected a number of mistakes, they left a bunch in, and decided not to change the overall theme of their now baseless story. That would have meant gutting the sensationalistic headline and visuals they apparently believe they need to grab eyeballs for their ever-shrinking magazine.
But Newsweek needs to do more than simply change a few egregious mistakes in its piece. They need to issue an apology to Mann and Hansen — and Al Gore — and a big-time retraction.
Memo to scientists: You need to figure out a new communications strategy in a world where much of the media places more weight on a few discredited anti-science disinformers repeating long-debunked falsehoods a hundred times than they do on two major exonerations by leading academics and the country’s top scientists.
I’ve never found the idea of General David Petraeus as the 2012 GOP presidential nominee to be particularly plausible, but today’s performance would seem to really be the nail in the coffin. Nobody knows what his views are on domestic policy, but it seems impossible at this point to imagine a Republican nominee who believes in the rule of law and humane treatment of detainees. And that, in turn, is obviously a sad state of affairs.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, completed the reversal of his stance on global warming today on Meet the Press. When asked by NBC’s David Gregory if climate change is real, the former champion of strong climate action questioned “how much of it is man-made,” charging climate scientists with “data manipulation and controversy.” He then said a cap-and-trade system of market-based limits on global warming pollution would be a “disaster“:
The climate is obviously changing, David. The more interesting question is how much of it is man-made and how much is as a result of natural causes and patterns. Of course, we have seen data manipulation and controversy, or at least debate within the scientific community. . . . And the way you address it is we should all be in favor of reducing pollution. We need to do it in ways that don’t burden the economy. Cap and trade, I think, would be a disaster in that regard.
The paradoxical nature of advancing both propositions in a single post should be refutation enough, but assuming we’re restricting our attention to the monetary aspects of Zimbabwe’s governance issues it’s worth observing that the lowest inflation rate that Zimbabwe ever recorded was 7 percent back in 1980. From 1989-2000, Zimbabwe inflation was consistently in the double-digits. From 2001-2005 it was in the triple digits. And in 2006-2008 it got much higher than that.
Here in the United States, by contrast, inflation hasn’t been as high as 7 percent in over 20 years. And recently there’s been almost no inflation with “core” prices being remarkably stable and even slipping below zero. Meanwhile, the cost of energy supplies has fluctuated quite a bit for reasons that have to do with global supply and demand and have nothing to do with Barack Obama.
Whenever we have, perhaps, taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside….Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are nonbiodegradables. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick in the Central Command area of responsibility. Beyond that, frankly, we have found that the use of the interrogation methods in the Army Field Manual that was given the force of law by Congress, that that works.
I think that’s about right, though I would say that “the enemy” being able to make propaganda hay isn’t totally the main public relations issue here.
The issue is that foreigners in general don’t, for reasons that should be obvious, generally give the US government and its security forces the sort of benefit of the doubt that Americans are happy to offer. We are judged—and often judged skeptical—by what we actually do. So if we want professions of good-faith and humanitarian concern to be taken seriously, we have to deliver. The storyline “yes it’s true our bomb killed some innocent people yesterday, but taking the broad view we’re very solicitous of civilian life and we’re fundamentally the good guys and here to help” is one that may or may not be believed. Insofar as we act consistently like a law-abiding society that’s governed by humane values, then the story is more plausible. Insofar as we act like a brutal society with a double-standard for Muslim and/or brownish suspects that’s governed by Marc Thiessen’s sick values, then the story is less plausible.
To conservatives, America’s moral superiority is so self-evidence that it doesn’t need to be made real through moral conduct.
Glenn Beck’s dire warning yesterday at CPAC against progressivism — “the cancer in America” — was truly one for the Texas state history books. In exacting detail, Beck outlined for the uninitiated conservatives in attendance how progressivism is a dangerous form of mind control that has eroded our constitutional order and brought tyranny to our innocent shores.
What is a concerned patriot to do to recover his lost country?
According to the iron-clad logic of the chalkboard, the only way to combat this oppression is to fight for the repeal of the Progressive and New Deal eras and everything progressivism has ever done to this country. And here is what conservatives will get for this brave liberation of the body politic from the horrors of progressivism:
– No one will ever again have to work an 8-hour day or a 40-hour week or be forced to relax on the weekend. (Progressives established the legal framework for the modern workweek.)
– America’s children can get back to the factories. (Progressives banned child labor.)
