December 4, 2007

Tuesday roundup

I almost wrote "Friday" roundup. My weekly clock is messed up after guest-lecturing this morning. Man, do I hate that. Almost the worst gig in the business to lecture to someone else's class.

Anyway. Just a few things going on. First, what do we make of this nie report that says that Iran stopped its nukular program 4 years ago? Besides the obvious, that Bush and Cheney didn't want us to know that as they have been angling for a justification to bomb another country? As someone said on the blogs, this reinforces the unfortunate truth that we cannot accept anything this administration says on face value. We cannot trust them at all. And that is sad. Sure am glad he is a Christian. That makes this all better.

You can watch our President fumble around this question here. Sigh.


Oh, but what about our MSM? NBC Journalist David Gregory was asked to name the cause of the increased polarization in our political dialogue today, he said it was the bloggers. Yeah, that's right, the bloggers. Words of Power suggests that is a flawed idea:
Yes, of course, it was the bloggers who polarized the US body politic.


The bloggers impeached a popular President at a time of peace and economic prosperity over testimony in a civil suit involving sexual intercourse.


The bloggers swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, morphed Max Cleland's face into Osama bin Laden's in 2002 TV ads, and smeared John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.


The bloggers fired eight US Attorneys for pursuing Bush-Cheney associates and not pursuing Bush-Cheney adversaries. The bloggers made Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights optional.

The bloggers established a Gulag system, instituted torture and rendition, and started disappearing people. The bloggers stayed on vacation while New Orleans drowned.
So many reporters seem to misunderstand the satire of Stewart and Colbert and seem to miss just how much they are the targets of that criticism. If someone like Gregory doesn't understand just how badly the MSM has dropped the ball on the key questions of the day, well,....


Opinions You Should Have agrees and has a very funny take on Karl Rove's recent spinfest:
Karl Rove today said that George Bush's presidency would have been a great success if Democrats had not forced Bush to make countless numbers of flawed decisions that have led the country down the path toward national disaster.

"We wouldn't have invaded Iraq, we would have saved New Orleans, we would have staffed FEMA," said Rove. "It's all the Democrats' fault."

Rove went on to say that if voters wanted a change from the disastrous Bush years, they'd have to vote Republican. "It's sad how these Democrats mishandled the Bush Presidency."


More humor. A friend of mine has a bumper sticker that reads "Impeach Bush/Torture Cheney." I am not sure I like it simply because I don't want us to torture anyone. But it does point to a reality that the people in support of torture are more like our enemies than they think.


And what is that torture policy gaining us? Scott Horton suggests that we are losing the respect of our allies.
Is America a nation that tortures? The question is being asked all around the world. It’s not a matter of idle speculation. Under international treaties, which many nations, not being liberated by the law-what-law?mantra of the Neocons, treat very seriously, there are specific prohibitions about cooperation with nations which torture. In particular, there is article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, which forbids any state party to return a prisoner to a nation where he is likely to be tortured.

In 2006, I had an off-the-record discussion with the chief law enforcement officer of one of America’s most important allies. Having read the torture memoranda out of the Justice Department, and having seen the reports issued by the Department of the Army dealing with abuses in Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantánamo, I asked, is your Government in a position to engage in prisoner exchanges with the Americans or to allow American interrogators unfettered access to persons in your Government’s custody? He responded in a manner that showed the question had been studied carefully. “I can assure you that we take our obligations under article 3 very seriously. We will not speak publicly about this, but of course we have terminated cooperation with the United States in ways that would violate article 3. And of course we have reached the only possible conclusion, which is that the United States has embraced torture as a matter of formal policy.” This is a nation which continues to be one of our dwindling number of allies, but it faces increasingly steep challenges in cooperating while it complies with the requirements of law.

And this judgment is a very broad one—now shared almost universally by America’s allies. We don’t have to consider what the enemies think.

In fact, Canada's Federal Court has actually ruled that America does not
comply adequately with Article 33 of the UN Refugee Convention, which prohibits return to persecution, or Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, which prohibits return to torture — specifically naming the Maher Arar case as an example of the United States’ failure to protect.

As one of the experts who described the ways in which U.S. asylum law (in particular, the one-year filing deadline) violates international law, I am proud to note that the court found “the Applicant’s experts to be more credible, both in terms of their expertise and the sufficiency, directness and logic of their reports” and “more objective and dispassionate in their analysis and report” than the government’s experts. Of particular note, the Court found that “it would be unreasonable to conclude that the one-year bar, as it is applied in the U.S., is consistent with the Convention Against Torture and the Refugee Convention” and that this bar “has a disproportionate impact on gender and sexual orientation claims” for asylum. The Court also found that women making asylum claims based on domestic violence are not sufficiently protected under U.S. law.
And these are our friends. I am sure glad that Bush and Cheney have been given such a long leash.


steves said...

I think the majority of bloggers are crap (for lack of a better word), but I think the same can be said for most things (movies, literature, music, etc.). That being said, I think the polarization of politics is a myth. I just finished reading a book on the election of 1800. According to the author, Jefferson and Adams, and their parties, were certainly just as nasty and polarizing as any of the current ones.

I think the internet and bloggers have given a forum to discuss the issues. This may contribute to people being heard that wouldn't have had this chance in previous generations. I certainly don't remember a time where there wasn't some degree of polarization, though I wonder if some kind of consensus is possible.

As for torture, I am still shocked that this is an option. I certainly am no expert on international law, but it is so obvious that waterboarding falls within several definitions. Are people really that stupid?

Streak said...

I fear that most Americans don't care about torture. and yes, the administration is just that stupid. Their way is the only way.

ubub said...

I think Steve is on to something in looking at past elections. Are today's blogs, in terms of their role in the political 'discourse' (yes, I are a graduate student, kthx), that different from the numerous newspapers that openly allied themselves with parties and their candidates?

My sense is that there are more conduits of information and a greater degree of access (akin to more printing presses and more printing) than in previous generations, but in terms of proportionate access to information, it is probably similar.

This isn't clear, but hopefully one of you can make sense of this? Where's Anglican? He used to be able to interpret for me in seminars.

ubub said...

'It' being the ratio of highly partisan, yellow-journalism style discourse to all available information. So, 'Stretch' is wrong in this one.

i.m.small said...


"Because they were so very bad
Due process need not stand."
So goes the argument, my lad,
Simple, concise, and grand.

Because the threat is very great
Harsh measures are required--
Nor think that I exaggerate,
For our foes have conspired.

Our foes are Christ´s foes, son, and we´ve
Firstly got to survive
So to bequeath what we believe
To those not yet alive.

Therefore, as in the moslem way
Deal vengeance, eye for eye,
To win at any price, and slay:
Fear not, nor fear to die.

Christian in spirit, put on hold
The Christian precepts, till
The threat is beaten, when we bold
May saunter up that hill.

When all the enemies are gone
Then we may put our precepts on,
Give cheek for cheek, because by then
All men shall act like gentlemen--
But till that time, utopia hasn´t
Arrived so we must act unpleasant.