A Man with a Flashlight

Bruce Bawser puts his finger on it
May 23, 2007, 9:10 am
Filed under: The West

Andrew Sullivan gets it. In an interview:

BILL MOYERS: You describe so well the values of democracy, pluralism, tolerance and sexual equality that took root in modern Europe. Why aren’t they powerful enough to absorb and assimilate and mitigate these tribal customs?

BRUCE BAWER: I think that for one, I think that European leaders in many cases have lost confidence in the values of their own society. They’ve placed multi-culturism above democracy and freedom.

I sensed a similar attitude among many of my friends in the young left in America who were and are active in anti-globalization politics. I might not use the word muliticulturism, but there is a widespread devaluation of freedoms that are too hard-won to be treated with indifference. In this day and age it’s considered bad form to say we are better than anyone else – not in general, but even in any particular way. The irony, as Bawer points out, is that this hurts not only ourselves, but also the powerless within other countries and cultures who would be protected most by Western freedoms.


Two U.S. laws
May 19, 2007, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Hell, Let's Call it Torture, Politics

that the President might want to consider his own exposure to.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 113C > § 2340A

§ 2340A. Torture

(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 118 > § 2441

§ 2441. War crimes

(a) Offense.— Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.
(b) Circumstances.— The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act).
(c) Definition.— As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct—
(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;
(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;
(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or
(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3 May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol, willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

A glimpse into the Death Star
May 18, 2007, 11:13 am
Filed under: Politics

that the Bush white house has been these six years. Alberto Gonzales (when he was still on his way to the top, and a hot prospect for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) and White House chief of staff Andrew Card tried to extract John Ashcroft’s approval for their illegal wiretapping program at his hospital bed, when he was so incapacitated that he was not the acting attorney general. Ashcroft stood up to them even though he was lying down. I must say I gave the man too little credit.

Oh, and they were sent by the President, according to Bush appointee James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee (free partisan HQ).

Comey’s testimony caused Chuck Hagel to join the ranks of Republican senators calling for Gonzales to resign. The Washington Post reads Gonzales’ demise in the stars. Pray that they speak true. If ending American torture were a video game, Gonzales would be the boss at the end of level 1.

Politics in America start breathing again
May 18, 2007, 11:06 am
Filed under: Politics

Is this an unfair characterization? For several hair-raising years, it seemed that the opportunity provided by the 9/11 attacks would be successfully exploited by a cabal within the Republican party to seize the Congress’s (the voters’) power, re-draw the boundaries of freedom within the country on much smaller lines, and strangle all dissent.

I am by no means sanguine about what the Democrats can deliver – to me their mettle is not yet proven, and there is much reason to doubt them. But Senators Leahy and Spector (yes, not all Republicans surrendered) are trying to breathe life back into democracy. Letters like this one are a sign of life for our republic that I have been waiting far, far too long to see.

Somehow I don’t think the 1 Rove email that Justice found after “scouring” their computers will satisfy Leahy and Spector. Nor should it.

Right on the nail, from Ron Paul
May 18, 2007, 10:55 am
Filed under: Politics

“We should have a strong president – strong enough to resist the temptation of taking power that a president shouldn’t have.”

Paul cuts open the central fallacies of the Bush administration like so many tomatoes. And he exposes Giuliani and Romney for the fearful, compromised men that they are. You can see why the Republican establishment is terrified.

Then again, he also opposes the law giving citizenship by birth on American soil, blames volcanoes for global warming, and doesn’t seem to think Israel deserves our support. So I am charmed but not won.

Gonzales’ testimony in the House
May 12, 2007, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Politics

Keith Olbermann observes Gonzales reading from the same script he used in April:

“So that’s why you’re not going to answer the question, because you want to protect the integrity of the investigations.” Conyers speaks with deceptive slowness, but before you know it he’s around your neck like a boa constrictor.

Congressman Schiff used to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He seems to relish the twist of fate which now lets him grill the U.S. Attorneys’ boss. And he’s about the only one in the House who brings the sort of heat that the Senate brought to bear on Gonzales in April.

On the whole, a disappointing performance by the Representatives after April’s Senate hearings. Schumer alone, in his shark-like attack, made for great television then. These hearings were sleepy by comparison.

The Washington Post covers related stories here and here.

Pretty pretty
May 12, 2007, 11:50 am
Filed under: The West

The animated Bayeux Tapestry.