– Rich people will have incentives to work again and their heirs will be free to find themselves. (Progressives established the graduated income and inheritance taxes.)
– The unemployed can take to the railways. (Progressives created unemployment insurance.)
– Women and minorities will be protected from the hardship of voting. (Progressives expanded suffrage and passed civil rights legislation.)
– The natural resources sector will have more opportunities to ply its trade on millions of acres of national parks and wilderness areas. (Progressives established conservation and the protection of American lands and waterways.)
– The nation’s food and drug supply can come in undisturbed from other nations. (Progressives created regulatory protections for consumers.)
– Citizens won’t have to worry about electing their own Senators or political candidates. (Progressives expanded the right of citizens to select their own leaders in Congress and in party politics.)
– Workers will be free to pay for their own accidents at work and won’t have to listen to meddlesome unions. (Progressives passed workers’ compensation laws and recognitions of labor unions.)
– The minimum wage will no longer harm our economy. (Progressives created a floor for wages.)
– People won’t have to suffer from the indignities of Social Security and Medicare in their old age. (Progressives passed basic social protections for the poor, sick, disabled, and elderly.)
Today on Face the Nation, former Secretary of Sate Colin Powell dismissed former Vice President Cheney’s claim that President Obama has made the nation less safe. Saying, “I don’t know where the claim comes [from],” Powell ticked off Obama’s national security accomplishments, gave a full-throated defense of using civilian courts to process terrorists, and said Cheney’s attacks “are not borne out by the facts”:
SCHIEFFER: Let’s talk a little bit about national security. The former vice president, you just saw him there, he has almost on a weekly basis, it says something about the president is putting the nation’s security at risk. … Has Barack Obama made this country less safe?
POWELL: Well, let me lay out a few positions and facts. … I don’t know where the claim comes that we are less safe. … In eight years the military commissions have put three people on trial. Two of them served relatively short sentences and are free. One guy is in jail. Meanwhile the federal courts, our Article 3 regular legal court system has put dozens of terrorists in jail. They’re fully capable of doing it. So the suggestion that somehow a military commission is the way to go isn’t borne out by the history of the military commission. [...]
SCHIEFFER: Your bottom line answer is no?
POWELL: The bottom line answer is the nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They’re trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don’t think that’s borne out by the facts.
For weeks, Republicans havebeenhammering Obama over his handling of the Christmas Day terror attempt, especially the decision to try Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in civilian court rather than a military commission. Many whined that Abdulmutallab had not been properly interrogated because he was read his Miranda rights. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even tried to score political points by insulting counterterrorism field agents. Of course, they ignored that President Bush treated shoe bomber Richard Reid in almost exactly the same way in 2001. And Obama’s rejection of torture has actually aided Abdulmutallab’s cooperation, not hurt it.
Later in the interview, Powell said that he has “no problem” with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being tried in federal court, though he would prefer the trial to be held some place other than New York City. Powell also reaffirmed his commitment to closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, saying it “has cost us a lot over the years in terms of our standing in the world and the way in which despots have hidden behind what we have done at Guantanamo to justify their own positions.”
Cheney and Powell have frequently been in heated disagreement with each other. After Powell warned last year that the GOP was in “deep trouble” because it was being led by far-right figures like hate radio host Rush Limbaugh, Cheney retaliated by saying that Limbaugh is a better Republican than Powell. Powell responded by saying that Cheney and Limbaugh have their own “version” of the party.
On Meet The Press today, Gen. David Petraeus refused to explicitly give his personal opinion about whether Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) should be repealed, but suggested that the time may be right. He said that he’s “not sure” that most servicemembers would care about fighting alongside openly gay men and women, and that he has personally done so without any problems. Petraeus also cited Gen. Colin Powell’s recent announcement that he believes now is the time to repeal DADT, and said that he supports Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ plan to review the policy:
GREGORY: Do you think soldiers on the ground in the field care one way or the other if their comrade in arms are gay or lesbian?
PETRAEUS: I’m not sure that they do. … You heard Gen. Powell who was the chairman when the policy was implemented, had a big hand in that, who said that yes, indeed, the earth has revolved around the sun a number of times since that period 15 months ago. You have heard a variety of anecdotal input. We have experienced certainly in the CIA and the FBI — I know, I served, in fact, in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations. Frankly, you know, over time you said, hey, how’s this guy shooting or how is her analysis or what have you?
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), also on Meet The Press, said he supports DADT. He claimed that “the military community” believes the policy “has worked,” so “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”